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Entries tagged software which should exist

In World War II the average age of the combat soldier was 26

13 July 2007 21:50

Bootstrapping non-Debian distributions suck.

The only available tool appears to be rpmstrap which quite frankly fails more often than it works.

Since my xen-tools project needs to do carry out this kind of operation I've been pondering the idea of writing a tool which will install CentOS/Fedora/SuSE into a directory, in a similar fashion to debootstrap.

If there's nothing out there that you can point to, then I think that will be my next project.

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We should just deal with nice people

16 November 2008 21:50

For various reasons I've recently been thinking about forums.

Many technical users dislike forums, because they are things that are hard to follow. Even with RSS feeds & etc you need to keep a login and remember to return to see if your post(s) have been answered.

However non-technical users love forums, and from a community-building perspective they're very cheap and easy. Particularly if you manage to appoint moderators from within the comunity.

I currently find myself in a position where I'd kinda like to have a forum package. Something that I can integrate into existing site easily.

Unfortunately most of the "best" forum packages are PHP-based, and have their own complex login, group, and admin facilities. That makes it hard to update them to authenticate against my existing MySQL table(s). (We'll leave my PHP-allergy in the background)

So, once more, I've been contemplating the bad route; create my own forum software. I'm well aware that down that path lies badness madnesss.

Let us recap. What is a forum?

  • A forum is an online site.
  • With a coarse list of topics.
  • Inside each topic is a list of threads.
  • Each thread is comprised of a number of (threaded) messages.

Sound familiar? It should if you use email:

  • ~/Maildir contains storage for a collection of mailboxes.
  • Each mailbox is a course list of topic-specific discussion.
  • Each topic is comprised of a number of (threaded) messages.

So, the unthinkable, could we convert (bi/uni-directinally?) from a Maildir hierarchy to an online forum?

Would that make sense? On the face of it. Yes.

There are implementation details - the forum index would be essentially a list of Maildir folders (perhaps "~/Maildir/topic1/.title" would be require to give it a pretty name).

Each thread topic would be a rendered display of the messages in the folder.

So, what are the drawbacks? Well reading Maildir folders gives us threading, and subjects, bodies, etc. But it does mean a fair bit of overhead parsing messages.

(Times like this I remember Hughe. Every time we've gotten together for beer & geekery the topic of an extensible perl-based IMAP server comes up. I'm sure it should be written ..)

I'll wrap this up now. I'm sure I've made the point. There are some details which have impact - Should the forum accept new posts online? Or only via gated email-delivery? Will it work? Should it be Maildir, or IMAP based? Still at least filtering your SPAM would be easy ;)

More questions. Some questions have no answers. Some answers we ignore because we don't like.

I need to sleep.

ObFilm: 007: Quantum of Solace

Bad film. Don't waste your pennies.



What would you have me do, Stephen?

6 November 2009 21:50

Things which should exist, but don't yet:

Transparent SQL Cache

Imagine a proxy listening on, receiving SQL Queries.

Any query that was "SELECT .." could return the result from a local cache for the appropriate table. Any query of the form "UPDATE" or "INSERT" would flush all caches for the table.

Should be near-trivial: Hash the incoming query & parameters via SHA1sum to get a unique key then store/lookup results in Memcached.

Would it be useful? I think so, but of course it depends on the application and the effort involved.

"Global status"

A single site that would rebroadcast a posted (short) status message to facebook/twitter/your chat client/etc/etc.

Hard part would be receiving comments from the sites it re-served to.

Scraping statuses from facebook is hard, not sure about twitter.

This concludes my Friday wishlist.

ObFilm: Master and Commander



Random tools I would use - and pictures

9 February 2011 21:50

So previously I talked about pictures. Having spent a while playing with some new lighting ideas I'll present three recent images:

Now that's out of the way lets talk software. There are two specific things I think would be useful to me right now:

Opportunistic "cron"

I've got a few jobs that don't take long to run, and I schedule for once a day when my systems are idle.

It'd be nice to have some long-running daemon which could trigger these odd-jobs (which do things like update my list of mutt mailboxes) when the system has been idle for >30 minutes, or some similar criterion.

Ideally I'd say "Run this job when the system is idle, but if the system is never idle run it once a day, or once an hour regardless".

Content-aware tracking software

I use rsync to archive images across a number of systems.

Imagine I rename a few images locally, I have to re-rsync even though ideally all I need to do is rename the contents remotely. The issue is remembering what I've changed.

So given:


If I rename "06-Indigo" then it's trivial to ssh to the remote host and do the same job. But what if I rename a bunch of individual files?

Ideally I'd be able to run something like:

~$ tool --snapshot ~/Images/
~$ mv Images/old.jpg Images/new.jpg
~$ tool --show-changes ~/Images
mv Images/old.jpg Images/new.jpg

I half believe git can do something like this, but it seems like you should be able to index the filename+SHA1+size to ~/.snapshot, then later do the same thing and output a list of "mv" commands.

Anyway; I'm drunk. I'm probably not making sense, and I need to sleep. Goodnight.

ObQuote: "Hello Mr. Svenning how have you been?" - Mallrats