Moving the blog to PAX

Tags: Lisp, Tech, Blog

2020-05-05 -- After more than five years of silence, I may be resurrecting my old blog. I already got as far as rewriting it using MGL-PAX, which is a curious choice because PAX is a documentation generator for Common Lisp. The blog "engine" is rather bare-bones but works admirably, especially considering that the implementation is only 72 lines of code, most of which deals with post categories and overview pages with shortened posts, something PAX hasn't seen the need for.

Hung Connections

Tags: Tech, Blog

2011-02-27 -- My ISP replaced a Thomson modem with a Cisco EPC3925 modem-router to fix the speed issue I was having. The good news is that the connection operates near its advertised bandwidth, the bad news is that tcp connections started to hang. It didn't take long to find out that this particular router drops "unused" tcp connections after five minutes.

The fix recommended in the linked topic (namely sysctl'ing net.ipv4.tcp_keepalive_time & co) was mostly effective but I had to lower the keepalive to one minute to keep my ssh sessions alive. The trouble was that OfflineIMAP connections to the U.S. west coast still hanged intermittently while it could work with Gmail just fine.

In the end, OfflineIMAP had to be patched to use the keepalive and the keepalive be lowered to 15s:

sysctl -w net.ipv4.tcp_keepalive_time=15 \
          net.ipv4.tcp_keepalive_intvl=15 \

Oh, and always include socktimeout in the offlineimap config, that's more important than keepalive unless you never have network issues.

OfflineIMAP with Encrypted Authinfo

Tags: Tech, Blog

2011-02-26 -- I've moved to an OfflineIMAP + Gnus setup that's outlined at various places. Gnus can be configured to use ~/.authinfo as a netrc style of file to read passwords from and can easily use encrypted authinfo files as well. Offlineimap, on the other hand, offers no such support and passwords to the local and remote imap accounts are normally stored in clear text in .offlineimaprc.

For the local account this can be overcome by not running a dovecot server but making offlineimap spawn a dovecot process when needed:

[Repository LocalGmail]
type = IMAP
preauthtunnel = /usr/sbin/dovecot -c ~/.dovecot.conf --exec-mail imap

For the remote connection, ideally it should read the password from .authinfo.gpg that Gnus may also read if it's configured to access the remote server directly. This can be pulled off rather easily. Add an /include/ to .offlineimaprc like this:

pythonfile = ~/

where ~/ just defines a single function called get_authinfo_password:

import re, os

def get_authinfo_password(machine, login, port):
    s = "machine %s login %s password ([^ ]*) port %s" % (machine, login, port)
    p = re.compile(s)
    authinfo = os.popen("gpg -q --no-tty -d ~/.authinfo.gpg").read()

Now, all that's left is to change remotepass to something like this:

remotepasseval = get_authinfo_password("", "", 993)

Of course, .authinfo.gpg should also have the corresponding entry:

machine login password <password> port 993

That's it, no more cleartext passwords.

Upgrade Woes 2

Tags: Tech, Blog

2010-02-08 -- Debian Squeeze finally got Xorg 7.5 instead of the old and dusty 7.4. The upgrade was as smooth as ever: DPI is off, keyboard repeat for the Caps Lock key does not survive suspend/resume and the trackpoint stopped working. Synaptics click by tapping went away before the upgrade so that doesn't count.

Upgrade Woes

Tags: Tech, Blog

2009-11-06 -- Debian Lenny was released back in February. My conservativeness only lasts about half a year so I decided to upgrade to Squeeze aka Debian testing. The upgrade itself went rather smoothly with a few notable exceptions. With KDE 4.3 I should have waited more.


Space Cadet

Tags: Lisp, Tech, Blog

2008-12-15 -- Emacs users often report problems caused by strain on the pinky finger that's used to press the Control key. The standard answer to that is to map Caps Lock to Control. I believe that there is a better way:

Note the placement of modifiers: Control, Meta, Super, Hyper on both sides of Space in this order, with Control being the closest to it. Touch typers especially find having two of each key absolutely essential and the symmetric placement appeals to me.

... read the rest of Space Cadet.


Tags: Tech, Blog

2008-03-28 -- My carefully updated list of files to backup had grown so long that it made me worry about losing something important and the backup didn't fit on a single dvd so I invested in a WD passport and created an encrypted file system on it:

modprobe cryptoloop
modprobe aes
losetup -e aes /dev/loop0 /dev/sdb
mke2fs /dev/loop0
tune2fs -i 0 -c 0 -j /dev/loop0

... read the rest of Backup.

First post

Tags: Tech, Personal, Blog

2008-02-01 -- After a long time of waiting to write my own blog software like true hackers with infinite time do (and those irritated by Wordpress), I bit the bullet and installed blorg - a very low overhead emacs blog engine - on top of org-mode that I happen to use as an organizer. Blorg basically converts an org mode buffer to html files so it is completely static: send me email if you have comments, I have no desire to maintain a more complex solution with comment filtering.

Small fixes had to be made for blorg to be able to deal with org-mode 5.17a and I only had time to bring it to some basic level of functionality. That said here is the blorg-init.el file I'm using right now.

2020-05-03: Since then, this blog has been moved to MGL-PAX.