Welcome to my humble corner of the net.
I’m Øyvind A. Holm (“sunny256” around the web), and this has been my personal site and playground on the net since I registered the sunbase.org domain in 2001. I’m a Norwegian software developer, part time musician and photo enthusiast. I live in Bergen, Norway, and I’m quite passionate about Open Source and Linux, freedom of speech, music and science.
Most of the places on the Net I hang around are listed on my Google profile.
I will try to keep most of this website in English, but now and then I’ll probably post things about local events, so in those cases I’ll stick to Norwegian. Hope that won’t scare you away. ☺
So, as we all know, Google will kill off Google Reader at 2013-07-01. Quite shocking for me, as I use it almost every day, and I thought this was a service that would stay around forever. Why shouldn't it? An RSS/Atom feed is a great tool for following lots of blogs and news sites without having to check every one of them to see if there's been any new posts since the last time I visited the site.
I could of course install some RSS reader on my laptop, but a tool like this really has to available online so I can use it from my mobile. Checked out several of the online readers available (those that wasn't overwhelmed by the sudden traffic increase, at least), but I came to this conclusion:
If Google Reader could be terminated like this, what guarantee do I have that the other services will not be terminated or bought by some corporation that will kill it off in a short while? There's lots of examples of this, and this taught me an important lesson: Don't make yourself dependent on external services for essential functionality.
So, the only viable solution would be to host the thing myself. And I think I've found the perfect tool for the job: Tiny Tiny RSS. This is an online multi-user RSS reader you can install on a server, log in to, and enjoy your precious RSS feeds in much the same way Google Reader provides. It's free software/open source, licensed under the GPL, source code available on GitHub.
It's sad that Google Reader closes down, but if it wasn't for this, I'd never discover this useful piece of software.
So it turns out that Microsoft has bought Skype for $8.5 billion. This happened more than one week ago, so I should really be embarassed about finding out just now, but I’m too pissed off to feel any sort of embarrassment. Having observed the behaviour of Microsoft for some decades, being an MS customer is not an option for me.
Skype’s CEO, Tony Bates, posted this blog post which starts like this:
Microsoft will acquire Skype
I’m excited to announce that Skype and Microsoft have entered into a definitive agreement whereby Microsoft will acquire Skype for $8.5 billion US. It is an exciting day for all of us at Skype – we’ve taken a significant step towards realising our vision of making the world a better, more connected place.
Such a positive and happy tone in that message, you’d almost think it’s good news. So I feel almost sorry for him when reading the user feedback; around 95% of the comments are either sceptical or downright negative to this deal. It’s true, I counted.
So I had to do my part:
Doubleplusungood. Skype, I used to think you were awesome, but I hate Microsoft even more. Everything MS touches turns into fecal matter and will at some point only be available for that platform.
They’re pure evil; have a look at the Halloween Documents as an example of the true nature of MS.
MS is better at making money than making software; even though my Linux system is stable and secure, my mailbox is still filled up by spam sent by hijacked windoze computers.
It’s bloody impossible to buy a laptop in Norway without the damned OS pre-installed. How is that even legal? The only way to not be forced to buy a crappy OS that I haven’t used privately since 1995, is to not accept the EULA, buying it secondhand or from abroad. And that’s how I do it. MS won’t get a cent from me. Ever.
Writing this comment without loads of cursing and swearing was immensely hard. You bet I wanted to use some more suitable words, but if I really could speak my mind about this, this comment would’ve been eradicated several times, and I’d probably be arrested.
In short: No more money from me, and no more PR for Skype. I’ve turned at least fifteen of my friends and relatives into Skype users, and I really repent that now.
Oh well. Life goes on with some other VoIP service.
From a former user since February 2005,
Let’s see if it passes the moderation filter. In fact I doubt that, the most recent comment is eight days old. Maybe the Skype moderators got tired of letting only bad news through?
One very useful feature in Firefox is the “smart keyword” functionality. This means you can create your own shortcut to Internet sites you use a lot by entering this keyword in the location field at the top of your Firefox window. For example, I have defined a keyword search named “wp” in Firefox, and this enables me to press CTRL-L (a shortcut for entering an address in the location field) and “wp KEYWORD” where KEYWORD is the term you want to search for. This sends a search request to Wikipedia, and I’m going straight to the article I want. Sounds interesting? Well, let’s demonstrate this by creating a smart keyword for a Wikipedia search:
- First, go to Wikipedia at http://en.wikipedia.org or another language version if you prefer that.
- In the “search” form, right-click your mouse while holding the mouse pointer in the form where you’d normally enter your search term.
- Select “Add a Keyword for this Search...”
- Enter a desired name for this search, for example “Wikipedia search (wp)” (without the quotes, of course) or something similar. I recommend you to include the keyword in the title, as it will be easier to remember when you get many more of these searches. Trust me, you will, when you get the hang of it.
- In the “Keyword” field, enter the keyword you want to use. Let’s use “wp” (without quotes) in this example.
- Press “Save”.
That’s it! You’ve now created your own keyword which takes you directly to the Wikipedia article of your choice. Let’s try:
- Press CTRL-L, or use your favourite method to enter the location bar.
- Let’s say we want to know what this “Internet” thing is that everybody keeps talking about. Write “wp Internet” and press Enter.
- Enjoy the interesting Wikipedia article about this new “Internet” phenomenon.
I can barely live without all my predefined searches, so I’m storing all my searches on http://delicious.com to make it available even if I’m using another computer. If you want to do this, you will have to register for a Delicious.com account (it’s free) and then install the delicious.com toolbar which enables you to store bookmarks and keywords on the Delicious.com server. When repeating the steps above, select “Add a Keyword for this Search In Delicious...” in step #3 instead of the one previously mentioned. Your new search keyword is now stored at Delicious instead of your local machine, and your searches are available anywhere, as long as you’re using Firefox and the Delicious toolbar.
For an example of what these keywords can be used for, visit my collection of Firefox keywords at http://delicious.com/sunny256/firefox_search to get some ideas.
This web site has gone through many stages, and I’ve used various types of software to host the content. First I used some homegrown content management system written in Perl for some years, and it worked pretty well. But I never got rid of the feeling that I was reinventing the wheel, and in some ways a worse one. I had a look at Wordpress, but as it was mostly aimed at blogging, I found it a bit too limited for my use. And it used MySQL only. I won’t touch MySQL with a three meter pole. Then I used Drupal for some time, and while it’s a great CMS, it was a bit overkill and it insisted on owning the whole web space. I felt I lost some control over the directory structure, and customising the layout turned out to be more hassle than I bargained for. This also conflicted with my love for the KISS principle, and I was never too fond of editing the content on the web anyway. I prefer to sit quietly on my computer editing the pages in my favourite editor, laying out the directory structure and then upload the result afterwards from my version control system.
So, this wonderful day in February 2011, I found Ikiwiki, and I immediately liked it:
- Ikiwiki is a wiki compiler and generates static XHTML pages. This means less strain on the web server in case of a DoS attack or (I’d wish) a potential slashdotting.
- The generated pages validate as XHTML 1.0 Strict at http://validator.w3.org. This is an important feature where too many CMSes fail.
- It lets you sit offline and create your pages, commit your changes into a version control system like Git and then push the changes when you’re on the net again. Unfinished content can be placed on revision branches and merged into the mainline when it’s ready to be presented to the world.
- The web pages can also be edited directly from the web if an Internet café or mobile phone is all that’s available at the moment.
- It’s written in Perl. I love Perl.
- It supports OpenID. I love that too.
- Let’s face it, even if you know XHTML, it’s a bit cumbersome to insert tags and elements in the text, even though there’s at least one neat Vim plugin available. Ikiwiki uses MarkDown by default, and turns text typing into a breeze. If MarkDown is not your cup of tea, other markup languages can be used instead, and if you need to insert raw XHTML into the text for special purposes or use it for the whole page, you can still do that.
- As the name suggests, it’s a wiki everyone or a designated group of users can edit. I’ve restricted this in the beginning due to all the parasites (spammers) that overflow the net, but I’ll probably loosen that up a bit when I’m more familiar with the Ikiwiki software. I notice most other installations of Ikiwiki have enabled this feature, so it can’t be that bad. Maybe I’m a bit paranoid after getting my Drupal installation polluted into a bloody mess in a few weeks.
- Because the backend of the site is stored in a version control system (Git, Subversion, Mercurial, bzr, Monotone, Darcs, tla, or CVS), changes are easily reverted, and the whole history of the site is preserved. What could be more fun than having a look at how your site looked ten years ago? (Well, probably lots of things, but you know what I mean.) It’s even possible to allow anonymous users to push changes into the wiki/website using the version control system.
- It separates content and software. The only files that end up in the VCS is the content you create, and this makes upgrading the software safe and easy. Even if the upgrade should fail, you still have your valuable content safely stored until the upgrade is properly in place.
- Most of the implementation choices made by Joey Hess (the creator of the software) are right up my alley and I feel very comfortable with the overall philosophy of the software.
- Oh, and it’s free software. That’s the most important reason of them all, and guarantees that the software will remain free for the rest of my life. And frankly, after that I don’t give a damn.
I’m using ikiwiki here, and it’s totally awesome.