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Month: December 2020

2020 Year Review

Another year is up, and what a year it has been. I finally open sourced wbstack, I complained about fake news, looked at Minecraft mods and took a look at how COVID-19 was affecting Wikipedia page views.

I make this post mainly for me to be able to look back at each year in a small snapshot. You can find similar posts for previous years in 2019, 2018 and 2017.

Currently I generate this post in a very manual way, sifting through data from WordPress stats, Twitter Analytics and my Github user page. Maybe I should change that for next year!

Blogging

On the whole this blog continues to grow year on year, both in terms of content and readers.

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Google outage article by The Express ‘This could be 9/11 of hacks’

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I’m here after a certain Google outage lead to at least 1 sensational headline misleading some people that contact me asking for an opinion. I was aware of the outage at the time as I was trying to use Google products. The article headline that I dive into below just made me laugh at the time and I had to dive into it a bit more.

On the 14th December 2020 Google had a pretty large outage for nearly an hour due to problems with their User ID service, which makes up part of their authentication infrastructure. The postmortem of the incident is up explaining exactly what happened, as well as a less technical blog post.

On the day, and following the incident, there was quite a bit of media coverage on the topic. One article by The Daily Express stood out to me really aimed to mislead with its headline: Google DOWN: ‘This could be 9/11 of hacks’ Security expert admits grave concerns.

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Auto reloading pi kiosk script from Github

While at Newspeak House in 2020 I found myself wanting to change how the screens dotted around the place worked. A little bit of context is needed here. These screens were dotted around the communal areas, each attached to as raspberry pi, and each running a kiosk script to load a browser and website when they first boot up. The code for the screens is on Github, and the pis do not have SSH enabled…

I wanted to change the website that they pointed to. In essence this mean going around and modifying the kiosk script on 6 or so pis using a small bluetooth keyboard and mouse. While doing that, to avoid anyone needing to do it again in the future, I modified the kiosk script to automatically reload itself from Github.

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Open Sourcing WBStack

wbstack organization on Github

Open Sourcing the code and config for WBStack has always been part of the plan, although functionality came first throughout the first year or so. Finally there is a github organization for wbstack containing 16 public repositories that make up the entire deployment for wbstack.com.

This effort took a few weeks trying to split sensible components out of the original mono repo that was started back in 2017 that now has over 1600 commits, making sure that no secrets were swept up along the way, and also trying to preserve git history where possible.

Although everything is now on Github that doesn’t mean that it is clearly understandable just yet, or in the most sensible layout, that will come with time.

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