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Dirk Eddelbuettel: RcppSpdlog 0.0.6 on CRAN: New upstream

22 July, 2021 - 19:31

A new version 0.0.6 of RcppSpdlog is now on CRAN. It contains releases 1.9.0 of spdlog which in turn contains an updated version of fmt.

RcppSpdlog bundles spdlog, a wonderful header-only C++ logging library with all the bells and whistles you would want that was written by Gabi Melman, and also includes fmt by Victor Zverovich. No R package-side changes were needed or made.

The (minimal) NEWS entry for this release follows.

Changes in RcppSpdlog version 0.0.6 (2021-07-21)
  • Upgraded to upstream release spdlog 1.9.0

Courtesy of my CRANberries, there is also a diffstat report. More detailed information is on the RcppSpdlog page.

If you like this or other open-source work I do, you can sponsor me at GitHub.

This post by Dirk Eddelbuettel originated on his Thinking inside the box blog. Please report excessive re-aggregation in third-party for-profit settings.

Charles Plessy: Search in Debian's sources

22 July, 2021 - 15:24

Via my work on the media-types package,

I wanted to know which packages were using the media type application/x-xcf, which apparently is not correct (#991158). The https://codesearch.debian.net site gives the answer. (Thanks!)

Moreover, one can create a user key, for command-line remote access; here is an example below (the file dcs-apikeyHeader-plessy.txt contains x-dcs-apikey: followed by my access key).

curl -X GET "https://codesearch.debian.net/api/v1/searchperpackage?query=application/x-xcf&match_mode=literal" -H @dcs-apikeyHeader-plessy.txt > result.json

The result is serialised in JSON. Here is how I transformed it to make a list of email addresses that I could easily paste in mutt.

cat result.json |
  jq --raw-output '.[]."package"' |
  dd-list --stdin |
  sed -e '/^ /d' -e '/^$/'d -e 's/$/,/' -e 's/^/  /'

Junichi Uekawa: Added memory to ACER Chromebox CXI3 (fizz/sion).

22 July, 2021 - 07:53
Added memory to ACER Chromebox CXI3 (fizz/sion). Got 2 16GB SO-DIMMs and installed them. I could not find correct information on how to open this box on the internet. They seem to be explaining similar boxes from HP or ASUS which seem to have simpler procedure to opening. I had to ply out out the 4 rubber pieces at the bottom, and then open the 4 screws. Then I could ply open the front and back panel by applying force where the screws were. In the front panel there's two more shorter screws that needs to be opened; after taking out the two screws (that's 4+2), I could open the box into two pieces. Be careful they are connected, I think there's audio cable. After opening you can access the memory chips. Pull the metal piece open on left and right hand side of the memory chip so that it raises. Make sure the metal pieces latch closed when you insert the new memory, that should signify memory is in place. I didn't do that at the beginning and the machine didn't boot. So far so good. No longer using zram.

Junichi Uekawa: KVM switch.

22 July, 2021 - 07:52
KVM switch. I am using ES-Tune KVM switch to switch Linux and ChromeBox. The Linux side seems to be unreliable. Sometimes it complains USB cable is bad. Reboot doesn't fix it and reconnecting seems to improve the state. Unplugging power from the KVM switch seems to fix the situation sometimes. Could be the KVM switch issue.

Molly de Blanc: Updates (2)

22 July, 2021 - 03:57

I feel like I haven’t had a lot to say about open source or, in general, tech for a while. From another perspective, I have a whole lot of heady things to say about open source and technology and writing about it seems like a questionable use of time when I have so much other writing and reading and job hunting to do. I will briefly share the two ideas I am obsessed with at the moment, and then try to write more about them later.

The Defensible-Charitable-Beneficent Trichotamy

I will just jokingly ha ha no but  seriously maybe jk suggest calling this the de Blanc-West Theory, considering it’s heavily based on ideas from Ben West.

Actions fall into one of the following categories:

Defensible: When an action is defensible, it is permissible, acceptable, or okay. We might not like it, but you can explain why you had to do it and we can’t really object. This could also be considered the “bare minimum.”

Charitable: A charitable action is “better” than a defensible action in that it produces more good, and it goes above and beyond the minimum.

Beneficent: This is a genuinely good action that produces good. It is admirable.

I love J.J. Thomson example of Henry Fonda for this. For a full explanation see section three at this web site. For a summary: imagine that you’re sick and the only thing that can cure you is Henry Fonda’s cool touch on your fevered brow. It is Defensible for Henry Fonda to do nothing — he doesn’t owe you anything in particular. It is Charitable for, say if Henry Fonda happened to be in the room, to walk across it and touch your forehead. It is Beneficent for Henry Fonda to re-corporealize back into this life and travel to your bedside to sooth your strange illness. P.S. Henry Fonda died in 1982.

I don’t think these ideas are particularly new, but it’s important to think about what we’re doing with technology and its design: are our decisions defensible, charitable, or beneficent? Which should they be? Why?

The Offsetting Harm-Ameliorating Harm-Doing Good Trichotamy

I’ve been doing some research and writing around carbon credits. I owe a lot of thanks to Philip Withnall and Adam Lerner for talking with me through these ideas. Extrapolating from action and policy recommendations, I suggest the following trichotamy:

Offsetting harm is attempting to look at the damage you’ve done and try to make up for it in some capacity. In the context of, e.g., air travel, this would be purchasing carbon credits.

Ameliorating harm is about addressing the particular harm you’ve done. Instead of carbon credits, you would be supporting carbon capture technologies or perhaps giving to or otherwise supporting groups and ecosystems that are being harmed by your air travel.

Doing Good is Doing Good. This would be like not traveling by air and choosing to still help the harm being caused by carbon emissions.

These ideas are also likely not particularly new, but thinking about technology in this context is also useful, especially as we consider technology in the context of climate change.

Sean Whitton: Delivering Common Lisp executables using Consfigurator

22 July, 2021 - 03:30

I realised this week that my recent efforts to improve how Consfigurator makes the fork(2) system call have also created a way to install executables to remote systems which will execute arbitrary Common Lisp code. Distributing precompiled programs using free software implementations of the Common Lisp standard tends to be more of a hassle than with a lot of other high level programming languages. Executables will often be hundreds of megabytes in size even if your codebase is just a few megabytes, because the whole interactive Common Lisp environment gets bundled along with your program’s code. Commercial Common Lisp implementations manage to do better, as I understand it, by knowing how to shake out unused code paths. Consfigurator’s new mechanism uploads only changed source code, which might only be kilobytes in size, and updates the executable on the remote system. So it should be useful for deploying Common Lisp-powered web services, and the like.

Here’s how it works. When you use Consfigurator you define an ASDF system – analagous to a Python package or Perl distribution – called your “consfig”. This defines HOST objects to represent the machines that you’ll use Consfigurator to manage, and any custom properties, functions those properties call, etc.. An ASDF system can depend upon other systems; for example, every consfig depends upon Consfigurator itself. When you execute Consfigurator deployments, Consfigurator uploads the source code of any ASDF systems that have changed since you last deployed this host, starts up Lisp on the remote machine, and loads up all the systems. Now the remote Lisp image is in a similarly clean state to when you’ve just started up Lisp on your laptop and loaded up the libraries you’re going to use. Only then are the actual deployment instructions are sent on stdin.

What I’ve done this week is insert an extra step for the remote Lisp image in between loading up all the ASDF systems and reading the deployment from stdin: the image calls fork(2) and establishes a pipe to communicate with the child process. The child process can be sent Lisp forms to evaluate, but for each Lisp form it receives it will actually fork again, and have its child process evaluate the form. Thus, going into the deployment, the original remote Lisp image has the capability to have arbitrary Lisp forms evaluated in a context in which all that has happened is that a statically defined set of ASDF systems has been loaded – the child processes never see the full deployment instructions sent on stdin. Further, the child process responsible for actually evaluating the Lisp form received from the first process first forks off another child process and sets up its own control pipe, such that it too has the capacbility to have arbitrary Lisp forms evaluated in a cleanly loaded context, no matter what else it might put in its memory in the meantime. (Things are set up such that the child processes responsible for actually evaluating the Lisp forms never see the Lisp forms received for evaluation by other child processes, either.)

So suppose now we have an ASDF system :com.silentflame.cool-web-service, and there is a function (start-server PORT) which we should call to start listening for connections. Then we can make our consfig depend upon that ASDF system, and do something like this:

CONSFIG> (deploy-these ((:ssh :user "root") :sbcl) server.example.org
           ;; Set up Apache to proxy requests to our service.
           (apache:https-vhost ...)
           ;; Now apply a property to dump the image.
           (image-dumped "/usr/local/bin/cool-web-service"
                         '(cool-web-service:start-server 1234)))

Consfigurator will: SSH to server.example.org; upload all the ASDF source for your consfig and its dependencies; compile and load that code into a remote SBCL process; call fork(2) and set up the control pipe; receive the applications of APACHE:HTTPS-VHOST and IMAGE-DUMPED shown above from your laptop, on stdin; apply the APACHE:HTTPS-VHOST property to ensure that Apache is proxying connections to port 1234; send a request into the control pipe to have the child process fork again and dump an executable which, when started, will evaluate the form (cool-web-service:start-server 1234). And that form will get evaluated in a pristine Lisp image, where the only meaningful things that have happened is that some ASDF systems have been loaded and a single fork(2) has taken place. You’d probably need to add some other properties to add some mechanism for actually invoking /usr/local/bin/cool-web-service and restarting it when the executable is updated.

(Background: The primary reason why Consfigurator’s remote Lisp images need to call fork(2) is that they need to do things like setuid from root to other accounts and enter chroots without getting stuck in those contexts. Previously we forked right before entering such contexts, but that meant that Consfigurator deployments could never be multithreaded, because it might later be necessary to fork, and you can’t usually do that once you’ve got more than one thread running. So now we fork before doing anything else, so that the parent can then go multithreaded if desired, but can still execute subdeployments in contexts like chroots by sending Lisp forms to evaluate in those contexts into the control pipe.)

Antoine Beaupré: Hacking my Kobo Clara HD

21 July, 2021 - 08:44

I just got a new Kobo ebook reader, a Kobo Clara HD. It's pretty similar to the Glo HD I had but which has unfortunately died after 5 years, even after trying to replace the battery.

Quick hardware review

This is a neat little device. It's very similar to the Glo HD, which is a bit disappointing: you'd think they would have improved on the design in the 5+ years since the Glo HD has come out.. It does have an "amber" night light which is nice, but the bezel is still not level with the display, and the device is still kind of on the thick side. A USB-C (instead of micro-USB) port would have been nice too.

But otherwise, it's pretty slick, and just works. And because the hardware design didn't change, I can still hack at it like a madman, which is really why I bought this thing in the first place.

Hopefully it will last longer than 5 years. Ebook readers should really last for decades, not years, but I guess that's too much to expect from our consumerist, suicidal, extinctionist society.

Configuration hacks

Here are the hacks I done on the device. I had done many more hacks on the Kobo Glo HD, but I decided to take a more streamlined, minimalist and, hopefully, easier for new users than the pile of hacks I was doing before (which I expand on at the end of the article).

SD card replacement

I replaced the SD card. The original card shipped with the Clara HD was 8GB which meant all my books actually fitted on the original, but just barely. The new card is 16GB.

Unfortunately, I did this procedure almost at the end of this guide (right before writing the syncthing scripts, below). Next time, that should be the first thing done so the original SD card acts as a pristine copy of the upstream firmware. So even though this seems like an invasive and difficult procedure, I actually do recommend you do it first.

The process is basically to:

  1. crack open the Kobo case (don't worry, it sounds awful but I've done it often)
  2. take the SD card out
  3. copy it over to a new, larger card (say on your computer)
  4. put the larger card in

This guide has all the details.

Registration bypass hack

This guide (from the same author!) has this awesome trick to bypass the annoying registration step. Basically:

  1. pretend you do not have wifi
  2. mount the device
  3. sqlite3 /media/.../KOBOeReader/.kobo/KoboReader.sqlite
  4. INSERT INTO user(UserID,UserKey) VALUES('1','');
  5. unmount the device

More details in the above guide, again.

Install koreader

My e-reader of choise is Koreader. It's just that great. I still don't find the general user interface (ie. the "file browswer") as intuitive as the builtin one, but the book reading just feels better. And anyways it's the easier way to get a shell on the device.

Follow those instructions, particularly the NickelMenu instructions (see also the NickelMenu home page). Yes, you need to install some other thing to start koreader, which doesn't start on its own. NickelMenu is the simplest and better integrated I have found.

You might also want to install some dictionnaries and configure SSH:

  1. mount USB
  2. drop your SSH public key in .../KOBOeReader/.adds/koreader/settings/SSH/authorized_keys
  3. unmount USB
  4. enable SSH in koreader (Gear -> Network -> SSH -> start SSH)
Install syncthing

I use Syncthing to copy all my books into the device now. I was previously using Koreader's OPDS support with Calibre's web interface, but that was clunky and annoying, and I'd constantly have to copy books around. Now the entire collection is synchronized.

As a bonus, I can actually synchronise (and backup!) the koreader metadata, since it's stored next to the files. So in theory, this means I could use koreader from multiple devices and have my reading progress sync'd, but I haven't tested that feature just yet.

I chose Syncthing because it's simple, lightweight, supported on Linux and Android, and statically compiles by default which means it's easy to deploy on the Kobo.

Here is how I installed and started Syncthing at first:

  1. Download the latest version for ARM
  2. extract the archive
  3. copy the syncthing binary into .../KOBOeReader/.adds/
  4. login over SSH (see above, sorry)
  5. create the following directory: ~/.config/syncthing/
  6. create the following configuration file:

    <configuration version="18">
        <gui enabled="true" tls="false" debugging="false">
            <address>0.0.0.0:8384</address>
        </gui>
    </configuration>
    
  7. copy a valid ca-certificates.crt file into /etc/ssl/certs/ on the Kobo (otherwise syncthing cannot bootstrap discovery servers)
  8. launch syncthing over SSH: /mnt/onboard/.adds/syncthing

You should now be able to connect to the syncthing GUI through your web browser.

Immediately change the admin password.

Then, figure out how to start it. Here are your options:

  1. on boot (inittab or whatever). downside: power usage.
  2. on wifi (udev hacks). downside: unreliable (see wallabako).
  3. on demand (e.g. nickel menu, koreader terminal shortcuts). downside: kind of clunky in koreader, did not work in nickel menu.
  4. manually, through shell. downside: requires a shell, but then again we already have one through koreader?

What I have done is to write trivial shell scripts (in .../KOBOeReader/scripts) to start syncthing. The first is syncthing-start.sh:

#!/bin/sh

/mnt/onboard/.adds/syncthing serve &

Then syncthing-stop.sh:

#!/bin/sh

/usr/bin/pkill syncthing

This makes those scripts usable from the koreader file browser. Then the folder can be added to the folder shortcuts and a long-hold on the script will allow you to execute it.

Still have to figure out why the Nickel Menu script is not working, but it could simply reuse the above to simplify debugging. This is the script I ended up with, in .../KOBOeReader/.adds/nm/syncthing:

menu_item :main    :Syncthing (toggle)    :cmd_spawn         :exec /mnt/onboard/scripts/syncthing-stop.sh
  chain_success:skip:4
    chain_success                      :cmd_spawn          :exec /mnt/onboard/scripts/syncthing-start.sh
    chain_success                      :dbg_toast          :Started Syncthing server
    chain_failure                      :dbg_toast          :Error starting Syncthing server
    chain_always:skip:-1
  chain_success                        :dbg_toast          :Stopped Syncthing server
menu_item :main    :Syncthing (start)    :cmd_output         :exec /mnt/onboard/scripts/syncthing-start.sh
menu_item :main    :Syncthing (stop)    :cmd_output         :exec /mnt/onboard/scripts/syncthing-stop.sh

It's unclear why this doesn't work: I only get "Error starting Syncthing server" for the toggle, and no output for the (start) action. In either case, syncthing doesn't actually start.

Avoided tasks

This list wouldn't be complete without listing more explicitly the stuff I have done before on the Kobo Glo HD and which I have deliberately decided not to do here because my time is precious:

  • plato install: beautiful project, but koreader is good enough
  • wallabako setup: too much work to maintain, Wallabag articles are too distracting and available on my phone anyways
  • using calibre to transfer books: not working half the time, different file layout than the source, one less Calibre dependency
  • using calibre to generate e-books based on RSS feeds (yes, I did that, and yes, it was pretty bad and almost useless)
  • SSH support: builtin to koreader

Now maybe I'll have time to actually read a book...

Dirk Eddelbuettel: pkgKitten 0.2.2 on CRAN: Small Updates

21 July, 2021 - 05:35

A new release 0.2.2 of pkgKitten is now on CRAN, and will be uploaded to Debian. pkgKitten makes it simple to create new R packages via a simple function invocation. A wrapper kitten.r exists in the littler package to make it even easier.

This release simply corrects on minor aspect in the optional roxygen2 use, and updates the DESCRIPTION file.

Changes in version 0.2.2 (2021-07-19)
  • Small update to DESCRIPTION

  • Document hello2() argument

More details about the package are at the pkgKitten webpage, the pkgKitten docs site, and the pkgKitten GitHub repo.

Courtesy of my CRANberries site, there is also a diffstat report for this release.

If you like this or other open-source work I do, you can now sponsor me at GitHub.

This post by Dirk Eddelbuettel originated on his Thinking inside the box blog. Please report excessive re-aggregation in third-party for-profit settings.

Patryk Cisek: Authentication in an Enterprise

20 July, 2021 - 23:47
I’d like to shed some light at the process of Authentication since it’s a fundamental building block in creating secure tools that need to communicate with other actors over the network. When tools and/or users interact with one another – e.g., through a web browser – both ends of the interactions need a way to make sure, they’re communicating with the right party. Some bad actor might for example create a web page that looks like your bank’s online banking portal.

Enrico Zini: Run a webserver for a specific user *only*

20 July, 2021 - 17:39

I'm creating a program that uses the web browser for its user interface, and I'm reasonably sure I'm not the first person doing this.

Normally such a problem would listen to a port on localhost, and tell the browser to connect to it. Bonus points for listening to a randomly allocated free port, so that one does not need to involve some amount of luck to get the program started.

However, using a local port still means that any user on the local machine can connect to it, which is generally a security issue.

A possible solution would be to use AF_UNIX Unix Domain Sockets, which are supported by various web servers, but as far as I understand not currently by browsers. I checked Firefox and Chrome, and they currently seem to fail to even acknowledge the use case.

Another possibility seems unshare(1), but it seems to require root.

I'm reasonably sure I'm not the first person doing this, and yes, it's intended as an understatement.

So, dear Lazyweb, is there a way to securely use a browser as a UI for a user's program, without exposing access to the backend to other users in the system?

Access token in the URL

Emanuele Di Giacomo suggests to add an access token to the URL that gets passed to the browser.

This would work to protect access on localhost: even if the application cannot use HTTPS, other users cannot see packets that go through the local interface, so both the access token and the session cookie that one could send afterwards would be protected.

Antonio Terceiro: Getting help with autopkgtest for your package

20 July, 2021 - 04:00

If you have been involved in Debian packaging at all in the last few years, you are probably aware that autopkgtest is now an important piece of the Debian release process. Back in 2018, the automated testing migration process started considering autopkgtest test results as part of its decision making.

Since them, this process has received several improvements. For example, during the bullseye freeze, non-key packages with a non-trivial autopkgtest test suite could migrate automatically to testing without their maintainers needing to open unblock requests, provided there was no regression in theirs autopkgtest (or those from their reverse dependencies).

Since 2014 when ci.debian.net was first introduced, we have seen an amazing increase in the number of packages in Debian that can be automatically tested. We went from around 100 to 15,000 today. This means not only happier maintainers because their packages get to testing faster, but also improved quality assurance for Debian as a whole.

However, the growth rate seems to be decreasing. Maybe the low hanging fruit have all been picked, or maybe we just need to help more people jump in the automated testing bandwagon.

With that said, we would like to encourage and help more maintainers to add autopkgtest to their packages. To that effect, I just created the autopkgtest-help repository on salsa, where we will take help requests from maintainers working on autopkgtest for their packages.

If you want help, please go ahead and create an issue in there. To quote the repository README:

Valid requests:

  • "I want to add autopkgtest to package X. X is a tool that [...] and it works by [...]. How should I approach testing it?"

    It's OK if you have no idea where to start. But at least try to describe your package, what it does and how it works so we can try to help you.

  • "I started writing autopkgtest for X, here is my current work in progress [link]. But I encountered problem Y. How to I move forward?"

    If you already have an autopkgtest but is having trouble making it work as you think it should, you can also ask here.

Invalid requests:

  • "Please write autopkgtest for my package X for me".

    As with anything else in free software, please show appreciation for other people's time, and do your own research first. If you pose your question with enough details (see above) and make it interesting, it may be that whoever answers will write at least a basic structure for you, but as the maintainer you are still the expert in the package and what tests are relevant.

If you ask your question soon, you might get your answer recorded in video: we are going to have DebConf21 talk next month, where we I and Paul Gevers (elbrus) will answer a few autopkgtest questions in video for posterity.

Now, if you have experience enabling autopkgtest for you own packages, please consider watching that repository there to help us help our fellow maintainers.

Shirish Agarwal: BBI Kenyan Supreme Court, U.P. Population Bill, South Africa, ‘Suli Deals’, IT rules 2021, Sedition Law and Danish Siddiqui’s death.

19 July, 2021 - 05:13
BBI Kenya and live Supreme Court streaming on YT

The last few weeks have been unrelenting as all sorts of news have been coming in, mostly about the downturn in the Economy, Islamophobia in India on the rise, Covid, and electioneering. However, in the last few days, Kenya surpassed India in live-streaming proceeds in a Court of Appeals about BBI or Building Bridges Initiative. A background filler article on the topic can be found in BBC. The live-streaming was done via YT and if wants to they can start from –

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JIQzpmVKvro

One can also subscribe to K24TV which took the initiative of sharing the proceedings with people worldwide. If K24TV continues to share SC proceedings of Kenya, that would add to the soft power of Kenya. I will not go into the details of the case as Gautam Bhatia who has been following the goings-on in Kenya is a far better authority on the subject. In fact, just recently he shared about another Kenyan judgment from a trial which can be seen here. He has shared the proceedings and some hot takes on the Twitter thread started by him. Probably after a couple of weeks or more when he has processed what all has happened there, he may also share some nuances although many of his thoughts would probably go to his book on Comparative Constitutional Law which he hopes to publish maybe in 2021/2022 or whenever he can. Such televised proceedings are sure to alleviate the standing of Kenya internationally. There has been a proposal to do similar broadcasts by India but with surveillance built-in, so they know who is watching. The problems with the architecture and the surveillance built-in have been shared by Srinivas Kodali or DigitalDutta quite a few times, but that probably is a story for another day.

Uttar Pradesh Population Control Bill Hindus comprise 83% of Indian couples with more than two child children

The U.P. Population Bill came and it came with lot of prejudices. One of the prejudices is the idea that Muslims create or procreate to have the most children. Even with data is presented as shared above from NFHS National Family Health Survey which is supposed to carry our surveys every few years did the last one around 4 years back. The analysis from it has been instrumental not only in preparing graphs as above but also sharing about what sort of death toll must have been in rural India. And as somebody who have had the opportunity in the past, can vouch that you need to be extremely lucky if something happens to you when you are in a rural area.

Even in places like Bodh Gaya (have been there) where millions of tourists come as it is one of the places not to be missed on the Buddhism tourist circuit, the medical facilities are pretty underwhelming. I am not citing it simply because there are too many such newspaper reports from even before the pandemic, and both the State and the Central Govt. response has been dismal. Just a few months back, they were recalled. There were reports of votes being bought at INR 1000/- (around $14) and a bottle or two of liquor. There used to be a time when election monitoring whether national or state used to be a thing, and you had LTO’s (Long-time Observers) and STO’s (Short-Term Observers) to make sure that the election has been neutral. This has been on the decline in this regime, but that probably is for another time altogether. Although, have to point out the article which I had shared a few months ago on the private healthcare model is flawed especially for rural areas. Instead of going for cheap, telemedicine centers that run some version of a Linux distro. And can provide a variety of services, I know Kerala and Tamil Nadu from South India have experimented in past but such engagements need to be scaled up. This probably will come to know when the next time I visit those places (sadly due to the virus, not anytime soonish.:( ) .

Going back to the original topic, though, I had shared Hans Rosling’s famous Ted talk on population growth which shows that even countries which we would not normally associate with family planning for e.g. the middle-east and Africa have also been falling quite rapidly. Of course, when people have deeply held prejudices, then it is difficult. Even when sharing China as to how they had to let go of their old policy in 2016 as they had the thing for ‘leftover men‘. I also shared the powerful movie So Long my Son. I even shared how in Haryana women were and are trafficked and have been an issue for centuries but as neither suits the RW propaganda, they simply refuse to engage. They are more repulsed by people who publish this news rather than those who are actually practicing it, as that is ‘culture’. There is also teenage pregnancy, female infanticide, sex-selective abortion, etc., etc. It is just all too horrible to contemplate.

Personal anecdote – I know a couple, or they used to be a couple, where the gentleman wanted to have a male child. It was only after they got an autistic child, they got their DNA tested and came to know that the gentleman had a genetic problem. He again forced and had another child, and that too turned out to be autistic. Finally, he left the wife and the children, divorced them and lived with another woman. Almost a decade of the wife’s life was ruined. The wife before marriage was a gifted programmer employed at IBM. This was an arranged marriage. After this, if you are thinking of marrying, apart from doing astrology charts, also look up DNA compatibility charts. Far better than ruining yours or the women’s life. Both the children whom I loved are now in heaven, god bless them

If one wants to, one can read a bit more about the Uttar Pradesh Population bill here. The sad part is that the systems which need fixing, nobody wants to fix. The reason being simple. If you get good health service by public sector, who will go to the private sector. In Europe, AFAIK they have the best medical bang for the money. Even the U.S. looks at Europe and hopes it had the systems that Europe has but that again is probably for another day.

South Africa and India long-lost brothers.

As had shared before, after the 2016 South African Debconf convention, I had been following South Africa. I was happy when FeesMustFall worked and in 2017 the then ANC president Zuma declared it in late 2017. I am sure that people who have been regular visitors to this blog know how my position is on student loans. They also must be knowing that even in U.S. till the 1970s it had free education all the way to be a lawyer and getting a lawyer license. It is only when people like Thurgood Marshall, Martin Luther King Jr., and others from the civil rights movement came out as a major force that the capitalists started imposing fees. They wanted people who could be sold to corporate slavery, and they won. Just last week, Biden took some steps and canceled student loans and is working on steps towards broad debt forgiveness.

Interestingly, NASA has an affirmative diversity program for people from diverse backgrounds, where a couple of UC (Upper Caste) women got the job. While they got the job, the RW (Right-Wing) was overjoyed as they got jobs on ‘merit’. Later, it was found that both the women were the third or fourth generation of immigrants in U.S.

NASA Federal Equal Opportunity Policy Directive NPD 3713 2H

Going back to the original question and topic, while there has been a concerning spate of violence, some calling it the worst sort of violence not witnessed since 1994. The problem, as ascertained in that article, is the same as here in India or elsewhere.

Those, again, who have been on my blog know that ‘merit’ 90% of the time is a function of privilege and there is a vast amount of academic literature which supports that.

If, for a moment, you look at the data that is shared in the graph above which shows that 83% of Hindus and 13% of Muslims have more than 2 children, what does it show, it shows that 83+13 = 96% of the population is living in insecurity. The 5% are the ones who have actually consolidated more power during this regime rule in India. Similarly, from what I understood living in Cape Town for about a month, it is the Dutch ‘Afrikaans’ as they like to call themselves and the immigrants who come from abroad who have enjoyed the fruits of tourism and money and power while the rest of the country is dying due to poverty. It is the same there, it is the same here. Corruption is also rampant in both countries, and the judiciary is virtually absent from both communities in India and SA. Interestingly, South Africa and India have been at loggerheads, but I suspect that is more due to the money and lobbying power by the Dutch. Usually, those who have money power, do get laws and even press on their side, and it is usually the ruling party in power. I cannot help but share about the Gupta brothers and their corruption as I came to know about it in 2016. And as have shared that I’m related to Gupta’s on my mother’s side, not those specific ones but Gupta as a clan. The history of the Gupta dynasty does go back to the 3rd-4th century.

Equally interesting have been Sonali Ranade’s series of articles which she wrote in National Herald, the latest on exports which is actually the key to taking India out of poverty rather than anything else. While in other countries Exporters are given all sort of subsidies, here it is being worked as how to give them less. This was in Economic times hardly a week back

Export incentive schemes being reduced

I can’t imagine the incredible stupidity done by the Finance Minister. And then in an attempt to prove that, they will attempt to present a rosy picture with numbers that have nothing to do with reality.

Interestingly enough, India at one time was a major exporter of apples, especially from Kashmir. Now instead of exporting, we are importing them from Afghanistan as well as Belgium and now even from the UK. Those who might not want to use the Twitter link could use this article. Of course, what India got out of this trade deal is not known. One can see that the UK got the better deal from this. Instead of investing in our own capacity expansion, we are investing in increasing the capacity of others. This is at the time when due to fuel price hike (Central taxes 66%) demand is completely flat. And this is when our own CEA (Chief Economic Adviser) tells us that growth will be at the most 6-7% and that too in 2023-2024 while currently, the inflation rate is around 12%. Is it then any wonder that almost 70% are living on Govt. ration and people in the streets of Kolkata, Assam, and other places have to sell kidneys to make sure they have some money for their kids for tomorrow. Now I have nothing against the UK but trade negotiation is an art. Sadly, this has been going on for the last few years. The politicians in India fool the public by always telling of future trade deals. Sadly, as any businessman knows, once you have compromised, you always have to compromise. And the more you compromise, the more you weaken the hand for any future trade deals.

IIT pupil tries to sell kidney to repay loan, but no takers for Dalit organ.

The above was from yesterday’s Times of India. Just goes to show how much people are suffering. There have been reports in vernacular papers of quite a few people from across regions and communities are doing this so they can live without pain a bit.

Almost all the time, the politicians are saved as only few understand international trade, the diplomacy and the surrounding geopolitics around it. And this sadly, is as much to do with basic education as much as it is to any other factor

Suli Deals

About a month back on the holy day of Ramzan or Ramadan as it is known in the west, which is beloved by Muslims, a couple of Muslim women were targeted and virtually auctioned. Soon, there was a flood and a GitHub repository was created where hundreds of Muslim women, especially those who have a voice and fearlessly talk about their understanding about issues and things, were being virtually auctioned. One week after the FIR was put up, to date none of the people mentioned in the FIR have been arrested. In fact, just yesterday, there was an open letter which was published by livelaw. I have saved a copy on WordPress just in case something does go wrong. Other than the disgust we feel, can’t say much as no action being taken by GOI and police.

IT Rules 2021 and Big Media

After almost a year of sleeping when most activists were screaming hoarsely about how the new IT rules are dangerous for one and all, big media finally woke up a few weeks back and listed a writ petition in Madras High Court of the same. Although to be frank, the real writ petition was filed In February 2021, classical singer, performer T.M. Krishna in Madras High Court. Again, a copy of the writ petition, I have hosted on WordPress. On 23rd June 2021, a group of 13 media outlets and a journalist have challenged the IT Rules, 2021.

The Contention came from Digital News Publishers Association which is made up of the following news companies: ABP Network Private Limited, Amar Ujala Limited, DB Corp Limited, Express Network Pvt Ltd, HT Digital Streams Limited, IE Online Media Services Pvt Ltd, Jagran Prakashan Limited, Lokmat Media Private Limited, NDTV Convergence Limited, TV Today Network Limited, The Malayala Manorama Co (P) Ltd, Times Internet Limited, and Ushodaya Enterprises Private Limited. All the above are heavyweights in the markets where they operate. The reason being simple, when these media organizations came into being, the idea was to have self-regulation, which by and large has worked. Now, the present Govt. wants each news item to be okayed by them before publication. This is nothing but blatant misuse of power and an attempt at censorship. In fact, the Tamil Nadu BJP president himself made a promise of the same. And of course, what is true and what is a lie, only GOI knows and will decide for the rest of the country. If somebody remembers Joseph Goebbels at this stage, it is merely a coincidence. Anyways, 3 days ago Supreme Court on 14th July the Honorable Supreme Court asked the Madras High Court to transfer all the petitions to SC. This, the Madras High Court denied as cited/shared by Meera Emmanuel, a reporter who works with barandbench. The Court says nothing doing, let this happen and then the SC can entertain the motion of doing it that level. At the same time, they would have the benefit of Madras High Court opinion as well. It gave the center two weeks to file a reply. So, either of end-week of July or latest by August first week, we might be able to read the Center’s reply on the same. The SC could do a forceful intervention, but it would lead to similar outrage as has been witnessed in the past when a judge commented that if the SC has to do it all, then why do we need the High Courts, district courts etc. let all the solutions come from SC itself. This was, admittedly, frustration on the part of the judge, but due in part to the needless intervention of SC time and time again. But the concerns had been felt around all the different courts in the country.

Sedition Law

A couple of days ago, the Supreme Court under the guidance of Honorable CJI NV Ramanna, entertained the PIL filed by Maj Gen S G Vombatkere (Retd.) which asked simply that the sedition law which was used in the colonial times by the British to quell dissent by Mahatma Gandhi and Bal Gangadhar Tilak during the Indian freedom struggle. A good background filler article can be found on MSN which tells about some recent cases but more importantly how historically the sedition law was used to quell dissent during India’s Independence. Another article on MSN actually elaborates on the PIL filed by Maj Gen S. G. Vombatkere. Another article on MSN tells how sedition law has been challenged and changed in 10 odd countries. I find it equally sad and equally hilarious that the Indian media whose job is to share news and opinion on this topic is being instead of being shared more by MSN. Although, I would be bereft of my duty if I did not share the editorial on the same topic by the Hindu and Deccan Chronicle. Also, an interesting question to ask is, are there only 10 countries in the world that have sedition laws? AFAIK, there are roughly 200 odd countries as recognized by WTO. If 190 odd countries do not have sedition laws, it also tells a lot about them and a lot about the remaining 10. Also, it came to light that police are still filing laws under sec66A which was declared null and void a few years ago. It was replaced with section 124A if memory serves right and it has more checks and balances.

Danish Siddiqui, Pulitzer award-winning and death in Afghanistan

Before I start with Danish Siddiqui, let me share an anecdote that I think I have shared on the blog years ago about how photojournalists are. Again, those who know me and those who follow me know how much I am mad both about trains and planes (civil aviation). A few months back, I had shared a blog post about some of the biggest railway systems in the world which shows that privatization of Railways doesn’t necessarily lead to up-gradation of services but definitely leads to an increase in tariff/fares. Just had a conversation couple of days ago on Twitter and realized that need to also put a blog post about civil aviation in India and the problems it faces, but I digress.

This was about a gentleman who wanted to take a photo of a particular train coming out of a valley at a certain tunnel at two different heights, one from below and one from above the train. This was several years ago, and while I did share that award-winning photograph then, it probably would take me quite a bit of time and effort to again look it up on my blog and share.

The logistics though were far more interesting and intricate than I had first even thought of. We came around a couple of days before the train was supposed to pass that tunnel and the valley. More than half a dozen or maybe more shots were taken throughout the day by the cameras. The idea was to see how much light was being captured by the cameras and how much exposure was to be given so that the picture isn’t whitened out or is too black.

Weather is the strangest of foes for a photojournalist or even photographers, and the more you are in nature, the more unpredictable it is and can be. We were also at a certain height, so care had to be taken in case light rainfall happens or dew falls, both not good for digital cameras.

And dew is something which will happen regardless of what you want. So while the two days our gentleman cameraman fiddled with the settings to figure out correct exposure settings, we had one other gentleman who was supposed to take the train from an earlier station and apprise us if the train was late or not.

The most ideal time would be at 0600 hrs. When the train would enter the tunnel and come out and the mixture of early morning sun rays, dew, the flowers in the valley, and the train would give a beautiful effect. We could stretch it to maybe 0700 hrs.

Anything after that would just be useless, as it wouldn’t have the same effect. And of all this depended on nature. If the skies were to remain too dark, nothing we could do about it, if the dewdrops didn’t fall it would all be over.

On the day of the shoot, we were told by our compatriot that the train was late by half an hour. We sank a little on hearing that news. Although Photoshop and others can do touch-ups, most professionals like to take as authentic a snap as possible. Everything had been set up to perfection. The wide-angle lenses on both the cameras with protections were set up. The tension you could cut with a knife. While we had a light breakfast, I took a bit more and went in the woods to shit and basically not be there. This was too tensed up for me. Returned an hour to find everybody in a good mood. Apparently, the shoot went well. One of the two captured it for good enough. Now, this is and was in a benign environment where the only foe was the environment. A bad shot would have meant another week in the valley, something which I was not looking forward to. Those who have lived with photographers and photojournalists know how self-involved they can be in their craft, while how grumpy they can be if they had a bad shoot. For those, who don’t know, it is challenging to be friends with such people for a long time. I wish they would scream more at nature and let out the frustrations they have after a bad shoot. But again, this is in a very safe environment.

Now let’s cut to Danish Siddiqui and the kind of photojournalism he followed. He followed a much more riskier sort of photojournalism than the one described above. Krittivas Mukherjee in his Twitter thread shared how reporters in most advanced countries are trained in multiple areas, from risk assessment to how to behave in case you are kidnapped, are in riots, hostage situations, etc. They are also trained in all sorts of medical training from treating gunshot wounds, CPR, and other survival methods. They are supposed to carry medical equipment along with their photography equipment. Sadly, these concepts are unknown in India. And even then they get killed. Sadly, he attributes his death to the ‘thrill’ of taking an exclusive photograph. And the gentleman’s bio reads that he is a diplomat. Talk about tone-deafness

On another completely different level was Karen Hao who was full of empathy as she shared the humility, grace, warmth and kinship she describes in her interaction with the photojournalist. His body of work can be seen via his ted talk in 2020 where he shared a brief collage of his works. Latest, though in a turnaround, the Taliban have claimed no involvement in the death of photojournalist Danish Siddiqui. This could be in part to show the Taliban in a more favorable light as they do and would want to be showcased as progressive, even though they are forcing that all women within a certain age become concubines or marry the fighters and killing the minority Hazaras or doing vile deeds with them. Meanwhile, statements made by Hillary Clinton almost a decade, 12 years ago have come back into circulation which stated how the U.S. itself created the Taliban to thwart the Soviet Union and once that job was finished, forgot all about it. And then in 2001, it landed back in Afghanistan while the real terrorists were Saudi. To date, not all documents of 9/11 are in the public domain. One can find more information of the same here. This is gonna take probably another few years before Saudi Arabia’s whole role in the September 11 attacks will be known.

Last but not the least, came to know about the Pegasus spyware and how many prominent people in some nations were targeted, including in mine India. Will not talk more as it’s already a big blog post and Pegasus revelations need an article on its own.

Jamie McClelland: Google and Bitly

19 July, 2021 - 00:25

It seems I’m the only person on the Internet who didn’t know sending email to Google with bit.ly links will tank your deliverability. To my credit, I’ve been answering deliverability support questions for 16 years and this has never come up.

Until last week.

For some reason, at May First we suddenly had about three percent of our email to Google deferred with the ominous sounding:

“Our system has detected that this message is 421-4.7.0 suspicious due to the nature of the content and/or the links within.”

The quantity of email that accounts for just three percent of mail to Google is high, and caused all kinds of monitoring alarms to go off, putting us into a bit of panic.

Eventually we realized all but one of the email messages had bit.ly links.

I’m still not sure whether this issue was caused by a weird and coincidental spike in users sending bit.ly links to Google. Or whether some subtle change in the Google algorithm is responsible. Or some change in our IP address reputation placed greater emphasis on bit.ly links.

In the end it doesn’t really matter - the real point is that until we disrupt this growing monopoly we will all be at the mercy of Google and their algorithms for email deliverability (and much, much more).

Dirk Eddelbuettel: ttdo 0.0.7: Micro-tweak

17 July, 2021 - 22:29

A new (and genuinely) minor release of our ttdo package arrived on CRAN today. The ttdo package extends the most excellent (and very minimal / zero depends) unit testing package tinytest by Mark van der Loo with the very clever and well-done diffobj package by Brodie Gaslam to give us test results with visual diffs (as shown in the screenshot below) which seemingly is so compelling an idea that it eventually got copied by another package…

This release cleans up one microscopic wart of an R warning when installing and byte-compiling the package due to a sprintf call with an unused argument.

And once again, this release gets a #ThankYouCRAN mark as it was processed in a fully automated and intervention-free manner in a matter of minutes.

As usual, the NEWS entry follows.

Changes in ttdo version 0.0.8 (2021-07-17)
  • Expand sprintf template to suppress R warning

CRANberries provides the usual summary of changes to the previous version. Please use the GitHub repo and its issues for any questions.

If you like this or other open-source work I do, you can now sponsor me at GitHub.

This post by Dirk Eddelbuettel originated on his Thinking inside the box blog. Please report excessive re-aggregation in third-party for-profit settings.

Rapha&#235;l Hertzog: Freexian’s report about Debian Long Term Support, June 2021

17 July, 2021 - 22:20

Like each month, have a look at the work funded by Freexian’s Debian LTS offering.

Debian project funding

In June, we put aside 5775 EUR to fund Debian projects for which we’re looking forward to receive more projects from various
Debian teams! Learn more about the rationale behind this initiative in this article.

Debian LTS contributors

In June, 12 contributors have been paid to work on Debian LTS, their reports are available:

  • Abhijith PA did 18.0h (out of 14h assigned and 19h from May), thus carrying over 15h to July.
  • Anton Gladky did 12h (out of 12h assigned).
  • Ben Hutchings did 13.25h (out of 14h assigned and 2h from May), thus carrying over 2.75h to July.
  • Chris Lamb did 18h (out of 18h assigned).
  • Emilio Pozuelo Monfort did 29h (out of 40h assigned), thus carrying over 11h to July.
  • Holger Levsen‘s work was coordinating/managing the LTS team, he did 3.5h (out of 12h assigned) and gave back 8.5h to the pool.
  • Markus Koschany did 29.75h (out of 30h assigned plus 29.75h from May), thus carrying over 30h for July.
  • Ola Lundqvist did 10h (out of 12h assigned and 4.5h from May), thus carrying over 6.5h to July.
  • Roberto C. Sánchez did 12h (out of 32h assigned), thus carrying over 20h to July.
  • Sylvain Beucler did 30h (out of 30h assigned).
  • Thorsten Alteholz did 30h (out of 30h assigned).
  • Utkarsh Gupta did not report back about their work so we assume they did nothing (out of 40h assigned), thus is carrying over 40h for July.
Evolution of the situation

In June we released 30 DLAs. As already written last month we are looking for a Debian LTS project manager and team coordinator.
Finally, we would like to remark once again that we are constantly looking for new contributors. Please contact Holger if you are interested!

The security tracker currently lists 41 packages with a known CVE and the dla-needed.txt file has 23 packages needing an update.

Thanks to our sponsors

Sponsors that joined recently are in bold.

Andy Simpkins: Duel boot Debian and Windows

17 July, 2021 - 20:58
Installing a new laptop

‘New’ is a 2nd hand Thinkpad T470p laptop that I intend to duel boot with windows.
I have been a Debian user for over 20 years, I use windows at work for the proprietary EDA ‘Altium’, but I have never had a windows installation on my laptop. This machine will to be different – it is the first laptop that I have owned that has sufficient GPU to realistically run Altium.. I will try it in a VM later (if that works it will be my preferred choice), but for now I want to try a duel boot system.

So where to start?

Step one Debian wiki…

https://wiki.debian.org/DimentionedDualBoot/Windows

My laptop was purchased from a dealer / refurbisher. This means that they had confirmed that the hardware was functional, wiped it down and then installed a ‘clean’ copy of Windows on the whole system. What it doesn’t mean is that the system was set for UEFI boot and that the EFI partition is set correctly….

I turned on UEFI and made sure that Legacy BIOS mode was disabled.

Next I re-installed Windows, making sure to leave enough disk space for may later Debian install. (if you already have UEFI / secure boot enabled then you could skip the reinstall and instead re-size your disk)

Eeew! Windows now wants to show me adverts, it doesn’t give me the option to never show me ads, but at least I could insist that it doesn’t display tailored ads based on the obvious snooping of my web browsing habits – just another reason to use Debian.

Now to install Debian…

I want an encrypted file system, and because I want to dual boot I can’t just follow the guided installation in the Debian installer. So I shall detail what I did here. Indeed I took several attempts at this and eventually asked for help as I had still messed up (I thought I was doing it correctly but had missed out a step)

First the boiler plate DI
  • Download your prefered Debian installation media (I am using Bullseye AMD64 netinst beta), and drop this directly onto a USB memory stick (dd)
  • Put the USB stick in the laptop and select this as the boot device (on my thinkpad the boot device menu is F12)
  • I chose the graphical installation option, but only because it was less key strokes to select
  • Select your prefered Locale
    • UI language (English)
    • Enter your location (United Kingdom)
    • …and keyboard layout (British English)
  • Next DI comes up with a whole host of missing firmware for the detected WiFi – I can safely ignore this as I have a network cable plugged in (select No). If I want to enable WiFi I could choose to add media with the firmware at this stage or add it later.
    • I have a network cable plugged in and DI finds and configures my network setup (IPv6 and v4 with DHCP)
  • I enter a hostname (I chose to name my machines after lizards – this will be called skink)
  • I am asked for a domain name (I have koipond.org.uk configured)
  • You are then asked for some account details
    • I do not enter a root password as I want the root account login disabled
    • But I do provide my details for a user account
Now for the interesting bit – Partitioning the disk(s)

Select MANUAL disk partitioning…

I have the following partitions:

/dev/nvmen0p1
1.0MB FREE SPACE
#1 536.9 MB B K ESP
400.0 GB FREE SPACE
#3 16.8 MB Microsoft reserved partition
#4 111.6 GB ntfs Basic data partition
335.4 kB FREE SPACE

  • Create an partition for /boot
    • Select the 400GB free space
    • Create a new partition
    • Enter enough space of /boot (>100MB I select 500 MB)
    • place this at the beginning of the disk
    • Name it (boot)
    • Use as ext2 – we don’t want journaling here
    • Mount point – /boot
  • Set up encrypted volumes
    • We need to write the new partition table to disk before we can continue
    • Create encrypted volumes
      • select the large remaining area of free space
      • name it (skink)
      • write disk configuration
      • finish
      • let the system overwrite the partition with random
      • enter a passphrase for the disk
  • Set up LVM (inside the encrypted volume)
    • Select Configure Logical Volume Manager
    • Write changes to disk (we do this a lot)
    • Create volume group
      • Give it a name (VG-Skink)
      • Select the encrypted partition
    • Create logical volume (swap)
      • Select the volume group to use (VG-Skink)
      • Enter a name (LV-Swap)
      • Enter size of swap (32G)
    • Create logical volume (system)
      • Select the volume group to use (VG-Skink)
      • Enter a name (LV-System)
      • Enter size of swap (remaining space)
    • Finish

Set use

  • Select your LVM VG for swap
    • Use as: Swap area
    • Done Setting up partition
  • Select your LVM VG for system
    • Use as: Ext4 journaling file system
    • Mount point: / – the root filing system
    • Mount options: I select ‘discard’ (trim function as this makes a considerable improvement to the disk performance and life)

I now have the following partitions:

LVM VG VG-Skink
#1 32 GB f swap swap
LVM VG VG-System
#1 367.5 GB f ext4 /
Encrypted volume
#1 399.5 GB K lvm
/dev/nvmen0p1
1.0MB FREE SPACE
#1 536.9 MB B K ESP
#2 500.2 MB F ext2 /boot
#5 399.2 GB K crypto skink
#3 16.8 MB Microsoft reserved partition
#4 111.6 GB ntfs Basic data partition
335.4 kB FREE SPACE

  • Finish partitioning and write changes to disk
    • Write the changes to disk
Boiler plate debian install continues

The system will install a base system

  • Configure package manager – Select nearest mirror (I run a local mirror so select enter information manually)
  • Yes I do want to take part in “popcon” (Debian uses this as a guide to how many instances of each package are installed – I select this for anything other than test installs)
  • Software Selection
    • I will have a desktop environment and I currently use KDE
    • I would like an ssh server to be installed
    • I want the standard system utilities

Sit back and wait a for the system to install…

Well that didn’t take very long – Damn this new laptop is quick. I suspect that is nvme solid state storage, no longer limited to SATA bus speeds (and even that wasn’t slow)

Dirk Eddelbuettel: RcppArmadillo 0.10.6.0.0 on CRAN: A New Upstream

17 July, 2021 - 06:16

Armadillo is a powerful and expressive C++ template library for linear algebra aiming towards a good balance between speed and ease of use with a syntax deliberately close to a Matlab. RcppArmadillo integrates this library with the R environment and language–and is widely used by (currently) 882 other packages on CRAN.

This new release gets us Armadillo 10.6.0 which was released yesterday. We did the usual reverse dependency checks (which came out spotless and clean), and had also just done even fuller checks for Rcpp 1.0.7.

Since the previous RcppArmadillo 0.10.5.0.0 release we made a few interim releases to the drat repo. In general, Conrad is a little more active than we want to be with (montly or less frequent) CRAN updates so keep and eye on the drat repo (or follow the GitHub repo) for a higher-frequence cadence. To use the drat repo, use install.packages("RcppArmadillo", repos="https://RcppCore.github.io/drat") or update.packages() with a similar repos argument.

The full set of changes follows. We include the last interim release as well.

Changes in RcppArmadillo version 0.10.6.0.0 (2021-07-16)
  • Upgraded to Armadillo release 10.6.0 (Keep Calm)

    • expanded chol() to optionally use pivoted decomposition

    • expanded vector, matrix and cube constructors to allow element initialisation via fill::value(scalar), eg. mat X(4,5,fill::value(123))

    • faster loading of CSV files when using OpenMP

    • added csv_opts::semicolon option to allow saving/loading of CSV files with semicolon (;) instead of comma (,) as the separator

Changes in RcppArmadillo version 0.10.5.3.0 (2021-07-01)
  • Upgraded to Armadillo release 10.5.3 (Antipodean Fortress)

  • GitHub-only release

  • Extended test coverage with several new tests, added a coverage badge.

Courtesy of my CRANberries, there is a diffstat report relative to previous release. More detailed information is on the RcppArmadillo page. Questions, comments etc should go to the rcpp-devel mailing list off the R-Forge page.

If you like this or other open-source work I do, you can sponsor me at GitHub.

This post by Dirk Eddelbuettel originated on his Thinking inside the box blog. Please report excessive re-aggregation in third-party for-profit settings.

Russell Coker: Thoughts about RAM and Storage Changes

16 July, 2021 - 20:23

My first Linux system in 1992 was a 386 with 4MB of RAM and a 120MB hard drive which (for some reason I forgot) only was supported by Linux for about 90MB. My first hard drive was 70MB and could do 500KB/s for contiguous IO, my first Linux hard drive was probably a bit faster, maybe 1MB/s. My current Linux workstation has 64G of RAM and 2*1TB NVMe devices that can sustain about 1.1GB/s. The laptop I’m using right now has 8GB of RAM and a 180GB SSD that can do 380MB/s.

My laptop has 2000* the RAM of my first Linux system and maybe 400* the contiguous IO speed. Currently I don’t even run a VM with less than 4GB of RAM, NB I’m not saying that smaller VMs aren’t useful merely that I don’t happen to be using them now. Modern AMD64 CPUs support 2MB “huge pages”. As a proportion of system RAM if I used 2MB pages everywhere they would be a smaller portion of system RAM than the 4KB pages on my first Linux system!

I am not suggesting using 2MB pages for general systems. For my workstations the majority of processes are using less than 10MB of resident memory and given the different uses for memory mapped shared objects, memory mapped file IO, malloc(), stack, heap, etc there would be a lot of inefficiency having 2MB the limit for all allocation. But as systems worked with 4MB of RAM or less and 4K pages it would surely work to have only 2MB pages with 64GB or more of RAM.

Back in the 90s it seemed ridiculous to me to have 256 byte pages on a 68030 CPU, but 4K pages on a modern AMD64 system is even more ridiculous. Apparently AMD64 supports 1GB pages on some CPUs, that seems ridiculously large but when run on a system with 1TB of RAM that’s comparable to 4K pages on my first Linux system. Currently AWS offers 24TB EC2 instances and the Google Cloud Project offers 12TB virtual machines. It might even make sense to have the entire OS using 1GB pages for some usage scenarios on such systems, wasting tens of GB of RAM to save TLB thrashing might be a good trade-off.

My personal laptop has 200* the RAM of my first Linux system and maybe 400* the contiguous IO speed. An employer recently assigned me a Thinkpad Carbon X1 Gen6 with an NVMe device that could sustain 5GB/s until the CPU overheated, that’s 5000* the contiguous IO speed of my first Linux hard drive. My Linux hard drive had a 28ms average access time and my first Linux hard drive probably was a little better, let’s call it 20ms for the sake of discussion. It’s generally quoted that access times for NVMe are at best 10us, that’s 2000* better than my first Linux hard drive. As seek times are the main factor for swap performance a laptop with 8GB of RAM and a fast NVMe device could be expected to give adequate performance with 2000* the swap of my first Linux system. For the work laptop in question I had 8G of swap and my personal laptop has 6G of swap which is somewhat comparable to the 4MB of swap on my first Linux system in that swap is about equal to RAM size, so I guess my personal laptop is performing better than it can be expected to.

These are just some idle thoughts about hardware changes over the years. Don’t take it as advice for purchasing hardware and don’t take it too seriously in general. Also when writing comments don’t restrict yourself to being overly serious, feel free to run the numbers on what systems with petabytes of Optane might be like, speculate on what NUMA systems in laptops might be like, etc. Go wild.

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Jamie McClelland: From Ikiwik to Hugo

16 July, 2021 - 19:27
Back in the days of Etch, I converted this blog from Drupal to ikiwiki.

Junichi Uekawa: Bought BEHRINGER U-PHORIA 2-Channel UMC202HD.

16 July, 2021 - 07:30
Bought BEHRINGER U-PHORIA 2-Channel UMC202HD. My previous Q1002US mixer seemed to have unreliable right channel bus and was getting worried. MIDAS preamp, simple to use. Connect it to Linux box and it works as a USB audio device with two channel of input. It has two inputs and hence it will probably look like a stereo recording. If I connect my XM8500 it turns out to be on the left channel, for example. Looking at the waveforms, the noise floor is lower than Q1002US and I love it so far. Used my hack yesterday to confirm its behavior.

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