Wandering Thoughts


Link: [Firefox] Navigational Instruments

Mike Hoye's Navigational Instruments (via) is about a bunch of underknown or underappreciated features in Firefox. I learned some really useful tricks from the article, including this one:

  • Holding down Alt while selecting text allows you to select text within a link without triggering the link

(In fact I used the tip to copy the title of the article from the article, because in the article the title is a link to itself.)

You may already know some of these tricks, as I did, and not care about others (I don't make much use of the URL bar, now called the 'Quantumbar'), but there's likely valuable stuff here for every Firefox user.

FirefoxNavigationalInstruments written at 14:41:52; Add Comment


Link: Old-School Disk Partitions

Warner Losh's Old-School Disk Partitions (via) is a discussion of how disk partitioning worked and evolved in the early days of Unix, up through 4.3 BSD. This has more information than what I wrote about how major and minor device numbers worked in V7, because I missed that various disk device drivers had their own partitioning tables for minor numbers.

Warner Losh's blog has a lot of interesting writing on historical Unix things, so if that's one of your interests (as it is one of mine) it's well worth a look in general.

OldSchoolDiskPartitions written at 14:49:34; Add Comment


Link: Why Did Mozilla Remove XUL Add-ons?

David Teller's Why Did Mozilla Remove XUL Add-ons? is the answer to this question, from someone who works on Firefox. Firefox XUL Add-ons are the old and more powerful form of addons, which have now been replaced by WebExtensions as of Firefox Quantum.

I knew a certain amount about this area (and it's an interest of mine, since Firefox WebExtensions still aren't quite as good for my addons), but I didn't know all of the details and the article taught me things. I had never quite wondered what happened to Firefox's Electrolysis stuff, for example; the article answers the question.

(Via, itself via @mhoye.)

MozillaWhyNoXULAddons written at 22:33:01; Add Comment


Link: The Anatomy of a PromQL Query

The Anatomy of a PromQL Query (via) is a very clear and nice explanation of what goes into a PromQL query. It covers both the elements (metrics, functions, and so on) and the Prometheus data types you use (such instant vectors and range vectors). This is a very useful article because while PromQL is solidly documented, it doesn't have a concept overview that's as clear and straightforward as this.

PrometheusQueryAnatomy written at 21:43:23; Add Comment


Link: Mime type associations (on Linux)

Enrico Zini's Mime type associations (via Planet Debian) is about the practical side of fixing MIME type associations so that various types of files open in the right program on your Debian system. This is an area of interest to me, but I've never pulled everything together into one spot (and compactly) the way this article does.

(For my entries, there's how xdg-mime searches for MIME type handlers, how xdg-open picks which web browser to use, the basics of /etc/mailcap, and a cautionary story of mailcap handling.)

MimeTypeAssociations written at 11:54:37; Add Comment


Link: Code Only Says What it Does

Marc Booker's Code Only Says What it Does (via) is about what code doesn't say and why all of those things matter. Because I want you to read the article, I'm going to quote all of the first paragraph:

Code says what it does. That's important for the computer, because code is the way that we ask the computer to do something. It's OK for humans, as long as we never have to modify or debug the code. As soon as we do, we have a problem. Fundamentally, debugging is an exercise in changing what a program does to match what it should do. It requires us to know what a program should do, which isn't captured in the code. Sometimes that's easy: What it does is crash, what it should do is not crash. Outside those trivial cases, discovering intent is harder.

This is not an issue that's exclusive to programming, as I've written about in Configuration management is not documentation, at least not of intentions (procedures and checklists and runbooks aren't documentation either). In computing we love to not write documentation, but not writing down our intentions in some form is just piling up future problems.

CodeOnlySaysWhatItDoes written at 19:49:45; Add Comment


Link: Stop Using Encrypted Email

Stop Using Encrypted Email is about all of the fundamental reasons that you should do that, from Latacora. See also eg Patrick McKenzie, and the discussion on Hacker News where there are more comments from Latacora people (look for tptacek and lvh).

(Latacora people include Thomas Ptacek, who you may remember from Against DNSSEC.)

StopUsingEncryptedEmail written at 11:08:36; Add Comment


Link: Mercurial's Journey to and Reflections on Python 3

Mercurial's Journey to and Reflections on Python 3 is about what it sounds like, by one of the core maintainers of Mercurial. It also contains some interesting notes on why Mercurial is going to have to keep supporting Python 2 for quite some time and what some of the consequences of that are.

MercurialPython3Journey written at 17:27:01; Add Comment


Link: The asymmetry of Internet identity

David Crawshaw's The asymmetry of Internet identity is, among other things, a marvelously cynical yet pretty much completely accurate review of people's identity on the modern Internet in practice. I wish it didn't work the way Crawshaw describes it, but it does.

(Via lobste.rs.)

InternetIdentityAsymmetry written at 12:47:23; Add Comment


Link: GNOME Terminal Cursor Blinking Saga

Geoff Greer's GNOME Terminal Cursor Blinking Saga is about how to turn off cursor blinking in gnome-terminal, because the Gnome people are still in love with having their cursor blink despite it being a terrible idea and have progressively made it harder and harder to turn off.

Needing to look this up yet again did cause me to check the Gnome bug to expose a preference UI for this, which caused me to discover that you can actually easily turn this off these days, although not globally; you have to do it for each profile, turning off 'Cursor blinking'. If you have a lot of profiles and are the right sort of person, you may want to write a shell script that uses the gsettings approach, which still works.

(Why I needed to know this is that for my own reasons I'm doing a from-scratch Fedora 30 install in a virtual machine, and of course it came up with a gnome-terminal setup where the cursor blinks.)

GnomeTerminalBlinkingSaga written at 11:06:17; Add Comment

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