New Job, New Tools

I’ve started a new job recently and with it came a new, very nice, laptop. And of course my whole “workflow” is changing so that’s pushed me to look at some new tools for doing my job. I like to tinker with new tools and utilities from time to time.

tmux

First up is tmux. I’m a long-time user and fan of GNU screen for terminal management. When I discovered it somewhere around 1999 it was a revelation. The ability to detach and reconnect to terminal sessions and not lose that state is critical. And it would do a great job of logging content in buffer windows for me to build documentation. At my last job I had screen sessions with multiple windows and other ssh sessions running on servers for months at a time.

A few months ago a friend introduced me to tmux. I’d heard of it but never investigated. And it truly is a fantastic tool for the job. Screen was weak when it came to collaboration and tmux covers that capability much better. The way I used screen keeping it logged in at all times fits in with the tmux server->client design. The scriptability, better syntax, and multiple panes seal the deal. GNU screen is great. tmux is even better.

solarized colors

I’ve used the solarized color scheme for a while now. Since I spend a lot of time on the terminal, I really appreciate the focus on making things easier on the eyes. So my tmux is solarized, vim is solarized, the terminal is solarized, and even dircolors is solarized.

Emacs

I was a user of Emacs for years. I did eveything in Emacs as many Emacs users do. Somewhere on a backup drive I have a fairly massive .emacs from back in the day. I stopped living in Emacs when I moved to my previous workplace where we were a heavy Solaris shop and Emacs wasn’t typically installed. I realized I had to get very comfortable with vi and so I did. A friend of mine who does a lot of coding pointed me to Emacs and he was surprised to find I had been such a heavy user in the past. This prompted me to take a look and start using it again. Not sure if it will stick as one of my “go to” tools but it’s worth another look. If I start doing more automation work in Python and other tools, the coding environment in Emacs is compelling.

VIM

VIM remains a key part of the toolkit. And it may win out for me in the end. I’ve used it extensively the last 9 years in addition to vanilla vi. The tools and coding features of VIM certainly rival Emacs. For me it’s going to be a matter of comfort with workflow more than one tool having more capability than the other.

parallel-ssh

In my previous work environment I managed a whole lot of 7-mode NetApp filers. So I used tentakel, a python script, to ssh to multiple hosts at a time to update options, perform commands, or grab information. I had filers and switches and other hosts in various logical groups in my .tentakel.conf config file. The only downfall of tentakel is that appears to be unmaintained although there is a relatively recent release on github

So I hunted for a replacement and rather like parallel-ssh. It works similarly with minimal requirements. It has a few additional bells and whistles including colored output. It doesn’t take a nice config file like tentakel so you would have to group hostnames in various individual files but that’s not such a big deal.

git for config file management

This is kind of a new one for me as well. I was previously putting more complex dotfiles and config files in Dropbox and symlinking them back to their expected location in $HOME. Dropbox does have the additional advantage of file versioning as well. But of course git is the tool of choice for file versioning. I like that it’s all local and that I can maintain my own private git repository for files with more sensitive data. So inspired by this post I set out to do it.

Setting up gitlab was a bit more lengthy than I anticipated but it’s all working well now. I went with the 3rd option in the digitalocean post for configfiles with them residing in my home dir but having a config dir to hold the git bits with an .git option file and a .gitignore in the home folder as well so only files I add with git add are managed. I then do a git commit -m and git push origin master to update the remote repository. updating additional hosts is a simple git pull origin master from my gitlab instance. If I put a bum option in my .emacs, reverting back is easy. And I can create branches for other host types down the road.

Nola City Bark Opening Day

We attended the opening day of Nola City Bark with our rescue Frenchie Wyatt Earp and our pug Bugsy.  We had a great time as did the little dogs. As one owner said, “I’m not sure who is happier here, the dogs or their people.”  I put together the video below and set it to Django Reinhardt’s “Minor Swing”.  Watch it and smile along.

Nola City Bark Opening Day from Scott Harney on Vimeo.

Sometimes it’s the big things, like the Saints winning the Super Bowl and electing a new mayor.  Other times, it’s the little things.  Katie’s in Mid-City has finally reopened.  Jennifer and I had our rehearsal dinner there in 2004.

Who Dat!!!!

Elation.  Jubilation. Pandemonium. Ecstasy.  Bedlam. Delirium. Joy.

There’s no English word in existence to convey the emotion of the people in this city and this region after the Saints win in Super Bowl XLIV.  I want to capture and keep it and take it out every once in a while when I need it.  So this post will have to suffice as preservation of the memory of an unforgettable experience.

The day began with our annual Barkus parade pilgrimage.  This was Bugsy’s ninth outing and Wyatt’s first.  The “Tailgate” theme was of course tied to the Saints.  The French Quarter was packed as it seemed that is many people poured into New Orleans for the Super Bowl as Miami.  Barkus’ short walking route actually crosses Bourbon which was solid with people so I had to pick up Bugsy. My favorite moment was holding him up to push through the crush as he scowled and started swatting at people passing by with his front paws.

We decided to make the day a neighborhood night, going to the nearby Bridge Lounge to take it in.  They were taking donations for Doctors Without Borders for Haiti and serving free food all night. Sounded like a great deal to us so we joined the packed crowd inside and took seats in the rear.

Spirits were high and cheering, Who Datting and dancing broke out even before the kick off.  The first half was tense as initially Manning picked us apart to take a 10-0 lead and our offense couldn’t get anything going.  But we started driving and things started getting riled up a bit with people cheering every offensive play of every drive.  The guy in front of me at one point asked if we were local because he thought we were too quiet and subdued.  I explained to him that we were in fact local and that I wasn’t subdued; I couldn’t breathe.  I couldn’t believe we were here and there was this growing realization that we were going to take this thing.

And then came the onside kick to open the second half. Things just went wild from that point on.  We were screaming at every play of every drive like it was a near touchdown. Watching Drew push that offense methodically, decisively down the field was just amazing.  And you could just feel that we had the thing.

And finally Manning, like Farve before him, made his mistake. And Porter, for the second time, made the pick except this time it went all the way in to put us up by two touchdowns. It was very hard to watch the game after that.  Just sitting here writing about it and I can feel my pulse quicken and the adrenaline rush in.  We danced and sang and screamed and knew that tonight would be unlike any other in New Orleans.

We made sure to stay and watch the trophy presentation and let the tears come as Brees held up his son Baylen. Because, after all, this was always about much more than football.  After that there was only one thing to do. The same thing all of New Orleans and all of Southern Louisiana and Mississippi wanted to do — take to the streets and share this moment with everyone else who understood and felt like we did.

I can’t really describe the night. I hugged more strangers than I could ever have imagined.  We danced and sang and marveled as NOPD blocked off downtown from Poydras to Rampart to Esplanade and the River as people just poured into the city.  As someone said, we don’t burn cars here, we dance on ‘em!  New Orleans is a town known for celebrating life, the moment and its culture and traditions, but this was all that and more.  We had just elected a new mayor the day before by a huge margin.  Something has changed.   This was always about so much more than a game.

Here are my pics from the evening.  And here is Barkus and as a bonus, my pics from the NFC Championship game.  I’ll post more of my own videos from that night and the parade two days later soon.

This is by far my favorite video of the post-game party in the streets. This is Uptown on Magazine.

Saints Superbowl Victory Celebration from Cottage Films on Vimeo.

This video, which accompanies this ESPN column is by far the best explanation I can find to put this Saints season into context.  Also, this editorial by Richard Campanella is required reading.

Next, here is Drew Brees at Lucy’s in the Warehouse District after the parade, teaching the patrons a pre-game warmup chant:

Last but not least, here’s my own video of Super Bowl night, first from the Bridge Lounge in the Lower Garden and then heading down into the Quarter after the game:

I recently installed Linux Mint (ubuntu with some goodies) on a laptop and wanted an encrypted whole disk. In order for this to be truly secure, you need encrypted swap. Well most of the HOWTOs for encrypting swap use a randomized key. This breaks hibernate to disk for laptops because the linux kernel has no way to decrypt a randomized cipher (of course). So I referenced a separate howto and combined the two approaches. I can now hibernate to disk using an encrypted swap partition that is protected with a passphrase in the same as way as root and home partitions.

It should be apparent this howto is non-trivial.  The config file changes I supply in it are in diff -u format so this is deliberately written for a technical audience. My research indicates that there is some interest in getting this into distributions in a more elegant fashion, but that kind of deep integration takes time. I needed something that works for me now.

Anyway, here’s the link in the Linux Mint user forums:

WordPress upgrade

Well Twitter was all abuzz about a WordPress worm and sure enough a worm had been circulating attacking old versions of wordpress.  Well obviously I pretty much never post on this blog these days.   And wordpress is notorious for security issues.  This is partly due to the popularity of the product, partly due to problems with php itself, and probably partly due to some flaws in WordPress’s on code. But, to their credit, they update quickly and the word doess get out.  And, to their credit, upgrading was really simple despite the many customizations I have done.  So kudos to the wordpress team.  What I didn’t want was for this thing to get hacked and have spam links spread all through it and have it ruin my google search ranking.  So there it is.

On a more fun note, we’ve been spending the past year trying to learn to lindy hop.  Maybe someday we’ll get as good as this:

Paris

Over Thanksgiving, Jennifer and I took a weeklong vacation in Paris.  We’ve been talking about going for years and just put it off and put it off and finally just decided we had to go this year or we never would.  We haven’t been on a vacation together since 2004.

So we started planning to go in the off-season.  We watched for ticket deals on Kayak.com and kept our dates flexible.  We searched for hotels and found the Hotel des Grands Ecoles in the heart of the Latin Quarter.

Doing it this way made it far more reasonable. The flight didn’t cost any more than a flight to a lot of US destinations from New Orleans. After the exchange rate, the hotel didn’t cost us any more than a typical 8 night stay in a US hotel.

We hit Paris and really did get the most out of our week there. We walked the city from end to end. It was cold, of course, but we adjusted. We even got to see snow flurries on the Champs Elysees from the ferris wheel. We climbed all 704 steps to the second level of the Eiffel tower (and took the elevator ride on the final stretch to the top). We climbed the Notre Dame, too and hit the Louvre and the Musee d’Orsay, and explored the Catacombes.

And, of course, we ate. And we didn’t think twice about any of it. Foie Gras, cream, bread, desserts, whatever. In fact, we both managed to lose a couple of pounds.

One question we get asked a lot is if we were treated well. We were treated well and everyone was polite. Neither of us know French, but we learned a little bit — enough to be polite and greet people initially. The effort is appreciated. Because it’s the off-season, things weren’t so crowded and everyone was in a good mood. We were occasionally not recognized as tourists receiving French-only restaurant menus and being asked for directions more than once.

It’s definitely a trip we would recommend checking out. We took a TON of photos of course. I’ve labeled most of them with captions and all of them are geo-tagged so they can be viewed on a map. You can check out the entire set, starting here.

Yes We Can!

Wow.  Feel so happy about this day.

I am loath to close. We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.

-Abraham Lincoln

I sure hope my friends who feel so very differently today will eventually come to recognize that the better angels of our nature have indeed touched us this day.

In the Midst of the Financial Crisis

State Rep Labruzzo proposes a “voluntary” sterilization program to reduce future costs of social support programs.  When David Duke proposed the same thing back in 1991 while I was a young student at Ole Miss, my friends would ask me, “Hey aren’t you from Metairie?”  um. yeah. actually.  And it was terribly embarrassing. This is pretty much the same feeling but at least I no longer live in the district.

The main issue is that Labruzzo is, apparently, butt dumb.  He’s too dumb to even realize how dumb, racist, and ludicrous this “idea” is.  He  hasn’t even attempted to think his magical “idea” through.  Varg at the Chicory, has done the job for him in brilliant fashion. I’d like to hear him talk to fellow Republican and VP candidate Sarah Palin about this since she recently had a Down’s syndrome child that will ultimately require some government-provided social services.

Maybe we should require the CEOs of the big financial firms to get vasectomies since we are now proposing $700Bn of welfare for them.

All this reminds me of the Dead Kennedys classic, Kill the Poor. I don’t think Labruzzo would grasp the irony:

Efficiency and progress is ours once more
Now that we have the neutron bomb
Its nice and quick and clean and gets things done
Away with excess enemy
But no less value to property
No sense in war but perfect sense at homeThe sun beams down on a brand new day
No more welfare tax to pay
Unsightly slums gone up in flashing light
Jobless millions whisked away
At last we have more room to play
All systems go to kill the poor tonight

Gonna
Kill kill kill kill kill the poor tonight

Behold the sparkle of champagne
The crime rates gone
Feel free again
O lifes a dream with you, miss lily white
Jane fonda on the screen today
Convinced the liberals its okay
So lets get dressed and dance away the night

While they
Kill kill kill kill kill the poor tonight

Oh man, Texas got the X’s

So I was taking a look at chron.com, just to see how things were really going in TX and I came across this picture.

And I thought, “Oh, man, they got the X’s.”  Just reading that front page felt so familiar and looking through photos like the one above is just eerie.  I know there’s a lot going on with the financial market disasters and political theater, but there’s a helluva lot going on down in South LA and TX.




Scott Harney

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