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Leveling the playing field for non-native speakers

Fun

Wordle game

screenshort of bash, grep and pipes

 

Updates

24.01.2022: What I love about the community is the playful creativity that inspires a game like Wordle and that in turn inspires others to create fun tools around it:

Robert Reichel has reverse engineered the Wordle application, so in case you want to play tomorrow's word today .. you can. Or have that one guess "Genius" solution experience.

JP Fosterson created a Wordle helper that is very much the Python version of my grep-foo above. In case you play regularly and can use a hand.

And Tom Lockwood wrote a Wordle solver also in Python. He blogged about it and ... is pondering to rewrite things in Rust:

I’ve decided to explore Rust for this, and so far what was taking 1GB of RAM in Python is taking, literally 1MB in Rust!

Welcome to 2022.

01.02.2022: OMG. Wordle has been bought by the New York Times for "for a price in the low seven figures" (Source).

Joey Rees-Hill put it well in The Death of Wordle:

Today’s Web is dominated by platforms. The average Web user will spend most of their time on large platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, Google Drive/Docs, YouTube, Netflix, Spotify, Gmail, and Google Calendar, along with sites operated by large publishers such as The New York Times or The Washington Post. [..]
The Web wasn’t always this way. I’m not old enough to remember this, but things weren’t always so centralized. Web users might run their own small website, and certainly would visit a good variety of smaller sites. With the increasing availability of internet access, the Web has become incredibly commercialized, with a handful of companies concentrating Web activity on their own properties.
Wordle was a small site that gained popularity despite not being part of a corporate platform. It was wonderful to see an independent site gain attention for being simple and fun. Wordle was refreshingly free of attention-manipulating dark patterns and pushy monetization. That’s why it’s a shame to see it absorbed, to inevitably become just another feature of one large media company’s portfolio.

Still kudos to Josh Wardle, a Million Pounds for Wordle. Well done!

It was fun while it lasted. Let's see what the next Wordle will be. This one has just been absorbed into the borg collective.

No CCC Congress this year but rC3 online

Other

The virtual version of the annual CCC Congress is underway and feels like a huge playground. Things are bumpy but the participants are still having fun. Of course, we have IRC as a safe heaven. That always works.

The virtual world (which is the only thing the sold out tickets are needed for) is really fun. It feels like debugging a DOS game in the 80/90s. Not much works but it is engaging enough to keep poking at things.

The data formats are 2020 though, the main "lobby map" is a 3 MB json file:

{ "compressionlevel":-1,
 "editorsettings":
    {
     "export":
        {
         "format":"json",
         "target":"main.json"
        }
    },
 "height":80,
 "infinite":false,
 "layers":[
        {
         "data":[0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 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         "height":80,
         "id":2,
         "name":"start",
         "opacity":1,
         "type":"tilelayer",
         "visible":true,
         "width":80,
         "x":0,
         "y":0
        }, 
...

People that hand-optimized RLEs to fit games on floppies cry a little.

The streams are free (as in public), so please check https://streaming.media.ccc.de/ and the schedule at https://fahrplan.events.ccc.de/rc3/2020/Fahrplan/ for some great content to watch live or add to your play list.

Upgrading Limesurvey with (near) zero downtime

Open Source

Limesurvey is an online survey tool. It is very powerful and commonly used in academic environments because it is Free Software (GPLv2+), allows for local installations protecting the data of participants and allowing to comply with data protection regulations. This also means there are typically no load-balanced multi-server szenarios with HA databases. But simple VMs where Limesurvey runs and needs upgrading in place.

There's an LTS branch (currently 3.x) and a stable branch (currently 4.x). There's also a 2.06 LTS branch that is restricted to paying customers. The main developers behind Limesurvey offer many services from template design to custom development to support to hosting ("Cloud", "Limesurvey Pro"). Unfortunately they also charge for easy updates called "ComfortUpdate" (currently 39€ for three months) and the manual process is made a bit cumbersome to make the "ComfortUpdate" offer more attractive.

Due to Limesurvey being an old code base and UI elements not being clearly separated, most serious use cases will end up patching files and symlinking logos around template directories. That conflicts a bit with the opaque "ComfortUpdate" process where you push a button and then magic happens. Or you have downtime and a recovery case while surveys are running.

If you do not intend to use the "ComfortUpdate" offering, you can prevent Limesurvey from connecting to http://comfortupdate.limesurvey.org daily by adding the updatable stanza as in line 14 to limesurvey/application/config/config.php:

  1. return array(
  2.  [...]
  3.          // Use the following config variable to set modified optional settings copied from config-defaults.php
  4.         'config'=>array(
  5.         // debug: Set this to 1 if you are looking for errors. If you still get no errors after enabling this
  6.         // then please check your error-logs - either in your hosting provider admin panel or in some /logs directory
  7.         // on your webspace.
  8.         // LimeSurvey developers: Set this to 2 to additionally display STRICT PHP error messages and get full access to standard templates
  9.                 'debug'=>0,
  10.                 'debugsql'=>0, // Set this to 1 to enanble sql logging, only active when debug = 2
  11.                 // Mysql database engine (INNODB|MYISAM):
  12.                  'mysqlEngine' => 'MYISAM'
  13. ,               // Update default LimeSurvey config here
  14.                 'updatable' => false,
  15.         )
  16. );

The comma on line 13 is placed like that in the current default limesurvey config.php, don't let yourself get confused. Every item in a php array must end with a comma. It can be on the next line.

The basic principle of low risk, near-zero downtime, in-place upgrades is:

  1. Create a diff between the current release and the target release
  2. Inspect the diff
  3. Make backups of the application webroot
  4. Patch a copy of the application in-place
  5. (optional) stop the web server
  6. Make a backup of the production database
  7. Move the patched application to the production webroot
  8. (if 5) Start the webserver
  9. Upgrade the database (if needed)
  10. Check the application

So, in detail:

Continue reading "Upgrading Limesurvey with (near) zero downtime"

ICQ web status icons

Internet

ICQ has a feature to show your online status on a web page. You need to enable it in the "Security and Privacy" settings as indicated on ICQ's support page. Once you include http://status.icq.com/online.gif?icq=<ICQ-ID>&img=5 in a web page you can show your online status like this: ICQ Online Icon #5(Online) and ICQ Offline Icon #5(Offline).

Now the page that used to show all the icons available (img=<number> parameter in the URL) 404's (with a very nice 404-cow). Try at http://www.icq.com/features/web/indicator.html whether ICQ fixed their pages.

A friendly

seq 1 30 | xargs -n 1 -I _num_ wget -O Online_num_.gif  "http://status.icq.com/online.gif?icq=197344872&img=_num_"

helped to get the Online (and similarly the Offline) icons in the mean time.

Looking at them I find these icons provide a nice glimpse into web design history.
ICQ was founded 1996 and has seen a lot of changes between being sold to AOL 1998 and on to mail.ru in 2010. Aah, the '90s ... animated gifs anyone?
As you probably risk eye-cancer looking at them too long, the full glory of the available ICQ icons delegated to the full article view...

Continue reading "ICQ web status icons"