12.23.20

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Holiday Greetings to Readers and Their Loved Ones

Posted in Site News at 10:13 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Freedom of Movement (FoM) ended not because of Brexit but because of other factors

Postcard from holiday

Summary: An end of year message (a tad early or premature, but we’ll be busy changing datacentres in days to come); in short, stay safe, don’t do anything too extravagant (it’s risky)

WE DON’T typically prepare ‘corny’ posts about “top articles of the month/year” and “happy [holidays] everyone” because they’re kind of purposeless. They don’t say much that wasn’t already obvious. No reason/s to publicly berate sites that do in fact produce such ‘meta’ articles; after all, we too occasionally write about our own operations, future plans, and even past accomplishments.

“The past year has been rather messy, more/most so because of coronavirus (as opposed to Brexit, as many predicted last Christmas).”The coming week will be potentially difficult for us because of a datacentre switch and overhaul — possibly the biggest technical overhaul in the site’s history. The site is expected to still look the same, but changes at the back end may be profound (and less visible to readers). Bandwidth limits aren’t an issue, but capacity is expected to improve (over the past week we’ve served an average of about 3 megabytes per second). We want to become increasingly self-hosted, but at the same time decentralised (among peers that are trusted) because the latter makes us more robust to downtime, either for technical or for legal reasons (the EPO has a history of threatening to sue us; Benoît Battistelli repeatedly did that and António Campinos is still just “his master’s voice”). Yesterday we did several hours of maintenance on the Raspberry Pi 4 that serves the site’s contents over IPFS; that gave us the first real opportunity to properly test access to all the objects when one (and primary) node was offline (and yes, that worked really well; objects were served very fast in that node’s absence, even while powered down for hardware upgrades). That node is serving visitors from our home, having been placed literally 2 meters from me. It’s connected to a mouse, an old keyboard, optionally a screen (it’s a headless server with two HDMI ports) and now a set of 8 versatile LEDs that we program to reflect status. Another Christmas project…

The past year has been rather messy, more/most so because of coronavirus (as opposed to Brexit, as many predicted last Christmas). We are apparently heading towards an even worse year because, as this article has just put it: “More than 40 countries have temporarily suspended some or all travel from the United Kingdom after British health officials announced a highly infectious variant of the novel coronavirus has been spreading in the country. South Africa has detected a similar variant.”

People who say that a vaccine developed in just months (as opposed to years or as long as 2 decades) with expedited certifications is assured to restore order and economic stability are simply lying. Don’t believe them any more than you’d believe Battistelli’s “quality” talk.

OK, 'Boris'... Whatever...

Notice the dates above.

We’ve set our expectations extremely low this year. We put up the Christmas tree a month ago, turning the lights on every night, but at the dinner table it’ll be just my wife and I. Having just recovered from 2 days of pain, the last thing I want during datacentre migration (with pressing and imminent deadline) is something like COVID-19 (or whatever number they choose next).

Holiday HouseThis coming week will certainly not be easy for us. But the work needs to be done and it’ll likely mean less articles, erosion in uptime (we’re testing things, so sometimes we shut down databases, HTTP daemons, even whole components of the filesystem). I’ve just run a script to count the number of files in Techrights (not including databases). It says it’s over 170,000. That’s almost 15 years’ worth (we’ll soon have 30,000 blog posts). Rigorous testing cannot be done on a page-by-page basis (to ensure everything was preserved perfectly following migrations/updates). Daily Links will be a priority because we don’t wish to lose sight of what’s going on in the world. When talk about panic buyers and rapidly-spreading viruses (not including Brexit itself) calms down a bit we’ll visit town and check if better equipment is still available on shelves for recording. In the past 3 days the videos were fetched nearly 15,000 times, so demand for videos is definitely there.

Take care, keep the dinner small (in the sense of number of people attending), and catch you again in 2021. We’ll still post articles, but probably not as much or as often as usual.

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