I’ve been on leave for three weeks and while I’d made a list of things to get done, I was careful not to let it dominate my break. Age has brought the benefit of feeling that I don’t need to make myself so busy, that it’s ok to do nothing sometimes.
A mixture of idle time marooned at home and my day job having taken me away from hands-on tech a long time ago has resulted in me prodding at the old shared server I’ve shepherded for a little over 20 years, now. A bunch of people once used it – fewer still do. You might think of it as being a bit like a tilde community. While it used to be more convenient to have it running from someone’s machine room (I'm not even sure exactly where, now) that’s no longer true, and I’ve worked out that I can support the few services it still needs to provide from my house, on a Raspberry Pi 4 with a USB SSD attached to it. In some ways it’ll serve more as an archive of old things more than anything else, really. In the process of sorting out a migration plan (something I’d had to do many times before, as we moved from machine to machine) I wondered if I wasn’t alone in looking back on those earlier days, wondering how we got to a year like 2020.
I’ve reached out to my old peers – most of us relentless journallers & bloggers back in the early ’00s – to ask not just “are you still using anything on this server?” but also “how are you going?” I’ve been pretty awful at actively keeping up with folk, instead relying on the passive nature of seeing updates floating past in the mix of news from the doom-scrolling apps that vacuum our time. Many of us moved away from Melbourne. One or two I never met in person, even. Some folk I’m almost too frightened to reach out to, but I’ll find a way. I’ll see how we go for responses, and hopefully one or two of them might write something we can publish for the archive, as it were.
What did I get out of running that host for all those years? Mostly I just wanted to feel useful, and I felt useful helping folk out, helping them say something no matter how small, and helping them connect with others in those earlier, potential-rich days of the Internet. In return, I received plenty of system admin practice that fed my day job (and vice-versa). I’m curious to hear from the others now – what did they get from it?
Fitness isn't for everybody. I struggled to find a way to appreciate it until I was the other side of 40, but thanks to a friend giving me the right kind of encouragement at the right time (thank you K), it found its way into my life in a way that I could work with. That was some years ago now, and I became (to my younger self's horror) a somewhat-regular gym attendee.
It's hard to avoid the gravitational pull of music from our formative years – in my case, around the end of high school. One such song has its 30th birthday today, on July 16th – #Swervedriver's Son of Mustang Ford.
I use Gitlab at home for a bevy of personal things, and find the built-in CI really handy for further automating changes to my network. Now that I'm trying to spend time away from the desk that I use for Working from Home, I'm using my iPad a lot. If I'm doing something like making some DNS changes in my Gitlab-managed zone files, I don't want to have to context-switch out of my lovely full-screen terminal to a web browser to check if the changes have finished deploying.
Yesterday evening I hacked up something to check the status of a given gitlab org/repo.
This morning I added a second script to wait until the pipeline has “finished”, and print a useful message:
% gitlab-ci-status -v
success for some-org/local-dns in 26 seconds at Sun 12 Jul 2020 10:14:22 AEST
Being a one-night-and-one-morning invention I've taken a few liberties that I'll try and resolve over time:
I didn't test it anywhere other than Linux yet (and I used GNU date somewhere as a quick/lazy solution to something).
You can imagine that I haven't tested too much beyond the “happy path”.
Later on I'll hook it up to either:
tell Emacs to tell me it's done, or
some kind of push notification thingo. (done: see the -n option.)
The first part of this I remember writing a very simple version for, for one particular Jenkins pipeline I worked on a lot, back in the days when I was still a sysadmin in my day job. Now, I just do this for fun.
Walking remains a key part of my mental health regime. After a week stuck in a small room at home on innumerable Zoom calls, I need the peace and quite of the changing ground under my feet, and some music in my ears. I don't need to go far – my immediate surroundings change constantly, and there's always little things to notice. Late last year, a building that seemed like it would never change (having remained the same for over a decade) was suddenly emptied of the detritus out front, and demolished:
I wasn't early enough to enjoy the morning fog, but what a crisp morning! I braved a street I once lived in (some memories are harder than others), and pushed further west into some streets I rarely visit anymore, full of the usual mix of terrifying mansion-like things amongst the preserved prior world.
There are tiny hints amongst the blankness – subtle things, not the wall-high scrawls – I appreciate the little notes.
Remnants of another milk bar that succumbed to the ravages of our times, though I struggle to remember the particular nature of this one.
Really, it's just nice to be out, seeing nothing in particular.
Musical accompaniment was something new (competely unheard) and something old (but not listened to for a long time):