Category Archives: Thoughts

Antranig Vartanian

November 23, 2022

Wait, what?

I was running a script and I didn’t parse something correctly, it ended up creating a Unix user named ''. You know, an empty string.

Is this supposed to be a bug?

According to pw_checkname in pw_user of pw(8), it’s not rejected.

If you think this is supposed to be a bug, please let me know.

DND IRL

What does modern macOS and old-school Instant Messaging systems (like AIM or Pidgin) have in common?

They both support “Status”, you know, that thing we had in IMs, where you can set yourself to “Do Not Disturb” and your avatar becomes red.

macOS, as always, does not call that “Status”, instead they call is “Focus”, but it gets the job done.

So yes, I’d like an IRL (In Real Life) version of DND (Do Not Disturb). Maybe my ears should turn red, but most people would confuse it with some other emotions.

That’s all folks…

iOS ships Dvorak, finally

I’m a huge fan of the Dvorak keyboard layout, but if there’s one thing I love more than “Evolved vs Engineered” solution debates, is that nothing wins the ”standardized” debate.

That being said, the main reason I never moved to Dvorak properly was always a device not having a proper keyboard. Sometimes it was my Android phone with a weird ROM, but most of times it was my iPhone.

However, I just learned that Apple shipped the Dvorak layout with iOS 16.

Here’s Lilith‘s iPhone running iOS 15

And here’s my iPhone running iOS 16

And I’ve gotta say, it’s not bad at all

That’s all folks…

The command command

According to the 2018 edition of The Open Group Base Specifications (Issue 7), there’s a command named command which executes commands.

Wait, macOS is OpenGroup UNIX 03 certified, right?

command running uname -a

I tried tracing back the history, macOS is mostly based on FreeBSD, as we can see in their open-source code.

So I started tracing back the FreeBSD code, and I found the current one.

I found the oldest commit about command in FreeBSD’s source tree, but it said

Import the 4.4BSD-Lite2 /bin/sh sources

builtins.def

So I opened up the SVN tree of CSRG, and there I found this

date and time created 91/03/07 20:24:04 by bostic

builtins.def

However, if I knew how to use SVNWeb, I’m pretty sure I’d navigate around the /old/sh directory.

It’s funny, how this line
# NOTE: bltincmd must come first!
Is both in the macOS code AND the CSRG code from 30 years ago.

That’s all folks…

Hard-wired Indicators

I was waiting in line, actually, more like in dot, because I was the only person waiting, at my favorite coffee shop, for the restroom. I see the light is on, I figure it’s occupied. I go outside for a smoke, I come back… still occupied.

Took me more than 10 minutes to figure “hey, no one is coming out. Maybe because there’s no one inside?”

I go to check, and yes, indeed the restroom was available.

We have these hard-wired indicators in our head. At least that’s a better situation than wrong indicators.

Oh damn, when I left I forgot the lights on…

Antranig Vartanian

July 20, 2022

The apartment building in front of our house feels like the United Nations. There’s so many flags.

The obvious one is, of course, the flag of Armenia. Then there’s the flag of Nagorno-Karabakh. The new wave of migrants means that there’s also an Ukrainian flag. I’ve seen some other flags too, but not sure which country was it.

Our balcony is small, if it was bigger I’d join them too. Also, we’re on the last floor where everyone would be able to see the flag.

Wave your flags, folks!

Moving (back) to WordPress

Our story starts 2-3 weeks ago, when my younger sister asked me to open a blog for her (it runs in the family, I think). Like any sane person, I created a FreeBSD Jail, configured its networking and followed an online article on how to deploy WordPress on FreeBSD. That’s the proper way to do it, right?

And I fell in love! Last time I used WordPress was in 2018, but this time it felt different, I’m not sure why (yet), but it feels like it came back to its roots. It has a simple screen that helps you to write.

Usually, I would say that tools don’t matter, and yet, I (narcissistically) rant about tools and that Docker is awful FreeBSD Jails is amazing. But I think that tools matters, they always mattered, it’s just that, we say such things in order to not sound like gatekeepers to newcomers.

Next was my girlfriend Lilith, she migrated from Blogspot to WordPress, she also blogged about that. Also deployed in a FreeBSD Jail in my home server.

Before making such decisions I look at data, so I downloaded my posts and did Unix magic.

$ xmlstarlet select -t -v '/ul/li/span' posts.txt | cut -d ' ' -f 3 | sort | uniq -c | sort
   2 2017
   2 2019
   3 2018
   7 2020
  14 2022
  29 2016
  35 2014
  47 2021
  90 2015

This comes from my Armenian blog, where I used to have WordPress, and yes, during 2015 I was very busy AND I used WordPress.

My Armenian blog is my “lab”, so I moved it not only to WordPress, but to a whole new domain, a Unicode domain with a Unicode TLD, անդրանիկ.հայ.

My English blog used to live at https://antranigv.am/weblog_en/, so I migrated it to a new subdomain, weblog.antranigv.am.

Migrating from Hugo to WordPress is not what I want to talk about, that’s a story for another day and that day is tomorrow!

I did some basic things on WordPress, such as disabling comments, which incidentally Rubenerd just blogged about and I added “Reply via email” as noted in Kev’s blog.

Oh and I added a plugin that publishes all the articles to ActivityPub, now you can follow @antranigv@weblog.antranigv.am from Fediverse (e.g. Mastodon, Pleroma, etc).

In the first week I blogged more on my Armenian blog than I did in months.

Expect a flood of posts (well, not really, more like 2-3 posts a day).

That’s all folks…

Techlife Crisis

This is another migration story, like the one that I wrote back in 2020. Unlike the other story, the motivation of this migration is totally different. It’s emotional instead of technical.

Last year a friend of mine got a new job that I referred her to. She passed the interviews and I helped her to get on-boarded as the employer was a friend of mine and I was pretty familiar with their product. The job was remote and she didn’t have a good laptop. Since I have many laptops I ended up giving her my ThinkPad T480s where she ran Ubuntu. As you can tell the employer was a VERY close friend of mine 🙂

All of this meant that I moved back to my MacBook Pro running macOS. I used to like macOS, for me it was always a rock-solid UNIX system with a proper graphical interface.

Unfortunatly these years the UNIX part is not solid anymore and the graphical interface is more iOS-y eye candy than a proper desktop interface.

But I was okay with that, since I spent most of my time in a terminal running vim, ssh, etc. I’d run typical work apps like Mail.app with GPGSuite and a Slack browser client.

But then something snapped in me. I think it was after the car accident. I spent two weeks at home, not able to work. So I started coding on my open-source projects again, doing some patches in FreeBSD, improving code on software that I like and so on.

I realized that I’ve been an Open Source advocate for years, and yet I was in the Apple ecosystem. Not that I don’t like the Apple ecosystem, don’t get me wrong, but as someone who’s been telling the government to use open source, helping them migrate, giving lectures to students about the open source movement and its history, I felt… bad.

I had this MacBook Pro laptop and this iPhone that both control me more than I can control it.

I contacted my friend again, asking if we can swap the laptops and she told me yes. She actually ended up working at our company and now she has a fancy new MacBook Pro while I came back to my lovely ThinkPad T480s running FreeBSD like I wanted in the first place.

As I mentioned, this time it hit me hard, so I decided to escape non-OSS things completely and now I’m running a Pixel 2 with Lineage OS.

There’s a whole story on how I got that Pixel 2 at this day and age and that story is coming soon. And the funniest thing is, as soon as I completed my transaction/migration to Open Source, I got the news that Apple Pay will finally work in Armenia.

Open Source changed my life when I was a kid in Syria, I learned more about computers because of Open Source and while I got distracted with the cute and nice macOS for a while, it’s time to come back home.

Here’s a screenshot

That’s all folks!