Author Archives: Antranig Vartanian

About Antranig Vartanian

Doing things @ illuria, Inc. Unix, BSD, InfoSec, Elixir/Erlang, DNS, XMPP. Mostly harmless.

5 Years of Blogging

5 years ago today, I wrote my first English blog post.

At the time I was using Hugo, the hosting was (and still is) provided by me, with the electricity that comes to my house, with an ISP that gave me IP addresses for (kinda-)free and all of it using FreeBSD.

These days, it’s not much different. I still use FreeBSD, I still use electricity, but I’ve moved from Hugo to WordPress and I write using MarsEdit, my favorite macOS software.

So, what have I done in the last 5 years? Well, not much, here are some basic statistic.

I have

  • Published 96 posts
  • Written 27,245 words
  • Uploaded 102 images
  • Told myself 256 times that โ€œFrom now on I will blog every dayโ€

And I want to thank you all, for being here, with me, during my hardest days and happiest nights.

I love you all ๐Ÿ™‚

Cheers!

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Domains as Verification

Couple of days ago when I was browsing the internet I stumbled upon Jim Nielsen’s blog, where at the top it said

Verified ($10/year for the domain)

Screenshot 2023 05 26 at 9 37 20 PM

Luckily, his blog is so organized (unlike mine) where I found the post named Verified Personal Website in which he talked about this.

Personally, I don’t have enough CSS skills to do that, but I added a check mark next to my name on my blog (thank you Unicode!).

IMG 6638

I think this is amazing and it should be used more by bloggers everywhere. If someone opens a blog they should see a check mark. Maybe a cute one in SVG, maybe a CSS trick, maybe it’s just an image, but it should be there.

Why? so we remind people that on the internet, whenever you have a domain, you are already verified.

Can scammers scam and criminals phish? yes, indeed. But unlike the not-very-social-media, it’s hard to do that.

Ironically, having a website on the internet costs less than having a “verified” social media account, say on Twitter.

Currently, Twitter Blue costs $8/month or $84/year.

Let’s see how much would it cost to have a blog on the internet.

First thing first, you need a domain, and it can be anything that you feel awesome with. Awesome-ness is the first and only rule.

Here’s an awesome domain that I found is available using NameCheap.

Screenshot 2023 05 26 at 9 23 37 PM

This is awesome!

Next, we need to host our website. Well, lemme check my favorite server hosting platform, Vultr.

Vultr pricing

A machine with a single CPU and a 1GB of RAM, that’s plenty!

I mean, with that much power, you can easily run WordPress (if you’re using caching).

Or, if you don’t want to get techy-techy at all, you can use a static site generator. You like Markdown and text files? There’s Hugo for you. Do you want to just click on buttons and BOOM, your website is ready? Have a look at Publii!

So, how much does it cost in the end? Here’s how it looks like if you pay annually or monthly, per year.

A/M Twitter Blue Website on the Internet
Monthly $8×12 = $96 $8×12 + $10 = $70
Annually $84 $8×12 + $10 = $70

So yes, it is cheaper to have a website on the internet.

Wait a second, annually vs monthly looks the same? OF COURSE IT DOES! THIS IS THE INTERNET! We want you to think “huh, 70 dollars? well that’s dope” and not about “well, if I pay annually now, I will save 12 dollars” and then completely forget about that service anyway.

Oh, and did I tell you about the features of having a website on the internet? Well we don’t have a list, but here’s some things from the top of my head.

  • You get to be verified, because welcome to the internet
  • You get to post whatever you want
  • you get to edit them! can you believe that?
  • You can upload photos and make it looks like a photo blog
  • Unlike other platforms, which seemed to be for photographers but not anymore, you can tag things, and make albums!
  • You can upload podcasts!
  • Hell, and if you ever want to leave, you can just redirect your domain to somewhere else ๐Ÿ™‚

And I’m not even talking about the other awesome features of having a domain, like, custom emails! Be that person that does NOT have a @gmail.com, but @AwesomeIsHere.net!

And hey, Twitter Blue might die, Twitter might die, every other company might die, but the internet will not ๐Ÿ™‚

That’s all folks…

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Downtime for the rest of us

If the homebrew server club had an official membership based on technicality, then I would be a very proud member, but it does not have a membership application. That being said, I am still a proud member of HBSC, as I’ve been running a home server for a decade now.

I can’t say that it’s been easy, but it has been evolving. When I tried setting up my first server, I had issues with an ISP that didn’t allow me to have more than a single public static IP address.

Over time, ISPs changed, servers have changed, but the only thing that remained the same is me running my server from my home.

Now, I do have multiple IPs, a VLAN with my ISP that we’ve agreed on the setup, an internal email where they answer my questions without me calling the general support line and finally a publicly available Looking Glass that anyone can use.

Unfortunately, it’s not all sunshine and roses. My biggest request for the last couple of years has been the same: a status page.

You know, that simple web page that tells you if a service is down?

Interestingly, when I was researching ISPs (that’s a post for another day) I noticed that most ISPs don’t provide a status page.

Some ISPs (like Google Fiber) ask for an address, while others ask you to log in.

I understand that an ISP is a complex beast, and it would not be an easy task to say “we have an issue”, but hey, someone has to start trying.

Oh, I forgot, the downtime mentioned in the title!

Well, my personal blogs don’t have a lot of traffic (unless if someone posts a link to the Orange Website, then I get 20K+ viewers per day), but many people use my services, such as my Jabber/XMPP chat server, a publicly available blogging system an Armenian tech forum and so on.

All of the local ISPs had issues this week and their first response was to fix the outbound traffic. So for most people in the country, they didn’t care, as long as they were able to use Telegram and log into their Meta-owned social media services.

But for me and my community, we had to wait almost 18 hours for them to fix the internal network issues.

However, I am still a proud member of HBSC, because unlike Big Tech companies, if I go down, only I go down. But if a cloud goes down, everyone goes down with them.

See you at the next downtime ๐Ÿ˜‰

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Antranig Vartanian

May 16, 2023

A customer texted me saying they are having issues running our operating system on QEMU-KVM, so I opened a cloud provider’s portal, clicked on “Deploy a new bare metal”, and tried to SSH.

After waiting for a while, I see that I can ping the machine, but I can’t SSH into it…

I open the console, and this is what I see.

Screenshot 2023 05 16 at 6 37 28 PM

This. This is why I moved to FreeBSD.

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More macOS Display Resolutions

I assume that this feature has been around for a while, maybe it came with Ventura, but I noticed it just today.

Turns out, if you have a MacBook Air and you want more resolution in the expense of sharpness, you can go to System Settings โ†’ Displays, Click on Show all resolutions and get more options.

Screenshot 2023 05 15 at 1 04 07 PM

I just moved from 1680×1050 to 2048×1280. While I don’t recommend this for most people, it it useful if you do development in your terminal (like I do) and want to see more context.

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Antranig Vartanian

May 15, 2023

I like Windows because it’s the best for gaming!

Meanwhile on Windows: The simplest game that has been around for 30 years, Solitaire, has ads in it. You have to pay $2/month or $15/year to remove ads.

The design is ugly, it’s so ugly that the Windows XP version easily beats it and it takes at least 10 seconds to load the game, which used to take 1 second on Windows XP.

I’ve stopped using Windows 12 years ago, I’m not sure why everyone else hasn’t.

If I didn’t need to test network protocols every once in a while, I would be happier, because booting Windows feels like a pain already…

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FreeBSD package repo with specific versions

illuria’s ProfilerX runs on LureOS, which is our custom operating system based on FreeBSD.

To update the operating system we rely on two tools, pkg(8) for packages and freebsd-update for the base.

Initially, I’ve setup our poudriere and package repo in the FreeBSD way, so our URL looks like /FreeBSD:13:amd64/devel and /FreeBSD:13:amd64/prod. This is done by expanding the ${ABI} variable, similar to what FreeBSD does in FreeBSD.conf.

Initially, this worked fine, but now that there’s a new FreeBSD out there (13.2), I didn’t want to put the new packages in the old URL, but rather have a URL for each major.minor version. This is mostly for the enterprises who take their time to upgrade software.

Turns out the easiest way to do this is (after reading the pkg.conf(5) manual page) is to use the VERSION_MAJOR and VERSION_MINOR variables.

The new LureOS will use /${ABI}/${VERSION_MINOR}/repo, which will expand to /FreeBSD:13:amd64/1/devel, making it easier for us to extend life after a new release.

That’s all folksโ€ฆ

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Antranig Vartanian

May 12, 2023

The Pixelmator Team released Photomator a month ago (well, technically renamed), one of the things on their roadmap was Photomator for Mac.

I submitted a form to join the TestFlight Beta and I got in! I’ve been using it for couple of days now and I absolutely love it.

The Photomator Team sent an email saying “Photomator will be released on โ–ˆโ–ˆโ–ˆ โ–ˆโ–ˆth, so we ask all testers to hold back on sharing any screenshots of Photomator for Mac until this date.

While I can’t share any screenshots, I will share a photo edited using Photomator for Mac.

Can’t wait for the official release!

That’s all folksโ€ฆ

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Apple Arcade’s TMNT Splintered Fate talking Open-Source and InfoSec

Ever since my Sony PS4 Pro’s HDD broke down last year I’ve been using my iPad as my main gaming device. There are some awesome games such as Moonshot, Dead Cells+ and my personal favorite, LEGOยฎ Star Warsโ„ข: Castaways.

A day (or two, I’m not sure) ago, Viacom International Inc. and Paramount Global in collaboration with Nickelodeon released TMNT Splintered Fate. I’ve been playing the game for couple of hours now and I like it very much.

But this is not a game review, as I’m not a reviewer.

I’m not sure if people read/listen to game dialogs these days, but I do.

I just encountered DONATELLO, METALHEAD and APRIL talking about software, open-source and hacking.

Unfortunately, as I was not aware about the conversation, I had to restart the game from scratch twice so I record the the dialog.

Here’s a GIF and the dialog itself ๐Ÿ™‚ I hope you appreciate it as much as I did.

Tmnt landscape

DONATELLO: Metalhead, can you give me an update on the microchip I gave you to analyze before?
METALHEAD: Affirmative. Analysis complete. Top-level configuration consists of standard StockGen operational code.
METALHEAD: Command controls for MOUSERs, etcetera.
DONATELLO: Open source?
METALHEAD: Both open source and proprietary, most of which we have already accessed in the past. Howeverโ€ฆ the drive also contains inert sub-configurations, protected by military-grade encryption.
APRIL: What do you mean, ‘inert?’
METALHEAD: Hidden ‘ghost code’ that I posit contain command executables serving an unknown purpose.
DONATELLO: Hm. Kinda like the computer version of a sleeper agent.
METALHEAD: Affirmative.
APRIL: But why would Stockman hide ghost code inside his own code? It’s like he’s hacking himself.
DONATELLO: Yeah… it is strange. But we’ve gotta find out what’s in that hidden code before we can jump to any conclusions.
DONATELLO: Metalhead, do what you can to break through that encryption.
METALHEAD: Command acknowledged.
APRIL: Correct me if I’m wrong, Metalhead, but with this new info we should be able to… shall we say… borrow some StockGen tech to occasionally support you guys from afar?
METALHEAD: If you are equating ‘borrow’ with ‘hack into and control,’ that is affirmative, April O’Neil.
DONATELLO: Well! That’s exciting…
APRIL: Right? So, keep an eye open for some friendly support drops while you’re out there. We’ll have to keep it low key for now. Don’t want to set off any unnecessary alarms with the powers that be.

That’s all folksโ€ฆ

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