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Use this open source tool to get your local weather forecast

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OSS

Last year, I brought you 19 days of new (to you) productivity tools for 2019. This year, I'm taking a different approach: building an environment that will allow you to be more productive in the new year, using tools you may or may not already be using.

One of the things I love about the past decade of my employment is that it mostly has been remote. I can work anywhere I happen to be in the world, although the reality is that I spend a lot of time in my home office. The downside is that when I leave the house, I base a lot of decisions on what the conditions look like outside my window. And where I live, "sunny and clear" can mean anything from "scorchingly hot" to "below freezing" to "it will rain in an hour." Being able to check the actual conditions and forecast quickly is pretty useful.

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The evolution of a Linux sysadmin

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Linux
OSS

We've all got a story, right? I don't know if anyone would read mine, but, to the right audience, it might sound familiar, or at least relatable. My life is sort of fractured between two things I'm passionate about. One is the off-road industry, and the other is open source software. Some time ago, I was involved in a YouTube "challenge" where a bunch of us off-road enthusiasts were asked to share our story, and I told the tale of how I got involved in "Jeeping" and why we do what we do in that space. Here, I am about to tell the other side of my story, where I’m a computer guy with a bunch of nerd cred. So hang on while I tell you the story of a broke high-school kid who stumbled into a career.

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Events: LCA Talks and ChefConf 2020 CFP

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OSS
  • The dark side of expertise

    Everyone has expertise in some things, which is normally seen as a good thing to have. But Dr. Sean Brady gave some examples of ways that our expertise can lead us astray, and actually cause us to make worse decisions, in a keynote at the 2020 linux.conf.au. Brady is a forensic engineer who specializes in analyzing engineering failures to try to discover the root causes behind them. The talk gave real-world examples of expertise gone wrong, as well as looking at some of the psychological research that demonstrates the problem. It was an interesting view into the ways that our brains work—and fail to work—in situations where our expertise may be sending our thoughts down the wrong path.

    Brady began his talk by going back to 1971 and a project to build a civic center arena in Hartford, Connecticut in the US. The building was meant to hold 10,000 seats; it had a large roof that was a "spiderweb of steel members". That roof would be sitting on four columns; it was to be built on the ground and then lifted into place.

  • Poker and FOSS

    He introduced poker with a definition: "Poker is a gambling game of strategy played by people for money, using cards". The order of the terms in that definition is important, he said. In online poker, though, the "people" element is weakened because you can't see and directly interact with the other people you are playing with. So, unlike real-life poker, online poker is more about sociology than psychology; serious players track the trends of the player base as a whole, rather than trying to recognize the quirks of a particular person.

    That means online poker is "really about money". In order to succeed, one has to develop some weird views of the value of money. Even in games with relatively small stakes, players can win or lose a few thousand dollars in a session; in games with "nosebleed stakes", a player could be up or down by a million dollars in an evening. The game is particularly popular in the US, UK, and Australia, he said; it is played online and in face-to-face games in people's homes or at casinos.

    Poker became mainstream in the late 1990s, largely due to the "Late Night Poker" television series in the UK. There are a lot of different kinds of poker games, but the show focused on no-limit Texas hold 'em, which is the most "high drama of poker games" so it was well-suited to television. The show pioneered the use of a hole-card camera, so that viewers could see the two unseen cards each player was dealt. That innovation allowed viewers and commentators to analyze the choices that the players were making; without seeing the hole cards, watching other people play poker is about as interesting as "watching paint dry", Kuhn said.

    He did not go into the rules of poker much in the talk; a lot of it is not really germane to his topic. The important things to note are that it is a zero-sum, partial-information game where players are playing against each other and not the house (as they are in most other gambling games). It is a game of skill—better players win more over time—but there is a huge element of chance. In order for the house to make any money (casinos are not charities after all), a small percentage of the bets are kept by the house, which is usually called the "rake".

    All of that made poker an ideal candidate for online play. He put up a screen shot of a online poker game from 1999 and noted that all of today's poker sites have a similar look. It features a simple user interface that allows players to quickly and easily see the cards and make their bets. Most online poker players do not want sophisticated graphics and the like.

    So poker is relatively easy to write an online system for; there are a few "tricky bits", but in comparison to, say, an online multiplayer role-playing game, there are only minimal timing or network-delay issues to handle. It is completely turn-based and the state of the game is easily maintained on the server side. In addition, the client does not need any secret information, so the ability to cheat by extracting secrets from the data sent back and forth is eliminated—or, at least, it should be. The main problem for these systems is scaling them to accommodate as many tables as there is demand for. Serious players want to play in multiple games at once and the house maximizes its revenue by the number of games it can run.

    The "watershed moment" for online poker came in 2003 when Chris Moneymaker—his actual birth name, as has been documented—joined into a "satellite tournament" for the World Series of Poker (WSoP). Moneymaker paid $86 to enter the tournament and ended up winning the $10,000 entry into the main WSoP event in Las Vegas; he won that tournament and received $2.5 million for doing so. That created a huge boom in online poker, Kuhn said.

  • ChefConf 2020 CFP – Make the Work Flow

    So hopefully you’ve taken the time to submit something. Lots of folks have, and thank you! Maybe you’re still not sure what you could talk about at ChefConf? Maybe you’ve got some interesting people stories from your time in the automation mines.

    Over the years we’ve categorized these talks as “DevOps” or “People, Processes, and Teams”, but the real guts of the discussion centers on how tooling helps people get their jobs done better, as well as how new theories in teamwork and product delivery impact technical teams. How we work together sets the stage for how we succeed together.

FSFE: FOSDEM, Chaos Communication Congress, and Story of Evaggelos Balaskas

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GNU
OSS
  • Cory Doctorow +++ (pre-) FOSDEM +++ 36C3

    2020 is not just a new year, it is the dawn of a new decade. With more and more automated systems run by software, a political representation of freedom is more needed than ever. Read in our January Newsletter about why Cory Doctorow supports the FSFE financially and why you should do so too. Read about our upcoming FOSDEM activities including our pre-FOSDEM meeting and reflections on our presence at the Chaos Communication Congress. Also we have a new Software Freedom Podcast with Harald Welte and reports from our community.

  • Report from the 36c3, about:freedom - about:fsfe

    At the end of December, FSFE was in Leipzig at the 36th Chaos Communication Congress. As in previous years, we were present at the congress with lots of information material, talks and workshops. FSFE was one of the main organisers of the cluster about:freedom, an association of 12 civil society organisations and groups. Together with the other organisations, we focused on digital rights and network policy issues.

    In about:freedom, a broad political spectrum of topics could be covered due to the many different focuses of the individual organisations and groups. At our booth we informed about Free Software and presented individual campaigns of us. Together with the cluster about:freedom, we organised 19 self-organised sessions during the 4 days. To only name a few, the hand-on workshop „Freedom to go“ for a Google Independent Android Smartphone by Erik Albers, the more general presentation "The Free Software 1x1: Clarifying the basics and typical misunderstandings", "Computer says no": Worüber sollen Algorithmen entscheiden dürfen by Chris Köver, Emergency VPN: Analyzing mobile network traffic to detect digital threats and the talk by Christian Busse regarding Free Software in Science: "Free Software for Open Science" were part of the sessions.

  • The story of my first job in Tech Industry

    The other day I was thinking about my first ever job in this industry as a junior software engineer at the age of 20. I was doing okay with my studies at the Athens university of applied sciences but I was working outside of this industry. I had to gain some working experience in the field, so I made a decision to find part time work in a small software house. The experience and lessons learned in those couple weeks are still with me till this day … almost 20 years after!

9 favorite open source tools for Node.js developers

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OSS

I recently read a survey on StackOverflow that said more than 49% of developers use Node.js for their projects. This came as no surprise to me.

As an avid user of technology, I think it's safe to say that the introduction of Node.js led to a new era of software development. It is now one of the most preferred technologies for software development, right next to JavaScript.

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Kubernetes: KubeInvaders, CSI Ephemeral Inline Volumes and Reviewing 2019 in Docs

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Server
OSS
  • KubeInvaders - Gamified Chaos Engineering Tool for Kubernetes

    Some months ago, I released my latest project called KubeInvaders. The first time I shared it with the community was during an Openshift Commons Briefing session. Kubenvaders is a Gamified Chaos Engineering tool for Kubernetes and Openshift and helps test how resilient your Kubernetes cluster is, in a fun way.

  • CSI Ephemeral Inline Volumes

    Typically, volumes provided by an external storage driver in Kubernetes are persistent, with a lifecycle that is completely independent of pods or (as a special case) loosely coupled to the first pod which uses a volume (late binding mode). The mechanism for requesting and defining such volumes in Kubernetes are Persistent Volume Claim (PVC) and Persistent Volume (PV) objects. Originally, volumes that are backed by a Container Storage Interface (CSI) driver could only be used via this PVC/PV mechanism.

    But there are also use cases for data volumes whose content and lifecycle is tied to a pod. For example, a driver might populate a volume with dynamically created secrets that are specific to the application running in the pod. Such volumes need to be created together with a pod and can be deleted as part of pod termination (ephemeral). They get defined as part of the pod spec (inline).

    Since Kubernetes 1.15, CSI drivers can also be used for such ephemeral inline volumes. The CSIInlineVolume feature gate had to be set to enable it in 1.15 because support was still in alpha state. In 1.16, the feature reached beta state, which typically means that it is enabled in clusters by default.

    CSI drivers have to be adapted to support this because although two existing CSI gRPC calls are used (NodePublishVolume and NodeUnpublishVolume), the way how they are used is different and not covered by the CSI spec: for ephemeral volumes, only NodePublishVolume is invoked by kubelet when asking the CSI driver for a volume. All other calls (like CreateVolume, NodeStageVolume, etc.) are skipped. The volume parameters are provided in the pod spec and from there copied into the NodePublishVolumeRequest.volume_context field. There are currently no standardized parameters; even common ones like size must be provided in a format that is defined by the CSI driver. Likewise, only NodeUnpublishVolume gets called after the pod has terminated and the volume needs to be removed.

  • Reviewing 2019 in Docs

    Hi, folks! I’m one of the co-chairs for the Kubernetes documentation special interest group (SIG Docs). This blog post is a review of SIG Docs in 2019. Our contributors did amazing work last year, and I want to highlight their successes.

    Although I review 2019 in this post, my goal is to point forward to 2020. I observe some trends in SIG Docs–some good, others troubling. I want to raise visibility before those challenges increase in severity.

What Must be Considered Before Choosing a Container Platform?

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Server
OSS

An increasing number of IT groups are incorporating development tools, such as containers, in order to create cloud-native apps that operate in a constant manner across public, private, and hybrid clouds.

However, the trickiest part is to find the best container platforms for the organization. It is hard to make the correct decisions regarding container orchestration for managing lifecycles of the containers in order to function at scale and accelerate innovation.

Containers can be Linux

It is vital for every application to run on Linux since the containers are always running on a Linux host.

Containers that are used for managing their lifecycles, work best with Linux. However, these days, Kubernetes is the popular container orchestration platform that was built on Linux concepts and make use of Linux tooling and application programming interfaces (APIs) for managing the containers.

The companies are advised to opt for a Linux distribution that they know and trust before taking any decision on the OS for their container platform. Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL), an OS platform, suits well for operating company’s containers as it provides stability and security features simultaneously, allowing developers to be agile.

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ProtonVPN Applications are Now 100% Open Source

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OSS
Security

But can you trust your VPN service provider? On more than one occasion, the VPN providers have been caught logging, snooping or sharing data with third party. What to do in such cases?

I have shared a list of privacy focused VPNs for Linux in the past and ProtonVPN is one of them. The good news is that ProtonVPN has just open sourced all its apps and underwent an independent security audit.

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Nextcloud Hub takes on Google Docs and Office 365

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OSS

For years, Nextcloud has set the standard for run-your-own Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) private clouds. Now with the open-source Nextcloud Hub, it's taking on Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) office programs such as Google Docs and Office 365.

Nextcloud has long offered Collabora Online Office, a SaaS version of the open-source LibreOffice office suite to its customers. Hub, though, is a new product. It combines Nextcloud's outstanding cloud file system, Nextcloud Files, with Ascensio System's ONLYOFFICE. Together they are a complete productivity office suite with word processing, spreadsheets, presentation software document management, project management, customer relationship management (CRM), calendar, and mail.

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If George Orwell was alive today, would he be an Internet troll?

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OSS

In 2017, a German organisation, FSFE e.V, elected me as their community representative. They had this odd approach to membership, approximately 28 people had been registered as members of the assocation. Their 1500 volunteers and donors were invited to join but kept off the books. As the organization's contempt for membership became apparent, I started to feel Orwell's animals coming to life. As he wrote all those years ago, All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others. In FSFE's case, we could say all Fellows are equal but some Fellows are more equal than others.

[...]

Animal Farm is only one side of the Orwellian coin, the other being his uncannily accurate tour-de-force of the modern surveillance state, Nineteen-Eighty-Four. All of the organizations mentioned above (Debian, FSFE) are secretly funded by Google. Would you be less surprised to find a bible in a church than to find Nineteen-Eighty-Four under the pillows of Google's founders? One of the most startling discoveries during my time as community representative was the extent to which all of these organizations had built their budgets around recurring annual contributions from Google. Their experiments in demotions arose at exactly the same time that women in Google's workforce who spoke up against harassment found themselves being publicly demoted and humiliated. It was revealed that one of the organizations, Debian, had secretly banked $300,000 from Google under the radar at the same time that attention was on an identical-sized donation from a non-profit, the Handshake Foundation. What a convenient cover. After Linux Foundation and FSFE had decided to eliminate their annual elections, Google's money had a community representative "demoted" to a lower status in Debian just days before the call for nominations in leadership elections.

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