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Why Choose FreeBSD?

FreeBSD is my preferred OS thanks to ZFS, disk encryption, the wholly-owned base system, ports/packages, jails for securing network services, and the community.

A few years ago, I found myself looking for a new OS for day-to-day use. I'd been using Mac OS X for several years because my employer provided a MacBook Pro and I really loved the nice, clean Aqua UI on top of a POSIX compliant core. However, I was setting up a desktop, didn't want to spend a fortune on Apple hardware, and wasn't sure I liked the direction Apple was heading with OS X by making it more like iOS. My requirements pretty much boiled down to security (including support for full-disk encryption), stability, flexibility, software freedom, and a thriving community for those inevitable times when I would need some wisdom. If you're reading this blog, I probably don't need to tell you why Windows was ruled out before the competition started.

Open Source and the Free Software Ride

Despite existing open source revenue models, even popular projects are facing extinction. Is the free software ride over or is there something we can do?

Open source software powers the modern world. From operating systems to web servers and desktop applications, not only does open source deliver, but it provides truly competitive options. Given the prevalence of free and open source software, or FOSS, why are seemingly successful projects on the brink of collapse? The developers of TrueCrypt laid down their keyboards and walked away. Werner Koch announced that he was unable to justify further effort on GnuPG after 18 years. When critical security vulnerabilities were discovered, the OpenSSL maintainers revealed that they were grossly understaffed with a single full-time employee and averaging $2k per year in donations.

Core Web Application for PHP Released

The Core Web Application Libraries provide a logger, database layer, and MVC framework for PHP. The code is available on GitHub along with 2 example projects.

When I built this site, I chose to start from scratch for several reasons. I could've thrown something together using any one of the open source content management systems, but I've been down that road before. Once you customize a popular CMS, it becomes an outright burden to keep up with security fixes and other updates. It's convenient to have so many features and plugins at your disposal, but having thousands of lines of unused/inapplicable code with frequent vulnerability fixes can leave you with an uneasy feeling about what's creeping into each release. Once you have multiple sites in that state, maintaining them starts to feel cumbersome or, worse, like a second job. Additionally, I wanted the freedom to use the code in any project I work on whether I retain ownership of the finished product or not.

Migrating from Feedly to Nextcloud News

It's easy to migrate RSS subscriptions from Feedly to Nextcloud News, but saved articles are more complicated. Here's a bit of JavaScript to simplify the task.

I'll admit to using a few cloud services in moderation, but I tend to choose privacy over storing my life on other people's computers. While I was on vacation at the end of 2016, I set up a Nextcloud server to replace my privately hosted and very outdated solutions for syncing contacts (Kolab over IMAP) and calendars (ICS over WebDAV). After setting it up, I was surprised to find a News app for Nextcloud that adds support for RSS/Atom feed subscriptions. Of course, there are also apps that provide access to those subscriptions from mobile devices. Stop allowing Feedly to monitor my online reading habits? That sounded like icing on the cake to me.

FreeBSD Shell Scripts Added to GitHub

I use some shell script libraries to make FreeBSD system configuration easier. They're now available as freebsd-scripts on GitHub for anyone to use and improve.

I recently switched my hosting provider from Digital Ocean to Vultr to get tighter control over the configuration—a more "pure" FreeBSD installation. While updating my notes to prep for the install, I considered how many configuration steps were basic file editing: add this line under that line, uncomment this line, comment that line, etc. I love the simplicity that comes when the code is the documentation, so I decided to create a small file I/O library to make it easier to write shell scripts for system configuration. Why bother maintaining notes to describe manual changes when I could write a script to perform the changes automatically?

Introducing the Sitka Logger

Sitka is an extremely lightweight but powerful Node.js logger that's great for cloud/serverless applications.

Although it's a very small project, I'm excited to release my first open source Node.js package today. Sitka is an extremely lightweight but powerful logger that's great for modern cloud/serverless applications. It can be installed using the Sitka NPM package and the source code for Sitka is on GitHub. Yes, there were already tons of loggers to choose from. When I browsed through them, most seemed to fall into 2 categories: many felt too rigid while others were "kitchen sink" projects trying to do far too much. A logger is an essential part of every application, but it should be simple to use and stay out of your way. As a minimalist, I want something flexible without a lot of overhead. Sitka stands on its own with less than 250 lines of code and without importing any dependencies—much less half a dozen.

AWS Summit 2018 in Atlanta

I spent a day joining 3 presentations and 2 workshops at AWS Summit 2018 in Atlanta. Read my summary and suggestions to get more out of an AWS Summit near you.

I've been working on a new product at Nokia for the past few months, and we're leveraging Amazon Web Services for rapid development. This is my first AWS project, so it's a lot to take in. That process has gone well, but there are still many services I haven't even touched on. When I heard Amazon was hosting a free AWS Summit in Atlanta, I decided to attend and see what I could learn. I had to run some errands early in the day, so I only spent about 6 1/2 hours at the event. Still, I was glad to have the opportunity to check it out. Since there are more summits scheduled this year (and presumably ongoing), I'm writing to both share my experience and to help anyone considering a future Summit. If you're attending an AWS Summit near you or on the fence about it, read on to see what to expect and get some tips around planning.

Open Source Software Explained

Open source software powers the modern world. Take a non-technical dive into the basics of open source, explore its appeal, and discover its significant impact.

After more than 20 years in the software industry, the aspect I find most interesting is how open source software has evolved from "something us geeks use" to being so prevalent that it goes unnoticed most of the time. Everyone knows computing has changed the world, but few people outside the IT industry recognize how much of that progress was driven by the open source movement. To really appreciate its influence requires some background, so I found a few videos to explain the key points and added a bit of elaboration. I also glossed over some nuances to keep it simple. If you're not a technical person but want to understand what's so exciting about open source or even a geek at heart seeking a simple introduction, this post is for you.

List All Installed NPM Packages and Versions

Multiple NPM packages were hit by supply chain attacks recently: ua-parser-js, coa, rc. How can you check your installed NPM packages for an affected version?

jq logo

jq can be used to query NPM package data