Search Results: "josh"

22 August 2022

Jonathan Wiltshire: Team Roles and Tuckman s Model, for Debian teams

When I first moved from being a technical consultant to a manager of other consultants, I took a 5-day course Managing Technical Teams a bootstrap for managing people within organisations, but with a particular focus on technical people. We do have some particular quirks, after all Two elements of that course keep coming to mind when doing Debian work, and they both relate to how teams fit together and get stuff done. Tuckman s four stages model In the mid-1960s Bruce W. Tuckman developed a four-stage descriptive model of the stages a project team goes through in its lifetime. They are:
Resolved disagreements and personality clashes result in greater intimacy, and a spirit of co-operation emerges.
Teams need to understand these stages because a team can regress to earlier stages when its composition or goals change. A new member, the departure of an existing member, changes in supervisor or leadership style can all lead a team to regress to the storming stage and fail to perform for a time. When you see a team member say this, as I observed in an IRC channel recently, you know the team is performing:
nice teamwork these busy days Seen on IRC in the channel of a performing team
Tuckman s model describes a team s performance overall, but how can team members establish what they can contribute and how can they go doing so confidently and effectively? Belbin s Team Roles
The types of behaviour in which people engage are infinite. But the range of useful behaviours, which make an effective contribution to team performance, is finite. These behaviours are grouped into a set number of related clusters, to which the term Team Role is applied. Belbin, R M. Team Roles at Work. Oxford: Butterworth-Heinemann, 2010
Dr Meredith Belbin s thesis, based on nearly ten years research during the 1970s and 1980s, is that each team has a number of roles which need to be filled at various times, but they re not innate characteristics of the people filling them. People may have attributes which make them more or less suited to each role, and they can consciously take up a role if they recognise its need in the team at a particular time. Belbin s nine team roles are: (adapted from https://www.belbin.com/media/3471/belbin-team-role-descriptions-2022.pdf) A well-balanced team, Belbin asserts, isn t comprised of multiples of nine individuals who fit into one of these roles permanently. Rather, it has a number of people who are comfortable to wear some of these hats as the need arises. It s even useful to use the team roles as language: for example, someone playing a shaper might say the way we ve always done this is holding us back , to which a co-ordinator s could respond Steve, Joanna put on your Plant hats and find some new ideas. Talk to Susan and see if she knows someone who s tackled this before. Present the options to Nigel and he ll help evaluate which ones might work for us. Teams in Debian There are all sort of teams in Debian those which are formally brought into operation by the DPL or the constitution; package maintenance teams; public relations teams; non-technical content teams; special interest teams; and a whole heap of others. Teams can be formal and informal, fleeting or long-lived, two people working together or dozens. But they all have in common the Tuckman stages of their development and the Belbin team roles they need to fill to flourish. At some stage in their existence, they will all experience new or departing team members and a period of re-forming, norming and storming perhaps fleetingly, perhaps not. And at some stage they will all need someone to step into a team role, play the part and get the team one step further towards their goals. Footnote Belbin Associates, the company Meredith Belbin established to promote and continue his work, offers a personalised report with guidance about which roles team members show the strongest preferences for, and how to make best use of them in various settings. They re quick to complete and can also take into account observers , i.e. how others see a team member. All my technical staff go through this process blind shortly after they start, so as not to bias their input, and then we discuss the roles and their report in detail as a one-to-one. There are some teams in Debian for which this process and discussion as a group activity could be invaluable. I have no particular affiliation with Belbin Associates other than having used the reports and the language of team roles for a number of years. If there s sufficient interest for a BoF session at the next DebConf, I could probably be persuaded to lead it.
Photo by Josh Calabrese on Unsplash

5 April 2022

Kees Cook: security things in Linux v5.10

Previously: v5.9 Linux v5.10 was released in December, 2020. Here s my summary of various security things that I found interesting: AMD SEV-ES
While guest VM memory encryption with AMD SEV has been supported for a while, Joerg Roedel, Thomas Lendacky, and others added register state encryption (SEV-ES). This means it s even harder for a VM host to reconstruct a guest VM s state. x86 static calls
Josh Poimboeuf and Peter Zijlstra implemented static calls for x86, which operates very similarly to the static branch infrastructure in the kernel. With static branches, an if/else choice can be hard-coded, instead of being run-time evaluated every time. Such branches can be updated too (the kernel just rewrites the code to switch around the branch ). All these principles apply to static calls as well, but they re for replacing indirect function calls (i.e. a call through a function pointer) with a direct call (i.e. a hard-coded call address). This eliminates the need for Spectre mitigations (e.g. RETPOLINE) for these indirect calls, and avoids a memory lookup for the pointer. For hot-path code (like the scheduler), this has a measurable performance impact. It also serves as a kind of Control Flow Integrity implementation: an indirect call got removed, and the potential destinations have been explicitly identified at compile-time. network RNG improvements
In an effort to improve the pseudo-random number generator used by the network subsystem (for things like port numbers and packet sequence numbers), Linux s home-grown pRNG has been replaced by the SipHash round function, and perturbed by (hopefully) hard-to-predict internal kernel states. This should make it very hard to brute force the internal state of the pRNG and make predictions about future random numbers just from examining network traffic. Similarly, ICMP s global rate limiter was adjusted to avoid leaking details of network state, as a start to fixing recent DNS Cache Poisoning attacks. SafeSetID handles GID
Thomas Cedeno improved the SafeSetID LSM to handle group IDs (which required teaching the kernel about which syscalls were actually performing setgid.) Like the earlier setuid policy, this lets the system owner define an explicit list of allowed group ID transitions under CAP_SETGID (instead of to just any group), providing a way to keep the power of granting this capability much more limited. (This isn t complete yet, though, since handling setgroups() is still needed.) improve kernel s internal checking of file contents
The kernel provides LSMs (like the Integrity subsystem) with details about files as they re loaded. (For example, loading modules, new kernel images for kexec, and firmware.) There wasn t very good coverage for cases where the contents were coming from things that weren t files. To deal with this, new hooks were added that allow the LSMs to introspect the contents directly, and to do partial reads. This will give the LSMs much finer grain visibility into these kinds of operations. set_fs removal continues
With the earlier work landed to free the core kernel code from set_fs(), Christoph Hellwig made it possible for set_fs() to be optional for an architecture. Subsequently, he then removed set_fs() entirely for x86, riscv, and powerpc. These architectures will now be free from the entire class of kernel address limit attacks that only needed to corrupt a single value in struct thead_info. sysfs_emit() replaces sprintf() in /sys
Joe Perches tackled one of the most common bug classes with sprintf() and snprintf() in /sys handlers by creating a new helper, sysfs_emit(). This will handle the cases where kernel code was not correctly dealing with the length results from sprintf() calls, which might lead to buffer overflows in the PAGE_SIZE buffer that /sys handlers operate on. With the helper in place, it was possible to start the refactoring of the many sprintf() callers. nosymfollow mount option
Mattias Nissler and Ross Zwisler implemented the nosymfollow mount option. This entirely disables symlink resolution for the given filesystem, similar to other mount options where noexec disallows execve(), nosuid disallows setid bits, and nodev disallows device files. Quoting the patch, it is useful as a defensive measure for systems that need to deal with untrusted file systems in privileged contexts. (i.e. for when /proc/sys/fs/protected_symlinks isn t a big enough hammer.) Chrome OS uses this option for its stateful filesystem, as symlink traversal as been a common attack-persistence vector. ARMv8.5 Memory Tagging Extension support
Vincenzo Frascino added support to arm64 for the coming Memory Tagging Extension, which will be available for ARMv8.5 and later chips. It provides 4 bits of tags (covering multiples of 16 byte spans of the address space). This is enough to deterministically eliminate all linear heap buffer overflow flaws (1 tag for free , and then rotate even values and odd values for neighboring allocations), which is probably one of the most common bugs being currently exploited. It also makes use-after-free and over/under indexing much more difficult for attackers (but still possible if the target s tag bits can be exposed). Maybe some day we can switch to 128 bit virtual memory addresses and have fully versioned allocations. But for now, 16 tag values is better than none, though we do still need to wait for anyone to actually be shipping ARMv8.5 hardware. fixes for flaws found by UBSAN
The work to make UBSAN generally usable under syzkaller continues to bear fruit, with various fixes all over the kernel for stuff like shift-out-of-bounds, divide-by-zero, and integer overflow. Seeing these kinds of patches land reinforces the the rationale of shifting the burden of these kinds of checks to the toolchain: these run-time bugs continue to pop up. flexible array conversions
The work on flexible array conversions continues. Gustavo A. R. Silva and others continued to grind on the conversions, getting the kernel ever closer to being able to enable the -Warray-bounds compiler flag and clear the path for saner bounds checking of array indexes and memcpy() usage. That s it for now! Please let me know if you think anything else needs some attention. Next up is Linux v5.11.

2022, Kees Cook. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 License.
CC BY-SA 4.0

11 March 2022

Dirk Eddelbuettel: dtts 0.1.0 on CRAN: New Package

Leonardo and I are thrilled to announce the first CRAN release of dtts. The dtts package builds on top of both our nanotime package and the well-loved and widely-used data.table package by Matt, Arun, Jan, and numerous collaborators. In a very rough nutshell, you can think of dtts as combining both these potent ingredients to produce something not-entirely-unlike the venerable xts package by our friends Jeff and Josh but using highest-precision nanosecond increments rather than not-quite-microseconds or dates. The package is still somewhat rare and bare: it is mostly just alignment operators. But because of the power and genius of data.table not all that much more is needed because data.table gets us fifteen years of highly refined, tuned and tested code for data slicing, dicing, and aggregation. To which we now humbly add nanosecond-resolution indexing and alignment. The package had been simmering for some time, and does of course take advantage of (a lot of) earlier work by Leonardo on his ztsdb project. We look forward to user feedback and suggestions at the GitHub repo. If you like this or other open-source work I do, you can now sponsor me at GitHub.

This post by Dirk Eddelbuettel originated on his Thinking inside the box blog. Please report excessive re-aggregation in third-party for-profit settings.

24 February 2022

Dirk Eddelbuettel: #36: pub/sub for live market monitoring with R and Redis

Welcome to the 36th post of the really randomly reverberating R, or R4 for short, write-ups. Today s post is about using Redis, and especially RcppRedis, for live or (near) real-time monitoring with R. market monitor There is an saying that you can take the boy out of the valley, but you cannot the valley out of the boy so for those of us who spent a decade or two in finance and on trading floors, having some market price information available becomes second nature. And/or sometimes it is just good fun to program this. A good while back Josh posted a gist on a simple-yet-robust while loop. It (very cleverly) uses his quantmod package to access the SP500 in real-time . (I use quotes here because at the end of retail broadband one is not at the same market action as someone co-located in a New Jersey data center. It is however not delayed: as an index, it is not immediately tradeable as a stock, etf, or derivative may be all of which are only disseminated as delayed price information, usually by ten minutes.) I quite enjoyed the gist and used it and started tinkering with it. For example, it collects data but only saves (i.e. persists ) it after market close. If for whatever reason one needs to restart recent history is gone. In any event, I used his code and generalized it a little and published this about a year ago as function intradayMarketMonitor() in my dang package. (See this blog post announcing it.) The chart of the left shows this in action, the chart is a snapshot from a couple of days ago when the vignettes (more on them below) were written. As lovely as intradayMarketMonitor() is, it also limits itself to market hours. And sometimes you want to see, say, how the market opens on Sunday (futures usually restart at 17h Chicago time), or how news dissipates during the night, or where markets are pre-open, or . So I both wanted to complement this with futures, and also cache it locally so that, say, one machine might collect data and one (or several others) can visualize. For such tasks, Redis is unparalleled. (Yet I also always felt Redis could do with another, simple, short and sweet introduction stressing the key features of i) being multi-lingual: write in one language, consume in another and ii) loose coupling: no linking as one talks to Redis via standard tcp/ip networking. So I wrote a new intro vignette that is now in RcppRedis. I hope this comes in handy. Comments welcome!) Our RcppRedis package had long been used for such tasks, and it was easy to set it up. Standard use is to loop, fetch some data, push it to Redis, sleep, and start over. Clients do the same: fetch most recent data, plot or report it, sleep, start over. That works, but it has a dual delay as the client sleeping may miss the data update! The standard answer to this is called publish/pubscribe, or pub/sub. Libraries such as 0mq or zeromq specialise in this. But it turns out Redis already has it. I had some initial difficulty adding it to RcppRedis so for a trial I tested the marvellous rredis package by Bryan and simply instantiated two Redis clients. Now the data getter simply publishes a new data point in a given channel, by convention named after the security it tracks. Clients register with the Redis server which does all the actual work of keeping track of who listens to what. The clients now simply listen (which is a blocking operation) and as soon as data comes in receive it. market monitor This is quite mesmerizing when you just run two command-line clients (in a byobu session, say). As sone as the data is written (as shown on console log) it is consumed. No measruable overhead. Just lovely. Bryan and I then talked a litte as he may or may not retire rredis. Having implemented the pub/sub logic for both sides once, he took a good hard look at RcppRedis and just like that added it there. With some really clever wrinkles for (optional) per-symbol callback as closure attached to the instance. Truly amazeballs And once we had it in there, generalizing from publishing or subscribing to just one symbol easily generalizes to having one listener collect and publish for multiple symbols, and having one or more clients subscribe and listen one, more or even all symbol. All with ease thanks tp Redis. The second chart, also from a few days ago, shows four symbols for four (front-contract) futures for Bitcoin, Crude Oil, SP500, and Gold. As all this can get a little technical, I wrote a second vignette for RcppRedis on just this: market monitoring. Give this a read, if interested, feedback on this one is most welcome too! But all the code you need is included in the package just run a local Redis instance. Before closing, one sour note. I uploaded all this in a new and much improved updated RcppRedis 0.2.0 to CRAN on March 13 ten days ago. Not only is it still not there , but CRAN in their most delightful way also refuses to answer any emails of mine. Just lovely. The package exhibited just one compiler warning: a C++ compiler objected to the (embedded) C library hiredis (included as a fallback) for using a C language construct. Yes. A C++ compiler complaining about C. It s a non-issue. Yet it s been ten days and we still have nothing. So irritating and demotivating. Anyway, you can get the package off its GitHub repo. If you like this or other open-source work I do, you can sponsor me at GitHub.

This post by Dirk Eddelbuettel originated on his Thinking inside the box blog. Please report excessive re-aggregation in third-party for-profit settings.

14 January 2022

Norbert Preining: Future of my packages in Debian

After having been (again) demoted (timed perfectly to my round birthday!) based on flimsy arguments, I have been forced to rethink the level of contribution I want to do for Debian. Considering in particular that I have switched my main desktop to dual-boot into Arch Linux (all on the same btrfs fs with subvolumes, great!) and have run Arch now for several days exclusively, I think it is time to review the packages I am somehow responsible for (full list of packages). After about 20 years in Debian, time to send off quite some stuff that has accumulated over time. KDE/Plasma, frameworks, Gears, and related packages All these packages are group maintained, so there is not much to worry about. Furthermore, a few new faces have joined the team and are actively working on the packages, although mostly on Qt6. I guess that with me not taking action, frameworks, gears, and plasma will fall back over time (frameworks: Debian 5.88 versus current 5.90, gears: Debian 21.08 versus current 21.12, plasma uptodate at the moment). With respect to my packages on OBS, they will probably also go stale over time. Using Arch nowadays I lack the development tools necessary to build Debian packages, and above all, the motivation. I am sorry for all those who have learned to rely on my OBS packages over the last years, bringing modern and uptodate KDE/Plasma to Debian/stable, please direct your complaints at the responsible entities in Debian. Cinnamon As I have written already here, I have reduced my involvement quite a lot, and nowadays Fabio and Joshua are doing the work. But both are not even DM (AFAIR) and I am the only one doing uploads (I got DM upload permissions for it). But I am not sure how long I will continue doing this. This also means that in the near future, Cinnamon will also go stale. TeX related packages Hilmar has DM upload permissions and is very actively caring for the packages, so I don t see any source of concern here. New packages will need to find a new uploader, though. With myself also being part of upstream, I can surely help out in the future with difficult problems. Calibre and related packages Yokota-san (another DM I have sponsored) has DM upload permissions and is very actively caring for the packages, so also here there is not much of concern. Onedrive This is already badly outdated, and I recommend using the OBS builds which are current and provide binaries for Ubuntu and Debian for various versions. ROCm Here fortunately a new generation of developers has taken over maintenance and everything is going smoothly, much better than I could have done, yeah to that! Qalculate related packages These are group maintained, but unfortunately nobody else but me has touched the repos for quite some time. I fear that the packages will go stale rather soon. isync/mbsync I have recently salvaged this package, and use it daily, but I guess it needs to be orphaned sooner or later. CafeOBJ While I am also part of upstream here, I guess it will be orphaned. Julia Julia is group maintained, but unfortunately nobody else but me has touched the repo for quite some time, and we are already far behind the normal releases (and julia got removed from testing). While go stale/orphaned. I recommend installing upstream binaries. python-mechanize Another package that is group maintained in the Python team, but with only me as uploader I guess it will go stale and effectively be orphaned soon. xxhash Has already by orphaned. qpdfview No upstream development, so not much to do, but will be orphaned, too.

13 January 2022

Daniel Lange: Leveling the playing field for non-native speakers

Wordle game screenshort of bash, grep and pipes

Updates 24.01.2022: What I love about the community is the playful creativity that inspires a game like Wordle and that in turn inspires others to create fun tools around it: Robert Reichel has reverse engineered the Wordle application, so in case you want to play tomorrow's word today .. you can. Or have that one guess "Genius" solution experience. JP Fosterson created a Wordle helper that is very much the Python version of my grep-foo above. In case you play regularly and can use a hand. And Tom Lockwood wrote a Wordle solver also in Python. He blogged about it and ... is pondering to rewrite things in Rust:

I ve decided to explore Rust for this, and so far what was taking 1GB of RAM in Python is taking, literally 1MB in Rust!
Welcome to 2022. 01.02.2022: OMG. Wordle has been bought by the New York Times for "for a price in the low seven figures" (Source). Joey Rees-Hill put it well in The Death of Wordle:
Today s Web is dominated by platforms. The average Web user will spend most of their time on large platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, Google Drive/Docs, YouTube, Netflix, Spotify, Gmail, and Google Calendar, along with sites operated by large publishers such as The New York Times or The Washington Post. [..]
The Web wasn t always this way. I m not old enough to remember this, but things weren t always so centralized. Web users might run their own small website, and certainly would visit a good variety of smaller sites. With the increasing availability of internet access, the Web has become incredibly commercialized, with a handful of companies concentrating Web activity on their own properties.
Wordle was a small site that gained popularity despite not being part of a corporate platform. It was wonderful to see an independent site gain attention for being simple and fun. Wordle was refreshingly free of attention-manipulating dark patterns and pushy monetization. That s why it s a shame to see it absorbed, to inevitably become just another feature of one large media company s portfolio.
Still kudos to Josh Wardle, a Million Pounds for Wordle. Well done! It was fun while it lasted. Let's see what the next Wordle will be. This one has just been absorbed into the borg collective.

13 May 2021

Shirish Agarwal: Population, Immigration, Vaccines and Mass-Surveilance.

The Population Issue and its many facets Another couple of weeks passed. A Lot of things happening, lots of anger and depression in folks due to handling in pandemic, but instead of blaming they are willing to blame everybody else including the population. Many of them want forced sterilization like what Sanjay Gandhi did during the Emergency (1975). I had to share So Long, My son . A very moving tale of two families of what happened to them during the one-child policy in China. I was so moved by it and couldn t believe that the Chinese censors allowed it to be produced, shot, edited, and then shared worldwide. It also won a couple of awards at the 69th Berlin Film Festival, silver bear for the best actor and the actress in that category. But more than the award, the theme, and the concept as well as the length of the movie which was astonishing. Over a 3 hr. something it paints a moving picture of love, loss, shame, relief, anger, and asking for forgiveness. All of which can be identified by any rational person with feelings worldwide.

Girl child What was also interesting though was what it couldn t or wasn t able to talk about and that is the Chinese leftover men. In fact, a similar situation exists here in India, only it has been suppressed. This has been more pronounced more in Asia than in other places. One big thing in this is human trafficking and mostly women trafficking. For the Chinese male, that was happening on a large scale from all neighboring countries including India. This has been shared in media and everybody knows about it and yet people are silent. But this is not limited to just the Chinese, even Indians have been doing it. Even yesteryear actress Rupa Ganguly was caught red-handed but then later let off after formal questioning as she is from the ruling party. So much for justice. What is and has been surprising at least for me is Rwanda which is in the top 10 of some of the best places in equal gender. It, along with other African countries have also been in news for putting quite a significant amount of percentage of GDP into public healthcare (between 20-10%), but that is a story for a bit later. People forget or want to forget that it was in Satara, a city in my own state where 220 girls changed their name from nakusha or unwanted to something else and that had become a piece of global news. One would think that after so many years, things would have changed, the only change that has happened is that now we have two ministries, The Ministry of Women and Child Development (MoWCD) and The Ministry of Health and Welfare (MoHFW). Sadly, in both cases, the ministries have been found wanting, Whether it was the high-profile Hathras case or even the routine cries of help which given by women on the twitter helpline. Sadly, neither of these ministries talks about POSH guidelines which came up after the 2012 gangrape case. For both these ministries, it should have been a pinned tweet. There is also the 1994 PCPNDT Act which although made in 1994, actually functioned in 2006, although what happens underground even today nobody knows  . On the global stage, about a decade ago, Stephen J. Dubner and Steven Levitt argued in their book Freakonomics how legalized abortion both made the coming population explosion as well as expected crime rates to be reduced. There was a huge pushback on the same from the conservatives and has become a matter of debate, perhaps something that the Conservatives wanted. Interestingly, it hasn t made them go back but go forward as can be seen from the Freakonomics site.

Climate Change Another topic that came up for discussion was repeatedly climate change, but when I share Shell s own 1998 Confidential report titled Greenhouse effect all become strangely silent. The silence here is of two parts, there probably is a large swathe of Indians who haven t read the report and there may be a minority who have read it and know what already has been shared with U.S. Congress. The Conservative s argument has been for it is jobs and a weak we need to research more . There was a partial debunk of it on the TBD podcast by Matt Farell and his brother Sean Farell as to how quickly the energy companies are taking to the coming change.

Health Budget Before going to Covid stories. I first wanted to talk about Health Budgets. From the last 7 years the Center s allocation for health has been between 0.34 to 0.8% per year. That amount barely covers the salaries to the staff, let alone any money for equipment or anything else. And here by allocation I mean, what is actually spent, not the one that is shared by GOI as part of budget proposal. In fact, an article on Wire gives a good breakdown of the numbers. Even those who are on the path of free markets describe India s health business model as a flawed one. See the Bloomberg Quint story on that. Now let me come to Rwanda. Why did I chose Rwanda, I could have chosen South Africa where I went for Debconf 2016, I chose because Rwanda s story is that much more inspiring. In many ways much more inspiring than that South Africa in many ways. Here is a country which for decades had one war or the other, culminating into the Rwanda Civil War which ended in 1994. And coincidentally, they gained independence on a similar timeline as South Africa ending Apartheid in 1994. What does the country do, when it gains its independence, it first puts most of its resources in the healthcare sector. The first few years at 20% of GDP, later than at 10% of GDP till everybody has universal medical coverage. Coming back to the Bloomberg article I shared, the story does not go into the depth of beyond-expiry date medicines, spurious medicines and whatnot. Sadly, most media in India does not cover the deaths happening in rural areas and this I am talking about normal times. Today what is happening in rural areas is just pure madness. For last couple of days have been talking with people who are and have been covering rural areas. In many of those communities, there is vaccine hesitancy and why, because there have been whatsapp forwards sharing that if you go to a hospital you will die and your kidney or some other part of the body will be taken by the doctor. This does two things, it scares people into not going and getting vaccinated, at the same time they are prejudiced against science. This is politics of the lowest kind. And they do it so that they will be forced to go to temples or babas and what not and ask for solutions. And whether they work or not is immaterial, they get fixed and property and money is seized. Sadly, there are not many Indian movies of North which have tried to show it except for oh my god but even here it doesn t go the distance. A much more honest approach was done in Trance . I have never understood how the South Indian movies are able to do a more honest job of story-telling than what is done in Bollywood even though they do in 1/10th the budget that is needed in Bollywood. Although, have to say with OTT, some baggage has been shed but with the whole film certification rearing its ugly head through MEITY orders, it seems two steps backward instead of forward. The idea being simply to infantilize the citizens even more. That is a whole different ball-game which probably will require its own space.

Vaccine issues One good news though is that Vaccination has started. But it has been a long story full of greed by none other than GOI (Government of India) or the ruling party BJP. Where should I start with. I probably should start with this excellent article done by Priyanka Pulla. It is interesting and fascinating to know how vaccines are made, at least one way which she shared. She also shared about the Cutter Incident which happened in the late 50 s. The response was on expected lines, character assassination of her and the newspaper they published but could not critique any of the points made by her. Not a single point that she didn t think about x or y. Interestingly enough, in January 2021 Bharati Biotech was supposed to be share phase 3 trial data but hasn t been put up in public domain till May 2021. In fact, there have been a few threads raised by both well-meaning Indians as well as others globally especially on twitter to which GOI/ICMR (Indian Council of Medical Research) is silent. Another interesting point to note is that Russia did say in its press release that it is possible that their vaccine may not be standard (read inactivation on their vaccines and another way is possible but would take time, again Brazil has objected, but India hasn t till date.) What also has been interesting is the homegrown B.1.617 lineage or known as double mutant . This was first discovered from my own state, Maharashtra and then transported around the world. There is also B.1.618 which was found in West Bengal and is same or supposed to be similar to the one found in South Africa. This one is known as Triple mutant . About B.1.618 we don t know much other than knowing that it is much more easily transferable, much more infectious. Most countries have banned flights from India and I cannot fault them anyway. Hell, when even our diplomats do not care for procedures to be followed during the pandemic then how a common man is supposed to do. Of course, now for next month, Mr. Modi was supposed to go and now will not attend the G7 meeting. Whether, it is because he would have to face the press (the only Prime Minister and the only Indian Prime Minister who never has faced free press.) or because the Indian delegation has been disinvited, we would never know.

A good article which shares lots of lows with how things have been done in India has been an article by Arundhati Roy. And while the article in itself is excellent and shares a bit of the bitter truth but is still incomplete as so much has been happening. The problem is that the issue manifests in so many ways, it is difficult to hold on. As Arundhati shared, should we just look at figures and numbers and hold on, or should we look at individual ones, for e.g. the one shared in Outlook India. Or the one shared by Dr. Dipshika Ghosh who works in Covid ICU in some hospital
Dr. Dipika Ghosh sharing an incident in Covid Ward

Interestingly as well, while in the vaccine issue, Brazil Anvisa doesn t know what they are doing or the regulator just isn t knowledgeable etc. (statements by various people in GOI, when it comes to testing kits, the same is an approver.)

ICMR/DGCI approving internationally validated kits, Press release.

Twitter In the midst of all this, one thing that many people have forgotten and seem to have forgotten that Twitter and other tools are used by only the elite. The reason why the whole thing has become serious now than in the first phase is because the elite of India have also fallen sick and dying which was not the case so much in the first phase. The population on Twitter is estimated to be around 30-34 million and people who are everyday around 20 odd million or so, which is what 2% of the Indian population which is estimated to be around 1.34 billion. The other 98% don t even know that there is something like twitter on which you can ask help. Twitter itself is exclusionary in many ways, with both the emoticons, the language and all sorts of things. There is a small subset who does use Twitter in regional languages, but they are too small to write anything about. The main language is English which does become a hindrance to lot of people.

Censorship Censorship of Indians critical of Govt. mishandling has been non-stop. Even U.S. which usually doesn t interfere into India s internal politics was forced to make an exception. But of course, this has been on deaf ears. There is and was a good thread on Twitter by Gaurav Sabnis, a friend, fellow Puneite now settled in U.S. as a professor.
Gaurav on Trump-Biden on vaccination of their own citizens
Now just to surmise what has been happened in India and what has been happening in most of the countries around the world. Most of the countries have done centralization purchasing of the vaccine and then is distributed by the States, this is what we understand as co-operative federalism. While last year, GOI took a lot of money under the shady PM Cares fund for vaccine purchase, donations from well-meaning Indians as well as Industries and trade bodies. Then later, GOI said it would leave the states hanging and it is they who would have to buy vaccines from the manufacturers. This is again cheap politics. The idea behind it is simple, GOI knows that almost all the states are strapped for cash. This is not new news, this I have shared a couple of months back. The problem has been that for the last 6-8 months no GST meeting has taken place as shared by Punjab s Finance Minister Amarinder Singh. What will happen is that all the states will fight in-between themselves for the vaccine and most of them are now non-BJP Governments. The idea is let the states fight and somehow be on top. So, the pandemic, instead of being a public health issue has become something of on which politics has to played. The news on whatsapp by RW media is it s ok even if a million or two also die, as it is India is heavily populated. Although that argument vanishes for those who lose their dear and near ones. But that just isn t the issue, the issue goes much more deeper than that Oxygen:12%
Remedisivir:12%
Sanitiser:12%
Ventilator:12%
PPE:18%
Ambulances 28% Now all the products above are essential medical equipment and should be declared as essential medical equipment and should have price controls on which GST is levied. In times of pandemic, should the center be profiting on those. States want to let go and even want the center to let go so that some relief is there to the public, while at the same time make them as essential medical equipment with price controls. But GOI doesn t want to. Leaders of opposition parties wrote open letters but no effect. What is sad to me is how Ambulances are being taxed at 28%. Are they luxury items or sin goods ? This also reminds of the recent discovery shared by Mr. Pappu Yadav in Bihar. You can see the color of ambulances as shared by Mr. Yadav, and the same news being shared by India TV news showing other ambulances. Also, the weak argument being made of not having enough drivers. Ideally, you should have 2-3 people, both 9-1-1 and Chicago Fire show 2 people in ambulance but a few times they have also shown to be flipped over. European seems to have three people in ambulance, also they are also much more disciplined as drivers, at least an opinion shared by an American expat.
Pappu Yadav, President Jan Adhikar Party, Bihar May 11, 2021
What is also interesting to note is GOI plays this game of Health is State subject and health is Central subject depending on its convenience. Last year, when it invoked the Epidemic and DMA Act it was a Central subject, now when bodies are flowing down the Ganges and pyres being lit everywhere, it becomes a State subject. But when and where money is involved, it again becomes a Central subject. The States are also understanding it, but they are fighting on too many fronts.
Snippets from Karnataka High Court hearing today, 13th March 2021
One of the good things is most of the High Courts have woken up. Many of the people on the RW think that the Courts are doing Judicial activism . And while there may be an iota of truth in it, the bitter truth is that many judges or relatives or their helpers have diagnosed and some have even died due to Covid. In face of the inevitable, what can they do. They are hauling up local Governments to make sure they are accountable while at the same time making sure that they get access to medical facilities. And I as a citizen don t see any wrong in that even if they are doing it for selfish reasons. Because, even if justice is being done for selfish reasons, if it does improve medical delivery systems for the masses, it is cool. If it means that the poor and everybody else are able to get vaccinations, oxygen and whatever they need, it is cool. Of course, we are still seeing reports of patients spending in the region of INR 50k and more for each day spent in hospital. But as there are no price controls, judges cannot do anything unless they want to make an enemy of the medical lobby in the country. A good story on medicines and what happens in rural areas, see no further than Laakhon mein ek.
Allahabad High Court hauling Uttar Pradesh Govt. for lack of Oxygen is equal to genocide, May 11, 2021
The censorship is not just related to takedown requests on twitter but nowadays also any articles which are critical of the GOI s handling. I have been seeing many articles which have shared facts and have been critical of GOI being taken down. Previously, we used to see 404 errors happen 7-10 years down the line and that was reasonable. Now we see that happen, days weeks or months. India seems to be turning more into China and North Korea and become more anti-science day-by-day

Fake websites Before going into fake websites, let me start with a fake newspaper which was started by none other than the Gujarat CM Mr. Modi in 2005 .
Gujarat Satya Samachar 2005 launched by Mr. Modi.
And if this wasn t enough than on Feb 8, 2005, he had invoked Official Secrets Act
Mr. Modi invoking Official Secrets Act, Feb 8 2005 Gujarat Samachar
The headlines were In Modi s regime press freedom is in peril-Down with Modi s dictatorship. So this was a tried and tested technique. The above information was shared by Mr. Urvish Kothari, who incidentally also has his own youtube channel. Now cut to 2021, and we have a slew of fake websites being done by the same party. In fact, it seems they started this right from 2011. A good article on BBC itself tells the story. Hell, Disinfo.eu which basically combats disinformation in EU has a whole pdf chronicling how BJP has been doing it. Some of the sites it shared are

Times of New York
Manchester Times
Times of Los Angeles
Manhattan Post
Washington Herald
and many more. The idea being take any site name which sounds similar to a brand name recognized by Indians and make fool of them. Of course, those of who use whois and other such tools can easily know what is happening. Two more were added to the list yesterday, Daily Guardian and Australia Today. There are of course, many features which tell them apart from genuine websites. Most of these are on shared hosting rather than dedicated hosting, most of these are bought either from Godaddy and Bluehost. While Bluehost used to be a class act once upon a time, both the above will do anything as long as they get money. Don t care whether it s a fake website or true. Capitalism at its finest or worst depending upon how you look at it. But most of these details are lost on people who do not know web servers, at all and instead think see it is from an exotic site, a foreign site and it chooses to have same ideas as me. Those who are corrupt or see politics as a tool to win at any cost will not see it as evil. And as a gentleman Raghav shared with me, it is so easy to fool us. An example he shared which I had forgotten. Peter England which used to be an Irish brand was bought by Aditya Birla group way back in 2000. But even today, when you go for Peter England, the way the packaging is done, the way the prices are, more often than not, people believe they are buying the Irish brand. While sharing this, there is so much of Naom Chomsky which comes to my mind again and again

Caste Issues I had written about caste issues a few times on this blog. This again came to the fore as news came that a Hindu sect used forced labor from Dalit community to make a temple. This was also shared by the hill. In both, Mr. Joshi doesn t tell that if they were volunteers then why their passports have been taken forcibly, also I looked at both minimum wage prevailing in New Jersey as a state as well as wage given to those who are in the construction Industry. Even in minimum wage, they were giving $1 when the prevailing minimum wage for unskilled work is $12.00 and as Mr. Joshi shared that they are specialized artisans, then they should be paid between $23 $30 per hour. If this isn t exploitation, then I don t know what is. And this is not the first instance, the first instance was perhaps the case against Cisco which was done by John Doe. While I had been busy with other things, it seems Cisco had put up both a demurrer petition and a petition to strike which the Court stayed. This seemed to all over again a type of apartheid practice, only this time applied to caste. The good thing is that the court stayed the petition. Dr. Ambedkar s statement if Hindus migrate to other regions on earth, Indian caste would become a world problem given at Columbia University in 1916, seems to be proven right in today s time and sadly has aged well. But this is not just something which is there only in U.S. this is there in India even today, just couple of days back, a popular actress Munmun Dutta used a casteist slur and then later apologized giving the excuse that she didn t know Hindi. And this is patently false as she has been in the Bollywood industry for almost now 16-17 years. This again, was not an isolated incident. Seema Singh, a lecturer in IIT-Kharagpur abused students from SC, ST backgrounds and was later suspended. There is an SC/ST Atrocities Act but that has been diluted by this Govt. A bit on the background of Dr. Ambedkar can be found at a blog on Columbia website. As I have shared and asked before, how do we think, for what reason the Age of Englightenment or the Age of Reason happened. If I were a fat monk or a priest who was privileges, would I have let Age of Enlightenment happen. It broke religion or rather Church which was most powerful to not so powerful and that power was more distributed among all sort of thinkers, philosophers, tinkers, inventors and so on and so forth.

Situation going forward I believe things are going to be far more complex and deadly before they get better. I had to share another term called Comorbidities which fortunately or unfortunately has also become part of twitter lexicon. While I have shared what it means, it simply means when you have an existing ailment or condition and then Coronavirus attacks you. The Virus will weaken you. The Vaccine in the best case just stops the damage, but the damage already done can t be reversed. There are people who advise and people who are taking steroids but that again has its own side-effects. And this is now, when we are in summer. I am afraid for those who have recovered, what will happen to them during the Monsoons. We know that the Virus attacks most the lungs and their quality of life will be affected. Even the immune system may have issues. We also know about the inflammation. And the grant that has been given to University of Dundee also has signs of worry, both for people like me (obese) as well as those who have heart issues already. In other news, my city which has been under partial lockdown since a month, has been extended for another couple of weeks. There are rumors that the same may continue till the year-end even if it means economics goes out of the window.There is possibility that in the next few months something like 2 million odd Indians could die
The above is a conversation between Karan Thapar and an Oxford Mathematician Dr. Murad Banaji who has shared that the under-counting of cases in India is huge. Even BBC shared an article on the scope of under-counting. Of course, those on the RW call of the evidence including the deaths and obituaries in newspapers as a narrative . And when asked that when deaths used to be in the 20 s or 30 s which has jumped to 200-300 deaths and this is just the middle class and above. The poor don t have the money to get wood and that is the reason you are seeing the bodies in Ganges whether in Buxar Bihar or Gajipur, Uttar Pradesh. The sights and visuals makes for sorry reading
Pandit Ranjan Mishra son on his father s death due to unavailability of oxygen, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, 11th May 2021.
For those who don t know Pandit Ranjan Mishra was a renowned classical singer. More importantly, he was the first person to suggest Mr. Modi s name as a Prime Ministerial Candidate. If they couldn t fulfil his oxygen needs, then what can be expected for the normal public.

Conclusion Sadly, this time I have no humorous piece to share, I can however share a documentary which was shared on Feluda . I have shared about Feluda or Prodosh Chandra Mitter a few times on this blog. He has been the answer of James Bond from India. I have shared previously about The Golden Fortress . An amazing piece of art by Satyajit Ray. I watched that documentary two-three times. I thought, mistakenly that I am the only fool or fan of Feluda in Pune to find out that there are people who are even more than me. There were so many facets both about Feluda and master craftsman Satyajit Ray that I was unaware about. I was just simply amazed. I even shared few of the tidbits with mum as well, although now she has been truly hooked to Korean dramas. The only solace from all the surrounding madness. So, if you have nothing to do, you can look up his books, read them and then see the movies. And my first recommendation would be the Golden Fortress. The only thing I would say, do not have high hopes. The movie is beautiful. It starts slow and then picks up speed, just like a train. So, till later. Update The Mass surveillance part I could not do justice do hence removed it at the last moment. It actually needs its whole space, article. There is so much that the Govt. is doing under the guise of the pandemic that it is difficult to share it all in one article. As it is, the article is big

18 February 2021

Dirk Eddelbuettel: dang 0.0.13: New intradayMarketMonitor

sp500 intraday monitor A new release of the dang package got to CRAN earlier today, a few months since the last relase. The dang package regroups a few functions of mine that had no other home as for example lsos() from a StackOverflow question from 2009 (!!) is one, this overbought/oversold price band plotter from an older blog post is another. This release adds one function I tweeted about one month ago. It takes a function Josh Ulrich originally tweeted about in November with a reference to this gist. I refactored this into a proper functions and polished a few edges: the data now properly rolls off after a fixed delay (of two days), should work with other symbols (though we both focused on ^GSPC as a free (!!) real-time SP500 index (albeit only during trading hours), properly gaps between trading days and more. You can simply invoke it via
dang::intradayMarketMonitor()
and a chart just like the one here will grow (though there is no state : if you stop it, or reboot, or the plot starts from scratch). The short NEWS entry follows.

Changes in version 0.0.13 (2021-02-17)
  • New function intradayMarketMonitor based on an earlier gist-posted snippet by Josh Ulrich.
  • The CI setup was generalized as a test for 'r-ci' and is used essentially unchanged with three different providers.

Courtesy of my CRANberries, there is a comparison to the previous release. For questions or comments use the issue tracker off the GitHub repo. If you like this or other open-source work I do, you can now sponsor me at GitHub.

This post by Dirk Eddelbuettel originated on his Thinking inside the box blog. Please report excessive re-aggregation in third-party for-profit settings.

27 January 2021

Jonathan Dowland: 2020 in Fiction

Cover for Susanna Clarke's Piranesi
Cover for Emily St. John Mandel's Station 11
I managed to read 31 "books" in 2020. I'm happy with that. I thought the Pandemic would prevent me reaching my goal (30), since I did most of my reading on the commute to the Newcastle office, pre-pandemic. Somehow I've managed to compensate. I started setting a goal for books read per year in 2012 when I started to use goodreads. Doing so started to influence the type of reading I do (which is the reason I stopped my Interzone subscription in 2014, although I resumed it again sometime afterwards). Once I realised that I've been a bit more careful to ensure setting a goal was a worthwhile thing to do and not just another source of stress in my life. Two books I read were published in 2020. The first was Robert Galbraith's (a.k.a. J K Rowling's) Troubled Blood, the fifth (and largest) in the series of crime novels featuring Cormoran Strike (and the equally important Robin Ellacott). Nowadays Rowling is a controversial figure, but I'm not writing about that today, or the book itself, in much detail: briefly, it exceeded expectations, and my wife and I really enjoyed it. The other was Susanna Clarke's Piranesi: an utterly fantastic modern-fantasy story, quite short, completely different to her successful debut novel Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell. I really loved this book, partly because it appeals to my love of fantasy geography, but also because it is very well put together, with a strong sense of the value of people's lives. A couple of the other books I read were quite Pandemic-appropriate. I tore through Josh Malerman's Bird Box, a fast-paced post-apocalyptic style horror/suspense story. The appeal was mostly in the construction and delivery: the story itself was strong enough to support the book at the length that it is, but I don't really feel it could have lasted much longer, and so I've no idea how the new sequel (Malorie) will work. The other was Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. This was a story about a group of travelling musicians in a post-apocalyptic (post-pandemic) North America. A cast of characters all revolve around their relationship (or six degrees of separation) to an actor who died just prior to the Pandemic. The world-building in this book was really strong, and I felt sufficiently invested in the characters that I would love to read more about them in another book. However, I think that (although I'm largely just guessing here), in common with Bird Box, the setting was there to support the novel and the ideas that the author wanted to get across, and so I (sadly) doubt she will return to it. Finally I read a lot of short fiction. I'll write more about that in a separate blog post.

17 January 2021

Wouter Verhelst: Software available through Extrepo

Just over 7 months ago, I blogged about extrepo, my answer to the "how do you safely install software on Debian without downloading random scripts off the Internet and running them as root" question. I also held a talk during the recent "MiniDebConf Online" that was held, well, online. The most important part of extrepo is "what can you install through it". If the number of available repositories is too low, there's really no reason to use it. So, I thought, let's look what we have after 7 months... To cut to the chase, there's a bunch of interesting content there, although not all of it has a "main" policy. Each of these can be enabled by installing extrepo, and then running extrepo enable <reponame>, where <reponame> is the name of the repository. Note that the list is not exhaustive, but I intend to show that even though we're nowhere near complete, extrepo is already quite useful in its current state:

Free software
  • The debian_official, debian_backports, and debian_experimental repositories contain Debian's official, backports, and experimental repositories, respectively. These shouldn't have to be managed through extrepo, but then again it might be useful for someone, so I decided to just add them anyway. The config here uses the deb.debian.org alias for CDN-backed package mirrors.
  • The belgium_eid repository contains the Belgian eID software. Obviously this is added, since I'm upstream for eID, and as such it was a large motivating factor for me to actually write extrepo in the first place.
  • elastic: the elasticsearch software.
  • Some repositories, such as dovecot, winehq and bareos contain upstream versions of their respective software. These two repositories contain software that is available in Debian, too; but their upstreams package their most recent release independently, and some people might prefer to run those instead.
  • The sury, fai, and postgresql repositories, as well as a number of repositories such as openstack_rocky, openstack_train, haproxy-1.5 and haproxy-2.0 (there are more) contain more recent versions of software packaged in Debian already by the same maintainer of that package repository. For the sury repository, that is PHP; for the others, the name should give it away. The difference between these repositories and the ones above is that it is the official Debian maintainer for the same software who maintains the repository, which is not the case for the others.
  • The vscodium repository contains the unencumbered version of Microsoft's Visual Studio Code; i.e., the codium version of Visual Studio Code is to code as the chromium browser is to chrome: it is a build of the same softare, but without the non-free bits that make code not entirely Free Software.
  • While Debian ships with at least two browsers (Firefox and Chromium), additional browsers are available through extrepo, too. The iridiumbrowser repository contains a Chromium-based browser that focuses on privacy.
  • Speaking of privacy, perhaps you might want to try out the torproject repository.
  • For those who want to do Cloud Computing on Debian in ways that isn't covered by Openstack, there is a kubernetes repository that contains the Kubernetes stack, the as well as the google_cloud one containing the Google Cloud SDK.

Non-free software While these are available to be installed through extrepo, please note that non-free and contrib repositories are disabled by default. In order to enable these repositories, you must first enable them; this can be accomplished through /etc/extrepo/config.yaml.
  • In case you don't care about freedom and want the official build of Visual Studio Code, the vscode repository contains it.
  • While we're on the subject of Microsoft, there's also Microsoft Teams available in the msteams repository. And, hey, skype.
  • For those who are not satisfied with the free browsers in Debian or any of the free repositories, there's opera and google_chrome.
  • The docker-ce repository contains the official build of Docker CE. While this is the free "community edition" that should have free licenses, I could not find a licensing statement anywhere, and therefore I'm not 100% sure whether this repository is actually free software. For that reason, it is currently marked as a non-free one. Merge Requests for rectifying that from someone with more information on the actual licensing situation of Docker CE would be welcome...
  • For gamers, there's Valve's steam repository.
Again, the above lists are not meant to be exhaustive. Special thanks go out to Russ Allbery, Kim Alvefur, Vincent Bernat, Nick Black, Arnaud Ferraris, Thorsten Glaser, Thomas Goirand, Juri Grabowski, Paolo Greppi, and Josh Triplett, for helping me build the current list of repositories. Is your favourite repository not listed? Create a configuration based on template.yaml, and file a merge request!

31 March 2020

Chris Lamb: Free software activities in March 2020

Here is my monthly update covering what I have been doing in the free software world during March 2020 (previous month):
  • As part of being on being on the judging panel of the OpenUK Awards I am pleased to announce that after some discussion nominations are now open until 15th June in five different categories.
  • Merged a number of contributions to my django-cache-toolbox "non-magical" caching library for Django web applications, including caching negative relation lookups locally (#14) and to include the README file in the package long description (#17).
  • Made some small changes to my tickle-me-email library which implements Gettings Things Done (GTD)-like behaviours in IMAP inboxes to support to optionally limiting the number of messages in the send-later functionality. [...]
In addition, I did even more hacking on the Lintian static analysis tool for Debian packages, including:
  • New features:
    • Check for py3versions -i in autopkgtests and debian/rules files. (#954763)
    • Warn when py3versions -s is used without a python3-all dependency. (#954763)
    • Expand possible-missing-colon-in-closes to also check for semicolons used in place of colons. (#954484)
    • Check for new packages that use a date-based versioning scheme (eg. YYYYMMDD-1) without a 0~ suffix. (#953036)
  • Improvements:
  • Misc:
    • Correct reference to build dependencies in the long description of the debian-rules-uses-installed-python-versions tag. [...]
    • Make some cosmetic improvements to the CONTRIBUTING.md file. [...]
    • Correct reference to a bug in a previous debian/changelog entry. [...]
    • Avoid indenting approximately 150 lines by returning early from a subroutine and other code improvements. [...]

Reproducible builds One of the original promises of open source software is that distributed peer review and transparency of process results in enhanced end-user security. However, whilst anyone may inspect the source code of free and open source software for malicious flaws, almost all software today is distributed as pre-compiled binaries. This allows nefarious third-parties to compromise systems by injecting malicious code into ostensibly secure software during the various compilation and distribution processes. The motivation behind the Reproducible Builds effort is to ensure no flaws have been introduced during this compilation process by promising identical results are always generated from a given source, thus allowing multiple third-parties to come to a consensus on whether a build was compromised. The initiative is proud to be a member project of the Software Freedom Conservancy, a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) charity focused on ethical technology and user freedom. Conservancy acts as a corporate umbrella allowing projects to operate as non-profit initiatives without managing their own corporate structure. If you like the work of the Conservancy or the Reproducible Builds project, please consider becoming an official supporter. This month, I:
  • Filed an issue against IMAP Spam Begone a script by Louis-Philippe V ronneau (pollo) that makes it easy to process an email inbox using SpamAssassin to report that a (duplicate) documentation entry includes nondeterministic value taken from the value of the XDG cache directory (#151) and filed an upstream pull requests against the pmemkv key-value data store to make their documentation build reproducibly (#615).
  • Further refined my merge request against the debian-installer component to allow all arguments from sources.list files (such as [check-valid-until=no]) in order that we can test the reproducibility of the installer images on the Reproducible Builds own testing infrastructure. (#13)
  • Submitted two following patches to fix reproducibility-related toolchain issues within Debian:
    • node-browserify-lite: Please make the output reproducible. (#954409)
    • pdb2pqr: Please make the aconf.py file reproducible. (#955287)
  • Submitted eight patches to fix specific reproducibility issues in beep (caused by a variation between /bin/dash and /bin/bash), cloudkitty (due to a default value being taken from the number of CPUs on the build machine), font-manager (embedding the value of @abs_top_srcdir@ into the resulting binary), gucharmap (due to embedding the absolute build path when generating a comment in a header file), infernal (timestamps are injected into a Python example, which should not be shipped anyway), ndisc6 (embeds the value of CFLAGS into the binary without sanitising any absolute build paths), node-nodedbi (embedded timestamp in binary) & pmemkv (does not respect SOURCE_DATE_EPOCH when populating a YEAR variable).
  • Kept isdebianreproducibleyet.com up to date. [...]
  • Continued collaborative work on an academic paper to be published within the next few months.
  • Categorised a large number of packages and issues in the Reproducible Builds "notes" repository.
  • Drafted, published and publicised our monthly report.
  • Improved our website, including correcting the syntax of some CSS class formatting [...], improved some "filed against" copy a little better [...] and corrected a reference to calendar.monthrange Python method. [...]
In our tooling, I also made the following changes to diffoscope, our in-depth and content-aware diff utility that can locate and diagnose reproducibility issues, including preparing and uploading version 138 to Debian:
  • Improvements:
    • Don't allow errors with R script deserialisation cause the entire operation to fail, for example if an external library cannot be loaded. (#91)
    • Experiment with memoising output from expensive external commands, eg. readelf. (#93)
    • Use dumppdf from the python3-pdfminer if we do not see any other differences from pdftext, etc. (#92)
    • Prevent a traceback when comparing two R .rdx files directly as the get_member method will return a file even if the file is missing. [...]
  • Reporting:
    • Display the supported file formats into the package long description. (#90)
    • Print a potentially-helpful message if the PyPDF2 module is not installed. [...]
    • Remove any duplicate comparator descriptions when formatting in the --help output or in the package long description. [...]
    • Weaken "Install the X package to get a better output." message to "... may produce a better output." as the former is not guaranteed. [...]
  • Misc:
    • Ensure we only parse the recommended packages from --list-debian-substvars when we want them for debian/tests/control generation. [...]
    • Add upstream metadata file [...] and add a Lintian override for upstream-metadata-in-native-source as "we" are upstream. [...]
    • Inline the RequiredToolNotFound.get_package method's functionality as it is only used once. [...]
    • Drop the deprecated "py36 = [..]" argument in the pyproject.toml file. [...]
The Reproducible Builds project also operates a fully-featured and comprehensive Jenkins-based testing framework that powers tests.reproducible-builds.org. This month, I reworked the web-based package rescheduling tool to:
  • Require a HTTP POST method in the web-based scheduler as not only should HTTP GET requests be idempotent but this will allow many future improvements in the user interface. [...][...][...]
  • Improve the authentication error message in the rescheduler to suggest that the developer's SSL certificate may have expired. [...]

Debian LTS This month I have worked 18 hours on Debian Long Term Support (LTS) and 8 hours on its sister Extended LTS project.
  • Investigated and triaged glibc (CVE-2020-1751), jackson-databind, libbsd (CVE-2019-20367), libvirt (CVE-2019-20485), netkit-telnet & netkit-telnet-ssl (CVE-2020-10188), pdfresurrect (CVE-2020-9549) & shiro (CVE-2020-1957), etc.
  • In the script that reserves a unique advisory number don't warn about potential duplicate work when issuing a regression in order to avoid this message being missed when it does apply. [...]
  • Frontdesk duties, responding to user/developer questions, reviewing others' packages, participating in mailing list discussions, etc.
  • xtrlock versions 2.8+deb9u1 (#949112) and 2.8+deb10u1 (#949113) was accepted to the Debian jessie and buster distributions.
  • Issued DLA 2115-2 to correct a regression in a previous fix (a use-after-free vulnerability) in the ProFTPD FTP server.
  • Issued DLA 2132-1 to fix an issue where incorrect default permissions on a HTTP cookie store could have allowed local attackers to read private credentials in libzypp, the library underpinning package management tools such as YaST, zypper and the openSUSE/SLE implementation of PackageKit.
  • Issued DLA 2134-1 to patch an out-of-bounds write vulnerability in pdfresurrect, a tool for extracting or scrubbing versioning data from PDF documents.
  • Issued DLA 2136-1, addressing an out-of-bounds buffer read vulnerability in libvpx, a library implementing the VP8 & VP9 video codecs.
  • Issued DLA 2142-1. It was discovered that there was a buffer overflow vulnerability in slirp, a SLIP/PPP emulator for using a dial up shell account. This was caused by the incorrect usage of return values from snprintf(3).
  • Issued DLA 2145-1 and DLA 2145-2 for twisted to prevent a large number of HTTP request splitting vulnerabilities in Twisted, a Python event-based framework for building various types of internet applications.
  • Issued ELA-219-1 to address an out-of-bounds read vulnerability during string comparisons in libbsd, a library of functions commonly available on BSD systems but not on others such as GNU.
You can find out more about the Debian LTS project via the following video:
Debian Uploads For the Debian Privacy Maintainers team I requested that the pyptlib package be removed from the archive (#953429) as well as uploading onionbalance (0.1.8-6) to fix test failures under Pytest 3.x (#953535) and a new upstream release of nautilus-wipe. Finally, I sponsored an upload of bilibop (0.6.1) on behalf of Yann Amar.

17 March 2020

Dirk Eddelbuettel: Rcpp 1.0.4: Lots of goodies

rcpp logo The fourth maintenance release 1.0.4 of Rcpp, following up on the 10th anniversary and the 1.0.0. release sixteen months ago, arrived on CRAN this morning. This follows a few days of gestation at CRAN. To help during the wait we provided this release via drat last Friday. And it followed a pre-release via drat a week earlier. But now that the release is official, Windows and macOS binaries will be built by CRAN over the next few days. The corresponding Debian package will be uploaded as a source package shortly after which binaries can be built. As with the previous releases Rcpp 1.0.1, Rcpp 1.0.2 and Rcpp 1.0.3, we have the predictable and expected four month gap between releases which seems appropriate given both the changes still being made (see below) and the relative stability of Rcpp. It still takes work to release this as we run multiple extensive sets of reverse dependency checks so maybe one day we will switch to six month cycle. For now, four months still seem like a good pace. Rcpp has become the most popular way of enhancing R with C or C++ code. As of today, 1873 packages on CRAN depend on Rcpp for making analytical code go faster and further, along with 191 in BioConductor. And per the (partial) logs of CRAN downloads, we are running steasy at one millions downloads per month. This release features quite a number of different pull requests by seven different contributors as detailed below. One (personal) highlight is the switch to tinytest.

Changes in Rcpp version 1.0.4 (2020-03-13)
  • Changes in Rcpp API:
    • Safer Rcpp_list*, Rcpp_lang* and Function.operator() (Romain in #1014, #1015).
    • A number of #nocov markers were added (Dirk in #1036, #1042 and #1044).
    • Finalizer calls clear external pointer first (Kirill M ller and Dirk in #1038).
    • Scalar operations with a rhs matrix no longer change the matrix value (Qiang in #1040 fixing (again) #365).
    • Rcpp::exception and Rcpp::stop are now more thread-safe (Joshua Pritikin in #1043).
  • Changes in Rcpp Attributes:
    • The cppFunction helper now deals correctly with mulitple depends arguments (TJ McKinley in #1016 fixing #1017).
    • Invisible return objects are now supported via new option (Kun Ren in #1025 fixing #1024).
    • Unavailable packages referred to in LinkingTo are now reported (Dirk in #1027 fixing #1026).
    • The sourceCpp function can now create a debug DLL on Windows (Dirk in #1037 fixing #1035).
  • Changes in Rcpp Documentation:
    • The .github/ directory now has more explicit guidance on contributing, issues, and pull requests (Dirk).
    • The Rcpp Attributes vignette describe the new invisible return object option (Kun Ren in #1025).
    • Vignettes are now included as pre-made pdf files (Dirk in #1029)
    • The Rcpp FAQ has a new entry on the recommended importFrom directive (Dirk in #1031 fixing #1030).
    • The bib file for the vignette was once again updated to current package versions (Dirk).
  • Changes in Rcpp Deployment:
    • Added unit test to check if C++ version remains remains aligned with the package number (Dirk in #1022 fixing #1021).
    • The unit test system was switched to tinytest (Dirk in #1028, #1032, #1033).

Please note that the change to execptions and Rcpp::stop() in pr #1043 has been seen to have a minor side effect on macOS issue #1046 which has already been fixed by Kevin in pr #1047 for which I may prepare a 1.0.4.1 release for the Rcpp drat repo in a day or two. Thanks to CRANberries, you can also look at a diff to the previous release. Questions, comments etc should go to the rcpp-devel mailing list off the R-Forge page. Bugs reports are welcome at the GitHub issue tracker as well (where one can also search among open or closed issues); questions are also welcome under rcpp tag at StackOverflow which also allows searching among the (currently) 2356 previous questions. If you like this or other open-source work I do, you can now sponsor me at GitHub. For the first year, GitHub will match your contributions.

This post by Dirk Eddelbuettel originated on his Thinking inside the box blog. Please report excessive re-aggregation in third-party for-profit settings.

2 March 2020

Antoine Beaupr : Moving dconf entries to git

I've been managing my UNIX $HOME repository with version control for almost two decades now (first under CVS, then with git). Once in a while, I find a little hack to make this work better. Today, it's dconf/gsettings, or more specifically, Workrave that I want to put in git. I noticed my laptop was extremely annoying compared with my office workstation and realized I never figured out how to write Workrave's configuration to git. The reason is that its configuration is stored in dconf, a binary database format, but, blissfully, I had forgotten about this and tried to figure out where the heck its config was. I was about to give up when I re-remembered this, when I figured I would just do a quick search ("dconf commit to git") and that brought me to Josh Triplett's Debconf 14 talk about this exact topic. The slides are... a little terse, but I could figure out the gist of it. The key is to change the DCONF_PROFILE environment to point to a new config file (say in your .bashrc):
export DCONF_PROFILE=$HOME/.config/dconf/profile
That file (~/.config/dconf/profile) should be created with the following content:
user-db:user
service-db:keyfile/user
  1. The first line is the default: store everything in this huge binary file.
  2. The second is the magic: it stores configuration in a precious text file, in .config/dconf/user.txt specifically.
Then the last step was to migrate config between the two. For that I need a third config file, a DCONF_PROFILE that has only the text database so settings are forcibly written there, say ~/.config/dconf/profile-edit:
service-db:keyfile/user
And then I can migrate my workrave configuration with:
gsettings list-recursively org.workrave   while read schema key val ; do DCONF_PROFILE=~/.config/dconf/profile-edit gsettings set "$schema" "$key" "$val" ; done
Of course, a bunch of those settings are garbage and do not differ from the default. Unfortuantely, there doesn't seem to be a way to tell gsettings to only list non-default settings, so I had to do things by hand from there, by comparing my generated config with:
DCONF_PROFILE=/dev/null gsettings list-recursively org.workrave
I finally ended up with the following user.txt, which is now my workrave config:
[org/workrave/timers/daily-limit]
snooze=1800
limit=25200
[org/workrave/timers/micro-pause]
auto-reset=10
snooze=150
limit=900
[org/workrave/timers/rest-break]
auto-reset=600
snooze=1800
limit=10800
[org/workrave/breaks/micro-pause]
max-preludes=0
That's a nice setup: "YOLO" settings end up in the binary database that I don't care about tracking in git, and a precious few snowflakes get tracked in a text file. Triplett also made a command to change settings in the text file, but I don't think I need to bother with that. It's more critical to copy settings between the two, in my experience, as I rarely have this moment: "oh I know exactly the key setting I want to change and i'll write it down". What actually happens is that I'm making a change in a GUI and later realize it should be synchronized over. (It looks like Triplett does have a tool to do those diffs and transitions, but unfortunately git://joshtriplett.org/git/home doesn't respond at this time so I can't find that source code.) (Update: that git repository can be downloaded with:
git clone https://joshtriplett.org/git/home
It looks like dconfc is designed to copy settings between the two databases. So my above loop would be more easily written as:
dconf dump /org/workrave/   DCONF_PROFILE=~/.config/dconf/profile-edit dconf load /org/workrave/
Certainly simplifies things. dconfd is also nice although it relies on the above dconfe script which makes it (IMHO) needlessly hard to deploy.) Now if only Firefox bookmarks were reasonable again...

8 November 2017

Dirk Eddelbuettel: R / Finance 2018 Call for Papers

The tenth (!!) annual annual R/Finance conference will take in Chicago on the UIC campus on June 1 and 2, 2018. Please see the call for papers below (or at the website) and consider submitting a paper. We are once again very excited about our conference, thrilled about who we hope may agree to be our anniversary keynotes, and hope that many R / Finance users will not only join us in Chicago in June -- and also submit an exciting proposal. So read on below, and see you in Chicago in June!

Call for Papers R/Finance 2018: Applied Finance with R
June 1 and 2, 2018
University of Illinois at Chicago, IL, USA The tenth annual R/Finance conference for applied finance using R will be held June 1 and 2, 2018 in Chicago, IL, USA at the University of Illinois at Chicago. The conference will cover topics including portfolio management, time series analysis, advanced risk tools, high-performance computing, market microstructure, and econometrics. All will be discussed within the context of using R as a primary tool for financial risk management, portfolio construction, and trading. Over the past nine years, R/Finance has includedattendeesfrom around the world. It has featured presentations from prominent academics and practitioners, and we anticipate another exciting line-up for 2018. We invite you to submit complete papers in pdf format for consideration. We will also consider one-page abstracts (in txt or pdf format) although more complete papers are preferred. We welcome submissions for both full talks and abbreviated "lightning talks." Both academic and practitioner proposals related to R are encouraged. All slides will be made publicly available at conference time. Presenters are strongly encouraged to provide working R code to accompany the slides. Data sets should also be made public for the purposes of reproducibility (though we realize this may be limited due to contracts with data vendors). Preference may be given to presenters who have released R packages. Please submit proposals online at http://go.uic.edu/rfinsubmit. Submissions will be reviewed and accepted on a rolling basis with a final submission deadline of February 2, 2018. Submitters will be notified via email by March 2, 2018 of acceptance, presentation length, and financial assistance (if requested). Financial assistance for travel and accommodation may be available to presenters. Requests for financial assistance do not affect acceptance decisions. Requests should be made at the time of submission. Requests made after submission are much less likely to be fulfilled. Assistance will be granted at the discretion of the conference committee. Additional details will be announced via the conference website at http://www.RinFinance.com/ as they become available. Information on previous years'presenters and their presentations are also at the conference website. We will make a separate announcement when registration opens. For the program committee:
Gib Bassett, Peter Carl, Dirk Eddelbuettel, Brian Peterson,
Dale Rosenthal, Jeffrey Ryan, Joshua Ulrich

1 November 2017

James McCoy: Monthly FLOSS activity - 2017/10 edition

Debian subversion
  • Continued work on updating the packaging
    • Thanks to some hints from Daniel Shahaf, realized the entire build was running from the binary target, thus as root. This was the cause for the test failures I had been seeing last month.
  • Pushed some long standing patches upstream
vim
  • Uploaded version 2:8.0.1226-1
    • Improved syntax highlighting for debian/control files. Thanks to Mattia Rizzolo for reminding me to look at deb-src-control(5).
    • Updated debsources and debchangelog syntax highlighting for new/unsupported releases in Debian and Ubuntu. Josh Triplett spotted a syntax error which will be fixed in the next upload.
  • Reported upstream that a particular test was failing on many of our buildds.
    • Upstream released a fix to sleep longer before moving on in the test.
    • I proposed that it may be better to check for the actual desired state instead.

libvterm
  • Proposed an API for reporting focus events, which was merged. (r713)

pangoterm
  • Proposed a change to use libvterm's new API, which was merged. (r598)

vim-gnupg
  • Fixed an issue that prevented saving the encrypted buffer if the file was opened with a relative path and the user had subsequently changed the working directory. (vim-gnupg#81)

neovim
  • Added tests and merged my PR to ignore leading modifier commands (e.g., :silent, :keeppatterns) when using 'inccommand'. (neovim#6967)
  • Potentially root-caused a Neovim hang as being caused by a Debian-specific patch to libuv.

vim
  • During a discussion in a Neovim issue, I was reminded that :lockmarks doesn't affect Vim's '[ and '] marks. I had previously worked around this in vim-gnupg, but seeing someone else run into the issue spurred me to look into it more. Unlike many other marks, Vim doesn't distinctly track these "last change/yank" marks. They're tracked the same way that the range of the current "operation" are -- the b_op_start and b_op_end items in the buf_T struct. This makes the problem a little more touchy, since those are changed in many places. After I had a working prototype, I decided to take a step back and see if there were tests related to what I was going to be changing. Unfortunately, there weren't many and none that dealt with autocmds. These marks are especially relevant for Vim's autocmds because many of those provide the plugin author with information through the '[ and '] marks. That means :lockmarks needs to preserve the state of the marks for the user, but still communicate the relevant information for the autocmds. To that end, I submitted a pull request to test how these marks are affected by autocmds. Once that's merged, I'll feel more comfortable with proposing the existing prototype, which only covers :write, :read, the :diff* commands, and filtering.

29 July 2017

Dirk Eddelbuettel: Updated overbought/oversold plot function

A good six years ago I blogged about plotOBOS() which charts a moving average (from one of several available variants) along with shaded standard deviation bands. That post has a bit more background on the why/how and motivation, but as a teaser here is the resulting chart of the SP500 index (with ticker ^GSCP): Example chart of overbought/oversold levels from plotOBOS() function The code uses a few standard finance packages for R (with most of them maintained by Joshua Ulrich given that Jeff Ryan, who co-wrote chunks of these, is effectively retired from public life). Among these, xts had a recent release reflecting changes which occurred during the four (!!) years since the previous release, and covering at least two GSoC projects. With that came subtle API changes: something we all generally try to avoid but which is at times the only way forward. In this case, the shading code I used (via polygon() from base R) no longer cooperated with the beefed-up functionality of plot.xts(). Luckily, Ross Bennett incorporated that same functionality into a new function addPolygon --- which even credits this same post of mine. With that, the updated code becomes
## plotOBOS -- displaying overbough/oversold as eg in Bespoke's plots
##
## Copyright (C) 2010 - 2017  Dirk Eddelbuettel
##
## This is free software: you can redistribute it and/or modify it
## under the terms of the GNU General Public License as published by
## the Free Software Foundation, either version 2 of the License, or
## (at your option) any later version.
suppressMessages(library(quantmod))     # for getSymbols(), brings in xts too
suppressMessages(library(TTR))          # for various moving averages
plotOBOS <- function(symbol, n=50, type=c("sma", "ema", "zlema"),
                     years=1, blue=TRUE, current=TRUE, title=symbol,
                     ticks=TRUE, axes=TRUE)  
    today <- Sys.Date()
    if (class(symbol) == "character")  
        X <- getSymbols(symbol, from=format(today-365*years-2*n), auto.assign=FALSE)
        x <- X[,6]                          # use Adjusted
      else if (inherits(symbol, "zoo"))  
        x <- X <- as.xts(symbol)
        current <- FALSE                # don't expand the supplied data
     
    n <- min(nrow(x)/3, 50)             # as we may not have 50 days
    sub <- ""
    if (current)  
        xx <- getQuote(symbol)
        xt <- xts(xx$Last, order.by=as.Date(xx$ Trade Time ))
        colnames(xt) <- paste(symbol, "Adjusted", sep=".")
        x <- rbind(x, xt)
        sub <- paste("Last price: ", xx$Last, " at ",
                     format(as.POSIXct(xx$ Trade Time ), "%H:%M"), sep="")
     
    type <- match.arg(type)
    xd <- switch(type,                  # compute xd as the central location via selected MA smoother
                 sma = SMA(x,n),
                 ema = EMA(x,n),
                 zlema = ZLEMA(x,n))
    xv <- runSD(x, n)                   # compute xv as the rolling volatility
    strt <- paste(format(today-365*years), "::", sep="")
    x  <- x[strt]                       # subset plotting range using xts' nice functionality
    xd <- xd[strt]
    xv <- xv[strt]
    xyd <- xy.coords(.index(xd),xd[,1]) # xy coordinates for direct plot commands
    xyv <- xy.coords(.index(xv),xv[,1])
    n <- length(xyd$x)
    xx <- xyd$x[c(1,1:n,n:1)]           # for polygon(): from first point to last and back
    if (blue)  
        blues5 <- c("#EFF3FF", "#BDD7E7", "#6BAED6", "#3182BD", "#08519C") # cf brewer.pal(5, "Blues")
        fairlylight <<- rgb(189/255, 215/255, 231/255, alpha=0.625) # aka blues5[2]
        verylight <<- rgb(239/255, 243/255, 255/255, alpha=0.625) # aka blues5[1]
        dark <<- rgb(8/255, 81/255, 156/255, alpha=0.625) # aka blues5[5]
        ## buglet in xts 0.10-0 requires the <<- here
      else  
        fairlylight <<- rgb(204/255, 204/255, 204/255, alpha=0.5)  # two suitable grays, alpha-blending at 50%
        verylight <<- rgb(242/255, 242/255, 242/255, alpha=0.5)
        dark <<- 'black'
     
    plot(x, ylim=range(range(x, xd+2*xv, xd-2*xv, na.rm=TRUE)), main=title, sub=sub, 
         major.ticks=ticks, minor.ticks=ticks, axes=axes) # basic xts plot setup
    addPolygon(xts(cbind(xyd$y+xyv$y, xyd$y+2*xyv$y), order.by=index(x)), on=1, col=fairlylight)  # upper
    addPolygon(xts(cbind(xyd$y-xyv$y, xyd$y+1*xyv$y), order.by=index(x)), on=1, col=verylight)    # center
    addPolygon(xts(cbind(xyd$y-xyv$y, xyd$y-2*xyv$y), order.by=index(x)), on=1, col=fairlylight)  # lower
    lines(xd, lwd=2, col=fairlylight)   # central smooted location
    lines(x, lwd=3, col=dark)           # actual price, thicker
 
and the main change are the three calls to addPolygon. To illustrate, we call plotOBOS("SPY", years=2) with an updated plot of the ETF representing the SP500 over the last two years: Updated example chart of overbought/oversold levels from plotOBOS() function Comments and further enhancements welcome!

This post by Dirk Eddelbuettel originated on his Thinking inside the box blog. Please report excessive re-aggregation in third-party for-profit settings.

8 April 2017

Dirk Eddelbuettel: #4: Simpler shoulders()

Welcome to the fourth post in the repulsively random R ramblings series, or R4 for short. My twitter feed was buzzing about a nice (and as yet unpublished, ie not-on-CRAN) package thankr by Dirk Schumacher which compiles a list of packages (ordered by maintainer count) for your current session (or installation or ...) with a view towards saying thank you to those whose packages we rely upon. Very nice indeed. I had a quick look and run it twice ... and had a reaction of ewwww, really? as running it twice gave different results as on the second instance a boatload of tibblyverse packages appeared. Because apparently kids these day can only slice data that has been tidied or something. So I had another quick look ... and put together an alternative version using just base R (as there was only one subfunction that needed reworking):
source(file="https://raw.githubusercontent.com/dirkschumacher/thankr/master/R/shoulders.R")
format_pkg_df <- function(df)   # non-tibblyverse variant
    tb <- table(df[,2])
    od <- order(tb, decreasing=TRUE)
    ndf <- data.frame(maint=names(tb)[od], npkgs=as.integer(tb[od]))
    colpkgs <- function(m, df)   paste(df[ df$maintainer == m, "pkg_name"], collapse=",")  
    ndf[, "pkg"] <- sapply(ndf$maint, colpkgs, df)
    ndf
 
A nice side benefit is that the function is now free of external dependencies (besides, of course, base R). Running this in the ESS session I had open gives:
R> shoulders()  ## by Dirk Schumacher, with small modifications
                               maint npkgs                                                                 pkg
1 R Core Team <R-core@r-project.org>     9 compiler,graphics,tools,utils,grDevices,stats,datasets,methods,base
2 Dirk Eddelbuettel <edd@debian.org>     4                                  RcppTOML,Rcpp,RApiDatetime,anytime
3  Matt Dowle <mattjdowle@gmail.com>     1                                                          data.table
R> 
and for good measure a screenshot is below:
I think we need a catchy moniker for R work using good old base R. SoberVerse? GrumbyOldFolksR? PlainOldR? Better suggestions welcome. Edit on 2017-04-09: And by now Dirk Schumacher fixed that little bug in thankr which was at the start of this. His shoulders() function is now free of side effects, and thankr is now a clean micropackage free of external depends from any verse, be it tiddly or grumpy. I look forward to seeing it on CRAN soon!

This post by Dirk Eddelbuettel originated on his Thinking inside the box blog. Please report excessive re-aggregation in third-party for-profit settings.

25 March 2017

Dirk Eddelbuettel: RApiDatetime 0.0.2

Two days after the initial 0.0.1 release, a new version of RApiDatetime has just arrived on CRAN. RApiDatetime provides six entry points for C-level functions of the R API for Date and Datetime calculations. The functions asPOSIXlt and asPOSIXct convert between long and compact datetime representation, formatPOSIXlt and Rstrptime convert to and from character strings, and POSIXlt2D and D2POSIXlt convert between Date and POSIXlt datetime. These six functions are all fairly essential and useful, but not one of them was previously exported by R. Josh Ulrich took one hard look at the package -- and added the one line we needed to enable the Windows support that was missing in the initial release. We now build on all platforms supported by R and CRAN. Otherwise, I just added a NEWS file and called it a bugfix release.

Changes in RApiDatetime version 0.0.2 (2017-03-25)
  • Windows support has added (Josh Ulrich in #1)

Changes in RApiDatetime version 0.0.1 (2017-03-23)
  • Initial release with six accessible functions

Courtesy of CRANberries, there is a comparison to the previous release. More information is on the rapidatetime page. For questions or comments please use the issue tracker off the GitHub repo.

This post by Dirk Eddelbuettel originated on his Thinking inside the box blog. Please report excessive re-aggregation in third-party for-profit settings.

14 February 2017

Reproducible builds folks: Reproducible Builds: week 94 in Stretch cycle

Here's what happened in the Reproducible Builds effort between Sunday February 5 and Saturday February 11 2017: Upcoming events Patches sent upstream Packages reviewed and fixed, and bugs filed Chris Lamb: Daniel Shahaf: "Z. Ren": Reviews of unreproducible packages 83 package reviews have been added, 8 have been updated and 32 have been removed in this week, adding to our knowledge about identified issues. 5 issue types have been added: 1 issue type has been updated: Weekly QA work During our reproducibility testing, the following FTBFS bugs have been detected and reported by:
  • Chris Lamb (7)
  • gregory bahde (1)
diffoscope development diffoscope versions 71, 72, 73, 74 & 75 were uploaded to unstable by Chris Lamb: strip-nondeterminism development strip-nondeterminism 0.030-1 was uploaded to unstable by Chris Lamb: buildinfo.debian.net development reproducible-website development Misc. This week's edition was written by Chris Lamb & reviewed by a bunch of Reproducible Builds folks on IRC & the mailing lists.

28 January 2017

Bits from Debian: Debian at FOSDEM 2017

On February 4th and 5th, Debian will be attending FOSDEM 2017 in Brussels, Belgium; a yearly gratis event (no registration needed) run by volunteers from the Open Source and Free Software community. It's free, and it's big: more than 600 speakers, over 600 events, in 29 rooms. This year more than 45 current or past Debian contributors will speak at FOSDEM: Alexandre Viau, Bradley M. Kuhn, Daniel Pocock, Guus Sliepen, Johan Van de Wauw, John Sullivan, Josh Triplett, Julien Danjou, Keith Packard, Martin Pitt, Peter Van Eynde, Richard Hartmann, Sebastian Dr ge, Stefano Zacchiroli and Wouter Verhelst, among others. Similar to previous years, the event will be hosted at Universit libre de Bruxelles. Debian contributors and enthusiasts will be taking shifts at the Debian stand with gadgets, T-Shirts and swag. You can find us at stand number 4 in building K, 1 B; CoreOS Linux and PostgreSQL will be our neighbours. See https://wiki.debian.org/DebianEvents/be/2017/FOSDEM for more details. We are looking forward to meeting you all!

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