Productivity

Read Later Tools are Productivity Killers

First, lets take a count of your open tabs as well as ‘Pocket’ like tools which are marked ‘Read Later’.

Post the creation of Insta Paper, everyone wanted to read their information in a clean way, those who cannot tried to push it to their Kindles or Evernote. These people read a lot and wanted to read a lot. When you push to other devices, you may lose count on what you need to read.

What I have realized is that > Reading and Watching makes you do less Writing (be it code or language)

I was this person about an year ago till a friend talked me down. Its really really impossible to keep up in realtime about Javascript frameworks, Apple Rumors, what changed where and when its being released.

I have heard in podcasts, seen and read about people that

  1. have tens (even 50+) of open tabs and complain about how Chrome / Firefox is hogging the memory
  2. Some wish for the browser to crash so that they happily forget (eventually people reach this from above)
  3. Some keep their browser clean with pushing the stuff to read into Pocket like tools.

The Read Later tools are for whom who have lots of spare time on weekends and clear off their tabs and read list in a week or two. If you keep something for later, it gets missed and forgotten leading it into the virtual blackhole. This is a reality whether you like it or not. This happens a lot when you are researching.

For those interested in the math, 10s of HN new posts every four hours will pile up to 40 or so in a week (at the least), averaging to 8 on weekdays.

When you mark an article as ‘Read Later’, its telling the tool to remind you to forget about it

The Solution - An fixed size array

Write stuff you can’t remember and maintain a list of top 50 things you want to read online at any point of time in each section. If you want to read new stuff in Java or Go or Linux or about politics, spend the time then or add to your fixed size array, not a queue, not a stack, not a linked list. Just close it off once its done.

Keeps you 😴 better at night.


Bye bye Delicious! Yo Pinboard!

Delicious has been one of my favourite and a tool that I have held since 200[78]. The entity has been through several transitions. People have feared and moved out and became in-active. del.icio.us the most famous domain hack around 2008. Yahoo bought it, later sold it and I don’t know what happened later on.

Then, starting around Dec 2015, Delicious started popping up Advertisements. They were like the ads from 2000s where you see amazing animations which sucked. Improvising to it, in March 2016, they decided to move from https to http which blew my mind away (not literally).

Time to evaluate choices

What I really want? (aka The Product Spec)

What I really wanted was a place where I can maintain a public list and query bookmarks by tag for later references.

Both services (Pocket and Pinboard) offer you a way to search through the text itself for the higher versions of the service. You can achieve that with the help of Evernote. Evernote has that capability as well. Google and Chrome Bookmarks sync through devices and follow you, but they lack the UX feel I have been used to(like Delicious). Pocket felt overwhelmingly because of the UI. Its a 2015 UI product, while Pinboard UI continued to stay in the 2010s with the light-weight and simple(way too simple) UI.

I realized that Evernote gives this and way more, but I made the hard choice of keeping Evernote to referencing data from sites instead of actually bookmarking them. Evernote does a lot of things(A LOT).

The DECISION - Pinboard

Pinboard has a yearly $11 pricing for the basic version and been in service more than others. I might move to Pocket later only for the UI, even if it means $45 for the Pro version Also, Pinboard does not bug me with weekly newsletters like Pocket does 😃

Pinboard has the social angle of tagging “for:user” which Delicious killed off just after the Yahoo acquisition(to my knowledge) or after the news Yahoo was buying Delicious. My social circle who were in Delicious immediately reached ZER0.

Follow and suggest me links https://pinboard.in/u:sairam/

The bookmarklet which I can invoke through the keystrokes on chrome helps a lot. yd which invoke the bookmark to open a new window to prompt to add tags.

I am yet to explore notes in Pinboard



csshX with lincastor on Mac

Problem Statement: I want to SSH into a list of hosts from the browser(from a host monitoring UI).

Note: At this point of time, we did not have Service Discovery present.

To identify this, in our team, we maintained a single service which has this list. The service is responsible for bunch of things including displaying host metrics, checking health statuses, disk space, querying the LB status for the service/port.

A regular deployment usually consists of updating a puppet script and running a puppet command on all servers in batches of 20% at a time. When you start dealing with multiple hosts, you realize you want to use a utility command like csshX which opens multiple windows. Though this is limited by the configuration file or copy/pasting the host list.

I wanted to pass on this host list data from the browser and with a click of a link, the user should be able to get the list of hosts.

A Solution was to use LinCastor, a Mac utility where you can register your own protocol with your multi ssh utility.

Once, you register the csshx protocol.

## To install csshX
brew install csshX

Open LinCastor App

Add new Scheme Title: csshX schemes: csshx

select Shell. Add this line before exit 0

/usr/local/bin/csshX $URL_VALUE

Now if you have a link like csshx://127.0.0.1%20127.0.0.2%20127.0.0.3 , it will open 3 shells using the csshX command installed passing it as csshX 127.0.0.1 127.0.0.2 127.0.0.3. The protocol handler transfers the ownership in a very clean way.

Security Warning: Beware about any URL injections that may happen while using this. As long as you trust the source, you should be good.


Configuring SSH Server

Basic README

# $OpenBSD: sshd_config,v 1.80 2008/07/02 02:24:18 djm Exp $

# This is the sshd server system-wide configuration file.  See
# sshd_config(5) for more information.

# This sshd was compiled with PATH=/usr/local/bin:/bin:/usr/bin

# The strategy used for options in the default sshd_config shipped with
# OpenSSH is to specify options with their default value where
# possible, but leave them commented.  Uncommented options change a
# default value.

Default system level configuration

Change the default port from 22.

Port 2345

I don’t really know what this is

#AddressFamily any

There are can be associate this with either a single address or all the addresses the system has. This is important if your server is part of two networks so that you can use only one of the addresses to bind it to.

#ListenAddress 0.0.0.0
#ListenAddress ::

SSH Protocol to use

# Disable legacy (protocol version 1) support in the server for new
# installations. In future the default will change to require explicit
# activation of protocol 1
Protocol 2

Host Key is something to uniquely identify a host.

# HostKey for protocol version 1
#HostKey /etc/ssh/ssh_host_key
# HostKeys for protocol version 2
#HostKey /etc/ssh/ssh_host_rsa_key
#HostKey /etc/ssh/ssh_host_dsa_key

# Lifetime and size of ephemeral version 1 server key
#KeyRegenerationInterval 1h
#ServerKeyBits 1024

Log files is the veins of the system. If things go bad, this is where you need to look. Describe what kind of logging should be done

# Logging
# obsoletes QuietMode and FascistLogging
#SyslogFacility AUTH
SyslogFacility AUTHPRIV
#LogLevel INFO

Authentications

Self explanatory, paranoia in case you don’t want to hit your too often with password retries

# Authentication:
LoginGraceTime 2m
PermitRootLogin no
StrictModes yes
MaxAuthTries 6
MaxSessions 30

Public key authentication for safe and secure way. Generate an RSA token which will generate id_rsa (the private key and should not be shared) and id_rsa.pub(your public key, can be passed on to system where you want to login into).

#RSAAuthentication yes
PubkeyAuthentication yes
AuthorizedKeysFile  .ssh/authorized_keys
AuthorizedKeysCommand none
AuthorizedKeysCommandRunAs nobody

Don’t really know what this is

# For this to work you will also need host keys in /etc/ssh/ssh_known_hosts
#RhostsRSAAuthentication no
# similar for protocol version 2
#HostbasedAuthentication no
# Change to yes if you don't trust ~/.ssh/known_hosts for
# RhostsRSAAuthentication and HostbasedAuthentication
#IgnoreUserKnownHosts no
# Don't read the user's ~/.rhosts and ~/.shosts files
#IgnoreRhosts yes

Keyboard based authentication of password from the client. If you feel too lazy to type a password all the time see public key authentication section # To disable tunneled clear text passwords, change to no here! #PasswordAuthentication yes #PermitEmptyPasswords no PasswordAuthentication no

Challenge Response Authentication

# Change to no to disable s/key passwords
#ChallengeResponseAuthentication yes
ChallengeResponseAuthentication no

Kerberos is a network login system which is usually used in a medium to big organisations having network logins and multiple servers. If its 2-3 users and couple of servers that share passwords, its better off not setting Kerberos like systems.

# Kerberos options
#KerberosAuthentication no
#KerberosOrLocalPasswd yes
#KerberosTicketCleanup yes
#KerberosGetAFSToken no
#KerberosUseKuserok yes

You don’t want this in a normal server since the handshake itself eats up lot of time. Setting to no disables it

# GSSAPI options
GSSAPIAuthentication no
#GSSAPIAuthentication yes
#GSSAPICleanupCredentials yes
#GSSAPICleanupCredentials yes
#GSSAPIStrictAcceptorCheck yes
#GSSAPIKeyExchange no

# Set this to 'yes' to enable PAM authentication, account processing,
# and session processing. If this is enabled, PAM authentication will
# be allowed through the ChallengeResponseAuthentication and
# PasswordAuthentication.  Depending on your PAM configuration,
# PAM authentication via ChallengeResponseAuthentication may bypass
# the setting of "PermitRootLogin without-password".
# If you just want the PAM account and session checks to run without
# PAM authentication, then enable this but set PasswordAuthentication
# and ChallengeResponseAuthentication to 'no'.
#UsePAM no
UsePAM yes

Environment variables

# Accept locale-related environment variables
AcceptEnv LANG LC_CTYPE LC_NUMERIC LC_TIME LC_COLLATE LC_MONETARY LC_MESSAGES
AcceptEnv LC_PAPER LC_NAME LC_ADDRESS LC_TELEPHONE LC_MEASUREMENT
AcceptEnv LC_IDENTIFICATION LC_ALL LANGUAGE
AcceptEnv XMODIFIERS

Other custom settings with which you can use the power of SSH and remote system

#AllowAgentForwarding yes
#AllowTcpForwarding yes
#GatewayPorts no

If you want to open a Firefox from a different server. enable to ‘yes’

X11Forwarding no
#X11Forwarding yes
#X11DisplayOffset 10
#X11UseLocalhost yes

Print message of the day

#PrintMotd yes

Enabled by default to let the user know when s/he was logged in last.

#PrintLastLog yes

This is helpful for not timing out the user

#TCPKeepAlive yes
#UseLogin no
#UsePrivilegeSeparation yes
#PermitUserEnvironment no
#Compression delayed
#ClientAliveInterval 0
#ClientAliveCountMax 3
#ShowPatchLevel no
#UseDNS yes
#PidFile /var/run/sshd.pid
#MaxStartups 10

Tunnel is used for using the ssh server as a proxy

#PermitTunnel no

Chroot is a bigger concept which is to restrict environments / environment configuration with dependencies so that they do not interact with the rest of the system. Its like a Virtual Machine in your computer which does not know if its a Virtual Machine or a real server.

#ChrootDirectory none

Display information aka banner on what to do, what not, what the server has etc after logging in.

# no default banner path
#Banner none

Enable SFTP

# override default of no subsystems
Subsystem   sftp    /usr/libexec/openssh/sftp-server

If you want to allow a user to do something or not to do something, this is the place to put it

# Example of overriding settings on a per-user basis
#Match User anoncvs
#   X11Forwarding no
#   AllowTcpForwarding no
#   ForceCommand cvs server

Tips on ssh client configuration