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VAGUE  February 2017

VAGUE February 2017


Linux_adult_swim Meeting today, Monday February 13th, 5 PM at 40 Washington Street...


Paul Flint <[log in to unmask]>


Vermont Area Group of Unix Enthusiasts <[log in to unmask]>


Mon, 13 Feb 2017 13:00:02 -0500





TEXT/PLAIN (427 lines)

Greetings List Lurkers,

Did someone mention that 4 letter word - snow?

Damn it is still coming down...  That said, rest assured thanks to Brett 
we shall have a good and ready supply of warm, crispy Pizza ready to go at 
5PM today in the basement of Hedding UMC.

The only good news here is that I will only begin shoveling after I finish 
this newsletter, so settle back for some serious screed...

Well an eventful week for projects, lets take a look:

As you likely recall I have been trying to install the very coolest 
reStructuredText WYSIWYG editor called "enki", and it was kicking my ass. 
Got hold of the developer and we worked out the dreaded Python QT 
extensions that are overextended into something called the "Webkit". 
This makes editing and troubleshooting reStructuredText a dream... and the 
results will be online in a jiffy.

The Collection Grows:
The other good news is that I got Tom Kastner out to lunch in Waterbury 
and he got 50 or so additional Linux Format DVDs. Tom Kastner has offered 
us several additional DVDs back before LXFDVD105.  These additional 50 or 
so disks he go us would go a long way to making the collection complete.

Last week I mentioned how it occurred to me how inaccurate the list of 
DVD's and issue dates really were.  Imagine my surprise to discover that 
there was no where on the DVD where the issue date was available in a 
digital form, except for the actual ".png" which is a graphical 
representation of the cover of the DVD.  This resulted in my writing a 
successful OCR script, which I shared with the boys in London at Linux 
Format. So, we have in addition gotten a response from London, trust me 
the OCR way to get date information on the DVDs turns out to be the only 
way.  No less than Neil Bothwick surveyed the damage and allowed that in 
future Linux Format DVDs there will be a file called "issue" which will 
contain this information.

This week I concentrated on developing a VisualBash program to 
automatically generate the individual ".rst" reStructuredText files at the 
base level. Then I went a little nuts and decided to add a seasonal 
background color to each base rst file.  While this may have seemed like a 
very good idea at the time, implementing this in reStructuredText was no 
picnic.  That said, once we got hold of accurate issue date we actually go 
there. Once this issue of issues is out of the way, the rest of the week 
yielded automation of the ".rst" base files based upon a csv manifest.  A 
good thing, but cleanup is in order.

As it is installed at the Aldrich, next trick is to get trantor on the 
public web, and the bad news is that looks like it may not happen.

No less than the acting State librarian has rejected the idea after 
discussions with DII is what Lee Bonamico indicated.  What discussions and 
what issues were involved in this decision on the part of these 
bureaucrats is anyones guess.  That said, The reverse proxy is stable and 
operating which allows for updates to the current site.  I see this 
setback as an opportunity to enhance the collection and to burnish the 
control software a bit.

Sarah the librarian before she went on vacation was actually talking about 
doing a press release. I hope that the concept of Library Based Local 
Destinations has not been completely wiped out.  The entrenched powers 
would so much prefer that to raise revenue by concentrating everything in 
the very expensive DII Data Center at National Life, likely for a hefty 
monthly fee! I may still do a press release, and after talking to her will 
no doubt have a draft for her to review on the Trantor web site ASAP.

Software Development
This project is still operating in development at the library and in this 
second month of the year we could open it to the world, but it appears now 
like there will be a political struggle to get free software online in 
Vermont. Right now we are as you recall using one of the original Gates 
Foundation grant based Dell machines.  They are donating more of these to 
the club and we now have one running as the development twin to the one 
at the Aldrich.

So, once we get this working we will then deliver the trantor v 4.0 machine to 
the Aldrich, swap it with the existing 0.015 system, set up static IP, avahi 
bonjour and things may actually be accessible via DNS for the world. Well a 
fellow can dream...

With this is accomplished we will switch to the excellent hardware platform 
that Marius delivered. This production case contains both USB2.0/3.0 and and a 
DVDRW. This will be the production device.

From a software standpoint, the first, second, third and forth(pun :^) passes 
for Trantor are done. The third pass, is in the Aldrich Public library for 
evaluation, and the latest feature is there is a new include that actually 
rebuilds the index.rst from the existing sub-rst files. With the bzinga project 
there is most likely to be a fourth (forth? :^) pass...

We are very close to having a development cycle... The vision of a 
reStructuredText website remains:

- Take the existing code
- edit it with enki, a restful editor almost built for the job.
   (a most difficult to install but rewarding bit of software see above)
- if necessary propagate the change using a shell script
   (thank god for sed and awk)
- run " mkitso" which builds
-- new base .rst files from a manifest,
-- a new index.rst from the existing stuff, and then
-- builds new web site based upon this index.rst
- check out the result...
- lather, rinse repeat...

Again, I restate that reStructuredText, and sphinx now rock my world.  I 
am completely convinced the trick to sphinx and reStructuredText in 
general is enki, which is a royal pain to install, but turns out to be a 
powerful new product.  As we said about enki, the ticket was to get this 
code to run under Linux Mint 18 and Ubuntu Trusty. Thanks to the gang at 
sphinx this is done.

The hard part of this turns out to be getting:
1. Getting a State bureaucracy to recognize
    Free Open Source Softwware (what's in it for them?)
2. getting the visual bash complete, or maybe more accurately
3. making the system "sane" - a menu choice.  Design questions include:
- Do individual functions call for particular software packages?
- Should the sanity program try to md5 sum the components.
- Should sanity also include operating and support system sanity?

When does sanity become Configuration Management?

The "SanityScript" remains born but without love.  Right now the vision is that 
sanity do the following:

- Check that all the components you need are in place in terms of program
- Possibly check at to the validity of the includes and functions using MD5

"sanity.shi" may be tasked with is

- checking for variable conflict within functions.  This is a big thing, but on 
the other hand, so it sanity...

As an example I have enki running on trantor.  Now that I have it running 
here with the new version I will try again. I continue to think that enki 
wants the hat. The possibility of Red Hat exclusiveness is a very 
disturbing trend. As mentioned above, the trantor project now uses the new 
VisualBash include function to load up various scripts full-o-functional 
goodness. Like everything else, We are attempting to maintain the Trantor 
project on Github, but we are really not up to date:

As discussed, I continue to hack this into some type of organized format 
to put up on git hub, but now I am considering adding a GUI control 
capability to the trantor control program.  Getting this up on git is 
something that will please both Chris Yarger and Kevin Cole.  I really am 
gonna get to commitment and update soon.  Am I resistant to commitment?

The trantor project benefits itself as you can cut DVDs and USBs with great 
ease and facility. ("Rick Roll version")

With the current reStructuredText Web Site: We now have a complete set of 
disks starting from LXFDVD154, as we mentioned last week, we sent Neil at 
Linux Format, an email in an attempt to expanding trantor to include all 
the Linux Format DVDs since they started publication.  He writes back and 
says the first 19 issues of Linux Format had a CD. The DVD was introduced 
from issue 20, when there was a choice of the DVD or dual CD edition. From 
around issue 71, it was DVD only.  So we have about a 104 CD/DVD gap in 
the beginning of the collection.

Other Digital Collections?
I am getting interest from some parties in contributing more stuff to trantor. 
Do not be bashful (pun?). let me know if you want something faithfully curated 
and The real question here is should I simply rebuild based upon 
sphinx?  Or, we could do it all in  reStructuredText...

GSD amd the bzinga project:
As mentioned above, I dusted off the Bash-Zenity project with the thought 
of adding this to trantor as a GUI based control framework.  So far it is 
interesting, as GUIs now haunt my dreams looking for the best way to configure 

DTG and I had a discussion last week about how GUI code needs to be 
non-blocked. So, the approach I continue to think about for now involves 
putting the GUI code in includes that get included only when you need 
them. The Visual Bash framework really works. Will this work for adding a 
GUI with bzinga?  And how does BNF fit into this?

Thus the line between bzinga and the Menubot function gets fuzzier all the 
time, maybe the menubot program has a way of generating coefficients that the 
GUI system can use to autogenerate GUI menues.  Maybe using Backus–Naur form 
(BNF or Railroad Notation).  After some playing around with zenity, I am more 
convinced that the use of zenity for a gui interface, (see the Bash Zenity 
Integration page: :^) is not a bad plan.  Beyond this we 
really need to clean up the VisualBash page.  Now that we have the "include" 
function that is similar to the one in python (C and a lota other languages :^) 
we need to git this.

The Visual Bash git page needs to be organized.  Effin originally set one 
up which we killed, and in it's place we have the git page mentioned 
above. We need to reorganize all of the visual bash functions into 
functional includes...

Possible include files are:

- ianda.shi  - Identification and Authorization
- dvdusb.shi - DVD/USB utilities
- sanity.shi - System sanity tests
- maint.shi  - Maintenance includes
- ops.shi    - Operational includes
- dev.shi    - Development includes
- sphinx.shi - Sphinx generator includes
- tiddle.shi - Tiddle includes...
- gui.shi - Graphical User Interface using bzinga

The problem is that I cannot resist the challenge of the GUI menu generator 
"" that will allow you to test stub your "shi" files with a crude but 
working "sh". Who knows where we go from there?  Again, the Design questions 

- Do individual functions call for particular software packages
   by adding their local requirements to a file or memory variable?
- Should the sanity program try to md5 sum the components?
- Can the sanity program help resolve namespace issues?

Could 2017 may be the year of VisualBash? We have a presentation on the 
subject due in June...

Brett got his new kindle, do did Effin.  The Kindlemeister is encouraged 
that the rootjunky can help...

Joe has the two broken Kindles are in Niagra, as as we expected the master 
Kindlenista, Joe Hart, agreed with our diagnoses and appears hopeful for 
partial or total rehabilitation.  As mentioned, One has been bricked, and the 
other has lost it's touch pad.  The Kindle-master, Joe, who has Debian booting 
on his Kindle Fires is preping for surgery.  He intends to take to touch pad 
from one and attach it to the rom of the other.  We wish him the best, as he is 
still getting up his nerve...

I really want to try using the KingoRoot.apk I got from XDA to root a 
kindle. Effin says it did not work. Do you think what works with a 5.1.1 
Keweier would work with a 5.1.1 Kindle?

Now that this is on the table I am gonna have to try it myself.

I am becoming convinced that there could be a commercial opportunity in 
customizing kindles. I have even attempted to enlist none other than DTG to 
help.  So far no luck.  May we need Effin in the mix.

I still really want a version of the Universal Insight Virtual Realty 
Glasses for the Kindle.  3d Teleconferencing way cool!  Anybody see such a 
thing?  I am thinking about trying to fabricate one based upon the 
original cardboard.


In the new year we want to follow up on the interesting angle to deploy 
TechnoRubble at Libraries.  At the meeting two weeks ago, J West came up 
with this angle and I would very much like to set up at Kimball and the 
Aldrich Libraries and see if this would work.  The famous Jessamyn West 
showed up at our meeting last week and checked out the whole TechnoRubble 
Project. Hope she remains interested!

- The Website,
- The new donation letter has been updated, but not used yet...

Again, we need more TechnoRubble.  The TechnoRubble untangling and packing is 
part of that effort. Part of this effort was the donation letter. The idea is 
to get people to mail their TechnoRubble to us in a USPS Flat Rate Box. I am 
going to complete the donation process page as soon as I can and post it.

Still very little to say in terms of

Hopefully these will be discussed on:

Which with any luck will start at 6 PM EST today. Maybe the future holds 
promise for these languishing projects. Oddly enought projects come and 

To summarize, the meeting today is again at 40 Washington Street, Barre, VT 

Topics for discussion as usual remain:

- Open Source Educational Human Development
   I am working on an idea... I am changing the priority of our
   eternal needs, and placing education first.

- Maker Movement A Maker Space in Barre?  Why not? Could it be that the
   commercial power centers do not yet appreciate the value?  I need to
   revise my paper on this subject and get it out to Lucas Jensen
   who has good ideas about a Barre Maker Space.  Why not do digital stone?

- Move BOSI to become more git centric... develop gittlywiki... working!
   check out tiddlywiki5 here:
   We still need to convert... Yea buddy...  Shut up Effin.

- Blue Sky R&D, but in Vermont it will be Gun-metal Grey Sky(c) R&D.

- I fought the DREK and the DREK continues to win.  Remember, What
   really is holds us back is DREK!!!  DREK is what happens to your
   workspace (both hardware and  software) when you fail to put stuff
   away, or you let your friends or relatives use it.  This is a cosmic
   law.  I am still fighting the DREK.  How to get over it?  The secret
   may be empty pellet bags.  Is TechnoRubble organized DREK?

These five points are quickly becomming more than our policy, and more like a 

Anyway, we have the technology and we will have Pizza tonight 5-7 at Hedding 

This is the official notice of the Barre Open Systems Institute (BOSI) Adult 
Swim. For those coming in via the Google Plus and the Internet, and there are 
folks who are gonna try, the swim stars at 6:00 PM EST.

Our ongoing major objective is to continue to try to figure out how to invest 
the time and resources to turn the Barre Open Systems Institute into more than 
just the Adult Swim technical clinic and more into a real learning facility. 
One direction we have been working on is to begin thinking about classes. The 
curriculum that I am most interested in is teaching documentation.

Once again, the goal of the meeting shall be as usual, to get organized and try 
to get the various projects moving forward, despite DREK. We continue to wonder 
about how to build the BOSI curriculum to this webpage:

*** Note this is broke as of this newsletter ****, Take a look if you dare...

Remember, the BOSI Adult Swim is essentially about helping out fellow users of 
open source products in a clinic environment.  Despite my very best of 
intentions, the Adult Swim is really almost a perpetual Linux install-fest, and 
only secondarily a learning environment,

The ever growing list of projects (now on our web site :^) includes:
- - A Docker copy of VM370
- - The Kindle Liberation Front
- - A pythonic interface to Income Tax?
- - Ok, this is a real project eh?
- - What happens when you combine Bash and Zenity?
- - ok, it is on the list.
- - jesum they love this robot
- - monitor that pellet furnace
- - moving in the arduino groove
- - to get better at Javascript
-  - Temperature Sensors Project
- - The quest for Roberts Rules -
- - Yea, I am not kidding...
- - remedial raw mrtg for the slow...
- - all versions
- - maybe a very cool project.
- - oh please let me be organized!
- - this may be the least organized
    site ever!
- - A big noble idea.
- - A less noble idea to feed the
   big idea...
- - is tiddlywiki5 the answer?

Otherwise, Barre indeed remains a great venue for a Linux and Open Source 
Software discussion and general system rejuvenation. Expect to be remotely 
preached at on the various topics of Open Source and how I am confident it 
shall cure all the evils and ills of this wicked world.  In a perfect meeting, 
people would come in, sit down, see the stuff we have been doing and hopefully 
help us get the DIY stuff we are doing done, or maybe just fix a laptop.

So, do not forget that the Barre library stocks "Linux Format", and the latest 
issue is on the shelf, and it is good.  The DVD's are available to checkout and 
copy, we shall to continue provide copies and isos of each and every one. I am 
continuing to duplicate about a years worth of DVD's which is quite a task. You 
may want to watch this space for developments.

Anyway, come and do open source stuff. For more information about the BOSI 
Adult Swim meeting time and location try this:

*** Note this is broke as of this newsletter ****

Show up at Hedding UMC if you have questions or are interested in Linux or the 
concept of free and open systems.  Again, we are in the basement of the Hedding 
UMC facility which is actually working out pretty well.

Somehow we need to make progress not more projects!!!

If you wish to be included on the "Linux_adult_swim" mailing list, send a
response to this note.

This is Flint signing off... I gotta go and get trained as a Justice of the 
Peace, and maybe catch the flue from the City Clerk.

I will continue to refactor this newsletter at some point in the future (do not 
hold your breath :^)...

Kindest Regards,

Paul Flint
(802) 479-2360
(802) 595-9365 Cell

Based upon email reliability concerns,
please send an acknowledgment in response to this note.

Paul Flint
Barre Open Systems Institute
17 Averill Street
Barre, VT
skype: flintinfotech
Work: (202) 537-0480

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