All the small things

As well as doing a whole lot of catch up with mailing lists and Beta stuff, during the last few days since I made it back home, I've tried to devote a bit of time to small things - the little issues that are easy to work around and overlook. Some of these might be useful to you too. Presented in no particular order:

Ever been annoyed at how the output of 'history' has no timestamps, and it'd be really handy to know when you ran that command? Try this: HISTTIMEFORMAT="%F %T " history. Neat, huh? Stick it in a /etc/profile.d file and you'll never have to worry about it again.

Do you have a few mail folders for mails from various Bugzillas? Do you always have a vague feeling you don't really have much useful information about any of those mails till you open them? Well, Bugzilla puts various rather useful attributes in X-Bugzilla headers in every email it sends out. And most mail clients have a setting somewhere to add any given header field to the 'compact' header view: for Evolution, for example, it's in Preferences / Mail Preferences / Headers. I've configured my Evolution instances to display X-Bugzilla-Who (whose activity caused the email to be generated), X-Bugzilla-Product and X-Bugzilla-Component headers whenever they exist, and it's a huge improvement. Also, a really basic thing, but somehow I never thought about it till now: remember you can customize columns in mail clients. The From: column for a Bugzilla folder is entirely useless as it'll only ever show the admin address of the BZ instance. So just get rid of it, and you'll have more space for the Subject: column...

The rest of the things I did are probably more of personal interest, but hey. I finally got around to testing the patch for very slow rebooting on VPCZ1 laptops (my 'old' laptop is one of these) which had been waiting on me for a few weeks. I also finally sat down and figured out why the brightness keys on the same system weren't working right: that's this GNOME bug, and I tested and confirmed the fix for it and asked the devs to backport it to 3.10. I also looked at trying to get middle-click emulation of some kind working on my 'new' laptop (the Dell XPS 13), which has one of those new-fangled trackpads with no real buttons: I did find a way to make it work which I don't really like much, and filed a bug, with Peter Hutterer's help, on the bug preventing me from doing it in a way I would like.

I enrolled the 'new' laptop (which is finally back from Dell with a repaired screen) in my FreeIPA setup, and cleaned up the ugly workaround I'd put in place on the FreeIPA server for the issues preventing it from starting on boot properly, since those bugs have now been properly fixed upstream. The FreeIPA setup has been working completely reliably and unexceptionably since I worked out all the kinks - I'm growing to like it.

I took current backup snapshots of all my server VM images - encrypted and stored on my NAS and (new!) in Amazon Glacier, which is pretty unbeatably cheap for this kind of off-site backup use.

I set up OpenDMARC on my mail server, so now I can apply DMARC policies for domains that publish them, if I feel like it. For now I'm just appending headers on a trial basis, though.

I did a bit of thinking about exactly why I feel so much more productive here at Mission Control than when travelling with my laptop. Either of my two laptops is a damn good laptop; they're both plenty fast and equipped with good storage and screens, and acceptable keyboards. But it still just doesn't really compare. I came up with a combination of factors:

  • A decent laptop keyboard is a decent laptop keyboard, but a proper mechanical desktop board is a completely different beast.
  • I really do love my vertically-oriented dual heads. There is just massively less friction involved in any number of things when you have that much screen real estate available.
  • One I hadn't really counted before, but: the processing power and storage speed on the laptops is fine, pretty comparable to my desktop. But I don't have anywhere near as good network access anywhere else as I do at home. My home connection is a good 50Mb/sec cable link running through a dd-wrt router with DNS caching, with gigabit ethernet to my desktop. On the road I'm never working on anything near as fast. pbrobinson's setup was probably the closest, and indeed I got the most work done on my trip when staying at his place, but that was still only ADSL2+ accessed over wifi. At 'home' in the UK I have ADSL2+ at slightly slower than max speed (about 8Mb/sec down, less than 1Mb/sec up) accessed over a fairly antiquated wireless router on stock firmware, and once I started really noticing it, the difference was pretty considerable. Things just don't pop up as instantly as they do for me here. And of course, when I'm at home, happyassassin servers are exactly one network hop across two ethernet cables away from me; when I'm travelling, they're usually a few thousand miles away...
  • Environmental factors: I can usually count on at least eight hours a day at home just sitting at my desk with nothing at all to bother me. The kitchen is five steps from my desk. In the UK the kitchen is two storeys below my desk and I usually get distracted by someone on my way there; there's always something dividing my attention.

Anyhoo, just something I'd been thinking about. Remember, it's still Graphics Test Week, too! Today is Radeon Test Day, and tomorrow will be Nouveau Test Day. I'm still hoping we can pull together Wayland Test Day for Friday, but it's getting a bit tight - I asked the graphics devs today and didn't get a response, so might have to throw something together myself.


Matěj Cepl wrote on 2013-10-24 13:34:
Concerning X-Bugzilla-* headers (yes, I know a bit about various folders overflowing with Bugzilla messages ;)). It is also possible to set up your server (e.g., Zimbra) to add IMAP labels for various states of bugs (e.g., CLOSED, ASSIGNED, even with Whiteboard containing Triaged), and then make your client (e.g., Thunderbird) to mark those messages with various colors accordingly. So, just by a brief look at the folder I know that these messages are from closed bugs, that these has been already triaged, etc.