Scribbles 'n Bits
Hi, I'm John! 🖖

Scribbling short notes on stuff I've learned/found/thought/done lately.

[ longer posts: runtimeterror ]
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Self-Hosting a Search Engine

I've lately been playing a bit with a self-hosted instance of SearXNG, an utterly-unpronounceable privacy-respecting open-source metasearch engine. Rather than maintaining its own index or running its own crawlers (as something like YaCy does), SearXNG simply asks other engines for their results to a given query (remember Dogpile from back in the day?). The really cool thing with SearXNG is that it also gives you, the user, a whole lot of control over what engines it uses to create its aggregated results.It's pretty neat, and the results so far have been fairly decent. If you'd like to give it a...

omg❤lol

I came across omg.lol a few months back and quickly fell in love. It gives you a really cute [you].omg.lol domain, [you]@omg.lol email, and provides a whole suite of thoughtfully-implemented services like a personal landing page, /now page, weblog (admittedly I haven't used that one much), statuslog, pastebin, permanent URLs (PURLs), and more.  “Get the best internet address that you’ve ever had.” You also get full DNS control of your [you].omg.lol subdomain as well as a handy "Switchboard" for integrating with custom domains or just totally rewiring how your stuff fits together. Additionally, an omg.lol membership includes an account on...

Loopy Keyboards

I'm such a sucker for absolutely bonkers software keyboards for mobile phones? I used (and kind of loved) a bunch of different keyboards back in the day, including the super-low-profile Minuum and gesture-powered Fleksy. But one of the wildest (and most interesting) keyboards I tried was 8pen. Seriously, look at this ridiculous layout:It's wild, right? Once I figured out how to use it, I got to be pretty fast and accurate at text entry - and it's designed in such a way that (once you learn it) you don't have to look at the keyboard at all. 8pen was (perhaps...

Zigbee Home Automation

In addition to tinkering with and documenting the weather integration on my omg.lol page, this weekend I also shifted how my Home Assistant instance manages Zigbee devices. I had been using the deCONZ add-on and integration with a Phoscon ConBee II stick for several years. This setup has been fairly functional, but having to drill down into a separate web app (or, worse: a nested VNC session) to manage the Zigbee network was kind of a buzz kill. So this weekend I decided to switch over to the Zigbee Home Automation integration. ZHA brings Zigbee coordination directly to Home Assistant...

(Near) Realtime Weather on profile.lol

I recently saw Kris's omg.lol profile page with integrated live local weather conditions, and I thought that was exceptionally neat. I immediately wanted to do the same with data from my Weatherflow Tempest weather station, but wasn't sure how I could do that without putting my API token in the browser. So I promptly abandoned the idea and moved on to other things. I later realized that I could use another system to grab data from the authenticated API, and post that somewhere world-readable for the profile page to retrieve it. So I cobbled together a sort of API proxy:...

A Box of Salt

Last year, I figured out how to use HashiCorp Vagrant to provision and manage virtual machines on a Chromebook. I used that for some lightweight tinkering and to learn a bit more about how to use Salt for configuration management in a safe and self-contained environment. Well, I'm about to need to do a lot more Salt work, so last night I decided to refresh my Vagrant setup a bit. I switched to using some newer machine images ("boxes"), and made some tweaks to support the latest "onedir" Salt releases. Being able to quickly spin up/down a lab environment with...

🐟Fish Magic🪄

I've been using (and loving) fish shell for a little while now, and I still frequently discover clever behaviors that make my CLI tasks more enjoyable. Today's discovery: fish will automatically escape single quotes when pasting text into the command line.  “If it outputs to the commandline, it will automatically escape the output if the cursor is currently inside single-quotes so it is suitable for single-quotes (meaning it escapes ' and \\).” So if I work up an ugly one-liner for determining the IP address of whatever interface is attached to the default route: ip addr show $(ip route |...

Upptime: Serverless Server Monitoring

While tinkering with something unrelated last night, I stumbled upon a service status page provided by Upptime. I thought it looked neat, and then I dug into it a bit more, and now I think it's really neat. Most other (self-hosted/managed) uptime monitoring solutions I've played with require deploying a server (or container) to monitor your other servers. Who monitors the monitors? Upptime is a bit different. It operates as a set of GitHub Actions to check the configured sites every 5 minutes, and it stores the results in a version-controlled repository. It uses GitHub Pages to generate a really...

[commence scribbling]

Lately I've been considering different ways to share quick notes and thoughts, things that might be longer than a typical social status post but significantly shorter than my typical long-form technical posts. I thought hard about using weblog.lol for this but I don't really want/need that level of styling and control. My web design skills are meager, at best, and I don't want custom templates and CSS and whatnot to get in the way of just dumping words onto a page. And then I found Scribbles, and it seemed pretty much perfect for my needs. It's minimal and simple, and...