reddit bots diagram
Figure 1. How much does a software bot weigh, anyway? Heavily modified & adapted from the original public domain robot on openclipart, posted by johnny_automatic.

reddit, the insanely popular internet community, had 71,435,935 unique visitors last month, with over 2,360,783 people logged in [1].

I say people - but it turns out that not all the denizens of reddit are human. There are also bots. Lots and lots of bots. How many? No-one really knows. [2]

This is an interesting and somewhat shadowy facet of the otherwise very public reddit community, so I thought I’d take a closer look…​

What is a reddit bot?

A reddit bot is no different from any other user, as far as reddit is concerned. The only difference is that rather than a human logging in to upvote cat pictures and …

Continue reading “A Marvellous & Incomplete Compendium of reddit Automatons & Bots”

stackoverflow logo is made of people diagram
Figure 1. StackOverflow is made of people - lots and lots and lots of people.

Seemingly like everything else in the world, Stack Overflow is getting more & more competitive as time passes. Gaining a good reputation - and even finding good questions to answer - is becoming harder and harder, as more and more people compete for less and less unanswered questions.

This is fantastic if you want to find an answer - but makes it much harder for newcomers to get started and build a reputation on the site.

This guide will help you jump-start your reputation on StackOverflow and help you get more out of the site.

How to find questions you can answer

Ignored & Favourite Tags

Screenshot of part of my (very long) ignored tags list from Stack Overflow
Figure 2. I don’t know jack: Screenshot of part of my (long) ignored tags list from Stack Overflow

Use the no answers page, the …

Continue reading “The Smart Guide to Stack Overflow: Zero to Hero”

http://unix.stackexchange.com/questions/35255/command-line-audio-piping-for-simultaneous-playback-and-recording http://linux.die.net/man/1/sox http://sox.sourceforge.net/

$ sudo apt-get install sox mbuffer tcpdump
$ sudp apt-add-repository ppa:nadaeck/spectrum3d
$ sudo apt-get update && apt-get install spectrum3d
$ sudo tcpdump -i eth0 -n -w- | mbuffer -P 10 | play --buffer 1500 -r 8000 -b 8 -c 1 -e signed-integer -t raw - band 2k speed 0.1 reverb
Continue reading “Data as Art: Visualizing your network traffic in realtime”

Go through my config and explain each bit

Date based posts

ARTICLE_URL = 'blog/{date:%Y}/{date:%m}/{date:%d}/{slug}/'
ARTICLE_SAVE_AS = 'blog/{date:%Y}/{date:%m}/{date:%d}/{slug}/index.html'

YEAR_ARCHIVE_SAVE_AS = 'blog/{date:%Y}/index.html'
MONTH_ARCHIVE_SAVE_AS = 'blog/{date:%Y}/{date:%m}/index.html'
DAY_ARCHIVE_SAVE_AS = 'blog/{date:%Y}/{date:%m}/{date:%d}/index.html'

ARCHIVES_SAVE_AS = 'blog/index.html'


The config file is a python script

This is really great, once you get the hang of it, but for some reasons, the settings documented here aren’t in python syntax, so you can’t just copy & paste them. For example, these three settings from there :

MARKUP (('rst', 'md'))
STATIC_PATHS (['images'])

need to look something like this, when you put them into your pelican …

Continue reading “How I built this website, using Pelican: Part 3”


I occasionally get asked this by real live people - and also it comes up a lot in places like /r/linux4noobs, so I thought I’d try to provide my answer for this.

Fundamental Differences

Open Source

What has open source done for me lately?

Open source apps are better, not just cheaper.


Repositories & Package Managers

Freedom to Customize

Don’t like the way your favourite software has changes? no problem - just use an alternative, or keep using the existing one. It’s open source, you can do what you like.

Web Development

70% of all web servers run linux - it’s cheap, fast secure and well supported. Why not make you development environment match your deployment environment.

General Development …

Continue reading “Why is Lunix Better than Windows - what can I do with Linux that I can’t with Windows?”

I switched my XFCE machines over to use Compton for window compositing today - and it’s a noticeable improvement.

A compositor glues your stacks of windows together to form the final image that you see on screen. It’s responsible for any fancy effects like drop-shadows, as well drawing windows while dragging, resizing and minimizing or maximizing them. [1]

Compton does this beautifully. It does one thing and it does it well. It provides glassy smooth, tear free compositing and supports a few tasteful effects - drop shadows, fades and transparency.

I stumbled across this while searching for something else and found a great guide in the NeoWin forums [2], where most of this info comes from, so thanks ViperAFK.

Switch off the existing compositor

Screenshot of the XFCE Applications menu

You’ll need to switch of any existing compositing you’ve got running, otherwise this won …

Continue reading “How to switch to Compton for beautiful tear free compositing in XFCE

Schmatic diagram showing two phones
Figure 1. In an ideal world, I’d like something like this - and vice versa, please.

My wife and I currently live in Canada, and our families are back in the UK. We’d been using Skype to chat with people in the UK, but I was getting frustrated with Skype’s limitations: it either ties you to a computer and WiFi, or running a battery hungry app which slows down your phone. It doesn’t work very well over the 3G phone network here and while it’s free to make Skype to Skype calls, it’s fairly expensive calling real phones. I didn’t really want to buy a dedicated Skype phone - we both already have mobile/cell phones. And, to top it all off, the Skype software for Linux is the poor cousin of the Windows one …

Continue reading “Magic Phone Numbers: My VOIP Setup, with voip.ms”

Continue reading “Googles Android Design Principles”

How Figures & Images work in Pelican, by default

By default Pelican does a great job with figures and images, thanks to built-in support in ReStructuredText [1][1] . Pelican will turn this rst input:

.. figure:: {static}/images/better-figures-images-plugin-for-pelican/dummy-200x200.png
    :align: right

    This is the caption of the figure.

    The legend consists of all elements after the caption. In this case, the legend consists of this paragraph.

into this HTML output:

<div class="figure align-right">
    <img alt="/static/images/dummy-200x200.png" src="/static/images/dummy-200x200.png" />
    <p class="caption">This is the caption of the figure.</p>
    <div class="legend">The legend consists of all elements after the caption. In this case, the legend consists of this paragraph</div>

Which, given this CSS:

/* Styles for Figures & Images */

img {
    border: 1px solid #bbb;
    border-radius: 3px;
    padding: 4px;
    float: left;
    margin: 1em …
Continue reading “Better Figures & Images Plugin for Pelican”