Weeknote 17 – Covid19, Webmentions and Migrations

A glimpse of the past week and the few articles, podcasts, tools, videos and music that captivated my attention:

This week I got a better handle at deploying and maintaining docker images. With that squared out, I decided to decommission the Digital Ocean servers that I had setup back in 2017 and migrate the applications over to my Hetzner server. I no longer have to rely on ServerPilot. All my applications are now deployed as docker containers fronted by #Traefik as a reverse proxy.

The jitsi server instance I deployed last week has been serving pretty well so far! I tweaked it further to enable local recording. Meena has been using it to run her online Yoga sessions and she can now also use it to record the podcast that she soon plans to start! Session recording and live-streaming is something I still need to configure in my current setup. The logs indicate it’s failing on the Jibri handshake and that’s something I’ll need to figure out once I have a bit more time in hand.

Other actionable tasks on the tech front include figuring out a swift way to deploy PHP based applications on Docker. I still need to port over my Known and PixelFed applications.

Last week, Philip nudged me to look into my webmentions. The theme I previously had wasn’t displaying them as comments. I needed a bit of a ‘creativity boost’ and decided to use a new theme. Really liked the McLuhan theme by Anders Noren and decided to give it a spin. Noticed a minor issue with the comments section and was easily able to fix it. I do however want to make a few tweaks to it, which I hopefully will get around attending to over the next few weeks. I also have my eye on Prateek‘s Zuari theme which is deeply indieweb compliant.

Last evening, Atchuth mentioned he’s now using his RPi4 as a full fledged desktop machine. He’s moved over from DietPi to the Raspbian OS. Makes sense given his current use-case. Sharath on the other hand is still using his RPi 4 predominantly as a Nextcloud server.

This week has been great in terms of re-connecting with some good old friends! We’re planning a re-union sometime next year. 20 year since we finished school! Phew!

The Khat-pat makers group that I am part of is now getting more traction and it’s awesome just hearing out the cool things that other folks are doing. This week’s session was on building drones from scratch!

I also got around connecting with the kids I taught 10 years ago! They’ve all moved on to college and are into various things now. One kid wanted to become a stellar teacher and this  is one of the best messages I’ve received so far!


Last night we played a few good rounds of Pictionary/Dumb-charades with the kids. Shasta had a terrific time just watching the ‘adults’ in their elements. You never get too old for this game!

Interesting podcasts this week

Picturing Data: Monocle


Interesting tools this week

The Termux app has been an amazing value-add to my phone for those quick server check-in’s!

Interesting reads this week

‘We can’t go back to normal’: How will coronavirus change the world?: 2020 will be etched in the memories of most people living today as one that drastically changed how we as humans functioned. As Covid19 spreads across various countries, it’s influencing and compelling dire actions. What was considered to be impossible at various level, is now just a quick decision point – Financial stimulus, vaccine production, remote work and schooling to name a prominent few. As we build resistance to the virus as a society and consequently as the adrenaline that’s currently rampant drains out, we’re going to see the fallout’s of our actions or several inaction’s thereof. Assuming another event of this magnitude does not occur over the next decade, the world is going to need a major overhaul to recover from the pandemic.

Beginner’s guide to PGP: A simple and easy read on PGP with actionable guidance for non-tech folks out there. It’s given that over the next few months most countries are going to erode into the privacy of its citizens. Policies that are brought into effect now for surveillance and tracing will overarchingly become the norm and will be almost impossible to retract. It’s critical that we act now to safeguard what little privacy we can. It’s never been about – ‘There’s nothing that I have to hide.’ Ignorance can and will heavily be mis-appropriated for someone else’s benefit.

Why one Neuroscientist started blasting his core: Neural pathways, stress control systems and of course the adrenal medula. Yet another fascinating read on how amazing the human body is!

How Saudi Arabia’s religious project transformed Indonesia: Religion, politics and power are so damned intertwined. If anything, its one of those defining necessities and vices of humanity.

It’s time to build: So beautifully phrased! It’s high time we dusted those tarp sheets and get to build from ground-up. Over time we’ve become complacent as a society and we need one strong re-boot!


Self-hosting Jitsi video conferencing

Jit.si is a terrific, secure video-conferencing #alternative to #Zoom and obviously comes with all the open-source awesomeness. Call clarity is amazing and with a room capacity of 100+ (and potentially much more, driven by network and server capabilities), it’s an absolute no-brainer to switch over. Use Jitsi Meet on the desktop or use one of their slick android, F-droid or iPhone apps on hand-held devices to organise your video conferences.

With the recent push to video-conferencing most meetings, I decided to setup my own instance. This was way more straightforward than I thought! I am currenty running it as a docker container, fronted with #Traefik for encryption. Configuration and installation steps mentioned below assume you have access to a domain name and server with docker already installed.

Setting up the server:

A records:

Create a new A record with your hosting provider to point your subdomain to the IP address of your server

SSH into server and install:

It should cost you only about 5$ per month for a decent server configuration. I already had an account with Hetzner, so I deployed my instance there.

SSH into your server: sudo ssh [email protected]

Initialise a swarm: sudo docker swarm init

Create the traefik network: sudo docker network create --driver=overlay traefik-net

Create two new yml files – one for traefik-ssl and another for jitsi, copy over the contents from the respective files available here from ethibox and make edits as needed:

sudo nano traefik-ssl.yml

sudo nano jitsi.yml

Deploy the Traefik stack: sudo docker stack deploy -c traefik-ssl.yml traefik

Deploy the Jitsi stack: DOMAIN=meet.srkn.org SCHEME=https docker stack deploy -c jitsi.yml jitsi

If all goes well, you should now have a Jitsi instance running on your server with routing and ssl taken care of by Traefik.

Configuring Jitsi:

You now need to setup the admin account. Login to the Jitsi prosody container. (Update command to reflect your container name):

docker exec -it jitsi_prosody_1.xxxxxx bash

Set as many host credentials as you need:

prosodyctl --config /config/prosody.cfg.lua register host meet.jitsi usejitsi

Exit out of the console! You now have a fully functional self-hosted Video-conference running! Do note that the recording feature currently does not work outright. Will have to sort that out over the next few days.

Desktop and Mobile clients:

I decided to go the electron route for the desktop client. Jitsi has apps for both android and iOS that work out of the box. Just make sure you set the domains to yours.


Moving files from all subdirectories without the tree structure

Appa, who’s very active on Facebook, recently wanted an easy way to sift through his old videos and photos that were up on his account. I decided to take a dump of his data from the network using the download your information section. I initiated the process with just a few clicks and after a few days, I was able to download the zipped files of all the content he had posted on FB. including the likes, messages, shares etc. If you haven’t already, I would strongly recommend you get a copy of your data. I rarely interact on Facebook these days so it was even more interesting to see all the information they collect on you.

Anyways, once I had the zipped files, I wanted to sift through the folder structure and copy over all the media from it to a specific location. Using a combination of the tree and find commands this was pretty straightforward. Logging them here for later reference:

List files with tree hierarchy:


Find all files within the current directory and nested sub-directories and move them to specific folder:

find . -print -name "*.*" -type f -exec mv -n {} /path/to/destination/directory/ \;

Once I had the files [Totally about 25Gb], I realised I had to move them over to my dad’s machine. Good old Syncthing came to use here to send over the files.

Red Run Hike

Nancy was itching for a run and we finally decided to take her outdoors. We hiked/ran about 2 miles starting out at Dolfield Blvd and into the woods instead of the regular paved section. I’d biked here last year so I was decently familiar with this section of the trail. Let her explore on her own as I trailed behind. We decided to turn around at the point where the trail leads on to the Soldier’s delight Natural environmental area.

Crisp, bright weather! Shasta had a ball of time outdoors too. Her first outing in now almost two months post the Covid19 outbreak!

Weeknote 09 – Ashland and Taxtime

A glimpse of the past week and the few articles, podcasts, tools, videos and music that captivated my attention:

The last few weeks have been pretty ‘choppy’. Some recent developments on the work front has gotten us back to Boston. Always wonderful being back here. Looks like New-England has had a pretty mild winter and we’re making sure we take Shasta out as much as possible!

Over the next couple weeks we’ll have to make a few interesting decisions. Between grad programs, fellowships and other exciting opportunities; 2020 is already off to a happening start!

It’s tax filing time! I was super pissed with TurboTax last year. This year I helped file taxes for my in-laws using the FreeFillableForms option. Found it to be super easy and straight forward. Will most likely use it for my personal taxes too.

Interesting podcasts this week

Darknet Diaries: Chanced upon this podcast early this week while sifting through AntennaPod and the premise sounded pretty interesting – Hacking and cyber-warfare. My podcast consumption has drastically come down over the last few months. This will hopefully get me back on the podtrack!

Interesting tools this week

MineTime : Think ‘smarter’ calendars.

Digikam : Self hosted photo management with facial recognition! I’d probably pair this with my Nextcloud photo library over the next few days.

Interesting reads this week

Lifesaving rescue on Mount Washington: Yet another terrific read from Ty Gagne! Note to self to get that HikeSafe card.

Talking to youth about privacy, security and digital spaces: Wonderful piece, Ian. Loved the concept of identifying an ‘approach point’. Most of what he mentioned also applies to adults and more so elderly parents who’ve jumped on the digital scene without much awareness on the privacy implications!

The medications that change who we are: Not quite surprising but pretty intriguing read on how dependent we’re on medication these days. Think twice before you pop that pill!

Why Astrology matters: My family (prior generation) was (is?) a strong believer in Astrology. From making birth charts/Horoscopes, wearing different rings on the fingers to influence the ‘stars’, matching horoscopes prior to weddings, and most significantly to pick an auspicious time to travel; The sentiment has definitely changed over the last decade or so, but hey, it’s still there!

Astrology has stood the test of several hundred generations now and there’s got to be an iota of truth somewhere out there. That said, I still have an excruciatingly hard time believing that the stars and planets have anything to do with one’s life developments.

Opinion | We’re Banning Facial Recognition. We’re Missing the Point.: It all boils down to regulation. Or technology that’s able to shroud a person’s exteriors both physically, electrically and magnetically!