May 15, 2017

Emacs slow font rendering fail

Mostly use unorthodox variable-width font for coding, but do need monospace sometimes, e.g. for jagged YAML files or .rst.

Had weird issue with my emacs for a while, where switching to monospace font will slow window/frame rendering significantly, to a noticeable degree, having stuff blink and lag, making e.g. holding key to move cursor impossible, etc.

Usual profiling showed that it's an actual rendering via C code, so kinda hoped that it'd go away in one of minor releases, but nope - turned out to be the dumbest thing in ~/.emacs:

(set-face-font 'fixed-pitch "DejaVu Sans Mono-7.5")

That one line is what slows stuff down to a crawl in monospace ("fixed-pitch") configuration, just due to non-integer font size, apparently.

Probably not emacs' fault either, just xft or some other lower-level rendering lib, and a surprising little quirk that can affect high-level app experience a lot.

Changing font size there to 8 or 9 gets rid of the issue. Oh well...

Dec 08, 2015

GHG - simplier GnuPG (gpg) replacement for file encryption

Have been using gpg for many years now, many times a day, as I keep lot of stuff in .gpg files, but still can't seem to get used to its quirky interface and practices.

Most notably, it's "trust" thing, keyrings and arcane key editing, expiration dates, gpg-agent interaction and encrypted keys are all sources of dread and stress for me.

Last drop, following the tradition of many disastorous interactions with the tool, was me loosing my master signing key password, despite it being written down on paper and working before. #fail ;(

Certainly my fault, but as I'll be replacing the damn key anyway, why not throw out the rest of that incomprehensible tangle of pointless and counter-productive practices and features I never use?

Took ~6 hours to write a replacement ghg tool - same thing as gpg, except with simple and sane key management (which doesn't assume you entering anything, ever!!!), none of that web-of-trust or signing crap, good (and non-swappable) djb crypto, and only for file encryption.

Does everything I've used gpg for from the command-line, and has one flat file for all the keys, so no more hassle with --edit-key nonsense.

Highly suggest to anyone who ever had trouble and frustration with gpg to check ghg project out or write their own (trivial!) tool, and ditch the old thing - life's too short to deal with that constant headache.

Mar 25, 2015

gnuplot for live "last 30 seconds" sliding window of "free" (memory) data

Was looking at a weird what-looks-like-a-memleak issue somewhere in the system on changing desktop background (somewhat surprisingly complex operation btw) and wanted to get a nice graph of "last 30s of free -m output", with some labels and easy access to data.

A simple enough task for gnuplot, but resulting in a somewhat complicated solution, as neither "free" nor gnuplot are perfect tools for the job.

First thing is that free -m -s1 doesn't actually give a machine-readable data, and I was too lazy to find something better (should've used sysstat and sar!) and thought "let's just parse that with awk":

free -m -s $interval |
  awk '
    BEGIN {
      exports="total used free shared available"
      agg="free_plot.datz"
      dst="free_plot.dat"}
    $1=="total" {
      for (n=1;n<=NF;n++)
        if (index(exports,$n)) headers[n+1]=$n }
    $1=="Mem:" {
      first=1
      printf "" >dst
      for (n in headers) {
        if (!first) {
          printf " " >>agg
          printf " " >>dst }
        printf "%d", $n >>agg
        printf "%s", headers[n] >>dst
        first=0 }
      printf "\n" >>agg
      printf "\n" >>dst
      fflush(agg)
      close(dst)
      system("tail -n '$points' " agg " >>" dst) }'

That might be more awk than one ever wants to see, but I imagine there'd be not too much space to wiggle around it, as gnuplot is also somewhat picky in its input (either that or you can write same scripts there).

I thought that visualizing "live" stream of data/measurements would be kinda typical task for any graphing/visualization solution, but meh, apparently not so much for gnuplot, as I haven't found better way to do it than "reread" command.

To be fair, that command seem to do what I want, just not in a much obvious way, seamlessly updating output in the same single window.

Next surprising quirk was "how to plot only last 30 points from big file", as it seem be all-or-nothing with gnuplot, and googling around, only found that people do it via the usual "tail" before the plotting.

Whatever, added that "tail" hack right to the awk script (as seen above), need column headers there anyway.

Then I also want nice labels - i.e.:

  • How much available memory was there at the start of the graph.
  • How much of it is at the end.
  • Min for that parameter on the graph.
  • Same, but max.
stats won't give first/last values apparently, unless I missed those in the PDF (only available format for up-to-date docs, le sigh), so one solution I came up with is to do a dry-run plot command with set terminal unknown and "grab first value" / "grab last value" functions to "plot".
Which is not really a huge deal, as it's just a preprocessed batch of 30 points, not a huge array of data.

Ok, so without further ado...

src='free_plot.dat'
y0=100; y1=2000;
set xrange [1:30]
set yrange [y0:y1]

# --------------------
set terminal unknown
stats src using 5 name 'y' nooutput

is_NaN(v) = v+0 != v
y_first=0
grab_first_y(y) = y_first = y_first!=0 && !is_NaN(y_first) ? y_first : y
grab_last_y(y) = y_last = y

plot src u (grab_first_y(grab_last_y($5)))
x_first=GPVAL_DATA_X_MIN
x_last=GPVAL_DATA_X_MAX

# --------------------
set label 1 sprintf('first: %d', y_first) at x_first,y_first left offset 5,-1
set label 2 sprintf('last: %d', y_last) at x_last,y_last right offset 0,1
set label 3 sprintf('min: %d', y_min) at 0,y0-(y1-y0)/15 left offset 5,0
set label 4 sprintf('max: %d', y_max) at 0,y0-(y1-y0)/15 left offset 5,1

# --------------------
set terminal x11 nopersist noraise enhanced
set xlabel 'n'
set ylabel 'megs'

set style line 1 lt 1 lw 1 pt 2 pi -1 ps 1.5
set pointintervalbox 2

plot\
  src u 5 w linespoints linestyle 1 t columnheader,\
  src u 1 w lines title columnheader,\
  src u 2 w lines title columnheader,\
  src u 3 w lines title columnheader,\
  src u 4 w lines title columnheader,\

# --------------------
pause 1
reread

Probably the most complex gnuplot script I composed to date.

Yeah, maybe I should've just googled around for an app that does same thing, though I like how this lore potentially gives ability to plot whatever other stuff in a similar fashion.

That, and I love all the weird stuff gnuplot can do.

For instance, xterm apparently has some weird "plotter" interface hardware terminals had in the past:

gnuplot and Xterm Tektronix 4014 Mode

And there's also the famous "dumb" terminal for pseudographics too.

Regular x11 output looks nice and clean enough though:

gnuplot x11 output

It updates smoothly, with line crawling left-to-right from the start and then neatly flowing through. There's a lot of styling one can do to make it prettier, but I think I've spent enough time on such a trivial thing.

Didn't really help much with debugging though. Oh well...

Full "free | awk | gnuplot" script is here on github.

May 18, 2014

The moment of epic fail hilarity with hashes

Just had an epic moment wrt how to fail at kinda-basic math, which seem to be quite representative of how people fail wrt homebrew crypto code (and what everyone and their mom warn against).

So, anyhow, on a d3 vis, I wanted to get a pseudorandom colors for text blobs, but with reasonably same luminosity on HSL scale (Hue - Saturation - Luminosity/Lightness/Level), so that changing opacity on light/dark bg can be seen clearly as a change of L in the resulting color.

There are text items like (literally, in this example) "thing1", "thing2", "thing3" - these should have all distinct and constant colors, ideally.

So how do you pick H and S components in HSL from a text tag? Just use hash, right?

As JS doesn't have any hashes yet (WebCryptoAPI is in the works) and I don't really need "crypto" here, just some str-to-num shuffler for color, decided that I might as well just roll out simple one-liner non-crypto hash func implementation.
There are plenty of those around, e.g. this list.

Didn't want much bias wrt which range of colors get picked, so there are these test results - link1, link2 - wrt how these functions work, e.g. performance and distribution of output values over uint32 range.

Picked random "ok" one - Ly hash, with fairly even output distribution, implemented as this:

hashLy_max = 4294967296 # uint32
hashLy = (str, seed=0) ->
  for n in [0..(str.length-1)]
    c = str.charCodeAt(n)
    while c > 0
      seed = ((seed * 1664525) + (c & 0xff) + 1013904223) % hashLy_max
      c >>= 8
  seed

c >>= 8 line and internal loop here because JS has unicode strings, so it's a trivial (non-standard) encoding.

But given any "thing1" string, I need two 0-255 values: H and S, not one 0-(2^32-1). So let's map output to a 0-255 range and just call it twice:

hashLy_chain = (str, count=2, max=255) ->
  [hash, hashes] = [0, []]
  scale = d3.scale.linear()
    .range([0, max]).domain([0, hashLy_max])
  for n in [1..count]
    hash = hashLy(str, hash)
    hashes.push(scale(hash))
  hashes
Note how to produce second hash output "hashLy" just gets called with "seed" value equal to the first hash - essentially hash(hash(value) || value).
People do that with md5, sha*, and their ilk all the time, right?

Getting the values from this func, noticed that they look kinda non-random at all, which is not what I came to expect from hash functions, quite used to dealing crypto hashes, which are really easy to get in any lang but JS.

So, sure, given that I'm playing around with d3 anyway, let's just plot the outputs:

Ly hash outputs

"Wat?... Oh, right, makes sense."

Especially with sequential items, it's hilarious how non-random, and even constant the output there is.
And it totally makes sense, of course - it's just a "k1*x + x + k2" function.

It's meant for hash tables, where seq-in/seq-out is fine, and the results in "chain(3)[0]" and "chain(3)[1]" calls are so close on 0-255 that they map to the same int value.

Plus, of course, the results are anything but "random-looking", even for non-sequential strings of d3.scale.category20() range.

Lession learned - know what you're dealing with, be super-careful rolling your own math from primitives you don't really understand, stop and think about wth you're doing for a second - don't just rely on "intuition" (associated with e.g. "hash" word).

Now I totally get how people start with AES and SHA1 funcs, mix them into their own crypto protocol and somehow get something analogous to ROT13 (or even double-ROT13, for extra hilarity) as a result.

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