On WSL installing and using NPM directly proved problematic. I got lots of errors about invalid permissions when trying to install applications globally. To fix this I needed to install NVM and use that to run NPM.

posted on March 20, 2020microposts

Installed Linux Mint on my old Acer Aspire One. Installed from the live image on a usb drive and everything seems to work fine. Hopefully will keep my daughter amused during the Corona lockdown period.

posted on March 19, 2020microposts

Setting up a static site with basic web authentication

I have some Gitbooks created for notes that I've taken on various programming books or courses down throughout the years. I didn't want to put these up on a Github pages site as notes like that probably violate copyright. So I wanted some way to hide them behind authentication so that only I could see them.

My initial thinking is that I would need some kind of server to respond to requests and only serve the content if needed. You could probably do this with S3 or some other AWS service but I'm paranoid about using those as even if you think you are within the free tier, you could still be hit with a bill for unexpected usage. I didn't trust that my site would always be configured correctly enough to avoid that. Then next I considered a site that would give me enough free CPU to run a basic server. Enter Heroku.

I tried to use the Jekyll Auth plugin but couldn't get it working.

  • The gem released on rubygems is out of date and clashes with the dependencies in Jekyll 4.0. On the upside this did teach me how to include a gem directly from Github. If the repository in question has a .gemspec file at the root level then you can use the git option and pass the url of the repo e.g. gem 'jekyll-auth', git: "https://github.com/benbalter/jekyll-auth"
  • Even after getting everything configured I was getting denied when trying to authenticate with my Github account. It looked similar to this issue which didn't get resolved so I decided to try something else.

Heroku Buildpack

I tried a different approach which was to get Heroku to serve the files and then use http basic authentication to protect them. Heroku has a buildpack for static sites. This is marked as experimental but it worked fine for me. Hopefully they won't remove it.

  • I used the guide here to get a basic Jekyll installation up and running on Heroku. This worked pretty much as outlined.
  • Then I add http basic authentication as outlined in the relevant section on the Heroku build pack page. You add the option to the static.json file and specify the username and password that you want in env variables. I only wanted a single user i.e. me so I'm not sure if this approach scales to multiple users. I think it does via htpasswd files. To set the password you must first run it through a tool to generate a hash that htpasswd can accept. I used openssl passwd -apr1 <password_plaintext>. Then you set the env variable BASIC_AUTH_PASSWORD to be this value. This didn't work for me from the command line - probably some characters that needed escaping - so I just set it via the web interface.

Some misc Heroku issues that I ran into.

  • I work on WSL and the snap approach for installation didn't work for me so I used the curl script. This mostly worked, however the permissions on a couple of folders were set to root so I had to chown these back to my normal account.
  • I got errors about an app that I thought I had deleted. However the Heroku CLI adds a remote to the git repo pointing to the app so even if you delete the app, make sure that the remote is deleted also.

In the end this worked out fine - a lot easier than I expected and I have a website hidden behind authentication. The dyno that the website is on goes to sleep if not used for a while so the initial request for a page can be slow if the dyno is loading up but it's still only a few seconds. Now that I have a server on Heroku I look forward to seeing what else I can do with it.

posted on March 18, 2020herokudevelopment

Found out you can regenerate ssh public keys if you still have the private part. Was getting invalid format errors when accessing Github and this fixed it

posted on March 18, 2020microposts

Bought Hero Kids as part of a Bundle of Holding offer and it's great. It's a print and play game with grid maps and D&Dish combat. I was looking for something that my son could use his Warhammer miniatures with as the main Warhammer rules are way too complicated. This reminds me of the old Heroquest boardgame (I wish they still made that!). Even my 3.5 year old enjoyed playing it.

posted on March 16, 2020microposts

PS Vita. Still the best handheld?

I recently traded in my PSP for a PS Vita and it's one of the best tech purchases I've ever made. Which is an odd thing alright to be saying about an eight year old console. It's been abandoned by Sony but at this stage in its lifecycle there are just so many things you can do with it. The Switch is by far the better for new games but it can't be modded as much and so can't play the games I want to play on it.

  • It plays vita games obviously :) There are lots of indie games on the vita store and there were some great standard games released for it.
  • It plays PSP and PS1 games perfectly which makes it a great system for RPGs - especially for SRPGs.
  • Using Retroarch you can play lots of older systems. Here is a good installation guide that also adds a nice theme which works well on the Vita.
  • There's a huge amount of homebrew software.
  • The battery life and sleep mode is fantastic on it. It really allows for pick up and play.
  • The PS Vita supports remote play from the PS4. You stream games over the network from the PS4 to the Vita. I'm not sure about any games that are sensitive to input latency but this worked extremely well for me for Final Fantasy 12.
  • CFWaifu Vita Tutorials - this is a good series of tutorials on how to install various software on the Vita.
  • You can replace the proprietary Sony memory cards with an adapter that allows you to use micro SD cards. I haven't tried this yet but it's next on my list as soon as my adapter arrives.

The first thing I did when I got it was to install a custom firmware on it. It's is a lengthy process with a lot of software to be installed but there is a really good comprehensive guide on VitaHacks which walks you through everything in the correct order. Each section of the guide is linked to the next and it shows you the appropriate guides based on your firmware level. It also tells you the common problems you may hit at each stage and how to avoid them. I was on firmware 3.73 but I was able to downgrade using the tutorials. VitaShell is really useful during this as there is a lot of ftping files from the PC to the Vita. This is made really easy in VitaShell.

One great advantage is that you can play PSP and PS1 games on the Vita.

  • The Adrenaline homebrew installs a custom firmware on the built in PSP emulator.
  • This allows for playing PSP and PS1 games and also gives additional features such as graphics filters and Dualshock support.
  • PS1 games need to be converted to eboots first using PSX2PSP
  • Playing PS1 games works really well. The rear touch screen can be used for the R2 and L2 buttons.
  • You can add the PSP and PS1 games to the PS Vita home screen using combinations of Adrenaline Bubble Booter, Adrenaline Bubble Manager, Adrenaline Docs and Vita Bubbles

The Vita is a fanstastic device and I'm really glad with my purchase. It's a real shame that Sony has bailed out of the handset business. I would love a version that could play PS2 games. It would be the ultimate RPG machine. Until the Chinese handhelds can handle PS2 I think that the Vita is the handheld to get.

posted on February 18, 2020games

I'm enjoying Star Trek Picard. As generic sci-fi it's grand. It has pretty much nothing to do with Star Trek or TNG. It's like it was written by people who'd never seen that show. But on the other hand it's a very good spiritual successor to Firefly - and I loved that show.

posted on February 14, 2020microposts

Didn't do much else on the PS Classic. Just spent most of my time playing Vagrant Story to be honest. Here are some miscellaneous links for reference. Here is what PCSX.CFG settings should be and here is some good info on replacing the stock emulator with one from AutoBleem.

posted on October 29, 2019microposts

Next on the list is to try to update the emulator and add some multi-disc games to see if they work.

posted on October 3, 2019microposts

I've changed the following settings in the config file which is supposed to improve the graphics. Also I disabled the auto dimmer which is supposed to improve frame rate.

posted on October 2, 2019microposts

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