Bits, bytes, and blinkin' lights.

It goes without saying that 2020 has been the year of the inconceivable. And to top it all off, after daily driving Linux on my laptop for nearly a decade, I just switched back to Windows! Let me explain—it’s not as if I’ve given up on the Penguin OS entirely. My servers and routers continue to run Linux, delivering funny cat pictures to myself and dispatching my own hot takes to the rest of the Internet.
In my family, the person with the fastest Internet connection is… Grandma, a Vietnam War refugee who has never used a computer in her life. This is by virtue of her residence on a main road in the great state of Delaware, which gets fiber TV and Internet service through Verizon FiOS. She subscribes to the cheapest Internet plan so that the grandkids can tap away at their tablets during family gatherings.
(Web technology changes fast! Mind the date this post was written, which was November 2019.) I get the feeling nobody uses WebRTC in the real world, since all of the tutorials use the same toy examples that don’t involve any actual network connectivity. That’s a shame, because WebRTC makes peer-to-peer communication a cakewalk. Somewhere in our imaginations, there’s a whole category of decentralized web apps, just waiting to get written!

Sia Slice in action. (On a remote system, with tmux.)

I dabble in cryptocurrencies, occasionally. I hesitate to get too partisan on a subject the Internet takes very seriously, but it seems to me that the fairest judge of a coin’s value is the utility it provides to its holders. So Bitcoin is useful because everyone recognizes and accepts Bitcoin, Monero is useful because it facilitates anonymous transactions, Ethereum has that smart contracts thing going for it, and so on and so forth.

This post was rewritten on July 26, 2019 to incorporate a cleaner solution. The original version can be viewed here. LXD is my favorite containerization stack. For my use case, which is running various services on the same machine with isolated root filesystems, it’s more flexible and easier to use than Docker, particularly in terms of networking capabilities. Using LXD, I can bridge all of my containers to my local LAN, thereby providing each of them a unique local IPv4 and global IPv6 address.

Introduction: What is VGA passthrough?

Answer: Attaching a graphics card to a Windows virtual machine, on a Linux host, for near-native graphical performance. This is evolving technology.

This post reflects my experience running my VGA passthrough setup for several years. It is not intended as a complete step-by-step guide, but rather a collection of notes to supplement the existing literature (notably, Alex Williamson’s VFIO blog) given my specific configuration and objectives. In particular, I am interested in achieving a smooth gaming experience, maintaining access to the attached graphics card from the Linux host, and staying as close to a stock Fedora configuration as possible. Hopefully, my notes will be useful to someone.

Recently — in the spring of 2016, I believe — the UT Austin libraries rolled out a new printing system that allows students and staff to upload documents via a web interface. This was a huge deal to me because previously, I had to get off my laptop and sign in to a library computer to print things. Functional but frustratingly slow. It works well enough, but as is always the case for university computer systems, it’s a little cumbersome to use.
I usually keep my writings on my personal blog and The Daily Texan separate, but I’ll make an exception here: this post is an addendum to my recent opinion column on sustainability and the UT campus map. Here’s how I think the campus map should look like. I took the visitor map from the Parking and Transportation Services website and added the UT shuttle campus circulators and some suggested bicycling routes.

Piazza is a free classroom discussion service marketed for science and mathematics classes. It is best described as a hybrid wiki and forum; students can post questions, and other students can collaborate on answers. Like WordPress, content can be formatted with a rich-text editor or with plain HTML with a restricted set of features. Piazza’s distinguishing feature is the ability to post anonymously, which it claims makes underrepresented groups in the sciences more comfortable with interacting with the class. At UT, the computer science department makes extensive use of Piazza for most of its classes.

Piazza is primarily accessed through the web interface on piazza.com. Of great interest, there is also a “lite” web interface designed for mobile devices and accessible browsers at piazza.com/lite. I will demonstrate that Piazza is susceptible to common client-side web attacks, such as cross-site scripting, as a result of its reliance on web apps. (There are also native iOS and Android apps, but they are awful, and nobody uses them.)

As part of an open-ended class project, I wrote a program to collect arrival time statistics for Capital Metro BRT buses. You can check out the final report here.