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Robert Norris
Works at FastMail
Lives in Melbourne, Australia
348 followers|272,072 views
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Have him in circles
348 people
Alan Briggs's profile photo
Work
Occupation
Epic hacks
Employment
  • FastMail
    DevOps, 2012 - present
  • Monash University
    Analyst Programmer, 1998 - 2012
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What do you mean you've never heard of second breakfast?
Introduction
Who am I: I'm a hacker. Mostly the computer version of that, but I tend to apply the mentality to everything, including marriage and parenting. The constant question is "how can I bend the resources at my disposal in the situation I'm in to get the outcome I want?"

What I do: By day I'm a mix of sysadmin and developer at FastMail. We use Perl, Cyrus, Postfix, MySQL and Linux to make mail awesome.

By night, I'm a developer and merge monkey for Pioneer, a space trading and combat game in the tradition of Frontier. Over there its C++, Lua, OpenGL, physics, maths, and community management. Mostly everything that work is not.

In between all that I'm a father to three headstrong daughters and husband to the single most inspiring person I have ever had the pleasure of meeting.

What I post about: Mostly things I'm working on, especially if I can show screenshots, and occasional photos of the kids. Pretty much anything that tickles my fancy though :)
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Melbourne, Australia
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rob@eatenbyagrue.org
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robn@fastmail.fm

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Robert Norris

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Jameson is the bot that lives in the #pioneer channel, providing some Github integration and build notifications. Its a simple life.

+Pioneer Space Sim developer Karl wrote a little of Jameson's history and hopes for the future in this touching feature request.
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Robert Norris

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A couple of weeks ago I had a big sook about how I wanted to deploy Stashboard as a service dashboard for +FastMail. There's a link to it at the bottom of this post, if you like a rant.

So I've spent most evenings and train rides since then writing a clone that I call "towncrier". Hear ye, hear ye, stuff is broken!

Its mostly API-compatible with Stashboard, though I did file off a couple of sharp corners. It doesn't have admin screens or OAuth support, though I expect that could come via a Plack middleware.

Its Perl, of course. It depends on a bunch of fairly standard and well-tested stuff on CPAN (I'll accept an argument that KiokuDB and Search::GIN are dead, but they compile and work so whatever). You don't really need to know any Perl to get it going.

Its minimal. It does just enough for what we want. It might get a few tweaks as we gain some experience with it. I'd like to see others using it and contributing to it. I have no idea if there's demand, but at least now there's a choice for anyone that wants it.

There's some mess still. Some utility functions and Template Toolkit plugins need to be broken out into their own libs. The release version of Search::GIN has a bug that renders the entire thing unusable. I've submitted a patch for that, and there's sort-of instructions for how to work around it in towncrier's readme.

Its now up and running on www.fastmailstatus.com. Those lights will stay all green until I fully integrate the API into the rest of our infrastructure. Its mostly there, I just don't want to do anything this late at night. Once its live, I'll redirect status.fastmail.fm to it and that will be that.

Its been an interesting experience. I've seen the current best-practice for web application development in Perl, and I like it. And I'm now finding that I have an unhealthy interest in object stores, and have some ideas for how to make KiokuDB's searching a lot more powerful. But I don't have a need right now, and I don't want to become maintainer for it, so it might not go anywhere.

There you go. A whole web app by a systems guy in under two weeks. Not bad!

Previous moan: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+RobertNorris/posts/Y317XnqZddm
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Yup, another one of those HPC things to go mainstream. Pretty nice for content delivery.
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Robert Norris

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+Alfie John For no specific reason I thought of you.
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Don't know about the leather, but yes... NFC rings, bring it on
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Robert Norris

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Littlest is 5 today. My wife described her well by quoting Shakespeare:

And though she be but little, she is fierce.
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Hey +DreamHost, a question:

I can't directly pay for a domain registration or renewal with Paypal. Understood.

However, I can make a payment to Dreamhost from Paypal of, say, $11.95, and then pay for my domain registration from what I have in my account.

I don't actually mind (I find it slightly amusing tbh), just wondering if that's a known thing.
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Hello Robert,

Sorry if the message was confusing I was saying that we have the accepted payment methods here in our wiki: http://wiki.dreamhost.com/Payment_methods with the information pertaining to being able to use Paypal once an account is setup.

Also, I would like to say thank you for 10 years of loyalty!! :) We really appreciate it.

Thank you,
Brandon S.
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Robert Norris

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Let me tell you about my day...
 
New OpenSSL "Heartbleed"  vulnerability announced today.

via +Tim Bray 
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I've just installed new OpenSSL .debs on unvanquished.net, though I'm deferring the certificate replacement because I'm currently in the process of (trying to) obtain a replacement anyway; if that fails, then I'll be using a fresh self-signed certificate.
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Have him in circles
348 people
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Robert Norris

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You can be almost certain that if a user says "the problem is not at my end" then the problem will in fact be at their end.
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I couldn't reasonably go back to that kind of ISP. I escaped from one like that – once a good ISP, but a few sales later and it seems that all that's left is the branding – a few years ago when they started switching from their own Exim-based  mail service to an outsourced Outlook-based one. (They then proceeded to have problems with SPF, specifically hard fail, taking several months to ‘fix’ them, and then apparently only for customers who them that they want that fixed.)

My current ISP resells ADSL connections etc. from two telcos (used to be three until a certain well-known satellite broadcaster got their hands on one of them) and provide support via an IRC channel as well as phone and email. Problems tend to get fixed or worked around promptly.

A few weeks ago (the day of the yearly GMT→BST switch), I noticed one which would affect all ADSL from one of their suppliers, so I mentioned it in my ISP's support channel (yes, they know about IRC) and was asked to send mail about it to their support address, so I did so. The problem, which was related to time zones (it's not stated explicitly in the resolution of this, problem, but it looks very much like the supplier uses local time, presumably without TZ info, but my ISP is, quite reasonably, using and expecting GMT where appropriate), was worked around the next day.

(It occurs to me that there may still be a problem concerning one hour in late October…)
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Robert Norris

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The rare Penelope Owl in its natural habitat. 
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And my good name being sullied ;)
 
A story of two-factor auth, social engineering attacks and keeping your identity safe. 
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Yikes. The internet is a scary place.
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Robert Norris

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Oh the places you'll go... 
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If I'm complaining, then I'm in a good mood. If I was actually annoyed then I'd just go home ;) 
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Robert Norris's +1's are the things they like, agree with, or want to recommend.
OUYA
plus.google.com

The revolution will be televised!

FastMail
plus.google.com

Streamline your email

Email is still relevant
whatwouldazen.wordpress.com

This is expanded from a slide I wrote a couple of years ago in a dagen@ifi talk for Oslo University about what I do at FastMail. I answered

First Impressions of Golang (Part 1)
jpabartholomew.blogspot.com

(Note: Title uses "golang" instead of "go" because "go" is impossible to Google. Good choice there, guys.) This week I have written my first

Pioneer Space Sim
plus.google.com

A game of lonely space adventure