Computing

I have a few computers, usually there is a good reason for the name.

I have a few other computers too. You can read about them on my old computers page.

Software & Hardware I use

This website

The home page is built from plain HTML, since it is quite different to other pages. Other pages, such as this one, and built from a batch script which uses pandoc to convert an org file into HTML. For each org file, I compute a hash and store it in a file. To update all pages, I simply run "make pages". The blog is generated in a similar way, but has some added complexity which is introduced from tagging and the blog listing. The blog can be built with "make blog" or sub commands such as "make blog-index" or "make blog-posts".

This may seem a bit weird in the age of dynamic web pages. It isn't that I don't know PHP (in fact I worked as a PHP developer for several years), but more that I know this is portable. Even if pandoc is long gone, I will still have plain HTML files which I can work with. One common argument against static HTML files is that it is hard to update all page styles at once... Well, yes this is typically true, but not if you use scripts to generate them for you.

Incidentally, you can see the org source for any page (apart from the home page) by replacing the HTML extension with org. I enjoy working in org because of the native support in Emacs.

Email

As I mentioned in the software section above, I primarily use Emacs for my email, at work and at home. Occasionally I will login to one of my machines via SSH and check my email using Heirloom mailx. This fork of the original mailx supports Maildir folders, which is how I store my email on any machine. Because of my choice in email client, I find HTML email to be quite frustrating. I know it is a lost cause, which is why I have a program html2text which I can pipe emails into, but it's still disappointing to me.

I have been running my own email server since 2006 on the domain aaronsplace.co.uk. The current setup is an OpenBSD system running opensmtpd and Dovecot, which acts as an LDA and provides me with IMAP access. opensmtpd passes each email through SpamAssassin with some fairly custom rules specific to the type of spam that typically targets me. This works very well, and I get less than one spam email in my inbox per day, and around 200 spam emails in my Junk folder. The LDA component of Dovecot passes my email through sieve, which decides which folder it should go into.

I follow and occasionally post on quite a large number of mailing lists, here are some of my favourites:

Internet Connection

My home internet connection is provided by Zen Internet over a BT "fibre" line, which unfortunately is allowed to mean a regular phone line connected to a cabinet with in a few hundred metres of your house. This is not fibre, it is FTTC (Fibre to the Cabinet) and it irritates me that Ofcom allows them to refer to it as such. I went with Zen because they have good ratings, allowed me to have an IPv4 29 CIDR subnet and don't cost too much (my housemate disagrees). I like this because it means that several of my computers are remotely addressable without NAT. We still have NAT for other machines, and a firewall, it is all piped through a Ubiquiti EdgeRouter Lite. I also use a Cisco 2950 24-port 100Mbit Ethernet switch, mostly because it was cheap and allows me to monitor ports. I have a page dedicated to logging this sort of thing here. I can tell you that with the number of security flaws in the version of IOS that it is running, it does not have a public address.

On my laptop I installed a 3G modem (the wonders of ThinkPads), and in that modem I have a SIM card from AAISP. They charge £2/month + 2p/MB. It also has a static IP address. I use this very rarely, mainly for SSHing into machines and downloading email when I don't have WiFi. I have considered setting it up so I could SSH into my laptop if it was stolen, allowing me to wipe, brick or track the laptop.

← Return Home

Copyright 2007-2017 Aaron S. Jackson (modified: Sat 27 May 19:46:43 BST 2017)