Monday, 22. July 2024 Week 30

Less: a Survival Guide

Less: a Survival Guide is a concise post from demystifying the features of less.

My two main takeaways were:

1. Configuring less via the LESS environment variable.
The following enables markers and highlighting for search & jump actions, colored output and raw display of terminal escape sequences.

export LESS="-J -W --use-color -R"

2. Jumping to the start and end of a document with g and G.
I already used / for searching, but had always struggled to go back to the beginning of a document.

Sunday, 7. July 2024 Week 27

Lego Space Age

Lego Space Age

While browsing for something unrelated, I came about this wonderful Lego set called 'Tales of the Space Age'.
It was originally created by a fan designer through the Lego Ideas program and turned into this amazing looking Lego set.

I like the depiction of the space themed science fiction worlds very much, especially the beautiful color gradients giving each world a unique atmosphere.
The provided building instructions booklet builds on top of this with illustrations enhancing the views of these worlds.

Looking at these four panels with the nice space themed color gradients inspired me to rebuild them in CSS.
First I toyed around with one and then built the other three.

The outcome of this is now visible on where I replaced the previous entry page with the four color gradients.
The previous version is still available on as I couldn't decide yet to retire it, so will be keeping both for now :-)

Saturday, 6. July 2024 Week 27

Jekyll version plugin

Recently I added a Generator section to the about page with minimal information about how this page was generated.
As part of this it now also shows the version of the Jekyll software that was used to generate everything.

Surprisingly there seems to be no built-in way to get the version as a template tag.
Thus I wrote this mini-plugin to provide such a {% jekyll_version %} tag that can be used to get the version of Jekyll while it is processing the pages.

To use it with your own Jekyll, simply store the below code in a _plugins/jekyll_version_plugin.rb file.

# frozen_string_literal: true
module Jekyll
  class VersionTag < Liquid::Tag
    def render(context)

Liquid::Template.register_tag("jekyll_version", Jekyll::VersionTag)

More statistics tuning

After last weeks work on the statistics page, I was still not completely happy with how it renders in text-only browsers.

Thus the idea of adding <th> headers to the two rows of numbers.
This turned out quite well and helped to make things more clear as you can see in this screenshot.

Screenshot of Lynx rendering the improved statistics page

I initially wanted to use the :first-child selector to hide these additional table headers in graphical web browsers.
But didn't get it right with the first try, so the header still showed.

This actually didn't look that bad, and so I decided to keep the headers visible and styled them nicely so they integrate well with the rest of the statistics table.
This is how the statistics page now looks in a graphical web browser.

Screenshot of Firefox rendering the improved statistics page

Sunday, 30. June 2024 Week 26

Improved text-only UX

Some time ago I read this article from Dan Q about testing your website in a text-only browser (Lynx, which is the oldest web browser still being maintained, started in 1992).

Surfing through my blog with Lynx, I was positively surprised in how well the content and structure was presented.
Seems like the modernization and simplification efforts of the HTML code behind the scenes paid off well.

The statistics page though was not really usable, it was displayed as a random soup of numbers due to the usage of unstructured <div> tags for the elements of the visual graphs.

To fix this I reverted back to using <table> tags to structure the data.
This way the layout degrades gracefully in text-only browsers and provides a minimally structured representation of the data.
And I applied the newly learned CSS skills (linear-gradient backgrounds) to achieve the same visual graph as beforehand when opening the page in a regular browser.

Screenshot of Lynx rendering the statistics page

Saturday, 29. June 2024 Week 26


While looking at my 404s the top one for the blog was /.well-known/traffic-advice.
This is part of the traffic advice mechanism to control traffic from prefetch proxies (and based on my current access logs, seems only used by the Chrome Privacy Preserving Prefetch Proxy).

The traffic advice mechanism is specified in the document here.
It can be used to reduce the number of requests coming from prefetch proxies.

To get rid of the 404s and provide support for the traffic advice mechanism, I use the following snippet in my nginx config.
It allows all requests from prefetch proxies (as currently I see no need to limit them).

# Private Prefetch Proxy
location /.well-known/traffic-advice {
        types { } default_type "application/trafficadvice+json";
        return 200 '[{"user_agent":"prefetch-proxy","fraction":1.0}]';
Sunday, 23. June 2024 Week 25

RSS feed tuning

After the recent addition of custom Web Components, the usual feed validators were a bit less happy about my RSS and Atom feeds.

They always marked my feeds as valid, but usually had some recommendations to improve interoperability with the widest range of feed readers.
In particular having non-HTML5 elements does not help with interoperability. Which makes sense as there is no real place in the XML of the feeds to reference the needed JavaScript for rendering the Web Components.

Besides stripping away the <youtube-vimeo-embed> tags and replacing them with a link to the video, I took this opportunity to cleanup some other 'Altlasten' (legacy tech depts).
A lot of time was spent trying to get my head around various encodings/escapings of special characters. When the blog started in 2002, UTF-8 was not adopted yet and all special characters needed to be written as HTML entities.
And what didn't help is that I somehow had a text-only part in my RSS file which tried to deliver a version of my posts without any HTML (but failed to do so properly as it only had the tags stripped away but did not revert all the HTML character encodings.
Of course the various resulting & characters nicely clash with XML encoding).

There were some other oddities from the past, such as empty post titles and HTML tags inside titles.

I ended up cleaning up most of this and got rid of the text-only representation and corresponding encoding/escaping problems. (using <![CDATA[ and ]]> with the HTML content inside makes life so much easier)

The still remaing recommendations to improve are about relative links and <script> tags.
The relative links are all due to my replacing of dead and non-archived link destinations with a single #. So they are more a 'false postive' than a real problem, the links are dead either way.
The <script> tags are more problematic, as they result from my embedding of GitHub Gists in posts. The code in the Gists is loaded, rendered and nicely highlighted with color by the script, thus not easy to replicate in a feed.

Probably the best approach for the Gists would be to find a way to properly include the content into the posts. So that it is rendered nicely when viewed in a browser, and has a meaningful text-only fallback in the feeds.
Would make sense to self-hosts these anyways. Next rainy weekend project there you are :-)

This is a valid RSS feed. This is a valid Atom 1.0 feed.

Saturday, 22. June 2024 Week 25

IPv6 vs IPv4 traffic graphs in MikroTik

Out of curiosity I wanted to know how much of my Internet traffic uses IPv6 vs the legacy IPv4.

There is no out-of-the-box graph for this in MikroTik.
Several forum and Stack Overflow posts suggest using ratelimiting queues with their graphing feature to collect this data.

After experimenting a bit, I ended up with the following configuration which creates two queues to collect the traffic data.
Important to know, traffic flows on a first-match basis through the queues. Thus the trick of having first the queue matching IPv6 traffic and then the queue matching all the remaining traffic.
Also, I use 10G as 'unreachable' traffic limit to avoid any traffic being ratelimited. This works well for my 1Gbit/s setup, but will need to be adjusted if you have a higher bandwidth.

/queue simple add limit-at=10G/10G max-limit=10G/10G name=v6-traffic queue=ethernet-default/ethernet-default target=2000::/3 total-queue=ethernet-default
/queue simple add limit-at=10G/10G max-limit=10G/10G name=v4-traffic queue=ethernet-default/ethernet-default target="" total-queue=ethernet-default

Having the queues in place for a couple days results in the following graphs:

IPv6 Traffic
Weekly traffic graph of the IPv6 queue, showing an average of 379.65Kb incoming traffic.

IPv4 Traffic
Weekly traffic graph of the IPv4 queue, showing an average of 21.49Kb incoming traffic.

Happy to see that a large majority of my traffic uses IPv6 :-)

Tuesday, 18. June 2024 Week 25

More modern technologies

After the recent integration of Web Components in the blog, I made yet another stab at using some modern technologies.

This time inspired by the Ten years of A Single Div article, my focus was on the linear-gradient() and radial-gradient() CSS properties.

They can be combined to draw almost arbitrary shapes with pure CSS.

I used this to replace all graphics on with CSS, while keeping the layout and functionality identical to the original 2005 version.

In the process of this, also some additional modern CSS features were used:
var() to simplify repeating CSS code.
animation/@keyframes to add a little fade-in effect on the hover text.