2012 news

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This is the ProgClub news for the year 2012. Latest news goes on top.


New 'webstat' project collecting HTTP statistics at ProgClub

John has hacked out the first version of a simple HTTP statistics collection and reporting facility. You can read about the details in this email.

Improved spam filtering

ProgClub has improved it's spam filtering technology and is now using public blacklists. See here for technical details.


Web facilities for members only

We've made the Web statistics and MemberNet Apache Status member-only facilities now. They used to be available to the public but they contain info that could be considered kind of sensitive so now if you want to access those pages you need to provide your ProgClub Kerberos login.


New member

ProgClub welcomes 90lonebug.


New member

ProgClub welcomes Inoko77.


Key working on pcmnet

In her tradition of being the coolest and most productive ProgClubian Key has been hacking on pcmnet again and tidying things up a little bit. Thanks Key!


Gratuitous self-promotion

Key and John have been conspiring to advertise ProgClub. The club has a few popular pages that are linked around the interwebs or rank highly in search results and we thought we'd capitalise on this by placing some ads for the club on the top of such pages as you can see here, here and here.

Who knows if such an advertising strategy will actually work to attract new members... I guess we'll see.


Announcing Jsrun

Shawn Van Ness and John Elliot finally conspired to release Shawn's JScript.NET utility software as the Jsrun project at ProgClub. Jsrun is a script runner and set of associated scripts for doing various useful things such as generating GUIDs, pretty printing XML, converting file formats and encodings, etc.


1 year anniversary party

The ProgClub 1 year anniversary party was on Friday the 10th at the Exo. Thanks to 004, SanguineV, Tasaio and John for attending!


New member

Welcome to Rey!


Comms bonus change of terms and winners for first half 2012

The Comms Bonus has changed from a shared pool of $1,000 to a prize of $200 per member.

The winners of the Comms Bonus for the first have of 2012 are SanguineV for his work on pcad and Adriano for his work on pcphpjs and his wiki contributions. Well done guys, and thanks for your contributions so far this year.

Spam issues resolved

While John was away over May and June the wiki and blog were defaced by spammers. John has got rid of most of the spam now and the wiki has been changed to no longer allow anonymous edits.


New member

ProgClub welcomes Lulu.


jsphp.co developments

There is now a demo and a FAQ at jsphp.co. Also a Wikipedia article on the jsPHP library.


New member

ProgClub welcomes Dachoi.

SanguineV working on pcad

Thomas has made another check-in for the pcad software. According to his commit message: Server is now multi-threaded/forking. Should handle load a lot better and tidy up properly.

Thanks Thomas, very cool!


Adriano working on pcphpjs

Adriano has been working on pcphpjs and disabled anonymous comments in addition to clearing out the recent spam on the jsphp.co website. Thanks Adriano!

Updated navigation menus

The main navigation on the ProgClub wiki and blog has been given a minor overhaul and now it should be a little more useful and intuitive than it used to be.


Announcing the ProgClub Comms Bonus scheme and last year's winners

The ProgClub Comms Bonus scheme has been instituted wherein biannually selected members are awarded at least AU$200 off their communications bills.

The ProgClub Comms Bonus recipients for the period July to December 2011 are:

Congratulations Tasaio and Key!


jj5-bin added as standard to all user accounts

I have a project, jj5-bin, to create a whole heap of standard utility scripts to do bits and pieces. The scripts live in /home/jj5/bin. Until recently this was a ProgClub project, but for security reasons, given that this software is now automatically updated on my jj5.net and Blackbrick servers in addition to the ProgClub servers, I have moved the project into my private repository (it still has public read access) at:

So now there's a process for managing the contents of my /home/jj5/bin directory on all of the jj5.net/Blackbrick/ProgClub (and potentially other) servers that I use.

Particularly, as part of the jj5-bin project, there are .profile and .bashrc extensions for making aliases and functions available in a typical login environment, and also to script all sessions by default.

Session scripting means that all input and output to your login session (except passwords and other secrets) is automatically logged to a file for each login session. I find this really handy for: a) remembering what I did, and, b) referencing for documentation purposes. There are a few standard utilities that I've included for session management, and these are:

  • note: type 'note' followed by a note for your session that you might like to be able to search for in the future. For example, if you're configuring your server with subversion, then maybe type a note like 'note installing subversion' so that later you can search for sessions where you installed subversion.
  • session-search: you can search your session notes using session-search. For example, to search for your subversion installation session: 'session-search subversion'.

There are a few other session management facilities, but they're not all complete yet, so I'll document them later. Basically the documentation for jj5-bin hasn't been done yet, I'm still working on all that.

Anyway, I thought it was important for everyone to hear about this new project, because it has been configured as standard for everyone's account. That means that your ProgClub logins (and Blackbrick logins if you have them) now have the jj5-bin features, including the session logging.

If you're a ProgClub administrator the policy is that you have to run with session logging whenever you're administering ProgClub systems. Other users don't have to run with session logging if they don't want it, and the easiest way to disable session logging for your current session (and any other sessions where you're logged in on the same box) is to type:

pkill script

If you do that session logging will be disabled for the rest of your login session, for all current login sessions.

If you're a ProgClub administrator: you can use pkill script in your own session if you don't want to leave a record of what you're doing, but never run pkill script as root, and if you're logged in as root or using sudo commands then you should leave session logging enabled. Also, if you're doing sysadmin on ProgClub boxes, then you should use the 'note' facility to make notes about what you are/were working on.

By default session logs are private for each user, so the only people who can access your session logs are yourself and ProgClub administrators. You can get a list of the current ProgClub administrators on the Members page of the ProgClub wiki. As a general rule it is OK for ProgClub administrators to snoop around in session logs to see what's been going on (especially in other ProgClub administrator's session logs), but it's still not OK for ProgClub administrators to read users' email or private MySQL databases.

Since all Blackbrick staff also happen to be on this list too, I'll just mention briefly that I'm in the process of applying the same standard as above to all Blackbrick servers, and for Blackbrick servers (which are for work, not for play) all users are required to use the session logging facility. This is not technically enforced at the moment (though in the future it may be), but the policy says to leave session logging enabled, so you should. If you have something to do that you need or want privacy for then use a ProgClub server and cancel session logging with pkill script.

If you don't like the sound of any of this (i.e. having jj5-bin utilities automatically added to your environment and logging your session activity) then you can edit your .bashrc and .profile and remove the last line of each, but if you're a ProgClub administrator don't do this, ProgClub administrators will have to stick to pkill script for the time being if they want privacy (and they shouldn't claim privacy while doing sysadmin work for ProgClub).

So, that's about that.

Your session logs are kept in your home directory in the .session directory. You can chmod 755 your .session directory if you'd like to share your session logs with other (non-administrator) users. ProgClub administrators shouldn't share their session logs with non-administrator users, because the content of their session may include personal data about members or things that should otherwise generally not be disclosed (e.g. you do something silly like cat or hex dump a .rnd or private key file and reports its contents in your session).

The jj5-bin config, scripts and binaries are all kept in /home/jj5/bin and you'll find all sorts of stuff in there if you go looking, so do feel free to have a poke around. A lot of the jj5-bin stuff is for jj5.net and Blackbrick environments, so not useful to ProgClubians (except if you're looking at how to do something particular which you might find an example of), but as time goes by there will be more and more facilities in there, and hopefully a few of them will be useful for everyone.

I guess the last thing I will mention is that as a bonus the jj5-bin session login facility prints out some useful information at the start of every session, including when members were last seen logged into that box and who is currently logged in. If you have any suggestions for other useful stuff that could be included just let me know.

Oh, and on that last point, if there's something about this standard environment that bothers you, or that you think should be changed or is missing, then let me know and I'll look into fixing things up for you. Either by re-writing the functionality for everyone, or by special-casing considerations for your user/machine context, as may be appropriate.


New member

ProgClub welcomes GlennWilliamson.


New members

ProgClub welcomes Bri and Adriano.


Policy updates

The constitution has been renamed as the club's charter to avoid potential confusion given that our new company ProgClub Pty Ltd also has a constitution. Also John has nominated a successor for the position of Benevolent Dictator being SanguineV.


Happy 6 months!

Today ProgClub is 6 months old. Happy birthday ProgClub! Over the past 6 months ProgClub has completely established its online services, made three computer systems available for members' use and had 19 members join. We've had a Christmas party, 197 blog articles, 436 mailing list posts to our primary email list, 111 pages on the wiki, four people with MemberNet pages, a number of members getting involved in club programming activities such as pcmnet and pcad and we've formalised our club under the governance of a company: ProgClub Pty Ltd. The progclub.org web-site has seen 4,978 unique visitors, 11,318 visits, 124,052 page impressions and 174,807 hits. It's been a productive 6 months!

To recap, that's:

  • 174,807 hits
  • 124,052 page impressions
  • 11,318 visits
  • 4,978 unique visitors
  • 1,234 commits
  • 436 mailing list posts
  • 197 blog articles
  • 111 wiki articles
  • 28 projects
  • 19 members
  • 6 months
  • 4 MemberNet pages
  • 4 sys admins
  • 3 programmers
  • 3 servers
  • 2 MobileNet pages
  • 1 Christmas party
  • 1 company
  • 1 sponsor
  • 1 club. The club. ProgClub.


Announcing ProgClub Pty Ltd

Rather than being a wishy-washy club with no clear legal entity or owner ProgClub is now operated by ProgClub Pty Ltd. ProgClub Pty Ltd is an Australian company that receives sponsorship money from Blackbrick (and in the future potentially other sponsors) for the purposes of operating the club. Blackbrick and ProgClub Pty Ltd are in the process of negotiating the sponsorship terms and this will entail formal transfer of ProgClub assets to ProgClub Pty Ltd who will own them and operate them for the benefit of the club. The details of this formalisation will be made available when the sponsorship agreement is finalised. ProgClub Pty Ltd is owned by John Elliot and John Elliot is the sole Director, Secretary and Public Officer of ProgClub Pty Ltd. Basically John's new company has been set up to operate ProgClub. The company was registered with ASIC on the 19th January 2012.


Server upgrades

Both of the user machines hope and charity have been upgraded from 256MB slices to 1024MB slices. MemberNet should be a little snappier now.


Pcad progress

Thomas has contributed a first cut OCaml version of the pcad system. Check out the code.


Happy New Year!

Happy New Year everyone! Hope you all had a great holiday, and here's to an awesome and prosperous 2012!