geek internet opensource privacy society tips

why join mastodon

Mastodon, the federated social messaging platform so many people migrated to when things started to go sour on Twitter. If you haven’t joined yet, or you’re thinking about going to Bluesky, why should you join this Mastodon thing instead? You have to choose a server and all, sounds pretty complex right?

Well, it isn’t really. Here are some reasons why you should join over 11 million people (May 2023):

  • It’s here to stay. In fact, it has been here for a long time already, and it keeps going. It’s based on Open Source projects, and on the open protocol called ActivePub, and is spread over multiple servers. It can’t be taken down.
  • No ads. Seriously. NO ADS.
  • Picking a server doesn’t really matter. You can always move servers later on, and you can follow anyone from any server anyway. Just don’t pick a tiny one with only 10 people on it, unless they are your friends, and they own the server oslt.
  • You’ll be escaping the clutches of Musk, The Zuck and Jack.
  • Your feed is yours. No algorithm messing with what posts you see. It’s just who you’re following, in chronological order. Yes, that one guy really is posting a lot.
  • It has lists, bookmarks, favs, boosts, polls, video, images, all the stuff you know from the birdsite and more.
  • There’s more to it than Mastodon. Mastodon is part of the so-called Fediverse, and there are different types of servers out there that all speak ActivePub to each other. Some are specialized in video, others image sharing etc. But that’s all rather technical, and you shouldn’t worry about that to begin with. Just hop on, and check it out.
  • It has a lot of accessibility features. People tend to add alt text to images.
  • ​You will learn about the legendary John Mastodon.
  • It’s fun, like in the early days of Twitter.
  • There are a bunch of different apps for all platforms to choose from. So if you don’t like the stock one, or you miss a feature, just look for something else. I’m sure you’ll find something you like. On Android, I like Tusky.
  • You can post up to 500 characters by default. Even more on some specific servers.
  • If you don’t like how things work on your server, you can pack up your followers and move to another server. Something you couldn’t do on Twitter, unfortunately.
  • You don’t want to be part of yet another billionaire’s idea of a social network, who ends up selling out anyway.
  • You don’t want the next social network you join to be acquired by yet another billionaire and his crazy idea of how a social network should work. They aren’t even that social to begin with.
  • No ads, no tracking user data. OMG, can you believe it?
  • There are tons of cat pictures and the tag #caturday is booming in the weekend.
  • If you want to geek out, you can run your own server, or pay a hoster to host your own instance. Set up a small server for your friends, your company, your community, or just for yourself.
  • Porn is OK on most servers, as long as you hide it between an #NSFW content warning.
  • People will actually engage with your posts. Well, not always, but more than on that other site anyway.
  • You can join a server hosted in your own region. That way you keep your data out of US hands, and you can speak your own language with the locals. Spanish, Dutch, Chinese, Japanese, the list goes on.
  • It’ll make you feel like a rebel, an anti-capitalist, giving big tech the finger. Yes, it’s that awesome.
  • More geek stuff: it has RSS feeds baked in for every user account and tags. Just add .rss at the end of the URL. Go nuts!
  • It has an API to write all the bots you want, for free. No paying for API access.
  • The website comes with a tweetdeck-like interface out of the box (see advanced mode in the settings).
  • It has advanced blocking features, muted words, hiding your social graph, the lot. Great for minorities.
  • You can import/export pretty much all your data.
  • Custom emoji per server. Want something special? Ask your admin!
  • No real name policy.
  • Piss off Elon by setting your Mastodon handle as your Twitter username.
  • Have fun, don’t take it all too serious. Follow lots of people, see your feed come to life.

Ready to join me?

geek internet mystuff n3wjack opensource programming software tips tools

an open source web crawler

Being a web developer, it’s often handy to crawl one of your sites and see if any links are broken, or are given plain 500 errors because something is broken.

A classic tool to do this with, is Xenu’s Link Sleuth. That tool is old though, no longer updated and it’s a pure GUI tool. Since I couldn’t find what I wanted as a ready to use command line tool, I got down and wrote my own. It took a while, but recently it became functional enough to be released as a v1 and open it up to the world as an open source tool.

So by this I present *drumroll*, the Sitecrawler command line based site crawler (yeah, I know, naming is hard).

What can it do?

  • Crawl a site by following all links in a page. It only crawls internal links and HTML content.
  • Crawls links only once. No crawling loops please.
  • Possibility to export the crawled links to a CSV file, containing the referrer links (handy for tracking 404’s).
  • Limit crawl time to a fixed number of minutes for large sites.
  • Set the number of parallel jobs to use for crawling.
  • Add a delay to throttle requests on slow sites, or sites with rate limits.

It’s written in .NET 6, so it runs on Windows, Mac and Linux. Check it out on GitHub for more details and downloads. It’s proven useful for me already, so I hope it does the same for you.

fun geek opensource programming software tips tools

pimp your powershell with some ascii art

ASCII art in a PowerShell console window.

Wouldn’t you like to be greeted with some random ASCII art when you open up a new PowerShell command window? I thought so!

Here’s a project just for you. Download the ASCII Art Message of the Day project, link the script in your PowerShell profile and bam!, random ASCII art awesomeness every time you open a shell.

Follow the installation instructions from the readme f ile, and you are set. You can even customize what color you want to use. I know, it’s fantastic.
The random ASCII art comes from, so check it out if you want to have an idea of what you’ll be getting.

geek mystuff n3wjack opensource software tools

inbox clean up tool update

A while ago, I wrote a command line tool to clean up any IMAP inbox, and delete the oldest emails if the inbox gets over a certain amount of mails.
This is handy and has been doing its thing for a long time, but recently I wanted to extend that, and also delete emails in a specific timeframe. Let’s say between 23h and 6h of each day.

Say hello to v2.0 of the IMAP Cleanup tool, which now has a slightly modified command line, where you can specify if you want to delete using the count, or if you want to use time as the criteria.

It looks like this if you want ot use count (without the login credentials):

.\ImapCleanup.exe count --keep 500

or to use time:

.\ImapCleanup.exe time --from 23:00 --to 6:00

It’s pretty fast in doing its job, so you can run it a number of times sequentially for more specific cleanup jobs.

You can find all the details on how to set it up and use it on the Github page.

geek mystuff n3wjack opensource software tools

automatically delete emails with IMAP Cleanup

Let’s say you have this IOT device like a motion detection camera. Which sends you emails. Emails you keep in a separate IMAP mailbox. Lots of emails. So you want to delete those emails in some automated fashion, because doing that daily is oh so boring (remember, lots of emails).

Wouldn’t it be great if there was like some handy command line tool that would delete the oldest emails and keep like a 1.000 or 500 of them only? Well yes, that way I could script that annoying job and run it daily.

I didn’t find something that already did this. So I figured I’d be able to whip something up in an hour or so using PowerShell, or maybe a small .NET console application using an existing IMAP library.

Well, 3 different IMAP libraries and about 4 hours later I did have something rudimentary that finally did what it was supposed to do. Delete the oldest email, and leave the most recent 1000 (or whatever number you want) behind. That took longer than expected, so to regain as much time spent on this as possible I threw the ImapCleanup tool on GitHub, including binary downloads. I hope someone else will find this useful as well.

Beware though. This tool deletes emails. Be careful which mailbox you point this at, and make sure you test it in advance on a dummy mailbox. Maybe your email server behaves differently than mine, and important emails get digitally shredded by mistake.