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Senior Web Engineer. Open web / music. Remote DJ. Tall Dutch guy. #3million


NPM global installation permission issues on macOS

I had trouble installing global npm packages, which failed due to permission errors. I don't want to use sudo as this will lead to problems later, and I don't want to set the global installation directory to a local directory, as that means other users don't have access to the packages.

As recommended by the NodeJS documentation this is best fixed by installing node via a version manager.

First, remove node which I incorrectly installed with homebrew:

brew uninstall node

Then install nvm as per the official instructions. In my case this also failed as this is a new system that doesn't have a .bash_profile yet. Hower as I wanted to install the zsh shell, I installed oh-my-zsh as per the instructions on their site.

Once zsh was installed (or you've created a .bash_profile using touch ~/.bash_profile, you can install node in a correct manner as follows:

nvm install node

Happy yak-shaving!




Carbon 0.3

It seems today is 0.3 day, as I'm also releasing Carbon 0.3, my hackable performant semi-static blogging system.

This release mainly deals with technical debt as I first started this project 6 years ago as a playground for figuring out how a CMS is written from the ground up. This means there are out of date requirements, references to a Windows platform with Powershell and other such bad examples.

That said the codebase isn't in a terrible state although it will have to change significantly before it's production ready. If you know a bit of PHP then after a short study it can be customised to your needs quite easily.

So, if you're interested you can use it and quickly whip together a documentation or simple blog using only markdown files. It will produce a feed and there's even a half baked cli application and static site generation that I have to review before I can recommend it in honest.

carbon 0.3 theme

Have fun hacking!


Fresh Cookies 0.3

I've released Fresh Cookies 0.3, my browser extension for limiting the lifetime of browser cookies to a maximum of 15 days.

It is now a web extension and can be manually installed in Firefox (it also works in Chrome). I'm looking for feedback before I'm ready to submit it any extension directories.


Hassle-free Python project setup

Today I managed to break pipenv again to a point where I cannot install any project requirements. Let's document the process to prevent this happening again in the future.

Python3.7 and pip are already installed on OpenSUSE Tumbleweed. If you're not so lucky, read the page on but stop at the bottom of the page, as I find the installation method used for pipenv there too brittle.

Instead we're going to install pipx which is best described as a per-command environment for python executables. This is great for packages like pipenv which can then run without conflicts. pipx also keeps the packages updated.

python3 -m pip install --user pipx
python3 -m pipx ensurepath

We can then use pipx to install pipenv:

pipx install pipenv

I prefer to keep the virtual environment within the project folder, by adding the following line to .bashrc or .zshrc:


With pipenv in place we can create a per-project virtual environment and activate it:

cd ~/dev/myproject
pipenv shell

We can install our packages into the environment now:

pipenv install pylint --dev
pipenv install black --dev --pre

The missing step in a lot of guides, is that you later might want to call your script from outwith your virtual environment, without explicitly activating it as you would do when working on the project itself. You can do that thusly:

$(pipenv --venv)/bin/python


On Settled Status

So ehm... when a person requires the NHS emergency services post Brexit, how do the staff know that a person is an EU citizen that might requires an online settled status check (which in turn requires a passport, identity card or biometric residency card) and not a UK citizen which doesn't need to (and can't) be checked? If we exclude all measures that are discriminatory?

So either all UK citizens also take their passport with them going forward as well; or this is going to end in discrimination for people  including, but not limited to, those with an accent, "look foreign", UK citizens that've lived or studied abroad (affecting their speech), people speaking another language, or any other identifying marks or clothing.

As not all UK citizens have passports however,  the NHS cannot use the Home Office provided website  to rule out they're an EU citizen. That's just as well as the website doesn't work for UK nationals, it would only tell them they don't have settled status.

As a result this makes the process essentially voluntary for people who self identify as an EU citizen and want to be discriminated against.

Hey where are you from? London. You don't sound British? I was born in England but studied in Amsterdam.

The process isn't fit for purpose.


My Let's Encrypt Setup

Scheduled Task (renewal)

$ sudo crontab -e

# Lets encrypt twice daily
0 7,19 * * * certbot -q renew


Script that reads le.txt and requests cert (updated list)

$ nano && chmod +x

DOMAINS=$(paste -s -d, le.txt | sed -e 's/,/ -d /g')
sudo letsencrypt certonly --webroot -w /var/www/html -d $DOMAINS
sudo service nginx restart


List of Domains (one per line, add to the end)

$ nano le.txt



PHPStorm font rendering on OpenSUSE

On Ubuntu LTS the font rendering on 2019.1 looked great by default, but on Tumbleweed I needed to tweak the settings a little to get the editor to look good. There is conflicting information out there for out of date versions of OpenSUSE and PHPStorm and it took a bit of research to figure out what works for me.

Under Help | Edit Custom VM Options... I added the following lines:


I also set antialiasing (within the main PHPStorm Settings | Appearance menu) to greyscale.

Finally, I added the Dreamweaver CC colour scheme to the editor by saving the xml file in ~/.PhpStorm2019.1/config/colors/.

Restart the application and select the color scheme from File | Settings | Editor | Color Scheme




WorkLog 2.2 is a very simple script that allows you to keep track of what you are working on by writing a timestamped message to a CSV file.
It turns out it helps me stay on track during a long day of work.

Version 2.2 has some new quality of life improvements:


* ctrl-d or enter to quit.
* works on python2 default systems.
* f-strings,
* code more elegant.
* day based csv files.


Fixing Virtualbox host network adapter cannot be created error

If when trying to start a vm, for example using vagrant, you get the error message that the host network adapter cannot be created (the error is cryptic but will contain hostonly, create, vboxmanage -- unfortunately I forgot to screenshot it), make sure to first start the virtualbox GUI application. It does some extra checks, and sometimes highlights the permission problem:

In my case (OpenSuse 15.1 Leap), my user was not added to the vboxusers group. Via Yast > Users and Security .... and editing my user account it was a simple checkbox away. Remember to relog.


WordPress Canonical URLs for Category/PostName Permalinks

When the permalink format is set to %category%/%postname%/ then a post is available under category/postname links for all categories, as well as under all parent/child/postname links.

If you use Yoast SEO and have set a primary category, that  becomes the canonical URL that's used for SEO. If you don't then the postname for whatever category has a lower ID (was created first) becomes the canonical URL.