Stuff I'm Up To

Technical Ramblings

VSCode rest-client — July 15, 2019

VSCode rest-client

Now Postman is awesome, but I came across this really good rest-client plugin for VSCode.

What makes it so good is that I can save the .rest or .http files all in one place with my VSCode project and have them form part of my Git version tracking.

So when someone pulls my code they also get the sample REST commands.

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Adding a Gnome Favourite —

Adding a Gnome Favourite

I was trying to add the Postman app to my Gnome favourite bar, but right clicking it doesn’t give me the option to add it as a favourite.

Apparently if your application is not seen as an Activity then it can’t be added. Usually I’d just create a .desktop file and use that with a launcher. But Gnome doesn’t really work like that.

I found the answer was to create my .desktop file and then copy/move it to /usr/share/applications or if it is a user specific application ~/.local/share/applications.

$ gnome-desktop-item-edit ~/Desktop/ --create-new
$ sudo mv ~/Desktop/Postman.desktop /usr/share/application 

Then I can use the “Activities” to search for the app and can now add it as a favourite.

[unixODBC][Driver Manager]Can’t open lib : file not found — July 12, 2019

[unixODBC][Driver Manager]Can’t open lib : file not found

I have no idea how we came up against this issue on one of the development images. I’d prepared it all up to the point of delivering php. After following my instructions to install the MS SQL drivers everything looked to go well, but when serving up our Laravel project in artisan PHP came up with this error message.

[unixODBC][Driver Manager]Can’t open lib ‘/opt/microsoft/msodbcsql17/lib64/’ : file not found

Now we have seen this before and it related to locale’s so we tried that fix and still didn’t get it to work.

Trawling the internet I came across something pointed us to use ldd to look at the .so file and check out it’s dependencies.

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Wired 802.1X on Linux — July 10, 2019

Wired 802.1X on Linux

For a while I’ve been meaning to fix my workstation. When it comes to remote accessing it from home I find I can’t because I’ve followed the green guidance and turned it off when I went home. Even if I get someone to turn it on for me I still can’t get to it.

This is because in the office we use RADIUS for network authentication, even on wired connections. What happens is that my network interfaces don’t go online until my desktop session has logged in and then authenticates with the RADIUS server using 802.1X.

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PHP 7.1 and MSSQL Compile Issue — July 8, 2019
I Want to Kill the Proxy — July 3, 2019

I Want to Kill the Proxy

Working behind a non-transparent corporate proxy and firewall is enough to make you psychotic! You’ll find enough posts on here about setting up environment variables and handling proxies, but there’s always room for one more.

When you’re working on a portable device, like a laptop, that you then remote into the office over a VPN you need to be flexible and turn on and off the proxy at will. This lead me to chain together a number of my proxy related articles into the way I currently handle the proxy on the move.

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Headless Development Server — July 2, 2019

Headless Development Server

After building a development environment in Linux as per a previous article – I decided I wanted something a bit more portable in terms of development tools.

I could go install VSCode/Atom etc. onto the local OS and point at a shared folder on the dev machine to edit files. But the problem with that is running terminals from VSCode/Atom and trying to have the IDE handle filesystem changes on the remote host without breaking my Git commits and causing mayhem.

Q. What tools do I have in my toolbox that will make me best able to handle remote development without resorting to VNC?

A. SmarTTY and a Linux X Windows server should do nicely.

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Laravel Caching Indefinitely — June 28, 2019

Laravel Caching Indefinitely

I recently attended the Laravel UK conference and learned a lot of very useful things. One of them related to a caching methodology being used for data that rarely changes.

Up until now I’d been taking best guesses to how long to cache data for on a case by case basis. In one particular example I reckoned 8 hours was about right as the data only really changed once every 3 months or less.

This still caught me out as on the day the user did change the underlying data the api call was still responding with cached data and would do so until the 8 hours expired. The user experience then meant they’d need to wait until tomorrow before others would see they’d made a change.

This wasn’t ideal. So how do we best satisfy the users with up to date data?

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Laravel Native Events — June 11, 2019
VCSA root Locked Out! — June 7, 2019

VCSA root Locked Out!

This gave me cause for tears today. The VCSA (vCenter Server Appliance) management Web UI (https://vcsa:5480) decided not to let me in as root. I’m guessing I spannered the password a few too many times.

It’s a very good job that at some point in the past I put my public key onto the system so I could use my plain old no password required private key to logon to the system using ssh!

SSH Logon with Private Key

Now I’m logged onto the console how do I go about getting access back to the Web UI? I discovered that the VCSA system uses pam_tally2 to lockout sessions. What I needed to do was reset the root account:

# pam_tally2 --user=root
 Login           Failures Latest failure     From
 root               10    06/07/19 14:12:11  unknown
# pam_tally2 --user=root --reset
 Login           Failures Latest failure     From
 root               10    06/07/19 14:12:11  unknown
# pam_tally2 --user=root
 Login           Failures Latest failure     From

Now I can logon to the Web UI!

The lesson to learn here is to install your public key onto your precious Linux boxes!

Windows, Apache 2.4 and OpenSSL (Revisited) —
VS Code Extensions — May 31, 2019

VS Code Extensions

I’m an Atom fan and have used it on Linux for ages. I probably still will, but our other developers tend to use VS Code because of their use of MS Windows. I thought I’d revisit VS Code and see if I can use it effectively like Atom.

First thing I needed to make sure of was that some of the Atom features I use are available in VS Code. Standard stuff like dark colour theme, ESLint, syntax highlighting, auto-completions and Emmet.

One pleasant surprise was that VS Code has Emmet built right in! The usage is a little different, keyboard shortcuts etc. but it’s native to VS Code so that’s pretty good.

Other Extensions that I’ve added to support the languages I use are:

Vetur –

ESLint –

Toggle Excluded Files –

Bracket Pair Colorizer –

phpcs – requires PHP CodeSniffer

PHP DocBlocker –

FiraCode font