Marty McGuire

Archive for June 2024

Fri Jun 28
πŸ” Reposted https://catvalente.substack.com/p/what-we-talk-about-when-we-talk-about
Mon Jun 24

Had a (fireball) blast running Joel and Andy of the Silver Linings Playback Podcast through some loosey goosey Dungeons & Dragons as we discussed the loosey goosey 2000 film adaptation Dungeons & Dragons.

https://www.hobotrashcan.com/2024/06/24/silver-linings-playback-213-dungeons-dragons-ft-marty-mcguire/

πŸ”– Bookmarked https://fission.codes/blog/farewell-from-fission/
Sun Jun 23

πŸ•ΈοΈπŸ‘‰πŸ‘ˆπŸ’ Ordering an IndieWeb webring

Are you a member of the πŸ•ΈοΈπŸ’ IndieWeb Webring? Perhaps one of many who noticed that the "previous" and "next" links were actually going to random active member sites in the ring?

I'm pleased to announce that the "next" and "previous" links between webring member sites should now be, more or less, deterministic! For example, if you visit gRegor's site, scroll to the webring links at the bottom, and click "next", you'll be taken to a site like mine! (at this moment, it is mine!) From my site, if you click the "previous" link, you'll be taken back to gRegor's site! This should m-

Wait, did you say "more or less"?

Well, uh, yeah, good spot. At a high level, the update works like this:

Each active member site gets a pseudo-random "sorting" number. For a given site, the "next" site is the one with the next highest sorting order, and the "previous" is the one with the next lowest.

When you click on a "next" or "previous" webring link from a member site, your browser tells* the webring where you're coming from with a "referrer" header. If the webring recognizes the referer as an active member site, it'll look up the next - or previous - site in the ring to redirect you.

Woah, woah, I see that asterisk

Way to stay sharp! Referrer headers can leak potentially sensitive information, so over time browsers have added ways to restrict how and when referrer headers are sent between sites.

Most of the time, the webring will only see the referring URL up to the first slash after the domain. For folks whose site on the webring has a path component, the webring won't be able to match it against most referrers.

It's also possible that your site is configured to not send referrer headers at all - in that case, the webring has nothing to go on to figure out that the visitor came from your site.

If the webring can't figure out where a visitor came from, they'll just get directed to a random active site.

That feels kinda broken if you ask me

Well, it's no worse than before!

Isn't there a way to improve it?

There is! Or... was. The first version of the webring included unique identifiers in the webring "next" and "previous" links for each member site. These unique IDs would have made it straightforward to figure out where a visitor is coming from.

Oh, don't tell me-

Yeah, I removed that feature last year. πŸ˜…

The emoji-based IDs were hard to manage, added messy unintended meaning, and made it easy to mess up the webring links (or spoof someone else's) when copy-pasting!

You're going to link us to some code, aren't you?

You bet! You can find today's updates to the code here on my git hosting.

Thanks, I guess. So, what's next?

I'm not sure! I feel like this update has the webring in a pretty good place. It's simple enough that I understand it and it works. I might look into some updates for the directory or the site layout, or help surface more information about member sites, like whether they advertise RSS feeds.

Okay that's it, for now! Thanks for reading, imaginary interlocutor! As always, feel free to reply to this post on your own site, or feel free to drop me a line in the #indieweb chat (I’m schmarty there)!

Fri Jun 21
πŸ” Reposted https://www.techdirt.com/2024/06/20/500000-books-have-been-deleted-from-the-internet-archives-lending-library/
Sat Jun 15

πŸ€–βœ€πŸŒΏ Gardening an IndieWeb webring

Are you a member of the πŸ•ΈοΈπŸ’ IndieWeb Webring? Perhaps one of many who have been confused to discover that member sites are not automatically removed when the webring links disappear from their site?

I'm pleased to announce that the webring will now be self-gardening! Webring member sites th-

Hold on, links to what now?

That-... is actually a good question!

In order for webrings to work, member sites have to link to one another, usually through the webring itself.

When you sign in to the πŸ•ΈοΈπŸ’ IndieWeb Webring, you see this prompt on your dashboard page:

Screenshot of a warning "to stay active, make sure these links are visible on your site", followed by a text area with HTML links to copy and paste.

These links should be copied and pasted into your site so that they appear on the page that matches your webring sign-in. For example, I sign in with my homepage https://martymcgui.re/, so I put my links to the webring on my homepage. They look like this on my site, but you can style them up to look like anything you want.

"An IndieWeb Webring πŸ•ΈοΈπŸ’" text flanked by left and right unicode arrow links.

The basic deal for most webrings is that, in order to receive incoming traffic from other member sites, you need to also display links back to the webring so a visitor can continue on their journey browsing sites from the webring.

If that's the deal, then when a member site goes offline, or removes the webring links from their page, the webring should no longer direct visitors to that site.

The IndieWeb webring tracks whether a site is "Active" or ... "Not Active" (ahem, Inactive). Active sites can receive traffic from webring visitors and, if you choose, appear on the Directory page. Inactive sites... can't do those things.

As the owner of an webring member site, you can sign in to the webring and your Dashboard page will show your site's current "Active" / "Not Active" status and the results of the most recent attempts to check your site for webring links. If you've made changes to your site, there's a "Check links now!" button on the Dashboard to scan for them again.

Okay that's enough background, I think.

Right, thanks. But actually no, there is more.

Initially, Active status on the webring kiiiiind of worked like an honor system. The first time you successfully sign in, your site is added to the webring and set to Active. From that point on, there were only two ways for your site to get marked as Not Active:

  • If you clicked "Check links now!" while your site was offline or didn't have webring links on it.
  • OR if I ran a "gardener" script that checked the webring links for one or more sites.

Since the webring came online in, um, 2018, I've only received a handful of nudges from folks who have been willing to track me down to the IndieWeb chat and complain. That led me to think this honor system was "okay" or "at least not so bad that folks are willing to jump through hoops to bring it to my attention".

That's definitely enough background.

Agreed!

So what's new?

Well, the honor system days are over! Which should be good for all webring member sites, I think.

I've built a little automated gardener that will periodically check member sites for their links. It's designed in a way that trends towards polling member sites about once per month.

For a new member site, it basically works like this: about an hour after you sign up, your site will be checked for links. If they're there, the gardener will check again the next day. It will check again a few days later, then a week, then two weeks.

Finally, as long as the links are there at every check, the gardener will only check once per month.

What happens if the webring links disappear from my site?

If the gardener finds that an Active member site has gone offline or lost the webring links, the site is marked Not Active. It's checked again the next day, then a few days later, then a week and then two.

Finally, the Not Active site will be checked once per month for 3 months. If the site stays Not Active that whole time, the gardener will stop checking and the site owner will need to sign in to re-check links manually if they want the site to become Active again.

What happens if I put the webring links back on my site?

If the gardener finds that a Not Active member site has their webring links back, the site is marked as Active and the schedule resets. The gardener will then check it the next day, then three days later, then a week, then...

Okay, got it!

Woohoo!

Why now, though?

Oh dang, that's a good question.

I've found the energy and space to start working on the webring again, including some possible projects like those I listed in my last update. Before jumping into any of those, though, I want to feel like I can "trust" that the webring is taking care of itself and its visitors. That means not sending folks to sites where the owner changed their mind about being a webring member or, worse, lost sites, and keeping track of active sites on its own!

Can we see the code?

Sure! The bulk of the updates are here on my git hosting. As with most things webring there's a little bit that's well thought out and some attempts at rigor followed by a rush of throwing things together when it appears near working.

I'm open if folks have suggestio-

Wait, I didn't actually want to look at code!

I put some words in your mouth, there, yeah. Sorry. πŸ™ˆ

Okay! That's it for now. As always, feel free to reply to this post on your own site, or feel free to drop me a line in the #indieweb chat (I’m schmarty there).

Fri Jun 14

This is now the official song of #caturday:

https://imanicoppola.bandcamp.com/track/clap-your-hands

I will not be taking questions at this time.

Sun Jun 9

An absentee webring steward returns

Are you a member of the πŸ•ΈπŸ’ IndieWeb Webring? Everything is fine! We are up to around 450 active sites, with more than 250 of those appearing on the webring directory page!

Okay so what is this update?

Ha! Ha. Reader, you see right through me. Since the last IndieWeb Webring update, an afficionado of IndieWeb, webrings, and PHP who goes by Von Explaino (aka Colin) reached out about collaborating!

He posted about his own updates in Playing with IndieWeb ring's code, and I posted a follow-up with my interest, and he shared his fork of the codebase and posted some ideas for future work. Look at this lovely back and forth discussion between our IndieWeb-powered sites! You love to see it.

That all started in, =ahem=, JULY OF 2023. After a slow email exchange between a patient Colin and a very embarrassed and tired me promising to take a look any day now, I eventually apologized for not having the energy to work on the web ring at that time, and around September we stopped corresponding.

The update is that there's no update?

No! Well, sort of? This weekend I finally made time to reading through Colin's updates and additions, especially focused around the PHPUnit tests that he added for the basic database logic and site fetching and parsing and link-finding code.

The tl;dr is: I've incorporated most of Colin's updates, hooray!

I want to see!

Sure! You can find today's updates to the code here on my git hosting!

I don't want to look at code! Show me what changed for webring members!

Oh! Fair enough. None of today's updates affect how the webring looks or works at this time. It's more like setting up support infrastructure around the way the webring works now to make sure that nothing breaks unintentionally during future updates.

Does that mean changes are coming?

Most likely! But all good stuff, I think. At the top of my list are:

  • Automating the "gardener" that checks whether active member sites have lost (or inactive members have regained!) their webring links.
  • The directory page sure is getting unwieldy with so many profiles on there. It could use some improvements.
  • General design and navigation cleanups.
  • I've seen some interest in having the webring be a "true ring" - with deterministic next / previous links. I'm open to this but I want to keep it simple. (And I'll probably want to shake things up every once in a while!)
  • I've seen some interest in using the active member sites on the webring as a "Who to Follow" for folks who are setting up their feed readers. I don't have it in me to maintain a "planet" feed that contains posts from everybody, but I could probably add some feed discovery so you can see which sites have clearly labeled feeds and maybe let you export an OPML list.
  • Oh! And I keep wonderi-

Okay! Okay.

Right, haha. That's it, for now. As always, feel free to reply to this post on your own site, or feel free to drop me a line in the #indieweb chat (I’m schmarty there).