Skip to main content

Jeremy Cherfas

Troubleshooting blues

1 min read

It can be so hard to debug IndieWeb problems when they arise in Known. For now, this should be a webmention of the linked post, because Chris Aldrich reported a problem. But even if this works, I may need to go outside this installation to test properly. Or, perhaps, try webmention.rocks.

Jeremy Cherfas

One step closer to PESOS from Instagram

1 min read

I had been barking up the wrong tree, trying to address `photo/edit` in order to create a photo post in WithKnown. Going through my old notes, I figured out how to do it through `micropub/endpoint` instead, which makes a whole lot more sense. Probably I should have started there.

Anyway, I know have the bare bones of being able to post automatically to WithKnown from the RSS feed of my Instagram account. Now I "just" need to build out all the rest; read the RSS feed, extract the relevant bits of data, construct the API request and bung it off.

Which will probably take forever, but hey.

Jeremy Cherfas

PESOS from Instagram?

1 min read

At last night's online HWC we talked a bit about getting pictures in and out of Instagram, now that they have become so much stricter about the API. Getting images into Instagram except through approved apps seems to be getting harder and harder, and is probably impossible by now. Getting images out of Instagram is also not obviously easy. But ...

A new (to me) thing, called Bibliogram, can, under the right conditions, create an RSS or Atom feed from one's profile. I poked around, and the feed contains a link to the image, caption and  date and time. The link to the image works. So maybe ...

I could send the feed to IFTTT or Zapier or similar, and have that create a post via Micropub to my instance of WithKnown. Or even, if I ever get it working, to my main site, which uses Grav.

But I can't even try for a couple of days.

Jeremy Cherfas

An ad-hoc meeting of the WithKnown Open Collective

5 min read

The past 24 hours saw perhaps more activity in the IRC channel (yesterday and today) and than I have ever seen before. Near the end of it all, jgmac1106, having previously voluntold me to be the first rotating organiser, voluntold me to “call all of today a meeting of the Open Collective”. Obviously you can’t have a meeting without minutes,[1] so here they are.

It all started with jgmac1106’s heartfelt plea that he just wanted to publish his site, “not learn backend engineering” and contemplating starting afresh. LewisCowles raised the question of how to reward Open Source software developers and maintainers, and that started a discussion of what it would take to put Known on a commercial footing.

Jgmac1106 was of the opinion that easier install with auto-update was needed. Lewiscowles and jeremycherfas thought that better direction of the project was needed, with a model that offered installation, domain management and updates, for a fee.

“Make it Known would be such a great tagline if we could get Sir Patrick Stewart on board.” Lewiscowles

There followed further discussion of operational models, including micro.blog; pay for hosting, including updates, and some backfeed, with a free offering open to IndieWeb if you have a capable site elsewhere.

On funding, jeremycherfas related his early experience hosting through IndieHosters and jgmac1106 talked about applying for grants to fund specific pieces of Known development. We played around with numbers, concluding that nobody knew enough to build even an outline business plan. There did seem to be agreement that venture capital should be rejected from the outset, while collectives and cooperatives could provide a more desirable structure, and that any kind of structure needs direction.

After a gap, some other people joined the channel and mapkyca explained that right now, a bigger block than money was time as he is working flat out. He also said that the maths does not work out for SaaS.

Benatwork then rejoined the meeting and explained in some depth the history of Known, including funding decisions and his original vision.

The original intention was to build a community platform that could be hosted securely, with discussion not monitored by the likes of a Facebook. … [I]t was never built to be an indieweb platform or an individual blogging engine from the start. The core idea was: flexible, social feeds that one or more people could contribute to, with per-item access control and integrations both in and out. I still believe that it has most value as a multi-user platform.

Major problem: we gave our entire platform away as open source, and it turns out there was a strong correlation between people who wanted to use it and people who didn’t want to pay. Although they were happy to pay for an account on a shared host, which of course didn’t go to us. So it didn’t really work as a scalable business.

Benatwork then filled us in on recent developments and why his direct involvement has dwindled, all of which is very understandable, closing with his belief that SaaS is not the way forward.

Jgmac1106 then voluntold jeremycherfas to take the lead on setting up monthly meetings for the next three months, as the first rotating organiser.[2] He also shared his idea of having something like Known to offer local media as something they can sell to subscribers as a built in social platform.

In response to a question from Aaron_Klemm, Benatwork shared the Known roadmap on github. He also explained some of the past technical decisions and that maybe some of those should be revisited to improve the product as a whole.

People shared their different ideas of what Known could become for them, with the question of the current admin tax prominent. Cleverdevil said he would be happy to pay mapkyca to update his site, raising again the potential demand for SaaS.

Benatwork’s vision is Known not as a blog CMS exclusively, but rather:

What Known can do is create a stream of many different kinds of content, and present it differently based on context. Filtering is a similarly powerful idea. “Show me all posts that are sensor readings and photos tagged with bats, from January 1st.”

There was some discussion of other aspects of Known that need attention, including the templating engine, which mapkyca said he hopes to separate completely from the back end.

Chrisaldrich raised the possibility of working with Reclaim Hosting to devise a package similar to what Reclaim offers universities, i.e. Reclaim does the heavy lifting for turnkey Known installs while allowing a small group of others to support people who signed up. Aaron_Klemm supported this idea strongly.

There was a lot more discussion of various ways in which Known could contribute to community internet literacy and how it might be used alongside other web publishing tools.

This summary is an entirely personal capture of the discussion; corrections and comments welcome. (You know how to do that, right?) I’ll suggest some times for an online meeting through the channel.


  1. Though apparently you can have one without an agenda.  ↩

  2. Which I will do, bearing in mind that, with exceptions, I am really only available Monday to Friday from 08:00 to 19:00 CEST.  ↩

Jeremy Cherfas

2019-02-12

1 min read

“Amazingly, the link still works” 

Two amazing things

1) In a piece looking back over 1000 of his linkblog posts, Charles Arthur finds it remarkable that a link from 2010 still works.

2) The piece seems to be on Medium and nowhere else.

I reckon the two observatiuons are linked (haha). Which makes me wonder whether to even share this link. Will it still work in 2028? Or would Charles be better of owning his stuff somewhere else?

Jeremy Cherfas

A little problem with Known's Micropub endpoint

3 min read

One of the developers of Sunlit, a photo-sharing app that is part of the Micro.blog ecosystem, contacted me to say that “the images on your site have a MIME type of application/data”. I’d like to say I understood immediately what the problem was and what it meant, but I had to do some learning first. It wasn’t as simple as the extension, the bit after the filename that indicates whether it is a JPEG or PNG kind of image. Rather, it was about what my server tells your browser about the image.

To backtrack, Known stores all files as blobs that contain the actual file data, the 1s and 0s. Your browser, when it receives a post from my server, can often sniff out what kind of thing (image, audio, text etc) that blob of data represents and do a good job of showing it to you. Normally, you wouldn’t even notice. One clue is that if you right-click on an image, and ask to open it in a new tab, it actually gets downloaded instead, I suppose because the new tab doesn’t know what else to do with it.

Anyway, I confirmed that the source file for most images did not have an extension (which would have told the browser directly how to deal with it). Most, but not all. Files I had uploaded to my site directly did have an extension and the correct MIME type. The “bad” files had come from OwnYourGram or Quill, both of which are part of the joyful . They use a standard called Micropub to send things to a suitably equipped website.

It seemed unlikely that both Quill and OYG would fail to send the requisite information to identify a photo, so I went digging into the code that Known uses to decide what to do with a post sent by Micropub. I made a bit of progress but although I could see more or less what was happening, I couldn’t see how to make it right.

Fortunately Aaron Parecki, who built Quill and OwnYourGram (and so much else), was around and gave me the clue I needed to investigate: curl -I example.com/file.

One beautiful feature of Quill is that if it is sending a photo and if the receiving site has a media endpoint for receiving files (which Known does) it uploads the file, shows you a preview and tells you the location of the file. With that, the curl command shows that the temporary file has the correct description of Content-Type: image/jpeg. Once Known has processed the whole post from Quill, though, the file that contains the image shows as Content-Type: application/data.

Somewhere between receiving the temporary file from Quill and storing it permanently, Known fails to give it the proper MIME type.

I wish I knew enough to discover where the problem lies. Most likely Marcus Povey – who keeps the wheels spinning at Known – will be able to do the needful, now that I have submitted an issue. And Sunlit will be able to share my photos far and wide.

Jeremy Cherfas

2018-05-27

1 min read

@phoneboy kindly shared a screenshot of the "webmention" spam he said he had received.

As I suspected, it looks to me like common or garden spam, hence the scare quotes. Of course, I can't be absolutely certain without digging further into the actual URLs, which I'm not about to do, but everything about these comments screams pingbacks or trackbacks. And the solution is obviously Akismet which, to be honest, I am suprised Phoneboy has not already installed and activated.

The day may come when webmention spam is a thing, and people have been thinking about a protocol called Vouch for that eventuality.

Jeremy Cherfas

2018-05-21

1 min read

A couple of days ago, @phoneboy mentioned the fun he had deleting the spam webmentions he had received on WordPress.

I asked him to document them.

Now Phoneboy replies:

Once I figure out the right settings, I’ll let you know.

And I’m not sure what that means. What right settings? Doesn’t WordPress keep a copy of all comments it receives? It would be really useful to see the contents of those “spam webmentions,” where they came from, what they contained, who sent them, simply because, as I said before, so few of these imagined evils have so far been spotted in the open. Not sure what settings that requires.

Also, the irony of this question has not escaped me:

Also, where did you post this comment? Didn’t see it in micro.blog.

I posted it here. Where else would I post it?

Jeremy Cherfas

2018-05-17-02

1 min read

If you're looking for a really good introduction to the and insights into how it all works, you could do a lot worse than listen to Jeena's podcast with Martijn. They do a tip-top job of explaining for people less knowledgeable than they are, and the audio quality is very acceptable.

Jeremy Cherfas

2018-05-07

1 min read

I think I just need to remind myself and others of the natural progresion of things.

  1. Everything not forbidden is permitted.
  2. Everything not permitted is forbidden.
  3. Everything not forbidden is compulsory

That is all.