Setting up a private Matrix server.

EDIT - 20200804 - Updated the Nginx stanzas because the newer versions of Certbot do all the work of setting up SSL/TLS support for you, including the most basic Nginx settings.  If you have them there you'll run into trouble unless you delete them or comment them out.  Also, Certbot centralizes all of the appropriate SSL configuration and hardening settings into a single includable file (/etc/letsencrypt/options-ssl-nginx.conf) for ease of maintenance.

A couple of years ago I spent some time trying to set up Matrix, a self-hosted instant messaging and chat system that works a little like Jabber, a …

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An annoying problem solved: Accessing JSON documents with an API.

I spend a lot of time digging around in other people's data.  If I'm not hunting for anything in particular then it's a bit of a crapshoot, to be honest, if only because you never know what you're in for.  You can pretty much take it to the bank that if you didn't assemble it yourself, you can't count on it being complete, well formed, or anything approximating the output of a human being (it usually came out of a database, but I think you see what I'm getting at).  Sometimes, if I'm really lucky I'll just get hold of …

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Build your own time server with a GPS receiver.

If you've had your ear to the ground lately, you might have heard that the NIST timekeeping radio station used by devices all over the world as a time reference for Coordinated Universal Time as well as some experiments in signal propagation and geophysical event notices might be on the chopping block in 2019, leaving the HF bands quieter and, let's face it, we can't have nice things.  Clocks that rely on this time source signal won't have any way to stay in sync and the inevitable drift due to the imperfections in everything will cause fractions of second to …

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Upgrading Ubuntu Server 14.04 to 16.04.

A couple of days ago I got it into my head to upgrade one of my Exocortex servers from Ubuntu Server 14.04 LTS to 16.04 LTS, the latest stable release. While Ubuntu long-term support releases are good for a couple of years (14.04 LTS would be supported until at least 2020) I had some concerns about the packages themselves being too stale to run the later releases of much of my software. To be more specific, I could continue to hope that the Ruby and Python interpreters I have installed could be upgraded as necessary but at …

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VMware Server, Firefox 3.6, and you.

Something that VMware quietly changed with the release of VMware Server v2.0 was that they deprecated the use of their stand-alone management console application - if you try to use it to connect to a v2.0 server it just won't work. What you need to do is plug the URL http://vmware-server-host:8222 or https://vmware-server-host:8333 into your web browser and log in with a user account that has admin privileges (which basically means that the account is part of the vmware group). If you're using Mozilla Firefox v3.5.x, the web interface will ask you to …

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