October 2021

31Oct21

Pupdate

It’s starting to get muddy out there, and I guess it won’t be long before they need coats on because of the cold.

Dart on Docker on Arm

Most of the stuff we build at The @ Company is written in Dart, and we want to enable people to run it on the platform of their choice, which might mean a Raspberry Pi or similar. To help make that happen we’ve been producing custom build images for Dart that support Armv7 and Arm64. But the long game was always to get Arm support into the official Dart image, and that’s now happened. The Google folk that maintain the image were really gracious and a pleasure to work with – it’s great to see them listening and supporting their community.

Certificates

If it’s not DNS, then chances are that it’s certificates.

The month kicked off with the expiration of the DST Root X3 CA, which was used to sign LetsEncrypt certificates back when their own ISRG Root CA hadn’t been accepted into people’s default trust lists. We naively thought that since we were working with a modern stack (and could see the ISRG cert in there) everything would be OK. But everything wasn’t OK. Dart was following the chain of trust to the expired DST cert and throwing errors, so we had to delete it from our cacerts file.

Scott Helme provides a good roundup of the issues in his Working around expired Root Certificates post, and there’s more on the Netflix Tech Blog about how this mess could be avoided next time if people sort out their TLS implementations.

There was a moment where I was pretty cross with the LetsEncrypt folk for what I saw as choosing unsafe defaults in order to throw a lifeline to old kit (mainly older Android handsets). But I realise they were caught in an impossible situation.

Right to repair

When I was a small boy on a family holiday I wanted to buy a torch with my pocket money. My mum cautioned me that I shouldn’t get it as ‘it’s disposable’ but I got it anyway as I didn’t understand what those words meant. Of course when the battery ran out (maybe a whole few hours later) I got a sorrowful lesson in what disposable meant, and I’ve always hated the notion. Why throw out a perfectly good case and lens and bulb just because a battery has expired? Indeed why even use batteries that can’t be recharged?

I think being able to repair stuff is a huge part of the shift to a more sustainable economy that’s needed to deal with climate change. That’s why people should have a right to repair, and also why it’s right to repair.

A few months back we got Max a new harness, which seemed really well made, apart from the plastic clip that holds it together. It was obvious at first glance that the clip would be the piece that would fail first (likely well before the rest of it even showed signs of wear). But that didn’t account for Milo chewing the clip, which vastly accelerated its demise.

I didn’t want to throw out a perfectly good harness because a plastic clip had broken, and thankfully I didn’t have to as it’s possible to get replacements. I used a Sea to Summit Field Repair Side Release Buckle 2-Pin 15mm from Rock & Run:

The screw in posts meant there wasn’t any need to unstitch the existing clip loops (which would have been a right pain). It’s a little larger than the original clip, but nice and sturdy. With luck it will outlast other parts of the harness, but even if it doesn’t I can always buy another.

Raspberry Pi

Not only does Dart on Docker on Arm mean it’s possible to run an @sign secondary server on a Pi, there’s a perfect new Pi for the task with the $15 Pi Zero 2 W. Alex Ellis provides a good overview in his First Impressions post.



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