On not hosting everything

I’ve been moving all my photos to Flickr lately. It’s been a long process, one complicated by the fact that it seems silly to run my own WordPress installation (and things like ArchivesWiki) if I’m not going to bother hosting everything myself. Of course, that’s not really very logical, and so I’ve decided that it’s perfectly okay to host photos on Flickr, videos on YouTube, and all the text (and miscellaneous) stuff here on my own server.

Importing books from IA to Wikisource

After being inspired by Ewan McAndrew at Wikimania, I’ve taken a crack at doing my own video about importing books from the Internet Archive into Wikisource:

There are a few mistakes here, and as I’ve yet to figure out how to edit videos properly (I’ve only managed to hang my video editing software so far), they’ve stayed in; I’ll do another video correcting things.

The pagelist creation process is probably the hardest bit for beginners to Wikisource, and it’s something we need to work on. Metadata copying, on the other hand, mostly works fine (of course, we should not be copying the metadata, but that’s another story).

All the stations have an adventure

Today is All The Stations‘ “have an adventure” day, in which they’re asking people to visit a railway station that they’ve never been to before. When I first heard about it I figured I have to end up at somewhere boring like Aubin Grove but as it turns out I’m actually at Wikimania in Montreal! So it’s rather easy to find a station to which I’ve never been; in fact, with the assistance of a friend, I have today been to seven new stations.


All the stations have an adventure


Square-Victoria-OACI station

Place d’Armes (no photo).


Champ-de-Mars station


Berri-UQAM station


Jean-Drapeau station


Longueuil station

And also Windsor, which isn’t actually a station any more:

Windsor station

Jazz and the MediaWiki package

And rain, I mustn’t forget the rain. I’m worrying about the roof, although far less than I used to (it’s a different roof). The jazz is the radio; it’s on.

But the main point this morning is exploring the mediawiki-lts package maintained by Legoktm. I’ve been meaning to look at it for a while, and switch my (non-playground) wikis over to it, but there’s never enough time. Not that there’s enough time now, but I’m just trying to get it running locally for two wikis (yes, the smallest possible farm).

So, in simple steps, I first added the PPA:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:legoktm/mediawiki-lts

This created /etc/apt/sources.list.d/legoktm-ubuntu-mediawiki-lts-xenial.list. Then I updated the package info:

sudo apt-get update

And installed the package:

sudo apt install mediawiki

At this point, the installation prompt for MediaWiki 1.27.3 was available at http://localhost/mediawiki/ (which luckily doesn’t conflict with anything I already had locally) and I stepped through the installer, creating a new database and DB user via phpMyAdmin as I went, and answering all the questions appropriately. (It’s actually been a while since I last saw the installer properly.) The only tricky thing I found was that it asks for the “Directory for deleted files” but not for the actual directory for all files — because I want the files to be stored in a particular place and not in /usr/share/mediawiki/images/, especially as I want there to be two different wikis that don’t share files.

I made a typo in my database username in the installation form, and got a “Access denied for user x to database y” error. I hit the browser’s back button, and then the installer’s back buttons, to go back to the relevant page in the installer, fixed the typo and proceeded. It remembered everything correctly, and this time installed the database tables, with only one error. This was “Notice: JobQueueGroup::__destruct: 1 buffered job(s) of type(s) RecentChangesUpdateJob never inserted. in /usr/share/mediawiki/includes/jobqueue/JobQueueGroup.php on line 447”. Didn’t seem to matter.

At the end of the installer, it prompted me to download LocalSettings.php and put it at /etc/mediawiki/LocalSettings.php which I did:

 sudo mv ~/LocalSettings.php /etc/mediawiki/.
 sudo chown root:root /etc/mediawiki/LocalSettings.php
 sudo chmod 644 /etc/mediawiki/LocalSettings.php

And then I had a working wiki at http://localhost/mediawiki/index.php!


I wanted a different URL, so edited /etc/apache2/sites-available/000-default.conf (in order to not modify the package-provided /etc/mediawiki/mediawiki.conf) to add:

Alias /mywiki /var/lib/mediawiki

And changed the following in LocalSettings.php:

$wgScriptPath = "/mywiki";

The multiple wikis will have to wait until later, as will the backup regime.

Publishing on the indiweb

I’ve been reading about POSSE and PESOS, and getting re-inspired about the value in a plurality of web tools. I sometimes try to focus just on one Software package (MediaWiki, at the moment, because it’s what I code fornear at work. But I used to love working on WordPress, and I’ve got a couple of stalled projects for Piwigo lying around. Basically, all these things will be of higher quality if they have to work with each other and with all the data silos (Facebook, Twitter, etc.).

The foundational principles of the IndiWeb are:

  1. Own your data.
  2. Use visible data for humans first, machines second. See also DRY.
  3. Build tools for yourself, not for all of your friends. It’s extremely hard to fight Metcalfe’s law: you won’t be able to convince all your friends to join the independent web. But if you build something that satisfies your own needs, but is backwards compatible for people who haven’t joined in (say, by practicing POSSE), the time and effort you’ve spent building your own tools isn’t wasted just because others haven’t joined in yet.
  4. Eat your own dogfood. Whatever you build should be for yourself. If you aren’t depending on it, why should anybody else? We call that selfdogfooding. More importantly, build the indieweb around your needs. If you design tools for some hypothetical user, they may not actually exist; if you build tools for yourself, you actually do exist. selfdogfooding is also a form of “proof of work” to help focus on productive interactions.
  5. Document your stuff. You’ve built a place to speak your mind, use it to document your processes, ideas, designs and code. At least document it for your future self.
  6. Open source your stuff! You don’t have to, of course, but if you like the existence of the indie web, making your code open source means other people can get on the indie web quicker and easier.
  7. UX and design is more important than protocols, formats, data models, schema etc. We focus on UX first, and then as we figure that out we build/develop/subset the absolutely simplest, easiest, and most minimal protocols & formats sufficient to support that UX, and nothing more. AKA UX before plumbing.
  8. Build platform agnostic platforms. The more your code is modular and composed of pieces you can swap out, the less dependent you are on a particular device, UI, templating language, API, backend language, storage model, database, platform. The more your code is modular, the greater the chance that at least some of it can and will be re-used, improved, which you can then reincorporate.
  9. Longevity. Build for the long web. If human society is able to preserve ancient papyrus, Victorian photographs and dinosaur bones, we should be able to build web technology that doesn’t require us to destroy everything we’ve done every few years in the name of progress.
  10. Plurality. With IndieWebCamp we’ve specifically chosen to encourage and embrace a diversity of approaches & implementations. This background makes the IndieWeb stronger and more resilient than any one (often monoculture) approach.
  11. Have fun. Remember that GeoCities page you built back in the mid-90s? The one with the Java applets, garish green background and seventeen animated GIFs? It may have been ugly, badly coded and sucky, but it was fun, damnit. Keep the web weird and interesting.

Wikipedia workshop this weekend

There will be a workshop at the State Library of Western Australia this Saturday from 1 p.m., for anyone to come along and learn how to add just one citation to just one Wikipedia article (or more of either, of course). For more details, see meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/WikiClubWest.

WikiCite 2017

(Firefox asked me to rate it this morning, with a little picture of a broken heart and five stars to select from. I gave it five (’cause it’s brilliant) and then it sent me to a survey on mozilla.com titled “Heavy User V2”, which sounds like the name of an confused interplanetary supply ship.)

Today WikiCite17 begins. Three days of talking and hacking about the galaxy that comprises Wikipedia, Wikidata, Wikisource, citations, and all bibliographic data. There are lots of different ways into this topic, and I’m focusing not on Wikipedia citations (which is the main drive of the conference, I think), but on getting (English) Wikisource metadata a tiny bit further along (e.g. figure out how to display work details on a Wikisource edition page); and on a little side project of adding a Wikidata-backed citation system to WordPress.

The former is currently stalled on me not understanding the details of P629 ‘edition or translation of’ — specifically whether it should be allowed to have multiple values.

The latter is rolling on quite well, and I’ve got it searching and displaying and the beginnings of updating ‘book’ records on Wikidata. Soon it shall be able to make lists of items, and insert the lists (or individual citations of items on them) into blog posts and pages. I’m not sure what the state of the art is in PHP of packages for formatting citations, but I’m hoping there’s something good out there.

And here is a scary chicken I saw yesterday at the Naturhistorisches Museum:

Scary chicken (Deinonychus antirrhopus)

MediaWiki Documentation Day 2017

It’s MediaWiki Documentation Day 2017!

So I’ve been documenting a couple of things, and I’ve added a bit to the Xtools manual.

The latter is actually really useful, not so much from the end-user’s point of view because I dare say they’ll never read it, but I always like writing documentation before coding. It makes the goal so much more clear in my mind, and then the coding is much easier. With agreed-upon documentation, writing tests is easier; with tests written, writing the code is easier.

Time for a beer — and I’ll drink to DFD (document first development)! Oh, and semantic linebreaks are great.