Monthly Archives: August 2009

Ruby to generate RSS feeds for sites that don’t offer them

There’s this site that has an equipment exchange I wanted to keep track of. Yet, it’s done with what seems to be a custom php file rather than vbulletin, so none of the usual RSS feeds from the site apply to it. So, I decided to make a scraper/feed-generator to get me the latest version every 5 minutes and generate a nice RSS feed, so I can view it in Google Reader. The volume of posting is low enough that this won’t be annoying to see in my daily feeds.

I usually use Ruby for this because it offers Hpricot, a very nice and fast scraper and XPath interface. This time, I resolved to find something that does RSS generation better, and I stumbled upon RubyRSS, which happens to be in the core ruby distribution!
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Good Passwords with GnuPG

I found out from this site that GPG can be used to generate random text for passwords. Here’s the command:

 gpg --gen-random 1 20 | gpg --enarmor | sed -n 5p

Very simple. I may have to use this in the future.


This limits you to the Base64 character set, greatly limiting the search space for password cracking.  One should really use something other than enarmor to spit out a random printable ASCII string…


OK, I did it.  It took some time, but it works nicely now, and generates MUCH better passwords:

hank@tardis:/nexus/tardis/hank$ for i in 1 2 3 4; \
  do gpg --gen-random 1 20 | \
  perl -ne's/[\x00-\x20]/chr(ord($^N)+50)/ge;s/([\x7E-\xDB])/chr(ord($^N)-93)/ge;s/([\xDC-\xFF])/chr(ord($^N)-129)/ge;print $_, "\n"';

I know that probably looks like gobbledy-gook, but the main part of it is this:

gpg --gen-random 1 20 | perl -ne'print "Your password: ";s/[\x00-\x20]/chr(ord($^N)+50)/ge;s/([\x7E-\xDB])/chr(ord($^N)-93)/ge;s/([\xDC-\xFF])/chr(ord($^N)-129)/ge;print $_, "\n"'

Run that in a terminal, and profit.

Citibank says checks are cleared as soon as you see them online…

I called Citibank tonight to confirm that one of my checks I deposited was finally collected.  This is a good thing to ask your bank if you are concerned that a check might bounce.  They indicated, as is said in the following audio recording, that if a check shows up in your transaction log online, it’s cleared.

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