Rebuilding, and new infrastructure

As previously reported, GenWeb.io lost its database in the recent server crash. While painful, it is also an opportunity to start a rebuild with some new infrastructure. In this case it is mostly additional tools.

YOURLS logo
Url-shortener

It is often useful to have a quick and simple way to shorten a url. However, most public services, such as bit.ly or goo.gl, spy on everyone who clicks on a shortened link. Yes, if you have ever used one of those shorteners you sent a lot of people off to have their online identity and secrets probed by some of the nastiest intelligence groups on the planet.

Which is why we now have our own. CCs who host here get a user account there, and a plugin which auto-generates short urls for posts, pages.

from Commons.Wikimedia.Org

Somewhat related to this is implementing Ostatus[R]. Ostatus is a collection of standards related to RSS and Atom, which you probably know allow people to keep track of what is being published by groups in whom they are interested.

Ostatus gives each site an e-mail-like address which can be used to get notifications of updates and posts, like @Amgine@genweb.io. Plugging that into a Mastodon[R] or GNU-Social[R] search will bring up the latest articles published by me, here. They can also subscribe via PubSubHubub-enabled services and apps.

Logo for PrivateBin, from the Github repository.

Another tool is a paste-bin website. A paste-bin lets you simply copy and paste something to share on the internet. Like the url-shortener above, many of the public paste-bins have a bad reputation for spying, and for keeping the content for unknown purposes. Also, there are sometimes questions of privacy – maybe you are sharing a family document, or a csv file of cemetery geo-coordinates, and you really do not want some faceless corporation snagging a copy.

PrivateBin answers both use-cases. Everything is encrypted before it leaves your browser, so the server will never see what is inside your paste. And you are in control of how long the paste is stored; you can leave it forever, or go back and delete it whenever you feel like it. You can even set it up to self-destruct when read once (but do not rely on this for security – the person you share it to can copy and save it, even if they cannot come back to the url later.)

There are still more tools to be restored to our installation – the updated editor, a tool to foil spammers, various maintenance and security tweaks. But we are partially back up and running. Our sites have months and years of work to rebuild, but we will help as we can.

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