RTL Tiddlers in TiddlyWiki

Update – For TiddlyWiki 5 see RTL Tiddlers in TiddlyWiki 5.

I’ve been using TiddlyWiki for a while now, and it became a very useful tool for me. Today, I’ve decided to organize my various recipes (somehow cooking and especially making deserts has turned into an hobby of mine), and as you can expect I’ve decided to use TiddlyWiki for the tasks.

There was a slight problem as some of the recipes are in Hebrew, and it seems TiddlyWiki doesn’t have built-in support for RTL (right-to-left) tiddlers. However, such support can be added via custom stylesheets and the tiddlers’ tags. The idea for this method is taken from this TiddlyWiki.

Create a new tiddler called “StyleSheet” (without the quotes). This is a special tiddler (a shadow tiddler) that lets you add additional CSS code for your wiki. Insert the following code into the newly created tiddler:

div[tags~="RTL"].tiddler {
    direction: rtl;
div[tags~="RTL"].tiddler .subtitle {
    direction: ltr;
div[tags~="RTL"].tiddler .tagged {
    direction: ltr;
    float: left;

Now for every tiddler you want to be in RTL direction just add RTL to its list of tags. After you do it, the tiddler will appear correctly. Here is an example of what in RTL looks like after the fix:

A screenshot of an RTL tiddler
A screenshot of an RTL tiddler

Iptables Cheatsheet

From time to time I find myself having to go through man pages and googling for some simple iptable rules. This post is meant as a cheatsheet for me, so I can concentrate here various rules and remarks.

I hope others will benefit from this cheatsheet as well. Intend to expand it over time as I gather more rules and tips, so bookmarking the post might be a good idea. Last but not least, if you have some useful iptables rules I’ve missed please send them using the comments.
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Starting tracd without Root Privileges at Startup

I use Trac for the Open Yahtzee website. I’ve decided to use tracd for serving the requests (due to a configuration issue I didn’t want to mess with), which required starting it each time the server restarts. I’ve already written one solution for it, in the form of an init.d script for tracd. However, it bothered me that the tracd runs with root privileges which it doesn’t really requires.

After searching a bit I’ve found out that cron can run tasks on startup using the special @reboot keyword instead of the normal time fields. So edit your crontab and add the following line:

@reboot /usr/bin/tracd --daemonize --pidfile=~/run/tracd.pid --port=PORT --hostname=HOSTNAME -s TRAC_ENV

Just replace PORT, HOSTNAME and TRAC_ENV with the appropriate values for your environment, and make sure you got a run/ sub-directory in your home folder (or change the pidfile value).

To stop the server just do:

kill `cat ~/run/tracd.pid`

While there is no straight way to restart the server (like /etc/init.d/tracd restart), it’s a good compromise for dropping root privileges.

Amarok Sleep – Stop Playback After Specified Amount of Time

Amarok is my favourite music player. I like to listen to music when I go a sleep, but I don’t want the music to keep playing all night long. This is why I’ve added a sleep feature to radio.py. Unfortunately Amarok doesn’t have a built-in sleep functionality, but the Amarok developers left open door for us to implement it with ease by means of interfaces allowing to control amarok from the command line.
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Configuring Lighttpd for CakePHP

I tried a few days ago to install a CakePHP project of mine on a lighttpd web-server. As expected, its clean URLs didn’t work, so I set out to find a solution.

One possible solution is the one outlined in the CakePHP manual. The solution uses the mod_magnet module (which basically runs a Lua script to do the rewriting), and I found it an overkill. I was looking for a simple solution based only on mod_rewrite, something like the solution for WordPress.
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Batch Renaming Using sed

I was reorganizing my music library and decided to change the naming convention I’ve used. This task is just asking to be automated. Since the filename change could be described using regular expression, I looked for a way to use sed for the renaming process.

The files I had, had the following pattern as filename ARTIST – SONG – TRACK – ALBUM

James Brown - I Got You (I Feel Good).ogg  - 01 - Classic James Brown

I wanted to rename it to ARTIST – ALBUM – TRACK – NAME

James Brown - Classic James Brown - 01 - I Got You (I Feel Good).ogg

Describing the change as a sed program is easy:

s/\(.*\) - \(.*\) - \(.*\) - \(.*\).ogg/\1 - \4 - \3 - \2.ogg/

Now all that has to be done is to pass each filename to mv and pass it again after it went through the sed script. This could be done like this:

for i in *; do
  mv "$i" "`echo $i | sed "s/\(.*\) - \(.*\) - \(.*\) - \(.*\).ogg/\1 - \4 - \3 - \2.ogg/"`";

The important part is the

`echo $i | sed "s/\(.*\) - \(.*\) - \(.*\) - \(.*\).ogg/\1 - \4 - \3 - \2.ogg/"`

which pipes the filename to sed and returns it as an argument for mv.

To see what renaming will be done one can alter a bit the above command, and get

for i in *; do
  echo "$i" "->" "`echo $i | sed "s/\(.*\) - \(.*\) - \(.*\) - \(.*\).ogg/\1 - \4 - \3 - \2.ogg/"`";

While will effectively print a list of lines of the form oldname -> newname.

Of course this technique isn’t limited to the renaming I’ve done. By changing the pattern given to sed, one can do any kind of renaming that can be described as a regular expression replacement. Also one can change the globbing (the *) in the for loop to operate only on specific files, that match a given pattern, in the directory instead of all of them.

Deleting a Range of Tickets in Trac

Recently the Open Yahtzee website which runs Trac has fallen victim to several spam attacks. The spammers submit large number of tickets containing links to various sites. This post was written mainly to allow me to copy paste a command to delete a range of tickets at once, but I thought it may be useful to others as well.
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Extract Public Key from X.509 Certificate as Hex

X.509 certificates are common way to exchange and distribute public key information. For example, most Open Social containers use the OAuth RSA-SHA1 signature method, and distribute their public keys in the X.509 format.

While working on an AppEngine application, I needed to verify requests from such containers. However, there is (currently) no pure python library able of parsing the certificates. This meant that I needed extract the public key out of the certificate manually, and store it in some parsed way inside the Python code.

Fortunately, parsing public keys form a X.509 certificate and representing them as a Hex number turned out simple and easy.
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Expanding Macros into String Constants in C

Today I came across an annoying problem, how do I expand a C macro into a string?

One of C’s preprocessor operators is the # which surrounds the token that follows it in the replacement text with double quotes (“). So, at first the solution sounds pretty simple, just define

#define STR(tok) #tok

and things will work. However, there is one caveat: it will not work if passed another macro. For example,

#define BUF_LEN 100
#define STR(tok) #tok


will produce after going through the preprocessor


instead of "100", which is undesired. This behavior is due to the C standard noting that no macro expansions should happen to token preceded by #.

However, after reconsidering the source of the problem, I’ve found the following workaround: define another macro which will expand the argument and only then call the macro which does the quoting.

#define STR_EXPAND(tok) #tok
#define STR(tok) STR_EXPAND(tok)

#define BUF_LEN 100


will produce


as desired.

Explanation: The STR macro calls the STR_EXPAND macro with its argument. Unlike in the first example, this time the parameter is checked for macro expansions and evaluated by the preprocessor before being passed to STR_EXPAND which quotes it, thus giving the desired behavior.

Drawing Finite Automata and State Machines

I had to draw couple of Finite Automata and Turing Machines for some university assignments. Usually I would have done it using Inkscape (as it is my favorite tool for creating figures for my LaTeX documents), but doing it manually is pretty tedious work. Inkscape diagram tool is currently sub par, so everything have to be done by hand. It’s OK if you need to draw one State Machine once in a while, but not suitable for larger quantities. I’ve also tried using Dia, but it also required lots of manual tweaking and tuning.

To my surprise, Graphviz (and especially the dot utility) turned out to be the (almost) perfect tool for the job. It lets you describe the graph in a simple text-based way, and it handles the graph layout by himself. This is somewhat like LaTeX but for graphs (you concentrate on content not layout).

My Finite Automata needed no manual tweaking and resulted in a very nice graphs. For more complicated State Machines it’s sometimes necessary to do some manual tuning. The commands I found most useful to tweak the graph were:

  • Grouping nodes to be in the same level – { rank="same"; "q1"; "q2"; "q3"}. The other options for rank can affect how the group is positioned relative to the other nodes in the graph (source, above all, sink bellow all).
  • Adding weight to edges – q1 -> q2 [weight="10"]. This affects the cost of strecting the edge. The higher the weight the straighter the edges will be.
  • Adding invisible edges – q1 -> q3 [style="invis"]. This allowed me to control the order of the nodes in the same rank (height).

Last but not least Graphivz can generate the graphs in variety for formats including eps, pdf and svg (which allows post-processing with inkscape).