VSubhash.com redesign

My site is now mostly static. Some scripts are still Classic ASP.

I have built a PHP-based CMS. This CMS supports dynamic scripts but mainly generates static article pages. There is no reason for an article page to have the overhead of a script and a database. This decision was prompted by my website’s hosting provider who did not provide a private directory in the same level as the public http directory. I did not want to place my databases and include files in a public folder.

Hence, all links have changed. Old links will be automatically redirected.

The look and feel remains the same.

The CMS will be released as FOSS, later when I fix the code. Both MarkDown and HTML content for articles are supported. The CMS does not require Javascript.

http://www.vsubhash.com/

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Subhash TweetsToRSS v2018.09.20 adds support for extended text messages and bio of reply IDs

TweetsToRSS has been built with the latest Twitter4J library and it now supports messages beyond the 140-character limit.

When a tweet has been quoted for a reply, the quote will have the bio of that account.

http://www.vsubhash.com/subhash-tweetstorss-app-for-android-linux-mac-and-windows.html

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Facebook Posts Deleter updated – Greasemonkey script to delete FB posts one by one

Facebook archives all your posts, photos and videos to optical media, not just HDDs. So, when you tell them to delete your content, do they really delete it from its cold-storage system too? Unlikely. Delete Facebook, if you have one, now.

Facebook Posts Deleter 2016 was a User Script that automatically deleted Facebook posts one by one on the FB “Activity Log” page. You could use this script if you did not trust Facebook to delete the content when you choose that option on its page. One FB user, who sued Facebook, found that deleted content continues to reside on Facebook servers on its distributed content delivery network long after the account has been “deleted” by Facebook.

Like Google/YouTube, Facebook seems to be serving different set of web pages, CSS & JS for different versions of web browsers. This User JavaScript was developed and tested in Firefox 34. Spoof this version with a Firefox add-on. The code is now very simple. There is no start button. It will start deleting posts without warning.

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How to create a Twitter archive of your tweets – Use WkhtmlToPDF and TweetsToRSS to save your tweets as PDF

com.vsubhash.bash.twitter-to-pdf.txt” is a Unix/Linux shell script for archiving all messages posted by a Twitter account in PDF format.

The command to use is:

bash com.vsubhash.bash.twitter-to-pdf.txt \
  realDonaldTrump \
  4000 \
  nojs

The first argument to bash is the shell script. The second argument is the Twitter account. The third argument is the number of tweets to archive. The fourth argument is used if the Javascript used by TweetsToRSS causes problems with WKhtmlToPDF.

This code assumes that WKhtmlToPDF is available in /opt. Else, you need to update the script. WKhtmlToPDF uses konqueror browser under the hood. The good thing about it is that all HTML links are preserved.

Tweets to PDF conversion

Tweets to PDF conversion

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Greasemonkey script to click the “Load More” button of YouTube video pages

YouTube forces its content creators to create lots of videos than is necessary. I have been watching the drawing videos of an artist. She is now posting videos every day, not about drawing but about her everyday activities. In these videos, she posts links to the real drawing videos or tells about them in advance. It’s awful. She is not alone. There are lots of people who seem to be doing this. There was this one guy whose electronics videos I watched a few times. I decided to check what else he had posted. Yikes! A whole lot of useless nothingness videos! I didn’t see them earlier because I always change the filter to “Most popular”.

If content creators stop making such videos, YouTube lets their earnings fall. This is because only the latest videos of subscribed channels are listed when people launch the YouTube app. If a content creator does not produce at least two or three videos per week, it is easy to get hidden by other channels when he/she does release a new video after a long break.

I use bookmarks and the hidden RSS feeds of YouTube. I don’t login and I don’t watch them live. Because of unexplained lag issues, I download the videos and watch them offline on my WDTV device.

When I check the videos pages, only some video thumbnails are listed there. There is a “Load More” button, which needs to be clicked several times to get the full listing. Sometimes the Net connection breaks during this interval and the expansion of the page stops. I need to then refresh the page and then click the button a few times to get to down to where I was. So, I wrote this Greasemonkey script to that for me. I load the video page and the script automatically clicks the button several times, waiting for sometime between each click to let the videos thumbnails.

With this script, I open the videos page to let it roll out. Meanwhile, I browse some other page. By the time I come back to the video page, all the thumbnails are listed.

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Compile from source and install Apache HTTP Server 2.4 and PHP 7 on Linux

A how-to guide to build localhost (“virtual host”) PHP 7 sites on the latest Apache HTTP server

I am using a nearly decade-old version of Ubuntu as my main OS. As it runs Gnome 2 and Firestarter, I will be sticking with it until rapture time. However, I did not want the old Apache and PHP from the “Old Releases” Ubuntu repository. Apache HTTP Server 2.4 was released in March this year. I couldn’t care for the new features. The old Apache would have worked just fine but new was new. So, I decided to install the latest Apache HTTP server and PHP 7 by building them from source. There aren’t any tutorials on building Apache 2.4 and PHP 7 from source, particularly from the requirement of a development machine. Besides that many of the configuration files, executables (a2ensite) and directories seem to be missing after the compilation/installation process was complete. It required a bit of thinking and RTFM. So, I decided to put it all down here in one place.

Apache HTTP Server 2.4 (httpd) compilation, installation and configuration

First, download the source files.

cd ~/Build
wget -c url-of-pcre-archive
wget -c url-of-apache-httpd-archive 
wget -c url-of-apr-util
wget -c url-of-apr

Extract the source files of PCRE and httpd in a directory named Build. The source files of the Apache Runtime need to be extracted inside the srclib directory of the httpd directory.

cd ~/Build
tar -xf pcre*
tar -xjf http*.bz*

cd http*
cd srclib
tar -xf ../../apr-1*
tar -xf ../../apr-util-1*
ln -s apr-1* apr
ln -s apr-util-1* apr-util

Next, compile and install PCRE to some directory (/usr/local/pcre).

cd ~/Build
cd pcre*
./configure --prefix=/usr/local/pcre
make
sudo make install # Installs PCRE to directory /usr/local/pcre

Finally, compile Apache httpd to some directory (/opt/httpd) with specified PCRE and Apache Runtime directories.

cd ~/Build
cd http*
./configure --prefix=/opt/httpd --with-included-apr --with-pcre=/usr/local/pcre
make
sudo make install # Install Apache httpd to directory /opt/httpd

The Apache HTTP Server has been installed. Now, it is time to start it and check it in a browser.

sudo /opt/httpd/bin/apachectl -k start # Start server
firefox http://localhost  # Serves /opt/httpd/htdocs/index.html

The configuration files of Apache httpd 2.4 seem to be different from the ones from the Apache installed from the old Ubuntu repositories. The main configuration file will be at /opt/httpd/conf/httpd.conf

PHP7 compilation, installation and configuration

Next, compile and install PHP 7 to some directory (/opt/php-7). When executing the configure statement, you need to specify the location of the Apache Extension Tool (/opt/httpd/bin/apxs).

sudo /opt/httpd/bin/apachectl -k stop # Stop Apache HTTP Server
cd ~/Build
cd php-7*
./configure --help | more
read -p "Press enter to continue" oNothing 
./configure -with-apxs2=/opt/httpd/bin/apxs  --prefix=/opt/php/php-7/arch-all --exec-prefix=/opt/php/php-7/arch
make
make test # This step is optional 
sudo make install # Install PHP to directory /opt/php/php-7
sudo libtool --finish ~/Build/php-7/libs # Adds PHP 7 module loader to httpd.conf

This completes the PHP 7 installation. Please note that the libtool statement writes the following line to Apache server’s httpd.conf file.

LoadModule php7_module        modules/libphp7.so

After PHP 7 has been installed, add a PHP file extension handler to Apache server’s httpd.conf file.

# The following is a multi-line statement. Copy all of them.
echo '
  <FilesMatch \.php>; 
    SetHandler application/x-httpd-php 
  </FilesMatch>' | sudo tee -a /opt/httpd/conf/httpd.conf 

Copy the development php.ini in the Build directory to /opt/php/php-7/arch/lib directory.

cd ~/Build/php-7*
sudo cp php.ini-development /opt/php/php-7/arch/lib/php.ini

Modify this file appropriately for your developmental setup. For production, you will have to use modify and use php.ini-production as the php.ini file. This completes the PHP installation and configuration.

Now, it is time to test .it. Create a sample PHP file in the Apache server’s htdocs directory and request it in a browser.

echo '<? phpinfo(); ?>' > php-test.php
sudo mv ./php-test.php /opt/httpd/htdocs/php-test.php
sudo /opt/httpd/bin/apachectl -k start # Start Apache HTTP Server
firefox http://localhost/php-test.php

This will prove that your HTTPd server can handle PHP. However, to develop websites on your local development machine, some more changes need to be made. You can delete the /opt/httpd/htdocs/php-test.php file.

Apache HTTP Server reconfiguration for virtual hosts

First, append a line in your /etc/hosts file so that browser requests to your test site (say me-website.com) are routed to your local installation of the httpd server.

echo "127.0.0.1 me-website.com" | sudo tee -a /etc/hosts

Next, clean up httpd.conf by removing the PHP file handler and the PHP loadmodule statement. Instead, append the following lines to httpd.conf.

# Added by me
Include conf/me-websites.conf 

Now, httpd.conf is mostly in its original state, save for the line that tells httpd to load the new me-websites.conf configuration file. Then, create the file me-websites.conf file and put all your virtual hosts configurations in it. Copy this file to /opt/httpd/conf directory. This will ensure that PHP scripting is limited to your “virtual host” sites.

Listen 8080

<VirtualHost *:8080>
  ServerAdmin webmaster@me-website.com
  DocumentRoot "/home/account-name/Websites/PHP/me-website/htdocs"
  ServerName me-website.com
  ServerAlias www.me-website.com
  ErrorLog "/home/account-name/Websites/PHP/me-website/logs/me-website.com.error.log"
  TransferLog "/home/account-name/Websites/PHP/me-website/logs/me-website.com.access.log"
  LoadModule rewrite_module modules/mod_rewrite.so
  LoadModule php7_module        modules/libphp7.so

  <FilesMatch \.php$>
    SetHandler application/x-httpd-php
  </FilesMatch>
  
  <Directory "/home/account-name/Websites/PHP/me-website/htdocs">
    Options Indexes FollowSymLinks
    AllowOverride All
    Require all granted
  </Directory>

</VirtualHost>

Next, add your account to the user group www-data. Your account can be the owner of the directory /home/account-name/Websites/PHP/me-website/htdocs but you need to give read, write and execute permissions to www-data. Now, you can put your PHP scripts in /home/account-name/Websites/PHP/me-website/htdocs and start coding. You can test the site in a browser at http://me-website.com:8080/

If you would like to test it on port 80, then remove the “Listen 80” in httpd.conf and replace 8080 in inside the VirtualHost directive in me-websites.conf. Then, you can simply test your sites at http://me-website.com/ or http://me-website.com:80.

Fix for autogenerate bug in Eclipse PHP run configuration

I have already published how to modify the Eclipse source files to fix the autogenerate bug in the Run configuration of Eclipse PHP. If that is too much for you, then you can simply let Apache HTTP Server’s rewrite module fix it for you. Create a .htaccess file in your home folder. This will remove the your Eclipse PHP project name for the run configuration.

RewriteEngine On
Redirect "/me-website" "/"

Interestingly, the propriety IDE (derived from the same open-source project) sold by the creator of PHP does not suffer from this PDT “bug”.

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Greasemonkey JavaScript-based YouTube adblocker and annoyances remover

Watching YouTube online is still impossible for me – the Net connection is still flaky and there are disturbances in the electricity supply. Downloading the videos and playing them offline is still the only option for me. Even then, the YouTube comes with a great deal of annoyances – ads (text and video), autoplay, “Recommended for you” video list, lack of RSS feeds, half-hidden description, YouTube-curated (or censored) “Top Comments”.

I have created several Greasemonkey scripts to deal with YouTube. Recently, I added a few more. Here they are:

The last one is new. It does several things – disables video ads, hides text ads, disables autoplay, deletes “recommended for you” ads.

Disabling video ads was tricky. The current implementation opens the same video URL in another tab and closes the current tab. This is repeated until YouTube relents and loads the original video. This can range anywhere from 2 to 10 reloads, probably. The code also finds the mute button and mutes the ad.

NOTE: I use an old version of Firefox and I spoof a newer but still old version in it. YouTube and other Google sites serve different styles of pages for different browser versions. The above code works with Firefox 42. To make the code work, you can spoof version 42 using the UserAgent Switcher add-on with this UA string.

Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 6.2; rv:42) Gecko/20100101 Firefox/42.0

Of course, I will not be publishing the ad-blocking code. YouTube apocalypse is on now. Ad agencies have done to YouTube what they had been doing for decades to newspaper and TV journalism – interfering in content. After CNN decided to launch a crusade against Alex Jones’ YouTube channels, ad agencies are now telling YouTube that their ads should not be playing on “controversial” content. The bottomline now is that videos from big music labels and stars can have all kind of crude/vulgar/unsuitable content but ordinary folk stepping out of the line will have to be immediately “demonetized.” I found one retired nurse, who publishes makeup tutorials, complaining that she never said a bad word or anything controversial but all her videos were demonetized.

Until the said apocalypse, YouTube content creators seem to have been generously paid. When the times were good, YouTube went all over the world asking people to make videos and make tons of money. Now, YouTube’s revenues are down and the first victims are the small and independent content creators who took YouTube’s bait. A million page views earns the creators very little. It is only with off-YouTube marketing deals and paid-promotion that YouTube content creators can make money. I am surprised that that many seemingly intelligent people left their day jobs and became “Youtubers” full time. Even more sad are the legion of retired folks whose savings have been destroyed by Bush and Obama’s zero-interest monetary regime and free-trade policies, and Wall Street’s looting of pension funds and local government funds. There can be no economy without local manufacturing. Selfies and cat videos are not what an advanced economy runs on.

Anyway, I can tolerate text ads. The videos ads are horrible. The “recommended for you” videos are downright creepy. Why are they recommended for me?

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