### Archive

Posts Tagged ‘irc’

## Weathersonde – Nearby Landing Notification

At our hackerspace brmlab, one of the things we do is picking up landed weather sondes. In short, fun hardware literally falling off the sky, several times a day, every day. These are stratospheric balloons used for weather data prediction, launched from various sites, that reach the 35km altitude, then the balloon bursts and it lands back on the ground at a random location. At the whole time, it transmits its current GPS coordinates via radio, making this a rather exciting sub-class of geocaching.

As a simple hack today (idea by chido), I created a simple script sonde.sh that is designed to be run three times a day, runs sonde trajectory prediction (a predict.habhub.org service – example) and if the sonde is predicted to land in a certain radius, reports that with a link to the prediction. By default, it is connected to jendabot, one of our brmlab IRC robotic minions, written in an appealingly crazy way as a collection of bash scripts.

Categories: Tags:

## Conversion from mixed UTF8 / legacy encoding data to UTF8

For about 13 years now, I’m running the Muaddib IRC bot that serves a range of Czech channels. Its features varied historically, but the main one is providing conversational AI services (it learns from people talking to him and replies back based on the learnt stuff). It runs the Megahal Markov chain algorithm, using the Hailo implementation right now.

Sometimes, I need to reset its brain. Most commonly when the server happens to hit a disk full situation, something no Megahal implementation seems to be able to deal with gracefully. :-) (Hailo is SQLite-based.) Thankfully, it’s a simple sed job with all the IRC logs archived. However, Muaddib always had trouble with non-ASCII data, mixing a variety of encodings and liking to produce a gibberish result.

So, historically, people used to talk to Muaddib using ISO-8859-2 and UTF8 encodings and now I had mixed ISO-8859-2/UTF8 lines and I wanted to convert them all to UTF8. Curiously, I have not been able to quickly Google out a solution and had to hack together my own (and, well, dealing with Unicod ein Perl is never something that goes quickly). For the benefit of fellow Google wanderers, here is my take:

perl -MEncode -ple 'BEGIN { binmode STDOUT, ":utf8"; }
$_ = decode("UTF-8",$_, sub { decode("iso-8859-2", chr(shift)) });'

It relies on the Encode::decode() ability to specify a custom conversion failure handler (and the fact that Latin2 character sequences that are also valid UTF-8 sequences are fairly rare). Note that Encode 2.35 (found in Debian squeeze) is broken and while it documents this feature, it doesn’t work. Encode 2.42_01 in Debian wheezy or latest CPAN version (use perl -MCPAN -e 'install Encode' to upgrade) works fine.

Categories: Tags:

## brmd: A Case for POE

In brmlab, we want to track who is unlocking the space, whether someone is inside, have some good visual indicator that live stream is on air, and so on. In other words, we have an Arduino with some further hardware, and we want to show whatever is reported by the Arduino on IRC and web, and provide some web-based control (open/closed status override) in the opposite direction too.

What to use for a service (we call it brmd) that will bind all these interfaces together? It just needs a lot of boring frontends and simple state maintenance. It turns out that Perl’s POE framework is ideal for this – most of the code for IRC, HTTP and device read/write is already there, so you just grab the modules, slam them together and you have exactly what you need with minimal effort. Right?

It turns out that there are caveats – basically, the idea is correct, aside of getting stuck on a single stupidity of mine, I’d have the whole thing put together in something like half an hour. Unfortunately, the moment you want robustness too, things are getting a lot more complex; to handle the device disappearing, IRC disconnections, not having HTTP socket fds leak away, etc., you suddenly need to either magically know what further modules to hook up or start exeting some manual effort. Still, I like how POE is making it so easy to give a simple state machine many input/output interfaces and when you get used to the idiosyncracies, you can even make it somewhat reliable.

## Example POE code

While this task seems to be ideal fit for POE, I’ve found surprisingly few examples of more complex POE component interaction on the web. Therefore, I’m going to lay out at least tersed up version of brmd below to help fellow future googlers. Nothing of this is anything ground-breaking, but it should help a lot to have a template to go by. Our real version is somewhat more verbose and includes some more interfaces: brmdoor.git:brmd/brmd.pl

I assume that you already know what “POE kernel” and “POE session” is. Beware that I’m a POE beginner myself, and I haven’t gone through much effort to clean the code up the way I would if I were to work together with someone else on this. Some things surely aren’t solved optimally and you might even pick up a bad habit or two.

In order to have some neat separation, we will divide brmd to several components where each will take care of a single interface; the main package will only spawn them up and do some most basic coordination. If we were to grow much larger, it would be worth the effort to even set up some kind of message bus (I wish POE would provide that implicitly), here we just directly signal components needing the info.

Categories: software Tags: