RSS Feed for Hacker News’ Top Links

Hacker News is one of the few news sources I follow daily. They’re a bit like Digg/Reddit where posts are user-submitted, but they focus more or tech and related news.

However, as it’s getting more and more popular, so has the number of submissions. I generally follow this type of news via RSS feeds and their RSS feed just has too much noise. They do have a Top Links list (highest voted recent links), but unfortunately no associated RSS feed.

I’ve been using Daily Hacker News, but I dislike the format where it only compiles a list of the top 10 once a day. I wanted something that would insert a new RSS entry when a new item hits the best of list.

That’s why I’m introducing Top Links | Hacker News RSS Feed: http://feedpress.me/hacker-news-best

Following in the same style of Hacker News’ RSS Feed, the item links directly to the news source and there’s a comments link in the body. With individual RSS entries, this makes it a lot easier to search for items just by looking at the title and now you can save/tag entries for later.

Enjoy!

Direct Links to Apple’s iTunes App Store Categories

If you ever wanted to post a direct link that opens to an App Store category on iTunes, you’ve probably ran into a bit of trouble. If you right click and copy the link from an app’s category, you’d probably end up somewhere like: https://itunes.apple.com/us/genre/ios-games/id6014?mt=8

No problem when you try opening it from a iOS device, but if you open that link on a computer browser, you’ll most definitely be disappointed.

You can change https:// to itmss:// and if the protocol is registered, it’ll open up on iTunes. But Facebook and Twitter don’t really treat itmss links correctly. Facebook redirects to http:// and Twitter doesn’t even linkify it.

I have gone on a quest to find the regular http links that’ll open App Store categories and I have found the following. Basically what you’ll need is the MZStore.woa API which calls viewGrouping and figure out what the group id is.

Unfortunately I didn’t look far enough to figure out some of the newer categories: Books, Catalogs, Food & Drink, Medical, Newsstands

So if you know the direct links to the newer categories, feel free to post it in the comments below and I’ll update my post.

Ruby-1.9.3-p429 hangs when calling OpenSSL

So I’ve been debugging a problem for a better part of today. We first noticed an issue when our test suite was taking forever to finish and it turns out that a certain server we integrated was timing out on every single test. We initially chalked it up to the server being slow, but when we have 10 tests each taking 60 seconds to timeout, it adds a big chunk of time to run our test suites.

To provide some more background, our Rails on Ruby app uses ActiveMerchant to connect to NMI to process transactions. We kept getting the following error: “The connection to the remote server timed out”

The weird thing was that it was only happening on our Macs running OSX 10.8.3 (Mountain Lion), but not on our production server which is running Ubuntu.

So I decided to spend some time debugging the issue. I found out if I switched back to ruby-1.9.3-p392, everything worked fine. I thought maybe my ruby was compiled incorrectly, so I recompiled ruby-1.9.3-p429, but that didn’t seem to fix the problem.

Tracing the code:

  • ssl_post
  • ssl_request
  • raw_ssl_request

which eventually generates an Net::HTTP connection and makes the SSL request.

So I wrote a little test to see what happens:
h = Net::HTTP.new('secure.networkmerchants.com', 443).tap do |http|
  http.use_ssl = true
end

h.post('/api/transact.php', '')

In p392, I would get:
#<Net::HTTPOK 200 OK readbody=true>

But in p429, I would get:
Errno::ECONNRESET: Connection reset by peer - SSL_connect

Searching for that error string, I eventually came upon openssl. I found out that in p429, it had switched to using homebrew’s version of openssl (version 1.0.1e) instead of the system’s version of openssl (version 0.9.8r).

Using openssl 0.9.8r, everything worked fine, but when using openssl 1.0.1e, the connection was timing out and getting the following error:
$ openssl s_client -connect secure.networkmerchants.com:443

CONNECTED(00000003)
write:errno=54
---
no peer certificate available
---
No client certificate CA names sent
---
SSL handshake has read 0 bytes and written 322 bytes
---
New, (NONE), Cipher is (NONE)
Secure Renegotiation IS NOT supported
Compression: NONE
Expansion: NONE
---

I contacted the openssl users mailing list and got back the following response:

This is most likely another case of the frequently reported (and discussed) issue that 1.0.1 implements TLS1.2, which has more ciphersuites enabled by default and additional extensions, which together make the ClientHello bigger, and some server implementations apparently can’t cope. It appears in at least many cases the cutoff is 256 bytes, suggesting these servers don’t handle 2-byte length right.

It’s unlikely that this would be explicitly configured on a server, rather it would be an implementation flaw that previously did not cause a problem. It might occur in an older version of server software fixed in a newer version.

For many details see
http://rt.openssl.org/Ticket/Display.html?id=2771&user=guest&pass=guest

Short answer is that restricting to TLS1(.0), and/or a smaller list of ciphersuites (but still enough to intersect with the server), likely works. Both do for me using 1.0.1e to your example host. You can use -msg in s_client to see exactly how much (and what) is sent for different options.

So I tried setting the ssl version to :TLSv1, but that didn’t seem to work. Setting it to ssl version to SSLv3 did though.
http.ssl_version = :SSLv3

Following the example from Forcing SSL TLSv1, I was able to override the ssl_version of the http connection that ssl_post creates:

class SSLv3Connection < ActiveMerchant::Connection   def configure_ssl(http)     super(http)     http.ssl_version = :SSLv3   end end def new_connection(endpoint)   SSLv3Connection.new(endpoint) end

Reminder Issues in iCal with Google Calendar

I’ve been using Fantastical on my Mac and iPhone as my default Calendar application these days and it’s been wonderful, or should I say fantastical. Anyway, I recently hit into a weird issue that I initially thought was a bug in Fantastical, but upon further investigation appears to be a bigger issue between Google Calendar and Mac’s Calendar app (previously known and will be referred later in this article as iCal).

I noticed whenever I tried changing reminders in Fantastical, despite the change appearing to be successful, if I reopen the event, the reminders are reverted. Not only that, when I create a new event in Fantastical, it always uses the default reminders, despite the default being no reminders. Even when I add a reminder before creating the event, my reminder gets removed and the defaults are used.

I tried to create a simple event in iCal and was able to set the reminder that I wanted. So I contacted @flexbits (maker of Fantastical) on Twitter and they basically told me the reminder settings get overridden by Google.

So I did some more testing and here’s what I actually found:

  1. In iCal, you can set the reminder you want when creating the event, but once the event is created, you can’t change the reminders anymore. It’ll appear that any reminder you modify, add, or remove has succeeded, but if you open up the event details again, you’ll find the reminder settings have been reverted to what it was previously.
  2. Despite the reminder settings being reverted in iCal, Google Calendar actually shows the reminder changes that you’ve made. So there appears to be some sync issue between iCal and Google Calendar where iCal can push up reminder changes, but can’t pull those changes down. Not sure if the bug lies in Google’s implementation or iCal’s implementation.

Since Fanstaical always uses the default reminders, it leads me to think that creating an event is a multi-step process in Fantastical, where adding the reminders is a latter step, therefore it gets ignored.

Don’t have a solution here. Just wanted to share my findings. Seems like if you want to use Google Calendar and not use the default reminders, your best bet is to create the events in iCal and set the reminders you want.

get_template_part_content for Single Posts

I’ve been looking for a non-intrusive way to insert text before any of my WordPress Single Posts and Pages. In the past, I modified the themes directly, but since I didn’t own the themes I was using, anytime I updated the theme, I would lose all my changes.

I had found I can insert text at the top and bottom of my pages using add_action. For example:

add_action( 'get_footer', 'echo_hello_world' );

function echo_hello_world( $post )
{
   echo "hello world";
}

would add the phrase “hello world” to the bottom of every single page on my blog. You can find a list of tags on WordPress’ Action Reference page.

One of the things I wanted to do was insert some text beneath my header, but before my post. I had found get_template_part_content would do the trick on Pages, but not Single Posts. After I failed at finding a solution online, I looked into how the code differed between Pages and Single Posts.

Single Posts were calling:
get_template_part( 'content-single', get_post_format() );

while Pages were calling:
get_template_part( 'content', 'page' );

So I wondered if get_template_part_content_single would work, but nothing happened. I then tried get_template_part_content-single, lo and behold, it WORKED! Given that Google has 0 search results with that exact phrase, I’m guessing no one’s discovered this action tag or at least posted about it publicly.

So my code ended up looking like:

add_action( 'get_template_part_content', 'echo_hello_world' );
add_action( 'get_template_part_content-single', 'echo_hello_world' );

function echo_hello_world( $post )
{
   if( is_single() || is_page() )
   {
       echo "hello world";
   }
}

As a bonus, here’s a tag you can use to insert text between your post and the comments section: comments_template