A Python Ping Tester

We have been having a lot of short network dropouts lately, something that is rather troubling when playing online games.

The GUI for a little ping tester tracking the stability of our household internet.
The GUI for a little ping tester tracking the stability of our household internet.
I was wondering just how prevalent the issue is, just how good or bad is the service at any given moment. I know I can download any number of network testing utilities, but what is the fun in that? Maybe just write something!

The little app is a Python/Tk gui. It simply pings an IP address and plots the results. The program is nothing serious, but it does the job. I have included the Python code below, a simple example of a Tk GUI.

NetCheck.py

The code is written for Python 3.5 or better as it uses the subprocess.run() method that was introduced with 3.5. This method just makes getting the stdio output so much easier. There are native ping libraries available for Python, they do require running the script in administrator to allow low level socket use. By using a subprocess I avoid that, if not quite as neat a solution.

Any IP address can be pinged, I am currently using 8.8.8.8 which is a Google DNS server. Using this server pretty much guarantees the issue is the local network, not an issue at the server end.

The results? Our local net is not looking too bad. There are periods when a cluster of dropouts occur, each lasting a minute or two. You can see one of these on the screen cap above. Fortunately these are unusual and not the norm… At least so far. I may update that evaluation when I get more data.

The Top DarkerView Posts of 2016

As I look back to 2016 I realize there were some pretty good posts. DarkerView is a true blog, as in “web log”. It exists as much as a personal diary as much anything else, a place for me to store my thoughts, my photos, my memories of life. A the new year is upon us it is traditionally a time to look back upon the year and recall some of those memories.

I posted nearly 300 blog posts through the year, not quite keeping to one per day as I had years ago, but rather trying to keep the quality high. Someone must appreciate that, There have been over 100,000 views and about 50,000 visitors to the site over the year. I am always slightly amazed that people come by to read what I write and even comment on it. Traffic is steady at between 100 to 200 visitors per day.

Of course most of those visitors are from the US, Canada, the UK, and Australia, but surprisingly India, Pakistan, Germany, and Norway all top 1k visitors to the site. Just about every country in the world is represented in the visitor list, only central African nations seem to be left out.

I find that my best posts, my best writing, was primarily my comment posts. A chance to editorialize on the issues that swirl about my life and our island. Sometimes the emotions and thoughts just need to be expressed, to be recorded. Writing is a way for my to further analyse my own thoughts. In organizing these ideas into an essay I can more clearly see the issue.

Looking back, 2016 was not a bad year at all…

Cultural Misappropration
Restoring an Orange Tube Celestron C8
Dual Lasers on the Galactic Center
A Helicopter with No Doors
Making Room for the Traditional
Cruft
Changing a Light Bulb
To the Flow by Sea
Restoring an Obsession
Broken, Now Fixed
Moana and Polynesian Culture
A Celestron FirstScope
Alone with the Mountain

Keck 2 Lases in the North
Keck 2 lasing to the north in the dawn the lights of Waimea and Honolulu behind.

Site Icons

Loading a site icon to your website will create a unique icon in shortcut lists and on browser tabs. it is a neat touch that identifies your website in a very visual way. The problem is that there is a dizzying array of icons needed to support the various browsers and devices. One format for chrome, another for Internet Explorer, one for iOS devices, etc., etc.

Rosette
NGC2244, the Rosette Nebula, the current site icon image for Darker View
Fortunately the later versions of WordPress make it easy. A built in function of WordPress creates all of the needed icons from a single image. The function is found in the theme, and is supported by many modern themes. Simply go to Appearance->Themes, then select Customize->Site Identity for your current theme. At the bottom should a place to load your site icon image.

The only issue then is to select your site icon image. This is easier said than done as not all images work. You need an image that will scale well to the smaller icon sizes used by many devices. An image that looks good at a larger size is very likely to look like mush when scaled to a much smaller size.

WordPress suggests an original size of 512×512 pixels. This will be scaled down to the needed sizes for the various site icons. I would suggest testing your image by resizing it back and forth in an image editor. This should show you how the image will look at sizes from 512×512 to 16×16 pixels. It may take some experimentation to get right.

Quiet Blog

I admit Darker View has been a bit quiet for the last few weeks. A few reasons for this. Firstly I was in Alaska with family for most of the month of June, fishing and exploring out of Juneau as usual. Then I was quite busy at work, compounded by recovering from a bout of bronchitis.

To top it all off I spent my blogging energies working on the NordicQuest.com blog instead of Darker View… Sorry.

I will have to cross post a couple of the good postings that I put up over at NQ here. While the blog has been quiet, I have been having fun!

Breach!
A humpback whale breaches in Chatham Strait

Header Images

One of the fun features offered by the new theme is randomized header images. I have recycled a few of my back catalog of images to create a new look for the site. I am rather pleased with the effect. Sometimes this website/blog stuff is just fun.

In case you are wondering what they are, here is the cheat sheet, if you want it. I may add more images to the header over time.

Continue reading “Header Images”

Some Blog Changes Coming

You may have noticed that DarkerView got hacked back in late March. Somehow malicious files were inserted that sent search traffic to various less than reputable websites, of course that means mostly sex sites. Sorry about that.

GyPSy in the Night
The 11″ NexStar GPS telescope, GyPSy set up at Ka’Ohe
Only search traffic was affected, those who went directly to the site saw the correct webpage, thus I did not notice right away as I use direct links. As a side note, getting hacked does result in a huge spike in traffic volume, that was the first sign. This sort of hack is apparently called conditional redirect hack, essentially borrowing a reputable website’s reputation with the search engines to send traffic towards certain websites.

As a result I have been tightening up security around here. Removing some old plugins, changing things around and checking for known vulnerabilities. One thing you will soon see is that the old theme will be replaced for an entirely new look for DarkerView.

The old theme is just that… old. Also probably insecure as there has been no maintenance on it in years. As I really do not know how the attacker got in I need to look to everything that could have been the weakness. Time to update the look and update the code to something that is modern and supported.

Jan in SanFran

On our recent trip to Nicaragua I had a chance to meet a few people. One of the more interesting was Jan Adams, who uses the handle JanInSanFran for her online identities. She was elected to the board of El Porvenir during the meetings, a good choice to help with the work.

Jan maintains a great personal blog, Can it happen here?, a blend of personal observations and liberal comment. Her latest post on Nicaraguan children, a nice collection of photos that includes some of the same subjects I photographed while visiting Tierra Amarilla. She is right, we met a lot of happy, smiling kids in Nicaragua, a good sign for the country.

TMT Controversy Article Roundup

I have been writing quite a bit about the TMT controversy lately. This has had several effects… I have had many kind comments from people across the island and even the globe. I am grateful that some have found my writings useful. My website traffic has multiplied, with daily traffic up about five times normal. This and the large number of Facebook shares I have seen on some posts lets me know that I am not writing for the void, somebody is actually reading what I write. That is a little gratifying.

Summit and Winter Milky Way
The winter Milky Way over the summit of Mauna Kea
Why am I writing? People have asked me this and as I have realized, there is a good reason. Writing has become my way of thinking things through. In the process of composing a post I have to organize my thoughts, find references to back up my often faulty memory, find the words to express my feelings on the matter at hand. In the process of doing this I often find myself changing my own views on the subject. The skills of good writing, or in captivating oration, are the most challenging use of our language, and this language is the key to rational thought.

There is an art to composing a subject into a readable post, an art I am still a novice at. Maybe someday I will get better at it. Let me know if you have any suggestions on this.

Thanks!
Andrew

Recent TMT posts…

The 2014 DarkerView Review

In reading my friend Dean Ketelsen’s blog he reminded me that I have not yet assembled my usual year in review blog entry. Darker View is a blog, a web log of my life as blogs were originally invented.

As it is customary to use the new year’s holiday as a reason look back on the previous year I shall do just that. A chance to recall what adventures life has brought us, to remember the little victories, and hopefully not too many failures.

There were 434 blog entries for 2014 detailing a busy year. At least a few folks actually come by to read all of those posts, DarkerView had 69,694 view from 31,607 unique visitors. Looking through the top read posts of 2013 reveals some interesting points…

  1. Astrophotography with the EOS-M
  2. The iOptron ZEQ25
  3. Repairing a Wii Balance Board
  4. A Backyard Telescope Pier
  5. Autoguiding the iOptron ZEQ25 with an SBIG STi
  6. Starscape Photography
  7. Degrees, Arc-Minutes and Arc-Seconds
  8. SBIG ST-i Autoguider
  9. Mauna Kea Claims Another…
  10. Deep Violet, an 18″ f/4.5 Dobsonian
  11. Total Lunar Eclipse 14 April 2014
  12. Rebuilding a 12.5″ f/5 Truss Tube Dobsonian
  13. USB to ST-4 Autoguiding Adapter
  14. Canon EOS-M
  15. Rewiring a Celestron NexStar Telescope
  16. The Hotech CT Laser Collimator
  17. A Red LED Desk Lamp
  18. Shoveling Snow in a Tropical Paradise
  19. Visiting the Summit of Mauna Kea
  20. Elongations, Conjunctions and Oppositions
  21. A Second Try for the EOS-M
  22. Getting Focus Right

It is a surprise just how many of these articles were written before 2014, at least two of these articles are from the old Whitethorn House website, well over a decade old! The telescope making posts make up most of these older, well read articles. It is clear that folks are using DarkerView for reference, finding these old articles in the search engines. Hopefully they are still useful.

Removing the pre-2014 posts from the list dramatically shortens it…

  1. Starscape Photography
  2. Total Lunar Eclipse 14 April 2014
  3. The Hotech CT Laser Collimator
  4. Shoveling Snow in a Tropical Paradise
  5. Visiting the Summit of Mauna Kea
  6. Getting Focus Right

I am not sure that this is good. Is my writing falling off? Or does my older work just have staying power that it continues to serve a use for readers. This will be interesting to watch as I start another year of blogging. DarkerView is here to stay.

Down Hard!!

I did not know until I got message from a couple friends with my morning e-mail, including one from my Dad… The website is down. I go to look to find that DarkerView is down hard, 403 Error!!

I have changed nothing in the basic website for months, at least nothing on the configuration side. With WordPress installed all I generally do is post using the WP admin tools. Everything was there, I could FTP into the site, all the configurations stuff looked right, there was no response when HTTP protocol was used. I poked about a little at the problem, but could see no reason why the site would be down.

It was not until later, around lunch, that I was able to call GoDaddy tech support and see what they could make of the problem. I expected a quick fix, something that could be done in a couple minutes. This was not to be, they could not figure it out either. The gal I was speaking to kept bringing in even more senior techs to look at the problem. It was nearly 45 minutes on the phone, usually on hold, with nothing resolved. At least I could work on a document at my desk between answering questions about the site.

They finally just gave up. At least they would give up on my hosting account. The solution was to create a new hosting account and copy everything over. A little later that evening, on a friend’s iPad at the Keck public lecture, that I found that DarkerView was back online. Of course I find a slew of automatic emails in my inbox welcoming me to GoDaddy hosting.

GoDaddy has great tech support. I rarely need to use them, the service is very stable, but when you do call you get a human (who speaks English!) and they generally know what they are doing. One way or another they fix the problem.

Thanks for letting me know about the site crash… At least I know that someone reads my blog!