Work

  • Finished off the work to change our Elasticsearch indices to use only a single type, because Elasticsearch 6 hates types or something. I also discovered that jq is a neat little tool. Here’s a script I used to verify that the number of each type of document in our Elasticsearch 2 and Elasticsearch 5 indices match:

    for index in page-traffic metasearch govuk government detailed; do
      for doctype in aaib_report asylum_support_decision best_bet business_finance_support_scheme \
                     cma_case contact countryside_stewardship_grant dfid_research_output drug_safety_update \
                     edition employment_appeal_tribunal_decision employment_tribunal_decision \
                     european_structural_investment_fund export_health_certificate hmrc_manual \
                     hmrc_manual_section international_development_fund maib_report manual manual_section \
                     medical_safety_alert page-traffic policy raib_report residential_property_tribunal_decision \
                     service_manual_guide service_manual_topic service_standard_report tax_tribunal_decision \
                     utaac_decision statutory_instrument; do
        es2_count=`curl http://localhost:9200/$index/$doctype/_count 2>/dev/null | jq .count`
        es5_count=`curl "http://elasticsearch5/$index/generic-document/_count?q=document_type:$doctype" 2>/dev/null | jq .count`
        if [[ "$es2_count" != "$es5_count" ]]; then
          echo "$index : $doctype"
          echo "    es2: $es2_count"
          echo "    es5: $es5_count"
          echo
        fi
      done
    done
    

    The | jq .count bit extracts the count field of the top-level object from stdin. This is better than my previous approach of pretty-printing the json with json_pp and then using sed.

  • Fixed some flakey tests. Debugging a test which nondeterministically fails isn’t the most glamorous or exciting work, but it sure beats re-running your tests until they pass.

  • Provisioned the Elasticsearch 5 cluster in our staging and production environments. We’re planning to switch over the licence-finder first, ideally early next week, as it only uses Elasticsearch in a very small way. Unlike the main GOV.UK search, we’re not planning to run two licence-finders in parallel to do a zero-downtime switch: it isn’t used particularly much, so we can tolerate the 20s or so of downtime it will take to switch to the new cluster and reindex its data.

Miscellaneous

  • I rewrote my backup scripts to use duplicity and wrote about them.

  • I’ve been toying with the idea of a GOV.UK to Gopher bridge ever since I learned GOV.UK has an API. Unfortunately, the GOV.UK API gives the page body as rendered HTML, and I didn’t want to parse HTML. On Saturday I stumbled across the html2text Python library, which turns HTML into Markdown. After a few hours work, I came up with govuk-gopher. It currently supports:

    That’s far from all of them, but it’s enough to browse most of the “mainstream” (stuff not under www.gov.uk/government/) GOV.UK content.

    There’s a demo on asciinema, and the source is on github.

  • I realised that there are two ways to model a credit card in a plain-text accounting tool, like hledger which I use. The first way, and the way I use, is to treat the money spent on the card as a liability:

    2019-02-01 Spending some money on my credit card
        expenses:ducks                                                       £100.00
        liabilities:creditcard
    2019-03-01 Spending some more money on my credit card
        expenses:geese                                                       £100.00
        liabilities:creditcard
    
    ; $ hledger balance -H creditcard
    ;             £-200.00  liabilities
    ;             £-200.00    creditcard
    ; --------------------
    ;             £-200.00

    The card has a negative balance (the total amount you’ve spent).

    The second way is to treat the money remaining on the card as an asset:

    2019-01-01 Got a new credit card
        assets:creditcard                                                  £10000.00
        liabilities:creditcard
    2019-02-01 Spending some money on my credit card
        expenses:ducks                                                       £100.00
        assets:creditcard
    2019-03-01 Spending some more money on my credit card
        expenses:geese                                                       £100.00
        assets:creditcard
    
    ; $ hledger balance -H creditcard
    ;             £9800.00  assets
    ;             £9800.00    creditcard
    ;           £-10000.00  liabilities
    ;           £-10000.00    creditcard
    ; --------------------
    ;             £-200.00

    The card has a positive balance (the total amount remaining), which can be added to the liability (from where you took the original balance) to see how much you owe.

    In a sense the asset approach is better, because it gives you more information: how much balance is remaining. But in practice I think that could encourage you to spend more, so it may not be a good thing to know after all. I’ll be sticking with the liability approach.

  • I read Authority and Acceptance, the latter two books of the Southern Reach trilogy. Authority is about the Southern Reach, the shadowy government organisation which investigates Area X, and its new director; Acceptance switches between the perspectives of different characters, in different places and times. It’s hard to say more without spoiling anything, so I won’t. They were pretty good, I enjoyed the trilogy as a whole.