Using sed to extract HTTP headers

Today I needed to take a HTTP request and extract the etag header; the etag was used as part of an MVCC implementation in a service I was using and I wanted to script an update to a resource. I was doing this in a Makefile so wanted to do this without firing up a scripting language.

It turns out this is the domain of tools like sed. sed stands for stream editor. It applies scripts to text streams which edit the content of the stream. When you watch someone using sed, the scripts look super-cryptic, but in fact they’re not too bad. Like a regular expression, they benefit from reading left to right; when viewed as a whole they are just a mess. In fact, half of a sed script is often a regular expression!

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Querying Cloudant: what are stale, update and stable?

tl;dr If you are using stale=ok in queries to Cloudant or CouchDB 2.x, you most likely want to be using update=false instead. If you are using stale=update_after, use update=lazy instead.

This question has come up a few times, so here’s a reference to what the situation is with these parameters to query requests in Cloudant and CouchDB 2.x.

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What is docker?

When I first came across docker a few years ago, probably late 2014, so a year after it was introduced at PyCon during 2013, I found it a confusing concept. “Like GitHub, but for containers” was a phrase that I recall from that period, which I think ended up causing a lot of my confusion – I conflated Docker Hub with docker the tool.

Since then, I’ve learned more about docker, particularly in the last year. I think that things started to click around a year ago, and over the past few months as I’ve looked further into Kubernetes and written my own pieces of software destined for container deployment I’ve formed my own mental model of where docker fits into my world. This post is about my writing that down to understand its coherency.

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Cloudant replication topologies and failover

Cloudant’s (and CouchDB’s) replication feature allows you to keep databases in sync across countries and continents. However, sometimes it’s not obvious how to use this basic pair-wise feature in order to create more complicated replication topologies, like three or more geographical replicas, and then how to do disaster recovery between them. Let’s discuss these in turn.

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Avoiding Cloudant's HTTP Siren's Call

I was browsing Cloudant questions on Stackoverflow last night and came across a question about how to securely access Cloudant from directly from a browser. Summarising:

How do I securely pass my database credentials to the browser without the user being able to see them?

Over my time at Cloudant I’ve been asked variants of this questions many times. It makes me think that Cloudant and CouchDB’s HTTP interface is a bit of a siren’s call, luring unwary travellers onto security rocks.

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