New Not-Not AI-based Web Service Anti-DDoS Code Project: Visit-At-Your-Peril™

 Preventing Web Crawlers From Disrupting My Self-Hosted Web Services

I've found that a few major web crawl bots, none of which honour robots.txt, keep crawling my Gogs repos as well as my bacillus CI server wasting all sorts of bandwidth (and accidentally clicking links that activate things on some of my test projects! Well, that is, until I started blocking certain UserAgents...)

I've automated adding them to my iptables ban list: If you're NOT not an evil web bot, don't NOT visit my wonderful new code project at! This innovative program, using the latest AI techniques based on ChatGPT and Gemini, is a new model that intelligently not-unblocks all not-not-web bots based on their not-staying-away from it.

You have NOT been not warned. :P


An APL Translation of 'Square Joy: Trapped Rainwater' J Posting

 I saw an interesting post entitled "Square Joy: Trapped Rainwater" on the mmapped blog, describing how to approach the problem of computing water levels in a 2D Flatland cityscape.

The configuration of bars with heights 0, 1, 0, 2, 1, 0, 1, 3, 2, 1, 2, 1, and the water trapped by this configuration.

The author uses J, so I thought I'd take a quick look at converting the basic computation into its parent language, APL. Turns out it's quite simple (minus the graphic representation which I haven't yet looked at doing in GNU APL).

J has the  /\. adverb ('suffix'), here applied to the 'insert' (/) which it shares with APL. APL must simulate it via two applications of the reversal (⌽) function:

      H ← 0 1 0 2 1 0 1 3 2 1 2 1
0 1 1 2 2 2 2 3 3 3 3 3
      ⌽⌈\⌽H    ⍝ Note the use of 'reversal' here (⌽) with insert (/) to match J's 'suffix scan'
3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 2 2 2 1
      (⌈\H) ⌊ (⌽⌈\⌽H)
0 1 1 2 2 2 2 3 2 2 2 1

Maybe later I'll try to create the visual renderings in GNU APL to match what the J solution does.


String Interpolation in APL -- Formatted string output ala printf()

This is not as sophisticated as C's printf() of course, but it's enough for many uses.

  ∇r ← s sInterp sv
⍝⍝ Interpolate items in sv into s (string field substitution)
⍝ s: string - format string, '∆' used for interpolation points
⍝ sv: vector - vector of items to interpolate into s
⍝ r: interpolated string
  s[('∆'=s)/⍳⍴s] ← ⊃¨(⍕¨sv)
  r ← ∊s
      'Mary had a ∆ lamb, its fleece was ∆ as ∆.' sInterp 'little' 'black' 'night'
Mary had a little lamb, its fleece was black as night.
      'Mary had a ∆ lamb, its fleece was ∆ as ∆.' sInterp 'little' 'large' 42
Mary had a little lamb, its fleece was large as 42.


A Recursive Depth-First Maze Generator in GNU APL is a great place to grab little ideas and apply them to learning a new language; especially if there isn't a solution there yet in the language you're learning! This past week I took some spare time in the evenings to implement the classic maze generator problem, in GNU APL.


  • Sometimes just manipulating the string representation of a maze is easier than trying to come up with a clever binary representation (I started with the idea that each maze cell's walls could be a 4-bit field, eg. nsew = [3210], but the shared walls between cells made it too messy);
  • GNU APL's ? (shuffle) operator appears to have a static seed and the docs don't clearly state how to seed it: the ⎕RL system variable has the shuffle op's internal state so assigning to it will seed the PRNG, eg:

⎕RL ← +/ ⎕TS ⍝⍝ Seed ⎕RL (?) PRNG with sum of timestamp Y, M, D, H, M, S, ms

#!/usr/local/bin/apl --script --
⍝                                                                    ⍝
⍝ mazeGen.apl                          2022-01-07  19:47:35 (GMT-8)  ⍝
⍝                                                                    ⍝

  ⍝⍝ Seed the internal PRNG used by APL ? operator
  ⎕RL ← +/ ⎕TS   ⍝⍝ Not great... but good enough

∇offs ← cellTo dir
  ⍝⍝ Return the offset (row col) to cell which lies in compass (dir)
  offs ← ∊((¯1 0)(0 1)(1 0)(0 ¯1))[('nesw'⍳dir)]

∇doMaze rc
  ⍝⍝ Main function
  0 0 mazeGen rc      ⍝⍝ Do the maze gen
  m                   ⍝⍝ output result

∇b ← m isVisited coord;mr;mc
  →( ∨/ (coord[1] < 1) (coord[2] < 1) )/yes
  →( ∨/ (coord > ⌊(⍴m)÷2) )/yes
  b ← ' ' ∊ m[2×coord[1];2×coord[2]]

∇c mazeGen sz ;dirs;c;dir;cell;next
  →(c≠(0 0))/gen
  c ← ?sz[1],?sz[2]
  m ← mazeInit sz
  cell ← c
  dirs ← 'nesw'[4?4]
  m[2×c[1];2×c[2]] ← ' '  ⍝ mark cell as visited
  dir ← dirs[1]
  next ← cell + cellTo dir
  →(m isVisited next)/dir2
  m ← m openWall cell dir
  next mazeGen sz
  dir ← dirs[2]
  next ← cell + cellTo dir
  →(m isVisited next)/dir3
  m ← m openWall cell dir
  next mazeGen sz
  dir ← dirs[3]
  next ← cell + cellTo dir
  →(m isVisited next)/dir4
  m ← m openWall cell dir
  next mazeGen sz
  dir ← dirs[4]
  next ← cell + cellTo dir
  →(m isVisited next)/done
  m ← m openWall cell dir
  next mazeGen sz

∇m ← mazeInit sz;rows;cols;r
  ⍝⍝ Init an ASCII grid of size (rows cols) which
  ⍝⍝ has all closed and unvisited cells:
  ⍝⍝  +-+
  ⍝⍝  |.|
  ⍝⍝  +-+
  ⍝⍝ @param sz - tuple (rows cols)
  ⍝⍝ @return m - a (rows × cols) ASCII matrix

  (rows cols) ← sz
  r ← ∊ (cols ⍴ ⊂"+-" ),"+"
  r ← r,∊ (cols ⍴ ⊂"|." ),"|"
  r ← (rows,(⍴r))⍴r
  r ← ((2×rows),(1+2×cols))⍴r
  r ← r⍪ (∊ (cols ⍴ ⊂"+-" ),"+")
  m ← r

∇r ← m openWall cellAndDir ;ri;ci;rw;cw;row;col;dir
  (row col dir) ← ∊cellAndDir
  ri ← 2×row
  ci ← 2×col
  (rw cw) ← (ri ci) + cellTo dir
  m[rw;cw] ← ' '   ⍝ open wall in (dir)
  r ← m


doMaze 9 9

russtopia@rlm-devuan:~/GNUAPL$ workspaces/mazeGen.apl 
|     |       |   |
+-+ + +-+-+ + +-+ +
|   |       |   | |
+ +-+-+-+-+-+-+ + +
|     |     | | | |
+-+-+ +-+ + + + + +
|   |   | |   |   |
+ + +-+-+ +-+-+-+ +
| | |   |       | |
+ +-+ + + +-+ +-+ +
| |   |   |   |   |
+ + +-+-+-+ + + +-+
| |   |   | | | | |
+ +-+ + +-+ +-+ + +
|   | | |   |   | |
+ +-+ + + +-+ +-+ +
|       |         |


Parsing script arguments in GNU APL (⎕ARG)

In scripting languages one often wants to run the overall script like a standalone program, with a top 'main' function, yet also allow the script to be read into the REPL for editing, testing interactively and so on.

In Python a common way to do this is by checking the __main__ variable to determine execution scope.

GNU APL has the --script switch to enable invoking a .APL file and immediately executing it. In standard UNIX fashion the -- switch is also useful to divide GNU APL arguments (those for the interpreter itself) from those intended for the script. Using these two bits of information one can do the same thing in APL:

#!/usr/bin/env apl --script --

    ⍝⍝ Whatever the script should do by default when run from shell
    ⎕←'This is an APL script'

⍝ Parse args & run 'main' if not in REPL mode
⍝ in REPL mode, ⎕ARG[1] is the script path itself
⍝ (Recalling that by default, ⎕IO = 1)
    args←(⎕ARG⍳⊂"--")↓⎕ARG ⍝ Drop all args up to and including "--"
    →(~(⊂'--script')∊⎕ARG)/0 ⍝ If "--script" not present, quit to allow REPL
    ⍝⍝ ⎕←"[",args[1],"]" ⍝ (just debugging to see args)
    scriptFunction ⍎∊args[2] ⍝ in --script mode, so run default func

checkMode ⍝⍝ check the ⎕ARG vector for --script mode


A Hexadecimal Pronunciation Guide, by Robert A. Magnuson - Datamation Vol. 14, No. 1, Jan 1968

I recall discussing with a fellow CS student many years ago the topic of how speaking hexadecimal values seemed to be.. well, clunky. We both thought it strange no one had standardized a set of word stems like we have for the base ten numerals, 'teens', 'fortieth', and so on. All these years later I discovered, as it turns out, someone did. It just didn't catch on, for some reason.

An obscure article in Datamation, Vol. 14, No. 1 dated January, 1968 (alternate link, contains an article by one Robert A. Magnuson, proposing an extension to English number pronunciation for hexadecimal:

Table 2. New Names for Hexadecimal Digits
A ann
B bet
C chris
D dot
E ernest
F frost
The pronunciation of the -teen's and -ty's for the new
digits is shown in Table 3. Note that the analog of the decimal pronunciation system has been used. The new name for each new digit has been chosen so that at least one of the -teen and -ty modifications is familiar sounding.

Table 3. -Teen and -Ty Pronunciation for the New Digits

1 A annteen
1 B betteen
1 C christeen
1 D dotteen
1 E ernesteen
1 F frosteen
A0 annty
B0 betty
C0 christy
D0 dotty
E0 ernesty
F0 frosty

Now 29's successor 2A can be pronounced "twenty-
ann" without the slightest tendency to confuse it with 28.
The pronunciation of C4 is "christy-four," and that of A4
is "annty-four." There is no problem in distinguishing
between 1A, "annteen" and 18, "eighteen." And 88, 8A,
A8, and AA are easily distinguished when pronounced
"eighty-eight," "eighty-ann," "annty-eight," and "annty-

Some two-digit hex numbers, each representing one byte, appear with their new pronunciations in Table 4.

Table 4. One-Byte Strings with Pronunciation
2F twenty-frost
F2 frosty-two
5B fifty-bet
3E thirty-ernest
AF annty-frost

Some four-digit hex numbers, each representing two
bytes, appear with their new pronunciations in Table 5.

Table 5. Two-Byte Strings with Pronunciation
A01C annty christeen
1ED0 ernesteen dotty
A007 annty oh-seven
DEAF dotty-ernest annty-frost
3A7D thirty·ann seventy-dot
47F0 forty-seven frosty

The problem of the values of the added digits being off
by one is now easily solved. Merely remember the "ages"
of these new-found friends. Learn that ann is 10, bet is
11, etc. without becoming confused with the fact that A
is associated with 1, B with 2, etc.

The problems of some of the hex digits being NUMERIC
and the others ALPHA on the model 29 keypunch is solved
in the following fashion. Select a particular finger of the
left hand, say, the little finger. No other finger of the left
hand is to be used. The home position of that left little
finger is on the NUMERIC key. The right hand is used for
typing 0-9 and the (numeric) comma while the left little
finger holds down the NUMERIC key. When· A - F arise,
they are typed with the left little finger-thus ensuring
that the NUMERIC key is not depressed. Return the left
finger to the home position on the NUMERIC key imme-
diately upon finishing A-F.



APL Keyboard Sticker Set

APL Keyboard Stickers for Laptop or Desktop

APL uses a special symbol set, which presents a barrier to entry for new users. Furthermore, there don't seem to be many options to get a keyboard with APL symbols, other than expensive specialty ones (here or here), and they're for PC desktops only; so what's a laptop user to do?

I figured I'd take matters into my own hands, and produce a run of APL keyboard stickers. These match the standard APL keyboard map used by historical APL implementations as well as GNU APL and Dyalog APL. I got the shipment at end of August, 2021, and they look pretty good on my laptop. Now available on my Tindie store. Check it out!

Black vinyl keycap stickers, suitable for any standard laptop or PC desktop keyboard.

To use these you'll need to set a custom keymap. For Linux, See my post here. For Windows, see here, here and finally here.

With some trivial setup, modern systems have no issue at all supporting APL symbols. I wonder if its successor, J, would have even come to be if the APL character set wasn't seen as an impediment prior to the 2000s. As a newcomer to APL and J, comparing the two, J just seems so much harder to parse as it uses ASCII exclusively; it looks a lot more like line noise to me whereas APL encourages seeing a unique notation.