Update Outdated NPM Packages

NPM provides a command to check for outdated packages:

$ npm help outdated

However, by default, the command checks the entire dependency tree, not only the modules specified in package.json, but also the dependencies of those modules. If we only care about the top-level packages, we can add --depth option to show just that:

$ npm outdated --depth 0

This is similar to listing installed packages:

$ npm list --depth 0

Using the option, it will not print out the nested dependency tree, but only the top-level. The option is similar to tree -L 1, but zero indexed instead of one.

Another interesting thing about outdated command is the color coding in the output:

Use SSH Directly Instead of Vagrant SSH Command

Vagrant command vagrant ssh connects to the running virtual machine via SSH. SSH arguments can also be added:

$ vagrant ssh -h
Usage: vagrant ssh [options] [name] [-- extra ssh args]
-c, --command COMMAND Execute an SSH command directly
-p, --plain Plain mode, leaves authentication up to user
-h, --help Print this help

For example, execute a single command:

$ vagrant ssh -c date
Wed Dec 10 12:00:00 UTC 2014
Connection to closed.


$ vagrant ssh -- date
Wed Dec 10 12:00:00 UTC 2014

which prints no connection closed message.

Another example:

$ vagrant ssh -- 'cat /etc/hosts' localhost
# The following lines are desirable for IPv6 capable hosts
::1 ip6-localhost ip6-loopback
fe00::0 ip6-localnet
ff00::0 ip6-mcastprefix
ff02::1 ip6-allnodes
ff02::2 ip6-allrouters
ff02::3 ip6-allhosts

However, interactive applications cannot be used in this way:

$ vagrant ssh -- top
TERM environment variable not set.

Well, we already have a virtual machine running, we can just use SSH directly.


  1. What is Vagrant?
  2. What are the main features?
  3. Why do they build it?
  4. How would it benefit me?
  5. Where does this fit into the stack?

What is Vagrant?

Vagrant is a configuration management tool for creating, configuring, and managing complete development environments in virtual machine.

What are the main features?

Development environment version control

Configuration for setting up development environment is in code (Vagrantfile), so the development environment can be version controlled.

Consistent but distributed development environments

Consistent development environment, build one development environment, and distribute to the rest of the team. Create identical development environment for everyone on the team.

Distributed development environment, but linked by source control. “I like to think of Vagrant as the Git of development clouds. Centralized development and test environments create bottlenecks. Vagrant lets developers work at their own pace and in their own environment, while keeping all the environment synchronized with each other.” (By Jeff Sussna) [1].

Disposable computing resource

“Vagrant lowers development environment setup time, increases development/production parity, and brings the idea of disposable compute resources down to the desktop.” [1]

“At the end of the day, Vagrant can suspend, halt, or destroy the development environment, keeping the overall system clean. Never again can developers forget to shut down a stray server process and waste precious compute resources.” [1]

Simple development environment setup

Forget about README or INSTALL instructions, type vagrant up and you are good to go.

“Say goodbye to ‘works on my machine’ bugs.” [2] For designers, “no more bothering other developers to help you fix your environment so you can test designs. Just check out the code, vagrant up, and start designing.” [2]

LiveReload with BrowserSync and Gulp

In my previous blog post, I have written about how to use LiveReload Chrome extension, with Guard and some Ruby gems to make a web page automatically reload in a browser, Chrome browser to be specific. Just by reading this sentence, it already sounds like a complicated task. And indeed it is. Luckily, I have found a better solution: BrowserSync.

With LiveReload, you have to install browser extension, but BrowserSync uses Socket.io, so it can supports more than one browser at once. This is great for working with responsive design, where screens with different sizes are needed to be tested.

No need to install extension and support more than one browser are really big plus.

The following is a short instruction and some examples on how to use both BrowserSync and Gulp to automatically reload a web documentation page generated by Docco in any connected browser.

Statistics in November 2014

In November 2014, there are 836 unique visitors making 930 visits resulting in 1,091 pageviews, about 36 daily pageviews.

As today, my blog is still estimated by Alexa. It ranks my blog 911,093 globally and 183,366 in the United States.

Where are my visitors located?

34.09% of visits are from the United States, and the second place is from India with 7.20%.

Where do my visitors come from?

Google is the top traffic source with 83.98% of all visits. Social is almost non-existing.

What devices and operating systems are my visitors using?

43.76% are using Windows, then followed closely by Macintosh with 37.31%. 97.85% visitors are using desktop devices.

What is the top post?

The most popular post is Split a Large JSON File into Smaller Pieces, it is even popular than the site’s main index page.

How is my site speed?

The average page load time is 4.66 seconds. There is one sample coming from China resulted in almost 16 seconds of load time, ouch! That really drags down the average.

Is my blog getting more and more visitors?

Yes! The month-to-month gain is 11.32%, and year-to-year gain is 1,270.49%, more than a thousand fold. Well, I just got started by then.

Deregister iMessage

iMessage is an instant messenger service developed by Apple. It allows users to send free text between Apple devices. But if you leave the Apple ecosystem, then you might find yourself not able to receiving text messages.

Delete All Messages in an Amazon SQS Queue via AWS CLI

Amazon SQS or Simple Queue Service is a fast, reliable, scalable, fully managed message queuing service. There is also AWS CLI or Command Line Interface available to use with the service.

If you have a lot of messages in a queue, this command will show the approximate number:

$ aws sqs get-queue-attributes \
--queue-url $url \
--attribute-names ApproximateNumberOfMessages

Where $url is the URL to the Amazon SQS queue.

There is no command to delete all messages yet, but you can chain a few commands together to make it work:

Restart Upstart Instances on System Reboot

A single Upstart job can have multiple instances running:

$ sudo start my-job port=4000
$ sudo start my-job port=4001
$ sudo start my-job port=4002

However, when the operating system reboots, the job with multiple instances will fail to start, due to instance information is not provided to the job. We can fix this problem by adding a for loop in the script section:

start on (local-filesystems and net-device-up IFACE!=lo)
stop on shutdown
for i in `seq 4000 4002`
exec /path/to/my/job
end script

With this Upstart job, we do not need to provide instance information:

$ sudo start my-job

Therefore, during system restart, the job will initiate automatically.

Create a jq Docker Image with Automated Build

I have created a jq Docker image based on BusyBox with automated builds. BusyBox is really really small in size, so the jq image I have created is also very small, just a little over 6 MB.

Here is the source code and image repositories:

Building Docker image is pretty straight-forward, just follow the instruction:


I have also created a tag v1.4 in my GitHub repository to match the release of jq binary. This should also be reflected in Docker registry. After couple tries, here is the build details for adding both latest and 1.4 tags:

Type Name Dockerfile Location Tag Name
Tag v1.4 / 1.4
Branch master / latest

The first two columns match git branch and tag, and the last column reflects Docker tags. See https://github.com/realguess/docker-jq/tags and https://registry.hub.docker.com/u/realguess/jq/tags/manage/.

This is done by starting an automated build with type of tag instead of branch. Everything is done via the Docker Hub website.

If I pull down this repository:

$ docker pull realguess/jq

It should give me two image layers with the two different image IDs, which makes sense, as latest commit usually is not the same as the tagged one.

After a while, the index should be built, and I can search it via:

$ docker search jq
realguess/jq 1 [OK]

The image is listed as AUTOMATED, but the description is missing here in the search command.

There are two types of descriptions:

  • Short description
  • Full description

Full description will be generated automatically via README.md file. I thought the short description can also be generated via README-short.txt, however, this is not the case. You can add it in the settings page for example:


Automated builds are triggered automatically with GitHub and BitBucket repository. Once any commit is pushed to either repository, a trigger will be sent to Docker Hub, and automated build will start.