Firefox Add-on to skip mobile Wikipedia redirect

Skip Mobile Wikipedia on Firefox Add-ons

Lately, I've been reading Wikipedia on my phone significantly more than I used to. I get 15 minutes on the train each morning, which makes for some great reading time. But when I'm on my phone, Wikipedia redirects to the mobile website. I'm sure there are some people out there who love it, but it's not for me.

There's a "Desktop" button at the bottom of the page, but it's annoying and inconvenient. So I created my first Firefox Add-on, "Skip Mobile Wikipedia". It rewrites all requests to the mobile Wikipedia website to the standard canonical domain, and sets a cookie to prevent any further redirects. It works on the standard desktop Firefox and on Android.

Install the Add-on and view the source code.

My back to school free software toolkit

The 2018 spring semester started last Wednesday. I think I've set up a pretty good free software toolkit for a successful year:

  • Operating system: Fedora - latest software with stable releases
  • Browser: Firefox - what else? :-) Note that our school and most California universities and colleges have adopted the AGPL licensed Canvas learning management system, so usually my browser is running free JavaScript code too!
  • Documents/notes: LibreOffice - nearly all professors are fine with assignments being submitted as plain text or PDF, only a few want docx specifically. For professors that insist you need to use Times New Roman or fail the assignment - not a single one has noticed my usage of Liberation Serif.
  • Cloud storage: Nextcloud - I self-host a nextcloud instance that all my school documents are saved to. Additionally I have the Android app on my phone for convenient reading of notes while I'm on the train.
  • Photos: Shotwell - very simple photo organizer, though I would also like to become more proficient at darktable soon.
  • Email: Thunderbird - I have filters set up so all my school email gets filtered into a folder that I normally read first.

Total software cost: $0

MassMessage hits 1,000 commits

The MassMessage MediaWiki extension hit 1,000 commits today, following an update of the localization messages for the Russian language. MassMessage replaced a Toolserver bot that allowed sending a message to all Wikimedia wikis, by integrating it into MediaWiki and using the job queue. We also added some nice features like input validation and previewing. Through it, I became familiar with different internals of MediaWiki, including submitting a few core patches.

I made my first commit on July 20, 2013. It would get a full rollout to all Wikimedia wikis on November 19, 2013, after a lot of help from MZMcBride, Reedy, Siebrand, Ori, and other MediaWiki developers.

I also mentored User:wctaiwan, who worked on a Google Summer of Code project that added a ContentHandler backend to the extension, to make it easier for people to create and maintain page lists. You can see it used by The Wikipedia Signpost's subscription list.

It's still a bit crazy to think that I've been hacking on MediaWiki for over four years now, and how much it has changed my life in that much time. So here's to the next four years and next 1,000 commits to MassMessage!

Requiring HTTPS for my Toolforge tools

My Toolforge (formerly "Tool Labs") tools will now start requiring HTTPS, and redirecting any HTTP traffic. It's a little bit of common code for each tool, so I put it in a shared "toolforge" library.

from flask import Flask
import toolforge

app = Flask(__name__)

And that's it! Your tool will automatically be HTTPS-only now.

$ curl -I ""
HTTP/1.1 302 FOUND
Server: nginx/1.11.13
Date: Sat, 26 Aug 2017 07:58:39 GMT
Content-Type: text/html; charset=utf-8
Content-Length: 281
Connection: keep-alive
X-Clacks-Overhead: GNU Terry Pratchett

My DebConf 17 presentation - Bringing MediaWiki back into Debian

Full quality video available on Wikimedia Commons, as well as the slides.

I had a blast attending DebConf '17 in Montreal, and presented about my efforts to bring back MediaWiki into Debian. The talks I went to were all fantastic, and got to meet some amazing people. But the best parts about the conference was the laid-back atmosphere and the food. I've never been to another conference that had food that comes even close to DebConf.

Feeling very motivated, I have three new packages in the pipeline: LuaSandbox, uprightdiff, and libkiwix.

I hope to be at DebConf again next year!

My letter to the Boy Scouts of America

The following is a letter I just mailed to the Boy Scouts of America, following President Donald Trump's speech at the National Jamboree. I implore my fellow scouts to also contact the BSA to express their feelings.

25 July 2017

Boy Scouts of America
PO Box 152079
Irving, TX

Dear Boy Scouts of America,

Like many others I was extremely disappointed and disgusted to hear about the contents of President Donald Trump’s speech to the National Jamboree. Politics aside, I have no qualms with inviting the president, or having him speak to scouts. I was glad that some of the Eagle Scouts currently serving at high levels of our government were recognized for their accomplishments.

However above all, the Boy Scouts of America must adhere to the values of the Scout Law, and it was plainly obvious that the president’s speech did not. Insulting opponents is not “kindness”. Threatening to fire a colleague is not “loyal”. Encouraging boos of a former President is not “courteous”. Talking about fake news and media is not “trustworthy”. At the end of the day, the values of the Scout Law are the most important lesson we must instill in our youth – and President Trump showed the opposite.

The Boy Scouts of America must send a strong message to the public, and most importantly the young scouts that were present, that the president’s speech was not acceptable and does not embody the principles of the Boy Scouts of America.

I will continue to speak well of scouting and the program to all, but incidents like this will only harm future boys who will be dissuaded from joining the organization in the first place.

Kunal Mehta
Eagle Scout, 2012
Troop 294
San Jose, CA