Rebuilding Cagiva Raptor 125 for Moto Gymkhana

Two-stroke bikes

Let’s get one thing straight: I’m not a mechanic and will unlikely become one. I’m not a racer and will unlikely become one, either. That doesn’t prevent me from adoring state-of-the-art machines, namely the two-stroke race motorcycles.

Two-stroke engines are up to two times more powerful than equally-sized four-stroke engines (used in all cars and most motorcycles), but their power is only available at a narrow range of revolutions per minute. Their beauty comes in the form of powerful but smaller, lighter, and more agile motorcycles which are complex to drive. Two-strokes have a steep learning curve, but I didn’t get into bikes to get from point A to point B in the most convenient manner, so I don’t mind.

Here is a power graph of two-stroke and four-stroke motorcycles of the same engine size at different rotation speeds.

Yamaha YZ250F four-stroke dynamometer test, property of
Yamaha YZ250F four-stroke dynamometer test, property of

Beta 250RR two-stroke dynamometer test, property of
Beta 250RR two-stroke dynamometer test, property of

How to set up Remark42 using Public Cloud

This post is a short guide on hosting a privacy-focused comment system Remark42 on a virtual machine in the cloud for free or a small monthly fee.

Prague, Riegrovy sady, June 2022: photo by Ksenia Gulyaeva
Prague, Riegrovy sady, June 2022: photo by Ksenia Gulyaeva

Obtaining a virtual machine instance in the public cloud

Follow one of the instructions below to obtain an instance. At the end of the setup process, generate an SSH key and download it to your machine. The default location to store the private part of the key on Mac and Linux is ~/.ssh/id_rsa. You’ll need to use that key to connect to that instance using SSH during the next step.

Oracle Cloud, free

Register (requires credit card details) first. Then, create an instance there: you should pick a machine type Ampere “VM.Standard.A1.Flex” with 4 CPUs and 24GB of RAM. Initially, you would have a free trial for many resources, but that machine would be free and remain free for you for the time being.

In case you need more machines for other purposes, you can run up to four with 1 CPU and 6Gb of RAM each, as long as the total number of CPUs and RAM amount fits the number above. Oracle Linux is the default OS there, but you can pick something else like Ubuntu if you wish.

Preparing technical feedback for Individual Contributors

Sporadically, I have to provide written technical feedback to my colleagues, some of whom I didn’t interact with much but used their services regularly, or I happen to have just the right expertise to estimate their work quality and impact.

I review the traces of their work I can find for the period a colleague requested the feedback (six or twelve months usually) and try my best to identify the work’s scope, intention, and impact. Here is a list of things I take into consideration:

  1. Pull Requests made by the person:
    • for GitLab
    • for GitHub
  2. Pull Requests reviewed by the person:
    •[]=USERNAME for GitLab
    • for GitHub
  3. Wiki\documentation changes made by the person. In particular, checking the difference between the document before and after the changes is extremely useful for the review.
  4. If the above information is not enough, the ticket system like Jira, as a last resort. Usually, filtering resolved tickets assigned to the person is enough.

Written artefacts play a significant role in performance evaluations and promotions in the Big Tech (Meta, Google, Microsoft). Providing feedback is a great way to help a colleague receive deserved recognition from the company.

Amsterdam, Walenpleintje street, June 2022: photo by Ksenia Gulyaeva
Amsterdam, Walenpleintje street, June 2022: photo by Ksenia Gulyaeva

System Design interview preparation resources

Recently I was asked to help prepare for the developer to SRE transition by two people, and here is the list of resources I recommended to them:

  1. The System Design Primer - I propose going through the Readme starting with a section “System Design topics start here”, and then going into examples. That way, you’ll know which components can be used as building blocks and their tradeoffs.

  2. Monitoring Distributed Systems and Service Level Objectives chapters of Site Reliability Engineering book

  3. Crack the System Design Interview

  4. Back of the Envelope Calculation for System Design Interviews

  5. Non-Abstract Large System Design from SRE Workbook is a very detailed example that thoughtfully explains the approach experienced SRE follows during the system design process

Going through these five links with enough attention should be enough to get a decent System Design knowledge fundamentals in general and prepare for the interview.

Consistent Hashing Sample Illustration
WikiLinuz, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons


Here is a solid cheatsheet on troubleshooting based on a Meta (Facebook) interview for a Production Engineer position.

SRE checklist

mxssl/sre-interview-prep-guide is a complete checklist for everything you should know as an SRE, except for the coding part. If you learn something about each point in that (a pretty extensive) list, you’re good to go for interviewing as an SRE to any Big Tech company, passing the hiring bar for technical interviews at FAANG.

A year of SRE work on a small Bitrix site

  1. Big problems on a small scale

  2. A year of SRE work on a small Bitrix site (this post)

In this post, you’ll learn what I learned over a year when I picked up responsibility for my father’s website commercial and technical success. Despite all my Site Reliability experience, I wasted plenty of time and effort due to not following two simple rules I already knew, which are don’t change the system without looking at the relevant data and graphs you identified as a target of a change in advance, and, the primary rule of any refactoring, avoid introducing multiple changes at once as they make results interpolation close to impossible.

Site speed

The website has a lot of decent content with SEO-friendly metadata, however, it did not have as good search engines positions as it deserved. One of the solid factors for search positions, especially for mobile users, is site loading speed. I thought it was the biggest problem I could fix to give the site an edge over competitors.

I assumed that replacing Apache with Nginx + php-fpm, enabling Nginx PageSpeed mod and upgrading the PHP version alongside checking the code for possible JS optimisations should speed the site up. The page readiness time graph below shows that part of the assumptions had the opposite effect of the desired one.

DOM load time from July 2020 to July 2021, 50th percentile

Percentiles: 50th | 75th | 90th | 95th

Big problems on a small scale

  1. Big problems on a small scale (this post)

  2. A year of SRE work on a small Bitrix site

My future is bright, but my present is dreadful. Aside from usual life problems, which I can’t do anything about, I’ve got a bunch I’m capable of resolving, and that turned out to be a challenge I could not cast away.

A bit of background

I’ve started helping my father’s small company of 13 people plus three contractors working on the site and its content when I’ve heard enough silly stories about problems with the company site. Three particular which enraged me the most were:

  • sitemap.xml not renewed for two months after migration to the new platform causing massive search engines traffic decrease
  • robots.txt for regional subdomains having Hostname directive pointing to the main site, effectively causing three sites to merge into a single one in the eyes of the search engines
  • the cherry on the cake, the Google Lighthouse website performance benchmark reliably shows 25-30 points out of 100

Philadelphia City Hall, March 2020: photo by Ksenia Gulyaeva
Philadelphia City Hall, March 2020: photo by Ksenia Gulyaeva

Site Reliability Engineering vs DevOps

Recently on many occasions, I’ve had to explain the difference between SRE and DevOps practitioners and thought it might be helpful to write it down.

DevOps are making developers happy by increasing development velocity.

Site Reliability Engineers are making business happy by providing meaningful and comprehensible visibility into technical systems’ health. The key is the ability to communicate risk in the same terms to both business and technical stakeholders.

Girlfriend experience

My girlfriend is working outside of IT but had an interest in programming and started learning C# and Xamarin framework two years ago, and around that time, she decided to create her own mobile game.

It was a long journey that changed her life somehow and soon will help her end up with the job of a programmer in another country.

The last step of writing a program is publishing it for the public, and I am glad to announce the game named Planet Parade is finally out for iOS and Android devices!

Planet Parade

It’s a Mastermind game with planets (and Pluto), it’s source code in C# available on GitHub, and I encourage you to try it out:)

Get it on AppStore Get it on Google Play

15 Hugo Framework blog themes

I’ve tested all 202 Hugo themes from the catalogue plus three missing from it for basic functionality and picked the best blog-oriented ones. By that, I mean all of them have blog posts shown on the main page, and most of them support posts tags.

All themes below have active developers, and I didn’t include 3-years-old themes without newer commits. I’ll present them in alphabetical order. They’re all fine quality and couldn’t be compared or ranked in any unified way I can think of.

How to build code remotely in Visual Studio Code

In Sublime Text, you could achieve remote code execution using the following code:

    "cmd": ["rsync -az '$file' && ssh 'chmod +x ./$file_name; ./$file_name'"],

In VSC same could be achieved using Tasks functionality. The difference is you couldn’t create global settings. Whatever you do will be saved in the project you’re working in. Another difference is you could write something in the console, and it will be sent over to the script’s STDIN, which is unachievable in Sublime Text.

To start, open your project task configuration file via Ctrl+P, >Configure Task Runner, Others. Then paste the following JSON text and customize it for yourself:

    // See
    // for the documentation about the tasks.json format
    "version": "2.0.0",
    "tasks": [
            "taskName": "",
            "command": "rsync -az '${file}' && ssh 'chmod +x ./${fileBasename}; ./${fileBasename}'",
            "type": "shell",
            "group": {
                "kind": "build",
                "isDefault": true

What will it do? Copy currently open file to server’s home (~) folder using rsync (non-verbose mode, add -v in case of trouble), then make it executable and run it via ssh.