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Month: October 2020

Posted on by Arnon Erba in Meta

It’s been about two years since my last meta post, so in keeping with tradition it would seem I’m due for another ground-up redesign of my blog and a retrospective post to go along with it. This time, though, I think I’ll skip the redesign and jump straight to the retrospective post.

I’ve written about the history of this blog before, and much of what I wrote in 2018 still holds true today. I’ve been blogging under the Arnon on Technology moniker for a while now and the past two years have seen the publication of some of my favorite posts. Still, I’ve managed to almost continuously break the cardinal rule of blogging by averaging, in many cases, less than a single post per month.

Why? To be honest, writing posts for this blog takes a lot of time. Some of the more in-depth how-to guides I’ve written have over a dozen hours invested in them and were composed over a period of weeks or months as time permitted. For example, I’ve been working on an article about Git off-and-on since February of this year, and it’s still far from complete. In some way, it’s a case of perfect being the enemy of good enough.

In the end, that’s OK, because this blog still isn’t about money or fame. I’ve never had the time or desire to pursue ad revenue and I’m not active on Twitter or other social media platforms. Instead, my main goal is to continue writing articles about poorly documented tech problems while giving back to the community of Internet bloggers who have helped me out time and again with similar niche issues.

For now, though, it’s time to finish a few more drafts.

Posted on by Arnon Erba in How-To Guides

On Windows and macOS, Stata can be configured to check for updates automatically with the set update_query command. However, there are a few drawbacks to this approach.

For one, this feature isn’t present on the Linux version of Stata. For two, this command doesn’t actually update Stata — it just enables update notifications. Stata will still need to be manually updated by someone with the permission to do so.

If you’re running Stata on a standalone Linux server or an HPC cluster, you may be interested in having Stata update itself without any user interaction. This is especially useful if Stata users do not have permission to update the software themselves, as is often the case on shared Linux systems.

We can enable true automatic updates with a cron job and a Stata batch mode hack:

0 0 * * 0 echo 'update all' | /usr/local/stata16/stata > /dev/null

Adding this line to root’s crontab will cause the update all command to be run every Sunday at 12am. Standard output is piped to /dev/null to prevent cron from sending unnecessary emails.

As always, think carefully before enabling automatic updates for mission-critical pieces of software. However, this approach can save time over updating Stata manually.