accentchar: a command-line utility to apply Russian stress marks

I’ve written a lot about applying and removing syllabic stress marks in Russian text because I use it a lot when making Anki cards.

This iteration is a command line tool for applying the stress mark at a particular character index. The advantage of these little shell tools is that they can be composable, integrating into different tools as the need arises.


while getopts i:w: flag
    case "${flag}" in
        i) index=${OPTARG};;
        w) word=${OPTARG};;

if [ $word ]; then
    read temp

for (( i=0; i<${#temp}; i++ )); do
    if [ $i -eq $index ]; then
        thischar=$(echo $thischar | perl -C -pe 's/(.)/\1\x{301}/g;')

echo $outword

We can use it in a couple different ways. For example, we can provide all of the arguments in a declarative way:

➜  cli accentchar -i 1 -w 'кошка'

Or we can pipe the word to accentchar and supply only the index as an argument:

➜  cli echo "кошка" | accentchar -i 1

sterilize-ng: a command-line URL sterilizer

Introducing sterilize-ng [GitHub link] - a URL sterilizer made to work flexibily on the command line.


The surveillance capitalist economy is built on the relentless tracking of users. Imagine going about town running errands but everywhere you go, someone is quietly following you. When you pop into the grocery, they examine your receipt. They look into the bags to see what you bought. Then they hop in the car with you and keep careful records of where you go, how fast you drive, whom you talk with on the phone. This is surveillance capitalism - the relentless “digital exhaust” left by our actions online.

The techniques employed by surveillance capitalists are multifold, but one of the easiest to fix is the pollution of URLs with tracking parameters. If you visit a link on Facebook by clicking on it, you are actually giving up a wealth of information about yourself unnecessarily. Here’s a typical outgoing link that you would find on Facebook:

What is all this extra garbage that Facebook attachs to the actual link? Who knows? Somehow Facebook uses this to track your online behaviour. Otherwise, they would just display the actual link, which is quite simply:

When you click on a link in Facebook or on Google1 search results, these surveillance capitalists use tracking parameters to follow you around the web, serve ads to you and generally spy on you. The problem in avoiding this sort of surveillance is that they don’t show you their god-awful links transparently. Instead they silently attach all this garbage and hope you won’t notice.


This was developed on macOS but the much of the code should work as-is on Linux, but I don’t have a system to test it on. On macOS, I would suggest installing Homebrew so that you can leverage proxychains-ng (installed via Homebrew.) Using proxychains, you can anonymize the expansion of shortened links. If proxychains-ng is not installed, the script will just expand the shortned links without hiding behind proxies.


I’ve made use of by installing in a Keyboard Maestro macro. I right click on a link, copy it to the clipboard, and invoke the KM macro. Then I just paste the sterilized link into a browser. Not as easy as just clicking links; but it’s safer and I feel like I’m doing my part to thwart surveillance capitalism.

This is a work in progress. You can find the repository at GitHub: Feel free to fork the repo and adapt to your needs. Pull requests are welcome.


You can run a test suite of sorts by loading links in the test_links_sterilize.csv file. These are just pairs of URLs - original (unsterile) and sterilized links. To use the testing facility, run

  1. Why are you still using Google? Seriously, change your search engine to Duck Duck Go. ↩︎

Using Perl in Keyboard Maestro macros

One of the things that I love about Keyboard Maestro is the ability to chain together disparate technologies to achieve some automation goal on macOS. In most of my previous posts about Keyboard Maestro macros, I’ve used Python or shell scripts, but I decided to draw on some decades-old experience with Perl to do a little text processing for a specific need. Background I want this text from Wiktionary: to look like this:

Stripping Russian stress marks from text from the command line

Russian text intended for learners sometimes contains marks that indicate the syllabic stress. It is usually rendered as a vowel + a combining diacritical mark, typically the combining acute accent \u301. Here are a couple ways of stripping these marks on the command line: First is a version using Perl #!/bin/bash f='покупа́ешья́'; echo $f | perl -C -pe 's/\x{301}//g;' And then another using the sd tool: #!/bin/bash f='покупа́ешья́'; echo $f | sd "\u0301" "" Both rely on finding the combining diacritical mark and removing it with regex.

Splitting a string on the command line - the search for the one-liner

It seems like the command line is one of those places where you can accomplish crazy efficient things with one-liners. Here’s a perfect use case for a CLI one-liner: In Anki, I often add lists of synonyms and antonyms to my vocabulary cards, but I like them formatted as a bulleted list. My usual route to that involves Markdown. But how to convert this: известный, точный, определённый, достоверный to - `известный` - `точный` - `определённый` - `достоверный` After trying to come up with a single text replacement strategy to make this work, the best I could do was this:

A Keyboard Maestro macro to edit Anki sound file

Often when I import a pronunciation file into Anki, from Forvo for example, the volume isn’t quite right or there’s a lot of background noise; and I want to edit the sound file. How? The solution for me, as it often the case is a Keyboard Maestro macro. Prerequisites Keyboard Maestro - if you are a macOS power user and don’t have KM, then your missing on a lot. Audacity - the multi-platform FOSS audio editor Outline of the approach Since Keyboard Maestro won’t know the path to our file in Anki’s collection.

Querying the Anki database when the application is running

When the Anki application is open on the desktop, it places a lock on the sqlite3 database such that it can’t be queried by another process. One workaround is to try to open the database and if it fails, then make a temporary copy and query that. Of course, this only works with read-only queries. Here’s the basic strategy: #!/usr/local/bin/python3 # -*- coding: utf-8 -*- # requires python >= 3.8 to run because of anki module from anki import Collection, errors if __name__ == "__main__": try: col = Collection(path_to_anki_db) except (errors.

Normalizing spelling in Russian words containing the letter ё

The Russian letters ё and e have a complex and troubled relationship. The two letters are pronounced differently, but usually appear the same in written text. This presents complications for Russian learners and for text-to-speech systems. In several recent projects, I have needed to normalize the spelling of Russian words. For examples, if I have the written word определенно , is the word actually определенно ? Or is it определённо ?

Scraping Russian word definitions from Wikitionary: utility for Anki

While my Russian Anki deck contains around 27,000 cards, I’m always making more. (There are a lot words in the Russian language!) Over the years, I’ve become more and more efficient with card production but one of the missing pieces was finding a code-readable source of word definitions. There’s no shortage of dictionary sites, but scraping data from any site is complicated by the ways in which front-end developers spread the semantic content across multiple HTML tags arranged in deep and cryptic hierarchies.

Encoding of the Cyrillic letter й - a UTF-8 gotcha

In the process of writing and maintaining a service that checks Russian word frequencies, I noticed peculiar phenomenon: certain words could not be located in a sqlite database that I knew actually contained them. For example, a query for the word - английский consistently failed, whereas other words would succeed. Eventually the commonality between the failures became obvious. All of the failures contained the letter й , which led me down a rabbit hole of character encoding and this specific case where it can go astray.