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Oct 6, 2018 - 12 minute read - Comments - Go Not Security Lessons Learned

Gophercises - Lessons Learned

I recently finished Gophercises, a great set of Go practice lessons by Jon Calhoun. I think it took me around a month from start to finish with some stuff in the middle. Most were nice, some were tedious. For example, the last exercise was about PDF generation and went to boring quickly.

After every lesson, I wrote down "Lessons Learned" in the README. This page collects most of them. All code is here:


  • Read this: https://gobyexample.com/timers
  • Block with <-timerVar.C
  • Stop the timer with stop := timerVar.Stop()
    • If timer is stopped, stop will be true.
  • Stop doesn't unblock the channel. If you stop the timer, the channel will remain blocked.
    • Here's code based on gobyexample that will dead-lock if executed.
      package main
      import "time"
      import "fmt"
      func main() {
          timer2 := time.NewTimer(10 * time.Second)
          stop2 := timer2.Stop()
          if stop2 {
              fmt.Println("Timer 2 stopped")
    • Instead, use timerVar.Reset(0). This will stop the timer and unblock the channel.


  • https://golang.org/pkg/math/rand/#Shuffle
  • Remember to seed a rand object.
    • rnd := rand.New(rand.NewSource(time.Now().Unix()))
  • Needs a swap function of this type func(i, j int).
    • Inside the swap function (does not need to be named swap), do the swaps.
func (e *Exam) Shuffle() {
	rnd := rand.New(rand.NewSource(time.Now().Unix()))
	rnd.Shuffle(len(e.problems), func(i, j int) {
		e.problems[i], e.problems[j] = e.problems[j], e.problems[i]


JSON to Objects Mappings

Your best friend:

Maps to a []object or array of objects:

        "key1": "value1",
        "key2": "value2"
        "key1": "value3",
        "key2": "value4"

Maps to a map of [string]object

	"object1": {
		"key1": "value1",
		"key2": "value2"
	"object2": {
		"key1": "value3",
		"key2": "value4"




  • Read the package example: https://godoc.org/golang.org/x/net/html
  • Token struct:
    type Token struct {
        Type     TokenType
        DataAtom atom.Atom
        Data     string
        Attr     []Attribute
  • Type can give us information about what kind of token it is. Important ones for this exercise are:
    • StartTagToken: <a href>
    • EndTagToken: </a>
    • TextToken: Text in between. Using text nodes will skip other elements inside the link.
  • Data contains the data in the node.
    • Anchor tags: a.
    • Text nodes: The actual text of the node.
  • Attribute is of type:
    type Attribute struct {
        Namespace, Key, Val string
  • Key is the name of the attribute and Value is the value.
    • <a href="example.net">: key = href and value = example.net.


Strings are immutable, use this to append to strings for better efficiency.

var sb strings.Builder  // Create the builder.
sb.WriteString("whatever")  // Write to it. We can use fmt.Sprintf as param too.
return sb.String()  // Get the final string.

We can also pass one as a pointer as io.Writer. For example, json.NewEncoder(&sb).

io.Reader for string

Get an io.Reader from a string.

reader: = strings.NewReader("Whatever")


  • https://golang.org/pkg/net/url/
  • There are tons of great methods.
  • Convert a string to URL: Parse(rawurl string) (*URL, error)
  • URL will give you tons of utilities:
type URL struct {
    Scheme     string
    Opaque     string    // encoded opaque data
    User       *Userinfo // username and password information
    Host       string    // host or host:port
    Path       string    // path (relative paths may omit leading slash)
    RawPath    string    // encoded path hint (see EscapedPath method)
    ForceQuery bool      // append a query ('?') even if RawQuery is empty
    RawQuery   string    // encoded query values, without '?'
    Fragment   string    // fragment for references, without '#'
  • IsAbs() returns true if path is absolute.
  • Hostname() returns host and port.
  • Contents are case-sensitive.
  • Get the complete URL with URL.String().


  • var Discard io.Writer = devNull(0)

Break/Continue to Label

  • Really helps when inside a select which is inside an infinite loop.

  • Designate labels as usual.

  • break or continue to label.

        for {
            select {
            case whatever:
                // Do what you want
                break Mainloop

Range on string returns Runes

  • These runes must be converted to string before usage with string(ch)

String vs. Rune

  • "a" is a string, 'a' is a rune.
  • rune to string with string('a').
  • string to rune with rune("a").
  • string to int with int("a").


  • https://github.com/boltdb/bolt
    • Repository's README is a good guide to get started.
  • Key/Value store.
  • Create buckets first.
  • At the start of each transaction you need to get the buckets.
  • In general, values do not transfer between transactions. If you want do, you need to Copy slice of results to another variable to use it outside.

Using Time as Keys in BoltDB for Indexing

Read this:

key := []byte(time.Now().Format(time.RFC3339))

And later we can search with seek.

time.Add vs. time.Sub

Obviously, both support negative values.

Convert int Variable to time.Duration

You can multiple time.Duration by a constant (e.g. time.Hours * 2) but cannot multiply it by an int variable with value of 2 (e.g. time.Hours * n).

n needs to be converted to in64 and then passed to time.Duration(int64). For example, to go back n hours:

past := time.Now().Add(-time.Duration(int64(n)) * time.Hour)



  • Problem: panic: sql: unknown driver "sqlite3" (forgotten import?)
  • Solution: import _ "github.com/mattn/go-sqlite3"
  • Problem:
    # github.com/mattn/go-sqlite3
    exec: "gcc": executable file not found in %PATH%
  • Solution: Install https://sourceforge.net/projects/mingw-w64/.

Good examples:

Some troubleshooting:

  • Problem: "missing destination name" error when using Queryx and StructScan.
  • Solutions:
    • Struct fields must be exported.
    • Map the table columns to struct fields with db:"table-column".

Stringer package

Stringer package can generate String() for types. In this case, we can use it to make one for Suit and Value types.

  1. Add the following on top of the file with the types (in this case deck/card.go).
    • `//go:generate stringer -type=Suit,Value``
  2. Run go generate inside the deck directory.
  3. It will create a file named suit_string.go.
  4. Now we can call Suit.String() and it will return a string.


filepath.Walk can be used to traverse all files in a path recursively.

func Walk(root string, walkFn WalkFunc) error

root is the starting path and WalkFunc is a function that is called after visiting each file:

func(path string, info os.FileInfo, err error) error

os.FileInfo has a bunch of methods:

// A FileInfo describes a file and is returned by Stat and Lstat.
type FileInfo interface {
	Name() string       // base name of the file
	Size() int64        // length in bytes for regular files; system-dependent for others
	Mode() FileMode     // file mode bits
	ModTime() time.Time // modification time
	IsDir() bool        // abbreviation for Mode().IsDir()
	Sys() interface{}   // underlying data source (can return nil)

So to list everything in a directory (main0.go):

func main() {

	// Make a list of all files in sample.
	err := filepath.Walk("sample", walkWithMe0)
	if err != nil {

// walkWithMe0 returns info about files.
func walkWithMe0(file string, info os.FileInfo, err error) error {

	// Now we can do what we want with os.FileInfo.
	fmt.Printf("Visiting %v\n", info.Name())
	return nil

walkWithMe is good for listing things but bad for saving info. The easiest way to pass into out is using an anonymous (or inline) function.

func main() {

	// Make a list of all files in sample.
	err := filepath.Walk("sample", func(file string, info os.FileInfo, err error) error {

		// Now we can do what we want with os.FileInfo.
		fmt.Printf("Visiting %v\n", info.Name())
		return nil
	if err != nil {

Print Stacktrace

Custom http.ResponseWriter

See this:


Embed stuff in structs to use them.

type myRW struct {

Type Assertion

t, ok := i.(T)
if ok {
    // i.T is implemented and stored in T

http.Error Only Support Plaintext

When doing http.Error the result will be sent as text and not text/html.

Use fmt.Fprintf(w, ...) instead.


Already familiar because it's used in Hugo.

quick.Highlight sacrifices control but does things quickly:

quick.Highlight(os.Stdout, someSourceCode, "go", "html", "monokai")

For more control use formatter.Format(w io.Writer, s *Style, it Iterator):

// Highlighter is a more hands-on version of QuickHighlighter and comes with
// lines highlight support.
func Highlighter(fileName, source, style string, lineno int) (string, error) {
	// If styleText does not match any style, it will return "swapoff."
	// So we check if we entered "swapoff" and if not, we will change it to
	// "solarized-dark."
	st := styles.Get(style)
	if st.Name == "swapoff" && style != "swapoff" {
		st = styles.Get("solarized-dark")

	// While we already know we are looking at Go code, we are going to
	// Chroma's lexer.Analyze to get the lexer based on extension.
	// https://github.com/alecthomas/chroma#identifying-the-language
	lexer := lexers.Match(fileName)
	// lexer is nil if no match could be found.
	if lexer == nil {
		// So we use the Analyse function.
		lexer = lexers.Analyse(source)
	// Default to Go, if neither process detected a lexer.
	if lexer == nil {
		lexer = lexers.Get("go")

	// Create the range variable for highlighting line numbers.
	// It's of type [][2]int.
	hl := [][2]int{[2]int{lineno, lineno}}
	// We are only highlighting one line so both items in the [2]int array
	// are the same. If we wanted to highlight a range, we would have used
	// start and finish line numbers.

	// Create a customized html.Formatter.
	// We can also get rid of the 8 tab space now.
	formatter := html.New(html.Standalone(), html.WithLineNumbers(),
		html.HighlightLines(hl), html.TabWidth(4))

	// Get iterator.
	it, err := lexer.Tokenise(nil, source)
	if err != nil {
		return "", err

	var b bytes.Buffer
	wri := bufio.NewWriter(&b)

	if err := formatter.Format(wri, st, it); err != nil {
		return "", err

	return b.String(), nil

json.NewDecoder json.NewEncoder

When decoding from or encoding to an io.Reader/Writer (e.g. file, HTTP response), we can do this:

var []obj MyStruct
// fill in []obj

// File to encode stuff to.
f, _ := os.Create("whatever.txt")
enc := json.NewEncoder(f)
if err := enc.Encode(obj); err != nil {
    // Handle error

// Now json is saved to file.

To decode, we can do something similar with an io.Reader (e.g. file).

var []obj2 MyStruct

f, _ := os.Open("whatever.txt")
dec := json.NewDecoder(f)
if err := enc.Decode(&obj2); err != nil {
    // Handle error

// Now json is populated from file.

Twitter APIs

Twitter Application-Only Auth-Flow

Docs: https://developer.twitter.com/en/docs/basics/authentication/overview/application-only

  1. Create an application and a set of read-only consumer API keys. Twitter will ask you to write 300 words about your application and other crap.
  2. Create the authorization token by combining the key and secret and then base64 encoding them. base64(Key:Secret).
  3. Send the following POST request to https://api.twitter.com/oauth2/token to get the bearer token.
    POST /oauth2/token HTTP/1.1
    Host: api.twitter.com
    User-Agent: Whatever
    Authorization: Basic [token from step 2]
    Content-Type: application/x-www-form-urlencoded;charset=UTF-8
    Accept-Encoding: gzip
  4. Response will have the bearer token if successful (and a 200 OK status)
  5. Use the token in the header of every request Authorization: Bearer AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA
  6. ???
  7. Profit

Get Retweeters

GET request to https://api.twitter.com/1.1/statuses/retweets/tweetID.json?count=100.

Results has these fields.

    // ...
    "user": {
      // ...
      "id": 281679947,
      "id_str": "281679947",
      "is_translation_enabled": false,
      "is_translator": false,
      "lang": "en",
      "listed_count": 43,
      "location": "NYC",
      "name": "Christine Romo",
      // ...
      "screen_name": "romoabcnews",

We want to read id_str and screen_name so we unmarshal the JSON to []Retweeter where:

// User represents a user.
type User struct {
	Id   string `json:"id_str"`
	Name string `json:"screen_name"`

// Retweeter represents a user who has retweeted the content.
type Retweeter struct {
	TwitterUser User `json:"user"`

Chaining Reader and Writer Interfaces

This is pretty cool. You can see it inside Encrypter and Decrypter.

In short, you pass an io.Reader or io.Writer to another and chain them. Then you write to one (or read from one) and encryption/decryption works. We have already seen this in a previous lesson where we used json.NewDecoder/NewEncoder on files or buffers.

io.TeeReader(r io.Reader, w io.Writer) io.Reader

"TeeReader returns a Reader that writes to w what it reads from r. All reads from r performed through it are matched with corresponding writes to w. There is no internal buffering ..."

I did not use it in this lesson, but seems like a useful thing.

Pass Arguments to Delve Debugger in VS Code

Pass the arguments inside launch.json like this.

"args": [

HTML Input type File

We can use something like this

<input type="file"
    id="upload" name="upload"
    accept="image/jpeg,image/png" />

This only shows files of type jpeg and png. We can also do image/* to show all images.

Int to Enum

Assuming we have this enum:

type EnumType int

const (
	Zero Enum = iota

We can convert an int to this type with EnumType(2).


Gets the first file in the param (usually POST body).

Response.PostForm is a map of url.Values (map[string][]string).

Access Struct Fields with the Reflect Package

Don't use reflect I guess. But this is fun. Seems like it will panic if unexported fields are accessed.

In this case, our struct only has string fields so we only check for empty string.

v := reflect.ValueOf(c)
for i := 0; i < v.NumField(); i++ {
    if v.Field(i).Interface() == "" {
        return fmt.Errorf("Corp not initialized. Set value of %s", v.Type().Field(i).Name)

We can access the value of a field with v.Field(i).Interface() and its name with v.Type().Field(i).Name.

Convert Float to String with Two Floating Points

Change 2 to get more floating points.

func FloatToString(f float64) string {
	return strconv.FormatFloat(f, 'f', 2, 64)