Links to Jason, for colleagues, friends, and family

At LinuxMusicians, we have some really good producers (like for instance user ‘singforme’ and/or ‘bluebell’). And in this thread on LM, one of them pointed me to an article written by Jason Evangelho for Forbes, here.

That article is about UbuntuStudio, which Zuleikha was using until recently (she’s now running the KXStudio stuff on a ‘normal’ Ubuntu on what used to be Mitchie’s Dell notebook, now hers). The article also covers the Jack Audio Connection Kit, and Ubuntu Studio Controls, which together bring a bit of nice automation into the game, taking out some complex steps of setting up a productive audio environment on a PC. As Jason concludes in his article:

I tried Ubuntu Studio 18.04 last year in a short-lived attempt to see if it could replace my macOS + Logic Pro workflow (my last hurdle to using Linux full time), and I honestly walked away a bit disappointed. But 19.04 is shaping up to worthy of a second chance. You’ll have my thoughts when the final version releases this Spring.

But so far this is interesting for musicians and/or creative people only (which covers some of my own family, but not many other people). So if you’re in this ‘other people’ group, stay with me just a little bit longer, because the other interesting finding in his article on Forbes were links to Jason’s own site Linux For Everyone, and to his music on Soundcloud.

And while Jason’s music might be interesting to you or not, I’ve read just one article on his site called “Ditch Dropbox: Create A Personal Home Backup Server With Raspberry Pi 3” which made me write this link collection, and recommending it to colleagues and friends (who aren’t musicians or other creatives) as well.

What Jason is describing there is simply how to set up a small and low cost home server based on Linux which everyone could use, together with some useful stuff like apps for your desktop, and your Android or iOS device to make use of it all – without having to touch a command line even once. He shows how to sync your PC and your phone with that small server automatically using NextCloud, so you have basically replaced Dropbox or any other commercial service provider (you have to read some additional stuff on how to open ports on your router, or to connect to your home from outside via DynDNS-like services if you haven’t done so, but that’s stuff for another article).

So at this point, Jason concludes:

Wait A Minute….
Did we just setup a Linux-based file server without using the command line once? Yes. Yes we did.

Thanks for reading.

I know I have some colleagues who are interested in just this. And I don’t know about you, but I am interested in something like this myself. And besides, I’ll go on reading Jason’s other stuff as well, so I have set up an RSS-bookmark to his site, so that I can see new headlines when he comes up with new articles. So, in a nutshell, I consider this recommended reading for everyone who’s an admin of their own home network. You. Me. Everyone.

P.S.: Jason’s articles on Forbes are good reads as well. I’ve short-scanned only the last 2 months or so, and found these three very interesting ones:

I Can’t Believe I’m Writing This Linux Article About Loving The Xfce Desktop Environment

Warning: Internet Explorer Just Became A Silent But Serious Threat To Every Windows User

Here’s The Shocking Reality Of Completely Blocking Google From Your Life

Like I said/wrote: interesting (tho he still is new to the Linux desktop experience, but this might apply to you as well, right?). As always, thanks for your interest, and for reading.

… and back to Firefox

I wrote earlier today that I switched to Google’s Chrome browser, and while I’m still waiting for Mozilla to fix the issue for their ESR release of the Firefox browser, I’m back to Firefox with a workaround I read about earlier already, and now again on the German-speaking Heise site (see at the link how I found this via its “atom” RSS feed in “Foxish”, Mozilla? Having headlines in bookmarks *is* totally important!).

It is: call the about:config site in the browser, and set the variable “xpinstall.signatures.required” to “false”. Later, when there’s a newer version, this should be redone.

So I can use both browsers – and I’m back to Firefox again.

Update, from Monday morning: and it’s fixed! Hadn’t checked at home, but coming to work I immediately got an update which indeed fixed that case for me:

Thanks for reading.

Switched to the Chrome browser for the moment

As much as I like the idea of a free browser, the latest decisions from Firefox (like dropping RSS “Live” bookmarks which is their one and single most outstanding feature) are hard to understand.

And a few days ago they deactivated and maybe even deinstalled my “uBlock Origin” ad blocker – the best there is. Investigating a bit about this brought news like: “we’ll update soonish with a new version which supports these (deactivated) plugins again”.

Thanks, but no thanks. Keep your crap for yourself. And consider me gone until you wake up from whatever dope you had…

I wanted to use Chromium (also more or less free, and it’s the basis for Chrome), but their version 73 still has some funky colour gamut displaying, which Chrome doesn’t do. So for the moment I’m with Google. Could have investigated further about smaller browsers, and whether they also have a “Foxish” plugin which brings back RSS Live bookmarks, but my time for this stuff is limited. Bad enough that Mozilla puts all of this on our shoulders instead of getting to grips with what once made them different from others.

Have a nice Sunday y’all – and thanks for reading.

Update, from Sunday afternoon: at least it wasn’t on purpose this time as it seems. Here’s a report from ZDNet about what happened, and here is a statement from Mozilla about it. Make of that what you will, I call it sloppy and bad management still. Open Source deserves better.

Silly questions? Here are some possible answers…

This one’s cool – try it:

https://lmddgtfy.net/?q=hier+meine+dumme+Frage

And this one’s animated more nicely, and maybe better known, but it doesn’t ask the better engine:

http://lmgtfy.com/?q=hier+meine+dumme+Frage

We sometimes answer customers with “let me google that for you”, tho really you shouldn’t create just another ‘xerox’ verb with that company name – they’re not nice enough to deserve something like it.

Thanks for reading.

F-Droid, Aptoide, and Firefox Klar

I don’t have a mobile phone. Or rather, I didn’t – and still have none that I would describe and use as such. That is why I gave my mobile phone which I once received from my wife (after buying her a new one) back to her to send it to Malaysia when the one of a relative there failed.

Except it never reached its destination. Turns out that you cannot send battery-containing devices to relatives, they will be returned to you; too dangerous to send such potentially explosive devices.

So the phone – my old phone which I never really used or liked – came back and was laying around in our house with us not really sure about what to do with it.

Thinking about such devices I thought that having had it as a remote control for my camera was ok, having it as a phone just laying around doing nothing except updating itself was a waste of time and money. So what about…

… I thought about saving that SIM card, didn’t want to have another costly (and for me at least, useless) “Flatrate” (which isn’t, so the word itself is a lie already). Oh, and I also didn’t fancy being tracked by Google or other “Enterprise” grade companies to give them even more data, and as such, more power and money. What if…

… using just our network router and WiFi instead of a cellphone network? Works.

… using an Android phone without using Google? Doesn’t really work, all you have when you start such a device is Chrome – a browser developed by Google. If you want another one, sure, you can download it – using Chrome. After doing that? Adieu Chrome. Works.

But. And that’s a big ‘But’. Google makes it really hard – no way to use their app store without having (or using) a Google account which you might have already, or maybe not. But without any form of login to Google, no downloads. If you don’t wanna play with them, they won’t play with you.

So I ‘duckduckgo’ed (‘duckduckwent’?) around using Chrome for a while, assuming that I could be a user who actually has nothing else than this phone, and a hotspot. And I found:

F-Droid (link is to its English Wikipedia page). That’s a free store with free (and open source) apps which doesn’t even ask for a login. Perfect.

Except that now I found an app like Firefox Klar (link is to its English Wikipedia page, internationally it’s slightly different and called ‘Firefox Focus’ instead), but I still didn’t have any access to non open source apps like the one from my camera maker, Olympus.

So I also installed Aptoide (link again, you guessed it, to the English Wikipedia page which describes it) which is more or less the father of F-Droid (the latter being a ‘fork’ as it is called in software development).

And with using Aptoide I also got the Olympus apps like the one for remote-controlling my camera. Perfect.

So what I have now is more or less equivalent to a small tablet PC with no cellphone access (except for emergency calls), without any contract, and without using Google too much (at least not being logged into any of their services, even updates for Google apps come via Aptoide instead).

So I can surf while sitting on the couch, or listen to Wikiloops outside of the living room. And I can remotely start and stop videos on my camera which might be outside on the veranda, filming birds or whatever. And I can tune my guitar and bass (or Zuleikha’s Ukulele, but that has a built-in tuner) with the device and Cythara.

Perfect.

And as always, thanks for reading.

The state of the internet, according to YT/Google

Are you logged into Youtube, like me? Do you get personalized recommendations, and does your browser filter out ads and other unwanted stuff? Wondering what might be hiding behind all of that? Read on…

My browser (ESR versions of Firefox, mostly – the only more or less “free” one of the big browsers) doesn’t have many plugins installed, but one I couldn’t live without is ublock origin. It gets most of the unwanted crap out of my view, and sites which even try to circumvent this won’t be on my daily list of sites to visit.

But one thing it did as I just found out is to also reduce the opening (self-) ads from Youtube – you saw a short flickering, then the usual list of new videos comes up. Wondering what might be behind that blocked content, I decided to dig out another browser which I rarely use, and which isn’t personalized (means me not being logged into anything), and which also doesn’t have any plugins installed. At work this morning that was Epiphany.

So let’s see what was flashing away from my eyes this morning:

Youtube opening screen, unfiltered

Aha. “Youtube Originals”, yeah I remember, had seen some of these announcements before – looks like they’re trying to become more of a real content provider (to monetize that of course). Ok. Not for me, thanks.

Under it, “Trending”, which I also never see normally. The state of mankind is a poor one if these are the topics of interest, frankly. Don’t want to be reminded of that each day, thanks. So let’s scroll down a bit more…

… where it becomes even worse:

The infamous Googe / Youtube “Topics”

“Topics” – yeah, these I see as well, and these are frankly a pain in your lower end. Ok, I get it – Google / Youtube knows nothing about me at this point, because I’m not logged in, so they show me the topics of most clicks or views or whatever their algorithm might be – and oh man, is this really the world we’re living in? What a strange species we must be…

I closed that browser after this, sorry, but cannot stand it. Google / Youtube is mostly wrong about getting my interest, but at least I don’t see crap like that when I’m being logged in. Instead of that, I see the umpteenth recommendation of old Miles Davis stuff, or Ella Fitzgerald just because I listened to *one* of her songs lately – but that is still worlds apart from… THIS (there was no other word coming to my mind, sorry).

It’s not only Youtube and Google – Vimeo or DailyMotion or all of the daily news aggregators aren’t much better, no one really has any kind of “artificial intelligence” which might be even worth that description of its own. Computers are thick (“Computer sind doof”), as a German pop song of the eighties used to state. Mostly of course, it’s *us* who are programming them. And we want self-driving cars, really? Robots in medicine? Thanks but no thanks.

Ok – enough of brutal truths of reality for one morning – now hand me that blue pill again, thanksverymuch…

Other news, for my/our German readers: in case you didn’t notice it yet, the German Wikipedia will be switched off tomorrow for 24 hours. Their form of protest:

Protest…

So read all about it today while you can – tomorrow you’ll have to do with English or other languages.

And as always, thanks for reading.

Installing and testing Joe’s Wikiloops plugin

Today I was reading the Wikiloops Howto and Forum sections again to see how one can contribute back, and promote Wikiloops a bit.

And sometimes it’s interesting to do just that and to see what others have done already. I found for instance Joe’s (jmrukkers) WordPress plugin that way – so I downloaded and installed it right away.

Joe describes two ways it should work, like with a single line, or the id in brackets.

So let’s test that with his latest two tracks here. For “Fun Time Funk”, I’ll try his method 1:

Hey, that looks cool – I now see the Wikiloops player embedded in the new “Gutenberg” editor. Wow.

Ok, his second method, with the track number in a bracketed ID now:

Hmmm ok – that doesn’t update itself in the editor, but then it wasn’t tested in WP 5.x and its “Gutenberg” editor – the plugin page says:

Tested up to: 4.9.10

(and I’m on WordPress 5.1.1)

So I’ll see after saving the thing as draft, or after refreshing the page… and yes, that worked as well, tho the first method is maybe both easier to remember and more direct in its result – showing you the track right away.

Anyway, great work from my friend and fellow musician Joe; thanks a lot for that, man!

In case you want to see us playing together, we did that already, in one of last year’s video collaborations – see here:

Reggae Town – wikiloops.com video collaboration series 2018

So that’s Joe and me together with a few more friends, some of which – including Joe – I have met shortly after this at last year’s members’ meeting.

Again, thanks Joe, and thanks to you for reading, viewing, and listening.

Olympus Workspace – New Free Image Post-Processing Software from Olympus

First, I found a video by Peter Forsgard about it. Then I searched and found Robin Wong’s article about it. And he also had a link to it:

This replaces the older Olympus Viewer 3 which itself replaced Olympus Viewer 2. And yes it’s free (as in cost) software in 32 and/or 64 bit for Windows and Mac computers, Linux users are still not considered worth the effort/cost.

So I downloaded it and tried it first on a virtual Windows 10 machine, and it didn’t destroy any previous software. After this I also installed it to my dual boot Windows 10 on bare metal and to Mitchie’s new notebook as well.

Tried a fast raw conversion of 3 older images, all from 2010, and all taken with my E-520 DSLR (two with the longer of its “kit” zooms, one with a manual OM Zuiko lens) – and yes, they look nicer than ever:

7da_2282633-flamingos
Flamingos, Frankfurt 2010
7da_7125060-butterfly
Butterfly, Malaysia 2010
7da_a266681-tuna
Tuna the cat, Moerfelden-Walldorf 2010

So thank you very much, Olympus – very nice of you that you’re still providing awesome software at no cost for your customers. Really appreciated!

Thanks for reading.

My weekend of week 6, 2019

Yesterday I had some “fun” (read: work) again with Mitchie’s new computer. It started with lots of slow updates of Windows 10, about which I wrote already in my last post, and it went on after I finally got a nice new external casing for her SSD which came with the machine.

As it turned out, I had forgotten or at least not considered the fact that before installing both Windows and then Linux on her new SSD I had switched off SecureBoot in the machine’s UEFI (formerly called ‘BIOS’). Tho Ubuntu could have dealt with it as well as Windows, it just didn’t seem worth the hassle. But what I hadn’t known and considered was the fact that Lenovo was so friendly as to turn on Bitlocker encryption on the drive as well, so even with jumping through several hoops to even get that key from Microsoft, I still couldn’t get Windows to de-encrypt the whole shebang again. In the end I gave up on this – there are things to do during your lifetime which are more worth of your time than dealing with stupid stuff like this. And the fact that a commercial vendor like Microsoft has keys to your machine which they don’t even tell you about seems more than questionable to me… So I formatted that old SSD and put a FAT32 partition onto it, so that it can be used as a bigger (and much faster and more reliable) USB “stick” with 128GB.

One more positive side note about Lenovo: their support pages are first class. If you allow them, they scan your machine and install all the drivers (for Windows of course) you might need. That’s almost as good as Linux which simply installs them without even bothering you with it.

Another topic:

Mike Johnston wrote a nice short article titled “Mike’s Seven Laws of Lenses” on his site The Online Photographer. And – not for the first time – he included a photo of a lens which he seems to love, and which I even have:

Panasonic Leica Summilux 25mm/1.4 on Mike’s page

This is a nice one indeed, and well worth having should you consider a Micro Four Thirds camera (or even have one already). With my copy of that lens I took the following snapshot of Mitchie’s new machine, with the additional SSD leaning against it:

7e3_2090333-mitchies-new-machine
Mitchie’s new machine, with an additional SSD leaning against it, Moerfelden-Walldorf 2019

This is btw such a dark scene that I had to underexpose it in camera with -2.3EV to keep the blacks real black (pictures such as this one confuse the metering of even the best cameras, they would turn the photo into an average grey instead of mostly black). Anyway, you see her new “USB stick” (her old SSD) and its size as well. The machine with its 13.3″ screen is tiny, the drive even more so.

So that was my Saturday. My Sunday started with getting another new piano which was described in an article (in German) on Delamar – an online magazine from musicians for musicians from Darmstadt (ca. 18km from here). That virtual piano was interesting me because it’s some kind of hybrid between a sampled (=recorded), and a modeled (=computer generated) one, and because the sound sample on Delamar’s page sounded really nice (and some of its users even claimed that it’s better than the commercial modeled Pianoteq which I’ve tried (and liked) on Manjaro lately).

Of course like so many other “freebies” this piano comes as a Windows or Mac plugin only – but thanks to falkTX’s Carla the loading of an unencrypted Windows VST is no problem on Linux anymore (except of course that you’re running an additional Wine layer to emulate some Windows resources on Linux, but that’s not falkTX’s fault). So after downloading that freebie I could look at and listen to it on my Debian machine – looks like on my screenshot of it:

Screenshot from 2019-02-10 12-45-57
the freebie “NeoPiano” from Soundmagic, a Windows VST running on Linux (thanks to falkTX and his Carla plugin rack)

And yes it sounds nice tho I haven’t tried much until now. But now that Zuleikha has Mitchie’s old Core i5 notebook from Dell, she will be able to test it as well – she’s the pianist in the family, not me. 🙂

So next time Zuleikha comes up with a new composition of hers, we can compare it against the commercial xln Audio ‘Addictive Keys’ Studio Grand (a Steinway D sampled in a studio somewhere in Sweden), and the other free ones we have already like the Salamander (Yamaha C5) or the ‘Piano in 162’ (another Steinway). The files she uploaded to Wikiloops so far were all done with the commercial xln one.

And now let’s have some more coffee, and a piece of cake 🙂 As always, thanks for reading.

Windows Updates

They last forever, really. I updated Mitchie’s new notebook to the latest version of Windows 10 which took all morning and even half of the afternoon. They seem to use some sort of throttling, because neither the CPU was busy, nor was the RAM full or the disk really the bottleneck. And if you’re used to the speed and elegance of a modern Linux machine (even with my already ‘ancient’ Debian stable), then you fall asleep when you have to wait for Windows…

Anyway, hers was finally done, and so I checked mine which updated faster (I do it more often, on Mitchie’s machine it was the first time ever, with a quite old boot image of Windows 10). Still, an out of the box Linux install *and* update is way faster – tho it also brings in much more software compared to a bare naked Windows.

So here’s a screenshot from my own machine – on which I use Windows occasionally only, when I need my camera makers’ raw converter or the control software for my audio interface and such:

updated-screenshot
Sometimes even I use Windows…

As always, thanks for reading.