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.

A photo of Tuna from today (March 21st, 2019)

Switched on two of my studio strobes and took my camera out, then I got down on eye level as usual:

7e3_3210428-tuna
Tuna the cat, Moerfelden-Walldorf 2019

Taken with the “kit zoom” at 31mm, but cropped a little more during post production. Midtoned as usual.

Thanks for viewing.

Two photos of me

Here’s one from ca. 1976:

Wolfgang and a band, ca. 1976 Cologne (scan from a bad postcard-sized print)

And here’s one from ca. 42 years later:

7e2_831_DSC_5188-sfx-wolfgang
Wolfgang, 2018 Steinfeld

As always, thanks for looking.

Approaching end of February with two photos of Tuna (our cat)

The last weekend of February is almost half over already, but we had a nice day and currently we’re having a nice sundown. Got a package with some stuff including – for me – John Goldsby’s Jazz bass book which is great. You only have to mention titles like “How high the moon”, and I have them in my ears…

Anyway, I took a few photos of Tuna, and here are two of them, in black & white, midtoned as usual, and with a white border (but I left them in the 4:3 format to represent (Micro-) Four Thirds):

7e3_2230347-sfx-tuna
Tuna the cat, Moerfelden-Walldorf 2019
7e3_2230351-sfx-tuna
Tuna the cat, Moerfelden-Walldorf 2019

As always, thanks for viewing and reading.

Me again, from ten days ago

Here’s the photo which Zuleikha took of me ten days ago, this time in midtoned black & white film simulation, and cropped into a 3:2 format:

7e3_2020319-sfx-hp5-wolfgang
Wolfgang, Moerfelden-Walldorf 2019

As always, thanks for viewing.

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.

Wiki loves love 2019 – my submission

So during February you can submit photos to this “contest”: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Commons:Wiki_Loves_Love_2019 – and my submisson is the photo which is also my current blog header photo on this site, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:7e2_7030583-sfx-020-city-of-love.jpg

See other entries is you wish: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:Images_from_Wiki_Loves_Love_2019

And in case you have a photo, maybe contribute it as well?

Here’s mine, from Flickr:

7e2_7030583-sfx-020-city-of-love
City of Love, Paris 2018

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.

A Yogi Yoga for Mitchie

Today is Mitchie’s birthday, and it was time to get her a new notebook. The challenge was to find the right one, because pretty much nothing of the machines currently on offer fitted exactly the criteria of what she wanted and needed.

So in the end it became clear that we had to go modular – or better known as finding an offer of ‘built to order’ – pretty much as you would configure a car.

Not all vendors offer that, and even of the ones who did, no one really had the machine for her. Which means that part of the build had to be done by ourselves – not a big problem, because I’ve done this professionally in the past.

So this is what she got for her birthday today:

7e3_2050326-yoga-4-mitchie
A Yoga for Mitchie, Moerfelden-Walldorf 2019

This is a Lenovo Thinkpad L380 Yoga, which I ordered for her with Windows 10 Pro, an Intel Core i5 8xxx (8th generation) CPU, 16GB RAM, and the smallest SSD drive on offer which has the size of 128GB. And that one (with Windows on it) I took out right away, and replaced it with a Samsung 970 EVO NVMe drive with 1TB capacity. The other SATA drive with 128GB will be put into an external USB2/3 casing.

On the blank Samsung SSD I installed Windows 10 Pro first, and then Ubuntu 18.04 LTS. For Windows I had to search for a WLAN driver, with Ubuntu everything worked out of the proverbial box – including the Wacom pen which comes with that ‘Yoga’ device with its 180 degree rotatable touchscreen, which turns the machine into an artist’s tablet, and with a touch-sensitive pen as the cherry on top.

So that is what she/we wanted: a not too big (13.3″) device with a not too fast (i5) CPU, but with enough RAM (16GB) and hard drive (1TB), topped with a touch-sensitive full HD screen and even a pen. The cost? About half of a readily-configured machine which would have had everything except one thing or the other (and definitely not two operating systems, but that’s a story for another day. I’m waiting for the first vendor to offer – legally of course – machines with Apple, Microsoft, and Debian preinstalled).

It’s a nice machine. Especially with Ubuntu instead of Windows (which we need once a year for tax declarations – and the machine itself is tax-deductible of course). It even feels nice, and in no way cheap (which it wasn’t).

For those who are interested, here are the German Lenovo product page, and the Ubuntu compatibility page.

And now Mitchie needs a prescription for bifocals to read text in FullHD on a 13.3″ display…

Thanks for reading.