Public Service Internet monthly newsletter (April 2020)

After truth

We live in incredible times with such possibilities that is clear. Although its easily dismissed by looking at the amount of infected people with Covid19 or the huge amount of scams cashing in on our Covid19 fears.

To quote Buckminster Fuller “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.

You are seeing aspects of this happening with people rising to the challenge of 3D printing valves and open-sourcing the results.


Your living room has an agenda

Ian thinks: Christopher Wylie covers the natural progress of linked data, surveillance, iot, smart cities, data ethics and echo bubbles in a short diatribe. Taken from ANTIDOTE 2019

Doughnut Economics explained by Kate Raworth

Ian thinks: Kate made the link between human needs and the environmental demands to support life on earth, in such a engaging and simple to understand way. This is the kind of connected thinking which will drive forward much needed changes.

Hacktivists: From Anonymous to Luzsac to Occupy

Ian thinks: Great documentary about hacks, hackers, hacktivists and their political interests. Free to watch in full on youtube

Throwing out data ethics with the bath water in the age of Covid-19?

Ian thinks: Great examples of where data ethics has been squeezed or sidelined during a more immediate threat. Something we should all be aware of.

Summary of Open hardware fighting Covid-19

Ian thinks: There is so much about open hardware hackers doing incredible things to battle Covid-19. This short video sums up so many great projects in one go and gives some great advice for those wanting to help.

The local global revolution which was waiting for its moment

Ian thinks: Helena and Douglas discuss the importance of localism or decentralised, can serve and solve the problems of people. Douglas’s monologue about Covid-19 and how our current media is warping our perception is so apt.

The status-quo is over, the world after Covid-19

Ian thinks: I started to do a similar post but Vice beat me to the punch with this vast (USA focused) post highlighting the opportunities and questions we should have post Covid-19.

Stealing card details in a flash

Ian thinks: As our contact-less cards limits raise to 45 pounds per transaction. Fascinating to see with great convenience comes great opportunity for those who want to prosper quickly.

Nothing spreads faster than disinformation on the internet

Ian thinks: There is a formula for mis/disinformation (fake news if you must) and its been exploited to the max. This documentary highlights the problem stopping on news we all have heard including . Don’t have HBO, here is a Guardian review

Staying safe and staying humanly connected

Ian thinks: I couldn’t help but end this Covid-19 heavy newsletter with a positive video from Vox showing how we are staying safe and connected during this world wide pandemic. Very touching…

Hardware-Accelerated Plex media server on Ubuntu?

Plex logoI have been using Plex media server on my AMD six core machine for a while and its good but cooling is a issue. About 9 months ago I installed a Nvidia graphics card hoping to take advantage of the new hardware acceleration option. However I realised its a non-starter as it required a Intel chipset not AMD.

Then over the last few months I got my hands on a secondhand HP Z800 workstation with 4x quad core 2.8 ghz processors (yes 16 cores in total). It came with 12 gig of memory which I was planning to upgrade if things work out. It came with a PCI-Express Nvida Geforce graphics card, so I was thinking everything is set. just install Ubuntu with Plex media server, install the proprietary Nvidia display drivers and sit back and enjoy?

I wish…

Here is Plex transcoding inception from 1080p with DTS (Blu-ray sourced) to something suitable for my Pixel 4 (I had to turn off play original, to force it to do the transcoding)transcoding with htop

You can see it much clearer in the htop terminal. Look at those cores running transcoding tasks.

Plex with transcoding

Here is Plex not transcoding inception from 1080p with DTS (Blu-ray sourced) to my Pixel 4

not transcoding with Htop

Quite different from the above, the machines is hardly doing anything over its 16 cores. But the bandwidth is a problem outside a local network environment

Plex not transcoding

If anyone has successfully got hardware-Accelerated Streaming working on a Ubuntu server, let me know!

HTC one x touch screen problems

Just when i thought i might be out of the woods with my device upgrades. Seems I may needs to get my htc 1x fixed or upgraded.

A while ago i noticed the touch screen had an area it wouldnt registered the touches sometimes. It seemed to happen when i made heavy use of the gps, say on one of my rides in the mountains. In actually fact I couldn’t use the phone screen most of the time when riding along. This seems fine but what in case you want to pause the tracking app? Text or tweet? I’m convinced my lack of pictures in the mountains is due to this problem.

Usually switching off the device rubbing the screen will solve the problem a bit. Which is better than the reboot the device which I use to do. I once did this in the middle of a ride and had to manually edit the kml/xml together with an editor.

However things seem to be getting worst. Trying to unlock my phone using the android pattern can be a nightmare! Usually i’m locked out of my phone for 30 seconds or worst.

Like all things I should have realised this isn’t just my device.

With not long till my phone upgrade and the phone well out of warranty, i’m kinda at a lost what to really do. Just like the sleep of death of the Samsung galaxy tab 7+ there’s no real way I could sell them to someone without mentioning the problems.
I wonder if HTC and even Samsung would take them back in after the warranty is gone? Plus now its rooted will htc ever touch it again?

What would you do?

Upgrading the Pacemaker’s hard drive

2013-05-04%2011.16.39

Been doing some of the odd jobs I’ve been meaning to do.

One such task was finally buying the right SSD from Amazon and replacing the old Pacemaker hard drive.

I was looking at the pacemaker forum where someone posted how they replaced their original hard drive with a Solid State Drive (SSD). So after much time I decided to buy the Kingspec 1.8inch drive from Amazon. Its only 64gig big but to be honest with the old drive I was only using 32gig anyway.

For those thinking about doing the same theres a number of things to bear in mind… You need a ZIF 40-pin SSD/PATA Solid State Disk (MLC type). Zif is the connection and its a ribbon connection like you see on motherboards.

Everything was pretty straight forward till it came to putting in the new drive.

Oh crap I ripped the ribbon!

As the forum post wrote…

DO NOT MAKE THE SAME MISTAKE I DID AND RELEASE THE ZIF RIBBON FROM THE ACTUAL PMD MAINBOARD ITSELF! IT WILL MAKE YOUR LIFE EASIER IF YOU LEAVE IT IN PLACE AND ATTACH THE NEW HARD DRIVE TO IT!

Well somehow I started to rip the ZIF ribbon when moving the drive about and so I was forced to use the longer version which came with the SSD. That extra length is a real pain as you have to fold it without breaking it when putting the device back together.

PATA ribbon in the way

Carefully I put the whole thing back together and as the post says, it came on and complained the device needs a firmware update. After doing that and loading all the music back on to the device from the pacemaker app I was back in action again.

To date everything has worked and the battery life is much better than with the hard drive. Things seems a little more punchy too, so menu updates, etc are a tiny bit quicker (but it was already pretty quick). Can’t wait to put in the new battery and boost that up too.

Hard drive restored

As you can see in the photo, I’m planning on replacing the battery at some point. The battery seems easier but will need some soldering as the one I got has no connector. From the forums it looks like the battery is a 3.7V 1600mAh lithium battery Polymer while the one I got from ebay is a 3.7V 1000mAh lithium Battery Rechargeable Polymer Li-Po. The hope is that my pacemaker battery which back in 2007 lasted on average about 5hours but only last 30-40mins now will jump to about 3-4hours with 1000mAh.

XBMC joins Boxee on hardware

XBMC 9.11: Beta2 Confluence

I’m already impressed with the Boxee DLink box specially after finding out that the machine has a Tegra 2 chip which means it will play anything and almost everything including Flash 10.1 and heavy weight h.264 content at 1080p resolution. But I also see XBMC is on the NUU player which was recently announced at CES 2010.

But interestingly enough you don’t need to invest in a new hardware box to get the best performance out of XBMC or even Boxee. I already talked about the amazing performance I’m getting out of the Intel X300 graphics processor unit along side a dual core processor. However theres some more great news from the XBMC camp in the form of Broadcom Crystal HD Hardware Decoder (BCM970012) which is a decoder card which can be put in Express card slots.

Through hard work and the joint efforts of several TeamXBMC/Redhat developers and the Broadcom Media PC Group, cross-platform hardware decoding of mpeg2, h.264 and VC1 video content up to 1080p will be coming to XBMC on OSX, Linux, and Windows via the Broadcom Crystal HD Hardware Decoder (BCM970012). The Broadcom Crystal HD is available now in a mini-PCIE card with ExpressCard and 1X PCIE form factors to follow. This means that the AppleTV and all those lovely new netbooks, Eee Boxes and older Intel Mac Minis have exciting new potential.

This solution has a common programming API, so many 3rd party developers and applications will be able to leverage hardware accelerated video content playback across OSX, Linux, and Windows platforms with minimal source code changes. Best of all, this is an open source solution with full source code for driver and library available for OSX and Linux under a GPL/LGPL license. Wow, this indeed is the Holy Grail and a major score for the open source community as this means no more tainted Linux kernels! Support has already been added to XBMC under the svn trunk.

More information can be found under the blog post under XBMC.org, but it certainly looks like 2010 is going to be the year when XBMC, Boxee and Plex really shine through. I’m actually planning to build a XBMC system just for work, maybe I’ll stick Boxee on it too.

Oh and good on Bytemark for sponsoring XBMC.