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madman2k

Logitech M720 Triathlon mouse – long-term review

2022-11-25 17:34 UTC  by  madman2k
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In this post I want to take a look at the Logitech M720 mouse after having used it for 2.5 years.

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Categories: News
madman2k

Introducing ODRS Browser

2022-11-24 12:14 UTC  by  madman2k
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GNOME Open Desktop Ratings is the service that enables user ratings in various Linux app stores like the Snap-Store, Gnome Software and KDE Discover.

While it nowadays works for users by providing a mostly useful star rating, from a application developer perspective the story is very grim.

Basically one only gets the users view, which provides an average rating and some reviews in the current locale.
This means you might see something like “2 Stars from 80 Reviews” – but the 3 reviews in your current locale are all 4-5 Star.
To see something else you have to change the locale and restart the app store – which is inconvenient and confusing.
As a developer, seeing the negative reviews is crucial, as people often just post bug reports there and this is the only way to find out why the app did not work for them.

Therefore I quickly hacked together a web-based browser for the ODRS service, skillfully named

ODRS Browser

This allows accessing the ODRS service from the web and shows the reviews from multiple locales at once. The idea here is that often people write reviews in english – regardless of their current locale. Currently, ODRS has no logic to detect that.

Also, if your app is packaged in different formats like snap and flatpack and deb, you can see the reviews of all variants in the overview.

Unfortunately, ODRS currently does not set the CORS header which prevents browsers from accessing it directly. The data that you see right now was scraped with python script. But once this issue is fixed, the ODRS Browser will be able to use live data.

Categories: News
madman2k

Debugging Python with GDB on Ubuntu

2022-11-18 16:42 UTC  by  madman2k
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Lets say you want to debug a python process that is either already running or crashing in native code. Pythons PDB is of no help here and you will have to use low-level GDB debugger. Fortunately, it comes with support for debugging high level python scripts.

However, while the actual python-gdb commands are nicely described here, that page lacks important details on how to get python-gdb in the first place. We are merely told that a python-gdb.py is needed.

On Ubuntu/ Debian, this file is included in the python3-dbg package:

sudo apt install python3.10-dbg

Installing that is sufficient, if you use the matching python3 package. You can go ahead and connect to some running python process via:

gdb -p <PID>
# verify that the script is loaded
(gdb) info auto-load
# get a python backtrace
(gdb) py-bt
Traceback (most recent call first):
  File "/usr/lib/python3.10/selectors.py", line 416, in select
    fd_event_list = self._selector.poll(timeout)
  File "/usr/lib/python3.10/socketserver.py", line 232, in serve_forever
...

In case Ubuntu is merely a host and you use coda, you can still use the host python-gdb.py – even if the python versions dont match. You will have to load the script manually though like:

(gdb) source /usr/share/gdb/auto-load/usr/bin/python3.10-gdb.py
Categories: News
madman2k

Fix Steam Deck Input in Desktop Mode

2022-10-13 16:32 UTC  by  madman2k
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While older SteamOS releases used to map the right trigger to the left mouse button by default, in current SteamOS you can only click by using the touchpad. However due to the way you hold the device it is really fiddly – especially if you try to drag and drop something.

Fortunately, there is a way to fix this via a setting in Steam. For this you need launch Steam when in Desktop Mode. There, switch to big picture mode and go to

Settings > Base configuration > Desktop Configuratiom

In this view you can configure the inputs to your liking

My final configuration Trigger to click Left touchpad for scrolling

I suggest you to go with the following setup

  • Right trigger for left click (sounds counter-intuitive, but works well)
  • Left trigger for right click
  • Left touchpad for moving the mouse (doh)
  • Right touchpad for scroll wheel

With this configuration you can use the desktop mostly pain-free.

Categories: News
madman2k

Using Docker with SLURM

2022-09-29 14:47 UTC  by  madman2k
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The SLURM documentation provides you with the basic information that you can use Docker withing SLURM – as long as you use rootless Docker. However some crucial pieces are missing.

The issue that you will immediately run into is that the SLURM resource allocation is not propagated to docker at all. E.g. if you start your job with srun --gpus 1 docker ... all GPUs will be available to docker nevertheless.

The issue here is that Docker uses a manager daemon that the docker CLI communicates with. And that daemon does not know anything about SLURM or any resources it allocated for the job.

The solution is to start a daemon per job (instead of per user) as one user might want to run different jobs with different allocations on the same machine. The docker documentation gives you an idea on how to do that.

You will need to set at least the following parameters to make the daemon fully job-specific

# dockerd-rootless.sh requires XDG_RUNTIME_DIR
XDG_RUNTIME_DIR=/somewhere/including/$SLURM_JOB_ID
# export, so docker client sees it later on
export DOCKER_HOST=unix://$XDG_RUNTIME_DIR/docker.sock
dockerd-rootless.sh --host=$DOCKER_HOST --data-root=... --exec-root=...

Here, exporting DOCKER_HOST makes the docker CLI use the correct daemon.

The drawback of this method is that each job needs to pull the container again due to the separate data-root paths. Switching to podman might solve that.

Categories: News
madman2k

Steam Deck SSD Upgrade

2022-08-28 14:49 UTC  by  madman2k
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If you, like me, went with the entry level Steam Deck option with only 64 GB of internal storage, you likely realized quite soon that some games wont fit on it.

One option is to use the microSD expansion card slot. For current-gen games the throughput of only about 150 MB/s does not seem to degrade loading performance compared to a NVMe SSD.
However, given that the internal storage is upgradable, the only logical choice for keeping your PC master race status is to cram in the fastest NVME SSD inside that thing.

Specifically, you will need a one-sided SSD in the M.2 2230 for factor so it fits the space inside the Steam Deck.
I went with the KIOXIA Client-SSD BG5 512GB. Kioxia is the Toshiba spin-off for SSD drives, if you wonder about the brand. Although it is a PCIe 4.0 drive, its peak read throughput of 3.5 GB/s is within the practical limits of PCIe 3.0 of the Steam Deck.
Also, the active power consumption of 4.1W is quite close to the 3.8W drawn by the custom PHISON PS5013 E13 SSD that Valve uses.

You can follow the iFixit Guide for the steps to actually swap the SSD. Make sure to transfer the ESD shielding wrap to the new SSD.

To get Steam OS on the new drive, follow the official recovery instructions and select the “Re-image Steam Deck” script.
This will install Steam OS on the blank SSD – similar to how you would install Ubuntu from a live USB.

Benchmarking results

Next, I wanted to actually compare the speed of the upgraded NVMe SSD with the one of the stock eMMC memory. To this end I used KDiskMark – an open-source alternative to CrystalDiskMark that runs on Linux natively.

The tests were performed on SteamOS 3.3.1 using KDiskMark 2.3.0.

eMMC NVMe The median of 3 KDiskMark runs


In short, the NVME offers roughly one order of magnitude faster throughput over the eMMC.
Whether you feel this in-game, highly depends on the given game. For older titles, even the eMMC is so fast, that you cannot read the hints on the loading-screen. However, for something like the Flight Simulator 2020 that shuffles huge assets around, it will surely be noticeable.

Finally, the peak read performance of 3.5GB/s is not reached. This might be due to the PCIe 3.0 bottleneck – I did not bother putting the drive in a PCIe 4.0 device. Still, there is a significant advantage in writing performance over the older Kioxia BG4 series, that only do 1.4 GB/s.

Categories: Articles
madman2k

Computing replaygain for your Music library

2022-04-04 16:13 UTC  by  madman2k
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TLDR; command at the end of post

If you want a equal loudness for your Music library the go to solution and the de-facto standard is ReplayGain.
If you are using a music streaming service, the provider is typically taking care of that for you – but maybe you want to migrate towards your own streaming solution.

ReplayGain analyses your audio files and stores their deviation from the baseline loudness as a tag. A compatible audio player can then read the tag and correct the playback volume so all you tracks have the same loudness.

Of course things get messy once you look at details like what the baseline loudness should be and how to determine loudness in the first place. Therefore we set the baseline once and for all as 89db and consider even tracks of the same album individually. If you disagree, feel free to branch off reading up the details now.

The next issue is that ReplayGain was born in a time where mp3 was synonymous to digital music, hence the algorithm was first implemented as the mp3gain CLI tool. Nowadays you also need aacgain and vorbisgain to cover all your formats, which is cumbersome to automate.

The larger issue with ReplayGain is that it defines loudness of a track by its peak volume. While a sane choice in theory, in practice the music and advertising industries raced to increase the perceived loudness without raising the peak volume. As broadcasters also used peak volume normalization, one could blow your eardrum with that very special advertisement.
Therefore the EBU R 128 was proposed which at its core is RMS based, meaning it is considering the average volume of the track.

Remember that ReplayGain merely adds a correction value to the tracks? This allows us to compute that correction value based on the R128 algorithm for a better normalization, which is exactly what the <a href="https://github.com/desbma/r128gain">r128gain</a> tool does.
Being written in modern day, r128gain also processes all possible audio files by hooking into ffmpeg as a filter.

So, without further ado, this is the command to normalize your Music library:

# pip3 install r128gain
r128gain -p -r Music/

This will preserve "-p" the file timestamps and recursively "-r" process all files in the given directory.

Trouble shooting

Note that if you previously used mp3gain, your files might contain non-standard lower-case replaygain_* tags, while r128gain will only write REPLAYGAIN_* tags.
To avoid confusing players with different values, you should remove the non-standard tags. This can be automated with eyeD3

eyeD3 -Q --remove-frame RGAD --preserve-file-times --user-text-frame=replaygain_track_gain: --user-text-frame=replaygain_track_peak: --user-text-frame=replaygain_album_gain: --user-text-frame=replaygain_album_peak: Music/

Refer to its documentation for the meaning of the parameters. For RGAD see here.

Header Image: “volume” by christina rutz (CC-BY-2.0)

Categories: Articles
madman2k

Breaking free of Google

2021-11-03 20:34 UTC  by  madman2k
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This post will be for those of you that care about privacy – i.e. if you want that information about you is exclusively under your control.
In that context not only Google is to blame, but actually most of the cloud services we know and use today.

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Categories: Articles
madman2k

Mould King 13106 Forklift Review

2021-05-13 17:11 UTC  by  madman2k
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I got myself the MouldKing 13106 Forklift, which is based on the MOC 3681 by KevinMoo and wanted to share my impressions with you.

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Categories: Articles
madman2k

Comparing water filters

2021-05-07 18:08 UTC  by  madman2k
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Lets say, you want to reduce the water carbonate hardness because you got a shiny coffee machine and descaling that is a time-consuming mess.

If you dont happen to run a coffee-shop, using a water-jug is totally sufficient for this. Unfortunately, while the jug itself is quite cheap, the filters you need will cost you an arm and a leg – similar to how the printer-ink business works.

The setup

Here, we want to look at the different filter options and compare their performance. The contenders are

NamePricingBrita Classic~15.19 €PearlCo Classic12.90 €PearlCo Protect+15.90 €

As said initially, the primary goal of using these filters is to reduce the water carbonate – any other changes, like pH mythology, will not be considered.

To measure the performance in this regard, I am using a digital total dissolved solid meter – just like the one used in the Wikipedia article. To make the measurement robust against environmental variations, I am not only measuring the PPM in the filtered water, but also in the tap water before filtering. The main indicator is then the reduction factor.

Also, you are not using the filter only once, so I repeat the measuring over the course of 37 days. Why 37? Well, most filters are specified for 30 days of usage – but I want to see how much cushion we got there.

So – without further ado – the results:

Results

NameØ PPM reductionØ absolute PPMBrita Classic31%206PearlCo Classic24%218PearlCo Protect+32%191

As motivated above, the difference in absolute PPM can be explained by environmental variation – after all the measurements took place over the course of more than 3 months.

However, we see that the pricing difference is indeed reflected by filtering performance. By paying ~20% more, you get a ~30% higher PPM reduction.

The only thing missing, is the time-series to see beyond 30 days:

As you can see, the filtering performance is continuously declining after a peak at about 10-15 days of use.

And for completeness, the absolute PPM values:

Categories: Articles
madman2k

Migrating from owncloud 9.1 to nextcloud 11

2017-02-10 23:33 UTC  by  madman2k
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First one should ask though: why? My main motivation was that many of the apps I use were easily available in the nextcloud store, while with owncloud I had to manually pull them from github.
Additionally some of the app authors migrated to nextcloud and did not provide further updates for owncloud.

Another reason is this:

the graphs above show the number of commits for owncloud and nextcloud. Owncloud has taken a very noticeable hit here after the fork – even though they deny it.

From the user perspective the lack of contribution is visible for instance in the admin interface where with nextcloud you get a nice log browser and system stats while with owncloud you do not. Furthermore the nextcloud android app handles Auto-Upload much better and generally seems more polished – I think one can expect nextcloud to advance faster in general.

Migrating

For migrating you can follow the excellent instructions of Jos Poortvliet.

In my case owncloud 9.1 was installed on Ubuntu in /var/www/owncloud and I put nextcloud 11 to /var/www/nextcloud. Then the following steps had to be applied:

  1. put owncloud in maintenance mode
    sudo -u www-data php occ maintenance:mode --on
  2. copy over the config.php
    cp /var/www/owncloud/config/config.php /var/www/nextcloud/config/
  3. adapt the path in config.php
    # from 
    'path' => '/var/www/owncloud/apps',
    # to
    'path' => '/var/www/nextcloud/apps',
  4. adapt the path in crontab
    sudo crontab -u www-data -e
  5. adapt the paths in the apache config
  6. run the upgrade script which takes care of the actual migration. Then disable the maintanance mode.
    sudo -u www-data php occ upgrade
    sudo -u www-data php occ maintenance:mode --off

and thats it.

Categories: News
madman2k

Learning Modern 3D Graphics Programming

2015-12-29 22:26 UTC  by  madman2k
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one of the best resources to learn modern OpenGL and the one which helped me quite a lot is the Book at www.arcsynthesis.org/gltut/ – or lets better say was. Unfortunately the domain expired so the content is no longer reachable.

Luckily the Book was designed as an open source project and the code to generate the website is still available at Bitbucket. Unfortunately this repository does not seem to be actively maintained any more.

Therefore I set out to make the Book to be available again using Github Pages. You can find the results here:

https://paroj.github.io/gltut/

However I did not simply mirror the pages, but also improved it at several places. So what has changed so far?

  • converted mathematical expressions from SVG to inline MathML. This does not only improve readability in browsers, but also fixes broken math symbols when generating the PDF.
  • replace XSLTHL by highlight.js for better syntax highlighting
  • added fork me on github badge to website to visualize that one can easily contribute
  • enabled the Optimization Appendix. While it is not complete, it already provides some useful tips and maybe encourages contributions.
  • updated the Documentation build to work on Linux
  • added instructions how to Build the website/ PDF Docs

hopefully these changes will generate some momentum so this great Book gets extended again. As there were also non-cosmetical changes like the new Chapter I also tagged a 0.3.9 release.

I the process of the above work I found out that there is also a mirror of the original Book at http://alfonse.bitbucket.org/oldtut/. This one is however at the state of the 0.3.8 release, meaning it does not only misses the above changes but also some adjustment happened post 0.3.8 at bitbucket.

Categories: Graphics