Install Manjaro KDE…again! Consider Suse?

Well my last adventure with Manjaro, lasted the longest. Up to the end I really enjoyed using it, ended up going back to Mint, which I never totally left. Had some install problems with the disk Manual partition.

Disk partition Summary

If you enlarge, notice on the Summary for my root partition, it shows the same Manjaro 20.0.3 for both Current and After. Which caused me to exit the install to check that I was using the correct ISO…I was!

I mention Suse because Michael (of Destination Linux), I believe, in a recent podcast, said he once went many months without updating, and everything worked when he finally did. That’s a huge plus. From past experiences if I skipped more than a few Manjaro updates I’d be toast. Also I want to keep using KDE!

Started Udemy Django 3 course

Started Django 3 – Full Stack Websites with Python Web Development at Udemy. The instructor seems enthusiastic to teach. When it comes to programming languages, I’d usually self learn on my own. But I often have trouble with frameworks, because basically you have to apply someone else’s thought process. So it’s probably not good to overthink why something is done a certain way, but rather just accept it. I found the same for C++. Do this…OK…now do this.

Started while sitting with mom. Redid at home what I did there.

PythonAnywhere

Thought I’d mention this cloud service Host, run, and code Python in the cloud!, I am thinking about taking a Django course and the intro/sales pitch mentioned it. Sounds interesting. They offer a Get started for free starter plans.

Signal

Don’t know why I didn’t mention I’ve been using the Signal android app for many months now. I guess I don’t always associate android with computers…even though it is an OS. Also they have a Linux desktop program that you can use with other Signal users. I started out just with my daughter. Now also my mom. I haven’t really been very vocal about it or pushed it on others. I did ask a mobile medical company to install it, months ago, because they wanted me to text sensitive financial info to them. Which they didn’t do…so I didn’t do either.

I’m bringing it up now because evidently it has recently seen a big jump in users.

NextCloud DDNS

Decided to logon into my Nextcloud server, which I rarely do, but it seems that my NextCloud DDNS is either down or no longer exists. So I can’t login using that method. So I have to re-familiarize myself with the process all over again. So I chose a new DDNS dynu, but now I have to update the LetsEncrypt SSL cert, using Certbot I believe. Don’t feel like doing that right now. It was working perfectly fine but I was never comfortable with a server, that I’m responsible for keeping updated, constantly attached to the Internet, so I kept it off most of the time. Basically I’d turn it on periodically when I wanted to sync my phone pics with the server. I think that’s something I’d be more comfortable hosting on something like Digital Ocean or Linode, (which I never used, but I’m open to), where paid Linux administrators who work with Linux administration every day keep the systems updated and security patched.

So I’m considering a different use for server that doesn’t require connection to the Internet. Perhaps a media server!

Podcast sizes

This is probably something that to most people is not worth talking about. Podcast sizes IMHO are often unnecessarily large. Especially voice podcasts. Why are these voice podcasts which are mostly used to convey information, and usually played once so large? For voice…IMHO, a high bit rate is not necessary and contributes greatly to the size of the podcast. For a voice podcast 64bps is to my ears barely distinguishable from higher bitrates and can be easily reduced, before distribution.

This is something that originally became a issue with me back in the dial-up/modem days. I would download some podcasts that would take 20+ minutes, cutting file sizes in half or more would have been a real time saver. Just because we have much faster download speeds today, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t care, IMHO. Especially when the sound is virtually indistinguishable, by reducing the bitrate.

I certainly understand the content provider not going through the trouble for one user (me) but how about other people with slow or bad Internet connection. It’s not a critical personal issue. However I think I’d still comment even if I had the fastest Internet connection available. Why contribute to unnecessary bandwidth congestion? Why take 2 minutes to download the same content you could in 1? Why take 40 seconds to download the same content you could in 20? Also in the grand scheme of things it really is more of an issue to the content provider because they provide the bytes multiplied by number of users. Why allow “n” number of users to download a terabyte of data when you could provide the same content in 500GB?

I’m talking about basic voice recordings not the Philharmonic Orchestra where you may want to use a higher bit rates to capture those highs and lows. Also I’m talking about the distributed download size NOT the recorded size. Go ahead retain the original in a higher bitrate

I’m not picking on these podcasts just using them because I download and listen to them often. I took a recent “Ask Noah”, “Destination Linux” and DLN Xtend podcast and reduced the bitrate to 64kbs. The file size savings were very noticeable. In the case of “Destination Linux” and DLN Xtend reducing bitrate from 128kbs to 64kbs cut the file size in half. Episode 201 of “Destination Linux” went from 60 MB to 30 MB. Noahs podcasts were provided at 96kbs so the reduction was still decent but not half. The sound quality IMHO is barely distinguishable from the original. Actually if I had to choose the better one…I couldn’t. In the case of Destination Linux and DLN Xtend the distributed size was almost one MB per 1 Min of voice. I also tried 32kbs but the loss in quality was noticable to me. I’m not an audio expert so there maybe other settings that could be useful, bitrate seemed the most obvious. Anywho I tried two programs with similar results…ffmpeg and lame. Here are examples:

Ask Noah
ffmpeg -i “Episode 211: GeekLab Gift Guide.mp3” -vn -b:a 64k out-64k.mp3
This resulted in a filesize reduction from 40.7MB to 27.1MB

Similar results can be achieved with the lame program

Destination Linux
lame –mp3input -b 64 “Interview with Tutanota Plus 6 Billion IPO for SUSE.mp3” out-64k.mp3
This resulted in a filesize reduction from 60MB to ~30MB

DLN Xtend
ffmpeg -i “Email in 2020: Ever Evolving Experience.mp3” -vn -b:a 64k out-64k.mp3
This resulted in a filesize reduction from 38.4MB to 19.1MB

Final comment.
The quality of your speakers and/or headphones may play a factor. I assume if they were exceptional you might be able to hear a difference. Mine are decent but not exceptional.

Cutting the cord

Cutting the cord seems to have become a thing today. I’m a long time cord cutter before the term existed, I did it to save money. At one time I had all the premium channels. Ending cable caused some withdraws to be sure. Now I get over the air (OTA) TV reception, using a converter box that can also record. Sometime I think companies and people miss the true concept of cord cutting. Some People “cut the cord” apparently only to tell others “I cut the cord”, because then they get Netflix, Hulu, Disney and others and end up spending as much or more than when they had cable!

I’m ranting about this because I am constantly offered YouTube TV. When I checked on it I found it cost $65! Sixty five dollars…really! I read that when it launched a few years ago, it cost $35, that;s almost a 100% increase. I got a Fire Stick on sale and on occasion get Netflix for a month or two. I got the Stick because my daughter was coming down for a visit and didn’t want to miss Game of Thrones, which I also got free using new subscriber offers.

Speaking of OTA digital TV. The term digital TV causes people to think they need a special digital antenna. Not true! When I first got my OTA converter box I just attached my old outside antenna and it worked fine. As a matter of fact when I later got a powered digital antenna…I actually lost a few channels that my old unpowered beat up (missing arms) antenna got.

Amazon Kindle Fire

Unless I learn different, I’d have to think hard about getting another Amazon Kindle Fire. I’d switch to an android tablet. Why? Let me count the ways. It uses a customized version of android but is NOT android. You can sideload android apps and they may or may not work. I have a older Kindle which has a browser no longer supported and I’m unable to update it. No current version of their silk browser will run on this Kindle.

If not connected to the internet MANY apps just stop working [get a message saying to the effect that the license has expired requiring me to connect to the internet to refresh them] and this message can appear often. I just recently did a factory reset and reinstalled a few mostly media apps and within a week it wanted to “refresh” licenses. Really? I’d rather not [at least seldom] connect to the internet with a old unsupported OS. Amazon feels like Big Brother is watching me. Just let me get in and freshen up those licenses and…perhaps poke around a little! What are you reading, listening to and watching?

Many apps, if even available are lesser versions of the current versions. Some popular apps are not even available.

My old android phone (at least 2 new phones since…and I don’t get a new phone every year) on the other hand…never had [Not saying it don’t happen] an app give me a “license has expired” message.

Here is my hypothetical scenario. I’m going to a remote location in the mountains for a few weeks or even months with no internet access. I load up my devices with books [PDFs], music [MP3s], videos [MP4s]. The Kindle if I’m lucky might work a few days. Then “license has expired” messages appear requiring Wi-Fi which I don’t have, causing the app to become useless. The old android phone on-the-other-hand is still functional. It can still work with the above media formats. Why does that make sense? Because a jpeg or png, pdf or mp4 format basically rarely changes. How about letting me “refresh” the app only when/if the app fails to render the media type because of some format change? Or I may choose to update if a newer version has features I want.

Since the hardware in all likelihood is still fine lets make the device obsolete, by just failing to run the software!

Android charging/data cables

You can’t judge a book by it’s cover. Bought a new Type-C cable for spare at “Five Below”, which use to mean $5 and less, but as soon as the opened one near me it became $5 and up, despite the name. These cables appear to be nice. Nice packaging. quality appearing braided cable. However I bought one from them before an noticed much longer charging times. Perhaps it was a fluke? How hard can it be to make a good cable? Apparently harder than it looks. Actually it’s probably more to do with the materials used than the actual construction. I plugged the new cable into my phone and no click, which is a nice audible assurance that it is inserted correctly. Since I didn’t hear that I decided to check settings.

Wow! Quite a difference. There’s 5+ dollars wasted. I’ve learned my lesson.