Apple just announced they're discontinuing the iPod Touch. I'm surprised it hadn't happened earlier! Still, it's sad to see the end of an era for these devices which are effectively smartphones without the phone / cellular data connectivity. I still have my iPod Touch from 2014 that I use occasionally for FaceTime which aside from poor battery life and being stuck on an older version of iOS, it still works smoothly.
For the past two years, my audio solution has been a dedicated MP3 device. Since most of the content I consume I download and listen to offline, a dedicated MP3 device doesn't drain my phone's battery or take up storage space.
I started with the FiiO M5, which is like an iPod Shuffle. The device was great, but all it took was one drop for the screen to crack at which point I upgraded to the FiiO M6. The nice thing about the M6 is that the OS is a stripped down version of Android meaning you can side-load applications such as Spotify. The bad thing, the hardware can't handle (even heavily optimized versions) of these applications making the user experience frustrating. The touchscreen interface is great for navigation especially when you have large collections. However, since I only use the device for podcasts and audiobooks and don't get the benefits of installing streaming music apps, I'd be better off with a more affordable device like those from SanDisk.
It's been a little over a year since I started hosting my website on Azure. The resources I use include:
- Azure Storage: Where all my site assets are stored.
- Azure CDN: Content delivery
- Azure Logic Apps: Event-based jobs to syndicate new posts on Twitter and Mastodon.
I haven't tracked traffic for the entire year but since October of last year the site has gotten roughly 5,000 visitors.
Taking all that into account, I've only had to pay $2.06 most of it being the storage I use for the site. In comparison, I was previously hosting my website through my domain provider in a shared server where it cost about $60!
If you're interested in how this site is built, check out the colophon.
Twitter is testing a new feature called Twitter Circles where you can restrict the reach of your tweets to up to 150 people. I remember the days of MySpace where many relationships were made / broken as a result of being in someone's Top 8 Friends list 😆
Hello Mastodon from lqdev.me. Got POSSE (Publish (on your) Own Site, Syndicate Elsewhere) working for Mastodon! I already had an Azure Logic App which took the latest post from my RSS feed and published to Twitter. Now it's also enabled for Mastodon. Might do a writeup later in the blog on how to do it.
Yesterday I ran into more feed goodness. When going to a website to get the weather forecast, weather alerts are displayed (if there are any).
I thought, wouldn't it be great to be able to subscribe to those alerts without having to go to the website?
A quick search revealed the National Weather Service provides these alerts in ATOM format for each of the states in the U.S. You have the option of tracking updates at the national, state, zone, and county level.
Subscribing is as easy as adding the link for the respective feed to your favorite feed reader. If you're interested, you can find the list of feeds at https://alerts.weather.gov/
In light of recent developments on Twitter, I see more people looking for alternative platforms. Personally, I don't think anything beats the level of customization and control you get from using your own website and RSS for sharing ideas and publishing content. However, it's great to see so many new friends in the Fediverse on platforms like Mastodon. I won't go into what the Fediverse is but you can check out the Fediverse wiki for more info. In many ways the Fediverse will feel familiar, yet foreign. Many people have shared tips on getting started, but I'll share some of the ones I've personally used to organically curate my feed.
- Use hashtags. Similar to Twitter, hashtags are a good way of finding people and content related to the topic of interest.
- Follow feditips and FediFollows. As the names suggest, they provide good tips and suggest interesting accounts to follow in the Fediverse.
As an alternative if you're not ready to create an account, you can use RSS. I'm a big fan of RSS. Appending
.rss to any account on platforms like Mastodon (for example https://mastodon.online/@FediFollows.rss) provides you with the RSS feed of an account's posts letting you subscribe to their content through your favorite RSS feed reader.
Feel free to say hi at toot.lqdev.tech/@lqdev. See you in the Fediverse!
Here's a few links I found in the interwebs today that I thought were worth sharing.
Ubuntu 22.04 LTS Released
For my personal computing needs, Manjaro has been my default Linux distro. However, for hosting and cloud VMs I go back and forth between Debian and Ubuntu depending on which better supports the software I'm running. Canonical announced the release of the latest Ubuntu LTS version 22.04. Check out their blog post for more details on what's new.
Self-hosting Bitwarden on DigitalOcean
When it comes to password managers, other than KeePass, my favorite it Bitwarden. It's open-source, built on .NET, has excellent features that get even better with the low-cost paid version, but most importantly provides you the option of self-hosting. If you're looking to self-host Bitwarden on DigitalOcean, make sure to check out the guide they just published.
How DALLE-2 Actually Works
A few weeks ago, OpenAI announced the release of DALLE-2. Open AI describes DALLE-2 as, "...a new AI system that can create realistic images and art from a description in natural language." If you want to understand the details of how it works, you could read the 27 page research paper Hierarchical Text-Conditional Image Generation with CLIP Latents. AssemblyAI just published an approachable guide into the inner workings of DALLE-2. If you're interested in that, check out their blog post on the topic.
Emacs Configuration Generator
In my early days of using Emacs, I often found it difficult to customize it to my needs. Not only did I not know what was possible, but it also caused some anxiety because I didn't feel confident enough making major tweaks. If you're getting started with Emacs and aren't sure how to configure it, this neat utility helps you generate a config file for Emacs.
If you're building machine learning applications, one of the main things you'll need is data. This data can reside in databases such as MySQL, SQL Server, and Postgres. Algorithms are applied to this data downstream using libraries written in languages like Python, R, and .NET. This not only means potentially moving the data from the database to another process but also using another library to train models. According to the project description on GitHub, "PostgresML is an end-to-end machine learning system. It enables you to train models and make online predictions using only SQL, without your data ever leaving your favorite database." If that's something you're interested in, check out the project on GitHub.
About 2 episodes into the show Archive 81 on Netflix and so far so good. I listened to a few episodes of the podcast (by the same name) it's based on a few years ago. Now it makes me want to go back and listen to it again. It also makes me think about what the Black Tapes could've been had it gotten a TV or movie adaptation. If you're into the found footage, cult horror type of stories (think Blair Witch + Midsommar + Rosemary's Baby), definitely check it out.
Vertigo is one of my all time favorite movies, so I was excited to learn about Vertigo AI. Vertigo AI is an experiment that trained a model on footage from the film Vertigo to produce its own original short film. There aren't many details on the AI aspects of it, but I suspect there's a Generative Adversarial Network (GAN) similar to Norman behind it. Check out the generated movie.
That was easy. Site's been updated to .NET 6 and all it took was a one-line change.
I got a reminder on the importance of backups last night. New Jami username is lqdev1. Fortunately I wasn't as active on there so not a big deal to lose my original username.
I recently came accross the Terms of Service, Didn't Read (TOSDR) website. Like most people, I'm guilty of clicking "I have read and agree to the terms of service" without actually doing so. TOSDR simplifies terms of service documents by highlighting the main points for many popular services. I'm not sure how maintenance and the frequency of that maintenance work. There's a rating systems which I also am not sure how it works. However, you are provided with the documents that were used to come up with the ratings and summaries, so you can look into it yourself. Overall, I think it's an incredibly useful tool to make sense of how your data is managed across these platforms.
Found these while cleaning out some drawers 😢. Good times.
I've written before about how versatile the RSS protocol is for publishing and consuming content. Podcasts are one of the many media types that largely rely on RSS, making it easy to subscribe and manage using an RSS client of your choice. Like RSS, VLC is versatile in the type of media it can play. When you combine the two, you're able to stay updated on the latest episodes from your favorite podcasts using the RSS reader of your choice and use the episode's URL to stream the audio in VLC.
Lately I've been using github.dev to author posts and make light edits on this site. One use case where it's come extremely handy has been authoring content, specifically these microblog-like posts from my Surface Duo. Instead of opening the laptop, I can open up my Surface Duo and visit my site's repo through github.dev. When I orient the device in landscape mode I have one screen display the VS Code-like web environment while the other screen displays the keyboard. Snippets, version control, extensions, and themes all carry over making the experience consistent. Committing changes through the version control utilities immediately kicks off the GitHub Action to build and publish the site with the latest changes. Pairing the GitHub online editor environment with the Duo's dual-screen form factor showcases the productivity and convenience both of these products provide.
I've been looking at different alternatives to Google Analytics for website stats. I don't need anything fancy, just basic page counts. Eventually I settled on GoatCounter because it's lightweight, open-source, and privacy-friendly. You can either use their managed service or self-host. Deployment with Docker felt a bit much so I did a standalone deployment to a VM. The Linode StackScript is probably the easiest way to do it.
While browsing the interwebs, I ran into the site United States Early Radio History which contains events spanning different time periods. As an operator it's fascinating to learn about the history and see how radio continues to play a large role in our day-to-day.
The other day I was going down a Wikipedia rabbit hole and learned those click-baity "Top 10 ..." or "Worst 10 ..." articles apparently have a name, listicles. The more you know...
Today I learned about canonical URLs. While looking into how I can syndicate content from this site, specifically longer form blog posts on other sites like dev.to, I came across canonical tags.
Basically they're a way of telling the internet, specifically search engines, what version of your content is the main copy or single-source of truth.
Currently I've configured my site so it's not indexed or crawled. However, for sites I don't own I don't have the same level of control. Check out the canonicalization and SEO best practices for canonical URLs articles from Moz if you're interested in learning more.
I have almost zero artistic skills, so when I came across NVIDIA Canvas I was extremely excited!
Essentially it's an application that takes simple brushstrokes as input and uses a Generative Adversarial Network (GAN) to turn them into realistic landscape photos.
I had known about GANs being used to generate faces (see This Person Does Not Exist) but it's one of the first times I've seen them used to enhance drawings.
Time to take my stick figures to the next level!
Came accross this event series via Chris Aldrich's microblog.
Here's Chris' original post
Every Monday, I sit down with a cup of coffee and learn something interesting about history through old manuscripts. Join our friends Dot Porter (@leoba) and the Schoenberg Institute for Manuscript Studies (@sims_mss) at Coffee with a Codex.
Basically it's a virtual meeting where experts go over manuscripts on a variety of topics. I'll probably check out next week's event.
It only took 6 hours but I was able to get it done with a little help.
No Windows 11 upgrade for me. 😥
Just because I can't doesn't mean you can't though. Go and check if you're eligible at Windows Update
Start > Settings > Update & Security > Windows Update.
See Manage updates in Windows for more details.
For alternative install options, check out the Download Windows 11 page.
Just jumping on the bandwagon. A few online services are down at the moment 😬
Not to worry...the personal site is still chugging along 😌
Just read an interesting article publised in Technology Review called Digital gardens let you cultivate your own little bit of the internet.
In a sense, some of the updates to this site like the addition of the different feeds can be thought of as "cultivating" my own digital garden.
I would've been okay with The Many Saints of Newark being a 4 hour movie. I didn't want it to end. Now I have to rewatch The Sopranos.
For personal use, I tend to default to Skype for my video / audio call needs.
Great to see there are some long-term plans for the app and it'll be around for a while more.
Hello World! First post in the personal feed.