Category Archives: Gadgets

toys for men :)

Zynthian – Network Configuration

The Zynthian provides several user interfaces:

  • The most essential are the display, buttons and encoders of the unit, for direct access.
  • Some of the tools additionally provide a native computer window, which can be displayed either via (micro) HDMI or X11 forwarding.
  • A web browser configuration interface, accessible via the network.
  • ssh-access, over the network as well.
  • The MOD-UI-Interface is also available via HTTP.

The Raspberry Pi 4 features an integrated WIFI module, which is disabled by default. One can switch it on via the admin menu directly at the device, but only after it was configured via the web browser configuration interface. So to get the Zynthian connected to a network, an ethernet cable is mandatory. Subsequently you’ll find what I did, what worked and not (in short, a crosslink cable connection does not).

  • The first thing I tried was just connecting it to a MacBook using an ethernet cable. ssh immediately worked, e.g. ssh root@zynthian.local. Even using a web browser, the configuration interface was available at http://zynthian.local. After providing the login credentials, the login screen immedieately reappeared without providing any hint what went wrong. According to the discourse pages, other users observed this behaviour as well.
  • So the next step was to connect the ethernet cable directly to the router. The Zynthian interface discloses the IP address of 192.168.1.5, which one can enter into a web browser. And that’s it. Via the configuration interface, WIFI can be configured. Hint: It will last a couple of seconds until the popup for selecting the network is populated. Just be patient. Now the Zynthian admin interface discloses the WLAN IP as 192.168.1.6 and you can get rid of the ethernet cable..
  • From the config interface, the OS can be updated, what I did immediately.

Great. WIFI works, and the config frontend can be reached without the need of an ethernet cable.

Security hints:

  • You should change the login passwords of your Zynthian, otherwise your machine may be easily hacked and abused by someone else.
  • Additionally, try to disable WIFI from the Zynthian’s admin menu after using it.

Migrating an Uberspace account

I am running a virtual machine at Uberspace.de for about eight years. Unfortunately its operating system will be deprecated at the end of this very year. As a consequence, users must configure a new machine using another account. The staff at Uberspace makes it as easy as possible by providing a migration guide.

I decided to use the occasion to not move data from one machine to the new one. Instead I did a clean install, so as to get rid of old stuff. The main service I run on the machine nowadays is just Nextcloud anyway. The basic setup was just straighforward. Create a new account on Uberspace. Log in via ssh. Download Nextcloud, extract the archive, and point the browser to its document root. Some minimal configuration work was required, well documented over there.

Two time consuming tasks still had to be done. Firstly, I had to extract the user data from the previous installation and to import it into the new. It was not really difficult, but I had to circumvent several pitfalls. The second task was really time consuming – reconfiguring all apps on all devices so as to use the newly created installation. This included a Mac desktop computer and five Android devices. Once again, it was not really difficult, but time consuming.

I’m glad I did it, since the Nextcloud installation was out of date anyway. If the new Uberspace installation lasts for another eight years, the afternoon was well invested.

And by the way, Uberspace is an outstanding provider.

Updating the firmware of a Korg Minilogue XD

Korg provides a firmware updater tool which does all the magic for you. It requires to turn the Minilogue XD into »Update mode«. Unfortunately, unlike advertised, neither the english nor the german manual provide any hint how to accomplish that.

On youtube I found a video explaining how to do it for the Minilogue – hold the buttons 6 and 8 pressed while powering on the device. Consequently, it’s just buttons 14 and 16 on the Minilogue XD.

Edit 2020-01-02:

After the last update, the Minilogue XD complained during startup

Update Required
Panel 1.01
Update Required
Voice 1.01

According to a Gearsluts posting, the Panel update can be performed by holding the buttons 14, Rec, and Rest while powering the on device.

I found no information for the Voice update but for the Prologue, which is buttons 5, Exit, and Shift. Translated to the Minilogue XD this turned out to be buttons 13, Rec, and Rest.

Exchanging the vacuum cleaning engine

About six years ago I purchased an iRobot Roomba 780 vacuum cleaner. Since then, I have no clue how one can survive without such a gadget, despite the fact it was not a cheap investment at that time.

Recently I replaced it with a eufy RoboVac 11S max. There’s nothing wrong with the Roomba, but due to its age, more recent devices like the Robovac have some advantages:

  • The Roomba was relatively rude to some furniture. Combined with its speed and weight (3,8 kg), this left some notable marks on them. The Robovac appearently is much more gentle in this regard.
  • Due to its height of 90 mm, the Roomba either did not make it under some furniture or even got stuck. The Robovac features just 72 mm in height, making it much more maneuverable under low furniture.
  • The Roomba was relatively noisy (61 dB). so I never used it while being at home. The Robovac features just 55dB. It’s not an issue to have it running in one of the neighboured rooms while being at home.
  • Compared to the 15C, the 11S ships without app support. This means you do not need to send data to some cloud service. The 11S ships with a remote control which also can be used to set time schedules.
  • The battery of the Roomba needs replacement, which was an invest about third the price of the Robovac.

The first runs of the Robovac look promising. What I observed is that it has difficulty entering its power dock. Sometimes it enters it perfectly, sometimes it approaches it angular and thus moves it a couple of centimeters. Possibly this is due to some nearby objects so the Robovac struggles to locate the dock properly. Maybe I’ll fix the dock to some mat to position it more stable.

Hardware relief after 7 years

I’m still running a rather barbed Mid 2011 Mac Mini powered by Mac Os X Lion 10.7.5 as my home machine. An upgrade is long overdue, but the later models did not provide any significant benefit. Other Macs (like the iMac) could have been an option, though pricing and glossy displays didn’t really attract me.

I expected the Mini was about to being discontinued. But it isn’t, since Apple announced an upgraded model (available next week) yesterday. A big surprise.

The 2011 model got shipped with a 500GB HDD drive, a 256GB SSD being an option. The two 2018 models feature 128 GB SSD respectively 256 GB SSD per default, 500 GB SSD result in a price boost of 480 respectively 240 €. Compared to the price of current SSDs (128 GB about 25 €, 256 GB about 50 €, 500 GB about 80 €) those options appear a bit pricey (1.379 € respectively 1.489 €). Nevertheless it’s great that the new Mini is available as a replacement of a 7 year old machine.

I expect that some tools I’m using won’t be available for macOs Mojave 10.14 (even the update from 10.13 caused some hickups on my business MacBook). Data migration would be a manual process, and some adapters will be required to connect exiting peripherials (while the new Mini provides excellent connectivity options anyway).

As a conclusion, thanks Apple for the upgrade. It’s much appreciated.

Neulich, als der Notenanzeiger versagte

Es gibt Momente, auf die man als Musiker gerne verzichten würde.

Ich hatte gelegentlich mit Android-Mobiltelephonen Schwierigkeiten dergestalt, dass plötzlich die eingelegte Speichererweiterungskarte als defekt angesehen wurde. Sie war dann zwar am Mac einwandfrei lesbar, aber nicht mehr im Telephon. Einmal ist das passiert, als ich die Routingsoftware nutzen wollte, deren Kartenmaterial ich auf der Karte abgelegt hatte.

Heute ist mir das mit dem sekundären Tablet passiert, als ich in Weißenburg am Instrument gespielt habe. Zwar kann ich die Passacaglia von Buxtehude auch mit nur einem Tablet spielen, allerdings muss ich dann an ein paar Stellen beim Umblättern einige Noten der linken Hand auslassen, was zu hässlichen Löchern im Stück führt.

Ich weiß nicht, warum das mit den Karten in unterschiedlichen Geräten immer mal wieder passiert. Es könnte an der Speicherkarte selbst liegen, am Kartenleseschacht oder einer Unzulänglichkeit des Betriebssystemes.

Ich werde jedenfalls einerseits die Notendateien künftig auf dem internen Speicher statt auf der Speicherkarte ablegen, andererseits die Karte durch ein anderes Modell ersetzen.

Using OsmAnd and Maps.me for a short vacation

For the latest trip I once again used Android apps that make use of Openstreetmap data for offline Navigation. This included three uses: car navigation (routing), hiking support (display a prerecorded track), and finding POIs inside a small town. I used OsmAnd and Maps.me. In short, I prefer the former for hiking and the latter for car navigation. As with any other tool, both have strenghts and weaknesses.

Maps.me

Maps.me focusses on ease of use. Compared to OsmAnd, it is much faster calculating routes. It can also display tracks on top of the map, but only in kml format, not the popular gpx format. Like OsmAnd, it provides synthesized speech output for turn instructions. However, those alone are not reliable enough to reach the destination without deviations. A car mount for the handset is mandatory so that the driver can see the route on the display at crossings.

Unlike OsmAnd, Maps.me stops routing in case the display is switched off. This means the driver cannot switch off the display on highways when the next turn is far ahead. Not to talk about the ability to automatically switch on the display as soon a turn is approaching. That would be great when driving without daylight.

For car routing, Maps.me remains my favourite, mainly due to its overall ease of use.

OsmAnd

OsmAnd feels like a swiss army knife. It can do almost anything one might expect of a mapping application. It features a highly configurable map with several overlays (SRTM contour lines, hillshading, POIs), can import and export tracklogs, supports car, bike, and pedestrian routing and can even warn when violating speed limits. Its routing engine can also cope with stopovers.

Over the years, it became more and more easy to use, despite its many features. On the other hand, those features require a certain amount of controls, while some features are well hidden in some sub menus (I detected one just a couple of days ago).

Its routing engine is rather slow and has difficulties coping with long distances. As a former MoNav developer, I really wonder why none of the routing apps seems to be aware its “realtime” routing engine, which is available for about 7 years now.

Due to its stopovers, I’m still struggling with basic routing like “Just route me back to my hotel.”. In the car mount, the display often is flickering a lot, the handset becomes rather hot and the battery tends draining. Where I love it is during hiking trips. Switch off the phone’s display, put the handset into the pocket and grab it at the next crossing. OsmAnd is still running, did continue to record the tracklog and immediately shows the current location. One can even add waypoints to the current tracklog (though it requires a couple of clicks). I simply love it for that purpose.

OsmAnd also warns about railroad and pedestrian crossings. The latter ones became rather annoying in case multiple of them follow each other. At leat OsmAnd should not announce the next before the first was passed. The current implementation made me mute the car’s hifi system completely.

I got the impression that the POIs in OsmAnd only contain POIs which are present as nodes in the openstreetmap data set. POIs that are mapped as polygons (e.g. shelters while hiking or churches) are not part of the POI set.

Phantom turn instructions

Both OsmAnd as well as Maps.me provide phantom turn instructions. I haven’t figured out yet what is causing those issues, but since both applications suffer from it, it is likely based in the OpenStreetMap data set. Unfortunately, I haven’t figured out the reason yet.

What happens is that both apps tend to say something like “turn left” or “turn slightly right” while driving on a road where no crossing exists at all. I observed this behaviour every now and then, e.g. excessively between this point and Echternach a couple of days ago. Checking the data didn’t show any abnormality, except that the street’s path contains some very short segements every now and then.

Maps.me also suffers from this issue. Today it two times told me “turn left” – in the middle of a highway bridge (like the Sauertalbrücke). A driver following such instructions should face the consequences :) . Unlike the aforementioned way, the bridge does not contain short segments, so I have no clue what actually is causing those mysterious turn instructions.

MIDI recording using an Android device

midicontrolkeyboard

Raspberry Pi 3

I used a Raspberry Pi 3 on top of one of my musical instruments to send program changes, record and playback MIDI as well as recording audio. A cardboard box did host the computer, its touch screen, the power supply, and a lot of cables went out of it (power chord, two MIDI chords, two audio chords, and sometimes a mouse and kayboard connected via USB).

Recording MIDI via Bluetooth LE on Android 6

I wanted to get rid of most of the hardware required by using an Android 6 device with its Bluetooth LE MIDI capabilities. I was looking for a basic MIDI recording application. Rather surprisingly, there was none that did fulfill my essential needs (simply record any MIDI message incoming via Bluetooth).

Recording MIDI via USB using Audio Evolution Mobile Studio

So I looked for apps that at least can record MIDI via USB. It turned out not to be an easy task. I finally selected Audio Evolution Mobile Studio. Of all the apps I inspected, it was the one that is closest to a traditional digital audio workstation.

It doesn’t use the native Android 6 MIDI subsystem. As a consequence, it can’t cope with MIDI over Bluetooth. So I’m still stuck with an USB OTG cable, a power supply for it, and a MIDI to USB cable. Additionally, USB MIDI support is not included when purchasing the app. A further “In-App” purchase is required to unlock this feature. Unfortunately it didn’t accept my preferred USB to MIDI device, the excellent Edirol UM-1S. It did accept the cheap device I bought I couple of months ago, though. This leads to a couple of issues. Firstly, the instrument in question sends a couple of program changes before recording. They appearently all arrive at the handset (since they appear in the MIDI file exported from Audio Evolution Mobile Studio). However some of them get lost each time I playback the MIDI file. Furthermore, the instrument sends a MIDI system exclusive command to reset all program changes before the actual program changes. This command does either not arrive at Audio Evolution Mobile Studio, or it denies recording them.

Audio Evolution Mobile Studio supports the traditional three track types: Audio, virtual instrument, pure MIDI. When pressing the record button, Audio Evolution Mobile Studio automatically creates a new audio track in case no other track is present or switched to recording mode. This behaviour can be switched off via the preferences.

When it comes to MIDI recording, the app shows some neat features that perfectly fulfill my needs. I created four MIDI tracks to record the Kisselbach Gloria Klassik 240. One for the Main organ (MIDI channel 1), one for the swell (MIDI channel 2), one for the pedal board (MIDI channel 3), and one for the program changes plus the volume controller (MIDI channel 12). Audio Evolution Mobile Studio allows to enable recording for multiple tracks at once, plus it allows to choose for each track which MIDI channel should be recorded by it. I was pretty impressed to detect this feature set, since I assume it is a very exotic request that someone wants to record multiple MIDI channels at once.

I already recorded some piece and exported it to MIDI. Obviously it didn’t write the track names to the MIDI file. But otherwise, everything seemed to work fine.

Verdict

Appearently Audio Evolution Mobile Studio does the one thing I need quite well. However, I did not get rid of the cables since it does not support the native MIDI subsystem as instruduced in Android 6. Further, it seems to ignore SysEx data and ignores track names when exporting MIDI. The latter two mean that I have to circumvent those issues by manually editing the resulting MIDI files. It’s annoying, but not really an issue.

Taking into account the many features the app provides, the price tag seems to be OK. For my needs, it’s a bit too expensive (not to mention the extra fee for the MIDI recording feature). I decided to buy it anyway due to the lack of alternatives.

Lineage OS (Android 7.1.1) for a Samsung Galaxy S3

modern-mobile

I wanted to learn more about Android Nougat 7.1.1. I decided to install it on a Samsung Galaxy S3. The following is what I recall so far.

Installing Team Win Recovery Project

  • Download and install the Samsung Driver for Mobile Phones (SAMSUNG_USB_Driver_for_Mobile_Phones.zip)
  • Download and install Odin3 (CF-Auto-Root-m0-m0xx-gti9300.zip).
  • Download Team Win Recovery (twrp-3.0.2-2-i9300.img)
  • Switch on the S3 while holding the volume down, home and power button pressed. Confirm download mode by pressing the volume up button. Connect it via a USB cable. Warning: Make sure to use a quality cable. The first cable I used did prevent the S3 to appear in Odin3.
  • Start Odin3 in admin mode and transmit twrp-3.0.2-2-i9300.img to the S3.

Installing Lineage OS

  • Download Lineage OS (lineage-14.1-20170301-nightly-i9300-signed.zip).
  • Optionally download Google apps. I’ve chosen ARM 7.1. nano since all I was interested in was Google Play Store support.
  • Copy both files to the root fo the phone’s built-in SD card.
  • Boot the phone into Recovery (switch on the S3 while holding the volume up, home and power button pressed.)
  • Wipe Cache, System and Data partitions.
  • Flash Lineage (and optionally Google apps) by selecting the files from the phone’s flash memory.
  • Reboot the phone.

That’s it, basically.

MIDI recording using an Android 6 device

SAMSUNG CSC

Surprisingly I didn’t find any app to record the pieces I play via MIDI (not to mention playback). Though I found a fistful of suitable apps, they still show some drawbacks. Most do not provide native Android 6 API support so I’m stuck to USB (heck, I wanted to get rid of the cables). And even via USB, the apps I tried (like the excellent Samsung Soundcamp) all force the incoming MIDI events to one channel. Unfortunately, my instrument sends events on 4 channels (2 keybeds, one pedalboard, channel 12 for controller data), so the recordings become rather useless.

And since I wanted to actually play the instrument rather than writing code, I do resist the temptation to write an app by myself. At least for the moment :) .

Wenn das Samsung Galaxy S3 mal “spinnt”…

Android Device

Ich verwende nach wie vor ein S3. Es zeigten sich einige Auffälligkeiten:

  • Das Gerät lief ohne ersichtlichen Grund extrem heiß, die Akkulaufzeit nahm dementsprechend rapide ab.
  • Es startete ohne ersichtlichen Grund immer wieder mal unverhofft neu.
  • Letztendlich hing das Gerät in einer Endlos-Reboot-Schleife. Es sah zuerst nach einem Hardwaredefekt des Hauptschalters aus.

Geholfen haben Postings von Jens Herforth (Deutsch) und Scott Adam Gordon (Englisch).

  • Akku entfernen und wieder einsetzen. Das S3 sollte dann eigentlich aus sein, ist bei mir aber von alleine wieder losgelaufen.
  • Die Tasten »Lauter« und »Home« gleichzeitig gedrückt halten. Ich musste dabei gleichzeitig auch noch den Akku einsetzen, siehe vorhergehender Punkt. Keine leichte Aufgabe…
  • Anschließend zusätzlich den Hauptschalter drücken.
  • Im Stock-Recovery-Menü mittels der Lautstärketasten »Wipe Cache Partition« auswählen.
  • Mit dem Hauptschalter bestätigen.

Diese Prozedur führte beim ersten Mal nicht gleich zum Erfolg, weshalb ich das Ganze mehrfach wiederholt habe. Jetzt läuft das Gerät dankenswerterweise wieder wie gewünscht.

Raspberry Pi 3 networking issues

I run a Raspberry for some special purpose application, mainly to record and playback audio and MIDI and remotely controlling some musical instrument. Former hardware revisions provided too little horse power for the task, so the Pi 3 was very tempting. Actually, QTractor now runs without complaining about insufficient CPU frequency, so it obviously was the right decision :) .

The Pi 3 provides two cool new features, both onboard Bluetooth and Wifi connectivity. Thus I bought a Logitech K400 Wireless Touch keyboard (the former model, not the current one) which was just plug and play.

However, I ran into trouble concerning network connectivity. HTTP is very slow. I got none of the NTP applications to work, which is rather painful since the Raspberry provides no battery to keep the time between reboots. ssh is barely usable, since establishing a connection is like some lottery and typing characters via ssh has some severe lagging issues (“5 secs per character!”).

There are a couple of web pages which show that I’m not the only one. For the moment, I gave up in the hope some OS update will improve the situation. Here’s what I tried so far.

Update the operating system

After the issues appeared, I updated the operating system.


sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get upgrade

To no avail.

Switching to Edimax

The former models I ran had no problems connecting to the network using an Edimax EW-7811UN Wireless USB Adapter. Thus I disabled the internal WIFI adapter by editing


/etc/modprobe.d/raspi-blacklist.conf

# Disable onboard WIFI
blacklist brcmfmac
blacklist brcmutil
# Disable onboard Bluetooth, if desired
# blacklist btbcm
# blacklist hci_uart

To no avail.

Disable IPv6

Assuming my rather dated router has problems with the default IPv6 connectivity in Debian Jessie, I tried to completely switch to IPv4:


/etc/sysctl.conf

net.ipv6.conf.all.disable_ipv6 = 1
net.ipv6.conf.default.disable_ipv6 = 1
net.ipv6.conf.lo.disable_ipv6 = 1
net.ipv6.conf.eth0.disable_ipv6 = 1

To no avail.

Disable power saving for the WIFI adapter

Some people reported that disabling the power saving for the WIFI adapter did solve the issues for them. However, a temporary


sudo iwconfig wlan0 power off

does not work for the adapter. The iw command even does not recognize it. iwlist wlan0 power reports that power saving is off already: wlan0 Current mode:off. Anyway I tried to add a line to the interface in /etc/network/interfaces:


iface wlan0 inet manual
wpa-conf /etc/wpa_supplicant/wpa_supplicant.conf
wireless-power off

There are several other pages with hints concerning this issue. I dropped ntp and openntp in favour of ntpdate according to aufschnur.de. Meanwhile, after performing several attempts, I got the time sync working manually using ntpdate -s 0.de.pool.ntp.org – once. After a reboot, the internet connectivity is as unstable as before, and the aforementioned command does exactly nothing. I assume this is due to some built-in timeout.

Power Supply

kyuzumaki reports that the power supply may have an impact. I once also had issues with a touch screen not working corrently which I actually solved by attaching a more powerful supply. However, that current issue was not solved by using the official RPI wall wart.

Conclusion

The issue may have to do with changes between Debian Wheezy and Jessie. I did not try to return to the former one. For the moment I’m fine with waiting, since the main issue for my application is that the date is always wrong. I can do all other things I intend to do with the current installation.

Der langsame Abschied vom NX-Kamerasystem

Wenn man sich für eine hochwertigere Kamera zulegt, entscheidet man sich gleichzeitig für ein bestimmtes “Ökosystem” – zumindest wenn man mit Wechselobjektiven arbeiten möchte.

Ich wunderte mich seinerzeit darüber, mit welcher Agressivität Samsung in den Markt der Systemkameras drängte, während gleichzeitig die Kameras von Mobiltelefonen immer besser und coole Apps angeboten wurden. Die vielen Samsung-Kameras waren jedoch außerordentlich attraktiv, weshalb ich mir zuerst eine NX 300 und später eine NX 30 mit diversen Objektiven zulegte.

Bis heute fehlt dem System jedoch ein Objektiv mit hoher Brennweite, wie sie beispielsweise in der Tierfotografie eingesetzt werden. Es wird wohl auch keines mehr erscheinen, denn Samsung hat begonnen, sich aus dem Kamerageschäft zurückzuziehen, wie die Wirtschaftswoche bereits im November 2015 schrieb.

Zudem scheint auch das Geschäft mit Telezoomobjektiven mehr und mehr unattraktiv zu werden, denn ich las, dass immer öfter Spektive eingesetzt werden, um Tieraufnahmen anzufertigen.

Es bleibt also nur der Griff zu Drittanbieterprodukten. Die haben allerdings den Nachteil, dass sie nicht, wie die nativen Objektive, elektronisch mit der Kamera kommunizieren können. Es bleibt somit viel Handarbeit, um gute Bilder schießen zu können.

Hier eine Auswahl an Telezoomobjektiven:

  • Samsung EX-T50200CSB 50-200 mm. Das Objektiv ist ziemlich gut, allerdings ist der Zoombereich ungünstig. Bei Reisen und Ausflügen erwiesen sich die minimalen 50mm immer wieder als zu viel, in der Tierfotografie die 200mm als zu wenig. Man muss also immer noch ein oder zwei weitere Objektive dabei haben.
  • Samsung L18200MB 18-200 mm. Ein gutes Reiseobjektiv, wenn man den Zoombereich betrachtet. Allerdings fällt es gegenüber dem 50-200mm-Objektiv in der Abbildungsqualität deutlich zurück. Ein Kompromissobjektiv.
  • Samsung 300mm Prime (nie erschienen)
  • Soligor 60-300mm macro lens. Mit diesem Objektiv kann man ganz anständige Nahaufnahmen in der Natur hinbekommen. Allerdings muss man sich ganz schön mit Objektiv und Kamera auseinandersetzen, da die Einstellungen manuell vorgenommen werden müssen.
  • Tokina AT-X 100-300 F=4. Ich kann zu diesem Objektiv leider nichts sagen, da ich es noch nicht im Einsatz hatte. Man liest aber ganz anständiges, wie beispielsweise hier, hier und hier.
  • 300 f4 Pentax Takumar
  • Nikon AI 3.5/400
  • Tamron 150-600 (2 kg)
  • Sigma 150-600 (Mindestdistanz 2,80m)
  • Sigma 50-500mm (Älter und angeblich fast so gut wie das 150-600)
  • Sony 70-400 (“least expensive high-quality telephoto in that range that I saw at the time”)
  • Kiwifotos LMA-PK(A)_NX Adapter Pentax K auf Samsung NX

Samsung hat mit dem NX-System ziemlich viel gut hinbekommen. Die Auswahl nativer Objektive ist gut. Im Telebereich schwächelt das System allerdings. Die Fotografen behelfen sich mit verschiedenen Tricks:

Rose Druckmacher AL180

Ich habe immer Autoventile an meinen Rädern genutzt. Da es in der Umgebung genügend Tankstellen gibt, kann man zu Beginn einer Tour (oder auch unterwegs) kurz halten, den Luftdruck nachfüllen, gleich noch was im Shop mitnehmen und weiterfahren.

Inzwischen werden die Druckluftanlagen an den Tankstellen mit modernen Automaten aufgerüstet. Inklusive Hinweisschild, dass Mitbürger mit Kinderwagen und Radfahrer keine gern gesehenen Kunden sind. Oder noch besser gleich ein Automat, der mit einem Münzeinwurf ausgestattet ist.

Der Rose Druckmacher AL180 wird an verschiedenen Stellen gut bewertet. Günstiger Preis, gute Verabeitung und Leistung. Zur Dauerhaftigkeit kann ich in ein paar Jahren was sagen.

Um ganz ehrlich zu sein war ich verblüfft, wie schnell und locker sich die 3,5 bar Druck im Reifen erreichen lassen. Das passende Ende des Doppelventilkopfes wird auf das Ventil aufgesteckt und der Hebel, mit welchem die Luft auf den verwendeten Ausgang geleitet wird, stellt eine zuverlässige Klemmverbindung her. Wenige Hübe reichen, um den gewünschten Druck zu erreichen. Gefühlt geht es schneller und bequemer als an der Tankstelle. Einziger Nachteil, den allerdings die Tankstelle auch hat, ist die Tatsache, dass der Druckmacher zu sperrig zum Mitnehmen ist :) .

First Jolla steps

Meanwhile I got a bit more used to Jolla’s user interface, and I’m quite curious how well it will serve me.

Of course I immediately started to configure the handset to my uses. Subsequently I shed some light on things I found surprising.

  • Operating System updates are available. The installation requires creating a Jolla account, though.
  • Creating the Jolla account requires passing rather detailed personal information, like a user name, real name, an e-mail address, a country, and even a birthday.
  • Several attempts to download apps or OS updates ended in endlessly looping progress indicators. A Reboot fixed this, though only once. Fortunately there’s a detailed tutorial how to make good use of the recovery mode
  • Connecting the device via USB requires the MTP protocol, which Mac OS X does not support. Copying files to the phone will thus require to insert a microSD card prefilled with the desired data. Hackers alternatively may want to use scp.
  • I managed at least to configure one (of four) owncloud calendars to appear in the phone’s calendar application. All dates appear shifted by an hour, though. Appearently time zones are ignored. The stock calendar application of Android allows to subscribe to multiple CalDAV calendars, and time zones never have been an issue.
  • I didn’t manage to configure CardDAV contacts via owncloud, and according to this (german language) posting, it doesn’t seem to be a problem at my end.
  • An attempt to import contacts from a VCF file caused the people application to be busy for quite some while (actually, unlike this posting, it’s not finished yet). I quit it and tried anew, which finally resulted in imported contacts within seconds. Unfortunately it didn’t import the contacts avatars, though this is a minor issue for my needs.
  • The owncloud news reader (I’m happy it exists!) requires online connectivity to mark messages as read. A notification that the synchronisation failed appears each message the user reads. The Android app is capable of buffering this information offline until the next sync.
  • A file manager is not available, unless the user activates the developer mode and uses the terminal application to activate the file manager. Unfortunately, the file manager shows a blank screen only. I uninstalled it via the shell, and installed the public domain File Browser via the Jolla Store.
  • A chess game is missing, ignoring the fact that GNU chess is available as a command line interface (aka CLI) application.
  • A media player is availabe via the Jolla Store. I was rather surprised that it immediately did show the mp3 as well as the ogg files of the microSD. It even showed album covers for ogg files, which are just jpg images placed in the folders containing the album’s ogg files. I’m happy :) .
  • The final pulse to go for a Jolla Phone was that someone ported MoNav for Sailfish and made it available via openrepos.net. I copied some map data to the microSD. To make it available in MoNav, I enabled the developer mode to get access to the terminal application. Then I used vi ~/.config/MoNavClient.conf. I added a section named [MapPackages] and the key-value-pair path=/media/sdcard/6632-3036/MoNavMaps/. I hope the 6632-3036 is some static UUID for my sdcard and does not change during the next reboot.
  • I’m missing a chess game, ignoring the fact that GNU chess is available as a command line interface (aka CLI) application :) .

Automobiltechnik, die mich nicht begeistert

Kürzlich hatte ich für eine Fahrstrecke von rund 700 km über Stadtmobil einen VW Golf gebucht. Wenn man kein eigenes Fahrzeug unterhält, an das man sich gewöhnen kann, sondern immer wieder unterschiedliche Fahrzeuge nutzt, fällt es besonders auf, wenn man nicht intuitiv und spontan zurechtkommt.

Telefon

Mein Telefon wollte ich mitnichten an die Bordelektronik koppeln – weder wollte ich telefonieren, noch wollte ich Musik hören. Unangenehmerweise hatte der Vorbucher selbiges genutzt. Das Fahrzeug suchte daher verzweifelt erst nach diversen Geräten von Vorbuchern (die ich persönlich nicht kenne) und anschließend nach einer Reihe von Standardgeräten. Die Anzeige zwischen Drehzahl- und Geschwindigkeitsmessgeräten liegt dummerweise ziemlich zentral, weshalb die ständigen Wechsel der Meldungen extrem vom Verkehrsgeschehen ablenken.

Somit ist man versucht, die Meldung loszuwerden. Das ist mir teilweise gelungen. Im Armaturenbrett findet sich eine große Schalkfläche, die mit “Phone” beschriftet ist. Nach einigem Herumgeklickere ist es mir zwar nicht gelungen, den Wagen davon zu überzeugen, sich überhaupt nicht für irgendwelche Telefone zu interessieren, aber immerhin habe ich es durch Abschalten der Bluetooth-Konnektivität geschafft, dass die Anzeige einen statischen statt einen dynamisch wechselnden Text anzeigt. Das ist doch schomma was.

Ich habe allerdings keine Ahnung, ob diese Anzeige jetzt die nächsten fünfzehn Lebensjahre des Fahrzeuges verbleiben wird. 15 Jahre, in denen sich der Bluetooth-Standard sicher ändern und diese Einrichtung voraussichtlich unbrauchbar machen wird.

Geschwindigkeitsregelanlage

Ich bin ein großer Freund des Tempomats. Er hilft Treibstoff und Knöllchen sparen. Da Tachometer qua gesetzlicher Anforderung eher vor- denn nachgehen, stellt man natürlich gerne etwas mehr ein als das Hinweisschild anzeigt. Statt 80 km/h also 85 und statt 100 km/h 108. Wobei diese Maßnahme der Drängelei der nachfolgenden Verkehrsteilnehmer keinen Abbruch tut, aber das nur am Rande.

In einem Golf kann die Einheit schonmal aus einigen nützlichen Steuerelementen am Lenkrad bestehen, die zusätzlichen Geber wie Gas- und Kupplungspedal nicht mitgerechnet. Im Lenkrad finden sich 7 (in Worten: sieben) Bedienelemente. Wobei die Plus- und Minustasten doppelt belegt sind und zudem unterschiedlich reagieren. Macht also schon 9. Die Lernkurve ist somit recht steil. Eine intuitive Bedienung ist nicht gegeben.

Besonders die Plus-Minus-Regler machen mir zu schaffen. Denn sie verhalten sich unterschiedlich. Kurzes Drücken regelt die Zielgeschwindigkeit in Zehnerschritten. Fein. Langes Drücken regelt die Zielgeschwindigkeit in Einerschritten. Auch fein. Gewöhnungsbedürftig ist, dass der Vorwärtsregler sich unterschiedlich verhält. Bei den Zehnerschritten wird zur Zielgeschwindigkeit hinzuaddiert. Fein. Bei den Einerschritten wird jedoch zur Momentangeschwindigkeit hinzuaddiert. Die zuvor in Zehnerschritten angepeilte Zielgeschwindigkeit springt also wieder komplett auf die Momentangeschwindigkeit zurück. Das überraschte mich.

Ferner regelt die Anlage nicht tatsächlich die Geschwindigkeit. Wenn ich auf der Landstraße mit 100 fahre und dreimal die Minustaste drücke, dann bremst ein Audi tatsächlich auf 70 km/h herunter. Sehr schön. Ein Golf mit 9 bzw. 11 Steuerelementen jedoch nicht. Insofern ist eines der Hauptnutzungsszenarien, nämlich das Vermeiden von Strafzetteln, nicht gegeben.

Reifenluftdrucksensoren

Kürzlich hatte ich den Firmenwagen zwecks Reifenwechsels in der Werkstatt. Die Gelegenheit war günstig, denn der Wagen erinnerte mich seit einigen Tagen bei jedem Einschalten der Zündung an den anstehenden Service, und die Frontschutzscheibe war durch einen Steinschlag lädiert.

Nach dem Abholen meldete der Wagen auf dem nächsten Weg zum Kunden einen Druckverlust. Ich habe also die Autobahn verlassen und den Druck geprüft. Alles in Ordnung eigentlich. Also neuen Termin vereinbart. Nicht ganz ohne Überheblichkeit bekam ich dann gezeigt, wie ich den derzeitigen Wert als Referenzwert im Wagenrechner hinterlegen kann. Hätte ich den Reifenwechsel selbst durchgeführt, wäre das sicher meine Aufgabe gewesen. Aber so? Naja…

Von der Lust, selbst ein Fahrzeug zu kaufen

Vorhin las ich in einer Nachrichtenmeldung, dass im Vergleich zu den 90er Jahren heute viel mehr Fahrzeuge von Firmen als von Privatpersonen zugelassen würden. Das wundert mich nicht. Die heutigen Fahrzeuge sind übersät mit Funktionen, Schaltern, Knöpfen und Displays, deren Bedienung mich schlicht und ergreifend nur nervt. Meinem Firmenwagen würde ich beispielsweise gerne abgewöhnen, das Radio bei jedem Starten automatisch einzuschalten. Trotz mehrmaligem Geklickere in den Fahrzeugmenüs habe ich es nicht hinbekommen. Das mag meiner Faulheit, das Wagenhandbuch zu lesen, geschuldet sein. In Zeiten von Smartphone und Apps möchte ich sowas jedoch ohne Lesen der Dokumentation hinbekommen können.

Ich habe das Gefühl, dass wir in der Softwareentwicklung trotz Smartphones noch immer einen weiten Weg vor uns haben, uns auf das Wesentliche zu konzentrieren und tatsächlich das zu schaffen, was wir gerne mit dem englischen Begriff »Value« zu umschreiben versuchen.

Ich bin dankbar darum, über Stadtmobil so viele verschiedene Fahrzeuge nutzen zu können. Keines davon überzeugt mich, und meine Lust, selbst eines zu kaufen, tendiert gegen null.

Manual white balance of the Samsung NX30

Under daylight conditions, the Samsung NX30 does a pretty good job concerning auto white balancing. It has difficulties to cope with energy saving bulbs at the ceiling, though. Fortunately it provides manual white balance, too. The manual is a bit fuzzy about its usage, though. Here’s how to do it:

  • At the rear ring, press WB.
  • Use the ring to select custom white balance instead of any of the presets.
  • Do not confirm your selection by pressing the »OK« button.
  • Instead, press »DISP« while the menu ist still open. A small rectangle will appear at the center of the screen.
  • Shoot some white plane, e.g. a sheet of paper.

That’s it. The white plane should now appear as white in the preview display and you are ready to shoot as usual.

Korg announced the Kronos 2

There have been some rumors, since the Kronos X 88 has not been available for purchase for quite some while now. Meanwhile Korg announced the Kronos 2, so the most obvious new features are now known.

The changes can be classified as »minor improvements«. The piano engine has been updated, the touch screen now accepts drag and drop (e.g. to open the lid of the grand piano), the setlist mode allows to adjust the size of the text and to select colors for the particular buttons, and last but not least, the cheap plastic cheeks have been replaced by wooden panels.

I have no clue whether Korg will provide the software updates for users of previous models. For my uses, the improvements are of minor concern, thus I don’t care. No new audio engines have been added (I hoped the Wavestation software plugin would find its way to the Kronos), I haven’t read anything about more memory slots for programs (21 banks are a lot, but little in case most of them are already filled with factory sounds), and the limitation of the effects slots in multi mode still seem to persist.

IMO Korg do a great Job these days. The Kronos is an absolutely outstanding machine since its first incarnation, turning the engines of the competitors “to dust”. For about 4k € you get 9 synth engines in one device, tons of factory sounds for almost any genre, drum tracks, a sequencer and so on. The machine is useful in the studio as well as on stage. The only thing that hinders live usage is its size, weight, and missing handle bars of the 88 and 73 key incarnations.

Update 2014-11-19: V3 will be available for previous models.
Update 2014-12-05: OS 3.0.2 is available (german language).

Raspberry Model B, Wolfson audio card, wooden case

That’s a Raspberry Pi (former Model B, not the more recent B plus) with a Wolfson audio card attached in a wooden case from guitarreria.com. After my first attempt with the built-in audio card of a B plus model, I decided for this configuration to get some better audio performance.

The project currently is in hibernation mode due to some other activities. However, the combination is that great that it will make a nice Xmas present for some family members :) .