This Week I Learned - 2017 Week 45

Last week post or something from the archive.

So many things to learn and yet, so little time. But once you've understand it, most of these stuff are rather quite straightforward.

The local startup scene have moved from the early days of cloning social network and shopping to the current day of big data, machine learning, artificial intelligent, and blockchain. History will repeat itself again as illustrated in Gartner Hype Cycle. The hype cycle will eventually die down and new shinny things will emerge again. Does the local startups works? Partly yes and no. Only time will tell.

SSDD. Probably the best term I can think of describing the web stack right now, especially on the front end part. Endless things "reinvented" or rediscovered again and again and again. One thing for sure, there is a clear distinctive separation between the Front End and the Back End development.

NBA Go, the finest NBA score from command line. Sadly, it still doesn't display well under different terminals and the dependency on Node.js. Is Node.js is the new PHP? Is Node.js going to dethrone PHP? Yes, my survey and gut feeling indicates so.

Agile Product Ownership in a Nutshell. It's going to be a long adjustment and readjustment process to get it done, if possible, right. Managing requirements and stakeholders expectations outweighs the implementation. Furthermore, it's even more challenging for flat organization with different geographical offices and working cultures. Interesting development indeed and can't wait for the growth and expansion.

MSP430FR2433. Another new board from TI.

This Week I Learned - 2017 Week 44

Last week post or the past stuff.

SMS bulk notification is a sunset industry right now in MY. I doubt people are still using SMS for communication except to receive notification from the banks, telcos, or something else. Companies or these value-added service providers are struggling to sustain their business and finding ways to pivot their core business to something else. However, I still fail to see how they going to evolve from there.

I've been travelling to a certain part of KL these days and every time I'm around that area, these service providers will spam me with SMS message relating to the services in that area. Suspected my telco provider have been sharing my preferences and location to these third party value-added service providers. Not to mention recent mobile data leaked.

Diet change seems to work somehow. Will continue with it and keep monitoring the progress.

Recent events, unfortunately, reinforced my prejudice regarding certain beliefs. The research summary shown below (emphasis added) best described it. Lesson learned. Move on.
"People are quick to change their moral values depending on which rule means more cash for them instead of others, a study shows. The researchers conclude that the "Pursuit of self-interest is tempered by the constraints of coordination. People seek not only to benefit themselves but also to persuade other people that they are morally right in doing so."
The "Rules' of Writing. (via HN) Definitely agree with the minimize the usage of adjectives and adverbs or better, kill it. Overuse is a sign of lazy writing, for examples:
"The man moved slowly."

Where you can rewrite using more vivid and stronger verbs.
"The man sneaked."
"The man strolled."
"The man limped."

Mastery is the side effect of deliberate and constant practices. You may or may not achieve it but nevertheless, if you enjoy doing it, then just continue as it. You can always start with technical writing.

What Python stack should you use? AWS Lambda, Python, AWS Cognito, Postgres and ReactJS. Interesting conclusion that goes against the bare-bone frameworks like Flask or Bottle.

Nature is both brutal and weird. What will happen when these eggs grow into mature adult bettta fish? (emphasis added by me)
"During and after spawning, the male uses his mouth to retrieve sinking eggs and deposit them in the bubble nest (during mating the female sometimes assists her partner, but more often she simply devours all the eggs she manages to catch). Once the female has released all of her eggs, she is chased away from the male's territory, as she will likely eat the eggs. If she is not removed from the tank then she will most likely be killed by the male."

This Week I Learned - 2017 Week 43

Last week post or the usual archive.

Lots of things I've learned and shared during the week. I sincerely hope the young lady who is starting a new chapter in her life is going to learn to invest her money wisely.

Seven years ago, there was one technical question that still lingered on. Due to some unexpected coincidence, I managed to revisit and solve it. The lesson learned here is given any web application performance problem,  if the bottleneck issue cannot be optimized further and the programming language lack of or stable support for asynchronous model, just delegate it to a message queue system.

Do you have the Learners Syndrome? Yes I do.

Where Do Old Programmers Go? The best, funniest, and sad answer is "They don't Go anywhere, instead they Rust?". But one question still remains, as Slashdot reader puts it (emphasis added by me). In the end of the day, is between money and legacy.
"Another who used to be self-employed coding for people on a consulting basis told me he got into woodworking, eventually. His reasoning? As you get older, you start asking yourself questions like, "What have I created that will be used and enjoyed by others even after I'm gone?" It's easy to sink years of your life into a software application, only to find that in a decade or two, nobody is using it anymore. It's become "old and obsolete". If you build good quality, hand-crafted furniture pieces? They're quite likely to be used for 100 years or more. Build a dresser for one of your kids and they may even be handing it down to THEIR kids."
How to write efficiently. Keep it short and simple.

Scott And Scurvy. Really long but worth going through the whole essay or you like the YouTube version of it. So much wasted efforts on focusing on the wrong stuff than we should just focus more on the medical and scientific research. Scurvy is a curable disease due to lacking of Vitamin C.

This Week I Learned - 2017 Week 42

Last week post or something from the archive.

Sweet old week 42. Another ten more weeks and we can conclude the year 2017. Things are getting more exciting. Switching different diet seemed to help somehow, even the complexion of old wounds was getting better.

21 years. That's is probably the longest overdue to-do item I've checked off this week. When I was young, Japanese Drama was a regular slot our local TV channel TV2. There was this drama and song which I partially remembered but can't remember the name or the casts. The tune have been humming inside my head for the past 21 years.

While building a play list of songs to test different amplifier or speakers, I stumbled upon a list old 90's Japanese opening theme songs. The first song on the list was the bloody tune that have been lingering in my mind for so long. The name of the song is "Ima Sugu Kiss Me (今すぐkiss me)" sang by the pop/rock band, Lindberg. You can safely ignore the awkward 90's fashion sense and MTV style. And the name of the drama is "Sekai de Ichiban Kimi ga Suki (世界で一番君が好き!)".

Dreyfus model of skill acquisition. One of the issue when picking up new skill is you may stuck at the advanced beginner level and can't move on to the next level. The joke about having ten years experience but doing the same thing ten times clearly illustrates this sad but truth scenario. How you know you're stuck in the advanced beginner level? Observe your seniors who have work much longer than you. Refactor your wetware is one of the possible way to overcome this.

Philharmonic Audio Affordable Accuracy speakers. Some knowledge on electronic and speaker design does help to improve an existing good enough speakers to excellent level. Again, sadly we can't get the parts here in MY.

The Farmer's Horse by Alan Watts. Not really much about the lesson of the story but the origin of the story. I've read this story several times and there are several versions. Some believed this is an old Chinese parable but I don't remember reading this story in any ancient Taoism literature. There are always stories from second source rather than the primary source. I was wondering what is the primary source of the story?

Vim after 15 years. (via HN). Time to clean up my Vim configuration again.

The ES9038PRO DAC chip (details from manufacturer). Never buy product by the brand, always look into the component used. Compare the specifications and features and purchase according to your budget. However, product based on this DAC chip is still rather expensive. Can't wait to get myself on any cheaper DACs based on this chip from China to test it out like the TFT HifiDuino project. Comparable, you also can get DAC using the AK4497EQ chip.

Coursera - Writing in the Sciences - Week 4

Continue with week 4. I've been quite behind the schedule and needs to stick back the schedule. Managed to finally sit down and went through all the week 4 modules in one session straight which took me around 3 hours. For the coming weeks, I should be able to get back on track.

4.1 More paragraph practice
The key take away from this module is emphasis on paragraph. Two important things:

(1) What's the paragraph about?
(2) What's the main idea or important points?

Good exercise to learn this is to summarize the main idea of the blog posts, papers, or other published literature. Webshit Daily is a good example of such writing with humour and sarcasm.

When you've a paragraph with complex idea, we can represent the concept as table or diagrams. As they said, a picture is worth a thousand words. If there are repetitive words or ideas, shorten it to take away the repetition. Wordiness may also leads to ambiguity, rewrite it to become more specific.

When to use passive voice? When it doesn't matter who did it.

Use "However" when you want to contrast something in the previous sentence.

One paragraph should contains one main idea. If you have two ideas within a paragraph, rewrite it into two paragraphs instead.

A paragraph can contains 1 - 3 sentences. Yes, there a paragraph with one sentence. I always think that a paragraph should at least have four sentences. One topic sentence, two supportive sentences, and one final concluding sentence.

4.2 Overview of the writing process
The main point is how do you approach writing? There are three major steps:

(1) Pre-writing.
A process of collecting, synthesizing, and organizing your data and ideas of your writing.

(2) Writing the first draft.
Turn the ideas into complete sentences. Writing should be fast and quick. Fsck grammar!

(3) Revision.
Revise to make it sounds better.

As a writer, you should follow the three steps in a sequential manner. Don't do two steps in one time. Multi-tasking is always bad! For example, start writing without much research is a typical approach by most people but this is not recommended. Not only this will stress you out, you are also prone to distraction as you're busy googling and doing something else. As you all know, googling for information will often leads to other unproductive online activities like reading news, checking social media status, and others. Also, when you're focus on the details of writing, you will lost focus on the big picture. Therefore, invest more time in pre-writing step.

Similarly, do not carry out writing the first draft and revision at the same time. Fsck grammar! Just make sure you have written down the ideas in complete sentences. Is okay you've wrong grammar, spelling, or the sentences do not sound good. That is for the last step -- revision!

The next question is how much effort or time we should spend on each step? The recommended breakdown are as follows:

- Pre-writing (70%)
- Writing the draft (10%)
- Revision (20%)

See how important the pre-writing process is. While going through this module, I've realized that my approach to writing, especially writing for learning should follow in this sequence!

4.3 The pre-writing step
Again, remove the bad habit of writing and gathering information simultaneously. Focus on gathering information. Don't starting writing unless you've gather and organize the information. If you have a sense of overall structure of your writing, then you can proceed to the next step.

To have an overview, use several available organization system. For example, mind map or road map so that you've an outline of the overall document. By organizing the ideas, you will know what are the missing pieces and what to search next. This process will take a while. If you're stuck, do something else. Subconsciously, the missing pieces will come to you, eventually in one way or another. Always carry a recorder, a pen, or any capturing ideas tools. You can even put a water proof whiteboard in your bathroom.

When come to organizing ideas with different viewpoints, group the arguments. For example, you can group the ideas by those who support it, the counter arguments, and the rebuttals.

4.4 The writing step
Just write. Fsck grammar or spelling or what ever style. Convey your organized ideas into complete sentences. Focus on the logical organization of your ideas. Best to set a timer on this so that your priority is to finish the writing instead of doing any revision or editing.

Do not edit your writing. Just write it down!

4.5: Revision
Six important steps which will improve the revision process. These are:

(1) Read your writing out loud.
The main purpose is to identify awkwardness in your writing. When the writing sounds good, then the reader will appreciate the natural flow of the writing.

(2) Do a verb check.
To make sure your writing is expressed in a direct way, underline all the main verb in each sentence. There are three issues with verb:

(a) Lackluster verb. For example, "are".
(b) Passive verb. For example, "was".
(c) Burried verb. For example, the main verb is too far from the subject. We have discussed this in previous week.

(3) Don't be afraid to cut.
Identify these issues to improve your writing. Those marked in bold are my bad writing habit.

(a) Dead weight words or phrases.
(b) Empty words or phrases.
(c) Long words or phrases.
(d) Unnecessary jargons and acronyms.
(e) Repetitive words or phrases. 
(f) Adverbs. (very, really, quite, or basically)

(4) Organizational review.
Tag the paragraph of your writing. Each tag is a summed up main point of the paragraph.

(5) Get outside feedback.
As the reader with or without the domain knowledge for feedback. The reader should be able to identify the main point, the take-home message, or the significance of your writing. If they are unable to do so, ask them to identify the part which are hard to grasp. Their feedback is the focus of your revision.

(6) Find a good editor.
Someone know have the domain knowledge and good in writing.

4.6: Checklist for the final draft
Finally, before sending out the writing to the editor or journal, go through these check list below to ensure consistency and accuracy.

(a) Check for consistency.
You writing style and so forth.

(b) Check for numerical consistency. 
For example, is the writing match the result in the table? Sometimes, sloppy copy and paste can cause inconsistency between the numerical data and the writing.

(c) Check your references.
One main issue is citation propagation where the writer back his/her statements based on a secondary source instead of the main source. Always do fact checking and reference to the main source.

Learning Objectives
(1) Practice writing clear and concise paragraphs.
Some common tips.

(2) Describe the steps in the writing process.
Most important lesson learned here. Pre-writing is so crucial that we also neglect it and do it together with writing. There will be no writing until you have completed the pre-writing step.

(3) Recognize the importance of spending sufficient time pre-writing.
This learning note was done in such way where I jot down the ideas which took me 3 hours. The writing was fast and it took around 1 hour.

(4) Recognize that good writing requires extensive revision.
Read, review, revise, and repeat.

This Week I Learned - 2017 Week 41

Last week post and something else from the archive.

Slow week. Too many pending stuff that needs my urgent attention and got sidetracked into firefighting some unplanned work.

So much I've learned regarding audio stuff. Some are hard lessons. First, active (or powered) and passive speaker have different features and usages. When you're getting a standalone DAC or DAC/Amplifier combo, make sure the DAC have enough output terminals. For example, passive speakers need two pairs of left and right output terminals where each pairs is channeled out to each speaker. Good comparison is the popular JBL LSR 305 and Pioneer SP-BS22-LR. See screenshots of the input terminals for each speaker.

The JBL LSR 305 only have two types of input, XLR and 6mm jack.

Meanwhile, the SP-BS22-LR have both positive and negative terminals. You will need to connect speaker wires to transfer the sound signal to both left and right speakers.

Second hard lesson. Not all amplifiers are created equally. Bookshelf and tower (floor-standing) speakers needs different output watts to produce optimal sound output.

After so many days, managed to finish Neil Gaiman's American Gods  book. Sadly, the TV series does not really live up to the book expectation (maybe due to limited budget?).

Use the `git stash` command correctly. Differentiate between `git pop` (apply and remove) and `git stash` (apply and keep in stash cache).

This Week I Learned - 2017 Week 40

Last week post or the usual archive stuff.

Week 40. Twelve more weeks to go before the end of the year.

The case against open office when people just copy without including the subtle details of the design and layout. While many organization sugarcoat the many benefits of of open office layout, the main advantage is the organization save a significant money using such layout.

200 productive hours per month? (via HN) Research shown that it's possible on daily basis, if a worker can concentrate 4 hours on deep work and remaining 4 hours on shallow work (meetings, random discussions, surfing, and slacking off). However, deep work requires more solitary environment, which is not possible in a open office environment.

Via Reddit. You always have to be suck at something before you can be better at it as shown in the quote below. But, unless you're constantly improving, you will stuck at the expert beginner level.
"Successful writers are people who allow themselves the freedom to suck—unrepentantly, happily, even."

What are the best combination (budget and feature wise) to setup a desktop music system? Below are the list of components:

(1) JBL LSR305 active speaker
(2) Lexicon Alpha audio interface / Behringer UCA222 / HIFIME(DIY) DAC
(3) XLR-to-3.5mm cable / TRS-to-3.5 mm cable / XLR male to RCA male cables

You should look into the issue of balanced audio.

Slashdot is 20 years olds! Ironically, good discussion was found in HN instead! I found the site when it was going through it second year and getting more popular due to discussion of FOSS. And off course, those idiotic memes, Anonymous Cowards, and BOredAtWork comments. Man I feel so old.

Audio gd is an interesting audio equipment manufacturer. The website still looks like those site Geocities era and you have to wait for a while for your order to be processed and built. While relatively unknown in some part of the world, Audio gd is one of those China manufacturers who build good audio equipment or parts.

How to increase gain in FX-Audio DAC X6. Some Redditor found a tiny little hack that increases the overall gain of the amplifier.

Coursera - Writing in the Sciences - Week 3

Last week, I've learned two important things, using strong verbs and cut unnecessary words. However, due to schedule conflicts, I'm way, way behind the schedule with week 3.

On a side note, interestingly, I've managed to organize the note in a more visually pleasant way. My future blog posts will follow such visual style.

3.1: Experiment with punctuation
Why use different punctuation? To vary your sentence structure so it won't become boring and monotonous. However, the examples and discussions in this module are quite limited. I've googled around for better one.

Different punctuation marks have different separation power. Below are the list starting from the lowest to the highest separate power. Read aloud when you use these punctuation marks, it will help to focus and stress on which part of the sentence.

This module will focus on the middle four (emphasis in bold). Dash and parentheses are less formal, use when necessary.
- Comma (shortest pause)
- Colon (bigger pause than comma)
- Dash (bigger and more abrupt pause)
- Parentheses (slip something extra into a sentence)
- Semicolon (near complete stop because it separate two related sentences)
- Period (complete stop)

(1) Dash
I seldom or never use this punctuation mark. Two purposes: to add emphasis or abruptly insert a definition. We can use dash to replace either commas or parentheses. Good example to compare three different usages.
"The food, which was delicious, reminded me of home."
"The food—which was delicious—reminded me of home."
"The food (which was delicious) reminded me of home."
(2) Colon
To main purpose is to introduce a list, quote, explanation, conclusion, or amplification.

(a) To introduce a list.
"I have three sisters: Daphne, Rose, and Suzanne."
Another example I love using number in the list.
This research follows four distinct phases: (1) establishing measurement instruments, (2) measuring patterns, (3) developing interventions and (4) disseminating successful interventions to other settings and institutions.
(b) To amplify and extend independent clauses where the second explains the first.
"He made three points: First, the company was losing over a million dollars each month. Second, the stock price was lower than it had ever been. Third, no banks were willing to loan the company any more money."
(c) To explain and amplify.
"After three weeks of deliberation, the jury finally reached a verdict: guilty."
(3) Semicolon
Something that I never use in my writing. I still can't seems remember or use this properly. Surprisingly, you can interchange period and semicolon! Use semicolon in these two situations:

(a) To connect two independent clauses (an independent sentence which contains a subject and a predicate), typically between the transition words (emphasis in bold).
"Mushrooms grow very quickly; in fact, after a good rain, it takes only a few hours and you start picking them."

(b) To separate series of items where items in the list contains internal punctuation. For this case, a comma.
"Science fiction includes Star Trek, with Mr. Spock; Battlestar Galactica, with its Cylons; and Star Wars, with Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader."
As a visual cue to group items in a list. I always have problems when describing a list of items with adjectives.
"I bought shiny, ripe apples; small, sweet, juicy grapes; and firm pears."
(4) Parenthesis
Use this when you want to put optional sentence fragment in your sentences or don't want to break the flow of your sentences, an afterthought. I'm referring to my own typical writing.

(a) To specify date in the sentence where you have extra comma which will break the flow of the sentence.
"We will schedule our appointment on this coming Sunday (24th September, 2017)." 

(b) To write informally or as an interjection, a style I commonly used.
"Anyone can afford (ahem, cheap!) the amplifier."
3.2: Practice, colon and dash
Still needs more practices to nail this down and it's quite hard to remember all the rules.

3.3: Parallelism
Also known as Parallel Structure. Definitely something you may encounter before but never know its actual name. Some good examples found in proverb:
"Easy come, easy go."
"No pain, no gain."
"Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose."
"One man's trash is another man's treasure."
"A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush." 
Two common types of Parallel Structure:

(a) With the -ing form (gerund) of words.
"Mary likes hiking, swimming, and bicycling."
(b) With infinitive phrases.
"Mary likes to hike, to swim, and to ride a bicycle."

3.4: Paragraphs
The key concept here is "1 paragraph = 1 idea". To elaborate, good paragraph is short (3 to 5 sentences) which encourages more white spaces (good for readability).

Apply the inverted pyramid style (see image below), similar to newspaper writing style where you put most important information at the beginning of the paragraph or writing. In the web, this is known as clickbait title.

Good paragraphs can consists of three things:

(1) Logical flow of ideas.
Three types as well, sequential in time, general to specific, and logical arguments.

(2) Parallel sentences structures.
We have discussed this earlier.

(3) Transition words (use with cautious and as simple as possible)
We use transition words in a sentence to indicate "changing gear". Popular transition words is "but", simpler than over exotic one like "on the other hand" or "nevertheless". But I'm surprised that she recommended to use two transition words ONLY:

(a) But, to signal a change of discussion.
(b) And, to further discuss some additional information.

Do not start every sentence with transition word within a paragraph. You can write beautiful flowing paragraph without using much transition words.

Focus on the first and last sentence in a paragraph. These are the only two things a reader will remember.

3.5: Paragraph Editing I
Some general advice from this module.

(1) Don't overuse transition words.
(2) Identify the main idea of the paragraphs.
(3) Identify the supporting ideas of the main idea.

One good example from the editing which illustrates brevity and reduce wordiness.

"Although the methodological approaches are similar, the questions posed in classic epidemiology and clinical epidemiology are different."
"Despite methodologies similarities, classic epidemiology and clinical epidemiology differ in aim."

3.6: Paragraph Editing II
When editing, outline the existing paragraph into several main points or sentences. Reconstruct these main points to replace the existing paragraph. The editing is shown below. It dawned to me that reviewing and editing other published literature is also crucial step to become a better writer.

Another example but shorter. However, if you pay attention to the editing, the main reason for wordiness is because the author wants to vary its writing and sounds intelligent (we discussed this is earlier post) and this impacts understanding.

3.7: A few more tips
In this module, Dr. Kristin raised an important question that I've encountered in most of my writing- repetition. To fulfill the number of pages in your writing assignment, you will inadvertently rewriting the same idea in different ways or using different words. How do you know? If you need to use thesaurus to find synonyms to avoid repeating a word in a sentence or paragraph, then you have the wordiness issue. For example, within the same sentence or paragraph, you find the words "illustrates" or "demonstrates". Another example, is "banana" or "the elongated yellow fruit". The second example is known as Elegant Variation. I have mixed feeling on this second example because for normal writing, it does add variety to writing.

If you are aware of such writing behaviour, ask yourself these two questions:
(1) Is the second instance of the word needed?
(2) Is the synonym of the word is better than repeating the word?

There are exceptions. Keywords in scientific writing can and should be repeated as those are the key concept of the writing. For example, anything in abbreviation list should be use consistently.

Learning Objectives
(1) Practice using colons, dashes, parentheses, and semi-colons.
Read it aloud and identify the duration of the pause. Then, pick the right mark punctuation.

(2) Recognize the importance of varying sentence structure.
Look into varying your transition words.

(3) Practice writing focused, organized paragraphs.
Look into Inverted Pyramid Style.

(4) Recognize that it is OK to repeat key words in scientific writing.
Look into the issue of Elegant Variation.

(5) Fix sentence parallelism.
Consistency is the key here. Follow the same sentence structure within a paragraph thus increase the cohesion.

This Week I Learned - 2017 Week 39

Last week post or the old archive.

Picking up lots of audio related stuff. Interesting week indeed.

Building a audio system but worry that your spending will lead to a serious discussion with your significant other(s)? Pay an acceptable amount on your credit cards and the remaining amount by cash. The audio sales person suggested this "workaround" for all his client who worry about their spending being known to their significant other(s). Interesting indeed. On self-reflection, if you worry your spending will cause an issue with your significant others(s), then you should not even spend that amount of money.

Buying headphone but low on budget? Doesn't have a trained ears or the time to test through all available headphones? Get Superlux HD668B, definitely worth every cent of your money!

One interesting trend with audio shop in MY is the emerging of community oriented stores. Currently, Starpickers and E1 Personal Audio are the two good example of such type of stores. Chill environment and good place for local audiophile meetup.

Klipsch R-15PM powered speaker (also known as active speaker). Worth it? Not with a retail price of MYR 2600. Unless you have extra cash to burn, have (going to build) a vinyl records collection, and love a minimum setup (no need extra amplifier, receiver, or DAC) with different input sources (TV, PC, Bluetooth, and Phono). Suitable for neat freaks who like clean setup where you have a pairs of speakers which can connect to to any electronic devices that generate sounds. Furthermore, JBL LSR 305 is still a better choice, sound and money wise (you can get it from Massdrop around MYR 1500 inclusive of shipping).

Stoner Acoustics UD125 is a locally made DAC and headphone amplifier. Price is set around USD 85 or MYR330. While I'm tempted to get it and support our locally made product, is it worth the money?

As I learned by reading blog posts and watching videos on different DACs and amplifiers, the product is as good as the components. While there is no information on what brands of capacitor used, the key electronic components are (1) Savitech SA9037 USB Audio Processor. The audio chip. I can't find any information on this except there is another audio chip using model number SA9027. (2) Asashi Kasei Microdevices (AKM) AK4490 High Performance DAC. (3) Texas Instruments (TI) TPA6120A Dual Channel High Power Amplifier.

When comes to reviewing and modding the Nobsound MS-10D Tube Power Amplifier, this guy knowledge sharing and follow ups is simply epic. We need more producer rather than moocher in this world.

Why you shouldn't spend money on cheap amplifiers or DACs. Be careful SMSL stuff as it's notorious known for creating spark when plugged in. Just get Lexicon Alpha and JBL LSR305s.

Upgrading to Ubuntu 17.10 Artful Aardvark Beta

Since Ubuntu 17.10 have reached its final beta (Canonical going to release it by Oct 19), might as well upgraded my lappy from 17.04. The upgrade process still took quite a while but so far no show stopper issues.

Upgrading to beta release is quite straightforward, just type this command.
$ sudo do-release-upgrade -d

Release details with Linux kernel 4.13.
$ lsb_release -a
No LSB modules are available.
Distributor ID: Ubuntu
Description:    Ubuntu Artful Aardvark (development branch)
Release:        17.10
Codename:       artful

$ uname -a
Linux thinkpad 4.13.0-12-generic #13-Ubuntu SMP 
Sat Sep 23 03:40:16 UTC 2017 x86_64 x86_64 x86_64 GNU/Linux

Some issues encountered or observations after the upgrade.

(1) Invalid MIT-MAGIC-COOKIE-1 key Cannot open display ":0"
The leftover issue from switching to Wayland from X? Resolving this by removing the `.Xauhority` file.
$ rm -rf ~/.Xauthority

(2) Gnome Shell was noticeable slow.
I'm currently running Gnome 3.26 but it was considerable slow compare to previous version. Maybe this was due to switching to Wayland?
$ gnome-shell --version
GNOME Shell 3.26.0

(3) New Setting application.
I never pay much attention, but the new settings layout have switched to a side bar style, which is more easier to read and find. Seems to be influenced by mobile devices?

(4) Shutter, the screenshot application is broken.
You can't capture screenshot using Shutter anymore as Wayland does not allows an application to capture the content of other application (security reason). Unfortunately, you have to use Gnome Screenshot, which have limited functionalities (you can't bloody capture the screenshot of it self).

This Week I Learned - 2017 Week 38

The usual stuff or last week post.

Long weekend holidays. More rest and clean up.

Fluff in Scientific Writing by Celia M. Elliott (PDF). Right, I definitely write in a fluff way. Awareness is the first step to improve your own writing.

So you have a pair of passive speaker. What now? The next step is to get a DAC and an amplifier. Or you can get a Class-T amplifier with build-in USB DAC and headphone amplifier combo like Topping TP30-MARK2. The USB DAC let the amplifier serves as an external sound card so you can channel out the sound from your PC through the USB.

As I learned in the last week post, the quality of any amplifier is the whole sum of its electronic components, especially the amplifier chip and capacitors. Screenshot below illustrates the PCB board and its components. Unfortunately, the amplifier chip is Tripath TA2024, which push about 15 watts per channel, a bit lacking for bookshelf speakers.

SMSL SA-36A PRO, while it's a affordable and quality amplifier, has two different versions. To save cost, the manufacturer have switch the amplifier chip from Texas Instrument TPA3118D2DAP to STMicroelectronics TDA7492PE. The general consensus from the reviews and forum discussions recommended to get the TPA3118 version. Maybe the SMSL get a better pricing from STMicroelectornics or Texas Instrument cannot keep up with the demands. This also reminded me of certain manufacturer which produced quality and affordable first generation of said product to get good rave reviews and slowly replace with cheaper components for next generation.

Unfortunately, SMSL SA-50 is currently out of stock and I can't find it in the SMSL website. Maybe SMSL decided to phase it out from the market? What about SMSL SA-60? It's not shown in the official website as well.

Neurochome's LM3886 done right? The correct amplifier design compare to others like Circuit Basics or Electronics Lab. I believed Tom Christiansen's experiences at Texas Instrument allows him to design the most optimized audio amplifier using TI LM3886 amplifier chip.

YouTuber FFcossag channel is what I consider good review, teardown, and educational on a particular amplifier. Good example was how he evaluated through the specification of Breeze Audio TPA3116 as shown below. Even better, his videos are in public domain! While we need to absorb and digest large unknown information, his does provides a quantitative (objective) rather than qualitative (subjective) analysis of an amplifier. Sometimes, it sounds nice to the reviewer is a personal taste.

While we're on Breeze Audio. Be extra careful when you plug in the power supply. One reviewer, NFM popped and burned one of the capacitor while testing it. Luckily he was protected by the aluminum case. Be extra careful with all these low end amplifier, supply lower power to the amplifier or you switch the capacitors to a higher voltages type. It does raises quite a lot of safely concerns with all these low cost amplifiers (no quality control, cheap or cloned electronic components) from China.

FFcossag also provides another excellent objective review on popular Lepai LP-2020A+. See video below. While the amplifier is way under-power compare to what the manufacturer claimed in the spec sheet, it's still value for performance worthy amplifier. However, the same problem exists. You can't bloody get this amplifier in MY and have to try your luck sourcing it from China.

Similarly, he also trashed the Lvpin LP-838 and make the consumer aware of what are they getting of buying a cheap amplifier. To save cost, certain manufacturer will reuse or recycle certain components. Is it safe? Hard to tell but it certainly does not increases any confident (more on this later) in using the product. Be an informed buyer, buy from reputable dealer and brands.

Coursera - Writing in the Sciences - Week 2

Continue with week 2 study. Notes as follows.

2.1: Use the active voice
An active voice is a type of sentence that follows a format of subject-verb-object. Or it's the way we normally talk. Example as shown below.
She (agent) throws (verb) the ball (the recipient).

For passive voice, is the reverse which follows a format of object-verb-subject. Rewriting the above sentence as passive voice.
The ball (recipient) was thrown (verb) by her (agent).

Alternatively, we also can remove the agent. The sentence below does not tell us who throw the ball.
The ball (recipient) was thrown (verb).

Passive voice is useful when we're want to exclude the recipient. Good example is shown below where to evade any admission or person responsible.
Mistake was made.

How do we recognize a passive voice? Identify "to be" verbs in the sentence. "To be" verbs are weak and wordy and you can replace them with stronger verbs. List below shows the step-by-step guide to eliminate "to be" verbs.

(1) Identify
(2) Substitude
(3) Convert
(4) Change
(5) Combine

The restaurant’s parking lot (is) narrow.
(There are) not very many parking spaces and those (that are) available (are) too cramped.

The restaurant (suffers) from a narrow parking lot with only a few cramped spaces.

To convert a passive voice to active voice, ask yourself this question. "Who does what to whom?"

Active voice have several advantages as listed below.

(1) Emphasis author responsibility.
Why passive voice is prevalent in scientific papers? Because first-person pronouns (I/We) usages should be kept to a minimum. In method section of your paper, you're encourage to use passive voice as what have been done is far more important that who done it. APA (The American Psychology Association) have different opinions on this. More on this in next module.

(2) Improves readability.
I like the example below because it shows we can skip first-person pronouns.

A strong correlation (was found) between use of the passive voice and other sins of writing.

(We found) a strong correlation between use of the passive voice and other sins of writing.

(Use of the passive voice) strongly correlated with other sins of writing.

(3) Reduces ambiguity.

2.2: Is it really OK to use "We" and "I"
Is using personal pronouns like I/We in scientific writing acceptable? Based on her explanation, it's okay to do so although some said not using personal pronouns make your writing more objective.

However, different journal have different opinions on using personal pronouns. Check the publication style guides you are submitting to and follow its guidelines. For example, the style guide of Science Magazine recommends:

Use active voice when suitable, particularly when necessary for correct syntax 
(e.g., "To address this possibility, we constructed a λZap library . . .," 
not "To address this possibility, a λZap library was constructed . . .").

Note to self. Do search and read up these style guides. Start with the The Element of Style that you've bought few months back.

2.3: Active voice practice
Some practices on converting paragraphs from passive voice to active voice. Pretty much quite straight forward. One of the key or first step is to recognize passive voice is to find these keywords : be, is, are, a, was, were, has been, have been, will be, and being.

2.4: Write with verbs

We must follow three rules.

(1) Use strong verbs.
When you have limited vocabulary, your writing is boring. One way is to expand your vocabulary. But how? Read a lot, really a lot. I like this approach of treating every read is a write to expand your vocabulary. The example shown in the lecture exemplified this point. Pay attention to the verb. Compare the verbs. See how using strong verbs change the tone of the sentence.

Note to self: Expand your vocabulary. Read and write more.

"Loud music (came) from speakers embedded in the walls, and 
the entire arena (moved) as the hungry crowd (got) to its feet."


"Loud music (exploded) from speakers embedded in the walls, and 
the entire arena (shook) as the hungry crowd (leaped) to its feet."

One good way is to identify and underline all the "to be" verbs like is, are, was, were, has, been, am, and others and replace with with stronger and more vivid verbs. Example of boring usage of "to be" verbs as shown.
"She is an excellent scientist. Her research is top notch. Her experimental
technique is also beyond compare."

(2) Avoid turning verbs into nouns.
Again, another example where I always use in my writing. Using nouns instead of verbs. Why using now is not recommended? It lack the impact of using a verb and may lead to ambiguity.

Let's start with the example given.

"During DNA damage, (recognition) of protein one by protein two results in (recruitment) 
of protein three and (repression) of cell proliferation genes."

"During DNA damage, protein one (recruits) protein two and protein three, which together 
(repress) cell proliferation genes."

(3) Don't bury the main verb.
Another good example here where the subject and the main verb (predicate) close together.

"(One study of 930 adults with multiple sclerosis (MS) receiving care and one of two 
managed care settings or in a fee-for-service setting) (subject) (found that) (predicate) only 
two-thirds of those needing to contact a neurologist for an MS-related problem in the prior 6 
months had done so."

"One study (found that), of 930 adults with multiple sclerosis (MS) who were receiving 
care in one of two managed care settings or in a fee for service setting, only two-thirds of those 
needing to contact a neurologist for an MS-related problem in the prior six months had done so."

2.5: Practice examples
A few rules while going through these examples.

(1) Don't use long subject
(2) Don't use buried, boring predicate and passive verb.
(3) Don't turn verb into noun.
(4) Don't use negatives words
(5) Don't use "hedge" words.
(6) Don't use "fluff" words. For example, very, important, and others.

(The (fear)(3) expressed by some teachers that students would (not learn)(4) statistics 
well if they were permitted to use canned computer programs)(1) (has (not been)(4) realized)(2). 
(A careful (monitoring)(3) of achievement levels before and after the introduction of computers 
in the teaching of our course)(1) (revealed)(2) no (appreciable)(5) change in students' performances"

"Many teachers feared that the use of canned computer programs would prevent 
students from learning statistics. We monitored student achievement levels before and 
after the introduction of computers in our course and found no detriments in performance."

The whole exercise makes me want to pick any scientific papers out there and identify and issues and rewrite it. As I love to read papers, this should be quite an interesting writing exercise.

2.6: A few grammar tips
And I thought I was aware of these grammar rules.

(1) Data is plural.

(2) Affect and effect.
Yes, the RAVEN (Remember Affect Verb Effect Noun) rule is not entirely correct. We can use the word affect as a noun and the word effect as a verb.

(3) Compare to and compare with.
Compare to is used to compare similarities with different things.
Compare with is used to compare differences with similar things.

The bike that is broken is in the garage. (one bike out of many bikes)
The bike, which is broken, is in the garage. (regarding one particular bike)

(4) That and which.
That is a restrictive pronoun.
Which is a nonrestrictive pronoun. Meaning that the word is optional and if you remove it, does not change the meaning of the sentence. Also, there is a comma, before the word.

Learning Objectives
(1) Distinguish between active and passive verbs.
When to use passive voice? When you're asking a questions!

(2) Practice writing with strong, active verbs.
As I was going through the week 2 course, I tends to write more in active voice rather than passive voice these days. Surprising to find that I use more passive voice than ever in my writing. While changes is inevitable, I still struggle to adapt to the new writing and constantly needs to remind myself to write in active voice.

(3) Fix sentences where the subject and predicate are too far apart.
Definitely something new for me and I don't even realize that.

(4) Correct specific grammar mistakes.
I can't remember what I've learned here.

This Week I Learned - 2017 Week 37

The old stuff or last week post?

Slow week but things are moving ahead. More focus and getting more deep work done.

Familiar name that caught my attention while watching the game demo. Glad to see him living his dream and doing what he love. He is part of the team (Ninja Theory) that developed Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice (watch the development diariesIGN's review, or GamePlayHK's broadcast) is worth checking out. I've wondered, what if I'm more persistent and follow his path?

The Search for Better Search at Reddit. Every initial search implementation starts with default Database's own internal natural language full-text search implementation. For PostgreSQL is Tsearch2 and MySQL is FULLTEXT index.

Different publications have different writing style guides. If you're going to publish to their journals, follow their convention.

When comes to affordable (ahem, cheap) amplifier, Lepai is a well-known brand and the general most people would recommended it as your first amplifier. However, there was confusion about another brand, Lepy or Lvpin, which was initially thought as a clone but actually is the same company but a new name. To differentiate this, Lepai brand is used in US or internationally by Part Express and Lepy brand is used in China or TaoBao. Different name confused and influenced my search effort as I was searching for the wrong brand name. Nevertheless, if you searching for Lepai amplifier in MY, search for "Lepy" keyboard instead.

Even though these are cheap amplifier, the audio amplifier chip (more on this later) and quality of the capacitors will determine the overall sound output and pricing. Some audio enthusiasts with good electronic knowledge will purchase this category of amplifier and upgrade or modify it with better parts.

Tripath TA2020 is interesting audio amplifier chip. IEEE ranked it as one of the microchip that shock the world as it allows consumer grade sound systems to produce higher sound at a lower price. It even created a new amplifier category, Class-T amplifier, which is a proprietary variant of Class-D amplifier.

Entry level amplifier typically based their design on these few variants of Class-D/Class-T amp chips.

(1) Tripath TA2020A/TA2020A+ (20 watt per channel), TA2021, TA2024(15 watt per channel).
(2) Texas Instruments TPA3118 (30 watt per channel).
(3) STMicroelectronics TDA7492PE (45 watt per channel).

Discussion on different audio amplifier brings no benefit if you're not a audiophile or trained ears to notice the subtle differences. For a beginner, start with the cheapest possible amplifier available at your place.

Coursera - Writing in the Sciences - Week 1

Writing is always hard for me. I always feel this invisible gap of what you want to say and how it's conveyed down in writing. Six years ago, around 2011, frustrated with this gap, I've started writing through blogging. Even since, writing have become a way for me to express my understanding in my learning as well as a medium for me to unwind (mindless ramblings). These days, while writing becomes more natural but still crappy, I still exploring numerous ways to improve my writing.

Last Thursday, I received an email from Coursera that the course Writing in the Sciences, taught by Dr. Kristin Sainani is currently opened for registration. Since I have a long holidays ahead, might as well make good use of the free time and pick up something useful along the way.

Below are some of the key points and additional notes of each module in week 1.

1.1: Introduction; principles of effective writing
What is good writing? Effective communication between the writer and the reader. And how do we achieve effective communication? Simple writing. While we want to sound smart, elegant, and stylish through our writing, the priority should be on getting your message across in a clear and effective manner. If the reader cannot understand what you're trying to say, then the writing does not serve its purpose.

Good writer have something to say, something they passionate about. In other words, good story teller. When come to scientific writing, you will need logical and clear thinking. Read anything. Read what professional wrote. Study, learn, and imitate their writing. Superhuman by Habit is the first book I can think of which have simple and clear writing. Contrary to popular opinion, I can't say much about William Zinsser's On Writing Well.

If we write like how we talk, then the writing will be in more simple and conversational tone. Academic writing is totally opposite of that, more formal and wordiness. However, talk about something before writing it down is also a good approach. As you can treat your conversation as your first draft.

Reevaluate and rethink your approach to writing as well as the writing process. Elegant and stylish writing have to go through numerous edits and revisions. You just can't get it done in one shot. Don't worry about getting your writing done right the first time. You can't. Nobody can. Even professional writer. There is no such thing as get it done right the first time when comes to writing!

Focus on revision instead of the initial draft. Get your first draft done as soon as possible. Forget grammatical rules or spelling errors. Just churn it out. Next, start the revision process. Be ruthless and cut all unnecessary words. Repeat this process until there is nothing else to remove.

1.2: Examples of what not to do
How to evaluate good writing? Ask yourself these questions. Is the writing easy to to understand? Is the writing enjoyable and interesting to read? If not, you reader will not care.

Grammatical Normalization, a fancy word where a verb, an adjective or an adverb is turned into a noun. The side effect of writing in such way are wordiness and can irritate the reader. For examples,

Unnecessary nouns:
Bad : We have a discussion on that particular incident.
Good : We discussed on that particular incident.

To-be verbs:
Bad: There is this restaurant that attracts all the tourists.
Good: This restaurant attracts all the tourists.

The lesson learned here is don't start a sentence with "There is ......", "There are ......", or "It is ......". Be aware of this during revision.

1.3: Overview, principles of effective writing
The preference to use verbs instead of nouns in writing may sounds formal but hard to read. Clear writing prefers verbs over nouns. During revision, identify those nouns in a sentence. Look for any words that end with -ion, -ment or -al.

Be specific. Be careful with your word choices that leads vagueness. In scientific writing, if you are experimenting on a particular type of fish, name the fish directly.

Don't use acronyms unless it's necessary and generally known.

What are the principles of effective writing? 

(1) Reduce wordiness. Cut unnecessary words or phrases.
(2) Use active voice (subject + verb + object).
(3) Writing and using strong verbs instead of nouns.

1.4: Cut the clutter
These two examples illustrate how we going to cut the clutter. Read aloud yourself.

Several issues were found with these examples.

(1) Verb turned into noun.
(2) Vague amorphous words.
(3) Repetition or repeated words with the same meaning.
(4) Stylistic or better word choice.

Example 1:
"This paper (provides a review)(1) (of the basic tenants of)(2) cancer biology study design, using as (examples studies)(3) that illustrate the ((methodologic)(3) challenges)(2) or that (demonstrates)(3) (successful solutions)(3) (to the difficulties (inherent in biological research.)(3))(3)"

So after revision, the rewrite looks like this.
"This paper reviews cancer biology study design, using examples that illustrate specific challenges and solutions."

"successful solution". Do we need the adjective here? Dr. Kristin raised the question whether there exists an unsuccessful solution? Because solution implies successful.

One key point that relates to my writing is that I always use different words to explain the same things but in different way. For example, to buy or to acquire. Pay attention to the grammatical conjunction of and/or. Something you may not even need it. Most of the time, I just want to make the sentence longer, thus causing wordiness. As Dr. Kristin said, just use the important words to get the idea across.

Example 2:
"(As it is well known)(3), increased athletic activity (has been related)(4) to a (profile of)(2) lower cardiovascular risk, lower blood pressure (levels)(3), and improved (muscular and cardio-respiratory performance.)(4)"

The phrase "As it is well known" is known as Throat Clearing Phrases, which is a long and unnecessary introductory phrases at the beginning of the paragraph. According to Dr. Kristin, just put a citation at the end of the sentence if you want to indicates that certain idea is well known. Some examples of these dead weight words and phrases:

(1) As it is well known ......
(2) As is has been shown ......
(3) It can be regarded that ......
(4) It should be emphasized that ......

After the rewrite.
"Increased athletic activity is associated with lower cardiovascular risk, lower blood pressure, and improved fitness."

Another more aggressive rewrites using strong verb. Notice the two "and"s. (emphasis in bold)
"Increased athletic activity lowers cardiovascular risk and blood pressure, and improves fitness."

Example 3.
"The (experimental demonstration)(3) is the ((first of its kind)(3). And is (a proof of principle)(3))(4) (for the concept)(3) of laser driven particle acceleration in a structure loaded vacuum."

"is" is a boring verb. You can replace dull verbs with vivid verbs.

After the rewrite.
"The experiment provides the first proof of principle of laser-driven particle acceleration in a structre-loaded vacuum."

The main point of this module is to cut unnecessary words. Sometimes, it's good to take a break from working on your draft. Take a break and review back a few days later. We have invested so much time in writing and may hard to part with what we have written.

Also, take note of adverbs, for example, very, really, quite, basically, generally, and etc. If you write like the way you talk, you will subconsciously add those adverbs in your writing. Adverbs is not suitable for scientific writing which needs precision.

1.5: Cut the clutter, more tricks
Several more tricks have been added in this module. These are:

(1) Eliminate negatives
If you see a sentence like "He did not win the match". We can rewrite this in positive manner like "He lost the match". The first sentence is a negative sentence where the reader have to identify the key first (win) and then negate it (did not). The second sentence is more affirmative and concise. Some more examples:

Negative            Affirmative
Not honest         Dishonest
Not harmful       Safe
Does not have    Lacks

In other words, if you found any "did not" or "not" words in your sentence, consider rewrite it to be more affirmative.

(2) Eliminate superfluous uses of "there are/there is".
Most of the time, "there are/there is/there was ...... that" is unnecessary. For example,

Before: There are many ways in which we can arrange the pulleys.
After: We can arrange the pulleys in many ways.

(3) Omit needless prepositions.
Use "that", "on" or other prepositions with care. Overuse of these prepositions leads to wordy sentence.

Before: They agreed that it was true.
After: They agreed it was true.

1.6: Practicing cutting clutter
This example below illustrates one of my common mistake when writing papers.

Before: As we can see from Figure 2, if the return kinetic energy is less than 3.2 Up, there will be two electron trajectories associated with this kinetic energy.

After: Figure 2 shows that a return kinetic energy less than 3.2 Up yields two electron trajectories.

Review Learning Objectives
Review back the learning objectives with my current understanding of the notes and writing approach.

(1) Recognize that writing is hard for everyone.
I've written about this in previous paragraph and all my previous notes.

(2) Recognize that writing is a skill that you learn through practice.
My approach is always quantity over quality. Since I've already built up a weekly habit of writing about stuff I've learned for the past week, maybe it's time to adapt my approach by focusing more towards quality over quantity. Not just random rambling writing, just deliberate writing practices.

(3) Practice removing clutter from writing.
Revision, a crucial step missing from my writing process. I always publish the draft copy as soon I've finished writing. Furthermore, wordiness indicates a false sense of importance. Also, sometimes we need to write to a certain number of pages or words. Hence, to meet the requirements, you have to pad your writing causing wordiness and leads to bad writing habit. However, Enjoy and appreciate the elegance of brevity.

(4) Practice writing clearly and concisely.
Word choice. I need to work on this.

This Week I Learned - 2017 Week 36

Last week post or the previous old archive.

Tecware Phantom 87, a cheap TKL mechanical keyboard. I've bought one and some initial write up on the mechanical keyboard.

Meanwhile, keyboard have different keyboard profiles or different key caps height. Aesthetically, high-profile looks way better than low-profile. The only issue is cleaning. Low-profile keyboard is easier to clean in the long run. Furthermore, keyboards can be classified by different keyboard technology or keyboard switches.

On a related note, Kinesis, the maker of most expensive ergonomic keyboard, Kinesis Advantage 2, has released Kinesis Gaming. I'm not aware of the their Kickstarter campaign, but they managed to raise enough fund to build this. While it may seems like a new design, I noticed it bears similarity to Kinesis Freestyle2, another split ergonomic keyboard. Only difference is the extra wrist reset and additional features for gaming. Unfortunately, aesthetic wise it's not pretty (subjective opinion) and Kinesis keyboard is known for its high price tag.

What took them so long to produce a gaming mechanical keyboard? Even though they can come up with a non ergonomic version? They have been quite late in the gaming mechanical keyboard. Even Topre already came out with Topre Realforce RGB. Other keyboard manufacturers have been charging premium building so called gaming mechanical keyboard, lots of useless fancy features but little durability. Let's hope this split design catch on so that other keyboard manufacturers in China will follow suit (ahem clone) and produce a more economic version.

If you have a low-profile mechanical keyboard, there are other maker, Norbauer & Co. who are building aluminium case for your beloved keyboard. Mechanical keyboard is indeed a booming industry. 

Thinkpad 25 (via SD). To commemorate the celebration of 25th anniversary release of IBM's (or Lenovo's) Thinkpad notebook, a special edition will be released using the non-chiclet keyboard layout, similar to those in T420. Hence, some claims it's just a T470 body with T420 keyboard. However, I was surprised to find out that Thinkpad notebook uses different keyboard switches or variants all these while. Can' wait? Just get Frankenpad (modernized and modified version of Thinkpad) from 51nb (via RD). However, this is a custom-made motherboard and the price is quite steep. Claiming warranty maybe an issue.

Reddit user nitrocaster explained why you should get a Thinkpad X220/X230 instead of other models. In short, it's cheap, support 16GB DDR3 RAM, and support 7-rows keyboard (X220 only). Even better, there are full resource guide on Thinkpad X220.

Creating custom table of content in ConTeXt. I've been struggled with this issue for the last few days and finally managed to get it to work. It seemed that I misunderstood the \placelist syntax and use the wrong variable name, use `appendix`.



    \appendix{Sample Appendix}
    \appendix{Another Appendix}

The powerful \definestartstop and \definehighlight of ConTeXt macros. This is as good as the HTML's custome tags. Sadly not supported by all web browsers.

They knew the basics. But they lacked mastery. Don't study at the last minute.

Tecware Phantom 87 Mechanical Keyboard

During the long holidays, bought myself this mechanical keyboard, Tecware Phantom 87. Finally, I can experience mechanical keyboard first hand and discover more about mechanical keyboard in details.

Why this mechanical keyboard? Based on the reviews by GoldfriesYuuki Haruto, and Mona Liza, this seems like a good solid beginner mechanical keyboards. Features like Tenkeyless (TKL), solid back plate, modular switches (you can change to other types of Cherry MX compatible switches), and lastly, affordable prices (I got it around MYR 129). I've picked the Outemu Brown switches because its sound softer but less "clicky" compare to the Outemu Blue switches.

When come to keyboard and typing (lots of typing), my daily driver is Microsoft Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000. I doubt any mechanical keyboard out there can satisfy my needs. For the case with Tecware Phantom 87, there are two issues that bother me somehow. First, the key cap is too small. The area covered by the key cap is not wide enough and you have to be very precise when typing. Second, unless you have a palm rest, the typing experience is somehow quite discomfort (wrist angle problem, either vertically or horizontally), especially if you have history of minor repetitive strain injury (RSI). Maybe getting a palm rest can improve the experience and reduce the discomfort. This is yet to be seen.

Yes, there exists MiSTEL Barocco MD600, which is a split ergonomic keyboard. But with a hefty price tag of MYR 600, I don't think is worth the price and effort. Top up a little more and you might as well get Kinesis Advantage2 instead. Also, a lot of ergonomic keyboard manufacturers fail to realize that just by splitting the keyboard into half doesn't means it's ergonomic. It only solve half of the problem, the wrist angle is also another issue needs to be addressed.

Even so, the Tecware Phantom 87 is a good mechanical keyboard for modding. I've watched the YouTube video on building a mechanical keyboard and it seems quite a fun and easy electronic project. By building your own mechanical keyboard, you will understand how the keyboard switches works mechanically. At the same time, you will learn some electronic skill as well like soldering and desoldering. However, based on the part list, it will cost around MYR 600 just to get all the required materials and equipments. Learning is never cheap in any possible ways. You're going to pay for the hard lessons anyway, someway or another. However, we can save some money by building on existing cheap mechanical keyboard. This is where Tecware Phantom 87 is a good choice. Since this keyboard is reasonable cheap (I know, subjective) and has a modular switches, you can mod the keyboard with different switches and key caps without worrying about messing up. Even so, you can also salvage the parts or get a new one instead.

Should you get a mechanical keyboard? No. Unless you're a gamer or into modding. Otherwise, I don't think using mechanical keyboard for casual typing or coding will server any good benefits, especially when comes to preventing computer-related injuries.

This Week I Learned - 2017 Week 35

Last week post or revisit some old archived posts.

Long holidays and I finally have extra time to clear off some of those pesky and pending to-do list. Learned quite a lot this week, especially from different electronic devices and computer hardware.

Software development 450 words per minute. (via Reddit / HN). Be grateful. That's probably takeaway from the article itself. I was wondering how it going to affect your hearing if you keep listen to the headphone non-stop for more than 8 hours per day?

Good post on introduction to mechanical key switches, specifically Cherry MX family. For a non-gamer but mostly using your keyboard for typing, Cherry MX Brown and Cherry MX Blue would be the preferred keyboard switch for a mechanical keyboard. The Brown switch was originally developed for Kinesis Keyboard. Yes, that company that created the ergonomic contoured keyboard. Meanwhile, the Blue switch, have same tactile feeling and clicking sound to IBM Model M but less activation force. Does mechanical keyboard worth it? Yes, only if you play lots of games, build a Battlestation, a mechanical keyboard enthusiast, or have extra money to burn.

Buying an air purifier? Fview YouTube channel is probably the best I've watched so far. Honest opinions with lots of satirical remarks in between. Just like taking an advice from a trustworthy friend. So which air purifier to buy? From the result and price point, just get Xiaomi Air Purifier even through you have to tolerate the high fan noise. I was surprised that few European brands are so expensive but the filtering output was mediocre. Most likely you're paying premium to the quality material and long term reliability. One thing I've learned from electronic devices made in China or electronic devices in general these days. There are not built for reliability. a throwaway device that only serve a purpose for a short period.

Yeah, the bokeh, colour, and contrast is phenomenal and surely will make you mouth-watering.  Just make sure you watch the YouTube video in highest resolution. The most important criteria is the colour (in JPEG) format shows the actual colour and contrast representative of what we saw with the reviewer eyes. Be warned, both Sony A9 and Voigtlander 50 Heliar V4 will cost you around MYR 21k. Definitely not worth it unless you have extra cash to burn. Even so, still not worth it.

More lesson regarding ConTeXt. Want to use Times New Roman, make sure you've installed the Tex Gyre package where it includes the Termes aka Times New Roman font.

Installation of more PWM casing fans. The motherboard seemed quite sensitive and there are numerous times I can't get to the POST screen. Reading through the POST troubleshooting steps, manage to boot up the machine again. Suspect loosen power wires, memory slot, or bended CPU pins were likely the contributing causes.

Fan speeds seems to be at an accepted range. There is an increase of volume heard but I like the white noise.
$ sensors | grep fan
fan1:         1704 RPM  (min = 1577 RPM, div = 8)
fan2:         1875 RPM  (min =  784 RPM, div = 8)
fan3:         1577 RPM  (min =  685 RPM, div = 8)
fan4:            0 RPM  (min = 3515 RPM, div = 128)  ALARM
fan5:            0 RPM  (min =  703 RPM, div = 128)  ALARM

Hardware UART in MSP430. I have no idea this is possible. Mainly because I have no idea what and how UART works anyway. And, I also found out that there is a UniFlash, which is the Universal Flash Programmer for all Texas Instruments devices. Seems to support MSP430 and GNU/Linux but I haven't try it out yet.

I was looking for a DAC and my research indicated that using Raspberry Pi with HiFiBerry would be a good choice. Maybe that could put my shelved Pi into good use?

Running Docker on Fedora host but have permission error with mounted volume?
$ docker run -it -v /home/ang/project:/export tts:latest bash

root@4729d56795cf:/export# ls -l                
ls: cannot open directory '.': Permission denied

To resolve this properly, since this is a SELinux permission issue (reason why you should always test your stuff in Fedora/Red Hat/CentOS distros), you can append extra `z` or `Z` character to the mounted volume option `(-v)` as shown below.

-v /home/ang/project:/export:z

Meanwhile, setting up Docker in Fedora to support non-root user. (Yes, there are many security concerns).
$ sudo groupadd docker && sudo gpasswd -a ${USER} docker && sudo systemctl restart docker
$ newgrp docker

Readjustment of my night computing usage. Turned on Gnome's Night Light. This is to reduce the effect of blue light affecting the body melatonic production.