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.