How to Not Die in America 

Shared Feb 5th 2018 @ 07:45:14
Jan
27
2018

Android audio playback diagnosis

Half of the joy in computing is figuring out complex problems, coming up with that solution that eludes everyone else, bonus points it is simple and elegant to boot. That’s all fine in theory when you are doing it for work or out of idle curiosity, however when it affects something you do often then it starts to drive you a little bit crazy.

Enter stage left the problem I fought for about a week with my phone. The symptom was simple, I opened the Youtube app, started watching a video and about 3 to 5 seconds in it would pause. I could un-pause it and it would resume fine, but 3 seconds later it would stop again.

My first thought was network issues. I ran a speed test on my phone. It showed about 50Mb/s so that wasn’t it. Maybe it was Youtube themselves. I know Google is huge, but even the best of them have issues from time to time. Nope, played fine on my desktop. I also wondered if my network/phone combination had screwed it over. Played on 4g just fine. I quick restart and no change. OK, at this point I considered this infuriating but it was time for sleep.

The next day I concluded the issue had to be the Youtube app. According to the play store the app had updated a a day ago. I tried uninstalling the app, but I’m not allowed to do that (yey non root access). The best I could do was roll it back to the version that came installed on the phone (LG G6). I did that and no change. I also tried clearing the apps stored data, settings and cache. Again, no change.

The following day I tried to show a colleague the issue at work. Ignoring that my phone seems to have major issues with the work wifi, the video played back fine. I didn’t find this even more frustrating or anything.

That evening I was scrolling through Facebook and spotted a video I wanted to play. It to also played for a moment then stopped. Plot thickening. I continued to experiment with a few different sources of video over the next few days. Local video also had the same issue, as did videos on my local network.

During this time I was googling most evenings trying to find anyone else with something vaguely like this. I discovered a battery saving mode on the Samsung’s can often affect video playback like this, however it was a feature/setting specific to their phones so that was out the window. Everyone else who had this issue was basically just working with a poor internet connection and hitting buffering issues. I ruled that out in several ways.

I then went to show my colleague at work the local playback issue and it failed to happen and played back just fine. OK, at this point I actually felt like we were getting somewhere. I knew it had to be related to my house, not necessarily my network. That evening I tried disabling the wireless, no change, then I disabled bluetooth on my phone and like magic video playback worked as normal! Success!

Well, sort of. I actually use bluetooth day to day (connect to the car, headset, speakers etc). After a couple of days of running the phone without bluetooth on permanently I got fed up of that. The other day I sat down and started un-pairing connections to see if any made a difference. I eventually narrowed it down to the Logitech BT adapter I have connected to an amplifer to allow phones to connect the lounge audio system.

You see, I have had that for years, but only recently did I use it on my current phone for the first time. If you viewed the bluetooth screen on my phone at the time it looked like this:

If you note the top bar it shows bluetooth not connected, but the adapter is paired. That is not quite right. You see the bluetooth adapter in the lounge is on all the time. Once I paired my phone to it it was connected all the time and put all the audio through it. This was not what I wanted. To get round this I went into the settings for that device and un-ticked the media profile it had.

This would allow them to stayed paired and connected, while not causing my phone to use it for audio. Well, so I thought. Turns out my smart solution was a bit too smart for the phone. It still tried to play back through the adapter, but failed and in the meantime never showed it as connected, causing me to never realise this was the issue.

If this was someone else’s phone it would not have been nearly as annoying. However, if it had not been so annoying, I probably wouldn’t have persisted enough to work it out.

BBC – The Tattooist of Auschwitz

Shared Jan 8th 2018 @ 12:42:18

The Last of the Iron Lungs

Shared Nov 21st 2017 @ 09:43:05
Nov
08
2017

Machine Performance Testing

Some years ago Jonners put together a blog post showing some basic machine benchmarking scores using CrystalMark 2004. Being the competitive/curious fellows we all are, over a little while various friends and colleagues submitted their own scores to this post and it became a light-hearted competition (no-one actually put their machines together for this purpose, we are not that sad, but it did serve as an interesting way to compare them).

Since then over the years the tool has become less and less able to run fully, giving us no choice but to mostly let those scores stand as they are. With that in mind and given I just purchased a new Windows laptop (Dell XPS13 with 8th gen i7) we were looking for ways to compare machines again. In all those years we have always used http://www.cpubenchmark.net/cpu_list.php as one of the best ways to compare CPU’s and GPU’s. While it isn’t perfect, it is very comprehensive in the variety of units you can compare. So when we were looking for a tool to do some system benchmarking Passmark (their tool) was an obvious choice. So far those who have joined in this game have their scores in the table below. (Thomas also did a separate post with my initial score included)

NameSystemCPUGPURAMHDD / SSDTotal
ModelScoreModel2D3D
CraigCustom Desktopi7-3770K8833GTX 6706132389120634603
CraigCustom Desktop (clean run)i7-3770K9990GTX 67075555482636130534989
CraigXPS 13i7-8550U8821Intel 62077112322443131783865
ShaunCustom Desktopi7-3770K9755GTX 9707069626277442994589
ShaunCustom Desktop (clean run)i7-3770K9679GTX 9707449414282144234705
ShaunHP Compaq Mini 311CAtom N270292Nvidia Ion881342621736283
ThomasCustom DesktopQ66002837GTX 950340334962923711619
ThomasCustom Desktop (clean run)Q66003154GTX 950354410678421291791
ThomasFrankentop (Thinkpad R50P)Pentium M 755253ATi Mobility FireGL T218647281692219
RickCustom DesktopRyzen 1700X14681RX 4807768637186240964654
NikCustom Desktopi7-4760k11251GTX 10609716238270628734852
JonnersCustom Desktopi5-7503708GTX 10605117436106914722185
JonnersCustom Desktop (v2)Ryzen 5 160012527GTX 10606169651176451874200
AndyCustom Desktopi7-8700K16417GTX 1080TI91714886351151676239
DaveCustom DesktopQX68502389GTX 285311121974814751406
DaveAcer Aspire 8930GX91002276GeForce 9600M37618587022941001
NelsonCustom Desktopi7-6700K11551Intel HD 53073313113022156424252

Some of them are there to serve as a reminder how far things have come with no expectation of a high score, some of them show how actually even 5 year plus old CPU’s such as mine and Shaun’s are still more than capable today (both scores are without the over-clocking the k edition is more than able to take).

While as I write this I am top of the table, my PCIE M.2 SSD is a major reason for that and if others were to do something similar my score would be left behind by a number of them. I did however due to the age of my hardware have to go through the pain of adding a new module into my BIOS in order to get that drive to boot, so it was not an upgrade for most without a whole new motherboard/architecture.

For me the most interesting take home was that my new laptop is actually at a level of performance that I consider to be fairly close to comparable to my desktop. While clearly my desktop is getting on a bit in computing years, it is still very able. It just serves to demonstrate that laptops really have not stood still, especially in this most recent round of upgrades from Intel. It is now within sane reach to have desktop performance (minus graphics, although that is an option for larger laptops) in a very portable package.

Other benchmarks welcome, these were all done with version 9 of the trial.

And for the doubters of my scores, see below:

EDIT @ 05/01/2018: Added Jonners v2, Andy desktop, Dave Desktop, Dave Laptop

I have been knocked off my top spot thanks to my brother Andy. His build is an example of what happens when you throw down a huge pile of cash and see what happens. For me the CPU is very impressive, but for my money Ryzen is much better value, as shown by Jonners v2 and Rick.

How to Salvage a Water-Damaged Book

Shared Oct 8th 2017 @ 11:57:20

How to Create a Strong Password

Shared Aug 28th 2017 @ 17:51:03

Password guru regrets past advice

Shared Aug 10th 2017 @ 16:55:11