Play Six Degrees of Wikipedia

Shared Mar 6th 2018 @ 10:13:24

How to Not Die in America 

Shared Feb 5th 2018 @ 07:45:14

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.

How to Make a Fair Coin Flip With an Unfair Coin 

Shared Jan 27th 2018 @ 12:52:27

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

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 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)

Name System CPU GPU RAM HDD / SSD Total
Model Score Model 2D 3D
Craig Custom Desktop i7-3770K 8833 GTX 670 613   2389 12063 4603
Craig Custom Desktop (clean run) i7-3770K 9990 GTX 670 755 5548 2636 13053 4989
Craig XPS 13 i7-8550U 8821 Intel 620 771 1232 2443 13178 3865
Shaun Custom Desktop i7-3770K 9755 GTX 970 706 9626 2774 4299 4589
Shaun Custom Desktop (clean run) i7-3770K 9679 GTX 970 744 9414 2821 4423 4705
Shaun HP Compaq Mini 311C Atom N270 292 Nvidia Ion 88 134 262 1736 283
Thomas Custom Desktop Q6600 2837 GTX 950 340 3349 629 2371 1619
Thomas Custom Desktop (clean run) Q6600 3154 GTX 950 354 4106 784 2129 1791
Thomas Frankentop (Thinkpad R50P) Pentium M 755 253 ATi Mobility FireGL T2 186 47 281 692 219
Rick Custom Desktop Ryzen 1700X 14681 RX 480 776 8637 1862 4096 4654
Nik Custom Desktop i7-4760k 11251 GTX 1060 971 6238 2706 2873 4852
Jonners Custom Desktop i5-750 3708 GTX 1060 511 7436 1069 1472 2185
Jonners Custom Desktop (v2) Ryzen 5 1600 12527 GTX 1060 616 9651 1764 5187 4200
Andy Custom Desktop i7-8700K 16417 GTX 1080TI 917 14886 3511 5167 6239
Dave Custom Desktop QX6850 2389 GTX 285 311 1219 748 1475 1406
Dave Acer Aspire 8930G X9100 2276 GeForce 9600M 376 185 870 2294 1001
Nelson Custom Desktop i7-6700K 11551 Intel HD 530 733 1311 3022 15642 4252
Rob H Custom Desktop i7-8700K 16222 GTX 970 1099 11030 3295 5436 6573

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.

EDIT @ 27/06/2019: Added Rob H from work

We have a new winner. Rob’s the same spec as Andy in a number of key points. If anything I’m not sure why there is a win for Rob in this, the he looses more than he wins. Assume there is some odd weighting going on in the software. I suspect a up to date run from Andy will mean he has a short lived time at the top. Nice to see my disks still winning. That may also be short lived now.

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