Episode 438 Show Notes

Welcome to mintCast

the Podcast by the Linux Mint Community for All Users of Linux

This is Episode 438!

This is Episode 438.5!

Recorded on Sunday, May 26th 2024

Enjoying the sunshine I’m Joe, Working ‘till the last minute, I’m Bill, getting lost in diversions, I’m Majid, and delving into digital art and audio production, I’m Eric

— Play Standard Intro —

  • Please remember if you want to follow along with our discussions, the full show notes for this episode are available on our website at https://mintcast.org/show-notes/
  • Links for the show notes are in the show’s description.
  • First up in the news: Mozilla Reveals New Features Coming to Firefox, Ubuntu 24.10 to Default to Wayland for NVIDIA Users, KDE Plasma 6.1 Beta Released With Wayland Explicit Sync, Input Capture Portal & More, KDE Plasma 6.1 Lands Dynamic Triple Buffering Support, Btrfs Sends In Fixes For Linux 6.10 & Restores “norecovery” Mount Option, Turkey bans Distrowatch
  • In security and privacy: High-severity GitLab flaw lets attackers take over accounts, Microsoft unveils Copilot+ PCs with generative AI capabilities baked in, including one that is causing concern for a UK-based watchdog group.
  • Then in our Wanderings: Joe gets his shots, Bill endeavors to dual boot, Majid creates Frankensteins Ubuntu, and Eric dips his toe into the world of digital art pens and illustration as well as honing his Audacity skills.
  • In our Innards section: We have a free-form discussion on AI utility, privacy and security
  • And finally, the feedback and a couple of suggestions

— Play News Transition Bumper —

The News

20 minutes

  • Mozilla Reveals New Features Coming to Firefox From OMG Ubuntu Wondering what sort of nifty new features the Firefox web browser will get in future updates? Well, wonder no more as Mozilla has shared a roadmap outlining its near-term priorities on new features, performance, compatibility, and general enhancements, some of which are already available for early-bird testing it the browser’s preview channels. So be excited, be-be excited because a flurry of new features are mentioned in the roadmap, including long-awaited vertical tabs, new tab grouping options, and more personalisation options (like those new tab wallpapers I mentioned a few weeks back). Mozilla also talks about how it plans to approach infusing the browser with AI-powered gubbins. Sure to please the impatient, several of these new features are under active development, and can be manually enabled in beta and nightly builds by modifying about:configvalues (but strictly for development tracking as they’re WIP, incomplete, etc). So what’s cooking exactly? Productivity buffs Mozilla’s got in the oven include:
    • Tab grouping options
    • Vertical tab layout
    • New profile management system
    Appetising visual garnish on the way includes:
    • New tab wallpapers
    • Simpler privacy settings
    • Streamlined menus
    When it comes to adding AI features to Firefox Mozilla says it wants to only include features which “solve tangible problems”. For a first step it’s adding AI-generated alt-text for images users add to their documents using the browser’s PDF editor. Reassuringly Mozilla also notes it’s looking to use local on-device AI models where possible in order to preserve privacy, much like it does with its language translation feature. Hopefully this means the browser doesn’t start adding annoying “Hey, it looks like you’re writing a product review based on subjective experience! Would you like AI to write an enthusiastic snippet device of substances for you?” nags! But beyond UI, UX, and AI the most important element of a browser experience is… how well it handles the web. To this Mozilla says its continuing to enhance the “speed, performance, and compatibility” of Firefox on all platforms, including mobile. “We’ve already improved responsiveness by 20 percent as measured by Speedometer 3, a collaboration we’ve spearheaded with other leading tech companies,” community manager ‘Jon’ (no surname; maybe he’s the Madonna of Mozilla) says. “And in that collaborative spirit, we’re also working with the Interop project to make it easy for people to build sites that work great across all browsers.” In all, exciting stuff. Firefox may not be perfect and, to some, may not be the fastest, flashiest, or most featured web browser. But it remains arguably a vitally important one: a bulwark against a Chromium monoculture. Mozilla encourages folks to get involved in shaping the future direction, be it via their Connect ideas platform, through discussions on Mozilla Discourse forum, or by joining in an upcoming AMA it’s hosting on Reddit (date TBC).
  • Ubuntu 24.10 to Default to Wayland for NVIDIA Users From: OMG Ubuntu Ubuntu first switched to Wayland as its default display server in 2017, before reverting the following year. It tried again in 2021 and has stuck with it since. But while Wayland is what most of us now use after installing Ubuntu (aware of it or otherwise) anyone doing so on a PC or laptop equipped an NVIDIA graphics card will instead log-in to an Xorg/X11 session.

Why? Because NVIDIA’s proprietary graphics drivers (which many people, especially gamers, choose to use for the best performance and full access to hardware capabilities) haven’t supported Wayland as well as as they (arguably) could’ve.

Past tense there since the situation has changed during the past few years. NVIDIA has warmed up to Wayland — partly as it had no choice given the display server tech is now the de facto standard in most Linux distros and partly because it wants to: opportunities, ahoy!

So with the NVIDIA + Wayland sitch’ in a better —not perfect— state Canonical’s engineers say they feel confident enough in the experience to make the Ubuntu Wayland session default for all NVIDIA graphics card users in Ubuntu 24.10.

“There are still a few known issues with this combination and due to the heavy use of Ubuntu Desktop in AI/ML, VFX and other industries we concluded that it was too early to make that switch in Ubuntu 24.04 LTS,” the interim Engineering Director for Ubuntu Desktop says.

Given that interim (aka short-term) Ubuntu releases are designed to function as a ‘test bed’ for substantive changes angled for inclusion in future long-term support (LTS) releases, the sooner the switch happens the sooner real-world testing, fixing, etc., can take place.

Not that anyone need wait for the Ubuntu 24.10 release to use Wayland on NVIDIA. All supported versions of Ubuntu can run Wayland on NVIDIA but —important— depending on which release and which NVIDIA driver version is in use…

Well, let’s just sat that some expectation and/or config adjustment may be required.

Still, this is a deeply exciting development and may help Ubuntu follow in the steps of other distros in choosing to drop Xorg/X11 from its ISO — though maybe not from the archive just yet, eh ‘Buntz?

  • KDE Plasma 6.1 Beta Released With Wayland Explicit Sync, Input Capture Portal & More From Phoronix: The beta release of Plasma 6.1 is now available for testing over the US holiday weekend. KDE Plasma 6.1 delivers on Wayland explicit sync support, Adaptive-Sync / VRR fixes, continued HDR progress, and being merged just at the last minute today ahead of the code branching was KDE dynamic triple buffering. KDE Plasma 6.1 has also wired up support for the Input Capture portal, Remote Desktop system integration with RDP, a new UX for Plasma’s edit mode, support for passwordless screen locking, a better window layout algorithm for Plasma’s Overview, System Settings enhancements, and an array of other improvements.

    More details on today’s Plasma 6.1 Beta release via KDE.org. The beta marks the hard feature freeze and soft UI and string freeze for Plasma 6.1. The stable KDE Plasma 6.1 release is expected around 18 June.
  • KDE Plasma 6.1 Lands Dynamic Triple Buffering Support From Phoronix The four month old KWin merge request by Xaver Hugl to allow for triple buffering has been merged and just in time for the Plasma 6.1 code branching! Back in December a merge request was opened against Kwin for allowing dynamic triple buffering akin to the long in-development but used on Ubuntu GNOME dynamic triple buffering. Xaver explained in that merge request:
    • “When it takes more than one refresh cycle to render a frame, which isn’t unheard of with weak integrated GPUs, KWin starts compositing immediately and we may or may not hit the vblank deadline. If it’s missed, then the buffer takes a whole refresh cycle of the display to be used, which means the refresh rate drops to half of what it should be – resulting in a less smooth appearance and increased latency.

      With this MR, KWin schedules frames so that they can always hit the vblank deadline, and allows a maximum of two frames to be pending at the same time. This means that if the GPU can’t keep up, latency will be increased just as much as is needed instead of almost one entire additional frame of latency and the halved refresh rate.”
    Immediately prior to the Plasma 6.1 branching, it was merged. Plasma 6.1 is expected to be out in June with this dynamic triple buffering and many other refinements to the Plasma 6 desktop.
  • Btrfs Sends In Fixes For Linux 6.10 & Restores “norecovery” Mount Option From: Phoronix Last week saw the main Btrfs pull request for Linux 6.10 that delivered on some performance optimizations while today saw a secondary set of merge window changes for this CoW file-system that is now adding back the “norecovery” mount option. Btrfs’ “norecovery” mount option had been deprecated for a while before being dropped in Linux 6.8. But… multiple user-space projects relied on the “norecovery” option and hadn’t migrated to Btrfs’ preferred option of “rescue=nologreplay” instead. This caused problems from systemd to YaST. As such, this “norecovery” option is being added back to avoid user-space breakage and it’s just an alias anyhow for the “rescue=nologreplay” option.

    The Btrfs “norecovery” option is used to not attempt any data recovery at mount time by disabling log replay and other write operations. While Btrfs’ norecovery was deprecated back in Linux 5.11 and only dropped in Linux 6.8, there’s user-space software running into errors now trying to use this dropped option when trying to mount a Btrfs file-system without any writes. Other file-systems have also similarly supported the “norecovery” option. So to avoid this confusion and user-space problems, the “norecovery” option is being added to Linux 6.10 Git and is also marked for back-porting to the Linux 6.8 and 6.9 kernels.

    That’s all been squared away with today’s Btrfs pull request.
  • Turkey bans Distrowatch
    • From Linux Format LXF315 (2024-06) via londoner Since 2001, Distrowatch has helped Linux users make informed decisions by posting news and reviews of various versions of the OS. In late March, the National Cyber Incident Response Center (USOM) in Turkey decided to block access to the site for local users, though it’s not entirely clear why. USOM claimed that Distrowatch’s IP hosts “harmful software” and it’s a source of malware. The original USOM announcement has been taken down and is now only accessible via the Wayback Machine. Given the internet censorship in Turkey, a more cynical explanation is the government doesn’t want its citizens to discover privacy-orientated distros to protect themselves online. Which leads us on to …..

— Play Security Transition Bumper —

Security and Privacy

10 minutes

  • High-severity GitLab flaw lets attackers take over accounts
    • From bleepingcomputer.com (via londoner)
    • GitLab patched a high-severity vulnerability that unauthenticated attackers could exploit to take over user accounts in cross-site scripting (XSS) attacks. The security flaw (tracked as CVE-2024-4835) is an XSS weakness in the VS code editor (Web IDE) that lets threat actors steal restricted information using maliciously crafted pages. While they can exploit this vulnerability in attacks that don’t require authentication, user interaction is still needed, increasing the attacks’ complexity.
    • “Today, we are releasing versions 17.0.1, 16.11.3, and 16.10.6 for GitLab Community Edition (CE) and Enterprise Edition (EE),” GitLab said. https://about.gitlab.com/releases/2024/05/22/patch-release-gitlab-17-0-1-released/ “These versions contain important bug and security fixes, and we strongly recommend that all GitLab installations be upgraded to one of these versions immediately.”
    • On Wednesday, the company also fixed six other medium-severity security flaws, including a Cross-Site Request Forgery (CSRF) via the Kubernetes Agent Server (CVE-2023-7045) and a denial-of-service bug that can let attackers disrupt the loading of GitLab web resources (CVE-2024-2874).
    • GitLab is a popular target since it’s known to host various types of sensitive data, including API keys and proprietary code. Hence, hijacked GitLab accounts can have a significant impact, including supply chain attacks, if the attackers insert malicious code in CI/CD (Continuous Integration/Continuous Deployment) environments, compromising an organization’s repositories.
    • As CISA warned earlier this month, threat actors are now actively exploiting another zero-click account hijacking vulnerability patched by GitLab in January. Tracked as CVE-2023-7028, this maximum severity security flaw allows unauthenticated attackers to take over GitLab accounts via password resets. Even though Shadowserver discovered over 5,300 vulnerable GitLab instances exposed online in January, less than half (2,084) are still reachable at the moment. ​CISA added CVE-2023-7028 to its Known Exploited Vulnerabilities Catalog on May 1, ordering U.S. federal agencies to secure their systems within three weeks by May 22.
  • Microsoft unveils Copilot+ PCs with generative AI capabilities baked in From: Engadget The aim is to handle more AI processing locally rather than in the cloud. We’ve been hearing rumblings for months now that Microsoft was working on so-called “AI PCs.” At a pre-Build event, the company spelled out its vision. Microsoft is calling its version Copilot+ PCs, which CEO Satya Nadella described as a “new class of Windows PCs.” These contain hardware designed to handle more generative AI Copilot processes locally, rather than relying on the cloud. Doing so requires a chipset with a neural processing unit (NPU), and manufacturers such as Qualcomm have been laying the groundwork with chips like the Snapdragon X Elite. Microsoft is taking a partner-first approach to making Copilot+ PCs. Along with chipmakers like AMD, Intel and Qualcomm, major OEMs including Acer, ASUS, Dell, HP and Lenovo are on board. The first Copilot+ laptops are available to preorder today and they’ll ship on June 18. Prices start at $999. Yusuf Mehdi, Microsoft EVP and Consumer Chief Marketing Officer, said during the event that the company has completely reimagined what a Windows PC is. He claimed that Copilot+ PCs are the most powerful PCs ever (we’ll need to see if that assertion holds up in real-world testing). Despite that, Mehdi said, the first generation of laptops are “unbelievably thin, light and beautiful.” Other AI PCs on the market deliver 10 TOPs (tera operations per second). To be dubbed a Copilot+ PC, a system will need to deliver at least 40 TOPs of NPU performance and have at least 16GB of RAM and 256GB of storage. Qualcomm claims the Snapdragon X Elite delivers up to 75 TOPs overall. But the pure specs matter less than what Microsoft is able to actually do with the hardware. Mehdi also suggested Copilot+ PCs are 58 percent faster than M3-powered MacBook Airs (though it’s worth noting Apple has more powerful M3 chips in its laptops already and M4 chips on the way very soon). The company suggested that Copilot+ laptops will offer up to 22 hours of battery life while playing videos locally and up to 15 hours while browsing the web. To help make all of this happen, the Windows Copilot Runtime has more than 40 AI models that are part of a new Windows 11 layer. They’re said to be deeply integrated into Windows to help them more efficiently access hardware and to power more robust privacy and security options. The models can work across any app, Microsoft says. As far as the Windows features go, one aspect of Copilot+ PCs is something that’s been rumored for a while. It’s called Recall, and you can think of it as a more advanced version of the Timeline feature from Windows 10. You’ll be able to use natural language prompts to get your PC to resurface information based on what you remember about it. You’ll be able to scroll through apps, documents and messages on an explorable timeline. According to Mehdi, Microsoft built Recall with responsible AI standards in mind. Data from it will stay on your PC and it won’t be used to train Microsoft’s AI models. Additionally, you’ll be able to restore old snaps in Windows Photos using a tool called Super Resolution. In addition, the app will offer an option to tell a story based on your photos with the help of an AI narrator. Live Captions, meanwhile, will offer real-time captioning and translations into English from more than 40 languages (with more to come) from both live and pre-recorded video. Microsoft now has its own upscaling tech (akin to NVIDIA’s DLSS) for games too. It’s called Auto Super Resolution and it’s said to use AI to upscale the resolution of graphics and improve refresh rates in real-time without impacting performance. There’s also a new Copilot app that you can use as a standalone window, sidebar or in full screen. You’ll be able to drag and drop elements into Copilot from elsewhere in Windows. Thanks to the new Copilot key on keyboards, you’ll be able to fire up the app with the touch of a physical button. Copilot will eventually be able to let you adjust Windows settings too. Given that Qualcomm uses Arm architecture, it’s perhaps little surprise that Microsoft has rebuilt Windows 11 for Arm-based chips. Microsoft has been trying to make Arm-based Windows PCs a thing for some time, with mixed results. We had major reservations about the Arm-powered Surface Pro 9 a couple of years ago. But perhaps the company has finally cracked that nut this time around. To help with that, Microsoft has developed an emulator called Prism that is said to be as efficient as Apple’s Rosetta 2. The aim is to help users run legacy x86/x64 apps without a hitch. Major apps such as Zoom, Chrome, Spotify and Photoshop will run natively on Arm-based Windows. The Copilot+ PC is the natural progression of something we’ve seen in flagship Android phones over the last couple of years. The most recent Google Pixel devices, for instance, handle many generative AI processes on-device by tapping into the power of the company’s Tensor chips. Meanwhile, Apple is largely expected to move into the generative AI space in a major way at its Worldwide Developers Conference next month. The M4 chip that recently debuted in the new iPad Pro is said to be capable of powering GAI experiences and that chipset should be coming to Macs later this year. Apple’s also said to be working on a deal with OpenAI, perhaps to bring its generative AI tech to Siri.

Related to the previous story, Microsoft’s new AI “Recall” feature is causing concern for a UK watchdog group.

The UK data watchdog says it is “making enquiries with Microsoft” over a new feature that can take screenshots of your laptop every few seconds. Microsoft says Recall, which will store encrypted snapshots locally on your computer, is exclusive to its forthcoming Copilot+ PCs.

But the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) says it is contacting Microsoft for more information on the safety of the product, which privacy campaigners have called a potential “privacy nightmare”.

Microsoft says Recall is an “optional experience” and it is committed to privacy and security. According to its website, users “can limit which snapshots Recall collects”. “Recall data is only stored locally and not accessed by Microsoft or anyone who does not have device access,” the firm said in a statement.

And it said a would-be hacker would need to gain physical access to your device, unlock it and sign in before they could access saved screenshots. But an ICO spokesperson said firms must “rigorously assess and mitigate risks to peoples’ rights and freedoms” before bringing any new products to market. “We are making enquiries with Microsoft to understand the safeguards in place to protect user privacy,” they said.


Recall has the ability to search through all users’ past activity including files, photos, emails and browsing history. Many devices can already do this – but Recall also takes screenshots every few seconds and searches these too.

“This could be a privacy nightmare,” said Dr Kris Shrishak, an adviser on AI and privacy. “The mere fact that screenshots will be taken during use of the device could have a chilling effect on people.”

Microsoft says it “built privacy into Recall’s design” from the beginning, and users will have control over what is captured. For example, users can opt out of capturing certain websites, and private browsing on Microsoft’s own Edge browser will not be captured. “People might avoid visiting certain websites and accessing documents, especially confidential documents, when Microsoft is taking screenshots every few seconds,” said Dr Shrishak.

And Daniel Tozer, data and privacy expert at Keystone Law, said the system reminded him of dystopian Netflix programme Black Mirror. “Microsoft will need a lawful basis to record and re-display the user’s personal information,” he said. “There may well be information on the screen which is proprietary or confidential to the user’s employer; will the business be happy for Microsoft to be recording this?

And he asked how consent would work for people appearing on the screen on a video call or photo. “Are they going to be given the choice as to whether to consent to that? User and access controls will be a key issue on which Microsoft will doubtless be focussing,” he said.

Passwords screengrabbed

Meanwhile, Jen Caltrider, who leads a privacy team at Mozilla, suggested the plans meant someone who knew your password could now access your history in more detail. “[This includes] law enforcement court orders, or even from Microsoft if they change their mind about keeping all this content local and not using it for targeted advertising or training their AIs down the line,” she said.

According to Microsoft, Recall will not moderate or remove information from screenshots which contain passwords or financial account information. “That data may be in snapshots that are stored on your device, especially when sites do not follow standard internet protocols like cloaking password entry,” said Ms Caltrider. “I wouldn’t want to use a computer running Recall to do anything I wouldn’t do in front of a busload of strangers. “That means no more logging into financial accounts, looking up sensitive health information, asking embarrassing questions, or even looking up information about a domestic violence shelter, reproductive health clinic, or immigration lawyer.”

— Play Wanderings Transition Bumper —

Bi-Weekly Wanderings

30 minutes (~5-8 mins each)

  • Bill
    • So this week I completed the video on how to successfully dual-boot Endeavour OS with Windows 11. I’ve made a couple tutorials in the past, but this one was a bit more fun than the others. Probably because of how many times I had to stop and re-start the recording. Watching the video, you get the idea the steps are somewhat simple. This is because of how many times I had to re-do some steps and remove some sections of the video where I did something wrong. The trick with dual-booting is to do the partitions manually. In the old days of Bios and “Master File Table” storage scemes, you didn’t have to worry about where the boot manager was getting its configs from because it was just placed on the raw MFT space on the drive. Now, with UEFI, a seperate FAT32 partition is created for the boot stubs. Both OS’s need to store their boot info in the same place, other wise Dual-Booting Will fail. The only way Linux will know to put it’s boot info in the same partition as Windows is if you do it yourself. Another thing that will likely give you the fits when Dual-Booting is the UEFI it’s self. Sometimes Windows will manipulate the “Boot order” of the UEFI, effectively making it appear as though Linux has disappeared from the system. It helps to understand that GRUB and other boot managers do not boot Windows directly, rather they chain-load the “Windows boot manager” which is a seperate, whilebeit transparent thing. It helps to understand this because if you go to the UEFI settings then navagate to the “boot order” The GRUB entry and the Windows boot manager will be two seperate things. If Windowsw boot manager is first on the list, the system will skip right over GRUB and go straight to Windows. You have to set GRUB as the first to be booted. Depending on what distro you’re attempting to Dual-boot, the GRUB listing can have wildly different names. Normally a bit of deductive reasoning will serve to figure out which one is right. Usually because it will be the one with “Linuxy” words in it. In my video, I knew which one was right because it cantained the word “QUEMU.” Where else on earth would you see that word? I maintain the vast number of people who attempt to Dual-boot and fail is because their boot manager doesn’t get put to the top of the list, giving the appearance of failure. It’s very important to know how to fix this because Windows will likely at some point push an update that re-sorts the UEFI, putting the Windows boot manager back at the top of the list. So this is a dance you have to negotiate periodically. There’s two other things that should be done after successful installation of Linux on a Dual-booted system, and both are changes that need to be made to Windows. Per the ArchWiki page on Dual-booting, you’ll need to disable “fast boot” as well as set the sysem clock to UTC. There is details on the ArchWiki page for doing both of these things. They’re both just one-liners in the console with admin. Once you’ve followed the steps, you’ll have a well built, Dual-boot machine. Don’t forget – from time to time Windows will force you to go into the UEFI and re-adjust the boot order list, so it’s good to get familiar with navagating to, and finding stuff in you’re machine’s UEFI.
  • Joe
    • I received the 2 usb dongles for the razer nari ultimates. I was able to get one of them connected to one of the repaired headsets and it seems to be working. I am still testing before i make my final assessment. The connection process does require connecting the USB dongle and the headset to a windows device while running the pairing software from RAZER. Does not take long at all.
    • The second one will not connect to the computer. Linux or windows, different hubs both powered and unpowered. I even cleaned the contacts and made sure the outer shape was correct. But nothing worked. I contacted the people that i bought it from and let them know. They did offer to send me another one which I did receive and did work long enough to pair. Then it died. So I am not going to ask for another one. I am certain they were acting in good faith so I am going to just call it a wash. I have two working headsets for now and I will probably order another one later on.
    • My son has been using a One Plus nord n200 which is T-mobiles budget phone from a year or 2 ago. He likes it a lot. But the other day he dropped it in a parking lot and shattered the screen. There are replacements that are t-mobile exclusive on Amazon for 80 bucks so i have ordered one of those and we are going to see how well the replacement works. I am also thinking of ordering one for my daughter who is due for an upgrade this year. At the behest of my wife i am only ordering the first one for JJ until i see the quality of the device. From the reviews the retailer is good about sending out the initial device but is terrible at responding if there is an issue of some kind. That particular phone can sometimes come from the factory with an issue with the sim card reader so that could be a concern.
    • We did get the phone and it did work great but I have time before my daughter needs a new phone so I am going to continue looking to see if I can find a good replacement or maybe get another free one from t-mobile
    • Long time listeners may or may not remember me talking about replacing the Y coupler on the coolant system for my van last year. It burst again this year. Thankfully my wife was not far aaway from the house when it happened. We were able to get home and then go and get the part in the Buick and I was able to install it in about an hour. We also purchaed some coolant at the same time but i am not putting that in yet. Just water. Last time this happened i flushed the radiator and put in coolant and the next day a different coupler popped. So i am going to let the wife drive it as is and we will just keep the coolant in the back to put in as the thing gets low.
    • I went to an allergist because i am tired of taking as much antihistamine as i do. So that ended up being a couple of interesting appointments. At first they imaged my nasal passages and decided that i should have surgery to correct my septum. Something i was not looking forward to.
    • But my next appointment was an allergy panel. I had to stop taking all antihistamines for a week before the appointment. It was not a fun week and i did not sleep much because i couldnt breathe very well even with my cpap machine
    • During the appoint i had like 50 or so needles in my back and then a short wait and then a series of follow up injections in the arm to see what all i am allergic to. This test showed that i was moderatley allergic to just about everything.
    • I was also told that i might not need the surgery and was put on a round of anti inflammatories and some antibiotics to help me get back to a regular baseline in regards to my allergies. But i will need to spend 1 day per week for 9 months getting injections to reduce my reaction to everything. There is a bit more to it than that, treatment will be for like 5 years or something. But it is supposed to help
  • Moss
  • Majid
    • So we had our few days of summer. A lovely bunch of days, warm sunshine, long evenings and time to put the winter clothes away. All for about 2 minutes as then the weather deteriorated in typical British style and flooding ensued.
    • On the tech front, so after mulling over the idea that I could use Ubuntu Cinnamon 24.04 as a surrogate Linux 22 till it comes out (wheres the betas btw?) I decided to put that on my Lenovo Yoga (which I had luckily failed to get Endeavour on last time). Well it installed ok without issue as a dual boot with windows. This is my first time using Ubuntu Cinnamon for a extended period of time outside of live sessions. Its an odd distro. I mean it works fine. Has lots of applications included, you could even say it was bloated. Loads of games and stuff. A lot of these apps were ones you would find on MATE desktops. So this device is a touchscreen and it worked fine on that regard. However I couldn’t get any of the touchscreen gestures to work. Touchegg just wouldnt run. Kept saying disabled. I installed, reinstalled and enabled flatpak. Just wouldnt work, and I know its a typical #firstworldproblem, but its something im used to. In the end decided I would give up, but I didn’t want to nuke and pave straightaway. I remembered I had relatively recently put gnome onto a mint 21.3 install, so thought “what could possibly go wrong”, and did a sudo apt-get install gnome-desktop. I fully expected to get a standard Ubuntu desktop, instead I got a vanilla gnome desktop with none of the ubuntu extensions and tweaks thats on the mainline release. Kind of like a stock fedora install. But there weren’t a lot of gnome apps. So my file manager remained as Nemo and not Nautilus etc. It feels a bit Frankensteins monster distro with a look of stock gnome, on wayland, apps from MATE but with a cinnamon X11 session. I kind of like it! It does annoy the purist in me, but hey it works!
    • Really liked Bills video on ENdeavour after my failed endeavours, I think its really useful, cheers mates!
    • I mentioned last time that I had pulled the trigger on a OnePlus Pad which I was getting at a significant discount. One of the appeals for it was that I find a tablet a good way of taking notes at medical conferences and events. A phone is too restrictive, and a laptop too unweidly. It was one of the few times I enjoyed using that iPad I discussed a year or so ago. I was attending the Association of Paediatric Anaesthsiology annual meeting up in Newcastle (which is in the north of England). It worked really well. I use OneNote mainly as its crossplatform (sorry!) and it worked well. Notes, presentations, annotations etc. For once a tech purchase being productive!
    • Speaking of that conference, I had done the majority if my training including my paediatric fellowship there, and so it was a great opportunity to meet old friends and colleagues. Amazing how time flies. A lot of them were interested by the podcasts I’m on, so we may be getting a few more hits and subscribers (hopefully). By UK standards its a relatively long drive (about 200miles). However when I was driving back, the great British tradition of doing road maintenance overnight, meant that I had to go frequent diversions especially through Yorkshire (which isn’t smooth terrain) and my google maps was as useful as a chocolate teapot. I arrived home late, and then had an early start (doing a paediatric surgery list as it happens!) so have been tired since. Had a few other late finishes at the hospital, meaning I’m quite looking forward to the next few days off (its bank holiday and kids half-term holidays)
    • Still enjoying Shogun, haven’t finished it yet though. Star Trek Discovery is surprisingly good (for a change). X-Men 97 finished with a bang! Got Dark Matter coming up next.
    • Watched Gladiator with my sons, they hadnt seen it and so were really impressed with it. Sometimes I wish I could watch films again for the first time
    • So I’ve discovered Arab Heavy Metal! Its brilliant! Particularly like the egyptian back Zaeer and the Moroccan band Myrath.
    • Also really like the cover of “I was made for loving you” by Yungblud. Theres something about his voice. Raw talent
    • I’m finding election season in the UK hilarious. I means its like something out of a satire. Some of the memes and youtube videos are soo clever.
    • Oh as a PSA, im off the cesspit that it is X/Twitter/whatever and have fully replaced it with Mastodon. I’ve been on mastodon for a while, but wasnt really engaging it, will be from now on. Link in the show notes.
  • Eric
    • My wife has been a graphic designer for many years and has always chosen to use a Windows PC with CorelDRAW as her primary design software. She has always used a mouse and keyboard to create her final illustrations but often will use pencil and paper to draft her ideas. She recently asked if I thought the used Dell Latitude 5290 2-in-1 tablet PC could work as a drawing tablet, something like a Wacom pad, which is the only digital drawing equipment she is familiar with. I thought it was an excellent idea, however I needed to order the correct electronic pen, or perhaps stylus is the more correct term?

      Dell has a few pens that will work with the 5290 and there are also some third party options as well. After careful research, it seemed like the Dell Active Pen model PN557W was the best choice. It was right around $40 which, while not cheap is still less than the one for a Samsung tablet. My daughter is still trying to live down losing hers. The pen itself is very nice. It is nice and long with a barrel that’s about one and a half times thicker than a standard pencil. There is a button on top that is flush and has a nice tactile click as well as another button on the barrel near where your index finger rests. It takes one AAA battery and two minuscule button batteries. Seriously, the are the tiniest batteries I’ve ever seen. My wife thinks they are the type that are used in hearing aid, which makes sense. I’m curious to see what the battery life is like.

      The next step was booting into the instance of Windows that I left on the tablet when I got it. I’m dual booting Ubuntu 24.04 and, even though it has os-prober enabled, it didn’t identify the Windows install and add it to the boot menu. There also wasn’t an entry in the computer’s UEFI boot menu so I ended up needing to fix Windows boot. I downloaded the Windows 11 installation media and put it on a USB stick with Ventoy. As a quick aside, Ventoy is such a beautiful piece of software. I recently discovered plugins and added a dark theme so it would stop blinding me when I booted. Of course, the automatic fix didn’t work so I had to perform the steps manually from the command line. It’s not difficult to do and I’ve certainly had plenty of practice at it over the years but it would be nice if the auto fix option would work just once. Anyway, I was able to boot into Windows, which I hadn’t done in probably six months. That meant copious updates consisting of Windows updates and various individual programs asking to be updated as well. All told, it took me the better part of an hour to get through all that. After that, I downloaded and installed the trial version of the CorelDRAW suite. This software is kind of notorious for being a bit of a pig but it actually seems to be running well.

      Windows 11 provides a robust set of configuration options for mapping the buttons to different options such as launching programs. Honestly, I don’t know much about it so we are going to learn together. Suffice to say, it seems like a very flexible solution and it’s nice that it’s a first-class part of the OS. Say what you will about Windows but there is a reason that professionals choose to use a system that is so well integrated with the tools they use. The machine in general runs Windows 11 pretty well, but it does take several minutes after boot for all the background things to settle down. Just Windows doing Windows things I guess.

      We haven’t yet sat down and tried it but probably will in the next few days. I’m excited to see how it goes. My wife is a bit of a Luddite and not one to embrace technology so I’m cautiously optimistic but expecting the possibility that she just doesn’t like it. If that’s the case, I’m sure my daughter, who has been creating digital art on her Samsung table since she was about 5, would be happy to use it. More to come on this topic.
    • I took over editing duties of Distrohoppers’ Digest as of episode 48 I believe and have been slowly evolving and enhancing my process with each successive episode. I had planned on trying out a few different AI-powered editing tools with the latest episode but ended up having a terrible month health wise so ultimately didn’t have the energy or interest to try something new. That meant using Audacity which isn’t necessarily a bad thing but it does usually take longer to edit.

      One thing I spent more time focusing on this time is using plugins to save time. I had been using the AppImage published directly by the Audacity team which works fine but doesn’t contain any plugins beyond the built-in Audacity ones. The Flathub version however comes loaded with a ton of third party plugins which provide some interesting capabilities. I feel like I’ve only scratched the surface but I found a few that sped up the process quite a bit. One of these is the ZamGate plugin, which let me reduce some of the more prominent breathing and throat clearing sounds. The built-in noise gate plugin doesn’t do nearly as nuanced a job as ZamGate. I also used a Desser for my audio since I tend to have some pretty sharp ‘s’ sounds from time to time. Lastly, I was using the built-in Truncate Silence plugin to reduce the longer pauses but not so much that there isn’t sufficient pauses between sentences. Once I am done with the Audacity edit, I use Auphonic to master the episode. It adjusts the audio via an auto leveler, frequency filter, loudness normalization, and noise reduction. The result is very balanced, warm sounding audio that I think sounds very professional.

      I still want to try some other option to see how else I can reduce the time to edit while improving the overall quality of the edit but I’m glad I took the time to learn more about how to better use the plugins available in Audacity. It really is one of those amazing open source projects that has become a trusted and relied upon piece of software for all things audio editing.

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Linux Innards

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  • Free-from discussion on AI utility, privacy and security

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  • Nic
    • Have you mentioned Think Penguin in the Mintcasts?

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