Igor Bubelov
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November 2020

Notes · Dec 1, 2020

Table of Contents

Open Source

I continued working on my news and podcasts aggregator app for Android. It’s still a bit rough but I use it as a daily driver and it suits my needs pretty well. I almost got it approved into F-Droid and I believe it will happen in a few days. Hopefully, I’ll get some valuable feedback from the F-Droid users in the coming weeks.

Raspberry Pi is Vulkan Conformant

Raspberry Pi sports a pretty capable GPU which helps it to support up to two 4K displays, play 4K video and even run some 3D games with decent frame rates. The problem is, most of the software that needs GPUs doesn’t interact with them directly. Instead, it relies on one of the popular graphics APIs such as OpenGL or Vulkan.

Let’s take Blender as an example. It requires OpenGL 3.3 or Vulkan. In theory, it can run pretty well on a Raspberry Pi 4. In reality, it won’t run at all. How so?

The thing is, Raspberry Pi 4 GPU drivers can only support OpenGL 3.1 and lower and even this older version of OpenGL wasn’t supported for almost a year since Raspberry Pi 4 hit the shelves. There is no point in having good hardware if if doesn’t support any modern APIs and that’s why I’m exited to hear that Raspberry PI GPU drivers are now Vulkan 1.0 conformant:

https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/vulkan-update-were-conformant/

Vulkan support broadens the range of media manipulation software and games that can be used on a Raspberry Pi 4 and and makes it more appealing as a desktop. Anyway, don’t get your hopes up, as Vulkan 1.0 is pretty ancient and Raspberry Pi 4 will never support OpenGL 3.3 due to the limitations of its hardware.

State of Bitcoin Mining

https://blog.trezor.io/an-insider-update-on-the-bitcoin-mining-industry-b5fc020a3c1d

Funds such as the Grayscale Bitcoin Trust, reportedly on track to hold 500,000 bitcoins by the end of the year, have been buying bitcoin at a rate that outpaces the speed at which they are mined.

Chinese miners have had large competitive advantages since the ASIC era began in 2014, getting first access to new hardware because manufacturers are based there. Ultimately, the emergence of institutional money is helping drive hashrate redistribution in the West. So, from a mining decentralization standpoint, it’s very good.

The new Stratum V2 mining protocol which is included in the OS will eventually grant miners the ability to choose what transactions are included in blocks, known as Job Negotiation, instead of pools choosing, bringing more power to individual miners.

Seven Misconceptions About Bitcoin

I don’t like investment blogs. Except my own of course. And also this one:

https://www.lynalden.com/misconceptions-about-bitcoin/

Lyn Alden is an interesting author. Not sure why I like her style of writing, maybe because we both have an engineering background. She mostly writes about the stock market and the benefits of diversification but she is also brave and curious enough to explore less conventional assets such as Bitcoin.

High Quality E-Books

https://standardebooks.org/

Standard Ebooks is a volunteer driven, not-for-profit project that produces new editions of public domain ebooks that are lovingly formatted, open source, and free.

Ansible

I don’t have a complex infrastructure to manage but it was still interesting to read on what’s going on in this field.

https://steampunk.si/blog/getting-started-with-ansible/

With a market share of 27%, Red Hat’s Ansible has the biggest community to help you propel your development in times of architectural adversity. Being the most versatile CM tool on the market, Ansible is trusted by Intel, Atlassian, Cisco, Twitter, Verizon, and even NASA.

Solid

It looks like Solid is getting tested by NHS. That’s a big client, and a perfect use case for a tool like Solid.

https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2020/11/inrupts-solid-announcement.html

The idea behind Solid is both simple and extraordinarily powerful. Your data lives in a pod that is controlled by you.

Optimizing Things in the USSR

https://chris-said.io/2016/05/11/optimizing-things-in-the-ussr/

The author has an interesting angle on the problems which led to the collapse of the Soviet Union. It’s not a secret that it collapsed due to a deeply inefficient economic organization but its not obvious why it didn’t work out as planned. I mean, it’s obvious for the economists, at least from the times of Mises and Hayek but many utopian ideas still sound appealing and achievable. The devil is in the detail.

InfluxDB 2.0

https://www.influxdata.com/blog/influxdb-2-0-open-source-is-generally-available/

InfluxDB 2.0 is out of beta, finally. I tried quite a few monitoring tools and InfluxDB seems to be far ahead of its competition: it’s open source, it’s fast and it it’s also very easy to use.

AMD Ryzen 9 on Linux

https://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?page=article&item=ryzen-5900x-5950x

It looks like new AMD CPUs are working great on Linux from the day one and they beat Intel in every metric. Maybe it’s time to build a new PC?

JetBrains Compose

https://www.jetbrains.com/lp/compose/

Quite an interesting project from JetBrains. It allows us to share the GUI between Android and desktop platforms. Can be a nice addition to KMM, which lets us share most of the app code between Android and iOS.

Game: Fallout 4

Playing Fallout 4 in Survival mode is a bit tricky in the beginning but it’s not as hard as it may appear if you read about it. Some players find it annoying when the game forces them to satisfy the basic (and most boring) human needs such as hunger, thirst and plenty of sleep. As a person who spent hundreds of hours playing Sims games, it doesn’t bother me at all. The only thing that I hate about Survival mode is inability to “fast travel”. So I thought, until I found out that it’s possible to get to any location by a vertibird.

Illustration

Illustration

Vertibirds belong to a Brotherhood of Steel and you need to advance in their ranks quite a bit before you’ll be able to summon such a fancy air taxi. Having a heavy gun on board adds some extra fun to your rides.

Brotherhood of Steel was inspired by a great movie Apocalypse Now (1979).

Illustration

Illustration

Nuka-World is one of the official add-ons for Fallout 4. In fact, it’s the last official add-on for PS4. I didn’t finish all of the quests yet but it has been an interesting experience so far.