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Tech notes

Random IT tests, fixes and and findings that might help others.

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Rode Connect: Use advanced processing mode

TLDR I have been playing around with Rode Connect software, which came with the Streamer X, trying to EQ my voice. The software gives you choice of a basic or advanced processing modes. The problem with using the basic mode is that it activates all of the advanced controls in the background. You can't selectively turn options off or adjust them and you're stuck with the default values. This means, for example, that the noise gate is turned on in basic mode, which is something that I personally don't like because it is jarring when you do have a bit of environmental noise. So, if you need to turn anything off, use advanced mode.

Review: SmallRig Lightweight Travel Tripod AP-01 (3987)

Overally, the tripod is very solid, relatively light (1.3 kg) and feels like it would be good for smiting The Enemies of Journalists. It has a few useful features, including a 3/8 inch mounting thread that retracts to expose a 1/4 inch thread, and three built in 1/4 inch mounting threads at the top of the legs. The tripod legs extend out into three locked positions, including one near-horizontal, allowing the camera to be placed at ground level even without a center column.

I found a couple of minor flaws: Two of three (unneccessary) screws for securing the head worked loose and dropped out on the first day of use, and the spirit level on the supplied head was hopelessly misaligned, ie. useless. Despite that, it's otherwise well-built and fairly decent value for money, but the lack of quality control is disappointing.

The MacBook Air headphone jack supports external microphones

Want to connect an external microphone to your MacBook Air? You can.

The 3.5 mm headphone jack is actually a combo jack, which is capable of supporting microphone input as well. But for microphone input you must use a TRRS jack (the ones with two black rings, such as on a phone hands free kit).

Presumably this is also true of MacBook Pro.

Fix for ASUS TUF RX 6800XT OC Gaming crash to black screen

I started getting random crashes to black screen during gaming. It took a long time to isolate the problem, since the machine passed stress tests without issue, but after pulling my system apart, I finally noticed that the VGA light on the motherboard was lit after crashes. The fix was to update the GPU VBIOS, using an update tool from the manufacturer. It takes about 2 minutes and I haven’t had a problem since.

I don’t know if this is a problem with 6800XTs generally, or just with this specific model, but if you are having crashes and see the VGA tell-tale is lit, then check if an update is available for yours.

Microsoft forms: Fixing the "This form may not be safe" warning

TLDR: Using certain words such as "login" on your form will get it automatically flagged as suspicious. If you have problems, remove any terms that could be misinterpreted as phishing. It's likely that other terms such as "password" would also create problems.

How to fix Perl locale problems in Debian / Ubuntu / Raspbian

Here's a simple fix that works. Why don't they just fix it already? This has been driving me mental across multiple distros for ages on every box I have. There's just no excuse to leave an obvious irritation like this sitting around for years. But that's what you get on Linux.

Setting up PHP with GD2 image library in Docker

I put together some scripts to set up a dockerised PHP-Apache2 environment. Dockerhub actually has official images for this, but the problem is that they don't include the GD2 image library, you have to compile it in yourself. So, my scripts do that. They also create a persistent volume via a bindmount on the host machine, so that you can freely remove or rebuild the webserver container without losing your website data. 

How to set up a WireGuard VPN server in a Docker container

Tired of paying for a commercial VPN? I set up a private WireGuard VPN server, running in a Docker container on a cheap virtual machine I already have with Linode. No need to pay for additional infrastructure! It works straight out of the box, and is fast and simple to set up. This article closes a few gaps in the documentation that might slow you down. Set up time was about 10 minutes, including configuring client devices. It's a nice facility to have, and is so lightweight you can run it on existing infrastructure without paying anything more.

Heroku throws students, non-profits and other freeloaders under the bus

In a blog post annoying titled Heroku's Next Chapter, Heroku's General Manager has announced they will discontinue their free plans. On 28 November they will reduce free resources to zero and start deleting hobby-dev databases. Yep, they are going to bin your data with no warning other than an email, to "manage fraud and abuse". The good news is that you don't need them. Get your virtual machines from a cloud provider and containerise your apps with Docker instead. You'll never look back.

Thoughts on the Gl.iNet Beryl (GL-MT1300) travel router

The marketing materials lean heavily on its ‘advanced security features’, but TLDR it doesn’t have any, unless you think VPN capability is something special. It’s just a small, portable wireless router that can accept a WIFI signal as its WAN input. So you can use it in a coffee shop and have a firewall between you and their network, but the firewall is just like any other home router firewall. You can forward ports and so on, but that’s about it, and it doesn’t provide any visibility into the traffic or what’s going on. Sadly, it does not support DFS channels (52-140) on fast 5GHz WIFI, so it is not compatible with any access point using them.