MONTHLY UPDATE – June 2020

Bought Liberate Hong Kong book

My favorite Hong Konger author, Kong Tsung-gan, (also a reporter at Hong Kong Free Press) has released his 3rd book on the protest movement there. I already have his first book “Umbrella: A Political Tale from Hong Kong”, and his 2nd book “As long as there is resistance, there is hope: Essays on the Hong Kong freedom struggle in the post-Umbrella Movement era, 2014-2018”.

I just bought his third book, “Liberate Hong Kong: Stories from the Freedom Struggle”. Sadly, I missed out on buying it from Hong Kong Free Press and getting a paper copy. The publisher isn't selling paper copies, and is only selling PDF copies. I asked them if I could buy an ePub. They referred me to Amazon. Ugh. I let it be known to them that, “I'd rather not support an ethical monster such as Amazon”. They agreed with me. So, I'm now confused why Mekong Review still lists their book there? while also giving them a 30% cut of every book sold too. I understand listing on Amazon and then still selling ePubs yourself, but they don't even do that. It's getting harder and harder to avoid these GAFAM monsters, but this just seems lazy.

Anyways, all this led me to downloading the program, Sigil Ebook editor. It's interesting to learn how to make your own epub. Of course, I already know how to click 'convert to epub' in Calibre, but Sigil is a more advanced program that let's you easily edit all parts of the ebook.

Now I have to get around reading the ePub I made, and correcting the little mistakes that are probably in there from the conversion process.

Black Lives Matter Rally

Another needless murder of a black person by a white police officer. I fear I am getting numb to this. This murder has ignited more protests, and subsequently more deaths at the hands of the police. We are not that far removed from this situation. I work with some really awesome black people. They organized a fundraiser and a rally. It was a pleasure to attend and support them.

Let's hope there is some more justice for all people after this virus thing blows over. https://www.facebook.com/events/2452488661520186

Yunohost Security

I finally got around to making my Yunohost server more secure. I made SSH login without password. Details for you to do on your own server: https://yunohost.org/#/security

Kids Took TOEFL at School

I'm so proud of my little students. They were brave and got through the test. I haven't seen the results yet, but I hope they did well.

Son going to public kindergarten

There are not enough public kindergarten spots for all children in Taiwan. (Why? I'm not sure but it must be rooted in the culture of grandparents living with families and functioning as 'free' childcare.) To get one of these spots, you have to enter a lottery. I entered the lottery last year, but didn't get it. This year, we tried again and got it!

Why is this so important? Because of $$$. A private kindergarten costs about $12,000-16,000 NTD a month. Now with the minimum wage only $23,000 NTD a month, that seems a little insane, oui ou non? The public kindergarten costs $150 NT a month. This means my family will be saving an extra $100,000 a year due to the 'lucky draw'.

This seems like a terrible system for those that didn't get it. The government keeps complaining people aren't having babies, but can you blame them? You need some serious money to raise kids for the first 7 years of their life or quit your job to be a stay at home parent. Luckily, public school from Grade 1 does have enough spots for all children. It's those first 7 years though that are the hardest to get through.

Migration from Google Photos > Photoprism

I am always on the lookout for a Google Photos replacement. This month, I found Photoprism. It seemed to tick all the boxes I need to use as a Google Photos replacement. More information: https://github.com/photoprism/photoprism

I tested it on 06/07. My initial impressions are that it is very slick, and well developed so far.

Here are some features that impressed me: – auto organizes pictures by date – runs on docker image with a web interface – (there's a demo to see what it's like)

So I decided to give it a shot. I moved 171 GB of photos to my server for it to index on 06/08. It finished 49 hours later.

Now that all my photos are in there, I see that is very cool, but still not perfect for me yet: – No way to delete photos in the web interface – Doesn't handle AVI and MOV files well at all. All my AVI files were messed up. Only MP4 movies from newer phones were OK. – No way to rotate photos/movies in the web interface – No way to tag or edit metadata for more than one file at a time

For now, I will have to stick with Google Photos and keep an eye on Photoprism's development. I hope it becomes a little more user friendly, and better at editing (deleting/rotating)

Student stabbed at my school

06/12 Today, I feel sad, angry, and tired. It was a long day. In the morning, I came to school to find a high school student standing outside our school with two teachers. I then went to the office to punch in and found the floor covered in blood. At first, I thought it was a student's nose bleed, but then saw the student on the couch with the nurse and could tell that something bad happened. Later I would find out that the high school student outside stabbed one of our elementary students in the back multiple times. It's scary because that could've been any kid at our school. My daughter will come to this school next year. It could've been her. I'm angry because that high school student is such a coward. Why couldn't he just stab himself? or a classmate? He had to feel like a 'big man' and stab a student way younger than him? Just pitiful. I feel tired because there isn't much we can do. No matter what precautions the school takes, there will always be a way someone can hurt our kids. 5-6 years ago, an adult jumped a fence at a public school and sliced the throat of an elementary school child and they died. What is wrong with people? How can people still believe there is a God when he lets things like this happen? I am sad that I didn't come to school earlier today so I could have the opportunity to hurt that student who stabbed our child. There isn't any justice in this world.

A few weeks later, I'm more OK but still sad about the whole incident. I hope that student gets to come back to school soon so we can see them again. I'm still processing this.

LineageOS on my phone

My cracked phone was just too far gone to wait for PinePhone to become ready for me to use. I see that the camera still isn't working on UBPorts yet. So, in the interim, I scoured the LineageOS pages of phones that they support. I wanted a phone that was cheap, and not a Chinese company.

I settled on an Asus Zenphone Max Pro M2 ZB631KL. It has 6 GB of RAM, and 64 GB of storage. It was only about ~$7000 NTD. This is more than enough for my modest needs.

I then tried to flash it with LineageOS but I hadn't updated the firmware after buying it (noob move!). This led to some sleepless nights, but eventually got new updated firmware flashed to the phone, then went back and flashed LineageOS without Gapps on it.

The GPS wasn't working, so I reflashed it with LineageOS with MicroG but the GPS still isn't working. This isn't a deal breaker for me because everything else works, but would be nice to have GPS working. I posted on XDA Developer forums and am seeing if anybody else has this problem.

This whole LineageOS experiment is hopefully just temporary for me anyways, as I track the development of PinePhone and wait for that project to mature.

LineageOS is pretty cool so far though. If the GPS worked for me, it'd be damn near excellent. I still have some Google App store stuff installed but I feel better knowing that Google is stripped out of the main operating system of my phone, and I can pick and choose what I put on it. I feel like I'm back in control of things.

Custom ROM Development

To me, it seems very wasteful for custom ROM people to keep trying to adapt this terrible Google Android thing, to make it work for so many different types of phones. I think it's smarter in the long run if they band together, and make something from the ground up on PinePhone or another type of Linux based phone.

Then, if they make progress, it can be reused and built upon. It seems like a wasted amount of effort to make all these custom ROMs work on all these totally different phones, with totally different bootloaders, and completely different hardware.

Also, I didn't want to support Asus (or any phone company) by buying a phone from them, but PinePhone is still in the very early days of development. I'm sure they will catch up very fast to these other custom Android ROMs because their work is adaptable though. They can use/re purpose all the good Linux opensource apps already made, and adapt them to work on the phones.

Is it summer yet?

Just two more weeks of this semester for me. This COVID-19 semester has been hell. I really need a break. June has been a crazy month too. Is the darkness darker right before dawn? Let's see. Hope you had a good month!