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Real Computers

Filed under: Computing

I'm wriring this post (as all the other posts on this page have been written) on my Samsung Galaxy s5e tablet (Well, some may have been written on my s10e phone). Conventional wisdom is that this is silly, this is work for a "real computer". To some extent thats true, but its not a matter of hardware. Both of my devices have processors fast enough to emulate a PS2 at full speed, and GPU capability better than the laptop I used 8 years ago. All of this while using a fraction of the power of those older machines. So the software then?

This is the heart of the problem, there is a divide between devices meant for consumption and devices meant for creation. While you can do some work on a tablet, the design goal was getting Netflix into your face. If its just a matter of software, though, couldn't we just write software to do the creative things we want? This is where it sucks to be in the Apple world. For iOS the answer is "only if Apple allows it", and for the kind of creating I want to do they most certainly do not allow it. Android is a different story.

This starts with Termux, a command line environment for Android. Termux has been around for quite some time, and has a quite complete set of packages available for it. Being limited to just terminal applications isn't enough though, to really be a full time creative computer for me I also need some graphical applications as well. This is where Termux-X11 comes in. It emulates a wayland display and uses XWayland to present an X Windows environment. I've moved my i3 setup to this, and its been working well for the past month or so. I can run KiCad, Firefox, OpenSCAD, and slic3r in. OpenGL acceleration is a work in progress, but I find this doesn't slow me down much.

Some of those applications, like KiCad, don't have termux ports. For those there is proot. Proot is a usermode alternative to fakeroot, allowing the installation of other linux environments inside of Termux. its not hard to run a graphical application in the proot container and have it show up on the parent X display, its a matter of setting a few environment variables.

With this setup I finally get to check off an item thats been on my wishlist since I was a kid, a "main computer" that I can carry around in my pocket. It really shines a light on how fast and capable these machines are, and how the limitations we ascribe to them are entirely semantic. I plan to make some posts soon to describe in detail how I got this setup working, so look for that.

Author: Lady Errant
Published on: Jul 13, 2023, 12:00 PM GMT

Thinking about my solar power setup

Filed under: Solar, Modern Computing

For the past couple of years I've been powering my desk, bench and stereo from 4 100 watt solar panels. This project started off with just a 60 watt panel and grew from there to include 2 charge controllers charging two separate banks of batteries. One bank responsible for the router and server, one for my desk and bench. In North Texas there have only been a few weeks where its been cloudy for so long that I've run out of power and overall I'd call it successful.

Doing this has definitely changed how I approach computing. Starting out I had a laptop, a couple of older monitors and several ARM Linux boards acting as servers for various locally hosted services. Now I use three Android devices as my computers, and the servers have been reduced down to one and all of the locally hosted services are gone with the exception of Home Assistant.

A big eye opener was when I spun up a locally hosted Pleroma instance and tried to run it from solar power. One cloudy day was all it took for my 1.2 KWH of battery to be almost completely empty. While I understand the push on the privacy side to move to self hosted web applications, I feel like its not practical from an energy perspective. Beyond that there are discussions about security and abelism that aren't happening as much as they need to.

I've moved to as much of a "mesh" infrastructure as I can as an alternative. My git repositories are hosted on a folder that gets synced to my devices using syncthing, negating the need for a service like Gitea to be running. I likewise use DecSync to sync my contacts and calendars to other devices. While fine in those applications I know from experience that messaging/microblogging isn't really feasible in a mesh architecture. Even if we had reliable and well established protocols to handle the data, we would still have to find some way to deal with the energy requirements of each node processing all of that data.

Looking back its been interesting to see how I've adapted to use as little energy as possible in ways I wouldn't have considered before. I feel like practical experience is an overlooked way of solving engineering problems. It will be interesting to see how I need to adapt when I move to a less sunny climate.

Author: Lady Errant
Published on: Mar 13, 2023, 12:00 PM GMT

Yuri Manga Reviews - Vampeerz Vol. 1 and 2

Filed under: Yuri

So, the cover didn't really catch my eye but I'm running Kobo out of new yuri manga so I decided to grab it. Vampires aren't really my cup of coffee, anything focused on them tends to be repetitive of a handful of themes. Immortality, redeemable-bad-boy-syndrome, pointless mysticism and the like. This is to say that going in I was biased against the work at the outset, but I've already read "I can believe I slept with you" twice and thought I should read something else before I go for round three.

It only took about 10 pages to win me over. First off, the cover does not do the art justice. Where I went in expecting a predictable and cookie cutter style, I found the characters to be well defined and possessing a wide range of expression. The vampiric tropes aren't present for the most part, no bursting into flames in the sun, no garlic issues, and not supernatural. They don't even like being called vampires. Aria, the vampire love interest, isn't dark or brooding. She is revealed to be in the range of a hundred or more years old and seemed to have some kind of relationship with the protagonist, Ichika's, grandmother.

What really won me over was the depiction of Ichika's interest in Aria. A lot of otherwise good Yuri manga can't seem to grapple with wanting to portray a lesbian relationship positively while also acknowledging that this isn't currently seen as normal by a lot of people. Some just don't ever depict any kind of pushback whatsoever which leads to a story that seems too much a fantasy. Some spend the whole story overcoming that pushback to then come to a screeching halt before any actual relationship develops. Vampeerz does not do this, Ichika recognizes that there will be pushback but decides her new love for Aria is too strong and she just leans in to it.

Another unexpected highlight is Sakuya, Aria's mother. Anyone who knows me will know that I love characters that are unabashedly open about their desires, and Sakuya is just that. She winds up as the school nurse, and in a hilarious scene that has Ichika and Aria going to the nurse Aria has to stop Ichika from seeing into the room because her mother has her legs spread, feet on the desk, drunk and looking at her laptop. I'm positive the implication was that she got caught masturbating and I genuinely laughed out loud.

I want more, the story is just getting started by the end of the second volume and I feel like its set up a great cast and premise. Depressingly I noted that the second volume was published in December of 2022 so I'm hoping this series doesn't just fade away.

Author: Lady Errant
Published on: Mar 10, 2023, 12:00 PM GMT

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