Category Archives: News

Goodbye Gutenberg Editor

WordPress is a powerful Content Management System ( CMS ) which powers a majority of the blogs and web pages out there in the Interlands. The reason for its popularity is the convenience of using it, another reason is the simplicity and flexibility as well as the sheer number of available plugins.

WordPress itself is an open-source project and you can download and install it on your own servers with a few short linux commands. www.WordPress.com is the company behind wordpress which is earning money through is free-to-use blog sites on their main web page ( E.g. https://varolokan.wordpress.com/ ).

As CMS go, WordPress is leading the pack and its simplicity comes in part from the ability to add a new blog post or page to your site with a no-thrills text editor.

Enter the Gutenberg

Well, that was before the upgrade to WordPress 5.0, which happened in December 2018 . This upgrade brought the Gutenberg Editor as the default editor to WordPress. Gutenberg tries to improve the usability for editing blogs/pages by sectioning off different paragraphs, and injecting all kinds of HTML into the ensuing result.

If you want to tweak the output just a little you will want to switch the section back into HTML-Mode, and then adjust as needed. While most people may never need to get to that level of visibility, a lot of the hard-core bloggers do want to maintain full control over the look and feel of any aspect at any time in their blogs.

I have tried for the past month or so to get used to Gutenberg. I have tweaked and written, and added custom CSS. I played and wrote, and finally I caved in and ‘uninstalled’ this pile of garbage.

Yeah well the only way to uninstall Gutenberg, is to install a new plugin, of which you can choose from the officially supported Classic Editor, or the Disable Gutenberg plugins.

The official plugin by WordPress itself will be supported at least until 2022 ( and then ? ). The “Disable Gutenberg” promises to be around for longer.

What is impressive with those plugins is that they have been installed more than 1 million times for the “Classic Editor” plugin, and 70000 for the “Disable Gutenberg” plugin. These numbers should give WordPress a bit to think about, and maybe, just maybe consider to revert the order of Gutenberg vs Classic editor.

In my opinion the Gutenberg Editor should be the plugin for those few who like it and want to use it. For the vast majority it seems that the classic editor is the way to go. I am certain that over time more people will revert back to the classic editor ( which is based off TinyMCE ) and some will stay with Gutenberg not because they like it better but because they don’t know how to revert back.

This disaster comes close to the likes of the initial “Windows Vista” disaster where the might of a company is turning against their core user base with more or less dire consequences. It remains to be seen if WordPress will change course or will continue to try to push this time eating, confusing, ugly and no-good interface onto its user base.

Think about workflow

If you write a blog post or anything really you are going to write letters which build words which build sentences which eventually build paragraphs and if you write some more you likely have some chapters in your book.
In Gutenberg every chapter will be a new section, however in practice each sentence will try to become its own little section. This will force you to move your mouse and click the hell out of your text to read, edit, and format your text. If you press enter once to many times you will have to fiddle around to un-section the now two distinct sections. Don’t get me started if you want to use shortcuts, well good luck trying to not kill yourself figuring those out.

If the goal of Gutenberg has been to destroy a writers workflow, then good job guys. You have spent your time, development efforts, and money to achieve just that. If the goal was t improve the workflow and usability, then I’d like to suggest to fire the guy in charge of the design. Maybe he and his friend like using the shiny new click and drop interface however a whole bunch of existing users hate the new interface with a passion. Historically people who really like a tool like WordPress become really passionate about it and the worst enemy you can make is to have a whole bunch of obsessively passionate fans you just upset.

Ps. This blog is of course written on wordpress and is now free of Gutenberg ūüėČ

2019 is going to be a great year

It has been a long year. well it was one year long but as they say everything is relative and as such it felt much longer to me.

One area which helped to distort the objectivity of time was definitely related to politics. I don’t want to utter any political leanings here but I believe that regardless of which side you are on that the constant daily attacks on constitutional and presidential norms has taken its toll on the US populus and likely many, many people around the world.

Another area for me was related to my nine to five work, which is also something I do not usually talk about. However this year has seen a sea of change at our mid-size company where after going through 4 managers, the only constant seemed to be change and re-order ( Aka chaos ). I have come to believe that this is what will happen to any company when you replace your leaders with managers but that is for another post.

Now to the pleasant things of 2018

2018 has been the year where my family traveled to Europe together for the first time in 14 years. For my younger son it was the first time in his life, and the older one last saw Europe when he was a mere 6 months old. Ah memories.

Our trip started in Paris on June 19’th, when through Kelkheim, Germany where I grew up ( close to Frankfurt Main ) and then continued down south to the Cote d’Azures Nice, Monaco for a brief two days. We then continued along the southern part of France where we spent a few days in Ch√Ęteau des Ducs de Joyeuse before we ended up in Toulouse for a week.

Toulouse is where the older one was born while I was working there in the early 2000’s, so it was very nice to be back there and re-discover the area. A lot has changed in Toulouse in the past 14 years and a lot has remained the same.

We returned back to Paris only to stay the last night close to the airport before returning July 10th.

There is an app for that

I have also started to take my apps a bit more serious and developed a whole bunch of new ones. I also bought a set of apps from Flippa, and became obsessed with ASO, SEO, Marketing methods, AdWord campaigns and so forth. I think this year I may tip my toes into the Apple Store with a port of one of my Android apps. On average there is still about two times as much money to be made on the apple store as compared to the google play store.

Apps are an interesting area, as some of the apps I put on the market were exceeding my expectations and most of the apps were underperforming from how they should have performed. I though that the time and money I invested in Reverse Video Magic would perform very well but it flopped on me. On the other side I had MP4 Video Converter was doing better than I could expect.


My current focus is on CPU Information which I would love to drive through a million downloads and more. Obviously I am very excited about the app and I am willing to spend time and resources in improving it. We shall see how far I can push this app along the way from a technical, marketing, ads, and social marketing point of view.

I would really like to develop another app which is backed by some sort of funny AI Chatbot. This is a project I have had in my head for the past decade or so. We shall see if I can put it all together on the backend. The apps itself will not be the problem. There are so many possible smaller or larger projects I have in mind that it would require a full time commitment from my side to provide all of them onto the app store.

My plan for this year is to do more on the Marketing and Social media front. I think if I can get this to the point where I earn enough organic downloads to replace most of my paid advertisement it could be very beneficial to my side hustle.

Screw Fiverr

As I mentioned before I got viciously removed from Fiverr for not breaking any Terms Of Service from either Fiverr or from any other company. The issue has left me be-dazzled as I was helpless in getting banned from a platform I have been using for years without any cause, just because Fiverr felt like it.
I hate companies which bully their customers and I am certain Fiverr will vanish if they continue doing this kind of random, self destroying thing, as they have been doing to many users before and certainly will do to many users after.

History is plastered with plenty of examples of companies ignoring or attacking their customers. None of those are around anymore.

Wow what the …

So 2018 is over and we are about to embark onto 2019. This year is going to be a great year. I feel it in my bones. I have a lot of things I want to accomplish this year. I am looking forward in looking back on 2019 and see all the things that will have happened by then.

Though let’s take it one step at a time and enjoy the journey from now to then.

Android Oreo’s CPU stats

I have been using Android phones for a long time now and have never really considered switching to an iOS device. I think that ever since Android version 4.x ( 3.0 was terrible ) the hardware and software selection was better than those offered by Apple. From there on, Android waas getting better by the release it seemed … or was it ?

Google has however started to remove features from the OS over the past few years which is starting to limit the apps which can be written for these devices.

The storage API is one example which started to slowly diminish over time and is getting to the point where you can no longer access external storage in a concise and manageable way.

With Oreo, google has again removed some functionality which was very useful. This time Google made it impossible to monitor, and report on the CPUs utilization of its cores or the overall CPU utilization.

New motto ???

All of /proc/stat has been disabled for non-System apps, as a side-channel. More information, with an official response from Google here: https://issuetracker.google.com/issues/37140047

While there is an API available to retrieve similar information, it is only available for kiosk-like devices and not enabled in a stock mobile device. Starting from API level 24:

HardwarePropertiesManager propertiesManager = (HardwarePropertiesManager)context.getSystemService(Context.HARDWARE_PROPERTIES_SERVICE);
CpuUsageInfo[] cpuUsages = propertiesManager.getCpuUsages();

But only system apps have access to this API, because only system apps can have android.permission.DEVICE_POWER permission, which is needed here.

So the developer, and the users are left out in the dark on what’s zapping the Phones battery, and you will never know when the cores got to 100% proactively but only when your phone slows down.

Please let me know if you have Oreo ( and above ) and you know of an app which does display the CPU stats for you.

D-Tube, video cryptonite

D-Tube is a distributed video platform based on Steem . Say what ???
Okay I can see the proverbial question marks popping off of your head. No worries, I am hear to help.

Lets  go through this one fancy term at a time.

Steem, Steemit, Steem-Dollars, Steem-Power


We all know Bitcoin or we have heard of it. That magical unicorn currency which created billionaires over night. And while a lot of what has happened in the past few months was mostly negative, such as the collapse of bitconnect, the underlying technology is sound and offers many new opportunities in the tech sector.

As bitcoin has eased off last years heights of over $19000,-US per bitcoin, it currently stands at around $3200,-US per bitcoin, the whole blockchain technology front is in search of providing value beyond the selling of dreams of digital currency backed by … well I leave that up to you to figure out …

Steem is a crypto currency which is in contrast to bitcoin is based off the. Here is a good rundown of what steem is. This article goes into steem vs steem-dollar vs steem-power.
Overall, steem solves a major problem in digital content creation. You can consider Steemit as similar to Reddit, where users can create and publish their content online and get rewarded for it. However, there is one major difference. it also rewards its users using cryptocurrency!

Oh and it is uncensored, decentralized and safe .. in theory.

D-Tube, the YouTube alternative

D-Tube was started by Adrian M  as an alternative to other digital content platforms such as YouTube. The whole concept is build around the steem cryptocurrency and as a creator you will be rewarded with Steem instead of US Dollars.

There is a lot to learn about Steem and D-Tube in the beginning but once you created your account with steemit you can go ahead and create contents and publish it on D-Tube without the fear that your video may be removed by a corporate working slave with a set agenda.

What’s more is that Steem will reward you for any kind of contents you create and publish on the Steemit platform. For example I am publishing this WordPress blog post on the Internet and also on Steemit to increase visibility, and potentially earn a few cents of Steem ( Dollars and Power ).

D-Tube app

‚Äč‚Äč 
The D-Tube app can be used to view videos in a very similar fashion as you would watch YouTube videos. However the functionality at this point in time is not much further advanced as creating a shortcut to the d.tube mobile friendly web page on your home screen. Both solutions allow you to get very similar functionality as YouTube’s video client.

From a technological point of view I think that both YouTube, and D-Tube are neck-to-neck and you will have no issues finding your way around the app.


Video Quality

Now I am not talking about the resolution, bitrate etc here. What I mean with quality is the contents of the video provided on the platform.

While it is true that you can earn money on D-TUbe, the ability to do so heavily depends on the Whale’s on Steem. In reality what you will realize is that while there is no censorship on steemit, there is an indirect censorship driven by the people with the most money ( Steem-Power ).

If you make a video which one of those whale-people likes, you stand to earn a lot of money. On the other hand, if you like to create contents about knitting or Java, there will be very little you can earn.

But on the positive side, just like YouTube, you can create your audience over time and if you are truly good at what you do and you do provide real value to — the community –, then you can grow your income as well over time and eventually become one of those whales yourself.

App vs web-page-shortcut

Android App
Android App
If you are thinking about installing the app or simply creating a web-page-shortcut, then either one will do the trick at this time. I am confident that over time there will be more advantages in choosing the app.

For not my recommendation though has to be to go to your mobile browser, navigate to https://d.tube, then find your settings and “Add to Homescreen”.
Web Page Shortcut
Web Page Shortcut


Creator vs Consumer

The answer is Yes ( or 42, depending on your leaning ). You have to check this out and decide for yourself if you like it. I found myself fascinated with the whole concept and given the proper circumstances, I can see this platform grow by leaps and bounds over the coming years.

YouTube killer … not quite yet. But if YouTube continues to disregard the smaller contributors and build more negative sentiment I have no doubt that a platform like D-Tube will give the multi billion $ behemoth a run for its money ( and future ).

Overall app rating : 3 stars out of 5.
Overall technology rating : 5 stars out of 5.
Overall honesty rating : 5 stars out of 5

Get it on Google Play

Revert Video Magic Video Android-app

After returning from vacation this year I wanted to edit and send some videos to my family which should highlight some of the more outstanding experiences in a funny but interesting way. The Revert Video Magic app for Android on the google play store was exactly what was needed for this job.

I was looking to take a piece of a video, and revert parts of it and then replace this part with a sequence of forward, backward, forward action all abound. Here is the resulting video to better explain the effect I was after.



I looked around but could only find one app on the google play market which would offer me this functionality. Revert Video Magic for Android

The below images are screenshots of the main screens for Revert Video Magic for Android

The Main Screen is where you select the source video from, that is you can either browse through the media library of your phone or you open a File Browser which allows you to browse the file system of your phone. You can even use your video camera and shoot the video from within the app.

Revert Video Magic Main Screen
Main Screen
Revert Video magic settings screen
Revert Video Settings screen
Revert Video Magic Share Screen
Share Screen

Once you have selected the source video you would like to use, you arrive at the settings page. The Revert Video Magic Settings page allows you to modify the resulting video resolution, the speed of the reverted part, as well as cutting the start and end points of the target video.

Once these settings are set, you will see the Post Processing screen of the revert Video Magic app. This page allows you to actually replace the selected part in-place of where the original video part was. None of the other revert video apps on the google play store do allow for this to happen.

Using the -SHARE- button on the top right corner of the Share screen will then allow you to finally send the video to your friends or share it on social media like YouTube, FaceBook etc.

This app is focused on doing one thing but doing it right. The built in video player, Camera functionality, File Browser, and Share functionality are all part of making reversing part of your video as much fun as the final video.

Feel free to download the app for free from the link below.

Get it on Google Play

Crypto Portfolio app

Keeping track of your overall Crypto Portfolio is not as straight forward as it should be. Investing into crypto currencies can leave you with multiple wallets and online resources. Each one may contain different coins and tokens for different purposes.

It is highly recommended to store all ( or as much as possible ) offline, detached from the internet. This way hackers won’t be able to get their fingers on your hard earned Bitcoins, Ethereum, etc.

I have started to look into Crypto currencies in early 2018 and I see great potential in the basic ideas behind the technologies. While my timing was especially bad I wanted to know what the fuzz was all about. The best way to understand things though is to start playing with them. So I did spend some time and money learning a new technology.

Shut up and take my money

Shut-up-and-take-my-money
Shut-up-and-take-my-money

You need to sign up with and exchange when you want to buy some coins or tokens in order to convert your dollars into a crypto-currency. With Coinbase being one of one most popular which people would recommend for n00bs.

Coinbase allows you to convert to deposit funds using your credit card or your bank account information. Paypal is no longer supported. You can then exchange your fiat currency ( I.e. Dollars, Euros etc. ) into Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Etherium, or Litecoin. Any other crypto currency requires you to sign up with another exchange of which there are many to choose from.

Coinmarketcap.com, and coincap.io provide you the information as to which exchange supports the crypto token you are interested in.

Binance is one of those larger exchanges which has received good online reviews and has supposedly the lowest transaction fees.

Getting your hands on some crypto coins or tokens also requires you to safely store them somewhere. Here we have probably one of the weakest points in this area. Every crypto-currency has their own way of storing the tokens. You can keep them on your computer, in an online wallet, in offline wallets or as a paper wallet. You will quickly arrive at a point where you can lose track of your virtual wealth ( or as we have seen recently, the decline thereof ).

Crypto Portfolio

So I wrote a Crypto Portfolio app which will allow you to enter your token amount and then look at the market data for it. I will not store this information on the server but instead store it in your browsers’ cache so you don’t have to fear releasing any data to my servers.

One thing I quickly realized is that almost everything you do in crypto will cost you either a fee or a transaction cost.

Binance fees

So yeah Binance has a 0.1% trading fee however one thing which you will not see right away is that you will not be able to convert all of one crypto token into another crypto token.

Binance will always leave you with some leftover on their platform. These may vary but my worst case leftover position is worth about US$1.00.

On top of that Binance also requires a minimum transaction for certain coins. E.g. you require at least US$97.181- ( as of Feb 2 2018 ) in Etherium before you can transfer it out of Binance.

Then you have to pay for the actual transaction fees which for Etherium ar 0.01ETH, which is … well about $9.71 as of this date.

Since Binance does not display this information in a useful way I went ahead and added this into a table in my little app which you can sort to gather some more information on trading conditions of a certain coin. [ Menu -> Utils -> Binance Fees ]

So you add this all up and you end up spending a lot of money in the whole exchange process.

If you exchange E.g. $100,- by the time it leaves Coinbase you are down to about $97,- Then you exchange it for ETH on Binance and send it back to your private wallet, you end up with only about $85,- worth of ETH.

This of course does not take into account the huge market swings, which could increase or decrease your position a few percentage points in the time it takes to go through the whole operation.

To sum it all up

First though I have to remind you that; yes it is possible to lose money, which is why you should never put in more than you can afford to lose.

This app is in its early stages and I will certainly add more features as time permits. Please feel free to check it out here …

Please leave me some feedback for enhancements if you find it useful. Or follow the link below to the source code, make changes yourself, and then send them to me for integration ūüôā

Resources

Graphing library used : NVD3 Re-usable charts for d3.js

If you click on the image below you can start using the app online from within my WebOS.
You can find it under [Start -> Utils -> Crypto ]. Note: This app does not send any data back to any server.

Feel you want to play with the code: follow the link to the Battlefield.

RIP TechShop

We do not have a TechShop in our area however anytime a space where makers meet and create, teach, and discover closes it is a setback to education, innovation and curiosity.

“We have grown from one location in Menlo Park to 10 locations across the US and 4 Internationally..”

About TechShop

Founded in October 2006, TechShop started as a membership-based, do-it-yourself (DIY) workshop and fabrication studio. Over a decade later, TechShop, Inc. grew into an international consulting company sharing it’s makerspace expertise with grade schools and fortune 500 companies alike.

TechShop offered consulting, market assessments, licensing options, curriculum, and various other managed services to economic development councils, libraries, non-profits and educational institutions, design firms and other makerspaces. TechShop encourages you to find a way to grow the maker movement in your community. It’s worth the effort.

TechShop-Makerspace

RIP TechShop

Yesterday TechShop suddenly filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection. TechShop is no more and its remaining assets will be sold off by the appointed Trustee.

Embrace

It hits home insofar as we have purchased one of the original Embrace bracelets for my son who has seizures. This device will send out an alarm when a seizure occurs to the connected phones. It was listed as one of the success stories coming out of the TechShop.

+200,000 infants reached
+13,000 health care workers trained
105 programs in 20 countries
A life-saving incubation blanket for babies. In 2008, a group of Stanford students sought to address high mortality rates among premature and low-birth-weight babies by designing a better incubator for the developing world. The invention, the Embrace infant warmer, was prototyped at TechShop San Francisco and is now saving thousands of lives worldwide.

Here is the link to the TechCrunch story about the demise of TechShop.

As I am still working on my Video Doorbell, I can use NOVA-Labs which is very close by. As of today, some Americans will no longer have the ability to roll down the road to get their inventions into reality.

It would be great if the likes of Amazon, Apple, Google would step up and sponsor these types of locations all around to keep the spark of innovation going.

With this bit of sad new I will go and start my Friday.