Weekday Readings – Aug 24, 2022

  • What is Podman? The container engine replacing Docker. Podman is a container engine—a tool for developing, managing, and running containers and container images. Containers are standardized, self-contained software packages that hold all the elements necessary to run anywhere without the need for customization, including application code and supporting libraries.  (InfoWorld)
  • The strange case of Nakamoto’s bitcoin – Part 1. As Bitcoin, and cryptocurrencies in general, claim to be investments, yet have no underlying sources of revenue, many have viewed them with suspicion. Some argue that Bitcoin is a Ponzi, while others counter that the comparison is erroneous as it shares traits with a pyramid scheme. Surprisingly, despite intense scrutiny, Bitcoin has defied precise categorization as a specific form of investment fraud, leading some proponents to suggest that, as a result, it should be cleared of all charges, “If it looks like a duck, buthonks like a goose, then it can’t be either”. (Salbayat-Blog)
  • Google tried to prove managers don’t matter. Instead, it discovered 10 traits of the very best ones. The hypothesis was that the quality of a manager doesn’t matter and that managers are at best a necessary evil, and at worst a useless layer of bureaucracy. The early work of Project Oxygen, in 2002, included a radical experiment — a move to a flat organization without any managers. The experiment was a disaster, lasting only a few months as the search giant found employees were left without direction and guidance on their most basic questions and needs. (Inc.com)
  • Big Tech braces for “big lie” in 2022 midterms. Tech companies were caught flat-footed by the deluge of disinformation aimed at delegitimizing the election process and outcome in 2020. Now, amid intense regulatory scrutiny, they are trying to get ahead of a repeat.(Axios)
  • You have no idea how good mosquitoes are at smelling us. Their recent work shows that mosquitoes’ odor-detecting systems are, unlike many other animals’, patchwork, chaotic, and riddled with fail-safes that make the insects’ sense of smell extraordinarily difficult to stump. It’s an essential adaptation for a creature that is hyper-focused on us. (The Atlantic)

Last Updated on August 25, 2022 by SK

Headless Plex Client using HiFiBerry and Raspberry Pi 3

Plex media server is a great way to manage personal media collection (mp3 music, family videos and photos). I’ve been using Plex Media Server running in a Synology NAS for quite sometime to manage a sizeable collection of music, videos and photos.

I stream my personal collection, especially some of my favorite Indian musicians through the living room stereo and bedroom stereo (powered by a Class T Amplifier (Trends Audio Class-T TA 10.1) connected to a pair of Axiom speakers). This stereo system was running “Rasplex” for quite sometime on a Raspberry Pi with HifiBerry DAC+ Pro board, but lately been experiencing issues and bugs that’s been frustrating. And was looking for various alternatives that’ll seamlessly work with Plex to stream audio to my stereo. Recently, stumbled across a project promoted/implemented by Plex CTO to run PlexAmp run in Raspberry Pi.

This guide shows how I setup a headless PlexAmp using the latest build from Plex.


HifiBerry Board

Install Ubuntu Server in Raspberry Pi

  • Install Ubuntu 11 (bullseye) in server mode, no graphical display.
    • Follow the steps in this page to install Ubuntu Server in Raspberry Pi 3 (Link) or here .
  • install ssh server in the ubuntu server.
    • sudo apt-get install openssh-server
    • and enable it by running following (so that ssh server will start when the system reboots):
      • sudo systemctl enable –now ssh

Configure and Enable HifiBerry Board

  • Follow instructions here to configure and enable Hifiberry board in ubuntu.
    • Hifiberry drivers are already included in the Linux Kernel for Raspberry Pi OS. So you just need to follow the instructions below.
    • vi /boot/config.txt file
      • comment out “dtparam=audio=on” line (Basically put a “#” in front of the line)
      • add audio=off to the “Enable DRM VC4 V3D driver” section
        • “dtoverlay=vc4-kms-v3d, audio=off” (I guess, this disables built-in driver!)
      • add following lines  to the same file.
        • dtoverlay=hifiberry-dacplus
        • force_eeprom_read=0
  • Then created /etc/asound.conf file with following:
                   pcm.!default {
                      type hw card 0
                   ctl.!default {
                      type hw card 0
  • Reboot “reboot”
  • run “aplay -l”
    • You should see following output:
    • card 0: sndrpihifiberry….

Install PlexAmp

Now that we’ve installed OS and HifiBerry is enabled and configured, next step is to install and enable PlexAmp client. As far I can tell, there is no guide to cleanly install and debug the client. I believe this software is still actively developed, but I was able to get it working with simple tweaks. Following is what I did:

  • To install PlexAmp (In server mode with no graphics) I followed instructions here.
  • first install nodejs server
    • sudo apt install nodejs
  • Download latest headless PlexAmp client for Raspberry Pi
  • Untar the file
    • tar -xvf Plexamp….tar.bz2
  • Go to “plexamp” directory
    • cd plexamp
  • Now run the node webserver
    • node js/index.js
    • Above step will start the PlexAmp client scripts that are part of the nodejs server.
  • At this point make sure you can see the “Raspberry PI” (screenshot below) in your iPhone or Android Plex client.
Check to make sure “hifiberry” shows up in the clients.
  • Once you confirm the PlexAmp client shows up in the iPhone app, you know the install and configuration is successful.
  • Next step is to make sure the PlexAmp client starts automatically when Raspberry OS bootsup. For doing that, you need to run PlexaAmp as a service.

sudo cp plexamp.service /lib/systemd/system/
sudo systemctl daemon-reload 
sudo systemctl enable plexamp
sudo systemctl start plexamp

That’s it.. you should be able to stream audio from your Plex app in iPhone, select PlexAmp as the client to play audio through your home stereo!. Enjoy.

If you are curious.. here is my setup:

Last Updated on August 25, 2022 by SK

Weekend Readings – Aug 21,2022

  • A frustrating hassle holding electric cars back: Broken Chargers. This definitely happened to me personally. Can’t reliably identify working chargers to charge my Nissan Leaf. It surely is frustrating to drive to a remote location using the apps provided by charging networks and find that the charging station either doesn’t work, and in worst case the entire charging station is “sold” to a new charging company. (NYT)
  • Drinking the kool-Air (How billions were lost creating PDAs). Why did so many invest so much money and time into the development of PDAs?  It’s a fascinating question.  Besides the key notion of portability, computers were considered to difficult to use, which restricted the size of the market.  The PDA was meant to be as easy to use as paper but as powerful as a computer; humans would interact with the device through a pen on a small screen. Handwriting was considered a more natural way to interact especially because so few actually knew how to type.(Two Thirds Done – Blog)
  • The Mysterious Dance of the Cricket Embryos. Humans, frogs and many other widely studied animals start as a single cell that immediately divides again and again into separate cells. In crickets and most other insects, initially just the cell nucleus divides, forming many nuclei that travel throughout the shared cytoplasm and only later form cellular membranes of their own. (NYT)
  • How do I become data scientist? Our educational institutions trained us to think that’s how you learn things. It might eventually work, too — but it’s a unnecessarily inefficient process. Some programs have capstone projects (often using curated, clean data sets with a clear purpose, which sounds good but it’s not). Many recognize there’s no substitute for ‘learning on the job’ — but how do you get that data science job in the first place? (Monica Rogati)
  • The coming California Megastorm. Unlike a giant earthquake, the other “Big One” threatening California, an atmospheric river superstorm will not sneak up on the state. Forecasters can now spot incoming atmospheric rivers five days to a week in advance, though they don’t always know exactly where they’ll hit or how intense they’ll be. (NYT)

Last Updated on August 21, 2022 by SK