Latte-Dock 0.6.0 Tested

One of the facts about Linux that may not be very popular with some computing enthusiasts is that the mainstream Desktop Managers – ‘KDE’, ‘Plasma’, ‘Unity’, ‘GNOME’, ‘LXDE’, etc., are different from each other, are sometimes similar to a Windows-layout – especially KDE / Plasma – but are not very similar to a MacIntosh, OS/X layout. Yet, efforts have existed to create OS/X -like desktop managers for Linux, and one of the more recent projects is “Latte-Dock“.

What makes Latte-Dock different from otherwise similar projects such as “Cairo-Dock”, is that Latte-Dock assumes that we have Plasma installed, which must be of at least version 5.8, and does not conflict with the fact that we do. And the fact that my Debian / Stretch computer, which I name ‘Phosphene’, is not even a Ubuntu computer, did not prevent me from installing Latte-Dock 0.6.0. Latte-Dock does not start unless the user starts it, and the way I go about testing such software is, that I create additional users on the computer in question, as if I was going to allow a guest to share my computer, so that in the user-space of the additional accounts, personal settings can activate Latte-Dock.

One of the ways in which Debian, Plasma 5 -based computers are strong, is in allowing the user to create more than one graphical log-in, to more than one virtual session, between which we can switch by clicking <Ctrl>+<Alt>+<F8>, or, back to the first virtual session, with <Ctrl>+<Alt>+<F7>… So my auxiliary user-identity is installed with this desktop manager, that’s designed to be similar to OS/X, at least in its appearance.


I think that this is nice software, with two major flaws:

  1. On ‘Phosphene’, if I select the settings either to Preview Windows (of open applications, as the mouse passes over the dock-icons), or to Highlight those windows, these settings cause the Dock to die. This is not tragic, because when running Latte-Dock, we still have at least one Plasma-Panel active, along the top of the screen, from which we can still choose applications to run, or from which we can drag application-icons to the Dock. This means that when the Dock has in fact crashed, I can simply have a Favourite Application -icon ready, to restart it. But the down-side with this could be, that it makes the application look bad, when in fact the culprit just seems to be, the fact that my graphics card is not strong enough to display these previewed or highlighted windows. And Latte-Dock is extremely GPU-intensive.
  2. With Plasma 5.8 as the limiting factor, there appears to be no way to get a Global Application Menu working. Such applets do exist as software-projects for higher versions of Plasma than 5.8, but it cannot seem to be achieved for version 5.8 . So the OS/X experience is not 100% complete.

But if I respect these two limitations, that may not even be the fault of the Devs, I find this to be an interesting and stable piece of software.



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Power Failure, Downtime.

I take the unusual approach of hosting my Web-site and my blog, on my PC at home. I’m not suggesting that everybody do it this way. This is just how I do it. But the unfortunate consequence of that is, that my site and blog are only visible to the Internet, as long as my PC is up and running, and as long as my own Internet connection is stable.

This morning (March 15, 2019), while I was away, there was a power failure which literally lasted from 11h05 until 11h10 – according to my own log files. This means that the power in my home was out for maximally 5 minutes.

But, I only came back from my daily activities around 17h00. Therefore, with nobody at home to reboot my computer, the blog was offline for the duration, until 17h15.

I apologize for any inconvenience to my readers.



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Caveats when using ‘avidemux’ (under Linux).

One of the applications available under Linux, that can help edit video / audio streams, and that has been popular for many years – if not decades – is called ‘avidemux’. But in recent years the subject has become questionable, of whether this GUI- and command-line- based application is still useful.

One of the rather opaque questions surrounding its main use, is simply highlighted in The official usage WiKi for Avidemux. The task can befall a Linux user, that he either wants to split off the audio track from a video / audio stream, or that he wants to give the stream a new audio track. What the user is expected to do is to navigate to the Menu entries ‘Audio -> Save Audio’, or to ‘Audio -> Select Track’, respectively.





What makes the usage of the GUI not straightforward is what the manual entries next state, and what my personal experiments confirm:

  • External Audio can only be added from ‘AC3′, ‘MP3′, or ‘WAV’ streams by default,
  • The audio track that gets Saved cannot be played back, if In the format of an ‘OGG Vorbis’, an ‘OGG Opus’, or an ‘AAC’ track, as such exported audio tracks lack any header information, which playback apps would need, to be able to play them. In those cases specifically, only the raw bit-stream is saved.

The first problem with this sort of application is that the user needs to perform a memorization exercise, about which non-matching formats he may or may not, Export To or Import From. I don’t like to have to memorize meaningless details, about every GUI-application I have, and in this case the details can only be read through detailed research on the Web. They are not hinted at anywhere within the application.

(Updated 3/23/2019, 15h35 … )

Continue reading Caveats when using ‘avidemux’ (under Linux).

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Reducing Induction Effects, Counter-EMF, and Stray Voltages in Low-Voltage Communication Wires.

One of the observations which amaze older people like me, is how high the frequencies have become, at which even household appliances such as USB Cables can communicate. In my youth and young adulthood, such things would not have been considered possible. And the surprise which this progress brings, comes more strongly to older people, who actually did know about Electronics.

There is a basic enemy to allowing communication at high speeds: Plain wire has linear inductance, which becomes significant at the higher speeds.

There is a basic methodology to reducing the unwanted effect: Actual signal-wires are often accompanied by a shield wire, which needs to be grounded or connected to zero, at both ends of a wire bundle.

The concept is quite simple. This shield wire acts as a kind of secondary winding, to a virtual transformer, of which the signal wire would be the primary winding. Whatever counter-EMF the signal wire would produce, would also need to exist along the length of the shield wire. But because the shield wire is grounded at both ends, the counter-EMF which the signal wire can produce is also greatly reduced, in comparison with what one would obtain, if the signal wire existed by itself. When current flows in one direction through the signal-wire, current also flows in the opposite direction through the shield wire. If that current could not flow, then the full linear inductance of the signal wire would seem to exist. Otherwise, not so.

Now I suppose that it would be nice if overhead wires that stretch geographical distances, could also be shielded as easily. But one fact which is highly disappointing is, that shielding / elimination of stray-power problems, is highly lacking in many practical situations. More specifically, power lines may often only seem to have real phase wires, but no neutral wire that runs parallel. Instead, what some Engineers do, is simply to sink a grounding electrode into the earth, at the receiving end of such an arrangement.

The problem with that is the fact, that Earth is not a perfect conductor, and was also never ‘meant to’ participate in Humans’ high-voltage circuitry.

(Updated 3/12/2019, 15h20 … )

Continue reading Reducing Induction Effects, Counter-EMF, and Stray Voltages in Low-Voltage Communication Wires.

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