Weeknote 20 – Trails and Switches

A glimpse of the past week and the few things that captivated my attention:

With the kids at home, weather mostly good and the lock-down lifted we did venture out a bit and got a lot of hikes in this week. We obviously had all masks on and avoided crowded spaces. Also had this sudden realization that most of the hikes I was doing over the past few years in Baltimore were on the banks of the Patapsco river. Would be wonderful to plan a good long 15-20 miler one of these days. Should be a good recce for the half-marathon that I said I would organize for Meena, Nancy and Sharath next month!

Wonderful talk with Atchuth last night on servers and hosting content! On my end, I installed a small switch for my devices. Also ordered a 2TB external drive since the laptop that I backup my files on is slowly reaching full capacity.

Took appa out for a drive yesterday. His first outing in over three months now. I think it’s reasonably safe for him to head outdoors now. I do really want to take him to the Number nine trolley hike we did today.

I’m absolutely loving the share article feature on Wallabag (And also Selfoss). It helps me share articles with family and friends without the annoying ads while providing a link to the source. I totally understand that certain publishers need ads to produce quality journalism. What I am not comfortable with is, them using that to track me. In the links that I share below, most are linked to my wallabag instance‘s public share. If I refer to an individual’s blog post however, I’ll link directly to the source. The only downside to that is, people tend to move across CMS or blogging software and links get orphaned…

Interesting tools this week:

The /e/ Foundation: My next phone is most likely going to be running this OS.

Jpegoptim: Linux tools to compress images on a whim

Interesting podcasts this week:

Octomom: The octopus species that broods its eggs for close to five years!

Interesting reads this week:

What does your gaze reveal about you?: A ridiculous whole lot! Will have to get back to this later to explore more of the links. The amount of information that can be gleaned and analyzed is pretty intriguing. The age-old saying goes – ‘Eyes are the windows to a person’s soul’. Looks like we humans took a good note of that!

Go squat!: Something that’s so common-place in India (And several other countries)…It’s like coming back a full circle.

Would you want your tax dollars to be invested in Public-Private partnerships?: When it comes to a choice between investing in humans and investing in technology, I’d rather invest in humans. I understand why it’s a hard sell though…

Converting type A blood to type O: Applications for this are huge! Imagine not having to wait to find donors for a specific blood type.

Swiper, no swiping! Privacy.com relies on plaid, which was bought by Visa recently…The good old days of relying on cash ought to be back.

Number Nine Trolley Trail Hike

This trail has been on my lists in the AllTrails app and for whatever reason, we haven’t had a chance to explore it yet. Decided on a whim to head here this Sunday. By-far one of the best hikes in Baltimore!

The trail as such is a tarred path winding up Ellicot city with multiple streams on either side. We decided to veer off on one of the sub-trails (Red trail) for some quality time out in the woods. With a mild breeze and a looming cloud shower, Shasta slept through most of it. Definitely heading back here later with Appa!

GPX from Garmin Connect.


So far I had all the micro-servers in the home network connected either to a LAN port or to an Orbi Satellite. This week I implemented a simple 8 port un-managed TP-Link switch into my ‘homelab’. Costed just about 18 bucks with a price-match from amazon and it has tremendously improved upload/download speeds! Also it’s pretty cool to visually see that the RPi3B+ boards are being throttled at 10/100Mbps while the RPi4 is rummaging at 1000Mbps.

While at it, I re-purposed a few card-board boxes and built a bare bones stack. Ain’t pretty does absolutely does the job!

Optimizing images

My Samsung phone by default generates pretty high resolution pictures. Even with the most basic setting, captured images turn out to be ~3MB! I’m not a huge photo buff and don’t necessarily need such high clarity pictures which consume a lot of space. I recently came across two amazing utilities that help optimize images in Linux: jpegoptim and optipng

Install them via terminal:

sudo apt-get install jpegoptim
sudo apt-get install optipng 

And optimize away!

jpegoptim --size=1024k <file-name>.jpg

Be sure note to go minimalist ( ~ 125k – Like I did in a few of my recent posts), since that doesn’t quite do a lossless compression.

The utility can also be used to bulk optimize images which can be super useful!

Loch Raven Reservoir Hike

Well, not quite! The main trail was closed out for repairs so we ended up exploring the woods around the reservoir. We haven’t explored this section much, so it was good coming back here after a long time. Lot’s of bush-whacking and getting lost, which was good! Weather was very accommodating.