Denshi's Blog Entries

Updates: Switching to Codeberg, plans for future videos

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I recently moved all of my repositories from my GitLab to a different git hosting site, Codeberg. I had known about the various existing git hosting sites, such as Sourcehut and various Cgit instances for a while, but I spent too long looking for a site that compromised common-sense privacy and anti-bloat defaults and popularity and usability, only to find Codeberg fits most of the requirements I needed.

My repos (as of now)

I only have two important repositories on my Codeberg:

Site

This is the repository where the source code to this website is stored. The reason I feel it really necessary to share this publically is so people can use my modified version of lb, which corrects the links in the RSS feed, gets rid of the rolling blog page and adds a "reply-to" link at the bottom of every article.

Dots

This is the repository where I store all my dotfiles. This includes some basic configs for some programs and my custom builds of dwm and st.

On my videos

As of recently, I've become more focused on making videos about Linux and technology. Despite this recent upturn in Linux videos, I want to make it perfectly clear that I continue to have no specific topic or direction to my channel. I want to make videos people like and want to watch; Whether they are pragmatically useful, like Linux/tech guides, or simply entertaining, doesn't change the fact that they're videos I want to make. So, just to make things clear, I will continue to make fun, well-edited and long videos from time to time.

Fri, 03 Dec 2021 19:40:20 +0400

cvrt: FFMPEG, made slightly easier

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If you've been using Linux for a few days now, you're probably already aware of the swiss-army knife of media conversion and compression: FFMPEG. It's often pre-installed on most Linux distros, and it offers a simple command-line way of converting between all (most) media formats.

However, despite its compatibility and ubiquity, I've always felt FFMPEG doesn't do enough to handle repetitive, batch-like conversions using regular expressions. For example: imagine you had a file full of mp4 files, and you wanted to convert each of them to mov. With cvrt, you can run the following command:

cvrt *.mp4 mov

All this script does is take two arguments: the input files (*.mp4), and the last argument passed, which is the output format/file (mov). Another useful feature of cvrt is the fact you can specify cases for outputs. For example: if I wanted each mov file to be in a specific audio and video codec (ie. for DaVinci Resolve), then you can specify it in the script:

# Exception options for specific formats
case "$ext" in
*flac) OPT=$OPT:" -vn" ;;
*mov) OPT=$OPT:" -c:v mpeg4 -q:v 0 -pix_fmt yuv420p -c:a pcm_s16le" ;;
*mp4) OPT=$OPT:" -c:v libx264 -crf 21 -c:a libopus -b:a 320k" ;;
esac

In this case, there are cases for flac, mov and mp4 output files, to ensure the resulting files always come out with specific codecs, using FFMPEG flags.

Download cvrt from my dotfiles.

*the script is still a WIP, not every bug has been fixed yet. If you have any suggestions, feel free to contact me or open an issue on GitLab! Mon, 22 Nov 2021 08:29:06 +0400

Archiving some older videos

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Sometimes I take down videos from my channel. It's normally for a combination of reasons, but what it really waters down to is that I don't think those videos leave an accurate impression to new viewers. Here's a list of reasons I may want to take down a video:

Every time I take down a video, I instantly upload it to my backup channel, DenshiBackup (YouTube link). This is because while I don't want to make my videos lost media! I'm sure that basically no one cares much for any of my videos, especially my older ones, but they have sentimental value to me (yes, even the garbage ones) so I keep them there for myself and anyone else who is interested.

This time however, it's a little different

I know that most people reading this blog are unaware of my time spent as the editor for the MLAATR Fanbase YouTube channel. I only ever edited 4 videos for them, but after editing the second video for them, I joined their Discord server. I won't bother recalling the story of what happened there, because there's already a great article on the DenshiWiki.

We do a little "trolling"

Long story short, there were quite a few grievances (and a lot of autistic behavior on my part) relating to the MLAATR Fanbase and its members/leadership. I was banned 3 times from that chat server, and the controversy would inspire me and The Official Uno (and a few other people, like Rabbit and Yeokii) to embark on a trolling journey. We made an alt account named "NebUla"; She joined the server, impersonated by Uno, and chaos ensued in the coming days.

To document the happenings, Uno recorded and edited a video with my help named "๐Œ๐ฒ ๐ฅ๐ข๐Ÿ๐ž ๐ข๐ง ๐ญ๐ก๐ž ๐™ˆ๐™‡๐˜ผ๐˜ผ๐™๐™ ๐”ป๐•š๐•ค๐•”๐• ๐•ฃ๐•• (Feat. TheOfficialUno and Yeokii)".I'm ashamed of this video. Not because of its writing, production quality or editing (Uno did the editing, and he actually knows what he's doing), but because of a few factors that make it very embarrassing:

The "Silent interview"

For a very large portion of the video, I interview someone named SilentDrift. This interview is the most commonly criticized aspect of the video, and it's the part I was considering cutting before uploading it. With time, my grief regarding this interview has only grown; I asked overly provocative questions, I asked for unnecessary details and incentivized Silent to give anti-fanbase answers because I was an autistic little idiot.

NebUla as a whole

I won't deny that NebUla was fun. Uno, Rabbit, even Yeokii would admit this; the memes were fun to make, it was fun to mess with people. But it was really stupid too. To be honest, the most impressive part of the video is the "social engineering" we did to get around the MLAATR Fanbase's sophisticated anti-alt measures (Checking whether you have an account on other platforms). It wasn't hard or impressive at all really, but at least it was something. Overall, it was kind of a waste of time.

It wasn't all bad!

The conclusion is beautiful. Uno's narration and the script are beautiful. Constructive criticism is given to the fanbase, and it's a non-aggressive end to what was an awful video. So I'm still proud of Uno for pulling that off.

I'm taking the video down.

After some consideration, and some time spent rethinking my channel and its videos, I've decided to take the video down. I'm archiving all the comments on Archive.org, and the video is archived on DenshiBackup.

Other things I've taken down

Besides the MLAATR video, I archived a few older playlists from my channel onto DenshiBackup. Here's a comprehensive list of them, giving a short summary for each one.

Zoomer Rants in Home

This was a rant series, with a title inspired from Luke Smith's "Boomer Rants in Woods" playlist. Despite the title however, few of these videos were actually made in my house; Many of them I recorded in my garage, in the garden or walking outside. I used to record a whole lot with my phone back then, so it only made sense to me to record some thoughts and rants from time to time. This series is archived on DenshiBackup.

Musical Mondays

Feeling quite musically inspired and re-invigorated by the later months of 2020, I started a series where I covered a new song I made every Monday. This lasted all of 5 days until I gave up. It's all archived on DenshiBackup

DenshiDays

Right when the COVID pandemic hit, and our school closed down for two weeks, I dared myself to make a video everyday for a week straight. This manifested itself in the form of a garbage compilation of ultimate failure. I've archived the whole series for your viewing pleasure, and taken down the original videos from my channel.

"Just Play" Games

"Just Play" Games was a spin on the "Just Use" Software series, but with games instead of software. As you'd expect, this died very, very quickly just like my interest in video games. I also archived it.

Conclusion

I don't like taking videos down. I really don't. But I think for the long-term sustainability of my channel (and my web presence in general), it's important to manage what people see when they come to my channel. The Zoomer Rant Videos, the Musical Mondays, and the MLAATR Fanbase video are all things that don't represent who I am anymore, but more importantly, they leave an inaccurate impression on new viewers about what my channel is about. My channel is not about bullying, rants or trolling. It's about technology, learning, humor and internet history.

Sat, 16 Oct 2021 17:33:26 +0400

Some self-hosting updates

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I've been working the last few weeks on some additions to my self-hosting cabal of software; I'm happy to present these changes in today's post.

XMPP Server!

This is old news, but I have an XMPP server! (denshi.org) I'm there and, in addition to having some public multi-user chats, these chats are bridged over to the Matrix and Discord thanks to Matterbridge. Here are the chats:

The XMPP server is open to registrations, so if you've been meaning to try out XMPP, here's your chance to get an account through in-band registration. Just make sure to encrypt your messages, or I'll spy on your Catholic conversations with your girlfriend!

But with this XMPP announcement out of the way, it's time for some long overdue ranting...

Special: Rant-of-the-week

It's absolutely no secret that I love self-hosting. But something that has been bothering me for a while about the modern self-hosting world is people's obsessions with over-complicating everything. At first I just thought I was stupid, and I didn't have the knowledge or Reddit karma from my intellectualยฎยฎ and quaint takes from r/atheism, but soon I realized that what a lot of people wanted to replicate with their homeserver or VPS was a similar experience to existing, centralized services ran by tech monopolies.

Uhm, you do know you're free now, right?

The first thing I thought when I leaned more about self-hosting wasn't "hm, how will I build my own Google?", it was more along the lines of "how often will I actually have to use this thing?". Setting up alternatives to social media, web password managers, web cloud storage, collaborative document editing and other Silicon Valley-esque products wasn't as interesting to me as exploring the completely new and fascinating world of setting up a personal website, email server and federated chat server. While I still did try to use bloated web "apps" like Nextcloud, I soon realized these were very overkill for any kind of cloud storage I needed and I simply stuck to using Syncthing and Rsync. Self-hosting isn't about replacing everything you already had with self-hosted versions, it's about changing the way one looks at their internet and bandwidth usage. Not to mention that software like Nextcloud has essentially become a corporate product. Yes, it's still "free/libre software", but it's so incredibly slow and painful to setup as an individual, which is a very common characteristic of business/corporate software.

More to the point, when I say "changing the way one looks at their internet and bandwidth usage", I mean coming to the realization that so many of the things people tend to use the web for nowadays (document editing, password storage, even web chat clients) can be done locally on your machine. In some sense, running something on a server is only done when that thing was made for a server-client paradigm. This is why I'm not so favorable towards these distributed/"web3" crypto networks that would let all clients act as servers. A chat server should not be distributed among various clients! However, things like using a local password manager and writing documents locally on your computers are no-nonsense basics that I would expect people to be doing. New self-hosters want to re-build the cage built by Google and Microsoft with their homeserver, when realistically you don't need any server to have a similar (or better) experience.

Complexity of Server software

This is where stuff gets spicier. The Matrix "Synapse" server software is bloated. Sure, Matrix-org has an upcoming "next-gen" homeserver named "Dendrite" which is more efficient and written in Go, but this doesn't solve the inherit issue that it takes a corporation to write a server software nowadays. The Matrix protocol is very complex and unorthodox, which means that independent developers looking to develop a server software for it are looking at a large amount of work and testing. Also, the Matrix spec is constantly undergoing changes and new additions, which means most homeservers will likely run the de-facto "official" server software (matrix-synapse) which is a bloated, python mess.

XMPP to the Rescue!(?)

XMPP by contrast is another decentralized chat protocol that is far simpler to write for due to its straight-forward usage of XML files. I know lots of prominent Linux YouTubers have promoted it as an alternative to Matrix, so I'll make something perfectly clear: XMPP. Is. Not. Matrix. Matrix is a fundamentally different (and admittedly overly complex) protocol that has very different defaults than XMPP. While both protocols are highly extensible, I think it'd be unlikely to see XMPP reach the usability and feature list of something like Discord, at least not outside of closed, single-server deployments.

In summary, XMPP is better than Matrix for those who are worried about the long-term sustainability and future of such a complex protocol (Matrix) and wish for a more "universal" and KISS-like standard (XMPP)

Tue, 12 Oct 2021 20:01:10 +0400

Guide to GCSE and A-Level

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Whenever I talk to my younger siblings and their friends about their future in school, I often see a lot of confusion regarding the current educational and examination systems. In this article, I will list and summarize the most common British qualifications, alongside some editorial paragraphs giving my opinion on each one.

(I)GCSE

Summary

The (International) General Certificate of Secondary Education is a qualification standard introduced in the UK in 1988. (The "International" GCSE is essentially the same system, but with some content cut for international audiences.) The (I)GCSE has a set of core subjects which are mandatory to complete; one of these is Humanities, for which you can pick between History or Geography. Alongside this, many schools will have 2-3 more mandatory subjects that you can pick from the vast (I)GCSE options.

Note on Languages

The most common languages schools offer will be Spanish, French, German and Mandarin. However, there are GCSE qualifications for many, many other languages, such as Italian, Modern Greek, Japanese, Polish, Portugese and a few more, and schools may offer these as extra-curricular activities rather than in the form of school day lessons. For example, I got an Italian GCSE qualification by doing classes after school and taking the exam in the school's examination facility.

Further Mathematics

The (I)GCSE Mathematics course can optionally be squeezed into 2 years to allow students to complete the Further Mathematics course in the last year of (I)GCSE. This course can be very intensive but it does prepare students really well for IB and A-Level Math courses, so only pick this option if you really love Maths!

Triple and Double Science

Some schools offerring the (I)GCSE Science courses may let you qualify with a triple or a double science award. A double science award (Contrary to what it may sound like) still has you study all 3 sciences, however some content is cut from the syllabus. This extra content is only covered by students completing the triple award. Think of the double award as an intermediate science course, and the triple award as an advanced science course.

Core Subjects (Mandatory):

  • English
  • Mathematics
  • Science (Either "triple" or "double award")
  • Language
  • History and/or Geography

Commonly Available Option Subjects (2-3 are often mandatory):

    Sciences:

  • Statistics
  • Computer Science
  • Psychology
  • Economics
  • Business Studies
  • Physical Education (Poor man's Biology)
  • D&T:

  • Food and Nutrition
  • Design and Technology
  • Engineering
  • Art:

  • Music
  • Art and Design
  • Dance
  • Drama
  • Photography

Resources

For (I)GCSE Mathematics and Further Mathematics, I highly recommend any of the Casio FX-9X series of non-graphing calculators. Their build quality is excellent, they are solar-powered and can do pretty much everything you need for all (I)GCSE maths courses.

Recommendations

The subjects I took for my GCSEs are English, Mathematics, Further Mathematics, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Statistics, Economics, Computer Science and French. I also completed the afformentioned Italian GCSE. The only subject out of these that I strongly recommend to students is GCSE Statistics. Statistics is extremily useful if you plan to pursue any remotely scientific subject. It is quintessential to the study of Psychology, the 3 sciences, and any applied Mathematics course.

(I)A-Level

The (International) Advanced Level is another UK qualification like the GCSE, except it's what's known as a Level 3 qualification. This means it's the course Universities and Colleges are concerned about when they consider candidates. It was introduced all the way back in 1951, making it far more established than the younger GCSE system. Because of this longevity, the A-Levels vary all across the world, with various countries (Such as Hong Kong, Singapore and Mauritius) including A-levels as part of their high-school diplomas.

The Magic of A-Level

Unlike (I)GCSE, which has a mandatory set of "core" subjects, A-Level has no course requirements. They are purely qualifications in any field you like. This means most schools will often require students to complete 3-4 A-Levels of their choosing in any subjects, giving the student complete free reign on the fields they wish to explore.

This unrivaled level of flexibility in terms of subject choice lends itself well to the intensivity of the courses, meaning that any A-Levels you choose should be for subjects you (really) like! If you're going to be doing only 3-4 subjects for 2 years, they better be good ones.

AS-Levels

While the overall qualification system is called "A-Level", the qualifications themselves are split into 2 categories: A-Levels and AS-Levels. A-Levels are 2-year courses that are graded from a U (insufficient) to A* (distinction), while AS-Levels only last a year and are graded U to A. Many schools will offer you 3 A-Levels and 1 AS-Level course, meaning you only study the AS-Level subject for a year. While every A-Level is a 2-year course, the AS-Levels are just the first year of content, and then a test.

Modular VS. Linear Courses

Depending on your school and exam board, you may be offered modular A-Levels. These often come in the form of the sciences, such as modular Physics or Biology. All modular means is that you will be taking exams on each individual subject module, instead of on all the course content at the end of the year. So if you study module 1 for Biology, you will sit a test for that module, and then move on with your life. This is opposed to sitting a test with that content and sitting on it for a year until the final exam.

However, please do note that most schools and exam boards are transitioning towards linear A-Levels, meaning modular courses are going to be on their way out soon.

Commonly Available Subjects:

Resources

If you're doing A-Level mathematics, then the calculator I talked about in the GCSE resources section (Any Casio FX-9X series scientific calculator) should be fine. However, if you're doing A-Level further mathematics, you may be interested in purchasing a more advanced graphing calculator such as the Casio PRIZM FX-CG50. While expensive at upwards of 80$, these are still a far better deal than the atrocious Texas Instruments calculators.

Recommendations (Not)

I'd be remiss if I gave recommendations about the A-Levels to choose. The whole point of the A-Levels is to give the power and flexibility to the student. With that said however, I do recommend you do any and all subjects required (or recommended) for a specific university or college course you wish to apply to.

Mon, 04 Oct 2021 15:01:42 +0400

Commonly Available Option Subjects (2-3 are often mandatory):

Resources

For (I)GCSE Mathematics and Further Mathematics, I highly recommend any of the Casio FX-9X series of non-graphing calculators. Their build quality is excellent, they are solar-powered and can do pretty much everything you need for all (I)GCSE maths courses.

Recommendations

The subjects I took for my GCSEs are English, Mathematics, Further Mathematics, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Statistics, Economics, Computer Science and French. I also completed the afformentioned Italian GCSE. The only subject out of these that I strongly recommend to students is GCSE Statistics. Statistics is extremily useful if you plan to pursue any remotely scientific subject. It is quintessential to the study of Psychology, the 3 sciences, and any applied Mathematics course.

(I)A-Level

The (International) Advanced Level is another UK qualification like the GCSE, except it's what's known as a Level 3 qualification. This means it's the course Universities and Colleges are concerned about when they consider candidates. It was introduced all the way back in 1951, making it far more established than the younger GCSE system. Because of this longevity, the A-Levels vary all across the world, with various countries (Such as Hong Kong, Singapore and Mauritius) including A-levels as part of their high-school diplomas.

The Magic of A-Level

Unlike (I)GCSE, which has a mandatory set of "core" subjects, A-Level has no course requirements. They are purely qualifications in any field you like. This means most schools will often require students to complete 3-4 A-Levels of their choosing in any subjects, giving the student complete free reign on the fields they wish to explore.

This unrivaled level of flexibility in terms of subject choice lends itself well to the intensivity of the courses, meaning that any A-Levels you choose should be for subjects you (really) like! If you're going to be doing only 3-4 subjects for 2 years, they better be good ones.

AS-Levels

While the overall qualification system is called "A-Level", the qualifications themselves are split into 2 categories: A-Levels and AS-Levels. A-Levels are 2-year courses that are graded from a U (insufficient) to A* (distinction), while AS-Levels only last a year and are graded U to A. Many schools will offer you 3 A-Levels and 1 AS-Level course, meaning you only study the AS-Level subject for a year. While every A-Level is a 2-year course, the AS-Levels are just the first year of content, and then a test.

Modular VS. Linear Courses

Depending on your school and exam board, you may be offered modular A-Levels. These often come in the form of the sciences, such as modular Physics or Biology. All modular means is that you will be taking exams on each individual subject module, instead of on all the course content at the end of the year. So if you study module 1 for Biology, you will sit a test for that module, and then move on with your life. This is opposed to sitting a test with that content and sitting on it for a year until the final exam.

However, please do note that most schools and exam boards are transitioning towards linear A-Levels, meaning modular courses are going to be on their way out soon.

Commonly Available Subjects:

Resources

If you're doing A-Level mathematics, then the calculator I talked about in the GCSE resources section (Any Casio FX-9X series scientific calculator) should be fine. However, if you're doing A-Level further mathematics, you may be interested in purchasing a more advanced graphing calculator such as the Casio PRIZM FX-CG50. While expensive at upwards of 80$, these are still a far better deal than the atrocious Texas Instruments calculators.

Recommendations (Not)

I'd be remiss if I gave recommendations about the A-Levels to choose. The whole point of the A-Levels is to give the power and flexibility to the student. With that said however, I do recommend you do any and all subjects required (or recommended) for a specific university or college course you wish to apply to.

Sun, 03 Oct 2021 16:53:27 +0400

Option Subjects (2-3 are often mandatory):

Resources

For (I)GCSE Mathematics and Further Mathematics, I highly recommend any of the Casio FX-9X series of non-graphing calculators. Their build quality is excellent, they are solar-powered and can do pretty much everything you need for all (I)GCSE maths courses.

Recommendations

The subjects I took for my GCSEs are English, Mathematics, Further Mathematics, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Statistics, Economics, Computer Science and French. I also completed the afformentioned Italian GCSE. The only subject out of these that I strongly recommend to students is GCSE Statistics. Statistics is extremily useful if you plan to pursue any remotely scientific subject. It is quintessential to the study of Psychology, the 3 sciences, and any applied Mathematics course.

(I)A-Level

The (International) Advanced Level is another UK qualification like the GCSE, except it's what's known as a Level 3 qualification. This means it's the course Universities and Colleges are concerned about when they consider candidates. It was introduced all the way back in 1951, making it far more established than the younger GCSE system. Because of this longevity, the A-Levels vary all across the world, with various countries (Such as Hong Kong, Singapore and Mauritius) including A-levels as part of their high-school diplomas.

The Magic of A-Level

Unlike (I)GCSE, which has a mandatory set of "core" subjects, A-Level has no course requirements. They are purely qualifications in any field you like. This means most schools will often require students to complete 3-4 A-Levels of their choosing in any subjects, giving the student complete free reign on the fields they wish to explore.

This unrivaled level of flexibility in terms of subject choice lends itself well to the intensivity of the courses, meaning that any A-Levels you choose should be for subjects you (really) like! If you're going to be doing only 3-4 subjects for 2 years, they better be good ones.

AS-Levels

While the overall qualification system is called "A-Level", the qualifications themselves are split into 2 categories: A-Levels and AS-Levels. A-Levels are 2-year courses that are graded from a U (insufficient) to A* (distinction), while AS-Levels only last a year and are graded U to A. Many schools will offer you 3 A-Levels and 1 AS-Level course, meaning you only study the AS-Level subject for a year. While every A-Level is a 2-year course, the AS-Levels are just the first year of content, and then a test.

Modular VS. Linear Courses

Depending on your school and exam board, you may be offered modular A-Levels. These often come in the form of the sciences, such as modular Physics or Biology. All modular means is that you will be taking exams on each individual subject module, instead of on all the course content at the end of the year. So if you study module 1 for Biology, you will sit a test for that module, and then move on with your life. This is opposed to sitting a test with that content and sitting on it for a year until the final exam.

However, please do note that most schools and exam boards are transitioning towards linear A-Levels, meaning modular courses are going to be on their way out soon.

Available Subjects:

Recommendations (Not)

I'd be remiss if I gave recommendations about the A-Levels to choose. The whole point of the A-Levels is to give the power and flexibility to the student. With that said however, I do recommend you do any and all subjects required (or recommended) for a specific university or college course you wish to apply to.

Wed, 29 Sep 2021 17:00:54 +0400

Option Subjects (2-3 are often mandatory):

Resources

For (I)GCSE Mathematics and Further Mathematics, I highly recommend any of the Casio FX-9X series of non-graphing calculators. Their build quality is excellent, they are solar-powered and can do pretty much everything you need for all (I)GCSE maths courses.

Recommendations

The subjects I took for my GCSEs are English, Mathematics, Further Mathematics, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Statistics, Economics, Computer Science and French. I also completed the afformentioned Italian GCSE. The only subject out of these that I strongly recommend to students is GCSE Statistics. Statistics is extremily useful if you plan to pursue any remotely scientific subject. It is quintessential to the study of Psychology, the 3 sciences, and any applied Mathematics course.

(I)A-Level

The (International) Advanced Level is another UK qualification like the GCSE, except it's what's known as a Level 3 qualification. This means it's the course Universities and Colleges are concerned about when they consider candidates. It was introduced all the way back in 1951, making it far more established than the younger GCSE system. Because of this longevity, the A-Levels vary all across the world, with various countries (Such as Hong Kong, Singapore and Mauritius) including A-levels as part of their high-school diplomas.

The Magic of A-Level

Unlike (I)GCSE, which has a mandatory set of "core" subjects, A-Level has no course requirements. They are purely qualifications in any field you like. This means most schools will often require students to complete 3-4 A-Levels of their choosing in any subjects, giving the student complete free reign on the fields they wish to explore.

This unrivaled level of flexibility in terms of subject choice lends itself well to the intensivity of the courses, meaning that any A-Levels you choose should be for subjects you (really) like! If you're going to be doing only 3-4 subjects for 2 years, they better be good ones.

AS-Levels

While the overall qualification system is called "A-Level", the qualifications themselves are split into 2 categories: A-Levels and AS-Levels. A-Levels are 2-year courses that are graded from a U (insufficient) to A* (distinction), while AS-Levels only last a year and are graded U to A. Many schools will offer you 3 A-Levels and 1 AS-Level course, meaning you only study the AS-Level subject for a year. While every A-Level is a 2-year course, the AS-Levels are just the first year of content, and then a test.

Modular VS. Linear Courses

Depending on your school and exam board, you may be offered modular A-Levels. These often come in the form of the sciences, such as modular Physics or Biology. All modular means is that you will be taking exams on each individual subject module, instead of on all the course content at the end of the year. So if you study module 1 for Biology, you will sit a test for that module, and then move on with your life. This is opposed to sitting a test with that content and sitting on it for a year until the final exam.

However, please do note that most schools and exam boards are transitioning towards linear A-Levels, meaning modular courses are going to be on their way out soon.

Available Subjects:

Added features to the blog system

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Recently, I've been tinkering around with Luke Smith's 'lb' script and adding various useful features.

The most useful one (which you will notice at the bottom of this entry) is the new (Reply-to) link at the end of all articles. This is appended automatically by the script everytime I publish a new article, and it works on RSS as well! This way, people have a convenient way of contacting me about any article; The link also sets the subject of your email to the title of my article, for extra comfiness.

One minor addition is that I fixed the links in the RSS feed. Now my articles link directly to their blog page counterparts, and not to the very unhelpful rolling blog page. I hope this makes reading my articles more convenient for all.

I am considering getting rid of the rolling blog page in future, or maybe adding some extra features. If you have any suggestions, click the "Reply-to" link and send me an email with your ideas!

Sat, 25 Sep 2021 09:38:53 +0400

Music production on Linux

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For a very, very long time, musicians all over the world have employed the use of computers to aid them in music production. GNU/Linux, being the OS of choice for tinkerers and the technically inclined, gained a major following in the music and video production scene for it's speed, reliability and compatibility over the years. But what does music production on Linux actually look like?

LMMS

LMMS, also known as the Linux Multimedia Suite (or more commonly as "Let's Make Music) is a Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) for Linux, Windows and MacOS. It's the single music production software I'm most experienced with, so I'm going to list some pros and cons:

Pros:

Cons:

The biggest flaw with LMMS is the complete and utter lack of proper recording tools. It's only really good for sequencing; if you intend to use any audio samples or record anything in your songs, I'd recommend Ardour instead.

Ardour

Ardour is a professional-grade (but still completely FOSS) DAW for Linux, Windows and MacOS. However, there's a catch: unless you're on Linux, where your package mantainers already offer Ardour free to download, you'll have to pay for binary builds of Ardour. I haven't heard of anyone on Windows or MacOS successfully compiling Ardour from its freely available source code, so this one's basically only for Linux users (unless you want to pay for binary Windows and MacOS builds).

I won't go through and list pros and cons like I did for LMMS, because Ardour only really has two big cons: firstly, dealing with MIDI can be awful. Most people who do anything complex with Ardour utilizing MIDI will tell you about the various bugs and inconsistencies present in the software. These aren't enough for me to recommend LMMS over Ardour, however if your music is heavy on sequencing, you might want to consider using LMMS just to make the MIDI sections. The second big con is the learning curve. This is a minor con, as all audio software is designed by alien creatures with no understanding of intuitive design, but Ardour can be especially weird and specific in its UI. Just something to consider.

Proprietary DAWs (eg. Reaper)

While there are various proprietary DAWs available for Linux, I don't recommend any of them. Not only are the proprietary, closed (and sometimes even paid) software, but they're never as fast, stable and supported as their FOSS counterparts.

With that said, I have used Reaper before, and I didn't find it to be entirely awful. It works, but I'd recommend using Ardour over it.

Conclusion

In conclusion, while LMMS is a great learning and sequencing tool for music, anyone intending to do any serious music production on Linux should look into Ardour. It can be hard to learn, but like previously mentioned, DAWs are designed by aliens. They're going to be difficult to use!

Fri, 24 Sep 2021 21:24:12 +0400

Why a simpler web is a better web

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Ever since I've gotten into self-hosting and making videos about it, I've heard people talk about Pleroma, ActivityPub, and other decentralized social media-like protocols. It sounds excellent at first, creating new standards to re-create the centralized social media experience of Twitter, Facebook and other "walled gardens", but after a while I realized that it's not quite for me.

The problem with the Fediverse

The Fediverse is a simple concept: A few standardized protocols (ActivityPub, Diaspora, and the older OStatus) are used by individual servers to communicate information with each other, to allow for one massive decentralized network. However, this system has some fundamental flaws.

The biggest single flaw is that servers can still ban you! This has happened before (just look at Mastodon) and it'll only keep happening unless people realize that any form of decentralized system that still relies on a centralized host (ie. the most popular Pleroma instance) isn't going to prevent censorship.

In the end, the real problem with the Fediverse is that it still requires the end-user to use a single web client, which can enact censorship. You might think this can be mitigated by simply switching to other, more free-speech friendly websites, but the most popular ActivityPub/Diaspora instances can just block that one, effectively cutting you off.

Older standards are better!

A far better standard for social media communication is RSS, which is what you're likely using right now to read this blog post. Because RSS subscriptions are handled directly between the individual user and server, it means that no intermediary server can censor them. This is so much better than any Fediverse social media.

What truly makes RSS so much better is the fact that it's basically everywhere, from large corrupt news sites to tiny self-hosted sites like this one. This also means RSS clients are everywhere, making the technology hyper-accessible.

"B-but MUH REPOSTING/LIKING/DISLIKING!!!"

Social media is the devil. While I can understand wanting to keep up with your friends' blogs and art feeds, I will never understand people's fixation with online "socializing" in this manner. You don't need to be constantly retweeting and liking posts to survive. Luckily, most people seem to agree with me on the incredibly detrimental effects of social media addiction, which restores a lot of my faith in humanity.

Also, if you want to communicate with anyone in a decentralized manner, you can always be using XMPP or Matrix to message them. Both are effective at offerring secure, decentralized communication for individual and group chats, and I think we'll see far more adoption of both of them with time.

Conclusion

At the end of the day, social media itself is awfully structured. Even if the Fediverse was completely censorship-free, it'd probably just become like Reddit: A hivemind powered by upvotes and downvotes in perfect balance so that Keanu Reeves and Big Chungus memes can reign supreme over what was meant to be a platform for proper discussion. RSS feeds and personal websites are and will always remain the most direct, simple and free way to communicate ideas and knowledge on the internet, and I can only see this becoming more and more important as the Fediverse continues to gain traction.

Sat, 18 Sep 2021 09:32:27 +0400

Lots of people on the Webring!

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Alright, I know, the "webring" is not actually a proper webring, just a list of poorly-linked websites, but I had no idea what to name the page otherwise.

I've added lots of new websites to the webring page! I've also added colorful icons next to everyone, for extra visual flair! I'm probably going to add a few more friends there, and maybe some social media links too.

Anyways, in other news, the shift over to the new domain, denshi.org, begins! I've already moved the PeerTube and the wiki but the Matrix server will take a while to move over, if I move it at all. I am considering switching over to XMPP though...

Anyways, I hope whoever's subscribed to this RSS feed keeps enjoying these new articles! I have tons more where this one came from!

Fri, 20 Aug 2021 11:30:20 +0400

Wownero.xyz, TheOfficial.Uno, Monstro1.com...

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I've recently added a "webring" page to my website! Spoiler alert: It's not an actual webring, it's just links to other websites I run and the personal websites of others.

I'll probably be adding more people and sites there, so stay tuned!

Thu, 05 Aug 2021 17:27:42 +0200

Wowneria is closing.

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After a lot of consideration, I've decided to close down this pool in support of Wownero's new "Junkie Jeff" fork.

After the second and final block is confirmed and the final payments are through, Wowneria will close to support the new solo-mining initiative catalyzed by the new Wownero fork.

A cryptocurrency is only as good as its community makes it; the increasing corporatization and centralization of cryptos like Bitcoin displays a clear threat to other, smaller projects. If the "people" mining Bitcoin, Litecoin and other non-ASIC-resistant cryptos aren't individuals but massiveily-funded mining operations that fill literal warehouses of ASICs, then in my eyes, these decentralized currencies have failed at their objectives.

Monero is bold in its defense of privacy, an everlasting yet increasingly overlooked human right in the modern age. Just as it refreshingly improves upon the concept of Bitcoin for the end user, Monero also improves the ecosystem for miners, who now have a CPU-centric algorithm that anyone with a computer can use to contribute to the Monero network.

In a similar way, Wownero is bold in being both a supposed "meme coin" that maintains integrity by refusing to be endorsed by "lame celebrities" and shills, but also offering genuine technical improvements and notable differences to Monero. Take the new mining system which essentially eliminates the prospect of creating large, centralized pools mining Wownero.

So yes, Wonweria is closing after the final block is confirmed and everyone is paid. if you want to mine Wownero, I HIGHLY SUGGEST you solo-mine Wownero.

Wed, 16 Jun 2021 19:52:30 +0400

Software Recommendations

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A lot of people know me for my "Just use" software series.
But while I try to make as many videos as possible to cover all the "free software" replacements for software many people use daily, I couldn't make a video on every piece of software.

This article simply contains the software I use and recommend; Most of it requires little to no eliteยฎ knowledge of GNU/Linux or software in general; which doesn't mean learning is bad.

Operating Systems

I prefer to run UNIX-like operating systems.

Of course for the most part I run GNU/Linux systems; Operating systems based off the GNU core utilities and the Linux kernel that some people call "Linux distros" for brevity. My Linux distro of choice is Arch Linux, mostly because it offers a fast package manager with a large-enough pool of updated software, all the configuration and software is kept as simple as possible making maintainence a breeze, and the Arch User Repository offers an excellent way to installs packages outside of the relatively small vanilla repos. The AUR makes Arch (probably) the single distro with most software available for it.

However this doesn't mean Arch Linux is flawless...

(Other) Operating Systems

I think many more advanced Linux users wish to compile more software, for example their kernel, from source. Compiling your software from source offers a lot of performance advantages, and for this a distribution like Gentoo or KISS Linux is what I'd recommend.

There is also the issue of systemd, the init system of choice for Arch Linux. Systemd does not follow the UNIX philosophy of being a small, simple, one-purpose program that's easy to understand; Just like the Linux kernel, it is large and evergrowing, and mostly monolythic. I choose to use systemd and Arch Linux merely out of necessity and convenience; A distribution such as Artix, Arch Linux without systemd, may ship more broken or incomplete packages. There are also some packages I use that rely on systemd. If you are willing to live with these slight flaws, then Artix or Devuan is for you.

Shell

I normally have multiple shells installed on my system at once; Fish and Bash. I have Fish set to my user shell due to its convenient autocomplete and memory functions along with wonderful colorscheme compared to boring 'ol Bash. However, I still keep Bash installed and run it ocassionaly to run more complex one-liner commands.

Text Editing

My choice of text editor is often vim; it offers a lot of complex and powerful functionality while also being usable by anyone who can open and type in a terminal. However, while I mostly use vim to write I understand why people may wish to use a more "user friendly" option such as a graphical text editor. For this I recommend gedit.

Window Management/"DE"

I personally prefer using the Openbox floating window manager as I find it to be the single one that most easily gets out of my way and puts emphasis on what I really care about: The actual programs I run on my machine.

Web Browser

My web browser of choice is Ungoogled Chromium. This is a fork of Google's Chromium, but with all Google spyware and bloat removed. You get the performance and wide support of Google Chrome, without any of the privacy concerns. I chose to use this web browser simply because it's the most "minimalist" of them all, not counting independent web browsers like Suckless' Surf.

A similar web browser is LibreWolf; essentially Firefox, but with all telemetry and Mozilla bloat removed. It also includes uBlock Origin, which to some people is a plus. Then there's also the Brave Browser, which blocks ads and shows you more "privacy respecting" ads to pay you in their crypto, BAT. I find it to be a bit bloated and not exactly my sorta thing, but I don't hate it or oppose people using it.

That's pretty much it for me. Most of my other recommendations of software can be found in my Just Use software series anyway.

Tue, 06 Apr 2021 11:09:43 +0400

Autism awareness day?

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We all know how much people love dedicating days to pointless things. From international pancake day to "national step in a puddle day", there's no shortage of random holidays human beings have devised.

However, we are meant to take these days more seriously when there is some supposed valued "cause" or "movement" behind the holiday itself. Just to clarify I am not speaking of religious or historical celebrations; these are not what I'm addressing in this post. I'm instead speaking of days akin to "Autism awareness day".

Let's cut the crap. We all know that Autism, just as race and gender, is what politicians and people on the internet are going to begin using as a crutch to gain victim points. It's the next in a long line of victim cards which will be used against anyone who dares speak against what the owner of said card believes in. And as an individual with autism, I find this very very upsetting.

The reasoning behind "Autism awareness day" is supposedly to make people aware about the existence and nature of individuals on the autistic spectrum. I guess it's called "awareness" because you can't always tell someone is mentally disabled just by looking at them, unlike you could with other minorities such as racial minorities, or other victimized groups such as women.

While the idea of making people aware of autism is noble in some sense, I think anyone with any shred of critical thought can instantly devise it's simply yet another way for pointless labelling and tribalistic attitudes to propagate in the world. Making people aware of autism's existence subconciously tells people without it that they are different to people with it; this feeling of difference from a natural, genetic standpoint is what deplorable websites like Twitter.com prey on: Identity politics and tribalist attitudes are widespread as everyone is out there to prove they're either the most oppressed or the person who is most in touch with the supposedly oppressed.

It's perfectly fair to say that attitudes on Twitter do nothing to help those who are truly in need of this sought-after "equality". Twitter represents the walled-off rich suburbs in California, or the hipster coffee shops in New York City: Completely and utterly out of touch, yet supposedly "on the side of the people" or at least the "minorities" when in truth they're probably the most destructive thing for any group they claim to be helping. Autism is simply yet another "oppressed" group for these people to prey upon, and these international awareness days are their opportunities to whine and pout about how sensitive they are and how much they tolerate a people group(autistics) when this couldn't be further from the truth:

I personally believe the day will come when something akin to "Black Lives Matter" will happen with autistics: A violent or at least highly vocal movement that claims to be on the side of the oppressed, but does much more damage than actually helps. However, this will only happen once all the autistic people who yet are not victims are either censored or eliminated. A prime example is 4Chan: It's undeniable that lots of the website if not most of it is populated by people on the autism spectrum. Autism affects the reasoning of the brain, something other victimized groups don't really experience, which means that autism has some inherit mental features. I have reason to believe the nature of autism makes people attracted to political extremism or at least some political polarization, both to the left and to the right. I've often seen more high-functioning autistics be on the right, but I don't have any imperical data.

4Chan is mostly populated by people with right-wing or at least poltically incorrect opinions, the sorts that make users of Twitter and other politically correct social medias seethe with rage. It's pretty funny honestly. But if we are to believe most of these people are autistic, then I don't think an "Autistic Lives Matter"-esque movement could ever happen without the censoring of all these politically incorrect autistics. In a sense, autism is far more difficult to contain and use as a victim group for empathy points, at least when compared to something like race or gender.

So yeah that's my opinion on all this autism awareness day and Twitter stuff. More based blog posts to come!

Mon, 05 Apr 2021 00:09:10 +0400

Testing out this lb...

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Hey! Thanks for checking out my blog. It's powered by Luke Smith's lb, a minimalist "luke's blog" or "less bloat" script that essentially generates a static website. Much better than JavaScript backends or a LEMP server!

This also has an RSS feed: https://denshi.org/rss.xml. Subscribe to it to recieve all my blog posts!

Sun, 04 Apr 2021 17:57:46 +0400