Ubuntu 16.04 on HP Stream 11

So last night I finally got around to moving my last laptop over to Ubuntu from the dreaded Windows 10. The laptop in question is a small HP Stream portable that I have had kicking around for a while. Since information about working distributions on specific hardware can be hard to find sometimes, I thought I would publish my experiences here and also share the small number of fixes I had to implement post-install.

As per usual, there are a huge number of configurations on HP Stream 11 laptops. The one in question here is a HP Stream 11-d000na fitted with a Realtek RTL8723BE WiFi card, Intel Celeron N2840 (with Intel Graphics), 32GB eMMC storage & 2GB of RAM.

I had delayed doing this switch over because one of my friends had reported on previous versions of Ubuntu (probably related to the Linux Kernel) had terrible performance issues with the eMMC storage this laptop uses. However, they happily reported a few days back it appeared to be fixed in Ubuntu 16.04 so I seized the opportunity and am pleased to report it works perfectly on this laptop with a few minor tweaks!

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I’m pleased to report WiFi worked out of the box and that this system requires no additional proprietary drivers. I did have a small issue where the WiFi seemingly dropped out over a period of time, giving a “Resolving host…” issue in Google Chrome. This was easily fixed by disabling the power saving setting of the WiFi card:

echo “options rtl8723be fwlps=0” | sudo tee /etc/modprobe.d/rtl8723be.conf

As a habit, I also installed tlp to improve the battery life, and I’m getting approximately 9 hours of browsing time inside Google Chrome with 3 tabs open – not too shabby! Bluetooth was also enabled and functional after the default install and the keyboard function buttons operate as expected.

Interestingly I also had a small issue getting Google Chrome installed. The default Ubuntu Software installer (the replacement for Ubuntu Software Centre) did not seem to do anything upon clicking install on the file and dpkg reported unmet dependencies. Quick solution was to install gdebi and then use it to install the .deb:

sudo apt-get install gdebi

sudo gdebi google-chrome-stable_current_amd64.deb

So if you have a HP Stream 11-d000na and are thinking about Ubuntu, I can report very positive result with Ubuntu 16.04 (64-bit). Power off to log in screen takes approx 20 seconds in my tests.

Recommended

Book Review: Happiness by Design (Paul Dolan)

HappinessByDesignHappiness is an interesting topic to think about. We all experience it (or lack of it sometimes) at some point in our lives. To me happiness is timeless, you can experience happiness now, in the present, but you also experience happiness over your lifetime – when you look back you have a sense of how happy you have been overall. If I ask you how happy you are you will probably be able to give me an answer, but can you explain why?

This very fact makes happiness hard to quantify, and Paul Dolan, who is a leading researcher in this field, has done a good job of attempting to help everyday people understand what the inputs to their happiness are, thereby allowing us to make changes to our lives that will impact happiness positively.

The book is an interesting read from cover to cover for someone who is interested in the concept of happiness like myself, but I would also recommend this book to anyone who is interested in how they can be happier – at a glance some of the suggestions seem overly simple, but for me the book taught me to understand how pleasurable and also purposeful activities make up my happiness and stepping back allows you to base your decision making on options that will make you happier.

A word of warning, this is not a self help book. Reading it will not enlighten you on how to go from miserable to happy if that is the case for you. It does however provide someone who is of average happiness the tools to think and be aware of their happiness, examine their lives through their experiential self whilst being aware of their conscious and unconscious attention habits, with the outcome of being able to make small changes to the design of their lives in order to be happier. That is happiness by design.

“What you attend to drives your behaviour and it determines your happiness. Attention is the glue that holds your life together.”

Recommended read.

Fixing Renault R-Link TomTom Incorrect Time

Over the weekend, myself and brother couldn’t help but notice that the ETA displayed on my Renault R-Link system with TomTom Live Maps was incorrect. It appeared to be displaying a time +1 hours ahead of current, even though the main clock was set correctly.

Having searched the internet for a solution to this and came up empty handed, I sat down with the system and went through the settings pages to try and find a fix. And eventually I did.

Turns out, I had deselected the “Set Time Automatically” option in the Time & Date options page of the R-Link system, when I changed the clock to adjust for the beginning of British Summer Time (BST). Once this is turned back on, the clock will go blank for a minute whilst I’m guessing it retrieves the time either from an FM traffic update or via TomTom Live over the internet. However, once this was complete the navigation ETA was fixed, so I’m guessing it’s a small time zone related issue!

Just thought I would share, of the off chance anyone else comes across it!

An interesting by-product of my latest project.

Since I already have some data retrieved from the Spotify Metadata API relating to my playlists, I thought I would have a play about with it. I’ve mainly been collecting release years from the albums of the tracks that appear on a given playlist. So it’s interesting to plot the years as a percentage of tracks in a playlist.

For instance, take my New Music Playlist:

Running this data we get:

New Music by Year

As you can see, a large percentage of new music I am discovering (which is what that playlist is used for) comes from mostly things released over the past few years.

So what happens if we say compare this to a playlist of a particular decade, lets go for Spotify’s 80’s All Gold: Sophisticated Pop playlist:

Running those tracks we get:

80s Playlist by Year

Graph not what you where expecting? Me either! The issue? Oh yes it is known. It has been an ongoing debate on Spotify for years, it is the original release date debate.

 

And this in itself presents an issue, if all of the tracks in the above playlist (and I haven’t checked) where actually released in the 1980’s, then this “noise” in the results is going to cause issues when attempting to train a classifier to try and estimate someone’s age. However that being said, if everyone see’s the same amount of noise, then that becomes easier but I suspect from being on the community for so long some people go hunting for the original recordings rather than re-releases.

For example, lets take this user made Ultimate 90s Playlist:

What do you notice compared to the Spotify 80’s playlist above?

90s Playlist by Year

 

UPDATE: Shortly after writing this, Spotify have announced they are making changes to release dates and have already started the transition!

New Project – Using Pattern Recognition is it possible to accurately predict someone’s age by the music they listen to on Spotify?

I’ve missed doing some pattern recognition programming this semester after doing so much last year, so I thought I would give it a go myself. The question I have posed (to myself, blogging in case anyone else is interested) – Is it possible to predict someone’s age based on the music they listen to? Or more accurately in this case have in their favourite playlist? I plan to find out!

The plan:

– Write Matlab code to extract release date of albums from a Spotify track URI which can easily be copied in bulk from a playlist. Done

– Collect a testing data set from the Spotify community. Main issue might be getting enough diversity of ages to submit data for me to use, but I will hopefully be able to bug my friends over in Spotify to lend a hand.

– Select a suitable classifier and train on the test data which will be based on the release years of albums people have on their playlists.

– See if my trained classifier can classy ages of unseen people’s data correctly and how accurately.

Will keep you updated!

Installing Quartus II Web Edition on Linux isn’t as easy as I expected

Since I was bored earlier, I decided to try something that I have been meaning to do for a while, install Quartus II Web Edition on my Ubuntu 12.04.1 laptop. I should point out that for University work, I use Quartus II Web 9.0 on Windows 7 on both my desktop and laptop (dual boot). Why version 9.0 you might ask? Yes its ancient now, but for my Electronics Laboratories we use FLEX10K devices and Waveform simulation, both of which where removed in the subsequent 9.1 (No FLEX10K) and 10+ versions (No FLEX10K or Waveform).

So I searched on google to download the version I needed, but guess what, turns out back in those days Linux support was subscription only, and I am not going to fork out for an Altera License now. Summing up my options, I could either go for 9.1 which had Waveform simulation or go for the most recent version 12.1 which requires you to use testbenching or some other simulation technique.

In the end, I opted for 12.1, might as well learn how to use the most up to date tools, it can only help me in the future! I can always boot Windows 7 if I need to use the older version. I downloaded the altera installer and it is now currently running. I am guessing the install won’t be a smooth one, since Ubuntu is not a supported platform but I am up for the challenge! Since its only for design labs, USB Blaster and other tools don’t need to work fully so how hard can it be!

I will report back in a few hours or tomorrow after the install finishes.

EDIT: Reading around, it appears that the Waveform simulator is bundled into the package but it is hidden! Well at least that is one problem sorted before the install finishes. Its downloading as fast as the line will go, Altera must have some nice bandwidth on their end 🙂

BlackBerry – Still a fan after all this time

Everyone who knows me knows that I am a total BlackBerry fan, but no one else seems to understand why. So this is my chance to explain it, hopefully!

Lets address the monster in the closet first though. BlackBerry has issues, I’m not going to lie. The service outages are the main one, having a 7 day or more service outage in this day and age is a big deal, its front page news in fact. This is the main reason so many people have moved away from BlackBerry, but lets look at it in perspective. Computers break its a fact of life, anyone who claims to have 100% uptime is a fool, if something can go wrong it will (Murphy’s Law). As long as they learn from their mistakes and it never happens again, then that is fine by me. RIM also seem to have got a bad image amongst certain groups for making phones that break all the time. I would like to point out now that yes, I have had a phone fail, but it was replaced free of charge by RIM the very next day! If that’s not customer service I don’t know what is. Also the build quality on my current Bold 9900 is fantastic and BB7 is very stable. I can’t see myself having any issues until my contract renewal day!

So what are the other reasons I stand by BlackBerry?

  • The physical keyboard – The keyboard on my Bold 9900 is fantastic, its the perfect size, laid out correctly and makes typing on the device a pleasure.
  • The integrated touch screen – BB7 was never designed to be used on touch only devices, but the touchscreen complements the optical trackpad beautifully.
  • Convenience keys – The ability to launch the camera with a single button and press it again to take a snap is fast and easy.
  • Speed – The operating system and applications never seem to lag or take a while to load.
  • Application integration – BBM connected applications and push notifications on Facebook and Twitter keep you connected all the time.
  • BBM – In my opinion by far the best messaging platform currently on the market. There is literally nothing you can’t do with it at great speed.
  • Notification LED – These are becoming more and more common but it is one of the best features. I can be sitting in a library or even a lecture with my phone on the desk beside my pencil case and can see if I have a message or not without even lifting the phone. Also when traveling the LED coverage indicator is very useful to let you know when you are connected.
  • Applications – For every job that I need to get done, I have been able to find an application on the app store for. Forget if apple/android have more, BlackBerry has everything you need.
  • Playbook Integration – I also have a BlackBerry playbook. I don’t use it for anything fancy, mainly just note taking and looking at lecture slides. BlackBerry Bridge allows me to connect my phone to the tablet and access and send BBM, text messages and emails right there on the tablet. It can also access my phones calendar and tasks and use my BIS connection on my phone to connect the tablet to the internet if WiFi is not available. The playbook will also get the BlackBerry 10 update sometime in 2013!

So there you have it, the reasons I still love BlackBerry. And before you ask yes, I will be staying with BlackBerry after my current contract ends! Blackberry 10 looks fantastic and I can’t wait to get my hands on a device to play with.

Peter vs BlackBerry

So tonight my bold 9900 decides it has a low priority update to install, shouldn’t be an issue should it? After about 40 minutes into the installation, the phone rebooted and to my surprise, did not start again. Knowing this is always a possibility, I connected to BlackBerry Desktop Manager and installed the new update from there directly onto the phone. Its all working now, I’ve just spent the last hour and a bit installing all of my applications again! BlackBerry protect restored all critical data so well done that. As for the update itself, how hard can it be to run a simple update? It seems every time I get one it seems to break the phone!