Peek - Screen to GIF Tool

An image is worth a thousand words, it is said. This begs the question, how much does a an animated GIF worth. It gives all the flexibility of an image while providing most of the benefits of a video.

I am a freelance computer engineer and I make websites and web applications. I get to work with a wide variety of clients. Some of them highly technical and some of them noobs. Regardless of whom, it seems every one is happy to work with GIFs. I make quick GIFs to capture the features of a new feature. Then I will drag it to Slack, Github Issues or JAIRA and they all will show it without a fuss. The client instantly knows what I am talking about and it saves significant time specially when you are working on a lot of issues.

Here is an example GIF I made recently.

Peek generated GIF

Applications

Peek

The above example was created using Peek, a free and open source application. How ever this application is not available in Windows. To install you would…

For Ubuntu you can use the package manager or get the latest through the officially maintained PPA

~# sudo add-apt-repository ppa:peek-developers/stable
~# sudo apt update
~# sudo apt install peek

ArchLinux users would require to use

~# pacman -S peek

And fedora users use…

~# sudo dnf config-manager --add-repo https://download.opensuse.org/repositories/home:/phiwo:/peek/Fedora_25/home:phiwo:peek.repo
~# sudo dnf install peek

or for Fedora 26

~# sudo dnf config-manager --add-repo https://download.opensuse.org/repositories/home:/phiwo:/peek/Fedora_26/home:phiwo:peek.repo
~# sudo dns install peek

ScreenToGif

ScreenToGif is a Windows application which has a similar feature set like Peak. This is also free and open source. While I haven’t used the application my self (I don’t have Windows) I hear it is a good tool. Unfortunately Windows doesn’t have a good software distribution platform like many Linux distributions do. Thus you will have to go to the website and download and install it your self.

Visit: ScreenToGif

Conclusion

Peak and ScreenToGif are the two applications I know of. If you know another good application, let me know in the comments below.

Overflow Coolant Boiling

I had an issue where the coolant in my radiator overflow tank would boil after about 5 - 10 KM drive. I would loose about 1 - 2 l of coolant every time. This boiling would happen even after the engine is switched off.

While I am a computer engineer, I know a few things about cars too as I was curious to be a mechanic when I was a child.

Head Gasket?

From my understanding this could have been a radiator issue or a blown head gasket. If it is the latter the repair could be very costly about US$ 1000 or Rs. 150,000 depending on the vehicle.

If it is a head gasket issue, unburnt hydrocarbons could enter the cooling system and get dispersed through it. If this is the case the engine will not run smooth and if you keep the radiator cap open you will notice bubbles coming out from within. There are various tests to confirm this, but it was unlikely that I had the issue as I didn’t see any bubbles coming out or the engine misfiring.

Radiator?

This left the radiator the culprit. A radiator blockage could result the engine to overheat and in return make the coolant boil. The temperature gauge reads that the engine is in ideal operating temperature. Also looking in to the condition of the radiator, I doubted it would be in a bad shape.

I checked the Radiator cap and it looked fine. It was replaced in a recent service at Toyota Lanka and on inspection it looked fine. So I feared the worst. When I contacted Toyota I had scary news with the possibility of needing to replace the whole radiator.

So I took the chance and bought a $5.00 (Rs. 800) radiator cap. For my surprise it solved my problem and saved me a ride to Toyota, for now.

Conclusion

If you are having coolant loss, change the Radiator cap. Its cheap, cheaper than the petrol it takes to go to a dealership. Start there.

How ever I will be importing a new Radiator and replacing mine. That is because of a different issue I have. But now there is no rush.

TLDR; My Backstory

I own a Toyota Camry 2008 which suffered a failed radiator fan motor which resulted the plastic (actually Nylon) cover of the radiator to crack. This happened in middle of nowhere just before midnight. I had to walk a little to go for a “night shop” to fetch water. I had to top up water 2 more times in the remaining 100 KM of my journey.

The fix according to Toyota is the full replacement of the radiator which it self costs Rs. 120,000 (about US$ 800). That is not an issue for me. The problem is that it will take just short of 2 months come from Japan.

I am a professional and I need a car. Waiting 2 months without a car is a huge inconvenience. Hiring another car for 2 months is an unnecessary cost.

Thus, I went to an independent radiator shop. The guy replaced the Nylon top with a Chinese after market product. This cost me about $50 (SL Rs. 7500).

This is when I started loosing coolant. I feared a leak. On further inspection I noticed that the overflow tank (as some of you call - the reserve) was bubbling / boiling. For a moment I thought it was a blown head gasket. You can blow your head gasket if you fill cool water while the engine is hot. In this case the engine has to be running. But then I noticed it couldn’t be. That is when I looked in to the radiator cap and replaced it fixing my issue.

Now there is no urgency to replace the Radiator. I will drive to Toyota Maharagama and place an order for a new Radiator and Radiator fan after the Sinhala Tamil New YEar which they will open on 18th. That is because, while the radiator system may hold up fine, I really really hate to get stranded because I wanted to save $800.00. Fro me, its not worth it.

Annites Victorious @ Battle of the Rocks

All my school life, not a single day did I come home chearful of a victory. Then when I entered engineeirng factulty, after a long time Annites won a big match but I wasn’t there to party.

And again we win in 2018. Its nice to see that our boys are stepping up the game.

I prey that the two sides didn’t distroy the girl schools walls (Convent / Holy Family Balika and Maliyadeva Girls).

Unlie the old days, I don’t know the players by name. But I would like to congratulate and thank them for the service they do to our school. Wish all of them best of luck.

Will try to be there next time!

Ubuntu 18.04 (Totem) Choppy Videos

I have been using Ubuntu 18.04 for nearly 2 weeks now. The UI is not Unity, I feel a tad less productive, but I can live with it. I have also noticed 3rd party vendors not having their products compiled to ubuntu Bionic Beaver probably because it hasn’t still been released. The only glitch I noticed is related to video playback.

Ubuntu 18.04 comes with Totem Movie Player. I noticed that there are subsecond freezes in the video. I first thought it was an issue with the video. But then I installed VLC media player which didn’t have the issue (at least to a noticible extent).

First thinking it would be an issue with Graphics Drivers. My laptop is a HP Envy 15 with a 7th generation processor and an Intel 620 chipset. I used the oibaf/graphics-drivers ppa to update. It didn’t improve the situation except introduced a dissapointing grany screen displayed right after logging in that goes away after a couple seconds.

If you are intersted…

~# sudo add-apt-repository ppa:oibaf/graphics-drivers
~# sudo apt update
~# sudo apt upgrade -y

So it seems at least for the moment I will be stuck with VLC. I really with Totem would work smoothly one day.

Ubuntu dnsmasq systemd-resolved High CPU

I am always about stability, but since I have 2 work laptops I thought of giving Ubuntu 18.04 (beta) a shot. I configured the machine to serve .test domains using dnsmasq using a old blog post of mine. I then noticed the computer glitching. When I checked 2 processes were using nearly 100% CPU. This was not an issue with Ubuntu 16.04.

I had little luck following answers in StackOverflow and ServerFault. Then I thought of giving in my own solution.

My local network is simple. It has a WiFi router which is also an ADSL modem. It has DHCP enabled for any guests. But I use static IPs for my local computers, printers etc so I know the device by the IP. Thus I have manually configured network settings.

The idea is that the network manager to use localhost to resolve DNS queries which dnsmasq handle. dnsmasq will point .test domains to localhost and query a configured dns server for other requests. I believe there will also be some caching in dnsmasq side that will speed up things.

  • Set the DNS address for the network connection to 127.0.0.1 (localhost)
  • Set the DNS address in dnsmasq to the router or a service you prefer

For the latter you would require to edit the /etc/dnsmasq.conf file.

# Add other name servers here, with domain specs if they are for
# non-public domains.
# server=/localnet/192.168.0.1
server=192.168.1.1

Normally we would have few DNS addresses configured. In my case the router has been configured to have 2 DNS servers.

Your options for a DNS servers…

  • Cloud Flare 1.1.1.1 (launched in April 1st 2018)
  • Google 8.8.8.8, 8.8.4.4

There are many other DNS services.

After the update my computer is operating much smoother.