REVIEW: UGREEN HiTune X5 TWS earbuds

After trying the $10 Remax TWS-10 Plus, i decided to check out and review the $50 UGREEN HiTune X5 TWS earbuds with Qualcomm aptX

The earbuds come with 4 sizes of ear tips, x-small, small, medium and large

  • HiTune X5 True Wireless Stereo Earbuds
  • Qualcomm chipset: True Wireless Mirroring  tech with the Qualcomm QCC 3040
  • Version: Bluetooth 5.2
  • ENC noise cancelling
  • Frequency range: 20Hz-20KHz
  • Latency: 70ms
  • 4 microphones with cVc 8.0 Noise Cancelling Technology
  • Ipx5 waterproof
  • 70ms ultra low delay  for  game mode
  • Profiles: HSP, HFP, AVRCP, A2DP
  • Bluetooth Frequency: 2400MHz-2483.5MHz
  • Bluetooth Range: 10m
  • Codec: Qualcomm® aptX™, AAC, SBC
  • Speaker Impedance: 32Ω±15%
  • Speaker Sensitivity: 100±3dB
  • Driver Speaker (Dynamic driver): 10mm PU + Peek Diaphragm
  • Operating Time: 7h music play on a single charge, 21h case, total 28h music play with charging case
  • Charging case capacity: 400 mAh
  • Earbud battery capacity: 40 mAh
  • Charging case input: 5V=320mA
  • Charging case output: 5V=100mA
  • lithium polymer battery
  • Charging port: USB-C
  • Fully charge the earbuds: 1.5H
  • Fully charge the case: 2H
  • Earbuds dimensions: 21.926.328.6mm
  • Package Dimensions: 100*139*44mm
  • Net Weight: 5.1g(0.18oz)
  • Total Weight: 47.6g(1.68oz) in the box
  • Waterproof: IPX5

with the HiTune X5 earbuds, the box contains 4 x Interchangeable Ear Caps, a charging cable, a charging case, and a user’s manual

Up to now, the Microphone is much nicer than the Remax, in the car, with the AC on at medium, the other party had no complaint’s about sound quality.

Even though the processor, the Qualcomm QCC 3040 is the most relevant chip in the earbuds, the truth is, the quality of the other components is very important, the microphones, the speakers, the power bank, etc… so it is very hard to endorse any other pair of earbuds simply because they have the same chipset.

A simple google search yeilded many other earbuds that use the same chipset, but again, having the same chipset does not mean much…

  • EarFun Free 2
  • Tribit Qualcomm QCC3040
  • Tronsmart Onyx Ace Pro
  • SoundPEATS Air3

Nested virtualization in KVM

The reason I am enabling this in my virtual machine is to develop with android studio under windows or Linux in a dedicated development machine (Let us call it an android development virtual machine), you will need to enable nested virtualization for the virtual android phone that comes with Android studio, there are many occasions where you need nested virtualization, so let us see what we need to do.

1- Check if our system allows nested virtualization with the following line

cat /sys/module/kvm_intel/parameters/nested 

If this returns a Y or a 1, then we are good to go to the next step, if not, then execute the following to enable the feature on the host system

echo 'options kvm_intel nested=1' >> /etc/modprobe.d/qemu-system-x86.conf 

Now, with that out of the way, we can move to the next step

2- Enable nested virtualization in the config of the virtual machine, either with virsh edit or edit the file manually and reload it, whatever you are used to doing should work

virsh edit androiddev

Now, specify either host-model OR host-passthrough, host model is more compatible when moving the virtual machine to a new CPU, while host-passthrough will deliver absolutly all CPU features to the guest os, but is very unfriendly to moving the machine to a different KVM host

<cpu mode='host-model'> 

Remax TWS-10 Plus, not bad for $10 earphones

I got a pair of small speakers, the Remax-10 Plus which are priced at $10 !!! they come with a power bank to recharge the earpods, and a pair of earpods that simply work, the sound on the other end of the conversation is lower than when you are using the handset, but if you raise your voice a little, they work fine for me

the battery life is more than you might need, and the box (Power bank box) is small and can recharge the speakers a few times

the only thing that is annoying about it is that it charges with an iPhone cable, one of which is indeed shipped with the box, but i would have preferred a USB C cable !

Anyway, I am creating this post so that i can tell you a bit about the speaker, but more importantly because i need the user manual handy 😉 since i accidentally switched to Chinese and now i want to switch back again, so i had to look for the manual that came with it!

Blank page running PhpMyAdmin on nginx with PHP 8.1 pfm

After an apt-get upgrade, phpmyadmin stopped working, I would see a blank page that sets a session cookie but does not show a login screen , just a blank page and the source of the page is also blank

So, i added the following line to my config.inc.php

$cfg['environment'] = 'development';

An right after, the following appeared

Array ( [type] => 1 [message] => Uncaught TypeError: PhpMyAdmin\ConfigStorage\Relation::__construct(): Argument #1 ($dbi) must be of type PhpMyAdmin\DatabaseInterface, null given, called in /var/www/html/pma2/libraries/classes/Twig/RelationExtension.php on line 22 and defined in /var/www/html/pma2/libraries/classes/ConfigStorage/Relation.php:62 Stack trace: #0 /var/www/html/pma2/libraries/classes/Twig/RelationExtension.php(22): PhpMyAdmin\ConfigStorage\Relation->__construct() #1 /var/www/html/pma2/vendor/twig/twig/src/ExtensionSet.php(426): PhpMyAdmin\Twig\RelationExtension->getFunctions() #2 /var/www/html/pma2/vendor/twig/twig/src/ExtensionSet.php(411): Twig\ExtensionSet->initExtension() #3 /var/www/html/pma2/vendor/twig/twig/src/ExtensionSet.php(385): Twig\ExtensionSet->initExtensions() #4 /var/www/html/pma2/vendor/twig/twig/src/Environment.php(810): Twig\ExtensionSet->getUnaryOperators() #5 /var/www/html/pma2/vendor/twig/twig/src/Lexer.php(457): Twig\Environment->getUnaryOperators() #6 /var/www/html/pma2/vendor/twig/twig/src/Lexer.php(108): Twig\Lexer->getOperatorRegex() #7 /var/www/html/pma2/vendor/twig/twig/src/Environment.php(466): Twig\Lexer->__construct() #8 /var/www/html/pma2/vendor/twig/twig/src/Environment.php(516): Twig\Environment->tokenize() #9 /var/www/html/pma2/vendor/twig/twig/src/Environment.php(348): Twig\Environment->compileSource() #10 /var/www/html/pma2/vendor/twig/twig/src/Environment.php(309): Twig\Environment->loadTemplate() #11 /var/www/html/pma2/libraries/classes/Template.php(123): Twig\Environment->load() #12 /var/www/html/pma2/libraries/classes/Template.php(156): PhpMyAdmin\Template->load() #13 /var/www/html/pma2/libraries/classes/Core.php(145): PhpMyAdmin\Template->render() #14 /var/www/html/pma2/libraries/classes/Config.php(684): PhpMyAdmin\Core::fatalError() #15 /var/www/html/pma2/libraries/classes/Common.php(169): PhpMyAdmin\Config->checkPermissions() #16 /var/www/html/pma2/index.php(48): PhpMyAdmin\Common::run() #17 {main} thrown [file] => /var/www/html/pma2/libraries/classes/ConfigStorage/Relation.php [line] => 62 ) 

Turns out, this is an incompatibility (related to session storage) that has only been fixed in the 5.2 snapshot, download that version of phpmyadmin and everything should be fine

Playing games after 20 years

I haven’t played any games in 20 years, up until early this month, I played a simple game on my phone, nice, but I’m not addicted, no urge to pick up the phone

So, having no windows PC of my own, i decided to install the open source supertuxkart on my debian (gnome) machine

the game is a joke compared to modern day graphics and physics, but it is fun, with things like bombs and banana skins and stuff, i don’t think i will be playing it often, but there you have it

Resume bad blocks where it was stopped

The answer to this should be simple, I initiated the test with

badblocks -nsv /dev/sdb

, first, interrupt bad blocks with ctrl+c, the output should be

Checking for bad blocks in non-destructive read-write mode
From block 0 to 1953514583
Checking for bad blocks (non-destructive read-write test)
Testing with random pattern:   0.92% done, 49:38 elapsed. (0/0/0 errors)
 21.32% done, 18:49:24 elapsed. (0/0/0 errors)

Interrupted at block 416437376

Interrupt caught, cleaning up

Okay, so we know what blocks it was supposed to check (1 through 1953514583), and where it was interrupted (416437376)

So i will ask it to resume testing from where it finished (-1), up to the end

badblocks -nsv /dev/sdb 1953514583 416437375

n = Non destructive
s = Show progress
v = tell us about what you find !

The new run should tell you the percentage correctly, but the time counter will be reset to zero, as it is only counting how long this run has been running for

One thing to note is that bad blocks can be used to instruct the filesystem to avoid the bad blocks, but it also allows the disk’s firmware to substitute bad blocks with spare blocks, so that the disk works again with no intervention from your end !

So for my 2TB hard drive…

416437375 = 21% (13 hours)
619014719 = 31.6% (+23:22)
627995199 = 32.15% (+1:04)
667782398 = 34.18% (+4:46)
715469885 = 36.62% (+5:44)
827834875 = 42.38%

While running the tests, you might want to keep an eye on the hard drive temperature with a command like

hddtemp /dev/sdb

To create a log file of the bad blocks, every run should have it’s own file !

badblocks -nsv -o /root/badblocks3.txt /dev/sdb 1953514583 627995198

The concatenation of those files you are creating is very useful in creating a file system if you ever decide to format the drive later !, but the recommended way is using badblocks with the other disk tools directly

while the test is running, you will see 3 numbers that correspond to readerror/writeerror/corruptionerror

Making a video smaller

A couple of hours ago, i received a video that is 50 frames per second, and compressed in H264, the video was 58MB, and she wanted it less than 15 to send it via email, the video was 1:45 long, so i re-encoded it in H-265 but she had a problem playing it (No codec), so i decided to re-encode it with VP9 (webm).

to arrive at a number less than 10, i needed to be encoding at around 1 MegaBIT per second, now, to do this, I made a 2pass encoding with ffmpeg as follows

ffmpeg -i source.mp4 -c:v libvpx-vp9 -b:v 1M -filter:v fps=25 -pass 1 -an -f null /dev/null && \
ffmpeg -i source.mp4 -c:v libvpx-vp9 -b:v 1M -filter:v fps=25 -pass 2 -c:a libopus out.webm

The first pass collects statistics about the source video in a text log file, the second pass encodes the new video, from the options above, i have taken the frame rate to 25fps (from 50), and instead of defining the crf, i simply told ffmpeg what the biterate I need is, which is 1Mbit per second (Every 8 seconds, 1 MBYTE)

The previous one, H-265 was done with the command

ffmpeg -i source264.mp4 -c:v libx265 -crf 28 -preset fast -c:a aac -b:a 128k  -filter:v fps=25 out265.mp4

the H265 was smaller due to the crf factor used, as well as the lower frame rate

webP is the new PNG

Superior in both Lossless compression, and Lossy compression, webp is the new image format by google

Already supported by all web browsers *(that i have tested it with), webP is indeed a promising format, so let us get to compressing our images

I have a big bunch of bitmaps that my scanner spits out (To avoid lossy jpeg compression the scanner’s driver produces), and i need them converted to lossless webp to save space (the first image I compressed went from 552MB bitmap to 183), that is 33% of the original size

So, under linux, this is how i would convert all BMPs into webp images, I think it is exectly the same on windows

on the command line, the command for compressing one image looks like

cwebp -lossless 00.bmp -o 00.webp

Now, the next step is to run them in a batch, copy the following text into a file and name it with the extension

Installing MacOS in a virtual machine (KVM) under linux

This is a simple task, and it is only simple because of foxlet (@FoxletFox on twitter)

Anyway, let us get to setting it up, to begin with, you don’t need to download MacOS, when using foxlet’s macOS-Simple-KVM, your virtual machine downloads MacOS on it’s own

Step 1: Make sure you have KVM ! and the relevant tools

apt-get install qemu-kvm libvirt-daemon qemu-system qemu-utils python3 python3-pip bridge-utils virtinst libvirt-daemon-system virt-manager

You know, the usual kvm setup ;), I am hoping you already have KVM, if not, see this post and install KVM first

Now that you have kvm, you need to insure that vhost_net is installed, loaded and enabled

modprobe vhost_net
lsmod | grep vhost

You will also need git to download macOS-Simple-KVM

git
git clone https://github.com/foxlet/macOS-Simple-KVM.git

Now, download MacOS base image that will download the rest of the operating system (catalina is the latest ?) options in that script are –high-sierra, –mojave, or –catalina.

./jumpstart.sh --catalina

Audio Video Libraries at home DLNA etc

This is basically a comparison of free sofwtare that you can install on your NAS or headless linux machine, I am using Debian Bullseye, but that is besides the point

To run webm files (VP9) through miniDLNA, all you need to do is rename the file !

My atom PC (D525) is not capable of transcoding on the fly, so i keep it, and i wrote a script to execute the following command for webm video files (and any other unsupported file) by browsing to the file in the web browser, then clicking on it, a simple script but explaining how to install it is going to take some times with permissions and server config, so i will probably be posting it online and explaining in a different post when i have the time

ffmpeg -y -i output.webm -c:v libx265 -b:v 2600k -x265-params pass=1 -an -f null /dev/null && \
ffmpeg -i input -c:v libx265 -b:v 2600k -x265-params pass=2 -c:a aac -b:a 128k TEMP_OUTPUT.mp4

the most popular of the bunch is MiniDLNA, it does not transcode, and on openWRT it does not even serve video, so it is a good option when you have a PC storing the files, and you don’t need transcoding on the fly ! for some devices that are capable of running VP9 like modern 4K TVs,all you need to do is rename the file !

Universal Media Server : Universal Media Server is a DLNA-compliant UPnP Media Server. It was originally based on PS3 Media Server by shagrath.

OSMC

Streama: Self hosted streaming media server.

Gerbera: Free UPnP media server based on MediaTomb