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From Heroes to Zeroes: a pair of Reolink C1 PRO cameras

On 2019-07-17, I ordered a Reolink C1 PRO IP camera, which would be delivered on 2019-07-22. On the same day, hours after having arrived, I configured and installed the camera. It worked fine until 2019-08-03, when it stopped working during the night. In the next morning, I found it stuck in a step of its PTZ program (Pan, Tilt, Zoom), unable to proceed to the next point.
Now, it just reboots itself, but it never completes the boot sequence; it does not request an IP address from the router, and just restarts again in a matter of seconds. It is unusable. Resets do nothing.

I had no option: I requested a full refund and will be returning the item to the seller (Amazon). In other times, this would mean an instant money credit, but these days it is necessary to wait for the item to arrive back to Amazon and be “processed”, which for an international buyer can translate to one month of waiting. My view is that the quality of the “Amazon buying experience” has been declining.

The Reolink C1 PRO is a 1440p IP camera. It looks good on paper, it provides a high quality video feed, and it theoretically features functions such as SD Card and FTP recording. I only wanted reliability and a high quality image, and achieved so for a couple of weeks, using both the “iSpy” and the “Blue Iris” software solutions. The software does all the hard work: it detects motion, it records video, it captures time-lapse snapshots, and it can programmatically send PTZ commands, so the camera can “patrol” an area. It is crucial that the software does the recording, because this Reolink model, contrary to others I own (models 410 and 411), was never able to record to the SD Card, nor able to upload files to a FTP server. I decided to accept these unexpected limitations because my approach is software-centered and the image quality was very good.

After one week of running the C1 PRO, happy with its image quality, I ordered a second identical camera. As I write, this second camera is still working, but I will also be returning it. The problem this time, is the number (and intensity) of bad pixels. The bad pixels are too many and too obvious. This is very surprising and frustrating. The reason I had confidently acquired a pair of C1 PROs, is the robust functioning, for 2+ years, of my outdoors IP cameras, of the same brand.

Now, with two consecutive unfortunate Reolink experiences, my confidence on Reolink is shaken.

Here is what is NOT explicitly written in the manuals, nor in the reviews (“commercials”?) I have read so far, about all my Reolink cameras (models 410, 411 and C1 PRO):

  • These cameras provide two video streams, usually named “clear” and “fluent”. The streams can be configured to an extent, but “clear” is the high resolution, high bandwidth stream; while “fluent” is the low resolution, lower quality version. Assuming the camera’s sensor comes with no dead pixels, the image quality can be very high when encoded at the highest possible bitrate, but in order to achieve a stable network resource, with no stream interruptions/loss of signal, it will be necessary to configure the camera’s “clear” video to a frame rate of no more than 4 fps.
  • I also find it helpful to encode with the “H264 baseline profile” and not with the “high profile”, because the latter demands more from the camera’s CPU (it provides higher compression, at the cost of extra processing time). The encoder settings are fundamental to those wanting the maximum quality combined with a stable network operation; neglect them and the camera will occasionally drop the connection.
  • On the C1 PRO, it is not possible to turn off the WiFi. I always connect via cable, and would appreciate an option to completely disable the WiFi radio. Such option does not exist.

So, a bad day for my pocket and cameras system.

URLs "p1" 20190801 – 69 VHQ resources

I am an avid WWW surfer, with hundreds of websites visited each month, sometimes daily. I bookmark them all, at least for logging purposes. These posts having the "urls" category, capture what was on my browser on a specific date. I hope you enjoy some of these shared resources.


Bye Janetter, Hello TweetDuck!

For years and years, Janetter (https://twitter.com/Janetter_jp) was my window to Twitter. Instead of using Twitter via a Web browser, or via apps for mobile devices, I used Twitter via Janetter, for Windows 7 desktop PCs. It worked great: it presented me a continuous stream of tweets, as tweeted by those I am following, without issues, without ads, without distracting discussion threads, allowing its user to consume what was being produced, without interferences.

At some stage in history, there was a good collection of clients for Twitter, for Windows 7 desktop PCs (Janetter alternatives); I used all of the following:

  • MetroTwit
  • Seesmic/
  • TweetDeck
  • DestroyTwitter
  • SharedMinds Desktop

Janetter remained my favorite, for different reasons. These days none of the alternatives mentioned exist, with the exception of TweetDeck, which is more of a subscription service to manage your social presence, and not exactly a plain Twitter consumer, so it does not count.
I remember that TweetDeck (in its early days, when it was mostly a Twitter client), Seesmic, MetroTwit and DestroyTwitter, were not as efficient in managing screen space, wasting panes and pixels in “good looks”, that could not present as many and as readable tweets, as Janetter did. SharedMinds got close to Janetter, but still did not win my preference.

Roughly, two years ago, Twitter made significant changes in the way other software can access Twitter users’ data, and interact with the social network via its official API. Those changes were a death sentence for nearly all the existing Windows desktop Twitter clients. Users, who had already authorized apps, could keep using them – I kept using Janetter -, but new users were not possible.

Since Janetter satisfied me, I never felt the true impact of that Twitter change: my client kept working fine.

This went on, until this Monday, 2019-07-29, when Janetter suddenly died with the sentence: “cannot connect to Twitter”. I tweeted about it:
https://twitter.com/my_dot_com/status/1155921178097332226

In a matter of hours, it became clear that Janetter, at least for PC, was gone. Something either on Janetter’s network or on its interface to Twitter had been plugged-off. It was time to find an alternative.

I was very pessimistic: I assumed there would be nothing working the way I like. My first searches for alternatives intensified that suspicion: pointers and pointers to software that no longer works, that is no longer supported, and/or that is not available for Windows 7 desktop.
With the same ease that I feared the worse (which would be to use Twitter via a Web browser), I found the wonderful “TweetDuck”!

TweetDuck is a perfect Janetter alternative, with the advantage of handling embedded media better; it is also superior in communicating expanded URLs to the browser.

Therefore, a new era begins for my Twitter consumption, now using TweetDuck!

One final note: Google fails miserably in searching for “download TweetDuck”, guiding you to aggregator sites.

Here is the URL of the official site for TweetDuck:
https://tweetduck.chylex.com/

This is open source software, with source at GitHub:
https://github.com/chylex/TweetDuck

URLs "p1" 20190730 – 83 VHQ resources

I am an avid WWW surfer, with hundreds of websites visited each month, sometimes daily. I bookmark them all, at least for logging purposes. These posts having the "urls" category, capture what was on my browser on a specific date. I hope you enjoy some of these shared resources.


Netflix selection 20190728

Netflix selection 20190728

I regularly browse Netflix in search of content that I might watch, one day.

My preference goes for documentaries. These days, I loathe most fiction, including “Strangers Things” and “Black Mirror”, which I once adored, but that now fail to capture my aw, due to lack of originality, lack of credibility, vulgar acting, etc.

I am convinced that most, if not all, of the following documentaries will be time well invested into learning history, having contact with alternative perspectives, and/or knowing formidable people.

At the end the post, there is a sequence of snapshots taken from each program’s Netflix page. Whenever possible, I have also included hyperlinks to the program’s Netflix page and to the corresponding IMDB file, but not all content is on IMDB.

Women at War 1914-1918
“Trace the overlapping journeys of exceptional women swept up in World War I and hear their tales of bravery on history’s front lines.”
https://www.netflix.com/watch/80230465

Women at War 1939-1945
“Mothers, nurses, soldiers and deportees — these women fought against persecution for freedom and survival amid the turbulence of World War II.”
https://www.netflix.com/watch/80230555

Unrest
“In this heart-wrenching documentary, a 28-year-old Ph.D. student turns the camera on herself to capture her struggles with chronic fatigue syndrome.”
https://www.netflix.com/watch/80168300
https://www.imdb.com/title/tt3268850

Behind the Cove
“After a documentary about the Japanese whaling industry garnered international attention, an amateur filmmaker decides to tell the rest of the story.”
https://www.netflix.com/watch/80132127
https://www.imdb.com/title/tt5014146

Eve’s Apple
“Interviews with global policymakers and girls in Gambia and Kenya detail the horrors of female genital mutilation and the growing efforts to end it.”
https://www.netflix.com/watch/80202713

Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable (2017)
“This cinematic journey into the waters off East Africa chronicles the story behind artist Damien Hirst’s massive exhibition of oceanic treasures.”
https://www.netflix.com/watch/80217857
https://www.imdb.com/title/tt6980988

Born Strong
“Four 400-pound giants fight for the crown at the Arnold Strongman Classic and offer a glimpse into their lives leading up to the competition.”
https://www.netflix.com/watch/80210716
https://www.imdb.com/title/tt7582508



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                URLs "p1" 20190728 – 73 resources

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                My plants are 1 month old

                It is now 1 month since I first ventured into growing a few plants, starting with a hydroponics kit with six slots.
                Last week, two of the plants have outgrown the kit and now live in their own vase. Their slots have been occupied by two mystery pods – I do not know what will grow from them, if anything at all, because the pods were missing labels, by mistake of the seller.

                The starting kit included the following plants, here listed with their original labels, including each plant’s sprout window and if it they are “tall”, “medium” or “short”:

                • Thai Basil (sprouts in 4-7 days) Tall
                • Genovese Basil (sprouts in 6-12 days) Tall
                • Dill (sprouts in 8-21 days)
                • Mint (sprouts in 6-10 days) Medium
                • Thyme (sprouts in 7-14 days) Short
                • Curly Parsley (sprouts in 21-28 days) Short

                The two plants that have outgrown the kit and now live in their own vase are the “Thai Basil” and the “Dill”.

                Here are the Portuguese names for the plants:

                • Thai Basil = Manjericão da Tailândia
                • Genovese Basil = Manjericão de Génova (cidade Italiana)
                • Dill = Aneto
                • Mint = Hortelã
                • Thyme = Tomilho
                • Curly Parsley = Salsa encaracolada

                The idea of growing these plants is to learn, to experience a bit of hydroponics and plant growing, and then use some as food!
                I think the Thai basil and the dill are big enough to survive a small pruning, so I Googled for related home recipes.

                For Thai basil:
                https://www.yummly.com/recipes/fresh-thai-basil-leaves

                For dill:
                https://www.tasteofhome.com/collection/fresh-dill-recipes/

                Finally, here are six sets of three pictures each; capturing three different stages of growth of the original six plants. From left to right, the first picture is on 2019-06-25 (“planting day”), the second on 2019-07-06, the third and final on 2019-07-26.



                curly_parsley_evo20190625_20190706_20190726.png
                https://arturmarques.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/curly_parsley_evo20190625_20190706_20190726.png (image/png)

                curly_parsley_evo20190625_20190706_20190726.png


                diil_evo20190625_20190706_20190726.png
                https://arturmarques.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/diil_evo20190625_20190706_20190726.png (image/png)

                diil_evo20190625_20190706_20190726.png


                genovese_basil_evo20190625_20190706_20190726.png
                https://arturmarques.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/genovese_basil_evo20190625_20190706_20190726.png (image/png)

                genovese_basil_evo20190625_20190706_20190726.png


                mint_evo20190625_20190706_20190726.png
                https://arturmarques.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/mint_evo20190625_20190706_20190726.png (image/png)

                mint_evo20190625_20190706_20190726.png


                thai_basil_evo20190625_20190706_20190726.png
                https://arturmarques.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/thai_basil_evo20190625_20190706_20190726.png (image/png)

                thai_basil_evo20190625_20190706_20190726.png


                thyme_evo20190625_20190706_20190726.png
                https://arturmarques.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/thyme_evo20190625_20190706_20190726.png (image/png)

                thyme_evo20190625_20190706_20190726.png

                Technical Details

                Listening to Until Ben – "Binaries Traveller"

                Mostly electronic music, exactly how I like it: it is “electronic” in the sense of heavily created with computer-assisted techniques, but it features vocals (chorus), acoustic instruments (synthetized, I suppose), non-recurring events for a more credible “atmosphere” or “landscaping” of the audio stage, exotic audio patterns that don’t remember me of anyone else – an indicator of originality.

                The overall creation denotes rich creativity. It works; it is effective in bringing the listener to a different dimension. Very well done.

                The midnight bread

                I just baked a mixed flour bread, using a Panasonic machine.
                The recipes that come with the now 3+ years old machine are very good in general, except for the “mixed” flour I can buy at the local supermarket.
                The risk with most flours is that they might come with undeclared already pre-added ferment, and/or pre-added sugar, and/or pre-added salt, and the unknown quantities of those components can greatly interfere with the bread-making algorithm! Panasonic (or the industrial group that owns it) has one of the very first patents on the process of bread making: among other details, it describes the shape of the blade that will work on the mass and the times (start and duration) of crucial events, namely when to drop the ferment and for how long to spin the blade.
                I get very good results with the original recipe for bread from wheat flour (“rapid white bread”), very good results with the original recipe for bread from rye flour, but not so good results with the recipe for bread from a mix of wheat and rye.
                If I follow the original recipe strictly, either the bread grows too much or it collapses at the top; in both cases, it ends up being much softer than I would appreciate.
                I suppose that part of the complication with “mixed” flour is not knowing the relative parts of wheat and rye in the composition, or even not knowing which cereals at present at all! In my case, I know that the mix if from wheat and rye, but I cannot find the distribution, so I just trust that it is 50%/50%.

                After many experiments, my best results are achieved like this:

                1. put 220 grams of mixed flour into the volume that will enter the machine;
                2. add three spoons of olive oil (no butter);
                3. no sugar at all;
                4. one teaspoon of salt, or no salt at all;
                5. on top of that add another ~220 grams of mixed flour;
                6. add 330 ml of water;
                7. put the volume inside the machine;
                8. pick the right program number for bread from mixed flour (program 07 in my case);
                9. close the machine’s cover;
                10. put 1 + 1/2 teaspoons of ferment into the ferment compartment;
                11. start the program;
                12. it will end in 3 hours and 30 minutes.

                It worked for me. Now I am going to bed – tomorrow morning I’ll have fresh bread and the kitchen will smell great 🙂

                URLs "p1" 20190726 – 68 resources

                I am an avid WWW surfer, with hundreds of websites visited each month, sometimes daily. I bookmark them all, at least for logging purposes. These posts having the "urls" category, capture what was on my browser on a specific date. I hope you enjoy some of these shared resources.