All posts by rbowen

reMarkable2: RemaPy

In my last post, O my Best Beloved, I mentioned that I got a reMarkable2.

Ok, to the geekier stuff. If you’re using reMarkable2 with Linux, you’ll immediately discover that the official desktop tool is for Windows only. This is a little surprising given that the reMarkable2 itself runs Linux:

But, the consumer market is what it is. So, what are we to do?

The first solution that I have tried is RemaPy, which is a Python-based desktop client that provides basic functionality.

The app interacts with the reMarkable Cloud, *not* directly with your tablet, so you don’t even need to connect the tablet to your computer. (If you don’t trust The Cloud, there’s other solutions to that, but, for the moment, we’ll assume that you’re using a standard setup.)

What it does:

You can browse the files that your tablet has sync’ed to the cloud. You can download/view any of them. You can delete any of the files. And you can take a full local snapshot (ie, backup) of what’s on your tablet.

What it does not do:

It appears that the app does *not* give you a way to put files onto your tablet. For that you’ll need repush.sh from the reHackable scripts, or perhaps one of the other tools I haven’t tried yet.

So, it’s not everything I want, but it’s definitely the place to get started.

Tune in later as I discover more tools for making this device an integral part of my daily workflow.

 

reMarkable2

Way back in July, I ordered the new reMarkable2 tablet, and got into shipping batch 8, which was predicted to ship in early November.

It arrived a couple of days ago, and I have already moved all of my paper note-taking to it. Indeed, my biggest complaint with it is that I am no longer using my fancy fountain pens and notebooks. And I have been a fountain pen, notebook, snob for more than 30 years.

You can read about the device, if you’re interested, at the above link. The short version is that it’s a linux-based e-ink device that is optimized for pen note taking, and doesn’t really do anything else.

Which is exactly what I was looking for.

If your first response is that you can get an iPad for the same price – yeah, that’s true, and it does more, but it’s not what I was looking for. I wanted something that feels like paper, lets me take notes, and then converts them to text on demand.

And it does a few other things.

More importantly, it has a large hacker community around it who produce a wide variety of other tools for the device. Since this is the second version of the device, there’s already a large number of open source projects out there. And it’s growing rapidly.

So, initial take on it is that I’m very pleased with it, and recommend it for folks that prefer paper note taking to typing, but are frustrated that once something’s on paper it’s not easy to import that information into other formats.

Democracy is guarded by an army of old ladies

I worked election day voting machine service for many years. Here’s why I find claims of election-day fraud so completely unbelievable.

What that entails is showing up at the county court house at 5am, and hanging out there all day. Any time one of the voting machines failed in any way, I would be rushed out to the polling station in a police car, and had to fix the machine, while being watched by angry voters and election day officials.

The machines were very reliable, and so this was largely a day spent reading, in the court house waiting room. But those trips out to the polling stations were always stressful and exciting.

One thing I learned, though, is that election day voter fraud is *enormously* unlikely.

Every action that is taken at the polling stations, as well as during the vote counting, is watched over by (at least) two election officials, one from each political party on the ballot. These officials are usually senior citizens who know everyone in the county. They also know each other, and have argued with each other about politics for decades. They are looking for a reason to throw you out of the polling station, and if they see the slightest sign of something fishy, they will absolutely do so. And they are watching each other, with great suspicion, waiting for their counterpart to do something wrong.

Also, everything that happens in the polling station, or in the court house at the end of the day, requires each officer to sign something. Open the spare voting machine? 4 signatures. Close a defective voting machine? 4 signatures and a zip tie (and sign the zip tie). Checking a voter’s ID? Everybody has to have a look. Was the voter someone related to the election official? Call over all the other officials in the room to sign something, in case there’s nepotism.

Our democracy is guarded by an army of little old ladies, who consider this their highest duty of the entire year, and they are *not* going to let you get away with anything. (No, they’re not all senior citizens, and they’re not all women, but most of them are.)

In order to commit election-day voter fraud, you’d have to have both a Republican and Democrat election-day official in on it.

When I showed up to service a machine, I could be sure that I would be glared at, asked questions about every single thing that I was doing, and I would be expected to narrate every step, in detail, so that there was no question as to what I was doing. They didn’t trust me. They didn’t trust each other. And they verified every single step.

If at any point they challenged anything I did, my instructions were to stop, call the Sheriff and have him/her call the election commission in Frankfort, and wait for their instructions. Fortunately, it never came to that.

Note: 95% of the time, what I had to do was turn it off and on again. If a machine didn’t work, your best bet was power-cycle, and then swap out the spare. The machines were sealed and didn’t really have any user-serviceable parts other than swapping out the print cartridge and paper tape. Every vote was written to 2 hard drives and some kind of solid-state memory cartridge. The audit process was to press the “Close Poll” button again and have it print the tape again.

Caveats: This was Kentucky, circa 12-15 years ago or so. The exact machines in question were provided by Harp Enterprises, and looking at https://elect.ky.gov/Resources/Pages/Voting-Systems.aspx it appears that they are no longer in service. The newer machines – the eSlate machines that I used voted on last year (I voted by mail this year) are something I have no experience with. I understand that some of the newer machines have network access, either wired or wifi. I consider that a pretty stupid design decision, but I also expect that security is a pretty high priority on the engineering teams that work on these things.

Who do they think they’re fooling?

 
Imagine being willing to tell a lie that you don’t even believe yourself, and throw away not on your personal legacy but that of the nation, in exchange for … what? A little short-term fundraising? “Make the liberals cry” for a few more days? A few more moments of ego?
 
We are well beyond the point where any rational person can actually believe that Trump won. This is profoundly disingenuous, and is actively doing damage to our nation. And for what? What are they getting out of this?
 
This is truly pathetic.
 
(A preemptive reminder that Clinton called Trump to concede on Wednesday, the day after election day, in 2016, so don’t pretend for even one moment that this is just the same as what Democrats did four years ago. It’s not, and you know it.)

Morning run… ish

I attempted to run this morning and it was a sad failure. 11-minute miles and my legs have been protesting all day. But the bike is still getting repaired and I have to do something so I don’t break my marvelous new exercise habit. Just a few more days and I’ll have the bike back.

Flat tire

On Friday I took my bike in to get the brakes and gears serviced. I was planning to borrow Z’s bike for a couple days.

About a mile out this morning a back tire started going bumpity bumpity. Flat tire. I had to walk the rest of the way home and I decided to complete the loop anyway.

And it’s got a pretty significant hole in it. It’s pretty obvious when you try to pump it up. So now I am without a bike for a week, and I can’t take Z’s bike in to get serviced until Tuesday. So I’m not sure what I’m going to do in the morning.

It’s weird because the last few times I tried to start biking I really didn’t get into it. And now that I have to take a few days off I’m really irritated.

Bigger fish

This is something that both irritates and perplexes me – people who, when faced with a proposal for a positive change, respond with “aren’t there bigger problems to solve?”

Almost nobody has the power and influence to solve the big problems. Those that do, for the most part, are using that power to enrich themselves, not to solve those big problems.

All big changes are comprised of hundreds or thousands of small changes. Most of us only have the power to make those small changes. To discourage people wishing to make small changes, because there are bigger problems which they cannot solve, is defeatist nonsense.

Solve the problem that’s in front of you. Ignore the people who tell you you should be using your time and energy to solve other things. Be who you are. Use the tools you have, not those that you don’t.

Tyranny grows on live TV

Two days ago the President of the United States, angered that the media had reported that he was hiding in his basement, ordered peaceful protesters in front of the White House to be dispersed, using tear gas and rubber bullets, so that he could cross the street to stand in front of St. John’s Church and have his photo taken holding a Bible. This was both a flagrant violation of the First Amendment, and a shameless use of the Church and the Bible – neither of which he has anything to do with – to support his personal image.

I provide that paragraph because I’m sure, looking back on this in 10 years, the context will be blurry, and it will be hard to believe that this really happened. When my sister told me, Monday night, that it had just happened, I thought it was the setup for a joke.

And, yet, the narrative has gone exactly the way we could have predicted. They were violent rioters. (The video footage proves this to be false.) They attacked the police. (Again, not true.) It wasn’t actually tear gas. (Hundreds of people that were there say that it was.) The incident was simply coincidental to the President’s little walk, and not done specifically so he could get his photo op. The President didn’t order it himself. The entire thing was faked with videos from elsewhere and put together in a studio.

A few Republican Senators have made vague disapproving noises. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has made her expected snarky remark. Elizabeth Warren and Nancy Pelosi have made strongly worded statements.

And in the midst of it all, the President has managed to make the narrative about him, rather than about the protest themselves, and the gross injustices that they are are calling out.

Each time, the President’s actions are less defensible. And each time, his supporters’ defenses are easier and easier lies. They’re barely even trying any more, because they know that nothing will be done. They know that the Senate is firmly under his thumb, because of their insatiable greed for power and reelection.

This is only going to get worse, as long as Donald Trump occupies the White House.