Building Kawpowminer From Source on Ubuntu 20.04 Linux

I wanted to build kawpowminer from source so I could mine some Ravencoin. I ran into some issues getting it to build, so I’m documenting them here in case anyone else runs into the same problems.

Let’s assume you’ve gotten past the part where you install all of the dev libraries you need (cuda, etc) and are trying to get the kawpowminer source to build (if you miss a library, it’s generally pretty obvious from googling the build error which one you need to add and then try again).

git clone https://github.com/RavenCommunity/kawpowminer
cd kawpowminer
git submodule update --init --recursive
cmake .

It’s at this point that you’re likely to see an error.

CMake Error: The following variables are used in this project, but they are set to NOTFOUND.
Please set them or make sure they are set and tested correctly in the CMake files:
CUDA_cuda_LIBRARY
linked by target "ethash-cuda" in directory /home/xangis/code/kawpowminer/libethash-cuda
CUDA_nvrtc_LIBRARY
linked by target "ethash-cuda" in directory /home/xangis/code/kawpowminer/libethash-cuda

-- Configuring incomplete, errors occurred!

To get past this, you’ll need to find where your libcuda.so and libnvrtc.so files are. I install mlocate on my machines so I can do “locate libcuda.so” to find the file location. Once you’ve found (or installed) them, add the file locations to the cmake command line like so:

cmake . -DETHASHCUDA=ON -DETHASHCL=ON -DCUDA_cuda_LIBRARY=/usr/lib/x86_64-linux-gnu/libcuda.so -DCUDA_nvrtc_LIBRARY=/usr/lib/x86_64-linux-gnu/libnvrtc.so

CMake should run for a while and do a bunch of things. Eventually you’ll be ready to run “make” to create the final build of the app. Except, it doesn’t like the default Ubuntu gcc v9 install. It’s too new:

[ 64%] Building NVCC (Device) object libethash-cuda/CMakeFiles/ethash-cuda.dir/ethash-cuda_generated_CUDAMiner_cuda.cu.o
In file included from /usr/include/cuda_runtime.h:83,
from :
/usr/include/crt/host_config.h:138:2: error: #error -- unsupported GNU version! gcc versions later than 8 are not supported!
138 | #error -- unsupported GNU version! gcc versions later than 8 are not supported!
| ^~~~~
CMake Error at ethash-cuda_generated_CUDAMiner_cuda.cu.o.Release.cmake:220 (message):
Error generating
/home/xangis/code/kawpowminer/libethash-cuda/CMakeFiles/ethash-cuda.dir//./ethash-cuda_generated_CUDAMiner_cuda.cu.o

make[2]: *** [libethash-cuda/CMakeFiles/ethash-cuda.dir/build.make:65: libethash-cuda/CMakeFiles/ethash-cuda.dir/ethash-cuda_generated_CUDAMiner_cuda.cu.o] Error 1
make[1]: *** [CMakeFiles/Makefile2:513: libethash-cuda/CMakeFiles/ethash-cuda.dir/all] Error 2
make[1]: *** Waiting for unfinished jobs....
[ 66%] Linking CXX static library libpoolprotocols.a
[ 66%] Built target poolprotocols
make: *** [Makefile:152: all] Error 2
xangis@spica:~/code/kawpowminer$ gcc --version
gcc (Ubuntu 9.3.0-17ubuntu1~20.04) 9.3.0
Copyright (C) 2019 Free Software Foundation, Inc.
This is free software; see the source for copying conditions. There is NO
warranty; not even for MERCHANTABILITY or FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE.

To get around this, you’ll need to install an older version of gcc. I went back to version 7 because I didn’t want to worry about installing v8.1 for example, and then being told that it won’t work because it’s a version later than 8.

sudo apt-get install gcc-7 g++-7

Now you have two versions of GCC installed, and your system won’t use the older one. There are a few ways to switch them (including update-alternatives), but the quickest way is to remove the /usr/bin/gcc link to gcc-9 and replace it with one to gcc-7.

sudo rm /usr/bin/gcc
sudo ln -s /usr/bin/gcc-7 /usr/bin/gcc

Now if you run “make”, you won’t get the error message about your gcc being too new. You’ll probably want to reverse this change after you’re done building, unless you want to keep using the older version of GCC, which you might want to do if you’ll be working on the kawpowminer code.

sudo rm /usr/bin/gcc
sudo ln -s /usr/bin/gcc-9 /usr/bin/gcc

I Set Up a Ravencoin Node

I have a handful of mostly-idle Ubuntu servers, so I decided to set up a Ravencoin node on one of them.

I used this tutorial by Tron Black for the setup. (Warning: Medium is now a paywall site)

At the risk of repeating, this is how I set up a node on my Ubuntu 20.04 server (from my user home directory):

wget https://github.com/RavenProject/Ravencoin/releases/download/v4.3.2.1/raven-4.3.2.1-x86_64-linux-gnu.zip
unzip raven-4.3.2.1-x86_64-linux-gnu.zip
cd linux
gunzip raven-4.3.2.1-x86_64-linux-gnu.tar.gz
tar xf raven-4.3.2.1-x86_64-linux-gnu.tar

Yes, we have a gzipped file inside of a zip file. That’s a little odd, but not a big deal.

cd raven-4.3.2.1/
sudo ln -s ~/raven-4.3.2.1/bin/raven-cli /usr/bin/raven-cli
sudo ln -s ~/raven-4.3.2.1/bin/ravend /usr/bin/ravend
ravend -daemon -maxconnections=10000

Wait a few seconds.

ps aux|grep ravend

The process should show up if the daemon started successfully. Running it manually like that means it’ll have to be restarted if the machine restarts, but this one has an uptime of 181 days, so that’s not a frequent occurrence.

Now to check status:

raven-cli getnetworkinfo

Outputs:

{
"version": 4030201,
"subversion": "/Ravencoin:4.3.2.1/",
"protocolversion": 70028,
...
"connections": 25,
...
"localaddresses": [
{
"address": "216.151.2.51",
"port": 8767,
"score": 1472
}
],
}

I trimmed out a bunch of extra stuff for the sake of space (thus “…”), but the important things to see are that it’s using the right IP address and that there’s a positive number of connections (25). It’s working! I’m very curious what the “score” is for, though. It’s not always the same.

I waited a day or so to see whether it shows up on the raven nodes site, and it does.

Ravencoin Node in Portland Area

As far as I know, you don’t actually get any direct benefit from running a raven node (transaction fees, etc), it just keeps things running smoothly on the Raven network.

Essentially, you’ve left water out for the birds, but they’re not going to bring you shiny things. But, it never hurts to have some goodwill from the ravens.

You can always RVN me at RRWHrajdjJV7kKdZoeRFbKHkEeuh9jBKR4

First Steps Mining Ravencoin

I don’t have a gaming rig. I don’t even have a desktop computer. So, how am I going to be able to mine any kind of cryptocurrency? Fat chance.

Well, it turns out that if you have a fairly powerful laptop video card, you can mine Ravencoin. I have a GeForce 1650 Max-Q, which gets about 5.6 MH/s with the KAWPoW algorithm used for Ravencoin. I used kawpowminer on Windows, but there are plenty of other options for both Windows and Linux.

How did I decide what mining pool to use?

Well, I checked MiningPoolStats to find the most popular ones. 2Miners and Flypool were at the top of the list, but I checked out their websites and I didn’t care for the look and feel of them. After checking a few more, I settled on miningpoolhub. Their website has a clean look, it’s easy to set up payouts, and they have a nice view of your stats with the important info up front.

I’ve been running for a few days and so far I’ve been getting about 5 RVN per day. It’s not a lot — only 60 cents worth — but it’s enough to make it feel like I’m making progress. The computer was going to be on anyway, so I might as well get some use out of it.

Don’t be afraid to try a few different mining pools. The interfaces, fees, payout frequency, coin conversion, and other features vary considerably.

You can always RVN me at RRWHrajdjJV7kKdZoeRFbKHkEeuh9jBKR4

Finding Good Cryptocurrency

It’s been about seven years since I’ve paid any attention to the world of cryptocurrency. A lot has changed since then. There are now THOUSANDS of coins in the world. How do you figure out which ones to pay attention to?

I started by checking the coin ratings at isthiscoinascam.com. I only gave serious attention to coins rated at least 6.0 (Good), which at the time of this writing is 67 coins. I also looked at some of the coins rated between 5.0 and 6.0 (Above Average), but only if they had names that sounded interesting. For the most part there wasn’t much worth looking at below 6.0.

For each of those coins, I took a look at the profile and statistics at coinmarketcap.com. I eliminated anything that had a focus that didn’t seem very interesting to me, anything that looked like it had peaked and was on the decline, or anything that had numbers that didn’t look right to me.

That left a handful of coins that seemed like they were worth holding as investments (to me). I’m not looking for insane 10x+ returns, but rather some solid growth over the next few years. In other words, I’m looking for assets rather than lottery tickets.

The ones I decided that I wanted to hold some of are:

Algorand (ALGO)
Bitcoin (BTC)
Cardano (ADA)
Cosmos (ATOM)
Dash (DASH)
Ethereum (ETH)
Litecoin (LTC)
Monero (XMR)
Polkadot (DOT)
Ravencoin (RVN)
Stellar (XLM)
Tezos (XTZ)
ZCash (ZEC)

Honorable mentions (things I’ll consider getting) are:

Aave (AAVE)
Chainlink (LINK)
Polygon (MATIC)
Solana (SOL)

Of the good choices, the one that seems to have the most potential is Ravencoin. I’ll have to look into that in more detail.

With 13 coins in the list of things I want to hold on to, it should be pretty easy to build a diversified portfolio. Some things will do well, and some won’t, but I think cryptocurrency is still on the rise and chances are good that there will be a significant positive return.

How I Feel About Bitcoin

I am generally pretty indifferent to Bitcoin. Unlike many who think it’s either “the wave of the future” or going to bring about the end times through a global warming apocalypse, I don’t think it’s really all that important other than as a research project.

Bitcoin is Cryptocurrency 1.0. It was an interesting idea that doesn’t have much long-term potential due to its flaws (slow transaction confirmation, high transfer fees, massive energy consumption). That said, you may very well make a profit investing in Bitcoin (BTC). Markets are weird and have many factors, and while Bitcoin itself is not great for small retail transactions, it could still be a valid store of value akin to buying a gold bar. You can’t buy a cup of coffee with a gold bar either. Bitcoin doesn’t seem to be all that interested in further innovation to improve, either, which is why forks like Bitcoin Cash exist.

Ethereum is in a similar situation — as cryptocurrency 2.0, it solved some problems that Bitcoin didn’t, but still has its own issues. Another useful research project, and one that is still innovating and doing new things, but one that will probably not survive as new cryptos evolve.

Newer cryptocurrencies build on the good ideas that Bitcoin and other early-generation cryptocurrency brought to the world, but also solve some other important problems. For example, proof-of-stake-based coins don’t use ASIC mining (which consumes a lot of electricity and contributes to global warming). Many others have a low energy footprint or base themselves on things other than mass computational power. As more environmentally friendly coins come around, the energy-hogging ones will gradually fade.

I don’t see either of them having much long-term usefulness, probably not greater than 20 years, but that doesn’t mean they won’t continue to have value in much the way that antiques do. Ancient Greek and Roman coins can be worth a ton of money, but you can’t and won’t spend them anywhere, at least not directly.

Note: I have about $15 worth of Bitcoin (mainly from loyalty programs), and have both mined and traded Bitcoin years ago.

What Was downloadwindowsprograms.com?

DownloadWindowsPrograms.com was a software download site that I ran (with some interruptions) from 2013-2021.

It offered software downloads for Windows and had a few hundred listings. Listings could be added by submitting a Portable Application Description (PAD) file.

PAD files were an interesting idea that made it much easier for shareware and freeware authors to distribute software, but over time they were co-opted by spammers (especially affiliate link spam) and people who wanted to distribute viruses, so filtering out the bad/useless things was an ever-increasing chore.

My site was an interesting experiment and it got a bit of traffic, but ultimately there’s no real demand for Windows software download sites now that Windows has a proper app store. Even once-massive sites like download.com are struggling. That’s why I shut it down in August 2021.

Now that you’re here, feel free to explore the blog a bit. I have a bunch of websites and music projects I’ve created, and you might find some of them interesting (under the “My Stuff” section of the sidebar).

What Was stampscoinsnotes.com?

StampsCoinsNotes.com was a visual catalog of postage stamps, bank notes, and coins from around the world.

It started as i-collect-it.com back in 2009 when I started scanning stamps from my personal collection. In 2013 I renamed it to stampscoinsnotes.com to get rid of the hyphens and have a more accurate name.

Over the years I added more than 13000 images, with more than 9000 stamps, 2400 coins, and 1200 bank notes.

Honduras 20 Lempira Bank Note from 2014

A 20 lempira bank note from Honduras in 2014.

Here’s a screenshot from archive.org.

It was an interesting project (for me) with viewership that peaked around 2015 and gradually declined, regardless of how many items were added, until it wasn’t worth the effort of maintaining anymore. I shut the site down yesterday.

Now that you’re here, feel free to explore the blog a bit. I have a bunch of websites and music projects I’ve created, and you might find some of them interesting (under the “My Stuff” section of the sidebar).

Thoughts on Bidvertiser

Bidvertiser stands alone in that it is the only Adsense alternative that never made me angry.

It just worked. Setup was easy. There was no shady business, malicious javascript, browser hijacking, popover or popunder ads, push notification nonsense, or other user-alienating tomfoolery.

It’s the only ad network that I experimented with that didn’t make me want to turn on adblock on my own site, which had pretty minimal ads in the first place.

Earnings were terrible, as shown below. My site was a general-purpose non-niche site with global traffic based mostly in India, Pakistan, Turkey, and other non-high-revenue countries for advertising. In addition, the traffic volume was not high enough to attract anyone seeking to buy ads specifically on the site. Given that, take these earnings with a grain (or a bowl) of salt. Earnings would be much higher if your traffic was entirely from the U.S. Even so, the same traffic with Adsense would likely have earned around $8 or so.

If I had another site to monetize that was not compatible with Adsense, I’d use them again. I just wouldn’t expect to buy a fancy yacht from the earnings.

Outrage Is Useless

Before the algorithms took over the internet entirely, the news was obsessed with fear. Making people afraid was their goal, and it was what kept eyeballs glued to the screen.

As the internet evolved, fear was still in heavy circulation, and it benefited those who knew how to wield it. It was not just the news, but politicians and products meant to make you feel “safe”. But it started to change.

Over the past few years, thanks to “the algorithms”, I’ve noticed a shift more toward outrage than fear. When I visit a site, something is invariably presented that is meant to outrage me. Twitter does its best to make most of its trends political or “what celebrity did which outrageous thing you should get mad about”. Facebook shows me memes and news stories meant to make me mad, get my hackles up, and bring forth the fires of righteous indignation. So do all the other news and social media outlets.

When you’re presented with something, it’s worth taking a step back and looking at what sort of outrage it’s intended to provoke. Do you really want to waste your time yelling at some celebrity or making some 15-year-old kid cry for saying something ignorant on camera?

And when someone wants to direct their outrage your way, it’s best to just ignore it and let it blow over. It’s only temporary and in 10 minutes they’ll be outraged at someone or something else. Someone will always be offended by what you do or who you are. Don’t walk on eggshells for fear that someone might say something mean to you. Their opinions don’t matter, and that’s no way to live.

Outrage is useless. Don’t let it control you.

The WbSrch Experiment

Off-and-on over the last 8 years I’ve worked on an independent search engine called WbSrch. It made it as far as being as good as the late-1990s search engines, which is great, because the original goal was to build something much like Altavista. That was my first “main” search engine.

At one point I tried to turn it into a real business. That went poorly and I shut it down. Then I brought it back to work on as a hobby/fun project. That was interesting and fun for a while, but it’s run its course. I’ve done all the things I set out to do and learned all the things I wanted to learn. I’ve had my fun, so there’s no need to tinker with web search anymore. It did keep me busy toward the end of the pandemic as I was starting to go stir crazy, and I’m grateful for that.

If you’d like to see what it looked like when I finished with it, take a look at this capture on archive.org.

If you’d like to use a pretty good alternative search engine, I suggest Mojeek or Yandex. The MusicSrch music search engine is still going, too.

And if you’d like to get a copy of some of the data I collected, there are a few inexpensive data downloads available.

Now that you’re here, feel free to explore the blog a bit. I have a bunch of websites and music projects I’ve created, and you might find some of them interesting (under the “My Stuff” section of the sidebar).

PoSSE and Facebook

One core idea of the “Indie Web” is “Publish on Your Own Site, Syndicate Elsewhere” (PoSSE). The idea is that you post content on your own website first and foremost, and then mirror it to social networks such as Facebook. This gives you more control over the original content, keeping it from being hidden behind a walled garden and preventing it from disappearing if you are banned from a site, it shuts down, the algorithms decide you’re not interesting, or it just decides to hide things older than X years.

It’s a good idea, and I think I’ll be implementing it a bit more in my own life. Don’t be surprised if you see more posts showing up and backfilling the site with non-recent publication dates. Most of my activity is on Facebook, but there is a little on Instagram, and even less on Twitter.

The one obvious drawback to publishing things publicly on your own site is that it lacks visibility controls like “friends only”, which is valuable, but not foolproof because anyone can screenshot and forward anything. it does help keep down the number of randos sea-lioning into your conversations.

Since this blog intentionally does not allow comments, there’s little worry about that. There is still a little privacy concern, but as an Extremely Online Person, I don’t care much about privacy and everything is pretty much out there anyway.

Having Too Much Stuff

A lot of people, myself included, battle the accumulation of excess things. There’s a meme about minimalism vs. hoarding out there that goes into it, essentially that growing up without much makes it hard for people to let go of things they don’t necessarily need. I am not from a rich family.



A lot of people like to hate on minimalism because it’s “Just Another Boring Product Wealthy People Can Buy“, which the original post mentioned later in the thread. If that’s how you feel, by all means, live your life how you want. I certainly agree that white-on-white as an aesthetic is disgusting, and it’s why most American houses and apartments are hideously boring places I wouldn’t want to live. But to me a much worse aesthetic is “piles of stuff everywhere”. It’s visual distortion, and being in an ugly environment negatively affects my mood if I actually look at it.

The biggest trouble for me is that “the things you own end up owning you”. The more stuff you have, the less freedom you have, in more than one way. It could be less freedom to live in a small space, less freedom to get a piece of furniture someone’s giving away because it just wouldn’t fit, or less freedom to move to a new place because you’d need 8 days and a 60-foot moving truck to haul everything. It’s also less financial freedom because you’ve bought too much stuff, are spending a good chunk of your paycheck on a huge storage unit, or had to pay the movers for an extra 4 hours to get everything loaded.

If everything you own fits in your vehicle, it’s a whole lot easier to go live in a different city if you want to. More freedom.

It’s really hard to unlearn the collecting of things. A shelf full of books that you might read one day is easy to keep when the alternative is to get rid of them only to need to buy one of them again two years later because you suddenly got really interested in the topic. It’s hard to know whether keeping stuff or getting rid of stuff will be more expensive.

I think a good way to think about it is whether you would replace a particular thing if there was a catastrophic fire that destroyed everything you own. If the answer is yes, then by all means keep it. If the answer is no, maybe think about getting rid of it. There’s a lot of “I don’t know” gray area in that, but it’s a decent guideline.

“I might need this some day” is a cursed phrase.

For most objects, they’re just things and they don’t matter. The only real Human needs are food, shelter, a powerful laptop, and a good internet connection.

Removing Politics From Twitter

My disdain for Twitter is no secret. It is a cesspool of the worst people on Earth. But it does have some redeeming qualities if you can manage to filter out all the political nonsense

Here’s how I filter out most of the crap (there are a few more that go off the screen, but not that many).

I should really turn off trends, but instead I either click “Not interested in the topic” or “This trend is harmful or spammy” when I see anything political. Anecdotally, clicking “not interested” seems to have more effect. I also not-interested sports topics since I’m genuinely not interested in any sports. They don’t make me angry, though.

I also block everyone who looks even remotely annoying and have built a block list of around 1000 people over the past 10 years or so. My block list is insane and is about 90% MAGA idiots (and there seems to be a deep supply of them) and about 10% always-outraged liberals. Most of the MAGA scum on Twitter are either bots or morons who are indistinguishable from bots. This does of course mean that I’m missing out on the finer details of the United States’ inevitable descent into totalitarian fascism, which is a real loss.

All in all, it is a LOT of effort to de-politicize your Twitter feed, and it’s probably not worth it. If Twitter had any sense, which they don’t, they’d add an option to filter out political nonsense. I think they know that if they added that option, there would be almost nothing left and most of the wingnuts would leave, destroying their monthly active user numbers. So, instead of making it a decent place where you can find useful information, they made it a place full of angry assholes always getting angrier about things. That’s the thing with social media — the algorithms LOVE to keep people outraged and angry because that results in more eyeballs-glued-to-the-site time.

My feed is for the most part now a mix of cute capybara pictures, 3D art, and pictures of Spain. You should probably follow CAPYBARA_MAN.

Or just don’t bother wasting your time with Twitter. That’s always an option. Fear not, you’re missing out on nothing.

My Musical Hiatus 2003-2015

I didn’t release much in the way of original music from 2003 to 2015. There was just the Positronic Empire album, which is more of an EP, and the Agaritine album, which is all software-created remixes.

I was focused on other things. From 2003-2005, pretty much all of my time was focused on finishing college. After that, I spent a decade establishing myself in a career in software, going from total n00b to a manager with a team of 5. That didn’t leave much time or motivation for music.

Most of the drum beats for 2008’s Positronic Empire were written in 2005 just as I was finishing school. I dug them out a few years later and finished them during a week of vacation. In 2012, the remix album Agaritine was created using the Echo Nest Remix API (which is now called Amen).

It wasn’t until 2015, after having built one of everything software-wise and having founded multiple startups, that I got back into music in a big way. Since then I released 13 albums as Bloodless Mushroom, three as Toilet Duck Hunt, an album and an EP as OJ Champagne, and a handful of singles as Rain Without End, and an EP with Sasha and The Children, a band that I performed live with for about a year.

In the middle of the pandemic, I got burnt out on music and didn’t really have any creativity flowing. I think creativity requires new experiences, and lockdown turned the new experiences knob down to zero. I’m only just now getting back into it as things have opened back up and will probably release another album this year. I don’t know if I have much more in me after that. I’m also sensing (and planning) a new wave of major life change, which may or may not bring musical creativity along with it.

Whether I do or don’t create more music isn’t particularly important. I’ve done a lot. I’ve released more music than most professionals do in their lifetime. I doubt that I’ll be remembered for my music, but that’s OK. I’ve only ever made it for myself and for my creative enjoyment.

Gear Hoarding

I’m thinking back to the time when I bought my first piece of music gear on eBay in 2001. It was a Yamaha TX81Z FM rack synth module, fairly beat up. It had a lot of cheesy, useless-sounding patches and a few really nice ones. I had a Yamaha DJX keyboard that my mom had bought me the previous Christmas. Together, with those two pieces of gear, I wrote Forest of Worlds at the house at 4026 Westway in Toledo. I didn’t have much other gear, just a bass guitar (I think it was an Ibanez Ergodyne EDC705, but it might have been something else) and an electric guitar, a modified Peavey Predator with a multi-effect pedal. There was really nothing I couldn’t do with that gear given enough talent/skill. Which I didn’t have yet.

Before Forest of Worlds, I had never written any music using the keyboard. Sure, there was a track where the DJX was playing drum sounds on my first album, but that wasn’t keyboard music. Before that, I had only written tracker, fractal, and guitar tunes. While it opened a whole new world of synthesizer music and spawned some beautiful-to-me songs like Trepidation, Encounters, Gliding, Cosmic Serenade, Quelet, Montagne, and others (in spite of the core of Bloodless Mushroom being a mix of fractal and tracker tunes), it also created a monster. From that moment on I started hoarding gear, collecting things less because they served a useful purpose and more because I could. I wanted to have every possible sound at my fingertips. I wanted to experience and explore everything out there in the world. And I pretty much did.

While the time spent playing and practicing made me a better musician, the gear hoarding did not. In fact, it actively detracted from my musicianship. I spent too much time fiddling with gear, noodling, and just shuffling things around, and not enough time practicing and writing music. I did create the SoundProgramming website from my explorations, which has helped a lot of people explore gear and get manuals for it, so it wasn’t all wasted effort.

Now I have every sound imaginable at my fingertips. I have so much software and so many libraries that there’s nothing I can’t do electronically (my sample library is more than 600 gigabytes). Since Bloodless Mushroom was always more of a tracker-and-fractal project, I never needed anything more than a laptop to write music in the first place. I certainly don’t need a whole room full of gear. In fact, the more in-the-box I work, the more creative I seem to be.

Just give me a keyboard (with MIDI). Practically any keyboard will do, but full-size keys help. Just give me a bass guitar and regular guitar and a cord to connect them with. The make and model doesn’t even matter, as long as they stay in tune. I do not need more gear than I can carry on my back. Well, as long as I’m not playing/writing drums. A real electronic or physical kit won’t fit on my back.

Proof of this just-plug-something-in-and-go is in the Rain Without End songs. They’re really just me multitracking guitar and bass. And it sounds good. Not perfect by any means, but I can put together nice-sounding ideas that people enjoy.

I must confess that using three GM-capable synths like I did for the Gymnopus album sure does sound good, though. All that can be achieved in software like Kontakt, of course. It just requires more detail work. If I do that work, the quality will be far beyond anything I could get with a 17-year-old hardware module.

What I’m trying to say is this: I don’t need to take any of this stuff with me. I can get what I need wherever I am, and I don’t need much.

RevenueHits Turned Out To Be Entirely Worthless

I’ve been running RevenueHits on one of my websites for about the last 5 months in a rotation with other ad networks. The site doesn’t get a huge amount of traffic, and it’s global, so I don’t expect massive returns. But I didn’t expect zero.

Here are my stats for May 2021.

And here are my stats for all of 2021:

For all of 2021, here are my top geographies:

A large percentage of my traffic comes rom India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, so I shouldn’t be getting $100 CPMs.

However, anything less than a tenth of a cent per click or a $0.01 CPM is unacceptable and pointless for even the most low-paying geographic locations. I know those 102 clicks earned them more than $0.00.

I’ve removed RevenueHits from my site since they couldn’t even be bothered to send me a token fraction-of-a-penny like most barely-legit ad networks would have.

Bidvertiser was also running as one of the ad networks in rotation alongside RevenueHits and did generate earnings during this same time period. It’s the only ad network that I can trust to generate earnings from global traffic and so far they’ve proven themselves as the best Adsense alternative, which is why they’re the only provider left standing. There might be somewhere that would earn more, but doing so without shady popover/popunder ads, spammy push requests, interstitials, or any of the shady scammy tactics that make the internet almost unusable would be pretty difficult.

At some point I might run the which-ad-network-do-I-use experiment again, but it might be just about as much work to create one. It probably wouldn’t earn less.

Smarthost.net: Ultimately Just a Waste of Time

Smarthost.net has some nice “storage server” deals with some very configurable options. If you want a VPS with 1TB of disk space, their offerings are pretty attractive.

For my search engine, I need hosting with a good chunk of disk space in order to hold the index. It doesn’t need to be fast storage, and it doesn’t need a lot of CPU and RAM — retrieval of index entries is fast and efficient.

This made Smarthost look pretty ideal, so I signed up and got a web server going. It worked well for about a month. So I decided to set up a second one to do some light web crawling (you don’t get enough cores on their plans to do anything heavy).

After about a week, both machines were unreachable. I contacted support and found out that the drive array had failed on the machine hosting both of them. Support tried to recover it, but ultimately it was a total failure. So the little bit of web crawling data and the search engine log data for about 2 weeks (since the last time I pulled it) was destroyed.

Annoying, but hardware failures happen.

A week later I found my crawler machine suspended because of a false positive on Spamhaus. Apparently their system is so badly-written that just visiting a domain with a web crawler can get you on a “bad list” for supposedly hosting a virus/malware. Many hosting providers, Smarthost included, will auto-suspend service for any box that gets on that list.

I got that machine removed from Spamhaus the same day and had it reactivated a few hours later to download the 200k pages or so that had been crawled, but support was pretty snarky about it. Clearly Smarthost is not a service that is compatible with what I do.

I ended up moving the web server to 1tbvps, which is slightly more expensive, but has more CPU cores and RAM, which is always nice. I moved the crawler to Digital Ocean, which is a very data-science-friendly service. We’ll see whether I have issues with those, but I suspect they will work better for my purposes.

Ultimately my 2 month experience with Smarthost ended up being a complete waste of time.

 

New Web Browser: Scleroglossa

For quite a while I’ve wanted to build a web browser based on the Gecko engine by Mozilla, which is what powers Firefox. Until recently I never had the right combination of time and motivation to dig in.

Well, now that I have, here’s the result – the Scleroglossa browser for Windows.

It’s available for download on the Lambda Centauri website.

Cleaner URLs Without Tracking Nonsense

Have you ever seen a link with a bunch of extra stuff on it? Facebook URLS with “fbclid=<big string of letters” or links with a bunch of “utm_medium=<whatever>” or those horrendously long product links you get from Amazon?

They’re used for tracking behavior, and handy for people getting marketing and attribution data. If you don’t mind them, that’s cool. They annoy me a little because I like clean, readable URLs.

There’s a browser extension to get rid of them, called ClearURLs:

Chrome: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/clearurls/lckanjgmijmafbedllaakclkaicjfmnk/related

Firefox: https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/clearurls/

I Don’t Care About Cookies

I’m tired of websites showing me cookie warnings that I have to click through to remove some sort of overlay that obscures some portion of the site. I have not nor will I ever care about cookies. They’re a built-in part of the browser that should just work invisibly, and they’re an important part of making apps work.

There’s an extension that’s called, appropriately, “I Don’t Care About Cookies”. Here it is:

Firefox: https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/i-dont-care-about-cookies/

Chrome: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/i-dont-care-about-cookies/fihnjjcciajhdojfnbdddfaoknhalnja