Monthly Archives: October 2021

Elemental Dice Silver vs Silver

I wrote a post about my Elemental Dice a little while ago and the Silver dice got an entire section for themselves. I had owned the plated one longer and it had been in the aluminium stand. This is what they used to look like:

Plated silver to the left, severely oxidized after months, solid silver to the right, somewhat oxidized.

So, my guess was that the aluminium stand did something bad to the silver.

Since then the solid silver has been standing in the “faux leather dice roll mat” (available in E.D.2) and the plated silver has been standing in the aluminium stand. Now, a month and a half later I found that if any of them had any miscoloration it was the solid one, on the 6th face, that had been exposed to the faux leather.

I washed them both carefully in warm water and manual dish washer (which typically is used for utensils of metal), and took a few photos (with my new TX-158 “microscope”):

Solid Silver
Plated Silver

What you can clearly see here is that the solid one is laser engraved leaving the letters matte. The plated one is plated after the laser engraving, so also the letters are shiny. You can see this with your eye if you just look at them so this is an easy way to tell them apart (you can also determine that the solid one is a bit heavier, but it is not so obvious when you have them in your hand).

I took another picture of both of them at the same time.

Solid silver to the left, plated to the right

You can very clearly see that the inside of the “g” shines on the plated one and is matte with the solid.

But I also now see that more things are different. The plated one has had a thin layer of silver added afterwards, and that silver seems to have attached in a naturally shiny (almost liquid) way. The solid die on the other hand seems to have been polished to be shiny, leaving a very fine brushed surface.

To the naked eye, they also do not look exactly the same. The solid one appears to be more grayish and the plated one more warm yellow and perhaps even more shiny. If this is a matter of different age (time in the poluted air), different surface structure, or slightly different silver alloys I can not tell. Also the solid one seems to be blackish on 6th face.

Here is a picture of the 6th face of both dice. The solid die, to the right, has some black stains, and I suppose that is silver oxide (left one has been 45 days in aluminium stand, right one has been 45 days on faux leather).

Plated silver to the left, solid silver to the right.

But for now, it seems I was wrong about the aluminium oxidizing silver. I washed them today and I will put them back as they were, solid on faux leather and plated in the aluminium stand.

Technaxx TX-158 Microscope Review

I just got this idea that I want a Microscope. There are very many to choose from, and the prices vary much as well. I have no professional or real need of a Microscope, I am just a nerd. One thing I wanted to do is to have a close look at my Elemental Dice.

When I was quite young I had a childrens microscope that was 100x, 200x, 300x magnification. It was not so easy to use, and obviously it was not capable of capturing digital pictures. After doing some research I decided to buy a very simple cheap USB/Wifi microscope, knowing that it would probably not be so amazing.

Technaxx TX-158 basics according to marketing:

  • Live view for PC or smartphone (so I can use my iPad as a screen)
  • Photo/Video (I just care about photo)
  • With a stand
  • LED illumination
  • Magnification up to 1000x (as I see it, it is max 40x magnificaiton, see below)
  • Full HD resolution

This is mostly true. What is absolutely not true is 1000x magnification. The stand is on the cheap (light, flappy) side. The pictures are 1920×1080 and then the question is: are they that sharp? You will see for yourself below. All pictures below are straight from the TX-158, no editing.

Basic usage and features

It is easy to get started (with iOS, only thing I tried).

  1. Charge it using USB (cable but no power supply included)
  2. Download the iWeiCamera App from Apple App Store.
  3. Turn TX-158 on.
  4. Connect your iOS device to the unencrypted WiFi network called Cam-something
  5. Start iWeiCamera
  6. Use the wheel on TX-158 to focus
  7. Use the button in the App or on TX-158 to take a picture.

That is kind of it. You export the pictures from the iWeiCamera to Photos (in iOS), and then send them to your Mac with AirDrop (or something else you find convenient).

Optical Capability

TX-158 has 8 LED lights that can be adjusted (pressing the on-button repeatedly). This is convenient. It also has a transparant plastic shell around the lens. I have found that the shortest possible focal depth is “kind of” the distance you get if you place TX-158 on a surface. You may be able to focus on something that is slightly closer, but not much. If a small coin fits inside the plastics shell you are probably fine. My 16mm dice also fit inside, that does not work.

You may however photograph items more far away. This picture of a 16mm metal die is taken (horizontally) from almost 10cm (click the image to open the full resolution).

The noise around/behind the die looks a bit strange, but it is probably reasonable given how I mounted the die between white postit notes. If I open this picture on my computer display the object is about 16cm large (with no digital zoom). The actual object is 16mm, so to me this is about 10x magnification.

I then moved the die as close as possible and focused on “13” in the top left corner.

I would say this picture is about 4x more magnified than the previous one (just measuring the height of “13”.). Compared to the real object I would say we have about 30-40 times magnification. Anything “more” than that is just digital zoom, and I do not think the picture quality allows for much digital zoom.

Zoom & Focus

The box that comes with TX-158 states on the backside: “Up to 1000x magnification / Magnification adjustable with turning wheel”. In the little booklet however I read: “Zooming: turn the focus wheel until you reach the personal best view option”. So it is a focus wheel and the marketing about “adjustable magnification” is a lie. The good thing is that it is obviously a “fixed” or “prime” lens which is better for image quality than a zoom lens. Adjusting magnification is easy (within 10-40x something) by simply moving the TX-158 closer or more far away from the object. But when the object gets too close to the lens it can not focus anymore.

The little booklet also mentions Autofocus. I am not 100% sure, but I don’t think it has any autofocus.

More pictures

All the below pictures are taken by simply placing the TX-158 on top of whatever I photograph and manually adjusting the focus.

Dust on a plastic surface
The surface of a worn Teflon or Ceramic frying pan

An oiled wooden table

One of my hairs
Worn wooden surface
A leaf, cut off from a pineapple (stainless surface at top of picture)
A blanket made of wool
Fake/faux leather
A piece of dirt – wax from a cheese probably – on a stainless surface
A piece of linen cloth
The text TECHNAXX, on the image of TX-158 printed on the box it came in
Pineapple
3cm mark on an aluminium ruler (the lines to the right are mm lines)
A drop of honey on what I thought was a black metal surface (the 8 LED lights reflect in the drop)
An iPhone connector
Tip of a knife
Grains of salt in a blue porceline bowl
A safety match
Letters svERige on a coin

Conclusion

After having played with an analog childrens microscope at 100-300x when I was little, I kind of hesitate to call the TX-158 a microscope at all. To me it is more a macro-photo-camera.

When you get to “real” 300x magnification you can start seing things that this device do not at all reveal. I would say it is 40x magnification (and then I am quite generous), but perhaps that is the wrong way to measure it.

The practical thing is that 40x is not THAT much, so it is quite easy to move around the TX-158, find your object and adjust the location of things manually. For a higher magnification you probably need a much more stable stand, and being able to move the microscope or the sample in a controlled way. TX-158 is more point and shoot.

Anyway, when you read about different microscopes for sale on Amazon and other places, if it mentions magnification in the range of 1000x, just do not trust it. I doubt any real microscope can be 100-1000x magnification or anything like that.

The iWeiCamera-App is very rudimentary. Copying images from the App to Photos gives me a message in Chineese. But connecting the iPad via WiFi and getting started is very simple.

I guess for soldering work or other very delicate work, it is a useful digital magnification glass. Then the stand probably more comes to its right too.

Qnap, SonarQube and Elastic Search

Update 2021-10-20: Solution in the end of the post

I use SonarQube (and SonarScanner) to analyze my JavaScript source code in a project that has almost 200k lines of code.

SonarQube is a non-trivial install and it should be on a server so different developers can access it. Thus, SonarQube is an application that it would make sense to put in a packaged container, easy to set up.

I have a QNAP, with Container Station installed. That allows me to run Docker images and Linux (LXC/LXD) image. To me, this sounds like a perfect match: Just install a SonarQube Docker container on the QNAP and be happy!

Well, that was not how they thought it.

Last time I checked the SonarQube docker image did not come with a database. That would have been the entire point! Most work related to setting up SonarQube is related to the database. Docker support data folders, so it would be easy to configure the docker container with a single datafolder for the database and everything. No. You need two docker images.

The next problem is that SonarQube comes bundled with ElasticSearch which has some remarkable system requirements. Your operating system needs to be configured to support

  • 65535 open file descriptors (link)
  • 262144 vm.max_map_count (link)

Now the first problem is that Docker in QNAP does not support this. However it works with LXC.
The second problem is that QNAP is getting rid of LXC in favour of LXD, but you cant have 65535 open file descriptors with LXD (on QNAP – hopefully they fix it). So I am stuck with unsupported LXC.

But the real problem is – who the f**k at Elastic Search thought these were reasonable requirements?

I understand that if you have hundreds of programmers working on tens of millions of code you need a powerful server. And perhaps at some point the values above make sense. But that these are minimum requirements to just START ElasticSearch? How f***ing arrogant can you be to expect people to modify /etc/security and kernel control parameters to run an in-memory database as a priviliged user?

The above numbers seem absolutely arbitrary (I see that it is 2^16-1 of course). How can 65535 file descriptors be kind of fine, if 32000 are not? Or 1000? I understand if you need to scale enormously. But before you need to scale to enormous amounts of data, it would be absolutely wasteful, stupid and complicated to open 50k+ files at the same time. And if 32000 file descriptors are not enough for your clients big data, how long are you going to be fine with 65535? For a few more weeks?

This is arrogant, rotten, low-quality engineering (and I will change my mind and apologize if anyone can provide a reasonable answer).

All the data SonarQube of goes to a regular database. ElasticSearch is just some kind of report-processing thing serving the frontend. I did a backup of mine today, a simple pg_dump that produces an INSERT line in a text file for every database entry. Not very optimized. My database was 36Mb. So if Elastic Search would use just 36000 file descriptors, each file correspond to 1k of actual data.

I don’t know if I am the most disappointed with the idiots at ElasticSearch, or the idiots of SonarQube who made their quite ordinary looking GUI dependent on this tyrannosaurus of a dependence.

Hopefully the QNAP people can raise the limits to ridiculous values, so nobody at ElasticSearch needs to write sensible code.

And if anyone knows a hack so you can make ElasticSearch start with lower values (at my own risk), please let me know!

Solution!

QNAP support helped me with the perhaps obvious solution. Log in as admin with ssh to the QNAP and run:

[~] # sysctl -w vm.max_map_count=262144
[~] # lx config set deb11-sonarqube limits.kernel.nofile 65535

The first command I already knew. You have to run it whenever the QNAP has restarted.

The second command is for setting the file limit in the particular container (deb11-sonarqube is the name of my container). I guess you just need to do it once (and then restart the container), and that the setting remains.