Brave web browser – will it change marketing?

‘Brave’ the new open source web browser based on Chromium. With inbuilt ad-blocking and a whole mindset of privacy, I am wondering if it will organically change the face of marketing on the internet and thus the internet as we know it?

Most advertising on web pages is loaded with tracking. There is nothing all that sinister about it. It’s just people trying to capitalise on free data. However it has made a mess of the usability of the web.

Brave web browser allows you to choose how many adds it shows per time frame and whether those adds are ethical in that they are not tracking your usage in some way.

Many business people I know have given up advertising on the web for it has become too expensive relative to the return. They are going back to other mediums to advertise and doing better there. I am included in this. Bang per buck and per hour effort has not produced the results for me compared to offline methods.

As a friend in marketing put it “It’s difficult now to get past the noise”.

Once again the engineers back in the 60’s did a great job of creating TCP/IP (the language and structure of the web). They created it to survive a nuclear war and thus it easily handles any corporate or government attempts to control it.

So I wonder how the net will look in the coming years as companies stop ‘in your face’ advertising killed by Brave?

GNUcash is still rocking.

A quick update. I am still using GNUcash. It is solid and easy to use. Could still do with some improvements on auto-matching. Could have a bit more work done on being able to write quotes and then being able to turn those quotes into invoices. However, when I really need those features I’ll just throw some cash at the GNUcash developers and contribute to the overall codebase.

Also I own my accounting file. I think I’ve said in a post before. Be concerned about having your data files on the software providers server. If it’s on their server, then in a court of law, they own it. Then you’re totally at the mercy of however much they feel like charging you to get at your own work. Also if they lose your data, you’ll have a tough time suing them as the data is actually theirs, NOT yours. Might pay to keep your data files on your own hard drives at your business premises and own the software outright so that you can get back to the work you created. Best to test this using a virtual machine. Install an OS you own. Install the software you own. Then open the files you created with your own sweat, blood and tears.

All in all, I highly recommend GNUcash.

NextCloud – the sequel.

All I can say is WOW, NextCloud (NC) rocks.! I wrote the last post in 2018 and it’s now late 2020 and the NextCloud server is still cranking on a Raspberry Pi.

I’ve done one upgrade to NC and that went smoothly. Webdav was a touch slow, so I went back to SAMBA. Especially for communal data running in a NAS. When adding data from your LAN via SAMBA the NextCloud database does not see the new files. Thus I made a simple shell script to run nightly to update the NextCloud database.

--------------------- filescan.sh - START
    # Last updated by DP 31st March 2020
    #!/bin/bash
    cd /var/www/html/
    sudo -u www-data php occ files:scan --path="shared/files/"
--------------------- filescan.sh - END

Create it with root permissions.
Set the permissions to make it executable.

chmod 500 filescan.sh

Test it.

./filescan.sh

Should return something like

 Starting scan for user 1 out of 1 (%user_name%)
 +---------+--------+--------------+
 | Folders | Files  | Elapsed time |
 +---------+--------+--------------+
 | 8069    | 186532 | 01:52:36     |
 +---------+--------+--------------+ 

Use

crontab -e

to add

02   03 *   *   * /var/www/html/filescan.sh

to cron to run filescan.sh at 03:02 daily.

It should take 20-25mins for 5k files’ish.

I still use Rsync to do second and third backups to offsite drives, but as far as a reliable, easy, cross-platform, cross-device system, it’s by far the best I’ve used.

Plantar Fasciitis notes 3

Quoting my previous post, “To take the calcaneus from outward rotation on landing to inward rotation on propulsion, the small mechanics around the foot would always become overpowered by the overall centre of gravity above it.”

And how true this has proven to be. I am now running maybe 3 times per week and 98% of all plantar fasciitis pain is gone. I only feel a touch when getting out of bed for the first 3 steps.

This main reasons come from the quote above. The centre of mass defines the load on our feet, but our foot position defines the position of the centre of mass.
Humans adapted over millions of years so the foot would function in the following way:
1) The calcaneus rotates laterally outward on landing to allow the metatarsals adapt to the ground angle.
2) The calcaneus rotates laterally inward as the centre of gravity (your pelvis) comes over the foot and projects your body forward. Thus the metatarsals lock into a rigid structure to project the body forward. The load line comes down the calf, through the heel and toward the little toe.

The number 1 technique to cure Planter Fasciitis

Walk on a straight line.

Whether you’re running or walking each step should land on the centre line.
1) From a stand still project the direction you want to go bringing your back foot forward for the first step onto the centre line of the path ahead.
2) The foot should point slightly outward. In detail the landed foot should draw the centreline from the outside of your heel to the split between your big toe and the next toe.
3) As you walk or run you will inevitably touch the heel first, but you will feel the load enter into the area on the outside of the foot 4-5cm behind the little toe.

The above 3 points have been the crux or the solution for me. Amplified by:
1) Strengthening the glute medius to control the lateral angle of the leg during walking and running.
2) 2 minute calf stretches across the centre line (See Jeff Cavaleri’s videos – AthleanX on YouTube mixed with ‘Marks Daily apple’ YouTube channel) . Specifically stretches greater than 90 seconds as this is the start point of fascia release between the muscles being stretched.
3) Improving all body posture techniques when standing still and in motion. These are greatly helped by Pilates methods. A Pilates or similar instructor correcting your posture helps greatly as it is almost impossible to see or feel our postural faults. (Note posture correction and walking correction feels wrong, but if you can video record your normal self and the corrected self you will be astounded.)

Plantar Fasciitis notes 2

After doing a 50 minute bike ride this morning the pain in the heel is lessened. Working with Dana this morning and watching Jeffs videos again we realised that I walk with toes slightly out and I land heel first but almost flat and then I project forward at probably 20 degrees off straight. I can feel a decent amount of pain in the heel and the on the outside just under the ankle.

Months ago we were watching videos of top runners in slow motion. We noticed that they landed on the heel, but more to the outside than I do. As the foot rolls forwards it really loads down the outside of the foot. After the foot moves through under the body and becomes the motive force, the runners calcaneus does rotate inward toward the centre line of the body.

So I thought this must be the same in walking. Dana also pointed it out when she got me to do this 6 months ago and we found I was walking more easily. Either way testing this morning, in walking I focused on the calcaneus rolling inward on the projection of the back foot. As a result it makes the landing foot land directly on the centre line of travel. My foot has to touch the heel down and then slightly supine (roll outward) and as the loading comes on the load goes through the outer edge of the foot. Instantly walking this way causes less pain. It takes concentration, but the distance projected forward for the same energy is substantial.

Also testing Jeffs glute medius exercise this morning (without a Pilates ball or elastic) I could not get past 16 reps. Jeff was saying if you can’t hit 20 reps then the gluteus medius is too weak.

In this animation above we can see the 3 muscles
Gluteus minimus
Gluteus maximus and
Gluteus medius
Studying them more closely it becomes obvious the minimus and medius control the angle of lateral thigh rotation during forward projection whilst walking or running. If the medius is not strong enough then the thigh will be at the incorrect angle for projection for part or all of the movement.
This situation also defines the angle of the pelvis through all movements.

To take the calcaneus from outward rotation on landing to inward rotation on propulsion the small mechanics around the foot would always become overpowered by the overall centre of gravity above it.

Plantar Fasciitis notes 1

These notes are mainly for me, but also for other whom would like to compare their experiences.

I seem to have this recurring plantar fasciitis and these are my findings so far.

The best video I could find on the subject was by this YouTuber Athleanx

He points out that the plantar muscle under the foot is being used for projection in walking and running. The reason being that the heel bone (calcaneus) needs to be kicking outward when the foot lands in propulsion to adapt to the ground. When it propulses it needs to rotate inward to lock the metacarpals together to provide a rigid projection lever.

1st Reason

Jeff says the reason this happens is that if the calf muscles are tight, then there is a timing issue and the calcaneus does not rotate inward on propulsion. The foot stays flexible and the plantar muscle is used for projection. He gives exercises on how to stretch the calves for correcting this movement.

2nd reason

If your calf is loose then it could be the gluteus medius. He gives exercises for this. Jeff shows how o exercise the gluteus medius in this video

3rd reason

The upper torso is rotating with the walking gape, but can not turn back rapidly enough. This causes another timing issue as it all translates down to the calcaneus not rotating inward on projection. He says we need to fix our thoracic extension.

Jeff says to fix the posture first and he gives 4 steps in this video

  1. Fix the rounded upper back Thoracic spine – broomstick always keeping one side on the floor.
  2. Fix rounded shoulders – Face pulls – Thumbs up and back
  3. Nerd neck fix – Tennis ball under chin and weight on forehead. Back and up to flat. Tuck the chin back to activate the deep neck flexors (Longus Colli)
  4. Fixing the pelvis if your hamstrings are tight. – Hamstring / calf stretch with arm extension forward – This may not be everyones issue – does not fix anterior pelvic tilt.

My trials at fixing PF

Rewatching this video whilst writing this post, I realised that I’d forgotten a lot of what Jeff had said. Thus I’ll be incorporating into my regular exercises.

However, I think the Plantar fasciitis came about because I’d had time away from any activity when I moved to Brisbane for a while. I was not training like I normally do and I was sitting on a chair in front of a laptop computer all day. I think the sitting in front of a computer all day seriously slows the blood flow to the calves via the underside of the leg. It’s not an issue if you’re doing decent regular exercise, but the subtle restriction of a chair all day long adds up over time. Several months later I decided to get back into exercise. I did all my normal stretching and then jogging. Thing about being fit once before is that your brain still thinks it is where it was fitness wise. I think this is where plantar fasciitis started.

Fascia stretching

An interesting point I just learnt. The muscle can start to stretch out in over 30 seconds, but the fascia needs at least 2 minutes per stretch.

Bike riding to loosen muscles below the knee

Also I used to ride for at least half an hour per day in hilly country. Recently I’d only been riding for a maximum of 15 minute bursts in flat country. Thus the blood flow to the whole leg region doesn’t really get going. In my opinion I don’t think bike riding get blood flow in the legs happening till you’ve been in the saddle for at least 30 minutes with at least 8-10 minutes of that being uphill. When I say uphill I mean that you should be sweating after a ride on a 20 degree celcius day at at least 50% humidity.

4 days ago my lower calves (soleous) were so tight that the muscles were lumpy . After 3 days of riding the muscle tissue is smooth once again. That’s 25-35minutes out and the same again back. After the 1st days ride the sore heel was worse in the morning, but I figured that was because I am unfit. The days after were better.

Stretching before stepping out of bed in the morning

The other note which seemed to be a major point in why it went away before was that I’d stretch before getting out of bed. Spending a few minutes pulling my toes back. I really think this reduced the pain standing out of bed first thing and that pain might have been the fascia around the soleus retearing.

This time when it came back a few weeks ago. I’d been unfit. I rode the bike on the flat <15minutes to the gym and did a legs workout. I think squats to the floor must have done it, but also just generally not being warmed up enough from a decently long aerobic bike ride.

NextCloud –> Go you good thing!!

I have to say, I’m impressed so far. A few weeks ago I installed NextCloud server on a Raspberry Pi 3b. So far it is working very solidly.  The Android apps and the website interface work very well and are highly polished. The OS X client is very smooth and the Linux Mate client is nearly as good as the OS X one. It’s only missing the little green / blue dot icons in the Caja file browser to notify of synchronisation. It’ll take some months to make a true assessment of NextCloud, but I am fairly confident it will keep out stripping my expectations.

For instance, I wanted to make a standard network share for our client. I was going to set up Samba (windows file sharing on Linux servers). Samba works well. I’ve used it for years. It was to point to the same NextCloud share. However there was no need to set up Samba as NextCloud uses a protocol (communication language) called DAV. Simply create a

davs://example.com/nextcloud/remote.php/dav/files/USERNAME/

share and ShaBang!!! you’re in.

There are similar setups for the other OS’s here which I’ve not tested yet.

The security systems seem good and you can make it as hard as you want. Even to the point of using two factor authentication using SMS. How nice it that?

Why did I install it on a Raspberry Pi and not a more powerful solid server or a VPS?

  1.  The client does not add a lot of data per day
  2. The Pi uses less than 2 watts of energy (+ hard drive power)
  3. It’s not a huge expense to make a replicated mirrored backup server with automatic fall over protection.
  4. Having it onsite means the client knows physically where their data is at all times.
  5. Using Bind9 with NSupdate makes it possible to connect to NextCloud from any internet connection, so why not.

It just makes sense. Most data conscious companies and business owners I speak to just want to control their own data. The phrase “just stick it in the Cloud…” is too ambiguous for them. Even though there are so many advantages to the technology of Cloud based systems, they still feel unsettled knowing that the core of their business is reliant on some other data company. Now systems like NextCloud are possibly giving an alternative way to using this tech.

An alternative to online accounting software with payroll.

Following up on my last post I decided to look for some accounting software I could run on my computers or servers. Jam paying for web accessible software if I can’t load it on my own cloud servers. Double entry accounting is not that complex a subject. Neither is payroll and neither are tax rules for small businesses.  I also wanted to be able to access the database behind the accounting software and payroll had to be in there. I started with GNUcash, Quicken, then SQL Ledger. I was happy to pay a fee for support.

SQL Ledger was looking nice, but it’s not a 5 minute install affair. If only they had an apt-get installer. Quicken has evaporated into the cloud. Xero and MYOB just said a flat “NO” to me buying even a binary to load on my own systems. Finally I came back to GnuCash. It’s a bit different, but it’s actually way easier to use. You can download QIF or OFX files from the bank to bring in your transactions and it does automatic transaction matching like MYOB Essentials although you can’t build rules as yet. Then again, the gnu cash method combined with the fact that it runs lighteningly fast more than makes up for it. Now I am tending towards quickly checking transactions as some of the text pattern matches I made (usually late at night when I’m fading) have been incorrect. It has an auto transaction download feature which I’ve yet to set up with the banks. AAAannnnd,, drum roll please,,,, wholly cow, it is able to connect directly to a remote SQL database (Postgres or MySQL).

How bloody awesome! I’ve yet to test the SQL connection, but just the fact that it’s there is good. Because it’s open source there is no rubbish in there. No bells and whistles which a marketing department has asked for. It just works. The only thing is that there is no automated payroll. When you think about it though, for the business with only a few employees, what’s the big deal? It’s pretty easy to ammortise 8.4 weeks of sick leave, public holidays and normal holidays over the other 43.6 weeks of the year.  Super is 9.5%. Tax is just read off the tax tables from the ATO. A spreadsheet and throwing the saved chunks into liability accounts until they come due. No probs. When it becomes more complicated well it’s not too hard to write a web app to automate it if you’ve access to the SQL database in the background. That’s if the people at GnuCash don’t get to it first.

An other thing is the sub accounts feature. You can make hundreds of levels deep. MYOB is only about 4 or so.

I’m not going to say I’m totally sold, but I am testing it from here on in. Watch this space for how it goes as the months pass by. If you want my spreadsheet templates for payroll, let me know and I can make a download page for you.