HOW-TO: Check Apple iPhone Battery Health

Apple, in a recent press statement, admitted to throttling its devices performance when it detects battery health in decline. In addition, the same statement also indicated the company's commitment to support its customers and improving after sales support. Replacement batteries will be available for a fraction of its original cost -- $29 from $79. I'm an Apple iPhone user myself, and while we await for further news on this matter the question is: "When do you avail of this replacement program?"

Batteries degrade over time. This is a known fact. If you want to know further facts as to why this happens, I would suggest to watch the PBS Nova documentary entitled "Search for the Super Battery" or read about "dendrites" (related to batteries).

The purpose of this article is to inform you on how to check your Apple iPhone battery health. It is not limited to Apple iPhones, but applies to other Apple devices as well -- like iPads and iPad Minis (these are the ones I have tested the app on) -- and (maybe) other Apple devices.

The App to install is "Battery Life". It is available on the App store. There is a free version and a PRO version. The free one has all the features needed to be informed.

Battery Life Screenshot at 83%: Good

Launching the applicaton, you already have a view of the overall health of your device's battery. On my 2-year-old iPhone6, the battery health as indicated in the screen is 83% and the application still considers that as good condition.

Battery Life Raw Data

To get more information on battery health, tap on the upper left menu icon (multiple stacked horizontal lines) and select "Raw Data". There it indicates the overall capacity of the battery, and likewise indicates its degraded capacity. The current charge capacity, too, is also indicated based on the degraded battery capacity.

RELATED: Sync Calendar to iPhone (without iTunes)

There you go. Being better informed will help you decide and verify if it is time to change batteries. Do you also have friends who might benefit from this information? Click the share button below to help them.


INFO: Clear Anaconda (Conda) Cached Packages

One of the things that boosted my productivity in the development of Python scripts is having been introduced to the jupyter notebook development environment. If you have not been introduced to jupyter (or ipython) notebooks, you might want to take a look at it and see how it could be used in your working environment.

I am using it most of the time that in order for me to quickly launch the jupyter environment on my computer, I integrated it as part of the right-click context of my desktop. You may want to check out the post I created for it titled, Customized Right-Click Menu.

Just recently, I noticed a growing disk size on the system drive of my notebook. The SSD originally installed in it has limited space, so I could not help but notice the change. SSDs are pretty much "limited" in size, as the price-per-gigabyte has not gone up to pace with the economies of scale unlike its spinning cousin. Given that, I need to control the usage.

One of the culprits to the disk hogging is the Anaconda3 (jupyter notebook is part of Anaconda) installed. I originally installed the full-suite, rather than the lean Miniconda3. Lesson learned on that aspect but I'm too lazy to re-install and reconfigure the packages. Over time, Anaconda3 updates are installed, but the original packages downloaded are still cached and need to be cleaned.

This is the default behavior, and the only rational that could explain this is that if you need to backout of an updated package, the cached package previously installed still exists. These pile up over time and need to be manually deleted.

The command to execute on a privileged terminal, is:
conda clean --packages
And executing takes you to a view similar to the image below.

conda clean --packages

As you can see from the screenshot, 1.15GB of downloaded packages are sitting by waiting to be cleaned. Simply press "Y" and the process completes. The answer to that question is almost always "Y" so the command could be modified to non-interactive.
conda clean --packages --yes
Pressing "Y" to continue the image above brings..

Note that this will only remove the cached packages and not remove the installed packages.

RELATED: Customized Right-Click Menu

You may also set a task to automatically do this for you periodically, as another alternative (set it and forget it). The non-interactive option comes in handy in this scenario. Hope this helps 'conda users in squeezing more space from their SSD drives.


HOW-TO: Errors Updating PiHole DNS Cache

I personally use pihole to block ads, phishing and malicious websites (more leaning toward the latter), from access in my home network. This software can be easily setup on a Raspberry PI, and a little knowledge about good ol' Linux. On my setup I use pihole in tandem with the DietPI operating system (kudos go to Darwin Sonza for suggesting DietPI). This combo brings about faster internet access, since frequent DNS lookups are handled (and cached) by pihole at the same time dietpi limits write IOPs to the SD card, preserving its useful life.

In case you are interested in setting up your own Raspberry PI with pihole, checkout the previous post Install Adblock on Raspberry Pi via PiHole. In order to benefit further, pihole needs to be regularly updated much like dietpi. However, the recent update of pihole broke on my setup. And, here's the solution to the problem, if ever you encounter it yourself.

Just so you have an idea what the problem is or how to replicate it, I ran the command "pihole -up" to initiate a pihole update. This command ended up with the error message: "Error: Could not update local repository. Contact support."

The complete message is captured by the screenshot below, including messages prior to that error.

Error: Could not update local repository. Contact support.

If you are hit by the same message, on the command line, execute the following:
rm -R /var/www/html/admin
git clone /var/www/html/admin
pihole -r

After these commands are ran, you see a similar window like below.

PiHole Update Complete!

The Raspberry PI is a very useful tool in my home network. I have also used it as a PVR for downloading my favorite TV series.

SUGGESTED: Introduction to Raspberry PI (Udemy)

Is there a better solution to the above? Or perhaps another way to solve the issue? I always am on the lookout for those. Kindly share them in the comments section below.


TIP: 100 Gigabytes of Cloud Storage for Free

Have you recently had a drive failure? How painful was it to lose files? How about pictures, or should I say memories of you and your loved ones frozen in time and preserved by digital means? It is a tough pill to swallow, don't you agree? If you knew of a simple way to preserve them, would you turn back time to do this? I would. And, I will suggest a means to do it.

This "means" can be installed to preserve digital memories as it works on both your notebook and your mobile device (tablet or phone). This "means" that I'm mentioning is Degoo. Its initial offering is 100GB and it could expand to as much as 600GB of cloud storage. The best part of it is, the service is provided for FREE!

This is how it looks on my notebook.

Degoo Settings (Windows)

As you can see from the interface below, the restore can be initiated by downloading the individual file -- restores can be done at file level. You may also choose folders to backup. The default cycle is set to monthly frequency. Manual override is available so if you want to execute a backup on-demand, it is just one click away.

The caveat I'm seeing (and shown on the screenshot below), is that the filename of the photo is derived from the datestamp of when it was taken. This happens if I want to restore photos on my notebook, instead of the phone.

Degoo Recovery (Windows)

As mentioned, it is available for phones. I have tested the iOS version, and the interface screenshot is below. The restore interface has thumbnails of the images this time, not just the filenames of the photos. It is much easier to restore the particular photo you need, given a preview.

Degoo iOS

You may set it so that, Degoo doesn't have to delete files you have removed on your notebook or phone. Also, the free service is good for two (2) devices. I have tried it with three (3) and the third one added failed to execute the back-up.

RELATED: Huge Discounts on Python Courses at Udemy

The initial 100GB may not be much. But if you share Degoo with your friends, you may end up with more cloud storage for your photos. You both get 3GB for every successful referral. Executing back-ups may not be worth your time now. But do you really have to wait until an unforeseen disaster strikes?


TIP: Learn Advanced Python Course for Free

There are two-things most notable about opensource software -- active development from a community of users, and, the benefit of using something that comes free. However, the learning curve varies since the actual training itself (the immersion process) comes at a price. Sometimes discounted, but still with a price tag. Like the course that got me started with Python -- Complete Python Bootcamp: from Zero to Hero. Time and time again, you will hear me say this is what I highly recommend as a starting point.

In order to advance the building of knowledge and the immersion process of using Python, load up on advanced courses. One advanced course is being offered for free in Udemy. It is the course Learn Advanced Python. I haven't taken this course yet, but I enrolled since it is being offered for free!

I have included a screenshot of what I'm seeing on screen from the link I posted above. Or simply click this thumbnail to follow the link. Go ahead as the embedded coupon code might expire soon.

Learn Advanced Python

Completing a course in Udemy, comes with a certificate that you can use for credentials. In order to whet your appetite on what to expect, below is the course description:

Python is one of the most widely used high level programming language. The language stresses on code readability and due to its syntax and implementation a programmer has to write lesser code as compared to other languages such as C++ and Java. The language supports multiple style like functional programming, object oriented or imperative style. The memory management is done automatically and has many standard libraries available for python programmer.

Learning a programming language is always an uphill ride but as luck would favor us python was designed to be easily learnt by a novice programmer. Python code is readable and with a little knowledge a developer can learn many things just by looking at the code. It executes read evaluate print loop which gives developer a chance to play around with code and experiment. Also the standard library offers you a lot of functionalities which lets you execute complex functionalities with ease.

Learning python opens up many doors for python developers in the world of programming. Python has an object oriented approach which is preferred by many leading languages such as C#, Ruby, JavaScript, Perl etc. So once you get comfortable with the concepts of python you can switch to any other object oriented language and the only thing you will have to learn is the syntax of language.

To create a product which stands out amongst the crowd, you can develop it in any language. But there are certain constraints like time and budget which can’t be overlooked. This is where the choice of language decides the fate of the project and if project is big the company also might get affected. Python is a good choice for startups as it allows quick development and the amount of code is less as compared to c, java etc. Python can scale the most complex application effortlessly and can be handled by a small team effectively. Python also has a very reliable support team to solve your queries.

A python developer can rarely get stuck as there are large number of resources available which keeps on getting updated. It has a huge standard library which provides inbuilt functionality which is why some known applications are built on Python.

RELATED: Huge Discounts on Python Courses at Udemy

Hope this gets you going in your quest to add Python in your everyday go-to tools for the trade. Share with your friends who also want to learn and benefit from Python. If you wish to keep up to date with free and discounted Python courses by using the subscribe link in the right panel of the webpage.


TIP: Bulk Rename Files Using Power Shell

I recently wrote about some discounted Python courses in Udemy. In it is a highly recommended course that many beginners who want to learn Python will benefit from -- the Complete Python Bootcamp: Go From Zero to Hero. A factor which I consider makes the most impact in this course is the availability of Python code, where the user could build upon. The course author shared these in the form of jupyter notebooks.

Not only will the student be able to learn Python, but have them in an easy to share or collaborate development environment (jupyter notebooks). I volunteered to download it for a friend and what easy way to do it than the Firefox plugin, Download Them All (DTA).

DTA has this thing called fast filtering. And it will download pretty much all of the notebooks needed for the course without having to click them one by one.

Download Them All Fast Filter

The thing is, when DTA downloaded the files, the extension was changed from the original .ipynb to .html. DTA appended a .html extension to the downloaded file. The question is: Is there a way to do bulk renames of these files so I don't have to do it one by one as well?

Download Them All Renamed Files

It turns out the answer to the question above is built into the Windows Operating System -- Power Shell. So launch Power Shell, the change directory to the location of the downloaded notebook files. And execute: dir *.html | rename-item -NewName {$ -replace {".html",""}

Bulk Rename Using Power Shell

The above command will remove the string ".html" from the filenames of all files in the present working folder. In effect, renaming all the files to the original names from the course author's website. Now I could copy the files for my friend, and at the same time keep a copy for myself for future use.

RELATED: Huge Discounts on Python Courses at Udemy

This solution is not limited to the above scenario only. It could be applied to several others and that is happened to be a perfect example. If you have a another solution, or a better solution, please share it in the comments section below.


TIP: Huge Discounts on Python Courses at Udemy

One of the many tools I use for automating my everyday tasks as a sysad is Python.. Be it for executing backups, routine checks, collecting and rotating logs from legacy devices or automation as a hobby, Python has in one way or another been deployed. Now that I shifted careers to a data science, Python is still the language of choice for ETL, data mining, data cleansing and blending, and, even the convoluted advanced machine learning and deep learning coding.

I once shied away from Python due to the inconsistencies between version 2 and version 3. What works on v2, might break on v3 but like I got the hang of it, you will too -- to the point of having both versions available on a virtualenv (virtual environment). Python has helped me a lot not only in job functions as well as my hobbies. To name one, you may automate the download of your favorite TV series episodes using a Python-based software called "Sickrage". I wrote about how to set this up on a Raspberry Pi in this article. Not only that, it takes care of renaming the files according to episode titles and tracks the episodes I have already viewed. Take it for a spin.

It goes without saying that Python has gone a long way in helping me in my professional career and everyday life. The sad thing is that Python coding is not taught in school. That does not mean you will not be able to find a course that could help out in learning how to code in Python.

The course that has helped me out is "Complete Python Bootcamp: Go from zero to hero in Python". This course is currently on sale for $15 at Udemy, from the usual price of $195. That is a 92% discount!

Complete Python Bootcamp

Should you want to take advantage of this offering, click this link to take you there.

This way, you may learn Python at your own free time at your own pace. If you are looking for a programming language to learn, or looking for another scripting language to learn, this is one of them I would highly recommend.

RELATED: Automated TV Series Downloads Using Raspberry-PI

I hope this tip helps you learn Python. If you have seen another discounted course, share it with us through the comments below. Or if you're interested in other Python courses in Udemy, check this link. To help others learn who want to learn Python, click the share button below.


TIP: Quickly Identify Unknown Devices

Those that have gone through the experience of setting up their own home computer or notebooks, or perhaps, recovering from an unwanted drive failure may have experienced this. After installing the Windows operating system, what comes next? Drivers! Even after going through an extensive checklist of drivers from the manufacturer's website, you get the dreaded "Unknown Device".

Below I have a screenshot of the device manager window. This might not be the exact look of what you will see on your computer, but you get the gist of what I'm talking about.

Unknown PCI Device

What happens next? You try to identify the device and install the proper driver for it -- in other words, trial and error (not error and error, I hope). But this consumes a lot of time.

A good friend of mine suggested that I use the tool he uses in his day-to-day computer setups. He is an overclocker and a known PC enthusiast in the Philippines, who goes by the monicker "xzulu".

The tool he is using is PCI-Z. It is known to work on any version of Windows, even Server editions. Best of all, this tool is FREEWARE. You may download a copy of this tool from the developers website.

In relation to the listed unknown device in the screenshot above, I ran this tool and identified that the "RTS5227 PCI Express Card Reader" on my notebook does not have its driver installed. I now have a clear direction on how to resolve this issue.

PCI-Z Screenshot

After downloading the recommended driver from the manufacturer's website, I installed it for the card reader on my notebook and the problem is resolved. This was a very quick fix.

RELATED: Network Profiler and Analyzer

I hope this tip helps you save time in resolving driver issues for unknown devices on your computer. If you have a better solution, I would love to hear about it. Let me know by leaving a comment.


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