Going Backwards

I’ve been increasingly taking a leap backwards, out of the network and towards simple, non-privacy-invasive technologies like smart phones etc.

My first move was to get a feature (Voice and SMS only) phone. I chose the Punkt MP01. It is a very nice phone and I have had it for 5-6 weeks and love it. You don’t have to register with any giant data-stealing monster organisation like Google. Just press the on-switch and away you go. Of course, it would be better if it ran Signal, but whatever. Can’t have everything.

In that time I was still carrying around my smart phone (Samsung Android) for playing podcasts. This didn’t feel good, so I got a Sony NW A35 which, according to their docs, runs a Linux OS. Whoot! Also it plays FLAC, the open source audio codec made by those good people at Vorbis. So, I use the open source gPodder to subscribe to, and download, my fav podcasts. Alas, they are all in MP3 format (an unfree format). So, I wrote a little script to re-encode the MP3 files in the gPodder Downloads folder from MP3 to FLAC and at the same time copy over the meta data in a nice way and embed the picture files so they display nicely in the player. It all works pretty well! Below is the script:

rm Podcasts/*
find . -type f -name '*.mp3' -print0 | while IFS= read -r -d '' file; do
 DIR=$(dirname "${file}")
 Dater=$(date +%a)
 Title=$(exiftool -S -t -album -title "$file")

 if [ -f "$DIR/folder.png" ]
 convert "$DIR/folder.png" "$DIR/folder.jpg"

 madplay -q -o wave:- "$file" | flac --tag=Album=Podcasts --tag=Artist=Podcasts --tag=Genre=Podcasts --tag=Composer=Podcasts --tag=Title="$Dater : $Title" --picture="$DIR/folder.jpg" -s -f - -o "$file".flac
 cp "$file".flac Podcasts/

It’s not the most elegant script but it does the job. I run it from within the top level of the gPodder Downloads directory.

Now I can leave the smart phone at home!

Incidentally, if you do have a similar model and wish to run it with Ubuntu or another version of Linux, here are a few notes:

  • the player does not require registering an account (whoot!). Just start it up and away you go.
  • to manage playlists, place an empty .m3u playlist file in the top level of the MUSIC directory. You can add/remove songs from the player interface.
  • the device mounts very quickly and reliably with Ubuntu 16.04 with no tweaks required.
  • copy music to the MUSIC directory in any way you wish. All files in one directory, or sorted into artist/album dirs. It doesn’t matter.
  • easytag is a good tag editor
  • soundconverter is a good transcoder

All in all, it’s a great player.


Some photos from the Coko team meeting in Kenya. It was a very productive and fun week. We have a team member in Kenya (Richard) so it was great to visit where he lives (our accommodation for the meetings was next door to his place). It’s great to go where the team is. Last year, we had a meeting in Athens and saw the ‘home’ of Cokos Yannis and Christos.


I can recommend a safari for team-building. If your team is in Africa or nearby (most of our team is in central Europe), Kenya is easy to get to and accommodation and food are cheap and good. A safari is also very well priced, far cheaper than any similar (if there is anything similar to safari!) team-building exercise you could think of in Europe or Northern America. Richard and his partner Steph are starting a locally owned safari business with the intention that it will become under local control and ownership (they are working with some Maasai friends), so if you are interested in safaris as as a team-building exercise, let me know and I’ll put you in touch.

The last photos are of our team dinner at the end of the week. As you can see, most people were pretty tired by this point. Tired but happy!

It was truly an extraordinary week and our team came out of it with a sharp focus and stronger bonds. As we say at Coko (coined by Charlie) “Software is a conversation.” Awesome.

Left to Right: Charlie, Steph, Alf, Julien, Yannis, Christos, Karien, Richard, John
L to R: Alf, Julien, Henrik, Yannis, Christos


Left to Right: Charlie, Richard, Kristen, John, Henrik


L to R: Richard, Jure, Alex









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And one of me (on right) taken by Alf.