Subhash TweetsToRSS v2018.12.05 for Linux/Mac/Windows – faster processing of permanent offline images

I use TweetsToRSS to archive tweets in an email client. To ensure that I have access to all images even if an account is closed or a tweet is deleted by the account holder, I use the permanent offline images option.

The permanent offline image uses text encoding of the image and this is very time consuming. The original logic was also inefficient. It would download an image and encode it and then proceed to the next image. As a result, RSS readers took several minutes to receive a response to a feed request. My email client would timeout the connection to TweetsToRSS and failed to update my Twitter RSS feeds.

In this update, TweetsToRSS downloads and encodes all images (including profile pictures) simultaneously in background threads. This improves the response times to the requests from email client and the RSS feeds get update without fail.

This update can be downloaded from

Screenshot of the feed content source

TweetsToRSS encodes images as text faster.

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The awful truth about MRE (Meal Ready to Eat) rations or why field kitchens are essential in the military

“Lean the hot pack against a rock or something”

Creating Alpha video about MREs

MREs are not all what they are cracked up to be. It must be galling for US soldiers particularly when they realize that the Taliban is eating mutton curry and biriyani.

The Indian Army units when they are deployed have field kitchens. Although there have been complaints about corruption in supply management, the availability of the equivalent of a home-cooked meal thre times a day has been very satisfactory to our soldiers.

In the US, private business convinced the Department of Defense that the military was in the business of fighting wars and military men should not be engaged in peeling potatoes. It seems like a straightforward idea but is quite disingenuous. Today, private military contractors do not just do catering activities but also perform a lot of logistical and even military operations. The costs of engaging private contractors have become astronomical. A worker of a private contractor is paid several times what the US military would have to pay one of its own soldiers doing the same work.

Apart from meals catered by private contractors, US soldiers also consume a lot of canned food. With the use of plastic packaging, tin cans have been eliminated. Today, MRE meals are cooked like ordinary food, packaged in hermetically sealed plastic bags and then boiled in hot water to kill microbes.

The boiling makes the food safe but it has the disadvantage of destroying texture of the food. Some MRE food items are dried so much (as water is a great substrate for microbes) that it absorbs water from the body when consumed. This clogs up the intestines. Some other MRE articles have the opposite effect.

There are many videos online of people trying out MREs. These videos are civilians. What about military people who have to eat it day after day, particularly when deployed in hostile conditions? Here is one:

I thought this video was a joke but it is real. The hot pack does indeed say it should be leaned against a rock or something. It is a hilarious but sad video.

The closest that most people have come to an MRE is Maggi noodles. I have always found it tasteless but there are many people who are addicted to it. I also found that Singapore banned it because they found that petroleum wax was being used by top noodle brands as one of the additives, probably as a hydrophobic agent.

Indian military labs do research on food too and their food technologies have been transferred to several civilian companies. Among them, MTR has several good MRE items. Maybe they should pitch their products to the US military. As it is now majority owned by Western PE groups, this should not be a problem. The worst Indian MRE would beat the best US MRE because of all the spices we use.

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My post on Thiruvalathoor Sri Rendumoorthy Bhagavathy Kshetram has been updated

The schedule of events for the 10-day vilakku pooja is below.

Click this image to view it in full dimensions

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My 12-volt Joule Thief emergency lamp powered by a battery of just two 1.2 volt AAA cells

Using my Joule Thief circuit.

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EmailTweetor v2018.10.22 #app for #Android

I forgot about this. After I updated TweetsToRSS to support extended messages, it was time for EmailTweetor to support 240×10-letter messages. The updated APK installer is available at:

Sometimes, it drops one of those 10 messages but I will investigate that one of these days…

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Subhash Browser v2018.11.03 app for Android adds better support for All India Radio news MP3 files

In the precious update, I added support for All India Radio news. However, the RSS newsfeed for it was generated internally by the app rather than retrieved from the AIR website (where none exists). On a new install of the app, AIR News was one of the built-in RSS feeds. Old installations had no way of installing it. In this update, an option for that has been added to the feed reader.

The download manager now plays a “download failed” audio file if a download fails. This feature was available earlier but got removed when a dedicated download manager screen was added.

The default set of news feeds have also been updated.

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Adding stain and shellac finish to my DIY wooden boombox speaker

After painting my 2.1 subwoofer amplifier music system, I decided to paint the older boombox. I had created my 5-volt tablet-battery-powered dual-LM386 boombox stereo speaker system last year but it has remained unpainted. Recently, I fixed a long-standing problem with the speaker selector switch and added a LED sound level indicator. I decided the build could now be considered stable. It was time to paint.

As it was made of real wood (not plywood or particle board), I decided to apply a layer of shellac, rather than paint. This would highlight the natural contours on the wood and not be obscured by paint. Other options for shellac were polyurethane, wax+linseed oil combo, and lacquer. When I was a kid, I had seen a carpenter applying shellac on a door and so I knew how to do it. I decided to go with shellac this time.

Before applying the shellac, I had to choose a stain (color layer). The first store had red-brown, teak, charcoal and walnut. I assumed teak and charcoal were dark. I had no idea what walnut was. They had had no color swatch on paper for me to select the color from. The bottle had no color label either. I wanted it to look like the stock of an AK-47 but did not know how to describe or identify it with a name. At the second shop, they had yellow.

I sanded the wood with 120 silicon carbide paper. I have more nicer paper but I did not use those. I applied the yellow stain all over the wooden box and rubbed the excess off with a cloth. The red stain, which I tested on the bottom was too dark and I did not use it. I could have diluted it but did not know how. After five minutes, I applied a coat of shellac (Sheenlac) with a brush. I then waited ten minutes and applied another coat. There were some areas where the shellac was uneven. I ran them over the next day. Under some angles of light, my shoddy workmanship is visible but from a distance nobody is wiser.

The speaker used to look look like this.

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How to compile and build AMV FFMPEG from amv-codec-tools

I ruined my cheap Zebtronics MP4 player by sending high voltage into it. Now, it overheats if I try to play it. I got another one. So, I am using AMV-FFMPEG again.

I had moved the FFMPEG part of the abandoned amv-codec-tools project to GitHub. To compile FFMPEG for AMV format, follow these steps:

git clone
cd amv-ffmpeg

The executable will be available in the bin directory.

I have also updated the script I used to convert all sorts of video files to AMV.

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Subhash Browser & Feed Reader app for Android v2018.10.22 generates RSS feeds for All India Radio news

Believe it or not, I used to listen to All India Radio news using my app every day. A few months back, they removed the RSS feed after of course a site redesign. So, I added the ability to generate RSS feeds for this website in Subhash Browser. Subhash Browser also gains the ability to load RSS data from files in local storage memory. I don’t know who stores RSS data on files like that but if there is a use case, rest assured that it is now supported. In the Address field, the file location must be prefixed with “file://”. For example, “file:///sdcard/rss-file.xml”

RSS feed generated by Subhash Browser for All India Radio

Subhash Browser generates an internal RSS file for All India Radio news.

If the Language setting of Subhash Browser is changed to Malayalam, Tamizh, Kannada, Hindi or Urdu (before loading the feed reader), then a filter will be added to the AIR news feed for that language. Otherwise, the feed will be unfiltered and each update will bring news in more than a dozen languages. Unfortunately, Modi government has removed Urdu news. I have added the filter in the hope that it will be available in future. I read Hindi with difficulty so support for Hindi news in the RSS feed can be expected in the distant future.

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#IToldYouSo: Google News once again hides the RSS option

Google News removes the RSS link from the footer after less than a year of suffering its existence

When I wrote “Google News unhides the RSS option – it may not last” and cross-posted it to CodeProject, the article did not last long. It was deleted after a week because they said at that time “it has an inappropriate content as judged by our readers and editors”. Probably, they appreciated Google’s good turn and were disappointed with my pessimism.

Anyway, my prediction has come true. Google News has covertly removed the RSS link!

Google News page is a forever scrolling web page. If you manage to get to the footer, you will find no RSS feed.

From my previous post from 2017, here is the Google News footer with the RSS feed link. It lasted less than a year.

RSS option in the old and new Google News

Last year, Google News RSS feeds had an extra news item in which they said the old RSS links were deprecated and the new format RSS links would be available in the footers of Google News pages. You see, a few years earlier, Google has been quietly removing the footer RSS links and HTML “link” tag support from many of their products. So, it was naturally unbelievable when they put it back. The RSS feeds continue to insist that the RSS feed is in the footer. The redundantly configured URL redirects to a default Google news now.

Google News hides the RSS link again

Have you noted how the languishing Google-owned has also removed RSS/Atom links? RSS was the primary way blogs were read by their followers. A glance at the RSS-based blogroll on the side of blogs would instantly tell other bloggers and blog followers what was new that was published.  No third party, no algorithms, no censors,  no self-appointed purveyors of fake news (ostensibly to protect the millennials) were involved. Now, whatever blogs that remain are left to the mercy of social media sites.

The unofficial war against RSS continues…

UPDATE: I cross-posted this article to CodeProject, for the I-told-you-so. They deleted the article saying the article was news-type and not technical.

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