Blog

Limiting Handbrake threads to prevent throttling on M2 Macbook Air

Due to a recent surgery, I've been recovering at a location outside my home for a few weeks. I brought all my media with me on a spare hard drive, but one movie I had ripped but never transcoded wouldn't play on the 'Smart' TV here.

It seems to do okay with some H.264 profiles, but not the one for this 4K Blu-Ray rip. Therefore, I thought I'd transcode the file so it would play.

I also wanted to do other work on my laptop—in my lap. And unfortunately for Apple's latest M2 MacBook Air, there's no fan or heat sink to keep the M2 SoC cool.

And that meant the temperature around the top middle of the keyboard—and the bottom middle of the laptop—got quite uncomfortably hot with Handbrake's default settings, which would max out the CPU during the transcoding process.

I could encode anywhere between 10-18 fps at 4K resolution with x264, but the SoC temperature rose to 105°C and was uncomfortably hot within a minute or so.

1 Million Watts of RF - how the FM Supertower works

As the son of a radio engineer, I've seen my share of radio towers. From small, rural AM and FM towers to urban 'constellation' towers serving dozens or even hundreds of services, there's a lot more than meets the eye.

FM Supertower from ground looking up

My Dad and I visited the so-called 'FM Supertower' in St. Louis, MO twice now, to explore the tower and the supporting infrastructure below. Both of these visits are documented on our Geerling Engineering YouTube channel:

Crohn's Disease takes its toll - back in 2023!

After battling IBD complications through the summer and fall, I've come to a point where surgery is necessary. You can learn more about my health issues in my lighthearted book about Crohn's Disease, You Only Have Crohn's Once!.

The surgery (an ostomy revision) will take place tomorrow, December 2, and it'll be a pretty rough recovery, so I'm not planning on doing any substantial work until at least 2023.

It's ironic I had just given a presentation titled Just Say No: Staying sane while you maintain weeks before learning the surgery was necessary. I was planning a video on the topic (burnout, protecting your time, and open source maintainership) this year, but I guess the blog post will have to do.

I have plenty of fun tech and software I want to highlight here and on YouTube (some of it detailed in my video embedded below), but for now it's all on the shelf waiting until my strength returns:

Just Say No

Saying yes is easy—at first.

It makes you feel better. And it makes you feel like you can do anything! And the person you're saying yes to also gets a happy feeling because you're going to do something for them.

No No No

Saying no is hard. It's an admission you can't do something. And worse still, you're disappointing someone else who wants you to say yes.

But here's the thing: none of us is a god. We're people. We have a certain amount of mental resources.

Some people are kind of crazy and can do a lot more than you or I can, but nobody can do it all. And sometimes you can burn the midnight candle for a little while, but you're just building up debt. Every 'Yes' is a loan you have to pay off.

Pi Cluster vs Ampere Altra Max 128-core ARM CPU

Raspberry Pi Compute Module 4 and Ampere Altra Max M128-30

Sometimes life has a funny way of lining up opportunities, and one presented itself when Patrick from ServeTheHome reached out and said, "Jeff, I have an Ampere Altra Max server. You wanna come see it?"

Of course I did.

But seeing as Patrick is more than 800 miles away, I had to come up with a reason to go see it, so I pulled out my 6-node Raspberry Pi cluster—with it's 24 ARM Cortex A72 CPU cores—and decided to have a little competition.

And of course that competition is documented in a YouTube video:

Ubuntu's settings won't open after setting CPU to 'performance'

Recently I was doing some benchmarking on my Ubuntu 22.04 PC, and as part of that benchmarking, I tried setting the CPU performance profile to performance. In the old days, this was not an issue, but it seems that modern Ubuntu only 'knows' about balanced and power-saver. Apparently performance is forbidden these days!

$ powerprofilesctl list
* balanced:
    Driver:     placeholder

  power-saver:
    Driver:     placeholder

The problem was, I had set the profile to performance:

$ powerprofilesctl set performance

But suddenly the 'Settings' GUI app would no longer open (at least not after I had opened it and clicked into the 'power' section). A reboot didn't work, and even reinstalling control center (sudo apt-get install --reinstall gnome-control-center) didn't help!

When I tried opening the settings GUI from the command line, I got the following critical error: