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There’s not much else to say about the Sun in November 2020, at least when it comes to Belgium: our solar panels produced slightly above average. Temperatures were much above average, making for a strange combination that did not really feel like Autumn until the last two days of the month. This morning it was raining, but now the sun is back – hurrah!

When I took this photo in the summer of 2018 I was pondering how to label it: should I blame Microsoft ? Should I say something about Italians and technology? Or does no-one care about tourists? We’ll never now what we were supposed to see then…

“Impossibile avviare il computer” – indeed!

The not so funny point is that even today Google Streetview shows the exact same message on the exact same spot in Orta San Giulio (Novara, Italy), in a picture that is probably/possibly a lot younger than mine!

Screenshot of Google Streetview on 2020-11-22 – Copyright by Google, of course.

I cant’ help it: whenever I see a BMW R1100S I have to give it a closer look. Here’s a picture from a 2002 model with quite a few modifications – including a unique look!

Details (as long as it isn’t sold) on 2dehands.be

Don’t tempt me: I would love to give it a spin, for old times sake ;-)

The Android November 1, 2020 security patches – and possibly more updates – are now available on the Samsung Galaxy Note 10+. Since 2021 is coming closer and closer, I wonder: should I already start hoping for Android 11 on this device?

The N975FXXU6DTJ4 update includes the November 1, 2020 security patches

I am using WordPress for ten years now, and I have always appreciated the fact that WP is a solid piece of software. I know I’m not using all of its possibilities and functions, but until a a few weeks ago I have never encountered anything that could be considered a “bug”.

However… since the change to the Block editor for editing Posts and Pages all my editing sessions regularly show me this message:

Conflicting messages: did WP save the post or not?

What does WordPress mean, by the way, when it says I’m not allowed to edit my own Post? And if I’m not allowed to edit it, where did it save the Post? Why do I find parts of what I wrote in my site, even when it tells me that the update failed?

This is, of course, a nice example of how not to inform your user. Because just to be sure I keep clicking the “Save” or “Update” buttons, only to see the same message popping up most of the time!

Worse: sometimes the editor says “Saved”, but does not save the Post, thus forcing me to retype it. Having experienced that on a few occasions, I even started to write my Posts in a separate text editor program on my Mac or PC before copy-pasting them into the block editor – and that can and should not be the right way to use a tool like WordPress that can handle a minimal but complete editorial flow from writing over revising and approving to publishing.

Back to the message shown above: it occurs when I create a new Post, but also when I edit older Pages and Posts that were created with the Classic editor. Until very recently, I always preferred the Classic editor: it gives me a certain measure of control over the HTML code, something I (like many web developers) appreciate a lot. By the way: the Classic block in the Block editor may look like the Classic editor, but it isn’t the same and does not allow the same measure of control over your content. So¬† it’s not a good equivalent.

I know I still have to learn to get to grips with the Block editor, which is by definition better than the Classic editor when it comes to structuring content in a web page. That’s a big plus when changing the look and feel of a site, or when you move content from one site to another. So from a Content Management point of view the Block editor is way better than the Classic editor.

But the Block editor should be able to handle existing “classic” posts and pages without strange hick-ups (I seen a few of those as well) and without trying to apply the Block editor rules on those old Posts. It would be better if WordPress could simply revert to the Classic editor if it notices that there is no “Block” stuff in them.

And certainly the Block editor should save my edits correctly and without fail – and without dubious messages! Because that’s a bug, in my view!

I admit that I had to use a thesaurus to come up with all the adjectives to describe the past month.¬† But October 2020 was cloudy, dark, dim, gloomy, ill-lighted, murky, overcast, sunless, somber, tenebrous, … and more!

The numbers prove it: our solar panels produced only 69% of the average of the previous ten years. Even worse: in October 2018 the solar energy production of our installation was almost twice that of the past month!

There is a bit of good news, however. Contrary to 2016 and 2017, we’re certain to pass the 2 MWh mark for the whole year. Unless a major disaster blocks all sunlight in the coming days and months… I hope Nature agrees with me that the current pandemic is enough of a disaster for a single year.

I was wondering: should I install the belgian Coronalert app to help me know whether or not I have been in contact with COVID-19 contaminators? Many solutions to such “contact tracing” apps from all over the world have been found to be guilty of privacy invasions. I like to be on the side of the maximum privacy camp, so I went looking for serious discussions about the Belgian app. Sorry to say so, but the only valid discussion I could find was the report of the official security assessment, on the website of the application:

https://coronalert.be/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/Report-Coronalert-Application-Security-Assessment-Public-Report_vFINAL.pdf

The report seems to be well done, and the conclusions in it are encouraging: there seem to be no serious issues when it comes to the security of the app and its data. I would have loved to see an independent review by one or more security researchers… But in the meantime it won’t hurt to install this; let’s just hope it does not drain the battery too much!

Thank you, BoingBoing, for pointing me to this beautiful and very understandable rendition of Lewis Caroll’s “Jabberwocky“:

And of course: thank you, TED-Ed, for making this video.

It’s good to see that Google’s security patches for Android (version 10 in this case) are distributed quickly. Even Samsung manages to get them out on time, at least for top devices like the Note 10+.

N975FXXS6DTI5 is the latest firmware update for the Samsung Galaxy Note 10+

So far I haven’t noticed any bugs or performance issues, so I assume that the essence of this update is indeed the security patch level…

Democracy only dies if a majority believe it no longer exists, or deem it not worth the effort to keep it alive. Dictators become dictators by puffing up their chests and talking tougher than they can walk. Mussolini marched on Rome with a mere 30,000 men; the authorities believed him when he said he had 300,000, so they gave in. “Give them faith that mountains can be moved,” Mussolini said, “they will accept that mountains are moveable. Thus an illusion may become reality.”

The article “The Strongman Con: How to stop worrying about Trump stealing the election” where this quote comes from is worth reading from start to finish!

September was a nice summer month in Belgium, except for the last days: storm Odette was not a hurricane, but still inflicted serious damage at the coast. In terms of sunshine, specifically: in terms of solar energy production on our roof, September was above average. The numbers for the meteorological summer in total (at least for our panels) aren’t the worst we’ve seen, but just about average.

The rain we’re having now is most welcome anyway, since those hot summer days left our garden hungry for water.

Just Wondering…

California wildfires? Must be a consequence of “bad forest management”.

Storms and hurricanes in the Mexican Gulf? That must be a consequence of “bad ocean management”, no?

I did not look at the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus for a few weeks, but when I started it up yesterday there was a new update waiting for me – including the September 1, 2020 security patches for Android. The update introduces the possibility to use Samsung DeX without a cable, at least if you have a Samsung smart TV (which I don’t have :-( ).

N975FXXU6DTH7

And now we wait for Android 11, I guess?

Yes, August 2020 was hot, very hot even, certainly for Belgium. But hot does not equal sunny, and high temperatures above 25 degrees Celsius have a negative impact on the efficiency of solar panels. Still, for our installation a production equal to 98% of the estimate is not that bad.

You might think that I’m using a biblical reference to write about how special these Corona times are (technically, we should call that SARS-CoV-2 times, but it’s too late to change what we hear and read more than once every day in 2020). The opposite is true: this is not the first pandemic in human history, and it may not be the last one either, unless humanity finally smartens up and decides to figure out how to avoid them in the future.

In the seventeenth century, the bubonic plague ravaged Europe. In those days, Tuscany’s wine merchants used “sportelle“, or “buchette del vino” as they were named later, to sell wine in a manner that protected as best as possible from contagion: through a small window in the wall or a door, separate from the normal shop. Merchants collected the payment for the wine in metal recipients, so that they could disinfect the coins with vinegar…

A picture from the buchettedelvino.org website: “A cup of ice cream is passed through the Wine Window of the Vivoli ice cream parlor in Via delle Stinche” (Click on the image to go to the website)

Some of the remaining buchette are put to good use again in 2020, in order to sell ice cream, coffee and drinks!

The website of the cultural association “Buchette del Vino” has more to tell about these little windows, and I will admit that it is quite intriguing to learn about such a tangible remnant of the cultural changes caused by a pandemic. I wonder: will the year 2020 also produce¬† tangible cultural changes lasting centuries?