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I discovered Scott Helme’s blog only recently, but I’m glad I did. Scott knows much more about HTTPS and certificates than I do, and he succeeds in explaining the subject in a very understandable way. The post that pointed me to his blog explains how certificate “Revocation is broken“. And that subject has some surprising aspects, by the way. Earlier posts on his blog will let you discover what SSL means, how you can install certificates, what to look out for, and more.

Let’s face it: I’m happy to blog here on the WordPress site, which takes care of all the SSL stuff for this blog (and probably does it better than I could do myself at this moment). But if I want to continue to help build and run other websites, I’ll have to get my hands dirty on this subject! We may all be waiting for the days when “buying” a domain name will include the corresponding SSL certificates, but as long as that isn’t the case, you and I will have to do it ourselves. That’s where people like Scott can be a big help.

Here in Belgium, at least, Samsung released an OTA update for the Galaxy S7 to bring Android up to the security patch level of July 1st, 2017. I’m beginning to think that Samsung might make this a regular thing ;-)

After the patch, this is what the system says.

Our solar panels complained strongly about the weather yesterday evening: Tuesday was so gloomy, that it was worse than on many winter days! Let me illustrate that with a quick statistic. In January of this year, more than half of the time the panels produced significantly more electricity than they did yesterday: 17 days saw numbers well above the 1.25 KWh of August 8. Of all the August days in the life of our installation, only the 26th of 2014 was a tiny bit worse.

What a contrast with what we hear about Southern Europe, where a heat wave is causing droughts…

The language isn’t new: Kotlin was created more than 5 years ago by JetBrains engineers. A preview version was released in 2011. Kotlin is a statically typed programming language for the Java Virtual Machine (JVM). Being crude, you could say that it’s “just another” enhancement of the Java language, just like Groovy or Scala. Nice, but hardly indispensable.

But Kotlin made a name for itself in May 2017, when Google announced “that it is making Kotlin […] a first-class language for writing Android apps” (in the words of Frederic Lardinois on TechCrunch). The Wired website has a bit more info on why the language was developed and why it is so “hot” these days. And the article concludes:

And its applications extend well beyond Google’s platform. Like Java, it can be used to write apps that run on desktops and servers as well. Plus, JetBrains has released tools for translating Kotlin code into code that can run on iOS or even in web browsers. All of which is to say, you can expect to find yourself using apps written in Kotlin more and more often in the coming months and years.

I have not yet written a line of Kotlin, but perhaps I should try that sooner rather than later. Since I’m also looking at Apple’s Swift language, the combination of learning both could be beneficial… or problematic, since someone asserts that both are quite similar (but not the same, of course): see “Swift is like Kotlin” for details.

I still would like to know how the name “Kotlin” was chosen…

I have updated the numbers on our electricity production. There’s nothing exceptional to report. If anything, a number just below average isn’t surprising, considering the many half-cloudy days of July. It seems contrary to to expectations, but the heat of many of those July days did not come from the sun, but from hot air blown coming from the South.

We had at most two days without clouds; if there are numbers on that somewhere, then surely July 2017 will be very much below average on that count!

Ars Technica introduced me to the inventor of the equals sign. I was surprised to read that it was a 16th century Welsh scholar who came up with this symbol, since so much of our algebraic foundations was passed on through and from Arab scholars in the Middle Ages. Anyway, here’s a quote from the man we’re talking about:

And to avoide the tediouse repetition of these woordes: is equalle to: I will sette as I doe often in worke use, a paire of paralleles, or Gemowe lines of one lengthe, thus: = , bicause noe .2. thynges, can be moare equalle..

More about the life of Robert Recorde can be read in the Wikipedia, of course. He must have been quite a character: he taught mathematics in Oxford in his youth, went on to study medicine, then became a “controller of Mint” in several places. He also wrote the first English book on Algebra, called “The Grounde of Artes“, and later followed up with a book that introduced the equals sign (his invention) as well as the symbols for plus and minus that were already in use in Germany.

Click on the image to go to the original text of Robert Recorde

Click on the image to go to the original text of Robert Recorde

One of the commentators on the Ars article says the text of this 1557 work is transcribed in the Gutenberg Project; unfortunately, that’s wrong. A copy of “The Whetstone of Witte” can be found in the Internet Archive.

The title of the article on this German motorcycle website is not exactly correct, but it may well point to something that will soon be a reality: “Südtirol sperrt ersten Dolomitenpass. Experiment am Sellajoch“. No, this alpine pass, the Sella Pass, isn’t permanently forbidden for all traffic. But local authorities are experimenting with an interdiction for all cars and motorcycles powered by combustion engines: this summer, only cyclists and electric vehicles – and horses – can travel over the pass on Wednesdays. I can appreciate the words of Reinhold Messner, one of the supporters of this measure, as quoted in the article:

Damit die Berge wie vor 200 Jahren genossen werden können: Der Berg ist ein Ort der Langsamkeit und des Schweigen, nicht der Geschwindigkeit.

Translated to English: “That way, the mountains can be enjoyed like 200 years ago: the mountains are the realm of slowness and silence, not a place for speed“.

Photo by Klaus Nahr (CC BY-SA 2.0) on Flickr

Some cities have already set the first steps into a future with more electric vehicles, and now the mountains could well be next in line. I understand the rationale behind that strategy, even if it means that I can no longer wait too many years to try a few mountain passes myself (or invest in an electric motorcycle, of course).