Archive for October, 2014

From “Mustapha Hamoui’s Geek Blog::

Like email, the personal blog’s technology is not owned and controlled by a company. It’s a decentralized technology that goes whenever you go. If you choose to follow a blog, no company like facebook can decide whether or not you can read its posts. So don’t hesitate to blog away. If you think blogs are dying, ask yourself: Are emails going away anytime soon?

Right on. And don’t you call email “exciting”!

Click to image to read about "The Blog as Literary Genre"

Click to image to read about “The Blog as Literary Genre”

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Google reinvents the “face unlock” feature of Android, and seems to succeed in putting it to excellent use in a user-friendly solution: “Google made one of Android’s jokes into something clever“.

They took this technology (face recognition), and finally applied it in a useful way. It’s a subtle thing, but the difference between “staring at your phone to unlock it” and “reading a notification unlocks it” is a huge difference.

It’s this kind of progress that makes me want to use Lollipop ASAP!

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I’m an OS X user at home, not a *nix terminal junkie. But there are good reasons to use the Terminal app on a Mac, for example when you’re a developer or a photographer: wildcards are great to handle large numbers of files in multiple directories ;-)

I used to have a little button in my Finder windows that allowed me to open a Bash shell on the currently shown folder, but somehow managed to lose that when moving to OS X 10.8 and 10.9. So I’m happy to report that the “cd to” app (https://github.com/jbtule/cdto) is still working fine in OS X 10.10.


I installed version 2.61 without any trouble, just by following the instructions on Github. Happy bashing!

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Alex Cruickshank tried, just for day, to live with the technology from 25 years ago, just doing his job – but without modern cars, smartphones, GPS directions, the Internet, etc. He writes about it in two blog posts on the IDG Connect website: “Living With 1990 Tech For A Day“, “Part 1” and “Part 2“.

Computer? What Computer? This is a smart typewriter, that's all!

Computer? What Computer? This is a smart typewriter, that’s all!

I don’t suppose my children will ever completely understand what it meant to not miss all those future innovations; and I guess the same is true for any generation: my grandparents were born in a world without radio, but spent their last years viewing colour television shows (including images from space) and calling anyone in the world by telephone.

At the same time, it’s easy to think that technological innovations never came faster that the last 50 years, but I have no proof for that statement. What is true, is that the speed of popularisation of innovations like the personal computer or the Internet has never before in history been so fast. But will that always be the case from from now on?

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Math Gone Mad?

Martin Gardner used to be the Mathematical Games columnist of Scientific American magazine. His 100th birthday is celebrated this month with a dedicated series of articles on the man and the math and puzzles he introduced in the magazine. As an illustration, here’s Make Your Own Hexaflexagons…and Snap Pictures of Them


What a word: hexaflexagon! And hexahexaflexagons exist as well… More details about these and other flexagons can found on the Wikipedia, and beyond on the Web.

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Finally I can show you a picture of my bike that’s worthy of a place in the collection of R1100S photographs in a touring setting. I love the lighting on this photo, with a soft sun and a little haze in the background.

Yes, Belgium has nice landscapes too

Yes, Belgium has nice landscapes too

Why show this today? Because I went touring today, of course.

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The Holy Grail Of Portable Apps

While reading “Chrome OS can now run Android apps, no porting required” on Ars Technica, a thought sprang to mind: when will Microsoft allow Windows Phone apps to run on a desktop, and vice-versa? Wasn’t .Net made for that?

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I did mention a model kit of a BMW motorcycle a month ago, and now I finally found a picture of the Revell box:


No, mine never got to look that nice; in fact, I never finished it and finally threw out the pieces – that’s what happens when you move to a bigger house and start raising three kids!

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What is ‘content‘? As usual, definitions are hard to get right. As usual, all depends on the context.

For me it is clear: the term “content” is most appropriate in  the context of “content management tools”, specifically those tools where several types of content are mixed together in a single application. So you might say “content” is the generic word for many categories of more or less creative and certainly digital deliverables, like articles, drawings, photographs, books, tweets, movies, etc.

I agree with Tim Bray: if the word “content” turns up in a business plan, then it may well mean “shit we don’t actually care about but will attract eyeballs and make people click on ads“. There are already more than enough ads on the Web, thank you!

My first blog post

My first blog post

There is another word that is hard to explain on one hand, and laughed at as being a thing of the (recent) past on the other: “blogging” (or “web logging” as it was called originally). When I started a site on the famous “EditThisPage.com”, I was just looking for a cheap way to build a website without having to code every page in HTML from the ground up. Yes, I called it a “weblog”, but I didn’t really understand what that meant – in fact, I once tried to convince Dave Winer that a “web log” should always, in each and every post, contain links to the Web… It took me some time to understand that strange word “blog”: it’s just a way to describe the behaviour of the tool that handles (a part of) a website. The “content” (there’s that word again) being published can be short, as in a “linkblog”, or long, as in an “article” or “paper” – and I’m limiting myself to textual publications, but that’s my choice, not mandatory for a blog.

From day one on, my “blog” contained more than blog posts – the “More…” tab on top of this page contains (badly categorized) writings that I thought would be more permanent in nature than the blog posts. I’m no longer sure the distinction is worth emphasizing, but remember: the meaning of words depends on the context, and the passing of the years has shifted the context as well. Jeffrey Zeldman captures the essence of that temporal shift when he writes “This is a Website” on his blog! And so, in the end of this “blog post”, Dave Winer was the one who saw the future: anything goes on a blog/website, as long as it is “the natural expression of the unedited voice of an individual“. If we can’t have that on the Web, then the Web has no place in my life.

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I’m waiting for the next version of the unofficial CyanogenMod 11.0 (ION based) for the Galaxy S Plus (GT-I9001) before installing it on my wife’s SGS+ – if I can get her to hand it over to me for a few hours ;-)

Sample screenshot of CM11 on the SGS+

Sample screenshot of
CM11 on the SGS+

I guess it’s safer to wait a bit longer; there are still a few wrinkles to iron out if I understand the latest posts on the thread. In the meantime I can point interested readers to the SGS+ Wiki page on the XDA Developers site. It contains a lot of interesting information and links if you’re contemplating upgrading your phone to a more recent Android version. And if the choice in the Wiki isn’t to your liking, hop over to another thread that has even more choices.

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Aral Balkan wrote about “Schnail Mail: free real mail for life!” more than a year ago. Now he calls the “business practices ” behind Schnail Mail “http://aralbalkan.com/notes/spyware-2.0“. Whether you agree 100% with him is not essential; you can’t deny that his reasoning is out of place in a time when everyone is taking about the NSA and Snowden and …

While you’re at it, check out the ind.ie website, where the products of the Indienet, which is part of Aral Bakan’s vision, come to life. I’m reading the Pulse documentation; I can totally see myself using this tool for peer-to-peer copying of files.

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On the Podio blog I read a post about “Productivity tips from the Podio team“. The good news: most of the tips have nothing to do with the tools, but with the way to do the task or tasks at hand – and that’s how it should be.

A good tip reads “Write everything down. Keep notes in plain text files in Dropbox“. But you can do better than that: use Dave Winer’s “Fargo“. Fargo saves its content in Dropbox as well, but it’s more than just a text editor, it’s “a simple idea outliner, notepad, todo list, project organizer“. If you want to keep up a semblance of tidiness in your notes, an outliner can be a great help ;-)

Click the image for more details

Click the image for more details about Fargo

For the mobile users among us: yes, Fargo works on an Android tablet, in the Chrome browser (I have not yet tried other browsers). I don’t have an iPad at hand to test that out. Forget about a smartphone, no matter how big the screen (unless, perhaps, if you have a really big screen and an external keyboard). A mobile app for this outliner would be more than just ‘a nice touch’, though.

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It was inevitable, of course, that quadcopters turned up in art – just like any form of technology. So here it is: “Cirque du Soleil, ETH Zurich, and Verity Studios have partnered to develop a short film featuring 10 quadcopters in a flying dance performance“: Sparked (on Youtube).

Click on the picture to enjoy a look "behind the scenes" of Sparked.

Click on the picture to enjoy a look “behind the scenes” of Sparked.

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Silly, or not? Make up your own mind, after reading “Ig Nobel Prizes Make You Laugh, Then Think“, or “Ig Nobel winner: Using pork to stop nosebleeds“, or the unavoidable Improbable Research website.

The official mascot of the Ig Nobel Prizes

The official mascot of the Ig Nobel Prizes

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Anyone reading my blog with some regularity will have noticed that I’m quite fond of my current motorcycle, a BMW R1100S. It’s a fine ride, with just enough fairing to keep most of the insects away yet let’s me feel the wind. And I love its looks: the relative lightness of this bike is emphasised by the elegant lines of the fairing, tank cover and saddle.

However, my wife complains about her position on the pillion, and even an Airhawk doesn’t really help her. So I have been on the lookout for a replacement, specifically the R1200ST (yes, it has to be a boxer). Compared to the R1100s, the ST is supposed to less sporty – but that’s OK by me – and more comfortable, especially for the passenger – right on! They’re hard to find, though…

Click the picture for more details and pictures

Click the picture for more details and pictures

Just a few days ago at the German Intermot show, BMW announced the BMW R1200RS: “Ob für sportliche Landstraßenfahrt, dynamischen Fahrgenuss zu zweit oder die große Urlaubstour – die neue R 1200 RS erschließt in puncto Sporttouring neue, faszinierende Dimensionen…“. Well, I’ll wait until I can read a few reviews and see it in the flesh – and possibly try it out with my wife – before I start saving. Let’s face it: it isn’t as good-looking as my current fave, but if the R1200RS is what needed to make both of us happy on a trip, I’ll take it.

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