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Archive for April, 2015

We all “know” that computers are everywhere, but we tend to forget that even those computers that pretend to be single-purpose machines can actually be reprogrammed to do something else. As proof I offer you the Canon DSLR cameras.

Like the cameras from Nikon, Sony, and many others, these digital machines contain a computer (or more than one, in many cases). The Magic Lantern crew, renowned for their expertise with Canon digital cameras, has succeeded in getting a standard Linux kernel 3.19 to run on the camera, using the LCD screen for output. Given time and a bit of assistance by Canon, this could change the world of photography (or at least the world of camera producers): your camera could be set free from the software limitations set by its maker, just by reprogramming it – when you buy a PC, you are not obliged to stick to the operating system that’s put on in the factory, are you?

Sample screen shot of a DLSR running Linux, taken from the ML forums.

Sample screen shot of a DLSR running Linux, taken from the ML forums.

Is this part of the Internet of Things? In a way, yes, and certainly for cameras with onboard WiFi connectivity. Could it be important step in the development of the camera market? Nobody can say that at this time. Should you be worried when someone asks you to insert his/her memory card into your camera “just for a few shots”? Well, don’t underestimate hackers!

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One of my friends mentioned his buying t-shirts from the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster a few days ago. I did check my blog for the first mention of the CotFSM – of course I knew about them a long time ago. Strangely enough, I found that the migration of EditThisPage.com to here somehow had been touched by His Noodliness, because the post of February 12th, 2006, was twice present in this blog! For consistency’s sake, I deleted one of those two posts (yes, I was talking about the consistency of my blog, and nothing else).

But the pasta story does not end there. I’m not a big fan of April fool jokes – most of them are not funny or just plain tacky. But somehow I was guided to the 1957 April Fools’ video made by the BBC, about the “spaghetti harvest” in Switzerland.

Funny, well-made – that’s to be expected from an institute like the BBC! I haven’t checked all the years between then and today, but they also created a fine video report about the discovery of flying penguins (just search for “bbc flying penguins” on YouTube, there’s even a making of)…

But don’t you think it’s more than a coincidence that a joke about pasta pops up just when I have the CotFSM on my mind?

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Late Night Special ;-)

I have just updated my computer-related poetry page with a new limerick about… byte sex. Might not be what you expected, though.

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Here’s what I happened to see on April 17th, 2015, purely by accident, really – I wasn’t on the prowl for a example of bad website management.

20150417-smartbiz-content-curation-required.be

The titles in blue are links to news articles published on the site; the text below is the latest comment on said article. This shows that a spammer has been at work on this site for at least two years or so…

Note: the image just shows a small piece of the webpage – but to be clear: those comments were next to one another at that very moment. No doctoring of the image was necessary to see them as shown.

I know it can be hard to read every comment on your website, especially if your organisation publishes a news website – but if you do not handle such cases, then you’re likely to lose readers (like me!) who visit your site in search of interesting, timely news. Spam on your site, even if it’s just in the comments, means that the website and its authors do not care about their reader’s feedback. So you’re just pushing news bits on your site, without a bigger story? Even that looks like a (mild) form of spam to me…

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For those Apple Inc. fans who are a bit younger than me: Apple did already release a watch many years ago. In all probability this was just a promotional article. Here’s a picture of said watch as it can be found in my office…

The iMac watch was released around 2000...

The iMac watch was released around 2000…

This watch does not mention the name “Apple” anywhere, but it’s hard to imagine that Apple would not be involved in a product that bears its logo and the iMac name ;-)

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I had to wait in Mechelen for a train yesterday (after 7 p.m., the frequency of the train I need to get home drops), so that gave me an opportunity to get some shots of the work in progress just behind the current location of the station. I use these pictures to measure the changes in my daily world… see more of them on Flickr.

Railroad Bridge Graffiti (Mechelen, Belgium)

Railroad Bridge Graffiti (Mechelen, Belgium)

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First Spring Ride

It was not the first time I rode my BMW this year, but yesterday certainly was the first ride of Spring – the weather was too good to stay inside. So I went to see the water skiers and power boats on the canal in Viersel (Belgium).

Rising temperatures and lots of sunlight bring great colours

Rising temperatures and lots of sunlight bring great colours

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On March 20th, we saw a partial solar eclipse here in Belgium – I even managed to get a few pictures of it, although the sky was pretty clouded (luckily for me and my colleagues, because we had no eclipse glasses!).

Solar eclipse, 2015-03-20 10:23 (Brussels, Belgium)

Solar eclipse, 2015-03-20 10:23 (Brussels, Belgium)

Scientific American publishes an article about “How Solar-Heavy Europe Avoided a Blackout during Total Eclipse“. Indeed, we had no blackout in Brussels – the clouds in the sky made for a gloomy morning that did not really change in character (nor lack of luminosity) during the eclipse. Interestingly, a dutch forum of high-tension aficionados mentions the fact that the wind also generated less electricity during the eclipse (at least in Denmark) – less wind during eclipses is normal, but it certainly wasn’t mentioned in the press here, neither before nor after the eclipse.

Anyway, the rise of wind and solar power in Europe will make future eclipses more dangerous for the stability of our power grid, thus requiring extra measures to manage the fluctuations:

Among the recommendations are additional integration with other European power systems, domestic grid extensions, better integration of large consumers into the power market, the development of flexible storage technologies and the build-out of highly flexible power plants.

Let’s hope the European power grid managers know what to do now… in order to make the power grid smarter and more resilient.

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I have had a “Wiki on a stick” for a long time, using one of the many forms of the classic TiddlyWiki, stored on a USB-stick. Sidenote: these days, TiddlyWiki has been reengineered and can be run on a server, using Node.js – how time changes things, no?

Stick 'em up your TV !

Stick ’em up your TV !

Anyway, while I was still contemplating a Wiki on a stick, Google – or better: Asus – is going to sell a Chromebit. That will be a complete computer in the same form factor as a USB stick, although actually it is a HDMI stick, since it requires an HDMI port on the display to work. The Chromebit is a computer – without display and keyboard – running Google’s Chrome OS (Chrome Operating System). The Chromebit will turn your TV, or another HDMI display like any modern monitor, into a Chrome OS computer whenever you want.

The term “portable computer” never got so light. I wonder what this will do to the whole “Bring Your Own Device” trend…

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No, This Is Not A Weather Blog

I’m not turning this blog into a weather reporting log. But having just spent two nights fighting a particularly nasty cold, I was more than happy to be able to have a walk in the sun today.

nice-weather.jpg

I know, it’s the day of the “Ronde van Vlaanderen“, and I want to see the race too – but getting outside for a bit of sun is impossible to “replay” on your TV !

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