Archive for January, 2017

Innovation In Advertising?

Perhaps the word “innovation” is too strong. These days, that term is being abused in so many ways that it is beginning to lose its true meaning.

But this Swedish billboard in the center of Stockholm certainly is different from what we’re used to. Yes, we already have video screens acting as advertising and using video to do so. But this one interacts with its environment:

At first glance, the digital screen positioned outside a metro station shows only a simple photo of a model. But walk by with a lit cigarette and the man in the picture starts coughing, clearly bothered by the smoke.

The screen then changes again, offering various products sold by pharmacy chain Apotek Hjartat that can help smokers quit.

Source: CNN Media

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If I had an Apple Watch, I absolutely would need to have this charging stand!

Image of the Elago Vintage W3 Apple Watch Stand

The Elago Vintage W3 Apple Watch Stand

Thanks for pointing this out, BoingBoing (Clever Apple Watch stand that looks like an Apple Macintosh) !

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On December 23rd, 2016, I bought a few books, as I am accustomed to do every year in the holiday season. One of those books is a second-hand copy of Brian Green’s “The Elegant Universe“. I have already read some of his other books, and I am – since a long time – quite interested in the origin and evolution of the universe as well as fundamental physics. So this buy was a no-brainer.

For some reason I could not put the book down once I started reading (although I had not yet finished William Gibson’s “The Peripheral“, but that one has to wait). Green writes about the development of superstring theory from an insider viewpoint, and that makes the story much more interesting. Even if your mathematics isn’t that great (like mine) this book can help you understand the essence of string theory, so I recommend it strongly.


To start his story, Green clearly explains Special Relativity and General Relativity. As it should, Albert Einstein features prominently in his exposé. From there on, Green explains, one after the other, the problems encountered by theoretical physicists and the solutions devised to solve them. Einstein is mentioned regularly in most of the chapters.

And then, a few days ago, an online news site extensively mentioned Einstein as an author on a completely different subject: politics. Hence I discovered that Einstein was more than “just” a brilliant physicist. Already in 1909 (!) Albert Einstein wrote:

Nevertheless, it is necessary to remember that a planned economy is not yet socialism. A planned economy as such may be accompanied by the complete enslavement of the individual. The achievement of socialism requires the solution of some extremely difficult socio-political problems: how is it possible, in view of the far-reaching centralization of political and economic power, to prevent bureaucracy from becoming all-powerful and overweening? How can the rights of the individual be protected and therewith a democratic counterweight to the power of bureaucracy be assured?

(Source: Monthly Review)

I have not yet found the time to read more about Einsteins views on politics, but it says something about the man that he was already quite outspoken on this subject even before he rose to fame (after all, his paper on Special Relativity saw the light four years later, in 1912). At the same time, I can only see that we have not yet found an answer to his questions, let alone a solution to the problems posed…

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This cartoon from Clay Bennett nicely sums up my feelings about today, January 20th. What will become of tomorrow? How will things turn out, especially on a global scale?

"The Transfer (by Clay Bennett on the Times Free Press in Chattanooga, TN)

“The Transfer” (by Clay Bennett in
the Times Free Press in Chattanooga, TN)
Click on the image to go to the source

Each era has its own idiosyncracies. Now is the era of social media, and that’s why you can now find a Chrome browser extension called ‘“President” Trump‘. As one of the commentators writes: “Correct punctuation matters, even subliminally. I might even go back to reading the news now!

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Why was I reading Byte Magazine in those days ? Because my Serbo-Croatian language skills amount to exactly zero. But these computer magazine covers from the 1980’s and 1990’s are certainly worth a look, if only for nostalgia’s sake. Just have a look at this example from September 1987.

Cover of Racunari, September 1987

Click on the image to see more “Yugoslavian Computer Magazine Cover Girls of the 1980s-90s

See that Sinclair Spectrum on the girls lap? See the mention of the BBC Archimedes, which launched in 1987 – I could not afford one at the time… Anyway, a few (actually, many!) of the other covers are a lot “racier”, if you understand my meaning – and I’m not talking about the speed of the microprocessors.

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No Milk Today, Just MLK Day

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Ethics Versus (Big) Money

I don’t think I have ever before linked to a post on LinkedIn. Usually links appear on LinkedIn, the inverse is rare for most users. But this is a special post, and most of the reactions to the post explain why.

(Click to read the post on LinkedIn)

George A. Poliser published his resignation from Oracle:

I am not with President-elect Trump and I am not here to help him in any way. In fact –when his policies border on the unconstitutional, the criminal and the morally unjust –I am here to oppose him in every possible and legal way.

Therefore I must resign from this once great company.

Just go read his explanation for this decision. Here in Europe we know there is more common sense in the USA than can be found on Twitter, but it’s good to see such a powerful expression of integrity.

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Since the update to iOS 10.2 my test devices emitted this message: “[Some application] May Slow Down Your iPad“. Specifically: I have seen the message once on each device and for the given app, regardless of the number of reboots.

Image of the warning message

Stackoverflow tells me (indirectly) that the message is caused by the fact that our app is currently built in a 32-bit architecture, and that we should upgrade to 64 bits.

Is that correct? And: is the message shown only once, or could it reappear later on?

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Here are some of the technical reasons that helped me choose the Galaxy S7 as my new daily companion: it would fit in my current leather belt clip, and it has a micro-USB port like many of my other “toys-)”. However…

I would like to know how the S7 supposedly detects water or moisture in the micro-USB connector. You see, I set up the S7 in the Samsung Desktop Dock (model EDD-D200BE), just as I did with my Galaxy S3 at first and later with the Galaxy J5. For a brief moment, the S7 detects the current and adds a lightning symbol to the battery indicator – and then it notifies me that the micro-USB connector detects water… and it won’t charge, regardless of the adapter and the charge delivered by it.

Image of the original S3 cradle, which also worked for the J5, but not for the S7...

The original S3 cradle also worked for the J5,
but not for the S7…

Too bad, because I liked the fact that I can just the phone in the cradle, knowing that it will charge and at the same time be easily visible. Such a dock also works great on holiday: it’s easy to transport and transforms your phone into a bedside alarm clock ;-)

Samsung only offers a wireless charging stand, which looks nice – but I have read comments telling me that it’s a bit fiddly to get the phone positioned for charging. Apart from this and other wireless chargers, I only found more or less “universal” charging docks. Considering my experience with the Samsung model I already have, I’m not inclined to spend money on something that possibly/probably won’t work. If you have a working solution, don’t hesitate to leave a comment!

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Short Operating System News

I’m sorry to read that Cyanogen will stop its work on the renowned alternative to Google’s Android. I like CyanogenMod a lot, as evidenced by my writings on the subject. We’ll have to wait and see if LineageOS can replace it.

The good news: Pixel OS for Raspberry Pi. I should really get one… but then again: there are already too many computers on my desk!

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2016 was not the best of years, and I’m not talking about the results of referendums or presidential elections – there are already enough comments on what happened on a global scale last year. In 2016, my wife and I experienced a few (temporary) medical problems that frightened us a lot, although in the end we’re back to normal, more or less.

On top of that the sun did not play nice with us in 2016. In fact, 2016 is the year with the lowest total solar energy production for our system. We did not hit 2 megawatt-hours over the whole year, mostly because of a cloudy meteorological summer. In fact, it’s the month of June that failed to deliver. Just look at this graph: the dip in the curve where the top should have been is the (low) production of June 2016.

Graph showing the Solar energy production per month for 2016

Solar energy production per month for 2016

Let’s hope that 2017 may be sunnier than last year, on all counts!

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All The Best For 2017 !


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