Archive for October, 2017

Imagine my surprise when I started up Gnucash in order to update my books:

Do bookkeepers and accountants really need advice such as this?

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The title of the piece is what grabbed my attention: “The Mechanics of History“. You won’t see the mechanics of history, though. It’s just a simple piece of modern dance, accentuated by the music of Philip Glass.

Click to see the performance on Youtube
(Via BoingBoing)

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Remember the time when you managed to get your BBC Computer (or your Amiga or Spectrum or …) to output sounds? Did you ever get to composing songs? Or even just replaying well known melodies?

Click the image and for details and samples!

I never went much beyond “making sounds”. Pawel Zadroźniak, however, went a lot further. He’s using 64 floppy drives, 8 hard disks and 2 scanners to play songs. Meet the Floppotron, and be amazed!

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In Spain, “… detention of secessionist leaders sparks large protests” (as written by The Guardian) – the word “political prisoners” seems applicable.

In Malta, according to the late Daphne Caruana Galizia, democracy is even treated worse (source: The Guardian):

In a post from May this year, Caruana Galizia noted: “I don’t know why we should be surprised that organised crime has insinuated its tentacles into the highest echelons of government in Malta, using democracy for the purpose while undermining it thoroughly. If it happened in Italy and eastern Europe, it can happen here, where the institutions of state are so much weaker.”

In case you didn’t know: Daphne Caruana Galizia, Panama Papers journalist, was murdered on October 16th, probably by someone of the circles she called the Maltese mafia.

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There’s not much to say about such a little application, and yet I know that I will use it often: tyke.app. It’s just a little addition to your menu bar, and there’s no need for a manual ;-)
Just download the DMG file proposed, open it and drag the app to your Applications folder. And if you like it, just add it to the “Login items” of your account in the Preferences.

A propos the subject of open source: this app makes me question my desire to see the source of any application. On one hand, I would love to see the source code for this project, because it’s a great example of a simple application that is very useful, contrary to the eternal HelloWorld app. On the other hand, publishing the source code makes it very likely that someone(s) will start tinkering with the code, adding stuff that detracts from its real functionality and thus diminish its value – and that is not good.

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A Challenge For USA Politicians

I found an interesting analysis on the Politico website, comparing recent mass shootings in the USA with the city riots of the 1960’s: “Mass Shootings Are the Systemic Crisis Of Our Time“. It’s a serious read; let me just cite two quotes in an attempt to explain what the historian in me sees as the core of the text.

We think of urban rebellions as a defining crisis of 1960s America. Today, it is mass shootings, which are far more common than riots ever were back then—and far deadlier.

Why, then, is it taking us so long to see mass shootings as a systemic crisis, as we did 50 years ago when one city after another exploded into violence?

© Copyright Jim Hubbard | jim@jimhubbardphoto.com

You can’t have a good solution if you do not know the real problem, and that requires analysis. Which politician will try to answer the questions raised by Anna Clark?

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Julia Reda is a member of the European Parlement. In a recent publication she writes about an important subject that has just become part of a recommendation by the European Commission: “automated upload filters” should be used, according to the Commission, to stop illegal uploads and copyright infringement.

Click to read the full communication by Julia Reda

Julia Reda first clearly states what that means:

Installing censorship infrastructure that surveils everything people upload and letting algorithms make judgement calls about what we all can and cannot say online is an attack on our fundamental rights.

I agree with that: in a democracy, there is no place for preemptive censorship.

In addition, she gives 9 clear reasons why it is silly to think that that automated filters will be able to achieve what the Commission wants: those filters don’t work very well. Unless you think cats can sing pop songs, or unless you’re OK with the voice of war victims in Syria being stifled, etc…

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At least 17,723 Syrians have died in custody, according to Amnesty International. Since 2011, more than 65,000 people have disappeared, according to the Syrian Network for Human Rights.

Not by the hands of Daesh, mind you. No, he was killed by the hands of the Syrian regime (or what’s left of it). Wired published the story of one of those victims, Bassel Khartabil, in an article titled “How One Syrian Fought To The Death For A Free Internet“.

Bassel Khartabil said “…a phone with a camera is a hundred times more powerful than a gun“. Clearly, a dictatorial regime must believe that, or they wouldn’t have executed him when he was barely 34 years old. No one seems to know for sure, but it probably happened on or about October 5, 2015.

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Ten days ago, I spotted a new visitor in our garden: a couple of long-tailed tits stopped by and sampled the peanuts. Wikipedia says that they are not exactly scarce, so I hope to see them more often.

A long-tailed tit feeding in our garden

A long-tailed tit feeding in our garden
(click for a larger version of the picture)

PS. In Dutch the long-tailed tit is called a “staartmees“.

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Sad, But True

These are not my words:

Terrorism is a racist term in the US. It means white people were harmed by people who aren’t white. If the shooter is white, he’s just crazy.

But how true, and not just for the USA.

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A Pessimistic Solar Update

I have updated our solar electricity production numbers with the lowest yield for any September for our installation. 2017 will probably turn out to be a “bad” year for our panels.

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Go, Catalunya !

No comment required – just check the news headlines. Or Twitter #cataloniareferendum

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