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Archive for August, 2020

You might think that I’m using a biblical reference to write about how special these Corona times are (technically, we should call that SARS-CoV-2 times, but it’s too late to change what we hear and read more than once every day in 2020). The opposite is true: this is not the first pandemic in human history, and it may not be the last one either, unless humanity finally smartens up and decides to figure out how to avoid them in the future.

In the seventeenth century, the bubonic plague ravaged Europe. In those days, Tuscany’s wine merchants used “sportelle“, or “buchette del vino” as they were named later, to sell wine in a manner that protected as best as possible from contagion: through a small window in the wall or a door, separate from the normal shop. Merchants collected the payment for the wine in metal recipients, so that they could disinfect the coins with vinegar…

A picture from the buchettedelvino.org website: “A cup of ice cream is passed through the Wine Window of the Vivoli ice cream parlor in Via delle Stinche” (Click on the image to go to the website)

Some of the remaining buchette are put to good use again in 2020, in order to sell ice cream, coffee and drinks!

The website of the cultural association “Buchette del Vino” has more to tell about these little windows, and I will admit that it is quite intriguing to learn about such a tangible remnant of the cultural changes caused by a pandemic. I wonder: will the year 2020 also produce  tangible cultural changes lasting centuries?

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A few days ago, my Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus could already install the August 1, 2020 Android security patches. If only Samsung (and other phone manufacturers) were always so quick to support more devices for many more years: the latest Samsung Galaxy S7 security patch is dated March 1, 2020…

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You must also study and learn the lessons of history because humanity has been involved in this soul-wrenching, existential struggle for a very long time. People on every continent have stood in your shoes, through decades and centuries before you. The truth does not change, and that is why the answers worked out long ago can help you find solutions to the challenges of our time.

John Robert Lewis (February 21, 1940 – July 17, 2020), in the New York Times of July 30, 2020

Ignoring the history you don’t like is not a victimless act, and a history of America that ignores white supremacy is a white supremacist’s history of America. Which matters, because while it might seem obvious history isn’t over yet. It’s still being written.

John Oliver, on in the video “Last Week Tonight” of August 2, 2020 on YouTube

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It had been a while, many years actually, since I needed the Windows equivalent of “touch“. You don’t know that command? All it does is change to modification date and time of a file (or a series of files) to the current date and time of the computer. I used to turn to the Cygwin toolkit to get things done, in the days when corporate Windows PC’s weren’t so closed off and you could install your own tools.

Luckily for me there is an equivalent in Windows, on the command line. You can use this somewhat strange command to get the same result:

copy /b filename.ext +,,

Yes, that’s a plus sign followed by two commas at the end. I’m writing it up here because I know I won’t remember that correctly in a few days!

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92% would be a good exam result for any student, but when it comes to solar electricity production I like to see numbers above 100% – especially in what are supposed to be the sunniest months of the year. But the Royal Meteorological Institute (in Dutch) tells us that July 2020 was a bit less warm than normal, had a bit less sunshine than normal, and had less rain than normal (normal being defined as the average since 1981). In fact, July 2020 only had a single day with non-stop clear blue skies. Since we’re going to have a real heat wave the coming days, I hope we’ll see some more “perfectly sunny days” in August.

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