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It cannot be repeated enough: “There is No Middle Ground on Encryption” says the EFF. Specifically: the so-called “backdoors” requested by government can only weaken the encryption used, basically rendering it vulnerable to malicious attacks. The legal arguments put forward by the EFF are, of course, specific to the USA, but similar cases can certainly be built in many other countries. And the other arguments only fail to convince those who don’t know what they’re talking about… So let’s spread the word: no backdoors!

Source: Shutterstock

Also interesting is the fact that the general conclusion from a 1996 (!) study (also quoted by the EFF) still remains pretty valid:

It is true that the spread of encryption technologies will add to the burden of those in government who are charged with carrying out certain law enforcement and intelligence activities. But the many benefits to society of widespread commercial and private use of cryptography outweigh the disadvantages.

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April 2018 was an exceptionally warm month in Belgium, according to the local meteorological services. But “warm” does not equal “sunny”. In fact, April 2018 was almost the April with the least sunlight in the history of our panels – only April 2012 was a bit darker. And 82% of the average is nothing to boast about…

The good news: today is a fine, sunny day – much better than yesterday!

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I like bamboo a lot when it comes to kitchen cutting boards: bamboo is much tougher than most wood for that use case. I also have a shirt made of bamboo fiber, and that works well on a hot summer day. And now an entrepreneur in the Philippines is using it in the construction of a motorcycle:

The Green Falcon is Banatti’s inaugural offering, an electric motorcycle boasting a bamboo body shell that, including the seat, speedo, and housing, weighs in at just 14.5 pounds which Lacson says is markedly less than what it would weigh if made of fiberglass.

You’ll find more details on the RideApart website! The look of the bike is unusual, just like the material.

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March 2018 was the darkest month of March since 2009, measured by the solar energy production of our panels. It was the darkest March by far, by the way, since a production of 133 KWh is far below the previous minimum of March 2013. It’s just 87% of that minimum, and more than 20% less than last year – those numbers cannot be explained by the diminishing efficiency of the panels.

We don’t need a blue sky from dusk till dawn; we don’t mind a few clouds or a bit of rain. But more sun would be welcome, and not just for our panels (I’m not too good making photos with artificial light).

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The BBC writes about “The world’s oldest working planetarium“. The man who built this planetarium must have been very special, very smart and pretty handy – would you tackle such an endeavour?

Uranus, Neptune and Pluto are missing, of course, because they hadn’t been discovered when Eisinga hammered in the final nail in 1781. Even so, it is astonishing: a Baroque theatre for stargazers, crowning the living room of a modest wool comber who lived shortly after the Dutch Golden Age. All told, an unfathomable undertaking considering Eisinga quit school aged 12.

The Royal Eise Eisinga Planetarium is the world’s oldest working planetarium (Credit: The Royal Eise Eisinga Planetarium)

Franeker isn’t exactly a household name, even for those of us who, like me, have traveled to the Friesland province in the Netherlands. But the city is not just home to the house of Eise Eisinga, who built the planetarium mentioned in the BBC article, but is also the birthplace of Jan Hendrik Oort, the man who gave his name to the Oort Cloud surrounding the solar system. I am putting Franeker on my list of destinations for a future weekend trip – it would also give me a good reason to drive over the famous Afsluitdijk.

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Yesterday I discovered a failing WD MyBook; here’s what I did to replace it.

  1. I dumped the old MyBook enclosure;
  2. Since I still had a working Sitecom “no screws needed” enclosure for 3.5″ disks, I decided to use that rather than a new one. I just bought a new hard disk (a Seagate 1 TB if you must know – cheap, but good enough for a 10 year old iMac);
  3. I also bought a Sitecom “Hard Drive Docking Station” that offers 2 drive bays and a “clone a disk” function;
  4. Using the docking station, I cloned the original disk from the MyBook, which still had all the Time Machine backups from the iMac. This took a few hours, but other than putting in the disks and pushing a button for three seconds it was effortless on my behalf;
  5. Then I put the new HD into the enclosure, connected it to the iMac…

… and presto: the iMac recognised the disk, Time Machine got to work, and… nothing – things are back as they should be. Simple, heh?

The Sitecom docking station with the old HD in it

I can still use the old hard disk – or any other disk, for that matter – as an occasional external disk using the docking station. Even though I have just used it once, I like the docking station for its simplicity: it worked straight out of the box. The instructions take up only a single page of a little booklet. As someone wrote in an online review of the thing: ‘the only thing missing, is an “eject” button, that might save you from pulling out a disk while it is still in use by your computer‘. Well, if that’s the only weakness…

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We’re using a WesternDigital MyBook Studio to make TimeMachine backups of the family iMac in the living room. We bought this device around 2010, if memory serves me well. So when I noticed that it wouldn’t start up anymore, I immediately thought: how can I replace the disk with a newer one? After all these years, a hard disk failure is the most probable cause of trouble, no?

The enclosure of these MyBooks isn’t easy to open, but there’s at least one video on Youtube that explains the procedure:

Click to see the video on Youtube

While it’s not the exact same model as ours, it turns out that the enclosure is nearly (or even perfectly) identical. So I owe BenoniStudio many thanks for helping me. Be warned that you will inflict pain to your fingers while trying to find the right angle to pry the enclosure open!

Thinking I was ready to call it a victory, I replaced the original hard disk with another WD HD from my “stock”. The result, unfortunately, wasn’t what I expected: the new hard drive (which I knew to be OK) wouldn’t come up either. And a quick test with another hard disk enclosure confirmed that the original hard disk from the MyBook was still OK (or at least readable) – and that means it is the MyBook controller that fails.

Conclusion: I need at least a new hard disk enclosure. And perhaps it is even better to get a new hard disk as well – 500GB is no longer top of the bill… So perhaps a new MyBook – if they’re still called that – is the best solution. The old enclosure is ready to be dumped, that’s for sure.

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