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Microsoft, Linux, Love

Yesterday it hit the news that how Microsoft is joining the Open Invention Network so that Microsoft’s collection of patents can now be used defend (instead of attacking) Linux. Poss and comments about embrace/extend/extinguish and flying pigs. I guess we are still getting used to this behavior from Microsoft, but really, when you think about it, it is probably just Microsoft being good at business – as is usually the case. Also, the warming relationship between Microsoft and Linux isn’t exactly news. Back in 2016 Microsoft joined the Linux Foundation and similar stuff was posted and googling a bit led back to a 2014 press conference. But is still feels unusual.

Back in my early computing days (1990ish), it wasn’t obvious (to me at least) that Microsoft would become the monopolistic giant it was 10 years later. Sure, the IBM compatible PCs were running MS-DOS, but there were other platforms, and I happily did whatever I needed to do on a Commodore Amiga, with KindWords being my text editor of choice. We also had an Apple Macintosh in the house, which to me worked pretty well too. In the PC World there was still WordPerfect and Lotus 123 around, and the next big thing was to be OS/2.

Things always look clear in hindsight, and I don’t know if anyone had really anticipated how things would develop during the 90s. Personally I became increasingly wary of Microsoft’s growth, probably in part by seeing the alternatives fall away, partly by spending much of my time as a student in a Unix-based universe.

I wonder how much of what happened in the 90s was part of a grand master plan and how much was good fortunes for Microsoft. Probably a bit of both, because fortune favors the well prepared. Of course, if there had really been a grand matter plan, then things would have gone differently in the 2010s, where the rising power of mobile platforms and the cloud meant that once more a Microsoft platform is not the only choice of technology stack.

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A shot from the park near the Citadel (Kastellet) in Copenhagen.

Chains (, Block-) and Bands

In December 2017 the value of the blockchain-based bitcoin cryptocurrency peaked, and for a short while everyone seemed to want to do something-something blockchain. It all reminded me of the business plan presented by the South Park gnomes:

  1. Steal underpants
  2. ??
  3. Profit

with Cartman’s underpants replaced by the addition of blockchain to whatever the company’s  product was. For example HTC’s ‘Exodus’ blockchain phone.

Since then the blockchain technology seems to have passed the Peak of Inflated Expectations and are now sliding down in the Through of Disillusionment, the value of bitcoin sliding with it, now at 1/3 of the peak value. This is not to say that all business plans involving blockchain are bad, I am just suggesting that not all of them may survive the trip up to the Plateau of Productivity.

I have become an insider also, working myself on a blockchain related project, where the blockchain itself is just a small part of the solution (but of curse a selling point), but the internal logistics of the solution what makes it interesting.  Time will tell whether blockchain will eventually be the silver bullet that proponents claim, or if it is really just a solution in search of a problem.

MI Band Update

Since January I have been in an on/off relationship with my MI (2) fitness band. Getting a good understanding of my daily moves has been interesting and it has been a good way to remind myself to have a healthy day. However, the MI Band just isn’t that charming an accessory and it doesn’t work as a wrist watch either -in particular not on a sunlit day. An analog watch-face is hard to beat.

Having realized that, I briefly tried a combination of devices, using Google Fit as the consolidator: Wear the MI bank at home/off work in situations where I would neither wear my wristwatch or my phone, then use my phone(s) as step counter when moving around especially at work. That  setup didn’t even last for a day – after walking 10,000+ steps during the day, I came home, connected the MI Band and whOOP! The step count was back at 500-some. Not good and since then the band has been off. I can live without each and every step I take being registered.

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A witch-hazel in fall colors.

 

Flipping on tablets

In my previous post I discussed the irrelevance of tablets. Well, they say that you got one standpoint until your take another; so go ahead and laugh 🙂

What happened?

This year I am having a logistically inconvenient summer. Usually my daily commute to work last about an hour, with 40 minutes spent on a train. That works very well, with nice little walks sandwiching a long, uninterrupted stretch of time where I can read or write; work or relax, as I please. However, this summer the train line is closed for three months, with the comfortable train ride replaced by a much longer bus ride. While not quite as horrible as I expected (some of the buses are OK, while others seems to have been pulled back out of retirement), y commute still takes 30-45 minutes longer each way and since I have kids that must be brought to daycare in the morning and picked up again i the afternoon, things get difficult. Fortunately I have a very accommodating employer and I can get a lot of my work done in the evenings when the kids are sleeping, but even then, I prefer to be online and do most of my work while my colleagues are at work as well.

To do this I need a device that lets me work on emails, Skype and document reading and (basic) writing, and be connected to company resources during my commute. Usually my company laptop is just fine for this job, but within the confined space of a bus seat on a bumpy ride it doesn’t work well… Long story short, the actual need to own a tablet computer has caught up with me. I do not claim to be an early adapter.

Much has been written about the rise and stagnation of tablets – just this morning this was in my news feed and I shall not comment further on that. However, here comes a personal perspective.

A brief history of me and tablets

So, it is not like that I haven’t noticed tablets before. I remember the early hype surrounding the first iPad and I remember doing early research on Android tablets as far back as 2011; and I think that after reading lackluster reviews of for example the HTC Flyer we decided that we didn’t need such a thing. The benefit just didn’t justify the cost – paying the price of a laptop computer for a device that could do less than a laptop, when we did have enough laptops at home, didn’t make sense. And so time passed.

The Galaxy age

What finally motivated us to acquire the house’ first tablet was that my wife was expecting our first child in 2012 and eventually sitting with a laptop became so unconfortable that an alternative solution made sense. We were already then a happy Android family, so we looked into the Android options and at that time what looked best for us was the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2.

Shortly after I also thought about getting a Nexus 7, which was getting a lot of positive hype at the time. Some “pro-active” dental care stopped that.

The Tab 2 never really did it for us, and ICS + TouchWiz was not a good mix for user experience. Being a user improved significantly when I replaced the OS with CyanogenMod and I remember using it on my daily commutes pretty much until I got my new HTC One phone and then quickly found that with a BIG 4.7″ screen I had little use for a tablet. Eventually my 1½ year old daughter took over the tablet. She later passed it on to our youngest and it remained in use until an unfortunate drop to the floor last year cracked the screen.

The Lenovos

The kids and the Samsung Tab 2 all grew older and in early 2016 we went looking for another tablet for the kids. Being cost conscious in general and in particular when it comes to hardware that a kid can bread in a moment’s distraction. We settled on a modestly priced Lenovo Tab 2 A10-30, which works just fine for simple games and watching movies both from storage and streamed from Netflix. I haven’t really used it for anything myself, because even though it is 3+ years newer that our first tablet from Samsung, the screen is much worse (resolution on both are 1280×800). But they work for the kids and as long as they sometimes forget their computers lying on the floor, that is just fine.

Tablets now

The selection of Android tablets these days is not exciting and it may not get better any time soon (or ever, who knows). So I also considered the alternatives.

First of all, the newest iPad does look good and at quite a reasonable price too. I almost did it, but at the end just couldn’t get myself to step into the Apple world.

Next I thought about the Microsoft Surface series, but it looked like I would be paying a lot for a miniaturized touch-screen laptop, and that isn’t what I am after.

Finally looking over the Android offering I decided to focus on Samsung, whose KNOW devices I knew would comply with BYOD guidelines. With different tiers available it was then a straightforward matter to balance specs and budget. Later may be greater, but I don’t want to pay extra for something I don’t really need. I therefore went for the middle tier – a Galaxy Tab A 10.1. Not a great device and already past the support period from Samsung (at least it runs Android Nougat), but for a tablet-skeptic like me who only need the device for a few months it should suffice and one of the kids’ tablets is also due for replacement soon. However, I must admit that I am quite a satisfied customer, being able to do my daily work mails and document reading on the go, just as needed; and I see my wife taking a liking to it also.

And so my new standpoint is that tablets can be pretty nice devices. I hope the Android variety stays around for a while still.

Updates

  • Got excited about Steam link for Android, as an interesting idea to play PC games away from desk and give my Nexus TV. Streaming worked fine, but games are not for touch screen and while pairing a controller with a phone or 10″ tablet is possible, it doesn’t work well (no surprise). I also tried it with my Nexus Player which was underwhelming. That may have been the last straw that prompted me to ask for new TV.
  • I finally watched Disney’s Lilo & Stitch, which is the 42nd in the line of classics and in my opinion one of the better ones. I can related well to both the troubled child and it is funny how a monster that is genetically engineered to cause nothing but destruction can remind one of a three year old.
  • Had another repair made on my OnePlus 3 – this time the camera glass was broken, but happily a replacement glass was very affordable and the replacement took 20 minutes for a specialist and Fixed camera glass on was done while I was looking.

Bæruge 2018

Denne sommer (2018) er helt sikkert den tørreste jeg kan huske (DMI er enige, så langt som de regner tilbage). 2 uger uden regn, måske 3 er ikke usædvanligt i en dansk sommer, men indtil i går var det over 2 måneder siden der sidst faldt noget som var værd at tale om. Om et par timers let regn gør væsentlig forskel for haven vil vise sig.

Imens det meste tørrer ud, så trives vores frugt- og bærbuske. Måske fordi planterne står i halvskygge, så grenene får sol, mens jorden ved rødderne ikke gør det. Det er i hver fald ikke på grund af vanding, for dér har vores nyeste nye stauder haft prioritet).

Udbyttet har været fint:

  • Grøn stikkelsbær ca. 6 kg (invicta, til sammenligning fik vi 4½kg sidste år)
  • Rød stikkelsbær 587 gram (hinnonmaki)
  • Blåbær: 458 gram (alle modne bær før en mini ferie, der er stadig masser tilbage som skal modne)
  • De grønne stikkelsbær blev kogt til marmelade efter den sædvanlige opskrift, som giver 1½ til 1¾L marmelade per kg bær.

Jeg har brugt samme opskrift til blåbær, bortset fra at Habanero har erstattet vanille. To tørrede habanero blev kogt med, men resultatet var ikke overvældende, givet at en enkelt tørret frugt normalt kan fyrre godt op må i for eksempel en simreret. Jeg vil øve mig.

De røde stikkelsbær blev renset og frosset – det var ikke lige tid til at koge dem dén dag.

The year’s harvest of red gooseberry.

Der er stadig masser af ribs og solbær tilbage, så jeg tror jeg laver nogle små portioner af dem også, f.eks. efter denne opskrift, hvor jeg bare skal vurdere konverteret måleenhedenerne til europæiske. Opskriften giver også det gode tip at fryse frugten før tilberedning, for det lettere at fjerne frosne bær fra stænglerne.

Ugen i haven

(lidt mere end en uge, men – well)

  • Krydderurter udvikler sig godt efter at jeg rydede beddet grundigt op tilbage i maj.
  • Vi er nu selvforsynende med hyldeblomster til saft (OK, vi lavede også kun circa 1½L – vi søger at undgå sukkerdrikke i det lille hjem).
  • Stauder overlever tørke ved jævnlig vanding.
  • Gad vide om græsplænen overlever. Ellers er dette måske muligheden for at lave ny – mosset er i hvert fald væk.

Relaterede Indlæg

Bæruge! (2017)

Akvaristisk Nedtur

Akvarier skal være kasseformede, med mindre selvfølgelig der er tale om en smart hjørnemodel, buet front eller en mangekantet model. Og så skal de holde formen. De skal i hvert fald ikke begynde at bule ud på midten, sådan som det skete for mit akvarium en søndag sidst marts.

Udbuling på akvarium, efter at tværsprosse er knækket.

Årsagen var hurtigt fundet. Den tværsprosse der sidder på midten af akvariet og netop skal sikre at vandtrykket ikke deformerer akvariet og forårsager brud på enten glas eller limning, var knækket! Det var ikke et rart øjeblik, med udsigt til at få spredt 500 liter vand ud over stuegulvet, fisk inkluderet. I stor hast blev tanken tømt halvt, indtil udbulningen ikke var til at se. Med mere ro på kunne jeg overveje næste skridt. Reparer, udskift eller finde ny hobby? Hvad med de små og store fisk?

Den følgende mandag skabte klarhed. En ny sprosse blev bestilt og fiskene fanget op og sat i pleje (hvilket ikke er trivielt når fiskene er 15+ cm og har personlighed).

Det er heldigvis sjældent jeg er nødt til at fange fisk. “Bøvlet” er ikke ordet, og mens de største cichlider er relativt lette at fange, så måtte jeg fjerne det meste vand og alt træ og planter for at fange de sidste pansermaller. Vel, jeg havde alligevel længe haft lyst til at nyindrette…

Til sidst blev akvariet tømt for sten og så var det bare at vente på den nye sprosse og tænke over den nye indretning.

Nogle tips ved tømning af akvarium:

  1. Når der fjernes grus skal der være vand nok i akvariet til at gruset er dækket af vand, ellers kommer der let ridser på glasset.
  2. Det allersidste vand fjernes let med en fejebakke.
  3. Det er godt at have fiskenet i rette størrelse på alger, så man er forberedt på en uforudset indfangning.
  4. Jeg transporterede fiskene i plastikbøtter, samme type som bruges til at gemme mad i køleskabet. Man bør nok rense bøtterne grundigt for sæberester og eventuelt bruge bøtter der aldrig har rørt sæbe. Så forsigtig var jeg nu ikke og jeg tror faktisk at de fisk der døde kort efter udsætningen blev transporteret i nye bøtter.
  5. Det kan være svært at få alle fisk fanget op – jeg overså en pansermalle som var meget god til at gemme sig.