Garden Diary 2015

Next Year (2016) ->

Key events in the garden (2015)

  • Mar 15: Apple espalier pruned
  • Mar 19: Seeds sown for greenhouse chilies and tomatoes
  • Apr 12: Willow tree pruned; tomatoes repotted
  • Apr 18: Rose hedge trimmed
  • Apr 21: Chilies re-potted
  • Apr 22: Lawn mowed for the first time
  • May 15: Tomatoes planted in greenhouse, using capillary watering
  • May 17: Cucumber etc. bought at Gartneri Toftegaard
  • May 19: A gardener visits to fell trees and remove some large bushes
  • May 25: Chilies planted in greenhouse with capillary watering
  • Jun 7: Blue berry and elder bushes bought at nursery
  • Jun 29: First cucumber harvested
  • Jul 16: Gooseberry harvest
  • Jul 17: First potatoes (low yield,  will give them a bit more time)
  • Jul 22: First tomato harvested
  • August, 2nd half: Tomatoes and potatoes are ready
  • Oct 18: Greenhouse season over and most plants cut down (keeping a few chilies that may still ripen)
  • Nov 21: Heavy snowfall cause magnolia tree to collapse
  • Nov 23: Freezing weather kills remaining chilies in greenhouse

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Growing the Seeds of 2015

Sowing the Seeds of 2015

Growing the Seeds of 2015

As the picture shows, the plants sown and planted this year are certainly flourishing in the greenhouse.

The cucumber was an early, nice surprise, with 6-7 big ones in the end of June, and there is another batch coming. Also, for the first time we have a basil plant – no, bush! – that gives us all the basil leaves we can use.

On the disappointing side, there are still neither tomatoes nor chilies to be harvested. There are lots of plant growth, but little fruit. Maybe it is because I fertilize differently this year, maybe the weather is colder or maybe it is because the plants were sown later than usual. Probably a combination of all three.

Our earliest harvest ever was a Bloody Butcher on Jun 5 and last year (2014) we had Sungold on Jun 22. This year I am tracking things more rigorously than before, so there will be a baseline going forward.

Here is what the greenhouse 2015 looks like so far:


Real harvest start in late August and last until mid-October. On Oct 18 I cut down most remaining plants, leaving only a few chilies that may still ripen. This late, post-season is cut short by early frost.

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Sowing the Seeds of 2015

Garden Diary 2015


New Sports for a New Age

Last weekend the TV was on and I watched what will probably be the greatest sports event this year (for me, at least). Not Olympics, not football and not the Tour de France.

No, it was the finals of the 13th Alliance Tournament in Eve Online.

It is annual and the 13th of its kind, so it is nothing new. The reason that I find it is worth a blog post is that although it feels quite natural watching this, there are several novel aspects about it, and I doubt it would have happened just a few years ago. First of all:

What is the Eve Online Alliance Tournament?

(a very brief intro that does no justice to this excellent and complex game)

Eve Online is a computer game where many people play together online in a common universe – a so-called Massive Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game (MMORPG) – and massive it is: more than 50,000 players share the same world at the same time. The role-playing is that all players fly around in spaceships, fighting, mining, trading etc. Interaction between players is an essential part of the game and players organize into corporations, which may further organize into alliances. Inter-alliance politics and warfare is a big thing in the game.

The developer of the game, the Icelandic company CCP, hosts a number of events for the players, including an annual Fan Fest party at their headquarters in Reykjavik. And, of course, the annual Alliance Tournament, where teams from different alliances meet (online) over 3 weekends to fight each other in 10 minute matches. There are no cash prizes; instead the best teams win in-game items of significant value (many thousand-euro equivalents).

I have played Eve Online on and off since 2006 and enjoy seeing the best of the best in action.

Is it Sports?

Is that “sports”? Well, according to Wikipedia:

Sport is generally recognised as activities which are based in physical athleticism or physical dexterity, with the largest major competitions such as the Olympic Games admitting only sports meeting this definition… However, a number of competitive, but non-physical, activities claim recognition as mind sports. The International Olympic Committee (through ARISF) recognises both chess and bridge as bona fide sports…”

So, no, the Eve Online Alliance Tournament is not officially recognized as a “sports” event in the traditional sense. Mind sports? Perhaps one day, but before then I am sure another term will have established itself: Esports – that covers competitive video gaming. The concept goes back some years, but I first became aware of it when I heard about Korean TV showing StarCraft tournaments. So the leagues are there, the tournaments are there and the possibility of people becoming professionals are there. What’s missing is the physical exercise and/or the traditional view of being better that the other games.

However, watching the matches, I am certain that it is physically demanding of the participants and, in any case, these days all (physical) sports are also dependent on analysis and planning, backed  up by teams of  scientists and medics etc. to the point where the athletes themselves seem to be merely executing the final steps in a bigger plan. As for history: with a generation now growing up on online gaming there are esports viewers growing up as well. So who knows, maybe in a few years we may have every Elympics 2 or 4 years. Time will tell. Regardless, it is here now and it is growing.

How and Where to Watch It

Time will tell if esports will ever make it to the live TV channels as anything but a novelty: fun clips about nerds spending waayy too much time with their computer in their parents’ basements. That may be  a lost opportunity, because naturally online games can also be watched online, and not necessarily in front of a PC or on a small laptop screen. In this case I am watching the tournament live on (owned by Amazon), streaming to my TV via Chromecast. Another time with another game it may be on (Google’s) YouTube. It doesn’t matter. What does matter is that the infrastructure for transmitting such events globally is in place already and no one needs the TV networks to send this. Perhaps some help in advertising this will help, but again, in the age of the Internet with social networking powered by twitter, steam, Facebook etc the traditional TV advertising channels may not matter much longer either.

Also, note that it is not only the big events that are shown. Everyone can join with their own show, broadcasting whatever they feel like broadcasting. Nothing new either1, but I like that it is not only self-produced reality shows, but also a platform for excellent self-produced shows, so if somebody wants to broadcast the games of the local (esports) league, the platform is already there. And if you got something good to show, people may come watching. I am sure it requires talent, ambition and stamina, just like professional sports. And just like professional sports, making a living off it is a challenge.

Summing up:

  • Video games have evolved to the point where they make watchable TV sports
  • Technology is in place to bring web broad casts directly to your TV screen
  • Everyone can broadcast whatever they want

I was certainly enjoining myself, together with 8700+, other viewers, which isn’t a lot compared to other esports being transmitted at the time. For comparison, elsewhere on twitch more than 170,000 were watching “League of Legends”, which again may be nothing compared to the number of viewers on major sport events. On the other hand, at such events you are limited to watching whatever events you TV channel is showing, switching back and forth between different events like they (not you) choose.

As it is, technology offers us more choices than ever before, so let’s jump into it.


Remember the car chase in “Tomorrow Never Dies” where James Bond remote controls his car from the back seat, using his mobile phone? (->YouTube). It is a good example of 007 movies showcasing technology that may become mainstream in a not too distant future (without the car-to-car missile system, I presume). Not that remote controlling cars are anything new: The Russian Lunokhod drove on the Moon in 1970, remote control cars were sold in toy stores in my  childhood and who knows how long the Opportunity rover on Mars will keep going(?). What is new, though, is that soon somebody may (unauthorized) remote control your car from their mobile: OwnStar Wi-Fi attack…. Not good.

Connecting cars to the internet is a good idea. For example:

  • There will always be up-to-date weather and traffic information available
  • The car can schedule service and order spare parts on its own
  • IFTTT can turn on car heating 15 minutes before you leave for work if the temperature is freezing

and then there is all the communication and entertainment options, which can of course be handled with a mobile phone already, but integrating the functions would be convenient. All these good ideas comes with their potential issues due to buggy software, failing connections etc, and then comes all the opportunities for abuse via insecure connections, back doors and admin accounts, like the mechanic triggering car service requests when business is slow and people held hostage inside hot cars with closed windows and air condition off (there will be some action movie where the villain takes remote control of all cars in the city and the day is saved by the only guy who knows how to operate a stick shift).

I am sure none of these cave ats will prevent cars from joining the Internet of Things, but I hope that the risks will be addressed in time, especially those related to security. It is not impossible: there are strict regulations in place for development of software for medical devices, and including security in the equivalent regulations for cars would do a lot to improve the situation, as would some simple design rules, such separating the navigation, communication and entertainment systems from the core control functions of the car in such a way that getting access to one system does not enable access to other systems (cf. the case of Chris Roberts allegedly taking  control of a plane after hacking the inflight entertainment system ->link).

Addressing the risks requires a proper understanding of the issues and solutions all around, including the automotive industry, the legislators, the press and the organisations representing the consumers. It hope this post will move things a bit in the right direction.

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Security Info Links^3

Windows 10 Installed and so what? (in a good way)

July 29 has come and passed , with Windows 10 being released as expected. There are some nice additions and some oddities. And now I am back to doing whatever  I was doing before installing it, which is just the way it should be.

While I have had the the preview versions running on virtual machines and old laptops since last October, I have waited for the final release to update my primary PC. Not only because I don’t want to take chances on the workhorse that also handles all l my private stuff (I don’t want to repeat the surprises I got with OneDrive after upgrading to windows 8.1 and I don’t mind that this online/off-line file thing is not in Windows 10 (yet)), but also because I use the opportunity to upgrade the system with new discs etc. (and doing the upgrade without touching the existing system definitely gives peace of mind).

I prefer to do clean installs – and have done so ever since (inevitable?) mixed success when I installed Windows 95 and OS/2 Warp on top of Windows 3.1 – so I followed this guide from Ars Technica: How to do a clean install of Windows 10 (from Windows 7 and 8), starting out with a fresh Windows 7 installation. It was quite straightforward.

It still amazes me how easy it has become to install a new OS, be that Windows or Linux. Long gone are the days of gathering a stack of driver CDs (or floppies : ) for each piece of hardware in the box,  and gone are the anxiety that a wrong move might require you to start installation all over. Having done the Windows 7 installation just before installing Windows 10 demonstrated recent improvements: For the first one I needed to install the LAN card driver, for Win 10 I didn’t. The only disc I needed this time was the driver for software and driver for my scanner – everything else was available online, including drivers for an old TV card I just bought second hand.

It is good to see the new operating system running on proper hardware and so far all is good. There were no surprises (which is not surprising, since the final version was the as the latest Insider preview). I don’t doubt sure there are bugs to be fixed new UI inconsistencies and useless touch UI apps, but after installing my usual suite of application I probably won’t notice any that. Outlook for mail, Google Chrome browser, Evernote, Steam…  It all runs and I am back to doing things the usual way, with the OS being unnoticeable once the login screen is passed.

In that way, moving to the new OS is both totally irrelevant and all important. Irrelevant because once my favorite software is installed I will hardly notice it, all important because a well working and fully updated OS is what allows me to concentrate fully on work and play, without having to worry about what happens under the hood.