That iconic theme from Midsomer Murders

Mitchie loves the series – “Inspector Barnaby” like it is called here in Germany. And we all love the music. See and hear it being played on the Theremin by Celia Sheen:

Celia Sheen plays Midsomer Murders on Theremin

Like always, thanks for watching, and for listening.

Beautiful moments…

Sometimes we have some flowers on our table – and if they look like this then I can’t resist, have to take a photo:

Closeup of a tulip, Mörfelden-Walldorf 2023

Like always, thanks for viewing.

Another history lesson with Mary Beard

I’ve embedded a video from Professor Mary Beard lately, and here’s another, a bit longer one:

Why Did The Roman Empire Collapse With Mary Beard | Empire Without Limit | Odyssey

You’ll even meet Professor Beard‘s husband, Robin Cormack, another Professor and art historian. Oh, and she pronounces the German city of Trier like “tree-air”, it should be a bit shorter, more like “deer” with a hard “tr” like in “trill” in the beginning, which would make it something like “treer” ūüôā But I’m nitpicking, her lesson is wonderful.

Like always, thanks for viewing.

Listening Wind – The Specials

This cover of the old and wonderful Talking Heads song is brilliant. And rest in peace Terry Hall (male singer, here on a chair):

Listening Wind – The Specials BBC6

Hope you’ve enjoyed it as much as I did. And like always, thanks for listening.

Trying GrapheneOS

The last update of the inofficial version of LineageOS I had on my late brother Willi’s Pixel 3a phone went bad. Which is okay, not everyone has every device to test, and remember that these developers from XDA do it all for free and in their spare time.

So after reading an interesting poll in AndroidAuthority, together with a test of GrapheneOS on a Pixel 6, I decided to try it on the 3a. And what should I say – it looks *very* minimalistic but is brilliant under its hood, and again I’m learning a lot. Here’s an almost standard home screen from which I removed one app shortcut (the one for the gallery which is empty at the moment anyway):

GrapheneOS on a Google Pixel 3a phone


So to make it short: for now, I answered that poll with: “No, I’m happy with Google’s default experience” because I wouldn’t flash any third party OS onto a device which is still supported. But for an older one – as long as you can get images for them – this is a good choice in my opinion. So in case you *do* have a Pixel phone which is about to run out of support, and if you don’t need the Google Wallet for payments, GrapheneOS is worth a look. It can even run Google’s Play store in a sandbox in case you’d need that (which I don’t).

Like always, thanks for reading.

About what’s thrown at us – daily, and without our consent

Avram Piltch has an interesting article on Tom’s Hardware with the headline: “Get Off My Desktop! Windows Needs to Stop Showing Tabloid News“.

It reminded me a lot about when I first got an iPhone from my former employer – you couldn’t edit the news they threw at you in any way, unlike Google’s own Android Pixel phones where you could select which content not to be shown to you (they disabled that by now), just like Avram describes it about being in Windows here.

But what he probably doesn’t get is that this way, you’re only training the beast, feeding it with creating your own profile, which will inevitably lead to the fact that you’ll live in your own filter bubble over short or long.

But oh my, is he right about the embarrassingly stupidity of some of these “news”! Have you for instance tried to visit Youtube without being logged in into Google to have it filter things for you? It’s a real shame, often right-wing or dangerously close to conspiracy theorists, and from top to bottom really really bad. And we trust these same companies with developing anything “artificially intelligent”? If so, then I see no future for mankind; we’re doomed.

In his article, Avram tries to find and show some workarounds to the problem, but I think it’s those companies themselves – and their interests are far different from the average person’s, who has to live with the crap that they’re shoving up our screens. In my opinion, workarounds won’t help us much longer, the only way out of that is to get rid of Windows, and any kind of “social media”, or even more difficult, the quasi monopolist which Youtube has become by now. To even have to pay for an operating system whose makers do that to us is utterly insulting, isn’t it? So the best advice I can give to this is: break free from these self-inflicted chains, cancel Microsoft et al from your desks, and use something free (as in speech, and as in beer).

It was over 25 years ago now that I decided not to support a black box operating system anymore, as I called it at that time, and moved to a first (for me) version of Linux instead. My team lead at my employers’ at this time recommended to not focus on Linux but to try Solaris instead, so I learnt that as well – and got job offers simply through asking questions in some newsgroups (anyone remember those?). Both Suse and Red Hat were too commercially driven for my interests, so I’ve found better ones over time. Today? I currently live on the Gnome desktop of Debian stable, and my weather icon looks like this:

Date and weather in Gnome

And when I click on it, it looks like this:

Extended weather in the Gnome desktop

No ads. No distractions. Just peace of mind. And to friends, I would never recommend workarounds but only the best that I can think of.

Like always, thanks for reading.

In German / auf Deutsch: F√ľr mehr direkte Demokratie und Volksentscheide

Wann immer ich Nachrichten wie diese sehe, regt sich in mir der Wunsch nach der Möglichkeit eines direkten Рaus dem Volk heraus geäußerten РMißtrauensvotums gegen einzelne Minister (wie in diesem Fall gegen die Herren Wissing und Lindner).

Wirklich; wir brauchen scheint’s deutlich mehr direkte (Basis-) demokratie und Volksentscheide. Es kann nicht sein da√ü einzelne gew√§hlte Politiker vier Jahre lang einen Freibrief daf√ľr bekommen, eine Dummheit nach der anderen zu begehen und ein ganzes Land der L√§cherlichkeit preiszugeben. Oder eine Industrie zu unterst√ľtzen die dies – bis auf Porsche in diesem Fall – gar nicht will.

Und bevor die CDU/CSU oder gar die AfD sich √ľber einen solchen Beitrag freuen: ich k√∂nnte auch gut ohne einige Abgeordnete wie die Herren Merz und S√∂der oder gar den meisten Mitgliedern der AfD in einem deutschen Bundestag leben. Aber ok – wir leben ja in einer Demokratie, also werde ich diese wohl ertragen m√ľssen, auch wenn sie den ganzen Tag lang meist Unfug erz√§hlen.

Vielleicht sollten wir “dem Volk” ja auch – wie die alten Griechen es hatten – die M√∂glichkeit geben jedes Jahr ein bis zwei Politiker abzuw√§hlen? Es mu√ü ja nicht gleich der Schierlingsbecher wie bei Sokrates werden, aber Dame Professor Mary Beard erk√§rt uns – jetzt doch wieder auf Englisch – wie Demokratie auch aussehen k√∂nnte:

Free Speech – What’s it all about?

Mehr interessante Geschichtsstunden – nicht nur √ľber Demokratie – bei Dame Prof. Beard gibt’s hier. Eine “Dame” ist ein ziemlich hoher Rang eines OBE – also eines Officers of the British Empire. Und √ľbrigens, Sokrates war toll… ūüôā

Meine sonnt√§glichen 2 (Euro-) Cents…

A brief stint into Mint

After reading so often about Linux Mint lately – see for instance my post from yesterday about Liam from The Register – I decided to try and have a look at it, which I haven’t done in quite a while. Not that I’d need something else than Debian, but I always recommended Ubuntu for beginners or for people switching from other operating systems, and maybe by now there are indeed better choices?

Well, I had a short look only, but I must say that indeed, Mint looks like a thing of beauty:

Linux Mint 21.1 with Cinnamon 5.8, running neofetch in a terminal window

I gave the virtual machine only 2 cores, and 4 GB of RAM plus 16GB on the SSD, but it ran everything I tried beautifully:

My website in Firefox 111 on Linux Mint

Mint is still based upon Ubuntu, at least this version is/was (I think I’ve read of an alternative one which is based upon Debian, but wanted to try the default one) – so it’s hard to say after only a short time which is better. But everything looked very well laid out, there’s even a firewall which you can switch on with a simple mouse click, and I think that new Linux users would have no problems getting around this; the Cinnamon desktop looks much more like Windows than for instance Gnome does. Plus it didn’t take too many resources, that virtual machine used only some 800MB of the 4GB of RAM I’d given it.

So, in case you’re interested in trying a Linux distribution and don’t know which one, I’d still say try Ubuntu because of the huge user base, but Linux Mint is probably even easier, so take that into your consideration as well – especially now that Ubuntu seems to split to a paid support model for companies, Mint looks more like the end-user friendly variant to me.

Like always, thanks for reading. And now, back to my Debian:

Debian 11 “Bullseye” running a conky system monitor on my screen background (picture by myself)

Some IT news for today (March 17th, 2023)

First, a test of a notebook which runs Linux pretty well. It’s the modern version of one that a former colleague of mine had, the Lenovo X1 Carbon, here in its 10th Generation. Liam Proven checked it on The Register’s site, here:

I had a much bigger and heavier Lenovo P50 “workstation” type which also ran Linux just fine, just like my wife’s L380 Yoga 2-in-1, as you now would call them if you can rotate the display 180 degrees and use it with the in-built pencil.

Seems that for Liam, Linux Mint in its latest version has been a good choice. But others will follow…

Next: Debian’s upcoming version “Bookworm” (or Debian Linux 12) is now in hard freeze, which means that bug fixing will be going on full steam by now, and after a short “full freeze” period we’ll get that next version. Announcement is here:

Which I’ve found via the Debian micronews (thanks Laura!).

One last one for today, which this time is about a vulnerability on a Samsung chip. Google’s Project Zero warns about an issue with Exynos Modems, read here:

Its Pixel 7 devices should be safe already, but in case you have some sort of Pixel 6 or a Samsung Galaxy S22 or others, read AndroidAuthority or other sites about it as well. And turn off VoLTE and WiFi calling until there’s a fix for this.

Ok folks, that’s it for now – and like always, thanks for reading.