My first day of the second week of homeoffice

I made photos, one shortly after I began to work at home, the other shortly after finishing work. Looks like this:

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Homeoffice week two, Mörfelden-Walldorf 2020
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Tuna the cat at closing time (Feierabend), Mörfelden-Walldorf 2020

Thanks for viewing.

What to do in times of a pandemia

Well I can hardly give any tips of what best to do in a “lockdown” kind of situation, when you can’t or at least shouldn’t really leave the house. I can only tell you what we’re doing:

  • we went shopping of Friday after my work already, so we were through with that early on. It also helps if you enter the supermarkets as a single person, not with a whole family. Better for the distances we should keep…
  • reading is always good – my current favourite fiction author is Haruki Murakami as you might know if you’re reading this blog once in a while
  • listening to music and/or watching TV is what I’ll guess what most people would do, and of course we’re also doing that. Long running series like “Doctor Who” are good tips if you like that
  • If you’re a computer geek, get involved into some free and open source project – write some code or documentation, or share some tips via an own blog or Youtube or whatever
  • We’re the lucky ones, at least Zuleikha and me – we play instruments. Plus we are both members of Wikiloops where you can play with other musicians from all around the globe for free if you like. All you need is some way to get your instrument or voice into a computer, which is usually done with some kind of audio interface – see here for some examples. And Wikiloops just lifted its time restrictions, so even as a new user you can now start down- and uploading at once, without having to wait (or to pay).
  • If you are creative in another field – I consider myself a portrait photographer for instance – then do this at home as well. Take photos of your family, or in case you’re alone, take self portraits. There’s always something new to learn, and if it’s only about lighting.

Other than that I haven’t done much this weekend, in fact I wasn’t even out of the house except to feed the birds:

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Bird food, Mörfelden-Walldorf 2020

As I’ve read, the rate of new infections with SARS-CV2 aka the Corona virus is slowing down here in Germany. So maybe (and hopefully) it helps if everyone is staying at home or at least keeping a safe distance. And while it’s still way too early to speak of or to hope for a trend, we can still carry on and wait this out, shall we?

Be safe. Stay healthy. And thank you for reading.

False positives at GMX

I have a friend from the UK who – like me – uses a GMX mail account or two. The only difference is that her domain is gmx.com while I’m using gmx.net.

And twice already some mail of hers landed in the internal gmx “assumed spam” folders which you only see via their web interface if you look – so my advice: don’t ignore their regular messages about that assumed spam folder, and go and check it – you might have missed someone who clearly didn’t send spam (in my friend’s case, not even a link was inside her mails, so it’s not clear why the gmx algorithms assumed that to be spam…)

I’ve told their web interface to not classify her mail addresses as senders of spam, still have to check if that works.

Otherwise they’re very good – and they really keep out lots of spam. Not bad for a cost-free provider at all – and if you’re using them with an email program like I do, you won’t even see all the ads which they need to finance it all.

Just a hint to go and check…

Second internet outage since this year…

Wow. This time our line including telephone and some HDTV (3play) was cut off for almost 24 hours – seems that UnityMedia is up to some restructuring since they have been bought by Vodafone? Let’s hope that it’s stable from now on…

I took a photo of our cat again yesterday, this time with proper light (one of my studio strobes bounced over a wall). Then I cropped it into a 16:10 format to use it as a screen background, turned it into black & white using a Kodak Tri-X film simulation, and vignetted the corners a bit so that my Conky system monitor output (in white) can still be seen layed over it, as here:

Tuna the cat, Mörfelden-Walldorf 2020 as my current screen background. Original (without the Conky system monitor output and the headline from Gnome3) is on Flickr.

As always, thanks for reading, and for viewing.

Slowly making that machine mine again

I’ve written about the “new” operating system I had to install at work. And this morning I was talking to my wife about it, saying that even with the so-called “EPEL” repositories (from the Fedora project), these “Enterprise” decision-making guys still don’t include anything like Ardour. So I guess that these decision-makers don’t have kids or even nieces or nephews, or how would they explain that companies like Disney who would likely use anything like Ardour are not “Enterprises”? What a strange world…

But at least with these additional “EPEL” repos, I’ve got things and smaller niceties like Conky back – so at least the looks of my Gnome3 desktop at work and at home aren’t that different anymore. See here (again, I try to keep most business-related stuff out here):

My desktop at work, showing a browser and Conky plus the Gnome menu on the left

Hm. I still couldn’t record any pro sound and videos with it like I could with my old OS and its real-time kernel and Ardour and such. Not for work and not for pleasure – which seem to be different things for these “Enterprises”.

But ok – I’m not working at Disney, or at Pixar, so I guess the fun part is elsewhere indeed. Still I sometimes wonder if they even consider all the talent and creativity they’re wasting (or trying to kill)? What a strange world indeed. Maybe they’ll fit in somewhere in the vicinity of “hedgefond managers” in the groups divided by Toby? See here for a funny start into your week and month:

Rowan Atkinson: Toby the Devil – We Are Most Amused and Amazed

And as a small contrast program to it, here are some awesome fellow musicians:

Opera performed by animals | Maestro – CG short film by Illogic collective

As always, thanks for reading & viewing, and have a very nice start into your week & month. 🙂

New desktop background

I just set this as my background at home:

Background picture on my 1920×1200 monitor

It’s this photo which I took myself in 2018 in Paris, with the standard lens (25mm/1.4) on my Olympus E-M10 camera. Looks black & white but isn’t. The topic is Sacré-Cœur de Montmartre as seen from Musée d’Orsay.

As always, thanks for viewing, and for reading.

A short history of free – and commercial – operating systems

Like the English Wikipedia with its “Featured articles“, the German one also has its “Artikel des Tages” on its start page – each day a different one. I love these, you learn a lot about the world with just looking (and reading if you’re interested of course).

And today’s featured article, or “Artikel des Tages” on the German Wikipedia is about BSD, the so-called “Berkeley Software Distribution” (I’ll link to the German pages here, for English just click inside of Wikipedia if you like).

BSD and its kernel are one of the two mainline free Unix kernels, the other one was/is System V. Both are monolithic, and both stem from the AT&T (later also Bell) labs. BSD was/is used in early and recent operating system versions from Apple, but after Steve Jobs left the company, he founded another one called “NeXT“, and used a microkernel called Mach which was developed at the Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) for his operating system NeXTStep. When Apple bought NeXT in 1996, part of the deal was that Steve Jobs should come back and become Apple’s CEO. What they developed then was/is known as macOS, and that’s today’s commercially most successful Unix variant for personal computers (actual version is “macOS Catalina“). And even iPhones and iPads (did I write that correctly?) are based on this architecture, tho the end user doesn’t see much of that.

BSD itself split up into three mainline “distributions”, or “flavours”, so to speak, named NetBSD, FreeBSD, and OpenBSD, each with slightly different goals but from the kernel side pretty much identical. These can also run programs compiled for Linux.

As for the Linux side: that’s younger than its BSD siblings, but older than anything with Mac in its name. I run Debian on my systems which is developed not by a company but by a team of volunteer developers (both hobbyists and employees of big companies) world-wide. The advantage of this is that decisions are based on team votings, and that the system cannot be bought and commercialized (or even be closed down) by any big company.

In case you’re interested in Debian’s history: 13 years ago after I met him at a Linuxtag meeting in Karlsruhe I email-interviewed Ian Murdock (the “-ian” part of “Debian”), and you can read that here on my site (RIP Ian, and thanks again for everything).

So much for a short history lesson, and about free software for today. As always, thanks for reading.

How much CPU power do I need?

I was reading the latest c’t magazine and also just watched an hour long video talk they had about the finest article in it. The topic: once a year they publish suggestions of ideal machines to build for yourself, with low power consumption, which are quiet, run smoothly, give you the best bang for the buck, and so on.

I find these very useful, and all of my self-built PCs – some of which are distributed to the wider family by now – were always at least based upon their suggestions.

While discussing PCs with my brother (his doesn’t start anymore at the moment, after years of service (it also was a very good one)) and after reading that latest article with a remark that multitrack music productions would love to have many CPU cores I decided to check my own one. So I’ve made a short video about it:

resources 2019 11 16 12 24 28, from my own Youtube channel

The music I’ve used for that demonstration & check was my latest collab with Arno from Wikiloops. Merci Arno for your wonderful track!

And yes, for what I’m doing, an old 4th generation Intel Core i5 is more than enough as you can see. So a nice actual 9th generation one is the one I’d take for any new build, these integrated graphics are more important to me than any assumed or measurable advantage of AMD chips…

Thanks for watching, and for reading – as always.

A new desktop (and OS) at work

Yesterday I was some kind of productive at work – and during lunch break I even wiped my machine and installed the newly pushed OS which we should use starting January 1st 2020:

Linux@IBM desktop showing some private stuff

Of course I can’t show you any work-related things here, so I’ve made a screenshot of Firefox showing some private stuff on my new desktop which is now based upon RHEL (Red Hat Enterprise Linux) 7.7. This comes with a Gnome3 desktop by default, so at least it looks almost like my Debian at home (not as pretty of course 😛 ).

All in all, a pleasant experience with lots less woes than I expected. And yes, it should run smoothly because for Linux this is the officially supported environment at work.

Edit: here’s another screenshot, showing a virtualized Win10 (with 16GB RAM and 2 CPUs) and some music I made with friends from Wikiloops:

Windows, Linux, and music – all at the same time 🙂

So let’s see how it will work. For the moment, my concerns are (almost) gone, and I can work. Not missing too much until now.

As always, thanks for reading.

And now, the same in Debian

Firefox update to the next ESR release, the one without the built-in Live Bookmarks:

And I’ll do it right after finishing this blog post – now that I know what awaits me (some changes in the Look & Feel department, and lots of manual labour), I’ll just do it. After all, that new version of Firefox also has some advantages compared to its older sibling.

So… still no weekend for me… but thanks for reading, as always.

Update, after the update: the first thing I saw in the new browser version was an additional tab:

That’s a support page, written by volunteers for Mozilla, so thanks for that!

Thanks to you again for reading. Have a nice weekend.