How cool…

The discussion about Thunderbird doesn’t stop (no comments about that because I can’t come up with some positive stuff about it). For the “what if?” scenario (in case we would lose Thunderbird and also Icedove), I was reading about Claws – some friends are using that one since years.

Loved this part from its manual:

“What Claws Mail is not

Claws Mail is not a full-featured Personal Information Manager like Evolution or Outlook, although external plugins provide these functionalities. Claws Mail will not let you write and send HTML emails or other kind of annoyances, hence it may not be the software you need in some business environments.”

Hahaha. Sounds like a perfect tool for the job. Or does your favourite wrench also try to make coffee? 😉

lonien.de is 15. Or was it 16?

Today I was working on our server a bit, updating and checking things, and everything runs smoothly. I was wondering about the past a bit while I did all this, and so I checked.

Netcraft first “saw” us in the year 2000, which means that I used Netcraft’s services to check on us. The Internet Archive, and its Wayback Machine still have some stuff starting from 2001, and our site looked like this, or like that. I also had my own hosting company during 2001, called “fairhosting.de”, but nothing much of it is left, and that was later taken by domain grabbers. From 2005 Netcraft’s site saw us hosted by other companies.

So while the oldest history might be from early 2000, I think I actually registered the domain in 1999 – would have to check with Denic to find out. And, as I wrote on one of these early pages, the internet as we know it now was barely 10 years old (that means the mouse-clickable web, some other stuff like internet news is older).

Fifteen years only, and even less since people started to stare at small screens while walking the cities. Feels much longer tho – but imagine how life was before that (hint: it wasn’t worse).

Thanks for reading.

Thunderbird, also known as Icedove

Fully agree with Cory Doctorow on his article on Mozilla Thunderbird. It’s important to have a good email client, and this is definitely one of the best so far.

It’s not really new that the Mozilla Foundation thinks they have more important things to do than to keep working on Thunderbird, but Cory got new information from here, and they got it from there (in fact this comes from the usenet newsgroups, but who in the world (except me and some other outliers) is reading these?).

I’m using Debian, which uses a rebranded version of Mozilla’s Thunderbird which they call Icedove. And Debian have their own Wiki page about its future, and as you can see, it’s still maintained, until now “upstream” is mostly Mozilla. And while this might change in the future, well, it’s still an open source project, and the Wikipedia page linked to above calls Icedove a “fork” of Thunderbird already, tho this mostly had to be done because of Mozilla’s restrictive branding (and update) policies.

I’m not much of a developer (not enough time to care for everything in life), but I still hope that I – and Cory – are not the only ones who care for a good and solid email client. There are others of course, but I always liked Icedove (and also Enigmail). I’ll follow this on the Debian maintainers’ newsgroups and mailing lists, and probably come back to it when there’s more information from Mozilla. Just that some tool might not look promising in an economic way doesn’t mean that it’s not a good and solid product which many people love to have, and looking for shareholder value isn’t always the right path into the future, in fact it’s rather short-sighted in most cases. Working where I am (a former IT giant which today is a mere shadow of what it once was, and could have been), I know what I’m writing about…

Thanks for reading.

Recent activities

We went for a short walk again last Sunday, tho the area we decided upon wasn’t that good for walking – not enough shadow, too many bicyclists, things like that. Anyway, here’s a photo from our walk:

7df_8231995-zuleikha

And while the cat was gone for almost 24 hours, she also returned short after that.

Then it started to rain again, and the plants and trees really needed it. Mitchie had brought the latest c’t special about photography, which is quite good and interesting this time. So I read a lot and tried darktable, which can do a lot more than both my Olympus Viewer 3 (on Windows) and RawTherapee (on Linux) combined. It has a bit of a learning curve tho, so it’s too early for judgements. Here’s a first result of just playing around with it for a few minutes:

7df_8242004-after-rain

What’s also really interesting in that c’t special magazine is an article about using telescopes, so I read a lot about that as well. Even Stephen Hawking has one now, years after he wrote his brief history of time. A report about his telescope, by the proud Chinese makers, is here if you’re interested.

And in case you’re interested is star photography, you can come up to speed and learn most of what you’d have to know if you look at three episodes from Forrest Tanaka, on youtube:

Part 1 (about which scope you’d like to have),
Part 2 (about the mount, which is even more important), and
Part 3 (about how to help your telescope with tracking those stars)

This is all explained so that you can even understand it, so it’s really recommended stuff for star gazers (and probably for people who are waiting for Patrick Stewart to turn up, and to talk about having the first contact soon). 😉 Oh, and by the way: Forrest Tanaka has a nice Flickr stream as well. He seems to be good in everything he does, not only when lecturing about how to choose and use telescopes.

He’s at least certainly better than me. I just took a photo of Arcturus, using my 40-150mm lens at the longest setting. The photo and the explanation in Stellarium look like this:

7df_8262014-arcturus

Screenshot_from_2015-08-26_21:18:36-Arcturus_in_Stellarium

Anyway, Arcturus is a red giant, about 36 light years away, and roughly 25 times the diameter of our sun (and much brighter than it as well). And it’s even older than our complete solar system. Interesting to read, at least for trekkies like me.

Update, from 3:23am: another, darker picture of a star:

7df_8272017-vega

And its description in Stellarium:

Screenshot_from_2015-08-27_02:47:54-Vega_in_Stellarium

Thanks for reading.

Done with rebuilding the computer

I finished rebuilding my machine on Saturday, and completed the software setup yesterday. What took me so long was to actually read and understand how UEFI works, and how to make a bootable USB stick with a GPT (UEFI partition table) instead of the old style MBR (master boot record). You need this since otherwise the OS would be installed in “legacy” mode, with not using the newer and much better UEFI firmware. If you want to read about the basics on how to set this up with Debian – like I did – you can do so here and here. Once I had made that UEFI USB stick and put the Debian netinstall image onto it, booting from it greets you with this:

_8091729

Note the second line where it says “UEFI Installer menu”. And once the installation is finished (you’ll need internet for a Debian netinstall), you’ll have a dual boot Grub menu like this:

_8091730

I got a Crucial BX100 250GB SSD as the system drive, like recommended by the German c’t magazine. Which means that from the boot menu which you see above to the login screen takes about 4-5 seconds, and lots of things like picture viewing are also sped up quite a bit. Easy to recommend one of these drives, which by now are also more reliable than spinning platter drives (I still have the 2TB rotating one for my data, these are still somewhat expensive when done in chips).

And running the Olympus Viewer 3 natively on Windows 10 is much faster than doing so within a virtualized Windows 7, which I did before, even when rebooting the machine to switch between operating systems. I reserved a small FAT32 partition on the SSD to share images between Windows and Linux, which also works perfectly.

Thanks for reading.

Win10, and hardware

Let me tell you this first: I’m a Linux user. Since years. And happy with it.

So yesterday the latest and greatest (and probably last ever) Windows was released. A colleague of mine immediately tried the “Enterprise 2015 LTS” branch in a virtual machine at work, and I tried the “Pro” version yesterday evening at home, also in a virtual machine:

Screenshot from 2015-07-29 22:45:46

Screenshot from 2015-07-29 22:45:46

Windows 10 in an Oracle VirtualBox on 64 Bit Debian GNU/Linux 8 “Jessie”

Looks pretty cool, especially the new “Edge” browser. But at the moment it cannot replace my also virtualized and small Win7 since VirtualBox on Debian is probably a bit too old to run the Guest Additions, which you’d need to share drives, or to use the full screen (1920×1200 pixel in my case) with a proper driver. For dual booting, sure, I’d probably give it a try, but since I don’t use the typical Adobe heavyweights, I don’t need it to access all 8GB of RAM, and to spread itself all over my boot disk.

Which brings me to hardware. Nasim Mansurov has a very nice and interesting article about building the optimal PC for photographers’ needs, and his recommendations even top the ones I read in a c’t special issue about the optimal machine for using Photoshop (a guy from Adobe themselves said that 16GB of RAM is just fine at the moment).

What makes Nasim’s article interesting is that it mentions stuff I didn’t know about, like his point 4 about M.2 SSDs. But both his recommendations are a bit overkill in my opinion, or to use his own car analogy, that feels like driving a Ferrari through the rush hour, when a Toyota Corolla would do fine as well.

If I were to build a PC these days (and yes, I have also done this since at least 15 years or so), I’d probably go with something like the Quad Core PC mentioned by c’t in January this year, updating it with the newer components from issue 16 sans the series 5 processor which would produce BIOS/UEFI problems with most boards.

So my choice would look like: 16GB of RAM, Core i5 or i7 processor, SSD as boot and OS drive plus that 4TB spinning disk data drive they mention. All in all, without OS, that would still be under 1k€ (or $) – cheaper than even the “small” machine recommendation from Nasim. And more than capable for the rest of us who don’t even have 36MP cameras.

Yes, I’d probably dual boot a machine like that, and have a look at Lightroom or Capture One Pro on Windows. Of course, the best part of it would and will always be Debian, or any other free (as in beer and as in speech) operating system. I’d rather trust my open source buddies than any corporation (whose best friends will always be the shareholders instead of the customers).

About cameras? Even my old 10MP E-520 DSLR can still take a nice enough picture, even if it has only about a quarter of the sensor of a D810 (both area and pixel count, so pixel density is about equal or even higher than with that top Nikon camera):

7df_7280729-orchid

Orchid

Update: Please note, I’m not anti-Microsoft, or anti-anything. Tools are tools, you have to search the ones which are right for you and your needs. In fact, some of the guys working at that corporation are pretty cool, like this nice tip shows. Maybe my wife can use that to upgrade her new Dell notebook from Win8.1 to Win10, without affecting her Ubuntu bootloader. It also makes me think about upgrading my hardware, see above. Found via this and this page, during a quick scan of interesting daily news.

Thanks for reading.

Since yesterday

Yesterday I installed Debian 8 “Jessie” into a free partition of my primary hard drive. Jessie isn’t ready yet, and the installer still is RC1, but it works and looks great:

Screenshot from 2015-01-30 19:52:45

Screenshot from 2015-01-30 19:53:12

Screenshot from 2015-01-30 20:00:45

Screenshot from 2015-01-30 22:30:48

Get these screenshots in their full resolution (1920×1200) from Flickr if you click on any of them. This will be a great release.

Oh, and as a photographer, you’ll get RawTherapee 4.2 with it, to which you can add film simulations. One-click Kodak Tri-X or Ilford HP5 look anyone? It can also now open the raw X-Trans files from my colleague’s Fuji XT-1 camera, which is quite amazing as well. I have an ISO 3200 picture from that camera which was a bit over 1 stop underexposed, so it’s more like ISO 6400. Still practically noise-free, and the out of camera jpg is great as well. A good one definitely.

But that said, look at Kirk’s out of camera black & white photos from his Olympus E-M5… and our E-PL5 cameras have that very same sensor, plus tilting viewfinders, so I looked at these XT-1 files more out of curiosity.

Anyway – that new Debian version is highly recommended.

Update, from short before midnight:

As beautiful as that new ‘lines’ theme of Debian is, I decided to tweak it and use my own wallpaper again. So this is how my desktop looks right now:

7de_a055656 Screenshot from 2015-01-30 23:47:27

Desktop wallpaper art for my new Debian “Jessie” installation

Thanks for viewing. Good night.

Video editing on Linux

I haven’t done or tried it since a while, but “Today’s Big Story” on LXer with its headline “The current state of video editing on Linux” grabbed my attention. And the article on opensource.com gives some nice links to learn Blender – I should watch a couple of these, since I was a bit overwhelmed by that program in the past.

The best thing about Linux, again and again? That this is all just an ‘apt-get install‘ away, at least on Debian (and/or on Ubuntu)… 🙂

WordPress 4.0

WordPress 4 is out, and it seems to be a nice upgrade. I had a busy week, and in the next one school will start for our small one again. First action this morning: give a little food to the smallest of our visitors…

7de_9060490-bird-food

Bird food. Olympus E-520 with 50mm/2 macro lens.

Thanks for viewing.

A thing of beauty

Debian Jessie Beta1 inside an Oracle VirtualBox inside Debian Wheezy (which is the current stable version of Debian Linux and my main desktop):

Screenshot from 2014-08-27 20:06:05

They really ship XFCE by default, cool. And even RawTherapee 4.1 should make it into Jessie before the freeze (in November or so). At the moment, it’s still 4.0.12 in Jessie and 4.0.9 in Wheezy.

Best things in life are free, aren’t they?

Thanks for viewing.