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so tired…

Archive for January 2009

Resources II

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Jason R. Briggs, Snake Wrangling For Kids, [Link]

A nice little book about programming in Python. Written in a try to be easy to read and understand by children (although failing to be in some of the later chapters), I think if I will ever have kids they will get this book printed out together with their first computer. It might be helpful for them. Most likely I think that because I always would have liked to have some skill in programming my PC when I was a kid.

Jeffrey Elkner, Allen B. Downey, Chris Meyers, How to Think Like a Computer Scientist. Learning with Python, [Link]

Something like the former, just with an emphasis on a more mature crowd. I will definitely try to use the book to understanding  some of the concepts of programming. Somehow even after years of using these machines like a pro, I never understood some of the most basic concepts in theit programming.

bookn3rd has a howto on making your own quill [Link]. Now, where do I get feathers? She says it is harder than it looks to master it, but how would I know if I would’t try?

And lifehacker has the idea to use vintage calendars as new ones [Link]. After all the Gregorian calendar is repeating itself every 14 years or so, and some of these old calendars just look really, really good. The lazy breed of course finds another lifehack in that: just put up 14 different calendars on your wall and you will never have to buy a new one.

Written by G. Neuner

19. January 2009 at 1:23 am

Posted in Internet

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How I Failed to Learn Something Useful

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One fateful decision I made for my life (which I didn’t even know WAS such a fateful decision at the time I made it) occured in the end of 5th grade. At that time we were told to choose some electives. If we wanted.

Well, it wasn’t as if it was mandatory to take them, but we were told they always would be helpful later on. I looked over the sheet they gave us and somehow doubted that.

It was mostly extra sports classes. And mostly sport at insane times. And still with the same teachers as the regular classes. I was living a bit farther away, so a class at 7pm was not really feasible for me.  The last bus home left at 4.40.

But two classes struck my chord: IT and Touch Typing. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by G. Neuner

19. January 2009 at 12:47 am

Posted in Writing

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Resources I

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11949859501893671626open_book_01svgmedDaniel J. Cohen, Roy Rosenzweig, Digital History. A Guide to Gathering, Preserving, and Presenting the Past on the Web [Link]

This is a nice little introduction to all the basics of the digital age, mostly intended for an audience of historians. For me the book has a lot of redundancies as I grew up with the Internet already in place, but most likely someone not as used to the web as I am might find certain points in it very useful. Even though I am a child of the digital age some hints and tips were very interesting. I found especially the parts in which the discussed the use of advertisement for a historic website very illuminating. I think the key here is to know that if you don’t advertise a website for no other reason than it being inappropriate to your status as a historian, then nobody will find you and use your theses either.

William J. Turkel, Alan Mac Eachern, The Programming Historian [Link]

This book (a work in progress) is a fascinating introduction into programming (mostly Python) by and for historians. Python might be the best way to learn this as it is supposed to be a rather logical and easy-to-learn language with huge user base all Read the rest of this entry »

Written by G. Neuner

12. January 2009 at 2:39 pm

Posted in Internet

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A Fairyland in Avalon and the Power of Cod

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yonge_map_580I came across this a few days ago in my preparation of a short presentation on colonial settlements. When looking through the available literature on the matter (not much on this side of the Atlantic), I found the archaeological record of an excavation in one particular English settlement in Newfoundland, which I deemed appropriate enough for my topic to present. I could have done something like Jamestown or St. Augustine, but somehow this one looked a bit better, especially as the latter ones are “the firsts” in many cases and I wanted something more ordinary. Also there are many accounts on the history of the colony available and the whole settlement was destroyed after about 80 years in a documented attack. Sometimes I wonder how the destruction of a community can be seen as a good thing at all, but for archaeologists it is actually a godsend,  as it means there is an undisturbed record of settlement available in this area, up to a rather precisely dated point in time. In this case: from the start of the settlement in 1621 to it’s destruction in 1696

So when going through all the records on the settlement and trying to put them into a reasonable presentation I almost didn’t notice one tiny detail about it: It was called Ferryland and set in the colony of Avalon.

A Fairyland? (putting all the changes in ortography aside for a second)

In Avalon? Read the rest of this entry »

Written by G. Neuner

11. January 2009 at 9:56 pm

Howto: Install Adobe Air on Linux (Ubuntu/Fedora)

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Adobe Air actually gives quite a few nice possibilities to users (nevermind all the problems it might cause…). Nice and handsome applications which take away a lot of the old hassle of using the browser for tasks instead for surfing. So installing Air on a system seems like a good idea, especially as there actually exists a Linux version of it.

Unfortunately Adobe had the bad idea of providing not .deb or .rpm files, but instead an executable .bin on their site. On the one hand this is good because it should be able to run on different distributions then. On the other hand the provided help (doubleclick on the .bin) doesn’t help at all. It just doesn’t work. If you click, it normally exactly nothing will happen.

The file first has to be made executable. No problem for experienced users, lots of problems for the new crowd. Or at least many of them think it would be a problem.

What we do:

1. Download the Adobe Air runtime as a .bin from Adobe.com (the download should appear as the right one for your OS on the page)

2. Open the terminal (Yes! The dreaded terminal!) Read the rest of this entry »

Written by G. Neuner

7. January 2009 at 2:52 am

Posted in Computer

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Tweetdeck is the new black

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screenshot-tweetdeckSomehow Tweetdeck is the new black in twitter. So to speak. Everyone seems to use it lately. According to one source 11% of tweets are sent by it already. If already is a word which can be used on a service less than 2 years old.

Enough incentive for me to try it out as well, after all the web-interface of twitter buggered me from the start.

Not that there was anything really wrong with it, but I am not someone who likes to have the same tab open all the time just to check for updates and be able to post. This actually took me off twitter the first time I tried it very quickly.

What can I say? I like comfort!

Tweetdeck on the other hand is exactly what I was looking for in this respect; actually even a bit more: It has the ability to post new tweets, the ability to autoupdate in certain intervals, and it actually divides all the tweets I receive in general ones, replies, and direct messages. It even has a nice profile view and an integrated search. And all that presented in a nice and tidy way (which coincidentally fits perfect to the theme I use).

The interface is rather comfortable and intuitive, it is a pleasure to write and send tweets. Hitting enter actually sends the tweet instead of just pushing the cursor to another line. That was something I never understood in the web interface. I think I will stay with this app for a while.

So, anything bad about it? Read the rest of this entry »

Written by G. Neuner

6. January 2009 at 4:12 pm

Posted in Internet

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xkcd’s Guide to the Metric System

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Guide to Converting to Metric

xkcd today has a wonderful table of reference points in the units of the metric system. Having experienced the Americans living with me for a while, stumbling around in an environment which used the system showed me that something like that actually can be useful. And be it only for the sake of intercultural communication. After all (as obviously has to be pointed out) the USA is one of only three nations in the world which doesn’t use the metric system. And, all the humbug about how it is so much more complicated than the imperial system aside, about 5.7 Billion people use it every day without any problems. So it can’t be that complicated.

I don’t want to say: “come on, switch to metric now!”, because I like the idea of a nation clinging to a horribly outdated traditional system for no other reason than it’s history and their comfort with it (also I noticed that some Americans can get rather upset when confronted with the idea of converting), but at least this table might help understand the metric system a bit better. As is pointed out on the table, it is more important to make up new reference points for a new system than just convert it to the metrics one is used to.

Written by G. Neuner

5. January 2009 at 3:22 pm

No Brainstorm for you today, dear Pidgin community

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A few days ago some of the Pidgin developers, after complaining about the lack of interaction with their users a few days earlier, announced there now was Brainstorm available, a way for users and the community to interact with each other and vote for the most important ideas to implement in the application. I actually didn’t pay too much attention until their blog told me the service was switched off again. Reasons were not given, only the link to the mailing list (which I don’t read very often) was given.

A few hours later we were told to “Disregard that last post…” as the service was switched on again, or at least we were supposed to be able to vote for something.

Another 58 minutes later there was a long post about how this kind of Feedback actually would hurt the community.

Basically I don’t have a clue what was going on here, but obviously something went a tad wrong. There seems to be a fight going on about it, but as I don’t read the mailing list I have no clue what the status now is. I mostly got interested in it because of the Monty Pythonesque way all those posts were cancelling each other out one after another. Which could mean that the developers have a healthy taste for the Pythons’ humor, or maybe not.

Written by G. Neuner

5. January 2009 at 2:56 am

Posted in Computer

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PKP Adventures

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I think if I actually keep on travelling to other countries by train this little shout-out might become something more common in this still young and forming blog. And I actually like travelling by train in Poland. It beats bus, car and plane by far in terms of comfort and price.

But I had some, lets call them “experiences”,  with  employees of the Polish train company PKP the last few days. And I don’t even mean the one in Wroclaw who refused to believe that a station like Lodz Kaliska could exist for real [it, uhm,  is one of Poland’s most important stations in Poland’s second biggest city…]. But she was using a calculator as well to check if the numbers the computer gave her as the price to pay actually were correct. So I don’t really blame her.

I don’t mean the conductor who wanted to throw me off the train in the middle of nowhere because I had bought student tickets without a proper Polish student identity card. I think my very broken Polish rescued me here as she went to her superior to get me thrown off, and he/she told her off. Because as a citizen of the EU I am allowed to have reductions just as a Polish citizen would have them. Things like this actually are the thing which make me like the EU very much…

No, the weirdest, and the most mind-boggling of them, was the argument we had with the ticket vendors in Lodz Kaliszka. The train I wanted to take was a regional train which ended in Frankfurt an der Oder, just behind the Polish-German border. Which is actually pretty smart, because the station in Slubice, on the Polish side, is a small endpoint in the middle of nowhere, with no ticket vendors or whatsoever. Anyone who is going that far would normally want to cross the river towards Germany anyway.

But according to the salespersons (and at one point there were three of them arguing with us), this would make it an international train, and international train tickets are sold seperately. The office for international tickets on the other hand didn’t want to sell us the ticket as the train was a regional one, and they had no right or possibility to sell it. Oh the insanity…

This reminds of a book I really like. It’s called Catch 22.

Written by G. Neuner

5. January 2009 at 12:54 am

Posted in Travel

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Genuine U1fb3rht Sw0rds! Really Cheap!

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maciejowski_bibleRoughly a millenium ago a sword from the Frankish manufacturies of Ulfbhert gave the warrior wielding it a similar status as a car from Porsche, or maybe a clock from Glashaus, might give a person nowadays. It was a brand, and one well-known for it’s quality as well. The steel used for these swords was imported from Afghanistan and Iran into Scandinavia. It was a high-quality easy-to-use masterpiece of weaponery.It was bleeding edge (so to say) weapon technology. Authorities even tried to ban the export of these swords, as they could be used by others (i.e. Vikings) against the Franks themself.

Now, what happens nowadays when we have a brand well-known everywehere for it’s quality?

It gets copied of course! Copied by people who want to make some easy money with cheap fakes of good quality products. Buyers nowadays are often people who think that it mostly is the brand that matters and not the functionality. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by G. Neuner

1. January 2009 at 5:55 pm

Posted in History

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