‘t Twiske

Only a short 8 kilometer hike near Amsterdam due to the fact that my brother and his girlfriend had a birthday party to attend afterwards. ‘T was in ‘t Twiske, a peatlands. Gusts of wind were crowding in on us like a bunch of dissatisfied rugby players. When we got there I found out that my batteries were almost dead, so I limited myself to just pressing the release button on the camera in automatic mode.

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Reeds. Wet shoes. Unsharp masked to pick up some of the highlights that are present in the original.

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Here my brother thinks he is an aeroplane.

WKRP in Cincinnati

Tip for the Dutchies, because I don’t think this has ever been shown on these shores: “WKRP in Cincinnati” (or just: WKRP) is a straight-forward 1970s sitcom about the daily life at a tiny commercial radio station. You’ll find it on the greynet.

(P.S. I seem to be attaching an entirely different meaning to the word “greynet” than other folks do. That’s all right, but it’s something you should know.)

(P.P.S. Thanks to Natasha for the tip.)

Control multiple PCs at once

Synergy

Synergy is a small cross-platform tool that lets you share keyboard and mouse between several systems. How is that relevant, you ask? Well, I was looking into a dual monitor set-up, because I liked working with one at a customer’s. Somebody pointed me to Multiplicity, a Synergy-like tool, which unfortunately only works on Windows.

With Synergy though, I can attach my keyboard and mouse to both the iBook and the Windows-PC at once. This set-up lets me use the Mac as a second screen, sort of. My work involves just looking at a lot of things, whether is reading manuals and specifications on the web, or previewing the web page I am coding in a browser. I can do these on a second computer, sharing mouse and keyboard between them. Synergy lets me do these things in a manner that barely differs from using two screens for the same PC.

Of course this means I need to have two computers on at the same time, but that was already a bit of reality here, as I use my Mac as a sort of business diary.

If I am so happy about Synergy, why am I only giving it five out of ten points? The score reflects that the program still has to improve a lot, albeit mainly on small points. At the moment you have to configure, then start it, and if you want to autostart it, you have to set that up manually too. And autostarting works by no means perfect either, if the documentation is to be believed. I hope Synergy will develop into something that upon installation will autoconfigure itself, that will start looking for other computers on the network, and if they’re new, will interogate you about them. Autostart should be the default.

I may still get that second monitor, simply because the settings of my two PCs vary too wildly.

My rating: 2.5 stars
**1/2

(This review was written using Andrew Scott’s hReview plug-in.)

Would you perhaps be trying to sell me something?

It’s a question I have to ask regularly of the direct marketing scum that call me on the phone: “Excuse me, are you calling me to sell me something?” For some reason, the phonetards try to postpone the anti-climax of the conversation as long as possible by trying to obscure the reason for their call. This is because it’s not really a conversation. The longer they can convince me that we are having a conversation, the better it is for them.

But direct marketing is push. It’s in your face, it is unwanted, it is begging for me to take out the baseball bat and come by to clean the pond. You don’t expect pull marketeers to make life more difficult for the prospective customer. Any ad that has to lure me over basically has to make life as smooth as possible for me.

And I guess when Inmatrix put up a webpage to promote their Zoomplayer Pro product, their intention really was to make life easier for me. After all, if I find out after the fact that I cannot use their product, they’re are going to have one cross, baseball bat-owning customer on their hands. Nevertheless, if I read all the things I have to do for the privilige of using their product, I feel the need to grab my credit card dissipate immediately.

The list of requirements is this long because of Microsoft’s perfidious DRM scheme.

But! If you are going to have a page titled: “Why should I buy this product?,” don’t make the list of cons three times as long. Put that list on another page, titled Requirements, and keep the Why page for the good news.

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DRM gone mad, I tells you!

Related earlier posts:

New wave of e-book readers

It would appear that a second wave of e-book readers is coming. The first wave languished, probably because of a lack of books to read on the LCD based devices, but we’re a couple of years further down the road, and the market might be bigger now.

The new devices are:

  • e-paper based
  • expensive
  • slow
  • high-resolution

More news at the usual suspects:

(I am not linking to particular stories, because there’s too much going on right now. This might be a good start though.)

Schinkelpolder

I wanted to start hiking a bit further away than last week, in order to avoid the crowds. I had planned to walk the dike near Schiphol Airport, but made a mistake studying the map; where I wanted to walk I could not. So instead of a short walk I made it a short bike ride (2.5 hours).

Just past the Amsterdamse Bos is the Schinkelpolder, a part of the Green Corridor that should enable plants and beasts alike to migrate past the city. The wind, no longer blowing at gale force but still strong, was a major factor here, as was the rain.

The first photo is looking back towards the Amsterdamse Bos. Most of the photos I took were underexposed, so I juggled a bit in the GIMP to get a better contrast.

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This is the De Zwarte Ruiter (The Black Rider), a mill used to keep the water from flooding the polder.

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Back home, the sun could be seen only indirectly.

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Pegasus a phoenix?

It would appear the rumours of Pegasus’ death have been greatly exagerated. Or rather, it would appear that after many responses to his announcement, Pegasus author David Harris has decided to try and make a U-turn. Let’s hope he succeeds.

On January 3rd 2007, I announced that development of Pegasus Mail and Mercury would be ceasing because of funding problems. The result was an absolute avalanche of mail, phone calls, faxes and other communications wanting me to continue.

[…]

In response to the torrent of messages […] I have now decided to restart development and distribution of both programs. To make this possible, it will be necessary to restructure the way I fund them in some way that will attract an adequate and sustained level of financial support. [In] a nutshell, it is likely that Pegasus Mail will become “donationware”, while Mercury will become fully licensed based on numbers of mailboxes, with a certain base number of mailboxes provided free of charge.

You’ll want to feel big

The Toziers are prepping have posted a book, Gerald Stanley Lee’s The Voice of the Machines, for via the Distributed Proofreaders, the letter percolator of Project Gutenberg. Soon you will be able to read it, but for now Bill posts a fragment:

Some people are very fond of looking up at the sky, taking it for a regular exercise, and thinking how small they are. It relieves them. I do not wish to deny that there is a certain luxury in it. But I must say that for all practical purposes of a mind—of having a mind—I would be willing to throw over whole hours and days of feeling very small, any time, for a single minute of feeling big. The details are more interesting. Feeling small, at best, is a kind of glittering generality.

In Dutch:

Sommigen kijken graag omhoog naar de hemel, regelmatig zelfs, en realiseren zich dan hoe nietig ze zijn. Dat ontspant ze. Ik ontken niet dat daar een zeker genot aan te ontlenen valt. Maar ik moet zeggen dat ik voor het verstand, voor het hebben van verstand, ik graag hele uren en dagen van me klein te voelen zou willen ruilen, wanneer dan ook, tegen enkele minuten dat ik me groot voel. De details zijn interessanter. Je klein voelen is op zijn best een soort glinsterende algemeenheid.

Americans now hate capitalism

In an amazing twist of irony it would appear that when capitalism threatens their seething xenophobia, some Americans gladly forsake their number one philosophy. A pizza chain with mostly Hispanic customers decided to announce they would also accept pesos … and immediately started receiving a stream of angry letters, including death threats, from people who presumably don’t want companies to make money in the US. Because that would be capitalistic, and therefore unamerican. Or at least not as American as xenophobia.

(Via BoingBoing. And my apologies for the title: I now read way too much Rilstone.)

Amsterdamse Bos

I went to the Amsterdamse Bos today. It’s a short way from my house, and depending on how I vary my route it takes me 3 to 4 hours to walk around it.

The place was crowded with people walking their dogs or their kids. “Bos” (forest) is perhaps a bit of a misnomer. The Amsterdamse Bos is more of a very large city park. “Amsterdamse” is perhaps also not quite right; legally, the area falls under the municipality of Amstelveen.

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Above photo taken facing Schiphol Airport using a Canon Powershot A620.

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Composite photo using two different exposures for the top and bottom half, using the Neutral Density Filter technique. Gimpguru describes another technique specifically for blending exposures, but that was a little bit too much work for me.

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Above photo facing the St. Urbanuskerk in Amstelveen across De Poel (lit. The Pool). Rotated and selectively sharpened.

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You just cannot beat ducks doing the Jesus thing. Cropped.