RSS Is Dead. Long Live RSS!

Mozilla its intent to remove RSS support in Firefox 63 or Firefox 64 . The reasoning is that the feature is not widely used and so the code has become a large burden on the rest of the code base. Without knowing the Firefox code base, this explanation makes a lot of sense.

A comment on the previous post An Increasingly User-Hostile Web got me started using RSS only a few months ago, but because this workflow naturally supports reading news from different devices, it has become part of my daily workflow. All that was needed was the installation of Nextcloud News App on my existing server.


Read more…

The Case Against Google

For some time now I have changed my default search engine to DuckDuckGo, but that was mostly the result of my reflection on privacy issues. Everybody has already witnessed, how even a single Google search can quickly "taint" the ads presented on pretty much every subsequently visited web page. Changing the default search engine and using open services like Open Street Map instead of Google Maps are easy steps to prevent every information flowing directly to this omnipresent entity.

The New York Times article The Case Against Google however looks at the dominance of Google from a completely different angle and puts this in a very interesting historical context. The question in a nutshell is - can Google prevent real competition by simply excluding competitors from search results? Or put differently, can an emerging new internet service be choked to insignificance by not being visible on the first page in Google search?

Too Many Books To Read

Read more…

Fixing DocNav 2017.04 on Debian Stretch

Having installed Vivado 2017.04 on one of my GNU/Linux machines that run Debian 9.3 (Stretch), I realized that DocNav fails to start:

dzu@deepthought:~$ . /opt/Xilinx/Vivado/2017.4/
dzu@deepthought:~$ docnav
docnav: error while loading shared libraries: cannot open shared object file: No such file or directory
Xilinx Logo

Read more…

Electricity Map

During all the political discussions for the need of clean power, I always wondered about real data for this domain, i.e. how much of our electrical power is coming from what sources. As it wasn't that important, I never even tried to find any source for this and continued to live in ignorance. By sheer accident the situation changed recently as I learned about the Electricity Map web site answering exactly this question in real time. The site focuses on the release of the green house gas CO2 to visualize the data.

It is very instructive to study the individual countries, their power mix and the trade of electricity across the borders. A few questions that popped into my mind when visiting it for the first time were pretty easy to answer:

  • Why does Norway have such an excellent CO2 balance?
  • Why is France also doing very good? Ok, so the problems of nuclear power plants are beyond the data of this page.
  • What is the installed capacity of solar and wind energy in Germany compared to nuclear power plants?
Electricity Map Screenshot

Read more…

Firefox is Cool Again

Even though it is not news anymore, I think it is worth mentioning that Mozilla Firefox improved by a large margin with the Firefox Quantum (57) release. Although I have been using Firefox since it started back in 2004, from time to time I was jealous of the performance of Chrome and other engines. Still I never left the platform with the deep conviction that Firefox will catch up sooner or later. This time has finally come!

Mozilla Firefox Logo

Read more…

New View on the Weather

Taking great pleasure in outdoor activities, it has always been important for me to have accurate weather predictions available. Although localized weather forecasts on the web or from apps are very good nowadays, it turns out that some qualitative insight greatly improves understanding the general weather situation.

Having enjoyed it a lot, this post is a recommendation for the book "Do-it-yourself Wettervorhersage" (currently in German only) from Urs Neu.

Do-it-yourself Wettervorhersage

Read more…

An Increasingly User-Hostile Web

This post is the first in a series linking to interesting articles or papers. The bare links will be paired with some background on why I think they are relevant for someone else also. The installments of the series will be easily discernible by the "Too Many Books To Read" xkcd comic.

The idea for such a series materialized after reading Against an Increasingly User-Hostile Web that I noticed on the Hacker News newsletter.

Too Many Books To Read

Read more…

Recovering Serial Connection on FRDM-LS1012A

During a recent workshop, I observed a strange interaction between Windows 10 systems and the serial connection to an NXP Freedom LS1012A board already referenced in one of my previous posts (Bootstraping Debian 9 (Stretch) for arm64). Due to this interaction two boards were rendered useless during the workshop.

This post explains the problem and shows how to easily recover the boards with the matching firmware for the serial to USB converter.

FRDM-LS1-12A top view

Read more…

Switching to https with Let's Encrypt

As you may have noticed, the blog is now being served as a secure, encrypted page with the help of a fresh TLS certificate from Let's Encrypt.

Let's Encrypt

Ever since I first learned about this initiative supporting a more secure and privacy-respecting web, I wanted to use such a certificate for my blog. The immediate enthusiasm was slowed by the realization of the very short lifetime of the certificates and so the idea was left dormant for a while. With a validity of only three months, some sort of scripting infrastructre is needed to ensure that the certificates are renewed in a timely fashion and back then I didn't see an easy solution ready in a few minutes. Luckily enough, my web space provider Hostsharing eG integrated Let's Encrypt in a completely seamless fashion in the last weeks. All I needed to do was to tick the "Let's Encrypt Zertifikat" option in the HSAdmin web interface, specify the valid sub-domains and a few minutes later the website started serving the certificate.

Admittedly it took a little longer to find out why Firefox kept complaining about blocking mixed content on the TLS connection replacing the icons in the left hand panel by empty rectangles. Debugging the problem showed that the icons are in fact individual "characters" in an off-site font referenced by my chosen Nikola theme. Switching the template HTML to load the fonts also over https finished the transition.

Migrating a Laptop from Windows to Ubuntu

The old laptop of my wife was still running Windows Vista for a variety of reasons but not only did the support for that end but the laptop itself has become slow to a point that was unacceptable. Swapping in a SSD two years ago improved the performance back then to what one would expect but lately it spent hours with 100% usage of one of the cores in the Windows Update service with the only result of drowning the battery. I spent countless futile hours trying to reset that service and entering magic commands found in the Windows Support Centre and other semi respectable forums on the internet only to find out hours later that nothing had changed.

All in all, even though some functionality would not be available under GNU/Linux, there was no other way forward than to migrate it.

Ubuntu Gnome

Read more…