• Losing technological mysteries

    When I was about 13 years old, I inherited an old, 1970s-era stereo set from my uncle. It had an old cathode amplifier, a dual cassette deck, and a radio, each of it’s modules done with a brushed stainless steel finish. I spent a (very rainy) summer school holiday riding the radio waves, and expanding my tastes in music.

    At the very low end of the spectrum, there was a weird signal that I never quite identified: A series of modulated tones, very loud, some longer, some very quick. It sounded a bit like morse code, or like the station identifiers that the local public transit busses used to talk to each other over CB radio. But not quite. When I became older and interested in cryptography, I figured that that weird signal might be a variant of a number station.

    My radio years ended with the advent of internet music streaming. And eventually, I was unable to find the signal… I almost forgot about it until I stumbled upon “The museum of endangered industrial sounds” - … which gave no explanation, only a name: [[Eurosignal][]]. Wikipedia then explained the rest:

    Eurosignal was an early pager system that operated between 1974 and 1997.

  • Thanks for all the fish, Columbia Internet is no more.

  • Weekly Links, CW 31

    Steve Lord describes how he uses an Amiga home computer as his personal computing device. Using nonstandard hardware comes with challenges and compromises, but has some unique benefits (such as relative safety against on-device surveillance).

  • Weekly Links, CW 30

    One of the most fascinating software development projects right now is Dwarf Fortress, a generative text-mode dwarf colony simulator written almost entirely by one man, over 20 years. It has a great simulation depth, unsurprisingly for something that is around 700k lines of code. Now, there’s an insightful interview with it’s creator.

  • Weekly Links, CW 28

    Ever had problems giving your complicated wifi password to friends and guests? Print a WiFi Login QR Code with and glue it to a doorpost. Tested with both iOS and some Android devices, may work with Windows as well.

  • Weekly Links, CW 27

    Nicky Case explains, why RSS is awesome and why there is a revival. Also, why Google is evil. Mandatory reading for anyone who wants a better web.

  • Weekly Links, CW 26

    HackerNews discusses ethical software engineering, and when to walk away from a job. It’s a good read and should be a basis on defining your own red lines.

  • Weekly Links, CW 25

    NPR reports on the pandemic changing how workers evaluate their life, leading them to quit their jobs.

  • Four static site generators

    When your main focus in web publishing is the publishing part, when you mostly want to provide text, many of the tools of the trade like Wordpress seem overly complicated and may cause security risks. Pure static website generation, the old, HTML ways on the other hand is just icky and not expecially user-friendly either. After all, you don’t want to manage a database or write syntax, you want to write, right?

  • Meditations on ... the written word

    The breed of the classical essayist is almost gone. It has been diminished by clickbait, by memes, by “discussions” held over short-message services like Twitter.

  • Weekly Links, CW 24

    Gently down the stream is an introduction into Apache Kafka, in the form of an illustrated children’s book. It follows similar projects like the one for Kubernetes, proving that basic understanding of a piece of software is not dependant on years and years of experience and manual-reading.

  • Weekly Links, CW 21

    Attack Magazine has a great writeup about how japanese synthezisers shaped post-WW2 pop music. It’s a story about societal values, economic variables and the willingness to improve and disrupt.

  • Weekly Links, CW 20

    Hillel Wayne has a stellar piece about esoteric programming languages that gets a bit more into the historical side and is more obscure than what Wikipedia gives you. Everyone knows Brainfuck and Shakespeare, but ever heard of Hexagony?

  • But does it bring value?

    Some time ago, the company I worked for had hired quite a few very junior consultants to outsource some of the less interesting work to. Over the time, I developed a friendly relationship with a few of them. There was one who kept talking about whether or not an action “brought value” to a situation.

  • Satellite - social media that incentivizes unifying behaviour

    We’ve seen our share of social media, and it’s downfalls, from the days of Orkut and MySpace to Facebook, to Reddit and Twitter.

  • rC3 - remote Chaos Communication Congress

    What can you reasonably expect from an event that is organized by volunteers, distributed and unable to meet in person in the Corona-year 2020? A lot more than you would expect. The rC3 was the result of a gargantuan effort and - given it was developed over six weeks, it shows the community is strong.

  • Don't let your Agile Coaches run wild

    Robert C. Martin - himself one of the godfathers of the Agile methodology - has coined the term of “code smells”: Code that has certain characteristics that tell you you’re about to get into deep trouble. I propose the following agile smells:

  • The 1MB Club

    The internet of yesteryear has changed - and not for the better. Thankfully, more and more people are realizing this, and deciding to promote using client-side and server-side resources more efficiently again. One of these initiatives is the 1MB club - an exclusive list of websites that use less than 1 megabyte of data of total resources on their page load.

  • The RSS revival

    Google Reader was probably the most mourned Google product of all times. When it was discontinued back in the day, for many people RSS as a standard for news aggregiation died with it. For a while, there was no web-based killer app replacement, and slowly, the many orange, wifiesque RSS symbols that once were ubiquious on websites large and small disappeared, often together with the feeds they tried to advertise.

  • Why I still prefer physical books

    Anyone who has visited me can attest to this: I own a lot of books - one may say too many. People then tend to push me towards ebooks, some are even offended when they sent me a file, and find a printed copy on my desk the day after.

  • NextTrash - CLI tool to show you when the trash comes next

    I made a little thing: Nexttrash:

  • So I got my ACP-100 done

    I have been working as a Jira Administrator for quite some time now. So it was time to get certified.

  • Resurrecting the WizKid

    I was that kid in the late 1980s who dreamed in BASIC (those were nightmares, good ones were in Assembly) and who could list you ten reasons why the Commodore family of homecomputers were superior to IBM compatibles out of his head.

  • dotfiles belong in a repository

    If you are a Unix afficiado like me dotfiles are the little configuration helpers that make the world run just right for you. Often you’ve tweaked them just right for months and months … and getting the system to work such well-oiled again after a crash will be troublesome.

  • meta information for technical articles

    How often have you searched for a fix for a technical problem, found a link, only to find out - often after some unsuccessful cursing - that the text was about version Hammurabi II and the world (and your software) has moved on?

  • A fresh start

    I have been maintaining websites on and off for several years, starting at the web’s infancy in the mid-1990s. In recent years, these websites disappeared because of a variety of reasons, sometimes because I lost interest, sometimes because hosting providers disappeared, often because I lost data. For a while, I worked as an SEO consultant. Eventually, I lost interest in webmastering and writing - stuff became too complicated to “look good” - a metric that at some point in time was important to me. Around the same time, we saw the creation of the framework, often masqueraded as “content management systems”, which - badly designed - became the major way to hand control of your server to some east-european hacker collective. I now see how misguided this overreliance on graphics, on clicks and on the flashy side of the net is.

  • Convert an iCal calendar to a pal event file

    Like most of us, I am using a web-based calendar to sync across devices and PIM applications. Like many developers, I seriously love the unix command line interfact and the flexibility it brings.