Google+Social Media
9. December 2018

I haven’t written much about Google+ lately, mostly because it just seemed to be working well and while it was a bit more quiet than before, it still was a pleasant social network with many unique features. But in early October, Google dropped a bombshell of epic proportions: following an undisclosed and covered up security leak, Google+ will be shut down slowly over the next ten months. Sometime in August 2019, Google+ will cease to exist.

This is something I never, ever expected to be happening. Google+ had lost a lot of its popularity recently and has been declared dead or a ghost town by many, but for a large loyal group of users, especially photographers, it was the social network of choice. Evidently Google doesn’t think much of those people, some of who were invited to special communities and programs like Google+ Create and others. Kicking everyone out with ten months’ of notice is at least halfway decent, but still feels like being betrayed. In the original announcement Google claims that Google+ “has low usage and engagement: 90 percent of Google+ user sessions are less than five seconds” –  but what about the other 10%? How many users are that? Millions? Tens of Millions? Evidently not enough.

Continue reading »

Category: Google+, Social Media
Science & Astronomy
16. September 2018

This weekend, Astronomy Cast celebrates its 500th episode, which will be recorded later today in Edwardsville in front of a live audience! Five hundred half-hour podcasts, more than half of them also streamed live with video during the recording, make up an immeasurable trove of sciencetific and astronomical knowlegde that has always been and always will be available for free.

It all started back in 2006, almost exactly twelve years ago, when podcasts were still a new thing and everything was an experiment. Late summer that year, Astronomer Dr. Pamela Gay, who had already been podcasting before anyone knew what it was and space and science journalist Fraser Cain, the editor of Universe Today, joined forces for the first time to record the inagural episode of Astronomy Cast, which was released on September 10, 2006. Almost exactly twelve years later, the 500th episode is about to be recorded – and there will be many more.

So, how did I get involved with Astronomy Cast? Back in 2013, I wrote a long post for the Hangoutathon fundraiser to chronicle my journey to CosmoQuest, the citizen science project tightly linked to the podcast. This article is a rewriting of this original post with some additional thoughts.

Continue reading »

Science & Astronomy
11. August 2018

I haven’t written anything on this blog for months, but the tradition of lamenting the annual Perseid Meteor Shower seems like a good opportunity to start again. This year, the Peak Perseid Season from August 11-13 falls onto an end of a three-week monster heatwave here in Europe and that means, very predictably, clouds! Of course during the heatwave we’ve had beautiful starry nights, but not so much now. As usual, the Perseids will peak on August 12 as usual, so this and the next night will probably be the best chance to look for meteors, but generally the few days around the peak date are usually good too.

Hopefully, I can still catch a meteor on a photo with my new-ish camera sometime in the next nights – I’m not really hopeful, but I will set up the camera this night if it isn’t too cloudy or raining. And if your weather looks good and you want to try watching, here are the usual links:

If you want to know more about the Perseids, Universe Today has a really good Observer’s Guide written by David Dickinson and Fraser Cain’s  short explainer video about meteors in general is also very recommended. In short, if you have a reasonably clear view of the sky to the east and northeast, you are all set to go! You don’t even need any fancy equipment, just your eyes and some patience are enough. Don’t use binoculars or a zoom lens – you need to have a wide angle of view because the Perseids tens to appear all over the Northwest skies and when they come, they are not easy to miss!

3. March 2018

Two weeks ago, I had a bit of an accident – a glass full of hot tea broke while I was carrying it to my desk and it spilled on my laptop. That’s the relatively new Thinkpad T61 which I got in September 2015 and only recently upgraded with new memory… but Thinkpads are supposed to be fairly liquid-resistant, right? I thought so too, but before I could shut it down, it shut itself off… and stayed off. It was as dead as a dodo, even after partly disassembling and cleaning it – or so I thought at the time. This was my fastest computer with which I do everything nowadays, because my “big” machines are now to old to even browse the web… and I needed a replacement fast. Thankfully I have a little bit of emergency money for exactly this purpose to spend and after a quick look on eBay I found a nice Thinkpad T510 from the same seller I already got my T61 and my Compaq all the way back ten years ago. I can really recommend IT-Mixx for used notebooks because even what they call B-Ware looks like brand new.

Continue reading »

23. January 2018

Two thousand and eighteen, let’s let that sink in for a moment – a year count that sounds straight out of science fiction, it’s now really the future we’re living in! I’m happy to report that the now ancient-sounding year of 2017 was quite a lot better than 2016 at least for myself, even though opinions may differ for the rest of the world. I’m quite late with my traditional end-of-the-year post once again, but that happened mainly because I just want to take it easy and do everything without too much pressure this year. 2018 actually started for me far away from home because I was visiting my family in Berlin, so I didn’t even return until the year was already a couple of days old. And of course it took me a while to arrived back home properly, but now that I’ve got everything sorted it’s finally time for the yearly recap and outlook!

Continue reading »

Category: Bibra-Online
24. December 2017

I’d like to wish all family, friends, regular readers, commenters and all other visitors Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, A Happy New Year or any other Holiday Greetings you prefer! As you know, I prefer Happy Newtonmas because Isaac Newton was born on December 25th, but I’m very democratic in that respect and let everyone celebrate the the holiday they like.

2017 was definitively a better year for me personally than 2016, but I’ll still postpone the longer end-of-year roundup until mid-January again this time – I’m actually not at home right now but with my relatives in Berlin and haven’t even started to write anything! I’ll still post the usual daily dose of photos over on my Photography Blog especially because I already have lots and lots of stuff from Berlin coming up and I’ll probably have enough time to post even over the holidays. As usual, you can follow me over on  Google+, Twitter or Facebook to get everything from me in one place, but I’m probably going to be very slow with answering comments in the next couple of days.

Have a nice end-of-year holiday, everyone – I’ll see you all around the Internets at some point or other! :-)


Category: Bibra-Online
5. December 2017

When the first Discworld adventure game was released in 1995, the development team must already have been hard at work on a sequel, because the next installment of the series had already followed at the end of the next year. By that time I was already deeply ensconced in Discworld lore, having discovered Terry Pratchetts books through the first game. Despite the quick successive release, Discworld II was exactly the opposite of a hastily churned out sequel – quite to the contrary, it turned out to be an amazing improvement on all aspects of the original. More refined graphics with impressive hand-drawn animation, the same entertaining voice acting led by Ex-Python Eric Idle and a proper new Discworld story with familiar elements, it turned out to be another instant classic – and sadly the penultimate game of the series. In 1996, 21 years ago, the Discworld was back on the computer screens, bigger, better and funnier. Time to take a look back for the 20th anniversary, which I sadly missed last year.

Continue reading »

Category: Games
23. October 2017

Two years ago, I wrote an article about Thimbleweed Park, the Kickstarter-funded adventure game project from Lucasfilm Games legends Ron Gilbert, Gary Winnick and David Fox – and then sadly never got around to mention it again. In the meantime, the game has been successfully developed – which was extensively documented on their website – and finally released this Spring. Ironically, I was not able to play the game in its PC version because, despite its retro look, the engine has some requirements in the graphics department that made it impossible to run on my aging computers! But recently, more than half a year after the initial release, the Android port has finally been released and to my delight it runs on my tablet and phone. Time to go back to 1987, which is very appropriate since 2017 is the 30th Anniversary of Lucasfilm Games’ first point-and-click adventure Maniac Mansion!

Continue reading »

Category: Games, Lucasarts
22. October 2017

Twitch has recently become much more than just a game streaming site, but the website is very resource intensive and can be difficult to use on slower and older computers. Twitch is unfortunately not directly streamable in third-party players, but there is a workaround involving the Livestreamer tool making streaming with VLC and other players possible. Because the Livestreamer solution for Twitch requires a little bit of setup, I thought I'd write down an easy tutorial. This is primarily for Windows systems, but it should work on all systems Livestreamer and VLC are available for.

Continue reading »

Category: WWW
18. October 2017

I only rarely do product reviews, but getting a new Android device is always a good excuse. Recently, my trusty Huawei Ascend G610 smartphone broke – actually for the second time, because the first one I got in Spring 2015 bricked itself in December of that year and I had to get a warranty replacement. I still have a second identical phone as a backup, but it was finally time to look for something new and replace those ancient devices which still run Android 4.2. My main concern was finding a comparable inexpensive smartphone in the same sub-100-Euro price range, something that Huawei doesn’t seem to offer anymore. But I found a great alternative in another Chinese company which manufactures phones unter the Cubot brand with good hardware, recent Android versions and really fair prices.

Cubot has a couple of phones that are priced under 100 Euro in Europe, but I chose the Rainbow 2 because it had the best reviews and I was looking for a 5” phone with dual sim capability and a good camera – and for only 85 Euro it was almost to good to be true. There is actually another model from Cubot’s budget brand called Hafury Mix which is even slightly less expensive and basically seems to be the Rainbow 2 without the dual camera, but I only discovered this after I bought the other model. I was understandably skeptical that this phone could really deliver the goods at this low price, especially because it was a recent model and not even marked down – but I didn’t have to worry much.

Continue reading »

Category: Android