Science & Astronomy
12. August 2017

I almost forgot to post the annual Perseid Meteor Shower article this year, because the curse has indeed struck with all force – it has been raining non stop here since Thursday and the chance of actually seeing a Perseid meteor around here are somewhere around zero. The Perseids will peak on August 12 as usual, so the night from the 12th to the 13th will probably be the best chance to look for meteors, but generally the few days around the peak date are usually good too.

Unfortunately we haven’t been able to see the sky at all in the last couple of days, so I hope that everyone else has a bit more luck. I was really hoping to try catching one with my new cameras – last year I haven’t had the time to do that and the photo I’ve been using on this post is from 2008, so I thought I deserve some luck this year. It does not look good tonight, though…

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.

Category: Science & Astronomy
DVDLog
25. May 2017

It’s Towel Day again today, the annual celebration of all things Douglas Adams and Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy! This year, I don’t have anything new, but over on DVDLog there are still the long and comprehensive reviews of both the 1981 television series and the 2005 movie which I had updated and translated into English a while ago.

Something which I’ve always neglected to mention before is the devilishly difficult Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Infocom Adventure, which is available online from the BBC. It’s one of the most frustrating and difficult text adventures out there, partly because of its convoluted development history. This has been extensively chronicled by Jimmy ‘The Digital Antiquarian‘ Maher in his 2013 article – he has also written a great post about Douglas Adams himself.

Meanwhile, the radio broadcast of the Hitchhiker’s Guide Live Show from 2014 has unfortunately disappeared from Youtube and has apparently never been commercially released anywhere, so all that’s left is a trailer. But the Hitchhiker’s Guide on Radio does have a future – I only found out recently that the BBC has commissioned a sixth radio series which still seems to be in the planning stage, but will reportedly be based on Eoin Colfer’s sequel And Another Thing… and feature the original actors. I haven’t heard anything recent about it, but with Dirk Maggs involved, this will be amazing.

There’s also my old Youtube Playlist with some great Douglas Adams treasures, but now it’s unfortunately missing the rare South Bank Show documentary, which has sadly been deleted for a copyright claim – fortunately, there’s still another upload on Dailymotion available! I had  originally seen this in a dubbed version sometime in the early 1990s on German television. And of course, you can actually find the television and radio series themselves somewhere on Youtube if you search for them, but I’m not linking to them because the Youtube uploads have actually a really degraded image quality compared to the DVD and, of course, because of copyright reasons. Buy the DVD, it’s awesome! And it’s not like it still costs 30 bucks like it did twelve years ago.

Happy Towel Day, everyone!

Bibra-OnlineDVDLogFoto
16. April 2017

I hadn’t planned on a special Easter post this year, but this one has been lying around for a while, so I’d just like to say Happy Easter to everyone with this little update. Althought there might not be happening too much right here at the moment, I’m still posting photos daily over on the Photograpghy Blog and I’m posting some spacey news regularly over on Google+ too, so I’m definitively not out of the loop. But now on to the news…

A couple of weeks ago, I finally moved the blog to the new Bibra.eu domain, something I wanted to do since sometime last year, but I never got around to it. This actually involved creating a complete copy of the site and putting a redirector in place of the old address, so I wouldn’t have to change every graphics url and all files are still in both locations – luckily, I have plenty enough webspace for that. On the surface, the address switch changes nothing because all old urls are still valid and will be simply redirected to the new domain if they’re visited, so there will be hopefully no dead links. The other two websites, DVDLog and my Photography Blog are not affected by this and still remain at their current addresses.

The other change under the hood is a slightly optimized and updated template, which actually looks mostly the same, but has some rewritten and improved CSS code. It also has an experimental mobile template, which kicks in when you open the website on a tablet or phone in portrait orientation – this is extremely beta, if not alpha, because the re-jiggered menu is still not functional and there’s currently no way to call up more menu items or the sidebar. I’m still figuring out how to implement a popup or slide-out menu for touch displays, which isn’t all that easy because the CSS hover property doesn’t work on touch devices and I’m not good enough with Javascript to write something from scratch. But I’ll figure it out and in the meantime I’ll think of an in-between solution soon.

Another feature I’ve recently added is SSL encryption for all my sites – I discovered that my provider All-Inkl.com has added easy support for Let’s Encrypt certificates a while ago and of course I took advantage of that. This is mostly a way for myself to encrypt the WordPress backend, but all three websites are available with SSL encryption now. Although keep in mind that parts of the sites, especially some of the graphics, will still be loaded over unencrypted connections, so this is only a half-secure solution from a visitor’s perspective and I’m aware that Let’s Encrypt certificates aren’t really worth that much. For that reason, I haven’t made the SSL encryption mandantory, but you can put a https:// in front of my websites and they will be fully working.

That’s all for now – as usual, everything here is more or less constantly under construction and if something is broken, please don’t hesitate to tell me here in the comments.

Category: Bibra-Online, DVDLog, Foto
Bibra-OnlineComputerWWW
7. March 2017

I finally did it – I got my Internet line upgraded! For the last eight-ish years, I’ve been on a DSL-6000, which meant about 6 mbit/s downstream and only about 0.5 mbit/s upstream. That was not really an issue years ago when there were no video chats or huge files to upload, but nowadays, such a slow upstream really becomes a terrible bottleneck as file sizes increase and bandwidth for live video is necessary. In addition to that, my internet provider, the German Telekom, had been bugging me to upgrade from the old ADSL and the analogue phone line to VDSL and VoIP telephony, so I finally decided to take the plunge and make the change – even though the last upgrade eight years ago resulted in a two week outage and an odyssey through the call centers. But I’m happy to report that nothing blew up and for the last two weeks I’ve been finally enjoying really fast internet.

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Google+
10. February 2017

Now that the old Google+ user interface has been permanently switched off, everything revolving about photography has changed on Google’s social network – but not from one moment to the other. Ever since Google Photos was introduced, it was evident that the photography and image organizing features of Google+ were going to be moved to the new service – which is not a bad thing at all. It may be a very subjective view, but I’ve always found the image organizing features in the old Google+ clunky, slow and sometimes borderline unuseable, so after some initial misgivings I’ve been using Google Photos ever since it was introduced back in Summer 2015. So, in the danger of this blog becoming too much Google infested, here are some observations and tips about the new relationship between G+ and Google Photos.

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Category: Google+
Google+
18. January 2017

Back in November 2015, Google had announced a new user interface for its social network Google+ and there was a lot of justified criticism about this new version that had been introduced in parallel to the familiar look that had been in place since Spring 2013. Yesterday, about fourteen months later, Google announced that the transition period is going to end and the ‘Classic’ interface will be permanently switched off on January 24, next Tuesday. While I expect there will be a fair amount of wailing and gnashing of teeth, Google has actually done everything right this time. Almost four years ago, the first user interface change was thrown at the users practically without warning, but this time, Google has made sure that the over a year long transition was also accompanied by listening to feedback and actually making the improvements the users really want. At first, the new user interface was a bit of a mess, but now, especially after yesterday’s announcements, it has finally become fully useable, although some things have indeed changed.

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Category: Google+
Bibra-Online
16. January 2017

So, the first two weeks of the new year are almost now over and maybe it’s time to get going here again – but with what? I have to admit that I made absolutely no preparations for a new year’s posting at all and I’m really not in the mood for a look back at the dreadful last year that saw me losing my mother and almost my home. So I’m just going to wing it and pick the few best bits of 2016 and how they’re going to continue in the new year. Of course, after I finished this introduction and wrote the actual article, it did turn out to be the typical recap I post every year, but with more of an outlook to the near future. So, let’s have a look at what 2017 has in store, because this year can only get better than the last!

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Category: Bibra-Online
Bibra-Online
24. December 2016

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.

There’s not really much positive to say about 2016 from my personal perspective and so I’ll postpone the traditional end-of-year roundup to either between the holidays or early next year. I haven’t really decided if I’m going to take a break posting over in the Photography Blog, but I probably will share the usual round of photos all through the holidays. There’s still lots to post and as usual you can also follow me on Google+, Twitter or Facebook to get everything from me in one place, although answering comments and other writing might be a bit light over the next couple of days. But next year I’ll try to get everything rolling again properly around here!

Also, thank you to everyone – you know who you are – who kept me sane in the last half year. I really wouldn’t have made it without you!

MERRY NEWTONMAS AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Category: Bibra-Online
Science & Astronomy
13. December 2016

When the Curiosity Rover arrived on Mars in 2012, I had put together a collection of useful links about the Mars missions, but I hadn’t updated it in a long time Recently, I got some questions about Mars on Google+ after posting one of the raw images from Curiosity and I think it’s time now for a revised edition of the link list so everyone can stay updated on their own. I originally started the list as a way provide all the information without having to write constantly about the Mars missions myself, something which others are doing much better. Nowadays I share all the space news on Google+ and specifically my Space and Astronomy Collection in addition to the WSH Crew Community. This is a completely redone edition of the link list, this time not only including NASA sites, but also the Mars missions from other agencies.

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Science & Astronomy
9. November 2016

It’s November 9 again and that means it’s time to almost forget about Carl Sagan Day like almost every year and get reminded by someone on the internet about it. Carl Sagan’s birthday should be celebrated especially on a day like this that will probably go down in history for something entirely else, which unfortunately also has before with quite a few negative historic connections here in Germany. Today it feels like we need to be reminded of something more positive and encouraging, so Sagan’s Pale Blue Dot seems to be entirely appropriate to read and listen to right now.

Sagan, who sadly passed away in 1996, has become more popular than ever since two years ago, when his seminal 1980 science blockbuster documentary Cosmos was re-imagined as Cosmos – A Spacetime Odyssey with Neil deGrasse Tyson, but with himself still very much part of it in spirit. Demystifiying science and invoking a sense of wonder that seems to be all but lost nowadays are still the most important goals every scientist, educator, teacher and everyone interested in science should have. This may be be even more important in the coming years in an increasingly science-unfriendly environment – sharing your own enthusiasm in all things science even if you’re not a scientist yourself is the best thing you can do. And that’s what I’m going to continue doing, too – we don’t need to turn everyone into a scientist, but spreading general scientific knowledge in the face of ignorance is more important than ever now.

This is the most political I’m ever going to get here, because one of my rules is not to write about politics on the web. I’m here for other things, but if science and politics intersect, exceptions are sometimes necessary.

Category: Science & Astronomy