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.
Continue reading »
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.
Continue reading »
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.
Continue reading »
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!
Continue reading »
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!
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.
Continue reading »
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.
Google had already rolled out the first test version of the new Google+ design last November, but at the end of August they finally made the makeover the default view. While the old “classic” interface has not been completely switched off yet, its days are now definitively numbered and it’s now time to get acquainted with the new Google+. I’ve actually been using it since last winter and after a couple of weeks, I never switched back to the old version because missing or faulty features had been quickly re-instated or fixed and Google has made a lot of improvements to the new Google+ ever since. There have been a lot of unwarranted complaints recently because of the change, but most can be boiled down to a simple fear of change, which is understandable – but the new Google+ is much easier to use and the restructuring has overall been very beneficial to the social network.
Continue reading »
It’s that time of year again – the Perseid Meteor Shower lottery is upon us! Will we see some meteors, or a LOT of meteors? Or will the curse strike us again? Everybody is talking about how great the meteor shower will be this year, but I’m very much in doubt that we will actually get to see them. 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 this year it looks like we won’t be able to see any meteors due to the absolutely abysmal weather we are having here in Germany at the moment – it’s not only raining buckets, but also very cold, so I’m afraid I’ll have to give the Perseids a miss this year. The only time I ever caught a Perseid meteor was in 2008 – I’ve been using that particular photo for all my Perseid posts.
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.
I’m sorry that I haven’t had much time for this blog lately – the reasons are in the previous post and while I’m slowly recovering, I have been very busy. Nevertheless, I have actually been somewhat active on the web elsewhere – I’m still posting daily on my Photography Blog and the WSH Crew Community Web Portal is also being updated regularly.
What I had to give up, though, is the weekly Space & Science News Roundup – it’s a lot of effort and I was thinking about retiring it anyway for some time. It was mainly a way to collect links for those who are not following my Google+ Space & Astronomy Collection or the WSH Crew Community because I unfortunately don’t have the time to crosspost to Facebook and Twitter at the same time. The Weekly Space Hangout, Astronomy Cast and Learning Space are also on summer break until early September, but if you want to stay up to date, you can also gather the news yourself from the same websites we like to visit.
Instead of a weekly posting, here is a list of space news sites, blogs and some of my Twitter lists for easy do-it-yourself news reading. I recommend using Feedly as a RSS reader for the websites – it is as easy to use as the old Google Reader and is supported by many apps on different platforms.
Continue reading »