11. March 2021

I haven’t had much energy or time to write here lately and I apologize in advance because I’m only writing about Corona… which happened because 2020 has really managed to take the fun out of almost everything and 2021 has continued the same way. After a relatively hopeful summer and early autumn the situation had turned so bad that two weeks before Christmas Germany was staring into the face of a complete lockdown again – which is still going on right now three months lare. All because people are idiots and politicians are too corrupt and squabble too much to make rational decisions.

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Category: Blog
24. December 2020

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 usual, 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.

2020 was… crazy beyond belief, and that’s perhaps still an understatement. How to describe it? The year started quiet and nice in January, began to get strange in February and in March literally all hell broke loose! I don’t think anyone had the Corona Virus on their 2020 bingo cards, but that’s what’s been dominating this year all the way non-stop. Back in February, which now seems like a lifetime ago, everyone was still joking about that new virus, but then it all became quite literally deadly serious – and now we’re back in the second ‘hard’ lockdown right in time for the Christmas season!

The strangest thing is that for myself 2020 turned out quite well, with a good new job that came around despite the pandemic and everyone in my family still healthy. I even made it safely and carefully to Berlin over the holidays – we’ve taken every precaution and the train ride was not even remotely crowded, so there was no chance of cross-infection from Mülheim to Berlin. Of course the weather is rainy and grey instead of snowy and bright so there’s no reason to go out, but I’m sure I’ll e able to do at least a little photography around here soon. Maybe I’ll even get around to write something for this blog as well, who knows?

But as always, I’m still posting my usual round of daily photos over on my Photography Blog and you can also follow me on TwitterFacebook and of course Instagram abd I’m also still crossposting my usual things on MeWe these days.

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

MERRY NEWTONMAS AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Category: Blog
1. August 2020

I’ve had a few questions what happened to me after I wrote the previous post from April 15 and the answer is – I was just too busy for a followup! After over a Month of almost complete lockdown, Germany has allowed to open smaller and now bigger stores and businesses to open again and most restrictions have been lifted – save for wearing masks and keeping a distance of two meters. Sadly even those comparatively mild restrictions seem to be too much for the majority of people, because now the Corona cases are rising again after three Months of falling.

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Category: Blog
Personal
15. April 2020

There’s an old curse that goes ‘May you live in Interesting Times’ and it seems this curse has struck the world with full force. It has certainly been very interesting in the last couple of weeks with the Coronavirus Pandemic. Originally, I wanted to put up a little Happy Easter post, but it somehow didn’t seem appropriate anymore considering the world has been completely upside down now. Since I haven’t written much here for a while, maybe it’s time to start again and talk about what’s been going lately and what we can do about it.

From joking about that strange new virus in February leading into an almost complete shutdown of public life only weeks later, the developments have been frighteningly fast and it still feels like a badly written b-movie. You can’t help but laugh at the almost absurd situation, even though hundreds of thousands of people have died and millions are seriously ill. Not being able to do some of the most basic things in life is strange to a point where it feels crazy. After over a month of all this strangeness people are getting understandably nervous, or in quite a few cases just completely bonkers.

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Category: Blog, Personal
24. December 2019

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 usual, 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.

Once again, 2019 turned out to be pretty crazy and full of highs and lows, but I really should not complain too much. As usual, I was really busy with a lot of things and didn’t really have time or energy to write much here on this blog, but perhaps that may change soon, even though I say that every year and evidently can’t really keep my own promises. I’ll skip the end-of-year roundup again, because there is just nothing much to report right now except the unfortunate demise of Google+ earlier this year – which actually put a dampener on my enthusiasm and partly caused the silence here.

Like the last two years, I’m not actually home right now but with my family in Berlin – this year’s christmas tree photo was taken the day before I left – and I’m still posting my usual round of daily photos over on my Photography Blog. As always, you can also follow me on TwitterFacebook and of course Instagram abd I’m also crossposting my usual things on MeWe nowadays.

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

MERRY NEWTONMAS AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Category: Blog
Google+Social Media
28. March 2019

It all came faster than expected – today is the last day I chose to stop posting regularly on Google+ before the so-called Sunsetting that will start next Tuesday on April 2. My first post on Google+ was sometime in September 2012 and that means I’ve posted there almost daily for more than six and a half years. I met a lot of wonderful people from all over the world there, some of them I even got to meet in real life. I’ve posted thousands, maybe ten thousands of photos and many other articles. Thankfully, almost none of those will be completely gone when Google+ is being wiped off the face of the internet in a couple of days because I mostly posted in parallel to my own website!

Together with only a few hundred other users I was invited into the Google+ Create program and in the high times some of my photos and other posts were so popular that they got thousands of Plusses, as the Likes were called on Google+. It was a great time and even though Google+ had slowed down somewhat since then, it was still the social network of choice for many people who were dissatisfied with all the other ones. It was heaven for photographers, technically superior and vastly more user-friendly than the competition and perhaps we won’t see anything like this ever again. For this reason and the great people who kept Google+ alive all those years it’s a huge disappointment that Google decided to give up on its social network that was so far ahead of the rest of the pack.

Back when the end of Google+ was announced, I was really, really angry. Over the last few months, I saw Google+ decline more and more as most people left for other places and now I’m just sad that everything will cease to exist next Tuesday. But it won’t be like it never happened – Google+ has changed the landscape of social media for the better and now there are newcomers like Pluspora and Mewe around. Especially the latter looks very promising because the people behind the scenes are actively taking care of us Google+ refugees and even provide a tool for importing Google+ data.

But I’m still not putting all my eggs into one basket, though – my resolution to not post anything to a social network I don’t also have on my own websites has proven to be very valuable after what happened to Google+ and I will continue to archive everything on my own. But that doesn’t mean I will stop posting to other social networks, quite the contrary – I will still be on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, MeWe and (occasionally) Youtube. And I hope I will see everyone on some of those platforms again!

But for now it’s… Goodbye Google+, you were the best social networks of them all!

Category: Google+, Social Media
24. December 2018

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 usual, 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.

2018 was one crazy year full of highs and lows for me, but overall a huge improvement over the last couple of years, more than I could ever have expected! But it has also been extraordinarily busy and I haven’t really had as much time to work on the websites as I wanted, even though the creative energy was there. There might not even be an end-of-year roundup because there’s not that much to talk about, but perhaps I’ll get around to do it when I get back home.

Like last year, I’m not actually home right now but with my family in Berlin – and that means the only fresh content from me will be my photos over on the Photography Blog, where I’m still posting every day. As always, you can also follow me on Google+ (until April at least), TwitterFacebook and Instagram to get everything from me in one place.

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

MERRY NEWTONMAS AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Category: Blog
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.  [Update December 10: It gets even worse. Today Google has announced in another blog post that Google+ will be shut down in April next year, not in August because another security bug has been found…]

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.

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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.

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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!