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.

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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!

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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Category: Android
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
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!

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 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 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