We have had some site issues

As happens all too frequently, this blog has been quiet for some time – this time, however, it wasn’t (just) due to my inactivity. Last week we had some issues with the blogging network, making it hard for us bloggers to blog. It should be fixed now, so I guess I have to find a new excuse for not blogging enough.

It has been awfully quiet around here, hasn’t it?

Sorry for the lack of content, but my offline life has been busy, so I haven’t really gotten around to posting here.

This week I have just moved back to my apartment after having stayed at some friends’ place since early January. This was due to some remodeling of my apartment (a new bathroom was build, and my toilet and my kitchen was pretty much completely replaced).

During March, I did go traveling to Lisbon in Portugal for a couple of weeks. A lovely city, and well worth visiting. There are a few pictures from my trip there on my Instagram. My Instagram account mostly contains pictures from my travels and from events I go to (very few selfies and no pictures of friends as a general rule), so it makes my life seem more glamorous than it probably is.

The technologies of days past and days future

PZ has made a post about a video about Zebrafish development, which originally came out on VHS. He made a throwaway comment “If you don’t know what that is, ask your grandparents”, which got me to think about VHS tapes, and what technologies similar to those, that I have seen the rise and fall of in my lifetime.

Off-hand I can think of:

Video-media

  • Betamax
  • VHS
  • DVD (to some degree)
  • Laserdisk
  • HD-DVD

Audio-media

  • Tape (well, didn’t see the rise, just the fall)
  • Compact Discs/CDs (to some degree)
  • MiniDisk (very limited rise)
  • Digital Compact Cassette/DCC (very limited rise)
  • Digital Audio Tape/DAT (very limited rise)

LPs could probably be included in this list, though I didn’t experience their rise, and the final part of their decline seems to be stretching out.

Storage media

  • 5¼-inch Floppy Disk (well, didn’t see the rise, just the fall)
  • 3½-inch Floppy Disk
  • CD-ROM
  • CD-RW
  • DLT (very limited rise)
  • Zip drive (very limited rise)
  • DVD (as a computer media)
  • DVD-RW

Picture types

  • Slides
  • Polaroids (which has made a comeback)
  • Disposable cameras (their niche was pretty much killed by the cameras in phones)

I could continue, mentioning things like different computer types (C64, Amiga etc.), technologies (cordless phones, anyone?), file formats (remember when BMP was king?) and so on.

These lists indicate how much things have changed since in my lifetime, but they only show part of the picture. What they don’t show is how widespread many technologies have become compared to the past. Yes, I did come across 5¼-inch Floppy Disks, but they were hardly a normal household item, like e.g. USB sticks are these days.

Those of us who were born in the seventies and eighties have experienced some major changes, most notable the world wide web and the mobile phone, which has been incredible game changers, for better and worse. When I graduated high school in 1993, it was hard to imagine how the world would look 25 years later, and a lot of the work avaliable now, couldn’t be imagined back then (and a lot of the secure work back then, has since become redundant).

This is something I think is important to remember.

I think most of us groan when we see yet another article complaining about the Millennials, but it is worth remembering that these are usually written by people who haven’t kept up with the development – usually because they don’t have to, since they are secure in their debt-free houses and jobs. If their jobs suddenly becomes threatened, they are quick to blame others (e.g. Millennials, immigrants, robots), rather than facing the possibility that they have become obsolete, much like the many of the media types I mention above.

So, where am I going with this? Well, basically, I am trying to say that it is fun to try to look back and see what you have experienced, and what has changed in your lifetime, but I think it is more important to look forward, and try to keep up, and develop, along side with the technology. The type setters became obsolete, because their function were taken over by the computers – this was not something that was generally considered a possibility, until it suddenly happened (the speed was helped along by the behavior of the type setters, who by all accords were quite difficult to work with for everyone else).

In other words, it might be worth looking around at the technology you are dependent on today, and try to figure out what alternatives there are in the future, and see if you can start preparing for either the change (e.g. reading up on the new technology), or for moving elsewhere in your career (get qualifications needed for new positions). It is not easy, but unfortunately, most of us are not in positions where we have much of a choice.

New Year resolutions

Since this is the first day of the new year, it seems like an appropriate time to post my New Year resolutions – if nothing else, then because I can look at the post, and see how well I am doing.

Blog more on this blog – I would like to get into a habit of blogging more. I’d like a couple of substantial posts, and maybe a couple of filler posts, per week (on average).

Blog more on my other blog – I have a IT-related blog (Ending error-driven development), which I also want to become more active. If nothing else, I have ideas for 4-5 posts, which I think I ought to write in the next few months.

Read more books – In the pre-internet days, I used to be a book-a-day reader. Since the internet has come along, my online reading has cut into my book reading to a point where I don’t even read a book per week. I want to change this, so I read at least one book per week, and at least one non-fiction book per month.

Speak up for feminism – It is hardly a secret that women that blog and write about feminism are heavily targeted by harassment and treats. For this reason, it is important that pro-feminist men speak out, supporting these women, and help spread feminism. As part of this resolution, I also want to talk more about the (sorry) state of feminism in Denmark.

Speak out against bigotry – The successes of Brexit and Trump has shown that bigotry is alive and well in these days. Those victories have embolden the bigots, which means that those of us who fights bigotry have to stand up and be counting.

Eat more healthy –  I think this one speaks for itself.

Go to more events – I am lucky enough to live in a city where a lot of stuff is going on, and where you can go events of all types just about every day of the week. This year, I will attempt to make better use of this, and go to more events, both work-related and otherwise.

See friends more – Last year I traveled a lot and spent a lot of time moving apartments, so I didn’t get to see my friends and acquaintances as much as I would have liked. This year, I will prioritize this.

The Year 2016 – a review

In just over 5 hours, it is midnight here in Denmark, and the year 2016 will be at an end.

With the end of 2016 comes the end of a great year on the personal level, but a horrible year on the broader scale.

It was a great year for me personally, as I bought a new apartment in a part of Copenhagen that I really wanted to live in. I have lived in the apartment for half a year, and even though it still needs some renovations (a bathroom where I can move around in the shower), it has been great living here.

On top of that, it has been a good year for traveling – I started the year in Australia, and have since then been to:

  • Berlin, Germany (twice)
  • Dublin, Ireland
  • Ghent, Belgium (first time there)
  • Venice, Italy
  • Tokyo, Japan (first time there)
  • Malaga/Marbella, Spain (work conference)
  • Chicago, USA
  • Springfield, Mo (for Skepticon)
  • Orlando, Florida (work conference)
  • Florence, Italy (first visit in 30 years)

As someone who loves traveling, experiencing new food, and looking at great art, this has obviously been very enjoyable.

Work-wise, there have been some disappointments, but I still love what I do and love the people I work together with, so there is no real reasons to complain.

On the down side, moving apartments combined with all the traveling, means I have had less time to do stuff in Denmark as I’d have liked. It means I haven’t seen my friends as much as I’d have liked, and that I have had to miss out on some of the Copenhagen Skeptics in the Pub sessions.

But on balance, my year has been a pretty good one on the personal level.

On a more general level, however, the year has been horrible – and here I am not talking about the list of great people who have died this year. Rather, I am talking about the political climate in Denmark and in the rest of the world.

In Denmark, a right-winged single-party government has been in power from mid-2015. This government was dependent on the support of libertarian and far-right, xenophobic parties in the Danish parliament, and thus were busy pandering to those parties (reducing taxes and trying to block refugees and immigrants). A few months ago, the government changed, and included two more parties, including the libertarian party (also a conservative party), making the agenda of the libertarians a part of the government platform.

At the same time, the Danish Social-democratic party seems to try to win votes from the far-right, xenophobic party, by becoming more and more anti-immigrant and xenophobic, which means that even if there is a change in government, it is highly unlikely that the current policies will be rolled back.

Looking more broadly, there is of course Brexit, in which an anti-EU xenophobic block managed to convince enough voters in the UK to vote to leave the EU for the referendum to result in a leave vote. This was done through lying and fear-mongering, and should have had no place in a referendum in a modern democracy, but apparently it did, with disastrous results, in my opinion. My opinion seems to be shared by many people in the UK, including many of those who voted for leaving, so one could hope that a better solution is found in the end.

If the UK (perhaps minus Scotland) leaves the EU, I think the EU has no choice to treat them fairly harshly in the upcoming negotiations, showing that leaving the EU has consequences.

And then there is the US election. What a clusterfuck that was. There were two candidates, one of which was eminently qualified and the other who was unqualified on every level one could think off. Yet, a large portion of the voters took a look at those candidates, and decided to vote for the unqualified one. Due to the setup of the US voting system, this portion was large enough to ensure that that candidate won.

So, Trump is the upcoming US President.

In the time since the election, he has done nothing but create one international crisis after the other, often by the simple act of using Twitter. Well, when I say “nothing”, I obviously don’t mean that – he has also been busy appointing the most unqualified cabinet one could possible imagine; if you can think of someone who would be completely unqualified for a cabinet position, it is highly likely that Trump wants to appoint that person for that position!

Given the fact that the GOP is in complete control of the houses, it also means that the GOP can more or less implement all their policies at will.

The policies that both Trump, and many of the GOP members went to election on, includes things like getting rid of Obamacare, deporting undocumented immigrants, rolling back LGBT rights, reducing taxes for the rich, and creating a register of all Muslims in the US.

In other words, the Trump presidency is going to be horrible for marginalized people of all types.

And here I haven’t even gotten into Trump’s fascist tendencies and the mutual support between him and Putin, which might cause serious problems in Ukraine, the Baltic countries and other former Soviet countries.

So, all in all, 2016 has been a pretty bad year, and will spill over into the years to come.

Birds in nerdery

I love it when someone who is nerdy in one area, applies their nerdiness to more mainstream nerdery.

A good example of this, is this article by Peter Cashwell

Why that American Robin Cameo in ‘The Hobbit’ Wasn’t an Error

In this article, Peter Cashwell argues that it is fully acceptable that an American Robin appeared in The Hobbit movies, since it is a fantasy setting, which isn’t meant to mirror Earth exactly. I have known Peter Cashwell online for close to 2 decades, and his nerd credentials regarding mainstream nerdery (comics, sci-fi etc.) can’t be disputed. When it comes to birds, he has written the brilliant The Verb: To Bird about birding.

Speaking of birds, and popular culture, Peter Cashwell’s article for some reason made me think of this piece of brilliance:

Estimating the Airspeed Velocity of an Unladen Swallow by Jonathan Corum

Here Jonathan Corum answers the ancient question, what is the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow?

Music with a message

I think this band is trying to tell us something

For the record: I quite like black metal, but I found this video/song funny, and thought I’d share.

Calling their bluff

I am spending some of my Sunday working, and as a treat to myself, I’ve bought myself some chocolate frogs.

Chocolate frogs in bags Chocolate frogs on plate

I think we all know to avoid colorful frogs, so these are clearly signaling to me that they are dangerous. I think it is a bluff though, and will not fall for it!