Poor Joe was right…

When I was young there were “pen pals,” remember? People wrote to each other without perhaps ever meeting, and they were usually foreigners with whom we practiced a language other than our own. Maybe it was the school that put you in touch. Actually at that time I never did, I didn’t have pen pals of my own. Today with internet forums it’s all different but certainly it’s easier to meet people with similar interests with whom you interface only textually and maybe even end up meeting one day. That’s how a few years ago I made friends with an Italian-American from New York whom I met on a famous high-fidelity forum.

 

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Why Linux

Why in the present day would an ordinary computer user decide to switch to Linux as his or her operating system instead of keeping the very popular ready-to-use MS Windows or the fabulous Mac OSX in case they are buying an Apple Macintosh?

I myself have always wanted a Mac as a computer, but forced in the early 1990s to settle for a compatible PC of half the cost, I had to face a number of difficulties due to having to learn how to use a system like the old MS-DOS without any graphical interface. At that time it was normal to start out that way if you wanted to use a computer. Apple had always aimed to create computers that could be used by both grandma and granddaughter. Graphical interfaces made computers more easily accessible to anyone. I loved Macs because of that, but still I was fascinated by the command line. Today it has become unknown to most, but it is actually more powerful (some things you just can’t do with mouse and windows). Linux itself has great GUIs to choose from. But why should we shoulder the burden of having to replace our PC’s operating system by choice and learn a new one? Probably precisely because the PC is our own….

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Linux is hard…

Someone said “free software is hard because freedom is hard.” But is it really hard?

The first thing to keep in mind is that whatever computer we buy comes with an operating system, Microsoft Windows if it is a PC, Mac OSX if it is an Apple Macintosh. Computers that have Linux preinstalled are very rare, but they do exist and can be purchased.

But usually this means that “switching to Linux” requires the extra work of installing a different operating system. Normally we are not used to installing the operating system on the computers we buy, it is already there, it asks us some information to configure it, and off we go, using the computer. Also take note that today this first configuration invariably asks for personal information and to create, if you don’t have already one, a Microsoft or Apple account. And we should be thinking here already…

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Why are there continent-sized ‘blobs’ in the deep Earth?

In a strange corner of our solar system live two alien blobs.

With sprawling, amorphous bodies the size of continents, these oddities are thought to spend their time lying in wait for their food to rain down upon them – then simply absorbing it.

But their natural habitat is, if anything, even more unusual than their diet. It could be described as “rocky” – all around, there are exotic minerals in unknown shades and forms. Otherwise it’s fairly barren, except for a glittering sea in the far distance – one so large, it holds as much water as all of Earth’s oceans put together.

Every day the “weather” is the same: a balmy 1827°C (3321°F), with some areas of high pressure – equivalent to around 1.3 million times the amount at the Earth’s surface. In this crushing environment, atoms become warped and even the most familiar materials start to behave in eccentric ways – rock is flexible like plastic, while oxygen acts like a metal.

But this blistering wonderland is no extra-terrestrial planet – and the blobs aren’t strictly wildlife. It is, in fact, the Earth itself – just very, very deep underground.

Continue reading on BBC Future…

Superlinux is back!

The year 2022 was the year of my return to Linux and to free and open source software. Since 2007, I had become a Macintosh user and had therefore abandoned any vague desire to use free software. I was tired of fighting windmills and let go of the convenience of a ready-to-use system closed to outside intervention. Just think, they used to call me Superlinux. But a lot has happened in the meantime. I lost my job as a geologist and after some time my computer skills allowed me to recycle myself in that field. I began to think back to the now distant interest and fascination with programming since I had started writing simple codes for work. The memory of the command line occasionally made me think back to Linux. How might it have changed after so many years? But in all these years the intrusiveness in our lives by big Internet companies had increased out of all proportion. When I really came to terms with this inescapable fact, a certain part of me awakened….

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Well done, Grado!

I’ve been a little indecisive lately about using cartridges on my Thorens TD-160 turntable. I’m fond of the Grado brand because I really like the idea that in today’s USA there is a family-owned company making cartridges and headphones by hand in an old Brooklyn workshop using even old machines that were born for watchmaking. But with the Grados I had big problems. Not because of them (no Grado dance, Grado hum or… “deGraded” performance in the innermost part of the records). The fault is entirely mine. I was extremely clumsy in replacing stylii. I ruined three of them. A very precious 8MZ (I’m still in mourning), a Gold1 and a Black2. All while I was in economic conditions that did not allow me to spend money on Hifi.

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