2016 – Annus Horribilis

For several reasons I can say that 2016 was the worst year of my life. It started with the loss of my dream job, the one I had fought so hard for and after so long obtained with immense satisfaction ( the thing had matured months before but January 2016 was the last month of work). Toward the end of the horrible year my father’s young brother, 10 years younger, passed away. I thought he would be the uncle who would remind me of my father when he would be gone, but instead… With his guitar my sister and I had started experimenting at a young age. A few months earlier I had started playing with the cover band I still belong to, and on December 30 of that year the other guitarist died suddenly. It was a bitter conclusion to a year already quite full of bad events. But it was the year I started playing guitar again and bought my current Stratocaster, a guitar I dreamed of since childhood. So I feel like making a balance of that year.

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The audiophile should never panic

Today is the shortest day, the winter solstice. Mankind has always celebrated it because from tomorrow the days slowly start getting longer again. It is almost Christmas and the year is coming to an end. It’s a time that strangely makes me want to treat myself to something related to my HiFi system, be it even just a record. I think it’s due to the imprinting of December 91, when I was out getting the amplifier and speakers of my dreams. In short, it’s a time of year that “tastes” like HiFi to me. But this year HiFi seemed at first to involve an unexpected expense because I thought my phono preamplifier had stopped working…. Continue reading  

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…