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Venus transit 2012


On Wednesday June 6th, an exceptional astronomical event will take place. As seen from Earth, the planet Venus will pass in a straight line between Earth and the Sun. As a result of that, an observer on Earth can see the planet Venus 'transiting' the Sun disk. When you are looking at the Sun using special equipment (*never* look without any protection straight to the sun !), you can see a black circle slowly passing over the Sun.

The last time this event took place, was 8 years ago. However, it will take another 100 years, on 2117 Dec 11th and 2125 Dec 08th, for anyone to be able to observe this transit again.

For observers in Belgium, only the last part of the 7 hours during spectacle will be visible in the morning of June 6th, and this from 5:21 (sun rise) up till 6:55, when the planet's silhouette will leave the sun's disk. This event is an ideal opportunity to have a look at this through professional equipment, several observatories will be open to the public to give you an opportunity to look at the Venus transit.

Perl advent calendar 2011


Dark days and the smell of rotting pumpkins ? It's that time of the year again : here's the Perl Advent calendar 2011 !

Port Charlotte, An Turas Mor


Anyone familiar with the typical shape of a Bruichladdich bottle, knows that Port Charlotte is a product of the same distillery. 'An Turas Mor' means 'The Great Journey', and should be comparable with the Peat version of Bruichladdich, although slightly less peated. Sounds promising, not ? So cut the talking, and let's dive in, shall we ?

Color : Gold
Nose : *lots* of smoke and a hint of fruit & the sea. Hmm, surprisingly unpromising, and quite one-dimensional.
Taste : Fruity at first, nicely balanced sweetness, and then the peated smoke army rolls in. Still quite balanced. A hint even of wine, and more fruit in the aftertaste, maybe pear ? I expected pepper, and saltiness, but these stay absent. Much better than the smell promised.

What is there to say ? Clearly again a great whisky from Bruichladdich, only if the smell was a bit more interesting, this would be a winner ! Anyway, if you're into Islay stuff, be sure to check this one out !



I noticed that the upgrade for Oneiric was available, so I decided to jump in & upgrade my Ubuntu machines. It has become the habit that I encounter all weird stuff & errors during such upgrades, but that's something specific to me, it seems ;)

On my desktop, I returned to the installation program 2 hours later after I started it, only to find a black screen with a mouse pointer. No possibility to restore the screen, so I had no other choice than to kill X, and resort to command-line mockery. I've learned by previous experience that rebooting the machine or restarting X at this point lead to major mayhem on my desktop, so I entered 'dpkg-reconfigure -a' to complete the setup, which it actually did, to my big surprise.

Since Natty, there has been much turmoil on the internetz about something Canonical enforced to the enduser, called Unity. I have skipped this enforced desktop in the past by reverting to the Gnome legacy mode, but it seemed that this was completely foobarred in the current Gnome3 in Oneiric. So what has a man to do in a completely changed environment ? Adapt. I decided actually to try out Unity, and lo and behold, it was actually quite usable. Unfortunately, Unity does not support gnome applets, but I resolved this by running Conky, which adds extra panache to the desktop experience.

There are off course still quirks in Unity. Mocking around with the Compizconfig settings can ruin your desktop experience, although not so disastrous as in Natty. On my netbook, Unity refused to start up, leaving me only with a empty wallpaper. I resolved this by setting the LIBGL_ALWAYS_INDIRECT=1 envvar in my .bashrc.

We'll see how this Gnome3/Unity combination goes. If it really turns out to be an atrocity, there's always KDE or XFCE to revert too...

HTC Desire

Mobile phones

My Nokia N97 phone is now 2 years old, and although the device got slaughtered in most user reviews, I must say I was fairly content with it. The problem with the device is that the experience got ruined by its software, Symbian S60v5, and its successor Symbian^2. Both were too 'heavy' for the N97 CPU, resulting in a slow operating of the device. But what's really drove me to buying a new handset, was the fact that the GPS took ages to activate (unless you enabled A-GPS), and the fact that the automated backups 'just stopped working'.

And then there's OVI suite. Please don't remind me of OVI Suite with its Nokia Software updater.

Nokia clearly has no clue what to do on the smartphone market, as indicated by the fact that the Meego-powered N9 is only available in some countries. The only one who is not aware that Symbian is dead, seems to be Nokia. And then there's the Microsoft deal.

Reasons enough to switch over to the Android camp. I was first thinking of getting the Wildfire S, but then I noticed that the Desire was equally priced. I must say I miss the N97's hardware keyboard, but all in all the Desire is a great device. Sleek, performant, and equipped with a great touch screen.


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