Quitting Facebook…

… yet again.

I recently deleted my Facebook account again, although for completely different reasons this time. Here’s what I posted to my friends:

That’s all, folks…

(If you don’t feel like reading through this whole explanation but still want to stay in touch, feel free to skip to the bottom 😉)

Those of you who know me and have been friends on Facebook with me before are probably going to have a good laugh at this, but I’m quitting. Yeah, I know, I’ve been there, and it didn’t last forever the last time, either, but this time my reasons are entirely different. Last time, in 2011, it was because of the company and its disregards for its income generating user base. When I got back on in June I thought, oh what the hell. Not that I totally changed my mind about that, but I didn’t take it quite as serious anymore (which is why I’m actually going to keep WhatsApp this time, although I originally dumped it after FB bought it.)

This time, however, it’s about what I see on Facebook on a day-to-day basis. It’s not good for me.
First, there’s all the hate, the racism, and the anti-refugee sentiments. Luckily, none of you, my friends, fall in into that category, but that doesn’t mean I don’t see any of it. The comments on news articles and the news articles themselves, it’s just plain depressing. I’m probably not going to stop reading the news; I want to stay at least partially up to date, but I’m not sure I want all the details, including every little racist comment coming out of our politicians mouths. It’s good that the stuff is out there and that they can’t hide it anymore, but I already know that we are facing some immense problems, and not with the refugees but the people who are against the refugees and the populist politicians who are using this mood to either stay in power or to gain it. I don’t need to be reminded of it every day.

Then there’s the other stuff, mostly stories or pictures of the things that people do or say. That also includes comments, and sometimes responses to my comments. I’m already not exactly a people person; I’m definitely not the most social person you’ll ever meet, but some off the stuff I read around here every day really gets me close to losing my faith in humanity altogether.
Some of you might say, hey, it’s just Facebook, it’s not that important (something I used myself, a while back, but when I used it, it was on a rant somebody wrote about having technical problems with writing posts. That person went totally nuts about it, and I used that line to calm him down. In that context, it really wasn’t that important.) The thing is, it’s not just Facebook, and I think it’s more important than you would think. Facebook is shaping this society, and it’s changing it. You might ask yourself, what harm can a little picture with some text on it do? Or some idiots who write racist comments? Those people were always around, after all.
There are two problems. One is the sheer amount of those things that we see everyday, and the is that nobody bothers to fact check. People forget that image editing tools are not exclusively used by skilled photographers anymore; these days anybody can put text on a picture. And when people see something that fits their point of view, they will (mostly) mindlessly re-share it. That doesn’t mean that the text on the picture is factual, or the quote attributed to the person on the picture was something that person actually said, but it will re-inforce people’s beliefs, even the false ones, or the dangerous ones. The same goes for comments.
Two important facts to remember: One, everybody has an agenda, and two, people don’t like to change their minds. People will react positively only to posts that appeal to their own beliefs and agendas and dismiss the rest as propaganda or conspiracy. No, I’m not making that up. There are already studies, and other people, with a larger audience than me, saying the same thing or something similar. Go read up on the Filter Bubble, if you don’t believe me. Also, I know it from experience, for the one positive thing that Facebook did for me (apart from re-connecting with a few relatives and old friends I haven’t seen in a looong time 😉) is to really reinforce my atheism. I had already quit the Catholic church in 2013, because I simply stopped believing, but I was more in a stage of “I simply don’t care”. Now I do care, and I now openly call myself an atheist. The reason I’m bringing this up is because I started following some atheist pages on Facebook, and the posts fit into my world view that was emerging at the time. And I saw them because I chose to follow those pages. I would not choose to follow any religious pages, so there was no chance of me being influenced by opposing view points, and that’s the point I’m trying to make.

I find it hard to express, in English or German, all of what’s really going through my mind on the subject. All I can say is, Facebook is not good for me. It’s costing me too much time and energy, and that’s why I’ve decided to simply quit.

Those of you who want to stay in touch and are not already connected to me outside of Facebook, feel free to write a comment or drop me a private note and we can exchange other means of contact (privately). I’ll stick around for a few days to give everyone a chance to see this.

Thanks.

Updating…

Terrace Since it looks like summer might be at least peeking in for a bit, I created a little space on the patio; cleaned off the table, connected the netbook and decided it’s time for some writing, which I haven’t done in a while. I just updated several WP plugins, which led to the title — I feel like my life needs a little software update to clean up all the bugs 😉

Actually, though, things aren’t going too bad right now. Starting last month, I finally have a job that fits me — took me long enough after I came here. With the last one I think (I hope) I found the bottom of the barrel; I’m still running after my last salary, the one for March, plus 45 hours worth of overtime. I have a really good feeling, though, about the job I’m doing now, and what’s more, they don’t mind me doing my photography business on the side (it’s not competition, this job has nothing to do with photography whatsoever, and that’s probably better. I’m a much better photographer working for myself. I don’t have to worry about what the boss thinks about my work, which usually gets in my way as an employee; at least if the boss is also a photographer. So in a way it’s good that, just to pay my rent and put food on the table, I’m doing something entirely different.

Now that I had a month to settle in at the new job, it’s time to get back to doing the things that I love to do. April, the month I was out of work, feels totally wasted; I had a terrible cold, so I didn’t go for my daily walks, and since I couldn’t sing, I got sloppy with my guitar practice. Then came the new job and all the changes it brought with it, and a lot of times I felt to tired to go for a walk or pick up my guitar, and now I have to work really hard to get my fingers back in shape. But I guess, all in all, things are looking much better than they did two months ago, and hopefully I’ll be able to start writing something useful here again pretty soon.

Ubuntu 12.04: “No Screens Found”

I just spent about three hours fixing my computer. Ok, a great deal of the time was spent backing up my photos, but still. Anyway, I thought I’d share.

Last night, when I just wanted to quickly check something on the internet, X froze. I restarted, and it wouldn’t boot to a graphical login anymore.

This is the tail end of the Xorg.0.log:

Fatal server error:
[ 56.973] no screens found
[ 56.973]
Please consult the The X.Org Foundation support
at http://wiki.x.org
for help.
[ 56.973] Please also check the log file at "/var/log/Xorg.0.log" for additional information.
[ 56.973]
[ 56.980] ddxSigGiveUp: Closing log
[ 56.981] Server terminated with error (1). Closing log file.

At the same time, I got the following error message at the login prompt:
mountall: disconnected from Plymouth
mountall: Event failed

I don’t know if the two were related or not, but I did fix the latter one first. After some googling, I found that someone else had this problem after modifying the swap partition. That prompted me to compare actual UUIDs to the ones in /etc/fstab. Turns out that for some reason the UUID of the swap partition hat changed; as to why, I don’t have the slightest idea. I didn’t make any changes to the system. But replacing the one in /etc/fstab with the one from ls -l /dev/disk/by-uuid fixed at least the one error.

As for the X server problem, before I went to sleep last night, I posted the problem to Google Plus. When I checked this morning, some helpful soul had posted a comment saying the problem might be a hard disk problem. That scared me right out of bed to back up my latest photos to my external hard disk — nothing like a good scare to wake you up 😛

I don’t want to detail all the little things I tried that failed, so here’s what solved it:
sudo apt-get purge xserver-xorg*
That also removed ubuntustudio-desktop, which was convenient because to re-install everything all I needed was
sudo apt-get install ubuntustudio-desktop

So, I have a working system again, but I also got a friendly reminder to back up more often.

Dabbling in HDR

_MG_2758-60

Here’s my first more or less successful HDR attempt. I tried before, but never came up with a result I liked.
I took these photos a while back while on a walk; I wasn’t really out with the goal to take great pictures, I just like to have my camera with me when I go for a walk. I certainly wasn’t planning on doing HDR at the time, but I got into the habit of auto-bracketing when I’m outside a long time ago because it’s so hard to judge the exposure on the camera screen outside. So I had three exposures of this, and while browsing old images I thought this one looked like it could be interesting for a try.

I used LuminanceHDR for tone mapping, and since I don’t know squat about it I just went ahead and used the default values for everything. For this composition, I aligned the images manually in GIMP, and unfortunately, I couldn’t get it quite right; in the end I just gave up when I got it as close as I thought I could get it. With this picture I found it didn’t matter that much, anyway. On an architecture picture it probably would have been a problem, but in this case it just adds to the general surrealism, I think. Afterwards, with a new test with a different set of images, I tried the auto-align option with Hugin in LuminanceHDR, and it worked great — I just didn’t like the picture that much, so I prefer to post this one. I might try again with this picture next time I can muster the patience 🙂

Here are the original images:

DIY strip light — finished

I finished my strip light (see part one of the documentation.)

The material I used for the diffusor came from an old shower curtain, which was all white and made of polyester, and in look and feel it’s very similar to the material used in commercial light modifiers. I put some Velcro strips on and then painted the whole thing.

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The only thing I will probably do at some point is to replace the cardboard bottom with a piece of wood. Other than that, it works great and was well worth the effort!

Getting some excersise again

I am so proud of myself. I just went running, for the first time in a long time.

I haven’t done any serious exercise in about a year and a half. In 2011 I worked hard to lose weight, and I lost about 15 kilos. Then our move from Celle got in the way, and my stepper broke. Now I got about ten of those back, and I have been thinking for quite a while now that I have to get back in shape. The other day I was on the phone and I had to get downstairs (one floor down) to check something, all the while talking. When I came back up I was panting as if I’d been running a marathon. So, I really have to get moving again.

This morning I woke up at 20 after 5. I started to think about exercising again, and then I was thinking, I should start shopping for a new stepper, and then I was thinking about the money, and then I thought, well, I don’t absolutely have to spend money on equipment, I just could go running. Maybe I’ll start that. And, then, quite unexpectedly, I found myself getting up at 5:30 thinking, what’s wrong with now? I realized I have been making excuses for not exercising for a really long time.

This is what it looks like where I started to run... Good thing it was still dark.
This is what it looks like where I started to run… Good thing it was still dark.
I planed a route, which, according to Google Maps, is 1.4 k. Since this village is built on a hill, about half of that went uphill, in parts fairly steep. I put some music on my MP3 player — one song for running and one for walking. The running song is an instrumental (this one) which is about five minutes long and great for running; I used that before, when I was still living in Frankfurt. I thought, ok, for now I’ll be happy if I can make it through the song once before I start walking. But I actually managed to run the whole route, without slowing to a walk even once, which was was about two repeats of the five-minute-song and more than halfway into the third, about 13 minutes. Which I think is not bad for the first time, after a year and half with no cardio exercise whatsoever. So, yes, I’m really proud of myself.

Now I just need to hope I can keep it up. I changed my alarm from 6 a.m. to 5 a.m., so tomorrow is gonna be the real test.

The Dark Side of Any Feminism

A few days ago, somebody in my circles on Google+ posted a link to this article by a female blogger I had not heard of before. She tells the story of how she and her friend attended an Open Source event and were harassed because of the way they dressed and how they were hurting the Geek Feminist movement. It’s well worth a read, go ahead.

While this attitude is probably stronger in geek culture and IT than it is anywhere else, the story she tells is also symptomatic for a larger problem in every kind of feminism. The only way any feminist movement can be a success is if you win the majority of women to the cause. But what these people are doing is counterproductive. If you tell women they can’t enjoy being female, let alone show they enjoy being female, you will not win the majority. On the contrary. You will put most women off. If you, the feminists, tell me that in order to get true equality we have to try and be more like men, then I say that’s the kind of equality you can keep, thank you very much.