The Wormworld Saga Webcomic

30. June, 2013

The Wormworld Saga” is an epic comic about a boy who discovers a strange painting in the attic of his grandmother’s house.

What I love about the comic is the great care that the author put into characters and paintings:

Welcome to the Wormworld, (C) Daniel Lieske


The pace of the comic is slow. I had a lot of joy watching the boy frolic in the fields around his grandmother’s house. There is almost no violence, no physical fights or blood. The story lives just by being beautiful. The boy isn’t extraordinary – he isn’t mischievous, doesn’t play pranks but he certainly is smart. He’s innocent but not na├»ve. He’s cautious but not afraid. For example, before he crawls into this strange painting, he first attached some string in the attic to make sure he can find his way back.

The art is amazing. I’ve yet to see one image where you can’t find every color of the palette. You should try this yourself to see how hard it is to make everything fit.

Another impressive feat is the layout. In the web version, each comic is one endless page. Again, have a look before you try to judge this. Trust me, it works perfectly.

Last but not least, you get to see the result before you have to pay for it. All the chapters of the comic are available for free online. On the tablet, you can get each chapter for free or for a small fee. Each chapter is available in four official languages and 21 (at the time of writing) fan translations. You can buy them as books or donate on the web page (just scroll way down after each chapter). I believe this guy really digs the new economy.

So, if you want to step out of your hectic live for a couple of hours and feel like a child again, start reading.

Installing Kubuntu 13.04 or Luckily, I Get Paid for This

27. June, 2013

I have now spent many hours trying to install Kubuntu 13.04. As you can see by the time spent, it didn’t exactly go smooth. But before I begin the barrage, let me assure you that I’m a Linux fan, I’m using Linux for many years now, I’m using it at home and even after this ordeal, I’m not going back to either Windows or Mac.

Let’s start with the installer. It’s fast, looks slick … Why are there no keyboard shortcuts? ­čśŽ

Harddisk partitioning. No keyboard shortcuts. Why can’t I format the swap partition? The button is dead but it doesn’t look disabled.

Okay. Let’s put / on my SSD, add some swap, /home on my normal harddisk.

I live in Switzerland, so let’s select that … “ubi-console-setup failed with exit code 141” ­čśŽ Googling quickly got me solution. Okay, let’s go back. Exit code 141 again. Grrr…. Close … Why do I get a desktop now?

Oh, nice an installer icon. Click … why is it asking be *again* for the harddisk layout? Still no keyboard shortcuts … and error 141 is back. Great. Reboot.

Trying again … okay, selecting the time zone triggers the ubi-console-setup bug. Thanks, I just entered my harddisk layout a third time. Reboot.

Germany. No, leave my ***** keyboard layout alone. Just shut up and … harddisk layout again … Maybe I can save some time by not formatting the partitions again?

Yes. Err … no. Now it tried to “backup installed packages” ARGH!!! Okay, that shouldn’t take long … 1 hour …. 2 hours …. Power off.

Harddisk again, yes, format everything. German keyboard layout. Waiting for everything to install from the USB stick.

Creating this stick was an adventure of it’s own. What is the difference between Kubuntu,┬áKubuntu HDmedia,┬áKubuntu active and┬áKubuntu 13.04?

Yay, a desktop.

Let’s switch the keyboard layout. Good.

Where is Chrome or Firefox? Ah, nice, there is a one-click Firefox installer. Click … wait … wait some more … is that thing doing anything?

How do I install software here? Where is aptiude? Where did the Software installer in the System Settings go??? Okay, it’s “Muon”, now. Well, let’s try that.

First, set the proxy. Checking the proxy in rekonq … works.

Starting Muon. Search for “Firefox”. No results. “Chrome”? Nope. “Vim”? Anything? What’s wrong with this software?

I added “Canonical partners” as a repository but there is no indication whatsoever that it accepts this change, that it downloads the new repo or anything. My first impression with Muon: Stay away.

Back to apt-get. Installing chrome works. Starting it … suddenly, my proxy settings in System Settings are gone? Okay, put them back and also add them to Chrome. Good, that seems to work.

Trying Muon one last time. Aha, when I prepare everything with apt from the command line (like downloading the repositories), Muon can suddenly find packages. But it can’t install anything. I click on “Install”, it flickers and that’s it. No error message, the UI gets corrupted and no software installed.

So. I’m now officially on 13.04. The UI looks nice enough.

Trying to upgrade the system. “Muon Package Manager” (what’s the difference between this thing and “Muon Software Center”?) seems to work and it shows me 289 packages ready for upgrades. Apply … wtf!? “The following software can’t be verified. WARNING: Installing such software is a security risk …” Okay, if the official Ubuntu updates are a security risk, why even bother???

*sigh* Go on. ARGH!! “Could not download packages” :-((( Details: “Unable to connect to …” Apparently, Muon doesn’t care whether there is a proxy or not … or … ah, of course, the system has again forgotten my proxy settings. Okay, f*** that. apt-get upgrade. Yes, install all those trojans on my computer, I don’t care anymore. Yes, yes, yes, yes, just do it already.

*Deep breathing*

How do I make the proxy settings stick???

Oh well, let’s just add them to /etc/environment – which is probably the worst way to do it but hey, if the obvious ways don’t work and Google doesn’t turn up anything useful, what’s a man to do?

Conclusion: That was my adventure with installing Kubuntu 13.04. Tomorrow, I’ll try to do some actual work on it.

Overall, I feel that many, many people put a lot of work into the system and all this was ruined by a few small bugs (Muon, proxy settings, Swiss keyboard in the installer).

Backups are for Wimps, Real Men use the NSA

25. June, 2013

We spend a  lot of money on various secret services to spy on us. Why not turn the intrusion into a service and ask them for files which we accidentally deleted or lost?

But maybe you’re subversive. Like Markus Kompa. In that case, try to get a German passport. Write some document and send a copy to someone whose wires are probably tapped. Now write a letter to an involved secret service and request them to delete the copy (according to German law, you have full control on where, when and under which circumstances one of your works may be published).

Quick: How Does Quicksort Work?

24. June, 2013

Every now and then, we need to remember how some complex algorithm works. For some, code works well. Or puzzles. Others prefer an explanation with examples. A third group likes to see what is going on.

The portal contains visualizations of all kinds of algorithms for the visually inclined.


The End is Nigh, Part 2

16. June, 2013

A while ago, I asked whether wars on water, burning fossil fuel or air conditioning will kill us first.

Turns out it’s probably air conditioning.

Currently, we’re facing a couple of problems. We’re polluting the oceans with plastics, stressing many strands of the food chain and fish much more than we should. Sounds bad but we’ll run out of oil for plastics before we can poison everything and fishing fleets will quickly disappear with their prey – along with a few million people. So that sucks but it’s not a big problem in the sense that it’ll kill us – it will most likely resolve itself by becoming uneconomical.

Same goes for burning fossil fuels. We have a lot of them but the amount is finite and we’ll eventually run out of them. In a few years, the effect on the environment will put a lot of strain on the global economy. We’ll lose ships and planes in storms or they can’t even leave port. But again, as soon as this happens, the supply of fossil fuels will dry up since the platforms to make them available won’t be able to survive the weather we created.

Water? There will be wars over water but they will be pretty local. Israel, for example, will have to build many desalinating plants. And terrorists will love to blow them up. But water is on the radar since everyone involved is aware that access to water is so important.

AC is going to kill us? I must be kidding, right?


First of all, no one believes that air conditioning is a problem. But think about it:

  1. Asia is mostly tropical. People are getting more rich and demand better living conditions.
  2. AC need a lot of electricity which comes from mostly from fossil fuel
  3. The coolants will heat up the planet much more efficiently than any other gas we produce as soon as it leaks and it will – most people in Asia know the concept of recycling but they dump their broken stuff in the forest just like we did a few years ago.
  4. Staying cool is essential to be productive and to be able to concentrate. It’s not (only) a luxury.

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Google Reader is Going Away

5. June, 2013

I’m looking for a replacement of Google Reader because it’s being shut down July 1, 2013. People don’t seem to be interested in the petition.

So far, I haven’t found a useful replacement.

Feedly has no bearable support for tagging (the tag editor is a joke, tags can’t be sorted with drag&drop, adding new tags is a pain, you have only a single tag per article┬áand no tagging via the keyboard).

But the worst bug is that Feedly will randomly refresh the page. This means: You are reading an article and in the middle of it, Feedly will throw it away and replace it with some random, new article. To add insult to injury, there is no easy way to get the lost article back since it will now be in the “has been read” state. Even when you read articles in the headlines-only mode, you can lose an interesting article because Feedly sometimes refreshes the list before you can open it.

From the horde of online readers, Feedly was one of the best. The Old Reader? Great … if you don’t need tagging. I have five years worth of tags.

NewsBlur is … I don’t know. After half an hour, I still haven’t figured out how to add feeds, how to navigate them, let alone how to read articles.

Bloglovin. I need a RSS reader, not a fashion statement.