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06 December 2013
(Note: this is not
an introduction to Bitcoins (BTC). If you want that, there are plenty of sites around, including Wikipedia
. This is aimed at people like me, who have heard about it, read about it, know what mining and wallets are all about, and then wonder what the heck it all means in reality and what would be the easiest and least technical way to get started.)
So, you read all those stories about Bitcoins and how people are making a ton of money from 'mining' coins that magically appear? It seemed like a good idea to get in on this, until you found out there is no chance at all that you will ever 'mine' your own coins? Not unless you are willing to buy dedicated mining machines and have free electricity, that is. Isn't that just too bad and annoying? Or maybe this is actually for the best. After all, most economics and banking experts keep telling you Bitcoins are just a fad, a pyramid scheme, a bubble that will eventually burst.
Bubble about to burst or not, it is really tempting to get involved in the Bitcoin craze, hoping to get some coins and then see if they increase in value, so you can get more bang for your coin, so to speak. Since mining really is out of the question for us dummies, the only option is to buy (or beg for) some coins. But here's the rub: if you want to buy coins, your options are extremely limited. There is no way to buy coins using traditional means such as credit cards or PayPal. Why? Well, not (just) because Bitcoins may be seen as shady or as competition by those services. But because payments by credit card and PayPal can be reversed by the buyer (i.e. you). Bitcoins are fairly anonymous and payments are non-reversible. And no exchange would risk selling you coins for cash, only to have you reverse your payment. This is also why big exchanges require you to mail photo-ID and give them your bank account info.
If you live in the Netherlands, are a Dutch buyer, and/or have a Dutch bank account, there is an easier way to buy coins: payment by iDEAL
, which is also non-reversible. There are currently two sites I am aware of: Bitonic
. Bitonic will also buy BTC. It will transfer the money to you by bank transfer, but only to IBAN accounts in the SEPA
zone (i.e. the EU).
Oh, one thing. If you are considering investing
in BTC, make sure graphs like these don't scare you!
Speaking of begging for coins, if you actually buy some and feel generous, you can donate here: 1NZ65LewNeQgc66iY3nzk6npwtSiNZLxUP
05 December 2013
Many years ago I had to say goodbye
to my favorite watch. It died on me and I was unable to find the same one anywhere. Not surprising, since it was an old watch from the 90's. This was in 2005.
Fast-forward 8 years to today and for the first time ever I clicked an add in one of my RSS feeds. Why? Because I did not recognize it as an ad and all I saw was my favorite watch! Turns out Casio has an entire 'classics' line that has a ton of old favorites. My old watch is now available on Amazon as well. Christmas comes early this year
(then again, today is Sinterklaas>
, which is the traditional gift-giving day in the Netherlands, so this is very appropriate).
Casio DB380 Watch
24 November 2013
Although I have never really considered myself a 'creative' person, I do take pleasure in some types of creation. Case in point, this blog. And way before this, I used to write and share a couple of D&D adventures. Every once in a while I would also get a vague idea for a new board or card game. Nothing ever came of this, until last year.
My latest attempt to create a game did not end with just a vague idea, but turned into a very basic but playable first draft. Simple rules, simple game play, something quick and easy that people can pick up and play for a few minutes while waiting for friends to arrive to hang out. I figured I might as well try and turn it into an actual game for others to play. But this would require getting it published. Professional game publishers have quite difficult submission processes and they get a lot of submissions since board and card games are hot again. This did not seem like the way to go for me.
Of course it would be easy to just write the rules and put up the graphics for the game pieces and have people print their own copy. But this is not quite what I had in mind. I wanted to feel more like I was “publishing” the game for real, if that makes sense. And then I found The Game Crafter
, a web site that lets you create, publish and sell your own game. So this is what I did. I will not make a lot of money selling the game since the production costs are too high to make a real profit. Which is probably also the reason why getting your game published through an official/professional games publisher is pretty near impossible. Still, I will be happy even if I just get some people to like the game.
13 October 2013
Oops. Looks like I missed the 10 year anniversary of this blog. Probably a clear indication of how little I have blogged over the past year(s). I wonder if I'll get back to a more frequent posting routine ... stay tuned to find out
23 May 2013
Many people hate the new Flickr design. It turns out there is a trick to show photo streams in a layout more similar to the old version. I read about it here
and decided to turn it into something easier to use. I made this to help my gf
who also hates the new layout.
This is a bookmarklet you can use. Click to add the required "?details=1“ to any page you want. Of course it will only work on pages that support this. It may break other pages. Just add this link to your favorites: Flickr Details
. Every time you want to see the detailed version of the page, click the bookmarklet.
For those using Greasemonkey, there is also a simple userscript that will do the same. To install:
Open this page and copy all text (ctrl-a, ctrl-c): script
Open Greasemonkey and select New User Script
Click Use Script From Clipboard
The user script is based on this thread
All this comes with no guarantees, no support, and with a ”enjoy it while it works" message. I'm a tad too busy with other stuff these days, but I figured since I created this anyway, I might as well share it.
22 July 2012
Every once in a while I find myself wanting to donate to programmers or charities, but I find the process annoying. A central service to handle all donations would be very useful.
I use a lot of free software. Very often these are open source applications or free games. A dozen Firefox add-ons, and many 'utility' programs on Windows. Even though these are free, there are many authors (programmers) that will gladly accept donations. And when a program is very useful, I like to donate. However, when I decide to donate, it is a bit of hassle to go look for the proper site, go through the entire process of entering payment details (credit card, Paypal, or whatever else is used). You see, donating usually happens after using the programming for a while, not when I first download it. At that time I am not sure yet if it will be useful.
When I make an (admittedly small) donation, spending over five minutes to have it processed is tiresome. Even more so if I want to make donations to several authors. Donating to five authors could easily take fifteen minutes.
A similar thing happens when I want to donate to charity. I have a hard time picking a specific charity or there are too many charities that seem to 'deserve' my money. I never know when I feel like I can afford to donate, or when the urge strikes. When it does, I want to donate without having to find the site.
28 May 2012
In May of 2011, the EU decided on a regulation requires consent from site visitors before a web site can store cookies on the visitor's computer. There was a grace period for site owners to find a way to ask for this consent. And of course, by now most sites still do not comply with the regulations.
Since I am very interested in the issues of privacy and tracking myself, I want to at least make an attempt to comply with the regulation. The problem is, each EU country can implement the regulation in its own way, so it is hard to figure out exactly what to do. It seems like the UK approach is fairly strict and since I host my site in the UK, I figure I should try to implement consent this way. If it the UK approach is indeed more strict than Dutch regulations, I figure it is better to go with the most strict option.
So, starting today you will notice a little 'pop up' type of banner at the top of your page on every visit if you do not consent to cookie use. The banner will disappear after 20 seconds. If you do not accept and continue, non-essential cookies will not be used. Right now, the only cookies this applies to are those of Google Analytics. If you do accept, the site will use non-essential cookies and the banner will disappear. Ironically, it disappears because it sets a cookie that stores your consent. I am using code for this consent script from this site
Please note: if you visit www.golb.org and then go to golb.org, you may have to give consent again. And of course if your browser blocks cookies or if you clear cookies, you will have to give consent again next time you visit. Ah, don't you just love regulations?
I urge you to read up on cookies and online privacy in general. You may want to find out how to change your browser settings to handle cookies in a way you are comfortable with. There are some links on my privacy page. And of course you can always keep an eye on the privacy posts
on this blog.
11 July 2011
We all know archiving files and making frequent backups is important to prevent data loss. But backing up files can be such a hassle. Quite often we limit ourselves to an infrequent backup at best.
For those of us who are quite actively creating content, a more frequent back up practice is important. But I feel it is not important enough to back up my entire system. After all, 80% of the stuff will be the same every time. That's all Windows operating system stuff. What really matters, are my pictures and documents. Instead of using a full fledged cloning program to create back ups of these files, I find a program like XXCOPY
much easier to use. And “easy” means “I may actually do this”.
06 February 2011
I recently made the switch to a smartphone running Android. The phone comes with access to the Android Market, a collection of applications (apps) one can download and use on the phone. Up until recently, this was only available on the phone. This makes sense, since one would browse the market, select an app and then install it on the phone.
While accessing the market on the phone worked ok, I found it annoying to just browse through long lists of apps. Perhaps it is my phone, perhaps my wifi network, but it would sometimes be quite slow. Now the market is available as a web site as well, at https://market.android.com/
. This makes browsing a lot easier. I find myself looking through available apps more often than before, during moments of boredom (ahem) at my desktop.
I wonder if I am just too old-fashioned to use a smartphone
13 September 2010
After seven years of service, Ask.com will pull the plug on Bloglines, the online RSS reader. This is a sad time for me. Yes, I know, Bloglines sucked for a while and almost everyone has moved on by now. But I like the clean and simple interface of the old version. Never had a need for the beta version either. The sparseness works for me, as it lets me concentrate on what matters: the content of the feeds.
Unfortunately, there are not many alternatives left. I have looked at Netvibes
and it seems like I could use it. The only other alternative is Google Reader
which I will probably use. Google reader has some advantages, as it seems slightly faster than Netvibes and somewhat more less clunky to use. But it certainly isn't perfect for my needs. I guess nothing is right now. My main objection when switching to Google is an increasing aversion against Google and its data hunger. It already knows what I search for, it thinks it knows what kind of ads I want to see, and now it wants to decide which mails are more important to me. But I digress. So, Google reaer probably, since there aren't any good alternatives left.
Yes, I have looked at installing my own RSS software on my server, but right now that is a bigger project than I want to get into. Offline readers are no option either, since I use many different computers. Although I may switch to an offline reader if I can get it to run from USB.
Bloglines, you had some fans left and will be missed. Thank you for seven years of service.
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