Random Thoughts While Packing

Sorting stuff out. Putting it on the bed. Deciding what to take and what to leave home. Arguing shall we go with one suit case or two. Arguing why I’m packing this or the other tech gadget, which I will most probably not need. Then rushing through my luggage to take out stuff, which I took just to have a backup.

“I’ll pack this perfume.” “No, it’s in PVC bottle, and it’ll leak. Not only we’ll waste it, but all luggage will rick of it for years”. “But the others will break.” “No, they won’t, they’re after all packed in between our clothes.”

It’s fun and a bit nervous exercise. In the middle of it, I decided to step out and do some writing, just because I need to calm down a bit, and I already got tired of so much randomness. Which does not help, as I’m still not ready with my suitcase, while Vesi did hers? The fact that we still have more than two hours till the taxi does not matter.
Nevertheless, I just sat and started a concentration playlist on Spotify.

We’re going to a cruise trip. In our cities list, we have Copenhagen, Hellesylt/Geiranger, Flaam, Stavanger, all these in Norway. We will embark and disembark in Kiel, Germany. Meanwhile, we’ll pass by our relatives in Berlin and spend two nights with them: one at the beginning of the trip and one at the end.

It’ll be fun. I hope so much it’ll be fun. I need a bit of relief from the past months of over-stress.

The weather forecast does not look great. It seems we’re sailing one day before the sun: when we’re in a given city it is going to rain, and on the next day it’ll be sunny. But we’ll be then at the other place, where it’ll rain again, and on the next day, it’ll be sunny. And so forth.

Surprisingly enough, this does not bother me much. For everywhere except Copenhagen and Stavanger we have our excursions, so we’re settled one way or another. If it rains too much in Copenhagen, we always know where to go. We’ve never been in Stavanger, but I hope Vesi will think of something until the time comes.

When we’re (successfully) back, I’ll get a week at work. I have a lot of stuff to do this week. And after this week we’ll go to our next trip. It’ll be in Greece, in our favorite Thalata Camp, where we should have a beautiful, large caravan waiting for us on the beach. I’m planning to do half-work there; I just hope I’ll be OK with the internet connection. Otherwise, I’ll have to issue full vacation days instead of half, but the biggest problem will be I will have to think what to do, while offline. You know me: being offline is always a challenge :).

I’ve got few books waiting for me. “Ready Player One” was recommended to me. I have few others on my reading list, but I’m betting on this paper book only for the whole trip. If a miracle happens and I somehow succeed to finish this one despite the excursions, walks and other fun distractions, I will revert to the book(s) I’m reading on my Kindle. But I doubt this will be the case. Lately, I’m plodding with paper books. I either forget to take them with me, or I’m not in a mood, or just the phone is too close to grab and do… Facebooking.

In that sense, yesterday I read the Medium story “I stopped checking Facebook for a year, without deleting the app.,” by Renée Fishman. Here’s what I learned. The author maps our Facebook usage to the need for escape. When we want to escape from discomfort, uncertainty, expectations, emotions, etc. It is so easy just to grab the phone and seek Facebook for our confirmation biases. Facebook likes us. But it likes us not for what we truly are, but because we found people, who think like us, who feel like us, who support us in our decisions.

Facebook escape is a straightforward “solution,” which gives us the (false) feeling things get better. Just like something I recently read there:

– All my Facebook friends think I’m thin.
– What about the others?
– I just block them.

Renée Fishman claims such escape is wrong, as it makes us dependable. She fought hard against it, and it seems she succeeded to get rid of it. Or so it looks. It helped her to be the true self she think she is, without the need for confirmation bias (e.g., the “Likes”).

I cannot entirely agree with her. My confirmation bias need is powerful and requires constant refueling :). Plus, I also use Facebook for help. Both as giving support and as receiving help. I reacted many times on support requests, and I found a lot of help from my friends, too. For me, Facebook is not just a habit, not just an addiction. It’s a tool, and if used right, it can be a precious tool.

It’s easy, of course, to blame it all on a tool. “It’s Facebook’s fault, not mine.” I will dump this thing, and life will suddenly become easier. It’s not like that, folks. It does not work that way. Just dumping something does not make you immediately better. It seems to me Renée also got to this conclusion or at least I found it hidden within her text.

So, before you decide to go and dump (whatever, and especially Facebook), read and understand it well. Then read and understand yourself. Because if you do not, you will come back to the Facebook habit.

Permanent and Current Addresses in Bulgaria

Always keep your Bulgarian permanent and current addresses up to date!

Bulgarian ID Card Specimen

By Bulgarian Government [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Today I was frustrated to hear how a person I know got convicted without even knowing it. He got condemned by his first born son, for lack of parental support court case.

To understand how such ridiculous situation is possible, let me first explain that in Bulgaria we have two types of “official” addresses: permanent and current.
The permanent address is your primary address, which is also written on the back of your Bulgarian ID card. Changing this address usually happens on rare occasions, and requires a full change of your government documents: ID card and Driving License. Also, all your voting happens by default on your permanent address, e.g. the government assigns you to vote based on this address first.

The other address, the “current” one, is usually used when you still can be found on the permanent one or could return living there, but you’re currently in a different location. The current address is useful for students, who go to study in a different city or for families, which own more than one place and would like to have both addresses available. If you have given a “current address,” then the government will try to contact you first there, if any official communication is necessary. If the formal communication cannot reach you at your current address, the government will revert to your “permanent address” and will try to find you there.

Since issuing new government IDs is (still) a nasty, time consuming and annoying process, many people do not care to keep their permanent address up to date. Usually, this address remains the address of the place, where they lived at the moment they had to get their first ID card (this happens when a person is 14 years old). Ever since they got that sorted, they did not care to change this address. These individuals might be OK, if their parents are still at their initial address, and if they keep the connection with their parents.

Despite this, however, it’s always an excellent idea to have your current address, known by the government in the cases it differs from the permanent one. It’s easy to update the current address: all it takes is a visit to the municipality you’re currently living and a declaration about your current residence. Of course, you will need a valid documentation, which entitles you to live there: either a rental or ownership contract for this place. You present these (a copy might be necessary), the clerk registers you, and that’s it.

Having these both addresses up to date gives you the maximum security that when you need to be reached by the government, you will be reached. But why the government might need you? Here’re few examples:

Police Woman Doll1. You’ve road penalty ticket issued on your name.

The ticket will arrive at your current address (or the permanent one, if there’s no current). If the address is correct, and you agree with the penalty, you’ll get 30% discount, if you pay the penalty in 2 weeks once it arrives.
What will happen, if the ticket does not reach you? First, you will lose the default possibility for payment discount. Second, you will be (badly) surprised, when you occasionally visit Ministry of Interior’s Bureau. Apart from what you need to sort out there, you’ll also suddenly find that you need to pay an unknown, but accumulated amount of road penalties. Sometimes this could be significant.
If the clerks are polite and understanding (and if you’re also polite and understanding), they might decide you’ve not been informed and still give you the discount right, but it’s absolutely up to them. You don’t want this to happen.

2. You’re asked to appear as a witness in a court case.

In this case, you may fail to help a case, on which they have only your name and EGN, but not your phone. In such case, the court will try locating you based on your official addresses. If both are invalid, you’ll never appear in the case.
In most cases, this will only mean your testimony will not be heard.
But if for whatever reason the court case is extremely critical, the court might request the police to issue a national search order for you.
Imagine the case you try to leave the country for a vacation abroad, and the border officer just pulls you out of the line and does not let you go abroad because of this?
Such situation can be very annoying, and very destructive to your plans.

Police with handcuffs doll3. You’re asked to appear on trial as a side!

Such case is the worst, with the most severe consequences for you. If someone files a lawsuit against you, a court clerk will have to serve you with the invitation to appear in front of the judge. Assuming the other side has not informed you (they are not at all required to do so), then this clerk is the only person, who can reach you with such critical notification.
If the registrar cannot find you on any of your addresses, another visit will happen. And then another. I do not remember exactly how many of these visits will do, but at some point (I think after the third unsuccessful one), the case will proceed without you. In such case, your interest will not be protected at all. Usually, this will result in your conviction.
Such development of your court case is not okay for you, with unknown results. But do you know what’s worse now?
You guessed right: the same kind of clerk will try to inform you about the conviction, using the same procedure, which failed few times above. This time it’s even more critical because there’s short (usually two weeks long), during which you may still appeal your conviction. If this period passes and you do not appeal, the sentence enters into force.
Then… Then it depends on what the conviction is. You may end up again with national search order or not. It’s vague and depending on what the other side is ready to do to make you serve your sentence.

Going back to my acquaintance: as he had his permanent address illegal, he fully exercised what I’ve described above in (3). I do not know how he found out that he’s being convicted with sentence into force, but he was quite devastated. Both by the news of it, and by the fact it’s his first born, who did the conviction.

So, guys and girls, have your government known address always up to date! It cannot hurt you; it can be only beneficial to you. It doesn’t take much to do it, but it can save you tons of troubles, money and general worry.

Sorry, Edge! I tried, I REALLY did!

Screenshot of my Microsoft Edge in action

I like Microsoft, and I like their core business: Windows and Office. After all, I worked there for quite some time, and got few great friends there too!

But I just can’t understand why Microsoft still can’t make it to a useful browser! It’s already been almost two decades of painful browser marathon, which started with the once-great success of IE6 (and then the IE6 hell following).

Edge with Windows 10 sucked. It was possibly a good browser for someone’s grandma, but not for me. Main point: lack of extensions. Second point: lack of support across most of SPAs. Third point: lack of clearance “what’s next” for Microsoft.

Recently, with the recent upgrade to Windows Creators, I got the new Edge as well. I was excited: on my Insiders machine, I often use Edge, just to check how their progress goes. And I was glad that there’s finally Extensions’ support there, with my favorite LastPass extension, too.

As part of my “Creators Excitement,” I decided to switch from Chrome to Edge on my “hottest” notebook, the one I use mostly, hourly, minutely, etc.
So I did. And it was lovely honeymoon (well, honey-half-moon, actually).

But today I’m switching back to Chrome!

Why? Here’s why!

  1. Edge seems to perform badly on battery. Yes, Microsoft claims it’s very economic towards my notebook’s battery, but you just can’t use it, while on battery! It *misses keystrokes* in my extensions. If I want to do “Copy to clipboard”, I have to *repeat* this operation, until (finally) something gets copied to the clipboard.
  2. No UI/UX feedback that “it’s thinking.” You type an address in your browser bar, hit ENTER and then… nothing happens. It looks like it’s loading some Javascript or other files in the background, or at least you hope so, but you don’t see it. You go in the browser bar, and then you hit ENTER again, and *then* something starts happening, maybe!
  3. Impossible to put “active” scriplet in my bookmarks bar? Why? It was possible before, but not now?

All this brought a lot of irritation and feeling that “it failed my expectations again”. I’m very sorry. Because I also liked the idea of getting aside Chrome, just for a change. But it seems it won’t happen. Not today, and maybe anytime soon.

Creating CSV file for automatic calendar events import in Outlook/Google Cal

Today I had to create a bunch of Outlook 2016 appointments in my calendar. I wanted to avoid as much as possible the manual, one-by-one creation of the items, so I decided to lurk around for a method, which would allow me to do this work easier.

Quick Google search led me initially to the article “Create Appointments Using Spreadsheet Data”, which was showing up how this can be done with VBA macros. Although this was cool, programmatic way to accomplish the task, I was looking for the KISS principle method: just plain CSV import.

A bit more search and I was all set. The article “How to import a Calendar from Excel to Outlook” described quite straight forward process. However, I found a few discrepancies from what was desrcibed there, so I decided to sum up the differences I encountered, so the next time it’d be easier for me (and probably for my readers) to accomplish this task with Outlook 2016+.

The first difference was that there’s no XLS import in Outlook 2016. I had only CSV. This made useless to define namespace (as the article suggests), because CSV does not export that information.
The second problem, which was not outlined in the article, was which other fields I could use, in order to have more complete data (I needed Category, All Day Event, etc.). The article “Importing stuff into your Outlook Calendar (or Tasks) from Excel” led me to list of all common fields:

Subject, Start Date, Start Time, End Date, End Time, All day event, Reminder on/off, Reminder Date, Reminder Time, Meeting Organizer, Required Attendees, Optional Attendees, Meeting Resources, Billing Information, Categories, Description, Location, Mileage, Priority, Private, Sensitivity, Show time as.

The last issue I had was to find out how to do the Out of office status of the events. Each single event had to be marked as “Out of office”, so this information had to be present in the import file. This article informed me what the values of “Show Time as” column had to be, in order all this to work:

  • 1: Tentative
  • 2: Busy
  • 3: Free
  • 4: Out of Office

My final CSV looked like this (showing just the first row with column names, and the first data row):

Subject,Start Date,End Date,All day event,Categories,Private,Show Time as
This is All Day Event,1/15/2017,1/15/2017,1,MyCategory,1,4

If you save the above code fragment as CSV, the import in Outlook 2016 would be pretty straight forward. It’ll create an all day event with title “This is All Day Event”, marked as Out of Office, on Jan 15, 2017, with category name “MyCategory”.

The coolest thing was when I tried this CSV for Google Calendar too. It worked there as a charm, with the following exceptions:

  • It added two default reminders for each day (sick! Why, Google?)
  • It did not respect the Category name (I guess this is fair)
  • It did not respect the out of office status (well, Google just does not support that, right?)

Except from this, the data was correctly imported there too.

Setting up Thrust Gamepad GXT 39 to work with Elite:Dangerous

Trust GXT 39 Wireless Gamepad is great gamepad, which is quite nice for playing with Elite:Dangerous. I did not want to go to the ridiculously expensive (and large) joysticks, so I decided to try how it’ll work with a gamepad, which I can hold with my hands.

Overall: it’s great, but setting up Elite to work “my way” with it turned out to be a hassle.

Finally, after many attempts, this is my permanent (for now) setup, based on “Generic Joystick” setup from Elite. This post here is for my own future reference, but I thought someone could find it useful for his own needs, too!

To configure it, First of all, start/set “Generic Joystick” setup (warning: this will override your current setup, if it’s custom).

Now do the following customizations:

Setting the Pitch/Roll/Yaw/Vertical Thrust axises mapping to the left/right joysticks of the gamepad

  • Set “Yaw Axis” to [Joy-XAxis], no invert
  • Set “Roll Axis” to [Joy-ZAxis], no invert
  • Set “Pitch Axis” to [Joy-YAxis], no invert
  • Set “Vertical Thrust Axis” to [Joy-RZAxis], WITH invert

clip_image001

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clip_image001[7]clip_image002clip_image003

 

Setting additional Landing mode controls

For Landing mode, set Thrust Up/Down/Left/Right to JOY-POV1-UP etc., like on the picture below:

image

This will give you nice extra control, when your landing gear is deployed.

Gamepad Buttons Configuration

My gamepad buttons are configured according to the following table:

No Action
1 Target Ahead
2 Thrust Up
3 Thrust Down
4 Engine Boost
5 <<FREE>>

Still looking for what to put there!

6 Interface focus
7 Secondary Fire
8 Primary Fire
9 Enable FSD
10 Deploy / Retract Hardpoints
11 <So far, cannot find way to activate>?
12 <So far, cannot find way to activate>?

Here’s how the button mapping looks:

image

Pre-flight Checklist

For final verification, here’s also my pre-flight checklist:
image

Have fun! And if you found this useful, drop me a line here. Also, if you have suggestions, let me know Smile.

You’ll find me in Elite:Dangerous as CMDR DonAngel.

HTTPS @ doncho.net

image

Let’s Encrypt failed me. At least failed my expectations that I’ll be able to get and happily use HTTPS certificate, which is free, reliable and usable in a shared hosting environment.

It seems the current phase of the project is not intended for users like me. It’s more oriented towards hosting companies and/or self-host server owners, who can do and handle all the scripting magic, which is needed in order to get HTTPS certificates installed and automatically maintained. The automatic tools still work only on Debian/Apache, so… I do not see a chance for me in near future.

Driven by all this, I asked my hosting company Superhosting.bg if they will start supporting Letsencrypt’s certificates anytime soon. Superhosting already supports quite a lot of options for people, who want HTTPS, but it seems Letsencrypt are in too early stage in order to get official support by the bigger hosting companies.

I’m very lucky to know both guys, who created Superhosting. They’re both great guys, but that’s more or less a given, knowing they created such excellent hosting provider service (in my opinion, best in class for Bulgaria, at least). Metodi advised me and helped me a lot to get convinced to try a paid HTTPS certificate instead. HTTPS is important for me, despite the fact that I’m just hosting a personal site. Having in mind all above, I decided to stop waiting for free services like Letsencrypt and to trust RapidSSL’s certificate at this stage. Hopefully, this will satisfy all my personal needs for the coming years (with Metodi’s kind help I got 3 year’s long certificate). Once this time passes, I’ll reevaluate the situation and will decide if I shall renew, or if I shall switch to something different.

Superhosting Support guys and girls assisted me greatly in migrating all blog’s contents from http://blog.doncho.net to https://doncho.net, where from now on all my content will keep living. The previous http://doncho.net contents were archived, but they were nothing but a start page, which was redirecting to my (very outdated) family picture gallery and my actual blog. The picture gallery will keep living where it is, as I have no nerve or intention moving it under (for example) https://doncho.net/pics. One day this gallery will be put to a deserved rest, but not before I find a better, easier way to migrate the Coppermine content under a better, more reliable gallery (which I still have not found).

So, feel free to update your links. Blog.Doncho.Net is still there, but it’s highly advisable, from now on, to access my content via https://doncho.net. 

Have you heard about Classeur.Io?

Classeur.IO is cloud and Chrome[OS] based application, which allows you to easily write with Markdown, both local, cloud-based notes, and also post directly to your blog.

This is a test post, which I’m making with it. Let’s see how it’ll go.

I just installed it and I’d like to see if/how it will support the immediate blog post. So far I believe it’s all working OK, but let’s see…

Note: You can use Markdown to format your text.

My iClever Bluetooth Keyboard

Few weeks ago a very close and trusted friend of mine (thanks, Atanas 🙂 ) sent me a link to this excellent iClever Bluetooth travel keyboard. As I was already quite in need for pocket, travel keyboard, it took me only 5′ to review and purchase it from Amazon.co.uk.

I own the thing since a few weeks and every time I use it to do my typing (i.e., type on the tablet an e-mail, blog post or whatever longer), I’m quite delighted what a good solution this keyboard is to my typing need.

The keyboard is small when folded up, but it’s large enough to allow hassle free typing with both hands. It has very smart (and I hope – strong enough to ensure long living) folding mechanics, which allow transformation from its “working size” to “pocket size” in a second. It also has a pouch, which not only protects the keyboard while folded, but also protects the other items the keyboard is close to in the bag, as it’s aluminum body, which could otherwise scratch another sensitive item in your bag (i.e., your phone or tablet).

The keyboard also has four silicone tips, which make it almost stick to the surface while I’m typing. This is a feature, which I like a lot, because most of the pocket keyboards (or at least those I had my hands on) lack this and you need to always relocate the keyboard, which (naturally) moves as a result of your action on the keys. Thanks to these bands, the keyboard stays very solid on the surface you put it on.

I’m using the device with an Android tablet. However, the manufacturer claims that it should work with Windows and iOS too (it has Win key indeed), but I never tried that myself [yet].

Setup is pretty much out of the box: you turn it on (turns on by unfolding), long press the “Bluetooth link” button, pair and you’re good to go. My only trouble was with the fact that I’m Bulgarian Phonetic user and the default Android hardware keyboard settings do not include this keyboard layout. However, FDroid and the Phonetic Layout for External Keyboards resolved this perfectly. Honestly, I’d be pretty screwed, if this was not existing, so thanks guys (modest donation is on its way!).

Below is the picture of the keyboard, which I made for my Amazon review. It stays next to Nexus 9 tablet, so you get the idea of the size when unfolded. The pouch is next to it, i.e. this is the size of the keyboard, when folded. The thickness of the folded keyboard is not more than 10-14 mm.

image

I highly recommend this thing to anyone, who carries on tablet and has typing needs, which are best served with a keyboard.

This blog post was, of course, typed with this keyboard.

Restoration to the Rescue

A friend of mine came to me for help. She accidentally deleted all photos from her camera SD card. And she needed help to restore them.

This is quite typical scenario. Clearly you cannot repair much, but there’re tools, which can help you to restore as much as possible.

Restoration ScreenshotRestoration (Restoration @ Software Informer) is one of these tools. Unfortunately, the product seems a bit “abandoned” (last update was to make it compatible with Win2k 🙂 ), but it works on my Windows 8.1 Pro.

Restoration works quite well. It works on “full drive level”, i.e. it scans the whole drive for deleted files (you can set a filter), and then offers you to restore them by copying, i.e. to copy the (current) contents of the deleted file to another location, where you can review if the file has been restored OK.

In the “restore pictures from SD card” scenario, it worked quite well. It scanned the SD card, and I just asked it to copy all discovered files to my hard drive. Then I was able to clear the invalid JPG files and I delivered her the files, which were good.

Restoration is also delivered as a ZIP file, which you can run from any folder. It immediately went to my “Programs” folder, together with PortableApps, and as far as it works on the OS (Windows 10, we will see…), I’ll keep it handy!

Inline Comments!

Inline Comments Screenshot

Whoa! Inspired by Medium.Com, I decided to search, download and install Kevin Weber’s Inline Comments plugin (created by  to this blog too.

Inline Comments lets users add comment with specific reference to any paragraph of the blog post, which is kind of cool, considering how hard is to quote blog texts. Now you just get one cute ‘+’ sign close to the paragraph, over which you’re hovering (no mobile support, sorry), and if you click on that, you can leave comment instantly.

The same comment appears just like any other “legacy” comment below the post, but also with handy “reference” link to the paragraph you commented.

Together with Inline Comments, I decided also to install and run WP Ajaxify Comments, as these two compliment each other in quite nice way. As this is serious change to the overall comments experience, I will watch closely how it goes. Don’t hesitate to drop me a word, if you see any problems whatsoever.

So far I’m loving it :). And I hope Inline Comments will stay for a while on this blog.