Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Google Calendar with Thunderbird or Seamonkey

Regardless whether you are using Thunderbird or SeaMonkey, chances are you want to integrate a Google calendar.

Mozilla Thunderbird 5.0 on GNU/Linux
screen shot from Wikipedia

SeaMonkey 2.5 on GNU/Linux
own screen shot, mail client window

The integration is quite simple. The first step is obtaining and installing Lightning, available for both Thunderbird (from this location, shown left) and SeaMonkey (from this location, shown right).

Obtaining lightning

For how to install Add-Ons in Thunderbird see this page; adding them to SeaMonkey is easier, here you just click on them.

While plain Lightning already is a nice calendar it ships with no support for Google Calendar. For this you also need Provider for Google Calendar, again available for both Thunderbird (from this location, shown left) and SeaMonkey (from this location, shown right).

Obtaining provider for Google Calendar
For an explanation on how to configure Lightning to access your Google Calendar, allow me to point you to make use of's “How To: Integrate Google Calendar Into Thunderbird”. Note that while the article explicitly mentions Thunderbird it also applies to SeaMonkey.

Some like it hot

The current prediction for climate change by 2100 is that we are heading for an increase in temperature of 6 Kelvin (6 degrees Celsius or 11 degrees Fahrenheit). And here are some short National Geographics videos outlining an increase in temperature of 1 through 6 Kelvin

Could Just One Degree Change the World?

2 Degrees Warmer: Ocean Life in Danger

3 Degrees Warmer: Heat Wave Fatalities

4 Degrees Warmer: Great Cities Wash Away

5 Degrees Warmer: Civilization Collapses

6 Degrees Warmer: Mass Extinction?

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Hit the Road Jack

A 50 year old song that still sounds great: pARTyzanT plays Hit the Road Jack, a song written by Percy Mayfield and recorded by Ray Charles that 50 years ago was a number one hit on the Billboard Hot 100.

Hit the road Jack!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Totoro main theme on acoustic guitar

lonlonjp playing the “My Neighbor Totoro” theme on an acoustic guitar. For more from this musicians visit his youtube channel.

“M” My Neighbor Totoro Main Theme となりのトトロ 主題歌

The History of English in 10 Minutes

The video contains ten short chapters, namely:
  1. Anglo-Saxon or whatever happened to the Jutes?
  2. The Norman conquest or excuse my English
  3. Shakespeare or a plaque on both his houses
  4. The King James Bible or let there be light reading 
  5. The English of science or how to speak with gravity 
  6. English & Empire or the sun never sets on the English language
  7. The age of the dictionary or the definition of a hopeless task
  8. American English or not English but somewhere in the ballpark
  9. Internet English or language reverts to type
  10. Global English or whose language is it anyway?
Add caption

The deadly touch of the ice stalactite

An ice stalactite or brinicle (brine icicle) is the undersea equivalent of a stalactite or icicle. They form beneath sea ice when a flow of extremely cold, saline water is introduced to an area of ocean water.

BBC Nature: ‘Brinicle’ ice finger of death filmed in Antarctic

The video is the first ever recording of the formation of an ice stalactite and not only shows its beauty but also its deadly power. More at the BBC’s site.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Spanish Vocaloids

After presenting to you some demo songs for the Korean vocaloid SeeU I would now like to introduce you to two Spanish voices, namely Bruno and Clara.

Bruno - Amor, amor, amor [VOCALOID3]

Clara - Tres Cosas (Salud, Dinero y Amor) [VOCALOID3]

Bruno - El Makoki [VOCALOID3]

Bruno & Clara - Juntos Tú y Yo [VOCALOID3]

Clara - Por Una Rosa [VOCALOID3]

Bruno - El manisero [VOCALOID3]

Bruno & Clara - El Trenecito [VOCALOID3]

Korean Vocaloid SeeU

The Vocaloid singing synthesizier has been around for almost 8 years now but until now there only have been voices for English and Japanese. Now you can also obtain voices for Korean and Spanish. Support for Chinese has been announced as well but to my knowledge is not yet available. In this post you find a couple of official demo videos.

Note that there are two versions of the fourth demo song that differ in the absence or presence of the breathing effect which makes the singing sound more natural.

If I am honest I must admit that I better like the version without it breathing effect. If you have a software that can sing without the need to breathe interfering with the performance, what is the point in crippling it down to sound more human when in previous centuries boys have been castrated to come closer to this ideal? If you want to know how a castrato sounds just scroll to the bottom of this post.

[Korean Vocaloid] SV01 SeeU 1st Demo-song M/V

[Korean Vocaloid] SV01 SeeU 2nd Demo-song M/V

[Korean Vocaloid] SV01 SeeU 3rd Demo-song M/V

[Korean Vocaloid] SV01 SeeU 4th Demo-song M/V
(without breathing effect)

[Korean Vocaloid] SV01 SeeU 4th+ Demo-song M/V
(with breathing effect)

[Korean Vocaloid] SV01 SeeU 5th Demo-song M/V

In case that you are curious, here is one of the very few audio recordings of a castrato performance:

Alessandro Moreschi singing “Ave Maria” (1904 recording)

I’ll Occupy song

As “I will survive” and “I’ll occupy” sound quite similar it should not come as a surprise that someone wrote “occupy” lyrics for this widely known song.

“I’ll Occupy” Song:
The 99 is Pissed and We Will Not Be Dismissed!

If you want to sing the song, here are the lyrics:

I’ll Occupy

I first was pepper sprayed
Just standing on the side
But it took me being blinded
to open up up my eyes
Cause I’d read the daily news,
and not responded actively
and I realized then and there
this revolution needed me

So here I am,
camped in a tent
Which is really so convenient
cause I can’t afford my rent
But they came with shields and mace
In the night while it was dark
A NYPD army
Sent to clear Zuccotti Park

We’ll protest on, with catchy phases
We’re going global
From London to Uc Davis
If you think that your batons are going to get us to go home
GO on and hit me, I’ll just upload it from my phone.

Until I die,
I’ll occupy
As long I know how to sit
And hold this heavy sign
cause the 99 is pissed
and we will not BE dismissed
|: I’ll occupy :|
hell yeah

Call us “hippies” call us “homeless,”
yeah we’re fed it.
And we “don’t know what we want,”
to our discredit.
But if you’re reading all the news, funded by the corporations
Its no mystery
How you’ve missed our declaration

We’re armed too
Yeah, we’ve got twitter
We’re a techno savvy nation
And we’re bitter
There’s no Marie Antoinette
We’re dragging to the Guillotine
Got non-violence, you bet!
Cause we aim to keep this clean

We will not go! Bring on the snow!
Got your faceless cooperate body
One peaceful badass foe
We’re awake, we saw Wall-e, and you know we’re organized
Did you think we’d crumble?
Did you think we’d lay down and not try?

Until I die,
I’ll occupy
As long I know how to sit
And hold this heavy sign
cause the 99 is pissed
and we will not be dismissed
|: I’ll occupy :|
|: HELL yeah :|

We’re off our Meds, we’re watching Ted
And we’re into Zombie culture,
But we’re not the walking dead
If you want to fight for justice join the masses, we are strong
And it wouldn’t hurt to take a
minute to repost this song!

Until we die,
We’ll occupy
As long we know how to sit
And hold these heavy sign
cause the 99 is pissed
and we will not be dismissed
|: We’ll occupy :|
HELL yeah

And just in case you really do not know the original “I will survive” song by Gloria Gaynor (which I’d call an abyss in education) here it is:

“I’ll Occupy” Song:
Gloria Gaynor - I Will Survive (Live 1979)

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Monday, November 21, 2011

Strange Google+ sharing behavior

I only add people to my circles who already are on Google+. You can surely understand my surprise when while being about to share a link I was presented the option

☑ Also email 1 person not yet using Google+

1 person not yet using Google+

I beg your pardon? The person in question is not in my mail address book and supposedly is not yet using Google+ so one has to ask what has happened.

My first hypothesis was that Google messed up th message and that the option in fact should read

☑ Also email 1 person currently not using Google+

The obvious next step is verifying someone originally using Google+ has stopped doing so. Said, done.

Elvis has left the buidling

Initial hypothesis turned out to be right. I guess a tactical facepalm is appropriate.

Crowded Skies

I knew that there is quite a number of artificial satellites in space but I did not know how annoying they can be for people photographing stars. Take a look at this Sixty Symbols video introducing the Deep Sky Videos youtube channel.

Spy Satellites (from Deep Sky Videos)

Sebastian Nerz at BBC HardTalk

Zeinab Badawi speaks to Sebastian Nerz, leader of the Pirate Party Germany.

BBC HardTalk mit Sebastian Nerz (Teil 1)

BBC HardTalk mit Sebastian Nerz (Teil 2)

YouTube meets German history, fails miserably

Believe it or not: YouTube recommended SS (Nazi) March songs because I have been listening to the national anthem of the strongly antifascist German Democratic Republic. Now this clearly is an epic fail.

Are you kidding, YouTube?

If you wonder about the brown area in the thumbnail: After consulting the German penal code I covered the SS logo that originally was present because it would have been legally too risky for me to leave them unaltered.


“Made Easy” Errata

Nobody is perfect so it should not come as a surprise that the Made Easy videos are not free from mistakes. Here come the errata videos:

ERRATA

Errata 2

The Scientific Method Made Easy

This Made Easy video provides a very nice explanation of how the scientific method works

The Scientific Method Made Easy

For the above video I use LiveLeaks because the youtube video is not available in Germany due to the German pain in the ass called GEMA.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Story of Broke

In this video the people from the Story of Stuff project argue that the USA by no means is broke but that the use of the money is considerably broken:
The United States isn't broke; we're the richest country on the planet and a country in which the richest among us are doing exceptionally well. But the truth is, our economy is broken, producing more pollution, greenhouse gases and garbage than any other country. In these and so many other ways, it just isn't working. But rather than invest in something better, we continue to keep this 'dinosaur economy' on life support with hundreds of billions of dollars of our tax money. The Story of Broke calls for a shift in government spending toward investments in clean, green solutions—renewable energy, safer chemicals and materials, zero waste and more—that can deliver jobs AND a healthier environment. It's time to rebuild the American Dream; but this time, let's build it better.
The Story of Broke (2011)

How to properly arrange arrays of wind turbines

Researchers at Caltech say that the power output of wind farms can be increased by an order of magnitude (i.e. at least tenfold) simply by optimizing the placement of turbines.

Modern wind farms usually employ propeller-like horizontal-axis wind turbines (HAWTs). The design has the disadvantage that the wake generated by one turbine can interfere with neighboring turbines thereby considerably reducing the energy that is produced. Therefore the individual turbines are placed farther apart than the obvious requirement of their blades not being able to touch dictates.

Alltwalis Wind Farm, Wales by Statkraft on Flickr
License: CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Bigger blades and taller towers allow to use more of the wind and to do so at heights where gusts are more powerful but this results in higher costs, more challenging engineering problems and a larger impact as bigger and taller turbines generate more noise and are more dangerous to birds and bats.

The solution the researchers suggest is using vertical-axis wind turbines (VAWTs) (think of egg-beaters sticking out of the ground) can be positioned very close to one another and optimize their arrangement. Having every turbine turn in the opposite direction of its neighbors also increases their efficiency. Here is a video illustrating how the arrangement looks like:

Caltech Field Laboratory for
Optimized Wind Energy (FLOWE)

In the following video, John Dabiri, the Caltech professor of aeronautics and bioengineering who suggested the design of the wind farm, himself explains what fish schools have to do with it.

Caltech Researchers Find 
Wind-turbine Placement Produces
10-fold Power Increase

More on this:

Human Evolution and Ancestry

Now comes a post that to some people people may be a red rag. It is two video about human evolution and how we all are descendants of Africans.

Human Evolution Made Easy

For the above video I use LiveLeaks because the youtube video is not available in Germany due to the German pain in the ass called GEMA.

Human Ancestry Made easy

How evolution works

The following two videos from the Made Easy series explain how evolution works. The first one deals with natural selection, as this mechanism is central to evolution – note that the full title of Darwin’s famous book is “On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life,” while second one presents evidence for the actual process of evolution.

Natural Selection Made Easy

The Theory of Evolution Made Easy

Note that the chicken displayed as a thumbnail for the second video is very fitting. Believe it or not: chickens are the closest living relatives of the much-feared T. Rex (so if someone asks how T. Rex steaks may taste like, the best guess is “tastes like chicken”).

The Age of Our World Made Easy

This Made Easy episode deals with the question how old Earth is and the scientific evidence that it was not created around 4004 BC.

The Age of Our World Made Easy

The Story of the Earth Made Easy

This Made Easy video explains how scientific understanding of geological formations and the processes leading to them grew over time.

The Story of the Earth Made Easy

Music Video featuring Vocaloids

A very nice music video that tells a story of a woman who differs from all other people in her small village.

【Yowane Haku】 Daughter of White
~English Subbed~

The Origin of Life Made Easy

A video from the Made Easy series dealing with the origin of life.

The Origin of Life Made Easy

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Censorship in Germany

I am quite pissed at the moment. You may recall that I recently wrote the blog entry »Video advertising German military« in which I embedded a youtube video that was put online by bundesregierung, the official youtube channel of the German government.

For several reasons I am currently adding text links pointing to the already posted videos and in this process noticed that the video has been made unavailable by making it private. Here is a backup copy someone made:

Die Bundeswehr online

I do not have an issue with people making videos private but I do have an issue with governments removing information for the only reason that it possibly sheds a negative light on them. Let’s see what wikipedia has to say about political censorship:
Political censorship exists when a government attempts to conceal, distort, or falsify information that its citizens receive by suppressing or crowding out political news that the public might receive through news outlets.
I’d call the youtube channel such an outlet and while the video is an advertisement for the Bundeswehr, it also transports information, namely that the government does not want the Bundeswehr to be the very last resort when having to defend the actual German territory (the purpose for which it was set up) but to take an active role wherever and whenever it is deemed necessary.

Regardless what I personally think about the message (I grew up when the GDR still existed and the shared hope at that time was that the Bundeswehr would never have go to war) it is unacceptable to first put the video online and then a) make it unavailable and b) do so by not altogether taking it offline but simply marking it private.

I am not pissed because they removed the video but because they only pretended to do so while in fact they left it online and only made sure it is not available for the masses. Here is what I wrote to them:

message to bundesregierung (youtube)

Translation: For what purpose has the Bundeswehr video with the ID neNdW5Qx5IM been later [after being put online] made private? Or has it been assumed that this event would go unnoticed?

Weapons Invisible to Metal Detectors

Many people think  metal detectors are efficient against deadly weapons but his video from the Slingshot channel clearly proves them wrong.

"Invisible" Weapons vs. Ballistic Gelatin

The History of Our Universe Made Easy

Two videos from Potholer54 on the history of our universe and how scientists little by little learned about it.

The History of Our Universe Made Easy, Part 1

The History of Our Universe Made Easy, Part 2

Cosmic rays causing global warming

A video by potholer54 on fact (what a certain scientific article actually says) and fiction (what certain blogs report it says).

Are cosmic rays causing global warming?

Friday, November 18, 2011

Joe Hisaishi: First Love

You need not like animes (for which he has written quite a number of pieces of music) in order to love Mamoru Fujisawa’s music. This particular piece is from Tales from Earthsea, a 2006 Japanese animated fantasy film directed by Gorō Miyazaki and produced by Studio Ghibli that is (loosely) based on Ursula K. Le Guin’s Earthsea series.

Joe Hisaishi 久石 譲-First Love

While possessing a stylistically distinct sound, his music has been known to explore and incorporate different genres, including minimalist, experimental electronic, European classical, and Japanese classical.

Keith Olbermann on Michael Bloomberg

Actually he speaks of morons in general and why morons were the people who actually brought forward the USA and then picks Michael Bloomberg as a fine specimen of moronhood.

Keith Olbermann Special Comment On Michael Bloomberg

A very nice a cappella song

I found this song among my youtube recommendations and liked it a lot so please allow me to share it:

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Simply Explained: 2011 Nobel Price in Physics

Physics Nobel Prize 2011 - Sixty Symbols: “Studying supernovae and the accelerating universe - and a bet over a bottle of whisky. It's our take on the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physics, won by Saul Perlmutter, Brian P Schmidt and Adam G Riess.”

Physics Nobel Prize 2011 - Sixty Symbols

Hungry Monkeys

This somehow reminds me of a clearance sale.

Cheezburger : Hungry Hungry Monkeys

The Beatles in theoretical high energy physics

The Beatles cannot possibly have anything to do with the field of theoretical high energy physics, can they? Wrong you are! ☺

The following is a small excerpt from “General second order scalar-tensor theory, self tuning, and the Fab Four” by Christos Charmousis, Edmund J. Copeland, Antonio Padilla, and Paul M. Saffin. You are definitely not expected to be able to understand the formulas (leave alone what Einstein has to do with the indices on the right not occurring on the left).

John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrision, and Ringo Starr

There you have it: The Fab Four in physics.

Video advertising German military

An advertisement for the German Bundeswehr.

Die Bundeswehr online
Video has been made private, investigating why
Fortunately there is a backup version

One thing is for certain: the version of the national anthem you hear in this video definitely does not fit in. Why didn’t they use a rock version like this one?

Deutsche Nationalhymne - Rockversion

Russian Anthem, Rock Version

This is a very nice version of the Russian anthem (which is the old Soviet anthem with a new text). Say what you like about the Soviet Union, its anthem was one of the greatest ever composed.

Russian Rock Anthem HQ

Owl cuteness ♥

So you think that owls cannot be cute? Allow me to prove you wrong.

Lovely Owl

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Ave Maria on the Glass Harp

Robert Tiso playing the glass harp: Ave Maria by Franz Schubert

Ave Maria on glass harp

Youtube Videos on Blogger

Suppose you want to add http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7XkmLj33Md0 – 「【鏡音リン】ココロ【手書きPV】」 – to a Blogger post. You are then presented the following three methods to do so:

Upload a file from your computer
Search a video on YouTube, then add it
Chose one of your YouTube videos

For legal reasons you can rule out the first and last option. So what remains is option 2: you need to search for the video by its Japanese description.

Even if you overcome the initial hurdle and manage to enter (or copy and paste) the title you are still in trouble: in this particular case you are presented with a lot videos that match the search term, all carrying descriptions in Japanese:

あなた(anata)(wa)日本語(nihongo)(ga)わかりますか(wakarimasuka)
Do you understand Japanese?
Fortunately there IS a simple solution to this problem that a) works without non-ASCII characters and b) results in precisely the video you want. The first idea is to paste the URL into the search box. Unfortunately this does not work out as expected:

Search for full URL
 But using the URL is almost the solution; what you actually need to use is the video’s id; in the case of  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7XkmLj33Md0, the ID is “7XkmLj33Md0”. Sometimes youtube URLs are longer, in such cases you need to locate the “v=” part and use everything up to a “&” or  “#” (it should have 11 characters).

Search for video ID only
As you see I am now presented just one single choice and it is the correct video. If you do not trust me try the above method using a different URL.

【鏡音リン】ココロ【手書きPV】

Update on “Google+ and YouTube”: Issue has been fixed

The issue I reported in “Google+ and Youtube” has been fixed. You can again add YouTube videos to Google+ posts by simply pasting the URL.

Strauß on the Glass Harp

In this video, Robert Tiso plays “The Blue Danube” by Johan Strauss II on a glass harp.

The Blue Danube Waltz on glass harp

“The Blue Danube” is the common English title of „An der schönen blauen Donau“, Op. 314 (German for On the Beautiful Blue Danube), a waltz by the Austrian composer Johann Strauss II, composed in 1866. Originally performed 13 February 1867 at a concert of the Wiener Männergesangsverein (Vienna Men's Choral Association), it has been one of the most consistently popular pieces of music in the classical repertoire.

Mad bull prevails over matador

In this video a mad bull prevails over a matador in a very funny manner. You could also say that the matador fails on an epic scale.

Diablo Loco - A Spanish Matador
Aniboom Animation by Stuart Hallock & Heath Grant

Google+ and YouTube

YouTube – like Google+ – is operated by Google. This however does not stop them from showing only limited compatibility. Here is an example:


I first tried to add the video on Google+ by just pasting the youtube URL and only got an annoying message. This is strange as it used to work until recently. You still can add videos but only in a more time-consuming way.

Update (2011-11-15, 2000 Zulu): The above issue no longer exists. Thank you, Google.

Igor Presnyakov Live in Hamburg

In case you still do not know this great musician it is high time to learn about him. Here is a live video of him performing live at Hamburg. For more about him visit his YouTube channel (with now over 200 000 subscribers and over 100 Million video views) or his website that has just (as in “a couple of minutes ago”) been relaunched.

Igor Presnyakov Live in Hamburg

If I am not mistaken I subscribed his channel back in 2009. His popularity seems to have grown considerably since that time.