DRM-Free e-books

Recently I have bought a new e-reader, the Kobo Aura HD. I’m very happy with it. My previous reading device was a 7.7″ Android tablet (Samsung Galaxy 7.7), which is, by itself, an excellent device, but where it fails (just like all other tablets), is when it comes to reading outside in the sunlight. It can not cope with the external light, the glare and reflection of the screen, and does not deliver enough contrast.
So enters the e-paper e-reader..

Having such a new toy also made me start reading again on a higher pace, so I continued with the “A Song of Ice And Fire” series. I have the bundle with the 4 books which I bought through Amazon. Of course, that (like most of their books), came with DRM installed.
After a little hassle to have the DRM stripped, so I could import the book into Calibre, which runs on my Linux PC, it reads perfectly on my new device. But that raised me the following question for my future reading:

What e-book shop offers A Dance of Dragons DRM-free?

Both the Kobo webshop and Amazon have Adobe DRM, which is an extra hassle to import in Calibre.

Shops without DRM have my preference. Shops that “Do it well”TM are O’Reilly and InformIT which offer DRM-free books. O’Reilly even pushes them automatically to Kindle and Google Drive, and both offer plain downloads from their website in various formats (Kindle, PDF, EPUB, .. ).

That’s how it should be, let the consumer choose his reading device. Walled gardens are inconvenient. The music industry has realized that as well. Next should be book and movie/series publishers.

In short. I prefer e-book shops that make my lazy life easier. Get to work, and you have an extra customer.

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Dear NMBS (dutch)

Beste heer, mevrouw

Op 31/01/2012 was ik mijn abonnement thuis vergeten op mijn gewoonlijke rit van Gent-Brussel en terug. Toen de persoon van Ticket Control kwam is een Vaststelling van Onregelmatigheid opgemaakt (C170) en toen vroeg deze persoon of ik eerder al mijn abonnement was vergeten. Ik ben me bewust dat dit een beperkt aantal keren kan, op jaarbasis. Maar de persoon van Ticket Control informeerde mij dat het geen probleem zou zijn, aangezien, volgens hem/haar, het aantal vaststellingen in het begin van het jaar terug op 0 wordt gezet.

Met dit in gedachten heb ik mij vandaag (06/02/2012) naar het loket in Brussel Centraal begeven om aan te tonen dat ik een rechtsgeldig vervoerbewijs bezit. De persoon aan het loket vroeg me echter om 7,x euro te betalen (ik ben het exacte bedrag na de komma vergeten). Dit verwonderde mij aangezien de persoon van Ticket Control anders beweerde. Echter de persoon achter het loket zei dat het in een aansluitende periode van 1 jaar was.
Nu is het wel verwarrend welke informatie de juiste blijkt te zijn.

Echter, indien het de 2e optie blijkt te zijn, zou ik graag afzien van deze betaling, met wel de volgende reden.. Op maandag 30 januari 2012 is een algemene staking afgekondigd. Om mij van Gent naar Brussel te kunnen verplaatsen heb ik dan 1) de wagen moeten nemen, en 2) nog een parkeerplaats moeten betalen, die in centrum Brussel makkelijk oploopt tot 14.90 voor een hele werkdag. Enkel deze parkeerplaats is al het dubbele van wat ik moest betalen.
Zo ook is eenzelfde staking aangekondigd voor 15 februari. Dan ben ik dus al het viervoudige van mijn boete kwijt aan een gebrek aan dienstverlening, terwijl ik reeds een abonnement van 3 maanden heb betaald, en waarvoor ik geen compensatie kan krijgen. En daarboven op zou ik nog die boete moeten betalen, ondanks ik reeds een legitiem abonnement heb.

Ik hoop dat u daar begrip voor kan opbrengen. Ik kan wel begrip opbrengen dat het voor de NMBS een vorm van overmacht is als het personeel staakt, maar daar mag de treinreiziger die reeds betaald heeft niet de dupe van worden, EN daarenboven nog eens geconfronteerd worden met een regel die voor die legitieme treinreiziger overkomt als een vorm van pesterij.

Dus daarom vraag ik af te zien van die boete en nogmaals dat u daarvoor ook begrip kan opbrengen.

Met vriendelijke groet,

Christopher Ranschaert.

Lost harddisk

As promised earlier, I’d be writing a small blogpost today. And I had warned before it was on a geekier subject than booze.. Although some people might have another opinion about that.

Last week I had lost my primary harddrive which contained my root directory and home directory. Fortunately as various thousands of websites have suggested, I have backups of the most important things. Now of course, you always forget to include some new things in your backup plan, which was the case here, as I didn’t consider enough space just yet for a full image of all my data. Yes, that’ll be my upcoming correction and we all learn from our mistakes now, don’t we?

The main symptom:

When booting the PC, the disk is not recognized by the BIOS anymore. Normally at POST you should get an ID of your disks. Unfortunately nothing appeared, so my heart sank seeing that, as no other signs of breaking were seen nor heard..

Attempts to fix:

  • Fiddling the cables:
  • Of course one of the first things you check are loose cables, wires, .. Nothing seemed to be wrong. Pulling out all other disks, leaving this broken one alone and lonely under my watchful glare.. didn’t seem to do the trick. So let’s try different cables, SATA ports, all to no avail.. The idea that the problem was to be found here was shoved aside rather quickly.

  • Take it out and insert it into a bay:
  • Leaving the idea of cabling errors, in came the docking bay. Thanks to [shameful commercial]Coolblue’s quick orders[/shameful commercial] I managed to get a Sharkoon dual bay the next day already. Hooked it up, and I almost jumped up and down as a small kid (I have a perfect example of that running around here, half of the time), plugged in the disk, connected it to the PC and booted.. That childishly enthusiasm quickly dissipated when the appropriate “dmesg” output simply.. didn’t appear.. nada, nothing, zilch.. Plugging in a different disk did work, so the bay was not at fault, fortunately). Off to the next option then..

  • Freeze the bastard:
  • While searching for other methods, I came across the following site:
    Emerging Techs – Put Your Hard Drive in the Freezer to Recover Data
    After reading through various enthusiastic successes, I decided to attempt this as well. You never know what miracle crosses your way. So MrDisk was put into the plastic bag, carefully closed and into the freezer for a night. With the same enthusiasm as before I took it out the next day and put it into the bay for testing. The disk spun up again, although much slower than before, but as time passed, and it became warmer, this got better.

Unfortunately, this post doesn’t come with a happy ending.. This didn’t fix my disk either, although many stories seemed to suggest to give it at least a shot. Fortunately there’s still warranty on the disk so it’ll be prepped for RMA.
Fortunately most media, and some code, have been carefully saved already, unfortunately a few things have not been..
But this is a good wake-up call for an important lesson : “Better backups!”

Recipe – Spiced Vodka – Quentao – “Christmas Vodka”

Note: This was posted on Facebook before, but is well fit for here as well.

About 10 years ago, I got in touch with this vodka when it was prepared by a good brazilian friend of mine. She’s given me the recipe, which I’ve adapted a bit to my wishes.

The original recipe included the following ingredients:

  • vodka
  • ginger
  • clove
  • cinnamon
  • sugar

I’ve exchanged the sugar with honey, which gives a better taste, yet that’s a personal preference.

So what do you need in order to prepare for this:

Yet I’ve never really noted the quantities, I’ll try to give them as I used them to make 4 bottles at once, last time. I think it’s easier to tune the taste when you prepare bigger quantities.

Note: As I don’t know the exact quantities, I’ve tried to visualize them.

Ingredients (quantities for 4 bottles)

  • vodka (use a cheap one, you will obliterate any difference in taste anyway)
  • dried clove (quantity : a single layer on your handpalm)
  • ginger (quantity : about a single but big root)
  • cinnamon sticks (quantity : take the amount of sticks that fit inside the circle you make with your middle finger and your thumb)
  • One pot of honey (500gr)

Preparations:

  • Peel the ginger root, and cut into it into blocks, you may want to fit some in the bottles after the drink has been poured in.
  • Break the cinnamon sticks into smaller pieces.

Mixing it all together.

Pour all the vodka, ginger, clove and cinnamon sticks into the big pot, and put it on a stove. Turn up the heating, and stir. As the mix is getting warmer, add the honey.. It will more easily dissolve and come off the spoon or whatever utensils you’re using.
Heat up until it’s boiling and turn off the heating. Close the lid and let it rest for 30 minutes.

Now comes the hardest work (and slowest, if you only have one funnel).
Get your bottles, your funnel(s) and paper towels ready. The paper towels are meant for filtering the mixture, as it contains a lot of cruft from the ginger and cinnamon, that comes free after the cooking and stirring.

Make about 4 layers of paper towels and put them in the funnel. Slowly pour the mixture through the paper towel filter. Due to the honey you’ll see that it clogs up rather quickly. (This is the main reason I didn’t use coffee filters, they’re even worse.). After a little while, you’ll have to squeeze out the last drops from the paper-towel-filter, otherwise you loose too much. Be careful, as it easily rips open.

When this is done, there you have your spiced vodka.
You could opt to add some ginger blocks and cinnamon sticks in the bottle to draw some more taste.

Quantities can still be adjusted to your own taste, of course. I still consider this recipe imperfect and it’s still open for improvement.

Have fun with your creations, and cheers!

Hello world!

Helloo everyone.. I’ ve entered the blooogging world as well..

Let’s not hope too much from this, or even think that this will even contribute to the world. Venting ideas and thoughts would rather be enough already. For the lonely minds who are mindlessly wandering and clicking around on the web, and stumbling on this site by accident.

(Or you are a friend and are interested in what I have to say/mumbojumbo and want to waste your time reading this, of course).

Enjoy, for what it’s worth and see you sometime soon.

Cheers,

Chris.