Hate and Fear

I recently noticed a disturbing trend on social networks. People are much more willing to spread hate speech, racist slurs, anti-islamic propaganda, and extreme right-wing positions than before. I guess there has always been a certain amount of racism and xenophobia in society bubbling slightly under the surface, but now people are way more open about those positions. I especially noticed it in the German corner of the internet, but I guess it’s pretty much the same in other European countries, probably even world-wide.

As a German I am deeply disturbed by the fact that anti-immigrant, racist, and generally hostile ideas are spread openly. From what I’ve seen these ideas are mainly spread by people who feel insecure, weak and powerless, or overwhelmed. They are looking for reasons why they are in such a powerless position and instead of blaming the real culprits, they tend to attack people even weaker than themselves. War refugees, people trying to get political asylum, immigrants, etc. are blamed for everything. In most cases the people spreading this kind of hate are actually not bad people. They are just uninformed and in fear. Alas the media does nothing to set things right, instead major news corporations are using the people’s fears to make a buck. Even the government is happy to distort the facts and use people’s fears to further their agenda. During the financial crisis in Greece many German politicians spread false information about Greece in order to obfuscate what was really going on.

Especially because of Germany’s history I am particular sensitive when it comes to certain behaviours and ideas. In my opinion we have a special responsibilty to make sure that something like the Third Reich never happens again. But with each year that passes I get the impression that many people don’t care about this responsibilty anymore. In politics Germany wields its power over Europe more openly. Gone are the humble days of the Bonn republic. This is pretty obvious when you look at how our government forces its Austerity policies on all Europe. And it can be felt when thousands of people joined the PEGIDA marches to protest against immigration, refugees, and the “islamification” of Europe. Hate and fear are rearing their ugly heads again.

I am sick and tired of this. And I plan to do something about it. At the moment I can’t do that much, but I started by spreading real information over social networks, especially when people who I was “friends” with, shared links to questionable hate-mongering sites. I also openly stated that I don’t accept such things in my stream. Since I am both active in a political party and a workers union I try to use my positions to actively fight everything from racism to islamophobia. Instead of keeping my mouth shut, I tell everyone where I stand and oppose the spread of lies. I don’t want to remain silent anymore!

To Linux or Not to Linux?

Over the years I – an avid Windows user – have always kept an eye on what’s new in the Linux world. Several Linux distributions have piqued my interest over the years. But even though I dabbled with Linux it never became my number one OS. The main reason is probably that I love to play computer games and the vast majority of games hasn’t been ported to Linux yet.

I’ve had some hopes for Steam OS, but it’s not meant as a replacement for Windows but more like the OS for a Linux-powered console. One Linux distribution in particular has caught my eye lately: Elementary OS. It looks a bit like MacOS X and has been praised by fans and critics alike. But again, it’s highly unlikely that I’ll use it on my main PC.

But I recently acquired a Windows-based tablet, which should run Linux as well. Since it’s a different beast than my main gaming machine, I could try using Elementary OS on it. I don’t play that many games on my tablet anyway. BUT I have no clue how well the various Linux distributions support touchscreens if at all. Has anyone of you tried to install Elementary OS or a similar Linux distro on a Acer Aspire Switch 10? Please share your experiences below.

The threat of nuclear war

After the fall of the Berlin Wall and the decline of the Soviet Union many people believed the nuclear threat was a thing of a past. But even though both the US and Russia have reduced the number of nuclear weapons in their arsenals, the actual destructive power hasn’t decreased – quite the contrary. The bombs that destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki are what we nowadays call tactical nuclear weapons, and mere firecrackers compared to modern strategic nuclear weapons.

Strangely enough the risk of nuclear war was much lower during the Cold War than today. Back in the day the US and the Soviet Union kept in touch all the time. The militaries of both sides spoke with each other in order to prevent misunderstandings which could lead to mutual assured destruction. There was the famous red telephone line connecting the White House and the Kremlin directly. All these safeguards don’t exist anymore.

So, why am I writing about all this? Just today I read an article about how the current situation makes World War III more likely than ever. Perhaps the article is a bit alarmist, but I still recommend anyone to read it. The only way to get out of this dire situation is to realize that there’s an actual risk and finally ban ALL nuclear weapons.

What happened to “The Mysterious Explorations of Jasper Morello”?

About 10 years ago “The Mysterious Explorations of Jasper Morello”, an Australian animated short movie, was released on YouTube. The story was set into a steampunk work with flying ships and mechanical computers, which not only delighted the fans but critics alike. The movie was nominated for an Oscar and a BAFTA award, three sequels were promised, but alas they were never released. Today the official website is not working anymore and the short movie itself is only available in 480p on Youtube. Has anyone of you read what happened to the missing sequels? Is there anywhere a HD version of this film?

[youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vORsKyopHyM]

Please share your comments below.

Some thoughts on the Acer Aspire Switch 10 FHD

A while back I was looking for affordable Windows 8.1 tablets when I stumbled upon the Acer Aspire Switch 10 FHD. While I was pretty happy with my 10″ Android tablet there were numerous occasions when I really wished I had a Windows notebook. But on the other hand I wasn’t really interested in getting a full-blown notebook. But a 10″ Windows tablet with a proper keyboard seemed to be a perfect fit for me.

After doing some research I found out everything I ever wanted to know about the Aspire’s strengths and weaknesses. One of its strengths is definitely its 1920×1200 display which looks extremely sharp and has vibrant colors. Its biggest weakness is the detachable keyboard. While the keyboard itself is ok, the trackpad is definitely not that great. But since you can plugin a mouse or just use the touchscreen, this is luckily not that much of a problem after all.

Usually you pay about €430 for the 64 GB version, but I got one from Amazon Warehouse Deals for about €210. I just had to get it! Since then I have used it almost daily and several times I was impressed how well it ran. Of course you can’t play modern games on it, but some of the older games I got on GoG.com ran fine. The Aspire Switch 10 also runs the latest Microsoft Office without any issues. Full-HD videos are no problem as well. I played videos on Youtube, Amazon Prime, and Netflix. For the latter I used the Windows app, which is actually pretty nice. The tablet also has a micro-HDMI output which allows me to connect it to my TV.

One of the first things I tried when I got this tablet was Steam In-Home-Streaming. To my surprise it worked extremely well. Before I got the Aspire Switch I considered getting a Steamlink to be able to play games in my living room, but the tablet seems to be a viable alternative. So what do I use the tablet for? Basically I use it for everything I used my Android tablet for: Listening to music, browsing the web, watching movies on Youtube and Netflix, reading PDFs, listening to audiobooks, and some gaming. By the way, the quality of the speakers is pretty good for a tablet.

If you are now tempted to get one yourself, I have a few pieces of advice:

  1. Make sure you do some research. Perhaps there’s another device more suited for your needs. For me having a Full-HD display was very important, but you may be happy with a 1280×800 one.
  2. Get the 64 GB version. And even then you should considering getting a MicroSD card to add even more memory. Windows 8.1 takes up a lot of memory, and the Aspire Switch comes with a pre-installed version of Office 365, so there’s not that much space left for your programs and data.
  3. Get a nice case and perhaps a few accessories. Since the keyboard has only one USB slot (and there’s only one micro-USB slot on the tablet) you should consider a USB hub. I also recommend getting a micro-HDMI-to-HDMI cable if you want to connect the tablet to your TV. And an external HDD never hurts. 😉

Overall I didn’t regret buying the Acer Aspire Switch 10 FHD – not even for a second. It’s a pretty cool device for a good price (if you don’t pay full price, like me). If you have any questions, feel free to post them below!

Chronicle

Last week I was browsing Amazon for movies on BluRay when I stumbled upon “Chronicle“. The title didn’t ring a bell, but the cover looked kinda interesting, so I gave it a closer look. It turned out that I actually had seen the trailer a couple of years ago, but then forgot about the movie. Since I liked the premise of the movie, I put it into my shopping cart.

Chronicle is a movie about three teenagers who stumble upon some strange crystal which grants them telekinetic powers. As you can imagine things quickly spiral out of control. One of the three, a reclusive young man with an abusive father and a dying mother, starts to misuse his powers while the others try to keep him under control.

[youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i-M5Qx57_UU]

Chronicle is basically a superhero movie, but with a more realistic take on the subject. With power comes great responsibility, that may be true for Spiderman, but in real life power often leads to corruption. What really surprised me that I haven’t really heard or read much about Chronicle in the last years. The story is interesting, the characters are believable, and it’s a welcome change from the standard superhero fare. I guess that it’s probably not superhero-y enough for the comic fans and too weird fo the mainstream crowd, so it didn’t make a big impact. It’s not a great movie, but definitely a good one, and probably worth your time.

Kung Fury!

I am pretty sure that most of you have already watched this awesome short movie. But if you haven’t you should drop what you’re doing right now and WATCH IT NOW!

Kung Fury is a crowdfunded short movie inspired by the over-the-top action movies of the 1980s. It features a hilarious story, 1980s-style special effects, dinosaurs, Hitler, laughable one-liners and extreme violence. It’s the perfect movie to watch after a long work day!

[youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bS5P_LAqiVg]

I also highly recommend the music video to the song “True Survivor” performed by David Hasselhoff.

My favorite Skyrim mods

Recently I started playing The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim again. If you’re playing on a PC, half of the fun is modding the game to suit your preferences. This time I decided to keep things pretty close to the original game, but added a couple of mods to make things prettier. Below you’ll find a couple of screenshots made in the game and a list of mods I used. You can find all mods in the Steam Workshop.

The mods I used are:

If you have any questions, please post them in the comment section below!