University as a drug gang?

My daughter attends University courses and knows my personal points of view enough to hand me this interesting post by Alexandre Afonso about University job managing. I left academic environment when I was young as I started understanding the way things went there… and not only in Italy, as you can see.

The drug gang analogy is obviously provocative but very effective. It is not anyway aimed at stressing the way you must act (not selling drug neither just teaching for “your” professor, but serving him/her in every way, at least in Italy).



How to get rid of Bing in new Firefox tab

As I wrote in another post, I like posting solutions to problems I would like to find directly in search engines… but I have not found.

Since some week ago my wife has noted that opening new tabs in Firefox she did not find the usual list of favourite sites, but Bing search page. This is one thing I just cannot stand. I do not want someone else change my selection, by Jove!

So I searched the Net a lot, and found many people were affected by this annoyance and solutions were quite convoluted.  Fortunately I can report that, after a long and fatiguing search, I eventually found this great link.

Very simply, if you search the page, you will find near the lower left corner an active link to reset! I hope this helps…

RMAP – important resource

Weather-Station-128x128I would like to be the first or one of first people quoting it: RMAP project. It is a very interesting initiative for a network of environmental data agents. The acronym stays for Rete di Monitoraggio Ambientale Partecipativo (Environmental and Participated Monitoring Network).

RMAP provides a whole set of – absolutely open source – tools, from hardware sensors up to web server for data gathering and distributing.

I am sure you will hear again about it. For the meanwhile… stay in touch.

Raspberry Pi: how to read pin status without shutting it down in Python

From now on, sometimes I would like to publish results of internet searching… that I did NOT find. The results I wanted and I found after just after a long wandering.


Raspi-PGB001_reasonably_small When you work with Raspberry Pi, and you are controlling something via output port, say a relay, you can have set a status on it, i.e. you can have put it HIGH, with the usual

import RPi.GPIO as GPIO
GPIO.setup(25, GPIO.OUT)
GPIO.output(25, HIGH)

Then, some times after, you are willing to know if pin 25 is HIGH o LOW. You have forgot it, or you are not you, but another person willing to know that. Problem: if you set pin 25 as input, you suddenly switch off it. So DO NOT DO this, in the same or another program:

GPIO.setup(25, GPIO.IN)
print GPIO.input(25)

because you will always get a False, at least with default pullups.

Fortunately the answer is simple: just set that pin as output… but read it!

GPIO.setup(25, GPIO.OUT)
print GPIO.input(25)

and you will get a True or a False depending on the real status.

LibreOffice vs OpenOffice 1-0 in pdf editing

I recently discovered that I can open directly (File->Open) pdfs  in my LibreOffice on Windows. I am eager LibreOffice logoto try in Ubuntu at home. Anyway, as presented in this interesting column, the same is not valid for OpenOffice: sure, you can use an extension, but it is a frankly awkward path you need follow…

LibreOffice opens it in LibreOffice Draw, and you can edit it like any other Draw document, so you can alter, delete, or add any item you like. If you, as usual for me, just want to “edit pdf”, remember to export to pdf exiting!

How I met Ubuntu Linux

In the simplest way: I was a lazy Windows user, but curious about Linux. I remembered I had tried something many years before, and I had a vague but not so good memory: yes, pretty, but too difficult, good for initiates.

But when my old PC broke, I changed a lot of hardware, and I didn’t want to fuss over neither complicated and expensive Windows licenses, nor piracy. So I gave Linux a chance: I took the usual (in 2008) Ubuntu CD-ROM sold with a magazine issue and put it in the tray. If you, dear Ubuntu, start smoothly, I will foster you. And that’s what happened.

Everything went fine, no strange questions, no locking. Ubuntu was not so difficult, and much, much more similar to my usual environment than I expected. Five years have passed since then, and now Ubuntu is my usual environment.

So, dear reader, please give you too a chance to Linux: the only thing you really risk, if you reflect, is to find a free and live resource!

Pomodoro pauses

pomodoro_techniqueSome time ago I stumbled across this interesting column. The conclusion is:

Of course, not every mental activity can or should be performed while walking, but this new research reinforces anecdotal evidence and other research findings that suggest being too tightly chained to our desks is bad for our minds as well as our physical health. Science shows we often have creative breakthrough when our minds are disengaged from the problem we’re wrestling with, hence the common experience of getting great ideas while relaxing in the shower.

Getting up for a walk or a jog is another way to achieve this sort of head space–after all, it worked for Einstein and Charles Darwin

It seems to me a strong reinforcement of the importance of pomodoro technique. I make use of this technique quite often, and – al least in my case – I find that its usefulness is strongly linked to the necessity to break your activity after at most 25 minutes. In fact I find it difficult to stop my task(s) and I end up getting too tired and not productive.