From one Galaxy to another

Those who know me well will know that I am picky with technology, and I felt that my trusty old Samsung Galaxy S6 was doing a great job. If it works, don’t fix it! But, at long last, the battery is worn out and won’t last even half a day. This put me in a position where I had to do something: spend money to have the phone serviced (to install a replacement battery that is presumably also 5 years old), or buy a new phone.

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Don’t get fooled: Phishing was yesterday, here comes smishing!

Summary: This scam tries to trick you into filling a form with your payment information which signs you up to a subscription that costs, in this case, €40 per month!

The other day I received a text message that led to a phishing scam. I didn’t fall for the scam but I thought it would have convinced many people that I know, so I decided to publish this as a general warning and reminder to everyone to stay vigilant.

In these modern times I often order stuff online, and the attackers use this trend to catch people unawares. This attack started out in a fairly believable manner: a notification that a package has been held up in the distribution central.

Undeliverable package! Status: your package has been held up in the distribution central. Track your package: [short link]

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How large is the broad side of a barn, anyway?

Of course you know the idiom “can’t hit the broad side of a barn” of someone who has poor aim. That’s from 1852.

But how large is the broad side of a barn, anyway? Would you be surprised to learn that scientists have actually worked that out? And why do I know this??

Some time ago, I was trying to find a way to remember my license plate that ends with the letters “FB”. I don’t like a particular social media site so I was googling for other things that use those letters and discovered that it is also a unit of measurement used in particle physics: fb means femtobarn. I immediately chose that as my mnemonic simply because of its nerdy obscurity.

What I want to share here is its ridiculous back story: what the hell is a femtobarn?! Continue reading

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Achievement unlocked: maintain “inbox zero” for a year

“Inbox zero” means having no messages in your “IN” tray (and keeping it that way). This is not meant to be a goal in itself, but it’s a clear sign of whether you’re staying on top of things, and it lowers the general stress level. That’s remarkably easy with Outlook, even without any fancy add-on gimmicks.

Without trying very hard, I have managed to keep my email inbox at work at zero every day. It’s not because I don’t get any mail – it’s because Outlook makes it so easy to track open tasks with one or two clicks, even when the email itself is moved to a subfolder.

It’s easy enough to clear out the inbox – just dump everything into a subfolder, or just straight up archive or delete it. Gone. Done. See? Yay!

Not so fast – the real challenge is the “keeping it that way” part. Since I joined SDS last year I have enjoyed getting back to using Outlook again instead of Lotus Notes for almost two decades straight, ugh! I am frankly amazed at myself because with Outlook I have finally been able to maintain “inbox zero” all this time. I feel it’s worth sharing my method in the following. Continue reading

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Get fooled by this photo

“Big boys have big toys,” as they say. The obvious downside is that big toys are expensive. I’d love to drive around some tricky off-road terrain in a Land Rover Defender, but solid off-road trucks cost at least one year’s worth of salary (or two, or three…). Luckily there’s a loophole here: Radio-controlled models are much cheaper and still provide lots of entertainment.

The RC hobby gives me all of the fun for a fraction of the cost. Mind you, RC models aren’t toys. They can easily cost upwards of €1000 and contain a lot of real-world mechanics that requires the same skills to use and maintain, just in a smaller scale.

So here I am: having fun driving this awesome model Defender. It’s 1:10 scale so it’s about 65cm long and nearly 25cm wide, and weighs nearly 5kg. It is so detailed that many people can’t tell it’s a model by looking at a photo. And that’s what today’s article is about: fooling people.

(click images to enlarge them)

This is a photo I took at an off-road event this April. That Pinzgauer in the background is indeed full-scale and I rode it to the event. Full-scale cars were doing what they do best and my model car did the same in between them, to cheers from the full-scale drivers.  Continue reading

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