Monday, 1 April 2019

Podcasts (and my way home)

Asa a lot of other people, I have the problem of how to spend the time while I am in the car. Well, of course, the first thing to do -as everyone says - is to drive. With all the needed attention, obviously.

But, while you're driving, you may also use your ear to listen to something.

Yes, music is the first choice. It has been my first choice for many, many years. But sometimes you want to be exposed to something that is not exactly musical, in a strict sense. There is a lot of richness, out there.

You can embrace podcasting, for example.

Podcasts are wonderful when you're driving.


They are made often by speech, and are not so loud and invasive as - say - death metal music, so you can hear the sounds outside your car. Which can be a very good thing, if you're driving (after all, the world outside claim your attention).

One thing I appreciate of Spotify (among others) is that it includes a section devoted to podcast. Which is not automatic, for a streaming service (for what I know, Google Music features no podcasting yet).  Unfortunately, not all the podcast are present inside Spotify, so I must rely on a dedicated app if I want to really have access to all the richness out there. I have chosen Pocket Casts because, while it's not free, for a small amount of money it gives you an endless river of possibility and you have the real chance to configure an environment exactly as you like.

Oh, and another possibility is given by audiobooks, of course. Admittedly, I am a not so avid consumer of audiobook and, as occasional listener, I do prefer not to rely on a monthly subscription, as possible with Audible and similar services. So I take advantage of the audiobook section of Google Books, which it's perfect for anyone who likes audiobooks but do not want to add another regular channel of expense. 

Granted, there are plenty of possibility to explore to make the way home (or work) less boring, in case of heavy traffic. But, to be honest, my really preferred choice, it seems not available yet...

Credits: "Star Trek"






Saturday, 23 March 2019

Sunset, from the Observatory

In these days, it's a particular pleasure to come out from the Observatory (Rome Astronomical Observatory, which actually it's not in the city but in the outskirt) to admire the beautiful and very suggestive sunsets, wonderful moments that only nature can produce.

I've taken some pictures, using my cell phone, a couple of days ago. The pics feature the city in the evening, and part of the beautiful park that surrounds the buildings of the observatory. In the first you can see understand how majestic can be the city in this very peculiar moment of the day... 

Rome in the evening...

The second picture shows a gorgeous tree in the park, which captured my attention just before I entered in my car to return home...

A wonderful tree...

There is a true glory in each sunset, there is no feeling of loss but something, like a hidden promise, a promise to feel at home in the universe, to find a place that you truly can call home. 

With stars, a lot of glimmering stars, all around you.

Thursday, 3 January 2019

Open Source and Linux, in 2019

From  an interesting article that appeared in the middle of 2018, you could understand that the things kept moving,  last year, for the Open Source ecosystem.
This is open source beyond Linux and, according to Zemlin, is indicative of one of the best years and most robust periods at The Linux Foundation itself. 
That's just fine and it's also pleasant, that the Open Source movement becomes each day more robust.

But it's more interesting, in these days, to see what kind of previsions can be made about the state of one of the most successful open source project: I'm talking obviously of Linux, the free operating system.

Ok... Ready for 2019? 

Speaking of that, the pages of Linux Journal hosts a very interesting conversation between "the leaders of three of the most prominent Linux distros of the day", namely Debian Project, elementary, Fedora Project.  

Thinks are moving fast for Linux, as you know: they always do it. Even in 2019 we can enucleate some trends, seeking the best rising linux distros, and trying to understand the reasons behind their upcoming fortune: it's what happens in a detalied article of TechRadar. Well, you might be surprised in seeing that one of the five selected distro is really one of the most ancient one... but no more spoilers, even in I guess you already understood! 

It's also worth a look the 5 Linux Prediction for 2019 from UMG!Ubuntu! website. From all listed, for me the most interesting is surely #4, about novel hardware. If Linux has really to land on common people's desktops (which is a theme almost recurrent in the last ten years or so...) it has to be easy, really easy, and fully integrated with the specific hardware. 

We are in 2019 now. People wants computers and mobile devices that works out of the box. Besides all, wars of opinions like windows or linux or mac have completely loosen sense now, in the age of instant communication and social media. If it works well, it's fine. Even better, if it's cheap and work well.

From the quoted article, on Linux Journal,
 I still have big printed manuals for a few early Linux versions, which, back then, were necessary for getting just about everything working (from X11 to networking and sound). Heck, sometimes simply getting a successful boot required a few trips through those heavy manuals. Ah, those were the days.
Well, those days (those glorious days) are gone.

Is exactly on this ground that linux on desktop may gain its sense.
It's a great challenge, because both macOS and Windows are very complete and polished operating system, featuring great integration with mobile devices.

It's a great challenge. Let's see what happen, during this new year.

Wednesday, 21 November 2018

Sun & the other stars, an astronomical playlist

Nothing more than a playlist on Spotify, admittedly. No more than a funny game, if you want. A collaborative playlist, to be honest. In passing, it's a great thing, the simple possibility to collaborate, to work together on a given list of songs. It opens many intriguing prospectives. I do remember, one of the reason why I made the switch from Google Music to Spotify (not the only one, admittedly), was that in Google Music there was no possibility to cultivate a collaborative playlist. Too bad, for an excellent service, after all. 

Collaborative playlist, to me, it's a great way to take advantage of Internet to build up something more social that a simple list made by a given person, no matter how musical knowledge he may have accumulated into years (since music it's always broader than your inner boundaries). 

No collaborative playlist was possible in the age of vinyl...

When I was a child, when I grew up as a boy, nothing like this simply existed. I could not switch on the computer (if ever), to see what my friend are listening now, to investigate their selected playlists. Frankly speaking, the bare possibility to relate computer to music did appear rather lately, in my not-so-short history. Not to talk of the rest! 

Now, coming back to present, and from an operative point of view: if you are on Spotify also, and you want to take part in this game, you simply can add your favorite songs on the list, for everybody to listen to (and hopefully, enjoy them).

Rules are quite simple, for the selection of songs to include:
  • it must be a song that you like ;-)
  • if it is an instrumental piece, it must have the word Sun or star in the title (to be accurate, any mention of an actual star name is fully allowed)
  • if it is a classical song (with some text inside) the keywords can also be present only in the lyrics. No condition on title is then required.
It goes without saying, that every song that does not fit in the previous rules, can be eventually deleted from the playlist: you understand, while it's nothing more than a musical game, we must preserve it's peculiarity, after all.




As a matter of fact, it's all very simple, as you may see. Anyway I am becoming addicted to this series of songs that, in a way or in another, do refer to the sky and to its bright inhabitants. First thing you realise, listening a few songs from "Sun & the other star, is how great has been the amount of musical effort that has already been spent in themes also loosely related with stars. 

That's all, for now. If you want to take part in this silly little game, connect to the playlist and start adding your favorite "astronomical" songs. Do it now: the universe is just waiting, to hear this "celestial" music ;-) 

Monday, 19 November 2018

Science and poetry, nearest that ever

It's more that obvious, that in the imaginary of the people, disciplines as science and poetry may seems as distant as possible. More than distant, they in fact seems - in a superficial way of looking - as belonging to different universes. 

How can I trust in poetry to understand the real word, one may ask. 

And it may seem a fully reasonable motivation. Scienze is for the knowledge of the "objective" word, after all. Art is for the rest, for what it's connected to the "human part" of anything. 

At a second glance, it turn out that things are not so simple. One may ask, first of all, if there is a objective word, out there. I mean, a word fully independent of me as observer, a word I can investigate as completely detached from me. It's not so assured, in particular after that quantum mechanics has given us the picture of a universe much more interconnected and complicated that we believed once. 



We live a wonderful moment, after all. We live in a world where we can understand again that it exists different way of knowledge (a full spectrum of that, actually), and they are all necessary to be fully present in this word, as human being. Conversely, to restrict only to science make us partial, so that we cannot fully appreciate the gift that - basically - the universe around us do represent.

"Poetry and science are not opposed: they were not opposed at the beginnings of wonder" says the italian poet Davide Rondoni.

As Hawking once said“Physicists and poets may differ in discipline, but both seek to communicate the beauty of the world around us.”

Beauty doesn't allow us to be investigated only quantitatively. In fact, beauty deserves much more. In the present age, science and poetry can regain a wonderful proximity. They can became, in fact, nearest that ever.

Thursday, 30 August 2018

Play Music, or Spotify?

There is a thing I like so much in Google Play Music, and it's the simple beauty of its minimalistic interface. Really much more appealing, to my eyes, in respect (just do say) to the look of Spotify. Nothing to say, Google is still the best, when dealing with style.

Notwithstanding, I find that Play Music do suffer of several limitation, in comparison with a service like Spotify. I'm not talking about the dimension of its musical archive (all these service do have huge archives nowadays), but of some annoying limitation that you can experience when you use it on a daily basis.

Play Music live in your browser, as almost all for Google...


First of all, you cannot sort your collection in any way. In other words, there is no way to alter the default order, in which all your album area listed alphabetically. Spotify (and I guess, many others) give you the freedom to order your collection in a number of different ways: for example, I find very useful to inspect my collection ordering it by the most recents additions, since  it's a simply way to understand what happened recently to your albums, and to recall you something about your more recent tastes.


On Play Music, whenever you add an album, it disappears instantly inside your (huge) collection, so you have to search it patiently among a lot of albums. That's annoying, for sure. Oh, and I have told you something about searching, by the way? Why on Google it's not possible to delimitate a given search inside your collection? Sometimes, you do not have time to browse the whole musical achievements of the humankind, you simply want to recover that specific album from your collection.

Spotify interface. Why only black?

Turns out, doing it on Play Music it's not as simple as you may guess. Yes, on Spotify you can make a search inside your library, neglecting all the rest of the (musical) word. Exactly as you should do with your (ancient, outdated) collection of CDs, or (more recently) with your collection of mp3 files.

That's why the beauty of the interface, all considered, it's not enough for the adoption of one service over the other. That's why, exactly. 

So I'm using Spotify right now. But I can't help but looking to the page of Play Music, from time to time. How simply beautiful it may appear!

Beauty is not all, in this word.




Sunday, 19 August 2018

Oh you beautiful thing

There is a certain beauty on listening the music in Spotify, for sure. One thing, is that you can discover new music, anytime. Music that you did not programmed to listen to, that you did not even expect it exists... There is far more music around, that you can hope to listen to, in all of your life! 

Here it comes Spotify (or an equivalent streaming service). And here it comes the difference between the old way to listen to music (insterting a CD into the player) and the new way (connecting to a streaming service). The last method allow you to be exposed to the unexpected. 

Yes, the unexpected. Since you are downloading a flux of information from an external service, potentially unlimited, and not playing a compact disk, a support with a well defined amount of information, hardcoded on the disk, once for all.

Coming back to my little story: when the streaming of an album of Nick Kershaw was finished (an album that I already knew very well), the system began automatically to select "similar songs" to the ones contained in the album, just before I became aware it was actually finished and that I had to think about what to listen to, now. 

So Spotify played me this song. 





I was surprised. More than surprised. What a beautiful song! And as you can expect, this led me to explore the whole album. An exploration that revealed a lot of other very interesting songs, which I would had never listened, if not casually exposed to this song.

Not all what is modern is bad, after all. Thanks to Spotify, and thanks to Nik for this gorgeous album. Now, what can I expect, next time? From what I will be surprised? Only time will tell... 

Note. This post is also a test, should I return to post on Blogspot? Well, only readers will tell... ;-)