General GarfNet - penguin powered and full of unixy goodness Wed, 18 Jul 2018 08:46:29 +0000 Joomla! 1.5 - Open Source Content Management en-gb "This Is HansinUngarn, from Pécs Hungary..." "...playing his favourite music, I hope you like it."

These are the first words you will hear when you connect to the internet radio stream of Radio Pécs International. And I recently had the pleasure of meeting the man behind the show, Hans Randau. His station is located in a small basement room in his lovely home, which overlooks Pécs, a Mediterranean style town about 200km south of the Hungarian capital, Budapest.

"This Is HansinUngarn, from Pécs Hungary"
HansinUngarn, playing his favourite music, 2014-01-07...

Hans is a German citizen who married a Hungarian lady, way back in the days when Hungary was part of the Soviet-dominated "Eastern Bloc" and it was difficult for Hungarians to travel to "The West". Today things are very different. Hungary is now a member of the European Union, enjoying relatively free travel across its borders. And Pécs was the "European Capital of Culture" in 2010. This gave it access to a sizable wad of EU cash - enough to tart-up some of its crumbling monuments, that were so badly neglected under the communists.

Sadly however, some would argue that this accolade was somewhat devalued by the fact that Liverpool (UK) had already been a "European Capital of Culture" back in 2008 - much to the amazement of anyone who has actually been to Liverpool. As one Liverpudlian told me, many years ago, "The world remembers that the Beatles came from Liverpool. However it is often forgotten that the mop-topped superstars all vacated here as quickly as they could!"

But I digress... Wink

A retired teacher and engineer, Hans moved to Hungary with his wife, though he still retains roots in his native Germany too. He has run his radio station from Pécs since 2008. Describing himself as a "citizen of the world", Hans speaks German, English, Hungarian, as well as enough French to introduce a record or to ask for a beer.

Hans now enjoys listeners from all around the planet - though mostly from the Anglosphere: e..g. Canada, USA, UK and New Zealand. He also has fans right across continental Europe.

Tandberg Huldra 10 and Maxell C7 playing Radio Pécs International
Tandberg Huldra 10 connected to a 50-Euro Maxell C7 tablet, playing Radio Pécs International

I can bear testament to his station's worldwide appeal from my brief time in his chat room, where a chap from British Columbia turned up. He was followed shortly by a lady from South Carolina, and another listener from California. Meantime Hans was saying “hello” on-air to more of his listeners in Croatia and Hungary.

Interesting to think that the United States probably has more radio stations per head of population than any other nation on earth. So why do Americans patch-in to a tiny station thousands of kilometres away in central Europe?  Seems primarily his audience enjoy the eclectic variety of music he plays.

As one listener said, "You learn something new every time you listen." Or as Hans rather neatly put it, “World citizens like [radio] stations run by world citizens.” From my point of view, I agree with all the above, plus the fact that there are no commercials!

His stream currently supports a maximum of 25 concurrent listeners and he bankrolls the project himself. However he is puzzled by the fact that his audience suddenly surges when he plays certain songs. This is hard to explain because listeners have no idea what he is playing until they actually connect to his stream. Seems for now, this remains another of life's little mysteries.

His playlist currently boasts over 10,000 tracks and is growing all the time – especially as often goes out to find material that his audience requests.

His radio stream is generated by Nullsoft's Shoutcast, a cross-platform (but proprietary) software application for streaming media over the Internet. The stream hosting is provided by German stream hosts Then, a standard desktop PC, a simple mixer desk, a set of headphones with built-in microphone and a copy of DJSoft's Radioboss (radio automation software) complete his simple-but-effective equipment line-up.

His radio stream is compatible with Windows, Macintosh OSX and most popular GNU/Linux flavours, including Red Hat, Slackware, Debian, Ubuntu and Mint. It also plays on most Android devices. However my budget-priced Maxell C7 tablet throws an error, complaining that it cannot play the stream. Then it plays it anyway! Of course, that is just one of many, many Android bugs and has absolutely nothing to do with Hans!

You can connect to his live radio stream 24/7 by typing the following URL into your browser or into favourite internet radio player. Give it a go. You won't be disappointed...

Radio Pécs International played in the excellent KRadio4 player for Linux users with the KDE desktop
Radio Pécs International played in the excellent KRadio4 player for Penguinistas who use the KDE desktop

]]> (Garfield Lucas) General Fri, 10 Jan 2014 20:00:00 +0000
Britain's metrication fiasco Britain has made a complete hash of metrication whilst failing to teach its young the basic numeracy skills to deal with the ridiculous anomalies that have arisen as a result. E.g...

  • People who think 7.5 lbs is the same as 7 lb 5 oz.
  • People who think of 0 as freezing 0 as boiling and yet think room temperature as 70.
  • Local authorities such as Southampton City Council that insists building plans be submitted in metres but continue to rent allotments in rods!
  • People who weigh themselves in stone or weigh cement etc. in hundredweight but have no idea of the value of either in pounds, let alone kilograms.
  • We buy petrol in litres but our road signs are still in miles - thus making fuel economy calculations almost impossible for the majority of the population. And this is a time when we are told we need to reduce our carbon footprint!

Metric measures were legalised in the UK in 1863, yes, 150 years ago! Since then we have endured three failed attempts at metrication. Can't really blame Brits for being a bit muddled when it comes to measuring things, can you?

]]> (Garfield Lucas) General Mon, 14 Apr 2008 22:00:00 +0000
Buying tips ImageThese days I am more concerned with bangs-per-buck rather than the latest, greatest technology. This kit is so disposable nowadays and the technology changes so quickly that I think you need to adopt a completely different purchase strategy. This is my strategy for consumer durables such as digital cameras and computers...

  1. Do some research and actually handle one if you can - looking for design faults and things that might snap off or generally annoy you.
  2. Figure out what specification you really need.
  3. Shop around and buy it as cheaply as you can - obviously choosing a supplier that will actually deliver AND honour the warranty.
  4. Often you find that your local supplier will match or come very close to a price you see on line. Obviously you need to provide some evidence.
  5. Use it like crazy. Don't just put it in a cupboard and "worship" it. It's already worth 20% less than you paid for it before you even take it out of the box.
  6. Induce any manufacturing defects (i.e.wear it out) before the warranty is up, so you can get a free, new replacement.
  7. Use the replacement one like crazy - see point 4.
  8. Plan to buy a new one at the end of an approximate two to four year cycle.
  9. Ensure you recycle or freecycle the old one!
]]> (Garfield Lucas) General Fri, 12 Oct 2007 16:30:00 +0000
Go Trabi Go! Trabifest, Zwickau 2007-06-16 and 2007-06-17

I found myself at the 50th Anniversary Trabifest in Zwickau in the former East Germany back in June 2007. Not sure I fully understand the enthusiasm for these funny little cars - though I did find myself becoming bitten by the bug.  I guess there is a large cultural element to this phenomenon. It seems the humble Trabi has become another cultural icon. One enthusiast I met described the Trabi as, "A smile rising from a troubled past."

They certainly are quite amusing little things, as these images will indicate...

Go Trabi Go
DVD's of German-made "Go Trabi Go" movies
c/w Chinese-made model Tabant 601's
and a litre bottle of Jagermeister, mmm...

Golden Trabi
Trabant memorabilia - a golden Trabi 601 + a few Trabi books

Firstly, I managed to glean from some friendly Trabi enthusiasts that there is a heirchical distinction between the four-stroke models and the earlier two-stroke versions. Cars fitted with the Volkswagen-built four-stroke engine can be distinguished from earlier two stroke models by their larger rear light clusters. These came with the amazing modern innovation of built-in reversing lamps!

Two-stroke rear view

Two-stroke front view

The four stroke-models also had asymmetric radiator grilles. However, I am reliably informed that the four-stroke versions are not considered to be"real Trabis" by the Trabant 601 cognoscenti. Real Trabis should sound like sewing machines and leave a trail of dense blue smoke behind them, apparently.

]]> (Garfield Lucas) General Mon, 18 Jun 2007 00:00:00 +0000
Hungarian rebels against the "Microsoft Tax" [Reproduced from DEOSS ]

Seems that Micro$haft's corporate enslavement permeates far beyond the English-speaking world. A long and complex legal battle is currently raging in the former Eastern Bloc state of Hungary. APEH (the Hungarian Tax Office) has decided that all Hungarian businesses now have to submit their tax returns on-line.

This would not be a problem in itself. However in an act of inexplicable ignorance, APEH has assumed that all computer users use Microsoft Windows. To complete their tax returns, Hungarian business people have to download two Windows executable programs, run them on their Windows based PC's and then submit these back to APEH, duly completed, using Windoze of course!

Click to view full size image
Charles Barcza

APEH's tax return files simply do not work on any other platform, not even using WINE or CrossoverLinux. So if you are a Macintosh or Linux user, then tough luck mate! This has infuriated Hungarian businessman and software developer, Charles Barcza. He develops and runs blackPanther, one of the biggest home-grown, Hungarian-language Linux distribution. 

Despite smiling for our photo, Charles is not a happy Hungarian at all because APEH's decision renders his blackPanther OS and all other non-Microsoft operating systems useless for submission of tax returns in Hungary.

]]> (Garfield Lucas) General Thu, 10 Jan 2008 20:00:00 +0000
Marriage of minds or just a shotgun wedding Microsoft has been in trouble for some time - but has taken its executives quite a while to realise it. Vista has been a massive flop. And M$ is becoming increasingly perceived as a company that has ruthlessly exploited its monopoly - fleecing its customers for vast sums of money whilst providing poor quality, insecure products.

Reading around the web there seems to be a growing feeling afoot that Microsoft has somehow "missed the boat"and is clinging to Yahoo in order to compete with its new arch-rival, Google. Indeed, BBC's Website Business Editor, Tim Weber describes itas, "Microsoft and Yahoo's shotgun marriage".

But let's cast aside personal bias and feelings and look instead at the figures. Both M$ and Yahoo's shares have been on a downward trajectory since before the beginning of the year. This trend pre-dates the current "sub-prime lending" gloom. Since 2007-11-01 Micro$haft has seen its shares fall from over $37.00 to around $32.00. In the same period, Yahoo shares have tumbled by over 33% from around $31.00 down to below $20.00. Yet M$'s offer for Yahoo of $44.6 billion is 62% more than Thursday's closing price. Also Yahoo is in the process of shedding 1000 staff - hardly the act of a booming corporation methinks.

This suggests that either...

  1. Yahoo has something bloody good stuff in the pipeline that it has carefully hidden from the rest of the world or
  2. Micro$oft is desperate. 
I think all-in-all, I have to agree with Tim Weber. And whilst Microsoft is a huge company with a lot of resources at its disposal compared to its rivals, I seem to recall the similar things being said in the 1980's about the seemingly invincible "Big Blue" IBM. ]]> (Garfield Lucas) General Sat, 02 Feb 2008 16:00:00 +0000
The Open Source Revolution This is a whistle-stop tour of the rapidly changing world of open source software. It is intended to give you an idea  of some of the arguments in favour of open source software. Obviously open source has its critics too. However this article does not cover these criticisms. If you are interested in the counter arguments then please visit the Microsoft FUD (fear uncertainty & doubt) site, amusingly entitled "Get the Facts". 

]]> (Garfield Lucas) General Mon, 05 Jun 2006 16:00:00 +0000
UK taxpayers can submit tax returns online using open source software I just completed my UK tax return on-line today. At the end of it all, HMRC (Her Majesty's Revenue & Customs) ask for some feedback. I thought that fans of open source software might be interested in my response:-

]]> (Garfield Lucas) General Fri, 23 Jan 2009 09:00:00 +0000
Web-footed web log ImageHey there all you happening geese out there in Internetland. Don't watch this rubbish. Come visit my new blog. It's really good...

You know it makes sense! 

]]> (Eboneezer Goose) General Wed, 29 Mar 2006 00:00:00 +0000