Your name’s not on the list…

According to VRT, stricter identity checks are due to be introduced in Belgian airports by the end of this year. Specifically, the name on your ticket needs to be the same as the name on your passport.

The most surprising thing about this story is that they aren’t checking this already.

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Things you don’t miss until they’re gone

This is bad. The newspaper and website Flanders Today is due to shut down on 1st October.

Flanders Today is the product of a bid request issued by the Flemish government’s foreign affairs department. Media companies bid on the project, and the department uses a number of criteria to choose which company to award the contract to, including price, available resources and design.

After 10 years, the foreign affairs department has decided not to rebid the project. It said that the decision was based on an audit carried out earlier this year on available English-language products, which include the website Fans of Flanders, VRT’s English-language news site FlandersNews and Flanders Today.

The staff and management of the site have launched a website to support the paper and are working on proposals to continue the title in a limited form.

I hope they are successful. Flanders Today provides a unique overview of the region and I, for one, would certainly miss it.

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Quote of the day: Weak and anxious

The EU does not need to play dirty. European tails are up, with the eurozone economy expanding and the populist tide apparently receding. The EU already has the upper hand, both in terms of the too-tight article 50 timetable and the opening agenda, which it has dictated. Britain is a supplicant. It is divided. And on crucial issues, it does not seem to know what it wants.

The Observer on the uphill struggle facing Theresa May.

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Quote of the day: In which I find myself agreeing with a Brexiteer

I just think we should make the gesture, full stop. I don’t think there should be a quid pro quo, I just think we should make the gesture. They would look pretty churlish if they didn’t [reciprocate by guaranteeing the status of UK nationals in the EU].

— Billionaire Brexiteer, Peter Hargreaves calling on Theresa May to unilaterally guarantee the rights of millions of EU nationals already in Britain.

I really don’t see what Theresa May things she is going to gain from digging in here heels on this. She is burning up what little goodwill she has from the rest of the EU for no advantage whatsoever.

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En Macron

French expats celebrate in a Brussels bar on Sunday evening

As is all over the news, Emmanuel Macron beat Le Pen to win the French Presidential election with a larger than expected majority.

Much still remains to be seen, not least whether his En Marche movement can win enough seats in the upcoming Assembly elections in June.

But for now there is still time to acknowledge that, rather than pandering to the far-right, Macron fought an outward-looking, optimistic and openly liberal campaign. And won.

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Solving the wrong problem

Dave Winer thinks that podcast RSS feeds should be ghettoised.

Here’s the problem. If you put a link to the RSS feed alongside the links to iTunes and Stitcher and whatever else, you’re going to get a bunch of emails from users about how your site is broken. I know, because I’ve gotten those emails.

And here’s his answer:

Create a simple page that says “This is a link to our RSS feed. It’s used by developers and hobbyists to build their own listeners and it helps support innovation on the internet.”

This is a terrible solution, for a number of reasons.

Firstly, the suggested statement is flat-out not true. Speaking for myself, I don’t use iTunes or Stitcher. I use gPodder. If I find an interesting podcast I need an RSS feed to follow it — if you don’t give me a feed I’m not going to follow your content. It really is as simple as that.

This leads to the second problem, which is that Winer is assuming that proprietary feeds are the norm and should therefore be given preferential treatment to open standards. I’m not going to dispute the first part of this assumption but to present RSS as some curiosity that is only of interest to hobbyists is to consign it to history. If you want RSS to remain a viable standard, the RSS feed needs to be given at least the same precedence as the proprietary feeds.

As to the problem that Winer is trying to solve. How many people, really, are incapable of clicking on the correct link? A quick search across the corporate podcasts that I listen to reveals that neither the BBC nor The Guardian feel the need to make some special “your’re stupid” statement about RSS. In fact, The Guardian even manages to force a few extra clicks out of you regardless of what feed you choose.

Of course, the best approach is that taken by the Duffercast1. A single subscribe link takes you to all the feeds with no special statements about any of them, because some audiocasts have listeners who are capable of using the internet.

Footnote

  1. Disclaimer: Yes, I am a duffer

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Smarter Coffee and Systemd User Units

One of the particularly handy features that systemd supports is the ability to set up unit files on a per-user basis. You simply put the unit files in your home directory and tell systemd to start using them.

I have a couple of these and, because I can never remember the details, I’m putting them here to save me trawling through the interwebs next time I change something.

The user level unit files all go in ~/.config/systemd/user

If this folder doesn’t already exists, you will need to create it.

You can then manage the unit by adding a --user switch to the normal systemctl commands.

Clear as mud, I know, so here’s an example.

Back in October I was given a Smarter Coffee coffee machine — this is a filter coffee machine that can connect to your home network in order to send alerts to your phone. On receiving this, my first thought was to wonder if I could direct these alerts to my laptop.

Some searching revealed that not only is this possible but someone else has already done it. So I forked nanab’s repository and started playing around with the code, managing to direct the notifications to the Gnome notifications area. All of this is available on GitHub, but the systemd bit is described below.

First, I should mention that I have a small binary file (smartercoffee) in /usr/local/bin that points to the actual code. This looks like this:

#! /bin/bash
python2 /path/to/smartercoffee/pollingStatusMessage.py --notify GNOME

So the service file (smartercoffee.service), which needs to be dropped in ~/.config/systemd/user, looks like this:

[Unit]
Description=Monitor the coffee machine

[Service]
Type=simple
ExecStart=/usr/local/bin/smartercoffee
StandardOutput=journal
Restart=on-abort

[Install]
WantedBy=basic.target

You can enable the service with:
systemctl --user enable smartercoffee

And start it with:
systemctl --user start smartercoffee

So now, whenever I boot up my laptop, the first thing it does is tells me the status of the coffee machine.

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