Category Archives: Pastimes

my diverse and exciting hobbies!

C/2022 E3

Yep, I saw it / him / her just now (note to self) 🙂

After a miserable day, the clouds opened up and we were blessed with a starry sky. Inspite of the waxing moon and suburbian light pollution, I was able to spot C/2022 E3 quite easily in 12×56 binoculars.

The last time this fellow visited the inner solar system we were still banging rocks together. I’m wondering what it’ll find the “next time around”… 🙂

Using your Warthog joystick (or basically any joystick) as a handbrake in RSF RBR

If you enjoy both flying and simracing, you’ll have heard of the most excellent RSF mod for Richard Burns Rally, a sim from 2004, a bit old but well aged and still the best Rally sim out there in terms of realism, moddabilty and force feedback.

I wanted to use an analog handbrake axis but I found that the X axis on the joystick will register input even in its center position, using these values for “curvature2” for the axis:

The handy “gauger” plugin will still show an axis input of about 6% with the center position.

The fix is very easy especially for Warthog HOTAS / Stick users as the stick base comes with two convenient holes in the base plate that you can use to attach an elastic band to the joystick to push it forward ever so slightly:

Using this “mod” the handbrake will show “0%” input with the stick in this position. Now invert the X axis in the RSF RBR launcher settings and hey presto, instant analog handbrake at no extra cost 🙂

When pulling the handbrake simple nudge it forward after returning it to the center position (I’ve found that the stick will return to the center position on its own but it needs a little bump in order to go back into its forward position. A stronger band might help here, but I had none available).

Thanks to the friendly folks in RSF RBR’s discord channel, you guys rock!

Using Elgato’s Stream Deck XL on Linux with streamdeck_ui

I got myself a lovely streamdeck XL and had some issues getting it to work with streamdeck_ui on Linux Mint 20. It turned out that the usual howtos don’t include the Device id required for the XL model which is 008f, so simply add the following line to your udev rules:

SUBSYSTEM=="usb", ATTRS{idVendor}=="0fd9", ATTRS{idProduct}=="008f", TAG+="uaccess"

reload the udev rules as per howto, replug the device, now streamdeck_ui should have no issues attaching to the HID device when running as a normal user without root permissions.

Unplugging & replugging

Watch Disney+ on Linux chrome based browsers (in 2022)

o Install this extension from the chrome webstore:

o when using disney plus, right-click on the page and select “Microsoft Edge / Windows” as your user agent

o once you’re finished with Disney Plus, revert back to “default” as to not ruin Linux browser statistics on other web sites 🙂

PS: No guarantees, it worked for me in Chromium and Vivaldi. If you’re worried, please use a standalone chrome / chromium install exclusively to watch Disney Plus on your trusty Linux system using only the above extension for viewing.


Not having seen Mercury for many years I was rather happy to catch the little, sun-grazing inner planet during yesterday’s beautiful sunset.

While the picture doesn’t look like much, if you look closely you can see the little moon-like disk shape of the planet. The picture was taken at around 60x magnification using a Nikon P900 bridge camera.

For comparison, here’s a picture I took of Venus using the the same camera and magnificaton a few weeks earlier:

As you can see, the image is much crisper as the venusian planetary disk appears much larger than Mercury’s (both because Venus is much closer to earth and also considerably larger). The Mercury image was zoomed in using the “GIMP” image processing software on Linux, here’s the picture in its original size:

Birding Corfu / Kerkyra, September 2019

In September 2019, we spent a couple of weeks in Agios Gordios on Corfu’s western coast (from the 14th to the 28th). This wasn’t exactly a birding holiday, but I managed to drive over the island a couple of times on my own in our rental car (thanks Spiros of for the great service) to explore some areas that weren’t exactly adjacent to a beach. 🙂

I brought with me my trusty Nikon Monarch 10x56DCF binoculars, my Nikon P900 superzoom camera and my Celestron C-90 spotting scope (always a hoot with airport security if you carry it in your hand luggage) on a very shaky cheap plastic tripod for obvious weight reasons which was used exclusively on our balcony overlooking Agios Gordios bay:

Agios Gordios Bay, “Ortholithi” rock formation on the right

Main observing spots where the bay pictured above, Lake Korision and the Roda Valley near Ermones (both visited twice).

Roda Valley near Ermones
Lake Korision as seen from the Northern mudflats

What follows is a loose account of the species observed and the places visit, I hope you may find it useful in planning your stay on Corfu if you’re interested in birdwatching or observing wildlife in general.

List of observed species:

Little Grebe
(Tachybaptus ruficollis)
Korfu, Lake Korission (gr/cfu)
European Shag (Phalacrocorax Aristotelis)Korfu, Agios Gordios (gr/cfu)
CormorantKorfu, Agios Gordios
Little Egret (Egretta garzetta)Korfu, Lake Korission (gr/cfu)
Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea)Korfu, Lake Korission (gr/cfu)
Greater Flamingo (Phoenicopterus roseus)Korfu, Lake Korission (gr/cfu)
Marsh Harrier (Circus aeruginosus)Korfu, Agios Gordios (gr/cfu)
Pallid Harrier (Circus macrourus)Korfu, Pelekas (gr/cfu)
Common Buzzard (Buteo buteo)Korfu, Pelekas (gr/cfu)
European KestrelCorfu, Ermones
Peregrine FalconCorfu, Agios Gordios
Osprey (Pandion haliaetus)Korfu, Lake Korission (gr/cfu)
Stilt (Himantopus himantopus)Korfu, Lake Korission (gr/cfu)
Kentish Plover (Charadrius alexandrinus)Korfu, Lake Korission (gr/cfu)
Cory’s Shearwater (Calonectris diomedea)Korfu, Agios Gordios (gr/cfu)
European Herring Gull (Larus argentatus)Korfu, Lake Korission (gr/cfu)
Yellow-legged Gull (Larus michahellis)Korfu, Lake Korission (gr/cfu)
Black-headed GullKorfu, Kerkyra
Caspian Tern (Hydroprogne caspia)Korfu, Lake Korission (gr/cfu)
Collared Dove (Streptopelia decaocto)Korfu, Agios Gordios (gr/cfu)
Feral pigeonKorfu, Kerkyra
Scops Owl (Otus scops)Korfu, Agios Gordios (gr/cfu)
Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis)Korfu, Lake Korission (gr/cfu)
Bee eater (Merops apiaster)Korfu, Agios Gordios (gr/cfu)
Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica)Korfu, Pelekas (gr/cfu)
Sand MartinKorfu, Kerkyra Town
Whinchat (Saxicola rubetra)Korfu, Lake Korission (gr/cfu)
StonechatCorfu, Ermones
White throated warbler (Sylvia curruca)Korfu, Agios Gordios (gr/cfu)
Sardinian Warbler (Sylvia melanocephala)Korfu, Lake Korission (gr/cfu)
Spotted Flycatcher (Muscicapa striata)Korfu, Lake Korission (gr/cfu)
WagtailAgios Gordios
Red Backed ShrikeErmones, Korfu
Blue Tit (Parus caeruleus)Korfu, Pelekas (gr/cfu)
Blue Jay (Garrulus glandarius)Korfu, Pelekas (gr/cfu)
Hooded Crow (Corvus cornix)Korfu, Lake Korission (gr/cfu)
RavenAgios Gordios
European Sparrow (Passer domesticus)Korfu, Pelekas (gr/cfu)
European GoldfinchCorfu, Ermones
JackdawAgios Gordios
MagpieAgios Gordios
Coal TitAgios Gordios

Observation details

This list is not complete, I’ve tried to focus on the more interesting species on the island.

Little Grebe: observed on one occasion at Lake Korision (LK); 6 ind. hunting on the lake.

Shag: two ind. resting & feeding on a rock near Orthoilithi, Agios Gordios Bay (AGB) observed during 2 consecutive days.

Cormorant: few observed over the course of 2 weeks in AGB

Little Egret: Quite common, seen over AGB, LK, and near a small pond in the Roda Valley (RV) this species seems to replace the white heron common in central europe on Corfu.

Grey Heron: Quite common, occured over AGB, RV and LK.

Greater Flamingo: Observed one right at the Airport lagoon in Kerkyra Town (KT) on arrival, also a few hundred present during both visits to LK.

Marsh harrier: 2 ind. over AGB during the first week on one occasion, not seen again.

Pallid Harrier: observed one adult male over the RV near Ermones on one occasion; 2nd visit a day later to take a good photograph sadly wasn’t successful. (migrant) Crappy photo only I’m afraid.

Common Buzzard: seen on a few occasions over AGB and the RV, not as common as in central europe though.

Kestrel: 2 ind. observed over the RV near Ermones on one occasion

Peregrine Falcon: One ind. over AGB (observed once)

Osprey: One ind. passing North over AGB; another one hunting over LK a week later (may have been the same bird)

Stilt: Single imm. bird on the first visit to LK; not seen again during the 2nd visit a week later. I was very happy to hear its distinctive call when it flew off. I’ve been chasing this bird for a few years now!

Kentish Plover: 5-6 during my first visit to LK on the northern mudflats (lifer), not seen again the 2nd time around.

Cory’s Shearwater: 5 birds hunting over ABG on the very first morning, possibly migrating south; this was the only occasion I saw this bird in spite of many hours spent on the eyepiece of the C-90 spotting scope scanning the bay. (lifer)

Gulls: Herring and yellow-legged seen regularly all over the island; black-headed seen once over the airport lagoon on arrival. Pictured: Yellow-legged near Paleo Frourio in Kerkyra.

Caspian Tern: 2 adults over LK during my 2nd visit. I’ve been told by Nikos from this bird is rarely observed on Corfu, sadly I didn’t manage to take any good photos.

Scops Owl: At least 2 individuals calling every day both at dusk and at dawn at AGB, but never observed. Still I was very happy for this lifer as I wasn’t too optimistic during my planning of the trip, and the pair sounded ever so sweet apparently calling for / to each other (lifer)

Bee-Eater: two flocks of about 20-30 birds observed and heard calling twice during our stay over AGB.

Sand Martin: Quite a surprise to see these birds not shy at all hunting in significant numbers near the old fortress in Kerkyra! Also many barn swallows present there.

Spotted Flycatcher: seen regularly all over the island.

Red-Backed Shrike: The number of shrikes (both in indiviuals and species) was a bit of a letdown to be honest, only one red-backed could be found during the entire stay in RV near Ermones.

Raven: a pair could be observed regularly over AGB, sadly I could never make out their nesting site as the rocky cliffs around the town would probably have provided a perfect breeding ground for these impressive birds.


Despite the 6 new “lifers” observed during my trip I was slightly disappointed with the local variety of species and number of birds. Sparrows seemed to be by far the most common birds, but wherever I went it was quite easy to find spent shotgun cartridges, even in so-called “nature reserves” which kind of sheds a negative light on the way the local environment is “protected”. While I never witnessed any shooting first hand the evidence for it was quite obvious.

Lake Korision (during our visits) was plagued by several 10-vehicle quad tours roaring up and down the narrow beach… not something I’d expect to see in any continental nature reserve without some visiting nature enthusiasts making a stand 🙂

Caveat: I didn’t manage to visit all the areas I had planned to (most notably the Pantokrator mountain region in the North and Lefkimmi in the South), so I may have missed out on quite a few species which are supposedly present in those locations. A dedicated birding trip will probably turn up many more species which I didn’t manage to spot during my stay.

Mondfinsternis 2018-07-27 in Herford

Es war richtig voll an der Hilgenböke in Herford: Mindenstens 100 Menschen jeden Alters interessierten sich für die Mondfinsternis. Da ich als einziger ein Spektiv mithatte (TS Optics 100mm mit Zoomokular 20x-60x), bildete sich teilweise sogar eine Schlange von Leuten, die mal Venus, Saturn, Jupiter, Mars (oder natürlich auch den verdunkelten Mond) mit eigenen Augen sehen wollten.


Es war sehr schön, so viel Interesse an diesem schönen Himmelsphänomen zu erleben.


Das Finsternisende liess sich dann perfekt von der heimischen Dachterasse beobachten.

Birding am Ijseelmeer

Post aus dem “Sturmmöwe”-Blog, hier für die Nachwelt festgehalten:

Nach einer Woche Ijsselmeer wollte ich euch mal ein paar der schöneren
Bilder zeigen, die bei meinen Beobachtungen dort entstanden sind (zwar
nicht aus OWL, aber vielleicht für andere NL-Reisende bzw. für die
Suche hier im Blog ganz interessant).

Dank Örn’s Website-Tipp ( konnte ich direkt
in der Nähe von Wervershoof / Nordholland am östlichen Ufer des
Ijsselmeeres gelegen ein wunderschönes Gebiet bei Twisk
( ausfindig machen, welches aufgrund
der Nähe zum Ijsselmeer und vielen Flachwasserzonen eine Menge Viecher
anzieht. Leider war der ein paar Tage zuvor dort gemeldete “Lachstern”
(zu dt. Lachseeschwalbe) nicht mehr vor Ort (Seeschwalben auf der
Durchreise übernachten nicht, wie wir ja vom Hücker Moor schon
wissen), aber trotzdem gab es eine Menge zu sehen (vor allem
Haubentaucher, die dann schnell aufgrund ihrer schieren Anzahl in
“Haufentaucher” umbenannt wurden).

Leider glänzte auch die Trauerseeschwalbe durch Abwesenheit (diese Art
hatte ich eigentlich fest eingeplant als neuen “Lifer”, aber wie das
Leben so spielt… die Viecher machen, was sie wollen!), eventuell war
es auch noch zu früh für diese Art auf dem Wegzug in die

Als Standort kann ich Wervershoof (“Camping Vislust”) für Birder nur
wärmstens empfehlen. Auch die Nordseeküste (Den Helder / Fähre nach
Texel) ist von dort nur 20 Autominuten entfernt, die fest
installierten “mobile homes” sind gemütlich und preisgünstig zu

Direkt über die Straße ist ein toller Beobachtungsplatz in 3 Minuten
mit dem Rad erreichbar (erhöht auf dem Deich mit bequemer Bank), an
dem sich regelmässig bis zu 40 (Maximalzahl) Löffler einfinden sowie
auch weitere interessante Arten. Fast jeden Abend liessen sich dort
(mit der Sonne dann praktischerweise im Rücken) neue Besucher
ausfindig machen, wirklich toll. Auch die Holländer waren immer sehr
interessiert und hatten viele Tipps, so daß man wirklich nie länger
als 5 Minuten “alleine” war und so auch einige Artnamen (“de
Knoppelzwaan”, “Aalschover”, “Kiektiif” etc; einfach herrlich) in der
Landessprache schnell erlernte. Auf der “Gartenliste” landeten dann
auch schnell Arten wie Flussseeschwalbe, Löffler, diverse Gänse und
sogar Regenbrachvögel (2x überfliegend und dank ihrer
charakteristischen Flugrufe auch für mich sicher bestimmbar).

Abschliessend nochmals vielen Dank an EM (auch wenn er meinen
vermeintlichen Seeregenpfeifer gnadenlos “abgeschossen” hat ;-)) für
den Support per Smartphone bei zahlreichen Bestimmungs(an-)fragen.

I love X-Plane 11, and X-Plane loves Linux, too


If you’re interested in flight simulations, you may be aware that “X-Plane 11” hit the digital streets a few weeks ago. I shelled out the €60 or so for the Linux version without thinking twice, and boy, has this been a good investment.


Flying along the “Obersee”, situated about 20km from where I live.

Trying out custom scenery (LGSA Souda on Crete)

FPS look very good even with object-intensive add-on scenery (much can be downloaded for free off the net using some custom, free libraries)


Ready for take-off from RW 11 @ Souda

Flight from Iraklion to Souda along the Cretan Northern Coast


Installation was very painless and worked like a charm. Updating X-plane also worked without any issues. I really like the fact that you can simply move the installation around on your hard disk (as I ran out of space in my /home partition) and re-activate it by simply creating a softlink to the new install folder. That’s how software should work, without any crappy registry entries that break once you move the installation folder.


Parking Position at Emden airport… note the ability to include real weather updated in near real-time.

I just love the Linux support, the version runs flawlessly and natively on my Linux box (currently Mate Cinnamon 18.1) and even the HOTAS Warthog from Thrustmaster works great on Linux natively as two separate devices (throttle / stick) without requiring any drivers or fiddling.

Naturally there is a lot to learn and a a lot of time to be spent on studying the manuals… make no mistake, while you can hop right into X-plane and enjoy the occasional care-free flight, it’s a full blown simulator (what the BMS folks like to call a “study sim”) that will teach you a lot there is to know about aviation and aircrafts.

Bottom line: 9/10 to Laminar Research for this excellent product.