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Manue & Me

 Joerg's Blog 

 

If you are reading this, you must definitly be bored.
Either that, or you're looking for information about this site and/or its author.
For the first group of people I advise YouTube. For the second group, well, read on.

This is my personal blog page. I'll be referring about all things happening to me - that might be interesting for whoever reads it. I can not garantee it will be very high level for everyone though... But it is mainly maintained for far away relatives/family to have a glimpse of what I do with my life.

So - what is a blog anyway ? For this - check out Wikipedia - they have the best description for this. If you want to contact me - you'll have to reformat my E-Mail - so - good luck.

What I am ? I call myself a hacker.
Please note - most people think about the bad guys doing bad things to other computers. Well - I would say - that those guys are the Black Hat guys - also known as crackers. What I call myself - is a White Hat hacker. See it as a system administrator using professional tools to probe the robustness of his own systems and networks, and trying to get the maximum out of the used hardware - making its use as efficient as possible. This is legitimate - as I do not break into anything - while crackers attempt gaining unauthorized access to systems for eventual unethic actions.
The difference between hackers and crackers does not lie in the tools or techniques they use (the same hammer can be used to build a wall, or break it down), but in their intentions !
For me - building a stable and secure system is a very interesting challenge, and to know it is stable and secure - I need to test it with all tools available. And this is what I like doing most.


Please note that all I say on these pages is for personal use only and under no circumstance has to be taken/used/copied without my explicit written permission !

 

War memorials in Normandy   [ 
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US Normandie

 Our youngest has taken an interest in World War II and asked us if we could visit places related to it. Of course my wife immediately devised a little trip which led us to Normandy where various memorials dot the land.

We rented a colourful house in the middle of nowhere and literally went off the grid as no network was available. But it didn't matter as we were always visiting something. Our first museum was the Airborne museum in Sainte-Mère-Eglise where the Battle of Normandy (operation Overlord) started. On the night of the 6th of June 1944, paratroopers were dropped behind enemy lines and landed, amongst other places) in this little town, one being famously caught by his parachute on the church's bell tower. The museum is awesome, with artefacts, real planes and gliders, dioramas, and the use of iPads and QR codes to watch documentaries and listen to testimonies. The afternoon was spent outdoors at the Pointe du Hoc were a path roams around German blockhaus and defences.

The next day was spent in Bayeux which was a mixture of interesting things to do and a major disappointment. The attractions and museums are still dealt with as if we were in the 1980's with no booking on line (we didn't get to see the famous Bayeux Tapestry as it would have entailed hours of queuing) and an outdated (although interesting) museum dedicated to the Battle of Normandy. But the city is cute and lunch was nice. We ended up going to the beach to take a look at the famous landing beaches. There was nothing left at Omaha but what is left of the Mulberry harbour in Arromanches on Gold Beach is quite impressive.

While driving back the following day we stopped at Caen and enjoyed a guided tour of the Abbey of Saint-Etienne, founded by William the Conqueror in 1063, and now the city's town hall. We spent the afternoon in the Memorial of Caen which encompasses the entirety of World War II. It is an extremely interesting and well devised museum with all aspects of the war being exhibited. We spent four hours there and the girls (and us) expanded their knowledge about this war. We gave up on the galleries dedicated to the Cold War. This will be another opportunity to go back to Caen and continue visiting the city and its surroundings.  

Written on Sunday, 23 August 2020 - 16:25 | 881 views
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Road Trip in France   [ 
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US

 Due to the pandemic, we did what most French people did : we decided to stay in France and enjoy its the natural and historical wonders. So we packed our bags (well lots of them), hopped in the car and hit the road.

Our first stop was around 400 km south where we made our first stop. We landed in Chatelguyon, a cute little spa town situated in central France. Our hotel was awesome (2 rooms linked by a terrace, a heated pool, a jacuzzi ...) and our first visit was for Vulcania, a park dedicated to volcanoes, which is in fact quite logical as the area is famous for its array of extinct volcanoes. But, as everywhere in France, it is also full of castles (we had a guided tour at the personally renovated Tournoël castle) and historical landmarks (we visited the museum of Gergovie where, in 52 B.C., the Celts led by Vercingetorix inflicted a major defeat to the Roman troops led by Caesar).

We then continued south towards Montpellier where we have family, making a stop at the amazing Templar fortified village named the Couvertoirade. This time we rented a charming house in the centre of a medieval village north of Montpellier. We spent time with our son, relaxed on the beach and also rediscovered the area (sailing the Mediterranean sea, spending half a day in the Camargue area where wildlife can easily be spotted, canoed on the river Herault and got lost in the adorable village of Saint-Guilhem-le-desert and the medieval fortress of Aigues-Mortes).

The next week we stayed along the Mediterranean Sea and continued towards Spain, stopping at Sorède, not far from Port-Vendres. There we (the whole family) just dived (early in the morning, later in the afternoon and even one during the night) and chilled out. Some of us were able to do a wreck dive (my eldest daughter and myself). You can see a selection of pictures in the Diving Gallery.
We just made a break into our diving spree to visit the animal sanctuary of Sigean. It starts with an hour in the car driving among wild animals (bears, lions, antelopes ...) and then we continued on foot the rest of the day. It's a huge sanctuary with numerous species, some of them considered endangered species. So I guess it's not a bad idea for them to be protected.

During our last week we started heading back North, towards home. We made two stops. The first one was in our next home place. We discovered the cutest village in the middle of the Corbières Massif at the foot of the Pyrenees. Not only is the place gorgeous but he inhabitants (permanent or holiday house owners) were incredible. We got along so well that leaving was heartbreaking. So we hope something to sell, that suits us, will come up so we can establish our family home over there. From there we roamed around and climbed to some of the so-called "vertigo Citadels" of Queribus and Peyrepertuse, we enjoyed lunch in a medieval restaurant (no forks !!!) and followed an inspired guide in the impressive Fontfroide monastery.

Before arriving in the Cathar country we had made a pause at Tautavel where a lovely guide explained to us how the prehistoric cave had been discovered and what it revealed of this long gone cousin of us humans. So we had decided to continue on this prehistoric trail while driving back north and this was our last stop. We spent two days in the area of the Lascaux cave which we visited during a private tour. The entire cave was recreated identically to the first and the rendering is astonishing. We spent two hours there admiring the mural paintings and listening to another fascinating guide.

The other visits we made were also nice (castle of Villerouge-Terménès and the castle of Hautefort). We wanted to spend some time in Rocamadour, one of the prettiest places in France, but the temperature was so high it was impossible to stay under the sun. So we saw it from a high point on the restaurant's terrace and we will go back another time.

Our road trip ended on a humbling visit to the martyr town of Oradour-sur-Glane where the German Das Reich Division exterminated 642 civilians. The place has never been reoccupied since and one just walks around the ruined streets and houses where scattered burned objects (cars, sewing machines, tables ...) lie around. It was a very solemn way to end our holiday but also an accurate transition to the next little trip we made two weeks later.

We have a small selection of the sites we saw uploaded to our Holiday Gallery.  

Written on Wednesday, 5 August 2020 - 16:19 | 891 views
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Achievement Unlocked: Weather Station up and RIP   [ 
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Weather Station small

 It took me a while to build, test and setup a weather station (roughly 6 months).
I wanted to understand how exactly it worked, what sensors were required, and tinker with the system that would collect the data. The Build-Blog shows all details of the journey.
Last Sunday June 21st, I finally hooked the Weather-Station up on the roof-top of our house where it started to provide data as planned. Everything went fine. Data was being sent to Wunderground.com and on my own site, however yesterday June 26th at precisely 20h03+, during a thunderstorm, lightning struck into the neighborhood. It was so near and strong we really felt the blast and our ears did rang a while due to the loud discharge sound it made.
Having anticipated the dangers of lightnings, we had unplugged all electronic devices that were not protected. However for the weather station, there was no protection. It was on the rooftop doing its job.
Doing some basic tests on the weather station, showed that the Raspberry PI WH seems to have suffered. Instead of 120mA it started using up 500mAh of power which is way too much for that small device. I cut off the power and will have to take the station down again to check on the damage. I'll report on that another time.
Note that the street lamps in our vicinity were taken out too.  

Written on Saturday, 27 June 2020 - 14:37 | 1326 views
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Skying in the Alps   [ 
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Ski, Top

 After having skipped Skying season for 3 consecutive years, we had to go back onto the slopes.
The main issue being: Will there be snow?

After a little research, we (actually my wife) came up with a small location high enough in the northern Alps, called Taninge.
The ski station's name was Praz de Lys (and you don't pronounce the z on the first word!) with amazing skying grounds. Also, as this is a small location - you will mostly see locals. Very kind locals who will help you back up should you fall on the slopes.

Regarding the Weather & Snow, we were quite lucky. For 6 days on the slopes, we had 3 Sunny and 3 cloudy days, while one afternoon was rainy. But the Skiing conditions were amazing the rest of the time

As usual, everyone but myself did Ski, while I hit the snowboard.

All in all, these 6 days on the slopes were amazing! To be repeated at a future time at the same location! 

Written on Thursday, 27 February 2020 - 17:07 | 2176 views
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Dreamtrip in Budapest   [ 
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Budapest

 This summer we became members of a travel club and we decided to sample what was on offer. We chose to travel to Budapest and we didn't regret it at all. The city is absolutely amazing. It very much looked like Prague but the people are a lot warmer and the atmosphere definitely more pleasant. The food is also great, way more refined than in Prague and very affordable.

We stayed at the Hotel Continental on the Pest side (Budapest is in fact composed of two cities separated by the river Danube), very close to the ruin bars and the shopping malls. This 4 star hotel was a bath complex which has been recently renovated and it was great. The room was comfortable, the restaurant delicious and there was a spa on top of the hotel. It was really nice to relax in the jaccuzzi, the sauna and take a dip in the indoor pool (although others prefered the outdoor one). We both (and together in the same room) indulged in a traditional thai massage which was very efficient in putting all the bones back into place !!!

Our trip included a private day tour with dedicated guide and minibus which took us around the city, visiting famous locations. The guide was great, very attentive to our needs, answering our questions. We were with an international community composed of Chinese, Germans, Austrians, Taiwanese and we enjoyed a planned lunch and strudel demonstration together as well as breakfast and the last dinner. But apart from that we were free to roam around when and where we wanted, following the suggestions of our local host who gave us very good advice concerning visits, restaurants and so on (for example sailing up and down the Danube or sightseeing in an open-deck bus which were part of the deal). Check out the picture gallery.

To sum up, we loved the experience especially the mixture of individual and group travel. As I don't want to include a forum or the possibility to post comments on my website, here is an email address you can use if you want more information on it (dreamtrips(-AT-)solsys(-DOT-)org - I have replaced the @ and the . signs in order to avoid being spammed). 

Written on Saturday, 9 November 2019 - 11:06 | 3034 views
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Two weeks in paradise !!!   [ 
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Paradise

 This year we decided to spend our summer holidays with our friends on the French island of Martinique in the Carribean Sea. Our friends come from there and were instrumental in our decision :smile-big: face-smile-big.svg

We all rented an amazing house (check it out) and spent the time discovering and enjoying the island. The first striking thing are the colours. The whole island is covered with a deep green vegetation regularly scattered with colourful flowers. As it is a volcanic island, the topography is very mountainous and the sceneries are spectacular. If you travel there you must spend an afternoon in the Balata gardens located above Fort-de-France. The owner has done an great job and you can even walk among the trees as a tree trail can be used.

There were a lot of historical visits to schedule. In Saint-Pierre for example we walked among some ruins left after the volcano erupted and destroyed everything in 1902. It was a bit like Pompei but on a much smaller scale. We also had the opportunity to enjoy the guided tour of Josephine de Beauharnais' family plantation from which nothing much remained as the main house was destroyed by a cyclone. There were other cute places such as the Pottery village where we bought most of our souvenirs and Fort-de-France and its spice market.

We didn't go to the beach very often as we spent a lot of time scuba diving (take a look at the other post) but we spent a whole day sailing a catamaran (well the skipper sailed - we just enjoyed it) hopping from island to island. If you take a look at our photo gallery (here) you will understand what I mean. We bathed in the so-called Josephine's tub which she never bathed in, and ate accras there. We swam in the Trapeze (another body of water between 2 islets) and to the Islet of Madame. We sailed past the Warewolf islet which nests endangered species. It definitely looks like the islet where Jack Sparrow was dumped in one of the Pirates of the Caribbean. The most moving moment of the day was when our skipper led us to the islet of Chancel where he explained the history of the ruins of a sugar plantation relying on an enslaved labour force and helped us find iguanas.

Another heyday was a horse ride we booked early in the morning. Our guide welcomed us in his remote ranch, handed out the horses according to each one's level, helped us groom them and we were off followed by 2 very cute foals frolicking around us. The stroll led us through the forest to the beach where some of us had a nice gallop. We continued towards a high perched chapel from where the view was breathtaking. The return road enabled us to ride in the shallow waters of a secluded cove. We felt like happy castaways :wink: face-wink.svg

So, to sum up, this island is extraordinarily beautiful and the people living there were most of the time very welcoming whether in restaurants, museums or anywhere. We definitely plan to go back one day !!! 

Written on Sunday, 18 August 2019 - 09:29 | 3789 views
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Achievement unlocked : we all have a diving certification !!!   [ 
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Diving

 The whole family went diving in Martinique this year in the Caribbean Sea. I already obtained the PADI Rescue Diver last summer but as my oldest daughter decided this year to obtain her French Second Level (N2), I went with her and praticed diving in a pool and reviewing physics and stuff. So we needed to dive at least ten times in order to validate everything. My wife and my youngest daughter spent the same year following the Level One lessons (N1) and needed 5 dives. And our 29 year old son decided that it was also time for him to learn diving. So we booked him an accelerated course which he achieved brilliantly.

As a result, we discovered the Caribbean Sea and it is an outstanding underwater world full of surprises and beauty. We were surprised to see corals beyond 20 meters. The wildlife was abundant and varied. But pictures are more talkative than words. So take a look at our photo gallery and youtube videos here.

Our favorite spot was Anse Dufour, not so easily accessible but an amazing place. My oldest and myself were lucky to participate to a night dive where we saw seahorses, octopuses, squids, crabs and crayfish and many others I didn't recognise. We came back with the whole family during the day and we swam with sea turtles. It was awesome.

There are numerous other places we haven't yet dived in but that's for another day :-))) In the mean time we are all equipped to dive anywhere else in the world. Our next goal is to all obtain at least the second level in order to be able to dive deeper than 20 meters and do some wreck diving. So stay posted !!!  

Written on Sunday, 18 August 2019 - 09:21 | 3737 views
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A great day in Paris and Versailles !!!   [ 
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Paris Versailles

 We are all finally on holiday and we decided to enjoy Paris and its surrounding a little bit. We booked an exhibition at the Ateliers des Lumières in Paris. This "museum" is a former foundry which closed when the 1929 international crisis disrupted the world's economy. It became a tool factory which stopped operating in 2000 and in 2018 it opened again as a creative art space where paintings are illuminated, animated to the sound of music. All the walls, floor and ceiling are covered with light and colours. One can walk in the high-ceiling room and follow the images, or one can just sit down not far from a huge wall and enjoy. Whatever the choice it is beautiful. Check out the website https://www.atelier-lumieres.com/en/home

This year the exhibition focuses on Vincent Van Gogh whose colourful work particularly fits the concept. It is followed by a shorter program entitled Dreamed Japan, as Japan did inspire Van Gogh's work. But above all else it triggered memories and a bit of nostalgia as we so much enjoyed our trip there in 2018.

We spent the evening at Versailles where we booked a pyrotechnics show telling the tragic story of Marie-Antoinette queen of France. The performance was showcased in the castle's orangery. It was creative and the fireworlks really danced to the rhythm of the music.

Versailles always schedules amazing events and we plan to attend the Grand Masked Ball at the castle one day. We just need to wait for our last one to reach 18. But it's a plan !!!

 

Written on Thursday, 4 July 2019 - 11:18 | 3661 views
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Music Festival Retro C Trop reloaded !!!   [ 
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Retro C  Trop

 We enjoyed last year's festival so much we returned this year and it was even better. We bought the tickets as soon as we found out that Tears for Fears was scheduled and it turned out that more rock stars would be attending. Midnight Oil was just as great. UB40 was amazing. The Dire Straits Experience sounded just like ... Dire Straits. And we discovered Popa Chubby and the Zombies as well as French bands.

The weather was perfect, we found shaded spots to spread our blankets (we were a bit more organised this year) and we met friends and had a great time together, listening to music and dancing.


We can't wait to see what next year's programme will be !!!  

Written on Monday, 1 July 2019 - 11:01 | 3628 views
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We went on Pandora !!!   [ 
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Avatar

 We travelled to Pandora and spent a few hours on the planet. Well, it looked like it and the inhabitants were all blue and able to jump very high. There even was an ikran, the biggest of all : Toruk.

We must thank the Cirque du Soleil for this great show based on James Cameron's film Avatar. To be honest, my wife and I went at least 5 times to the movies to watch it when it was released. We really like the world with its characters, animals, language and way of life. And we are impatient to watch the sequels which should start coming in 2021.  

Written on Sunday, 14 April 2019 - 10:56 | 3640 views
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