Category Archives: Technology - Page 2

New Version of bib2tpl

Last weekend, I published a new version of bib2tpl, a PHP class to convert BibTeX to anything I wrote a while ago. There certainly were some bumps to iron out; these are the major changes made:

  • Entry filtering now works on all fields.
  • Templates can contain multiple occurrences of group and entry subtemplates now.
  • Condition tags can perform more detailed comparisons now.
  • Improved control over entry ordering.
  • Grouping tags are no longer necessary if grouping is turned off.
  • It is now possible to reuse parsed BibTeX for multiple conversions.
  • @entryid@ has been removed; use @entrykey@ instead, which is now guaranteed to be unique.

You can find a more complete list of changes here, and more information on bib2tpl here.

Better Default Search in Browsers

A typical search result on

A typical search result

Several weeks ago, certain channels announced that Linux Mint changed their default search engine in Firefox to DuckDuckGo. I do not care much for Linux Mint but decided give DuckDuckGo a try.

What is the matter, you might ask? I used to use ubiquitous Google for everything related to web searches (if nothing else). Whenever I would search for something, I would type some keywords in Firefox’ address bar, hit enter and pick promising Google results. For instance, instead of visiting Wikipedia by hand I would Google wiki Murphy's Law and hit the first link. Combined with bookmark completion, this worked so well that I almost never typed in a proper URL anymore.

The big issue is privacy. It is well-known that Google saves search results and tracks users for their own purposes and to set up their filter bubble1. Read more »

  1. While the bubble has its advantages I dislike the potential for censorship it offers.

About Kobo Touch

Kobo Touch next to a standard US mass paperback

Kobo Touch next to a standard US mass paperback

Last week I wrote about my thought process that lead to me buying a Kobo Touch ereader. I have used it quite a bit since and think I should write about my experience now.

The Kobo Touch has good haptics. It is relatively light with about 185g and has a surface texture that makes it easy to hold in one hand. The E-Ink display is great; all current ereaders have one of those. Text quality depends on font and size; on the settings I read I can see almost no difference to printed books. Of course you have shadows of former pages because they completely refresh the display only every few page turns (for sake of turning speed). You can adjust the number of turns before that happens between one and six, though, so every taste should be catered.

I had my opinions about ereaderes with touch screens—basically I though they were useless—but I am very pleased with the experience. It reacts in a natural way and the system is responsive enough to avoid slowing me down too much. This is in particular true when using the on-screen keyboard which works great for the tasks you need it for. You can turn pages by swiping or tapping the display. You can adapt the regions where tapping has an effect in order to account for people holding the device with either hand, but you can not turn off tapping yet. Turning the last page prompts Kobo to leave the book which has annoyed me sometimes when I accidentally prompted a page turn while in a one-page document. There is only one key that takes you to the home screen. It can be a bit hard to press but you do not need it too often. Read more »

Choosing an Ereader

Kindle, Nook and Kobo Touch
by Ellis Hamburger [source]

If you want to buy an e-reader in Germany, you are up for some hard decisions as the local industry has not quite jumped on the train yet. If you look for opinions on the web, you will find mostly US-based reviews. Over there, people talk—besides tablets—mostly about Barnes & Noble’s Nook and Amazon’s Kindle. As Nook is not available in Germany at all and Kindle only in old versions1 and for much more money than in the US2, what to do3?

Meet Kobo Touch! Reviews place it closely to both Nook and Kindle and it can be bought for 129€ from a major German electronics chain. Read more »

  1. For instance, neither Kindle Touch nor DX are available on
  2. At the time of this writing, the basic Kindle costs 80$ in the US but 99€ (over 125$) in Germany.
  3. One should note that a major book chain seels the Oyo e-reader in Europe. I have tried it; it is an inferior device compared to the ones discussed above but costs more.

New Plugin: The Bug Genie for WordPress

Example of TBG issue screen

The Bug Genie is an open-source browser-based bugtracker I have been using for some time. It beats most trackers I tried in terms of features and usability and is also quite easy to install and administrate. Not saying it has no quirks, but I like it.

So why would I want to write links to bugs I fixed or manage lists of known bugs manually? That would only ensure work and pain should the TBG folks decide to change URL structures in the future. So I wrote that small plugin The Bug Genie for WP to do that for me. It is not the most impressive plugin under the sun but does the job. So if you use TBG and WordPress go and have a try!