Categories
Technical stuff

Removing YouTube and the Dislike counter – and what you can do

This will be a short post, mainly to draw attention to something that has been bothering IT circles and YouTube users alike in recent weeks.

Categories
Technical stuff

Basic settings – Part II: Mobile

In my previous post, I described the software and settings I consider essential for a computer – now I’ll do the same for a mobile phone.

Categories
Technical stuff

Basic setup – Part I: Your computer

Black Friday is approaching and everyone’s looking wildly at the 0% APR wonder machines in online shops – but what do we do once we’ve bought them?

In my previous post, I detailed how to effectively clean out your home computer if it’s slowed down or gone viral. Now, I thought it wouldn’t hurt to write a post about the basic setup and applications of a computer.

Categories
Technical stuff

Maintaining your home computer – the smart way

Note: Huh, this is going to be long, so please bear with me 🙂

To this day, the subject of a Windows computer going slow, getting a virus, and the owner wanting to do something about it, comes up a lot in my circle of acquaintances. Well, let’s see what we can do about it.

Categories
Life in general

The power of words – or facts and misconceptions in the age of COVID

Never do human beings speculate more, or have more opinions, than about things which they do not understand.

Carl Gustav Jung

I would like to say a few words – about words.

But not words that are unprintable. Or, if you prefer, they are, since in the case of online newspapers and news, one can hardly talk of print in the traditional sense.

Yes, I would like to talk about writing, more specifically about journalism, and in particular about some of the pain points that I am beginning to see more and more these days, which saddens me.

I am sure my former history and media studies teacher would be pleased that I have managed to get something lasting into my head on this subject.

But here are a few examples, without being exhaustive.

Pressure, pressure

There was an article in the Index back in mid-February with this title:

“Doctors are put under pressure by governments to use Chinese vaccines” – ad hoc translation

I may be naive, but I think that if someone publishes an article with this title, the content will faithfully reflect this claim, which seems very strong at first glance.

In reality, however, reading the content reveals that the mayor of Kübekháza – raise your hand if you know where it is… I’ll help, it’s a village of 1,500 inhabitants near Szeged – wrote a letter to the family doctor there, in which he says: “According to several respected virologists, the Chinese vaccine may have potential dangers, and I have also heard from several doctors that family doctors are under pressure to vaccinate their patients with it”.

Only the second half of the sentence says that the mayor has been informed by ‘several doctors’ that GPs are under pressure, but exactly who told him and how many doctors were they is not mentioned.

Now, an article like this and others like it should not, in my opinion, be published for two reasons alone.

One is that the title is sensationalist and a gross misrepresentation, which I assume was given by the author so that the ‘unsuspecting’ reader would click on the link and thus increase readership.

Two, that I lack any follow-up whatsoever – interview requests or evidence for this claim – or for a journalist to actually follow it up and find out how much truth it has before attributing any news value to it.

From a business point of view, I understand that we are in such a rush in today’s world of instant gratification that it is more important for a newspaper to ‘spin’ posts than to deal properly with even a simple ‘quick’ news item, but I also see this as a corruption of journalism and news reporting. After all, it is nothing more than fear-mongering and scare tactics, which should not be played on a population already frustrated by the Corona virus.

Is the notion of actually reporting the facts so outdated today that there is no longer any need for it, and we only care about the next impulse, the next sensational news story to be munched on? Is that where we are?

I would like to think not, but I am not sure.

Brussels and the pressure to comply

I was chatting to a friend and the subject came up that Zoltán Kovács, the Secretary of State, had recently published a post on Facebook calling an article in Politico a fake news story and a lie. In the post, the Secretary of State wrote:

Note that I am not a politician, and I don’t care who wrote it or what their political affiliation is, only that afterwards it was reported everywhere online – but everywhere they just repeated the statements made here.

It is the first and last paragraphs that really matter, because they say that Politico is lying because our vaccination programme is one of the most successful in Europe, and there are figures in the last paragraph.

I thought I would look into this and see what exactly it is that Brussels is lying about us, because I have heard this ‘Brusselism’ so many times but I have never seen it first-hand.

The Politico article in question goes into quite a bit of detail about EU vaccine procurement, rates per country and vaccination rates, citing ECDC, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, data from February 28. Hungary is mentioned essentially only at the very end, like this::

Searching for vaccines outside the bloc hasn’t necessarily helped. In Hungary, the Russian Sputnik V vaccine makes up less than 8 percent of the nation’s vaccine supply, while the Chinese Beijing/Sinopharm vaccine makes up around 27 percent. Still, Hungary’s rate of administration comes in last in the EU, having only used 56 percent of all the vaccines they have.

Politico – Coronavirus vaccine deliveries in Europe — by the numbersNote: Politico has since updated the article with new data, so there has been a change in the above sentences, but this does not change the point of my post.

As we learned in Hungarian reading class, let’s go through these sentences in order and find the pseudonym.

The first sentence is a free translation: vaccines from partners outside the European Union did not necessarily help – this is not a lie, as it is a conditional statement.

The next sentence cannot be a lie either, since it only states what proportion of the Hungarian vaccine stock is made up by the Russian Sputnik V and the Chinese Sinopharm – unless they are lying in this proportion, which I very much doubt.

That leaves one sentence that might be of interest to us: ‘Still, Hungary’s rate of administration comes in last in the EU, having only used 56 percent of all the vaccines they have’.

This sentence says that our rate of vaccine administration is last in the EU, having used just over half of all the vaccines available in this country. Note that this is based on 28 February data.

And our Secretary of State did not refute that claim, he merely pointed out how successful our vaccination programme is. The figures he quoted are those of 10 March, not the 28 February figures quoted by Politico.

Allow me to make a wild assumption at this point: can’t both statements be true?

Could it not be that the Hungarian vaccination programme, with over a million vaccinated inhabitants – ‘for lack of a better word’, to quote Gordon Gecko at the end of the stock market crash – is a success,

AND Politico’s claim that we have only vaccinated 56% of our total vaccine population is also correct?

After all, the statistics in the Politico article show that we are the only country that has ‘bypassed’ the EU to order both Sputnik V and Sinopharm vaccines, and together they account for more than a third of our total vaccine supply:

It follows that Hungary is likely to have more vaccines than other EU countries because of Chinese and Russian vaccine orders.

And add to this the fact that very few people have received the second vaccine so far, as the vaccination programme has barely started, and that it is so-called best practice to set aside a certain amount of vaccine for the second vaccination.

But we can look at the actual figures if we can get them, and we are getting them in order of magnitude, because on 28 February, the coronavirus.gov.hu had an article on how many people had already been vaccinated.

So far, 677 682 people have been vaccinated, of whom 249 499 have already received their second vaccination.

koronavirus.gov.hu

This is a total of 927 181 doses of vaccine used.

From the articles on coronavirus.gov.hu of 23 February and 02 March, we also know that 1 678 845 vaccines were delivered on 23 February and 2 088 705 on 02 March.

Let’s work with this and assume that between 1.7 and 1.8 million vaccines have been delivered in the country by 28 February.

Now, in that case, we have about a 56% administration rate.

I would also add that nowhere in the Politico article does it say that Hungary has not had a successful vaccination programme.

What is more, in the last paragraph, it also points out that these figures from the ECDC are not necessarily accurate and gives an example, namely that, although in theory the data show that Estonia, Lithuania and Malta have already used 100% of their vaccines, in practice this does not match the figures reported by the individual states.

Did State Secretary Zoltán Kovács write what he did for political gain or did he simply misunderstand the article? Or did he take even that little sentence as an attack from Brussels? Or were you so disturbed by the statistical discrepancy?

I do not know.

All I know is that the Politico article looks like it is trying to summarise the current situation in the EU countries on the basis of data from an independent centre for disease prevention, and Hungary was no exception.

I, for one, see no offence in this, but the conciseness and quality of the article – unlike the ones in Hungary – was actually quite refreshing.

On to the verdict

The human mind is a fantastic tool, but in psychology it has been repeatedly proven that what we focus on we will amplify and see around us (experience-dependent neuroplasticity). That’s why it is sometimes worth questioning whether what we take so much for granted is really so.

I really like to analyse what is happening objectively, based on the facts.

However, it is obviously impossible to do this in all situations, and I also see that in today’s world it is terribly difficult to see something for what it is and not immediately think about it, to see something else in terms of our ideology, impressions, prejudices or even political affiliations.

As an example I will give you my own experience, when I was recently in Széll Kálmán Square to take the free crown virus quick test.

The test itself lasted only a minute, but in the process I caught, wittingly or unwittingly, one doctor remarking to another at the end of a sentence

“… it only works 60% of the time.”

Well – I thought to myself – that’s great…

Even though I knew that a negative result of the rapid test does not mean that I don’t have coronavirus, because of that half-sentence on the way home, and even at home, I was still hesitating a lot whether to tell my girlfriend that it was negative, but during the test one doctor told the other that it only works 60% of the time.

Then I thought for a moment… After all, what did I hear exactly?

A half-sentence without context, which although it sounded like “…only works 60% of the time”, I had no idea what it was about. However, my brain added to what I had heard in an instant, and I already put it together in my head that they were obviously talking about the rapid test, although this is not at all certain, because that was all I really heard from the conversation.

I think we all come to these conclusions every day, and that is fine, as long as we do not pass them on to others as facts.

Is it not possible that the same thing happened to the Mayor of Kübekháza, which led him to say in his letter that the government is putting pressure on doctors?

Or to Zoltán Kovács, the State Secretary, who felt that Brussel was lying and spreading fake news because it was a thorn in their side that we were doing so well?

And is it not the job of journalism to verify these claims and not just repeat them as a mouthpiece?

I think that is what it should do.

In fact, I think that journalists, rather than increasing readership, should preferably report news that actually has news value and helps the public to make informed decisions and understand the issues.

Especially now that we are even more isolated and stressed than average in the midst of a pandemic, words may have even more power than before – but with that power comes responsibility.

Categories
Recipes

Recipe recommendation – delicious homemade Pizza Napoletana

Ever since I once tasted real Italian pizza in Sicily, I have redefined the concept of pizza and of course, I have become even more fond of Italian cuisine.

Now, in the midst of COVID and home office work, although my diet has become a bit more restrictive, I do get a craving for a slice or two.

Then one day it occurred to me that it’s more cost-effective and special if I make the pizza dough myself. And of course then I’d use a real Italian recipe – because I can.

Categories
Recipes

Recipe recommendation – homemade sour cream and cheese scone

Konyhajelmezt öltött
kislányom, Kati,
sütő tudományát
úgy próbálja ki.

Nadányi Zoltán: Az első pogácsa

Does anyone else remember this poem? 🙂

Well, now I’m dressed up in a kitchen costume again, although I must admit that it wasn’t much of a dressing up without a holiday. But I did manage to whip up some cheese and cream scones.

As a recipe, I came across another gem on the ferfiakonyhaban.hu blog, and I also used the video by Szabi from Mindmegette.hu, which is full of information, as a help.

On a lighter note, in future I will clearly reject any claims that men can’t or don’t like to cook.

I have to say that this recipe is also very simple, this is what it looked like after the dough was kneaded:

After resting for an hour and a half, I could start working with it:

I ended up making only half of the dough into small scones, because it was easy to fit so much on a tray. The rest I saved for the next day, as explained in the video – I was going to make a cheese loaf with this after two days off, but unfortunately I put it off for a long time and the dough overripe. C’est la vie, as the French would say.

Here are the little scones, cut up after folding four times, in a soldier’s line:

After the first beaten egg:

Then, finally, the second beaten egg and the Edami + Trappist cheese used as topping:

And finally, after just 15 minutes of baking, the delicious scones were ready, now boxed and ready to eat:

I can only recommend baking these little savoury treats at home to everyone, they are simple, quick to make with a little forethought and much tastier than the crisps you can buy in the shops.

They’re great with a film 🙂

Categories
Recipes

Recipe – Homemade ribbon doughnut baking

Another weekend, another batch of flour at home, just gathering dust in the cupboard – we’d better make something out of it, shouldn’t we? 🙂

Categories
Creative stuff Life in general

Green Fingers #2 – even greener…

The days go by, Covid’s time is almost up, because the economy has to keep on going, life or death be damned – and the plants planted before just keep growing and multiplying. Because it’s not like it was a sudden frenzy where you plant a few plants and then you get bored and they all wither away. Not on my watch!

Categories
Recipes

Recipe recommendation – homemade pain paillasse

When you’re at home a lot, you reinvent yourself – at least I did, and I start thinking about things like how hard it can be to make bread. The answer: it’s not that difficult. 🙂