Free Computer Science Courses

If you want to get into the field of computer science you got to learn a lot of stuff and you got to learn a lot of new stuff the whole time.

Several american universities have created free online courses (not only for computer science). Upon completion you can get a free certificate to beef up your CV.


edX offers free classes offered by MIT, Berkley, Harvard etc. They are challenging but still designed that you can take them in your spare time. The difficulty is designed for beginners as well as more advanced students.


A very similar site to edX but offers more courses in various fields.


To learn about computing you can go to:

Note: If you are currently enrolled in a university, it is possible that the certificate can be accredited to your degree in that field. Talk to your student counselor.

EdX: Introduction to Linux

I recently completed the course “Introduction to Linux” by the Linux Foundation on the edX platform. Instead of paying 2500USD for the course you now can pay 250USD for a verified certificate, or simply get an honor certificate.

Course Structure

The course is self-paced, you can take the exam any time and at the end of the month, the certificate is going to be issued.

Course Materials

Unlike other edX courses, most of the materials are short articles covering the core topics. There are short videos, however, they are mostly useless.

Learning Objectives

Sadly the first couple of Lessons are more like Advertisements that Linux is great and that Linux is used everywhere and being able to use Linux is an important skill. The rest of the course covers the basic operations when interacting with a Linux system. The course briefly takes a look at the graphical interfaces of three major Linux distributions Ubuntu, CentOS and openSUSE. As expected most of the course covers how to interact with the Console covers the basic interaction with the console, file operations, security principles, text manipulation and concluding with bash scripting.

Final Exam

The final exam is a 30 question multiple choice test. Sadly some questions are easier to be answered using Google than the actual course material. People with a basic understanding of Linux could just skip the entire course and just take the exam. It’s rather straightforward.


The course is a great introduction to the Linux System. The course is designed for IT-Specialists (Programmers, Web-Developers, and Administrators etc.) that have not worked with Linux and need a quick introduction how to work with the system. Sadly with the emphasis on using the console most users interested in using Linux as an alternative to Windows/OSX will simply say “Oh god, what a hassle, I’ll stick to my current system.” Once again Linux does not realize that GUIs have been invented to solve an issue where most people find it confusing when they do not see what they are doing. Most users interacting with a computer are not aware that it is possible to interact with a computer without GUI, telling those users that sometimes you simply do not have a GUI confuses them. Most of the success of Linux as the core of Android is the GUI and that users have a simple way installing programs and are not able to access any console/text only mode. Once again the core of Linux is great, however, the presentation and usability are that what is lacking.

Lenovo Docking-Stations: Automatically Power on Laptop

You start your day out by putting your laptop onto your docking-station and then go get your morning coffee – just to come back and find your laptop still hasn’t booted up because you forgot to press the on the button – frustrated you scream out “Why god? Why do I have to wait another minute to boot my computer?”

This is a good example of a bad user experience design. The user expects the computer to start because the only reason for putting your laptop into a docking station is to start working with the laptop. You expect the device to be smart enough to turn itself on by itself. There is really no reason that the computer should not start. (Eco-friendly Power conservation guys will say, oh no, what a waste of electricity – Well, you are reading this article on a device that is using power and you probably are using a computer for most of your workday)

However, Lenovo laptops have a BIOS setting to automatically power up your laptop.

  1. Start your computer and press the ThinkVantage button (or F1) to open up BIOS
  2. Open Power Settings
  3. Set “Power On with AC Attach” to “Enabled”
  4. Press F10 to Save and Exit (restart)

Kickstarter: Reading Rainbow

Reading Rainbow is a great education television program from the 80’s that showed kids that reading is awesome. Sadly the program got canceled a couple of years ago. Now the moderator of the show LeVar Burton wants to resurrect the program for the current generation of kids as a free website with a video library and supporting material for teachers.

Support this project by giving money via Kickstarter.

Lenovo Adjust Keyboardmapping (Fn/Ctrl and PageUp/PageDown to Home/End)

Swap the Ctrl and Fn Key Lenovo has awkwardly placed the Fn key as the first key of the last row instead of the “Ctrl”- keys like most laptops and keyboard manufacturers. The “Fn Key” is unique to laptops and does not register in the normal character map. Thankfully you can swap the two keys in the Bios-settings. Caution: If you do not know what Bios is – do not change any other settings.

  1. Restart the computer
  2. When you see the ThinkPad Logo Press “Enter” to interrupt the normal startup process.
  3. Then Press “F1” to enter the Bios Settings
  4. Navigate to the page “Config ” (using the arrow keys) and select “Keyboard/Mouse”
  5. Enable “Fn and Ctrl Key swap”
  6. Press “Esc” and Navigate to “Restart”
  7. Select save changes and restart

Lenovo T430 – Reduce fan noise

For some reason on some T430 laptops, the fan is always on even if the CPU has a 0% load. If you are running Windows here are a few suggestions how you can fix this issue:

Update Bios

Make sure your laptop has the newest Bios installed – maybe Lenovo figured out how to resolve the Fan control at the hardware level.

  1. Run Lenovo – Update and Drivers
  2. Update Bios

Official Fan Speed Control Driver

  1. Download the driver from
  2. Install the driver
  3. Restart the computer
  4. Open the Task manager and check if “FanSpeedControl.exe” is running (if not, de-install the driver again


Apparently “troubadix” from the German Uni-Marburg created a small program to control the ThinkPad Fan.  Caution: As you are actively manipulating the fan speed, your hardware could overheat and be damaged which could not be

  1. Go to: (yes – the webpage is in ComicSans)
  2. Scroll down to “download area” and select the “latest common Version” (or check if the special version is better suited for your laptop)
  3. Install and restart
  4. As a default, the fan is being controlled in the “Smart”-mode, based on the temperature of the CPU.  I did not have to change any settings, usually, the CPU runs at around 42 degrees Celsius. If your CPU heats up faster you may want to use a more aggressive cooling strategy provided by the program.
  5. To minimize the window to the “Notification Area” Right-click on the TPFanControl icon in the Notification Area and disable “Show Window”

Inserting Text into Master Placeholder Textframe in Indesign

  1. Create a master page with a normal text-frame.
  2. Apply the master to a page
  3. Select the page
  4. To insert new text you first have to select the frame by pressing Shift+Ctrl
  5. Now you can Edit the contents of the text-frame.

Note: If you want to use the place-command (Ctrl-D) first select the frame then, Ctrl-D and select the text-file you want to insert.

After the item from the master frame has been changed, it cannot be influenced by the master page it is a page item.

Image: picture-on-exhibition Designed by Freepik

Why care about Star Trek?

Star Trek – no matter if you liked the show or not. It has had an profound influence on your life. Many of the ideas presented in Star Trek were absolutely unthinkable at that time. So even if you have never seen Star Trek or don’t really like Star Trek, it would be nice if you would bear with me.

Star Trek was created 1967 by Gene Rodenberry, he envisioned a united world, where everybody was working together for a better future. There was no separation based on nationality or race. When looking back at that same time period you will notice that at the same time the African-American Civil Rights Movement was taking place in America. The stories for the show were written by visionary science fiction authors, like Harlan Ellision. Sadly the stories were “adapted” for television, in essence “dumbed down”. The stories were original and unique and famously featured the first inter-racial kiss on television. However at the time the show struggled to find viewers and the show was canceled after 3 seasons.

This could have been the end, a small unimportant television series, forgotten as time goes by. However the show was syndicated and fans started to organize themselves and created conventions. These fans called themselves “trekkies”. The show had become more and more popular over the years, in fact it had become so popular that 21 years later, a new Series was created: “Star trek: the next Generation” (1988). The journey to explore the universe continued. One thing that set the series apart from many other series was, that for many conflicts there was no obvious right or wrong resolution, only different possibilities how to handle the situation. The other thing that impressed me was that Captain Picard when facing an enemy starship, first try to negotiate and only if everything else failed he would use the ships weapons. It is interesting to note that the Cold War was taking place during that time period.

Scientists and computer geeks were inspired by the show. One computer scientist watched an episode where Data (an Android) was listening to two music pieces at once. He asked himself, how can I get my computer to do the same? – The precursor of the popular MP3-format was born. Other devices directly influenced by star trek are: The Personal Computer (a preposterous idea in the 60s), Wireless Communication (technically feasible since the 90s), Tablet Computers (2010s), Portable Storage devices (2000), Wireless Headsets and many more.

However in the spinoff-series “Deep Space Nine” (1993), especially during the end of the series the use of weapons, war stories and space battles have become more common. Deep Space Nine always tried to revisit prior stories and look at the long-term consequences of those actions, which sadly led to an all-out space war. In another spinoff, Star trek: Voyager (1995) they also increasingly rely on weapons as resolution of conflict. The first episode practically starts with blowing up a space station as the only solution. In the last episode they even get to use weapons “from the future” and it is implied that they destroy an entire alien race.

Star trek envisions a future for the human race. In the beginning it was a bright wonderful exciting future. “To boldly go where no man has gone before”, this is from the beginning of the opening of Star trek. Lately, however, Star trek has not gone anywhere, especially with the two new movies Star trek (2009) and Into Darkness (2013). It has gone down the safe path to appeal to a mass audience. The stories do not discuss philosophy or science, always use violence as conflict resolution and the story does not want you to think. Have we become so pessimistic, so that we can only imagine a dark dystopia futures filled with violence and wars? Are people only entertained by explosions and attractive actors? Star trek is a reflection of the human condition.

I am optimistic, that star trek will change and get better in the future and I hope that you also care about it.

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, Nothing is going to get better”

The Lorax