November 30, 2004

LotR EE Triple Feature

I'm currently organizing a "Lord of the Rings" Extended Edition Triple Feature with some of my friends because I'll try to get my hands on the last Extended Edition of the LotR trilogy DVDs, which should be available by Dec 10th.

We'll use a video projector and and my Surround Sound System for providing us with a >14 hour lasting Middle Earth Experience.

Dammit, only the strong will survive! ;)

November 24, 2004

New energy sources

Today I stumbled over two new(?) techniques to produce energy for the world. One large scale the other one tiny scale but both quite interesting: - Solar Stirling engine in Power Plant - Micro jet engine in your mobile phone

I think, the jet-type is the cooler one but the Stirling type is the more interesting one. You also can - Buy a stirling engine - or build your own

But both are nothing compared to my homemade nuclear reactor, har har!

November 22, 2004

My Firefox setup

Well, since Firefox is appearing all over the web, I thought I should share to you which plugins I use to achieve a seamless web experience: - Optimoz for being able to guide Firefox just with a motion of my mouse - Adblock to remove those ugly banners and flash-ads - Linky to open/download multiple links and/or images at once - Tabbrowser Extensions to make better use of the Tabbed Browsing feature of Firefox; Can also save Tab Sessions - StumbleUpon to find webpages which fit to my interests and to present them here in the blog

Give 'em a try, you won't regret it :)

November 21, 2004

Computer Trouble

I'm always driving my computer into hibernate mode when I leave it but today I had to reboot it after a driver update.

Since reboots always take a while I left the room and returned one and a half hour later. Imagine my face when I saw the monitor still displaying the reboot process... I discovered that everytime it entered graphical mode, just before displaying the mouse pointer, the machine resetted and the boot-process began again.

No matter what I did, I couldn't re-enter windows again: - booting in protected mode - booting with boot-log enabled (log was empty then) - CHKDSK from recovery console - Simple repair from recovery console - throotling down BIOS preferences

After that I only had left to try the hard repair. This is reachable if you don't choose "Repair" immediately but "Install" and later, when you can select an already existing installation, you can choose a "harder" repair option, which not only checks a few system files but performs a in-depth replacement and re-setup of the system but keeping most (not all) of previous settings.

I had to perform that three times, the first two locked up when I hit "Next" on the local-settings setup dialog.

The third attempt was successful and I endet up with an running windows again with most stuff working as before the incident.

What not worked and hit me first was an error with the RAS-Service, when I tried to dial in into the internet. Didn't work because all my dialup connections have disappeared and I couldn't create a new one, always ending up with a senseless error. I found out that the "RAS connection manager" (RAS Verbindungsverwaltung) service wasn't running and when I tried to start it: "Error 5: Access is denied".

After digging through some forums and newsgroups I landet on Microsofts Knowledgebase article "You cannot create a network connection after you restore Windows XP" altough I was running Windows 2000.

But deleting the two registry folders as suggested brought back all of my dialup services and connections again.

Well, next stuff that doesn't work is sound altough everything seems set up right and no error is visible anywhere. After that I think I remember from previous repairs that Microsoft office will have problems...

November 18, 2004

Mind hacking

Today I came across a sample chapter of O'Reilly's Mind Hacks. This book explains some things which are going on in your head and why they work as they do.

This sample chapter is about the effects of the internal reward system of the brain and explains them on the example of caffeine. It says that when you get "addicted" to caffeine it trains you to bring up some ritual when drinking coffee or tea. You begin to do special things or use special stuff while getting the caffeine into yourself.

Then I thought about myself, when I get my morning-coffee every day and was surprised that I have created such a ritual too. I never thought of that before.

At first I get one of our company-cups with the branding on it from our pre-company-takeover. We have two sorts of such cups, I always take the large one. If none of that cups is available I can also live with other cups but the coffee doesn't taste the same way then. After that I put it into the coffee brewing automata thingie and tell it to bring down two half cups. While the machine is working on my requests I take three stripes of sugar, shake the sugar on one side of them, rip of the other side and put all three portions into the mug, the coffee still dropping down from the brewer. While the remaining fluid is flowing I turn around and take one of the flat thick coffee spoons and put it into the mug too. Then I reach for Maresi coffee milk. After a few seconds the coffee brewer should have finished brewing and I take my cup out of it. Having stirred up the sugar in the mug I fill up the remaining fourth of the cup with milk. Stir a bit more, voi'la, ready!

My rite is such straight forward that I'm a bit stuck. If for example no milk is available I don't recognize that before the coffee is already dripping and sugar has been put into it. So what then? Well, I've to search the whole building for a bottle of milk.

When I "discovered" my behaviour I didn't expect that, I wonder if I have other such rituals...

Release lag

Two days ago we had a release of our product in the middle of the night.

Initially had forgotten to update something in the hurry which then fell back to us and two of us had to stay here and redo half of the stuff until 3am. I`d been one of those two.

But today I`m almost back at default productivity :)

November 16, 2004

Blog update

Perhaps you have noticed it: I've upgraded my left panel... * updated the links * added a section "Recent Stumbles"

This new section shows links I've visited and marked as "I like it" with the StumbleUpon toolbar. The StumbleUpon network throws me on random pages suggested by other StumbleUpon users ("Stumblers") according to my interests. Looks nice :)

I then can rate them as "I like it!" or "Not-for-me" and the system learns more about my likes and dislikes. Also, if I rate a page as nice, an RSS Feed with my "I like it!" sites gets updated.

With help of the RSS Feed plugin I was able to integrate this feed into my blog. And now every time I blog, the list of my 5 recent visited/rated sites gets updated.

I've been looking for something like that for some time already but I haven't found anything until I stumbled across the StumbeUpon/RSSFeed combination. This is exactly what I was searching for.

November 11, 2004

E-Vote seems correct

Wired published an article concerning my yesterdays comment on election irregularities where people from universities claim that Florda E-Vote fraud is unlikely

Nevertheless, they also state that this doesn't mean that there were NO irregularities elsewhere...

November 10, 2004

Election result maps

On Lawrence Lessigs blog I found a link to some nice Maps and cartograms of the 2004 US presidential election results.

The first images on that page are the type of images you find all over in the press, indicating that Republicans have large support all over the US.

But below them you find the maps corrected accordingly to population in the different states and counties and these present a much more event picture.

I also support lessings call to make the exit poll data public so that professionals could take a deeper look into that exit poll vs. election result irregularity in counties where electronic voting machines have been used.

November 8, 2004

Development highlights

Last Thursday I finally finished a feature in our product which I've been working on for two weeks.

It was a bit frustrating because the automatic testcases for the product had to be corrected for the new situation but when I fixed the testdata for one case another test freaked out. Back and forward all the time; change data, compile, run 390+ tests (~12 minutes), evaluate error messages and back to the beginning...

But finally I finished it somehow and for my own surprise I only had to adapt the testcases; my implementation of the feature had worked all the time.

Next thing on friday was that I implemented another feature, which I approximated to need five days to develop, full featured (including testcases) before noon. Four hours instead five days. I was very surprised again when I found out that it worked and nothing was left to do for it.

These two things increased my personal motivation quite a bit.

Another thing last week: I saw that several of our quality assurance people had a long talk with our development manager. I have no idea what exactly was talked about but I have a good feeling because recently I often talked to them about our development processes, structure and quality measures. We all quite agree that the current structure and processes are not suitable for development. Our alignment on projects instead of products constrains us more than it aids us.

Along with that thoughts I found a project called GForge which is like the Sourceforge environment. GForge is based on an earlier CVS snapshot of Sourceforge but has been development independly since that time. I thought about if this could assist us in our development and played around a bit with a test-install of GForge, but I'm still unsure... Have to talk to our Quality Assurance people about that. It surely would be neccessary to integrate our installations of TaskZilla and TWiki with it.

November 5, 2004

4 more years of Dubya

Daily Mirror summarizes this quite well:

How can 59.054.087 people be so DUMB?

November 4, 2004

Four more years...

Depression and Hope.

November 3, 2004

US election (what did you expect?)

Last 24 hours have been a bit an up&down of my expectations from the US elections.

Yesterday morning I was quite sure that Kerry would make the race, into the evening I`ve been sitting in a depressed mood convinced that Bush will win. Into the night my hopes for Kerry rose again and my bet would have gone on him again.

Today morning this was cut down by the news that Bush got Florida and was far ahead of Kerry, keeping that mood until around 10 a.m. Then my hopes went up again when Ohio delayed its result.

Currently it`s going down again and calming on an unsure niveau because I think chances are not very high that Kerry can pick up Ohio through the outstanding votes...

One thought flew through my head two days ago: What if the Bush administration had already catched Bin Ladin and is just keeping the truth from publicity so that they can use him as a "ghost of terrorism" to manipulate the people as they wish with fear and uncertainty? The appearance of Bin Ladin videos often when Bush is under hard pressure strengthens my suspicion...

November 2, 2004

Oracle installation crazyness

Some time ago we had quite problems with installing Oracle on Linux machines (SLES 8) altough this should be certified for Oracle.

The problem was that we couldn't proceed in the Oracle Universal Installer because it was not possible to click on the "Next" button. Nothing happened, it just didn't continue.

Just by accident I now stumbled onto the solution for that: You have to turn your Numlock off.

Is that sane or what?