Antenna improvisation

(March 31, 2007)

When I wanted to watch an episode of The A-Team in TV today, I was surprised by a black screen instead of Hannibal Smith and B.A. Baracus. What happened? At first, I thought the TV software couldn’t cope with the graphics driver I updated today to get a specific game working (we’re talking about Windows here, as you might have guessed :). I became skeptical when the same problem happened to another TV viewing program and even the Linux-based external DVB-T tuner box I have. Something has been wrong with my antenna feed.

Long story short, it turned out to be (most likely) a power outage in the attic where the antenna amplifier is located. For reason’s I’m not going to discuss here, there was no way to fix the problem in time, so I had to live without TV for a day – which would not have been a problem, if it hadn’t been for the boxing match between Henry Maske and Virgil Hill tonight. I really wanted to see this, but since there was no way to make the antenna system working again, I resigned. I phoned my father at home to have him record the fight, and while we were at it, he gave some tips on how to temporarily solve the problem. You know, stuff like »use some uninsulated wire«. Since I don’t have any uninsulated wire in my apartment, I tried the other suggestion: Use the antenna cable and put a screwdriver into it (this works because the center of the plug has a little hole in it). To my great surprise, this actually worked! After some experimentation, I found that the optimal position of this »poor man’s antenna« is close to the window. So I fiddled around a bit and hung the weird construction somehow into the window blinds. The whole thing works like a charm and now I can watch Maske’s (supposed) comeback fight in perfect quality even though the antenna feed is broken.

The tUM 06 party report

(January 1, 2007)

From December 27th to 29th, I’ve been in Karlsruhe-Durlach and attended The Ultimate Meeting 2006. It was again an awesome (and quite successful :) party, although the number and quality of the entries was somewhat below expectations. Read more …

A small guest

(December 3, 2006)

For the following two weeks, a little guest is living here in my apartment: Karl-Friedrich. He is a small (20 cm) and cuddly plush penguin, and he’s here »on vacation« from his two owners, schrd and drosera. He seems to like traveling around in Germany: After he’s been in various places in Chemnitz and Leipzig, he was in Halle and at the Baltic Sea. Now he’s coming to my place and, of course, blogs about it:

K.-F. bei KJ (German)

Ubuntu 6.10 is totally messed up

(October 26, 2006)

Today’s long-awaited release of Ubuntu 6.10 »Edgy Eft« was a good opportunity for me to restore the inactive Linux installation on my main workstation. This computer mainly runs Windows and since the installation of Vista RC1, the experimental Linux installation there was inaccessible. In my distribution tests carried out for the LinuxTag, Ubuntu always was among the top three distros, so installing the newest and coolest fresh release seemed like the right thing to do. Unfortunately, the installer is so severely broken that I didn’t even manage to get the thing on my hard disk …
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The captcha testing post

(October 24, 2006)

Almost no one actually reads my blog, but spammers seem to like it anyway – I get from 10 to 50 spam comments each day. It could be worse, you might say, but nevertheless I grew tired of moderating all these comments and decided to do something about it. So I implemented a captcha – but a special one. The normal »type the text that is contained in this image« class of captchas IMHO is broken by design – either it’s so simple that OCR bots will easily get past it, or it’s hard to implement and even harder to read, so that regular human visitors will have problems recognizing the badly twisted letters. Also, an image-based captcha won’t work for blind people. Audio captchas are even worse, because it requires the user to active Flash or some other dubious plugin or even download a file and listen to it, which may be a problem if there are no speakers connected to the PC or you are in an environment that requires silent operation (e.g. a library). In other words, captchas suck.
This is why I chose another approach: A text captcha. It poses a simple, plain-text English question about basic common knowledge things that should be sufficiently easy to answer. Or, to put it another way: If you are able to read and understand the post and write a comment on it, you are surely able to answer the captcha question, too.
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»Snakes on a Plane«

(September 12, 2006)

There has been quite some hype about this movie: Having a title that is both straightforward and funny (because »snakes on a plane« seems to be some American proverb whose true meaning I haven’t found out yet), it gained very much popularity in the Internet. The huge fan response even made New Line Cinema re-shoot some scenes so that it got a R rating instead of a modest PG-13. There were even some dialogue lines written by the movie’s fans.
All in all, »SoaP« is said to be a B-Movie with an »A« budget. I expected exactly that when I entered the cinema, but the movie turned out to be completely different – in a positive sense.
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Blogging obliges, part 2

(July 27, 2006)

Today I received a blogging questionnaire again, so this time I’ll directly start answering without too much introductory text :)
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CeBIT 2006

(March 14, 2006)

For three or four years now, I’ve been regularly visiting CeBIT (for the uninformed: world’s largest computer fair), usually with an excursion organized by the university and sponsored by some local companies. Of course, I can’t use this comfortable and cheap way any longer. But since I work in Hannover now, getting to CeBIT isn’t hard. So I took most of my overtime and left work after lunch today. After a long tram ride, I had about 4 hours time to visit the exposition. This is much less than I’m used to, so I visited the halls in a well-planned order.
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Best CLT ever.

(March 5, 2006)

Today, the CLT (Chemnitzer Linux-Tage) ended. This is the local linux event (actually the second largest of Germany) I attend every year and have been contributing for three years now. This year, I was again at »Praxis Dr. Tux«, some kind of »live help center« where people can bring their computers and get some help with their problems from experienced users. In addition, I did a comparison (German text) of some distributions targeted at novice users, which was a great success — there were not enough seats for all attendees. In particular, CENSORED got a lot of attention, especially because danimo did a great deal of advertisement. I also did an extra, unplanned presentation on CENSORED at the »Linux night« that was quite a success, too.

OK, I have to stop now, the #s2000 folks are bugging me to leave the place now …

New page theme done

(February 2, 2006)

I’m proud to present the new, custom-build page theme. It’s quite similar to the old theme, but somewhat refreshed in some areas. Moreover, I ditched those enervating saturated (and blue) colors – the new color scheme is much more consistent. (Just in case someone feels like asking: No, I’m not a regular Ubuntu user :)
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