Archive for the ‘tech’ Category

Creating a commons.

Wednesday, July 7th, 2004

Today, I finished updating all my pages so that their use is regulated by the Creative Commons License. Again, I encourage you to inform yourself about this project, for example by checking out this small explanatory comic.
In addition, I also reworked some of the code that I’ve been using on my pages. Now it is, of course, even more up-to-date, more accessible (Triple-A conformity almost everywhere) and less cluttered. I especially enhanced the CSS code, because I finally got myself acquainted with the properties of nested CSS.

My favorite browser has been updated.

Thursday, June 24th, 2004

You can now download the newest release of Camino, the Mac OS X native browser developed by the Mozilla Foundation. If you ask yourself why you should download and use this browser, check this blog entry.

Waves of comment spam.

Saturday, June 19th, 2004

Comment spam is becoming more frequent these weeks. Yesterday I had to delete about 20 comments that were linking to a bunch of porn sites. Usually, I only have a few scattered comment spams per week, but sometimes there is a more massive generation of comment entries. I am hoping that the next revision of my blogging tool Blosxom will include some kind of anti-comment spam mechanism that does not rely on password protection (which I wouldn’t want to introduce).

More information about you.

Thursday, June 3rd, 2004

Me? Yes, about you. SiteMeter, the service which I use to analyze the traffic on my site, seems to have upgraded its statistic tools so that their diagrams now differentiate between Netscape and Mozilla browsers (the detailed reports of single visits always did) and between Classic Mac OS and Mac OS X systems (again, the detailed reports show the information as provided by the browser, which usually includes such information). These are welcome additions which I have missed for quite some time in their diagrams.
By the way: the percentage of people accessing my site with Netscape 4.x browsers has dropped below 0.5% now…

More wikipedia.

Saturday, May 29th, 2004

After making several minor updates to the entry on Ethnomethodologie and linking to the German entry on conversation analysis, I quickly updated that one too. This is fun! Finally a possibility to contribute real content to an open source project without having to know a programming language. I urge you to try it out yourself, makes you feel good.
German wikipedia | English wikipedia

Joining the wikipedia.

Friday, May 28th, 2004

I just participated in the German Wikipedia for the first time. Inspired by today’s reading I edited the entry for Ethnomethodologie. We’ll see where this is going…

Been busy, having visitors.

Tuesday, May 25th, 2004

Last week I had a presentation at the post-grad college (which went reasonably well, as I might discuss in more detail in another post), over the weekend I’ve been in Hamburg, and yesterday I came back together with my mom, whose Windows machine I am currently de-sassering… Soon!

Bluetooth scare.

Saturday, May 15th, 2004

On my way to Darmstadt this Wednesday I had the luck to sit in an ICE2 wagon, which provides power for my PowerBook – usually you only have ‘powerless’ ICE1 wagons going from Berlin via Franfurt to Basel or Zürich. So I had my PowerBook up and running including digital paraphernalia such as my USB bluetooth dongle to connect to my mobile. Well, I was pretty surprised when suddenly a message popped up that a file called “vorsicht.pwi” was sent to my computer via bluetooth! A look into the directory which I have designated to be the receiving directory for bluetooth files revealed that indeed, there was a new file bearing that name. This was the content of the file (there were a lot of non-readable characters in the file too, you can download this and the other file as a zipped archive if you want to check out the exact contents):

 Vorsicht, sie wurden gehackt! Sit auch im Zug!!    B ”   #     O 

A minute or two later I got another message with the same name. This time the content read:

   d d    P   /   =
    S     S    @    
    F    E *  !   A *   E L     +
 Vorsicht, sie wurden gehackt! Sitze auch im Zug!! Bitte aufstehen!!!    B +   $
 !      ’
 A !    B ” 

Well, I did not stand up, as the ‘hacker’ requested, instead unplugging the bluetooth dongle and then checking my bluetooth settings. So far I had both not changed the default settings which turn on visibility for my bluetooth port and which disable encryption for bluetooth connections. I then used my mobile (a SonyEricsson T68i) to look for other visible bluetooth devices in the train compartment, and subsequently discovered a device with the name “Nokia6610” (not sure if the model number was this or something else). I didn’t do anything related to the Nokia though and later decided to turn on my bluetooth connection again, this time with visibility turned off and encryption turned on. No more detectable hassles for the rest of the trip. Strange nonetheless. I guess this person did at maximum have access to the directory which I have designated as being accessible for bluetooth devices. Seemed to be more a joke to scare people off (and correctly point to the weaknesses of unprotected bluetooth connections). However, Heise has posted an article on bluetooth device security problems on the same day that I was ‘hacked’ – nice coincidence.

Einfach und schnell ins Internet?

Thursday, April 29th, 2004

Insbesondere einfach. Nämlich nur einmal. Ich habe mir ja vor einer Weile mal so eine rail&mail Plastikkarte von der DB gekauft, um in der DB Lounge in Frankfurt zu mailen, zu surfen und solche Beiträge wie diesen hochzuladen. Hat ja auch alles schön funktioniert: Für 3,95 € eine Karte erstanden, Kartennummer und PIN freigerubbelt, selbige im Browser auf der automatisch angezeigten Startseite eingegeben und – schwupp – online gewesen. Unter dem Preis steht auf der Oberseite der Karte noch 60 Min. und Gültigkeit bis: 31.12.2003. Fein, nicht wahr: 3.95 € für 60 Minuten. Als ich mich dann letzte Woche wieder einloggen wollte, bekam ich immer nur eine Fehlermeldung zu sehen: die von mir angegebene Nummer sei nicht gültig. Fragezeichen. Nachdem Ausprobieren verschiedene Browser habe ich dann doch eine der Angestellten in der Lounge angesprochen, die mir dann sagte, dass meine Karte nur einmal gültig sei. Ausrufezeichen. Tatsächlich, auf der Rückseite der Karte steht als letzter von vier Punkten: Ablauf des Guthabens erfolgt mit 1. Login. Soso. Ich hab das ja im Kontext mit den oben genannten Angaben auf der Vorderseite der Karte so interpretiert, dass (selbstverständlicherweise) mit dem ersten Einloggen das Guthaben abzulaufen begänne, nicht, dass es sofort abgelaufen sein würde. Völlig absurd. Es gibt ja auch eine andere Karte, die teuerer ist und wohl so funktioniert, wie ich es mir auch für meine Karte gedacht hatte. Als ich mich beim ersten Einkauf nach den vorhandenen Karten erkundigt habe, wurde mir dieser Unterschied offensichtlich nicht erklärt. Wer wäre denn sonst auch so blöd, sich für knapp vier Euro eine Karte zu holen, die nur für eine Transaktion gültig ist (abgesehen davon, das ich das Ausgeben von Einmalplastikkarten auch aus ökologischer Sicht für unangemessen halte). Ich werde mich noch auf offiziellem Wege bei der DB beschweren, mal sehen, was die dazu sagen.

End of the spreadsheet scare.

Monday, April 26th, 2004

Last week, Kerstin participated in an advanced MS Office course. Today, I finally learned how to efficiently enter and use data in an Excel spreadsheet. Not that I never used Excel before, but now I can do the things I did about 200% faster, and I even know the difference between relative and absolute referrals in Excel. Hah. Pie diagrams and uncorrectly implemented statistical analysis aplenty!

Trouble with trackback.

Sunday, April 18th, 2004

Today I tried to finally implement more trackback functionality for this blog (I wanted to trackback to a comment that I made in which I mentioned an entry in Betalogue, Pierre Igot’s blog). I failed. I could not get the trackback cgi scripts offered by Moveable Type to run and communicate with blosxom, even though others obviously were able to get this running. I did not invest too much time, since it seems that Rael Dornfest will publish blosxom 3.0 in a reasonable timeframe. Then I will take another stab at implementing trackbacks.

Code overhaul.

Tuesday, March 30th, 2004

This blog is now written in XHTML 1.0 Transitional. Which should be an invisible change except for the different W3C badge in the column to the right. Another change is much more visible: during the overhaul I realized that the default font size for the blog was set to 10 pixels. I changed it to a relative setting and made it a bit bigger (still set to the value “small” though) – this should increase readability and reduce everbody’s squinting at the screen, though it might not be as pretty as the old setting.

Comment spam deleted.

Friday, March 26th, 2004

If you missed the ‘opportunity’ to check what I meant in Tuesday’s entry, I have uploaded a screenshot of the comments of this hot topic, to quote daniel…

Triple-A is too much.

Friday, March 26th, 2004

Today I read my way through the current working draft of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 and decided that I won’t be able to invest the time and effort to conform to the upcoming guidelines sufficiently to ever claim triple-A conformance. However, they clarified the conditions necessitating a sitemap (yay!): documents greater than 50,000 words or sites larger than 50 perceived pages. They admit that this isn’t a very clear requirement: What’s a perceived page? What if it’s a voice XML application? How does it apply to Web applications? Why 50 and 50,000? – but it’s good enough for me.


Wednesday, March 24th, 2004

I just checked the hot topics link in the column to the right to see if anyone has commented on any not-immediately-visible entry and guess what I found: someone is spamming my blog with porn links! This is the first time I noticed this, I haven’t even heard that people do this. How I hate that. If you want to check out what happened take a look at these spammed comments. I will remove this stuff tomorrow, so that you have a chance to see yourself (if you want to). Things like this are the reasons why people put disclaimers on their sites, I guess…

To sitemap or not to sitemap.

Wednesday, March 24th, 2004

A while ago, I noticed that the World Wide Web Consortium does not only offer Web Content Accessibility Guidelines – it also offers these nice logos for the three different levels of conformance. After reading the guidelines it seemed to me that the only criterion that the post-graduate college’s page (which I designed) does not completely comply with is checkpoint 13.3, because it doesn’t offer a sitemap or table of contents. Since I have this weird urge to get the best W3C accessibility badge available I started to read a bit about sitemap design. I quickly realized that there is not nearly as much literature on this topic to be found as I would have thought. So I read what I found and started to think, draw a few basic designs, and hack some CSS code to display the stuff in a map-ish way without relying on a static picture or tables. After investing quite a bit of time into the whole issue, I realized that it just doesn’t make sense to produce a sitemap for a site that does not have any real complexity. The few sections that are available can be navigated to on every page via the navigation bar, and the if there are further links in the respective section they are all available from that page. Looking at these facts, I decided that the site does fully comply to section 13 as it is, because navigating this site would only be made more complex if I add a mostly redundant sitemap or table of contents. *eyes WAI AAA badge eagerly*

When will the day come?

Wednesday, February 25th, 2004

It is not to be believed. It is nerve-wracking. I’ve put my diploma thesis online two years ago – since then the percentage of people visiting my site with the dreaded Netscape Navigator 4.x versions has not really declined. (Navigator 4.x dreaded? Why? Check these links if you want to know more: for people who know html, for Germans who are interested.)
In the beginning the percentage of Navigator 4.x users was hovering about four to eight percent. These days it may still reach 3 percent. This is just so utterly frustrating since I don’t want to introduce the more interesting features offered by CSS if they break the browsing experience for a significant amount of visitors; especially if those visitors are marginalized because of their hardware/software combination anyway. Not everybody has access even to a Pentium II 300 Mhz upward machine on which Windows 98 SE and Internet Explorer 5.x is installed. However, seeing the technological conservatism of many academic internet users, it seems to be likely that many people are browsing with Navigator 4.x versions because that is the browser which introduced them to the internet, and they don’t want to change the way they access the net. *sighs* Please spread modern browser evangelism and help people install browser that are more modern that Netscape Navigator/Communicator 4.x or Internet Explorer 4.x! Of course, I do recommend the browser developed by the open source community such as the Mozilla family.

Finish in sight.

Saturday, February 7th, 2004

Another week’s work is done. This week I had quite a workload, as I had to prepare three different theory sessions for the History of Sociology class that I am teaching. The strike earlier this semester and my illness in the first week of this year made it necessary that we pack more stuff into the last sessions and even come up with an additional evening session. In addition, Lars and I had to do some conference-proposal related research which tightened the schedule even further.

However, it was a nice week. After wednesday’s History of Sociology evening session we went out to a pub with a significant percentage of people who participate in my seminar. It was my first teacher-drinks-cold-beverages-with-his-students experience ‘from the other side.’ It was very nice. I enjoyed the seminar itself, the students (most of them first semesters/freshmen) were better than I expected them to be, and going to the pub was nice too. If circumstances bring up the possibility of teaching this seminar again, I would be happy to do so.

Next week will be the last week of this semester. Only one more session remains to be prepared (Ulrich Beck on Globalization), and a final friday meeting of the college’s members lies ahead. Yeah!

New features.

Monday, January 19th, 2004

I added some new stuff to the blog. In the column to the right you can now choose a category by which to browse this blog. This was always possible – you had to click on the category link below the article to do that. As not everybody is technical-minded enough to use this feature in such an implicit way, I put explicit links to the main categories into the sidebar.
The other feature is really new; I had to install a plug-in for blosxom to enable this feature. The plug-in is called recentwritebacks. It allows everybody to add the ending “?recent=x” (without quotes and a number instead of the x) to the URL of my blog and then see all entries that were commented during the specified last x (number) of days. To make this feature more accessible I put a new link into the sidebar which takes you to the entries commented during the last week. Check it out!

Spreading blogness.

Sunday, January 18th, 2004

Today I have registered this blog at several sites:,, and
We’ll see if that has an effect and what the effect will be. Any potential new visitors to this blog: you are welcome!