Archive for 2005

The drums are beating faster.

Tuesday, October 11th, 2005

The conference is drawing closer and closer. Pace and rhythm of work are picking up…

Darmstadt does the fest-thing.

Monday, October 10th, 2005

I was happy to be back in Darmstadt again, after a prolonged abscence over the summer. And I was again amazed about this city. There must be a fest or some similarly public place occupying activity at least every second weekend. They never stop. The Südhesse ist a festive person. A good thing. Even though I am not sure if I like the Nierenspießchen.

Muße: Steigende Nachfrage. Ist es der Herbst?

Monday, October 10th, 2005

In der Besucherstatistik meine Website nimmt der Text zur Muße einen zunehmend höheren Rang ein. Ob es an den kürzer werdenden Tagen liegt? Der Sommer vorbei, vielleicht doch ohne die erhoffte Zeit zur Ruhe gehabt zu haben?

Internet Explorer 7 in the wild.

Thursday, September 29th, 2005

pie diagram showing browser shares for visits of this site. Firefox: 19%, Internet Explorer 7: 1%, 6 54%, 5 2%, Konqueror: 3%, Mozilla: 13%, Netscape 7: 2%, 3: 1%, Opera 6: 2%, 0: 2%, Safari: 3%Well, well, seems the future has begun. Hopefully, it will really be a future that is more standards compliant and privacy friendly. Today, I noticed my first visitor using Internet Explorer 7. Makes me wonder, how long it will take to reduce the share of version 6 to the current level of version 5…
The referrer said that the Internet Explorer 7 user was googling for Emma Watson (a.k.a. Baby Spice) pictures.

Geography, Chicago, and disorderly materialities.

Thursday, September 29th, 2005

Well, this is some of the best news of this year, I must say. After being reminded by Mr. Meier that there is a potentially interesting session at the 2006 Meeting of the AAG I wrote an abstract and applied for the session called Ordering / Disordering Space and Matter. Yesterday, I received the confirmation that my paper has been accepted… YAY!

I am so looking forward to being in Chicago again – I will be able to visit old pals in Bloomington again. I was hoping for an opportunity like that very much. And I must say that reading the other abstracts for this session was quite exciting. Very imaginative and captivating subjects – this will be an excellent session, I am sure. Counting the weeks until March next year…

Automatic Irritations.

Thursday, September 29th, 2005

Following is my abstract for the session Ordering / Disordering Space and Matter of the 2006 Meeting of the AAG, March 7-11, Chicago, Illinois.

Based on ethnographic research in railway stations and passenger terminals for ferries, this paper wedges itself between people and the things they encounter. Detailed analysis of digital video recordings allows insight into the brief exchanges between men, women and artifacts. Sometimes, these exchanges do not unfold as planned, irritations arise and expectations are thwarted causing a reordering of conduct. Artifacts like the ticket selling machine or the materiality of a revolving door can break established routines thereby opening spaces for play or interaction with others. Terminals with their ticket selling counters, their shops and waiting facilities are places of a distinct phenomenologically accessible materiality; this paper will get involved in this materiality, tracing the relations between people, things, and socio-spatial constellations to understand how the rule of a certain normality is established in terminals and when and how it is destabilized.

Not sure about the violence.

Wednesday, September 28th, 2005

About a month ago I saw Sin City – impressive pictures, super soundtrack and excellent actors that blend into the the dark and gritty world of Frank Miller’s Sin City perfectly. It is the best comic adaption that I have seen so far. Comics are one of my favorite media – the story telling possiblities offered by putting pictures into sequences are stunning. (If you haven’t done so until now, you definitely have to read Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics, which is also translated into German. One of the few must have reads that I would recommend to anyone.)
However, I do have one problem with the comic market which definitely moves into focus when watching Sin City as a movie: the aggressive depiction of violence. From my perspective, the violence in Sin City wasn’t too bad; I found it less disconcerting than the comic sequence in Kill Bill vol. 1 for example. The use of colors other than red for blood, the obvious non-realism of the massive amount of injuries sustained by the protagonists and the whole mystic and dark atmosphere made dealing with the violence easier for me. Nonetheless, I remain skeptical about the whole kill splatter shoot die moan guts-flying-around issue – my non-spilled guts tell me to…
IMDb entry | Trailer

Printing pleasure.

Tuesday, September 27th, 2005

While I was on vacation in France this summer I printed Wikipedia content for the first time. And boy was I pleasantly surprised. The print had a different layout than the website. It was perfectly suited to reading on a piece of paper, had the aduquate kind of information and ditched web-specific layout aspects. Very nice and all that without having to click on some kind of go here to see the printer friendly version link.

Of course, I wanted to implement this for my website too. Behind the scenes, this is based on good CSS code, which offers hooks to change layout and other features of your content according to the media that is used to access the content on your page (i.e. screens, printed paper, sound, braille thingies for blind people, mobile phones etc.). I knew about this almost since my first dabblings in CSS, but I never collected enough guts to actually write the code for my site.
This changed today – because I was procrastrinating, trying to evade working on a paper that I have to finish very soon, and because of mentioning this feature of CSS to Tini a few days ago, I wanted to see how hard it is to implement. Thanks to SELFHTML and a bit of browsing I was able to hack the changes that are necessary to have a separate print version of my diploma thesis in about four hours – even though the thesis consists of about fourteen separate pages, includes lots of different links, pictures, edits and so forth. Quite a bit less time than I would have feared, I have to admit. I will let this settle for a bit and then implement the same changes for my other pages, which should not take more than an hour – the blog is still waiting for a general code overhaul anyway, during which I will include a print style sheet.
One thing did not work as intended though: the @page part of the CSS 2 specification is not fully implemented by the different modern browsers (we’re not talking Internet Explorer here anyway), therefore the page margins will be different and not always perfect when printing with different browsers. However, I don’t care about this much at this point of time – hopefully these printing features will be implemented sooner rather than later. Here, you can help: vote for the relevant Mozilla bugs 115199 and 286443 in bugzilla!

Organizing, tagging, and analyzing video clips on the Mac.

Saturday, September 17th, 2005

After finishing the introductory chapter of my dissertation I am now diving into the video and photographic data which I collected in the course of the last two years. Not an easy thing. Photos are not a problem. (I am fully satisfied with GraphicConverter’s abilities and make extensive use of IPTC entries to add keywords to my image files, which then get indexed by Apple’s Spotlight search.) However, tagging movie clips in a way that allows for convenient search and analysis is much more difficult. I decided to use iDive by Aquafadas software since it got some really good reviews and seemed to be nicely integrated to Mac OS X technologies (Spotlight again). It was a good choice! Although I am not able to tag arbitrary stretches of clips (overlapping would be best), I can split my clips into multiple parts and can tag those. This is not what makes me really happy about choosing iDive though – the really good aspect, as with all software, is the developer. I sent him feedback (bug reports and feature and enhancement requests). I got an answer only a few hours later. And: he is planning to implement almost all the things that I asked for. Most excellent! Superb! I am looking forward to work with a program that will slowly grow into the tool that I really need. Hail small, responsive developers!

Werbung für die WASG.

Sunday, September 11th, 2005

Frau Kitta hat nun die Seite für Herbert Schui online gestellt. Da meine Stimme dort hingehört, wo auch mein Herz schlägt, hoffe ich, dass es möglichst viele Stimmen für das Bündnis aus Linkspartei/PDS und WASG gibt. Herbert Schui ist ein Kandidat der für volkswirtschaftlich begründete, kritische Politik steht und der nur eine Bereicherung für den Bundestag sein kann. Ich bin auch durch persönliche Bekanntschaft davon überzeugt, dass es eine gute Entscheidung ist, mit einer in Niedersachsen abgegeben Stimme für das Linksbündnis die Chancen für einen Einzug von Herbert Schui in den Bundestag zu erhöhen – er steht dort auf Platz drei der Liste, es kann also auf jede Stimme ankommen.

Röchelruf und Münchnerbierherz.

Friday, September 9th, 2005

Worte wie diese sind die Freuden des Alltags auch wenn man fern der Heimat sitzt und den größten Teil des Tages auf den Bildschirm starrt. Und das obwohl hier in Kopenhagen glänzendes Wetter ist und es an Verlockungen für andere Tätigkeiten nicht mangelt…
Ansonsten habe ich erfreulicherweise heute das erste richtige Kapitel meiner Dissertation fertig stellen können (die Einbettungen) – die Öffnungszeiten in der Kongeligen Bibliotek erlauben auch Spätstartern wie mir noch einen produktiven Arbeitstag. Internet gibts da auch, allerdings nur über Port 80, so dass ich keinen Zugriff auf den Server der Zedat habe. Abends ist meine Bildschirmkondition dann so schlapp, dass ich es kaum auf die Reihe bekomme, noch einen Eintrag ins Blog zu befördern. Vielleicht hilft Routine vor Ort – zwei Wochen bin ich ja noch hier. Mal schauen, wie weit ich meinen arg ins Hintertreffen geratenen Zeitplan wieder einholgen kann…

Es ist wieder soweit.

Friday, August 26th, 2005

Ich bin ja ein großer Anhänger des Wählens entsprechend von Wahlprogrammen. Das ständige Gerede a la soundso von der xxx hat das und das gesagt, ich finde die und die zu populistisch / zu abgehoben / zu wirtschaftsfeindlich / zu elitär / zu weltfremd / zu verlogen geht mir gehörig auf den Senkel. Schaut in die Programme, streicht offensichtliche Wahlgeschenke und strategische Pseudoversprechungen raus und wählt die Partei, die in die Eures Erachtens die richtige Politik machen will. Eine kleine, sehr gut gemachte Hilfe dabei ist der Wahl-O-Mat. Mehr zum Wahl-O-Maten und zur Bundestagswahl im Internet gibt es im entsprechenden Artikel des Heise Newstickers.

Blog available again.

Thursday, August 25th, 2005

To those of you who wondered what had happened: the zedat people performed a system update which oviously caused some kind of havoc on the generation of cgi scripts. Daniel notified me that the blog hasn’t been available since sometime yesterday. :O I notified zedat’s web admin and in the course of less than an hour the problem was fixed. That’s a good response time, I’d say. Thanks Daniel, thanks Phillip.

Perception, Aesthetics, and Encapsulation – Encountering Space and the Materiality of Railway and Ferry Terminal Buildings.

Wednesday, August 24th, 2005

Following is my abstract for our college’s concluding conference on Technological and Aesthetic (Trans)Formations of Society in October. Writing this has renewed my good feelings and motivation for this conference.

Terminals are places of modernity, of transport and communication. They are portals to the city, places of representation and power, but they are also places of deviance, decline and seduction. In this presentation, I will look at the polished stone, steel and glass surfaces but I will also look into the shadows and plumb the depths of these places. How do they interact with the people that use them? The aesthetics of the things, the technology and the architecture of railway and ferry terminals is perceived by women and men who use these places. Entering these places, people change direction, speed and mood. To capture and analyze these changes, happening in the crucial moment of entering a place, I want to introduce the term encapsulation (Einhhüllung).

With the aid of digital video recordings the different aspects of the process of encapsulation will be explored and displayed for consideration and critique. Encapsulation is projected as phenomenologically rooted term that has both passive and active components. Passive, because people are encapsulated by a specific, preexistent atmosphere when they enter a place. Active, because people encapsulate or envelop themselves when they enter a place. They build up a protective cover around them, to shield them from potential dangers and irritations. Confronting the abstract analytical term encapsulation with concrete everyday life in railway and ferry stations should demonstrate both its productivity and its limitations.

Alles neu, alles schneller & wohl auch billiger.

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2005

Kompliment – die Umstellung auf Alice als Telefon und DSL ging denkbar einfach und unkompliziert von statten:
Am 9. August Auftrag per Web erteilt, Anschlusskennung des Werbers (danke, Andi & Tini) angegeben, am 11. August Schreiben von Alice mit Anschlusskennung und weiteren Daten bekommen (in dem eine Anschlusslegung für Mitte September angekündigt wurde). Am 15. August DSL-Modem, Splitter und Kabel bekommen, dazu ein Schreiben von Alice in dem die Anschlussumstellung für den 23. August angekündigt wird, ungefähr gleichzeitig eine Kündigungsbestätigung von der T-Com bekommen, in dem eine Kündigung zum tatsächlichen Umschaltzeitpunkt angekündigt wurde. Heute aufgestanden, Rechner hochgefahren, keinen Internetzugang gehabt, Splitter und DSL-Modem ausgetauscht, Zugangskennung im Router eingetragen und *vrooooooom* mit einer Dauer-Downloadgeschwindigkeit von ca. 228 Kilobyte pro Sekunde Daten auf den Rechner befördert. Yeah. So solls sein.
Nu sollte ich allerdings lieber via Skype in Norwegen anrufen: 4,49 cent pro Minute ist nämlich der Alice Tarif für ein Gespräch nach Norwegen.

From garden-fest to work.

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2005

The end of this year’s leisure season has come. The future months will show if it came just on time or too late… I am seriously behind schedule with my dissertation therefore having at least several weeks of highly concentrated work in front of me – including a disruption caused by our college’s conference in October.

To smoothen the switch I took a relatively early train from Buchholz to Berlin. The hope is that I will only need this day for going from feeding the washing machine, re-organizing my stuff, staring mindlessly into thin air, distributing and caressing birthday presents, updating and synchronizing my computers, eating homemade plum pie, feeling disoriented, going through accumulated mail and odd household jobs via the fearsome afraid-to-start-working procrastination to actual page-production mode. The updating-my-blog phase is now done with at least.

Making Mozilla.

Friday, August 12th, 2005

Yesterday, I made my first direct contribution to the Mozilla Project, the organization that programs and distributes my favorite browsers, Camino for Mac OS X, and Firefox for most other platforms (AOL‘s Netscape is also built upon the Mozilla sourcecode). I would have liked to contribute to this great open source project earlier, however, a lack of resources and programming skills made this difficult. Therefore I have so far only contributed by posting in related forums, voting for bugs that bugged my in particular, and generally spreading the word. Yesterday however, I was again annoyed by one of the quirks that sometimes make you frustrated – in this case is was the non-standard way of Camino’s bookmark export function. A vote for fixing this seemed to be in order. To my surprise several searches in the Mozilla’s bug database bugzilla (yes, I know) turned out nothing. After some gnawing of fingernails I decided to take the plunge and write my first bug report. It is Bug 304118 – improve export of menu spacer / bookmark separator. I was crossing my fingers hoping not be told that this is an old hat, see bug number blablbabla. Seems my fears were unjustified: the bug was acknowledged (thanks Jasper!) and, to my utter astonishment, a fix has already been submitted!
I guess that’s a birthday present ;)

Zelte die Zweite.

Tuesday, August 9th, 2005

Noch ein kleines Nachwort zum Zeltunglück: folgender Text steht in der Aufbauanleitung des Iglu-Dom-Tunnelzelts Modell Mallorca 3 unter der Überschrift Verhalten bei besonderen Umweltbedingungen:

Das Zelt muss bei Schneefall oder Sturm abgebaut werden.

Sehr lustig. Die Aufbauanleitung befindet sich selbstverständlich im Verpackungssack des Zelts. Die Produktbeschreibung auf dem Sack führt unter den Ausstattungsmerkmalen folgendes auf:

  • Moskitonetz-Eingang
  • 2 Hochentlüftungen
  • Seitenfenster im Vorbau
  • Sturmverspannung

Haha. Tolles Zelt. Die sogenannte Sturmverspannung besteht aus sieben Schnüren, für die es am Zeit drei Befestigungsösen gibt. Die anderen Schnüre soll am einfach am Gestänge festbinden. Das habe ich auch getan und das hat dazu geführt, dass eine der Schnüre die Stoffführung für das Gestänge beim Sturm über eine Länge von circa dreißig Zentimetern weggerissen hat. Tolle Sturmverspannung, die man bei Sturmgefahr lieber abnehmen soll. Ist ja eh viel besser das Zelt eingepackt unter den Arm zu klemmen und sich ein bisschen umstürmen und umschneien zu lassen.

ICE 1 version 2.0.

Tuesday, August 9th, 2005

Finally. My biggest gripe with the German railway – there are no power plugs in the first generation of ICE trains – seems to be in the process of being removed. In a recent announcement the Deutsche Bahn has stated that the first train with a new interior design has entered service on the fith of August. The rest of the fleet will be upgraded until 2008. Marvellous news. They will switch the interior design to be similar to the design of the third generation ICE trains which is my favorite design in the last fifteen years or so: comfortable seats, enoughs plugs and a more open feel. I hate the old seats which have enormous unmovable armrests. Made me feel like sitting in a cage or in a surgery seat put into upright position. I will post a new entry as soon as I have entered the first of the renovated trains (the first one is ICE 787 running the route Hamburg to Munich).
Mehr Informationen und Bilder.

Wear & tear and the mending of my trusty Pismo.

Saturday, August 6th, 2005

Whew. I had to sigh several sighs of relief after Andi and I finally attached my Powerbook to the local stereo setup and successfully listened through the track Ortungstest by the German hip-hop band Fettes Brot. What happened that would cause such a joint effort in advanced breathing techniques? In the course of the last weeks the audio outlet on the back of my laptop began to show signs of a wackelkontakt. Rough rides in our car through the french countryside finally caused the wackelkontakt to morph into a full blown audio desaster: we weren’t able to listen to my music files anymore, therefore having to submit to french advertisement jingle harassment hammered through the diverse radio stations. Luckily Andi knows his way with a soldering iron much better than I do… After getting a soldering iron in Limoux’s M. Bricolage, buying a size 9 torx and a size 0 philipps screwdriver we embarked on to the repair of my Pismo’s audio outlet. And I have to tell you, it was a long journey. We had to disassemble the whole laptop to be able to get at the audio outlet. Lots of different sensible parts to be pryed out of their locations and tons of screws to manage. The audio outlet is covered by a metal shield which Andi had to solder off and on again with equipment that wasn’t really up to the task. Which is why he accidentally melted the plastic casings of some close by stuff to our shared dismay. However, some knife-scrapings and needle-piercings later the plastic was back into some sort of probably working shape. The actual repair of the audio outlet was almost trivial: two solderins points had been broken loose and were easily reattached and reinforced with a generous measure of soldering stuff. After putting the pieces together again the PowerBook did not boot up, not even making a sound after pressing the power button. Some more serious pressing of plugs and contacts was required (*cough* the processor board wasn’t firmly put into its seat *cough*) and finally the good old workhorse was booting again. Lo and behear: audio was working again, Andi is my personal hero of the week and I am really relieved that I can keep the laptop that I have grown quite fond of over the course of the last years… If you have any questions regarding surgery and patient, feel free to contact me – I did not have the nerve to take pictures, but I have a pretty vived recollection of the events and protagonists.