Archive for February, 2005

Dissertation take-off!

Sunday, February 27th, 2005

I am still dazzled, nervous, and adrenalin-hyped. I just finished the outline for my dissertation. This outline (done with the incredibly useful and well-designed OmniOutliner Professional) contains not only headlines for chapters, it also contains the respective chapters’ basic structure, and ideas, and hints regarding what I will actually write. This would be enough to generate a surge of adrenalin, however, this outline also contains page numbers, giving the best estimate possible at this point in time on how many pages each section of the text will have. Currently, the total is at 186 pages. I guess it is more likely to become longer than shorter. This is not all yet. One more piece of information has been entered by yours truly into this outline: the dates on which the respective sections have to be finished.
Whew. I am still stunned. After some tweaking, I have set the final page to be completed on the 26th of March 2006, leaving me with three weeks to do layout and corrections before my scholarship will end in the middle of April. The time table acknowledges things like trips, holidays, upcoming conferences, seminars etc. as far as it is possible to do this now. I have to write about 3 to 7 pages per week of writing. I would like to finish one or two weeks earlier though. The best chance of overtaking this time table – thereby making the final phase of writing my dissertation less stressful – is to be more productive in the next two or three months, so hold your thumbs for me.

*takes a deep breath*

Screen real estate growing.

Friday, February 25th, 2005

Another upgrade in my hardware department: This week I bought a LC Display on eBay. I purchased an Eizo FlexScan L685 for the price of € 290 (including shipping). It is an 18 inch flat screen display with two input ports and a 4-port USB hub included. Having two video input ports is really excellent for me – I can connect my PowerBook and my G4 PowerMac at the same time, using the huge 18 inch display as additional screen estate for the PowerBook when I need it. Just the press of a button away. I’ll check if I can get a cheap USB switch too, so that I can use one keyboard-mouse combo for both computers, further minimizing clutter on my desk, and making my ergonomic keyboard and mouse readily available for my laptop too.
The display is older than I thought (more than 4500 hours of use, the screen manager says), but it doesn’t feel old. It is spotless, has no pixel defects, and it is amazingly bright, clear, and colorful. I personally think I made a very good deal. At least if it doesn’t die in the course of the next 18 months or so. My former display (17 inch CRT) slowly got worse and worse, small fonts getting hard to read so that my eyes started to complain even more. No complaints about sharpness anymore. A nice side effect of it being an 18 inch display with a resolution of 1280×1024 pixels is that the pixels on the Eizo and on my PowerBook have almost exactly the same density (~90ppi), so that the size of windows and pictures doesn’t change when I move them from one screen to the other. Call me a happy camper!

Conferences, conferences, conferences.

Wednesday, February 23rd, 2005

This seems to be the motto of the year. Sizzling hot from my inbox comes the newest announcement: our college’s concluding conference Technisierung/Ästhetisierung – Technological and Aesthetic (Trans)Formations of Society is now putting out it’s call for papers. Check out the conference website to learn more about potential panels, program, and registration.

I also encourage you to take a closer look into the next German issue of Le Monde Diplomatique – you should be able to find an announcement for our conference Negotiating Urban Conflicts.

Angenehme Störungen.

Tuesday, February 22nd, 2005

Vorderseite des KonferenzflyersAm Freitag war ich in schönen Clubhaus der FU Berlin in Dahlem auf der Tagung Steuerung und Störung. Gute Vorträge, offene Diskussion, aufgeschlossene TeilnehmerInnen und ReferentInnen. Leider habe ich auf Grund schweren Verschlafens dem Vortrag von Christian Kehrt nicht lauschen können, auch wenn sein Thema (Das Fliegen ist immer noch ein gewagtes Risiko – Risiko und Kontrolle in der Flugzeugtechnik) für den Konferenzflyer Bildgebend war, wie man zur Linken sehen kann. Erfreulicherweise sind auch andere Menschen der Videoanalyse aufgeschlossen, auch wenn eine lästige Einordnung in die Lager der deutschen Methodenszene kaum vermeidbar erscheint. Das Spektrum der Vorträge am Freitag war breit, aber zueinander passend, geerdet und sich auf interessante Weise ergänzend.
Nett abgerundet wurde Abend noch durch eine wirklich gelungene Papiertheater Vorstellung von Rüdiger Koch aus Berlin. Die dargestellte Wolfschluchtszene aus dem Freischütz war dramatisch und die Aufklärung über die eingesetzte Tricktechnik erhellend und lustig.

Sweden is in Berlin.

Sunday, February 20th, 2005

ticket for berlinale movieThanks to my movie-biz apartment mate Olli I got a ticket for Popularmusik från Vittula, a movie based on the novel of the same name. To my dismay this movie (and the novel) are classified as being “for teens”. Germans seem to have a problem with (Scandinavian) Literature that deals with the adolescence and young adulthood, not accepting it into the body of “serious” or “adult” fiction. Grrrr. Well, as can be guessed from my frustration about this, I am quite convinced that these are really good stories, that should be read by adults, and especially by them! A bit of reflection about what you actually wanted to do when you were younger, about your dreams, and – quite essential – about your dissappointments, your bad experiences would certainly do some good not only in these troubled times. This movie does a very good job reflecting this, with an adequate amount of lightness, humor and seriousness. I have laughed more than my share while watching this movie, and I was moved and touched. Get the novel (which I haven’t read yet) or watch the movie. While you’re at it, try to get one of the novels written by Erlend Loe (sadly, they have been out of print for much too long here in Germany).
IMDb entry

I like his style, but he has been better.

Friday, February 18th, 2005

The last movie I saw in Darmstadt has been A Very Long Engagement (German title: Mathilde). This is the most recent movie directed by Jeunet – and it is again featuring Audrey Tatou (best known as Amélie). In the World War I setting of this movie, the fantastic elements are not as outrightly presented as in his other films. Still, there always remains some uncertainty if something not quite normal or natural is going on or not. Jeunet pays much attention to detail and to color – that is why I really like his movies. However, for me this movie does not come close to Delicatessen or The City of Lost Children, both probably belonging to my top ten movies. I guess the reason for this is that he is best when he was working together with Marc Caro, head-on into the grotesque and arabesque.
IMDb entry | Trailer

After the long blogging break it is again time for … tada! … another quiz: From which famous American author did I learn the words grotesque and arabesque?

It is not easy to be compliant.

Saturday, February 12th, 2005

Dear readers, I must ask you to bear with me in this time of mishaps: a few days ago I changed the way my blog is delivered to your browser – at least if it is a standards compliant browser. Now, this weblog is being delivered with the correct MIME type of application/xhtml+xml, instead of being delivered with the type text/html that is appropriate for mere old-fashioned HTML.
The side effect of doing this is that browsers of the Gecko familiy (Mozilla, Firefox, Camino, etc.) only render this page if the underlying code is 100% correct. Not a single small error is permitted. If the browser encounters such an error, you will see a short description of the error in the browser window. May I ask you to send me a quick note describing where you encountered what kind of error? Just like Christian (M.D.) – always an example to the rest of us – did today.

Trample down on German tradition.

Wednesday, February 9th, 2005

Florian just sent me this link I would love to have one of these, alas, I can’t put it on my amazon wishlist…

Feeling much safer.

Monday, February 7th, 2005

Whew. A bad feeling has been nagging me for the last months. As the amount of video data that I have collected for my Ph.D. thesis began to fill up the external 200 GB hard disk I became more and more aware of the fact that hard disks sometimes fail for no reason at all. Or they get dropped. Or they get accidentally erased. Or the buildings where they are stored burn down. All of these are good reasons to make backups. But how does one backup such an amount of data? One choice would have been to buy another hard disk. For that I didn’t have the money. Therefore I decided to do what I should have done in the first place: always keep a backup on DV tape. That is a pretty inexpensive solution (about € 3 per 60 min tape – one GB of DV equals slightly less than five minutes; enjoy the calculation), and it is adequate to the data. May my sleep be easy and relaxed!

Wurde wirklich Zeit.

Friday, February 4th, 2005

Nach jahrelangem sich-nicht-so-recht-aufraffen-können habe ich heute endlich den entscheidenden Schritt getan: Ich bin Gewerkschaftsmitglied geworden. Ha! Arbeitgeber, ihr könnt kommen, ich bin gewappnet in diesen harten Zeiten.
War ja alles ganz einfach. Man kann sich nämlich mittlerweile bei ver.di online anmelden. In weniger als zehn Minuten war’s erledigt. Feine Sache. Auch für Studenten wie mich ne sinnvolle Angelegenheit – ich habe mittlerweile schon reichlich Jobs gemacht, in denen ich von gewerkschaftlich erstrittenen Tarifverträgen profitiert habe. Solidarität tut Not.

First: puzzlement, then: delight.

Thursday, February 3rd, 2005

This is why one should have student or university film clubs: to be pointed to movies that are really good, but that you would normally not see. Last week I’ve seen one of these pearls, again presented by the Studentischer Filmkreis Darmstadt. Radio no Jikan is set in the studio of a radio station and revolves around the many mishaps, mismanagements, misunderstandings, small favors, flirtations, frustrations, and other human flaws that make life interesting. First, I was a bit insecure if this movie is meant as a drama or as a comedy – and I am still not totally sure – since Japanese customs are unknown to me, it took me a while to adapt to what was going on and who might be good or bad or nice or unfriendly. However, I guess much of this movie’s high quality stems from the fact that this really remains a bit in the dark. Most of the characters have their charming sides, and almost all of them annoy you too. Excellent ensemble movie with a totally chaotic, dramatic and hilarious ending. To be recommended. As should be the folks from the Filmkreis, who even prepared a small introduction in Japanase (I think).
IMDb entry

Abstract for Negotiating Urban Conflicts.

Wednesday, February 2nd, 2005

The following text summarizes what I currently think I will talk about in the upcoming conference Negotiating Urban Conflicts this April. If this sounds interesting to you – take a look at the even more exciting multitude of other talks held by people from far away places like Singapore, Nigeria, India, Russia and other countries from around the globe! And come to attend. This is it:

Conflicts take place in concrete environments. This talk will explore some of the subtle processes that channel conflicts into specific paths. Where these paths are leading to and what might happen while following them is influenced by certain spatial relations and by the materiality of urban places. The placement of things, the way visibility is established or barred, the closing or accessibility of areas, the marking of territorial boundaries – all of these aspects of built space participate in the production of human action in the city. Drawing on ethnographies of the Potsdamer Platz in Berlin, of railway stations, and of passenger terminals in harbors, this talk will focus on the processes through which normalities are produced by tangible socio-spatial constellations. These places are centrally located and of a high symbolic and economic importance; the strategic socio-spatial constellations channeling human action in these places will be exposed in this talk.