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To Space! Sort of…

This weekend I took the family on a field trip. To the ESA ESTEC Open Day in Noordwijk, in the beautiful Netherlands.

Before I being I’d like to thank ESA for offering this opportunity, and all the staff involved, because everybody was really cool and awesome!

We arrived just in time for the opening ceremony, but sadly we couldn’t really understand anything because people all around us were oblivious that something was actually happening and kept on talking…

After handing in our tickets and having our bags looked at we headed towards the main building, just like pretty much everybody else. In retrospect this may have been a really stupid idea, but I guess we’ll learn from our mistakes. Either way, we entered the building, just as a Stormtrooper, an Imperial Officer and an Imperial Guard were exiting, which was confusing, and we made our way to the first exhibits.
The first big mission on display was the Rosetta Mission, displaying scale models not only of both the Rosetta probe and the Philae lander, but also of Comet 67P itself. We then started making our way towards the conference center, but got sidetracked by way too many cool and interesting things, like miniature Ariane rockets, videos of rocket launches, and and and… So we were too late to drop into the lecture of Andre Kuipers, a dutch astronaut who had the opportunity to spend time on the ISS. Since we missed out on that we lined up to join in on his autograph session, which got my son a nice autograph and a photo together with a real astronaut. He had been really excited about meeting the astronauts before we set out on our trip, so I am sure that’s something he’ll remember fondly for a long time.

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I don’t think we can ever achieve meaningful time-travel.

The concept of time-travel is an attractive one. It is very tempting to dream of meeting dead relatives just one last time, to be present at important historical events or to be able to visit a distant future where flying cars may be as commonplace as those narcissism-perpetuating selfies are today.

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Tinkering with Raspberries

So… I got myself a Raspberry Pi. Well, actually two, but maybe we try to take it a bit slower and follow things in, more or less, chronological order.

So, again, I got myself a Raspberry Pi.
Why did I do it? Because I really like streaming. As I have mentioned in “Finally my TV does all the stuff I want” the first thing I do with a DVD after buying is ripping it in  order to be able to play it without having to use the DVD.
But I also don’t really like watching movies on my PC, which is where streaming enters the stage.

In order to allow my family to enjoy those movies while I’m not at home, equally without using and potentially damaging my precious DVDs, I used to leave my PC running, which of course consumes a lot of electricity, most of the time for absolutely nothing. And of course I was limited in my options switching between Linux and Windows (which I use for gaming) if somebody was watching a movie, or my family couldn’t watch movies because I was playing something.

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Hell, it’s been a while since I last actually published something here. So I guess it’s time to write something for the sake of writing something. This is that post.

The problem I like to run into when blogging is not a lack of ideas, if you could see my drafts you’d know, but that I really hate the editing. So, in order to get this published I’ll be skipping that part this time.
You could say this is an auto-therapeutical post, in order to get shit rolling again.

As I mentioned above I do have a couple of posts in different stages in my drafts. There’s some stuff I’m really excited about, like a security-related post, a rant about publishers who don’t publish for the Kindle, posts about my comedic escapades after I left Hong Kong and other stuff.
And of course there’s material for new posts, like the fact that I got myself a Raspberry Pi and my work on getting it attached to my telescope.

Well, let’s see. I’ll try to get out one post a week, at least until I cleared out the stuff I mentioned here.

Thank you!
Dennis Wronka

For about a month my Galaxy S2 runs Android 4. And I gotta say, I like Ice Cream Sandwich.

Sure, it’s not really all that different, but there’s a lot of small stuff that makes the user experience more pleasant. Thanks to an seemingly overall better performance Ice Cream Sandwich can afford adding a little eye candy like window transitions without sacrificing speed. And I really like the new system settings menu.

Under the hood there is still a lot more than we see now. The problem with this simply is that we’re not seeing enough applications using the Android 4 API, which of course provides programmers with access to all the new features.

So it’s been a month, and while enjoying the benefits of the update I also ran into a problem. And of course the problem was my application StoryTeller.

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No, really, I’m not.

While it is certainly true that I have spent most of my working life as some sort of web programmer I actually see myself as a server guy. I love tinkering with servers, networks and security.
On the other hand I really like programming. I guess you have to if you’ve learned all the following languages to a certain degree:

  • QBasic
  • Turbo Pascal
  • Assembler
  • Delphi
  • C
  • C++
  • C#
  • Java
  • Bash Script
  • PHP

Some of these languages I still use. I earn my money with PHP. But I develop an Android application in Java and there’s a ton of Bash Scripts in charge of building EasyLFS. And sometimes some code digging requires basic recollection of how to write C.

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Code is an important asset to every company. Thus it is only in the company’s interest to protect their code base as good as possible.
While this sounds like an introduction you would expect in an article about proper backups or access control I think it is equally fitting for this article about Version Control Systems (VCS).

Those who work on the code are only human, and as humans we sometimes make mistakes. This can be because we don’t quite know what we are doing, but it can equally be a case of “shit happens”. And if “shit happens” you want to be able to respond quickly and undo whatever has been been done. Preferably without having to run down to the basement to get the tape with last (possibly full) backup. Of course a VCS cannot cover all kinds of situations, but it can help in a lot of ways to improve development and help out in case something goes wrong.

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Well, to be exact it’s not my TV that does all the stuff I want, but the devices attached to it.
I don’t have one of those fancy SmartTV thingies, just a plain old 32″ Philips flat screen TV which doesn’t do much else than displaying the stuff coming from what’s connected to it. And that’s where the actual magic happens.

A while ago I took the first step by purchasing a Philips BluRay player with DLNA support. This enabled me to stream movies from my computer to the TV, through the BluRay player, but better than not at all. After all, when I buy DVDs the first thing I do is put them into my computer and rip the movies onto my hard drive, thus enabling me to watch my movies without having to use the DVD. As I watch like to watch movies more than once I hope this will help preserve the physical media. Yes, I know that by doing so I am circumventing the built in copy protection, but if you have a problem with that, well, fuck you! I neither offer my movies on the Internet, nor do I give copies to friends. I just want to preserve the disc as I prefer to buy movies just once. Also, I paid for it, so it’s mine. Again, if you have a problem with that I suggest you get yourself a rope and a chair.

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Pretty much every book or movie released in Germany is translated into German.
While in general I have no problem with this, even though I prefer the English version of movies, which luckily are almost always included on the DVD, I do have a problem with what happens to titles when they are being translated.

In this post I want to highlight a few of my favorites “title rapes”, mostly picked from books, but usually equally applicable if there is a film adaptation. As I mostly read Stephen King the list will probably be limited to his works (with one exception). This of course is also due to the fact that now have a Kindle and I buy my Kindle books in English.

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On the code again

Yes, I have gotten back into programming. As usual the reason is that I have searched for something I want but couldn’t find anything satisfying.

While I’m not much of a programmer, the only languages I can consider myself fluent in are PHP and Bash scripting, I do occasionally like to fire up an IDE in order to solve a problem. And with modern programming languages being so similar it doesn’t really matter if I’m writing a Bash script or use PHP, C, C# or Java. Usually the main difference is the vocabulary.

This time I’m having another go at Java as I am writing an application for my Android phone.

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