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Wed, 02 Jan 2013
Strain of bad luck

From roughly September to December 2012 I seem to have had a quite unusual strain of bad luck and set-backs. I don't want to go into the details here, as most of the issues are of quite private nature.

This has kept me quite distracted from a lot of my other activity. Projects like the various Osmocom sub-projects, gpl-violations.org are in desperate need of attention, and I have severely neglected my responsibilities in the Chaos Computer Club Berlin e.V. :(

I don't even want to talk about actual paid work, where customers also had to put up with repeated schedule slips and lack of availability.

I let down friends and colleagues at a number of occasions, as I was unable to keep up with anything that remotely resembles my typical work schedule.

Last but not least, I regrettably have also not felt much of an urge to write many blog posts here.

My sincere hope and expectation is that things are going to improve quickly in 2013. At least most of issues from the last half year have been resolved. Now I need to work through a considerable back-log of work and find more time for my volunteer projects in the FOSS and hacker worlds. However, this will need some time and I would like to ask for some patience. I do intend to be up to speed with things just like before.

In this spirit, I am looking forward to a productive and exciting 2013. Happy hacking und Viel Spass am Gerät

[ /personal | permanent link ]

Sun, 10 Jun 2012
Back from a 3-day motorbike ride to the central Taiwan mountains

I've wanted to do this for many years, but somehow never managed to do this even back while I was spending a lot of time in Taiwan: A motorbike ride crossing the mountainous center of the island using the Central Cross-Island Highway. This highway is probably not what most people imagine a highway would be like: A narrow road consisting almost entirely only of serpentines with a speed limit of typically 40 km/h. In other words, a motorbiking paradise.

You can enter that highway from the east by starting from Taroko Gorge. In order to get there by motorbike, you take the famous Provincial Highway No. 9 from XinDian via Pinglin to Yilan, which is frequented a lot by Taipei motorbike riders on weekends. The No. 9 further leads along the cliffs of the coast to Xincheng, from where No. 8 starts.

The trip from Taipei to Xincheng is only about 200km, but still you need at least something like 5.30 hours if you want to ride safely. This is once again due to the mountain roads. You can barely see 100m at any given time to the next turn in the road all the way between XinDian and Yilan.

So I stayed one night at the entrance of Taroko Gorge.

Upon arrival I was greeted by the hotel owner with the news that No. 8 had been closed temporarily due to rock fall at km 150.9. That was pretty devastating to my plan, as this road is the only connection in the northern two thirds of the entire island. There is no alternative, except for No. 20, which would have been probably three times the amount of distance (and thus time). However, as it later turned out, the road would be opened for 30 minutes between 6am and 6.30am. So I had to leave at 5.00am in order to safely ride the first 30 km up to the road block. This turned out to be the best thing that could have happened:

  • There was absolutely zero traffic in either direction (the first 25km to Tienshang that are normally full of tourist busses).
  • I was able to witness the sunrise at about 5.40am in the mountains
  • very clear sight, which at other times is not clear at all

So I reached the road block even ahead of schedule and was able to pass as intended.

I continued along the road, and due to the fact that the road was closed again after 30mins, there was close to zero traffic all day on the entire road.

At Dayuling, you can either continue the 8 towards Lishan (but not much further due to repeated subsequent earthquake and typhoon damage), or you an continue along No. 14 A towards Hehuanshan (Mt. Hehuan). I first went to Lishan (a major tea planting region) and back, as due to my early morning start I had lots of time left for detours, to continue towards Mount Hehuan , where the road reaches an altitude of more than 3100m.

I spent the second night in Renai, where I arrived just in time: The first rain drops of a heavy afternoon thunderstorm were falling. In the morning, I was greeted by the following view from my hotel room:

I left again in the early morning, drove through Puli and headed for the Sun Moon Lake. It really is beautiful, as you can see in the following picture. However, it is also over-developed to care for tourists of all sorts, including lots of concrete directly at the lake, and bus-loads full of tourists, Starbucks coffee shops and everything that comes with it.
After two days in remote mountains with little buildings and almost no people, the experience was so shocking that I decided not to circle the whole lake but instead continue down south along No. 16 until it meets No. 3, which I then drove more or less all the way back to Taipei.

The first sixty-or-so kilometers are painful, as they lead through heavily populated areas around Nantou and Taichung. This means that there's lots of traffic, and very frequent traffic lights that make you stop. Later on, the road leads through less populated mountainous regions, and driving is more relaxed again.

Having managed this trip without any problems (nor getting lost even once), I'm hoping to find some time in the future to ride No. 7 from Yilan to Lishan, and particularly Provincial Highway No. 20, crossing the mountains much more south.

And if there's one part for me to remember: Always avoid the densely populated regions in the west of the island. If I wanted to ride stop-and-go all day long, I don't have to leave Taipei or New Taipei City in the first place ;)

[ /personal/taiwan | permanent link ]

Getting woken up by an earthquake...

...is a good adrenaline rush to start your day. Happened to me this morning at 5am in Taipei, caused by a Magnitude 6.5 earthquake 70 km off Yilan on Taiwans east coast. If it happened two days earlier, it would have caught me on the motorbike ride, possibly causing even some more road blocks due to rubble coming down from mountains.

[ /personal/taiwan | permanent link ]

Sun, 18 Sep 2011
I'm still alive - short update...

In the last two months I barely found time to update this blog. I'm now back on track and will try to update the blog more frequently.

The CCC Camp 2011 has been great, and the OpenBSC based camp GSM network has been a success, despite some initial problems. Thanks again to everyone helping with the build-up and operation of it, and thanks for all our volunteer users/testers.

Most of the time since I've been buried alive in work, almost exclusively related to various sub-projects surrounding the Osmocom GSM protocol implementations. We're working on every level of the protocol stack at the same time, and on network elements from BTS, BSC up well into the core network, media gateways, etc.

Most recently I've been doing some work with openembedded (OE) again, and I've had more contact with the intrinsics of GSM AMR than I ever imagined I would.

There's lots of exciting stuff ahead, but I don't want to talk about it until the respective code is public and the stuff actually works.

The only really ugly thing that I have to deal with again and again is a lawsuit related to the GPL infringement of the German vendor of the Fritz!Box DSL routers. I'll follow-up on that shortly. One of the most ridiculous things they claim is that their products are not DSL routers :)

[ /personal | permanent link ]

Thu, 29 Jul 2010
I'm still alive ;)

In case you're wondering why there is such a long period with no updates: I've been travelling over the last week and barely had sufficient time to follow my e-mail and get the most high-priority work done. Hope to update the blog soon.

[ /personal | permanent link ]

Mon, 05 Jul 2010
Family visit is keeping me busy

In case you're expecting a quick response from me these days, please apologize. I'm currently having family visiting me in Berlin, and I very much enjoy being the personal tourist guide for some days...

I shall be back to normal by the end of the week.

[ /personal | permanent link ]

Thu, 20 May 2010
Heading off to Europe's largest Goth festival

Despite lots of very exciting work at this time, and a distinct lack for progress on my various 'just for fun' software/hacking projects, I'll be visiting Wave-Gotik-Treffen from tomorrow on. This means that I'll be listening to some fine music and will hopefully have a most enjoyable time offline.

Don't expect me to read or answer e-mails or get any work (paid or unpaid) until at some point Tuesday next week.

[ /personal | permanent link ]

Tue, 06 Apr 2010
Some more thoughts on the Yamaha TW-225

A Yamaha TW-225 is my motorbike in Taiwan. Although I often refer to it as my toy bike (compared to the BMW F650ST and FZ6 Fazer in Berlin), it has proven to be a very reliable bike.

Before I cam to Taiwan and bought it, I was used to ride the heavy BMW for almost a decade. Ever since driving school at the age of 16, I didn't ride a small/light bike again (at that time a Yamaha DT80). So initially I was skeptical about the TW-255. Sure, for getting from one place to another inside Taipei it is great. But what about riding further distances and/or in the mountains?

To my own surprise I actually think that it is an almost ideal bike for the conditions in Taiwan (at least those that I encountered so far). It is very light, so you can actually manually move it around easily - very important considering the parking conditions in Taipei. The small weight also means that you don't have to throw around much weight on mountain serpentines.

The engine with its 18 horsepowers is also surprisingly strong, even on steep mountain roads. On the other hands, the engine is not too strong, i.e. it is forgiving in case you make any mistakes. You certainly don't make a wheelie or get your rear tire to slide while accelerating. You also don't run into the danger of a rear wheel blocking when shifting down and being a bit too swift with the clutch.

You can almost do anything with (or to!) the bike and it will tolerate it. You can pull the throttle as you want, make mistakes while shifting gears and whatever else. I've experienced many less pleasant situations with my other bikes, but not with the TW-225 despite plenty of opportunity.

As opposed to the ever-so-popular scooters you have a manual gear, much bigger tires, different center of gravity, better suspension (think of potholes), ... - and most of the scooters also have a weaker engine anyways.

The only two weak points that I could find so far:

  • The brakes could be much more aggressive, saving important time when you have to do a full stop after some unexpected event in the traffic ahead.
  • The seat is ridiculous. I'm by no means tall with my 172cm, but I think the seat TW-225 seat is way too low for me. And god, is it uncomfortable. Not sure if it was designed with an Asian anatomy in mind (the TW-225 is officially selling only in Japan) and if it is less painful for Asians. But thinking of doing more/longer tours through Taiwan, I definitely need a different seat...

Having said this, I'm still looking forward to trying some of the high mountain roads like the central cross-country highway from Hualien to Taichung. Let's see how the carburetor will do once you get to around 3,000 meters of altitude..

[ /personal/taiwan | permanent link ]

Mon, 15 Mar 2010
Holidays in Taiwan

Just in case you are wondering why there are no updates here: I'm currently on holidays in Taiwan and thus not working much on my various projects, i.e. no major updates on this blog until some early/mid April.

[ /personal | permanent link ]

Wed, 04 Nov 2009
German news site Spiegel Online has video of my torched car

Some 9 months after some idiots have put my car on fire, the german news site Spiegel Online reports on a court trial unrelated to my car, but showing a video of my car.

Quite funny how they always dig out that footage. The court case was about an alleged failed attempt to torch a car, so showing two completely burnt cars in that article is not really sensible anyway.

As you can see from the article, there' already more than 250 burnt vehicles this year in Berlin.

[ /personal | permanent link ]

Mon, 28 Sep 2009
Migrating from Panasonic CF-R5 to CF-R8

I've just received my new laptop, a Panasonic CF-R8. As you may remember, some time ago I ranted about the lack of reasonably small laptops with decent number of pixel lines in the LCM. Since I was not able to find any other product that really qualified according to my requirements, I had decided to buy the CF-R8, the successor of my 3 year old CF-R5.

The specific configuration of this unit is:

  • Intel Core 2 Duo CPU U9400 (1.4GHz, 3MB Cache)
  • 4GB of RAM
  • 320GB 7200RPM SATA drive (Hitachi HTS72323)
  • Intel 82567LM Gigabit Ethernet
  • Intel ICH9 chipset
  • Full black color case / keyboard / everything

It's a nice device, the dual-core CPU and much faster/bigger hard disk as well as the 4GB RAM make a real difference. At the same time I still have the same 4:3 aspect ratio display, and the same keyboard layout, i.e. I don't need to get used to different location of function keys or the like.

Comparing it with the CF-R5, I think the following main differences have to be noted:

  • the case design is more modern and looks more ruggedized
  • on first sight, it seems a bit thicker than the old model, but careful comparison reveals that this is just an 'optical trick' and in reality the height is the same
  • The battery form factor has been changed completely. This means that the display can be folded further back than it used to be the case. Great!
  • There is no need for the pcc_acpi/panasonic-laptop ACPI driver in the kernel anymore, display backlight and function keys are just controlled using regular/standard ACPI methods.
  • They did actually add a very small fan to the back of the device. However, it is so silent that it's actually hard to notice during normal operation.
  • The new hard disk is even more silent than the CF-R5 one
  • The power switch has been moved to the inside, i.e. under the LCM. This prevents accidental power-on/off while shoving the device into a notebook bag/sleeve. Again, a very useful modification.
  • The old 100-Base-T Ethernet has been replaced by 1000-Base-T. 100MBps was pretty embarrassing for the CF-R5 even 3 years ago, considering my 3 years older powerbook G4 already had Gigabit Ethernet...

[ /personal | permanent link ]

Mon, 21 Sep 2009
Flying with KLM: Feeling like time-travel to the past

Today I found myself on my way back to Korea. This time not on the Finnair flight that I'd used before, but on a KLM flight. What was a big surprise and almost a shock to me is that KLM operates airplanes on long-haul intercontinental routes (Amsterdam - Seoul/Incheon) which do not have a personal in-flight entertainment system in economy class.

I think the last time I have experienced this must have been 6 or 7 years ago. And actually, now that I'm thinking of it, even while I was working in Brazil in 2001 many planes already featured this.

How on earth does KLM think they can compete with that level of service? I mean, European airlines suck as opposed to Asian airlines, I have realized this... but even among European airlines I have not seen something like this for a long time.

It's not so much that I absolutely need the personal entertainment system. It is more a shock about how KLM can risk looking that old-fashioned against all of their competition.

Today, many of the planes on the EU-Asia routes that I frequently use already have the second generation of in-flight entertainment with the 7" or bigger wide screen displays, or even have 110V power outlets for laptop power supplies in every seat...

[ /personal | permanent link ]

Sun, 23 Aug 2009
Learning Hangul characters

Since I'm in Korea currently, and I'm expected to come back a number of times during the next months, I thought it might be a good idea to start learning Hangul, the Korean alphabet.

It really is surprisingly easy, there are only 24 basic glyphs that are combined in sets to form syllables. So it actually is less complex than the western alphabet, especially if you consider upper and lowercase glyphs (which Hangul doesn't have).

Of course being able to read the alphabet only allows me to convert from written to spoken language and back. Without any vocabulary, there's no way to make any meaning of the words - which is fine for me now. At least I can start to memorize names of locations/restaurants/shops this way. There really is almost no English writing anywhere - at least much less than I'm used to from my extensive time in Taiwan.

What I found particularly funny are the borrowed words from English. Things like Like "laserprinter" or even the names of the various fast food items at KFC really sound funny once you read them in Hangul and pronounce them (or hear them pronounced) ;)

[ /personal | permanent link ]

Wed, 29 Jul 2009
FZ6 Fazer is beyond reasonable repair

As it seems, the cost of spare parts and labor to fix the engine of my recently bust FZ6 engine are well beyond EUR 4000, so there's no point in repairing it.

As it further turns out, the previous owner of the bike (I bought it in April last year) had forged some signatures in the service booklet, i.e. the motorbike has likely not seen the regular inspection and service like it should. Haven't yet decided whether to file any claims against that previous owner or not.

Now I've decided to buy a new one of the same model, and keep the old one for spare parts. At some point next week I should be the proud owner of a brand-new FZ6 Fazer. With three full years of Yamaha warranty. Hopefully this one will live longer than 17,000 kilometers.

[ /personal | permanent link ]

Sun, 19 Jul 2009
Bad luck with motorbikes, episode 2342

Last night I was riding back to Hamburg (on my Fazer FZ-6) from a two-day visit to my home in Berlin. It was a pleasant ride, at least for about the first 210 kilometers. Suddenly at about 1am when I was riding at smooth 190kph (far away from full throttle), there was a sudden loss of engine power and the engine sounded as if it was running on 3 instead of four pistons. I immediately pulled over and used the conveniently placed highway exit. While I was getting slower I realized enormous amount of smoke (identified correctly engine oil that vaporized on the surface of the exhaust pipes). As soon as the clutch was pulled, the engine went off.

I then realized that a lot of oil had spilled to the rear wheel, including the tire. There was no other solution then having the bike transported to Hamburg in a van... Thinking about the possible cause, I thought of something along the lines of a blown cylinder head gasket. Arriving in Hamburg at roughly 4am in complete darkness, there was no way to dig any deeper into it.

This morning, in bright daylight I could clearly see the actual cause: An about 5x7cm wide hole in the engine case! WTF ?!?.

So it seems that suddenly, while travelling, the aluminum-cast engine case decided to blast a part off. Quite amazing. And that not at any particularly high rpm or under high load... let's see what the Yamaha mechanics will say about that.

So now I have a broken BMW F650 in Berlin and a Broken Yamaha Fazer FZ6 in Hamburg. And that in the best part of summer. *sigh*. The only remaining bike is in Taipei and not really of much use to me right now.

[ /personal | permanent link ]

Tue, 16 Jun 2009
Soon I'll say hello to Hamburg

Some of my friends already know it: I'll be spending some 6 weeks in the city of Hamburg starting from June 21st. I can't talk about details of the particular project that I'll be working on, but I'm extremely excited since it's related to what I've been most passionate about recently: GSM networks and their security. And no, it's not about any software development and it is completely unrelated to OpenBSC.

If you happen to be in Hamburg and want to meet at some time to hang out, feel free to drop me an e-mail.

[ /personal | permanent link ]

Tue, 26 May 2009
Back to Germany, travel plans during next weeks and months

Just as a quick note, I'm back to Germany. Besides catching up with various aspects of work, I'll be visiting what I think is the world's biggest Gothic / Dark Wave / EBM festival, known as Wave Gotik Treffen over the extended weekend, and in less than two weeks I'm heading back to Taiwan for FreedomHEC Taipei 2009.

From the second half of June on I'll spend quite a bit of time in Hamburg on a customer project. I'm looking forward to using this opportunity to get to know the city better...

[ /personal | permanent link ]

Tue, 17 Mar 2009
Enjoying holidays in Brazil

I've been offline for an entire week, something that rarely happens to me as long as I can think back. It has been great. I took the time to read Cryptonomicon again, and it was just as great as the first time. I also found sufficient time to continue my (still embarrassingly little) chinese studies, and had even more time to think and reflect about my life.

So all in all it is a holiday like it should be. Don't expect any news from me in the blog or by e-mail before March 26th.

[ /personal | permanent link ]

Sat, 07 Mar 2009
First couple of days in Brazil

I've arrived in Brazil for 2.5 days of Rio de Janeiro before heading to Recife and Porto de Galinhas for BOSSA 2009.

Rio actually was a much more pleasant experience than anticipated, and as far as I can tell after that short of a visit, I seem to like the city - at least much more than Sao Paulo which I felt was a big disappointment while visiting it last year for a similarly short period of time.

Being in Brazil always fills me with some kind of strange sentimentality. I've spent most of the year 2001 in this country, it was my first long-term experience in a foreign country. It was a great work environment at Conectiva, and times without a lot of the sorrows and worries that I am having today, working with hardware companies who often still not have noticed even remotely what was happening in the Linux world eight to ten years ago.

And I'm always surprised how well I can manage with those few bits of Portuguese that I learned during my 2001 stay. It's actually more than just barely managing, but being able to grasp at least the key aspects of most conversations, etc. And this despite not having had the slightest bit of practice between 2002 and 2007.

If only I could ever get my Mandarin to that level. Well, this is also the reason why I've brought my Chinese language books with me and I'm planning to study quite a bit in them during the two weeks of holidays following after BOSSA. With some luck I can also find some time in May or June to take up my language classes in Taipei again.

[ /personal | permanent link ]

Fri, 30 Jan 2009
I have back my old car

In late 2008, I 'sold' my old car (Opel Vectra) to a friend from the local Berlin CCC (starbug) for the symbolic price of 1 EUR. I didn't mind, since the car was not worth all that much, and it was for a friend.

As it turns out, starbug immediately said "if you need it back at any given time, just let me know". I never thought that case would happen, but due to recent events it actually happened.

So now I have my old car back, which makes the feeling of the Golf even more surreal. Owned a car for about 3 months of which I was probably travelling at least two, then suddenly lost it, and am back with the old car. Feels a bit like I'm back in the past, rewinding back to times that one thought were gone.

In any case, big thanks starbug!

[ /personal | permanent link ]

Mon, 26 Jan 2009
Photographs of my torched car

Today I arrived in Berlin and could take some pictures of what was my car:

As you can also see on the following pic, I was "lucky" not to be the owner of the Porsche next to it - apparently the actual victim of the attack:

What I cannot describe or show here is the actual smell of that burnt car.

Rest in Peace.

UPDATE: There's even a picture while it is still burning in the newspaper

[ /personal | permanent link ]

Sun, 25 Jan 2009
Some idiots apparently put my car on fire

While I'm still in Taipei, I suddenly get a mobile phone call from the Berlin police department. It seems that somebody has parked a Porsche next to my car, and then some retarded people put that Porsche on fire, and the flames from the Porsche then torched my car (a VW Golf), too.

I currently don't know the extent of the damage, but it makes me quite sad, as I just had that car for some three months. Luckily I'm leaving Taipei today, just in time to get home tomorrow and have a look at my [partially?] burnt car.

Oh, and it still had one of the BS-11 GSM Base Transceiver Stations in the trunk. Curious to see if and how that one has survived.

So I'm returning to my home in Berlin. The car is torched. My BMW F650ST motorbike is broken due to some carburetor issue. And the Yamaha FZ6 is only registered from March through October for the summer season. *sigh*. Must be Murphy's law.

As if I didn't have other things to do.

UPDATE: The car is apparently completely burnt out, beyond repair.
Farewell :(

[ /personal | permanent link ]

Sun, 04 Jan 2009
First Impressions of South Korea

So today I arrived in South Korea, after a one day stop-over in Taipei (following a flight connecting in Abu Dhabi). I've arrived at about 6pm local time and had a 90minute bus ride to the hotel in Yongtong-gong. So besides check-in and a quick stop at the convenience store, I didn't yet do much.

Some first impressions, in no particular order:

  • Heating like crazy. This first occurred to me in the airport, but became more of an issue in the bus. I was actually sweating with my long-sleeved shirt, without any jacket. The hotel has a default temperature of 28 degrees Celsius, not only in the lobby but in every room. you can adjust it, but as soon as you leave the room, it resets to 28. So the setting is not very useful, considering that a floor based heating has a very high latency, since the entire floor tiles are heated up and dissipate heat even hours after adjusting the temperature.
  • The hotel clerk asked me in the elevator what kind of power plug my laptop had, and if I needed any kind of adaptor. Furthermore, he actually showed me the LAN cable and indicated "IP address automatic" ;)
  • After a first try, that automatic IP address is actually a public IPv4 address. Wasn't there something about IP addresses running out in Asia? Weird, but definitely very welcome! Traceroute indicates all intermediate routers in Korea don't have any reverse lookup. Even more weird ;)
  • The hotel room has flat screen plasma TV and a PC (running Windows, so I just disconnected the screen and run it in multi-head. Interestingly, the VGA and audio inputs of the plasma TV are connected with the PC at the desk, so you can play back video from the Internet or DVD's on your plasma TV. That's way better than crappy pay-TV in western countries :)
  • Samsung is apparently so big, that they have a dedicated bus stopping at this hotel, taking people to the company twice every morning. A sign in every hotel room indicates this fact :)
  • I totally love the sound of the language. To me, it actually sounds even better than Japanese.

So I remain thrilled what happens next. Not sure how much time I will have during the week, depends how busy it is at work.

[ /personal | permanent link ]

Tue, 23 Dec 2008
The "Deutsche Bahn" experience

Given that I'm a person who constantly interfaces with a very international crowd and travel a lot, I used to be quite positive about the great railway system Germany had. The comfortable travel in high-speed trains, with power outlets under your seat, from one city center to another city center faster than you would ever be with an airplane. Just enter a train, sit down, hack for something like five hours straight the entire trip.

Now I know that the railway company "Deutsche Bahn" has had its fair share of trouble in recent months with technical problems and what not. But given the fact that those problems (resulting in less trains/cars being available) exist for some three months now, I would suppose that they deal with this properly

Having said that, the online ticketing and reservation system made a reservation in a car that doesn't actually exist in the train that I'm using today. So I was confident that I had a reserved seat for the five hour trip back to my family in southern Germany. What a misconception :(

How difficult can it be to update the reservation system with those trains / car numbers that actually operate? Or at least refuse to make reservations at all, if you cannot guarantee them? It would probably be a couple of SQL updates here and there in the database.

This is not the kind of quality that I expect from DB. And I won't even start to complain about the complete lack of heating in this particular car. There we are in hyper-modern, super-silent train cars at 200+ kph, in the middle of winter, without heating. Yes, I can wear a jacket, sure. But my fingers are freezing from typing at this temperature. And no, gloves + keyboard don't make a good combination. Maybe I should start bringing an electrically powered heater net time, given the fact there is a power outlet...

[ /personal | permanent link ]

Sun, 21 Dec 2008
Klangstabil in concert @ Schlagstrom

Last night was the greatest fun I've had in a long time. I've attended a Klangstabil concert as part of the Schlagstrom Industrial/Noise events in Berlin.

There is probably not much music that provokes as many endorphines to be released in my body as some good, loud, noisy and rhythmic electronic music :) Klangstabil have been one of my favorites for quite some time, but this concert was the first of their concerts that I actually attended. Now after it, I'm asking myself why. Probably due to the fact that contrary to some others I actually think the latest album "Math and Emotion" is great. Will make sure not to miss another concert in the future. promise!

I remain speechless, fascinated, moved. Happy.

[ /personal | permanent link ]

Fri, 19 Dec 2008
First-time visit to (South) Korea in January

Despite being a business trip (more details might be disclosed later, after it has happened), I will talk about this in the 'personal' section of my blog.

I'll be in Joungin-City and Seoul for about 10 days in early January. Most of them are probably spent with busy working days, but the weekend is definitely free for some sight seeing and the like.

I've always been excited about Korea (for whatever reason), and it is definitely one of the major countries in South-East-Asia that I haven't visited yet. I know it is culturally very difficult and probably hard to get adjusted. Some business travellers rank it as higher difficulty than Japan, let even aside China or Taiwan.

In any case, I'm happy to go there and get a first impression. Too sad that it's the wrong (cold) time of the year. But well, the first trip doesn't have to be the last.

Some almost two more weeks will be spent again in Taipei, where I am looking forward to some exciting appointments, before I seem to be heading for some more work in India in February, potentially visiting FOSDEM before.

[ /personal | permanent link ]

Mon, 08 Dec 2008
Back to Berlin

After almost one month of travels (Berlin->Paris->Bangalore->Delhi->Taipei->Delhi->Bangalore->Mumbai->Bangalore->Paris->Berlin), I'm finally back to Berlin. It always feels good to be home, and in fact I'm probably home for more than three consecutive weeks, something that doesn't happen very often.

It has been an exciting time, and I've made quite a bit of progress on both the GSM scanning side as well as on the gnufiish (Linux for E-TEN glofiish) side. Still, lots of work remains, and it's a challenge to see how much time I can spend on it.

During the next couple of weeks I'll be working on VIA related stuff. Most of it is behind-the-scenes work, but I'm also actually going to work on some actual code again. What a relief ;)

Obviously, there is also still a lot to be done on the GSM base station + GSM network front. The interested hacker might already have figured out that I'll be co-presenting with Dieter Spaar on how to run your own GSM network at the 25C3, but I'm mentioning at this blog anyway for the sake of completeness. The code will be released at the 25C3, and we'll hopefully also have some fun at the GSM hackers desk in the hack center.

With some luck, I'll be heading for Taiwan and (for the first time) Korea in January 2009. The other news about 2009 is that I'll likely spend more time than before in India.

[ /personal | permanent link ]

Tue, 02 Dec 2008
Availability of Bollywood DVDs in Bangalore

I've been visiting Bangalore many times throughout the last five years. Every time I've spent a visit to "Planet M" on Brigade Road for buying some Bollywood DVDs.

And for some unknown reason, the size of the racks with Bollywood DVDs is shrinking from year to year. And with it, obviously the choice...

What you can get are sort of the last five major blockbusters, and tons of cheap re-releases of old movies from the seventies through nineties. But what about the last five years? What about anything that was released recently but is no longer part of the top-10? _nothing_!

Oh, and then you can get tons of Bollywood VCDs. But who wants that low quality? It's definitely no pleasure to watch a VCD. Even DVDs have way too little resolution to capture e.g. the details of costumes in a lot-of-people-dancing kind of scene.

It's really sad. Are people no longer buying those DVDs? Do Bollywood fans go to different places? Where should I go in Bangalore for a decent selection? Hints welcome, please send e-mail.

As a side note, yesterday I've also been at Planet M in the Esteem Mall. It's sort of a joke. Never seen a CD/DVD store that small. Obviously no choice at all.

[ /personal/bollywood | permanent link ]

Mon, 06 Oct 2008
In Switzerland again. Feeling like in a Bollywood movie

I'm back to Switzerland for some Swisscom related work. Right now I'm sitting in the Intercity train between Zurich and Bern. And believe it or not: Half of the car is occupied by (loud) Hindi speaking Indian tourists ;)

It really feels like I'm in a Bollywood movie. Indians in Switzerland. And not only in Switzerland, but in the Train. Couldn't be any more cliche ;)

[ /personal/bollywood | permanent link ]

Sun, 05 Oct 2008
Drona - what a disappointment

In Berlin there are not many chances to watch a Bollywood movie in an actual cinema. Those few movies that they show, I usually try to watch, at least if I'm in town. So far they've always made a great selection and picked only blockbuster movies that actually were any good.

Since I haven't been staying up-to-date with the latest Bollywood releases (mostly due to time constraints and lack of access to Indian DVD's in Taiwan), I didn't even check about the background of the latest movie they've started to show here: Drona.

After watching the first five to ten minutes of the film, it became already clear to me that I should have done better and check beforehand. Never seen such a trashy movie before. What a disappointment.

[ /personal/bollywood | permanent link ]

Sat, 02 Aug 2008

Today I found out about this years schedule for 1654 THE CAVE.
Today it will happen.
And I'm even going to be in the right part of Germany.

The best coincidence of this year.

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Sun, 06 Jul 2008
A trip to Fulong beach in the northeast of Taiwan

On Saturday I went to Fulong beach. Believe it or not, my first bathing-at-a-beach trip in Taiwan, despite the long time that I spent on this tropical island.

The venue of the beach is really nice (photos will follow later). The water temperature of the pacific ocean felt surprisingly cold to me - but keep in mind that I'm still spoiled by the 28 centigrade warm Atlantic ocean in Pernambuco/Brazil ;)

However, it wouldn't have been a Taiwanese experience if there weren't some strange observations. First of all, I obviously appreciate that there are a number of life guards. But then I found out that they had a rope in the water, which you were not supposed to pass. The problem with that rope, though: It was at a water depth of about 1 meter to 1.10 meter!

So imagine a huge beach, of which there is a small portion separated by this rope floating on the water, and all the people are crammed into the small confinements between the actual waterline and that rope. The sea was incredibly calm, I could not even detect the remotest hint of any underwater currents, the slope of the ground is _very_ flat, but you can't actually get into the water to swim.

The other peculiarity was that the beach closes at 5.30pm. WTF? Especially during those incredibly hot days, why not just stay in the water into the evening or even at night?

So as a summary, I have to say, Brazilian beaches rule in comparison! Nobody to tell you that you cannot go into water deeper 1.10 meters, beaches are always open (there are no private beaches, they're all public), and most part of the day you will get served beverages, alcoholic drinks and fresh food.

So this trip to Fulong beach was certainly an experience I wouldn't want to miss. But not one that I'm likely wanting to repeat again. I now know what it's like :)

[ /personal/taiwan | permanent link ]

Fri, 04 Jul 2008
Electrical installations in Taiwan

I haven't noted this here yet, but I'm in Taiwan again since two weeks ago. I also have two more weeks of Taiwan ahead, since I decided to stay a full month and go to a Chinese language school. Now don't expect too much, this is basically just to find out whether I really want to seriously learn about the language or not. Four weeks will not get me anywhere, at least not beyond pronunciation drills and very basic sentences + vocabulary.

Anyway let's get to the subject of my posting: During the last couple of days I actually spent a significant amount of time trying to find something that to me is the most normal thing: A 60W 220V light bulb with an E14 socket. But that would apparently only be normal in Europe. Here in Taiwan, the voltage typically is 110V at 60Hz, with US-style power sockets. Basically just like the US or Japan.

However, for some really strange and unknown reason, the particular apartment has both 3 phase 110V and 3 phase 220V. The power sockets are all 110V, whereas the fixed ceiling lights are all 220V.

So apparently sometimes people have 220V lights here, and you can get a limited selection of usual bulbs in 220V type, even though 90% of the light bulbs in the store would be 110V.

I've been to Carrefour, B&Q and Tsan-Kuen (all large super-stores in NeiHu). 220V was really rare, and neither of them had any E14 bulbs (independent of shape) for 220V. So after a lot of wasted time, I then decided that I'm just going to replace the entire lamp socket with an E27 type in order to accommodate a different lamp. My other option would have been to add another E14 socket in series and then use two 110V bulbs attached to 220V mains.

Now the really big question is: Why would anyone have the lighting at 220V whereas the power outlets are running1 at 110? This means you need separate infrastructure, separate lines, transformers, metering devices, circuit breakers, etc. And three simply is no point. I could understand 3-phase 220 is better than 3-phase 110 in case you want to use extremely high-power consumers.

[ /personal/taiwan | permanent link ]

Tue, 20 May 2008
Bought another motorbike: Yamaha FZ6 Fazer

During the last week or so, I spent a lot of time test riding a number of various motorbikes. Both real sports / supersports bikes, as well as 'sportive touring bikes'. I wasn't really sure if I should go for a true/real sports bike like the Suzuki GSX-R (750/1000) or start with something less 'extreme' first. One thing I learned, though, is if I went for a sports/supersports bike, I'd definitely have to keep my BMW F650ST around. Those racing bikes are just not useful for casual riding in city traffic. But I want both, fun at the motorway, as well as a useful bike for local travel inside Berlin.

Then I got a really irresistible offer for a two-year-old FZ6 Fazer (with ABS), and I had to buy it. So for now, it is this. It's probably reasonable to first go from the familiar 48bhp to 98bhp before reaching to the 160bhp range of the Suzuki GSX-R. So in the end, I can even claim that I'm being rational and reasonable here, going "only" to an (already-ridiculous) amount of power, than a beyond-ridiculous amount ;)

And please don't worry too much. I'm not suicidal, and I've been riding quite safely for more than 11 years now ;) This is not going to change!

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Thu, 15 May 2008
Motorbike troubles again

It seems like I lost all my luck. Only a three weeks ago, the Yamaha TW-225 in Taipei had problems after my arrival. Now that I'm back to Berlin, my BMW F-650 had some serious trouble, too.

Starting the engine turned out to be really hard (started only on something like the 10th attempt, even though usually the first one is sufficient). Furthermore, pulling the gas handle only the tiniest little bit kills off the engine completely, independent of how far the choke is asserted.

So today I spent some five hours in disassembling almost the entire bike, removing the twin-carburetor, disassembling and cleaning it and putting the entire bike back together again. The engine is running fine again. I just wonder why I have this kind of carburetor problem already the second time in the last couple of years.

There's almost no visible dirt inside the carburetor, and all the fittings are fine, no signs of any leakage, no signs of any significant wear of any of the involved parts. Still, cleaning and re-assembling it clearly removes the problem.

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Wed, 14 May 2008
Back from WGT

There are two fixed dates every year that I never miss: The annual Chaos Communication Congress in Berlin between Christmas and new years eve, and the Wave Gotik Treffen music festival in Leipzig.

This year I was camping at the event campsite again, following two lazy years in a hotel. I enjoyed it a lot, especially since the weather was perfect. Only sunshine, not a single drop of rain for the entire four days.

The festival itself was like always. Great. :) I think my personal favorites this year was the industrial (probably better: rhythmic noise) act NULLVEKTOR as well as INADE.

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Wed, 07 May 2008
Back from the trip to Taiwan

It's been some time since my last blog post, mainly because I've been quite busy in Taiwan. First there was the conference, then there were a number of meetings with various companies to educate them about GPL licensing and how to interoperate with the FOSS community for better hardware/driver support.

The other part was actual spare time. I spent many months in Taipei during my work for OpenMoko, but I never really had much time to explore the city, or even other parts of the country.

This time I explored quite a bit of the Taipei nightlife, visiting places like Luxy, Lava, Room18, Barcode, ageha, and even the so-called "meat market" of Carnegies and Tavern.

I've also had time to try one of the many hot spa's of Taipei in Beitou, as well as a really great motorbike trip to the national forest in the Wulai mountain region.

Unfortunately the weather wasn't that great, so I had to postpone my plans to visit the northeastern and the eastern coast to some future trip.

And the most interesting part is: I actually made contact to Taiwanese people who are not at all in any way related to work :)

Further Taipei exploration brought me to the Wufenpu fashion wholesale area, as well as Ximending. Most impressive is also the "Taipei underworld", i.e. the various underground shopping malls near Taipei Main Station, such as the Taipei City Mall, Station Front Mall and ZhongShen Mall I and II. You can literally walk for many kilometers underground...

Now I am one day in Frankfurt, and tomorrow one day in Munich, Friday one half day at home, and then there will be four days of music festival at WGT 2008.

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Thu, 24 Apr 2008
Back to Taipei

After a break of almost six months, I'm back to Taipei. Obviously I now see everything from a quite different angle: I no longer work for OpenMoko, Inc., thus I actually have spare time here and can explore both the capital city as well as the country much better than before with that ever-growing OpenMoko workload.

However, the first day wasn't quite as relaxing as it should have been. First, the apartment key that was supposed to be with the guard of the apartment building accidentally was mixed up with some other key and got sent to the landlord.

A couple of hours later I discover that my Yamaha TW225 motorbike doesn't work anymore. First diagnosis: Battery is empty (not surprisingly). I try for like 15minutes to kickstart it, to no avail. Not even a single explosion in the engine. Then I tried to push it, and got it to a couple of explosions after which it died again. Further push-starting was prevented by the way-too-smooth floor of the parking garage, where the wheel just slides as soon as you release the clutch :(

Some disassembly revealed where the battery is (I don't know this bike at all, much opposed to my F650ST in Germany). The battery was severely short of acid/fluid, maybe somebody pushed the bike over and it leaked. Obtaining battery additive and refilling results in only 800mA charge current. I think it's dead. Now I'm in the process of ordering a new battery.

Let's hope the next couple of days are better than the start of this trip...

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Wed, 26 Mar 2008
Back from holidays

I'm currently sitting at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport, waiting for the last connection in my Recife - Sao Paulo - Amsterdam - Berlin return trip.

I'll be wading through the several thousand emails over much of the next couple of days, so please give me some time to get back to you.

[ /personal | permanent link ]

Tue, 11 Mar 2008
Update from first week of holidays

For those of you who're curious: The first week of holidays went just fine, spending something three days in Sao Paulo and three days in Curitiba In Curitiba, I had a rental car and went to Vila Velha, as well as driving the serpentines of the Rua Graciosa through Morretes to the Beach. Oh, and obviously in Curitiba I had to go to Homem Pizza and Happy Burger, the two restaurants that I frequented the most while working at Conectiva 7 years ago.

The biggest problem so far was the malfunction of the in-room Save of the Hotel in Curitiba, resulting in not being able to access any of my cash reserves, credit/debit cards, passport or laptop for two days. They actually had to physically break the safe open since the lock mechanism was stalled/clogged in a way that it did no longer move.

Now I've just arrived in Recife, where after two days, the journey will continue towards Porto de Galinhas.

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