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Date:2015-11-23 18:11
Mood: calm

I didn't feel for writing anything about but since yesterday evening... I've to say... some words about it. It's simple. The terrorists won. Not because of what they did. But because our oh-so-honest-and-better-than-these-terrorists-western-Media made them win.

Right after the accident it was enough to show pictures and report in 24h-nonstop-live coverage what happened. Now that no big news follow, they come up with their own more-than-questionable stuff. It doesn't matter what. As long as it sells. As long as it makes the Ca$h flow. If people weren't afraid of terrorists so far the media make sure people will become anxious.

Also, now that the disaster is one week in the past, a lot of politicians try to jump on the bandwagon, using the attack in Paris for their won interest. They twist the topic so they can use it in their own favor. Using the trigger word terror to get what they want because - of couse - everyone one who says something against can be blamed as cruel and heartless. Who's want to be accused of being pro Islam and alike?

I have no words about how sick I feel about it. Especially because I notice the effect is has on me. I get aggressive, too. Especially towards the media. Because I feel uncomfortable about what goes on and I don't feel like I could change anything. I just watch the disaster that follows and how our western politicians and media make things worse. The Media shows an interview taking place in some suburban place of Paris where Muslims throws stones at them. Followed by an "Oh.... we're not welcome here". If course they're not welcome. I wouldn't welcome media in my backyard that takes footage and uses it in a questionable way to paint the wrong picture, too. All that media does is to disconnect people and producing stereotypes and fear. Because it sells.

When I was watching the coverage on Friday, the 13th I had no words for it. I just sat there, watching the disaster with an almost blank mind. It's the second time this year that Paris had seen such and I had already written me feeling on that in January. There was only a deep feeling of empathy for everyone. (Of course there was also frustration. But I wrote about that already in January)

I wonder what can be done against. And the hard answer is: Nothing. And the question is... how much do we want to do? France has this telecommunication law that allows them to collect personal data from digital communication since 2006. Did it help? Not the slightest. Terror wouldn't be terror if it was logical. There’s a dozen ways to communicate. I wonder if there's an acceptable relation between the limitation of peoples rights and the prevention of terror. I say there is none. And Terrorists don't care about laws. They just do what they want.

It's terrorism. Those people want to see the world burning. They don't care for consequences and they don't have a big goal - except of causing chaos. Those religious fanatics don't even stick to the stuff their religion teaches. They only take from it what suits their actions. There no way to be reasonable with those people and the worst we can do is to forget our own values and act the same.

It causes a feeling of being helpless. We feel helpless because we are. We can endure it and they will laugh at us, name us weak and provoke us further. Or we can fight back. But who do we fight? It's not a country we fight. It's not a religion we fight. It's people who hide themself within their own kind, state and religion. Of course we can declare war and fight back, kill people. But the only thing we cause is more hatred. Sure, it's easy to declare war on a country thousands of miles away. It's not on our doorstep and we can just ignore the suffering we cause there. But with declaring war we do what the terrorists did. We attack people, trying to kill the 'right ones' but will likely kill many other who have no part in this game. And all we manage is to get ourselves more enemies. That's what the terrorists want us to do. Behaving like assholes. With every grief we cause, more and more people will be tempted to sympathy with the terrorists. May it be or the same reason that made us declaring war: feeling helpless, wanting to avenge our own loss.

I read a discussion between Christians (and from the level in which the discussion took place I’d like to label them religious fanatics too) in which they discussed things that should be done. In a way that left me with the impression that they think that the Christian religion has no blood on its hand. It’s how many years since Europe invaded other countries, killed native people in the name of God and forcing the cross of changes on them? How many of our own people, especially woman, were burned alive for no reason? Our western religion didn’t pay attention to the kindness that’s written in the bible. Those Muslims fanatics don’t, too. So what? Eh. Stop here. I’m getting sick of that.

There's no such as a winner in the game of Terror. I know, I know It’s easy for me to say such because I haven't lost someone beloved.

I have a hard time reading all the hatred that can be found in the Internet. There are people who attack each other in discussion because they can't accept the opinion of someone else. But in the same breath those people who attack others by words demand acceptance for their own opinion. I wonder what's wrong in some people’s lifes, what kind of frustration they have to endure that make them act that way. I'm not talking about some random guy. I also saw this behavior in people close around. I wonder what makes people say such as "just kill them all" (sometimes by using nicer phrases). Who is "they all?"

I wonder where this all leads to.

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Date:2015-11-10 12:56
Subject:The Fox and his Bees - Pt. 1
Mood: bouncy

So! Well, I'm going to have Bees starting from 2016. :)

And I'm soooooo excited about! I could write pages over pages. But lets stick to the essential stuff for now.

Bees aren't that new to me. Our neighbor had, until he died many years go, bees. Impressive 36 hives. In his Garden. So I kinda grew up with Bees around. A lot. That's also the reason why I don't fear bees. I know what's okay and what pisses them off. (And you have to come up with a lot of massive provocation to piss the European Honey Bee off (Carnica).)

At some point, three years ago, I felt for having some animals in my life/garden. A Dog was out of question. I lack of the (regular) time a Dog needs. I was thinking about a cat. But I'm often not at home for some days. This could require at least two cats so one isn't alone. I was pondering about ducks in the garden or maybe carrier pigeons. But that would also require a lot of time or cause problems with my garden.

Eventually, in January 2013, I visited an exhibition for agriculture and had a talk with the German Beekeepers Association. I think I already made my mind back then but I felt like I should not rush things. Bees are living beings. Not just a thing to put into the garden. They're not just something to buy and then see how it goes. In the end I made a deal with myself: I wait a year and see how my feeling towards the idea changes - if at all.

It didn't change. I still wanted Bees and the more I read and learned about the more I got hooked up. They fascinate me. On one side they're powerful while having a quite complex life. On the other hand, they're fragile. In fact, with all the changes, poisons and imported diseases it's now impossible for Bees to survive without human care (even in the wild). The annually schedule bees go through also matches good with my own schedule when it comes to outdoor activities.

But for two more years I couldn't have Bees. There was - well, let’s say I had circumstances in my life that forbid me to keep bees. In an almost literal way. Now that named circumstances are gone I went on and the idea started to become reality. During the last couple of months I joined the Beekeepers Association, had a talk with neighbors, informed my insurance and established connections to other beekeepers.

I'm all bouncy about it now but also a bit afraid. There's a lot of theory in my mind but the reality looks different. But I know I can do it. The first years is going to be the hardest. There's so much to learn but I feel like I can do it. I always had a hand for animals and plants in my life so far. The first year is also going to be expensive. I mean it.

Of course I can make money with the honey and wax (like making candles from it) and sell both. I expect about 60-90Kg honey a year. It depends a bit on the year itself (weather/climate) and whether I like to feed the Bees during winter with their own honey or some substitute. This will at least cover my annual expenses. Insurance, replacement parts, etc.

Speaking of honey: I already signed in for an advanced training in honey production. When I pass I'm officially allowed to sell my honey under the label of the German Beekeepers Association. That also means that I'm allowed to use the official seal. Overall, I expect a lot of high quality honey. The fact that I live at the limits of a big city works in my favor. There's this stereotype about cities being toxic and dirty. But the reality shows that honey from cities comes with less to no impurities at all. That’s quite contrary to honey from county sides. The countryside uses toxins and pesticides. That doesn’t happen in the city. Also, Honey from cities develops a broader flavor. The reason can be found in the broader variety of flowers available. Something I want doing is placing at least one hive somewhere else. This city has some larger forest and it's easy to gain permission for beekeeping in those forests. Another idea is to place a hive on the old airfield close by. That’s going to be honey with good and strong flavors.

Like dear Nicola Tesla once said: see the excitement comming!

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Date:2015-10-30 09:41
Subject:Er ist wieder da (no spoilers)
Mood: bouncy

So, I've seen the flick "Er ist wieder da" yesterday with some friends. After watching trailers and reading some reports about before. I've expected a lot, especially a lot of funny nonsense, but was rewared with something that made me stop laughing instantly at some point.

In fact, the movie makes one laugh with no end until it starts to hurt. It's embarrassing, bold and crosses not just one red line when it comes to political incorrect jokes and stereotypes. But in the same moment it askes you, with a calm, honest and somewhat observing voice "are you sure you want to laugh about this...?"

Like said - I've seen the trailers. Those are stupid and in the end I was sitting back in front on my desk, asking myself "I'm okay with this?". The saying says "time heals wounds" but I wonder if it's okay to make fun of something that was, well, that tragic.

As a inhabitant, so to say, of this country (namely Germany) I know that this specific topic, the Holocaust, pops up again and again. And like many Germans I'm a bit tired of it. I had this topic three times during school and by now I often roll my eyes when it comes up. It's not that it annoys me, it's just that I think that at some point it's okay to accept that a wound has healed. It doesn't mean that one should forget about it. But with every serious wound one should learn from it. How to avoid it and what caused it. Well, point here.

Anyway, what made watch the movie in the end was curiosity. How could such an offinsive book/movie become that famous? It can't be all stupid.

So. Hitler is back. I won't say how. But he's back in 2014. And he finds his way into society. Not by aggression but by word. First, it's funny and hilarous and then it gets more political and serious. But still funny. People in the movie act like that. First, they think it's a joke. As it becomes more political they still think it's a joke but become interested. Everyone knows about the history but everyone thinks it's in the past. People don't feel taken honest by current politicans and become interested in what Hiler says. He doesn't lie. He's honest and open. People listen. And all people in the cinema act the same way. First they're laughing and then things change. Realisation sinks in. Again, I won't say why. Just let's say. It's easy to manipulate people. Until it's too late.

Go, watch this flick. Have fun, laugh until you can't breath anymore and then ... well, experience it on your own.

This flick gets straight 9 of 10 Points. It has good actors. It's believeable. The story is excellent. It has humor. It has plot twists. It has some action and it's thrilling.

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Date:2015-10-20 09:22
Subject:HerbstCon 2015
Mood: good

I have so much stuff to write. As Usual. Most times I start with something which ends in a huge amount of text. After the writing itself it often happens that I lack of the time for a proper re-structure and grammer/spell. That's a problem. When not sticking to it, well, the text becomes uninteresting aftera few days. I have written about (so it feels like it's off off my mind or chest) and that's it. A habbit I developed from writing diary.

So, Todo for the next weeks: write at least one entry per week. Lets see whether that works. Or not. :)

Let's get started!

So, I was at HerbstCon last week. I've to damit that HerbstCon isn't that special to me anymore. It's more of a routine and I wonder whether I should use the few days of vacation this small Con requries each year for something else. Further, most times the weather during the last year were, well, wet.

But I've admit that HerbstCon did a lot of good things to me this year. I was a lazy fox (eh, can you imagine _me_ being lazy? :) ) and I spend quite some time in the forest around. In fact, this year the weather was the exact opposite of what I was used to whenbeing at HerbstCon: bright blue sky all day long and rain on the day of departure.

There isn't much else to say. I had some (quite) emotional conversatiosn with friends (especially during late hours at the campfire) and quiet time for myself. Thinking about stuff that's overdue.

Oh. And I almost roasted myself. I felt for taking a nap by the campfire. Being outside in the cold air, listening to the cracking fire and the noises of the forest around. Falling asleep just like that. So I rolled myself up in my medieval cape (thick wool) and laid down on the bench next to the fire. I woke up after an hour, wondering... why I'm feel so odd? Why is it so damn hot? Why do I feel like on a damn spitroast? Oh, yes, I remember. I added some logs of wood to the fire before. Not many but... obviously enough. I went up and the headcache of doom greeted me instantly. A cold towel on my neck for an hour brought everything back to normal. Lesson learned.

There was also a sad moment. On the last day, while waiting for my driver to get ready, I was wandering around a bit and found, at a far end of the youth hostel ground, a dog plushie. I first thought it was a real, dead animal. Because, in deed, the plushie was placed on the ground in a sad, theatralic position. There was alreay moss on it's eyes. Like those eyes were already gone. It's odd. I'm a grown up man but still - the view made me sad. I had to think of my own well-loved push animal from my childhood. I was wondering whether there might be a children somewhere, missing it's plush friend. I know that I would have been sad for weeks.

So, yeah, glad that I attended. Oh! It's also been ages that I took some Photos at HerbstCon!

And, OH! Nr. #2. I took measures at the small river that flows near the youth hostel. I think I finally want to install a small water turbin. Dunno. Powering some 3 W LED for the shack where the wood in stored inside. Let's see what I think about that in some months.

Enough Text for today! Have some pictures instead. You can have a look at all pictures over here

My favorites
I call those two Fungus Village and Fungus Village Castle
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Like dear Tabalon once said This is the stereotypic picture that you'll find when looking up the 'fly agaric' in a book about Fungus.
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There's something I don't get. 11AM. The sky is clear and the sunshines bright. People prefer to sit inside in the dim lit eating room, clinging desperately to their coffee mugs instead of going outside.

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So, yeah, sad view.

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Date:2015-03-20 11:10
Subject:About the FurAffinity Sale

So, FurAffinity was sold to IMVU. Reading that left me with peculiar feeling. On a personal level my first subjective thought was "Oh, FurAffinity saleout! Quick! Grab all the copper cables of value that are left before the last rat has left the sinking ship!"

Of course there was the usual drama that follows each service/public annoucement. No changes happend so far and I always find it funny how people fume about and leave FurAffinity (or at least say that they do). Eh. That's a tad childish. Just wait and let us see what happens.

But, there are several intersting questions that arise from the sale.

First: what do IMVU want with a site like FurAffinity? It's not that FurAffinity seems to fit into their business model. It's not that the owner is a Furry, has lot of money to give away and want doing something good for us. Like paying programmers to implement new features into FurAffinity for free. IMVU is a business. Business is about money. They have bills to pay. With money. And money needs to be earned. From customers. IMVU payed for FurAffinity and now the investment needs to pay off. IMVU wants a revenue from the investment. The question is: how? Which bring me to the second point.

Second: why investing in the Fandom? Well, our fandom is constantly growing and and expanding. It shifts more and more into public focus and attracts more people. It's on the way to become an interesting element for regular business parties. Regular shops have alreads shown interest in the furry fandom as a market place. Buying FurAffinity may have been a clever move to get a foot into the Fandom. Again, a key question arises: what kind of business model does IMVU have in mind for FurAffinity?

Third: Content. Let's face it. We Furries are odd and there's a lot of gross, dusturbing and legal-wise very questionable content up on the site. When checking out the IMVU Site with its's all tame, stereotypic and beauty-model like characters/avatars, well, one may wonder: how does the typical IMVU customer respond to a site like FurAffinity? What kind of interest could a regular IMVU customer have in FurAffinity? An interest which IMVU can use to make money? Let's face it. IMVU made an offical announcement on their Twitter Acc and welcomed FurAffinity in their family. People will have a look at FurAffinity and sooner or later and IMVU has to make sure that FurAffinity fits into their key market. Explict Artwork with very questionale content (like with definitely too young characters having sexual interaction - or in-fact bestiality stuff) does not fit. What will they do about it?

Questions over questions. I'm curious about the answers. We'll see. Sooner or later.

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Date:2015-01-08 12:15
Subject:Close to tears
Mood: sad

Paris, France, yesterday. You know what I'm talking about. I read about it in the news. Worse enough. Then I made the mistake to watch (warning... not for the faint heart...) Video on LiveLeak, showing how the police offer gets shoot. I see violence on a daily basis. Mostly in the news. But somehow, seeing this creeped me the hell out and tore on my sould. I mean it. I felt cold on the inside and couldn't get my mind to think about something else yesterday evening.

I've seen quite some cruel scenes in the media (and especially the 'net) in my life so far. Some things I wish I had never seen. Bis this... is different. What makes it so cruel is... how simple it looks like. There are no emotions to understand. No fighting that escalates, no words. There just this guy shooting at the officer, then walking past him and shooting him in the head, casually. Like passing a garbage bin, disposing something. Lion Christ. Shit.

I have a graphical mind that starts to process such stuff on its own without me being able to stop it. I wonder... how it must feel to be his wife (if he had one) to see this. Not in the media. Not commented, not blurred out but just as it is. Raw, uncensored, honest. I wonder how it must be to sit at work when suddenly someone IMs you or you get the link on some social media. You know your husband works for the police and you already have a bad idea what this will be about. And then you see it. Without any warning. No idea how I would respond. I can imagine thousand ways.

I wonder how it must be to know that there's a Video of it... how long it would take to struggle with onself until the urge to know it wins. To close that chapter. Only to tear the soul apart. My eyes begin to water while I write this.

What to do? There's raging hate and pain I can imagine. The urge to get that guy and kill him. Hoping it would help to deal with the pain. But it won't. The beloved one is dead. It won't bring him (or her) back. And it crosses a line one one should cross.

Sometimes I wonder what to do in such a case. Maybe forcing the person into a therapy that allows the guy to finally realise, understand and reflect what he has done. Not in a way that makes him understand that he did something wrong but that allwos him to feel what he did. Destroying a life. Not only one. That he did something that can't be reversed. And then let him live with that. On a daily basis until it tears him apart. Until he ends up on the street, not being able to deal with what he has done. And eventually, when he's about to go nuts, having sleepless nights, one should hand him a knife , saying "you know what ths is for" and let him alone with that.

But no. That's not right. Even if it may feel right... as long as the pain clouds the mind. It's not right to introduce such pain to others. It's just not right. But there's nothing left that feels right. Forcing onself to be fair to someone that took away your most beloved one. Maybe the only right way is to put the guy in therapy so he can eventually make up for it in some way. Turning and doing something good in the service for mankind. The only way to get rid of the pain is to close the chapter, I guess. To deal with it. How unfair. But I guess it's the only option that prevents the soul from being torn by hatred and pain - especially when seeing the person that's responsible. I wonder how hard it must be to close that chapter. To fight and still see the good side in mankind.

To everyone who lost a beloved one yesterday... or some hours ago.. and in the days to come: I'm sorry for your loss...

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Date:2015-01-05 12:23
Subject:The Hobbit, 3 - A small review
Mood: okay

Offtopic: Happy to year to all of you! :)

Before seeing that movie I already assumed that the proper subtitle for this flick would likely be

"Big, nasty Dragon learns something about Karma and gets his ass kicked". *

And that's exactly what the movie boils down to. Within the first 15 Minutes. After that it's more or less like what the Lord of the Rings was about 80% of the time. Our protagonists and obvious heros fighting with a shorthanded army agains thousands of evil orks and allies, only to get their asses save by some miracle-like events.

Of course the quality is awesome. Lots of beautiful landscapes and alike. But it doesn't make up for the lack of story. I have to say sorry in case this sounds like a rant. It's not supposed to be one. I'm just disappointed. At some point I even lost my suspense of disbelieve.

There's this scene where one of the human-sized protagonists (forgot his name) stands up against a nasty, over sized and heavy muscles 10-15m tall Ork. The Ork's weapon of choice is some big, cubic stone that weights likey at least 1,5 Tons. It's locked to a big chain. He throws it around like it doesn't follow the rules of physic, trying to smash our poor protoagonist. Suddenly, when named stone lies on the ground, our protagonist (he's a human, just to bring that back to memory) lifts it up and tosses it against the Orks chest like the stone is just some football. "Here, hold that for a moment, buddy". Honestly?

'Nuff said. 3/10 Points.

*) No, I don't dislike Dragons. Quite the contraty. I like them a lot. It's just that I can't take Smaug honest. He's lovely animated but lacks of character. Okay, he's evil. But that's all. Shallow. I'd likely stand in front of him, arms crossed, one eyebrow quirked, making sarcastic comments about his character.

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Date:2014-12-29 13:12
Subject:White beauty
Mood: happy

It's been a while - in fact almost two years - since I wrote my last season related entry. It feels good to do it again.

You may already guess what this is about. Yes. Snow. Yay! *bounce* :) Last night was one to remember. I was supposed to go to bed around midnight but went stuck in a conversation on IRC. It's was one of the (really) rare nights were I suddenly find myself submerged in an emotional discussion and forgot about time. It rarely happens. I dunno why. It takes the right person, the right mood and the right topic to get into it - and it happens only once or twice a year. But each time I enjoy it. Those are lovely nights to remember. Peaceful ând calm, leaving me with a deep feeling of bonding with people I like.

At some point around four o'Clock on the morning someone said that it's snowing in Berlin. Yeah. Snow in Berlin. Right. Half of Germany is stuck in heavy snowfall and Berlin got just some flakes. The forecast also said that the east of Germany, where Berlin is located, won't get snow during the next couple of days. I had a look ath the window. The few dimm rays of artificial light cast from street lights filtering through the shutters didn't gave much witness of snowfall away. Out of curiosity I left my bed and hoised the shutter a bit. After blinking in disbelieve I pulled them up all the way. What I saw filled me with amazement. Thick, soft flakes of snow greeted me, dancing slowy to the ground, adding to the the already thick layer.

It's the same each year. The first snow of the season turns me into a child again, wanting to go outside instantly. Usually it's the deep humming of the snow plow that akaws me. It's a sound that's associated with snow fall and that makes me snap to attention all the way instantly like some magic spell - regardless of how deep I'm asleep. I went down the staircase, jumped and - BAM - hit my head nasty on the doorframe. Owies~. I still stuffer a light headache. But nothing serious.

I'm glad that it was all dark outside and my that neighbors were still asleep. I think they would eventually deem me all nuts when seeing me walking through the garden in the night bare feet, waring a tunic and just shorts. Especially after I already got odd looks yesterday for disposing ashes from the wood stove on the fields in my backyard, thrown by hand. I just wait for rumors about me practising the art of black magic or something alike. Nah, just kidding. :)

Each year the first snowfall reminds me of a famous comic strip from Calvin and Hobbes again. Let's go exploring! That's what I did. I took my camera and went outside - this time with proper clothing, mind you -, taking photos in my garden and the streets around. The world looks and feelt so peaceful. Like it never saw any harm or wrongdoing. Like it want's to show us how fragile and beautiful life can be.

Lets go exploring

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Date:2014-12-08 14:03
Subject:Project: Buzzer Box
Mood: annoyed

I like my workplace. Every now and then I get requests to build odd, funny or just aswesome stuff. This time it was Multi-Input Reader for Buzzers. It's primary used in a company intern quiz-game with mixed groups of employees. By now it got also used in a small TV show production where two moderators stood up against each other.

There's nothing fancy about it. It's build around a ATMEGA16 Mikrocontroller. Basically because it comes with at least two fully accessible multipurpose 8Bit GPIOs. I felt just too lazy to come up with a multipexed concept for buzzer reading. Or something with shift registers. Timer/Counter1 is used to generate an IRQ each 1ms, required to read all inputs in parallel. The set of two Bytes is then shifted through a counter which detects if any (and if so, which) Bit is high and therefore representing a hit Buzzer. In the very unlikely event that two parties hit a Buzzer exactly at the same time (remember, we're talking about a readout each 1 millisecond) the Bit that is read high first place while shifting the Bytes is the winner. Each Bit is then flaged as "hit" and will be ignored until it goes low again. This allows to create a list with hits in regard of the order in which they where hit. This list is send to a PC by using a RS232 interface and evantually a RS232 to USB converter adapter.

I also wrote a small Perl script that reads the Serial port, shows the result and stores it in a small textfile. Another colleague wrote a fancy game software that reads the textfile and responds to the the input according to the current state of the game. The game is entirely controlled by keyboard and comes with features like: flexible categories, game music, hightscore list, different fadeovers.

To answer two pissble questions/comments in advance:

  • Yes, wireless buzzers would have been cool, but the job request stated: cheap and fuctional.

  • Jep, I modified the Buzzers and removed the lock function. The Switches jump back up "open" (normal psotion) back on its own when lifting the hand.

  • The Multi-Input Reader
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    Some random project pictures
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    Date:2014-12-04 14:34
    Subject:"Toilet In Use!" Traffic Sign for my Workplace
    Mood: relaxed

    I happen to work in the Tech/IT/Project administration of the company I work for. Our department shares the floor with some other departments. Overall, we are quite a lot of people. And there's just one toilet on the floor. Okay, there's a second one but that the one for ladies. Most of my colleagues happen to be coffee addicts. Some are of the heavily addicted kind. By now you may start to understand the quandary that arises from this specific situation. Yep, a frequently occupied toilet which in return means that each of us often walk to the toilet when it's already in use. The problem isn't exactly that you have to check later again - or wait. The problem is that most of us head downstair to the second floor. This inhabits a potential risk for meeting other colleagues. Colleagues will see us and will remember that there was something they wanted to ask us about. We're doomed. In most cases we won't see our own again workdesk before half an hour ago. Which disturbts the train of thoughts in regard to our own work.

    It's a problem. I fix problems. That's why I got the nickname Fix it Fox at work. Eventually on a Friday about two months ago most of my colleagues were not in but attending an external meeting. I took the opportunity and finally assembled the Toilet Traffic Sign I've been building at home during the summer every now and then when having a minute of free time. Looking for traffic sign housings? Ebay is your friend. This one was cheap because it orgially existed of three elements. One was completely damaged. Sadly it was the red element. But organge works as well.

    There's not much to say about it. The light bulbs got replaced with cheap LED-clusters from ebay. The whole system is powerd by a small 5V/1A Wall Plug Power Supply. The PIR Sensor was salvaged from an old Solar Garden Lamp (water and frost damage). A ATTiny25 Mikrocontroller was used to bring it alive. The CPU clock is generated by using the internal RC Oscillator with approx 8MHz. The Timer/Counter0 unit runs in CTC Mode and creates an IRQ every 50ms. Timer/Counter1 generates a 35KHz PWM signal for a smooth LED fadeover between orange and green.

    The Software is kept simple as well. With each IRQ from Timer/Counter0 the "PIR Input Pin" is read. The PIR Sensor itself, which is connected to it, generates a 100ms long puls each times it detects movement. The µC can't miss a hit. An impulse turns the lamp from green to orange (Toilet occupied) The read impuls sets a 16Bit timer to value 1800 (20 Timer IRQs/s * 90s) and is decremented with each IRQ from Timer/Counter0. While the counter is decrementing each new impulse will set the counter back to 1800. When the counter hits 0 (after not receiving an signal from the PIR Sensor for 90 seconds) the light fades back from orange to green (Toilet free). There are two reasons for the delay: making sure the toilet is really free. Some poeple tend to sit quite still, which makes it harder to detect them. It helps to avoid the false assumption of a free toilet. From two months of operation I can tell: 90 secods works like a charm. Also, it help to aerate the room at least a bit after use.

    Traffic Sign and PIR-Sensor installed
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    Some impressions from the construction
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    Date:2014-12-02 23:34
    Subject:Binary Clock Version 3 (or 14 Years of Binary Clock Building)
    Mood: accomplished

    This project is so much fun and makes me smile each time I'm working on it. It's related to a lot of memories and feels a bit like timetraveling. Binary Clocks have some sort of history in my life. This is the third Binary Clock I've build in my life. Many years have passed between each one (each time about seven I just noticed) and looking through my project pictures tells a lot of stories and stirs up memories. Not only related to this specific sort of project but also about my life back then in general. What do they say? It's amazing how fast the boring now becomes the awesome old time. It also reminds me of HOW long I know good old Phelan by now. He also inspired me to build a binary Clock first hand. When thinking about it I come to the conclusion that we both inspire each other a lot. Which is very grateful for.

    2000 - First version
    I had to laugh so hard when realising that the reason for building my current Binary Clock is the same like back then in around 2000 when I was building the first one: Damn! I need a clock in my room! Back then it was my room in the house where I grew up. Now, this one is for my living room. In 2000 I told Phelan about and he suggested building a Binary Clock. And so I did. But I didn't keep it. Phelan was absolutely fascinated by it that I just gave it to him as a Christmas present some months later. And as a result: lacked of a clock in my room some more months to come.

    On the pictures below you can see the prototype and the final first version. It puts some things into spotlight. Primary what I've learned from building those projects. For a start: how I'd build my boards back then. Without any CAD tool, routed and transfered by hand entirely. Just look at all those holes aslant and ugly. It worked but was a pain. Especially creating the layout on a sheet of paper took a lot of time. It also required a copy machine to mirror the layout so it could be transfer properly to the PCB. That also explains why the all components are mounted like SMD parts: I forgot to mirror the layout. But - eh, screw it - it was just a prototype.

    After that I got myself EAGLE from CADSoft my mother supplied me with an (expensive) professional license for the Pro version. It took me a whole weekend to study the user manual and figure out how each function of the software works the right way. Up to the present day it's still my CAD tool of choice for designing PCBs. My first project that got entirely designed with EAGLE was the final Version of my first Binary Clock. It was so much fun to finally have a clean layout and lined up holes for all the components on the board. EAGLE made things so much easier. Open, change, save, print. Done. I could easily change the layout or re-locate components. Also routing was way more easy now. And - hell, yes - I was able to build double sided layouts!

    The first version was everything but perfect and I learned a lot from the prototype and the not-so-final version:

  • From the final version: Ground planes are so important when working with digital and HF circuits! The tracks on the prototype were short enough for signals to cause significant inductions. But on the large version (larger than a A4 sized sheet of paper) the tracks carrying the clock signal were prone to pick up noises. When switching off the light in the room the Minutes and Seconds jumped to random values. Hello inductive coupling. Adding pull-up resistors fixed the problem on a way I could live with it. For a while. Still, every now and then a large signal caused the Minutes and Seconds to change. The clock went all postal when I started to work on HF Transceivers or Switch Mode Power Supplies - or everything else that created strong (electro-) magnetic fields. I eventually fixed it by adding a sheet of grounded aluminium foil between insulating self-adhesive tape to the backside of the panel. It shielded everything. Almost. I also learned that: it's important to run burn-in and long-time tests. Just because something works on the bench doesn't mean it also works in the field.

  • From the final version: 20PPM frequency shift/tolerance doesn't sound like its much but had a visible effect. To name it: the clock ran ahead or fell back about several Seconds just after hours of operation. I read literature on "frequency shift compensation" and decided to add a variable capacitor to the clock source unit if I ever happen to build another clock. Which I did.

  • From the prototype version: Reading the clock at night becomes a big problem. Often it was not possible to tell which LED was which and therefore it's was not possible to calculate the proper time. Because of that I added a small additional resistor to each LED that feed a bypass-current to it, making it glow a bit in the dark by default. After that it was possible to tell which LED was on and which not during night from the difference of the brightness alone.

  • From the prototype version: It's important to hold and reset the clock source when entering the programming mode. Otherwise it will happen that one of thw (H:M:S) block will jump one number up when leaving the programming mode due to a present signal transition.

  • From the final version: God damnit! Never EVER clean acrylic plastic with alcohol. I have no idea about the reaction that takes place but it somehow causes the plastic to grow cracks to the point where it won't just look ugly but become very fragile and easy to break. I had to build the Front panel once more. Which was expensive, time consuming and frustrating. Lesson learned.

    • Features
    • OFF-Brightness for H:M:S, adjustable

    Photos of the first prototype...
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    ... and final version
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    2007 - Second version
    Version two was build around 2007. Lions_ had asked me to build one for him. It had to fit into a chassis for EU-sized laboratory cards. There we go.

    Setting the clock has become more easy. One button (start programming) locks the gate for the 1Hz Clock source and clears the divider. Another button supplies a 2Hz clock to the Seconds as long as it is held down. A third button (locks out the 2Hz clock signal) and supplies a 100Hz Signal to the Seconds, allowing to fast forward and set the Minutes an Hours. It takes some attempts until one gets used to it but then it works like a charm. After all buttons are released the 1Hz clock signal is enabled again after a delay of three Seconds. If an exact time is required the clock must be set three Seconds ahead of time so it's in sync when the button is released.

    • ON-Brightness for H:M:S, seperately adjustable

    • OFF-Brightness for H:M:S, seperately adjustable

    • Adjustable crystal frequency to compensate PPM tolerance drift

    • 100Hz Clock output. Helps when compensating the PPM tolerance drift

    Photos of the second version
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    Click to expand Click to expand

    2014 - Third version
    Now I'm building my third Binary clock. Again, the reason is, again: good damnit! I need a clock in my room! This time in the living room. I found my old "DCF 77 controlled 7 Segment Clock" project in one of the project boxes. But the motivation to finish it wasn't that huge. Several year ago I got a fancy DCF77 receiver (heterodyne receiver with two IF stages) that motivated me. I'm going to finish that another time. Let see of long it'll take. :)

    Anyway. The third version is controlled by a small Mikrocontroller. I settled on using a ATTINY26. The LED panel operates in Matrix mode with a refesh rate of 1,2Khz. Flicker free. This also allows me to dim the Clock by using PWM. During summer with a lot of light in the room the clock needs to be bright. But during winter or in the evening hours I want to dim it. Or turn the panel off entirely (i.e. when watching a movie).

    • Dual Color LEDs. RED = background light, GREEN = active

    • OFF-Brightness for H:M:S, manually adjustable

    • ON-Brightness for H:M:S, adjustable in 5 steps

    • Adjustable crystal frequency to compensate PPM tolerance drift

    • 2kHz Clock output. Helps when compensating the PPM tolerance drift

      The menue structure

    • BTN 2: (regular mode): LEDs OFF, LEDs DIM 1 LEDs DIM 2, LEDs DIM 3 LEDs DIM 4

    • BTN 2 (program mode): Feeding 1Hz to the selected block (H:M:S) as long as it is held down

    I'm wondering what kind of Binary Clock I'll build in 2021 . Seven years from now on. And also: How will my boards look then?

    Oh my. Look at the clock. Now I spend another two hours on writing small documentation. All I wanted to do was to post some photos and say "Look, that's the Binary Clock I'm currently building". :)

    Photos of the current version
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    Date:2014-12-01 15:58
    Subject:The Flow
    Mood: okay

    It still happens. The Flow. I'm always amazed about the effect it has. What started with the attemp to get one boring task/project done ended up in 9 hours of focused work on projects without eating and other distractions. It absorbed me completely and when I snapped back to attention it left me kinda stunned. I really got three projects done I was procastinating for months by now. All projects were so called re-work tasks. Re-Wiring devices and improving the stability and quality. Something that's needed but quite boring because it exists of boring and repetitive soldering work.

    So what did I do?

  • Rewiring the Battery Pack switch in my Yasesu FT-897D HAM Transceiver. I also changed the TCXO module, now using the Version 9 unit. Since I had to open the device anyway I installed two additional Filter units I got myself some months ago. One YF-122CN (CW, 300Hz) and YF-122S (SSB, 2,3kHz). Especially the 300Hz one kicks ass. Now I can listen to CW with all stations very close to the actual target frequency completely blanked out. Worth the money!

  • Months ago I got myself a 12V power bar. Which is basically a large bar with many 4mm laboratory plug sockets. The Packing said it can handle up to 60A (my transceiver consumes 22A alone). It's from china. So I didn't dare to spend ANY trust on named specification. A look inside has proven me right. Good thing I did that. Urks! After pondering to just throw it away I decided other wise and soldered thick copper wires to the tracks and changed the supply cables. The (car-) fuse holder got also changed. And - of course - I replaced all those ugly bright blue LEDs with diffused green ones. If I ever happen to meet a fairy that grants me one wish I'll ask her to turn all blue LEDs green and to make mankind forget how to build blue LEDs. You get my drift. :)

  • Reworking the interal wiring of my LDG AT-897 Plus Automatic Antenna Tuner. Leads should be kept short and in parallel when working with HF. Using "low frequencies" up to 50Mhz is NO excuse to not stick to that rule. Nuff Said.

  • Obviously there was also enough time to fit all parts to the PCB of my new Binary Clock. Good thing. Makes me happy. Ah, but that's worth an entry of its own. :)

  • Before
    Click to expand

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    Date:2014-11-27 14:35
    Subject:The fears about communication
    Mood: relaxed

    There's something I'm proud about. That I have learned to not avoid conflicts but to face them. Today I'm even able to do it calm, observing and thoughtful. Okay. Most times. ( :) ) Years ago such attempts made me lose my temper every now and then. I got mad at people.

    It's normal to be afraid of addressing problems when being unsure how the other side may respond. But in many cases such fears rise from a lack of selfconfidence in the own words chosen. Truth being told, I still feel nervous when writing mails every now and then. I want to transport my thoughts and emotions properly and fear that I might express them in a way that makes it prone being misunderstood.

    The more I learn to not panic while writing the more relaxed I become. And I wrote a lot lately. Uncounted pages in Mails and messengers. Basically I'll try to catch up with my past. The things I've done wrong because I was too distracted or didn't know better. What that is about in detail is worth different entries and just too mich to summarise here. The short version is: I learned that I missed learning a lot of social rules in the past. I drowned myself in work and other distraction, well knowing that I'm just avoiding uncomfortable topics. It's completely human to procatinate stuff until it bites one in the ass. After quitting doing a lot of stuff during the last year I feel like I'm calm enough to face such thought and worries. Most important: that I have enough free time and that I'm relaxed enough to face the emotional stress that goes along with it.

    I was thinking a lot about people and situation I meet and faced between 2001 and 2003. Just some days ago someone from that time contaced me, asking whether I want to see him while he's visting Berlin. It's not that I hate the person in context. I spend some day pondering. Thinking whether I should just jump over my feeling and say "sigh, okay". But No. I don't want to do that and I told the person so. As odd as it sounds. I feel free by just writing a long mail. Saying that I feel uncomfortable seeing him and explaining why. Just getting that off my chest without being unfair. It's the past. Done. And most important: I don't fear the answer I may get. Because I was honest, offering an insight into my emotions.

    And most important: I learned to differ between what I think about a person and the thoughts I want to share. Even when not being okay with someones behaviour it's okay (and even encouraged) to be honest about onself.

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    Date:2014-11-10 17:09
    Subject:Farewell and thank you for 17 years of freedom
    Mood: sad

    This weekend Germany was celebrating it's freedom and the fall of the wall. And I lost a part of my freedom. In the night from Saturday to Sunday some fucker stole my bicycle. People who know me a bit know how much I loved my bike.

    Saturday started as good day. The sky was blue and the temperature outside surprisingly warm for this time of the year. After spending some time in the garden and after working on some projects I went to a birthday party. It was likely that I would return late in the night. Therefore I went to the subway station on my bicycle. No need to wait for the night bus half an hour. Especially not when I need to walk another 15 minutes from the Bus stop back home. With the bicycle it's just ten minutes. I went to the subway station and locked my bicycle. That was the last time I saw it.

    Eventually, I was back at the subway station around 02:00AM. I went around the (...) [read on]Collapse )

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    Date:2014-11-06 14:12
    Subject:Screw you, safety screw!
    Mood: creative

    Seriously! No one needs those stupid safety screws! If someone is stupid enough to open a device and gets fried while doing so, well, that someone has (obviously) no idea what he (or she) is doing. And has learned something important: mind the sticker that says "only to be opened by trained staff".

    For everyone who knows what to do and what not: here's an easy solution for at least one typ of safety screws:

  • 1) Get yourself a screw driver of a suitable size. Make sure to get one with an extra hard tip.

  • 2) Find a metall saw with a suitable width and cut a dent with the needed width into it. If the blade of the saw happens to be too small: angle the saw a bit or widen the cut with a file afterwards.

  • 3) Have fun!

  • Click to expand

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    Date:2014-11-05 13:43
    Subject:Salvage it! LEDs for free
    Mood: relaxed

    Every now and then I need to get stuff from the hardware store nearby. Whenever I go I'll check the "old and broken lamps box" for goodies. Most of the stuff in there are incandescent bulbs and regular fluorescent lamps. Sometimes, when I need spare parts with grid voltage rating I'll take some old compact fluorescent lamp (so called "energy saver lamps") back home. But since LED lamps got cheaper and cheaper during the last couple of years those ende up in the box more and more frequently as well. Those are always welcome as they're a good source for optics and - of course - white (highpower) LEDs.

    Read on and find out how to fix those lampsCollapse )

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    Date:2014-10-21 14:02
    Subject: "Who Am I ?" (well, at least not) "Lucy"
    Mood: relaxed

    It's late, I'm kinda bouncy and with good spirits. Before I decide - once more - "yeah.. I'll write that tomorrow" I do that now. There's already a lot of stuff I made notes about on my list... again. Lot of projects and social issues. Time consuming ones.

    Anyway! I happen to watch two awesome flicks lately. No spoilers ahead, so you can read on without being worried.

    "Who I Am?"
    After watching some teasers I was pretty sure it would be another (more modern) Version of the 1995-Version of "hackers. Therefore I made the decision to not spend huge amounts of money on a cinema trip but rather see it when given the chance. Eventually I was watching it along with my GF when visiting her some weeks ago. We both were left stunned. It started, like hackers, with a rather serious intro that soon turned into silly tech stuff. No need to mention that you, if you happen to have some knowlede about electronics, communication hardware or inftrastructure, going to facepalm a lot. Or, like we did, enjoy the show and laugh a lot. The fact that the movie was filmed in Berlin helps a lot to get - at least for a citizen of Berlin - even more fun out of the movie. But soon after the fun part is over the flick gets pretty serious. It's the classy story: nerd gets friends and soon they're up to no good. While doing more and more stuff they soon cross a certain line and the consequences make them regret it for a lot of trouble is ahead. It get never boring and there is always something going on that keeps the mind busy. Like said, I'm not going to spoil anything. But the end is quite the brainfuck. :)

    The trailers for this flick paint a completely wrong picture of it. Out of 10 Points this flick get a straight 8! Go, watch it!

    Frankly, the first thing that came to my mind while watching a trailer on the tellie was "oh, another Kill Bill like flick with some lady going all postal. Big carnage ahead." In fact, there's some carnage going on. But it's okay. The short version is: a young woman happens to get drugs in her bloodstream that makes her use more and more of her brain until she's all up to all 100%. She starts to develop a lot of funny and awesome skills. The movie is quite a popcorn flick for it runs quite linear. Better not to expect big story twists. What makes the flick interesting is wondering what her next skill will be and how she's gonna use it. Next to a lot of funny scenes it also gets more and more philosophicalas it approaches the end.

    Out of 10 this one gets a 4,5.

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    Date:2014-09-30 10:43
    Subject:Glass Blowing Workshop
    Mood: relaxed

    pan_h_shiroi, eisfuchs, tabalon and tchk got me a birthday present you likely get only once in a lifetime - A voucer for a Glassblowing workshop. No need to mention how bouncy and nuts I was about it. I've been working with glass every now and then since ages. Mostly creating Tiffany- and Leaded-Glass windows pictures. The idea of working with molten glass came to my mind every now and then. Primary in the context of creating small figures, like a lot of people do in the small town called Lauscha (Wikipedia: Lauscha). Lauscha is called "the home town of the glass craftsmanship and the hometown of the bauble". It's located in the middle of Germany in the state Thuringia. I spend sever winter holidays there with relatives and it was always fun.

    Click to expand Click to expand

    Read the full report (including more pictures ;p)Collapse )

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    Date:2014-09-26 11:49
    Subject:How to kill friendships - A manual
    Mood: thoughtful

    I wrote this in a different context but I think the outcome is worth its own post. It also offers the first insight of what was going on with me (and inside me) for the last years.

    You need to understand the difference between working with friends and working with volunteers (no friend status at all, maybe just sympathy): Friends take you as you are. They know you and tolerate a lot because they know why you are the way you are. They know how you may act when stressed. Still, they like you for what their very own soul finds within you. As long as they can read and see you. But their tolerance is not for free. They expect the same thing of you. Without knowing it. Friendship can't be gained with arguments, money, pressure, by laws or something alike. It's a feeling. The feeling of being welcome, being understood and having somone you can turn to in hard times. Or even a feeling you don't even understand. When that feeling is gone, there's nothing that brings such a friendship back. It's over. Done. Broken.

    read on...Collapse )

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    Date:2014-09-25 15:53
    Subject:Guardians of the Galaxy - A Review
    Mood: accomplished

    I finally get to write this. Free time where I’m not tired is rare lately.

    First of all: relax. No mayor spoilers ahead. I will mention elements from three different scenes and give you a fair warning ahead. Bu those are none that will ruin the movie for you. In case you haven't seen it - what you should change as fast as you can. :)
    About two weeks ago I was finally able to watch Guardians of the Galaxy. So here are some impressions on this flick.

    Read the full reviewCollapse )

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