Archive for category Reallife

How to weigh your cat! – the IoT version

This is Leela. She is a 7 year old lilac white British short hair cat that lives with us. Leela had a sister who used to live with us as well but she developed a heart condition and passed away last year. Witnessing how quickly such conditions develop and evaluate we thought that we can do something to monitor Leelas health a bit to just have some sort of pre-alert if something is changing.

Kid in a Candystore

As this Internet of Things is becoming a real thing these days I found myself in a candy store when I’ve encountered that there are a couple of really really cheap options to get a small PCB with input/output connectors into my house WiFi network.

One of the main actors of this story is the so called ESP8266. A very small and affordable system-on-a-chip that allows you to run small code portions and connect itself to a wireless network. Even better it comes with several inputs that can be used to do all sorts of wonderful things.

And so it happened that we needed to know the weight of our cat. She seemed to get a bit chubby over time and having a point of reference weight would help to get her back in shape. If you every tried to weigh a cat you know that it’s much easier said than done.

The alternative was quickly brought up: Build a WiFi-connected scale to weigh her litter box every time she is using it. And since I’ve recently bought an evaluation ESP8266 I just had to figure out how to build a scale. Looking around the house I’ve found a broken human scale (electronics fried). Maybe it could be salvaged as a part donor?

A day later I’ve done all the reading on that there is a thing called “load-cell”. Those load cells can be bought in different shapes and sizes and – when connected to a small ADC they deliver – well – a weight value.

I cracked the human scale open and tried to see what was broken. It luckily turned out to have completely fried electronics but the load-cells where good to go.

Look at this load cell:


That brought down the part list of this project to:

  • an ESP8266 – an Adafruit Huzzah in my case
  • a HX711 ADC board to amplify and prepare the signal from the load-cells
  • a human scale with just enough space in the original case to fit the new electronics into and connect everything.

The HX711 board was the only thing I had to order hardware wise – delivered the next day and it was a matter of soldering things together and throwing in a small Arduino IDE sketch.

My soldering and wiring skills are really sub-par. But it worked from the get-go. I was able to set-up a small Arduino sketch and get measurements from the load-cells that seemed reasonable.

Now the hardware was all done – almost too easy. The software would be the important part now. In order to create something flexible I needed to make an important decision: How would the scale tell the world about it’s findings?


Two basic options: PULL or PUSH?

Pull would mean that the ESP8266 would offer a webservice or at least web-server that exposes the measurements in one way or the other. It would mean that a client needs to poll for a new number in regular intervals.

Push would mean that the ESP8266 would connect to a server somewhere and whenever there’s a meaningful measurement done it would send that out to the server. With this option there would be another decision of which technology to use to push the data out.

Now a bit of history: At that time I was just about to re-implement the whole house home automation system I was using for the last 6 years with some more modern/interoperable technologies. For that project I’ve made the decision to have all events (actors and sensors) as well as some additional information being channeled into MQTT topics.

Let’s refer to Wikipedia on this:

“MQTT1 (formerly MQ Telemetry Transport) is an ISO standard (ISO/IEC PRF 20922) publish-subscribe-based “lightweight” messaging protocol for use on top of the TCP/IP protocol. It is designed for connections with remote locations where a “small code footprint” is required or the network bandwidth is limited. The publish-subscribe messaging pattern requires a message broker. Thebroker is responsible for distributing messages to interested clients based on the topic of a message. Andy Stanford-Clark and Arlen Nipper of Cirrus Link Solutions authored the first version of the protocol in 1999.”

Something build for oil-pipelines can’t be wrong for your house – can it?

So MQTT uses the notation of a “topic” to sub-address different entities within it’s network. Think of a topic as just a simple address like “house/litterbox/weight”. And with that topic MQTT allows you to set a value as well.

The alternative to MQTT would have been things like WebSockets to push events out to clients. The decision for the home-automation was done towards MQTT and so far it seems to have been the right call. More and more products and projects available are also focussing on using MQTT as their main message transport.

For the home automation I had already set-up a demo MQTT broker in the house – and so naturally the first call for the litterbox project was to utilize that.

The folks of Adafruit provide the MQTT library with their hardware and within minutes the scale started to send it’s measurements into the “house/litterbox/weight” topic of the house MQTT broker.

Some tweaking and hacking later the litterbox was put together and the actual litterbox set on-top.

Since Adafruit offers platform to also send MQTT messages towards and create neat little dashboards I have set-up a little demo dashboard that shows a selection of data being pushed from the house MQTT broker to the MQTT broker.

These are the raw values which are sent into the weight topic:

You can access it here:

So the implementation done and used now is very simple. On start-up the ESP8622 initialises and resets the weight to 0. It’ll then do frequent weight measurements at the rate it’s configured in the source code. Those weight measurements are being monitored for certain criteria: If there’s a sudden increase it is assumed that “the cat entered the litterbox”. The weight is then monitored and averaged over time. When there’s a sudden drop of weight below a threshold that last “high” measurement is taken as the actual cat weight and sent out to a /weight topic on MQTT. The regular measurements are sent separately to also a configurable MQTT topic.

You can grab the very ugly source code of the Arduino sketch here: litterbox_sourcecode

And off course with a bit of logic this would be the calculated weight topic:

Of course it is not enough to just send data into MQTT topics and be done with it. Of course you want things like logging and data storage. Eventually we also wanted to get some sort of notification when states change or a measurement was taken.

MQTT, the cloud and self-hosted

Since MQTT is enabling a lot of scenarios to implement such actions I am going to touch just the two we are using for our house.

  1. We wanted to get a push notification to our phones whenever a weight measurement was taken – essentially whenever the cat has done something in the litterbox. The easiest solution: Set-Up a recipe on If This Than That (IFTTT) and use PushOver to send out push notifications to whatever device we want.
  2. To log and monitor in some sort of a dashboard the easiest solution seemed to be Adafruits offer. Of course hosted inside our house a combination of InfluxDB to store, Telegraf to gather and insert into InfluxDB and Chronograf to render nice graphs was the best choice.

Since most of the above can be done in the cloud (as of: outside the house with MQTT being the channel out) or inside the house with everything self-hosted. Some additional articles will cover these topics on this blog later.

There’s lots of opportunity to add more logic but as far as our experiments and requirements go we are happy with the results so far – we now regularly get a weight and the added information of how often the cat is using her litterbox. Especially for some medical conditions this is quite interesting and important information to have.

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20 things to know about life

Quite an interesting read of things to have in mind when doing, you know… life 🙂

Make time to pursue your passion, no matter how busy you are.

Source 1:

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Die Erdbeersaison ist eröffnet…


“om nom nom”

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Happy New Year!

A new year started and it’s time once again for the best wished to all readers of this weblog.



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small tool to filter iCal / iCalendar / ICS files

I am managing my appointments using Outlook on windows and iCal on OS X. Since I am not using any Exchange service right now I was happy to find out that Outlook offers a functionality to export a local calendar automatically to an iCalendar compatible ICS file. Great feature but it lacks some things I desperately need.


Since I am managing my private and my business appointments in the same calendar, differentiating just by categories, I had a hard time configuring outlook to export a) an ics file containing all business appointments and b) an ics file containing all private appointments. It’s not possible to make the story short.

So I fired up Visual Studio as usual and wrote my own filter tool. I shall call it “iCalFilter”. It’s name is as simple as it’s functionality and code. I am releasing it under BSD license including the sources so everyone can use and modify it.


It’s a command line tool which should compile on Microsoft .NET and Mono. It takes several command line parameters like:

  1. Input-File
  2. Output-File
  3. “include” or “exclude” –> this determines if the following categories are included or excluded in the output file
  4. a list of categories separated by spaces
  5. an optional parameter “-remove-description” which, if entered, removes all descriptions from events and alarms

Easy, eh?!

Grab the Source and Binary here:

UPDATE: You can now access the source code on github! You can even add your changes!

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and another Dell laptop just died…

this time a XPS M1330 blue-screened and only shows colored lines if you restart it:


If only the hardware would be as great as their service is!

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How to sell a car

Mission accomplished. I successfully talked a co-worker, who needed to buy a new car, into buying a gadget-packed BMW 1 series.

He calls it his “cluster on 4 wheels” – because obviously there is some processing “horse-power” in this machine 🙂


May he always have a safe ride!

Source 1:

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Welcome to the world of tomorrow!

So here we are on a new blog engine. It took me the better part of two days to do the Migration of 2,869 posts and 2,732 comments, a lot of pictures and movie files.

I will write an article on this but for now only two captures images from the migration:

yeah PHP rocks!

had to do some regex action to do the url rewrites


what’s the problem with this name?


What’s the matter with my last name?

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Hail Eris! All Hail Discordia!


I was in desperate need for an DDate equivalent running on Windows. DDate is an unix implementaion of date accoridng to the erisian calendar described in the principia discordia.

I only found some C Implementations. And since it’s fun to do I ported the original Discordian Date C code to C#.

You can download the C# sourcecode, licensed under CC-BY-NC here.

I also created a web page which displays the current discordian date and offers you to convert any gregorian date into discordian date representation.

This page can be accesses here. You can call another page with parameters and you only will get the ddate output back:

for example:

Source 1:
Source 2:

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the first 3000 km with the beemer

After more than 53 hours inside of our BMW are enjoying the car as much as we thought we would. Well I think we enjoy it even more than we would have thought.

In this nearly 54 hours we travelled 3252 km which translates to 2020 miles. With about 8,7 l of gas per 100 km (which translates to about 34 mpg) it’s less than I expected.

At around 2100 we had the first full-throttle run getting us up to about 230 km/h followed by the first car wash session and the first replacement windshield…(narf!)


Two weeks ago we had the chance to take the car out for a great drive through the “Franconian Switzerland” (I still like “Fränkische Schweiz” better). The only thing I write about this weekend is: great fun!



Need a new windshield? Check.

After around 2500 km my Beemer needs a new Windshield. It happened while washing the car – don’t leave the windshield wipers up while opening the bonnet… a cracking noise is what you will hear next.


The replacement will be installed next wednesday…

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Go little Mailserver, go!!!

Since we moved into a new apartment in the last 3 weeks I had no stable internet connection – neither had my private Mailserver.

As of today everything is in place – the mail- and fileserver is up and running and connected to the internet again. So I had a server which buffered all the mail that came in during that time. That sums up to:

Bild 3

63.671 Mails in about 18 days. Hussah!

Bild 1

Go little Mailserver, go!!!

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Finder Icon Pillows

Finally after more than 10 weeks of waiting the ordered Apple MacOS X Finder Pillows arrived at our door.




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der bi-em-double-you !

Ich fahre ja seit 2000 privat diesen wunderschönen SEAT Arosa. Nun ist das Auto Ende 1999 gebaut und damit auch nichtmehr das jüngste – eine kleine Excel Tabelle hat aufgezeigt dass das Auto de-facto durch die verschiedenen Durchsichten und Reparaturen mehr als zweimal komplett bezahlt wurde. Auch machte sich ein verstärkter Öl-Durst in den letzten Monaten eher unangenehm bemerkbar – unter anderem bekam ich erstmals die “nicht genug Öl”-Lampe zu sehen.


Das Auto meiner Frau ist da noch viel schlimmer dran gewesen – als Baujahr 1997 und mit dem Geburtsfehler “Opel” ist es ein Wunder dass es überhaupt bis ins Jahr 2008 durchgehalten hat. Nicht ohne Blessuren: die gesamte Elektrik tut mehr oder weniger das was sie will, die Rad lager hören sich an als wären ein paar Stahlkugeln in einer Waschmaschine unterwegs und die Lenkung an sich zieht so böse nach rechts dass man sozusagen die ganze Zeit nach Links lenken muss um geradeaus zu fahren. Und da ist dieser Geburtsfehler: Die Hütte rostet dass man glaubt das wäre ein Hochseeschiff ohne Lackierung. Nun ja.


Den Opel haben wir schon frühzeitig in 2008 dem Gebrauchtwagenmarkt zugeführt und auch – wie ich finde (meine Frau ist da etwas anderer Meinung) – reichlich Geld dafür bekommen. Für den SEAT Arosa haben wir uns ein anderes, endgültigeres Schicksal ausgedacht:

Im November 2008 klapperten wir die verschiedenen Autohändler in der Umgebung ab – all die üblichen Verdächtigen mussten befragt, begutachtet, bewertet und letztlich ausgewählt werden. Prinzipiell stellte sich die Frage: Ein Japaner oder ein deutsches Fabrikat?

Wir hatten einen Honda Civic im Auge – aber aufgrund glanzvoller Ignoranz der Händler und dem doch extrem schlechten Preis-Leistungsverhältnis haben wir uns schon frühzeitig entschieden: ein deutsches Auto soll es sein. Genauer gesagt ein BMW.

Die ersten Erfahrungen mit dem ortsansässigen BMW Händler haben dann auch recht schnell Herz und Brieftasche geöffnet. Schon nach dem ersten Besuch war die Probefahrt klar gemacht – wir hatten uns nämlich recht schnell auf einen “Einser” eingeschossen. Den gab es in der richtigen Größe und viel wichtiger: Mit der gewünschten Gadget-Dichte.

Am 08.11.2008 ging es also mit einem blauen 3 türigem 1er in den Thüringer Wald – gerade noch rechtzeitig vorm ersten großen Schnee. Wir haben natürlich die Gelegenheit für ein paar Fotos genutzt:

BMW_1er_Panorama_Steinbruch_2IMG_3556 IMG_3551 IMG_3552

Die Kaufentscheidung war getroffen – nun ging es an die Planung. Der BMW Konfigurator ist da ein ganz nettes Spielzeug, wenngleich ich mir da noch die ein oder andere Verbesserung gewünscht hätte. Über Weihnachten und im Januar wurde das Wunschauto konfiguriert und dann am 13. Januar mit der Hoffnung dass der Winter ein Herz mit uns haben möge gleich mit Sommerreifen auf den baldmöglichsten Termin bestellt. Abholen wollten wir das Auto nicht beim Händler sondern direkt in München in der BMW Welt.

Den Termin bekamen wir ein paar Tage später vom immer noch sehr zuvorkommenden, engagierten und überaus netten Händler – ja das ist nicht übertrieben, der Mann ist auf jede unserer Fragen eingegangen und hat sich speziell beim Rätsel-Thema “iPod-Integration” extra nochmal kundig gemacht.

Nun ging die wirklich anstrengende Phase des Projekts “BMW kaufen” los: das Warten.


Da trudelten dann im Wochen-Rhythmus die Bestätigungen, die finalen Rechnungen und so wichtige Dinge wie Kennzeichen-Tragetaschen und Informationsmaterial zur Abholung ein. Alles in allem hat das die Vorfreude natürlich enorm gesteigert.

Am 12. März war es dann soweit. Unser BMW war gebaut, poliert und fertig zur Abholung. Wir sind an dem Tag extra früh aus dem Bett da die Abholung selbst auf 14:20 Uhr angesetzt war. Das ist natürlich reichlich spät wenn man hinterher noch eine BMW Stammwerksführung machen will. Deshalb haben wir die Werksführung vor die Auslieferung gezogen und mussten so recht früh (4 Uhr, urks!) raus und nach München. Wir waren rechtzeitig da und natürlich war wie erwartet ein wirklich schöner Tag für uns vorbereitet worden. Der Empfang, die Werksführung, die BMW Welt selbst, die Präsentation unseres Autos – da fällt einem nur ein “WOW!” ein.

die Abholer-Premium-Lounge


die “BMW Welt”


die Treppe für die Abholenden – da geht man
gaaaaaanz langsam runter

Auf den Bildern ist ja auch diese Treppe zu sehen – da geht man nach dem Fahrzeug-Briefing – also dem Teil wo dem Abholer sein neues Auto in Theorie und Simulations-Praxis erklärt wird – gaaaanz gaaaanz langsam hinunter. Um dann direkt vor seinem Neuwagen zu stehen. Und ganz ehrlich, bei der ganzen Show ist das schon ein erinnerungswürdiger Moment wenn das Auto dann endlich vor einem auftaucht.


Außen weiß und innen ganz in schwarz.

Endlich war das Warten vorbei! Wir haben uns dann direkt auf die Sommer-Socken gemacht. Die Fahrt versprach nämlich spannend, oder doch zumindest interessant zu werden: Schneeregen und Nebel war angesagt. Das kam dann auch, war aber nicht die Spur eines Problems – schön langsam und sicher sind wir nach einem ewig langen Tag wieder zuhause angekommen. Die Nacht war dann aber auch nicht besonders lang – denn nur zwei Tage später sind wir umgezogen. Ja da ist sozusagen die “Coole Sache Nummer 2”. Den Bericht gibts dann aber in einem anderen Artikel.


back from fishing

So the one cool thing that took place the last two days is: We moved into a new apartment which is 4 times bigger.

It’s just one minute walk away from the sones offices which makes it just perfect. Pictures will follow in the next days when everything clears up.

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Clue #1 @ gone fishing

We just arrived in Munich.


Brawndo! THE THIRST MUTILATOR – It’s got what plants crave!

The final last pieces are falling into their place: We’re at 99.98% completion of the SONES Office Space.

Today we got the soda delivery. Since it’s unclear right now who likes what the most (pretty clear for myself: Dr.Pepper FTW!) the first order contained three different sorts.

Look that gorgeous fridge:


That means: Free Soda for every employee!



Happy New Year!

We (Steffi + Daniel) wish you a happy new year!



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gone fishing 2


“In olden days a glimpse of stocking
Was looked on as something shocking,
But now, God knows,
Anything Goes.”

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gone fishing

Frohe Weihnachten

Happy Holidays!


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Painting the wall

SONES just moved into the new place – and after having all the ordering done we’re now waiting for the delivery of the various bits and pieces of the new office.

To make it a little bit more SONESisch my wife and I decided to paint a 1,5m huge logo of the company on the wall that can be seen first when you walk in. So we went to the nearest hardware store and bought all the needed tools aaaaaaaand we found somebody who could mix the right shade of green to fit our company color.


Back at the office we started with placing the projector and the logo itself so we could draw the borders with a pencil on the wall.



When the borders where on the wall we started the masking tape attack! It was the first time that I had used masking tape but it everything went surprisingly good.


The last and final step is to paint it. So we got the paint, we got the rollers – and after half an hour:


The shades you’re seeing in the picture above are just because of the wet and already dry paint which has a slightly different shade. So after a bit of drying and the removal of the masking tape:


Et voilá!

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Voltage wins

Well I don’t talk about voltage in the electrical sense but the brand new flavor of Mountain Dew. Since it’s not officially purchaseable in germany it took some time till I had the chance to judge the 3 new flavors. Since the winner is already confirmed to be the voltage it was just a “I want to see by myself”-test 🙂

So here they are, the 3 flavors that were eligible for election:


the 3 flavors:

  • Revolution: Wild berry Fruit Flavor and Ginseng
  • Supernova: Strawberry Melon Flavor and Ginseng
  • Voltage: Raspberry Citrus Flavor and Ginseng

The voltage was my favourite too – the Revolution and Supernova taste just to artificial and strange… I could not drink more than a can… with the voltage I immediately wanted to have another one.

The one thing about the voltage that I don’t like is the color…


but hey, the other flavors colors… well…



So since Voltage won the vote there hopefully will be a new great flavor of Mountain Dew be available in germany too. (PLEASE!)


Our Jack-o-Lanterns

Halloween is due in a few weeks and we had the time to cut our Jack-o-Lanterns today. After buying them last weekend at the “Kürbisfest Alterndorf” (see pictures of this at my wifes site) we decided to do 3 different ones this year.

So… here are the three Jack-o-Lanterns of this year:


and in the dark at the house entrance:



Source: Kürbisfest Altendorf at

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real life is not a video game

Almost every video game company emphasizes the realism in their racing games. In at least one case this marketing lead to strange consequences: Carl Edwards hits a wall with is NASCAR racing car on purpose.


“Carl Edwards did everything he could Sunday, including purposely bouncing off the concrete wall at Kansas Speedway, but it wasn’t quite enough to beat two-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson.”

“I planned on hitting the wall, but I didn’t plan on the wall slowing me down that much,” Edwards said. “In video games, you can just run into the wall and run it wide open. That’s what I did, but it didn’t quite work out the same as the video game.”


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there’s music on the road…

“This is a road in Lancaster Ca. that makes music when you drive over it. It was created for a commercial and they designed harmonics in the asphalt to create the music when driven over. Apparently other countries have been doing it for awhile.”

Source: makezine

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For the real windows geek – use them when you need a soft-reboot or a force-quit from work.


Source: electricpig

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Dye your life…

Some weeks ago I came across those cool color changing LED lamps made by Philips in a hardware store. It’s a mood light with a remote control – you can even control up to 6 lamps with one remote… Oh I really do think that several of these would be great in the new office or at home.



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Color IQ

Uhh… I ususally don’t do that stuff but in this case I just was curious how it would work for me. Quite well I think:



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delicious dew


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free graph paper generator…

…if you do have a decent printer and if you haven’t got any graph paper – you could print it yourself.


thx to Kristian.


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Da surfe ich hier und da mal herum – schaue mir ein paar Internetseiten über Bamberg an und da werde ich Zeuge einer ganz seltsamen Darbietung.

Bislang wusste ich dass Verbreitungsrechte im Internet auf Länder vergeben werden können – also dass man beispielsweise einen Webseiten Inhalt oder Livestream nur innerhalb der USA abrufen kann.

Nun scheint diese Art der Gängelung auch innerhalb von einzelnen Staaten Mode zu werden. Offenbar kann man in Deutschland nämlich die Rechte nur für ein bestimmtes Bundesland erwerben… Leute Leute wo wird das noch hinführen?



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how to create your own photosynth

Photosynth is publicly available and it’s time to give it a try and play with the technology. Before starting you should be aware of some facts about the public photosynth technology-preview:

  1. all synths are uploaded and only available online (broadband needed)
  2. all synths are public, everyone can access them
  3. the synther tool runs only on Windows
  4. you’ll need a Live ID

When everything is checked you can go and upload up to 20 Gbytes of image data – my test synth takes up 200 Mbytes of the available space – so you have plenty of space to play with.

To start just install the photosynth application to view – and click “create” on the website. After the obligatory login you immediately can upload your pictures. Give it a name, ssome tags and a license and select your pictures.


Your pictures should show the same scene from different perspectives – photosynth is all about matching perspectives. After clicking on “Synth” the process starts.


And after a surprisingly short period of time your synth is done. Click on “View Synth” and you’re taken back to the website and you can browse your synth. That’s it – easy!


Source 1: my first photosynth
Source 2: Photosynth is open for the public
Source 3: create a synth

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Okay. Offensichtlich ist bald Weihnachten denn wie ich eben lesen musste gibt es wohl schon Lebkuchen zu kaufen… so langsam aber sicher verliere ich komplett den Bezug zu Weihnachten überhaupt.


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the roof, the roof, the roof is on fire

Google Streetview is bad. It’s just unbelievable what you can see and since the StreetView Vans are currently here in germany I don’t think I want to get captured…

In this case they captured…well…:


Source: Google StreetView

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Do the Dew!

I finally found a way to get Mountain Dew frequently and cheap here in germany. Oh joy!

Now the soda wishlist is completed. Mountain Dew and Dr. Pepper – soda heaven.



a matter of perspective

It’s a piece of art in a carpark:

“In Melbourne I developed a way-finding-system for the Eureka Tower Carpark while working for Emery Studio. The distored letters on the wall can be read perfectly when standing at the right position. This project won several international design awards.”




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self replicating machines

When I thought of self replicating machines I thought of end-of-time scenarios and a robot armies conquering the world and enslaving the human race… it’s not that bad right now but we’re getting to it… sort of 🙂


“Adrian Bowyer (left) and Vik Olliver (right) with a parent RepRap machine, made on a conventional rapid prototyper, and the first complete working child RepRap machine, made by the RepRap on the left. The child machine made its first successful grandchild part at 14:00 hours UTC on 29 May 2008 at Bath University in the UK, a few minutes after it was assembled.”

“RepRap is short for Replicating Rapid-prototyper. It is the practical self-copying 3D printer shown on the right – a self-replicating machine. This 3D printer builds the parts up in layers of plastic. This technology already exists, but the cheapest commercial machine would cost you about €30,000. And it isn’t even designed so that it can make itself. So what the RepRap team are doing is to develop and to give away the designs for a much cheaper machine with the novel capability of being able to self-copy (material costs are about €500). That way it’s accessible to small communities in the developing world as well as individuals in the developed world. Following the principles of the Free Software Movement we are distributing the RepRap machine at no cost to everyone under the GNU General Public Licence. So, if you have a RepRap machine, you can make another and give it to a friend… “


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speaking of Augmented Reality

It seems that I missed that Augmented Reality Toolkit all the way until now. It’s ARToolKit and it’s completely OpenSource.

As a matter of fact there are a ton of demos available… HOW could I possibly miss that for so long?

“ARToolKit is a software library for building Augmented Reality (AR) applications. These are applications that involve the overlay of virtual imagery on the real world. For example, in the image to the right a three-dimensional virtual character appears standing on a real card. It can be seen by the user in the head set display they are wearing. When the user moves the card, the virtual character moves with it and appears attached to the real object.

One of the key difficulties in developing Augmented Reality applications is the problem of tracking the users viewpoint. In order to know from what viewpoint to draw the virtual imagery, the application needs to know where the user is looking in the real world.”

Here is a short video demonstration of what you could start with:

…not talking about the things that would be possible if someone had a great idea 🙂


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new physics games … better than “world of sand” :-) and more

Small games that simulate real-world physics are just fantastic – I already wrote about a very similar game but this one has far more options 🙂


“This sandbox contains a variety of elements which the player can scatter at a mouse-click. Ice, water, fire, the titular “powder” (which serves as the sand). The heart of Powder Game is the way these elements interact. Water that touches ice will freeze. Ice that touches fire will melt. Drop a seed onto some powder and a plant will sprout. Water the plant and it will grow. Touch a flame to it and it will catch fire and burn.

The other key element that defines Powder Game is wind. Powder stacks in neat piles, but a click of the mouse (a right click by default, but this can be changed) sends it spiralling into the air. Currents coalesce, rub against each other, create eddies in the air. Fire creates wind, as does exploding gunpowder. Wind turns ice into snow, creates rivers of particles in the air. When the background effect is set to “BG-shade,” it becomes entrancing to watch.”

There is even a whole website around those physic games:


Source 1:
Source 2: World of Sand-old article
Source 3:

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what typing 4 words a second sounds like

Okay – the ones who are frequently using a keyboard know that they are getting faster and faster as time goes by – so it’s normal to type fast but FAST is not enough to compete in the national speed-typing contest in the states:

“Who’s the fastest typist in the land? If you’re talking about the Land of Lincoln, it’s arguably Melanie Humphrey-Sonntag, who has won the Illinois court reporters speed contest for the past three years. At last year’s event she transcribed the contest’s blazing dictation—averaging 245 words a minute—with a 99.193 percent accuracy.
That’s about 4 words a second.”

Source: Chicago Tribune speed typing (with video)

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Wie die Karten in das Navigationsgerät kommen

Wer schon immer mal wissen wollte wie die Karten eigentlich erstellt werden die in so ein Navigationssystem den Weg weisen der sollte sich mal folgenden Artikel und höchst interessante Bilder anschauen:

“Navteq fährt mit speziell ausgerüsteten Fahrzeugen rund 7,5 Mio. Kilometer ab, und das Jahr für Jahr. Denn auch wenn auf der Verpackung steht: 7200 neue Kilometer, dann bedeutet das nicht, dass der “Rest” nicht auch unter die Räder genommen wurde. Und das lohnt sich immer: Hier steht mal ein neues Schild, da ist eine neue Einmündung und dort wurde vielleicht die Straßenführung geändert.”



TVR is back in business and they just presented the 2008 Sagaris 2 *drool*

That’s the best news for months!! After TVR being out of business for some time they seem to be back in business now – they even presented the new Sagaris 2008 modell yesterday.

“Announced this morning by TVR Managing Director, David Oxley, at an exclusive preview event held at the new TVR development works in Lancashire, England – TVR Production has resumed!

Upon the momentous occasion, which included invited members of the TVR Car Club, TVR staff presented the TVR Sagaris model year 2008. Exterior design has remained the same except for new 5 spoke wheels, while the interior receives a new center console with satellite navigation.

As promised back in 2006 by TVR owner, Nikolai Smolenski said “My intention is to expand the sales and distribution of TVR cars throughout Europe, the rest of the world and USA markets is a key part of the business strategy of the company.” Built as a left hand drive model, the 2008 Sagaris confirms it will be exported internationally.

Preliminary pricing puts the 2008 TVR Sagaris just below 85.000 Euros.”

So now the only thing I need is the money to buy one of these beasts… I’ll have one in black or white 🙂

the re-designed interior included satnav…touchscreen…

…and re-designed exhausts… I actually liked the side-exausts better…

the new bonnet … and the gorgeous speed six…*raaawwr*

Source 1:—2008-sagaris-presented
Source 2:


great Nintendo game themed decals available for your wall…

Blik just announced that they as of now offer official Nintendo game themed wall decals. I was sold with the first picture I saw of it – I know it’s a bit pricey but hey – it sure looks great.


Actually they have more than this Super Mario Bros. 1 theme – they even got the “New Super Mario Bros.” theme which is more of a 2.5d than 3d version of the brothers.

“In late 1985, Super Mario Bros., created by the highly revered Shigeru Miyamoto, came to the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) making a splash by ending the two year slump of video game sales in the US. As of 2008, it is the highest selling video game of all time – 40 million copies to date. Its theme music is recognized by gamers and non-gamers alike.

Made with blik Re-Stik™, these movable and reusable decals are based on the same 8-bit graphics from the original Super Mario Bros. game. This is an official Nintendo licensed product.”

Did I mention that it has the official Nintendo seal?… Yeah I did.


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I want this 3D underwater mosaic … wait … first I need a pool

It’s an underwater mosaic that is on the bottom of the pool and it just looks great… at least for us 🙂





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Online Addiction.

Spooky. Hilarious!

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the ethernet wedding ring… OMG!

Since we already got them this is not an option for us… but maybe for your wedding:


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Lethal Weapon

Lawnmowing can be dangerous – especially for old fences.


The crime scene.


The penetrator.


Luckily, a new fence could be assembled.

Jens Heymann

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the perfect working environment part 5

Since the good old mac mini is gone and a new mac arrived – and since I moved to a new place I think it’s time to share my current desktop with you:


If you want to know how it looked in the old place an 9 months ago take a look at the fourth part of this series.

Source: the perfect working environment part 4

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Effective Ways of Theft-Protection



From a local bakery.

Jens Heymann

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