Archive for category hack-the-planet

Want. To. Buy. :-)

Oh what a nice n3rd toy this would be. Rumors say it will be available soon for under $30. And for those who right now think: “What the hell is this?” – This is a coffee mug in the shape of a quite expensive canon lens. In fact I already heard of that idea more than a year ago and wrote about it here. At this time there were only hopes that it would be produced.

canonlensmug

 

Source: http://www.petapixel.com/2010/03/06/canon-lens-mug-purchased-in-canada/

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developing a command line interface for the sones GraphDB

As you may know, my team and I are developing a graph database. A graph database is a database which is able to handle such things as the following:

510px-Sna_largesocial graph

So instead of tables with rows and columns, a graph database concentrates on objects and the connections between them and is therefore forming a graph which can be queried, traversed, whatever-you-might-want-to-do.

Lately more and more companies start realizing that their demand for storing unstructured data is growing. Reflecting on unstructured data, I always think of data which cannot single-handedly be mapped in columns and rows (e.g. tables). Normally complex relations between data are represented in relation-tables only containing this relational information. The complexity to query these data structures is humongous as the table based database needs to ‘calculate’ (JOINs, …) the relations every time they are queried. Even though modern databases cache these calculations the costs in terms of memory and cpu time are huge.

Graph databases more or less try to represent this graph of objects and edges (as the relations are called there) as native as possible. The sones GraphDB we have been working on for the last 5 years does exactly that: It stores and queries a data structure which represents a graph of objects. Our approach is to give the user a simple and easy to learn query language and handle all the object storage and object management tasks in a fully blown object oriented graph database developed from the scratch.

Since not everybody seems to have heard of graph databases, we thought it might be a good idea to lower barriers by providing personalized test instances. Everyone can get one of these without the need to install anything – a working AJAX/Javascript compatible browser will suit all needs. (get your instance here.)

Of course the user can choose between different ways to access the database test instance (like SOAP and REST) but the one we just released only needs a browser.

standard_cli

The sones GraphDB WebShell – as we call it – resembles a command line interface. The user can type a query and it is instantly executed on the database server and the results are presented in either a xml, json or text format.

graphdb-webshell

Granted – the interested user needs to know about the query language and the possible usage scenarios. Everyone can access a long and a short documentation here.

Source 1: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_graph
Source 2: http://www.sones.com
Source 3: Long documentation
Source 4: Short documentation

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So what exactly is Microsoft Research doing?

I am proud to anounce that there’s a video publicly available which shows parts and projects Microsoft Research is working on currently. It’s great to see theses projects, concepts and ideas become publicly available one by one:

“Craig Mundie, chief research and strategy officer of Microsoft, presents “Rethinking Computing,” a look a how software and information technology can help solve the most pressing global challenges we face today. Part of UW’s Computer Science and Engineering’s Distinguished Lecture Series, Mundie demonstrates a number of current and future-looking technologies that show how computer science is changing scientific exploration and discovery in exciting ways. He discusses the role of new science in solving the global energy crisis, and answer questions from the audience.”

uwtv

Source: http://www.uwtv.org/programs/displayevent.aspx?rID=30363&fID=6021

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dasBlog to WordPress migration

If you – like me – want to migrate from dasBlog to WordPress by using the great BlogML Export and Import you might want to take this advice:

After exporting the BlogML you should replace all “ ”s in the XML file. If you don’t do that WordPress won’t import anything in the article after the “ "s.

andnbsp

4 Comments

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:

php-xpath
yeah PHP rocks!

regex-magic 
had to do some regex action to do the url rewrites

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In case of low performance: check your systems latency

I ran into some strange problems with a notebook that leaded to sound drop-outs or things like sluggish UI and HDD performance. So I tried almost everything troubleshootig the problem. That worked for some problems but there are occasions when I want to have a more systematic approach to those kinds of hardware / driver related problems.

One tool that can help to find hardware / driver problems is the DPC Latency Checker. This tool measures and displays the latency of your system. All you have to do is watch as the measurements scroll by and remove / disable one device after another from your machine. As soon as the latency turns green again there’s a high probability that the device you removed last has a problem of some kind.

dpclatency

On my machine everything is in the greens now – after some BIOS and driver updates. If your system has some issues you would see something like that:

cdrom 
(courtesy of Gnawgnu’s Realm)

Source 1: http://www.thesycon.de/deu/latency_check.shtml
Source 2: http://gnawgnu.blogspot.com/2009/01/dell-latitude-e6400-sound-problem-fixed.html

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massive parallel computing with FPGAs

Today we had a great meeting with SciEngines. These guys offer a great platform for everything that needs massive parallelism and IO bandwidth scalability. They even brought a small copacobana cluster to our headquater.

IMG_0045

IMG_0044

Source 1: http://www.sciengines.com
Source 2: http://www.sciengines.com/products/computers-and-clusters/copacobana-s3-1000.html

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the .NET Framework sourcecode release and how to unpack it…

It’s great to finally have the .NET sourcecode for debugging purposes – inconveniently it’s in a format you might have your difficulties just browsing along. A little tool is here to help!

After you installed, let’s say the WCF sourcecode and debug symbols you get a directory structure similar to this:

wcfsource

This source.zip.tmp file holds the whole sourcecode as one big package. It can’t be unpacked – even one would suggest that by just looking at that .zip ending in the name of the file.

Instead this is a plain-text file of a certain yet simple format. I wrote me a little tool to unpack this file into it’s original files and directories.

You can get the little tool, including sourcecode, here: UnpackMSSources.zip

To start the magic, you would like to go to the command line and start the tool with two parameters. Parameter 1 is the path and filename of the source.zip.tmp file. Parameter 2 is the part of the Path that needs to be cut-off. For the WCF Sources it’s “/DEVDIV/depot/DevDiv/releases/Orcas/SP/ndp/cdf/src/” for example.

The tool will then start to whirl through the file and extract all the files it founds into directories it’s creating along the way. After some seconds you would end with a directory tree like this:

unpacked

Have fun!

Source 1: http://referencesource.microsoft.com/netframework.aspx
Source 2: http://www.schrankmonster.de/content/binary/UnpackMSSources.zip

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Society for Geek Advancement

“”Being a geek means being so interested in something that you don’t care whether or not it’s cool.”

THE SOCIETY FOR GEEK ADVANCEMENT was founded upon the principles that we should all embrace our inner and outer geek and have fun while doing it. As individuals who love learning, innovating and believe in possibility as well as change, the second step of responsibility is to “be the geek that keeps on giving”. As a member of SGA, we work together as a global community to provide the tools and help others realize their true potential too!”

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Source: http://geekadvancement.com/

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Rickrolled by bitsundso

Oh dare you Timo Hetzel!

rickrolled

1 Comment

SPAM down 100%

Obviously the SPAM Provider whose internet access was cut off on wednesday (as reported by the Washington Post)

mail_spam_

Incoming mails is down from 4226 two days ago to 1663 today…giving a spam filter total of 0 false negatives (down from 1115 false negatives two days ago).

Thank you, whoever you are, for cutting of that evil spam providing internet access provider!

Source: WashingtonPost

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DIY Photo Frame (with a twist)

I got these two quite old Windows Mobile Professional phones (with touchscreen and everything) and beside the fact that they are my phones I am using them just to display my calendar entries on my desk. Now I thought it would be a great thing if those two QVGA devices would display personal pictures in a slideshow.

And it would be even better if they would get their pictures from the internet. And even better if there would be an application that would allow me or my wife to upload/delete pictures from the slideshow playing on all devices.

Thought said, and done. I did a little afterwork project today, taking me approx. 3 hours with everything from scratch.

So I made these parts:

  1. a webservice to upload, delete and retrieve the pictures

    This really is just a webservice very similar to the one I used in my DropBox application. It’s hosted on one of my machines and makes the pictures also available to the mobile clients.

  2. an upload tool to upload, delete the pictures comfortably

    I took the DropBox Application and customized it – it now resizes the pictures automatically before uploading and it can display a preview in the file browser.

    photoframe_upload_1

    photoframe_upload_2

  3. a small application running on my phones that displays this pictures using the webservice

    This one was made from scratch and consumes the webservice from above. It asks for the next picture URL, downloads this picture and displays it… and so on.

    photoframe_app_1 photoframe_app_2

Since it’s already up and running and looking great on my desk I wanted to share it with you. Don’t expect everything to work out-of-the-box but it’s a start for everyone who wants to have something like this. Oh – of course your windows mobile device needs to have internet access…

So as usual here’s the sourcecode of the whole package for your pleasure. Use it where ever and in what ever whay you want as long as you’re crediting.

PhotoFrame.zip (639,87 KB)

P.S: There’s a fun fact I did not know: I accidently double-clicked the windows mobile application on my Vista machine and guess what: It just runs! Yes, manage Windows Mobile Application running natively on Windows Vista:

funfact

Source 1: PhotoFrame.zip (639,87 KB)
Source 2: DropBox

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Wie man “Schlag den Raab” schaut – ohne Werbung und ohne herumklicken

Hätte ich einen Fernseher wäre “Schlag den Raab” eine der wenigen Sendungen die ich mir glaube ich ab und an anschauen würde. Nun lief diese Sendung zum 13. Mal und ich dachte mir: Schaust du einmal nach ob das nicht im Internet als Stream angeboten wird.

Wird es – und zwar von ProSieben selbst – als Flash On-Demand “auf-der-Webseite” Player. Und hauptsächlich als Notiz für spätere Sendungen an mich selbst hier mal kurz die Anleitung wie man sich die ganzen Einzelvideos von Schlag den Raab auf den heimischen Rechner zieht um sie ohne Werbeunterbrechung und ohne lästiges herumklicken durchaus auchmal auf dem ebenso heimischen Fernseher anschauen kann. Die Qualität reicht dabei so gerade bis kurz nach knapp aber durchaus schaubar.

Also – für mich und den geneigten Leser:

schlag-denraab

Wie schon bei vorherigen Folgen der Sendung ist der vordere Teil der URL immer der gleiche, also http://videoplayer.prosieben.de/show_comedy/schlag_den_raab/flv/ – geändert wird jeweils das Jahr der Sendung – in diesem Fall 2008, der Monat – in diesem Fall 11 – und die Nummer der Sendung – in diesem Fall die 13. Danach kommt -00-01.flv bis -00-15.flv – wieviele Einzelteile das sind kann man auf der Webseite abzählen oder einfach probieren bis ein Notfound kommt. Einfach oder?

Das ganze Zeug ist dann mit handelsüblichen Playern abspielbar und die Qualität ist wie schon gesagt nicht so schlecht für ein On-Demand Angebot der kostenlosen Sorte:

schlagdenraab3

Der Platzverbrauch ist dann entsprechend auch bemerkenswert für ein On-Demand Angebot aber das ist ja nur von Vorteil:

schlagdenraab2

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DIY PMR Gateway

In my case it’s just partly do-it-yourself: Michael and Peter did the cable soldering and I wrote the software that controls the serial interface to the PMR sender/receiver.

My gateway is on PMR channel 5 with no CTCSS configured in the Campus area of the TU-Ilmenau. A gateway is only just a PMR radio connected to a PC which is logged into a Teamspeak server which is connected to several other gateways (citizen radio / PMR / …)

So if you talk within the range of my gateway you’ll be heard in more than 24 areas across germany over PMR and citizen radio.

Capture

One toolset which was particularly useful is the VU-Meter tools. You can use them to monitor your input/output ports and tune them for perfect modulation. You can get them here and they look like this:

vumeter

Since the cable soldering was one piece of craftsmanship a picture of the radio and the cable:

IMG_3316
the computer side of the interface

IMG_3318
the radio side of the interface

If you want to connect from outside the range of the PMR you should go to the homepage of Freies Funknetz and get all the necessary information there.

Source 1: http://www.darkwood.demon.co.uk/PC/meter.html
Source 2: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PMR446
Source 3: http://www.freiesfunknetz.de/index.html

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When in need of an engine: built it yourself with Legos!

Someone built himself a (actually not working) modell of a V8 – infact if you click on the related videos in youTube you’ll find working ones… I never knew that this would be possible with lego…

leog-engine[1]

Source: http://hackedgadgets.com/2008/09/29/lego-v8-engine/
Source 2: http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=Z8ut5ND3agI

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While…

“While we moan about the world turning to slow,

many people seem to moan about the world turning to fast.”

(ahzf :-))

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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.

livingcolors

Source: http://www.lighting.philips.com/microsite/living_colors/

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Building Earth

Steffi and I made our own version of earth some years ago using 3D Studio and NASA Images – we even made an animation. But this guy does a way better job – creating a photorealistic earth:

“For some time now, I’ve been studying how to build Earth in Blender. I’ve read quite a few tutorials, studied NASA’s Blue Marble images, and received critique from other Blender enthusiasts. I now have some satisfactory results, which I’d be happy to share.

I’ve put together a 21-page tutorial which explains how I achieved my Earth renders. I know there are already a lot of Earth tutorials out there – but none that I found helped me get quite the effect that I wanted. My tutorial combines what I gleaned from all the other tutorials, with what I learned on my own through hours of experimenting. I’m sure it’s not perfect – but I think it will be helpful for anyone interested in the subject.

The tutorial focuses on three different models of Earth – a photographic-style Earth, a Blue-Marble-style Earth, and a night Earth. It demonstrates how to render details such as proper specular shading and ray-traced cloud shadows.”

There’s a free pdf tutorial available that shows how to create these 3D renderings with blender.

Earth Poster

Source 1: http://chamberlinproductions.110mb.com/mappedearth.html
Source 2: “what’s the size of the earth compared to”
Source 3: http://web.olp.net/wildernesslodge/Earth%20Tutorial.pdf

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I finally got my low latency network audio solution

In May 2005 I wrote about a wish I had for years:

“As usual I’ve got a very strange wish what nobody else seems to have on this planet. I have several computers of different platforms. And on one of this machines there are speakers attached…I want to have the possibility to output from any of the machines to the speakers. And please loss-less and low latency!”

It took more than 3 years to fulfill this particular wish. But now it’s done. In 2005 I mentioned the Airfoil software that could run on MacOS X and forward sound from almost every application to an AirTunes compatible device. As it turns out Rogue Amoeba did their homework and created a free “Airfoil Speakers” application which can be used on Windows and MacOS X.

So the things are simple: Start the speaker application on a machine that is in the same network/subnet as the Airfoil master. The virtual speaker is then displayed on the master machine and you can assign a sound source from that machine to the speaker. Hmm… Simple Setup sample: One machine is in my kitchen (Windows XP machine) and one machine is on my desk – an iMac. In the kitchen only the speaker application is started and the iMac instantly “sees” the speaker. One click and the sound output of my desk machine is forwarded through the network to the kitchen… Easy and cool. One can think of any other combination of Speaker/Master application – even multiple speakers can be powered by one master…oh joy!

So here is what the master looks like:

airfoil

and this is what it looks like on a client (speaker):

airfoil2

Source 1: nerd wish of 2005
Source 2: http://rogueamoeba.com/airfoil/

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das FeM Blog fest in Skripte-Hand

Offenbar spielt da gerade ein von mir nicht zu verantwortendes Skript verrückt – Schrankmonster wird zur Zeit nämlich 1:1 schamlos kopiert 🙂

femblog2

femblog

Ich freue mich natürlich darüber und habe direkt mal die Google FeedAds eingeschaltet…

P.S.: Bitte bau noch einer von den Blog Administratoren dass die Umlaute richtig übernommen werden – so ist das ja alles nur halb so hübsch.

Source: http://blog.fem.tu-ilmenau.de/

2 Comments

Fixing the bad bad mouse acceleration in Mac OS X

I finally found a fix for the unspeakable mouse acceleration problem I have with MacOS X. It’s just a fact that Apple seems to have no idea how to do the mouse handling. Some people say it’s the mouse acceleration curve that apple got wrong:

“As wonderful as Mac OS X is, it has a grave defect that can have an immediate adverse impact on the computer’s usability: the way it translates mouse motion into pointer movement. For many users, moving the mouse feels unnatural because of the peculiar way that Mac OS X performs that translation. In industry parlance, the translation is called the “mouse acceleration curve.” What is a mouse acceleration curve, and how is its implementation problematic under Mac OS X?”

It’s a problem I can live with but I am not happy. With Panther and Tiger I had a solution called MacMiceCommand. But with Leopard this solution stopped working and until I found this:

“This is a GUI version of Richard Bentley’s MouseFix. (i)MouseFix is a very simple program that will allow you to regain control of the mouse acceleration in Mac OS X. Both this web page and the program copies large parts from MouseFix because he says: “feel free to take the code and wrap a nice interface round it. Be nice and make it free for everyone to use though :-)””

Source 1: mouse acceleration explained
Source 2: http://www.lavacat.com/iMouseFix/

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Paper Replika: Wall-e, Eve and…

…almost everything else. You’ll have to print it, fold it, glue it… and then it’ll eventually become:

“WALL-E Paper Model. WALL -E (Waste Allocation Load Lifter Earth Class) is programmed to clean up the planet, one trash cube at a time. However, after 700 years he’s developed one little glitch, a personality. He’s extremly curious, highly inquisitive and a little lonely.

  • Solar Powered Regeneration Unit
  • Size 33 All Terain Modular Treads
  • Twin Hydraulic Arm Shovels
  • Digital Audio Recording/Playback Module
  • Low Convergence Head Mounted Laser”

walle_9

Source: http://paper-replika.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=54&Itemid=30

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When a site redesign isn’t accepted by your users…

…they eventually start making their own layout of your site… And you cannot do anything about it but listening to them!

A few days ago a big it-news site in germany relaunched it’s site with a new fixed-with-all-left layout. And more than 3000 comments by users had one and only thing to say: We don’t like it.

They disliked it that much that a few sat down and created their own site layouts by using firefox plugins like “stylish” – where you can create your own styles for sites.

beforeafter

I always wanted to see what these style-altering plugins can do but I never had the drive to think me into it…

Source: http://userstyles.org/styles/9589

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Munich in 3D …

OMG! I just realized that the better part of Munich is available in Google Earth in 3D mode – which means real real 3D buildings like this. I thought that the birds eye view of Virtual Earth is cool – but this is a different animal.

googlearth

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Indlebe Radio Telescope made by students detects (natural) radio signal

“Last week, the Indlebe Radio Telescope, situated on the Steve Biko campus of the Durban University of Technology, successfully detected its first radio source.
The Indlebe Radio Telescope is a transit instrument that operates at the Hydrogen Line frequency of 1420 MHZ and uses a very sensitive radio receiver to detect extraterrestrial radio signals.
Stuart MacPherson, project leader in Electronic Engineering at the university, said he and his students were amazed when they realised the telescope had picked up a signal.
“We had made significant changes to the receiver to increase its sensitivity. When we went in that morning to check the data, we found that it had detected a source,” he said.”

It’s unlikely to be from an unnatural alien source but if you take in account that all the equipment was built by students on the campus of Durban Universit… that is just astonishing.

skyeyes

Source 1: http://www.thirdeyeconcept.com/forums/index.php?page=258
Source 2: http://indlebe.dut.ac.za/

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getting the iTunes library to move or programmatically access the library without iTunes

I am using iTunes as my main music player software for about 5 years now. In that time I had to move and restore my growing iTunes library more than 10 times. It can become quite a job to get it done properly so I came across this great howto article to help you and me out in the future:

“I see some discussion about fixing busted iTunes libraries, either when moving one on the same computer or migrating to a new one. Here’s what I have found works for me. Bonus: no slow AppleScripts or payments (donations cheerfully accepted and squandered).

First, what I have discovered about how iTunes manages music collections. There are two files it uses, one that is binary (ie, machine readable for faster performance on searching, sorting, add/edit/delete operations) and one that has the same information but in a human readable format (for a certain subset of humans who can read XML natively). The XML file is written from the binary file as a backup (check the dates to confirm).”

But that isn’t were it needs to stop. I had to do some more things with my iTunes library lately – like extracting all that ratings and exporting them into a new music player software I liked to test. I therefore wrote myself a little tool in C# that does the job of reading in the whole iTunes library and giving you programmatically access to that library. It only needs to have read access to the Mediathek.xml file iTunes stores in it’s music folder and you from there on can work your way through the bazillions of music tracks you may or may not have in your library. It even does the find-and-replace job a bit easier than the solution mentioned in the article above.

I release the code under the CC-Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 license and here is your download:

ReadiTunesMediathek.zip (11,82 KB)

This code is a simple example of how to use the XmlTextReader in C# and how to traverse through them. It should be easy to understand and easy to change. I would love to hear from you when and if it helped you.

xmltextreader

Source 1: iTunes library, fixing a broken one or moving one
Source 2: ReadiTunesMediathek.zip (11,82 KB)

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your office chair: right out of your race car

If you ever wanted to sit on a real fast office chair… you probably want to consider buying one of these:

rc128-2
built from a Lamborghini Diablo GT chair…

“Race Chairs brand office furniture is the perfect collection for the performance minded or motorsports obsessed individual. Our offerings are unique conversation pieces that give a subtle yet distinctive high tech atmosphere to any room.

Our chairs are made from the authentic high performance seats from exotic racecars such as Ferrari, Maserati, Lamborghini, and Porsche. From our unique connection to the motorsports world, we are able to acquire a unique and everchanging inventory. Our Carbonfiber desks are an industry first and our accessories collection and one-off motorsports memorabilia pieces truly complete the decor while acting as functional pieces in the room.”

It’s not cheap but it has style 🙂

Source: http://www.racechairs.com/default.asp

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Version 2 (final) of my Dropbox Tool

Some days ago I wrote about a 10 minute hack of a tool I always wanted to have – now I was using it quite often so I decided to upgrade it a bit – besides of the usual bugfixing I added these features:

  • unlimited filesize – if the file is >4 Megabyte it’ll split into smaller portions and uploaded one by one
  • Progressbar 🙂 When uploading severel hundred Mbytes you just want a progress indicator.
  • new Icon (curtesy of my wife – she did not like the old icon…)

dropboxv2

You can grab the source here.

Source 1: DropBox-v2.zip (92,77 KB)
Source 2: a selfmade web drop box in 10 minutes

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.NETAsm – inject native x86 code into your .NET apps

It may come in handy some time to have this functionality available. Unfortunatly it does not support 64 Bits – on which I am mainly developing now – but it’s cool:

NetAsmLogo

“NetAsm 1.0 is released. NetAsm provides a hook to the .NET JIT compiler and enables to inject your own native code in replacement of the default CLR JIT compilation. With this library, it is possible, at runtime, to inject x86 assembler code in CLR methods with the speed of a pure CLR method call and without the cost of Interop/PInvoke calls.”

  • Runs on x86 32bit Microsoft .NET platform with 2.0+ CLR runtime (x64 may be supported in the future).
  • Provides three different native code injection techniques: Static, DLL, and Dynamic.
    • Static code injection: The native code is stored in an attribute of the method.
    • Dll code injection : this method is similar to the DllImport mechanism but CLR methods are directly bind to the DLL function, without going through the interop layers.
    • Dynamic code injection: you can generate native code dynamically with a callback interface that is called by the JIT when compilation of a method is occurring. It means that you can compile a method “on the fly”. You have also access to the IL code of the method being compiled.
  • Supports for debugging static and dynamic code injection.
  • Supports for different calling conventions: StdCall, FastCall, ThisCall, Cdecl. Default calling convention is CLRCall.
  • NetAsm can be used inside any .NET language.
  • Very small library <100Ko.

Source: http://www.codeplex.com/netasm

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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 🙂

pc-va

“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… “

Source: http://reprap.org/bin/view/Main/WebHome

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Augmented Reality Game soon available (full source!)

You may have heard about Levelhead – an augmented reality game made by Julian Oliver – if you did not hear about it? No problem:

Augmented reality (AR) is a field of computer research which deals with the combination of real-world and computer-generated data. At present, most AR research is concerned with the use of live video imagery which is digitally processed and “augmented” by the addition of computer-generated graphics. Advanced research includes the use of motion-tracking data, fiducial marker recognition using machine vision, and the construction of controlled environments containing any number of sensors and actuators.”

So – Augmented reality mixes the reality and the computer graphics and creates a new reality for you. That’s a lot of theoretical…so let’s talk about Levelhead:

It’s a game where you have to move plastic cubes with printed-on patterns in front of a camera – the computer now renders a new world inside of the plastic cubes – when you move the cube, the world inside the cube moves too… it looks like this:

lh_4_med

“levelHead uses a hand-held solid-plastic cube as its only interface. On-screen it appears each face of the cube contains a little room, each of which are logically connected by doors.
In one of these rooms is a character. By tilting the cube the player directs this character from room to room in an effort to find the exit.

Some doors lead nowhere and will send the character back to the room they started in, a trick designed to challenge the player’s spatial memory. Which doors belong to which rooms?

There are three cubes (levels) in total, each of which are connected by a single door. Players have the goal of moving the character from room to room, cube to cube in an attempt to find the final exit door of all three cubes. If this door is found the character will appear to leave the cube, walk across the table surface and vanish.. The game then begins again.
Someone once said levelHead may have something to do with a story from Borges.. For a description of the conceptual basis of this project, see below. “

If you are not amazed now? You should watch this:

The thing is – this cool game and technology will be available at the end of this month as full open-source. I suggest to check Julians site back at the end of the month at last.

Source 1: Augmented Reality @ Wikipedia
Source 2: Levelhead homepage

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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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How much memory can you put into one giant x64 machine and actually use it?

The answer is: 2 Terabyte.

“You can see physical memory support licensing differentiation across the server SKUs for all versions of Windows. For example, the 32-bit version of Windows Server 2008 Standard supports only 4GB, while the 32-bit Windows Server 2008 Datacenter supports 64GB. Likewise, the 64-bit Windows Server 2008 Standard supports 32GB and the 64-bit Windows Server 2008 Datacenter can handle a whopping 2TB. There aren’t many 2TB systems out there, but the Windows Server Performance Team knows of a couple, including one they had in their lab at one point. Here’s a screenshot of Task Manager running on that system:”

image_thumb_1

P.S.: Thx boonkerz.

Source: http://blogs.technet.com/markrussinovich/archive/2008/07/21/3092070.aspx

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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.”

Source: http://www.ksmichel.de/?p=289

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How to turn an old notebook into a very stylish Arcade / MAME Cocktail Cabinet

You would need:

  1. an old yet powerful enough notebook to play MAME games
    300px-MAME
    MAME is an emulator application designed to recreate the hardware of arcade game systems in software, with the intent of preserving gaming history and preventing vintage games from being lost or forgotten. The name is an acronym for Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator.”
  2. an IKEA RAMVIK sideboard
  3. go to the homepage of the project to get the details how to build it 🙂

IMG_0599_2

Source 1: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MAME
Source 3: http://www.ikea.com
Source 2: http://mamebook.blogspot.com/

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If Windows XP updates fail more than one time…

… like on two of my machines – try this:

regsvr32 wuapi.dll
regsvr32 wuaueng.dll
regsvr32 wuaueng1.dll
regsvr32 wucltui.dll
regsvr32 wups.dll
regsvr32 wups2.dll
regsvr32 wuweb.dll

– At least on my machine it now installed the updates flawlessly.

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When you’re in need of a good whiteboard… use Wii controllers + homebrew

Oh yeah. I talked about these kinds of electronic whiteboards for years – and now it seems that there is a cheap and really useful DIY solution created by Johnny Chung Lee(beside several other really useful and astounding DIY jobs)

“Since the Wiimote can track sources of infrared (IR) light, you can track pens that have an IR led in the tip. By pointing a wiimote at a projection screen or LCD display, you can create very low-cost interactive whiteboards or tablet displays. Since the Wiimote can track upto 4 points, up to 4 pens can be used. It also works great with rear-projected displays.”

So you need:

  • a Wiimote
  • a selfmade Infrared-LED Pen that marks the trackable point

So namenlos (his blog) did his version of the Wii whiteboard and made a video of it:


Video: Wii Whiteboard

(due to music the license of this video is CC-BY-NC-SA)

Really impressive isn’t it? And you can do so much more with this Wiimote stuff. – Actually I am planning to get such a Wiimote and a Pen and try it myself.

Source 1: http://www.cs.cmu.edu/~johnny/projects/wii/
Source 2: http://blog.slash-me.net/archives/268-Wii-Whiteboard.html

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german Citizens’ band radio over the internet…Freies Funknetz!

The internet makes things possible some people dreamt of for years. One of these things is the possibility to stream live-voice-chat over the internet. Many people used the citizens’ band radio – CB radio – for the last decades:

Citizens’ Band radio (CB) is, in many countries, a system of short-distance, simplex[1] radio communications between individuals on a selection of 40 channels within the 27 MHz (11 meter) band. The CB radio service should not be confused with FRS, GMRS, MURS, or amateur (“ham”) radio. Similar personal radio services exist in other countries, with varying requirements for licensing and differing technical standards. In many countries, CB does not require a license and, unlike amateur radio, it may be used for business as well as personal communications.”

For several years now there is a group of people from virtually everywhere in germany who connect their CB radios to the internet – they link their “gateways” together using a software normally used by online gamers called “TeamSpeak”. All you have to do to take a look is to read this short how-to and follow the steps.

Here’s a sneak-peak at the current status of the server:

There’s even a livestream available (but sometimes not working):

Source 1: http://www.freiesfunknetz.com/
Source 2: http://www.goteamspeak.com/

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CHDK – the alternative firmware for many Canon Digital Cameras

“CHDK is a firmware enhancement that operates on a number of Canon Cameras. CHDK gets loaded into your camera’s memory upon bootup (either manually or automatically). It provides additional functionality beyond that currently provided by the native camera firmware.

CHDK is not a permanent firmware upgrade: you decide how it is loaded (manually or automatically) and you can always easily remove it.”

chdk

Main features:

  • Save images in RAW format
  • Ability to run “Scripts” to automate the camera
  • Live histogram (RGB, blended, luminance and for each RGB channel)
  • Zebra mode (blinking highlights and shadows to show over/under exposed areas)
  • An “always on” full range Battery indicator
  • Ability to turn off automatic dark-frame subtraction
  • a higher compression movie mode, and double the maximum video file size
  • exposure times as long as 65 seconds
  • exposure times as little as 1/10,000 of a second
  • ability to use the USB port for a remote trigger input

Additional features:

  • a depth-of-field (DOF)-calculator
  • File browser
  • Text reader
  • Calendar
  • Some fun tools and games

Source: http://chdk.wikia.com/wiki/CHDK_in_Brief

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SPAM-Bots can decrypt Captchas… ups…

If you thought that those fancy Captchas would serve their purpose of SPAM prevention forever you might want to think again.

From Wikipedia:

“A CAPTCHA (IPA: /ˈkæptʃə/) is a type of challenge-response test used in computing to determine that the user is not run by a computer. The process involves one computer (a server) asking a user to complete a simple test which the computer is able to generate and grade. Because other computers are unable to solve the CAPTCHA, any user entering a correct solution is presumed to be human. A common type of CAPTCHA requires that the user type the letters of a distorted image, sometimes with the addition of an obscured sequence of letters or digits that appears on the screen.”

It usually looks something like that:

Captcha

Now the news:

“Websense Security Labs ThreatSeeker™ technology has discovered that spammers in their recent tactics have drawn their attention towards traditional and infamous Hotmail, aka Live Hotmail services after the streamlined Live Mail Anti-CAPTCHA operations. Spammers have managed to create automated bots that are capable of not only signing up and creating random Hotmail accounts, but also use these accounts for spamming purposes from a proper Live Hotmail service.”

hotmailcatpcha-1.7[1]

Source 1: http://securitylabs.websense.com/content/Blogs/3063.aspx#
Source 2: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CAPTCHA

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Dr. Pepper supply refilled

Hurray! The next Dr. Pepper delivery arrived this morning from our friends at Lifestylefood. Great stuff and the delivery was just in time. 48 cans … that’ll take us… uhh… 2-3 weeks… probably less :-/

IMG_0300

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Best Boss

This morning I stumbled into the refurbished offices at Microsoft Research Cambridge heading for a week full of code work: Obviously it seems as our boss over here really takes care of us.

IMG_0084

Yeah, and of course you get all the unhealthy things real coders do need to stay night after night awake. 

IMG_0085

Happy coding!

(Crosspost from blog.aheil.de)

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when you think you’re invulnerable by using Amazon services

Oh last year I worked with many different companies that thought that the best thing they could do to increase their availability is to outsource their complete webserver and storage infrastructure to Amazon.

Now last week there was this 2 hour black out of parts of the Amazon S3 infrastructure which should have this “wake up call” effect for most of those hype-believers.

S3 is great for all sorts of applications but you – like in everything IT – really shouldn’t depend on just one service provider.

Source: http://www.amazon.com/gp/browse.html?node=3435361

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encrypting your world

One of the great good news in the last few days was the release of the brand new TrueCrypt 5 crypto-software.

I am using TrueCrypt for years now getting little and not so little container files mounted as drives and having the data warm and cosy encrypted on disk.

The long awaited features that were added in the brand new version are complete system – pre-boot authentification – drive encryption and OS X support.

Especially the system drive encryption is of particular interest for me. It’s a straight forward and completely painless solution to encrypt your complete machine and use it as if nothing was done at all.

The workflow is like this:

  1. Install TrueCrypt 5
  2. Fire up the TrueCrypt Volume Creation Wizard
  3. Select “Encrypt system drive” option
  4. It will do a test-run to make sure your machine can boot with the TrueCrypt Pre-Boot Authentification
  5. if everything worked out, TrueCrypt starts to encrypt your drive…
    truecrypt_drive

After that you’re set. On my brand-new machine the speed does not decrease noticeable – Even on my 4 year old machine I wouldn’t say that there is a slow-down at all.

Source: http://www.truecrypt.org

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You did notice that Xbox Media Center has a new homepage?

If you are – just like me – still using the very good and always updated Xbox Media Center for your slightly hacked XBOX 1 console you should take a look at the new XBMC.org website:

xbmcorg

Not only that these guys a making a great job creating the best Media Center that I’ve ever was allowed to use, they are even porting it to different platforms:

“It’s currently being ported to both Linux (x86 Ubuntu 32bit) and Mac OS X. Team XBMC is looking for talented developers to help with this effort.

Official XBMC software application names:

  • XBMC for Mac OS X
  • XBMC for Linux
  • XBMC for Xbox “

That means: If you have a OS X or Linux box, you should visit the site too and take a look at the (early) snapshots of XBMC for your platform.

 

Source: http://www.xbmc.org

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Schrankmonster intern – USA

Von Zeit zu Zeit ist es von Interesse, zu erfahren, wie es um die eigene Webseite im Internet steht. Für einfache Statistiken gibt es entsprechende Log-Tools, die die Anzahl der Zugriffe über einen bestimmten Zeitraum messen, den verwendeten Browser und die Seite, von der der Zugriff erfolgte, anzeigen usw.

Mittlerweile gibt es aber auch Dienstleistungen, die sich auf qualitative Analysen spezialisieren, zumeist auf die Frage: Wer ist der Nutzer und wie kann man ihn möglichst interessengenau mit Werbung zupflastern? Etwas, was im Bereich des Online-Marketings sehr wichtig ist und natürlich Geld kostet (aber nicht muss).

Ein kostenloser Anbieter ist die Webseite www.quantcast.com. Eine Überprüfung für Schrankmonster.de ergab folgende Analyse über den typischen US-Nutzer:

Er ist

– männlich,

– weiß,

– zwischen 35 und 44 Jahre alt,

– verdient zwischen 30.000$ und 60.000$ im Jahr,

– hat zumindest einen College-Abschluss

– und keine Kinder zwischen 6 und 17 zu versorgen.

Darüber hinaus noch einige weitere Angaben:

– die Seite erreicht durchschnittlich 6.583 Nutzer im Monat,

– überdurchschnittlich viele Geringverdiener

– überdurchschnittlich viele Menschen, die weder weiß, schwarz, asiatisch noch Latinos sind (Wer bleibt da eigentlich übrig?)

– überdurchschnittlich viele ältere Menschen ab 65

 

Die Genauigkeit dieser Messungen muss natürlich stark (und zu Recht) bezweifelt werden. Die Ergebnisse wurden aufgrund weniger auswertbarer Nutzer aufgestellt und hochgerechnet. Dadurch entstehen selbstverständlich eingeschränkt repräsentative Zahlen. Aber immerhin…

Quelle: http://www.quantcast.com/schrankmonster.de/demographics

Jens Heymann

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uhh… me wants that coffee table…

FeM is in need of one… for more than two years now… maybe this will do the job? It’s bright, nerdy and cat-compatible (needed for keeping certain Mr. S’s out of the office)

Source: http://www.evilmadscientist.com/article.php/tablekits

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Beware of the serial (port) killer

Uhh it seems that someone got hold of a power cord … and did a bad bad thing:

IMG_7858

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When things seem to take forever…

I just started the formating of a 3 Tbyte truecrypt volume which is located on a Promise Vtrak m500i connected via 1 Gbit/s iSCSI…

when_things_seem_to-take_forever

This is some serious big truecrypt volume, isn’t it? (at least today it is…)

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Using the Exchange 2007 Web Service for Mail retrieval…

exchange07

So here’s the problem I had: There is an Exchange 2007 server I am forced to use for some of my daily work and that’s where the problems start: Due to the work of some evil geniuses there’s a load of user and security policies associated with that server. That’s not a problem per se: It’s just that things like “forward all mails to this account” don’t work. You have to use Outlook Web Access or the heavyweight Outlook to get to your mails… Till today I had an Outlook 2007 running on my private IMAP mailserver machine just for the purpose of downloading all the mail from the Exchange server to the local harddisk. I had setup a client-rule to copy all the mail to my IMAP server but despite the fact Outlook is running on the exact same machine as the IMAP server it just did not work for more than 1-20 messages… connections were lost and stuff screwed up. So I had to move all the messages manually (Select-All -> Drag-n-Drop onto the IMAP folder inside Outlook) which took me quite some time each month.

Two days ago I read an article where namenlos wrote about his journey with his employers Exchange server. He wrote a Python script that did the job for Exchange 2003 by using the WebDAV features. These features unfortunatly are deprecated in the current 2007 release of Exchange. So I decided to write a tool in C# that does the trick and uses the brand-spanking new Exchange 2007 Web Service.

The Exchange 2007 SDK is a wasteland to say the least when it comes to documentation. It took me some time and a good search engine to get to something useful out of it. But I think it’s worth the pain: When you got over the first annoying steps you’ll just like me will start to love the possibilities this Web Services give you.

In my case I am using the webservices to do these things:

  1. allocate my inbox and obtain a listing of messageIDs
  2. get the complete messages out of my inbox
  3. reformat the messages and send them via smtp to my own mail server

What I’ve written is not feature complete (as in: no attachements, …) but it’s a great and working start and does the 3 point-trick from above quite well. I will refine the code and add the missing features (e.g. attachements and stuff) in the future… or maybe you are faster than me. In that case it would be well appreciated if you send me your code/a link to the code (find my email in the sourcefile…)

code
get the code here. (90 kbytes)

Source 1: http://blog.slash-me.net/archives/235-fetchmail-fuer-MS-Exchange.html
Source 2: http://msdn2.microsoft.com/en-us/library/aa562613.aspx
Source 3: http://www.schrankmonster.de/content/binary/Exchange2IMAP.zip

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