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:

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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…

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but hey, the other flavors colors… well…

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

Visual Studio 2010 and .NET Framework 4.0 CTP available

Unexpected news: Obiously the first CTP of the upcoming Visual Studio 2010 and .NET Framework 4.0 is available for download.

“Welcome to the Visual Studio 2010 and .NET Framework 4.0 Community Technology Preview Feedback page! You can now get an early look at the new features we are working on for the next release by downloading the CTP from the Download Center. The CTP release is available in English only as a Virtual PC image.”

2010

Source: http://connect.microsoft.com/VisualStudio/content/content.aspx?ContentID=9790

Microsoft Small Basic – a learning by doing programming environment

Microsoft just released a small tool with the name “Small Basic”. It’s a all-in-one programming environment for beginners:

smallbasic

“Small Basic is a project that’s aimed at bringing “fun” back to programming. By providing a small and easy to learn programming language in a friendly and inviting development environment, Small Basic makes programming a breeze. Ideal for kids and adults alike, Small Basic helps beginners take the first step into the wonderful world of programming.”

Source: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/devlabs/cc950524.aspx

elastic windows

Amazon has done it’s thing and you can now order Windows based machinery based on EC2. That’s great news for us since we’re definitly planning to make our software also available on EC2.

“Amazon EC2 running Microsoft Windows Server® 2003 is a fast and dependable environment for deploying applications using the Microsoft Web Platform, including ASP.NET, ASP.NET AJAX, Silverlight™, and Internet Information Server (IIS). Amazon EC2 enables you to run any compatible Windows-based solution on AWS’ high-performance, reliable, cost-effective, cloud computing platform. Common Windows use cases include website and web-service hosting, high-performance computing (HPC) and data processing, media transcoding, distributed testing, ASP.NET application hosting, and any other application requiring Windows software. Amazon EC2 also now supports the SQL Server® Express and SQL Server Standard databases, and makes those offerings available to customers on an hourly basis.”

Source: http://aws.amazon.com/windows/

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:

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the computer side of the interface

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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

How to create an m4b iTunes compatible audiobook from a cd

Let’s say you’re like me: You got several audiobooks on CD over the years and you even ripped several of these to listen to them in your MP3 player/car.

So what I have is a number of audiobooks ripped as mp3s on my harddisk looking something like this:

crnan1

If you only have the CD what you would like to do is rip the whole CD as ONE large m4a AAC encoded audiofile. We need it to be an m4a because we later want to inject chapter marks. If you have this big AAC file just skip the next few steps. But if you got those several small mp3 files – one for each chapter you want to merge them together and reencode them as m4a AAC.

There is a great free tool to merge these mp3 files together. It’s called (who would have thought) Merge MP3 and is available completely for free. It’ll create one big mp3 file out of your several small ones.

mergemp3nan

After you got that huge mp3 file you want to convert it into a m4a file with AAC encoding. I recommend using iTunes.

itunesconvertnan

When you got that one huge m4a file you want to load it into a tool called Chapter Master. It’s not free and will set you back $15 but it’s worth as I did not find anything else that was a) that cheap b) that comfortable c) working.

chaptermasternan

Load the m4a file into Chapter Master, add the chapters in the right order and at the right time. Eventually you want to add an album art picture. Click save and you’re done.

The resulting file is a m4b file recognized by iTunes as an audiobook with chapters.

Source 1: http://www.shchuka.com/software/mergemp3
Source 2: http://www.rightword.com.au/products/chaptermaster/download.asp

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:

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and in the dark at the house entrance:

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Source: Kürbisfest Altendorf at dreikiel.de

Mono 2.0 released!!

“Mono 2.0 is a portable and open source implementation of the .NET framework for Unix, Windows, MacOS and other operating systems.”

  • Compiler
    • C# 3.0 compiler implementation, with full support for LINQ.
    • Visual Basic 8 compiler.
    • IL assembler and disassembler and the development toolchain required to create libraries and applications.
  • API
    • ADO.NET 2.0 API for accessing databases.
    • ASP.NET 2.0 API for developing Web-based applications.
    • Windows.Forms 2.0 API to create desktop applications.
    • System.XML 2.0: An API to manipulate XML documents.
    • System.Core: Provides support for the Language Integrated Query (LINQ).
    • System.Xml.Linq: Provides a LINQ provider for XML.
    • System.Drawing 2.0 API: A portable graphics rendering API.

mono2

Source: http://www.mono-project.com/Main_Page

the Hyper-V Server 2008 is available… for free…

I virtualization heaven! I am currently using VMWare Server on most of the machines I am doing virtualization on – but the fact that the Microsoft Hypervisor “Hyper-V” is available for free now is really cool:

“Microsoft Hyper-V Server 2008, a bare metal hypervisor-based server virtualization product, is now available as a no-cost Web download at http://www.microsoft.com/Hyper-VServer. Microsoft Hyper-V Server 2008 provides a simplified, reliable and optimized virtualization solution for customers to consolidate Windows or Linux workloads onto a single physical server or to run client operating systems and applications in server-based virtual machines in the data center. Microsoft Hyper-V Server 2008 allows customers to leverage their existing provisioning, updating, management and support tools, processes and skills.”

hypervsetup1

Source: http://hypervoria.com/

HandBrake is now a full blown video converter…

Turns out that a new snapshot (unofficial) version of my favourite DVD to iPod Converter is available. With the new version came new features like the one that allows me now to convert almost anything to wonderful iPod compatible movie files.

handbrake093

“HandBrake is an open-source, GPL-licensed, multiplatform, multithreaded DVD to MPEG-4 converter, available for MacOS X, Linux and Windows.”

I tried anything in my library, including some matroska movie files. Just everything worked – amazing!

Source: http://handbrake.fr/?article=snapshot

SpaceX’ Falcon 1 reaches orbit

On September 28th the Falcon 1 rocketship reached orbit:

orbital2

“In an era when most technology based products follow a path of ever-increasing capability and
reliability while simultaneously reducing costs, launch vehicles today are little changed from those of
40 years ago. SpaceX aims to change this paradigm by developing a family of launch vehicles and
spacecraft which will ultimately increase the reliability and reduce the cost of space access by a factor
of ten. Coupled with the emerging market for private and commercial space transport, this new model
will re-ignite humanity’s efforts to explore and develop space.”

faclon1

Source: http://www.spacex.com/webcast.php

Charlotte Roche wieder im TV

Diesmal ist 3sat eine zeitweilige Heimat für Charlotte Roche. In der dort ab 1. Oktober startenden Reihe “Charlotte Roche unter…” wird sie Müllmänner, Bestatter, Altenpfleger in ihrem Alltag besuchen:

“Dabei probt Charlotte Roche nach eigenen Angaben den “charmanten Aufeinanderprall“. Ohne Drehbuch, ohne Absprachen, ganz spontan lässt sie sich auf Berufswelten und Menschen ein. “Ich versuche nicht, irgendeine verborgene Wahrheit ans Licht zu zerren. Es geht darum, was wir gemeinsam erleben.“ Und der Zuschauer lernt mit.”

charlotteunterbestatter

Dankenswerterweise gibt es die kompletter Serie schon im Internet zu schauen – hochinteressante Sache das und meiner Meinung nach seit langem das beste Projekt von Charlotte.

P.S.: vielen Dank an Martin von Zwobotgeist für den Hinweis.

Source: 3sat

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/

freebie day? Another Vista Ultimate game is available…

It seems that today it’s the freebie day (well… for some of us). Because today the next Windows Vista Ultimate Extra is available: Tinker.

Tinker – to shorten up things – is a Sokoban interpretation with some interesting twists.

tinker_update

“Being a small robot isn’t always easy. Being a small robot marooned in a surreal world of clockwork, obscure mechanisms and infuriating puzzles, even less so. In Tinker, a puzzle game that pushes the boundaries of robot frustration, you’ll guide your robot through switches, lasers, teleporters, and a host of other contraptions to reach the exit. He’ll only do what you command. He’ll only go where you tell him to. Will you lead him home, or will you doom him to eternal confusion?

Featuring captivating visuals, an original music score, and 60 levels that range from the facile to the infuriating, Tinker is an isometric, two-dimensional puzzler published exclusively as an Ultimate Extra for Windows Vista Ultimate Users. Tinker features tutorial level, and will include regularly released level packs to expand the experience. Want even more? Download the level builder, and create masterworks of ingenuity to keep your friends scratching their heads. What are you waiting for? Start Tinkering.”

tinkergame

It’s good looking, fun, the music is great and it’s free…

And it’s got it’s own Level Editor:

tinkereditor

Source: http://www.fuelgames.com/

create panoramic images with a free tool

There was the Digital Image Suite and several other tools like Hugin and Cool360 which I used over the last years to create panoramic images. Now there’s a new tool available in 32 and 64 bit (for really really huge images!) from Microsoft Research. It’s free at this point and if you’re on Windows it’s definitely worth the try.

msice

“Microsoft Image Composite Editor is an advanced panoramic image stitcher. You shoot a set of overlapping photographs of a scene from a single location, and Image Composite Editor creates a high-resolution panorama incorporating all your images at full resolution. Then save your stitched panorama in a wide variety of formats, from common formats like JPEG and TIFF to multi-resolution tiled formats like HD View and Silverlight Deep Zoom.”

Source: http://research.microsoft.com/ivm/ice.html