how Google Map/Earth works…

I want to share with you a fantastic page where Pascal Buire discusses his investigations on Google Earths tiling and algorithms:

“This is my analyse about how google map works, et specially how the tiles are encoded. Google map uses pre-rendered tiles that can be obtained with a simple url. This article explains how to build the url for a tile from its geo coordinates (latitude/longitude)”

Google Earth mirroring anyone?


23C3: Who can you trust?

It starts fairly early this year: even FeM is already preparing and planning for this years live streaming and recording. The public wiki of 23c3 is online and even the Call for Participation screams: visit me!

So, remember: beside the official wiki pages, you can always come and check here for information about FeM activities on 23c3…(streaming, recording,…)


Source: FeM 23c3 recording and streaming project (no website, no link)

spot the IIS…the space station not the web server…

“A number of amateur astronomers and Space Station enthusiasts regularly take photos as ISS rises above the horizon in westerly direction and sets towards the East. In response to a recent article on this website, you sent us some of your ISS images. A selection of your photos is presented below.”


future case modding trend?

Wait until the case modding scene finds out about that… color changing heatsinks…omg!

“Eclipse is a single event heat reactive basecoat that changes from Black to White or from Blue to White. Eclipse can be sprayed through any standard paint equipment.”


cracking galileo positioning system and talking about it…

The americans managed to crack…well they call it different but the fact remains that they cracked the PRN codes of the european global non-military positioning system called “Galileo

“Because GPS satellites, which were put into orbit by the Department of Defense, are funded by U.S. taxpayers, the signal is free — consumers need only purchase a receiver. Galileo, on the other hand, must make money to reimburse its investors — presumably by charging a fee for PRN codes.”

Source 1:

Source 2:

Imagining the tenth dimension

“The “theory of reality” that I advance on this website and in the book “Imagining the Tenth Dimension” is not the one that is commonly accepted by today’s physicists. Anyone wanting to know more about the currently established thinking behind string theory and the tenth or eleventh dimension should refer to such excellent books as “Parallel Worlds” by Michio Kaku, “The Fabric of the Cosmos” by Brian Greene, or “Warped Passages” by Lisa Randall.

I invite you to think of this as an entertaining diversion that for some people will have a strong and thought-provoking connection to their impression of how the world really works. If you click on “The Forum”, you will be taken to a page that gives readers an opportunity to debate the concepts presented in the book and this website more fully. Enjoy!”


[UPDATE] nature…experimenting with HDR

UPDATE: I added the full resolution versions of the HDR pictures.

During FIWAK I had the chance to play a bit with a Canon EOS 20D. It’s proper DSLR and you can do many great things with it. All the pictures below where done without a tripod. As you can see there are a few ghost pictures but less than I expected in that mode. Nevertheless my Canon PowerShot A400 is better for panoramic views – the EOS is way to big and heavy, you surely need a tripod to do proper panoramic views whereas you can do quite good panoramic views with the A400 without a tripod.

discovering the “Wizard Wizard”: Canopus ProCoder 2

A couple of months ago we got us a Canopus ProCoder 2.0 educational version. Because we, well had to convert a shitload of MPEG2 and DV movies into several different formats. And because Canopus is telling us that their product is by far the best you could probably get on this planet, we were in.

There is a free demo version available which does not require the red glowing, blue plastic HASP hardware USB dongle key’i thing we got with the full version. Those kind of dongle stuff is really nasty. First of all it bugs you right after you got your Windows started up with an error message, just because you probably haven’t plugged the dongle in. The point here is though: Why checking this at the system start, why not when ProCoder 2.0 is started. And heck! Why a dongle key’i thingy anyways?

ProCoder 2.0 has a neat little feature, the only feature why I would use ProCoder personally, which is called “Watch Folders”. You take a ProCoder 2.0, set it up to watch a folder on a network storage or anywhere you like, and after you setup’d some target movie formats it’ll start to convert everything that appears in those Watch Folders and transcodes it to whatever you configured as a target. Great feature!

But here comes the dongle right back in: You need to go to the server room, find your powerful number crunching server park and stick the… well dongle… into… great. After you recovered from the headache and tinnitus (dramatisation!) you got your ProCoder “server” up and running. The point here is: Why all that fuss with that dongle usb stuff. What’s wrong with serial numbers which are necessary anyway for ProCoder 2.0? Piracy can’t be the answer here. Maybe they want to pretend that it’s worth even a dongle, like AutoCad was back when we called our operating systems DOS.

So back to the Canopus ProCoder 2.0 test: After the setup it comes in two different flavours: The fast and the furious, called “Canopus ProCoder 2.0 Wizard” and the all-inklusive one, called…you get the idea.

So first of all let’s cover the Wizard because the workflow of the Wizard is likely the same as in the ProCoder 2.0.

Step 1: Welcome dude!

oh there it is…Watch Folder!… but we want to convert a single file…

Step 2: Load a Source

I used the current Halo 3 Trailer for demonstration…it’s a WMV HD.

Step 3: Set Source In and Out Point

You can specify where the movie starts and where it ends. So you have some kind of cut-editing capability…well not really. I flinch from calling it cut-editing actually.

Step 4: Advanced Settings

Well Canopus things that Crop-Settings are advanced. But hey, there is a “Select Settings” button which opens a dialog where you can specify alternat audio, specific aspect ratio and so on. Nothing to yell about there.

Step 5: the fantastic and well thought of… ProCoder 2 Wizard Wizard (!!!1!)

Why hasn’t anybody else thought of this before? Use a wizard for the wizard. A master to teach the apprentice. A … oh well, it’s nothing special really. Because if you choose to use it just another dialog box comes up:

Step 6: Select Target

Tricky decision here. We want it HD!

Step 7: a question of format.

[don’t forget to put some text here]…

Step 8: High Definition Format…

Again the very tricky format decision. Rather than recommending a format you have to choose. I did not try what’s going to happen when my source has 29,97 fps and I select 25 fps here (or the other way around). Canopus says ProCoder can do a 3:2 pulldown. Great…

Step 9: Saving your file

Save the day.

Step 10: Job Summary

In the end the wizard sums everything up and you can press some more advanced output setting buttons. And if you’re done, you click “Convert”, finally.

Step 11:

And the evil boffins in your number crunching server park are starting to convert your source movie into whatever target you selected. If it doesn’t do this. Well you will never know why it didn’t do it. Because Canopus choosed to not use any error messages or logging. You can be lucky if you get a dialog box telling you that it just won’t do it. In 9 out of 10 cases it just wasn’t telling anything.

It’s not particularly slow. In fact, if you just transcode something and you’re not using any additional filtering it’s as fast as any other transcoding tool (which come sometimes without dongles, you might have heard that).

So that’s quite everything what’s to be told about the Canopus ProCoder Wizard. Finally let’s take a look at the one feature I love: Watch Folders.

So let’s fire up the ProCoder 2 (watch out to have the dongle plugged in!):

I just want to say something about the GUI of ProCoder 2. About GUI design in general. And I want to start with a simple question: What is wrong with standard system controls?

Why are many software companies are writing their own scrollbards, buttons, dialogboxes, tabs. Why can’t they just use the system wide available ones? The ones that actually work. The ones that draw correct on any machine. The ones that I’ve never seen blinking or be drawn incorrect. In case of Canopus ProCoder 2.0 the custom-made scrollbars sometimes even disappeared and you could see that they where just drawn above the system scrollbars. You software companies. If you take an advice from me: stick to doing the user software and leave the multi-purpose GUI elements to the operating system.

Back to ProCoder 2 and to the precious Watch-Folders. If you click on the “Watch” button you get this dialog box:

Nothing really to write more about than: Everything is intuitive and works out of the box. Select a folder. Select a target. And you’re done. It just works as promised. And if you’re in luck and your movies are in a format that ProCoder 2.0 can read without hassle it even will work with your movies.

The target in this case, if you are curious, is a pre-configured format specification. You can use the wide variety of available pre-configured targets, or you can configure your own. (this is quite tricky and not so intuitive)

Since there’s nothing to complain about the pre-configured formats you are certainly not going to have much fun setting up very very custom things. Like the time when I wanted to just setup my own MPEG-4 target. Which isn’t that easy because when you select the MPEG format you only can choose from MPEG-1/2 formats. Or the other time when I wanted to do it in H.264. That format is available, but you have to find it. It’s deeply burried into the third dialog-layer.

In the end you get quite a good transcoding application with this neat Watch-Folder feature. You also get an awfully rubbish GUI with no error messages at all. If something goes wrong you’ll never know why.

In our case everything went fine and in only one case in my testing I found something that the Windows DirectShow could decode but ProCoder 2.0 could not. I really recommend it for video encoding servers. It’s one of it’s kind when it comes to that discipline and the money is well spend.


High Dynamic Range Imaging… my first steps…

I don’t own a 600 Euro digital camera. Mine was cheap and does the job well so far. And now I’ve found something more to play with. I like to do panoramic views, as you might have mentioned before. But the technique I am now discovering is far more interesting. It’s called High Dynamic Range imaging.

Here’s an excerpt of the wikipedia article on that subject:

In computer graphics and cinematography, high dynamic range imaging (HDRI for short) is a set of techniques that allow a far greater dynamic range of exposures than normal digital imaging techniques. The intention is to accurately represent the wide range of intensity levels found in real scenes, ranging from direct sunlight to the deepest shadows.”

Since it’s night here at the moment I could only experiment in the dark, where my camera creates, beside dark pictures, very much picture noise.

So, what to do, you may ask. Well grab a camera where you can control at least the exposure time. Than take at least 2 (the more the better) pictures with different exposure times. I started with 3 pictures per HDR image. As you can see above:

When you have those pictures you need a software to combine them to an HDR image. There are many sites that can provide such tools, I recommend They provide a tool called “Photomatix” which is specialized on HDR imaging. If you have a Photoshop CS2 available, well, that will do the job as well. Just go to the “File->Automate->Create HDR” dialog.

If you downloaded the tools, throw the pictures inside and let the magic happen. You get a 16 or 32 Bit per pixel image. You can control the exposure and saturation, the white and the black levels and so on. To save the picture as a standard-JPG like I did, you have to do some Tone-Mapping. Photomatix can do that as well.

Expect more on that subject here tomorrow. Then with some pictures of the sunny nature…well if there is sun tomorrow…Till than: Enjoy the HDR images I’ve got so far:

First the 3 source pictures:

And then the HDRI:

First the 3 source pictures:

And then the HDRI:

Source 1:

Source 2:

Persistence of Vision is not only a raytracer…

Yesterday I wrote about the bike mounted POV display. And today? Well. It’s a real huge display:

“Spin uses Persistence of Vision to create the illusion of a cylindrical
digital display (computer screen), 12 feet tall and 12 feet in diameter. Vertical
columns of multi-color LED (light emitting diode) clusters spin around a vertical
axis at 90 revolutions per minute. At a radius of 6 feet, they move at 41 miles
per hour. 2880 LEDs are turned on and off by a computer in precise synchronization
with the rotation of the columns, creating the illusion of a cylindrical digital
display. Spin has a vertical resolution of 16 pixels (picture elements), each
of which can display one of 8 colors. As horizontal position is determined by
time in Spin, the horizontal resolution is theoretically infinite, but for the
sake of data manipulation efficiency it is be limited to 360 pixels all the
way around the cylinder.”

IIS6 and Apache syscall graph

SanaSecurity created these two graphics:

Apache syscall graph

IIS6 syscal graph

What’s this? You may ask…it’s an API dependency graph of the current Apache webserver and the current IIS webserver.

As some people try to interpret those graphics to the favor of their loved one. I cannot see anything discussable about these graphics, so I leave it to you to just enjoy them as they look quite nice :-)


new holographic display technology…

Wow this looks awesome compared to any holographic display technology I could take a look on to this date. Now I do know what 50 Gbytes of storage space could be useful for…

“Invented by Tibor Balogh, these flat panel “holo TVs” are capable of displaying images in 3-D — or so it seems.”


the quiet revolution

“An elegant vertical-axis wind turbine, quietrevolution has been designed and developed by XCO2, an established low-carbon energy consultancy and engineering practice.

Virtually silent and vibration free, quietrevolution is ideally suited to both urban sites and exposed locations.

The simple and robust design (patent pending) has just one moving part, maximising reliability and minimising maintenance requirements.”

Vertical-axis wind turbines not only look very sci-fi, but when you add LEDs to the border of the turbine you can use them as a display:

So I leave you with a patent pending revolution which produces power and is virtually silent…whatever that means.


setting up the 6509-ng

So our test-drive 6509 is setup-and-going in the local junk server room. As you can see the room is obviously used for two different purposes. On the one hand it’s a windowless central network service point…and on the other it’s… oh dear…take a look for yourself:

When you come closer…you see…:

TWO 6509!!!!..
an old one(in the rack) and the new one (on the ground)

And to raise some pulses -a module listing:

c6509-ng#sh module
Mod Ports Card Type Model Serial No.
— —– ————————————– —————— ———–
3 48 CEF720 48 port 10/100/1000mb Ethernet WS-X6748-GE-TX xxxxxxxxxxx
4 24 CEF720 24 port 1000mb SFP WS-X6724-SFP xxxxxxxxxxx
5 2 Supervisor Engine 720 (Active) WS-SUP720-3B xxxxxxxxxxx
7 6 Firewall Module WS-SVC-FWM-1 xxxxxxxxxxx

Mod MAC addresses Hw Fw Sw Status
— ———————————- —— ———— ———— ——-
3 0000.0000.0000 to 0000.0000.0000 1.0 12.2(14r)S5 12.2(18)SXD7 Ok
4 0000.0000.0000 to 0000.0000.0000 2.3 12.2(14r)S5 12.2(18)SXD7 Ok
5 0000.0000.0000 to 0000.0000.0000 4.4 8.1(3) 12.2(18)SXD7 Ok
7 0000.0000.0000 to 0000.0000.0000 3.0 7.2(1) 2.3(4) Ok

Mod Sub-Module Model Serial Hw Status
— ————————— —————— ———— ——- ——-
3 Centralized Forwarding Card WS-F6700-CFC xxxxxxxxxxx 2.0 Ok
4 Centralized Forwarding Card WS-F6700-CFC xxxxxxxxxxx 2.0 Ok
5 Policy Feature Card 3 WS-F6K-PFC3B xxxxxxxxxxx 2.1 Ok
5 MSFC3 Daughterboard WS-SUP720 xxxxxxxxxxx 2.3 Ok

Oh…something that raised our pulses… a 6513 in one of the other Network Service Points…yummi:

At the moment the ahzf and cosrahn are playing with the machine…so more stuff is definitly to come soon.

Goodbye 6bone…

As of today the 6bone IPv6 testbed is phased out…

The 6bone was established in 1996 by the IETF as an IPv6 Testbed network to enable various IPv6 testing as well as to assist in the transitioning of IPv6 into the Internet. It operates under the IPv6 address allocation 3FFE::/16 from RFC 2471. As IPv6 is beginning its production deployment it is appropriate to plan for the phaseout of the 6bone. This document establishes a plan for a multi-year phaseout of the 6bone and its address allocation on the assumption that the IETF is the appropriate place to determine this.”


things have to change…

Schrankmonster is powered by a 4-way XEON 2.8 Ghz machine with 2 GB RAM running Windows Server 2003 and dasBlog blog-engine. And believe it or not: dasBlog actually utilizes all 4 CPUs completely at peak times.

Much of this is led by the fact that dasBlog was built for much smaller weblogs (not that schrankmonster is big…). And for MUCH less traffic. When you load the front page of schrankmonster you instantly notice the lag between typing the URL+pressing enter and the completely loaded page showing on your screen.

dasBlog does not use any database server. Instead it uses XML files. Two for each day of the year. And well. It parses them very often…

Very much to my pleasure the traffic on schrankmonster is raising each month. And that means: slower page load times… It became more and more unacceptable in the last weeks.

Beefing up the hardware is not an option. I believe it’s a quite beefy system already. And the main problem remains: the software. So it’s time for a change: I will move schrankmonster bit by bit from dasBlog to a shiny new software called “Community Server“.

I just finished the test-setup today and I am thinking how to move the content to the new platform. The main goal is that nobody will even notice (beside some radical layout changes) that there is a new blog engine powering schrankmonster.

Source 1:
Source 2:

one more step to photorealism

I came across a short movie which demos a new animation and graphic engine for all next-gen consoles and PC.

Yes, this actually IS a computer generated character:

The engine yet has some obvious problems with the mouth and teeth animation…but it’s just astonishing what’s possible these days. They even claim it’s in real time. Oh and the first appearence of this technology will be in an adventure game… great news, eh?


free MPEG-4/3GPP encoder/decoder

Nero just released a free MPEG-4/3GPP encoder/decoder software package for Windows.

  • Compression Ratios ranging from ultra high (58 CDs fit on one!) to High-End Audio (2.5:1), for absolutely perfect audiophile encodings
  • Crystal Clear, Award Winning Sound Quality at every compression ratio and bit rate!
  • Support for Embedded Album Art (Covers, Booklets, Lyrics!)
  • Store Entire Audio Album in a Single .mp4 File with all the Features of an Audio CD embedded inside, but at a fraction of the space!
  • Reference Quality MPEG-4 Audio Codec
  • Fully Compatible with the Latest Version of the State-of-the-art MPEG-4 Audio Standard (LC-AAC, HE-AAC and HE-AAC v2)

Source: Nero Digital Audio

German CISCO Expo 2006 review

German CISCO Expo 2006 is finally over and from our point of view it was truly a great success.
There were very interessting sometimes cool presentations and demos, a lot of food & snacks and
very colorful light at the party. Over all it was a much better event than all those cisco
CeBit exhibitions I’ve been to before… the new (cisco) economy seem to be back on stage ;)


CISCO’s new vision for next generation networking got a new name: “Intelligent Information Network”!
Now all the routers and switches should become more intelligent, be aware of the users actual location
and connection type (ethernet, wlan, UMTS, …) and voice, data, video are integrated services of
IIN. Doesn’t sound this familiar? Yes! In the days of web 2.0 I think German Telekom would call
this reinvention of the wheel just ISDN 2.0… let’s hope that it will work better this time ;)

BTW: During the T-Systems keynote they showed us a _real hacker_ *huu-hoo* and demonstrated
the unbelievable security risks of unencrypted VoIP by using ARP Spoofing *hu-hoho*. So don’t
ask T-Systems if you have a _real_ security problem.


There were several talks about eLearning, eEducation, about the CISCO networking academy, and
the Scottish Schools Digital Network. If we belive in the given facts and figures people with
deep knowledge in networking will have a great time to earn a lot of money during the next years.
But from our point of view there is still no real funding of university research (URP is not that
great). The NetAcad program might be good for people willing to learn how to configure cisco
switches, but not when you are more interessted in building next generation routers, switches, and
networking concepts. So for us this program is more or less just marketing…

Technology power sessions

WLAN is still a lot of fun… Much more interessing was the talk about the modular IOS, EEM, and
Gold. CISCO is rewritting their os from ground and the new one will have some really nice features…
For example a real filesystem with virtual files like /sys (*hu-hoo* think about this twice ;),
embedded event management, processes for more or less every protocol in use and best: an TCL
scripting environment! If you send enough emails to the dev team embedded perl could also
become available. You can win a box of sparkling wine when you implement tetris within TCL *g*

RFID sponsored by German Telekom… great… :/

Burn venture capital, burn!

The party was really a great! Thanks to the orga team… but I still don’t like this “booooming”…

review and pictures by Ahzf


Promise and QLogic event tomorrow

I am about to attend an event by Promise Germany and QLogic. The two partners are going to present their current products and focus on the technical side of storage area networks and current solutions (VTrak… remember? We have several of them…)

I just got the car from the rental so expect some pictures of the journey and the event tomorrow.


Windows Media Server 9 live statistics tool

André wrote an small but handy CLI application that shows you the currently connected clients and the number of maximum connected clients on a Windows Media Server (version 9.0). It creates a HTML file with the statistical information.

“Copyright notice: pubstats is written by André Helbig ( You are allowed to use, copy and change this program as you want. You are not allowed to sell or rent this program. If you make changes, please keep a notice, that this program war originally written by me as long as an essential part of my work is stil left in the program.”


pubstats [-p publishingpoint] [-d path to datafile] [-h path to html-file] [/?]

-p publishingpoint for which statistics should be generated

-h html-file for output.

-d current data will be saved in and old data will be retrieved from this file
every time you open pubstats. If no file is specified, only current will be
-? show help

Download-Link: (5,81 KB)


Escher, Escher and even more Escher

“The work of M.C. Escher needs no introduction. We have all learned to appreciate the impossibilities that this master of illusion’s artwork presents to the layman’s eye. Nevertheless, it may come as a surprise for some, but many of the so-called ‘impossible’ drawings of M. C. Escher can be realized as actual physical objects. These objects will resemble the Escher’s drawing, of the same name, from a certain viewing direction. This work below presents some of these three-dimensional models that were designed and built using geometric modeling and computer graphics tools.”

Source 1: Eschers Waterfall
Source 2: Escher for real

is it about pr0n and other adult entertainment: Second Life

I joined second life some days ago to see what all the fuzz is about. And the first impressions I got is: there’s a shitload of pr0n and adult entertainment.

Being in Second Life for 10 minutes I met “Lucas Pow” on an island …

By the way: My avatars name is “Inspector Columbo”…just in case you want to contact me.


Yet another proxy server… how to turn multicast into unicast…

We are using multicast to deliver more than 20 MPEG-2 encoded video+audio streams in our network. The advantages of using multicasting in a network of more than 2000 machines are well known. But there are several scenarios when multicasting is not the right choice.

For example: in wireless environments you have to use some sort of multicast group management which is not always as flexible as a more simple solution. You would end up multicasting all 20 streams into the wireless network – which would just explode or something. (our multicasting traffic volume is around 125 Mbit/s…which is… quite much)

I started writing such a solution two days ago and now I want to make the first lines of code available for everybody to try out.

To speak simple: it’s just another proxy server. It’s a HTTP Server that can be triggered to join a multicast group (hardcoded in this version) and forward the traffic from that multicast group directly to the client that asked for it. It’s as simple as it can get and to be more technical: the proxy receives udp multicast packets and sends them as tcp unicast packets.

When you tell MPlayer to trigger the proxy by asking for /hr.ts you would get something like this (if you have a multicast group on that IP/Port):

As you can see: MPEG2-Transport Stream inside. So it works as designed. There are some glitches I am afraid to say: one known bug is that there are 12 bytes to much in the outgoing data stream which corrupts the picture. If anyone here can fix it: Do it please ;) I tried one day and I could not find a solution for the problem.

Anyways: It’s doing what it’s supposed to do. And that’s why I am making it available for everyone:

Sourcecode: (11,18 KB)

It compiles with Microsoft.NET 1.1/2.0 and Mono. There’s a Visual Studio 2005 solution file inside to help you compile it. (Should work with Visual C# Express Edition). Oh… and I am releasing it under the BSD license which is included with the package.

Feel free to comment and contribute.