Super Urban Intelligent CArd

Suica (スイカ Suika) is a rechargeable contactless smart card, electronic money used as a fare card on train lines in Japan, launched on November 18, 2001. The card can be used interchangeably with JR West’s ICOCA in the Kansai region and San’yō region in Okayama, Hiroshima, and Yamaguchi Prefectures, and also with JR Central’s TOICA starting from spring of 2008, JR Kyushu’s SUGOCA, Nishitetsu’s Nimoca, and Fukuoka City Subway’s Hayakaken area in Fukuoka City and its suburb areas, starting from spring of 2010. The card is also increasingly being accepted as a form of electronic money for purchases at stores and kiosks, especially within train stations. As of October 2009, 30.01 million Suica are in circulation.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suica

This time around we really made use of electronic payment and got around using cash whenever possible.

There where only a few occasions when we needed the physical credit card. Of course on a number of tourist spots further away from Tokyo centre cash was still king.

From my first trip to Japan to today a lot has changed and electronic payment was adopted very quickly. Compared to Germany: Lightning fast adoption in Japan!

The single best thing that has happened recently in this regard was that Apple Pay got available in Germany earlier this year. With the iPhone and Watch supporting SUICA already (you can get a card on the phone/watch) the availability of Apple Pay bridged the gap to add money to the SUICA card on the go. As a visitor to Japan you would mostly top up the SUICA card in convenience stores and train stations and mostly by cash. With the Apple Pay method you simply transfer money in the app from your credit card to the SUICA in an instant.

This whole electronic money concept is working end-2-end in Japan. Almost every shop takes it. You wipe your SUICA and be done. And not only for small amounts. Everything up to 20.000 JPY will work (about 150 Euro).

And when you run through a train station gate to pay for your trip it you hold your phone/watch up to the gate while walking past and this is it in realtime screen recorded:

I wish Germany would adopt this faster.

Oh, important fact: This whole SUICA thing is 100% anonymous. You get a card without giving out any information. You can top it up with cash without any link to you.

bliss is: waking up to this

This is how my bedroom sounds at 5 am. There’s barely light here in Germany but spring can’t hold it back. There are so many birds right around the house and in the garden around the house that it’s really really really impressive to hear.

Yes. I am not living in a city. And still you can barely hear the hum of cars/trucks in the background. Sadly.

I made this recording by holding my iPhone up in the air and with the Voice Recorder app included in the OS.

Nevertheless this is quite a contrast to the last 2+ weeks in Tokyo.

health: tracking food

It had been mentioned before: regarding my own health until 2015 I did not have any structure and understanding when it came to food, sports, weight and all that is connected.

I used to be around 147kg (324lbs) when I made the decision to change that. Less than 8 months later I reached the weight that is considered “normal weight” for my body height.

Maybe more important than losing weight and going from class III obesity   to normal is to keep in the range offering the biggest health benefits.

2015 till today

Apart from sport and being more active the key to managing weight in general for me was to understand and keep learning about food from many different perspectives.

Like in good science to learn more and make progress you got to listen and take well notes. Some things only can be understood when there’s enough historical data available. Not only the amount of time logged but also what is being logged is quite important.

In a normal week I am used to one-meal-a-day which I am preparing myself together with my wife. We eat in the evening – this makes things so much easier as there’s one time and space where everything regarding food comes together during routine days.

Also this routine works well in the long run. If we only got 10 minutes to prepare we will be able to hit the nutrition targets with either much or not-so-much quantities of food. In the last 4 years we practiced and played and created recipes for all situations you can think of. In a way we have made our simple-and-healthy-recipes the fall-back position we are using when we otherwise would have eaten something unhealthy.

Most importantly: We have tracked everything we cooked and ate. On a gram scale. I even built our own wifi enabled and calibrated kitchen scales.

Where do we track? There are so many options but since 2015 we stick to MyFitnessPal.

4+ years constant tracking

We are still happy using this as the base for tracking as the app is bearable even on Android and the food database that it uses is offering a good-enough data detail level.

So after more than 4 years of doing this a lot of data as come together. As I am doing it in sync with my wife a lot of things happened…

We have not become vegans. We eat meat still and we still like it. It’s just that the quality of meat we eat has gotten much better and with this the number of times we eat meat have reduced to maybe once a week at most.

We have started to eat things and experiment cooking with ingredients we did not know a year ago. While we keep adding ingredients all the time we find that you can optimize and gain so much joy from just jumping in head first into new tastes and recipes.

We’ve developed a “body-feel”. Apart from the taste buds changing completely over time I could not have thought of how much food influences how you feel. Different nutritious values lead to very different feels afterwards. I would go as far to say that most of the headaches I very frequently had while being overweight could have been traced back to what I’ve eaten just before.

So what now? We will keep tracking. Maybe not on a cloud service but on our self-hosted service. Maybe you got a good hint towards such self-hosted solutions to enter and track nutrition over time.

something is coming up…

Since 2011 we’ve got this Boogie Board in the household. It’s simply a passive LCD panel on which you can write with a plastic pen. When you do you’re interacting with the liquid crytals and you switch their state. So what was black becomes white.

So we got this tablet and it’s magnetically pinned to our fridge. And whenever we’ve booked the next trip we’re crossing off days by coloring them in a grid.

How do you do such countdowns?

Twitter Blocklists

My usual twitter use looks like this: I am scrolling through the timeline reading up things and I see an ad. I click block and never again will I see anything from this advertiser. As I’ve written here earlier.

As Twitter is also a place of very disturbing content there are numerous services built around the official block list functionality. One of those services is “Block Together“.

Block Together is designed to reduce the burden of blocking when many accounts are attacking you, or when a few accounts are attacking many people in your community. It uses the Twitter API. If you choose to share your list of blocks, your friends can subscribe to your list so that when you block an account, they block that account automatically. You can also use Block Together without sharing your blocks with anyone.

blocktogether.org

I’ve signed up and apparently this is as easy as it gets when you want to share block lists.

There seem to be more people that use Twitter like I do. For example Volker Weber wrote about his handling of “promoted content”.

My block list on Twitter currently includes 1881 accounts and these are only accounts that put paid promotions without my request into my timeline.

I’ve read that Volker has such a long list as well – maybe it’s worth sharing as Volker is one person I would trust on his decisions for such a list. (vowe is a good mother!)

data security and privacy on this website

As of early 2019 I’ve started to bring back my content output stream to this website/weblog.

So far I am feeling quite confident publishing content here and even with changing legislation I am doing my best to provide an as good as possible experience to each visitor.

As of End-of-February 2018 this blog is being provided securly encrypted with SSL certificates from Let’s Encrypt.

So security is one thing. Data privacy and safety another.

Apart from the commenting and searching there’s no functionality provided to enter/store data.

comments

When you enter a comment the assumption is that this is your call for consent. Your comment will be stored. With the information you’ve entered and can see on-screen as well as the IP address you’ve used. Akismet then is used to provide Anti-comment-SPAM functionality – so part of this data is transferred over to Akismet for processing. After moderation the comment is visible for everyone under the article you’ve created it.

cookies and browser local storage

No cookies are used or required by the website.

server logfiles

There are no logfiles. No access and no error logs. There is no tracking or analysis. There is no advertisting or monitoring. All I can see is an nginx and php process delivering websites. Your IP address is know to the server for as long as it takes to do his job of delivering the asset you asked for. Nothing gets stored on server side for your read requests.

content loading

No content is loaded from other domains or websites. Everything is hosted on my server. No data is exchanged with externals to bring you this website.

#10yearchallenge – Twitter edition

I am seeing a lot of people doing the”10 year challenge”: posting two pictures side by side – one from today and the other from ten years ago.

Some say it might be a planted meme to train AIs the effect of human aging… What an interesting hypothesis!

Funny enough I did not take part. And sure enough I am getting all these nudges by services like Twitter… So. Ten years ago this blog existed and I started using Twitter. Apparently I will still use this website but changes a bit my general approach to services like Twitter.

And the next time I’ll explain why I am always awake quite early :-)

Instagram – until now

I’ve had already added a couple of pictures to my instagram account – mainly while abroad. Pictures that I consider nice enough to be shared.

Of course my latest switch away from those public silos will include having those pictures posted mainly on this website and maybe as a side-note on those services as well.

To begin with I will have a separate page created that will host those pictures I consider nice enough to be shared.

blog maintenance – status

A bit of feedback is in on the plan to revitalize this blog. Thanks for that!

I have spent some more time this weekend on getting everything a bit tidied up.

There is the archive of >3.000 posts that I plan to review and re-categorize.

There is the big number of comments that had been made in the past and that I need to come up with a plan on how to allow/disallow/deal with comments and discussions in general on this website.

There is also the design and template aspects of this website. I switched to a different template and started to adjust it so that it shall make access to the stream of posts as easy as possible. Until then you need to wait or contact me through other means. But contacting is another post for another time.

taking the social stream back to this blog

I am currently in the process of reducing my presence on the usual social networks. Here is my reasoning and how I will do it.

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and alike are seemingly at the peak of their popularity and more and more users get more and more concerned about how their data and privacy is handled by those social networks. So am I.

Now my main concern is not so much on the privacy side. I never published anything on a social network – private or public – that I would not be published or freely distributed/leak. But:

I have published content with the intention that it would be accessible to everyone now and in the future. The increasing risk is that those publishing platforms are going to fade away and thus will render the content I had published there inaccessible.

My preferred way of publishing content and making sure that it stays accessible is this website – my personal blog.

I am doing this since 2004. The exact year that Facebook was founded. And apparently this website and it’s content has a good chance of being available longer than the biggest social network at the present time.

So what does this mean? 3 basic implications:

  1. I will become a “lurker” on the social networks. Now and in the future.
  2. All comments and reactions I will make will be either directly in private or through my personal website publicly available and linkable.
  3. I will minimize my footprint on the social networks as much as possible. This for example means: If I use Twitter, all tweets will live 7 days and automatically be removed after this time. Deleting your tweets automatically is something others do as well.

As you can see: This is not about a cut or abstinence. I get information out of social networks, tweet message flows. But I do not put any trust in the longevity of both the platforms and the content published there.

The next steps for me will be a complete overaul of this website. Get everything up to current standards to streamline my publishing process.

Expect a lot of content and change – and: welcome to my blog!

small tool to filter iCal / iCalendar / ICS files

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

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

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

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

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

Easy, eh?!

Grab the Source and Binary here: https://github.com/bietiekay/iCalFilter

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

Kürbisfest Altendorf 2009

Wir sind dieses Jahr nicht direkt auf dem Kürbisfest, das ja heute stattfindet, sondern bei der Kürbisnacht gewesen. Da kann man entspannter Kürbisse kaufen und kommt mit den “Kürbisbauern” auch leichter ins Gespräch um nach Rezepten oder dem Verwendungszweck der einzelnen Kürbisse zu fragen.

Es gab wieder unzählige Kürbisse in zahlreichen Farben und Formen:

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Das ist doch mal eine Idee für den nächsten Weihnachtsbaum
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Da kann ich nur zustimmen !!!

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kürbisfest-panorama

Source: dreikiel.de

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

The Samsung UE46B6000 + Apple Mac Mini + Plex

So it’s been some days with the new Mediacenter Setup. And all I can say is: Oh boy that is some serious cool setup. I wouldn’t want to chance anything beside adding a new Sound System (>5.1 FTW!).

The Display itself is thinner than thought:

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I strongly recommend the Mac + Plex + Full HD display setup. Even if you don’t get any HD content from your cable provider you can live-stream or download HD content through the different provider plugins inside Plex. The plugin infrastructure with the built-in “App Store” is just great.

Since Plex is a XBMC based Mediacenter software you have tons of information scrapers regarding series and movies. So you’re eventually huge collection gets indexed and presented in a way you would not get from any other Mediacenter. You get pictures, movie posters, descriptions and many more just by automatic indexing your collection.

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MST3k FTW!

Needless to say that HD content is something different. I only had some HD content on normal computer displays in the last years – having it now huge and sharp is different – better.

BTW: It’s on the floor right now because my wife couldn’t decide until now which tv-stand would suffice…

Source 1: http://av.samsung.de/produkte/detail2_main.aspx?guid=b6c1306c-f57d-4ce7-a944-56cc7346ed2e
Source 2: http://www.apple.com/macmini/
Source 3: http://plexapp.com/

der bi-em-double-you !

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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die Abholer-Premium-Lounge

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die “BMW Welt”

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

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

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Außen weiß und innen ganz in schwarz.

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

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