Having Fun with the 1&1 Internet Flatrate

April 2nd, 2011 Comments off

This entry is only available in German.

Vor zwei Monaten habe ich mir als 1und1-Stammkunde auch die Mobile Internet Flatrate zugelegt: Für 9,99 Euro im Monat gibt es 1 GByte Freivolumen mit voller Geschwindigkeit (ca. 7 MBit/s), jenseits des ersten GByte aktiviert 1und1 eine Drosselung auf ISDN-Geschwindigkeit.

Wie weit man schon bzgl. des 1-GByte-Limits ist, kann man auf phänomenal und phantastisch einfache Weise im “Kontrollzentrum” feststellen: Es sind nur knapp 20 Schritte dazu notwendig, die ich gleich beschreiben werde. Dass es so super einfach ist, so dass der typische Kunde wohl nie wissen wird, wann er sich er 1-GByte-Grenze nähert, liegt an etwas ganz Genialem: Es gibt zwei Abrechnungszeiträume:

  • einen von 1und1 (in diesem Rhythmus kommen die Rechnungen, bei mir z. B. immer vom 08. eines Monats bis zum nächsten 08.)
  • und einen weiteren vom Partner Vodafone, der laut 1und1 fest vom 22. eines Monats bis zum nächsten 22. läuft.

Auf Nachfrage findet 1und1 das offenbar ganz in Ordnung, denn eine Synchronisation dieser beiden Abrechnungszeiträume, welche das Problem beheben würde, möchte man dort nicht durchführen (siehe unten: Reaktion von 1und1).

Hier geht’s zum vollständigen Bericht.

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Working on my PhD thesis

August 5th, 2010 Comments off

In October 2010, I’ll start on my new job as Research Assistant at University of Erlangen-Nuremburg. My doctoral adviser, Prof. Felix Freiling, will head the Chair of IT Security Infrastructures.

I’ll adjust my current research area (new methods of teaching operating systems principles) a bit by including security-related topics. One of the things I consider is creating a course on operating systems which focuses on security-relevant aspects of OS functions.

Hopefully my research will lead to gaining a PhD at the end of approx. three years :)

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Firefox 3.7 will Bring Back “Waiting Cursor”

June 22nd, 2010 1 comment

Now what’s a waiting cursor? When you reload a page in Firefox with [F5], it may take something between a fraction of a second and several seconds before the reloaded content is shown — how long exactly, depends on both your connectivity and also on the connection quality and load of the website you look at.

All Firefox versions used to show that the browser is still reloading (and you’re still looking at the old content) by changing the standard mouse pointer into something different, like a pointer with a spinning wheel attached to it.

With Firefox 3.6 (and perhaps also in 3.5) that feature was removed. This was soon reported as a bug and discussed since 2009. So why is this useful or needed? Imagine you’re in fullscreen mode (e.g. on a netbook). You press [F5]. Nothing happens. What does it mean? That the site is not available and you’ll get a timeout error if you wait another half minute? Or that the reload worked but everything looks the same because the site hasn’t changed? Well, I’d like to know, visually, what is going on. I reload several news pages dozens of times a day, and I don’t want to switch the fullscreen mode off every time to observe the reload progress on the page’s tab.

Now the lost feature is about to come back (though only as something you can re-enable in the non-GUI options). If you can’t wait (like I couldn’t), do the following:

  1. Install the latest alpha version of Firefox 3.7
  2. Start it and go to about:config
  3. search for “cursor”
  4. double click ui.use_activity_cursor to change it from false to true

Apparently the feature was reenabled late in 2009, but I only found out today what to do…

One small problem remains: Since 3.7 is still in alpha, many plugins don’t work, for example the plugin that moves the tab bar from the top to the left (or right) where I like it to sit.

Categories: Open Source Tags:

WordPress 3.0 arrives

June 17th, 2010 Comments off

Today the WordPress team has released WordPress 3.0. In their news they mention that more than 200 people worked on the new version during the last half year. I’ve been playing a lot with WordPress over the last months, creating a few WordPress blogs (including German sites fos-mathe-trainer.de and promotion-im-fernstudium.de), and I’ve been impressed by how powerful yet simple to use this CMS/Blog software is! One of the big news about WP 3 is the integration of the WP Multi-User (WPMU) variant that allows several blogs to be run from the same installation.

Actually I’ve had so much fun with the software that I decided to create a video tutorial, and I did just that during the last three days. It will become available within a few weeks from Linux Magazin Academy (the video tutorial is in German, and there’ll be a price for access).

Categories: Open Source Tags: ,

Teaching VBA macro programming

November 13th, 2009 Comments off

Since September 2009 I’ve been working as a teacher – after almost ten years as editor-in-chief of a Linux magazine. The subjects I teach are maths and computer science, and this year CS means object-oriented programming. The school offers Windows machines only, so I’m stuck with that platform.

However, when I tought an Introduction to CS course at Munich University of Applied Sciences about 1.5 years ago, I opted for Excel macro programming (VBA) instead of the also available OpenOffice macro language, and I actually liked what I saw there, and now I can recycle some of my lecture concepts in my school lessons.

Why would I, being a Linux enthusiast, choose Microsoft’s macro language over the open source OpenOffice macro language? VBA is much more accessible for programming newbies. While the languages themselves are pretty similar dialects of Basic, the object model that OpenOffice uses to access document content requires very profound insights and cannot be explained in a few hours. (Try to do something with the current selection in Excel and in OOo Calc to see what I mean.) The VBA object model for Excel documents might be flawed in comparison (as many people like to point out), but it’s fairly easy to understand, and when teaching VBA, I can get pupils to write useful macros in a few hours.

There is certainly a long list of things that I prefer in OpenOffice (think of the terrible new GUI for Microsoft Office, think of easy PDF export in OOo), but the macro language isn’t one of them.

Are there any (free/open source) object-oriented languages out there that you would suggest to use for teaching programming to school pupils aged 17 with no prior programming experience? I’d like to switch to something different next year.

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Why Linux?

July 12th, 2009 Comments off

This is a translation of my editorial in EasyLinux 03/2009 (link to german version).

Why Linux?

Printer, scanners, and TV cards which do not function at all; popular Windows programs which will never run, except in an emulation with complete virtual Windows installation; configuration tools that differ immensely from distribution to distribution and slightly from version to version; incompatible package formats that make software installation a game of chance, even for native apps — these are criticisms often found in internet forums about questions and problems of new Linux users.

The alternative: using the “standard” operating system that supports all devices, all important programs, and that typically across many OS versions. Installing a Windows program from 1995 on a Vista machine? Likely to be successful. OK, driver availability for a ’95 scanner on Vista isn’t good either, but at least today’s equipment from your local discounter will work.
Read more…

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SciFi-Fantasy Mixed Genre?

June 10th, 2009 Comments off

Today I was wondering whether there’s a genre that could be called SciFi-Fantasy. To use the stereotypes, there would be wizard and elf like characters using modern (or more advanced) technology, flying spacecrafts or travelling through mysterious stargates between worlds… Demons installing daemons in the server room, and god-like super-powerful deities posting videocasts for their “followers”.

Traditionally wizards & Co. always appear in sort-of-ancient settings without any technology. But combining the power of yet-to-be-developed tech stuff and fantastic abilities might make for interesting stories, if e.g. your programming wizard in the office is in fact a master computer programmer and a wizard who operates the machines but occasionally drops an incantation when one of his programs breaks ;)

If you are aware of such literature, please drop me a note — I’d like to read something along those lines.

Categories: Fantasy, SciFi Tags:

New Kim Harrison book: White Witch, Black Curse

May 30th, 2009 Comments off

Ah, the latest book in the series by Kim Harrison about the witch Rachel Morgan and her vampire colleague and friend Ivy Tamwood has become available in Germany (as paperback). This time they are trying to find the murderer of their friend Kisten. I only started reading the book yesterday, but so far it looks promising; I already had a few good laughs.

Categories: Fantasy Tags:

Help! The Ribbons are coming

May 24th, 2009 Comments off

This is a translation of my editorial in EasyLinux 02/2009 (link to german version).

Help! The Ribbons are coming

The Ribbons are coming. That isn’t father and mother Ribbon with their dodgy son Frank Ribbon who terrorizes the neighborhood — no, the Ribbons are worse: They are little revolutionaries wanting to change the whole world and attack people’s habits… at least, as far as software usage is concerned.

Ribbons are a Microsoft invention and users of the latest MS Office already know them: Gone are the times of navigating through multi-level menus, instead there are many beautiful and context-dependent icons for the program functions that make sense at a given time.

Read more…

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Xinerama isn’t the best choice for multi-head (multi monitor setups)

May 24th, 2009 Comments off

Over the last years all major Linux distributions have made “Xinerama” mode the standard for dual- or multi-head display setup, that is: When you have two or more screens, the system treats them as one big display where you can move windows from one monitor to another or even place them “in between”.

That’s precisely what Windows (and Mac OS X) do when you attach more than one monitor, but I prefer the traditional Unix way of creating distinct desktops (on Linux you’ll then call them :0.0 and :0.1 and may even run different window managers or desktops on the separate screens).

However, with the move to Xinerama mode, it has become harder to setup a classical multi-head environment. Some examples: KDE 4 won’t start on two non-Xinerama screens, just ignoring the second monitor. The latest KDE 3 versions also have problems, and when using the “focus follows mouse” behavior for activating windows, weird stuff happens – focus will move to the other monitor when switching virtual desktops (with Ctrl-F1, Ctrl-F2 etc.).

Who’s still using the classical multi-head with separate screens? Any suggestions for making the KDEs work properly with a recent Linux distro? Comments highly welcome…

Categories: Linux Tags: ,

Linux World Domination via Netbooks?

May 24th, 2009 Comments off

Every couple years I hear that Linux World Domination is coming “real soon now”, or at least a recognizable market share for Linux on the desktop or something like that. For example, when Windows Vista appeared, people talked about migrations from XP to Linux for performance and licence reasons, but nothing much happened. The latest idea was that netbooks will pave the way for broad Linux adoption. OK, I am using Linux on a netbook right now, and I think it’s perfect for these small computers. But then, I’ve been using Linux for about 15 years, and I run it on all machines. The pre-installed Windows XP on the netbook was usable, but I found I could not use the small screen very well with a start bar and regular window frames; my Linux distribution (EasyPeasy, a modified Ubuntu) makes better use of the 1024 x 600 screen. Apparently Vista doesn’t run well on the low-fi netbook platform, and Windows 7 might improve this a bit; haven’t tested that.

Read more…

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Books by Sergei Lukyanenko

May 24th, 2009 Comments off

Do you know Sergei Lukyanenko? The german spelling of the (russian) name is Lukianenko (Лукьяненко), and in Germany he’s becoming more and more popular, at least as far as the local book store is concerned where I get my books.

nightwatch_sLukyanenko has, besides several other books, written a series of four books beginning with “Night Watch“. The world is populated not just with normal humans, but also with “Others”, and they are divided into two sides, the Light ones and the Dark ones. (Anyone thinking of elves and dark elves?) They can enter a place called Twilight that looks like a twisted version of the normal world and it turns out there are several layers of this Twilight. The story doesn’t play in a classical fantasy world, but in modern Russia, and the Others live normal lives, as far as these can be called normal, considering their special abilities. You get vampires, but they are also different from vampires as seen in other stories. The two sides have two organizations, called the “Night Watch” (consisting of Light Others who watch over the Dark ones) and the “Day Watch” (with things the other way round). Life is governed by the Great Contract that all Others have to respect. So the “good” can’t do as much good as they’d like, and the same holds for the “bad”.

I read all four books in short sequence and found them great, from the first to the last page. The characters are well-developed and interesting, and the whole setup is just fascinating.

While the official series ended with the fourth book, there’s a sequel written by one of Lukyanenko’s co-authors, Vladimir Vasilyev (Wladimir Wassilijew, Владимир Васильев) that introduces a third side (to the Light and the Dark) and which was also great to read. (It seems the book hasn’t yet been published in English – following the author’s en.wikipedia.org entry it might be called “Face of the Dark Palmira”.  The german title is “Bewahrer des Chaos”, published April 2009.) Hoping for more :)

Categories: Fantasy Tags:

Hey, it’s a blog

May 23rd, 2009 1 comment

Ok, after using Blosxom for a few years, I wanted to try out a “true” blog – so here it is, powered by WordPress. Installation was simple so far, let’s see where this will lead. There’s a world of a difference between writing new posts in the vi editor and using the wysiwyg editor of WordPress. While it’s nice to have an editor that behaves like a text processor, I’ve certainly been a bit faster with the simple one. But then, with WordPress you can have feedback which isn’t possible with Blosxom.

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