circle.ch weblog by Urs Gehrig

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A weblog about libre software, law, technology, politics and the like.
Academic, Android, Apache, Apple, Art, Best Of, Biotech, Civil Society, Content Management, Cooking, Copyright, Creative Commons, Crosspost, Culture, Database, Deutsch, DRM, Economy, Education, Event, Gadget, General, Geodata, Government, Health, Howto, Humor, Innovation, Intellectual Property, Java, Language, LaTeX, Law, Linux, Media, Moblog, Mozilla, Music, Office, Open Content, Open Source, P2P, PHP, Podcast, Politics, Privacy, Projects, Random Thought, Rant, Science, Search, Social Network, Software, Sport, Talks, Technology, Technology Transfer, Travelling, Weblog, Wiki, Wireless and Mobile, XML

27. August 2007

128GB SSD to replace conventional disk drive
@ 19:21:56

There is a company building SSD disks up to 128GB that could replace a conventional 2.5 inch disk drive [1]. Super Talent says that their SSD disks are compatible with SATA drives. My question here - has someone tried out such a replacement recently and how did it work? Just wondering.

[1] http://www.supertalent.com/datasheets/6_53.pdf

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25. August 2007

Behold search engine for images
@ 10:58:25

Behold's (image) search engine has the following background [1]:
Behold's visual concept search is based on the technique called "automated image annotation". This technique calculates probabilities of concepts being relevant to images based on the pixel content of each image. The models for calculating concept probabilities are estimated using manually annotated training images. Behold implements the automated annotation model proposed in Alexei Yavlinsky's PhD thesis.
[1] http://www.beholdsearch.com

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10. July 2007

reCAPTCHA - avoid spam
@ 17:31:29

reCAPTCHA is a service for your blog, webpage, guestbook what so ever. It helps to avoid getting spammed by providing a CAPTCHA feature [1]. There are e.g. plugins for various blog engines.

[1] http://recaptcha.net

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12. December 2006

Lessig's Code v2
@ 09:09:16

Nach der Erstausgabe von "Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace" anno 1999 folgt nun Code v2, eine Art "Update" der ersten Version:
Code v2 [1] updates the original work. It is not, as Lessig writes in the preface, a "new work." Written in part collectively, through a Wiki hosted by JotSpot, the aim of the update was to recast the argument in the current context, and to clarify the argument where necessary.
[1] http://codev2.cc

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28. February 2006

Lightbox - image overlay in the page
@ 17:39:11

Lightbox JS [1] is a simple, unobtrusive script used to overlay images on the current page. It's a snap to setup and works on all modern browsers. Once the scripts is loaded, you simply use link tags to get the overlay effect.

Update: Have also a look at zenphoto.org that some combined with Lightbox [2,3,4].

[1] http://www.huddletogether.com/projects/lightbox/
[2] http://zenphoto.org
[3] http://technorati.com/search/zenphoto
[4] http://taggphoto.com/zp/blurp/

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17. November 2005

Modifications on the $100 Laptop
@ 22:25:16

Last Monday I read the first time about the $100 Laptop of the MIT to be built for the One Laptop per Child (OLPC) initiative [1]. There will be no shop that is going to sell that Laptop, as I read on the introductional page. The Laptop roughly will be
a Linux-based, full-color, full-screen laptop that will use innovative power (including wind-up) and will be able to do most everything except store huge amounts of data. This rugged laptop will be WiFi-enabled and have USB ports galore. Its current specifications are: 500MHz, 1GB, 1 Megapixel.
So far quite impressive, if you keep $100 in mind. Nevertheless I would like to add the following;
  • To add a solar panel on the top of the Laptop case [2].
  • To add a foil keyboard to make it more robust [3].
  • To add more fixed Memory (>1GB).
  • To set up a Hardware-Kit to let students build their own Laptop.
  • To find a way to license the schematics, Hardware-Kit etc. under a non-commercial license.
I am not yet sure about what an Open Hardware License would look like and even if it even is nescessary. As said, it is just a random thought. But I can imagine that it would push the innovation in the soft- and hardware industries, even though I tend for a non-commercial license. The idea behind is that companies should not re-produce the hardware and sell it at exorbitant prices. The Laptop should be available for approx. $100. So if they are innovative, they produce it for less.

[1] http://laptop.media.mit.edu
[2] http://www.kenkifer.com/bikepages/touring/laptop.htm
[3] http://www.industrialkeyboard.com/html/internettastatur-folie.html

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06. October 2005

QR coded blog entries
@ 00:23:26

Innovations is - if it works, but you do not have the technology to prove it. The blogpost title, the blogpost date, the URI to each blogpost and some copyright ("CC") information of this weblog are QR coded. Actually the images have not been decoded yet, since the writer of that code has no QR code scanner nor has he a mobile phone with an appropriate software to decode those codes.

But anyway. QR codes are kind of twodimensional barcodes [1].
While conventional bar codes are capable of storing a maximum of approximately 20 digits, QR Code is capable of handling several dozen to several hundred times more information.
20 digits are not enough to encode a typical blog title, a link, a date string and some copyright information. As an example, the QR coded string for this blog post is: "QR coded blog entries, 06.10.2005 00:23:26, http://circle.ch/blog/p1773.html, CC-by-sa_2.5". The QR code library behind my implementation is written by Y. Swetake [4].

If it makes sense, to link from a QR code to a blog post, is not yet plain clear. But I could imagine a simpler, maybe automated navigation for mobile phones:
  • Reading a blog feed (e.g. qr.xml or qr img link in the RSS feed) with QR codes
  • The phone decodes the images and displays the title to the blog entries
  • A single click on the auto-linked title is enough to access the full blog post
At least in Japan there are various applications that support QR codes [2]; e-commerce e.g. is a big issue [3]. Is anyone out there with an opensource QR code decoder? ;)

Update: The ETH Zürich has a project running called "Visual Code Recognition for Camera-Equipped Mobile Phones" [5]. They also provide so called Recognizer software for Symbian OS based mobile phones.

[1] http://www.denso-wave.com/qrcode/qrfeature-e.html
[2] http://www.eurotechnology.com/store/qr-code/sample.html
[3] http://www.camreader.jp/eng/service/index.html
[4] http://www.swetake.com/qr/
[5] http://www.inf.ethz.ch/personal/rohs/visualcodes/

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21. September 2005

OpenLaszlo Open Source development platform
@ 19:39:26

OpenLaszlo is the leading open source platform for the development and delivery of rich Internet applications on the World Wide Web.
Although I read the first time of it today, it looks promising, at least if I have a look at the demo applications [1] and the "Laszlo-in-10-minutes" introduction [2].

[1] http://www.laszlosystems.com/demos/
[2] http://www.laszlosystems.com/lps/laszlo-in-ten-minutes/

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29. August 2005

Get Tags with Yahoo! Term Extraction
@ 21:54:35

This is a start:
The Term Extraction service provides a list of significant words or phrases extracted from a larger content.
It can be implemented by making use of the Yahoo! API [1]. One might then need to sort out the result set a bit and use them as "tags". Since this blog has no cache and the API only lets me have a limited number [2] of requests a day, I will not dive into it yet ;) For those using PHP, there is a so called yahoolib availabe.

[1] http://developer.yahoo.net/search/content/V1/termExtraction.html
[2] http://developer.yahoo.net/search/rate.html
[3] http://sourceforge.net/projects/yahoolib

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28. August 2005

Working out a category cloud
@ 20:32:18

The category cloud above does work with a variable font-size for each item. The font size is related to the number of posts per category. Since some categories have up to 600 items while others only have two, I had to find a suitable scale. A good effect could be found by using a logarithmic value. So I used something like the following:
printf("<a href='/blog/p%s.html'
  title='%s' style='font-size:%s;'>%s</a>",
$row->cat_id,
$row->cat_name,
floor(log($row->items_per_cat) * 20) +100 ."%",
$row->cat_name );
I preferred to chose this solution from having e.g. a switch with ranges of posts/category to point to different style classes like size1, size2, size3 etc.

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03. August 2005

PHP Developers for blog.ch
@ 10:55:09

blog.ch is seeking PHP developers to turn the projectlist into reality [1]. Matthias has some good ideas and is eager to fulfil them.

[1] http://blog.ch/blog/?p=148

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14. June 2005

Favourite URL?
@ 11:51:31

Sometimes you get asked, what your favourite URL is. For some years, this one is among my top three [1] ;)

Magnus Bodin came up with this idea years ago. It is just fantastic, regardless of the "USELESS SITE OF THE YEAR 1998" award. From todays perspective it is not at all that useless, just remind what others do [2].

[1] http://$sin(72.0221).x42.com
[2] http://www.google.ch/search?q=sin(72.0221)=

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06. June 2005

Marklar - reinforcing a background task at Apple?
@ 11:02:50

[via infam, 1] It is rumoured that Apple will move to Intel technology. There has already been running a background task called "marklar" [2] that has been working on keeping Apple applications running on Intel processors. It is said, that Steve Jobs will reveal more today [3].

[1] http://infam.antville.org/stories/1138384/
[2] http://www.eweek.com/article2/0,1759,1656622,00.asp
[3] http://developer.apple.com/wwdc/

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29. May 2005

Grüfnisch - Geheimsprache für Schüler
@ 10:14:14

Auf DRS3 spricht Perry wieder mal auf Grüfnisch. Wie die Sprache funktioniert, hat er bisher noch nicht verraten; wär ja dann auch keine Geheimsprache mehr: "Inefi lienefib denefech" ;)

QR Code for your mobile phone.
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07. April 2005

Legaltorrents taken offline?
@ 08:57:53

Legaltorrents is currently down. Has it been taken offline?

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05. April 2005

Access to Desktop Search results
@ 22:16:07

Today I run across DNKA [1]:
DNKA is a search tool for remote computers. It acts as a web server by interacting as a layer between Google Desktop Search (GDS) and the user. It allows other users to search, view and download your files, emails, chats and web history.
Basically it is wonderful; you get a full search access to the indexed content of a remote computer. IMHO this application should be filed under "As long as You know what You are doing.". I tried it out in an intranet and got full access to the root drive C:\.

Then later on I found Baagle [2]. The principle is similar to the above but the tools are different. Baagle is a set of Perl scripts wrapped around the search engine Swish-e. Baagle provides a standalone webserver and an indexer. But compared to GDS it is up to you to configure and restrict the indexing to the data directories of your desire.

If you like to figure out a similar solution with PHP have a look at the earlier mentioned nanoweb or nanoserv webserver built with PHP [3] and a Swish-e wrapper written in PHP [4]. Once decided to go for Swish-e (on Windows) you need a couple of tools to handle various file mime types, among others pdftotext, ps2ascii, antiword and one that I found today to convert Excel files to text, called xlhtml. Just search.ch for them ;)

Well, now the only thing I could not find is a few lines of code to get a configurable search field to be integrated in the Windows task bar as we know it from GDS. Anyone up with a solution?

[1] http://dnka.com
[2] http://floatingsheep.com/baagle.html
[3] http://nanoweb.si.kz
[4] http://www.neokraft.net/articles/swish-e/

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30. March 2005

PHP Naive Bayesian Filter against Spam
@ 21:37:07

As recently mentioned this blog got an awful amount of trackback spam. After a short period of silence it started again today. So I turned off the trackback feature and will live without it for a while.

Loïc d'Anterroches by the way has implemented a PHP Naive Bayesian Filter [1] that I could imagine would help me out the most with the trackback spam. Captacha is no solution there and I would rather prefer the "Bayesian Way" compared to semi-automatic solutions like moderation, blacklisting et.al. By the way, the script by Loïc did work right out of the box. ;)

[1] http://www.xhtml.net/php/PHPNaiveBayesianFilter

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21. March 2005

Google Desktop Search going for Thunderbird
@ 22:33:41

Google Desktop Search is now indexing also:
  • Netscape Mail / Thunderbird
  • Netscape / Firefox / Mozilla
  • PDF
  • Music
  • Images
  • Video
Various plug-ins seem to result from the Google Desktop Search SDK. There is e.g. an OpenOffice document indexing plug-in [1].

[1] http://desktop.google.com/plugins.html

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16. March 2005

Die tel.search.ch Option linkzoom
@ 08:40:52

Letztlich bin ich bei tel.search.ch auf die Option "&help=linkzoom" aufmerksam geworden. Zusammen mit der Option "&region=" kann die Suche auf eine Gemeinde reduziert [1] oder aber auf einen Bezirk, also ein grösseres Gebiet ausgeweitet [2] werden. Das kann dann Sinn machen, wenn nicht leichthin durch eine Option im Stile von "&plz=300*" eine Einschränkung vorgenommen werden kann.

[1] http://tel.search.ch/result.html?name=imobersteg&region=d-bern&help=linkzoomd
[2] http://tel.search.ch/result.html?name=imobersteg&region=z-bern&help=linkzoomz

Allenfalls kommt man zu denselben Suchergebnissen, wenn man die Option "&help=linkzoom[d|z]" auch ganz weggelässt.

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15. March 2005

O'Reilly hacks
@ 16:36:41

One of my favourite O'Reilly hacks [1] is this one:
Command Line Calculator
Calculate from the command line thanks to Google and PHP.
[1] http://www.oreillynet.com/pub/h/797

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11. March 2005

Trackback Spam
@ 00:03:37

Just had to remove a set of over 1600 trackback spams. I will have to come up with an antispam solution in a while.

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08. February 2005

Tagging for lots.ch
@ 11:20:58

chregu [1] pointed out how you will be able to aggregate lots.ch related/linked information via del.icio.us as he introduced the tag "lots.ch".
And we aggregate the del.icio.us tag "lots.ch", which will be displayed on the page. If you have an interesting link somehow related to lots.ch, just tag it with "lots.ch" and the link will show up on the OpenBlog.
I started yet another tag on Technorati as you can see below [2].

tag:lots.ch


Feel free to link in. But what counts most; just do not forget to visit us in Bern finally ;)

[1] http://blog.bitflux.ch/p2019.html
[2] http://www.technorati.com/tag/lots.ch

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Froogle glued to Gmail
@ 09:46:03

Usually I leave the cookie set for easier login into Gmail. Today I was Froogeling for a product and found my Gmail address displayed at the top right corner. Hmm, what do they have planned? Steering the adwords on behalf of my stored emails in Gmail? Clicking the link to "My Shoppinglist" returned a lovely 404. Let us wait and see what is next ;)

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04. February 2005

Sony HMD-A200 quit service
@ 21:07:40

My first Sony screen [1] just quit the service this evening ;( Need to do some fundraising [2] ;)

[1] http://blog.li/trash/2005/02/04/1373.html
[2] https://www.paypal.com/affil/pal=urs@circle.ch

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01. February 2005

Migros offers Music Download
@ 18:21:14

Migros has launched a Music download service on i-m.ch [1]. Unforutanely Firefox users are not welcome yet:
The site you have tried to enter requires Internet Explorer 6 (or better) with Windows Media Player 7 (or better) on Windows XP, 2000, Me or 98. Click Here to use our Doctor Download application to help you check your configuration alternatively Email Dr Download.

Please try again.
The service seems to be provided by On Demand Distribution [2].

[1] http://www.i-m.ch
[2] http://www.od2.com

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31. January 2005

Why does the web work?
@ 22:52:15

Tell me if I am wrong, but wasn't it one of the key features of HTML at the time of its introduction to have pages linked by <a href=''>link</a>? Linking from inside of page A.html to a page B.html. But if one renames page B.html to C.html and does not rewire it by hand or use rewrite tricks, one gets what currently the NZZ online is playing with. Is it intention or are they just not aware of? Please give us the web back. ;)

Unfortunately [2] is not a working substitute to [1] as one would expect:

[1] http://nzz.ch/2004/11/05/il/page-newzzE16BRTPJ-12.html
[2] http://nzz.ch/2004/11/05/il/newzzE16BRTPJ-12.html

Addon: Really positive is the new redirection to the print-edition of a certain page [3]:

[3] http://nzz.ch/2005/02/01/wi/newzzE4NR89LK-12.print.html

Update: Cool URIs don't change - just refound that link again [4] ;)

[4] http://www.w3.org/Provider/Style/URI.html

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15. January 2005

Coffee decaffeination
@ 13:47:28

Just wondering, how that works:
Wie stellt man koffeinfreien Kaffee her?
Da, wie wir noch sehen werden, Coffein physiologisch hoch aktiv ist und deshalb von vielen Menschen nicht vertragen wird, bemüht man sich, das Gift aus dem ansonsten gern genossenen Kaffee zu entfernen. Das machte man früher zunächst mit Benzol, dann mit chlorierten Kohlenwasserstoffen wie Chloroform, Dichlormethan oder Tetrachlorkohlenstoff, was den Kaffee insgesamt für empfindliche Nasen ungenießbar machte. Die Lösemittelrückstände waren auch ungesund.

1964 meldete K. Zosel vom Max Planck-Institut für Kohleforschung in Mülheim ein Patent zu einem Verfahren zur Hochdruckextraktion an, bei dem als Extraktionsmittel überkritisches Kohlenstoffdioxid genutzt wird. Dieses Verfahren heißt Destraktion, ein Kunstwort aus Destillation und Extraktion.
The methods of decoffeination I have found are Swiss Water process, the sparkling water process and the CO2 process [2]. The so called Swiss Water (R) process has been visualized in the following video [3].

The video is really funny ;)

[1] http://dc2.uni-bielefeld.de/dc2/tip/09_04.htm
[2] http://www.coffeeresearch.org/science/decaffeination.htm
[3] http://www.swisswater.com/resources/av/Swiss_Decaf101_400001.mov

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Related post(s):
Related tags(s):
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13. January 2005

Gmail accounts
@ 21:14:19

I have some more Gmail accounts to give away. Just leave a comment and your email below.

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12. January 2005

John towards U3
@ 20:31:11

John Haller [1] has done a remarkable job to let Thunderbird, Firefox and Sunbird as well as NVU run directly from a USB stick. I have some doubts to transport my mails around on a USB stick. Maybe Sunbird? Still not sure. There is a calendar on my mobile phone, which has no caldav yet, but let's wait and see ;)

As the computers seem to become smaller too, the fancy stuff above gets even more relativated. Saying this, I have the new Apple mini in mind, which I saw today [2]. Nearly a "PC" to fit in the pocket (PIP) or a small bag (PIB) ;) Nevertheless, definitely enough resources to run Thunderbird, Firefox and Sunbird at once.

[1] http://johnhaller.com/jh/mozilla/
[2] http://www.apple.com/macmini/

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07. January 2005

LiveJournal backend presentation
@ 08:10:55

Brad Fitzpatrick presents some LiveJournal backend know-how [1]. Some related information is available about the wikipedia back-end [2].

[1] http://www.danga.com/words/2004_lisa/
[2] http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia_servers

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27. December 2004

Back again
@ 17:18:54

circle.ch was off for some hours for technical maintenance. Thank You for waiting. ;)

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25. November 2004

RFID enabled cell phones
@ 13:29:31

The RFID journal [1] has an article about RFID-enabled cell phones [1]. Besides WLAN, Bluetooth and the like I tend to predict that this technology-mix might have a chance in various markets if:
  • an accepted standard of the RFID communication protocol is used;
  • or otherwise, the RFID reader is flexible enough, to read/write multiple RFID formats;
  • enough products have those tags (eq. RFID chips) implemented.
Let's consider an example: On a Sunday, where - at least here in Bern - the local stores are closed, I am walking alongside the shopping windows in the city. Oh, Kitchener [2] has some new fancy toys! Unfortunately the price tags are not visible on that certain Uglydoll. I'll grab my RFID-enabled mobile phone and simply scan all the products within the reading range. They get displayed by categories in my phone... shoes, t-shirts, toys etc. Among them there is that Uglydoll Ox [3]. Until here, there has no WLAN, no GPRS, not UMTS been used.

What is left to do? Select the product and send the order to the shop. Or maybe I just would like to compare it with an ebay-offer? ;) Bye, bye privacy.

[1] http://www.rfidjournal.com/article/articleprint/1020/-1/1/
[2] http://www.kitchener.ch/html/de/shop/index.php?mg=11&ug=16&br=4803
[3] http://uglydolls.com

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18. November 2004

Hoppla
@ 17:48:06

via Joi, http://zattevrienden.realroot.be/depanneren.htm

QR Code for your mobile phone.
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07. November 2004

DeLaRue is hiring
@ 21:12:19

De La Rue [2] Cash Systems Schweiz is hiring four specialized engineers for their CSD Detector Group at their location just outside Bern.

[1] via andi, http://newsli.andudi.ch
[2] http://circle.ch/blog/media/delarue_ausschreibung.pdf

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08. October 2004

Google in Zürich is hiring
@ 07:45:29

Google [1] is hiring
[..] talented software engineers, top programmers and visionary computer scientists.
Feel free to follow that request! ;)

Update: Just found the outlined legal positions [2] ;)

[1] http://www.google.ch/jobs/index.html
[2] http://www.google.com/jobs/legal.html

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07. October 2004

Bundesrat gegen Spam
@ 14:10:30

Heute in der NZZ [1]:
Mit 86 zu 78 Stimmen befürwortete der Nationalrat, dass der Bundesrat unerwünschte Massenwerbung per E-Mail oder SMS (Spam) bekämpfen kann.
Da kann man ja gespannt sein, wie er dies bewerkstelligen will. Vermutlich wird er sich auf das Argumentatorium eines grossen Softwarekonzerns stützen; Stichwort Caller-ID [2,3].

[1] http://nzz.ch/2004/10/07/il/page-newzzE00M06LA-12.html
[2] http://www.circle.ch/blog/p1398.html
[3] http://www.circle.ch/blog/p1382.html

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06. September 2004

ImageShack - dedicated content hosting service
@ 08:42:28

ImageShack is a dedicated internet digital content hosting service [1].

[1] http://www.imageshack.us

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25. August 2004

Bluewin is testing TV over ADSL
@ 07:16:37

Bluewin [1] is going to provide 25 TV and five Pay-TV channels in Switzerland; based on Microsoft TV IPTV. The product will be tested in about 600 households.

[1] http://www.bluewinag.com/cont/pm/040824_d.html

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24. August 2004

Back online
@ 20:29:29

Thanks to a cablecom service technician I am back on the Net. Just four days ago some other technician installed a filter in the house of the neighbours, which cut down the signal. Strange story.

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23. August 2004

Off the net
@ 14:04:15

Mein Modem ist wieder mal vom Netz gegangen. Bereits vier Tage. Am Telefon bestätigt die Cablecom zwar eine Störung und offenbar habe sich "das Modem nicht wieder einklinken können", doch wird man als Endkunde wieder mal im Ungewissen gelassen. Im Rapport der Störungen, das bezeichnenderweise in der Navigation "Unser Netz" statt "Störungen" heisst, ist nichts davon zu lesen [1]. Statt mir umgehend ein Modem zu schicken, das sich von selbst "einklinkt", muss wieder mal ein Techniker her. "Das kann ein, zwei Tage dauern, bis er sich meldet"; super. "Dabei wird er mit Ihnen einen Termin vereinbaren"; noch besser.

Ach ja, beim Einwählen auf die Supportnummer, wird man schon fast standardmässig vier Minuten warten gelassen, um dann ab der 10 Minute mit CHF 2.-/min beraten zu werden. Wie heisst es doch gleich: "Ich liebe es"... ah sorry, das ist ja ein anderes Unternehmen.

[1] http://cablecom.ch/internet/hispeed/hispeed_products_support/hispeed_support_net/

QR Code for your mobile phone.
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01. August 2004

Cascading menu in skinable Javascript
@ 23:43:29

A nice article on evolt [1] describes the principle of coding a skinable cascading menu with javascript.

[1] http://evolt.org/article/A_touch_of_class_skinable_Javascript/17/60326/

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11. July 2004

Schatzi-Halter
@ 00:18:14

Lars - a friend of a friend - publishes some of his "objects", various types of mostly handy innovations. Tonight I installed the "Schatzi-Halter" to hold a postcard from a Christo exposition [1].

[1] http://www.atelier-v.ch/Seiten/18.html

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08. July 2004

TU Activities on Countering Spam
@ 16:39:43

The International Telecommunication Union (ITU), is organizing an ITU WSIS Thematic Meeting on Countering Spam [1]from 7 to 9 July 2004, in Geneva, Switzerland. Discussion will be structured around five main themes:

- Scope of the problem
- Technical solutions
- Consumer education and awareness
- Legislation and enforcement
- International cooperation

The audiocast of the meeting is available here. Background materials, contributions and presentations will be posted here.

[1] http://www.itu.int/osg/spu/spam/

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09. June 2004

X1 Search turns email archives into a knowledge repository
@ 23:26:31

Stroke by stroke, querying for a word within your email archives, X1 [1] lists and refines the search results. I never had the chance to use Gmail [2] but that is what Gmail seems to offer too. I am not aware of a tool like X1 existsting for Linux. Just let me know...

[1] http://www.x1.com
[2] http://gmail.google.com

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17. May 2004

CCD astro fotography
@ 09:08:09

A. Moser, M. Auf der Maur and R. Hoog Antink realized a CCD camera to follow an astro-telescope and published their work (2002 ) made at the ETH Zürich [1]. It was tutored by Dr. R. Zinniker and T. Degen [2]. Also some years back, I found it interesting to get a document (in German) explaining what they did and achieved, delivering also the source code and the PCB schematics.

[1] http://rs3.ch/~roman/projects/SA01/astrodoc.pdf
[2] http://www.ife.ee.ethz.ch/showcase/members/zinniker.html

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14. May 2004

GeoURL on renovation
@ 17:06:02

The GeoURL [1] site is currently down for renovation. I am curious what it will look like and what features they present on their comeback.

[1] http://geourl.org

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01. May 2004

SpamPal, ASK et. al.
@ 22:10:19

I just come from configuring SpamPal on my local Windows machine. The amount of unsolicited mails is tremendous on my main address these days. My hosting service reported me of something like a thousand mails in ten hours. To rise the filter level once more would not make sense, they said and proposed to install SpamPal [1] which taggs spam and makes filtering more easy.

On the other hand you could change your mail policy and make use of a tool like Active Spam Killer [2]. ASK sends a confirmation message back to the unknown sender and keeps the mail pending until the (human) sender confirms the request. ASK is an Open Source solution. A similar service is available through Mailblocks [3].

[1] http://www.spampal.org/usermanual/clients/outlook2000/outlook2000.html
[2] http://www.paganini.net/ask/
[3] http://www.mailblocks.com

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23. April 2004

GIS Maps and mobile blogging
@ 10:24:54

Mika Tuupola [1] exemplifies the ease of implementation of GIS data using the PEAR library written by Sebastian Bergmann. That reminds me of an earlier blog post about the GPS bluetooth module SOCKET SOC-GP0804-405 [2] (comparable is the PRETEC OB-GPLXX-A, both about CHF 400);

Before we cat get mobile phones with integrated GPS capability, I guess that these module would do a good job delivering GPS data which can be submitted together with the blog content. If I would blog from a certain location, it would be quite nice to display the coordinates and leave a trace between consecutive posts. It simply adds more value to the content.

I am aware, that others will track the trace and tease you up "hey, what did you do in Champéry; shouldn't you have been in London at that time?"... but that is up to you, to decide what you reveal of yourself. Isn't it?

[1] http://www.appelsiini.net/~tuupola/archives/155/
[2] http://shop.comdirect.ch/default.asp?prono=1538

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29. March 2004

Thoughts on Microsofts CallerID
@ 15:33:28

nospamproxy.de [1,2] has some good articles on anti-spam technologies and points out, that CallerID works in a very similar way to SPF, RMX and other protocols to verify the sending host. Microsoft introduced its CallerID at hotmail.com as you can test yourself:
# host -t txt _ep.hotmail.com
So from the technical side it seems that the CallerID(ea) is probably even behind what SPF is capabale of [3,4,5]. On the other hand, some argue, that Microsoft might to "acknowledge Open Source without accepting some of the risks of being truly Open Source might bring":
This product may incorporate intellectual property owned by Microsoft Corporation. If you would like a license from Microsoft, you need to contact Microsoft directly [3].
From that perspective, the patent claims by Microsoft might be only defensive [4]. Some searching for latest patents by Microsoft (Title or Abstract: spam, Applicant: Microsoft) only reveals four related patents, one of them published in January 2004 [6].

If - on a legislatory level - Microsoft intends to push its technology, one should point out to the governmental experts and commissions that there are already technical alternatives that should be taken in account as well.

[1] http://www.nospamproxy.de/EN/rulez-ms.htm
[2] http://www.nospamproxy.de/EN/rulez-spf.htm
[3] http://lists.essential.org/pipermail/ecommerce/2004q1/001206.html
[4] http://www.newsforge.com/software/04/02/26/1448253.shtml
[5] http://www.mail-archive.com/cobalt-users@list.cobalt.com/msg61809.html
[6] http://l2.espacenet.com/espacenet/viewer?PN=EP1376427&CY=ch&LG=en&DB=EPD

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20. March 2004

Cutting dubplates from mp3 sources
@ 11:07:10

Flo Kaufmann from Vinylum GmbH told me about his dubcutter some two years ago [1]. The dub cutter allows individual on demand cutting of dub plates. The mechanic is an add-on to the Technics SP 1200/1210 turntables [2].
Flo also used to run one the last vinyl pressing plants around. As he mentions on his site, they shut it down due to lacking human resources and he will concentrate his engeneering forces on a galvanic and processing place for acetate masters together with central dubs in Bern [3] to produce swiss made vinyl in future.

[1] http://www.vinylium.ch/dubcut/dubcutter.html
[2] ftp://ftp.vinylium.ch/pub/doku/DubcutterManual03.pdf
[3] http://www.centraldubs.com

Update (6.1.2005): http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/8.03/eword.html

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28. January 2004

Eventually dropped your mail
@ 00:43:12

Well, if you wrote me a mail today and did not get an answer, then maybe you chose a topic that fitted to one of these:
  • 160 "deliver"

  • 132 "virus"

  • 57 "returned"

  • 38 "notification"

  • 11 "attachment"

  • 7 "message"

  • 5 "scan"
How was it the other day [1], when email was not yet existing?
1971 Ray Tomlinson (BBN) sends the first email (probably "QWERTYUIOP"), after having written a first FTP (File Transfer Protocol: "CPYNET") to send files from one ARPANET PDP-10 computer to another in his office. He choosed "@" to start the address after the name of the receiver.
I am sure to choose other ways of communication as soon as possible. Services like email seem to be antiquated. But probably it is not the service but the way they get taken over and manipulated by a certain kind of users. It is up to each of us taking occurrences like this as motivation to evolve new ways of communication.

It is time we get IPv6 and every wearable offers the possibility to access to the net so we can choose the most suitable "communication environment" depending on the situation.

[1] http://noosphere.cc/internet.html
[2] http://openmap.bbn.com/~tomlinso/ray/home.html

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06. December 2003

Bundesratswahl online verfolgen
@ 12:14:06

Die Bundesratswahlen werden auch online verfolgt werden können. Die Informatikdienste des Bundes haben aufgrund der zu erwartenden grossen Nachfrage auch vorgesorgt:
Wie jede Sitzung der Räte, so wird auch die Bundesratswahl durch die Bundesversammlung via unser Live+ übertragen. Allerdings wird unsere Infrastruktur die zu erwartende riesige Nachfrage kaum verkraften. Als Zusatzdienstleistung bieten wir Ihnen deshalb an diesem Tag Bild und Ton von SFDRS über einen externen Provider an.

SFDRS: http://real.xobix.ch/live/sfdrs_live_12102003.ram

Bitte speichern Sie diese als Bookmark und wählen Sie sich am Morgen des 10. Dezembers direkt über diese Adresse ein - danke für Ihr Verständnis!
via parlament.ch

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30. November 2003

Solar panel driven Motorglider
@ 13:33:02

Bertrand Piccard is heading for new horizons. His projects "Solar Impulse" [1], a human scientific and ecological adventure, aims to realize a round-the-world flight by a solar powered airoplane.

In Biel I had the chance to work for a lab at the University of applied sciences, where Andrea Vezzini and his staff developed a battery driven motorglider for a German Company [2]. Also read on at Slashdot [3].

[1] http://www.solar-impulse.com
[2] http://www.hta-bi.bfh.ch/E/induel/r_and_d/lange/
[3] http://science.slashdot.org/science/03/11/28/1438236.shtml

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23. November 2003

Answering back to Spammers
@ 20:48:21

Karl-Friedrich Lenz [1] proposed something similar in his book "Grenzen des Patentwesens. Konkrete Massnahmen gegen die Patentinflation" on the level of software patents, while darkonc [2] comes out with the idea of effectively answering back to Spammers.

The question simply is, what would happen, if any spam receiver would answer back to the spam mails or eventually blog spams. Most probably, the spammer its system or organisation would brake down due to the load of requests. But as Lenz argues, it would need a major movement to cause any mattering effects. Samples of handling Nigerian Spams could be read on 419eater.com [3]; via lessig.org [4].

[1] http://k.lenz.name/d/v/index.html
[2] http://www.kuro5hin.org/story/2003/11/4/111059/720
[3] http://419eater.com
[4] http://www.lessig.org/blog/archives/001584.shtml

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11. November 2003

Retype security code before submitting a comment
@ 18:03:24

James Seng provides another - he was the guy that implemented the bayesian filter too - MT plugin to prevent comment spams. The script displays an image with a security code and demands the user to reenter a security code manually before allowing posting to go through. You should make the text on the image as legible as possible to give people with seeing disabilites a chance but it should have a good variation to prevent bots from OCR-reading the information.

[1] http://james.seng.cc/archives/000145.html

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05. November 2003

GPS Drawing
@ 17:18:55

Today I came along KOGIS [1], a project aiming to build a national GEO-data-infrastructure. There is not much quite something to see, but I am eager to see more. Then, just by occasion [4] I found that GPS Drawing.

The gallery offers amazing drawings such as the "Oxford Don" [2]
Complete with pointed nose and stiff upper lip, the Oxford Don was made in three stages: His eye was drawn around Farmoor Reservoir (average speed 3.7 kph, max speed 10.1 kph), his mouth along the River Thames (3.5 km and back again), and his profile along the A34, A338, A415, B4449, A40 right through Cornmarket Street in the centre of Oxford.
Breathtaking images [3] are delivered by Koichi Mori. He recorded his journeys with a GPS receiver and a heart-rate monitor and captured his physical activities over the earths surface.

[1] http://www.e-geo.ch
[2] http://www.gpsdrawing.com/gallery/land/oxdonon.htm
[3] http://www.gpsdrawing.com/gallery/contributions/hrgps.htm
[4] http://tecfa.unige.ch/perso/staf/nova/blog/archives/000496.html

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17. October 2003

Bayesian Filtering of Spam
@ 07:54:23

The hit rate of this blog is now about 3 per day: I am talking about comment spam. This is no fun at all. I intended to turn off the back-channels like comments and trackback eventually pingback too. But that is no fun. So I started to look around for spam blocking solutions. Beside blacklists - mentioned earlier here - BayesianClassification caught my eyes. So I added a new wiki page to have some starting point. Also most solutions are intended to fight email spam there could be a combination with blacklists I guess.

There is currently no PHP implementation so I started to convert the C implementation of Paul Graham's "A Plan for Spam" [1] by Craig Morrison [2]. Unfortunately I got stuck because the PECL sqlite extension does not yet include the sqlite_compile and sqlite_step functions which are used in Craig's version to do some fun stuff with SQLite:
sqlite_compile() is used as a precursor to sqlite_step(). It takes an
SQL statement and "compiles" it into a VM (virtual machine) that sqlite
uses for each successive call to sqlite_step().

What it does is allow me to query a database without using a callback
function. Each call to sqlite_step() returns the next row in the result
set from the initial sqlite_compile() call.

I needed to do that, because I have to do lookups in the same database
and I could not do those lookups recursively inside the callback which
would be needed when using sqlite_exec(). The use of the virtual
machines allows me to maintain a seperate state for each lookup that I
need to do.
Craig was answering me via email as I asked him if there is a possible workaround to come along without the mentioned functions. Thanks to Craig.

[1] http://www.paulgraham.com/spam.html
[2] http://sourceforge.net/projects/bayesiancfilter

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01. October 2003

.NET Managed User Group of Switzerland
@ 10:52:46

[via Urs Müller, 1] Switzerland has a .NET User Group for a couple of weeks [2]. The aim of the group is to promote theory and use of NET technologies in Switzerland.
Artikel 2: Zweck

1. Die Gesellschaft hat zum Ziel, Theorie und Anwendung von .NET Technologien in der Schweiz zu fördern. Sie dient als Informationsdrehscheibe, unterstützt den Erfahrungsaustausch unter ihren Mitgliedern und unterstützt die Kooperation von Firmen und akademischen Instituten. Wissenschaftliche Erkenntnisse sowie Erfahrungen aus der Praxis sollen den Mitgliedern leichter zugänglich gemacht und Erfahrungen bei der Anwendung neuer Methoden und Hilfsmittel weitergegeben werden.
2. Die Gesellschaft kann auch andere Aktivitäten ergreifen oder sich daran beteiligen, die für die Förderung der Anwendung von .NET Technologien in der Schweiz zweckmässig sind.

[1] http://www.compisoft.ch/blog/
[2] http://www.dotmugs.ch

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23. September 2003

SD (Secure Digital) WiFi for more connectivity
@ 11:07:28

Sandisk [1,2] has one of the smallest WiFi Cards probably available. The card will allow SDIO enabled devices to connect to HotSpots (802.11b Access Points) for fast wireless Internet connectivity. There is an alternative product by Socket Communications [3].

[1] http://www.brighthand.com/article/SanDisk_SD_WiFi_Card_Reviewed
[2] http://www.sandisk.com/consumer/sdwifi.asp
[3] http://www.socketcom.com/product/WL6200-480.asp

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18. September 2003

About browsing the web and why Lotus Notes matters
@ 00:46:53

[via Jon's Radio, 1] I propose to go for Ray Ozzies [2] weblog post first and then Jon's. It is about telling a fascinating story about a software product on one hand and changing the world with a few dozen lines of text on the other.

What is it about? Ray Ozzie and others have worked on the development of Lotus Notes. He recently became aware of the patent US 5,838,906 and the Eolas lawsuit against Microsoft about the browser experiance. Ray explains in deep how Lotus Notes was built and worked at that time and finally states that
We even shipped it about 18 months before his filing. Lotus was a public company and at the time one of the biggest forces in the personal computing industry, so surely the person or persons doing the patent filing must have or should have known about our hypermedia innovations. Given all the press coverage, he was likely also influenced by them in envisioning his own distributed hypermedia enhancements to the then-nascent Web browser technology.
Jon summarizes that Ray's essay could have saved [3] Microsoft more money than Ray invested in his company Groove and finally points out:
Innovation is an act of willful imagination. What you dream up can indeed change the world. But the world keeps changing too, in ways that can require you to refocus your dream. Not an easy thing to do.

[1] http://weblog.infoworld.com/udell/2003/09/17.html#a798
[2] http://www.ozzie.net/blog/stories/2003/09/12/savingTheBrowser.html
[3] http://www.rkmc.com/firm_news.asp?newsId=167&iba=Yes

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08. September 2003

Bluetooth GPS Receiver
@ 17:23:27

The EMTAC GPS receiver is quite a hip, since it offers a Bluetooth interface [1]. I will not only work as a add-on for notebooks but also for mobile phones.

[1] http://www.emtac.com/products/bluetooth/datasheet_btgps.html

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02. September 2003

Create Windows forms using ink
@ 13:49:47

[via inkblog, 1] Leszynski Group Company has created a tool called the "inSpire Windows Form Designer" [2], developed to help to learn about and build Tablet PC-capable applications in Visual Studio .NET 2003. They offer a free Preview Edition of this pioneering technology.

[1] http://www.inkblog.com/2003/06/09.html
[2] http://www.leszynski.com/tabletpc/tpcinTegrate.htm

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31. August 2003

Humming songs to get their titles
@ 16:54:33

I really like that one. Does it happen to you, that the moment you hear the name of the group or the title of a song it disappears from your memory? Not that tragic anymore; with the help of an algorithm provided by the Frauenhofer Institut [1] you can hum parts of a song and the algo tries to find the appropriate song title and album for you. Great! Ok. You need to be able to have at least the melody in mind and of course, some talent to sing that part. musicline.de is providing the interface [2]. I succeeded with the first try singing Clocks [3] by Coldplay [4]. Below the entire list of results found on behalf of my humming...
1. Clocks Coldplay
2. Vergiftet Delay, Jan
3. L B 4 Amour Toujours Agostino, Gigi D'
4. This Feeling Kid Q
5. Makin' Some Noise Petty, Tom & The Heartbreakers
6. Knockin' On Heavens Door Guns N' Roses
7. 9247 Wizo
8. Forgiven Not Forgotten Corrs, The
9. Love You Inside Out Bee Gees
10. Still In Love With You
Key words: query by humming, music

[1] http://www.emt.iis.fraunhofer.de/
[2] http://www.musicline.de/de/melodiesuche
[3] http://www.amazon.de/exec/obidos/clipserve/B000069AUI001005/ (RealAudio)
[4] http://www.amazon.de/exec/obidos/ASIN/B000069AUI/circlech/

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29. August 2003

Altavista toolbar
@ 19:11:26

Altavista has now a toolbar to offer [1]. A cool feature is its quick access to the bablefish translation service. It requires Microsoft Internet Explorer version 5 or later.

[1] http://www.altavista.com/toolbar/default

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16. August 2003

Microsoft dives into RFID
@ 18:40:01

Being qurious I did a search on "RFID" along the Microsoft webpages [1]. To confess; regarding the potential of that technology, there are not many entries yet (about 8 hits ), but yes, there is some activity in Redmond. Just about two month ago, Microsoft [2]
[..] announced on June 10 that it will join the Auto-ID Center, a joint venture of the Uniform Code Council (UCC) and European Article Number (EAN) International.
Microsoft gives an overview on RFID technology in an own article [3].

Auto-ID Center has been mentioned earlier [4] while talking about the EPC (Electronic Product Code). Auto-ID Center is a unique partnership between almost 100 global companies and five of the world's leading research universities.

[1] http://search.microsoft.com/search/results.aspx?qu=rfid
[2] http://microsoft.com/presspass/features/2003/jun03/06-11rfid.asp
[3] http://microsoft.com/businesssolutions/manufacturing/highlights/scm_chip.mspx
[4] http://www.circle.ch/blog/p957.html

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15. August 2003

CSS styling on RSS feeds
@ 00:54:16

The Swiss Federal Supreme Court (Bundesgericht) has moved to a more open policy concerning the publication of its decisions taken. That's about more than two years ago. There is a daily update on new decisions to be published on the Courts website [1]. Unfortunately, they do not provide any XML output or RSS feeds. That is the point, where I have been asked by some people to have a look at possibilities to come up with a solution. I can provide a cached RSS feed [2], which is legible XML by humans and of course valid RSS 0.9 for aggregators.

I came across a developer paper at Apple [3], where they give an example on how CSS styling on RSS [2] could be done. Nevertheless, it needed some more tuning to fit to my needs. As far as I could test it, it only works for RSS, not for RDF or even pie/echo/atom [4].

Having jumped that hurdle, I was looking around for yet another RSS feed aggregator and found an alpha version of a quite amazing solution being realized as OpenSource project. The reader is called FeedReader [5] and runs on Windows 95/98/2000 and most probably on XP.

Unfortunately Java JRE 1.4 made some troubles on my system, so I am stuck to 1.3 and that is finally the reason, why I could no have a go on Newsmonster, which is said to be an RSS news reader plug-in for Mozilla [6]; there is a Free and a Pro version.

[1] http://www.bger.ch
[2] http://circle.ch/media/?type=rss&channel=bger
[3] http://developer.apple.com/internet/css/xmltransformations.html
[4] http://diveintomark.org/archives/2003/08/05/atom02
[5] http://feedreader.sourceforge.net
[6] http://www.newsmonster.org

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14. August 2003

Instant Windows in days of worms
@ 19:10:03

Just come from reading Georgs [1] post on a crashed Windows XP after having applied an RPC due to some worm virus prevention issues. Maybe that smaller Windows 98 version ( at about 5MB) is the right hack, to come up with a newly set up OS after some few minutes [2].

[1] http://greg.abstrakt.ch/archives/000329.html
[2] http://www.etek.chalmers.se/~e8gus/nano98/

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12. August 2003

Webserver for Symbian phones
@ 22:47:23

[via http://feed.etoy.com ] VS Httpd is a tiny webserver for Symbian based mobile phones [1]. It allows e.g. access to stored images on the phone.

[1] http://my-symbian.com/7650/applications/applications.php?fldAuto=568&faq=6

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09. August 2003

Anonymous sign-up process
@ 15:34:37

[via http://bernhardseefeld.ch ] Have you been asked to leave your email at a sign-up process for no obvious reason? Mailinator might give you a hand then [1].

[1] http://www.mailinator.com

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08. August 2003

Bluetooth Protocol Stack for Linux
@ 15:31:01

Affix is a Bluetooth Protocol Stack for Linux developed by Nokia Research Center in Helsinki and released under GPL [1]. It supports a wide range of USB and serial dongles, PDA Bluetooth devices and PCMCIA cards [2].

[1] http://affix.sourceforge.net
[2] http://affix.sourceforge.net/hardware.shtml

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Theme Editor for T68 / T610
@ 15:26:29

The themes of the SonyEricsson phones e.g. T68 and T610 can be modified. A theme file (.thm) is a tarred xml file with images. There is a nice solution for Windows [1] and one for Linux [2]. There is also an editor for Mac OS X [3].

[1] http://members.lycos.co.uk/themecreator/
[2] http://www.thai.net/gnulinuxt68i/default.htm
[3] http://homepage.mac.com/tobiaslidskog/T68ThemeEdit/

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06. August 2003

Synchronizing SonyEricsson T68
@ 20:18:26

Unlike Nokia, SonyEricsson offers a software only capable to synchronize data with Microsoft Outlook. After having surfed around for quite a while, I found the floAt’s [Mobile Agent] for Windows [1]. It saves the T68 data in the CSV format; a recommended step just before a firmware upgrade e.g.

[1] http://www.eflame.com/fma/

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23. July 2003

GPRS upload transmission performance
@ 14:31:00

Roger and myself were discussing differences in the transmission rate using General Packet Radio Service (GPRS) [1]. While my Ericsson T68 takes about one minute to upload an image of the size 320x240 - approx. 15kB to 20kB - Roger only had a bit more than a minute with an image sized 640x480 at about 50kB to 60kB [2]. Roger uses a Nokia 3650. So based on those values I reflected on the reasons for tha latency of my phone. An image at the size of 50kB lasts about four minutes to upload with my current setup. So, what are the reasons for such enormous differencies?

a) The Phones (Ericsson, Nokia, Motorola etc. )
b) The Transmission Standard (GPRS, HSCSD etc. )
c) The Telcos (Swisscom, Sunrise, Orange et.al. )

Roger does not have the same Telco as I have; so my first thought was, that it is simply a question of the provider. Your experiences, facts and comments on that topic are kindly welcome.

[1] http://www.cs.hut.fi/~hhk/GPRS/gprs_index.html
[2] http://blog.bitflux.ch/p1182.html

Update:
Chregu pointed me to a posting [3] where it is stated, that the down- and upload performance actually depends on the phone. That is still not satisfactory since the weak upload rate is at about 12 kbps (about 1.5kB/s ) which is still five times higher than the rate the T68 reaches (20kB/60s is approx. 0.33kB/s). Maybe it is too hot for maths these days.

Furthermore attached images will be usually encoded by base64 and therefore increase the size by about 30%; this of course for both the phones.

[3] http: //groups.google.ch/groups?q=max+kb/s+gprs

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17. July 2003

Java for SonyEricsson T68i
@ 12:03:11

There is running a petition for an upgrade of the SonyEricsson T68i upgrade to enable Java [1]; the T610 has it [2].

[1] http://www.petitiononline.com/8520/petition.html
[2] http://www.sonyericsson.com/ch/spg.jsp?template=PS1&R=1&B=ie&PID=10055&LM=PSM_V

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16. July 2003

Location based API
@ 16:47:20

As recently [1] arguing for a way to get geo information out of the mobile phone based on standard technologies like WAP and boradcasting services, Gregor [2] just pointed me to a Nokia article [3] on JavaOne technologies at present and in future to be implemented in mobile devices.
The main element of this package is a location provider that delivers the device's current location to the application. [..] This API not only will enable "what's near me" restaurant services, but also could be the basis of some cool games.
[1] http://www.circle.ch/blog/p970.html
[2] http://greg.abstrakt.ch/archives/000278.html
[3] http://www.forum.nokia.com/mobile_java_technology

Update:
Just found that site [4] via the "Related Links" engine:
The Alternis Location Mediation System (LMS) allows mobile network operators to develop and offer personalised, private, billable applications and services with no adverse effect on network performance or quality.
[4] http://www.alternis.com/overview.php

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10. July 2003

ascii video live streaming
@ 21:25:14

HasciiCam [1] makes it possible to have live ascii video on the web. It captures video from a tv card and renders it into ascii [2], formatting the output into an html page with a refresh tag or in a live ascii window or in a simple text file as well, giving the possiblity to anybody that has a bttv card, a linux box and a cheap modem line to show a live asciivideo feed that can be browsable without any need for plugin, java etc.

[1] http://ascii.dyne.org
[2] http://ascii.dyne.org/live-screenz.html

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Electronic Product Code (EPC)
@ 14:12:33

The Electronic Product Code (EPC) [1] is the next generation Universal Product Code (UPC), which one might know as Barcode. Recently confidential papers [2] have been made public that originally came from the EPC lobbyist Auto-ID [3]. Today I found yet another thread at ./ [4] on privacy concerns related to supply chains mostly realized with RFID [5].

This technology needs to be discussed. RFID offers lots of advantages compared to a simple barcode. Starting from here, RFID transponders can basically cover the same functionality as barcodes but depending on the integrated features or algorithm within such a chip there is more to come. RFID chips e.g. can not only carry a serial number but also memory like ROM or EEPROM to read or read/write data to the chip.

Since most of these chips are passive and have no internal power supply they do nothing unless they are asked for. So you need to have a reader or a basestation that emits energy via radio waves and simultaneously communicates with a single or multiple transponder chips. Common frequencies are 125kHz and 13,56MHz. There are trends to other, mostly higher frequencies though.

Having that technical information in the back of one's mind it is kind of obvious, that if such systems want to be successfull in a global spectrum, it cries for standardization. Communication protocols and chip specification need to be based on common sense. If an Italian teacher talks to German pupils, they will not understand each other unless they find a compromise.

So privacy concerns are legitimate if such a uniformed techonlogy will spread globally. And to come back to the barcode, it is hardly to see why this should not happen.

[1] http://common.ziffdavisinternet.com/download/0/1653/p106.pdf
[2] http://quintessenz.org/cgi-bin/index?funktion=view&id=000100002644
[3] http://yro.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=70503&cid=6402887
[4] http://www.autoidcenter.org
[5] http://transpondernews.com

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07. July 2003

Linux on the Xbox games console without a mod chip
@ 23:13:34

According to an article on zdnet [1] a group of Xbox security people found a way to launch Linux [2] on the Xbox without mechanically modifying it beforehand. The problem with the Xbox is, that it only runs software that is signed with a key by Microsoft. For those who like to see how Linux actually runs on the Xbox can visit their booth at the Linux Tag 2003 next weekend in Karlsruhe [3].

[1] http://www.zdnet.com.au/newstech/security/story/0,2000048600,20275810,00.htm
[2] http://xbox-linux.sourceforge.net
[3] http://www.linuxtag.org

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25. June 2003

Metakit - efficient embedded database library
@ 14:58:00

Metakit [1] is an embeddable database engine which runs on dozens of platforms, including Unix, Windows, and Macintosh. There are language bindings to use this C++ library from Tcl and Python. Download Metakit here [2].

[1] http://www.equi4.com/10
[2] http://www.equi4.com/pub/mk/

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24. June 2003

Sony FSV-PGX1 Portable File Server
@ 10:31:27

Joi Ito [1] just got his first Sony FSV-PGX1 [2] Portable File Server. It's a little linux box that can run on batteries, which has a 20G harddisk; 802.11b is built in.

[1] http://joi.ito.com/archives/2003/06/21/sony_fsvpgx1_portable_file_server.html
[2] http://www.golem.de/0302/23833.html

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19. June 2003

Open Wiki for IIS
@ 22:59:13

Open Wiki [1] offers the post-it note of the web. A quick and easy way to post your thoughts to the web from anywhere and retrievable from anywhere. Open Wiki runs in IIS using ASP. It was first launched in September 2001. It gives much more power over the Wiki interface through XML stylesheets.

[1] http://www.openwiki.com

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23. May 2003

Radio ID chips may track banknotes
@ 22:41:03

[via slashdot.org, 1] RFID is fascinating and today I read about the idea of embed such chips with antennas in banknotes. As with the Euro, this might become a solution.
Businesses finds it hard to judge a note's authenticity, as current equipment cannot tell between bogus currency and old notes with worn-out security marks. Among the security features in the current euro are threads visible under ultraviolet light. [..] The main objective is to determine the authenticity of money and to stop counterfeits [..] [2]

So watch the RFID builders stocks. Unfortunately I do not own the patent [2].

[1] http://slashdot.org/articles/03/05/23/1347204.shtml?tid=126&tid=98&tid=99
[2] http://news.com.com/2100-1019_3-1009155.html
[3] http://l2.espacenet.com/dips/viewer?PN=WO0054209&CY=ch&LG=en&DB=EPD

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28. April 2003

Infineon might settle in Switzerland
@ 13:37:31

Read that one on NZZ online [1]; that it has been at least considered to move the administration of Infineon - the domicile respectively - to Switzerland. It seems like the market does not take this statement as too sexy [2].

[1] http://nzz.ch/2003/04/28/wi/page-newzzDF266C15-12.html
[2] http://finfox.nzz.ch/s/markets_quotedetail.xhtml?symbol=IFX.ETR

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26. April 2003

Back to the roots of CGI
@ 21:15:25

Recently I went back to the the CGI [1] (common gateway interface) definition and early scripting solutions with DOS batch scripting and tried to create an XML output.
@ECHO OFF
echo Content-Type: text/xml
echo.
echo ^<?xml version="1.0" ?^>
echo ^<!-- This is a simple DOS batch files handling ENV and GET VARS //--^>
echo ^<!-- File: cgi-1.bat //--^>
echo ^<item^>
echo ^<title^>Let's give an title here^</title^>
echo ^<description^>Some descritpion goes here.^</description^>
echo ^<link^>http://example.com/p740.html^</link^>
echo ^<querystring^>%QUERY_STRING%^</querystring^>
echo ^<requestmethod^>%REQUEST_METHOD%^</requestmethod^>
echo ^</item^>
exit
The file move to "/cgi-bin" runs perfectly on Tiny [2].

[1] http://hoohoo.ncsa.uiuc.edu/cgi/
[2] http://www.ritlabs.com/tinyweb/

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08. April 2003

Linux on Xbox - running without hardware fix
@ 23:35:35

As read on xbox-linux [1] they found a solution to install Linux via a game; it is all about buffer overflow.

[1] http://xbox-linux.sourceforge.net

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21. March 2003

Run PHP, Apache and MySQL from a CD-ROM
@ 11:50:34

Having a full working demo of an online application on a CD-ROM could sometimes be quite handy. There is at least one I know that exists, that is Microweb bringing a webserver with Perl, PHP and MySQL [1]. While reading about mysqlembedded I came across that posting [2] in the MySQL mailinglist.

So David Shield [3] has written a VB wrapper for handling apache, PHP and MySQL providing the source with the words
"... whatsoever - use it, change it, sell it, give it away, swap it for chocolate cookies - I don not care!".

There is also an approach with Borland C++ builder discussing the API to mysqlembedded [4].

[1] http://www.indigostar.com/microweb.htm
[2] http://marc.theaimsgroup.com/?l=mysql-win32&m=103176361132101&w=2
[3] http://www.broadowlersystems.co.uk/democd
[4] http://lfe.developpez.com/BCBmySQL/

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15. March 2003

Making bootable CDs
@ 15:02:24

Bart's way to make bootable CD-ROMs for PCs [1].

[1] http://www.nu2.nu/bootablecd/

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13. March 2003

SQLite - Embeddable SQL Database Engine
@ 17:57:17

SQLite is an Embeddable SQL Database Engine [1] and offers already a PHP extension [2]. Even if it has some limitations, there are at least already Subselects available. See the most simple example:


[aloha]# sqlite test.db
SQLite version 2.8.0
Enter ".help" for instructions
sqlite> create table tbl1(one varchar(10), two smallint);
sqlite> insert into tbl1 values('hello!',10);
sqlite> insert into tbl1 values('goodbye', 20);
sqlite> select * from tbl1;
hello!|10
goodbye|20
sqlite>


[1] http://www.hwaci.com/sw/sqlite
[2] http://sf.net/projects/sqlite-php

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Npgsql adopted in the Mono Class Library
@ 09:42:45

Mono [1] is "... an effort to create an open source implementation of the .NET Development Framework." The Npgsql Development Team [2] announced, that Npgsql (the .NET Data Provider for PostgreSQL) stable sources are part of the Mono Class Library cvs codebase [3].

[1] http://www.go-mono.org
[2] http://www.postgresql.com/news.php?NewsID=124
[3] http://cvs.hispalinux.es/cgi-bin/cvsweb/mono/?cvsroot=mono

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04. March 2003

Webserver on a Fly
@ 12:01:26

[via slashdot, 0] We had that earlier [1], but this is reduced spyware - could be an applicaton, couldn't it? - to the max [2][3].

[0] http://slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=03/03/04/0442212
[1] http://www.circle.ch/blog/p488.html
[2] http://www.conceptlab.com/fly/
[3] http://www.fairchildsemi.com/pfPrint/AC/ACE1101.html

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22. February 2003

Complicated world
@ 11:55:52

I feel like "kind of back online" today. Since Monday, I am offline with cablecom [1], since they dropped my MAC address in their database. Calling them the day after did not help. It is now Saturday and they still did not manage it to bring the connection up. So this post comes through an old-fashioned 33k modem, which I still kept somewehere - and I know now why I kept it.
What I actually wanted to post on Monday was an image of a banner, that I found Sunday, just after the big anti-war demo. It gives a bit an impression of how delicate and difficult, or rather complicated the world actually is [2].

Not always easy.

[1] http://www.cablecom.ch
[2] http://dict.leo.org/?search=boycott

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11. February 2003

FASTY - faster typing for disabled persons
@ 15:33:02

The objective of FASTY [1][2] is to create an efficient predictive typing program for most European languages. FASTY will assist motor-, speech-, learning- and language-impaired persons to produce texts faster, with less physical/cognitive load, and with better spelling and grammar.

[1] http://dbs.cordis.lu/fep-cgi/srchidadb?ACTION=D&CALLER=PROJ_IST&QF_EP_RPG=IST-2000-25420
[2] http://www.fortec.tuwien.ac.at/reha.e/projects/fasty/english/

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10. October 2002

iPic - World's Smallest Webserver
@ 12:00:00

The single chip computer in the above picture runs the iPic web-server, the world's tiniest implementation of a TCP/IP stack and a HTTP web-server [1]. It runs on a 8-pin Microchip 12C509 with 512 words of program ROM [2].


(Photo courtesy of Stephen Bannasch)

Also dated back to 1999, some applications will come in focus as you might want to read some application notes [3]. A glance at the file structure is available too [4].

[1] http://www-ccs.cs.umass.edu/~shri/iPic/fs/
[2] http://google.ch/search?sitesearch=microchip.com&q=12C509
[3] http://www-ccs.cs.umass.edu/~shri/iPic/fs/iPic-AN02.pdf
[4] http://www-ccs.cs.umass.edu/~shri/iPic/fs/layout.html

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21. May 2002

Diesel engine for Piper PA 28 and Cessna 172 series
@ 12:00:00

A new diesel engine has been certified for Piper- and Cessna-like airplanes. The fantastic thing about this engine is its comparably low fuel consumption. http://www.thielert.com/de/aviation/engines.htm

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