Dec 29, 2011

Top Moblie Apps of 2011

As I'm already blogging on my mobile phone I thought that maybe some are interested in what Apps I use on my phones. Also at the end of next year I'm able to compare and see what Apps are still there. So here's my list of important Apps:
  • Facebook
  • Google+
  • Dropbox
  • Skype
  • Google Maps
  • WhatsApp
  • Viber
  • Blogger
  • Google Docs
  • YouTube
  • Shazam
  • Google Reader
  • Gmail
  • Fancy Widgets
  • Barcode Scanner
  • Wifi Analyzer
  • OkCupid
  • Juwels Deluxe
  • Geizhals (local price comparison)
  • Inside 3 (from my service provider)
Furthermore, I've lots of apps I installed, but don't really use. These are the ones I really like and use. On a new phone I would install these first. Oh and those are all free Apps.

Dec 28, 2011

My Mobile Phone Choice

Choosing the right mobile phone is a time consuming task. In the end it all depends on how you plan to use your phone. Here a list of the most important things I care about on my mobile:
  • make phone calls and send text messages
  • a usable webbrowser
  • a good selection of useful Apps
  • capable of replacing a mp3 player
  • being able to take quick pictures
  • a map application (not necessary route planning)
  • replace any USB Pendrive (being able to mount it on every device)
  • capable of sharing an Internet connection (USB, optionally WiFi)
  • use it as a remote for other devices (DLNA and similar things)

Making phone calls and writing text messages is a pretty obvious one. Also a decent webbrowser supporting current standards is an important feature. Useful Apps to add features and customize the phone to ones likening is great. Apps like Shazaam, Grooveshark, Dropbox, WhatsApp, Skype, Facebook, aso. are all great to have on your phone. Usually I settle around 40 Apps on my current Android mobile. Especially Dropbox is a very essential App to me as it makes exchanging files between devices very easy.

I like to have a Map around. It has proven to be a handy thing at times. I don't care much about what provider it is of. I usually prefer Google Maps as they have a lot of additional data. But it's not as important to me. I just want it to show my current position and the streetnames to find something. In a big city this is a very useful thing.

I want my phone to replace other devices I used to carry around with me. So replacing an MP3 player is an obvious thing. It doesn't necessarily need to be the best player but it should get the job done in some meaningful way. For example I'm constantly confused by the Windows Phone 7 Player. I need at least double the time to get together a playlist of what I want than on Androids default player. The WP7 player is capable of playing what I want but I find it rather confusing to get there.

An other device my phone needs to replace is a quick shooter for pictures. Usually current generation phones are good enough for my taste. I just like to take pictures of funny things or something I want to remember or post on a social network to share with others. For serious Pictures I rather take a better Camera thats likely more expensive than my phone anyway.

Yet another device I want to replace is a Thumbdrive. My phone should be able to be used as one. This has already proven a very good feature multiple times to me. Every phone that isn't able to do this is out already. I usually don't need much space, a GB or two should be enough for this.

As my phone already has Internet access I want it to be able to share that with my other devices. I usually use it over USB on my Netbook. Most of the time this is enough but it's still nice to be able to also share the Internet over Wifi. I don't want to carry around yet another thing so I have Internet on my Netbook. Like right now I'm sitting in a Train on my Netbook and using the Internet of my mobile phone to write this. And I'm listening to music played by my phone as well. It's great what's already possible and I can't wait for what's next.

As more and more devices support DLNA its really handy to have a remote for them right in your pocket. I'm looking closely at the DLNA features on all my new media devices.

So with these features OS choice is very slim. Windows Phone 7 and iOS aren't capable to deliver the features I want without some great effort like Jailbreaking on iOS. Android is the only bigger choice left. WebOS as well as MeeGo would be nice but just don't have the needed traction and with that support. Hardware wise I'm against taking a device with your contract as these aren't as cheap as they seem. And the lockin you get is even worse. Most of the time you pay more in the end. So Carriers get more money from you and have you locked to them. Great for them, bad for you most of the time.

I think in the future Smartphones will also start to replace other devices we have. Like your computer at home. It just needs a dock where the monitor, mouse and keyboard are connected. On-the-go you just need a cheap Netbook shell to place your phone in. As our phones get more powerful this will be enough for most people. Want to watch a movie? Your DLNA phone will stream it and your DLNA capable projector or TV will make a cinema experience out of it. It's gonna be great :)

Dec 13, 2011

Epic Humble Indie Bundle 4

Wohoo! Finally Super Meat Boy =) ... waited for that to appear on the bundle. The rest is awesome as well! A true must buy ...

Dec 11, 2011

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Playing a lot of Skyrim lately. Great game in most parts. Shame that its so focused on consoles. The UI and Controls are horrible for a PC game. Especially the UI is very inconsistent and not usable with only Mouse or only Keyboard. But the world is so awesome. Love how the Dragons behave and look. Very well done.

I experience lots of crashes (not just the game, BSOD) and from what I read I'm far from the only one. Looks like they get worse the further I play. The content department seems to be great but the engine writers should really improve QA. They already released 4+ patches for the game and there are still lots of big issues left. Shame that such a great title is brought down by such problems.

Dec 1, 2011

Testplayed SWTOR!

So have been part of the recent testing weekend of SWTOR (Star Wars: The Old Republic). Was a lot of fun and I'm considering buying it. Some first impressions:

  • very WoW (World of Warcraft) like (most stuff works very much like in WoW). In my opinion this actually is a very good thing. They took the right things out of WoW and improved lots of problematic parts.
  • like the different way conversations with NPCs work (especially in a group, except the waiting)
  • the graphic engine still seems to have a lots of problems (triangles flickering, lots of things not visible from one angle but there from an other). Maybe it's my ATI card? Newest drivers from Nov. are installed.
  • the companion is a great thing to have! really enjoyed that feature especially as I played a healer.
  • I enjoyed the Star Wars universe more than expected (originally I planned to rather play Guild Wars 2 instead, not sure anymore)
  • I fear that they may made it too simple to be a longtime motivating game (WoW is getting more and more there). Problem is that then only new content counts as skill is not required.
  • ship battles are a fun change to the usual gameplay.
  • moving around is so time consuming with all the big space stations and cities. Even faster movement in later levels doesn't help much but is a good improvement. Why are most rooms so big and corridors so long! I just wanna get my stuff done, not run around for ages.
  • the game is one hell of a long (=big 25+GB) download.
  • got stuck a lot on some maps (hat to kill myself to get free from it). And that for no apparent reason on plain surfaces. (especially on Taris, not so much in city like areas).
  • if you check a new item if its better than what you have on its well done. But if you want to compare it with your companions stuff its hard. Both should be displayed side by side if the companion is active.
I hope they will fix a few of the problems will launch day. But I think it's already a very good start. Especially the graphical problems where very annoying and sometimes caused headache on my side. Sometimes stuff flickers like crazy.

In three days I managed to reach level 20 with one character and level 8 with an other one. Hope to do that again soon.

And where is the Linux Version!!! .. that would be awesome =)

Nov 24, 2011

Gabe Zichermann - Gamification

Great talk! Games are the future, no way around that ...

Nov 19, 2011

libGDX backend for SWT (using LWJGL)

Badlogic Games • View topic - Backend for SWT (using LWJGL)

I created a libGDX backend for SWT. I want to use this to create some Eclipse integrated Editors for my custom 2D engine. Hope this will get included in libGDX some day. But first need to finish that upcoming game ...

Nov 17, 2011

Desura for Linux

Desura for Linux Is Finally Released

Great news, now good games for everyone! ~63 Games for Linux to purchase and a few good free ones as well.

Nov 10, 2011

Automagic packaging for Ubuntu

Mere Code: Automagic packaging of binary apps for Ubuntu

This is great news! I've been looking for an easy way to package applications. Packaging a trivial app by hand is soooo time consuming. Handling this over the Ubuntu Developer Portal is just a great idea. Hope they still preserve the "use-it-locally" for other people and applications. A small GUI for it and I'm more than happy.

Nov 6, 2011

Titan Attacks trailer

Love those retro puppygames games. Awesome style ..

Nov 5, 2011

Eclipse Xtend language

Eclipse Xtend
OMG! this is so great. So many good features and all on top of Java. Really nice done. Installing the tools right now. :)

Nov 1, 2011

How Microsoft kills cool projects

How Microsoft kills cool projects « Scott Berkun
Simple thing: You just don't go to a big company if you want to innovate. They usually don't like new things.

Scott Berku is, as usual, an interesting read.

The Humble Voxatron Debut

The Humble Voxatron Debut (pay what you want and help charity)
like, like, great games again.

Oct 31, 2011

Ubuntu on phones, tablets, TV’s & smart screens

Mark Shuttleworth » Ubuntu on phones, tablets, TV’s and smart screens everywhere
would love to see that possibility. But first we would need the freedom to install what we want on hardware we pay for. Long way to go ...

UDS: Mark Shuttleworth - Ubuntu 12.04 & Beyond

UDS: Mark Shuttleworth - Plans for Ubuntu 12.04 & Beyond
Can't wait for Ubuntu 12.04 ><'. I have five computers patiently waiting for that LTS release :). This is going to be a great news week for me ^^ ..

Oct 28, 2011

Bios: Secure Boot

Canonical Blog - White Paper: Secure Boot impact on Linux
good to see some positive action regarding this topic. I build my computers myself so I wouldn't want this anyway. Buying a new Card just to notice at home that it will not work because some stupid key is missing. Just a bad and restricting idea. Again something that helps the big ones and hinders the little ones.

Oct 24, 2011

Ubuntu 11.10 - dislikes

After using the final Ubuntu 11.10 release for some time and liking it quite a bit. I present the things that annoy me so far:
  • for some reason Banshee doesn't work properly at all. Most of the time it freezes on start. If it starts it crashes after a few songs are played. In short the experience is horrible. So horrible that I stopped to listen to music on my computer for now. I removed all Banshee config files I could find within my home directory, just to make sure there isn't something old left over which causes this. Didn't help at all. I did install Rhythmbox which seems to work better but crashes after a few songs as well. Maybe the crash is related to some backend stuff not working properly. Maybe I make the effort and spend some time to setup XMMS2 and look how that goes. This is a mayor problem for me as I usually listen to music constantly when I'm on my computer.
  • Desura updates often (which is a good thing for a beta) and it already improved some but still crashes a lot. Also I can't get some games to install ("Gathering Information" stands there and nothing happens). Annoying but I'm sure they manage to get stable for the LTS.
  • The first time I open up the dash after login I can't write anything. Minor thing but a bit annoying. If I close it and open it again everything is fine.
  • Sorting of "the things I want" in dash is sometimes a bit funny. I often start Skype out of the dash and still it's not the first item most of the time. Other Items before Skype I didn't start at all. That's annoying as I want to press the Super key, type sky and press enter. Can't do that right now. If this isn't fixed for the LTS I probably need to install something like GnomeDo again.
  • Skype still sometimes has weird audio. Didn't call anybody so far so don't know how well that will work. But especially on start the Skype sound is very distorted.
  • Some apps tend to steal focus which is very annoying. Especially the Update Manager. I start it, press check and minimize all to continue my work. After some time it puts itself in the foreground and I'm interrupted. Very annoying and if I remember right not the only app that does this.
  • As the keyring requests the password after login it sometimes doesn't have the focus, or the focus is stolen by something else. This happens often as I turn on my computer (it's on auto-login) and go away for some time. After I get back it's finished booting and is on the desktop but I can't just enter the password. I have to first click on the dialog. Sometimes it even looks focused visually but I just can't type until I click somewhere on the window.
  • I'm still annoyed from time to time by the global menu. But it has improved. I don't like it but I can live with it. The removed visual clutter is nice, behavior is still not optimal or consistent across applications.
  • Just like last time I still need to manually edit the Pulseaudio config file and set "enable-lfe-remixing = yes" for my subwoofer to work with normal stereo sound (like music playback). This is annoying and the only thing I need to edit a config file for (which I still hate to do).
  • Right click on a dash icon reveals a menu. I can't select an item the first time. Need to open the menu a second time to actually use it. It doesn't even highlight the hovered entry the first time. Seems like it doesn't take any input. Strange thing ...
  • Skype windows often behave strangely. They look focused but I can't write. The don't look focused but I am able to write. It seems to have trouble with focused/unfocused and minimized/normal states. Whats present and what is visually shown often doesn't fit together. Actually, it doesn't fit more often than it does.
They really have fixed a lot of my old dislikes in this release. Maybe that's why I like it much more. Still a lot of Skype problems, but I gave up on good Skype integration years ago. Skype is usable but far from a good experience.

I have high hopes for the next LTS that most of these will be gone with it. Can't wait ...

Oct 2, 2011

Ubuntu 11.10 - first impressions

Just like half a year ago I will write some first impressions on the soon to be released new Ubuntu. I did already play with it for some time on my Dell netbook. Yesterday I installed Ubuntu 11.10 on my main machine. So far I'm feeling pretty good about it. Looks like a decent improvement over the (not so good) last release.

Here a list of things that catched my attention in this release (I'll post a separate entry on things I didn't like after the release is out as things still may change):
  • I like the Unity UI improvements and general polish a lot. Looks and behaves better everywhere.
  • The rearrangements and changes to the indicators are great.
  • Somehow the UI feels a lot snappier now. This makes Unity much more enjoyable to use.
  • The new login screen looks great. And my machine is really fast in getting there.
  • PulseAudio improvements are awesome! (or what ever causes my Skype sound to work without me having to edit config files)
  • Some of the new config tools are great and I like where this will go in the future. "Online Accounts", "Color", "Wacom Graphics Tablet", ... It feels like a more professional and dedicated work machine.
  • Audio volume changes are accompanied by a subtle sound now. Very Mac like. A great feature to have.
  • As a developer I like to see new, long overdue, versions of development tools and libraries. Newest Mono (!!) as well as the current Eclipse release are all in the repositories. Awesome! Especially Mono has always been a black spot for me on Ubuntu. Now I'm just missing the newest version of Editra, an awesome text editor.
  • My Wacom Tablet, Webcam and Android Phone seem to work as expected. No configuration or modifications needed. I still like that :).
  • The new "share my installed applications with my other machines" thing in the software center is great. Used that already.
  • Skype works out-of-the-box without any config modifications needed. My sound problems are gone. Furthermore, it looks like Skype has a indicator now. This is awesome! (No old, ugly systray icons anymore)
  • Since a few days I run the Desura beta client. Steam like game management on linux. I added my Humble Bundle games to my account. ~20 great Games :). Also they have some free games in there as well. Right now they have 48 solid Linux games in there. The client is very betaisch so you might want to wait a bit before you try it. I hope they manage to fix that in time as it will complement the next LTS release greatly. This would make one hell of an LTS.
  • I think this is the first release where Samba (Windows File Sharing) did work directly after installation. Until now I always had to install additional configuration tools and make it work from there. Now they should just share that "Public" folder by default (or ask if you want to) after installation :). What else it it good for anyway ...
  • Also, I don't seem to have the Flash problems on Youtube anymore. With the last Ubuntu release sometimes Youtube videos won't load correctly (only audio, no UI only black rectangle where Video should be). This didn't happen so far.
In my opinion this is a much better and more usable release than the last one. Ubuntu 11.04 gave me different unexpected problems (random freezes, hangs on shutdown, flash problems) besides the early Unity UI. Most problems seem to be gone so far. Still needs some time to be sure.

I'm confident that the next LTS release (Ubuntu 12.04) will be a awesome Unity release. Another six months of polish and extension of current features will make one great desktop. Looking forward to that ...

Sep 27, 2011

PulseAudio Notes 1.0 - Software/PulseAudio/Notes/1.0

Nice to see they got to version 1.0. Echo cancellation will be very handy :). Can't wait for the features that will be implemented from now on. Especially the proper headphone/mic detection is pretty basic stuff that's just expected.

Behold! The Ubuntu Developer Portal! » Behold! The Ubuntu Developer Portal!

finally! nice, very nice, indeed :).

Sep 15, 2011

Intel Aims For OpenGL 3.0 Driver By Year's End

[Phoronix] Intel Aims For Open-Source OpenGL 3.0 Driver By Year's End

I would love to see this, as well as the S3TC Patent tingy. I can imagine that this would make wines live easyer as well.

Aug 15, 2011

Corporate desktops and Ubuntu

Mark Shuttleworth » Blog Archive » Corporate desktops and Ubuntu

as always, a interesting and good read.

I would say that Austria is quit conservative when it comes to a lot of things. Software and processes implemented in companies are often very short signed and are somehow missing the big picture. But in the end we likely have to follow anyway.

Google bids For Motorola

Google Goes Soup-To-Nuts On Android With Bid For Motorola | TechCrunch

wow! thats big news. That could really turn troubled android around into the right tracks. Also I'm sure they have some advanced dev tools for android that could be added to the SDK now. Very very cool indeed

Aug 11, 2011

The patent system isn’t broken - we are

The patent system isn’t broken — we are | This is my next...

very interesting (and long) read on patents. Letting patents only be valid for 3-5 years would be nice. But doesn't it (from time to time at least) take longer for a patent to be granted than that? I think I heard of patents where it took 7 years? In my opinion thats a bigger problem as times move fast. If a system can be used for 7 years and suddenly you got to pay license fees, thats bad, very bad. Also I think within 7 years its likely that someone else comes up with the same thing. Anyway, right now its a bad situation no matter which way you turn it. It needs to change, hopefully soon ...

Update: more on that:
ignore the code: It's Broken.

Aug 8, 2011

What’s the Fastest Web Browser in the “Real World”?

What’s the Fastest Web Browser in the “Real World?” Chrome. | TechCrunch

a lot of cool things around today :). Personally I don't really care so much about speed anymore. Most are more than fast enough for my taste.

More on Software Patents

ignore the code: More on Software Patents

good well known points there .. nothing more to say.

Indie Bundle 3 Devs on Linux problems

[Phoronix] Ryan Gordon Criticizes Open-Source Drivers Again

I don't think it's in wide practice, but I'm a huge fan of an idea that Douglas Coupland put forth in "Microserfs": Every member of the team uses a different operating system, so you're always portable (and if there's a problem, you know immediately).

Just what I always say. If you create a project thats suppost to be multi-platform you need to live that. Stop using "outdated" single platform software, thats just not the future. It's like not knowing English and beeing a programmer. It just doesn't work in the long run.

Aug 2, 2011

Intellectual property: Patents against prosperity

Intellectual property: Patents against prosperity | The Economist

A glimpse of hope. There seem to be people in America that realize the problem. At least on the Patent side.

Aug 1, 2011

Diablo 3 DRM (Constant Internet Connection)

Diablo 3 DRM Requires Constant Internet Connection – Until You Crack It, Of Course | TechCrunch

Damn, have been waiting for this game for so long and now this. Well guess have to spend my time and money on other games (shouldn't Tourchlight 2 be out this year?)

Jul 15, 2011

Bauhaus and Free Software

The Phrygian Cap

hmmm ... comparing the Free Software movement to Bauhaus in Architecture. Interesting indeed. I'm a fan of both ..

Novacut Pro Video Editor

Novacut Pro Video Editor by Novacut Team — Kickstarter

would be great if this project got the money. They have some great ideas. Editing collaborative in real-time sounds like a lot of fun to me.

Jul 5, 2011

Apparatus and the Amazon Appstore

Apparatus will be pulled from Amazon Appstore - News - Bithack AB

Besides for a few big developers the Amazon Appstor seems not such a good place. I have jet to read a good blog post from a developer on the Amazon Appstore.

Jun 29, 2011

Google+ Design

The Google+ project: real life sharing, rethought for the web.

This looks very promising. Sadly I don't have any access to it at the moment. The only thing that I notice is the nice design that's slowly coming out. The Google Search page looks very very nice now. I like the new Top Bar a lot more than the old one.

I just wish Google would integrate things more into Blogger. This would have been nice with Buzz but didn't really happen there. It should be made easy to create a new Blogger post from something in your Feed. Also I would love to see a way to post a daily/weekly/monthly summary on Blogger from Buzz/Twitter/.. At least Chrome has a nice extension to create a post from what ever website you are on. I would rather like this to be more like on Facebook when you post a link into the stream. It would make this look so much nicer. I'm still hoping that this will happen one day.

Jun 28, 2011

Boost Team's Intelligence? Recruit Women

Want to Boost Your Team's Intelligence? Recruit More Women (and More Diversely)

I've been saying this for years now. I always like to have some women on a team. The end result just is much better. They just have such a different view on things. Sadly they are so rare in my work field.

Jun 23, 2011

Everything is a Remix

Everything is a Remix

Cool short videos, inspiring ...

MeeGo and Nokia

Editorial: Dear Nokia, you cannot be serious!

sad to see that this would have turned out as a good OS after all.

Did Nokia jump ship too early? After spending some quality time with the N9, I'd say so.

Jun 21, 2011

Nokia N9 UI hands-on demo

Nice MeeGo device. Would love to have one of those :). Such a shame that Nokia discontinued these devices.

Jun 13, 2011

Jun 12, 2011

Drupal 7 admin pages slow

So for some time I've been running Drupal 7 for my private webpage. It has been slow as hell on the admin pages. The "frontend" side works fast and without any slowdown. There are others experiencing the same trouble. A lot of others it seems.

For years I've been running Drupal now and it's only since I switched to version 7 that it started to have speed problems. It has a major slowdown on all admin pages. They take sometimes 30+ seconds to load and almost every admin page uses 10+ seconds. The high times cause PHP to throw an error (Maximum execution time of 30 seconds exceeded) that some function was running too long. I constantly got these errors on admin pages. It was barely usable. I had to reload pages multiple times (often 5+ times) to finally get them to show. Each time I had to wait till the timeout came.

Furthermore the update.php page had the same problem. I couldn't update more than 2 modules for some time. Now I updated to version 7.2 and with that updated all modules to the newest versions. I wasn't able to update two of the modules. They run into this timeout even when they where the only modules which needed an update. So I desperately needed a solution for this problem as one was the views module which I need.

After a long time of seaching the net, this is what I found out and did so far:
  • It helps to disable all modules that aren't needed (of course). Especially the special modules for the admin pages like the Overlay module or the Update Manager module. These help minimally to increase page loading speeds. I did disable all non needed modules.
  • I installed the devel module to check where the problem is. This showed me that its on the PHP side and not the database.
  • There are some optimizations that can be done on the database side. I didn't do these as the database seems fast enough.
  • Someone wrote that it may be due to not finished installs of some module that messed up Drupal. This could be the case for me. I had a few "failed" upgrades of modules in the past. Uninstalling the module and reinstalling it is supposed to help. Didn't try this so far and it's hard to find the problematic modules. I'm considering a fresh install of Drupal with a new DB. Just need to have time for it and backup all the current data.
  • Another obvious solution is to increase the PHP timeout. This is what I did as the other solutions are too time consuming or don't feel "right". Edit the .htaccess file located within the drupal root directory and add a "php_value max_execution_time 90" at the end. 90 stands for 90 seconds, use what you think fits. You just need to remember that you did this the next time you update Drupal.

May 29, 2011

LAS: Fedora 15 Review

Fedora 15 Review | The Linux Action Show! | Jupiter Broadcasting

great Fedora 15 Review :D ... Got me almost to give it a try and see for myself. But then, probably too much effort needed for that ...

May 14, 2011

Building Aggressively Compatible Android Games

A good talk about compatibility on android. He talks about a lot of good points, even a few I wasn't aware of or didn't now that detailed why it works this or that way.

May 13, 2011

Google launches Chrome OS

Google launches Chrome OS, says Windows is 'torturing users'

"It's (Windows) torturing everyone in this room. It's a flawed model fundamentally. Chromebooks are a new model that doesn't put the burden of managing the computer on yourself." .. very curious where this whole thing is going to. Sounds not too bad but how does it turn out IRL?

May 12, 2011

Facebooks Secret Smear On Google

Facebook Loses Much Face In Secret Smear On Google

Starting to dislike facebook more and more. Such a shame that you can't get around it these days. Somehow it seems to get worse and worse with this company.

May 9, 2011

AMD and coreboot

An Update on coreboot | Business Blog

nice move. AMD getting more and more into opening up their code and actively supporting Open Source development.

May 8, 2011

Why The New Guy Can’t Code

Why The New Guy Can’t Code

Great, almost exactly what I think and what my experience tells me.

The fundamental problem is that the skills required to pass today’s industry-standard software interview are not the skills required to be a good software developer.

and a very good advice that is completely true:
don’t interview anyone who hasn’t accomplished anything. Ever.

For a coder that is the most important thing. I had completed dozens of private code projects as I graduated. And I still consider this very important on any other coder. If you don't write at least some code in your spare time you just never gonna be a good coder. Experience for a coder is the most important thing. People which just graduated and never wrote more than a few small sample applications are worthless need a lot of additional mentoring. And a lot of those inexperienced never really get to a point where you can call them good coders.

The startups I've worked with so far did a fairly good job there. I did apply to a bigger company once and got a email back with something in the direction of 30 questions. That was awful and had a lot of stupid useless stuff in it. I did fill it out and send it back, but my view of the company was way down from before. My motivation to work there was limited after that ..

May 6, 2011

Spielemacher in Berlin

Spielemacher in Berlin - (German)

hmm ... still a lot of money, enthusiasm and risk-taking missing around here.

How To Definitely Fix Skype Audio Distortion

I posted about my (failed) attempt to fix the Skype audio problem I am experiencing on my main machine. A nice commenter posted a link with a working solution. I republish this here so its preserved for all time (or at least till I need it again):

In home directory create a blank file name it .asoundrc, and paste it as follows {
type plug
slave {
# normal ALC883
pcm "hw:0,0"
# skype wants 24 kHz recording input,
# but ALC883 doesn’t support that.
# do a rate conversion on the fly.
rate 48000

Restart Skype!! Solution worked in Ubuntu 10.10

Source: Distortion of sound in Skype 2.2

After a restart this did work fine on my Ubuntu 11.04 with Skype Glad that this is now resolved as it's been an annoying problem.

UPDATE: With the new Skype I do not need this anymore. It even causes problems if its still there. I just deleted the file and now Skype only has some distortion on start. After its started everything sounds like it should.

Apr 25, 2011

How To Fix Skype Audio Distortion

Working Fix right here: How To Definitely Fix Skype Audio Distortion

Since I installed Ubuntu 11.04 the sound played by skype is very distorted. It's so intense that the individual sounds are almost unrecognizable. Something with skypes Pulseaudio integration just seems to be wrong. Other software on my system does work just fine. Only skype has this "problem". It's not only the sounds skype plays but also when I try to talk to someone over skype. They can understand me just fine, but I'm barely able to understand simple words. I remembered that I had this same problem a few years ago with skype. It just took mi some time to remember how I fixed it.

The fix is very simple for this. The problem seems to be that by default the ALSA PCM channel is at max (or almost there). Skype has problems with that. So to change this in Ubuntu 11.04 (and likely other versions/distributions as well) open a Terminal. Type "alsamixer" and press enter. Navigate to the bar (pressing left & right on the keyboard) where PCM is written at the bottom. This bar should go from green (bottom) to red (top). Press the down key a few times till the number just above PCM says something between 90 and 98. Then press the ESC key to exit alsamixer and close the terminal. Now try a skype call again. This should fix the problem, at least it did it for me here.

If you change the sound volume this will go back to 100 again. But don't worry. Skype will still work just fine, not sure why.

On my other systems the default 100 PCM value doesn't seem to create any problem with skype. So this may just be a difference in the hardware drivers for some soundchips.  Or something that happens with the way I installed my system. Maybe my PCM value was above 100 but that may only be shown as 100. Whatever the reason its fixed with this ...

UPDATE: After some reboots this problem seems to reappear on my machine. Will dig further :/

UPDATE2: A nice commenter pointed out the solution:

Ubuntu 11.04 with Unity - dislikes

After some days of using Ubuntu 11.04 with Unity on my main machine I present a list of the things I don't like so far.
  • The Trash as well as the Applications and Files lenses are featured to prominently in Unity. I don't event remember when I last used the Trash. Its more than enough for it to be somewhere within the filemanager. The lenses can easily be accessed over the top left ubuntu logo with just one additional click. Removing these would give more space to more important things like the apps I really use often and have pinned because of that.
  • If you set the virtual desktop size to just one desktop the Workspace Switcher should disappear automagically. Its of no use there and wastes just space. I also would like to see the switcher where the trash is now. IF the two lenses are removed and the switcher is the last part which is "mixed" with my pinned apps it would be better to separate that like the trash is now. (UPDATE: seems to disappear after a restart, nice)
  • I still think that the global menu approach is flawed by design. This is, for me at least, the case on OSX as well as in this similar approach. This just introduces new interaction problems as well as problems with different UI toolkits.
  • From time to time I still get some graphical glitches. Mostly some images missing (or are for some reason not rendered) here and there. Nothing that makes anything unusable but it looks weird and sometimes even funny. E.g. there are sometimes lines missing in the dash. Or there are sometimes white rectangles over some icons.
  • I still need to manually edit the Pulseaudio config file and set "enable-lfe-remixing = yes" for my subwoofer to work with normal stereo sound (like music playback). This is annoying and the only thing I need to edit a config file for (which I hate to do). Normal users will just wonder why the subwoofer doesn't work when they listen to music. This always gives the feel that something is broken and if you don't know what it is it's hard to find this simple fix for it. There are a lot of bug reports on this, problem seems that this is broken on some systems and enabling it by default would cause trouble for these people. There should be a checkbox in the audio preferences to simply enable and disable it.
  • Unity itself feels a bit "early". I would like it to feel more like "rock solid" just like gnome did in the past. But I guess thats expected for a first version :). This is not a "bad" point, it's more a "needs to improve" point. And I'm sure it will in future versions ...
  • As a developer I dislike that development tools are not as up-to-date as I'd like it. Mono for example or Eclipse. I keep my own copy of eclipse and just don't use mono as a result. Not a situation I like.
  • Right now I'm asked three times after each login to unlock my keyring. Don't really know why that happens. But it's annoying .. 
Thats all I can think of right now. I'm getting more and more used to Unity. With that I have to say I even like it more and more. The problems are sometimes a bit annoying but nothing that I would consider a show-stopper. 

Apr 19, 2011

Apr 18, 2011

LAS: Gnome 3 Review

Gnome 3 Review [in HD] | Jupiter Broadcasting

nice review. Don't think I can get used to all that gnome 3 goodness :/. Never got into virtual desktops, never liked them. Gonna stick with Unity for now, fits me well so far. But OSS is all about choice anyways :) ...

Apr 17, 2011

Open-sourced blueprints for civilization

Marcin Jakubowski: Open-sourced blueprints for civilization | Video on

great! ... Hope this does work well..

Mac userfriendliness » Mac userfriendliness

From time to time I have to work on a Mac and run into all kinds of "things you need to know". I sometimes wonder myself why Macs are considered userfriendly.

Hold down a “mouse” button while the machine is off. Turn it on but keep the “mouse” held down and the disk will be ejected.

WTF? How is anyone supposed to know/discover that? By randomly pressing buttons on boot till you find the right one? ...

Apr 15, 2011

Ubuntu 11.04 - first impressions

Yesterday evening I put the new Ubuntu 11.04 Beta 2 onto my main machine. Took me about an hour to get all important things back onto the system. I'm switching my main machine surprisingly late this cycle. Mostly because I'm concerned with the new Unity UI. It's new and so I don't expect it to be anything great. I think of it more as a step into the right direction. So as my main machine needs to work I decided to wait a bit longer for the switch. My netbook is running it since Alpha 2 and I usually switch my main machine at alpha 3 or the first beta. But on to my fist impressions:
  • Installation was very smooth and really very very fast. It didn't even take me an hour to get all important software back onto the system. (I usually do a clean install, just keep the home partition)
  • My ATI/AMD graphics (Radeon HD 5800 Series) card does work out-of-the-box now. So it works with the open source drivers. This has a few advantages because these support kernel mode settings. The proprietary drivers offer better 3D performance but lack in other areas. I stay with the open source ones as long as I don't have any performance issues with them. 
  • It detects now my Android handset without me needing to add a rule. I connect it and it shows up as a Android device in the developement SDK. That is great :)
  • My tablet (Wacom Bamboo Fun Pen & Touch) works now out-of-the-box. No need to compile and install the drivers myself. Also the touch part works much better now. It always has been a bit lagy and not really usable to me. Now its fast and snappy just like any other touchpad. 
  • My webcam (Logitech HD Pro Webcam C910) does work event better now. It has a much higher framerate on full HD (1920x1080) video capture (~24fps). Before it has been too slow to really be of any use.
  • The new Skype ( seems to have sound problems here. Didn't try a call but all the other sounds are very noisy and not at all like they should be. As the other audio apps work just fine I guess it's a problem with the new Skype. (UPDATE: I found a simple FIX)
  • I did change a few unity things to what I like more. I set window dodging for focus switching and activated the Shift Switcher instead of the Static Application Switcher in compiz. I also reduced the size of the launcher a bit to 42 pixel. Furthermore, I did reduce the 4 virtual desktops to just two which is enough for my taste. As most users I use them only rarely anyway.
  • I think I like the basics of Unity. There are still a lot of special case problems. As well as integration of a lot of apps is missing. I guess the next version will bring a lot more app integration with it. I almost can't wait for the next LTS release. I can imagine that Unity will be a great desktop shell by the time the next LTS arrives. All those smaller problems should hopefully be solved by then.
I am very satisfied with the working hardware part. My system is now fully working on Ubuntu without any need to install a driver. I was surprised by that and I like it a lot. Now I just need to get used to the new Unity ways of doing things. As I did use Docky for years now it shouldn't be too much effort for me :) ..

Apr 12, 2011

Apr 4, 2011

Blit Terminal (1982)

nice old video explaining how the Blit Terminal handles multitasking.

Mar 27, 2011

Why we don’t hire .NET programmers

CEO Friday: Why we don’t hire .NET programmers « Expensify Blog

very interesting point of view. "As someone who grew up using and ultimately becoming frustrated with the limitations of Microsoft tools, .." I can highly relate to that fact :). Well but the basic is always the same, choose the right tools for the task. The wrong thing to do is choosing .NET because thats what you already know. There are just many other great tools out there ..

Mar 23, 2011

Android app millionaires

Meet the Android app millionaires | Electricpig

interesting, I know all these software titles. They are good so it's good to see they also make money.

Mar 22, 2011

"Microsoft Has Become A Joke"

Drunk On Licensing Fees And Patents, Microsoft Has Become A Joke

A bit hard on MS but still a lot seems to be true. The business model just is outdated nowadays. But I guess it will still take years for MS to understand how wrong they are. With all the failed opportunities they had in the last 10 years or so. And those few success stories that where only possible by pushing hard with lots of cash. I'm not sure if when MS realizes how wrong they are that it's not already too late. Similar to Nokia, they realized that years too late as well.

Mar 18, 2011

Avoid Idea Plateaus

Scott Belsky on How to Avoid Idea Plateaus | Brain Pickings

Wow! Thats so true from my experience and I already try to do something against this.

Good idea: DEX

DEX: Debian and its derivatives, getting things done together « We'll see | Matt Zimmerman

I like that. There are a lot of different neat things in various derived projects. Ubuntu creates a lot of new things especially on the UI side (at least thats what I see from blog posts on the planet). So seeing all those changes go back to the root project is great. It's Open Source, as many people as possible should benefit from improvements made by individuals. There is no reason to duplicate effort here.

HTC phones are great

HTC make nice phones and use Ubuntu

HTC has the best phones since years. If you want an Android phone I can only recommend phones from HTC. The work great and SenseUI is awesome. I already have my second HTC phone and my next phone will be an HTC as well. So it's also nice to see that some people at HTC use Ubuntu. As a long time Ubuntu user I definitely like that.

Mar 10, 2011

Mar 1, 2011

Gnome 3 no ‘max’ & ‘min’ buttons

Gnome 3 removes ‘max’ and ‘min’ window controls – but why?

I welcome this change. I can totally understand the reasoning behind this change for Gnome 3's Shell. The linked posts are worth a read. I'm sure there are people disliking this as it is a very basic change of something that has been there for a long time. But there are nowadays just better, more intuitive ways to change the window size. And minimizing doesn't make much sense the way Gnome Shell works.

I'm still waiting for the Ubuntu button change to get justified.

Feb 26, 2011

Fully Illustrated - The Portfolio of Michael Heald

Illustration | Fully Illustrated - The Portfolio of Michael Heald

man, they produce some amazing artwork. Love the backgrounds of Stenches with the moon and the city. Great work ..

Feb 25, 2011

Nokia and open source

Nokia and open source – a trial by fire - The H Open Source: News and Features

ah yes, with open source it's ofter very tempting to reinvent the wheel. But in most cases it slows someone down and is just the wrong way. Participation and iterative improvement is key. Still a lot of people don't really get a few of the biggest benefits of OSS.

unintended Ubuntu product placement?

Recently I've noticed more and more Ubuntu hints on the internet. Like just now this Video:

A Day in the CloudFlare Office from CF Vimeo on Vimeo.

It's not like Canonical has anything to do with it. But still I tend to see it a lot on Videos like that. Mostly on technical related stuff but still I get the impression that this is a growing trend. It's like I stumble uppon them everywhere.

Feb 21, 2011

Reducing Online Noise

Recently I've been thinking a lot about all the online activities which distract me from getting some work done. Things like news sites, facebook, twitter, IMs and other things here and there. Ubuntu does a pretty good job of reducing some of this for me. It seems that this will only improve with the next version and the new Unity UI. Gnome 3 seems to try similar things. I've come to the conclusion that I want to do some of the following things:

  • Restrict my social site activity to only once or twice a day.
  • Same for news sites.
  • switch off most IMs during the day.
  • set some times where I'm 'allowed' to do that online stuff (like lunch-break, evenings)
  • make it harder to get to the pages by making them less visible

the problem with all this online activity is that I'm now used to this distraction. I'm searching for it. I seem to not be able to focus on a task for a longer period of time in front of my computer. It feels like I'm always missing something. I hate wasting time and thats why I'm so frustrated about this. I guess it's going to be hard to overcome this urge but I hope I manage to do it and finally get things done at home ...

Feb 15, 2011

MUM - Evaluation & Preperation

This is a series of blog posts where I describe the migration experience I had as I migrated my mothers computer from Windows to Ubuntu. This is the second post in this series and I created an overview post as well.

I arrived at home prepared like described in my first post. I had my netbook as well as Ubuntu 10.04 and 10.10 install images/CDs. There where still a few things unanswered. I could not remotely test the “exotic” hardware my mother owns. So I tested the two digital cameras that needed to work. I did that with my netbook that also runs Ubuntu. After getting to know the cameras I got them to work on Ubuntu without much trouble. This made me glad as I expected this to be an other major deal breaker. Now just the computers internal hardware needed to work and I was ready to go. So I took a CD and tested and started Ubuntu from disk on my mothers computer. It did work fine, no problems with the older hardware.

Software alternatives to the software my mother is used to where mostly straight forward. For the office work my mother needs to get done it was clear that's Writer would do the job. I just need to converted the two templates that my mother uses and test printed them on the printer. Most of the games my mother plays are on the Internet as Flash games or come with Ubuntu anyway. On the Internet side things stayed much the same thanks to IE not having the major share anymore. I did decide to go with Firefox as it has good integration with Ubuntu and is the default browser installed. Generally I tried to stay with the Ubuntu default software as much as possible. It should be better integrated and has a hopefully well working upgrade path in the future.

Most of this was already known to me prior to even thinking about a migration. I did a few migration attempts already in the past. So I already had some experience with this. This is why I was most concerned with the things I didn't know of. The thing is that in recent years I have been at my parents place only once or twice a year. So I missed a lot of thing my mother does on the computer. After talking with my mother I discovered that she creates photo albums using a special software. This software wasn't available for Linux. As I got to know this I feared that this would be the deal breaker I expected. Gladly I did find a few alternatives and after having a look at them I installed two on my mothers computer. I let here choose which one she liked the most.

The problem here is that users tend to forget what they actually use. Later on they say that they thought that it would “just work”. For them all this isn't important until they need it. So I told my mother multiple times how her current software doesn't work anymore. I tried to explain it to here as good as I can. I asked here multiple times for other software she may want to use. She couldn't think of any more and didn't ask me for any other software till now.

So I had an alternative for all the software my mother needed. This meant that I could go ahead and start to backup the current data on the computer and install Ubuntu on it. I made a default install and left pretty much everything on default. I just enabled the additional repositories and updated everything to be current. I created the needed templates for I installed Skype as well as a lot of codecs, Flash as well as other basic stuff. I also installed TeamViewer 6 so I could later on remotely solve problems if they should occur. I already used it once now and it works very well.

This is what I did with just a few bits left out. Like the CD/DVD drives that didn't work well anymore, was painful and time consuming but I could solve it after finding the problems source. I'm very positively surprised about the fact how well it turned out. I expected more problems and much more user dissatisfaction. But more on that in my next post.

Feb 13, 2011

MUM - Current Status

This is a series of blog posts where I describe the migration experience I had as I migrated my mothers computer from Windows to Ubuntu. This is the first post in this series and I created an overview post as well.

One very important step in the migration is to know exactly the current status of your target. This includes how and what software the user needs as well as what hardware needs to be supported. Especially very special software as well as exotic hardware need to be taken care of.

So my mother is running Windows XP on her old computer (about 5 to 6 years old hardware). Every time I'm at my parents place she complains about the computer not working well and that I should do something against it. So she wasn't enjoying the Windows experience that much anyway. I told here that I can reinstall the computer. She noted that it would be the same again within a year. She wasn't happy with that. I suggested Ubuntu as an alternative to here. She decided that she wants to give Ubuntu a try. For me it was important that my mother wanned to try it. I didn't like to force it on here. Of course I told here that the software will be different and that she needs to get used to it first. I tried to explain to here as good as I can what the consequences of this move are.

A very important part of my mothers computer usage is writing everything needed for my fathers company. Most of the time thats writing bills to customers for the work my fathers has done. My father doesn't know a lot about computers and never uses them. I've never seen him even touch a running one. She uses Microsoft Word for that. There are two important templates for her work. One for the letter header and one for the envelopes. They needed to be there on Ubuntu as well.

Until recently my sisters did still live with my parents. So they used the computer as well. This has always been the major problem with earlier migration attempts. My sisters like to play current computer games from time to time. And these usually don't work on Linux. So a migration to Linux was not possible. I did try it for some time with a dual-boot setup but they never booted to Linux so it was useless. This wasn't the case now as most of them don't live at home anymore. They have their own computers now. My mother only plays causal games like Mahjong or Tetris. These should be simple to get to run in some form on Ubuntu.

Apart from these my mother uses the Internet which shouldn't make much trouble these days with the fall of IE. Important things tend to work on all major browsers nowadays. I did also know that I only had a few days for the migration. This was my biggest concern as I would have preferred a slower migration to ease the transition. But I live far away from my parents (about a 7h train ride) and can't just stop by for a weekend to fix things. I tried to make sure I had alternatives for all software my mother used prior to even being there. I tried to prepare myself as good as possible for it. I took my netbook (running Ubuntu) as well as installation CDs with me. Especially my netbook would come in handy if I should be stuck on a problem without a running computer or working Internet connection.

This is the situation that existed. My mother wanned me to fix the “slowness” of her computer somehow and I gave here two ways to proceed. The usual, already often done, way of completely reinstalling the computer. She did know that within no time it would be just the same again. Or a migration to Ubuntu so she could try how that worked for her. She decided to go for Ubuntu and I was prepared to help her on the way.

Mother Ubuntu Migration (MUM) - Overview

I've been toying with the Idea to convert my Mothers old computer into an Ubuntu machine for some time. At the end of 2010 I finally did it. Here you find a few blogposts describing how I did it and what my experience was. This is far from an ideal Migration as my time was short. Migration should happen slowly so the users have time to adapt to the new ways things work. I didn't have the time for that. So this migration was very sudden to my mother, not in that she didn't know I was doing it but that she had different software from on day to the other. I will splint my experience in the following posts:

1. MUM - Current Status
2. MUM - Evaluation & Preperation
3. MUM - Finishing Up & Improvements

Feb 11, 2011

Nokia and Microsoft

The Elopocalypse: Nokia chooses Microsoft | Be the signal

Basically what I think about the whole thing is stated in this post.

In my opinion a very bad long term decision for Nokia. I really wonder how much the Ex-MS CEO had influenced this. The thing is it's just bad for Nokia as a company but a really great thing for Microsoft. I think its uncommon for a company to do good things for an other company without getting a good value back. And I really don't see much value coming from MS. Basically Nokia has outsourced its OS development to MS. So Nokia has given up on a major part of the company.

And all the other now incompatible projects they have running. I just don't see where this turns out good for Nokia in 5 to 10 years from now. I see the benefit shortterm as Meego just isn't ready and they are loosing a lot of market share. In my opinion they should have killed off symbian much sooner and direct that cash to meego. They didn't push hard enough for any platform and now they are somewhere in the middle and need to jump ship to something that works already. And I think jumping ship is never a good thing to do. We will see how this turns out ...

Never Pay For Online Dating

Why You Should Never Pay For Online Dating « OkTrends

such a shame that did buy them. No one should ever pay for a dating site that works like this.

Feb 7, 2011

Back from a break

A lot has happened recently and I haven't really been in the mood to post here. Started to regularly go to the gym. Sitting in front of a computer all day at work and doing nothing for your body just isn't a good idea. I feel much better already which also affects my mood positively. I'm a Grooveshark VIP user now as well. They offer a nice service, but more on that in a later post.

I got myself a new phone. A HTC HD2 originally running WinMo 6.5 but I'm running Android 2.3.1 on it right now. Good phone with a big screen, much better to surf the net than my old HTC Hero running Android 2.1. Most of my friends and family got themselves new phones as well. All Android and Windows Phone 7 devices. I guess smartphones are now very mainstream.

I put Ubuntu on my mothers computer and she seems to like it very much so far. This gave me confidence that Ubuntu really is far enough for an average user to use daily. I have high hopes for the 11.10 release of Ubuntu. I think the upcoming 11.04 release with the new Unity UI is great but Unity needs a bit more time to mature. I hope that with 11.10 release Unity will truly unleash its power to the masses.

more later ...