Published on Tue 13 of Jan, 2015
This novel is from 2008 and only the universe knows why I didn't notice it back then. It was purely by accident that I stumbled upon this now. When playing around with the fabulous FBReader on my phone I needed a book for testing and this one was shown in the featured downloads section. Boy, didn't I expect the ride I had ahead!

It's labelled as a book for 'Juvenile & Young Adults' and fittingly we start with our protagonist W1n5t0n sitting in school and being bored by it. It is quickly established though that he is a real nerd and I had many good laughs during the first two chapters. Then I made the mistake of deciding to read just one more chapter before going to bed. And that chapter made me so angry, I couldn't sleep. It made me angry because it felt so real. All the idiocy and hypocrisy of the way the USA fights its so-called "War on Terror" collapsed onto me. I just had to continue reading to get over this hump and see W1n5t0n fight back. And then I didn't put the book down until I was finished with the first half of it and just had to rest my eyes.

I inhaled the second half of the book the next evening.

If you are not a geek, it is well worth reading. You will learn a lot about computing, security and privacy in today's world. And if you are a geek, it is still worth reading. Most of the technology in the book is existent today and nothing new for me, but it was a real pleasure seeing Doctorow explain it in layman's terms. And then see W1n5t0n, meanwhile calling himself M1k3y, use it to overthrow his oppressors. If you always wondered what I mean by 'digital guerilla', then you should definitely read this book as M1k3y is a proper one!

The book left me behind a little empty and exhausted. There was a lot of suffering in the victory. But let's face it: reality is tough and this book isn't going to lie to you. And when I turned the last page, there was an afterword from one of my big heroes and the smile came back to my face immediately.

I am sad not to know any young adult I could give the book to. It is such essential reading in my opinion. Luckily there is a great system that Cory set up to donate this book to schools and libraries and that's what I'm gonna do. You should download and read this book to arrive at the same conclusion as me. And while you are doing that, I will be reading the sequel Homeland, which is the book that you can see Edward Snowden packing into his bag in Laura Poitras' film CitizenFour.

Published on Sat 29 of Mar, 2014

I reinstalled my laptop with Linux Mint Debian Edition (LMDE) mainly because if I have to install an NSA backdoor called Skype for doing business, then the finely tuned Gentoo system is worthless and I'd rather save the time. LMDE is lovely and a recommendable choice for any Linux user. Turned out though that having an (almost) fully functioning KeePass installation prevents you from installing Skype, as that binary trojan horse can't work with one of the latest system libraries. I am not ready to compromise on the excellent KeePass, so after countless hours of trying to install Skype I resorted to an old plan of mine: put that sucker into a virtual machine! Only place it can be trusted at least a bit.

And who would have thought that this sledgehammer cracks the nut so elegantly?! I wanted the application to be seamlessly integrated into the desktop, a bit like in Qubes OS. And even this was not much of a problem with the usual Linux on-board means. On boot a minimal Debian Wheezy with only the needed libraries to start Skype is being auto-started as a libvirt KVM machine. Then on the laptop I have a script to start Skype like this:

 ssh -X amette@skype.local -C PULSE_LATENCY_MSEC=30 skype & 

The -X in the ssh command allows X11 Forwarding so that Skype gets rendered on the local desktop just like any other application. PULSE_LATENCY_MSEC=30 is a fix for a well known Skype bug with Pulseaudio. And as LMDE uses Pulseaudio by default, the X11 Forwarding also takes care of forwarding audio which is no problem over the virtual network device. Make sure that your virtual machine can resolve the host name of your desktop.

Having a dedicated machine for Skype might seem overkill, but the installation is issue-free as you can install everything the way Skype likes it. So it works perfectly, doesn't interfere with your system and the NSA can go snoop on my minimal Debian. What's not to like? :)

EDIT: Yes, I am fully aware that one can break out of a virtual machine. And if anyone has a ready-made exploit for that, then it's the NSA. This project started from not being able to install Skype and KeePass2 on the same machine and as KeePass2 was more important to me, Skype went into the virtual machine. Never the less thank you for all the e-mails I got from pure strangers - it is great to see that people care! :)

EDIT 2: I switched away from LMDE as it is not really a rolling release. There hasn't been a proper upgrade of packages in months despite Heartbleed and whatnot. This is not acceptable for the main machine of a SysAdmin. So now I am using Debian Stable and believe it or not: this is the first Debian Desktop installation of my life and I am very satisfied with it.
I also switched away from KeePass2. It might be a great tool on Windows, but running with Mono on Linux the UI could suck a golf ball through a garden hose. Also the format of the password database is vulnerable to attacks. Do the right thing and use something that was designed by a pro: PWSafe.

Published on Mon 07 of Oct, 2013


The BurninBerlin YoYo Crew went to Leipzig to compete at the German Masters from 5.-6. October 2013 and with lots of success, I'd say! Two titles were defended and many other good positions achieved. But lets take this step by step. The most amazing part is the community! When I arrived, I knew that three of my eight compulsory tricks won't work. At the meet-up on the first evening I was trying Eli Hops and it didn't take long and I had a couple of little people standing around me asking: "Do you need help with the trick? Would you like me to give you some tips?" I probably heard every different variation of trying the trick from more people than I can count to finally get a grip on it. I still can't do them properly on cue, but on stage they worked out on the first try. And with such a good crew behind my back, we were able to make this Sports Class preliminary almost an exciting event! ;)

So I quite unexpectedly got past my compulsory tricks and got to do a freestyle, which was basically letting myself flow as much as possible as I just don't know enough tricks to really fill two minutes. Even nicer then to hear from those twelve-year-old kids that have fingers faster than my brain that that they liked my freestyle. Ended up making the top ten, so that's something!

BurninBerlin was able to virtually own the 5A Freehand (counterweight instead of attached to finger) and Team Masters though! Both titles went to Berlin for the second time in a row. Making Bao repeated double champion and Tina and Luzi arguably the first girls to win a title in German YoYo history. Another strong contender is Team Class mastermind Gesine, who choreographed the winning BurninBerlin shows of the last years. This year she did a special trick and created the Mixed Pickles team from scratch one and a half hours before the show to take second place. Rainer, Conan, her and me never once practiced the whole freestyle before or even with real music for everyone on the team to hear. But we had a show and glitter! Yes, you read that right: I got to play another freestyle and that BurninBerlin/North Rhine-Westphalia collabo made me runner-up in the Team Class! w00t! :)

I think my personal highlight though was Schmidti in the 1A Masters Class. I liked his preliminary freestyle very much already. Great choice of tunes, played nicely close to the beat, very enjoyable to watch. He then walked right through to fifth place in the most crowded class of them all on his first attendance at the Masters! If you're into YoYoing, check out his tutorials - they are just the same relaxed style as his freestyles. His brother got into 2A YoYoing, that's looping with two YoYos at the same time. From what I saw him playing just for fun this year, I'm really looking forward to his first freestyle the next year!

On the picture you see the winning BurninBerlin Team in the front row with the North-Rhine Westphalia guys, Gesine and me in the back. Our team's certificate is missing from the picture cause I was overwhelmed and couldn't be bothered with holding it up. And Conan from NRW is wearing a BurninBerlinOpen T-Shirt... I guess we'll meet again! ;)

Published on Thu 01 of Aug, 2013

From April 11-22 2013 there was the longest TikiFest ever, spreading over two locations with more than 20 participants. Wickedly good experience even though I wasn't on top of my game. Yet it helped again to get myself more connected to the Tiki community. I now know faces and personalities belonging to IRC handles that have been close collaborators for over seven years - and it was a blast! It enabled me to sync up with the mindset of the most proficient contributors to Tiki. And it was a lovely time with like-minded people.

Did my first Geocaching ever. Discovered Canada this way and also by just travelling around. I really do like Canada and it is a lovely nation to be in. I'll be back for sure and if it's just for finally getting a train ride there (mine was cancelled and I had to take the replacement bus service - which is a "discovering Canada" story of its own).

Thanks to everyone who made this possible! :)

Pictures to follow.

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Born, went to school, started hacking on free software, did some major high availability sysadmin work in between, now back to coding PHP again and having fun with it... :) -- Long CV

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