OMG! I’ve got pwnd. By the interwebz.

Wednesday, November 16th, 2016 | Gadgets, Insights, Misc | 1 Comment

I saw this random add on Facebook, some 5 piece Star Wars canvas depicting Lord Vader. Loved it. Honestly, I love personalized ads, as they show me stuff I really like.

Lord Vader Canvas

This time I fell for a fraud. It seemed legit, I guess, there was PayPal to pay, free worldwide shipping (this should have rung a bell already) and 32.99 USD seemed a good deal.

Bought and paid October 1st.


Contacted seller November 6th.

Hi there, I am still waiting for my “STARWARS 5 PIECE CANVAS LIMITED EDITION”. Purchased at first of October.

Is there anything wrong?


Never got a reply.

Double checked the website November 16th.



Okay, seems I was to naive to trust in this bargain. Contacted PayPal, hope I will get my money back.

So, please, if the offer looks the least dodgy think twice. It can happen, even to old online veterans. When in doubt use a service like PayPal who might give you another layer of buyer protection.

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HDMI colour space – a crooked bastard!

Thursday, November 7th, 2013 | Gadgets, Insights, Misc, Tech-savvy | No Comments

One would think that hooking up a device to a TV using a HDMI cable would automagically result in a perfect picture. Digital, 1080p full HD, state of the art, out-of-the-box. That’s not true. I recently encountered shitty display quality problems that originated from a faulty HDMI setup.

First, the problem: sometimes black was more like a gray matter, sometimes dark details simply vanished into sludge. I did hate my telly so much for its shitty display quality that I sold it for a few dimes and got myself a new one. But guess what, the problem persisted…

After more investigation on the matter I came across the fact, that there are different colour ranges in different HDMI standards and one handles the range from e.g. black to white from 0 to 255, the other from 16 to 235. This made me think. In case I had a mismatch of these standards, and let’s say my media player sends a lot of dark gray values that range from 0 to 16 and the receiver simply omits all these information and starts with pure black at 16, it’s natural my dark details got lost. Or, the other way around, my media player starts at 16 with pure black while my telly thinks that 16 already is a dark gray, as it starts with black being 0.

So, sending full range and displaying limited range will result in dark areas that are to light and light areas that are to dark.

Sending limited range and displaying full range will underexpose blacks and overexpose whites.

Here is an example (I simply altered the source and target colour ranges with Gimp):

Nature LimitedFull Nature Original Nature FullLimited

The differences may seem subtle (or YOUR display isn’t properly calibrated), but believe me, I love to crawl in dark dungeons on my PS3 or watch horror flicks that make heavy use of the darker parts of the colour palette. My telly looked like the picture to the right all the time and it drove me to sell it for “bad black levels” (just compare the tree’s trunk in the pictures and you will see the difference). Silly me. A perfect gradient illustrates the problem even more:

Gradient LimitedFull Gradient Original Gradient FullLimited

Now, that I have my systems set up right I enjoy using it so much more than before. So, give setting up your expensive home cinema a try, it doesn’t make sense to spend thousands of bucks on the equip and not setting it up properly.

As far as I understand the problem, as long as you have the sending and the receiving device configured the same you are good to go.

One last thought: I hate all the fancy tech shit becoming more and more “easy” to set up yet the problems that come along constantly increase. I never experienced problems with an old VCR or a Super Nintendo – that’s what I call “plug’n’play” 🙂 To set up a modern home entertainment system you need to really dig into it to do it right. Maybe I should look at it from a Dark Souls perspective. It’s a pain in the arse, but as soon as you’re done it’s very very rewarding.

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Drumming like Animal!!
(This time multiple exclamation marks are just fine)

Tuesday, April 16th, 2013 | Activities, Misc, Music | No Comments

Tonight, my drum-kit got the worst beating so far. Animal would have approved.

I broke a stick on my mesh head snare for heaven’s sake! It was worth it though. (Guess I hit the rim at some point?!)

Props go to The Machine’s “Caterpillar’s Mushroom“. Dim the light, lean back and enjoy a pretty intense roller-coaster ride.

The take-off at 13:00 just blows my mind!

If you need a lift home after that I suggest you try Hills’ Master Sleeps. Farewell!

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Everyday Life’s Insights I – Cold Blow-Drying

Monday, September 10th, 2012 | Insights, Misc | No Comments

Kommt man verschwitzt nach Hause ist es angenehm den Föhn auf “kalt” zu stellen und auf sich zu richten. Klingt komisch? Ist aber so. Duschen *könnte* man auch, jedoch schwitzt man nach Ausdauersport auch nach, soll heißen direkt Duschen bringt nur bedingt was. Wenn ich nicht mehr transpiriere geh ich duschen … versprochen.

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Goodbye Mint, Hello Fedora

Tuesday, July 31st, 2012 | Misc | No Comments

Seems Mint 13 finally finished me. I have to say that Mint 10 was the last “flawless” version of Mint (I’ve been there since Mint 4 “Daryna”). Right now I am still using Mint 12 on my home machine, tried 13 on my business laptop – and decided that I don’t want to take part in the desktop environment wars any more. Again, the multi-monitor setup in Mint was a pain and trying to preserve the Gnome 2 / XP way of working is a huge step back IMHO. I am okay with Gnome 3 (didn’t try Unity yet) and I was looking for a “pure” unfiddled Linux experience. After checking some major distros I decided to give Fedora 17 a more serious go and I have to say I did not regret it. “Mint” Linux, no clutter, bleeding edge (wow, finally including a mulit-monitor setup that seems to work). You could argue that setting up the system takes longer, because Fedora does not ship with things like proper multimedia support or propitiatory software like Flash, VirtualBox or Skype. I think that’s pretty kewl. You should understand why mp3 playback is not available out-of-the-box and that you have to explicitly install it at your own will.

Anyway, right now I am compiling a few Fedora 17 post installation tasks that will show there’s a bit more to do (no Gnome 3 extension installed by default – very pure indeed 🙂 ), stay tuned.

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Five toys I’d like to call my own

Monday, February 27th, 2012 | Gadgets, Misc, Tech-savvy | 5 Comments

“Honey, we pretty much have everything now …”

I just have to share my thoughts on things I’d like to have yet cannot purchase for reasons such as money, time, sanity and the like. › Continue reading

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A Studio Ghibli homage

Thursday, February 2nd, 2012 | Activities, Misc, Movies | 1 Comment

Today I invited Totoro to stay.

Ever since we moved into our “new” flat a few years ago we could not decide what to do with our living room walls. I suggested that we could try to draw the Studio Ghibli logo – namely Totoro – next to the TV. The other side of the telly got decorated with the beautiful postcards that come with the German Blu-ray edition of Arietty and Laputa. Now I feel like a true fanboy 🙂

And this is how I will enjoy my films from now on:

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Official announcement: midlife crisis

Tuesday, December 6th, 2011 | Misc | No Comments

Yesterday I had lunch with my wife and talked to her about how the things I do on a daily basis seem to make (no) sense, and that people should dare to do what they really want more often than what they think other people expect of them. Looked like a bad case of the Mondays, but it felt like my (first) midlife crisis to me! 😯

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The mind is a miraculous thing indeed

Wednesday, November 16th, 2011 | Misc, Tech-savvy | No Comments

Sometimes you wake up from a dream and wonder where the mind is getting all these crazy ideas from. A few days ago I experienced something even more freaky – subconscious ideas surfacing! What? Well, just imagine telling yourself a joke and still laughing at the punch line. Doesn’t make sense, because if you tell the joke you should know the outcome, right? Okay, here is the story:

A colleague of mine brought some Google Android give-away stickers from W-JAX. I took the black one with the woman, man, and Android:

As if dreaming about that sticker is not freaky enough I dreamt that I wanted to present this sticker as a present to a friend of mine, let’s call him Moe:

“Here Moe, I got a sticker for you”
“Oh, that’s nice, but unfortunately the LEDs on my keyboard don’t work”

And I was like “What?” and then I realized, that if applied to a keyboard the LEDs of Num, Caps and Scroll lock are supposed to illuminate the eyes of these little buggers. What a neat idea. Only problem: these stickers are not supposed to work as keyboard LED attire in the real world. My mind made it up without telling my consciousness. This still sounds paradox to me. Anybody reading this experienced in fixing minds?! 😉

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Shrinking a bloated VirtualBox disk image

Sunday, October 9th, 2011 | Misc, Tech-savvy | No Comments

I like to keep my house clean. I was always puzzled by ever growing vdis (VirtualBox disk images). Just today I did a clean install of WinXP Home SP1 and installed SP3 afterwards (a pity the online photo printing software my wife uses is only available for Windoze). After getting rid of everything that bloated my VM in the first place I was still sitting on a 2.6 Gig image. Seemed a tiny bit too much, so I looked for a way to make sure the vdi only holds real data, not “empty” space.

The trick I am about to show you made me decrease the real size of my vdi from 2.6 to 1.5 Gig. That’s pretty neat and you should be able to free up even more space if you already used your VM quite heavily (more fragmented thus more space available to optimize).

It’s simple: first defrag your virtual host’s file system, second make sure the empty space is really empty (I used nullfile 1.2). After that, use VirtualBox‘s command line tool VBoxManage to recompress the image:

VirtualBox 3.x:

VBoxManage modifyvdi WinXP.vdi compact

VirtualBox 4.x:

VBoxManage modifyhd --compact WinXP.vdi

That’s it. This trick may be rather old, yet helped me save some bytes. Not that I actually needed that extra Gig, but hey, why should I waste it? 🙂