Wild camping – my maiden voyage.

Tuesday, December 3rd, 2013 | Activities, Gadgets, Photography, Sites | No Comments

I have recently upgraded my camping gear, so did a friend of mine, and now it’s pretty much winter proof (no more freezing while sleeping at Freak Valley‘s windy camp site!). We both wanted to test drive our stuff in the wild, so we figured a night’s out around the freezing point should do the trick. Weather forecast said it was gonna be dry with the lowest temperature around nill. Perfect!

The site was nice, mossy ground yet slightly slopy and the highway is in pretty close proximity which resulted in faint constant noise. Nevertheless the trip was awesome, we had clear skies and a few beers in the wild. I guess this wasn’t the last time, even though the occasional Brokeback Mountain jokes were on us in the office the next day. Ahh, sweet envy ­čśŤ

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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” ­čÖé 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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Three letter words taken from “Game of Thrones”

Wednesday, July 17th, 2013 | Books, Insights, Language, Quirks, Reviews, Vocabulary | No Comments

Reading “Game of Thrones” I realized I couldn’t translate a lot of three letter words. Most long words are phonetic or somehow make sense of their own, but three letters without a hint … try it yourself, how many of the following words can you translate? (click on a word to see the translation)

maw
to cog
pus
sap
sod
pup
to jet
ire
to err
fib

Now that you know the hard three letter words go and get yourself a copy of the brilliant Song of Ice and Fire series.

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Donnie Darko. A tiny declaration of love.

Tuesday, May 14th, 2013 | Movies, Reviews | 1 Comment

Donnie Darko PosterI just listened to Gary Jules’s “Mad World” and it made me realize how much I adore “Donnie Darko“. It’s one of my perfect 10 ratings on IMDb and its in IMDB’s Top 250.

You can go suck a fuck!

I first saw it attending the Fantasy Filmfest of 2001 in Cologne. It was one of the rare moments when cinema just delivered. The curtains opened and from the opening scene on I was hooked and taken on a strange yet beautiful trip.

28 days, 6 hours, 42 minutes, 12 seconds. That is when the world will end.

We follow Donnie, a troubled teenager, that embarks on a journey of imagination, love, fear and -last but not least- time travel and a monstrous rabbit. The atmosphere changes from dreamy to disturbing at will and for some reason yet unknown to me I could relate to it a lot.

I promise that one day, everything’s gonna be better for you.

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Ein Br├Âtchen in Zons. Lecker.

Friday, May 3rd, 2013 | Activities, Photography | No Comments

So, das sch├Âne Wetter Anfang Mai musste ich ausnutzen – und welchen sch├Âneren Grund gibt es nach Zons zu fahren, als sich ein deftiges Wurstbr├Âtchen am Rhein zu snacken? ­čśŤ

Track@RunKeeper (Post in German, because “Wurstbr├Âtchen” is such a nice word)

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May Day 2013 – biking Sch├Âller / Sambatrasse

Wednesday, May 1st, 2013 | Activities, Photography | No Comments

Just a random trip, this time off my beaten tracks. Wanted to check out the lime works and see for myself that this is hardly a place to fancy a swim – unfortunately. I also wanted to check out Sch├Âller because I’ve been to Kindergarten there. No recollections though.

For the complete route and stats visit my RunKeeper profile.

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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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Automatically create genre playlists of your music collection

Sunday, March 3rd, 2013 | Linux, Tech-savvy | No Comments

This script will create playlists based on the tags of your mp3 and flac files. Prerequisites: id3v2/metaflac command line tool (sudo apt-get install id3v2 metaflac) and tagged mp3/flac files.

Note: The id3v2 command only works up to version 2.3 of the id3v2 spec (which is pretty much the default), so this script will not work on v2.4 files. It seems a lot of people still use 2.3 as 2.4 does not give a lot of advantages and 2.3 is way more compliant with mp3 playback devices. I just came across this issue because I use EasyTag for tagging and this tool writes v2.4 by default. After setting EasyTag’s prefs to v2.3 I was good to go ­čÖé

#!/bin/bash
 
# set extraction command chain for each file type
EXTMP3="id3v2 -l \"_FILE\" | sed -n \"s/TCON (Content type): \(.*\) (.*)/\1/p\""
EXTFLAC="metaflac --show-tag=GENRE \"_FILE\" | sed -n \"s/GENRE=\(.*\)/\1/p\""
 
# delete old playlists
rm *.m3u
 
function createPlaylist {
  while IFS= read -r -d '' FILE; do
    echo Processing \"$FILE\"
    GENRE=`eval ${2/_FILE/$FILE}`
    if [ "$GENRE" ]
      then
        echo "$FILE" >> "$GENRE.m3u"
    fi
    echo "$FILE" >> "All.m3u"
  done < <(find . -name "*.$1" -print0 | sort -z)
}
 
createPlaylist mp3 "$EXTMP3"
createPlaylist flac "$EXTFLAC"

Basically we loop over all files and extract the genre’s nice name using a file type specific chain of commands. If a genre is found the file name is appended to the playlist that is named like the genre itself. Additionally an “All” playlist is created that holds every file found, even the ones that have no genre set.

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A weekend in Brighton and London

Sunday, February 24th, 2013 | Activities, Sites | No Comments

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“fast” JIRA and Confluence setup on a small VPS

Sunday, January 6th, 2013 | Linux, Tech-savvy | 5 Comments

I recently stumbled upon my old “fast firewalling for developers with iptables” blog and also read the comment (yeah, one!) asking how to go on from here, maybe set up JIRA and Confluence from Atlassian really fast. So here we go. We will install JIRA and Confluence using MySQL as the database, allowing only HTTPS connections. Bear in mind that this is not an enterprise setup, it’s again targeted at individuals who want to run these tools in a non-critical private small VPS environment maybe to evaluate the tools or collaborate with a friend. This is going to be easy and straightforward, no fancy admin stuff, no over the top security, simply getting the stuff up and running.
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