The How and What and Why of 3D Conversion


I have recently worked for a very large cooperation on a very large scale project that involves magicians and sorcerers and a fantasy world. This film was suppose to go to the big screen - like the really really big screen - in 3D - now it will only be in 2D. Sorry for the mangled description I am still under a somewhat restricting Non Disclosure Agreement.

Let me be assured that this particular movie franchise is so big that any misstep is costing the production company likely a couple million bucks. The decision to not release the movie in 3D was made not very long before its release after a lot of very good work has gone into the conversion already. Yes conversion. I am not here to spill the beans on how this all happened on the management side - I also can not talk to detailed about how their particular approach to conversion was done. I just want to answer a couple of more general questions on 2D to 3D conversions. I feel that this is public knowledge and can be talked about (looks over his shoulder to see if an army of lawyers is on his back).

The first question I get asked over and over again is why a movie that big has not been shot in 3D in the first place - as most conversions that have been done looked horrible where eye hurting and generally not good for the general experience (Alice In Wonderland for example).
I have asked this question myself in the team over and over again. There is one simple answer I got back: its not easier for an visual fx heavy film to get produced entirely in 3D then it is for the film to be converted to 3D. Some even said - its more expensive and more difficult to have a complete 3D pipeline from shoot to delivery then a conversion.
Why is that? For one shooting 3D is not perfect. There are pretty much 3 different ways to shoot 3D and all have a number of problems. You have parallel - having two cameras (or lenses like the new panasonic camera) side by side total parallel. Now for wide shots with no near foreground this works ok - but forget any and all closeup action - you will get out of the movie theater cross eyed. You can mimic what happens here by holding a finger very close to your eyes in the middle of the head.
That can be enhance by actually angling the camera a bit toward each other (making them crosseyed) converging on the point of interest. Since this is all just tricking our eyes believing we see a 3D picture when in fact we only see a 2D picture on the screen this opens a can of worms. What happens with far distance background, how can one quickly and precisly enough change the angles of both camera bodies to adjust for a character coming from far back to the front. Another thing to consider for both techniques is that the further you spread the cameras apart the deeper the image will become - its really interesting how just half a millimeter can totally make the picture unbelievable and break the 3D illusion or just make things look comical.
The third option is the mirror rig. You have two cameras at an angle of 90 degrees to each other (A 3D Rig overview) the image is split between left and right eye by a polarizing mirror. While this approach is more precise as the angulation of both cameras can be set more finely and is mostly used for closeups it has one big drawback - if you polarize you loose reflections, meaning that one eye will not have reflection in it that then later in post have to be painstakingly manually added again (or have the viewer get a headache cause both eyes aint matching the same picture).
Preciseness is the key to all of these approaches - its crazy how our brain actually works in 3D and its not easely fooled or if it is and its not perfectly correct you will have an audience that walks out and takes 10 aspirins and likely never come back to a 3D movie in their lifetime.
Now couple this with no lens on this planet beeing the exact same, every camera can have a billion settings that makes the pictures different, skew of the camera sensors, filters, dust, windgusts, water (like rain) etc etc etc. and you start getting an idea of what can actually go wrong in shooting. On top of all that there is not soooo extremely much you can do with the picture ones its shot. There is a $8000 dollar plugin that lets you adjust some stuff (and help you a tiny bit with the VFX in the next paragraph) but its not magic and it surely is not a cure all.

On top of these problems comes the next. Doing visual effects for 2D is hard enough - especially if you are working on films that are finalized in 4k (4096Ũ3072 pixels or the like depending on widescreen format used). You trick you way around to make cables invisible, paint back hairs where the green screen didnīt work, manually draw masks 24 frames for every second of film to make a robot stand behind a person not in front, adjust colors to perfection so things look right and fit together. Now in 3D you have two pictures that pretty much are the same but arenīt. If you think its just a "copy over" one side to the other and then thats it forget about it. Talking to a fellow compositor who has worked on a 3D movie the full scope came to light - he said (and I might add he is pure genius young compositor - way better then me) - he needs TEN times as much time to finish a shot then he would in 2D - ugh.
Summing that up - the reason why a lot of films are still rather converted from 2D to 3D have to do with no real good shooting options on set, highly difficult compositing and not much leverage to adjust depth after it was shot. Making it more expensive (and not necessarily better) to shoot then to convert.

So how does a conversion work. Well. I think I can say that much its A LOT of manual labour. You basically build the scene that you want to convert roughly in 3D cut out the objects in your scene based on depth then project those objects onto their respective 3d object then render the whole thing from a camera that is of to the side. That leaves you with an occlusion edge that then has to be mostly manually filled in and corrected. Thats mostly a job of making up what would be behind objects. Crazy stuff really do one pixel mistake in this and it all stops working, giving your headaches or looking just outright laughable - mostly its headache so. Bad conversions have hair of characters sticking not on their head but to the back wall, see through object looking like cardboard, weird depth changes when one object switches with another through depth (like two people dancing and swiveling around).

Pros of a conversion: Its cheaper with FX heavy stuff - the director and his team (of stereographers) can adjust depth on the fly in the editing room - a HUGE plus to make the movie coherent (like so your eyes donīt have to constantly adjust to different depth in every scene) and just adjust individual scenes to make them look perfect or to isolate one character or object in 3D space. (this is the thing where 3D shines from a filmmaker perspective)

Do I like 3D? I watched avatar and I didnīt think it has merit. Really thought that its a neat gimmick but nothing more. Having worked on it and stared at a single scene for quite some time and made small adjustments here and there and looked at other scenes I do
think yes as a filmmakers tool it has its place across all genres of film. I actually think that "talking heads" movies can benefit from it almost more then action movies with fast edits. While the latter will have the or other "shock" moment it will break your head with all these fast edits that change depth and your eyes trying to adjust (but having nothing to adjust because they are looking at a 2d image after all) every half second. With talking heads movies you can isolate characters (in a very minimal way but its beautiful actually) far big landscapes will evoke more emotions then ever before and you will be more immersed in the feeling of the film in general. (now I still like the gimmick at points but its really not where 3D really shines).

Oh and donīt judge the 3D conversion thing on movies like Alice in Wonderland or Saw 3D cause that have been bad conversions - it can look much much better - I have seen it and I think next year there will be some very good conversions coming. Even the biggest FX houses still struggling to put up a pipeline for 3D that works - its all tough and eats up money for breakfast like no other new technology and eats manpower for lunch and directors for dinner.

If you have any other question I can try to answer or ask people more in the know then me - just leave a comment.


HTML5 Video - Introduction and Commentary on Video Codecs

There is a raging discussion out there on the web about the upcoming HTML5 standard and the inclusion of the video tag. Not about the tag itself but about the codec used by videos played inside that tag.
There is a firestorm by free software advocates that want the only codec to be used inside this tag to be the -largely- patent free open source Theora Codec - the other side wants the ubiquitously used high quality H264 video codec. I think I can weigh into that debate. If you donīt want to or know already about codecs, containers and its history jump below to "my take on the codec war".

I am a content producer have been following video on the web since the very very beginning, have advised firms how to handle video on the web, have struggled countless of hours trying to find the best solution to put video on the web and have so far refused to use flash to display video on the web. I always believed that the web should be fundamentally free of technology that is owned by one company that then can take the whole web hostage to their world domination plans. I have hoped that the video tag would be introduced much earlier in the game and have looked with horror to youtube & co. how they made adobe - a company who has basically stopped innovating 10 years ago - a ruler of the web when it comes to moving pixels.
Now this is finally about to change - or at least that is the intention by google, apple, mozilla and others who are pretty fed up with flash for very obvious reasons (its slow, development sucks, its proprietary, the source code of the creations is always closed, its slow, its slow as fuck, it eats energy from the processors like nothing else). It never really made any sense to put a container inside a container inside a container to display a video - the second most powerhungry thing you as a consumer can do on your computer (the first would be 3d/gaming).
Yet a video is not a video. A video to fit through the net needs to be compressed - heavely. Compression technology is nothing new but it evolves over years and years. Its always a tradeoff between size, quality and processing power. The "Video" codec by apple - probably the first "commercial" codec available to a wider audience looks rubbish but is insanely fast (it utilizes almost no processor on a modern machine) and the file size is pretty alright. It was capable to run video on an 8 Mhz processor mind you.
Over the years lots and lots of codecs have sprung up - some geared toward postproduction and some towards media delivery - there is a fine line - for the postproduction codecs you need full quality and try to save a bit of storage. Its videos that still need work and you want to work with a mostly uncompressed or losslessly compressed video. Processing power for decrompression is an issue because you need to scrub through the video - also compression porcessing power (to make the video) you donīt want to take ages because you like to work in realtime and not wait for your computer to re-encode a video just because you clicked on a pixel.

The other codecs are the "end of line" codecs - delivery codecs - made to compress the crap out of the video while "visually" loosing the least amount of quality and having the smallest possible file sizes. Here it doesnīt matter how long the compression side takes as long as the decompression is fast enough to work on low end computers to reach the largest available audience.

While production codecs are fairly fluid - people change as soon as a better becomes available - takes less then 5 month to have a new codec established (recently apple released the ProRes4444 codec - most postproduction companies are already using it (those that donīt use single pictures - but that a whole different story) - the delivery codecs are here to stay for a very very long time because in the time of the web people just donīt reencode their stuff and reupload it - if its there its there.

Now before I go into the format war and my take on it there is one more concept I need to explain shortly - containers. Flash is a container for a video with a certain codec displayed in it. So is quicktime, so is windows media so is Real Media. It gets confusing because MP4 can be a container and a codec at the same time. A container just hold the video and adds some metadata to the video itself - but the raw video could be ripped out of the container and put into another without re-encoding. This is what apple is doing with youtube on the iPhone. Adobes last "great" innovation (or best market move ever) was to enable the Flash container to play h264 (a codec) encoded videos. Since Apple (among everybody else who isnīt a flashy designer) thinks that flash sucks they pull out the video from inside the flash container and put it into the (now equally bad) quicktime container and so you can enjoy flash free youtube on your iPhone.
Now with the technicalities out of the way whats all the fuss about?
HTML5 promises - ones it becomes a standard - to advance the web into a media rich one without bolted on add ons and plugins that differ from platform to platform and browser to browser - its a pretty awesome development or most people ever developing anything on the web. Part of the process to make this the new standard is to involve everybody who has something to say and is a shaker and mover on the web to give the direction this standard is going. Its a tough rough ride - everybody and their mother wants to put in their tech their knowledge their thinking - I really would not want to be the decision maker in this process if you gave me a trillion.
The biggest and most awesome change in HTML5 - and the one the most abvious to the end user - will be the inclusion of media content without a freaking container that needs a plugin to display that content that only half or less of the internet population have. To make this happen at least all the big browser makers need to approve what can be played inside the new tags (video & audio).
This is where the debate heats up. I really donīt understand why audio doesnīt spurn the same debate publicly as does video - but its probably because google is involved with the video debate and can change the direction completely on their merit with whatever they choose to support on youtube.
The two competing codecs are Ogg Theora and H264. Now I am less familiar with the Ogg codec (but have tried it) but first a small history of H264. Back around 2000-2001 a company called Sorenson developed the first video codec that was actually usable on the web - there where different ones before but they all sucked balls in one of the departments for a great delivery codec. Sorenson made a lot of video people who wanted to present their work on the web very happy. Apple bought in and shipped quicktime with the Sorenson codec and the ability to encode (make) the video with this codec - albeit with a catch. To really get the full quality of Sorenson you had to buy a pro version - which costs a lot of money - the version that Apple included could play Sorenson (pro or non pro) just fine but the encoder was crippled to one pass encoding only. The real beauty and innovation was with two pass encoding - basically the computer looks at the video first and decides where it can get away with more compression and where with less.
Apple and the users where not really happy with this situation at all. So for a long time (in web terms) there was no real alternative to that codec. The situation was even worse because to play Sorenson you had to have Quicktime installed - before the advent of the iPod a loosing prospect - I think they had 15% installed user base on the web. It was the days of the video format wars - Microsoft hit with Winows Media (which sucked balls quality wise but had a huge installed user base) and on top Real Media (which was the only real viable solution for streaming video back then).
In the meantime another phenomenom happened on the audio side - mp3 became the defacto standard - a high quality one at that (back then) in the audio field. We the video people looked over with envy. When producing audio you could just encode it in mp3 pretty much for free on shareware apps and upload it to the web and everybody could listen to it. There was nothing even close happening on the video side. The irony is of course that its MPG1 layer3 (mp3) - part of a video codec - but the video codec side of MPG1 sucked really really really really bad. Quality shit, Size not really small only processor use was alrightish but not great.

Jumping forward a couple of years (and jumping over the creation of MPG2 - the codec used for media delivery on DVDs - totally unsuitable for web delivery) the Motion Picture Expert Group - a consortium of industry Companies and experts that developed (and bought in) MPEG1 and MPEG2 decided to do something for cross platform standard video delivery and created the MPEG4 standard (overjumping MPEG3 for various reasons - mostly because of the confusion with MP3 (MPEG1 layer 3). MPEG4 is a container format - mostly - but it had a possibility for reference codecs and the first one of these was H263 - this already was quality wise on par with Sorenson yet in a container that was playable by Quicktime and Windows Media - the two last standing titans of media playback (by this time Real Media mostly had already lost any format war). Great you think - well not quite - Microsoft wasnīt enourmously happy and created its own standard (as they do) based on MPG4 H263 called VC1 (I am not really familiar with this side of the story so I leave you to wikipedia to look that up yourself if you are so inclined). Web-video delivery was still not cross platform sadly and the format war became a codec war but there was now a standard underlying all of this and the quality - oh my the quality was getting good. Then the MPEGroup enhanced the h263 codec and called it h264 and oh my this codec with a pure godsend in the media delivery world - it was great looking scaled up to huge resolution could be used online, streaming and on HighDefDVDs and in the beginning it all was pretty much for free.
It looked like an Apple comeback in the webvideo delivery because Quicktime was for a while the only container that could play H264 without problems. Around that time flash started to include a function in its webplugin to play video - interestingly enough they choosed to include sorenson video as the only supported codec - word on the street was that Sorenson was very unhappy with Apples decision to ditch them as codec of choice and instead pushed H263/H264. Now the story could have ended with Apple winning the format war right there and all computers would have quicktime installed by default but it didnīt because out of nowhere Youtube emerged and Youtube used flash and Youtube scaled big time and made it - for the first time ever - really easy for Joe the Plumber and anybody else to upload a video to the web and share it with the rest of the world family. It changed the landscape in less then 6 month (I watched it it was crazy). Now you had a really good codec finally as a content producer to upload video in very good quality but the world choosed the worse quality inside a player that sucked up 90% processing power with the codec of choise needing another 90% and all that came out was shit looking video that everybody was happy to be over - but the user experience of hitting an upload button and have everybody watch your video was just unbeatable. Eventually just when people realised how bad these videos looked compared to some Hollywood trailers that still used quicktime and H264 Adobe included H264 into flash and prolonged their death by doing so again (without innovating at all it must be said).
Now fast forward to now - again a group of clever people, big companies and such have sat down to bring us HTML5 and the video tag. That tag as said is going to rid us from any plugins and containers and instead just plays pure video as fast as possible right inside the browser that supports HTML5. Now the problem is that people can not agree on the codec to be used. Why you ask if H264 is so great? Because H264 was developed by a for profit group of people and they want to make money and they have freaking patents on it - not that this has hampered web video to this day in any way - but for the future standard it seems lots of people have taking offense to that. There is in fact a whole ecosystem of alternative codecs (audio and video) in the open source world and the most prominent is Ogg and its video incarnation Theora. They are mostly patent free because the company who originally developed these codecs gave the patents to the open source community (yet its still not clear if that covers the whole codec). Now what happens when patents enter the WorldWideWeb could be seen with GIFs. The GIF graphics (moving or non moving) where once a cornerstone of the web - a more popular choice for graphics then anything else (small could be read by anything blahblah) then a company found out that they had the patents on that (luckily just shortly before they run out) and sued a lot of big websites for patent infringement and wanted to have royalties of $5000 from every website that used GIFs - they would have killed the web with that move (and they where in the right - law wise) if the big companies they sued first would have dragged out the court case until the patents run out - now the GIF file format is in public domain.
Now its understandable that this lesson should be learned BUT and here is

my take on the codec war:

Flash is a MUCH bigger threat then patents on the codecs used. Because not only does it use the patent infringed codec inside its container but the container is totally owned by one company and a company that has shown often (PDF) that it will do everything to take control of anybody using their technology - even if it is the whole world.
Now 95% of all web videos are delivered by flash these days and to change that a lot of things need to happen. First google needs to drop it on youtube - they just announced a beta which does just that - but even with googles might its just not enough - content producers need to hop on board as well. And here is where the chain breaks for the "free and open codecs of OGG". See from the history above H264 has been the industry standard on a wide range of devices including the web for years now. The whole backend has settled on this and there are really good workflows to create H264 video. With the video tag - Youtube is less relevant then it was at its beginning because all of the sudden its easy to incorporate video into your webpage. Now if google where to say "we use Theora only" high quality content producers would just say "fuck you" and post their videos on their own sites in a much better quality without the hassle to find any workflow to produce theora videos (for the non terminal using people there just isnīt an easy way to do that still that can be used in a professional non frickly environment - we like to create not code for a delivery sorry).
But thats not enough - almost ALL consumer cameras released over the last 2 years including the hot shit DSLRs with video functionality produce H264 that can be "just" uploaded to the web without reencoding - thats saves Youtube and vimeo a lot of processing capabilities - and with their lossy revenues they sure donīt want to add another server farm just to reencode every and all video they have to a codec that has worse quality. You know 90% of all videos on the web are already encoded in H264 as of now (and Theora maybe has 0.2% of the other 10% that are left over). Its uneconomical and not sensible to re-encode all of that any way you look at it - especially since the quality is not surpassed by any other codec out there - patent free or not.
I would say go H264 now and have a new consortioum of browser developers and other companies develop a new codec (or build upon theora) from scratch that is patent free AND high quality AND has a good workflow (means is supported by hardware vendors and OS vendors across the board). That can then take over H264 (just like PNG took over GIF in less then 2 years following the patent threat). Leave the codec question open for now and let the web sort it out for itself (for the moment) - like in the img tag - doesnīt matter if you put PNGs, GIFs or JPGs in it (or any of the other plethora of IMG formats) as long as the browsers support it its watchable and so far has shaken out a good road to take (see the switch to PNG with transparencies that also helped a lot to bring down IE5 in my opinion which didnīt fully support that - so the market sorted it out quickly (as in 5 years quickly)).
BTW the only browser that just does not want to go down that route (and rather wants to cripple itself with Flash in the meantime) is the oh so open minded Firefox. Sorry I fail to see your point dear Mozilla developers - you are not gonna make a lot of friends that way outside of the very very small open source community (and even here your approach is not liked universally by those who can not install a flash plugin for example because flash is not supported on their platform (ppc linux f.e.).

Get rid of Flash first then get rid of H264 later when you have something equally good on all accounts. Going backward with technology is just never the way forward - open source or not.


PTEX&OpenCL - or How Steve Jobs Companies Are Changing 3D

Something amazing came through my ticker today something that is a game changer and together with another technology will change the way I work and make much more enjoyable.

First some basics to understand what I am talking about for those that have no clue about it all. There are basically the following six steps to get to a final 3d picture.

1. Modelling: Multiple Approaches get you to a mesh model that consists of - in the end mostly - polygons. You can scan you can push little points in 3d space you can use mathematical formulas to create substract or add simple forms or other formulas to make edges round revolve lines or extrude other lines. The end product is mostly always a polygon mesh with x amount of polygons - the more the higher the resolution of the model the closer you can look at it. About ten years ago a really nice way to model high resolution meshes came into existence called SubDivision Surfaces which lets you model a corse resolution model which is much easier to understand and alter and then generate a highres model out of it - that was the first real game changer in the 3d industry and the reason why character modelling became so "easy" and so many people doing so many great models.

2. UV Preperation: Now a model out of triangels looks less then realistic of course so you need to tell the programm what kind of material is on the model - here a lot of option are available - but especially for film work and characters you want something that is realistic and you do that by getting something realistic - like a photo - and alter it in such a way that it fits on your model - or you paint from scratch - now that such a picture can be put onto the model you need to flatten out the model into a two dimensional surface. You can imagine this like taking a dead animal and skinning it then make the skin of the animal flat. Like so:
(there is actually a programm that stretches the "hides" pretty similar to this very analog process). Its a very dull process to do this on a complex model - mostly you have to take your nice model apart and do all kinds of voodoo to get it artifact free. No fun and certainly not really creative.

3. Texturing: Ones you have your nice model with a more or less nice UV map you start to apply your texture - photo or programatic or a mixture of that. Here is a lot of "fun" to be had as you add little bumps, tell the software how shiny the model will be how reflective how refractive and lots of other things I donīt really want to go into - but its a nice step in general. +

4. Light & Camera: Without light there wouldnīt be anything visible. So you set up some virtual lights which act and react just like different kind of light sources you find in reality + some more other tricks that arenīt in reality but can add to a realistic picture. You also set up a camera or your virtual eye - which again acts just like a photographic camera in real life (almost). Both a creative and fun process.

5. Animation: Then you animate your model - push objects around, apply physics, deform your model. You can either do that by hand or get some animation data from MotionCaputure - like you might have seen these people with a black suit and pingpong balls attaced to them - or faces with dots all over them for example. This step is both fun and frustrating - with hand made or captured data. The human eye is so susceptible to small problems in movement that to get it realistically convincing not even a certain 500 Mio. Dollar production can fully perfect this step.

6. Render: Then comes the process that is mostly free of human intervention but not free of hassles and frustration. The rendering. Can take up to 50 hours per frame in Avatar on a stock normal computer. 24-25 frames per seconds (or in case of 3d double that) and you get an idea how much processing power is needed. And if you do a mistake - render it all over again. Also rendering is a complex mathematical problem and there are bound to be errors in software so prepare for the worst here.

Now why I am telling you all this? Well one step it seems has just been eliminated. Progress in the field of visual effects is very eratic - you have 2-4 years no progress at all and then all of the sudden a floodgate opens and something dramatically changes or multiple things. I would say we had a quit period the last 2-4 years - mostly because the development of the real cool stuff was "inhouse" meaning - that really smart programmer people where hired by the big VFX companies to program them certain things for certain needs and problems - a lot of problems in the above pipeline are already solved I think but have never seen the light of the broader world and instead stayed and sometimes even died within certain companies. Its really frustrating as the software companies struggled with the most basic problems (plagued by slow sales and a bad economy) and then you see Pirates of the Caribbean for example and they completely figure out how to motion capture live actors (record their movement) on set with no real special equipment - that technology is still only available behind the looked doors of Industrial Light & Magic. For me as an artist that is a valuable tool that has been created and I could do cool stuff with it but I canīt get my hands on because of corporate policies.
So its REALLY amazing to see that Disney - the intellectual property hoarding company for whom the copyright law has been rewritten at least ones - is releasing a software/API/Filestandard as open source as of today. Code that no less promises to completely eliminate step two of my list above. In their own words they have already produced one short animation and are in the process of one full feature animation completely without doing any UV mapping. I can only try to explain to you the joy that this brings to me. UV mapping has been my biggest hurdle to date - I never really mastered it - I hated it. Its such a painstaking long tedious process. I normally used every workaround that I could find to avoid doing UV mapping. Its crazy to think they finally have figured out a way to get there without it and I think this will drop like a bomb into every 3d app and supporting 3d app there is on the market within a year (a wishfull thinking here) - at least I can hope it does and I hope that Blender, Autodesk, sideFX are listening very closely.
Combine that with the recent advancement of render technology by using OpenCL (developed and released as part of SnowLeopard by Apple and made an Open Standard with ports for Linux and Windows now available) and render partially on the graphic card (GPU) - which speeds up rendering up to 50 times. That means that a frame from avatar takes only one hour to render instead of 50 - or in a more realistic case - current rendertime for an HD shot takes here 2-5 minutes an average to render - thats cut down to 10sec - 1min and would actually make rendering a fun part of the process.
Now we all know who is behind both companies releasing and opening that up: The mighty Steve Jobs. You could almost say there is an agenda behind it to make 3d a way more pleasurable creative work then it currently is - maybe Mr. Jobs wants us all to model and render amazing virtual worlds to inhabit where he can play god ;)
Good times indeed.

Whats left? Well animation is still not worked out completely but with muscle simulation and easy face and bone setups it has become easier over the past years - still hidousely tidious process to make it look right - donīt know if there ever is a solution for it that is as revolutionary as PTEX. Motion sensors might help a bit in the short future also some techniques that make the models physically acurate so that things canīt get into each other and gravity is automatically apllied. High quality texture maps that hold up to very very close scrunity are still memory hogs and burn down the most powerfull workstations. The rest will get better with faster bigger better computers as always (like all the nice lighting models that are almost unusable in production to date because they render too long). Generally we are so much further with UV mapping and rendering problems out of the picture I might get back into 3d much much more. - the official website
The PTEX white paper
PTEX sample objects and a demo movie

Disclaimer: I have been doing 3d since 1992 when I rendered a 320x240 scene of two lamps on an Amiga 2000 with raytracing - it took 2 days to render. My first animation in 1993 took a month to render. Then I switched to Macintosh (exclusively) in 1995 and did 3d on them for a while. It was so frustrating that I did not make a serious efford to get really good at it ever - now I am still doing it alongside Compositing / VFX Supervision but rather as add on & for previz then main work.


Dubstep Love

A long personal journey through the evolution of music

I can barely contain myself - for the first time since 15 years I am excited like a little kid again. The reason is music - music for the clubs but also music for the home - a kind of music that fits strangely into any mood and continues to make me smile almost every day. To give you the right mood first a soundtrack to the journey I am taking you on:


When I was reading Gibsons Neuromancer some long years back I stumbled over the scene of the space Rastafari listening to dub in the lower cramped confines of a space station. Up to that point I loved the story and was totally immersed - I am having really vivid head films when I read so as long as the story seems believable I am in a different universe actually seeing it all in detail. Yet this scene somehow didnīt stick - it ripped me right out. It just didnīt fully fit into a space station - even so it was a funny idea of the author. It was the dirty analog feeling and the beach images and the old rastafaris making dub. My mind just wouldnīt believe they would roll their spliffs to that lowtech music on a hightech space ship - no matter how run down it would have been.

I have always listened to any kind of music you can imagine and didnīt really develop a taste for music that you can call taste until pretty late in my life. MC Hammer, Depeche Mode, ACDC, Kraftwerk, Genesis (yes Phil Collins - please beat me to death) where my early "favorites". With the fall of the wall things took an unexpected turn.

The reunited Berlin - it was like a new huge playground that waited to be explored and exploited. For me it mainly offered one thing - an absolute uncontrolled club scene that I was attending and getting involved with at a very young age. Of course that influenced my music taste quite a bit - I was going fully electronic for a long while - it didnīt really matter what but of course it being Berlin it was mostly that specific powerful housy style in the beginning that really got me. Some parties where so insanely energetic its hard to describe it in words.

Over the years then I got introduced to drum and bass and really fell in love with the slower more dreamy songs that genre implied. Somehow at that time magically Dub appeared in my life - I thought really hard where it actually came from - I donīt know - probably a song heard somewhere then getting into it more. Lee Perry, Mad Professor, Burning Spear - I bought tons of CDs with about any kind of Dub you can imagine and I loved it - but somehow it was dead music it was at a standstill there wasnīt anything really excitingly new coming out. Eventually I got bored and moved on - still playing it now and then.

11 years ago I started VJing. Playing visuals in clubs puts you in a very unique - if not always comfortable position. Standing there behind your laptop like a geek you have to listen and coldly analyze the music all night long - you listen to the breaks but also for the mood and the energy of the tunes. You also try to sense the energy of the room and either go with it against it amplify it calm it - whatever you think is appropriate. I have played by my last count 270+ gigs. Most of them all nighter - meaning 10+ hours for 270 nights same style of music. The styles changed - lots of electronic house music but also Jazz, Reggie, Rock, HipHop & some Punk - but mostly electronic in any form. After all its what I grew up with learned to love and where I had the most amazing experiences. Yet slowly but surely things started to get boring - I attributed it to me being in the clubs all the time and having to work. Then about three years ago I stopped the weekly gig sessions concentrated on other things and just went out for the fun of it (mostly). It sucked. I know people who came with me disagreed with me back then but really the spirit was out of the rooms. I debated with myself and friends what the reason for this could be. The music hadnīt changed much their where still fresh clubs in warehouses popping up - regardless it just wasnīt the same anymore. Some parties had on the surface a good vibe until you figured out that 100% of the people where totally and utterly wasted. You always had the drugs in the clubs of course but it was only adding to an athmosphere that was already nice and powerful - its totally different if people just take the drugs to get going at all and this is what I witnessed more and more.
After a while I got it - it must have been the music - I was utterly bored of it and subconsciously I think most of the people in the clubs are. Yes "minimal" is still heralded as the end of all music in the cooler clubs of Berlin - but its always the same same same and same in different shades of same. Its predictable boring without surprises and if the suspense in that music would be reenacted in a movie you would fall asleep after only 2 minutes.
Now its not sooo much different then what was on 15 years ago - what has changed then? Times have changed. As I have written in my VJ theory already I can repeat that here too - time has speed up, things have become more complex and to invoke any feelings you have to add a whole 'nother level of energy to it. A simpler example for anybody to see what I mean - look at an average horror movie from 1970, 1990, 1995, 2000 and now. It says all - the gore is multiplying 100 fold over each time period just to invoke any kind of reaction in people. While in 1970 you have maybe 3 cuts per minute you sometimes have 3 edits per second nowadays. Why would it be any different for music?
Bored with the house music I sidetracked myself with going back in time (not to phil collins ;) and generally just opening up to any kind of music again - as wide range as possible.

Through the local DJ around here (Jóse and mogreens) I was introduced to Brokn Beatz and electronic Jazz. I hated it at first. I still canīt totally say that I ever liked it. The nice thing about this kind of music was that it was not boring. It has always been a total challange to vj to that music - trying to see the breaks coming up and reading the ever changing mood is very hard. For the normal listener who doesnīt want to get deeply involved with the music its very hard to draw energy out of that music - while in the boring department its far beyond any other style listed so far - I just never couldnīt fully get into it and I really tried.
Just recently I found some temporary shelter with some local Punk bands. Why did it drive me to punk? Energy - raw freaking energy - energy that was still powerful enough to move people. God there is something about screaming singers and guitarr riffs that is unbeatable in the energy department.

The story could end here and I would still be looking for my hail mary pass to music heaven. Why? The problem with Punk as with pretty much any handmade music I have ever listened to is that after 10-20 minutes I get bored - it seems the same. Yes the music lovers can tell me there are nuances in there and I just have to listen closely and then it wonīt be boring. I am there to get my energy pushed inside a group that gets the same energy pushed. Its the ritual why you go in the first place - a convection of energy in the room can lift your spirit for days on end and give you an evening worth remembering - whats the fun in taking the music apart - so you can be cool and talk about it? Unless you are doing music yourself I donīt see the point. So Punk - nice distraction and I still like to go - but still there must be something advancing coming up please no?

It did - less then a year ago I started to stumble over something that I first took for an advancement of Drum and Bass - it sounded different then drum and bass - but on some level familiar to me. It wasnīt really revolutionary yet here was a whole force of new music called freaking Dubstep. I was skeptical. I had been listening to more dub recently again as there seemed to be some movement in root dub to get electronic but its wasnīt the Dubstep thingy by far. The early Dubstep that I listened too was just so close to some jungle tracks in the early 90s. I almost thought ok thats it with music from now on we are going in circles back to the past and forward again - it seemed all music styles had been mixed with each other and advanced to a point where just the music nerds could figure out that it was new. Its really been about five years since I really could discern a certain radically new style - since then - silencio. Yet here was this really heavy drum n bass coming around the corner that somehow grooved slowly. I listened hundreds of hours of dubstep internet radio channels. It was good - very powerfull - yet stil there was something missing - it was too dark to heavy to monotonous still. While it gave me 2 hour bursts of energy I had to turn it off after a while it just didnīt stick - I was again getting a bit sad about it - as they used dub - my old time favorite in the name and if that didnīt evolve that was probably dubs last chance or so I thought.
Then something happened that changed it all. It got diverse it morphed with the electronic dub we had been playing in our podcasts. There it was dubs soul together with raw energy and speed of drum n bass mastered as if it was an electro song and even inside one song more diverse then a whole night of minimal techno. It wasnīt to be the only song in that direction. More and more I heard here and there and then I had my first Dubstep party with this "new" kind of dubstep - the dub step with more dub in it - in a Punk bar in Potsdam. There is something about "special" parties that is hard to describe - its the vibe the connection with the other people in there. This party - even so extremely small - was like that - no chemicals - but a lofty vibe with smily persons who just canīt stop to groove.

In the last two month since then its exploding - Dubstep has gotten so diverse that its eating up about any and all music styles in its path - dub was always playful with samples but what is happening at the moment is on a whole new level and not only that its rarely really cheesy its mostly really fun and uplifting and powerfull - heck it can even be played live and still invoke all its positive things as I was allowed to witness last weekend. Its music girls enjoy and even people who normally hate ANYthing electronic like it and dance to it. And even after 10 hours constant listening it just doesnīt get boring (good DJ or mix is still essential of course).

There was once long ago a party in the Berlin Pfefferberg where 9teen and gregoa played under the name "chill at will" - it was in retrospect one of the top 10 parties I have ever been too - even so it was the chill out room. The concept of the duo was to mix very chilled music with danceble and energetic music - people freaked out. Dubstep - like I have experienced it lately - is exactly "copying" that concept but its much smoother as its all based on the same rythmic concept and flows together like water. Going slow then ultra fast (think gabba fast) in less then 2 minutes with basses that push your stomach inward and it all feels natural. I am totally obsessed - in my view its a new beginning for music. The boundaries have not been reached - its very exiting. The last time I witnessed something like that was in 1993 - the early days of Techno. And with it goes an early scene without pretentious people just like the early days. People scream again tick out just to then talk to each other on a slower bit of music - raw feelings in the room no hiding no "checking out". Ultra lovely.

So to vindicate Mr Gibson - he was maybe right when he said the Rastafaris of the future listen to dub in the space station - he just forgot to add "step" to it. If I would read the book again that scene would not get me out of my film anymore. Needless to say I am very very happy and feel really lucky that I see this much exciting music development in my lifetime - to all you dubstep producers out there pushing the boundaries - YOU ROCK.

Some links: Dubstep Forum for Berlin
Badda Boom Sound Reaggy Ragga Dancehall Dub and Dubstep from Potsdam
soundcloud/dub-zone Wide variety of different dub tracks Whicked live played dubstep from Berlin
Spoke DJane playing and producing wonderfull dubstep


"Where is the revolution?"

or "Wo bleibt die Revolution?" was a the best demo poster I have seen at the "Freedom not Fear" demonstration 11 day ago. Later I found out that the poster was made by the "famous" german blogger fefe.
Now we have elections next sunday and I want to take my own little internet space to reflect my thoughts on it in a bit longer way then the 140 letter in twitter permit me doing. If you think this is a nice peacefull reflection I can only guard you out the room nicely now before you get too disappointed, it might get rough.
Let me start with a nonlinear timeline of happenings that actually got us to where we are now.
As in all western countries September 11 2001 marked the day the powerfull elite found an excuse to hammer through a series of laws that would allow them subsequently to gain more control over the ever growing population that got poorer as a whole as the class divide got wider. It seems clear that if you get more and more people that get poorer while you get fewer and fewer people that get unproportionally richer there might be some a time this explodes so it makes only sense to curb that as soon as possible.
So laws got hammered through that allowed the ruling elite to spy on the people (and I think contrary to popular believe not to get one or two or a group of rogue people but to get a general sentiment of the population to actually react at a moment before it all starts boiling over). Now this might have already been sufficient - coupled with some distractions like wars and still enough games and mind-numbing entertainment around to keep the balance of the powers like the last 3000 years .
Only one thing they missed and I think that can be attributed that in that elite those who actually have a say are - well - too old. That in the past 3000 wasnīt a problem in itself but time has speed up considerably in the last 100 years or so. There are nice studies of how our perception of time changed with the advent of trains, airplanes and so forth - but since about 40 years a extremely disruptive technology entered the life of about anybody in this world - the internet. It supercharged our perception of time because now you didnīt have to take a long ride on a horse, a trainride or even an airplane to get to the middle east or china or to the other side of the world - you are there all the time - it only takes milliseconds to talk to somebody somewhere else. Now our poor elites just couldnīt grasp that concept as they have been growing up in a time when airplanes where all the rage so they missed the other disrupting factor in all that - limitless realtime communication. I have been on the internets for quite a while now (1996) and the limitless freedom of the early days was almost scary - nobody cared nobody was watched all was well.
I think the first real eyeopener for the powerfull came with Napster. All of the sudden an industry that is actually vital for distracting the public with meaningless shit lost complete control over their distribution channels - and that happened in less then a year. The pure panic that followed was almost a joy to watch because the net had become so indestructible by then that whenever there was a "fire" put out on one corner 200 more fires where started everywhere. Gosh they freaking build the net to be indestructible in case of a global nuclear holocaust do they think a few puppets of politians can actually make a dent - especially then that it had grown global?
So even with napster politics didnīt grasp the full extend of nets impact and resorted to 20th century scare and distract tactics. Well that worked for a big part of the population that also didnīt grasp the net yet. But there where the few and far between that saw the dangers of the laws that where forced upon all of us. Some of those where very confident in the net. While the mainstream was kept dumb with mindnumbing media 1.0 that is totally controlled - the few that grasped the full extend of what is going on started to act. Groups formed, a communication was happening outside the mainstream media totally uncontrolled. The blogs and forums started to get viewerships in the hundreds then thousands then millions - then they got noticed. Another Napster was happening while the first Napster was getting bigger and bigger. This time the controllers not only lost the venue of distraction they lost the venue of mind control. People got a second opinion and a lot started to find that refreshing - it started to make them think. On top a whole new generation was starting to disconnect from the old ways and what they got was a multitude of opinions that allowed them to form an opinion of their own that was pretty untainted (I am of the believe that if you read much opposing opinions - which the internet is full of - it actually allows us to become smarter and make more rational decisions).
Now besides lossing their distractive advantage the elite started to figure out that they also loose any opinion control - over not so long enough people are informed enough to question the system as a whole. Now it gets a bid muddy.
Because to think they are dumb is the wrong thinking - they are not and they have the tools (money) to get some brightness in their thinking. I am sure I saw an influx of "conservative" bloggers in the US around 2003 where I think that might actually have been an organized (at least in "hey we need to do something" chainletter style) counter move - the funny thing is that it only adds more opinions and makes people smarter by considering more viewpoints and finding the weaknesses.
Yet this trend has accelerated where traditional media - that by definition can only give the opinions of a few - is fast replaced by "democratic" the "anarchic" the uncontrolled - the blogs.
Now thats the point when the politicians really woke up (just eons too late) so here in Germany we all of the sudden get these laws that point to one thing: censorship - a beautifull 20th century concept that has worked when the publication of opinions was actually a hard thing to do. More surveillance extending to the net (at least they want to get a feeling of the cooking pot to see when its boiling over) and some more drastic things because they feel that the control might be lost in a mental "peacefull" way and that the only way to get the control back might be through force - I am getting there in a second.
The censorship law from our family minister (to protect the internet from watching child porn of course - what else can make an impact in this world otherwise anymore then anything that is absolutely shocking to the max) had one problem - it was dumb (stopsign coupled with dns routers) and transparent (we keep "secret lists"). I think the dumbness not necessarily comes from the fact that the people making it are actually dumb - I think they have not much choice otherwise to censor the web in any meaningfull way other then that - and at least - keep the mass of people from forming their own opinion at least a little while longer. What I think was their real dumbness was the fact that they didnīt see that they couldnīt hide the fact that it was about censorship in a big way. What they also still did not seem to have learned is the speedup of time.
That speedup of time got even a little more speedier with the advent of Twitter. I have to get into Twitter(or any other microblogging service) for a paragraph here. There is an inherent beauty in Twitter that makes it possible for our carbon based brains that need a couple of generations to actually adapt to actually process the huge amount of information on the web in near realtime. Basically making the speedup in time I talked about earlier available to us without taking away the chaotic nature of the web where you might click on something that you never intended to click on and that all of the sudden wides your horizons in ways that you never thought possible.
Twitter made it possible to spread the word about the censorship debate around the country in mere minutes. I watched it and it was a-m-a-z-i-n-g how the debate was shaped in less then a week. The petition against the law garnered 120.000 signatures in mere weeks - this all the while the politicians tried to discredit the movement and stuck to their - already weak and disproven - talking points. Needless to say that this backfired.
But this is the netactivism to that point. Where the ruling had been smarter in my opinion is to get things through on a totally different level that escapes the ordinary netizen.
I am still sure the banking collapse of 2008 was fabricated to a certain extend - orchastrated starting 2001. I know until now I have to not gotten into any kind of conspiracy theory in a big way but I think looking at who actually profited from the collapse and drawing the path backward and forward it my line of thought might become a bit more clear. To keep people happy in the years after 2001 there had to be some kind of prosperity - easy credit everywhere (yes also here in germany) was the answer. Then you fabricate a collapse of a big bank and the easy credit dies up - you end up with slaves that loose anything and will be nice little slaves trying to get to status they had been before (big houses + cars + tvs for everybody). This means you have desperate people - desperate people are easily controlled as long as they donīt have the time to think and question the overall concepts of life.
What also happened - especially here in germany - is police control. I donīt know if the number of policemen actually grew massively in the last 4-6 years but sure as hell am I feeling a bit opressed already. The amount of times I personally have been randomly stopped pulled over ask for ID etc is mindboggling if you consider that there was about 10 years of my life where I had zip zero contact with the police (I am only talking about stuff not provoked totally random stuff). And not only that - they are getting more and more aggressive - kind of talk from above hand on gun etc pp. Yes they made me already a tiny bit afraid of them. The culminated in the "Freedom not Fear" demonstration that I was very closely observing (thats what I like to do best ;) - the police was aggressive, demonstrators where fearfull. The whole demonstration had been closed up totally (anybody else noticed that) and then of course the police started beating some protestors. My view is that this was a concerted effort and not a single case of mad policeman. There might have been "nice policeman" on the street that day but there was a HUGE amount of extremely aggressive provoking riot squats around.
Instilling fear - not with bad terrorists but with its own police - making people (financially) weak - its all tactics to control a crowd and I think the powers might be even happy the "active" people are distracted with net rights at the moment - meanwhile they can just employ their 20th century control strategies - the magical tipping point where a considerable mass of people can be reached through the net will not be reached for another 5-10 years (looking at the only 25.000 people at the freedom not fear demonstration). Until then there is plenty of time to disrupt this movement and attack from points where it seems very vulnerable and blind.
Vulnerable because nobody of the up coming generation wants violence - so a violent revolution will not happen in my life time - that might have to do with the peacefull fall of the wall and generally people living in a lot of comfort and are thinking they are too intelligent to actually pick up arms and fight it out.
Blind because they are missing the social aspect of it all - as long as the current system stands as it is there is a lot leverage through money - draw it away and give it only in doses where it makes you dependent has worked for a very very long time - the german Pirate Party being completely void of the social aspect makes that totally apparent that its the big blind spot - what good does it do if you have freedom of speech when you are a slave to the system? Slaves could also speak out openly among themself in their quarters - it has not gotten them anywhere. They still where surpressed by fear, violence and scarcity.
Now I am the last person who wants any violent conflict ever. But the appeasement the protest movement of the netizens with the powers that are is pissing me off. Its an opertunity to do something grand to actually overthrow a powerbalance that has enslaved human kind since close to 3000 years and has quite obviously done the planet nothing good in return bringing it to a point of total collapse - to a point where it might look like mars or venus another 100 years onward.
The Pirate Party - as the visible public formation of that protest movement - is trying everything it can not to upset the powers too much because it could be seen negatively, it pussyfoots around issues of larger impact then a censorship law (the system is broken not a couple of laws) and the only tool it can use to actively protest outside of violence - the words - are "carefully democratically drafted".
I can only respond - nice try - its not how revolutions are made. Change the system or loose the war. If you donīt give the powers a big "FUCK YOU" and actually resist them it will not work. Its sad that the movement is the master of the biggest word spreading tool in history and just fails to use it radically enough to make an impact.
Maybe it has to get a lot less worse before that thinking sets in - my only fear is that the longer it takes the further we get a way to resolve that in a peacefull way. There will be a time the control mechanisms are of the ruling are strong enough to surpress any movement - and this time arrives pretty fast (give it another 4 years of current policies).
In the meantime I think some of the concepts of the Pirate Party are good for after a revolution - like the "zukunft ministerium" and such and its probably not lost work that is done there but for the near future I donīt see any winning strategy in the way this goes.


Good bye 4:3

As I am wrapping up my current project I think I also wrap up the last project I will ever do in 4:3 format. It has been long time in the coming and now with resolutions going up so does 4:3 go away. I am not shedding a single tear. 16:9 and beyond is so much nicer to layout with. You can have split screen and whatnot. Needless to say that I am also stopping to VJ in 4:3. It just never immerses you. It is always this oddly shaped window that does not adhere to any emotional feeling. When the screen stands out then people are not immersing and fact of the matter is that we humans just have greater horizontal perception then vertical (clouds are nice to look at but never threatening - same can be said for moles). Interestingly enough the medium where the 4:3 aspect ratio came from was film - which has stopped using this aspect ratio when 8mm was abonded about 30 trillion years ago. TV was born when film primarily used 4:3 itself. TV needed 35 years to make the switch to at least 16:9 - needless to say that film - even in its digital form - has even moved beyond that but then a 3:1 monitor would probably look strange.

Good bye 4:3 for the good things to come (full immersive).

Have a look at the wikipedia entry for the trazillion different aspect ratios out there.


GateHouse vs. NYT - they settle out of court

In what for me is a very dissapointing outcome of the high profile lawsuit between GateHouse and the New York Times both sides have agreed to settle the case before anything could be cleared. While I donīt like lawsuits this could have actually meant that artists could be a bit more protected when the publish their work from greedy companies/scrupelous bloggers making money with their art. There is still the big grey zone of embeds not falling under copyright because they might be considered links (my research has shown that it might not be the grey zone some think it is and it quite clearly defined in a different lawsuit (US) and in law opionions(Germany) still no clear law will give insentive to the greedy). I have no clue why the EFF wants to support bussiness models that take the work from people who are offering for free and use it to make money by just posting links - I always thought the EFF supports the small people on the net - this lawsuit - while beeing fought between two media giant - could have actually put some legal ground on the definition of legal copyright AND copyleft in the age of hyperlinking with nobody really coming to harm other then the two media giants (not a big shame at all).
To make my point clear again - there is a growing sense that you can make a bussiness modell that is close to traditional TV or radio - but instead of paying a single cent to the well meaning content creators that put their content out for the world at large to enjoy without fear of procescution - you just take their content wrap some ads around it and enjoy making money by not doing anything other then copy and paste a link now and then - all the while the original author does not get a single cent out of this endaevour - or has a say what kind of commercial are around his content. That is a growing concern from content creators - one that has yet to be adressed either by law or at least by words or action from institutions like the EFF or Creative Commons. Seeing the EFF siding with the lawlessness that is currently favoring just those companies that have deep pockets and can threaten everyone with their lawyers while those without the "institutional standing" of the RIAA just have to pray for the goodwill of mankind - we all know how well that goes (he says looking at the bonuses for bankers of just bailed out banks).

PS: I have been made aware of a recent draft RDFa that at least wants to send along license information with content - I have no clue yet (read I didnīt have enough time to go through the spec) how that might affect above problems but be sure that I will report about it ones I have a clearer understanding.


Facebook (& co) the new Microsoft

Lock-In - Megamassmarket - Proprietary - driven by advertisment. That are things that I connect straight to Microsofts Windows - which has no right on the digital planet by what it does - the only way it survives is because it has the successfully locked in a mega mass market with proprietary mechanisms and keeps itself alive through an advertising budget that is larger then the GDP in some African countries. Luckily its a slowly dying dinosaur. Yet we wouldnīt be humans if we wouldnīt fall for the same traps over and over again - not learning a thing about past mistakes and here we go into 2009 and I have recieved 20 facebook spams - ähm friendship requests - already. Now my take on the whole social networking has always been clear - I am not spending my time on something that makes other people rich while there is no apparent value to human kind or even worse it halts innovation and true progress.
I truly believe that facebook and myspace (and the german studiVZ) are clearly aiming to become the new microsoft and want to lock in their users and control the content the users see and make it hard for them to switch - and the most proprietory of them - facebook - the only one who did not join the open social endeavor - seems to be the winner of them all.
Now if you look at a facebook user page (my gf has one to my distress) it already mimics an operating system nicely with "webapps" and a task bar and such. Now what is it offering again? Basically what it is is a glorified chat system with some blogging functionality and a working RSS feed implementation. The only thing its good at is combining these tools and organize the output. It does so by making "friends" the upper category of organization. I donīt understand the concept of "friends" that you are unable to track through your live except with a digital tool - I do sincerely think people that you are unable to track with your own memory are not real friends and might be even too uninteresting in the first place to even be acquaintances. You know there are people I contact or they contact me after I have not "spoken" (in any sense of the word) to them in over 5 years and yet both sides tracked each other over the years because there was more then a hyperlink connecting us.
Now organizational tools are not bad per se. Indeed one could argue the popularity of the social network sites is because people need to organize their input stream somehow. I think its laziness to learn the underlying principles of the web and understand that all the tools to connect to your friends and make them aware of your output are there without facebook et all - the most often reason I hear when I challenge someone why they are using a social network site is "it makes it so easy". I think some of the 2nd tier (facebook becoming the Nr.1) sites going belly up in the next few month and the people see their "friends" disappearing because their content was locked in - all the time they spend on the site that they thought is theirs but isnīt and maybe even some of the content they put up goes into the "wrong" hands and is being used to make ridicule out of them (its not their content anymore anyway) might see an awakening. Until then maybe there is hope to make a decentralized open source open community out of the internet again and not a giant hub of advert sponsored data mining endeavor.

Meanwhile please to all my "friends" out there: Please donīt send me more facebook/mysapce/studiVZ spam - I have enough other spam problems already. I wonīt join even if 90% of the world is signed up.


Good Morning 2009

To all that have not personally recieved new years blessings and to all who care - I wish you a great 2009. May the world wake up from last century and we go into a bright sustainable nature connected future full of pleasant surprises and pecked with knowledge wonderful things.


Webdesign - a designers perspective: Introduction

This is going to be a multipart series on my view on the webdesign process in this day and age with nitty gritty details - to much for most casual readers but not enough for the more professional webbers but just about right to those making websites coming from a more design perspective touching each and every part that touches webdesign as a whole - from the artwork to the programming to the content management to the hosting problems to the philosophies, existing standards nobody cares about nonexisting standards everyone seems to care about. Guaranteed not flash bashing free and guaranteed full of sarcasm. Here is the intro to this never ending saga.

About ten to twelve years ago I got into developing my first website - back then I was neither designer nor programmer but had experience in the latter and was about to study the former. I made this website with a lot of javascript and made the mistake of using images as text as I wanted one font throughout the site. The site looked alright (to me ;) and functioned fine but was unmaintainable for a person who wants to do something else with their time then hacking pure HTML. It had one nice feature so - that was swappable images - something you see nowadays a lot in those fancy iFrame galleries - back then I did not encounter another site that had it. Oh javascript that was something I could identify with as it came so close to BASIC programming which I learned while the east was still the east and the west the bad. "You canīt use javascript, its bad practice - nobody should use javascript ever" was all I got for my month long effort of making a webpage. The site was sitting there for a long long time without any updates and got very stale - at one point - right after the only update it ever recieved -the browsers started to break the site and I decided to pull it.
Since then I have been pondering on making a new site - one with a cool content management system that would enable me to easely update the site, one that is very cutting edge and puts technology to a good use. The longer I pondered the more it became clear that I did not want a website for myself - but rather a framework that could be an umbrella for the myriads of my interests and those around me wanting to produce something cool together with me. On the design end I was still learning and trying to find my style my design mojo. The years went by and the website did not really progress other then in my head. There was a quick attempt at it about 3 years ago that had already an interface designed but that never off the ground because I actually had to finish my diploma and all. Then last years pushed by a lot of different things I actually started to take the plunge - and man if I would have known back then what a journey it would become I would have thought twice about going along, but now 35.000 lines of code and about a year later I am extremely happy with the outcome so far.

Next Part in the next days: Choosing the right Content Management System


New Conservative London Mayor: High Culture for the Young instead of HipHop

Meninplaid.jpgSometimes you stumble over articles where you need to rub your eyes slap your hand against your head take a couple of deep deep breath and try to wave the little birdie coming out of your screen goodbye. Today was such a day again. The newly appointed London mayor - the first conservative London mayor since generations - has said that media companies should stop "underestimating" young people and stop "target" them with "cheap" hiphop and instead educate them to "higher" art like classical music and operas.
No I am absolutely not kidding. He wants to spent money so parents can send their kids to learn classical instruments.
Now - nothing against funding of letting people learn classical instruments - but who the fuck does he think to suggest hiphop or any other youth culture is "cheap art" and why does he think he can define what "high culture" is?

In a report outlining his strategy, his chief of arts and culture strategy, Munira Mirza, argues that too much emphasis has been placed on making events "user-friendly".

ugh? make parties user unfriendly so nobody goes to them anymore? See classical concert halls are empty for a fucking reason and that is that young people are BORED TO DEATH hearing songs that have been written 200 years ago and have not evolved since then. It might be an artform where rich kids are pressed into and then can behave as if they are something special - but the innovation in musical art comes from the street the dark warehouses the garages all over the world not some on multimillion dollar live support hanging concert houses that are playing Beethoven the 9th for the 2 millions' time. You rich conservative mummies you need to get out more - especially when you are the mayor of a city that used to be trendsetting when it comes to music.

Give Young People High Culture Not HipHop - Johnson. The Guardian

Picture from the Muppets Wiki


China more "democratic" then Germany?

Two incidents - very unlike one another - intermingled at their core idea. Citizens discontent spoken out loud and clear one heard one damned - one embraced one ignored one solved one clashing.

One for the right to work in China one for the right to party in Germany.

Unlikely role reversed? Or propaganda failing to work?


fALks election prediction

So this is the day when there is the decision if the human capitalistic world will either die fast or slow. The day when the americans will for once not disappoint, or when the machines rise and take matters into their shadowy masters hands. Its just the day the world has been waiting for the last eight years, they day when everything might change or nothing. has an election prediction game going on for those that want to win a MacBook - I was inclined to take part, after closing about 10.000 people took part in the gamble. Here is my ridiculous prediction:

57 Democratic Senate seats
41 Republican Senate seats
260 Democratic House seats
175 Republican House seats
384 Obama Electoral Votes
154 McCain Electoral Votes
55.4 Obama Popular Vote Percentage
43.3 McCain Popular Vote Percentage

I think this election will be a blowout - if it isnīt its because their are dirty tricks - but since the margins in the trackers are so overwhelmingly Obama across the line even in states that have never voted for a democrat in over 20 years and the voter turnout machine of Obama seems to be on a scale never seen before too I would think that the republicans are not so inclined to alter the vote considerably as this would quite certainly mean civil war and I tend to believe that even a lot of Republicans wonīt want that as that would nullify their assets over night - and money is all they think of when they go into an election. So I predict this blowout scenario above. I call Florida and Ohio for Obama and I donīt give McCain the slightest chance that he takes Pennsylvania (that is were the fraud would happen if it happens by the way). I give Obama another 1-2 states because of the cellphone problem of most polls (polls including cellphone users tend to poll be 2% higher for Obama) and because of his ground forces organization.
I am a bit sad that South Dakota is not as close as North Dakota - that would have been my favorite pickup for a Democrat.
But in the end there is not much change going to happen in the US of A with either presidential candidate. With McCain the fall would go really fast, Obama might be able to prolong the fall for another 1-2 years, but with the massive debt currently in the country, the two biggest car companies failing and with the whole country on the credit syringe anybodies hand trying to run the country are tight - except if this person attempts to switch to another political system - which no mainstream US candidate will ever try.
We will continue a tradition tonight watching the polls coming in and discussion politics, current and future ones - and todays topic is more a future political system then the current US election. If you know me or mogreens and want to have a fruitful talk come over to mogreens house tonight after 21 CET.


When the wheels loose their teeth...

Since I get my last wisdom teeth pulled in about 20 minutes I thought I share the last bit of wisdom in me - no actually I am in a gloomy doomy mood and want to spread that around - no in fact I think topic is too important to be pulled out with my wisdom teeth - anyway...
I have talked to a lot of people about the "financial crisis" in the last weeks and to everyone I talked to it seemed a bit distant to affect them personally (with the few exceptions of the persons who are in the doom camp already). They all had to endure my preaching - if one bit of the capitalistic market comes to a proper grind the whole system collapses. Why do I think that? Look at the world out there. This whole system is like a house of cards, carefully stacked on top of each other of the last 100 years. One layer of cards made the next layer possible and then the next and the next. The bottom layer is comprised of the oil chain and the food chain, next one is housing, then transport, then consumer goods, then luxury goods (its much more fine grained but you get the idea). Now the thing with house of cards is that any part can topple the whole deck - even those on top - but the ones underneath definitely topple everything. Another analogy I am using is clockworks. If just one of the tiny teeth (ha you thought I would get around the post without mentioning teeth again he ;) is being pulled out the result is that the whole clockwork consisting of millions of teeth is coming to a halt. So same with modern day capitalism with a global supply and demand scheme. One part of the whole system stands still the rest will follow very very soon. Now the thing with the "financial crisis" is that at first it doesnīt look like it will affect you personally (not unless a savings bank is bankrupt and people flock to the ATMs to get their nonexistent money out - its all virtual - there is no money because it has all been lend out and then some). I have been watching with open eyes because I believed that pulling that much money from under the market out there must have an affect somewhere in the "real" market (not the virtual "we trade empty numbers" money market) rather sooner then later. Well it seems that food is actually the one thing that might be affected first.
Yes food the thing everyone needs for living. Why? Because our food system at the moment depends on proper fertilization and since everyone just wanted to make profit in the last years they ignored any natural fertilization cycle (crop rotation for example) and instead poisened the field by overloading it with industrial NPK (Nitrogen Phosphorous, Potassium) fertilization techniques. To switch a field from that to a natural cycle takes about 5 years minimum. Now why is that important? NPK fertilizers are freakishly expensive (big part of it is made from natural gas f.e.) and since the banks are extremely nervous they do not give the farmers any loans to get fertilizers - which had been the norm up till this year. No fertilizers mean that on bad fields you can loose up to 70% of your crop. Thats 70% less food on the market - that means skyrocking prices in the supermarket that means a lot of people will be hungry - what this means I donīt want to think about.
This is one scenario of how the system might collapse - one that is already in the making (means its already happening to some extend). There are more paths to doom but happily also some paths out so not all is lost. Then again looking at the world politics I have not that much hope for a instant enlightening of the ruling caste.

Millions will starve (on

Recent rains have improved seeding conditions, allowing farmers to begin planting soybeans in parts of Mato Grosso, Brazil. Farmers now face another problem, the lack of fertilizer. Even farmers with access to credit have not received their fertilizer due to a distribution delay. A Cuiaba newspaper reports that one producer who normally plants about 15,000 acres of soybeans will plant 10,000 this year because he did not receive enough fertilizer


With food and energy prices soaring around the world, a constant supply of high-quality, affordable food is no longer guaranteed, the officials are warning Britons. That could mean an era of scarcity like Britain's 1940-54 food rationing, during the war and its aftermath


Why I blog

Saturday is a good day to reflect on life (for me somehow always better then sundays where I just want to be outside and clear my mind). So stumbling over an actual insightful article that is more philosophical then political, is somehow timeless is a great joy. So today I did stumble over such an article by the "Daily Dish" blogger of The Atlantic Andrew Sullivan. The article is called "Why I blog" and is very very long but I would suggest that every blogger wades through it. I always enjoy Andrews witty insightfull political commentary and this article outside the political scope is no different. Its a nice description of what blogs are where they came from and how they tick. The money quote on page one:

"For bloggers, the deadline is always now. Blogging is therefore to writing what extreme sports are to athletics: more free-form, more accident-prone, less formal, more alive. It is, in many ways, writing out loud."

Blogging as an accident prone fun alive extreme sport. Its is intimate but public exposing yourself to the outside world by informing the outside world of your thinking and becoming a puzzle piece of the world wide narrative.
Sullivan also offers an insight why blogging is such a boon to the writing crowd compared to constant delays reediting and rewriting in more traditional medias. This makes it possible to be more fearless (coming back to the extreme sports category) when publishing more directly speaking ones mind.

You have to express yourself now, while your emotions roil, while your temper flares, while your humor lasts. You can try to hide yourself from real scrutiny, and the exposure it demands, but it’s hard. And that’s what makes blogging as a form stand out: it is rich in personality.

A very recommended read.

So why do I blog? Mainly because I believe in the world narrative being written by bloggers and everyone should be part of it - its the personal angle the one where politics, the environment and the arts matter (to me). Secondly to give out some of what I learned online offline through trial and error through accidents through investigative passion that sometimes creeps up on me. Thirdly to put spotlight on local events because I blog in english but live in Germany I have a different audience then MoGreens for example that just resonates to different parts of the world who might be interested what happens in this small community over here.
Most of all blogging is a lot of fun and full of surprises its somehow makes you feel like you are a human beeing and not just an ant in a system. If you donīt blog you should try it out one day its liberating.

If all this sounds postmodern, that’s because it is. And blogging suffers from the same flaws as postmodernism: a failure to provide stable truth or a permanent perspective.


Dear Old Media....

Your business model is about to fail in an epic drama because over the last 10-20 years you have not invested into new ideas, you have not looked beyond your faith of the economy flushing you with cash, you have not even invested in good content. You got into a spiral of self fulfilling prophecy - ever worst content to please the ever shrinking lowest common denominator. And worse of all you have tried to buy out ideas from outside your scope, tried to humiliate those that donīt work with you, tried to stop any content business model that isnīt formed around your believe of distribution of media power. You close your eyes when its aparent that copying things from one media to the other has never worked and will never work as most different kind of medias have a completely different underlaying social behaviour, modelled on that a completely different user interface and so dear old media fusing your failed business model with a social model that is not even build to be a business model and try first and foremost to generate ad revenues by connecting people and giving them an very expensive chat window on their tv screen which they interface - wait for it - with an iphone or similar network enabled device - this dear old media is so falling flat on its face (not even to mention that a remote control is also not the best input tool to engage in socialising activity of any extended sort). Please get it and stop your desperate attempts to save your failed business by trying to mimic real innovation that is about the people first and foremost and money only as an enabler. Try to see were your old business model can help future generation, heck become an archive and let people search in the past - and even charge some administrative fees for it or do live broadcasts or even just let people rent your facilities to make people powered media - but please see the light and see that people want real interaction, people want to publish want to speak their own voice and the TV or a dead tree newpaper is not the medium to deliver that - it was never designed to do that and to make it work is like trying to transform a school bus into a first class ultrasonic airplane that can carry 2000 people at once.

A response to the aptly titled article "TV+Social Network=?" on the wall stree journal.


FaderFox - the ultimate Midi Controller Solution

DJ2_front_1.jpgI have been looking for years to get a "perfect" midi controller for my live visual endeavors. That is no exageration. I have high expectations toward a midi controller. I want to lug it around the world - so it has to be small enough. I want to a plethora of functions on it so it actually helps me perform and is not just a gimmick. It has to be robust to withstand outdoor gigs with sandy gusts and water spray as well as indoor gigs sweat dropping from the ceiling and 80°C heat from above lamps. It has to be scalable and adaptable to new software coming along and it somehow has to fit my own style of performing - which means the knobs need to be properly soldered on - the faders have a solid feel and the buttons been tested to withstand 1.000.000 times pressing.

I have been impressed with the Mawzer concept two or three years ago because it was poised to deliver on that promise. Yet the final product they came up with is much less extensible and much more expensive and much bigger then what was originally proposed - the midi controller for everyone it was not. So I was looking up on building your own. There are kits out there and with access to lasercutters through the web that looked like a good alternative. There was only one problem - someone would have needed to shower me with some time to make such a project feasible. Soldering, testing building rebuilding a midi controller is - no matter how good the kit you are bying - a task of months. Sure you have the perfect controller in the end for your needs but the time to get there I would rather spend on creating content that looks whicked.

Then along came a project (next blog entry in a minute) that requires to leave my trusty videomixer (an edirol V4 1st generation) at home because it ainīt going through the old route of outputting digital video through an analog cable back to a digital projector - but instead it goes digitally over the air directly to the very analog output. So the only piece of hardware that gave me direct access to my output outside of the laptop I have to toss out for that even - and since the event is quite big and lot of focus will be on what I am doing a replacement for that loss had to come.

But lets make a little detour. Some might ask "oh you have the laptop as input controller". Yes thats true and while I use the keyboard of the laptop extensively and I can feel blind where the cursor is when using the trackpad there are still some things that are not fast enough using the computer. For example changing the speed of a video clip. There is just nothing that allows you to quickly do that - quickly as in "make decission in one beat of a 120bpm clip and have the speed change at latest at the 4th beat or next downbeat". For that direct control is absolutely necessary.

So I had another information scavenging on the interwebs to see if there is any solution to my controller need. I looked at all the ones that are used by vj friends. Cheap ones, expensive ones. I tried to imagine using them and always came up with shortcomings. Most are just too big with too little functionality - not one would fullfill all my needs in one piece. I need Trigger pads, Sliders, Knobs, Rotaries and lots of them - like LOADS of them and as said in a small package to travel. I almost gave up seeing myself trying to move the mouse cursor in unmatched fashion to some crappy output.
Then I stumbled over faderfox. I donīt know how I got there and its even a german company - I have missed them all those years. Apparently they are very well known in the tracktor/live world of musicians - I jut had never seen someone using one of the controllers they offer nor have I ever stumbled across their website.

Their website at first put me off a bit - as you might have noticed in the beginning paragraph - I need some serious professional gear. I just donīt want anything to break half way through a performance. Things need to be sturdy and the knobs and faders and buttons of exceptional quality to not loose that great break in the music that might make a difference for the feel of a whole performance. So a website that looks like its done in the mid 90s and never been updated makes me suspicious as of the professionalism - yet in my midi research I found out already that the midi hardware guys donīt have a great sense of astethics when it comes to websites (doepfer anyone?). Also on their front page was something that was so ultimately intriguing that no bad design could ever throw me off before I figured out more.

What I saw was a modular midi controller concept of ultra small units that are made for ultra portability. And on top I could figure out instantly that all I need in control ever is there in a maximum of five units - with three units already controller heaven. I googled a bit more and found out that people who bought them liked them and where impressed with their professional feel. They are even running battery powered and three of them are not wider then a typical apple pro lappy. Also the DJ2 unit they offer pretty much replaces all the controllers of my Eridol V4 videomixer. So I ordered one.

The order was processed with human kindness (yes a person on the other end - seemingly the developer himself) and delivered in outstanding speed (next day after money arrived). But what I got blew all my expectations. Not only was the controller everything that was advertised - lightweight, professional build quality - faders as solid as they can be - but it was way more versatile then I ever thought. You know you look at a controller and see all the buttons and your mind maps them to functions, but this controller crams more functions in his small space then most other controllers I have looked at 10 times its size. Buttons are all dual configurable with the shift button - that means there are 36 button messages you can get out of the controller, the xy joystick (which ist sooo smooth) can send on four different channels - switchable in a nanosecond, the two rotary controller send out continuus data on 12 different channels and notes on four and have a "push down" event on eight channels. All Sliders and knobs can be muted to avoid jumps on the controlled buttons by holding down the shift key. Everything works flawlessly after a week of testing (so the rotaries are not supported by VDMX yet (nor by quartz composer) which sucks) and its a lot of fun using. There is a (chainable in case you get more controllers from them) poweradapter coming as extra add on, it all supports midi chaining and midi through. Batteries are included and are supposed to hold 80 hours (so through the longest club session ever if you are so inclined). I can recommend this whole heartly to anyone out there - especially vjs - looking for that perfect transportable midi controller with more control then the mind allows. The price - so it does seem steep for such a "small" thing - is fully warranted.


California: More chemicals to the fire

While impressive looking the fire departments are dumping more chemicals into california wildfires every day. The Phos-Check fire retardant is surely making the company who produces them very rich. They claim "its nothing other then a fertilizer" and on surface it looks like it:

From an australian research report:

Any amount of unaltered (un-burnt) Phos-Check would act as a direct source of N, P, S to the environment.

but just before it says:
The retardent also contains < 5% by weight of a range of performance additives that are confidential to the manufacturer, but the composition of which were made available to the consultant under a confidality agreement. The effect of high temperatures on these compounds is unknown.

Now that is a sentence that would get me worried but it goes on and does not get much more pretty.

Some of the additive compounds in Phos-Check are potentially harmful to biological systems and human health. Very little is known of the impacts of these in natural environments, including their longevity or transport in aquatic systems.

So while the main components are good fertilizers (so I still doubt dumping huge amount of sulfuric acids can be very good) the 5% that are under "confidentiality" are known to cause health problems and problems to the environments and they are know to be washed into rivers and streams with the next rain after the fires.

While I know that fires are really hell for the people living in the affected areas I also know that forest fires are a natural phenomenon that is actually helping the local area by supplying it with good natural fertilization from the charcoal burnt wood. And most of the fires ranging in the US lately can also be attributed to overcrowding areas that just do not sustain people in the long run in the manner of fashion that is common these days (level and betonize everything in sight, tear down everything in sight, put rivers into concrete walls so they can not flood anything that might need it, make the woods look "pretty" by clearing everything that isnīt in a straight line etc etc). And also people moving into these areas should surely know about the risks involved (and should look how they can help nature doing its thing to make everything more flourishing - that might include controlled fires etc).

One thing is for sure - dumping chemicals onto areas where its hard for trees to settle in the first place will make things rather worse in the long run and probably also have severe health effects on the local population.

More photos of Phos-Check dumping here.

The very scarce wikipedia entry on Phos-Check.


Semantic Web and my problem with it

Today I got the third invitation for a new "Web 3.0" applications "private" "beta". This one was for a service called twine and is basically a way to organize digital stuff - as wide as you want to describe stuff.
It has made me thinking why I am reluctant to spend more then 20 minutes with these services, why I donīt have a flickr account, why am not contributing to wikipedia and I have a conclusion that any of these companies should take to heart because I sincerely believe that I might not be the only one with this thought.
In a time where time seems to be the most important resource a person can posses I want to spend time so it benefits my future - and with that the future of the planet as well (because without it I wouldnīt have one). I love collective wisdom (as in wikipedia) I benefit greatly from it every day, but I have also been around the net long enough to know that spending hundreds of hours on forums, wikis etc. is a lost cause if this information you give out does not stay in your control. I donīt mean that I want to control the flow of this information, also I donīt want to control its death but I want to stay in control to keep it alive. I have been using the net in some form or another for about 13+ years now and I have seen a lot of the information I gave to it disappear forever into some unknown electric universe. Now companies are craving to organize not just my words but my pictures, videos, pfd documents - basically my knowledge - so that others can access it and find it easily - the so called web 3.0 or the semantic web. I applaud that thought as it will ultimately lead to a greater collective wisdom, but I also have shivers down my spine when I think that in the future I collect all my information on somebody elses machines. As I have just layed out companies on the web tend to diy sudden death, or swallowed up by corporation that have ill intends (yahoo->microsoft f.e. where delicious hosts tons of my precious links I collected over the years) or a change of leadership makes the wrong decisions, or they have a failed backup plan and all data is lost (just happened with a big internet provider in the US who lost mails from about a million mail accounts). Its just too much trust I would have to give out my most precious resource - time - to someone I donīt know, someone who could morph into someone else, someone who could become evil that I donīt want to be affiliated with. So I donīt think the solution for me is called twine or powerlabs or whatever - I think the solutions has to look different.
I want to have control over the longlevity of my information - yet I still like the idea of a collective organization of all knowledge in the world. So I see a decentralized structure of knowledge sharing as the better way forward. You know all that is needed is a standard that would put all the knowledge on my servers out in the open - to be freely harvested by semantic web engines. I can then keep my internal organizational structure, use tags or hierarchies or groups or whatever to let the outside world know what these documents mean and then the web 3.0 companies can just take this and put it in pretty easy to use interfaces and connect with information with other people. If one of those companies goes bust you still have not only the information but also the organization of this information and a different service can come along and use it all. Its sort of like the Open Social platform that tries to do exactly this with social networking (again I want to be in control to whom the time goes that I spend without a lock in and without a feeling that I loose everything).
So for Web 3.0 to really kick off you need something like an OpenSemantics framework that can be implemented into just about any information collecting tool out there (blogs, wikis, even forums). Something that helps you tag, organize, auto-organize your information and makes it available to others out there. It has to be an open source standard that is extendible to a lot of information carriage formats and probably it has to be pushed by something like the W3C to give it enough traction to gain any footing against these thousand of new "web 3.0" startups.
Until then I refuse to give out more time to any of these things no matter how many "private beta" invites they send me.


You know you are in the future when …

you read headlines like Transgender man is pregnant or Man regrows his cut off fingertip with pigs bladder powder (so this one could also come from the dark ages witches ;) or Engineers Test Highly Accurate Face Recognition or that google thinks it has a turing test capable AI to be used for natural language search. Now if it would all just translate to now for everyone instead of in the lab sometimes in the future the future would have arrived - yet no proof, concept art, concept essays, blog posts is all we get while our pals drive our CO2 emissions to levels where the world might have a heart attack before any of these things pan out - I for one could live with some real news that are not political that are not sci-fi wishes futuretelling that are actually bringing mankind ahead instead of make them dream - then again I see most of the westworldpopulation living in an alternate universe where global warming gives some tension, there is no banking crisis, war is only in a different world and all problems have only one side to look at - the look at them self is forbidden by death.


Tibet, the holiest of holy lands

RedMonk.JPGI was waiting and hoping and hoping that what I saw and heard would not be true that it was an exageration by the media. I believed firmly that this could not happen - not now anymore. As some of you know I was in that holiest of holy lands in the year 2000. Its one of the places on earth where you go and come back as a changed person if you look beyond the golden roofs, into the spirituality into the people into the high treeless land. Yet what changed me most was a multiple days talk with a young tibetan monk about buddhism, about tibet, about politics about Tibets past and its future - and for me in the end one thing was clear - there is no Tibet without China anymore, the occupation has been made permanent and the Tibetans slowly started to realise this and tried to adjust their lives accordingly tried to save their culture nonetheless. But it was also clear that there are still warriors among the Tibetans - those who would want to fight - those who wait for a chance to blow up the next bridge - but these people have been by far far the minority. Back then even the Dalai Lama admitted that the goal for Tibetans should be cultural sovereignty - politically they stand no chance at the sleeping giant dragon.
Now I donīt know exactly what happened but I do actually believe the Chinese media account because that is exactly what I saw when I was there 8 years ago.

Peaceful march in India joined by prayer ceremonies in Lhasa - organised by the Dalai Lama. Extreme World Wide Media attention - those who still want to fight stir up trouble, poor Tibetans living in Lhasa take opertunity to go against some Han-Chinese controlled shops - sleeping dragon awakes, sees no difference between the friendly protestors, monks and the raving mob - especially since the main monestaries involved are right inside Lhasas Tibetan district - kills them all (and I truly believe the 300 dead number floated around is understimating the real toll of what happened). More restrictions in Lhasa (which have always been there but where not enforced heavily btw) complete news blackout, closing of monestaries (making them pure tourist attractions in return) and the only dream left for the Tibetans - to save their culture, religion and spirituality - might be lost forever.

Who to blame? Western media arrogance in thinking they are helping by giving the protests such a huge feedback without talking about the dangers of a Tibetan uprising that stands no chance and therefore giving the violent groups of both sides a good reason to exploit the peacefull presentation of their original goals. And yes I do not only blame mainstream media but also some mainstream blogs like boingboing who should have known better then just spread a meme.


Net advertisement is ineffective across the board - who would have thought

I never understood how google is making these shitloads of money because I can not believe that "click throughs" most of them accidental give advertisers any kind of leg up in the market. It seems my suspicion is right as a recent article on slashdot notes:

"A recent study finds that 6% of Web users generate 50% of the click-throughs. Worse news for advertisers: these clickers are not representative of the population as a whole, most have incomes under $40K, and their clicks are not related to any offline buying. (They are mostly males between 25 and 44 years of age.) The number of clicks on an ad campaign is also not strongly correlated with brand awareness for the ads' subject, according to the study. This is bad news for ad-supported Web sites and businesses, as rates should drop if the Net economy begins to take these findings seriously."

JNo brand awareness - no translation to actually go out and by a thing neither online nor offline - so what the heck is the use of online ads - especially unbranded adwords in general? But my suspicion goes even further - advertising as a whole in its current form of super branding and subtle force buying has seen the end of life on any media. People are over saturated by XX thousand brands competing for their brain cells and actually people find they might wanna use their braincells for something else. I would say as with the decline of TV we will also see a decline of advertisements in the coming years - now the question begs -> no brands -> no advertisements -> no free money -> no free culture? or is it free culture -> no brands -> no money -> no advertisement?


Blogs are a Two way Medium

Sorry_Babe.jpgI once had a friend who advocated a free society, a bottom up approach to living and pushing digital technology so that these ideas could strive and feed a free society. A discussion on one of his articles on one of his blogs did garner a lot of attention and spawned lots of unregulated discussion, a fruitful discussion among what one would think are part time intellectuals or generally people who have a belief - something that is not found very often in this society of blind followers. Sadly the aforementioned person did not fully understand that he was using a two way medium that does spawn those discussions and only if it does it has a chance to live up to its full potential as a new medium that breaks free with traditional push only media. I am sad to see this blindness taking hold instead of trying to find a technical solution he switched back to the push-publishing dark-ages killing the quite violent but also fruitful discussion in its tracks, since his is no blog anymore by definition but rather a static internet dark age website it also disappears from my blog roll - I am deeply disappointed not only at his standpoint in the discussion (again this is is debatable and everyone is entitled to his standpoint as long as it is his own and everyone has supporting arguments which in this discussion every side had more or less good ones) but much much more to his control approach toward his blog readers. Yes a discussion like this is scary and sure I would have understood if this was getting into a huge flame war - but it wasnīt. Every side - emotionally charged - presented their case with lots of good questions to the other side and most of the time things stayed pretty much on topic (so the topic was wider then the blog entry imposed). There was simply no need to cut off the discussion nor was there a need to cut of all comments on the blog.


Tradtional Media is still clueless

I just read a german study about media use in the "future" (PDF! warning). Its done by the "Gesellschaft für Innovative Marktforschung" (Society for Innovate Marketing Research) and boy are they a clueless bunch of wannabees.

take the following statement:

Vor allem das Internet wird hier eine entscheidende Rolle spielen und die etablierten (Massen- )Medien vor große Herausforderungen stellen. Die Nutzungsdichte innerhalb der nachwachsenden Generationen zeigt, dass sich das Internet zukünftig als ein neuer „Big Player“ im Konzert der wichtigsten Medien einreihen wird.

(It translates along the lines of "The internet will be playing an important part in the future and will pose a threat to established media.)

Well let me break it to you the internet IS a major player in the content market. Traditional media has been delagated to place 2, 3 and 4 in the target group of 14-19 year olds already and traditional media is already a dying species. We are in 2008 not in 2005 anymore. I can go on with more quotes out of this redicioulus paper that go along the same line - basically the people who wrote it (one studied politics the other socio-economy) should look for a different job because they are writing about a media as if it where at a standstill the last three years, but the media itself is living in the future constantly. The study reads like someone has not got that the whole "web2.0" thing is already a bursting bubble that was so much hype and from the beginning a mere marketing scheme for things already in place since internet 1.0.

one more quote:
Medien müssen sich daher zum einen als Plattformen verstehen, die den Nutzern bei Bedarf die Möglichkeit einer aktiven Mitgestaltung in der Auswahl der Inhalte bzw. des Programmflows bietet.

(Media must see itself as a platform that gives their users - if required - the possibility of an active co-designing of the content selection or the programm flow)

LOL... People ARE CREATING THEIR OWN MEDIA. If TV stations rush to the net now and give the user the possibility - if required - of co-designing their content selection or program flow - all TV stations will die an even faster death then they will eventually do anyway. People grab stuff from everywhere there is no brand loyalty anymore - its only the content that counts and that will be more and more created by the people who watch it them self. No wonder with these kind of studies that the traditional media is so far behind in their thinking. And just creating a "community" will backfire shorter or later because everyone is building "artificial" communities - at one point there are so many online communities as there are websites and then NONE of these communities will provide any value to anyone because people will just spend their time on their own community - which is rooted in real life.

The fragmentation of media is already taking its toll - the only ones who take a toll is the traditional media. Just ask your kid from next block how much tv he/she/it watches, how much its is on the interweb and how much of the time it watches tv its also on the intertube at the same time (having the tv as an ambient noise generator) and how much of this tv watching is really about 1 or 2 shows that would also easely be watched on the iTubes as soon as this is a viable option and how much less tv its gonna watch then and that it wonīt care where the content is coming from in the first place and the trillions of places it could come from and the nonexisting filter and the paradise and the user generated content that draws them away from one place. ANALYST DUDES: The future is much more complex then just extrapolating media habits of yesterday to tommorrow - look around you stop reading the net and interview your "target" group. The future for big media is bleak, its scattered already all across the floor - we are aiming at a free media culture and you aint be able to do shit about it just speeding it up with "predictions" like this. (they are even getting paid -by big media - to do this - hilarious). Oh and read "settop boxes" in there somewhere - now let see if anyone ever makes a settop box that actually sells (appleTV I am looking at you) - because if not then its clear that the TV as the central hub of media is also loosing its status symbol and maybe even "the big screen" as well. It will only be there for immersive games and the rest is done on the portable screen (or the contact lenses). "onDemand" - is two words that already lost there meaning - on the interwebs ALL content is on demand or it does not exist.

The paper ends with the following statement:

Angesichts des hohen Stellenwerts von Fernsehen und Radio werden diese beiden Medien mit Sicherheit auch in der kommenden Dekaden eine herausragende Bedeutung besitzen. Daneben wird sich in Zukunft immer stärker das Internet etablieren.

(In the light of the high significance of TV and radio those two medias will with certainty have an outstanding importance in the coming decades . In the future the internet will establish itself alongside.

bold predictions guys n gals... now isnīt the internet already an established media - or did I miss something the last 10 years? and how much importance is certainty in the coming freaking DECADES?

I could go on and dissect every single sentence in this "buzzword complient" "ANALysis" but I leave the exercise for the dear reader if they dare....


Movable Type is free

As noted before Movable Type has been put under the GPL (Gnu General Public License) which means its open source and free as in speech and the bare bone version also free as in beer. We have used Movable Type from the beginning and just couldnīt - wouldnīt want to to migrate to a different platform as it always seemed to much hassle. Also we coughed up the small fee for a multisite blog (that was a point where we almost switched). This is all past us now and it seems we have bet on a long distance horse with our blogging software. Now I think a company developing the software and having their business model not to sell the software but to sell distributions and support will be the business model for all software rather sooner then later (quote me in 10 years). Because with a truly open source approach you have tons of helping hands in your code to make it better more stable faster secure and saturate it with plugged in feature at no cost. You as a company are still the ones who know the software best (you coded it from the start) so you are probably the best to help big corporations to install it - meanwhile the free nature of your software allows anyone to get used to and train them self to use it, generating a legion of enthusiast who in return will advocate your software over closed source alternatives giving you company a sustainable income - everyone is happy. This approach is also in my opinion much better then the all non leader community approach of free software (for example wordpress) with no real direction and to many side roads leading to stagnation or confusion among users (drupal is also one of those beasts, buts thats about to change to).
As said I think sooner or later most of the software industry comes around this business model. I am very happy that I donīt need to think about migrating the two active blogs.


An inside look at the hot dotted mac cat

Or the nitpicky Leopard longtime user review

As some of you know I am actively involved/enrolled with the Appleseed which is apples closed beta testing group for a lot of their software. I have been doing just that since about seven years now and its always a lot of fun mixed with a lot of frustration and a lot of pleasure if you see the bug that you reported fixed or that enhancement request you did make it into the final version. Recently I have been actively involved in Leopard testing - for the last 14 month that is.

As we Appleseeder are halfly lifted from our non disclosure agreement with the release of the final version I would like to talk about a user perspective in the OS for a short paragraph.

Its been a slow coming and a lot of builds I could not test because my equipment was not compatible but in the end just a month before the release they send us a build where magically a lot of problems went away - yet the first time I installed Leopard I got this urge not to go back - even so I did not see any major improvement that would justify this reaction. But its the small things and now after the 14 month I can safely say that I have never ever seen such a productivity improvement when upgrading to an OS.

My absolute favorite - and once you get used to it you gonna see why - is: SPACES.
Designate spaces for different work conditions (one for 3D, one for video editing, one for still picture editing, one for office stuff, one for system stuff f.e.) assign programs to these spaces and remember what space number is what and all of the sudden all messy window overlapping is past – forever. I can not stress how great this works and urge everyone to take the time to set up individual spaces (drag and drop apps you use into the space preference panel and assign a space number). Spaces is whicked fast even on my old (now dead) Titanium Powerbook 1Ghz.

Time Machine is a mixed blessing – while I like the idea the whole thing is a typically 1.0 version. I personally would not use it and I know that some testers had serious problems with it. The lack of fine graned controllability is a real bummer – an "advanced setting" button is missing – I hate it.
Safari had been a surprise – I though it would suck first but the new search is amazing. It is the first search that real gives you a visual feedback – I love it totally.
Also the new DEBUG menu goes long ways – not Firebug yet but already very close with full inspection of boxmodels, load times, page code etc – great (you have to enable the debug menue to see this in action).

Bluetooth and syncing is vastly improved in speed and stability.

The new dock is a step up I guess but nothing revolutionary. I do like to use the stacks as launch managers for programs – for anything else they are useless as they only display a certain amount of files and I find myself to just use the open in Finder button inside the stacks all the time for folders that change content a lot – spaciality is not Apple core competence these days and as soon as you do serious stuff that is still a big problem.

BUT they are making headway's here and there. The "new" finder had been a huge disappointment for me at first as they put up a new face without fundamentally change the underbelly – this seems to have changed a tiny bit so in the latest releases after a big backlash inside the seeder community. I can care less if we have coverflow in the finder, but I see the reason why it in there. For me the only possible reason to put coverflow inside the finder is to use it with a multitouch input device because coverflow with a mouse is just painfully slow but I can imagine it to be great to flick you fingers through your files this way. Generally the finder window is MUCH better then before. It seems more ordered and once you get over yourself and accept new things bring change it is actually quite usable. And, hey, individual windows REMEMBER there setting now. So when you set folder to list view next time you open it it actually opens in list view. It took them 7 years to get this functionality in since the seeders posted a million and one Enhancement requests about it but hey better late then never. Sadly so it still does not remember where the window was placed last time you opened it – this is still the single biggest problem for me in the finder interface. Oh and still no tabs in finder windows :( The underbelly of the finder did improve magically in the last two - three builds. Still no "live" finder but you can at least reliably force reload folder contents by reopening the folder (no that did not work before). And generally it seems a tid faster when copying and it does not lock up when there is a server missing (at least not more then 20 seconds – much better then the 10 minutes it used to under tiger).
Screensharing rocks - its solid mature and fun. Not much more to say about it. Its one of the things you ask "why not earlier" but the clean integration and the speed and the quality of the screen cast is just what you would expect nothing more nothing less and all without installing anything – I can see Apple going a "virtual desktop" route with this sooner or later, I strongly expect more on this front (true virtual desktop as they had in NeXt). I have a space with my server and my two g5 on my Powerbook and can control the whole office with just clicking "ctrl 5" which gets you to space 5 and to full c to your comps – again GREAT.
The rest is all small things scattered throughout the system. Especially the System Preferences have seen some great improvements, like better Networking features. An advanced tab for user management to set you home folder to somewhere different (YAY! no more netinfo mangling). Filesharing with access lists also works incredibly well and you can set sharepoints which is an appealing concept (so it does have its rough edges).

There is a LOT of things for developer, since I am not one I can not comment to detailed on them. But one thing that is great for me is that you can now use RSS in Quarz Composer files that are not Screensavers (something that was disabled in Tiger because of the fear of intrusion through that door). So you can make a Quarz Composer Composition with an RSS feed and have that play through Quicktime on a webpage.

And while I am at it: Quicktime. Its the same old f*$k s%&t under the belly – even worse I have reason to believe it has seen a serious performance decrease. If you open lots of movies (above 200) it crashes it drags down the system and generally I would hope one day Apple takes the gagantuan task to replace it with modern code - they might do just that with the QTKit but its not beeing used by QTPlayer yet it seems or they just copy and pasted code from old Quicktime to QTKit. They should just use the codebase of VLC and make Quicktime opensource and have the coder/decoders closed or something - the current state of affair is not acceptable.
BUT I do like the new overlay interface acrros the board. Very great interface desging not getting in the way and absolutely minimal but usable. Great. Same goes for the new DVD player overlay interface.

Oh and I almost forgot to mention QUICKLOOK. As with spaces it seems to be a small addition but it is one of those productivity boosts that you do not see at first but once you use it more then three times you can not let go of it. Select any type of file hit the space bar and you see a nice overview of all the files or a bigger preview of just one file (you can scroll through all of them). It previews about everything a normal user uses and is extendible via plugins to preview even more - it can go fullscreen. Next time you get a USB stick full of photos and text files and pdfs and movies (yes it playes QTMovies faster then QTPlayer ;) and whatnot you see this as the most incredible thing to save you some time looking for the right thing.

Another thing I want to talk about is Mail. The epicenter of love/hate inside me. Its been improved A LOT in my opinion. That it just "sees" dates and adresses inside a mail and lets you easily add those to the calender/adress book is just damn splendid. Overall it also seems faster and more reliable. But the new features are a bit on the slow side – especially RSS feeds. So I do love them inside mail much more then inside Safari (a hot debate I can tell you among us seeders), its just not quite there yet, but I see mails interface as the better one for managing and archiving the feeds. Notes are also great but I have not found extensive use of them. A very welcome addition is the new small activity monitor that you can enable in mails main window bottom left corner.

New iChat is a very nice evolution with tabs seeing the day of light (finally) but in typical apple fashion are integrated just lovingly. Conference videostreams are going to be hip especially as you can show someone you vacation video through iChat while in the conference :) iChat theater supports any fileformat that Quicklook supports btw. - on the server side. The client side does not need all the Quicklook plugins to see the content as its streamed as plain ol video.

Calender has been missed in most reviews I have seen yet it has seen a fundamental shift. First of all third party application can now seamlessly communicate with it (that was a pain under Tiger if you ever used a TimeTracking program). And the general editing a date interface has changed for the better, in general its MUCH much faster in the interface.

Other smaller improvement of note to round this up is tabs and better visual presets in Terminal. A better cleaner with color/icon codes of errors and a vastly improved automator with a record function.

Overall I do not see this update as a "minor" one anymore even so it seemed like it at first. All the small improvements combined do make for a much improved experience - especially for power users (I do not see normal users benefitting THAT much). I do not have the final final build so I can not judge stability in general but I can say that it might be rough on the edges still and if you want a fluently working system wait until 10.5.3 at least.

My only wish to Apple at this point – put in the full ZFS! (oh and FTFF and the FQT).

If you have any specific questions you may ask in the comments and I try to answer them.

Oh and ONE MORE THING: Backup EVERYTHING before you install this cat it bites at times!
(this is not just a simple "backup always before you install new software" warning - this is a serious "you better back up" warning!)

Technorati Tags:
, , , ,


Police State in Action (that is Kleinmachnow/germany)

Last night Steffen and me thought that it would be nice to have a stroll through the neighborhood. Just because the weather was better then expected (for an Oktober night unusally warm). You know just walk down streets and talk and chill. I have done this a lot in my youth as everyone else I know in Kleinmachnow. I do not think walking on streets is anything unusual - yes it was quite late but hey not everyone goes to bed at 9 o clock and not everyone wants to sit in front of the boob TV all night.
Yet it seems walking on the street is nowadays illegal or at least subject to intense questioning and background checking - it seems walking on the street is abnormal and you must be a terrorist or something if you are not in bed by 10 oclock.
Why you might ask? Well during the 3 hours walk/bikeride we had been chased first by a blue car (definatly chasing us because the followed us a bit into a small patch of wood before stopping when we went onto a too small road to follow us with car).
We found it strange but forgot about it fast. A six pack of police in a side street didnīt see us. What it was doing there escapes us because we were litarally the only people on the street and we havenīt seen a car for on hour.
Then a bit later around the next corner the doors opened from a silver VW Passat (license plate somewhat P-A something), two dodgy looking people got out (yes you get a bit of an adrenalin rush) and stood in front of us. At this point we had been walking - pushing the bikes, so we were not even members of driving population in any way.
The older guy showed us a some kind of silver coin to identify himself as police.
Then the questioning began. Where are we going, what are we doing there, why are we not home(? why should I - there is no law prohibiting me beeing outside right? Or is there a curfew in Kleinmachnow nowaday?)
Since I never take an ID with me because you do not have too and Steffen also didnīt have any that seemed to make us suspicious. The younger guy who had strangely red small eyes took down our names and adresses and either he was born nervous as hell or had such an adrenalin rush or took some powder (I still think the latter) because he was shaking so bad when writing that I was almost laughing.
But why the fuck did I have to tell my half life story to some cops when all I did was walking down the street? Well it gets better - wait a bit.
So they made a background check and I asked the older cop a couple of questions, specifically what they are looking for. He didnīt want to say trying to get out of the question telling me that there is some bike theft going on in town - well as long as I can remember there is bike theft in this town but I was still allowed to roam my home city without beeing subjected to intense questioning - why the fuck do they need to know where I am coming from or where I am going to?!
After telling us that there is nothing against us in the police files (always good to know, these days there could be so much you have done wrong right?) they let us go.
Steffen went home right afterwards and so I too headed home. But just about 500 meter further down the doors of another car opened (I suspect this to be the car that chased us earlier as it was also a blue opel combi) and two young shaved headed people stepped outside and in my way telling me to stop. I instantly started laughing, and before they even could identify themselves I told them that I really just going home what my name is my birthday adress and that I had just been subjected to intense questioning by their peer. There eyes opened in shock that I was so offensive but they really didnīt know what to do. The one told the other to keep an eye on me while he was getting back into his car to check with the other cops. He came out of the car looking almost sad and told me I could go.

I mean NOT EVEN IN THE GDR has anyone EVER asked me what I am doing on the street and I lived 10 meters away from the wall!

I would say the police state is already enacted and its worse then even my paranoid self thought. Expect regular roadblocks at night by this time next year.

So if you are in Kleinmachnow at night expect to be searched, questioned and humiliated.


Apple starts to piss me off

They should have never entered into the iPod bussiness. Even so its great for shareholder they are on the right path to become what they so long have tried to avoid becoming - another microsoft. Not only is Leopard shaping up to be the most underwhelming piece of Operating system coming out of cupertino since system 7.1 its also - if they are eying for oktober release - one of the buggiest - and there is not even that much stuff in there that new. Certainly not more then there was in Tiger. So this is sad. But not only this - there core major down to earth bussinness was selling ultra cool laptops. Well... I am waiting the 5th week now for mine - they said it would ship in 10 days (which I thought at the time was already unacceptable).
Apple - the company that once was great and is becoming more mediocre by the minute. There is nothing excellent, nothing revolutionary, nothing for the crazy ones, nothing for the odd ones anymore to get even a tiny bit excited. Its only for unexperienced the mom and dad the once who have no clue. Its sad.
What is even more sad is that unless you are a masochist there is no other choice out there. Because the choices are either configuration hell on the command line and then having a stable and secure OS or another mom and pop approach and having an unstable bloatware os. Sadly OS X is going to be unstable piece of bloatware in its next incarnation.
I hope there will be outrage and apple thinks about its core values and business sooner rather then later because they are in to loose massive user-base if Linux/UbuntuLinux becomes just a tiny bit more useful.

So there I wait until the piece of metal arrives and then I probably have to turn in for service after a month as I have done for any other powerbook I owned, just this time it will probably take 3 month until they fix it. Maybe I should cancel the order...
But yeah sure an iPhone with the capability of 15 years old computers will bring human kind forward.


"I have nothing to hide" counter arguments

With todays surveillance mania by our oh so beloved governments there is this one big argument cropping up everywhere in favor of surveillance. Its the "I have got nothing to hide" one that uninformed mom and pop spout out in repetition to propaganda mass media brainwash.
I personally usually just say "not at the moment", because what you do today might be illegal tomorrow with a neonaziconservative regime ruling earth.
But since that convinces only some smart people there is more ammunition needed.

Some of that come in a form of a PDF from Professor Daniel Solove.

My favorite is still the the "You have curtains? Yes? Well then it seems you have something to hide!"

There is also a nice slashdot thread about it.

Technorati Tags:
, ,


My Computer Class 1987 Kleinmachnow East Germany

my_computerclass_1987.jpgI know this might be amusing to some so as a sunday laugh I post a photo I just found while cleaning up. It shows part of the Mr. Aschbrenners Computer class anno 1987 in deep red socialistic Kleinmachnow / East Germany. Its me sitting in the middle on a kick ass KC85/II sporting 8 KiloByte RAM, a NO SMALL CAPS rubber round keyboard, a whopping "HD ready" 320x256 pixel screen, a "save me 10 times and you have one functioning copy" cassette recorder and an operating system called CAOS (Cassette Aided Operating System) with lovely BASIC. When I remember correctly this photo appeared in some kind of newspaper at the time. I actually programmed an animation on this thing back then even so there was no direct graphic access - I hacked around it by creating a custom font set and then cycling through the typefaces... ah the old times...


How to breed terrorists

On my way to good old england I witnessed a couple of things that I think are worth mentioning. Haven´t been in the country for less then a year but things seem to change radically. First off was the flight.
Boarding a plane in Berlin was actually easier then the last time I was flying. I did notice two guys wearing traditional islamic hats, beards, white robes normal pants and some Nike(heavy tm) sneakers. I also witnessed a orthodox jew black robe, black hat, black locks, black shoes. All three where about 25-30 years old. At the security check in in germany I could also witness that all three had a german passport and funnily enough all three got to board the plane without any hassle neither at the security nor at the plane nor nothing. I would even say people absolutely didn´t care about any of them. They all seemed nice easygoing fellas who did not harras or annoy anyone. Then we landed in London Gatwick. While getting ON the plane in Berlin took us about 15 minutes (including security check) there was a HUGE line in London getting OUT the airport. The EU citizens where probably waiting about 40 minutes to get through the passport check the non EU citizens line was about 10 times as long filling a huge hall. Poor people there probably waited about 3 hours to get OUT of the airport into the country of the free. Now as said the three "test" persons had german passport and luckily all three where right in front of me. While everyone got through the passport check just fine without any annoying questions something happened AFTER the passport check that I would call blatant harassment. The orthodox jew was, like everyone else, walking away towards the place where you get your luggage. The two muslims where also starting to walk in this direction but just at a point where EVERYone trying to get through the passport check (probably about 1000 people) could see them two men in black (I am not kidding) approached them showed them some identity card and took their passports away telling them to wait right on the spot and not move. Now my friends thats an embarrassing situation and if I would have been in their Nike shoes I would start to build up some serious hatred against the english government. They where traveling light had been through two passport checks and one serious security check in Berlin, where german citizens and someone from a different religion had just been walking through without a problem. That is what I call breeding terrorists and to any wanna be terrorist I would suggest dressing up as an orthodox jew because these people are never stopped or harassed at all.
But it wasn´t all that I could witness. Besides Britain having one security camera operational for every five inhabitants this country is militarizing heavily. On the way from London to Bristol I saw SIX tanks on the streets about 15 other military vehicles and eight fully armed assault helicopters. Anyone ever saying anything about east germany having been militarized needs to get a grip, at no time in my live have a seen such a military amassment in a non combat zone in one day and I grew up with the Berlin wall in eyesight.
Now I am in beautiful Devon where nature and farms rule the landscape and everything is so absolutely peacefull and quite if it weren´t for the two to three assault helicopters flying low above every day since I arrived.
Naturally with my background growing up in a suppressing communist state I am hyper aware of these things, people around here don´t seem to notice them too much. I do think that is deliberate. I do think they are training the english population slowly to accept the fact that the military rules the country and any dissent is not welcome. And they are using the evil islamic terrorist to give them an enemy that unites the english population in fear to then in return repress them.
Sadly with our current nazi loving interior minister Mr. Schäuble germany will have the same faith in the not too distant future. Free England is almost lost already I would say, this is about as much 1984 as it needs to get for the government (or megacorporation or whoever is in power) to completely suppress any dissenting voice for eternity. Its brutal and it makes me sad and feel helpless and powerless.

Technorati Tags:
, ,


Software Company Ethics 2.0 and the pleasant surprise I had today

First and foremost: I am a very skeptical person and I am very cynical especially when it comes to today companies and their policies but what happened today shattered a small part of my world view about kapitalism in a very positive way.

A little background story: As most of you dear readers know I am doing lots of 3D animation visual FX and similar virtual pop art media work. I do this since 1992 where I started with a program called Silver3D (that then became Imagine) on an utlra fast Amiga 2000. Anyway this backstory is getting out of hand already. I love doing 3d - or at least I love what comes out in the end because it allows me to put into visual form for other people what I see inside myself (even the boring small stuff) so for me its the only way to share my inner vision. The big problem is the technical side. It consumes so much energy that I can´t just pump out stuff. Things are getting better on a grand scale in this field. Jez – I can´t keep focus. Anyway one of the coolest things that I love to do is integrate 3d into real life footage. Its lovely and puts my innerpictures right into clash with reality (and I love it). BUT for doing that you either have to take a camera on a tripod (boring) or try to recreate a real world camera move inside your computer through a process generally called "tracking" today. While there might be a third way that I will hopefully talk about soon the tracking is the state of the art thing to do. Now as easy as it sounds it is not. Its a thing that until a couple of years ago you did by hand (yes I did that by hand in a 1996 project for a local bar commercial with a flying dragon - 30 seconds handtracking 3d is something you never forget in your life as a BAD experience). Of course it was the military that developed computerized tracking guides for their missles and some Hollywood studios got to think that it would be cool to use these algorithms and created half intelligent match moving programs. Now as it is with hollywood and its inner circle - they do not like healthy competition purely based on artistic merits (some bad tongues might interpret this as they would loose their monopolistic propagandistic business model) so in good american manner they keep competition out by either completely shutting out the public (they only use "inhouse software" thats never released in any form) or they price software at sums where any independent artist would need to sell both kidneys half a liver and three quarters of a heart to get their hands on it (outside the wrath of the studios that is) - oh and its not just Hollywood its the whole entertainment "industry". But I am loosing track again (pun pun). Match moving is no exception and in the early days matchmove software cost you the sum you would pay for a house and a garden. Match Mover I think it was that cost like upward of 50.000 USD until like 2 years ago then it all changed. First a university project came to the "market" called "icarus" and it rocked (and it was available for the mac - the only one at that time). It was a very crude interface and all but what it did was generate very accurate 3d tracks. The absolutely shocking thing was: It was free. Yes some student/prof hackers did something for free that the close to hollywood developers where charging you the price of a house for. (Just for the record about the same time it was when Alias|Wavefront|nowAutodesk Maya was dropping in price from like 20.000 USD for the "small" version to 1.500 USD). So the monopoly of big industry studios in terms of 3D was falling like the sky on a doomsday. Then when all independent 3D artists where dancing in the street filmed by shaky cheap DV cameras and later accompanied by their 3d visions the software disappeared. Speculation and conspiracy theories emerged in the whispery hallway chatters in rundown artist mansions all over the world. Did a big hollywood post house bought the right to the software, did a rival company made "contribution" to the University were the software was developed - nobody really knew until a small message on the icarus website hinted that the developers where going to become independent developers and form a company called The Pixel Farm (I am not so sure on that part, PixelFarm might have existed before, but for the drama lets say they created it). The company was also based in some English country side rather then on the self-dominating westcoast of the US of A. So they brought out Icarus under the new name PFTrack (PixelFarmTrack) und they did so for a far lesser price then the original about 4500 Euros and on top brought out cheaper siblings like PFMatch (750 Euros) and PFHoe (150 Euros) that seemingly put the 3D in reach the indy artist. Just last year another app entered the market called SynthEyes (crude interface not good project management but good tracks) which sells for like 350 USD. In the end if you are serious about 3D tracking you need the big PFTrack or one of the other big two (Matchmover boujou) that came down in price to match (pun again) PFTrack. PFTrack for me would still be the choice as it offers about every option available for 3D tracking and matchmoving and scene reconstruction and track project management available and you really want all that for a good workflow without boundaries. Still I mean 4.500 Euros come on, what artist is gonna be able to pay that chunk of money?

The real story (god I wish I would stay on point better): Having an ok start into my after school career at the moment and with some 3d projects that need tracking lining up on the horizon I decided to try out some demo versions to see what I really need and what tracking software would work with me best and so applied to PixelFarm to get a 3 Day fully functioning version of the app — and I loved it a lot.
After 4 days I got a lovely formulated email saying something like "thank you for testing of our product if you have feature suggestions, saw bugs or have general commentary please let us know". Needless to say that the inner betatester came out in me and I gave them a long detailed answer of my experience, send them some crashlogs and a very repeatable bug report and about six feature suggestions. A mail came back thanking me and while I planned the bank robbery to pay for the app the communication went silent. That was all about two weeks ago.

- a little pause for the suspense factor -

Today the phone rang with a number somewhere from germany that I had never seen before. Now normally those numbers only call to sell me something (like lottery tickets or "free" bankaccounts for all the money I don´t have or a vacuum cleaner or such shit). So I was reluctant to answer at first. But I do like to hear their sorry attempts to actually win me over (just so I can cruelly hang up on them) so I picked up the phone. A nice voice in broken german answered and ask if its me on the other end. I said sure that it was me already wondering why they get so personal. Then right in the second sentence he mumbled something that I understood - PFTrack. AHA...

- pause for more suspense -

Now I was preparing to ward off a reseller for PFTrack who probably got my contact details from the trial signup. First I offered him to switch the conversation to english (his german was not very understandable) so the conversation went on. He turned out to be really caring and listening and wasn´t in the slightest way pushing for a sale — a new tactic I though (I already mentioned that I am cynical and skeptical right?). Once we were over the smalltalk part of the conversation (great programm blah blah) I told him quite blunt that there is no way in hell that I can afford the program at this stage. Then (and I spare you another suspense pause) something happened that I have not ever witnessed in this capitalistic society. He offered to me that if I have a project coming up that needs 3d tracking we can talk about it that I would get PFTrack for that project for free.


He said they intend to multiply market share and get into the Industry and they need artists that can use the program and a bigger installed user base so that PFTrack can become the industry standard. Ok thats quite a capitalistic thought process but in the subsequent talk he acknowledged that companies need to care for the customers and see their needs to expand themselves and a lot of other things that normally would sound like marketing talk but sounded for once very honest. He also said that whatever I need we work something out - also for a permanent license in the future. Some more niceties and the conversation ended.
I am baffled - I mean we are talking not about a free Donut or something like that but about a 4.500 Euro software. No they won´t give it to me completely for free but help me establish my business. Something that makes SOOO much sense from my and their perspective its unbelievable.

Conclusion or that means the following: Software companies are start to realize that code can´t be sold like hardware. That there are different needs for the same product out there that deserve special treatment. That your installed user base with lots of experience using your software is more important then a single lost(or never to be done in the first place) sale. That leads to a completely new software sales paradigm for the future - the call today was definitely a right step into that direction and I will surely take them up on the offer rather sooner then later. It is a SURE way to get along with piracy or making the reason for piracy mood. I would always pay for software if I earn money with it but I can´t pay 5.000 euros for a software for projects that - at least in the beginning - only garner 500 euros - there is no relation in my not so humble opinion. Software needs to become an individual product that earns money through services (see all and every big opensource project where this works quite well already).

So thanks to Marcos Silva-Santisteban from FES Media GmbH - the german Pixelfarm reseller - for the enlightening conversation.

Technorati Tags:


Quicktime MacRumors and Reality

Today I stumbled upon a note from a german "mac news site" with the bold headline:

Big Update of Quicktime and OpenGL soon

And my heart jumped like that of probably a lot of others plagued by legacy quicktime that brings the most powerfull of apple computers to a standstill and that makes even "pro" graphic cards run painfully slow. After the Finder Quicktime is the least modern part of OSX and OpenGL while up to sniff with current standards seems awefully slow in games but even more so in pro 3D applications. Now as fast as my heart jumped it dropped because when I read the first line of the article the source cited was a well known unstable rumors site and you seeing me here blogging means that Quicktime is FAR away from a big release because otherwise I would be under NDA and not be able to tell you that Apple prepares a Quicktime 8 or X or revive the CoreVideo brand. I have no idea about OpenGL and can´t talk about whats happening inside Leopard in regards to those two things. I would be delighted if Quicktime gets a major revision until Leos release but from what I am allowed to tell at the moment there is no sign (well I hope I am allowed to talk about things that are NOT beeing tested right?). Given Apples quality control in software and Appleseed betatesting this is either a hidden feature noone has seen other then mighty Steve or this is a completely made up statement to garner some clicks through deep sitting fear of most professional video mac users.
In the end its pretty clear that Apple needs to update the Finder, Quicktime and OpenGL to ward of millions of hate mails in the future and fend off bad press – if it happens in Leos initial release remains to be seen - I for one would be the most happy person if all three would make it, yet I think its a hard push to include those three things into the OS and ship it in three month as a fully tested version, but there is a secret rumor that thinks Apple holds a secret underground facility in North Korea where nuclear mutated people do nothing else then test the Leopard.

Technorati Tags:
, ,


Web Development in 2007

Or: Does Internet Explorer suck intentionally?

I have just completed a small webproject — nothing life changing, nothing fancy, nothing ridiculously cool and generally a very very small project — perfect to fiddle around with some technology that I wanted to employ for a long time. Me — not having done semi serious web-development since I redesigned this blog — was curious on a number of questions especially "What is wrong with the Internet Explorer and why is it wrong?" but we get to that way way later (the most interesting part but the rest leads to it) first was some basic fact checking:

"Whats the backwards compatibility path used these days?"

Browsers change, get recoded, dissapear, reappear and fight with each other — thats generally the situation each and every webdeveloper on the planet faces on it first website. There is no way to support every browser on the planet in every version number ever released — period. Everyone who looks at Internet Explorer 4 Mac Edition and makes a website work on that the same way this website works on a Firefox 2.0 installation is getting a lifetime "you waste your time" award.
Generally I approach this question with a very certain bias. First and foremost I want to push technology to the edge but because — as stated here before — only used technology gets pushed forward and gets redeveloped, reused and generally more useful.
But I am sidetracking. So being in the beginning of 2007 someway into a new fresh awesome millennium full of (sometimes) exiting technological advancements how far does a normal "mom and pops" website that needs to reach a broad general audience across the full spectrum of age and technological knowledge needs to push it with webbrowser compatibility. Since this websites intents to sell you something it needs to work — easy clean simple and perfect. Now if we look at browser statistics these days (which I donīt believe any of them, but I generally donīt believe statistics that I havenīt come up with myself so that point is mood) the field is WIDE and open. General consensus is that there is a total four browser engines (as for computer web browsers that is — more on that in a minute) on the market that are worth looking at.

1. Internet Exploder
2. Mozilla/FireFox/Gecko
3. Safari/KHTML/Konqueror
4. Opera

For me personally and for this specific project one browser falls out right away from consideration. I am really sorry my open source, we make everything different then the next door guy just so we are different and are percieved cool friends — Opera is a nonevent for me and I would venture to guess about 99% of webdevelopers. Yes according to statistic Opera has a whopping 1.5% market share. I meet only two persons in my whole life that use Opera and if those two persons (totally unrelated to each other) give a picture of the Opera using population then its save to say that they are technology savvy enough to figure out that when a website doesnīt run it might be the browser and I am sure they have 10 other obscure browsers on their machine to access the site. That goes also to the Opera Team — if you want your browser to be used make it 100% CSS/HTML/XML standard compliant 100% Javascript/DOM compliant because the webdevelopers have a life and really there is enough problems to fix then looking at every obscure "me too" browser on the market. I really do love and try to support small software rebells but my prior experience with Opera was so BAD (in development terms) that I am absolutely sure ditching this will not cause any ripples in the space time continuum and give me at least 10% more time out of web development to rant here.
With this out the way you dear reader might say: "Hey but what about Safari/KHTL its similar obscure and has a similar small market share." Yes, dear reader on the first look that might seem so, from personal experience I can name about 100 ppl (compared to the operas two!) using Safari daily, because it comes with a pretty more or less widely used operating system called MacOSX and as it is with these bundled apps — some people think they have no choice as to use them. The great thing about Safari — besides being bundled and forced down mom and pops throat — and totally unlike Opera (never used 8 but used 7 and 6) its about the most standard conform browser on the planet — yes even better then Firefox. Its even recommended as a standard reference platform (where ever I read this if I find I post a link). So even with a tiny market share that I personally would think is really at least five times as much as in the "statistic" the developers of KHTML/Konqueror together with the enhancements of Apple did something Opera has utterly failed — eliminating the need to specifically test for this platform — when you adhere to the standards set by W3C you can be 98% sure that it runs, looks and works beautifully. Thats in Javascript/DOM, CSS, XML, XHTML.
Another great thing about it is, that its automatically updated (the Safari variant — Konquerer users prolly are also very up to date as Linux users are in general) with the system so you can be sure that most people using Safari are also on one of the last versions. So testing is constraint to 2.0 and onward.

Moving up the percentage ladder we approach the burning fox. While I was not very impressed by the early siblings (first Camino f.e.) Firefox is now a stable mostly standard conform plattform and with the FireBug Plug-In has become my main webdevelopment choice (this might change with OSX 10.5 but I canīt say anything — NDA). So its clear that my developments will work out of the box with Firefox and hopefully all Gecko compliant browsers. So how much versions back you need to test? I donīt test anything before 1.0 because before 1.0 most people using Firefox are assumed intelligent fast technology adopters and they prolly have the latest version of Firefox installed. Actually I am not even testing on later versions then 1.1 at the moment because I think the majority will only upgrade to X.0 releases and they hopefully didnīt break things that were working (and you can not under any circumstances be responsible for any and all nightly builds there ever are for any open source browser anyway).

With those out of the way we get to a point where things are starting to get ugly. This point is the internet venom called Internet Explorer — or nicknamed by about every serious web developer: Internet Exploder. In case you have not heard of it — its the browser that Microsoft "pushed" out the door in the mid 90s to combat Netscapes dominance in the early internet. Its the browser that started that browser wars, killed off Netscape (temporarily) and has since earned Microsoft a couple of Antitrust lawsuits and A LOT OF HATRED among web developers of all kinds. The problem is: Microsoft won that browser war (temporarily) and the antitrust lawsuits have done nothing stopping the bundling of that browser on the most used Operating System in the world — namely Windows that is. So with about 60% browser market share as of last month (if you want to believe the linked statistics) it has more then double of Firefox and just canīt be ignored no matter how much you swear. Now all this would only be half as bad but those 60% are quite unevenly distributed between the three main version numbers 5.0, 6.0, 7.0. And looking at the individual percentages, each has more then double the percentage of Safari so you better support em all. Heck I would even throw in 5.0 Mac edition for the fun of it because I have personally witnessed people STILL using that! Now a person not experienced in webdesign might say "hey its all one browser and if you donīt add any extraordinarly advanced function 7.0 should display a page like 5.0 and everything should work great.
Well without going any further down a well worn path I can only say this: It fucking doesn`t. If you need to support people using Internet Explorer you need to go back to at least version 5 including the Mac Edition.
Now if Microsoft would have tried to support web standards like they are kinda set in stone by the W3C this would all be only half a problem. Microsoft has chosen to go down their own path and alter little things in the W3C spec — mostly known is the box modell difference in CSS.
(I am going to get inside that in a second — just need to find a way to round up this section.)

What I havenīt touched yet — because a clear lack of experience — are phone and other device browsers (gaming consoles). For this specific project this was no issue as I think the people using a phone to order a highly specialized documentary DVD is close enough to 0. Gaming consoles are definetly not the target group of this DVD either. For up and coming sites out of this office I will clearly look into the "outside of the computer" browsers and will surely post my findings here — generally I think they all going to move to an open source engine like Gecko/KHTML sooner or later (iPhone will drive that, Nokia already decided to use KHTML f.e. the Wii is using Opera - tried browsing on the wii and it sucks bad compared to all the other stuff thats beautiful on that machine).

To round this up: If you want to reach the mom and pop majority of the Web I concluded you have to test on Internet Explorer back to version 5 (including Mac Edition), Firefox 1.0 and upwards, Safari 2.0 and upwards. You also may want to check your site with a browser that neither does Javascript, Pictures or anyhting in that regard to make sure your site is accessible for the blind and readable by machines (google robots f.e.).

Now with that out of the way the next question formed in my head:

What content management system should I use?

While this specific project has little content updates, it still has some (adding new shops that sell the dvd to the reseller list f.e.) and more important — it had to be deployed bilingual. So both of these consideration prompted me go with a CMS. Now I donīt know if anyone has looked at the CMS market at the moment — I have done some intense research (also for a different project) and its quite a mess. There are basically two types: Blogging centric and Classic CMS centric and a lot of in between breeders.
Since I donīt want to bore you too much: most of the Open Source CMSs can be tested out at the great site
Personally the only CMS I have used (and I am still using for various reasons, but basically I really do like it) is the blogging centric Movable Type (not open source and costing some dough). But Movable Type is so blogging centric that doing anything else with it is counter productive (but can be done). So me — feshly in the CMS game with knowledge that "blogging centric" is not something I want here — looking at all the options found out that its very hard to decide on one from pure looking. The user comments on are very helpfull already in siffing out all the once that had pre beta development status. Left over are basically the big three CMSs Typo3, Mamboo, Drupal and Plone. All with their own good and bad sides. The one from pure technological standpoint and feature wise and stability wise that I really really liked was Plone, but Plone depends on Zope and for Zope you need a very heavy duty server that runs just that — I donīt have one. The learning curve for Typo3 seemed much too high for me — thanks I am already used to PHP/Perl/XHTML/Javascript/CSS etc. and I have no need to learn another obscures description language on top of that just to use a CMS.
This left with Mamboo and Drupal as the likely choice. Mamboos architecture seems dated and is at the moment in a state of flux and recoding — I do not like unstable software and have no need to beta test more warez then I am already doing — so mamboo called out. Drupal came out as the winner in the CMS field at the moment — but NOT SO FAST my friend. I installed it used it. It has a flashy web2.0 interface with lots of usefull functions. Well there are SOOO many functions that would never been needed for that project. Also it is very heavy on the server (and I had no urge to get into the 200 page discussion on optimization techniques for drupal on their forums) in the default install. It became clear that this CMS is not the solution, the only function that I was really looking forward too was including Quicktimes and MP4 in an easy way. It turned out that including these is easy — having them show up in the way I like it and not the Drupals developers vision of "another tab in a tab in a window in a frame" proofed also extremely difficult.
Now this left me with either going with a fast hardcoded website that I would need to maintain the next 5 years or dig up a CMS that I used before and had almost forgotten about — x-siter.
This CMS is written by the fellow CCCler Björn Barnekow and is totally unsupported in any way other then "ask him and he might reply". The beauty of it is that it is ULTRA lightweight — he himself describes it as the smallest (code wise) CMS out there. It is totally PHP and even if you have no plan on PHP its very very easy to understand what it does. From an enduser perspective who needs to maintain the site, the approach is unrivaled and beautiful, because you just edit paragraphs of text, add pictures etc on the page they belong to. So no fancy metastorage system for all the pages or folders containing the pages you edit it right inside the individual page. Now this has a huge advantage if the person you need to explain how to update the site is you general secretary or such because she browses to a page she wants to change then logs in edits it and logs out — its very very close to WYSIWYG editing and very easy to explain to everyone.
The layout possibilities with x-siter are also well thought out, giving you an adjustable typographic raster that you can put pictures in or text etc. A very nice approach. So why is not everyone with a small website using x-siter then and why has nobody heard of it? Well first of all its more an internal tool for Björn that he shares without any official support and not much documentation inside the code either. He thinks you might not need to touch much code and generally he is right, sadly design realities are different and I have a concept of how a website needs to look like in my head and if the CMS tries to get me to do it differently I rather adjust the code of the CMS then adjust the look in my head. And this is where the x-siter shows big weakness because the code is not very modular and not very good commented so I had to change quite a few stuff and now the code can not be easily upgraded. But generally if you need a very fast small site that needs to be updated now and then x-siter is definitely worth looking into. Even one Max-Plank-Institute switched from Plone to x-siter because its soo much faster and actually scales quite nice and has a good user account management. So it does lack some advanced things from Drupal, generally I do not miss those feature (and most can be added through different things anyway).

So I employed x-siter and heavely modefied it to get my certain look that I wanted (taking some headlines out of tables and into css divs etc). Since the site is pretty simple I needed an excuse to implement at least one advanced cool dynamic function in there.

What cool "new" "web 2.0" technologies are really cool and worth testing out and are generelly usefull for this small website?

Well I couldnīt find much. First I thought I rewrite the whole CMS to make it fully dynamic (without any full page reloads — imagine that) but thanks god I did not go down that route. There was one function of the page though that definately needed some design consideration. Its a function that on return kinda breaks the whole look and feel of the full app by generating an ugly error/confirm html page.
That function is a simple formmailer to order the DVD. Now this function — needless to say — is also the function that is most important on the whole page.
So my thinking went down the route of "Hey I want to let the return page of the formmail.cgi replace just the "div" of the form. If there is an error I should be able to go back to the form and correct it (without having to completely fill it out again)."
Great thats a simple AJAX request to the server and putting a returned HTML into the DOM of the current page with the option to return to a saved state of the DOM. YIPPEEE some coding fun — or so I thought.
Generally implementing this with FireBug and SubethaEdit was so dead easy — almost scary (look at code on the bottom) easy. Here is how I did it:

First I replace the normal form button with a ordinary "javascript:function()" link button inside a Javascript below the normal form button. That ensures that people without javascript still can order the DVD through the normal nonAjax/ugly/unintuitive way of doing things in the last millenium. Those people get a normal submit button, while people with Javascript enabled get the AJAX button because those people should also be able to use the AJAX functions.
So user fills out the form and hits the AJAXified "submit" button. The formdata is then send over a standard asynchronous connection through a standard xmlhtrequest. At this point you already add browser specific code but this has been figured out and the code you add JUST for Internet Exploder is already 3 times as long as the code would be if that browser would function normally.
Anyway the data is then processed using the normal nms formmailer.cgi. And this returns a (sadly non XML) html page. I then parse this HTML and look if its an error or if its even a server error or if the result is an "ok" and then let specified output for each case drop into the DOM if the webpage in the only correct way (which is NOT innerHTML!).
Before I exchange the data of the webform with the result page I save the webform with all its content in a DOM compatible way use cloneNode. (its just one line of code I thought!). So if the result is an "ok" I purge the stored data and tell the user the order is beeing processed and this and that data he has send. If there is an error there is a javascript link in the result page that when clicked on exchanges the result page with the form and all its content.
So far so good. This part coding with learning the whole technology behind it took me three hours.

So the website looked great the functions worked as expected and since I am hyper aware of the CSS box model issues of Internet Exploder it even looked great in Internet Explorer 5 on the Mac. At that point — a point of about 20 hours of total work (including digging PHP of x-siter!) — I considered the site done.
BAD idea.

Problems with Internet Explorer 5.0, 6.0, 7.0

First thing I noticed was that IE 5.0 Mac Edition does not support xmlhttprequest AT ALL, also it does not do any DOM. That made me aware that a very very few users might have browser that a) has javascript b) but does not support any of the modern AJAX and DOM functions.
Well that was easily fixed by trying to figure out in the very first called script (the one that replaces the submit button) if xmlhttprequests can be established. If not its the ugly normal nonjavascript version — if yes then the browser should be capable of getting through the whole process.
Again a sigh of relief from my side and 5 minutes of coding later I closed up shop for the day. The next day would just be some "routine" IE 6.0 and 7.0 testing on the windows side and then the page would be done — so I thought. I was very happy because I had very portable future proof code that was small and lightweight and easy to understand. There wasnīt even a bad hack in there except for the xmlhttprequest check.
Opening the page on the Windows PC with Internet Explorer 7.0 my heart dropped to the ground like a stone made out of lead in a vacuum on a planet the size of our sun.
Nothing worked. The layout was fucked (I am quite used to the CSS box model problem so I avoided that in the first place!) and the submit thing did not work at all - clicking on the button didnīt do shit.
The CSS was fixed after fiddling with it for two hours, there seems to be a "bug" in IE 7 with classes vs. ids and z-depthes. Fixing the Javascript was much harder. I couldnīt use FireBug to get to the problem — because in Firefox the problem didnīt appear. The IE7 debug tools are as crude as ever (a javascript error console, which did not produce any errors).
So I placed strategic "alert"s in the code to see how far it would get an what the problem was. It turned out the first problem is that it can not add an "onclick" event listener to something I changed inside the DOM after the DOM was drawn (Add 3 hours to the time total). I struggled for a solution and rummaged the web for any clues. It seems that IE up to version 7 (that the current one!) can not do "setAttribute" as the W3C says but instead you have to set every attribute through (object.attribute = "value in stupid string format";) so for a link its (object.href = "http://your link";) instead of just putting it all in through object.setAttribute("attribute", "value");
Now if you think you can also add an event listener this way by doing "object.onClick = "function";) forget about it. It seems through extensive testing (2+ hours) that there is currently absolutely no way to add an event listener through normal means to an object that was created after a webpage was build — in Internet Explorer that is — again Firefox and Safari this works wonderfully. So my solution was to use the "fake" onclick through a href="javascript:function();" thanks god that this existed otherwise I would have been forced to either write 200 lines of codes for custom event notifiers (which I am not sure that they would have worked) or abonden the already working approach alltogether.
If this still sounds too easy as to call a serious deterrent yet — this was not all that solved the problem. Because creating an object and then before writing it in the DOM setting the href attribute to the "javascript:" also does not seem to work in Internet Explorer. I had to actually write it in the DOM pull the object ID again and then change the href attribute. This doubled the code for this portion of the javascript.
Now the problems were far from over yet. As you might remember from earlier I save the part of the DOM containing the form with content so I can get back to it in case there is an error with the form. This worked great in my two standard conform browsers. So I am at this point where every important browser can get the form mailed out. If you have an error you get the "back" button which through the object.href="jvascript:" way I could also make work in IE. Now I was sweating that this whole "cloneNode" might not work in IE and I would have to parse the whole form and rewrite it, but clicking on the now functioning button did in fact work as advertised (by me) and I returned to the form. But the trouble was far from over because now my "submit" button didnīt work again. Imagine that — I am cloning the DOM as in CLONING that means I take each object with all attributes and values and CLONE IT into memory. Then when I put in this CLONE this should be just like the original — well it is in Firefox and Safari. Internet explorer seems to choose which kind of attributes and values it clones and which not because the values of the field had been cloned and correctly copied back, yet the href attribute seems not clone worthy and is completely forgotten. At that point I had been sitting a full day at debugging IEs Javascript/DOM implementation. So on the third day I just made the dirty "grab the object again and change the href manually" hack and let it be.
In general I have a recorded 27.4 hours of development/design for the whole page including php scriping (that I have no clue off) and 13.6 hours of IE CSS/jacascript debugging (where I have a very thorough understanding). My code bloated 1/3rd just for IE hacks and is less easily readable or manageable in the future. And it definitely runs slower, not that you notice in this small app but extrapolating that to a huge webapp like googles spreadsheets I think the speed penalty is mighty.

Why is Internet Explorer so bad?

Throughout that project (and many before) I have asked myself this question. I am no programmer and have no degree in computer science, yet I think that it canīt be THAT hard to make a good standard compliant browser. Microsoft had about seven years time (yes SEVEN YEARS at LEAST) to make Internet Explorer standard complient, listen to the complains of the million of webdevelopers and redo the whole thing from scratch — in the meantime Firefox has made it to version 2.0, Safari has made it soon to version 3.0 and even a small shop can churn out a browser with version 8 — even so its not perfect Opera is still MUCH better then IE ever.
Now Microsoft is swimming in money and has thousands of coders in house who all probably are a million times smarter then me when it comes to programming. The bugs that are present are enormously obvious and waste millions of hours of webdevelopment/design time. The box model problem should have been just adjusting some variables and the javascript engine — well after a rewrite of the program with native DOM support (at the moment its a hack I would say at best) all the problems should be gone.
Now Microsoft had the change of fixing this with Internet Explorer 7 and while transparent PNG support (a hack) and finally a fix of the box model problem (also not 100% fixed so I heard) has been touted as breakthroughs in supercomputing or something the whole DOM model Microsoft uses does not work (and they admit that on the IE dev blog — promise to look into javascript/dom for 8.0 — in 10 years). That at a time when the whole web wants to use DOM model stuff to make rich web applications with great consistent interfaces. I have looked into some of the AJAX make my webpage move and look all funky frameworks and I can tell ya -> they have the same problems as me and sometimes more then half the code in them is to get around IE limitations — which slows them down to hell I guess.
So IE 7 is almost a non event — I am asking now even louder WHY COULDN`T MICROSOFT FIX THOSE THINGS.

First my personal take on this — they have no clue — this multibillion dollar company has no idea why someone would want to consistent interface on a website that doesnīt reload just because a number changes some were down in the text of the webpage. The reason I think that: Look at Vista. Vista is flashy, has an inconsistent interface (I just say 10 functions to shut your computer down!) and uses every processor cycle available on your CPU and GPU just to run itself (so much that not even cheap modern laptops can run the full version flawlessly and fast). So when they not realize that this is important for themselves why would they realize that these are important concerns for developers outside the Microsoft bubble.
Now pretending that a multimillion dollar company is too dumb to make such assumption is probably as dumb as to think that the Bush administration has no advanced hidden plan on what they are doing (well you know as with microsoft — they could be just plainly dumb or have some greater goal that nobody fully understands or if they understand are not having a loud enough voice to make it public).
So since we are not dumb over here we stumble upon ideas why this is all the way it is. The best take is by Mr. Joel on Software in his blog entry called API Wars. Joel is a software developer writing Bug tracking software for Microsofts Operating Systems. He is very known and very respected by the developer industry and his sometimes controversial statements cause quite a stir now and then but he — being very much inside the OS and probably able to read Microsoft assembly code backwards — is most of the times right spot on. In the linked article he talks about how Microsoft has always been about protecting their main treasure — their API. The Office API with the closed document structure the crown jewel above everything else. Well he also talks about how they have so many APIs that developers are getting confused and since most of the APIs are for sale developers nowadays turn away from the APIs Microsoft provides and are turning TO THE WEB to develop especially small applications — the reason most shops are on windows is believed to be exactly those simple small application only available on windows + office.
Now I said "the web" — the web has the notority to run on any OS somehow and manages to circumvent Microsofts monopoly in a nasty uncontrollable way — poor Microsoft.
Now you probably understand where Joel and I am are getting too — yes Microsoft does anything to stop the web from spreading too fast and get too usefull before they havenīt found a way to completely control it — and they try so hard, DRM, TCP etc etc are all designed to control webcontent — good thing that webapps are not content and Microsoft is acting too slowly. When you read through Joels entry you get quite a clear understanding that Microsoft is not interested at all to make webdevelopment easy and the longer their Javascript does not work and their interactive DOM Model does only work in some strange emulated way (change something in the DOM and look at the HTML source — you will not see you change reflected there) the longer they have a monopoly — and that their monopoly is threatened by webapps is apparent by Googles spreadsheets and word app — sadly for Microsoft these already run even on a broken IE 7 (poor google guys who had to debug that).
I do see that Microsoft will try to "fix" these problem — because a) this gets into a publicity backlash that not even Microsoft can hold out against (the BOX model problem circulated for years but then gained so much steam that Microsoft HAD to do release a press release stating that they are working on IE 7 that adresses some of those things — that was three year ago or so). Because so many developers/admins/techddicts/etc. suggested to friends that using Firefox is more secure (thanks god IE has had soo many open doors for viruses) that Firefox usage exploded and is now eating slowly but steadely into the IE market share. Now Microsoft faces a very big problem — a problem so satisfying for webdevelopers that I would sell my kidney to see this unfold (maybe not but I would hold a party just in case of that event). Microsoft understood in the mid 90s that if they have large enough a market share they can force any competing browser out of the market by introducing proprietary standards (ActiveX, own implementation of CSS and many more) because the webdevelopers are going with the browser with the biggest market share. That worked quite well and played out like they intendet — almost. The webdevelopers are a strange bunch of people and some are using Linux and other evil stuff so they ensured that big companies tried to stay cross browser compliant (I am one of those who wrote about 100 emails to big companies telling them their website doesn't work on browser xy and the millions others doing that are responsible that we do not have ONLY Internet Explorer today — Microsoft really almost completely won — this was close). Now back to the point and to the happy future lookout. If Internet Explorers market share would drop below — lets say — 10% I am the first person who would drop Internet Explorer support completely and rather debug small things for Opera in addtion to the two nicely working Firefox and Safari browsers. My thinking is that the hatred for Internet Explorer among webdesigners/developers has grown to such proportions that I would NOT be the only one — heck I would even say this browser fades from visibility in less then a year. This would satisfy so many people who have lost so much time in their life just because some stupidly rich multibillion dolllar company wanted to get richer on their backs. Now this is not unfolding right this minute but I can see that if they wait too long with IE 8 and fixing the aforementioned javascript/dom problems this might go faster then everyone think. The webtime is a hundredfold acceleration of normal time and a monstrous creature like Microsoft might not be able to adjust fast enough — one can really hope.

New Round of Blogging

So I haven´t been blogging for such a looooong time because I kinda had to get life in order (which I haven´t really managed but at least there are plans) after school. It's not so easy as it sounds to just get out of a creative education and trying to figure out how to survive with this in a world thats about consumerism and big headlines like "Geiz ist Geil" set in outlined semi 3d orange chrome 600 point letters on every billboard in the country. Anyway there will be FAR less blogging from me in the future as well — time has been lost in the rabbit hole some moons ago and I am desperately trying to fish bits out as much as possible. So my thinking is: what should I blog with a restrictive time schedule on hand and I have found a simple yet obvious solution: blog only original content. Yes, you heard it right: there will be NO political commentary, NO mac commentary, NO product press release announcement and basically nothing you could also find on any of the much bigger more specialized blogs EXCEPT if I have some inside knowledge to add (and back up) thats not been in an original story. The main content you are going to see here is hands and heads on what is going on with my work and my life and everything surrounding it (but if you are looking for personal gossip you are still at the wrong place — only if its funny or is a lesson about life in general will you hear anything personal here). That mean nitty gritty details about projects, net technology in any form and shape, everything in the world of visual FX and 3D animation, video art/entertainment from a producers perspective and ecologic design. Thats basically where I am headed from here on out in the working world and thats what I will report about — but as said if you wait for a review of the latest MacBookPro or such — you will only get it after I bought it and have intensively played with it and have things to say about it that others have not yet mentioned. Generally I will give out specific project details if it enhances the worlds collective cognition in any way. Also expect to see some code — web-code for enhanced websites/apps mainly javascript, mel and newly python for maya. As I am a ranter from hell - I quite enjoy ranting A LOT to keep frustration level down - I will also have informed rants on here, but unlike earlier in this blogs life I will try to back up my rants much better then before or not post at all. So these are my own guidelines and I am sure it takes me only 3-4 posts to at least break one of the rules but yeah its mine and I can do whatever I want on here anyway. For whoever wants to follow my general web-life more closely I recommend checking out my page with lots of juicy links including all topics of the above and more - I also tend to put descriptive tags in my links there, so the general weblog approach that I had here by just posting links and have a short comment has been completely moved to


Psyops, Desinformation and Controlling the Facts

You ought to admire the people architecting the media campaigns for the NeoCons. No matter how embattled they still give the direction of the talk of the day. The slogan is: "It does not matter how the public opinion is about a certain topic - as long as they talk about the topic we have given them and they are only reacting and not come up with their own topics".
This works extremely well. I guess they care shit about people refusing to believe them as long as those people are occupied with trying to uncover the truth and not accidently tripping over a much more important topic that could derail their agenda. They are fast - as soon as something creeps up that could pose a threat a lesser problem is elevated to the headlines - even things that are unfavorable of themselves - just not that unfavorable as the topic just about to be revealed. The critics barely have time to make a short statement and there we go on to the next topic - overinformation used for desinformation. The strategy is well thought out and there must be a lot of coordination going on on what to present how through who at what time. Its something the critics need to watch out for - not forget about past incidents and hold the people responsible accountable even if the topic is not on the massmedia radar at the moment. The critics need to set their own topics - refusing to even acknowledge the topics that seem utterly important on the day because chances are they are not important - just over-hyped side notes in the broader context of history.

Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, the U.S. military's chief spokesman in 2004:

"The Zarqawi PSYOP program is the most successful information campaign to date."


Total football madness

a harsh critique on media society

There is a topic that everyone seems to be talking about at the moment and that is the soccer/football world cup starting on Friday in Germany. First of all I am not a fan of football in general, while I do watch a game here or there at times when there is nothing else to do - so hardly never - I never really enjoy it and feel its an utter waste of time watching people running behind a black and white ball. With that out of the way people probably accusing me of bias now with the following statements - but it could be anything other then football if it would enter the dimension of consolidating masses of people.
Now you hear read and see in the media that our nation of great germany is absolutely exited about this World Cup - like everyone from the hardcore Punk to the old Granny from the Skinhead to the Turk everyone seems to love of what is going to happen - but how come they all are so feverish about the event?
"Give them Games and Bread and they will be happy" some old age phillosopher has said 2000 years ago (whoever I am too lazy too look it up) and its exactly what is going on - in a media bombardment that I have never seen or heard before you can not escape the topic - nowhere. Internet Radio, Magazines, Newspaper every thing and all is talking about football and all and every outlet it seems puts it in a positive light - when you tell someone you are not a big fan of the happening you get lynched and be told that you would talk bad about anything. Its one of the most dangerous viral marketing campaigns this earth has ever seen - and everyone who publishes is guilty (just like me with this article probably too). Nine out of ten television commercials are about football. Ten out of ten program commercials are about football seven out of ten sentences of the radio commenter this morning where about football (yes I counted) five out of ten statements regarding politics are about football (or the security surrounding it). Now if this would be a national event helping some poor and devastated country (like earthquake regions in Indonesia or Pakistan, war torn countries in middle Africa or East-Asia) I would totally understand it - but no we are talking about an event by a private company - the FIFA. They get unprecedented support from our - oh so poor - government and have to pay zip zero for security and most of the logistic and they get even paid when someone does advertising for them and on top they are a cartel with 100% market share in their bussiness of selling football.
Did I say that each and every media outlet helps them? I mean EVERY ONE is reporting about football since two three four month now. Every angle, every history every joke that can be made about football is on german media now. Now people tell me probably "hey just ignore it and chill". I donīt even have TV hear only Internet Radio that is not from Germany and read two to three very alternative german websites at most and still I seem to know everything about this event just from sitting in front of a TV at friends houses for an hour or two (arbitrary) or listening to the radio inside some car that happens to be on.
Still you could say "just ignore it wonīt do harm". And this is the point where I am not so sure. We are having a country now where 95% think favorable about something - they form a group so to say. Lets say something disrupts this something - something bad - all of the sudden you have 95% of a huge country against something. Get where I am getting to?
To make it more precise - a terrorist plot in this environment would kill each and all rational thought it would put ALL of germany on the street and support just about any and all measures without further thinking. We hear too many hints in the last weeks that something big is going to happen (scare tacticts are on the rise - london police raids house because of "chemical bomb" - canadian police raids house with 19 terror suspects - you know that hints and scary things that just about now reach a climax again?). On top there are midterm election in the US where the republicans donīt look good and the war with Iran is not so on track and one big reason is Germanies pacifist movement which seems to be stronger then visible (according to our Bundeskanzlerin Merkel there is no war possible with the Germans "at the moment"). Now a terrorist plot big enough to create headlines would suit all of them all too well - just connect it to the Iranies and the biggest missing ally of Washington is on the boat to Mesopotamia carrying with it the hate of a whole nation.
Well that is a conspiracy theory. So to make it less dramatic then this - and it might be all to obvious and transparent - there is still that 95% of people who over the course of six month (minus three month from now and probably plus three month from now) will not be interested in much else then football - our politicians can probably push through laws that are "uncomfortable" with the general population and society at whole will not move one inch further in their evolution - just because one profit making cartel company is raking in billions of Euros.

Brave New World we live in now where was my Soma again?


The artificial lifeform has a new heart

KC85UserManuelCoverPic.jpegWell well. It had to be done at one point I just thought I could put it off until I am finished with school and have a bit more time at hand. I upgraded the blog software to movable types 3.2. As said before I was looking into migrating to a nonproperitory solution but this would have cost me even more time and all other solutions out there are just not so well when you have a multiblog/multiauthor environment and I just want this to work without having to adjust things all the time - because if I hate one thing then its webdesign and programming. Because of the older blacklist version ceased to function the only other viable solution was to upgrade. I can not say how much pain it still was. I donīt know what the people at sixapart smoke all day but to change EACH AND EVERY CSS HOOK made "moving the templates to the new version" just not possible - the comments wouldnīt work or this and that would not work - you might even think that they made it on purpose to sell more "service contracts" that offer you painless upgrades. Not only did they change every CSS class name the new names utterly made no sense whatsoever calling the side navigation "beta" is the most stupid thing I have ever heard - you always think its something that is in beta and has not been fully implemented - logic descriptions that could be readable by other people seem not to be in the knowledge base of the movable type originators. To make things worse - all my old templates lost there formatting leaving me with a garbled mess of code (and I do style my code so I can change it later on). And then there is something called "clever commenting" that makes other people read your code easier - especially when you absolutely know that other people need to understand your code in order for your program that you sell for lots of money to work. Needless to say that there was only rudimentary commenting in place - and most seemed to be left in for the programmer himself as it the codes and shortcuts seemed utterly non understandable.
So for all you out there looking for a blogging solution - Six Aparts Movable Type is NOT IT. I am stuck with it and I hate it and throwing money into their mouth is really not the thing I really wanted to do in the first place but could not circumvent - if I can help that they are utterly destroyed tell me how and I am on the front line.
The reason why I had to upgrade - the spam plugins - while looking shining new and nice on first view do nothing different then the blacklist plugin - except for a few functions that are tied in the proprietary "Type Key" registration that is also a Six Apart project. I am utterly against any "proprietary authentication" entity and so I choose not to enable this - well I have more spam then ever - not that its filtering through to the blog because I am moderating almost all messages now but its sitting there waiting to be looked at and handpicked by me and I thought that those times would be over with the upgrade... SixApart if you read this - you have a very very very unhappy customer. Not only was I forced to pay for an upgrade from a former free version of your software your software sucks in all things that are not basic CMS especially for people wanting to alter it and people with a spam problem may a fast crash of the economy be your grave.

One positive thing is of course that I had to touch the design side of things with the blog that has not seen a design upgrade since day one. So I am not fully happy - especially do I hate fixed width websites - the new design is a bit more to my liking and I have a blog logo now - something that I always thought missing. Originally it was to become the picture on this entry (the artwork is from the cover of the KC85/III east german "home" computer that I started of with venturing into digital territory when I was nine years old) but I decided for a simpler solution and the ascii face representing the artificial life is better so I think. As for the fixed width: I will probably go into that at one point when I have more time - at the moment it has to be like this - even so it goes against all things dynamic web layouts should inherit - blame Six Apart not me.


Stanislav Lem died age 84

One of the best science fiction authors ever died today. He was a great inspiration for me to look at the genre science fiction and no other author has defined this genre as as this talented polish man had done. Yet he became a science fiction and modern science critique pausing people to take a break and think again about our future and that all might not so bright and careless as it seems.
A very great interview from 1996 with him is on telepolis.

Rest in peace you who made the robots dance.


I am not Germany

21909_1.jpgRegardless of what insane PR people want to tell - I am NOT germany. I can not relate to the politics of our country, I can not see a bright happy future for my generation and I will not change my mind just because some Yuppis from Hamburg together with their champagne drinking and coke sniffing friends want to make me believe through one of the worst public identity campaign ever - the government should use the tens of thousands of Euros to invest into future energy, the arts or free thinking.
You do not know what I am talking about? Donīt worry you missed nothing important and it has - after 100 horrible days - finally come to an end.


2006: Peace

I would like the human race to flourish to acknowledge their great gift of consciousness to live in harmony with nature and the universe. Yet we destroy each other with the fruits from the labour of our ancestors, we destroy our planet and everything on it for our greed and our over-comfort. Instead of going forward - using our acquired knowledge to gain that harmony to see what is around us to advance to a state where a biblical heaven looks like a bad theory - we are going back - back to the dark ages where men was controlled by man and slaughtered for believing in nature, tortured for not obeying to the rich and wealthy, killed for trying to advance ourselves. In believe that nature would make the planet more livable, technology to free the slaves, information to end all wars the brightest and the bravest where killed - the most loving burned to death. Today it seems they died to make those matters worse. Most of the world population is enslaved by governments and corporations - spend most of their live in the wrath of their superiors who keep them entertained, those who connect to nature are few and far in between without much voice there message is burned by oil hungry countries and their deeply networked overlords. The scientists want to believe, believe that the future will get better if we have better technology become even evangelists of post-humanity turning blind that they are siting in the same cage like the rats they breed directed to still the hunger for more and more power of those few that bath in billions and kill millions with a snip of a finger.
Yet it seems we can resist. Resist the feeling to be trapped of what Aldus Huxley called the "Brave New World". We still have the chance to evolve to advance and to have that bright individual post-human future with pain uncontrollable experiences and not foreseeable experiences - good and bad. We can break out of the spiral of money that makes us slaves of our own consumerismic demands for plastic toys that break after a year so we buy new one damaging our environment enslaving more people and giving the powerful more control over us in return. Meanwhile we are taught that humans of other nations, rationalities, nationalities, believes are evil that need to be killed and that war is necessary for our survival - all while we get distracted by the wars on and in mankind's world - reducing us to the fulfillers of an unwanted destiny - killing ourselves and the base for our living to make some few a happy 60-100 years or elevating them to the posthuman stage while nullifying ourself in the meantime.
We are at a crossroad to either understand our potential and fight for a living worth living based and what has been and will be achieved in the short future trying to find the balance to live in the heaven we are born and using our achievements for freeing us from enslavement of hard labour and using our shared information to understand each other without any more killing or see a devastating mixture of Brave New World and 1984 dawning on us where we the slaves will have turned this planet into a huge ugly prison camp ruled by a handful of posthumans that will never die and have all the power of the universe to keep the slave forgetting that they are slaves while controlling every step they take.
With a nuclear war dawning in this new year, with more and more jobs beeing replaced by machines while putting the people behind the jobs on a social downfall and with an information architecture that lets everyone communicate with everyone instantly this year is here to make a decision its here to give our future a direction and everyone living in this world and in this time is called upon to make our future a loved past, unite those that understand, those who feel, who believe in living. For this unity to free us from a mind numbing consumeristic over-controlled world that is powered by hate against ourselves fused by the few who gain the most. Let us fight against more wars now and for the future. Let us help those who suffered with the energy and wealth saved by not waging the slaughtering and spilling of the same blood that could get us to and advanced state where all this does not matter - where we could for once be independently free within our own reasons believes - a world where everything could be possible.
I wish for all those peace loving people for all those scientist, consumeristic slaves working in offices, bureaucrats fearing the future, Islamist, Christians, Jews, Hindus, Buddhist and believers of all other religions who look for their own version of enlightenment, for the music fans, the vjs, the doctors the programmers the poor and the middle classes of this world to come to peace to come to reason to spend their time communicating on paths to a future we all might love and enjoy equally no matter where we come from, where we are, what we are, what we believe in and what we have.

Final Peace.

Existential Risks:Analyzing Human Extinction Scenarios and Related Hazards

Peace on Earth means No More War (information clearinghouse)

Let's Stop a US/Israeli War on Iran (counterpunch)

War without end (the independent)

Speculations over US attack against Iran
(Spiegel, Informationclearinghouse)


Three Weeks Blogging Pause

As I will be in the beautiful Devon/England for the next three weeks I wonīt be able to blog for the lack of any internet connection near me. So I wish everyone a good start into the New Year and wonderful Hollidays. Everyone who does not know what to do between Christmas and New Years Eve should check out the Chaos Communication Congress with tons of intelligent brainfood and VJ Showcases at night from the Visual Berlin e.V. I will not attend this year for a little communication pause until next years Chaos Camp. Everyone here thank you for reading and for the real world reading this blog - sorry if I didnīt make sense all the time. Life is the hardest and we all have to learn, evolve and respect our feelings. Sorry for being to vocal and to harsh at times. I sincerely hope that 2006 will be as special as everyone wishes.

On a side note:
2005 is the year when BlueGene/L performed more then double as many calculations per seconds then a human brain.


How far are we willing to go?

Things are getting worse every day. A little bit of this thing formerly called freedom is going down the drain. Terrorism laws here, DRM there patents somewhere else put in a little war and you have the recipe of a world that reminds anyone coming from the former east-bloc or from the nazi-regime or some other totalitarian regime in general on there past - just on steroids.
The question of a popular overturn of todays power elite (massmedia, politicians, mega corporations) seems not to be a matter of "if" anymore - more a matter of "when". How long are we going to watch this before taken action? What can be done against it? Is there a new concept for living n this planet in a peaceful free way for our individual society where everyone has a different thought on how things should go? How bad are things supposed to go until the masses are going on the street? Will the masses even go on the street or just try to sit it out in front of a TV watching football? Will there be politicians respecting the will of the people more then the will of the money and power? How many more antiterror, drm patent policeenforcement, military "peace keeping" laws are we going to get before the rest of the population wakes up to what is looking more and more like a bad hollywood movie with bad actors that everyone is watching but noone understands. I guess as long as everyone can buy their 99 Euro Diamond ring for christmas or that lucid 40" Flatscreen TV, or that gold embraced cellphone nothing will happen as this seems to keep people happy. Those that think probably need to think twice about speaking out too loud in the near future (if history serves as an example) or they could find themselves in Guantanamo imprisonment for vocally supporting terrorism hunted down with there cellphone information anywhere in the world and made commitments through waterboarding. Ah great times ahead .......



An article on Yahoo News is reporting on the characters of introversion in juxtaposition to extroversion. It talks about how the extroverts seem to rule the world with there engaging mechanisms and the urge to "be someone" but that introverts seem to be better at strategic planning, thinking, memorizing.

Extroverts enjoy the external world of things, people and activities. They have more activity in brain areas involved in processing the sensory information we're bombarded with daily. Because extroverts have less internally generated brain activity, they search for more external stimuli to energize them.

So introverts need to be alone a lot to regain energy that they might have spent in the extrovert world - I would like to add that this not only affects young people. Yes and introverts behave differently and therefore are seen as strange beings in todays society. If you are a couch potato might be lying in your genes and is not connected to Introversion.


The Split Society

Through a lot of endeavors in my life that tried to find a group of people working for a common goal I have lost faith that such an approach will ever work again in the future - not only concerning projects orbiting around prototypen but generally in society at large. On the surface it all looks easy you have people rallying around big corporations or big ideas or big ideologies but what worked through the last centuries - people pulling on the same side of the same string in large quantities seems to slowly die out of existence. Its like the individualism of the present and future will change the substance of our existence - a part of our evolutionary past. We came from small hordes of mammals trying to survive in a group and learn inside the group and trying to see our own action in the light of benefit for that group. This survival instinct probably led us through the grassy Savanna of Africa and made us smarter then most other mammals on this earth (well in certain aspects). Now in modern society it seems - especially in western societies - the need for this survival instinct and the idea that only as a group you can advance is vanishing as we think that we can survive on our own just fine and the internet has and will be given us access to about every information there is. This seems to spill down to about any subject there is in society and large governments and small groups feel the impact already. Man was it easy to make a whole nation follow some dictator into stupid wars just a 100 years ago - but even with the modern massmedia reaching millions of people it seems that the more advanced the society is the less people follow any simple thought. Of course the transformation hasnīt taken place completely and there is still time to fuck up the planet with lots of people not having approached the individualism trend - especially those who look back seem to be still having some kind of success - especially with people who also look back - see the Iraqi war. The right wing conservatives that take their ideologies from the past seemed to be a very united front for a long time compared to the fractured "thinking elite" liberals that could never come to a common opinion fighting not only the "enemy" as in the neocons but also the people who seemed ideologic on the same path but had tiny disagreements or would just dissect certain views until they would fall apart. Now even in the last couple of years you could see how these big politics failed to pursue large quantities of people to speak for their cause and a lot of individuals speaking of their own cause that is incompatible with most others.
Its not only visible in the big mass rallying political scene but also on a small scale in small communities down to two persons. A group of people having a genuine interest might find together to pursue this interest further - develop a community around it, share their views but as soon as it goes into more detail a lot of the times today people have completely different visions how to go along the path and as a rule of individuality try to compete with their mates to not loose their own individuality to the mass - making most groups artificial. So communities without common goals or reasons seems to be those who flourish most - communities that underscore individuality. Incorporating speciality into those communities causes the aforementioned friction and breakup or at least loosening of those communities. As a small example I would like to take the "VJ community" as its present on VJCentral. I think we can agree that we are all working towards the goal that the VJ art is accepted as an art and recognized as a real thing (not just something never growing up boys play around with) from the masses (and I am already hearing that might not be the goal of the vj scene from some - just to prove my point above). Now how we get there? There are about as many different opinions as there are vjs and there is not a unified voice at all. The community drinks a beer at some avit festival gets together tells each other how good they are and goes home just to get back to the highly virtual forums to beat the shit out of each other - the only common ground only to be found when talking about hard and software. Now I am not going to say where the VJ scene - as in this example - would be if the 4000 members on VJForums would rally up behind a unified message as a unified body. I am one of the persons there and I think as it stands right now this individualism is not going away and will just get more and more. With the Massmedia loosing even more control over society in the comming years every person will and can be vocal about her/his own thoughts his own visions and people leaders like Che Guevara, Hitler, Stalin, G.W. Bush, Mao and the countless others will be a part of a dark past that is not about to happen again. As you see in my selection of people there is no good and no bad to be found in this individualizing of society the big powers that were will have a hard time coming back in the coming centuries but this comes also at the expense of smaller groups trying to gain momentum or a voice. No bad or evil makes it easy for me trying to accept it as a matter of modern civilization and trying to work with it rather then against it. Empowering the individual and trying to very honestly see were the real common ground is seems to be the way to go - not trying forced communities pulling on the same string rather temporarily, loosely banding together for the small honesty there is between the individuals - a reason why flash mobs might work so good - some people coming together for an event that they think they can agree on and then parting and never see each other again. Maybe life will be a big Flashmob in the future. Current traditional values of large corporations, permanent institutions and opinionated parties might be too inflexible for what is to come. The biggest common thing holding together society as of now is not ideology anymore but only money. I am not alone to suspect that this concept of virtual numbers exchanging hands might fail at some point in the future and then the last bondage in society that really rallies large groups of people together voluntarily and involuntarily might break down the mammal instinct of being in a horde. It is proven that evolution is flexible and faster then one thinks and it might be this kind of evolutionary process that leads us into the individual society - loose but honest.


The day when there is no low wage labour anymore

200511150007_01.jpgIt looks more and more likely that most people below the age of 30 will see a time when robots are taking over most low wage labour. I expect this to be in less then 15 years. No politician seems to think about such a development and I would even attribute 1% of the 5% jobless people in germany already beeing "victims" of the robotificational transform in society. When I buy a rail ticket in germany I donīt go the understaffed counter but just pull it out of a machine. Driving through Italy I have lots of petrol stations without staffing - just the pumps and a credit card slot. Big factories are laying of more and more people and still have higher and higher revenue - means they must be still producing the same amount of goods or more as before they layed of people - me guessing it has to do with more and more robots - in still primitive forms - populating the assembly lines. Now german government instead of acknowledging these facts come with plans to make people work longer - killing even more work places. In fact I think that collectively everyone should get more free time because all the robots are helping us - it should be a good thing not evil - originally robots came to existence to help people instead of threaten them. Now without acknowledging that fact the society will create a lot of Ludities - people who hate technologic advancements because they rob them of their life's - somehow even understandable but it will create more tension in an already tense and strained society where every little problem causes outbreaks of violence. It would be nice of our politicians to look into the future and see trends that can derail society and accept these changes as fact and work with them or around them instead of against them.
Sparking these thoughts was an article on engadged about the robot bartender that has now pressure sensitive hands and filling your orders autonomous - not yet perfect but soon it might be one of the millions of jobs that are at stake. Knowing the bar owners they would love a no-wage bartender that works for them 24/7 - filling beverages and cleaning the room - for them even cheap student labour seems not cheap enough to survive.


Eat, Sleep, Work, Consume, Die

Is the headline for a story by Tony Long copy chief of wired magazine. Its scratches the surfaces of what some advanced people in the society have been preaching all along - technology will just fasten the cycle but we will never be able to escape. Mr. Long states that he is a hopeless romantic but I think his whole article scrapes the surface of something far larger and more problematic underneath. A society where the only hope is to get into the headline cycle is a society that is faulty - we loose our connection to the inner self to our surrounding to nature in all its glory and try to find appeasement with more and more toys that you need to work for more and more and in the end you have less time for yourself then the short aged people of the last centuries - and its all not very understandable that people work more since there is less and less work overall in society as computers replace bank counters, ticket counters factory workers etc etc. And it will get worse with robots replacing all low income jobs in the next 15 years the whole society needs a rethinking needs a restructuring - you could even say that the riots in France are the beginning of an inner struggle with mankind itself to restart a life where you do not need to hunt for the fox to survive the winter - we are entering a complete new territory and it seems not many people are thinking about the future with all these new technologies - a changing society needs to find a new path or it will all be violent and ugly and a survival of the fittest we are back to the dark ages future that will great us. There are so many jobless hungry people in the world and so many lost in work souls who work until they die - mostly a work-stress related death - the rich want to get richer the poor want to get rich to just get richer when they are rich the hungry want food when they have food they want the same toys as the rich and all that just to have plastic stuff that you throw away electronics that keep you happy on your 2 hour commute to work - just to throw them away when they are broken a year later - something you worked for at least 10 days in you life and its a cycle that will spin until you have forced break until it canīt sustain itself - either because of a lack of resources on our planet or a lack of resources in our soul - but the break will occur. The starting points are visible today still there is no concept other "more consume more consume the market needs to exponentially grow grow grow people need to work harder and longer to consume consume consume so the market can grow grow grow...." Until the end and beyond...


Party 1.1

For a long long time - actually just after I organized an open-air festival on an old russian airport with thousands of people back in 1995 - I am thinking of a party concept that I call "party 2.0". I always had the vision that for a party culture to survive the capitalistic tendencies of mass consumerism and top down media it had to reinvent itself. In some circumstances I see a cross breading of party culture with art and technology "underground" (excuse the 80s wording in here). Namely the hacker conferences around the world and especially the Chaos Communication Camp (happening next year near Berlin again if I am right) the Burning Man "Experience" and the Fusion festival - to an extend.
These are mostly "participatory" events or came from the participatory event background (fusion) where the people attending are more then "punters" staring at their hero dj. They learn, they share and most important they are part of the event making the event more then anything a single party organizer could ever do. So learning is not everyones bussiness and so its also not participation in form of long organized art projects or whatever - a good party 2.0 should let people just flow in and on top what is going on already interact with their environment play around fool around try things explore things - a party as a playground for grown ups - maybe. There are more and more techie things coming out and beeing tested in the wild that make me believe there are numerous people out there looking for the participatory party project that is not only confined to multimillion dollar projects like the burning man or the bigger events that are always hard to organize have to beg for sunshine and are generally maybe to big for a large scale deployment. Making it feasible to use such concepts (that could be largely divergent) in normal small to tiny scale clubs. Interestingly I have always believed the electronic music scene has come from that background. In the early 90s places like e-werk - so still very 80s club oriented - put in computer networks to connect to other clubs or people sitting at home, it was easy if you had a project to approach the club and test it out - the best exhibition of all times for me was still the one time only Chromapark that showed off where clubculture and participation could lead to in the future. Sadly enough things worked out differently and what clubs look like now is exactly what they looked like in the 80s - consume temples trying to make people drunk fast. I personally get very very bored - oh its fine you meet people and can talk and can get drunk fast or whatever but still its always the same you can predict the evening and there is not much to discover personally anymore - things that are unexpected happen less and less often and the after hours are not filled with experience talk - rather with silence. That is one reason why I became a VJ in the first place - because I was bored and wanted to do something at the party.
As a side development we have China who is going through what we have been through in East germany just in high gear - what took East germany at least 10 years China is getting in less then four. Now there not beeing the big electronic scene - another culture that might seem very foreign to Europeans has endured and is prospering - go out with new Chinese friends and they likely take you to a Karaoke bar. You might think about karaoke whatever you like (and my thoughts are about as low as they can go in this regard) but what this really is is participatory event - people are creating the environment they party in and its a mass hit - so yes its masscompatible but only by inspiration from the west (they are so many people there - it doesnīt make any difference if you make a foul out of yourself I guess ;) People donīt try to be the big stars or anything they are just helping everyone to have some fun and in return others are too - they choose the songs the theme of the night - they can make it musically sad or happy or funny and act out. So Karaoke is something that will never be the big hit in good old tight ass germany but other participation is possible and has been proofed possible. Now why is noone integrating that into a party? Why are people afraid to try new concepts - why is even the VJ screen greeted hostile in todays high income club environments? The number one reason is control. People seem to like to be in controlled environments or at least love to create controlled environments with controlled income - everything that would create an individual experience for clubgoers would deter from the "simple" stream of profit for the promoter. Now the ideal thing would be to still generate a profit that would ensure the clubowners/promoters survival and still have an environment full of surprises and individuality. Some Projects crave for such an approach and I do think that technology can help us create that Party 2.0 - immersive individual fun participatory - but the most problematic approach is to get the hurdles in the heads of the promoters cut down nothing that technology can change and a task that even with nonprofit small events seems insurmountable. Its like an indoctruated barrier that says "big PA, stage, Room, disco lighting and maybe VJ screen, big bar - maybe two and maybe maybe a chillout room with some dekoration". This is the party concept that in Berlin at least is enduring since at least 10 years now and that noone is parting with - ok there are cool locations - old factories, forts, swimming pools hotel lobbies and and and but they are fenced of maybe lit up a bit but completely controlled - even strolling around mostly confronts you with a doorkeeper that is 3 times the size of yourself. Creative Rooms (painting on screens, writing a text together - however nonesense it may be, play a light organ with five people) are nonexistent and even something that I would think fits with todays "total control" mentality - creating an immersive space for people to be disconnected from the outside world - is happening only on the most fundamental level (to just not make the room look like a room). At the same time interparty communication has come to almost a standstill - groups stay in groups and interrelated talk - so it still happens - is seldom - and its no surprise as there are not much happenings that relate people together happening in the club. "How much did you drink already?" (substitute any druggy substance in here) is a question often ask and it just shows that you ought to have a combined experience to actually start an enduring conversation. That experience is utterly missing and can only be created through an individual controlled environment that leaves room for surprises and lots of fun.


Virtual Clubbing in Entropia

entropica.jpgThe MUDs (multi user dungeons they where called back in the early time when all was text based) of modern times try to recreate a reality in the virtual space. Modern games seem all be a form of MUDs - be it "The Sims" with online addition pack or World of Warcraft with its millions of followers. The most strange one is Entropia - set in a world on a distant planet that still resembles our lovely earth with its pine trees and lush valleys. The connection with the real world is more deep then in any other roleplaying game of today as all things bought inside the fantasy world are bought with PEDs a currency that is exchanged with real money in the real world. So someone bought an virtual Island in Entropia for something of about 27.000 real US Dollars - he is now the proud owner of shared 0s and 1s. The frenzy goes further now - Someone wants to build (and buy) the first Music Club in the virtual world and hopes he can make people dance in front of their computers - freakowen on VJcentral has hypothetical asked if someone wants to VJ in the virtuals entertaining the pixels and bytes and physic rules of some artificial program intervened by fibreoptics connections in the real oceans to form a virtual existence in the mind of social inapt people dancing on their pillows in the bedrooms. So tomorrow you have not only bedroom journalists but also bedroom DJs and bedroom VJs and bedroom GoGos? All interact with text based language in a world made up of 1s and 0s with virtual characters that do not mimic you real world feelings even in the tiniest bit. What kind of maniacs are taking part in that? I mean a game like World of Warcraft I can partially understand and adding the Multiuser options to overcome the stupidity of computer algorithms and shortcomings in even the best AI in un-networked gameplay is totally acceptable but just having a virtual identity that spends real money on virtual things (that could cease to exist with a mouse button or a keystroke) in a virtual world with basically no connection to the real world and a community based on money exchange I just fail to see any joy in that - but maybe someone wants to enlighten me and how such a virtual club "Neverdie" would feel....


Dynamic Subscriber Line - the horror of 128k up

I can not describe the mood I am in right now (says he who almost wants to wreck his room to ever skipping iTunes radio). At the present I wait for an 6 MB mail to go through my line - since 25 minutes - while disrupting a 128k radio downstream as it doesnīt even let return packets get through - oversaturated. We live in the year 2005 crossing over to 2006 soon and I still upload speeds has stayed the same for the last 6 years for me (and no Arcor Alice or whatever A service to be seen near me). Now why can I download at up to 6 MBits and only download in max 256k? Its the same line and there is not a single technical plausible reason why I can not have upload and download speeds in the same category. I am a content producer and I can not use my content - send it out or anything at acceptable speeds - and all this because big companies DO NOT WANT US TO BROADCAST - governments DO NOT WANT US TO BROADCAST. Now I see this as a restriction of freedom of speech (in the limited german form) - heck I would even think that a lawsuit against the german Telekom and maybe even the government who actively supports the "no broadcast" idea would have a chance on winning. Its not about trading illegal music files - its about sending a stupid mail with a short video snippet and some screenshots. Now they are talking about saving all communication I do every day so the government can come back to me when I do something wrong a herculean effort by the ISPs - NOONE is even considering the DSL problem - and I do think its a political one - imagine everyone could broadcast out of his bedroom - society at large would be at danger as they might get exposed to real live stories and ugly pictures of their neighbors. So I pledge to get 6Mbits UP AND DOWN before I call the internet more then a replacement of TV (or even 2.0 as some start to call it). Its a freaking joke and its not funny anymore - did you know that in some places in South Korea they are actively rolling out 10Mbits UP AND DOWN and talking about 100Mbits services soon... Ethernet out of the wall with static IP adress and all. Why canīt it be done in such a "hightech" german culture? But then again they DO NOT WANT US TO BROADCAST and I can only say it more and more often as this seems to be the only reason why I do not get upload speeds at any acceptable rate - any other suggestion is just pure nonesense...


SmartWrap - vaporware rules the world

Its an old hat and I am sure I reported on it earlier - the coolest invention of the last 5 years - that has yet to show some actual products to get money loaded hands on is printing circuitry with inkjet printers. The newest incarnation is printing solar cells and OLEDs on a piece of see through plastic and using that as a wrapper for your house. Again no actual product - all laboratory tests and the name "DuPont" on the package make me shiver and a "believe it when I see it" kind of product. The announcements of these kind of tech start to bore me - same goes with "unlimited storage" "epaper" and the like - I still only see classic LCD panels even in the most expensive phones - there is barely a company using OLEDs yet (and they are said to be "in production" since at least three years) no epaper to buy and no holographic storage to pick up at the local store that holds all my data. All very nice concepts and I am sure the scientists have a field day in the laboratory conditions and using all this cool tech while mass market application seem to be out of question. So yes I want to print my own wallpaper screen for $5 dollars the square meter that even converts its own energy - and I am sure about a billion other people as well ... where is it? Vapor ware is ruling the technology market as of late - phone companies annoluncing products 12-18 month in advance of shipment (just to ship stripped down unfunctioning version then). We hear about phantastic speed gains in processors in "less then 24 month" just to see them cut down to reality 3 month before introduction (Intel just today). It really gets on my nerve. If any company exec is reading this: Announce a product when its ready to ship - it helps customer confidence in your company - doesnīt make you look bad when you are unable to ship it (as this would then not happen) and generally would be healthy for society.


China builds railway to Tibet

DSC00311.JPGWhen I was in Tibet five years ago there was talk on the streets that the Chinese had asked the Swiss to build them a railroad from mainland China into Lhasa. The benefit of a railroad from China to Tibet is extraordinary - for the Chinese. Tibet is said to have the most resources left on the planet - oil, coal, gold, copper, iron - you name it and its there - the problem always was that no transportation system was in place to get this out of town - it was one of the last barriers for the Tibetan culture to flourish and holding back the majority of the Chinese to rip the land of its culture, goods and spirituality.
Now the Swiss told the Chinese that this could not be done - a railroad following the bus route from Golmud to Lhasa - the most stressy bus route on earth where every year people die of altitude sickness traveling with the beaten busses on the earthy path - would not be feasible. So then I have not heard about any attempts since then - until today. The Chinese will open the railroad that will ultimately destroy the nature, spirituality and culture of Tibet in the next 20 years (seeing what they have already been doing without the railroad this will just accelerate the destruction). If you want to have a glimpse of what Tibet was about go now or otherwise all you will see is the Chinese Tourist Version of what once was the holiest sacred place in the world.

And here a nice layouted 70 pages PDF that shows the real motivation and history of the China-Tibet Railway.


3.500 km back
from Istanbul to Berlin through southern Europe

Reading the web today I found it coincidental and fitting that a report about the state of tourism at telopolis came on the same date I want to post my travel journey. The article says that in 1855 the Brockhaus Encyclopedia states that a tourist is called a journeyman/woman that has no science related target for their journey and is only doing the journey to have made the journey and to afterwards telling others about the journey - whereby modern "tourists" are only customers of some transport organization who only pays that his journey without experiences is handled as efficient as possible. - Our journey is a contrast to that I hope.

Noch 1855 konnte das Brockhaussche Conversationslexicon konstatieren, einen Touristen nenne man "einen Reisenden, der keinen bestimmten, z.B. wissenschaftlichen Zweck mit seiner Reise verbindet, sondern nur reist, um die Reise gemacht zu haben und sie dann beschreiben zu können." Bei Jules Verne hingegen, wie Sloterdijk mit Blick auf den besagten Roman nachsetzt, hat "der Weltreisende auch seinem dokumentarischen Beruf entsagt und ist zum reinen Passagier geworden." Das heißt zu einem Kunden von Transportdiensten, der dafür zahlt, dass seine Reise, keine Erfahrung, sondern so effizient wie möglich abgewickelt wird.

So here it is the lengthy in depth journey journal

After our aborted Mission in Istanbul Willow and me decided to have a nice slow driving back through a little "safer" route (whatever that means today). So we planned a little and and left Istanbul for the Black Sea Coast.

Continue reading "3.500 km back
from Istanbul to Berlin through southern Europe" »


I am back home

I am back from Istanbul and after I finished sorting things out over here I will put a lengthy description on our amazing trip back from Istanbul to Berlin through European Turkey, Greece, Italy and Austria.


Going home

20050904_rainbow_01.jpgDue to various problems inside the project Istanbul - personal, financial and project related - we have decided to leave Istanbul for good and head slowly back home. I expect to be back home in about two weeks.
Our route back will lead us from the Black Sea Coast in Turkey back to Greece on a ship to Italy and then all the way north to Berlin. Hope to see friends and family in good health when we are back...


Arrival or 3000 km through Europe with an old VW bus.

After about one and a half week driving through eastern/southern Europe we finally arrived healthy and fine in Istanbul Friday 5 p.m. local time. There are tons of things that I could write about and I probably will. Right now we are in an Internet Café of Michaels girlfriend on the Seaside of the Bosperus. We donīt have Internet at our house yet as we will be moving to a shiny new flat tomorrow. The old house is a "little" too rough for our taste. I mean its kinda nice and all but lacks everything including warm water and it has lots of fleas.
Anyway a short driving history for those who are interested.
Wednsday two weeks ago we started from Kleinmachnow (south Berlin) Germany around 5 p.m. after a much too long pack up going direction Wien (Vienna) via Prag (Prague). All went totally smooth almost no check on the chech boarder until about half an hour before Prag the oil lamp went on in the car. Made me very very nervous. After rechecking the oil level and filling it up with another 2 liter oil the car stopped on the autobahn after going off the next exit it bahaved ok and we decided that it was because there was too much oil in it now that need to be burned. Around 12 p.m. 1 a.m. we arrived in Prag and trolled around in the city for an hour and continued our ride. I decided that it would be nice to reach Austria the same night and sleep somewhere behind the chech/austrian boarder. After about on hour on the autobahn the oil lamp came back on and I got even more nervous. The car sounded fine responded fine and nothing seemed wrong. So we started ignoring it. At around 3-4 a.m. we reached the Austrian boarder (after some big detour inside the chech country side because of road constructions) and found a grape hill field to park in away from the street and had our first night in the wild. Next morning we got woken up by the sound of a chainsaw or something similar. We figured we should make some tea and get moving. On the way we called Michaels ex wife Claudia to ask her for a night over inside Wien.

Arriving sometimes around noon in Wien we had a rough map in one of our European maps but couldnīt figure out were the heck we came into the town so after driving around for about an hour we finally found the area that we needed and found Claudias appartment. All fine we moved in for the night got a shower and hooked up with Eva from 4youreyes who happened to live just around the corner to get my instructions for the "big open air" festival at the "Wiesen". She gave us all the infos we needed to get going and roamed Wien for the rest of the day. When we came back we got shouted at from neighbors - aparently the alarm system of the car was going on every 3 minutes. Great so that was of no use to us for the rest of the trip.
Had a nice sleep in Claudias apartment until another chainsaw woke us up - the cut down the only tree at the back of the house at 6 a.m. - great. So we tried to get us awake and after chatting with Claudia for a while went on our way to the Wiesen.
On the way to Wiesen the Oil lamp came back on with that nice warning sound. Great feeling I can tell you having 2000 km ahead of you and the oil lamp keeps signaling you something is terribly wrong with your car. I figured out when I drive for a certain time faster then 90 km/h and then go down in speed below 70 km/h the oillamp blinkenlights happened. So we kept ignoring it. Arriving at the Wiesen around 3ish p.m. we sat up our car at the VIP parking place much too close to the main stage (very loud) and got our tickets and stuff (always with G5 with all my data on it left in the car). Roaming around the festival area we found it much much smaller then anticipated - they must have made the photos I got in before with a very very wide angle lens. The video setup on both floors was quite nice. The mainstage where I was supposed to play had twelve 10.000 lumen beamers - which brightened up the room extremely. Strolling around the festival for the rest of the night until about 11 p.m. when it was my turn to rig up. I was playing from a back corner and apparently there where not enough people to fill the 6000 ppl holding tent. So I was standing in this tower all on my own with no crowd interaction - very great... At point midnight Miss Kittin came on stage and she must have had a terrible experience or something because I have rarely heard such a shitty DJ set from a supposedly high class DJ. It could have been the shitty sound system that didnīt transport enough music back to my tower anyways I had not the greatest night on earth and just right after my gig we listened and watched a little of Hell and 4youreyes until we got so bored so we decided to go to bed (after looking into the drum and base floor and desidedly thought it was ok but nothing special)...
Next day we just decided to hit the road and not stay for another night. So we went through Austria and just before the Hungarian boarder found a nice little field on top of a hill overlooking a village. Only about two hours after our arrivial the first person drove up to us to tell us that its not allowed to stay there. We convinced him that we just stay a night and he agreed. Next morning around 8 a.m. a family was pulling up and the older guy in the car told us that its his field (a field with only dirt on it) and that we shouldnīt stay there at all and that after church we should be gone. So we slowly got going made some tea and then a very old man turned up. He was very friendly after some apparent hostility and showed us his "secret" garden. We already found that garden the evening before and "stole" some carrots and some plums but he was very generous and gave us tons of fruits tomatoes plums peppers etc etc. So fully stacked on healthy stuff we continued our journey and crossed the boarder to Hungary. At the south/western tip of the Balaton lake we had a short break and eat some Palatschinken on to continue to the serbian boarder - which was further then thought. Oh and yes the Oil lamp still reminded us from time to time that something must be terrible wrong with the car.
So just before a very small checkpoint on the Hungarian - Serbian we pulled into a corn field and had a good night sleep with heavy rain above only to be awoken by a traktor passing us at around 8 a.m. or so...
We decided to get through Serbia and maybe even Bulgaria in one go if its possible because both countries seemed to be the most dangerous in our mind. So pulling into this tiny checkpoint to Serbia we meet very friendly Hungarian boarder patrol that didnīt really know what to do with our passports and after about 20 minutes hassling they went up to that Serbian guard that looked very mean and had a full combat camouflage suite on. They came back only to tell us that the Serbs donīt want us to go through the small checkpoint and that we should go to Tompa - the largest checkpoint to Serbia - a 100km detour in total. So after not too much hassle we were in Serbia and the whole country seemed hostile to us somehow. The Autobahn was very good but extremly boring. Only flat land and fields all the way from the boarder to Belgrad (Belograd). Before arriving in Belgrad we had to go through two Autobahn paycheckpoints. Both took about 18 Euros for using their streets from us. Great... Then driving through Belgrad I had generated some anger and anxiety and was just praying that the car wouldnīt break down here. The city looked sooooo ugly that we didnīt even bother to stop. (there is some video footage I hope to put out soon). Continuing toward the Bulgarian boarder we passed another "please pay something for our streets" checkpoints where the Autobahn ended - we had to pay 43 Euros there. I was a little hysterical and the guy was just pointing toward the police car so we paid... very bad... The rest of the way was probably Montenegro as the landscape changed from flats to hills the road were very bad and people looked much friendlier. The road was a two way road winding through the mountains - the oil lamp kept going on but eventually we made it to the bulgarian boarder at sunset. At this point we decided to go all the way through bulgaria and instead of going directly to Istanbul taking a detour to Greece and have some nice beach holiday for two days to chill out before going to the big city.
Crossing the Serbian - Bulgarian boarder was very straight forward and we reached the outskirts of Sofia when it was getting dark. The landscape and the people we saw looked much more friendly then in Serbia and I think Sofia is a city I want to go to without a G5 and 3 powerbooks in my car at some point. After Sofia we went straight south to Greece on firstly a very very bad road at night (I always thought that the springs of the car would break every bump) and then the road turned into a freshly made one through the mountains. It felt like a computer game. Almost no other cars a freshly made very very windy road. If you ever want to test drive a car this is one of the road to go on to. We reached the boarder at around 2-4 a.m. had a fast check at the control and found a nice little mountain city with a back road leading into the mountains were we decided to stay for the night - uninterupted sleep felt good also we were really close to our destination and the car just continued to run just fine outside of the oil lamp problem...
Next morning in Greece we decided to go to an half island called Kassandra and drive only on white and yellow roads through the mountains. We arrived there (after long windy dirt and gravel roads) in the afternoon. Found a nice lonely beach and got some very expensive but very very tasty fresh fish in a nearby fishertown. Had a beautiful view over the ocean at night next day we continued our little side track journey around this Island (after some swimming in chrystal clear water) down to the most south point of the Island that you can reach with car. Gravel roads galore we must have lost the last bit of our exhaust system on the car somehwere there - not a big problem the car is just a "little" louder now. Finding a completely empty beach had roasted corn on our own little fire beautiful sun and moon set.
Next day after some swimming and morning tea we set out going direction Istanbul again. We figured that we need one other stop somewhere behind Alexandroupi. We though we found a nice place on the map but arriving there it turned out not to be overly nice. Cutting through the country side on a freshly made road that was not on the map and no other car we pulled through some small mountain range and finally found a little village on the sea. Our first approach to the beach got us stuck and we had to dig out the car after that much too long travel didnīt really helped our spirit that day. After a while longer searching we found a place with at least a nice view to see the moon setting. Next day after some nice breakfast we went along and after about two hours we arrived at the Turkish boarder. What followed can be called insane boarder crossing. Greek side was ok and normal (passport check) then a bridge that we had to wait for soldiers marching over for about 30 minutes (between both boarder in the sun no shadow...) then we arrived at the Turkish side. We passed like 8 passport checks in total I got through very easely with my german Passport. The english one was more complex. Willow needed to get a visa so we parked the car right inside the boarder checking (very insanely parked cars everywhere) after paying ten euros and getting her visa we needed to through the customs. I had to get to one customs officer to get one kind of paper then to the next to get that signed and this guy actually wanted to look into the car (which no other customs on all boarder wanted to (except for the serbians that had a very very very brief look in the back of the car where the engine sits). He saw the big brown box and wanted me to open it. I showed him the G5 he apparently never saw such a computer but I convinced him that it was a computer and for personal use so he finally let us pass without any trouble. Then another passport check (yes each time the scanned the passport someone before could have missed something).
Then we were in Turkey. Landscape changed people looked different and road was worse but still ok. Driving for about 3 hours the traffic got thicker and thicker and thicker and thicker and thicker until a three lane road was used as a five lane road and everyone was going everywhere just not straight all this at around 90 km/h.... We decided to go to the Istanbul airport as this would be a place that was easy to find had english speaking people and maybe a phone charger because both of our phones were dead for days without any hope charging them inside the van. We arrived at five a clock at Istanbul airport. Michael came by very fast only like 30 minutes later and around 7ish we got into our little very very old half rotten house where we stayed since then. Have been tourists yesterday but it is really to hot to see anything and I will have another relaxed entry about Istanbul once we moved into the new shiny apartment and have internet.
Thanks for all the support of my family, annett and friends I will get in touch with everyone once I get a little more settled here and know what is going on. Things look good so far with a residency in a club for us three and some more vj related work and maybe even our own night (music and visuals)...

If you are in the dire need of some photos from Istanbul - Todd Thille who arrived the same night as us and who will work in the little Istanbul VJ collective has put up some photos from yesterdays tourist trip through Istanbul. Check out his blog entry: Todds Blog Entry:Fleas and Tourists


On the way to Istanbul

Today Willow and me will drive (yes with my green bus - for those who know it ;) from Berlin to Istanbul to meet Michael Parenti and Todd Thille. there and have three month of VJ work and near east encounters. I will try to fill this blog with experiences on the border between the east and the west, the city where Europe meets Asia.
Great driving weather with 24 degrees and slight drizzle rain.

Good bye Netti. Sorry I that fucked up yesterday. I will not forget you - thank you for everything.


Asperger Syndrom and me

Today I stumbled over an Artikel in Telepolis (german) about the Asperger Syndrom. I never heard of it before but what I read reminded me of myself so much that I did further studying and I think all things point to a direction that I have a light form of Asperger and that this was already highly visible in my youth and the subsequent years. Some of my eccentricity, my fear of large groups, the telefon and that I rather sit in front of the computer alone then go out with friends might be attributes to that. Asperger is to be believed a "mild" form autism without the complete lack of the surrounding that autism patients have but with a lot of other things in common. There is a test (in german) where you can check if tend to Asperger symptoms. It is nothing people canīt live with and most who where diagnosed with it still had a successful live but we are different eccentric, alien sometimes it seems we are "cold" and have no respect yet we are just trying things different and do not adhere so much to society. Funnily enough there is a group called "Institute For the Study of the Neurologically Typical" that portrays the "normal" persons as beeing mentally ill. You can even test if you are NT (neurologically typical). From their website:

Neurotypical syndrome is a neurobiological disorder characterized by preoccupation with social concerns, delusions of superiority, and obsession with conformity.

Neurotypical individuals often assume that their experience of the world is either the only one, or the only correct one. NTs find it difficult to be alone. NTs are often intolerant of seemingly minor differences in others. When in groups NTs are socially and behaviorally rigid, and frequently insist upon the performance of dysfunctional, destructive, and even impossible rituals as a way of maintaining group identity. NTs find it difficult to communicate directly, and have a much higher incidence of lying as compared to persons on the autistic spectrum.

NT is believed to be genetic in origin. Autopsies have shown the brain of the neurotypical is typically smaller than that of an autistic individual and may have overdeveloped areas related to social behavior.

Before you send me money so I can get treatment. The best treatment for Aspies is more learning to work on social skills (looking people in the eyes) and just get along with others and some open mindedness of the other that yourself is a bit different.


The future of the web is not the browser

incompixow1_0.pngMaking tools myself that take information in form of rss feeds and xml streams etc. and putting them into new cloth I get more and more the feeling that the future of the web sits not inside the browser window. As more and more information comes available this information craves for the attention of the world population and to distant itself from other information the browser seems not the best tool. I am not talking about flishy flushy flash sites I am talking about proper use of this information and using them in a manner that presents the information so its easier and faster to understand and comprehend. Its tools like widgets screensavers blogtvs tickers and tools that will yet have to be invented that will take the web to a version 2.0 where information is not only many and pretty to look at but also will be presented in a form that will make it easier to follow the information trail that is of interest to the viewer. For now take a look at my screensaver that I did for the incom workspace tool of the University for Applied Science Potsdam to see a concept of what I mean. Pictures and user definable RSS streams are mixed to give an outsider an overview of the school and its workwebsite presence, the newcomer a way to find use for the tool and for the insider user a nicely way to follow what is going on while taking a break. I am not saying its anything new I just come to the conclusion that this is where part of the web is headed and I really like this.

PS:The screensaver is programmed in Apples Quartz Composer and runs only under MacOSX 10.4.1 Tiger and with a graphic card of at least 16 MB. I would like to thank Pierre-Olivier Latour the Quartz Composer Architect for his help throughout the little project.


The minimalist society

Square Boxes, clearly readable "helvetica like" typography, cutout black figures, square boxes shallow easy to swallow short messages oh and square boxes are all that is successful these days and that is most that is primarely visible. Trying to bring complexity to a live that in the 21st century is reflected by its design, readings and open public "opinion" seems to be taken more and more as insult and offense. The success of the iPod like products, boxy layouts on the net and the overall trend of "less is more" that started with the bauhaus early in the last century seems the winner in all aspects of life at the moment. I always hoped that at some point I see a return to the ornaments that make this life complex, that add wonderful flowing depth and curiosity to life as a whole – that reflect the complexity of the world.
Yet the world seems to adjust to the minimalist current state by spreading ideas that are best reflected with the "good or evil" speeches of President Bush. It seems "thinking out of the box" is putting you out of the squares that form the social chessboard. Everyone wants to be famous, rich and powerfull and all that fast and easy and a good way to do it is to take everything out of ones thoughts, work and action that could be interpreted or that could lend depth or that could take time away from an audience. The most successful blog on the net are those that talk about dogs or celebrities sex life or about simplistic "good or evil" schemes. The most successful product of our times is a music player that has been stripped of all functionality other then playing tunes and presented in a "revolutionary" white square.
I am personally offended that companies and individuals think that all people on this earth are these one dimensional creatures that donīt want to think. That donīt want to hack through life discovering new stuff the longer they spend time on it and I predict that the future will not be any better as "statisics" show the humans have less and less time - even though they live about 20-30 years longer then in earlier periods of its existence. So the clear thinking is "make it fast – make it easy – make it simple and take out everything that could lead someone to explore or get its own message out of it".
I think because of this easiness the attention span of modern people shrinks more and more and I think this harms society as a whole. Most kids are not used to read longer then half a page text, are not used to decipher crazy ornamental typography - they mostly donīt even try and complain that it is unreadable. They are sucked in by the easiness presented to them to what at times seems lazy producers with not enough time on their own hands to produce or think about more complex products or specifically targeting this short attention span as a big viable market leading to a spiral that already leads to absurd one dimensional word combination without any explanation and square boxes.
But there is a limit. Not all company logos can become a black circle on white background not all commercials can have a black silhouette on a one color background not all products can be squares with one button not every idea can be presented in a one liner. Will we soon live in world that is "push one button" functional without any deeper longer thinking - will this world still considered "creative" and leave things to explore. Will they shape all of nature the way that it looks and feels less complex then it really is just to please the mind of those not thinking multidimensional. Will the majority become one dimensional consumers with only work and party at their main concern in life? I clearly think that this is happening but are there ways out of it? I think you can find very bright people around the world that are working on a multitude of branches and enforcing this but they are clearly the minority and are constantly being put in corners and oppressed only few make it out of their corners only to let their messages get "simplified" so they are understandable in the first dimension. I am just a little sad to see no deep and organic ornamental smooth round approaches to life in general - approaches that would suit the complexity of our surrounding - approaches that leave room for exploration, mind wandering and self conclusion - approaches that give space to multidemsional thinking and critical observation.


How intelligent swarms change the world

An article in the FAZ (german) talks about Howard Rheingold and how he sees the world changing through technology. How open source and peer to peer changes the politics of big corporation. He refers to the phenomena as SmartMobs or intelligent swarms. He talks about what all people connected for some time know - groups of people constantly organize reorganize make voices heard and all that completely without a top down control without a clear simple universal structure.
There is one quote that kind a struck me as this is the essence of what I believe in so I try to translate:

"Through the success of the peer to peer production of said swarms we see a fundamental change in business politics and therefore in the structure of capitalism."

„Wir erleben hier durch den Erfolg der peer-to-peer-production solcher Schwärme einen fundamentalen Wechsel in der Geschäftspolitik und damit in der Struktur des Kapitalismus.”

Rheingold goes on to say that of course big corporation try to hijack the new media forms but that this is seen by the communities and mostly dies of as quickly as it came. That is a point that I find debatable. I have seen big corporation taking over whole communities and outright killed them. Also there are multiple instances of corporate influence in existing big communities (I bet there are lot of links in wikipedia for example that are put there by hired personal). I think this is a real threat to the overall infoculture and can not be brushed off so easily.
As a futurist Mr Rheingold also looks into the future and has another thought he share that I agree with and hope for: China. A country with a communist government trying to give their people capitalistic standards. A country with 400 Million Mobile phones - popping up in the last 5 years. A country 1.5 billion people. Where does this country go? A democratic route? a pure capitilistic route? Mr. Rheingold thinks - like me - that this is the country where a new form for society could be born - and the world is rife for that and it could act as a role model. I surely hope that the peoples power will make this into something beautiful something that is not based on greed and hate.


Good bye Tresor - a personal retrospective

This morning 9 a.m. the letters that meant so much for the Berlin subculture where dismounted under the tearfull eyes of many. TRESOR was more then a club - Tresor was the last standing symbol of free, loud, uncontrolled subculture and after 14 years it has to close so that the rich can build a sterile office tower in its place.
I was in the Tresor for the first time maybe 10 years ago - I was more one of the people going to the E-Werk in those times - a more personal preference then any issue with the club. Back then there was what counts as the most true subculture of all - a subculture that rose from the chaos that came with the dissolve of east germany. A healthy ground for creativity that inspired so many to work in the creative field in the first place. It was maybe three or four clubs that made all the vibe - the Walfisch that was the first to close and where my memory really blurs as to describe what it was like - the Bunker - known for the most extreme speedy Gabba Techno, the Tempel E-Werk and the holy steel walls of the Tresor. All the clubs went down one after another and most of the time it had to do with permissions and location problems. The bunker and the e-werk locations are still in existence today. Nothing happens in the bunker anymore and the renewed e-werk looks more like a renewed office building then a place for dirty loud subculture and some events that tried to revitalize the feeling from "back then" failed completely. The Tresor was the last standing bastion for a healthy subculture scene and a sign that you could always hold up and be proud of if you where afflicted with the scene in Berlin. Techno has seen so many faces in the meantime - a rise and fall of the loveparade - the rise and fall of thousands of smaller and larger clubs - the commercialization of electronic music into the extreme and the Tresor has survived it all - financially and bureaucratically and spiritual. It was always there for giving the scene some guidance and personally - to an extent - it helped making my own personal decision to become a VJ - I am addicted to the fusion of our mammal feelings(dance, spirit) and futuristic sounds(technology) and Tresor gave those feelings a meaning - everyone who ever danced downstairs to some good techno beats could feel free for a moment - free from all chains of the modern world. This dirty loud subculture is exactly what makes spiritual survival in the modern times possible for many young overstressed people and makes many of them communicate that would sit in front of the TV otherwise. In Tresor it never mattered who you are where you came from. I have seen people wear dresses next to dirty old punks next to beatiful topless girls next to the ordinary young neighbor. They all got along and all had their own way of communication - if they didnīt want to talk they danced and they loved.
That I got the opportunity to play as a VJ in Tresor is something I will never forget and that I will always be thank-full for. My first time vjing in the Tresor/Globus (the upper part) was almost a year ago - for a Sommersafari crew birthday party - and I can tell you that I was a very happy VJ that night - it was kind of magic creeping up in telling me this is what all the work is for even though the crappy beamers never really showed much of my pictures. That the Tresor Crew was so cool to let the VJs of AVIT^C3 play there on the Wednesday before NewYears Eve and that they bought this huge kickass videowall knocked me off my shoes and was about the coolest VJJam I have ever witnessed - but what honors me most is that they trusted me to book VJs and play there for their last birthday - 4 nights true spirit for those who cared most. With Friday the most interesting day music wise I have ever experienced inside the old shopping malls money storage and entrance hall. Playing at Tresor has brought me some of the most intense tight sets I ever experienced with a wonderful open crowd.
Thank you Tresor Crew for making this happen over all this time and thank you for letting me play and be part of this wonderful 14 year long experience. Yesterday was the day to say goodbye - very personally - I celebrated and danced and had a lot of nice memories pop up in my mind - an era is over at least for me - not much will change but much will be missed.
This last saturday will be the day that either marks a new future for Berlins subculture or its sellout and slow painfull death.
Good bye Tresor and I hope that the new home you hopefully find will be filled with the same true spirit as always.

PS: I would like to thank Micha, Ralf and the whole Lighting Crew for their fantastic support during my visits and hope that we can work together again in the future.


Johannes Paul II. and Us

I know it has been beaten to death by hundreds of news sources but I would like to chime in on the death of the only Pope I have known in my short life. I am not religious in any ordinary way so this is a hard post to make and not accidently step on people toes. Besides lots of things that I wanted the Pope to address - I still liked him. Not for fiddling with politics - oh no religion and politics should be as far separated as possible. I liked the Pope because he has tried to teach one thing - that all religions on this world should come closer together because – I like him believe – that the root for all religions lies in the deep connection of our minds deep inside we are one entity struggling for survival. The roots of all religions seem to come from the same source of thought - that live is endlessly intervened and life for him was the holiest of all holy things.
The pope has been reaching out to muslim, jews, buddhists and more and it was more then just phrases to polish up his image. The deepest interconnects of all living things lies somewhere in all religions. If you ever heard the chants of tibetan monks and been in a christian church with an organ pipe you will never stop thinking that they have something in common that is not explainable with words. You somehow feel deeply connected to a bigger entity even if you do not call this entity god or buddha. Maybe all life together is this godly feeling and to change we have to embrace not the one god for selfishness but the entity that is life for all life.
Besides all his shortcomings (and this list is very long) it is this why I have deep respect for the Pope. Its this departure from monotheism that can heal a lot of wrongs in this world as we understand that we are one and have one destiny. We all live and our thoughts - even only as thoughts - will change this world forever - every single one of us does have the same power. Let his departure from the real world bring all of our thoughts closer together - life is something so wonderful and we should not waste this beautiful heavenly earth to the greed and power of some few.
Rest in Peace JPII.


ANTīs not Television

If you are frequent to this blog you heard my multiple ramblings on how bad i think television is for the population on the planet. Actually I did something I rarely do - criticize without having a handy solution. The world will breath again the solution is here and its even better then I ever thought as it combines two of the three coolest web-technologies and puts it in an interface as easy to use as a TV box. The ANT is here and their slogan is "ANTīs not television". The slogan is a ripoff from "GNUīs not Linux" and could not be better suited. ANT gives you a nice clean interface as easy to use as the Quicktime Player and a TV set fused together.
The cool thing: its actually nothing more then an RSS feed reader. Yes this little "rss feed" or "xml feed" or "atom feed" you see on the right of many blogs and more and more newssites is used to give you an almost TV like experience. You alter the RSS feed a little (for example in movable type you put <$MTEntryRelEnclosures$> in the RSS 2.0 feed template) and then put in a rel="enclosure" in between your link to the movie you post and from that the ANT filters out the movies. You subscribe to the feed through ANT and click on refresh and there you go. You just watch the movies as they come in. You can refresh all of your subscribed feeds during the night and watch true Blog TV in the morning. You have to try it out to see how cool and easy this is.
After you download ANT you have some pre-installed feeds in there. You can just go to add to add another feed like the one for my vj-blog (copy link).
This programs brings you the closest to TV experience on the web while at the same time beeing MILES away from beeing TV as this is truly giving everyone the right to be a publisher of their own TV channel - on demand and fast :)


Reclaim your Soul

From the maker of VJCentral - Mr eXhale from Switzerland comes a community website of a different kind. Something that is of deep interest to me as I personally research the true meaning of spiritual interconnectivity - a topic that always comes up in my dreams and visions of the future... if that all sounds like I am stoned let me provide you with a quote from an articel that eXhale put out and that I kind of agree with:

We do not need technology to reconnect to each others, to find informations or to pass it around. We are already all spiritually connected and all these activities can be done in synchronicity but it requires patience and trust in the universe; we must stop listening to our ego which try to force things on as many people as possible.

And this thought goes deeper then one might imagine and it might be the reason we have communication technology in the first place (to point out that this connection is indeed happening). I do not agree with eX that all utterly bad and part of a dark self emanating conspiracy theory. I do think technology will finally help us to find this connection and make it apparent even to the last that we are all one.


Klartext Video Release

Shortly before my vacation I finally finished a very personal nice project. Klartext the band that I VJ with and that prototypen promotes has taped all the concerts and rehearses of last year so I thought to put them together and cut em to de beat. This project got a little bigger then first thought and finally it has become a real "live video" to the life recording at Berlins Columbia Hall of their song "Feedback" complete with a nice little introduction. It portrays us 10 as we are in real life and on stage. It connect with the audience through the text of the song and the very strong pictures but all is real not a single shot in the video was taken for a music video in mind. The video recordings have been made by various people with different experiences at the camera. I had to fight with bad low light and blown out situations. The color version that exists on my harddrive somewhere looks really messy with even some "night shot" picture in between. In the end I decided to go the black and white route and I think it has payed off and looks a lot better this way. The integration with the introduction that has a little story in its own comes also through the use of only black and white with red - the corporate identity color of the band. I am very satisfied with the result. We digitized over 25 DV tapes for the movie and I put my attention to the little details of a full band year. I hope you find as much joy in it as everybody over here does.

KlartextFeedback2004_high.mp4 (30 MB / save as)


rel="nofollow" <- death to blogging?

Comment spam is something every blog owner hates as much as the neighboring dogs. We here at prototypen had very bad months last year with about 1000 comment spam messages per day. We took the matter seriously as it was really disrupting our blogs. Since we use a free old version of Six Aparts Movable Type we have not much tools available to us to fight the spam. In the beginning the blacklisting worked out quite well but with the massive onslaughter of comment spams the mt-blacklist broke down before our eyes, its database - full of phrases to look for- made the hosting computer go down to its knees - it seemed - processing mt-blacklists database with waiting times up to 10 minutes for a message delete page to load. So that was not the best way around to do this. What was always clear is that we wanted the comments open to everyone with the least amount of hassle for serious poster to let the voices be heard.
We have now a custom coded solution to the problem - a problem that came because of the hegemony of Movable Type in about 90% of all blogs active on the net. it must have been easy for the spammers to use bots given that the comment spam script is searchable with google and is easily executed externally outside of MT. Anyway our spam problem went away to 99% with some manual spammer coming across now and then but those can be deleted by hand rather easily. Our custom solution can not be applied to all blogs out there (and I already see the day that it gets "broken") and the comment spamming got so utterly bad that googles search algorithm freaked out and you get so many spams on top of so many search terms that this threatens to make google and other search engines unusable.
So they all United in Peace to free the world of the uterly bad. Google, MSN, Yahoo!, Manilla, Six Apart, Wordpress, Flickr, Blogger, Livejournal, Buzznet, Blojsom, Blosxom etc have all joined the efford and are now introducing a new tag to the html header. The syntax is very very easy just type rel="nofollow" and all links on the corresponding page are not attributed to the search engines page ranking anymore.
Great way to get rid of the problem BUT this effectively gives the spam war a clear long term winner - and the winner are the spammers because they successfully harmed our basis democratic blogoshpere that was using comments and blogs to express opinion. This interblog page ranking democracy is seriously crippled with this as now only links that the author of a blog posts are considered worthy and all disagreement or enhancements inside the blogs comment that gets funded with links is out of the loop and will not be considered worthy by Google and Microsoft. Needless to say that we will NOT incorporate this system - at least not as long as our hack works.
That gives room for a personal "conspiracy theory" of mine. The spammers are government funded agents that try everything they can to destabilise the free internet as we know it so the evil governments of the world can step in and - together with their corporate buddies - establish law and order slowly eating away the freedom and voices from otherwise powerless individuals around the world. The more of the "spam links" you click and there are not even corresponding pages on the other side the more this conspiracy makes sense and in a way it seems to be succeeding very nicely. Just put some more "antispamlaws" in place and control the internet a little more every day. Its happening and its creepy.
Donīt understand me wrong. I hate spam - I hate it A LOT but its better to stand up to the spam then crippling and jailing the net as I have learned to love it - free and anarchic - and spam is part of this anarchy side of things - the internet is not the clean shopping mall in the suburb and I hope it will never become such a boring place of mass consumption.


Netti has her own Blog

Today two new blog have been born. Two people - One I love One I respect. Check out the blog of Cassandra the Trojan princess and the blog of Punkrawker the great punk writer.


Pro Amateurs taking over the world?

In a recent open essay (to the world?) on FastCompany you can hear one mans opinion on the real revolution going on today. A reversal of the past when big scientists and big corporation with big budgets have overtaken all discoveries that formerly was the main domain of amateurs throughout the centuries. The Amateur Revolution (no tm) of small professional amateurs getting at the big guys, be it Linux taking on Microsoft, Amateur astronomers making the biggest discoveries, a romanian space craft a sure contender to the X-Prize underground HipHop overtaking the professional music bussines etcetc. And I can agree with him we here at the prototypen head quarter are exactly this: Amateur Professionals and we feel confident that we have a better take on some things than the big corporations surrounding us. We think that there is not much that can stop us and that even the economics of capitalism are no real boundary to the success of our vision.
Mr Charles Leadbeater who wrote the article concludes it that in the future all is open for re-negotiation science, politics, market and personal life. I encourage everyone to take this as optimism and hope for a brighter future maybe the last hope we have for not having the corporate controlled world that Mr. Orwell or Mr. Huxley imagined some decades ago.


China in the News Blog Roll addition

I tend to not update my blog roll often, but since I am kinda fan of big ol China and things over there happen to fast and are kinda complicated I want to add a (german) blog to the roll called "China-in-the-News". To widen awereness of the far east communistic country with so much appeal.


fALk is back

after long absence due to restructuring of my new home and office space that took WAY longer then anyone expected I hereby tell the world: IAMBACK. Stay tuned for a powerfilled fALk in a brand new office fully connected to the world. With a prototypen website restart around the corner and lots of exciting news, products and events.


Dance Music - Brave New World Unspun

There is a great article about a personal experience from an elder clubgoer who is witness that a lot of us are witnessing. The brainwashing of a whole generation. Not through government practices but through meanless transcomatic beats and lots of drugs. Someone who stays on stage and registers the surrounding thousands of people can see that all the meaning of music to wake up people evoke emotions has died in pure electronic music venues. Its about de pumpin beat and after 2-3hours of pumping beat you see thousands of controlled robots not able to do anything else then dance til 8-12 in the morning. That every week they are so exhausted that during the week they manage not much else then go to work / school (if at all) and relax in front of a TV as couch potatoes. This must be a great sight for mainstream politicians - all those young energetic people completely shut up and only shouting out when a local club closes. They have not even enough energy to fight for their own events - events that arguably tried to form the whole electronic beat scene into something political - make a voice for a subculture (not that they have brainwashed themself into money making monkeys -> LoveParade). Promoters see only money. Not much risk is taken and if there is someone risking something and its successful then its getting ripped of by 100 other promoters making the original idea mood (beach bars in berlin anyone?) by only focusing on the money side and letting the message an original project might have had go away completely. I have no real point in this post other then to make some awareness to this problem as there are numerous discussions about this on the VJ message lists right now it seems to have stuck quite a few people working in the "biz" that once was a subculture that posed out to be different and worldchanging. Still the words "More Fun Less Work" or "Alternative Places For Creativity" are in my ears and now its mostly this high gloss Venue with DJ stars. It even worse elsewhere in the world. Berlin might still be the exception. I hope the eastern european countries are making their industry wastelands available to the arts for free - something that could have changed the whole scene over here forever (e-werk anyone?). Not all this regulations "how loud can I be" "How many toiletts do I need" "Can someone trip over the piece of metal and maybe fall down". Its this attitude that still hinders all new original creativity and ideas from becoming a greater message for a new world that gets away from the pop iconic DJ superstars Britney Spears and American Lead Culture in general. There are three ways the future can shape up I think. Once is becoming like big brother - total control under totalitarian regime - humans are aware and might even fight against this - the other is Brave New World - Humans will not notice everyone will live in a bright white house that looks the other 20 bright white houses in the same street with a nicely trimmed garden. Work will be minimal with help through robotics and everyone will take so many drugs that everything is sunshine happy til you die you do every day the same thing and here the same music.
The third option is that humans behave like humans. Beeing little crazy and INDIVIDUAL and NON CONTROLLABLE you have lots of freedom to do what you feel like organize in gatherings of similar interest perform for others try to find you own way into live. Its the last point that is in most danger and its the path I would prefer in front of all others.


Little Bigger Personal Project

Just in Case someone has been wondering why I havenīt updated the blog frequently in the last weeks. I have a "little" personal project at hand that I need to get through. My girl and me have gotten this ultra cool flats inside the house on the picture. The house is very rough and lots of thing inside need to get fixed before we can move in. We will get kicked out of our current housing end of year so we had to find a new place. Our new home is just across the Lake right around the corner of our current location but actually its way cooler. In the middle of the woods somehow and yet so close to the big cities. Lots a space inside and outside. Nice Partys ahead for sure.


Selecta Schuppan - Welcome to the Blogosphäre

With the title "Stahlwalzwerker - the little different blog" Selecta Schuppan opens up a blog dedicated to all things Kleinmachnow and "kak interejezno" whatever that is you can check it out the impressive 25 entries on the first day. Very funny and in german....


Chernobyl Picture Update

Kid of Speed - the girl driving with her Motorbike through the wasteland called dead zone around Chernobyl has updated her site due to the thousands of hits she got when her story made it on Slashdot some moons ago
So she went again in spring 2004 and added the pictures... They are outright brilliant. Telling on their own they give a deep insight of the death mankind can bring and the power of nature to reclaim deadly environments. Absolutely necessary to check out her pictures.


Where have I traveled so far

Via Ein Schöner Tag comes a great link to a site where you can put together a map where you have traveled so far. I thought its worth a shot... so here you go my personal lifelong travel map.

create your own visited country map
or write about it on the open travel guide

I think they should add Mars to it somehow.

But seriously I think all those maps have political flaws. Because they do not seperate Israel and the Palestina. Or include Tibet and HongKong into "MainlandChina" (and Taiwan as well!). I really have my problem with that, not only because I have travelled those but I think its an insult to the population who are struggling with this. Sites like this make it look even more so that the world has given up on the problems there, discouraging any and all resistance.


Like minded People

Its always nice to find like minded people on the net. No not through those hip social networks (orkut) where you need to be a nerd among geeks to have friends. I mean stumbling across a webpage and think "hey this person has some of the same thoughts as you". As happened with Mr. John Walker from Switzerland and founder of Autodesk, Inc - an internet activist. Lovely thoughts to be found on his site.


People leaving TV

Something that seems almost unreal. Television, that ancient concept of one to many communication, in America is in a state of heavy decline. According to a Yahoo article the 2 percent drop in viewership is accelerating and among those watching less or NO TV are at most the younger viewer between 18 and 49. 7% of those to be precice. As the Video Art pioneer Eric Siegel put it in 1975:

"The American Dream no longer is evolving. It's in a state of decay. Television must be liberated."

Great that the internet is coming to help here. I personally have no TV anymore, since the capitalistic bastards forced everyone to buy a 200 euro settop box for suprior digital tv. They promised me to get 25 more channels of constant brain frying junk - I passed and in return I have much more time at hand to educate myself, which seem so much more rewarding. I have to admit that I miss the beauty of 25fps high rez (well tv highres at least) news feeds from time to time but I am in high hope that the internet will catch up to this very soon. Multikast could help us get there soon - where is my IPv6......


Happy New Year

Wish everone out there a happy new year and a lovely start into 2004.

I will be performing at the Berlin Alexanderplatz Congreshalle right next to the blinkenlights installation. I will be standing in the upper right corner of the building in the windows. If you happen to walk by give me a wave :). My visuals are visible for everyone outside as well. I have three ultra cool beamers at my disposal for tonight one beeing 12.000 lumen :) This is a special show for the company that owns House of the Teachers and CongressHalle but you can get in at 10 pm for (a pretty hefty) 49 euros sushi and drinks inclusive. You might be able to see some glimpse of me performing in the various blinkenlights webstreams.

The webstreams:



Iraq heading into civil war?

Reading all the iragi blogs the last few days there seems to be an imminent fear that there might be a civil war that could start any day. Some of them talking about the very organized resistance toward the occupation, some are talking about a new source of fear from the anti-resistance resistance and continuing demonstration pro-saddam, anti-saddam and anti-occupation (noteworthy – no word of any pro-occupation demonstration). The fear is that some of the kurdish militias and the armed wing of one of the exile Iraqis that sits in the governmental body that the US placed there - Mr. Shalabi. Word is that those new militas are as bad as some of Saddams secret service just not against the people saddam where after but instead against ALL sunni population. That is the stuff a civil war is made of. Its up to your guess what side the US will take in all this and my feeling tells me that this is getting out of hand very soon.the US attacked from both sides and both sides attacking each other. You know freedom of speech and all... Let the weapons speak seems to be the name of the Iraqi game for 2004. There is word that it was quiter and more peacefull under saddams regime even in its worst days then it is now. I feel with the Iraqis and hope that this might be over for the better. I donīt put my hopes very high so - not unless a person with some peace - strategic knowledge gets into a big white house on the other side of the world.


Powerbook to fragile

Since my Powerbook has broken down again with very psychadelic screen animation (that I forgot to record - duh it was so "nice") I want to raise the awareness question if such highpowered portable computers are to fragile and if we might hit into more and more problems in the future the more crammed the things get. Seeing the recent white spot problematic in the AIBooks and multiple reports of broken portables (not only from Apple) I have the feeling that unless the makers take greater care or have make better protection the thingies will line up in repair and be a loss product in the not to distant future. I love those IBooks they are almost indestructible and I for one would trade the cool TitaniumAluminiumMagnesiumShells any time for the much thicker IBooks if I get a Portable Computer in return that I can drop in the back without great measurements of care and a layer of prototection between Screen and keys. Granted the newer Aluminium Powerbooks are more robust then the Titanium version that I posses but I still think the owner should take care of them. I recommend the pretty expensive AppleCare service because the thingy will break down at one point and by looking at todays reselling prices for powerbooks this might pay off.

I have no point in this post other then to say "I miss you my lovely Tibook come back soon"... I just needed an excuse... sniff


The Matrix goes online ---- 2004

apparently the Triology was only a commercial for an upcoming online game!?

What do you do when you have no budget but a great plan for an online game? You make a good Triology before the game start and make the audience pay for the advertisement and the game development.

What first started out with a glorious concept and story soon became only a money making machine. I am talking about the Matrix. I did not see the third part of the Triology yet but from what I heard it is even more out of touch with the original story then the second one and this was so bad that it was almost unbelievable. They made a movie that could have changed the way we think about the future but it all ended up in the usual kungfu fast cut action we all have seen so often over the last year (with KillBill as a highlight far better then Matrix). They almost got me back with the Animatrix which I thought was brilliant, but the most brilliant parts of this where the ones that where not directed by the brothers especially the last one that really had me twisting my brain again.

Do not get me wrong. I love the 3d animations and the Action but I loved much more the foundation: the storyline. And this almost ceased to exist in the second part already. Action had taken over 80% of the movie. Now that they have finished off the Triology they want to milk the cow even more and putting up a PC ONLY online role playing game for the masses. And again the focus is on action rather then story. The Wachowski brothers are in charge of the game play but seeing the degeneration of their thoughts it will propably end as another end of the world game with lots of killing shooting and jumping. The games "story"line will be put after the Revolution and you are about to save the earth again. Great. Lets move on to something interesting.


The VJ narrative - part 0.1 beta 1 thoughts

Having had the pressing need to get my thoughts into a project I did a ultra speed production of a small VJ narrative - to be presented to the audience at AVIT Brighton. I had so many sleepless nights with all the theories behind a possible VJ narrative that I was not sure anymore if it would work at all. So getting out on thursday with 5T3PH4N at a for me unusual time (5 am) we drove to Alexander Platz in Berlin and shoot a little narrative. The narrative is short to tell. Someone comes out his home drives throught the city with a cybermobile stops at the TV tower hacks this and turns the buildings around him into HUGE TV screens - first blinkenlight style but second the biggest building at Alexanderplatz into a fullcolor screen. It all was shot in 3 hours. I then had a very very productive week to crank out about 70 individual loops that explained the journey put it in some style and made it loops.
The evening at TikiRik in Brighton UK went by and could put the show on. First I thought the loops would hold out for only 30 minutes. I stretched the first part of the narrative - the boring drive through town until it got very boring (for me at least) - good that fRED supported me with some of his rythm loops. Then I looked at the watch and figured out that I already spend over 30 minutes just on the drive by loops. Sadly I then had to rush through the end part of the story but this made it quite tight and suited for the bar setting at hand. The atmosphere was very tense and I think the people where actively looking at the screen at most time (putting a lot of pressure onto me. - I would have liked the first performance of this thing in a closed friend setting)

I think it all worked out great - for a 0.1 beta 1. Better then expected. Things that I need for this first teaser story: better explanation loops that also act as rythm loops. The story could have been more obvious if I would have used clear type. I am so bad in Typography but there is no way around. I need to fill in these voids by introducing the character (hopefully causing more anticipation in the audience). Then explain the drive more clear. The HUD display was a good step in the right direction but the visual look of it sucked :/. Also I need more rythm loops while the driving is happening. I was thinking about Reklametafeln short subjective views of the 5T3PH4N looking out seeing lovely girls - geeks - older people (going a little more into the social side of things and describing the time where this happens). Describing the city in which this happens. As for the hacking part. This went pretty well (ones I have ordered my loops and number them right ;) but again I need to use clear type saying LOGGIN IN. CONNECTING. SCANNING. TURN ON WINDOW 5/23 HAUS DER LEHRERS or the such to make it more clear that there is a connection between his hacking and the buildings that get turned on also I need to adjust the HotelView and add the Volumetric Light to the Fernsehturm in the back otherwise this breaks all revelations before inside the audience. in the end I need the "hack the planet" typo as a plain Text Animation not on the house and I need a stronger picture to mark the end. But in general it all worked out very well and I can work on top of this experiment and can look forward for a great narrative production in the next year....