Archive for the ‘general’ Category

Touch Camera ….

August 14, 2008

This looks like a very interesting concept: Touch Sight a camera for blind people.

It reminds me on the Bach y Rita Experiments. There they mounted a small array of vibrating sticks on the thong of people. The array was hooked up to a camera, mounted on their head. Eyes were closed. After a while, people could ‘see’ with the device, developed a rough idea of 3D, could avoid obstacles.

Lit: P. Bach-y-Rita, C. C. Collins, F. Sauders, B. White, and L. Scadden. Vision substitution by tactile image projection. Nature, 221:963-964, 1969.


Use all fonts in the internet!

July 30, 2008

Everyone who has designed a web site, knows about this: you choose a nice font, build the web-site, put it online … and your buddy calls, and says: ‘why on earth did you use courier???’, and you answer: ‘get a mac, man!’ …

… not satisfying.

The reason for this: the set of fonts, that are available on all systems is relatively small, so if the font on your website is not available on the receivers computer, it will be rendered with something different. Now fonts are certainly not the most important part of a web-site … but I think fonts are an important part of publishing, and eventually there has to be some way, to accomplish the richness of printed media in the web.

The effort behind @font-face might be a big step in this direction. The basic idea, is to store font faces on a central repository, to which everybody has access. It will be incorporated in Firefox 3.1, which is a very good sign.

Here is a piece on @font-face on

The Future of Web Fonts looks Brighter

Versions … subversion

June 4, 2008

This seems to be pretty interesting. … especially the free hosted repositories for quick and dirty collaborations. On the other hand, how can you trust someone with your data?

Anyway, I will keep Versions on the radar, because a handy subversion client that keeps track of all the working copies on my harddisc looks … promising.

Big file transfers:

May 23, 2008

Occasionally I have to transfer large amounts of data, or just distribute data, or slides to students.


Until now I did it by checking out for a free space somewhere on the server, fiddling with htaccess files, if it was not meant for public access, distributing the URL, rechecking it, if it really worked … for which I sometimes had to log in via ssh, and change the settings with chmod … this was cool, because it looked fancy to have data on your server. All the rest of the procedure … sucked, and the sysadmin did not like my 50MB files a lot.


I just go to and upload the stuff. I choose a nice URL e.g.,, choose a password – or not, choose a separate admin password for me – or not. bamm. done. 15min work reduced to 1min. No registering, no signup, the only downside I found is the 100MB limit – but well, I can live with that.

Apple users are productive -> have lots of time at their disposal

February 6, 2008

Seriously, how far ahead of schedule do you have to be to copy-past preference list entries into your ‘favorite’ base64 converter, and check whether there is something interesting to find.

Assuming they used up all other interesting stuff available, before engaging in this … aham, that is pretty impressive:

Super Tuesday Easter Egg in iPod touch


syslogd gone wild

January 8, 2008

Since Leopard my mac sometimes begins to freeze and I recognized that my syslogd is running at 100-150% with 1Gb of virtual memory. I wondered a little bit about it and began digging in Google.

My research ended in a guess. (If its wrong – please drop me a note)

The reason is, that buggy programs are filling up the syslogd with debug messages – mostly Apple Event Debug messages in my case. When the file /var/log/asl.db is over 20-25 mb big, the syslogd goes wild

so execute in your prefered shell

     sudo rm /var/log/asl.db && sudo killall syslogd

and it will stop for a while.


I am looking for a permanent solution. If you know one – please drop me note.

have fun

change the 3D Dock in a 2D Dock (Mac OSX Leopard)

November 18, 2007

One week ago I installed Leopard. Well I am quite happy. There are some disappointing bugs, but I hope they will be fixed soon. (like my beloved python does not compile and mplayer from macports works only with disabled SSE and MMX).

Another thing was the 3D Dock. I find it a little bit ugly. So if you want to change it to 2D, here’s the trick.

open a terminal an execute

defaults write no-glass -boolean YES; killall Dock

You can undo this with

defaults write no-glass -boolean NO; killall Dock


have fun



I found this in this german blog (thanks guys)

PS: Sorry corrected a error (removed the sudo)

GTD Salsa: in 80 days around the world

October 1, 2007

Ever wrote all your super important and time sensitive info in a gadgety note taking and self administration tool? Ever recovered that info exactly half a year after its relevance horizon? Then this post is for you, but beware, this is not the post for the quick info, so I have marked these posts with GTD Salsa, for the less focused break and hellish self reflection.

Frequent readers might notice that I am the guy, who first installed a ruby based instiki – which crashed on me, just after I had gotten serious with hacking its database internals (speak: added a slash in a path definition) – who then spent a night transforming my macbook into a mediawiki server just for myself, and promised to keep you up to date with how my media wiki information and project planning was coming along. What to say? I just discovered that reminder while skimming through this blog.

My MediaWiki: I have dumped it. My personal wiki was working reliably, I just turned out to fill it with information that I never ever retrieved out of it. I could have, it was all there, and in a thought-out structure, but to be honest I was just to lazy to click 5 links in order to know what the next step in a certain tasklist would be. It is important to note here, that this was a personal wiki. Shared wikis are quite a different affair, and I enjoy using some of them, bit this post is about organizing just yourself.

The all new system without a system

So, for two weeks now I have a new system, that is extra easy and just for me. no hyperlinks, no databases, and I will explain it to you in a series of postings, because I have just lost you now for today, and have half a Charles Stross left at the side of the sofa.

stay tuned …

will I like zeroconf?

September 15, 2007

will I like zeroconf?

YES you will (or do)

what is this magical thing everyone is talking about.

Well, simply spoken – its sends a broadcast in your network and gets back the ipadress of another machine.
I hear you saying – but thorolf, that’s a normal broadcast. You are not telling us really news.

… and it gets back the port and a decsription – ahhh that sounds cool.

zeroconf was former called Rendezvous or Bonjour in Apple systems. Now you can find it under linux also, under the name Avahi.

A longer good video about it – google zeroconf video

have fun

jabber – why it rocks

August 20, 2007

Jabber – why it rocks

Jabber is an instant messenger based on the XMPP, near real time XML streaming/routing protocol.

There are tons of specifications out there – but what does it actually for you. Well think of a protocol, which does not need a port for every extension and with that every function you use.

You can have a client capable of sending text messages over XMPP. One day the developer of the the chat client decide to extend the client with a white board and you and your friends can now draw images together. And maybe other developers decide to implement some telephone features – now you can talk to your friends.

The really nice thing is – if you have a fully functional client for speech, chat, drawing and your friends not – the clients are not useless. the client “knows” which features it implements – and gives you the best he can offer.

But its not only for chat and drawing – because there is enough stuff out there. The interesting stuff begins when you use it as a transport layer for web services. Imagine you can see the status of your coffee machine in your chat client. or you get every time a message when someone of your project group add some code to the subversion repository. Fiction ? no its working – and I love it.

A protocol which you can extend dynamically. Of course you can use it with SSL and Kerberos. All the beauty of network transportation on top of all layers.

Of course I am simplifying it, but its really easy and very extend able. So why is jabber so cool, if XMPP is the cool protocol. Because jabber does not care what it transports – its an XMPP router. You can use it for transporting all your XMPP streams through your networks and far beyond.
links for more information

the main site (rfc’s, extensions, ..)

and of course in Wikipedia – there are also lots of links for more information

dig in and have fun