Wednesday, December 30, 2009

2000 to 2009

Now that another decade comes to an end, it is time for me to see if the ten years really were worth the effort. Overall it seems to have been more pain than was strictly necessary.

2000 - it all started quite nice. I just turned 30 and was living in London, just got together with my girlfriend and working for guideguide a very nice start-up which was going quite well at the time. One highlight of the year was a trip to OSCON in California, where I witnessed the beginning of Perl6, which seemed brilliant at the time and now appears a bit pointless.

2001 - will always be remembered for 9/11, someone in the guideguide office heard about it over IRC and we quickly confirmed it on TV. It was also the year where I bought my first iPod, maybe the only trend I ever spotted early. Nobody at the time imagined how either 9/11 or the iPod would shape the future.

2002 - I split up from my girlfriend for a while and decided that this would be the right moment to start drinking alcohol again after ten years.

2003 - guideguide was scaling down a lot now and I had to fire lots of people, which was probably one of the most stressful episodes of my business life so far.

2004 - with not much left of the company I decided I could as well move to Barcelona and work from there. It turned out to be a lot of fun and a lot more relaxed than London. It was also the year where I got ill and fixed up again.

2005 - a bit of work, a bit of travel, a lot of recovery

2006 - I quit guideguide after lots of years. It was a difficult decision, but nobody of the old gang was still around, so I didn't feel too bad. I was also looking for a local job and just being employed for a change. I used the rest of the year to chill and enjoy Barcelona.

2007 - Found a new job at opus5, learned lots of new stuff. For some reason the founder left after I just started, is it me ?

2008 - whatever happened to 2008?

2009 - I decided to stop drinking again, turned out to not be my thing after all. The economy made this year really interesting and I hope it will turn up some new opportunities in the future. Oh, and I turned 40 and I am looking forward to my mid-life-crisis, but that is the topic of another post.

And finally thanks to everyone who made these years more fun then they sound:
  • my girlfriend Cat, who makes everything more lovely
  • my family: Kathrin, Thomas, Klaus and Ulla, who helped me through some rubbish
  • Mikel, who brought me to London
  • the guideguide guys: Andy, Adam, Alex, Marc, Rob, Jasper, Ben, Luke, ..., who made me learn a lot and fast
  • The Londoners: Anita, Justin and Graham who made it more fun
  • Opus5: Dennis & Pablo, where I learned a lot of stuff I didn't wanted to know
So lets see what the next decade brings, maybe a new start and the opportunity to do completely new mistakes!

Here are some random pictures from the past ten years

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Fedora 12

Fedora now has been out for a few weeks and I can summarize my experience with it a bit.

I have installed it on four machines:
- netbook (Eee PC 901) new install with a 32bit live USB stick
- media centre (ancient custom AMD Duron) upgrade with the 32bit DVD
- home PC (AMD Phenom 9350e) upgrade with the 64bit DVD
- work PC (Dell Intel) with 64bit preupgrade

I would have preferred the preupgrade on all machines, but I am using RAID on some of the machines and preupgrade doesn't like /root being on RAID. But the upgrade went smooth in all cases, so I don't really mind.

I also changed the graphic card in my work PC to an ATI HD3450, so I can finally use the desktop effects with an open source driver.

What works out of the box

Desktop effects on the netbook, home and work PC, with either the ATI card or Intel on-board graphic chips.

Pulseaudio with USB or bluetooth headset. I use it mainly with Skype, which is the only non open source software left on my computers (I blame peer pressure).

PHP 5.3.1 and MySQL 5.1.40, which meant I have stopped using the Remi repository for now.

Automatic bug reporting for program crashes and kerneloopses. This should make the quality of future releases even better, even though bugzilla is pretty much swamped with bug reports now. But I think it is always better to have more information than less.

CPU speed scaling finally works. I had to fiddle with the BIOS settings a bit to enable Cool and Quite and some other power management settings.

What doesn't (or didn't work)

I had some problems with pulseaudio crashing after installing the ATI card, but putting a "blacklist snd-hda-codec-atihdmi" into /etc/modprobe.d/blacklist.conf fixed it. I found the fix on bugzilla.

I am still not able to play my Homeworld 2 CD with either Wine or VirtualBox, I think the drivers are still not good enough to support the OpenGL needed for the game. It also crashes after a while in VirtualBox. Radeon bugs currently hold the top spot at kerneloops, which makes a fix more likely.

If you use an Eclipse (or Azureus), which didn't come with Fedora some of the GUI buttons don't work. This is caused by a change in GTK and a workaround is to set GDK_NATIVE_WINDOWS=true before you start eclipse. This is also mentioned in bug 540956.

I bought a D-Link DWA-547 Wireless N PCI Card for the media centre in my effort to upgrade the flat to 802.11n, which I just can't get to work. It is either slow or crashes the whole machine without any way to get to the kerneloops. I probably have to find a different card to get it working. But wireless cards always have been a problem.

My Bit

I am also trying to contribute more to fedora by building packages and doing package reviews. After the Barcelona PHP Conference I decided to build RPMs for the PHP QA packages by Sebastian Bergmann and others. Turns out that most of them are already available or up for review, so I applied as co-maintainer and did a package review. Remi has a good overview of PEAR packages in Fedora.

The other big project which will probably take a few more years is the odyssey of packaging symfony, this turns out to be difficult because symfony bundles a lot of libraries and they need to be separated into their own packages. The good thing is that this will bring these libraries into Fedora (and eventually EPEL) too. So far I managed to get Doctrine in and the Swift Mailer is up for review. Symfony itself won't get into EPEL, because it requires a newer PHP, but it will work with the Remi bits.

You can find a list of my packages in the Fedora package DB and also of the ones I co-maintain. Still rather short list at the moment :-)


Probably the best Fedora upgrade and usage experience I had so far. The main problem is still the hardware, the software itself works perfectly and for my usage I don't really need anything more at the moment.

Finally a rather boring screen shot of my desktop:

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Barcelona PHP Conference Day 2 #phpbcn2009

Even shorter summary of the second day of the Barcelona PHP conference. (see here for day 1)

Zend_Cache... by Enrico Zimuel

This was a introduction to the cache component of the Zend framework. It pretty much does what you expect: it wraps the common types of caching ( file, apc, memcached, ...) into a common API to make them easy to swap and use. It also has helper objects to support caching of PHP output with output buffering.

The State of Quality Assurance Tools for PHP by Sebastian Bergmann

Mr. PHPUnit gave a short introduction to testing and the PHPUnit framework. He then introduced some of the other tools that can help you with quality metrics of your software, these were:
  • phploc - counting lines and more
  • phpcpd - finding duplicate code
  • pdepend / phpmd - static code analysis
  • phpcs - code style and static code analysis
  • bytkit-clu - more analysis
He then continued to show how you would automate running these and include them in a continuous integration tool like CruiseControl with phpUnderControl or Hudson.

It was a good talk and gave an introduction to the whole process of quality assurance for projects.


Continuous Integration by Davide Mendola

Another talk about CI, which gave a bit more insight into the tools but because of the previous talk a lot of stuff was repeated and not a lot new information introduced.

One thing was obvious though: nobody is completely happy with the current tools, because they are all Java based and don't fit 100%. There seems to be a market now for new PHP CI tools and I am sure we will see some showing up in the near future. I would also see some of these using a MVC framework instead of being developed from scratch.

And for the hecklers in the back shouting "Xinc" : no release or commit since one year ? Maybe someone should pick that up again. :-)

Symfony 2.0 a sneak peak by Fabien Potencier

Fabien gave a very fast run through some of the new components and designs for Symfony 2.0. A lot of things will change and it will be difficult to port older projects, especially if you have business logic outside your models.

He spent a lot of time explaining the dependency container component and how and why it will be used in Symfony 2.0. I am a bit afraid that this will make things more complicated and difficult to debug or work with in an IDE. I usually don't like to see logic into configuration files, but now I at least understand why he is doing it and what advantages it will have in Symfony 2.0. I just hope I won't see these in every object and sometimes just simple injection is used.

I am looking forward to Symfony 2.0 though, I just got one suggestion to reduce Fabiens work a bit: throw away the Lime testing framework and use PHPUnit. Lime will never match the PHPUnit features and everything you need which isn't provided by PHPUnit yet is probably easy to integrate.

Open Classifieds by Chema Garrido

This was a refreshing different talk by the lone developer of Open Classifieds, which is an open-source classified web application. He developed it from scratch without using any framework (Rasmus would love this), it is very much in the spirit of the KISS talks of this weekend.

If I find time I will certainly have a look at it. And before the security concious object orientated dependency injecting agile caching crowd complains: give the guy a hand with a bit of code review if you find the time.

Open Classifieds Website

Friday, October 30, 2009

Barcelona PHP Conference Day 1 #phpbcn2009

First day of is finished and it was very enjoyable. The location was the same as last year, so was the quality of the organization. I saw six talks, here are small summaries:

KISS by Derick Rethans:

Pretty much a beginners, introduction and common sense talk. Most of it not even directly relevant to PHP. A bit of a disappointment, might have been more interesting for customers than developers.

No slides up yet, but they were very similar to these: Kiss Phpnw08

Trees in the database by Lorenzo Alberton:

A very interesting talk about ways to store trees in a database, which is something everyone has to deal with at some point. He started with the simple "parent-child" method and showed some of the problems with it. Then went through some better versions like the "nested set model", which is for example used in Doctrine. He finished with the "nested interval model", where I think I saw some smoke coming out of some heads around me (and probably mine).

Finally he showed how trees are supported directly in some of the databases and the SQL99 standard.

It would be nice if the "nested interval method" would end up in Doctrine too. And maybe support for the database extensions too, though at the moment I just care for mysql and here is a link with some information how to do the stuff there.

The slides are here: Trees in The Database

Talk by Rasmus Lerdorf

Rasmus did a two part talk. The first part was about performance and ranged from suggestions to replace lots of expensive library calls with simple echos to introductions into strace, valgrind and xdebug. He likes to complain about frameworks and abstraction, for which he got some angry looks out of the framework corners.

Second part was about security, where he showed some problems through examples in live sites. Because someone twittered about it before he wasn't able to show the ".svn" files on elpais, but he managed to show an interesting XSS exploit on another newspaper page. Then he went on about the "filter" extension, which I don't like much because I see it as just another Swiss army knife function for something which should belong into PEAR libraries or frameworks. One good thing about it is that you can switch it on globally so that you can block most attacks automatically and skip it for special cases, this reminds me a bit of magic quotes though and how much I hate those.

It was very interesting and he is a very charismatic talker, which helps obviously. The questions after the talk came mostly from the framework guys who pointed out that the security part is easier to fix with one of those, because you have centralized points where you can put your security hooks.

And the PHP filter extension is a bit like a "security framework" only that most PHP programmers won't be able to see or change the source.

Most of the people in the audience have different problems to solve than Rasmus, because we need to build websites quick and we don't have the amount of hits that Yahoo gets. But he gave some good pointers and I certainly get my Xdebug profiler out more often.

Ajax for scalability by Erik Schultink

Erik works for Tuenti, which is a facebook clone for the Spanish market. They have millions of hits and more or less the same scalability problems as the original. They use ajax to build the complete page and basically just retrieve json from their servers. He described everything they do to increase their performance, from the server farm set-up, CDN usage and monitoring to the distribution of the image sizes on the website.

This was a very good talk and I wish I had their problems or they would have an office with an opening in Barcelona :-) These are your guys if you want to work for facebook, but live in Madrid.

I wish I had a link to slides, but I don't

Integrating Zend Framework and Symfony by Stefan Koopmanschap

Stefan is the community manager for Symfony and gave some examples of integrating Zend components in Symfony and Symfony components into the Zend framework. He gave some small examples of both ways and introduction to some of the nice components of both worlds.

I definitely have to look more into the Zend framework and see if I can pick some nice things up. The twitter component would have made my life a lot easier while developing krass sets

And there are slides up for the talk.

PHundamental Security by Hans ZaunereDamien Seguy

As the title said: basic security stuff about the typical injection. The slides were a bit confusing at times. Good stuff I picked up: some more evil PHP functions to circumvent register_globals=off, using the tokeniser to find problematic code and using statistic analysis to find problems.

He also mentioned some black-box tools to help find problems in websites, but I forgot them and I can't find slides either.

Tomorrow is day 2, which looks promising again with talks by Herrn PHPUnit and Monsieur Symfony and some other goodies.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

New hobby: OpenStreetMapping

I always loved the idea behind OpenStreetMap. Mostly because of my open source experience and sites Wikipedia, these show that with enough people doing a little bit of work in the area they know, it is possible to create results which are better and more free than the conventional commercial offerings.

I remember the time in London, when we had our little start-up and needed location maps for our customers and couldn't find a good provider for this (there was no google maps or map24 at that time). So fools that we were we decided to write it ourself. We got the raw data on CD from TeleAtlas and one of our programmers got pretty far with a renderer. But before we could get anything useful map24 produced a much better version which we started using. But I always have been frustrated by the lack of open map data and open source renderers.

With OpenStreetMap this is now all in the past, the maps are up to the quality of the commercial services in many areas now and the renderers are very good too. In fact the maps are so good that I haven't really had a chance to contribute myself.

But now with my frequent trips to Tibidabo with the mountain bike and my GPS phone I noticed that the OSM maps for that area are full of white spots and are missing most of the hiking and mountain bike routes through the forest, but also some of the tertiary roads.

So I exported some of the tracks I had so far and uploaded them to OSM, this gives everyone working on OSM the chance to use these to create roads on the map. To do this I downloaded merkaartor, which makes it very easy to create roads and places and tag them correctly. There is a Fedora package available, so it was a very easy install. You can also use this to create maps even if you don't have a GPS yourself, just by using the yahoo satellite images or tracks other people made public.

Yesterday I did my first ride especially for OSM to trace some roads and tracks which I haven't travelled with the GPS yet. It took me three hours to ride 30km, which was a lot of fun.

One thing I found difficult is choosing the right tags for the roads and tracks. But it looks good at the moment and if it turns out to be incorrect it is always possible to change later.

Here is an image of the area I am currently working on it is the whole Park de Collserola, around the Tibidabo. I have traced most of the small dotted lines in the current target area and some of the residential and tertiary roads. You can also see the same map on

Turns out this is probably one of the perfect hobbies for me at the moment, as it combines open stuff, mountain biking and gadgets. Now I somehow have to get some programming in there too.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Another look at my New Year resolutions. I decided to do them every four months now, every three was a bit much.

loose weight
fail - I am doing more mountain biking and eat sensible, but I gave up on the gym. Working out with my N79 Active turned out to be a lot of fun.

use my motorcycle more
a little bit more use, small trips and some usage in town. Now I need to get a new ITV.

sort out my music collection
all done. Tapes and CDs are digitized and I got rid of most of the duplicates. Music from podcasts is still a mess, but that can wait for another day.

travel somewhere new
Success - We went to Cadiz for the summer holiday and also checked out Tarifa, Tangier and Gibraltar. I would like to do another weekend trip somewhere, either with the bike or a weekend plane trip.

do more programming
not much happening at work. I started the twitter / tractor top10 website, which was fun. I also took over some packages for Fedora and have two more on review. I also did some programming for the digitization of the tapes and little things on older projects. I would count that as a success.

take more advantage of Barcelona
Saw some arty film stuff, went to the beach more and took full advantage of Tibidabo. Also two trips to the cinema so far: Watchmen and District 9, which are both great. This week is Merce and soon the Air Show and the Red Bull Air Race.

blog more
a little bit better. I think once every two weeks is probably my rhythm :-)

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Summer Holiday Cádiz

Last week Cat and I went to Cádiz for our Summer holiday.

It was just a week this year and we didn't really decide what to do this year until the last minute. It was either a motorcycle tour around Catalonia, France or a short flight to somewhere in Europe.

Because Cat likes the Atlantic and we had never been to the very South of Spain we decided to take the Trenhotel night train from Barcelona to Cádiz and rent a car there for a few days. We booked train and car and I also bought a backpack and some trekking shoes for the trip.

Because the booking was done in the last minute we didn't get a sleeper cabin, but the sleeper chairs are OK too. The train goes from Sants station to the centre of Cádiz. The first night we staid at the wonderful Hotel Argantonio , but because we didn't book we just had the room for one night. We had a look around the town and the next day headed south.

A lot of the coast of Southern Spain is filled with horrible new holiday homes and you won't find nice villages, but the beaches and the surroundings are rather beautiful. We stayed at camping sites, which were all nice and usually had access to the beach.

We as far as Tarifa and after a bit of sightseeing got the idea of taking a ferry to Tangier .

As it turned out you need a passport for this unless you go on a packaged tour, then an id card is sufficient. The tour was packed full of "shopping opportunities", like spices, gifts and carpets and other stuff we didn't really want. But because we didn't have a choice and Tangier is a nice place it was worth the trip. I would have liked some time to explore the city myself, but you would need more than one day anyway. One word of advice: if you enjoy the western tradition of toilet paper, you better bring your own.

The last day we did a quick trip to Gibraltar and then back north to a camping ground not far from Cádiz to make it easy to drop of the car and spend some more time on the beach and in the town.

Overall a very nice holiday, with a bit of everything and also a bit exhausting. I would do it all again, but maybe book the hotel earlier and go with the motorbike.

You can see more picture in my facebook album.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Nokia N79 Active

Recently I started using twitter, facebook and blogs more and I got a little bit annoyed that I couldn't update those sites with my mobile phone. And then my digital camera died on me, which resulted in no new photos by me in the last couple of months. The final point which made me want to get a new fancy phone was me getting lost on Tibidabo without a GPS.

My old phone is a Ericsson t39m, which is one of the best mobile phones ever made. It was one of the first phones with bluetooth and does stuff like email, WAP & T9. It also supports lots of accessories, like different sized batteries, different antennas, docks and travel chargers. It also pretty small and has a nice monochrome screen.

But there comes a point where you need a new toy and after looking at all kind of phones I finally came up with a list of requirements:
  • 3.5 mm headphone jack
  • digital camera > 3M
  • GPS
  • small and light
  • not too expensive, because it might get stolen here in Barcelona
  • normal phone keys, no touch phone
  • some way to program for it
  • WLAN
  • bluetooth
  • USB storage support for photos and music
This ruled out pretty much most of the phones including the iPhone, which was out of the question anyway, because my recent experience with iPods and Linux.

At one point I discovered the Nokia N79 Active, which was announced beginning of the year. It also has one nice additional feature which is was the real selling point for me: it comes with a Polar heart-rate belt.

Buying one turned out to be a bit more difficult then I hoped. First it was just released in Finland, Sweden and South Africa, and not available on-line. It was announced in Germany, but the date got pushed back every month until they finally took it off their website. Then it got released in the UK and was available on the Nokia on-line shop, but they obviously don't deliver to Spain. Finally a friend of mine in the UK ordered it for me and forwarded it to Barcelona.

Now I have it since a little bit over a month and are fairly happy with it. I use it every day as my phone, for photos, web browsing and twittering.

Together with the Nokia Sportstracker website and software it is also brilliant to track your sports activity, which is in my case mainly cycling and mountain biking. Here is the information about my last long ride on Tibidabo: 4h on Tibidabo

Here are some other things I like about it:
  • pretty light and small for a smart phone
  • some good software available, like GPS tracking (AFTrack), twittering (Gravity), Putty
  • there is a Python version for it
  • some nice google stuff, like Maps, Latitude, Youtube, ...
  • good Nokia mapping software
  • the podcasting client is nice and you can add your own OPML files as directories
  • contacts & calendar can sync with google
  • camera is good enough
And some stuff that is rubbish
  • the software and menus are structured very strange, you can reorder them but some stuff just makes no sense at all. The worst bits are all the different settings and preferences. Others think so too
  • there is a "Media" button & menu, which doesn't make any sense
  • the whole Sportstracker thing seems to have a unsure future
  • the WLAN and 3G selection should just do the right thing, like the iPhone does
  • some non-Nokia software has a completely different UI, the google apps and opera for example
  • OVI (Nokia online services and app store) is a mess
  • it crashes sometimes, even doing simple stuff
  • out of the box it comes with three different types of maps (google, OVI, Sportstracker)
  • annoying start-up screen & sound and horrible ring tones
Overall I am happy though, because I had rather low expectations as most mobile phones I had in my hand in the last couple of years were pretty rubbish. Except of the iPhone, which had the first good user interface for phones since the rotary dial, but it just was not right for me.

Friday, July 31, 2009


Simple gravlax recipe:
  • two pieces of salmon with skin on
  • dill (handful)
  • sea salt (two tablespoon)
  • crushed pepper corns (two tablespoon)
  • sugar (one tablespoon)
cut dill, mix with salt and pepper. Put one piece of salmon skin down on large bit of cling-film. cover with the mix, put other salmon on top. wrap everything tight in cling-film. Off into the fridge and put something on top to weight it down.

Now the difficult bit: you have to wait at least one, better two days and turn it every once in a while.

Nice and easy snack for the summer.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

The Big Digitization Of Cassette Tapes

Today I finally finished digitizing all of my techno and house cassette tapes. It took me a little bit over two months. Here are some statistics:
  • 290 "a" sides
  • 278 "b" sides (sometimes the tapes broke after the first side)
  • 12 tapes which unusable
  • 41 tapes which turned out to be copies of CDs which are available to buy
  • 5 tapes were copies of stuff I have also on CDs which are not available to buy
  • 8 tapes had unreadable labels
  • 249 GB in 16 bit 48khz WAVE files
  • the whole list
I probably still have some tapes flying around somewhere and my girlfriend also has some, but the vast majority of my music is digitized now. The music is mainly mixed techno and house DJ sets, from my friends like DJ Gomez, Motik and Nitin. A lot of sets are recorded from radio like HR3/HRXXL and Hithouse Stuttgart and in clubs around Stuttgart and Cologne. The most popular DJs are Sven Vaeth, Roland Casper, Richie Hawtin, DJ Hello, Dag, and Laurent Garnier.

I used my little python tapetransfer script, which I wrote for this purpose. It basically waits until there is music and then records until there is a longer break, which is perfect for DJ mixes and rubbish for normal music CDs. I recorded everything with the same level, which means that some tapes are really quite now, but the alternative would have been to play every tape twice. If it turns out that some tapes are too quite I will record them again in 32bit and normalize. I probably write another script to find out the level of each wav file.

In the end it didn't take me as long as I expected, I usually managed to do one tape before work and maybe three in the evening and a bit more on the weekend.

All that is left now is converting them to flac and mp3. The files have to be tagged and named more consistent. Another idea is to also scan pictures of all the tapes and add this to the music files.

And listening to all of them again, but I already found some real gems.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Quick weekend hack: statistics on Richie Hawtins DJ set tweets

Richie Hawtin recently started to post the records he is playing on twitter. He is using Traktor while he plays, which now has a new plugin which allows this functionality. Others have posted about this and what it means for techno music enthusiasts, DJs and the music industry.

I think it is one of the few good applications of twitter and I decided to hack something together to display this information in a little bit nicer way.

I created a site at which gets the tweets from twitter and generates a list of DJ sets and a top10. As Hawtin is the only DJ I know who uses this application the overall top10 is not much use, but it shows the potential.

This is my first project using symfony and I was surprised how good it worked for this task and how easy it is to get started.

If you have problems accessing the site, come back a bit later, there seems to be a problem with one of my secondary DNS servers.

Some thing I have planned for the future:
  • add links from the tracks to, discogs and co. It is a bit difficult, because artist names are not always present or correct
  • add more DJs, if you know of someone also using this kind of tweets give me a shout
  • make the combining of tracks into sets better (at the moment I just use the day) and allow more sensible names for these
  • pages with tracks listed by artists and links to the artist pages
That is enough for today though, because it is bloody hot here in Barcelona.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Spaghetti with clams and aioli

New recipe for me, inspired by something I saw Rick Stein doing in some cookery show.

Put clams in a hot pan, add a cup of white wine. Cover and cook until they opened. Drain with a colander, but keep the liquid. Discard the clams which did not open.

Put some spaghetti or tagliatelle into a pot with boiling water and cook according to package instructions.

Meanwhile put one sliced onion and some sliced garlic into a pan with olive oil and fry them until soft. I added some small and medium peeled prawns and some leftover cod pieces. Then add the clams with shells and the white wine liquid you kept. Finally add some aioli. Season with salt pepper and herbs.

Reduce this a little bit. Add the pasta straight from the other pan and stir until it is covered.

The result should be creamy with not too much liquid.

Ingredients (for two really hungry people).
  • 200g pasta
  • clams (four handful)
  • 1 cup of dry white whine
  • 1 onion (sliced)
  • 4 cloves of garlic (sliced)
  • two table spoons of aioli
  • some prawns or other white sea food
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper
  • herbs

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Quarterly resolutions review

Ok, lets see how I am doing on my New Year resolutions:

loose weight
not much to see there. I think it is mainly because I am not going to the gym enough and haven't started mountain biking yet because of various illnesses. But I am teetotal now, so that should make a difference in the future.

use my motorcycle more
that is a no. I blame it on the weather.

sort out my music collection
ripping CDs is done and I have deleted all mp3s from questionable sources. I also removed all duplicates, which was quite a bit of work. I still have to digitize my tapes, but I wrote the software for it and have bought a new tape deck for the task.

travel somewhere new
we have planned some kind of summer holiday, but we don't know where yet. Cat prefers the Atlantic either France of Spain, but I would love to see some the south of France and some of the island in the Mediterranean. As I want to go with the motorcycle, this are pretty much the areas we can travel if we have one week of holiday.

do more programming
I did a bit of work on my small open source projects. I also have three packages in Fedora now. At work I started to help, which is a rather busy health portal for the German market. This is fun, because it is just programming without a CMS or lots of HTML to get into my way.

take more advantage of Barcelona

blog more
better than last year, but still not good. I also started to use twitter more, which is nice.

According to wikipedia I am doing not too bad, but there are still nine months to go...

Friday, March 06, 2009

Radio & Talk Podcasts

This is the second list of podcasts. These are all the talk, radio and video podcasts I listen too. At the moment I have a bit of a problem of lacking behind. This is a sign of me skipping the gym to often.

It is a mix of news, technology, documentary and comedy. Most of the podcasts are from the BBC

Monday, February 23, 2009


I returned yesterday from a four day trip to Amsterdam. As I met my Cat there we tend to go every February and celebrate our anniversary.

The last years we stayed at the Winston Hostel in the red light district, but last years experience was so bad that we looked for something new this time.

We found the Sunhead 1617, which is a nice small B&B in the centre of town. I tried to book the red room, which has views of the canal, but because of some confusion we ended up in the yellow room. I suggest you book early and get the red room, because our room contained some kind of boiler which was extremely annoying. And bring backpacks instead of a suitcase, because the stairs really are steep. Otherwise the B&B was perfect, the rooms was nicely decorated, the bed comfy, the breakfast was very good with home made jams and fruit yogurt. Our host Carlos was also very nice, even though we annoyed him on the first day by getting up at eleven for a very late breakfast.

Amsterdam tends to be a bit wet and cold at this time of the year and this was no exception. But it gave me a good excuse to spend most of the time shopping, in coffees and restaurants. The shops seemed even better than the last time, but maybe that was because of the area around the Sunhead. Here are some of the restaurants we checked out:

wagamama: I can't keep Cat away from wagamama and the chicken chilli ramen were perfect as usual. But the raw juice seemed a bit on the orange juice side and the raw salad was a disappointment. I really have to learn how to make the salad from their cookbook and maybe they should have to look into that one too. The service wasn't very good either, but it was very crowded.

Top Thai: This one was recommended by Carlos and it excellent. The food was near perfect and the restaurant is also pretty small and cosy. There are obviously a lot of asian restaurants in Amsterdam, but I think this one belongs to the top.

Some pancake restaurant in the center: I can't remember the name now, but it wasn't any good anyway, neither the service or the food. If you like pancakes I would recommend the Pancake Bakery, which is much nicer.

De Struisvogel: A tiny romantic restaurant which serves a three course set dinner which includes a very good ostrich steak. I had a homemade poultry pate with bruchetta and then a flemish stew, both very tasty. The stew was a bit on the salty side, but maybe that is just me.

None of the restaurants allowed smoking, which was a nice change from Barcelona, where the smoking ban is not enforced enough. I personally can't understand why anyone would allow smokers in their restaurants and just hope this will be sorted out in Barcelona soon too.

I think next time we should go in the summer, so we can see a bit more of the city and the parks. And I also want to check out some of the museums if they every finish the renovation of the main ones.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

eZ winter conference

Today I went to the eZ International Winter Conference here in Barcelona. Mainly because it was local, free and I quite liked the last PHP conference I went to. The location was the old centre of commerce near the Estacion Francia. It is a beautiful location and I am glad I was able to see it from the inside once. The conference room was certainly fit for the G7 or signing of peace treaties. (I will try to find some pictures on flickr later).

I first have to say that I have not used eZ publish or the eZ components, but I have heard of both and was especially interested in the components.

At the company where I work we are currently looking for a new content management system. We are using typo3 for most of our projects and some are done in cakephp for the ease of development. Ideally we would like something which provides an easier way to develop, a CMS which can be used by our customers but has still enough features to be flexible.

The talk about the eZ components was very good and I like the bottom up approach to the MVC support. The talk was by Derick Rethans, who also did the xdebug talk at the php conference last year. There was also a good talk about the eZ Find extension, which allows full text search implemented with Solr.

The last talk focused on the future direction of eZ publish, especially version 5.0. This version will be a refactoring of version 4.x and they want to move to a more micro kernel with extensions approach instead of the monolithic one they have at the moment. This version should also use more of the eZ components and the MVC features. The 4.x branch will be maintained in parallel until version 5 is established.

To anyone who follows the typo3 development, this might sound familiar. typo3 also has a version 5 in the works, which is a complete rewrite (not refactored), uses a MVC framework, will be developed in parallel to the 4.x branch and nobody knows when it will be finished.

The difference is the development model. While typo3 is developed in the open by individuals from multiple companies or private individuals, eZ is produced in house by a business with a clear focus to make money. From what I have seen so far I like the eZ product more, because it is developed with a clear use case in mind and with the knowledge that you have to stay with your feet on the ground. typo3 tries to use every design pattern and development method on the planet, it seems to be more like a way for the developers to show their knowledge instead of thinking of the end user or developer.

Both CMS frameworks also make the mistake of reinventing the wheel. PHP already provides nice libraries for database abstraction, template systems and other things which are implemented again by both frameworks. eZ seems a bit better in this regard by just providing wrappers for existing libraries.

I will have a closer look at the eZ components and will suggest evaluating eZ publish in our company. So overall a success for eZ I would say.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Snowboarding Laax

Yesterday Cat and I returned from our week long snowboard trip to Laax.

First we flew to Stuttgart and visited Marion and Bernd in Balingen, where we met up with the other guys who took us by car and van to Laax. The weather on the way looked a bit disappointing, with not much snow until the last corner to Laax.

We were staying at the same hostel as last time, it is the Mountain Hostel Laax. It is situated in the middle of the ski area at the first stop of the cable car. The accommodation and food is basic, but you don't really need much more anyway. This time we had a two bed room, which was a lot nicer than the sharing with four people of last year. The room could have done with more changes of towels or linnen though.

But the main disappointment of the holiday was also related to the Hostel, because there was a very relaxed attitude to property rights. During our stay my iPod Classic 160GB and a Sony digital camera got stolen out of our rooms and a pair of new snowboard boots from the hallway. For the iPod and camera I suspect the cleaners, because they vanished on the day brought new towels and the rooms were locked all the time. The boots got stolen during the night, so it must have been one of the employees or hostel guests, as nobody else can come or go at night time.

But now to the good bits. The weather turned out to be brilliant, the first few days we had non stop snowfall. This meant the visibility was not that good, but the snow was perfect and I discovered how much more I love deep snow and freeriding compared to prepared slopes. During the week there also no queues at the lifts which are perfect conditions for stressless fun. At one day there was also a lot of fog, which reduced the visibility to about 10 meters, but even that was fun.

I used the week to work on my snowboarding and I am a lot quicker now. I also learned turning 360 degrees while riding, riding backwards and 180 while riding slow. Cat also found a little kicker to do small jumps just off the slope. Cat is still quicker than me, but I can always blame the age difference. And I didn't break anything this time - brilliant!

I would love to go boarding again this year, but I am to broke to afford another week. And now I also need to replace the iPod and my own broken Sony camera.

Cat and Rafael have put some pictures on facebook, so check there.

I also managed to read some books while on holiday:
  • Unzipped by Courney Weaver - which was not very good, a bit like Sex in the City with more sex and less shoes. I read the German version, which probably made it even worse.
  • Head First Design Patterns - an illustrated introduction to design patterns, which I borrowed from work. The concept of the book is a bit strange, with lots of pictures and comic style text balloons. But it explains the same patterns as the Gang of Four book and with good Java examples. I certainly learned some stuff.
  • The Voyage of the Beagle by Charles Darwin- I am not finished with this one, but Darwin was proper adventurer and explorer. It is amazing how much things he saw and how he was able to explain the smallest details of all the plants, animals and humans he saw on his travel.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Weired conversations

Strange conversation on yahoo messenger. I used Eliza for the replies, but the guy gave up too quickly.

(1:58:24 PM) hidden: I'm really sorry that I said those things, honey, but I just lost control of myself. You know as well as I do that I have struggled with anger since my childhood, when my mom died and my dad started to abuse me. I just want you to know that I'm sorry, and that you should take me back. And if your answer is no, then you're a giant bitch.
(2:01:23 PM) cdamian: Do you wish that my answer is no then your're a giant bitch?
(2:01:50 PM) hidden: porn
(2:02:06 PM) cdamian: Please go on.
(2:02:34 PM) hidden: no
(2:02:47 PM) cdamian: You are being a bit negative.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

New Year's resolutions (Part 2)

I forgot one:

Take more advantage of Barcelona
I did not spend enough time in the Zoo and the Park or the Beach this year. And I did not use the Chiringuitos, museums or open air cinema. There is a lot of stuff to do and I don't want it to be like London where I did everything in the last two months.

Friday, January 02, 2009

New Year's resolutions

One of the traditions of celebrating the New Year (besides getting drunk and making a fool of yourself) are of course the resolutions for the next twelve months. So here are mine:

loose weight
as a rule this always have to come first and I don't want to be the one breaking it. As I think I am eating healthy enough and I am probably not going to be able to change much of it this has to be achieved with more exercise, so more cycling and the gym. I will also reduce the amount of alcohol I consume.

use my motorcycle more
I haven't used it at all in 2008, which is a pity. Every time I do use it I get a smile on my face. It also means that it will be better maintained and keep the traffic wardens happy, which towed Cats scooter because it was not moved for eight days. It doesn't make much sense to use it in Barcelona though, so I will have to do some weekend trips.

sort out my music collection
I already started deleting all my mp3s where I don't know the origin and started ripping all my CDs again. Next step will be the organising the mp3s I got through podcasts or from mix bootlegs. And the last will be digitizing my audio tapes, which will probably take the rest of the year.

travel somewhere new
Two trips are already planned to Laax and Amsterdam, but these are old favourites and I want to see some new places. Maybe a motorcycle trip to the south of France or Italy or a city break to somewhere else in Europe.

do more programming
As with the motorcycle this always brings a smile to my face and I just don't do it enough. I have started some small projects at home now and I am trying to get more in Fedora, though my first simple package submission is going extremely slow. I also have to spend more time on Python to learn faster.

I think five resolutions are probably enough, maybe one last one: I should use this blog more often.