Monthly Archives: September 2003

Tuesday, 23 September 2003

No Such Agency

agencyToday was probably the last beautiful day of this year (with temperatures around 28°C today and a predicted temperature drop of about 10°C plus beginning of autumn tomorrow). So we decided to give our kite some air time since the typical autumn winds have already arrived. We had heard of a great kite flying spot on “Teufelsberg” (literally “Devil’s Mountain”), a hill piled up from the rubble left behind by the WWII Allied bombing of Berlin. For a pile of rubble it’s fucking huge. Of course today you don’t see much of the rubble anymore, it’s mostly covered by trees.

We didn’t really know where that kite flying area was so we picked some random parking lot at the foot of the hill and started to hike up the hill. We didn’t see anything but trees for a while and when we arrived at the top there was this military looking compound right ahead of us, complete with a double row of barbwired fence. It looked like some kind of relic of the Cold War (click pic to see bigger version). Unfortunately the fence prevented us from going inside and exploring the the whole thing but even hiking along the perimeter made me feel like I was in some kind of Cold War first-person shooter.

Michi with kiteWhen we got back home we did some research and it turns out it was indeed a listening post called “Field Station Berlin” maintained by the NSA and a bunch of other agencies until 1990. The “Field Station Berlin Veterans Group” has some nice areal shots of the whole compound from back when it was still in use. Nowadays some real estate company is apparently remodeling the whole thing to accomodate loft-style apartments. Not many people can say they live in an NSA listening post…

Later we did find the kite flying area and it was pretty cool. We had some nice strong winds for a while. Later we sat in the sun watching people fly their remote controlled gliders in the updraft along the side of the hill. A perfect day.

[Archive Link]  Posted by Edda at 00:41 CET  |  [Comments Link]  1 comments

Tuesday, 16 September 2003

A Gamer's Panacea?

Last week I read about the release of Steam. It’s supposed to be a service for direct software delivery and content management. In short it allows you to buy and download games online, it has some kind of inbuilt Gamespy-like network, it handles patches and upgrades. Especially for us poor Germans longing for uncensored and undubbed gaming experience it seems like a dream come true. Downloading games the instant they are released without waiting months for a fishy translation? Yes. Halflife 2? Oh yeah, baby… Not to mention that the most interesting games aren’t released in Germany and you have to directly order them from Japan or Canada.

If you believe the marketing drivel it’s even better than pirated games. You can download games in minutes, play them on every PC and don’t have to worry about patches, cheaters and whatnot.

I was just about to wipe the slobber from my keyboard when the first doubts slowly appeared in the back of my head. Looking at the Status page I got greeted by a bunch of Server Down messages. Hmm… I guess that page will be all red on October 30th when Halflife 2 gets released. Download games in minutes? You bet.

Today I stumbled over posts on kuro5hin and Penny Arcade. I knew there had to be a catch somewhere. It’s the built-in DRM system. They accidentally forgot to mention that on the feature list. At the moment you have to be online to start a game downloaded with Steam. You can’t play on a LAN party without internet connection. Patches and Upgrades are forced down your throat and if their servers are down you just can’t play. Oh, well. I guess they never learn that DRM systems that work against the users will never work. Goodbye Steam, it was nice meeting you. Maybe some other time…

[Archive Link]  Posted by Michi at 17:32 CET  |  [Comments Link]  1 comments

Sunday, 14 September 2003

Racin'

On Friday we drove down to Koblenz to see my family. On the drive we had to experience again the unbelievably bully attitude some people show on the autobahn. Especially Mercedes, BMW and Audi drivers are good at bullying. Not only is it very bothering but also extremely dangerous when they close on a slower car at over 200kph and then stick to the other car’s rear bumper at a distance of only like one or two meters. If the car in front has to brake for some reason there’s no way the bully can avoid hitting him.

There was a horrible accident a couple of months ago when a young woman lost control over her car when she tried to give way to a bully Mercedes and hit a tree at the side of the autobahn killing herself and her baby daughter. Michi and I talked about this and came to the conclusion that the penalty for speeding and especially bullying should be a lot more severe. Fines don’t hurt these people much, but taking away their driver’s license for a time would… The real problem though is that there aren’t enough cops to patrol the autobahn.

I even got bullied by an RV at 130kph. RVs aren’t even allowed to drive more than 100kph. Sucker.

[Archive Link]  Posted by Edda at 15:49 CET  |  [Comments Link]  0 comments

Thursday, 11 September 2003

Idling

Hey everybody, this is Michi. I probably should think of something special for my first post but my brain is currently stuck in idle mode. Esther and I were supposed to have a job interview with SAP today. We spent the last day preparing and thinking about all those (stupid) standard interview questions. I found out that this is my second favortite activity, just behind writing applications ;) So today we got up extra *cough* early just to find out that our interviews had to be postponed until next week. Ah well...

[Age of Wonders 2]We spent our unexpected free time with playing some PC games. I once again tried to save the world in Age of Wonders 2 - Shadow Magic. If you like games like Heroes of Might and Magic or Masters of Magic you should check this one out. It might seem that it's just a full price addon to Age of Wonders 2 but behind the curtains quite a few things changed. There are a truckload of new races, units, buildings, spells and improvements to almost every aspect of the game. I'm especially delighted that Triumph had the guts to revert the magic system back to the original Age of Wonders system. Instead of being stuck with a predefined school of magic as in AoW2 you can again come up with any combination of the six magic schools. Yeah, way to go.

My only complaint is that the game isn't completly stable on my system. After running for some time it becomes quite sluggish and I get more and more graphical glitches. It seems to be a problem with my graphics card (Geforce 2). Strange enough other people with a similar setup don't have that problem. The developers blame that on Nvidia's drivers. Okay... How many people run Nvidia cards? 80 percent?

[Archive Link]  Posted by Michi at 22:58 CET  |  [Comments Link]  1 comments

Tuesday, 9 September 2003

New Site Design

Since we didn’t have anything better to do Mikey and I redesigned my site. We tried to be subtle about it so the change is not too radical. I really like the new design. It looks, hm, happier than the old one. So what’s new?

  • The color scheme is slightly different, but we stuck to grey/blue/orange.
  • I pixeled a few icons which are now used for certain elements of the site. The fish icon is for the people who complained that there’s neither dog nor fish on here.
  • Mikey is now a guest author. So expect posts from him soon. To better distinguish between our posts I pixeled avatar icons for each of us that show up next to the entry title.
  • There is now finally an RSS feed available.
  • Other stuff that mostly makes the site easier to administrate.

Only webdesigners will probably appreciate the following:

  • The design is now table-less and validates XHTML 1.0 Strict (something that is not easily achieved when building parts of your site dynamically since you have not much control over what happens to your content during the building process).
  • Links are now real permalinks and don’t reveal the technology used to make the page they are linking to (this allows for method changes like using php instead of plain html without changing the URL). The old links are now redirected to the new links, so as to not destroy existing links to subpages of adognamedfish.

You may have experienced strange things in the past few days. This was due to problems we ran into when we tried to rebuild the whole site. Our hoster uses a cgi-wrapper which limits the cpu time, RAM and child processes a cgi-script is allowed to use. When trying to rebuild the whole site we ran into those limitations. I got so bad that we couldn’t even rebuild a single entry. That also meant that it was not possible to post new entries. Also comments would be saved but did not show up on the site.

Mikey wrote an email to the hoster and their reaction was very nice. They loosened the restrictions a bit for us and now we still have some minor problems but rebuilding works again. Let’s hope this will do for a while.

Okay, so I hope everybody likes the new design. We’re certainly happy with it.

[Archive Link]  Posted by Edda at 20:32 CET  |  [Comments Link]  3 comments

Thursday, 4 September 2003

Pirates are the new Monkeys

Pirates of the Caribbean has finally been released in Germany on Tuesday (Tuesday? Why Tuesday?). Of course we went to see it on the first day. I liked it a lot. It is funny, action-packed and just very enjoyable to watch. And Johnny Depp is unbelievably great. And Orlando Bloom... *sigh*.

*clears throat* Anyway. It was cool to recognize a couple of scenes from the Pirates of the Caribbean ride in Disneyland. I _liked_ the shifting between skeleton and meat-pirate when the cursed ones moves from light to shadow and vice versa. That was very neat. Even though the skeletons themselves weren't all that great. Especially the movement looked wooden. Reminded me of Army of Darkness.

I'll go watch it again next week or so. I found my Pirate slang to be a bit rusty and didn't understand everything that was said. I might have to play Secret of Monkey Island or Pirates! again. In fact I would very much like to play a pirate game right now. Good thing Sid Meier is currently developing a new Pirates!

[Archive Link]  Posted by Edda at 16:56 CET  |  [Comments Link]  4 comments

Tuesday, 2 September 2003

Movies Galore

Last month life has treated us well moviewise. Like every August we enjoyed the Fantasy Filmfest. This time we saw six movies. We would have done more if the tickets weren’t so fucking expensive. But in the end seeing a film every day for a week turned out to be quite exhausting so I guess it was good this way.

This year like last year the festival focussed on Asian (mostly Japanese and Korean) films. This is great since it’s so hard to get to see Asian movies in theaters here.

Read More »

[Archive Link]  Posted by Edda at 02:09 CET  |  [Comments Link]  2 comments

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