Frank's Blog


During the last weeks I was very upset on getting myself one of these shiny all-new Alu-iMacs. When I was actually seeing them at the Gravis store in Berlin, however, I was a bit disappointed. That's for two major reasons. First, the back of the new iMac is made of cheap looking plastic colored in Dell-black(tm). This is a strong contrast to the otherwise very nice aluminum frame. You might ask, why care? I wouldn't if the back of my computer screen would face the wall. Second---and way worser---is the glossy screen. While the glossy screen is already annoying in the 13" Mac Books, at 20" or even 24" inch, there's no way of getting rid of all these reflections. Gravis furthermore made the mistake to place a new 24" iMac beside an old one. While the contrasts might be a little higher on the new one, the older was seemingly more eye-friendly.

Being a bit frustrated about the new iMacs, I decided to keep my old G4 Mac mini for a while longer. Since I always looked for iLife'06 at Ebay, I decided to get an iLife'08 for my G4 Macs. I was well aware of the fact that the new iMovie'08 might not run on my computers. On my 12" PowerBook, however, this was no problem. Besides the fact that the iLife installer checks if either an Intel CPU or a 64bit CPU is installed, no problem occurred so far (I got rid of the installer check by changing the corresponding script's function hasSufficientHardwareForiMovie() to always return true). Performance for small projects is quite acceptable. Like most other people, I do miss a lot of features contained in previous versions of iMovie'08. Since iMovie'06 is a free download for '08 users, the better (but older) version also runs on my Mac mini G4. Unfortunately, iMovie'08 requires a core graphics compatible video card. Hence, my Mac mini is out of the game for iMovie'08.

The most useful product of iLife (from my point of view) is the new iPhoto '08, version 7. While the new event display is a nice addon, iPhoto'08 really shines with its enhanced editing capabilities, that are in most cases non-destructive. That means, all changes are updated from the original picture. You can change the contrast or levels of your pictures and commit the changes. The next time you visit the editor, the sliders are not on their initial positions, but rather where you moved them. If you apply any changes, a fresh picture will be generated from the original. Furthermore, iPhoto'08 has a very nice import dialog, where you can now select the pictures you want to import as well as hiding the ones already imported. What's not contained is a picture sharing function between several user accounts. iPhoto'08 runs well on my Mac mini G4 and is faster (in all aspects I investigated) than iPhoto'05.

Finally, iWeb'08 found my interest. While I prefer coding HTML by hand instead of using pre-defined templates, the program is quite nice for beginners. It is so simple, I can recommend it to anyone without technical skills. When it comes to publish the pages to a website other than .Mac, however, you better know a coder, since at least for my webserver, the pages needed manual changes to work.

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So, time is up. I've waited long enough for Apple's iPhone. While it seems to be a nice technical goody, the price is way to high. While the Telekom was not mentioning any details, O2, the british carrier, introduced a pricing similar to the AT&T model. Thus, the lowest rate will be about 50 euro a month. Combining 400 euro for the phone and twenty-four times 50 bucks, the iPhone will cost at least 1600 euro during the two years plan. A bit too high, if you ask me.

However, my good old SE K700i died right away some weeks ago. As a replacement, I'm happy with a SE K810i. The phone is capable of doing almost everything interesting the iPhone can do. It plays music. Okay, without Coverflow. It plays videos. Okay, at a bit lower resolution. It shows Google Maps (anyway, already my K700i did that). Well, it's not playing YouTube content. Otherwise, it has (1) extendible memory, (2) no SIM-lock, (3) Java-Application support, (4) an RDS radio, (5) a lower weight, and (6) a way better camera. That's how I came to the title:

A Christian spider in the wood.
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Yesterday I had to visit a photographer to take a picture of me to update my identity card. Until now, I always avoided getting new documents, because the rules for the photos have been changed since 2005. I decided to get the new "digital recognizable style", because this one is required for the passport (so maybe I could reuse the picture some years later). Interestingly, besides technical sound pictures, regarding sharpness, contrast, lighting, background, and print quality, also the person in front of the camera has to fulfill some requirements. In particular, you have to

1. Look with a neutral face into the camera (without open mouth and any non-aligned angle of your head)
2. Look straight into the camera (no closed eyes, no hair in front of your face, don't squint)
3. The eyes have to be visible (e.g. no dark glasses, shadows, etc.)
4. You're not allowed to wear anything on your head (except for religious wear)

Afterwards, the photographer has to crop your picture to show almost only your face (e.g. hair cut of). My photographer told me that he once had to take pictures of a man with a rounded face and jug ears. Unfortunately, the tailored software software he was using (certified of course), told him to crop his ears!

As a result, a computer system might have the change of detecting your identity with a failure rate of about 3/10. For any other kind of resource (e.g. official, policeman), it might be a bit harder. However, since my photo is now officially registered, I can freely provide it to the remaining people as well:

I already ran an edge detection filter, giving you the information required to recognize me. Have a nice day!
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My colleague Arnd just sent me a photo of a bar formerly known as Pi-Bar. Unfortunately, it has been renamed to Ki-Bar in the meantime. I've never visited it, but if you're in the area, here's the location.

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Good Enough 

Sometimes, I get asked why---and how---I wrote a doctoral thesis. There are some simple answers for the former question: Why?

1. Stay a student.
2. Get paid to be a student.
3. If you're out of arguments, you always have the doctoral joker ;-)

The second question seems to be more complicated, but indeed is also very simple: Do your job good enough. While people often search for something to become perfect, this seldom appears to be the same to other people. Just like the 80:20 rule, focus on the important things. Here is a simple graph to depict the idea:

The horizontal axis shows the time that flies by. The vertical axis shows the amount of additional knowledge you earn each time unit. In the beginning, you quickly graps knowledge. Over time, your reach the meridian. Then, you cool down. While you're still working on the topic, something absolutely new and directly related to your work is hard to find anymore. Finally, prepare finishing your thesis. The important point is to submit your thesis just in time. While you would still be able to find additional knowledge, it's not mattering for your thesis anymore. So, that's at least how I did it. And believe me, you can apply the good enough rule to almost everything!
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