Beobachtung

No Work in Progress!

  • Posted on May 12, 2013 at 4:21 pm

Beim Vermeiden der gedruckten Tageszeitung zum Frühstück bin ich über einen Blogartikel gestoßen, der die Zeile „Dieser Artikel ist noch work in progress.“ gleich nach dem Titel enthielt. Der Hinweis ist zwar nett gemeint, aber leider hilft das dem Leser (in diesem Falle ich, also kein -in) nicht.

Ein Artikel ist zum Zeitpunkt des Lesens durch Dritte fertig. Die Idee mit den Versionierungen oder Datumsangeben helfen da nicht. Warum? Weil es sich nicht um Software-Entwicklung handelt. Ein Autor kann nicht davon ausgehen, dass alle Leserinnen in periodischen Abständen wiederkehren und die neue Fassung lesen. Niemand macht das, nicht in Blogs, nicht bei digitalen Zeitungen oder Magazinen, nirgendwo. Alles das, was sich ein Autor beim Schreiben denkt, muß zum Zeitpunkt des Publizierens im Text enthalten sein. Natürlich neigt man dazu gelegentlich Sektionen mit dem klangvollen Update: hinzuzufügen. Man sollte sicher aber im Klaren darüber sein, dass es Leser, die den Text schon gelesen haben, nicht mehr verfolgen und daher auch nie sehen werden.

Helft mit das Internet sauber zu halten! Publiziert keine Entwürfe! Danke.

Travel

  • Posted on May 2, 2013 at 11:56 pm

Yours truly has been without Internet recently. It’s amazing what a period of having crappy Internet connections can do to a mind. While tweets even fit through the smallest pipe most other content wasn’t accessible. This is actually a good thing. It clears some of the thoughts that clog your brain throughout the busy days with lots of routine, interruptions and information.

There are three things I do when being away. I have a look around. When being in your day job or at home there’s not much time for simply looking at something. You always have to be somewhere on time. No glimpsing, no observing, lots and lots of getting from A to B and not wasting time. Shame. Then there is writing. Writing something for the sake of spilling words is great. Just putting words on a page. No goal, no agenda, no thoughts of your audience in mind. Fun. And then there is photography. Just take the camera, walk around, have a hard look at what you can see, find a good spot and take a picture. Go where few people would go. Use angles few people would use. Rediscover the world.

We all should do this more often.

How not to keep a secret #DCRI

  • Posted on April 7, 2013 at 12:59 pm

If you have a secret, then you probably will not talk about it. That’s a very basic fact about secrets. By not talking to others about your secret, these others will not know. So far so good. If your secret consists of a tower, an area and fences around it, then you have a hard time hiding this information. Your only option is to hide in plain sight, find a plausible explanation for the things people see and – again – not to talk about it. The French Direction centrale du renseignement intérieur (DCRI) has provided a lesson to show how it doesn’t work.

The Station hertzienne militaire de Pierre-sur-Haute is a French military compound. It has a Wikipedia page describing the location and its purpose along with photographs. Thanks to the DCRI everyone knows now that the article contains classified information. The DCRI summoned a Wikipedia systems administrator to their office and threatened him in order to force the deletion of the article. Keeping secrets by blackmailing is not going to work. In the age of satellites, Internet maps and drones there is no way you can prevent someone from taking photographs. De-emphasize, don’t make sure everyone focuses on your little secret. Distractions work, too. Area 51 is known for its UFO sightings and conspiracy theories. No one talks about the military prototypes being tested there. It’s all about aliens.

Maybe the DCRI should watch a couple of X Files episodes to get a clue.

Podcasts? Danke nein, keine Zeit!

  • Posted on March 24, 2013 at 2:30 am

Podcasts sollen ja ganz toll sein. Habe ich gehört. Angeblich ist das wie Radio, nur mit sehr viel mehr Themen, die man sich frei auswählen kann. Dank dem Internet kann man sie sich dann auch anhören wann man will. Und zum Mitnehmen sind sie auch, wie der Kaffee oder das fettige Fast Food. Leider liegen sie auch genauso schwer im Magen. Warum? Weil die Portionen total beknackt sind.

Ich habe es wirklich versucht. Es funktioniert leider nicht. Es gibt eine ganze Reihe von Podcasts, die schlicht und einfach zu lange sind. Da reden die Leute dann stundenlang (ja, Stunden!) herum und wollen einfach nicht zum Punkt kommen. Podcasten ist wie das Bloggen für’s Ohr und wie der Durchfall für den Darm. Silbenwüsten ohne Ende, wo selbst die flüssigsten Worte keine Inhalte vermitteln mögen. Es gibt sogar Podcasts, wo dann mehrere Leute miteinander reden. Die vergessen dann doch glatt beim Aufnehmen, dass es Zuhörer gibt. Das hört sich dann so an wie das Gespräch der Clique am Nebentisch in einem Lokal – nervig, laut, lästiger Hintergrund. Wo ist der Laustärkeregler? Wenn man es leiser stellt, dann geht es vielleicht als leichter Sommerregen durch, und man kann dabei einschlafen.

Woran liegt das? Genau, an den grenzenlosen Möglichkeiten. Wenn es mal egal ist wie lange eine Aufnahme dauern soll, dann wird auch der Inhalt rasch irrelevant. Weil. Man. Dann. Einfach. Nicht. Mehr. Zum. Punkt. Kommt. Kapiert? Ich nenne keine Namen, aber einige Podcasts würde ich vom Thema gerne anhören, jedoch sie sie mir einfach zu lang. Ich kann nicht immer stundenlang Busfahren nur um an Informationen zu kommen, die mir ein Profi auch in 5, 10 oder 30 Minuten erklären kann.

Liebe Podcaster und Audioblogger, nehmt euch doch bitte mal ein Beispiel an den vielen Journalisten und Journalistinnen, die Beiträge im Radio für eine breite oder schmale Öffentlichkeit aufbereiten! Die schaffen das. Das Tolle ist, dass diese Beiträge auch mit Internet (weil für viele Radios gibt’s auch Downloads) nicht an Qualität verlieren. Das höre ich mir dann auch gerne mehrmals an. In einen schlechten Podcast passen locker 10 bis 15 exzellente Radiobeiträge. Arge Sache, findet ihr nicht?

Vision

  • Posted on March 20, 2013 at 8:25 pm

There is nothing to see here. This blog is pretty much focusing on words. Some articles feature a photograph, but usually I don’t publish any pictures here. This will stay the same. There’s one change though. I have decided to publish a part of my collection of photographs on the Internet. I omitted lengthy descriptions and just added the bare bones. The location is shown in the sets, sometimes you can figure out the time, but I haven’t added much yet. I doubt that I will go into more detail at the picture hosting site. If you want to know more about specific images, please tell me here or on Twitter.

Since the photographs were taken over the course of several years you will notice some changes. I started to work with digital cameras over ten years ago. Two different models were used, and I refined my skills dealing with the output of the imaging devices. A lot of photographs were computed by the cameras themselves. Recently I switched to using the raw image format and post-processing it with Rawstudio (no, I don’t use much proprietary software, thanks). The software has a lens library containing the lenses I use. It does pretty much what I need, also photographing in raw mode decreases the number of shots – which is a good thing. It’s not the storage, it’s the amount of time you spend post-processing the data you created.

I don’t like to photograph people, so the galleries do not contain portraits. The only exception are the concert images. You really need a band on stage for concerts, can’t be helped. I don’t do much concerts though. It would be nice to see a colour histogram over all sets to see if there is a bias. There probably is, but see for yourself.

Pens

  • Posted on January 19, 2013 at 11:01 pm

If you like to write with ink on paper, then you might be interested in pens. They don’t use electrical power, so no charging is necessary. The paper needs some big storage though. In case you are looking for a unique pen, check out the Wiener Füllfeder Werkstätte. They have old vintage pens (mostly European) and do not touch, repair or even talk about pens produced later than 1960.

Hacking

  • Posted on January 13, 2013 at 2:12 pm

I know a lot of people who hack stuff. Due to other activities I also meet people who want to learn how to hack. This is the fun part of teaching. You are being asked questions you cannot answer easily. While you can think all day about theories explaining what hackers do, you can stop doing this and get to the roots. Figuring how things work is a good start. All hackers do this, regardless of their colour. The late Aaron Swartz put it this way:

“Be curious. Read widely. Try new things. I think a lot of what people call intelligence just boils down to curiosity.”

You need a motivation to discover the inner workings behind a gadget, a technology or a simple observation. You need the ability to be observant, to combine facts, come up with theories, put them to the test and to get rid of them once you have a new one. You have to know how to ask sensible questions and think of the steps necessary to answer them. Most scientists do the same (go and read Richard Feynman’s The Pleasure of Finding Things Out if you are not convinced).

So how do you get to the point of finding things out? Well, you definitely cannot read the manual and be done with learning. Nothing works this way. The best you can hope for is to get a starting point. The rest is exercise and reading stuff again (stuff can be new or old, you won’t understand everything at the first time). It’s just like physical exercise. Start running, start swimming, start anywhere and see where you get. It’s just like craftsmanship. Get a tool. Use it. Build something. Sooner or later you will use different tools or build tools on your own. It’s a process.

Get it?

You have reached 2013. Please leave a message after the *beep*.

  • Posted on January 1, 2013 at 5:01 am

You have reached the blog of Nightlynx. Unfortunately I cannot take your browsing request at the moment, because I am still asleep, being lost in the city, slightly drunk, saving the world, hiding in the bathroom to read a graphic novel, making stuff up, talking to my imaginary friends or most probably a bit of everything. If you have a question about 2013, please leave a message after the *beep*.

*beep*.

You can hang up now.

Thanks!

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Wunsch für 2013 – mehr Sinn für Journalismus

  • Posted on December 31, 2012 at 8:35 pm

Für alle diejenigen, die es verpaßt haben, weil sie beispielsweise in einer Höhle in Tora-Bora vor Drohnen Zuflucht finden mußten: Der ORF legt keinen Wert auf Qualitätsarbeit. Streitpunkt ist die ungerechte Behandlung der freien Journalistinnen und Journalisten, die das Programm im Anbetracht der Behandlung und Bezahlung nur noch als querfinanziertes Hobby bereichern können.

Gut recherchierte und aufbereitete Geschichten sind selten geworden. Echter Journalismus besteht nicht nur aus Kopieren & Einfügen. Es steckt viel mehr Arbeit dahinter als man glaubt, speziell das Verdichten der Informationen, um Beiträge in sinnvollen Portionen aufzubereiten. Podcasts mit stundenlangem Geschwafel oder Blogartikel ohne Fokus oder Struktur sind Hobbys. Erst journalistische Arbeit macht Beiträge genießbar, und diese Dienstleistung ist unbezahlbar. Leider nimmt der ORF „unbezahlbar“ wörtlich. Die Arbeit der Freien, die eigentlich in moderner Sklaverei leben, macht für mich das Programm überhaupt erst interessant. In einigen Bereichen gäbe es ohne die Freien gar keine Inhalte. Wahrscheinlich müßte man dann Testbilder und -töne senden. Das ist zwar inhaltlich immer noch ein Vorteil gegenüber so manch anderen Medien, kann aber auch keine Lösung sein.

Sollte wer aktiv an dem Wunsch für mehr Fairness für die freien Journalistinnen und Journalisten mitarbeiten wollen, so ist eine Solidaritätsbekundung ein guter Anfang. Ich empfehle auch sich die Hintergründe und aktuelle Ereignisse anzuschauen, um sich selbst ein Bild zu machen. Darüber hinaus kann man selbst gegen den ORF in gewissem Rahmen mit der Geldbörse abstimmen. Es ist ein Anfang, und es ist definitiv ein guter Start ins Jahr 2013! Überlegen Sie es sich doch einfach.

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Silence

  • Posted on December 25, 2012 at 12:54 pm

I don’t give much on birthdays of people who died thousands of years ago. I hardly knew them anyway. I like snow and Winter, though. You can gather this from my Twitter background image. I am a child of Winter, and this has a lot to do with the characteristics of the season. Ice and snow keeps people at home. You are less likely to meet someone (apart from cities that defy the seasons due to technical advantage). People are so busy spending time with their family or at church, so they leave you alone. Perfect.

This is the time when thoughts can roam free.

Side Effects

  • Posted on December 4, 2012 at 11:59 pm

You don’t need eyes to see; you need vision. Now there’s a wonderful sentence. It’s a great quote. It fits on the paper entrails of a fortune cookie. The statement is sufficiently non-descript, so you can use it in a multitude of situations. It also sounds smart, because anyone hearing it will be forced to look for a meaning. That’s the fun side of quotations. You look them up, you remember your favourite lines from films and TV shows, then you use them on an unsuspecting audience. It’s a perfect distraction and fun at the same time. The side effect is looking intelligent. The show must go on. Feel free to try it yourself, the Internet is full of quotes.

Snow. Beautiful, silences the idiots and keeps them off the street, because most of them stay at home when the ground suddenly turns white. Side effect: You might freeze.

Insights. Now there’s a dirty word. Few take it seriously, that’s what lies are for. Too much insight is similar to too much sunlight – ends with ight and is not healthy. Side effect: You start using less smart quotations and can face snow. It’s just frozen stuff anyway – and snow.

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Code, Apps and Design Principles

  • Posted on November 17, 2012 at 4:13 pm

You probably know the term eye candy or dancing pigs. It applies to applications („apps“) running on computing platforms. It especially applies to apps running on devices that can be thrown easily. Widgets, nice colours and dancing pigs beats a sound security design every time. Since this posting is not about bashing Whatsapp (it’s really about sarcasm), here’s a list of advice for app „developers“.

  • If you in need of unique identifiers (UIDs), please always use information that can never be guessed and are very hard to obtain. Telephone numbers, names, e-mail addresses and device identifiers are closely guarded secrets which will never be disclosed, thus this is a very good choice.
  • If you are in the position of having to use easily guessable information for unique identifiers, make sure you scramble the information appropriately. For example you can use the MAC address of network devices, you just have to use an irreversible function on it. MD5(MAC) yields a result that can never be mistaken by a MAC address and cannot be reversed, so it is totally safe.
  • Everything you cannot understand is very safe. This is why you should never take a closer look at algorithms. Once you understand them, the attacker will do so, too. Then your advantage is lost. Make sure you never know why you are selecting a specific algorithm regardless of its purpose.
  • Always try to invent your own protocols. Since every protocol in existence was invented by amateurs with too much time on their hands, you can always do better.
  • Never reuse code. Libraries are for lazy bastards who cannot code. Rewrite every function and framework from scratch and include it into your software.
  • Put the most work into the user interface. If it looks good, the rest of the code automatically becomes very secure and professional. This goes for encryption as well. Most encryption algorithms can be easily replace by the right choice of colours.
  • Getting reverse engineered is never a problem if you explicitly forbid it in the terms of usage. Everyone reads and accepts this.
  • Aim for a very high number of users. Once you hit the 100,000 or 1,000,000 users, your software will be so popular that no one will ever attack it, because, well,  it’s too popular. Accept it as a fact, it’s too complicated to explain at this point.

Go and spread the word. I can’t wait to see more apps following these simple principles to be available in the app stores all over the world.

 

Make sure to undress when using Skype

  • Posted on November 4, 2012 at 5:49 pm

Communication is a basic need. This is why phone companies are in the best position to charge whatever they want and why others always try to cheat (others being other companies and clients of phone companies alike). Tapping phone lines is a basic need, too. Ever since people had communications, someone else was trying to eavesdrop. This tradition has been proudly continued with Internet technology. The sad part is that most of us are not aware of this.

Skype is a popular communication tool. It is being used for instant messaging, audio and video calls. At the same time it is a popular surveillance tool. It has been used for locating users way before Microsoft changed the network topology by hosting all Skype servers. Surveillance is the crucial point here. Of course only the “legitimate” cases are published in the media. You may feel safe, but mentioning the words “pork”, “cloud” or “Mexico” may get you on the target list. That could be all it takes, and there are a lot of cases that will never be discussed in public, because of matters of national security.

So if you use Skype or similar services, always bear in mind that you speak and chat in the middle of a public space completely naked. Once you start a communication, you have no privacy any more. There should be no surprise, even for the Web 2.0 generation. All communication services in the US are subject to the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA). CALEA was born in 1994, long before Skype. Which doesn’t matter since someone had sufficient foresight to ensure surveillance even today. Have fun with your naked phone calls!

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