Dear readers!

I wish you a merry Christmas and a good and successful year 2008. I hope you had fun reading my blog this year and thank you all for your helpful comments and constructive input. I hope you'll still bear with me for a long time to come!

Now get back to your Christmas feasts but make sure to not drink and sing (instead, always choose a designated singer!), or you may end up like this guy: ;-)

(The song being so graciously interpreted here, by the way, is a German Christmas song that goes "silent, silent, silent, because the child wants to sleep...")

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Yesterday, Apple released a system update that is supposed to fix the severe "keyboard unresponsive" bug in OS X Leopard:

Update for the Apple Keyboard Bug(s)

With hardly 800K in size, the patch is a lightweight that could have a big influence. If that's not the right place to use the word of the year, where else: W00t.

I just installed it and so far, the keyboard works fine, but of course I haven't sent the box to sleep yet, so by now I can't tell yet if the patch actually fixed the bug. Of course, the reboot the update asked for promptly resulted in a kernel panic (great start), but luckily, another reboot went through without problems.

If you like, please let me know in the comments if the patch worked for you or not. Good luck!

(Thanks Justin, Jean Pierre and Marc, who all told me about the update being available.)

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Apparently, you can (legally) buy cans of Uranium Ore on Amazon.

Uranium Ore Still looking for a Christmas Present?

Is it just me, or is that really a little strange to buy something like this off the internet? But then again, the same seller also offers Rosswell soil samples, so what can you expect.

One of the customer reviews with two out of five stars is really funny:

I bought a can of this about 4.5 billion years ago, give or take a few million years, but when I went to use it today I noticed only half of it was still in the can. I swear I put the lid on tight. I'd give it more stars if it came in a better package.

Oh, sweet science! :)

Read more…, a public domain audiobook project, has a copy of Mark Twain's fabulous essay "The Aweful German Language" in which he pleasurably depicts the pitfalls and oddities of the German language. The summary reads:

If you’ve ever studied German (and maybe even if you haven’t), you’re likely to find this short essay to be hilarious. Published as Appendix D from Twain’s 1880 book A Tramp Abroad, this comedic gem outlines the pitfalls one will encounter when trying to wrap one’s mind around the torturous German cases, adjective endings, noun genders, and verb placement. (Summary by Kara)

Incidentally, the audiobook is read by a German, which adds to its hilarity. (And I hereby admit to probably having a similar accent, so yeah...)

By the way: Don't take the poor Mark Twain too literally. German really isn't that bad! :)

Link to the audiobook (the page also has a link to add it to iTunes with one click).

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Douglas Karr at the Marketing Technology blog has an interesting post about the web servers the election candidates for the U.S. in 2008 run.

Hillary runs Windows 2003, for example, while Guiliani trusts his website to a CentOS+Apache install. An exception seem to be Barrack Obama and C. Todd, who are the only ones to run FreeBSD on their webservers.

The percentage difference between Linux/Apache (48%) and Windows/IIS (43%), seems to reflect the Internet not too badly (which is about 50% Apache vs. 35% IIS), but when you look at the two parties, there is a much more clear bias:

It’s fascinating to me that the Dems are predominantly Open Source… except for Hillary Clinton and the Republicans are predominantly Microsoft with the exception of Ron Paul, Jim Gilmore, Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney.

I wonder what makes Republican candidates go so strongly for closed source products, but I'll leave this up to your speculations ;) .

When I look at the hosting companies, I don't recognize many names -- only one came to sight: Republican candidate Jim Gilmore gets his Linux box from 1&1 Internet, Inc., a subsidiary of 1 und 1, one of Germany's largest internet companies who have big facilities in my university town Karlsruhe. /me waves from here.

Will this knowledge influence where the average geek's makes their cross on the ballot? Probably (or rather, hopefully) not. Yet it is interesting to see what technologies the candidates trust into. Now I'd only like to find out which browser they are using. But this will likely remain unresolved forever...

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Johnny Lee from CMU shows off a low-cost digital whiteboard built from a WiiMote and a pen with an infrared tip.

I so want this (hint, hint, readers looking for a Christmas present ;) ). Also, if I was still on-site, I'd absolutely volunteer to build one of these for Mozilla :)

(Thanks for the Link, Kai!)

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Heute rief eine Frau im Auftrag eines großen deutschen Autobauers an.

Das Gespräch lief in etwa so:

Anruferin: Hallo, mein Name ist Valentina Winter (Name geändert) von (Name der Firma). Kann ich mit der Dame des Hauses sprechen? Ich: Die ist bei der Arbeit; kann ich was ausrichten? V.W.: Spreche ich mit dem Ehemann oder dem Sohnemann? Ich: Mit ihrem Sohn. V.W.: Wann kommt die Mama denn wieder? Ich: Das kann Ihnen der Sohnemann nicht sagen. Da müssen Sie nochmal anrufen. Auf wiederhör'n.

Sprachs und legte auf...

Lieber großer Autobauer. Ich weiß ja nicht, was ihr euren Callcenter-Mitarbeitern so beibringt. Aber bei einem bin ich mir ziemlich sicher: Einen mittzwanziger "Sohnemann" nach seiner "Mama" zu fragen ist nicht gerade eine Strategie, die die Seriösität Ihres Unternehmens unterstreicht.

Den unbändigen Wunsch, eines Ihrer Autos zu kaufen, hat das jedenfalls nicht in mir hervorgerufen.

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It seems to me like some people have a little too much time at their hands: I recently notice a bunch of hand-crafted spam coming in to my blog, mainly as comments to the famous (infamous?) cake article.

The comments look something like this:

Hand Crafted Wordpress Spam Some hand-crafted wordpress spam, notice how the comment makes sense but the supplied URL is quite apparently promoting spam content.

Interestingly, most of these comments actually link to pages that promote some sort of shady pyramid scheme. Looks like these people desperately surf the web searching for well-visited blog posts and drop spam in there -- by hand.

Yet, even if they manage to get through comment moderation, they are not likely to squeeze any "search engine juice" out of it, since Wordpress marks commenters' homepage links as nofollow by default.

And though I would like to tell them they can save their keystrokes and that they are wasting their time (and, more importantly, mine too), I can probably drop that, since chances are, none of these people will ever actually read the blogs they are spamming...

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Today I sent a support request to the computer pool admins at my university's CS school, so they upgrade Firefox to version 2 any time soon. The Fedora Core instances on these boxes are still on Fx 1.5.12.

I mean, it's only been out for a year and Firefox 1.5's lifetime has ended for half a year now, so that sounds like it's about time for an update.

Interestingly though, the Fedora Project seems to keep version 1.5 until they can switch to 3.0 (therefore completely skipping Firefox 2). And unless I am mistaken, the pool computers still run FC 6. So my request may not be successful after all. But unless Fedora backports security patches to the 1.5 branch (which may arguably be more work than just switching to Firefox 2?) I strongly oppose keeping unsupported software versions for any significant time. Especially in a university setting with hundreds of users happily surfing the web on a daily basis. And especially for a web browser, which by definition constantly gets its hands dirty with possibly harmful code.

Let's see what they say -- I sure hope it'll be more useful than your average "just boot into Windows, then"...

Update: Just about half a second after I blogged this, the pool people answered that Fedora still backports patches into Firefox 1.5, and soon (that is, once Fedora drops support for version 6), the pool computers will get an upgrade to FC 8, which will also contain Firefox 2 then.


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This BoingBoing TV video is exactly the right thing for an average Friday afternoon:

The "Internextperts" Gabe and Max answer "you're questions" (sic) about teh Internets. But remember: Not all of you can have it, since "the Internet is not an unlimited resource like gasoline or fishes" ;)

Maybe a little bit silly but sooo hilarious :)

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