By the way: After some vacation in Florida (warm!) and Oregon (cold!) I am finally back in Germany. I got one of the last decent flights from Charlotte, NC before an ugly snow storm hit the American Northeast, so I guess I am lucky.

All the things I brought from the US made my suitcases a little heavy but it also came in handy that it is now legal to import 430 Euros worth of stuff to Germany without paying customs, which I didn't even come close to.

Now I am busy unpacking, and also finishing up my master's thesis which will be due to be handed in by the end of the month. And afterwards... but that's another post entirely :)

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I can't believe Arnold Schwarzenegger closed his opening address for the Cebit 2009 expo in Hannover, Germany with both of his catch phrases: "Hasta la vista, baby" and "I'll be back".

In related news, I noticed the now-politician still walks like the "Terminator". Here I was thinking it was all an act, but apparently it just comes naturally to him.

That's all, folks---now get to the chopper!

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We all know that President Obama's internet team is undoubtedly the most advanced a US government ever had (and one could argue, even in the world). Now, we can't exactly say the same for his VP Joe Biden:

Hat tip to Joe for a fun new addition to our treasure chest of internet memes: We'll give it an honorable spot, right next to the series of tubes and the internets!


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I just did a "teenager audio test" and I was actually able to hear the sound (though it almost curled my toe nails because it's so unbearable):

Train Horn

It's amusing how the website reads:

[This is] a tone that is generally only heard by people under the age of 25. It has been used as a deterrent device to keep teenagers from loitering in malls and shops, and sounds similar to a buzzing mosquito.

(emphasis mine). That reminded me of my first---and probably only---visit to an Abercrombie and Fitch store in a Florida mall that I left as fast as I went in, driven out by the ridiculously obnoxious "store smell" they were spraying there (though there seem to be people who like it). Seriously, if I wanted to smell cheap cologne, I'd talk to some poor, drunk souls at the friendly neighborhood dive. But in general, I appreciate stores that don't need to drug me to make me buy their products...

Link [via]

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The Oscars are over again and a movie named "slumdog millionaire" won a whopping 8 of them. Now, I've never heard of this movie before. Seems to me like it was buried in the ridiculous amount of advertisement for "mall cop" -- a painfully cheesy flick that I did not want to see in the first place and whose overdone ads everywhere made me want to watch it even less.

Also, "Slumdog Millionaire" is going to premiere in Germany mid-March only, well after its release date in the US, and obviously after the Oscars as well. I thought the times when movies are released in Germany later than the US were finally over? Guess not.

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This past valentine's day a few days ago was not only even cheesier than last year's (on the radio, they were making up a "Valentine's Eve" on the 13th already -- how long until Valentine's week, month or year emerge?), it was also the 150th birthday of the State of Oregon. If I had to choose what American state I'd like to be a Citizen of, Oregon would rank pretty high on the list.

Just in time for the big one-five-oh, Oregon State University's archives joined the flickr commons, publishing some nice photos from the state's past for everybody to enjoy. I am delighted! Needless to say, the pictures are in the public domain (or so they assume).

Oregon Birthday

Oregon Birthday

Before the OSU Archives joined the "commons" project, they had already added another flickr account on their owns, publishing other gems from their vault, such as these great, historic football programs:

OSU Civil War Program, 1945

OSU vs. USC, 1957

(Thanks for the link, Jean Pierre!)

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Is it time to leave? Again? Yup. The final days of my stay in Pittsburgh have come: My master's thesis is more or less complete (by the way, it has the nice name "Transaction Management Challenges for Cross-Organizational, Workflow-Based SOA Applications" and spans 104 pages total), so it is time for me to take it back to Germany and finally wrap up that "Diplom" of mine.

Pittsburgh Skyline

It was a fun time in the "Steel City", I've learned a lot both professionally as well as personally and I have met great people who I will really miss. Thanks for making my time in Pittsburgh great, you know who you are!

But I am not quite flying home yet: Before diving back into the "frozen tundra" of Germany, I shall visit warmer parts of this country. I promise I'll feel a little bad for you, snowed-in readers, while I sit by the pool sipping margaritas!

(Pittsburgh skyline photo CC by-sa licensed by Ronald C. Yochum, Jr. on Wikimedia Commons.)

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Just in time to get you all ready and prepared for the Super Bowl XLIII, here is a little video on the "mystery of the yellow line".

The yellow line denoting the current 10-yard "target" is one of the most impressive things for me about football coverage on television. In fact, it gives viewers at home an interesting advantage over both the fans in the stadium and the referees. Even in situations where the distance needs to be measured exactly on the field, the people at home already know if it was or was not enough to make the 10 yards---so they can relax and enjoy the refs' effort to confirm it. In addition to these little moments of superiority, the sheer awesomeness of mashing up live video with a smooth overlay---while not painting over players' legs etc.---is some seerious geekness I find deeply fascinating.

Now of course, just to be fair, European television channels do similar things in the mean time. For example in soccer, they show the distance to the goal line for free kicks. Still, due to the different objective of American Football, the advantage is much more striking there than in the European sports I know.

Have a fun Super Bowl with your friends and---of course---root for the Steelers!

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Leaving my wi-fi router in the house when moving out, I am about to put it in a central place and wanted to make sure the reception is decent enough for everybody to enjoy. So I read up on the topic a little bit and found a nice little explanation why 200 milliwatt TX power will not make your access point better, faster, or more awesome than your friend's. No matter how much the average script kiddie wishes it did...

Is a 200 mW access point a good thing? The answer is normally, "No." A notebook computer or PDA using a standard PCMCIA (or built-in Wi-Fi) adapter transmits with a power level of 100 mW (or less). If an access point puts out a 200 mW signal then the access point will be capable of transmitting to a distance from which the notebook computer can't transmit back. The Wi-Fi client (the notebook computer) "hears" the access point. Unfortunately, the access point has no way to "hear" the client. The client connection fails, even though the signal level seen from the access point may be stronger than other, lower power, access points. The advantage of a 200 mW access point is that they can be used with a 50-foot length of low-loss antenna cable to attach a remote external antenna. The cable attenuates the 200 mW signal down to a 100 mW level at the point where the signal enters the antenna. Now the access point antenna and the client are both operating with a 100 mW signal, and they can hear each other properly. The output power from an access point should never exceed the output power from the clients that are attaching to it.

from: Technical Notes and Wi-Fi FAQ

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The ears shall---for now---remain the only body part that can get hurt when somebody is playing the cello. The painful-sounding medical condition "cello scrotum" turned out to be a 30-year-old hoax:

A top doctor has admitted her part in hoodwinking a leading medical journal after inventing a medical condition called "cello scrotum".
The spoof was inspired by a similar report of a phenomenon called "guitar nipple", which happened when the edge of the guitar was pressed against the breast, causing irritation.
"Anyone who has ever watched a cello being played would realise the physical impossibility of our claim. Somewhat to our astonishment, the letter was published."

I am sure cellists across the globe will be glad to hear their manhood is not at risk. I, for my part, will keep on playing the trumpet instead, just to be on the safe side ;)

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