My colleague Dave made a little Google Maps mashup, illustrating where in the world Mozilla employees are. The result is quite an impressive map:

Mozilla Employees International

Over at Dave's blog, you can actually zoom in to see more closely where people are. The one in Munich, Germany, is yours truly, by the way.

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In a few weeks, my fiancée and I are going to move to Munich. We are going to live in a quarter called Sendling.

A U-Bahn stop in the neighborhood is called "Am Harras" and curious as I am I wanted to know what it was named after. Luckily, there's always Wikipedia. The German Wikipedia page on Harras reads (my translation):

In 1856, the former Löwenhof castle was torn down [...] and a remaining part of it was purchased by Robert Harras who opened a café there. It became a popular destination for people in Munich. The café was torn down as well in 1903, but the name remained as the name of the square located there. In 1930, the intersection was named after the café owner Robert Mathias Harras.

When I asked other people, one initial thought was that the name could be from Carl Zuckmayer's 1946 play "Des Teufels General" (The Devil's General), about a German air force general under the Nazi regime, both working for it and openly opposing the Nazi party. But, while this would have made sense, it turns out the square has been called like this much longer already, and the fictitious general and the former café owner have nothing in common but their last name.

Harras Post Office Photo: Harras post office, in a building from the 1930s. CC by-sa licensed on Wikimedia Commons.

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I hereby admit publicly: I love espresso. I firmly believe, all a young coffee bean hopes for as a child is to end up as a delicious little Italian coffee. Needless to say, one of the hardest decisions for me to make when thinking about our kitchen setup was, what espresso maker to get.

Now we recently went to Italy on vacation and as usual I admired the baristas and their fabulous espresso makers, and so we ended up asking one of them where to go to buy a good espresso maker. And a decent tamper, and -- for my parents -- a good coffee mill. Like most Italians he and his fellow bar owner felt honored and delighted to give advice and gave us the address of their commercial coffee maker vendor, along with this note card:

Pistoia Note Card

It reads: "From Luca and Fabio. Treat them well." Very nice!

There, I bought one of the most beautiful espresso makers evaar:

La Pavoni Europiccola

The "La Pavoni Europiccola" does not have an electric pump and thus works mainly with the pressure generated by the steaming water as well as the force from the operator's arm pressing the handle down. On the one hand, it is hard to generate a constant quality this way and, due to temperature variations, it is quite hard to make the first coffee in a batch "just right". On the other hand, with this machine, drinking espresso is celebrated rather than rushed, and each coffee becomes its own little "piece of art".

While I am still figuring out the "tricks", so far I really dig it. And one thing's for sure: This is one damn cool kitchen accessory.

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I am happy to announce that starting this week, April 1, (and no, that's not an April Fool's joke) I am working full-time on the Mozilla WebDev team. I have been involved with the Mozilla project since 2006, and I have since been able to experience just how great all of the Mozilla community is. I am looking forward to working with the many awesome people who make Mozilla what it is, and who are as excited about the future of the Open Web as I am.

mozilla Logo

There is a lot in store for us: Firefox 3.5's release is rapidly approaching, and the Web is concerning more people in the world than ever before. Though it is not all "smooth sailing", and there are a lot of dangers for the Open Web and for the people who use and rely on it, I am still, or maybe all the more, excited to make a contribution to the development of the Web landscape, for the good of millions of Firefox users, and 1.5 billion Internet users as a whole.

Let's do it!

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We all know, getting into your university of choice can be quite hard. But, who knew getting out of one (properly) is almost equally as complicated?

Universität KarlsruheI am telling you, the university wants to see how much I can suffer, one last time. By sending me across campus multiple times to acquire signatures and pick up forms. And stand in line (first to pick up the form, then to fill it out, then to hand it in, then to pick up the signature). And by telling me that they decided to close their office on Mondays. And Fridays. And to open it between 10 and 12 only, the rest of the week. By-appointment-only, naturally.

Oh, and by closing my favorite on-campus coffee place, of course.

Now, it's not all that bad, really. There are also interesting new discoveries to be made. Like, that the computing center (Rechenzentrum) apparently has a women-only computer pool. In an imaginary press release, they might say: "The new, three-desk facility was established to give all women studying computer science in Karlsruhe room to work at once." Of course, I am exaggerating. The actual student statistics for 2008 reveal a whopping 10 % of students in computer science are women here. And at any rate, the computing services are used by students in other departments as well. But, more seriously, what's wrong with the other computers? Guess I'll never know.

(The picture shows the department of business/economics at the university of Karlsruhe in 1967. The buildings still look quite the same today. In the background, the Karlsruhe residence castle. CC by-sa licensed by the Germany Federal Archives on Wikipedia Commons.)

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This week, I handed in my master's thesis (German: Diplomarbeit) with the title "Transaction Management Challenges For Federated, Workflow-Based SOA Applications":

Meine Diplomarbeit

Need I say more? :)

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Fellow German blogger ix got married in Las Vegas recently (congratulations) and faced the problem to have the marriage accepted by his local civil registry office in Hamburg---because only then they would be able to get all the rights and duties that marriage entails in Germany.

The Tower of Babel

So far, so good: Along with a certified copy of the marriage certificate, he also needed to bring an "Apostille"---a standardized transcription of a legal document (in this case: the marriage certificate) to be accepted by another country (in this case: Germany). Of course, one cannot expect the government officials to be able to read the English language, not even when a marriage certificate consists of a quite simple set of information that does not differ significantly between the two countries. So he had to obtain an official translation of both documents from a certified translator, before they finally accepted his marriage as valid.

That the German government is very strict about "our official language is German" is no news to me: Once before I had to provide US documents to an agency and in spite of the relevant passages being very tiny, they demanded to have the whole document translated. Eventually, I managed to have them accept my (and therefore an uncertified) translation, which probably saved me what would have felt like a million dollars in translator fees.

Though all in all, it seems to be a quite tedious process, I now hope to know quite well what needs to be done to have a US marriage accepted in Germany. My fiancée and I will face the same process soon and this way we know what to expect. I'll make sure to blog about it again when it's time.

(pictured: "The Tower of Babel" by Pieter Brueghel the Elder (1563))

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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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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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Today I looked at this blog's usage statistics and as it turns out, a whopping 54 percent of my visitors use Firefox, followed by Internet Explorer, then Safari, Opera, Chrome.

fredericiana Browser Statistics

It's interesting to see how much difference the "clientele" of a page makes for its statistics. The overall market share of Firefox has topped 20% a few months ago, but since this blog has a lot of tech content, a higher number of Firefox users is probably not surprising.

By the way, almost 80% of my Firefox visitors surf with Firefox 3.0.5, followed by only 5% of users and a long tail of various other, outdated, browser versions.

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