Google won't believe me that I'm hep to the jive

Google is my tool of choice. I use it. If I need to find information, Google will do it for me. But the way it handles language preferences really bothers me. For starters, when I want to access google.com I get redirected to google.de ("Silly user! You presume to know where you want to go!"), which is also set to "search for German results only" by default. Now, my English is for all intents and purposes as good as my German, so in order to get the best search results possible I, of course, set it to "all the web" instead of just German language results. It's then that I find out that, while now English (and Russian and similar, too) results are now displayed, Google still feels it has to account for my Germanity by somehow ranking results in German higher than those in other languages (Gee, thanks. I was really worried I'd get results in some unintelligeble goobledigook when I hit the "all the web"-button); Looking in my personal Google preferences, I find that I have the "search for any language" button enabled. It infuriates me slightly that the site doesn't seem to honor that, and skews the results in favor of German sites, which is usually not the result I am looking for. So I choose English as my language of choice, which is of course not the best thing either: Now my results are skewed towards the English language (which gives me better results due to the prevalence of English on the web, but still), and it also removes the "Search for German results only" option from the search page, which is really bothersome for when I do want to find something in German.
I find this way of Google to pretend it's giving me results in "any" language while it's actually only considering anything that isn't German as second-tier results bothersome and more than a little condescending: I didn't choose "any" language to feel cosmopolitan while still secretly wishing I never get to see anything in a scary language I didn't grow up with. I actually want to see the top websites that contain the terms "rainbow brite tentacle xxx triple penetration". Even if it's just to go "huh" when the top three results are in French and Hungarian. Because I want software to do what I want it to, not what it thinks i actually want it to.



That is how they get information. For true!

is the most fucking awesome post about the most recent "security measures" due to the latest "terrorist plot":
Intelligence about the Hair-Gel Bombers was extracted through torture in Pakistan, as in "Please stop electrocuting my testicles! What? Only if I reveal a -- OWWWWWW -- terrorist plot -- AAAAAAHH? All right -- SCREEEECH! -- the terrorists will be blowing up a plane with, with, oh man, I don't know, hair gel! Yes! Hair gel!"

Boing Boing is my most favourite place on the web and I'm totally gay for Cory Doctorow's brain.



Finally, a good option for anonymity on the intar wub

The Swedish Pirat Partiet announced the launch of a commercial high capacity darknet.
Up to now, I had been using tor for my IP obfuscation needs, but, let's face it: I'd like to hide my IP not only with surfing, but with all my connections, including the more bandwidth intensive ones (the tor guys kind of frown on using bittorrent over their net. Also, it doesn't work very well). So, naturally, the announcement that I could get a swedish IP including 128bit encryption to the internet tubes in Swedania had me very excited.
There are two reasons why I haven't signed up yet:
  • The website of the project looks a little shady since it has little information. Also, the information there is smells slightly of snake-oil: They say that their equipment has "no speed limit" and make it sound as though the only slowdown to expect comes from the fact that all connections are routed through Sweden. While I'm sure their equipment is impressive, should five million people sign up tomorrow I really doubt all those people would experience no slowdown.

  • The only available method of payment is credit card. Credit cards are not my friends. In fact, they are one more gigantic hole in my pockets; my pockets already have enough huge holes. Add a credit card and the bank would have to refill the red ink in their printers every time I get an account statement. I've already sent them an email asking them to add more payment options. More, I say!

If that service works half as well as they advertise, 5 bucks a month is really a steal for security from RIAA and fellow goons. Only thing I'm a little worried about are my gaming pings. Anyway I'll update you when I get to try this out.


I just love that new software smell

The best decision I made in the last two-or-so weeks was installing MoinMoin Desktop Edition, which is a small wiki engine. The package is just about 3MB and after unpacking runs a very small webserver that gives you access to your very own personal wiki on localhost.
The awesomeness of having a desktop wiki cannot be overstated: the mess of text files that used to be my braindump is now a tidy, searchable MoinMoin-style wiki. Linking and categorizing is really nice too.
I've been managing an installation of Mediawiki at work, getting ready to maybe use it as a corporate wiki. After playing around with MoinMoin, though, I'm rather sure that I will be scrapping that and putting a MoinMoin in its place.
  • MoinMoin markup seems a lot easier to me. Especially linking is more fun. You are encouraged to name pages in MoinMoin in CamelCase, and words like that are automatically converted into links. At first this is slightly strange, but after you get used to it, it's actually really sweet. If that ain't your thing you can link pages with "normal" markup, too, of course. Also, tables are easier to make.

  • MoinMoin has a wysiwyg editor built in, ajax style. One of the problems I would have had with introducing MediaWiki at work would have been the markup: my coworkers are not very technical, and it would have been hard to get them to swallow something as abstract as a markup language. The builtin wysiwyg thing in MoinMoin crosses that bridge for me.

  • It's Python! While that doesn't actually mean anything to most people, I'm a fool for anything written in Python.

  • Apparently, MoinMoin has full support for nicely grainy access control; I hadn't been able to get that kind of thing working under mediawiki, although maybe I didn't look hard enough (I looked reasonably hard).



The best kind of memento is one you can't misplace, ever

Remember how I said my Narbonic book was my favourite San Francisco souvenir? Well, a couple of days later I got an even better one:
For quite some time, I have been thinking about getting myself tattooed. Then, about half a year ago, I ordered the Ass in your Pants shirt from the Achewood store. As a freebie, there was a Rabbit Ambulance temporary tattoo in there; you can probably guess what happened next. I put it on, and it looked great, so I decided I had to have it permanently, except bigger and more painful. I emailed Chris Onstad about it, who seemed to like the idea and sent me hi-res pictures of the art in question (Thanks, Mr Onstad!), so I started looking at tattoo places. But when I was in San Francisco I felt it was the perfect opportunity, so I looked around on the inter nets a little bit and called around. The shop I chose originally was all booked up, so they referred me over to One Shot, and I have to say I'm awesomely thankful for that. I called there, and I made an appointment with Sky for the last day of my stay, which we pulled forward to one day earlier because of a scheduling conflict (I'm pretty glad, since I realize now that twelve hours on a plane with a fresh tattoo wouldn't have been much fun. Scratch that, it would have sucked.) so on Tuesday I headed over there.
I found that One Shot is a wonderful shop and Sky is a very cool dude who put me right at ease (I was more than a little nervous). We talked the whole time he was working on me and I really have to thank him for making it a pleasant experience. The moment the needle touced my skin wasn't nearly as bad as I thought and overall tattoing isn't that bad, pain-wise (although I think I'd have trouble taking it for more than three hours). Afterwards, Sky even invited me along to have a beer with him and Greg at the Little Shamrock which is not only extremely cozy but apparently also the second oldest bar in SF. I had a great time there, and a great time before getting my tattoo so all in all, it was pretty much the best day ever.
When I got home after and "tended to my wounds", there was just a little more blood on my bandage than I expected, but as per the instructions I just washed it, put the ointment and a clean t-shirt on, and went to bed. Next morning: the horror! The fact aside that I had a (permanent?) decal of my tattoo on my t-shirt, the bed had gotten quite a bit of ink, too (I sure am glad that I was not only sleeping in a hotel, but in a hotel I was going to check out of that day), and I wasn't really prepared for that; I am however told that this is quite normal, so if you have a fresh tattoo and woke up this morning to dirty linen, you are not an ink-sweating freak, but you should chill out. Anyway, that and a little soreness aside, aftercare seems to be going well and I'll supply some more pictures as soon as healing is conluded and I can coerce someone to take them, since I didn't get it in a location where I can easily take pictures myself. Also, I think I need to take up bodybuilding so my awesome tat doesn't have to sit on such a pasty, flabby un-awesome shoulder. Peace out, blogosphere!



APE is awesome

Today's day was all business, so there isn't really much to tell there. But! Yesterday! Oh, yesterday! During yesterday's webcomic trawl I found out that, wonder of wonders, APE was in San Francisco that weekend, and Shaenon K. Garrity was going to be there. There was no way I was going to miss that! The expo was awesome, even though I didn't have that much time to roam around; I'm used to being the only person for miles and miles who reads these things, and being in a large convention space with likeminded people, with people whose work I admire selling their stuff, it blew my mind a little bit. Here are some pictures.
Awesomely, I came for Shaenon Garrity, but the first thing I saw entering the hall was Stephen Notley's table; so now I'm a proud owner of a signed Angry Flower comic. Much love also to Jason Shiga, from whom I bought a Fleep book (I'm so stoked to see this printed!). But the high point was certainly chatting with Ms Garrity, and the Narbonic book with her signature and the little Helen sketch (so adorabwe!) in it is definetely my favorite souvenir of this trip.
Also, I bought Metroid Prime Hunters, and it is several shades of hawesome.



San Francisco is where all the gay people are!

Most of today was made of driving from LA to San Francisco, and there's not a whole lot to see on the way, so I mostly played Advance Wars DS (dude, that game gets hard after the first dozen missions). What I did do though that was pretty awesome is in one of those small grocerie stores by the freeway I completely pigged out on a couple of american snack foods I only ever read about, like Cheetos, beef jerky, Oreos, Hershey bars and root beer. Man, those americans have this unhealthy food thing down pat!
After checking into the hotel we still had time to wander around Fisherman's Wharf for a while, and I tell you, I'm liking SF quite a ways better than LA up to now. I didn't know there were such awesome street performers here!


So this is LA

I've spent two and a half days in LA now, and while it's interesting, I must say I'm somewhat underwhelmed. LA seems to be this sprawling, spread out thing, with lots of small flat houses being most of it; It's absolutely impossible to get anywhere without a car, and only barely possible with one.
The business thing yesterday went well (and also the people we were meeting with took us to an absolutely awesome Mexican restaurant. Speaking of which: Guacamole? Food of the gods), so today we did the whole tourist thing. Mostest awesome to me was Downtown, mostly because it matched my expectation of an American metropolis pretty well; Also we had a great chinese meal at Grand Central Public Market, sitting down at this really basic stall. Somehow, awesome. What really cheesed me off was that I wanted to check out the Marvel Super Hero Exposition at California Sciencentre, but guess what? It closed at five. Yeah.
Tomorrow, we'll be driving over to San Francisco. Me? Looking forward. Peace out, blogosphere!


Don't be blue no more, daddy's back

Hello, blogosphere. I know, I've been gone. Baby, it's not your fault. I'm sorry, baby. I'm back, baby. Sort of. See, I've just finished packing for my business trip to the U of S of A (can you believe that?) tomorrow, and tomorrow I'll be leaving, and I'll be taking pictures for your sisterlet Flickr and I'll be taking lots of notes for you, baby. You won't have to feel left out anymore. Peace out, blogosphere. Be good. Be good for daddy.


Rock out with your camera out

Ya! Ya! Ya! When I heard that Petra was going to celebrate her birthday at Swing-a-Ling, I knew it was going to be even more awesome than the usual Monday night at Cord in Munich. So I bought the most sensitive films I could find and brought my cameras along. I already uploaded most of the pictures to Flickr (there are still some Black & Whites on the way I'll have to scan myself), but all in all, I'm a bit disappointed with the results. They are all hella grainy (which actually looks interesting on the B&W shots) and due to my goddamn jittery hands (I have a condition, you see) most of the pictures are hella blurred (especially the ones with people dancing) or the colours are all washed out because of the flash. Next time I'll bring my tripod (which apparently *isn't* overkill) so at least the only blur will be from people moving, and not my hands shaking.
Sadly, none of the pictures I took with my LOMO Action Sampler came out. It seems that camera needs a lot more light, even with 1600 smackers of light sensitivity all hella up in there. Dig?


Little Things

It's the little things that get to you. Like the headaches, or the blood shooting out of your eyes at inopportune times. Yea, I'll just take a raincheck on that dessert, mom, but dinner was delicious.
It's the little things that get to you. Like when you want to quit shooting, snorting, huffing and dropping because you squirted blood all over your mother's delicious creme brulee and also the pain and the daytime hallucinations, but when some chick has her tits in your face and she's offering you a tab with her tongue while her friend whispers something about snorting it off her shaved pussy later, it's really hard, saying "no", you know? By the way, that might have been one of those daytime hallucinations I was telling you about. Somehow make driving my cab a little harder, too.
It's the little things that get to you, like when you're lying on a gorgeus sandy beach like straight out of a postcard and you close your eyes for a moment because if you get any more relaxed you just might dissolve and then you rip them open again because your fare is screaming at you in her stupid fucking language and you oh shit gotta dodge and you nearly plow into the fucker in the other lane and you manage to screech to a halt halfway up the curb and then the dumb foreign bitch staggers out yea sure lady ride's on me and then you need something for the shakes. Just a little something. Just a small one. Ain't no thing. Just. A. Little.
I can quit any time I want to.