• A year without a car

    A year ago, when it had become clear that once we had moved to Freiburg, I wouldn't do the 150 km commute by car, I canceled my leasing contract and switched to public transportation.

    I've got myself a "Bahncard 100" that enables me to take (almost) every Deutsche Bahn (German Railways) train I want to for a flat monthly fee. So, if I'd like to visit a friend in Hannover or to go to the next Barcamp Cologne, I just hop on the train. The monthly rate for the Bahncard 100 is about the same as my leasing fee was, and there are no extra costs for fuel, insurance, repair, parking etc. Even with the occasional taxi, I spend less money for the train than I used to for the car.

    Although my commute now is five times longer than it was when I lived in Philippsburg, it is much more environmentally friendly. I now share the same vehicle with hundreds of other passengers.

    It takes me about an hour to get to work, and over this time I don't sit behind a wheel cursing at other drivers but at my laptop, doing some work, typing blog entries like this one, reading my Twitter stream, or just relaxing, listening to a podcast or audio book. Thanks to my in-ear earbuds, I don't get disturbed by crying babies, loudly talking business buffoons or other crazy people.

    Of course, not having a car has its downsides. If I want to go on an IKEA rampage or buy five crates of beer, I need to rent a car or ask a friend to help me out. In urgent cases, I have to get a taxi. And there's always the train schedule that I have to adhere to. Sometimes, the train doesn't.

    But over all, it's simply comfortable to sit in a soft chair and wait until the conductor has taken me there. I don't miss the car.

  • OpenID = BadIDea?

    When OpenID was made public, it seemed like a really good idea, solving the problem of having to maintain dozens or hundreds of user accounts all over the web.

    But Stefan Brands has another point of view and he not only points out one or two flaws of the new identification and authentication protocol, but a whole list at a time:

    • Security problems
    • Privacy problems
    • Trust problems
    • Usability problems
    • Adoption problems
    • Availability problems
    • Patent problems

    After reading his article "The problem(s) with OpenID", I guess I'll go back to using Keepass.

  • Calcium: a usable calculator for S60

    You'd think that a smartphone would come at least with a decent calculator to do the most basic math. Not so with the S60 OS my Nokia E61 came with. Its calculator application is completely useless. Just imagine having a phone with a complete alphanumeric keyboard in whose calculator application you have to choose arithmetic operators by hopping over the displayed buttons with the joystick.

    Fortunately, I found an alternative on Volker Weber's blog. Calcium is a nice little calculator application. You choose the operator with the joystick, too -- but just by moving it one in one direction. As displayed on the Calcium homepage, every joystick direction is one operation. And if you want the result, you just press the joystick.

    So, even if you don't have an S60 phone with a full keyboard, Calcium makes simple math simple.

  • This is the archive of my old blog

    If you didn't notice already, I moved my blog to my homepage The RSS feed should have switched transparently.

    This website will be preserved for archival purposes.

  • Working on new homepage and blog

    Since I first used Drupal as a Content Management System for a customer, I wanted to rebuild my homepage with it. Currently, my homepage is based on TextPattern and my blog uses Serendipity as its blog engine. Both have their shortcomings and using two CMS with different user accounts, different theme systems and so on isn't quite optimal.

    That is why today I started to build the homepage (that will also encompass a new weblog) from scratch with Drupal. If all goes well, I will be able to make the switch over the weekend.

    Blog subscribers won't have to change anything because I'll just change the RSS source address over at Feedburner.

    Migrating the old blog entries over would mean not only to convert the database content but also the formatting, because I've been using Textile until now but want to switch to Markdown format. So I decided not to make the tremendous effort but to keep the old blog at its original address as an archive. This way, links won't break either.

    See you on the new homepage soon!