• Seven

    Well, there it is: 2007! I hope you people out there had a good start and I wish you all the best!

    Carolin and I spent New Year's Eve in Dublin, with the so very nice host family she lived with over the last year while studying at Trinity College. The weather in Dublin was rainy and windy, which certainly contributed to Carolin's cold coming back, so my year started with pampering a girl that was freezing and sneezing. I hope she'll be well again soon.

    For me, the past year was great, with many interesting things, some of which I'd like to point out here.

    Careerwise, the last year will be called The Schlund+Partner year". I "joined S+P when the WEB.DE portal was acquired by the United Internet group which S+P is a subsidiary of. Since a few days, though, I'm now an employee of 1&1 with which S+P has been merged. Over the past year, the sysadmin team that I lead got some new interesting and demanding responsibilities additional to the user management and billing systems. For example, we now also operate a data warehouse system on a fat IBM p570. My boss and I had to fight for more staff, but finally I was granted more sysadmin positions on the team (some of them still open!). I really enjoy the mix of leadership and technology that my job is about and since I also got great colleagues, I'm really looking forward to the coming months.

    After succumbing to the pressure from some of these colleagues, I started playing World of Warcraft I never played more than an occasional round of Quake 2, so seeing how much time I now spend with developing my Tauren druid makes me actually ask myself if I'm gradually getting addicted. It is so much fun to explore a virtual fantasy world and try to reach goals of increasing difficulty, often with the help of other players.

    That I can play WoW at all is due to the fact that I got myself a Mac Mini Having also purchased an iPod Nano before, I've kind of mutated into an Apple fanboy. The experiences I had with their products so far tells me that Apple listens to what customers want and need. Their devices just work easy and intuitive. I feel respected as a product user which makes me a loyal customer in return. Sure, I'm still convinced that nothing beats Linux on the server side, but if I'd get the offer to exchange my Kubuntu ThinkPad with a MacBook, I wouldn't hesitate a second.

    I not only started listening to podcasts but also producing one myself Podcasts are a great way of spending my commuting time with entertainment and learning.

    And my daily commuting time actually tripled after we had moved to Freiburg in october. We had our doubts about living together for the first time in 8 years of our relationship, but we're really happy. 2006 actually is the year we changed from "relationship" back to "love" again. I'm really lucky to have you in my life, Carolin. And I'll do my best to keep it that way.

    Well, talking about new year's resolutions, I have to say that I usually try not to get into that game. We all know that "the road to hell is paved with good intententions", as most resolutions don't ever get resolved anyway. And that's exactly what happened to me also all through the past year: there were just too many goals that I didn't reach. Sometimes, they were unrealistic from the beginning, others I just didn't follow through. That's a depressing thing to notice. So, if there is one important thing I'd like to change in 2007, it's to follow master Yoda's maxim: "Do or do not. There is no try." If you're interested in what I actually do -- keep reading this blog. :)

    So, dear readers, how started 2007 for you and what are your expectations or resolutions for the coming year?

  • Driving home for christmas

    Although I claim to be living online, I won't be particularly connected to the net for the rest of the year. I've just arrived in Philippsburg to celebrate the holidays with my and Carolin's family and friends. Sadly, before she and I will be flying over to Ireland to spend New Year's Eve in Dublin, we'll have to attend the burial of her grandad who passed away last sunday.

    Therefore, I, like many others, won't be as responsive as usual over the last days of 2006. But of course, emails will reach me: I'm typing this at my dad's computer, there are internet cafes, and finally, with my trusty E61, I can get an internet connection almost everywhere.

    So, take care, folks, and thanks for all the great feedback over the past year. Have some blessed christmas days and a good start into a happy new year! "Peace" is one of the most important words in the story of Jesus' birth. Whatever that word means to you -- be it not having to work for some days, the company of people you love, or some quiet time without disturbances and sorrow -- may you enjoy it!

    Merry christmas, see you in 2007!

  • Running Ubuntu Linux on Mac OS X with Parallels

    Not only because I always have to have some Linux on my computer, but also because I often need a Linux system available for training and testing purposes, I installed Parallels Desktop for Mac on my Mac Mini yesterday. Parallels provides a virtual environment for installing other operating systems like Windows or Linux[1]. Its virtual harddisk files, its installation wizard as well as the start, stop and restart buttons on the guest OS window very much remind of VMware, but with a license fee of 79 Euro, there's quite a price difference, isn't it?

    It took me 3 minutes to install Parallels -- you have to love the OS X installation process -- and then I tossed in the Ubuntu 6.06 server CD to install my first guest OS. After choosing Debian Linux" in the installation wizard, Parallels suggested appropriate environment settings and I only reduced the virtual harddisk size to 3 GB[2]. Ubuntu installed flawlessly, but after restarting the virtual machine, the boot process stopped at "loading the kernel". A quick search on the "Parallels user forum unearthed that you have to install the Ubuntu 686 kernel to fix that problem. So, after booting into the Ubuntu rescue shell and issuing sudo apt-get install linux-686" (as described in this "forum entry), Ubuntu started into the login prompt as desired.

    I'm quite impressed how easy it is to install and maintain virtual machines on Mac OS X using Parallels. I have no doubt that I'll gladly shell over the 79 Euro after the 2-week trial period is over.

    fn1. Solaris, BSD and even OS/2 are supported, too.

    fn2. I really need an additional harddrive.

  • GMail is good, but not perfect

    In Mike Arrington's opinion, the new POP fetching mechanism was Google Mail's missing piece to perfection Even though I like GMail very much, I'm not quite that excited. Neither is Om from Web Worker Daily

    If I want to collect emails in a central Google mailbox, I can simply forward emails from other accounts to GMail. But with the central mailbox, there comes the problem of multiple email addresses: Regardless if mails came in via forwarding or via polling another account, users usually want to answer them with the email address the mails were originally directed to. GMail actually does allow sending responses with another verified sender address, but the mandatory "Sender" header Om describes ("on behalf of @gmail.com") confuses some email clients like MS Outlook and gets displayed to the recipient instead of the sender address chosen. So, your usage of GMail as your central mail hub is not really as transparent to the public as you'd probably like.

    Having access to my email everywhere I have web access (and with the Nokia E61, that's pretty much everywhere I have a cell phone connection) is really nifty. And I like Google Mail's spam filter and tagging features. But on the other hand, the service still lacks import and export functions that allow users to transfer all their archived mail to Google as well as to back up their important communication pieces. Oh, and POP doesn't get replaced more and more by IMAP for no reason -- what about offering this much more powerful mail access protocol? Integration with Google Calender could be improved, too. So, the service still has some steps to go on its road to perfection.

    Well, with Christmas coming and all, what's on your wish list for a perfect email solution?

  • Bill Gates thinks DRM is rubbish

    I'm totally flabbergasted: Bill Gates not only has common sense, he even shows it in public! TechCrunch reports from Gates' meeting with bloggers where he expressed his dissatisfaction with DRM technology:

    There are "huge problems" with DRM, he says, and "we need more flexible models, such as the ability to buy an artist out for life" (not sure what he means). He also criticized DRM schemes that try to install intelligence in each copy so that it is device specific. His short term advice: "People should just buy a cd and rip it. You are legal then."

    Amazing. Just amazing.