Jan 8, 2013
As every year, here comes my retrospect for the last year. I haven’t written much lately. This is mainly due to a big load of stuff I had to do, but also to a lack of enthusiasm that I have been experiencing since some months. Didn’t get around to get involved in as much stuff, as I normally do. I am still not back on track but really hope that this will come back. I think the reason for this is mainly the Bachelor thesis, which I wrote in the second half of this year. I normally work on lots of different things, but my bachelor thesis (which is finished by now) forced me to put all focus on it and discard everything else. I am really not made to force myself into doing something and thus the greatest challenge was not a technical, but mere a personal one. But as I learned from Dexter: it’s all about getting back to your routines if you lost track of yourself ;-).
The first half of the year though was absolutely amazing. I traveled a lot, got to know many many different people, started to get more spiritual and collected a lot of new experiences which have deeply influenced me.
Most interesting art project wich I discovered
youarelistening.to is a website that creates the “sound of a city” using ambient music and online available police and fire rescue radio streams. Together with a nice night photo of the city this makes an incredibly cool working environment. Especially when projected on a wall via a beamer. This reminds me of a quote from Cory Doctorow’s book “Makers”, that stuck with me: “[…] This thing wasn’t invented. All the parts necessary to make this go were just lying around. It was assembled.”. I think much more cool stuff can be built from the stuff that is already existing out there.
The blog post I enjoyed reading most was “I introduced my 5-year-old and 2-year-old to startx and xmonad. They’re DELIGHTED!“. A father has started to introduce his sons from an early age on to Unix. The whole series is worth reading, but in this entry he describes how he introduces a graphical environment. Since he has just told them the basic commandline stuff, they have never even seen a graphical environment up to this point, .
If I had decide for one it would be Where is your Wilderness. Even though, I have a different view on religion, I still can relate to the passion of this filmmaker to create an awesome piece of art.
The music video I liked best was Audioslave – Doesn’t Remind Me, a true piece of art.
I was living in one of the dorms before I started moving in with friends. Once I quit my contract there I had one month to bridge between the two flats. Several people offered me to stay at their flat for the month, but I decided to take this as an opportunity and live one month without a flat. Jumping from couch to couch, sleeping around at different homes.
I ended up spending most of the nights at totally different places of various friends, at one point I literally lived within the university for some days. This works really well by the way — you have everything there, showers, breakfast, meals, sleeping possibilities, etc. :).
However, the best place I stayed at was at meillo’s. He lives in a rural region outside of Ulm. A relative of his owns a milk farm, which resulted in fresh milk each morning and nightly tractor rides. Nice memories.
Starting to live together with friends. The last months living with them has been A+. I can’t imagine anything, that would make my living situation better. Everything is 100%.
Kate got me into attending a Creative Writing course at university. This has proven to be a very good decision and I have done a lot of creative writing in the past months, even compiled a small shortstory collection with friends. Though, I am not yet (mentally) ready to publish anything here.
It got clear to me that at one point the question with which technologies I want to work, shifts from a technical to an ethical question. For me this resulted in replacing my work environment with mostly free software and discard the MacBook. Also I replaced DeviantArt with my own MediaGoblin instance and replaced last.fm with libre.fm.
Also I can not emphasize enough how important it is (at least for me) not to wait for other people. If you have a project idea or want to start something, just do it. Don’t constrain yourself with other people lack of time/motivation/flow.
From a technical point I learned that a dedicated root server is really worth it. Together with friends I rented a server. At first I was not sure, if I was going to take a lot of use from it, but now I connect to it daily. I use the server mainly to sync repositories on different machines, share files, for usenet stuff, to host a jabber server, to host web stuff and to have a machine which regularly performs maintenance tasks such as cleaning my mail.
Thing that stuck with me most
The definition of hell: the last day you have on earth, the person you became will meet the person you could have become.
Since I am always torn between decisions, Elena told me to just imagine myself in a month, a year or five years from now. What would I then (in retrospect) consider the best decision? I have found this to be quite helpful.
Book I enjoyed the most
I really enjoyed reading the “autobiograhpy” of Steve Jobs, written by Walter Isaacson. Although I have a different view on the politics Apple represents today, I can definitely identify with the original goals of the company. Even though I have been very interested in the Apple history and a big enthusiast for the last years, the book still was very interesting and offered many insights which other biographies were missing.
When we moved in together I thought it might be cool to have something that encourages innovation, encourages people to constantly bring new cool stuff to the flat. So for this purpose I have built a prize, from wood and plastic. A cup actually: the golden pineapple!
Each week we consult on the best innovation for the last week and the respective person gets the golden pineapple for one week. The prize doesn’t necessarily have to be given to people living in the flat, but can also be given to external people (which it has been).
Even though we can’t keep up with giving the prize to a different person each week, the rate of innovation is still constant.
Best photo I shot
The photo I am most proud of is this shot of Kate which I took on a trip through Scotland. The lightning has not been altered, this was all “natural” light by the environment. Also I am really satisfied with the photos I took for various insititute websites at university (see here).
From a technical point of view I liked the article “Looks Like It!“, a great explanation of perceptual hashes, a way to determine how similar two pictures are.
From an emotional point of view the anger in meillo’s article “der taegliche kampf” (german) on the “modern” university education system is something I can greatly identify with.
From a curious point of view I loved the article and video “Getting high on Krystle” from the Vice magazine.
Best learning resource
The VI manual offered quite some insights for me. I feel as if I have a much more basic understanding of the tool, now that I have read through it.
Project I donated most to
Torservers.net is an organization with the balls to run Tor exit nodes. Awesome!
Most helpful tool
youtube-dl is a python script to comfortably download stuff from youtube, vimeo, soundcloud, etc.. Pass an URI to the script, get a video/audio file.
I found this photo a while ago and the shere intensity blows me away everytime I look at it. It shows an explicit birth scene and should be considered NSFW: A star is born, http://www.flickr.com/photos/krisvdv/5894742041/.
I have started to get into music from the sixties and seventies a lot. It is incredible how much creative work has been done in those two decades! I have started to heavily listen to Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin and The Alan Parsons Project. All bands that I have known for a long time, but the music just didn’t work for me — until now. For the first time I have found an access.
Another progressive rock band which is more up-to-date and which I have become to like over the course of this year is Tool. The self understanding of the band speaks to me: “[…] we are … your tool; use us as a catalyst in your process of finding out whatever it is you need to find out, or whatever it is you’re trying to achieve.” (Keenan)
Other albums which stand out: Fever Ray. The hours I have listened to this album: countlesss. Also my bachelor thesis probably could not have been written without Eminem’s album Recovery. An electronic band that I have come to like very much is M83.
The score I liked most was the Blood Diamond Score by James Newton Howard.
And at least I just have to mention Prinz Pi, whose music I have come to adore very much.
From last year
I had planned to change my setup to a much more Unix-like setup. I can report, that I have succesfully achieved this :)! I now use a heavily commandline oriented workflow. Tools that I most often work with include tmux, ksh, nvi, mcabber, vimpc (as a mpd client) and git (which I want to replace with hg).
The rough plan for 2013
I plan to stay within Bachelor for one more semester, earn some money, already earn some credit points for the Master, maybe get a scholarship. In the later half I plan to start the Master’s program here in Ulm.
Creatively, I want to get into sewing and music. Already picked up a sewing machine and am starting out with the basics. My big goal is to sew a (very simple) jacket in 2013. For the music part my goal is to finally get something started. On the creative writing part I would like to write a bigger piece, a book, basically. Have some ideas, fictional and non-fictional, will see. Another thing that has been bothering me for a long time is that I really
want need to write a decent music visualizer.