Backpacking India


I have been backpacking through India since the Christmas days for about three weeks. Together with Eva I flew to Kochin, where we met up with two other friends and traveled in this constellation for the remainder of the journey.

I didn’t have a culture shock or anything of that sort. I think this might be due to my experiences in Guatemala, Mexico, etc. — those countries have similar problems of hygiene and waste. Furthermore, we have only visited two states and have not been to Mumbai. I was quite surprised by how little of my stereotypes held true. India is quite a big country with quite a large population (> 1.2 billion) and 29 states. Over 100 languages are spoken in India and there are a number of different writing systems. It is entirely possible for two Indians to meet and speak English with each other, since it could be their only common language. These statements should give you a rough idea of just how diverse the culture, infrastructure, etc. might be in different parts of India.

We have visited two (neighboring) states: Kerala and Goa. These two states were enough to already see differences in mindset and culture and I have to say that I liked Kerala (the self proclaimed “God’s own Country”) more. From my impression the mindset of the people was directed much less towards “tourist = money”. This might be due to Kerala being one of the “richest” states in India (well, “rich” in Indian terms…). Kerala is also a state which has declared the war on alcohol: starting from 2014 over a period of ten years they plan to ban alcohol. In the last years they have already limited the consumption of alcohol in restaurants by allowing only a very small number of restaurants to serve alcoholic drinks. This has lead to the odd situation that even though no beer is available on the menu you might still succeed in ordering one. Though, you shouldn’t wonder why it will be served in coffee cups! As part of the draining efforts the sale of alcohol has been limited to scarce liquor stores. The one in Varkala is the most shady, prohibition-like place I have ever been to (photo below).

India is the most vegetarian-friendly place I have ever been to, we had exclusively very good (and very cheap) food. Astonishingly this journey was by far my cheapest one yet; with flight, food (three meals a day, always restaurants), accommodations (no dormitories, only private rooms), etc.. I have had total costs of about 1.000 euros, with the flight being the most expensive part (~600 euros). But of course this is at the expense of hot showers and other things. In Kerala we were staying in a place where I heard a suspicious gnawing in our room at night. The next night I spotted a rat climbing the outside wall of our neighboring hut and had a hunch. The next morning “someone” had eaten through the backpack of my roommate — he had forgotten to remove an open bag of peanuts from his backpack.

In Palolem we discovered something nice: if you walk to the very end of the beach (on the right side when facing the ocean) you can walk to a very small island at low tide. There are some huts and we stayed there for a couple of days. The natural foreclosure whilst high tide makes this a quiet and secluded place with very little wild dogs or tourists. Interestingly all huts on the beach are built from scratch each year, since the monsoon is too devastating.

All in all it was a very nice trip and I would like to go to India again. Maybe even this year?

I have attached some photos to this post. As on the other journeys, I had an analogue disposable camera with me (besides the E-M10 Mark ii). I very much like the color faded, blurred look of the analogue photos. Since I got MediaGoblin running again a few days ago, I have uploaded the below photos in a high resolution there as well (under CC-BY, link).


Backpacking Thailand

Together with Valerie I have been backpacking Thailand during September. It has been a very nice holiday and it was hard for me to go back to life in Germany after the holiday. This is mainly due to me being dissatisfied with how things have gone throughout this year. This was also the first holiday in which I switched off my smartphone completely. It was a real pleasure to not be reachable and to not use any computerized stuff. During the holiday I became more and more disgusted of using any computers or electronic devices. I also had to drop reading one of the books I brought with me, since it was too technology focused. I just couldn’t bring myself to carry on reading. Out of recent experiences at university, I have developed a mild aversion against technology and computer stuff during August and it grew stronger during the holiday. Once we were back in Germany it took me a couple of days and a real effort to turn the smartphone back on and go back to working with a computer. Even now, a couple of weeks after the holiday, I am still not back on the original track.

Once I tried turning my smartphone back on, I realized it had broken down somewhere in Thailand. This is probably due to the high humidity there and a couple of deep scratches which were in the screen. Probably the moisture crept in and the electronics broke down. I am thinking seriously about not getting any new smartphone at all. I was a heavy user of WhatsApp, Google Hangouts, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook before, but now it just disgusts me. Besides this it was a very nice holiday and an opportunity to get away from todo’s, deadlines and concerns.

We landed in Bangkok, but — since its Bangkok — left with the next night train to Surat Thani. Our destination was the island of Koh Phangan, where we stayed for ten days or so. Exploring the island, staying in different places, just drifting around. We rented motorbikes several times and spent entire days just driving around and exploring this tropical island with its beautiful landscape of beaches, coconut trees and palms. There were a lot of small adventures during those days and I enjoyed this time very much. At one point we discovered a small festival hidden in a secluded bay: the Floating Man, a small sibling of the Burning Man.

After staying some nights on Koh Phangan we went to the Ang Thong National Marine Park, a foreclosed group of islands, for some days. Few backpackers know that there are some bungalows and tents in the national park and that one can stay there for the night(s). As a consequence we had a nice time and the park mostly to ourselves. During the day, at around 10 am, some boats with tourists would arrive. But before that it was a nice secluded area where we could observe wild (and shy) monkeys strolling through the lonely island in the morning. In the afternoon at around 4 pm the tourist boats would leave again and the island would quiet down again.

Eventually we found a boat which went to Koh Tao and got on board. Koh Tao is an island famous for its diving resorts. Even though we didn’t dive, we took the time to snorkel and stayed there for the remainder of our journey. This was a nice time, accompanied by driving around with motorbikes, snorkeling and Yoga classes.

To quickly recap some other highlights: it should be a commonly known poor-country-travelling fact that the backpack which you store in the luggage facility of a long-distance bus will most certainly get thoroughly searched for valuables. Thus you should keep all the interesting stuff with you. I adhere to this and have never gotten anything stolen. This time though, after leaving the bus and unpacking my backpack in a room later, I found a pair of sneakers (Vans, size 46) buried deep in my backpack. I guess somebody mixed things up whilst unpacking and repacking. I didn’t have anything missing though. Sadly, by the time I discovered the shoes it was too late to return them to its rightful owner. Also sadly, I got size 43.

We had an interesting experience (not worth repeating) when we took a bungalow in a quiet place nearby a jungle. Since it was very hot we opened all windows and went swimming in the ocean nearby. When it got dark we got back to the bungalow. Well…here comes some foreshadowing clue: many places in Thailand (especially on the islands) have power only available for a certain period of the day — when it gets dark. A previous owner of the bungalow must have left the light switched on. We didn’t notice this when we first got to the place, since it was midday and the power was off. But as we returned, the bungalow shined like a christmas tree.
Since this very evening I can’t figure out why there are zoos in Thailand. From my point of view it is sufficient to just take a room and leave the light on.


Backpacking México and Guatemala

Acro Yoga. Comic Convergence Festival. Guatemala

Over the Christmas / New Years Eve period I have been backpacking through México and Guatemala again (for three weeks). Two friends of mine are on a longer travel period and currently stay in Central America. We catched up with one of them in San Cristobal de las Casas and travelled with her to meet up with the other friend in San Marcos (Guatemala). There we stayed at the Lago de Atitlán for several days. We also joined in for the Cosmic Convergence Festival (where I had also been over the new years eve last year). After the festival we went back to México: first to San Cristobal and from there to Mazunte, where we stayed for the rest of our time.

As last year, I got a lot of impressions. Good ones as well as negative ones. Let’s first get over the negative impressions, before we come to the cool stuff. My main negative impressions are corruption (having to pay “special fees” when aiming to cross the border) as well as the water quality. I think a lot about a story I heard: a teacher who is afraid of stating how disruptive corruption and criminal structures are for any society. Just imagine what goes along with this: a generation of kids growing up without the understanding of how bad these things are for society and with the believe that this is “normal”, since nobody tells them otherwise. Oh my.
Concerning the water quality: this is not just a thing of comfort, it is essential. If you are not able to brush the teeth with tap water or shower with a mouth open because of fear of parasites this affects all parts of your life. E.g. you can’t just cook vegetables or prepare a salad. You need to sterilize these things first by letting them soak in a special solution. You also need to be careful about dishes — have they been properly cleaned? Are they still wet? Not paying attention to these things can lead to complicated problems. I suspect that the bad water quality in some regions (where the sewage system was build to cheap) goes along some path related to corruption.

My most positive impressions are the people. Natives as well as foreigners. There is a huge scene of hippies and dropouts in México and Guatemala and I have the impression that such countries — with fewer regulations than in Europe, and not so enforced restrictions — attract a crowd of interesting, unusual people. Maybe because they don’t fit anywhere else. Or maybe because they have more possibilities there. Or maybe because they find people like themselves in those regions.

I have to mention the extremely fertile vegetation — seeing wild cotton and coffee growing…that’s just beautiful. I also met dropouts who own a 2 hectar permaculture farm. This amazes me a lot. I have the impression that whatever you plant within the vegetation in those regions will just grow. The land makes an incredibly fertile impression. In one hostel in Guatemala I drank coffee which was grown, roasted and grounded within a one mile radius of the hostel.

The two friends I met up with are experienced backpackers, whom I have been to Central America with last year. Whilst I continue studying, they have decided to take time off to travel the world. So far this works very well for them. One of them has been hitchhiking through the USA, México and Guatemala with his tent. Staying here and there. Getting to know interesting people. Before we met up with him he had been helping out teaching at a local school. The other one has joined a yoga community in México and is diving deep into yoga, permaculture and meditation.

Even though I travelled with very good friends I needed to sometimes get some lonely time. If this would have been a longer journey I would have needed to split up. I got two main lessons from this journey: travelling alone often yields more personal freedom and speaking the language of a country is key to the people. I strongly feel as if journeys into such countries expand ones worldview and give one a more appropriate picture of ones own situation.

Now that I am back in Germany I am still a bit off. Quite a hard cut to be in deep México one day and thirty hours later in a totally diverse Germany. Quite hard to go back to the ordinary everyday life. Traveling gives life a different feeling. I want to go back traveling.




Been to Prague for a couple of days with some friends. What a beautiful city! Loved the nice house facades, the beer, food and discovering the history of the city. The trip was quite cheap and I think I should do that more often. A very nice feature of Europe is that we have so much culture on so little place. With today’s public transportation system it is so easy to go somewhere.

One should take more advantage of this. I have taken quite some inspiration from the trip and always find it enriching and encouraging to travel and educate ones view of the world.

We went by train, from Ulm-Prague and back to Ulm this cost about 77€. Take the train to Regensburg (Bayern-Ticket) and from there the “Prague Spezial” to Prague.

Travelling Mexico & Guatemala


For three to four weeks I was travelling Mexico and Guatemala with two friends. We started right after the christmas evening and spend the new years eve + the first weeks of January there. I can’t describe all of my memories or the stuff that I have done here but I will try to give some insights.

It was very nice to meet different people with a different view of the world. Especially in Guatemala, where we visited a small festival, this was the case. One of the pictures that stuck most with me: One morning I couldn’t sleep anymore and got up to walk along a lake. The sun was going up and I saw an attractive young lady with long blonde hair who was meditating, while sitting nude on a rock some meters in the lake. This was just iconic.

I have some not-so-nice memories as well. The common way in which is dealt with the environment is just sad…laundries where the washer stands in the grass and all the sewage just drains into the ground. No wonder the supply water is polluted in such a heavy way. We once stayed in a little town in Guatemala where we were told that, in order to prepare a salad, the people have to put it in water and put some drops of iodine into it. After letting this mixture rest for fifteen minutes all bacteria is dead and only then you can eat the salad. The way in which people interact with the environment is unbelievable as well. We were travelling in a little bus and one of the bus guys started cleaning the bus while the other guy was driving. The implicitness by which he threw plastic bottles out of the window was the same by which I throw them in the garbage. I think a lot of this relates to education. If the people would know that garbage in a forest is not just an aesthetic thing, but also rots, attracts animals and could be the soil for diseases, maybe they would act differently.

Another not-so-nice memory was to watch fishermen dismantle freshly caught sharks at a beach. This is highly illegal, but still happens because selling the jaw and the fins is profitable. This was in a secluded, rural village and happened two days in a row. On the third day the marine appeared. Fierce soldiers with big weapons who closed the area off, made the fishermen bring out the shark cadavers and documented everything on cameras. This process went on for about an hour. Then suddenly a guy appeared and took the highest ranking soldier aside. Ten minutes after that all soldiers were gone. Guess why…. Well, about fifteen minutes after they had left another boat arrived and the dismantling process of fresh sharks started all over again. The fishermen who were quite dejected when the soldiers still were there, were now cheering at the newly arriving boat. This was disgusting to observe and made me quite sad.

However, some really good impressions I have taken from the landscape. Wow! So beautiful. Especially in the warmer regions the vegetation sprouts everywhere, everything is green and you can find all kinds of wild stuff growing there. Even saw wild cotton growing. Also you get fresh juices everywhere—it is just so much cheaper to get a fresh juice than to get a packaged carton juice. In Mexico and Guatemala a lot of coffee and fruits are grown. Ironically we found it quite hard to get good coffee or fruits with a high quality. This is especially true for the rural places and can be explained by the fact that the people there are so poor that they export everything they can (especially the good stuff). So the case of a farmer at a coffee plantation who drinks low quality coffee whilst having acres of high quality coffee beans is not implausible.

One thing really surprised me: You don’t get anywhere with English. It is really seldom that people speak English. Even in the center of Mexico-City, where we stayed at an international hostel for a short time, the staff didn’t speak any English–not even right/left/straight. From my impression the population tends to reject the English language due to emotional reasons. Especially in the international hostel case it should be quite unrealistic for the staff not to pick up at least some English words along the way.

Mexico, and especially Guatemala, are quite cheap. I remember that we bought a lot of stuff at a bakery in a rural village in Guatemala one day: sweet stuff, breads and other baked goods. We had a whole basket full of stuff and converted to EUR we payed only about 1.50€ for that.

Especially in the rural areas the opening hours of facilities tend to be quite “flexible”. E.g. in a little town there was a bakery which I frequently visited. Even though the opening times were from 8am-21pm, these specification tended to be rather vague (like +/- 2-3 hours). I once bought something there at around 12pm. I think this relaxed culture has something charming.

It’s quite easy to get to know people and make friends, though from my impression the friendships tend to be more shallow. We ate several times at a certain place and when we went there for the third time the staff (~four people) asked us if we would like to join them on a tour to another beach the next day. In the middle of the week they just spontaneously closed their place down and went on a trip (which we joined). Stuff similar to this happened several times to us. I admired and enjoyed this nice, open and welcoming mentality.

My two fellow travelers mostly eat vegan (or at least vegetarian). One experience which we made was in a very rural town where we arrived late one evening. We just wanted to grab some food before going to bed and went into one of the next restaurants. The guy cooking there was about 20-25 years old and we told him in multiple ways specifically that we don’t want to eat any meat or animal products. He prepared some stuff for us and when he brought it to us there was a certain ingredient which we couldn’t identify. We asked him what it was and described to him again in detail that we wanted vegetarian food. He assured us multiple times that everything was vegetarian. When we looked the ingredient up on the internet some days later it became clear that it was a type of—definitely non-vegetarian—sausage. After thinking about it for some time and talking to other people, I think it is most likely that he had the educational lack of not knowing that sausages come from animals. This lack of education pervades both countries and in my opinion is the reason for a lot of problems there.

In one Mexican village where we stayed there was a cock fight. Even though we didn’t attend you could hear the screams of the animals through the whole town. Incredibly barbaric and residual.

All in all I have a lot of impressions. As described above, good and bad ones. I have only written down a small part of them in this post. I think one of the main reasons for such an enriching journey is that we didn’t do a mainstream trip but were rather flexible and spontaneous and mostly traveled by foreign buses and transport possibilities. It is a really nice feeling to travel in a crowded bus through a rural area whilst being the only foreigners in the bus. We had only booked a flight to Mexico, one hostel for the first night and a flight back some weeks later. Everything else was decided there. In my opinion this is the best way of travelling.
In the case of Mexico my picture of the country before the trip was mainly defined by media coverage on criminality. This has changed now. I feel as if I have gotten a better impression of both countries. Also I feel more comfortable now to return there, after I have seen that the picture in the media does not represent the country in it’s entirety. This may sound like an obvious statement but for me it has much more truth after personally being there.

Besides the photos above I have uploaded some more to my MediaGoblin instance.

Looking back on 2013

Last year a lot of stuff has happened for me. This will be a longer than average article, I am aware that you as a reader might lose interest while reading. However, I consider it as a braindump of stuff I don’t want to forget.

I had been living with four technology-enthusiastic hacker friends in a shared flat for 1-1.5 years. Quite sadly three of them went abroad. The Nerd-WG was an awesome time for me and I often miss the creative environment of the days back then.

In 2013 I eventually managed to finish my Bachelor of Science and start with the Master program. I totally underestimated the safe feeling of holding a finished academic degree. Whatever happens now, I will always have a science degree from a german university. This is very comforting to me.

I worked in several jobs at university. Mostly taking care of practical exercises for lectures. A highlight for me was to be responsible for the entire practicals of a lecture on web technologies together with two friends: Falco and Philipp who also write on the IOException blog. I am quite satisfied with the practicals and think we did a good job on setting up the exercises. We lay a heavy focus on the introduction of up-to-date technologies (node.js amongst others). I also worked as an assistant in two research projects. One is still ongoing and the other one is finished.

From one of the research projects I have been working at, the results have been very nice and we wrote a paper on the topic: “Broken Display = Broken Interface? The Impact of Display Damage on Smartphone Interaction.“. The paper got accepted at the CHI 2014, one of the major conferences in the human-computer-interaction field. For me this is a huge success and I learned a lot while working on the paper/project.

Another publication I was kind enough to receive was the publication of a summary of my bachelor thesis, which was published in the proceedings of the Informatiktage in Bonn (more info).

Creatively I also managed to get a short story published: “The Autograph” was published in The Sparrow Anthology Vol. 7, a poetry and prose collection from the University of Ulm. It’s a real publication, owning an ISBN and available in the german national library. To be honest, I am not that satisfied with the story, it was a very personal piece at a certain time in my life, and now that time has passed I view it differently. That’s why I won’t link it here.

Been to a lot of cities and events. Köln, Berlin, Geneva, Mexico-City, etc.. The event I liked the most was the Humitec Barcamp in Berlin. The city I liked the most was probably Berlin. But I also loved traveling to Geneva to attend the Open Knowledge Conference. There were certain mornings, where I would get up early in the morning, go to a Café/Bakery, sit down and order a bain au chocolat and a coffee. I would then just watch the surroundings, write a bit from time time, read a bit. Watch people coming in, grabbing themselve a quick Espresso at the front counter while standing there. I love to watch a city waking up, just to sit there and feel the flow of the city.

Short movie
Two stuck with me: Momentos is an exceptional example of storytelling. Forget me not stuck because of the photographic composition and musical underlying.

This extreme POV movie of a guy climbing one of the Stalin skyscrapers left me speechless and stands out.

A friend of mine studied Computer Science in a very intense way, received his Diplom and continued to receive a Master degree. He’s for sure one of the most competent computer science people I have gotten to know. However, he decided not to pursue a university career, nor participating in the software business. In this article he gives some insights on why.

This article inspired me to question my view towards intuitive user interfaces in a major way.

Blog Post
Build your own summary tool!” is a blog post on a naive implementation of a text summary algorithm. Since I always believed automatic text summary algorithms are highly complex and need a deep understanding of linguistics, it was quite surprising to see such an easy algorithm yielding surprisingly good results.

Quotes which stuck

Pragmatiker bringen die Welt nicht voran. Sie verbessern nur die Effizienz, nicht aber die Effektivitaet. Sie optimieren auf der gleichen Stufe, steigen aber nicht hinan. Idealisten sind es, die nach der naechsten Stufe streben. Sie denken nicht ans Jetzt sondern ans Morgen. Ihr Fortschritt aendert die Groessenordnung, nicht die Kommastellen, denn sie verfolgen Visionen. Sie stellen den Status Quo in Frage statt fuer ihn zu optimieren.

Markus Schnalke, Softwarebusiness

Sie aber zeigen nur auf das was sie wollen, neuerdings unterstuetzt durch Gesten. Ihre Kommunikation mit dem Computer beschraenkt sich auf die Moeglichkeiten eines Zweijaehrigen, unfaehig zu artikulieren was er meint.

Markus Schnalke, Computer Literacy

In the end programming languages are basically user-interfaces. You will get much better results if you think of it as UI design.

Alan Kay

Intellectual property” implies the belief that people can own and control thoughts. Phrasing it “Immaterial rights” is less wrong.

Peter Sunde

Great minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, small minds discuss people.

Eleanor Roosevelt

The way we talk to our children becomes their inner voice.

Peggy O’Mara

Best purchase
I was lingering for an Ethnotek backpack for a while and in 2013 I finally got one. I am very satisfied and have taken the bag on many journeys to many different cities. It fits my needs very well.

Best music/song/album
The Gil Scott Heron album.
The Oblivion Score, by M83
The Foals have been a highlight as well.

I found Giorgo Morodor talking about his collaboration with Daft Punk quite inspiring:

When I came into the studio everything was ready and I had three microphones and I said “Are they afraid that one microphone would not work?”. So I asked the technician “Why are you using three microphones?”. He said “Okay, you see the one on the left is an old sound of the sixties, one of the seventies and this is today.” “Who would hear the difference?” “Nobody”. So I said “So why is Thomas doing it?”. “Oh he said, HE would hear the difference.”.


Best movie/series
I loved the first season of Elementary—an american adaption of the Sherlock Holmes story. However, things are different here. Sherlock is a tattooed, drug addicted, narcistic, brilliant analytic, working for the police. Dr. Watson is a women who lives with him as a “drug sitter”, in order to make sure he gets clean.

There were several movies which I really liked in 2013. Standing out most are “Rush”, “The Place beyond the Pines” and “Night Train to Lisbon”.

reddit. I visit reddit a lot, not (only) for procrastinating, but rather as a news/information resource on topics which interest me. These are some subreddits which I have subscribed to: /r/Bitcoin, /r/Calligraphy, /r/dataisbeautiful, /r/minimalism, /r/openstreetmap, /r/sewing, /r/typography.

There is a local cinema here in Ulm—the Mephisto—this year it was bought and quite sadly more commercialized. Before it was bought and renovated it was a very small, alternative cinema showing mainly art house movies. Each Monday there would be a sneak night where a lot of students would gather, pay their three euros and see some random movie, which would soon be released. I loved the non-strict atmosphere, nice people everywhere. Even the cashiers were students having a lot of fun. With a friend of mine, Mone, I went there basically each week for about 1.5 years. Met a lot of people there each time and had a very nice time. On Monday the cinema would be full with people, sometimes pillows would be brought in and people would be sitting on the stairs at the sides, because the cinema would be full of people. Even if the movie was shitty, people would have a lot of fun. The atmosphere was very comfortable and the staff would often do little quizzes before starting the movie, giving away little prizes. After the quiz they would throw sweets into the audience and show some funny or dramatic short movie before starting the actual sneak movie.

Best photo
Of a persona? This photo taken by John Mayer. Of infrastructure? This german refinery.

Best photo I shot

I think, I’ll go with this one. I can’t objectively rate the photo, it has a personal meaning to me and I am quite satisfied.

Projects I did
A lot of smaller stuff, some articles for the IOException blog, continued the interview series there. Did some talks, some lightning talks and stuff. I don’t want to list everything here, but my highlights are:

When do students submit their assignments?
Firstname distribution at the University of Ulm

A Twitterwall, showing a stream of tweets on a topic.
An interactive map with open facilities in Ulm (using OpenStreetMap data): oeffnungszeiten.ulmapi.de.
differenziert.net: still didn’t get around to write an elaborate article on the platform, but will do so in the next weeks.

Five years ago I wrote a little website called myPresentIdea, the idea was to give people present-ideas based on a short characterization of the person they wanted to surprise. At that time I sat down and searched for presents, which in my opinion at that time would fit for a person with such a character. For most of the presents I would also display a link to an online-shop (when possible). For the presents linking to amazon I would present an affiliate link, meaning I would get a little monetary reward once somebody would buy the product via amazon. I sat the website up but never really continued working on it. Last year I checked the amazon account and realized there were about 20-25 euros in it. What a nice surprise! At one point I had even forgotten about the site.

I took this as an incentive to completely rewrite the site, it was originally created in PHP using the CakePHP framework and MySQL. The codebase was not that “sophisticated” (e.g. no human readable URIs). Of course it wasn’t sophisticated, I created that project even before studying. It took me about 5-6 hours in its entirety to rewrite the codebase in JavaScript (node.js) using the express and jade libraries.
Actually the whole process was on two train rides which I took on the same day. I went to another city in the morning (a three hour train ride away), spend some time there and took the train back in the evening. I also ditched MySQL and migrated to CouchDB. It was very nice to see how little time stuff like this takes if you are familiar with the technologies. The technology stack I have been working most with in 2013 is definitely node.js, express and CouchDB. Followed by Shell scripting.

The general Open Data activities within the university group we founded here stand out. I finally managed to update the UlmAPI-website with pretty pictures of all the nice stuff we have done (like the OpenCityCamp 2013 and various hackathons which we organized).

I did some illustrations for posters, ads, etc.. A tee I designed for a competition earlier this year was printed as a collection. Together with some friends I drew a comic as a birthday present for another friend. One illustration which I am also very satisfied with is this poster (click to enlarge):

58 T-Shirt contest

Rough plan for 2014
As each year (2012, 2011, 2010) here comes the outlook. I want to contribute code to a bigger (>1 person) software project. I want to get a scholarship. I want to publish more of my creative writings.

On the technological side: I really have to get rid of Ubuntu, this is way too much abstraction for me. I want to have a $ top output, which I actually understand. Arch is the next step. Also finally I want to gain a much deeper understanding of “the Shell”. I consider myself quite familiar with Unix, but in comparison to Phil or Meillo I am still in kids shoes. Also I want to finally get a Unix-style mailclient (mmh) and start learning troff.

Informatiktage 2013 in Bonn

I spent the last few days in Bonn at the Informatiktage 2013. The event was quite nice and I got the opportunity to meet some interesting people. I attended a two-day workshop by a big tool manufacturers IT manager. The workshop was about scalability and shifting some non-crititcal components into “the cloud”. Though I am quite sceptical about the cloud-thingy, the workshop held quite some insights for me. The thing that stuck most with me was their strict implementation of the design principle “design for failure and nothing will fail“.

As part of the event a three-page paper/summarization of my bachelor thesis was published within the proceedings (first time something of me got published — yay!) and I held a poster session (the poster is linked below). For me, the exchange with other students/activists/hackers is very important. Often just simple thoughts or hints on technologies I didn’t know about, inspire new ideas and projects. During the last 2-3 year I have attended a lot of meetups, BarCamps and other events and I took something from each of them.

Travelling through Scotland


For three weeks in August I have been traveling through Scotland with five friends, though not all could stay until the end. For the first week we stayed in Edinburgh to visit the Fringe Festival — a broad cultural event where the whole city gets occupied by artists, bands and comedians. Every last room is used to run shows and you see awesome costumes on the street each day. The event was very nice and the city is quite awesome.

Universities: We have been to the university in Edinburgh quite a few times and we have spent some days in Glasgow. I really like the look of the universities in those two cities, they totally remind me of the Harry Potter movies (see for yourself). Also I found Eduroam to be quite a valuable technology! Opposed to Ulm, the university in Edinburgh is distributed over the whole city — which also means as a student you have internet access via Eduroam in a lot of places.

After the week in Edinburgh we rented a small car and went on a roadtrip through Scotland. This turned out to be a really good decision. We would never ever have seen such a large part of the country without a car. So for two weeks we traveled through Scotland, visiting different isles and distilleries, doing a lot of wild camping and sometimes staying at various hostels. As we have neatly evaluated the perfect score for driving through the highlands is the Game of Thrones Theme.

At one point we left the car, took our tents and stuff with us and wandered into the nature. The nature! Beautiful, stunning nature! The law in Scotland in case of wild camping differs very much from Germany, in general you are allowed to camp wherever you want as long as you leave no trash, disturb nobody, don’t stay for months and don’t camp directly near a house.

Whisky. I already liked Whisky before travelling Scotland, but man, after those three weeks I am _so_ into Whisky. For me the best Whisky this year was the Lagavulin, 16 year old, Single Malt from the beautiful Isle of Islay. During our Scotland trip we have been to different distilleries, Lagavulin and Laphroaig amongst others.

The three weeks are filled with nice memories and the photos above only give a small glimpse on this time.

About Me

I am a 28 year old techno-creative enthusiast who lives and works in Berlin. In a previous life I studied computer science (more specifically Media Informatics) at the Ulm University in Germany.

I care about exploring ideas and developing new things. I like creating great stuff that I am passionate about.


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