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Württemberg

My State, 'Baden-Württemberg', is the result of a fusion of the former 'Duchy of Baden' and the 'Kingdom of Württemberg' in 1953. Stuttgart is the capital of the 'new' state, and it's been the capital of the former Kingdom of Württemberg. That means "we won". And it also means that the Badener (= the people of Baden) don't like us because of that. But that's a different story...

My BF and I went to the Württemberg, a mountain in Stuttgart that is named like our state (in German "Berg" means 'mountain'). It was the place where the 'Burg Wirttemberg' ("Burg" means 'castle') was located from 1080 to 1819. It was the family seat of our sovereigns.

Grabkapelle auf dem Württemberg

In 1820, King Wilhelm I had the castle demolished to build a mausoleum for his dead wife Queen Katharina. The mausoleum is still there, so the BF and I went there to see it.

Grabkapelle auf dem Württemberg

It was a nice day with snow and sun, and we had a very nice time there together.

Grabkapelle auf dem Württemberg

This is the view from the Württemberg to Rotenberg, a suburban district of Stuttgart

Blick vom Württemberg

And this is my boyfriend trying to walk a heart-shaped trail into the snow. ;-)

Walk a heart

Video killed the radio star

... and my last radio show killed the rest. Well, last time I was on air was quite strange. I've never done a show all alone. Usually my co-host Thomas and I are hosting the shows together. And after 5 years we're a brilliant and very entertaining team, and our shows are interessting and good. Last Sunday, however, it was strange. First time all alone for two hours. I guess my show was quite boring and somehow too serious. And it was so strange, no buddy to have some jokes, no interaction ...
I was happy when the time was over, and I realized that I would stop doing the radio shows if my co-host would quit. The rest in our team does their shows alone. How boring must that be. I always knew, doing it together is more fun. But, I have to say, I now appreciate having a on-air-partner like I never did before...

"We're so lucky" a drama in 2 acts

Act One:
small court room in a fictional rural village
Plaintiff: He stole my car.
Defendant: Yes, I stole his car. It's a nice car.
Judge: In the name of the people the court issues the following judgement: The defendant is found guilty of car theft. However, he likes the car and since he hasn't complaint about the car, he can keep it. The plaintiff has to bear the expenses of the trial, and has to gas-up his the defendants car. An appeal against the decision is impossible.

Act Two:
Federal Constitutional Court of a Western European country
Judge: The election of the Federal Parliament (hence, the government) in 2005 was carried out in some states in a way that is clearly against the Federal Constitution. However, the poll is still valid, and all dangerous and evil laws made by the parliament will stay valid.

Epilogue:
While act one was pure fiction and its absurdity is quite obvious, act two's absurdity is reality in Germany a country that better remains anonymous.

Using Linux. A resume.

It must have been around 1996 when I became very curious about that Linux thingy. Back then, computers at home where still quite uncommon, and Linux not as popular as it is today. I read some Linux magazines, and finally bought a Slackware Linux on (many) CDs and installed it.

I was quite experienced with using and installing Windows and even DOS, because I had my first computer when I was very young and Windows didn't even exist, neither did Linux. But all my experiences with DOS and Windows were useless while installing and using Slackware Linux. Some things didn't really work (my fault), and I was examining and messing around with everything without really knowing what I did, so I installed and destroyed it many times. But at that time it was just out of curiosity. I never used it productively or worked on it.

In 1997 I met Ray, and we rented a nice office together with two other friends, and we created custom-taylored software solutions for different companies. By the way, Ray is also the one who made me learn Perl. I'm thankful for all eternities he made me learn it, and thus becomming a very advanced perl guru. He also introduced me to SuSE Linux which we were using on all our computers at the office.

Then I bought my first laptop computer. It was a used one and it had Windows95 pre-installed when I got it. But at the office the first thing I did was installing a SuSE Linux as the sole operating system on it. It must have been version 5.2. Back then there was no OpenSUSE, and I bought some releases and spent some money on it. You know, back then there was no high speed internet at home, downloading a Linux CD would have lasted many hours or even days. You had to buy CDs. It was not that I used Linux because it doesn't cost anything like it does nowadays, I used it because I was curious and knew it is more powerful, and I was willing to spend some hundred dollars on SuSE releases and books. But my private desktop PC at home was still mainly running Windows.

Then I went to university and got a ReadHat release as a gift at a RedHat event. I installed it at home, but not really liked it. At the same time somewhere at the end of 1999 I got hold of a Debian GNU/Linux, and it was just amazing. Setting it up was more difficult than with SuSE or RedHat, but its structure was clearer, its package management is superior to all others, and the Debian community was really free. There wasn't a company in the backround that pulled the strings and wanted to earn some money out of it like with SuSE or RedHat. I also tried many other distributions since then (Mandrake, Caldera, Turbolinux, Gentoo, ...), but Debian was just the bestest (sic!).

During college on a side job as administrator at a boat cruise vacation company, I had the task to test if the 50 workstations in the office can be switched to GNU/Linux because it is free (as in free beer). For me there was no doubt, it has to be Debian, but I just found a brand new distribution called Ubuntu. I tried its current release, which was also the first Ubuntu ever released. I couldn't see a big difference to Debian, so I rather sticked to Debian and tested that. But my boss decided to stick with Windows and throwing his money down the drain.

However, I still had my old Laptop which only had GNU/Linux on it, and a dual boot PC at my desk at home which didn't boot into GNU/Linux often after I saw Windows XP, which I liked at that time. For all the years I had a dual boot with Debian, but hardly used it. All work was done on Windows, and in 2005 I removed the Debian partition to get more space. I was a Windows guy all over again. Well, not to mention the MacBook I also own that runs OS X.

But then there came Windows Vista (which I really hate(d), by the way), and a new job with a Ubuntu workstation. And Ubuntu is just great. Beeing an offspring of Debian, it has all the features that I loved in Debian, but doesn't have the issues I had with Debian (quite outdated software versions in the stable release).

September 2007 after bravely using Vista for 6 weeks on a new computer, which really sucked big time (Vista sucks, not the new computer), I decided to replace Vista with Kubuntu GNU/Linux and use it exclusively. It was easy to set up, actually much easier and faster than setting up windows. And also MUCH easier than setting up other Distros (believe me, I've been through many GNU/Linux installations before, but no other was remotely as smooth and painless as this). But it was the first time in my life where I really used GNU/Linux for everything, not having a Windows as a backup.

So, now it's been about 16 months with only GNU/Linux, both on my desktop PC and my new laptop PC (and even on my cell phone). The first few days after the cut were hard, I had to learn many things from scratch. And learning a lot about new applications for different tasks. But here's my resume for the last 16 months with GNU/Linux:

  • The first few days were difficult. I was on cold turkey. But I didn't regret switching to GNU/Linux for a single second. The only thing I'm regretting quite often is that it took me 10 years from my first contact with GNU/Linux to using it exclusively. I always knew it's the better thing, but I always found a fake reason for not switching.
  • If you're in the same situation like I was: Just do it. Switch to GNU/Linux. And never look back.
  • There are many people who want to make you believe that you have to be an computer expert to use GNU/Linux. Well, it might have been true a while ago, but currently any noob can install and use it. In fact, if I needed to set up a computer for granny who has never used a computer before, I would use GNU/Linux and tweak it for her. Yes, I can do it, I can make it suitable for retired old people. I can do it because GNU/Linux gives me the freedom and the opportunities, not because I'm uber-smart. And I would know it would be a loyal and indestructable companion for her. She couldn't destroy it by clicking on a wrong button, and I know she wouldn't catch a virus, a trojan horse, a dialer, or whatever. And I know it would just work.
  • When I sit at a Windows Computer now (at friends), I get angry very fast. I'm not used on to the restrictions and uncomplete functionality anymore. During everything I do I think "this task would be SOOO easy on a Linux box". I can't believe I was able to endure this immature and lame Windows for so many years. I can't believe anybody else can. Well, maybe every Windows user endures it because he doesn't know how easy it could be done otherwise...
  • GNU/Linux does many things different. And you need to learn a little bit about it before you can benefit from its advantages. But its worth the effort. Totally.
  • I like that everything just works without installing additional drivers. Since I use Kubuntu I have real plug'n'play. Printer, webcam, SLR, mass storage devices, cell phone, bluetooth sticks, ISDN fax, UMTS networking, whathaveyou. I stick it in and it just works. Period. I don't need the driver CDs anymore that come with every product. I know, not every hardware works with GNU/Linux. But I've been lucky so far--and I tried many different devices. They all just worked. Many of those didn't work on vista though. Not even after installing their drivers manually.
  • I love the package manager (apt). Installing and removing software has never been easier. And no matter what software I need, it's always the same way to install it and to remove it again. Couldn't be simpler. I love that my system keeps itself up to date with the package manager. It fixes all vulnerabilities automatically and usually just a very short little while after they become known. And by upgrading the software automatically I can be sure to have a recent system with all components working together without any problems. And all this for the operating system itself, and also for all applications that I've installed. I love it, love it, love it.
  • Don't expect GNU/Linux to be a substitute for Windows. GNU/Linux is another philosophy. GNU/Linux is all about freedom and choice. Many can't imagine or understand what this means. I didn't either. But now I know, I've seen the light. And I see restrictions and contraints in proprietary products everywhere. And I can't any longer understand how they're getting away with it. I can't understand why a company should decide what I can or can't do. Shouldn't this be my descision?

Rian, The Unexercised Movie Critic

I've extensively been bugging all my real life friends about this. They can't stand it any longer. So I thought that I give it a try here ... ;-)

A few weeks ago the BF and I went to see a movie. It was a sneak preview, so we didn't know what we had to expect. At the same evening, right after the movie, I said that I wasn't really sure whether the movie is a shiny gem, or rather strange. After a few hours of sleep and some reading about the movie, I finally realized that it's definitely among the best movies I've ever seen. Maybe it's even taking the lead. It's a precious jewel of cinematics. A real masterpiece. "Two thumbs way up", like the New York Times would say.

It's not yet regularly scheduled in the movie theaters in Germany, but it will have it's official premiere in March. I'm sure I will see it again a few times at the movie theater. And I will buy the DVD. Although it has to be seen on a laaaaarge screen. In the USA it might already have been in the cinemas a few years ago.

Anyway, time to spill the beans. The title of this extraordinary movie is The Fall. You have to, I repeat, h-a-v-e t-o visit the homepage and watch at least the trailer and the gallery after reading my post.

What makes this movie so special, you may ask.
I will tell you:

1. The Visual Experience - The director Tarsem Singh shot this film in 18 countries around the world at the most beautiful locations he could find in many years of traveling. Most (or all?) of the locations haven't been used as scenery of a movie ever before. Be prepared to see a fantasy world, that actually really exists: mystic temples, bright deserts, and blooming landscapes. And also the handsome actors, the remarkable costumes, and the feast of colors and the composition of each picture and scene. It's just utterly beautiful. It's the purest form of beauty. I would sell my soul to shoot just one picture like any scene in this movie.
I think I got some multiple orgasms in my eyes just by watching the beautiful visual compositions in each scene. And the excellent music adds up to it and made me shiver in pleasure for almost the entire movie.

2. The Story - Picture this, California, 1915. Alexandria (played by six year old Catinca Untaru) is in a hospital because she broke her arm. She meets Roy (Lee Pace), a stuntman whose latest stunt went wrong, who might never be walking again, and whose girlfriend left him for somebody else. He tells her an epic story, a story about love and revenge. His intentions aren't as altruistic as one might think...

3. The Two Levels - There are two stories in this film. The reality, and the story told by Roy. It's a pleasure to see how the two worlds interact, and how elements of the real world slip into the fictional story.

4. The Actors - I read that six year old Catinca Untaru was told that Lee Pace is really paralyzed. They didn't have written dialogs. They just knew what should happen, but the dialogs itself "just happened". Catinca couldn't speak English before they started with the movie. All this together adds up to the unique, natural and brilliant dialogs in the movie. Classy.

6. It IS Special - Simply said, it just IS a gem, and you should watch it. As soon as possible. If you can, watch it on a big screen at a movie theater. You won't regret it, I promise.

I know some of you are lazy (what other reason could there be that I have many returning readers (some stop by every day), but just little comments), so I've added the trailer to this post. But do yourself a favor. Visit the homepage www.thefallthemovie.com and also watch the gallery.

Excitement
Entertainment
Esthetics
Overall

Wedding at New Year's Eve

Berliner Dom

There's something I wanted to tell you. My BF and I did something crazy at New Year's Eve. No, not what you were thinking. We went to Berlin for a few days, and we stayed in the district Wedding. We celebrated New Year's Eve at the biggest party in Europe: in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, the capital of Germany.

Brandenburger Tor

The Brandenburg Gate probably is for Germany like the Statue of Liberty for the USA. Around this Gate there were more than one Million celebrating New Year's Eve. That's about twice as much people than inhabitants of Washington DC.

Berlin Alexanderplatz

During the day we've been at the famous Alexanderplatz, and also were on top of the TV tower and enjoyed the view of the city.

Rotes Rathaus Berlin


This is the Rotes Rathaus (Red City Hall), where the major of Berlin works. By the way, he's gay and coined the now famous words "I'm gay and it's okay" (German: "Ich bin schwul und das ist gut so").

Before we went to the big party, we had some sleep in our hotel room. After that we put on all clothes we had, because it was very cold outside. We met a very nice straight couple in the crowed and celebrated together with them. They were very nice, it was a very pleasant start into the new year.

Gedächtniskirche Berlin

The picture above is in the Gedächtniskirche, which has been severly damaged during world war II. This is the only part that's still existing. It's also a famous landmark in Berlin.

These stones mark where the Berin Wall was before 1989. Right next to the wall there is the Reichstag, it's where our parliament does an awful awesome job.

Escape Madness

I stumpled upon something funny at work today. It might help being a fellow programmer to consider this being funny. It took some time today to come up with a solution ...

Task: Change a path in a text file during a build process using the java build tool ant.

Solution: Use a Regular Expression to scan the text file and replace the value.

This is where the madness begins: You need to escape a backslash. Probably multiple times ...

20 = 1
The path contains one backslash:
C:\my\path

21 = 2
You need to escape the \ in the properties file, it should read:
my.path=C:\\my\\path

22 = 4
If you want to print the Path in a Java String (which ant more or less uses), you need to escape each \ with \\, that becomes:

"C:\\\\my\\\\path"

23 = 8
If you want to put that in a regular expression, you need to escape each \ with \\, which will lead to:
"C:\\\\\\\\my\\\\\\\\path"

24 = 16
This expression should be generated by another regular expression, so each \ needs to be replaced with \\, hence:
"C:\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\my\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\path"

25 = 32
Put the thing into an build.xml file for ant, you you'll end up with 32 (thirty two!!!) backslashes to have one in the end. Without escaping 1 (one) backslash with 16 backslashes (written as 32, because each one of those 16 needs to be escaped), it won't work:

<propertyregex br="" 
    property="jboss.dir.escaped">             
    input="${$jboss.dir}" regexp="\\"
    replace="\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\"
    global="true"/>
<replaceregexp br="" 
    match="(?<=jboss.local.dir=).*$"
    replace="${jboss.dir.escaped}" 
    flags="gm">
        <!-- yadda, yadda, yadda -->
</replaceregexp>


Now that's efficiency. Thanks a lot, java folks.

Things like that never happen to me in perl. Oh dear perl, I really love you. For a reason.


Christmas Season

First Advent

I really love Christmas Season, with all the christmas markets, the warm colors and all the joy. Last weekend the BF and I had a great time together, enjoying the holiday spirit.

Stuttgart is colorful

Yesterday at around 5pm (jebus, sun goes down early these days) we've been strolling around in the city, heading to a café for some heavy double choclate fudge cake and some coffee, we came across these shop windows and I just liked them.

Before that, the BF and I had a very nice walk in the snowy sub-suburban outskirts of Stuttgart. Or, to say it differently, in the haunted forests of nowhere. We came past some teeny-weeny ancient castles hidden in the forests, used by our former Kings as hunting seats. It was a very pleasant day together, and we had much fun in the white winter-wonder land, with all the snow on the trees. And also with the glassy trails on the way back to the city, where the warmth of the café reimbursed us for the frostbites and the starvation we had to endure in the enchanted and endless forests of our beloved former Kings.

A star is born ...

In the city they're quite busy preparing the christmas market, that will open to the public in three days. It's one of the biggest christmas markets in Germany, and it exists for about 350 years. Looking forward to having some mulled wine and sugarroasted almonds...

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