Thursday, January 31, 2008

What to do, what to do...

Today during my breakfast (12 a.m.) I finished the last currently available Scrubs episode (S07E06). I managed to watch all the episodes starting from the very beginning since I got back to Vienna after the holidays. That's ~150 episodes in less than 4 weeks, quite impressive, ey?

And now I have no idea which series to move on to. During dinner I watched some Friends, but having seen most of the episodes at least 3 or 4 times it's simply not that entertaining anymore. At the same time it seems useless to wait for the next Scrubs or Aliens in America episodes due to the writer's strike in Hollywood. What to do, what to do?

At the moment I'm thinking about going back to watching "6 Feet Under" which I had previously seen during my first year here in Vienna, though I don't know how many seasons I watched back then.

It's weird, before moving to Vienna I hadn't watched any TV series for quite a long time (with the notable exception of Friends of course). I think the main reason why I started watching more stuff was that I was looking for some kind of routine while eating dinner. At the beginning I caught myself eating while working on the computer a couple of times and apart from the fact that I don't like spaghetti sauce on my keyboard it simply doesn't seem to make any sense. Dinner had been reduced to mere food consumption and I didn't like that. So to turn this into more of a ritual I started watching TV series while I was eating. And I haven't stopped since. I found it to be the perfect time for enjoying 20~40min episodes plus I noticed that it actually helped me to eat slower (which is also supposed to be healthier or so I hear).

Anyway, I guess I'll have to start looking for a new series because those weekly video-podcasts, Scrubs and Aliens in America updates won't keep me entertained for long.

And now I'm off to the Smashing Pumpkins concert! :-)

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

So Far Away

"It's you that I adore
You'll always be my whore
(Smashing Pumpkins - Ava Adore)

Those were the lyrics I was listening to while I was riding home from a meeting with a friend on one of those cool (and free!) City Bikes that we have here in Vienna. I'm currently listening to a lot of Smashing Pumpkins in preparation for going to their concert on Thursday evening, incidently also the day of my last exam, so that shall be quite the night.

Anyway, the reason why I'm calling this entry "So Far Away" is that tonight was another one of those moments that made me realize that I'll be spending a lot of time away from my friends (and vice-versa) in the years to come. The occasion today was saying good-bye to a friend who's heading to Santiago de Chile next week for his joint-study-exchange. Another friend will also be heading to Barcelona next week to spend several months working there as part of an EU-sponsored programm. One of my closest friends is currently on Erasmus in Cadiz and will get back in mid-February.

Having many close friends who enjoy travelling and living in other places as much as I do certainly doesn't seem like a disadvantage at first. Especially since every time we meet someone is able to tell one story or another that happened in Granada, Jerusalem, Nizza, Buenos Aires or elsewhere. Combine that with the fact that I tend to spend quite a lot of time outside of Austria myself (8 1/2 weeks in 2007 if I'm not mistaken) and with an outstanding chance for an internship in *cough* *cough* starting in *cough* *cough* (details will be mentioned in due time;-) and it's already starting to be hard to really meet up with people. Hell, in some cases it takes 6 weeks of planning ahead to arrange for something simple (yet delicious) such as going to a cocktail bar with one of my best friends (incidently she's currently spending some time in Israel).

What am I trying to say here? Well, honestly I'm not quite sure. It's hard to be able to complain about knowing awesome people who spend a lot of time making great experiences in places that are 'far away' when you're such a person yourself. However I do have to admit that sometimes I wish people spent more time 'at home' so it would be easier to meet up with them.

Anyway, it's getting late and I shall have to get up in 4 hours...

Monday, January 28, 2008

Algorithms and Data Structures

While I'm sitting here in one of my favourite places in Vienna, the Blue Orange Café which is very close to both university and my flat (Google Maps Link, in case anyone is interested) I can't stop thinking about algorithms and data structures. Yes, I know that's odd! But let me explain.

I've got an exam coming up in 'Algorithms and Data Structures 2' later this week and I've spent most of today studying for it. So far I've mainly dealt with text-search and randomized algorithms, more specifically things such as the Miller-Rabin primality test, randomized quicksort and skip lists. And I'm actually enjoying it!

Now the weird thing is that my interests when it comes to my studies and computer science / information and comunication technology in general are oddly distributed. While I'm generally mostly interested in the 'big' topics such as how ICT influences society (and vice-versa) and usability issues, I also have a thing for topics such as theoretical informatics, cryptography and (you guessed it) algorithms and data structures. At the same time I'm also really into hands-on projects such as the One Laptop per Child initiative. Plus I've spent much of my free time these past few years reviewing hardware and writing for technology-related online-publications such as, and And looking into my future I can see all kinds of different projects and research (possibly even jobs, but let's not go there) being interesting ventures worth pursuing.

I guess in the end that's one of the things I like best about being a student: the luxury of choice, all kinds of resources at my hands (don't get me wrong, I love Google just like the next guy but there's something about sitting in an actual library and having all those interesting books, thesis, publications and magazines at my disposal) and access to smart people such as my collegues and professors.

So, 'nuff said for now, my coffee mug is empty, plus the BS-talkin' couple sitting next to me is getting on my nerves. Algorithms and Data Structures, here I come again... :-)

BTW, did anyone else notice the cool Google logo today?

Happy birthday Lego!

VIA Isaiah CPU Architecture

I spent most of my evening (well, it's actually 4 a.m. 'round here) writing a up my thoughts on VIA Technologies' announcement about their upcoming Isaiah CPU Architecture. Of all the 900+ news-items that I have published on this is definitely amongst the most extensive ones I've ever written!

Here's a short teaser:

"...I do believe that Isaiah has the potential to be a strong platform for VIA to build on over these coming years. As The Inq puts it the "…CN appears to be a good starting point…" and I can only agree with that. While 64-bit computing still hasn't really caught on in the mainstream-market I certainly see it being a requirement a few years down the road. The fact that multi-core Isaiahs are an option also shows that Centaur designed a relatively flexible platform which can be enhanced in the future. Plus the inclusion of Intel's VTX specifications for Virtual Machines indicates that VIA and Centaur believe this will also be an important feature, especially in the server and appliance market. The technical features are certainly there to allow for great processors, now it's important that VIA also nails the price and availability of Isaiah-based products!"

You can read the complete article here...

Friday, January 18, 2008

Sexy Geeks (The ones also known as marriage material)

I've been meaning to post this for quite some time but I never found the time to actually go ahead and do it. Especially since posting all that CES 2008 related news on has kept me busy this past week, not to mention university-related work.

When I normally think of the word "geek" it takes me quite a while to come up with a connection to the word "sexy". (After drawing a complicated graph and applying several even more complicated algorithms I came up with the following solution: geek - computers - ICT tradeshows - Computex - booth babes - sexy.) So every time such a connection is made I can't help but smile. And seeing that I like workarounds, hacks, cheats and especially lists just like the next geek I couldn't help but enjoy reading the following two blog-entries:

"Top 5 Female Hackers in Film History" []: Just having watched Transformers on the flight from London to Washington (and hating the film because it sucks so much) I can certainly agree with Maggie Madsen being one hell of a cool hacker. Seeing more of her would have certainly made that movie less painful! I don't really care too much about the choice #4 through #2 but I was certainly surprised when I learned that Kate Libby in "Hackers" was played by Angelina Jolie, talk about a lack of knowledge!

"top ten sexy geeks 2007" []: Now of course I have to admit that this list really made my day when I read it. The main connection to the top 5 list above is the fact that Leah Culver is amongst those top ten sexy geeks. Having stumbled across Leah via Pownce (- Kevin Rose - Diggnation - Video podcasts) I certainly have to agree that she is very cute. And while I couldn't care less about the male geeks showing up on that list it's definitely good that I scrolled down to the end of the page because sexy geek #1 is definitely a stunning person: Veronica Belmont. I remember the first time I saw her on CrankyGeeks I was thinking to myself "oh my God, who is that?"

Now of course the obvious question is: Why aren't there more of these women around the Vienna University of Technology? I mean honestly, what's sexier than a smart and good lookin' female geek?

OLPC Activity Handbook

I think I previously mentioned that Daniel, Helga and me are currently working on the so-called "Activity Handbook". To quote myself from the introduction of the handbook:

"The purpose of this handbook is to provide you with all the information you need in
order to get started with software development for the OLPC XO."

Last weekend we managed to finish the first few chapters and we therefore decided to post the activity handbook over on the OLPC Austria website. Currently there are two downloads available, the first pdf is optimized for printing purposes (with alternating margins, etc.) while the second one is meant for regular viewing.

We're working on cleaning up the DocBook files (basically the source-code of the book) so we can also make them available to the community. This will enable people to contribute by submitting corrections, additional information and extra chapters in the form of patches. Therefore the whole project is very open and we encourage anyone to contribute to it! We're already working on the next chapters and we're also integrating some of the outstanding feedback that we've gotten from other OLPC Austria members.

This is definitely one of the most interesting projects I've ever been involved in and while it's a lot of hard work I'm having a great time doing it. I'm really learning a lot along the way and it's fun to learn Python while also spending a lot of time thinking about how to come up with a readable and useful documentation.

Stay tuned for updates in the future!

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Friday, January 4, 2008

Videos from the OLPC Learning Club DC Holiday Meetup

Here are two videos that Mike Lee took during the Holiday Meetup of the OLPC Learning Club DC on December, 19th.

(1) Bryan Berry from OLE Nepal talking about the challenges in Nepal:

(2) Aaron and me talking about OLPC Austria and what we've been up to:

Bryan's talk was extremely interesting and I hope that people also enjoyed our short presentation... Personally I certainly had a great night there at the Mayorca Cafe in Washington, DC!

P.S. In case you haven't heard about the OLPC Austria's XO Laptop Bag, check out this short OLPC Austria's XO Laptop Bag infomercial:

Sorry, I'm only now realizing that the videos a slightly too wide for the layout I'm using... :-(

CrankyGeeks Episode 97 - Must See!

Even if you're only remotely interested in technology journalism I'd absolutely recommend you to watch the Episode 97 of my favourite video-podcast: CrankyGeeks! It's an outstanding and very interesting discussion about the current state of technology-journalism and I agree with most of the observations made. Definitely a Must See!