Julian’s Blog

This is my place for long-form writing on technology, academia, games, and whatever else I may be thinking about. It was relaunched in 2023 including most of my prior blog-style writing from various different places, so the archive may look a bit disjointed in tone. For more rigorous and peer-reviewed writing, see my academic publications. You can also get a list view of this blog.

Daily Rucks: The How and Why

January 28th, 2024

As of this writing, I have just publicly launched my Daily Rucks ActivityPub bot based on Python/Flask. As usual, there is a project page on my website with a brief description and statement of purpose, but since this project is part of a longer journey, I figure it’s a good opportunity to talk a bit more about where this is coming from and where I’m intending for it to go in the future.

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Generating Worms-style Terrain with Simplex Noise

July 26th, 2023

Have you ever played any of the classic 2D Worms games? I enjoyed a number of hectic battles in Worms Armageddon back in the day, but I was always more fascinated by the game’s randomly generated landscapes than by its combat mechanics. A game map in one of those early games might look something like this:

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Another Blog Resurrection, the Fediverse, and a New Comment System

June 30th, 2023

I thought there wouldn't be another “I have a blog again” post on here, and if I'd just quietly put it back online, I promise I wouldn't be publishing one. But since this iteration of my blog now sports a new commenting system that pulls comments from the fediverse, I should at least write up a few paragraphs about that before I set time aside for deep-dive posts on other topics.

Before that though, a very short history of this blog: my previous blog ran from 2010 until 2015 and mostly featured posts about my undergrad studies, with an extensive article series detailing the week-by-week progress on my first bachelor thesis, as well as loosely related topics from the realm of programming and computer science. For this version of the blog, I brought back almost all previous posts of mine (with very few exceptions that amounted to now-obsolete product ads) and translated everything into English that used to be available only in German.

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Moving from GitHub to Self-hosted Git Repositories: My Journey

August 29th, 2022

This website functions sort of like a work portfolio, where I show off the things I do. Since one of the things I make is software, I have project showcases for my homemade software tools, large and small. I see my personal website as an opportunity to be a craftsman without deadlines, to come up with solutions that are fun to me even if they're not the most efficient way, and to have everything under one roof if I can. I have moved my stuff that used to be distributed on services like SlideShare, Scribd and YouTube all onto my website.

For the last few years, the only major holdout was my open source code on GitHub. This post is about my considerations and goals for moving from GitHub to self-hosted Git repositories, possible solutions I considered, the solution I ended up going with, and how I integrated it into my existing website design. It's about a mixture of self-hosting, service integration and web development. I hope some of you will find it interesting.

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Game Review: Sweetest Monster

February 13th, 2017

No matter how rewarding it can be much of the time, a full family life comes with its own hardships, especially as the years wear on. Routine can smother the spark, if no effort is made to keep it alive. The protagonist of this story feels unloved and abandoned, his wife argues with him day in and day out, his daughter avoids him altogether. So when a pretty young girl appears, seemingly out of nowhere, and offers him a new perspective, will his familial loyalty manage to subdue his base desires?

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Quoting Online Sources: An Example Case

November 25th, 2016

While doing research for UrbanLife+ and my own dissertation, I came across the book “Patterns in Game Design” by Staffan Björk and Jussi Holopainen a while back, which I thought would help me avoid ontological headaches: it's basically a reference book that provides definitions for all sorts of established terms from the field of game design.

Unfortunately, it proved difficult to get my hands on the book. It is no longer in print and used copies are only available at high prices. I therefore wrote to the first author asking for advice.

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Game Review: Lucy -The Eternity She Wished For-

June 15th, 2016

The steady advance of technological progress has brought us many unforeseen challenges. With robotics and AI slowly but surely encroaching on what we used to think of as uniquely human, we are confronted with the question of what makes us so special and on what basis we deem ourselves superior to the intelligent beings we create. Take this cerebral topic and intermingle it with some comedy, drama and romance, and what you get is one of the most promising indie VN releases of the year.

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Game Review: Cursed Sight

December 21st, 2015

The fundamental question behind the concept of fate is as old as storytelling itself. Do we truly forge our own path through the causality of the universe, or are we beholden to some kind of unknowable higher order? And if the universe is set on a specific course, maybe someone can steer it?

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Game Review: Over the Hills and Far Away

September 18th, 2015

When you're traveling through a war zone on foot during a storm, you tend to not be very picky when an opportunity to find shelter presents itself. This is how one wounded former soldier, having abandoned his comrades during one of North America's many formative wars in the early 1800s, winds up in a shed together with a young Native American girl waiting out the storm. The shared experience is sure to tear down some of the cultural barriers between them, but will others be too sturdy to be toppled just like that?

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Using DOSBox and emscripten to Put Old Games onto the Web

August 28th, 2015

Back in January of this year, the Internet Archive published their interactive DOS game library, allowing anyone to play old games that used to run on MS-DOS machines right in their browser, without the need for any plug-in or external software. This was very inspiring to me and reminded me of the time when I took my first steps in the world of programming using Turbo Pascal and compiling for DOS. Naturally, I made games in it.

I made a mental note to check out the underlying technology, but in January I was knee-deep in the process of finishing my master's thesis (followed by a move and a new job), so the “DOS in my browser” thing went somewhere near the bottom of my priority list.

In early June I dedicated a weekend to finally figuring that stuff out, which culminated in me adding a playable version of Revelation Mentis to my website. The way I first learned programming was by taking existing source code (typically little games) and tinkering with it, first changing values, then single instructions, then larger blocks of code. RM is notable in my personal history for being the first game (as well as the first non-trivial program) that I created on my own and completely from scratch, so it seemed like a good candidate for something to put on my website for posterity.

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Game Review: Ame no Marginal

July 8th, 2015

Rain. It's more than just a phenomenon that exists in our world. Going back to the very cradle of humankind, the rain has been our companion wherever we have gone. Sometimes it has been appreciated, other times tolerated, but never has it really been friend or foe, just always a companion. If you've ever wandered the streets during a downpour, fallen asleep to the pattering of the droplets, or smelled the sticky and humid air after a summer thunderstorm, you know that we humans get rain. We understand it on a level where not much else can compare. It's no wonder then, that a story about a world that has nothing but rain and an endless amount of time does not take long to bloom. What is life without death, what is yearning without salvation? Can rain wash away sin just like dirt?

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Game Review: eden*

June 13th, 2015

If you knew that the world was going to end soon, how would you want to spend your remaining time? What would change for you, how would your priorities shift? Assuming you'd find an opportunity to escape, would you choose a future of perpetual narrow walls and cramped spaces over a short time of ultimate freedom followed by certain doom?

For the people living in the world of eden*, these questions are no longer abstract.

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Game Review: Narcissu 1st & 2nd

April 25th, 2015

This is a story of disease and suffering; of medication and adverse effects; of thoracotomy scars and cellular poisons; of the living who cannot help but to die and of the dying who cannot help but to live; of a resting place other than “on 7F” or “at home.”

Usually I would start a review with some sort of story hook, an attempt to use my own words to evoke the kind of atmosphere you can expect from the full experience, something to show you at a glance whether it could really speak to you or whether you would not connect with it at all. In the case of Narcissu 1st & 2nd, I feel that no matter how long I try, I will not be able to top the original summary by Insani (quoted above and throughout this review), the fan translation group that first brought Narcissu to English-speaking audiences. Instead I will just quote their writing where appropriate and just dive straight into the facts myself.

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Game Review: Hate Plus

March 2nd, 2015

Most of us take it for granted that our society is getting ever more liberal. Our parents were more tolerant, inclusive and equal than their parents, and we are yet more tolerant than they. There's no telling whose rights our children will one day fight for, or even their children. But if you look at various cultures throughout history, there are actually many instances of relatively egalitarian societies slowly morphing into socially stratified class systems, often drastically reducing the quality of life for a large segment of the population. Few people talk about the fact that this is something that can happen, and even fewer talk about why.

This is just one of the many uncomfortable questions that Hate Plus, the sequel to Analogue: A Hate Story, raises.

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Game Review: Analogue: A Hate Story

January 10th, 2015

What would you do if you were to wake up tomorrow, having been thrust into a completely foreign society? Being greeted by your “new family” who tell you what to say, what to think and even how to feel in order to not violate their social norms? Being told that your identity, the place you carved out for yourself in the world, is long forgotten, but that they already have a new role good and ready for you? That your dreams no longer matter?

This fate, among many others, is one of the gears in the complex machinery that would end up removing all traces of life from humanity's great hope, the huge pioneer starship Mugunghwa, in Analogue: A Hate Story.

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Game Review: Oblivious Garden ~Carmina Burana

December 29th, 2014

You are a proud and successful military general, you have won many wars and conquered many kingdoms. But during the deciding battle you make a grave mistake, and you lose everything. Shamed and shunned, you return home to your emperor. How can you ever redeem yourself? As it turns out, the emperor already has a new task in mind.

Oblivious Garden ~Carmina Burana is a romance-themed visual novel set in a post-medieval fantasy world. You are a humiliated ex-general and your new job is to teach the art of fencing to the seven princesses of the kingdom.

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Game Review: Shan Gui

December 22nd, 2014

Distancing yourself from your parents is an unavoidable part of growing up. Eventually, most of us come back around from the rebellious phase and learn to listen to what parts of our tradition and culture may be worthwhile additions to our own identities. But what if we're already too late?

Shan Gui is a short, Chinese-developed visual novel about finding one's familial and spiritual roots in a society that increasingly shuns both.

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Game Review: planetarian ~the reverie of a little planet~

November 15th, 2014

Deep inside the old sarcophagus city, while searching for food, weapons, or resellable scraps, you make an unlikely discovery: What you'd assumed to be an abandoned military facility is actually a pre-war planetarium. And as it turns out, the custodian robot is still welcoming customers after all these years.

Let's talk about planetarian ~the reverie of a little planet~.

It's a kinetic novel (a visual novel without any choices or other interactive game elements), so the only thing that the player/reader controls is the pace of the story. Do what you will with that information.

Originally developed by Key in 2004 and recently published on Steam by Sekai Project, this is widely considered a classic in the VN community, and a very worthwhile addition to the still meager selection of good visual novels on Steam. It's a short story about a world full of desolation, hopelessness, cynicism and resignation, and about a little robot girl who's immune to all of it. It's also about going stargazing in a world without stars.

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Game Review: The Stanley Parable

October 30th, 2013

Right now, there is nothing about The Stanley Parable that I don't hate.

There are games built around a cohesive story with relatable characters, a satisfying dramatic arc and a worthwhile conclusion. This is not one of those games. The Stanley Parable is confusing and all-over-the-place, the main characters are inconsistent, sometimes depressingly shallow, other times infuriatingly opaque. The story spits on the ideals of internal logic.

If a video game makes you want to stop playing video games, what does that say about it?

The Stanley Parable dragged me into its tangled mass of content without much of a warning. During most of my time playing it, I had at best a vague idea of what was going on. And although it tried everything in its power to defeat me (at one point it was literally begging me to stop playing), I pressed on.

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Game Review: Dear Esther

May 10th, 2013

Dear Esther's island is a mysterious place. Its beautifully crafted environments paired with the wonderfully eloquent and powerful narration create a sense of poetry that you can walk around in. It was unique and daring when it was first released, and it's arguably still not for everyone. It does, however, succeed in challenging the player via lyrical understanding rather than game mechanics. As a showcase for games as an expressive medium, Dear Esther has secured its place in the history books. As saturday morning entertainment, perhaps less so.

Game Review: Bastion

May 10th, 2013

Bastion is a delight. It features innovative and atmospheric narration throughout a captivating story, beautiful painted graphics and a gorgeous soundtrack as well as fast-paced and polished gameplay. Notably it is a bit of a slow bloomer in several ways – if after the first hour you're not sure if it's worth your time, consider giving it another. The few minor weaknesses I found were easily offset by the fantastic overall quality and polish.

Game Review: Anodyne

May 10th, 2013

Mechanically, Anodyne is heavily inspired by the older Zelda titles, though the atmosphere is very different and unique, possibly evoking Earthbound more than anything else. It feels like a dream that you want to get lost in, even though on some level you know there's something not quite right. The pixel graphics convey a lot of atmosphere, but more hidden mastery lies with the soundtrack: the eerieness of Anodyne's world echoes in your head like a random feverish thought that you just can't shake. If you grew up on the SNES/GB era Zelda titles, this is a must-play. If not, it's still really good.

uxHH: Sebastian Deterding on Gamification

December 3rd, 2012

Today the User Experience Roundtable Hamburg (in cooperation with the local IxDA) hosted a talk by Sebastian Deterding titled “9.5 Theses on Gamification” (Sebastian has information on earlier iterations of the same talk available online). For me it's been the first uxHH Roundtable for a good couple of months, but this topic with this speaker I couldn't pass up.

So I just got back from there and I'm pretty tired, but I have some unfinished thoughts rummaging around my head that I'd risk losing by going to sleep. They might not be excessively polished (or even necessarily cohesive), but I'm going to take the red pill and embrace the now-famous Edmund Snow Carpenter quote: “[C]lear speaking is generally obsolete thinking. Clear statement is like an art object: it is the afterlife of the process which called it into being. The process itself is the significant step and, especially at the beginning, is often incomplete and uncertain.” So please bear with me, this blog entry is not an attempt at a scientific paper.

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Bachelor Thesis Log #01

November 12th, 2012

As my studies continue towards their inevitable conclusion, I am once again faced with the situation of having to write a bachelor thesis some time soon-ish. I'm fortunate enough to have already written one of those, so it's not as much of a big unknown for me as it is for others (which doesn't mean that it's routine in any way either). I'm currently (and have been for a good couple of weeks, actually) in the process of brainstorming possible topics. By now I figure I'm not going to make any steps forward by twisting and turning stuff in my head over and over, so here I am late thursday night trying to put some of it into writing. I also thought I might as well involve y'all, since that seemed to work pretty well the first time around.

This time, though, I'll tentatively be writing in English, because in this line of academia you have to make the transition to English at some point, thus why wait?

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Playful Design

July 27th, 2012

Last week I was talking to the current professor for HCI at the University of Hamburg in his office, and among the current set of books that he was asked to assess for inclusion in our department's library, something caught my eye. I recognized the cover design of John Ferrara's Playful Design, published very recently by Rosenfeld Media. That was pretty exciting for me, since I had been looking forward to that book for a while, to the extent that I recommended it in a recent talk about gamification, just on the basis of the introductory article at UX Magazine. This occassion presented me with a chance to actually read the whole thing, so here's what came of that.

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Interaction Design Explanations Conserved for Posterity

December 28th, 2011

In the summer semester of 2011, I was a student assistant for the Interaction Design course by Prof. Oberquelle. In this context I answered some questions which came up during the preparation for the exam in written form in the (closed) CommSy room of the course. It would be a pity if these words were simply lost, so I have slightly polished them up here and reproduced them coherently. Whether the contents will still be relevant in the next round of the course is, of course, not yet set in stone. Nevertheless, have fun with it!

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My First Free Software

December 22nd, 2011

There is a first time for everything. I can still remember the first time I compiled program code. It was Turbo Pascal snippets back then and I worked out enough of them in self-study to be able to create my own little games under DOS.

Paradoxically, despite my studies in computer science, I program less today than I did back then. My website is basically my only tinkering project, where I let off steam when I need some rest from the university stuff. Developing undisturbed for myself has its charm, even more if the visitors of my website get great new features out of it.

Just a few hours ago there was another first for me: I just licensed and published some of my source code for the first time.

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My First Video Course

October 24th, 2011

As some of you may already know, I'm running a tutorial on LaTeX for students in the Computer Science department this semester, half of which is a video tutorial on YouTube (or as downloaded video files).

The need for a LaTeX tutorial was probably identified by the student office and Jan von Soosten approached me to ask if I could take over. I had never before conducted a complete course independently and on my own responsibility, the freedom of design beckoning to me ultimately attracted me more than my semester workload could deter me.

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recordmydesktop and OGV

September 20th, 2011

Just a small heads up to anyone doing any kind of screencast or desktop recording on a typical desktop Linux:

Usually, people will recommend recordmydesktop, which is a very cool program that's available e.g. in the Ubuntu repositories. It works really well and all, but I keep running into walls with the OGG/Theora videos that it produces.

I'm no expert on video encoding, but apparently recordmydesktop does some very fancy optimizations involving variable FPS and stuff like that, so the video files are quite small byte-wise. Unfortunately, this has caused problems for me down the line: I can play the files just fine in Totem (thus, gstreamer) or VLC. But as soon as I try to reencode them, all hell breaks loose.

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Articles Available in ePub Format

September 9th, 2011

As of now, my articles are publicly available in ePub format in addition to PDF format. I hope this will allow me to make them available to an even wider audience. If you use an e-reader (e.g. a Kindle), a tablet (e.g. an iPad or a Galaxy Tab) or a smartphone for reading, this format might lead to a more pleasant reading experience for you.

So why not take the opportunity to take a look at some “classics”? The following works are available for you in ePub format:

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Farbrausch Stopping By

May 6th, 2011

There is once again a reason to look forward to the KBS – because next Tuesday, May 10, 2011 there will be two celebrity speakers. Two members of farbrausch will talk about their work environment and their craft.

Who or what is farbrausch?

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Software That I End Up Avoiding

April 10th, 2011

Having recently acquired a brand-new smartphone, I'm still fiddling around with the system, installing apps and configuring things. So far I'm really happy with it, a definite step up from my previous cell phone (and that one wasn't even that old).

Imagine my surprise when I found out that the new one has an office app installed on it by the vendor. Inspired by a semi-recent article on OSNews, I'd been wondering what a good mobile office UI might look like, so I was eager to have a look at this one that came free with my phone. It's called ThinkFree Office and supposedly it works really well. Unfortunately I never actually could look at it. How come? Because the EULA is completely friggin' ridiculous. And here's why.

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Many New Features

March 18th, 2011

Three days ago I promised new features. After a gradual and stealthy launch of the last few UI elements, everything is now ready to go, so I'd be happy if those of you who are interested would like to check it out. To that I should add that not all of the features listed below have only been around for the last few days, but they are all showcased here for the first time. Here are the new features in no particular order…

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Dealing With Complexity in UI Design

March 11th, 2011

OSNews has just published an article I've written on the subject of interface complexity:

Over the past few decades, the software that enables us to be productive with our computers has become increasingly sophisticated and complex. Today's UI designers are faced with the challenge of devising graphical user interfaces that are easy to grasp and use, yet still provide access to a wide range of features. Here are some ideas about the nature of GUI complexity, followed by a couple of thoughts on simplicity that might just surprise you.

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Photo Shooting with Flo

January 21st, 2011

Last week (after it took us quite a while to find a date) Flo (and spontaneously Rolf) and I put our heads together with the goal of taking some good photos for my website and other online activities.

I don't need to add much to Flo's report, he already explained the photographer's perspective there in detail and still understandably for me as a layman.

I think it's great of Flo that he accepted the idea so openly. I wouldn't have dared to hope that such a great shooting would come out of it when I approached him back then: “Hey, do you possibly have time and feel like taking some portrait photos of me, or can you recommend another photographer?” – Flo (together with Rolf) conjured great results out of the situation, for which I would like to thank him again!

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Making Changes to the Language Functionality of My Website

December 27th, 2010

Christmas is a time for many nice things: meeting old friends, being with family, eating well, sleeping in. For this time I like to take a break from most university duties and do some programming for my own personal purposes. I dedicated the past two or three days to my website and overhauled the technical basis for internationalization.

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Bachelor Thesis Log 23

December 6th, 2010

Welcome to the twenty-third and last (!) report on my bachelor thesis on teachlets. A period of my life is coming to an end… Today is the big day: the day of submission, the day of publication. With this in mind, I am delighted to present to you without further ado:

The Teachlet Concept: Possibilities and Limits of a Teaching Pattern for Software Design Discussions (INFDok)

In the last few reports I've already talked quite a bit about the last steps before publishing, so today there will be info about the submission and publication itself, followed by a conclusion about these reports.

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Bachelor Thesis Log 22

November 30th, 2010

Welcome to the penultimate bachelor thesis report. First of all I can announce: The thesis has been successfully finalized and printed and was handed over to my two supervisors today. Nevertheless, I will hand it in at the study office next Monday, as planned, because it is now post-dated to Dec 6th (the final spurt went a bit faster than planned).

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Bachelor Thesis Log 21

November 23rd, 2010

Here is the third to last bachelor thesis report, about two weeks before the final submission of the thesis. Not much more will happen to the text. I'm still waiting for some feedback, but otherwise the rest is administrative: printing, binding, submitting, and so on. Today I'll briefly tell you what's in the last section I wrote, and then I'll get to the things that are relevant for the submission of the thesis.

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Bachelor Thesis Log 20

November 16th, 2010

And already another week has passed, here comes the last report from (at least according to my current plans) the last writing phase of my thesis. That doesn't mean that it's the last report altogether – there are still a few weeks left until I'm finally done with this undertaking. Unfortunately, not so much has happened in the last week, I haven't been able to find good inroads into the related methods yet. The goal now is to get this done by the weekend.

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Bachelor Thesis Log 19

November 9th, 2010

Welcome back to the latest bachelor thesis report, a few hours early today for a change. This will probably be the fourth last one, since I have to hand in the thesis on December 6 at the latest. That actually calls for a new schedule. But before that, here's a general status update.

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Bachelor Thesis Log 18

November 3rd, 2010

This report comes a little later than planned, because I was on the road for quite a long time last night. As already suspected last week, there is not very much to talk about. Due to other commitments, nothing has happened for my thesis since last Tuesday, so today there is only the report on the repeat presentation yesterday.

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Bachelor Thesis Log 17

October 26th, 2010

Hello and welcome to a new weekly report. Today I'll tell you about my conversation with Axel about the possibilities to improve the thesis even more. Contrary to my previous plans, a couple of points that are not quite easy have come up that will need a lot of attention. In addition, there will be a repeat of the announcement regarding the repetition of my presentation.

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Bachelor Thesis Log 16

October 19th, 2010

Welcome back to the sixteenth report on my bachelor thesis. Today I will be comparatively brief again. I'll tell you something about the results of the feedback phase (or rather: the absence of results) and about the second time I gave my presentation.

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Bachelor Thesis Log 15

October 13th, 2010

This week I welcome you again with some self-inflicted delay, for which I apologize. Hopefully the previous blog post on a more relaxed topic was able bridge the gap. Today, first of all, there's info on the latest developments, which are not major. After that, I'll go into some tips that I find important and that might have helped me if someone had told me them half a year ago. Maybe there's something useful in there for you.

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Playing Around with Striped Images

October 10th, 2010

Today I've got something completely different for you again. I want to show you an idea I experimented with some time ago, which has to do with the perception of partially hidden images. The idea comes from a video I saw a long time ago. There someone created this effect with black silhouettes. At this point I'll be brave and try it directly with a color image, albeit a simple one. Here is a spiral:

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Bachelor Thesis Log 14

October 5th, 2010

A new Tuesday, a new weekly report. Welcome back! Today it's primarily about my colloquium talk yesterday, but there's also a short general update.

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Bachelor Thesis Log 13

September 28th, 2010

Welcome to the last weekly report on iteration 1 of my bachelor thesis. Not to beat around the bush: since yesterday evening I consider it finished for the first time! That means: all chapters are written, there are no more gaps in the manuscript. On the other hand, that doesn't mean there's nothing left to improve.

At the moment, I feel relieved that the work is now at this level, which gives me some relaxation. I am even a few days ahead of my schedule, which actually foresees the completion of the work only for the day after tomorrow.

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Bachelor Thesis Log 12

September 21st, 2010

It's Tuesday and there's a whole bunch of news related to my planning for the next weeks. In terms of new content, there is not so much to read this week. Short status update: chapter 5 is almost completely finished, chapters 3 and 6 (both not very difficult) and references to similar methods are still missing. So as not to bore you with unnecessary details, here comes the roadmap for the home stretch.

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Music to Look Forward to

September 18th, 2010

You could almost think that my blog exists only for my bachelor thesis. Of course, this should not be the case, so today I'll open a completely different, non-computer-science topic, namely music. I don't know if you're interested, but if not, I guess I'll find out… and you can decide to skip this entry. But the fact that a new album of my favorite band is coming up is a good occasion for a bit of advertising, isn't it?

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Bachelor Thesis Log 11

September 14th, 2010

The regular Tuesday report is rather short today. I just put the last one online last Friday. Since then not much has happened for the following reason: due to exhaustion I took the weekend off, visited my family and rested a bit. Yesterday morning, the outstanding interviews with Carola Lilienthal and Christian Späh were completed. I'm two thirds done with transcribing the interviews, more about that below.

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Bachelor Thesis Log 10

September 10th, 2010

Today there is a report in between, because it is worthwhile again. There is the glossary that I wrote for the paper – where people who have no idea about teachlets can finally have their say again. There are also news from the study office about the master admission.

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Bachelor Thesis Log 9

September 7th, 2010

Most of the decisions I have made so far in the planning and execution of my bachelor's thesis have not come easily to me. I am someone who has certain difficulties deciding between several viable alternatives. Sometimes I tend to stand like the donkey between the two haystacks, because all available options somehow have advantages and disadvantages and I can't bring myself to choose just one of them. It's always a pleasant and enjoyable change of pace when I think: this choice is really clearly and indisputably better than that one; when a decision is really easy.

Yesterday that happened to me again.

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Bachelor Thesis Log 8

September 4th, 2010

Things are happening quickly now, stuff is now going at a crazy pace. It has to, if I want to get everything done by the end of the month… but after the last talks with Axel I'm cautiously optimistic. With a bit of discipline and luck, I'll get there.

I've been thinking about increasing the pace/frequency of these reports as well. This week lends itself to that because of all the new information. I'll keep it like this: every Tuesday evening there will be a report in any case. In between, there may be others, if the flow of news justifies it. We'll see how things develop over the next four weeks.

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Bachelor Thesis Log 7

August 31st, 2010

It's Tuesday evening again and I'm reporting back with the current status. For those who may have missed it: last Saturday there was a special out of rhythm organizational report. Unfortunately there is nothing new about the interviews yet, instead I would like to present you my draft of an outline today.

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Bachelor Thesis Log 6 ½

August 28th, 2010

Welcome back to my bachelor thesis report, on an irregular day due to recent organizational developments. Fasten your seatbelts, it's going to be turbulent.

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Bachelor Thesis Log 6

August 24th, 2010

Today's post is about the promised surprise topic: In the context of the iPhone Power Day that took place today, Kai Meyer (an employee of C1 WPS) held a teachlet on the topic “MapKit integration on the iPhone” in the ESA B lecture hall in front of about 100 people. We had contacted each other beforehand due to a tip from Axel and I talked to him about what a teachlet presenter has to consider, what I think about holding a teachlet with such a large number of participants and how such a teachlet should be designed.

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Bachelor Thesis Log 5

August 17th, 2010

This week I'm taking a little thematic leap from the teachlet definition back to my empiricism. A few weeks ago I already mentioned once that I would like to conduct interviews to collect more “fodder” for my work. Today I want to explain to you how I came to that conclusion, what methodology I want to use and what I want to achieve with it.

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Bachelor Thesis Log 4

August 10th, 2010

This week I'd like to make the first attempt at an updated teachlet definition. The end result of today's entry is intended to be the first attempt at an updated definition, which also means that I'm asking for your feedback (at least if you have teachlet experience or feel otherwise inclined).

But first, let's review the “historical” definition:

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Bachelor Thesis Log 3

August 4th, 2010

Last Thursday I spent the morning at the Informatikum tinkering with the basic framework for an updated teachlet definition with a small group of interested people. Axel, Christian, a fellow student named Daniel who was unknown to me until then, and myself were present.

We set ourselves the task to identify central aspects and parts of teachlets based on our experiences with teachlets in the last years, so that an updated definition can emerge from it. Basically, the definition from Axel's paper of a few years ago is still largely comprehensive and more contemporary than I had suspected before our meeting; but in some respects it anticipates aspects that are not so universal.

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Bachelor Thesis Log 2

July 27th, 2010

Today's post is about empiricism and data collection. I would like to show you which considerations I have made regarding my data sources so far and what kind of data I would like to collect.

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Bachelor Thesis Log 1

July 20th, 2010

The overwhelming consensus seems to be that the genesis of my bachelor thesis interests at least a few people. So here is the first report of hopefully many, in which I will first explain the topic and quote a bit from my draft synopsis.

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Bachelor Thesis Log 0?

July 13th, 2010

As some of you know, I've been in the unofficial preparation period for my bachelor thesis for some time now. The topic is fixed: “The Teachlet Concept: Limits and Possibilities of a Teaching Pattern for Software Design Discussions,” supervised by Axel Schmolitzky. Exactly my desired topic, even if it does not necessarily belong to the core area of computer science.

Soon I would like to register the thesis officially and start working on the content. With the background of what Muelli is doing on his blog at the moment, I had the idea that maybe apart from my supervisor more people might be interested in following the development of a bachelor thesis from the first draft to the final result.

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Multilingualism and Lecture2Go

June 29th, 2010

For several semesters now, the University of Hamburg has been offering a service called Lecture2Go. The people responsible there have equipment and know-how for the successful recording of lectures and other talks. There you can find for example the lectures of the module Software Development 2.

About a semester ago, I noticed that a fellow student had organized such a Lecture2Go recording set for a lecture in the KunterBuntesSeminar. I immediately found that exciting, because I like the idea of making knowledge accessible to as many interested people as possible. Recordings like the ones done with Lecture2Go allow you to break the boundaries of being there in person and experience a lecture at a later time and/or in a different place in the world.

For my lecture last Tuesday on the topic of “Multilingualism in Teaching at the University of Hamburg” I took it upon myself to do so: I organized and carried out everything necessary to record it and make it available to the world on Lecture2Go. Maybe you are interested in how I went about it.

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March 30th, 2010

If you have previously read about esoteric programming languages, you may already be familiar with Piet. In case you haven't: Piet is a programming language in which program flow is specified in a graphical format.

In a nutshell: The focus moves between continuous blobs of pixels of the same color, the “cursor” starts off pointed to the right but may be rotated, colors correspond to opcodes (arithmetic, stack manipulation, I/O) while the number of pixels in one continuous area denotes that same integer.

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A Quine Program with a Twist

March 26th, 2010

From Wikipedia:

In computing, a quine is a computer program which produces a copy of its own source code as its only output.

Quines like that are known to exist in every Turing-complete language. Examples can be found in the Wikipedia article linked above and elsewhere on the net.

Then there are the programmers who are not satisfied with just regular exceptionality.

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March 22nd, 2010

So this will be the first entry in my new blog. After more than two years, I have a functioning website again, this time even with really nice content. The visit should be worthwhile.

Are there any traditions for the first blog entry? Like when you christen a ship, for example? At the moment I don't feel very festive. I don't really need to introduce myself, that's what the big “About me” button is for. So then maybe I'll let you know some meta info, even at the risk of being not so exciting for non-programmers:

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My Custom-built and Modded PC

April 25th, 2007

Far away from computer shopping catalogues and case modding forums, some visitors may be surprised to find an article here dedicated to my PC – ostensibly a commodity device. Other visitors (who know me well) may not be surprised at all. So what's all this?

To begin with, a PC is a tool with which you can do tasks. Of course, you can examine any tool and wonder how it works. In the case of the PC, this reveals a sophisticated interplay of individual components that interact with each other in a rather precisely defined way. You can change things everywhere, rebuild things, swap parts. The inside of a PC has an aesthetic all of its own, which is probably most readily recognized and enjoyed by those who have developed a routine in taking PCs apart and putting them back together again. At some point, someone dared to ask why it was necessary to put a fig leaf (in the form of a beige metal case) on this structure. This question forms the cornerstone of case modding: the computer is perceived as an end in itself and advances to become an object of craft and perhaps even art.

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