The good old days are over

In 2004, i tried to run my own dedicated “Root Server”, but i had not enough Linux skills to get it running only via PuTTY and a “command-line interface”, although i already had some experience with SuSE Linux 6.x on the desktop computer through a GUI, also known as “Graphical User Interface”. They even sent me a printed copy of “1&1 Root-Server Benutzerhandbuch”, but i was a student at school, with no time left for studying a user manual, and still doing everything else. In 2005, i got me a “Managed Server” at 1und1, so i could keep up with the high traffic on my websites. On two occasions, i even had 2 servers running at the same time, because i needed to upgrade the server, by moving from one to the other. For example, in 2009, i had to move to another web hosting company, to keep the loading times of my pages low, at a reasonable price.

To give you an idea: In December 2015, i had over 12 million HTTP hits, with over 5 GB traffic, and in December 2017, i had over 13 million HTTP hits, with over 7 GB traffic. Years before, there was even more going on. FYI, i became quite good in optimizing efficiency. But i can’t get it to break even since a while: I’m just not getting enough from advertising to make it all work. Google Adsense and Amazon Associates are not cutting it anymore. After 13 years, in January 2018, i cancelled my dedicated web server, and i’m sharing a random server with other customers again, almost like twenty years ago, in 1998, when i had my first websites hosted for free on “FortuneCity”. But i had a lot of fun, while we grew up together. I hope we stay in touch and think about the good old days, when everything was still possible. Maybe we do something great at a later point. Thank you, Internet!

The Irish band “The Corrs” released a nice song in 1998: “I haven’t slept at all in days, It’s been so long since we’ve talked, And I have been here many times, I just don’t know what I’m doing wrong, What can I do to make you love me, What can I do to make you care, What can I say to make you feel this, What can I do to get you there, There’s only so much I can take, And I just got to let it go, And who knows I might feel better, yeah, If I don’t try and I don’t hope.”

Why i never learned to swim

My father helped me to learn riding a bike. It happened on a empty playground and later on a car park near our restaurant in Ratingen, sometime between 1993 and 1996. In hindsight probably quite late. Because at primary school we were already learning the rules for biking on public streets, but i didn’t even know how to ride a bike. Maybe this is the reason why i never broke a single bone: I’m just not into risking my life. I never smoked either, for obvious reasons. But i passed the test, supervised by the police, and since then, i really loved to move around like that.

I took part in bike rides and was even photographed once for the local newspaper, when i visited the “Schützenfest” in Ratingen on my bike. And i cycled several times from Bad Godesberg to Cologne, along the Rhine river, a distance of about 40 km. But in December 2015, i sold my latest bike on eBay, because there is nothing out there anymore: The human overpopulation is knocking on the door, and i have no skin in the game. It was not the right size for me anyway: My “OCR Zero” by Giant from 2004 became a waste of space. Nevertheless, one year later, i was interested in the “Kwiggle” folding bike, claiming to be “the most compact bicycle”, which is why i backed the Kickstarter campaign, without success for founder Karsten Bettin in early 2017.

I never learned how to swim, and i almost drowned the first time i tried, but friend Luis from school pulled me back to the pool edge, sometime between 1999 and 2002 in Bonn. No one makes it alone, really. Years later, i wanted to learn it, this time with my father. Back then, in 2009, it seemed like a good way to lose weight. But i have decided that i will not pursue it any further, since i found another path to get it down, just by eating healthy. And the only time when swimming skills could have been useful was in 2006, when schoolmate Oona and i were invited by friend Dani to go sailing for a week in the Netherlands. This was very generous and nice of him. I have never done that before and afterwards, because it’s quite exclusive. There you have it, i’m going to sink with the Titanic.

Why i never got into reading books

Since my parents native language is not German and i didn’t learn to read Chinese, i never got into liking to read books for fun. I was only at school forced to consume a lot of literature, especially in the last three years at the “Oberstufe” from 2003 to 2006. For my “Abitur” at the Gesamtschule in Bad Godesberg, i had to choose “Deutsch” as advanced course, which made me enjoy “The Tin Drum” by writer Günter Grass, who i photographed many times at the Frankfurt Book Fair in 2009 and 2010. Since 1998, i was already reading and writing a lot through coding on the computer, just by learning and doing it: I developed a variety of messaging and publishing platforms. And since around 2005, i had with “Google Reader” a powerful RSS tool in my hands. At the peak, i was subscribed to over 600 blogs.

After Google discontinued it in 2013, i moved over to the RSS Reader by AOL. I removed dead sources and still had over 500 blogs filling my stream with things relating to life on earth: It’s a lot more personal than only reading posts from large magazines. With the years, i refined the incoming articles and got down to around 400 sources. In December 2017, AOL announced to shut down their Reader, which made me clean up my subscriptions once again, to a total of over 200 blogs. And even with that lower number, every couple of minutes i get a handful of new articles loading into my stream. It was a lot of work to curate these RSS feeds, and without you asking, nicely, i’m not giving them away. But i publish here a complete list of my over 50 podcast subscriptions in iTunes, just to give you an idea:

Accidental Tech Podcast, America’s Test Kitchen Radio, Arts and Ideas, Bookworm, Call Your Girlfriend, Common Sense with Dan Carlin, Cooking Issues, Current Geek, Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History, DateFails with Kate Quigley, Disruption, Freakonomics Radio, Good Food, Good Life Project, Keith and The Girl comedy talk show, Ladies Who Lunch, Lady Lovin, LadyGang, Let’s Get Real, MacBreak Weekly, Material, Modern Love, No Agenda, Quit, Radiolab, Recode Decode hosted by Kara Swisher, Security Now, Story Grid Podcast, Strangers, Stuff You Missed in History Class, The Book Review, The Complete Guide to Everything, The Critical Path, The Dana Gould Hour, The Girls on Games Podcast, The IGN Movies Show, The Incomparable, The JV Club with Janet Varney, The Naked Scientists Podcast, The Nerdist, The Partially Examined Life Philosophy Podcast, The Splendid Table, The Sporkful, The Sword and Laser, The Talk Show With John Gruber, The Writers Panel, This American Life, This Week in Google, This Week in Science, This Week in Tech, Totally Married, Triangulation, Truth & Iliza, WTF with Marc Maron Podcast, Weird Adults With Little Esther, Windows Weekly, You Made It Weird with Pete Holmes.

Why i liked listening to this old guy

When i was really young, i discovered musician Heino while shopping with my parents. Back then, “compact discs” were a new thing, at least for us, because we didn’t have a CD player. This is why i was looking through shelves with “cassette tapes”. I saw this old blonde guy with black sunglasses on the cover art standing out, and i made my parents buy it for me. Since then, i kept looking out for him, because i wasn’t exposed to a lot of music, except for the tapes my parents already had, and i liked to pick things i already know.

I got my first CD from our landlord in Ratingen as christmas present. It was a album from Backstreet Boys, 1996. I was around ten years old, and we still didn’t have a CD player at the time, so it took me a couple of months to expose myself to a new world of music. Because i wasn’t listening to radio, or liking any specific songs at all, except for German “Schlager” in form of Heino, also known as Heinz Georg Kramm.

Back then, i was already occupied with Lego bricks, watching TV, taking things apart, collecting things, being outdoors, doing camping in the garden, biking, and discovering new places on my own. My mother was obsessed with Tetris, but after moving to Ratingen, i had the Nintendo “Game Boy” to myself. And i played with RC cars from my uncle, who came from Hong Kong for three years to help in the kitchen of our restaurant, till 1996. Later, in Bonn, i had a RC boat and even a RC helicopter, long before quadcopters became a thing. But i learned the hard way that some things are too costly for me to maintain. I never played like the other kids, probably because i saw how exhausting my parents worked, and i didn’t understand why.

Around ten years later, in 2007, i was visiting his coffee shop in Bad Münstereifel for the first time, together with friends from school, Melanie and Matthias. It was nothing too special, except the owner was Heino, and the decoration was targeting to fans like me. I got a piece of cake and some photos as souvenir. I already lost track of him at that time, and my music taste changed, but it was fun to warm up memories, especially with people i like.

Things i never get tired of: 1937 to 1990

Since a couple of years i’m building a collection of movies and series i liked in the past. A handful of them were published before i was born, but are still good after all this time. Unlike most popular music these days, cinema is constantly reinventing itself through new technologies. Things are getting easier to achieve and are pushing the boundaries even further. This is why i like to make videos myself. There is more than one way to do it, just like in the Perl programming language. But with understanding comes the prediction, and when i get tired of the present or the future, i like to watch these movies from the past:

  • 1937 – Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs
  • 1940 – Pinocchio
  • 1942 – Bambi
  • 1953 – Peter Pan
  • 1959 – Sleeping Beauty
  • 1961 – 101 Dalmatians
  • 1964 – Mary Poppins
  • 1967 – The Jungle Book
  • 1971 – Bedknobs and Broomsticks
  • 1974 – Murder on the Orient Express
  • 1977 – Star Wars IV A New Hope
  • 1978 – Death on the Nile
  • 1979 – Die Blechtrommel
  • 1980 – Star Wars V The Empire Strikes Back
  • 1983 – Star Wars VI Return Of The Jedi
  • 1984 – Police Academy 1
  • 1985 – Back to the Future I
  • 1985 – Clue
  • 1985 – Police Academy 2 Their First Assignment
  • 1986 – Police Academy 3 Back In Training
  • 1987 – Police Academy 4 Citizens On Patrol
  • 1988 – Appointment with Death
  • 1988 – Police Academy 5 Assignment Miami Beach
  • 1989 – Back to the Future II
  • 1989 – Police Academy 6 City Under Siege
  • 1990 – Back to the Future III

Things i never get tired of: 1993 to 2016

There are not many movies i want to see again after some time has passed. It needs a lot of care in the storytelling to make me come back. But once it’s in my heart, i hold it tight, to make it a part of me. Some movies i may forget, just to be remembered after a couple of years, when i feel lost. They make me refocus on things i have not valued enough, more than any written text could, because “a picture is worth a thousand words”, and if it’s sort of entertaining, even better. I like seeing lives broken down into moments, and trying to make the connections, the things that explain why they did what they did. I wrote a windows batch script file to get all names automatically sorted like this:

  • 1993 – Jurassic Park 1
  • 1994 – Police Academy 7 Mission To Moscow
  • 1994 – The Lion King
  • 1997 – Jurassic Park 2
  • 1998 – Mulan
  • 1999 – Deep Blue Sea
  • 1999 – Notting Hill
  • 1999 – Star Wars I The Phantom Menace
  • 2001 – Atlantis The Lost Empire
  • 2001 – Jurassic Park 3
  • 2001 – Moulin Rouge
  • 2002 – Star Wars II Attack Of The Clones
  • 2003 – Finding Nemo
  • 2003 – Lost in Time
  • 2004 – The Polar Express
  • 2005 – Star Wars III Revenge of the Sith
  • 2007 – Ratatouille
  • 2008 – WALL-E
  • 2009 – Mary and Max
  • 2009 – Veronika Decides to Die
  • 2010 – Alice In Wonderland
  • 2011 – Hugo
  • 2011 – In Time
  • 2011 – Winnie the Pooh
  • 2013 – The Zero Theorem
  • 2013 – Tracks
  • 2015 – Bridge of Spies
  • 2015 – Jurassic World
  • 2015 – Star Wars VII The Force Awakens
  • 2016 – Alice Through the Looking Glass
  • 2016 – Arrival
  • 2016 – Rogue One A Star Wars Story

A door to another world

I always liked animated shows and movies, because they were a door to another world, where bad things can happen, but no one gets hurt for real. And since i’m an only child with working parents and few friends, this is how i learned many things in the first place, for better or worse, because life is not a cartoon.

I grew up with Alvin and the Chipmunks, Batman, Bugs Bunny, Hey Arnold, Inspector Gadget, Ninja Turtles, Pink Panther, Pinky and the Brain, Rugrats, Scooby-Doo, Superman, Sylvester and Tweety, TaleSpin, The Flintstones, The Real Ghostbusters, The Smurfs, Tom and Jerry, and, as you already know, The Simpsons and Futurama.

But except for Sailor Moon, Anime never found the way to me, until i stopped watching German TV some years ago, and started to get my shows and movies exclusively through the internet, without all these ads and nonsense. Thanks to the “uBlock Origin” ad-blocking browser extension by Raymond Hill. In the past couple of hours i binge-watched and really enjoyed:

  • Mardock Scramble: The First Compression (2010)
  • Mardock Scramble: The Second Combustion (2011)
  • Mardock Scramble: The Third Exhaust (2012)

Why i’m tired of people

Usually, i like to write here about the rare good people in my life, because it makes me happy talking about them, like the neighbour in my childhood. But to give you a sense of the level of stress i have to live with daily, i let you know this: Since over a decade, my neighbours around me are “Medizintouristen”, basically noisy tourists from the Middle East, living several weeks or months in my town to get their health fixed by German doctors. Just imagine overexcited monkeys escaped from the zoo paying some serious “oil money” to physicians and landlords in Bonn.

The whole district is catering to them. If i had the choice, i would be somewhere else, far away from this, because they live in their own time zone, and it is tiring. Back then, when i was going to school, i had for several years season tickets to the Cologne Zoological Garden, just an hour away from Bad Godesberg. I enjoy seeing all these animals from a distance, but i would rather not like to live next to them. At least i’m here with my parents: I love them so much that i even wrote to “Santa Claus” in Himmelpfort and put their well-being on the top of my wish list. Maybe in some way they are monkeys too, but at least we speak the same language. And unlike these animals, my parents have to work really hard for their money.

FYI, in 2010, i had a “Bahncard 100” for one year, which allows unlimited travel on the entire public transport network across Germany. And i got me a season ticket for the Zoo in Berlin because of panda “Bao Bao”, who died five years ago, in 2012, as one of the oldest male giant pandas in the world. Back then, i made many photos of him, while i sat on my Walkstool folding chair, with my white Canon lens resting on a Manfrotto monopod: After a long train ride, he made my day, everytime.

Eleven years on Facebook

Eleven years ago, i joined Facebook. I have a love-hate relationship with the site. Back then, i run my own online community, developed by myself, written in Perl, long before Mark Zuckerberg with his “social network”. But i never got that many users on my side, and it was only available in German, which might be the reason. His trick was to make the website a exclusive thing only for students worldwide. In november 2006 i was a geography student at the University of Bonn, and i had my own university email address, the key to sign up for Facebook. But now everyone can join, it became mainstream.

This is why i never used it that much, just like Twitter. When i was down for some reasons, i occasionally removed people from my friends list, because it didn’t make me happy seeing them there. I had the people close to me on ICQ, “MSN Messenger” and other instant messaging apps anyway. It felt easy to do it. But as i slowly burned out, i cut off all these connections, till i found myself. And there i was, with only two friends on the list. I remembered former schoolmate Matthias saying that we will always be friends, whatever happens. And he accepted my friend request on Facebook again. But nothing was like before. A lot of time has passed. People change, and i changed. I wanted to say sorry for not having explained myself, and i really missed the time we played board games with Johannes and David. They all have jobs now, while i’m still trying to get it all to work. There is not much left to glue back together.

My social activities are quite limited these days, even more than in the past. But i search for the right amount within my means, by looking out for opportunities. Occasionally someone is saying or asking me something, while i’m folding my origami cranes. Just like a couple of days ago on the campus: She asked me where to find the coffee shop. I didn’t know, but we looked each other in the eyes, much longer than we needed to, till she left. It felt good to give and get some attention. It was like seeing a big bang, the birth and death of a universe.

Happy anniversary Thinkpad

My first laptop was manufactured by Hewlett-Packard, second by Sony, third and fourth by IBM. In 2005, the Thinkpad X41 made me stop looking for another maker in this device category. I already had a IBM “Aptiva” desktop computer with Microsoft Windows 95 from 1998 at the time, but i didn’t know “Thinkpads” existed back then. My last Thinkpad is the X60s from 2007. Both are still working today, but only the X60s has Windows 10, while the X41 is still running Windows XP. I was never a real Apple person, although i had a non-Intel “Cheese Grater” Mac from 2005, a first-generation iPad, several iPods and iPhones, when Steve Jobs was still alive.

My old Thinkpads are not much heavier than modern notebooks, but many hardware parts can be swapped, like the battery, keyboard, memory, and harddrive, as i have done. I took them to school, press events, university, and basically everywhere, till they got too slow for my needs. I didn’t try to run “RollerCoaster Tycoon” or SimCity on them because of this. I would have needed an external CD drive anyway. Since Thinkpads were always on the expensive side, i stopped buying them, although i like their contemporary devices. Without IBM personal computers i probably wouldn’t be here. Thank you and happy anniversary, Thinkpad.