Ohai DigitalOcean

If you can read this, then I successfully moved this blog to DigitalOcean. I wanted to do so for quite some time but somehow never got beyond creating an account at DO. My server at HostEurope was fine, no real pain there, but I have been curious to toy around with something new.

So I’m still in the process of figuring everything out, but for the meantime it looks like the server config, nameserver entries and deployment mechanisms seem to run quite well. I might soon write a bit more detailed about the deployment mechanism later. But for the meantime some references that helped me quite a bit in the process:

EOY 2014

My personal End Of Year post for 2014, random thoughts, no particular order.


I spent the first half of this year studying in Aarhus, Denmark, meeting awesome people and having an extremely nice time. Travelled to Oslo and Copenhagen while already being in the northern countries.


Upon returning I got my masters degree in media informatics from the LMU Munich. That marked the end of being a student for six years. It has been an amazing time, I learnt a lot both personally and professionally and met some of my best friends.


Just a couple of weeks later I started working as Fullstack Developer at Scandio. Enjoying these new challenges.


I ran my first 5k in 25 minutes (and 5 seconds, okay). I joined a gym for the first time in my life and am still going there seven weeks later. Proud of myself and it’s nice to move when sitting all week.


I have been at the Prima Leben und Stereo festival this summer, and saw Linkin Park in autumn. Will do my best to see even more bands live in 2015 (got tickets for the Black Keys and Rockavaria so far).


Looking forward to make 2015 even more of a blast.

Fastmail: CardDAV Beta

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I switched away from Gmail to Fastmail earlier this year. Superb service so far, no stress with spam or any outages that I am aware of. But they lacked support for a proper contact synchronization until now. Their own custom solution was a read only service, so I stuck with Google for handling contacts.

Today they finally announced support for CardDAV. So far it works like a charm using the Mac Contacts.app and on the iPhone. Importing the contacts from Gmail worked almost flawlessly – the contact images went missing.

Responsive Enhancement

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Progressive enhancement isn’t a technology. It’s more like a way of thinking. Instead of thinking about the specifics of how a finished website might look, progressive enhancement encourages you to think about the fundamental meaning of what the website is providing.

Interesting write-up and first steps on why we should focus on creating websites in a progressive manner. Be sure to check out the other articles on 24 Ways this year.

The Web Ahead #75

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Andy Clarke:

It feels like at this point that we’re just, probably temporarily, but we seem to be in this little era of, “Well, let’s download Bootstrap, we know we’re going to have a header graphic. We know we’re going to have a horizontal list of links for our navigation. We’re going to have three columns and we’re going to have these boxes in these columns.” It feels a bit like everybody just makes that assumption so quickly without even imagining anything else as a possibility.

On The Web Ahead, Jen Simmons recently talked to Andy Clarke about “Creative Direction”. Or more about the current lack of it. I totally agree with Andy on this. It feels like too many projects start of with Bootstrap and all the design assumptions it caries. While it might serve the purpose of making a user-friendly website, it removes a lot of creativity that made the web so special (in a good and a bad way) in the beginning.

While all these UI patterns are well-tested and optimized, they make a lot of the web feeling the same. Recently I started to hold a little grudge against Bootstrap for that reason (and some other aspects but that’s for a longer post). I will try to put some more effort into design problems before just throwing one of these default elments at it.

And if you don’t listen to The Web Ahead yet, I suggest you give it a try. It’s ony of my favorite webdesign podcasts.

dotfiles

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I just had the pleasure of setting up a new Mac at work. Great so far. But whenever on a fresh system I recognize how much I tend to customize it. I found myself hitting shortcuts and trying to execute commands that weren’t available. To get around this porblem faster the next time, I just created a repository for all my dotfiles. More to come.

Seams

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Jeremy Keith:

If that’s the case, then it really doesn’t matter what we think about Chrome removing visible URLs. What appears to be a design decision about the user interface is in fact a manifestation of a much deeper vision. It’s a vision of a future where people can have everything their heart desires without having to expend needless thought. It’s a bright future filled with seamless experiences. Welcome aboard The Axiom.

I love this post. It’s not only about why Google Chrome might have removed the URL from the browser UI but also more in general what it might mean if the “seamlessness” is overdone. Spoiler: You might have already seen it.

Octopress 3

For over a year this blog has been powered by Octopress 2. I learnt a lot about Jekyll and Octopress in the meanwhile and tweaked my system on various occasions. And I still love the system and the ideas behind it. So today I rebuilt my blog with Octopress 3.

It wasn’t an upgrade in the common way. Octopress is no more a full-fledged wrapper around Jekyll but has been split into various components that can be hooked into a Jekyll installation. Have a look at their github profile: there now is octopress, ink, deploy, code-hightlighter and some more.

It is not yet officially released (as of now it’s release candidate 8) – probably also because large parts of the documentation are still missing. So it took me quite some time to get it all up and running, and I’ve likely not yet discovered it’s full potential. Once the documentation and some more explanations are public, I’m happy to write a more extended post on how to use it.

If you encounter any problems with this site be sure to let me know.

Small Screen Productivity

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For the vast bulk of stuff that most people will want to do on a computer, though, most of the time you don’t need a desktop monster. I don’t think you even need a 15” screen, which is essentially a portable desktop. You just have to use a small screen productively. Matt Gemmel

Ever since I moved to Aarhus four months ago I have been limited to the 13 inch display of my (non-retina) MacBook Pro. Beforehand I thought it would be quite annoying to be limited to this small screen (I have an external 27 inch monitor at home in Munich).

But as Matt writes, it’s mostly a question of what you make of it, and I didn’t miss a bigger display as much as I anticipated. But my workflows changed quite a bit: I run a lot more applications in Fullscreen mode and use on quite a few helper tools to coordinate stuff and switch between programms. Here a short list:

  • First off: Alfred for launching apps and invoking various workflows.
  • Better Touch Tool enables the Windows-7-style window snapping on my Mac.
  • A combination of KeyRemap4MacBook and NoEjectDelay enabled the use of the eject-key (I replaced the optical drive w/ a second HDD some time ago) as an hotkey for iTerm21.
  • Furthermore I use HyperSwitch as a finer enhancement for the system application switcher.

Still higher resolutions are always tempting. Especially when dealing with visual stuff, no matter if Lightroom, Pixelmator or just the iOS Simulator, more screen estate equals more productivity in my opinion. For that reason I keep checking out the 13 inch Retina MacBook Pros and I also have high hopes for the rumored 12’’ Retina Air.

Hej Århus!

Almost two weeks ago I moved from Munich to Århus, Denmark, in order to spend an Erasmus semester here. It’s going to be my last semester as a media informatics student so I want to get as much out of it as possible. These are my first impressions after two weeks in Denmark.

Arriving in Århus

The cheapest way and the one where I was able to carry the most stuff with me, was to travel by train. After a eight hour ride with the night train to Hamburg and another four hours on a regional train, I made it to Århus a bit exhausted. But arriving during daytime had the big advantage of being able to complete most of the organizational directly. Guided by a mentor, we first went to the university in order to register and especially to get the keys for my room.

After a little tour across campus I got to see my place and meet my housemates. So I will spend the next six months with eight other students from all over the world in a house located just outside the city. It’s a fine place close to the sea and a forest which might be a bit more enjoyable once the weather improves. The people are great and I’m sure I will enjoy the time here.

First Impressions

I’m quite settled by now and the everyday life is about to start as I had the first lecture today. What I can tell so far is that the Danish people are extremely nice and speak prefect English. I don’t speak any Danish so far but I never found myself in a situation where it would have been necessary. No matter if you talk to any student or the elderly lady at the bus stop, apparently everybody speaks English quite fluently.

Something I do like as well is the informality which Danish people use in their communication. You’re supposed to address everybody with a simple you and call them by their firstname. This is true for all the professors at university as well. But it still feels a bit awkward for me.

University Intro Week

The university takes a lot of care for incoming students and the computer science faculty is so modern and well equipped that a comparison to Munich feels a bit saddening. So there were three full days of program to show all us international students around the campus, introduce us a bit to Danish culture and to provide a lot of opportunities to socialize among all faculties. It ended with a day that was focused on the particular faculty during which I finally met some more computer science students. The mentors did a really good job here.

Money, Food and Drinks

But Denmark is rather expensive: Food and drinks in the supermarket are a bit more expensive than in Germany but in restaurants and bars it might quickly get expensive. Yet I have been shown some cool bars with specials and happy hours, so I should be able to navigate my evenings trough downtown soon. The best occasion to meet other students and enjoy a cheap beer are the Friday Bars. In almost every faculty they start to build a bar on Friday afternoons where students and staff meet and can talk over a freshly tapped beer. Foodwise I might have to start cooking more.

The University

So much space! Coming from the LMU Munich where rooms are scarce it feels a bit like in a different world. They have huge areas equipped with desks and couches that are meant to be used by students either to hangout or to work. Table soccer, billiard and table tennis – everything is there. To be fair the buildings are only a few years old.

Organizational there is a similar mess of different accounts and logins one has to use in order to get to study materials and to signup for courses. I suspect some sort of conspiracy. How can it be that the software that runs especially the computer science department is fragmented so heavily and is so user unfriendly?

In difference to the German semesters, Denmark uses quarters. This implies that courses are much shorter but require more work within this short timeframe. For computer science this mostly means to do assignments (often programming) which is also part of the final grade. But that’s stuff I will figure out more exactly in the upcoming weeks.