1. Marvin und Moritz ziehen ein

    Hallo zusammen, wir sind Marvin und Moritz. Wir sind Brüder und mussten im Dezember 2015 leider aus unserer alten Wohnung ausziehen. Deshalb sind wir ins Tierschutzheim gewohnt in Konstanz gezogen. Das war echt schön hier. Ein Doppelzimmer für uns beide, einen schönen Klettergarten, regelmässige Fütterungen, also alles was sich eine Katze so wünscht. Hier sieht man uns beide, wie wir glücklich in unserem Zimmer sitzen und spielen.

    Im Tierheim

    Anfang März passierte dann etwas, was unser Leben nachträglich verändern sollte: Stephan kam zu Besuch. Stephan schien damals ganz ok, er hat was mit uns geredet, geschmust und gespielt, ist dann aber bald auch wieder verschwunden. Er ist dann noch ein paarmal vorbei gekommen, aber irgendwann war dann auch damit wieder Schluss. In der letzten Märzwoche stand er dann plötzlich mit zwei dieser Bösen Kisten vor der Tür. Ihr müsst gar nicht versuchen uns zu täuschen, wir kennen diese Kisten. Wir sind natürlich sofort raus in unseren Klettergarten geflüchtet. Als dann Hinter uns die Tür zu ging, wussten wir, dass wir ein Problem haben.

    Dies ist die Geschichte, wie wir unser gemütliches Zimmer verloren haben.

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  2. Canon Roadshow

    On Saturday I was at the Canon-Roadshow in Winterthur. You can just go there and test some bodies and lenses. Unfortunately everything was less impressive that last year, the light was not good and it was all very damp. In the room there was a large wave where you can surf and Canon paid them something so that you can test their kit there.

    Still I think there might be the one or other fixed focal length lense I will acquire in the future.

    Text Text

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  3. Just some Konstanz

    At last there is something happening here again. On thursday I spent some time in the city and also had some time to work on my photography again.

    Here are some sea gulls at the Konstanz harbour. Unfortunately on the first photo there is this ugly plastic thingy that I did not realize would be such a huge part of this shot.

    Image Image

    The doves are also slowly preparing for tourist season, the color is still somewhat whashed out, but you can already see it coming back again for spring and feeding time.

    Image

    Some concrete in front of a Sparkasse building.

    Image

    This cat was lurking around atop this car and watching something else in the bushes. Only a moment after this image it jumped down to hunt some victim.

    Image

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  4. Diaphoto 1608

    Diaphoto is an idea on Diaspora, a distributed social network. Every user can add a photo entry each week to one specific topic which is randomly chosen by one user.

    This week we had the topic “light signal”. For me the solution was pretty obvious and this is what I came up with:

    Diaphoto 1608

    My first try was to paint with a laser directly onto the wall, which gave good results quite quickly, as I could actually see, what the camera sees. Also, if you know my manual script you will recognize it here. The thing is, this looks like someone just painted something with a drawing program and splashed some filters on.

    Diaphoto 1608

    This is not really what I had in mind. So step in front of the camera and move the light directly. It’s not as easy as it might seem, getting the positioning right, closing the shapes where you started, having the letters in the correct orientation… So many pictures were created just like these:

    Diaphoto 1608 Diaphoto 1608 Diaphoto 1608

    And after a while I liked the result, so I just created some other things as well. Remember for next time, need more room to do this.

    Diaphoto 1608 Diaphoto 1608 Diaphoto 1608 Diaphoto 1608 Diaphoto 1608 Diaphoto 1608

    If you are wondering, what light pen I used, it is a Glo-Toob, kinda like an electrical chem light. The make is somewhat older, around 2006, inside are some red LEDs. You can get Glo-Toobs also with diving caps (waterproofed) or in more expensive with several blinking modes. What would you need that for? Attach it to your gear to be seen or attach it to a piece of rope so you can paint large circles in the night that can be seen from very far away and even by passing (rescue?) helicopters.

    Diaphoto 1608

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  5. A little catch up of the rest of last year

    Mo 04 Januar 2016 | tags: english

    I have been somewhat neglecting this blog the past fall. So here are some things to catch up until now and actually do some blog post again.

    First there was some additional Mainau visting going on in the Autumn. You can actually see the red creeping in from the east. And its a beatiful red besides.

    Red is creeping in

    Autumn is of course also prime time for mushrooms.

    Mushroom

    And there was still the Dahlia presentation. It is impossible to say I liked this one best, but it has such a vibrant color…

    Dahlia

    This is another tree that lets you see the red creep in (again from the east).

    Red is still creeping in

    On the other hand there are just some plants, that don’t want to wait on all the others.

    Red in Green


    Now for something else. My family came around to visit me and we made good use of the playground around my flat.

    Family

    Then I also visited my parents and enjoyed my hometown.

    Wutach

    Home


    Back in Constance the seagulls don’t want to lounge in the water any more…

    Seagull

    Then in December the Christmas Market started. Sadly you can not really see it that well, as it is not really chrismassy or winter like.

    Christmas Market

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  6. Stabilizing Video Shots

    Zoom lenses are great, you can zoom in mighty far. The problem is, when you don’t shoot with a tripod things can get quite shaky. For photos there are ways to compensate (when there is enough light). For videos, its quite another thing, as you will see all the shakes. Have a look at this short video I shot of a squirrel eating a nut:

    Now there is commercial software out there, that can stabilize this for you, and you have to pay dearly. So I went out to look for some open source solution to this problem. I don’t really do video and actually don’t have that much interest in this field, but I just wanted to write down, what I came up with, in case someone else is looking for a primer or I want to get back to this myself. This was all done some time back last year, but here you go.

    I quickly found transcode, a linux video stream processing tool.

    1. First one needs to create a so called “movement file” that contains the movement of the camera for the clip you want to stabilize.

      $ transcode -J stabilize -i squirrel.MOV

    2. Now you take the newly created file and stabilize the video with it.

      $ transcode -J transform -i squirrel.MOV -y xvid -o squirrel-stab.mov

    This is the end result of my endeavour. There is some strange stuff going on in the corners and borders (saying wide borders here). So there is probably better ways to do this.

    For comparision, this is what youtube produced with their “deshaking” algorithm. The wavering in the borders is not present here, but there are still some strange things happening with the light areas in the shot.

    Maybe at one point I will take the time to improve on the findings here and present something better.

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  7. Firefox Plugins

    Firefox

    After writing about Thunderbird plugins the same thing has of course to follow for Firefox/Iceweasel (the Debian branding of Firefox). As it has the same plugin system, there is an equal amount of plugins running around in the wild.

    All-in-one Sidebar

    In my opinion, one of the most usefull plugins is the All-in-one Sidebar. Opera always had a nice sidebar, so when I started using Firefox that was something I was sorely missing. The sidebar is very handy for displaying bookmarks and Downloads. It can be compacted into just a button bar and can also hold all the buttons you can put onto the adress bar.

    DNSSEC/TLSA Validator

    DANE and DNSSEC try to make the web more secure by tying the certificates to expect from a server into the Domain Name System. The DNSSEC/TLSA Validator will check existing DANE/DNSSEC entries for correctnes. Not that many servers are using it, yet, but recently usage has been on the rise.

    Privacy Badger

    The Privacy Badger is a plugin developed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, one of the groups trying to fight for the rights of everyone in the internet/computers. The Plugin will display any tracking code while browsing and allow you to disable it. You could say it goes along the lines of Adblock (in which version you want to use), Ghostery and so on. The companies producing these other plugins still want to make some money, so you never know what there agenda actually is. In my opinion you might be better of using an Open Source software produced by the EFF than by a company trying to make profit.

    uBlock

    Actually there are two plugins here: uBlock and uBlockOrigin. According to Wikipedia the Origin version is further developed by the original Author, so you might want to go with this one (sometimes you stumble upon something like this, when trying to write about it for the first time)…

    uBlock has the same goal as Privacy Badger, but is much more manual. I have been using it for quite some time now and it really does not seem to slow down anything (rather speed it up due to external resources not being loaded).

    HTTPS Everywhere

    HTTPS is better right. So why not use a plugin that tries to guide you to available HTTPS protocol versions of the pages you are viewing whenever possible. Enter HTTPS Everywhere. When you have been to a HTTPS version once, this plugin will want to get you there all the time in the future.

    HTTPS Finder

    To improve HTTPS Everywhere, there is HTTPS Finder. HTTPS everywhere has to have been to a secure version once. HTTPS finder tries to find those pages when you visit the unsafe one and asks you if you want to use the safe version. I would not want to use HTTPS Everywhere without this.

    Lightbeam

    Lightbeam is supposed yo make you reconsider your browsing habbits. It visualizes all the ressources and cookies that pages place on your PC or needs, when visiting a page, and shows you which pages can spy on you when visiting which page. Look at all the shiny bubbles (which are the pages I visited before taking the screenshot) and the angry triangles (which are third part ressources).

    Lightbeam in Action

    Download Statusbar

    Now up to less privacy centric stuff. Download Statusbar provides a little bar at the bottom of the browser, where you can see the status of your current/last downloads and also interact with them. Quite usefull.

    Foxy Proxy

    Ever use any proxy tunnels to get into a remote network? I do this a lot. Sadly with Firefox you need to delve into the settings all the time when doing this. Foxy Proxy helps you here. You can activate certain proxies for all browsing or use rules to only send certain pages over the proxy connection (e.g. intra net sites).

    Greasemonkey

    Greasemonkeya is the Firefox equivalent of Tampermonkey. It enables you to use custom JavaScript on any homepage (of course there is rules for when to apply which script.

    Scripts

    For example this could be things like these:

    Tab Mix Plus

    Change all the behaviour of how tabs work: Tab Mix Plus. Yeah, this is quite a thing to configure, but you can specifiy loads of stuff, like where to open the new tabs based on certain things, what the behaviour of certain types of clicks and shortcuts is and so on. Quite powerful.

    Y U no validate

    When you stumble upon an unknown certificate you can accept this certificate. I don’t like the behaviour of Firefox here though. Firefox has the checkbox for “always trust this certificate” checked by default. Y U no validate changes this behaviour to the checkbox being unchecked. Yeah, the name is really … not that good, but whatever.

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  8. Thunderbird Plugins

    A friend posted a list of the Thunderbird plugins he uses on his blog (German) a short time ago. I think this is a great idea to give hints on what could be interesting for other people as well.

    Thunderbird

    Most people nowadays probably don’t even use an actual client on their PC, web-clients ftw. While Webclients have their uses, i still like dedicated clients, because they can be adapted to your needs. I have been using Thunderbird/Icedove (which is the Debian branding) for quite some time now, having tried other clients frequently I still always come back to Thunderbird. Thunderbird is build by the Mozilla, which also produces the great Browser Firefox. Both share their plugin system which provides a humongous amount of plugins, some are even usefull. Synchronisation was a problem in the past, as we still used Pop as communication protocoll. Now with IMAP synchronisation is done on the server so that you have all emails on each client (depending on configuration) and is also what most smartphones are doing.

    If someone wants to go look for plugins on their own, just dig through addons.mozilla.org. Otherwise I will just list, what I’m using and you can decide for yourself if you want to try it.

    Lightning/Iceowl

    Thunderbird has no calendar application. This may change at some point, but until then there is Lightning (Iceowl is the Debian branding). Lightning can connect to CalDAV and iCal, so you can use this with your OwnCloud or the Calendar your email provider probaly already supplies you with (also there is the Provider for Google Calendar if you want this). As for any decent calendar application, you can view your calendar and dates, create new, change old, delete them, invite other people to dates … You get the idea.

    For Debian users, there is a package iceowl-extension in the repos.

    Inverse SOGo Connector

    The Inverse SOGo Connector can synchronize your address book via the CardDAV protocol (similar to CalDAV for Calendars). Whether you are running a server on your own (like owncloud) or have some service that provides you with contacts (like your email provider) this is the way to go. Sadly there are some problems (at least for me) that synchronisation is not always possible in both directions. Loading from the Server always works nicely while uploading sometimes seems to be broken.

    Enigmail

    Enigmail is a plugin for safe end-to-end encryption with PGP. If you want to use PGP with Thunderbird, Enigmail is the only option. For Debian users, there is a package enigmail in the repos.

    Encrypt if Possible

    Encrypt if Possible is a little plugin that eases the use of S/MIME end-to-end email encryption. Support for this kind of encryption is present in most mail clients (even webmail!), but not that many people use it. One of the reasons is, that you need an certificate from a certificate authority similar to when you run a webserver and want to encrypt your traffic.

    Encrypt if Possible now looks through the recipients of your mail and checks, if you know them to use S/MIME. If they do, the mail will be encrypted.

    Paranoia

    Paranoia is an addon that tends to make me sad. It shows a smiley to indicate the server-to-server encryption history of your email. Happy green, when every connection was encrypted, Yellow when non-local connections where encrypted (e.g. when your provider pushes the mail from one server to another inside a data center), scary red when there were unencrypted connections between servers of different providers. It does not work flawlessly, for example my provider mailbox.org has several mail related servers that it does not recognize as local connection, but then you can make it display all the connections and see for yourself.

    Additionally Paranoia show which big companies have had the mail on their servers.

    Display Mail User Agent

    Display Mail User Agent is one of the plugins I have been using for the longest now. It displays the mail client that was used to create and send the Email you are just reading. For some clients like thunderbird it also displays the operating system.

    If you encounter a mail client that is not yet supported, you can help and send a description of the client and an image, so that this client will be known in the future.

    FireTray

    FireTray displays an icon in your system tray for Linux and Windows. It can be customized to show number of unread mails and be used to bring thunderbird into focus or hide it.

    Display Quota

    You probably have a limited amount of storage for your emails. Display Quota shows a progress bar in your client to show you, how much of this storage you have already used up.

    Check and Send

    If you have multiple accounts/identities configured in your Thunderbird, you probably have already sent mails with the wrong one. Check and Send can be configured to warn when sending with specific accounts/identities, so you can rethink if this is the one you want to send it with. I use this mostly for seldom used identities that I normally don’t send with.

    Identity Chooser

    Similar to Check and Send, Identity Chooser wants to help with managing multiple accounts/identities. I configured it, so that it displays every account/identity I have in my Thunderbird every time I create a new email or reply/forward one. You can set up a color for each account, which is then also displayed in the composition window, so you can directly see, which account you are using.

    IMAP Draft Unread

    Thunderbird shows messages in the Draft folder as unread mails. I always found this confusing, especially when using FireTray to display the number of unread messages. IMAP Draft Unread jumps in here and allows you to change this behaviour. Yay.

    Quote Colors

    Quote Colors changes the way quotations are shown when you read it. The background gets darker every time a further quotation step is used. You can also configure colors to be used for each quotation level.

    Thread Key

    I often change the display mode of Thunderbird from threaded to unthreaded. Before finding Thread Key this all had to happen via menus. With Thread Key I just need to hit either T or U to do the same.

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