snippets of blackwings life

Dubai Stopover

First step on the journey up to Chiang Mai is done – I’am now at Dubai International Airport after a 5.5 hour flight from Frankfurt (Thanks to strong tail winds we arrived about 40 min early).  Unfortunately my original plan to jump into the airport pool at Terminal 3 is not working out, because the pool is closed due to construction works…

Anyway, sunrise is already here - so that it is time for breakfast. My flight to BKK is leaving at 0940 local time, so there is some time to fill :)

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Back to Asia

After some long break in posting here due to some major workload (or better: overload), I finally get back to blogging – Cause it is time for another trip/vacation again :)

Tomorrow, on 24th of March I will board a flight from Frankfurt via Dubai to Bangkok using a pretty cheap 400€ Emirates flight. After taking some AirAsia connection to Chiang Mai I plan to travel far up northern Thailand into the Golden Triangle visiting even Myanmar… I plan to take some boat trip down the Mekong to get to Luang Prabang and finally to Vientianne. On April 14th I will catch a flight to Kuala Lumpur, but actually, I will spend the last week in Singapore and Bangkok, visiting some friends of my Singapore 2006/2007 adventure.

My flight back to Germany will be on April 21st – So there is 4 weeks of vacation. Stay tuned, frequent updates will be posted!

Update: As there were frequent requests: Packing list (german)

In the Alps – DAV Glacier Tour

Already some weeks ago, I took a DAV course on “basic ice & glacier” stuff – The course was on 10th to 13th of July, but as always it took me quite long to upload the pictures and get some blogging ready :)

The glacier as seen from the valleyThe GlacierSo lets get to the point… We left Erlangen at 5 in the morning taking the long ride to Matrei in Tyrol, AT. Two DAV trainers and 6 participants. We left the cars at the Matreier Tauernhaus, just right around the corner from the Felbertauern-Tunnel. After changing clothes we took the whole stuff including climbing iron, ropes and ice axes and enough clothes for 4 days (altogether like 12..15kg) and started walking the valley. Starting point was around 1500m – and the destination was the Neue Prager Hütte at around 3000m… Waling up there in the glacing sun took us about 4.5 hours… Very exhausting – I thought I was gonna fall apart. But walking up there rewards you with an impressing landscape and a very quiet piece of nature.

PanoramaThe hut itself is quite nice – but gonna renovated next year. Neue Prager HütteAfter getting some food (quite good) we digged into some theory and got to bed quite early being exhausted from the long walk. Breakfast took part at 7.30 in the morning, so we were out on the glacier at around 8.30. Starting with some basic training on how to stop sliding at steep snow/ice we continued the day with training on walking with climbing iron and how to use an ice axe to support walking. Jumping over gaps with climbing iron and climbing with them in steeper parts continued the training. Steep slopeThe weather was…. absolutely great. Sunny, few clouds and quite warm – So most of the crew got a pretty intense sunburn. Walking up and down the glacier is really exhausting, so we quit around 17oo – but mainly because a thunderstorm was gonna arise. Instantly as we reached the hut, the rain started. Having a great dinner with Kaiserschmarrn and a Tyrolian Ham&Cheese Plate I fell into bed at 22h and slept instantly.

Climbing upFor the next morning it was planned to climb the Grossvenediger Peak with around 3666m – We decided to start at 5pm, but at this time it was raining like the end of days, so we slept some longer til 8 and started then after breakfast to reach the peak, which took us like 4 hours. The last part took forever with storm, snow and step parts… Thomas in the IceBut when we reached the peak, we got some sun! After a short rest we virtually ran down the glacier and reached it after about 2h before another thunderstorm started… and it continued raining/snowing the whole night til Sunday. On Sunday we climbed down the hill in the rain and storm being completely soaked when we reached the cars – And it was a great amusement for the people sitting and eating at the Matreier Tauernhaus to see us “stripping” and changing the clothes in a bus-stop-booth.

So: Very good and interesting course! Very exhausting, but it made “hungry” for more tours in the Alps!


In March I decided to get some days off in June to visit my dear friend David in Paris. David was the impressive guy that I met on my trip in Malaysia last year – Actually I was quite anxious to meet him.

Basically I clicked myself a 80 euro roundtrip ticket from Lufthansa taking me from Nuremberg to Charles de Gaulle, Paris – compared to >150 euro by train and a ~7 hour ride, again plane wins. Just to make that clear: CDG is probably the crappiest airport I have ever seen in my life – Walking distances like doing a marathon and well-non-organized “flows”…
In order to get to the city I took first a airport-shuttle-train to get to the RER (regional train) station. RER C directly takes you to the city.

Grand OperaParis itself is quite stunning – like one big museum. Wonderful buildings and nice street-life. After arriving at my friends place we took a walk around the area – he is living in the center of the Sentier-Quarter near Opera Garnier – just around the corner of the HardRockCafe…

Great hall at the LouvreOn Friday I decided to get up early in order to spend the whole day at the Louvre – Just after a wonderful breakfast with fresh and crusty Banette and a Croissant.
Walking over to the Glass-Pyramide took me just a few minutes – But there was an ubelievably long waiting line at the Louvre. So here is the trick: House.Take the second entrance at the Lions gate in the Denon wing – There is no waiting queue at all :)
Louvre itself is definitively worth spending some time there – I liked especially the collection of ancient Egypt artwork and the great paintings of French, Dutch and German painters.
It is just way to much to see – I spent around 9 hours in Louvre. Leaving then was not only because my feet hurt, but my brain almost burst…

Tiny StreetsThe weekend David and me took some time to walk around the entire city starting around Centre Georges Pompidou (the wonderful art centre) towards city hall, Notre Dame and after crossing the Seine to Odeon and Pantheon. We crossed tiny streets around there walking to some typical Bistro having a light lunch. Many bistros and brasseries are around this quarter – all really crowded, some of them really famous for being usual meeting points of artists some decades ago – So the prices are even higher…

Tour EiffelAfter walking over to Invalides we continued to the Eiffel Tower – Initially we decided to go in, but the waiting line was extraordinary long (estimated waiting time: 3h – and 3rd floor closed because of overcrowding…). On the other side of River Seine some completely crazy people performed high-jumps using inline-skates… We sat there for time watching them…
Our next destination turned out to be the Arc de Triomphe and the Avenue Champs Elysee. Space Station?Grand PalaisActually I had the impression that not even a single french person was there – Just tourists.
We went over to the Grand Palais, a wonderful building from the Paris World Exhibition, which now hosts art exhibitions. Right now the Monumenta 2008 of Richard Serra is hosted there (see the pics) – But most interesting was the concert by Motus conducted there. Using about 80 speakers the group used echo effects to create a very nice athmospheric impression of electroacustic music.

Sacre Coeur at SunsetWe continued our walk over to the Pigalle, where all the Sex etablissements and variete theatres in Paris are hosted… Moulin RougeWe walked past the famous Moulin Rouge with Sacré-Cœur as destination. Climbing up the hill is quite exhausting.
Being there we walked around Montmatre (which was formerly occupied by artists – now it’s just fake artists and tourists) and enjoyed a wonderful scenic view of the Sunset.Finally we got home and had a relaxing dinner.

Parliament view.After sleeping quite long and having a brunch, we decided to some ununsual sight-seeing in Paris: We got to the Chinese Quarter (around Place Italie), which hosts the biggest Chinatown on continental Europe.
Walking around this area was quite interesting, because unlike all other parts of Paris we had been to: There were virtually no tourists :)

Me @ Tour EiffelOn Monday I started the day visiting the Top of the Eiffel Tower – no waiting line :) The view from there is really good – besides the fact that the weather wasn’t that completely satisfying. I took a long walk around the city and enjoyed doing quite nothing special – Just strolling around and enjoying the flair. Without any hurry or any directions of all sort.

Versaille at a glance.Tuesday got basically the highlight with visiting Versailles. Just a trick to cut the queue at the ticket office in Versailles: Get a combined train+chateau ticket at a SNCF ticket shop (at every RER station). This saves you some money and a lot of time. Garden as desiredUnfortunately Versailles was quite crowded even though I arrived a the royal palace as early as 09:30… But by cutting the queue I managed to spent some time at the royal apartments before the huge crowd (arriving by an uncountable number of buses) moved in. I spent the entire afternoon walking around the park and chilling in the sun.

Before flying back to Germany on Wednesday I decided to get some Saucissons, Goat-Cheese and Rilettes – And my flat-mate Florian liked it. So: Thanks to David for hosting me!

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End-of-Season Skiing in Hochfügen, Zillertal

Zillertal - Winter on top, Spring in the ValleyIt’s already April and spring is coming – without any doubt. But winter is still present – at least in the alps. So Martin, Alex and me finally decided to get back to the Alps for some Skiing. Basically, some people from my old dormitory got to Hochfügen in Zillertal on Thursday night, so we figured out to meet them there.

me on Ski.After getting up quite early in the morning (around 4.15am) and a 330km / 3 hours drive, we reached Hochfügen around 8.15am – Actually we were a little too early (Martin, go to hell for your “we have to leave at 4.30″), but this gave us the chance to change clothes in a relaxed manner and prepare mentally. We Team chillinjust arrived when Jo, who we were planning to meet somewhere just went by. At 8.40 we took one of the first gondolas uphill. Snow was just perfect – with 25cm of fresh powder snow and about 1m of crust snow… The first track down to the valley station (which is at around 1500m above sea-level) was a black-rated one, but I don’t agree with that rating. So we got onto the second ascend when most of the buses just arrived.

Scenic view from HochfügenAround 9.30am the sun came out and the sky got more and more blue – Together with almost empty tracks and excellent conditions this made a perfect scenery. I got quite used to my new Ski gear (Head XCR 1200 Crosscarvers) – to be honest: It is just the kind of Ski I was looking for! The tests in magazines are completely right – a good Ski for almost all areas. Later in the morning the others convinced me to go off-track to try some deep powder skiing… Yes, it was fun – And if you fall, it doenst hurt at all, but it sucks to search for your ski and get them back on!

Alone in the powderAfter some lunch break with the mandatory (and always overpriced) “Kaiserschmarrn” the group split up – Martin, Alex and Jo decided to go for more off-track Skiing while Selina and me decided to optimize our carving technique on some red tracks. Completely exhausted we met at 16.30 at the car – My legs were burning!

So, to conclude all this: It was definitively worth to get up this early – We got the best skiing day for this winter!

Out into Franconian Switzerland!

View of Röthelfels - Section What a day! Blue sky and decent temperatures around 15°C in late February – Thanks to global warming! So Alex and me decided to use that to open the outside climbing season with a trip to the well-known Röthelfels, one of the most prominent spring/late-fall rocks in Franconian Switzerland. To make a long story short: You could easily climb in T-Shirt and Shorts without freezing. It was sunny and just…. wonderful. Of course we were not alone – A whole bunch of people got the same idea – But it was not as crowded as you might have expected.

Chillin'Actually, after a long time just bouldering inside, it was quite a change to get back onto real rocks… And quite discouraging how much of fitness and skill you loose during winter… But anyway – Completely relaxing day!

Skiseminar Pruggern 2008

View from our LodgeOh yeah – yesterday I came back from a pretty exhausting Skiing-trip to Austria, namely to Pruggern, which is closely located to Schladming in the valley of river Enns. Together with loads of co-workers and the affiliated chair of Prof. Jess at Bayreuth we stayed in a nice hut at the “Pruggern Hüttendorf“. These huts are “pure luxury” having a huge table for about 20ppl, a Sauna and whatsoever. This skiseminar is a nicely balanced mix of going on the track for skiing in the morning and having scientific presentations and discussion in the afternoon til late.

Sebastian, Berthold and Katharina at PlanaiActually it was my first time back on Ski after some years of absence – And this was quite changing, cause I tried carving ski for the very first time… But after one day of trying out how to use them I finally found the right way and had a lot of fun. The Ski region around Schladming is gorgeous – A lot of nice tracks, mainly at red level. We had been skiing at Hauser Kaibling, Planai and finally Reiteralm – We were lucky and at least Sunday til Wednesday we had blueish sky and excellent conditions – On Thursday the weather got way milder, so that after around 11.oo the snow was just… wet.

The scientific part was also very nice – got a lot of good new ideas how to solve problems arising in my Ph.D.-Thesis – But after a day of skiing and 5-6h of discussion and talks you are completely exhausted… So I gonna spend this weekend with relaxing…

PITA. rtorrent-0.7.9 on Ubuntu Dapper 6.06-LTS

Today, the usual pain of release-based distrubutions such as Debilian, eh Debian or Ubuntu occured to me – I wanted to have the encryption feature of rtorrent that was introduced into libtorrent 0.11 / rtorrent 0.7. Unfortunately the latest version in Dapper is 0.5.3 – so far too outdated.

Doing a .deb package is always useful to keep the system maintained – Building just from source was out-of-question. So after some years of Debian absence I started “fighting” with the build system again.  After some pain-in-the-ass things, I finally had the packages ready: rtorrent_0.7.9-0ubuntu1_amd64.deb and libtorrent11_0.11.9-0ubuntu1_amd64.deb

full stuff is available at: – So if you want to build a i386 package, go ahead :)

24c3 in Berlin

Right after christmas I took a flight from Frankfurt to Berlin in order to get to the 24th Chaos Communication Congress. I participated again as a member of the NOC-Crew taking care of the IP connectivity to the outside world.

First of all: After not having been to 23c3 last year, I have to summarize this was probably the best congress I have ever been to – Relaxed, infrastructure worked well and it there were some good talks. Compared to my first congress (which was actually 10 years ago in Hamburg) there had been significant changes – Way more people, professional organization and a lot more talks, tracks and so on. In 1997 the topics were more technical and there was less stuff around “politics” – Not that it bothers me, but all in all this shift in focus occurred to the CCC in general in my opinion. It seemed that the classical underground hackers foundation shifted to a non-governmental organisation (NGO)  with all its pros and cons.

Besides the NOC stuff I had this year enough time to watch some of the talks. Some of them were quite good, others quite unsatisfying. To name some:

  • I liked the talk of fabs and FX on portbunny, a kernel-based portscanner. That is kernel-based is not the interesting point – But they use trigger packets to implement a congestion scheme like known from TCP to speed up port-scans.
  • The unusual web bugs talk was quite interesting also – some of the aspects were completely new to me.
  • Iljas talk on a collection of random things had some new things (I never thought about using OOB data in TCP to do funny things) and some well-known aspects (/dev/[k]mem issues) – But unfortunately he left out the part I was most interested in: The TCP fuzzer :)
  • Arien, also a NOC member, did a talk on real-time 10GbE monitoring using some FPGA setup on a Force10 network card was nice.
  • Drew Endy, a MIT professor in biological engineering, did an enlighting talk on DNA coding – quite kewl.
  • Florian Bischof’s talk on Sex 2.0 was interesting – Completely different from what I’ve expected. Some people disliked it, because it mainly focused on homosexual stuff, but I found it interesting anyway.
  • I liked the vivid talk cryx, denis and erdgeist on openTracker where they described all the nice stuff around “driving” an bittorrent tracker in the wild-wild-net.
  • A total disappointment was the talk on hacking embedded devices – No serious content, just basic stuff.

All in all: Good congress! Although I am interested on more deeply technical talks.

centericq – icq contact not showing online

Heyho. Time for some more technical posting.

I’m using centericq as my console-based jabber & icq backed, even though it is now unmaintained and is going to be replaced by centerim. But yesterday, the problem evolved, that icq contacts did not show their status anymore, which is pretty anoying. So I tried to find a solution on the net and actually a Bugzilla-Thread gave me the hint, to upgrade to a current centerim, in order to fix that problem.

My server is running Gentoo, so importing the brand-new version was not a problem – even the old contacts worked instantly. But unfortunantely, it was not possible to write messages via the compose dialog… Being quite unhappy with the “solution”, that now contacts show online, but I’m not able to write messages, I was quite unsatisfied.

So I just added the HotFix from the centerim-git repository to the old centericq source code – actually just one single line has been changed! And tada: Everything is working fine again :)

The whole fix is related to the fact, that ICQ changed their protocol again – Now your client has to ACKnowledge that it has received the ServerBasedContactList – After this you get the online status of all the Users on the List. And thats the point: From now on it is not possible to see Online-status of  users not on your ServerBasedContactList! So start getting authorizations in order to fix that.

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