Doktor Gero

No English version (yet?), sorry.

Wow, über ein Jahr ist es nun her, seit ich hier was gepostet habe. Wenn ich das so bedenke könnte man meinen, dass die Sache mit dem Doktor schief gegangen wäre und ich aus lauter Depression nie wieder was hier schreiben wollte.

Naja, das würden wohl Leute denken, die das hier lesen, aber davon gibt es nicht wirklich viele… wenn überhaupt. 😅

Also vorweg: Ich bin seit April 2016 “Dr. rer. nat. Gero Herkenrath”!

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Ergo Proxy

Keine deutsche Version, sorry.

So far I haven’t used this blog much to write about hobbies. I’m still not sure whether it’s a wise thing to change that, since I dislike publishing up too much personal information on the web. Then again work life and some other issues already resulted in my name being mentioned on the net (something I desperately tried to avoid as a kid & later as a student), so what the heck.

Another thing is that when I grew up, this specific interest could easily result in people looking at you strangely. “You watch Anime? Aren’t those these weird cartoons from Japan?” they’d say, with a condescending look. As a result most people in my generation who liked the medium stayed either silent about it or drifted into total geekdom, alienating themselves from “outsiders” even more. Not that there’s something inherently wrong with that, as in an “out & proud” kind of way, but I know people who are so over the top with this that they make even me cringe.

Logo of Ergo Proxy

Logo of the show, © NBCUniversal Entertainment Japan Manglobe (the original studio, Manglobe, no longer exists)

Anyway, today I want to write about an underrated anime named “Ergo Proxy”. It’s not a recent anime by far (from 2006), but I just finished re-watching it (I got the DVDs).


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Handed in my dissertation

English version below

Nach einer geologischen Zeitspanne ist es endlich passiert: Ich habe meine Dissertation fertig geschrieben.


Jetzt wo der Stress damit endlich vorbei ist, habe ich mir mein Blog mal wieder angeschaut (und den Entwurf eines “rambling” Posts gefunden, den ich noch eben veröffentlicht habe… die Reihenfolge dieses Posts ist jetzt also etwas seltsam) und da habe ich mir gedacht, dass ich das wohl mal hier reinschreiben sollte.

Natürlich heisst das nicht, dass ich mit meinem Doktor nun durch bin. Ich muss noch meine Verteidigung halten (hoffentlich wird die im März nächsten Jahres sein können). Wenn ich die bestehe muss ich die Arbeit noch veröffentlichen (Name ist übrigens “Designing Location-Based Games”) und dann kann ich den “Titel” registrieren (fühlt sich immer noch etwas unwirklich an das so zu sagen). Nebenbei suche ich natürlich einen neuen Job. Ich plane, wieder in meine Heimatstadt zu ziehen, also suche ich im Moment nach etwas in der Nähe.

English version:

After a geological timeframe, it has finally happened: I finished writing my dissertation.


Now that this stress is over, I revisited my blog (and just found a draft of a rambling post that I quickly finished… so the order of this post is a bit weird) and felt I should probably note that down here.

Of course, this doesn’t mean I am done with my PhD already. I still have to hold my defense (hopefully that will work out to be in March next year). If I pass that I have to publish the thesis (named “Designing Location-Based Games”, btw) and then I can register the “title” (still feels unreal to word it like that). Besides, I want to find a job, obviously. I also plan to move back into my hometown, so I’m currently looking for something in the vicinity.

War of the operating systems

This is gonna be a “rambling” kind of post.

I’ve had it. As a professional computer scientist, I’m sick of casual users fighting over “what operating system is the best”. Especially since most of them don’t even know half of them. It usually boils down between an argument between “Mac users” and “Windows users”. Sometimes, a lone linux user shows up and joins, but that means they throw more mud at each other, not less.

What bothers me most about this is that they mix up all kinds of aspects of this, I assume to camouflage their lack of knowledge. It quickly is about companies, “good” or “evil”, lifestyles (“being a hipster”) and what computers are supposed to be for.

Here’s the thing: A computer is just that: A machine that computes. Often it is described as a general purpose tool and that is mostly true. If something that can be described as a “problem” (be it weather prediction or just organising your grocery list) involves computing, there’s a high chance a “computer” can theoretically help you with it.

The operating system now  ist just a part of that machine. From a normal user’s point of view its job is to make the thing, well “more usable”. Chances are you don’t want to feed your computer instructions via a punchcard anymore.

Operating systems, as well as all their front-end stuff (which technically might not even be considered as part of the OS), have come a long way. Progress as well as mistakes were made. Are still made.

Chances are that every company doing computers (hard-, software, you name it) messes up sometimes. Or, if they’re long around, innovate. Actually, often this “innovation” involves looking back at what other have done and do it again, slightly different and with more money to invest.

Anyways, when someone is a fan of a given operating system, that typically means they got used to it. Seriously, I haven’t met a single person yet who had a better reason for their fandom than “it works for me”.

The OS is like the handle of a hammer. Your hammer handle might have a red color and rubber texture that gives you a good grip. Someone else’s might prefer a lean wooden one that easily slips through their belt. Would you guys, for the love of humanity, please stop bickering about it? You’re supposed to HAMMER, dang it! No one besides you and your weird, hammer handle fetishists give anything about this, we just want to see that nail in the wall so we can hang our picture up.

Or whatever you do with a hammer, I don’t know… I am just a computer scientists.

Sidenote: If you Gates or Jobs fanboys (and let’s face it, you’re all male) start one more catfight in my vicinity without even knowing what the Xerox Alto or Star were, I’m going to personally devour your offspring. Should you ever get some, that is…

Flüchtlingsarbeit – Working with refugees

English version below

Mal wieder ne lange Pause… Und dann auch noch ein deutscher Post, aber was soll’s.

Dieser Tage sind die Nachrichten ja voll von Berichten über die Flüchtlingsproblematik. Gestern erst habe ich im TV gehört, dass die Bereitschaft der Deutschen, Flüchtlinge aufzunehmen zurück geht, was mich sehr besorgt hat. Berichte über Gewalt oder Hass gegenüber Flüchtlingen bringen mich sogar richtig in Rage.

Sozusagen als Gegengewicht will ich deshalb hier einmal über etwas Positives aus meinem Umfeld berichten.

Seit mehreren Monaten gibt meine Mutter Deutschunterricht in einem Flüchtlingsheim in ihrer Nachbarschaft. Das macht mich richtig stolz, weil ich finde, dass es wichtig ist, diese Menschen hier Willkommen zu heißen und ihnen zu zeigen, dass wir ihnen helfen möchten.

Gruppenbild im Rittersaal

Die Familien mit uns Betreuern im Rittersaal

In dem Zusammenhang habe ich auch ein wenig mit den Leuten zu tun. Die meisten kommen aus Syrien, aber nicht alle. Neben meiner Mutter gibt es noch mehrere Ehrenamtliche und es geht natürlich nicht nur um Deutschunterricht. Sie unternehmen auch Ausflüge, helfen bei der Wohnungssuche etc. Da ich im Moment flexibel mit meiner Zeit bin, konnte ich auch schon ein bisschen helfen, letzte Woche haben wir in großer Gruppe einen Ausflug nach Schloss Burg gemacht. Fünf Autos haben wir voll bekommen (gut, dass ich mittlerweile auch eins davon beisteuern konnte).

Und jetzt die erfreuliche Überraschung: Als meine Mutter in Schloss Burg fragte, ob es eventuell eine Ermäßigung für die Flüchtlinge gebe, ließ man uns kurzerhand völlig gratis in die Burg! Wir waren immerhin an die 30 Leute (inklusive sechs “Betreuer”)!

Ich fand das sehr freundlich vom Verwalter der Burg, ein schönes Zeichen. Wir haben dann auch jeder entsprechend etwas in die Spendenbox der Burg gegeben, auch die Flüchtlingsfamilien. Es hat allen sehr gut gefallen (Schloss Burg ist ganz generell einen Ausflug wert, kann ich nur empfehlen).

English version:

Another long pause is over… and now I even wrote a German entry (well, with this translation added afterwards).

These days the news is full of stories about the refugee problem. Just yesterday I heard on TV that the Germans are now less willing to take in more people fleeing from the crisis areas. This concerns me. And then there’s stories about actual hate and violence against refugees, which not just concerns me, but makes me really angry.

So, as kind of a small counter balance to this, I wanted to write about something positive from my immediate surroundings.

A couple of months ago my mother started giving German lessons in a refugee shelter that opened in her neighborhood. I’m really proud of her for that, because I believe it’s important to welcome these people here and show them that we want to help.

group picture in the knights' hall

The families with us custodians in the knights’ hall

Her efforts ultimately lead to me getting to know the refugees as well. Most of them are from Syria, but not all. Of course there’s not just my mother, other volunteers help, too. It’s not all about German lessons either, they go on trips, help finding apartments etc. Since I’m flexible with my time at the moment, I can occasionally assist, too. So last week we had a big trip to Burg Castle (German: Schloss Burg). Five cars full of people (so it’s good I am finally motorized myself and could provide one of those).

So, now to the good news: When my mother asked the staff in Burg Castle whether they had perhaps a reduced entry fee, they, without further ado, let us in for free! Even though we were about 30 people (including us “custodians”)!

I think that was very, very nice by the castle’s administrator. As thanks we all put a few € into the donation chest, as did the refugee families. Everybody liked the trip (Burg Castle sure is worth a visit, I can recommend it to everybody).

Relaunch of this blog

Okay, I have to face it: The idea to use a blog to spark advancement in my research didn’t work too well. I guess I wasn’t after it enough to actually lead to something useful and by now my work has diverted from those few original posts anyways.

Actually I have arrived at this conclusion quite some time ago already, but I was unsure what to do with this dead end here. Should I delete it? But what about the off chance that somebody actually linked to this, or stumbles on hints about it in some other context? Even if the probability of that is low, I didn’t want to just delete it and leave some obscure void behind.

So after thinking about it in circles for several months I guess the only thing I can do is write a final post about it and then do something different with the blog.

Lately there have been some thoughts from my private, not work-related life that I thought might deserve being put to paper. Er, to digital writing…

Knowing me that doesn’t mean my posting frequency would necessarily increase at all, but from now on I will at least have a theoretical place to put this stuff.

In the future this blog might (or might not, as I said I know me…) get posts about personal stuff. Random rants about internet life (cause I’m a dork), roleplaying or even anime. I might even write in German for family and non-English speaking friends (some actually asked about this, believe it or not).

I won’t delete the initial few posts, but I guess if I really do go through with writing about hobby stuff they will eventually be pushed back enough to vanish in comparison to the rest.

Finding targets to rob

Update: Yes, even six years later. Sophie from Comparitech let me know that seems now defunct and that in fact the site has some malicious looking links on it. See my new coding blog for more info or check Comparitech’s article on how to stay anonymous on the web.

Yes, you got that right. Of course the whole thing is a bit satirical, but it actually shows a big issue with location-aware applications. I’m talking about It’s basically a service that let’s you check where people are at the moment and where they live.

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