Ending the Experiment

March 17, 2006

The last post already hinted that I was unsure on how to proceed with this blog. Well, I made my decision now.

Since I don’t have enough time and not enough to say to continue this in any meaningful manner, I’ll stop posting to the blog. It will share the fate of countless other blogs that were started eagerly and then discarded.

I made this post not so much for a hypothetical reader, but more for myself – to place a period at the end of the sentence that is Drangon’s Digital Den. Maybe I learned something good during the experience, maybe not. Maybe my English improved, maybe not. But at least I came away with some new knowledge and a little bit of experience.

Farewell.


Transition to WordPress.com

February 19, 2006

I grew increasingly unhappy with Blogger, so I decided to move the Digital Den over to wordpress.com.

This has been a mixed blessing so far, because I had to hand-edit most of my previous posts to fit here. At least the HTML is now cleaner than what was previously produced by the Blogger WYSIWYG editor. Apropos editor – why the heck is the WordPress one missing justified alignment?! I find justified text just so much more readable and better looking – well, unless the spacing is screwed up…

There are a lot of features available Blogger lacks: Categories, the neat post preview function, included visitor stats, and a Blogroll. On the downside, I can’t freely edit the template. :-/

About that Blogroll-Thingy: I don’t actually know what a Blogroll is supposed to be. I know that you link to other blogs and stuff, but then again, it defaults to wordpress.com and wordpress.org. I guess I’ll just stick in a few of the blogs I read. And maybe next time actually write a post that has some interesting content…

I guess the problem is, that I just can’t decide whether to keep this thing just for fun or actually devote time to it, so it’s not so half-assed anymore.

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Picasa coming to Linux?

February 14, 2006

During my daily websurfing I came across an article on DesktopLinux.com, where rumours are spread that Google software is soon to run on Linux. Apparently Google is in contact with CodeWeavers to make this happen.

CodeWeavers is known for its modified Wine-version called CrossOver Office, which – you guessed it – runs Microsoft Office under Linux. Apparently Google would like CW to do the same with its own software, starting with Picasa. Neither of the two companies did comment on the issue though; the article invokes “Sources close to the project”.

Apart from this uncertainity, the thing that bothered me most was the part about other Google applications following suit, if Picasa was successful.

Sure, Picasa is nice, but there are already good alternatives for the Linux Desktop (e. g. iOta, digiKam). Google Earth on the other side, is very tricky to set up using Wine only.

I can understand that they want to try this with a comparatively simple program like Picasa first, but honestly, Picasa is not exactly the Google program the Linux Desktop needs – and hence, it might not exactly be successfull. I hope that’s not going to be the point that denies us other Google Applications…

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Cool Text

February 12, 2006

After previously posting about an ASCII Generator, I thought I’d also share the link to Cool Text, a website that lets you render a custom Text Logo.

The FAQ says, that the image can be used without restriction, so I set out to create a Logo for this blog.The image was not very optimized size-wise, so I recompressed it with OptiPNG. That reduced the filesize by more than a third – Makes people on slow connections happy. ;-)

Time to put it up.

Aww, damn. Call me stupid, but I can’t insert the image into the template; the CSS keeps messing up everything… :-(

Well, I can at least post it below, so that you get an idea of what Cool Text-Logos look like:

Drangon's Digital Den Logo

Dubbing

January 31, 2006

Through the wonder of DVDs I’ve been watching more and more movies in their original English language. In Germany almost all video content is dubbed (i.e. dialogue is replaced with a German translation); it actually is kinda hard to get original language content unless you buy the DVD, since untranslated movies are only shown about once a week, late at night. And only in cinemas, not on TV.

It’s great to have a movie in your native language, but now that I started paying attention, I noticed that the result is often imperfect – sentences not finished properly, awkward language, timing issues (German words are longer on average than English ones), or ocasionally outright translation errors. I was really startled when I started paying attention, because all but the most gross issues kinda are corrected subconsciously.

The thing that surprised me most was that accents generally are ignored. In retrospect it seems logical, since there is no German equivalent to, say, Cockney. Generally, the only accents kept – or rather replaced with German equivalents – are the clich├ęd ones: French, Russian, Chinese, Texan, etc. Some others do keep their vocabulary (say, the scottish ‘aye’), but that’s mostly it.
It’s confusing when the dialogue directly touches the accent – sometimes it’s smoothed over (e.g. someone – falsely – claiming that the character in question falls into mumbling sometimes, instead of pointing out that he’s Canadian), but other times no explanation is given.

Another topic is humour. That’s hard to get right, and it is the area where most of the mistakes are made. That’s because humour often depends on word ambiguity, alliterations/rhymes or things every native speaker would know. It is remarkable how successfull dubbing is in this respect nonetheless. But when it fails, you notice.

Still, there are some movies where IMHO the localized version improved upon the original: Pirates of the Carribean does seem to be a lot funnier to me in German. Mainly because of added emphasis here or there – the characters are more over-the-top without it seeming silly. On the other hand, maybe on average there isn’t as much emphasis in English and I just didn’t notice yet…

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How does Google collect and rank results?

December 23, 2005

I just found the article “How does Google collect and rank results?” linked on digg, and I thought the author did an excellent job of explaining the inner workings of a search engine in simple terms.

I had a post explaining the same things in draft state, but decided to scrap it – No need to waste time on doing something, someone else has already done better than I could.

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IMAP

December 7, 2005

Since I’m now studying at the University of Kaiserslautern, I’m using multiple computers: The one in my domicile, the terminals of the Computer Science departement, my parents’ computer when I’m visiting home and in the future maybe a Laptop.

The problem that arose, was how to keep my stuff synced between all these. Sharing simple files is not much of a problem since the university machines are always on, and I can access them remotely via SSH.
Browser Bookmarks were a little trickier. I thought about uploading them to the web, but doing that manually would be tedious. After looking around for a bit, I found a nice Firefox Extension, Bookmarks Synchronizer, which does it for me automatically.

What remains is my email. Sure, I could use the Web Interface, but… I don’t like it.
The first thing I thought of was to carry my email with me on a USB-Stick, but that proved to be even more annoying. Then I considered paying my mailprovider GMX for IMAP access. IMAP allows you to maintain all email on the server of the provider, so I would not have to manually sync. I applied for the 30-day trial.

Frankly, it sucks. They wrote the server themselves, and it doesn’t allow for nested folders – no more subfolders for my mailinglists. Dang. They also advertised their Organizer and Adressbook features for the Pro Mail option, but that’s web based as well. Web based only. You can’t automatically sync it to, say, Kontact. Well, if IMAP worked properly, KMail could store Organizer and Addressbook data in the mailbox… but no. Conclusion: Not really worth the money.

Time to see who else offers IMAP. Aha! Web.de. Free of charge, even. Signed up. Signed out. 12 MB storage space. HELLO?! That kind of defeats the purpose, doesn’t it? Why have IMAP at all if the user cannot store all mails on the server? Maybe that’s their way to prevent people from using too many server ressources. Maybe I oughtta pay them for more storage…

Guess I’ll just suffer through not always having my mails with me. It’s not like I’m addicted or something. Really. I can stop anytime I want. Believe me. Please…?

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