Lovecity up and running

February 22nd, 2007

A child is born: Lovecity, our location based mobile phone game, is up and running and participants are starting to play. Today we received about 250 SMS from players, including some from ourselves.

The last weeks have been a painful but highly rewarding time. I am extremely grateful to work with such a talented and enthusiastic team:

  • Capra and Michael do a great job on the website
  • Matt and Rachel provide the artistic input, polish things up and suffer from several nervous breakdowns (kidding!)
  • Robin and Christoph doing a tremendous job behind the curtains as lovely code monkeys

It’s been a blast. Thank you!

Visit the Lovecity website and join the game if you are from Derby, Leicester or Nottingham. It is live up to the 14th of march.

Getting to Grips with TurboGears

January 15th, 2007

I kept this log of my TurboGears installation process on my Windows XP Pro machine.

  • ~19:20: visited webpage “”
  • 19:25 – 19:28: installed running “” with an existing Python 2.4.2
  • added c:\python24\scripts to the path
  • 19:31: ran “tg-admin info”
  • started writing this notes-file
  • 19:36: started to follow the “getting started” tutorial at
  • 19:37: “easy_install docutils” … distutils are working great!
  • 19:38: “easy_install pysqlite” is not working 🙁
    No local packages or download links found for pysqlite
    error: Could not find suitable distribution for Requirement.parse(‘pysqlite’)
    site mentioning such a problem on ubuntu:
    “easy_install -f pysqlite”
  • 19:42: that seems to have worked
  • 19:45: got IPython which was mentioned in the tutorial (
  • 19:48: “tg-admin quickstart” (output saved to quickstart_log.txt)
  • 19:51: ran webpage using “start-leiftest1” (output saved to server_log.txt)

Voila, just thirty minutes from first contact with webpage to a working own installation and I even had an unexpected problem to solve on the way. That seems pretty impressive to me – I like TurboGears!

Japanese (?) site talking about my Ubicomp paper

December 6th, 2006

I just stumbled across the japanese (?) Academic Ubiquitous InfoDB which clearly summarizes our Ubicomp 2006 paper. Cool, if only I could read those unfamiliar signs.

Out and about in the O.C.

September 18th, 2006

As part of the Exurban Noir workshop at the Ubicomp 2006 conference, I spent a day out in Orange County. Here is a description of what had been prepared for us:
Group 4: Private Investigations and boats

Guide: Rob W.

“Robert spent 30 years as a federal agent, training in Washington DC. He has been inside the White House at least six times, met several presidents, and got tossed out of Congress for asking too many questions. He once investigated and obtained a conviction of an Orange County congressman. He is a certified fraud examiner. He is now a private investigator based out of Newport Beach, and travels widely for work. He has been conducting investigations for a total of 35 years.

Your Mission

Rob will pick you up at the Marriott after the morning session of the workshop. He will take you for a tour of his office, elaborating on his day-to-day activities as a private investigator. On a normal Sunday afternoon, he’d probably be boating, so take the ferry across Newport Harbor. Visit some yachts. Before dinner, explore Fashion Island with him. He is very flexible about his itinerary, so if there’s anything you’re curious about, be sure to ask!”

Pictures of the day are online at the workshop blog. You can also follow the day by opening this KML for Google Earth (which has MP3 audio in it – works with Quicktime). Molly Steenson, one of my group mates during the workshop, wrote a detailed recap in her blog.
The workshop proceedings are here (PDF) – our position paper is called “The Digital City: Sex, Cams and Scams” and can be found on page 30.

Transcoding Audio

August 2nd, 2006

Ever ran into the problem of having an audio-file in one format but really needing it in another format? Then check BeSweet GUI, it’s awesome!

Encoding AVI to MPEG files

July 31st, 2006

Just a little note about TMPEGEnc 2.5x which is a fantastic, no non-sense video encoding program that just works. It can encode your (DV-)AVI files into MPEG. Options include PAL/NTSC, VideoCD/SVCD/DVD with or wihout Variable bitrate and all that stuff. The point here is that you can actually configure it down to the tiny details, but you don’t have to since it just works out of the box. The visual quality of the results is great, too, although a friend on mine argues that Cinemacraft files look better.

The free test-version gives you unlimited time to encode MPEG1 (VideoCD), but to use the MPEG2 (SVCD/DVD) capabilities for longer than a month you have to register the program for about 37$. Fair enough.

Doom9 DVD tutorials

July 31st, 2006

Similarly to the Digital Fact Book, the Doom9 page is a fantastic, more hands-on page full of tutorials and in-depth knowledge about video-enconding and transcoding. It has been online for years and is still updated frequently. Highly recommended!

Quantel’s Digital Fact Book

July 31st, 2006

Quantel’s Digital Fact Book is a valueable resource for all who are interested in digital video. I learnt about Quantel’s products while I was an intern in the VCC post-production in Hamburg. Some colleague recommended it to me back then and I was fortunate enough to be able to order a free printed version. I don’t think they provide you with free copies anymore, but you can grab the full thing as PDF from the above page.

added ClustrMap

July 26th, 2006

Added a Clustrmap to the sidebar.

./wp-content/default/sidebar.php needed to be modified

Morgen ist Heute Gestern

July 26th, 2006

The short-film Morgen ist Heute Gestern (tomorrow is today yesterday) is the result of 7 students teaming up to complete a second semester video-coursework assignment for their Media Informatics studies. Everything in this film is selfmade, including the music. Our script is based on the cassandra complex which denotes the ability to foresee the future but being unable to change it. As such, our film has a similar theme to Terry Gilliam’s Twelve Monkeys (1995) or James Cameron’s Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991). Visually, we were obviously influenced by movies like Run Lola Run (1998) and Pulp Fiction (1994). Another influence (at least for me) was Wes Craven’s Shocker (1989) which features a great sequence of characters travelling through tv-channels.

The main idea in our interpretation of the cassandra complex is to have a tv presenter reading the news of the future. Our main character realizes that his tv broadcasts personalized news of his own future. Throughout the 15 minutes of the film he changes his attitude from non-active over reactive to proactive. This composition produces an accelerating pace of the plot which gears up towards the climax of the story.

The film has no dialogues and the few spoken words are those of the tv presenter reading the news to the main character. We decided to do this for two reasons:

  1. it mimics the traditional mass media producer-consumer pattern
  2. not having to deal with spoken words helped us to concentrate on the production processes that we wanted to learn about

Morgen ist Heute Gestern won the “Harzer Medienpreis 1999” which was proclaimed by Hochschule Harz, Harzer Volksstimme, Freizeit & Tourismus Center Halberstadt and the mayors of the cities of Wernigerode and Halberstadt. They never proclaimed the prize again, which makes it a kind of small one-off thing. But on the evening of the 16.7.1999 the 2 hours competition was shown to about 400 paying customers in the local cinema and it felt absolutely thrilling! Thanks to Prof. Wolfgang Kissel and Karl-Heinz Burbank for initiating that event. The film has been broadcasted on the open channels of Saxony-Anhalt in the weeks after the event.

You can find production notes on the project website (hosted by my friend Frank Rößler). Unfortunately the film doesn’t seem to be availble on his site anymore, but a third party amateur movie website called Kanal Global (not YouTube as this was 1999/2000 ;)) claims to host the film in its member section.