Random Observations on the Subway

On the subway here in Düsseldorf there is a sign that tells travelers to not stand directly in front of the doors where the steps fold out or they won’t open.

There have actually been several variations of this sign that have been used over the years. Here is number one, the oldest version I know of. The funny thing about this sign is, that while the English version instructs you, to keep off the “red coloured area”, the German version refers to the color as “orange”.

Variant (1)

In a later version of the sign, shown below, this inconsistency has been fixed and the steps are now referred to as “orange” in both English and German.

Variant (2)

And here’s the latest version I saw just the other day. The question of what to call the color is now avoided completely.

Variant (3)

This was probably for the best. Because after all these years, the steps are now more gray than orange (or red).


New Home Office Is Now Complete

When I got my Surface Pro two months ago to replace my seven-year old laptop, it kicked off a gradual updating of my home office. With the arrival of a Dyson Air Multiplier today, the transformation is now complete and I couldn’t be happier with the results.

Dyson Air Multiplier completes my Home Office

I know it’s a lot of stuff. And at first, you might think this contradicts my plans to make my life simpler and reduce clutter. But I actually use every single item on that desk at least once a week. Also, the docking station, monitor, keyboard and all that other stuff on the right isn’t really mine, but these things are just for when I work from home. I simply need to plug in my laptop and I’m ready to go (or rather stay. And work). I also some room on the right where my Xbox One will go.

As more and more people in the vicinity have been getting Wi-Fi, the signal strength of my own Wi-Fi has been deteriorating steadily. So I’ve been forced to run a wire from my router to my desk and hook up my computer, Xbox and docking station to a switch. Originally, I wanted to run an HDMI cable from the docking station to my main monitor, but it only has two HDMI inputs which are already occupied by my Surface and the Xbox. I ended up connecting the docking station via VGA, which even in Full HD delivers a surprisingly crisp image. This has the advantage that every device is always connected to its display(s), and the displays automatically pick up the signal from the device I’m using. No more fiddling with cables. I love it.

Here’s a look behind the scenes/screens where everything is hidden away.

Behind The Scenes

Impressions from Maker Faire Hannover

Yesterday, I was in Hannover attending Maker Faire. There were a lot more people there than I had expected and also a ton of interesting and cool things to see and here.

A favorite among the electronics crowd was Arduino. There wasn’t a project that didn’t use these inexpensive microcontrollers. Unfortunately, I didn’t see any .NET Gadgeteer projects there. The Microsoft presence was limited to a developer evangelist presentation and Q&A about Kinect for Windows; although he said that at Maker Faires in the US, Microsoft was much more involved. I seriously considered getting an Arduino starter kit, but I guess I should first put the .NET Gadgeteer starter kit I have had for almost two years to better use.

Another favorite among the exhibitors: 3D printers. At pretty much every other stand there was a 3D printer. All different kinds of models and modes of operation. Here is the fabbster 3D printer hard at work printing my vase/sculpture (video and a picture of the final product below). It’s still a bit rough around the edges, but it was only a concept print anyway.

3D Printer at Work

3D Vase

But it wasn’t just about 3D printing. The beauty of this Maker Faire was the breadth of topics. There were

  • quadcopters (see video at the end),
  • human-sized robots playing bass guitar which you can hear in the background of the quadcopter video
  • plastic and wooden jewelry designed on a computer and cut by laser cutters,
  • steam punk objects (see picture of a laptop below),
  • a presentation on how to use Kinect for Windows to create cool new applications and user interactions (incl. a glimpse at what the Kinect coming with Xbox One will be able to do)
  • Railuino, an Arduino based controller plus Android app for Märklin model trains
  • tons of other things…

Overall it was just a huge festival celebrating everything Maker. Pretty cool. Here are some more random pictures from the event.

Maker Faire Banner

Another 3D Printer


Steam Punk