High-end Android phones

April 9th, 2014

As long as the better Android phones are still shipped with region lock and worse battery exchange / repair than iPhone I say: Thanks but no thanks - and stay with the iPhone. Unless of course future models make battery change even harder as well, … :-/

ExactScan Pro batch processing

March 19th, 2014

ExactScan Pro had the ability to batch process existing files for quite some time. The Pro version allows to process existing, e.g. archived files as if they came fro the scanner. This allows for TIFF to PDF conversion, adding OCR for searchable documents, adjust colors, compression or whatever your use case or workflow requires.

As we constantly listen to customer feedback carefully and try to work suggestions into our product we further improved this batch feature to also allow to use the input filename as output filename. Before this change the ExactScan logic for scanning documents would have defined the new output filename - which would be something like: ~/Documents/Scan-{Page#}.png or similar.

Since yesterday’s 2.27.4 release we added a new file naming token: {Filename} which is exactly what you would expect now: the original input filename. For this to work you also need to set the Directory to the file-system root: / as the {Filename} expands to the whole input file. We first thought to simply make the new token just the base filename without the whole path. However, that way the file would not end up in the same directory, e.g. ~/Documents instead.

While at it we also added a new {Resolution} token, allowing to name your scans with the actually scanned resolution in the filename, like: Scan-{Page#}-{Resolution}dpi.pdf.

Made in Berlin; Germany.

Dell UltraSharp 24″ 4K UP2414Q on Mac

January 27th, 2014

Just a quick note: The affordable, and color accurate 24″ 4K display from Dell (UP2414Q) does work on recent Macs. Even my not so recent mid-2012 Retina MacBook Pro. However, on these, and even the later Retina MacBook Pro it only runs the full 4k resolution at 30 Hz. On the newer it should work with 60Hz, but this currently looks to be a Mac driver limitation.

Switching to HiDPI mode requires some hackery, as Mac does neither do this automatically according to the DPI that could be derived from the DDC EDID data, nor does it offer a UI option to do so, … :-/

As I never in life run a display at 30Hz the first thing to notice is mouse lag. One would think it would be snappy, given that regular cinema runs at 24Hz. But at 30Hz mouse input just feels laggy and decreases the feel of using the UI with the mouse quite a bit.

Of course working with graphic, text, most notably source code at HiDPI is just amazing. What Apple should fix:

  • default to HiDPI with a scaling option for external display, just like for internal
  • fix the driver of latest Macs to support high-bandwidth, Multi-Stream Tiled displays

PS: 16:9 really is annoying for work, 16:10 should be the standard for Pro work, and cinema is more like 21:9 anyway, …

Harpertown Xeon do not work in MacPro 1,1-2,1

January 15th, 2014

Some posts scattered on the web claimed a Harpertown Xeon, like the X5470 could work in a MacPro 2,1 (or eve 1,1 - they are hardware identical, just different firmware) given they still use the same LGA 771 socket. There even is a post where someone claims that he got a voice message from Apple confirming Harpertown support for his MacPro 2,1.

However, yesterday I tried that (Mac Pro 2,1 with the newer firmware) and I can assure you they do not work. The main logic board led indicator CPUB failure would light but nothing much else would happen.

Another note: Before you pull like crazy on the front fan assembly: mine were fixed with a second screw, the disassembly guides I found only mentioned one at the main logic board, however I had a second screw holding it in place just at the bottom side, where the CPU heat sinks end.

PS: It was actually still quite good that I disassembled the beast. With the original Xeon’s it still works (puh!), and considering that after some 6 years of 24/7 server load it was full of dust and so an internal cleanup was more than overdue ;-)

The bubble waiting to burst 2.0 :-/

January 14th, 2014

Unfortunately there are followups to my precious notes about the current .NET bubble. Google buys Nest Labs for a whopping 3.2 billion $US no less.

Nest has a niche product, currently only operating in the US, and not even with any international sales.

There are profitable, serious, big, decades in business companies that value for significantly less, …

But then again Google Ventures is a previous investor, so my understanding is Google Ventures would get at least a bit of that money back?

Zweierlei Maß

October 23rd, 2013

Ich bin irritiert. Zu Beginn der Veröffentlichung interner NSA Präsentations Unterlagen, dass so gut wie alle “normalen” Bürger -egal ob Europäer, Amerikaner, oder anderswo- überwacht, ja ausspioniert werden war das unseren Politikern noch egal. “Alles gegen den Terrorismus” hieß es. Ja unser Profalla erklärte die NSA Affäre schnell für beendet.

Das unsere Deutschen, und Europäischen Politiker sich nicht denken konnten, dass gerade Sie wohl eher weiter oben auf der Überwachungs-Liste der NSA stehen?

Und jetzt wo sich wohl der Verdacht erhärtet das unsere Kanzlerin auch selbst abgehört wurde beschwert Sie sich bei Obama?

Wenn 99% der restlichen Bevölkerung überwacht werden ist es also egal, und bestimmt gut gegen Terrorismus. Aber wenn es dann doch einen Politiker trifft ist es auf einmal nicht mehr gut?

Es ist doch logisch, dass gerade einflussreiche Politiker ganz oben auf der NSA Wunschliste stehen, … das ist doch nun wirklich das normalte der Welt, dass sich Regierungen gegenseitig versuchen in die Karten zu schauen, … !!!

Also in Zeiten wie diesen muss man dann doch wirklich an der Intelligenz unserer Volksvertreter zweifeln.

Ich finde wo doch viele Politiker immer so für Überwachung und Vorratsdaten-Speicherung sind: Gerade Sie sollten doch mal am meisten überwacht werden. Gerade in Hinblick auf Transparenz gegenüber dem eigenen Volk. Bei den vielen Skandalen, Vetternwirtschaft, und Vorteilsname.

Bei 99% der Bevölkerung ist sicherlich nicht viel zu holen, wenn dann sollten wohl eher die einflussreichen 1% und damit auch gerade Politiker besonders überwacht werden.

Aus dieser einfachen 1:99 Überlegung merkt man doch auf einen Blick, dass die weitreichende Überwachung aller Bürger nicht der Terrorismus-Bekämpfung, sondern ganz einfach der Industrie-Spionage, sowie der generellen Unterdrückung und Einflussnahme geht.

Ich für meinen Teil möchte jedenfalls nicht in einem Überwachungs-, oder Polizeistaat leben. Wie das endet haben nicht nur viele in der DDR, oder anderen Regimen dieser Welt erlebt, es war und ist auch schon oft genug Thema von Romanen, Thrillern, und Sci-Fi.

Wir leben in einer Informations-Gesellschaft, haben ein Internet voller Informationen, und Geschichtsbücher zur Hand. Wie können wir es wieder so weit kommen lassen?

Update: Aber wie schon von Frau Merkel mehrfach gesagt: Auch Ihre Überwachung ist nacht Recht und Gesetzt :-/

German Medical Care

October 23rd, 2013

Уважаемые Клиенты German Medical Care,

1. НОВОСТИ GerMedCare
Время идет, осень совсем скоро сменит зима. В преддверии холодов, смены года и предстоящих праздников хочется
не только начать подводить первые итоги работы, но и напомнить, что так как конец года обычно является активным
временем, когда многие из Вас пользуются возможностью долгих праздников, чтобы не только хорошо отдохнуть,
но и потратить часть пред и после новогоднего отпуска на себя и на заботу о своем здоровье, все это нужно планировать заранее.
Начиная с 10 декабря консульства будут перегружены, срок оформления визы может быть увеличен до нескольких недель.
С 23 декабря консульства будут закрыты на Рождество, а вот с 3 января 2014 года в Германии работа уже продолжится в обычном режиме.

Что касается первых итогов, положительной тенденцией является тот факт, что около половины наших новых клиентов
приходят к нам по рекомендации, что накладывает еще больше ответственности на нашу работу и говорит о Вашем доверии.
Радует, что большинство наших клиентов - это пациенты, которые успешно прошли лечение и регулярно подтверждают,
что здоровы или пациенты, которые проходят регулярный годовой осмотр в превентивных целях, а также пациенты,
которым необходимо то или иное высококвалифицированное лечение.

Мы так же прислушались к Вашим пожеланиям и чаще предлагаем Вам на выбор лечение в исключительно частных
клиниках Германии, помимо государственных. Преимущество исключительно частной клиники - это в первую очередь
время,которое доктор тратит на пациента. В частной клинике у доктора больше времени для детального разговора,
осмотра и ведения лечения, а также возможность привлечь по интересующему Вас вопросу специалиста как
широкого профиля, так и специалиста узкоспециализирующегося именно по Вашему вопросу.

Мы всегда работаем с выбранными докторами с хорошей репутацией и с клиниками, которые предоставляют
самый высокий уровень профессиональных медицинских услуг. Что касается ценовой политики - диагностика в среднем
стоит одинаково везде, стоимость операции может меняться в зависимости от уровня доктора, чем более
узкоспециализируется доктор, тем его услуги дороже, и от уровня комфорта в клинике.
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Why Windows “RT” is such a fail

October 22nd, 2013

For me it is no surprise that most vendors stopped adopting the “RT” flavor of Windows. The main reason people want the old, and buggy pile of junk that is the decade old legacy Windows code are exactly that: legacy Windows apps. Be that office, industrial, games, what not, …

With Windows “RT” you do not get anything of that. Worse: Developers can not even re-compile their existing apps for the “RT” desktop. I guess there would be plenty of smaller, and also bigger Windows companies who would do so with pleasure. But no: Microsoft just would not allow for that. What a pity. And a fail trying to copy Apple even up to the software lock in. For Apple it certainly only works because they had awesome looking and a pleasure to use software on (r)evolutionary hardware. And after a head-start they had enough customers locked into their eco system. But people do not love Microsoft like that. Au contraire: after decades of crashing DOS and Windows, and hindering competitors due their monopoly powers people do not want to be locked into a Microsoft product or eco system yet again. So for Microsoft to gain traction it would have made much more sense to allow side-installs like on classic Windows boxes just as well.

Oh, and then there is the SecureBoot (or what it is called for Windows on ARM). So developers, researchers, students and enthusiast can not even buy the hardware from the overfilled and non-selling Surface RT stock to put Linux or any other of their own OS flavor on it, … :-/

Microsoft Surface Pro 2 first unboxing

October 17th, 2013

Usually I’m not in this “unboxing” and “hands-on” business. But as the Microsoft Surface Pro 2 arrived early, this morning, here go some public service unboxing shoots:





In generally a quite good first impression, especially as I’m getting so tired of the scratchy and hard edged aluminum cases in Apple’s PowerBooks MacBooks, iPhones and iPads, …

Some first notes: Given the two kickstand positions, I wonder how the 1st, old snap-in position ever could be useful, … For me the 1st position is not even a good match on an office desk, … And why (the heck) is the BIOS/EFI (hold volume [rocker] up button while powering up to get into the EFI BIOS) startup background so ugly red when SecureBoot is disabled (to install Linux and such)?!?!

Update: If the original Surface Pro battery life was short, the v2 definitely is well an improvement for that. 7h battery life for normal office, developer tasks are quite possible. Your milage may vary. However as non-Windows users I’m a bit irritated that still some old fashioned dialogs are not resolution aware, and thus scaled-up blurry. For example System Control ones, like detailed network settings, e.g. static IP config and such, … One should think a huge company like Microsoft gets all such system-wide details covered over the years, …

Update 2: The machine feels pretty solid, in ways quite outstanding engineering, … I just can not get so warm with the Touch and Type covers. The Touch Cover does not really register every key touch, leading to re-typing some words again, and the Type cover too does not feel too solid, with the fabric edges looking like they may peel off as known from the first try already, …

Update 3: Looks like the Surface Pros will only boot thru EFI, that is no legacy BIOS compatibility “layer” in the EFI firmware (BIOS). So you need a “bleeding-edge” Linux distributions and can not boot older versions, nor Windows XP or such, …

Why I might get a Microsoft Surface 2 Pro

September 29th, 2013

I tweeted it already the other week:

The number one reason for that is plain simple: Productivity for content creation. While I had most iPhones and iPads (like every other generation) I use my iPhone most of the time, but the iPad is mostly just sitting on my desk or bag waiting for the next software test. For occasional reading in public transport it feels too big and heavy, I use the iPhone for that. And for real office productivity the iPad just does not work for more than basic email response. Of course my situation as computer scientist is a bit special. I simply can not do (any serious) programming directly on the iPad. So during the commute, airplane taxi, or on a passenger seat I can not do much with the iPad except consuming something (like news, or a book) answering an email or so. I can not work on an algorithm, fix some bug, or things like that.

Of course with the Surface RT it is even worse: you get the system restrictions with even less apps. The only improvement over that is the Surface Pro. I think it is the biggest mistake from Microsoft to limit the RT’s classic, desktop apps like that. Without that arbitrary restriction (again copying Apple) even Windows RT could be more popular, e.g. for classic, legacy business workflows. Basically the classic Windows customers, maybe the only marked Microsoft Windows is still strong.

While I already considered the first Surface Pro I mostly did not get it due the abysmal battery life. Two to three hours of “normal, real use” (in contrast to the just on, dimmed display, not touched setup used for this longer, official rating) is just not good these days. Of course I knew the Intel “Haswell” CPU Core generation was just around the corner, so I was awaiting this update.

Now the Surface Pro 2 is announced and it delivers just that: A 75% improvement in battery life they promise (and [graphic] performance) due Intel Haswell generation CPUs. Along with some minor improvements left and right (display, touch cover backlit keyboard, dock and such, …). Remaining drawbacks? 40% more weight (900g vs. 652g) and thickness, and probably about half the iPad’s battery life, …

Of course the biggest hurdle still is the Windows OS. As engineer, and spending more than a decade in the open source, Linux side of the world I do not have the highest words for the mess that is Win32 API, kernel and UI design with decade old DOS and 16 bit legacy cruft built-in. Of course the latest NSA scandal does not contribute to the faith in their security and possible crypto or real backdoors to the system.

However, it should be possible (at least there are reports it works with the 1st gen Surface Pro) to also run Linux on it (after disabling SecureBoot that is). This is also something not (easily) possible with the iPad (or the Surface RT). And it should (theoretically) be possible to even run Mac OS X on it, …

So the new, Surface Pro 2 should theoretically vastly boost my productivity while on-the-go: More than answering emails or plain “media” consumption: Aside from real emails, with different attachments, spread sheets, PDF invoices, spec sheets, etc. to real work: code, design. And this likewise applies to others, too. Think photographers, graphic designers working with some Gimp-like program (Photoshop et al.), real office spreadsheets and documents, presentations, etc. Also a plus, and a must: An usable USB port - where I can plug in some USB device to work with, such as a document scanner. And when you come to work you can plug in your desktop class display, keyboard and mouse and work on.

Yes, there are apps for many things on iOS. But let’s face it: aside some awesome games, and social apps most things are toys. Next to no real (that is more than basic features) word, spread, photo or graphic editing. And given the extreme iOS (and Windows RT) restrictions next to no computer science programming. Aside graphical calculators, BASIC, and a Lua shell, or two.

I know, I do not like Windows, the Win32 Api is disgusting, it is full of security issues, the old apps are not touch optimized, … But at the end of the day being able to write some code and send out some more complex email (with more than one kind of attachment) and with a real keyboard, is what counts to get work done.

There could be a point, even in the near future, where productivity on iOS gets better: If Apple continues to push it’s own 64-bit ARM CPUs to the MacBook Air (as they already announced is as “desktop class” performance), there could be an quad-core A8 MacBook Air in one or two years. If iOS and Mac OS X further merge there could be similar, full-blown graphical, office, and science apps for that.

However, to be really useful for the growing class of programmers: Some of the restrictions need to be lifted: be able to generate and run code (for programming, think Xcode), allow to fork of new processes (for anything, from helper programs in scientific apps, to scripting, Xcode, compiler, converter, anything beyond simple apps. And of course the USB port should be fully usable for custom drivers and apps, …

Some of the iOS restrictions are really silly, and what starts to drive some people away from it :-/