Thursday, October 20, 2005

Vacation in Pardell/Klausen, South Tyrol, Italy

We spend a week at the Gasserhof in Pardell which is a village near the town Klausen in South Tyrol. The appartment we had was lovely and we enjoyed also the hospitality (including some lovely cakes and chestnuts on saturday - yummy) of the Gasser family.

The photo above shows Pardell, our sunny south balcony (we had also an east balcony for the sunset) can be seen - if you know where to look ;-) - in the right part of the picture.


Driving to South Tyrol, we took a small detour along the Fernpass and the Reschenpass. After the Reschenpass we made a short stop near the famous church in the lake: Reschensee is an artificial lake built 1949 to gain electrical power. A whole village was destroyed with the exception of the church tower and this tower looks out of the lake.


A short walk below our appartment, is the Säben Monastery. The Hl. Kreuzkirche has some beautiful mural paintings. After visiting the monastery we walked down to Klausen via the crossroad and then up the panorama way and back home again. Both ways gave us some nice views of Klausen and Säben, especially the crossroad showed a new view after each corner.


The sunrise was really beautiful. From 7:34am to 8:15 I went every few minutes to our east balcony and photographed the Geisler tops as the sun rose behind them. During the day we did another walk directly from our appartment to get to know the area better: Up to the little village of Verdings and further to Latzfons.


We drove up to the Zanser Alm in the Villnöss-Valley and walked below the Geisler tops at an altitude of 2000m. The Geisler tops build the North-Western part of the Dolomites and looked beautiful from below. The highest peak is the Furchetta with 3025m. We really enjoyed looking at the snowy Geisler tops while walking below them along the Adolf-Munkel-Weg. It was a really sunny day but as soon we were out of the sun, it was freezing cold, the ground was still frozen from the night. We had lunch at the New Gschnagenhardtalm, sitting outside in the sun and thinking that the tops were really close, they didn't look another 1000m of altitude.

In the evening I had to take some sunset photos from our east balcony.


I carried an empty backpack to the village of Feldthurns following the Keschtnweg (Keschtn means chestnuts) directly from our house for roughly an hour. We saw some impressive chestnut trees, quite a lot apple trees and had a good view into the Eisacktal. In Feldthurns, we filled the backpack with our weekend shopping and returned the same beautiful way. On the way back, we overtook quite a lot of people that went to the Huber restaurant that's directly besides the Gasserhof. Huber is well known in the area and a lot of people walk to it and spend some time eating and talking. With the beautiful weather, you could sit outside as long as the sun shined (it got quite soon cold once the sun goes down) and enjoy the food as we did earlier already.


In the morning we drove to Villanders which meant a total of 11 hairpin bends (1 going into the valley, 10 going up). From there we walked to Bad Dreikirchen, a tiny village (3 churches build besides each other, two restaurants, a house and an open air swimming pool) without a public road - and a tremendous view. In Dreikirchen we visited all three churches, had lunch stop at the Messnerhof and then went a bit further up the hill until Briol before going back to our car.

The first of the three churches, St. Gertraud, has been first mentioned at 1237, the others have been built around 1422. Each is a small church of its own - and they are build besides each other. The restaurant Bad Dreikirchen goes back to the year 1315 and already Christian Morgenstern and Sigmund Freud enjoyed their stay in Dreikirchen.

We saw some nice flowers - as well of lots of trees in their autumn colours.

Looking at the photos in the evening, I noticed a rather large black patch on them - the sensor had some dirt on it. I cleaned the sensor and took some shots of my favourite view to double check that everything was back to normal.


We did our highest (around 1050 m of elevation), longest (5 hours pure walking time) and most beautiful tour today: We walked from above Brixen to the Radlsee at 2284m. The walk was quite steep, and once we were above the tree line, we were amazed by the view and the meadows. At the end we had some good food at the Radlsee-Haus - and the highest Espresso we ever enjoyed. before going back again. The view to the tops was excellent, and below in the valley there were some clouds which gave the view some magic elements. The sun was shining excellent - the temperature (measured in the sun) at the Radlsee-Haus was 24 degrees C. We've been glad to have our one pair of walking sticks with us, so that both of us could use one stick. Now we have another Christmas wish: A second pair of walking sticks.

We decided to return home the next day since Jana had problems with her asthma every night (but not during the day) which made her undersleep a little - after discussing with our landlady, we think it has been an ozone problem at night.

Now, we're back in Fürth and do most of the usual stuff - shopping, laundry, cooking, etc. and sleep fine again.

Monday, October 10, 2005

White Balance

Jana and I currently attend a class on digital photography, our tutor is Gerd Dollhopf. Today we had an evening excursion (from 6pm to 9pm) in the city. We started at the subway station "Woerther Wiese" and first took pictures of the station. Then we continued along river Pegnitz taking some more.

The first picture that I selected for the blog shows the subway station entrance - I used a tripod and changed the focal length of the lens while exposing:

This one is a picture of the river where the camera exposed for 15s - and a bicycle went along. Unfortunately the duck flew away at that time as well:

The different sources of light were quite a challenge for the cameras, so we learned a lot about "white balance". In automatic white balance mode the camera tries to guess the temperature of the light and if it guessed right, a white piece appears white on the photo. Especially with non-natural light, the camera heuristics might fail and pictures appear with a yellow/orange or blue cast. The two photos show an extreme example: For the first one, the white balance was totally off and it is far too red. I held a piece of white paper under the light and used this as a reference for white in the manual white balance mode of the camera and then shot the second one. This looks far more natural.

Improving the desktop

As old time Unix and Linux user, I know my way around a system, especially using a shell. A lot of new users do not have this knowledge and it's quite eye-opening if you look over their shoulders and notice their problems and frustrations. Quite a lot of these are usability problems, everything works as designed but the user does not understand how to get it working.
It's easy to take users keyboard and do a one-time fix - and then the user is puzzled again next time the same situation occurs. Making the application do what the user wants in a way that the user can do it, is a real challenge and needs a good understanding of usability and of your users and their needs.

There are already some excellent books, like Alan Cooper's "The inmates are running the asylum", and for Open Source developers the community.

I'm glad about Novell's usability studies that have today been made available under the Better Desktop Initiative. The material presented there might give some developers an eye-opener about problems that some users face today. I have been quite impressed during my visit to Cambridge in may to see the work done by the team for both GNOME and KDE desktops and hope it will have a great impact.

The press release went out a couple of minutes ago.

I'm looking forward to desktops that are usable for both geeks and "normal" users.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Vacation etc.

Jana and myself will leave on tuesday for two weeks of vacation (returning on the 23rd). We'll stay in an appartment in South Tyrol, Italy and plan to walk, relax, do some sigh seeing and photograph. I won't have any internet access but will take the cameras (and would have done it even without reading Marcus' advise to Sonja) and laptop (for organizing photos) with us.

Tomorrow I'm already off from work and since I didn't answer lots of emails last week due to much work with the 10.0 release, the beta testers and the release party, I now went through everything and have an empty inbox. Don't expect anything now from me.

Jana seems to have read Antje's blog and was inspired to draw some autumn scenes - which gives me time to write this.

After the vacation I've got to plan on better ways of releasing the SUSE Linux Alphas to the servers. The 10.0 files were too late on the server and the mirrors were not synched in time. Now the situation should be better again. Eberhard has done miracles on gwdg again (thanks Eberhard). Btw. we moved our Alpha roadmaps to have the releases one week earlier - which reminds me that I still haven't announced this ... (ok, done). Adrian will take care of the next alpha release while I'm on vacation.

Betatester Meeting and Release Party

For SUSE Linux we had a small group of betatesters for quite some time. Some of them are testing SUSE Linux releases since 4.x - that means longer than I'm with SUSE. Wow!
We've invited these long time beta testers for some discussions about SUSE Linux and openSUSE on friday.

In the evening we had an informal 10.0 release party that I really enjoyed. Our trainees served cocktails and I had to taste a "Geeko" - a greenish drink that tasted better than it looked.

For saturday we screwed up - we planned to show the beta testers the town with a tourist guide but asked too late so that all were already booked :-(. Therefore, I downloaded the information about Nuernberg's Historical Mile and Christoph and myself guided a small group of beta testers through Nuernberg and showed the nicest parts. For the next tour, we better have a real guide that can answer questions :-).

Now I'll the sign the GPG keys of those that gave me on friday their keys to increase the web of trust.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

SUSE Linux 10.0 Final released

I just announced on opensuse-announce the final media of SUSE Linux 10.0 (called GM for GoldMaster). The first retail boxes have already been sent out to customers. The retail version includes the following benefits compared to the packages we put out on the ftp server:
  • 300 pages of printed manuals
  • physical media
  • installation support
Note that the big manuals are on the DVD, just the printed one is smaller.

We released these media today:

10.0-OSS - the Open Source (OSS) version:
  • i386 (Intel 32-bit, AMD 32-bit x86), x86_64 (AMD64, Intel EM64T) and ppc (PowerPC) architectures
  • 5 CDs for each architecture
  • experimental jigdo files to create i386 CDs and a DVD from the ftp trees
  • delta-ISOs from RC1 to the final version
10.0 - the retail and Eval versions including some non-OSS software:
  • i386, x86_64 architecture
  • 5 CDs i386
  • one i386 DVD with the contents of these 5 i386 CDs
  • one x86_64 DVD with the same packages as the i386 DVD
  • a LiveDVD for i386

Multi-arch ftp trees that can be used as YaST repositories and come with debuginfo and source RPMs:

  • inst-source: the OSS install tree
  • inst-source-java: the install tree for Java packages including Sun Java
  • inst-source-extra: some non-OSS packages (on
Developing 10.0 as part of the openSUSE project with an open bugzilla was a new and good experience. Thanks a lot to everybody that contributed with testing, reporting and fixing bugs,
discussions etc. in making SUSE Linux 10.0 a great distribution!

Today was still a bit of work to setup bittorrents and our server. Thanks to Adrian, Christian, Christoph and Roman this is now done.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Preparing SUSE Linux 10.0 Goldmaster release

Today, we started the last step of the 10.0 GM (goldmaster) release process:
  • preparing bittorrent files
  • generating some jigdo templates
  • writing READMEs for the server
  • generating some md5sums
  • final test of some media
  • putting around 37 GB of OSS data to
  • putting around 11 GB of data to
  • writing the release announcement for the mailing list
During the writing of the release announcement, I noticed some of the smaller details we missed to do, e.g. bittorrent files for the non-OSS media. So, still a bit of work to do for tomorrow before we can upload and announce everything.