30 Years of E-Mail in Germany

Today, it has been exactly 30 years since Germany’s first e-mail was received in Karlsruhe. This anniversary was celebrated with a small event at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT). A press conference was organized and students launched 72 helium balloons shaped as 0s and 1s that were arranged to read 0x4B40726C7372756865. (I didn’t actually verify this.) While personally I disapprove of such intentional and needless environmental pollution, it was a great opportunity for us to raise awareness for privacy of e-mail communication and teach people about OpenPGP. Continue reading

Campaigning for the FDP

Today (yesterday, actually), I was campaigning for the Free Democratic Party of Germany (FDP) at the Europafest in Karlsruhe. The Europafest is a public event organized by the Europa-Union and the European School Karlsruhe aiming to spread knowledge about the European Union and general political awareness to the general public and informing people about the upcoming elections for the European Parliament. In our region, these elections (May 25) coincide with the municipal elections so all political parties are currently double-campaigning. At the Europafest the four old political parties of Germany (CDU, SPD, Grüne and FDP) each had a little marquee to inform interested visitors. We have represented the FDP with a couple of our local candidates from about 10 am to 4 pm when the rain hit in. Continue reading

GNU Love Wallpaper

Since a couple of time, I am using a modified version of Alison Upton‘s colorized drawing of a penguin hugging a wildebeest as my laptop’s desktop wallpaper. Several people seeing this picture have since asked me about its meaning. Lately, a colleague asked me for a copy of the picture. Since the original artwork is published under the free Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License, I decided to share my modified version with the world, rather than sending out individual copies per e-mail. Continue reading

Infinite Scrolling

Among the more recent diseases of web design are the so-called infinite-scroll pages; websites that (apparently) have no end so you can continue scrolling down until you get frustrated and give up. (Lately, there has been a nice xkcd comic about those pages, too.)

While – with a few notable exceptions like, say, picture results in search engines – personally, I think these pages are just another annoyance to the web user, I was still interested how they could be implemented. Not very surprisingly, Continue reading

Offener Brief an den Landesdatenschutzbeauftragten von Rheinland-Pfalz

Donnerstag, 23. Januar 2014

Sehr geehrter Herr Dr Globig,

vielen Dank für den interessanten Vortrag, den Sie am Dienstag im Rahmen des Karlsruher Dialogs zum Informationsrecht am Karlsruher Institut für Technologie (KIT) gehalten haben.

In der anschließenden Diskussion habe ich Sie gefragt, inwiefern Sie beim Landesdatenschutzbeauftrageten Rheinland-Pfalz Wert darauf legen, darauf hinzuwirken, dass Schüler im Informatikunterricht nicht nur lernen, die proprietären Produkte eines einzigen Software-Konzerns zu konsumieren, sondern sie auch oder sogar nur in freier Software zu unterrichten. Wenn ich Ihre Antwort richtig verstanden habe, meinten Sie, dass dieser Aspekt für Sie keine große Bedeutung habe, weil Sie nicht davon ausgingen, dass Software sicherer sei, nur weil sie frei ist. Ich würde mich freuen, wenn ich Ihnen kurz darlegen dürfte, weswegen ich der Meinung bin, dass freie Software tatsächlich ein entscheidender Baustein dafür ist, dass jeder einzelne sein Recht auf informationelle Selbstbestimmung in einer digitalen Welt effektiv wahrnehmen kann.

Zunächst möchte ich kurz definieren, was ich unter freier Software verstehe. Leider ist das Wort frei in der deutschen (wie übrigens auch in der englischen) Sprache mehrdeutig. Die lateinische Sprache hat die beiden unterschiedlichen Wörter gratis (wie in Freibier) und libre (wie in Freiheit). Freie Software ist keine Frage des Preis’ Continue reading


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