The Secret Herb Garden

This week I read this interesting article about Joy Rose, who runs Bloombox:

"A relatively new business, Bloombox has been providing the inhabitants of Edinburgh with wholesome, organically grown salad, ethically sourced, designed and assembled by Joy herself and biked across the city’s undulating terrain in the wicker basket of her bike. In a little under a year, Joy has established a dedicated following of loyal customers and supporters clamoring for the next delicious bite of a much maligned meal."

The idea is pretty cool and gives you the opportunity to taste a great variety of organically grown salads and ingredients even if you don't have your own garden.

While looking for edible plants and different herbs Joy found The Secret Herb Garden, which is another interesting project. Take a look at their gallery and you'll be fascinated by the beautiful view their estate and its surroundings offer. In general it seems to be a café and shop that is run by a family who offer selfmade products such as coffee and especially tea from their own herbs. In addition to that there are also several events located at their greenhouse.

It's always fascinating for me to see such interesting projects created by people who care about nature, organically grown food and to take a look into their lifestyle. Gardening is also a hobby of mine. My girlfriend and I are used to take care of our own garden in our spare time. It's just a magical experience to see the plants that you seeded coming to life. Especially self sufficiency gardening is a cool aspect that we enjoy and have a lot of fun with. In the last few years we successfully grew tomatoes, potatoes, salad, kohlrabies, carrots, blueberries, strawberries and lemon balm. :)

This was 2014

After starting this kind of post in 2013, it may develop into a habit. :}

I was definitely right with my optimism in the old post that 2014 is going to be exciting. One of the most exciting things in 2014 was the presentation of my first research paper [1] at the PESOS workshop that took place at ICSE 2014 in Hyderabad, India. It was a great experience and I'm still very thankful for this opportunity! Together with an accepted paper at the EnCASE workshop [2] and one at the CNSM conference [3] I had the chance to contribute to three fascinating publications in 2014.

To gain visibility in the research community it is usually a good start to provide a central place presenting your activities. Following this idea I released my personal website to give an overview of my research activities as well as personal projects.

Talking about personal projects brings me to the next topic: My word wrap plugin and line number ruler patch is making it slowly into the official Eclipse code base. Currently Holger Voormann and Lars Vogel are pushing the code review forward by contributing and triggering the right people to take a closer look at the code. ;) Thank you very much for your effort!

What is left to say? I'm looking forward to a great year 2015 with even more interesting projects, publications, ideas and experiences! The next big milestone I strive for is to finish my master thesis in the next few months and try to publish some of the insights as research paper. :eek3:

[1] C. C. Marquezan, F. Wessling, A. Metzger, K. Pohl, C. Woods, and K. Wallbom, “Towards Exploiting the Full Adaptation Potential of Cloud Applications,” Proceedings of the 6th ICSE 2014 Workshop on Principles of Engineering Service-Oriented and Cloud Systems (PESOS), Hyderabad, India, 2014, pp. 48–57.

[2] S. Gómez Sáez, V. Andrikopoulos, F. Wessling, and C. Cassales Marquezan, “Cloud Adaptation & Application (Re-)Distribution: Bridging the two Perspectives.”, Proceedings of the 1st EDOC 2014 Workshop on Engineering Cloud Applications & Services (EnCASE), 18th International IEEE Enterprise Distributed Object Computing Conference Workshops and Demonstrations (EDOCW), Ulm, Germany, 2014, pp. 163-172.

[3] C. Cassales Marquezan, D. Bruneo, F. Longo, F. Wessling, A. Metzger and A. Puliafito, “3-D Cloud Monitoring: Enabling Effective Cloud Infrastructure and Application Management.”, Proceedings of the 10th International Conference on Network and Service Management (CNSM 2014), Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 2014

OS X Shortcuts

I just learned some great new shortcuts for OS X!

You can adjust the volume and brightness in finer grains than you are used to by simply pressing the "shift" and "alt" keys while doing so. Another nice shortcut is the overview of special characters and emoticons that you can trigger by pressing CTRL + CMD + space. This should work in any most text input boxes.

  • Finer-grained volume adjust: Shift + Alt + Volume-Button
  • Finer-grained brightness adjust: Shift + Alt + Brightness-Button
  • Special character and emoticon overview: CTRL + CMD + Space

The New Computer

To keep up the tradition I will show some photos from assembling my new computer. :)

First I'll start by removing the current components that I use to upgrade my girlfriend's computer.

The new computer

While taking the computer apart I cleaned the case and removed dust. What's left is the DVD-R/W drive, the external eSATA HDD slot, the two 80mm case fans and my self-made frontpanel.

The new computer

Next I swapped the SSD with the new one and kept the HDD.
The new computer

The Seasonic G-550 PSU has a modular cable system which is very useful to reduce the amount of cables in the case by plugging in only the necessary ones.
The new computer

The new computer

The Asus ROG Maximus VII Hero looks great with its red highlights and matte black surface.
The new computer

So tiny and so important – The CPU. :eek3:
The new computer

This is how the Crucial Ballistix Sport VLP DIMM Kit 16GB looks when it's plugged in. As you can see "VLP" stands for very low profile. ;)
The new computer

Mounting the EKL Alpenföhn Brocken 2 CPU cooler was a tough task and took at least an hour. Okay, mostly because I tend to work very slow, careful and thorough when I'm scared to destroy something. :D First you have to start with the backplate and four screws which have to be inserted and turned to a certain angle.
The new computer

On the other side two metal brackets have to be fastened with nuts.
The new computer

Yes, ~800g metal to cool down the CPU!
The new computer

After putting the cooler on the CPU a crossbar will be screwed to the metal brackets. I like the construction with the springs below the screws because it ensures that the clamping pressure is not too high even with the screws fully tightened.
The new computer

The asymmetric design allows the installation of high memory coolers.
The new computer

PSU, mainboard, CPU, cooler and RAM installed!
The new computer

Now it's time to take the Gigabyte GeForce GTX 780 Ti WindForce 3X out of its box.
The new computer

This is the result after running cables and adding a lot of zip ties for an optimal airflow. The wrapped cable in the upper section is necessary because I needed one more SATA power plug. ;)
The new computer

The rear ports of the mainboard, GPU and sound card.
The new computer

The LEDs on (and behind!) the mainboard are crazy. There is even an illuminated trace on the PCB. :eek3:
The new computer

I enjoyed putting all the pieces together and it's always great when everything is working in the end. :smile:

Metal Gear Solid V

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain will be released between Q4 2014 and Q1 2015. I strongly recommend to watch the E3 2013 Trailer and the E3 2014 gameplay demo in particular. The gameplay demo is presented in 1080p with 60fps and looks really amazing! A few more examples of the gameplay mechanics and hints at a multiplayer feature are covered by the Gamescom 2014 gameplay demo.

Since I blogged about the Fox Engine and the first teasers of Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes at the beginning of 2013 I'm fascinated by the graphics and details Kojima brought into these games.

Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes, Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain and Silent Hills are definitely three good reasons to buy a PS4 in the future. ;)

NASA Pip-Boy 3000

For the NASA Space Apps Challenge a team of five people built a working Pip-Boy 3000 from Fallout 3! :eek3:

A 3D printed case holds an iPhone 5 in place and runs an iOS app. Together with two microcontrollers which are connected via BLE4 and a REST API their system is capable of displaying sensor values such as humidity, altitude, latitude, longitude, atmospheric pressure, ambient temperature, object temperature using an infared thermometer and (of course!) radiation. :D

The 3D model for the case was created by Dragonator who finished his replica of the Pip-Boy 3000 with a nice paintjob. He also built a laser pistol from Fallout 3.

Fallout 4 - Hopes and Rumors

There is something in the making... Todd Howard said in an interview that he and his team are working on something big. We can only speculate about what this is exactly but many people (including me :D ) are hoping for Fallout 4.

There were no hints about a new Fallout game on Gamescom 2014 or E3 2014. In an interview Josh Sawyer could imagine a massively multiplayer online version of Fallout as the next game. He works at Obsidian and developed Fallout New Vegas whereas Fallout 4 will be very likely developed by Bethesda which makes his statement more a wish than news.

The Fallout 4 FAQ from the Fallout Wikia is a good starting point to find a structured collection of facts and rumors. In addition to that CinemaBlend sums up the rumors that are currently around. Rumors are steadily growing: In 2012 somebody met a few Bethesda employees in Boston that were researching the city for a new game. A leaked document in 2013 reinforces this rumor and connects The Institute which is mentioned in Fallout 3 to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

To be honest, I don't expect to hear anything about Fallout 4 before 2015. My first blog post about Fallout 4 rumors is almost two years old and I hope in the meantime Todd Howard and his team made some great progress on the game they are developing and of course I strongly hope that it's Fallout 4. ;)

Kojima presents Silent Hills

In March Hideo Kojima gave an interview in which he mentions that he would like to reboot the Silent Hill series and to create a new Silent Hill game under his direction. I can't believe it but it's really happening!

Their PR team did a great job because they released an interactive teaser game called P.T. ("playable teaser") that can be downloaded for free from the PlayStation Store. If you manage to finish the game a trailer for the upcoming Silent Hills is shown. As I have read and seen on Twitch it's really a frightening game with the old Silent Hill atmosphere we all love. P.T. is built very smartly as it requires some special combination of actions to trigger the end sequence. That includes having your headphones connected to the PS4 controller and saying a specific name into the microphone! It's the most impressive breach of the Fourth Wall I have seen before and reminds me of the moment from Metal Gear Solid where you could switch your (physical!) controller port to prevent Psycho Mantis from reading your mind (i.e. buttons you press). :eek3:

While waiting for news about Silent Hills you can take a look at this blog entry in which a guy explains (and shows in a video) how he is hacking the original Silent Hill for PlayStation to find hidden rooms and items.

Gaming Plans 2014

In February 2010 I bought my current gaming computer. It works great up to this day but with newer games the demand for performance rises and so I will build a new one. ;) I got the DedSec Edition of Watch_Dogs from my girlfriend as christmas present last year ( :smile: ) and it really challenges my current setup even without anti-aliasing. By the way: Have you seen this funny Watch_Dogs PR stunt that went wrong? :D Another reason to buy a new computer is GTA V which will be very likely released this autumn (I hope the rumors are not true about a delay). Patient PC gamers are finally rewarded with better graphics than the console versions! ;)

So, what is the new configuration? I usually stick to the recommendations by the PC Games Hardware magazine but their last update was in May 2014 which is a lot in my-new-computer-is-already-old-tomorrow time. :D Luckily they also publish single articles with up to date recommendations. It might seem a bit strange to buy a computer now when the new Intel Haswell CPU generation along with the X99 chipset and DDR4 memory will make their debut in the next months. But as far as I know the difference in performance between DDR3 and DDR4 is very small due to the fact that the technology is pretty new. With the new CPU and chipset generation I'm generally a bit cautious because usually it takes some time until there are stable and reliable configurations available. So I decided to not wait for the next generation and started to plan the shopping list. ;) Now for the configuration I ended up with:

With this configuration I should be prepared for the latest games and the several others coming in the next years. :eek3: