Elevator Pitch


Many companies present themselves on the interweb. Many of them do the same stuff.

So how do you stand out?

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Poppy Vanilla Pseudo Challa



The traditional Challa is a very rich bread, full of sugar and eggs, yet scrumptious and a feast for the senses. There are many recipe variations available, even some eccentric ones and recently we ran into an adaption that sounded too good not to be tried. The Poppy-vanilla Challa. We changed the recipe slightly to a more everyday bread, but kept the slight vanilla-butter-sugar tone.

Digital Wedding Preparations

I’m excited that Michelle and I will finally celebrate our marriage in the alps, bringing together family and friends from all over the world. Due to the babylonian nature of the event we are keeping it takes quite some preparation to get everybody on track. However it is also a lot of fun :-)

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Removing Stumbling Blocks In Mobile Forms


Hands down, forms are probably one of the most annoying topics when it comes to user interfaces. For users as well as for designers it seems to be an odyssey, brimming with bad experiences. In the last couple of months, I have been working in a lot of projects involving interfaces for mobile devices in all shapes and colors. For me, it was very interesting to observe in user testing how my designs as well as the designs of colleagues, although all of them seemed to be very informed and sometimes clever solutions, finally were torn apart by users.

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qew


Side projects are the bee's knees. I am helping out a friend with some design work. Above our current logo idea. There new baby is a sort of video heap. As you surf the net, you can add interesting videos to the heap (or the queue = qew). Then, when you are bored or have the time to watch a video, qew will have already sorted your collection and will suggest a good one to watch.

Looking forward to see, where that goes.

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It's all about the Snooze


I am not a morning person. I never was and will probably never be, but I have a plan. In the last couple of years I tried many things to improve my personal ability of getting out of the bed in morning, after a fashion. The problem is simple and consistent. I work late, tinker until early in the morning, sleep, try to do some sport, run to work. Most of the times: half asleep. This is going to end.

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Buffalo Bin


Seeing a bunch of kids swarming around any kind of furball in a petting zoo is quite normal and mostly adorable. Seeing a bunch of kids swarming around a trash can in that same petting zoo made me look closely. In fact it made my day.

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Plug and Play


This undercover USB stickman is a usability nightmare, probably not a long term investment but ingenious on so many different levels. Kudos to whoever contrived the little man, you make me smile.

Yours truly, Homo Ludens

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Creative Cretaceous


I liked school. Not the whole deal in general, in parts it has been very boring. But there are a few things about this place that I start to miss and wish to incorporate back into the everyday. One of the things I miss the most are the big chalkboard walls in every room.

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Hacking Expedit



Recently we decided to beef up our bland ikea furniture a bit. The victim was an expedit rack that we use as a hi-fi rack in our living room. I am a huge fan of pixel art and would cover my whole appartement in 8-bit if I could. Anyhow, as we wanted it to be something that is functional and nice to look at, we decided the only reasonable thing to do is to cover the whole rack with a curtain of dice.

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Multichannel Experiences



Recently I have to deal a lot with user experiences of services and products that live simultaneously on websites, microsites, mobile, in mail or social media, in-store and even in call centres. These services and products, to which we refer to as multichannel experiences, can be quite challenging to get right.

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Browser Gaming



A Logo for a new browser based realtime strategy game that some friends and I are working on.

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Infographics Love

I love Infographics. Extensive problems explained quick and easily digestive, appealing, engaging. Recently I talked to the creators of Ubuntu about opening up the OS to a wider audience and used this tiny Infographic to open up the conversation...

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Doodle, Erase


A couple of days, I stumbled upon an old magna doodle board at a flea market in London. Doodling on it is pure amusement. Doodle, erase, doodle, erase, think visual. Anyway it feels almost like a necessity to incorporate this doodle board into some sort of tinker project. It might be a great remote drawing surface. Arduino and so on. Some day...

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Learn Something Every Day


Learn Something Every Day is a brilliant project. Every day the folks at Young put out a new fun fact skit that amuses me a lot. Though I do look at their site on an almost daily base and even subscribed to their feed, I was wondering if their might be a somehow ubiquitous way to integrate these little units of mental candy into an everyday.

That's why they can now be streamed to a Chumby.

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Sculpting a Master's Thesis

Tough to realize, but in the last couple of months, I spent quite a lot of time on writing, sculpting and vagabonding over a single page of text; i.e. the abstract of my master's thesis.

In retrospect the process of gradually sculpting it has even been quite helpful. Not only did it help to communicate the gist of it to friends and colleagues to develop and discuss ideas. Primarily it served as a mental scaffolding to define the scope of the research project, while keeping track of what is being done, how and why of course.

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Pumpkinseeeeds



Pumpkin seeds are great, super delicious and a regular guest in our oven.

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Onionbread


A pretty folksy bread recipe that you don't see a lot these days in Germany anymore is onion bread. Though incredibly tasty it is hard to find in a typical bakery. Thanks to a recent tip from grandma, we have a new addition to the recipe box.

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Paninio Pomodoro


A recent visit to Milan brought a new discovery. A clever master of subtle bakery mixed dried antipasti tomatoes into a nice but strong wheat-dough. Another one for the recipe box, as they come with a strong flavor and nice texture.

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Where are you from?


A low-brow and wonderful take on data mapping. Some weeks ago, my girlfriend and visisted Fremantle, WA. Since Fremantle picks up visitors from all over the globe, a bar owner started to ask people to stick a pin on a map to show where they come from. Over time he gathered actually quite an impressive collection. Although this place seemed to be somewhat famous among Europeans, I was able to put a pin for my hometown :-)

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ChilliCheese


Ever thought about creating some bakery that brings a little bit of the unexpected? We wanted to create something, that puzzles our fellows for a bit. The solution: Cheese that doesn't melt. No rocket science, just a little trick. Into our normal bread dough, we mix frozen cheese cubes that won't melt while baking and therefore leave a little bit of scepsis about how you managed to weave that cheese into the bread. Moreover, texture and taste are remarkable :-)

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Dinkelspeck


Aka Spelt'n'ham. A substantially tasty companion that doesn't even require any kind of spread or topping. However, with some fresh cheese (mixed with chili or pepper) makes a very fancy snack.

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Olive Rolls


A classic, that doesn't require a big introduction. Salty, rich and flavourful. A wonderful addition to amy tomato based dish, especially them italian ones :-)

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Poster Presentations


From time to time I get asked to design a poster for a project and it has always been a struggle. Be it at university, work or on any kind of conference, a poster presentation is quite helpful to get across small project ideas, but it can be just painful if it fails to support a message.

There are loads of recommendations on poster design in the net and almost any university or company has its own guidelines. Learning about some basic rules that address the use of layout, graphics and especially fonts is essential. Though inevitable and quite effective I personally think is to keep an eye on the work of fellow students and colleagues. Just by strolling through conference halls it is possible to generate new ideas, adapt handy methods or to just observe epic failure that clearly needs to be avoided in a future project. Unfortunately most posters get thrown away once a conference ends, which is a pity for some of them.

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A Guerilla Guide To Bread Baking



I am a German living in London. Although this is one of the most exciting cities in the world I can't help it. Every once in a while I get homesick. Regularly, the reason for homesickness is food. More regularly it is about bread.

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AR Flashlight



Some months ago a couple of colleagues at Fraunhofer ESK Munich and me duct-taped a mobile projector together with a webcam aiming at a software solution to combine the intuitive work with physical information resources, e.g. books or papers (for research or courseworks) with the benefits of online research, e.g. effective search or cross referencing.

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Mobile Assistance Systems


For the last few weeks I have been involved in a research project called ELEPHANT (backronymic for: Elements for Pervasive and Handheld Assistants) helping to design a kind of mashup-IDE to develop mobile, multimodal and context sensitive assistance applications.

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Untitled.

One of the first attempts on serious modelling...

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Face to Face


Here are some faces I once scribbled to add a kind of personal touch to a mobile soccer game. By dynamically combining several parts (skulls, noses, eyes and mouths) to a single face, it became feasible to generate a number of distinguishable field players at little cost. The whole trick does anyones brain by generally recognizing little variations in peoples faces.

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Automated Interior Design



The Automated Interior Designer analyses architectural models and automatically places objects within a given region, based on user defined rules. The prototype imports 3D models from Cinema 4D, furnishes them and exports the composition back into Cinema.

Since a fellow student from the University of Applied Sciences Bremen and I have presented the AID indie study as a poster at SIGGRAPH 08 in Los Angeles, from this day it is also possible to generate small level for the Crysis leveleditor Sandbox2.

If you are interested in the techniques behind this gadget feel free to go through the paper.

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Extreme Blue


This summer I got the chance to participate in IBM's Extreme Blue program and I would like to drop a few lines for people who think about doing the same thing.

Terranoxa


Terranoxa is a project where some friends and me try
find a new perspective on the browser strategy game genre driven by the fascinating anytime-anywhere access of browser games.

Therefore we are developing a platform for creating - on a technical base - common browser games, like they are often played in Germany redefining common user interface design, interactions, usability and game play to create an application that reminds more of high-class computer games than contemporary browser games.

By using state-of-the-art techniques we try to close the gap between classic computer games and browser games making browser games more popular and combining the best features of both sides into a expandable composition.

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Fastfood Software

A while ago Adobe announced their cross-platform Integrated Runtime environment for creating Rich Internet Applications.



To me this sounds like a perfect opportunity for rapid prototyping in software development or the creation of stuff I'd like to call Fastfood Software. These are tools utilized as daily problem solver but not that important one should spend a lot of time creating them. Reasons are trial and error issues or short time usage. Anyway... Playing with AIR I created a prompt for platformwide saving TODO's on toodledo - an essential GTD gadget.

Concerning FAST cooking, this is receipt:
  • A free Toodledo account with its REST interface for all the data stuff
  • The java Toodledo client made by Marc as code base
  • J2AS3 Java to Actionscript 3 converter translating the code Marc wrote
  • The as3 corelib e.g. for MD5 crypto feature needs
  • A nice Date Chooser made by Roy
  • Some graphics... basically Icons
  • And as bun some code I wrote wrapping it up and representing the app
That's rounding up to 3 hours of work for getting fully functional but simple software. Served Chilled.

FYI: For using Toodledo in program space I highly recommend using Fluid and nonimage's css hack for Toodledo Things style or Jake's Toodledo Quick Add for Firefox

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Immersive Environments

Enhancing immersion of video games is a popular research topic along many disciplines. As the question of immersive environments came up in lectures some friends and me decided to build a simple jump'n'run like game concerning the interweaving of surrounding and gameplay into the design.



We came up with a little not-that-but-somehow-scary game called Fatalis and decided, although research seems to point into the direction of concentrating on senses that work more nearby (e.g. olfaction or sense of touch) rather than from those, working in distance (e.g. vision or audition).

Since we did not feel the need of ventilation after defeating a boss enemy we concentrated on increasing the visual and auditive experience by listening to and filming the ambience of the player and reacting to it, e.g. attracting enemies by noise.

Long story short. Based on the ideas of tile-based games in Flash we have created a isometric engine in AS2 that can easily be fed with xml-based descriptions of level and new textures. Please feel free to play with the code.

Download engine source snippets

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Context Aware Gaming

The context aware soccer manager is basically a browser game including mobile extensions mixing real world and web experiences.



Whereas the regular league takes place in the browser, training a team demands the user to perform real world actions with his mobile phone.

The game was developed as a project of the University of Applied Sciences Bremen and was rewarded with the first place at the Bernd-Artin Wessels Innovationprice 07.

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Mapping 3/3

Agenda Item #3: So here is the thing

We are going to track the emotions of people while watching several movies. The basic emotions will be color coded and this information will result in a color bar which is representing the movie.
Now, if you like to watch a movie you just describe how it should like to be and the system can make suggestions based on your description. It's like cooking and the decision about which ingredients will make the meal.

Here are some examples:

The Last Samurai



The Matrix



Walk The Line



Texas



Bambi 2



The Lake House



Bad Boys 2



Sure, this is just a finger excercise but can be seen from a wide perspective. Bon Appetite :-)

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Mapping 2/3



Agenda Item #2: How to map X on Y (and why)

Movies generally lack, as any other media does too, from classification issues. Categorizing media helps to build up feature groups or to browse it, for example. The problem of genre classification will jump right into your face if you spend some time drifting around in a video store wondering what makes this or that film to a action flick or to a drama.

Furthermore our motivation was to find an easy way of selecting a film you might like to see based on contextual parameters. Think of the situation of people asking the videostore guy for advice. Usually they are looking for a film which is having this or that.

In this case the parameters are limited to: Emotions or the question of "How do you want to be entertained?"

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Mapping 1/3

Mapping is a general issue in the information landscape. How to professionally garnish more or less complex data so it becomes savoury and easily digestible in an interactive way is a special dish in the media informatics fields so we discussed techniques and observations during lectures and workshops at university.

The final workshop unit was a Do-it-yourself go-out-and-map-something excercise, raising the questions of What and How seemlessly implicating the Why.

Agenda Item #1: We need an idea.

After some hours of windless Brainstorming we decided that the most productive way of getting it done would be machine based managed fluke which led us to gambling with the one-armed bandit - the professional term for this brainstorming technique is semantic intuition.

To give a machine the opportunity of feeding us with a initial idea we tinkered a program which kind of randomly displays a 2 word mash of limited media based vocabulary. It's primary function was the suggestion to map X on Y.

The most interessting suggestion (among a lot of weird ones) was to map Emotions on Film.

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Hello World

In this public weblog I occasionally would like to put out some random walks and thoughts concerning human-computer interaction and computer science as well as related workaday stuff regarding the projects I participate in.

Basically this is to give some public feedback and to share general design problems I kept myself busy with, including source code samples, design snippets or common cowboy approaches so you can appraise the stuff facing your own plans and projects preferably sharing your ideas, too.

Please feel free to comment on the following entries.