Top of Europe
Friday July 25th 2008, 9:48h
Filed under: Private

In her 60th year of life, grandma Ursula Stürmer (my mom) reached Top of Europe Mont Blanc (4810m) yesterday morning at 7 am! CONGRATULATIONS!!!

Project Activity Visualization with Codeswarm
Tuesday July 22nd 2008, 1:41h
Filed under: ETH Zürich, FLOSS, Research

code_swarm is a really fun, new open source tool by Michael Ogawa helping to visualize the development activity of open source projects. Little dots represent the committed files of a day by a certain developer who is labelled in the animation. The colors of the dots may be chosen manually distinguishing different types of files or directories (legend top left corner - better visible in the original 640×480 pixel AVI file, 25MB).

Tonight Emanuel and I compiled code_swarm and started to create movies of the top 4 projects on A newcomer is OpenLieroX, a funny 2D shooter game. This is its animated development history since 2006-20-25 (using 5087 single PNG files):

And that’s how code_swarm is executed in order to generate a fancy sounding movie clip (you don’t have to download the entire SVN directory as described on the official website):

svn log -v SVNURL > activity.log #Download log file of any SVN repository
python -s activity.log -o activity.xml #Convert SVN log file within convert_logs directory
#Create new code_swarm config file changing directories and code colors
./ #Execute code_swarm applying the new config file in order to create PNGs of code commits
mencoder mf://*.png -mf fps=24:type=png -ovc lavc -oac copy -o movie.avi #Create movie out of PNGs
mencoder movie.avi -oac copy -ovc copy -audiofile MP3FILE.mp3 -o movie_withsound.avi #Add MP3 sound to the animation

Cool and suiting music can be found on Mosaik.

Update 2008-07-25: Now sk1, TYPO3, OpenLieroX, phpMyAdmin, and Inkscape are animated in HD quality on Vimeo. All HD videos are available as download on

Tuesday July 15th 2008, 12:08h
Filed under: ETH Zürich, FLOSS, Research

iHype has finally crossed the Swiss borders as well. Although since more than a year there were already several thousand hacked iPhones in use in Switzerland, now official devices are available from Swisscom and Orange (or maybe not). While I’ve to admin the device is really nice and has an extremly smooth user interface, I woudn’t buy such a device. I completely agree with FSFs 5 reasons why to avoid the iPhone, above all because of the great OpenMoko alternative. Despite the device is sold out as well at the moment, I admire the great commitment of the OpenMoko community and especially the core team of OpenMoko Inc. to have reached their goal producing the first open source and open hardware cell phone. Having done interviews for our new research project at ETHZ with both Michael Lauer and Sean Moss-Pultz showed me the great additional effort the team had to perform in order to produce a truely free device.

The End of Evolution and how to Migrate on Thunderbird
Monday July 14th 2008, 10:26h
Filed under: FLOSS

Last week I suddenly realized that I didn’t receive an important email. First I started to accuse my provider Hostplanet but then I found out that it was Evolution’s fault: Emails were downloaded and saved correctly in the mbox files, however the messages were not displayed within Evolution. Once I looked at the mbox files with Thunderbird, I didn’t only find the missing email but many others as well I had received recently but didn’t see because of this misbehaviour!

I filed a bug report in Launchpad and did several test in order to find the error. As others confirm that they don’t see all of the messages of my demo mbox file (there are six messages in the file, but Evolution only shows four of them) I lost trust in Evolution and had to migrate everything to Thunderbird:

1. Email migration
This was quite easy as both Evolution and Thunderbird use the mbox format for their email storage. Thus I only needed to copy the files out of the /home/USER/.evolution/mail/local directory, put it into Thunderbird’s directory /home/USER/.mozilla-thunderbird/XXXXXX.default/Mail/Local Folders and clean up Evolution-specific configuration files:
find . -name "*.cmeta" | xargs -i_ rm "_"
find . -name "*.ev-summary" | xargs -i_ rm "_"
find . -name "*.ev-summary-meta" | xargs -i_ rm "_"
find . -name "*.ibex.index" | xargs -i_ rm "_"
find . -name "*" | xargs -i_ rm "_"

2. Contacts migration
As Thunderbird doesn’t support vCard file format out of the box (very strange…) I had to install MoreFunctionsForAddressBook in order to import the contacts from Evolution (right-click on selected contacts in Evolution and export them as vCards). It took a little while importing >2000 contacts in Thunderbird, but in the end it worked flawlessly.

3. Calendar migration
This was the most annoying part as Thunderbird’s Lightning Extension complained an import error when reading the iCal file from Evolution. In the end I had to import the iCal file in Google Calendar and then export it again as iCal in order to ‘clean it up’ for Thunderbird.

Finegrained configurations of Thunderbird such as adapting the reply header of email answers (mailnews.reply_header_type=2) can be made in the Config Editor.

While I enjoy the rich add-ons repository of Thunderbird I still miss many of Evolution’s features, especially the nice integration in the GNOME desktop (as do others as well).