ABC - die Katze lief im Schnee

2013-01-11 20:42
Seen this morning in Berlin:

A little impression from what the city looked like the weeks before it turned green on Christmas:

For winter images of other years see also previous posts. Title taken from a children's song:

Learning German

2012-09-14 08:07
For some reason I got that question multiple times now from people that moved to Germany but work in companies where English is the language to use for communication - how to best learn German (in addition finding people to talk to).

When thinking about how I got started with English there were a few things that helped: As a child I got some "made for learning English" crime stories to read. In 11th/12th grade we got a Newsweek subscription. When at university I quickly learnt that translations of any man pages or help files to German were not really helpful so I switched my Locale to English. In addition the dubbed versions of Futurama were no good - same for most movies you get to see in cinema. Finally getting into open source meant that there was no other way for communication.

So what sites are there that provide value to the average geek but are available only in German?

Blogs and online resources

Newspapers etc.


Some music and movies:

If you happen to live in Berlin - also take a look at local magazines pointing out current events and special exhibitions. There's also quite a few books in and about Berlin. Make sure to safe some time to vist the Bundestag and book one of their lectures.


One hint from Thomas Koch: Die Deutsche Welle hat unglaublich viel Material, auch einen
kompletten mehrsemestrigen Deutschkurs als Podcast + begleitende PDFs.

Thomas, thanks! On a similar note - the archive of DRadio is also well worth a look.

Open Source Meetup Berlin

2012-08-19 20:22
This evening the (to my knowledge first) Berlin Open Source Meetup took place at Prater (Bier-)garten in Berlin. There are lots of project specific meetings, a monthly Free Software meeting, quite some stuff on project management. However this was one of the rare occasions where you get Linux kernel hackers, Wikidata project members, Debian developers, security people, mobile developers as well as people writing on free software or making movies related to the topic around one table.

Despite the heat (over 30 degrees Celcius in Berlin today) over 30 people gathered for some food, cold beer, some drinks and lots of interesting discussions. Would be great to see another edition of this kind of event.

Apache Hadoop Get Together Berlin - August 2012

2012-08-15 23:30
Despite beautiful summer weather roughly 50 people gathered at ImmobilienScout24 for the August 2012 edition of the Apache Hadoop Get Together (Thanks again for hosting the event and sponsoring drinks and pizza to ImmoScout as well as to David Obermann for organising the meetup.

Today there were three talks: In the first presentation Dragan Milosevic (also known from his talk at the Hadoop GetTogether and his presentation at Berlin Buzzwords) provided more insight as to how Zanox is managing their internal RPC protocols in particular when it comes to versioning and upgrading protocol versions. Though in principle very simple to do this sort of problem still is very common when starting to roll out distributed systems and scaling them over time. The concepts he described were not unlike what is available today in projects like Avro, Thrift or protocol buffers. However by the time they needed versioning support for their client server applications neither of these projects was a really good fit. This also highlights one important constraint: With communication being a very central component in distributed systems, changing libraries after an implementation went to production can be too painful to be followed through.

In the second presentation Stefanie Huber, Manuel Messner and Stephan Friese showed how Gameduell is using Hadoop to provide better data analytics for marketing, BI, developers, product managers Founded in 2003 they have a accumulated quite a bit of data consisting of micro transactions (related to payment operations), user activities, gaming results that need to be used for balancing games. Their team turned a hairy, complex system into a pretty clean, Hadoop based solution: By now all actions end up in a Hadoop cluster (with an option to subscribe to a feed for realtime events). Typically from there people would start analysis jobs either in plain map reduce or in pig and export the data to external databases for further analysis by BI people who preferred Hive as a query language as it is much closer to SQL than any of the alternatives. As of late they introduced HCatalog to support providing a common view on data for all three analysis options - in addition to allowing for a more abstract view of the data available that does not require knowing the exact filesystem structure to access the data.

After a short break in the last talk of the evening Stefan Hübner introduced Cascalog to the otherwise pretty Java-savvy crowd. Being based on Cascading Cascalog provides for a concise way of formulating queries to a Hadoop cluster (compared to plain map reduce). Also when contrasted with Pig or Hive what stands out is the option to easily and seemlessly integrate additional functions (both map- and reduce-side) into Cascalog scripts without switching languages or abstractions. Note: When testing Cascalog scripts, one project to look at is Midje.

Overall a really interesting evening with lots of new input, interesting discussions and new input. Always amazing to see what other big data applications people in Berlin are developing. It's awesome to see so many development teams adopt seemingly new technologies (some even still in the Apache Incubator) for production systems. Looking forward to the next edition - as well as to the slides and videos of today's edition.

Recsys meetup Berlin

2012-07-25 01:31
Planning a meetup in Berlin: 8 people register, a table for 14 people is booked, 16+ people arrive - all of that even if no pre-defined topic or talk is announced. Seems like building recommender systems is a hot topic currently in Berlin.

Thanks to Zeno Gantner from MyMedialight for organising the event - looking forward to the next edition.

Apache Hadoop Get Together Berlin

2012-07-23 20:41
As seen on Xing - the next Apache Hadoop Get Together is planned to take place in August:

When: 15. August, 18 p.m.

Where: Immobilien Scout GmbH, Andreasstr. 10, 10243 Berlin

As always there will be slots of 30min each for talks on your Hadoop topic. After each talk there will be time for discussion.

It is important to indicate attendance. Only registered visitors will be permitted to attend.

Register here:

Talks scheduled thus far:

Dragan Milosevic

Robust Communication Mechanisms in zanox Reporting Systems

It happened an annoying number of times that we wanted to improve only one particular component in our distributed reporting system, but often had to update almost everything due to the RPC version-mismatch, which occurred in a communication between the updated component and the rest of our system. To mitigate this problem and to significantly simplify the integration of new components, we extended the used RPC protocol to perform a version handshake before the actual communication starts. This RPC extension is accompanied with serialisation/deserialization methods, which are downward compatible due to being able to successfully deserialise any
serialised older version of exchanged objects. Putting together these extensions makes it possible for us to successfully operate multiple versions of frontend and backend components, and to have the power to autonomously decide what and when should be updated/improved in our distributed reporting system.

Two other talks are planned and I will provide you with further information soon.

A big Thank You goes to Immobilien Scout GmbH for providing the venue at no cost for our event and for sponsoring the videotaping of the presentations.

Looking forward to seeing you in Berlin,


Apache Sling and Jackrabbit event coming to Berlin

2012-07-12 20:59
Interested in Apache Sling and/or Apache Jackrabbit? Then you might be interested in hearing that on September 26th to 28th there will be an event in town on these two topics - mainly organised by Adobe, but labeled as community event, meaning that there will be a number of active community members attending the conference: adaptTo().

From their website:

In late September 2012 Berlin will become the global heart beat for developers working on the Adobe CQ technical stack. pro!vision and Adobe are working jointly to set up a pure technical event for developers that will be focused on Apache Sling, Apache Jackrabbit, Apache Felix and more specifically on Adobe CQ: adaptTo(), Berlin. September 26-28 2012.

Preparation done - clock is ticking

2012-05-31 21:24
The clock is ticking - only one more weekend to go before Berlin Buzzwords opens its doors for the main conference (check out the Wiki for the Sunday evening Barcamp and the Sunday Movie Hackday). Looking forward to an amazing week with awesome speakers and great attendees.

One word of warning before: Given all the buzz around that conference as of now until mid-next week I won't take any major decisions, most likely I won't be able to follow through with any additional organisation, probably I won't remember everyone I meet on-site.

In case I do take decisions - don't trust any of them. If you do need help organising some meetup or dinner - I'm happy to help out with recommendations on where to go and who to ask, I'm also happy to get you in touch with people relevant to your area of interest. However when it comes to selecting the restaurant, deciding on the day and time, booking a table and informing everyone involved you are on your own. In case you have any questions, requests or advise please make sure to send a copy to my inbox to make sure it will be dealt with (though it might take some time for me to get back to today's inbox zero level I'll make sure I'll get through all of it).

Other than that - thanks to ntc and Nick the Barcamp is all setup, the conference is well on track, thanks to many external helping hands we've again got a convincing line-up of satellite events. In addition I made sure the Apache Mahout people got a time and place to meet, I managed to review all proposals that sounded interesting at Strata London (great stuff on the business side of big data - go there if you want to learn more on the business side of the topics covered by Berlin Buzzwords and more). Everything else will have to wait at least until end next week.

CU in Berlin - bring sun and warm weather with you :)

Last minute Getting Around information for Berlin Buzzwords

2012-05-29 12:47
I've been sharing information on how to get around in Berlin more often than I'd like to type it out - putting it here for future reference.

Before going to Berlin make sure to put an app on your phone that helps with finding the right public transport mix to use for going from one place to another:

If you want to get around for sight seeing - other than making sure to pack a travel guide consider renting a bike for a day or two. It's rather safe to ride one in Berlin, there are several routes that are all green and calm. Checkout to plan your routes - though not the prettiest website it does have comprehensive information on road conditions and lets you avoid cobble stones or less well lit streets. Try it out - it served me very well.

To actually rent a bike - ask your hotel, usually they have decent offers or can point you at a local bike shop that has rental offers. Prizes should be roughly 10,- Euros a day or 50,- a week.

One warning to pedestrians and anyone renting a car: Bicycles are very common in Berlin in particular in summer. Watch out when turning, don't underestimate their speed. When walking on the sidewalks watch out for lanes reserved for bikes - usually they are red with white stripes but can look slightly different - see also some images on flickr.

Berlin Buzzwords Schedule online - book your ticket now

2012-04-30 10:29
As of beginning of last week the Berlin Buzzwords schedule is online. The Program Committee has
completed reviewing all submissions and set up the schedule containing a great lineup of speakers for this years Berlin Buzzwords program. Among the speakers we have Leslie Hawthorn (Red Hat), Alex Lloyd (Google), Michael Busch (Twitter) as well as Nicolas Spiegelberg (Facebook). Checkout our program in the online schedule.

Berlin Buzzwords standard conference tickets are still available. Note that we also offer a special rate for groups of 5 and more attendees with a 15% discount off the standard ticket price. Make sure to book your ticket now: Ticket prizes will rise by another 100 Euros for last minute purchases in three weeks!

“Berlin Buzzwords is by far one of the best conferences around if you care about search, distributed systems, and NoSQL...” says Shay Banon, founder of ElasticSearch.

Berlin Buzzwords will take place June 4th and 5th 2012 at Urania Berlin. The 3rd edition of the conference for developers and users of open source projects, again focuses on everything related to scalable search, data-analysis in the cloud and NoSQL-databases. We are bringing together developers, scientists, and analysts working on innovative technologies for storing, analysing and searching today's massive amounts of digital data.

Berlin Buzzwords is organised by newthinking communications GmbH in collaboration with Isabel Drost (Member of the Apache Software Foundation, PMC member Apache community development and co-founder of Apache Mahout), Jan Lehnardt (PMC member Apache CouchDB) and Simon Willnauer (Member of the Apache Software Foundation, PMC member Apache Lucene).

More information including speaker interviews, ticket sales, press information as well as "meet me at bbuzz" buttons are available on the official Berlin Buzzwords website.

Looking forward to meeting you in June.

PS: Did I mention that Berlin is all beautiful in Summer?