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Toying around with Google Analytics 360 Suite February 19, 2018

Posted by Steven in In-Media, The-Web.
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Today I followed up on a long standing to-do on my list. For a couple of personal projects I use smaller German and American web platform providers. The projects are really small – like your neighborhood cooking bloc or the like – so there is not much traffic and I look at basic built-in statistic tools. Like aw-stats.

What I’ve done now: Cleaned it up nicely, set up an organization in the Google Analytics Platform. Hooked up the respective Google+ profile to make it look nicely (cool feature). Confirmed the domain ownership and created a nice Analytics account and property structure. And in the end I connected the Google Search Console data to Analytics.

The whole Analytics suite is rather impressive. The setup went smoothly and transparently. The UI is clean but powerful. Tracking works in real time – which is also rather impressive as you see marks on a map come in after just very few setup steps.

I must say it’s worth exploring further.



Google giving away HDR images under CC license February 14, 2018

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Google is giving away a huge package of single shots and combined/calculated images as HDR photos. The package is intended for machine learning and reasearch applications but the license is quite open so other uses are legally possible.

Here are a couple of important links if you would like to learn more:

Add-on: Video Conferencing Services January 10, 2018

Posted by Steven in In-Media, Innovation.
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Here comes a quick add-on:

A while ago I wrote about appear.in a free video conferencing and screen sharing service. I do have strong sympathetic feelings for these kind of startup stories. But when I actually used appear.in in my line of work (some month ago) I believe we conferenced more than 4 people together. Now when I read the details again it occurred to me that the free version of appear.in only supports up to 4 participants in a call. 4 people is not much. So I wanted to share some ideas on alternatives.

The best solution I found at quick glance:  Jitsi (an open source platform for video calling and conferencing solutions).

Specifically I’ve liked their product Jitsi Meet.

It’s not as easy to set up and use as appear.in but if you install the free iOS or Android app then it’s a great and similar user experience.

Meltdown and Spectre January 10, 2018

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Initially I was hesitant to post about these low level flaws in today’s computing architectures. But I learned over the past days that these flaws are too big and the impact to vast to not write about them.

What is happening / what flaws? So in my own words: Researchers discovered new security holes and described scary hacking scenarios. These attack scenarios focus on the fact, that everything that a PC or smart device works on is saved in memory. Memory areas are kept separate (generally by tech built into your CPU and your operating system). But there are also techniques that allow to jump between memory areas (kind-of). These incredibly smart and complex technologies can be attacked as we know now. So some complex malware running in your browser could theoretically access memory data used by your password manager. That’s surely not what you want. But to put a disclaimer on this statement: You i.e. the user would have to get this malware and actually run it (under favorable conditions as described in the researchers works) – so what I’ve heard all the time is, that the attack scenarios are highly theoretical and that computer systems in the cloud are more likely to get attacked (as opposed to your personal laptop).

With this post I wanted to make people aware that this is really a big issue. It is a low level attack scenario on the CPU / RAM level. It affects many many kinds of devices – old and new ones. It is hard to patch.

I wanted to gather some ‘good’ sources here to help you read more details:


I started reading about these attacks around 31st of December 2017. Intel may have been aware of the issue since July 2017. And in my view the media did not really know how to explain and talk about these attack scenarios. Just this week I started seeing simple logos and more adequate explanations and videos about these complex topics. I had a look at meltdownattack.com and I found great resources including the logos. Thanks for allowing free use of these logos and full image credit goes to designer: Natascha Eibl.

CES 2018 January 9, 2018

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It’s that time of the year again! The Holiday festivities are largely over and all tech journalists are eager to blog and write about the Consumer Electronics Expo in Las Vegas. A local publication once said that there is so much to see in the continent-sized Las Vegas Convention Center.

So let’s break it down or even better, let’s jot down some guesses or predictions what will be shown.


In my view 4k (UltraHD) television systems are on the rise. They will be present in high-end tech but conquer mid-range sets in 2018. Also OLED is on the rise. OLED offers high contrast, superior color reproduction and the ultimate black (but it may lack regarding screen refresh rate).

Last year we have also learned that HDR (high dynamic range) can help produce superior images – and that superiority may be more noticeable than the actual move to a higher resolution (fun fact – 4K resolution is just 3840 × 2160 px – about 6.2 million pixel up from the FullHD resolution of 1920 x 1080 px). But last year also brought a big mess of strange hard to explain HDR standards. By the time of autumn the industry did a good job explaining to end-users that dynamic HDR is what you want. So basically the light / color distribution settings are provided and optimized for each scene (not for the whole movie – as it is in static HDR).

As far as I can see there are two dynamic hot shot formats now: Dolby Vision and HDR10+. And my prediction for TVs for 2018 is: We are going to see more and more affordable 4K TVs which support both standards and also the hot shot 3d Audio formats. So it’s less up to the consumer to check what standards his specific home cinema solution needs to support. It will become more generic and just known as HDR works.


I don’t think we are going to see groundbreaking news in the mobile space. Maybe we’ll get some more rounded up (Android) tablets. And probably some more exotic handsets i.e. smartphones with built in projectors or more wild built in VR / AR capabilities.


New laptops are always a safe bet for CES. So what could be the trend here: I believe the trend for slim but powerful laptops will continue. We will see more talk about the AR / VR capabilities of these mobile computers. Furthermore I see two specific trends: Intel’s 8th generation chips plus AMD Ryzen for laptops plus unified i/O – meaning we’re going to see USB 3.1 Type-C – hopefully multiple USB-C ports per device (but also pointing to the need for adapters). Second: Windows on ARM. That was big news at the end of 2017 and I believe we’re going to see some nice always on Windows machines.

Virtual Reality

Augmented and Virtual Reality applications will be shown all around. You will see a lot of screenshots and photos of people wearing VR headsets. I must say right now I can not really point to sensible real world applications for this technology. For sure the VR googles will get smaller and the need for tons of wires and for high powered PCs will vanish. We’re already seeing parts of this with HTC’s wireless adapter: https://www.theverge.com/2018/1/8/16863304/htc-vive-wireless-adapter-features-ces-2018

Cars / Mobility

Last year we’ve really seen a big push with strange Chinese company “Faraday Future” showing their vapor ware car the FF91 driving like one meter at CES for the first time. Well I’m not sure we are going to see more of that – but I predict that electric vehicles and the future of mobility will be big topics at CES.

Machine Learning / Digital Assistants / Home Automation

or as we call it today: Alexa everywhere. This already happened well in 2017 – the big battle between Google Home and Amazon Alexa showed every consumer that digital assistants are an interesting and not too expensive proposition. Well I have a more critical view on these things but I can’t say that this isn’t a big push. Especially Alexa is catching on in my circle of friends and in my family. It is really quite clever how Amazon pushed their own ~30 / 40 bucks devices. Even the upgrade to full Amazon Music for one of these Echos is a proposition which my friends use (3,99€ per month for a full music streaming service on one echo device).

We are going to see a lot of gadgets and a lot of companies trying to take advantage of this hype. Alexa will be put everywhere, in wearables, in gaming and media gear, in more cars and so on.

Philips already mentioned they are going to reveal more flexible devices for their home automation systems (something more exciting than a hue bridge – maybe a hue bridge that hooks up to your stereo with Amazon Alexa in it?).


So that’s it for now :)  I hope we are going to have a great and entertaining CES 2018!

Learn about the CMS used by media upstart Vox December 4, 2017

Posted by Steven in In-Media, The-Web.
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Here is an interesting write-up of the CMS “Chorus” an in house developed super tool for vox media.


Excellent Summary of Discounts (Germany Black Friday) November 24, 2017

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I am getting really distracted by all of these Black Friday deal adverts. My gut feeling is that many retailers really stepped up their game: E-Mail marketing (lots), instagram adverts, even updated shop apps which reflect special icons / banners to guide shoppers to the “crazy discounts”.

In my quest to bring order to the chaos I found this brilliant blog which nicely lists prices and discount offers grouped by item category. So one can really decide what one needs and look it up.



OwnCloud and External Storage via Dropbox.com September 29, 2017

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I know I am late to the game. But just recently I discovered “OwnCloud“. In my view OwnCloud is mainly a well designed server software which can be used and installed freely. The suite also includes some client-side Apps and some extensions – some of these additional tools require a purchase. When you install your own cloud server you essentially get a nifty cloud file storage solution with easy ways to upload through a browser, manage files and documents, share stuff and keep track of versions and basic collaboration features. You can check out all the details on their official site:


As I said I am fairly new to that game. And I just recently installed an OwnCloud server on a backup webspace that I maintain since Uni. It works really well and it is a good extension to my regular drobobox and onedrive accounts. Over the weeks I casually looked through the features and discovered nice ways to extend an OwnCloud installation. You can access it through many clients and out of the box it supports the WebDav protocol. Also I would like to mention: The mobile and desktop web client is also really really good.

One nice way to expand is to add your external storage providers. I’ve done that with my Dropbox account and I was quite happy with having everything in a nice view through the lean web interface of OwnCloud.

However since one or two days or so this solution stopped working. I.e. there were error messages in OwnCloud and I could not open my Dropbox folder via OwnCloud.

It turns out that this OwnCloud external storage solution seems to use the OAuth 1.0 protocol as part of the Dropbox API v1. I feel that OwnCloud is already a fairly complex product and many enthusiasts work on the code and tirelessly want to improve the core and key features. The external Dropbox  solution seems to be a lower priority and it seems it was left untouched as Dropbox API v1 continued to work in parallel to the new Dropbox API v2. But just now on 28-September-2017 Dropbox really switched  off API v1.   :-(   for me this means – the just discovered option to use  Dropbox from within OwnCloud does no longer work.


I believe work will continue on that piece but I may need to stay patient. So OAuth 2.0 and consequently the new Dropbox API v2 needs to be incorporated in OwnCloud. People are already talking about this challenge and work has started:


Video Conferencing and Screen Sharing – easy and seamless September 20, 2017

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I’ve recently had the opportunity to meet some talented developers from the distinguished city of Nuremberg. It was inspiring to learn how they specialized on certain skills and how distributed teams work together seamlessly.

I generally observe that freelance developers and smaller companies can tap into new and innovative tools much quicker than large companies (partly of course due to regulatory reasons applied to large institutions).

Appearin Illustration Banner

For easy stand-up-meetings and to pull distributed teams together they used “appear.in“.

Their tag-line says it quite well: appear.in  –  one click video conversations. But it can do even more. It can share your screen and it works nicely on an Android device or on an iPhone. I tried it out and I was surprised how easy, hassle free and quick it is.

Essentially you:

  • go to their site: https://appear.in
  • pick a name for your room (any kind of name – I know there may be Security concerns for confidential meetings but for quick team huddles it is really nice)
  • and a second later you’re in your meeting room (which seems to use a nice web standard front-end / no flash or plugins needed)
  • you can invite others and start chatting
  • there is easy text chat and screen sharing capabilities as well
  • and as far as I can see: it’s free!


And to cater just a little bit for the fine print: they seem to be based on Norway and their terms of service states that they don’t store any transcripts or call content on their servers. Also they have a nice blog and seem to be a cool bunch of people :) go say hi.

go try it out and let me know what you think in comments.

Great Spots Showcased: Awwwards June 13, 2017

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Always on the run for inspiration and for great spots on the world wide web. Now I found one little service that makes for a good starting point.


In my own words: it’s a website aggregator which allows users and jury members to assign grades (1-lowes 10-highes) to website projects. It’s updated daily and provides a great overview of well designed or very usable websites. A good place to skim for inspiration.


Great Spots on the Web – made with Squarespace May 2, 2017

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Just yesterday I met with a friend who is planning to start her own business. It was an inspiring afternoon with lots of great ideas and the true free spirit of getting things done and working on things who make sense.

This inspired me and I brainstormed some of my own ideas again. So here we go – directly from the brainstorming session: Some great examples of sites which use Squarespace:

sites made with squarespace (illustration)

quick observation: apparently everyone needs huge images :-)


German Startups to watch (Top Startup Growth 2016) December 19, 2016

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Informative Twitter Account to watch: https://twitter.com/bilanz_de

Brief list of fast growing German Startups (value = growth given in relative percentage):

1. Lesara (Berlin): 1.425 percent
fashion and interior online retail

2. Gastrohero (Holzwickede): 1.345 percent
appliance / tool sale for the food service industrie

3. Uberall (Berlin): 754 percent
marketing software

4. Unu (Berlin): 725 percent
e-scooter sale

5. Rebelle (Hamburg): 660 percent
used clothes and accessories sales

6. Contentful (Berlin): 646 percent
content management solutions

7. Thermondo (Berlin): 638 percent
modernization of heating systems

8. Foodpanda (Berlin): 567 percent
online food delivery service

9. Digidip (Berlin): 564 percent
marketing focus on online shop links

10. Montredo (Berlin): 520 percent
time pieces online retail

11. About You (Hamburg): 516 percent
online retailer for clothes and accessories

12. Schmuck-Elfe (Leipzig): 477 percent
online retailer for jewelery and accessories

13. Smartpatient (München): 473 percent
advice concerning medication use

14. Koro-Drogerie (Berlin): 456 percent
online retail for groceries

15. RNTS-Media (Berlin): 444 percent
online marketing and advertising

16. Amorelie (Berlin): 425 percent
online retail for erotic products

17. Metacrew Group (Osnabrück): 381 percent
strategy advice for online retailer

18. Brillen.de (Wildau): 380 percent
online retailer for glasses

19. Hellofresh (Berlin): 363 percent
delivery service for food & groceries

20. TVsmiles (Berlin): 305 percent
Sales raffles and coupons

21. Finanzchef24 (München): 273 percent
insurance comparison

22. Yieldlove (Hamburg): 264 percent
online advertising comparisons

23. Sentinel Systemlösungen (Hamburg): 239 percent
IT security and system administration

24. Applause (Berlin): 223 percent
App testing

25. Deematrix (Fürstenwalde): 216 percent
energy storage (focus on renewables)

26. Allbranded (Hamburg): 201 percent
online retail for promitional products

27. Newsletter-2-go (Berlin): 199 percent
E-Mail marketing

28. Pickawood (Hamburg): 197 percent
customized furniture online sales

29. Mobisol (Berlin): 195 percent
online sale of photovoltaic equipment

30. Meinunterricht.de (Berlin): 190 percent
lesson preparation for teachers

31. Ecratum (Berlin): 186 percent
tool in order to optimize supplier relations for small shops

32. Honestly MT (Köln): 180 percent
non-public review system

33. Golf-Post (Köln): 175 percent
online magazine for golf topics

34. Screwerk (Lüdenscheid): 169 percent
screw sales

35. Blacklane (Berlin): 163 percent
chauffeur services

36. Data-Virtuality (Leipzig): 161 percent
database system for data analytics

37. Springlane (Düsseldorf): 161 percent
kitchen- and kitchen tools sale

38. Cerascreen (Schwerin): 151 percent
lab-test / health-test sales

39. Fincite (Frankfurt am Main): 149 percent
development of financial algorithms

40. Travador (München): 137 percent
travel package sale (short trips)

41. Webdata-Solutions (Leipzig): 132 percent
peer-group- / competition analysis

42. Fastbill  (Offenbach am Main): 118 percent
billing for freelancers

43. Greenyogashop (Wyk auf Föhr): 115 percent
Yoga items sales

44. Finanzcheck.de (Hamburg): 104 percent
online loan comparisons

45. Streetspotr (Nürnberg): 98 percent
analysis for mini-sales-portals

46. Myposter (Bergkirchen): 97 percent
online printing (focus: large format)

47. On-apply (Frankfurt am Main): 94 percent
job applicant management software

48. First-Colo (München): 92 percent
server and computing-services leasing

49. Windeln.de (München): 90 percent
online retail for toddler products

50. Milk-the-sun (Münster): 82 percent
services for photovoltaic products


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