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08(01), 07(03), 06(03), 05(02), 04(02), 03(02)
12(02), 11(01), 10(08), 09(03), 07(17), 06(01), 05(04), 04(03), 03(02), 02(02), 01(06)
12(05), 11(02), 10(01), 09(01), 08(02), 07(04), 06(01), 05(02), 04(03), 03(02), 02(02), 01(01)
12(01), 11(02), 09(09), 08(16), 07(02), 06(03), 05(04), 04(03), 02(03), 01(02)
12(03), 11(01), 10(02), 09(01), 08(23), 07(03), 06(02), 05(01), 04(02), 03(02)
12(03), 11(02), 10(01), 09(01), 08(23), 05(02)
09(04), 08(01), 06(01), 05(02), 04(02), 03(01), 02(01)
11(01), 10(02), 09(15), 08(01), 07(02), 06(04), 04(12), 01(06)
12(05), 11(01), 10(06), 09(12), 08(02), 07(02), 06(01), 05(01), 04(10), 02(01), 01(05)
12(02), 08(01), 07(15), 06(02), 05(03), 02(02), 01(03)
12(05), 11(01), 07(24), 06(06), 05(03), 04(02), 01(01)
12(01), 11(01), 10(07), 09(01), 08(04), 07(05), 06(04), 05(06), 04(01), 03(04), 02(06), 01(04)
12(04), 11(02), 10(03), 09(04), 08(03), 07(04), 04(01)
07(01), 05(01)
08(01)
10(01)

Thu, 31 Dec 2015
day 05 in braveheart land (0 comments)
it was a cloudy morning, when today we checked out from the hotel. but before we had used the wifi to search for an accommodation that firstly is roughly in our direction we want to go, secondly is open, and thirdly still has vacancies. turns out this seems to be quite a problem on the last day of the year. as a last resort we found a rather expensive three star hotel in ullapool. but now it was time for sights, like loch ness[01-04,82,85-86] for example. by far the most famous loch in scotland, and also a pretty long one.
we started at the north end[02-04], took the road that leads around the lake on the south side. for the first few kilometres we drove along the shoreline, then the road got farther and farther away from the lake. soon, it was not to be seen anymore.
approximately half way down to the south end of loch ness we took a turn to get to the falls of foyer[08-23], which included a short walk through the woods to get there. a few other tourists also made it to the falls, but all in all there were not many people.
then we drove on southwards, took some stops at random places we liked, like the one along river foyers[24-49], or one along the "general wade's military road". yep, that really is the name of the road.
next stop was at the suidhe viewpoint[55-81]. a little hike across country. because of the lack of trees it was very very stormy there. amazing how the plants can adjust to this harsh climate and conditions.
here we were totally alone, no one else was hiking here. also there were no animals to spot or hear. while walking was okay, nina got very cold when we reached a little hill. so after taking a few photos and getting very cold fingers, we decided to go back to the car.
then there was more driving to the south end of loch ness, where the street got close to the lake again. after a little pro forma scouting for the cryptid loch ness monster "nessie", which unfortunately and surprisingly did not surface, we drove on again.
we took a little break to grab a bite and have a coffee in fort augustus[87-94]. after that we continued our journey on the west shore of loch ness.
three quarters of the way up to the north end of the lake is the urquhart castle[95-96]. we just arrived when the last visitors left, and the castle entrance was already about being closed. oh no, too bad. we could have used our explorer's pass for that. there is a big fence with high trees and bushes that makes it pretty impossible to get a clear look on the castle from the parking lot. thanks to nina's tripod we were able to get a good angle and a clear view to the lit castle. with loch ness in the background, this really must have been an impressive subject for some photographs.
since it was already dark again, we kept on driving to get to ullapool, a town on the west coast. after a little more than two hours drive we arrived in a small, sleepy fisher village. we really were wondering what new year's eve here will look like, and mentally compared it to the massive crowds that might already have gathered all over edinburgh. but there was still time until hogmanay, so at first we tried to get dinner in ullapool. turns out there are not many places to choose from, so we took the pub along the shoreline. we entered the pub at 20:45, kitchen closes at 21:00 o'clock, so we quickly ordered fish and chips. hopefully the cook wasn't too pissed because of us. the staff at the bar was super relaxed and friendly, i think they all were already in party mood. we learned that all the locals go to "the arch inn", and that's also about the only pub that will be opened tonight. since there was still time, we went back to our hotel, and joined other guests at the bar. there we met a mixture of really nice people, from retiree, to a lorry driver, and a whisky connoisseur, namely the bar tender. so nina and i used the chance to get professional advice and consultation, as we really did not like whisky up to now. turned out once you get the right whisky, it actually is something we both could enjoy. neil, the bartender, seemed to be in his element and happy all over to help us out of our ignorance of good whisky labels. and so, with all the whisky talk and drinking, we almost missed new year's eve. we had to hurry to "the arch inn", because they would "bring the bell in". and while they don't have fireworks or sparkling wine or lucky charm thingies going on in ullapool, they have a bar owner who plays the bag pipes for his guests. now that was awesome - happy new year. the inn was well crowded, and all people we met and talked to - among them the staff from the pub we have been to before - were very friendly. there was some alcohol involved too. then... memory gets a bit hazy, any sense of time becomes a blur, but at some time or other the inn closed. so we finished our beer outside, where we met another very friendly guy, who seemed to take interest in us two tourists. turns out he was a sound technician who regularly goes on tour with all kind of bands. interesting guy we had a lot of fun with. nina even got a bottle of whisky from him, because he said he has plenty of booze in his car. soon after the inn owner asked all remaining guests to leave the premises so he could close the gates. so we returned to our accommodation, the "royal hotel ullapool" to find the same gang still hanging out in the bar, just as we left them. well, we joined them again for another few lovingly selected whiskys and early early in the morning we finally made it to our beds. puh, i wonder in what condition i will find myself tomorrow in the morning. happy hogmanay. track for day 05.

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Wed, 30 Dec 2015
day 04 in braveheart land (0 comments)
the storm from last night continued today in the morning. it was rainy and stormy, but rather warm. well, first day with a hint of bad weather - we are in scotland after all. we had another scottish breakfast for nina, and porridge, toast, marmalade and cereals for me. surprisingly the porridge was very good; i did not expect that. if available, i will have that from now on. our first stop after a short drive was in stonehaven to visit dunnottar castle[04-37]. to get there one has to walk a bit from the parking lot. on the parking lot we were the only ones, and it was still raining. but there was already a sign saying the castle is closed due to bad weather conditions. too bad. also i didn't think this was "bad weather conditions". still we tried to get as close to the castle, so we walked on. the closer we got to the castle and the sea, the stronger the wind gusts became. there was a gravel path down to the sea and to the only entrance to the castle. so at least we could get close to the sea[23-27].
when we climbed up the hill again to get back to our car, there were some people, some of them tourists, some of them locals walking their dogs. soaking wet we returned to the car, and drove on to crathes castle[38-47]. but, guess what, this one was also "closed due to bad weather conditions". we did not think scots were that weather-sensitive. but, again, one could have a look at the castle from the outside. crathes castle strongly reminded me of a love hotel i once saw in tokyo. its look is rather disney like, but what we saw in our guide-book quite a lot of things are named "castle" here in scotland. maybe i am influenced by "game of thrones" too much when it comes to expectations of castles.
again, soaking wet, we got into our car and wanted to drive on to inverness through the cairngorms national park. but while driving a lot of cars flashed their lights at us. nope, i was definitely driving on the right side, still they kept on flashing at us. so we stopped, because i began to wonder if there might be something wrong with the car. at the parking lot another guy parked there, and while we were inspecting our car, he told us, that the road ahead was flooded. aaah, so, that's why - okay. although we were told the street was flooded and there would be no use in going on in this direction, we wanted to see that ourselves. and there really was heavy flooding[48-51]. two jeeps made it to the other side[49-50], but our car would definitely not make it. too bad.
so we turned around, flashed at oncoming traffic (just for fun) and took the "normal" road to inverness. too sad, we will not see ballater, cock bridge, bridge of brown, speybridge or the highlands in cairngorms national park. just to make there is no other way to get to inverness, we stopped at the next police station, hoping that officers could give us a better overview of all the flooding and affected roads. but it seems all personnel was busy with the flood already, so the police station was closed. next we tried a local "tourist information center", which turned out to be a collection of leaflets and brochures in the local library. two elder ladies there tried to help us but it seemed there really is no other way through the highlands without time consuming detours. well, by now it was already getting dark again anyway, so we decided to take the ordinary route, because by now it does not matter anyway. ah, did i already mention there are lots of roundabouts? yes i did? oh, okay. well, loads of roundabouts and approximately six hours of driving later, we finally arrived in inverness. our hotel was right beside the river ness. the river's water-level seemed okay, so this should be a safe night - hopefully. after checking in, and leaving our luggage in the room, we took a stroll to inverness castle[52-53,57,59], that was only a few minutes walk away.
on the castle hill we spotted loads of little cute fluffy rabbits, but unfortunately it was way too dark to take a picture of them. oh, and we were wondering ourselves, why they put up a ionizing radiation hazard symbol[59] with two reindeer at the backside of the castle.
we walked around the castle hill in a circle and stopped at a local chinese take-away, as it seemed everything else was already closed, and we did not want to search for hours for a good pub or restaurant. so we took it with us to the "glen mhor" hotel, ate it, watched tv for a while, and then fell asleep. track for day 04.

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Tue, 29 Dec 2015
day 03 in braveheart land (0 comments)
today we fetched our rental car. the pick-up station was only 15 minutes by foot from our guest house. i had to start driving, as usual, as nina does not like to drive on the left side. well, neither do i, but we have to get moving. so, trying to always have a car in front of me, we made our way out of edinburgh. here is a tip to rent your car cheap and reliably available exactly when and where you need it: use adac/oeamtc. you do not even need to be a member, and it is still way cheaper than booking the car elsewhere. if you have a membership, it gets even cheaper. we were positively surprised by the price and availability. total recommendation. and for booking flights and stuff, we recommend sta-travel. no matter when/where we went on a trip abroad, they always found cheaper and more convenient flights than any online check site. and a total no-go is opodo. do not ever use their services. any. ever. no. don't. scots love roundabouts it seems. even on their highways they have roundabouts from time to time. weird concept, but it seems to work, once you get the hang of it (which took me a while). and in and around edinburgh there were loads of them to practice. after about one hour of slow and cautious driving we arrived in falkirk, at the "helix park". there they have "the kelpis"[001-031], two huge equine head sculptures. they are a reminder of all the work horses that had to pull boats along the forth and clyde canal, that ends in the hub, where the kelpies are now.
really huge, really impressive, really amazing. their height is about 30 metres and each one weighs around 300 tonnes. in sunlight their are really awesome (we were once more lucky with the weather). if i should ever become an artist i might try that with feline head sculptures - i think i would like that. fun fact: at the time of writing this bLog entry, google maps still shows a green field where all this is standing today. the sculptures were finished in october 2013.
after another hour of driving we arrived in stirling[032-128], parked our car, paid the parking fee, and headed towards the castle. to get there, we took the route through the cemetery at the church of the rude[034-055], a really beautiful grave yard.
entrance fee to stirling castle[056-128] is also included in the explorer's pass. it also allows you to use a fast lane at the entry. although there weren't that many people. firstly because it was off season, and secondly because it was already 15:00 o'clock again, so the sun began to set again. days are really really short here. sun rise is around 08:30 o'clock, and seven hours later it sets again. that's something we did not consider when choosing scotland as our destination. but the good thing is, we take way fewer pictures than on other previous trips.
fortunately sterling castle also got lit beautifully once the sun went down. so again it was beautiful to see the outside, and also the inside of the castle.
there weren't many people, and also due to the size of the castle, people are spread all over the area, so there is quite a good distribution of the visitors.
while wandering the halls with all their amazing interior furnishing, carpets, fire places, cupboards, beds, etc. a warden in the museum started to explain a lot of stuff and answered all our questions. he patiently followed us from room to room, and it took us a while until we noticed that he turned off the lights once we left a room. so we were the last visitors again, again escorted by the staff. but this warden, an older bearded man really was nice and did not urge us to hurry or leave immediately; maybe because we were so interested in his explanations, and asked so many questions. so we thanked him a lot for all the valuable information and insights and he left us at the castle gates. two hours of driving later we arrived in stonehaven, checked in at the "shorehead guest house", a house right at the sea front. in stonehaven it was pretty stormy. when i had traditional fish and chips and nina had a variation of fish at the harbour restaurant next to our guest house, the windows were heavily shaken by the strong gusts of wind. after the delicious dinner we went to bed, hoping the wind would not be any harm to our accommodation or our car. track for day 03.

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Mon, 28 Dec 2015
day 02 in braveheart land (0 comments)
nina started this day with a scottish breakfast, consisting of beans, bacon, scrambled eggs, black pudding, sausages, and all the stuff that comes with an english breakfast. not the stuff for me to start the day with, i went for the continental style and had corn flakes, muesli, yoghurt and fruits, toast slices and marmalade. everyone was happy, everyone was pretty filled. time to explore edinburgh. we took the same route we had yesterday evening via waverley station, and headed to the calton hill[011-044]. there are some sights, like the national monument of scotland[018-019,023,027,029], the nelson monument[012-014,022,027,034], or the dugald stewart monument[036,039,043-044], or some ancient canons[020-021], or a view on the impressive holyrood park[024]. all over edinburgh, including the parks and sights on calton hill were fencings. we figured this will be for hogmanay celebrations, the scottish version of new year's eve. judging from the amount of fencing and other signs of preparations, this must be a really huge thing in edinburgh. although this might be nice to see, i am rather glad to be not in edinburgh at this time. this seems like a place with too many people for my taste.
on our stroll to high street[045-082] we came along the railway station[045-050] again, walked on the north bridge[047-055], and found st. giles' cathedral[068,070,071,076-082,083-133,134]. there they tore down a huge scaffold[071] which might have been used for christmas decorations (we think). next we went inside st. giles' cathedral[083-133], and bought a photo permit at the souvenir shop located inside the church. two old ladies happily handed me the stickers. nina had her tripod with her, i had to position my camera on all kind of stuff to get a focused shot.
the cathedral was built during the 14th and 15th century and is pretty impressive. there even should be a bagpipe playing angel somewhere, but we did not find this one unfortunately.
we stopped for a little break in a cafe[136-137], where we were seated outside, since inside there was no free table. fortunately it was not that cold, so sitting outside with hot coffee was bearable. our next sight was edinburgh castle[140-204]. the entrance to the castle is pretty expensive, and it seems this is common amongst the castles, so we decided to buy the "explorer pass". its price is double the entrance fee of edinburgh castle, but once we visit other sights, that pass should pay off. we arrived at the castle at 15:00 o'clock, so it was getting dark again. but then the twilight added much to the gothic and dark atmosphere of the castle walls. bad for pictures, good for ambience.
we walked around the castle and took many pictures, but soon the castle was closed, and we were the last ones to leave, escorted by stuff that was happy to go home. yet they were very friendly and gave us some extra minutes to take some more pictures.
back in town we went to the edinburgh's christmas market[207-213] in the princes street gardens, where the big wheel and such is. we had a chocolate-coated marshmallow treat[210] since they looked so delicious, and had over 20 flavours to choose from.
on our way back to the "eyre guest house" we stopped at the "jekyll & hyde" again to have a steak and ale pie. nomnom, that was really delicious. track for day 02.

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Sun, 27 Dec 2015
day 01 in braveheart land (0 comments)
so this year we decided to spend new year's eve abroad, and we chose to go to scotland. the weather and climate should be mild at this time of the year, the amount of rain should be modest, and temperatures should be between 0 and 5 degrees celsius. or so the internet says. let's find out... to get there, we went via frankfurt to edinburgh, and arrived in the early afternoon on day 01. there's a tram from the airport straight to the centre of scotland's capital city. since we will stay here for (at least) two days, we bought a two day ticket at the conductor - our first encounter with the lovely scottish accent. took us a while to figure out all the words he said, but since it was a rather simple task to buy two tickets, we managed that easily. we got off the tram but did not know exactly in what direction we should be heading. with all the luggage we wanted to take the shortest path, so we asked two ladies at a bus stop how to get to our accommodation. with a wonderful scottish accent they pointed us in the right direction. luckily it was just a 10 minutes walk to our guest house. so far the weather was fine, we had no troubles talking to the locals, everything seemed to go as planned. but... when we arrived at our hotel, we met a sturdy, grumpy looking guy at the hotel, who couldn't find our reservation. he said a lot of stuff but most of it we didn't understand. we figured he is in charge of three guest houses as there's currently no staff due to christmas holidays. a phrase we did understand though when he came back after leaving us for a few minutes was "found ya", with a big grin on his face, and seeming to be relieved and less grumpy. turns out booking.com put nina's name first on the reservation, but i gave the guy my name, so of course he couldn't find us at first. also, nina's name was spelled badly wrong, handwritten by the guy on a piece of paper. but who cares, we got our room - yippieh. there we left our luggage, and decided to explore the vicinity. turns out edinburgh is not as big as it looked on the map. only a few minutes walk took us right to the heart of the city. a problem though is the early sunset, which is already around 15:00 o'clock. one hour later it's already dark, and that is not good for taking pictures. we started our tour on princes street[01-07] with the adjacent princes street gardens, in which the christmas fair was still opened. they also had an amusement part with a big wheel[01,14-15,36-37] and carousels, big ones[04-05,07,14-15,] and the smaller ones[06] for the kids.
the edinburgh waverley railway station[08-17] is entirely under a big glass roof. at first we thought it was a glass house, but then we saw all the trains and platforms when we entered; really impressive. we left the station and strolled along cockburn street[18-24], where there are loads of shops with all kind of fancy stuff, like the unicorn-bride and horseman-groom wedding-cake topper[23]. then we took high street[25-30] to get to the top of the hill to edinburgh castle[31-37], which was nicely lit, but unfortunately already closed.
so we headed back to our guest house, but first had a delicious hearty burger at the "jekyll & hyde" street. the interior was awesome, they had different sections, from steampunk decorations to mummies in sarcophaguses. when we arrived at the "eyre guest house" we watched a little television and then went to bed, getting some rest. so far, scotland is pretty nice - hopefully it will stay this way. track for day 01.

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Sat, 21 Nov 2015
project pitchfork (0 comments)
^C: project pitchfork (bhambhamhara), szene timekiller blood-stained (give me your body) conjure en garde! midnight moon misery blood-diamond (see him running) the dividing line i am (a thought in slowmotion) blood-loss (sometimes) view from a throne io fire and ice blood-pressure (just for my pleasure) rain an end alpha omega existence v4.1 beholder souls the longing the queen of time and space acid ocean blood-thirst

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Tue, 10 Nov 2015
20th internet anniversary (0 comments)
lately i stumbled across my first official, preserved record of me on the internet again: it is dated at "Fri, 10. Nov 1995, 23:59:58". that means 20 years of officially being an internet citizen - wohoooooo! do the elders of the internet know my name by now?

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Mon, 19 Oct 2015
god is an astronaut (0 comments)
^C: god is an astronaut (the ills), arena
snowfall echoes vetus memoria reverse world worlds in collision fragile helios | erebus from dust to the beyond pig powder centralia forever lost agneya suicide by star route 666

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Sat, 05 Sep 2015
hiking in vienna (0 comments)
we did another test hike before our next holidays, this time in the area of lainz. i got myself shiny new hiking shoes, so it was time to see if they fit. we started the hike at the nikolai gate, and walked through cooling woods and over big green meadows.
we soon arrived at the wienerblick view point[04-11], where one really has a wonderful view over vienna. we took a little break and some selfies up there too.
then we walked on, passed the rohrhaus, and came to the hermes cafe[25-46], a big old huge building with an even bigger garden around it. the cafe was well attended, and there even seemed to be a wedding reception going on.
we circled the hermes cafe, and then went on hiking eastwards. so far i was very pleased with my new hiking shoes, no sores, no blisters.
we made an exit from the park at the lainzer gate, where we took a bus that took us back to the city. we were surprised that only a few minutes drive with the tram it seemed like we were in the country, not in a city anymore. and so we decided to go hiking more often, from now on.

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Sat, 22 Aug 2015
hiking in tirol (0 comments)
as our next holiday will involve some hiking, we thought it would be a good training to do some hiking. also we could test our shoes and see how good they fit and if we get blisters. so why not hike in tyrol, like... the gratlspitz, for example. a nice three hour hike, there and back. and so we started our ramble with nina's dad at a small car park near the "holzalm".
it was a pretty hot day, with lots of sunshine. so i was rather happy when the track went through a cool wood, because with all the heavy camera equipment, it gets pretty strenuous after some time.
the ascend to the cross on the summit took as a little more than one and a half hours, but we made it and so far we were pretty good, only my right heel hurt, getting rubbed raw in the shoe.
on the summit nina's dad suddenly said he had to leave to run some errands, and he will take the path we came from, because it is the fastest one. but for the scenic tour he recommended a different path to us. so he gave us instructions how to go and where to take turns; all easy, all good, very simple.
just that it was not simple, not good, and not easy. turns out nina's dad was pretty wrong, his instructions were misleading, and his estimation how long it will take us to get to the holzalm again were also a long way off.
two and a half hours later, as opposed to the given estimation by nina's dad of one and a half hour, we arrived at the rendezvous, very tired, very thirsty, very hungry (and a bit angry). my heel was chafed pretty bad by the time we arrived. luckily at the holzalm we could rest, drink and have a delicious escalope. so we found out two things today: firstly, i need other shoes. i think i will get some good proper hiking shoes, and secondly, never trust nina's father when he gives any estimation.

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Mon, 10 Aug 2015
shiny new phone (0 comments)
++ alert ++ tech-talk ++ alert ++ tech-talk ++ alert ++
i bought myself a new mobile phone, to replace my good four-year-old "sony ericsson xperia pro" (the one with the great slide out keyboard). i chose to buy the "samsung galaxy s5 mini". first thing of course was to get rid of samsung's touchwiz and the super bloated rom with all the (for me) useless pre-installed and on-boot-launched stuff i will never ever need. i really enjoyed the clean cyanogenmod i had installed on my old phone - and that is what i wanted for the new phone too. but it turned out there is no easy way to install it as there is not even a stable release for my phone. but, fortunately there is an unofficial cm-12.1 build for the "kminilte", which is cyanogenmod's build name for my phone. lots of thanks go out to "hennymcc", who did the work on this release. it was also his howto that i followed to get my phone the shiny new android operating system called "lollipop". unfortunately the instructions did not work out of the box for me (oh, surprise). when trying to flash the recovery image, i always got this message:
"E: failed to verify whole-file signature" "E: signature verification failed"
turned out, using twrp-recovery with a special kminilte-build, as described in this howto from "techbeasts", provided the correct way and recovery image ("twrp_kminilte-build3.tar") to get it working for me - hooray. happy, happy me. but some things still had to be fixed, like mounting the external sdcard in read-write mode to store data there. so i used the adb shell to remount "/system" via
mount -o rw,remount /system
great thing is, cyanogenmod 12.1 comes preinstalled with a "vim" editor, so it was a pleasantly easy thing to add the line with the "sdcard_rw" gid to "/system/etc/permission/platform.xml" with my editor of choice. so the final content for the "WRITE_EXTERNAL_STORAGE" permissions was
<permission name="android.permission.WRITE_EXTERNAL_STORAGE" > <group gid="sdcard_rw" /> <group gid="media_rw" /> </permissions>
after a reboot, my phone was able to write to the external sd-card. wonderful. another thing that does not work for me, was to encrypt "/data". maybe i will be able to fix that soon, or maybe it simply is just broken in the unofficial build i used. another thing i also would have loved to use was the fingerprint scanner without storing information in some big company's cloud storage, as samsung might have done that with the touchwiz implementation of the scanner. or maybe not. who knows what they really store. so far i am really happy, yet i miss the slide out keyboard, which was really an awesome feature of my old xperia pro. but the galaxy s5 mini has gorilla-glass and is IP67 certified, which means it is dust- ("dust tight") and waterproof ("immersion up to one metre for at least 30 minutes"), which actually should make it a good outdoor phone too. good bye, good old xperia pro, welcome new galaxy s5 mini.

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Wed, 29 Jul 2015
10th bLog anniversary (0 comments)
puh, 29th of july 2005 i published my first bLog entry - it was sysadmin appreciation day. amazing how time flies, and how unappreciated sysadmins still are - oh well... anyway, happy 10th bLog anniversary to you my dearest bLog \o/

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Thu, 23 Jul 2015
wolf photo shooting at the wolf science center (0 comments)
we tried a new zoo; this time the zoo in ernstbrunn. the wolf science center in particular, as we had a photo shooting with wolves there. we had already booked that in february, and have been looking forward to that ever since. it was a very hot day (as so many this summer), and we were instructed beforehand to wear long trousers, solid shoes and a t-shirt, nothing to be made of wool or leather. after a short introduction for the small group of nine people we started with the first part[001-036] of the day. we entered the first enclosure of the "black pack". the pack consists of five members, namely chitto, shima, tala eristoff and two males called aragorn and kaspar; but the two were not allowed to join us. to get to know each other we were given little snacks for the wolves that we could hide in the area. as soon as we were done the wolves were let out (or actually in), and ran through the enclosure, sniffing at everything and everyone.
at first of course only the treats were interesting and all the animals were busy finding the good stuff. once this was done, they approached the human visitors. they had their own code for "hey, don't stand around, pet me" or "noop, no touchy", which were deciphered for us by the staff. but most of them were in a good mood, so we got to pet a lot of wolf fur. after a while one of them even started to lick me, which is (like for dogs) the wolf way of saying "hey there". unfortunately it took me too long to respond to that friendly gesture appropriately because the wolf was already heading on to the next visitor, while i was still overwhelmed by the wet friendliness. but i was very, very honored, because i was the only one who got licked in the face by a wolf that day (according to nina, this was only because i look like a wolf).
part two[037-112] was about action shots with the same pack members. we all moved to a different area of the pretty huge enclosure where the wolves were supposed to run through the bushes. there are several enclosures for the wolves at the game park ernstbrunn, two of them 8000 square metres, and another two of them with 4000 square metres each. so plenty of space for the animals.
the wolves had loads of fun, and once they were done running, they lay down panting and took a little rest. they rested only a few metres away from us, so a good opportunity to shoot some more pictures.
then we left this enclosure and the "black pack", and returned to the base. there i switched my lens to a tele-lens. unfortunately you are allowed to only bring your camera with the lens on it to the wolves, nothing more. no rucksack, no telephones, no dangling things like tassels or straps, as the wolves might easily use all that to play with and pull you around or chew it to death. after all, they are pretty massive and strong, and the staff told us about several destroyed items, like mobile phones, and such. by the way, you are not allowed to wear gloves in winter. for the third part[113-195] we entered the enclosure of geronimo's pack, consisting of geronimo, yukon and wamblee. unfortunately wamblee was not allowed to join us, as he was nervous around visitors lately. the people at the WSC really try to be on the very safe side - for humans and wolves. so if they feel there might be troubles with a wolf, they keep the animal out of the enclosure while the people are in there. i guess they would do the same with humans if they felt like there could be any threat or risk - but none of our group was excluded. i also would have liked to have wamblee included as he was one of the black/gray timber wolves, and i find them more beautiful and interesting than the white ones. but meeting geronimo and yukon was also a very exquisite experience. the two wolves were very different from the other ones in the "black pack". more shy, a little more cautious; hardly getting close to the visitors, not seeking any close contact or coming close to get touched.
but they had their fun with a sprinkler in a dried up pond. or at least geronimo had. yukon was a lady at first, trying not to get wet. but soon she also enjoyed the cooling water and jumped into the spray. all members of the human pack watched with envy.
after a while the wolves kept more and more distance to us, and the staff sensed some kind of nervousness amongst the two wolves. so - again for safety for wolf and human - they decided we should better leave them alone to keep the stress level to a minimum.
after that we had a break to get something to drink and eat (remember, you are not allowed to bring anything to the wolves, so we were pretty thirsty and also a little hungry, as the wolves got tons of treats and we got nothing). fed, refreshed, and after a short after-dinner walk through other parts of the game park ernstbrunn[194-195] we started with part four[196-199] of the day. this time the pack was not a wolven one, but a dog pack, namely the "nia pack", consisting of nia, gombo, and sahibu. the wsc keeps dog packs to in order to compare them to the wolf pack. their research is all about cooperation, intellectual strategies, all within the pack but also while interacting with human beings. so they keep the dogs the same way they keep the wolves, with the same training and tests. all the dogs of the "nia pack" were overwhelmed by a massive amount of joy to see the staff and more new people they could get to play with. in fact they were close to being hyper active, they were trying to lick anyone's face that got close to their tongue. i think no member of the human pack was prepared for that, so everyone was like standing there frozen, because the dogs would instantly slap their tongues into your face as soon as you would reach down to pet them. only nina was brave enough to risk crouching down; within a few seconds she was rewarded with a clean face and ears. since no one else could really cope with such an overdose of friendliness by the super happy dogs, we went on to the last part of the day, and left the cute dogs again.
the fifth part[200-251] was real fun. we were brought to the enclosure of the "nanuk pack" (aka the "white pack"), with nanuk and una as members. here we took some action shots with the two wolves. they were running right towards the human pack. while that looked real great in real, my camera gear and i are not really well suited for this kind of shooting. almost all shots were out of focus and blurry, thus unusable to end up in the gallery; and the remaining ones also were not sharp. oh well, i might have to train that one day - maybe.
both wolves really were so cute and adorable. especially nanuk, who was so eager to get to the people to get cuddled, and who so much enjoyed sniffing people and taking in their scent as much as possible, which meant he rubbed his body on every person being near him. again this gave a little insight into how strong those graceful creatures actually are. another highlight was the "portrait shooting". each participant could get a picture with nanuk right next to him or her. while nanuk was more happy with the tons of treats he got, everyone kneeling right beside him had fun. nanuk did not get tired of giving the paw and sitting right next to all the people. he really is a gentle soul. una unfortunately was rather shy, and stuck more to the staff people, she already knew and was familiar with.
once everyone had their picture with nanuk taken, we returned to the "black pack" again, but this time we did not enter the enclosure, but waited right outside the fence to witness a special reward for the animals. this time kaspar and aragorn joined in too. chitto, shima, tala eristoff, kaspar, and aragorn got ice lollipops. this meant meat and blood frozen and then attached to trees with metal chains, so the wolves could lick and bite it, and cool off a bit.
and it seemed they really liked that and had had that already quite often, because they knew what was awaiting them. so happily each wolf worked on their iced lolly - and again all members of the human pack were pretty envious.
to get in touch with real wolves - without a fence (or car door windows as it was in canada) is really an impressive experience. it was also astonishing to see that each wolf has its own character, moods, quirks, and fetishes. so if you ever get the opportunity to go to the wolf science center - do it. we really recommend it. you also get a good insight into the research work the scientists there are doing. furthermore it is interesting to see where there are similarities between dog and wolf, and where not. a total of 797 photos were shot by me this day, 290 made it to the online gallery - enjoy the gallery.

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Sun, 12 Jul 2015
bonny & havanna (0 comments)
we spent this weekend going to tyrol to nina's parents and to also see the new kitty named havanna. so here are some pictures of bonny & havanna.
havanna is basically active all the time, running around, chasing stuff, nibbling on things and teasing all human and cat beings around her. so the time for cuddling is still rather rare, but even the most hyperactive critter gets tired eventually and will curl up on a cozy, soft spot. and that is the time for petting her extensively.
bonnie still has troubles getting accustomed to so much action and vividness, so a lot of hissing, grunting, growling and snarling on her side when the little fluffy fur ball comes too close or attacks her from behind. bonnie likes it more relaxed, slow and calm. i hope the two of them get along better in the future.
so adorable, those two cute, little fur balls. we loved being with them, and luckily havanna is not yet annoyed by our cameras but comes happily closer while we took the pictures, as she is permanently curious about new stuff.

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Sun, 05 Jul 2015
a visit to the zoo in schoenbrunn (0 comments)
jake and his kin was in vienna and invited us to join them on a tour to the vienna zoo. gladly we joined them. it was quite a hot day, and maybe too hot for most of the people, who seemed to have preferred going to the public bath or a place for swimming; so the zoo was rather empty. we met andrea, jake, and little noah at the cheetah[01-07] enclosure. the big cats were resting in the shadows, staying out of sunlight. the once cute little cubs are now full grown up - but still cute kitties, nonetheless.
next stop were the flamingo chicks[11-15], with their way too long black legs and their gray fluffy plumage. there were actually quite a lot of the young ones. really cute and fascinating that one day they will look so much different as grown up birds.
then we admired the seals[16-23], especially the one big alpha male[16-21] in the pool, posing on a stone. its mass is really impressive. next were the penguins[24-28], all loud and cute, standing or swimming around, diving along the big glass windows in the artificial arctic. then we took a little break to grab a bite and have something to drink, like a coffee, or ice cream - or both.
then, for the first time in all our visits to the zoo, we got right to the pelican[33-43] feeding. the big birds were all lined up waiting for the fish. they were thrown by the zoo keepers and the pelicans caught them with their big throat pouches. once swallowed down, some of the birds passed the chow on to their fledglings. this was done by poking the beak down the throat of the parent bird, and it looked like they reached all down to the stomach. then came strange noises, and after some time the head of the young one emerged from the big poach again. weird stuff - why haven't we seen that before?
while jake, andrea, and noah were having another break, nina and i tried to get a closer look at the wolf cubs and the lynx cub. but unfortunately all of them were well hidden, so we did not spot any cub at all. seems like they hide somewhere, when it gets pretty hot outside. i imagine the wolves in a pit in the ground, and the lynx on, in, or under big trees. then we called it a day, since jake, andrea, and noah had to leave, and nina and me also had some stuff to do. we usually knew the zoo to be very crowded on sunny sundays, but it seems that if it gets really really hot, there are no people around. good to know.

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Wed, 10 Jun 2015
again a visit to the zoo in schoenbrunn (0 comments)
yes, we have been to schoenbrunn again, but this time, it was all a little different. we got there for the fourth viennese zoo run. the entry number was limited to 1500 and nina and me got lucky we got our starting numbers, because it was already sold out and we ended up on the waiting list. in april we got an email that we can run as two people had canceled their registration - happy us. there were four starting blocks, each of them had an animal assigned to it. we were in the royal angelfish block (and sadly not in the tiger block), which was to start as the second one. the remaining two blocks were zebra and elephant. we ran pretty slow and relaxed, taking our time to peek at all the confused animals, which might have been wondering what was going on at this time of the day, when the zoo is usually already closed and there should not be any people around anymore, and what all the people are running from - must be a pretty scary predator. so we saw lions, tigers, cheetahs, the cute fluffy newborn wolf cubs (we had not seen them yet), elephants, flamingos, zebras, polar bears and many more. a lot of contestants had painted their faces and body parts to resemble an animal of their choice (mostly tigers from the tiger block, which made it easy with the make up). some also had hats on, that looked like fish, and the runner with number 1 had a giraffe costume on, as the run was to raise money for the new giraffe enclosure and also to help children suffering from pulmonary hypertension. the route was six kilometres long and for the most parts it was flat, only a short passage was uphill and then downhill again. along the run stood loads of helpers that cheered us on and help keeping the motivation up. visitors were not allowed in the zoo during the competition, but there was a short section of the route where we had to run outside the zoo, and there were some people cheering too. of course nina and i crossed the finish line holding hands, and we did fairly bad when it comes to our ranking (let's just say we were not the slowest ones). but since we enjoyed the atmosphere and the animals, and, on top of that, nina had a little cold and a stuffy nose, it is perfectly okay. unfortunately this also meant that we did not get a price, which would have been a cute and fluffy plush giraffe, which really would have been pretty nice to have. in the finish area every contestant got drinks and food; nina had a chilli, i had an kaiserschmarrn; since we were in the "kaiserfisch"-block, this was the only appropriate choice. that was really fun, and the both of us are already looking forward to next year's run - hopefully we make it into the tiger block this time...

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Sun, 31 May 2015
a visit to the zoo in schoenbrunn (0 comments)
my brother, his wife, and my their son, aka "nephew" paid us a visit this weekend. as my christmas gift to them was tickets to the zoo for the whole family, they redeemed them today. we were pretty lucky as the polar bears[01-17] were in a play mood and enjoyed their cooling bath in the heat and were busy with a coconut they could not open.
we were also tremendously lucky to see the peacock[22-36] fanning out its impressively sized and colourful plumage. that was the first time we saw it for the peacocks in schoenbrunn.
my nephew was - as always - fascinated by the penguins[19-21,37-44]. they lined up really cute today and a big group stood there ready to be captured by our cameras.
and then we were even more overwhelmed by how lucky we were this day, as also the white peacock showed its fan[45-55]. both peafowls doing their mating ritual on the same day - incredible.
then we stopped at the flying foxes[56-63], the small-clawed otter[64-71] (cute as always), the group of black-tailed prairie dogs[76-79], the capybaras[80-82], the tigers[83-88], the hippopotamus[89-91], and - lastly - the sleeping koala bear[92-93].
my nephew seemed to have enjoyed the trip to the zoo, although he got an animal overflow soon, and so after a while ice-cream and playgrounds got more attention than all the animals - comprehensible with the huge amount of animals in the zoo. what a nice family excursion to the zoo, we really enjoyed that.

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Sat, 09 May 2015
a visit to the botanical garden and zoo hirschstetten (0 comments)
we tried out a new zoo - isn't that amazing? this time it is not zoo schoenbrunn as usual, but this time it is the lovely botanic garden in hirschstetten, that also houses a little zoo in its huge grounds. first surprise was that the admission was free. inside there are several theme gardens like the mexican garden (where a birthday party in a pavilion was going on), the wedding garden (where a wedding in a pavilion was going on), the indian and chinese garden (where... nothing special was going on, but they both had a pavilion too), and much, much more, like a palm house and a huge maze[071-073].
but we concentrated on the zoo part first. we spotted loads of turtles[001-005,060-061], some storks[062-063], a lonely ural owl[068], two apiaries[065-067], a pair of colourful lady amherst's pheasants[075-076], and cute little ducklings[077-085].
and as beautiful, impressive and amazing this all was, it was not the reason we came here - no, no. in the newspaper we read about wildcat cubs that should be in the zoo. so we thought it is time to - enormously - raise the cat content on the internet. at our first stop[006-059] we almost only spotted the mother; the cubs kept in the background, where they were hard to spot, and even harder to capture. but we got there just right at feeding time, so the mother dragged all the dead rats back to her little ones. unfortunately they kept on staying in the back of the enclosure and disappeared entirely, while feeding. so we decided to come back later, in the hope that they will be awake then.
and we were lucky; nearly two hours later we returned and found the entire family out, near the fence. although the tomcat was always chased off by the mother (we got the impression she was on heat again, and thus driving the poor tomcat crazy), the kitties played happily with the mother and each other. chasing and biting mother's tail seemed to be the preferred leisure time activity of the cubs.
for a very long time all four cubs were happily running around and playing, like kitties are supposed to be. they also were remarkable climbers, considering they all were only two months old. climbing the little bushes, the trunks, and the wooden suspension bridges they had in their enclosure was no problem to them at all - very impressive.
the botanical garden and zoo hirschstetten is really a wonderful place, with great plants and animals, but currently most of all a place with four kittens full of of cuteness overload. definitely a place to go to. we will return here again as - of course - we want to see how the kittens grow up, but also because we missed to see the palm house and other areas of the garden this time. so i am pretty sure there will be more to come from hirschstetten soon...

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Sun, 26 Apr 2015
a trip to bratislava (0 comments)
my dad came for a visit this weekend, and he said he would like to go to bratislava; and gladly we joined him. the trip to the capital city of slovakia on the "twin city liner", a jet-propelled catamaran that can go up to 60km/h downstream (and approximately 50km/h upstream), took us about one and a half hours. on our journey down the danube we saw loads of fisher lodges along the banks, and loads of gnawed-on tree trunks, but unfortunately we did not spot a single beaver. instead we saw devin castle[09-11]. my dad spent some years of his childhood in bratislava, so he was especially interested in things that have changed, and the things that still remained the same since his last visit. we chose the common tourist tour, starting at the bratislava old town[14-97], over hviezdoslav square[16-21] to the must-see sight cumil[24,26], the worker sticking out of a manhole.
we entered the holy saviour church[30] and then went up st. michael's street[33-42] to get to st. michael's tower[40,42-50], which also houses a museum. we actually got free entry tickets, as it was "bratislava day" (which i overheard later, when some other tourists were talking in front of another museum). so we walked up the stairs in this narrow tower and enjoyed the view over the city. by now the streets were more crowded than they were in the morning. when we walked out the exit of the tower, there was already a queue waiting to enter the tower. next stop was at the church of st. stephen the king[53-54], from where we started our ascent to the castle.
soon we had reached bratislava castle[59-80], a big castle over-looking the city below. we spotted the ufo bridge[64] and the danube. inside the castle there is also the slovak national museum[67-74], but we did not enter. instead we walked the gardens of the castle and slowly returned to the city again.
my groin had hurt all day long (which it does sometimes), but by now it got really bad, so i had to take a break and sit down. thus we had a cup of hot chocolate for nina, and coffee for my dad and me at a "schokocafe" on main square. resting a bit was good and helped. we went back to the mooring to board the ship.
in the morning when we arrived at bratislava we bought the tickets for our trip back to vienna. the guy selling the tickets told us that the ship was fully booked, but he could give us a special discount on the captain's cabin. as it was only a few euro more than the other ticket and we did not want to go back by train, we agreed and bought them. turned out the captain's cabin[106-117] is really right behind the captain, and was a small cabin with a small table and benches around it. and the best thing is, we had it to our own. just how awesome is that?
the ride back took a little longer, as we had to sail upstream, and the closer we got to our destination the more clouds[114-117] were in the sky, and soon dark clouds were all over us; but it did not start to rain - we were really lucky with the weather today (and with the fact that it was "bratislava day"). what a nice trip to bratislava with nina and my dad. thanks to them for the lovely day - i really enjoyed it.

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Tue, 14 Apr 2015
mono (0 comments)
^C: mono (helen money), arena recoil, ignite unseen harbor kanata pure as snow halcyon where we begin ashes in the snow everlasting light

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Sun, 12 Apr 2015
bLog application pimping (0 comments)
in the last few days i did some changes to the bLog script i am using, namely "blosxom". i added categories and tags, found a plugin for a nice tag cloud (indicating the importance of the tag not by font size, but rather by colour), and i also found my old comment plugin again, so comments are enabled now again (not that anyone would ever use it, but why not - for the fun of it). additionally i wrote my first plugin allowing me to change the number of entries per "flavour" (that is what blosxom calls different output formats via templates for each format), which was necessary to show a list of all entries in a category. so you get the first line of each bLog entry and a link to the full article. i hope you enjoy the new features (which you might notice only if you surf the bLog directly via a browser and not via an aggregator, or other blog reading application). i wonder who still does that nowadays...

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Sun, 22 Mar 2015
games, part 2 (0 comments)
a lovely and incredibly wonderful game is "shelter 2" (completed in 3 hours), in which one plays a mother lynx that raises her four cubs. the cubs are soooooo cute, and when you call them, they make those lovely sounds that little baby lynx do - aaaaw, i was melting away. one time one of my cub was caught by wolves, but i was fast enough to reload the last checkpoint so in the end the cub survived - i would not call this cheating, as it was about saving the cubs - the end justifies the means, right? actually loosing one of my cubs would have killed me. there is so much cuteness overload in this game, i really loved it. and the best thing is, once your cubs are grown up and going their own ways, after you have taught them how to hunt and escape wolves, you get to procreate with a handsome male lynx, and the circle of lynx life begins again, which means more cute little lynx cubs - aaaaaaaaaaaaaaw. it uses the unity engine. "alan wake" (completed in 19 hours) has a great story, and a nice idea adding flash lights and flares to the weapons inventory. nice twists and uncertainty of what is real and not in the plot, add more spookiness to the game. definitely fun playing it. it uses its own engine, called the alan wake engine. daedalic's "journey of a roach" (completed in 3 hours) looked entertaining and fun, so i bought it when all daedalic games were off up to 75% or more on steam. the point and click style story of two roaches is fun and the puzzles not too complex or difficult. the creatures one encounters are also cute and fun. all in all a lovely game, as almost all daedalic games are. it uses a custom built engine. a game i started recently to play is "lyne" (still ongoing), which is a simple puzzle game where one has to connect shapes. sounds simple, but sometimes it gets pretty challenging. i play a few levels from time to time, when i have a few minutes left to spare. recently i found out there is a mobile version (for android and iphone) available too. it uses the unity engine (at least the desktop version, i do not know about the mobile games). just like the previous game, "micron" (completed in 5 hours) is a puzzle game, but focusing on sounds. when playing a level you get wonderful and hypnotising repetitive sounds made of samples activated by the elements in the game, so sometimes i did not want to finish the level, though i would have known how to. real fun, and definitely great to listen to. it uses the unity engine. last game worth to mention is "rexaura" (completed in 6 hours), a sequel to "portal" and "portal 2". the complexity of the puzzles is very challenging, i had to look up the solution quite often on the internet as i was stuck several times. but, the good thing about the game is that it is free to play (if you own the original "portal" game that is), and it is a community-made mod. if you liked the original games and thought the puzzles were too easy, than this will be the game of your choice. but i warned you - it is very difficult sometimes. it uses the source engine. so, maybe you got some inspiration on how to kill your spare time next time you have some. for me, there are more games waiting in the game queue to be played. if only i had more time and winter would have lasted a little longer...

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Sun, 15 Mar 2015
games, part 1 (0 comments)
lately (read: since december 2014), on cold winter evenings, i found the time to play some computer games again after a long time. so here is a list of the games i played and enjoyed that much, that i would like to recommend them to you. almost all games were special deals on steam, so they all were available for a good price. there will be a second bLog post about more games. the game i enjoyed most is called "tri: of friendship and madness" (completed in 42 hours). with the "tri", an old artifact, one can create triangles to walk on areas including the ceilings and walls, so there are basically no boundaries to the lovely given world of a level. additionally it has foxes in it, a pretty mysterious monk that doubles as a guide and quest giver, a strangely addictive soundtrack, and of course a lovely story of friendship and madness, involving two foxes. i have to mention that this is the first game i got all steam achievements for, and i collected all available idols, because i was so tantalized by it. that is why it took me 42 hours to complete really every- thing in this game. it uses the unity engine. actually to recommend this very game to you was my main reason to write this bLog entry. but since i had played other games in the meantime too, i thought why not include a few words about them here too. another very enjoyable game was "bioshock infinite", including the "burial at sea" DLCs part 1 and 2 (completed in 27 hours). after having played "bioshock" and "bioshock 2" it was only a matter of time for me to finish the trilogy. the story itself was a bit mindfucking to me sometimes (at least in this timeline), but a really nice prequel/sequel/parallel-universel to the other "bioshock" parts. also the story of the big daddies and little sisters is explained. it uses the unreal3 engine. speaking of trilogies, "mass effect 3" (completed in 46 hours) was also on the list. though it had the touch of the "mass effect" universe, it was not as fascinating to play as the first two parts - but why, i cannot really put my finger on. also i did not survive, but saved the universe - at least a good way for my virtual death. my romanceable character of choice was samantha traynor (since jack is only available to a male main character). it uses the unreal3 engine. "dead island riptide" (completed in 49 hours), the sequel to "dead island" was as if playing the first part. nothing special here but a few new weapon mods, which i really enjoyed. the usual fun slaying zombies all over the islands - canned food was all they had there. all in all a fine second part, which i liked and had fun with. it uses the chrome engine. a game definitely worth to mention and play is "brothers - a tale of two sons" (completed in 4 hours), because it has beautiful levels so full of details and atmosphere. especially the landscapes are stunning. the story itself is rather sad, but also touching and wonderful at the same time. another rather unusual thing is the fact that one has to control both brothers at the same time - good for both sides of the brain. it uses the unreal3 engine. a very simple - in terms of graphics and goals - game is "140" (completed in 4 hours), basically a jump'n'run like game focusing on rhythm and sound. the further you get, the more elaborated the sound gets. obstacles and platforms appear and disappear to the rhythm of the level. so simple, and yet so awesome. graphics are reduced to simple geometric forms and a few colours. total recommendation. it uses the unity engine. a game that left me with mixed feelings was "a story about my uncle" (completed in 7 hours). on the one hand the graphics were wonderful and stunning, the story lovely and intriguing, and the grappling-hook-like gauntlet one gets to move across the levels is awesome. on the other hand the handling and control was clumsy, inaccurate and hard, and sometimes i had no idea where to go to get on in the level. level design could add a few more hints, and check points. especially the latter makes it quite frustrating from time to time. too sad, as flying around with the grappling hook was really fun. it uses the unreal3 engine.

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Mon, 16 Feb 2015
R.I.P. Candy (0 comments)
Candy (13 april 2013 - 16 february 2015)
i will miss you - very much :_(

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Sun, 08 Feb 2015
another zoo: aqua terra zoo (0 comments)
today we tried out the aqua terra zoo, as we both have not been visiting this zoo for over several years. the last time i was here, was eight years ago; nina has not been here for even longer. it was a sunday, the weather was not too good, and the minute we walked through the entrance door, we knew this would be a day in the crowd. what we did not remember, was how small and narrow the corridors and passageways were, which made the crowd even more crowded. and so, after we made it past the cash desk and into the top floor, we decided to take a break from all the people and went to the rooftop cafe[01], enjoyed a coffee and the amazing view. better prepared at what will await us, we finally made the descent through the hoards of people. and we were rewarded with wonderfully colourful fish[02-09], and other, not so colourful fish[11-14].
in a huge tank they also had sharks[10,31,37-40,45] and some big rays[15-16], that look like they are smiling when you see their underside. unfortunately no picture i made of that turned out to be in focus.
beautiful and a tiny bit of disconcerting are the nautilus[30], and the jellyfish[82-85]. same applies for the starfish[86-87], the sea cucumber[88], and the sea anemones[89-90], although the latter two we already had touched in canada in the aquarium in ucluelet; so they were not so strange to us anymore.
more familiar were all the reptiles they had there, like the tiny chameleon[17-18], the gila monster[21-22], geckos[23-29], and iguanas[51-54].
in the "tropic house" section of the building there are loads of birds, like the superb starling[63-66,74], the java sparrow[55-56], the violet starling[67], and the impressive yellow-beaked hornbill[57-62].
very, very cute were the cuddling flying foxes[72-73] - too bad i could not get closer to them, as they were hanging way out of reach of the visitors. less shy were the lovely little common marmosets[68-71] and cotton-top tamarins[77-81]. they even came so close, that some visitor could even feed them.
spread all over the floors were even more reptiles[94-100] and snakes[92-93]. the reptiles look pretty dehydrated, as if their skin is way too big for the rest of the body. but i guess it is ok this way. again and yet again, i am fascinated by snake-skin.
so, the aqua terra zoo is pretty amazing, but way too crowded on weekends. thus, the next time we will go there will be during the week, in the hope that there will be less people. nonetheless, it is highly recommendable to go there, as it is really interesting and fun to see the animals there (especially the flying foxes).

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Sun, 25 Jan 2015
and again... another visit to the zoo at schoenbrunn (0 comments)
this morning we woke up and it was white outside. snow fall during the night made it a snow covered place. so we decided to see how all the animals at the zoo would like the snow (or not). the first animal we paid a visit was the cute koala bear[001]. he could not care less about snow, as first of all he was sleeping, and second of all, his enclosure is indoor only. but it is nice to see there is a new male koala, after the former one had died just recently. now the koala girl ain't so lonely anymore, although they are in separate enclosures. next were the pandas[002], and they really had fun in the snow. the cub was playing with mama bear in the snow; that was really fun to watch. a little more active than usual were the red pandas[003-004,006-008]. we have now seen quite a few red pandas in other zoos (and the big zoo of internet), and actually all of them are way more active than those two ones in schoenbrunn. too bad, since they are so cute when they run around. the tigers[009-040] were not really that much impressed by the snow, it seemed. yet they enjoyed being outside. also, pretty not cat-like, they lay down in the snow.
the cheetah[041-058] families preferred to stay inside, so we left them there cuddling, and warming up, and headed over to the next big cats.
the leopards[059-079] were also pretty lazy and preferred to stay inside, where it was warm and dry. so we went back to the cheetahs[080-097], which now were outside, and specially the cubs seemed to enjoy the snow. besides they found a tree to climb on and thus get pretty close to the fence. they liked being up there, and climbing down was a bit of a test of courage for the three of them. and eventually, more or less elegant, they all made it down[091] again in safety.
the wolves[098-106] did not really behave different with all the snow around. most of them were lying at the point farthest away from the fence and the people, only a few were walking around.
surprisingly we spotted both lynx[107-121] - very lucky us. one of them was in their shed, and did not look too happy about the wet, cold weather - well, at least this cat is a cat after all. the other one, doing a round in the enclosure also did not really enjoy getting wet paws. aaaaw, soooo cute.
the spectacled bears[122-133] had a fight going on. about what, we could not say. most likely they were playing or teasing. yet it was quite impressive to see the bears at full height standing on their hind legs.
the monkeys[135-140,143-146] did not look too happy at all about the snow. all of them were huddled up, not moving and trying to get out of the cold wind and stay dry, as it had started to drizzle. pretty unimpressed about any weather phenomena were the pelicans[147-148], and a crow[149-151], sitting on a pole in the middle of the monkey enclosure. both of them did not mind the snow at all it seemed. well, the crow is more than used to that i guess. on our way out we stopped by the cheetahs[152-164] once more, where they all sat outside and watched their territory. so, summary: most animals do not like snow too much, some do not care, and only a very few ones are having fun. pretty much like with people, i guess.

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