Dear London, a few questions

The Round House, London
Why is the Round House not actually round?
The Spaghetti House
Why is the Spaghetti House not thin as a spaghetti?
Taking a nap is actually not that comfortable on these benches…

Some more questions:

  • Why does it seem like Little Italy is right next to Chinatown?
  • Why are pedestrian green cycles so short that a good walker barely makes it across alive?
  • Why does the tube enforce digital detox? My phone does not detect a single phone carrier underground.
  • Why do people stand on the right hand side on escalators and overtake on the left hand side in a left-driving country?
  • Are grey-brownish squirrels tasteful? St. James’es Park has plenty of them!
Cars seem a little weird in the UK…

So many questions, clearly I will have to come back for answers… ­čÖé

When it rains, it pours

I am in London this week, to visit my old colleague Stefan Haefliger. It is good seeing him (and his sweet little daughter Emmett). I like to walk around a lot in cities that I do not know well, so I walked from office at Cass Business School back to my hotel.

No, that is NOT the university where I am a guest researcher…

And then it rained! The Dailymail titled it “Commuter chaos across southern England as four major London stations are closed due to flooding when torrential thunderstorms dump a MONTH’S rain on the capital in hours” (and has impressive pictures of flooded stations)

That large spike yesterday is when I was out there! (img:ÔôĺBen Lee-Rodgers)

The nicest weather data I could find was from (thanks, Mr. Lee-Rodgers) which recorded a rain rate of 60 mm/h (16:31) and a daily amount of rain of 24.2 mm just on Sep 24th. There is an average monthly rainfall of 34.6 mm, so it was not quite a month’s of rain in a day, but close enough for me to get soaked.

All photos except the weather chart are (c) by me and under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.


Am Wochenende haben wir endlich unsere selbstgebaute Rakete ausprobiert. Modell Ariel vom Raketenmodellbaushop Klima, die wir uns als Bausatz bestellt hatten. Der Zusammenbau geht gut von der Hand, mit ein bisschen Kleber und zwei Kindern als Helfer geht das problemlos.

Modellbaurakete mit Startrampe
Rakete Ariel vor ihrem ersten Start ┬ęSpaeth CC-BY-SA 4.0
Startrampe nach dem ersten Start ┬ęSpaeth CC-BY-SA 4.0

Getestet haben wir mit einer batteriebetriebenen Elektroz├╝ndung und dem kleinsten verf├╝gbaren Motor (Typ A6-4).
10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, 0!

…Zisch, und ab ging es, ca. 45 Meter hoch. Dann am Fallschirm sch├Ân wieder nach unten. Ein voller Erfolg! Und eine gute Gelegenheit um einmal unsere Walkie-talkies einzusetzen, damit der Startpyromane mit der Recovery-Crew sprechen kann, die die Rakete auf dem Feld wiederholen musste.

Danach wurden wir etwas ├╝berm├╝tig und haben den starken Motor eingebaut. Start! und ab gings. So hoch, dass wir die Rakete erst nicht mehr sehen konnten! Dann sah man den roten Fallschirm eine Weile HOCH oben in der Luft pendeln. Und dann… muss eine Windb├Âje aufgekommen sein, jedenfalls war der rote Fleck am Himmel weg und tauchte nie wieder auf. Vielleicht steckt Ariel jetzt auch auf der Sonnenoberfl├Ąche :-).

Spa├č gemacht haben unsere zwei Starts jedenfalls und wir werden sicherlich wieder eine Ariel z├╝nden, sobald wir eine neue haben…

New Thunderbird plugins

The new world has arrived for Thunderbird 60, and many old plugins of mine stopped working. Here are the substitutes I found useful.

  1. I had been using “Nostalgy” to quickly file away messages from my INBOX into arbitrary folders. Unfortunately, Nostalgy has not survived the switch, so I use a combination of: Quick Folder move which enables the same functionality but uses SHIFT-M as hotkey and Dorando Keyconfig to keep using the old “S” from nostalgy for filing away things.
  2. I had been using the EWS Exchange plugin to connect to my employer’s Exchange server. And I use Cardbook to connect to my carddav/caldav server. Unfortunately, this has not seen an update for quite some time. I could test with the fork from here , however, I am now using a combination of TBsync which connects to both Exchange and Caldav/carddav servers, using this plugin. TBsync nicely works with CategoryManager. The one drawback of TBsync is that it does not synchronize shared calenders from EWS, apparently.

Home Assistent Pitfalls

I have been playing with Home Assistent. Yes, our home should be smart too :-). But I am not giving up my privacy, so only a local solution was considered! Here are a few pitfalls that I experienced when configuring Home Assistant, I hope they are useful to you too.

FritzBox device tracker:

I have a FritzBox from AVM, so I installed the “platform: fritz” module to track devices in our WLAN. However, that led to mysterious “Failed to establish connection to FRITZ!Box with IP:” errors. Debugging the underlying package “fritzconnection”, it turns out that you need to turn on “Zugriff f├╝r Anwendungen zulassen” AND “Statusinformationen ├╝ber UPnP ├╝bertragen” in your Homenetwork->Network Settings, to make it work. This will turn on TR-64 and the transmission of the necessary status information. Error handling of this package could be a tad better….

FritzBox DECT switch (Fritz DECT 210):

the “platform: fritzdect” module is supposed to handle The Fritz DECT 210 remote switch. However, I still haven’t gotten it to work. I receive error messages in the form:

 File "/usr/local/lib/python3.6/dist-packages/homeassistant/components/switch/f", line 157, in update
 self.state = actor.get_state()
 File "/home/hassio/.homeassistant/deps/lib/python3.6/site-packages/fritzhome/a", line 56, in get_state
 int("getswitchstate", self.actor_id))
ValueError: invalid literal for int() with base 10: 'inval'

Notifications via XMPP/Jabber:

I have managed to receive notification messages via XMPP when certain things happen. Now I need to come up with smart rules, to make things smart….



Oliver hat einen Elektrobaukasten zu Weihnachten bekommen. Nach den ersten Ampeln haben wir uns bald auf den Modellschiffsbau verlegt.



Und haben aus einer Fischkonserve ein elektrisches Fischerboot gebaut. Hat Spa├č gemacht.

CIFS mount on Linux

If you start running into mysterious CIFS mount errors on a recent Debian (“mount error(95): Operation not supported“) or autofs stops working (“mount(generic): failed to mount // (type cifs) on /home/YYY”),

try to add “vers=2.0” (or vers=1.0) to your mount options. Recent kernels default to samba version 3, which apparently is not supported by many boxes (including my Synology)