Monday, May 31, 2010

public transport in Berlin

Here are a few hints, I looked up today, and that may be valid for a couple of weeks or months.
No warranties at all!!!
In case of doubt or for further information, pls refer to the BVG Tickets+Fares home page: / Tickets+Fares !
  • There are 3 "tariff zones" in Berlin. For simplicity assume, you will always only be traveling within zones A and B aka "A+B" aka "AB".
  • Single trip tickets "A+B" cost EUR 2.10. 4-trip tickets (or any kind of "n-trip tickets") are not cheaper than single trip tickets, but you have less hastle with 4-trip tickets.
  • Single trip tickets are valid for 2 hours, they are strictly "one direction only", at least certainly no loops involved.
  • A "day pass Berlin AB" costs EUR 6.10, obviously it's worth going for a day pass, if you think, you would need at least 3 tickets per day.
  • There is a "Berlin WelcomeCard (5 days)" (basically a 5-days-ticket to "Berlin AB" plus a few vouchers, whose usefullness I cannot assign a proper value to so far) for EUR 29.90. (There exist a few variations of that as well ..., have a look here, if you want so!)
  • A simple regular 7-days-pass costs EUR 26.20. (I rather recommend that one, if you don't stay longer than 5 days.)
  • I also recommend you get tickets at a vending machine or at "info points" like at Tegel Airport, not on the bus.
  • Ticket machines usually accept cash and  Maestro cards, no credit cards at all.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Facebook forced me into a dialog

Today Facebook forced me into a dialog named "Confirm the Pages that will be on your Profile", and that was rather impressive: they showed me lots of pictures standing for pages, that they think, I would like. I liked to get out of that, but they said, that would leave my profile empty. That's rather violent, I think.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

creating diary entries from procmail LOGFILE entries

Incoming e-mail messages may be worth getting recorded in a diary, of course most of them are not, do you agree?
Quite some times I manually create diary entries from my procmail LOGFILE.
I should have written a script to do that a long time ago. Now I did. That effort was really, really little, but I like the results.

Update / 2010-07-23:
I used to copy the entries from that log to my diary, and then a little later I usually wonder, which ones got already processed and completed. So what was missing, was just a little aid, but it looked difficult so solve for a while.
Today I introduced something new and the entry now looks like this:
23 Jul 2010
        09:56:49 [_] From:;
That's wicked cooled, isn't it? Yes, I know.

ruby and here-documents

Ruby has such a feature, and of course it's pretty, pretty useful. I found an article on here-documents in several programming languages at the English wikipedia.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

a call monitor for the FRITZ!Box, using a gmail address book and an area code directory

The FRITZ!Box family of routers also provide telephony services, actually all my phones go through my 7390. They are built using Linux and Busybox. On its TCP/IP port 1012 it offers event records on all telephony actions. Last Christmas I implemented a ruby script dealing with these event records and the "call threads". Yes, there is even a notion of "call threads". At that time I already decided I wanted to use my gmail address book as the data base for looking up all telephone numbers. Now I completed this task. There is a directory of area codes for Germany ("ONB"). I also make use of that one now: For every caller, whose telephone number is not listed in my gmail address book, I show at least from which area he called. I am rather glad with this software.
Initially I also wanted to make this ruby script an OS X cocoa ruby script with a colorful GUI, maybe to run on my iPhone. I'm not sure, whether I will ever be able to work on this.

Update 2010-07-02:
Having my script running now stably for quite a while, it was time for a new feature – somehow.
I have been using procmail for splitting my incoming e-mail for like 13 years or so now.
The procmail rules obviously derive from the addresses I am expecting e-mail messages from.
In former times I had a plug-in for emacs's BBDB, that created raw procmail rules from my emacs address book.
Now with my new approach it makes sense to generate procmail rules from the gmail address book.
Tonight I was in the mood for an little programming excercise, and I implented this feature rather spontaneously. I like it very much.
Right …, generating procmail rules isn't really a proper task for a call monitor, I do know that.

Update 2011-03-28:
This software now makes use of an XML Gmail address book. If you want to find out more on this issue, filter this blog using the tags shown below!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

no more worries with winmail.dat

How often did I receive e-mail with a single weird winmail.dat attached, actually incorporating quite a few more real attachments ...

How often did this drive me nuts ...

During the last few years I was in the lucky position, that my webmail software actually supported me there by showing me the contents and allowing me to download the elements of that winmail.dat one by one -- yes, one by one.
I am getting my payroll files delivered each month like this. Sometimes I forget, that I can not (resp. could not) unpack the thing locally, so I have to send it back to my webmail site.

Today I found tnef by Mark Simpson. A big thank you to him!
Nowadays it's actually part of the openSUSE main repository, and this is, where I installed it from.

Update 2012-02-19:
It's not working on the winmail.dat file I received today. How bad!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

using "buildroot" for re-building a FRITZ!Box Linux kernel and system

I got the silly idea of  mounting a traditional Linux ext2/ext3/ext4 partition on my current FRITZ!Box 7390. I got pointed to buildroot, some nice software, that tries to ease to job of building the compilation toolchain, the libc, the busybox and all that for embedded Linux devices.

Found an article on ... describing exactly my current problem, and tried to explain in this response the software maintainer, how serious the case is. I hope, I find mercy in his eyes ... -- and some support.

Update / 2010-05-18:
Well the current flagship FRITZ!Box, the 7390, is already capable of mounting ext2/ext3 partition all by itself, so no need for building software for exactly this reason. I guess I will find a few more, so I will try again to build cross compilers etc. sooner or later.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010 and JasperReports

When I drew my current account statement today, I was curious and applied the "pdfinfo" command on it. I was quite astonished, when it said this:
Creator: JasperReports (kontoauszug)
Producer: iText 1.4 (by
I went back to their first PDF statements in 2006, and they said just the same.
Of course I would like to get in touch with them and find out, whether the knowledge, that I acquired recently in that area, could be of any use.
Yes, of course, there is no obvious current need for them to change anything regarding these account statements, but ...
Postbank has alway only been providing non-business customers with PDF account statements.
And they have been promising for years now, they wouldn't keep neglecting business customers forever ;-)
I guess that has to do with extended legal needs, e.g. signed PDF and so forth.

Right, I shouldn't forget mentioning this:
During the last couple of months I extended demo/samples/text/ so that I can call all the necessary steps (JRXML->.jasper, filling into a .jrprint file, creating e.g. PDF) within a single call to this utility. You can now also pass JRXML parameters to this utility.
So using that simple utility you can create PDF reports in a batch run, starting from a JRXML or ".jasper" file and a database connection without any big software around -- just the JARs, that this utility needs.