Vive la France!

If you are near the Karlsruhe area in southern Germany, it is worth visiting the excellent Restaurant “Au Vieux Moulin” in Lauterbourg, France.

Reservation (via the Website) is a must. Do not attempt to go there without planning.

Do yourself a favour and also stop by at Carrefour in Scheibenhard (which is close by) and grab a basket full of French cheese. This is an entirely different league compared to what we have on this side of the border.

Deutsches Museum in Munich

Deutsches Museum used to be the epitome of where I wanted to go as a technically interested kid.

After having seen the lovely Museum of Computer History in the Valley or even private collections, the “Deutsches Museum” looks a bit sad and run down in comparison. I was the only (!) visitor roaming the computer department.

There is an interesting Ham Radio station at the fourth floor that is worth taking a look at.

If you are into vintage computing, there is an outstanding video channel to recommend:

Planespotting

I recently stopped by at the “other” planespotting location in Frankfurt (EDDF) and found this beauty of a plane:

As someone who has studied in Berlin, I deeply appreciate the effort that was put into keeping Berlin a free city. The above plane was part of the US Airlift operation that circumvented the Soviet blockade. In fact, it might be the same plane that is shown in this picture:

Lets never forget the American soldiers that gave their lives during this mission.

Here is the location, in case you want to visit:

Expedition into the past

Once in a while and when the situation permits, I stop by at interesting locations that I have read of during my genealogy research. Some of my family originated from a place called “Kranenburg”, near the Dutch border.

In fact, some of my ancestors got married in this church:

Not exactly the location for Harry and Meghans wedding but then again, not shabby. Most of this region looks a little run down but the church is nice.

Great Museum in Koblenz

We recently discovered this highly interesting museum in Koblenz. Very well maintained, affordable and interesting. I can absolutely recommend a visit.

Be sure to bring Identification with you..

Oh yes, and I decided what I want as my next car:

2018 Ham Radio Shows

It’s Friedrichshafen time again!

Sadly, the show is getting smaller and smaller every year. Not a single interesting lecture on the first day of the show.

If you are looking into some great alternatives, try these:

  1. Rosmalen http://radiovlooienmarkt.nl/
    Great show, huge market, friendly people. One of my favourite shows.
  2. Weinheim http://ukw-tagung.org/
    Good lectures. Every year I am looking forward to seeing Pieter de Boer http://wwwhome.ewi.utwente.nl/~ptdeboer/

The magnificent world of Chess

We watched the amazing “Pawn Sacrifice” yesterday which deals with the life of chess legend Bobby Fischer, thought by many to be one of the most powerful players in the world. After his legendary win against Boris Spassky, Fischer drifted off into a strange world of his own.

Ther are several documentaries on Youtube about the man, one of the more interesting ones being “Bobby Fischer against the World”.

Eric Bailey, Juneau, Alaska

This is a little corner of the internet to remember my friend Eric, one of the finest people that I had the honor to know.

Some years ago I published a piece of technical software for the Mac to display the current status of solar activity, an information that is needed by shortwave amateurs around the world to predict signal propagation. I was contacted by one of the users of that software with an inquiry as to add another specific spectrum filter so I added the same and sent him a custom version.

It turns out that Gentleman was a ham radio enthusiast in Juneau, Alaska, Mr. Eric Bailey, call sign WL7CMT. Out of his interest for the software, ham radio in general and his never ending desire to learn, we started a conversation about technical topics which soon developed into a very active and frequent dialogue just about every subject under the sun. Soon we shared insights on culture, history, personal relations via eMail across a distance of several thousands of miles.

What began as casual dialog on radio technology developed into one of the most intense intellectual exchanges. Over the course of weeks, months and years we exchanged eMails of several pages of size on a daily basis. We both came from very different cultural backgrounds, one being a liberal American, living in an isolated but intensely beautiful landscape, the other having just returned from years of living abroad, mostly in Asia. One being an American with his heart close to Europe, the other being a European with an intense past in America, occasionally feeling more like an American than European.

Over many years I witnessed Eric to be a kind and intelligent man with plenty of interests. He had traveled and met Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, the Swiss born psychiatrist that researched the psychology of death. Eric was able to give a precise account of his experiences there. The next day we discussed the electrical properties of high impedance matched endfed halfwave antennas and their properties near salt water. Then, I was told about the economics of delivering frozen turkeys on thanksgiving. Then, we discussed the potential for using microfiltration to separate gold dust from an abrasion agent.

Eric was a man that believed in what he did. His day job was to work in an organic food store in Juneau. In his past time he went digging for gold in a gold field, moved apartments or helped renovate a house.
I learned that living in Alaska is not easy, let alone cheap so Erics life was often marked by the struggle of making ends meet. Still I never heard him complain or speak badly about anyone. His wife left him long time ago as he was often gone for extended periods of time for work. I recall speaking to him on thanksgiving where I offerend him to skype as I know that Thanksgiving alone can be quite lonely in the US.

On the 11th of March 2015 Eric wrote me an eMail, his last words were:

“Still winter here. Inch or so of snow last night and the past few days. still cold, inside and outside the apt.

Hope you’re happy, friend, and having some fun.”

As I could not get hold of him after that, I contacted his employer and was told that Eric had passed away after a brief battle with cancer and a staph infection.

Farewell, Eric, you were a fine and honorable man. I miss you.

Analog Computing

I recently had the pleasure to visit Prof. Dr. Bernd Ulmann, leading Guru of Analog computing, an avid collector of aged computing devices and electronics paraphernalia. I had an older HP Spectrum analyser which  I wanted to donate and I was invited to see the beautiful collection of analog computers.

Unlike the recent devices that all of us use, an analog computer does not execute algorithms in a step-by step fashion but uses precise analog circuits that are wired to solve the problem in question. Interestingly, for many kinds of problems this approach is more suitable than digital, sequential processing. Calculations happen in real time by definition and parameters can be varied by the turn of a potentiometer, lending a tactile element to IT. One area of interest is the simulation of dynamic processes such as the control of a self propelled projectile or the suspension of a car. In fact, the A4 rocket was controlled by an analog computer called the “Mischgerät”.

Pictured below is a RA770 computer by Telefunken

There are some youtube videos detailing the systems operation:

Bernd also owns plenty of more recent digital computers, such as the lovely HP9820 (aka Model 20) on which I learned programming.

In case you are interested in these areas, check out his websites at:

www.vaxman.de (more on the digital side of things)

and

www.analogmuseum.org (the analog systems)

I can definitely confirm, the man has the knack! It’s time to get him into ham radio.