* insurance against airlines going bankrupt

Posted on September 19th, 2013 by Alex. Filed under Experiences with Companies.


Recently I wanted to book a flight at one of the webpages which are suppose to compare the travel fare of many different airlines and spit out a list with the cheapest, fastest (or whatever your preferences are) connection. The companies behind these webpages earn provisions and if the customer selects additional conveniences such as taxis, hotels, etc.

One of the companies seemed to have figured that it is best to scare customers and offers an insurance to be protected in case the airline goes into bankruptcy.

Insurance against airlines going bankrupt

Insurance against airlines going bankrupt

Well, I would like to suggest a few more “insurances”:

  • Midair plane failure (i.e. plane falls down like a stone in mid flight)
  • For US bound flights, I am pretty sure we can find something to be insured in case the plane is kidnapped and flown into a building.
  • Insurance in case the life vest does not inflate.
  • Insurance against garlic and/or onion like smelling co-passengers.
  • Insurance against brain damage due to the constant offering and advertisement of expensive refreshers in low cost airlines.
  • Insurance against meteor showers.
  • And many more…

Ideally all these insurances are enabled by default and a customer has to go through the whole list removing the ticks manually.

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* a scammer on craigslist

Posted on July 22nd, 2013 by Alex. Filed under Experiences with Companies.


Recently I sold my cycle online and I put it on several online classifieds such as craigslist. Ronald Olsen contacted me, asking details about the cycle and seemed to be very interested in buying it. During the conversation his German went from bad to worse and at one point in time I wrote that he could write in English, if that is easier. His reply was:

Thank you for your reply,i dont know you did not really understand German.. lol

Surprisingly German is my mother tongue and I can understand it quite well. After some time, he continued telling me that he is working for a company called AWE New Zealand Pty Ltd and that he is currently offshore Taranaki Basin in New Zealand on Kapo project. He was ready to send me a cheque in the overnight express mail so that I can ship the cycle to his son who is currently studying business and law at the University of Bremen and is at the top of his class. As a suprise Mr. Olson wanted to gift the cycle to his son.

Everything made me suspicious and I searched the Internet for similar mails. Well, surprisingly there is a Ms. Sandra Crisell working for the same project and the same company who wanted to buy a car for her son studying at the Australia National University (ANU) obviously on top if his class. Unfortunately for Mr. Crisell her letter was published on the web site of the Department of Internal Affairs of New Zealand.

Apparently the scam would work like this:

  1. Interested in the car/cycle/etc.
  2. No additional work for the seller, since the buyer is taking care of shipment, customs, etc.
  3. Suddently problems with the shipping company is reported stating that the shipping will only come and pick up the item, if they are paid upfront. The company needs to be paid via Western Union. So the buyer asks, if it is alright, if the price for the shipping is added to the agreed selling price of the item.
  4. Buyer confirms that the amount has been transfered via PayPal.
  5. Buyer informs about the problem with PayPal stating that PayPal froze the money since the amount of transferred money differs from the agreed buying price.
  6. Buyer comes up with a solution that the money transfer for the shipping company needs to be completed, before the seller sees anything of that money.
  7. If the seller initiates the transfer to a so called agent in e.g. China, the money is gone and the seller has still the item.

I just can recommend to check out parts of the received mails in search engines and look for similarities. Also a good idea would be to check Scamdesk which tries to build an index for scammers and thieves.

Here is one of his last mails for your reference:

Thank you for your reply,i dont know you did not really understand German.. lol, am interested in buying the bike, .Please I am buying it for my son who is on top of his class in University of Bremen, and am so proud of him .I want it as a surprise package to appreciate him towards his achievement and to be delivered before my arrival. I anticipate that I’ll have a Certified Check issued out to you from my bank, I’m in no rush with you till funds are cleared in your bank which takes only a day. You do not need to bother yourself about the shipping costs. I’ll instruct a Shipping Co Agent for pick up at your door, when you must have gotten your cash at hand to come and pick the Bike for me. I worked with AWE New Zealand Pty Ltd and now we are currently offshore Taranaki Basin in New Zealand on Kapo project. Please text me back Your name as you want it written on the check, such as your physical address Address (not PO Box) City, State, Zip. I will send the payment via Overnight Express Mail Delivery, you can consider selling the item, Please delete the ad as soon as possible. I do not mind if you can send more pictures of him for the proper.
Thank you, GOD Bless.
Ronald.

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* german department of education login form

Posted on July 22nd, 2013 by Alex. Filed under Experiences with Companies.


Recently I applied for a login to the web site of the Department of Education of Germany. More precisely of North Rhine-Westphalia, a state in Germany. Below the space in which a user is asked for the password, it says:

Due to security reasons the following characters are not allowed: < > ” \ % ; ( ) & +

(link).

Account opening web site of the Department of Education of North Rhine-Westphalia as seen on 22/07/2013

Account opening web site of the Department of Education of North Rhine-Westphalia as seen on 22/07/2013

Since when is security improved, if the set out of which a user is able to select characters, is reduced? Despite the fact that the set is still very large, it is obviously fabricated fact. In reality the administrators of the web site were too lazy or not paid enough to implement another way to protect the web site from SQL injections and other nasty web site attacking mechanisms. They should have thought about another excuse.

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* 0.2 alpha – build 20130615

Posted on June 16th, 2013 by Alex. Filed under SpaceCoord 2.


SpaceCoord2LevelDisplayFinally I managed to integrate an interactive tutorial into the game. I also added the option to choose a difficulty level for the professional combat pilots out there. Try it out!

What else is new in this version?

  • added German translation
  • improved controls
  • several bug fixes

 
 

Download:

Get it on Google Play

amazon-apps-store-us-black

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* spacecoord 2 tutorial

Posted on April 22nd, 2013 by Alex. Filed under SpaceCoord 2.


Menu

SpaceCoord2 Main Menu
The first thing that greats you, is the main menu:

  • New – Start a new game. If you played a game before, but have not finished yet. The new game will overwrite the state of the old game.
  • Continue – Continue with a previous game. If you finished the previous one, this button is grayed out.
  • Upgrade – Here you can upgrade your ship with new weapons and features. However it is not yet fully tested and will be added in a release later.
  • Options – Change the volume of the music and sound effects
    • Credits – The game would not have been the one that it is now without the help of numerous people willing to share their work under a license that allows the use. If you want to know, where the graphics, fonts, music and sound effects are coming from, click here.
  • Exit – Save the current state of the game (if one is currently going on) and exit.

Game Layout

SpaceCoord2 Scene1
This image shows a scene in the game. On the left is the panel which allows you to enter another scene offering a different functionality each:

  • FTLFaster Than Light: In this scene, you can jump almost instantly to another sector in the galaxy. The farther away the sector from your current one, the more energy it costs. The energy display shows the energy that is left, after the jump was executed. Once the jump drive is engaged, it requires a huge amount of energy and cannot be interrupted. But you can leave the scene at any point in time.
  • SUB – Sublight Scene (shown in the image above). Whenever you are roaming around in the sector, you use the sublight engines. They are not as efficient as the jump drive compared to the distance, but they allow a precise navigation. Weapons can only be fired while the ship is traveling below the speed of light. With the left control, you control the ship (“MOVE”). Be aware of obstacles and planets damaging or even destroying your ship.

    With the right control you can fire your energy weapons and lasers. They require energy and as long as your reserves are filled, you can fire lasers. They are not as powerful as the torpedoes (see below). Hold the red marked button in the direction in which you want to fire. It takes a moment to charge the laser banks and to reload them.

  • SpaceCoord2 Torpedo SceneTOR – This is your torpedo room. Torpedoes are very powerful, but slow weapons. However your stock is limited, so take care in aiming by moving the red bar in the radar circle towards the direction of the enemy. The selection field allows you to select an appropriate torpedo which differ in its capabilities. However this will be implemented later.
  • SHD – Your ship is equipped with the latest shielding technology preventing any other object or energy penetrating the hull and armor. Shields require energy and can be recharge by using the ship’s resources. A light blue circle around any object shows the state an strength of the shield. If it is depleted and inflicted damage is compensated by the armor. If the armor is lost, your ship explodes and the galaxy is taken over by the evil enemies.

Status

On top of the screen are displayed the time that is left to clear the galaxy, the energy level (TIME, ENERGY on the right), the state of the shields and armor (SHD and AMR on the left). The game is won, if all hostile ships have been eliminated. Or it is lost, if your ship exploded or you ran out of time or energy.

SpaceCoord2 Little IndicatorSpace is vast. Fortunately your ship is equipped with a short range scanner localizing objects that are within the sector, but are far to see. Watch out for the little round indicators which are conveniently integrated at the boundary of the Sublight Scene (“SUB”) by your ship’s computer.

Hints

Warning, the following text may contain spoilers. To reveal it, mark the black gap below with your mouse.

Beware of planets. A crash landing on a planet destroys your ship immediately.

There are several objects that will harm you and your crew. But help is still available, but hidden in the galaxy. At space stations you can refuel your energy reserves and do some maintenance to repair your armor. However you have to park your ship not so far away from it to use the services of the space stations.

Download

Get it on Google Play

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* initial release (version: 0.1 alpha, build 20130421)

Posted on April 22nd, 2013 by Alex. Filed under SpaceCoord 2.


SpaceCoord2 Icon

Introduction

The formerly peaceful galaxy has been taken over by evil enemies. Only one ship stands still in their path and fights back. But the time and resources are running short and every action needs to be planned ahead. Can you free the worlds and bring back the peace?

Permissions:
The Internet permission is for displaying Ads only. There are no ads shown during the game play.

Remarks

I uploaded the initial release of SpaceCoord 2 to Google Play. It is a reimplementation of classic game that I used to play in my childhood. Please note that this version is an early alpha and maybe full of bugs. Hence I would appreciate, if you report any trouble or bugs. Also suggestions and feature requests are most welcome. Over the coming days/months/years, I am going to add features and squash the bugs, so stay tuned!

Credits and Licenses

The following sound files used in this game, are from Freesound.org and licensed under the CC-Attribution License:

The following sound files are royalty free and downloaded from Teknoaxe:

The following font files used in this game, are from Fontspace.com and licensed under the CC-Attribution Share Alike License:

Download

Get it on Google Play

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* remember: right sided traffic only

Posted on March 29th, 2013 by Alex. Filed under Germany.


Constant reminder that traffic goes on the right side in GermanyIn Germany the traffic usually moves on the right side of the road. It was always like this and did not change in recent times. However it seems that the people working for the road department, do not trust the common driver. Maybe they think that sometimes the driver is in the need of being reminded of the traffic moving on the right side. No efforts are are too big and the money is well spend for that purpose. Otherwise the 30 signs on a stretch of 850m constantly reminding the drivers to pass the road divider to the right only, cannot be explained. The photo shows Von-Coels-Straße in Eilendorf, Aachen, Germany (click to enlarge). The map below the stretch shown in the photo marked in blue, the car is at the position where I took the photo from.

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* libboost and read_graphviz_dp

Posted on March 20th, 2013 by Alex. Filed under CPP.


After describing, how graphs can be stored, the question arises, how can they be read? Again we use this graph as an example

Example Graph

Example Graph

which is represented in the file example.dot:

digraph G {
	1 [op=2];
	2 [op=2];
	3 [op=2];
	4 [op=2];
	5 [op=0];
	6 [op=2];
	7 [op=2];
	8 [op=0];
	9 [op=8];
	10 [op=1];
	11 [op=1];
	1->6 ;
	2->6 ;
	3->7 ;
	4->8 ;
	5->9 ;
	6->10 ;
	7->11 ;
	10->11 ;
}

The vertices are a struct in my source code:

struct Vertex {			//-- properties of a node
	unsigned int id;	// The ID of the vertex.
	int asapTime;		// The time index when this vertex can be scheduled EARLIEST.
	int alapTime;		// The time index when this vertex can be scheduled LATEST.
	ops_e op;			// The type of operation that needs to be performed in this vertex
};

ops_e in line 5 is an enum type:

enum ops_e {ADD, SUB, MUL, DIV, RSH, LSH, RSHR, LSHR, CMP, total_ops};

Based on the previous experience the operators << and >> for ops_e are already overloaded and added to the std namespace.

The graph itself is stored as an adjacency list:

typedef adjacency_list<vecS, vecS, bidirectionalS, Vertex, no_property> DFGAdjList;

To read the graph, the dynamic properties need to be defined:

dynamic_properties dpInput;
dpInput.property("id", get(&Vertex::id, dfg));
dpInput.property("op", get(&Vertex::op, dfg));
	

//-- open the file
string filename = argv[1];
ifstream fin(filename.c_str());

//-- Fill dfg with the content of the file
read_graphviz(fin, dfg, dpInput, "id");

Have a look at the directory libboost/read_graphviz_dp in the zip file which can be downloaded below, to see the whole source code used in this example. If you get an error message such as

$ ./main graph.dot
terminate called after throwing an instance of 'boost::exception_detail::clone_impl >'
what(): Property not found: alapTime.
Aborted

check the graph.dot, if all properties are included. As you can see, in the source code, the property alapTime has not been defined. It might also necessary to use a current library to run this code which has been tested with version 1.53. To update a newer version, please refer the installation manual in the section "Option 2: write_graphviz_dp()".

Download

The source code can be downloaded here: libboost.tar.bz2

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