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Why does everybody want my phone number?!?


I understand that online services need to verify my identity. But if the service does not involve my phone, why do I need to disclose my phone number?!? I just tried to sign up for Instagram, which is now impossible without a phone number (in spite of email verification). The only thing worse are services that ignore non-phone users, as WhatsApp had done for a long time.

Of course, I understand the reason: A phone number today is the best tool for reliably tracking individuals. Which makes it pretty clear that the user is the product being sold...

The 15 books I read in 2016


This year, I did not read as much as wanted to – just 14 books (vs. 18 books last year). Most were recreational, as I did a lot of technical reading in proceedings. 

5 Stars

  • Grundkurs programmieren in Java (Tech) I was teaching an introductory class in procedural programming and found this book. Now in its 7th edition, it's really polished, and still has been updated with the latest language features. Kudos!
  • Model-Based Systems Architecture (Tech) Excellent, well-researched book on the topic.
  • Hardcore Zen (Spirituality) Refreshing look at meditation, Buddhism and spirituality, written by a punk.

4 Stars

  • The Memory of Earth (SciFi) First book of the homecoming saga. The homecoming saga is a five-part tome, modeled after the Mormon bible. Except that there is no god, but a supercomputer.
  • The Call for Earth (SciFi) Second book of the homecoming saga
  • The Ships of Earth (SciFi) Third book of the homecoming saga
  • The Ghost Brigades (SciFi) Part two of Old man's war. Nice and entertaining continuation of the story.
  • Marooned in Realtime (SciFi) Not as good as other books by Vernor Vinge, but still pretty high up there!

3 Stars

  • Launch (Marketing) The book contains great advice on online marketing and selling. Unfortunately, the substance of the book fits of 20 pages, and it fells like it's written by a used car seller.
  • Earthfall (SciFi) Forth book of the homecoming saga. Now the series starts to get seriously weird.
  • Er ist wieder da (Novel) Super-dark satire of Hitler in the 20th century. A fun, quick, read, but not very deep.
  • The Swarm (SciFi) This is by now a classic, and a great story. But the last part of the book is just... too much, and the resolution not very convincing.
  • Unterseebootbau (Tech) I read this fairly old book for work.

2 Stars

  • Earthborn (SciFi) Fifth book of the homecoming saga. The ending totally disappointed. A lot of questions are not resolved, and with a whole new set of characters, it feels quite disconnected from the previous four books.
  • Hitman Anders and the Meaning of It All (Novel) I abandoned this book, but picked it up again. It definitely got better. But still, a book full of miserable characters.

Teamviewer better than gotoMeeting


I was surprised how often I encountered gotoMeeting over the last few years. I did not really like the software: The user interface is horrible, it is not available on Linux (which I am using), and the Android app seems unstable.

Yesterday I used TeamViewer for the first time, I was pleasantly surprised: It worked very well, had a great user interface and is available on Linux. I am prepared to pay the $500 is costs on the spot, if it turns out that I will need it on a regular basis.