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Why German Politicans love Internet Censorship

After the government now installed laws to enable censorship in Germany, I wondered what the representatives really thought when they did this. Something like "to hell with Germany, I'll be dead anyway soon"? Or was it more like "democracy sucks, down with it"?

It looks like it was something different:
Because of this new law, Jörg Tauss a member of pro-censorship Party 'SPD' now left it and joined the German Pirate Party. The interesting part about this is that he now gave some insight into the SPD and wrote down why and how these politicans made up their opinion. The following quote summarizes it quite well:

[...] Mischung aus Borniertheit, Uninformiertheit, technischem Desinteresse, der guten Absicht, wenigstens "etwas" zu tun, Angst vor der BILD- Zeitung etc. fuehrte dazu, dass man weder die Expertenmeinungen noch die Meinungen von 134.000 Petentinnen [...] zur Kenntnis nahm [...]

(Translation: a mixture of stupidity, non-knowledgeability, technical disinterest, and the good intention to do "something" at least, the fear of the newspaper BILD, resulted in ignoring the opinion of the experts and of 134,000 signers of the petition).

The text basically describes what most people already knew: Nearly no one of our 'representatives' has an idea what the Internet is, they never really use it and they don't intend to change this. All they hear from it is negative (keywords: porn, hacker, islamism, bombs, terrorists, nazis) and so they think it is a good idea to censor it. Incompetence at its best.

Ein grosser Teil der Parlamentarier ist mit dem Internet nicht aufgewachsen. Sie empfinden es daher moeglicherweise sogar als Bedrohung. Sie nehmen es [..] wahr [...] als etwas, wo man eben Boeses bekommen kann und wo vermeintlich das Boese auch herkommt und die Gesellschaft durchdringt.

(Translation: A big part of the representatives didn't grow up with the internet. They maybe even conceive it as threat. They [...] perceive [...] it as something where you can get evil things and where the avertable evil comes from and penetrates the society. [ok, quite a bad translation, sorry])

You can read the full text (in german) on abgeordnetenwatch.de. It's an eye opener. I hope this way of thinking will die out soon enough. Until then I'll vote for other parties.

I'll get rich!

Woha, I know some of the software I recently created is a bit popular, but this surprised me:

This is a (slightly modified and cropped) screenshot of google analytics, it shows a +1100% increase in the visits on ambiera.com. But unfortunately, it's an error by google analytics ;)

StarCraft 2 without LAN

Strange move by Blizzard: Starcraft 2 will not have LAN support, it seems like you will only be able to play multiplayer games via Internet/Battle.net.

C++ likes URLs

One of the most useless thing I learned today: You can write URLs directly into C++ source, like
void foobar()
int k = baz();
The http: is recognized as a label and the // + following characters is simply a comment.
Senseless but cool :)

How to port an MFC application to Mac OS X

Most of the software I write is Windows only, but there are a lot of people who want it to run on MacOS as well. I ported irrKlang to Mac OS X some time ago, but it's only a software library and not an application, so I didn't have that much experience when I thought it would be a good idea to port the irrfuscator frontend to Mac. Unfortunately, that program was written in MFC, basically a set of classes wrapped around the Win32 API. The irrFuscator frontend looked like this:

And if you know a bit of the internals of the MFC, Microsoft made it really hard to port code using this framework to another operating system. But after some few days, irrFuscator looked like this:

It finally ran and worked on Apple's operating system, yay! So, how did I do that?

Basically, I didn't port the MFC application at all. I stripped out every MFC dependency and replaced it with wxWidgets, a free and open source cross platform UI library. The API of wxWidgets is very similar to the MFC, so this was quite easy, and I was able to port every feature of the frontend to wxWidgets surprisingly without much effort. The result was a code based on wxWidgets which compiles both with gcc/XCode and with Microsofts VisualStudio, which is great: Only one codebase to maintain for bug fixes, new features, etc.

So I can really recommend wxWidgets for crossplatform application development. You can try out both versions of irrfuscator here, if you are interested.

Building up Germany's Censorship Infrastructure

Maybe you've not heard yet that Germany is currently building up a censorship infrastructure for the internet under the pretext to fight child porn. The following article from netzpolitik.org summarizes the problem very well (source). This topic is quite critical, so here is a full quote of the article:

Germany is on the verge of censoring its Internet: The government – a grand coalition between the German social democrats and conservative party – seems united in its decision: On Thursday the parliament is to vote on the erection of an internet censorship architecture.
The Minister for Family Affairs Ursula von der Leyen kicked off and lead the discussions within the German Federal Government to block Internet sites in order to fight child pornography. The general idea is to build a censorship architecture enabling the government to block content containing child pornography. The Federal Office of Criminal Investigation (BKA) is to administer the lists of sites to be blocked and the internet providers obliged to erect the secret censorship architecture for the government.

A strong and still growing network opposing these ideas quickly formed within the German internet community. The protest has not been limited to hackers and digital activist but rather a mainstreamed effort widely supported by bloggers and twitter-users. The HashTag used by the protesters is #zensursula – a German mesh up of the Ministers name and the word censorship equivalent to #censursula.

As part of the public’s protest an official e-Petition directed at the German parliament was launched. Within three days 50,000 persons signed the petition - – the number required for the petition titled „No indexing and blocking of Internet sites“ to be heard by the parliament. The running time of an e-Petition in Germany is 6 weeks – within this time over 130,000 people signed making this e-Petition the most signed and most successful ever.

During the past weeks, protests became more and more creative – countless blogs and twitter-users followed and commented the discussions within governments and opposing arguments. Many mainstream media picked up on this and reported about the protest taking place on-line. A working group on censorship was founded and the protest coordinated with a wiki, mailing lists, chats and of course employing twitter and blogs. One website „Zeichnemit.de“ created a landing page explaining the complicated petitioning system and making signing the petition easier and more accessible for non net-experts.

Over 500 people attended the governments official press conference on the planed internet censorship – a number of whom used this occasion to demonstrate and voice their concerns. In fact, demonstrators began attending some of the Minister von der Leyens public appearances, carrying banners and signs to raise attention to the stifling of information freedom in Germany.

The net community did not only oppose the governments plans, but also made constructive suggestions how to deal with the problem of child pornography without introducing a censorship architecture and circumcising constitutional freedoms. The working group on censorship demonstrated the alternatives for instance by actually removing over 60 websites containing child pornographic content in 12 hours, simply by emailing the international providers who then removed this content from the net. The sites were identified through the black lists of other countries documented on Wikileaks. This demonstration underlines the protesters main arguments: instead of effectively investing time and efforts to have illegal content removed from the internet, the German government is choosing censorship and blocking – an easy and dangerous way out. The greatest fear of the protesters is that once in place, the infrastructure will be used to censor other forms of unwanted content, not only child pornography. German politicians already seem to be lining up with their wish-list of content to be censored in future – the suggestions ranging form gambling sites, islamist web pages, first person shooters, and the music industry cheering up with the thought of finally banning pirate bay and p2p.

Find more info here (german).

Shocked at a first glance

It's a strange feeling when you go to The Daily WTF and the first thing you see is your webhoster mentioned in an article on the front page. But fortunately, it's not a WTF about the company, but just a story sent in by the CEO of that company :)

Blogging about not blogging

I'm now regularily blogging for about 5 years (or maybe six? would have to check archive.org) but from time to time, I'm slowing down or stopping for a very short amount of time. Usually, there are only 2 reasons for this: I've got an unusual high amount of work to do, or I'm too distracted because something in my private life.
This time it's both things at once but I hope to keep on blogging as usual, in the next days, and hopfully about a bit more Irrlicht related news as well. So sorry for the short outage :)

Ancient Galaxy

Ancient Galaxy is an action adventure role-playing game for PC, created by Composite Studios.

You can play as an archaeologist exploring newly discovered ruins from a lost civilization where you uncover mysterious ancient technologies and the conflicts that produced them.
It looks like they are using an own 3D engine using a cell and portal system (unsure about that), but I am 'quite' sure they are using irrklang as audio library. :)

Expecting the unexpected

Is it a bad sign for Microsoft that it didn't even surprise me that I was able to speed up the DVD burning on my PC by a factor of 4 by simply turning off the Aero window manager?

E3 2009 best of: Project Natal - Milo

Coolest thing I liked from the E3 this year: Project Natal, Milo:

Looks very impressive, hope this isn't the usual Peter-Molyneau-Effect we know from Black&White and Fable already. :)

The Downfall of Reddit

I used to be a regular reddit user, or better: reader. Reddit is - similar to the more popular Digg - a social news/link sharing page, and I really liked it because in contrast to for example Digg, on reddit the articles, websites, videos and pictures submitted and upvoted usually were very interesting, unusual and creative. Even the discussions and comments of those submissions usually were quite interesting and entertaining.
But recently, the quality of the links making it to the top and even the comments posted there began to lose quality, and at least when I stumbled the second or third time upon the most upvoted comment with the only content like 'OMG!' or 'SO CUTE!', I realized that reddit is nearly dead now, for me. Maybe hordes of teenagers have finally found reddit or maybe it's simply the masses, whatever it is, it's reducing the quality of that website and it renders the page useless for me.
I think I remember a time where digg was once usable as well, and what happened to digg seems to happen now to reddit as well. Too bad. :/

Worship my mad 3d modelling skillz

I utilized the bad weather last weekend to improve my poor 3d modelling skills a bit and created a small 3d scene. This is my first model which actually uses some real UV mapping instead of simple planar mapping: The whole model only uses 2 textures altough it looks like a lot more. It still sucks but I personally like it ;)
Thanks to CopperCube, you can take a look at the model in realtime here:

There are a lot of things to improve, but I still like it. It resembles the look of a game I am planning to create should I have some time again (not looking that good for now), and maybe this would be the starting point for the game then.