In this post, I want to clarify my motivation for setting up this blog and the topics I am interested in writing about.

Why is this blog written in English?

I was born and raised in Germany. German is my native language. I am pursuing a career in a time where it is needed to connect with people around the world. Therefore I am using the language most people can speak and to improve my English skills.

Why this blog?

Previously I have been using the blogging platform Medium. I chose Medium because it is easy to maintain but I disliked the recent developments of the site. As I wanted more control over the platform where I am hosting my content I am now using a custom solution. You know those good-old-days when the Internet was the „wild west“ where surfing on the internet meant exploring the web? I remember a time when the internet was not full of advertisement and websites by companies. People wrote their own websites and even own browser games. I still remember one specific site which is an archetype of this type. In school, I was tasked to write about China and do some internet research on that topic. I discovered a site of one guy who was an expert on China. He set up his own website and shared his expertise. It was fascinating. Nowadays you rarely find pages like that. Sometimes I see some decade old pares explaining some math. I want to bring this experience back to you. If you like my posts please link them on your blog or website. I am happy to answer feedback e-mails and answer your questions.

I still follow some blogs using RSS/Atom technology. RSS and Atom are protocols which can be used by some applications called feed reader, which check websites. You then get a feed like on facebook but you have the control of the sources and there is no company involved. Sounds great? You can try it out by yourself. Just use the URL of this site in any RSS reader. I am using NetNewsWire 4.

When you look at the state of society, you will see that social media has changed us a lot. I believe that lots of changes are not healthy changes. Although I grew up with technology and still believe that technology gives us useful improvements I stopped using Facebook, Instagram and avoid Whatsapp. People often cite that these are tools they need to stay connected with friends and family, but they miss two things. Every minute you spend on using these tools you could do something different. For example, instead of browsing Facebook for half an hour, you could call a friend - an experience which connects you deeper than Facebook could. This absence of some activities because you chose to pursue other activities is called opportunity costs. I want people to get updates on my life, and share my ideas. Maintaining a blog keeps me writing and finishing my projects and work on ideas. In order to further decrease my Facebook usage, I need people to get updates on my life and thoughts, which I would previously post on facebook, from a different source. Hence this blog.


I am currently pursuing a career in artificial intelligence research. Digital transformation, start-ups, and computer technology in general are also my interests.

Technical things

Now some technical things. You can skip this paragraph if you are not interested.
 This blog is hosted on uberspace. The software for the blog is grav, which is a flat-file content management system. I am using the hpstr theme. I customized it to make it GDPR (Germans know the GDPR as „DSGVO“) compliant by removing externally loaded resources.

Little people know that the audio quality of AAC > MP3 at the same bitrate. You can get AAC files from iTunes with the suffix m4a at the iTunes Store for example. Today I used the application “Spek” to visualize the spectrum of the same rock song with both encodings in comparison. You cannot really notice the difference by hearing (unless you are an audiophile with good equipment and very good ears) but if you want the superior audio quality with smaller file size just choose AAC files. For most people, the top audible frequency is, depending on age, at 18–20 kHz. In the diagrams, you can see that mp3 files cut frequencies at the top.

m4a Spektrogram mp3 Spektrogram
Left m4a, right mp3.

How to find the best place to live using the Google Maps API

The problem

Assuming you travel a lot e.g. for your jobs and you want to reduce the time you travel. I wondered in which city you should rent a flat to stay between your trips. In my specific case the only important factor was the travel time. Regarding this, what is the best city? Luckily we can solve this problem with a computer, some programming skills and an internet connection. Some small real-world problems like this are the best way to improve your skills like in a code kata. In Germany, almost every city is connected by rails and tickets are quite cheap. This reduces the cities we have to consider as small towns don’t have a train station. The cities to consider can be picked from a map.

The solution

I wrote the script in python, but a javascript version should work the same way. One input file is a simple list of cities with the concert locations. The other one is a list of cities which are a reasonable to consider. Then the mean travel time with public transport is calculated for each home city. The results are sorted, so you get a ranking. In her case the best city is Cologne. Cologne is quite well connected, so is not that much surprising. You need an API code for the directions API from the Google developer section in order to Google Maps API. A free API key allows up to 2500 request a day, which is more than enough for this task. Using the API is quite easy, but the documentation for the Python API links to the Javascript one. The code for my implementation can be found here.

As I started my studies I had a lot to learn. Here is a collection of things I learned over time or what felt right in retrospective. Therefore this article may be only interesting for current or ongoing computer science (cs) students or people who want to get some insight into a cs students mind.

Choosing the right computer

As a computer science student, you obviously need a computer. But which one? When I started my studies I bought a MacBook Pro. The times when I only used my computer at home were gone. So a desktop computer is not the right choice. Studying cs you life is focused on your computer. The laptop you use matters a lot and shapes your daily life and matters to your quality of life a lot. As a cs student almost everything you do can be performed by using just that one piece of technology. Therefore many of us carry our laptops with us. I took all of my lecture notes on my laptop. Even the math lectures. Others rely on paper, their mobile phone or tablet. For me, this does not work because I can not properly work without a keyboard and a small screen. For some time I tried using an iPad as a replacement for my laptop but my laptop is a much more powerful tool than a tablet. For some people this also works, but not for me. Nowadays there are some laptop/tablet hybrids, so maybe check them out. I mostly commute by bike or walk. Having a heavy laptop in your rucksack or in an extra case slows you down and makes moving strenuous and takes the feeling of freedom and spontaneity. I recommend against a 15" or even 17" laptop. Get an external screen for your home instead if you want the size. If you don’t want an Apple MacBook you should install windows and ubuntu on two partitions. Many universities offer windows licenses in some software program. You will miss a lot if you don’t work with a Unix system. Because of the huge variety in needs and also the budget, I don’t advice for a specific model. But do not save money on your device. The return of increased production from a better device is huge.

Learn to work from the command line.

You want to understand your computer. You can chain commands together and get a better understanding what is happening under the hood of your computer. If you use macOS, install the shell fish. Zsh is another good alternative available for other Unix systems. It replaces the default shell bash. It comes with some nice features like autosuggestions. This one is also for macOS: Do you know the right-click-“open directory in terminal”-command with Ubuntu? As we will often use the terminal, you can add a similar feature to macOS. For a quick shortcut to open the current Finder directory in the terminal you can download cdto.app and drag it into Finder’s menu bar. Clicking this icon will save you a lot of time.

Learn a scripting language

I suggest learning a scripting language as soon as possible if it is not already part of your curriculum. I mostly use Python, but Ruby is also nice. You could also use JavaScript. JS cannot only run in a browser but also be run by using Java’s Nashorn engine by using the command “jjs” (assuming you have Java installed).

Obtain social skills

There is more than technology. Enjoy your student life. Go partying, do some sport, be engaged in the student union, some political party, or do some other social things. If you are single, start asking people out and go on dates. You should use this time to grow so push yourself to get out of your comfort zone.