Setting up VPN with Surface and Home Server 2011

Happy new year 2013! It seems I am posting in ever-increasing intervals, so the next blog post should be coming in January 2017 if the pattern continues.

Anyway, I received my Surface just before Christmas, and it’s an amazing device. But now let’s stop the advertising for a moment and cut to the chase.

One thing I am missing from my Surface is the SSH client. OK, there are some nice Metro  New Windows 8 Style apps implementing SSH and they work really well, but what I am missing is port forwarding. What I often do is ssh into my home unix box and use port forwarding of port 3389 to RDP into one of my Windows machines. On Windows 8, I use Putty which just works. But then there are no Desktop apps on Windows RT and the Metro apps do not forward ports.

So I decided to set up VPN to my Home Server 2011. There is a nice tutorial by Chris Barnes at 

On Surface, it is easy to set up the VPN client but you need to get to the Network and Sharing center first.

Press the Windows key, the type “Network and sharing” (“Netzwerk und Freigabe” in german) and then touch the “Settings” icon. On the left, the “Network and sharing center” icon shows up. Touch the icon. The desktop opens with the Network and Sharing center window. Then continue as described in the tutorial.

One little thing: When I first set this up, I ended up with an Error 500 and no connection. This happened because I used the dyndns name of my router as server address. VPN is tunneled over SSL and of course the SSL certificate of the server did not match the dyndns name. But when you set up remote web access to the home server, it also creates a dynamic name service automatically on the domain, and this one is the name used in the SSL certificate. If you use that name, then VPN is happy.

After having set up the connection, the desktop is not needed anymore. If you go to the settings charm and hit the network icon, there is a new VPN connection. Just touch the connection icon and press connect, then enter your credentials and you’re connected.

Have fun…


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Microsoft fixing your PC…

Now I’m working for this company for about three years and I still discover new things I wish I would have found a long time ago. If you’re the typical PC end user that is frustrated by your PCs behavior once again, there is a one-stop shop for most of your troubles: (if you can’t remember this, also works.)

Just for fun: go to and click on the “top solutions” button in the upper left, then scroll down. There things like Fix power consumption problems and extend the laptop battery life or Fix Windows system performance problems on slow Windows computers and even the classic “windows won’t print”: Printing problems and printing errors

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HeadSLAM buzz

We received a bit of publicity around our HeadSLAM presentation at Pervasive and ISWC.

There’s a good short article on the new scientist website here. Collin Barras, the author of that article had a few extra questions on our work and we had a really good e-mail conversation on the subject. He also asked me if we had any video material, but he chose not to use it.

And there is a second Article on Engadget here. As the comments on the article at Engadget correctly point out, there is nothing to see in the video but Burcu walking down the corridor that we mapped. And as the author omitted the resulting map in his article, it is hard to understand our research with the article alone. As some of the commenters may not have realized that there is a link to the preprint of the article when clicking the picture, I added the resulting map here.


So here is one of the map examples produced from the data we recorded. And to limit possible misunderstandings: No this is not a product, not even a prototype, it’s a scientific experiment only. And the video is for illustration of the recording process only, this is neither an advertisement nor a “cool” demo video, it’s there to show how we recorded the data. We are perfectly aware of the fact that this needs hardening to be used by firefighters, that the infrared LIDAR is of no much use in real smoke, that there is no smoke in the video (would have been a bit pointless to show a video recorded in thick black smoke, right?) and that using a normal notebook computer is not really wearable. This “just” shows that the principle works and that it could also work with smoke-penetrating sensors such as Radar or Sonar.

We will continue to add some material to

And apart from that, I would have appreciated if Engadged would have contacted us before using our video on their site.


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ISWC 2008

I am currently at ISWC. The conference is a bit smaller this year, but the quality of the papers is very good. After two excelent keynotes by Raj Reddy and Marcel Just, the conference program started yesterday morning

Burcu Cinaz presented our paper on HeadSLAM and she did well, especially considering that  it was her first presentation on a major conference and it was the first technical presentation of the conference.

Today, there was another inspiring keynote by Rory Cooper and then, there were more technical presentations. Now, just before lunch, the panel discussion is taking place.

Yesterday, it was announced that the next ISWC in Linz/Austria is taking place at the same time as the ars electronica festival. This could be a very interesting collaboration.


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Event update

Meanwhile, the third event I am co-organizing is about to close its submission, my workshop at the “Mensch und Computer” conference in Lübeck on September 8th, 2008.

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Upcoming scientific events

There are a couple of scientific events coming up that I am involved in:

CUIPAM08: This is a workshop I am co-organizing together with Prof. Michael Lawo from Uni Bremen. It’s about Context-awareness and User Interfaces for Professional Applications of Mobile and Wearable Computing and we’re trying to join researchers to answer the somewhat provoking question if there is any benefit in context awareness or if there’s just an increased confusion of the user.

IFAWC2008: The call for papers is not out yet, but the international forum for applied wearable computing will be co-located with ISWC this year in Pittsburgh.

More to come…


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Microsoft EMIC

Beginning October 1st 2007, I will be working at Microsoft EMIC in Aachen, Germany. I will be mainly working on embedded systems. I will continue to maintain CubeOS.


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SSRR and Rescue Camp 2007

I’m currently visiting the SSRR 2007 workshop. We had quite a time here in Rome.

Together with Alexander Kleiner and Christian Dornhege, I was showing a demonstration of RFID SLAM-based cooperative pedestrian indoor localization. I collected quite some pedestrian data by walking around the campus of ISA Campus in Rome. Unfortunately, the data recording and processing did not work out as planned so we did not have any conclusive results yet, but we will try to use some of the data later on.

The SSRR workshop program this year is a very good mix of robotics research and information from the application side of safety, security and rescue robotics. Espechially the talk by Robin Murphy illustrated the problems occuring when using a simple robot system for a search-and-rescue operaton. Of the 9 possible failures they anticipated, they faced 6 during the operation.

Peter Corke’s keynote on robots used in mining was also very interesting, concluding in the end that using robotics technology before an accident happens in order to prevent people from working in dangerous situations might be much more beneficial than building robots for search and rescue operations.

There are two talks by Johann Borenstein. The first one, a keynote, showed research results from building snake robots. An interesting conclusion was that there is a lot of room for AI research to support operators of such robots, as currently, 3 trained operators are needed to operate a single 7-segment snake robot and even then, they need a lot of time to coordinate their control commands to make the robot behave the way they want. However, the capabilities of the robot were very impressive, including the robot going up an “inverted J” type air inlet like you would find on ships and in bunkers.

The second talk he gave was on personal dead reckoning, the techniques presented are quite similar to Stephane’s research. He reports a distance error of less than 2% of the distance traveled. That’s impressive…

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Mensch und Computer 2007 in Weimar

At the moment, I’m attending Mensch und Computer 2007. The invited talk of this morning was very nice, altough it was given via Skype as the speaker, Adrian David Cheok fell ill and was not allowed to travel. The talk had also some funny parts including a wearable suit for a chicken equipped with vibration devices. The idea is that by interacting with a chicken puppet, the user can remotely stroke his pet chicken. The puppet is mounted on a XY plotter-like device that can then display the motions of the chicken in its cage.

Tomorrow, our workshop on nomadic and wearable user interfaces will take place and I hope that we will have interesting discussions.

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Arrested for library access

A while ago, on August 1st, scientist Andrej H. has been arrested. His subject is political science, his research topic is urbanization. According to his former Ph.D advisor, Andrej H. calls himself a marxist. The Public Attorney’s Office calls him a terrorist. In the warrant, this claim is based on rather interesting reasoning.

Aparently, Andrej H. has met with a person that has been recently arrested for arson on a military truck. No casualties, just lots of damage.
That person seems to be a member of what is called “militante gruppe” or “mg“, a group of pathetic left-wing hobby “terrorists” that cause more (brain-)damage by the intellectual blabla that they print on pamphlets than the arson attacks and threat letters they send around.

And since some time, there is a chain of arson attacks on premium vehicles in Berlin. Understandably, the political pressure to stop these arson attacks is quite high at the moment, as burned-out luxury cars in a touristic neighborhood don’t look so nice on postcards and as the owners and their insurance companies aren’t very happy about this either.
The car burnings happen often in neighborhoods such as Prenzlauer Berg and Friedrichshain that were formerly cheap and occupied by an urban Bohéme after the Berlin wall came down and are now being nicely renovated and sold piece-by-piece to wealthy individuals that want to breathe the air of the authentic. And can afford to buy appartments. And luxury cars.

This process is called Gentrification in the social science research of Andrej H. And here, as Bill says: “the plot thickens”…

The Public Attorney’s Office reasons as follows:

  • Andrej H. has met a known member of “mg”. Thus they are both members of “mg”.
  • Andrej H.’s research is on urbanization. In one of his papers, dated from 1998, he uses the same wording (including the suspicious Gentrification) as are used in the pamphlets of “mg”. Thus he must be a member.
  • As a research scientist, he has access to a library where he can do research for “mg”.
  • As a research scientist, he has the intellectual and factual abilities to write the complicated pamphlets of “mg”.

This scared me a bit. How do I do in this respect?

  • As a research scientist, I have access to a library.
  • As a research scientist, I should have some intellectual abilities.
  • Most of my publications are online. I hope no pamphleteer reads those and uses the word “wearable computing” or “RFID”. Or “Gentrification” as in this blog post…
  • OK, I’m safe: I haven’t met anyone of the “mg”. And now I’m writing a blog post on somebody that is a member? Oops!

To avoid misunderstandings here: I am not promoting any left-wing propaganda, especially none of the brain-confusing leftish bla-bla that the “mg” is so famous for. If Andrej H. would be a potential right-wing or islamic terrorist, my reasons would still apply.

What I don’t like in this procedure is that one can base a german arrest warrant on facts that apply to millions of researchers on the planet. Yes, I can go to a library and I am not completely stupid. I may meet and talk to all kinds of people, I hear their arguments and I claim that I can think for myself. Does that make me a terror suspect? I don’t think so.

Similar “reasoning” could be applied with the recently passed new law (StGB 303b) on “hacking“, which threatens all computer security researchers that write software that could be used for criminal purposes. Mixed with the terrorist paragraph 129a StGB that has also been used in the case of Andrej H., this threatens all members of organizations that work on IT security. Maybe I should cancel my membership in IEEE and GI

Currently, I’m reading a book called “What terrorists want” by Louise Richardson. (German version) Richardson claims that the three personal reasons for terrorists are Revenge, Fame and Response. The case of Andrej H. and the group of “mg” members could in a twisted way be a reason for “Revenge” against a state that seems to be using very weak reasoning for prosecuting intellectuals. With the actions of the Public Attorney’s Office, the “Fame” point clearly goes to “mg” and so does the “Response” point. This blog post is obviously and unfortunately a part of all this.

On August 24th, the warrant of Andrej H. will be reviewed. If there’s real and factual evidence against him, keep him locked up and put him to trial. If there isn’t anything but him having access to a library, let him go.

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