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posts for 2015.

in the last 30 days, a lot of things happened. the worst thing happening was that one of our cats, töffel, lost more and more strength and started looking really miserable. since in the weeks before we already had to give him infusions as he was drinking way too little, and he hated that pretty much, we decided not to start more medicine experiments and instead to stop his suffering by putting him to sleep. he’s probably better off now.

rest in peace, töffel!

posted in: feelings
places: hinwil

three days ago, let’s encrypt started their public beta. for those of you who don’t know: let’s encrypt is a certificate authority issuing free certificates for protecting https connections.

this is awesome!

for one, this allows me to get some “real” certificates (as opposed to my self-signed ones) without paying a larger sum of money per year (i’m using quite many subdomains of and two other domains, which results in quite some sum even when using cheap resellers of resellers of resellers).

then, their goal is to automate the whole process as much as possible. so instead of a lof of manual work (mostly filling out forms, handling payment of fees, reacting to emails or domain challenge requests, etc.) it should be possible to run one command, maybe even as a cronjob, to get a (renewed) certificate for a domain or a set of domains.

on thursday, when the beta officially started, i tried out the official client. as mentioned already by lots of others, it has some serious downside: it is a huge python program which needs to be run as root. (not necessarily on the webserver, though, even though in that case you cannot automate stuff anymore.) but there were already alternatives: a static website telling you what to do and doing some calculations in javascript, or a tiny python client. (both are by daniel roesler.)

that’s already much better, but still not what i want, as this is hard to automate when you don’t want to run that on the webserver itself. i’m prefering something which can run somewhere else, and can be integrated in an orchestration tool like ansible. well, so i took daniel roesler’s code (including a python 3 patch by collin anderson) and converted it into a more modular tool, which allows to split up the process so that with some more scripting, it can easily be used to do the process from remote. you can find the result on github. i also created an ansible role which allows to simply generate keys, certificate signing requests and get complete certificates from let’s encrypt with ansible; that project can also be found on github. i’m using it in production for my personal webserver: as a result you can now look at spielwiese without having to accept my self-signed certificate! maybe also others will find this useful.

after more than two years, we returned to the beautiful val bregaglia for vacation. again, we were staying in hotel helvetia in vicosoprano on the swiss side of the valley.

we stayed during the first of the two “chestnut weeks”, dedicated to edible chestnuts which are growing all over the valley. except on the day we arrived on and the first half day, the weather was really good!

we visited sils and chiavenna:

we again visited the chestnut forest in castasegna:

and we walked another part of the via panoramica, this time from soglio, and then descending to stampa:

also, again, we enjoyed some great culinary specialities. in particular, we enjoyed several meals (again) at hotel corona, where we also had the opportunity to meet the goats producing the milk for the wonderful goat cheese, which is part of our favorite tomato goat cheese salad. also the different pasta and meat dishes we had were fantastic. yeah well. if it wouldn’t be so far from here (5-6 hours by public transport, depending on how often you want to change trains), i’d guess we’d go there more often ;-)

it’s more than eight years ago that i started spielwiese.

so far, spielwiese was mostly a black and white, lowercase english experience. until now. using nikola‘s multilingual capabilities, i decided to try translating parts of spielwiese to züritüütsch, a swiss german dialect spoken in the canton of zürich, in which i’ve now spent more than eight years of my life.

since züritüütsch isn’t my native language and i’m still far from understanding and speaking it perfectly (though understanding is much better than speaking), i’ll surely make mistakes, though i hope most will be caught by my wife before setting them live :)

this is yet another experiment, and i’ll hope some of you will like it.

last weekend, we visisted the zoo in zürich. we met with some friends and enjoyed a wonderful sunny day!

this year we visitsed the german nordseeküste (north sea coast). on our first day, we were greeted by a kite convention held in schillig and a heavy storm. the kites were taken in before the storm blasted off, and on the next day we could admire them again.

one nice thing about the coast is that it isn’t that hot there. it’s usually a few degrees less than more inland, and there’s more wind, making the hot temperatures this summer way more bearable.

we visited norderney, did a mudflat hike from the coast to baltrum (walking on the ocean ground – how cool is that?), enjoying the wattenmeer in general, and also visited the harbor seal breeding station in norddeich. and, of course, just enjoyed the scenery, like walking at the beach during day and night.

definitely a place where we will return to!

some weeks ago, we visited the stanserhorn, taking up the “cabrio” cable car. up there, the weather was quite bearable compared to in zürich, where it was way above 30 degrees, though it was not as nice – it even rained a little. later, we took the ship form hergiswil back to lucerne.

we spent part of this weekend in zermatt.

on friday, we took the cable cars up to the top of the klein matterhorn, up to 3880 meters above sea level. it’s an amazing trip! unfortunately, we weren’t very lucky with the weather, and from a certain high on we were essentially covered in clouds. there also was kind of a snowstorm going on, which made it quite unconfortable on the outside:

(we didn’t walk up to the summit; without a ski mask it was not that much fun walking through the essentially horizontally flying snow…)

on the other hand, we walked a bit through illuminated glacier:

here are two photos from the trip down:

at least, it was possible to see something from there, even though we couldn’t see the matterhorn at all. but well, on the second day we got a glimpse. there were still some clouds around (and the klein matterhorn was covered by them a lot of the time), but this time we went up the gornergrat to around 3100 meters above sea level. up there, we had some really great views!

later, when travelling back, instead of taking the direct route via visp and zurich, we decided to follow the glacier express trail a bit by taking the matterhorn-gotthard bahn from visp via göschenen to andermatt, and then proceeded home from there. the last photos above are from that trip.