I have been blogging 'seriously' about physics since 2012. My motivation has been a blend of jotting down notes on interesting things I've just found, conveying my decades-old fascination with some phenomena, trying my hands at popular science writing, and reporting on my own research.
Today I am asking myself - did I learn anything from that on a meta level? To read myself, I am re-arranging the list of my physics posts and sort them by topic and sub-topic. The list says it all, I think.
I wanted to write about quantum mechanics, but it seems I was always most intrigued by classical mechanics, statistical mechanics, and thermodynamics. The latter has become my true home in physics - which has come as a surprise to myself. Yes, thermodynamics is my specialization, but years ago I rather figured that this is my job, and I rather want to follow the latest news on quantum information and particle theory in my spare time. It turned out that I am more interested in history of physics and in the evolution of concepts that are now 'well known'.
My recurring meta-topic is that classical mechanics / thermo can be as interesting, 'geeky' if you wish, mathematically 'weird', and surprising as fields that seem to be more popular.
This list may remain a static snapshot. I am editing the chronological list of my physics posts here on the blog. This list might lseem to lack some of my more applied / engineering postings, re our heat pump system and data. These are here.
(Voice from the future: Soon there will no separate 'blog' and 'website' anymore - all is being united and merged...
Thermodynamics and Statistical Mechanics
Concepts and foundations
Random Thoughts on Temperature and Intuition in Thermodynamics
Time evolution of systems in phase space: On the Relation of Jurassic Park and Alien Jelly Flowing through Hyperspace.
Phase-space in depth: Hyper-Jelly – Again. Why We Need Hyperspace – Even in Politics.
Carnot’s efficiency, irreversibility, proof by contradiction, paradoxes: Re-Visiting Carnot’s Theorem.
Mathematics used in statistical mechanics: Spheres in a Space with Trillions of Dimensions.
Heat pump basics
Brief explanation, absolute temperature:
Why Do Heat Pumps Pump Energy so Easily?
Coefficient of Performance of a heat pump: An Efficiency Greater Than 1?
Cross-check of numbers for a large heat pump system: Pumped Heat from the Tunnel
COP versus Performance Factor: How to Evaluate a Heat Pump’s Performance?
Energy accounting, economics: Heat Pump System Data: Three Seasons 2012 – 2015.
Heat conduction, diffusivity, latent heat:
Storage Challenge: High Score!
Heat conduction, heat equation: Temperature Waves and Geothermal Energy.
Heat diffusion length: Rowboats, Laser Pulses, and Heat Energy (Boring Title: Dimensional Analysis).
Simple version, daily energy balances:
More Ice? Exploring Spacetime of Climate and Weather.
Heat transport, energy balances. Simulations versus simple energy accounting: Ice Storage Hierarchy of Needs.
Detailed version: Heat exchangers, heat equation, 1-minute time slots: Simulating Peak Ice.
Thermodynamics and energy basics, dimensional analysis
kW and kWh.
No, You Cannot ‘Power Your Home’ by One Hour of Cycling Daily.
Phase transitions, ideal gas law (pressure sensor) Mr. Bubble Was Confused. A Cliffhanger.
kWp, power, energy, energy flow: On Photovoltaic Generators and Scattering Cross Sections.
History and inventions
Einstein’s Refrigerator and other inventions:
Einstein and His Patents
Centennial light bulb, sustainability: 111 Years: A Shining Example of Sustainable Product Development?
Checking 19th century papers: Peter von Rittinger’s Steam Pump (AKA: The First Heat Pump).
Phase transitions of water, Mpemba effect: A Sublime Transition.
By an Austrian start-up – pressure gradient created by centrifugal forces: And Now for Something Completely Different: Rotation Heat Pump!
(I realize that some of my articles in the 'engineering' category would also qualify for this sub-category History. For example: I wrote a - less detailed - post on Rittinger's steam pump before. But part of the fun with these list is that you have to take those hard decisions of tagging ...)
Classical Mechanics and Fluid Dynamics
Equations of motion and Lagrangian formalism
Principle of Least Action.
Sniffing the Path (On the Fascination of Classical Mechanics)
Equation of motion, intuition in physics: Are We All Newtonians?
Motion of a falling slinky spring: The Falling Slinky and Einstein’s Elevator.
Principle of Least Action, again – extended version: Space Balls, Baywatch and the Geekiness of Classical Mechanics.
From Newton’s Law to Navier-Stokes Equations: Non-Linear Art. (Should Actually Be: Random Thoughts on Fluid Dynamics).
Estimates related to the physics of scything:
Grim Reaper Does a Back-of-the-Envelope Calculation.
Back-of-the-envelope cross-checks, hydro power: All Kinds of Turbines.
Torque, forces, precession, nutation.
The Spinning Gyroscope and Intuition in Physics.
Another way to explain how the gyroscope works: Intuition and the Magic of the Gyroscope
Coriolis force (1): The Twisted Garden Hose and the Myth of the Toilet Flush:
Coriolis force (2). Lest We Forget the Pioneer: Ottokar Tumlirz and His Early Demo of the Coriolis Effect.
Physics and geometry
My first (later corrected) proposal of a solution:
Physics / Math Puzzle: Where Is the Center of Mass?
Correcting my earlier proposal: Revisiting the Enigma of the Intersecting Lines and That Pesky Triangle.
Newton’s geometrical proof of Kepler’s laws: Mastering Geometry is a Lost Art.
Quantum Mechanics and Quantum Field Theory
Interpretations of quantum mechanics:
Is It Determinism if We Can Calculate Probabilities Exactly?
Quantum Mechanics versus QFT: Quantum Field Theory or: It’s More Than a Marble Turned into a Wiggly Line.
Started a series: And Now for Something Completely Different: Quantum Fields!
Summary on QM: May the Force Field Be with You: Primer on Quantum Mechanics and Why We Need Quantum Field Theory
Quantization – starting from statistical mechanics: On the Relation of Jurassic Park and Alien Jelly Flowing through Hyperspace.
Path integrals and symmetries: Learning Physics, Metaphors, and Quantum Fields.
Book review: Student Friendly Quantum Field Theory.
Electromagnetism and special relativity
Unification of Two Phenomena Well Known.
Charged particles lose energy when accelerating: Why Fat Particles Radiate Less.
An alternative way of understanding SR: How to Introduce Special Relativity (Historical Detour).
List of resources: Learning General Relativity.
Using physics-like methods in economics and sociology
Networking theory, instabilities:
Theory and Practice of Trying to Combine Physics with Anything
E-Mails and communications: Using Social Media in Bursts. Is. Just. Normal.
‘Philosophical’: Learning physics, culture
On trying to explain physics without math:
Real Physicists Do Not Read Popular Science Books
Re The Trouble with Physics by Lee Smoli:. I neither Met Newton nor Einstein
On learning physics. Stupid Questions and So-Called Intuition.
Re Margaret Wertheim’s Physics on the Fringe Physics Paradoxers and Outsiders.
Physics as Therapy (1) In Praise of Textbooks with Tons of Formulas (or: The Joy of Firefighting).
Physics as Therapy (2) Ploughing Through Theoretical Physics Textbooks Is Therapeutic.
Sometimes I wonder why I had created a Tech category separate from an IT category. The two of them are interrelated closely as my recent Wordpress blog post on my so-called Data Kraken had demonstrated.
I call myself the Theoretical Department of our engineering consultancy because I am mainly in charge of software development, simulations, and data analysis – related to measurement data for our heat pump system (and those of our clients).
But there is one big difference between what I call 'IT-only projects' (like my PKI-related services) or engineering projects that also involve software: 'IT' is my tag for providing software-related consulting or software engineering related to somebody else's IT system – a system whose requirements are defined by somebody else. My engineering software is built according to my own requirements. My 'Tech' projects, IT-centered as they may seem, are not primarily about IT: They are about systems using, storing, and transferring energy. IT is just a tool I use to get the job done.
All things I had ever done as an IT professional turn out to be useful, and I am learning something new nearly every day – when thinking about 'energy'. Heating systems today are part of what is called Internet of Things – so IT security is also an important aspect to consider. In 2015 I used this website to finally transition to .NET (… finally, from ASP ?), and as a spin-off I also re-developed the numerical simulations for our heat pump system in .NET – representing every component as on object. 2014 I migrated our initially only Excel-based data analysis to SQL Server, and I have improved my 'Data Kraken framework' since then, adding visualization by automated Excel plots etc.
I still work for some select 'IT-only' clients - and it seems my 'IT articles' here just constitute a series of updates about the exact extent to which I still do PKI. If the occasional data analysis question comes up, any SQL, Excel, or .NET skills might come in handy in my IT projects - like querying a certification authority's database, or using a semi-automated Excel sheet to create a Certificate Policy Statement, following the RFC. But I don't advertise myself as a SQL etc. expert; I rather think I returned to where I came from, many years ago:
When I worked as an IT consultant, I had been asked over and over: How does a physicist end up in IT? There are very different reasons: The obvious one is that as a physicist you might have picked some programming experience. I had indeed contributed to the (mess of patchy 'local-community-developed') software for automating the measurement of electrical resistance of superconducting thin films many years ago, but this was not the main reason. I was an experimental physicist so I can't claim that my work was immensely mathematical or computational (and my job as 'implemented applied cryptography' via Public Key Infrastructures was not either). The main analogy is that IT systems of sufficient complexity are as unpredictable as an experimental setup governed by lots of parameters, some of which you have not identified yet – as was the manufacturing of thin films by laser ablation. I was simply patient, perseverant, and good at troubleshooting by navigating a hyperspace of options what might have gone wrong.
This might be either boring or frustrating for non-geeks. But I believe the grunt work of maintaining and fixing software is rewarding if this is an auxiliary task, done to support the 'actual' system of interest. Mine are heat pump systems, power meters, photovoltaic generators and the like. I want to understand and optimize them and so I am willing to learn new programming languages and spend hours on troubleshooting bugs with software vendors' updates. Just as back then I learn the bare minimum of Turbo Pascal to develop software for low temperature measurements.
In 2017 I am going to focus on maintaining (and bug fixing ?) Data Kraken und ich will work on making usage and 'visualization' of the numerical simulation more and more similar to Data Kraken.
Currently, Data Kraken has the following main features:
- Documentation of the sensors and log files for different loggers (Heat pump / UVR16x2, smart meter, PV…) in an Access database - a small proto-kraken per installed system.
- Documentation of changes to sensors and log files, such as: Shuffled columns in files, modified naming conventions for files, new or replaced sensors. For example, the formerly manual reading off of the surface level of water in the water/ice tank has been replaced with an automated measurement in 2016. So the input value for calculating ice volume moved to a column in a different log file, and was measured in different time intervals.
- A Powershell script grabs all log files from their source locations, and changes date formats, decimal commas and line breaks. (I found this to be more performant than manipulating every line later after the import to SQL Server).
- The Powershell script then creates an updated set of SQL scripts – one set of scripts and one SQL database for each installation / each client. For example, the CREATE TABLE or ALTER TABLE commands are created based on the Access documentation of measured values and their change log.
- SQL scripts create or add SQL Server database fields, import only the files containing data points not imported yet, and import their data to a staging table. Each SQL database can thus always be re-created from scratch – from CSV log files and the meta documentation (Access).
- Error values are modified or deleted from the staging table, as defined before in the Access database (and such in a SQL script): For example vendor-defined error values for not connected sensors (as 9999) are set to NULL or whole rows of values are deleted if the system was e.g. subject to maintenance according to other system's documentation.
- Finally, the most important script is run: The one that does the actual calculation of e.g. average brine temperature, energy harvested by PV panels or the solar / air collector by day, or daily performance factors of the heat pump. The script needs several levels of SQL views – all of which are re-created by the script.
- Microsoft Excel is used as a front-end to show values from tables with calculation results. One Excel-formula only simple table allows for browsing through values, and picking daily, monthly, yearly, or seasonal numbers.
- Excel plots are automated with respect to the fields (columns) and to start and end date. Existing plots can be copied (also from other workbook), then documented in a table. The documentation table can then be modified and is used as input. Color and line widths are still tweaked manually.
Weird as this setup sounds, it allowed me to develop and change the solution just in the right way – installation by installation, e.g. by testing the changes to log files after the control unit's firmware for one specific installation first.
(This has been written when our blogs have still been separate websites hosted elsewhere.)
I start a radical experiment: Opening my blog's editor, and typing what I think right now - however, planning to never publish it to WordPress.
Contrary to what seems to motivate many freshly minted bloggers, and netizens inhabiting social web worlds in general, feedback and interaction had not been my primary goal. The appeal of writing 'in public' is that on principle somebody could read what you wrote, that the internet never forgets, and that you have to hold yourself accountable to what you wrote. Have to endure reading what you wrote when you were a different being.
The joy of my early web projects was also their subversive, semi-secret, and pseudonymous nature. Online spaces were wild places, blank sheets of paper, laid before me to hone my ideas.
There is another motivation for writing online, and this is as unrelated as possible from the philosophical approach: I enjoy crafting technical arguments, documentation of technical projects, 'science writing' because I want to force myself to turn my thinking into a consistent linear thread. I want to challenge my own ideas, find the loop holes in my own arguments. I know that my blog articles may be either boring or opaque or both unless the reader has explicitly searched for content like that. But actually the latter audience is who I am perhaps writing for: I have found so much useful tech / science stuff online, for free and in sublime quality, for my professional work, my own education, my pleasure of reading - and I do not want to remain on the receiving end of this communication only.
My second motivation is tied to a minimum level of 'feedback' - page views by fellow geeks - only seems to work for my articles written on our German blog: We only blog about two times a month now, but despite the smaller theoretical audience of German speaking readers the other blog has much more views, and views are still increasing. My English blog has fallen in oblivion again after I blog only twice a month and/or after I focussed more and more on energy, heat pumps, and down-to-earth engineering and physics of everyday life.
These are my personal recent top articles in the Physics / History of Science category so far:
- Peter von Rittinger’s Steam Pump (AKA: The First Heat Pump)
- Rowboats, Laser Pulses, and Heat Energy (Boring Title: Dimensional Analysis).
- Hacking My Heat Pump – Part 2: Logging Energy Values
- How Does It Work? (The Heat Pump System, That Is)
When I blogged about quantum theory, basic and un-original as my articles might have been, my blog was 'viral' in comparison to that.
But ironically, a silent blog brings me closer to my other goal: Using the silent online space to write just for me, holding myself as accountable as possible though. Last year I had overhauled this / these website(s) here, and it turned more into a blog. Now I finally know what the purpose of having effectively two blog(-like) sites are:
Here, I give myself permission for introspection and self-centered updates. I don't share subversiv.at links anywhere on social media. If somebody wants to reads this, he or she really has to be determined and go to the 20th page of Google search results. There is no interaction. Of course this is also a consequence of my minimal web programming, but feedback can be blessing and curse. You (or maybe only: I) tend to write more about what 'people have liked before', or at least you feel a little bit guilty if you expose your loyal readers to something unusual - which turns each new post into a challenge, one you'd like to dodge sometimes. My writing self is quite 'authentic' here, in modern parlance.
But I don't want to appear fake on my real blog, the one that has much more content that this page, much more carefully crafted, and I don't want my blog to die. My solution has been - since a few months, I am only post-rationalizing now - to stay away from the autobiographical, from opinions, from philosophical, from big ideas ... and to focus on hard things. The stuff I do really know. I think The Internet would be a better place, if people would only post or comment if they 1) had through education on the subject, 2) practical experience with it, and 3) skin in the game - being personally exposed to risks and consequences arising from putting their opinions into practice. (In reverse order.)
So on my blog I just try to be useful (hopefully) to some tech and science enthusiasts, and perhaps a bit entertaining. If I will ever find a more useful 'spin' to what I have written here now, I might actually turn it into a blog article, like: What I learned from having two different websites. Why I stay away from opinion on the web. What I learned from tech / science blogging.
But for now this posting here will just remain some open-ended collection, snippets of my stream of consciousness, and I am copying these lines to a new 'post' at this silent website here and deleting the draft for a blog post.
I am finally doing it:
Having run three differerent websites on a hopelessly outdated 'platform' (ASP) for nearly 15 years, I set out to:
- Develop a new .NET site from scratch.
- Merge all three sites - subversiv.at, radices.net, e-stangl.at - into one.
This will take a while. I am really longing for programming for fun. I don't migrate to WordPress deliberately - I have two wordpress.com blogs and like them a lot, but I want this place I design from scratch just for the joy of it.
All existing subversive / Elke's / back-to-the-roots stuff will be migrated to the new site, and I try to go as gentle as possible on the old asp URLs afterwards.
However, this means I will most likely not pull off to publish new content to the old versions of these sites while I am working on the new one in the background.
I will report on the progress on the main page of the old sites, and I will keep up my usual blogging over at elkement.blog. (Voice from the future - 2019: Also this site / domain is going to be merged with the others...)
I blog about anything heat-pump-related, in particular about our system. In addition, I am interested in thermodynamics, heat pumps and heating systems in general - and their integration with the smart grid and related security concerns. These are my postings about our 'ice-storage-/solar-' powered system specifically and postings on closely related subjects like the power grid, renewable energy and sustainable living.
Edit: Migrating the websites again in 2019, I am retiring this RSS fetcher feature ...
As the saying goes, an expert is somebody who has committed every blunder in his or her discipline. It should be 'her' discipline as I have finally made it. I can prove via two similar but independent (and surreal) events.
1) The Subversive Element's website had been hacked. Well, not quite, as it was the same web server but the URL pointing to The Element's so-called business identity.
Paranoia and panic was mitigated by the curiosity of the nerd. The Element spent countless hours dabbling with Google Webmaster Tools. That is: Not only clearing Google's cache from spammy URLs, but also with scrutinizing all data available, for all websites including also the elkementary blog. And there we looked into an abyss:
2) Google's love for the elkement's blog was dwindling - by a factor of 100 within a few weeks.
But what an opportunity: Conspiracy theories running wild. In two blog postings, presented to THE INTERNET at a global level:
Of course I want you to click these links. The anatomy of a hack part is perhaps interesting. After all, I can still consider it correct, given most recent findings.
This does not apply to the elemental theories on Google. Here is the final explanation, in an incredibly brief posting, by elkement's standards:
- [2015-01-23] All My Theories Have Been Wrong. Fortunately!
tl;dr: All WordPress.com blogs had been gradually migrated to https only in the past months. In Google Webmaster Tools you need to add the https URL as an additional site. My traffic was tucked away in statistics for the https URL.
Heat pump usage in different countries and history of heat pumps
- Swedish Ground Source Heat Pump Case Study (2010), by GNS Science (New Zealand based consultancy)
- History of heat pumps - Swiss contributions and interntional milestones, by Martin Zogg, Process and Energy Engineering
Unusual heat sources
- Aquifer at Oslo Airport
- (Former) Cisterns - a paper documenting research done in Iowa in 1993. I have also summarized the paper in this blog post.
Sizing heat pumps - I am trying to learn the terminology of standards commonly applied in English-speaking countries:
Power grid and availability
- March 20 (2015) Solar Eclipse - a challenge for European Transmission System Operators: Announcement by ENTSO-E, Analysis by US-based company, success story. Electricity production in Germany (select week 12 of 2015) - the dip in March 20 is visible.
- Squirrels a major issue for the power infrastructure of the US: Squirrel Power!
- #DarkNL - outage in Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada in January 2014.
Hydro power plants
In Sweden the world's largest pumped hydro storage plant might be built:
- See bottom of page 30 of
this research paper:
Besides the official estimations there are some discussions [28b] about building pumping capacity between the lakes Vänern and Vättern in Southern Sweden. The difference in altitude is 44 meters between these lakes.?
- ... and the
last page of this presentation:
Possible future? Mariestads Kraftverks AB & others 50 km tunnel between the lakes Vänern & Vättern Cost: 250 billion SEK. Installed capacity: 50000 MW .
Free long-term weather data
Inputdaten für eigene Simulationen.
Germany and Austria.
- FTP server of the German weather service. Extensive and detailed datan, e.g. ambient air temperatures, for some locations since 1950!
- Annals by ZAMG - Austrian national weather service. Daily averages since 1994 as CSV files (only if you pick the link for German readers. The EN version still links to data in the older HTML format that requires you to run a browser in compatibility mode.
- Climate data for the last decades. The navigation is something you need to get used to (Pick: Cities, Climate, Climate Robot...). Therefore I start with Ice Days for Vienna. It is a bit weird that available data seem to depend on the choice of the language (less data for Vienna in English).
The winter 1962/63 was the coldest since 250 years in Europe (German article:
Winter 1962/63 in Europa. Englisch article:
Winter of 1962–63 in the United Kingdom).
More data from a talk / slides avaiable at the website of the Royal Meteorological Society: The bitter winter of 1962/63 - this winter was unusually mild in Canada and Greenland (p.17)
Could such a winter ever happen again? "The 1963 winter is well within the population of other cold winters that have been experienced in this country ... It is not necessary therefore to seek some very special cause in order to explain it." – H.C. Shellard , Meteorological Magazine , 1968 (p.21 of PDF)
Different heating systems
Statistics for Austria: Heating 2003 to 2012 by fuels used and heating system (in Austria). Less than 15% of (primary) heating systems are stoves, and they have been on a decline in the last decade.
Units, heat values, energy costs
Tools for converting units
- Heizwerte von festen, flüssigen und gasförmigen Brennstoffen auf Wikipedia.
- Heat values of different varieties of wood, per cord.
- Energy Content in Common Energy Sources (engineeringtoolbox.com)
Properties of water (for comparing the energy stored in a water / ice tank)
- Interesting properties of water as per Wikipedia: Specific heat, density.
- Thermal properties of water (engineeringtoolbox.com)
Costs of energy - international
- Photovoltaic systems are more expensive in the US than in Germany (2014), despite prices have dropped.
- Comparion of costs of kWh electrical energy worldwide. Costs seem to be much lower in the US and in Canada than in German. This article about the details of a typical US electrical bill implies that there are delivery fees on top of energy fees. On the other hand, the value for Germany seems to include anything.
Monitoring, Control, IT
Metering and monitoring electrical power consumption
- Smart meters with data loggers and/or various interface for attaching
loggers - to be installed behind the official smart meter:
- EMU Professional, different types available with different interfaces such as M-Bus, Modbus TCP and RTU, HTTP, included logger.
- Specification of the EMU meter's Modbus RTU interface.
- EM Series by B-Control / TQ-Systems (The SMA Smart Meter is an OEM meter of that type): EM210 has a web server for online monitoring and stores log files, EM300 supports real-time logging via Modbus RTU, Modbus TCP and a simple HTTP interface (but does not store log files, and uses the web server for configuration only).
- Parsing an online monitoring website is perhaps the most universal 'real-time protocol' in case not other interfaces are available. E.g. by using Powershell, I tested with the local website of a Fronius Symo inverter and their web portal www.solarweb.com. One option: Start an InternetExplorer.Application comobject and identify the html containing the interesting value per its ID (getElementById).
Manuals of data loggers by Technische Alternative Gmbh (for control units UVR1611, UVR16x2)
- C.M.I - Control and Monitoring Interface
- BL-NET Bootloader
- Logging with CMI and BL-NET on the same CAN bus in parallel is not supported.
- Bus topology. Note that UVR1611 is automatically terminated by default.
Heating with computers
Computers installed in private homes provide their computing power to cloud services - while heating those homes.
- Paper presented at the conference Hotcloud 2011: The Data Furnace: Heating Up with Cloud Computing.
- A prototype based on a similar idea, in need of crowdfunding, 2015: Project Exergy wants to build a home computer that also heats your house.
Basics (Physics) - Mechanics, Electrodynamics
The Feynman Lectures of Physics
My lecture slides on PKI and security are a bit dated already, I add them for completeness though.
Articles on my blog are targeted to a broader audience - perhaps they are too 'philosophical' for security experts. See the complete list of postings below, after the image.
- Between 2007 and 2010 I gave a lecture called Authentication, Authorization and PKIs in a master's degree programme at University of Applied Sciences FH Joanneum, then called Advanced Security Engineering (ASE).
- Public Key Infrastructures - Vision, Trends and Real-World Implementation - talk I gave in April 2007 at the opening event of that degree program.
- German lecture Verschlüsselungs- und Signaturtechnologien - von den theoretischen Grundlagen bis zur praktischen Umsetzung, given 2006 at ditact, on IT summer school for female students.
- German talk at .NET Conference in Vienna 2002 - PKI Implementierung. Effectively introducing new features of the Windows 2003 PKI.
This article has originally been cross-posted to all of elkement's sites (e-stangl.at, radices.net, subversiv.at) - at a time when these were still separate sites. They have been united in 2015, but I keep the original links - even though all the 'home page URLs' point to the same 'page'. By the end of 2019 this is going to be even more united / more confusing!
The title of this artilce is a question worth some subversive thoughts. The Element is webmaster of a growing universe of weird sites since 1997. The first site was even a commercial one. Crafted with MS FrontPage 98, no less. The Element's Alter Ago, Elke Stangl, tries to answer all of them in the following meta analysis. (I am still looking for more levels of self-reference here - suggestions welcome!)
Since 1997 I have been maintaining personal and business websites but I haven't joined the social media borg cube(s) before 2012. You can find a brief overview on all projects, that is a collection of icons plus some more or less funny comments here.
Here I try to keep track of why I am doing this, and I only comment on those pages or blogs who I consider a project of some sort.
My personal blog elkement.blog is where I finally try really hard to unite all the things again that have been scattered across different sites before, and across different parts of my life - probably of my very self. I am quite satisfied with the structure I have added in April 2014 - main 'category' pages that list individual posts.
This kind of structure is probably what I would have wanted to achieve by splitting my personal space into three distinct realms in 2002:
e-stangl.at: an ancient predecessor of the modern About page. It always got more serious than I wanted it to be - especially the German pages. But this is probably because I have outsourced the fun parts to the subversive site, and it might have triggered that idea that I absolutely have to run a bilingual site. I am still baffled by my on unwillingness to translate - I either write something in German or English, and only with utmost discipline I do translate it. I rather let it rest and write a different and only losely related version in the other language.
Before the Subversive El(k)ement had its own blog, it had its own site: subversiv.at. This was inspired from quotes from The Cluetrain Manifesto about subversive hyperlinks, and it alluded by weird split responsibilities as so-called corporate IT manager on the one hand, and as a supporter of subversive webmasters of 'non-compliant' sites on the other hand. Over the years I have added many layers of meaning to that.
I re-discovered the joys of playful nonsense, wordplay, self-referential comments disguising my ambiguous opinions. This can be seen as what later was to become Search Term Poetry and Spam Poetry. Today I re-use such poems from my blog and enrich them with German translations on the subversive site.
My science & technology site radices.net should focus more on content and less on my personal woes. I was not successful with respect to the latter. Started as a German-only page the effect of over-solemnity was probably worse. I think it did get better after I was done with soul-searching and heart-wrenching career changes - and writing about those with hindsight.
In autumn 2013 I decided this site should become home to the grey area between my interests and hobbies - e.g. as a amateur student of quantum field theory and dilettante science writer - and those parts of my professional life related to it. Translated to English I called it my Practice in Natural Philosophy tongue-in-cheek. But since I can't help but preferring to write about science an philosophy in English, the German site was / is more or less a link dump - using links from my English blog, and our German 'company blog' (see below).
I got hooked again on classical cryptography and IT security - and I finally want to start what I had had in mind but never did some years earlier: Finally 'curate' all my favorite resources, document interesting anecdotes, and in general give back something to a community that had helped my out so often - when I found the much-needed solution via the ultimate oracle, Google. So I at the beginning of 2014 I mainly updated the PKI pages.
But this was not for a German audience, but for an international one. My English blog postings on security are what I really wanted to write and these should be complemented by a Resources page. I finally did it - I turned made this website into a a bilingual, too. The English version hosts nothing but the PKI stuff, and thankfully radices means Roots and there is something like Root CAs. Totally coincidental as the original intention was to re-connect with my roots as a scientist.
My business page is where I / we pretend to be serious. However, our rather peculiar diverified portfolio as I like to call it, thwarts these attempts (hopefully).
I said we have a business blog (though it is not necessarily discernable as such). Here it is: punktwissen.blog. You can see our work there, sort of, and we use a story-telling approach (And I am trying now to use a sounding-like-business approach). These are the stories of us, the two settlers, who tell their stories about physics, renewable energy, and our related adventures.
The punktwissen blog is successor to the legendary z-village.net site, bringing news from the village at the end of the internet to the internet community. This page was maintained solely by Somebody Doing Anything Nobody Wants to Do - I was (am) just the programmer.
And there was a grand, 'corporate' version of the quaint little village, this was (is) EPSI - a prestigious middle European Think Thank dedicated to: Elementary research, painting blogs, collecting space and doing something.
Now you know.
All the other social media stuff is tangential, ephemeral and fleeting.
(I am not a writer. I feel I had to decide often between being a fence-sitting commentator or somebody who is in charge of and fully accountable for technical problem solving - and I always picked the latter.)
The internet is full of moonlighting writers who work in a day job to pay the bills but call them writers nonetheless.
I am not a writer despite I have a bunch of blogs and websites. I can relate to their ambitions somewhat as I had mulled upon working as a science writer or journalist at times. I even sent a job application to Austrian Broadcasting a long time ago.
Finally these ambitions did not get me anywhere. I feel I had to decide often between being a fence-sitting commentator or somebody who is in charge of and fully accountable for technical problem solving - and I always picked the latter.
Disclaimer: This is not to say that being an analyzing commenter or writer is something lesser. Sure, you can work as a problem solver and be paid for writing about some aspects of that, too. But I consider them nearly mutually exclusive options as long as my own career is concerned - in a postive way actually!
I just like writing on what comes to my mind in my spare time too much. I like it too much in a sense, and I don't want to entangle it with commercial transactions. Thus I don't do or plan to do: Blog posts that are sponsored in any way, visual ads, or affiliate marketing. The latter would be rather straight-forward as I write about books a lot. However, I use a free WordPress.com blog that displays ads as I don't pay for the no-ads feature.
I think I write in order to organize and develop my thoughts through writing. Even the fact I have so many different sites is related to my considering websites experimental playgrounds. Nobody can escape the power of online feedback by likers and commenter, in particular when positive. But this is exactly the reason why I regularly return to ancient, non-interactive, and badly Google-ranked websites of mine like this. I writer under the assumption somebody could and will read it - someday, and I might be held accountable. But I don't write for likes, just as I don't write for money.
Some blog postings of mine about blogging and writing:
The Element is offline - or at least it wants you to believe it is. In a distant corner of the web(*) it is more active than ever.
The red pages will be back online - probably changed a bit - in due time.
The pages are still there - you just need to know the URLs.
The chance in a life time to quote from the grand Offline Page I've never used:
This website is temporarily offline...
...being updated with new revolutionary content
... or just to fix some stupid error
So does the famous and legendary Subversive Newsletter. There were times when the Element used to spam a group of people with self-referential e-mail content. People were forced to subscribe because at that time mass e-mails have not been illegal yet.
Since the Element is subversive but also anxious and paranoid to the extreme at the same time, it has stopped its activities. Maybe it will continue in a more subversive way, such as by writing newsletter but not sending them.
Subversive newsletters have been dedicated to a selected group of recipients and have been written in German. There is no point translating them [*]. Yet the Element takes to chance to move to the spectator's meta level and comment the newsletters in English. Comments are carefully crafted in order not to reveal the true content.
The Element likes to rage and rant about a anything or anybody getting into its way. This also holds true for it pervious self, so the Element's comments are self-destructive.
[*] But of course the elkement tried:
- Subversive Newsletter Nr. 5: A Mind-Altering Experience
- Subversive Newsletter No. 3: Internet Apocalypso
- Subversive Newsletter No. 2: On Self-Reference
- Subversive Newsletter No. 1: On Subversion at Large
What is this website all about? Most of the time this was not clear even to The Element itself. This is the history of the content of the default page.
Hello all you anonymous IP addresses ... out there in the net ...
I find your traces in my log file and ask myself: Why do you enter just the single word SUBVERSIV into the Google search form?
I suppose you are disappointed, because that page is not what you expected, despite the red background (the background color of subversive pages is usually either red or black - do not ask me why)
But I have to frustrate you even more: This is an Austrian website written in German. I apologize for having such a high Google ranking, luring you to my site.
So, the English part is over...
"OK, the scary part is over now. You can come out. It's safe. " (Christopher Locke, The Cluetrain Manifesto - Chapter 1)
This Website is My Hub of Hubs and There Are Many Spokes
(Last updated: September 14, 2013. Created: December 2, 2012.)
It is an About site in its own right. Every few months I ask myself WHOAMI, and since the console does not give me a satisfactory answer I am updating this website instead.
Since I am very active on other blogs and social networks, e-stangl.at is not updated frequently. On the other hand, it is not subject to unimportant mood swings - you should see only milestone-y updates here.
e-stangl.at was my first domain ever. Despite its austere, web 2.0 look & feel it remains the center of the el(k)emental universe. Therefore I need to maintain a list of my other profiles and sites here.
10 Years: Back to the Roots in a Subversive Way
This site is celebrating its 10 years anniversary. After many years of soul searching that resulted in bizzare and weird content ('What do I need to smoke to comprehend the message of your websites?') there is hope. e-stangl returns to normal.
Jump directly to the chronological overview at your own risk.
e-stangl: Think Tank for Science & Technology
(2006, updated 2011)
e-stangl.at is the central node and root of Elke Stangl's websites, supported and inspired by the Subversive Element
This website comprises an overview of thoughts and ideas evolving from experiences gathered throughout my professional career and private projects. The English version had always been lagging behind the German version by 2 or 3 update cycles. It is catching up, but still an experiment - an experiment on how the choice of language impacts brain activities. I cannot resist creating different content in English than in German.
These pages are changed on a completely irregular basis and at the locations you would never expect it. This is not a blog: I am committed to sculpturing existing pages again and again. But: I am also committed to preserving top embarrassing old versions.
The Image that Kicked It All off
(End of December 2002 or beginning of January 2003)
This image of The Element and Somebody (Irgendwer) was used a placeholder after the website had been turned from Elke Stangl's small business website to a private web site.
The List of Comments that Never Wanted to be a Blog but that Actually was
(Entries since 2002. The latest comment is shown in the header of this page)
History of this site: The purpose of this website (if it exists at all) is changing with time. Here is the archive of comments:
I had once started a first list of books here, stating that what you write about books says more about you than about the books. Last year I read mainly about...
I have come a long way. I celebrate a year devoid of planning, of stress, of expectations. Don't Worry, Be Happy! This was the year of 2014: Some images...
Digital Certificates and Heat Pumps ... an odd combination probably. But I have a penchant for combining anything. For me IT security, physics, and engineering are all connected naturally, and not only through my biography. More...
Hello world! I am happy! I have just updated all my websites (see icons below) and I feel they / I do reach some Zen-like equilibrium. As weird as it seems I am combining anything - as the title of my blog says. I do still indulge in marvelling at and troubleshooting of Public Key Infrastructures, I call myself the Science Office of our 'renewable energies startup', and I write about philsophical stuff I am not qualified for.
Douglas Coupland has reminded us twice - in Generation X and in Generation A - that our lifes should become stories instead of just consisting of a few moments strung together. I am not sure what my life is - in any case I have updated the page on My Life with my 3 seconds of fame, that is interviews in German and blog posts that should have been interviews in English.
I am not a writer. I feel I had to decide often between being a fence-sitting commentator or somebody who is in charge of and fully accountable for technical problem solving - and I always picked the latter. More 'On Writing'.
The Elkement has become a curator - see the update on 2013 in Books. My favorite posting 2013 was: Fragile Technology? (Confessions of a Luddite Disguised as Tech Enthusiast). 2014 is dedicated to finally putting the Theory of Combining Just Anything into practice.
End of August 2013 The Subversive Elkement is able to prove its engineer-ness. My CPU is underutilized - I will throw brain power at e.g. Quantum Field Theory. New: Find Elkement's Best-of-Posts at the Science page. German readers: Don't forget to stalk the settlers at punktwissen.blog
Decloaking slowly and giving up stealth mode. The Subversive Element asks me to introduce the latest subversive / elementary website: punktwissen.blog (German). The settlers might have found and populated z-village. Now they have started to tell their tales: On physics, renewable energies and braving the elements in the village at the end of the world.
This website has undergone an update and in November 2012 a major milestone in the Website Resurrection Project has been reached. Life, Science, Technology, and Reading do reflect the current status. Time stands still, History is halted. My virtual Zen garden. I am looking forward to grating gravel.
This website effectively has been a blog all the time. Now I finally surrender to web 2.0 standards and I am modifying the structure of this website to make it as bloggy as possible (to the extent my home-grown CMS based on classical ASP and TXT databases would allow for). The overall goal of this site is equivalent with the goals set forth for my new blog which is still in its infancy.
I had started all over again with A Blank Sheet of Paper, but finally I have resurrected most of the e-stangl.at web pages. My websites have been online for about 10 years now - and I feel privileged to sort of start from scratch now. This is not only related to my websites.
I have reached the other side of the worm hole finally. Since I could not have published anything to my website when I was right in the middle of it I am going to catch up now. Finally I have realized I rather prefer writing on the past. The Subversive El(k)ement also has started blogging at elkement.blog
At the beginning of spring 2012 this website and its author are going to take a break. The old web pages are undergoing a revision, but they are still there and accessible if you know the URLs. 10 years after its launch this website has sort of fulfilled its mission - I am finally making a change in my real life that was overdue.
Happy New Year 2011 - the Year we Make Contact (plus One). No - this is still not a blog. This site is still an attempt to confuse and bore its readers with long-winded an linear stuff. I am a lonely write talking to her lonely readers ((C)) N. Carr). I am using hyperlinks. But in contrast to the motto of this site, they are not subversive any more. I recommend: The Shallows / Nicholas Carr.
This website has not changed throughout the past year. And this is positive. It is still totally non Web 2.0, un-bloggy and probably a little out-of-date. I might simply be satisfied with status quo. I am archiving old entries, I do not even need archive.org - I am preserving the past, this website is neither for the present nor for the future.
This website is setup as a non-blog - on purpose. There are so many places on the web, where written statements tied to context, date and daily routine can be found. But this here is my personal console - replying to my individual WHOAMI. An I am expecting concise and current info's. This website is in use since early 1998 - and archiving my ancient footprints in the web is important to me. Archive.org - a warm welcome! I am asking myself: We are all netizens spreading out thoughts in digital formats - what will endure throughout the centuries? Who will take care of my dear website in 200 years?
As the (hi)story of this website goes, this is all about abnormal and recursive self-reflection. WHOAMI has produced pre-liminary answers to the questions (of life) which has caused a delay in updating these pages. Now 100s of years will be necessary to analyze: change, life, the universe and everything. Other version: The Subversive Element is subverting even this serious website und is especially its motivation to subversion is growing again - but sill: The basic target to subversion is unknown.
Unbelievable, but true: The purpose of this website has not changed since several months: It is a kind of graphical version of the command line tool WHOAMI (Who am I), which tells me who I really am. Every 2-3 months WHOAMI is flickering at my console and I start searching for the ultimate answer: being my own processor, operating system and self-analyzing logic. Spending some sleepless night in front of my PC, the answer comes to me wrapped in my home-made web sites. The input is generated in a process I hardly understand: I am reading my own e-mails and postings, wondering about the ways my thinking goes sometimes, and listening to me telling my own stories again and again.
Slowly the purpose of my website is revealed to me: It is a kind of graphical version of the command line tool WHOAMI (Who am I), which tells me who I really am. Every 2-3 months WHOAMI is flickering at my console and I start searching for the ultimate answer: being my own processor, operating system and self-analyzing logic. Spending some sleepless night in front of my PC, the answer comes to me wrapped in my home-made web sites. The input is generated in a process I hardly understand: I am reading my own e-mails and postings, wondering about the ways my thinking goes sometimes, and listening to me telling my own stories again and again.
This is my private Website. I am working as an IT consultant and am exploring my scientific roots again. I have a PhD in physics, which turned to a hobby now. In the moment my main field of interest is quantum cryptography (whose applications are directly related to my professional work). But due to insights in different "worlds" gathered throughout my career I cannot assign my scientific interests to an academic discipline. The one which fits best is: philosophy
This is my private website. I do not want to sell anything to anybody and I do not want to convince anybody of anything. These are snippets of content representing my identity as a netizen (an internet citizen), which may seem strange, incomplete and ambiguous by now. The pseudo-intellectual captions of navigation hyperlinks will be changed - don't panic ;-) Until end of 2004 this site will comprise thoughts about information technology and physics - which are the two fields I am concerned with professionally and non-professionally.
This is my private website. I do not want to sell anything to anybody and I do not want to convince anybody of anything. This not a fiercely managed IT project, so progress is moderate. These are snippets of content representing my identity as a netizen (an internet citizen).
Maintenance of this website is not a fiercely managed IT project, so there is NO deadline (Read one of my favorite books: "Slack" by Tom DeMarco). Therefore updates are published on a completely irregular basis and coming from the bottom of my heart. Or better: From the bottom of my mind, your are visiting e-stangl Think Tank ;-).
No slack, no goals for this web site. Optimum pre-requisites - let's go!
This is a private website. It's design motivation is to make you think and read. I am not a professional web designer (any more), nevertheless it is one of my goals, that this site should not look like a typical private web page ;-) In the moment this site is heavily under construction. This is not a fiercely managed IT project, so there is NO deadline (Read one of my favorite books: "Slack" by Tom DeMarco)
The domain e-stangl.at was delegated in the glorious era of THE GREAT dotcom HYPE, thus contains e-. The non-hyperlink part - the part above the underscore - reflects the golden light of the evening sun or is being shaken by an amber sandstorm