The Werk1 Network is a great place to work in a coworking-space, meet new people and listen to interesting talks. I become member to get some fresh air, have a different working place from time to time and to enjoy the atmosphere of a true startup environment.
Carl Zeiss contacted me in early 2017 to work on a prototype for one of their projects. It involved Android app development and low-level hardware interfacing and was a very fun project to fiddle arount with.
Way too late I jumped on to the hype-train called Boulder. Everyone seems to do it and now I am in as well. Love it so far!
2016-10-30 – 2016-11-19
Almost a decade after I lived in Taiwan for a year I revisted for a 3-week roundtrip. Once again I was blown away by the heart-warming and friendly people. With few Chinese skills left to use, communication was as hard as it was before. Still, I just love the place for its great food and its perfect mixture of urban and rural landscape.
2016-07-06 – 2016-08-31
Instead of creating a written documentation for a large customer of mine, I instead chose to create a video series instead. I spend a lot of effort creating an intro and outro, writing scripts and of course creating actual content. It was a fun ride but the huge amount of time necessary and the little feedback I received made me stop this project after only three videos.
After some years as an active volunteer in south-bavarian branch of VDE I became Spokesman of our Young Professionals. My tasks are to connect our local young professionals and organize events, seminars and interesting talks.
2016-02-01 – 2016-11-30
For the second time I was hired to improve the master application system of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at TUM. This time however, I rewrote the full web app from scratch. I used a modern stack with NodeJS, MySQL, AngularJS and Bootstrap and created a modern, responsive web app. After fixing all those little nasty bugs the app runs in production now and thereafter.
In early 2016 I started to look into different home automation solutions and finally settled with Home Assistant. The software allowed great integration of different systems, is open source software and requires little hardware power. I connected Homekit services and added different devices through the use of esp8266 microcontrollers and the MQTT protocol. In the end, several lights, motion sensors, roller shutters and even our very own robot vacuum got upgraded to be remote controlled.
2015-10-02 – 2015-10-04
When I attended the second HackZürich hackathon with a friend we were building a smart, IOT and cloud-enabled baby monitor. Our device would've been attached to a babys chest and would constantly measure environmental and body data as well as movements. It was even able to detect whenever the kid was climbing up somewhere and send an immediate push notification to your smartphone. We got great feedback and nearly made it to the finals.
2015-10-01 – 2016-08-31
Avoltum has been a startup founded by me. I built up a small team with two engineers and a business gal. Our goal was to build a small music server in competition to music streaming services. Many people still enjoy buying CDs and owning their music instead of just renting from streaming services. This was our target audience. We built several prototypes and attended the UnternehmerTUM Advanced Businessplan Seminar to improve our market fit. Our greates achievent was getting into the finals of MS Spacelab, the accelerator of Media Saturn. Shortly after we realized we couldn't find enough paying customers and quit the project.
2015-08-27 – 2015-12-31
Vigalux's goal was to build smart office lamps. The idea was to have dynamic lighting based on the current time of day and being able to boost focus by switching to a certain light color. I was brought in as CTO after the startup existed for some months and already won several prices but was still missing a working prototype. Unfortunatly I wasn't able to bring them back on track and after two team members left the rest of us had to abandon the project.
In 2015 I had douzens of local and public services running and was looking for a way to make SSL certificate management easier. At that time I was using paid certificates (there was no Let's Encrypt yet!) for public and self-signed certificates for local/private services. I was learning on how to become my own Certificate Authority and found a nice piece of software called trusted to make creation of certificates much easier. After some time I improved the software quite a bit, added support for Docker and of course published everything on GitHub.
2015-05-01 – 2015-09-30
Supervised by the TUM chair of Strategy and Organization a colleque and me conducted over 100 interviews with employees of all ages during this five-month long study. Our main goal was to determine reasonable factors on career success based on an employee`s social influences.
2015-04-08 – 2016-12-31
Some apps I programmed required push notifications and I was looking into different solutions to connect to the Apple & Google backends. As I love running stuff myself using open source software I spun up a VM and installed AirNotifier. Worked great for the time but got replaced by a professional service by the end of 2016.
2015-04-01 – 2015-09-30
This great seminar by UnternehmerTUM tought me a lot about finding and solving customer problems, checking your market-fit and building a great team. Although being part-time self-employed for nearly 10 years at that point I learned a great deal about how to start a startup the LEAN way.
2015-03-15 – 2016-02-15
My main task in this job was to keep the chair`s IT up and running. I set-up and maintained notebooks, workstations, servers and printers, learned how to handle Windows Server and Active Directory and provided support to lost employees. I also got valuable insights into the large IT infastructure of TU München.
During the early 2010s cloud storage was already well established and everyone was using Dropbox or Google Drive. Data privacy was an issue though and breaches started to become more frequent. I tried to liberate myself, started using Seafile and offered private space to customers. The server has been migrated to several hardware generations but runs to the present day.
This evening-filling workshop was held at Werk1 in Munich and attracted about 100 hackers from all over Europe. We had the oppurtunity to play and hack with a wide range of microcontroller dev boards, logic analyzers, I/O hardware and even drones.
Since my customer base and the amount of my own web projects were constantly growing I started to move away from other web hosting providers and simply became my own. Deployed as a VM on my own server I started with the open source package zPanel (later Sentora) before I switched to the well-knwon CPanel in 2016.
2014-10-10 – 2014-10-12
I attended the first ever HackZürich with two friends and had an amazing weekend. We hacked together a smart security device capable of identifying and blocking BadUSB attacks. I met a ton of interesting guys (few girls) from all over Europe and had so much fun pulling all-nighters for 3 days.
2014-10-01 – 2016-01-31
In this job my main task was to manage about 20 notebooks used for trainings held by TUM Medienzentrum as well as another 20 Android and iOS tablets. Those systems had to be provisioned and cleaned from sensitive data in regular intervals. I looked into different solutions and learned a lot about PXE network booting, tools like Clonezilla and full-blown system provision tools like SaltStack.
2014-08-15 – 2015-02-28
For this job I built an Android app to figure out new ways of visualizing data privacy on Facebook. The app was mimicking the official Facebook app but displayed more information about what (meta-) data was shared and who was going to see it before you actually posted content. While only used by few people for a study, the devolpment tought me huge deal about using Facebooks Graph API.
This local association of the nation-wide VDE e.V. approached me in mid-2014 to transform their office workflow into a faster, distributed IT platform. I suggested a private, cloud-based software to handle file exchange, shared contacts, calendar and most importantly e-mail. We settled on Zimbra Collaboration for Mail, Contacts and Calendar and on Seafile as file synchronization service. They are yet to fully move to the cloud but definitely on their way.
This app for iOS and Android displays usefull information of every JMA event out there. Those events happen twice a year all over Germany and usually consist of a formal part and a more informal one. The app shows information about all the different places, the event agenda, important contacts and news. Users can comment and like (or dislike) items. I built the app using Phonegap and created a backend service including CMS using CodeIgniter (the MVC style).
During the DKE (German association for electrical standardization) Tagung 2014 I was part of a moderator team. As a new feature we had a live Google Hangout running in the background which I was managing. We received a lot positive feedback and most people in the audience were loving our new approach.
2013-12-09 – 2014-12-31
The Next Generation of DKE (German Commission for Electrical, Electronic and Information Technologies) attempted to motivate young professionals for standardization. I was part of the initial team and worked on plans and strategies at that time.
Almost 5 years after my first test I tackled TOEFL IBT a second time and scored even better than before. As I happened to be a rather below-average student in high school this was once again a tremendous success for me.
2013-10-01 – 2016-06-01
Instead of starting my Masters in Electrical Engineering, I applied for TUM WIN and started a business focused Master instead. Although this choice seemed reasonable at the time and my studies went on quite well at first, I realized at last that this wasn't the right path for me. So after 6 semesters and a lot of struggle I quit and moved on without a Masters Degree.
After 8 semesters of ups and downs I finally finished my studies of electrical engineering with a Bachelor Degree. Although my overall performance wasn't that good my bachelor thesis was graded a straigth 1.0 (best possible grading).
2013-07-01 – 2014-07-07
My task in this job was to update a huge web app which was used to manage and evaluate student applications for certain master programs at TUM. Due to the fact that the whole application process is rather complex and I had to adapt and expand someone elses source code this became a somewhat cumbersome job. In the end my app was working fine with the new specifications even though I had to include some ugly hacks to make it work.
In early 2013 I decided to take the next step in being my own boss and founded a legal company. I suddenly was no more self-employed but CEO of my own business and faced with new challanges and new liberties. I was no longer on my own, instead a real company took over to represent my work. What a great way to become more professional!
2012-12-07 – 2013-12-07
I was elected for a second term as VDE YoungNet spokesman in 2012. I continued my work, streamlined our internal workflows, prepared coferences and got in touch with other student groups in Germany. I was once again representing the students of VDE on dozens of occasions.
As YoungNet spokesman it was honor to open the E-Studentday of that year, a huge event with almost 200 students attending. I tried to make a good job telling jokes and emphazising the importance of electrical ingenieering before introducing our keynote speaker and handing over the stage.
2012-10-01 – 2016-12-31
This is another job I did on a voluntary basis but whom I would still consider a customer. For the student branch I was an active member in I created a new and (at time) shiny website. Based on Joomla CMS I developed a fitting theme, wrote content and setup the system. I also wrote several plugins myself to manage sign ups and waiting lists for events and seminars.
2011-12-02 – 2012-12-07
Having been an active volunteer in my local VDE student branch, I finally ran for a higher position in 2012 and was elected first spokesman. Work in this nation-wide commitee differed tremendously from my previous tasks and I quickly realized that it was much more about representing the students of VDE than about actually organizing anything. Anyway I came in touch with many successful leaders and grew a lot in this position.
2011-11-19 – 2012-11-30
The second developer days in Germany took place in Berlin. The event has grown much bigger and with a cool location, great food and interesting topics it was a huge success again. Big topics were the new Android version, Android TV and of course Google Cloud.
2011-10-01 – 2012-07-31
After being a participant few years earlier I decided to get to know the other side of this great program and become a tutor myself. We received special training for the course of this semester and learned everything about teaching methods, group dynamics and general soft skills. Besides that and probably even more importantly everyone was getting to know him- or herself better.
2011-07-13 – 2012-01-31
It bothered me so much that there was no mobile version of the TUM Roomfinder (helps you locate rooms) available that I just wrote my own Android app. The Roomfinder at that time was a plain website which wasn't responsive at all nor did it provide an API to access the data on the server. This means I did not only have to write the app but also implement a web scraper to request every query from the official site, parse its data and return it to the Android client. The approach worked but was terribly inefficient so that I reached out to TUM who liked the app so much they offered me a student job just to take over. I made a nice profit but the app has been buried since that day. Call it a hostile acquisition I guess.
2011-04-27 – 2013-03-01
The Real Sync was my first published app and also the one I had most success with. Its single purpose was to synchronize files and folders between cloud services (Dropbox at first, more later) and your phone. Surprisingly most services do not allow that with their native apps and even more surprisingly there was not a single competing third party app providing that function at that time. So I wrote the app myself and was quite surprised about its success. The app had more than 25.000 free and close to 3000 paid downloads and provided some nice side income. 2 years later I quit the project after much stronger competition had come up.
2011-03-01 – 2013-07-31
I stumbled into this job by accident but was really glad at the time. I started programming iOS apps (which I never did before) and later Java applications and Unit tests (which I also had no clue about). So this job was my introduction to mobile apps and the whole continuous integration life cycle.
Being a huge fan of Google at that time (boy, did that change!) and a developer myself I was really excited about the first Google Developer Days in Germany to be hosted in Munich. I signed up and got cool swag, met amazing people and was tought about new products at Google. It was the first time I attended one of these big, company-focused events.
2010-10-01 – 2011-03-31
In this product development course TUM me and 3 colleques from different majors were building a smart household device, namely a smart recycle bin. The bin was able to move around, sense its surrounding and people approaching. This enabled it to move to the optimal spot in a huge area, move to certain positions when full and even call for assistance prior to being in need for emptying. My job was to handle the electronics and the low level microcontroller programming.
2010-09-06 – 2011-05-13
Serlo is a great learning platform for students. It provides free course material for all grades up to high school. I was not part of the initial developer team but came in closely after. I worked on their first version and introduced many functions to the backend. The software at that time was written with PHP and was already based on an MVC approach.
2010-08-22 – 2011-01-21
Continuing my work with microcontrollers I found myself building a home automation system after some time. I had created a little network of about 5 Atmel controllers, each handling its own task. There was a controller for RF communication with remote devices, a controller for the display (TFT with touchscreen) and I/O, another one which had sensors attached and so on. They all communicated with a master controller via I2C (TWI) and it worked pretty well. The systems display logic was built from scratch by me and included a header with current time and temperature as well as a nice menu structure. I still have this neat little device but its not in use anymore.
2010-03-16 – 2010-11-30
During my first semesters at university I tried to reach out to fellow web developers to find new jobs and make some connections. Schoppe Webdesign was a firm run by a fellow electrical engineer and provided me with some freelancer jobs for some time.
2010-03-03 – 2011-12-11
ICJA - the organization I have been in Taiwan with to do my civil service - was constantly looking for volunteers to help them with their preparation, mid-term and follow-up seminars. For almost 2 years I took the chance to learn about working with people, gain self-confidence and give back the experience I made in Taiwan. It was very fullfilling and fun work and seeing all those young people, talking with them about their hopes, fears and dreams reminded me so much of myself few years back. This was exactly what I needed to properly process my stired up experiences made in Taiwan.
2010-01-22 – 2010-12-08
When I moved to Munich I was searching for some purpose and something I could to besides studying. At a Münchenstift retirement home I visited an old woman twice a week for nearly a year. She had few relatives left and seemed quite lonely (as most of the people at those centers to be honest) so I took her out in her wheel chair and had some chats. It was a nice job and I feel we both took something out of it. When she died in December 2010 and no one told me before I arrived there to take her out, I took action and quit.
2009-11-01 – 2015-07-01
Still in my first semester at TUM I became active in my local VDE YoungNet Studend Branch. Having few experiences with university work I started helping other members in organizing excursions to companies. I later became the IT guy and worked on our homepage before at some point being in charge of events and excursions myself.
Once I became legal citizen of the city of Munich I also got my new business registration to be able to continue my self-employed work with designoid. I had also de-registered my old business just before I started my year in Taiwan.
After moving to Munich I felt like a fresh new start and did exactly that with my business name and -appearance. I really like natural, earth- and leaf-like colors and put together a nice corporate design. Designoid is a term introduced by Richard Dawkins and describes objects that "look designed, so much so that some people [...] think that they are designed.". Love it!
2009-10-01 – 2013-09-30
I have always been fascinated by electonics and was really looking forward to this major. It said to have parts of electronics as well as informatics which seemed perfect to me. In the end though, it was mostly about electrical essentials so that my motivation slowly declined over the course of 8 semesters.
A friend of mine took the chance to travel the world after high school. He was riding a bike most of the time and blogging in between. I made him a nice homepage to publish his diary and pictures. The site went offline quickly after his trip but at the time still was a great way to connect to his family and friends.
2009-06-16 – 2009-08-28
In between civil service and my bachelor studies I had a little internship at Rheinmetall Defence. I was part of the purchasing department and was requesting quotations for spare and custom-made parts, got to know SAP and how to get along in a big company.
2009-05-06 – 2014-10-15
In 2009 a friend of mine asked me if I wanted to join in on his business idea. He has been to Uganda for civil service and wanted to establish a safari travel company in Germany. The idea was to give customers all the security they expect from a German company and have Ugandian safari hosts who we knew drive them around. After more than 5 years, several relaunches and huge changes in pricing and the product itself we finally gave up. One major problem we could never really solve was the little time we were able to spend on this project beside our studies. This project however was my first startup and tought me a hugh deal about legal requirements and working as a team. It was African Infinity which made me found my own company years later.
When Facebook finally became big in other countries besides the U.S. I quickly joined to connect with new friends I made in Taiwan. Up until this day I am not a huge fan of these social networks but I think they are a great way to stay in touch.
Before joining TUM I thought about studying in the U.S. and so I took the TOEFL IBT test in Taiwan. I scored pretty well (well enough at least) which was a nice success at that time, having had rather bad English grades in high school. Some years leater I took the test once again and scored even higher.
2008-07-11 – 2009-07-09
After my graduation from high school I wanted to do something different. Military service was no option for me and civil service at home was also not what I had in mind. I decided to fullfill my civil service abroad instead. Being fascinated by Asian culture for some time and imagining how cool it would be to speak Chinese fluently I opted in for Taiwan. It seemed like the better China to me, with its own government, currency and political system. I turned out to work in a day care center for disabled children und adults in Tainan, southern Taiwan. The experiences I made during that year changed me a lot and today I believe they had tremendous impact on my world view and character. It was an amazing time and although tough and exhausting I never regret chosing the hard path.
In 2008 I was finally done with high school and ready for a new life. I was also honored for creating a new school homepage and leading the Webdesign study group which was nice.
One more local business became customer in 2008: A bike shop I came to every now and there got a new website. With a plain but colorful yellow design and not even close to todays standards they were the first to use my new and still developing conent management system. It was working for the time and it took them nearly 8 years (!) to replace it with a modern site. So I guess my CMS wasn't that bad after all.
After I did a few customer websites I had a constant strugle of finding an easy to use CMS which also non-techies (e.g. my customers) were able to use. I couldn't find one. All of them were either terribly hard to use or unable to support pre formatted styles in a way that I wanted. So I went for it and tried building my own CMS from scratch using PHP and MySQL. I developed fancy features like plugin support, auto updates, auto backups and live chat support. It was the coolest thing ever and tought me a whole lot about project structures and programming itself.
A local restaurant was in desperate need of a new website and after I offered my help we quickly came to terms. I took photos and created a Medicean-style website. I also reworked their menu cards and designed business cards so they all matched their new style.
For this early customer I created 3 websites in Flash. Built with a decent amount of dynamic content - a not so simple task in Flash - and a PHP based backend CMS all pages stayed up for several years.
Running my own student group for Webdesign it was only a matter of time till I was asked to rework the schools own website. Only before realizing this was a bad idea I created a modular system in PHP/MySQL from scratch with CMS and community functionalities. Schortly after we agreed on switching to a professional CMS which was Joomla at that time. I consider them one of my early customers although my work was voluntary.
Utilizing my new conections to a local drivers school I gained a new customer. The City Fahrschule Krug required a new website which was proudly created by me. I used my very own CMS and a simple design. Years later I redid the homepage once again and also provided webhosting. This time using ForkCMS and a responsive flat design.
By friends of friends I found my very first paying customer in 2006. I created a small websites and took photos from their office and was suddenly in business.
2006-08-01 – 2008-07-01
Spot on my 18th birthday I registered my first official business which allowed me to legally sell my work force. I suddenly was part-time self-employed and stayed like that for more than a decade. With new liberties come new obligations: I had to learn about taxes, legal requirements and how to run a business.
2005-08-25 – 2008-07-30
In 2005 I already realized the downsides of Flash and moved on to more traditonal web developement with HTML & CSS on the frontend and PHP & MySQL in the back. I wanted to improve my already decent skills and teach others about webdesign so I convinced my high school to let me lead a study group. Each semester about a dozend pupil showed up to learn about HTML & Co. It was a small group but I learned a heck lot about how to motivate groups, teach knowledge and keeping a bunch of overly active teenagers calm.
2003-03-01 – 2008-07-01
I learned how to program in Basic on my dads old Win 3.11 box when I was about 11. After a few months I moved on to Visual Basic and programmed a really cool music player (back when Winamp was cool!). Searching of a way to publish my work, I started getting used to the internet (hello AOL!) and made my first little projects in Macromedia Flash. Shortly after, I gave myself a name: brainleatz state-of-the-art webdesign. In later years I used brainleatz as a company name when creating websites for customers.