New Opportunities

My involuntary break from work didn’t last for long. I had to get back into the Ad Tech world! Meanwhile it’s an area I’m very passionate about. So where did i find the new challenge? It’s a relatively small company compared to Oath (now Verizon Media) with overall 480 employees and only 15 in my location. A joint venture of an ad network called previously Netzathleten that has been founded in 2007 and that belonged to RTL with a traditional print publisher being Mairdumont that has been founded in 1948 and got into online publishing and advertising over the past years. Mairdumont Netletix (with Netletix being the ad network) I found a role that is both challenging and impactful. I already knew the company as a leader in ad fraud detection from the Admanagerforum summits and what I’ve seen in the first two weeks working there only confirms the picture I had. Highly impressive technology based on DFP that has been extended and enhanced in almost every area.

Mairdumont, the new majority ownership part of the company has a fascinating history. On the company website it’s available only in German so I’ve put it through Google Translate and posting it here. IMHO it’s worth reading. True passion for travel, travel guides and maps:

Pioneers of travel

“What counts is exploration alone.” The thirst for adventure and the urge to discover had lured Kurt Mair, the founder of MAIRDUMONT, into the world in the 1920s. He traveled throughout Europe, Africa and Asia, from the North Cape to the Sahara. He preferred to ride his motorcycle or the standard Vanguard. He documented, described and mapped everything.

After World War II – Germany was largely destroyed – he already had the vision: The Germans will travel. And even then he knew that nothing was as positive as traveling. In 1948 he founded the Cartographic Institute Kurt Mair (later Mairs Geographical Publishing and MAIRDUMONT) with his own exploration service. His goal was: being on the move for everyone, the democratized version of upper-class educational travel. In short: travel as we know it today.

Their own reconnaissance cars were constantly on the move, their drivers traveling hundreds of thousands of kilometers to map and pick up roads and destroyed bridges. There were no authorities at that time that were responsible for the destruction caused by the World War. A cooperation with all road authorities of the federal states quickly developed, which allowed the publishing house to also include the planning in the street atlases. Her own exploration, then a real pioneering achievement, turned the resulting cards into sought-after products: no one else was that accurate and reliable at the time. The first “Shell Autoatlas Deutschland” developed from 1950 to the most important companion of German motorists and was largely the model of whole Atlas generations. Your own exploration became the guideline of the publisher’s development, both for maps and later for travel guides.

Again and again Kurt Mair pursued his own passion, traveling. The whole family went to Africa, through Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco and across the Sahara, through Europe and Turkey. The expeditions were great adventures and, above all, exploratory trips, because it was written down and mapped. For months the travelers were in the tent, setting up their tents in the most beautiful places and, if possible, even on Mount Vesuvius or Toubkal, the highest peak in the Moroccan Atlas Mountains. Regulations, but also travel guides or a functioning infrastructure did not exist then.

His son Volkmar Mair took over after the sudden death of his father the publisher. He, too, has blood travel and crossed Russia in 1960, the first German car, from Berlin to Warsaw to Moscow and St. Petersburg, Kiev, Yalta and Odessa.

Since 01.01.2010 his daughter Stephanie Mair-Huydts is the spokeswoman of the management. His son Frank Mair is also in the management.

Pioneering spirit, thirst for adventure and the will to innovate were not only characteristic for the emergence of MAIRDUMONT. They can also be found in the history of publishers belonging to the publishing group MAIRDUMONT. Many of them were themselves far-sighted pioneers and pioneers in their field: the Baedeker publishing house. Karl Baedeker is considered the founder of the travel guide worldwide. In 1832 he created the world’s first travel guide with his title “Rheinreise”. Gerhard Falk invented the patented FALK city map folding and the hyperboloid projection. Hallwag and Kümmerly + Frey are deeply rooted in the history of travel with their roots, DuMont with its reputation for individuality, cosmopolitanism and intellectuality, as well as Lonely Planet, a synonym for individual tourism worldwide. All of our publishers and partners, pioneers of travel, are now united under one roof.

This spirit can be felt in the company today. Traveling is constantly changing. The media development provides new ways for information and inspiration for the traveler. MAIRDUMONT repeatedly creates innovations, whether in mobile or web-based media or in print.

From: https://www.mairdumont.com/unternehmen/pioniere-des-reisens/

The last day

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On January 31st 2019 was my last day in the former Yahoo office in Munich (now Verizon Media). The special items of past and current brands on the photo will get a honorable place on a shelf in my living room! After almost exactly 15 years, many roles & responsibilities, various company strategies and even company names, a CEO Challenge and a LEAD award it’s time to move on to find new adventures and opportunities. Bleeding purple has been always a way of life for me and for a very long time I had a sticker on the back of my car saying “Do You Yahoo?”. It has been an exciting journey for me from my times as Product Manager CNS to the last role as Technical Solutions Manager. It has never been boring! I met great people, learned a lot, worked with state-of-the-art technologies, have seen amazing places on off-sites and had the opportunity to get completely new perspectives with various company mergers.

THE FALL OF FLASH

Sometimes my company gives me the opportunity to do some really cool things. That happened recently. I composed a blog post for the BrightRoll corporate blog together with the technical writer and PR team about a topic I’m passionate about, the Flash deprecation. Check it out: https://brightroll.com/blog/fall-flash-what-video-advertisers-need-know

VR Shinecon & mini gamepad review

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Last week a colleague brought his Samsung Gear VR to work. I tried VR for the first time and really liked it so I considered buying one. Unfortunately it turned out that my Samsung Note 4 doesn’t fit in it though (only the Note 5 or the latest S models do). To make it fit I would need to break out four plastic pieces. I realized that Samsung has a pretty unique app ecosystem but thought that Google Cardboard should have the same. Instead of ordering the cheap looking Cardboard I got a set of VR glasses by Shinecon and a mini gamepad for the controls.

VR Glasses:

http://www.amazon.de/ELEGIANT-Universal-Einstellbar-virtuelle-Pappkarton/dp/B015HCKZ50/276-0325754-5544109?ie=UTF8&ref_=cm_sw_r_fa_awd_YBOixbHS5MWAF

Mini gamepad:

http://www.amazon.de/ELEGIANT-Fernbedinung-Fernsteuerpult-Controller-Fernbedienung-Schwarz/dp/B015PFONRK/ref=pd_bxgy_107_img_2?ie=UTF8&refRID=1MJFXKG2YKGGCYATQK2M

Cons:

  1. I have been surprised to find out it’s not really Google Cardboard compatible because it doesn’t have the magnet button that is necessary to press buttons in the virtual reality environment.
  2. The mini gamepad is not configured to act as a left mouse click by default. I had to reboot the gamepad by pressing reset with a nail on the rear side and pressing the upper start and lower A (circle) button simultaneously. The gamepad switch on the side has to be set to key as well.
  3. It’s almost impossible to play games that rely on precise head movements when sitting. I found myself looking to the side after starting in a straight forward looking head position while I should be looking still straight forward according to the virtual space. The Google Cardboard VR apps are using the built in phone’s sensors and have much worse head tracking in the sense of drift, lag, and jitter compared to a Samsung Gear VR.
  4. The sound comes out of the phone and is in a strange non centered position. It’s for sure no stereo.

Pros:

  1. The picture is very sharp in combination with my Note 4. On the Samsung Gear VR I experienced a certain blur that didn’t go away by adjusting the focus.
  2. There is no ghosting. On the Samsung Gear VR I had ghosting effects.
  3. VR video on YouTube is really fun to watch. I especially enjoy roller coasters 🙂
  4. There are some games like Deep Space VR that work well even with the sluggish head tracking.

 

 

IAB SafeFrame

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Last week I had the opportunity to present a relatively new IAB standard on a local ad industry event in Germany, the Admanagerforum (More: http://www.admanagerforum.de/). It’s a technology I highly anticipated and supported at Yahoo, the company I work for before it was even submitted to the IAB. I certified rich media vendors for it and made sure it rolled out properly across Yahoo sites in Europe and Middle East (EMEA). Some peopele say that too specific standards kill innovation in the online industry but in my opinion it’s the cure to many problems in online advertising. From security, ad fraud, code quality to billing and discrepancies. SafeFrame is an important step ahead in improving ad code quality in rich media ad tags, improving security for publisher sites and it provides the ability for billing based on viewable impressions too (finally accredited by the MRC). Ad fraud is something that’s more difficult in a SafeFrame environment as well. About half of the audience in the summit has been on DFP and Google recently implemented support for this in GPT so the feedback and interest was better than I expected. Approximately one third of the audience indicated interest in learning more about the topic later.

Enjoy this great infographic from the IAB website (http://www.iab.net/safeframe) and listen to my colleague Sean Snider, the software architectect who mainly developed SafeFrame at Yahoo and James Deaker explaining the viewablity aspect. My presentation in German is available here via OneDrive: http://1drv.ms/1CCLwcs

safeframes-infographic

Webseclab Web Security Scanner

dmitry

 

My colleague Dmitry opensourced Webseclab yesterday at FOSDEM in Brussels [1] – https://github.com/yahoo/webseclab – a sample set of tests for web security scanners, and a toolkit (or mini-mini-framework) to easily create or modify such tests or demos.  Take it for a test drive – it should be easy to install (using Go – need to set GOPATH environment variable to some directory like $HOME or $HOME/go):

go install github.com/yahoo/webseclab/...

Godoc: http://godoc.org/github.com/yahoo/webseclab

[1] https://fosdem.org/2015/schedule/event/go_web_security_scanner/

Congrats!

Amazon Fire HD 7 2014 (4th generation) review

2015-01-14_08-17-57 After my Medion (Lenovo) Lifetab E7316 7″ Android tablet broke because it felt down from the bedside table I started looking for a replacement. That said I found it astonishing how thin the glass on the screen of the Medion was. The tablet was inside a leather case when it felt down but not even that could save the glass from cracking. I never really considered the Kindle Fire HD models before because of the Amazon ecosystem but since several months I have Prime so I thought I give it a try. Some benefits like the free books access of Prime are available only on real Kindle devices and not through the Amazon App. Amazon also offered a 30 Euro discount on the new 2014 models during the Christmas sale so I went for a 16 GB 7″ Fire HD. After using it for about a month I can say I’m fully satisfied but there are some downsides too. Pros:

  • Powerful Texas Instruments OMAP 4460 SoC with 1,5 GHz (http://www.ti.com/product/omap4460). Amazon says it’s a quad core but it’s more of a dual core with two extra cores for low profile tasks. Dead Trigger 2 and Riptide GP 2 run smoothly.
  • Sharp 1280×800 screen with good view angles. Brightness can be turned up really well to deal with strong sunshine.
  • Excellent Dolby stereo speakers. Try putting the tablet on a table. It’s amazing because they are positioned in a way that it will boost the volume.
  • Awesome Wi-Fi reception. Where my other wireless devices fail the Fire HD manages to get a good signal strength.
  • Fast battery charging. I think I never saw any mobile device that charges so fast.
  • HDR-Capable camera with face recognition and video recording in 1080p.
  • Easy to use Fire OS based on the latest Android 4.4 with a favorite apps carousel, good on-screen keyboard and user accounts for family members. Amazon Instant Video that I get with Prime is nicely integrated.
  • Silk Browser. The browser is really fast and the compatibility is great.
  • Good choice of cases from third-party suppliers. I got one from iHarbort that fits really well.
  • Good support by email and phone but no video live chat. This might be US only.
  • Price. Even without the sale the regular price is really good compared to models by Samsung I.e.
  • 7″ and the black border together make the device perfect for holding in one hand. Even typing is possible with the thumb if necessary. Some might find the thickness of the device disturbing but I find it useful for holding it.
  • Last but not least the device is available in a range of colors and in the U.S. there is even a kids edition. This is not available yet in Europe apparently.

Cons:

  • Walled Garden. The App Store can’t compete with Google Play. You get the most important Apps but you can’t find everything in the Amazon App Store. The most recent titles like new games aren’t available either. The only good thing is that Amazon gives away free Apps from time to time. I also noticed Apps are a bit more expensive than in the Google play store.
  • No Google Apps like YouTube or Google Maps. Google seems to be pissed about Amazon using Android and putting Bing as the default search. There are alternative apps for the same though. The down side is that they are ad supported in most cases.
  • Battery doesn’t hold long but at least charges fast.
  • Buggy family profiles. In-App-Purchases can’t be transferred to a user profile although the App itself can be. Videos a family member records can’t get uploaded to the cloud storage. Family members can’t watch Amazon Instant Video.
  • Buggy Browser. Although it’s fast and renders sites correctly there are bugs like links not being opened from the Facebook app sometimes. Shared posts on Facebook get entered twice.

Here is a short hands on review by CNET: I highly recommend this Fire fan page with tons of tutorials and tips & tricks like side loading Google Play Apps without rooting: http://www.lovemyfire.com/