The “Everybody has such a thing at home” game

Yesterday we arranged a virtual Christmas party via teams in the team. In the end it was 4 hours of games, gifts and entertainment, it was really nice – within the actual range of possibilities. In the process, we invented a game that I’m happy to share with you. And it goes like this:

The host names items that you have to get in your house. Run, search, find, then:

  1. Hold the object briefly in front of the camera
  2. Write the requested name in the chat
  3. Now as evidence hold up the object again

The 3 quickest will be ranked, it is important that the written word in the chat window matters. Remember to clear the chat window before the first round. If necessary, turn off the background effect, because it hides objects. And please also take barriers out of the running path, please take off cable handsets carefully and remember, it’s just a game. Run through the house with care and caution.

The game starts with very simple objects. For example, a tea bag, the moderator now says “I need the flavor of a tea bag in the chat” now you run out, get a tea bag, hold it briefly in the camera and type in “chamomile”, “winter apple dream” or similar.

Now in the progress of the game there are items that not everyone has in the household. Then get some substitute, be as creative as possible. If you don’t have a tea bag, then coffee beans or a bottle of iced tea or, or,…. Whether your substitute items are valid or whether there is even a place 4 for particularly creative substitute, that decides only the host. The players are of course allowed to tell the moderator off or to influence the decision. I can already tell you that drawings of the objects or even pictures searched by cell phone on the Internet hardly have a chance with me.


But be careful, it can also be 2 items that belong together, e.g. shoe and socks. The host will always announce it so that you can run after the second item. “I need 2 items, in the chat please type the color of a shoe and don’t forget to bring a sock”.

Also with what you need to type in, it can be brand names, properties, colors, weights or memories. The moderator always holds examples of the items in the camera and, while you are still looking for them, types them in as examples for his objects. If you have forgotten whether to type in the brand name of your shoe or the color, look in the chat, it will say “black” if the moderator has held up a black shoe plus sock.

And by the way, don’t rush off, sometimes it is faster to reflect. With socks and shoes, most people will just have to hold their leg up to the camera. Don’t forget to type in “brown” very quickly. The order in the chat counts. And please everyone, do not cheat, some people are tempted to write the word in the chat and get the objects afterwards. The game is for fun and the host can not keep his eyes everywhere.

I hope you like this idea, if you need anything else, examples or a rating matrix, contact me. I’ll be happy to share it.

Forgotten milestone of a magnificent journey

I am a fan of certifications, acquiring knowledge, taking demanding exams, obtaining a certificate and then applying the knowledge. On this trip things were different, but thanks to a kind colleague I walked back for a moment, took the certificate and was very happy about it, because it gives me the rare opportunity to look back.

It’s about a journey we took as a team, and lean management was one of the orientations. We changed a lot because we wanted it that way and many good ideas emerged from outside. In 2016 we organised a training Lean Sense&Respond in Germany, because some of us found it very exciting. This is a set of methods created by Fujitsu for Service Management. But my team consists of consultants, which is probably the reason why it was so exciting.

In the coming months and years we attempted to adapt the methods for us, made mistakes, learned, stood up again, improved and failed better. And whenever you doubted yourself, there was always someone in the team who had the energy to go one more try and took you with them.

In retrospect, I can only say that adopting these methods was like a catalyst for developing a culture in a team. As an obvious example, all “concerns” (obstacles in daily work) were initially assigned to me, a normal consequence in a hierarchical system. Until we all realised that it would not work that way because it was too many points for one person. Today, team members find such obstacles and remove a lot of them by themselves, sometimes even problems from the category involving hierarchy. So basically problems that could be easily assigned to me. “We analysed the problem, worked out three solutions and made an appointment with the business unit involved. Can you please attend.”.  Yes, I am happy to attend, thanks for preparation.

Since these problem fixing actions and solutions are usually clearly structured and offer alternatives, we are much less likely to encounter a negative response than before. A team of consultants is working on many projects at the same time, so there are quite a lot of obstacles in our work, which are cleared away with a fantastic speed. Everybody in the team is motivated to tackle, so you can surely imagine what a positive influence this has on our work. Looking back, it seems to me quite stupid to pass all these obstacles through one person “the boss” as a bottleneck. So I can concentrate on the problems that lie in the hierarchy or are new territory. In other words, putting my back into the right direction.

Certain decisions that seem absolutely logical or even necessary from today’s perspective were not so clear to me at that time. The most outstanding example here, arising from the question of why we have so few female applicants (and thus team members), we were able to hire four great female consultants in a row and I am sure there will be even more in the future. Today we all know that this decision constitutes an absolute enrichment of our competence. I even believe that the biggest doubters of this undertaking have now grown into biggest fans.

Decisions in general, I just find it amusing when in a movie the heroes always do everything better than their team. Imagine chief engineer “Scotty” who fixes, improves and solves everything on the starship Enterprise as a sort of one-man-show. Even though he has technicians who stand beside their aggregates every day and are much more proficient with them. Scotty should encourage his young technicians now and then as a coach. Okay, it’s only fiction. Apart from supporting individuals, we also have the challenge of rapidly developing technology. To make predictions for the future here is wonderfully balanced in a team, more brains more guts. Sticking to decisions is a matter for the management, finding decisions in complex contexts it is better placed in expert teams.

On the topic of efficiency, which is one of the main topics of Lean, I can only report amazing things. We help and support and improve each other, we are often the swiftest and have increased overall performance many times fold. At least if you take internal and external customers as a benchmark. Here, too, a great cooperation with our service management neighbours has been established. When I read headlines today “Companies want to go back to the offices to gain back control over their employees”, I wonder as if we were living in a very different world. I don’t control, I offer my help and try to keep up with how everyone is doing. Here I would also like to thank the team, because we all look after each other. Personal crises, whether small or big, are part of our lives, we are there and stand in for each other, so that we can at least give each other some comfort here. One last sentence in order to control, if something is important to me, I work along like everyone else.

I’m just realising I’ve had a wonderful journey, I could tell you a couple more paragraphs about it. Maybe I will write on the challenges in the future. The work for all of us is not getting less, just different. Getting efficient is great, being efficient can be a burden. In any case, I thank him for the suggestion to take the “Bronze Certificate” after all. Even though we are probably already “silver” consultants somehow. We will take care of that too and I promise that this time it will not take four years. Here it is:

P.S.: If you want to know where the journey is heading. In autumn 2019 and January 2020 we did an Agile training as a team 🙂 Although I stick to the initial words, even Agile is just a way to inspire culture.

Boy, is IT complicated! Really IT?

„You do IT” or similar beginnings of conversation are very common to me for years now. After those opening words colleagues and friends tell me about their adventures with IT. How complicated it all is and that IT was meant to simplify life, etc. An example story goes like this, names and roles were intentionally left out.

User: “I change to the purchasing department on December 1st and have to apply for a user in the EiKaSys42 system”.
IT: “That’s what you should do in the UserPortal, I’ll copy the link in the chat for you”
User: “I have already searched there”.
IT: “Ah, okay, I’ll take a look… You can find it at Misc→external→purchasing→process→role”
User: “OK, Thanks”
…10 minutes later
User: “I cannot submit the form without the entry in the fields AssKeyU, EiRoMan and HerNoMo. Also my employee ID does not fit into the field.”
IT: “That’s where you enter your international employee ID, which is 6 digits long. AssKeyU stands for the key user assigned to you and EiRoMan for the division. I don’t know what HerNoMo is either, I’m just IT”.
User: “But I don’t know a key user or division, nor have I ever heard of an international employee ID”.
IT: “I can’t help you with this, I am only responsible for IT”.

You probably also know such a famous relay race, especially as a new staff member or with new procedures. Sometimes it takes days to gather all the information or users simply guess entries which leads to a lot of trouble later on.

Another common scenario is a business department provides an automated process that users must perform once a year or even less. This machinery then queries similar cryptic entries, temporary results cannot be saved and help fields contain very luminous entries such as “In the HerNoMo field you must enter the HerNoMo of your division without leading zeros”.

Who is really the problem there? From the user’s point of view the problem is often “the IT”, because otherwise they wouldn’t tell me these stories. But this is not quite accurate. Yes, a decent IT could be more consultative. It would be very nice if a consultant team in IT didn’t dump all nonsense into portals and workflows without involving affected end users and extensive user stories. Often such a procedure is rushed in as the last action before a new business application is introduced, without much trial and error.

However, it is also the responsibility of the departments to keep entries to a minimum. To provide a docket and a contact person for new employees. In my opinion – at least from the point of view of the company as such – it doesn’t make sense to throw non-specialist employees into specialist processes. The working time wasted there due to ignorance of the processes, the (non-intuitive) operation of specialized applications and incorrect, misplaced entries could easily be put into a back office that asks the user appropriate questions and serves him courteously.

So do me a favour and build systems and portals that are user friendly even when it comes to non-IT processes. The users will thank you.

Kubuntu 20.04 on an Fujitsu Esprimo Q558

I replaced the old Esprimo Q9000 by a new machine, my choice was a Q558 because of a good offer. The Q558 comes with an Intel® i5-9400T, 8 GB RAM, 256 GB SSD and no operating system. The machine is Zero-Noise designed, the fan runs a few minutes after start, then it is quite. The processor is astonishingly powerful, just video rendering using ffmpeg produced enough heat to let the fan rotate. For me quite unusual this is a brand new machine, I usually like to buy refurbished 3-12 month old hardware. Beside one power management quirk, all works very well running Kubuntu, but read the details:


This page describes my personal experiences with my hardware only. This is nothing official from any vendor! I am not responsible for anything you do with your hard- and software. For any support contact the respective vendors! Please respect the legal notice.

Who should read the following description? The machine runs mostly „out-of-the-box“. All the rest is due to you. Be willing to learn, follow instructions form Ubuntu geeks, accept to fail and start again.

A good resource for hints, tips and questions is


I used the SSD from my old machine, you do not need any tool for this. It is very easy, but better safe than sorry, you find a “ESPRIMO Q558/Q958, System Upgrades and Repairs”-Guide at read the manual.

Open the case on the top by pressing the clip and slide the cover, then open the mount (drive cage) carefully, there it is. Memory extension would be the bottom cover.

Monitor, PC and lamp is powered via socket board with switch. To avoid the short run-up after power is back, I changed the BIOS option “Power Failure Recovery” to “Disabled”.

Installation of Kubuntu 20.04 „Focal Fossa“

Installation runs smoothly, no binary drivers needed. Beware there is a power management issue, I had no problem during the installation, nevertheless maybe if you install unattended and come back to a frozen machine, better add “pcie_aspm=off” as boot parameter. Press “e” for edit, in the GRUB menu, which is the black screen menu right after start.

The system seemed fine, but after entering some power management state the system came back nearly frozen, eating hell a lot of resources.

less /var/log/syslog

showed a lot of those entries

Jul 19 11:26:38 q558 kernel: [ 2458.685052] pcieport 0000:00:1c.0: AER: Corrected error received: 0000:00:1c.0
Jul 19 11:26:38 q558 kernel: [ 2458.685123] pcieport 0000:00:1c.0: AER: PCIe Bus Error: severity=Corrected, type=Data Link Layer, (Transmitter ID)
Jul 19 11:26:39 q558 kernel: [ 2458.685125] pcieport 0000:00:1c.0: AER: device [8086:a33c] error status/mask=00001000/00002000
Jul 19 11:26:39 q558 kernel: [ 2458.685126] pcieport 0000:00:1c.0: AER: [12] Timeout

There is an issue with Active State Power Management (ASPM), means I switch it off and wait for system or Linux updates to try it again.

sudo vim /etc/default/grub

add “pcie_aspm=off” to the following line:
GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT=”quiet splash pcie_aspm=off”
save the grub file and

sudo update-grub

reboot whenever you like.

++ Graphics card

„Intel® UHD Graphics 630“ works with the correct resolution and 3d support. The open source intel driver seems to be fine

++ USB

All functioning.

++ Network – LAN

The cable „Realtek Semiconductor Co., Ltd. RTL8111/8168/8411 PCI Express Gigabit Ethernet Controller“ interface runs.

No WiFi or Blutooth in my configuration of the machine.

++ Audio

„Realtek ALC671“ is doing the job as designed. As soon as you connect a device like loudspeakers pulseaudio switches the profile.

LSPCI Listing

00:00.0 Host bridge: Intel Corporation 8th Gen Core Processor Host Bridge/DRAM Registers (rev 07)
00:02.0 VGA compatible controller: Intel Corporation UHD Graphics 630 (Desktop)
00:12.0 Signal processing controller: Intel Corporation Cannon Lake PCH Thermal Controller (rev 10)
00:14.0 USB controller: Intel Corporation Cannon Lake PCH USB 3.1 xHCI Host Controller (rev 10)
00:14.2 RAM memory: Intel Corporation Cannon Lake PCH Shared SRAM (rev 10)
00:16.0 Communication controller: Intel Corporation Cannon Lake PCH HECI Controller (rev 10)
00:17.0 SATA controller: Intel Corporation Cannon Lake PCH SATA AHCI Controller (rev 10)
00:1c.0 PCI bridge: Intel Corporation Cannon Lake PCH PCI Express Root Port #5 (rev f0)
00:1f.0 ISA bridge: Intel Corporation Device a315 (rev 10)
00:1f.3 Audio device: Intel Corporation Cannon Lake PCH cAVS (rev 10)
00:1f.4 SMBus: Intel Corporation Cannon Lake PCH SMBus Controller (rev 10)
00:1f.5 Serial bus controller [0c80]: Intel Corporation Cannon Lake PCH SPI Controller (rev 10)
01:00.0 Ethernet controller: Realtek Semiconductor Co., Ltd. RTL8111/8168/8411 PCI Express Gigabit Ethernet Controller (rev 0c)

LSUSB Listing

Bus 002 Device 001: ID 1d6b:0003 Linux Foundation 3.0 root hub
Bus 001 Device 003: ID 04d9:1603 Holtek Semiconductor, Inc. Keyboard
Bus 001 Device 002: ID 1a81:2205 Holtek Semiconductor, Inc. Laser Mouse
Bus 001 Device 001: ID 1d6b:0002 Linux Foundation 2.0 root hub

BIOS version

V5.0.0.13 – R1.24.0 (06.05.2020)

Any hints?

Please send me any hints, new tips, report errors, etc. via comment below. Please no support requests, thanks!


Fujitsu support, bios updates and documentation:

Camera, DSLR as a webcam for zoom, teams, jitsi and co.

It is quite impossible to record three people standing at a distance of 1.5 metres with a common webcam in a zoom meeting. When a typical webcam is placed far enough away so that all persons fit into the picture, the fixed focus kicks in. The picture is blurred and in our case, there was only little light. Another detail that should not be forgotten is the webcam’s USB cable length.

To be prepared for the next time and because it is a nice gadget, I remembered that there are beta drivers for some Canon DSLRs to use them as a webcam.

Be aware though that your camera was most likely not designed for use as a webcam and may degrade when used as a webcam. Please check with the camera manufacturer if and how your device is suitable for this purpose. Use this report at your own risk.

Starting point for my research were two websites: A guide for Linux using gphoto2 and the Canon Webcam Utility Beta drivers. There must be a cheap second-hand camera that is on the list of supported cameras of gphoto2 as well as supported by Canon on Windows or Mac. Please note, these beta drivers are only available from Canon USA and in the USA the camera models are sometimes called differently than ours. For example the Canon “EOS 1300D” I acquired is called “EOS Rebel T6” in the USA.

At second-hand dealers an EOS 1300D costs from about 200 EUR. My camera comes from private ownership, less than 2 km away with two zoom lenses and under 1.000 shutter releases.

Canon DSLR als Webcam

The camera worked immediately with Linux using the above instructions. Oddly enough, the resolution provided by the camera is 1056×704 (at about 20-25 fps). Under Linux, the camera controls are not available on the camera, but can be controlled via gphoto2. The mode dial should be set to “P” or “Auto”, in the video setting little changes except that the frames per second (fps) drop to about 15. Set the lens to manual focus “MF” and adjust the focus on the lens ring. The camera is now available as a resource under Zoom, Teams, Jitsi and Co. This also works in parallel e.g. for local recording of the video.

EOS1300D under Linux in VLC

Using Windows, the camera only showed a kind of splash screen with the words “EOS Webcam Utility BETA”. Uninstalling all the other Canon tools actually helped and a live image came up. This time the resolution is 1280×720, set the camera to “video” using the mode dial and it remains partly operable e.g. autofocus. In VLC, Skype and Zoom the video is square with black bars on the sides, so it’s more like 720×720. The microphone of the camera will not work in both versions.

Possibly you’ll find out which part of the EOS Utilities actually has to be uninstalled or if you can’t put the tools to sleep. Simply terminating the EOS Utilities was unfortunately not enough for my installation (EOS Webcam Utility Beta 0.9.0 for Windows 04/28/20). Beware some users report that this solution does not work with every video software.

Update, the EOS Webcam Utility is currently available in version 1.1, so it is no longer in beta status.

EOS1300D unter Windows im VLC
EOS1300D under Windows in VLC

This camera provides a resolution of 1920×1080 (Full HD) in the built-in video mode, i.e. when you film with the camera itself and record to the SD card. I suppose that the webcam resolution is basically a kind of preview image for computer-assisted shooting (tethered shooting).

The webcam scenario

Having a zoom lens on your webcam is truly unique. Unfortunately, such a camera is a bit too heavy to be hung on the top of the monitor like a webcam via clip. So you need a travel tripod or a mini tripod. With my space conditions and the rather lightweight EOS1300D a mini tripod on the windowsill would be great. But this is very tricky to position the camera due to the construction. I bought a gooseneck tripod that can support the approx. 750g camera with lens and allow the camera to be placed behind or next to the monitor.

It’s worth buying an external power supply or rechargeable batteries. I emptied a battery charge in one evening testing. In a video conference, I estimate the battery to last one to a maximum of two hours. A camera power supply unit costs about 20 EUR in the open aftermarket.

A 2 m USB extender cable helps to place the camera a little further away from the notebook in the room. With gphoto2 even the connection via WLAN might work, but I haven’t tried it yet.

For unknown interiors it is worth taking some lighting with you, as existing lighting might not be flicker-free or not sufficient.


The DSLR webcam hobby solution is especially suitable for people who already have a camera or use the SLR camera for their actual purpose.

For my goal of a hobby video conference with several people in one room, such a DSLR solution with a matching zoom lens is also excellent. The camera is even useful for taking photos or videos before and after the conference to document it. Including all necessary parts I kept costs below 250 EUR, that’s what a very high quality webcam would cost.

Actually, I thought that these cameras would then also provide Full HD as a webcam, but if you look at the transmitted video resolutions during web conferences, 1056×704 is more than sufficient.


+ Amazing possibilities compared to a normal webcam
+ Inexpensive if second-hand camera
– Needs some time to set up
– Needs space on the desk
o Reuse of an existing camera