Again in sweltering heat, I am signing off for a bit of travelling, first to Liechtenstein until tomorrow evening, then back home for a night and off to London until Thursday night. Perhaps, I'll post, perhaps not, we'll see how it goes. To keep you entertained in the meantime, have a gander at the pics from my nephew Tomi's birthday party yesterday night. Note that this is the first time I actually used my full flickr bandwidth on purpose - yay!


Home for tea

The Royal Over-Seas League's members magazine Overseas (unfortunately not available online) has a nice article about a member's recent transatlantic journey on the tall ship Stavros S Niarchos. Particularly amusing is the part where they picked up two American women whose boat had capsized 16 hours earlier. So they hauled them on board and gave them a hearty English breakfast. Just imagine the situation: you're sitting in the water for 16 hours, fearing for your life, and then a pirates like tall ship turns up and gives you English breakfast ...


Originally uploaded by jared.
I guess my nephew Tomi will be able to make sense of this one. Happy Birthday!!

P.S. A great quote of Mark Twain I just came across: Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don't mind, it doesn't matter.


Military grade eyesight?

As a long-term reader of this logbook, you will know that I am interested in technology and its wider diffusion. So it won't be much of a surprise to you that I had my eyes checked about two years ago for whether it's possible to obtain a permanent correction of my bad eyesight.

Unfortunately my astigmatism combined with a rather thin cornea seems to not permit that for the moment. Otherwise I would have had it done in the blink of an eye, in a manner of speaking, which obviously is testimony to my confidence in technology. Just the other day, I talked to a guy who said he'd never do something like that. But why post about this now? Well, I just came across this NYT article describing how the US military uses this technology in its personel in a serial manner (via slashdot). Interesting!

P.S. Speaking of medical issues - do you know Dr. House, MD? I like that programme's twisted, cynical & humanistic attitude.


Do you recognise this? You should! It's a graphic representation of the link structure of this blog. You can get your own website of interest mapped here. It is particularly gratifying to watch the map blossoming (via Joel).

Back from Paris

Guilty as charged! I haven't blogged from Paris, even though I would have had the means and the motive, however the opportunity was in rather short supply. So then, here's a quick update - for photos, please go to flickr.

The train ride was a rather good, effortless experience to be repeated on future trips, even though I didn't quite get the TGV despite of having booked on said site, but I guess they wouldn't route that miracle of transport technology via Basle just for yours truly. I arrived in time, had an interesting luncheon meeting and subsequently a nice evening reception at the British Embassy as part of the Edinburgh University General Council meetings in Paris. It was good to see acquaintances from earlier events and meet new ones!

The event was continued with a formal lunch in the Cité Internationale Universitaire on Saturday. There was also a guided tour through this rather grand, albeit somewhat uninspiring collection of student halls. The evening found its conclusion with a Gala Dinner at the Restaurant of the French Senat, and a great chat with P. over an interesting bottle of Pelforth.

Sunday was dedicated to window shopping (in what kind of metropole do shops close on Sundays??) and discovering the streets until the train's departure. I think I quite like the Quartier St. Germain, where I discovered something very French, namely the Marché de la Poésie. This is a big open air affair where carefully and sometimes even artistically edited poetry is on sale in small editors' booths in front of Saint Sulpice. And what's even more French than that is the fact that the Marché has a podium discussion where alternatives to the market economy and more state intervention for the support of literature are demanded. It's surprising that those undoubtedly very intelligent people don't realise that with government funding of the arts comes stagnation, crustification and red tape.

On the way home, I read Le Figaro's interesting overview of who owns Paris (neither government nor church, surprisingly). Coïncidentally, the Magazine also had an article about traveling in Scotland. Nice! Last, but not least I discovered that my preferred newspaper is now available for complete download to all subscribers, so I had something else to entertain me on the long way back.


XP, c'est chic!

Well, you know what I mean ... but Parallels' Virtual Machine seems to be running really well!

I am signing off to go to sweltering Paris tomorrow far too early in the morning, staying until Sunday. Since I'll have this miracle of a machine with me, expect to read about it.


The last stand

Well, let's just say that I hope it really was their last stand (despite of some indications to the opposite - do stay until after the credits) ... I saw X-MEN III with T & P the other day. While I really liked the first two installments of this trilogy, the last stand was a bit of a disappointment. Story line and effects are grandiose, of course (amazing how the bad guys enter Alcatraz), but the characters don't really show any more development, even though the challenge to do so would clearly be there. Pity.

Technology Quarterly

Don't miss the Technology Quarterly in the current issue of The Ecconomist. There's loads of interesting stuff there - from music analysis algorithms to artificial artificial intelligence (i.e. man made, like Amazon's Mechanical Turk), life hacks and statistical approaches to (human) language translation. Oh, and did you know that while air travel is the safest mode of travelling if measured by incident per mile travelled, it is the second most dangerous one (after motorcycles) if assessed on a per-trip basis ...

Critical rationalism on the patio

I could get used to blogging from the patio, now that there is an excellent wireless connection! Ok, so let me bring it on ... although it's a bit embarrassing, really. It's well over a year that I reviewed volume 1 of Karl Popper's The Open Society & its enemies, but I can report completion of the second volume only now. It didn't take me so long because it was tedious reading, quite on the contrary!

It's fascinating to follow Popper's differentiated assessment of Hegel & Marx: Hegel gets the nuclear treatment while Popper finds many instances of agreement with Marx, which is rather surprising. But naturally, there is complete disagreement with regards to Marx's historicistic prophecies concerning the inevitable advent of socialism.

The most fascinating part are the closing chapters however, where Popper explains in some details his philosophical approach of critical rationalism. I think that his assessment of the sociology of knowledge and his rebuttal of the meaning of history still have an enormous political impact today. These two volumes are studied far too rarely!


Got that? Well, it's just the technical term for black lung which I noticed today on the A Word a Day widget.

This post is actually to announce that the Blackbook is in full operation now, rather than talk about occupational hazards. Admittedly, I struggled a bit to work around the harddisk failure that had occured involving my encrypted home directory, but all the files are safely transferred and backed up now - whew! When you have to do a manual batch file transfer sometime, just make sure that you not only use the identical username on the new system, but also that that user's UID is the same - sometimes, a bit of earlier UNIX exposure comes in handy ...

Otherwise, the new box works like a breeze!! It's amazingly fast, even with Office on Rosetta. The matte black finish looks very sophisticated and is actually reminiscent of the good old black Wall Street Powerbook, minus the curves. The glossy screen is a real beauty to look at, even in bright sunlight on the patio (none of those heat issues, either), where Airport reception is much better thanks to the non-metallic frame. Oh, and if you want to keep your iTunes library away from your home directory, then try this - it actually works perfectly!


FON: WiFi everywhere

Now there's an interesting project! FON aims to build a global WiFi community, based on a free community model. Everybody can join in (his ISP's terms permitting, which is an issue), sharing some of his bandwidth with other FON members (called Foneros) and thus obtaining the right to free usage of other FON access points worldwide. That is, if you're a Linus - a Bill does not need to share his bandwidth, but has to pay for access (that's obviously how the business modell works). Sounds like a very good idea, doesn't it. There's just two problems: You need software for your WLAN router, which is available only for a very limited number of routers, and evidently not for mine. And secondly, many ISPs (mine included) seem to prohibit sharing access ...


Ever heard (of) a Miolin? Me neither - until I heard it mentioned yesterday evening on DRS 2. Technically, I am talking about a 13 stringed guitar that has been developed by Messrs Chiavi and Miolin - which sounds wonderfully - but this instrument simply calls to be named a miolin, wouldn't you agree?

In other news, I have received word from my trusty purveyor of fine fruit that my recently ordered Blackbook has begun its long journey to its new home today, while in India, others have joined the club. Godspeed!

But this post would not be complete without mentioning my nephew's recently completed second part of his Playmobil pirate saga. But watch out - this time, it is a gory splatter movie! Don't believe me? Go check it out!

Alright. To top off the miscellaneous nature of this post, here is the story about the 2004 US election that is currently getting a lot of attention in the blogosphere. I have yet to read it, but I will, I promise.