Renewing MobileMe

On my last trip to London, I picked up a boxed MobileMe activation key at the Regent Street Apple store. On account of Sterling dropping like a stone, this works out substanially cheaper than renewing online in the local currency, and it actually works! Although I'll say that Apple doesn't exactly go out of its way to make it easy - the option is absent from inside your MM account. You have to use this link - which I obtained from MM support via a pleasant online chat. It was the first time I actually used that support feature, and it worked really well, so thanks for that!



This is quite a magic moment in Swiss TV, indeed - it's an interview with Harro von Senger, Swiss sinologist who popularised the Chinese 36 Stratagems in western thinking. In this programme, he discusses both the concept of stratagems as well as his most recent book Moulüe which reveals an ultra-long term, targeted thinking that is beyond what we consider to be strategic. The discussion, or rather, the somewhat clumsily scripted monologue is a useful first introduction into von Senger's subject. It is interesting to observe how very outlandish that subject appears to be to his interviewers, even though they have evidently done their homework. 

I've read Moulüe a while back, and I've been fascinated by the book. Von Senger's writing is chattier than his TV presence, meaning that it has its lengths. But these lengths are filled with a lot of erudite detail about Chinese literature and practice, so they are easily suffered. The concept itself of thinking "strategically" (for lack of a better word) over multiple generations with a view to a defined objective is quite an eye-opener, especially in conjunction with dialectical materialism as practised by the Communist Party. Many think that China has gone native with capitalism, but I have my doubts ...

The Switch

I just switched. But don't worry, I am still a Mac fan. Although the switch is PC-related, because I switched the vehicle of my virtual PC. Hitherto I used to be a Parallels customer, but now, I've taken advantage of VMware's CyberMondayDeal which is only valid today. You get their Fusion 2 product for 50% off, which is just about as much as the upgrade to Parallels' version 4 would cost. Since reviews give a slight advantage to VMware over Parallels, there's not much point in staying with Parallels because they seem to be milking their customer base all along the upgrade path, which VMware doesn't. 

Hurry, the offer is up just a few more hours ...


Loose that chill

On both of my recent trips to London, I've brought home a bottle of non-chill filtered single malt from the smallish duty free that is available at the City Airport - a 10 years old Ardbeg and a 16 years old Glenlivet "Nadurra". This is noteworthy because I think (I hope) it's indicative of a trend: distillers seem to increasingly loose the chill-filtering process. As a veteran member of the Scotch Malt Whisky Society, I've grown to love their stuff, all of which is cask samples, i.e. not chill filtered and undiluted. To me, chill filtering is nonsensical as it removes not just clouding factor caused by etheric oils, but also a major taste dimension that is fairly easily discernible to the palate. Luckily this realisation seems to be gaining traction. So, next time you are having a Scotch (or two), try the difference. You're not going to want to go back.


Google babble

With the new version 2.2 of its operating system, iBonePhone (that's my new wallpaper btw) has finally become a rock-solid, dependable everyday tool that does everything (& more) and is genuinely fun to use. The battery survives a full day of heavy use now, it doesn't crash, no dropped calls to date, the handling is responsive and smooth, and each day, you discover new things to do with it. Just check out the Google Mobile app, for instance: start it, lift it to your ear, state your search terms and listen to a soft babble for a few moments while Google does its thing until you're presented with the results for your query. The babble - it's just this sort of attention for minute, apparently superfluous detail that makes using it such an enjoyable experience. For my next trip to London on Wednesday, I'm not taking a laptop - enough said. 


Orange trickery

Kassensturz revealed that my mobile phone service provider Orange has just hiked their talk rates illicitly (via small print) by moving from precise (per second) charging to charging in ten second intervals. This amounts to a hidden rate hike that will increase their revenue by about 15 to 30 Mio CHF per annum, according to Kassensturz. The programme is fair enough to mention that both major competitors (sunrise and swisscom) already charge in ten second intervals, so Orange obviously came to the conclusion that their more favourable terms are not paying off in terms of ARPU and/or retention. Alas, I'll have to have a closer look at what's on offer when my contract comes up for renewal ... meanwhile, tish & pish to Orange!

P.S. Most strangely of all, Orange has managed to charge my iPhone only yesterday, a full four months after delivery. Thank you for that unexpected generosity, Orange!


The Ricola man, turbo-charged

A wonderful piece of self-irony, playing on virtually all stereotypes about Switzerland and the Swiss - enjoy!


J to L

The seventh of fourteen volumes of the Historic Encyclopedia of Switzerland (HLS) has just appeared - yes, they keep printing encyclopedias on dead trees. But it's all good - the full text of all articles is available simultaneously in German, French and Italian (and partially in Romansh, too!) and can be referenced directly. No pictures, though; strangely, they are reserved to the print edition. 

As an example, here's the article about eminent historian Jacob Burckhardt (1000 words), and here it is in the Wikipedia edition (1438 words, 2 pictures plus a number of links, among others to the HLS article). For good measure, Britannica invests 1791 words. True, the number of words is not relevant: I prefer an efficient (terse?) text over a verbose one any day, but why they would use quite so many abbreviations in the HLS is beyond me. I prefer the Wikipedia article for its more comprehensive overview of Burckhardt, whereas the HLS shines on the substance of Burckhardt's work. It's a pity, though, that the editors haven't recognised that printed encyclopedias are definitely a thing of the past. Yet, their key remit is to produce a printed encyclopedia. But then again, they are historians for a reason ...


Banksy's Pet Store ...

You know you're in for a treat when Banksy opens a pet store cum grill ... enjoy!


Global manners

The latest issue of Monocle has a fun little Global Guide to Business Etiquette travelling along in its sleeve. With its only 25 hints covering the globe, it may not be all that useful, but it is certainly well done and caters to a number of national stereotypes.



It's maddening - there he goes again! Will self is among the 40 London heroes interviewed in Time Out, and as discussed earlier, he uses a word I've never heard nor could make sense of in the context: inchoate. Do you know it? If not, here's the definition. 


Exhibiting literature

In between meetings on Tuesday, I went to see an exhibition about the Ramayana in Indian painting at the excellent Museum Rietberg in Zürich. Until now, I was only passingly aware of the Ramayana as an important part of non-European world literature, but thanks to that exhibition, I've gained a glimpse into an epic world I hardly knew existed. The glimpse was made that much more impressive by a live performance of Sanskrit actress Kapila Venu. The highly stylised and codified art form of Nangiarkoothu left me feel like an utter boor for not even having heard of it. But fortunately the exhibition helps to understand at least the Ramayana by displaying a sequence of Indian paintings from different periods and sources that is almost like a storyboard.

This reminds me of another exhibition about an important piece of world literature I saw, but never actually blogged. Earlier this year, Antikenmuseum had an exhibition about Homer, which has moved on unfortunately. As a once student of Latin and thus the antiquities, I felt much more comfortable with the object of that exhibition, i.e. there was much less to learn, but a lot of forgotten stuff to resurface. Nevertheless, I was most captivated by a one man show of H.-Dieter Jendreyko, reciting two books from the Iliad in a way that was probably very authentic. One man's unassisted (Homer didn't need Powerpoint) monologue in classical language for about an hour is well beyond today's regular attention span, but Jendreyko's rhapsodic was so lively and passionate that he never lost his audience for even a second. Great art, indeed.

P.S. Two things I've been wondering about: Why is Rama's skin blue? And why would Bharata refuse to become king?

New "pet"

Obviously, it's not, it's just a robotic vacuum cleaner. Yet it's weird to find oneself giving it a nickname and, worse, talk to it! Cold rationality is apparently only skin deep when faced with something small that moves about on its own, makes little noises and eats dust. It does that exceptionally well, btw. But the design and user interface could do with a shot of Apple ...


The way out of the moral matrix

Here's an excellent presentation about moral psychology. I particularly like the way in which the speaker comes across as very confident of his own political position despite of the apparent moral relativism (but it's actually moral humility) that he proposes. Being aware of and respecting your opponent's standpoint doesn't have to mean that your own position is weak.



Cool! I just remembered reading (NZZ) that craigslist has recently become available for Basel - and bingo, here it is! I guess this really gives us a boost in the metropolitan index.


The Dark Knight

On Sunday night, I went to see The Dark Knight, the latest movie theatre incarnation of Batman. I've spent entirely too much of my scarce teenage pocket money on Batman comics, so I still never miss the movie editions, especially since I really like Tim Burton's work as a director. Burton's Batman is an extraordinary rendition of the dark comic strip character executed with the means of motion picture, but doing justice to its origin as a comic hero.

The Dark Knight is very different. I think that Christopher Nolan, its new director recognised that Burton's version cannot be topped, so he changed tack completely. Where Burton's Batman does not claim to be anything else but an entirely fictitious comic hero, Nolan has transformed Batman to a contemporary political metaphor - the Batman of the 21st century, so to speak. Any similarities with real events and persons are fully intentional, I am sure. And let me say that it is all very well done, with one exception: the transformation of the state prosecutor from Gotham's white knight to a madman is less than authentic. The night is darkest just before dawn - which is scheduled for November 4th. 

Incidentally, this movie reminded me of a quote by Max Frisch that I've stumbled on the other day. It's from his New York lectures on journalism, I think, and I cannot recall it verbatim, plus it was in German: You can never describe truth, you can only reinvent it. I think this is quite true, as however much you try to be objective, your description is always a function of your perception and your values. Hence, the most honest (but maybe not the most efficient) way to go about describing the truth is to invent a story that transports clearly what you want to say. In that way, The Dark Knight has quite an unexpected lot of truth.


Ben's Cookies

My London trips have gained another regular stop: Shortly before departure, I'll go down to Ben's Cookies store at the South Kensington tube station to get a selection of freshly made cookies to take home. Absolutely delicious! I'm glad there's no outlet near where I live ...


Here hung those lips?

Interesting stuff, discovered via an episode of vernissage tv. Speaking of vernissage tv, this is rather disturbing stuff, coming from Russia ...


Snap, the fish got you!

I've always been interested in concepts like mosquito marketing, so when I was offered the opportunity to participate, I took it. The guys over at dot-friends offered a free snapfish collage poster if I would blog (fairly & honestly) about it, and so, here goes ...

It's about photocollage posters, a new snapfish offering. Naturally, I've tried it out, and it worked fine for me. The resulting poster is printed beautifully on high quality photo paper. Snapfish did, however, underperform in terms of delivery times: The promise was for the poster to be produced within 1-2 days; effectively it took them three. Mail was delivered in time.

As for the creation process online, I'll say that my enthusiasm is limited. Like I said, it all worked, but it worked in a PC (as opposed to Mac) kind of way: the process allows for very little in design creativity (photos can only be arranged in 90 degree angles, there is a fairly limited set of frame colours and frame strengths - that's it!). On top of that, the website design was not rendered well on Safari, as some of the buttons (important ones like OK) were missing - I had to guess! 

So, in conclusion, I don't think this is a product I will use again, as it isn't much fun to create, and you don't have many degrees of freedom in creating it. Nor is it a steal at CHF 25. Yet, I will keep snapfish bookmarked because they offer a range of less complex, but nice & useful products, such as picture cups, jugs and caps. 

Hmm, this is probably not the kind of review that my dot-friends were hoping for, but since I'm expected to give a review, the free poster I got is not a gift horse that you're not supposed to look in the mouth ...


Pascal's wager

Why are people still so impressed by Pascal's wager after all those centuries? Surely, if there were a god in any meaningful sense (i.e. omniscient and -potent), she would send him to the other place for thinking that he could deceive her by faking his faith. I guess that would count as pride ...

Clarity of mind

Via 43 Folders, I came across the essay Politics and the English Language by George Orwell. Written in 1946, its subject matter is just as current today, although complicated (and amplified!) by the fact that written language becomes increasingly obsolete in the immediacy of the spoken word. Does the written language still matter in politics, or would it enter the realm of the law with its own technicalities?



Originally uploaded by chdreyer
On Friday, I was in Hamburg for a meeting. It was the first time I was there, but unfortunately, I only had time for a sightseeing tour and a cup of coffee sitting at the Aussenalster. It was nice, and Hamburg made a favourable enough impression, with the one notable exception that I haven't found a free wireless access anywhere, not even in my hotel! What kind of a business hotel is it that hasn't understood, yet, that free wireless access is an indispensable amenity just like running water?



Wow - I want one! Not that I have anything to put in it, nor would my living room floor probably be sufficiently strong to support it, but I want one. 


myPhone to go

As of yesterday, I'm a happy owner of a black 16GB iPhone 3G with an Orange plan. That's why my "old" one (after all, it's all of three months old) is now up for sale here, and it already finds quite keen interest. Which is unsurprising because I've pwned it (there's a new word for you!) for OS X version 2.0 with the Pwnage tool and paying close attention to this and this indispensable tutorial. The procedure is not as fool proof as Ziphone's (which is not available yet), but that's less a matter of IT knowledge rather than of dexterity in hitting the right buttons at the right time ... good luck!

At this point, an upgrade to 2.0 is not urgent for iPhone classic owners who use a lot of installer apps, because most of them have not been upgraded to the new OS version, yet. But there is one case where it's advisable to upgrade, and that's if you want to sell it. Only version 2.0 has a safe delete feature with which you can remove safely all the information you've put on your phone. If you don't do that, the buyer can get access to all your info quite easily. So, for once, it's seller beware!

Swan Upping

Haven't we talked about Swans before? Here's an interesting video on HM Swans - enjoy!


Subscribe to keep

About a week ago, I subscribed to the download membership that is newly on offer at Magnatune. Magnatune is an extremely fair online music label with a selection & quality of classical music, jazz and world that is very much my cup of tea. With the download membership, it got that much better: for $54, you get three months of free download access to all of their program. Did I mention quality? You can choose between a number of different formats, including AAC and full quality WAV. Unlike with other subscription models, you don't loose your music when your membership expires. Very good value indeed!


Size matters!

This is a technology forecast of sorts. It is the result of using iPhone for the last few months, confirming my suspicion that iPhone indeed is the game changing device that it is heralded to be. Those who say that there's nothing new about it in technology terms are right, of course. But they suffer a very common geek mistake: it's not the feature set that counts, it is the mainstream ease of use of those features. Recently, I've had quite a enlightening insight into how that works when I showed my iPhone to a Lady in her seventies who had never even used a PC. Within minutes or less, she was happily zapping through photos, zooming & rotating, and she looked up stuff on the Maps app. I am pretty sure she is going to have one of her own soon, if they are available at all. I'm expecting my black 16 GB iPhone 3G with an Orange plan on Monday.

But that was no forecast, that's reality. iPhone shines because of its ingenious user interface with multitouch. As with every innovation, multitouch is now being tried on other devices such as laptops or computer screens. And here's my forecast: Those are going to fail utterly. Why? iPhone works because you hold it in your hand, so you can easily wipe its screen on your sleeve to get rid of those fingerprints. I'm doing that Monk-like almost whenever I use it. But try that with a laptop or - worse - a computer screen ... QED.


Email in Schönenbuch

Die Weltwoche ist zwar auch nicht mehr, was sie mal war (daher ist sie jetzt auch abbestellt), aber wenn sie schon die Gastrokritik eines der beiden Restaurants meines Wohnorts bringt, muss sie zitiert werden: "Email hat hier drin noch nichts mit elektronischer Post zu tun, sondern ist ein Schmelzüberzug, mit dem man vor Urzeiten Reklameschilder verzierte". Gute Idee - lies selbst.


Football craze

The Basle indigenous will hopefully be forgiven for thinking their home town to be the centre of the universe for the next couple of weeks. Not only is the high and mighty Art world currently assembled here, but even some football tournament is being kicked off as we type ... but don't expect to read anything more about it here. 


Apple pays

That was quick! Local newspaper BaZ seems to keep close tabs on the Apple-Suisa skirmish - we've reported earlier.  Now BaZ breaks the news that Apple has backed down on Saturday and will be paying up the millions that it has accrued in levies. But apparently not before getting a letter from a Swiss consumerism organisation demanding that Apple pays back the surcharge retained from consumers, should it be successful against Suisa. So that matter's settled - but Suisa continues to look into whether iPhone will be considered a media player that is subject to the levy.


Apple refuses to pay levy

This story is about our preferred purveyor of fine fruit, and I post it because I haven't seen it anywhere else - probably no netizen reads Basler Zeitung ... anyway: they have this story about Apple refusing to pay a blank media levy imposed on the sale of media players (i.e. the iPod) by Suisa (Swiss Society for the Rights of Authors of Musical Works). Apple apparently refuses to pay because their online store is located in Ireland and mails iPods directly to its Swiss clients and therefore, Apple thinks, it is not liable to pay. Suisa's levy on RAM-based media players used to be extremely hefty: until 1 April, the levy on a 32 GB iPod touch was CHF 153. Under heavy attack, Suisa decided to lower that levy unilaterally to 42 francs.

Now I am certainly no friend of Suisa's. Nevertheless, I think Apple's position in this matter is quite untenable. They claim that they never included any levy in the pricing of the players, yet the price difference between the Swiss Apple store and others magically is about equal to what the levy amounted to before it was lowered. And it hasn't been lowered still, so everybody who buys an iPod on Apple's Swiss online store is not very intelligent. This certainly does not generate much goodwill with clients either. What's more, Swiss VAT is applied to the goods sold online, and the store claims to be subject to Swiss law, so ... I'm guessing that the legal goings-on in a tiny province of Apple's vast realm (that doesn't even have the iPhone, yet - legally) has escaped the eye of Cupertino's lawyers so far. This is bound to change soon, and we'll hopefully see a levy refund to Swiss Apple Store clients soon.

Update: As this post creates so much traffic, I went back to check my facts and, lo & behold, the prices of the Swiss Apple Store have been brought back in line with the Euro pricing: CHF 719 (EUR 440) for the 32GB iPod touch, down from ca. 840 on last check. This is lower than the price at the German store (EUR 459), but not by as much as the roughly 10% points difference in VAT would suggest. The difference, again, is close enough to 42 francs. Therefore, the retail price includes the levy, but Apple refuses to fess up. Good policy? 


Xmas in a box

Here's the latest from Tomiland Studios ... enjoy!

Mr Bragg's bees

Here's a nice interview with Melvyn Bragg, host of one of my dearest podcasts, In Our Time. Why don't you take out a trial subscription?


The End of an Era

That image says more about the end of 68 than all the brilliant analyses taken together. Good job, LV! Their apparent concept of displaying iconic characters in their very own, private fin de siècle really plays out nicely.


Interesting numbers

Accumulated time spent on building Wikipedia ... 100'000'000 hours
Total time spent watching TV in the USA ... 200'000'000'000 hours per annum
TV time of global web-connected population ... 1'000'000'000'000 hours p.a.

That's what Clay Shirky calls Cognitive Surplus. An interesting thought indeed.


Alumni meeting

Yesterday, I went to a meeting of an Edinburgh alumni group at the Member's Room of the Swiss Scotch Malt Whisky Society in Schönenwerd. The group consisted of MBA alumni who were kind enough to invite us others, so we were a motley crew from different faculties and graduation years, and I happened to be the most senior of the lot, at least in terms of the graduation year. It was great fun to meet everybody, and I hope we will be able to do that again. The icing on the cake was that I got to see the Member's Room, which I've never been to despite of all the years that I'm a member.


Rule Britannica!

Coolness! Being the web publisher and blogger that I am, I have been accepted into Britannica's Webshare programme by virtue of this blog (among others). This programme gives its participants free access to Encyclopedia Britannica online and lets them (me!) share whatever article they fancy with readers - yes, you! So, here goes, and most appropriately to start with, hell! This looks like a great way to compete with Wikipdia - you better get used to the thought of not getting any more Wikipedia references from this source.


Oy, Google!

What have I done?? Since about 16 April, the amount of search based traffic that Google has directed my way has fallen off the cliff quite dramatically, as witnessed by the chart. Not that it matters much, as most of that traffic has been after the globe's most expansive posterior (I paraphrase, obviously), which I talked about in an early post, but it's strange anyway. Ah well, somebody else must have come up with a more relevant reference, then ...



Ever wondered what the golden disk aboard spacecrafts Voyager 1 & 2 contained? Unsurprisingly, you can find out online here.


The Ampersand

Ever since reading The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman ("learned wit" - bah!), I like using and (&) per se and in any language, whatever the rules - learn more about its meaning & history here. Thanks to kottke for the pointer!



Wow - this article in NZZ Folio reports the Xentonality work of William Sethares - with plenty of free music samples. It's experimental music of the best kind: strangely harmonic even though it defies all conventional rules of harmony. Fascinating!


The Distillery List

I am a veteran member (#303) of the Scotch Malt Whisky Society, Swiss Branch, and I enjoy their bottlings a lot, especially from distillery 1. I used to keep the distillery list online myself, but since you only get it when you join, it would be rather dated by now. So here I found a pretty current one - thanks Julian!


Change, please!

How come most everything that the Brits do turns out in style? I'm definitely looking forward to getting my mitts on those shiny beauties next time I'm in London. Thanks to the Royal Mint's picture (watch the video - a modern classic in the making), I've now even understood the scheme that the coinage follows. You get multiple "dimensions" in terms of material (brass, nickel, copper), format (thick / thin, large / small / tiny) and shapes (round, heptagonic). While this baroque richness of form is not exactly in line with Bauhaus' form follows function, it probably harks back to the days of pounds, shillings and pence before D-Day on 15 February 1971. One wonders for how long this opulent memory will linger. (via DF)


Homer singt Tod und Klingen, zaubert Hexameter durch die Jahrtausende, sechs Hebungen pro Vers, über jede rumpelt der tote Körper Hektors, den Achill in seinem Zorn vor den Mauern Trojas herumschleift. Wie Blitze zucken altgriechische Grosssbuchstaben am Himmel über den Helden, OΔYΣΣEYΣ bohrt sich als zischheisser Pfahl ins Auge des Riesen Polyphem. Pfähle, Lanzen und steil ragende Phalli - und jetzt also soll Homer ein Eunuch gewesen sein?
Ein literarisches Fundstück besonderer Güte aus Stefan Zweifels gelungener Kolumne zur Sonderausstellung Homer, die ich ganz bestimmt besuchen werde. Schliesslich: Honi soit qui jaune y pense.


April revisited

This one is perfectly worthy to be listed with its predecessor. Don't you just love the penguins taking off? This may also signal the beginning of a humouristic examination of global warming, which is awfully scarce.

Screw Yoga

This is excellent stuff!


One down ...

Six more to go of the Seven New Wonders of the World! Here are the pictures of my recent trip to Jordan. Most of them are of Petra, one of the aforementioned wonders. To my shame & surprise, I have already visited half of the runners-up, but only one of the actual wonders to date.

Without a doubt, Petra is an amazing place, incidentally re-discovered by a fellow countryman in 1812. You can check the place out much more comfortably than him by using Google Earth with its great coverage. I am not sure whether this is going to work, but if it does, you'll get directed to Petra by clicking here for Petra.kmz. Have fun!

Some other pictures are of the Dead Sea (very dead, indeed - note the complete absence of boats), and of Amman, Jordan's capital (quite alive, actually). When in Amman, don't miss to go to Darat al-Funun, a rather surprising and relaxing place. Kudos to The Rough Guide to Jordan for pointing me there!

The journey on Lufthansa was ok, considering that I lost a day because my feeder to Frankfurt was cancelled without replacement. It's really hard to understand why all major airlines get very odd arrival/departure times (ca. 0230h), which is quite a bit of hassle. Especially when you're at the airport early, fully expecting that you can while away your time in the lounge. No such luck - you're not getting in because the check-in counters will not be manned. Jordanians are certainly a very friendly and congenial people, but it is noticeable that tourism hasn't been among their core competencies ... but that will happen before long.

My impressions of the place are complex. It's obviously an Arab country (the first I've been to!) with all the behavioural trappings of the culture, although moderated by a strong influence of the pragmatic Palestinians. Most impressive, though, is the mixture, or maybe partially the overlay, of the different influences that have accumulated over time from both invaders and refugees: Roman, Ottoman, Palestinian, even Circassian! I was particularly interested in trying to discover the remnants of the Ottoman empire, which I've been fascinated by on my trips to Istanbul. The Arab perspective is significantly different. And I'll just mention Lawrence ... Aqaba!!

This post is in part-fulfilment against a friendly complaint that I don't post enough about my trips, which I cannot deny. But I'll try to do better, promise!


A stroke of insight

The whole neuro-whatever business is rather fashionable these days, I know. But this first-hand experience presentation is genuinely fascinating, despite of the somewhat distracting accent ...


Locate me

Locate me is easily one of iPhone's hottest features: In the Maps application, that's what it does, and it does it swiftly without recourse to a slow response, battery hogging GPS. iPhone does it by using Skyhook technology, which maintains a geo-referenced database of WLAN hotspots and cellphone towers.

There's only two minor issues with that approach. Yesterday evening, I was enjoying a pizza in Manchester, UK - at least according to Locate me, I was. Unfortunately I was just about 3km from home. And the next is that Skyhook's coverage is somewhat sketchy in Europe, meaning that it won't usually work. Unless, that is, you submit the hotspot of your choice to Skyhook. The only thing you'll need is a bit of patience as it takes Skyhook a few days to update their database, your router's MAC address and your location. Which naturally seems to make the whole exercise a bit pointless, I admit, but isn't it great to show off the neat feature in the safety of your own home? Thought so ...


Bored of the dance

Surely, some fellow travellers on my train trip to Zurich yesterday must have thought me nuts as I was smiling and sniggering to myself while I was listening to Stephen Fry's latest podgram edition on the iPhone. I'm so perfectly with him on his innate aversion to dancing that it's uncanny! Why don't you subscribe to it yourself - he's utterly dry and funny.



This is the first blogpost I'm creating on my new iPhone, lying on my bed in NYC. And it works great!
Too bad the 16GB model is sold out, but hey, you can't have it all!


The Two of Us

My niece's new album is out: The Two of Us on her very own label Polly Maggoo Records. I think her style might be classified as punk rock, but I could be wrong, of course (I most probably am, anyway). I admit, I am struggling to get my auditory canals around it, which is not surprising as our tastes in music were always quite different. But this album is different somehow. Whereas I hitherto used to dismiss Lili's music as art of noise with barely any discernible structure (to me!), here she goes and produces something that is almost close to melodic! She ends the album in a rather chamber music inspired mood With a picture - genius! A pity it's not on her MySpace ...


Swiss iPhone 2.0?

So, there will be an announcement during the Mobile World Congress that Swisscom will start selling a UMTS capable version of the iPhone in the Swiss market come 29 February 2008. This is the gist of several recent reports quoted by Macworld UK. The sources appear to be rather good and the news would be perfectly plausible as well. 

This report changes my shopping plans (as well as those of four more family members, I guess) as I had every intention to get an iPhone in London tomorrow, to use it jailbroken. And I still would, just to avoid the incredibly cheeky Suisa surcharge levied on Swiss music players, if there wasn't the likelihood of a new version imminent. But as I will be in London again during said Congress, I can still get it, should the announcement fail to materialise. In any case, I am looking forward to having an incredibly durable iPhone on either 14 or 29 February ...


Change is pain

Here's an interesting piece about the Neuroscience of Leadership. It is particularly interesting because it does away with a lot of received wisdom in management literature. The salient points are:
  • Change is pain
  • Behaviourism doesn't work
  • Humanism is overrated
  • Focus is power
  • Expectation shapes reality
  • Attention density shapes identity
I am not sure that the authors' statement that the brain is a quantum environment really holds, though - an electron is certainly not an atom-sized entity. Nor do quantum effects usually apply in the "chemical" world.


10.5.2 imminent

Cupertino has just blessed us with upgrades to all elements of the iWork '08 suite of applications, quoting compatibility issues with Mac OS X that need addressing. As I haven't noticed any compatibility issues with 10.5.1, that can only mean one thing, I guess ...

In other Mac related news, I can report a successful conclusion of an experiment. The other day I read about a guy who had his white USB keyboard washed in his dishwasher, and it came out squeaky clean and working. Since my bluetooth keyboard is a real mess and I don't need it anymore anyway (upgraded to the new flat iMac kb, remember?), I thought, heck, why not give it a try. So to the dishwasher it went, in the eco programme and without detergent (that's important, I think). Now it's really seriously clean, and after waiting for two weeks to complete the drying, it works perfectly. So, it's ready for auctioning!


A Swiss iPhone

Please sign this petition, asking Apple and Swiss mobile phone companies Orange, Sunrise and Swisscom for a release date of the iPhone in the Swiss market! 


Sounds like fun!

"Our business model is one of very high risk: We dig a very big hole in the ground, spend three billion dollars to build a factory in it, which takes three years, to produce technology we haven't invented yet, to run products we haven't designed yet, for markets which don't exist.

"We do that two or three times a year."


Essential watching

This is essential watching for every Anglophone who stares blankly at continental Europeans quipping about the same procedure as last year. The video is a 1963 Swiss-German co-production that is traditionally aired on virtually every TV station on the last day of the year.


Wallpaper* Basel

A while back, I got the Wallpaper City Guide Basel, among others. The fact alone that this guide exists had me surprised, as Basel is not exactly a hotspot of urban culture, with the occasional exception confirming the rule, of course. So, insofar as a city guide is a review of a city, this is a meta-review.

First, let's drop some names from the Urban Life section (this is the useful part): Stucki Bruderholz, Le Lertzbach (just across the burn, btw),  NT/Areal, Acqua, Fumare Non Fumare, Chez Donati, Grenzwert, Campari Bar, Coumou (already closed), Das Schiff, Bar Rouge, Johann, Nuovo Bar, Eo ipso, Noohn. I'll admit straight away that about a third of the names I have yet to try, so coming from a native, that is already a compliment. The other places are definitely top rated in town.

The Wallpaper City Guide is quite a useful small (very!) companion catering to the urban chic city traveller who doesn't care much for the jetsam that traditional guides provide. In that, it is also handy for the native who might discover a new gem or two in the place she calls home.


Good stuff!

If you ever happen to need a simple, efficient tool to produce maps, here it is!

Sometime along the way to Mac OS X, I lost touch with SETI@home, the experiment that uses Internet-connected computers in the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence. Meanwhile, you can even use your spare CPU cycles in the screen saver to help calculate climate change models. How cool is that?!



One of the lasting effects of last year's trip to South Korea is the CD with traditional Korean music by Hwang, Byungki which I bought at Seoul airport. Hwang is considered a key authority and performer on the gayageum. The album I got entirely at random is called Darha Nopigom, and it turns out to be one of the best buys in a long time. Unfortunately, it is not available on Amazon or anywhere else I looked. The only similar album I found is this.

As expected, the music is quite foreign to our ears - yet it is very melodic with a vibrant rhythmic structure. I can listen to it time and again, and I still hear new,  intricate details - the hallmark of quality, I guess. As an added bonus, it always reminds me of the concert I attended at Korea House.

Oh, and speaking of last year: Happy New Year to my dear reader(s)!!