Life in Paris, my universe and potentially everything

Back in Business

Everyone who has known me for at least a few days or for some other reason had a conversation about motorbikes with me probably remembers that my last motorbike got stolen in Paris about four years ago which I’m still somewhat annoyed about. But now – only four years later – I’m happy that a replacement has finally been found:


Thanks to this and above all Christian H. I finally got to explore the region south of Zürich a little more:

Größere Kartenansicht

Definitely worth having a good look around – and still so many places to see…

Odd Combinations

Just to show I was actually serious about picking up on writing things in here, another post (even if only a short one).

The picture below was taken on my way to work:

Is it just me, or does that make any else wonder if this might a subtle way of hinting on what they think of people asking questions? Or rather the quality of the info to be had? Anyway…

PS: and yes, that black box on the right is not exactly pretty I’ll look into getting that sorted out over the weekend.

It’s been a while…

…since the last post and there’s been quite a few things going on, including getting settled in Zürich and the the new job which took a bit of time and energy and is the cheap excuse totally reasonable and valid rationale for not writing anything in about 15 months.

The good news in this is that there are a few things to write about, above all of course Switzerland and how you think it’s somehow similar to Germany, but really isn’t. Anything about that topic will go in the category named “Swissbits”, which has no connection to the company behind (as in “saved by the dot”) they’re actually in the computer memory business, even if that might not be the first thing that comes to mind.

Adieu Paris, Grüezi Züri!

As most people who know me probably know already it finally happened. After almost five and half years my time in Paris is finally up and I moved away about three weeks ago to start a new job in Switzerland or Zürich, to be more precise. Given that the original plan was to return to Munich after 14 months this is probably the latest I have ever been for anything (1540 days, in case you don’t want to do the math yourself…).

Paris is probably always going be one of my favorite cities in the world (if not “the favorite city”) and thus I left with mixed emotions, sad to be leaving on the one hand, but also happy and really excited about the job. So this is me leaving Paris by train on Oct 18th…

…and arriving in Zurich, main station about 4 and a half hours later. The Swiss were so nice as to put up a small version of the Oktoberfest inside the station when I arrived, so I immediatly felt more at home.

Nowhere near the real thing but still a nice touch, thank you very much. :)

PS: And yes, I know it has been way too long since I last posted something here, but since there is a new job and a new city I’ll see to changing that again. And also to catch up on all that’s happened over the last couple of months.

Zend Framework Poster

Here’s one for all the geeks reading this:

I just got my ZendFramework overview poster from Mayflower, as you can see here

Highly recommend for everyone working with the Zend Framwork or with PHP in general and has yet to adopt the ZF. And here’s the kicker: it’s completely free, all you have to do is drop Björn (thanks again… :) ) a line by mail at zfposter (at) mayflower dot de, they have German and English versions in stock.

As far as I understood the offer’s good while stocks last…

The Empire Strikes Back

When Microsoft announced the launch of their new search decision engine Bing! a bit over a week ago my first reaction was something like “right – here goes one more failed attempt of someone trying to catch up with Google…”.

Still it was of course mandatory to try the new site, for curiosity on the one hand, all the buzz on the other hand and last but not least because an old friend of mine recently switched his propeller hat for something else and is now working at and for “project bing!”.

So I have been playing around with it for some time now and must say that there are a few things I did not expect. First up the design, is it just me or is this actually the first time MS launched a website does not try to mimic Windows or any other Microsoft product, as e.g. Bing’s predecessor, the less fortunate Live Search did? To me it simply looks like a neatly designed web2.0 site and if it wasn’t for the copyright notice at the bottom I would not have expected Microsoft to be the owner of the site. In my opinion a very welcome change in politics.
The second and far more important thing is that – again other than Live – the service works surprisingly well and they even implemented a few new features that are unavailable elsewhere, which also is a very welcome change to having “yet another google rip-off”.

For all I can tell so far MS has done its homework well this time and once again gotten it right (or at least working decently) in version three as Bing seems to actually live up to the promise of being a viable alternative in search (yes, search, I still prefer to make my own decisions). If MS continues the good work Bing has the potential to become a major inconvenience for Google and since (according to StatCounter) Bing had already leapfrogged Yahoo!’s search for one day it could also become an actual problem for Yahoo!. It’ll be interesting to see how the market shares develop.

With Bing being launched and Windows7 due to go gold in October, 2009 may become the year where Microsoft found some answers to some products of two of their more serious competitors (the second one being Apple and Mac OS X) and should be able to strengthen their position in the computer universe again. The rebellion on the other hand doesn’t sleep either, and rumor has it that the misfits have prepared a new iPhone for tonight…

Campaigning gone bad. Very bad.

Upfront: just a short post that is above all for all Germans who might read this, but what probably is behind all this is simply the fact that there are a lot of elections coming up in Germany this year. As everybody knows this is the time where politicians try to get as much media coverage as possible and do not always do things that are in the best interest of anyone but themselves.

That is annoying but something we have (sadly) gotten used to. Still there lately was one thing I found to be particularly disturbing, which is why I’d like to draw your attention to it.

Our dear minister of family affairs has gotten a lot of press coverage by announcing to get tough on child abuse, above all explicit material found on the internet. A very noble cause that I fully support. The big problem I have is that the one means she/the ministry is trying to install is not only utterly useless to the cause but also against the German “Grundgesetz” (constitution), as it means simple censorship. If you read German and want to know more, I recommend you have a look at this article.

Abusing a noble cause for campaigning and weakening democracy

Abusing a noble cause for campaigning and weakening democracy

One small thing that everybody can do is sign this online petition against the current version of the law, in the hope that it will not pass and there will be measures taken that actually help. If you’re German, please have a look at the petition and consider signing it – it won’t take more than three minutes of your time.

If you’re interested in even more information, there are two more articles (again in German) I found interesting one interview on the issue and an article about how parts of our government do their PR.

And finally, more there also is more satirical imagery available.


Living abroad usually comes with quite a few new experiences and if you’re lucky the locals will let you in on, well, local stuff if you’ve been around for a while. One thing that normally makes up for a good start for an intercultural discussion are prejudices – er sorry – the image that people from one country have about the others.

When you ask me what the cliché of a French person for Germans looks like I’d say that the drawing on the cover of a short language guide that teaches you how to swear in French is pretty accurate:

But the good old rule that a picture speaks a thousand words also works the other way round – in this particular case it ts thanks to an ad campaign of the SNCF (French railways). They are advertising their fast train connections to Germany which gives a bit of insight on how the French see their neighbors.

The posters put a smile on my face, so here you go:

Germany, as seen from a distance

Germany, as seen from a distance

and one more:

In case you were wondering, the ad text translates to: Germany from EUR29. Now is the time to go and see whats behind the platitudes.

In case you were wondering, the ad text translates to: Germany from EUR29. Now is the time to go and see what's behind the platitudes.

And on a loosely related note, the connections really are pretty fast, Paris to Frankfurt or Stuttgart in 3h49 and 3h39 rsp.

FAIL, revisited

Well, I hate to say it but the fail of the month for April would be an “update FAIL” that goes to yourstruly, for not having updated my blog, i.e. it has been once again way too long since I wrote anything new.

That being said, I also have a candidate for May’s FAIL of the month (technically it’s two, but they’re kinda the same). I’d call them anti-theft FAIL:

This is why you always want to chain your scooters frame to some fixed object

This is why you always want to chain your scooter's/bike's *frame* to some fixed object

This also brought back a few memories of about two years ago when some bastards stole my motorbike and all I found back then was half of a link of the chain I had used. In the end I’m not even sure if the owners of the chains on the pictures above are better or worse off than I was…

Fail of the Week

Things go wrong, a lot of them and each day – the short hand internet way of expressing this is by simple qualifying something as “FAIL”. As far as I know this has mainly been coined by this blog which has an impressive collection of examples of “fail” and is a good means of wasting a lot of time.

My personal fail of the week tipped up when I was trying to get a Canon printer to work over the network and got the following error message (also made me wonder again why network printing always has to be such a drama, but that’s a different story):

W [03/Mar/2009:18:20:24 +0100] [Job 100] recoverable: Error Number : 311
Printer is in use or an error has occurred. If an error has occurred,
eliminate the cause of the error.

Remarkably useless, really (and no, the printer wasn’t in use…).

[update] Since this seems to be a common problem (there are quite a few people researching this on Google), the only thing I found so far is that at least in my case it helps to first clear the print queue on my computer and then turn the printer off and on again – YMMV. The printer in question is a Canon Pixma MP210 connected to a “Neufbox” (apparently running Linux) and I’m using a MacBook Pro, but Windows boxes on the same network occasionally have the same problem.

In case you no more about the problem or have a solution to it, I’d be very thankful if you’d post it here as a comment or drop my a line…[/update]

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