Life in Paris, my universe and potentially everything

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.

Relax Baby Be Cool

Ooooh yes. You gotta love living in a big city. Especially given all the concerts available – after last month’s gig of Wir sind Helden, we went to see Stereo Total yesterday who were playing at La Maroquinerie and seriously: Monday evenings don’t get any better than this. While I can totally see how their music might not be everybody’s cup of tea, I’d still recommend going to one of their concerts to about anybody. They played for about one and a half hours and had some American guy called “Hawnay Troof” as supporting act (and special guest) who himself also was great fun to watch and kind of left us with the impression that you can actually make a career of your medical condition. I bought his CD – ask me for it the next time you see me and you’ll see (well hear actually…) what I mean :-P

As I still haven’t bought a new phone with a better camera so the quality of the photographic proof has room for improvement:

Yes – various instruments were being used, including an aluminium ladder…

Two little things

If you ever made the mistake of asking me what computer to buy there’s a good chance I told “get a Mac” (only in more words) – next time you ask, I’m not so sure it’ll be the same advice, since it is now official: Macs stink (summary in German).

And for all those of you who know more about HTTP than it is “the thing you type before the :// in your browser”, there’s a great cheat sheet on the error codes (oh I feel sooooo geeky…). :-P

Oops, they did it again…

I completely forgot to mention one thing that happened this weekend: Rugby. If you’re German, there’s a good chance that first thing that comes to your mind is “some medium sized town in England” and then maybe on second thought also that there’s a game that looks a bit like American football that – as rumor has it – is quite popular in the UK.

So far so good, but there’s more to it: France is currently hosting and taking part in the Rugby world cup, which gets a lot more interesting if you know that Rugby is almost as popular as soccer in France, they even redecorated the Eiffel Tower for the occasion:

Eiffel Transformation
A great excuse to put yet another picture of the ET on the web…

And why am I writing about this? Well – if you translate Rugby to soccer you get the following: France is France, New Zealand (aka “The All Blacks”) is Brazil (i.e. the team everybody just knows will win) and last weekend the quarter finals were played, one of them being France – New Zealand and to make the long story short: after kicking Brazil’s behind in the soccer world cup the French took out another red-hot favorite, beating the All Blacks 20-18. I’m still struggling to get a grip on all the rules, but the game was great fun to watch…

…and then the semi finals are up this weekend. France vs. England – an instant classic. :)


Another weekend and another expo – this time I went to see the Mondial de deux roues which again took place at the trade fair center at Porte de Versailles. As most people who know me know my last motorbike got stolen and since I was not planning on staying a pedestrian for the rest of time I was quite curious to see what the alternatives are.

I miss my R1200C
And this would officially be the last picture of my Cruiser…

This was the second time I went, the last time was the 2005 edition of the same event, but this time was somewhat different: while I was casually looking around two years ago I actually wanted to decide on what bike to buy next. The constraints were: “something I like” (i.e. about as good looking as the old one), realistically priced (i.e. expensive is ok if I think the bike is worth the money), anti-lock brakes (i.e. ABS – life is short enough), possibility to go on a tour with it (i.e. possible to attach some kind of luggage) which I thought was somewhat reasonable. Interestingly enough the number of models I found that fulfilled those criteria was a sleek 0 by the end of the day. Seeing how the model ranges and motorbikes specs have evolved I can’t help but wonder why features like ridiculously powerful engines sell better than those that help help you to not become an organ donor. Did anyone say “Darwin awards“?
Second disappointment: there was no trace of Moto Guzzi, so no chance to have a look at what they may have. As for my favourite brand BMW: ever since they ceased making the Cruiser in 2004 there has not been any model I liked nearly as much. At least they had a very nicely customized R1200R at their stand that was dedicated to the Bavarian racing legend Georg “Schorsch” Meier.

R1200R - Schorsch Meier Edition
They even almost spelled his name right…

Apples and no Orange

Well then – by public demand: a few words about this year’s AppleExpo in Paris, but no pictures, since I didn’t take any (sorry…). Since I have the privilege of living in Paris since mid 2004 this was the forth time I went to see the AppleExpo and there has been some change since 2004. First of all: I could still kick myself for not having bought any Apple stock by the end of last year when the first rumors about the iPhone were out: the first big change was that the Expo was a lot more crowded (as in “easily twice as many people”) than it used to be which is just one more indicator that Apple’s star (and thus the stock) definitely is on the rise.

This also became apparent when I arrived at the entrance where I actually had to queue instead of walking right in – and that despite having my ticket ordered over the web and a printed version of the voucher for a free badge with me. Once inside I found the one big rumor confirmed, there was no trace of the iPhone – at least nowhere near Apple’s own stand, they were “only” showing off the new iMacs and iPods, so nothing really new. From all I heard that despite the early reports that Orange (i.e. France Télécom) had secured the exclusive deal for the iPhone in France, there still seems to be a lot more than tiny details to be ironed out. The French do have a tendency to have to have it their way, just as Steve Jobs does. And while the French clearly outnumber Steve, he’s still the one who’s got the iPhone. Could become interesting.

All the other exhibitions were more or less the same as last year, to me the most notable thing about the exhibitors was that their number has clearly decreased despite the increase of public interest, e.g. SonyEricsson were nowhere to be seen and also FastMac stayed at home this year. I’m not quite sure if that is more due to the weak Dollar or that Apple decided to only make the Paris show a B-event two years ago – or something else I missed…

The IMO nicest stand of the fair belong to a company that has only very little to do with Apple: Mini – whose excuse for being at a computer show was to show people just how great the Mini works as an iPod accessory. They were quite convincing – no wonder Apple silently dumped the Hi-Fi, after all who wants a dull white box when you can have speakers on wheels?.

And finally: the honorary mention for this year’s Expo clearly goes to Griffin Technology, one the companies who makes all kinds of accessories for Apple products, as for example the iTrip. To make a long story short: one of the friends I met with at the Expo had some trouble with the iTrip she had bought a while back so we asked one of the staff at the Griffin stand, who after a few minutes talk told us that the unit might be defective and then just smiled and did not only give her a brand new one for free but had two more for my other friend and me. Nice :)

Any comments or questions? If so, feel free to post them here…

“Someone finally got it right”

This is what Dr. Dre (allegedly) said about the iPod and iTunes Store before the launch and after Steve Jobs let him in on the details (see Jeffrey S. Young und William L. Simon’ “iCon”).
While I agree that Apple did a lot of things right, there still are a few things they did or had to do that I have trouble with, most notably DRM, prices and a format that binds you to software that only runs on Windows or OS X. I still use the iTS, but certainly to a lesser extent than I would without those restrictions.
Enter the good news: it looks like someone finally really got it right: Amazon launched their digital music store last week, and it looks very promising as it remedies exactly the three problems I have with Apple’s offer. They sell started to sell DRM-free mp3 files online. And that means music with no delay due to delivery, from a store that is open 24/7 and is playable on any device any time as often as I want. Almost sounds too good to be true – I’ll see to trying it out sometime this week (hoping they accept my German/French account) and will let you know how that went…

Miles and wait no more

Just a quick note on something that’s really really unimportant, but still somewhat unexpected: I did apply for one of those frequent flyer cards with Lufthansa about two years ago, and used the temporary number they gave me for one trip to Munich and back. Since I never heard back from them but had two more flights with Lufthansa last year I thought I’d just try again and registered on their site once again. The outcome was about the same, i.e. no answer and 0 miles visible on the account online, and I thus decided to stick with AirFrance. So far so boring.

The remarkable thing was that I the “never heard back from them changed this week. Twice. So after just about two years, I finally have two of those nice shiny plastic cards saying Miles & More. Way to go guys! I hope you handle the maintenance schedules for your planes differently… :-P

Helden in Paris!

Thursday was one of those days were you just have to love Paris, one of my favorite bands was in town for the kick-off concert of their current tour. The remarkable thing about it? It was Wir sind Helden, i.e. a German band! And that meant that the concert was a lot less crowded than any Helden concert you can find in Germany. The played at “Le Trabendo” in the Parc de la Vilette, and were on stage for almost two hours – great fun… 8)
It roughly looked like this:

Wir sind Helden, Le Trabendo, 20070920

That’s really them – and yes, I know, next time I need to bring a better camera…

In case you’re interested, there’s some footage of the event on youtube: Helden in Paris.

Always worth a visit…

One more thing

Or rather two actually: my friend and colleague Mani has opened his archives and put some photos online that date back to 1998 when we were still studying at the LMU. And yes, that is me (in the middle, holding the mug of beer) and yes, that kind of haircut was actually legal back then.

As for the other thing: I finally got around to testing the latest cool thing regarding public transport in Paris: “Vélib“, i.e. bicycles that are for rent very cheap on automated stations all over town. Since there definitely still is work to do on the English translation of the site, please have a look at this youtube video with a few hints on how the bikes may be used. :)

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