Sunday, December 2, 2007

What a week!

Oh my God, I can't believe it's Saturday already, at times it's really scary to realize just how quickly time flies by at the moment... I've had a fairly packed week and this is just a quick overview of what I did, more than anything else it's intended for myself as I really do have a hard time keeping track of what I'm doing! :-D

On Monday evening I went to see Marilyn Manson live in concert. While his days as a "shock-rocker" (whatever that may mean) are probably over he did put on a really good show and it was a very entertaining concert. While the Austrian newspaper "Der Standard" gave it a really bad critique (which they always do with concerts that I like;-) I must say that the combination of classics (Mobscene, Sweet Dreams, The Beautiful People, etc.) and new songs worked really well and it was a joy to watch him on stage! The only disappointing thing about the concert was the support band, Turbonegro, which really sucked, a lot! After the concert Patrick, his g/f (they had come from Upper Austria) and I went out to grab a quiet beer and smoke a cigar. Two weeks from now Patrick is again coming to Vienna because we're going to an Ennio Morricone concert which I'm really looking forward to!

Most of my Tuesday was spent listening to different lectures and presentations. Most notably Sir Tony Hoare - the guy who invented Hoare logic and the quicksort algorithm - held a guest-lecture about "Fine-Grain Concurrency". The whole thing started off with some technical problems, it took 20 minutes and three laptops in order to get his presention to show up on the beamer (kinda appaling for a technical university, don't you think?). The lecture itself was okay-ish, while the contents was quite interesting he started out with too much basic information which meant that there wasn't enough time to cover the more interesting aspects of his ideas regarding concurrency. I did however like his way of convaying thoughts and concepts in a very graphical manner and many of our professors could certainly learn a thing or two about holding lectures from him.

Afterwards we went to a 2h presentation about the E.U.'s data retention directive which was organized by quintessenz (an organization that mainly deals with privacy and related issues in the digital-age). The presentation was held by a judge from Salzburg and it was one of the best talks I've ever heard about such a complex issue. He really managed to present the current state of things, the directive itself, its impact on society and the whole topic of privacy in an information society in a very understandable way. It definitely shed light on many things I previously hadn't known, offered a new perspective of the issue at hand and also reminded everyone of some simple truths that you tend to forget while arguing about such topics. However I have to admit that after the 2h talk I was happy to go home, 6h of intense listening to all kinds of lectures and presentations is quite tirying, no matter how interesting it is.

On Wednesday I finally managed to meet one of my best friends for lunch. Given that everyone around here has been incredibly busy this term it often takes a week or two of planning ahead in order to arrange for something simple such as lunch, coffee or beer. So I was very much looking forward to seeing her again and we went for some outstanding all-you-can-eat Asian buffet. It definitely reminded me of how much I like Asian food and that I definitely need to head back to the lunch-buffet they have on the 44th (or was it 45th?) floor of the Mitsokoshi tower in Taipei, Taiwan. Sitting there, talking, we again also noticed just how time flies by: Has it really been 6 months since I visited her in Granada, Spain (where she spent her Erasmus year)? Has it really been a week since we had spoken on the phone and arranged everything? Are there really only 4 1/2 weeks left in 2007?

In the evening we had a short OLPC Austria meeting before we headed to an event to which we had been inivited. The mixture of flatscreen-TVs on the walls, good looking marketing girls and free food and drinks certainly brought back many memories of CeBIT and Computex. A good time was had by all, especially thanks to the outstanding Mojitos served there! ;-)

Thursday started off with something I normally don't do: getting into a black suit and putting on a tie... The reason why I did that was to go to Cercle deluxe an exclusive inivitation-only event focused on luxury products and services that takes place in two luxury hotels right here in Vienna, Austria from November, 29 to December, 2. I went there to see special editions of the HFX mini HTPC systems by mCubed and Maik Berendt (mCubed's CEO) was also the one who had arranged for me to get one of those rare press-credentials. You can read more details and see a photo-essay over in my news-article on but here's one photo to show you what I'm talking about:

Anyone who knows me can guess that I enjoyed myself in such a luxurios environment!

On Friday university kept me busy and in the afternoon I took a train down to Klagenfurt, in the south of Austria, to go to a small house-warming party by my flatmate's girlfriend. The 4h train-ride was very relaxing, we had a couple of beers and I had some time to finally read through some online-articles which I found earlier in the week. The evening itself was also very nice and we had great time even though there were only 4 of us. At some point we decided to use YouTube to look for (really) crappy songs and music-videos from our childhood and a great time was had by all.

And as the current flat is only a temporary one there's going to be another (bigger) party come March! ;-)

Satuday was probably the most relaxing day I've had in quite some time. After an excellent breakfast (at 2:30 p.m.) Richard and me went to the train-station to go back to Vienna while Michi (my flatmate) spends another day with his g/f and family. The ride back home was equally relaxing and I even managed to read The Economist's well-written special report about Austria. It's always extremely interesting to read an outsider's perspective and I think most of the Economist's observations were spot-on. Definitely well worth reading!

Since I got home I spent most of my time reading and watching episode 2 through 7 of the previously mentioned "Aliens In America". Talk about a quiet day!

Of course that's only a quick overview and I'm sure I'm forgetting some things. (Hence this blog-entry, otherwise I'd be forgetting everything!) Luckily most of my university-related tasks were due at the beginning of the week so that gave me some time to breathe and get other things (mostly OLPC reated) done.

Anyway, seeing that it's close to 4 a.m. I'm going to call it a day and get to bed soon. Tomorrow shall keep me quite busy as I need to prepare quite a lot of stuff for university and we also have an OLPC Austria meeting in the afternoon. And then it's off into another crazy week... :-)

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