Sunday, March 30, 2008

Look at what I'm having for dinner...

I've never been more happy to spend $4 and change on something that I'm never going to eat. But that can will get a special place on my shelf when I'm in Vienna! :-)

Friday, March 28, 2008

interesting iPhone and Android comparison

Alexander Schatten posted an interesting comment called "Two Cultures: iPhone and Android" on his Software Engineering - Best Practices blog. He compares the very different approaches that Apple and Google are taking when it comes to the SDKs of their respective platforms and also the distribution mechanisms behind it.

From a philosophical point of view I also prefer the more open Android approach but having said that I believe that Apple is going to me more successful with the way they do things. As Alexander also points out "the open source model also had a problem in providing a consistent and user friendly UI experience" and I believe that UI is what makes or breaks a consumer electronics device such as a mobile phone. The open-source approach is particularly strong when it comes to enabling people (developers) to come up with customized versions that fit their unique needs. It therefore allows for a broad ecosystem of similar, yet not identical, sub-systems to emerge (e.g. KDE vs. Gnome). However I believe that when it comes to a 24/7 device such as a mobile phone less can be more and most people (customers) would prefer a product that may do less but does those things in a very polished way. This is exactly what the iPhone is doing and people like me might complain about the lack of 3G, video-recording capabilities and whatnot all day long but at the end of the day I still *want* an iPhone for the simple fact that it does its things so incredibly well.

Other than that I also believe that the iPhone application-distribution via iTunes is a relatively smart thing. Again I might prefer a 'marketplace' that's not 100% Apple-controlled but at least there's a single point where people (customers) can look for new applications. I'm afraid that with Android it's going to be much more of messy situation where there might be a significantly wider selection of software available but without an easy way to access it that might go unnoticed by most people.

Anyway, this is certainly a very interesting topic and I'll keep a close eye on the developments over the coming months...

Update (an absolute must-read): "How Apple Got Everything Right By Doing Everything Wrong" (from the current edition of Wired)

Size does matter...

Space Obelisk (Moscow)
Washington Monument (Washington, DC)
Call me crazy but if these buildings ain't phallic then I don't know what is...

Washington @ Flickr

I forgot to mention that I've also created a Washington set on my Flickr account which I'll try to update regularly with some of the photos that I take around here...

Washington, DC: Day No. 1

After badly needed 10 hours of sleep I spent my first day here in Washington, DC walking around the city. I also decided to go for a very American first day here especially in terms of eating. So I started my day with a bagel with cream-cheese which I got on my way to the next Metro station. It was followed by some Oreos bought from my all-time favourite store "7-Eleven" which I learned to love on my 4-week trip through Taiwan back in 2006. For lunch I decided to go with a Tuna melt before stopping at a coffee place for a "Grande Latte". I think dinner is going to consist of pizza or something. Okay, okay, enough with the food already...

I went to the National Mall which I had briefly visited when Aaron and me were in town the week before Christmas 2007. This time 'round I found the place to be much more lively, there were lots of people wandering about, playing soccer, playing frisbee or jogging along the Mall. The weather wasn't all that spectacular, there was the occasional short rainshower and the temperature must have been somewhere around 12° C or 13° during most of the afternoon. But I imagine that once spring really hits the city the National Mall will be quite a nice place to hang out and who knows maybe I can even motivate myself to do some jogging there myself (don't laugh, I know who you are!).
National Mall
I walked around The Capitol...

...stopped by at the Library of Congress and the Supreme Court...

...before I went up Pennsylvania Avenue until I stood in front of #1600: The White House.

From there strolled up 18th street and Connecticut Avenue to Dupont Circle.

I made some random first impressions such as the fact that it's absolutely impossible to starve in DC (as I learned today the locals don't usually use the name Washington). There are literally hundreds of caf├ęs, sandwich places, delis, burger joints, salad bars, etc. and I can't think of any other city with so many eateries.

Another observation is that the most popular and important accessory to feature in the district are workplace-badges. The last time I saw so many people running around with badges around their necks was Computex in Taiwan.

One of the few people who didn't sport badges were the poor bastards trying to get people to sign-up for Greenpeace. Having had a shot at such a job myself several years ago (and failing miserably because I'm just not good at convincing people about something I don't believe in myself) I really felt for them. So I wished everyone good luck in reaching their daily quotas and moved on.

Another thing that impressed me (and something that I hadn't quite expected) was the fact that many of the buildings in the city-center are actually quite nice. Obviously I'm not talking about the federal buildings because most of them are rather dull. However some of the office and commercial houses are really interesting constructions.

Building near Dupont Circle
What I also enjoyed - and this is something that I've always loved about places such as Washington, New York and London, is the multicultural flair on the streets. I could easily spend a whole day at a random street-crossing here just watching people and I wouldn't be bored for a second.

What else comes to mind? Ahh, yes, during lunch I also read a hilarious rant in a newspaper about inappropiate songs at highschool athletic events. The author was complaining about the fact that he had heard songs such as Eric Clapton's Cocaine, Chumbawamba's Tubthumping and Semisonic's Closing Time which feature references to drug and alcohol use. Good stuff indeed!

Anyway, I guess that's about it with my account about Day No. 1. I'll probably spend the evening reading or watching some "2 1/2 Men" episodes (my current TV series of choice) on my laptop because even though there are hundreds of TV channels here I can't find anything even remotely interesting.

BTW, Wayan from organized a OLPC News DC Meetup for tomorrow and that's definitely going to be a great evening!

I'm going to leave you with some random photos that I took during the day. Enjoy!

In case you can't read it, the cover says: "bitch - feminist response to pop culture"

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Time to say good-bye

I previously indicated that I'm heading to Washington, DC for a 3-month internship. Well, tonight I'm sitting here in my room while tomorrow evening I'll be moving into a new place across the big pond. Less than 4 hours from now I'll have to get up, say the final good-bye to my family and take the train to Munich from where I'll take a plane to Washington where I'll arrive late tomorrow evening.

I spent most of the past 1 1/2 weeks spending quality time with close friends and collegues before saying my good-byes. It's weird, for the past 18 months I've often been in the position to say "good-bye" to friends who left for places such as Spain, Chile, France, etc. and now finally it's my turn to say "good-bye" and head out. ;-)

I meant to post this "Time to say good-bye" for the better part of the past week but for some reason I never came around to actually doing it. And now that I'm sitting here and typing these lines I can't think of any of the things that I meant to say.

Anyway, seeing that there's only so much sleep left I better call it a day...

Next stop: Washington, DC!

Listening to: Death Cab for Cutie - Transatlanticism

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Travelling Salesman Problem @ XKCD

I couldn't stop laughing when I saw the most recent comic over on XKCD:

As always I also love the title that Randall Monroe uses for the images. In this case it was: "What's the complexity class of the best linear programming cutting-plane techniques? I couldn't find it anywhere. Man, the Garfield guy doesn't have these problems ..."

Outstanding stuff indeed!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

A blast from the past

I actually wanted to go and grab some sleep now when I got a notification that someone had tagged a photo of me on *INSERT SOCIAL NETWORK OF YOUR CHOICE*. Looking at the photo I just had to laugh because it's a real blast from the past: It was taken back in 2001 in Chiclayo, Peru while I was visiting my friends Gion, Carlos (both on the photo below) and Juan (the guy who took the picture) over the weekend.

Those were the days my friend... :-)

OLPC presence at the ACP-EU meeting in Ljubljana

I spent the beginning of the week in Ljubljana, Slovenia to attend the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly and to help out at the OLPC table there. The interest in OLPC from ACP representatives was overwhelming and we had many great discussions. The whole trip happened on very short notice and it was probably one of the most fun, intense and insane things that I've experienced in a long time. :-)

Below you can find a photo with (from-left-to-right) Walter, me, Giulia and Simon that was taken and kindly uploaded by the amazing Bernardo Innocenti.

OLPC Austria presentation at CeBIT 2008

Apart from having an OLPC Austria booth at CeBIT 2008 Aaron and me also held a presentation at the LinuxForum. This presentation was recorded and is now available at the website: LINK (Again the video is in German.)

Presenting the OLPC XO at CeBIT

My friend Sascha from recorded this short 5min video of me presenting the OLPC XO laptop and some of its highlights at CeBIT earlier this month. (Please note that the video is in German.)

Saturday, March 15, 2008

ttmms: advertising at university

This second posting of my ttmms (short for "things that make me sick") track is again dedicated to advertising. While I previously ranted about "Total Branding" this time 'round it's advertising at university that makes me sick. I mean just look at how the stairs in our university's main-building have been decorated:

Advertising in public statte-run educational institutions such as schools and universities is probably one of the most sickening things ever. I hated the fact that my school started plastering advertisments all over our gym 2 years before I graduated. I mean honestly, how can an educational institution enable companies to start advertising their products to children that still go to school? Isn't the world outside school polluted with enough ads already? Every single day we're exposed to hundreds and hundreds of marketing messages, whether it's online, on the radio, on TV, on the streets, in newspapers and magazines, in subways, buses and trams, basically everywhere. What's next, ads in Church?

Ezekiel 25:17 is brought to you by Coca Cola...

A King's Breakfast

So while I sit here and slowly recover from last night's drinking-session (which left my fridge totally empty except for a single beer) I'm enjoying a king's breakfast. Combined with the fact that I had my last exam 'till October yesterday (and I think I did quite well), the weather being quite nice and sunny today and me general being in a good mood this weekend is certainly off to a great start! :-)