Wednesday, April 30, 2008

R.M.S. on OLPC

Yesterday Richard Stallman published his thoughts regarding some of the recent developments in OLCPland:
"Sugar is free software, and contributing to it is a good thing to do. But don't forget the goal: helpful contributions are those that make Sugar better on free operating systems. Porting to Windows is permitted by the license, but it isn't a good thing to do."
You can read the rest of the essay titled "Can we rescue OLPC from Windows?" here.

P.S. Don't you just love the fact that R.M.S. migrated to the XO because it's the only machine which really fulfills his requirements in terms of only running free software (if you disable the WLAN chip that is)?

Making fun of Apple's MacBook Air

original MacBook Air ad

Lenovo's X300 ad

Good stuff! :-)

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

OLPC feel-good...

After all the madness that has been going on in OLPCland these past few days and weeks it was great to see some really nice and heart-warming content show up on the 'net on Monday.

First of all OLE Nepal officially launched the laptop project and they posted a nice summary of the events and lots of photos earlier today. The guys there are really doing an outstanding job and I'm looking forward to their progress over the coming weeks and months.

XOs in Nepal, Day #1

Additionally some folks from OLPC and the OLPC community have produced this excellent 6min feel-good video which arrives on the scene just in time.

In more personal news: I was caught on film attempting some serious XO hacking. Things like that can happen when I get up at 8 a.m. on a Saturday morning!

My XKCD t-shirt arrived today...

...and I couldn't be happier. This one definitely deserves a spot among my 5 favourite t-shirts:

It's quite interesting to realize that "XL" isn't necessarily "XL", as this one is definitely the biggest "XL" t-shirt I own. "L" would have really done the job.

By the way, I just saw the latest XKCD comic and it's freaking hilarious!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Live-blogging... Baltimore

I'm on my way to Baltimore at the moment and I brought along the OLPC XO that Mike kindly lend me. I will attempt to do some live-blogging, posting photos and comments while leeching off free wifi as I go along.

First stop: Union Station in DC

Update (7.30 p.m.): Hahaha, so much for my attempt at live-blogging... Had a great day in Baltimore though and will post some photos and other entries over the next couple of hours.

Last update (0.50 a.m.): And so much for blogging today. I spent the past 3 hours writing e-mails so now I'm dead-tired and definitely not in the mood to still blog. Let's see, maybe I get a chance to write something up and post tomorrow or later in the week.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Multi-Touch To Rule Them All

I never really bought into mouse gestures or all the fancy multi-touch stuff that's so hip these days. But I might just change my opinion after seeing this video of the brand-new Asus eee PC 900 and its multi-touch capable touchpad in action.

My first impression is that it could indeed make life easier, especially in difficult environments such as crowded trains, airplanes or in popular caffeine-houses that offer free WiFi.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Quick summary of a busy week...

What a week! It's really insane how quickly it went by.

I still vividly remember Monday morning and the pain I felt when the alarm clock woke me up at 7.00 a.m.

Then, it was suddenly Tuesday evening and I was pouring wine and pretending to know about wine at a wine tasting at the embassy.

Wednesday morning I went to an interesting panel discussion about homeland security and the evening was spent at the monthly Austrian Happy-Hour here in DC and a concert afterwards.

Thursday started with a hangover but still turned into a very productive work-day which lasted until 7.30 p.m. (hence this comment).

Friday was another incredibly busy day at work but again lots of things got done. The evening was spent at the opening of a photo exhibition at the embassy followed by making the great decision to go to Adams Morgan, my future going-out hotspot because of all the outstanding bars and clubs there.

Saturday was spent sleeping until noon and spending some quality chill-out time on the National Mall in the afternoon. The weather, especially in the early afternoon, was outstanding (26° C) and I was also happy to have finally brought along my real digital camera. While up to now I had only taken snapshots with my mobile phone it was great to be able to use a decent camera to make real photos, some of which I've included below. I'm quite happy with how some of them have turned out and you can find more at

Today I again slept until noon, followed by a visit to Chinatown to grab lunch and some Chai Latte plus sweets for desert. Given that the weather today was really shitty with lots of rain and whatnot me and one of my colleagues from the embassy went to the cinema to see Leatherheads. The movie wasn't too great but quite amusing and the soundtrack was good. So basically the perfect choice for such a rainy day as this one. Now I've spent the past 3 hours just catching up with some of the online-action, reading e-mails and watching the latest episodes of Two And A Half Men. Anyway, now I'm off to finish some laundry and then I'll reply to a couple of the e-mails and other messages I got this week... :-)

Lincoln Memorial
Korean War Veterans Memorial
Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall
Sunset at Washington Monument
Washington Monument
3, 2, 1... And we're off into the next week!

Friday, April 18, 2008

When "9 to 5" turns into "9 to 7.30"

What to do on a day where you end up walking out of the office at 7.30 p.m.? There's really only so much you can do so my evening basically consisted of returning some DVDs, getting some excellent carry-out food from a local Middle Eastern Cuisine, watching a couple of episodes of "Two And A Half Men", checking my e-mail and reading some websites. And soon I'm off to grab some badly needed sleep otherwise I might just fall asleep here on the couch in the living room.

Hope to get some real blog-entries (with actual contents unlike this one here) up over the weekend.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Note to self

Always bring the sheet with the PUK for your mobile phone when you're spending significant time in another country. You might wake up one morning, be tired and still a little hungover and mistype your PIN 3 times. That sucks.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Random photos I took this week.

On my way to work. (I didn't see the "Obama" sign behind me until now when uploaded the photo.) We ordered some coffe for the office this week. Here's my share which should keep me going for a while.
Embassy of Austria in Washington, DC. This is the place where I'm working 9 to 5 - Monday to Friday - April to June 2008.
After the S&T meeting last night we still went for some pitchers and food near the World Bank where cars were being towed in preparations for a summit that's taking place this weekend. The crowd in the pub we were sitting in certainly enjoyed the show.
Mirror mirror on the wall, who is the prettiest of them all?
Going down, down, into the ground. At Metro station Dupont Circle.
All of this is being posted while I sit in the yard behind our house. It's a beautiful day indeed:-)

And now I'm off to our neighborhood's movie'n'beer night.

When was the last time that Yahoo did something that mattered

Earlier this week I mocked Flickr Video as I simply don't buy the idea of anyone needing yet another video-sharing platform. And apparently I'm not the only one because there are already two prominent Flickr groups: one called "We Say NO to Videos on Flickr" (26.000+ members) and "NO VIDEO ON FLICKR!!!" (11.000+ members).

I had also mentioned that it's definitely yet another sign of Yahoo trying to catch up with Google (and thereby increasing the price that Microsoft or whoever is going to pay for the inevitable take-over). Continuing this line of thought I started asking myself whether I had used any Yahoo services apart from Flickr in the recent past. The answer is no. So I took it a step further and looked back at 2006-2007 and the interesting things that happened there when it comes to ICT. Again, Yahoo didn't come up except for me signing up for a Flickr Pro account last year.

What am I trying to say? Frankly speaking I'm not quite sure. However I do have to admit that Yahoo these days reminds me of a dark version of Schrödinger's Cat. Nobody is quite sure what's inside the box but the longer we wait to look inside the bigger the chance that the cat has died from natural causes.

Friday night observations

I was going to write this post about all the interesting people that I met this Friday night. And then I made the mistake of heading out when I really should have gone home.

It's one of those nights were I *really* should have gone home. I was in such a good mood when I walked away from the Society for International Science & Technology Policy meeting that I attended thanks to an invitation by Jon. Now I'm sitting here, in the middle of a crowded pub, writing a blog-entry on my mobile phone instead of 'going crazy' (or whatever the cool kids call it these days). Frankly speaking there's just too many people here who bore the hell the out of me.

Which brings me right back to what I really wanted to talk about: all the interesting people that I've met around here. Literally everyone I've talked to here in DC has an interesting story to tell. Obviously one doesn't get to meet that many new people when you're at home. However I still feel that most people around here have seen and done a whole lot more than the average person I've pumped into in Vienna. I'm not sure whether people are actually getting more done or if they're just more vocal about the things they've done. Talking to a stranger here is easy because you just ask them what they're up to and almost always you're going to get an interesting reply. While I'm generally certainly a very talkative person who doesn't mind letting all the world know about my thoughts (hence this blog) around here I tend to be much more of a listener. Simply because I love absorbing all the stories and things that people around here have been involved in.

Now what you're really seeing in this entry is two (well actually three) different parts. The first two paragraphs were written on my mobile phone, while sitting in that pub when I really didn't have a good time. The third paragraph was written on the Metro ride home when I was starting to feel more upbeat again. The rest of this entry and some re-work of the previous comments is written here while I sit in my room and slowly review this day.

What certainly helped to uplift my mood now was the fact that I pumped into Igor, one of my neighbours around here, on my way home. He was just chillin' in front of his house and we quickly moved towards a discussion about Google App Engine (a post for another day), database design and web-application development. That's exactly the kind of situation I'm talking about. After probably having spent less than a overall total of 30min talking to Igor in the past 2 weeks since I got here, I can still have an interesting and challenging discussion. That's the way it's supposed to be, right?

[Full Disclaimer: I was actually going for a more polished posting here but seeing that I wrote most of the entry on my mobile phone and in the moment, I figured that a raw copy of my thoughts might also make sense. Plus I've got too many unpolished comments sitting on both my laptop and my mobile phone and if I really wanted to polish all of them then I'm probably never going to be able to post all of them. So do expect some rather raw footage over the coming days and weeks.]

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Thoughts on Flickr Video

In case you've missed it:
If you’re a pro member, you can now share videos up to 90 glorious seconds in your photostream. ["Video on Flickr"]
I'm going to play devil's advocate here and ask:
Who needs Flickr Video? [me, now]
Or less provocative:
Who needs Flickr Video when there's,, YouTube and a million other video-sharing websites? [me, a minute later]
Just like there'll always only be one Digg with and one Slashdot with a million also-rans following them I don't believe that the world really needs another video-sharing platform. Really, what incentive is there for posting a video-clip on Flickr Video instead of any of the other websites that I've mentioned above? Maybe because the 90 second limit is so alluring as someone suggested in a comment:
...the 90 seconds is akin to the Twitter 140 character limit (perhaps). Look at it as a chance to be concise and powerful.
Yeah, right...

Flickr Video is Yahoo's attempt to catch up with Google's YouTube by hitchhiking on the popularity of the photo-sharing website and its strong community.

In my opinion this will go down in history as:
Too little, too late. [me, 3 minutes later]

Saul Williams - 04/07/2008 - '9:30 Club' Washington, DC

As mentioned last night I went to a Saul Williams concert on Monday. At first I wasn't quite sure whether I should go or not as I was quite exhausted all day. However I'm very happy that I came through and decided to go. I didn't really look at the venue's website except to catch a brief glance of where it's located so I didn't see the part about Saul Williams only getting on stage at 10 p.m. Not wanting to spend 3 hours all by myself in the club I decided to go home for a brief snack and a change into more reasonable clothes (jeans and t-shirt) instead of the 'business-casual'-look that I wear at work.

At this point I can also freely admit that prior to last week I actually hadn't listened to too much music by Saul Williams. The first time I actually heard about him was only a couple of months ago when I listened to the 'Y34RZ3R0R3MIX3D' album by Nine Inch Nails which included two or three remixes that Williams had contributed. I really liked them and my friend Patrick actually decided to purchase a couple of Saul Williams CDs as a result. So as preparation for the concert I started listening to his three latest CDs: 'Not in My Name' [2003], 'Saul Williams' [2004] and 'The Inevitable Rise and Liberation of NiggyTardust!' [2007] late last week. In the morning on my way to work I can't quite take any music that intense so I normally settle for some Trentemøller - 'The Last Resort'. However as the day progresses towards lunch and especially in the afternoon I tend to go for something more energetic. So Saul Williams' music was really perfect for that, especially as his intense songs are often followed my relatively quiet pieces.

Saul Williams getting up close with the crowd
That's basically also the way the concert worked out. Some super-intense and energetic songs followed by bursts of fast-spoken poetry and quiet songs. On stage he does seem to take himself a little too serious but I guess that's also part of the atmosphere that he's creating. Overall I found it to be the perfect mixture and I was also quite happy to recognise many songs some of which I've linked to below.

I also liked the venue, called '9:30 Club' and I'll definitely try and go there for more concerts in the future (Apocalyptica are going to play there some time in June I believe). The crowd was quite an interesting mix of people to watch and again I enjoyed the fact that hardly anyone sported a suit there. I've never really had this before but even after only two weeks I'm already quite sick of all the generic suits walking through this city (again, I'm being one of them) and I smile every time I see someone sporting a regular outfit.

All in all a great concert that made for a great evening!

I know the quality is crap but it's better than nothing, right
I'm going to leave you with this video of Saul Williams 'Sunday, Bloody Sunday' cover which in my opinion is one of the best covers of the recent past. On the other side of his spectrum you find 'List of Demands' and the accompanying video (YouTube link) which I also like a lot, especially since it's a really nice sample of his power and energy which he brings to the stage. One song which I'd really love to see being made into a video is 'Talk To Strangers' as its lyrics are simply outstanding.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

I hate it...

...when my laptop crashes and decides to take everything that's running into data-nirvana. Worse when the Firefox Session-Saver extension doesn't kick in and I lose all the 50+ tabs that I had open with no way to re-construct them. And I'm convinced that there was something interesting on at least 5 of them.

F***, *U**, **C*, ***K

P.S. I had actually intended to blog about last night's Saul Williams concert or some of my thoughts about the Apple iPhone, Google Android et al. But now, after spending half an hour trying to figure out just what exactly I had on all these tabs I'm just too tired and I'm going to call it a day.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

3G iPhone to arrive within the next 60 days.

This has been all over the news already but in case someone missed it: Walt Mossberg mentioned that a 3G iPhone is to arrive within the next 60 days. This would single-handedly get rid of the biggest flaw of Apple's latest and greatest and I think a 3G version would also help the not-too-impressive sales in Europe. However I'm convinced that Steve Jobs is going to milk this one. Looking at the current price in a market such as Austria (€399 for the 8GB and €499 for the 16GB iPhone) I'd imagine a 3G iPhone to come in at around €499 (8GB) and probably something such as €599 for a 16GB version. Or maybe Apple will skip the 8GB 3G iPhone all together. That could of course also mean that the current, non-3G iPhone see a price-cut to something closer to €299 and €399.

Personally, and I know that's not going to happen, what I'd like to have is a 4GB 3G iPhone that comes in at €199. (I'd even settle for 2GB is the price is right) because for all my multi-GigaByte media-storage I prefer a seperate device anyway. "I'm having a day-dream and it feels so good."

Anyway, let the countdown begin! :-)

Monday, April 7, 2008

Weekend Review

I honestly can't recall the last weekend which I enjoyed this much. As previously mentioned it all started off the way any weekend in a new city should, by going out and grabbing a couple of beers. As mentioned on Friday I feel they were well deserved after a relatively long first week at work. So me and some other interns met up at Dupont Circle which we had been told was a good area to go out. And we certainly weren't disappointed as the first place we went to, 'Cafe Citron' which someone had recommended us, ended up being quite a good spot. The minute I looked at the menu (pictured below) and saw the phrase "Dancing on the bar is not only allowed its encouraged" I knew we were going to have a good night. (BTW, this also brings back fond memories of good nights back at my student residence in Vienna, but let's not go there...;-)

Now after having a good laugh at that phrase and basically inhaling the first beer I had ordered I spent some more quality time with the menu. Imagine how thrilled I was to see that they also stocked Cerveza Crystal, one of my favourite beers in Peru. Now they could have only topped that by also offering Arequipeña but I guess that would have been too much to ask.

So while I was happily sipping my Crystal and pondering the question of whether I should get some Ceviche, another Peruvian speciality that I haven't had since 2005, I was suddenly very much reminded of some good times back during my exchange-year to Peru. The beer, the ridiculously loud half latino / half techno music, the highly motivated dancers next to the bar and our table, the Margarita pitchers, the fresh mint that was being prepared for the Mojitos,... it was all there. Good times, good times indeed... During one of my later visits to the bar, when I was shocked to learn that they had run out of Crystal I went back to look at the menu and much to my delight the also offered Paceña , a Bolivian beer that I had found to be quite good during my time in La Paz in 2005.

The other weird thing was that I was actually quite motivated to dance that evening. I mean seriously, when does that ever happen? I guess I just hit up the perfect mixture of beer, mojito, lack of dinner (I had decided that I should really have Ceviche the way it's meant to be eaten, after a long night to cure a hangover) and memories of South America. On my way home I also met three of the guys living in the house next door who were chillin' out on their terrace. It was decided to try and get together some sort of movie-night next week, which should definitely be fun. All in all, it was certainly a very good night.

Saturday was also off to a good start as I slept in until ~11.30 a.m., oh my God how happy I was to wake up around 10-ish, briefly glance at the watch and then go back to sleep. Afterwards our new Hungarian housemate and I went for brunch-turned-into-lunch at a nice café relatively close to our house. They had some excellent food there and the coffee plus cheesecake was also excellent. The fact that the weather was outstanding, it was nice and sunny and warm, also put us into a good mood. In the afternoon I went off to see one of the most absurd sport-events I've ever seen, a Roller Derby with the DC Rollergirls. I had only heard about it via my collegue at the internship and I all knew was that girls on rollerblades were involved. Needless to say I was intrigued. I really didn't know what to expect but turns out that Roller Derby is actually quite a good way to spend a Saturday afternoon. Especially if accompanied by a few cold ones.

I'm not going to go into the details of the game itself because it's really not all that important. What I liked was the general atmosphere of the event. It of course starts off with the various teams sporting names such as Cherry Blossom Bombshells, DC DemonCats, Secretaries of Hate and (my personal favourite) Scare Force One. The player's names go along the lines of Guantanamo Babe, Trampon, Whiskey Tango (with the number "1 too many" printed on her back), Condoleezza Slice, Free Radical and Speedy Gonbraless. One of the team's mascot was this guy wearing an inflatable airplane, you can just about make him about in the photo above. Plus the two announcers were really having a good time and it was extremely busying to listen to some of their comments and whatnot. In general the whole event had some kind of 'underground' and 'alternative' touch to it, two notions that I've been decidedly missing around here in suit'n'tie-afterhour-happy-hour-lounge-bureaucrat-heavy Washington, DC (of course I'm also guilty except for the bureaucrat thing).

Born on April, 6th, 1987? Too bad...
Afterwards we briefly went to the so-called waterfront to catch the last moments of the fireworks for the National Cherry Blossom Festival. Then we again met up with two other fellow interns to look for a nice pub for the evening. We ended up going to this Irish pub near George Washington University were I enjoyed a great burger and beer. However the real highlight of the evening was watching some people who were very much into a semi-final game of some collegue-legue basketball game which was shown on the screens. Especially the one guy who got so annoyingly loud every time something even remotely interesting was happening in the game provoked a coordinated counter-attack by 5 or 6 supporters for the second team was interesting to observe. Especially how quiet he got towards the end of the game when it became obvious that his team was going to lose. Good stuff!

Today again I only got up at 12-something and then we all met up at a shopping mall close to the Pentagon. I wasn't too thrilled by the place and unless there's some really good reason I don't think that I'll be going back there. There's just something that I don't really like about shopping malls. Of course it might be convenient to have a million shops in once place. And yes, I even bought two shirts which I probably wouldn't have gotten that cheaply anywhere else. And yes, a visit to the Apple store was long overdue, and oh my God I love the size and (lack of weight) of the MacBook Air. And yes, the visit to the Johny Rockets dinner (pictured below) was fun. But still, one visit should be enough.

The evening was spent at a barbecue to which Wayan had invited me. It was a good place to be, with excellent food, great discussions about politics and cable-management (I'm not kidding!) and a generally very nice and relaxed atmosphere. The perfect end to the perfect weekend!

By the way, 6 hours from now I'm going to regret having spent all this time writing the blog entry instead of going to bed and grabbing some sleep. This should be another very interesting week, maybe not work-wise (things there will probably only pick up the week after this one) but other that the outlook is pretty good. Especially tomorrow evening's Saul Williams concert to which I'll probably head should be good. Plus I've got a couple of other interesting meetings coming up over the next few days.

Anyway, take care everyone and I hope you have a good start into the week!

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Yeah, the weekend is here!

I hope to have some time over the weekend to catch up with my mail, blog a bit, read, chill and skype with some of you. But first I'm going to grab some dinner and beers, I guess I kinda deserve that after a week of getting up at 7 a.m. and working hard all day, right? RIGHT? ;-)

Thursday, April 3, 2008

04/02/2008 - Washington, DC

I know I've been kinda quiet these past few days but once I get home and sit down in front of my machine I'm simply too tired to start writing something up. Call me a *****, but getting up at 7 a.m. every day and working for 9h (mostly doing database-entries and related research) is kinda exhausting. And no, I can't really go into more details into what my job involves, mainly because I signed a contract that keeps me from doing just that.

Anyway, I've been spending my evenings in a relatively quiet way. On Monday and Tuesday me and my collegue went to a place close to work that comes with a happy-hour until 7 p.m. (beer at $2.50:-). Afterwards I went home to spend some quality time in front of the TV or getting to know my housemates. Today the routine was a little different, we were already on our way to the happy-hour when I suggested heading to Chinatown here in DC. Well, Chinatown is basically just a block of houses (well, frankly speaking rather only half a block) with some Chinese shops, restaurants and Chinese signs on the wall, nothing really to call home about. However what did make this night special was that it marked by first visit to Hooters, now don't judge me, it wasn't even my idea. Only having heard of Hooters in American TV-shows I wasn't really sure what to expect. And yes, the girl's outfit is quite appealing, but again nothing to call home about. At the end of the day I went their for the wings, not the legs. However I have to say that the waitress worked extra hard for her tip, I mean just look at the cute text and smiley on our bill, who wouldn't want to tip her? (And yeah, admittedly she was hot.)

On our way to the next Dunkin Donuts (I know which people will laugh at this point because they were the ones that traveled with me in Lima, Peru back in February 2001;-) we also stumled across these fellas who were livin' it up with some cool beat-boxin' and improvised drums made of buckets and traffic signs. Good stuff indeed and again they also deserved the buck I threw into their bucket. (Now I wish I had taken a short video or at least an audio-recording of their performance.)

Then I met up with the one and only Wayan Vota (from and his significant other. Of course I had had dinner already so I only sat there and drink beer while they enjoyed their 'pescado entomatado' and whatnot. As always I learned a lot (this time about taxes, the price of housing in DC, salaries, etc.) by talking to Wayan and it was definitely a very nice chill-out for an otherwise rather busy day.

Well, I guess this will have to suffice for tonight, I'm off to watch some TV with my housemates... Take care everyone and speak soon.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Basics for a good evening...

Okay, I admit, the yogurt is kinda lame but I need something for breakfast...

First work-day excitement

Today is my first day at work. So even though the alarm clock woke me up at 7.05 a.m. I got out of bed with a sense of purpose (an emotion I hardly ever experience in the morning). I felt like a small child on its first school day. More, I felt reminded of other first-day experiences. Like back in August 2000 when I had my first day at the Colegio Claretiano in Trujillo, Peru during my AFS exchange. Well I guess today I won't spend the first break sitting in a school-yard being surrounded by roughly 200 pupils who all wanted to talk (at the same time AND in Spanish, argh) or at least glance at the 'gringo'. Or like October, 1st, 2004 which marked my first day at university. That day I meet many people that I call good friends these days. So, to cut a long story short, yeah, I'm definitely excited about my first day at work. I'm very much looking forward to the challenges ahead of me and to meeting lots of new people!

(This entry was written on my mobile phone while riding the Metro on my way to work. Definitely the longest text I've ever written on a mobile phone. Needless to say that it's freakin' uncomfortable.)