Walk through Mitte

I remember a walk with my father. We were walking along Sophienstrasse in Berlin Mitte – on the narrow footpath, a bit away from the rest of the group.

In front of us, a bottle collector bent down to pick up a deposit bottle and put it in his pocket. My father was apparently completely unfamiliar with the concept. He asked or remarked “What’s he doing?” — he was astonished — I was astonished about him beeing astonished. A bottle collector!

My father was puzzled. Why would someone pick up a bottle that only had an 8 cent deposit value? I replied that from a certain number it would be worthwhile. But you would have to collect dozens, if not hundreds of bottles? Where would they all come from? Yes, people deliberately put their bottles under a trash can, for example, so that bottle collectors can collect them. And that’s a good thing.

Corona Lockdown Silence

Once again we escaped to my parents’ house. Berlin was gradually becoming too exhausting for us – and since we don’t have to stick to school vacations or other commitments the decision wasn’t difficult.

My parents’ house is in the countryside – in a village in northern Germany. There was not much going on here even before Corona. People like to come to this area to enjoy the silence. And I like the silence, too. No highway, no airport, no industry – lots of nature, a bit of farming, some birds singing, silence.

As a teenager, I sometimes even found it not quiet enough. And by silence I don’t mean the absence of noise or the absence of any noise – but mainly the absence of noise caused by human activity: passing airplanes or trains, a car in the distance, tractors – sometimes even the engine of a ship on the river Elbe nearby.

Of course, there are more such sounds of civilization during the day than at night. Therefore, at night it is always a little quieter than during the day. But even at night there was always some human activity to be heard – especially cars driving from one village to another in the distance – or music and laughter, if someone had something to celebrate in one of the surrounding villages. This had always annoyed me a little. You live in one of the most sparsely populated regions of northern Germany, sitting in the middle of nature – and yet someone somewhere always has to break the silence.

The Lockdown Silence was different. Now, finally, there were no sounds caused by people. No airplanes flying by, no cars in the distance, no celebrations, no music, no laughter. Nothing. Only silence. An oppressive, almost deafening silence.

Radio review: Cover versions of California Dreamin’

Radioeins just played a cover version of the classic California Dreamin’ – in a version by Bobby Womack.

The original version of the song is by The Mamas and the Papas. So far so good. Then the presenter said that this is a frequently covered song – and that there were 56 cover versions.

As an active member of a small band, my blood pressure immediately rose when this number was presented just like that as an absolute number. “There are 56 cover versions”. That’s just not true! And for this judgment I don’t even have to think. Correct would have been: “The German Wikipedia page for California Dreamin’ states that there are currently 56 cover versions of the song documented” or “at least 56 versions” or something like that. So either cite the source – or at least don’t present the number as absolute truth.

Everybody who has played in a band or who has been involved with musicians should know that there are countless cover versions of every known song. Of course, not all cover versions were recorded in the studio – and not all versions recorded in the studio were published. And not all published versions became known. And not all known versions can be found in the German Wikipedia. In the directory www.whosampled.com, for example, there are currently 74 versions for California Dreamin’ to be found. But there should be many more.

I would wish for a little more care – even with such small details. Care in this case would mean caution. No one can say how many cover versions there are of this or that song. Unfortunately, anyone who claims to know the absolute number does not seem very credible to me.

Merkel’s lost Men – Top 10

First I wanted to call this post “Merkel’s Mad Men” – but that would not have suited either: neither the top 10 lost ministers, that had to leave their political position in the past months, nor the great US American TV series about this New York advertising agency.

Anyways. So in the past months the German government, or Angela Merkel if you like, has lost even more than ten top position politicians. To pay a bit respect to this ongoing situation I have compiled a top ten list. First I’ll just post the names, later I’ll be adding the individual resignation reasons.

Here we go:

1: Christian Wulff, Ex-President
2: Horst Köhler, Ex-President
3: Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, Ex-Minister of Defence
4: Franz Josef Jung, Ex-Minister of Defence
5: Günther Oettinger, Ex-Governor of Baden-Württemberg
6: Roland Koch, Ex-Governor of Hessen
7: Jürgen Rüttgers, Ex-Governor of Nordrhein-Westfalen
8: Ole von Beust, Ex-Governor of Hamburg
9: Peter Müller, Ex-Governor of Saarland
10: Axel Weber, Ex-CEO/President of the German Central Bank (Bundesbank)

…to be continued…

Happy Palindrome Day everybody!!

Today it’s February 21st, 2012 –> 21022012 !!!

If I calculated correctly this Palindrome Day will be the last for about eight years – or is  it really so? Well – let’s see: February 31st (31022013) doesn’t exist, nor does February 41st (41022014) etc.. This means that the next regular Palindrome Date would probably be February 2nd 2020 -> 02022020 ..

And while we’re at it I take the opportunity to mention the following Palindromes – most of them are German words and names: Uhu, Anna, Otto, Reittier, Rentner, Reliefpfeiler, Lagerregal, Rotor..

..got any suggestions? ..maybe some English Palindromes?

best, t…

Bye bye 60 Watts Bulb

There is nonsense and there’s nonsense – but the recent trend across Australia, Europe and the USA to ban the bulb is just plain nonsense. At least from my point of view. Rubbish.

First of all it the bulb ban hurts, when you look at it from a design point of view. An almost perfect object, form and fuction going along hand in hand, few cheap resources needed, cheap and easy in production, an easy player when it comes to recycling: some glas, some metal, something isolating in between – nothing much to fuzz about.The official reason for the ban of the bulb is actually its greatest unexpected advantage: light and warmth where you need it – when you need it – both at the same time – instantly. When the family gathers for dinner, the dinner table lamp is switched on, the bulb instantly emits light and warmth. Just like is ancient times, when the clan gathered around the fire place.And hat are we beeing offered instead? Supposedly more efficient, effective, but cold neon light bulbs, packed with semi-hightec components — an over-prized piece of hazardous waste!

Basically I have nothing against neon light – for every task one should always look for the best solution – and there are many tasks neon is currently probably the best choice: hospital corridors, construction sites, street lights — all situations where you just need flat and cold light and emission of heat is not really helping – and therefore a plain waste of energy.

At this point I should probably mention that I don’t need to have bulbs everywhere either – actually where I live we have mostly neon bulbs – sinces ages. But once we have a lamp embracing the bulb, we would of course want to use a bulb. Because good/intelligent design is more important than bad/stupid laws.

see also: Heatball:

Bulp Fiction:
www.bulbfiction-derfilm.com (german)

The Phoebus Cartel:

The Centennial Bulb:

Green Power and Black Sheep

basically I don’t have anything against Black Sheep – the opposite is actually the case: not so long time ago Environmentalists, Globalisation-Sceptics, Human-Rights-, Anti-Nuclear- and other Activists and even members of the Green Party were sometimes treated like ‘Black Sheep’…

Nowadays hopefully nobody really wants to doupt that fossil fuels are limited, nuclear power is not such a good idea – and sooner or later we will have to move on and switch to alternative, renewable, regenerative – green sources of enery such as wind, water and solar power.

Actually these ‘natural/green’ power sources are currently so popular in Germany, that the demand can hardly be satisfied by the ‘natural/green’ power plants in operation today. This is obviously not the wind’s or the sun’s fault – these two colleagues deliver way more energy than we can consume. It’s a man made mistake – we are just not collecting or ‘harvesting’ enough of that energy.

What to do…? Some German newspapers ( Tagesspiegel and Spiegel-Online) recently reported, that one of the big players in German green power business recently found a pretty easy though not-so-green way out, bought some not-so-green kilowatt hours of coal and nuclear generated electric power and re-sold it under their green label. Well well.

And what do we learn from this…? First of all: there is also some Black Sheep among the Greens – but that we already knew at least since that ‘clever’ Swedish man not only collected money to preserve forests in South America, but then also cut down and sold some hundrets of thousands of trees – and finally was sentenced to pay a 177 Millionen Dollar fine (see also -> german newspaper Tagesspiegel)

…well – I’ll anyways stick with the ‘clean~’ and/or ‘green power’ company called Naturstrom AG – they re-invest some of the money for new ‘clean~’ and/or ‘green’ power plants – so that also in the future we will hopefulle not need to use nuclear power – especially not secretly!

…powerful greetings, -t..-

Nokia, Bochum, and so on..

for almost a week I managed to keep my mouth shut – but after my honest opinion the public “discussion” about Nokia’s decision to shut down its factory in Bochum recently got a bit out of hand. So I finally see myself forced to comment on some of other people’s comments..

..for example Nordrhein-Westfalens minister for economic affairs Christa Thoben (CDU), accusing the finnish mobile phone manufacturer of “subvention tricking” (”Subventions-Tricksereien”) and warned the company of a possible “massive image damage”.
The Prime Minister of Nordrhein-Westfalens Mr. Rüttgers insulted the former beloved investor, den ehemals ach-so-sehr geliebten Investor, employer and tax payer Nokia and called the company a “subvention cicada”!

Just recently some German politicians even publically announced they would change their mobile phones to some ozher manufacturer – some even appealed to the public to do the same and to boycott Nokia:

Rainer Wend, the SPD’s spokesman for economic affairs for example let the newspaper “Frankfurter Rundschau” know, he would not use Nokia phones in the future any more.

The “minister for consumers’ affairs” (Bundesverbraucherminister) told the newspaper BILD, that he wanted to declare his solidarity with the workers at Nokia in Bochum and also wanted to change his Nokia phone for a mobile phone made some other manufacturer – and also the head of SPD Peter Struck mentioned he planned to ‘return his Nokia’.

I have to admit: Nokia wasn’t very clever – the bad news they announced fell on fertile grounds and now some ugly reactions are growing.. – ..especially the way they announced the bad news must have felt like a kick in the butt. Firing workers is not popular – especially not in Germany, where people were just about to hope that the unemployment rate would drop a little more. Other companies proved more cleverness in this field: “socially compatible reduction of employment costs” and “job outsourcing” are activities that have almost the same effect, but seem to be way less unpopular as BenQ and also the T-Com proved, planning to “outsource” about 35000 jobs. A possible image damage would then be on some ther company’s account..

For me it’s actually hard to understand why those politicians react so almost aggressively – almost like a little child that finds it unfair when someone takes his toys away. But maybe that comparison is already quite lose to the truth: subventions of millions of Euros were given to Nokia to come to Bochum – and stay in Bochum – and now they suddenly they don’t want to ‘play’ anymore..?! ..not nice..

..and now?

German politicians should learn from this affair – and be just a little bit more honest in the future and actually tell people, that the combination of a “free economy” and a “free Europe” not only has chances to offer – but also risks. Additionally the way subventions are handled should probably be questioned. Maybe then there would be less of such ‘misunderstandings’ in the future..
And then I also have to say:
..Yes! – I love my Nokia! ..and yes! – I am glad it’s a nice piece of “High Tech” “made in Europe”..:]

Greetz, t..

PS: all quotes and speculations are inspired by articles I read on www.netzeitung.de. See also the german article “Erste Kündigungen nach angekündigtem Nokia-Aus” at heise.de – and almost 300 follow up comments on the discussion pages of the article “Erste Kündigungen..”

love’n’hate 2.0: Adblock vs. Adsense

..what if everybody..? ..what if everybody not only used Firefox as a browser – but also combined it with Wladimir Palant’s free advertisement blocking plug-in ‘Adblock Plus’ (www.adblockplus.org)..? ..would there just be less ugly blinking ads on my screen and your monitor and on his and her and their internet browsing experience..? ..or would there be also less motivation for publishers to publish useful information online..? ..would there be less crap online..? ..fewer weblogs..? ..less growth..?
To sum it up: has ‘Adblock Plus’ the potential to bring the Empires of E-Marketing down to their financial knees..? ..might this the end of the free world wide web as we know it..?

At this point I’d like to freely quote from H.P.Baxter’s Scooter’s current hit single:
“The Question is: What is the Question?!”
..or in my words: “The problem is: What is the Problem?!”
Well.. Currently there seems to be a lot of discussion going on about moneteasing äh- monetization – or actually about the possible future problems of making money online by publishing ‘free’ content – which seems to be one of the sole reasons people publish things on the web anyways. Some people seem to be so bitter about this ‘problem’ that they started blocking Firefox – hoping to make Adsense-blocking visitors understand that advertisement is needed to cover the costs of free content.. Others seem to switch to in my opinion even worse/ more ‘evil’ advertisement techniques such as text-ads – text-links that are shown in the middle of a text – leaving the visitors of a website with no choice of ignoring or even blocking the ad since it ‘camouflages’ perfectly well..

Hm. I must say I am puzzled – but I’m sure we will sooner or later hear and read more about this subject – if not all weblogs went bankrupt too soon..:]

..happy browsing! t..

ps1: personally I honestly love ads..:] ..seriously! ..not only because I use them as a publisher to earn some server cost covering Euro-Dollars – but also as a visitor/user because I’m always curious about other people’s content relevant ads, their appearance.. – ..and yes: I do think that some people are going too far with their monetization techniques – and those ‘über-motivated’ might actually probably be partly the reason why nowadays people seem to prefer Adblock to Adsense. monetizers

ps2: conclusion: Adblock vs. Adsense 1:0

ps3: related articles (not ads!)

finally: a MacBook Pro (here! we! go!)

the title of this post might be a little bit misleading – but it just fits so well to the following little story.. Here we go: About one year a go my most beloved five years old Powerbook broke down – went insane in the main frame – had enough of all the pitty and denied all orders.

What happened..? The motherboard got ‘tired’ or ‘ill’ or actually it just broke. The screen froze in front of my eyes – and after trying a restart it just didn’t start up anymore. That was that.

Of course I was just in the middle of something – so I just had to get a new working station right away – and that’s how I got my new ‘SurfBoard’ I’m sitting at right now: a 15″ MacBook Pro, 2 GHz Intel Core Duo Processor, 1GB Ram etc..

With this new device new problems arose right away: first it was ‘just’ software related problems.. – ..I thought:

My good old software packet ‘Macromedia Studio MX’ was also working partly on the new MacBook, only the most crucial little application ‘Dreamweaver MX’ did not want to cooperate.. – ..and without ‘Dreamweaver’ I can’t really do my daily business..! So I bought ‘Macromedia Studio 8’ right away, about 48 hours after I got my MacBook Pro..

Then everything seemed to work well – I was of course wondering about these daily crashes and the screen freezing every now and then, sometimes even generating ‘nice’ little patterns that strongly reminded me of Knitted Pullovers made in Sweden.. I blamed it on the software – and that the software wasn’t probably capable yet to run on such a fine device like my MacBoo Pro. I blamed it on the Operating System – and updated it. I blamed iTunes, Skype – and kept updating whatever I could update – and just hoped, that one fine day I would have all programs running crash free – and that this would also make the crashes and the freezes and the Swedish Pullover Patterns go away..

Then one day I downloaded ‘Second Life’. From different sources I knew that ‘Second Life’ should just run fine on my machine – but no matter what I tried – ‘Second Life’ froze latest after five minutes – every try fo ‘fly’ ended in a system crash. After even putting up a blank user account with only ‘Second Life’ on it (which also didn’t help) I quit blaming the software – it had to be a hardware problem.

So I packed my MacBook Pro and some ‘nice’ screen shots of crashes and went down the long road to the official Berlin Apple Macintosh repair and assembling shop in Kreuzberg (the company is called Card-Service). First I had some difficulties explaining my problems to the technicians. Of course my MacBook Pro would not want to crash or freeze just like that in front of some technicians.. Trying the F9-Exposé-function ‘helped’: it froze/crashed right away..

About two weeks later I went there again to pick my precious device up and take it home. The motherboard had been exchanged – a free of charge case of a guarantee. Hurray! Finally my MacBook Pro continued to run for more than 24h – no more freezes, no more crashes, no more Swedish Knitwear Patterns..:] ..and finally and for the first time I had the feeling that this one year old but ‘brand new’ device was actually faster and more reliable than my previous ‘good old’ Powerbook..!!

A few days later I ‘just’ wanted to upload some picture I took with my beloved NOKIA 6600 via BlueTooth. But what was that: no BlueTooth hardware found..?! Back to Kreuzberg I went – another case of a guarantee – another four days later I had my ‘PowerBoard’ back.

Back home I was a bit sceptic – even though BlueTooth and MotherBoard seemed to work well. I had to catch up with some work – and so I thought ‘first things first’ and began to write some bills. And that the moment I felt something strange going on underneith my fingertips: the plus key [+] and some other keys started behaving strangely.. – ..so i paid a third visit to that Macintosh workshop – I was alredy greeted with one eye brow up and a skewed smile, cheering comments and sceptic questions – quickly a new keyboard was ordered and less then 48 hours later assembled..

Now more then two weeks passed – no other strangenesses occured – and I am quite optimistic that I won’t see again the Kreuzberg workshop staff so soon.. I knock on wood, cross my fingers and just hope hope hope that my ‘good new’ portable computer runs at leas as bravely and reliable as it should..:] It’s been a long way – but on that way I did neither loose my faith nor my ‘religion’: I still believe in Apple Macintosh Computers and I am happy to (finally) have one: MacBook Pro!

Greetz, t..