spaetzblog

Stuff that doesn't matter

Lé Facebook

Sunday, 03 June 2012 | Private | comments

http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7237/7328195510_84ba9da15b.jpg

©Spaeth, licensed: CC-BY-3.0

I don't know what problem people have with Facebook shares going down a bit. Have they really expected it to remain at a Price/Earnings ratio of 70 when all other technology companies are around 15? Do they really believe that it is more than twice of Siemens worth? Bad for investors, storm in a teacup for the firm, why should they care about their share price too much?

You know you are successful if french wine is labeled as "idéal pour Facebook".

Sinusitis

Wednesday, 25 April 2012 | Private, sick | comments

You learn a new word every day. Today's word is Sinusitis (Nasennebenhöhlenentzündung), and I can relate to it first-hand right now.

Head Ache, Overpressured (nearly) exploding head, Slight Fever, tooth ache (outch!), cramp in my jaw are not nice to have. And so I am bound to bed, while Oliver Alexy is giving a seminar on Open Source at our chair. This sucks. I so wanted to see and talk to him...

Long time no blog

Monday, 12 December 2011 | Private | comments

Oh my, I have not blogged for a long time. Need to fix that. Basically, I have been sick for the last three weeks. My family and I seem to take turns in getting sick (and to contaminate each other).

So I missed my chairs Christmas dinner, where Stefan and Fotini prepared all the delicious food themselves this year, a pity.... I am also close to declaring email bankruptcy, not having read my private email account for something close to 2 weeks now. Not mentioning, not following all the exciting things that I tend to read.

Things are getting a bit better, and we able to celebrate Johanna's second birthday today. I hope the next year will have her develop further and catching up with all the stuff that kids usually do, like learning to walk and talk...

On a side note, Oliver really felt sick this morning and he said when we ate Brithday cake, he said to me:

"Daddy, could you please hold my cake? I need to vomit." (which he finally did not do). Now, that is polite, isn't it?

Coop Supercard ist nicht super

Wednesday, 09 November 2011 | Private, credit card, Rant, Coop | comments

Ganz klar, eine Kreditkarte ist heutzutage unerlässlich falls man zum Beispiel einen Mietwagen kaufen, im nicht-EU Ausland reisen, oder etwas im Internet bezahlen will (Click & Pay und wie sie alle heissen sind nicht wirklich besser).

Also habe ich auch eine, die COOP Supercard. Aber nicht mehr lange. Denn das Geschäftsgebahren des Kartenherausgebers kommt sehr nahe an Abzocke ran, und da reagiere ich allergisch.

Es gibt keine Möglichkeit online seine Käufe einzusehen, d.h. man muss bis zur monatlichen Abrechnung warten um die Posten überprüfen zu können. Nicht wirklich praktisch, aber auch noch kein Killer.

Aber die Rechnungen werden so spät verschickt, dass sie erst 11 Tage(!) nach dem aufgedruckten Rechnungsdatum überhaupt erst bei uns im Briefkasten ankommen. Dazu kommt, dass man eine Zahlungsfrist von nur 20 Tagen hat, und eine automatische Abbuchung bei Kunden der PostFinance nicht möglich ist. Zu den Fristen sagt der Kartenherausgeber AECS:

Zinsen werden erst dann belastet, wenn der vollständige Rechnungsbetrag nicht innerhalb der vorgesehenen Frist von 20 Tagen beglichen wird. Zinsen werden über den gesamten Rechnungsbetrag bis zum Zahlungseingang berechnet. Bitte beachten Sie, dass es 3-5 Arbeitstage dauern kann, bis eine Zahlung bei uns eintrifft. Dies ist im schweizerischen Zahlungsverkehr durchaus üblich.

Rechnungsdatum + 11 Tage + 3-5 Arbeitstage Überweisung lässt mir effektiv zwischen 2-6 Tage Zeit die Überweisung in Gang zu setzen. Was ich nicht wirklich immer schaffe, denn unter der Woche komme ich zu so etwas kaum. D.h. es stehen regelmässig ca. 2CHF Überziehungszinsen auf meiner Rechnung.

Die Angabe der Zinsen ist allerdings so intransparent, dass nicht klar ist für welchen Zeitraum oder welche Summe die Zinsen gelten, diesen Monat standen Almut auf einmal 20CHF Überziehungsgebühren zusätzlich zu den Zinsen auf der Rechnung. ES REICHT!

Es ist unglaublich die Rechnung erst 11 Tage nach dem aufgedruckten Rechnungsdatum zu haben und am 20. Tag sofort mit den Überziehungszinsen bestraft zu werden! Es ist schlecht, dass die Rechnung nicht transparent zeigt, für welchen Zeitraum und welche Summe sie Überziehungszinsen verlangt. Und es ist nicht zeitgemäss dem Kunden den Onlineeinblick in seine Einkäufe (oder Rückzahlungen) zu verwehren. Ein Anruf beim Kundenservice half nichts, also kündigen Almut und ich meine SuperCard jetzt. Ciao.

P.S: Dazu wurden die Bonus-Kickbackzahlungen auf 0.33% gesenkt (alle anderen haben 0.5%).

An afternoon at Google (ZH)

Monday, 31 October 2011 | Private, Google | comments

Wow, I wish I could have taken pictures! Today, Frida, Martin's girl friend, took us for a visit at Google's Zurich office. And, oh boy, our own offices feel so dull now...

The offices itself are actually pretty generic and crammed with loads of people sharing a single room, and very little space for privacy. What makes the facilities so special is actually the space between the offices.

The fact that you have subsidized hair-cutter and massage facilities are probably not so special nowadays, but to have fireman's poles between floors that can be used by employees is special. Most of the poles that I have observed seemed to end in some kind of cafeteria or lounge which exist on any floor. Quick access to food is also provided by the slide which ends right in the middle of the main cafeteria, where we had lunch.

Lunch is provided for free to employees, at least I could not detect any kind of billing system. It was a bit of a special lunch in any case, as the kitchen celebrated Halloween, and we had chopped of feet, and liver from the kitchen chef, with bloody ice cream. Yummy :-).

In fact, food remained at the center of interest during that visit: There are plenty of lounges, each one themed differently (and often to match each floor's theme): We saw the Sky lounge in floor 7, overlooking Zurich, the Djungle lounge which has a true rainforesty feeling to it, with small seating spots in the wilderness. Any "ivy-league university library" lounge complete with leather fouteuils (bar the selection of computer books in the shelves). A tube-station-themed cafe, and plenty others, plus a set of "microkitchens" all over the place. What all of these facilities had in common was really nice espresso and coffee machines (as admitted by our connoisseur Stefan), plus fridges full of coke, Ben&Jerries, and Mövenpick ice crea & other snacks available for free. The "library" offers fresh bread and breakfast all day round. I would certainly grow fat there! :-).

TO work off the calories, you could always go to the gym, or the sports club for a round of table tennis. Having eaten too much, one might also enjoy the "water lounge": a cool, quiet, dark room, with one wall consisting of aquariums, and opposite a row of massage chairs and bath tubs to lie in (with styropor foam for a comfy lie in).

To compensate for the non-private, shared office space, there is plenty of possibilities for small meetings: each floor sports "phone booths", ie old skiing gondolas, decorated after the floor's theme. We enjoyed especially the Roger Federer cabin, whose seats had been covered with sliced tennis balls, and the soccer gondola, covered with fake grass carpets.

TV screens in these lounges display the status of various things: if daily builds of projects succeeded and whatnot.

A lot of tiny things show that the place has purposefully been decorated with a nod towards playfullness: two hidden mice roam the tube-cafe, the 20% room which has a "binary" carpet sports a Google logo in one corner, the "tech stops" (support facilities) are decorated with surf boards and have a relaxed look about them (being situated next to a lounge might help).

One of my favorite rooms was the cinema... A presentation room, with about 40 chairs, none of which looked the same. There were thrones, small sofas, fouteills, plush hairs, in all colors and sizes, and it looked amazing.

Overall, I suppose it is OK to cram people in shared offices if you offer social spaces to retreat to, meat, eat, and work in quiet.

It was an amazing visit (Thanks Frida), and I returned with a stomach full of Espresso and Ben&Jerries, and a head full of inspiration, awestricken from that trip. Can I apply to work at Google now?

P.S. And yes, there is the mythical 20% area, in which employees get to work on some extra projects, should they chose to do so (and have it granted). When we were there, only one lady with her dog was working there though (seen a couple of dogs there, BTW).

Die Wolke

Saturday, 12 March 2011 | Private | comments

Gerade höre ich vom Erdbeben in Japan, und der anschliessenden Explosion, die zu einem Austritt von Radioaktivität führte. Ich musste sofort an "Die Wolke" denken.

Erinnert sich noch jemand an das Buch, dass 1988 von Gudrun Pausewang erschien? Das war kurz nach Tschernobyl und ich 14 Jahre alt. Ich erinnere mich nicht mehr an die Details, aber es war eines der Bücher, die mich am Meisten mitgenommen haben.

Ich glaube es gibt auch einen Film dazu, den ich aber nie gesehen habe. Ist der sehenswert?

Ahh, und von wegen, sowas kann in Deutschland nicht passieren, da es hier keine so heftigen Erdbeben gibt: Obwohl natürlich noch keiner nichts genaues weiss... Der Schaden kam wohl nicht als direkte Folge des Erbebens, sonder laut BBC:

An attempt to explain the risk to the Fukushima nuclear plants following the earthquake: The plants are designed to shut down automatically, which halts the main nuclear fission reaction, but there is a residual amount of intense heat within the system. Back-up generators should kick in to power the cooling mechanisms needed to dissipate that heat - but if they fail, as appears to have happened here, temperatures rise. If this isn't stopped, the reactor vessel itself could eventually melt and leak.

Ein anderer Report sagt, dass die Notstromaggregate angesprungen wären, aber nach einer Stunde aus (der Öffentlichkeit) unbekannten Gründen wieder abschalteten.

May we live in interesting times...

Semlafrukost i Göteborg

Tuesday, 08 March 2011 | Private | comments

mmh, semlor!

© powi, licensed: CC-BY-2.0

Heute ist in Schweden "Fettisdagen" (aka Fat Tuesday, Mardis Gras, oder Fastnacht). Und in dieser Zeit gibt es "Semlor". Eine Semla ist im Grunde ein riesiger Windbeutel, der mit Sahne und Mandelmasse gefüllt ist.

Habe heute in Göteborg an der Uni ein Semlafrukost gehabt, ein richtig leichtes Frühstück. Ummpf. :-). Lecker!

Terminal the sequel

Monday, 20 December 2010 | Private | comments

The displays looked similar to this one...

© johnmcga, licensed: CC-BY-NC-2.0

I feel like Tom Hanks in "Terminal" now, having come back from the worst trip, I ever did. At 50h journey from St.Louis to Zurich, with a 30h stopover in London Heathrow. And I am lucky, I just got away, as the airport seems to have been closed for the next 2-3 days after I left.

All began on my way back when BAA took 30 minutes to position some stairs at our aircraft, so we could disembark. This meant, my connection flight to Zurich (which still left on time) was gone. And around this time snow hell started in Europe. I was rebooked on a flight to Frankfurt instead (which suited me well, as I had planned to visit my family in Germany anyway). That flight was first displayed as "on time", then as "2h delayed", then as "on time" again. Half an hour before boarding started, its status went to "cancelled". So were basically all other flights to Sweden, France, Netherlands, Switzerland, and Germany. So, I rebooked on the next flight to Frankfurt a few hours later. This one was cancelled too. So, I was rebooked on the next flight, leaving the next morning, which meant I would be spending the night at the airport.

I slept in a place like this.

©Reuters

I tried to book a hotel (250£), no luck all booked out. They called various other hotels, no luck either. So I slept on the marble floor in the airport (the rows of chairs all have screwed on handholds, so you can't lie on a few chairs). At 2.30am some airport employees offered me a yoga mat and an aluminium foil blanket which I gladly took (the floor was really cold).

The next morning I tried to board another plane to Frankfurt. We sat grounded in the plane for 3 hours until they announced that the flight was cancelled. So I was rebooked to a flight to Paris, which was soon after cancelled. So I was rebooked on a flight to Milano (with the possibility to continue to Frankfurt or Zurich from there).

Our plane left half an hour late and while driving to the runway it started snowing. After 5 minutes of snow, at the starting position on the runway hour start was aborted (NOOO, that was close!!!). Back to the gate and Waiting for deicing: Another 4h in a plane on the ground. Fortunately, we then started to Milano, arriving with a 4.5h delay. One out of 2 Milano airports were already closed when landing. HURRAY, away from LHR!!!

Of course all connecting flights in Milano cancelled. I gave up on flying, managed barely to get the very last train to Zurich. Why do neither ticket vendors nor conductors in international trains speak at least a tiny bit of English in Italy? Thanks Giulia for helping me get a ticket (twice as expensive as Swiss rail suggested. By now I didn't care about money anymore).

I made it home at 1am, after exactly 50h of traveling, and 30h in Lon. Heathrow. I have 11 boarding cards, organized 5 rebookings to Zurich, Frankfurt, Paris, OR Milano and passed the security check 6 times in Heathrow alone.

While I can't blame anyone for bad wheather, I missed my first flight (which was on time) because BAA did not manage to get some stairs to our plane in LHR for 30 minutes after us being in final position! Also had 200€ of lost expenses for hotels and trains I never took. What a horror.

The Belgian Ministry of Justice

Friday, 10 December 2010 | Private | comments

Belgium Ministry of Justice Logo

©The Belgian government (I guess)

Today, I saw a logo and followed the link to the official Belgian Ministry of Justice website. Yes, the thing on the very left is their logo. What does it look like to you? Rorschach test! If you see a women's string with an "look here" arrow pointing to sensitive areas, you should either:

  1. visit your local Psychoanalyst who is well versed in Freudian issues and/or
  2. sue the heck out of the Belgians for objectification of women (or whatnot).