zürich to münchen by boat (ok, almost)

i'm off to münchen (aka munich) for a business meeting tomorrow. as i wanted to leave in the early afternoon, both deutsche bahn and SBB offer me two rather peculiar routes: i had thought i'd have to take an EC going straight (well, almost straight) from zürich to münchen — no luck: i can either

  • go zürich — schaffhausen — ulm — münchen, or
  • go zürich — romanshorn — [ferry] — friedrichshafen — ulm — münchen

the route across lake constanze takes 1min longer. tough decision. of course, i take the lake constanze route … the weather is fantastic: lots of dramatic clouds with the occassional burst of sunshine thrown in. while crossing lake constanze a rain front moves over from the swiss side towards the german shore…dramatic pictures!

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in friedrichshafen harbour german custom officers are eager as always, asking interesting questions (my favourite still is whether i had been on a study trip to switzerland — come again? [doro's assumption is that they want to throw you off guard and depending on your reaction you are either in for the big one or can go])…they let me off again this time and i reach the train to friedrichshafen station with just a minute to spare (clearly not designed for the elderly this schedule). three minutes later we are in friedrichshafen station — i've always wondered whether it's a bonus or a punishment to be the train driver on what must be the shortest train run in all of europe — and a moment later in the IRE train to ulm. at 17:45 we reach the thriving station of ulm where i have a look around in the bookshop, watch the new station display (proudly advertised by ABB or was it AEG, can't remember), notice with amusement that it's already broken (not advertised by neither ABB nor AEG) and finally catch the chock-full ICE train to munich (chock-full even in first class!). as my IBM research thinkpad (as opposed to my private thinkpad) has sucked it's batteries dry since before we reached ulm and as the ICE train to munich is an old one without power sockets i just read the süddeutsche zeitung and der spiegel. we reach munich with +5 but who cares? at the taxi queue i wait patiently until the two taxi drivers whose taxis are in the front of the queue have sorted out whatever they have to sort out and when there is a lull in their conversation manage to get a request for a taxi in edgeways — and off we go. what time we had lost with their conversation we seem to make good by speeding: it is raining cats & dogs, the variable speed limit on the autobahn to riem says "80 kmh", we are going 130kmh. it's with considerable relief that i disembark that rocket on wheels at the prinzregent hotel an der messe — a nicely modernized old inn. the people at reception are very nice, my room is rather large (and a bit on the chilly side as the window has been left open all day, but that is soon cured by turning the heating on). after a call with doro i'm off to have dinner in the downstairs restaurant. dinner turns out to be an interesting experience. the menu hints at aspirations. i decide to go for the 3 part menu (soup, main, desert) for €30. the soup, a pumpkin soup, would have been really good had the chef not put too much salt into it — unfortunately, he seems to be on a salt budget: the main dish is missing a good seasoning (which, fortunately, can be remedied). the desert turns out to be really excellent. so, a mixed experience. next time i'll try the bar snacks (more down to earth).

that was winter…hello again, spring

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at the beginning of the week we had sub 0° temperatures, last sunday it was bloody cold…since yesterday we have 17+°C! with 21°C forecast for monday and tuesdayafter church and a pot of tea we are off on a rather nice walk. i’m quite surprised not to see nor smell any BBQs — usually the swiss are the first in all of continental europe to get crack(l)ing with their BBQ gear. we had one neighbour who even tried to beat the crowd and did a BBQ in the midst of winter! and to go really over the top, he used a…shopping cart!

though, as one of my fellow scientist colleagues remarked: the method left a bit to be desired. the optimum effect would have been had by placing the meat inside the shopping cart and by lighting the fire under the cart itself (he placed a table grill inside the cart: amateur).

…stop press…canton of zürich provides linux version of income tax program…stop press…

it'sprivate tax for linux! time again for the yearly income tax declaration. being used to having to run windows for this i had my vmware with windows XP up and running and was using mozilla firefox from within vmware to download the local income tax program, when the most astonishing thing happened: there was a download link for a linux version! so, nix windows XP, shutdown vmware again, download the linux client! it's written in java and so far (i'm almost done with the tax declaration itself) works like a charm. i'm seriously impressed. well done!

keeping secret email secret: FBI agents without email…

just read an article in today’s guardianNo e-mail for FBI agents about new york’s FBI agents being without email accounts — for monetary reasons. hmm. — but then, who needs email? i guess they have a postbox with the US postal service…which coming to think of it is better suited for people like FBI agents: at least my letterbox has never played a sound or rung the bell when a new letter arrived, whereas stuff like the blackberry can do this: and, think about it, it wouldn’t really do to have "you have secret email!" played while you are doing that top-secret-under-cover observation of…of…of…(well, we can’t tell, obviously, because it’s, err, a secret). 

and! what better way to keep secret email secret than to have agents without email accounts? their emails will not be left behind in a pub…  

a visit to north germany…

just back from a visit to my parents in north germany. it was a very nice weekend: weather was not too fantastic but also not too bad. it was good to have time to just catch up (and eat: i’ve only recently realized how much my family is into eating, not quite on the big fat greek wedding level, but…)

on saturday my father and i went to “downtown delmenhorst” and bought vegetables, eggs, and smoked fish at the market — i took the opportunity to take a couple of pictures:

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on sunday afternoon it’s back to erlangen for some quality time with dorothee.

as i said a very nice weekend (and if we are very lucky, my father’s now “optimized” PC will keep on working…)

puzzling sipgate.de…

as i wrote before i’m using sipgate.de for my VoIP calls. as i don’t really want to be bothered with recharging my prepaid sipgate account i signed up for the automatic account recharge and set the limit to €10.00. well, as you can see on the right sipgate.de seems to be a bit confuzzled…

sipgate-autorecharging

 

the iPod…packaged by microsoft?

via jawbone a link to a “what would an iPod package look like had microsoft designed it” video on google video. nice.

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p.s.: according to iPodObserver the video was produced by…microsoft themselves! makes them a bit more likeable for being able to have a laugh about themselves.

dining with ex-chancellor schröder in zürich…

tonight good friends from the UK (who were on their way to a week of skiing) and i met for a relaxed evening in one of zürich’s swiss restaurants in oberdorf. we had a rather good time, chatting and swapping stories when i noticed an elder gentleman passing our table on his way back from the “facilities” — and i did a slight double-take because that gentleman looked remarkably like the german ex-chancellor gerhard schröder: his face, his posture, all almost exactly like him…

…little wonder, as it was him himself (i mean even i do a passable imitation of myself on a good day) — confirmed by the excited waiters. so, we were dining with ex-chancellor schröder…well, kind of…

photos back in place & a picture a day now reverse sorted…

i’m slowly getting all the various bits and pieces back into place. first on my list was getting my picture collection linked back in: which is done now (along with apache rewrite rules for all those old links). then my reader (okay, understatement, i know of 5 by name), one of my reader (mr w) had the rather brilliant suggestion to have the "a picture a day" folder sorted in reverse order, so that it would be easier to see the fresh stuff…i aim to please: after a lot of headscratching i finally bit the bullet and read the manual pages of JAlbum (the tool i use to generate my web album) — and you won’t believe it, but they actually describe in there how one can quite easily specify a different search order for a subdirectory! amazing thing, manuals. so the "a picture a day" album is now sorted in reverse order: the freshed pictures first!

site relaunch…3…2…1…lift-off!

as you might have noticed: good old d2h.net looks different! yep, i switched (while you were not looking, yes) the underlying blog system from blosxom to wordpress. most of the stuff is already migrated. some of the layout elements (logo, irish blessing) are still out for lunch but are reported to be on their way in.