Grexit

So today Greece stopped paying back its debts to the IWF. After a couple of month with the new Greek government the European leaders are fed up with these ‘unprofessional’ people. Everybody, including Junker and almost all of the German political establishment claim that they are annoyed by the behavior of Mr. Tsipras and Mr. Varoufakis and other greek politicians.

The German press makes the right sounds to support these feelings, and a Spiegel poll claims that about 70% of the Germans are ready to dump Greece. Because they didn’t obey and cut down more services, lower pensions and whatever we think might ‘help’ them to become better people.

What makes me wonder about something. In all the discussions and proposals about cutting down one area was never really discussed (at least in public). Greece has even in 2012, while the country was already suffering badly, been buying weapons like crazy. According to Zeit they still wanted Eurofighters, tanks, frigate and other goods for warfare and defense. And you know what? This topic never came up in public discussions.

So cutting down on public health is a good idea. But the military-industrial complex continues to sell to an almost bankrupt country. And the politicians don’t seem to be bothered.

Kind of weird, I thought. Then I though again. Kind of normal.

Busy Sunday with LinkedIn

So some guy sent me an invitation earlier today. He wanted to add me to his professional network. I actually know him (if I recall it right, so sure thing I agreed! I need friends anyway, or at least professionals connected to me. Not sure which one is better though.

Then for reasons that I cannot explain I continued futzing around with LinkedIn, and after pressing a button here and a button there the system suggested that I should connect to these 190 people (that LinkedIn believes I know or should know). Again, sure thing, I pressed the button.

Bildschirmfoto 2015-03-01 um 14.17.53About 2 minutes later my iPhone started humming. And it continues humming ever since. About every minute once. And Michael and David and Suzanne and Peter and … they all seem to be online and agree to be me new buddies! Now isn’t this a wonderful result for a rainy Sunday afternoon?

Oh – and just now Christian has agreed to connect with me as well. I’m almost ready to cry!

A Ninja is Dead

I’ve been one of these folks who bought a Ninja Block pretty early after they appeared. This was in the time before I knew much about Arduinos and Raspberry Pi’s. My block turned out to be fun to play with: I could read humidity and temperature and stream my webcam. Through its nice little REST interface I had a chance to link all this into my small web universe.

Anyway, I liked it so much that I wanted to buy another one for another location, again with all the sensors you need. Turned out that everything is sold out, and the Ninja folks say that they are planning the next big thing – the Ninja Sphere. And even small things like a temp sensors continue to be sold out :(

I don’t know when the announcement for the Sphere started, but by now it feels like a year or two. Nothing has happened since then, at least nothing that I can see. No release dates, just a link to a weird release plan in one of their blog posts.

Too bad. I really liked to type in the ninja URL.

Do we need another Tiger?

I love to play golf, and I love to watch golf on TV or even visiting a tournament. This year’s major tournaments were especially exciting, with Bubba Watson, Martin Kaymer and now Rory McIllroy winning. So we see a nice variety of players winning the tournaments in the US and in Europe. Looks like there’s a whole bunch of players that can win.

But the golf commentators and the golf press continue to ask with every major win if the winner is the next Tiger. Personally, I think this is a really stupid and boring discussion. It is great to have this variety show, where a lot of young and old players are head-to-head and you never know what’s going to happen. It is just fun to watch new player like Victor Dubuisson show up and play in a wonderful way. Long ago seems the time where players were scared of the dominance of Tiger Woods and were just bending over and surrendering when Tiger played in a tournament.

While it might be important for the marketing dudes and the industry to have one superstar, the idea of a broad field of really good players and fearless competitors is a lot more appealing to me as a spectator. Gone are the times where a muscle-packed Tiger could just out-power everybody else, hit it somewhere into the deep rough and just hit it back onto the green. I love to watch these fearless and smart young player a lot more.

So I hope that neither of them will turn out to be as dominant as Tiger was. Sorry, dear golf industry.

Screen Scraping

After my last post I was actually contacted by 2 people asking for more current information on the website that I had built. In particular, they were interested in the conditions of the winter sports facilities that we have in the region (ski-lifts, cross-country trails).

I looked around, and the only information available was on the web sites of the facility operators. No central place where all the data was collected and made available. Since I had never done screen scraping before, I wasn’t really sure what to do.

Reading up on Stackoverflow and other resources I learned that I had to read an HTML site, turn it into a DOM object and find the right places with the right information for the facilities (closed, open, good conditions, red.gif, green.gif). Looking around I found a nice helper library that served me very well with my first version: For every webpage to get data from I wrote a little PHP script to capture the data.

This worked well for the first facility, where the website was quite responsive. The second one was making more trouble with regard to response times. Now I had a 6 sec wait before my page was displaying. That wasn’t really acceptable, because I have still 2 more places to scrape.

gersfeld-ski

So I took the Saturday afternoon to make it work asynchronously. It turned out to be quite easy: I continued to use my PHP scripts, but converted them into functions that could be called with AJAX calls, returning JSON data. From there it took only a couple more minutes, and I was finished. Displaying the site itself is really fast again, and since the scraped information doesn’t show up in the visible part of the browser things can take a little longer. But even scrolling down right away is fun: I enjoy watching the data show up!

Webcams

For quite some time I was toying with the idea to create a little information page for the town of Gersfeld. The home page of the town is pretty bad, and I was thinking it should be easy to provide a more interesting design, good information and some cool content.

After having moved my Ninja Block gear up to Gersfeld, having gathered some experience in location data and map display through the development of the new Eclipse events page and some experimentation with the Bootstrap framework I had most of the pieces together.  I just had to add the webcam stream that we use in our holiday apartment website, and off I went.

The site http://gersfeld-webcam.de/ is now online since a couple of weeks, and I’m trying to add more and more information about local businesses and points of interest to the site. The number of visitors (other than myself) is still below 10 per day, but there are actually a few now that come and have a look every day.

Now I wonder what else I can do with the site. Any ideas?

Living A Good Life

I’m just relaxing from a couple of rough days at work. We were in Toulouse for the first ever EclipseCon France, and after these days of constant ‘on’ I felt it was about time to sit down and relax.

So we rented a B&B between Toulouse and Carcassone, expecting a few nice and warm days in southern France, eating good food and drinking good red wine. And guess what: Everything except the warm days works out fine. It’s just raining cats and dogs …

Which turns out to be to my advantage. I was able to find the time to start a book I wanted to read for quite a while: How Much is enough by father and son Skidelsky.

Now that question I have been asking myself for some time now, and I have started to experiment with it. Strongly believing that I have too much stuff, I was looking into my belongings and am trying to get rid of things. While throwing out some  old T-Shirts and books was not such a big deal, selling my car was actually a big change in lifestyle (that I do not regret at all).

And really: Why would you need a fancy holiday resort if you can rent a nice room in a B&B with a great view of the Pyrenees (if weather would permit)?

But the rain has a good side as well: It forces me to do nothing but hang around here. And that’s when I ran into another interesting read: Mr. Money Mustache’s exciting blog. So here I sit now and think about the good life, as they both call it. And wonder if I should start reading up on Stoicism again. Or go and get rid of even more crap that is lying around in my house. Or cancel our Sky TV subscriptions.

I think it will end up being many of all these ideas.

The Arrival of the Ninja Blocks

Want to see the temperature on my balkony: Here we go – powered by Ninja blocks:

A Day in Bob’s Life

Have you ever read the book The 4-hour week by Timothy Ferriss? I read it a couple of years ago, and it made me think very hard about the way I do my job. Is there anything that I should not do? Are there tasks that I could outsource? I ended up asking my employee to hire an assistent for me, which he did. It has helped me to do my job better and in less time.

With friends, I have often discusses if there’s more that could be outsourced, even if I had to pay for the service myself. While we liked the idea in principle, none of us , at least to my knowledge, has followed up on that idea.

Now today I read this blog (for the German readers: You can find an article in Zeit Online as well). A guy named Bob really took the 4-Hour-Week lessons to the extreme and outsourced his entire activities as a developer to an Chinese company. And not only this: It looks like he took on a couple of other jobs in addition!

So while he was still spending the day in the office, surfing and watching cat videos, somebody in China was developing away for a small percentage of Bob’s salary. The Chinese logged in to the company VPN and delivered code that led to Bob being elected as the best developer of the company for years!

Hell, I have to read the book again and rethink this approach! And I have to investigate outsourcing to India in more detail!

One problem might be that I really don’t like cat videos :-)

The little things

It’s rainy, and it has been rainy for a couple of days. And it’s too warm. We should have snow! But oh well, we’re heading out to Austria for some skiing. Or swimming – that’s actually more likely.

So I went to my favorite Turkish store to buy some stuff. And then I was in the kitchen for a couple of hours, preparing all these delicious appetizers that I will take with me tomorrow!

The imam fainted

The source of the inspiration is – and has been for a while now – a German website run by a few people that just seem to love Turkish cooking. And from the first time I ended up there I visit again and agin.

Just recently they have published a great cook book. Too bad for all you guys that it’s in German.But if you happen to read German, go get it. It not only helps us over the rainy days, it also gives us Turkish delight!

And off I go, to make a couple more Meze, if you don’t mind. If you are with me in Austria in the next couple of days, you can taste them :-)