The sharing economy: Uber will stop ignoring rulings

Just came across an article in a German internet news portal. The headline claims that Uber won’t ignore official rulings anymore. That is an interesting statement. It makes it clear that Uber thought in the past it is above all and everybody. And it leads to another thought: At least here in Germany they had to stop the bullying and behave. I really appreciate that the German cities have started to take a stand and show the Überflieger that the same rules apply to everybody. The Germany manager of Uber, Christian Freese sounds now like the wolf who ate chalk. He even claims that Uber is trying to cooperate with the traditional taxi firms.

UberBlack has been prohibited in Berlin, and UberPop has been prohibited Germany-wide.

And while we talk about it: Berlin has taken a stance and is reclaiming rental space from AirBnB and similar companies. But more on the friends-rent-to-friends companies in a different post.

Some links to recent Uber articles:

Global Warming – Local Skiing

Well, I do understand that many people worldwide still don’t believe in global warming. And who knows, they may or may not be right. While most scientists think all the research is pointing towards it, there are still sceptic people who don’t believe. But I leave it to John Oliver to discuss this.

What is becoming clear even to the biggest sceptic in Germany is that having a decent winter ski vacation is becoming more and more difficult. I spent last week in beautiful Bad Tölz with the hope for powder. The idea was to take a bus or the train to a nice ski region close by. Now, turns out that I went hiking along the Isar instead, with the temperature around 10°C. For good skiing, I’d have to travel far and go high up. Way more expensive than I had budgeted for.

Ok. This could be an exception. And next year will be just fine. On the other hand, I’m tracking ski-lift operation in Rhön now since a couple of years on my website. And guess what: Last year was a wash for the operators, and this year looks even worse.

Just when I drove back from Bad Tölz a statement from the German government became public. According to them only one out of ten ski regions in central Europe will be snow-safe in the coming years, and about two thirds of all the ski regions won’t survive, even with artificial snow.

Good that I didn’t buy new skies.

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.

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 🙂

Saving Money and Having Fun

Are you tired of hotel breakfast? And paying for WiFi? WiFi that might not even exist in your room, because it’s only available in the lobby? Well, I am.

Think about a standard hotel like the Holiday Inn at Gare de’l Est in Paris. You pay 15 € for the breakfast (scrambled eggs from powder, bread that would need some more baking, sweet stuff all over …) and you pay 10 € per day for the WiFi access. WiFi really works only in the lobby and bar area, in your room you have to buy cable access, which adds extra cost. And if you own an nice computer like I do, it won’t even feature an ethernet plug anymore …

The alternative is really simple:

In the morning, step out of the hotel, go around the corner. Here you find bars and brasseries with excellent breakfast offers (2 * coffe, omelette with ham and cheese) for 9 €. And the WiFi is free and fast.

Same is true for the evenings. Rather than staying in your hotel room, hang out in the bars and restaurants. Work and eat for less, and sometimes it even happens that people start talking to you. In any case, while doing your email you can take a break and watch the crowd.

Enjoy.

Cold As April

Still not seeing a lot of spring here in Zwingenberg. And I hear it’s pretty much all over Germany. Statistics show that we had have the coldest April in years.

The farmers like it. The cold weather was accompanied by quite some rain, and we all know that a rainy spring is the farmer’s delight. They all look forward to a good harvest if the next couple of days continue with some rain and the sun and warm weather comes out in early May.

I’ll miss the beautiful time here on the Hessian Bergstrasse. Spring is just gorgeous here in the Rhine valley. We still have many apple- and cherry trees, and the blossoming is phantastic.

But I’ll be in Italy and participate in a meeting close to Naples and then attend the Eclipse Day in Florence. And I admit: Things could have been worse for me!