The sharing economy: The new disconnected precariat?

Many say that the sharing economy creates many opportunities for everybody. Everybody can make a lot of money, and it can be earned on the side. An Uber driver can earn more money than a taxi driver. So I was told by a taxi driver in Berlin who was very angry that he cannot driver for Uber in Germany.

Not sure if it’s true. My Columbian friend told a slightly different story. Translating his thoughts sounded more like he has to drive a few of hours every day to get into positive numbers. There’s gas, loan payments for the car, insurance – well, not sure if he actually pays insurance or if he cheats? Some sources indicate that Uber isn’t really that diligent on checking if their drivers are all insured. Actually – it’s not their drivers anyway. They do not enjoy employment status by any means from what I understand. So if my young Columbian buddy gets sick, he’s definitely not covered by Uber.

Tom Slee’s (see below) book gives us some insight into the financial conditions under which drivers operate. Even if there’s some drivers that earn average middle-class incomes, most of them appear to earn less than the employed taxi drivers after deducting all the cost. And the insurance and social security situation looks rather grim.

I had a lot more questions. Being used to a system where taxi drivers have to pass a test (how shabby this test might actually be) I was wondering if Uber drivers need anything like that. But it appears that those regulatory tests are not needed, according to this blog.

Some links:

 

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!

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.

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?

Staying at the Bazaar

So here we are in Istanbul again. First time no biz trip, just pleasure and a couple of hours of work every day (Link: The 4 hour week). We chose a hotel in the middle of the bazaar district. Kind of funny place. They really tried hard to get the 5 stars or so by building with as electronics into the place. But they pretty much screwed up: Their door opening system  doesn’t allow for programming more cars, so you get only one.

But that’s just a minor inconvenience. Walking to the Grand Bazaar, the Sultan Ahmed mosque is possible. And we can get to the good food around the Topkapi palace, with a nice view of the Bosperus.

So it is kind of cool. I get most of my work done – if not all. I enjoy the Turkish food, and I get pretty inspired (admittedly). Is this the new way? Does it matter where I work? Is location still important? Or has the WWW enabled us to chose location and community we want to be in / live with?

One of the  major revolutions in terms of communication took place when Gutenberg invented the printing press. People were able to share information without close proximity. They wrote / read printed materials. Information started to be available. Time still was an issue.

The WWW has empowered us even more. Location is not issue anymore. Time is not an issue anymore. Information is accessible from everywhere and can be made available within a split second.

I love it.

 

A Weekend in Appenzell

For the past couple of years, I enjoy at least one visit to the canton of Appenzell.

Located in the eastern region of Switzerland, it is one of my favorite spots to come to. As there is many areas in Switzerland that are incredibly beautiful, the Appenzeller Land continues to attract me more than any other place in Switzerland.

Gasthaus Aescher, Appenzeller Land

One of the reasons may be it’s accessibility. It’s easy to get to. And once you are there, it’s approachable. I don’t need to be an alpine expert to find exciting walks in the beautiful setting. People are friendly, and the prices are actually quite reasonable (as far as this goes for a visitor to Switzerland). And all my favorite activities are supported: I can play golf here, go hiking and ride my bicycle as well. Or I can learn about cheese making if I don’t feel like sweating too much.

And then there is the tranquility. While there are tourists around, Appenzell appears a lot less overrun than other parts of the Alps.

This time we stayed at small mountain hotel called Gasthaus Lehmen. While the rooms are small, it is a perfect place to start your hikes towards the Säntis or other points of interest. And if the weather plays along (what it did for us), it is wonderful to sit outside in the evening and enjoy the evening with the good food the folks prepare and a good Appenzell beer.

The last day of the short break we spent on the Waldkirch golf course. It is a nice hilly course, and you have a great few to the Säntis. And for me it was a really nice day: It was the first time that I shot par on 9 holes.

Ch’ti

So tonight I was heading to northern France, to present at the Java User Group in Lille. My idea was to fly into Bruessels and take a car from there to meet the folks around 18:00 at the meeting location of the Ch’ti Jug to talk about Eclipse and such.

Now it turns out that this was a really bad idea. The plane I took from Berlin to Bruessels: Well it started late. The excuse the pilot made was that his cabin people had miscounted the number of people on the plane. So they unloaded some luggage, then they found out that the people were actually on the plane, then they re-loaded the luggage.

Execution cost some time, so we started about 45 minutes after the planned departure time. Oh wee, I thought, good that I had planned for some extra time.

Turns out that the traffic jams around Brussels were not in my calculation. They ate up all the buffer that I had planned. But there was a chance! My little TomTom navigation app on the iPhone was telling me that I will be only 3 minutes late. Little did it know!

Just 20 kilometers before Lille my For rental car gave up. No comment, it said.

So what’s left: I can only apologize to folks in Lille. If they still want me, I’ll be back!

Dear Lufthansa

Just read today that you folks have problems with your Miles & More program. You thought if you make people use more miles to fly you would easily be able to get your liabilities down. And then your customers started to sue you. That is just not fair!

Airline Lounge in SFOWell, another way to get rid of people and obligations is to work on the service. Old cheese, broken soda dispensers, oddly shaped arm chairs that make your back hurt after 30 minutes of sitting: That will get your lounges empty in now time. And really – your service in the lounges is too good to be true! You don’t believe this works? Just check the setup in the photo that I took in SFO. And guess what – there’s not too many people in here!

So how about the following deal: You don’t de-value our miles, but you cut down on lounge cost. Are you ok with that?

Easter Snow

Last week I was in southern Spain to prepare for the golf season and to take a couple of days off after EclipseCon 2012.

The most discussed topic was the weather: As to be expected the temperature was just between 16 and 20° C, we saw some rain showers and the nights were not as warm as in the mediterranean summer. This is totally in sync with the weather that you can expect at that time of the year, but the complaints were all over the place.

Just not fair, the people said. I have one week of vacation, and then the weather sucks so badly. So the whole resort was full of whining about the luxury problems that the resort’s patron’s. I actually have no complaints. The rainy day we had we took off and spent the better part of the day in Seville. Even on a cloudy afternoon the Alcazar of Seville is worthwhile spending the whole afternoon! And the other days I was working on my golf game, with reasonable success.

And now I’m back home in Germany and went up to Gersfeld for a late Easter celebration with my family. And guess what: It snows! Do I hear complaints?

Gersfeld Calling

Went up to Gersfeld today, it was about time. Have not been there for a month or so. Things look like they are all right, all the holiday apartments are in good shape, a few repairs will have to be made before the season really starts.

For the place in Gartenstrasse we’ll get rid of a big chunk of the veggie garden and build a nice gazebo where our guests can sit outside for breakfast, dinner or a glass of wine in summer. Other than that, we’ll leave things as they are this year.

Booking pipeline looks all-right, would be good to have more foreigners again. I love to show the Rhoen mountains to our guests from abroad.

Garbage Clown

Nice walk in the village today, with the first day of spring-like weather. Only the poor guy in the picture had a bad day.