Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Fluffy coworker

Ich wollt, ich wär ein Kater, originally uploaded by ankonym.

Working from home: Less food, more plushy cats.
Being in Germany: Within a sentence of introducing yourself and answering the question what you do for a living, you're likely to find yourself trying to react gracefully to being called one of the world's most evil terrorists (killers of privacy, thieves of data).
What I will never understand is - why does the "theft" of the least private data, i.e., the front of your house that every person walking down the street can see anyway, seem to infuriate ze Germans most? Why do those who are most outraged at Google (and who seem to use it as a catch-all term for "the internet" and "modern life") usually readily give up all their private data to companies like Payback and Happy Digits - just because they get a few cents in bonus points in exchange? Why do they allow these people to create highly detailed shopping profiles for them, complete with age and interest, yet bore me with their ill-informed rants about the pure evil that is Google Analytics?
I'm a wee bit tired of this whole discussion. But I do appreciate the fluffy desk buddy.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

And since we've no place to go/don't let it snow...


Snow! In Winter! One should think that this does not really constitute anything newsworthy but Europe, this year, is proving this assumption wrong: People are getting stuck in airports, train stations, or both, airlines tell you to rather take trains while the railway operators advise the opposite. When you find yourself stuck on an island, only one of these options applies anyway, and when you are my landlord, you will claim that you cannot even leave your own home in the first place. (This will not keep the landlord's plumber of choice from showing up unannounced at 9am on a Sunday to tear out large bits of bathroom, only to remember then that hey! Dublin shut down water supplies until 11, so we can't even do anything about anything!)
It is a joyful thing that 2011 will begin with a move. (To a HOUSE! Exciting!) Let's hope that moldy walls and unreliable water tanks and undetected leaks will then be a thing of the past.
For now, I am grateful that I made it home (first to Cologne, then to Bielefeld) with only minimal weather-related struggles, and keep my fingers crossed for all coworkers to get home (or at least somewhere nicer than the airport, for those who already know they won't make it home.)
In the meantime, I'm working from home, with a guest on the window sill to keep me company. He looks a bit apologetic though: He personally wouldn't want any travellers to get stuck!
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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Liquid Geekification?

Recently, in order to complicate things, I introduced a third operating system into my life: Mac OS at work, Windows at home on my normal laptop, Linux on my shiny tiny new netbook. (This is mostly painful when you use the German keyboard shortcut for the @ symbol on a Mac: It will close things without saving. Ouch!) However, I can't say that Linux has made things as easy as the Ubuntu website had me believe - for example, each time I plug in my headset, I have to readjust the sound settings for it to work. Interestingly, these sound settings are never the same as the last time I tried, nor are they saved for the next time, even when I leave the headset plugged in. Hm.

For the Linux newbie, there are many such situations, and when you are a complete n00b, you sometimes get the feeling that some people on Linux forums enjoy making fun of fresh Linux meat, and some of their help instructions make me suspect that they might just format my hard drive, rather than fix my issue. And I'd rather not learn the hard way.

But then, the office fridge suggested a safer solution: Ubuntu Cola! I instantly downed a bottle and am now waiting for the Linux enlightenment to kick in. (I do fear that it might just re-set my sound settings so that I will lose my communication skills next time I open my mouth. Not having a console to tweak my settings, this worries me a tiny bit, but oh, the things we do for our shiny gadgets...)
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Friday, December 10, 2010

This is not what I signed up for

neuer Freund, originally uploaded by ankonym.

Last February, flying into Dublin, the taxi driver was extremely excited to warn us, repeatedly, about the 3 millimeters of snow that were visible in dark corners of the Dublin cityscape. "It makes a crackling sound like GLASS when you step on it, be extra careful, love!"
Irish people were still in awe of that tiny bit of snow, newspapers printed snowball-making instructions, children maximise the snow output of any surface until they have cleared up the snowfall of an entire playground lawn to make a 30 cm snowman.

THIS is what I had in mind when I moved here.

Fast forward to this year: For two weeks now, Dublin is covered in 10 cm of thick ice. We have seen all variations of wintry weather - rain, hail, sleet, snow, rain that freezes over, snow that melts to freeze over again, and right now, thawing, which means added slipperiness with a bit of water on solid ice. Wheee! It's a wonder I've hardly seen any people with broken limps lately, for Irish people don't quite know what to do with this weather phenomenon. They do: de-ice cars with the help of hot water, and keep water running day and night to keep pipes from freezing and bursting. They do not: wear proper shoes, shovel snow, put gravel on unshovelled snow, have winter tyres on cars, have houses that are built as if we were in a climate zones that might get occasional winters.

So now, Dublin turns off water supplies 12 hours a day (night) because with all those open faucets, there's more water demand than supply. We don't have this issue: A plumber lately diagnosed a leak somewhere on the way to our apartment, only the landlord seems blissfully unconcerned with this, so that we haven't heard back from either of them since. Ireland, you fail at winter.