Friday, April 18, 2014
"Tesla: Man Out of Time" by Margaret Cheney

A few days ago I finished re-reading Margaret Cheney's "Tesla: Man Out of Time". As if I hadn't experienced enough grief reading it the first time, I had to go and do it Tesla_Man_Out_of_Time[1] again. Well what can I say, the book really is worth reading over and over and over again.

I've done my fair share of Tesla reading, biographies and research and everything I've been able to get my hands on. And I can say, this is definitely the best written, most informative, most comprehensive biography of him I've ever come across. Where other books have a general tendency of focusing mostly on certain periods or aspects of Tesla's life, this book does a fine job bringing the pieces of the puzzle together. The book paints a much more realistic picture of Tesla's life, who he was, and what he was like in his personal life.

This of course means that when you read about all that this world did to him, you're going to experience an especially sharp pain in the soul.

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Wednesday, April 09, 2014
"Intelligence" Anyone?

Can somebody explain to me the connection between J. J. Abrams and the new CBS url[1] series "Intelligence"? Is there one?

I didn't really know much about the series [and apparently neither did anyone else in my circles] until just recently when I watched a few episodes. The series is created by "Michael Seitzman", and I can't find any kind of connection to J. J. Abrams. However when I watch the series, I can't help the feeling that I'm watching a J. J. Abrams series!!

The cast, which by the way is a brilliant assembly, includes actors/actresses who have a history of appearing in Abrams / Bad Robot productions. The plot is very Abrams-ish, and well.. I don't know how else to put it but the series just has the total Abrams feeling to it! It's just way too Abrams not to be an Abrams production! =P

So… what's up with that? Anyone has any theories? =P

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Friday, March 28, 2014
"Little Brother" by Cory Doctorow

Last Sunday at "The Uncanny Book-Club" gathering, I listened to some interesting discussions regarding Cory Doctorow's "Little Brother", which made me curious enoughurl[1] to want to read the book. I loaded up the book to my Reader and was planning on having a go at it in our next reading group this coming Sunday, but I'm afraid it didn't last that long… It's already been "had". I munched through most of it during my commute from Zurich to Basel and back, for recent coder event at the Magnolia office.

As usual I'm not going to give much of the book away here, but since a couple of friends are wondering if they should read the book… Here's the super-short version of what I think.

It's worth reading. =)

Ok well… I'm not a fan of the writing style. The author doesn't seem to have much of that at all. This is something that I'm generally not all that sensitive about as I'm looking for the message, but it does matter. In this case the author didn't manage to get to me with his words, and I felt that in the literary sense the book was rather sloppily written. A young adult novel does not necessarily have to carry that load of cheese, and I would certainly have been happy reading far less about LARPing.

That being said, there's some good [and sometimes great] ideas in there. There is a message, even if it's being delivered in not the most powerful of ways. For me personally the message hits pretty close to home, given my own past experiences. These are ideas that should be spread, taught and pondered, regardless of the author's literary capabilities, regardless of the medium. The most important aspect of the book, to me, is the fact that it's advertising the culture of thinking, which is rare enough nowadays [comparatively speaking].

Dripping cheese aside, I find the character development in the book rather well done. Especially in regards to Marcus, the main character, himself. The way he had to grew up… some of what he felt… well connected to reality. Although the reality version would be far more complex, but still, I feel that the author is doing a good job showing the kind of growing up one ends up having to do under such circumstances. It's also nicely realistic, that he's quite the non-hero. It's not him taking care of it all and saving the day, he doesn't even want to be the leader, but due to his way of thinking and acting he ends up on the front row anyway. That's precisely how it usually happens, in reality, outside of Hollywood movies. 

I also find the ending quite appropriate, seeing that it's actually not much of an ending. What you see at the end feels to me like the eye of the storm, and a good place to end the story, especially since there seems to be a sequel. It appears that the story's main characters, while having a nice "day" at the time, are preparing to get into another, possibly much larger, round of conflict.

Anyway, wrote too much already… check it out for yourselves. ;) I think I'm going to read "Homeland", the sequel, next.

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Thursday, March 20, 2014
Happy Norooz 2573 [1393]

This evening at 17:57:07 Zurich time, the new Persian new year 2573 [1393] begins. I wish everyone who does and does not celebrate Norooz a lovely start of the spring, and a great year to come. Happy Norooz everyone. =)

[Thanks to my friend Michael for the image.]

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Thursday, March 13, 2014
Solothurn Fasnacht & Liestal Chienbäse 2014

The past few weeks was "that time of the year" in Switzerland again, time to say goodbye to winter and the Fasnacht celebrations. The Solothurn carnival is my favourite, so this year we went back there once again and came back home with hair full of confetti.

But admittedly even more interesting this year was the Liestal "Chienbäse". Among different cultures and in different countries I've come across fire celebrations before… but honestly I had never seen anything of this magnitude. I still have no idea about the historical roots of this thing, and I think I need to do some digging. The best way I can describe the event is by showing the pictures.

Here is the album for Solothurn Fasnacht, and here is the album for Liestal Chienbäse.

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Friday, March 07, 2014
Do Support: Rundercover + Gbanga Famiglia Rise and Fall

Yesterday evening at the Transmedia Zurich event, we were introduced to 2 very interesting new location based games: "Rundercover" and "Gbanga Famiglia Rise and Fall". Even as the so called "cell-phone boycotter", I found both pretty cool / creative. I think this genre of game generally appeals to my need for being physically active while playing… The games are both being developed here in Switzerland, and they both have crowd funding campaigns that you can check out and then hopefully support. Here:

Rundercover website / Kickstarter

Gbanga Famiglia Rise and Fall on Indiegogo

P.S.: The mandetory back-side shot courtesy of these guys.

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Friday, February 28, 2014
Fooled By Randomness by Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Last week I finished reading Nassim Nicholas Taleb's "Fooled By Randomness". What I would say about it is pretty much the same as what I wrote about "The Black Swan". This is something to read for anyone who wants to know how the world works, and why we generally don't/can't do a good job in predicting what will or will not come next.

Though I think I'm still a bigger fan of "The Black Swan", I really enjoyed reading this one too.

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Friday, February 07, 2014
Roadside Picnic

Last week I finished reading "Roadside Picnic", the 1972 sci-fi novel by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky [as per suggestion of a friend]. For me, the book "felt" quite a bit  similar to  Huxley's "Brave New World". Dystopian society built around one major life changing element which is a source of unnatural luck for some and unfair disadvantage for many others.

I did enjoy reading the book, I really liked the central idea. But I must also say that this is generally not my cup of sci-fi. I am much more into Asimov's style of sci-fi. When I read a science-"fiction" book, I am not really looking for a window into the future of the mess we currently have, what we are already experiencing. I'd like to look further forward, perhaps to what comes after that mess.

But if "Brave New World" or "1984" are for you, then this is totally recommended.

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Thursday, February 06, 2014
Haskell Glasgow Compiler 7.8

Last Thursday evening I attended a very interesting presentation on the pretty cool new Haskell3D[1] features of the upcoming GHC 7.8. Though I've personally not yet had the chance to play with the new release, I'm very excited about it, since apparently many of the features that were discussed for a long while are now finally included. As it was mentioned in the meeting, it's not that it's not a mess anymore, it's just that it's much less of a mess. ;)

Here you can find a PDF copy of the presentation slides [sans code]. [The talk was hosted by the Zurich HaskellerZ group.]

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Friday, January 24, 2014
Castle Of Gruyères

Forgot to mention, pictures from our visit to the Castle Of Gruyères [a few weeks back] are online. The castle was quite amazing, one of the most majestic I've seen to far. But that was about all that we saw that day, due to the horrible weather!

Pictures here.

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[Last one is a panorama]

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Monday, January 13, 2014
Lenzerheide Magic Forest

One of most memorable events/places we visited this Christmas, was the Lenzerheide Magic Forest. We spent a few hours looking around the tiny town of Lenzerheide which was covered with snow, and then spent about an hour in the church as the snow was absolutely insane. Then we headed to the forest for the light shows and the market. The light shows were absolutely marvellous, and the market was quite authentic and beautiful. I'm actually looking forward to going there again next year!

Pictures here.

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Sunday, January 05, 2014
Ender's Game [The Book]

Last night [well, basically 'till morning] I finished reading Orson Scot Card's "Ender's Game", the first book of the "Ender's Saga". The series have been on my reading list for basically ever now, but somehow I never got to it. Then the movie showed up which I Ender's_game_cover_ISBN_0312932081[1] don't want to see before reading the books. [I'm a much bigger fan of books than movies and I don't want watching the movie to spoil the books!] So a week ago I finally started reading the first book, and well, looks like I pretty much devoured it.

Once I started reading "Ender's Game" I simply couldn't put it down. The book definitely is one of the best sci-fi I've ever read, as was suggested to me by several of my friends. [You were all right! =) ] Now I'm going to start with the 2nd book… I'm of course very happy that there's already 12 books in the series, and the author is writing some more…. I really do want more of this!

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Sunday, December 29, 2013
Man of Steel

Honestly I wasn't in such a hurry to see "Man of Steel". Superman movies and comics have always been mere light entertainment to me, and even though I have occasionally enjoyed watching a movie or reading a comic, I've never been a fan. Through the years I've felt a chronic lack of plot and character development in all things Superman. [Which basically sums up my relationship with 99% of DC's comics.]

So you can imagine my surprise, watching "Man of Steel" last night, and realizing in the middle of the movie that I was actually really enjoying it! Especially seeing the movie's less than great ratings and the plenty of dissatisfied reviews! [Then again I often seem to like what everyone else hates and vice versa!]

Yes, I really really liked this movie! Many important details were changed, characters were much better developed, and most importantly so much nonsense and absurdity has been eliminated! I mean surprise surprise, for once in my life a Superman movie actually makes rational sense!!!!

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For once we actually see a proper, well pictured, back story. Which actually explained why everything happened the way it all happened. I really enjoyed the beginning part of the movie where Krypton has been quite nicely illustrated, and we finally get a better idea of what "the parents" were like and what the circumstances were. Or for that matter why Zod acts the way he does. Also the earthly parents of Clark Kent have been much better developed. Supeman's own character finally has some proper development with much less cheese involved. Oh, and for once, finally, someone has decided that Lois Lane should not be the idiotic, clueless, pointless, shame to all women, constantly in need of rescuing, aka the classical character. Thank you very much for that.

It's been said the movie will have a next instalment in 2015. I do look forward to seeing that.

By the way, come to think of it, it's interesting that the latest Batman movie was also the best I've ever seen, for pretty much all the same reasons! Looks like DC might have finally figured some things out… ;)  Maybe it's time I go back and check the comic books…...

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Friday, December 27, 2013
Inferno by Dan Brown

Last week I finished reading [or more like devouring] Dan Brown's latest book, "Inferno". And well, wow! For me this book is now in a tie with "The Da Vinci Code" for Dan Brown's best. As usual he has managed to put a lot of interesting ideas and generally "food for thought" in the book. But then the plot was also amazing this time, and felt like a bit of an evolution. So, I really enjoyed it. Totally recommended.

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Friday, December 20, 2013
Montreux Noël Medieval Market!

Last year I found out about this a tad too late, this year I managed to finally pay a visit to the Medieval Market in Montreux, at the Chillon castle. The market itself wasn't much, it was just stalls here and there spread inside the castle. But the staff were dressed like elves, and the castle was beautiful.

Afterwards we walked from Chillon to Montreux, around lake Geneva…. this was simply lovely. After arriving to Montreux, we also paid a visit to the huge Christmas market in the centre of the city. Huge, and covered with chocolate and gingerbread for the most part. ;)

Pictures here.

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Wednesday, December 18, 2013
The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug

On Sunday night we went to see the Hobbit [3D]. Yes, the opening week, in fact just after the opening day. =P I was in a pretty big hurry for this one… Couldn't wait! And I'm so not disappointed!

The movie was simply great. As I wrote about the first part, in comparison the LOTR movies, the hobbit movies have the advantage of being truly faithful to the book, which naturally comes with making 3 movies out of the one book. Every important detail is there, with some cute additions, and altogether things just feel right. The visuals are quite stunning, and if you're going to see the movie, make sure to see it in 3D.

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I still have a problem with a blonde Orlando Bloom. That really doe NOT work. But I don't think I had enough time to pay attention to that given Evangeline Lilly as Tauriel, and Benedict Cumberbatch's voice on Smaug. =P

All in all it's a lovely movie. The only "issue", is the humongous cliff-hanger at the end. Of course when you divide one single book into 3 movies, every conclusion, every important event, everything that you are waiting for, will be at the end, waiting for the last movie. So now I have to wait a year for… well… everything. Meh. =P

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3D Hubs Zurich

Recently I attended the launch event for "3D Hubs" in Zurich. I really didn't know anything about the service before that event, but I had in fact been wondering if such service exists. There are people with 3D printers, there are people who need something printed, it would be great if something connects them all to each other. And "3D Hubs" does exactly that. Check it out!

Also, there were some rather amazing printed items to see at the event. Here's some examples:

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This glove was entirely 3D printed, all the links together!

DSC04266[1]The brown one was printed out of PLA filament containing wood dust. It actually smells and feels like wood!

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Transparent PLA!

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Pretty stuff! =P

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Inside looks a lot like a real analogue camera!

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Monday, December 16, 2013
Joss Whedon's "Much Ado About Nothing"

Of all the versions of Shakespeare's "Much Ado About Nothing" that I have seen so fMuch-Ado-About-Nothing[1]ar, old and new, classic and modern, my favourite has to be Joss Whedon's! I watched it  some weeks ago for the first time, and a few nights ago again. I never thought I'd enjoy a version more than the digital theatre one with David Tennant and Catherine Tate, but I liked Joss Whedon's even more than that! It's just too cute! =D

Of course Joss Whedon and Jed Whedon also created their own version of "Sigh No More", the famous soundtrack of Much Ado [with Shakespeare's own lyrics!]. It's quite nice, definitely the nicest version of it I've heard. =)

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Thursday, December 12, 2013
Basel – France – Germany – Christmas Markets!!

Last week we went to Basel to visit the two huge Christmas Markets. As usual though, we went early in the day to do some exploring first. We walked over the border to Saint-Louis [France], then to Huningue [France], then we crossed that amazing bridge in between the 3 countries and walked into Weil am Rhein [Germany]. Then we finally walked back to Basel and visited the markets!

As for the markets, they were amazing! These were probably the biggest, prettiest and highest quality [in terms of actual shopping items] Christmas markets I've ever seen anywhere! I even managed to find myself "Francesco Rubinato" glass pen… which was a real surprise! [More about that later…]

So… pictures are here.

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Ensiedeln & The Christmas Market

Einsiedeln is a truly lovely little town about an hour away from Zurich, and around Christmas each year they have a rather sizely Market which attracts tourists from just about everywhere. I had never been to the town itself, so the usual suspects and I decided that we could spend a day in the town itself, and then visit the market in the evening's dark.

The town as I said is just beautiful, and of course tiny. And so we ended up walking to the nearby town of Birchli, and then to the lake Sihlsee. I really enjoyed the heavily snow-covered scenery and the lake was just dreamy! Of course we also went inside the well known Ensiedeln monastery which was quite amazing.

The market was also very pretty, and very big. Not really the best place for gift-shopping, but more for eating. ;) But I think maybe the local band should choose a different selection of songs to perform for the next year. A little less funeral-ish, maybe!

The album is here.

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[And a panorama of the lake]

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Wednesday, December 04, 2013
First Time In Konstanz [Germany]

A couple of weekends ago Cristina drove us to Konstanz for a 1 day trip, to see the city and meet a friend of hers. It was my first time in Konstanz and I wanted to take a lot of pictures, but unfortunately the terrible weather and all the rain and fog, made for a collection of horribly gray pictures. =P

Nonetheless, the trip itself was a lot of fun and we had a great time. =)

Pictures here.

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Ahoo "Aasemoon" Pirsoleimani, 1998-2012