Tinguely Brunnen in Ice

Sunny but icy cold…

Just 5 mins down the road from Tinguely Brunnen, police from all over north-west Switzerland stopped an unapproved anti-WEF demo from marching thru the streets of Basel…
see: 1 ¦ 2

Tinguely Brunnen in Downtown Basel

Tinguely Brunnen from the other side

... and photo no. 3


in times of outsourcing

and offshoring, work means much more than doing your job.

6 tips to keep you working:

  1. Do not plan to write code for your entire career – code is a commodity and can be created by others for much less money
  2. Learn to communicate effectively – develop your public speaking and writing skills
  3. Develop people skills – the person that can pull teams together, support communication is very valuable
  4. Move into the “people” part of the business – learn how to deal with customers, work with vendors and interact with management
  5. Learn how to sell – bringing in new business is part of an employee’s responsibilty in a highly competitive market
  6. Consider consulting

Source: Viewpoint, Save Your Job, Howard Adamsky, Software Development Magazine, January 2005, page 14


free and searchable corpus

Linguists, however, are slowly coming to discover the joys of a free and searchable corpus of maybe 10 trillion words that is available to anyone with an internet connection: the world wide web.


from brisbane, australia

just received a cd featuring my cousin!

Cover of Breathe Again by crea8ive

song samples: 1 ¦ 2


pre-emptive project planning

I took part in last week’s STC web seminar on pre-emptive project planning by John Hedtke.

Found it practical and useful.

His main points:

Plan ahead
The real problem is the projects you don’t know about that land on your desk suddenly and without warning.

Keep it simple
Use a simple excel sheet to track your current and upcoming projects instead of project tracking software.
Project tracking software depends on clear, stated dependencies that do not change frequently.
Technical communications has multiple interconnected dependencies that can change daily, sometimes hourly.

Gather information about projects that officially don’t exist yet
Use informal and formal ways to find out what projects might become real.

Distribute your project plan to everybody except sales.

Talk to everyone at all levels. Ask probing questions. Don’t believe the official pronouncements. Check them out with the folks in the trenches


Throw out that Strunk & White…

stumbled across this entry at Language Log:

[…] The Elements of Style offers prejudiced pronouncements on a rather small number of topics, frequently unsupported, and unsupportable, by evidence. It simply isn’t true that the constructions they instruct you not to use are not used by good writers. Take just one illustrative example, the advice not to use which to begin a restrictive relative clause (the kind without the commas, as in anything else which you might want). But the truth is that once E.B. White stopped pontificating and went back to writing his (excellent) books, he couldn’t even follow this advice himself. or should he; it’s stupid advice). You can find the beginning of his book Stuart Little on the official E.B. White website; and you can see him breaking his own rule in the second paragraph. That isn’t the only such example.

recommends the following 2 books:


beautiful day

it’s sunny and cold. just right for jogging in the woods. did about 3km. it feels good to have the cold fresh air rushing in. Maxwell is right: Motivation comes when you get started.

i’ve started cleaning up my olde laptop (4+ years old). there’s no space left on the hard disk. it doesn’t shut down on its own. and crashes every so often. i’ve made a backup of all my files and emails. next step: re-install the os. or linux. i’m thinking of trying to install linux instead of sm windows. but i don’t know if it’ll recognize the olde hardware components.


sending sms via the web

At times it is useful to send a text message…
Some friends keep asking how i manage to send text messages to their cell phones even though i don’t have one myself.

Well, here’s the secret… (oh nooo, i can see all of my faithful geek readers yawning)

I use the text services at and
Both sites are also useful to store telephone numbers and addresses.

I’m not a power user ( = 1-2 text messages per day) and I don’t know how the rates compare with T-Mobile, Swisscom and Co.

History of text messaging: 1

SMS was supposedly invented by engineers at Ericsson that needed a way to communicate on the network while they were working on the voice channel.


managing complexity

The Economist on software development.

the problem:

30% of all software projects are cancelled, nearly half come in over budget, 60% are considered failures by the organisations that initiated them, and nine out of ten come in late

the solution:

better software tools and processes

The three big industry trends—lifecycle management, testing and open source—come together in a movement known as “agile” programming. This approach to software development was codified in a meeting in February 2001 in Utah when a group of programmers declared its allegiance to doing things quickly, using common sense and simplicity.
The main principle of agile programming is that developers must talk to each other often, and that they must talk to the business people setting requirements equally often.



nothing much

It’s Sunday evening and I can’t think of anything blog-worthy to write. Feel tired and restless.

Weather has been unusually warm for January. Yesterday felt a bit like spring. Beautiful sunshine and about 15 degrees warm.

For those of you that are waiting for snow, here’s a snow photo I took 3 weeks ago:


or maybe it’s a snapshot from my recent journey to the moon? Small step for man, a giant leap for mankind…

Stuff I did this weekend:

  • Upgraded my WordPress installation to 1.2.2
  • Went jogging for the first time in 2005 – about 3 kms.
  • Did usual weekend chores like washing, shopping, cleaning.
  • Paid bills.
  • Talked on the phone and sent lots of SMS.
  • Answered emails.
  • Watched the relief effort in SE Asia.
  • Spontaneously decided to visit a friend only to find out that nobody was at home.
  • Surfed aimlessly thru the net and read online articles at Weltwoche, Spiegel and Focus.
  • Developed chronic back pain to the point that I think I might go to the doc tomorrow.

about hardship programming

interesting read:

Joe Winchester’s JDJ article, Who Needs “Hardship Programming”?


Let’s take cars, for example – my attitude is that when they break I take them to the mechanic; what’s fun isn’t so much tinkering with the engine myself and gaining some kind of machismo pride in doing so, it’s the journeys I take in it and what I do when I arrive. Likewise with writing software – the purpose is to create a good user experience for someone else who wants to solve a particular problem in a more efficient way. I once had to explain to a customer why we were late shipping a particular software release and he replied that we were just polishing the inside of a tin can and he didn’t care. He was right – we were upgrading operating system releases and migrating to a new language version mid-release cycle. However, there was no business value to it and we’d just taken our eye off the target and onto our navels.

Is the problem with software and tooling one of a master craftsman with his favorite chisel and simply that people are reluctant to change something that makes them most productive, or is it just that people have a built-in desire to belong to a herd and gain social acceptance from their tribal peers from where they can collectively mock progress and other languages and technology changes as being for the folks on the other team? Is the super-league of programmers occupied by folks who take apart game boxes and have wireless networks in their kitchen, or is it by those who would rather play some fun games on the box it was designed for and then enjoy a nice meal in the kitchen afterward?


Massimo Rocchi in Basel

Massimo Rocchi will be performing at the Tabourettli from 11th Jan to 12th Feb.

The CD “äUä” is great… and it was at the same time my first formal introduction to Swiss German, when I was still staying far away from the Swiss German Kantons in southern Switzerland.

I particularly like his observations on language and culture as he compares French, Germans, Swiss and Italians.

Insiders will recognize:

“Der Daniel aus Bern”

I’ll update you on the show. If I get round to going that is…