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…

General Malawi-related

British journalist in Malawi

Read Gwyneth Rees’ report on working for The Chronicle in Lilongwe.

[…] when freedom of the press is supposedly guaranteed under the constitution, journalists should not have to rely on the say-so of one man to go about their business.

[update Jan 11, 2005] Here’s another article: Demoted from editor to delivery girl, overnight


text snippets

  • UK deports Zim asylum seekers – one million Zimbabweans are estimated to be living and working, some of them illegally, in Britain.
  • English version of available at
  • What is your favourite African song? Nominate your favorite African produced song here.

Earthquake in southern Germany

And I didn’t notice a thing…

Epicenter: near Waldkirch / Emmendingen.
Measured 5.4 on the Richter scale.
See also: Spiegel

Report your earthmoving experience. Fill out the form at:

They’re also interested to hear from you, if you did NOT feel the earthquake.

General Malawi-related

dreaming of Lake Malawi

On rainy and stormy days there is little to do. Listening to music and reading have their limits. It is then that the housebound mind takes its own journeys, unfettered by time or place. One sails, once again in the Philippines’ Camotes Sea, walks on England’s moors, swims in Lake Malawi, kneels in Vienna’s Saint Stephen’s Cathedral, strolls the Via Veneto in Rome, dines in a Paris bistro – all without moving from one’s chair.

Source: The Sun Herald, Mississippi

Added advantage of this form of travelling: you don’t need to worry about getting malaria and bilharzia. Nevertheless, I still prefer the real experience!


recent cultural activities

Visited the Monet exhibition in Zurich. It focuses on his garden paintings.
Monets Garden

I really enjoyed the ArchiSkulptur exhibition at the Beyeler Foundation.

Today’s gospel concert at the Theodorkirche was great.

General ist das Werkzeug…

Wer sich dennoch mit den neuen Gepflogenheiten
näher befassen möchte, dem sei ans Herz gelegt:
Einfach ein Wort wie z. B. Gämse eintippen und auf
«Suche» drücken. Das Wort wird nun der entsprechenden
neuen Regel zugeordnet. Im Falle der Gämse wäre dies die
Schreibregel «Stammprinzip-Umlautbildung».
Diese Regel wird nun leicht verständlich und mit
Beispielen erläutert. nimmt dabei sogar auf
regionale Gepflogenheiten wie Schweizerisch oder à”“sterreichisch
Rücksicht, deren Schreibweisen ja in gewissen
Fällen abweichen dürfen.

General recipe

Basler Brunsli

Apparently the Basel German word for biscuits/cookies/Kekse is Gutzi and not Gutzli.
I was fairly confident that the bakery at the supermarket across the road from my office had introduced a typo.
Turns out it’s not a typo. In my part of Switzerland, people say Gutzi, while in the Zurich area they say Gutzli.

Anyway… i’ve started to search the net for a good recipe for Basler Brunsli. I’ll try out the recipe in the next couple of days/weeks. And post a summary of my findings.

Basler Brunsli

200 g dunkle Schokolade gerieben
250 g Zucker
250 g Mandeln, nicht geschälte, fein gehackt
3 Eiweiss
2 EL, gestr., Kartoffelmehl
2 Msp. Zimt
1 Msp. Nelken


Eiweiss zu Schnee schlagen und nach und nach mit den restlichen Zutaten vermischen, bis ein Teig entsteht. Den Teig wenn möglich 1-2 h an einem kühlen Ort ruhen lassen.
Den Teig dann auf einem mit Zucker bestreuten Brett kurz kneten und in 3-4 Stücke teilen. Die Stücke auf Zucker 1 cm hoch auswallen und beliebige Formen ausstechen. Die ausgestochenen Formen auf ein mit Backpapier ausgelegtes Backblech legen und über Nacht trocknen lassen. Dann 3-5 Min. bei 200 Grad backen. Sie sollten aussen fest und innen feucht sein.

General Malawi-related

lead the way

[Linguistic nit-picking on a Friday evening]

Stumbled across the word bakkie in this article:
To celebrate 35 years of the Toyota Hilux bakkie on the African market including Malawi, Toyota is also displaying the Toyota Hilux Legend35 double cab with chrome bull-bars and anti-roll bars.

In Malawi, the term pick-up is more commonly used to refer to lightweight trucks. Bakkie is very South African. I guess, the reporter just copied the press release / marketing collateral.


ticino weekend

sono tornata a Lugano per un weekend.

a sunny and warm day on Monte Bre

Un espresso, per favore!

ristorante in sight

dolce fare absolutamente niente su Monte Bre.

dolce fare absolutamente niente


Quote of the Day

Juergen Klopp, football coach of 1. FSV Mainz 05, said

Leidenschaft und Bereitschaft sind bei uns immer da – was kann da schon passieren? Schlechtestenfalls verlieren. Aber das nimmt uns, solange wir kämpfen, in Mainz keiner übel.

Source: Focus


Tinguely Museum, Basel

Weather has been very rainy and cold here. I spent yesterday afternoon at the Tinguely Museum… some snapshots:

Close-up of Niki de Saint Phalle Sculpture

Close-up of a Niki de Saint Phalle sculpture in the museum park… could be South African from the colours.

View of the adjoining park

And here’s the full view.

View of the museum building from the park

The museum was built by Mario Botta. I particularly like the view from inside the building over the Rhein.

And the Luginbuehl sculpture ...


Hopes of malaria vaccine by 2010

The vaccine was used to protect 2,022 children in Mozambique and cut the risk of developing severe malaria by 58%.


message from the admin

upgraded to wp 1.2.1

In addition, I’ve managed to find a solution to the escaping comment form problem in IE.

I replaced 100% by 400px in the css controlling the text area field:

#commentform textarea {
width: 400px;

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, sorry to late… the admin has fixed it! For IE and Opera, I hope, pray and believe. Still need to check it in Firefox. Going jogging now…

[update Oct 10] I’ve been changing the css settings and have started customizing some of the php files.
If something doesn’t work, please leave a comment below. Please let me know how the comment form behaves in your browser. Does the comment form still expand to infinity when you start typing?

BTW, we’ve got perfect chiperoni weather in Basel today! Constant drizzle and fog.

General Learning Italian

Mailand oder Madrid – Hauptsache Italien *

I came across a number of Italian language links this week:

* The former German national football player Andreas Möller supposedly said this in an interview.


dog abandoned at supermarket

Apparently somebody abandoned (or forgot?) a puppy at the supermarket opposite of our office. There was a quite a commotion… The police came to pick up the young dog. The puppy looked really forlorn and lost. Poor guy. Cos he didn’t want to follow or wasn’t used to walking on a leash, the policeman ended up carrying him to the police van.

I wonder why somebody would abandon their dog like that…

In the same way that some people over-exaggerate and treat their pets like children, others fail to recognize that animals are not objects that you can simply throw away at will.


wir bieten die beste grammatik an

search for wir bieten die beste grammatik an

blogging General

The Use of a Blog

Today i found out how useful old blog postings can be. Wanted to remove some Moire patterns from a newspaper scan and i knew that I had posted an entry on my old blog site. I get to minimize Moire patterns once a year at the most… and I easily forget which filter gives the best results. These days most scanners have an option to remove Moire patterns automatically… this scanner didn’t.

Note to myself: your blog can be useful to store tidbits of information you don’t always need. Esp. if you regularly work on more than one computer. I find that no matter how much you organize yourself, the info you’re looking for is bound to be on your other computer. Plus: somebody else might find your notes helpful.

Maybe this may seem obvious to you and not worth an entry. But I believe one of today’s challenges is managing information. Who would have thought a couple of years back, that your email archive is a reason to get a larger hard disk and more back-up space? Just cos people are afraid to trash emails which might have some useful info. Or cos they require a fallback if other systems have failed.

My blog is a sort of online scrap book, where I collect links, develop ideas, make notes, display photos and publish my views. Nothing really important. But it’s nice to see it’s useful as well… It’s also a fun way to keep up-to-date with current web technology. I can see how a RSS feed could be useful to distribute the company press releases and news I write during my day job.

BTW, I wasn’t really planning to migrate my old blog entries to my new home… 😉


Online Tutorials

list of useful online tutorials for sql, html, php, css
at scriptygoddess


The mitsubishi ad

One of the regular highlights of a Malawi visit is driving the Mitsubishi 4wd pick-up. It’s a solid vehicle, ideal for Malawi road conditions. And it’s fun to drive…

Close up of the Mitsubishi

But I did manage to lose grip in this ditch…

No grip


Yet another Mitsubishi Photo