For me 2010 has been special.

While I was a kid, I wondered and dreamed about 2010 and where I would be. My life is very different from what I dreamed it would be. But it is good.

I achieved one of my long-standing goals.

I am venturing out to embrace new challenges.

Hello 2011.

flickr General Photos

Best photo of 2010?

How do I find my best photo of 2010 on Flickr?
Not easy.
I need an app for that.
I (still) don’t edit my photos according to composition or technical aspects.
I have been uploading snapshots at regular intervals.
Despite a busy schedule.
Still following my motto:
Document your life.

Some spontaneous selections:

Feb 27, 2010

March 21, 2010
photowalk basel 053

June 19, 2010

July 27, 2010
you are beautiful

July 31, 2010

sbb train station

August 17, 2010
shut up, my bike is cool

August 26, 2010
photo shooting in Beijing

September 26, 2010

October 9,2010
new takkies

October 16, 2010

October 29, 2010
kino am raschplatz

roses are orange

blogger blogging

Everybody is a foreigner

I don’t know very much about Swiss politics. But I am reacting to the SVP posters.

@ svp: i found the black sheep you were talking about!

Everybody is a foreigner, almost everywhere.

I didn’t select the family, city, country or continent I was born into.

blogging Malawi-related

Nom de web: Nchenga

Today I talked to @sufranke about an event I am planning at the day job.

Before long I was explaining how I was fascinated by the power of blogs and Twitter and the possibility they offer to bypass the gatekeepers who decide which media content you are supposed to consume. In my case, blogs and Twitter help me circumvent traditional Western euro-centric media with their pre-set opinions on Africa to learn about news in Blantyre.

The story of Nchenga at is hidden in this blog:

My initial idea when I set out was to help cross the digital divide and point to content about my home country, Malawi.

Example of the power of blogging: During the last General Elections in Malawi, Alex at the Polytechnic helped to keep us informed by posting regular information and allowing Malawians to comment. In general, blogging has increased the amount of direct infos available on Malawi in the Internet.

Why use the nom de web Nchenga and why is my blog called Chiperoni?

No real reason except that I set up this blog shortly after a visit to Blantyre:

Chiperoni is a kind of drizzle rain in the Shire Highlands. Nchenga or mchenga means “sand” in Chichewa. Shortly before I set up my new blog, I heard a TV talk show in Blantyre, where people were complaining about bad TV reception. One lady called the show to say “All I can see is nchenga nchenga”. i.e. it means something like “blurry image””¦

Somehow I felt “blurry image” describes my blogging adventure and cos it also means “sand” I was happy.

I am enthused by the sound of words.

Chiperoni describes the weather here in Europe. And it sounds like home.

Did you know? I am one of the admins of the largest Malawi photography group ever. And I maintain a list of Malawians on Twitter.

architecture basel blogging culture tech wordpress

A Sunday evening in mid-November

Instead of watching Tatort, I went for a short jog combined with lots of walking. I am still not back in my jogging routine. Yet.

But I am enjoying being outside. It was so beautifully warm today.

And. It is a good way to reflect.

Time for mind blogging.

I like being outdoors.

I really like living in Switzerland. I think it is great that people take such meticulous care of their houses and gardens.

This afternoon I went to see “Wien 1900 ”“ Klimt, Schiele und ihre Zeit” at the Beyeler Museum. I liked the architecture and poster designs. And Klimt’s landscapes.

I didn’t like the additional shopping area they added for Wien 1900 merchandise. One shop is enough.

A couple of Wikipedia links:

You’ve probably heard of poetry slams. But there are also science slams: 10 mins to present your research project. There is one in Freiburg im Br. on 29th November and 17th January. I would love to go and see one.

The incredibly influential a. of Handmade 2.0 invited me to a new web app called Pinterest. We have been blogging since January 2003. And it has been an incredible journey…. Thank you a. for the billions of emails, links and ideas. I am truly amazed at the amount of data we have collected.

I am still trying to figure out how to use Facebook as can be seen occasionally in my tweets. I worry that a platform like Facebook could replace the web. That would be the end of HTML pages, simplicity, transparency and diversity.

That’s why it’s important to support and use other platforms and tools. Try out WordPress and Drupal. Learn HTML. Write your own articles. Voice your opinion. Become involved. Think before you click re-tweet, like or comment.

It is my belief that after the fragmentation of the media scene and citizen journalism and the removal of the gatekeepers, we will see consolidation and the rise of new media giants with new gatekeepers.


Trying out Open Atrium

I started playing around with Open Atrium, a Drupal-based tool for open and closed groups.

open atrium

The install was smooth and easy.

Setting up a closed group is easy as well.

I would like to remove the introductory video on the dashboard but couldn’t find out where.




I like this quote:

“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”

Attributed to Theodore Roosevelt but sounds like it could have originated in my childhood somewhere.


Flickr keyboard shortcuts

I spend a lot of time on Flickr but only now I am discovering the power of the Flickr keyboard shortcuts:

keyboard shortcuts:
← previous photo
→ next photo
L view in light box
F favorite
< scroll film strip left > scroll film strip right

The main commands are listed below the comment area on each photo.

And a Google search reveals more shortcuts:

c = goes straight to comment box
g = add to group dialog pops up
p = add a person to the photo
s = add to set dialog pops up
t = goes to “add a tag”

bracket keys = changes filmstrip focus

comma key = jumps left in filmstrip
period key = jumps right in filmstrip


Chiperoni via RSS reader and email

I was surprised to see that I have over 60 subscribers on Feedburner. Maybe RSS feeds are not yet dead after all.

Feedburner stats:

The Chiperoni feed is here.

If you would like to receive Chiperoni website updates via email, subscribe here:

Enter your email address:

Related quote via Dave Winer, the inventor of RSS feeds:

Anyway, RSS is doing fine. It forms the pipes through which news flows. Nowadays there are some new-fangled faucets called Twitter and Facebook. But behind the scenes, connecting it all together is RSS. Formats that are as deeply entrenched as RSS is stay deeply entrenched. It’s how technology works. It’s why we still use QWERTY typewriters and why pages are still 8.5 inches wide and 11 inches tall.


Where are you from?

Many years ago in Hannover, I was standing next to my Persian friend and overheard the following conversation:

Where are you from?
Persian friend responds: Hannover
No, I mean where are you from originally?

The nerve. My friend insisted that she was from Hannover. But the other person effectively conveyed the message: you are not from here.

Similarly the integration debate in Germany and the SVP sheep poster campaign (yes, it’s back) here in Switzerland are leaving their mark, in a negative way.

Alienating all the law-abiding, hard-working immigrants. For political gain.

The more you talk about the need to integrate, the more you emphasize that another person isn’t integrated. And instead of improving integration, it may cause more divide as people are made aware of differences.

Even if you just move from one neighboring country to another, there are loads of unwritten rules and ways to behave and differing politeness levels, that all the natives adhere to and you don’t know anything about.

The readiness to adapt is higher at the beginning.

But how will I learn if there is no contact? No way to interact? If fear increases on both sides? If i experience rejection?

It helps if

  • i know what i believe in and where i come from.
  • i am open to get to know others from different backgrounds and cultures.

Life lessons

Today I stumbled across this Flickr snapshot, while searching for something else:

jack's life lessons

I need a haircut.


Jog log

Dear Web log,

I am trying to get back to a more regular jogging schedule. Started on Oct 6th. Attempt no. 2 coming up in about 2.5 mins.

Yours truly,



Backlink for Bike Beijing

I took part in a very enjoyable bicycle tour of Beijing. The tour was organised by Bike Beijing.

I did the Night Beijing Bike Tour.



A personal fave

waiting ... just before the train station in Zurich


blogger blogging

Get a blog!

Via this tweet, I stumbled across this article:

“A new study from Forrester Research has found a decline in the number of content creators across social networking sites, even while general use and participation on these sites has risen.”

High time to start blogging and creating content.

I personally feel that we are moving back into a media world where news is controlled by a handful. Simply ‘cos many of us (me included) have no time for citizen journalism.

Creating is more fun than echoing other folk’s content.

One of my fun projects is the boring flower snapshot set

Current projects:

  • Website project manager – Adding features and landing pages to a Drupal website
  • Testing a Powerpoint template for MS Office 2007 – I found out that PPT 2007 uses themes
  • Planning vacation – Going south I think. Tas and/or Malawi?
  • Learning about indoor photography – Asking Dive-angel how to take photos at an indoor event with my beloved DSLR

I am also planning to take a closer look at Open Atrium and Heart of Co.



Beautiful weather. Saturday morning. The most natural thing to do is to keep the window open, listen to the birds singing, and quietly sip some coffee while catching up with Twitter and Flickr and co.

You would think. But not in suburbia.

What is it with suburbia, that whenever there is beautiful weather, my neighbors bring out their noisy lawn mowers?

I live in a quiet, residential area, but this infatuation with noisy lawn mowers is striking. Yesterday. Today at 8:30. Probably lawnmower fanboys trying out their new toys… new lawnmower apps to try out.

Update 23 Sept:

Yesterday I was at home working on my MBA papers. Beautiful day. Sunny. Suburbia responded by bringing out the lawn mower.

Update 8 October 2010:

It’s sunny and warm. And the lawn mowers are mowing. Again.


Auto upgrade from WP 3.0 to 3.0.1

For some reason I couldn’t auto upgrade from WordPress 3.0 to 3.0.1.

I kept getting an error message.

I decided to deactivate all plugins before starting the auto upgrade. È voilà. The install went thru.

I still had the auto upgrade plugin installed from 2.7 installed. Maybe that was the problem? Or another plugin clashes with the upgrade process?

General language


I stumbled across this Swisscom poster showcasing Leo’s mobile app to sell a smart phone:

leo on swisscom poster

I started using Leo’s English – German dictionary regularly long time ago – in the late 90s. I think it must have been about 1997 or 1998 at my first full-time job after uni. The vocabulary wasn’t as extensive as it is today. And at the time many people questioned and challenged its reputation as a reference. But, working in an IT company, we had unlimited access to the Internet. And Leo’s website was accessible from every workplace, whereas hard copy dictionaries were few and bulky.

I remember lively discussions with a secondary school teacher for German and English. Her main point was that there was too little information on usage and folks studying English as a second language would be confused and misled by the simple list views. I felt that this also applied to most hard copy dictionaries. Regarding usage I – in turn- recommended Oxford’s monolingual Advanced Learner’s Dictionary.

From early on, Leo offered access to a forum where dictionary users could ask questions, make suggestions, improve dictionary entries, clarify usage, etc. And they added links to other language resources. Which indirectly helped me to find a job during the dotcom downturn.

Well, here I am walking to the office in Züri on a fine, sunny morning… just 13 years later… and Leo is helping to sell smartphones:


Related links:
Leo’s history
Online version of Oxford Advanced Learner Dictionary


Powerpoint resources

Everybody uses Powerpoint. Yet it is tricky to use. I am currently testing and reviewing a PPT 2003 template file. In this blog entry I am collecting useful resources for reference purposes.

Some links that @handmade2_0 suggested:

Fixing Powerpoint Annoyances

25 Powerpoint Tips

Merci vielmol!

While searching about recommended font sizes, I found this page on viewing distance and font size. I always learnt the minimum font size should be 18pt. But it seems there are creative agencies that suggest 15pt.

In the backlogs of Chiperoni, there is a very useful website if you are moving PPT slides from Mac to PC or vice versa.

Any other useful sites for Powerpoint?


Fun Photo Project

Face your pockets! via Photo-JoJo

tech wordpress

Installed WordPress 3.0

Message from the Chiperoni admin:

I just installed WordPress 3.0. Everything seems to be running smoothly.

And I found a new minimal theme to try out: Carrington Text.

Me and WP go back a long way.


Tour de Benelux

I am back from my 5th MBA residency. This time I traveled to Utrecht, De Ruwenberg, Tilburg, and Bruxelles.

Tour de Benelux without Lux.

It was great to meet with the class. And I really liked the lecturers this time.

The first week in Utrecht and De Ruwenberg and Tilburg was very busy with lots of late nights to finish assignments. And I didn’t really have any time to explore.

It was fun walking around Bruxelles again. 17 years after I had studied there for a year. Although speaking French took getting used to. I don’t switch easily between languages.

Lots of good food. I can recommend:

Tried this patisserie on Grand Sablon. The sweets were great but the service was very don’t carish.

There has been an explosion of chocolate shops in the downtown area. So many. One lecturer recommended Marcolini, while another suggested Frederic Bloondeel near the Sainte Catherine church.

Apparently Belgian chocolate contains less sugar than Swiss chocolate and it is softer (i.e more conching is applied).

All the Belgians we asked were in favor of separating Flanders and Wallonia into 2 separate states.

I went for a walk thru Schaerbeek where I stayed when I was a poor student.

The cinema was right across from the hotel. The same cinema where I watched Schindler’s List 16 to 17 years ago. Watched a couple of movies including an Argentinian film called El secreto de sus ojos. It was in Spanish with French and Dutch sub-titles. Excellent film. Category: must see.

I’ve always wondered why so many tourists travel to Bruxelles. I guess it offers good food, interesting architecture, lots of museums and it’s probably less expensive than Paris. By the end of my stay I was nearly persuaded to go back for a long weekend…

Some wild snapshots in the true Chiperoni tradition:

The flight attendant on Saturday’s 18:35 Swiss flight from Brussels to Zurich was very friendly. Thank you. It helps.

africa Malawi-related

Online dictionary for Chichewa

I am really excited about this online Chichewa/Chinyanja dictionary, which I just heard about on Twitter (hat tip @kristungati).

Try entering Mchenga.

Select Chichewa/Chinyanja to English

Click Translate

mchenga 1.sand; maziko ena onse npamchenga = all other foundations are on sand (see: hymn 362, Nyimbo za Mulungu); expression: walemba pamchenga (lit.: you have written in the sand) = you’ve wasted your time; expression: kugwetserana mu mchenga (lit.: throwing one another on the sand) = reconciliation;


Read more at Clement Nyirenda’s blog



This time in Nairobi, Kenya on August, 6th and 7th, 2010.

Follow the tweet stream at @makerfairafrica


More visits, more hits, more SEO tips

Food for thought:

(…) we should not be sacrificing our own personal ideals and our own internal moral compasses in a never-ending battle for position, for status, for scoops, or for access.

While 2010 is the year where many will find ways to monetize their online blogs, photos and apps (which is ok), don’t forget your personal voice.

Even if you have only 5 readers per day, you have influence.

There are enough echo chambers.

I spend a lot of time reading online. And there is a lot of repetition.

Don’t sell out to the latest SEO and social media marketing gimmicks. It’s a fact: google-bombing your way into Google’s top ten is getting more difficult by the day. Esp. for common terms. Even if you follow all the social media marketing advice out there. There is no silver bullet. Consider plain, old-fashioned offline marketing as well.

Remember why you started blogging and tweeting and have fun.

Stay independent.

I know why I am here. I enjoy writing. I like documenting my web world. The tools that I used. The feedback that I get.