Archive : April

Who will move Google’s cheese?

Today, I am getting 55.000 hits for a „google killer“ search using Google. The same search on Microsoft even brings up 64.800 results – wonder if this is a surprise, coincidence or evil. Currently, there is a lot of discussion about the Web, the Web 2.0 and 3.0 and whatever else lies ahead and may become the next big thing. Ever since Spencer Johnson told us that the cheese is moving, and Clayton Christensen explained how disruptive innovations and technologies change the rules of the game, there seems to be a pleasant or not so pleasant anticipation for seeing what or who will make Google’s giant cheese station move. Or is it already gone, since I couldn’t actually find it any more. You can read about some of the potential Google killers here or here or here

After we were already the person of the year 2006, maybe THE Google killer will be us! Why? Because we may rely less and less on Google to find stuff – because we know other places to better meet our special and diverse – or not so diverse information needs. Or we may find better tools to help us solve problems or spend our Online leisure time at other places. I would not be surprised to see some tough battles ahead to defend the huge Planet Google territory. The more fingers in the pies, the more places you need to show excellence.

New travel planning tools to virtually prepare my next trip

In the last few days, I discovered a few neat new tools for planning my next trips.

Now I just need to find out whether I can be bothered sitting in front of my good „old“ P4, 1.5 GHz, with not even 1 GB of RAM and torture myself, waiting for all the javascript code to load and parse and eventually allow me to actually DO something… Sometimes I really wonder how it was possible to play all those great graphics computer games on a Commodore 64 almost 20 years ago? Today I have to cross my fingers and hope that my machine will win the performance battle and finally let me draw a line with a few hundred points, without making me start swearing and arguing because it is taking ages for all this to happen. Do I need to adopt and get myself a dual or quad core processor machine that can cope with state-of-the-art requirements of the Web 2.0 world or shall I get some books and a printed map instead. Oh dear I so want my C-64 back!

First time snowboarding

After figuring out whether to fix the bindings regular or goofy, there was nothing to stop him. Getting a feeling for the right balance is the first step to a successful snowboarding career. Secret hint for anyone who wants to have a go – do not wear too many thermals on a warm day! Our friend lost an estimated 3 litres of sweat this day…

Learning to fall

I was really impressed by Aaron’s performance. He said he did water skiing before. Good on ya mate!

First day snowboarding

I don’t know how often he fell over that day, but he always got up again. Good spirit, and that’s how you learn it.

Goofy and regular

Champion performance! Have fun practising on Mount Ruapehu as soon as the season starts!

Zipflbob Post Season Trip

This is a secret tip for all Zipflbob enthusiasts out there. The winter season is ending. Most ski resorts have already closed, or are about to close. Why? Probably because the snow is melting, it has been a long season and everybody needs a break, or because people are now getting onto their mountain bikes instead of their skis and snowboards. Now here comes the hint: While the meadows are already green in the valleys and up to about 1200m, there is still compressed snow on the runs, which lasts a little bit longer. As long as you stay away from the grassy bits and try to not destroy the recovering ground, you can still enjoy Zipflbob rides for a little longer. And the best of all – you are almost by yourself as hardly anyone is keen enough to walk up instead of taking the gondola when it is not running.

So before Zipflbob and Zipfljo go hibernating in the basement over summer, they wanted to head for the slopes once again. So here we go. Zipflbob takes the big backpack with all the good food, drinks and the warm and waterproof cloths for the downhill ride. Waterproof turned out to be a bit of a joke, but more about that later… Zipflbob Backpack

Since it snowed just a few days ago, walking up was tough. But you really turn into explorer mode when you set your feet in fresh snow and go where nobody has gone before (well, not since the last snowfall at least).

Zipflbob Climb

Once you get up, you enjoy the view – green valley, snow covered mountains. You drink some tea, chop some food and then you get dressed up and ready for Zipflbobbing. Here come the tactics: Figure out who has less weight. Let that person go first. Why? Because it will be much easier for a light person to go through 10-20cm of „fresh“ wet snow than it is for a heavier person. That way, the first Zipflbobber already leaves a nice track that the second one can follow at an incredible speed.

Zipflbob Deep Snow Tracks

Next tip: You do not want to go down where it is too flat. It does not need to be super-steep (beware of avalanches and do not take any risks!!!) , but you don’t want it to be flat when the snow is deep and wet. The one, who is leading has to navigate. Tough job. Tip for the one following. Be prepared to break when the Zipflbobber in the lead needs to break. Or perform a super-crazy stunt to get around them or over them. The latter one is for experts only!

Zipflbob Deep Snow Downhill

When you increase speed on a steeper slope and you get into more flat terrain, Zipflbob turns into a snow mower. I forgot to mention that you should really really wear some proper goggles. Dramatically increases fun, vision and face temperature.

Zipflbob Snow Mower

Now if you follow these instructions and you watch out that you can break at any time, for instance if deer crosses the slopes or you get to some red lights, you should be alright – Park Zipflbob and Zipfljo at the end of your run and let them dry. I cannot over-emphasise drying. I have yet to find waterproof clothing which actually stays waterproof. Believe it or not. I had the equivalent amount of snow of 2 snow balls in the inner pocket of my jacket. Don’t ask me how it got there!

Zipflbob End of Track

May have been the last Zipflbob trip this season. I need to work out how to make Zipflbobs work in summer. I’ve got the wheels figured out, but the brakes are still a bit of a problem. I am pretty sure you need them, but I have no idea how that would work. So all you engineers out there who think you’ve got the idea to make this work, get in touch!

Real estate search on digital earth a few years down the road

Finding a flat for rent or the right house to buy is actually quite a challenge. Just think about what would be important to you. Close to public transport, walking distance to the bakery (very important!), a supermarket not too far away. How about something green when you look out of the window? Or some mountains, a park, a lake or even the coastline close by. Would be nice, when you want to go for runs, wouldn’t it? Or do you prefer the city centre? Being close to where stuff is happening? I guess you also want to live in a certain kind of neighbourhood, where you feel safe and happy. Not far away from work. You don’t want it to be noisy. If you have kids, how about a child-friendly environment and a kindergarten in the vicinity? Now the favourite place will probably differ, depending on your individual needs, likes and constraints. So how do you go about finding that favourite place? A real estate agent? The newspaper? A map? A walk around? Maybe you’ll combine different strategies to come to a conclusion.

With the new digital earth applications, it has become a whole lot easier to explore and discover places virtually. Plain maps, aerial photographs, birds eye imagery, socio-demographic overlays, Points of Interest such as the bakery, the bus stops, the train station – just select what you want to have displayed in context with other bits of information. However, finding that favourite place is still far from being really straightforward and convenient.

Now take birds-eye imagery and current 3D-City models a little bit further and combine them with the sophisticated databases that already exist and enable you to filter a 3-bedroom place built in the last 5 years within your budget and in a certain area. Imagine, how you walk around in a virtual 3D-landscape, being able to view everything from many different perspectives. Some computer games these days will give you a good idea what will be possible for the „real“ mirror earth. With your preferences defined, you start walking around the virtual town. You see the free apartments highlighted in some way and the houses that are yet to be sold. Of course, you can walk inside and have a 360 look around.

Has this potential to disrupt the real estate industry? Introducing Google Earth Real Estate or Microsoft Virtual Earth Flat Finder. Of course by then, anyone will have a digital camera that will output stitched panoramas straight away, ready to be uploaded into digital earth from the mobile device. It will be as easy as just taking a photograph and sending it to someone. Next to no effort required.

I guess efforts are under way to make all this happen, and there will be people claiming that we can already do this. However, I still think the real estate agents will have some more time to prepare… Can’t yet find that place that I am looking for!