Skip navigation

Category Archives: technology

After the UEFA Champions League Final game on a Saturday in June (click here to see the post), we stayed an extra day in Berlin. As expected on a Sunday, most of the shops were closed. So we were pleased to discover Volkswagon Group’s “flagship” store, not far from Checkpoint Charlie on Friedrichstrasse 84/Unter den Linden. See the Forum’s site here.

vwforum-1

Apparently, it was only a month old when we visited in June 2015. Following extensive remodelling with a completely new design, the former Automobil Forum reopened with all of VW group’s twelve brands under one roof.

vwforum-10

The Volkswagen, Audi, SEAT, ŠKODA, Bentley, Bugatti, Lamborghini, Porsche, Ducati, Volkswagen trucks, Scania and MAN brands are presented.

Screen Shot 2015-07-04 at 11.25.59 AM

The VW brand was represented by a rally race car.
vwforum-4

Apparently, all Porsche dashboard looks the same.

vwforum-9

In Europe, more than one in four cars are made by the group. Volkswagen Aktiengesellschaft is the largest company in Europe, apparently, and this is their communication platform on mobility.

vwforum-5

Not following auto news, we had no idea that Lambo and Bentley are both VW brands.

vwforum-7

The Lambo’s shark look is comical, as is the over-tanned rolly polly Bentley.

vwforum-8

According to their website (click here ):

“The Volkswagen Group Forum gives us the opportunity to further enliven its economic and social role. Here in the heart of the capital, we want to establish a continuing dialogue with people.”

vwforum-3

The Group operates 119 (May 26, 2015) production plants in 20 European countries and a further 11 countries in the Americas, Asia and Africa. Every weekday, 592,586 employees worldwide produce nearly 41,000 vehicles, and work in vehicle-related services or other fields of business. The Volkswagen Group sells its vehicles in 153 countries.

vwforum-6

Interacting with digital exhibits, the visitors can discover both the past and present of the Volkswagen Group.

vwforum-2

Of course, they are selling the brands here not the actual cars, but they sell books and other branded paraphrenalia. But the range of merchandise here pales in comparison with what was on offer at BMW Welt in Munich (click here to see the post).

vwforum-14

There were several walls full of miniature models on display. The model cars were not available for sale. They serve a documentary purpose.

vwforum-11

Volkswagen started producing Sambas in 1951. In the sixties this version became popular as a hippie bus. Instead of a sliding door at the side the Samba had two pivot doors. In addition the Samba had a fabric sunroof. At that time Volkswagen advertised with the idea of using the Samba to make tourist trips through the Alps. Sambas were standard painted in two colors. Usually, the upper part was colored white. The two colored sections were separated by a decorative strip. Further the bus had a so-called “hat”: at the front of the van the roof was just a little longer than the car itself to block the sun for the driver.

vwforum-15

We assume they would make a model only if the real car existed – but Porsche police car ?  Only in Germany !

vwforum-13

The forum offers conference spaces and two restaurants – the eateries sounded interesting but we did not have time to try them.

vwforum-16

A fun place to spend half an hour.

Advertisements

We are caught a bit off guard when the admin page of WordPress indicated that our next post will be the six hundredth (600th) that we published. As previously said several times, we are surprised that the interest in keeping up this blog has not fizzled out over the last 5 years. True it is, that we are still living in Europe and away from our friends and families, the primary reason for starting the blog. But we also find that this blog is a convenient medium to capture and frame memories of our time in Switzerland and our travels, and it became a habit and a hobby (at least for Chris).

600th-1

The blog was launched on November 4, 2009. The first trip ever reported here was our visit of Playa de Carmen, Mexico in November 2009 (click here to see). We had not yet left the US at that time but were starting to pack our belongings and worried about the move.

600th-6

Fast forward to now, posts on our quick tour of three cities – Taormina, Siracusa (Ortigia) and Catania – on the east coast of Sicily, taken during Easter, are under preparation now. Our most recent visit to Berlin and Copenhagen earlier this month has not yet been written up. Most of the photos are still in Raw format.

600th-3

Since March 2013, we have been posting a series of photos on Facebook, one a day except Sunday and Thursday when the blog is updated. There is no theme – just something random and per se visually interesting. They are essentially pictures that did not make the blog for some reasons. We gave each a serial number, a minimally-worded title and a mention of where it was taken (to the extent we could remember the location). But we wanted to share them with the readers here too – so we started showing 5 of them in a post – somewhat irregularly. This is the first of the series – #1 – “the history of cool” –  Munich.

stamps-1

So far we have shown about 150 of them here, but on Facebook, we are at #444 – there is a backlog of almost 300 random photos! On days when we are not writing the blog, these photos could keep the blog going for a while. This is #443 – “dark 3” – Taormina.

600th-4

The readership of this blog has stabilized at around 50-70 views per day. Apart from posting a link in Facebook, Twitter and Google+ each time a post goes public, we made little attempts to drive up the statistics. We also signed up Pinterest but have not seen much changes (perhaps we are not leveraging the site properly). But other people have pinned our photos on pinterest.  So if you do not feel like writing a comment, pin a photo.

600th-8

Recently, we noticed that the page view of one of our posts in April on eating durian on the street of Petaling Jaya (click here to see) has gone through the roof (more than 120 views last week alone and maintaining the momentum). It must have caught the attention of certain netizens in Malaysia (as reflected in WordPress statistics), and got linked to an index or a popular site.

durian-7

The reigning champion of page views is still our first post on HSBC’s poster ads as seen around major airports in 2010 (click here). Its two siblings are receiving decent traffic too.

This blog has changed its theme (a WordPress term for the overall look and feel of the blog) only once which happened within the first month of its launch. So the appearance remains constant for the last few years and it is getting a bit aged. But we are hesitant to change to a more modern theme as it could affect somewhat unpredictably the old posts. More experimenting is needed (if we have more time).

600th-5

One day we might want to make a book (or several books) using these photos, like the ones we did for Yellowstone National Park and Iceland back in 2007.

We have been buying books showing photos of a city “then and now” or aerial views of an area.

600th-2

Before signing off, we want to thank our readers for their interest and support, and Susie who has been responding to our posts consistently and ranks No. 1 with the highest number of comments.

600th-9

Your feedback is important as it is the only way we know someone is reading the blog. So please comment, like, retweet, follow, clip, subscribe, pin, bookmark, repost or do some good old-fashioned word-of-mouth. In the meantime, we will continue to share words and images of our adventures.

600th-7

Cheers.

We went to visit CERN (Organisation européenne pour la Recherche nucléaire), the European Organization for Nuclear Research, at Meyrin, just outside Geneva. It is about 40 minutes drive from us.

cern-1 
Our visit was unplanned and the limited daily guided tour was fully booked weeks in advance.  So we just saw two exhibitions, one in the reception building (#33) and another in a dome-shaped exhibition hall across the street.

cern-10

CERN was founded in 1954 and has currently 21 member states. It is the biggest particle physics laboratory in the world and sits astride the French-Swiss border. Its web site (click here) is very informative and educational. I love its logo as it does graphically depict CERN’s main equipment.

CERN_official_logo

The acronym CERN came from Conseil Européen pour la Recherche Nucléaire which remained even though the full name has been changed to Organisation européenne pour la Recherche nucléaire. Nobody liked “OERN”. There is a lot of information about CERN on wikipedia, click here.

cern-12

While the origin of the universe is a very interesting and deep question, I think the biggest contribution of CERN to the world is what enables you to read this. The World Wide Web was invented at CERN in 1989 by British scientist Tim Berners-Lee.

cern-2

CERN seeks answers to questions about the universe. What is it made of ? How did it come to be the way it is ? More specifically, it has been working on the search for antimatter and the Higgs boson.

This is the equation of the Standard model which attempts to explain EVERYTHING.

CERN’s experiments are designed to prove/disprove some of the predictions of the Standard model.

Screen Shot 2014-03-08 at 1.03.56 PM

CERN built the world’s most powerful particle accelerator – the 27 km Large Hadron Collider (LHC), buried 50-150 m below ground.

cern-6

Accelerators boost beams of particles (e.g., protons) to high energies in vacuum guided by superconducting magnets at -271ºC within the 27 km ring before the beams are made to collide with each other at near light speed. The picture below is only a mock-up of the accelerator.

cern-13

Four huge detectors – ALICE, ATLAS, CMS and LHCb were built to observe and record the results of these collisions. At 46 m long, 25 m high and 25 m wide, the 7000-tonne ATLAS detector (see photo below) is the largest volume particle detector ever constructed. It sits in a cavern 100 m below ground.

cern-9

CERN has invested 6 billion swiss francs covering the accelerator, computing and manpower. More than 10,000 scientists and engineers are contributing to the project. Below are pictures of the exhibition hall.

cern-3

On 8 October 2013 the Nobel prize in physics was awarded jointly to François Englert and Peter Higgs “for the theoretical discovery of a mechanism that contributes to our understanding of the origin of mass of subatomic particles, and which recently was confirmed through the discovery of the predicted fundamental particle, by the ATLAS and CMS experiments at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider.”

cern-8

As a former scientist (in biology), seeing all these big science projects, multinational teams and advanced infrastructures are very exciting.

cern-14

To get a behind-the-scenes view, see the 2014 documentary about the discovery of the Higgs Boson at CERN – “Particle Fever”  – the New York Times review of the movie is here.

cern-11We will definitely return and do the full guided tour properly.

After my last post on interesting beverages, I thought that it might be fun to blog about what might be required afterwards.

The last time I was at Le Flon (a Covent Garden-like or Union Square-like place) in Lausanne, I did not see that transparent toilet.  Knowing me, if I went in I would have made a similar video (minus the French voiceover).  I have seen that kind of glass first used in Prada’s changing room in Soho 5+ years ago.  The technology has apparently gone down-market.

So far, all the public toilets I have come across in Switzerland requires an entrance fee of CHF1 – 2.   I used the one at Lausanne’s main train station run by the company “McClean”.  Its hardware includes a bit of art at the bottom of it.  It was amusing for the first time when you spotted it.  I guess it makes you feel better about paying the entrance fee – added cultural value.  I wonder what design/art the ladies room contains given it would not have the same type of hardware.  After I took these pictures, the attendant asked me to stop photographing, probably thinking that I was a pervert.  I am not !

Apologies to those who found the pictures of toilets distasteful, but I believe they are part of the adventure, and should thus be included.

To commemorate the 100th post which occured earlier this week, here are some blog statistics:

There are a total of 101 posts, 95 comments, 15 categories, and 24 tags.  Comments in facebook don’t show up here and are not counted. The blog received a total of 2,270 views as of today.  The busiest day received 68 views on Thursday, December 3, 2009 on which day was posted Cabana or cabaña / Things In Life.  Not all views were directed to this post, however.  The chart above shows the number of views per week since we started the blog.  It looks like our blog’s popularity is on a slow decline.  I guess the blog’s novelty is wearing out among some of the readers. But I also know that I have loyal followers who re-visit the blog regularly and I sincerely thank you (you know who you are) = ).

The post view ranking below does not necessarily reflect the popularity of the post as some posts have been up longer than the others.  But it does give some indication.

You can revisit all our posts by clicking on the title.  Enjoy !

Title Views
Home page 741
The Different Values of HSBC 187
About Chris & Sue 96
Louis Vuitton / Solari di Udine 59
Bluefin tuna-1 46
Oh-Toro from 680-lb bluefin tuna 44
Temporary Home Sweet Home 34
Neuchâtel, Switzerland 34
A Bad Day 31
ETRO Relent 28
vacation food porn #1-#4 recap 28
Christmas Bash / Nor’easter 24
“gristly, slithery, slimy, squelchy, cru 23
More Different Values of HSBC 22
Our Christmas Dinner 2009 21
The Fifth Avenue of Playa del Carmen 20
Sunrise at Edgewater 20
Louis Vuitton / Super Flat First Love 19
vacation food porn #7-#11 19
Vegetables in My Kitchen 19
Adventuras de Chris y Sue 18
Moving Across The Pond 18
Airborne Food Porn: LX23 from JFK to GVA 18
First Post from Europe 17
Bluefin tuna-1-3 17
I ♥ NY: Moveable Type @ New York Times B 16
Christmas Party 2009 #1 16
La Crêperie de Grancy 16
vacation food porn #17-#21 16
Neuchâtel Food Porn: Lakeside #1-#5 15
Chinese Menu Translations 14
Diptyque ✻ 34 Boulevard Saint Germain 14
High Line: Star Architecture 14
Even More Different Values of HSBC 14
Hotel Beaulac at Neuchâtel 14
My New Camera 14
Maps: Playa del Carmen 13
Lausanne, Switzerland 13
High Line: I ♥ NY 13
Playing With Food 13
Moving Out of Edgewater 12
A Room With A View 12
under construction ! 12
Bluefin tuna-1-2 12
New Appearance for the blog ? 12
Six days at the Riviera Maya 11
High Line: Style Details 11
A Temporary Means of Transportation 11
The Resort: Royal Hideaway Playacar 11
A Most Beautiful Drive in Iceland 10
Banana Flambe – Betty Don’t Die 10
NYC food porn: Telepan #1-#5 10
Minimalist Graphics 10
Bar 13 @ NYC Part 1 10
Honmaguro Oh-Toro from Mitsuwa 10
Tunisian Takeout 9
Riviera Maya Scam #1 9
Our Old Cars: #1 9
Jet Lag / Lost In A Moment 9
Packing Up Edgewater 9
Lausanne at Night 9
High Line: Dusk, You and Me 9
Landing In Switzerland 8
Lakeside Restaurant at Hotel Beaulac 8
Traffic jam @ EWR 8
Snow Day in Edgewater 8
How Overpriced are Electronics in Europe 8
High Line: Shadows and Silouhettes 8
A History of Chocolate in Neuchâtel 7
La Coudre – Chaumont Funicular Railway 7
Hotel Deseo, Playa del Carmen 7
Swiss demographics 7
The Geography of Bliss by Eric Weiner 7
The Cube – one of my workspaces 7
Haute Cuisine without Mao Zedong 7
Aquarium at Hotel Beaulac: Part 2 of 4 7
I ♥ NY: Cityscape Video 7
2010: What Matters Now 7
The Geography of Bliss: Happiness Scores 6
Aquarium at Hotel Beaulac: Part 1 of 4 6
Resignation / I Don’t Like Mondays 6
Hello world! 5
Riviera Maya Scam #2 5
Cabana or cabaña / Things In Life 5
I ♥ NY: High Above Bryant Park 5
CBGB OMFUG is now DBGB 5
Dangerous Quotes 4
eyeCandy #1: Super Fluids 4
NYC food porn: Telepan #6-#10 4
Subscribe to Many More Excellent(?) Adve 4
WordPress beta 4
NYC Food Porn: DBGB #1-#5 4
New Theme stays ! 3
Aquarium at Hotel Beaulac: Part 3 of 4 3
Panorama at Chaumont: Part 1 3
Bar 13 @ NYC Part 2 3
Panorama at Chaumont: Part 2 3
Google’s dominance and vulnerabilities 3
High Line: Chelsea Market 2
Wild Life at the Royal Hideaway 2
vacation food porn #5 and #6 1
Louis Vuitton / Super Flat Monogram 1
Pattern Recognition recognized 1

I have added a button for activating subscription to our blog.  You will find it at the bottom of the page. Hopefully you have enjoyed the adventures so far and would like to continue with us. As a subscriber, you will receive an email notifying you of new blog posts from wordpress.com at intervals determined by you. This feature provided by wordpress.com is presumably safe and spam-free.

Another way to keep informed is via Twitter – just follow @christwitx.

Stay tuned folks.

The poll is closed, results are in.  First, I want to thank all of you who voted.

The new theme – ChaosTheory is IN and will stay for the time being.  I have also turned on Falling Snow – a holiday feature of WordPress.

The picture above is a mock up of the old theme without the Upper Manhattan banner photograph.  I should have posted it for comparison, oh well.  RIP.

I am experimenting with different appearances (or themes) for the blog.  Since I use a lot of photos, a dark background is preferred as it shows photos off better. I prefer sans serif fonts for their modern looks.  The theme I have been using in the last couple of weeks is called Chaotic Soul which has a sidebar and a banner photograph.  Today, I switched to a new theme called Chaos Theory which has a cleaner look, but the widgets are at the bottom.  These themes are provided by WordPress.com.  None are totally satisfactory but they are free.  I’d like your opinion on which theme is better.  Unfortunately, I cannot provide a side-by-side comparison, so you have to recall from memory how yesterday’s posts looked.

NY Times online has published an interesting dialogue on this topic between a couple of googlexperts.  Goto:   http://roomfordebate.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/12/02/where-google-goes-from-here-part-1/

According to one of them:

Google knows that as good as its search engine and Bing are, both are inefficient. They produce a blizzard of too many answers.

A potentially more efficient threat will come from a vertical search, which social networks like Facebook and Twitter might provide. Imagine you want to buy a camera. Would you rather have the advice of 20 friends whom you know and trust and who share their experience with cameras, or 20,000 or so links from a Google search?

Well, in my very limited experience here, for this blog, most of the page views originated from Facebook.  I suspect this is because the blog is pubilicized through Facebook and Twitter, and the topics are of interest only to my plugged-in friends (whom I thank for their attention and comments).  So, there is a vertical aspect here too, echoing the googlexpert.

Among the statistics that the WordPress platform provide to me, are keywords that brought visitors from the world-at-large to here.  There are very few so far, but it will be interesting to see what keywords in people’s search results lead them to this blog.

I am testing WordPress to run my blog.

YOU SPIN ME AROUND

You Spin Me Around

Welcome to WordPress.com. This is your first post. Edit or delete it and start blogging!