Category Archives: Non-Technical Topics

Reasons not to raise kids in the US

At some point creating a safe environment for kids just becomes a bad joke that could be as well fetured in a Monty Python show. According to a story in the  Washington Post, children in the age of 4 or 6 years may already commit sexual harassments.

Well, how crazy can you be? Children that cause problems probably need guidance instead of punishment (especially if punishment means just to file a record that will stick for a whole live).

At some point, I just have the urgent feeling of slapping both the British and U.S. government for their strange views. Arrgh. Is it a genetic error in those people that they think that laws can change the human nature? Not laws change people, education does! And education does surely not mean to put people into jail, using a “three-strikes” strategy; it means fixing the cause of the problems. But how do you teach people to fix the causes, if the attention span of the common voter has been trained to be no longer than the 5 minutes FOX news?

Oh, Lord, please summon a strong Chinese government to take over the struggeling US, so that they can live in a society that honors the United Nations Human Rights Charta and does not spy on its own people.

I’m safe: Weekly consumption of alcohol is good for you

I always instinctively knew, that a constant supply of alcohol is a positive thing. Not only allows it to separate good concepts from flawed ones (also known as Wine-Test), no, it also makes you life longer than those puritans, who drink no alcohol at all. (Of course, as with all medicine, too much is still deadly. But medicine barely tastes half as good, doesn’t it?)

Well, of course all of this is true, at least according to the European Heart Journal

Americans food is the ultimate test

For the last two years I stood in awe how the common American people manage to survive the daily meal. There are countries in the world, where serving a typical American burger or barbecued something is considered a serious crime (if not a violation of the Geneva Conventions). Rumors even say, that the first representative of McDonalds coming to France was shot on sight.

And everyone who ever stayed in one of the many Hotels (for instance in the Orlando Airport area), knows that every word said about the food (no matter how bad) is true.

Well, until recently I also believed that truth.

Gretchen and Doug, two fellow colleagues from Pentaho, introduced me to the other side of the All-American food chain. Their invitation to a charity community meal on Merrit-Island showed me, that there is hope for America. There was a wide variety of foods and flavors, an amazing mix of Italian, German and other european influences composed to a bazaar of eatable things. The world’s cuisines at your fingertips.

Thinking about it, I’m pretty sure that I now know, why they make the Hotel food so bad. Its an test. Only those who survive the horrible food there are worthy enough to even be considered to become citizens. Its the ultimate test: Eat our “food” and risk a horrible death or go back from where you came.

(Which makes me wonder, why still so many Mexicans try to cross the border to the north. But then again: They probably only get spanish style food, like the stuff I encountered in Barcelona. In that case, even the things they serve in the Hotels is an improvement over that.)

So if you’re traveling into the U.S. and dont want to choose between starving to death or risking to eat the tourist-food, then strive away from the main roads and explore what the real country has to offer. You will be astonished!

Without power, but still connected

Today the last bits of energy left my notebook as exess power. Now the whole thing turned into a rather expensive desktop statue.

But I m still here and still connected. The worlds best MP3-player saved the day. Thanks, PSP/2!

I can read, I can write (slowly, as this thing has no keyboard), I can access the net. I am alive!

OO-Con: Cultural Colonization

The first day has gone by, and a rather productive day it was.

The CEO of Redflag Linux held a keynote that was quite interesting and contained a couple of great points to think of: Why do we western software producers think that just slapping a translation on top of a product makes it perfectly suitable for the whole world?

In China they have a different culture with fundamental different approaches on how to solve problems and how to work with tools and each other. But corporations like Microsoft (he used that example, as he was speaking of the Office market, but later widened the blame to all kinds of software) simply ignore the traditions that exist everywhere and force users (by their sheer market power) to accept the western way of life. He specifically used the example of text-layouting, text processing and text-display to shed some light on how our system differs from theirs. Although most of his points sounded simple and easy to ignore, the sum of all of them forms a huge mass of annoyance.

And I think our tools are following the same trail. For the reporting engine I know that we do not support anything else than the Latin writing system (if other systems work, then this is just by accident). But for anything more arcane than the obvious, we cant even tell whether there would be an issue – as we simply dont know and never cared to ask.

Heck, we should go for it. BO, Cognos and Co are ignoring a huge market (not just China, but also India,whole Asia, the Arabic states, in fact: Everything except Europe and Northern America).

OK, they are not rich (yet), but a Penny is a Penny no matter whether you collected it from a poor or a rich men. But as there are more poor than rich people, collecting Pennies from them should give a better harvest ;). Or as the Redflag CEO put it: In China there a arbout 1.2 billion people without computer knowledge now. But they will catch up, and the decision of whether they get colonized by wester products or use own local products is made today.

We as Pentaho can help them to make the right decision, against the classical vendors to a great OpenSource product that does not limit their freedoms. But for that, we have to activate the potential in our local partners, who know their local cultures and encourage them to create not just translations, but a product that reflects the local culture of their own people.

P.S: While speaking about local culture. I’m down here without a working power supply – the cable is gone and after a whole day of desperate search, I’m convinced that there is not a single shop that sells a plain cable. So I’m running out of power – there is now 2 hours left in the battery and hopefully I will have enough electricity left tomorrow to return here (and to read mails. Argh, being offline makes me feel so 20th century).

Comparing Barcelona with Orlando


– The airport area looks the same. (Airports itself probably always look the same everywhere). The same mix of swamps, large free area that eventually turns into storage buildings or other low-density industrial area in a couple of years. The same large ads.
– Traffic jams. What use is a highway system, if everyone (except the motorcycles) is crawling?
– Climate. well, not the exactly the same. Barcelona is located directly at the sea, so its not *that* humid as Orlando.
– Air conditioning. Everywhere. And even large buildings dont have central ones, every window has its own small air conditioner attached.
– Food*. Not sure how Columbus made it to America with such food*. Well, I’m not sure how the americans survive with their food* either.
– Being offended by naked skin. You cant enter the Cathedral of Barcelona if you are a scrupelous woman that walks freely around with naked shoulders. Terrible such behaviour, isn’t it? And next woman want to vote. Seriously, even in Bavaria (which is strict** in religious topics) one would not be able to survive (policitally, not physically) with such an idea (ban naked skin, not voting***).
– The Sun is the same. I made some scientific experiments and can confirm: It produces the same kind of sun burn in both cities.


– Its older. The whole inner city of Barcelona smells of history.
– Its slower (especially in the rush hour). They take their time to build proper things. One cathedral is being built since 1882. They may finish it in 2020. Or later.
– Its has a city center. Orlando is a large assortation of villages, the city center is so small that you could miss it when you walk through it (I missed it twice. I was surprised once I found it. Now I dont miss it anymore.)

Tomorrow the OpenOffice Conference will start in the old university. The building itself feels more like a museum – old paintings and beautiful gardens. Being there makes you feel as if you traveled back in time 600 years (except for the existence of ring-tones and the non-existence of the spanish inquisition).

* The term food is used loosely here. In some countries chefs may be burned (or worse: fed such things) for comming up with such creations. But visiting either city is always a good time to loose some extra pounds of body weight.

** Strict, in comparison to the other German states. Not as strict as Vatican city, of course.

*** In Bavaria, there is no sense in inventing voting. There is just one party that counts, so it more or less comes down to a Yes or No thing. And Nos dont count either.

… please hold the line … or on a quest to get a new telephone line

Right now, I’m desperately trying to get ISDN and DSL set up in my new home. But for reasons unknown to me, no one seems to be willing to give me a telephone extension.

When it comes to getting connected to the internet outside of the metropolitan areas in Germany, all alternatives usually boil down to two or three providers: You can stick with the former state-owned Telekom or you could try your luck using Arcor (part of the Vodaphone family) or Freenet.

Trying to get in touch with the Telekom salespeople is hard. Their web-site just sucks, for some reasons it is just a huge shopping system, without any hope to get any decent information out of it. It may be OK for the mainstream user, but once you have a specific question (as specific as “how to get additional numbers” or as simple as “what is the maximum speed you can offer to me”) you are left alone. Shop or die.

They give a call-in number so that you can use the phone to order. But sadly no one answers the phone. Is everyone out to lunch?

Nex try: Arcor. I experienced the funny and chaotic service department of Arcor years ago, when I lived in Nuremberg. Their efforts in getting new customers must be huge: During the last year I got more visits from Arcor Sales-people than from Jehova’s Witnesses.

Swallow your fear, lets call Arcor. Their web-site greets you with a overloaded news-portal, and the actual product information is as bad as the Telekom’s. So let’s forget the internet, lets try to talk to a human being.

Call-in time. First you get greeted by an automated voice asking you, whether you are a new customer or an existing one. (Existing ones are not allowed to use the free hotline, they have to use a paid one. This already gives you the extra feeling of being welcome as customer, doesn’t it?)

So I am connected now, lets try the questions. The first one is simple: My mother already is an Arcor customer, and the company offers to pay for referring new customers to them. We dont have money to waste, so my first question just asks, how we can get the credit for the referral. And there the sales-hell broke loose. No, you cant use this line to get a referred contract. You have to use the (expensive) customer support line or the (confusing and unusable) internet service to do this.

Nice – pay us to become a customer? But wait, it gets better. Not wanting to let a potential customer go without a sale, the nice sales-person told me that if I order now, without using the referral, I would have everything set-up in 10 to 14 days. But if I order through the service-center for existing customers, this would properly take longer.

This really sheds a bad light on the company. Either the service for existing customers is still as bad as 5 years ago, degrading existing customers to second-class citizens, or the sales people are using deception to try to get new sales. And there they are again, my bad feelings. I better trust my intuition here and stay away from them.

(And no, I do not seriously consider Freenet – a customer support line that costs 1.29€ per minute is a good indicator how they think about their customers. So whenever there is something wrong with their service, then *I* should have to pay to get it fixed? No, thanks.)

Now, lets try again to get in touch with the Telekom sales people…