Monday, October 15, 2007

Nerdiness measured

This is a fun quiz:

I am nerdier than 82% of all people. Are you a nerd? Click here to find out!

Burg Landeck and Martinsturm

From Martinsturm

The Cassidy family plus neighbour Anne with dog Duke enjoyed a Sunday excursion in the Pfalz yesterday. Burg Landeck near Klingenm├╝nster is a castle ruin dating from the 12th century, and a starting point for a circular walk taking in some excellent viewpoints, including the Martinsturm, a 19th century monastic tower.

Here are myself and the kids (Heike declined to climb the slippery steps) atop the tower, looking out all over the Pfalz:

From Martinsturm

On the way there and back we collected another bag full of chestnuts, as those previously collected in Schriesheim are by now all eaten.

Eight and a half kilometres over 4 hours of walking is a long day for short legs, but fortunately some of us are able to snooze on the move:

From Martinsturm

Sunday, October 07, 2007

A walk up the Margarethenschlucht

We joined the family section of the Heidelberg DAV for a walk up the Margarethenschlucht near Neckargerach. Liam and Rosalie were the youngest participants, but both acquitted themselves admirably - Liam walked and Rosalie slept the whole way.

Here some pictures, which can also be seen in Picasa:

Friday, October 05, 2007

People who create and sell mobile services don't actually use them (Shock!)

See here for the full story.
"among the mobile operator, media player, content owner, developer and retailer execs in attendance, 56 percent said they employ mobile web services on a daily basis, but rarely if ever capitalize on mobile TV and music services."

This definitely rings true with me, although more from an implementor of mobile services than an executive viewpoint ;-) I've been working on various mobile messaging and music services since 2003. Yet I don't use them regularly, for some or all of the following reasons:
  • Price: Why do I need to pay a mobile premium? Full Track Music delivered Over The Air for a 50-100% surcharge? No thanks. Ringtones are a notorious rip-off - up to 3 euros for a jingle I can manufacture myself for free. Even SMS and MMS, although comparitively inexpensive, make me angry because I know that the 15 cents per message is more than 20 times the network cost of transferring the message. I know I'm being suckered, and that modifies my consumption behavour.
  • User Experience: Mostly sucks. Small screen, awkward typing, tinny sound, poor video. These are part and parcel of using a mobile phone for sending messages, taking pictures, and playing audiovisual media.
  • Better alternatives: For messaging, why not use the laptop? Sure it's less spontaneous, but the quality improves (how many times have you read an unconsidered, poorly written, one-line email, and then right below the reason is proudly presented - "sent from my wireless handheld"). If you want to take a picture, why not use a decent camera? For music and video, any digital player is going to beat the available phones for the simple use case of playing a song. Who says that we only want 1 gadget, when 2 use cases are distinct enough to warrant 2 gadgets?
Disclaimer - I should note that I'm not a total Luddite, I do use many of the features mentioned above on my Blackberry Pearl. However the difference is that I use them as fallback features when a proper computer, camera or ipod is not available.

Note - although I've not yet tried out the new GPS phones, I'm suspicious that there too a compromise in GPS usability will be noticeable compared to a pure GPS device. I have separate GPS devices for driving and walking, and I would be surprised if a single GPS device could optimise both use cases, never mind as an offshoot of a mobile phone.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

The unauthorised Windows Vista commercial

is to be found here.
Much love to Fake Steve Jobs for this tidbit.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Collecting Chestnuts

Today is the 3rd October, which in Germany is a national holiday to celebrate reunification. The Schwab-Cassidys celebrated by visiting the forest to collect chestnuts. We got about 3 kilos of the buggers, which for me meant sore fingers as the chestnut outer skin is so prickly.


There were some celebrations in Heidelberg on Sunday 23rd September for Weltkindertag. I am informed by Wikipedia that 20th September is the International Children's Day in Germany. International throughout Germany? Anyway, clearly a Sunday was preferred to a Thursday, so the 23rd was chosen.

In any case, below are some photos we took of our kids together with neighbours Anne and Lily.

There was some additional entertainment in the form of African drum music, to which the children happily danced, Youtube video embedded below:

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Radiohead gets it, apart from the UI

In a move reminiscent of Prince's CD giveaway, Radiohead are selling their seventh album without the help (or hindrance) of a major label. On you can purchase the download version from October 10, or pre-order and pay now, an activation code will be sent by email.

The smart move is to leave the pricing open, i.e. the user chooses the price s/he feels appropriate, plus a 45p credit card fee. I chose £3.33, which is about 5€. The nice thing is that I'm pretty sure that the artists will get my full 5 euro, rather than between 6% and 8% of a 15€ CD.

A box set is also available to be shipped, at a price point of £40.00. This is great for fans, not casual listeners like me.

Not so smart is the website layout. These guys should stick to the day job of making music, and leave website design to professionals.

There is no word on the file format. My assumption is unprotected MP3, if not I'll be majorly disappointed.

This is a great example of artists taking control of their commercial models back from the labels (who have bungled every digital initiative so far). Music as a digital good is not only a saleable product in itself, but also a means to market concerts, physical CDs, DVDs, t-shirts and whatever. Watch out for more.