Here’s a bunch of stuff that caught my eye around Europe in the last few months. Click the image for details on where it was spotted.
Sorry the last few days have been updateless, but I’m been country hopping and tube riding. I’ve been in London for the past 48 hours or so and am packing up now to start my final leg of travel back to the US. Here’s the photos I took in London in case you want to check them out. In case you wanted some follow up on my bitching the other day about exchange rates and things, these 2 and a half days in London will end up costing me more than my time (and travel to, from, and within) Dublin, Cork, Cologne, and Amsterdam COMBINED. So yeah, the British Pound rocks if you are getting paid in it, and sucks for everyone else.
On a lighter note I’m almost finished with a “What I listed to in Yurp!” playlist which I’ll post here when I’m done with it. I was hoping to have it polished off before I left, but that’s just not happening. It’s over 2 hours right now and yeah, that’s a bit long so I still need to trim it down a bit and will do that on the flights back. I go from here to Chicago, have a bit of a layover there but long enough that I can take off and get food with friends, then to Dallas, and finally Los Angeles. Culture shock, here I come.
After a 5 hour bus ride from Cork to Dublin I check into the Comfort Inn in Dublin, where I booked the room because they were advertising “Free Broadband Internet” to find they are running content filters and blocking half the web. Including my own blog. Of course that’s easily skirtable with any number of anonymizers but it’s still annoying as hell. I was running out again quickly to try and hook up with some Dublin bloggers (who I was too late to catch up with) so I swing by the reception desk downstairs and mention it to the attendant there and also the manager who happens to be standing there as well.
The manager said “Are you trying to get to one of those gambling sites like facebook or beebo? Because we’re blocking those on purpose.” I explain that not only am I not trying to get to any gambling sites, but rather my own personal site, but that I was easily able to get to Facebook, which isn’t a gambling site. She responds telling me that shouldn’t be the case because they have a firewall in place to “stop all of that kind of thing inside the hotel.” I ask her basically what bejezus she’s talking about because it’s a damn hotel and what could should be worried about? She tells me that in order for them to protect their internal computer systems and all their customers data they have to make sure people aren’t going to the wrong kinds of websites in the rooms. I tell her that makes no sense at all but regardless I can assure her that there is nothing on seanbonner.com that will steal all the info of her clients and I need to get into it hassle free.
She tells me there is no way to only allow one site for one room, if they open it up for me they open it up for everyone. I tell her it’s already open for everyone because they are paying for a bullshit URL filter that is easily beat with a proxy and that they are just wasting money on a service that does nothing but annoy her customer. She assures me it is protecting them and works great. I point out it’s working too great because it’s blocking things like my own personal site. She tells me if she had it her way it would block everything. Oh. Well there’s that then isn’t it.
She asks how big a problem it is that I can’t get to my site. I say it’s really big. She says she’ll see what they can do and worst case will move me to a new hotel and to check back with her in an hour. I check back and she’s not around but the other guy who was there for the whole time says it should be working fine now. Which it is. I can’t wait to see society as we know it come to a screeching halt because residents of the Comfort Inn in Dublin can now access seanbonner.com unrestricted!
Warren Ellis just deleted his entire Facebook friends list and blogged about it. He’s complaining about the same thing I’ve mentioned before, though I haven’t made those complaints about Facebook specifically. He says:
“…the more “friends” you allow on your Facebook list, the more unusable Facebook gets.”
This is something I’ve been saying about Twitter. Other than playing a few games with a few of my friends I really don’t use facebook at all. The poking, linkspaming, constant updating and everything else does a pretty good job of making Facebook useless enough as it is, so I kind of just use it to see who I know and how I met them. The social timeline is the best thing on there I think, as only people I actually know take the time to fill out when they met me. That said when I get requests by people I don’t think I’ve ever met or talked to or heard of, and we’re connected by ZERO people, I generally decline. Twitter on the other hand I use all the time and keeping the signal to noise ratio in check is important to me. That’s why I think all this “reciprocation” shit is horsecrap. I’m supposed to not be able to see what my friends are up to, not use the service for what it was created to do, because my page is full of updates from people I don’t know but I’m afraid I might offend if I don’t follow them just because they are following me? I don’t think so. I know at least 5 people who have secret Twitter accounts so they can follow only their friends while following everyone and anyone on their main account so as not to come off as rude. That’s totally bullshit. I really think that following more than 150-200 people (depending on how much some of them post) makes the site either a massive timesuck or totally useless. I’ve mentioned before I’m adding and removing people all the time based on where in the world I am, and where in the world they are as there are some people I only need to follow when we are in the same town. Additionally there are some people I don’t follow but do read their pages on my own simply because they are too active and push off all the updates from my other friends. That’s a divergence from the point I was trying to make, which actually Warren makes to:
“…people add me just because they’ve seen me in other profiles…”
This is one of the main reasons I quit MySpace initially, and Friendster, and whatever else. I hate feeling like a trading card. Some people join a service and rush out to make sure they have all the right people on their friends lists. There are people I’ve never talked to, never messaged with, never met on any level who list me as a friend on every service I’m a using. I’m not at the point of deleting my friends list and starting over like Warren, like I said I don’t use Facebook the way he does so it doesn’t really interfere with how I do use it, but this is obviously an issue that future SNS will need to address. Twitter is on the right track by allowing people to follow you that you don’t follow yourself. Maybe Facebook should do something similar.
I meant to post about this before, and if you’ve been following me on twitter you’ve heard tell of it but officially this is my battle cry in support of the Dirty Chai. What’s what you might ask? It’s a Chai Latte, preferably with soymilk, with a shot of espresso thrown in. It rules. I’ve ordered it by name in Vienna, Berlin, Amsterdam, and now Cork. Everyplace has been like “huh?” then I explained it, they thought it sounded a little weird but agreed to make it. By the time they handed it to me they had moved on to thinking it was probably pretty good. In Vienna and Berlin I was able to stop explaining it and just order it by name, and at Cork Airport a few hours ago the barista said “that is the absolutely best sounding special request I’ve ever gotten, I’m making two, one for me” and then we toasted when he was done.
Long and short of it, they rule. Go order one yourself.
Additionally, I’m blown away by how cool Cork is and how much cool stuff is going on here. More on this soon, but if we open a European office for Metroblogging of any kind, Cork just got bumped to the top of the list of candidate cities.
I haven’t updated here in a few days because I’ve actually been outside. I know, shocking isn’t it? Upon arriving in Amsterdam I met up with Bicycle Mark who loaned me some wheels (pictured above) and guided me around the city. Amsterdam is surprisingly easy to navigate and get an idea of how it works. And for a bike nerd it’s heaven. I’d heard this was a biking city but there’s really no way to describe how bikes are the premiere form of transportation here. All other forms of travel are secondary. Lucky I bought a 48 tram pass when I arrived, as I used the tram exactly once. Anyway I filmed riding through the streets a bit and put that video after the jump, also my photos are all over here if you want to see more. Now I pack, and then fly to Cork, Ireland. More once I’m in Rebel County.
Or maybe you shouldn’t be. But that you should do is watch the above clip of us earlier this evening messing with a TVbGone in a Burger King here in Cologne. In fact if you haven’t been checking it out yet, scope seanbonner.blip.tv which is where I’m posting video right now. I haven’t figured out how to edit anything so it’s really just raw footage but some of it is amusing. And I guess you can subscribe to it in iTunes and things. Woot!
Speaking of iTunes, I generally maintain that 99% of Mashups are total crap, but the 1% that aren’t are so amazing I can’t stand it. I was checking out the Best of Bootie 2007 to see if there were any gems, and while many of them are above average More Than On Point” by DJ Topcat is amazing. It mashes up House of Pain and Boston, and perfectly at that. I highly recommend grabbing at least that track. OK, 1 hour till I gotta leave for the train to Amsterdam. Fun!
Day 2 in Cologne, or Köln if you’re nasty. I actually ventured out from C4 today to see a bit of the city, also because I hadn’t eaten anything in like 30 hours or something so I needed to find eats. Which I did, so no worries. Outside of just wandering around I wend down and saw the cathedral like a good tourist. Holy crap that thing is big, and old, and wow. I also saw the Gerhard Richter stained glass window in it and holy crap that thing is big, and new, and wow. Here’s my flickr set with pics of all of that. I got yelled at when I walked into the cathedral because I didn’t take my hat off quick enough, meanwhile there were women all over the place with hats on that no one even looked twice at. More evidence of sexism I tell you!
Back at C4 I was shown the singing scanner. Oh. My. God. This is one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen. Well maybe not that cool, but really damn cool. Basically it uses the tons usually created by a scanner in the act of, um, scanning thing to play songs. Check out this video I shot of it for a better example of what I mean. I’m impressed. Even better is that this isn’t a hack, it’s actually something that was built into the firmware of this kind of scanner and just never publicized or something. I guess it needed a bit of programming to get it up and running but there you have it.
Later tonight I’m going out with some of the guys here to some kind of old factory thing to hear some local drum & bass. We’ll see how that goes. Tomorrow – Amsterdam.