Images from the Via Ferrata de Lavanchy

Despite the warning that rain would fall after 1700 today we went up to explore the Via Ferrata De Lavanchy. it is a via ferrata that requires a 45 minute walk up hill. You walk up towards a cirque and then turn left and continue upwards through some trees. When you get close to the base of the cliff walk straight up to get to the base of the via ferrata. The via ferrata is simple and short.

The Via Ferrata season is back, time to enjoy those mountain landscapes again.

The landscape visible from the Plan Praz Via Ferrata.
The landscape visible from the Plan Praz Via Ferrata.

Finally winter is over, the snow is melting away, flowers are coming up and the via ferrata season is starting once again. I will be in the mountains every second weekend from now on to explore via ferratas and hike.

The next via ferrata I will explore is the Via Ferrata Lavanchy. From what I read this is an easy and short Via Ferrata (VF). We will see if it would be a good place for beginners to try this enjoyable sport.

The Crosscall Odyssey Plus


The Crosscall Odyssey Plus fills two niches. It is a rugged weather proof phone rated to the IP 68 standard and is equipped with dual sim capability. This makes it ideal for the sports I enjoy, mainly via ferrata as pictured below and hiking. It comes with a smaller carabiner than the one pictured below. I swapped it for one of my own.


IP 68 is a code to determine how resistant a device is to both particulate matter and liquids. 6 denotes that the device is dust tight so particulate matter will not make it’s way in. 8 as defined by the manufacturer denotes that this device can be submerged for half an hour at 1m before damage occurs. If you get caught in the rain or have to cross a river the phone should survive.

Another interesting feature is the dual sim capability. This phone allows for two microsims to be used at once. In my case I have a Swiss sim card and a french one. Both sims are constantly active so you can select whether to make phone calls from Sim 1 or Sim 2. You can also select which sim card is using the data plan.

It runs android 4.3 and works fine with the TomTom app, the ingress and others. I found that battery life is also comfortable. With me as a user the battery lasts for a day.

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The Apple Watch does not fill a niche

The Apple Watch rather than fill a niche provides a fifth screen. According to Wikipedia the four first screens are the cinema screen, the television screen and the mobile phone and tablet screen. The fifth screen is the smart watch as designed by Apple, Samsung, Sony and others. Apple and others have designed phones that bring the mobile phone experience to the wrist.

Energy efficient

Suunto, Garmin, Fitbit and other brands fill the wrist worn niche effectively because they have designed devices with energy efficient displays that provide tracking whilst at the same time giving extended battery life.

Extended battery life in use

Health trackers by fitbit and other companies have been designed to last for a week or more whilst tracking movement 24 hours a day. Suunto, Garmin and other brands have designed watches that can track activities for hours or even days before they need charging.

Long stand by time

When not in use all of the devices mentioned above can last for weeks. In the case of the Suunto Ambit two I have found that it loses one percentage of charge per day. As a result of this it can be used as a watch for three months before I need to think of charging.

Data analysis

All of these tools are for collecting data about the route you took, the intensity of the exercise tracked, heart rate and complementary information. When synced on the computer or website a lot of information is presented. Garmin syncs with Runkeeper, Strava, Garmin connect and other services, Suunto syncs with Movescount and Strava intuitively. Fitbit syncs with the fitbit site and other fitness apps. The most interesting data is analysed on a computer rather than the wrist unit. This leaves the device to track information cost effectively, where cost is battery life, and effective is defined by how long you can track an activity.


My passion for “smart watches” stems from scuba diving. I bought a Suunto D9 to track dives and loved taking dive data and analysing it in view of improving my diving ability. I tracked training at the gym, hiking and other activities with various phones and their weakness was battery life. When you go for a hike in the mountains, go for a via ferrata or do a number of other sporting activities for extended periods of time you want a device that can last as long as you do.

Suunto’s Ambit 2 filled that need very well, so well that I upgraded to the Suunto Ambit 3. As an android user I can’t  take advantage of all the features yet but that will come soon, this month in fact.

The Apple Watch does not fill any of the requirements I have listed above and for this reason I am not tempted. I see it as a fifth screen that does not fill a niche. Fitness trackers, fitness watches and other devices cost the same price or less and fill niche requirements effectively. Why would I want a gimmick?

Pride and media consumption

I enjoyed reading the Unbearable Lightness of Being so much that I read every book by Milan Kundera. I also read every book by Albert Camus because I enjoyed reading La Peste so much. Laura M. Holson wrote an article about “Unplugging without FOMO” which I skimmed after someone on twitter commented on twitter that Screen Shot 2015-03-29 at 18.45.06

and I strongly disagree with this person’s view. It brings us to the conversation about high and low culture. I take the view that media consumption should be focused on high culture. For my dissertation I watched hundreds of documentaries. I watched every David Attenborough documentary, every Jacques Yves Cousteau documentary. I read many books and articles on the topic of the documentary genre and as a result I take pride in the knowledge that I have acquired in the process.

When I skimmed through the article I saw that the discussions were about low culture, about tabloid topics. They speak about things that I would never discuss as they are of no importance or interest. These are things that have no effect on my quality of life.

At the same time I do feel the usual regret. Mid to late adopters came to social media, made it tabloid and then complain about the stream which they and their friends generated. In my childhood I read encyclopedia articles during breakfast, as a teen I spent hours in computer rooms learning about webmastering and search engine optimisation before others were interested. I was experimenting with video compression tools in the late 1990s and gained a deep understanding of the tools that would lead from new media to social media. The conversations were about culture and people took a constructive attitude.

From 2009 onwards I saw the shift away from personal conversations between friends to the hunt for followers and the loss of the personal connection and I blogged about it. As I went back to read the article about unplugging so I see a reaction to what I have been saying for years now. Articles are being written for people with no staying power. Social networks are becoming broadcast rather than exchange and the superficiality of the web is driving people away.

I am happy that social media and microblogging are beyond their sell by date because it means that I can give time up to blogging once again. I can once again discuss topics that interest me in long form. It means that we will spend more time reading, more time learning once again. That is the beauty of the shift away from social media.

In reality I have nothing to gain from participating in the Meme media. Même media, the Same media. The media where people use hashtags to be certain that they are in the flock, the flock of hashtag users rather than conversationalists.

If I can’t converse I will have a monologue and people who are like minded will find me and we shall converse away from the madding crowd. Someday I will read that book. I love to read and I love to write. Today I am doing both as it’s raining outside.

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Headline rating app to encourage useful headline writing.

In future I would like an application or social network that allows me to rate headlines according to whether they are sensationalist, informative, emotional informative or other. The aim of this network or app would be to discourage article writers from re-using the same phrases over and over. It would encourage writers rather than marketers to provide headlines that article readers want to follow.

I often see articles that I would find interesting but because of the way the headline is written I avoid it. I don’t want to give marketers a victory for condescending to their audience. I also worry about the article’s informative value. Will the article provide me with some new information or is it so general that I already know this.

Articles need to provide me with a return on investment. I want to be informed, educated and entertained.

Social media, loneliness and isolation.

“The pathology of social media is all about loneliness”

Social media professionals take the weekend off. Twitter users use hashtags so that their content can be found without being followed. Everything is turned towards discoverability rather than commitment and conversation.

Social media practitioners know that people aren’t listening attentively so they repeat and repeat in the hope of a click or two. Hashtags are just a way of pretending that a conversation has had an audience. It doesn’t measure the number of comments and responses. It doesn’t measure how long threads lasted before they stopped.

There was a time when people like me would read every tweet from people we followed and we would converse daily. It created a lot of friendships and led to a lot of face to face meetings.

In today’s social media landscape I do see loneliness rather than socialising. I see on twitter that people are actively posting only once or twice a day. On Facebook I have seen such a serious decline in participation that there is little reason to stick around. My generation were active in social media for a short amount of time and now they have retreated to “normal” life.

Whilst some people have hundreds of likes on their instagram images I have half a dozen to a dozen. Almost every like on Instagram is a person that I have conversed with online for years. There is a chance that I can tell you how long we’ve been chatting online, whether we’ve met in person and at what event and which networks we have shared. Twitter friends were trusted enough to become facebook friends. Facebook and twitter friends followed on instagram etc.

Facebook was a very active and social place when we were all at university and having the same social life. Twitter was a very social network when I was looking for work and meeting the London Social Media crowd, the French social media crowd and the Swiss social media individuals.

Ingress has presented me with a large group of Swiss people whom I have met many times recently as an active player of Ingress. Many of them are around my age.  We use Google hangouts to talk and plan missions and are in constant communication.

Glocals was good for finding people to explore new activities and locations with but the connection lasted only as long as the activities. There was little to no follow up socialising online. The Glocals Scuba diving group is the one I got along with best and the group with which I did the most activities. It’s a shame that this was an activity for people a decade older than me.

When I think of the social journey both online and offline I see that loneliness is not the pathology of social media. I joined Twitter because I love to try new things. Facebook was a network of university friends whom I saw every day. Seesmic was a network of people whom I developed strong friendships with that last to this day and Glocals was probably the only network I joined out of solitude and a need to do things on weekends. I like the irony that the network I joined to avoid solitude is the one that resulted in the deepest feeling of it. Eventually every social network becomes lonely but we would say the same about the city from which our friends have gone, of the bars and more.

Geneva is referred to as an airport hub. People come to the city for a year or two and then leave. As a result the refreshing of friendships is very high and it takes a certain personality to cope. Modern transportation; planes, cars, and trains create a pathology of loneliness and social media are part of the solution for as long as the social networks are frequented.