Tour D’Aï Via Ferrata

Nice View of the Alps from the Tour D’Aï

Tour D’Aï via ferrata is a nice option if you are looking for a view of the Alps and of the Lac Léman region. You can take the telecabine from Leysin to the top and from here walk one hour and get to the base of the Via Ferrata de La Tour D’Aï. This is a challenging via ferrata if you are not accustomed to heights. What makes the views so enjoyable is also what makes the via ferrata itself so daunting.

Best feature

The best aspect of the Tour D’Aï via ferrata is the chimney where you go up at the entrance to a crack. There are hand holds on two rock faces and you can use just one side like I did yesterday or use both sides like I did on past climbs. It depends on your fitness level, comfort and size.

This via ferrata does have one or two overhangs which need to be negotiated. As the clipping and unclipping of carabiners occurs both before and after the overhanging bits they are easy to negotiate.

Once you are at the top of the mountain you can look at the views and have a snack before walking down.

Walking Down.

The first part of the walk down requires sure footedness as the path is narrow. You can hold on to a cable for some of the more exposed portions and then walk down one ladder and later scramble down some rocks. After that you follow the road and foot path down the mountain. When you arrive to the foot of the village you have the option of continuing down or turning left and walking up to Plan Praz. Be advised that Plan Praz is a physical VF where arm and hand strength are necessary.

TomTom Go and the diminishing cost of live traffic data when driving

Today with Tomtom Go you pay 20CHF per year for the maps and traffic information. When I first bought the TomTom Europe apps for iOS and Android they cost about 170CHF an operating system. If my memory serves me well traffic information would cost an additional 100 CHF per year.

As a result of the high cost for traffic information I was in the habit of using Waze. As long as you have a data connection you get maps and traffic information for free. It would save you 270 CHF initially.

When you live in the french speaking part of Switzerland you are just minutes from France and within hours you can be in Germany, Austria and Italy. As a result having maps pre-loaded in to your navigation is useful. That’s where Tomtom at 20CHF per year becomes interesting. The maps available are for individual countries, for Western, Europe, Eastern Europe, the whole of Europe, The Caribbean, North America and South America. Each of these maps can be downloaded ahead of a trip and used.

This means that once you’ve paid your 20 CHF you have maps for the world, not just for your daily commute.

I am so convinced by Tomtom’s new philosophy that I have uninstalled Waze and will now use Tomtom primarily and Google maps as a backup.

Amersports and Sports tracker

Today Amer Sports announced that it has bought Sports tracker. Sports Tracker is an application that I have been using since I had the Nokia N95 8GB. I used it on symbian, iOS and Android devices over the years. What I love about this app is the way it displays information about the work out. It gives you several screens while you are exercising with the option to select which information you want to see most.

Once you arrive home and synchronise the workout with the web interface you can see the information displayed above. You can choose whether there is a topographic map, a normal map or satellite imagery. It is simple and intuitive to read.

Suunto make devices that I like using. I have used the Suunto D9 diving computer, the Suunto D4i diving computer, the Suunto Ambit 2 and the Suunto Ambit3. Suunto dive computers are small diving computers that you can wear in day to day life. When you are passionate about diving this is nice.

The Suunto Ambit family are more interesting for people who do land based sports. I used the Suunto Ambit 2 and 3 when doing via ferrata, hiking, cycling and other sports. The advantage of these fitness watches is that they have long battery life. This means that you can be active for two or three days before worrying about the battery dying. In this respect they are far better than mobile phones for fitness activity tracking.

Suunto products and Sports tracker do not communicate natively. Suunto products synchronise with movescount. From movescount you need to export the GPX workout files and import them to Sports tracker. I would like to see Suunto devices communicate directly with Sports tracker. In my eyes the best option would have been for Sports tracker to buy movescount and for them to take over the web interface for Suunto. They both provide interesting web interfaces and combining the two would have been mutually beneficial.

Time will show whether Amer Sports with links to sports tracker, precor and Suunto will come out with an interesting amalgamation of the three products/services. I look forward to finding out.


Video piracy in the 21st century

A few days ago I was watching a Magnum PI episode where Higgins had a film camera pointed at the television screen to record a game of snooker broadcast from “half way around the world” by satellite.  Today I noticed this article speaking of the way in which twitter’s Periscope app and Meerkat were used to pirate a fight.

Piracy is nothing new but the simplicity with which people can pirate and share content has evolved. Piracy required rolls of films at first. These rolls had to be developed and then copies had to be made. This could take several days. VHS came along and made it easier. With several VHS decks you could make several copies at once. Steve Jobs is well known for the boot leg tapes he had of music concerts. My generation streamed live music concerts using mobile phones. Football enthusiasts used satellite receivers and streaming software to re-distribute live football matches years ago. This is true both for european Football and American football.

The live streaming of broadcast content is now so simple that multiple people, using social media, redistribute content as it happens. There is no lag time. There is no exclusivity possible. PeriscopeTV and Meerkat have made it very simple to share live events circumventing the gate keepers.

Gate keepers provide the highest audio and video quality possible for their customers and for this reason they are safe for now. The pirated copy has low video and audio quality and is filmed by a mobile phone camera. Social networks such as Twitter and sporting organisations will need to strengthen their collaboration. Both of them can and will benefit from joining forces. If PeriscopeTV and Meerkat both get paid by the Fight promoters to carry the signal as premium content then the pirate streams will be of less interest. Price will have to reflect the platform on which content is being shared of course.

Social media, breaking news and information overload.

Social media is really fast because there are so many participants. It’s also fast because one person telling a few others is simplified. The social media are a crowd and when one person says something then others repeat what they have just heard to find out what has happened.

Within a few minutes the crowd knows what is going on. The difference is that whereas the crowd standing at a street corner five years ago would have spread it would have spread at the speed of the telephone and the rate at which people can move around.

Now what I think is interesting is to look at the theme of globalisation and social media, how both the local crowd and the international crowd are using the same tools. If something big happens in one country and there’s enough interest then it gets international interest.

The fact that people post pictures on flickr, videos on youtube and tweet as soon as they know something means that information is easily distributed without the accuracy being checked. In other words you’ll have hundreds of images of an event but will there be any captions or analysis?

The role of the audience will change with social media, and it’s been discussed frequently If everyone has a voice and everyone distributes their content of an event then the reporter is no longer processing they’re receiving. It’s the blog reader, the twitter watcher and the picture viewer.

Having access to all this information is great because we can get a good feeling for the ambiance on the ground at the location where certain events take place but one question remains. Who has the time to look through every blog post, see every tweet and look at every image?

You’re the same people that don’t have time to chat on twitter, or seesmic or work through the whole of your rss reader. You’re immersed in it. How is the everyday public going to react when 20 minutes a day on facebook is too much for them?

Disclaimer: This post was written in 2008.

is twitter changing your blogging habits? – A 2008 response

Yes and no. Twitter is replacing instant messaging and chatrooms. It’s an open method by which for people to communicate instantly with others. It’s also about the overheard conversation although that term has disappeared.

What does “overheard” mean? Well simply that whenever two people discuss a topic hundreds of people are following this conversation and when they decide they have an opinion they can cut in. They do have that 140 character limit though, so they need to get to the point is efficiently as possible.

When that isn’t possible then they can do the next best thing. Write a comment in a blog post or even write a blog entry of their own where the conversation that took place on twitter is synthesised into a more digestible chunk of information.

As a result twitter is changing people’s blogging habits but the question is why people want to chat publicly rather than in an enclosed space. Today people like transparency.

Disclaimer: This is a post from the 28th of Octobre 2008. An unpublished post

Ingress Operation Apache, Covering Geneva in Blue.

Operation Apache

Operation Apache

Ingress is a selfless game when you play as a team. The driver gets no AP. Other operators get a few AP for breaking portals. Three individuals gets hundreds of thousands of Mind Units (MU). Rather than feel a sense of achievement I feel fatigue.

The first reason is to do with the hangouts. You have to be serious. When I work in a team I want to be able to joke around. The most fun you have is with people who know what they’re doing and despite the stress have fun doing it. When you do something for free this is even more important.

The second is driving a hundred kilometres. I don’t like driving without something to do at the destination. I also prefer to be active during daylight hours rather than once the sun sets. I am not a vampire.

The three day rains don’t help either. Three days of rain, seeing the Arve saturated and very high. The Pont Rolex is a metre from being flooded.

Friday I drove three hundred and seventy kilometres for another operation. I drove an hour to the location and an hour back from the location. On this previous up the engine had run for six and a half hours.

I drove up one slope and fire crews were present. They allowed me to go on and I drove up beside the stream running down. The water wasn’t too deep but there were a lot of stones and mud. I felt the car loose traction so tried to keep my speed up. I saw where a storm drain intended to take water in was overflowing like a spring.

In total I drove 470km on half a tank of diesel so fuel wise it was probably still cheaper than driving to meet people in Geneva. I think I’ll take a break from communal activities and play solo. I’ll stick to Via Ferrata and hiking as team activities. I will feel good about the op in a few days, when the sun starts to shine again.

Social conversations and the social media

If you read “How to Win Friends and Influence People” you see how important it is to take notice of other people, to be positive and to be interested in what they are doing. That can be a challenge for everyone. We all have different priorities so putting other people first is a challenge.

The World Wide Web is a place where we can listen and talk at the same time. We listen to a conversation and then we comment. We can start our own conversation and wait for others to see it and respond. As a result we are both engaging with others and letting others engage with us. There is a bilateral trade which leaves both parties feeling good.

Social media, today a misnomer, was a conversation place. Everyone talked with everyone and everyone became familiar with everyone else. The Global Village that Marshall McLuhan wrote about looked like it would become a reality.

At the time when this reality looked the most feasible was the time before mobile phones and proper data plans. At this time we used computers from a fixed location, either at home, an office, university or other places. With Wifi we had some freedom but nowhere the freedom that smart phones and data plans have provided us with.

That’s why people’s feeling that mobile phones are disconnecting people is such a ridiculous notion. In my vision of the world, in the adoption cycle that I observe the mobile phone is the great connector. We meet people online, we appreciate them, we meet them in person. Seesmic and the early days of twitter were very good tools for this lifestyle.

As data plans included more and more data so it would follow that social media websites would be about individual to individual conversation. It would logically follow that people would feel more at ease conversing online as their friends adopt the technology and have chats. Facebook, twitter and Google Plus should be social web forums where people are interested in the people they follow.

What I see, as data plans and smartphone adoption rises is the opposite. People share links and promote rather than converse. Social media should be rebranded as Ego Media, brand media or advertising media. The platforms that should have made us conversational have been overtaken by advertising.

It’s a good time to continue blogging. It’s a monologue until you contribute a comment. The World Wide Web is a de-centralised conversation tool and we move from platform to platform looking for the places where the personal connections are strongest. As the social media days fade in to history now is the time for each of us to blog, to write about what we feel passionate about.