Fribourg was liberated by Fribourg, Lausanne and Geneva Ingress resistance fighters

This weekend teams of Resistance Ingress agents from Fribourg, Lausanne and Geneva met in Fribourg to neutralise and capture all Enlightened portals. Some teams were on foot to liberate portals from the centre of the city. I was with the bike team and we took care of liberating all of the portals on the outskirts. It involved cycling up and down hills, a thunderstorm and being rained on.

I really enjoyed being part of the cycling team. It’s a fantastic way to get around and it’s a good way of seeing a big portion of unfamiliar cities with a minimum of effort. My team members were on electric bikes and I was on a mountain bike. This was great for me. I had to work hard to keep up with them. This was a good workout. There were moments where I generated up to an estimated 1300 watts of power for very short bursts and got the fifth best time on a segment.

I enjoyed this experience so much that I would love to do this again in other cities around here. Cycling gave me a workout and playing Ingress gave me time to recover. It seems that if you’re creating fields having a bike is ideal. You can get almost anywhere from anywhere within a city within minutes with a minimum of effort. By car this would be dangerous and impractical and on foot it would be slow and impractical.

France Télévision Coverage of the Tour De France

The Tour De France is a 3600 kilometre race over 3 weeks with one independent race each day. They start in an international city and then make their way to France within two or three days. The programmes are built around three specific shows. There is the pre-show Village programme followed by the first part of the race before the depart until well after it. The last segment is moved to France 2 for peak viewing and audience.

During the first of these programmes you learn about the city the tour de France is leaving. You get artist interviews, food preparation and other small animations. During the second programme, the first part of the race you see the cyclists and the landmarks and places worthy of note. You get landscape shots of the countryside, aerial shots of castles and learn about where they are cycling for future tourist visits should you be in one part of France or the other. You also get to see the cycling.

Today they’re cycling through the Pyrenées so you will see the cyclists face the challenge of climbs at the same time as working on making their endurance last long enough.

There are a lot of sports on television but very few of them have the intensity and landscape of cycling. Tennis is in a court, Football is in a stadium, golf is in a park. Only Cycling provides television audiences with a journey, a voyage. I love this voyage and love the “French Landscape programme” as I like to call it, for this very reason.

Visiting the Creux de Van and spending time with Bouquetins.

Images I saw of the Creux de Van made me want to visit the location in person. Yesterday despite the mediocre weather I went there. From Neuchatel you drive towards Noiraigue. Free parking is available.

For the first hour you are walking up a steep winding path. A few trees have fallen, stones and mud are also present until you reach the top of the cliff. From there you see a glimpse of the cliff and views to come. As I stood there I saw a solitary Bouquetin on the rocks.

From there I went right and walked along the cliff. On one side I had green grass and a farm and on the other side I had a steep cliff. I walked along and came to an outcrop. From here you could see the full cliff face. I walked around the arc until I came across a herd of Bouquetins. They were right in my path. I took several pictures before heading back down the other side. I came across a wooden hut and table where people can have a snack. As you walk through the woods you get towards the end of the Gorge De L’Areuse. It was full of water due to the recent rains. By this point I had already walked 10km so I continued back towards the car.

This is the path you take to get up to the top of the Creux de Van
This is the path you take to get up to the top of the Creux de Van
One of the first views as you emerge from the woods and see the landscape open up
One of the first views as you emerge from the woods and see the landscape open up
A nice Valley
A nice Valley
More landscape
More landscape
Looking away from the cliffs you see the woods.
Looking away from the cliffs you see the woods.
If you look down from this point you will see a long drop
If you look down from this point you will see a long drop
I liked the quality of light here.
I liked the quality of light here.
With Spring coming back all the trees are becoming green once again
With Spring coming back all the trees are becoming green once again

Another view of the valley

A herd of Bouquetins were playing
A herd of Bouquetins were playing
When I arrived they were standing by the grass and slowly made their way towards the cliff
When I arrived they were standing by the grass and slowly made their way towards the cliff
Just like when we were children they are playing on the wall
Just like when we were children they are playing on the wall
Just like when we were children they are playing on the wall
Just like when we were children they are playing on the wall

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A bouquetin with the Creux de Van in the background
A bouquetin with the Creux de Van in the background
A bouquetin with the Graux de Van in the background
A bouquetin with the Graux de Van in the background

Woods, Bouquetin and cliff

Nice Landscape and nice view
Nice Landscape and nice view
The Creux De Van
The Creux De Van

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This is a physical 14km walk .
This is a physical 14km walk .

Staring at phones in the rain once again…

Once again I was out in the rain walking around a city. Once again I was looking downwards and then up. I was also looking around and navigating through a city I have been to before but only for a meal and on my way to another place. I went there for a blogobar event many months ago. More recently I went through the city on my way to a Via Ferrata near La Chaux De Fond. This time was different. I was meeting people who stare at their mobile phones when walking around city. To many of you this describes what you think is wrong with society. Too many people withdrawing from society, not interacting. This isn’t the case.

These people who met from 10am on a saturday until 1145 before a group picture was taken are ingress players. Ingress as you know from previous posts is a muntiplayer augmented reality game that people play by walking around in the real world. They walk towards buildings, monuments, statues and other sights of interest. As a group, as I wrote about yesterday we had three missions as a group. I only did two of these with the group. One of them required a physical walk up to the castle of Neuchatel and back down the slope. As we walked we saw parts of the city which I had yet to see. The second walk was from the train station down towards the lake side.

This is relevant for two reasons. The first of these is that I am a hiker and in summer I spend my weekends in the mountains. The second is that I have walked around more cities than I can remember. The best way to get to know a city is by walking. You gain a sense of scale. You understand it’s geography and you also see what points of interest are where and how they are connected. Rome is a city which I visited many times alone. I love the city because I love the life style contrast between Geneva and Rome. I also love the city because of it’s history. Where else do you park a car in a basement next to some Roman walls. Where else do you have two Millenia of history so visible?

Ingress today offered me an opportunity to meet with strangers and do activities with them, to see parts of a new city and to have company. So often mobile phones are associated with solitude and isolation. Through this account you may understand that mobile phones and especially smartphones can be inclusive. The conversations that we had through social media have faded as the noise has gone up and this is where social augmented reality games can pick up. They can provide a new opportunity for people to connect.

Next month I plan on going to Firenze for another event. So far over 600 people have signed up. They will come from around Europe and around the world to meet in a beautiful city with a rich cultural history. This will be the backdrop for the game. I look forward to visiting the city once again and meeting new people precisely because of smartphones rather than despite of them.

Modern Life Is A Western

A few afternoons ago I tuned in to a Western on Television and I thought about how similar our modern lives have become to Westerns. Either we’re the ones travelling all the time meeting new people and then leaving them behind or we’re the ones staying in place while everyone around moves. The Western is out of favour but modern life makes Westerns more relevant than ever. Life is about perpetually meeting new people. doing new things and visiting new places.

Every  Monday and Friday I arrive or leave work and see people with suitcases. Either they are leaving to another city for the weekend or coming back. Lives in a place like Geneva is a migratory one. On radio they announced that over 15 million passengers transited through that airport. There are far fewer people living in Geneva. Geneva has 184,500 people according to a google search several seconds ago. That’s 81 flights per capita. That’s not bad. That’s a trip back and forth twice a week for fourty weeks out of fifty one.

After this you have the jobs that people do. Humanitarian work, journalism, business etc. Every one of these activities keeps people travelling. If we are of the right age we are called The “Easyjet generation”. Can’t drive a car but can afford to fly every single weekend, see every european capital and have friends in every country. When I graduated we were 100 students from 120 countries… That’s not bad. This explains why when people ask where we’re from we mention a country rather than a city. ;-).

Imagine going back to village life, imagine going back to living within 30 kilometres of where we were born and never travelling beyond-

We are not just the easyjet generation. We are also the social media generation because phone costs and SMS are less affordable than facebook, twitter, instagram and google plus. Imagine how often a group of friends would meet up and converse without modern social networks. Imagine if the social networks had remained as a place for friends to converse with friends. If that was the case I would travel more because I would be sleeping on a couch at friends’ places in various countries.

Lebara Spain

If you visit spain and get a lebara spain sim you need to set up two access point names. One is for internet access and the other is for MMS. I only point this out because dozens of sites tell you what the configuration requirements are but non indicate that you are setting up two access points.

APN 1:
Name: lebara internet
APN: gprsmov.lebaramobile.es
username: wap
apn type: default, supl

APN 2:
name: lebara MMS
APN: mms.lebaramobile.es
mms proxy: 212.73.32.10
MMS port: 80
MMSC
http://mms.lebaramobile.es/servlets/mms

Pico Iyer: The art of stillness

We need to take time to think. We need to avoid external stimuli and spend time with our thoughts. We desire to move and to achieve which drives the economy forward at the cost of forgetting to give ourselves times. The talk explores time and space. It also explores the popular concept of going offline to recharge.

In my experience moving from one social network to another has the same impact as taking a social media break but this after 20 years of trial and error.

Village Photography

On Google Plus, one of my muses, I saw that instead of Street photography someone suggested Village photography. I like the idea because villages are such an integral part of my life.

Life in villages is a privileged one. Every time we go for a walk we cross people we do not know and say hello. We walk from field to field and along paths. We see which crops have been planted and which ones are being harvested. We see frequent horses and dog walkers. We also see families. We hear the sound of rifle practices at the local gun range. The practice is for military service most of the time.

We also have fountains and old buildings. We hear the church bell every half hour and hour. We see the fountains with wooden chalet to protect from the cold in winter.

Villages are seasonal. In summer the sounds of children playing, of fireworks and of barbecues can be heard. In Autumn the sound of wind blowers can be heard. In Winter we see lights on as the neighbours prepare their evening meal.

In the mornings we see parents bring their children to school before the bell rings and they head in to their classes to sit and wait impatiently for the school day to be over so that they may go out on adventures.

That’s why village photography captivates my imagination. I know villages well. I appreciate them. I look forward to looking at images from the past, and preserving today for future generations.

First World War Via Ferrata and the tunnels dug by soldiers.

For two years I have been doing research to find as much information as possible on the topic of via ferrata. Visiting the via ferratas which date back to the 1914-18 war would be interesting. In this short video recording we see some of the tunnels dug in to the mountain as well as where soldiers would have slept.

Via ferrata is not just a sport to see nice landscapes. Historic exploration is also possible.