• Backpack takes a big step forward

    Since its last update in October 2006, my interest in Backpack, 37signals' small organization product, shrunk massively. Other Web 2.0 applications like Vitalist seemed to be much better suited to practice Getting Things Done.

    With their latest update, 37signals made some very necessary additions and improvements that are very likely to make me spend money again for a paid account. This time, not for doing GTD, but to support the work on some small projects that I can provide with to-do lists and shared documents via Backpack. Especially the new dra&drop features, page dividers and RSS feeds are brilliant if you're working together on a Backpack page in a group.

    Web Worker Daily has a nice review, and on Selbstadministration, I write about the details in German.

  • Back from the mountains

    Last week, I had taken a vacation to take a bit of a walk through the Austrian Alps. Hans, Carolin's father, is an enthusiastic mountaineer who does a lot of hiking and he's been inviting us to go on a mountain tour for quite some time.

    I gladly took his advice with choosing comfortable but durable shoes. I had my doubts if the pair we'd chosen weren't over the top with their rigid soles and their weight, but they proved just right. And boy, was I glad to have taken also some outdoor shirts and trousers that don't retain sweat.

    Last Monday morning, Carolin and I took the train to Oberstdorf, where her parents met us in the afternoon and took us over the Austrian border to Mittelberg in the Small Walser Valley" ("Kleinwalsertal). They had already been there for some lighter hiking with another couple and their little daughter over the weekend.

    After having breakfast together on the next morning, we drove to Baad (1244 m), where we left the car behind and began hiking via Bärgundtal" upwards to the "Big Ram Rock" ("Großer Widderstein). We spent the evening and night at the lodge that's located at the foot of the mountain peak (2010 m).

    Sleeping in one room with about 20 other people (of which not everyone seemed to be a hygiene freak) back to back on flimsy rubber foam matresses is one of the more doubtful experiences you can make in the mountains and I woke up with a sore throat.

    We started climbing up to the peak and reached the summit cross (2536 m) at about noon. After having to walk and climb over masses of loose rubble, I was really thankful that Hans had persuaded me to buy the more rugged shoes. There were almost no clouds, with only the wind giving some cooling -- fortunate for my white geek skin, Carolin had brought some factor 30 sun lotion. After a break, we began the descent back to the lodge where I made the mistake of only drinking a pint of shandy.

    On our way to the next lodge called "Mindelheimer Hütte" (2058 m), I started feeling exhausted and at some point, my blood pressure fell like a stone although we just had had a break. After resting a little more, we proceeded more slowly and I was as glad as I was tired out when we finally reached the lodge. I guess I got dehydrated and maybe, I should have also eaten more to regain enough energy after the roundtrip to the summit. I guess that's a typical mistake of unexperienced hikers.

    The Mindelheimer Hütte is a much bigger and much more inviting lodge than the one at the Widderstein. We got ourselves a nice 12-person room with real beds. We shared it with really nice people, one of them a 70 years old mountaineer that takes part in a challenge of climbing 15 certain summits between May and October. I'm about half the age and break down hiking from one lodge to another at the same height...

    Unfortunately, the weather forecast predicted thunderstorms for the next days. There was a chance of reaching our final destination lodge more or less dry, but the final descent back to the car inevitably would have been in the rain. So we finally decided to descend a day early and come home on Thursday instead of Friday.

    As much fun as the hiking was, this proved to be the right decision, given the fact that I started feeling really sick right when I got home on Thursday evening. My throat was sore and swollen and I had a touch of fever. This persisted throughout Friday; I guess that after more than two decades, I had tonsillitis again. After a weekend of painful swallowing of medication, my throat is still a bit sore but it'll be all right soon.

    The mountain tour, though, was really great and I like the thought of repeating it later this year or at least next year.

  • Sysadmin Appreciation Day

    Today is Sysadmin Appreciation Day, the day where you're especially invited to tell your IT crowd where they're doing a good job. I'm embarassed that I forgot it myself, so I'm not in the position to criticize all the colleagues at my workplace that forgot it, too. Of course, I made an entry in my calendar, and dear customer department (you know who you are), you better do, too. Also, if you need some inspiration on how to show your appreciation of our hard work, find some useful hints here.

    For the german users that have a catholic education: Find the melody to sing the headline of the article on Heise Online in "Gotteslob", no. 258.

  • It's a magical weekend

    Yesterday, Carolin and I went to see "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix". I love the "Harmonie" theater in Freiburg for showing so many movies in English. It was amazing to me how actors, music and scene created such a dark atmosphere throughout the movie. You could really feel all is not well, neither in the land of wizards and witches nor in Harry's life. When's the next one coming out?

    And this morning, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows", arrived with the mail as promised by Amazon.

    But if I started to read now, there would certainly be no time for anything else over this weekend, so I'm trying to calm my desire a little bit longer. Must... first... get... other things... done...

  • Our security measures won't affect innocents

    Except James Hetfield&objectid=10450450, who had to undergo questioning at a British Airport before his appearance at London's Live Earth gig on Saturday.

    The Times claims Hetfield's friends blame his "Taleban-like beard" for the interrogation.

    So, make that sentence above "Our security measures won't affect innocents -- except if their facial hair looks suspicious in any way."