Monday, June 30, 2008

Blurbian quality

Although I have printed a couple of books with Blurb earlier, this was the first time I tried something much larger (than A4), high page volume (192 pages) and far more text and pictures than ever before. It cost me of course about 160 dollars but this is nothing if you come to think of the size and the final quality of the goodies! I was flabbergasted! Quality of the end-product is simply superb! Nothing to be jealous of in any commercial picture books of comparable size. I hate to admit, but way better quality that the equivalent photo albums printed by Apple Inc.

I believe I'll end up as a regular among their customer list! I'm so excited!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Benny Lava

No wonder India has a growing population above a billion people... watch this clip to see why, if you are older than 17, that is. These folks are (really, really) way oversexed!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Wannegem-Lede kindergarden

Wannegem-Lede is a wee tiny village in East Flanders, Belgium, not far from the legendary Medieval city of Oudenaarde. One can easily search it in Google-maps and find its exact location. There's nothing really too special about W-L except for its unique kindergarden at the northern side of the village. Housed in a small and rather old and dull building with two medium rooms separated by a hallway and displaying a concrete playground at the side, the kindergarden cares for toddlers from two and a half up to six year olds, 18 in total this last school year. I know all about the school and its challenges ever since Rita (my spouse) started working there in 2004 as a part-time admin assistant. In the early years of her work I helped them with their previous century old PC (running Windows 3.11, I think, true story) until a young Principal with reasonable skills of PC hard- and software arrived, and brought their systems to contemporary quality levels, with ADSL connections and all. The school is nowadays managed and run by that same Principal, Bavo, and a young charming lady teacher, Jorka, administratively assisted by my equally charming(*) spouse.

Young working parents are always concerned about how their offsprings spend their time in a kindergarden and headmaster Bavo enjoys capturing many moments with his digital camera during the kids' numerous activities and he then sets up picture albums at a modest kindergarden homepage. Take a surf there and click the button below 'Welkom' for access to the albums. The cutest I found those collected under 'verjaardagen' (birthdays). I know I'd feel extremely safe and happy about how my kids were cared for in a place like this by looking at those marvelous shots. No wonder the school has grown to an overnight success in the last couple of years alone whereas, the first years when Rita joined, the poor sods had to use all tricks of the trade to justify the school's existence to the Ministry of Education as they only got less than 5 kids then to care for. The number today is more than triple that figure as many new parents found out about the warmth, creativity and motivation of the young teacher squad and then started qeueuing up to get their toddlers registered for attendance.

A couple of years ago the school even made it to one of the national papers with a classroom photograph of the kids accompanied by their two teachers. As I am watching this activity grow and success building up I can't help thinking that good old principles of successful management apply to almost anything, even to a small kindergarden in the God forgotten place of Wannegem-Lede. It's all about giving to customers (parents and children) what they expect and want, in this case safety, care, education, parental love, and telling them (marcomms) about it via a simple web-page.

The picture above, showing the kids walking towards a Dutch style windmill is shot just outside the school. Look at the satellite capture above to see the location of both, the school and the mill to get an idea of the area and the environment in which those kids are being raised. Something entirely different than what inner city folks are used to bring their toddlers to.

Well done folks! Way to go!

(*) I'd be in trouble if I omitted those attributes...

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Soccer or football?

Soccer is like Macedonia. Americans call it soccer (and not football like the rest of us) because what they call football is what we call American football. The Greeks call Macedonia the FYROM (Former Yugoslavian Republic Of Macedonia) where the rest of the world calls it what its citizens decided to call it when they founded it after the split of Yugoslavia in its parts, in the 90ies: Macedonia! Ok, enough with these stupid analogies... only did them to set the stage for my 'well thought' analysis (LMAO).

What do I know about football? Not much, I guess. Mostly I watch the games during the Euro Cups (like in the last few days) and during World Cups. This is going on since the 60ies. I first watched international football on a monochrome TV during the 1970 World Cup in Mexico (I was 17 then); wasn't too much fun since there were no more than 4-5 TV sets in our little hometown and one of them belonged to my neighbor... soon the whole neighborhood and folks from other places assembled around his house to watch the game. The day before the final Brazil to Italy (4-1) we fixed a brand new antenna mast of about 20 m (60 feet) on the flat roof of our house risking our lives as that darn thing almost touched the high voltage cables of the electricity company hanging along the street. That stupid we were! Anyways, we managed to get some picture and sound from time to time whereas mostly it was snow all over the place (later I learned that the snow was indeed more interesting as it was a witness of background radiation dating from the Bing-Bang 15 billion years ago...)

My other football experiences dated from even earlier though, when I accompanied my dad to watch our local team, Εθνικός (The National) play against teams from other towns in the amateur league, and consistently lose the game. It wasn't that experience that would teach me any special intricacies of the game though, other than beating the referee at the end and chase him all over town because he 'sold' us and helped the opponents win the game...

Anyways, years passed by and as I occasionally watched football during the high profiled competitions and on much better TV signals, ending to this year's HDTV broadcasting with Dolby sound and all, I always wondered what it was that made a team win a game. Was it the coach? Was it the top class players (a.k.a. Prima-Donnas)? Was it the money earned? The new player contracts following successful performances? Was it Nationalistic pride? Was it the broads players would end-up shagging after successful plays? Was is technology? Was it plain and simple luck?

I often concluded it were all of the above. But then again, I didn't know which was the most important... I am really not sure any more. In football it's no good to be technically superior to your opponent and dominate the game for most of the time if your opponent keeps scoring the goals in some scarce moments of excellence. Motivation to win helps a lot, fine! Technique and knowledge of your opponent does too (Sun Tzu - Art of War; Guus Hiddink proved the latter in the game Russia to Holland). But above all, I believe, it's efficiency. The Mannshaft proved it again yesterday; the Turks were by far superior most of the time, and lucky, and mega-motivated, and all you want, mostly driven by shitloads of nationalistic pride (also, maybe some money and shagging... they learned this from the neighboring Greek squad four years ago). But, at the end, it was the German efficiency and talent to score 3 goals and win. And Angela M. cheered three glorious times, just like one of the guys!

It's like in business: Efficiency, efficiency, efficiency! Doing the things right...


PS. Effectiveness, they say, is about doing the right things... Thus, football is not about effectiveness because this is too trivial in this game... everybody knows the right things in football, even apes. It's about scoring goals. But doing that efficiently and winning the game is another question... so far for my free management course.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Robert Mugabe, Der Keiser!

What has the world we live in come to? I mean, we sort of believed for long that the age of dictatorships and totalitarian regimes like the ones of Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini, Mao, Franco, Pinochet, even Saddam are over... we kinda thought. Still it's happening as we speak. Robert Mugabe, a murderous bastard, corrupt as hell, at 84 when most others at his age are either dead or on their way to their graves, gets defeated on one 'free' election that he stupidly thought he could win, he then declares the result invalid, sets up for a new election where he is the sole candidate while the opposition leaders run for their lives to foreign embassies. I don't get it. What's so wrong with Africa that today and probably in the next hundred years corruption and immorality will be the rule? How can the west 'help' them get it right? It's happening almost everywhere in this continent. The darkest statistics of the human race score the highest here... human rights, corruption, abuse, terrorism, murdering, raping and torture of innocent women and children, aids, illiteracy, misery, hunger... too much to mention. An ideal cradle for the likes of Idi Amin, Mobutu (RIP) and senile sobs like Bobby Mugabe, da man! Shame on us in the west who keep on closing our eyes, ears and mouths (like the wise monkeys) and pretend all is normal and well. And keep pumping in the bastards' swiss accounts pockets billions of our taxpayer money.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Russian Fan

I often enjoy looking at Reuters best pictures of the week as a pastime and since Euro 2008, a similar gallery of football shots as well.

The day the legendary Dutch squad was taken to the cleaners by a young and courageous Russian team, managed by another Dutchman, the stadium was painted orange by the Dutch supporters' T-Shirts. Incidentally, a Russian fan was well placed among a bunch of them to brake the pattern with his waving flag (which ironically carries the same colors as the Dutch). Talking about capturing the moment. That's what photography is all about.


It all started with Lulu, being an Internet initiative for publishing books for simple authors, people like you and I, who probably aspire to have professionally printed 'books' of their own. For a few years now I have been printing picture portfolios of my shots via Apple's book printing service. Although quite expensive, it seemed to me that it had a lot better book designs than anything I saw before.

This was until I found out about Blurb via Flickr. It's worth having a look at their business model. In a few words, you can publish a professionally designed and printed book of your own with combinations of text and pictures to your heart's desire. Not only that, but if you reckoned that your book might become a bestseller if it could sell, you can declare it public on Blurb Bookstore and Blurb will take care of making this known to the world. So, if I found your book in their Store and have a look at it (via a clever preview facility they offer) and I'd like to buy it, then I could just order it directly, without you even knowing it. Apparently Lulu goes even further... making it saleable via Amazon and others like them. By all means, if you decided to make an extra buck each time your books sell, then you'll see the selling activity having a positive effect on your bank account. Dan Brown beware!

The day-dreaming aside, I believe that the real deal is not just about selling anyone's books though... the deal is that those Blurb folks (or Lulu's for that matter) seem to me to be very smart cookies for having created a complete monetizing model and running it very efficiently (much faster turnaround than Apple ever been). If you thought about it for a sec, they actually address a rather scarce need of a small percentage of consumers worldwide who, considered within a relatively small geography wouldn't be enough to sustain a financially viable business model; but, taken globally via the net (and being capable to logistically service the entire planet), Blurb will manage to get a winner. Their model is again one of these splendid ideas about monetizing the internet via offering a service to all average Joe's that was unthinkable before.

Finally, if you happen to have a blog like this one here, you can embed a badge (like the one shown on the top of the left column) and can link potential buyers of your masterpieces to the Blurb site for more detail and previewing of your books. These Blurb buggers seem to have figured out solutions about practically everything related to this opportunity!

What are their differences with Lulu, you might ask. I haven't explored them both sufficiently in depth to be able to make well informed statements; I believe though that Lulu offers a possibility to professional graphic designers to even create entire books or publications in tools like InDesign or Quark, (or whatever) and then upload a saved PDF file for printing. In fact, you could publish anything you like this way. Blurb has a client app free of charge that you can download to a Mac or PC and, like Apple, you can create your book based on their rich templates. It is thus much more likely that professional designers would rather use Lulu for quick mockups where amateurs like you and I might turn to Blurb and Apple instead...

Having monitored Blurb's number of new books published, I'd conclude that these guys have kinda struck gold. Unfortunately for them, before you realize, they'll be dozens of others like them stealing each other's ideas and competing (beating) the hell out of themselves with add-ons and new service offerings. As for us, adamant book lovers, will eventually be the ultimate winners emerging out of this dogfight. Quality going up and prices going down. True story. CEO - Tony

I've been following the CEO Tony Hsieh on Twitter for a few days now and I gotta admit this guy seems to be an interesting phenomenon of top to bottom communication from a company's boss to his field staff. Take a look at some of his recent postings:

Busy busy day! Lots of meetings, finally headed home now to relax and figure out why @el_gato is mute.about 4 hours ago from txt

Just finished watching Incredible Hulk movie. It was surprisingly good! 09:49 PM June 22, 2008 from txt

Business idea: open up place that is a gym during day. Move equipment in evening & make it night club at night, so space is always utilized. 05:01 PM June 22, 2008 from txt

Headed to Bellagio buffet for early dinner with an old family friend. Well, she's not actually old, but I've known her since 1st grade. 04:46 PM June 22, 2008 from txt

Wow, lots of really great feedback & ideas for online "Zappos Business School" idea. Thx everyone, keep it coming! 10:53 AM June 22, 2008 from web

Thoughts? If you are a business owner, would you feel this was valuable and worth paying $39.95/month for? What else would you like to see? 10:12 AM June 22, 2008 from web

Goal would be to build a new business where we are helping other businesses build great businesses by sharing what we've done at Zappos. 10:12 AM June 22, 2008 from web

Plus weekly Q&A live video interviews w/ Zappos folks incl me where questions come from subscribers & also interviews w/ other entrepreneurs 10:12 AM June 22, 2008 from web

Videos, documents, etc. sharing everything we do for recruiting, HR, culture, customer service/call center, training, leadership/mgmt, etc. 10:11 AM June 22, 2008 from web

Thinking of starting a subscription site ($39.95/month) for business owners where we share details of how we do things internally at Zappos 10:11 AM June 22, 2008 from web

Just went through @missrogue presentation "Happiness as Your Business Model" - Great stuff! 01:44 AM June 22, 2008 from web

Excited thinking about how to apply concepts from "The Happiness Hypothesis" book to help build and improve company culture! 09:10 PM June 21, 2008 from txt

Halfway thru "The Happiness Hypothesis". Very interesting book - examines religions, philosophies on happiness in science/research context. 09:06 PM June 21, 2008 from txt - So I decided to buy the AeroGarden that I've been seeing on infomercials. Supposedly I can harvest my own sala ... ... 04:44 PM June 21, 2008 from TwitPic

Felt great to catch up on sleep - got up finally at 1 PM today! Now reading "The Happiness Hypothesis" w/ corn nuts + beef jerky + red bull. 03:23 PM June 21, 2008 from web

I'll be giving 2 tours of Zappos offices today! @twitpic visiting from Tulsa & @infosourcer from Oregon (she won trip to Vegas via Twitter) 05:57 AM June 20, 2008 from web

At Fireside off St. Rose with 15 Zappos employees & friends including Zappos.TV, merch, marketing, dev, & HR folks. Stop by if in the area! 09:34 PM June 19, 2008 from txt

Great dinner with @twitpic @desrey @makenai @krianbalma @zappos_alfred. @twitpic & @desrey will be touring Zappos offices in the morning! 09:09 PM June 19, 2008 from txt

Good offsite meeting today. Headed to Palazzo for dinner with @twitpic and Zappos folks. 04:43 PM June 19, 2008 from txt

Leaving Green Valley Ranch with Zappos folks and headed home. Good dinner w/ Columbia. 10:19 PM June 18, 2008 from txt

Do the test: How many bosses you had in your entire career that were anything like Mr. Hsieh? This guy is breaking the molds. I won't be surprised if future management books are full of case studies from his company. It'd be interesting to crawl in this guy's brain and see how he thinks. Recently I spoke about a book written about the 'brain' of Steve Jobs. A similar work about the Zappos boss won't be a bad idea. If you are a writer you can start collecting background material by following him on Twitter. BTW, I'm taking Tony's advice on the Incredible Hulk. I love Edward Norton to my heart, anyways. One of the best actors in history, ever!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Sharing slides

Ever heard about Web 2.0 communities sharing slide presentations? What else! Yep, there may be a number of them out there; I happened to be pointed at one of them by the CEO - Tony guy whom I do follow on Twitter. The community 's going by the name SlideShare and it's got looks and functions reminiscent of YouTube and the likes.

You can even download their slide presentations. I already tried that and I got a PDF file with all slides as posted by their author. That PPT was called : Happiness as your business model! Hot stuff!

I guess this could be useful to millions out there struggling to put PPTs together about any subject their heart desires. Not a bad idea by the takers of this initiative. Get some traffic first, monetize it (or not) next and then sell off to Yahoo, Google or Microsoft and sing your way to the bank. A geek's wet dream!

Why not?

Saturday, June 21, 2008

My Twits

Go visit my twits... Gettin' better and better all the time; here's a teaser (to make sense read them in reverse order though).

Go away folks! I'm a real bore! Reading my twits is a waste of freakin' life! Read my blogs instead 3 minutes ago from web

Meaning, some folks watch every freakin' Twit pass by and some (veeeeery few) think I'm kinda 'interesting' and start following me... 5 minutes ago from web

Oh... Now I get it! I see my followers multiply. Was 23 (big deal) when I started few min back, got to 25 now. 6 minutes ago from web

I'd rather stop now. Said too much. Twitting turns out more addictive than Blogging! Spouse gonna get mad @ me again 10 minutes ago from web

Maybe I should sell it to SMAK as a conceptual art piece. Lightening struck Bravia dead on arrival! What a theme! 13 minutes ago from web

First let's see what the Insurance man will want to cover from the damages. Then we'll see. 15 minutes ago from web

talking of HDTV... the lightening struck Bravia not yet back from repairshop... even Rita suggested to start thinking about writing it off! 16 minutes ago from web

What's so wrong with me? How come I even watch the darn thing? Is it because of the HDTV aspect of it? Get a life! 17 minutes ago from web

Is that sob Hidding gonna do it again? First with Korea, then Australia, now freakin' Russia! Sold to money the freaktard! 19 minutes ago from web

Tonite Cheesehead-land meets Russia. Is it gonna be as it should or are we gonna see another mess Turkey/Croatia style? 22 minutes ago from web

Twitterrific hangs on me far too often. Is it it, or is it Twitter itself? Maybe Twitter is becoming a victim of its success. 26 minutes ago from web

It's Saturday you said? So what? People ain't working on Saturdays? Sez who? Maybe south of the border but not in Flanders... 31 minutes ago from twitterrific

A day opens up... in an hout the painter comes to work on walls and ceilings of the kitchen space. About time... 32 minutes ago from twitterrific

Feargal Sharkey is singing 'a good heart' on Nostalgie right now. My all time favorite. What a voice! 33 minutes ago from twitterrific

...with penalties from the braindead Croatians. 34 minutes ago from twitterrific

That's what makes it addictive. I never get excited about anything anymore... except when teams like the Turks score at 121 and qualify... 35 minutes ago from twitterrific

Soccer is a bitch! Mostly the best win but from time to time you got Greeks and Turks messing it up and beating the bets. 37 minutes ago from twitterrific

Radio Nostalgie reminds me of the Turkish qualification yesterday evening. Now I understand what people felt when the Greeks won in 2004. 38 minutes ago from twitterrific

That's the reason I adore John C. Read here: 40 minutes ago from twitterrific

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The coolest pic I saw in ages...

It's cool to be an Apple geek. Even in his/her humor you can find the geek's creativity elements. I picked up this one from a kid's (second year med student in Brussels) twitter postings . I don't know whether he's composed and shot that one on his own or copied it somewhere else; whatever, it's just supercool.

Well done Bramzo; I'd like to be taken care by you in ten years from now...

Update: I was just informed the shot was taken by Bramzo, using his iPhone! Well done, kiddo!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Aboriginal Zorbas

Words are totally a waste of space in describing the fun of watching this clip. Enjoy! Thx a mille to Christos for pointing this to me earlier today!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Quite an interesting interview about the phenomenon by a Harvard Business blogger. Cool stuff!


Is Twitter the new way to go about blogging? Can you get thru life day-in, day-out, by letting the world enjoy the awareness of what's happening to you? The Zappos CEO thinks so; and he incidentally tries to help novices with a made for dummies guide about how to be addicted to Twitter. Here's an excerpt:

"Beginner's Quick Start Guide and Tutorial to Using Twitter

A note from Tony Hsieh, CEO of

Remember back when sending SMS text messages on your cell phone was a new thing, and it seemed kind of strange to use your cell phone to do that? And today, you probably wonder how you ever lived without text messaging.

Well, Twitter is the same way. It's going to seem a little weird at first, but I promise you if you can talk your friends into joining it and you all use it for 2 weeks, it will change your life. You will wonder how you ever lived without it.

The problem with Twitter is that it's a bit confusing to set up, and it takes a while to convince people to even try it out. And when they try it out, if they don't have friends that are already using it, then it's really hard to understand the value of it.

I know that I've been spending about half an hour every time I try to convince my friends to sign up for Twitter. At first, they think it sounds interesting but aren't really motivated to sign up. Sometimes it's been a multi-week long process. But finally they relent and sign up, probably just so they can shut me up. I walk them through the signup process, step by step, and then slowly but surely, they become addicted and their lives are never the same again..."

If you are new to Twitter, I reckon this guide is a must-have. Twitting or twittering (whatever) is a phenomenon of the most absurd nature. However, I've grown gradually to respect the concept only when I saw John C. Dvorak become an adamant supporter of Twitter after taking the piss on it for so long. Apparently, there are now companies like Zappos (online sales of shoes... why not?) that use and drive the Twitter gig as one way to build their company's culture. This ain't so crazy as it sounds though. I strongly believe so...

When blogging was hot, I thought about it quite a bit. I used to sit at the COO chair of a 600 people company a few years back and, having worked for more than 20 years in the High Tech Industry, I came to realize that one of the things that seriously inhibited the building of employee loyalty, motivation and positive thinking about the company is the alienation of its top management from the guy or gal in the front lines. And that is often the case, going hand in hand with a lack of empowerment of those in the front lines, and continuously treating them like the lazy nitwits who are out to harm the company... So what most companies do to keep those harmful elements in check? Alienate their top managers and BOD members even more, surrounding them with impenetrable halos and protect them and 'their shareholders' value' by building bureaucracies that allocate power only to the worthless among all humans: accountants and lawyers.

I strongly believed then (and still do) that most of the top couple of layers in a company's management should make themselves visible. They should appear human and tell people how they... live their lives and work and what are their daily concerns as they move forward. As humans and not as corporate androids. Blogging was an obvious way to achieve this. Many CEOs started doing this way back. For the reasons I describe above. I almost started the 'experiment' myself but, soon after, I had to quit that job and my replacement endorsed an entirely different approach. Good for him...

In general, my experience is that mostly insecure managers, afraid that others may eventually use the intimate knowledge about their weaknesses against them, tend to protect themselves with a halo of uncertainty and corporate symbolism and choose to communicate the least possible to the commoners on the front lines. Many top managers work like this. I remember the top dude of BP-Oil in Belgium, 30 years back, who used to take a dedicated elevator to his office at the top floor, an elevator only used for his Excellency. Wow!

Apparently, that Zeppos CEO is made of another material. He wants to build a strong culture in his company and he believes one way to do this is to reveal himself to all those who are interested as a human with real needs and wants and who's maybe doing what anybody else is doing on the planet; playing cards with friends, having some drinks, going to supermarkets for groceries, watching the game on TV with some pop-corn, sharing his joys and sorrows with anyone who cared to know. And he uses and promotes Twitter to this end.

Not a bad idea at all. Writing a blog takes some extra effort and often you write more than anybody cared to read. Boring!

With Twitter, you are confined into writing about simple facts, opinions, events and all this has got to get wrapped within a space of 140 characters long.

PS. Dvorak joined Twitter and within days he got more than 20 thousand people following him! Wow! That did it to him; he's there to stay. I do follow Dvorak too because I love his style. I often spoke about him in this blog and I respect his opinions however controversial they might be at times.

Zeus returned to Mount Olympus

This is one of the funniest comments I heard in a long time. As the match of the Greek squad against the Russians ended with the Greeks losing 0-1 by means of the most stupid goal in living memory (typical Greek goalkeeper behavior, being anywhere else except in between his goalposts), the Flemish live reporter on VT4 (Flemish channel) says:

I can't figure how this appalling team has ever been able to win the Euro 2004 Cup. I guess Zeus left them on their own this time, as he went back to Mount Olympus... Miracles don't happen every day anymore...

Not bad at all! He's right you know! Greeks must offer some more goats at the altar and bring some more presents to the Delphi oracle to be better off next time around. If ever, that is...

PS: Picture showing German coach of Greek national team Otto Rehhagel congratulating Dutch coach Guus Hiddink of the Moscow squad. Staying friends after all...

Friday, June 13, 2008

Spaghettis and frogs sent to Orange hell...

What can I say? What can anyone say about the squad of the orange masters of football sending both finalists of the previous World Cup to the cleaners...

Go Holland go!

Seven goals in two games, 3 against Italy, 4 against France. Beyond anyone's wildest dreams! I wonder who the other party they're gonna meet at the finals. The bets are open...

Portugal, Spain or Croatia? Who knows?

Thursday, June 12, 2008

His Jobness is about to sneeze...

Sell! Sell! Sell!

Never seen before in the history of mankind, as Apple's stock dropped 5% today following another hefty fall yesterday, purely on speculation on Steve Jobs' health risks.

I have to admit, his WWDC appearance looked especially bizarre. I thought he lost a lot more weight compared to the last time we saw him and his face looked like... an AIDS patient... often seen in terminal cancer cases as well. I believe in his case though, it must be the vegetarian stuff he eats that messes up his looks and makes him lose weight. He seemed to have lost some indeed and... Phil Schiller found it; good ol' Phil looks more and more like the Woz: getting ready to explode!

Anyways, all this is a great reason for short-sellers' speculating the worse and the share dropping almost 10 bucks in intraday trading today. I believe Apple must have lost the best part of ten billion dollars in market cap during the last couple of sessions. Can you just get this?

So, who's benefiting from it? Simple answer: the short-selling sobs... those who buy puts for a couple of cents and want to see them turn into a few dollars at which point they collect their hefty profits. Or those who sell short and cover when the price drops. And the bleeding computers that generate massively loss-stop orders once the ball starts rolling downhill.

BTW, El Jobso is about to fart... start selling again!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Dump Belgium gets Apple Inc. confused

Just after the keynote last Monday, Apple's national homepages worldwide refreshed to the news. 3G iPhones sold worldwide with concrete deployment plans was a fact. A whole bunch of western world countries were shown in a first release wave on July 11th, in a month's time that is. In little and faraway Belgium, an island with far too many idiosyncrasies located in the 'center' of the world, housing the high Commands of the EU and the NATO, the Apple homepage showed in two languages (as it should), Flemish and French, that indeed the iPhone was to be sold for real on July 11, just 10 days before the National Feast (commemorating the creation of the state of Belgium in the 1800's). It wasn't meant to be true though...

In a country with hundreds of dump and unreasonable laws, with one among them prohibiting exclusivity of distribution rights by single operators of cellular phone devices in the mobile comms arena, it wasn't too obvious how the list of first release countries would include us along the rest of the 'civilized' west; actually, Belgium appears no better than Botswana, Mali or El Salvador. We are stuck in the Northern hemisphere not to lose the unique opportunity to enjoy cold and wet summers but we are no much better than any third world country. Because we are run by castratti governments filled-up with second and third generations of political dynasties (and they all blame the royals for doing the same, by the way) and managing like on a home trainer: pedaling like hell, sweating but going nowhere.

Anyways, we'll have to wait. If ever... behind Mali and Cameroon. Until the moment that local braindead authorities realize that Mr. Jobs is factually more powerful in a world of 6 billion people than the entire 10 million of Belgian citizens, incl. their government muppets and their dynasties. If I was his Jobness, I wouldn't lose a sec's sleep on this. F*ck 'em. Useless pieces of sh*t! And he'd be right on the money!

Now, the funny faits divers is that a few hours after the first announcement, the published list on the Apple site was the one shown above (click for a readable res). Apparently, hours later, the local Apple homepage took the line "available from July 11" off the page and Belgium moved to the second group after Argentina. I didn't know that and only discovered it after reading a whole page article this morning, dedicated to the incident in the "DeMorgen" paper. I rushed to Apple's local Belgian site and indeed, DeMorgen was right. No July 11 announcement and Belgium enjoying quietly on second place after Argentina and in front of Botswana, in the 'later this year group of countries' bunch.

A few moments later though, while I was explaining the absurdity of this country's rules to my spouse, a native herself, I link to the page in question to prove my point as she didn't believe it herself... and there I get a list where Belgium sits back next to Austria due for a July 11 release... What the heck is going on? Cleaned up histories and tried Flock and Firefox... idem ditto!

Conclusion: (dumpsh*t) Belgium got even the geniuses of Apple Inc. pretty confused!

PS. The local minister of telecoms in the Belgian government boasts owning an iPhone for some time, cracked, jailbroken and all. He also used it to take a shot of Steve Ballmer the other day when the latter was visiting the country! What can I say? We throw cream tarts on Bill Gates and shoot pictures of Ballmer with cracked iPhones! But we ain't getting them legally sold or supported... and we run governments and make the laws... Viva Belgium!

Monday, June 9, 2008

A prelude to tomorrow's game of the Greek squad!

Have fun watching this clip from the 70ies. Especially if you happen to work for a Greek company but you are not Greek yourself (thus, a barbarian by Greek tradition... that's what Yankees call an alien) and you're trying to grasp what's goin' on in the minds and souls of your Greek bosses.

Thx much to Clara for pointing me to this!

Tonite, Ich bin ein Hollander!

Have you guys seen the game? How the Dutch took the spaghetti's to the cleaners? Oh my Goad! Oh my Goad!

Let it be a lesson to those who thought that the Dutch lost their 'mojo' in a soccer game!

Today we witnessed the work of one of the two finalists of this year's Uefa Euro 2008. I just lov' it!

I am also looking forward to see how my compats, the reigning Cup holders (Euro 2004), will manage tomorrow, trying, I hope, not to make a fool of themselves.

Anyways, I believe we're gonna see the final between Germany and Holland for the n-th time and I hope it doesn't end again like it used to... with the Germans winning another European cup... would be a shame for my Dutch friends... BTW, I am feeling closer to the Dutch for some time now, ever since my eldest son has been living for a second year in Arnhem and most probably he's is probably gonna try his future there... following my advice, that is!

Cross your fingers for the über-Dutch, folks... And, to my beloved Belgian compats: study the cheese-heads' game, bros... you might learn something about kicking the stupid ball after all...

Monday, June 2, 2008

Painting Nudes

For more than 40 years I've been painting different subjects on an amateur basis, mostly portraits, but I only painted one nude (hardly provocative) about 20 years ago. When I saw this breathtaking picture at Flickr the other day though, I thought I'd try it again... The model was put in this pose by this pro photographer dude who enjoys shooting young and well shaped models...

I knew I'd get some pain from the spouse, but what the heck... I ain't gonna hang it anywhere visible in my living room! It was just fun to paint this gorgeous babe and it makes a middle-aged menopaused ol' man like myself feel a bit younger again...

Since it's not gonna be exposed anywhere on a wall, I decided to post it here for the rest of you...


PS. Forgot to mention. Click on the shot for a larger and sharper view...

Pretty Amazing...

If you are a baby boomer like myself, you've probably grown up with the songs of the Jewish Elvis, that is to say, the one and only Neil Diamond... in his late sixties today. He's been writing and singing hit pop-songs for four decades, starting with the song he wrote for the Monkeys, "I am a believer". Did you know that? I'd recommend to you to listen his latest album release 'Home after dark' that carries the top single 'Pretty amazing grace' as well. Check this clip at YouTube for a first taste.

I'm listening to his singing and I'm thinking... some mum's do have 'em. What a voice and talent this guy's got. Voice, lyrics, music, rythm... how does he do it? A son of a Russian-Polish Jewish immigrants in Brooklyn, NYC, he's grown to one of the greatest pop music stars of the last two centuries. Wow! 120 million records and counting! With some of the top pop-classics of all time.

My favorite of his latest album is "If I don't see you again" (see lyrics here).

I like particularly this part:

Its time for saying goodbye
Cos if I stay for too long
You’d get to know me too well

And find that something was wrong

The time is perfect to go

Before the curtain descends

Right now when both of us know

That everything’s got to end

If I don’t see you again


Sunday, June 1, 2008


From time to time there's a song or a singer that blows me away. I blogged about Arid in the past and Katie Melua and Yusuf Islam (alias Cat Stevens)... Yesterday, as I was driving to Ghent, I 'discovered' (became conscious of his existence, that is to say...) this guy (singer and songwriter) going under the name Jonathan Vandenbroeck (I hope I got his name right) of the Belgian group Milow. It was an interview with him on Radio 2 (Flemish National Radio Broadcast). I knew of his earlier hit song 'You don't know', but they just released that new CD 'Coming of age' with the song on the YT clip above, 'The Ride', claiming the highest popularity scores on the Milow iTunes ranks.

I believe he's da man!