Why hassel with non-Euro and non-Schengen Zone Countries?

Avoid waiting in passport control lines or dicking with crappy currencies by restricting the European countries you visit to Euro and Schengen Countries (thats a logical AND):

Countries to Visit

Flag of Austria Austria Flag of Belgium Belgium Flag of Finland Finland Flag of France France Flag of Germany Germany Flag of Italy Italy Flag of Luxembourg Luxembourg Flag of the Netherlands Netherlands Flag of Portugal Portugal Flag of Slovenia Slovenia Flag of Spain Spain

Euro Zone Countries

Flag of Austria Austria Flag of Belgium Belgium Flag of Finland Finland Flag of France France Flag of Germany Germany Flag of Greece Greece Flag of Ireland Ireland Flag of Italy Italy Flag of Luxembourg Luxembourg Flag of the Netherlands Netherlands Flag of Portugal Portugal Flag of Slovenia Slovenia Flag of Spain Spain

Schengen Zone

Flag of Austria Austria Flag of Belgium Belgium Flag of the Czech Republic Czech Republic Flag of Denmark Denmark Flag of Estonia Estonia Flag of Finland Finland Flag of France France Flag of Germany Germany Flag of Greece Greece Flag of Hungary Hungary Flag of Latvia Latvia Flag of Iceland Iceland Flag of Lithuania Lithuania Flag of Italy Italy Flag of Luxembourg Luxembourg Flag of Malta Malta Flag of Monaco Monaco Flag of the Netherlands Netherlands Flag of Norway Norway Flag of Poland Poland Flag of Portugal Portugal Flag of Slovakia Slovakia Flag of Slovenia Slovenia Flag of Spain Spain Flag of Sweden Sweden

Walk: Collet des Graus de Pons

Nice walk, with good views of the Cheron. While you walk the same trail to go and come-back, the views are completely different. There are ruins many Borie, and the “borie de Pons” was the most complete I’ve seen.

Julia in front of the Borie de Pons  Julia on top of the Borie de Pons
More photos here.

Less then two hours and seven kilometers and very easy all the way.

The RandOxygene guide is here and no real mistakes. Not the start of the trail does not have yellow or GR marks, they come after about 500 meters.

GPS track in gpx format and Google Earth format.
GPS waypoints and route.

Crête du Mont-Macaron

Highly recommend walk with fantastic views of the Alps and Pre-Alps and the coast and …

Less then three hours and seven kilometers, mostly very easy with only one steep slidey bit.

The RandOxygene guide is here and no real mistakes. Parking near the main road is easy and so was following the trail.

The views, there are the ruins of the Châteauneuf (”Castrum Novum”) to see and are worth it.

Ruins of the Châteauneuf (”Castrum Novum”) les ruines de Châteauneuf (”Castrum Novum”)

GPS track in gpx format and Google Earth format.
GPS waypoints and route.

North Pole Shrinkage

A crazy thing to do, but an impressive achievement.

Lewis Pugh at the North Pole

From this article in the Times,

Mr Pugh, a maritime lawyer and environmental campaigner from London, swam a kilometre (.62 miles) at the Geographic North Pole to highlight the effects of global warming. At -1.8C (28.76F), it is believed to be the coldest water a human has ever swum in.


The French think too much

Twittering classes in France, as in the USA, do twitter, but generally after thinking a bit, unlike most of the talking heads in the USA.

This IHT article, New leaders say pensive French think too much, quotes Finance Minister Christine Lagarde that “France is a country that thinks,” she told the National Assembly. “There is hardly an ideology that we haven’t turned into a theory. We have in our libraries enough to talk about for centuries to come. This is why I would like to tell you: Enough thinking, already. Roll up your sleeves.”

The article is worth reading for Lagarde’s background and to hear the twitter she gets as a reply.

International Herald Tribune

New leaders say pensive French think too much

Saturday, July 21, 2007
PARIS: France is the country that produced the Enlightenment, Descartes’s one-liner, “I think, therefore I am,” and the solemn pontifications of Jean-Paul Sartre and other celebrity philosophers.

But in the government of President Nicolas Sarkozy, thinking has lost its cachet.

In proposing a tax-cut law last week, Finance Minister Christine Lagarde bluntly advised the French people to abandon their “old national habit.”

“France is a country that thinks,” she told the National Assembly. “There is hardly an ideology that we haven’t turned into a theory. We have in our libraries enough to talk about for centuries to come. This is why I would like to tell you: Enough thinking, already. Roll up your sleeves.”

Citing Alexis de Tocqueville’s “Democracy in America,” she said the French should work harder, earn more and be rewarded with lower taxes if they get rich.

Lagarde knows well the Horatio Alger story of making money through hard work. She looked west to make her fortune, spending much of her career as a lawyer at the firm of Baker & McKenzie, based in the American city identified by its broad shoulders and work ethic: Chicago. She rose to become the first woman to head the firm’s executive committee and was named one of the world’s most powerful women by Forbes magazine.

So now, two years back in France, she is a natural to promote the program of Sarkozy, whose driving force is doing rather than musing, and whose mantra is “work more to earn more.”

Certainly, the new president himself has cultivated his image as a nonintellectual. “I am not a theoretician,” he told a television interviewer last month. “I am not an ideologue. Oh, I am not an intellectual! I am someone concrete!”

But the disdain for reflection may be going a bit too far. It certainly has set the French intellectual class on edge.

“How absurd to say we should think less!” said Alain Finkielkraut, the philosopher, writer, professor and radio show host. “If you have the chance to consecrate your life to thinking, you work all the time, even in your sleep. Thinking requires setbacks, suffering, a lot of sweat.”

Bernard-Henri Lévy, the much more splashy philosopher-journalist who wrote a book retracing Tocqueville’s 19th-century travels throughout the United States, is similarly appalled by Lagarde’s comments.

“This is the sort of thing you can hear in café conversations from morons who drink too much,” said Lévy, who is so well-known in French that he is known simply by his initials BHL “To my knowledge this is the first time in modern French history that a minister dares to utter such phrases. I’m pro-American and pro-market, so I could have voted for Nicolas Sarkozy, but this anti-intellectual tendency is one of the reasons that I did not.”

Lévy, who ultimately endorsed Sarkozy’s Socialist rival, Ségolène Royal, said that Lagarde was much too selective in quoting Tocqueville and suggested that she read his complete works. In her leisure time.

The satirical weekly Le Canard Enchainé, meanwhile, mocked Lagarde for praising the sheer joy of work and quoting Confucius’s oft-cited line, “Choose a work that you love and you won’t have to work another day.”

Such “subtleties have escaped the cleaning lady or the supermarket checkout clerk,” a commentary in the newspaper said Wednesday.

The government’s call to work is crucial to its ambitious campaign to revitalize the French economy by increasing both employment and consumer buying power. Somehow Sarkozy and his team hope to persuade the French that it is in their interest to abandon what some commentators call a nationwide “laziness” and to work longer and harder, and maybe even get rich.

France’s legally mandated 35-hour work week gives workers a lot of leisure time but not necessarily the means to enjoy it. Taxes on high-wage earners are so burdensome that hordes have fled abroad. ( Sarkozy cites the case of one of his stepdaughters, who works in an investment-banking firm in London.)

In her National Assembly speech, Lagarde said that there should be no shame in personal wealth and that the country needed tax breaks to lure the rich back.

“All these French bankers” working in London and “all these fiscal exiles” taking refuge from French taxes in Belgium “want one thing: to come back to France,” she said. “To them, as well as to all our compatriots who are looking for the keys to fiscal paradise, we open our doors.”

Indeed, the idea of admitting one’s wealth, once considered déclassé, is becoming more acceptable. A cover story in the popular weekly magazine VSD this month included revelations that just a few years ago would have been unthinkable: the 2006 income of leading French personalities ($18 million for soccer star Zinedine Zidane, $12.1 million for rock star Johnny Hallyday, $334,000 for Prime Minister François Fillon, $109,000 for Sarkozy).

“We are seeing an important cultural change,” said Eric Chaney, chief economist for Europe for Morgan Stanley. “Working families in France want to be richer. Wealth is no longer a taboo. There’s a strong sentiment in France that people think prices are too high and need more money. It’s not a question of thinking or not thinking.”

Still, the French seem to be divided about the best way to get rich. On Thursday, a widely reported TNS-Sofres poll of more than 1,000 people concluded that 39 percent of the French think that it is possible to get rich by winning the lottery; only 40 percent believe that getting rich can happen through work.

Certainly, the veneration of money more than ideas is new to French politics.

Other French presidents flaunted their intellectual sides. Georges Pompidou was a teacher and author of a widely read anthology of poetry still used in French schools. François Mitterrand was a literature buff who collected rare books.

Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, now a member of the Académie Française, has written important political tomes. Even Jacques Chirac, who liked to drink beer and eat bratwurst, was acknowledged as an expert on Asian culture and art.

Sarkozy is by no means an intellectual dwarf. His campaign speeches were filled with allusions to weighty French thinkers. He wrote a book more than a decade ago about one of his heroes, George Mandel, a Jewish government minister before World War II who opposed the collaborationist Vichy government and was arrested and eventually executed by the Nazis.

Still, Sarkozy likes to boast that, unlike Giscard D’Estaing, Chirac and legions of ministers and senior civil servants, he did not attend France’s finishing school for the political elite, the École Nationale d’Administration. (Only one of his cabinet members is “Enarque,” as the school’s graduates are called, but nine of the 16 either practice law, like Sarkozy, or studied it.)

Some intellectuals find aspects of his man-of-the-people style a bit déclassé.

In an after-midnight round table on French television this month, Finkielkraut, the philosopher and a Sarkozy supporter, called on him to abandon what he called an “undignified” pursuit.

“Western civilization, in its best sense, was born with the promenade,” Finkielkraut said, noting that thinkers like Aristotle, Heidegger and Rimbaud all were walkers. “Walking is a sensitive, spiritual act. Jogging — it is management of the body.”

His fellow guests agreed. “It is a change of rhythm — it’s called Jimmy Carter,” said one, reminding viewers of the American president who brought jogging into the White House.

“And Bill Clinton,” said another.

Daycare Great Escape

Our local paper, the Nice Matin, is always on the case. This time its 3 three-year-old kids escaping from a daycare center in Cap-d’Ail. But the fun part, is that they were only 30 meters away in the daycare’s library reading books.

Why this had to be the lead article on the front page who knows.

Nice Matin Front page 20-jul-2007

But the Nice Matin had to do a complete job, by have all the details on page 2 alone with a helpful diagram of the great escape.

Nice Matin page 2, 20-jul-2007

Why does svchost.exe consume a lot of CPU?

Time-to-time I’ve noticed that one of my svchost.exe processes on Windows XP consumes an inordinate amount of CPU. I’ve now figured out why.

There are several svchost.exe processes on Windows XP. The one of interest is the one supporting all the network services. It is started with the command line:

C:\WINDOWS\System32\svchost.exe -k netsvcs

While I am in the office, my WiFi interface connects to an Access Point (AP), but the AP does not give the interface an IP address. It seems that when this happens, the svchost.exe process does not give up trying to get an IP address via DHCP. When it does, the svchost.exe process consumes 20%-30% of my CPU.

The solution is to disable the WiFi interface while in the office.

Skype versus Gizmo

Good bits the same:

  • Great sound quality when you have a good Internet connection.
  • Free calls to 800 numbers
  • IM

Skype only bits:

  • Group conference easy to setup (add people to your conference). The host has all traffic and costs
  • Cost is higher than Gizmo (€1.19/hour vs €0.85). Also has a €0.045 connection fee.
  • More people use it.
  • Network stats available
  • Voice mail is not free.
  • Worldwde local SkypeIn phone numbers.

Gizmo only bits:

  • Group conference easy to setup (create conference and invite people to join). The host has no traffic and everybody pays their PSTN costs. There is a conference mode which works only with Gizmo users and is free.
  • Cost is low than Skype (€0.85 vs €1.19/hour)
  • Works with any SIP network.
  • CPU usage is lower than Skype.
  • Voice mail is free.
  • Only USA Gizmo phone numbers.

Copy error messages text to the clipboard

Amazing to learn something this basic and so useful after all these years of using Windows.

When you see a Windows error dialog that you want to preserve, no need to screenshot it (as I have been doing all these years).

Sample Windows Error Message

To make a copy, just press Ctrl-C ! You get an nice text copy:

Error reading from source

Windows error = 3: The system cannot find the path specified.

Abort Retry Ignore

Cool !

This tip found from lifehacker.com.

Rocher des Monges

Beautiful walk with great views of the sea and the mountains.

An added bonus is lunch on the beach afterwards.

Julia with laptop and lunch You can see the mountains in the background.

Sea and Moutains Sea and Moutains
No real difficulty as most of the walk is alone a fire road. Maybe a bit tricky at the end where it was bit steep and rocky.

There was one trick to find the trail head. It is not alone the main road (the RN). Go to the port and walk alone the sea to the tunnel under the railroad.

Walk Profile

Two hours for the walk with stopping.
300m up and down.
6.5km total distance assuming you don’t get lost like we did at the start looking for the tunnel.

Walk in Google Maps Google Earth and in Google Earth.

Rando pédestre page for walk for all the wheres and hows.

“totus porcus” — a protologism on the rise?

While minding my own business reading Patrick Buchanan’s rant on Queen Elizabeth’s visit to Jamestown, I came across the phase “totus porcus”.

“But we had best discover why it was our forefathers, who created this country, rejected, totus porcus, the nonsense we spout today about egalitarianism and globaloney.”

As I had never seen this phrase before, I looked it up at ask.com. Nothing. OK, so then I googled the phrase. Only 80 hits. The same search on Yahooo gave 106 hits. Wikipedia returned zero hits.

The number of hits is too low for the phrase to be a neologism, but the usage by Patrick Buchanan surely makes it a protologism on the rise. So what does “totus porcus” mean in current usage.

A blog named Totus Porcus claims ‘Totus Porcus is the Latin for “whole hog.”‘. This claim does not seem to be true.

While the Latin dictionary at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, defines totus as whole, entire, complete, all, the same dictionary has no definition for porcus.

While Totus Porcus may not be Latin, “whole hog” is surely its meaning. Below are some usage.

The media swallowed it totus porcus – whole hog, by John Maxwell in 2005 in his political blog.

I never took latin, but I think of the Latin term “totus porcus” whenever I pull up next to a humvee. Someone told me it means whole hog.

Or will we be like the Gadarene swine, that pathetic example of totus porcus–going whole hog–after the trends of the moment?, by Neal A. Maxwell from a “fireside address” given at Brigham Young University on 5 September 1982.

As a founding principle of our trip, Margaret and I decided that if we were going to go, we would go whole hog, totus porcus, super deluxe all the way, by Michael Korda published in the New York Times Travel section 25 February 1996.

“Totus porcus” is used to mean “whole hog“. Definitely it is a protologism on the rise, but is it a neologism. I guess I will need to head over to Wiktionary to see what they think.

Update: Now in Wiktionary. See http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/totus_porcus.