Overseeing an IT project is like herding cats

April 6, 2008 at 10:45 am | Posted in Language | Leave a comment
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…is they key message of this video. The bit of language wisdom to be learned by speakers of German: The prase Herding cats is pretty much the equivalent of “Das ist wie einen Sack Flöhe hüten!” (for speakers of English: herding a bag a fleas).

Word of the Day for German speakers of English

February 21, 2008 at 9:53 am | Posted in Language, Word of the Day | Leave a comment
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postmarked: abgestempelt, oder: Es zählt der Eingang des Poststempels (btw: This is a strange expression in German, isn’t it?)


The jury will consist of the current editorial staff of Packingtown Review.

The deadline for the submissions is March 31, 2008 (postmarked). Winners will be announced on the Packingtown Review web site on May 31, 2008.

The contest is open to the public and there is no fee.


Polarbear Flocke Is a Brand!

February 10, 2008 at 9:00 pm | Posted in Marketing | Leave a comment
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They’re just doing what was obvious! Nuremberg Zoo has just released the logo and style guide for the newly registered brand and trademark “Eisbär Flocke” (English: “Icebear Polarbear Flake”). Flocke is the next hand-raised polar bear cub in Germany, born on 11 December 2007 in Nuremberg, about a year after Cute Knut, the first Cub of Hearts, was born in Berlin.

Flocke Style Guide

Knut was rejected by his mother – Flocke wasn’t but it was anticipated that her mother Vera might kill her as she began acting strangely after another polar bear in the Zoo, Vilma, had just eaten her twin cubs. Another happy-sad little story – and enough to earn both Knut and Flocke their own Wikipedia page in English, complete with a bit of romantic speculation:

There is speculation that Flocke may in years hence become the mate of Knut, another polar bear cub taken from its mother, in 2007.

Knut was already dubbed Knut the business bear, in recognition of the amount of Knut-themed merchandise spawned by the Knut craze. Nuremberg Zoo probably just thought that they might as well reap the benefits if they couldn’t avoid the Flocke frenzy anyway – and they have gone to great lengths…

To begin with, Flocke has her own bilingual website and URL: www.eisbaerflocke.nuernberg.de for German, and www.polarbear.nuernberg.de for English audiences – and she was already covered by celebrity blogger Perez Hilton himself. The zoo didn’t go as far as to give the page a blog appeal, but they have some chronology going, in the news section and also in the impressive video section – 58 videos to date, often several a day! In comparison to Knut, Flocke looks a bit like a sheep and she also seems to cry more (but maybe it’s only the mass of videos and hence the sheer amount of cub wailing that leads me to this idea).

Yet what impresses me most is the 13-pages style guide which can be downloaded as a PDF (currently only available in German). Of course they have to have one if they want to take their merchandise approach seriously (and registering a brand sounds pretty serious) – flipping through the style guide nonetheless has a bit of an aftertaste. Nuremberg is also the homebase of the German toy fair Spielwarenmesse, and the zoo got their logo and licensing model ready just days before it started (7.-12. February). According to a press release prior to the revelation of the logo, the city of Nuremberg is intending to sell licenses to manufacturers of:

* Pendants, key rings, pins
* Bags, rucksacks, umbrellas
* Cups, mugs, drinking bottles
* Bed linen
* Photographic competition, cultural events, further education
* CDs, DVDs
* Pens, postcards, posters, pictures, calendars, stickers, books
* Clothing (T-shirts, sweat-shirts, shirts etc.), peaked caps, scarves, rain capes, children’s bibs
* Soft toys, snow globes, glove puppets, toys (wood, rubber), jigsaw puzzles, board games, hopper balls, inflatable toys
* Sweets

But lets also say something nice about the project. Companies applying for a license need to meet three criteria – products must be sustainable, of good quality and be environmentally friendly. The returns will go entirely to the Zoo, and the city council has announced to take strict measures against product piracy. About 400 license applications have already been submitted. Some of the first licensees are Steiff plush toys, Laken drinking bottles and Ministeck – a nerdy game that allows you to make pixelesque pictures from plastic pieces. Makes sense – kids who play Ministick certainly have a better carbon footprint than those WiiPS2XBOX low attention span hyperactives:-)

How to Write Rich Blog Entries Faster (In The Future)

February 3, 2008 at 11:26 am | Posted in Blogging, Language | 11 Comments
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I came across* the nifty Zemanta WordPress plug-in which automatically enhances your text with semantic links, tags, pictures – and does quite a good job at it. Using their demo, I entered the plain text of the recent Carnival post:


And Zemanta returned it as follows:

Zemanta Output

The text highlighted in orange identifies the words that are automatically converted into links. In the full working version, you can add and delete words to the list.

The obvious downside, however, is that Zemanta is not available yet – and if it was, it could probably not be used by wordpress.com users like me, but only by those who have installed WordPress on their own server space. On their own blog and website, Zemanta are not exactly spilling the beans about their immediate plans to release or not to release this plug-in (I quite like Jochen’s notion of a blog being something like a personal tabloid).

It’s also too bad that one cannot just grab the source code of an enhanced page from their demo, as the way it is coded (lot’s of div’s and id’s instead of straight links) is not accepted by wordpress.com! Neither can one simply copy the tags as they use space separation whereas WP uses comma separation (I am all for comma separation, btw, as it allows for collocations). Yet I guess their server would soon be flooded with requests if they offered a demo that allowed you to enhance a page and take the code with you.

*I’ve subscribed to a couple of blogs from Barcamp presenters, and even though I didn’t go to the next one in Klagenfurt (and would not have had anything to contribute anyway), I still get the fresh news that gets circulated there. Nice:-) According to one of those blogs, Zemanta will go beta towards the end of March. By then I might have switched to wordpress.org – and then the decision will be pending whether it wouldn’t be wiser to switch to German, too – blogging in German, however, does oddly not feel natural to me.

Word of the Day: Fit as a Fiddle

January 13, 2008 at 12:54 pm | Posted in Language, Word of the Day | Leave a comment
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Word of the Day for German Speakers of English:

fit wie ein Turnschuh (m.) = (as) fit as a fiddle

While we’re at it: I got the suspicion that this German idiom is not used in Austria – but I think they have a similar one, yet couldn’t find it on Ostarrichi.org, the German-Austrian dictionary.

Today’s example comes from the musical “Singing in the Rain”:

Fit as a fiddle and ready for love.
I can jump over the moon up above.
Fit as a fiddle and ready for love!

I haven’t a worry, I haven’t a care,
I feel like a feather that’s floating on air,
Fit as a fiddle and ready for love!

Soon all the church bells will be ringing
And I’ll march with Ma and Pa.
All the church bells will be ringing,
With a hey naughty-knotty and a hotcha-cha darling.

Hi, diddle-diddle, my baby’s OK,
Ask me a riddle, I’m waiting to say
Fit as a fiddle and ready for love!

Soon all the church bells will be ringing
And I’ll march with Ma and Pa.
All the church bells will be ringing,
With a hey naughty-knotty and a hotcha-cha darling.

Hi, diddle-diddle, my baby’s OK,
Ask me a riddle, I’m waiting to say
Fit as a fiddle and ready for love!

WOTD: Outlier

January 12, 2008 at 12:24 pm | Posted in Language | Leave a comment
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A word of the day for German speakers of English that I had been searching for in the past:

(statistischer) Ausreißer (m.) = outlier


Results very stable, no strange outlier values as often found with other techniques. Interactive Petrophysics needs to be seen to fully appreciate the …

These four words don’t rhyme in English

January 7, 2008 at 12:17 am | Posted in Language | 5 Comments
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Makes you think – why three colours? And this one doesn’t rhyme in German:

Mensch (man, meaning mankind)

Evelyn Hamann is dead

October 31, 2007 at 8:28 am | Posted in Entertainment | Leave a comment
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Evelyn Hamann at Wikipedia

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