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Review: The Art of Happiness (Part 2) May 12, 2007

Posted by theoxymoron in Interesting Reads.
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Second part of my review of the book “The Art of Happiness”.

It’s very difficult to get independent of external material things because western culture is mainly based on material acquisition. We are surrounded with ads, new cars to buy and so on.

There are two ways to reach inner contentment. More on my site.


Review: The Art of Happiness April 22, 2007

Posted by theoxymoron in Interesting Reads.

This is the first part of several entries I would like to make about the book “The Art of Happiness”. I will try to summarize the main ideas of the discussions between the Dalai Lama and Howard C. Cutler and I will also try to add my own thoughts about certain topics.

Basic Idea

The purpose of our existence is to seek happiness.

The essential point is that happiness is determined more by one’s state of mind than by external events. It’s always better not to be dependent on external factors to be happy. Your happiness should be a result of your state of mind and attitude. So success may result in a temporary feeling of elation but sooner or later our overall level of happiness tends to migrate back  to a certain baseline. After a appropriate time period we always fall back to our day-to-day level of happiness. The length of that period depends on the importance of that event.
The interesting question is: Is it possible to modify the level of this baseline so that our “normal” happiness is on a higher level ?

Comparing Thoughts

Comparing a present situation with the past or comparing ourselves to others is very often the main source of unhappiness. For example let’s take a look at the income of a person and let’s assume that this year it is about $20’000. And let’s further assume that the person is happy right now. After months or maybe a year (that depends on the person) that person normally isn’t happy anymore with his income because he got used to this specific amount. After a pay raise for example to $25’000 he will be happy again, but it will not last forever, so the absolute amount can’t be a factor to be happy. It’s the pay raise itself that makes the person happy, but unfortunately only for a short time period. I think that the more frequent one gets such pay raises the shorter the time will be that the person is happy.

The second comparison we make and which makes us unhappy is the comparison with others. Most people can’t be happy if the neighbor is making more money. The absolute amount is not important anymore even if it is way too much to spend in a life time, people can be unhappy if someone else earns more.

The key thing is to get independent of external factors.

Agloco discussions April 16, 2007

Posted by theoxymoron in Computer.

I’ve read so much about Agloco the last days to do some extended research on this topic. There are so many articles about this concept and also so many different opinions.
Most of the things I’ve read are positive and people are looking forward what will happen the next months. There is a very interesting report about the expected money one could earn with a moderate network of people.
However there are some critical points about the concept. They are not really negative but at least not defined enough. For example it is hard to say when people can expect the first money because on the website it says that they have to wait first until there is a balance between income and expenses. Sounds good but it would be helpful to know more about this time period. We will see what happens when the toolbar is released the next days…hope they will do so. 

All in all I think I will give it a shot. If it works out it’s great and otherwise who cares ? One has nothing to loose.

Increase passive Income April 15, 2007

Posted by theoxymoron in Computer.
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Agloco It’s always interesting to find new ways to increase your passive income. The first method I started was the integration of Google’s Adsense on my website www.oxymoron.li . It’s a nice way to earn some money without actively doing something (except waiting 🙂 ) .

Now I found another very interesting concept from the company Agloco. They will start these days their new toolbar which counts the number of hours the users are in the internet and shows content specific ads on the bottom of your browser.
The cool thing is, that you participate of the success through company shares. For a certain amount of internet-surfing you get shares of the company. And if the company does fine your income increases. Even better is that you can refer people and you participate also on their activity and their referrals.
This goes four level down so you can increase you network of people pretty fast. So just sign up now and tell all friends !

If you sign up directly please use my MemberID as referral Code: BBDF8048

The Law of Attraction April 7, 2007

Posted by theoxymoron in Interesting Reads.
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There is the idea and it is discussed under the topic of The Law of Attraction, that everything in your life and around you (good or bad) like your friends, your house, your job or career etc. was attracted by you and your thoughts.

The problem is, that most people constantly think about the things they don’t want. But this way of thinking gives more importance to the wrong part of your life, so consequently you begin to attract the things you don’t want instead of what you really want. People do have the wrong attitude most of the time.

Two quotes I want to mention concerning this topic are the following:

Whatever it is you are feeling
is a perfect reflection of what is
in the process of becoming.

What you think
what you feel
what manifests
is always a match.

It sounds strange and I think one needs some time to get used to this concept. This way of thinking means that the type of thoughts you have determine your future. It also means that what you are now is the result of what you thought in the past. Here is very good quote to that point from Buddha:

All that we are is the result of what we have thought.

One way to start to examine The Law of Attraction is to start thinking on what you want. Remove attention from the things you don’t want in your life. That sounds very trivial but that doesn’t mean that it is well known and accepted.

VirtualDay 2007 March 27, 2007

Posted by theoxymoron in Computer.
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Today I was at the VirtualDay 2007 conference in Zurich to learn more about the concepts of virtualization of servers, storage and operating systems. All in all I have to say that the location and organization of the event was good but the delivered content of each session didn’t meet all of our expectations. I tried to take one page of notes of each session to recall the content later.

The introduction was made by Dennis Zimmer from Mightycare Solutions. He spoke about why virtualization is so important and mentioned reasons like cost reduction, less administrative work  and easy backup procedures. Most active on the market are currently VMWare with others like Xen (Source) or SWsoft and Microsoft but there are some more. Further we heard about trends and technologies in the future like the “virtualization grid”.
For me this keynote speech was a little to detail orientated. Especially the first talk of the morning should be a more general overview of all topics covered by the event and so it would have been more helpful to start the day :-).

The second session I attended was from Christian Morf (HP) “Solutions and Trends for the virtualized data center“. It was about the expectations of HP, expectations of customers, about trends and risks in technology and the blade architecture in detail. He talked about differences and advantages of blade vs. rack or 2 vs. 4 socket architecture. In the end he introduced the new virtual connect system from HP which makes it more easy to change hardware in a running environment by using a “server profil”.
Again this talk was very detail orientated (a large part was about 2/4 socket architecture and CPUs and which is faster) and I think because of the title of this session “Solutions & Trends for the virtualized data center” many people expected a general overview of different strategies or trends as a whole.

The third session “PlateSpin: Disaster Recovery” by Christian Ellger was about the interesting concept of using virtual machines as backup servers. Their philosophy is “anywhere to anywhere”.  With the software it is possible to migrate from a physical to a virtual server and also the way back to the physical server. So if it turns out that the virtualization doesn’t work as expected it is possible to go back to the physical machines. It’s also possible to make images of physical and virtual machines and migrate them in any “direction”: P2P -> V2V -> I2I -> P2P
The software is independent of any hardware manufacturer and helps to find the servers which are most likely the ones you should consider to consolidate.

After that I attended “Windows Virtualization” by Sommerhalder and Pitrof. The speech was about the new concepts of Microsoft and the roadmap of Microsoft Virtual Server and the System Center. Pithof talked about Longhorn in detail and the new installation alternative “Server Core” which is nothing more than a command line box. The core server comes with the four roles DNS, DHCP, File and AD and the size is less then 1 GB. On top of that the virtualization should be installed with the parent-partition with Longhorn and different virtual machines which work as “children”. These could be windows or other operating systems. The system center is on top of all virtual machines and manages all resources and workloads. Some advantages are scalability, hot add hardware, page sharing, scripting the boot order.

After lunch I went to the session “DataCore: Basics and Concepts of storage-virtualization” by J. Schweinsberg. The idea was : “Storage On Demand” or “Storage as Shared Business Resource” because it is hard to define the amount of storage you need in the future so it would be nice to add or allocate storage on demand. If you buy new harddisks 25% of the costs are for the disk, 70% for the software and the controller and 5% for cables. If you invest in a upgrade of your harddisks you always buy the controllers again which increases the costs. So the idea is to separate the disks with the help of a virtualization-layer. This layer or “virtual disk” is between the actual storage and the server. The good thing is that the virtual disk doesn’t have to be of the same size as the actual physical space. So it is possible to do some overbooking for example your virtual machines could use in total 12TB even if there is only 1TB of physical disk space (I have to recheck how this works exactly).
See http://www.storageperformance.org/home for some benchmarks or datacore.com for case studies.The price range for the solutions are from $8000 to $100000 (unlimited licence).

The last two session were case studies. The first one was from the Klinikum MĂźnchen by O. SchĂźtz which uses a Datacore solution with VMWare and a SAN. The second one was from Allianz Suisse by Alex Weber. This solution was implemented on a HP Blade system with VMWare ESX Server. Interesting is that both are using the virtualization software VMWare however the hardware and storage/backup solutions depend on the different requirements. 

All in all it was an interesting and informative day although we thought we could gain more from the event. I can say now that there is no single solution for the questions of how, If and what to virtualize or backup and restore. One has to carefully evaluate which solution fits the specific requirements best and of course it also depends on the budget.

Room to Read March 18, 2007

Posted by theoxymoron in Interesting Reads, Management.
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The book I just finished was titled “Leaving Microsoft to Change the World” by John Wood.

Subtitle: An Entrepreneur’s Odyssey to Educate the World’s Children

The book is about John Wood, a top executive at Microsoft. He was director of business development in the greater China region. After a three week vacation in Nepal his life had changed in a fundamental way. He began to question his whole life, his job and his marriage. From that moment on he wasn’t quite sure if the life he lived so far was exactly what he wanted. The trip inspired him to help the children in Nepal and to set up schools and libraries. Nepal’s illiteracy rate was 70 percent !

He built one of the most effective nonprofits called Room to Read which has now built more than 2000 schools and libraries throughout Asia and Africa! In fact he wanted to build “The Microsoft of Nonprofits”.

It is an amazing book with lots of inspiring ideas and I read it almost in one go during my vacation.

Read more about the book and some inspiring quotations on my site. 

John Wood on the book:

Nintendo Wii contest March 14, 2007

Posted by theoxymoron in Computer.
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Sounds curious, but this post is part of a contest to win a Nintendo Wii game console. It says that all I have to do is make a post with a link to the original idea , namly to John Chow root of all evil, the post and of course the sponsor 1234Pens.com which makes the promotional pens ! Maybe it works.

Chinese New Year – Year of the Pig March 8, 2007

Posted by theoxymoron in Australia, Travel.
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From the 9th of February to the 4th of March was the Chinese New Year Festival in Sydney. There was a big colorful parade in the streets of China Town and thousands of people celebrating the Year of the Pig.

See more pictures in my webalbum !

People born in the Year of the Pig are marked by their warmth and geniality. Their scrupulously clean homes are focused on comfort for themselves, their family and visitors. Funding this lifestyle requires considerable hard work, making the Pig one of the most industrious of the Chinese Zodiac signs.

Pigs are creative and intelligent and are content to accept the world as it is. They use their sharp minds for the benefit of others, but must take care that their good natured generosity is not abused.

Source: cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au

The table below shows the different zodiacs and the corresponding years of birth.

Zodiacs Table 
born in 2008, 1996, 1984, 1972, 1960, 1948, 1936, 1924, 1912, 1900; 
born in 2009, 1997, 1985, 1973, 1961, 1949, 1937, 1925, 1913, 1901; 
born in 2010, 1998, 1986, 1974, 1962, 1950, 1938, 1926, 1914, 1902; 
born in 2011, 1999, 1987, 1975, 1963, 1951, 1939, 1927, 1915, 1903;
born in 2012, 2000, 1988, 1976, 1964, 1952, 1940, 1928, 1916, 1904;
born in 2013, 2001, 1989, 1977, 1965, 1953, 1941, 1929, 1917, 1905; 
born in 2014, 2002, 1990, 1978, 1966, 1954, 1942, 1930, 1918, 1906; 
born in 2015, 2003, 1991, 1979, 1967, 1955, 1943, 1931, 1919, 1907; 
born in 2016, 2004, 1992, 1980, 1968, 1956, 1944, 1932, 1920, 1908; 
born in 2017, 2005, 1993, 1981, 1969, 1957, 1945, 1933, 1921, 1909;
born in 2018, 2006, 1994, 1982, 1970, 1958, 1946, 1934, 1922, 1910; 
born in 2019, 2007, 1995, 1983, 1971, 1959, 1947, 1935, 1923, 1909

Featherdale Wildlife Park March 4, 2007

Posted by theoxymoron in Australia, Travel.
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Although or may be because the Taronga Zoo is the most popular zoo in Sydney we decided to visit another – smaller-  wildlife park near Blacktown. It is not half the size of Taronga zoo but we heard that it is more interactive and therefore it must be less a “tourist-style” zoo.

I have to say that we were not disappointed at all ! The atmosphere was very relaxed because it was not so crowded with people and on the small leafy pathways some animals like kangaroos, stone owls or kookaburras are walking freely on their own. Have you ever touched a stone owl or kookaburra ?

You can hand feed wallabies or emus or observe the breeding program of koalas. You can pet koalas and take some nice pictures much more easier than in Taronga zoo. By the way I read somewhere that touching koalas in Australia is only in NSW allowed. I don’t know if that is true but luckily we stayed in NSW all 5 weeks 🙂

As always more pictures are in my webalbum !

Meeting the Queens (QM2 & QE2) February 26, 2007

Posted by theoxymoron in Australia, Travel.
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As I mentioned before the Queen Mary 2 and the Queen Elizabeth 2 have visited the Sydney Harbour a few days ago. I had no idea how big the ship would be until I saw it in real at the Garden island berth (at the naval base). It’s twice the size of the QE2 and rises 62m above waterline.

The truly wealthy can book a two-level cabin for an 80-day round-the world cruise for a staggering 450’000 dollars.

In the evening there was a spectacular party put on for the reunion with fireworks, but unfortunatly we had to leave for our flight to the goldcoast at 11am. The advantage was that I had the chance to take some pictures from a birds eye view while the plane was leaving the Sydney airport.

Check out the amazing pictures in my webalbum ! 

JetCruiser February 19, 2007

Posted by theoxymoron in Australia, Travel.
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A ride with breathtaking views of the Harbour Bridge and the skyline. It takes you for about 45 minutes on a high speed harbour sightseeing experience. The first part is quite smooth so you can take pictures and enjoy the cruise.

The second part underlines the word “jet” because then you will experience the power of the two Cummins 600 horse power engines. The speed will be up to 35 knots !

Check out more pictures on my site !

The Umbilical Brothers February 18, 2007

Posted by theoxymoron in Australia, Travel.
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A few days ago I went to a comedy show at the Opera House. It was called “The Umbilical Brothers: The Rehearsal” and was really funny. Read what the Sunday Herald Sun wrote about them:

If you can see only one show during the comedy festival, make it The Rehearsal.

Prepare to succumb to the madness, mayhem, pure anarchy and genius that is the Umbilical Brothers.

Zany David Collins (the one with hair) and Shane Dundas (the other) take you on a laugh-till-your-jaw-aches adventure that has you pleading for more. Only minutes into the show, you know you are in for a real treat – a five star entertainment treat….Cleverly set up as though it is a rehearsal for the real show at the coveted Rod Laver Arena, the audience is treated to what appears to be an Umbilical Brothers brain-storming session. The results are hilarious. At times it is similar to watching a blooper show, the difference being that this one is funny.

This show proves yet again why the Umbilical Brothers are one of the hottest acts on the Australian comedy circuit.

Watch the following small clip from one of their most well-known performances!

Queen Elizabeth 2 & Queen Mary 2 meet in Sydney ! February 15, 2007

Posted by theoxymoron in Australia, Travel.
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There is an amazing event coming up on Feb. 20th.

queenmary2.com.au The massive 151,400-ton Queen Mary 2 will smash the record as the biggest ship of any type ever to visit Australia when she arrives in Sydney at 6.30am on Tuesday February 20, 2007. She will be led by fireboats shooting fountains of seawater high into the air from their water cannons, and escorted by an entourage of smaller ships, yachts and boats of all types. Larger than 132 Manly ferries and too big to dock at Circular Quay, the A$1 billion Queen Mary 2 will tie dock at Woolloomooloo.

The two great Queens will greet each other for this historic first meeting with a “whistle salute” using their 2,000 pound, 7-foot long signaling horns that can be heard over 10 miles away. The dusk spectacle will be the first time two Cunard Queens have been seen together in Sydney since World War 2 when the original Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth visited the city as troop carriers in 1941.

On 20th February 2007, all eyes will be on Sydney Harbour, as we celebrate the ‘The Royal Rendezvous’ or meeting of the world’s most famous ocean liners – the Queen Mary 2 and Queen Elizabeth 2. At 8.40pm, a spectacular fireworks display will light up the harbour, accompanied by the exciting sound of cannons firing from Fort Denison. This magical display will be seen from all around the Sydney Harbour Foreshore right through to the Sydney Heads. Plan ahead and use the Key Vantage points map to locate the best position to view the wonderful display. Take heed of any advice given by the relevant council regarding parking or public use.

I hope I will get some nice shots !

"Sex and Death: Orchids, Carnivorous Plants and Us" February 15, 2007

Posted by theoxymoron in Australia, Travel.

Photography (left to right): Phalaenopsis Salu Spot x Dou-dii Rose (Paramount Orchids); Caularthron bicornutum & Paphiopedilum liemianum (Eric Hunt); Dionaea muscipula (Barry Rice)

See more pictures in my webalbum!

This was the title of an exhibition I went in the Botanic Gardens. The following text is from the official website. It describes the exhibition pretty well:

Stunning displays of orchids and carnivorous plants with humorous interpretation tell the story of fundamental evolutionary processes. The seduction of insects by plants, their unwitting co-operation and the cruel deception leading to inevitable death are played out using rare and unusual orchids and sinister carnivorous plants.

Botanic gardens are renowned for their peace and tranquillity yet as Sam Llewellyn wrote in his thriller The Sea Garden: ‘… in gardens, beauty is a by-product. The main business is sex and death … ‘

Soon after he started work at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Executive Director Dr Tim Entwisle educated us about ‘the nightlife of plants: sex and other perversions’ and, thanks to a generous donation from the Friends of The Gardens, the Botanic Gardens Trust is exploring fundamental biological processes once more in this exciting new exhibition.

‘Sex and Death: starring orchids and carnivorous plants’ tells the story of plant sex by exploring the fascinating pollination mechanisms of orchids, one of the largest and most complex families of plants. The concept of death is a great excuse for us to display our extensive nursery collection of bizarre-looking carnivorous plants.

The relationship between orchids and their pollinators (which, surprisingly to some people, includes humans!) is interpreted in three themes: ‘Seduction’, ‘Cooperation’ and ‘Deception’. The existing greenery in the Arc of the Sydney Tropical Centre creates the backdrop when over 2000 orchids from our nursery take centre stage as each of them comes into bloom. They are supported by a cast of hands-on interactives, video footage and colourful informative signage. The fourth theme, ‘Death’, predominately features carnivorous plants surrounded by dark and shadowy imagery.

‘Sex and Death’ is not a typical orchid show with masses of orchid hybrids creating a riot of colour. Instead it’s an entertaining and educational experience showcasing, at any one time, approximately 100 orchids and carnivorous plants including the lesser known and more diminutive varieties. Australian orchids and the Trust’s orchid research also feature strongly. Visitors are encouraged to come again and again to see the different species on display as they come into flower throughout the year.

The exhibition is planned to last for three years, and there will be something for everyone.

There are more pictures in my webalbum !