Andromeda. From Mythology to Galaxy.

Filed under: more than IT. english. — supernova @ 11:50 AM

Andromeda, a character of the Greek mythology, is quite famous. Her mother Cassiopeia bragged with her daughter’s beauty, which insulted the Gods. Hence Poseidon sent the monster Krotos down to earth to frighten mankind. In order to sooth Krotos it was decided that beautiful Andromeda should be sacrificed. So she was chained to a rock. Of course this brought a hero into the scene. His name is Perseus, who triumphed over the monster, freed and married Andromeda, so they lived happily ever after. Apparently they did, as the Gods put each of them as stars – an entire constellation even – in the sky.

Nowadays Andromeda is even more than just a constellation and a remembrance to a Greek tragedy. She is the «godmother» of an entire galaxy, which is analysed by the Herschel Space Observatory. If you look at the picture you see glows in different shades.  According to NASA «Herschel’s ability to detect the light allows astronomers to see clouds of dust at temperatures of only a few tens of degrees above absolute zero. These clouds are dark and opaque at shorter wavelengths. The Herschel view also highlights spokes of dust between the concentric rings».

When I read NASA’s article this morning, an odd thought crossed my mind.

The myth of Andromeda is told to emphasize the consequences of vanity – «hybris» – and arrogance and to remind us to the virtue of modesty. Nobody has seen Andromeda or Perseus personally and still the story is catching and served – and maybe still does – as a model of heroism and vanity.

Far be it from me to allege that NASA creates myths. But still their observations, the techniques of detecting light were the naked eye sees none and the creation of pictures and models make laymen like me believe that we know what galaxies look like. They form our idea of what a galaxy is, just like Perseus contributes to the image of a hero.

So far I have neither seen a galaxy nor a true hero. As soon as I do, I will report accordingly. That’s a promise.


We rescue IT Projects. For sure. If you want to know more about this, please klick on the picture above.

Image credit: ESA/NASA/JPL-Caltech/NHSC (only the Galaxy)


Story 02|2013: What Is Education?

Filed under: story.english. — supernova @ 11:53 AM

Recently I asked the question «What is success»? and tried to convey my definition of it.  Today I will attempt to define my idea of education.

Education can be divided in two parts. The first one consists of the parent’s job teaching their children manners and politeness. In other words: the skills which are indispensable and so often underestimated. The second part comprises the academic and professional education. And this is the difficult part. How can we define education or even expertise? Does it depend on the amount of titles, certificates and PhDs? As it seems it does. A look in many people’s CV says it all. One finds a long list of every course they ever visited, even if it just took a single day. Moreover, the IT industry is not only specialized in data but also in probably many hundreds of well sounding titles and certificates one can achieve.

I am not arguing against PhD’s or any other profound education at all. To me there is no doubt that these titles – in regular cases – demand a lot of work and knowledge in the respective subject.

Not only must a title or a degree be justified by the person holding it, but geniuses often fail in our school system and it is said that even Einstein was not immediately recognized as the bright head he turned out to be. And did you know that one of the greatest scientists and artists did not consider himself educated because he could not visit a renowned university? His name is Leonardo da Vinci.

What is now the conclusion of all this? I only can give you mine.  As it seems to me the definition of education is rather elusive and prone to change. Education is a whole set, comprising knowledge, behaviour, personality and the ability to blend these «components» into something useful.

Actually I use a good part of my «components» to rescue IT projects. (If you would like to know more about it, please click on the picture above.)

But I am still working hard to develop more wisdom out of them and as it looks it will keep me busy for another while ending up with another question: What is wise?


P.S. This is the monthly story. It is always edited in English and German. Please feel free to download it as a PDF.

Story 02|2013: Was ist Bildung?

Filed under: story.deutsch. — supernova @ 11:48 AM

Kürzlich habe ich die Frage nach der Beschaffenheit von Erfolg gestellt und versucht, meine Definition davon zu erklären. Dieser Artikel befasst sich mit der Frage nach Bildung.

Bildung besteht aus zwei Teilen, für welche es in der deutschen Sprache auch zwei Begriffe gibt. Der erste ist die Erziehung. Eine Aufgabe, die hauptsächlich den Eltern zufällt, die ihrem Nachwuchs erklären sollten, was gutes Benehmen ist. Kinderstube wird oft unterschätzt, ist aber auch im Berufsleben unerlässlich.

Teil zwei, den wir als Bildung bezeichnen, befasst sich mit schulischen und beruflichen Leistungen. Damit kommen wir zum schwierigen Part. Wie kann Bildung oder gar Expertentum definiert werden?  Reicht es, die verschiedenen Titel und Zertifikate zu zählen? So scheint es zu sein, wenn man die Lebensläufe verschiedener Leute studiert. Jeder Kurs – und sei er noch so kurz – wird einzeln aufgeführt. Eine nichtssagende Liste von Titeln. Darin tut sich besonders die Informatik hervor. Sie ist nicht nur auf Daten spezialisiert, sondern auch auf die Schöpfung von vermutlich Hunderten von wohlklingenden Titeln.

Ich kritisiere keineswegs Zeugnisse, Abschlüsse und Titel, die das Resultat langer Studien- und Lehrjahre sind. Zumindest im Normalfall erfordern sie viel Arbeit und Wissen im entsprechenden Fachgebiet.

Nicht nur, dass diese Titel durch deren Inhaber gerechtfertigt werden müssen, gerade Genies verzweifeln oft am üblichen Schulsystem. Es heisst, dass selbst Einstein nicht sofort als der brillante Kopf, als der er sich herausstellen sollte, erkannt worden sei. Und wussten Sie, dass einer der grössten Wissenschaftler und Künstler sich selbst als ungebildet betrachtete, weil er keine Universität besuchen konnte? Sein Name ist Leonardo da Vinci.

Was schliessen wir nun daraus? Ich kann Ihnen nur mein Fazit anbieten. Mir scheint, als sei die Definition von Bildung ähnlich wie eine nasse Seife. Immer wenn man glaubt, man habe sie erfasst, entwischt sie wieder. Dennoch behaupte ich, dass Bildung ein ganzes Set ist, welches aus Erziehung, Persönlichkeit, Ausbildung und vor allem aus der Fähigkeit, das alles zu etwas Nützlichem zu verschmelzen, besteht.

Im Moment verwende ich einen grossen Teil meiner «Komponenten» dafür IT-Projekte zu retten. (Wenn Sie mehr darüber wissen möchten, klicken Sie bitte auf das Bild).

Dennoch arbeite ich weiterhin daran, mein Wissen zu vergrössern, womit ich noch eine Weile beschäftigt sein werde, denn was ist die Definition Wissen?



P.S. Dies ist die monatliche Geschichte, die jeweils auf Deutsch und Englisch erscheint. Sie steht im PDF-Format zum Download bereit.


What is Success?

Filed under: more than IT. english. — supernova @ 12:52 PM

When we hear the word success we often think of wealth or fame. Both are certainly worthwhile. There are many theories from various philosophical schools to teach us what fortune is made of and what the prerequisites are. Aristotle for example defines that real fortune (he calls it «Eudaimonia») can only be reached if one fulfils the requirement of being a male aristocrat. The stoics on the other hand advocate the so called «Ataraxia» which consists of peace of mind and placidity. Others even downsize happiness to the absence of pain.

No offence to all these theories but I claim that success is very much linked to the feeling of happiness. As I try to show by means of the following two examples one needs a work he or she likes, a certain amount of wealth and a positive social environment. And most important are the freedom to choose and the ability to set targets and to pursue them. Fame is a special kind of recognition and maybe a contributing factor to happiness.

Let us start with a very famous man known under his first name of Michelangelo (his surname by the way is Buonarroti). He is the creator of most of the frescos and pai ntings of the Sistine Chapel which still attract millions of visitors. These and the famous statue of David made him not only famous but even immortal. As he was already highly renowned in his life time, he became quite wealthy. But according to historians he saved every penny and did not enjoy his fortune. The artist considered himself a sculptor and not so much a painter. He was deeply upset about the papal order to embellish the Sistine Chapel as he wanted to finish a large amount of marble statues destined for a tomb. Moreover, many of his letters still exist and they tell us that Michelangelo was bothered by many fears and he complains that his soul was always dark. This does not sound like the description of a happy man, does it?

But far be it from me to say that a genius could not be happy.

Michelangelo’s rival, Raffaello Santi, known to the world as Raphael, seems to be the exact opposite. Not only was he a brilliant painter but also a handsome young man, praised by the upper nobility and loved by the girls. Does this sound like a happy man? Yes it does; at least according to my definition. And Raphael’s fame outlived him, as his fresco «The school of Athens» which is located in the Vatican Museums, is as much an attraction and still analysed and studied by experts as the artist’s tomb in the Roman Pantheon is worshipped by many visitors.

 Michelangelo | Raphael | Success

Welcome back in 2013.  :-)

Although the ingredients to happiness might still be the same the definition of «a good job with a good income» probably has changed as much as the idea of a working social environment. Not to forget, that these definitions are as well linked to cultures and conventions. Fortune and happiness do not prevent us from difficult situations but it enables us to solve problems. My personal idea of a great job is making an IT project work, no matter how difficult the situation might be.

Here is the mission:


If you want to know more about it, please click on the picture above.


Can One Be Too Smart?

Filed under: more than IT. english. — supernova @ 10:15 AM

Some days ago an article that’s author asked the question if street smart could outsmart book smart, was published in LinkedIn. The question made quite a stir and the discussion is still going on.

It reminded me of a situation where I was too smart which turned out not to be smart. Complicated? Well, let me explain.

I have been doing project rescue and project management for some years. Given my technical background I naturally have some knowledge of data networks. If one has done a job long enough the respective knowledge becomes somehow normal and they tend to forget that it might not be common but rather specialized know-how.

About three years ago I spoke to the CIO of a large company who faced problems with the performance of their data network. They were looking for someone who would analyse the situation and establish a specification sheet they could give to potential suppliers in order to receive their offers. During our discussion my dialogue partner showed me a diagram of the company’s network. Given my experience I discovered the problem at the first glance. Instead of either being quiet or asking more questions I immediately pointed to the device group which caused the problem. Only when my counterpart’s face turned pale I realized my faux pas.

From a technical perspective I was right, but my lack of diplomacy put my vis-à-vis in an inferior position. Needless to say, that this is a very stupid thing to do to a potential customer. You will not be surprised to hear that I was not entrusted with this task, but someone else received the order.

My lesson learnt  is that it is smart to know WHEN to be smart.


Nebel über Entenhausen.

Filed under: mehr als IT. deutsch. — supernova @ 12:26 PM

Am 09. Januar 1937 hatte der menschlichste aller Entenvögel, genannt Donald Duck, seinen ersten Filmauftritt in der Serie «Don Donald». Diese Premiere feiert er übrigens gleichzeitig mit seiner unentschlossenen Verlobten Daisy. Die Disney-Studios sind mittlerweile weit über Entenhausen hinaus bekannt und mit ihren Filmen, den Franchising-Artikeln und vielem mehr zu Reichtum und Weltruhm gelangt.


Gewissermassen ist Entenhausen bis nach Zürich gewachsen. Die ETH Zürich arbeitet mit «The Walt Disney Company» eng zusammen und mehr als 20 Computerwissenschaftler *  forschen für die Unterhaltungsindustrie, damit diese uns mit immer neuen Technologien unterhalten kann.

Am 09. Januar 2013 – also genau heute – dürfen vier Forscher der ETH und der Cornell University den «Technical Achievement Award»  entgegennehmen;  im illustren Beverly Hills, versteht sich. Diese Auszeichnung ist übrigens so etwas wie der Oscar für technische Errungenschaften für die Filmindustrie. In diesem speziellen Fall handelt es sich um eine Software, welche Rauch und Explosionen detailliert und filmreif simulieren kann. Wenn Sie «passiv mitrauchen» wollen, klicken Sie auf die Quietscheente.

Ich für meinen Teil bin weiterhin auf Neues aus Entenhausen gespannt.


P.S. Dieser Beitrag enthält eine handelsübliche Quietscheente, die Alexander Klink auf Wikipedia zur Verfügung stellt.
Donald und seine Freunde gehören einzig und allein den Disney-Studios, weshalb er hier nicht veröffentlich werden darf.





Filed under: mehr als IT. deutsch.,more than IT. english. — supernova @ 11:45 AM