GENEVA, SWITZERLAND – It’s going to be cold and snowy out this weekend in Switzerland, so your options are a: take it on board and go out and ski! or b: brrr, snuggle into a warm corner with your laptop and do like Bob the Outsourcer and watch cat videos or c: okay, spend some time looking at all those weird and wonderful things on the Internet but then get up and do something useful with your life. (psst, also check out our what’s on this weekend pages)
If you’re opting for c: and cleaning the cupboards or oiling your bike doesn’t appeal, Twisted Sifter is great for finding the weird and wonderful and this week they’re also giving us some terrific practical tips.
Definitely check out 50 life hacks to simplify your world, from Twisted Sifter. I don’t take bagels to work, so the tip to use old CD stacks for my bagels is no good, but that leaves me with 49 other great ideas. And the bagel suggestion made me realize what a great little holder that is. I might try baking chocolate chip cookies with a hold in the middle of each so I can stack them and keep them covered, on my desk.
The Lausanne area continues to turn up interesting young companies and ventures, one of which is Bookapp, a joint venture between Frederic Kaplan who founded Ozwé and Laurent Bolli, co-founder of Bread and Butter. People in Lausanne are forever climbing hills, which probably leads them to look for convenient shortcuts. Bookapp has developed a simple to use e-book search engine, a beta programme, which turned out to be useful in helping me find an e-book quickly. It’s called u.ki and through it I was able to get information about my own early-days print and e-book, China on the Ground.
The e-book business was still suffering growing pains on the production side in 2005, and I let the book more or less disappear because I wasn’t happy with the end product, the fault of no one in particular but rather of the state of the art at the time. The idea was to do an e-book with photos to accompany the print-on-demand paperback version since, at the time, these could not be printed with photos. The world wasn’t really ready for that. I couldn’t bear to let slide those 1985 photos, hard-earned as I dragged a Nikon with three lenses around on my bike in those pre-digital days.
As a result of ignoring the book, I was having trouble finding who has it. Now I know.
I then looked up a couple rather obscure travel writers and their book appeared promptly. Isabella Bird and her travels to Sichuan, Tibet, Hawaii and more. Peter Fleming, writerly brother of Ian, prolific fellow and good writer. Google has 40 references to him but Kindle none, tsk tsk.
A great little tool, this!
Now for some raw self-promotion (the China book, that is)
In case you want to know more about my travels for 10 weeks in China in 1985, crossing the country on a bicycle with one companion, most of the time in areas closed to foreigners (no one asked for papers so we cycled on), just write me for a copy of the pocket-size paperback, now on special offer here for CHF8, including postage if you’re in Switzerland, CHF7 plus postage if you’re elsewhere. I’ll provide the Paypal link or e-banking details. It’s designed to be read on the flight to China.
Here’s the description I re-found, thanks to u.ki: “China, on the Ground is a seasoned reporter’s personal notes on China today, in seven cities in one month (July 2005), compared to the country as she saw it 19 years earlier. It is an open letter to other travellers, primarily business people, who want a deeper understanding of the country than guidebooks offer, but who don’t have the time or interest at the moment for treatises on the subject. Ellen Wallace uses a light touch to compare China’s shift to a market economy country, viewed from the ground today, to the barrage of reports in the press. Most of these take the measure of China as it flies at high speed into the future, without pausing long to observe the Chinese as they move about their daily lives…”
The funniest part, for me, is rereading this, about my China travel companion in 2004, my son: “But the China of the future belongs to a new generation. In January 2004 Liam Bates, age 16, British, American and soon-to-be Swiss citizen, decided that he wanted to study Chinese in order to better learn wushu, often known (and misunderstood) in the West under the name “kung fu.” This was despite, and not because of, his parents’ trip to the fabled Middle Kingdom during the dark era before his birth.”
Today that boy is a TV star in China. Who could have predicted that in 1985?
GENEVA, SWITZERLAND – Melissa Fleming, head of communications at the UNHCR, the refugee organization, has been given some just praise for her active approach to using social media, by Devex, an international development news site. The Geneva-based group is one of the easiest for journalists to work with because of the ease with which they can find photos and videos, thanks to Fleming’s support for using flickr and YouTube. She also tweets and is working with local UNHCR offices to encourage greater use of social media.
Devex focuses, in its interview, on how Fleming and her team use social media. For other organizations grappling with the issues, this is a great starting point. Having 100,000 “likes” on Facebook is no small feat and says much about the organization’s effective approach to social media.
GENEVA, SWITZERLAND – If the chemists can do it, so can the rest of us: the The Fifth Conference of the Parties to the Rotterdam Convention, which regulates the export of dangerous chemicals and pesticides, is meeting 20-24 June in Geneva and they are doing it paper-free. May we all sit up and take note!
Possibly even more beautiful than this decision is the brevity of their paperless instructions for how this can be done. Delegates, may it go well so the rest of us can learn by your example.
Or was it a donut? I’m still astonished anyone would want to do this, but marriage takes people in many ways. Hong Kong will be the first city in the world “to roll out McDonald’s nuptial packages” starting in January 2011, CNN Asia reports.
Here comes the bride, hold the catsup, add the mayo.
I’m not sure if my hat is going off to Firefox for being a good watchdog, or to the Swiss Consumer Protection office, ironically, for slipping up on this one. I wanted to see their new web page on how to find out where your wooden furniture (and other objects) comes from. Here’s what I got on my screen: