I just read a press statement from the German federal statistical office, pointing out the most significant price changes in November 2008, as compared to the same month a year earlier:

Destatis.de - Most striking price changes

Good news for us geeks: Personal computers are, still, one of the products whose prices drop the most drastically these days. Of course, why the cucumber prices also dropped or the ones of butter (reminds me of the constant over-production of butter in the EU since the 1970s, satirically dubbed "Butterberg" = "butter mountain"), I don't know. It is also not particularly pleasant that the prices of vegetable oil and "pulses" (which, as my dictionary told me, are legumes) are on the rise, at least until Apple reveals the new edible iPod, or course.

So much for the day from the department of things you never wanted to know ;)

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Remember when everybody and their brother made a little website with lots of "under construction" signs and excessive use of the <blink> tag? No? Lucky you.

Of course, these times are long over, now everybody has their own blog, and facebook, and myspace, and, uhm yeah, twitter. Of course, woe is yours when you realize nobody wants to read what you had for lunch. Or dinner. Or that you went to the store and bought toilet paper (gasp! on sale!)...

But thankfully, if you have a few bucks to spare, you can always count on Google Adsense to spread the word of your oh-so-boring personal updates across the globe. Like this gentleman, who decided to show ads on people's Gmail accounts, in order to get more readers to his twitter account:

Google and Twitter

Now considering he is deeming himself an "online media" expert -- couldn't he have guessed that this kind of self-promotion is a huge cyber-turnoff?

Dear slowing economy, could you free the Internet from this and similar "SEO" annoyances in 2009, please? Probably as likely as the hell freezing over or the spammers running out of money, but one can always hope.

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What American accent do you have?
Your Result: The Inland North

You may think you speak "Standard English straight out of the dictionary" but when you step away from the Great Lakes you get asked annoying questions like "Are you from Wisconsin?" or "Are you from Chicago?" Chances are you call carbonated drinks "pop."

The Midland
The Northeast
The South
The West
North Central
What American accent do you have?
Quiz Created on GoToQuiz

That was a fun little quiz -- and apparently, I acquired an "Inland North" accent (in addition to my German accent? wow). Needless to say, I have never been to Wisconsin, and my home town is well over 4000 miles/7000 kilometers away from Chicago. But, that is true, I do call carbonated soda drinks "pop" (quite incidentally the "correct" word to use both in Oregon and Western Pennsylvania)!

(via Asa)

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Here's a hilarious JC Penny ad that reminds you what will happen if you get your girl the wrong gift this year (hint, vacuum cleaner: thin ice!).

Phew. Good that I didn't step into that one ;) Of course, badly timed delivery spoiled my surprise today already, but you can't have it all.

(Thanks for the link, Jenny!)

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Looks like I need to catch up on the movie front:

Film Addict has a nice little quiz on how many of the IMDB top 250 movies you've seen. I got an embarrassing 25.6% which tells me that both, I didn't have Netflix long enough quite yet, and I need to get done with my master's thesis so I can watch more movies ;) .

How do you score? Let me know in the comments.

(via kottke)

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There's been a nice little meme going on in the Mozilla blogosphere during this last week: Running your blog through the wordle "word cloud" generator, then posting it. Here is mine:

Wordle on fredericiana

Comes to no surprise that "German" and "Germany" are two of the most-used words here -- I sure hope I am not boring my readership to death by giving them intercultural lessons here :)

Anyway, if you post yours, feel free to send a ping to this article, or leave a comment with the link to your blog. I am looking forward to seeing how others' word clouds look!

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So I stumbled across this "How Many Countries Can You Name?" Quiz where you need to name as many (sovereign) country names as you can in 5 minutes.

I got a 59 at my first try, while the average is 57 (even though some people take it many times, as the result screen notes).

I do admit it's hard to think of so many countries in very limited time -- and sometimes I pathetically failed at guessing the English spelling of a country's name as well, such as Mauritania, Kazakhstan, and others...

How many can you come up with?

(via Violent Acres, who got, uhm, slightly less)

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This is pretty cool:

The High School Themed Musical Act 1 from Kyle Lowe on Vimeo.

I remember us doing a video project for a class back in high school, and needless to say it wasn't exactly good, not only because of our poor acting, but also because of us cutting it with the help of two VCRs only. I am intrigued how much you can do nowadays with a "simple" DV cam and a computer. Of course I would have been unlikely to be able to sing for the camera in any decent way, but if you muted it, at least it would look nicer nowadays ;)

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The famous British comedy group Monty Python was sick of finding bad-quality uploads of their comedy sketches on YouTube, so they decided to do something against it.

It is unknown if they considered calling Metallica for advice on how to start a proper crusade against the Interwebs, but what is known is that they started their own YouTube channel, publishing their works in high quality for everybody to see. And the best part, it's free.

In their video about starting the channel, they explain some of their reasoning and ask for one thing in return: to buy their products.

And this plan may just work: Watching such classics as the "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life" scene (below) is making me want to pick up a copy of the Life of Brian right now, that's for sure!

On a more serious side note, it is good to see that there is an improvement how some authors work with the Internet. Monty Python went down this road, by offering older content for free, yet asking the viewers to consider their higher quality DVD box sets and similar products, and lately also HD BluRay discs. A similar approach was taken by Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog which was shown for free online before going on sale on iTunes and similar channels -- many people bought it from there (and still are); the same goes for the soundtrack, which I bought on Amazon MP3 just recently.

Another example is hulu.com, a website (unfortunately yet again only available in the US) streaming recent TV series for free (with some ads) -- a system that will, I believe, encourage rather than discourage viewers to spend money on their favorite TV shows once they come out on DVD.

Compare that to the aforementioned Metallica, who were scared off their socks when they realized people were enjoying their music over a distribution channel they had failed to consider before--and instead of calling their record company and asking "what on earth are we paying you so much money for, why are we not using the internet right?", they decided to sue a file sharing company along with three major universities: A step that consequently (and rightly) brought them an honorable spot on the list of "the biggest wusses in Rock" as published by "Blender" magazine in 2006.

Now, as promised: Always Look on the Bright Side of Life.

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The ultimate expression of indifference, "Meh.", made it into the dictionary:

Meh, which can mean unimpressed, mediocre or boring, was chosen as the public's entry for the 30th anniversary edition of Collins English Dictionary which will be published next year.

While the term is probably not another term originating in "the Simpsons", it was prominently featured in an episode:

Cormac McKeown, head of content at Collins Dictionaries, said: "This is a new interjection from the US that seems to have inveigled its way into common speech over here. "It was actually spelled out in The Simpsons when Homer is trying to prise the kids away from the TV with a suggestion for a day trip. "They both just reply 'meh' and keep watching TV; he asks again and Lisa says 'We said MEH! - M-E-H, meh!'

Does that make "meh" a perfectly cromulent word? I think so.

"Meh." fortune cookie picture CC by-sa licensed by Rick Harris on flickr.

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