March 25, 2008

Mushroom in the field

Czech people love their country. I don't know much about their level of patriotism so when I said country, i meant the country side, the land: pure, naked, unspoiled nature. Nothing compares to some quality time out in the nature for a Czech. You can see it in weekends when they go roaming through the forests, hiking, biking, roller blading. In autumn weekends Prague is mostly inhabited by tourists as much of the Czech folks go mushroom-frenzy in the nearby forests. I guess one of the crucial tests when applying for Czech citizenship is distinguishing between the various mushroom types.

The countryside is beloved to such extent that would make even the hobbits blush: one of the national tv channels has a morning 'countryside' show where live pictures from throughout the country are being brought into the homes of nature craving, Czech early risers. Thus inner peace for the rest of the day is achieved by watching the smooth curves of the obedient czech hills who don't dare to go much over the 1000m psychological barrier.

Wonderful, isn't it? Too wonderful one may think. So a bunch of vandal-telecom-geeks decided to blow a heavy punch below the waistline into the morning peacefullness of your average Honza. They basically added the ultimate mushroom to the czech landscape. Yep you got it by now, here it is:

And the original news piece, here

March 20, 2008

Photoshopping Paris with Google maps

I'm sure you all remember the time when you discovered the wonders of google satellite maps and further on, google earth, how the detail on some of the cities was unbelievable but still with its limitations and somewhat bland colors.But I guess the lack of color detail is probably excused by all the distance to that satellite so it wasn't too bothering.

I recently discovered how great Microsoft's live maps are with this new feature called bird's eye view (you need to use IE and install some activex contol to see that but it's worth it). It actually allows you to see a decent view of streets and buildings because the shots are taken from planes rather than satellites. Away goes that flat uninteresting view of rooftop antennas (for Bucharest and Romanian city viewers in particular) and holes in the road (again Romania, but thank God that level of detail is not so good as to see those - one can only infer their existence from above an experience them while driving, from ground level). You can now see beautiful, high res images of building facades, streets, etc. For Europe try Lisbon and some Italian cities.

But this is not what I actually had to write about. As i was looking at a standard satellite view of Paris on live maps, I noticed it had a considerably higher quality and level of detail than what I was used to see before on google maps (haven't been using that recently). So I thought of making a comparison to check if it's just me or it actually looks better on live maps.

Not a small surprise it was when I noticed that actually the google version looked much better, waaaaay too much better, so good it had to be ... heavily photoshopped.... just take a look yourselves:
Or, maybe it was that day of the year when they put chloride in the Seine and planes spray the trees bright, almost fluorescent green, the special day of the year when Google satellite goes photo-shooting Paris. And because Microsoft is not so well set with the Paris officials, this is what came up on their live maps:
I guess the photoshop fairy hasn't visited this MS maps in some time. To me this looks much more realistic, the google one is just hilariously processed, I mean, comeooon.

Everybody knows how Paris is beautiful, but to have this kind of aggressive subliminal touristic campaign on g-maps? Well, I'd just say consumerism has gone one step too far. Can you imagine hordes of american tourists living the drama of their lives when they see that the crystal clear pool-blue Seine looks just like the heavily polluted river crossing their home town? And then, what happens to all the French, Parisian charm?

I've also found the photoshop paris border line, so here it is:

This place could become a tourist attraction itself. Can you imagine everybody trying to cross the line to have a more colorful life?

March 18, 2008

Freezing Prague

Today at 17:10 in the busy metro station 'Muzeum' in Prague, there was a 1 minute moment of coordinated 'freezing' for which I took a 20 min break from work to see :)

I would have expected something similar to the NY Grand Central station freezing but this is what came out instead:

There were too many people who took part in the event so anyone could hardly move through the station but the interesting effect was, that through all the noise an agitation of an overly crowded metro hallway, all of a sudden, the majority of people made complete silence and stood still while a few confused 'outsiders' wondered what the hell was going on.

I'm somewhat proud of having overheard the following conversation (in Czech, of course) between two elderly women that had no idea what was going on:

woman1 (towards shop assistant): what's going on here?
shopAssistant: ... (totally into the experiment)
woman1 (puzzled, towards woman2): i just want to go to the metro, are you going to the metro as well ?(asked as if expecting an important confirmation that she still had a grip on reality)

woman2 : yes, sure, i'm going to the metro.
woman1: sigh of relief (i made this last one up)

It's amazing how so many people made their way to this apparently trivial and meaningless event and took it so seriously. If only other causes would have the same impact...

And to finish, the event coincided with a larger Prague and Czech Republic, actually, Central Europe, freezing. No, not the people(unless forgotten outside) but the weather. It snowed as if X-mas Sunday is coming, not Easter. And yes, now it's freezing: -1 Celsius.

Here's another video (first was made by me) that shows the whole atmosphere better:

And, as expected, it's also in the news.

March 1, 2008

1 Martie :)

Desi la Praga primavara a inceput cu tunete, fulgere si vijelie de parca suntem in iulie, sa speram ca baba Dochia n-o sa-si faca de cap prea mult si o sa avem parte de o primavara frumoasa :)

Si pentru ca martisoare nu sunt pe-aici, am agatat unul in banner :)