Fête de la Musique weekend

Filed under: geneva, life — Tags: , , , — thomas11 @ 11:57

Oops, just found the beginnings of a post about last weekend in my drafts. Well, we’re one weekend later and I have no idea if any one wants to read this, but now that I’ve started already, here we go.

Last weekend, I took a break from hiking and spent some quality time in the city – it was the weekend of Geneva’s biggest festival, the Fête de la Musique (Festival of Music).  Fête de la Musique, Genève It’s one weekend packed with concerts of all kinds, some open-air, some in classic concert halls, some with orchestras, some by street musicians.  The weather was fabulous, a little too hot even (now it’s really too hot!).

I spent only Saturday evening and a little of Sunday evening on the festival, which is a shame. I managed to pretty much waste my Saturday until the evening with shopping and laundry, by being lazy and unorganized and not feeling too well.  At least Saturday night made up for it.

I slowly wandered through Parc de la Bastion, my favorite park, towards the Old City, stopping all the time to watch people and listen to music. I met an English fellow from a previous Sunday hike there, and we spent the sunset down at the lakeside, then made our way back to Bastion to listen to one of the best sets of electronic music I ever heard.  The two young DJanes, Kyssia and Myssi Sensi, seriously rocked the park.  They covered a pretty broad range from House to Techno with some Drum’n’Bass influences, and were not afraid of adding quite some noise here and there, which made me especially happy :-) They are Geneva locals, and have their own independent label o’xensa, and that’s a site I’ll definitely keep checking for events.

Salève on Fire

Following up on that with a couple of refreshing beers made sure that this Sunday’s hike wasn’t going to happen for me. Which was fine, because my coworker Jerven had organized a picnic at the lakeside, where we happily spent the whole afternoon doing nothing.

As you can see, I had, of course, my new camera with me.  Some shots turned out pretty nice, but most of them have problems with sharpness, focus, or lighting.  I still have a lot to learn, and the SLR doesn’t do as much hand-holding as the compact one.  But it’s great fun.


New Camera

Filed under: life — Tags: , , , — thomas11 @ 20:54

Wow, I finally did it. For a long time I had been dreaming about getting a digital SLR camera to be able to shoot better photos, and now I got one.

New shiny D60!

These cameras give better results all round due to the higher quality of their electronics and lenses, but especially in low light conditions and with moving subjects. In addition, they allow completely or partially manual operation, for experimentation or simply when the automatic mode doesn’t get a particular situation.

I opted for a Nikon D60 with an 18-55 mm lens. Lacking experience of my own, I could only judge by reviews and personal recommendations, and the Nikon entry level series does very well there.

Now there’s a lot to learn. Aperture, focal length, sensor size, ISO: you name it, photography has it. My favorite so far is “circle of confusion”, however. That’s something I can relate to.

I’ll need to get a decent book on this. Of course, being the web nerd I am, I googled and clicked around longer than what’s sensible and found Cambridge In Colour by far the best introductory site to photography.

Now, on to trying the thing out!


First week in Genève!

Filed under: life — Tags: , , , — thomas11 @ 19:23

Wow. Tonight, it’s actually already a week and a day that I’m here. I guess I’ll have to start at the beginning as this is my first post since I announced my new job. On Saturday, May 3, my parents drove down to Genève (I’ll use the French spelling, now that I’m a proud resident!) with me and a first load of stuff. I’m staying at my colleague Alain’s house, which is a fabulous old mansion with a large garden and all, for the moment. I spent the weekend exploring some of the area with my parents, having my first cheese fondue, and on Monday started working right away.

My introduction at Swiss-Prot has been a very pleasant and painless experience. The people were so welcoming and helpful, and let me explore the large number of ongoing projects with all the documentation etc. before loading my task list. So, now I’ll spend my days sitting at my desk in the Swiss-Prot office, which manages to be a really nice place despite being an open-plan office. Actually, I suspect I’m the kind of person being prone to like that more than the seclusion of a private office anyway, seeing as I always preferred to live in colocation, too. Still, it’s bright, spacious, and reasonably quiet.

I won’t get into technical details here, that’s planned for a couple of posts in the tech category, suffice it to say that I’ll work on editors and their web front ends for database curators. The curators are biologists who review scientific publications and experimental data and enter the results in a concise form into our Swiss-Prot database (and related ones). The user interface is not the problem here, as it’s pretty straightforward; the challenge is the complex data model needed to describe the gazillion of entities involved in even simple biological processes, and their relations.


This weekend, I enjoyed the awesome weather and strolled throughout the city, with some leisurely reading and sightseeing breaks at the fabulous lake side. It’s a really, really beautiful place. Tomorrow I hope to get a longish hike done on the Salève, Genève’s landmark mountain. Yay, mountains!

Ting and me

I even met with two former fellow students from Karlsruhe, Qiangqiang and Ting. Qiangqiang works here since a few months, and it’s nice to have a contact you already know.

Ahem, didn’t I announce recently that there would be no diary-like entries? Well, perhaps it was good for me to recap the week, with all the new impressions. I hope I didn’t bore anyone. Anyway, I’m looking forward to reading or hearing from you (you’ll find me on Skype, btw). Cheers from Switzerland.


Photos: Home and Vienna

Filed under: life — Tags: , , — thomas11 @ 06:54

As a farewell greeting to my home near Calw, northern Black Forest, I took some pics that turned out rather nice.

Fünfbronn, northern Black Forest

Also, I haven’t yet announced the photos from our recent trip to Vienna.

Wien 2008-04

As usual, clicking leads to my photo page, where you can browse through the other photos.


New job in Switzerland!

Filed under: geneva, life — Tags: , , , — thomas11 @ 16:42

Better late than never, an update about my life and what I’ll be doing in the near and mid-term future: I’ll move to Genève (Geneva), Switzerland! I’ve accepted a position at the Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics (SIB), one of the world’s most renowned institutions in bioinformatics. The SIB provides tools, internet resources, and expert-annotated data in areas such as genomics, proteomics and systems biology.

Starting May 5, I’ll be a software developer in the Swiss-Prot group, which develops and annotates the UniProtKB/Swiss-Prot protein sequence database, the most widely used protein information resource in the world. Also, the group develops or co-develops other databases such as PROSITE, ENZYME, and ExPASy.

Obviously, there’s a lot of software development and maintenance involved, throughout the stack from databases to web frontends, along with the integration of analysis tools and data export in different formats.

The domain the SIB deals with brings some challenges that will certainly keep the job interesting (and me busy ;-): the huge volumes of data with complex interrelations, the mix of different technologies, and the rapid pace of progress in the Life Sciences. Add to that the research-oriented nature of the institute and the international collaborations the SIB is part of, and I guess I have an awesome job. Also, Genève is certainly a very beautiful (if expensive) city, with the best surroundings a mountain-lover like me could dream of. And learning proper French has always been a pet project of mine, now it will evolve into a must-do project – certainly a good thing. Yes, as you might have noticed, I’m really looking forward to the new job!

I don’t have a permanent flat yet, the SIB provided me with temporary accomodation until I find something. Also, I don’t have a local phone connection yet. So if you’d like to contact me, and I hope many of you will, please do it via e-mail or via this blog.


I do still shoot photos!

Filed under: life — Tags: , , , , , , — thomas11 @ 17:22

Fasnetsumzug in Weil der Stadt

Recently I noticed that since I’m back from India, almost no one seems to look at my new photos over at my flickr page anymore. No, I’m not hurt, I just cried myself to sleep a few nights and it was ok again.

I have some pics up from my home area in the Black Forest, including the Fasnet, a carnival-like event dating back to pre-Christian times when the spirits of winter were exorcised; and from a recent trip to Munich.


Status Update

Filed under: life — Tags: , , , , — thomas11 @ 00:11

Hey fellow readers – I hope you are still there after the long blogging delay. It’s high time to give you an update on my current situation.

I graduated recently, and now it’s final what my next station is: I’ll be working as a freelance developer and architect on an application for the University of Heidelberg. The project itself, however, runs under the umbrella of my old university in Karlsruhe, and I’ll be working in an office there .

The goal of the project is to develop a web-based application to both support the creation of an etymological dictionary, and make it available online as soon as there’s a reasonable amount of finished content. The application is for the DEAF group in Heidelberg, who create a dictionary of medieval French (DEAF = Dictionnaire étymologique de l’ancien français), with great expertise and attention to detail, which has made them one of the most renowned groups in this field internationally.

For myself, this allows me to really get into modern web application development and try out several exciting technologies such as Wicket (most likely) and Hibernate, while working with very nice and dedicated people.

I’m also living in Karlsruhe again, in a very cool flat together with a former fellow student and, of course, Susi the cat. Update your address books: Leopoldstr. 20, 76133 Karlsruhe.

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