Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Tartu Comedy Festival - Tonight!

8pm, Vilde. Be there!

Same time & place tomorrow. Drink Baar in Tallinn on Thursday.

Ingenious, and outstanding.

My own apartment is only slightly larger. This design is for 30 square meters... this guy should design dorm rooms.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

RLY Baltica

The ash cloud seems to have dispersed enough for life in Europe to resume as normal. Meanwhile, local politicians are talking about Rail Baltica again.

Now, I'm a big fan of high-speed rail. In Western Europe, it is the most comfortable way of covering long distances. Certainly a Eurostar, Thalys or ICE train between major cities will take as much time as a flight - considering that airports are far out of town and you have to spend a lot of time on security procedures - and it's just far more pleasant. You even get a nice view. Trains are actually often more expensive on these routes, but again, no travel to the airport, and overall I think it's worth the premium. In any case, if there is more demand for rail travel, prices are likely to go down.

So I would absolutely love it if Estonia had a railhead capable of supporting a bullet train all the way into Berlin. Even between Tallinn and Tartu, the express train is a better experience in most ways: a first-class ticket costs the same as the bus, but you get free tea and coffee, better access to power sockets, and a smoother ride. The express train only has two downsides: one, there aren't enough of them in a day - which makes it hard for them to compete with buses that run every half hour; and two, the Tartu train station is very inconveniently placed. The bus station in Tallinn isn't completely central either, but it's still less of a hassle than the train terminus on this end.

Estonia is actually making a useful effort at improving its rail infrastructure, the government is saying that trains will run at 120km/h all the way down to the Latvian border next year. But are we really desperate for a high-speed link down through Riga, Vilnius and Warsaw?

There's always Stockholm.

Apparently Stockholm to Copenhagen is a five-hour journey, with pretty frequent departures. From there it's a night train to Cologne, which is a major hub for ICE and Thalys (the German and French fast train networks respectively). Take the Tallink night ferry to Stockholm, and you can be in London within a day of disembarking.

Yes, it's a lot slower than air travel. But it's a lot faster than driving down through Poland. And the opportunity is already there.

In fact, now I kinda want to try it!

The Definition of "Conflict of Interest"

Astounding. Postimees reports on Keskerakond's latest endeavour: the bus attendants hired by the city are being told to attend the party's anti-government protest on May 1st. Not only are these people - given pointless jobs at minimum wage - being asked to sign a paper promising to be there, and give their phone numbers so it can be confirmed, but they are actually being paid a full day's wage and given an additional two days off with full pay for participating in a political rally.

Just to remind you: this money is coming out of the Tallinn municipal budget.

Savisaar seems to be getting really desperate. The elections are a year away, but it is increasingly likely that Estonia will join the Euro as of January - and that would be a Reform victory that the Centrists cannot counter.

Meanwhile, I'm sure you've seen Keskerakond's posters all over the cities. Am I the only one who thinks they are kinda poorly laid out? I saw one the other day in Tartu - the combination of Mart Laar's smiling mug and "Fifty thousand new jobs created" in a bold font. Unless people stop by and read the fine print, the message is kinda the opposite of what they were intending. Or is it just me?

Monday, April 19, 2010

Two more Th!nk3 posts. The Internet as a force multiplier, and the art of the possible. The latter is the consequence of a flame war, and being (once again) astounded at how people will not respond to what you are saying, but to what they think you are supposed to be saying.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Tartu floods

The river is 3,26 meters above notional zero.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Why Android

Went to the photo store today, to make a batch of flyers for our standup show. Eric whipped up a high-res JPEG with four banners stacked, so we could print them out for cheap on photo paper, cut them up into quarters, and leave at pubs, etc.

The Photopoint at Tartu Kaubamaja is for some reason not allowed to just pull off an image file from the Web. So, I take out my HTC Legend, go into AppFTP, get onto my file server, pull down the six-meg image onto the microSD card, pull it out, give it to the attendant and have them copy the file to their machine.

Is there an app for that, motherfucker?

Monday, April 05, 2010

E-stonia on Th!nk3

Latest post. Comment there.


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