Book Review: The Birth of Loud

This book chronicles the birth of the solid-body electric guitar in great detail, working through the intertwined lives and connections between the main actors that led to the birth of guitar classics such as the Gibson Les Paul and SG models as well as Fender Telecaster and Stratocaster.

The research that went into the book was enormous, which is aptly demonstrated by filling a good 1/3 of the content with references. I red this on Kindle, so I don‘t know if the last third of the book was possibly printed in small print, but on the Kindle, I was a bit irritated by finding the book end at 60%.

While I’m griping: it turned out that the book did include photographs, but these were kept to a section after the main book was finished. I don‘t know why this was done this way - possibly to save on production costs by putting all the grayscale pages together. It is really too bad, as a number of them would have been great to reference while reading the text (such as the photo of a guitar built by Paul Bigsby).

Also, while the book goes into extreme detail about the ideas behind models like the Telecaster and Stratocaster, but other Fender models, like the Jazzmaster or the Duo-sonic seem to just pop into existence - it would have been nice to dedicate at least a little text passage to their design path, even if they - to this day - are in another popularity universe compared to the Tele or Strat.

Other than that, the book is an absolute must-read for anyone that is a guitar buff or interested in the history of the solid-body electric guitar. It was very well written, a real can‘t-put-this-down.

Mice and Groups? The value of good translation!

After staying 5 days in the Blau Punta Reina Resort on Mallorca (see review here), I wanted to figure out where Blau is based (it is the German word for "blue" after all). While perusing the homepage wasn't that successful, I did find this in their menu bar:

2017-05-18 - Blau Resorts

I suppose "Mice & Groups" is better than "Mice in Groups"…

Going by the phone number at the top, I presume the company is based in Spain somewhere - or perhaps even directly on Mallorca. Which goes to show the advantage of having a native speaker go through the translation of your worldwide web presence…

What is the best model for charging stations?

This article on Scientific American made me think: will that be the new Air-BnB for electric car owners? After my experience with the BMW i3 in Hamburg (sorry, German only), I would definitely welcome any system that makes find a charging station as simple as finding a hotel room.

However, I very much doubt that this "people for the people" model will work. For one thing, unless you have a garage or at the very least a dedicated parking space near your residence, you're not going to have simple access to your private grid. So, once again we're out of the city, out in the countryside where people own homes. Ok, say you have a home, you put some PV on top to juice up your e-car on weekends (you have it at work during the week, remember) and you join a network like the one featured in the article to make that power connection available to travelers in need.

Do you really want to deal with the logistics of having someone hooking into your power grid? Where is the car going to be parked? What if your car is parked next to the grid, what if it is plugged into that semi-fast-charging outlet when they call? Can you trust these strangers? What if they are not looking to top off their battery at all, but to find out the best way into your home later that night?

Now, take a step back to the year 2000 with me. Back then, Wifi (can you believe 11 MBits?) was just coming into its own. If you had a Wifi-capable device, you would swarm to any café, restaurant, bar or other facility that offered Wifi, either for free (i.e. "surf while you eat") or for a small charge. I'm willing to bet that Starbucks would be far from their current customer base, had they not realized that Wifi was a major factor for getting - and keeping - customers into the store!

So… take your average supermarket, restaurant, café, bar… many of these (ok, maybe not in cities) will offer parking. Why not offer a number of reserved-for-charging parking spaces?

Juice up your Nissan Leaf while you juice up your stomach? "If your check is more than $20, charging is free, otherwise you pay just 15 cents / kWh". Something along those lines. Why do stores offer parking? Because people go elsewhere to shop if they didn't. Parking spaces are expensive, after all. Now, you have a chance to capitalize on a few of these spaces - either by keeping customers longer ("better charge for an hour, hon - have another milkshake") or by drawing them away from your competition.

Maybe in 20 years, car charging will be absolute standard? This would be a great line to hear: "hey, did you hear about that new restaurant? Food is good, but jeez, no charging!"


Quote from Mark Twain

Just wanted to share this, as I find it quite inspirational:

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

- Mark Twain


"Free" Internet at Brussels Airport

Ok, I've seen quite a number of airports in my life - and nowadays, most of them do offer free internet access via Wifi. Yes, there will be the obligatory "check here to agree to our terms" bit, but usually, you don't have to register with personal data in order to use Wifi.

Not so at Brussels BRU airport! They expect you to create an account, filled with lots of personal information, in order to get access:


That doesn't show what is above these fields - you also need to give them your mobile number so that they can text you a registration code… and yes, ALL of these fields are requirements.
I put in a bunch of crap, of course, but the system balked at the entered birthdate (in 2003) calling it "not valid"… what, a 13-year-old can't use this service?

Oh, lets have a look at the Terms of Use:


Well that is very comprehensive… mind you, it doesn't matter wether you click on "Terms of Use" during registration or any of the links on the login screen:


To put the icing on the cake, once I had everything entered and corrected, the system came back with:


So needless to say, I gave up.
This airport rocks! Just like the city does!
And yes, that IS sarcasm…