The Bicycle Wars

If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you’ll know that I have a very keen interest in urban mobility, and especially in the bike-rental sector. If you’re not a regular reader yet, you now know that as well. More and more countries and municipalities are coming to the conclusion that these systems play a vital role in providing a sustainable public transport offering. The fact that Ireland and its population have significant difficulties in following suit is very telling indeed, but also not the subject of this article. As these systems become more and more popular, more and more companies are trying to jump on the bandwagon and profit from this popularity. While this is generally not a bad thing, there are definitely downsides to it, not least because it has lead to a series of „bicycle wars“ in a number of cities, a battle of systems and philosophies.  On one side, you have the „classic“ station based bike rental systems. As the term suggests, these systems are built around permane…

Suddenly Sonos - A Review of the Sonos Play:3

Okay, I’ll be the first to admit it. I’m a bit of a geek. I love my tech and my gadgets, be they drones, cameras, tablets, headphones, and whatnot. However, one group of devices never really caught my attention, namely the so-called connected speakers, or speakers that access streaming services directly via WiFi or ethernet, without having to go through a smartphone, tablet or another similar device. I was a late convert to streaming music anyway, and for a long time, my „musical land mine“, the B&O Play A1 by Bang & Olufsen, was more than enough for my needs.
Until this week, that is. 
You see, I work in a business development role, and as part of that role, my employer regularly organises competitions or giveaways to „encourage“ the front line agents to score more deals. Normally, when I see something like that, my brain just switches to „transit mode“, meaning that those words go into one ear and come straight back out on the other side. Don’t get me wrong, I still do my j…

Annapolis is Everywhere!

Annapolis, Maryland. A small city on the shores of Chesapeake Bay In many ways, it is just one of your typical small American cities, and apart from the US Naval Academy located there, has little to set it apart from myriads of similarly sized cities between the Eastern Seaboard and the Pacific Ocean. Yet, on June 28th, 2018, this city was suddenly and horribly thrown into the harsh, unblinking stare of global publicity, when a lone gunman entered the offices of Capitol Gazette Communications, publisher of the local daily newspaper The Capitol, and began opening fire on the journalists, killing five of them in the process. The gunman was later arrested. It now appears that the attacker, Jarred Warren Ramos, was motivated by personal reasons, namely supposed “defamation” by The Capitol with regards to his guilty plea in a criminal harassment case in 2011. Following the initial report, he had bombarded the company with a plethora of threats, and repeated lawsuits, all of which had been…

Review Apple iPad 2018 - Thanks Apple, I'm running out of good puns for the headline!

Apple and cheap – Now there’s two terms you rarely use in one phrase. Even affordable is stretching it, as a quick glance at the price tags in the Apple Online Store will surely tell you. That being said, in recent years, Apple has made moves towards more affordable devices, at least with some of its product lines. The latest effort in this is the new 6th generation iPad that was released in April 2018. It is the device that finally got me to upgrade from my old iPad mini 2.  Now before I get into the review itself, I need to be upfront about a few things. I am a former Apple employee, although I left the company in 2016. I did not receive this device from my former employer, however, and I did not get it at a special discount either. I paid the regular Irish retail price for the device, as well as for the Apple Pencil. My review may occasionally stray from a purely objective path due to this past, so be aware of that. Why mention the pencil, you ask? Well, you’ll have to read the re…

Defence Forces Open Day 2018

Soldiers and armoured vehicles in the streets of Cork! Combat aircraft in the sky above the city! While this might sound like the result of the Rebel City trying, and failing, once again to declare its independence, this event, which took place just this last weekend, had a much less problematic reason. The annual Defence Forces Open Day had come to Cork for 201, with all three branches of the armed forces showcasing their skill and equipment in Cork’s Fitzgerald Park. This Open Day is in a different city in Ireland every year, and this time, it was Cork’s turn. Well, it was a Sunday, and I had nothing else planned, so I figured why not? The weather was great, after all.
Getting there was easy as usual, thanks to Coke Zero Bikes, and upon arriving at the park, it turned out to be a smart move as well, as there was no parking anywhere near the entrance. Except for the Coke Zero Bikes station, that is.
The park was a hive of activity, with the Armed Forces band playing some really swee…

Play it again, SAM!

Germany in the early 1980s. The cold war has reached a new climax. Along a line stretching from the Baltic to the Alps, armies of NATO and the Warsaw pact are staring each other each waiting for the other to make a mistake, the inhibition to strike lower than at any other time since the Cuban Missile Crisis. One of the potential battlegrounds are the vast plains and gently rolling hills of Northern Germany, with the city of Hamburg with its vast deepwater port beckoning as the main prize. Both sides know this, consequently, in the decades since the founding of the Federal Republic of Germany, NATO and the Bundeswehr, the Western German Federal Armed Forces, have ringed the city with scores of army barracks, depots, and air bases. On the other side of the Iron Curtain, the National Peoples‘ Army of Eastern Germany, together with the Soviet Forces in Germany, had amassed an entire army corps each to push down the Elbe Valley and into the Northern German plains. Both sides were training…

Take the ARRT - A potential transport solution for Cork?

For a keen supporter of public transport like me, the last month or two haven’t been the easiest, with a coalition of fossils and egomaniacs here in Cork bringing down the partial closure of Patrick Street and its use as a public transit corridor. At the same time, BusConnects Cork, 200 million € worth of new vehicles, lines, ticketing principles and other much needed improvements promised in the governments Ireland 2040 plan seem to have taken an express bus to nowhere as they’ve completely disappeared from view. Anyway, I had a day off from work on Thursday, due to it being a bank holiday in the main market that I cover, Germany, and as luck would have it, I’ve been dealing with a bloody migraine all day. 

As I’m sitting here on the couch, nursing my head and cursing everyone and no one indiscriminately (Hey, I’m an equal opportunity hater when I’m in a bad mood ;) ), a video on the Facebook Page of RTÉ News catches my eye. Apparently, the city of Zhuzhou in China has begun field t…