Too much Spam (on Facebook)

Blocking websites
Blocking websites

Facebook tries to adapt the personal stream in such a way that we like it. However, the result is not perfect.

Crawling the Facebook timeline

I confess: I spend too much time on facebook. How much? It does’t matter, every moment seems too much. There is not only Spam (sometimes referred to as promoted content, read: commercial, payed content), but also Hoaxes, Scam and selfies.

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Stories from Berlin: At the Beach Bar in Mitte

Bode Museum on Museum Island as seen from Strandbar Mitte. Photo: Günter Steffen

This is a post about payment systems, bottle deposit and pragmatism of the people from Berlin at one of the very original outdoor bars in the heart of the city of Berlin. What happened?

If you have ever been in Berlin, you remember the name of its central district, Berlin-Mitte (engl: Berlin-Centre). Alexanderplatz, the television tower and the Humboldt University of Berlin (where I studied) is located there. You get off the train at station Alexanderplatz and walk towards Hackescher Markt. In 10 minutes walking distance, you reach Monbijou Park. The park is bounded by the river Spree. Boats with waving tourists pass by. Right across the river, one finds the Museum Island with, among others, the Bode Museum.

Right at this place, the Beach Bar offers throughout the summer open air balls for Tango Argentino, Swing and various other dances. That’s why I’ve been there!

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Impressions from Romania

Visited places in Romania. full size


Back in Februray 2015, I was overtaken by school holidays: My French collaborators have been well prepared and prepared their vacation ahead of time. I didn’t want to be the lonely guy in the office and decided spontanously to leave as well: to Romania!

Why Romania? I used Kayak Explore to find cheap flights from Lyon, Saint-Etienne and Geneva. Porto would have been an option and surprisingly Bucharest even though its quite far away. Both countries I have never been to. A friend of mine from Bucharest was very enthusiastic about my intentions and rescheduled his week and took care for my accommodation. A week later, I arrived at Bucharest Otopeni Intl. Airport. I decided to take the bus to go down-town Bucharest . In the bus I met a father with his daughter that has worked for the German cruise company AIDA. Both are fluent in English. Also when I missed to get out of the bus, I could ask locals in English without any issues – and not only the young (Erasmus) generation.

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Model EU Highlights

EU Parliament in Strasbourg

I wrote already some posts about my recent experience as a participant in the 2015 edition of the Strasbourg Model European Union simulation. I got attributed the role of an ECR deputy from the UK.

During the conference, I took some notes on things I found remarkable. Altogether, we have been quite creative to make our one-week adventure as out-standing as possible. Sometimes, I thought that we have created an atmosphere close to the reality, sometimes it felt like a parody. I enjoyed both!

If you have been part of the adventure, what was your personal highlight? In the following, I will share mine with you (in no particular order).

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Model EU Impressions

The Schedule of an MEP

Parliament Session in the faction room of the European People’s Party in the European Parliament in Strasbourg. <div class=pull-right>Copyright by <a href=''>MEU Strasbourg on Facebook</a></div>
Parliament Session in the faction room of the European People’s Party in the European Parliament in Strasbourg.

It’s Sunday and it's already two weeks that I’ve been in Strasbourg. The simulation of the EU parliament has been great. I thought initially that I would blog every day of the week, but I resigned from this idea already after my post to day 1 in favour of sleeping at least five and a half hours per night which have been in any case too few.

I wont try to reproduce in detail what we have been doing. There has been an enormous schedule of sessions in the parliament and a social program in the evening. Usually, we got up by 6:20 am to pass the security at the European Parliament entrance before 8 am. We left the parliament around 6 pm. So what happened in between?

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Protectionnisme entre Étudiants

École normale supérieure de Paris.

Je ne comprends pas les associations étudiantes des établissements d'enseignement supérieur, c'est à dire, les universités et les grandes écoles. À mon avis, ils pratiquent souvent le protectionnisme qui augmente les inégalités. C'est dommage, car au sein de la société, il me semble que les étudiants sont plus engagés et progressistes. Voici mes arguments.

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MEUS follow-up: Google is evil!

Google HQ with Android statue: looking cute on purpose

This is a follow-up comment for my dear friends that have been discussing with me the Proposal for the EU Data Protection Regulation. In our parliament simulation, we had the honour to welcome a very strong participant representing a Google lobbyist that was hard to deal with (hi Lois ;)).

In my candidature, I chose the lobbyist role as my second choice, but I was eventually chosen to represent a British Conservatives politician in the ECR faction1. In this role, I mostly agreed with the Google lobbyists.

However, I’m a bit worried that some other participants might have been hoodwinked and really think that Google might be a honourable enterprise that fights for freedom of expression and wants all the best for the internet users.

Of course, there are cases where Google is doing a good job. One example might be the acquisition of the VP8 codec from On2 Technologies just to release the intellectual property (in this case: source code) under a free software license publicly accompanied with a irrevocable patent promise. Until today, this is part of the most efficient widespread video file format that serves a free exchange of videos and thus a more open internet.

Unfortunately, this is not the end of the story. Last week, the EU commissioner “Margrethe Vestager unveiled a formal complaint against Google, marking the most significant tech case since Brussels took on Microsoft a decade ago” (source: Financial Times).

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Model EU Preparation Day 1

Warm-up during lunch break. Photo by Sara D.
Warm-up during lunch break. Photo by Sara D.

It’s Sunday. After the confusion last evening if we should present us in the hotel lobby by 8h or 8:30h, if we would get breakfast or not, it turned out for the best: 8:30h and breakfast provided at the revenue.

I use the unexpected half enough to blog about the arrival and to gather my equipment that I won’t be able to use the other days for security reasons when we are in the European Parliament building.

I’m 5 minutes to late in the then empty lobby and realise that against my intuition there is not even a trace of the ~100 people.

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Model Simulation EU Strasbourg 2015 started!

The EU parliament in Strasbourg.

Hello everyone,

during the following 7 days, I will be at Strasbourg for the simulation of the European Parliament in the European Parliament. The adventure started yesterday and I will try to blog here regulary if I find some time (could be the last post already ;)) or tweet hashtag #MEUs2015.

Yesterday evening, we had our check-in, a short recap of important rules that have been distributed ahead of time per mail, but were assumed to haven’t been read, and finally the EuroFEAST, our international potluck.

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MEU Strasbourg 2015 Documents

best-practice (paper-free) reading of EU regulations

Dear participants of the Model European Union simulation 2015,

We have been asked to read quite a lot of papers. Instead of printing them out as you find them on the server. I generated some derivates that you hopefully find usefull.

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