Barcelona photos from last week-end

Barcelona beach

I took the below pictures below last week-end in Barcelona. I went to see a Depeche Mode concert with my best friend Amandine and we all had a great time with Caroline, Agathe and Mehran.

Barcelona Beach House with view of boat through the window
Barcelona Beach House with view of boat through the window
Barcelona Port: Sunny Shadows
Barcelona Port: Sunny Shadows
Barcelona Beach: Ron the Sandman
Barcelona Beach: Ron the Sandman

If you like these you may want to check out the set of photos

Enjoy

Field of flowers

Just had a look over some photos I took when I went to Britanny a few weekends ago with Amandine. I came across some taken when we stopped in a field full of some vibrantly coloured flowers !

Field of flowers
Field of flowers
Field of flowers
Field of flowers: detail

Lovely :)

The Lion Cub from Harrods

a_lion_called_christian

Below is a multipart documentary about John Rendall and Anthony ‘Ace’ Bourke who purchased a lion cub from Harrods in 1969. They brought the cub up in Chelsea, London near Kings Road. Following a chance encounter with Virginia McKenna of the 1971 hit film ‘Born Free’ they were able to envisage taking the then young lion back to Kenya to release him to the wild.
It is a moving and true story that is well worth watching. The story has become a web phenomenon with the video having been viewed on YouTube by an estimated 50 million viewers worldwide!

Part 1

Part 2a

Part 2b

Part 3a

Part 3b

Part 4

The last video from above was the video that became viral on the Internet in 2008 (added is the encounter between the student that put it on YouTube and consequently met John Rendall and Ace Bourke).

Here is the extract from the book that was then published to relate in further details this extraordinary story about the two men and their lion cub:

a_lion_called_christian

In 2008 an extraordinary two-minute film clip appeared on YouTube and immediately became an international phenomenon. It captures the moving reunion of two young men and their pet lion Christian, after they had left him in Africa with Born Free’s George Adamson to introduce him into his rightful home in the wild.
A Lion Called Christian tells the remarkable story of how Anthony “Ace” Bourke and John Rendall, visitors to London from Australia in 1969, bought the boisterous lion cub in the pet department of Harrods. For several months, the three of them shared a flat above a furniture shop on London’s King’s Road, where the charismatic and intelligent Christian quickly became a local celebrity, cruising the streets in the back of a Bentley, popping in for lunch at a local restaurant, even posing for a fashion advertisement. But the lion cub was growing up–fast–and soon even the walled church garden where he went for exercise wasn’t large enough for him. How could Ace and John avoid having to send Christian to a zoo for the rest of his life? A coincidental meeting with English actors Virginia McKenna and Bill Travers, stars of the hit film Born Free, led to Christian being flown to Kenya and placed under the expert care of “the father of lions” George Adamson. Incredibly, when Ace and John returned to Kenya to see Christian a year later, they received a loving welcome from their lion, who was by then fully integrated into Africa and a life with other lions.

Originally published in 1971, and now fully revised and updated with more than 50 photographs of Christian from cuddly cub in London to magnificent lion in Africa, A Lion Called Christian is a touching and uplifting true story of an indelible human-animal bond. It is destined to become one of the great classics of animal literature.

The Google advert will call you

google_tel_ad1.gif

Part of my family live near Leeds, while my close family live in France. I was looking to compare prices for flights from Paris to Leeds and a little green thing caught my eye next to the results on Google.
My mum’s flight from Leeds to France a few weeks ago was just after the foiled terrorist attacks story and she complained how little passenger alert information she had found on the Jet2 site. So I thought I check their site to see if they had added anything…

First of all I thought Google had started putting company logos on ads but then I realised, it was an icon not a logo. So I hovered over it first but no title info appeared, then I clicked on it (PS: I added the red arrow to indicate what I’m talking about) :

google_tel_ad1.gif

When you click on the arrow a mini form appears where you can add your telephone number and Google (out of the kindness of their hearts) offer to put you in contact with Jet2 via telephone “for free” !

google_tel_ad2.gif

Wow, if it wasn’t past 12 o’clock at night I’d take them up on the offer just to give it a try !

Note also the fact that they suggest remembering your telephone number so that you don’t even have to type you number in next time they offer the same call-back service

This is certainly a post I’ll be tagging with the word ‘Trend’.

Ringing around the world at the right time

world_time_planner.jpg

If you travel a fair amount as I do and also need to ring people up who may live on the other side of the world it’s not always easy to remember what the best time to ring people is.

Well, fear no more, you’ll never make a mistake again with the World Clock Meeting Planner !

world clock meeting planner

As you can see you have the appropriate ‘business’ parts of the day and corresponding local time are in green (good to go). You also have in a nice yellow colour the parts of the day that are for family and good friends. If you’re ringing up in the red parts there had better be a good reason whoever it is ! ;)

Here I was checking out what time I could ring Sebastien in New York, while taking into account his hectic work day.

Biometric passport cracked

An article in the Guardian getting their source from Wired.com recounts how Lukas Grunwald, a German security consultant has been able to copy the data from biometric passports using 200 dollar equipment. Although the cloned data cannot apparently be modified, the so called unbreakable RFID tag technology seems less secure than expected.
The technology behind the “UK’s £415m scheme to load passports with information such as fingerprints, facial scans and iris patterns” doesn’t really seem too reassuring.
Gus Hosein from the London School of Economics and Privacy International, a U.K.-based group that opposes the use of RFID chips in passports:

“Is this what the best and the brightest of the world could come up with? Or is this what happens when you do policy laundering and you get a bunch of bureaucrats making decisions about technologies they don’t understand?”

The wired.com article goes into detail about how the data can be copied, but it is currently unlikely that the data could be tampered with. Grunwald demonstrated that since the machines used to read the biometric passports read one tag at a time it is possible to place another and trick the system into reading that one. Physical inspection would most likely uncover the trick though.
The article also refers to other security companies that have demonstrated that it is possible to read data regardless of the metal mesh system supposed to protect the chip from being read by anyone around the carrier. This is far more scary since it means a passport carrier in a crowd could be pinpointed or trigger a remote system placed near there by terrorists.

The main issue of the current system used, like those used in corporate and hotel security systems, is the lack of encryption of the data which enables brute force dictionary attacks in far too many cases. It seems absurd that goverment officials can sit back and scorn at such proof of flaws in the current system. The attitude of yes but even if they can do that there is still a physical check just seems irresponsable. The whole idea was to create a system that didn’t allow illegal cloning of the data stored on it. Now that has been cracked we have one last line of defense left! Wow that leaves me completely reassured…!

The coyote profits are set to rise

A Newsweek article discusses the adverse effect the US move to tighten border control is having, by making smugglers richer.
There is often a hot debate about what legalising certain drugs would have, but a tighter control can sometimes make things worse for all parties except the real bad guy : in this case the coyote.
One coyote, as they call the people that help smuggle immigrants illegally across the border, called Javier is quoted in the above article. He explains he makes about $40,000 a year (at the moment) smuggling people into the US.
It will most probably get better for Javier according to :

David Kyle, an expert on migrant trafficking at the University of California, Davis. “Now it’s too dangerous for people to attempt crossing alone.”

It’s pretty easy to understand that the increase in difficulty to cross the border will increase the cost for people wanting to get across and thus the coyote gets richer…

Remove the tourists from your photos

ferrari_tourist1.jpg

I was curious when I came across Snapmania’s Tourist Remover. I thought now how on earth can they guess what is behind the tourist and fill it in.
The system actually relies upon you having several (for a better result) photos of the same place. This way it takes the photos and uses each to patch together a final photo without the unwanted tourists walking by like here when you could be taking a picture of a Ferrari :

Ferrari with Tourist

Or like this :

Ferrari with Tourist 2

And after using the Tourist Remover Service, voilà, your final photo without a single tourist in site :

Ferrari without tourists

Check out the free service for yourself

Love at first sight in an airport; can be complicated

A young French man (why young, just a guess actually) called Kevin Amoros, seems to have met the love of his life in an airport. The problem is that he didn’t get her number or her name for that matter, but love “gives you wings” as they say in French. So he placed an advert through Google, hoping that someone could help him find her, or that the love of his life would read the Google ad! Read Oilman’s account of the event !

Travelling like Trump : you can !

Having just launched a web site in French about travel (mainly writing articles about it) I was interested to hear about Donald Trump having just launched a travel web site. The fact that Donald has fair amount of money to spend on this type of venture had my expectations high. Well the design is pretty slick but not that original and integration with service providers throughout the site is not really done in what I’d call great harmony but hey ! Looking through at for example hotels and choosing Paris there a two addresses The ‘Four Seasons Hotel George V’ and the ‘The Victoria Palace Hotel’. Funnily enough I attended a conference at the latter and can tell you it looks just as stunning as the photos show it to be. After having looked at this the slogan for the site hit home ‘Travel Trump Style’ which you don’t see straight away if you’re not careful since it is an animated picture in the top left corner. Well at least they didn’t do it with Flash, the easy solution that too many sites opt for and is just ridiculous sometimes when this effect is required…

Take a look at the site for yourself