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posts about daily life.

two days ago, alexander grothendieck, one of the greatest mathematicians of the 20th century, died. i’ve seen a small excerpt of his work in algebraic geometry and commutative algebra during my studies, phd and postdoc times. without his work and ideas, the theory of schemes wouldn’t be what it is today, and without it, the study of elliptic curves over rings might have taken quite a different road. (elliptic curves over rings are a topic i’ve been very interested in while working on my diplom thesis.) even though his active mathematical career stopped over 40 years ago, his work had an immense influence on generations of mathematicians.

rest in peace.

(a great obituary can be read at the telegraph.)

yesterday we visited the bernese oberland, to mürren. we first spontaneously took the cablecar up the schilthorn, known to many from the james bond movie on her majesty’s secret service. in fact, one terrace up there was built specifically for the film to allow a helicopter to land there. from the top of the schilthorn, one has a great view on the surrounding mountains, most prominently eiger, mönch and jungfrau. (a couple of years ago i was up there, visiting the jungfraujoch.)

afterwards, we took the cablecar back down to mürren, and took the funicular up to the allmendhubel. from there, we enjoyed the mountain view trail to the grütschalp train station. from the trail we had a great view on the big three mountains (eiger, mönch, jungfrau). it was a really nice hike with some diversion, from moorlands to ski slopes, forests to dry-stone walls and even some cows.

one and a half weeks ago, we visited the naturzentrum thurauen near flaach. the weather was wonderful, and after exploring the nature trail, enjoying all the frogs there and finally having a picnic, we continued to the rhine and continued via boat to eglisau.

yesterday, i was in our garden, doing a bit of work. namely, planting some lavender. two of the plants you can see here:

i haven’t planted anything (nor did any serious garden work, in fact) for quite some years now, but it was fun. (and i wasn’t forced to do it, either.)

the main purpose of the lavender is although not to just be a nice view – that’s only the secondary motive – but to make people realize that they shouldn’t walk through our garden and treat it as a kind of short-cut to get onto the hill. i hope this helps, and that not at some point some idiot just stamps my lavender to death.

(well, currently it also looks a bit broken; that was thanks to the heavy rain this night. i hope it will recover from it and hopefully start growing soon.)

yesterday, we were in winterthur, watching cyclope, a wonderful show combining tinguely-like apparatuses with acrobatics and music. it was really amazing! the show, inspired by jean tinguely’s le cyclop, is performed in an old industrial hall, which creates a wonderful atmosphere. the stage, which begins directly in front of the persons sitting in the first row, is a broken up amusement park, which seems to be only inhabited by a (involuntary?) clown. when he’s eventually fed up by his surroundings and wants to leave, suddenly hell breaks loose. it was just amazing! a wide range of acrobatics, acting and music blending perfectly in the huge metal colossus, which turns more and more into a face with, well, only one eye. a pretty heavy piece of metal, so to say.

we were lucky, and our friends, who arrived very early, were offered an upgrade to sit more in the front, and so we ended up in row 9 (instead of something much higher). it looks like it wasn’t exactly sold out, and they tried to at least fill the first rows so that it doesn’t look too sad. which is really, really shameful, since such a great show deserves a much larger audience! so in case you’re somewhat close to winterthur, be sure to watch cyclope while it is still shown! (until end of may, apparently.) after that, it apparently will be shown in july in basel as well (though outdoors there). it is really something which should be seen live, and not on video or tv or anything similar.

already two and a half weeks ago, scott vanstone died at age of 66. scott intensively pushed, commercialized and invested in elliptic curve cryptography from its beginnings on. he also co-founded the ecc conference series, which i attended eight times.

rest in peace, scott.

posted in: daily life math

today was my first day of my new job as a software engineer at dybuster, a small zürich based software company producing learning software treating dyslexia and dyscalculia.

quite a different job than before, but still a very nice and friendly environment, and a very noble objective in my opinion :-)

today, it was pretty sunny and quite warm outside, and we decided to play with our cats (and our neighbor’s cats):

a month ago, there was still snow outside:

our cats and our neighbour’s cats clearly enjoyed the snow:

part of it was also playing in the snow:

two weeks ago, i received my first smartphone ever: the fairphone. (which now makes me one of two fairphone owners i personally know of.) unpacking it was quite an experience, as the fairphone team paid a lot of attention to small details:

while unpacking i was accompanied by some of the cats, though they didn’t seem to have any interest in the phone itself:

well, the phone’s protective film told me to open it up, and so i did. after all, i own that phone. everything important is labelled:

exchaning the battery or adding up to two sim cards is easily possible. after re-inserting the battery and turning the phone on, i was greeted with a nice introductionary video. (video playback works fine, apparently.) the main home screen greets me with a large button to “enjoy some peace”, a nice mode disabling all network capabilities for an interval which can be set, allowing you to get away from emails, phone calls and other messages. there aren’t too many apps installed; in particular, all google apps (play store, maps, …) are missing, but can be installed by clicking a button. well, i thought about it for some time, but then decided against it, at least for now. there’s no need to start spilling my data around the world…
one of the first things i enabled, though, was the phone encryption – something like a hard disk encryption, i guess. by password. obviously, since typing in passwords on a phone is quite painful in the beginning, the password is not optimal yet, but that will change as soon as my typing capabilities got better :) (let’s see if they use something like luks, which would allow me to just type in a new password, or whether the whole thing has to be re-encrypted…)
anyway, since smartphones are quite low-security products, i’m not sure yet for what exactly i will use it after all… but it definitely won’t get full access to my server and other computers’ data, which probably should include email as well.