Archives for February 2008

Schalttag – Schaltjahr – Schaltsekunde?

The 29th of Februar is a Leap Day or Schalttag – a day is which added to the calendar every four years to make up for the difference between the length of a normal year and the Earth’s orbit around the sun.

Thus the year 2008 is a Leap Year or Schaltjahr.

There are also Leap Seconds – Schaltsekunden – which compensate for the small difference that only modern atomic clocks can detect.

But did you know, that in some countries there used to be a 30th of February?

To find out where and to hear a simple explanation and a short discussion in German, listen to the podcast:

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Die Narren

Die Narren sind los! Die Narren is a name given to someone who entertains other people, much like a jester.

There are several versions as to where the word comes from. Some believe that it comes from the Latin word nario for turning one’s nose up at something, others claim it comes from narrare – to narrate or tell a story.

At carnival time the Narren refers to the people who dress up for processions and Sitzungen, and is also used as an adjective: närrisch.

There is also a saying in German “macht mich nicht närrisch” – don’t drive me mad!

To hear a simple explanation and a short discussion in German, listen to the podcast:

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Finding the nearest public toilet using SMS

I guess it had to come – I’ve tried out SMS systems for locating hotels, petrol stations and hotspots.  Now, one of the London Boroughs has started a system to help mobile phone users to locate the nearest public toilet.

Actually the area covered would appear to be still rather small, but if the rest of the capital joins in then it could be a useful resource.

But will it be any good in rural areas, where public toilets are often locked – the key being kept in local shops?

I’d like to suggest extending the system – to allow such toilets to be unlocked using the same SMS system.  Any vandalism would be easily traced back to the mobile phone owner that unlocked the toilet.

Does anyone else think that this is a good idea?

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