Skype Numbers in Germany – a warning

Skype running on a Symbian phoneI would like to warn other business users with German Skype Numbers about the fate that awaits them.

I have (had) several Skype accounts for my business, managed through the Skype Manager. Some of these are old enough to have subscriptions, that include numbers without extra charge.

Last year at the end of March I was informed that one of my numbers would expire, even though it was not due for renewal. After a length discussion with a chat agent, I was told that my subscription (which was also not due for renewal) no longer included a free number and I would need to purchase the same number separately. I was given the option of porting the number to another provider, which I tried to do. [Read more…]

The annual Fachkräftemangel

The annual computer show in Hannover, CeBIT, usually brings calls of “Fachkräftemangel” in the German news.  In fact, it has been that way for at least the past nine years – or so it seems.

“Fachkräftemangel” means a lack of qualified, trained – or what ever you want to call them – specialists.

And as in previous years, a whole debate starts up about taking on foreign workers to fill the jobs, that this apparently leaves unfilled.

Now, it is not as if I am against people from other countries working in Germany (which would make me rather hypocritical if I was), but I do question the reasoning behind it, both from a business and a social point of view. [Read more…]

Who invented the computer?

If you ask someone in the United Kingdom the question “who invented the computer?”, then one of the most likely answers is “Charles Babbage”.

But, as I was reminded last week during the opening speech of a “Computer Art” exhibition, people in Germany would give a different answer.  Most of them would probably answer with “Konrad Zuse”.

So why the difference?

A mechanical calculator - ©Can Stock Photo Inc. / friendlydragonOne reason might be that each country looks to its own citizens and their inventions.  The telephone is a similar example.  Whilst people in the UK and USA will tell you that it was Alexander Graham Bell who invented the telephone, most people in Germany – especially in the Taunus region – say that it was Philipp Reis.

The truth is usually that both Babbage and Zuse had a hand in the development of the computer at some time.  Babbage devised a machine that would perform calculations (“difference engine”) and later one that could be programmed using punch cards (“analytical engine”).  His machines were mechanical, and would be operated by turning a wheel on a crank shaft.

Zuse on the other hand [Read more…]

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