The First Time I Experienced True “Project Management”.

During the Berlin PM Camp, I told the stories of four projects from my vintage timethat were very important for me. And I also announced that I was going to write about all of them in the IF blog.

Project # 3

So here comes my story of the third project:

Fernschreiber (Siemens T100) - eingeführt im Jahre 1958 - moderner Nachfolger des T50

Fernschreiber (Teletype Machine (Siemens T100 – 1958), the modern successor of T50

After my change of positions inside Siemens away from UB D WS DF 131, I shared the technological responsibility for a relevant and absolutely innovative huge project called DISPOL with a new colleague working with whom soon became my true pleasure.

Siemens had won the bid for replacing the telex network of the Bavarian Police Force by a trans-data network based on modern circuit switching. At the same time, the card index boxes were to be replaced by a database in a central host (mainframe – it was a BS 1000 system). Also, modern display units were to substitute the old teletype machines.

That was roughly between 1979 and 1981. I was still a regular Siemens employee, but I had just fled the “bureaucracy” that had started at the development department of Transdata/PDN, looking to have better luck with sales at UB D V S 3. That was short for “department data processing, sales and special projects 3“.

See also my article on Vintage Projekt #2.

My move from the laboratory to the special projects necessitated that I now had to leave the private environment I had learned to love so much and found so nice at the Ortenburgstrasse (near Siemens Hofmannstrasse) and go to Neuperlach. And it did not take long for me to understand why the new building near the Neuperlach S-Bahn station was spitefully called “data sibirsk” or “Lego City” by many people.

For me, it was even worse: I had to move into a cold skyscraper surrounded by a fenced area that reminded me of barracks. Concrete and cold high-tech were the dominant features. And I also felt billeted. The only thing that looked halfway human in the entire areas was a fruit vendor who offered his goods on a stall inside the compound.

From day one, I felt uncomfortable in the concrete bunker that only looked colourful from the outside but was rather grey inside. Mind you, this was regardless of the fact that you actually could still open the windows and that there were quite a lot of green areas inside the fenced region. Yet, even the green was domesticated in a very prosaic way – it did not look as nice as you would, for instance, imagine it on castle grounds. Instead, it was techno-utilitarian.

But I was lucky. After all, I belonged to “special projects” – and they did not happen in the office. They happened outside, in the world. And since I was quasi equipped with privileged information, I felt like I was my own master and a little king.

Consequently, I preferred to mostly be where the customer resided (Bavarian State Office of Criminal Investigation in the Maillinger Straße) and to hardly ever be available in Neuperlach, except when it was absolutely unavoidable. To me, the rooms at the police station, regardless of all the very strict security regulations looked a lot more human than the new Siemens AG high-tech venue.

My flight from the “laboratory” that had fallen victim to bureaucracy had been a success and now I was allowed to experience real life. And the project DISPOL was a great thing. A total innovation. Together with the excellent partners of the Bavarian Police, we were a wonderful team. We cooperated with a maximum of efficiency and at eye-level. But I have to say that the project was already well under way at the time I became part of it.

And there were a number of birth defects – in all imaginable dimensions of the project. Consequently, the first thing to do was overcome a series of hurdles. We had a totally stupid design which had already been partly implemented (they wanted to realize a fixed system, which was totally against the dynamic connection technology), there were diverse architectonic mistakes with both the hardware and the software that had to be corrected quickly (systems with no local storage for quick reload, inadequate testing environment,…), the total absence of a component that had been promised (one example is the telex port which was quite good at doing the protocols of the postal service, but not for the police, who were “electronically” different) and many other “normal” challenges you meet when you are doing something for the first time.…

And there was also a requirement in the contract that was rather hard to meet. Because the new product DISPOL was supposed to replace a teletype machine network. And these kinds of teletype machines had (at least in Bavaria) an availability of a hundred per cent over years, if not decades. In other words: they NEVER broke down.

And, of course, that is what the customer expected of the new solution, as well. Justly?! Since, (at the time), Siemens was, of course, not stupid, they had negotiated in the contract that the system at least did not have to be a hundred per cent available. Once in a while, it was allowed to break down. Perhaps they had a hunch that electronic data processing had its limits. But then, it said “once in a while”!

Consequently, it had been written in the contract that the product was only considered functioning if the system ran a certain amount of time (I think it was two weeks) without interruption and that the “down-time” during this time had to be only very few hours (I seem to remember it was only one).

The only problem was that re-starting our computers also took a little more than one hour. Which meant that even if one single system shut down, the two weeks started anew and thus all attempts at delivering the product were in vain after a few days, or at the least a few days before the deadline…
(Note: we solved even this problem. If you are interested, I will gladly tell you how).

Basically, there was always a shut-down, because we had a number of sporadic and hard-to-reproduce errors, one of which would always occur shortly before those four weeks were over. Well, we just had to isolate them individually. But then, isolating errors takes time. Because you have to implement traps that catch the error and make it reproducible. And due to the contract, we did not have this sort of time.

Here is a note that might be interesting:
The test was designed in such a way that the normal police procedures ran twice during the acceptance phase. The real run with the real data continued with the old technology of the well-functioning telex network. But then, the original data (punch strips) ran on the new system 1:1 after a little time had elapsed. For testing. To keep up appearances, critical data were made anonymous and less drastic, but this was not always possible. And (of course), nothing happened. We all knew that those were highly sensitive data and that we had a lot of responsibility. Today, the gentlemen of data security would probably make a huge ado about it.

But back to the topic: 
The stability problem of the system only arose during the end phase of the project (which had already gone on for quite a long time). Due to the aforementioned factors, there had been some problems earlier, as well.

Consequently, our management panicked. That was also the reason why they had made me join the project. Then they understood that there was a lot left to do and we got additional resources: consultants and young persons who had been sitting around somewhere in the concern and had not known what to do with their time. And:
A project manager was installed!

Let me first tell you about my experiences with the consultants and young persons, later about the project manager.

The Consultants

There were several of them. They were supposed to help us, but that was not really what they usually did. I particularly remember two colleagues from the PSE (that is the Austrian Siemens daughter for software development). One of them was from Vienna and the other from Graz. They both held doctorial titles, one of them in psychology, the other in physics.

They were both really nice persons. They were both not happy to be far from home. The one missed beautiful Vienna, the other Graz. To me, they both seemed extremely intelligent, if not ingenious. Both had first names beginning with an M. and both had not much knowledge about the system, and even less an idea what a good code should look like.

Yet I never told them, because I really rather liked them. Consequently, we let them play along, which they both did quite well. Except that they never really made their way to the middle of the project. One of the reasons was that, in this project, they were like mercenaries, “away on a construction job”. Which actually does nothing to increase your motivation and readiness to make a huge effort. Consequently, their added value was not really relevant.

The young people

I remember a young lady and a young gentleman who were added to the group. Both of them were terribly young (early twenties, at the time, I was not yet 30). They both had trained in the IT sector somewhere at Siemens.

They were both highly motivated, listened carefully, did what they were told and thus they quickly understood the technology and their task. I assume that they were also quite cheap – especially compared to the two consultants with their doctorial titles – and they contributed enormously towards the project success. Incidentally, they both went on to become a success story. But not at Siemens.

Now the only thing remaining to talk about is

The Project Manager

The project manager was an earnest person who always wore ties and struck me as extremely nervous from day one. Said nervousness was easy to understand for me: after all, he was supposed to solve a problem he knew basically nothing about. He sat in our room a lot of the time writing reports. The rest of the time, he had meetings in Neuperlach. His role was something like being a translator between the worlds of management and the project that consisted of technology. Since he did not know the language of technology, he never understood the project. I assumed that he did not know the language of management, either. After all, during my time at the laboratory as a supplier for a huge project, I had learned some of it. He was a lonesome wanderer between two worlds.

Our project manager had a strange voice and consequently, he was soon stuck with a nickname (Schnarrie). The idea had come from our two ladies (W. and C.), who did a good job with the coordination and customer service. Perhaps because they were angry about their roles having been cut down.

For us, Schnarrie had a double positive effect. Firstly, we no longer needed to tell management why we did what we did – which had cost Hans and me, and sometimes also our two ladies, quite some time and nerves. And he also had a budget! Which was something totally new for us. Consequently, we managed to celebrate several “victory parties” on the Siemens budget when we had found a sporadic bug or some such.…

So much about this. Incidentally, the project DISPOL was a huge success and ran for decades to the greatest satisfaction of the Bavarian Police Force. And in its wake, it brought quite a few good customers to Siemens AG, as well.

(Translated by EG)

Das Grauen der fossilen Welt nach Transfer Patras-Venedig auf einer nicht minder stinkenden griechischen Fähre.

The terror of the fossil world after a transfer from Patras to Venice on a very smelly Greek ferry.

In this article, Jörg Schindler wrote down a few ideas on the question that sprang to mind recently.

He talks about pure battery cars (E-cars) that get their energy through re-loading the battery from the common energy outlets.

Basically, there is only one possible conclusion – not just after reading this article. We have to drastically re-think and change our mobility. However, in our society, change can only be done from the bottom, for instance through grass root movements.

On January, 4th and 5th, 2016, we start our first barcamp for “Active Mobility in Everyday Life“ in Unterhaching – AktMobCmp.

So here is the article by Jörg Schindler:

What e-cars contribute towards reducing emission and making us less dependent upon crude oil.

A change of course in the propulsion technology and the fuels of the automobile industry is inevitable for various reasons:

  1. The cities literally suffocate under the exhaust fumes of car traffic, not just in China.
  2. In the long run, kissing oil good-bye – and consequently kissing the combustion motor good-bye – is inevitable, because less and less fuel will be available.
  3. For reasons of climate protection, this farewell should happen pretty soon. Consequently, a change of technology from the combustion motor to electrically powered vehicles is necessary and makes sense.

There is no doubt that it must be our goal to drastically reduce the number (and/or the use) of cars powered by oil quickly and considerably. E.-cars will emit no harmful substances locally, thereby making a contribution towards improving the air quality at the place of their use. Yet the global emissions are not zero.

Instead, they depend on how the electric energy has been produced. In Germany, electricity is still produced with an enormous fossil percentage (hard coal, brown coal and natural gasoline), which causes an enormous locally effective pollution in the power station, as well as globally effective emissions of greenhouse gas. With the current mixture of energy production in Germany, e-cars are “emission elsewhere vehicles”. Currently, the greenhouse emission is not reduced.

With respect to availability of resources and greenhouse gas emission, e-cars only make sense if they come with a profound change of primary electric energy sources from fossil to renewable.

The positive effect of e-cars when it comes to the quality of life in the urban environment

Apart from less emission at the place of utilization: no positive effect. In the public domain, motorized individual traffic is still domineering, regardless of the e-cars. And its political priority continues. The plan to open bus lanes for e-cars even exacerbates this tendency. As before, cars dominate the public domain. Self-induced chances of mobility for children and persons who do not own a car do not improve. There is no promotion – let alone priority – of active mobility.

The social and industry-political aspects

For persons who do not own a car, the transition to e-cars is not an improvement in their chances of mobility. The discussion about promoting the sale of battery cars is motivated by industry-political aspects – it is desired that said transition should not hurt the industry. It is more likely that the goal is reached if you calculate taxes according to carbon dioxide emission.

Additionally, it is obvious that tax reductions for Diesel fuel should be abolished (as they now plan to do in France by 2020). A radical banishment of cars with health-hazardous emissions in inner cities is also necessary.

The list of necessary measures can be added to almost at random (for instance: speed limit). Besides, we already have relatively clean small conventional cars (for instance those that emit less than 95 g of carbon dioxide per 100 km). But they say it cannot be expected from those who drive business cars, from the average car driver and from the German automobile industry to use them.

The proposed 5,000 Euros in subsidies for those who buy an e-car would suffice to give three Hartz-IV recipients a Pedelec, which would considerably improve the mobility chances for deprived groups. (It might be worth thinking about why these kinds of alternatives for spending public money are not even considered).

Promoting e-cars more and more aggressively (since said promotion apparently is a failure on the market), those solutions already possible and currently much more effective are concealed through the one-sided propagation of tomorrow’s solution. In doing so, these currently possible solutions are ignored and kept from influencing the current political debate. Consequently, things that could and should be done immediately and would have a far more positive effect are left undone.

Trapped in the paradigm of fossil traffic

As before, the general agreement is: it is better to be motorized than not. It is desired that the structures remain unchanged, only the technology has to improve. Sustainability as an add-on (just like whipped cream on the cake).

You will always see the same pattern: there are no explicit political alternatives. Instead, technological problems are re-defined and a solution has to be found for them: e-cars as the solution for all urban environmental traffic problems.

Another example for repressing political solutions: a possible (re-)structuring of the public (street) domain is not made the topic of any discussions – except when it can absolutely no longer be avoided, like on the Munich Rosenheimer Strasse.

The necessary transition to the post-fossil mobility is a lot more all-encompassing.

Clean power production and the transition to renewable energy sources for motorized traffic are a matter of necessity. But it is not sufficient to solve all the problems of modern traffic.

Reduced availability of crude oil and energy that will be more expensive in the long run will increase the local resistance, i.e. the economic, time and emotional effort necessary for getting from location A to location B with motorized means of transportation on the street, on water and in the air. Through the increased local resistance, what is nearer will become closer and what is farther away will become more remote. Consequently, reaching places in the vicinity will become more important than reaching remote places.

There is no doubt that efficient ways of travelling are a necessity in this context. But it is just as important to have efficient spatial patterns and urban structures that minimize the realization of human mobility needs. This structural change is made possible and promoted by active mobility. To the same extent as this happens, the necessity of motorized individual traffic will decrease.

Why active mobility is our topic and why it is the right topic

Short-range mobility in urban structures with short distances is the solution of many traffic and environmental problems if the distance can be and is covered on food or by bike. That is what we mean when we say active mobility.

It will increase the quality of your stay and the safety in the public domain. It creates equal mobility chances for all groups in society. And it will promote the physical and psychological health of all humans.

Neubiberg, October, 28th, 2015

About the author:
For many years, Jörg Schindler was managing director of LBST (Ludwig-Bölkow-Systemtechnik) and now he is director of ASPO Deutschland e.V.. He has spent many years discussing future relevant topics in the energy sector. For instance, he is also well-known for his numerous publications and as co-author of a series of technological books.

Many thanks to our guest author Jörg Schindler.

(Translated by EG)

Do come to the barcamp Active Mobility in Everyday Life !
The picture is my own work. I hereby authorize everybody to use it under common licence following the rules therein.

A conversation with those beyond …
Wienaktuellfoto Of course, Gottlieb Bissinger is touring Vienna on Halloween Night, too! However, at three in the morning, he is rather confused when arriving at a totally dilapidated suburb railway station. Strange figures are about. He is not even sure yet if he will be able to catch a train to St. Pölten at this time of night. So far, he was neither able to see the platforms, nor any of the ticket sales booths. As usual when he knows no advice, he dials Mother’s number – and the connection to beyond actually works:

• Hello, Mum! It is me, Gottlieb! I am glad to catch you so late. But then, they do not sleep where you are, do they?

• ……………………………………….

• Well – you know what it is like with my sleeping habits? Three in the morning is the time when I usually call it a day! It always annoys Elfi if I want to nibble at her until three in the morning. …
• ……………………………………….

• Elfi? Who is Elfi? It is my new St. Pölten Girl!
• ……………………………………….

• No – Mama, Elfi is not one of our kind.
• ……………………………………….

• Elfi’s parents are true “No Vamp People”, totally boring salad eaters with no spirit to do anything hilarious – and sitting in front of the TV set every night, too. And, of course, at midnight, they lie in their beds, instead of, like our kind, still roaming around looking for a snack of blood …
• ……………………………………….

• Exactly, Mum – instead of a few nice drops of blood, her old man constantly drinks beer when sitting in front of the TV set – ’Schwechater’!
• ……………………………………….

• No, Mum, there is certainly no reason for you in the beyond to worry about me. These are very decent people! Just like you know them – the ’No Vamp People’: friendly, clean, without fantasy – and terribly industrious. Actually, they are really busy from dawn to dusk…
• ……………………………………….

• What? Well – you can say that again, Mum! Since those ’No Vamps’ sleep all night through, they certainly do not know what to do with all their energy in the daytime. So they ’busy themselves’ like crazy! Not like our kind, who are a little slow in the daytime. Especially after, again, you chose such a ’bloody moron’ with a poor cholesterol level.

• ……………………………………….
• Mum! This LDL cholesterol is really bad news! You would not believe how your head will just explode on the day after such an ’LDL bomb’. It really makes you want to screw off your head, put it in the next corner and leave! Really! These young over-eaten ’girlies ’ have no idea what they are inflicting on us vampires with their stupid ’fast food’ and the resulting crazy cholesterol levels…
• ……………………………………….

• Yes – you are absolutely correct, Mum! Basically, what they are doing at McDonalds with all this fast food on a daily basis is a threat to vampire health! You really should talk to the authorities about sending control brigades!
• ……………………………………….

• But Mum, that is ridiculous! I am sure you can still remember what happens with this kind of attempt at uproar in Austria? It will instantly be controlled by those ’up ahead’. Who in Vienna is ever interested in a bunch of blood suckers? If we wished those ’up ahead’ to wake up, we would probably have to sail the Neusiedler See on a rusty skiff and throw ourselves overboard. …
• ……………………………………….

• Sorry, Mama – you are right, that was truly over the top! I admit it and state the opposite! But you see, I am currently terrible tensed up…
• ……………………………………….

• Why tensed up? Well – as a vampire of today, you have all sorts of problems far worse than those stupid cholesterol levels! What do you think, Mum, how inconvenient, for instance, are all those shitty cable hanging from young person’s ears practically day and night, just because they have to spend all the time gallivanting on some App with their smartphones or damaging their brains with pop music …
• ……………………………………….

• No! Mum, you cannot know about those cables at all! A few years ago, they were not even invented …
• ……………………………………….

• You are asking why those cables are bad news, Mum? Well, it is clear, isn’t it? You basically can no longer bite into any neck without getting a cable between your teeth!
• ……………………………………….

• Exactly, Mum – with our long fangs, we get stuck all the time! And then, if those nervous creatures keep moving all the time while you bite them, then those cables will wind themselves around our canines like a lasso and you are practically imprisoned! Can you imagine how stupid that is?
• ……………………………………….

• No – Mum, but if you run, you will almost always pull the earphones from the ears of the ’girlie’ you have been biting, and the smartphone from her hand …
• ……………………………………….

• Mum, now you are being ’topnotch ’. You cannot imagine how loud those young ’materials’ yell. It sounds like they are being butchered! Even after you have sucked an entire litre of blood from them! Mum, they simply never get exhausted! They are filled with ’Red Bull’ to the brim!
• ……………………………………….

• No – the girlies do not mind so much being bitten! Except if you spoil their t-shirt! But the true catastrophe is when they are no longer online. That is when your problems begin!
• ……………………………………….

• Exactly – but if, whenever you bite, you get more cable than blood into your mouth, it is hardly a surprise if something like this happens, is it?
• ……………………………………….

• Mum! You in the beyond really have no idea what happens down here! Unless I watch like a hawk, these bold cunts will start filming me as soon as I so much as touch their skin. And then I will find myself on YOUTUBE before even having finished the meal and wiped my mouth! It is really weird, Mum …
• ……………………………………….

• Yes! And I am sure you can easily imagine how Elfie gets ballistic on seeing me on YOUTUBE sucking someone else’s blood! In almost all cases, she gets the heart piercer and then I am dead for the remainder of the week …
• ………………………………….

• No – it is definitely not nice, Mum, really not nice…
• ……………………………………….
• But please do not again go on about how I should have stayed at home in Natternbach and restricted myself to exclusively feed on Annerose …
• ……………………………………….

• Mum! – I told you a hundred times that a farm girl is not the right thing for me! I definitely would not wish to bite into a sweaty neck smelling of cow dung all the time – Mum, this is not what I want. In fact, it repels me. …
• ……………………………………….

• But Mum, what do you think how – compared to this – superhuman all those foreigners dancing around the Vienna Kärntnerstrasse at night in droves smell!
• ……………………………………….
• Yes – well, the aroma is of all nations you can imagine. …
• ……………………………………….

• And when one of those Japanese or Chinese girls is standing in front of the newly whitewashed St. Stephen’s Cathedral looking up, taking a picture and offering her white neck, then this is true paradise! If you manage to snap away at that moment!
• ……………………………………….

• Mum – what do you mean not to commit a sin? It is true paradise!
• ……………………………………….

• Well, you are right about that, Mum – naturally, Elfi is also paradise – but in a totally different way!
• ……………………………………….

• Why? Well, of late, Elfi seems to be creeping around like a heavenly ghost!
• ……………………………………….

• Well, you know my healthy blood appetite, don’t you? Just like Papa, but not everybody is up to it for a really long time – in fact, my next to last one, Herta, had the same problem!
• ……………………………………….

• Yes, truly a pity! Elfi is really a nice girl. Bloodless but nice!!
• ……………………………………….

• Well, Mum, it is quite possible that you will meet her today. After all, I have a terrible ’blood lust’ right now – and who can say if she survives it!
• ……………………………………….

• Well, now I really have to go! In this strange waiting room, some people already start giving me strange sideways glances! I am afraid if I keep talking, they will want my blood! But be not afraid. I am certainly fine! Bye, Mum – and treat Elfi nicely, she really deserves it. Bye!

(Translated EG)

I took the picture from Google

Roland Dürre
Monday October 26th, 2015

“Change Management“

Zeitgenössische Ganesha-Statue

Contemporary Ganesha Statue

Also one of those modern anti-words. In a nutshell, it means the struggle against the concept or principle:

“This is how we always did it!“

Because you assume that, in order to “improve” something, you have to change it. Yet you do not want to leave change to the evolutionary process or to “the masses”. Since there is no trust that employees or the citizens really know how to do “change” (basically, citizens and employees are mostly considered more stupid than they actually are), you suppress “grass-root movements”. Instead, you want change “from the top”, forced by managers and controlled or somehow manipulated.

This idea makes me shudder. Because in my understanding, the term manager more and more refers to an at least slightly insane priest who thinks he has supernatural powers and can make miracles happen through witchcraft.

The miracle expected by “Change Management” is innovation. Even though nobody really knows what innovation is and how it is done. It goes without saying that the magician and his witchcraft, too, will not work. If, by accident (or through other influences) something actually happens, then the magician, naturally, willingly takes the credit and the “cash”.

I often was frustrated because of the “this is how we always did it”. Regardless, I never saw it totally negative. After all, it contains some kind of conservative warning that reminds you of the fact that innovation will always have a negative destruction in its wake, even if said destruction is creative. Consequently, the often criticized sentence admonishes us to also see and answer for the consequences, regardless of the cry for necessary change. If you see the positive side of it, you get the appeal to see a challenge with all its consequences.

A short time ago, I remembered some other sentences I also often get to hear, for instance:

“Where would we end up if everybody did this?“

“What does he think he is doing …?“

More often than not, these sentences are uttered without much reflection. I sadly miss any positive connotation. Even more, I discover a “moral” judgement. I also heard this sentence quite a few times in my own enterprise, for instance when young employees spontaneously integrated rules that were quite questionable. The first reaction of the administrative department whose job it was to see to it that everybody sticks by the rules was doubt. Of course, mostly they did not first answer the important question: “WHY was all this done?“

Even though, basically, nobody can say why in the “social systems” created by people rules and regulations always exponentially multiply and develop lives of their own as a matter of course. Until they control the system. I like calling this effect “bureaucrazy”.

And when “bureacrazy” has us by the neck it is really high time to “break with patterns”. Even if it takes a lot of courage and you might actually get frightened. But still, it is important that, whenever we #break_with_patterns, we can answer the question: WHY!

A short time after his inauguration, our former Federal President, Mr. Roman Herzog allegedly said that the first thing one should do is abolish all laws with uneven numbers. And then look and see which laws you actually miss. You could easily re-introduce them. And then you should do the same thing with the laws that have even numbers.

Some way or other, that is also a good metaphor for #breaking_with_rules.

(Translated by EG)

About the picture:
I took the picture from a Wikipedia article on Ganesha. It is a work in its own right by onoikobangali.

Roland Dürre
Tuesday October 20th, 2015

If Blog Explosion

Felix von Leitner auf dem Podium während des Chaos Communication Congress, 2009

Felix von Leitner sitting on the podium during the 2009 Chaos Communication Congress.

Two weeks ago, the number of IF Blog readers exploded. Normally, we have a nice three-digit number of readers every day. Suddenly, it ranged in the high four-digit region for a few days. The reason was simple: In Fefe’s Blog – the blog of  Felix von Leitner (fefe), which is probably one of the most frequently read in this country, there was a Link  to IF-Blog.

This is how it might have happened:
Our guest author Hans Bonfigt and fefe have known each other for a long time. In former times, they crossed swords quite frequently in Usenet. And a good enmity binds you just as much as a nice friendship. Enmity and friendship probably are not too far apart, anyway, as long as you respect the other party.

By some, blog.fefe.de is called the “Boulevard Press for Nerds“. This is quite a remarkable comparison. Because there are similarities, such as a very striking use of language (more like a “restricted code”) and a one-sided tendency – even if said tendency is very much to my liking, no (few) taboos.…

To summarize it all, I would say both are mouthpieces that are extremely good at proving prejudices. . But there are also quite a few differences between the two:

The Bild-Zeitung is a business empire. With many editors and employees, no end of capital behind the scenes, a refined logistics and sales concept, in short: a huge Journaille machine. And it also has considerable political influence, because quite a few politicians probably determine what to say with already more or less an eye on the BILD- Zeitung.

Felix von Leitner is basically all working by himself. No printing press rotates for him. At most, there might be the occasional small server. His is always offering his opinions for “free”. As a general rule, the BILD costs money, except if you pinch it. You only get a free copy on very special days, such as October, 1st, when it is distributed to almost all German households. On those days, it will deliver two- or one-page free adverts of the huge German business elite, such as VW or Allianz, which make at least me run away.

But to make up for it, fefe has a “crowd of nerds” (I count myself upon them) backing him who provide him with exciting links. All that is left for him to do is a little judgement, combination and comments. And then his “newspaper” is ready for publication.

The BILD-Zeitung used to be the dominating German print medium. I cannot really make an estimate about the influence of the institution BILD on our society and politics, but I think it is still relevant today. BILD might well also have determined the result of quite a few elections in this country. There is no doubt that it influenced a number of decisions.

I assume that this might change in the future. It will be exciting to observe – BILD or blog? 
For all my friends, I recommend reading Fefe’s Blog. It is definitely preferable to BILD.



I took the picture from Wikipedia. It was originally uploaded by Flickr.com and transferred to here through Flickr upload bot by Tullius (disucussion). At that time – 16:10, August, 5th, 2011 (UTC) – it was set free by Flickr under the Creative-Commons Licence „Namensnennung – Weitergabe unter gleichen Bedingungen 2.0 generisch“. „Fefe“ is licenced by melle. Lizenziert under CC BY-SA 2.0 through Wikimedia Commons –

Today, I do a little advertising for the Torturmtheater in Sommerhausen.

Between October, 8th and December, 20th, 2015, they perform a wonderful play – always between Tuesdays and Fridays at 8 p.m., on Saturdays at 4.30 p.m. and 7 p.m. and additionally on the advent Sundays, also at 4.30 p.m. and 7 p.m..

The name of the play is:
Our Woman

and it is by

Eric Assous

Directed by Christine Neuberger, the cast are 
Joachim BauerAlexander Diepold and Armin Hägele.

“Our Women” is a piece with not a single women playing in it. And yet, women are (more than) omnipresent.

The head of the Torturmtheater is Angelika Relin. Again and again, she manages to bring great plays onto the small stage. I was lucky enough to be present at the premiere performance on October, 8th – and it was again wonderful. Consequently, I can only recommend the short overnight vacation to the theatre, if you spend the night at Sommerhausen. And here is a secret for you: the best way to get there is by train to Winterhausen. From there, you only have to walk 800 metres across the river Main bridge until you reach the small Sommerhausen theatre.

Here are a few pictures that show the immense dynamics of the play.


The round of card players starts quite poorly – one of them is late and confesses to having committed murder.


A long night with many stories and alcohol take their toll.


The solidarity among friends will get the upper hand.


But then, something happens to bring everything off balance again.

If you need any advice about your theatre trip to Sommerhausen (travelling there, accommodations, food, sightseeing,…), you are welcome to ask me. And here is there you can order tickets.

(Translated by EG)

Roland Dürre
Friday October 16th, 2015

Five Weeks to Go until #PMCampDOR

pmcamp-logo-dornbirnLate in 2010, a small group of entrepreneurs, nearly all of whom incidentally were also bloggers, met. They shared an idea and wanted to try organizing a project management barcamp. They called it PM-Camp (PM short for project management). The persons involved were: Kornelia, Eberhard, Jens, Marcus, Stefan and yours truly.

It was our intention to host a free meeting of persons, entrepreneurs, leaders and all kinds of “managers” in order to exchange experience and knowledge beyond conferences and workshops. Totally democratic and at eye-level. With a good mixture of female and male, young and old. In 2011, also in November, we had the first PM Camp world-wide in Dornbirn.

Time went by in a hurry. In exactly five weeks, the fifth Dornbirn PM-Camp will start. That means we celebrate a jubilee! In fact, we are a little proud of it. We are also proud about a movement having sprung from the first PM Camp. It is now thriving in many European places with local PM Camps.

For all of you, it is now about time to order tickets. Otherwise you might end up empty-handed. Because PMCampDOR is definitely something like the mother of all PM Camps – where many wish to attend.

This time around, we chose the metaphor “breaking with patterns” as our impulse. Consequently, the hashtags are #PMCampDOR and #musterbrechen.

🙂 Maybe will become and will turn into … Because you never know what is going to happen on a PM Camp.

Naturally, the Dornbirn organizational team wants to celebrate the jubilee with a particularly nice and successful PM Camp. Consequently, we want to make it especially easy for our “newbies”, meaning those guests attending their first PM Camp or even their first barcamp to really get under way. So I now point out to you a series of articles I wrote as early as 2013/2014 – but it is certainly still up-to-date. In these articles, I am telling you what happens during a PM Camp.

Here are the links for the five articles:

My continuing education story – personality promotion, seminars, workshops barcamps

(how I first was introduced to the barcamp idea.)

barcamps und PM-Camp (2) – why they are such a success.
(because they are great fun and all participants are happy when they go home.)

barcamps und PM-Camp (3) – typology and sessionsbarcamps and PM-Camp (3) –

(what kinds of sessions are there?)

barcamps and PM-Camp (4) – Twittering is part of it .

(why PM Camps and social media complement each other so well.)

barcamps und PM-Camp (5) – rules

(on a barcmp, you can have freedom, because people behave socially responsible.)

Another article is a general one:

The Story of and guideline for a PM Camp

(and barcamps in general)

And for all of you – not just for the newbies – I would once again wish to point out our values as we summarized them in our guidelines.  You will also find them in document.

I am sure it will be useful for you to take a second look at these materials. And perhaps you have a few recommendations for change, modification, improvement? The #PMCampDOR will definitely be the right stage to discuss all those things.

And here is a short Video on PM-Camp.

- also in the name of the Dornbirn organizational team
(Translated by EG)

Sorry, this entry is only available in German.

When I wrote this heading, I thought of the wonderful song by Ina Deter. It fits quite well, because, after all, most of the concern heads, especially in Germany, are (still) men. So here is her song:

I dedicate this article to my friend Hans Bonfigt. His last article as a guest author brought an immense number of new IF Blog readers in its wake. This is how it happened: Hans has a “historic enemy“, Felix von Leitner. Even in the good old usenet times, they often “crossed swords”. Felix writes the much-read blog.fefe.de and set a link from there to the guest article by Hans in the IF Blog. And then the show started: more than 20,000 readers clicked on this article within a few days. And many other articles, too, benefited hugely from the effect.

Back to Hans. Sometimes he has a tendency towards brutal language. Once in a while, it will deflect you from his basically good ideas. If he does not like an enterprise, he affronts it. Some consider this defamation. That is not nice. I, too, believe that his absolutely valid ideas would perhaps be better accepted if his condemnations were not so all-inclusive.

I respect this. Because, in his harsh way, he is probably correct. Basically, most of what he writes is actually quite harmless if compared with the naked truth.

Just take a close look at the concerns that dominate the world. In Germany, you usually have enterprises with a good reputation, a precious brand, lots of prestige and history. They have a well-trained work force, lots of knowledge, good sales channels and a high degree of publicity. Through their processes and build-up, they seem to be equipped to cope with all kinds of potential mishaps. Mostly, the employees – due to well-worked-out wage agreements – earn more than persons working in the social sector or freelance. Due to an excessive job protection legislation, their jobs are also a lot more secure than those of the rest of the working population in this country.

However, if you look behind the glittering façade, you will see that the patina crumbles. More often than not, their classic business models fail and classic turnover areas are endangered. Far too often, they employ persons who are paid far too well and are no longer needed in the scenarios of the future. Inherited liability weighs heavy on them and the market changes to their disadvantage. New competition threatens them.

There are huge inner weaknesses hidden from the outward appearance. Much that glitters is not gold at all. It is truly fear-inspiring. If I then continue by analysing the behaviour-controlling values of business that controls the world, it makes me dizzy. I am talking world-wide, for all concerns in all sectors.

Because we have desolate conditions in the global economy. Strangely, we tolerate them. There is not the slightest bit left of the common-good economy idea – as for instance laid down in the Bavarian Constitution. Nobody accepts the duty given to the industrialists with the right – which I personally consider of high value – to do business.

The good reputation of an enterprise, too, has become means to an end. If you have it, it is easier to make a profit. Ethics is wrapped into CSR – Corporate Social Responsibilty and used only to camouflage reality. Because all concerns and enterprises in business follow three unwritten laws:

The three commandments of current capitalism:

First Commandment

Do not develop products for what humans and the market needs. Instead, control the market in such a way that it will buy those products that give you the highest profit! In order to achieve this, manipulate the people permanently through a collective brain-washing, also called “marketing”.

Second Commandment
Set the rules and regulations for your business dealings in such a way that they will exclusively be beneficial for you! In order to do this, use the superweapon “lobbyism”! It must be your highest priority to control politicians through your lobbyists in such a way that all legislation is to your benefit!

Third Commandment

It must be the absolute goal of all your entrepreneurial activities to maximise the profits and the shareholder value! Profit thus gained must be privatised as fast as possible, losses have to be socialized immediately!

These commandments of modern capitalism have priority over all else, be it employees, customers, suppliers or other stakeholders. World-wide and without exception. Because in Asia, China, India, Japan, Korea, South-America, the USA or wherever, the one and only important factor is: profit.

In Europe, the situation is no better. Just look at the former EG or the Comecon countries. I cannot imagine that it is different in Switzerland. Nor do the Scandinavian concerns give reason for hope: just look at the stories around, for instance, IKEA.

To sum it up, you can say that, for all concerns and many more business enterprises, gaining and maximizing profit and consolidating your position on the market always has absolute priority. This is how the concern business has come to a point where all that matters is survival. The preservation and constant strengthening of the own system have become the exclusive goals as determined by the system itself. And the end justifies the means. In theory, such systems are called “de-personalized”. And making self-preservation your exclusive goal makes you inhuman and is the first step towards a fascist system.

An enterprise should aim at: supplying the people in the country with goods that promote their well-being. This is opposed to the current direction of business. The needs of the people are no longer served. Instead, the goals are formed along the lines of business. Of course, if you do this, there is no room left for a “common—good economy” as the Bavarian Constitution demands it. For me, this borders on “criminal behaviour“.

Now I will take a close look at all sectors. I wonder if I will find one that is not criminal?

It cannot be the food industry (why do you no longer call it victuals or nutrition industry?). In this sector, even the smallest customers are manipulated towards eating unhealthy through lies. One (not only food) scandal follows on the heels of the last, fraud and blackmail are common practice. Lower quality and extortion are accepted for economic reasons, the same is true for environmental destruction, not only in the Third World countries. In this respect, I only mention particularly dire cases like the seeds situation as a side-line.

Nor is it necessary for me to write about those industries that supply humanity with raw materials. We all know what traces those robber barons have left on our planet. The same is true for their sub-division, the oil and petro industry. Allegedly, enterprises such as Gasprom even have their own para-military organisations, which is equipped like a private army with heavy weapons. Why? Well, it is clear, isn’t it? If necessary, they can use force to give weight to their interests.

But the EVU’s do not fare any better, either. Neither does the chemical or pharmaceutic industry. You read all the time that medicine is licenced after the best of tests have been executed (exceptional healing capacity, negligible side-effects) and thus is now on the market. And after many users – often children and teenagers – consumed the medicine for a long time, you suddenly hear that the positive effect was ZERO and the side-effects were considerable. But that is nothing. You continue with “business as usual”.

Trade, too, probably has no clean slate. What harsh measures do the discounters use both against their competition and their suppliers! And the customers, too, are constantly cheated. They dominate the field with a long-term, ruinous cut-throat competition. The only thing left in the end will be the ruins of many no longer needed chain stores and a destroyed infra structure.

I will not even mention the traffic enterprises and finance services, the speculation, world and gambling companies, the media enterprises, the weapons industry, the logistics sector, let alone the luxury food industry.

My own sector, the IT industry, too, is not one I trust. For instance, I can well imagine that many producers are quite happy about all those virusses and spams appearing. And about the eavesdropping and much more. I assume that only a small part of the hardware and software systems actually are still made for processing and communicating data.

No. Most of the server and storage systems are probably sold for spam and virus defence, as well as for eavesdropping and such. It would be quite easy to de-activate the spam flood in emails with a suitable protocol (even the old telefax machines had a code provider) – but nobody wants it. Probably because it would be a shame to let all this nice business go.

Here is something else I notice:

No matter how high a profit. The higher the better. Even if it looks rather amoral.

I once read that, at Reemtsma (sector: luxury food industry – tobacco) the EBIT of a good year can well be as much as half of the entire turnover. Let us assume that, in this sector, the turnover is only one twentieth of the capital. Then the capital return rate is 1,000%. Well, there were times when 4% were considered a reasonable turnover return rate (in the 1950ies at VW – those were also the times when you still could get a low one-digit interest on your conventional bank account). If you take 200 as the factor turnover/capital, you get a turnover rate of 10,000%. Well, not everybody can achieve this!

And what do I read on the Reemtsma Website as a reprimand?

Illegal cigarette trade is among the most lucrative crimes…
I wonder why!

Today, there is no upper limit to what marketing may cost. And manipulation need stop nowhere at all.

The only thing that matters is that it does what it is supposed to do. Especially in the sector of “digital marketing”, you hear of enormous progress. The most modern scientific results in neurology and psychology are utilized. Thus, the cost of marketing and sales grow all the time. In some enterprises, they are already as high as half the turnover. In other words: the customer who buys the product pays half of what he pays for measures executed in order to make him buy the product.
Is that OK?

This is even true for enterprises, for example, in the pharmacy sector. One would assume that, basically, medicine does not need advertising. After all, it is badly needed, isn’t it? But nothing could be further from the truth – here, too, the advertising costs is easily 40% of the total turnover and more. And for enterprises promoting internet “services” such as for instance booking hotel rooms, the per cent ratio of marketing might well be more than half of the total cost.
Even politics manipulate us through marketing. Not just when it comes to lobbyism. Normally, the party that has most of the money at their disposal will eventually become the reigning government. Because they can employ the better marketing companies and campaign better. In almost all cases, there is a correlation between the number of votes and the money used in the electoral campaign. But where do they get the money? Of course, from the institutions that have a) money and b) important interests. So who are we talking? Well, those enterprises that would wish to make the rules for their business the rules of our society. I see a huge threat to our democracy! In fact, thinking of the elections for the next president of the USA – who call themselves “God’s own country” – gives me pause.

This is why I cannot really do anything other than say Hans Bonfigt is somehow right when he says things rather bluntly.

(Translated by EG)

There is a constant flow of new legislation. From the EU, the Federal Government, the State. They have become a flood. Many of them do not seem to make sense at all. More often than not, you cannot see what effect exactly they are supposed to have or why they have been passed. Neither is it clear why you should actually abide by them.

Simultaneously, courts of law come up with sentences. For instance one week ago on safe harbor. This may well be a good idea in some way, yet there is no direct positive effect. Because it simply is not practicable.

And it has almost been forgotten already, regardless of the great ado that has been made about it not too long ago. Consequently, I am sure that, soon, nobody will be interested at all to hear what the “safe harbour judgement” was all about. And why should anybody? You want to bet?

One might start assuming that people in this country will take laws less and less seriously in the future, which would mean there is an end to our constitutional democracy. Which, indeed, might be a huge threat to our democracy.

I do not happen to share this fear. To be sure, as I perceive it, law and order are no longer taken as seriously as they used to be. But it seems to me that this is only true for all those many administrative regulations.

Let me call it the “extrinsic morals“ as given from the outside. And that is something that gets more and more absurd, which means you actually cannot really take it seriously.

To make up for it, it seems to me that the “intrinsic morals” develop more and more into something most people agree upon. It is about what you do and what you do not do, which I find rather appealing.

Said intrinsic morals come from inside a person, regardless of the nonsense the legislative and judicative conveyor belts of the EU, as well as its countries and states pour over us.

I do not wish to sound the warning bells that letting the “extrinsic morals” dwindle might threaten our constitutional democracy. After all, the “intrinsic morals” might actually be more important for survival than the “extrinsic morals”.

We saw quite frequently that countries with rule of justice toppled and became rules of injustice, yet they were all based on “justice”. Just like the Third Reich, too, made laws and installed courts of law that brutally executed the verdicts. Which means that this unholy system actually was based on law and order, except that the assumptions it was based on were truly something to give me pause.

(Translated by EG)