Thursday, 16 January 2014

Zurich . . . And the road

Its funny what people say on mobile phones at airports. I was once warned that you should never assume the person sitting next to you at an airport didnt have an interest in your conversation. Just before i got on the flight to Zurich I heard an incredibly indiscreet 30 something discussing a job offer with a friend. I may as well have been his headhunter because i got to hear how disappointed he was with his bonus last year and thats why he left XYZ etc. I instantly thought he'd be the last person I'd want to hire . . . I mean imagine he was closing on a deal and you're a competitor sitting near this guy? What a clown.

Don't Blackberrys seem strange nowadays? I'm always fascinated by people who still use them. Research in Motion's architecture must be worth something, surely? You ask anyone who uses a Blackberry and I'm positive they'll spin it as being a security thing, though it's probably more likely to be a result of a backward IT department, institutional cost cutting, or worst of all . . . they let you keep it when they made you redundant . . . ouch!

Just before this trip I pensioned off my iPhone 3GS, which must be 4 years old. The unit had stopped charging and I couldn't risk it not functioning while I was on the road so I got on to my telco and upgraded to an iPhone5S. I initially had every intention of trying something new, but didn't really appreciate the extent to which the apps lock you in to an ecosystem until I ran some numbers of some crucial apps and peripherals. It makes me appreciate more the notion of what exactly an iPhone killer would look like. Try it . . . Make a list of all your apps that you genuinely use. Then add in cradles, cables and various bits and pieces. Add to this handset cost and time for changeover and you have an economic cost, therefore it becomes your task to put value to that new "something" and do a simple proof that states if A-B is positive you should switch. If its negative you stay put. Now the other element you have to add in is what if your current tech ecosystem is only 6months behind in catching up . . . Switch sill? 

The same thinking works in finance. I never appreciated the "stickiness" of banking relationships until I worked in hedge funds. The first COO I worked with used to say to me constantly "are you sure that our current prime brokers can't offer the same thing?" I never understood that until I had to do the paperwork myself. 

Zurich is the best airport in Europe. It's just big enough to offer great connections to Asia, Europe and North America, but not so big as to exhaust you with its sheer size. Geneva was ok, but lacked the connections. Heathrow has improved leaps and bounds in the last 10 years, but the place seems to always be only a couple of steps ahead of anarchy. Mega airports work best in Asia where they're eeecomparatively new and always well connected to the city . . . . Aside from Narita (Tokyo), but that's another story.

For this trip I started reading Max Hastings new book on 1914 "Catastrophe". I don't think I fully appreciated some of the economics behind WW1's opening year previously, especially the rapid growth in various economies between 1890 and 1910. I always thought that all the growth at the time was centred on the US and it's "gilded age", but clearly countries such as Russia were going through a BRICs like moment as well. The German economy had surpassed the British and France as usual was somewhat stagnet. That's the thing with France, you'd think that the enlightenment embodied in such things as the Napoleonic inheritance laws and the notion of church state separateness would have given them a fantastic base from which to be a super power, but in fact they were somewhat always limited whether by culture, design or lack of planning the role of could have been. 

Why are ski resorts like Greek temples? I always buy something on day one as a sacrifice to the resort gods. On the way to Austria I picked up a hire car at Zurich Flughafen  . . . Renault Cleo 1.5ltr diesel. Not bad, but a few bits of trim let it down. Anyway I've already banged a finger in the dodgy magnetic style ski racks Avis provided. Ouch ... Still weeping blood a couple of hours later.

The drive over to Austria was fairly trouble free. All I could think about was what the B-route might be like to cycle. The Arlberg Pass must be magic to ride on a June day. Wish I had the Evo with me.

Snow falling at a steady rate here. It cleared at 1630hrs letting in a beautiful light, filling the entire valley. Magic stuff for those of us use to the harsh clear Australian summers. The hotel offers the usual cale news channels and I'm already bored with the banality of the English language channels. Tried the French channels in the hope that Hollande has been snapped in dodgy / creepy outfit after big night with the latest mistress. Good for him . . . Bad for France and I think Fench feminism?


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