Saturday, June 24, 2006

Some Random Observations

Some random observations from the last few days:
  1. The Swiss are Going Crazy
  2. Recruiting Like it's 1999
  3. The Shrunken Textbook

The Swiss are Going Crazy (over Soccer)

The Swiss are calm but patriotic people. Since the soccer World Cup started a few weeks ago, there have been Swiss flags everywhere. I bet the current Swiss flag density beats the average US flag density in the Midwest – quite an achievement. All around town, people are wearing red-white Switzerland T-shirts, which convinced even me to wear mine (once).

After the 2:0 win vs. Korea last night, craziness set in. All around Zurich, people were honking horns and screaming "Hopp Schwiiiiz!" (loosely: "Go Switzerland!"). Due to the huge crowds downtown, the super-punctual tram and bus system came to a complete halt. But these people were genuinely having fun.

At Bellevue, some decided to climb on one of the tram stops. Sounds unspectacular (especially considering the hooliganism in other countries), but such behavior is practically unseen here. Here's a video clip showing the action – sorry for the poor quality.

So much for the cliché of the cool, composed Swiss. When it comes to soccer, they go crazy!

Side note: I've made a bet with some students that if the Swiss win the world cup, I'll have to add an appendix to my Master's thesis that formally explains the rules of the game. I'm not worried.

Recruiting Like it's 1999

In 1999, I remember walking by a huge poster with a recruiting ad for software engineers at a train station in Germany. Back then I thought "Wow, what is a great waste of money!" – seriously, how many of the people who walk by that ad are going to be in the target demographic? I can understand such ads at the Kendall Square T Stop, but not there.

After having almost forgotten this incident, I had a déjà vu last week when I saw a BSI recruiting ad at Zurich's main station.

Do ads like this always coincide with a certain point of a 7-year business cycle? That would give the current boom about 2-3 more years. Or is this all just a ploy to get me to blog about a recruiting ad? Who knows.

The Shrunken Textbook

For my Master's, I've been dealing a lot with natural language processing. Two friends from Google independently recommended reading Foundations of Statistical Natural Language Processing by Manning and Schütze. I went to the ETH library and checked it out. It turned out to be an absolutely fantastic book, so I decided to shell out cold, hard cash and get it from Amazon for $77 plus shipping.

Boy, was I surprised when the book that arrived! It was much slimmer than the version I had checked out from the library. But even though 1.6 cm had been shaved off the book, none of the pages were missing. Between the fifth and sixth printing, MIT Press decided to switch to (much) thinner paper.

1 comment:

F said...

Hopp Schwiiiiz!