Dienstag, 19. Juli 2011
Yesterday I went on a little geocaching tour deciding spontanously on which caches to try. 2 out of 4 were climbing caches although I wasn't prepared and were wearing the most slippery shoes I own. I didn't care, dropped my backpack at the trees' trunks and climbed them. No safety gear, no person knowing where I am and what I'm doing. Up in the treetops of about 5 m (~15 ft) and maybe 8 m (~24 ft) I picked up the caches' logbooks and took a few pictures. Then I got down, took the bus and went to the sneak preview. It was about an hour later when I realized: Wow, that was pretty dangerous! I could've fallen down and break my neck! Those trees were tall!
That's the moment I knew I'm a grown-up now. When I was young I did the same things and many crazier things, but never thought about how dangerous they were. Now I do. After I did those crazy things, but I do weigh the risks.
Dienstag, 19. Juli 2011
More X-Yachts photos Geschrieben von Jan Girlich in Reiseberichte um 01:01
Sonntag, 17. Juli 2011
X-Yachts Gold Cup Geschrieben von Jan Girlich in Reiseberichte um 20:07
Amidst of studying for my last exam ever I went to the X-Yachts Gold Cup on the Flensburger Förde from July 6th to 9th. The nice thing about this regatta is that only X-Yachts participate and I was looking forward to compete with some other ships of the same make and model to measure up our crew's qualities. So far we're usually the ones with the oldest ship (made in 1986) but way too bad ORC rating. But I was disappointed, we were the only X-102.
Me studying to keep up with my studying plan.
This was so close!
On the first day we were one crew member short, but all the maneuvers went fine. Only little wind and the start got postponed and we made last place, as expected when trying to compete against souped-up racing yachts with no amenities on board like a table, a bench or a cooker. Oh, and two world champion crews in our starting class.
The second day was horrible! Wind was better and we didn't have to postpone the start much. But every other maneuver went wrong. Especially the spinnaker ones in my responsibility. Spinnaker sheet got tangled up around a clamp. Jib sheet going under the spinnaker boom after a spinnaker gibe. Spinnaker and jib halyards tangling up when setting the sail. Being too slow, setting up sails, the boom and sheets on the wrong sides. It was a mess. But the worst moment was when I pulled up the spinnaker and the halyard fell off halfway, so that the head of the sail got stuck atop the spreader between the V-shaped shrouds. Our skipper picked a crew member, clicked attached him to the halyard left and told him to climb up and get it down. Luckily he got it. And luckily we have two spinnaker halyards, so we could continue sailing. The spinnaker has a small hole we could fix with some tape though. Getting down the spinnaker halyard was no big deal after we found the bosun's chair lost in the depths of the ship. I was pulled up as well and I attached a small piece of ribbon between the V-shaped shrouds to prevent sails from getting stuck in there like in a cleat. I noticed later all the pros had ribbons like that, too.
This was so close!
For the last day we adjusted a few parts of our spinnaker routines to give me more time and prevent yesterday's mistakes. It was a good day of racing and I left right after we got back in. So I missed the great gala dinner, but I got refunded for that.
The starts were very tense moments.
Awesome event, very well organized (compared to Nordseewoche) and the Danish people are so much fun
Sonntag, 17. Juli 2011
Nordseewoche 2011 Geschrieben von Jan Girlich in Reiseberichte um 15:00
Last month, from June 10th to 13th, I attended the 77th Nordseewoche in Helgoland on board of the XS. It's Germany's largest regatta event and hundreds of boats join in.
We started in Hamburg with a large, free banquet. Free food and beer. And good bbq: Roast suckling pig and various cuts of beef from a real American smoker. The first race from Hamburg to Cuxhaven was scheduled for the next day. But the starting time was scheduled so late in the morning that you would get stuck in the currents of the rising tide on the Elbe river. And that would mean painful sailing with little wind against a strong current for hours. So we decided not to do that and left for a night cruise to Brunsbüttel (east of Cuxhaven on the northern shore). I slept through this cruise because my crew decided it wasn't necessary to wake me up for this trip. Nice, because now I had the whole day in Cuxhaven and went a little geocaching
The first race we participated was the track from Cuxhaven to Helgoland. Took a couple of hours and was a nice trip, but later the wind stopped and we were floating around. Even the nice, new sails couldn't help. But then we had a sudden, strong weather front coming through. Lots of wind and it was me who had to go to the front and take down the genoa. I got so soaked. Salt and fresh water from any possible direction and thanks to the high waves I was thrown around like a little tennis ball on the frontdeck. I skinned my shin quite badly, but I felt great! Anyway, we came in 16th out of 20 ships that started. Since the big ship's crews already got in hours earlier we had no problem to get a table in our favourite fish restaurant.
Did I mention we're three IT people on board?
This is us.
The Concetta we were drifting along with.
On Sunday we participated in the round Helgoland race and finished this time 19th out of 20 ships.
The race committee really messed up this start. We had no wind so they decided to start later but wanted everyone out on the water and spontaneously decide later on which track to sail when exactly. This is totally fine. The big mistake was not to use any of the prepared courses described in the racing instructions everyone had on board. This would have been an easy information via the radio like: 'We will start in 10 minutes sailing course 2A.'. Instead they decided to set up a completely new course and anouncing it on the radio, describing all the details about where to start, where all the buoys are and how to sail around them. To 100+ ships! It was chaos. It took like an hour to answer all the questions and requests to repeat until everyone understood the descriptions. Still there were misunderstandings and I heard one sailor is going to sue the racing committee about the inaccurate description of the position of the windward buoy. We had trouble finding it as well and got in a fight over where to sail to in order to find it.
Afer we were drifting around next to and chatting with the crew of the Concetta on our way from Cuxhaven to Helgoland we had a neck-and-neck race with them on this race and made friends with them. Although we came in before them
Tonight's party was quite fun because I met actual locals and not only visiting sailors. And I met a friend who is part of the organizing committee
For monday the weather forecast was quite bad. Very strong winds and so it was decided not to take part in the planned race. Instead we took a day off and went shopping until our scheduled return trip to Cuxhaven later that day. I got a couple of tax-free sweets and other luxury goods for friends. Right before leaving I fetched a geocache next to the harbour. The trip back to Cuxhaven was okay and we got there late at night. I got a cab and met up with Tiên.
The harbour was way over capacity
After I spent the night at his place we went geocaching in Cuxhaven and Tiên found his first caches Unfortunately we solved a challenging mystery cache just to find out the chache-container was gone. In the evening I took the train back home.
Wasserturm & Schlosspark.
On our way to the mystery cache.
All in all I had a great time and hope I can join Nordseewoche again in 2012!
Montag, 11. Juli 2011
part 2: how to find a packet stuck ... Geschrieben von Jan Girlich in Rest um 12:45
Well, so I got the slip needed for picking up the packet from customs Thursday, one week late, in my mail. Since the packet will be sent back to the sender after two weeks being so late with sending the notification card is not acceptable. It was sent by DHL Express.
Since I was on a short trip for three days I picked it up today, on Monday. My fault I'm too stupid to take the right bus and it took me ages to get to the new address which is still a construction site. But I met a really nice bus driver who gave me a ride after her tour ended.
Anyway, at the customs office it was pretty much as I expected: show notification card, show ID, answer a few questions like: What's in there? I know what it says on the card: 'model airplane: $6' Who is this gift from? It's from <name> in <address>. And then they asked me to open the package. I did. In the box are some sweets, a drinking glass, a letter and a small airplance modell. They took a look and said it's fine, I can go now.
But before I leave I ask them why this got stuck in customs and they told me that this decision was made by the main customs office in Frankfurt which is doing the first inspection on every package entering Germany. After the first inspection the package is handed back to DHL and DHL has to send it to the local customs office, in my case Hamburg. DHL sends out the notification containing some often way too general standard textblocks like 'missing receipt' for a reason. The local customs office is not allowed to open the package and thus the receiver has to pick it up and open it in front of the personel for inspection.
What you can do to prevent the main customs office in Frankfurt from falsly declaring a package to be tariffed is to put the receipts in the toll declaration pouch on the outside of the box.
Seriously broken system. But I got my box.
Mittwoch, 6. Juli 2011
personal monday: how to find a ... Geschrieben von Jan Girlich in Rest um 18:35
My girfriend sent me a packet from Florida on June 24th. The tracking website clearly stated it's way through customs and an attempted delivery on June 30th.
(read from bottom to top, because reading chronological data backwards in time is more intuitive. Not.)
- Attempted Delivery Abroad, June 30, 2011, 5:32 am, GERMANY
- Customs clearance processing complete, June 28, 2011, 12:13 pm, GERMANY
- Customs Clearance, June 28, 2011, 12:13 pm, GERMANY
- Customs Clearance, June 28, 2011, 10:50 am, GERMANY
- Processed Through Sort Facility, June 28, 2011, 10:49 am, GERMANY
- Processed Through Sort Facility, June 25, 2011, 3:31 pm, ISC MIAMI FL (USPS)
- Arrived at Sort Facility, June 25, 2011, 3:29 pm, ISC MIAMI FL (USPS)
- Acceptance, June 24, 2011, 4:57 pm, FORT LAUDERDALE, FL 33328
Note that these times are EST, but Germany is 6 hrs aheard, so the attempted delivery was at 11:32 a.m. local time Thursday June 30th.
Too bad the packet didn't arrive and I didn't get a delivery note either. So I waited for a little longer and went to the post office on Monday. They said there was no packet for my whole street the whole past week. Neither at the two bordering post offices. I should come back with a tracking number to file a search request.
Too bad my girlfriend is on a trip on the keys right now and didn't give me the key yet. I threw a little fit (and gave a lot of apologies) but she got me the tracking number two days later. So I went to the post office this morning. The guy at the counter didn't believe me when I said they don't have it there and checked again. He's right, could've been arriving in the meantime. Then gave him the tracking number, but he said he couldn't use it, because he needs the German tracking number and not the one from the US Postal Service. Every packet entering Germany gets a new tracking ID and that's the only one he can look up. I asked him how I would find out what the German tracking number would be. He had no clue how one could do that.
But he was kind and tried calling someone higher in the ranks of the post offices of Hamburg and asked how to go about the packet. He then gave me the number of the DHL (Deutsche Hanse Logistik) hotline. Nice system: you call a toll-free number, tell a voice computer what you want (lost letters) where to call you back (this number) and when (this instant). So I sat down and waited for a moment. Or two. After about 10 minutes I figured I could go to campus and wait for them to call back there. The moment the bus arrives at the bus stop they call back.
Did I mention that I was carrying around a backpack, a duffle bag, a sleeping back and a sailing-jacket which didn't fit in anymore? That's because I want to go sailing for the next three days and didn't want to go back home from campus since campus is already right next to the highway.
So I talk to the DHL hotline and they could use my USPS tracking ID, but the only information they could give me was that the packet is in Hamburg's customs office since June 30th. If I didn't get a notice saying so? Nope, I didn't. Well, here is the number of Hamburg's custom office. Try calling them. I call the number and a computer voice tells me that the number is no longer valid and I should try calling this new number. I call the new number. Nobody picks up, no matter how often I try.
Alright, so let's go to the customs office by chance and pick up the packet. Unfortunately it's located at the other end of the city. Well, I want the packet, so I take that time and go all the way out of my way. Just to find out they moved two days ago! To oun new and prestigous quartiers in the harbour. Luckily I wasn't the only one with that problem and I met Peter, who gave me a ride to the new location. Thanks Peter and good look with your Bachelor thesis!
At the customs office I go around the wrong way and can see the delivery entrance. Just a glass door separating me from all the packets they store in there. No luck with the customs, because they have another tracking system and without the custom's tracking number I have no chance to get the packet because they can't even find it in their computer system or storage. I talk to them a little more and try to find out what to do now, but waiting.
They explain to me that DHL is intentionally lying about the packet's statuses when they get to the customs. The packet actually did not arrive there yet (they were pretty sure without being able to check anyway) because DHL has to send the notification to the recipient and they do that only when the packet has been handed over to the customs. It's a known problem. They also explained a ton of other details about how the custom's and parcel service's joint workflow is, but it was too complicated and back and forth to understand or remember. The gist: DHL f**ked it up and is giving misleading information to their customers. Also it's DHL job to send me the slip to pick the packet up from customs.
So I call the toll-free call-back DHL hotline, but since they call back at arbitrary times (if you tell them to call back ASAP) and I was taking buses to get to campus at the other end of town I missed like three calls from them. Their fault if they only let it ring for 2 seconds. And the hotline computer gets really annoying when you have to tell him the same thing like 4 times and he can't cut short any of the announcements you already know by heart.
Talking to the guy at the hotline he tells me the same stuff again. I tell him that the customs office moved and is not at the address they gave me anymore. I tell him what the customs office told me about the wrong statuses of the DHL system. He says there is nothing he can do about. I ask him how we could restart the workflow so I get my notifcation sent to my home. There is no way he could do that. So I ask him if his superior could do that. No, he couldn't. So what about his superior's superior? Neither. So who has the privileges to do more than just looking at the files in your system? He doesn't know. What can I do to get my packet other than waiting since that obviously isn't enough? He wants to give me an email address of the Post (the other German postal service which handles letters opposed to DHL dealing with packets) to file a search request online. I deny that one. That would only set me back to square one at the next company. What would I do in such a case if I hadn't internet access like my grandma? He has no idea. I keep bugging. He says that would probably take weeks and definitely longer than they keep the packet before sending it back to the sender. I ask if there is no other place I can talk to with more knowledge about the situation or more priviliges. I get out of the bus. He gives me a number. Not a hotline but a common landline.
The number is of the main DHL customs transfer station in Frankfurt where every packet goes through. I have a person on the line without any waiting music or voice computers. I feel like in heaven. I state my case and the person seems to genuinely understand me and isn't just following a phone script. I give him my details and he promises to call me back. And five minutes later (I'm in the train now) he actually calls me back! He says he spoke to the customs office in Hamburg and the packet is there. He then gave me the customs tracking number. But he also said the guys at the customs usually are so small-minded that they won't give you the packet even if you have all information from the notification card, but not the card itself. But he also found out that the notification card was sent out today by DHL. Probably the address has a mistake which then takes a while until the notification card goes back and the correct address is found. We also talked about how crappy the DHL computer system is and that the misleading tracking updates in the USPS system are the fault of the DHL system, but hell will probably freeze over before DHL will manage to fix their systems. He also said the customs will keep the packet for two weeks before sending it back, so after about a week is a good time to start being worried about your stuck packet.
Right now I'm on my way to 3 days of regatta sailing on the baltic sea. I tried calling my brother who has off work and is at home to ask if the notification card arrived today as the cool guy at DHL suggested, but he didn't pick up the phone. Can't call him now because I lent one of my two SIM cards to a friend in need of some internet and using the one from my phone in my laptop right now to write this text. When I get back the customs office is closed for the weekend, so I will pick up the packet on Monday, I hope.
When I got the packet and found out why the packet got stuck in customs again, I'm going to give a short update here. The people at the hotlines said the sender should stick the store's receipts to the packet to satisfy the customs. I find that ridiculous for little gifts which are supposed to be toll-free.
I totally feel it: xkcd
Mittwoch, 6. Juli 2011
Gut gemachte PayPal-Phising Mail Geschrieben von Jan Girlich in Rest um 14:27
Heute diese Mail im Postfach gehabt:
Ziemlich gut gemacht, aber immer noch eindeutig als Phising identifizierbar, denn:
1) die Antwort-Adresse ist "noreplay" statt "noreply", wie es korrekt heißt
2) keine persönliche Anrede mit Namen
3) der Link zur Konfliktlösung geht nicht auf eine PayPal-Webadresse
4) unter dem Link ist ein Encoding-Fehler (das Fragezeichen in der Raute), was ein handwerklicher Fehler ist, den PayPal eher nicht machen würde
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