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Manue & Me

 Joerg's Blog 


If you are reading this, you must definitly be bored.
Either that, or you're looking for information about this site and/or its author.
For the first group of people I advise YouTube. For the second group, well, read on.

This is my personal blog page. I'll be referring about all things happening to me - that might be interesting for whoever reads it. I can not garantee it will be very high level for everyone though... But it is mainly maintained for far away relatives/family to have a glimpse of what I do with my life.

So - what is a blog anyway ? For this - check out Wikipedia - they have the best description for this. If you want to contact me - you'll have to reformat my E-Mail - so - good luck.

What I am ? I call myself a hacker.
Please note - most people think about the bad guys doing bad things to other computers. Well - I would say - that those guys are the Black Hat guys - also known as crackers. What I call myself - is a White Hat hacker. See it as a system administrator using professional tools to probe the robustness of his own systems and networks, and trying to get the maximum out of the used hardware - making its use as efficient as possible. This is legitimate - as I do not break into anything - while crackers attempt gaining unauthorized access to systems for eventual unethic actions.
The difference between hackers and crackers does not lie in the tools or techniques they use (the same hammer can be used to build a wall, or break it down), but in their intentions !
For me - building a stable and secure system is a very interesting challenge, and to know it is stable and secure - I need to test it with all tools available. And this is what I like doing most.

Please note that all I say on these pages is for personal use only and under no circumstance has to be taken/used/copied without my explicit written permission !


Skying in the Alps   [ 
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Ski, Top

 After having skipped Skying season for 3 consecutive years, we had to go back onto the slopes.
The main issue being: Will there be snow?

After a little research, we (actually my wife) came up with a small location high enough in the northern Alps, called Taninge.
The ski station's name was Praz de Lys (and you don't pronounce the z on the first word!) with amazing skying grounds. Also, as this is a small location - you will mostly see locals. Very kind locals who will help you back up should you fall on the slopes.

Regarding the Weather & Snow, we were quite lucky. For 6 days on the slopes, we had 3 Sunny and 3 cloudy days, while one afternoon was rainy. But the Skiing conditions were amazing the rest of the time

As usual, everyone but myself did Ski, while I hit the snowboard.

All in all, these 6 days on the slopes were amazing! To be repeated at a future time at the same location! 

Written on Thursday, 27 February 2020 - 17:07 | 1013 views
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Dreamtrip in Budapest   [ 
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 This summer we became members of a travel club and we decided to sample what was on offer. We chose to travel to Budapest and we didn't regret it at all. The city is absolutely amazing. It very much looked like Prague but the people are a lot warmer and the atmosphere definitely more pleasant. The food is also great, way more refined than in Prague and very affordable.

We stayed at the Hotel Continental on the Pest side (Budapest is in fact composed of two cities separated by the river Danube), very close to the ruin bars and the shopping malls. This 4 star hotel was a bath complex which has been recently renovated and it was great. The room was comfortable, the restaurant delicious and there was a spa on top of the hotel. It was really nice to relax in the jaccuzzi, the sauna and take a dip in the indoor pool (although others prefered the outdoor one). We both (and together in the same room) indulged in a traditional thai massage which was very efficient in putting all the bones back into place !!!

Our trip included a private day tour with dedicated guide and minibus which took us around the city, visiting famous locations. The guide was great, very attentive to our needs, answering our questions. We were with an international community composed of Chinese, Germans, Austrians, Taiwanese and we enjoyed a planned lunch and strudel demonstration together as well as breakfast and the last dinner. But apart from that we were free to roam around when and where we wanted, following the suggestions of our local host who gave us very good advice concerning visits, restaurants and so on (for example sailing up and down the Danube or sightseeing in an open-deck bus which were part of the deal). Check out the picture gallery.

To sum up, we loved the experience especially the mixture of individual and group travel. As I don't want to include a forum or the possibility to post comments on my website, here is an email address you can use if you want more information on it (dreamtrips(-AT-)solsys(-DOT-)org - I have replaced the @ and the . signs in order to avoid being spammed). 

Written on Saturday, 9 November 2019 - 11:06 | 1864 views
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Two weeks in paradise !!!   [ 
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 This year we decided to spend our summer holidays with our friends on the French island of Martinique in the Carribean Sea. Our friends come from there and were instrumental in our decision :smile-big: face-smile-big.svg

We all rented an amazing house (check it out) and spent the time discovering and enjoying the island. The first striking thing are the colours. The whole island is covered with a deep green vegetation regularly scattered with colourful flowers. As it is a volcanic island, the topography is very mountainous and the sceneries are spectacular. If you travel there you must spend an afternoon in the Balata gardens located above Fort-de-France. The owner has done an great job and you can even walk among the trees as a tree trail can be used.

There were a lot of historical visits to schedule. In Saint-Pierre for example we walked among some ruins left after the volcano erupted and destroyed everything in 1902. It was a bit like Pompei but on a much smaller scale. We also had the opportunity to enjoy the guided tour of Josephine de Beauharnais' family plantation from which nothing much remained as the main house was destroyed by a cyclone. There were other cute places such as the Pottery village where we bought most of our souvenirs and Fort-de-France and its spice market.

We didn't go to the beach very often as we spent a lot of time scuba diving (take a look at the other post) but we spent a whole day sailing a catamaran (well the skipper sailed - we just enjoyed it) hopping from island to island. If you take a look at our photo gallery (here) you will understand what I mean. We bathed in the so-called Josephine's tub which she never bathed in, and ate accras there. We swam in the Trapeze (another body of water between 2 islets) and to the Islet of Madame. We sailed past the Warewolf islet which nests endangered species. It definitely looks like the islet where Jack Sparrow was dumped in one of the Pirates of the Caribbean. The most moving moment of the day was when our skipper led us to the islet of Chancel where he explained the history of the ruins of a sugar plantation relying on an enslaved labour force and helped us find iguanas.

Another heyday was a horse ride we booked early in the morning. Our guide welcomed us in his remote ranch, handed out the horses according to each one's level, helped us groom them and we were off followed by 2 very cute foals frolicking around us. The stroll led us through the forest to the beach where some of us had a nice gallop. We continued towards a high perched chapel from where the view was breathtaking. The return road enabled us to ride in the shallow waters of a secluded cove. We felt like happy castaways :wink: face-wink.svg

So, to sum up, this island is extraordinarily beautiful and the people living there were most of the time very welcoming whether in restaurants, museums or anywhere. We definitely plan to go back one day !!! 

Written on Sunday, 18 August 2019 - 09:29 | 2607 views
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Achievement unlocked : we all have a diving certification !!!   [ 
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 The whole family went diving in Martinique this year in the Caribbean Sea. I already obtained the PADI Rescue Diver last summer but as my oldest daughter decided this year to obtain her French Second Level (N2), I went with her and praticed diving in a pool and reviewing physics and stuff. So we needed to dive at least ten times in order to validate everything. My wife and my youngest daughter spent the same year following the Level One lessons (N1) and needed 5 dives. And our 29 year old son decided that it was also time for him to learn diving. So we booked him an accelerated course which he achieved brilliantly.

As a result, we discovered the Caribbean Sea and it is an outstanding underwater world full of surprises and beauty. We were surprised to see corals beyond 20 meters. The wildlife was abundant and varied. But pictures are more talkative than words. So take a look at our photo gallery and youtube videos here.

Our favorite spot was Anse Dufour, not so easily accessible but an amazing place. My oldest and myself were lucky to participate to a night dive where we saw seahorses, octopuses, squids, crabs and crayfish and many others I didn't recognise. We came back with the whole family during the day and we swam with sea turtles. It was awesome.

There are numerous other places we haven't yet dived in but that's for another day :-))) In the mean time we are all equipped to dive anywhere else in the world. Our next goal is to all obtain at least the second level in order to be able to dive deeper than 20 meters and do some wreck diving. So stay posted !!!  

Written on Sunday, 18 August 2019 - 09:21 | 2553 views
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The Venice of the North   [ 
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 We spent 3 days in Bruges, nicknamed the Venice of the North and we loved it. This adorable medieval town is just a two and a half hour drive from our home and we left on a Sunday morning encountering no traffic and reaching our hotel just before lunch. The hotel was located in the historical city centre and once we parked the car we did everything on foot. And this is how Bruges must be appreciated as all the little streets and specific houses are best discovered walking.
As the sun was shining we ate quickly and went on a cruise touring the famous canals of the city. The 30-minute boat-trip was really nice and there were so many houses with a beautiful waterfront (we took a few pictures), we started talking about buying one but changed our mind after seeing the prices on the market !!!
Then we just roamed around, visiting famous buildings such as the town hall and market place, the local museum and churches, the old medieval hospital and the Historium where a virtual reconstitution of the Bruges' history was available. We also went to the Diamond museum where we attended a very interesting presentation of the art of diamond cutting.
Bruges is a very welcoming city with warm people and good food. We went shopping and came back with chocolates (of course) and a dragon egg (yes they do exist !!!). AND we found a gramophone sold on a flea market, a real one, working perfectly well. It looks awesome in our living room !!! 

Written on Thursday, 11 April 2019 - 14:44 | 3064 views
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Prague in Winter   [ 
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 Instead of going skiing we decided to visit Prague. Everyone we knew who had already been there had told us how beautiful the city is. So we booked a huge apartment in the city centre, right in the middle of the Jewish neighbourhood and we flew there with the whole family.

Prague is definitely one of the most breathtaking cities we’ve visited. One can just walk around and enjoy the delicate and ornamented facades, each being unique. There are colours everywhere. As the city is very clean it is safe to roam around with your eyes scanning the roofs as scattered hanging elements and statues can be glimpsed (Take a look at our gallery).

All our visits were interesting and sometimes enchanting. We enjoyed the must-see sites such as the Prague castle, the Klementina library, the clock tower and so on. But we also discovered quieter places such as the Kafka museum or the Mucha museum.

There are many things to do in Prague at night. First it is imperative to walk around the city again because all the buildings are illuminated and it is absolutely gorgeous. As we had booked a dinner-cruise on the river Vlatva, we spent a whole evening enjoying a very nice meal while listening to a jazz band and watching Prague by night cruising upstream and downstream. Light seems to be important in Prague. There, we watched a light-show with dancers playing with lights and colours. As no words were spoken, only music, it was not a problem to attend.

And there is the goulash, and the cakes, and the beer ... and all those traditional restaurants and breweries in which you are nicely ... or rudely welcomed. This is the flip side of our enchanting trip. Prague citizens can be terribly impolite while others are very very nice. There is no fair balance. But we were warned and we don’t regret our trip !!! 

Written on Sunday, 24 March 2019 - 17:22 | 3229 views
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Beautiful Spain   [ 
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 Our holidays were not just about diving. We also enjoyed the Mediterranean climate and the Spanish way of life. We rented a huge apartment (with a private pool) on the Spanish side of the border in a charming little town called Portbou. The road which leads there is absolutely spectacular as it meanders along the mountain with a gorgeous view of the sea (Check our online album).
It took us barely 5 minutes to go down to the beach, enjoy lunch or diner on the harbour. But it took us a little longer to reach our other destinations such as the very cute seaside town of Cadaqués, famous because this is where Salvador Dali lived. We couldn't miss the museum dedicated to his special and quite inspired art a little bit further in Figueres.
Girona was a huge surprise. The town is a maze of little streets still marked by their medieval past. The Jewish neighbourhood is particularly well preserved and one must definitely enjoy a cold drink looking up at the cathedral which (as the town) was used as a filming location for Game of Thrones.
We just spent one day in Barcelona on a very hot and sunny day, just walking around and taking a look at some of Gaudi's most famous architectural achievements. We promised ourselves to come back one day and take more time. It's a plan !!! 

Written on Saturday, 28 July 2018 - 14:05 | 2359 views
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Achievement Unlocked: PADI Rescue Diver   [ 
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 as the entire family is slowly getting into the Scuba-Diving hobby, I felt I had to do a little bit to make sure that we can dive as secure as possible. Also, in terms to reduce the costs of diving in future, the only possibility would be to be able to just rent the air-tanks (imagine the average cost of all of us doing one dive would be 200 euro) which costs up to 10 Euro/Tank, I'd need to be able to handle our entire dive alltogether. For that - the plan is to become Divemaster next year. This year, I just made up Rescue Diver (as is level 3 of the PADI diver program).

We did (Family and I) go down to the Banyuls underwater reserve for me to actually make the Rescue Diver course, while my oldest daughter did dive during my trainings (with other buddy's), and sometimes, my wife and youngest joined to make a Discovery Dive (actually, they each made 4). Even our son joined us and also did a Discovery dive over the Weekend.
Needless to say that the underwater world was totally different from what we had seen in Greece. So many fish, and so big! Check it out for yourself. I uploaded a rather large video on Youtube about our dives. 

Written on Saturday, 28 July 2018 - 14:02 | 2906 views
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Amazing Biker Week End   [ 
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 We've decided to enhance our Bikers experience level, and our friends helped us do it. They organized for all of us a 2 days round-trip which started in Clermont, led us to Honfleur and Etretat, and back.
It was great, the weather was almost perfect (32°C - which for Bikers is very hot), the Bikes ran smooth as kittens (3 BMW - Deutsche Qualität!), the group was completely in-tune (we laughed the whole time) and the places we visited were absolutely gorgeous.

Honfleur is a cute touristic town on the Channel, an ancient port welcoming today hordes of tourists, but still managing to be welcoming.
Etretat on the other hand, is more spectacular. The cliffs meet the sea in broken patterns and as the tide was low, we were able to walk around and even explore a tunnel leading us not far from the famous Needle rising 70 meters above the sea. In between those two destinations, we drove through amazing little villages were we sometimes enjoyed coffee or refreshments.

All in all, it was a 600Km roundrip in 2 days, which left our asses sour but our moral high :laughing: face-laughing.svg.
The Biker Gang in Etretat.  

Written on Tuesday, 10 July 2018 - 20:42 | 2437 views
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Japan Expo 2018   [ 
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Japan Expo

 As announced last year, we decided to become a Steampunk family. Steampunk is a subgenre of science fiction which incorporates technology and aesthetic designs dating back to the 19th century. But it can also incorporate elements from fantasy worlds or any world one seems fit as long as some characteristics are respected. For example, black, browns and beige would be the dominant colors. Women would favour bustiers and asymmetrical skirts whereas men and children would eventually wear frilled shirts. Cogs are an almost must-have accessory, scattered everywhere and brass goggles are some sort of trademark.

Most items can be bought but the most beautiful steampunk costumes are hand-made and it is the case here enabling each of us to embody a special type of character. I, the only male, represent the fighter (hence the shoulder armor and pistol on arm band). Our oldest is the enchantress and she can write, with her quills and parchments stored in her hair and armbands, all the known spells recorded in the book hanging from her belt. The youngest is our magician using a wooden wand and crafting potions of all sorts fixed on the same type of garments. And finally there is our mysterious healer, hidden behind her mask, equipped with scissors, threads and needles with which she created us.

The coherence and the quality of the work produced an amazing result and we were regularly stopped and asked to be photographed. We also met people with whom we shared information and knowledge on the Steampunk world. All in all, it was a great day and we look forward to the next pure Steampunk convention which will take place in Luxemburg at the end of September. Cya then !!!
Shudan pictures had taken some shots too - see here.  

Written on Saturday, 7 July 2018 - 23:43 | 2352 views
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