Earth as seen by Yuri GagarinOne of the first photos of Earth from the first man in space. Taken by Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin during his orbital flight in April, 1961.

Breath-taking! Imagine being Yuri sitting in his tiny capsule, surrounded by 60s’ technology and life support systems, shooting through the vacuum as the first man in space and looking down at the blue marble below against a black void all around. The first hopeful step of mankind into space. But at the same time leaving no doubt we won’t get significantly farther any time soon…

Except, perhaps, in our imagination…

Image Credit: NASA

I see trees of green, red roses too
I see them bloom for me and you
And I think to myself, what a wonderful world

I see skies of blue and clouds of white
The bright blessed day, the dark sacred night
And I think to myself, what a wonderful world

The colours of the rainbow, so pretty in the sky
Are also on the faces of people going by
I see friends shakin’ hands, sayin’ “How do you do?”
They’re really saying “I love you”

I hear babies cryin’, I watch them grow
They’ll learn much more than I’ll ever know
And I think to myself, what a wonderful world
Yes, I think to myself, what a wonderful world

Oh yeah

[Louis Armstrong; Lyrics: George Weiss, Bob Thiele]

Perhaps it’s because I just registered for the Big Sur International Marathon 2014 on April 27th, 2014… 😉

Fairy...I am a huge admirer of Woody Allen and my favorite quote from him reads as follows:

“If you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans.” [Woody Allen]

It’s not only funny, but also unbelievably comforting, I believe. Makes you smile at yourself when again things don’t turn out as you had planned. As you had expected. As you had prepared everything so diligently. So carefully. So sure it will work along schedule and project plan. As it had to.

As these things go, I had 3 New Year’s resolutions this year:
1. Run the San Francisco Marathon
2. Change something about my job and
3. Finally fulfill a dream that I have been having since I was at university: travel Iceland by bicycle

And as these things also go, and even as the year is barely half through, I have to admit that I only managed to live up to two resolutions:
First, I ran the San Francisco Marathon successfully three weeks ago. What an awesome event! I have blogged about it already.

Second, I changed my job significantly this week taking on a new challenge for SAP — and for myself. What an exciting opportunity!

Trolls...But number three, I had to cancel last week due to number two. And with that, the infamous “window of opportunity” has closed for this year — particularly given the weather conditions in Iceland. There’s currently no way to fit the trip into my schedule. Seems I know one New Year’s resolution for next year already.

But perhaps, just perhaps, these dreams you have for years are supposed to remain dreams. Just for the sake of it. Just to remind you that there’s more to long for. Otherwise — would it have been such a big dream over so many years?

Towards Greenland...So I sit in LH454 again, flying over the Norwegian Sea, approaching Greenland ahead, wondering whether everything does indeed happen for a reason as they say or whether it was the trolls and the fairies, watching us pass Iceland on the inflight info system, somewhere several hundred kilometers below and to the southwest, on our route from Frankfurt to San Francisco, absorbing the surreal scene like through a tiny window of a Sojus space capsule floating silently on its orbit in outer space, dreaming that one day, one fine day, one fine day finally, I am going to make it to Iceland… 😉

“I saw this image when I was a kid. The photograph of Jupiter taken by NASA’s Voyager.
Beautiful.
But nothing special until shown in rapid succession.
Suddenly Jupiter was alive. Breathing. I was hypnotized.”

[Rhoda Williams, Another Earth, 2011]

IMG_4255A journey is a person in itself; no two are alike. And all plans, safeguards, policing, and coercion are fruitless. We find that after years of struggle that we do not take a trip; a trip takes us.

[John Steinbeck, Travels with Charlie, 1960]

Last Sunday was the day: I am slowly recovering, trying to avoid stairs and too much walking around. The only good thing about the pain in the muscles and joints is the fact that you can easily tell they are still there. And that obviously I was putting a strain on them. If it wouldn’t hurt today, I wouldn’t have tried hard enough yesterday. That’s for sure. So all is at is should be, I guess.

San Francisco Marathon 2013 -- Start LineSan Franscisco Marathon 2013! Starting time was from 5:30am to 6:30am and runners were scheduled to get over the starting line in several waves, each at like 10 minutes distance. Since I was a bit too conservative about my finish time when I signed up last year, I ended up in wave 5 and soon figured out that I was in better shape than anticipated. So I was in a small crowd of people leaving the pack and closing in on the wave that started before us… That pretty much remained the case till during half of the run… Passing people which — actually — is a quite motivating moment when running. I was always thinking how it must feel if you start in a wave that’s too fast for you and you have other runners constantly passing you… Not exactly what I would like to have on my mind for 42 kilometers… 😉

The first 10K were just awesome! What a scenery! Starting at Pier 1, following Embarcadero and passing Fisherman’s Wharf, the Marina and then climbing up the hill towards Golden Gate Bridge which one could see coming closer slowly all the way since Fisherman’s Wharf! Blue skies above, the morning sun covering the Sausalito and Tiburon hills in a warm yellow light! These are the moments when you know why it was worth getting up at 4 in the morning.

Crossing Golden Gate Bridge was an event in itself. I know it may appear a bit sentimental, but this bridge is just a beauty in itself and running across it with thousands of fellow runners made the whole Marathon pay off already. The only downside was the relatively narrow running tracks in both directions and the fact that so many people were “squeezed” together so that getting along at your own pace was somehow difficult.

San Francisco Marathon 2013 -- Crossing the Golden Gate BridgeAfter having passed Golden Gate in both directions, the track turned through Presidio and the city behind towards Golden Gate Park. A nice part of the Marathon with great views onto the Pacific ocean occassionally, finalizing the sections of major ascent along the trail and giving hope to the Half Marathoners that the end — pardon — the finish line was near.

In Golden Gate Park, the Half Marathoners were send towards their finish line, while the Marathoners were send in turns left and write through the park. It felt as if there were water stations every 500 meters — something that would have been helpful rather towards the end of the Marathon where it felt as if they had forgotten one or the other… But perhaps that perception was only the result of my more and more desperate mind 😉

The second half of the Marathon actually was a bit disappointing from a scenic perspective. Leaving Golden Gate Park and going down Haight-Ashbury and Mission, things became more and more “boring” and when things finally turned towards the SF harbour area it was hard for me to keep up a high spirit and the previous pace (I had covered 36k after 3 hours). After several more turns that apparently were leading into the “wrong” direction — I knew the finish line is close to Bay Bridge — the track made it back towards the North, finally passing the AT&T Ballpark and laying out the last 1km in front of me. The last 6k had taken me 39 minutes to finish. Ouch! Couldn’t keep up the prior pace. But getting closer and closer to the finish line, and making it over it finally, was totally rewarding. That’s the moment when the pain of the past hours is all of a sudden forgotten!

I tend to believe that running a Marathon mimics life to some extent — it’s ups and downs, easier parts and more difficult ones, and it is 70% will to make it through and not give up if things become bumpy –, but there’s one big difference: While you can always predict how long a marathon is and what turns its track will take, life tends to have more sudden and surprising changes in direction in stock for you occasionally…

Running the marathon was awesome and I was totally happy to finish it successfully in 3:39h. Fun at its best!

And the City? She again left a mark. I ran the Marathon for her, I believe. And I am sure I’ll be back for another round soon…

Tomorrow’s the day. The day of the race. The San Francisco Marathon 2013.

I am totally excited. I have been waiting for this day for months now. Preparing. Thinking about it. Getting myself ready. Running a marathon in the City. Finally.

This morning I went out for a last run to stretch a bit and see how I feel. A slow and easy run. Not far from my hotel, but taking me to where the start and finish line will be tomorrow. At Pier 1 on Embarcadero. Nothing to see so far of the preparation, but tomorrow morning at 5:30am, when tens of thousands will be eager to get over the start line at a chilly 12°C, everything will be ready.

Let’s see how the 26.2 miles passing through the 49 square miles surrounded by reality will feel like. I am sure it will be fun. A lot of fun actually. And an extra bit of fun when I reach Bay Bridge again and make it over the finish line 😉

The City. I love her. She again leaves a mark.

IMG_6496

I think I was 14 or 15 years old, when I saw a documentary about Silicon Valley and its startup culture on German television back then. Being a young computer addict myself at the time already, hacking along on a Commodore VC64, I was completely fascinated by the innovation culture shown and the entrepreneurs and startup founders they interviewed. One of them was Andreas von Bechtolsheim, one of the founders of SUN Microsystems, an early investor into Google and now working on his new company, Arista Networks.

Sun-100-frontI can still remember how Andy was interviewed in the documentary: an enthusiastic guy with shining, smart eyes explaining that SUN was an acronym for Stanford University Network and that they had set out to build a powerful, networked workstation based on the UNIX operating system that would soon outpace the existing computers architectures both by computing power and by low price! For years this documentary has been the basis for my romantic dreams about once working in the Silicon Valley myself, which actually came true in 1996.

Well, what I hadn’t ever dreamed of was actually meeting Andy Bechtolsheim personally! How should I? But believe it or not, I met him yesterday for one and a half hours face to face. A Silicon Valley icon. Energetic as ever, his eyes alert and witty, and being so fast when talking about any topic we happened to get to, that I could barely follow… We discussed how cloud changes HW design, how the cloud is now becoming good enough for everyone/everything if even United States’ agencies use it, how the PaaS and IaaS market might grow to roughly 24B$ by 2020 getting 10 times it’s current size and how this will thus disrupt the markets of a number of big traditional IT companies, and how enterprise software is making its way into the Cloud as well. It was unbelievable to see how fast Andy could elaborate on all those topics, hard to keep pace with him as he went along the flow of ideas and facts… For sure Andy is one of the most impressive people I have met.

These are some of the surreal moments in life, I’d say… 😉

Since today, May 24th, 2013, SAP HANA Cloud provides support for Java EE 6 WebProfile capabilities not only for trial accounts (out since Nov 2012), but also in accounts for productive usage!

What is Java EE 6 Web Profile?
Java EE 6 Web Profile is a subset of the Java Platform, Enterprise Edition specifically targeted at web applications. This makes it a perfect fit for usage scenarious in the Cloud, which are typically lightweight. You can find more details on the Java EE 6 Web Profile here.

What does it mean for SAP customers and partners?
SAP customers and partners can build on these Java EE 6 Web Profile standards productively by using SAP HANA Cloud SDK for Java EE 6 Web Profile. Applications which need only basic Java EE web technology support can continue to work with SAP HANA Cloud SDK for Java Web, a lightweight SDK profile which supports a subset of Java EE technologies. The table below summarizes the differences:

Java EE 6 Web Profile

*) Java Mail is not part of Java EE 6 Web Profile specification (ref. JSR-316) but it is supported on SAP HANA Cloud

What does it mean for application developers?
With SAP HANA Cloud SDK for Java EE 6 Web Profile, you can:

  • Make productive use of a set of integrated Java EE technologies in your applications and thus realize sophisticated business logic which is based on open Java EE standards.
  • Utilize SAP HANA Cloud services in a standard Java EE environment – using JNDI or @Resource annotation thus making the source code easy to read and maintain.
  • Clean up your applications from some less digestible XML configurations required earlier by using standard Java EE 6 annotations in the source code.
  • Use the JPA provider of your preference rather than being required to take the one provided with the platform itself.

How can you use Java EE 6 Web Profile productively?
If you already have a productive account for SAP HANA Cloud Platform, then all you need to do is to update your Eclipse IDE to use the SAP HANA Cloud SDK for Java EE 6 Web Profile – you can either install it from scratch or update your existing SDK. That’s done with a few clicks within minutes. Then you can develop applications using the Java EE 6 Web Profile technologies listed above, deploy and run the application in you productive SAP HANA Cloud Platform account.

That’s it – enjoy!