Archive for June 6, 2009

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The recently opened 5-star luxury hotel in the heart of Nice on the French Riviera demonstrates that the upper classes never runs out of cash, even in the most dismal economic times. The Boscolo Exedra continues to live the spirit of the original Belle Époque building – as the refurbished contemporary version of the creativity, ingenuity and originality of that lavish historic period.

The building has kept its sumptuous, classical, pure Belle Époque façade and opulent interior decor, inspired by 18th century Rococo, which apparently has been painstakingly restored. The original building was designed in 1913 by the renowned architect Charles Dumas, right at the end of the Belle Époque – which could make you wonder what the refurbishment says about our time. Located in the heart of the city and set in green surroundings, on the quiet main boulevard, the hotel was originally with intention built far from the more popular lively areas, to cater for a wealthy middle-class clientele that preferred tranquil exclusivity to the crowds of the seafront promenade.

The common areas and rooms have apparently now been refurbished to become symbols of a refined contemporary approach that harmoniously blends with the original Louis XVI style. What I particularly like about it is the spacious feel that the whole place seems to breathe, and the organic shapes – for example of the marble-columned grand hall, which is said to be roofed in with multicolored glass. According to panachemag.com, the hall leads to a vast and exquisitely decorated dining room. On the other side is the immediately visible sculptural bar with its gentle, flowing lines of white Corian. The floor to ceiling wall paneling and the breakfast room’s floor are made of Burma teak, most certainly having contributed to rainforest destruction; an abundance of vegetation and modern vases provides a contemporary and luxurious ambiance.

Some of the rooms feature a common modular system with expandable living space. Refined finishing touches, such as marble and blond wood flooring as well as the ivory and cream hues of the walls set off the elegant white and gold furnishings of pure and rigorous shape, softened by refined details, at times recalling the decorative motifs of the past. The conference center too maintains the use of harmonious forms, adding a Venetian-style floor with red glass inserts that physically asserts itself in the rooms; however, its style is more dynamic, in keeping with the kind of work done inside. The hotel’s other large space is the roof terrace, which holds the sundeck, a restaurant with a view, and a swimming pool, whose subtle hidden light effects create suffused bands of light.

To me the hotel reflects the tension between beauty and class, between our ability and artistry to dream up and design allurement, elegance, refinement and style on the one hand and on the other have it become an expression of the inequality, social & environmental injustice and exploitative relationships in our society. And it is the latter that create the vast income and wealth gaps between the rich and poor and sustain the careless disregard for the natural environment that form the base for the creation of the material excesses and their aesthetics of class inspired beauty. The evocative, rich and distinct style of the Boscolo Exedra Hotel thus is an announcement and assertion of our society’s power structure; it mirrors the perpetual clash of beauty and ugliness found on so many levels in our daily lives.

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bingandgoogle

… not that I really wanted to – because Bing is Micro$oft ;). Nevertheless, after reading in gHacks about the BingAndGoogle mashup which allows to search in both engines simultaneously, I thought I give it a go. BingAndGoogle works well: in Chrome the search results of both engines came back in lightning speed and are presented in a double column, with the Bing And Google search field staying above both engine results while each engines’ search form is being maintained within the results columns (allowing for exclusive search with either engine). Both columns also retain the full functionality and layout that both Google and Bing offer in their stand-alone versions.

While I of course searched for something really serious (‘global warming’) ;), gHacks looked for something droll: ‘web browser’. The absence of one result on the first Bing results page is particularly interesting considering Bing is a Micro$oft product:

The search for web browser that is shown in the image above shows that both search engines list Firefox, Opera, Google Chrome (Google Browser), Safari and Flock on the main page. Google links to the Maxthon web browser additionally while Microsoft to the defunct Netscape browser. Funny though that both are not linking to Internet Explorer on their first results page.

For me, searching for web browser makes me wonder whether Google indeed is the superior engine. As mentioned in the gHacks quote above, Google offers a link to almost all well-known browsers on its first results page plus Maxthon, while Bing’s first nine search results include four commercial ones – in addition to sponsored sites – (2 for the same web design company, 1 offering a browser spell checker and 1 to the Australian consumer organisation Choice), 2 links to Google Chrome, 1 link to a Wikipedia article on web browsers, 1 link to MSN Web Messenger and 1 link to Apple’s Safari. In other words, 45% commercial links and just 22% of what I’d be really interested in: web browsers. If this outcome represents a general pattern, I won’t be using BingAndGoogle too often 😉 – which of course is not that mashup’s fault.

Screen2Exe

… it records screens to an exe file. Screen2Exe is a good solution when you want to send for example a video recording to a Windows user without having to be concerned about whether he or she has the right player to watch it.

It’s a very simple program with only a few options: you can choose between recording the whole or part of your screen content, record with sound or without sound plus you’ve got a few simple editing options like adding “annotations, images, delays, mosaics, to zoom or focus, cut the clip or to optimize the frames”. Post recording options like running a frame optimisation script to remove unnecessary frames to reduce the size of the output are also available. If you need a more sophisticated recording program, see gHacks for suggestions.

Windows only. Download Screen2Exe.

[Via gHacks]