Monday, December 31, 2007
[anything done for the first time releases demons...]
I think a big reason that people my age develop forms of mid-life crisis is the lack of "1st timers". Not necessarily because there exist fewer but because family life, mature social circles, and career structures make it quite hard to encounter 1st timers. You have to make an active effort to meet them, whereas in my younger days I would run across them daily or weekly.
Maybe that would constitute a fine New Year's resolution; weekly 1st timers...or maybe just monthly, depending on your degree of Weltschmerz and suburban assimilation.
Sunday, December 30, 2007
Christmas has come and gone. December was as always the shortest month of them all...3 weeks passing like a runaway freight train. Food was great, gifts were good, company was laid back and soothed a weary mind, tired of repetitive labour.
My brother and I managed to gift-cross each other with Gibson's new 'Spook Country' which I am now enjoying. Gibson has a special gift with urban and trendish settings, expanding the vocabulary of literature through lifestyle observations. Sometimes he gets a bit too poetic but it's ok - and actually more easily deciphered in his recent 'scifi-now' novels.
A lengthy mention goes to my immense accomplishment today - I managed to get my car stereo to work! This project has been haunting me and my car for 2-3 months now. Facts are, I bought a budget car radio to replace the one that was wrecked when our car was stolen last year. Ever the wanna-be handyman, I have also bought a Saab 9000 Haynes manual and expected the replacement of a stereo to be a walkover. But, it soon turned awkward because the new stereo did not come with a simple ISO connector - and even if it had, the old car stereo was itself a replacement during which the former handyman had opted to snippet ALL the in-bound wires and attach them to the old stereo through tiny, singular screw couplings.
So, I needed to attach 13-14 wires which was only possible after I had dislodged the entire glove compartment so I could get my hand in from behind to fixate the wires properly. On top of this, old Swedish Saab engineers seem to have been less rigorous with the colouring of wires than might be expected - I was juggling 3 different reds, 2 different greens and 2 different white-browns, constantly hoping that I would hit the right match to the stereo wires. I half expected the entire fusebox to blow up whenever I went out to reconnect the battery for testing. Testing in itself became a pain, because 3x2x2 gives 12 different combinations, 11 of which are unforgivingly wrong.
Since this all took forever, and my weekends were mostly booked for other things during the daytime, and the Danish winter dusk made it even more difficult to see wire colours, the project just dragged on and on. If I wasn't having a fit of rage the umpteenth time a test didn't even let out a single sound from the speakers, I was usually procrastinating, trying not to think about it. Stubbornly getting my music needs fulfilled through my portable MP3 player instead. Really a sad story of a frightened academic lost in the woods.
Then yesterday, I gave it another go without any luck. This morning I had a thought about switching two specific wires, and I decided on one last try. It worked. It must have been the single most uplifting moment since I was contacted on my job applications. But all things considered, I think I am better off earning money to pay people to do that! It just does not interest me enough, I'm afraid.
I will, however, try to install a new automatic aerial - once my handyman anxiety has subsided a bit.
New Year's Eve? A night with the neighbours, celebrating mostly through tonnes of food. This might have a chance of getting some airplay in the background. :)
Saturday, December 15, 2007
I am ill again - for the 3rd BIG time inside 2 months. I am seriously beginning to question my general health. Before this autumn I remember thinking how little I had actually been ill the past few years - child and all taken into account. And now it's turned into one massively diseased end-of-season, sprinkled with fragments of mediocre well-being.
I suspect my almost complete lack of exercise the past 6 months, since we moved to the countryside. I ride the car to work 3 out of 5 days. The rest is by bus. My only weekly exercise (apart from being a Dad which certainly also counts) is a good long walk from work to the school where I am currently studying Spanish, each Monday evening. Without that I would probably be snapping bones and losing teeth during work hours.
Speaking of illness, there is always someone worse off. Really sad, although I did wonder about the sinister tone that many of his supporters have been sporting. Until I read more on AD, that is, and realised what a bastard condition it actually is. Not because it is immediately dangerous, but because it is fairly inevitable. Symptoms may be suppressed but the chemical deterioration will steadily continue. And if PTerry has been having phantom strokes already then his case is surely not trivial.
He is trying to be cheerful, though - and on the bright side, I realised that Hogfather has already been produced as a mini-series. And 'The Colour of Magic' is also in the works, starring Sean Astin of The Shire.
So, in any event, Mr. Pratchett surely has triumphs to come and plenty of them.
And now it is almost Christmas - and I am steadily forgetting (as usual) to write my annual card to my friends in Australia. I think I will drop the paper format - and send a digital piece this year.
Gifts are almost in place - although Vat19 parked my order in limbo because of some weird credit card approval procedure they apparently have. Please, don't just park the order, less than a month from Christmas. Other web shops have a credit check incorporated directly and finish it straight away - why can't you?
Last comment is on the climate conference in Bali - once more a piece of hypocritical bullshit politics, flamboyantly showing the inability of ALL politicians across the globe to keep promises that got them elected. And, once more, the US makes an ass of itself, demonstrates its status as the Idiot Bully of the schoolyard. Obstructing the entire process till the very end...instead of giving concessions in the beginning that would have risked progress towards further, constructive steps.
I may still be skeptical towards the wobbly scientific rhetoric that is commandeering both media and world demagogues on this issue, but the fact that everyone has been barking about global warming the past year and yet cannot coordinate ANY substantial actions other than "now we agree that we will agree NEXT time", makes me infinitely disappointed and increasingly cynical. That feeling is not pleasant - what do I do? Usually, I laugh - but recently I find it harder and harder to laugh about this stuff. On a larger scale, it is all so monumentally incompetent that tragedy just kicks comedy in the bollocks.
Thursday, December 06, 2007
Graphics are nothing special but the depth of gameplay is extraordinary. Just one more turn, Mom...then I'll come eat supper...promise.
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
A very conservative estimate; I look up 6-8 things on Wikipedia, Merriam-Webster, Google, UrbanDictionary, whatever, during my average work day. Half of it is probably work-related, the other half is trivia or based on interests.
Wikipedia has the unique property of sending me off on link rampages, and I guess everyone experiences this. Yesterday, I read a fun article on the crappiest beasts of the old televised Star Trek series. I followed one of those beasts to Wikipedia, remebered that I had always wanted to know more about Q and went through to that section. From there, I went on to read about the Borg which lead me to a passage about physics and dimensionality and - briefly - to the anthropological description of the Finns (who are, by some, referred to as Borg). I then returned through the biography of Patrick Stewart. Star Trek waved goodbye by linking to the definition of fusion power which led me to Hydrogen-3 and the apparently impending space race to the Moon. Since that has to do with withering energy supplies, I returned to Earth through a Peak Oil reference. At this point I left Wikipedia, reading an interesting Wired article - in which a comment links to this.
Now, of course I don't really read all this. Like most webformation-addicts (I suspect that is what I have become) I have perfected a skimming-style that allows me to read 3-page articles in, say, 3-4 minutes. Definitely a heavy information loss there - I don't pick it all up. However, there is also a technique to reading blog and newspaper articles. I usually begin with the first 2-3 sentences, to get a feel for the topic. If I am interested, I jump to the last 4-5 sentences to judge the conclusion, if it is present. If the conclusion is as expected, I let it go and head on for other stuff to pique my curiosity. If the conclusion is absent or controversial, I begin scanning back towards the middle section - usually the meat of the arguments in any article lie between the 50% and 75% markers of the bulk text, this seems to be my experience.
I wasn't really aware that I did this skimming until someone commented the way I was skipping ahead (I have a habit of marking up the text with my cursor while reading it).
I expect these habits are quite common, but compared to how one reads a book the difference is really quite huge - and I think it goes to show how much one needs to "shut out" in order to get anywhere, webformationally speaking.
Anyway, my main point was the skepticism that this leads (should lead) to. The example with the whole Peak Oil discussion above is quite vivid. Both articles are well-written - the second is more biased and as such weighs in less on my overall opinion - but how are we to believe anything? I don't dare take a stand anymore - I'm still trying to fathom the mechanisms behind the immense discourse shift on global warming - not because of scientific evidence but because of media attention through Gore.
Disclaimer: I am not saying the evidence is not there...I am saying that it has, in its basic form, been there for at least a decade. Gore put it in the discourse. So does that make him a scientist or a spin-doctor? Assuming there is a difference these days...
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
Apparently, he wants to have fans remix and upload his latest album to the official site - but Universal are spooked because they are involved in a humongous lawsuit against YouTube and MySpace. Legal paranoia ruining a fine idea - even if it is not very ground-breaking. David Bowie did the same with one of his albums a couple of years ago - although I seem to recall it was tied to the music program Acid and some limited track selections. I remember I was all agitated and downloaded everything to give it a go - but lost heart after one measly evening of slider-pulling and creative vacuum.
Funny how you can be bubbling with ideas when walking under a clear sky. Then, when you want to activate and actualise all those dreams you are hit in the face by the inertia of reality's tools.
Hm, what a strange paragraph...I stand by it, though.
Well, back to the initial point - Saul Williams (left field poetic rapper) is giving away his album for free, much like Radiohead. Except he has optimised the concept and asked $5 for the really high-grade download (320 Kbit/s or FLAC). Very reasonable - I opted to pay even if 192 Kbit/s is usually fine for me.
Reznor is deeply involved in the production of said album - and that pairing cannot be half bad.
Monday, November 12, 2007
Wednesday, November 07, 2007
You guessed it, I'm sick of it already. I'm not sure if my late years at uni rendered me too academic and philosophical on social and economic issues - but I really do feel that the discourse is shamefully ignorant and shallow. Even worse, I think it is ignorant and shallow intentionally. As if there is a contract between politicians, however far apart, to never dive deep into anything of substance.
Of course, the spin and media dilutions of political issues have always been there...but I really feel it is getting worse every year. I wonder if it's just me, getting old, losing my ideological innocence, becoming ever more cynical.
This year has been promising, though, since 'Ny Alliance' has arisen to kick some excitement into the melting pot. Usually we have 2 or 3 "circus parties", as I like to call them, in the Danish parliament. Generally represented on the wings, of course. The far lefties that wail about human degradation and want communism reinstated in a cleaner form, the far righties that wail about immigration and want to shut out the surrounding world as much as possible. Both sides weigh in heavily on certain popular groups - often the helpless destitutes and the easily spooked elderly citizens, respectively.
'Ny Alliance' rose from the middle ground, apparently claiming a group of voters that were either just tired of the traditional political landscape or needed to express their support for the current government but wishing to expel the far righties.
Usually, this would suit me fine. I'm not too distraught with the policies of the current government - not on the basic economical level anyway. I do feel there have been too many mistakes made, eg. the war in Iraq, the immigration policies, the priorities on specific social areas. However, the country has been doing fine - and virtually everyone (except maybe incapacitated destitutes and immigrants) have the opportunity of a job these days. Perhaps the most important thing of all.
But, however nicely 'Ny Alliance' may suit my general feelings on the political landscape, they just seem too smooth and calculating. The past couple of days were really bad. They seem to be catering to the most popular topics on both sides of the divide, gathering a nice bouquet to entice the voters with. It seems too glittery and "marketed". So, I am thinking of them increasingly as the third circus act of the election show.
I am also thinking of making my own party, something like The Reasoned People's Party. Main goal is to present accurate facts and figures. And insist on 5 minutes of answering time for each question on nationally transmitted debates.
Now, that would constitute Utopia.
Tuesday, November 06, 2007
Place? Neatorama's occasional Caption Monkey contests - good fun :) And with prizes too!
PS. I stubbornly refrain from using silly language. Good old English will suffice.
Thursday, November 01, 2007
Friday, October 19, 2007
Today I never bothered to get up for work. Illness was on the rise this past week, today was too much.
After shipping the lad to kindergarten, the girlfriend and baby decided to go to town. I was alone...for the first time in...eh...can't say, actually. Almost 1½ months, maybe?
That is the one thing that bothers me most about family life. The lack of privacy. I think I have discovered myself to be a loner these past years, relatively speaking. I really need those occasional puffs of solitude at the surface - and then it's all a matter of making this acceptable and even scheduled, if possible. But, when you're not big on schedules these things tend to slip - and then the pressure cooker starts whistling. I've got to get better at planning steam-venting getaways =)
Thursday, October 18, 2007
Friday, October 12, 2007
They are currently discussing how to get on from here, since the framework support will cease within a few years - and the idea of a completely new start (named "The Big Bang" approach) is nothing but scary. Platform migration was done once before - and was entirely cumbersome, resulting in years of patching.
So, the idea is to cut the system up into more or less self-contained parts that may be swapped for specialized new commercial pieces of software.
Main problem now is getting to grips with the connections between software parts, users, and organisational structures. It reminds me of a process I saw with LEGO a few years ago - in which they also were trying to abolish, maintain and develop their software system - all at the same time.
I suddenly thought of visualising the whole thing, when dozing off at a meeting yesterday - so now I am on the lookout for 3D data visualisation tools that may have system data added (preferably along several dimensions) and then show the entirety of the mess. I've looked into a few already on this page - unfortunately, many are quite old...and have no easily accessible interface - which is sort of key - if you want many different actors to use them readily.
Things of note, so far: GraphViz, Atlas info, Tinderbox, mind-mapping.org
The latter points to an interesting list, with 3D Topicscape as the first reference. Promising at first sight - but I quickly found that it was really only a narrowly hierarchical structure that it could visualise. A shame with all that 3D and then they only use it for things better shown on regular diagrams.
I want the x,y,z dimensions to hold parameter references - and nodes that are equally dependent, not necessarily in a parent-child relationship. I want navigation around clouds of connected elements, coloured by their business value, ordered by their program hierarchy, translated by their [insert parameter here].
Still looking....makes me annoyed I didn't become a graphical coder.
Seems I have found something useful in TheBrain. Not exactly 3D...but the way of adding, linking and dragging nodes has me somewhat persuaded. After all, what good is a big, shiny 3D structure if it is impossible to update easily or navigate quickly. Seems like TopicScape actually imports TheBrain XML-structures...so maybe I can visualise it all more deeply later on.
Next step is to get to work and start adding systems data...=)
Sunday, October 07, 2007
My gfx-card (ATI x800 pro) was nowhere near even the bottom of Tom's Hardware tests. And I've hardly played anything but WoW with it...wasted my money on it back then, I did.
I find it a bit odd that games are also still pushing Moore's envelope. But then again it is only a few games that can provide the quality of content that Bioshock supposedly does.
The trick is trying to avoid wasting my money this time - a colleague just assembled a fairly nice machine for about 3000 Dkr in parts, which is peanuts. I'd like to spend a bit more maybe - but then again come 6 months and it's worth half already.
The worst thing is RAM systems - I tried to find an internet guide on it but most are 5-6 years old. Luckily, I found this table - which also shows the formula by which SDRAM is calculated. One of those things you need to study again each time you need it :)
RAM type Theoretical max. bandwidth SDRAM 100 MHz 100 MHz X 64 bit= 800 MB/sec SDRAM 133 MHz 133 MHz X 64 bit= 1064 MB/sec DDRAM 200 MHz (PC1600) 2 X 100 MHz X 64 bit= 1600 MB/sec DDRAM 266 MHz (PC2100) 2 X 133 MHz X 64 bit= 2128 MB/sec DDRAM 366 MHz (PC2600) 2 X 166 MHz X 64 bit= 2656 MB/sec RDRAM 600 MHz 600 MHz X 16 bit= 1200 MB/sec RDRAM 700 MHz 700 MHz X 16 bit= 1400 MB/sec RDRAM 800 MHz 800 MHz X 16 bit= 1600 MB/sec
Thursday, September 27, 2007
However, this guy comes close - and now he has started blogging!
Hint: All people that claim to recognise depth, humour, and intelligence should be like this -> \o/
Saturday, September 22, 2007
Although we were not all that close, we always had time to stop and chat - and give each other updates on life and mutual acquaintances. We were classmates at university since 1996.
As late as Friday, 3 weeks ago, I thought of him during the 25th anniversary gathering of IMV. Wondered why he wasn't there, actually - since I knew that he still worked on campus.
I feel quite sad. I always thought he was one of the nicest people I knew during my university studies and work.
This coincides with another recent tragedy where one of my Roskilde festival buddies' 7-year-old son also died from some kind of brain tumour. Makes you feel way too fragile.
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
Halfway through the Wiki explanation, I still didn't get it.
What the hell is so special and hilarious about digital pictures with subtitles? This stuff has been going on for the past decade; we did similar stuff back in '96-'97 at Uni. Yet, the web pop culture seems so (im)mature now that it only takes one funny caption, allowing for replication and customization - and then everyone goes ape shit, invents new terms, entire fandom websites, not to mention taking up space in otherwise respectable news media.
You've got to hand it to American pop culture - they really know how to arouse each other when they're bored. That's probably how cheerleading and professional wrestling was invented.
Thursday, September 13, 2007
She's, of course, adorable - and very mild-mannered so far. Nevertheless, she does get a bit grumpy when deprived of pacifiers of any sort. :)
There has been so much to do and get in order that I am still fairly knackered - but I'll try to put up some better descriptions soon, along with some photos.
I'm on a short 2-week paternal leave, yet I feel as stressed out as ever!
Here's a couple of shots. Thor is overjoyed as you might suspect from his expression.
And then there is me, at post-op (we had a caesarian). Cute, but I dread the huge turd underneath that hair cap of mine. It sure gives Donald Trump a run for his money.
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
Sites like Flight, Insanely Twisted and the blog of Michel Gagné make me wish I had started properly back then.
Still, I guess I always found cartoons a fun pastime, not an obsession. And I think you need to be almost obsessed to make a living off it. I remember attending a cartoon convention in Melbourne (or was is Sydney?) back in 1995. At the time, I thought I was getting pretty good but when I saw what some youngsters were creating, I sort of lost heart. Talent be as it may, it mainly requires very high amounts of dedication, practice and maybe also an inspiring environment of like-minded artists or aficionados. Cutting edge cartoons were not readily available in Northern Jutland back then..! :D
I might have a small amount of talent - but I think persistence is more important. I'm not patient enough to be a cartoonist, but I wish I was.
Sunday, August 26, 2007
Friday, August 24, 2007
Friday, August 17, 2007
Apparently, an error in one of the subsystems of the Nordic Stock Exchange (OMX) put the Maersk stock on the market for a measly 1,99 Danish crowns. 150 transactions went through, before the error was discovered. One transaction involved 556.200 stocks - which, in a less unforgiving world, would have saved the lucky buyer more than 35 billion Danish crowns (since the Maersk stock is generally going for about 65.000 DKR each).
The faulty transactions are, of course, already annulled. However, I wonder how they measure the indirect costs of the error. If we assume it took 10 minutes before the error was corrected and the assets were frozen, then a drop of, say, 2% (the Danish stock fell quite a bit during the first hours of today) would mean that the sellers "avoided" losses of nearly 15 mio. DKR.
Of course, I expect that the stock value is written back and updated correctly. And if it is not, then I'm going into brokering software.
Have a look at the posting on the Simulation Argument which assumes that the Matrix plot might have some real merit. Personally, I think it's an artificial construct, assuming way too much. But it's a funny thought, at least.
Nice bits of compiled techno-babble.
In other news, I am well into home improvement at the moment. Yesterday I got into a fistfight with a roll-up curtain and this weekend I might look at tool shed insulation...a domain of kings.
Wednesday, August 08, 2007
I would wake up in the middle of the night and be completely paralyzed. Hearing, feeling and thinking as if awake. Not seeing, naturally, since I couldn't force open my eyes.
It happened maybe once a month over a period of 4-5 months. At first it was quite scary. Once the sense of capture seeped through my sleepiness, a huge sense of claustrophobia would kick in. I would start struggling, trying desperately to move a limb - sit up, flail an arm, get those eyelids up. Sometimes it resulted in a violent break-through. I must have looked like an unlucky fish out of water, caught up in my sheets, gasping.
Later on, I actually got used to it. Tried to go with flow and sense the physical state I was in. It was virtually impossible to go back to sleep, though. The feeling of powerlessness was usually too heavy to ignore.
It concerned me a great deal, of course. I also had a lot of "falling into sleep" in the literal sense of the expression - most people have probably tried this. The big sleep-dive that has you jerking like an idiot.
I researched it and became aware of the medical concept of "sleep paralysis" (although the phrase had not been so accurately coined back then). The human brain sends signals - in the form of hormones and neurotransmitters - to the muscles, telling them to ignore physical instructions during the dream sleep phases. Sometimes the brains sends too much or lets one wake up before the effect has worn off...and then you're in the iron maiden.
It hasn't happened to me in a long time now. Probably because I never get as much sleep nowadays as back in my student days. Fuck all risk of me waking up late at night these days =)
This fun article / tutorial spurred my memory, however. I have had lucid dreams, too - but I only recall them dimly, none of them so totally in control as the article suggests.
I'm not sure I want to experiment with my dream phases - but it is tempting. The absence of logical coherence when you're dreaming is fascinating, especially because that same absence seems so perfectly natural in situ.
Monday, August 06, 2007
Sunday, August 05, 2007
Friday, August 03, 2007
I was struck with a heavy feeling of recognition - due to my few attempts at the roleplaying game Ars Magica. Also focused on "true magic" and mythical, un-categorizable faery folk.
Set in the 1800s, it also reminded me of "The Baroque Cycle". Read this if you haven't!
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
I've had a great vacation, though. 9 days in sunny Austria...with soaring temperatures and bikini sightings. Back in Denmark, I am trying to adjust to temperatures as low as 16-17 degrees. I really, really hate this climate.
On the upside, we got a new sofa yesterday. It's about the size of an aircraft carrier...zzZZzzzzZZZZZZzzzz...
The Tour de France is looking mighty good from there. Naturally, I am cheering for another Doped Dane of Doom:
"Hey, at least we're almost honest about it."
Sunday, July 15, 2007
This past monday I returned from what was by all non-participants generally agreed to be a disaster, namely the Roskilde Festival.
We had some rain, sure. In fact, we had twice the amount of rain that the next-worst year provided (1997). My tent got washed away by a mud flood Thursday around noon. I still have scars on my calfs from where my wellingtons gnawed (before I got smart and padded them properly).
Nevertheless, the drama has been a bit exaggerated by the media, I felt - once I got home and had a chance to study the reactions. Wednesday and Thursday up to the official festival start it rained for 30 hours straight - a single, long event that pretty much caused all the problems. I´m not sure I have ever experienced 30 continuous hours of fierce rain, not even in Denmark. By noon on Friday, however, the weather was tolerable with only few showers and, at least in our camp, the mood was flying high. After all, this year people had been prepared for troublesome weather, unlike in e.g. 2004.
Saturday and Sunday was a blast - and all the adversity, in a sense, only contributed to the feeling of togetherness and common cause. Strangers at Roskilde had even more to talk about this year (not that they usually hold themselves back).
Musically, I didn´t have my most active year. I quickly realized that the sheer mud-wrestling energy necessary to see all the bands I wanted to was way too high. So, instead I relaxed a bit and chose a fair selection of known goodies as well as smaller acts.
My best experiences this year (in no particular order):
CSS - great party.
Mahmoud Ahmed - Ethiopian funky vocalist supreme.
Stones Throw (Percee P) - this guy can flow.
Beastie Boys - no comment necessary.
The Who - I remember I thought it was good.
Flaming Lips - weird and different and quaint and feel good.
K´naan - Somali new-yorker with a message. I´m getting that album ASAP.
Justice - french excentric house madness.
Looking back at the program, I see at least 5 acts that I really regret not seeing. But that was this year´s festival for you. Mud madness had you making too many last minute decisions.
I was sick of seeing reviews of e.g. the Chili Peppers in Ekstra Bladet when I got home. I agree it was no awesome concert, but they did most of it at a medium level. Flea´s bass play alone is enough to generate a good show. Thomas Treo at that crap paper gave them 0/6 which just shows that too many reviewers either come out each evening from their cosy Copenhagen apartments or sit in hiding in the backstage Media Village trying to not get mud on their fashionable pants before they venture out to take a peak at the artists. There is too much of that musical snobbery going on at the moment, methinks.
Pitchfork was attending the festival this year - they have some good coverage including fantastic photos - go take a look (search for "Roskilde").
It´s fun to read an American perspective on the whole thing, although I think they use too much space on artists they have previously experienced or already condone professionally.
Oh, and they are a bit prissy when it comes to excessive drinking and urine. They´re young...I guess they can still learn.
Happy summer to all - I´ll try to post some pictures as I receive them.
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
Friday, June 22, 2007
A certain option allows ATnotes to minimize the notes and park them for later onMouseOver access - which works pretty well for me right now =)
Sunday, June 10, 2007
Moreover, a good sound check initiative here. It's not all that amazing and has a clear bias towards metal. Much more convenient than Last.FM, though - I doubt I am ever going back there...every 2nd mouse click a waste of time, bleh...
Tuesday, June 05, 2007
Might as well list a few of them - maybe someone has access to these exact things - if so, I'd love to hear about it :)
- An application- or window-based notes apparatus
Right now I have a more or less crazy setup at work where I access the development platform remotely on a distant rack server. Beside issues like latency and singular command transfers of e.g. mouse clicks and scrolling interactions, I'm annoyed when having to remember say 3 or 4 concurrent minor projects. Since the tasks are very similar both in content and nomenclature (many work orders and packages have almost the same ID tags), I'm regularly confused and inhibited in my mental "flow" which, as popular psychology would have it right now, is critical to efficient task handling during one's work hours.
I'd like a notes app that attaches notes (post-its or the like) to specific development applications, ideally to specific windows within those same applications. So, if I am holding 2 windows related to one project and 4 related to another project, the notes application shows relevant notes contextually for whichever windows I have configured and subsequently activated. Of course, I could theoretically ALT+Tab my way to a dedicated notes document, but in my case the remote calls generally fuck that up - they cannot distinguish between Alt+Tab at home and "abroad".
The functionality should be useful regardless of remote development, anyway. Digital post-its have a tendency to become increasingly invisible to me by each passing minute, and such an app would help call them into focus exactly when needed.
- A personal tag/shop/item list
Probably covered in one way or the other by certain e-shopping sites or services like del.icio.us, but nevertheless I found myself dreaming of a service (likely a FF add-on) that could help me store specific products, collected through the random cool-surfing that particularly BoingBoing, Lifehacker and Neatorama are responsible for, in my case.
In other words, a repository that - upon receiving a tag from a specific product posting (like this cool clock) - would store the URL for easy panel access and also provide updated pricing information. Perhaps along with some statistics on price development, stock status, recent related products, or the like. I'm not sure if products in general (apart from books, I guess) have completely unique identifiers accessible through web scrapes - but if so, one could also imagine price comparisons across several vendors.
As it is now, I all too often come by gadgets, books, furniture, etc., which I store on my Del.icio.us or in my bookmarks and then usually forget. Sometimes I'm not sure about whether I want it, sometimes I don't have the money, sometimes it's not available. The point is having the "system" remind me and keep it zuhand.
- Productivity twittering
I've been following some of the debate on Twitter and its (non-)usefulness. I was ever the staunch critic of the concept of spamming strangers with atomized everyday crap - but experiences on my not-always-so-lively team of developer colleagues has made me ponder twittering in a productivity sense. Bearing the earlier description of some of my work in mind, we lads at work are sometimes so concentrated on handling all the reigns that we forget to communicate entirely. This happens despite the fact that most people there have known each other for years and certainly know that the bloke at the next desk is an expert on so-and-so specific data process. Basically, it's the well-known dilemma of knowledge sharing in an environment that both demands relative calm in order to get things done, but also could jump many leagues if communication was better nurtured and accurately timed.
The idea could be to expand a given messenger-service with a sort of twitter notification property. This would allow a developer to "post" a current activity or shortly stated problem through a common, real-time medium. It should stay non-obligational so that receivers could choose to ignore or postpone any feedback - but, once again, the goal is just to make topics visible but only intrusive to a certain extent. So, no pop-ups that need receiver acceptance or dismissal - maybe just a transient interface alteration that teases a bit.
I'm aware that RSS as a broad concept is useful for some of this. Problem is, not all people - not even developers - keep an eye on the feed reader all day long. Nor do they really want another application to handle, professionally. It would only involve more navigation and distraction. My guess is the key is to use existing, accepted time-eaters and just nudge them towards my stated goal - possibly abandoning their original purpose altogether.
Soon Lotus Notes 8 is arriving to my work place, and I know it will feature lots more RSS-related stuff...but I still bet bloatedness will be the order of the day, not simple improvements. I hope I'm wrong.
I have other small ideas...some of them more graphically rooted - one day I hope I have the time and technical insight to work on these things actively. :)
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
Thursday, May 17, 2007
I remember my horror when Wolfowitz was first appointed. A man so biased and with his right wing cowboy-hawk track record should never have been appointed to that office.
It is quite ironic that a man accused of nepotism is now being defended vigorously by his old buddies in the political system. If that doesn't constitute political nepotism and a lower form of corruption, then I don't know what does. I know it's all part of the geopolitical game but at the very least the Americans should have the decency to acknowledge due process - saving Wolfowitz' face doesn't help either the World Bank nor the US administration itself. It only enhances the feeling that there is some kind of Men's Club over there, always ready to bend global issues to favour personal causes.
According to NYT, it's really the British that have no balls and continue to suck up to an American administration that is probably weak as never before. What does it take to challenge the American political arrogance, even when they continue to fuck everything up?
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
Last.FM is a beginner's disaster, however. As a registered user I see a general level of menus to access Last.FM on the surface. I also have my personal profile (accessed by either a very small link to the far left or to the far right) and a Dashboard (first thought to be the same thing as the profile)...which I think handles the building of my musical profile. Each of the sub-levels hold 7-8 distinct menu tabs. I was on the verge of giving up when I finally found a way to actually see the Roskilde 2007 group I had previously subscribed to.
Why on earth make things so complicated and bloated? Pandora has a much easier concept...but I still - much more easily - manage to hear the music I like. LFM is obviously extremely customizable...but I get so weary when I enter the page :/
Pandora's shut down for extra-terrestrials, by the way. Easily circumvented, I read. Some simple proxy setting in the browser should do it. No idea where I read it, unfortunately. Must tag more often.
Wednesday, May 09, 2007
IBM VisualAge Generator (v.4.5)
NetOp Remote Control
This gadget works a charm, actually - although I have no clue how complicated it is to configure. Danware.
Reflection for IBM
Mainframe connectivity/emulation software. We use it to access what we program, as users.
Mainframe connection app. We use it to access what we program, as nerds.
Lotus Notes (v. 6.5.4)
The user interface is a disaster - learning curve surpassed only by the slopes of Everest. Still, it is extensive...and covers a lot of ground if you're a medium-large company. This version is from 2003...the new 2008 looks promising, with blog, wiki and web2.0 features integrated.
A test management environment. Seems pretty cool and customizable.
Advanced Query Tool
Used for accessing and checking the DB2 database records on various accounts. Neat little program for the SQL dependant.
Apart from these, Word and Excel are the order of the day - of course.
I'm also getting very much into productivity tools, thanks to my favourite site at the moment, Lifehacker.
Through it, I stumbled upon the best app of the year.
I even integrated it into the remote VisualAge development through NetOp that I need to do every day. Mouse scrolling bliss restored remotely..!
Wednesday, April 11, 2007
Thursday, March 22, 2007
I started with EDB Gruppen on March 14th - after an interview for a project coordinator position they asked me if I wanted to join them as a developer instead. Not sure whether that was a compliment or not, but in any event I've now begun my new career. I'm currently trying to find out what the hell is going on around me.
I'm working with the CargoLink division which is the department that handles the main transport ERP system for the big big DSV transport group. Basically, if DSV wants some cargo to go from A to B, CargoLink makes them able to book trucks/planes/ships, pick up, and deliver that cargo - as well as invoice the crap out of every player involved.
It's an old 70's system, recently ported from HP3000 to the IBM AIX platform...so it's UNIX and DB2 SQL mingled with some old COBOL code. And if that gibberish means nothing to you, think about how I feel..! I doubt the sentence was quite accurate.
I'm not sure how I feel about this job just yet. On one level, it's very interesting because I'm experiencing "real stuff" that makes "real physical actions" happen. Not as "virtual" and conceptual as most of my other projects. On the other hand, it doesn't feel all that sexy - and I'm still wondering how my broad skills are going to come into play in the long run, if I am to specialize in very specific system functionalities.
But, then again, I've often felt that I lacked some deeper technical insight and a bit of dirt on my shoes...so hopefully this will just enhance my generalist skills even more.
The workplace is great on all other levels. Nice location, good facilities, benefits and a great cantina :)
Tuesday, March 06, 2007
Similarly, I'm getting fed up with my Google startpage. Recently, they added a fold-out functionality, so you can read entire articles within the startpages instead of spawning a new tab. Good stuff but it doesn't go down well with all kinds of feeds, of course. Also, I am getting pretty tired of its dull appearance. So far, my browser (FF) starts with a GMail tab and the Google Startpage. I want to put all those 3 things together, since I am actually checking mail/news 3 or 4 different places. You get to the point where all your nice little helpers divert your attention so much that you are wasting time instead of saving it.
So, I went to look at some alternatives...and I thought I might as well list them here, briefly commented:
- The extensive one. Everything is here and the focus is clearly on news feeds. Styling is nice but options of customization are few.
- Tight and neat. Compares to Webwag and is strictly functional. I can't decide whether it's too boring. Love the "flakes" metaphor, though :)
- The playground. You can drag anything anywhere. Yikes. Luckily, you can turn on "gravity" to bind feeds in place. The background is fully customizable, nice touch. Something about the styling puts me off, though. Too idiot happy, maybe the Protopuppy reminds me of Stimpy...and the lower menu hangs when I scroll, too.
- I nearly chose this over Google in the beginning. Maybe I should have...the styling is nice and neat, not too much, not too little. Since this is a newcomer, I'm doubtful of durability and compatibility.
- The all-in-one. I chose "personal homepage" as the start template...you can do "blogging" instead and one or two others. It's admittedly very good. The styling is nice and simple, yet characteristic. You can scale it as you wish...move into blogging further down the road. Problems: apparently it doesn't go beyond 1024 pixels, so I have 1/4 of white browser space to the right. Not pretty. Also, it has 3 privacy levels that can be configured per feed through an ugly drop-down. I don't want that choice, basically. Don't default it - who makes a startpage with feeds that need hiding? I'd place my porn a lot deeper than that..!
- The stylish gay cousin (let's call him Mac). When you see this, you automagically think "oh, man...this has to be sluggish"....but in fact, it's not too bad. It has some of the happy stuff of Protopage...but a bit more subtle and designer-like.
I know I've left some out...but I don't know which...so feel free to point me in other directions.
My choice? Tough one. My rational mind says Netvibes, or possibly Pageflakes/Webwag. You get tight, no-nonsense service. However, the dull Google startpage has me craving for something pleasing to the eye...something that actually makes me want to look at the headlines every morning.
Netvibes can come on a bit strong because there is so much text. Protopage is too much stress. Webjam is great but has a few, serious flaws. Pageflakes is prehaps a bit stronger than Webwag, if not in terms of style then in terms of feed setup and the option of importing feed templates.
That leaves Yourminis which I have chosen...as soon as I get the time to configure it properly! It may disappoint me with bloatedness and lag, but it looks good and seems fun to interact with. And it is certainly different from the other industry leaders...which gives me street cred in my own shallow mind...
Friday, February 16, 2007
Tuesday, January 30, 2007
Other than that, I'm attending a 6 week course on project management - as defined and documented by the Project Management Institute (PMI). It's a crash course so I'm not getting any formal PMI certificate...but I will receive a limited course certificate.
It's great to get out of the flat and meet some new people with real experiences and different views on life, business, and not least unemployment :P
The course is quite good. Through my education I was always taught how to criticize the formal tools that this course hands you. The "new" project paradigm was preferred as the academic default. This course, however, gives me a much more exact picture of the tools, schemata, and procedures that are the foundation of that same critique. So, I'm learning project management backwards, one might say. It's good because I feel much more conscious about what methods fit which situations and projects. And why much of the "new" critique is well-aimed, providing you're acting within a modern and flexible organization.
Yesterday, I started attending a Spanish course - I figured that learning another language might be sensible before I succumb to mild Alzheimer's. 'Twas good fun and my few experiences in Spain with the company helped nicely as far as translation and "feel" was concerned.
I have to admit, that the "learning-by-heart" aspect of any language start-up is something I have to get used to again. That's a part of my brain that has been suspended for a long time...and now it's getting bashed in by two courses at once!
As a final but powerful note, we're expecting our second child sometime during the fall - actually, my girlfriend figured out the date to be the exact same as Thor's birthday - freaky. I am not exactly fully aware of the fact yet...life goes on...and the excited thrills and fears of our debut haven't appeared this time. But gradually we are adjusting and the next goal is to find a better place to live. We're sick of this flat by now...and it will be too small for 4 people anyway.
If only some certainty could be introduced through my getting a job, for instance...
Thursday, January 11, 2007
It's a repository for a lot of mix shows and DJ performances in the US - as far back as the mid-80's. Right now, I'm listening to an 85/86 show from Detroit. The sound quality isn't exactly great - but adds to the atmosphere somehow.
This is really great. It's quite difficult to find live DJ performances - gradually getting easier through the internet, of course.
Sadly, Deephouse is a bit contaminated with Realplayer formats...but I've managed to kill all the malicious sub-processes of my Realplayer, so I'm pretty ok with the *.ram downloads, actually. =)
Tuesday, January 02, 2007
Holidays were good. We celebrated Christmas in our summer house in Southern Jutland. My Dad, unexpectedly, chose to participate (he hates this season) and he invested in 3 semi-pro light chains to decorate the house. The result instantly reminded me of some of the happier bars and restaurants in Bangkok. We only needed a proper karaoke system but a few German Christmas game shows turned out to be adequate replacements.
New Year's Eve took place in Aarhus at a friend's flat. I brought the light chains for that venue...great night with old friends. We even popped out for a bit of night life. Of course, I got hammered and had to stagger home in a wet gale, at one point guiding and helping a young lad find his mate's flat. A real good deed so early in the new year.