Saturday, 06-Feb-10 19:48
Mathematical PC

Our kid got a Fisher-Price school bus as a birthday present. Of course, it is very healthy and politically correct: it has a black person and a hispanic person and a girl and a boy and a plump one and one with eye glasses and a disabled one and a responsible adult as a driver and whatnot.

The fun thing is the amount of optimization which has been put in the system to minimize the number of figurines they ship with the bus. There are only three figurines (and a wheelchair, so anyone of them can be disabled): Carlos, Maggie and Michael.

Somewhere in the world, there's a person who's thought all this through. And an engineer who designed the production line.

Amazes me always to think about it.

Monday, 18-Jan-10 01:15
JSPWiki on a cell phone

Click for bigger image.
I got encouraged by someone's tweet and decided to try this on my N900. And turns out it wasn't that difficult even, just did the following things:

  • Download Sun's preview of Java 6 on ARM and transfer to N900
  • On N900 mkdir /opt/java, untar the downloaded JRE there
  • Copied existing Tomcat installation with JSPWiki 2.8 to /opt/tomcat/ (could've also done an installation from scratch, should've worked)
  • Used QEmacs to tweak a couple of config files (server.xml needed the default Tomcat control port changed away from 8009, and jspwiki.properties needed to point at the right directory)
  • set up JAVA_HOME to point at the /opt/java/ejrexxx dir.
  • run /opt/tomcat/apache-tomcat-5.5.16/bin/startup.sh
  • point browser at http://localhost:8080/JSPWiki/

And voila - we have a full Java JSP webapp (the same one that is currently serving you these pages) running on a cell phone. Since my setup stores all wikipages as flat text files, I can use it as a local text editor with hypertext editing capabilities. Or comes else comes to mind.

Nice...

(Tried shooting video too, but it was too blurry on my backup camera.)

Monday, 18-Jan-10 00:20
Twenty years

It's been twenty years now that the first set of massive changes in my life started: that is, graduation from high school, moving from home to a whole new place to study in the university. So the past few months have been punctuated by a number of parties - the 20 year anniversary class reunion from high school; and the reunion from the class which started at the same time at the university.

It is interesting to see familiar faces and see how vastly different the life has become for them. But it's also interesting to see how more narrow the funnel becomes: the folks in my high school class ended up living all over the country and have all sorts of varying jobs from a farmer to nurse to doctor to engineer.

Then again, almost all the people from my university class work in middle management or R&D, live near Helsinki, and have two kids. The life story from almost everyone was eerily similar: studies, a bit of work abroad, back to Finland, get a couple of kids, get a stable job, and just do it. No artists, no farmers. Only a few had left Finland for good.

So we weren't really that different from each other. The passions that drove us to the same place in the beginning stayed with us and made us remarkably similar. It's as if we became who we were in the first 20 years, and after that we were unable or unwilling to change. Perhaps it just means that we figured out who we truly were and what we wanted to do.

But a part of me still feels as lost as on those early days as we walked through the corridors of the university, bright-eyed and full of ourselves. I didn't really know then what I wanted to be when I grew up. I still don't know what I want to be when I grow up.

I just have a lot less time to worry about it these days.

Sunday, 27-Dec-09 00:10
Priha alpha releases available

I'm happy to announce the availability of Priha 0.7.0 alpha release from http://www.priha.org/!

Priha is an implementation of the JSR-170 Java Content Repository Standard. Essentially it means that if you design your Java app around JSR-170, you have a nice, structured key-value store with queries and you don't have to care about database schemas and other low-level stuff. Priha currently has full Level 1 and Level 2 support, and out of the optional features it supports locking.

Priha was designed to be extremely embeddable, and you can run it with no extra dependencies whatsoever, aside from the regular JRE. A single JAR file is all you need (and of course the jsr-170-api JAR)!

And yes, Priha does now pass the TCK test suite, in case you were wondering. I haven't yet bothered to go through the hoops of officially certifying it, though it might be cool at some point.

Friday, 25-Dec-09 15:37
Built-in epicfail

I like to juggle. I'm not particularly good at it, but it soothes my nerves and I can use it to focus my concentration if it starts wandering.

What's quite interesting that whenever someone sees me juggle with three balls, they invariably ask whether I can juggle four balls. If I juggle with two balls, they ask about three. If I happen to be juggling four, they ask about five. It never fails. I'm pretty sure that if I were to juggle something insane like twelve balls, I would be asked about thirteen.

I've come to the conclusion that it must be because people like to see others fail. It does not matter how much you can do, but it's what you can't do that interests people.

There's something utterly fascinating about that.

Wednesday, 23-Dec-09 13:49
Why suing TV-kaista is a really bad idea

Unsurprisingly, the media corporations have hit one of the most awesome services in Finland, TV-kaista with a lawsuit. They are using copyright law as their strawman argument ("you can't make money on the stuff that we produce"), but it's a bad argument because you can use the exact same argument against the guy who sold you a television or the digibox or the PVR.

Now, TV-kaista is essentially a PVR on the web, which is what makes it so awesome. They store all the TV programs for the past two weeks, meaning that if you miss something, you can always go back and watch it. I can even do that from my cell phone. This is perfect for consumers, and really changes the way you watch TV. They are lighting the way to media consumption for the future, and steer us away from using dodgy Bittorrent services. The use of my own PVR has been reduced to pretty much recording content from pay channels, which aren't yet on the service.

Interestingly, because of the way our ancient copyright legislation works, TV-kaista has no choice but to give everyone a personal PVR in their datacentre. So all the data and processing power is duplicated for every single user, leading an enormous waste and strain on the environment in duplicated electricity and electronics cost. If they were allowed to store the TV streams just once, they could essentially allow us to get rid of our digiboxes who sit idly most of the day and night and leech electricity.

Not only that, who would ever bother to innovate around content in Finland anymore, now that they know they will always be subject to short-sighted lawsuits?

Short-sighted? Yes, you see - TV-kaista is essentially an aggregator of multiple video streams. The media houses don't like that - they want you to go to their own websites for the online content. And because they cannot aggregate their competitor's streams, their service can never be as good as an aggregator's one could be. So their only recourse is to sue the superior competition out of existence. And in doing so, they're essentially condemning consumers to crappy services forever. "Only we can decree how you can best consumer our content." Where's the competition and consumer choice in that?

Moore's law says that we will get more. I can already access my PVR from the internet, if I want to. If services like tvkaista.fi are not allowed to prosper, the void will be filled by PVRs which actually can store eight or sixteen channels ALL THE TIME. And then we get those aggregation services anyway, but again to more cost to the environment, with the media companies having far less control over what can happen then. Or someone establishes a similar service in Estonia, or somewhere else. It is impossible to control a public access signal anyway.

You see, they could instead agree with tvkaista.fi how to best share advertising revenue. They could even start selling it through their own agencies, who are really good at it. TV-kaista isn't. It would be a very good match.

In this particular case, enforcing strict copyright legislation is directly reducing consumer choice, damaging the environment, damaging Finland's ability to innovate, driving people to piracy, and preventing new online services to emerge. I mean, come on: Did anybody learn anything from the Napster lawsuit and success of the iTunes Music Store? Music companies had their own ideas about music consumption, and they were all wrong, and it was left for innovative companies outside of their business to build the future models. This is no different.

So fuck off, will you MTV Media, Sanoma Television, Yleisradio, Kopiosto, Teosto, Tuotos and ÄKT, and let innovative companies make the world a better place? You'll get your money anyway, 'cos you control the source.

Thursday, 10-Dec-09 00:01
Työsuhdeolettamasta lyhyesti

Lehdistöstä on saatu lukea viime aikoina melkoista porua tekijänoikeuslain uudistuksesta, jossa työsuhteessa syntyisi automaattinen tekijänoikeus työntekijän tekemisiin, eli ns. työsuhdeolettama. Useampikin nimekäs taiteilija on kirjoittanut, kuinka uusi laki tulisi sortamaan heitä, ja vaarantamaan elannon.

Totta ja ei - sortamisesta toki on kysymys, mutta elanto tuskin vaarantuisi, koska toki työsuhteesta maksetaan korvaus, ja työsuhteen ulkopuolella luodut teokset olisivat edelleenkin ihan omissa nimissä.

Työsuhdeolettama on arkipäivää meidän tietotyöläisten piirissä. Kaikki pienetkin tietokoneohjelmat, joita teen työaikana tai työvälineillä, ovat automaattisesti (C) Työnantaja. Tästä saan korvauksena palkkaa, jonka summasta väännetään sitten aina kättä säännöllisin väliajoin, ja jolla voin mitata työpanokseni arvostusta tai firman taloudellista tilaa tai mitä nyt milloinkin. Samalla lailla se toimisi myös muidenkin luovien työntekijöiden kohdalta, eikä se tule olemaan maailmanloppu.

Muttamutta, kenenkään ei pitäisi oikeasti olla yllättynyt työsuhdeolettaman laajennuksesta. Joka kerta kun tekijänoikeuslakeja on maailmalla rukattu, niitä on aina rukattu isoja yrityksiä suosiviksi. Kun nyt kuluttajia on vaikea laittaa enää yhtään ahtaammalle rikkomatta erinäisiä perustuslakeja, niin seuraava looginen askel on alkaa kaventaa tekijöiden oikeuksia. Työsuhdeolettama on vain yksi näistä - luultavasti jatkoa seuraa, sillä toisin kuten Raimo Vikström ylläolevassa linkissä kirjoittaa, arvopohjaa ei ole käännetty tekijöiden vastaiseksi. Se vain on aina ollut omistajia ja levittäjiä suosiva. Tähän asti vain heidän etunsa on ollut myös tekijöiden etu, joten asiaa ei ole huomattu.

Ei sinällään ihme, että tietokoneohjelmistoja on kohdeltu näinkin pitkään eri lailla - vuonna 2008 hitec-vienti oli noin 11 miljardia euroa (ja likipitäen jokaisessa elektronisessa laitteessa on jonkinasteinen ohjelmisto, joskin nykyään on hirveän vaikea sanoa missä ko. ohjelmisto on tehty), kun taas musiikkivienti oli arvoltaan 2007 n. 20 miljoonaa euroa - eli siis 500 kertaa pienempi. Vaikka tässä vertailussa onkin oiottu kulmia (on muitakin luovan työn tekijöitä kuin muusikoita, ja numerotkin on eri vuosilta), niin suuruusluokka osoittaa, että tähän mennessä muiden luovien työntekijöiden panos on numeroissa yhtä tärkeä kuin rekan alle jääneellä siilillä, minkä takia he ovatkin näin pitkään selvinneet ilman huomiota. Tämä työsuhdeolettaman korjaus on "vain" toimenpide, jolla yksinkertaistetaan tekijänoikeuslakia ja korjataan kauneusvirhettä.

Tekijänoikeudet ovat tärkeämpiä kuin tekijöiden ja kuluttajien oikeudet. Se on maailman tapa. Ja tämä tapa on huono ja tuhoava.

Se, mistä olen pettynyt, on se, että Suomen Piraattipuolue, joka yrittää profiloitua järkevien tekijänoikeuksien puolustajaksi, ei ole pihahtanut sanaakaan koko jupakasta. Nyt jätkät jäälle sieltä, täällä on peli.

(Ha, unohdin, että Effi on jo kentällä. Kiitokset Suvikolle muistutuksesta.)

(Pari päivää myöhemmin myös Piraattipuolue on herännyt. Höpisee unissaan hieman sekavia, mutta päätyy kuitenkin oikealle puolelle.)

Thursday, 26-Nov-09 22:59
Just sayin'

Just out of curiosity, I went through Helsingin Sanomat discussion board and picked a news item about how much the fight against the climate change is expected to cost per person. Of course, the discussion board was flooded with discussion on whether climate change is real, and how it's actually a green conspiracy rivaling nazism, aiming to create a new world order.

So I spent an hour and I went through each comment, and noted how many typos or grammatical errors they had, and put them in three bins: Sceptics, Defenders and Others. Factual errors or hard-to-understand sentences were not counted - only real grammar errors. Quotations were also not examined, because the errors in them would be the fault of someone else.

"Sceptics" are the people who don't believe there is anthropogenic climate change. "Defenders" were people who believed it is true. "Others" were people who were mostly just complaining about the price, saying things like "we should really make sure our war veterans are taken care of first" (neither confirming nor denying), or just so unclear it was impossible to say whether they were for or against.

As you can see, the sceptics had over 3 grammar errors/typos per comment, whereas the defenders only had an average of 1.13. Others were in the middle with 1.71 errors/comment.

While the sampling is a bit small to draw any real conclusions, the result does not exactly weaken the image of climate sceptics as uneducated people who spew thousands of comments online with their mouths foaming.

(However, it was interesting to note that the same error patterns seemed to occur even in posts by different aliases. So I suspect that some people are using multiple aliases to create the appearance that there is bigger consensus. Which would be quite normal online, and is one of the reasons why feedback should be always taken with a grain of salt. Also, thanks to Muprhy's law, it's almost certain this particular blog entry is teeming with grammar errors. Then again, English is not my native language. So there. Besides, I think my brain is bleeding internally after reading through all those comments.)

Friday, 20-Nov-09 23:44
Triage

I've been doing triage on stuff found from my cupboards. Here's the stuff which I think might still be usable to people, so let me know if you need any of this stuff before I drag it to recycling.


I've got the following stuff to share for the price of postage (or you can pick it up or suggest a meeting in Helsinki area):
  • Apple iPod/iPhone Firewire wall charger (needs Firewire cable)
  • Apple laptop US adapter cord (from transformer to wall) [reserved]
  • Apple EU adapter plug for laptop
  • Bluegiga WRAP Multiradio Access Server
  • 2x256 MB DDR2 SO-DIMM 667 MHz
  • 2xNokia ACP-12E charger
  • 2xNokia ACP-8E charger
  • Nokia ACP-9E charger
  • Composite video and stereo audio to EuroAV/SCART converter
  • ADSL adapter for phone line
  • Amiga A520 TV adapter
  • Apple iBook/Powerbook 45W power adapter (not magsafe)
  • Retractable phone cable (e.g. for travel modems)
  • DLink AirPlus DWL-650+ WLAN adapter for PCMCIA slots [reserved]
  • TRENDnet TEW-429UB USB Hotspot Finder/WLAN card (802.11b/g)
  • Cables. All kinds of cables. Ask.

Following stuff is also available, but you need to make me an offer

  • Canon Wordtank Intelligent Dictionary IDX-9500 (Japanese/English) [reserved]
  • Psion Siena 512 MB personal organizer (good condition) [reserved]
  • Psion 3MX (display broken) + 2MB SSD + Scrabble. Usable as spare parts.

Friday, 13-Nov-09 00:25
class Son<?> extends Father<?>

My parents got us a present for the naming day of our son. It was a photoframe, engraved with his birthdate - the exact same kind of a photoframe that they had for me. They also gave me that photoframe, so we could put them side by side and display them proudly in our livingroom.

The thing is, the photoframe had a stock image of a generic baby, not a picture of our son, 'cos we hadn't found a good picture yet. The frame looked nice, so we put it next to the telly, and kind of forgot about it.

What was fun that every single person who saw that frame afterwards commented on how much the boy looks like me. Nobody stopped to consider that the boy in the picture looked nothing like the entity crawling on the floor. So we had to take the picture out so as not to confuse people.

Our expectations colour our perception.

(That, or I look like a generic baby.)

Friday, 30-Oct-09 00:16
Last Men?

I had a discussion with a friend about the climate change (which I think should really be named as The Global Climate Catastrophe, just to point out the urgency). For some reason, the possibility of the death of the entire human race came up, and the non-zero possibility that my child might be there to witness it.

The thought is so painful that I have no words. So instead I must borrow the words from Olaf Stapledon's Last and First Men - the epic story of humanity through the aeons, and the final thoughts of the last men:

But one thing is certain. Man himself, at the very least, is music, a brave theme that makes music also of its vast accompaniment, its matrix of storms and stars. Man himself in his degree is eternally a beauty in the eternal form of things. It is very good to have been man. And so we may go forward together with laughter in our hearts, and peace, thankful for the past, and for our own courage. For we shall make after all a fair conclusion to this brief music that is man.
Sunday, 18-Oct-09 17:09
Mopo, käsi, karata

Jälleen uusi tapaus, joka osoittaa, että joillain firmoilla olisi syytä hieman harjoitella tätä sosiaalisen median käyttöä.

Lyhyesti: Helmetti -keskustelupalstalla nostettiin esille Helmikeskus -nimisen yrityksen hieman erikoiset palautusehdot, joissa mm. vaaditaan kiitoslahjojen palauttamista, ja erikseen ilmoitetaan, että asiattomista palautuksista poistetaan rekisteristä (siis ilmeisesti joutuu yrityksen mustalle listalle).

No, kullekin tavallaan, ja yrityshän saa toki valikoida asiakkaansa, mutta keskustelu eskaloitui melko vikkelästi tasolle, jossa nimimerkki "Helmikeskus" poisti omat viestinsä ketjusta ja laittoi tilalle merkinnän "rl 24.10.2" - ilmeisesti viite Rikoslain 24 luvun 10 pykälän 2 momenttiin, joka määrittelee "törkeän kunnianloukkauksen". Lisäksi myös ketjuun linkittänyttä, erittäin asiallisesti kirjoittanutta bloggaajaa on uhkailtu jo oikeusjutulla.

En nyt tietenkään ole mikään markkinointiekspertti, mutta eritoten Suomen kokoisessa maassa, jossa sana kiertää nopeasti ja merkittävä osa harrastajista pyörii samalla foorumilla, luultavasti eräs huonoimmista markkinointitekniikoista on vetää herne nenään arvostelusta ja uhkailla mahdollista asiakaskuntaansa oikeusjutuilla. Kannattaako tilata, jos on syytä epäillä, että mahdollisen ongelmatilanteen tullessa raastupa saattaa olla ensimmäinen askel? Se olisi melko kova hinta muutaman euron koruista.

Yritystä ja sen tuotteita ja toimintaa saa - ja pitää - arvostella. Jos yrityksen edustaja lähtee julkiseen keskusteluun yrityksestään, on syytä olla varovainen sanoissaan ja kasvattaa melko paksu nahka. Hyödyt ovat melko selkeät: parantunut kommunikaatio tekee asiakassuhteesta henkilökohtaisemman, mutta vaarana on toki se, että tunteiden leimahtaessa asiakassuhdekin palaa mukana. Fiksumpi yritys olisi tässäkin tapauksessa voinut kääntää tilaisuuden voitoksi havaitsemalla, että asiakkaat eivät pidä tilanteesta ja muuttamalla ehtoja. Siitä olisi saanut hieman näkyvyyttä ja asiakkaille hyvän mielen; mutta yrityksen edustaja päätti kuitenkin syyttää foorumin keskustelijoita "vapaamatkustelijoiksi" ja keskustelua "ala-arvoiseksi". Ei ihan se paras valinta. Jännityksellä odotamme aikooko ko. yritys ajaa itseään pidemmälle suohon.

(Disclaimer: yksi Helmetti-foorumin ylläpitäjistä on vaimoni.)

Päivitys: Yritys muutti ensin toimitusehtojaan järkevämpään suuntaan, mutta on nyt ainakin toistaiseksi laittanut lapun luukulle. Toivottavasti kuitenkin vain hengähtääkseen ja palatakseen sitten, no, yrittämään. Hieman asennetta asiakaslähtöisemmäksi muuttamalla varmasti pärjäisi, sillä laatu ja hintahan olivat käsittääkseni ihan kohdallaan.

Päivitys 2: Korucorneriakaan ei enää uhkailla. Pientä toivoa siis tilanteen korjaantumisesta siis on!

Sunday, 04-Oct-09 12:41
Scrobbling FTW!

Even though I use Spotify a lot, Last.fm still is my favourite music service. Whenever I just need music to listen to, Last.fm is way better in figuring out what I like, and is much better at discovering new music (or old music from artists I didn't know). And lately, it's become better and better at it.

Took me a while, but I just realized what's going on: Since I've enabled scrobbling on Spotify, every single song I play goes to the last.fm database. And since I use Spotify only when I want to listen to a certain band or song, Last.fm has been collecting a fairly accurate representation of my music taste.

So the more I use Spotify; the more accurate Last.fm becomes. This is a wonderful business model - the more you use a competing service, the better your own service becomes! And, the end result is more value for everyone, since Spotify is now even more useful to me as an interface to Last.fm!

Brilliant.

Thursday, 24-Sep-09 16:26
HTML5/CSS3/Javascript is the new x86

Web apps. Widgets. Websites. All dispersed along a line, where at the other end you have static HTML and at the other end you have fully self-contained Javascript applications (widgets), that only perhaps contain a single <script> statement in their HTML. These are the building blocks of Web 2.0; stuff that was growing in the background while everyone else ogled over Google Docs and Wikipedia and oh-my-god-but-what-does-this-all-mean.

Without much ado, the browser has become the operating system. But at least my personal problem has been for a while that Javascript is a really lousy environment to work in: tools pale in comparison to commercial grade Java tools (try to profile your Javascript app - you've only got bad and worse solutions) and the language is, well, gnarly.

But if we treat the browser as the operating system, then is it not logical to treat the Javascript/HTML/CSS environment like a binary interface instead of a programming environment? You can see already how inadequate the environment is by looking at the dozens of libraries that have spawned, such as JQuery, Dojo, Mootools, etc. This all reminds me of my early programming days, when I sweated with the 68000 assembly language on the good ol' Amiga. Everybody wrote their own support libraries at the time, and the most popular became essentially the basis of later operating systems.

So would it be too far-fetched to call the HTML5/CSS/Javascript combo (call it JCH, pronounce like you're coughing) the new x86 assembly language? They're both fairly sucky environments but if that suckiness is hidden by more rich environments and languages on top of them, they can simply become the workhorse on which all major development will occur in the future. And much like most current programmers don't understand about x86 assembly language, perhaps future programmers won't know diddly about Javascript closures?

The logical next step would therefore be to port well-known languages to create JCH instead of their own bytecode or assembly. Not surprisingly, these tools already exist: Google Web Toolkit creates JCH from Java; ScriptSharp from C# and Pyjamas from Python. And who web developer hasn't used an HTML editor ever to design their HTML/CSS page? Also, look at how Java Virtual Machines turned from the sloths they were into the performance monsters they are today - and then consider that all those lessons are almost directly applicable to Javascript engines. The development of JS engines in Chrome and Safari has been mindboggling over the past couple of years, just the same way JVM performance and x86 performance has beaten all expectations.

Perhaps the secret to the next web (and if you call it Web 3.0, I will break your legs) is the realization that there's now, finally, a unified binary interface for all developers which is already deployed on every desktop. It's, again, going to be the developer playground just like the original web was.

We ain't seen nothing yet.

Saturday, 19-Sep-09 14:10
The iMac moment

I bought yesterday a used iMac (the Aluminum kind, if you're interested). I figured that since the technology in iMacs hasn't changed in the past year-two significantly, a used iMac is better value than buying a new one. Recycling is good.

Anyway, I bring it home and start playing with it. Wife comes in, looks at the iMac standing on the desktop.

"What? A new monitor? I thought you were supposed to be buying a new computer?"

"That is the computer. See, DVD drive slot, USB..."

Stunned silence. Jaw dropping.

Such are the moments that every engineer and designer should live and strive for.

Tuesday, 15-Sep-09 17:09
NFC ピタゴラスイッチ

Pythagoras Switches (aka Rube Goldberg machines) are wonderful contraptions in which one small thing leads to another which leads to another, etc. One of the most cool examples is this Honda commercial a few years back.

Now, some old friends from Berg and The Oslo School of Architecture and Design put together this really awesome "Nearness" video demonstration, in which nothing actually touches each other. Everything is done with the power of Near Field Communications (NFC), magnetism, radio waves, and other unseen phenomenon. It demonstrates the point that I've been saying for quite a while: The power of NFC is its inherent hackability. Be happy it's not secure, because secure often means "locked down unless you agree to play by the rules". Security happens at application level, and it's the worry of the big boys.

If only we could see better, so we might better appreciate the unseen.

Just go have fun with the technology. That's how all the cool stuff always gets born.

Monday, 14-Sep-09 01:19
Things I've learned about food recently

Ever since the kid started on non-breastmilk, life has become rather fascinating. It's one of the major steps out of babydom, and the journey of discovery is fascinating for, well, the whole family.

Here are some of the things I've learned recently:

  • Porridge is as much as a paint as it is food.
  • Everything tastes better when eaten directly off the table
  • Any food can be bounced off the floor. Even oatmeal.
  • Blackberries turn the poo, well, black. No need to call 911.
  • Any food tastes better with a song.
  • Best songs consist of a single syllable and no melody, repeated ad infinitum. E.g. "LOL"
  • Though Imperial March and Star Wars main theme work fairly well too to open "the docking ports".
  • Rotating the spoon while humming Blue Danube might not work, but at least it amuses the father. Requires viscosity and adhesion of the food to the spoon to be above a certain level.
  • My accuracy at hitting randomly moving objects has improved radically over the past few months. Even though the mouth of a child can seemingly rotate to the opposing direction of the head, I can still hit it. Most of the time.
  • Feeding behind the corner is surprisingly easy, after you have had a bit of practice.
  • All foods are suspicious at first. Especially the ones you've had before.
  • Eating is an equipment sport. The sheer amount of anatomically formulated baby spoons outnumbers the amount of possible body configurations by at least a factor of four. Makes you wonder.
  • A hand can be faster than the eye. No magician required.
  • Shoes are a food group. As are soft puppet animals.

(Updated on 15th - forgot about shoes.)

Monday, 31-Aug-09 10:21
First Entry

Kasa is collecting the first entries of Finnish blogs. Quite a few of them are either "test message" or "Let me explain about this blog..."

I can still remember how my first message came along... I had been tweaking the system here and there (yes, I write my own blog platform, thankyouverymuch) for a few days, but I didn't want to start with a "Hello world" -post. I wanted to say something minimalistic yet profound, as significant as the first word of a child, but in the end all I could think about was the fact that a) I was frigging lonely but I couldn't say anything about it without appearing whiny, and b) it was REALLY cold outside. Something in the order of -30°C with a wind chill factor taking it down to -50 or so. I remember some friends in Oulu telling me on IRC that we had it warm in the South - it was even colder up there.

So there you go - that's the story of the first words of this blog.

Sunday, 30-Aug-09 23:20
Kiddie pictures on the evil internet

Father and Son
The Finnish "Oh My God We Must Protect The Children At Any Cost" - organization (aka "Pelastakaa Lapset") is again Very Concerned about people putting their kid's pictures online - "because they might end up with people who might do Evil Stuff with them". The implication is that the internet is filled with people who have nothing better to do than to spank the monkey at the sight of a funny picture of a kid in bath, and that hordes of perverts will descend from the sky and tear each other apart for the privilege of seeing a bit of naked child body.

Well, maybe I'm overexaggerating slightly, but these are folks who welcome almost any lengths of online censorship in the name of child protection. So the obvious reaction of any freedom-loving person is to laugh at the idea.

But hold on - I actually believe they are right in this case. Not because I would imagine that the online world is filled with perverts (which obviously do exist, but as usual, censorship is the wrong solution) - but because of a far larger concern: everyone's right to privacy.

A child is not able make an informed decision about choosing what to share or not, and therefore it is the job of the parent (or custodian) to make this determination for him. And, in this case, I think it makes sense to err on the side of caution. We know that pictures are difficult to remove from the internet, so once you choose to be open in this regard, the child cannot undo your decision once he gets old enough. It's a one-way street, and you must be careful when you go that way.

You don't know what your child will want when he's older. Until then, you need to choose wisely.

Friday, 21-Aug-09 23:34
Jackrabbit performance from 1.5.6 to 1.6.0

Jackrabbit, one of my favourite Apache projects, has reached version 1.6. Here's my entirely unscientific performance comparison between 1.5.6 and 1.6, using the default configuration:

Test results.  The number is operations/seconds - larger means faster.
Blob size 100 kB

                    FirstSess   LargeRead LargeRemove   LargeSave  NewSession    RandRead      
Jackrabbit 1.6.0         0.22    62328.60       82.13       29.58     2046.58    52643.22      
Jackrabbit 1.5.6         0.27    45740.63       98.99       30.63     1761.96    36375.67     

                    Remove        Save     SeqRead        UUID      Update     getItem getProperty    propUUID
Jackrabbit 1.6.0    428.69      141.12    12242.90    97184.56      189.64   239975.04  1184413.12   468099.05
Jackrabbit 1.5.6    449.58      155.56    11318.62    65905.68      229.21   139922.76   902527.08   470654.68

The tests are explained here. It seems that especially when it comes to the tree traversal, there have been quite a few improvements all around. However, the store/remove performance seems to have gone down a bit. All in all, seems like a good release.
Thursday, 06-Aug-09 12:43
The Field Dynamic Theory of Conversation

As a geek, I thrive on the exchange of ideas. I've always maintained that ideas are cheap, plentiful and should be shared; not hoarded "in case someone else steals them." I don't call it brainstorming, because that has a very specific connotation, but it's closer to a free flow of ideas.

A good discussion is more like a flow than you might just imagine. I've found that you need a suitable potential energy difference between conversants to keep it interesting - if the participants are too much alike, there is no flow from one person to another. You don't have ideas that the other person wouldn't have either. If the difference is too great, the potential difference and amount of flow can kill - just like sticking your fingers to a power outlet could.

But having people just far enough apart from each other, who share just enough of a common language, it can become a thing of beauty. A revitalizing force that'll charge your batteries for a long time, getting you all anxious at all the potential in the world. It might not end up in anything concrete, but it will make you feel good - one of the prerequisites of liking the life.

(I was considering Tweeting this, but I realized I don't have the time to make a shorter version of this lousy analogy... I'm off to explore some places in London I've never been to before ;-)

Tuesday, 28-Jul-09 11:33
Crowd-sourced image recognition project makes science

I've written before about Galaxy Zoo, a site where anyone gets to make cutting-edge science by helping scientists classify galaxies. After a short tutorial, you can just keep clicking through images to see if you can find something really interesting. I've spent several... ehm, slow mornings looking at those images, since at least it's something useful you can do while your brain is starting.

And they did make science - turns out there's a whole new class of galaxies which are green, just like small peas in the sky. And it was all thanks to this massive parallel processing: “No one person could have done this on their own,” Cardamone said. “Even if we had managed to look through 10,000 of these images, we would have only come across a few Green Peas and wouldn’t have recognized them as a unique class of galaxies.”

Of course, all sci-fi geeks are immediately reminded by David Brin's Heaven's Reach, and its green galaxies (he said, not daring to say any more lest I spoil something). Unfortunately, these are all way, way in the past of the universe, so no proof of intelligent life it is. But they are pretty.

Friday, 24-Jul-09 00:47
There's just something special about having someone else's poop under your fingernails

So the little one turned six months old. No, we did not have fancy celebrations - I've always found these "Oh look, we've dated for 100 hours" -things kinda contrived. But we've progressed pretty far: from being a stimulus-response package to a solid-eating poop machine with a charming personality and a will, though not yet the means, to be self-motile.

While it's really amazing to see the changes in the kid, I've also been quite fascinated by the changes we, the parents, are going through. People did warn me in advance that "everything changes". I disagreed then, and I still do: I still put on my pants one leg at a time, just like before. Then again, I am a trained physicist, so my definitions of "everything" and "change" are probably not the same as everybody else's. But I have to admit I have a far better understanding of what they meant now.

You see, the stuff they don't mention is that your brain changes. It's not the lack of sleep, nor the responsibility, nor the lack of free time, nor the rearrangement of the priorities, nor the endless discussion about poop - but the fact that hormones jump into your brain and play a little whack-a-mole with your personality. The mothers notice this more clearly (or not, but usually everybody around them does), since the changes are more radical, but yeah, it works the same way for the non-pregnant adults in the family too, even men.

And because all of this, you actually start to enjoy playing endless, mindless games like Peekaboo. You don't really mind poking into the diaper with a finger to check whether the smell has attained a solid form. You cherish waking up two hours earlier than usual just because the kid looks so insanely happy to see you and flashes his big, toothless grin just at the sight of your face when he manages to wake you up. You start finding Peter Pan anxiety-inducing because the children are left to survive on their own. Dead Baby -jokes stop being funny. And a dark corner of your mind knows that if this was because of anyone else, you would've already brought out the shotgun. It's love, Jim, but not as we know it.

Yeah, my brain is totally bonkers. And that changes the way you experience things, and, in some definitions, changes everything - and that is why it is so difficult to be prepared for parenthood. Even if you have read every single Dr Spock equivalent there is, and have spent tons of time babysitting other kids, you will still get mindfucked by the experience. You'll have a million generations of primordial survival/breeding instinct kicking in, and it gets really hard to keep the education in mind in all that turmoil.

But it's okay. It's what all animals are supposed to do, and these instincts and changes are there for a good reason. And who are we to argue with ourselves anyway?

Monday, 20-Jul-09 19:01
Why I don't like Web 2.0 anymore

Lately I've had this strange feeling that perhaps web tools are reaching their limits. Yes, I know, people are building really cool-looking tools like Google Wave, using a gazillion different toolkits like JQuery, and that everybody believes that in the future all the apps and the data live in the cloud and are accessible by browsers on any device whatsoever.

But I've got a few arguments why I think the tide may change.

First of all - Javascript and the browser are a lousy, lousy environment for development. Your layout engines have wildly differing notions as to how stuff should be rendered. You spend a LOT of time figuring out what works on which browser. You have to choose among a dozen of incompatible frameworks (JQuery, Dojo, Prototype, Mootools, etc) to build your app - and you need to do that in at least two languages, since you don't develop the server side on Javascript. The tools you write your code with have so far been really crappy (but tools like Firebug and Aptana Studio are helping).

Most importantly, you can only choose Javascript and HTML as your development environment. There is no other practical choice (Silverlight, Flash and JavaFX are not real contenders here). In fact, they have to invent new standards to go around all the crappiness that is HTML, CSS and JS, and it's going to take a long time before all reasonable environments support them. For chrissakes, people still use IE6!

I was also reminded by the harsh realities of web-based life when the cell connectivity went down (Joikuspot FTW, usually). No more doing anything with the apps that I needed. Luckily I'm pretty paranoid and keep a local copy of everything important. If I spend money on my laptop in order to be mobile, and able to work without wires or power, then why would I tie my productivity to the whims of the cell operator?

Anyhoo, I'm just so frustrated at the generic unusability of web-based apps compared to local apps running on my mobile or my laptop. However, there are some incredible benefits to keeping your data in the cloud, too.

My guess is that now that we're pretty much down to three operating systems on the personal computer area, and three operating systems on the mobile phone area, it again becomes cost-efficient to provide thick clients that have a copy of the data locally and the master copy in the cloud. That makes the benefits of working with cloud-based apps tangible, yet invisible. Version control systems like Git are very good at keeping track and sync of local and remote copies; storage systems like Amazon S3 are readily available; and most of the modern computers have way more horsepower than what is required to run a browser, since they have to deal with gaming requirements. There will be less need to target multiple browser environments simply because there just won't be that many operating systems anymore.

Google Earth is a good example of this new breed of applications: it keeps a local copy of the map data so that it's actually useful even if you're not online. With Ovi Maps you can keep a local copy of the map data, yet benefit from upgrades on the server side. Ovi Files stores a copy of your local files in the cloud, so that they're accessible from anywhere. (Yes, I had to work in a few references to my company products, didn't I? ;-)

Anyhoo. I might be wrong. Time will tell. Perhaps it's just my personal dislike for Javascript...

Saturday, 11-Jul-09 10:11
Nice surprise

I opened my mailbox on Thursday evening, and I heard that I had been invited to be a Member at the Apache Software Foundation. It's an honour to be invited to be in such an organization, and it's made even more important by the fact that it's bestowed upon me by my peers, which means that there are people out there who don't think I'm completely nuts.

And, to boot, this happened on a day before I leave for vacation - so it was like the perfect news to start my holidays with. Yay!

(BTW, we (Nokia) are looking for a good person to fulfil a Lead Architect role for a service line. The position is in US, but if you're interested, ping me.)

Monday, 15-Jun-09 02:24
If you don't share, nobody cares

Tweeted this today, not really thinking too much about it. That's how I express myself often, hiding truth behind a joke. (And no, I wasn't naked all day. But I didn't wear "proper" clothes either. So was the tweet true or not?) But I did get a couple of comments that got me thinking.

Recently, I've been growing to another role - that of the boss. It already creates some interesting communication when your colleagues read your blogs and tweets, and there's some nice tension when you know that your boss subscribes to your RSS streams. That's fine though - it creates a certain peer pressure model which keeps stuff like corporate secrets out of the internet, and may also lead to friendships beyond the corporate life.

However, I think the online life gets really interesting when you have people who report to you. Me, being part of the internet unit of the corporate behemoth these days, I get the ones who even better at living online than me. And, it's the same people you want to be doing things you tell them to, but at the same time they will be privy to parts of your life in which you're not the boss, but just a normal human being with average and not-so-average tastes. So it's kinda scary.

Now, I live on the borderline: I am not young enough to know of no other world than one with sharing online everything you have; but I am not old enough to believe in the necessity of keeping my different lives separate. Gen X, all the way :-).

Risto Linturi writes wonderfully (albeit in Finnish) on the generational differences of the necessity of keeping "roles": The elderly caution the kids that "you can't remove anything from the internet", and "be careful or all the stupid things you do will come back to haunt you later" - but the kids do it anyway, because sharing so much more efficient than the old way. It's an incredibly powerful way to create trust between people, and the young view the "must hide everything lest people figure out that I am not as smart as I try to look like" -attitude of their elders with suspicion. Which is obvious, considering that the mechanisms of trust are different, and as much as the older generations don't understand the young, neither do the young understand the older generations.

The fun thing is that the Internet amplifies this kind of mechanisms. Of how many private photo-sharing sites have you heard of recently? There are zillions of them, but none of them can match the popularity of Flickr, where everything, by default, is public (and the privacy controls are really coarse). The popularity of Flickr feeds the popularity of Flickr - because you can talk about it. You can show your pictures easily. There's a strong incentive towards sharing, and sharing begets sharing. Image searches find Flickr pictures, but they don't find your hidden pictures - so the Flickr pictures get shared even more. Putting stuff online openly is a much faster breeder, so to say, than private image sharing (which obviously has its uses as well - I keep most of the kids pictures hidden simply because it should be his decision to choose whether to share or not, so I'm deferring that decision until he can make it himself).

People, especially those who vote Pirate Party, say "sharing is caring", but I think it's more correct to say that "if you don't share, nobody cares." We live in an information age, and whoever moves information fastest or best, wins the race. In a few measly years, who is going to care about an artist whose works you can't download for free from the internet? You used to hear it for free from the radio; now you use Spotify or Pirate Bay.

I have been on the internet since 1989, and yeah, I've done stuff which can't be erased from the net and I feel now rather ashamed about. But never ever has this come back to haunt me. It may be that I've managed to keep the account on the positive side - that is, I do more of the stuff that makes me appear sane and fit to serve humanity than I do of the insane/oh-my-god -variety. Or it may be just the fact that there is always someone weirder on the internet.

OK, so here's the catch for me: In order to be able to actually function as a leader in an internet company, I simply have to choose the younger generation way, or there would be no credibility. But all (well, most) my superiors over time have been of the older generation, which means that all the role-models I have are inherently faulty. Which in turn means that I feel, on occasion, rather lost.

So here I go again, twaddling along with leaking boots, inventing stuff as I go along... Comfort zone is what happens to other people. *sigh*

Guys, I know you are reading this, so sod off and get back to work ;-)
Monday, 08-Jun-09 18:59
Dem Pirates

Sweden, as expected, voted one Piratpartiet member (Pirate Party) to the EU Parliament, with a possibility for a second one, if their delegation size increases by two.

Now, obviously, a single guy can't do much, and the elected representative, Christian Engström, just moves from the lobby wing of EU to the actual parliament, so I don't think there will be much impact on that side.

But what is really significant is the fact that Piratpartiet got 7.1% of votes. That 7% is huge amount of voters that any party would love to sign up, especially considering Piratpartiet's popularity in the 18-30 demographic (20% votes), who by the time of the next election, are going to be the 18-35 demographic, and therefore likely to grow from that 7%. So, it is very likely that some parties will start changing their rhetoric towards PP's lines in order to cannibalize their support; especially parties which are already pretty close in some ideals (like the Greens). The Pirate Party is seen as a single-agenda movement, and many people who in principle agree with the sentiment don't necessarily want to support a party whose other views are unknown, or just think that PP is too extremist in their views towards copyright.

So, there's at least 7% of voters to be grabbed by choosing to openly defend consumers and driving towards a more modern copyright and internet legislation. I say modern, because I feel that there is a good, solid middle path which actually takes into account the extremely rapid change that media creation and distribution and communication is currently ongoing, without sacrificing people's right for privacy and freedom of speech, but still fulfilling the original purpose of copyright, which was to give financial incentives for people to create. Unfortunately, the quest for this middle path is completely hidden by irrelevant discussions, bad metaphors, falsified or misinterpreted data, deeply entrenched opinions with no actual facts to back them up, and the simple inability to communicate across the board.

Perhaps it'll take a few years of fighting between the extremists on either side, and we may have to wait until that 20% becomes the 18-50 demographic. But time is on the side of the Pirate Party: If the idiotic "copyright enforcement over all civil liberties, damn you evil pirates" -trend continues for a few more years, will the "starving artists" have any friends left by the time the current teenagers actually have power? And how will they use the vast powers created by the current administrations? For good, or for revenge?

Sunday, 07-Jun-09 00:38
Vote!

The EU parliamental election is tomorrow. Even if you might feel that it's not affecting you, it is. The parliament has grown a collective spine over the past few years, and, as Jyrki Kasvi pointed out in his tweet, a lot of the issues are being decided already on an EU level.

So, no matter who you vote, vote.

Sunday, 17-May-09 05:29
Class Reunion

I'm writing this at my parents house, the same place I grew up. Today we had a 20 year high school ("lukio") class reunion, an event I had kind of been half-expecting, half-dreading. Expecting because we did live together for so many years; dreading because, well, it had been 20 years - half of our lifetime ago. People can change a lot in that time.

In the end, it turned out to be an awesome event. At first, people felt a bit apprehensive, but soon the sun and the beer opened the floodgates, and we talked. And we talked a lot. We shared our life tales; the wins, the losses. The good and the bad; the lucky strikes and the accidents. Some of us had had it rough; for some life had been smooth. Some were divorced, some were still with their high school sweetheart. Most of us had children, and their pictures were circulated eagerly and complimented upon.

After a dinner, we ended up watching videos from the time we spent together, and had collective self-embarathy moments. Then, we ended up in a discotheque ("Wiltsu") which had been reopened under the same name after 20 years, and which was to many of us a first touch of adulthood - so it was obviously THE place to go and visit. And we danced like we were eighteen.

Finally, it was a bit of traditional local food ("Vety") and watching the sun come up.

Good reset. Great company.

What really makes me happy is that I was able to rekindle some old friendships, and also - hopefully - actually start some new ones. Finding a common tune with someone you never really talked to before is an uplifting experience, no matter how many years pass or how old you are.

Sunday, 10-May-09 00:12
New Trek movie excellent addition to the Star Wars saga

Went to see the new Star Trek movie with low expectations. The previous movies in the saga had been, well, bad, and it has rarely translated well on the big screen. This time, all new cast and directors - could be bad, could be good.

The movie is good. It's really quite good.

The problem is - it's not Star Trek. Or at least it's not my Star Trek.

(May be spoilers here.)

After the movie, I sat there, in the half-empty theatre, watching people flow out. Feeling quite empty. Yeah, I had laughed, I was excited, but you know, it was as if I had seen something else than a Trek movie. A nice sci-fi flick, with planets exploding, gigantic war machines with a vengeance-driven ruler. Cute aliens. No technobabble. A triangle drama between the hansom but loner captain, a cool but uncertain man, who does not quite know where he belongs, and a beautiful lady with a strange hairdo. Lots of action and little complexity, conveyed through a barrage of special effects and lots of platforms on which the good and the evil guys can jump about.

Change a few names, have different spaceships, minor changes to the plotline, and this would've made a truly excellent Star Wars Episode 1; much better than the monstrosity that George Lucas came up with.

But it ain't Star Trek. There's no "what if". There's no thinking, no alien cultures. Just action. Just childish joy at breaking things. Nothing adult or difficult; nothing that compares to the best Star Trek episodes (of all the series).

OK, maybe I'm old. Maybe this is exactly how the old trekkies felt when Star Trek - The Next Generation appeared. And I remember the cries of foul play when people learned that there was going to be a remake of Battlestar Galactica, and Starbuck was going to be a woman!

But there was a difference: the new BSG series was actually really good. It really showed something different, something that very few series had done before. It challenged people with non-trivialized plotlines and did evil things to main characters that we loved. The new Star Trek isn't better than the original. It's a superimposition of Star Wars on top of the Star Trek universe. There is nothing new in it. Everything has been seen before, in other surroundings.

To summarize: the new Trek movie is a nice action flick with lots of in-references and jokes thrown in for the fans. But it's a movie with little power. Someone could make a great TV series based on it, but any movie sequels I'm probably going to skip.

(Update: Ha! "The writers have said their goal is for the film to appeal not just to Trek fans, but to new audiences as well. They hoped to bring the feel of the original Star Wars trilogy into the movie, since Abrams has often said he's more a fan of Star Wars than Star Trek.")

Wednesday, 15-Apr-09 11:37
EU Parliament suggests new privacy guidelines

While the evil and secret ACTA treaty is being forged in the depths of Mordor Berne, some positive news comes from EU. The Parliament has adopted a report on privacy on the internet, which includes some gems such as:

...proceed to the adoption of the directive on criminal measures aimed at the enforcement of intellectual property rights, following an assessment, in the light of contemporary innovation research, of the extent to which it is necessary and proportionate, and while simultaneously prohibiting, in pursuit of that purpose, the systematic monitoring and surveillance of all users" activities on the Internet, and ensuring that the penalties are proportionate to the infringements committed; within this context, also respect the freedom of expression and association of individual users and combat the incentives for cyber-violations of intellectual property rights, including certain excessive access restrictions placed by intellectual property holders themselves;

...urge the Member States to identify all entities which use Net Surveillance and to draw up publicly accessible annual reports on Net Surveillance ensuring legality, proportionality and transparency;

...condemn government-imposed censorship of the content that may be searched on Internet sites, especially when such restrictions can have a 'chilling effect' on political speech;

...call on the Member States to ensure that freedom of expression is not subject to arbitrary restrictions from the public and/or private sphere and to avoid all legislative or administrative measures that could have a "chilling effect" on all aspects of freedom of speech;

It isn't half bad. Now it remains to be seen whether the political will of the parliament can be turned into something concrete.

Saturday, 04-Apr-09 14:03
Choice is good. Kinda.

You know when something sits at the back of your brain and you just can't quite dislodge it but you can't really understand what it is either? Well, this is one of those blog entries.

I started to think about what the internet really means and where it comes from and what the continuum of the things are. Here are some bits from my train of thought:

  • Reading & Writing: We were no longer had to be in a given place or time to get information. Tomes of knowledge could be consumed by anyone who just acquired the necessary skills, no matter when or where.
  • Printing press: Served as a means to get reading/writing to so many more people.
  • Train & Mass transport: Again, a means to get the books produced by the printing press to even more places.
  • The Internet: A renessance of literacy. Just dropped the threshold of participation in the human knowledge pool again a lot more.

But the internet isn't the end-all in this sequence. It's still relatively expensive to get to, and in many places of the world it just isn't practical. Much like the monks of old, only a few people get access to it.

Some people look at the number of mobile phone subscribers and say that the "mobile internet" is the next step. Yes, mobile phones are available for almost everyone at prices which are no longer prohibitive. But still, they are primarily for voice - doing the same stuff as what we used to do before the invention of writing. And it's going to take a long time before everyone in Africa has a smartphone.

Incidentally, this progression is also the reason why I'm not that hot on location-based services. I mean, why add dependence just when we managed to get rid of it? Yes, they're useful to some degree (and it's cool to be able to figure out your own dependencies and not be limited by what is there physically - kinda like drawing on a blank piece of paper after spending lots of effort rubbing it clean), but still it's akin to freezing yer balls off at a nudist beach after spending millennia figuring out how not to freeze them by inventing all kinds of new clothes.

The way I see it, while the internet almost completely demolishes our time- and location -dependence, it does not still address some fundamental problems with the idea of spreading knowledge. One big issue is language - our choice of material is limited by the languages we know. Even with filtered and aggregated media (like newspapers or TV) we're still bound by the limits of the languages the editors know. I like to quote a work-specific example: Nokia has been involved with NFC for years, and we've been running big pilots with thousands of people and selling the stuff commercially for ages, but not until we did a couple of small pilots in English-speaking countries, and got English-language coverage, did the Finnish press really pick it up.

An even bigger issue is cultural. All cultures try to limit the free flow of information to some degree, for legal reasons or because they don't like the idea in general. The recently popular "internet censorship" is not really that different from the censorship slapped on every kind of media - and it's pretty much as ineffective too. People have always found ways around it if they needed to; it's just a way to pretend that bad things don't exist. And that's really the problem: The internet has something for everyone, which means that you don't need to be exposed to the stuff you don't want to be exposed to. It's really difficult to blow your mind if all you read are the same blogs and same newssites which serve you the same stuff all over again; stuff to which you already agree to.

At least when you only had a few books, you could read them all and be exposed to opinions and facts you didn't really want to know.

I don't know what the next step after the internet is going to be, but I think it should primarily concentrate on abolishing the cultural dependencies of our minds. You know, make it really easy to really see what the world is like. By that I don't mean that we should agree, but that we should at least try to understand what we're talking about and where the other guys are coming from.

Friday, 27-Mar-09 11:17
Creepy Computers

The new Battlestar Galactica discusses the relationship of man and machine at length, and towards the end, it gets rather pointy with it as well. But this exchange from the recent Loebner Price Competition, where computers and people are pitted against a panel of judges trying to determine which contestants are which, is quite jarring:

Round 7

Judge: What do u think of Kevin Warwick's enthusiasm for having machines take over the world?

Elbot: Fix it up a bit first. Then I'll take it over.

Don't know about you, but even with knowing that this was a programmed response from an AI researcher, it still sends chills down my spine.

(From Slashdot.)

Thursday, 26-Mar-09 10:30
Questionnaires 101

Dear unnamed researchers: I'm fine with filling your questionnaire. I like to give my opinion (who doesn't?). But you should pay a bit attention to scalability: Putting in 33 questions on 11 different products means 363 boxes to tick. If you actually need me to think and put in a number from 0-6, the time that I need to use to respond to the questions just explodes: at five seconds of thinking time for each question, I need to spend over half an hour to go through the entire list. Even if I know and use only half of the products, it's still about 15 minutes.

And that is fine too, but don't come telling me that "it's only going to take a couple of minutes."

US Government official forms have this "filling this form should take no more than XX minutes" in the bottom. If you make a form, try to figure out how long it actually takes for someone to respond to.

Saturday, 21-Mar-09 00:06
Sporgies for Dummies

Here's fun hobby for a Friday night at home.

Sporgies are short for "Spotify Orgies". Yeah, I know they have some different meanings but the name is cool enough still. The idea is that on Facebook or IRC or wherever you like to meet virtually, someone calls up a subject (say "swedish music") and everybody starts contributing to a playlist. You drink beer, dig up songs from Spotify, and send links to each other. Whoever called together the game, collects the playlist and shares it with everybody else.

The end result is usually rather hilarious, and you get to keep the playlist.

(Kudos to Kari Haakana for coining the term and probably the game too!)

Wednesday, 11-Mar-09 18:55
WTF is going on in Italy?

First, we read from the newspapers that despite crime rates actually going down, the parliament saw it to be necessary to allow citizen militia to patrol the streets (Finnish, $) - with no training or oversight.

Then, they propose a legislation which can get your blog or web site (including sites like Youtube and Facebook) censored if you disagree with any current legislation (of course, without any oversight again).

Then they sue Google executives for content on YouTube.

And now someone in the parliament is demanding to ban anonymity completely on the internet?

I don't claim to understand any of Italian politics, but this all sounds rather scary to me. May be that all this is just an effort to ride on cheap media tricks, but on the other hand... Major Italian TV channels are mostly endless game and variety shows. It's as if someone wanted to keep the people as stupid as possible.

Monday, 09-Mar-09 23:17
Great experiences

Can't remember who, but someone told me that "after six weeks, get a babysitter and go out". Excellent advice and we ended up splurging at Kappeli, where the menu and service turned a wonderful evening to a perfect one.

It's easy to badmouth a bad restaurant or service or product, but it's more rare to remember to say good things about positive experiences. So thank you for the nice waitress who gave us a nice, romantic table by the window; the cook who prepared a perfect meal; and especially Outi's parents who practically threw us out of the apartment.

Wednesday, 25-Feb-09 11:14
Lex Nokiasta vielä

Noniin, tulihan se sieltä. Jukka Kemppinen bongasi iltauutisista, että Lex Nokian tarkoituksena on estää muun muassa "tekijänoikeussuojatun materiaalin kopiointi."

Mertenhän tätä jo aiemmin spekuloi (mutta en löydä linkkiä kirjoitukseen). Eihän nyt voi olla sattumaa se, että poliisilla ei ole oikeutta teleliikenteen valvontaan tekijänoikeusrikoksissa, mutta Lex Nokian myötä kaikille yhteisötilaajille sellainen tulee. Ja jos nyt joku tulee ja sanoo vaikkapa teekkarikylän verkkoylläpidolle, että teillä saatetaan harrastaa laitonta kopiointia, niin eikö se ole juuri sellainen tilanne, jossa ylläpito saa alkaa valvoa mitä verkossa liikkuu?

13 d§:

"Yhteisötilaaja saa käsitellä tunnistamistietoja manuaalisesti, jos on perusteltu syy epäillä, että viestintäverkkoa, viestintäpalvelua tai maksullista tietoyhteiskunnan palvelua käytetään 13 b §:n 3 momentissa tarkoitettujen ohjeiden vastaisesti tai että yrityssalaisuus on luvattomasti annettu ulkopuoliselle ja jos:"

13b §:n 3 momentti:

"2) määriteltävä, minkälaisia viestejä sen viestintäverkon kautta saa välittää ja hakea, sekä miten sen viestintäverkkoa ja viestintäpalvelua saa muutoin käyttää ja minkälaisiin kohdeosoitteisiin viestintää ei saa harjoittaa."

Tuohan siis käytännössä tarkoittaa siis sitä, että käyttösääntöjen rikkominen antaa luvan seurata toimintaa. Luen tuon niin, että vaikkapa nettisensuurin (siis ei edes lapsipornosuotimien, vaan esim. Facebookissa käyminen työajalla, jos se on yritetty estää jotenkin) kiertäminen on riittävä syy sille, että nettiliikennettäsi aletaan seurata. Tosin vain silloin, että siitä voidaan osoittaa olevan merkittävää haittaa - mutta esimerkiksi torrentien hakeminen teekkarikylän verkossa (joka vienee merkittävän osan kaistasta) voisi sellainen olla. Pääasia kuitenkin on, että "merkittävä haitta" on yhteisötilaajan itsensä määrittelemä, ja jos esim. TKVK:n lakimiesten soittoihin vastaaminen vie merkittävän ajan ylläpidon elämästä, niin ehkä sekin voisi olla merkittävä haitta.

Ja siis toiminnanhan ei tarvitse olla todistettavasti laitonta. Jos joku jakaa merkittävän määrän tauhkaa koneeltaan, oli se miten kryptattua tahansa, se voi riittää siihen, että joku masiina jossain piippaa, ylläpito tutkii tunnistetiedot, ilmoittaa eteenpäin ja koneet takavarikoidaan tutkinnan ajaksi. Saa ne sitten muutaman kuukauden kuluttua takaisin, jos syytettä ei nosteta, mutta ei se paljoa lohduta.

Mutta tämähän on vain vainoharhaisuutta. Eihän kukaan koskaan näin oikeasti väärinkäyttäisi yrityssalaisuuksien suojaamiseksi tehtyä lakia. Eihän?

Luonnollisesti Suvi Linden väittää, että tämä koskee vain yrityssalaisuuksiin käsiksi pääseviä työntekijöitä, mutta tuossa 13d §:ssa on tuo maaginen tai, eikä ja. Ongelmahan on nyt siinä, että tässä laissa on koplattu yhteen sekä yrityssalaisuuksia valvova laki (joka siis on sinällään melkein bueno) että yhteisötilaajien oikeus käsitellä tunnistetietoja teknisten ongelmien ratkomiseksi, jolloin molemmat lait valuvat toistensa vaikutusalueille ja aikaansaavat hämäriä sivuvaikutuksia, joista osa kuulostaa Anssi Kotilaisen märältä päiväunelta.

Friday, 06-Feb-09 11:33
Finland's largest go tournament ever to take place tomorrow

The Takapotku-tournament, which has established itself as one of the major go tournaments in Finland in just a few measly years, is again starting tomorrow (7.2.) morning in the Hima&Sali-restaurant of the old Cable Factory in Ruoholahti, Helsinki. Currently, there are 110 registered participants, which makes this the biggest such event ever in the history of Finnish go (and a fairly large event considering any single game played in Finland). There are extremely strong players joining from Russia, UK and Sweden as well as the Finnish all-stars of go, feared throughout the continent due to their skills.

If you're interested in the game, this is a great opportunity to come and see the thrill of a top-notch competition personally. It doesn't get much better than this - until next year, when Tampere as the first city in Finland hosts the European Go Congress for 700+ players all over Europe and the world. Any go player will be happy to teach you the rules - just make sure you don't bother the people still playing!

(Disclaimer: I organized the first Takapotku tournament, back in 2003. It was already back then the largest tournament ever held in Finland, and it just keeps growing, thanks to the tender care of the new organizers.)

Monday, 02-Feb-09 13:42
Lex Nokia videos

You know, I was worried that these ads would be cheesy, but they're actually pretty darned good. I haven't written about Lex Nokia too much, mostly because of my preoccupation with The Kid and because everyone else has already said pretty well what's wrong with it (and anonymous cowards can go ahead and claim it's really because Nokia is my employer, 'cos that's what anonymous cowards do).

Anyway, if the corporations (and schools, and kindergartens, and libraries) get more freedoms than the police to spy on their users, it's only logical that in the near future, the police will get similar rights. Probably using child pornography as a smokescreen, since it works well against everything. In fact, it should be a law: "Any civil liberty can be squashed using child pornography as an argument." (Just like Godwin's law says that any discussion is moot after someone mentions Hitler). And, not soon after that, also right to inspect the content of the packets is given, so that pesky people who send MP3s over email can be prosecuted as well. You see, I don't think it's enough to prosecute anyone based on the headers only - you will need to read the contents as well in order to get the evidence. Currently, you do need a court order. However, it would be a lot more convenient and cheaper to give the right to read the contents as well - after all, it's only a minor technical change after the right to read the headers is given...

It is a slippery slope, and when you consider these as separate, isolated laws and reasonings, each single step kinda makes sense. But as a whole, in the end, it means that every internet user in this country will be monitored "just in case" they do anything bad. And that's not a big step away from the good ol' communist countries. I know this sounds kinda alarmist, but it has happened before, and it will happen again. Just ask any Chinese dissident, or anyone old enough to remember DDR. The fun thing is that some people will welcome the change, because they think it's just a way to get rid of bad people, and they themselves are not bad.

Anyway, here are the videos, in which you seen politicians wipe their arse with the Finnish Constitution. Very much to the point.

(Hitler. Ha, said it first! You can't argue anymore!)

Wednesday, 28-Jan-09 22:46
Doctor Who continues

I've been trying to keep up with the old Dr Who episodes being shown on MTV3 Scifi (which is probably the only TV channel I really watch these days - sad or what?). I have to admit that I sort of understand why the show went downhill during Colin Baker's tenure (Doctor #6) - not because Mr. Baker's acting (he's rather convincing as a Doctor, though unstable), but because of the overall change of making the show a bit more action-oriented, and, well, look very 80s (didn't work for Galactica 1980 either). I really liked the calm scientist approach of Jon Pertwee (who probably is my favourite Doctor to date), and to some extent the eccentricity (and the scarf) of Tom Baker, who had some pretty entertaining stories. Peter Davison didn't really sit well with me - he just didn't have the "older than thou, by 900 years" -feeling which all other Doctors do exude.

But anyhow, Doctor Who is THE classic SciFi-series, and for good reason. And at least they tried to make aliens look like aliens, unlike certain franchises which just put actors in prosthetic forehead bumps...

It's also fun to see how computing technology has changed - during Pertwees time, computers were large rooms with blinkenlichts, then during 80s you clearly see common household computers generating computer displays for TARDIS and other computers. Perhaps that's why the newer ones feel a bit childish - I was a child when computers looked like that.

Oh yeah, and the theme music simply rocks, for all versions.

(By the way; MTV3 SciFi just restarted Star Trek: Deep Space Nine from Season 1, Episode 1 a couple of days ago. So if you want to see it, grab a subscription now. It's 3€/month in Welho, though you do need a package subscription, which will drive the price up. But if you've already got one, then this is a cheap add-on. IMHO it's completely worth the money.)


Private comments? Drop me an email. Or complain in a nearby pub - that'll help.



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"Main" last changed on 10-Aug-2015 21:44:03 EEST by JanneJalkanen.

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