Wednesday, 31-May-06 15:50
WTF is this "optical inch"?

From the Philips Bodygroom web site, the "why men should shave their groin area" -section:

A little pubic topiary doesn't just reduce body odour, make you feel more comfortable and improve the way you look in trunks - it can help you look better in the bedroom too. Trimming back pubic hair is thought to add an extra 'optical inch' to your manhood (which probably explains why nearly half* of all British men have had a go at trimming theirs).

In exactly which way does "optical inch" help - whatever it is that you're doing? The ad agency must've had a blast with this one...

Yeah, it's Wednesday. Obviously.

Monday, 29-May-06 15:56
Enterprise bloggers categorized

The question of blogging and how corporations should handle it seems to pop up every now and then. The conversation runs around in circles on whether a company should blog, what are the concrete benefits, and so on. However, little attention is given to bloggers themselves. In my discussions, I've found it useful to categorize corporate blogs and bloggers into four categories (sorry for the lack of funny names, couldn't think of any that weren't derogatory):

Category I

This class consists of people who don't affiliate themselves in the company in any way. They might be anonymous, pseudonymous, or blogging under their own name, but they don't talk about their job, or even mention they work for the company. Most of the blogs belong to this category, and are interesting from the enterprise point of view as customer blogs; the place where a bad review spreads like wildfire.

Category II

Bloggers, who have their own personal website, but still do associate themselves with a company, comprise Category II. Their blogs are strongly identified to a person, are rarely pseudonymous, and may or may not have anything to do with the work. Quite a few of "known" bloggers are in this category, such as Robert Scoble, who sometimes is called "THE Microsoft blogger." If a Cat II[1] blogger were to switch jobs, the blog would still continue; he'd just identify himself with another company.

Category III

Some corporations run big blog networks under their own domain. These blogs, which I call Category III, are typically centered on a subject or a particular aspect of the company (such as Tommi's S60 Applications). While the authors appear as real persons, and in some cases, get very strongly identified as the company blogger, they are still a company thing, and should the blogger leave; someone else would probably pick it up and continue writing.

Category IV

In the most extreme case of corporate blogging, the author goes completely anonymous (somewhat like in Cat I), and the blog becomes a true "corporate voice", often repeating the same things as the official press releases. (The Official Google blog looked like this some time ago; now it's become a group blog where people write under their own names.)

This categorization[2] raises some questions: how should enterprises approach the different blogs and bloggers? How to handle Cat II bloggers, who sometimes mention their work (like me)? Should they be banned, ignored, rewarded, or maybe killed? How do you build a successfull Category III blog and maximize the brand value? Do Category IV blogs have any intrinsic value over press releases, since they're not personal? How do you watch the hordes of Category I bloggers, who might be slipping out all sorts of secret stuff ("my boss is an idiot and he gave me this stupid cell phone to design in five weeks because we're launching in two months")? Can you hire Cat II people and make them your Cat III people? Does having a great and successfull Cat II blog mean that you have what it takes to author a great and successfull Cat III blog?

I don't know yet, but I'm certainly searching for answers. Enterprise blogging seems to be hitting a sweet spot by giving more to the class of users who actually do care about the products. Previously, no matter what your interest level was, there were very few ways of influencing or communicating directly with the company, except by writing personal letters and getting back form replies. Now, it's possible for the more involved customer to have this direct conversation, which connects the people who make their living out of making something, and those who spend their money on that something. And I think it's a good thing which is not likely to go away soon, because once you get used to it, it's very hard to give up.

[#1] Yes, this is a pun on "cat bloggers". It's funny. Laugh.

[#2] Which is, of course, a very engineer-like approach, but sometimes that is useful, especially in an engineering company. Remember, engineers designed the computer you're reading this on, so we can't be completely useless or wrong, no matter how much you pooh-pooh at us. So nyah.

Sunday, 28-May-06 10:42
World Village Festival in Helsinki

D'oh! I didn't realize until I read Antti's blog that "Maailma kylässä" aka "World Village Festival" is in Helsinki this weekend, in Kaisaniemi. It's free, it's interesting, there's lots of music and food, and the weather is not terribly bad either.

So get going!

Wednesday, 24-May-06 17:35
Lordi fans mob mags

The new Eurovision hero, Lordi, has triggered another case of mob justice: A Finnish trash/celeb magazine "7 päivää" has published the picture of Mr. Lordi, Tomi Putaansuu, without his mask, against his explicit wishes.

Within a few hours, the discussion forum was filled with angry messages, to the point of nearly crashing the server (seems to be working now). A petition condemning the actions is filling rapidly, with 13676 names within six hours (and it's growing fast). The editor of the magazine says: "well, it was published before, so there is no harm."

Apparently, people think differently. Even the petition page is creaking under the load, and Seiska has removed the names and email addresses of their staff from their web pages (hey, you should be willing to stand behind your words, you creepy cowards. Well, I'm sure the Google cache and Archive.org copies have alread been posted everywhere.)

In addition, Hämeen Sanomat also published the unmasked image of Lordi, and their discussion forums are also being bombarded with angry messages from people saying they are going to cancel their subscription. The editor says (scroll down in the thread): "Hey, it's just entertainment."

Maybe it is. But still, people are feeling pretty strongly about it. So strongly that they're demanding that the names and addresses and faces of the journalists be brought forward, too.

The internet crowd is capable of reacting extremely fast, far faster than before, because they don't need to move physically to one place to demonstrate. This makes them very dangerous, too, because an angry crowd becomes a lynching mob pretty easily, if someone knows how to play them right (proven most recently by the Muhammad pictures affair).

What's the difference between a guy who does not want his face to be shown in public, and a dead prophet? At least the Finnish fans aren't storming the UK embassy, killing everyone with an UK passport, and demanding an apology from Tony Blair, just because The Sun published the same pictures on their front page.

After all, it's just entertainment.

Addition: This is the best case of wannabe hackers I've seen in a while:

"Seiska's IP address is 83.145.216.97. It is in Espoo. Attach lightly first, let's co-ordinate some further actions."

"Co-ordinate where"?

"Here."

So, you wonderful misfits figured out where seiska.fi is (which is trivial, even for a rhesus monkey), and now you want to talk about attacking it on a public forum hosted on the same frigging server you're going to attack? Good luck there. And remember, your own IP addresses are stored by seiska now :-D

Update: The petition mentioned above has gathered 124929 names now. This is an insane amount of people, and should worry any editor.

Update, Friday 26th: Seiska apologizes publicly, after they have started to lose advertisers. Pirkka writes really well on the subject: "Seiska showed what they think of their readers: they're rumour-hungry vultures, who take any scandal they can get. And a surprisingly large amount of people told them that they do not want to belong to that group." (translation mine). There is also a nonviolent campaign of "turn the mag upside down".

Tuesday, 23-May-06 22:31
Sony BMG steals their own music from P2P sites?

This does not compute. Sony BMG, the herald of copyright and the destroyer of computers is using MP3's downloaded from an illegal P2P website to promote the recent Eurovision winner Lordi.

According to the metadata from the MP3s, at least one file comes from a Spanish website called GrupoeMusica, an illegal source of music files if I ever saw one. So, while technically Sony BMG owns the copyright, they're downloading the content from an illegal source, therefore committing copyright infringement and should sue themselves...

The fun part is that it was probably the easiest way to get the music for the guys who put together the website... But frankly, this kind of behaviour does not exactly solidify the image of white knights championing for artists, but more the image of a corporation trying to make all the money they can, no matter how.

(Via Marginaali. Or to be specific, comments.)

Monday, 22-May-06 15:41
Loituma

WTF is going on with this Loituma thing right now?

(For extra credit, open all of the above links in separate browser windows or tabs simultaneously, and space out. Via IRC.)

Update: the strangest Loitumas so far are this Japanese dance video and this robot dance.

Sunday, 21-May-06 03:19
Lordi wins, and Hell freezes over

...and I've drunk 1/3 bottle of perfectly fine Fettercairn single malt whiskey, before it's too late. I feel my toes freezing already.

For the first time ever, Finland has won the Eurovision song contest.

WHEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!

Anyone who promised to move to Sweden if Lordi wins: Don't worry. You can still stay here. That is, if you can stand the rest of us being really, really, really smug about it. It turns out that we won the semi-finals, too!

(Congrats also to Carola, who's managed to score a respectable 3rd place, 1st place and 5th place for Sweden throughout the history of the Eurovision song contest. Just lay off with the fans next time, okay?)

My flight landed so late that we actually watched the whole show from tape. We refused to answer any calls, read any SMS's or blogs because of the fear of being spoiled of the result. What a perfect way to return home, dwarfed only by the hug I received when I walked through the door...

Friday, 19-May-06 11:42
DMZ

By Piero Sierra
I spent the morning to see the DMZ - the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea. It's a chilling feeling to realize that at any moment, without warning, tanks could roll in while you were watching. Having lived next to the Soviet border for many years, the tension had a familiar feeling...

But the most stopping thing was descending 72 meters underground, and travel the 500m of tunnel dug by North Koreans in an attempt to create a passage through which up to 30,000 soldiers could travel in an hour, unnoticed, to about 52 km of Seoul. At the end of it stands a concrete block, with a well-locked door.

Behind it... who knows? Endless dark tunnels, forever sealed, leading into the most mysterious nation in the world.

Home tomorrow. I could spend more time here.

Thursday, 18-May-06 06:25
Toilet seat design problem

In a desperate effort to put the "ugly" and "butt" back into "Butt Ugly", I present the following innovation:

The flushing handle (marked) is put so close to the ground, that you have to lean forward to reach it. Now, this takes your face rather close to the surface of the water in the bowl, which makes it very easy (and mandatory) for you to do a thorough survey of your ... produce.

I suppose this is one way to teach humility.

(Yes, I could close the lid. But what's the fun in that?)

Tuesday, 16-May-06 18:40
Armed Forces Network tells you how things are

As mentioned below, one of the great perversions pleasures of traveling abroad is watching the very late night programming on foreign TV stations. And the early morning professional go games on Japanese TV, but that’s borderlining on weird.

In Korea, you really realize that there’s a large military presence here. I’ve been called a "fucking Texan" on a couple of occasions already, though not by Koreans. What really fascinates me is the U.S. Armed Forces Network, a large military channel which plays on channel 2 of my hotel TV, and it has been teaching me things.

Now I know that sexual assault is bad and should be reported (no shit), and that military research saves lives, and that 2% of Americans are assuring freedom of speech for the rest, that May is the “military appreciation month”, though that should not stop you from appreciating the military on other months, too, that there are very cute bartenders who can spin a hula hoop while balancing a Corona bottle on their head, that railway cars docking can be very erotic, and that one should think before dressing in disco clothes or imitating Don Johnson in public, because not all countries are as forgiving as USA. (Very sage advice, I might add.)

It’s interesting to note that they seem to be actively encouraging interaction with the local communities. The programming they play is “safe” home entertainment, with familiar shows such as the Jay Leno Show, Lost, The Family Guy and all sorts of dramas. At least they’ve got David Letterman, with an occasional Bush joke and pretty blatant ad placement. There are none of your standard ads, but either very high-brow, patriotic, tens-of-millions-of-dollars advertisements; or really cheap ones built on an old Amiga or something. Nice contrast there. Gives this sort of a hobby-like image.

Monday, 15-May-06 20:20
Australian aboriginal children abuse

When you can't sleep on a business trip, you watch TV. Channelsurfing, I ended up watching the ABC Lateline program. And now I most certainly can't sleep.

It appears that for a long time, there have been constant sexual abuses of children, down to the age of seven months in Australian aboriginal communities, where violence is common, there is no police, and a strong culture of silence which is very punitive: If you go to court and tell your story, the accused person's family will exert physical violence on you, for getting that person into trouble.

These are not isolated and anecdotal cases. Crown prosecutor Dr. Nanette Rogers in Alice Springs has released a paper detailing these atrocities, and was interviewed for TV.

(Quotes from the transcript; RealMedia and Windows Media also available. You may not want to read or listen.)

TONY JONES: Let's go to another case. In 2003 there was perhaps even a worse case. It involved a much younger baby - seven-months-old. Can you tell us about that?

NANETTE ROGERS: That was in a remote community. The child or the baby was asleep with other adults in a room in the house. The offender came along and removed the sleeping baby and was in the process of taking it outside the house. One of the adult women woke up and took the baby back and put it back into bed with her and they went back to sleep. Unbeknownst to the sleeping adults, he came back again and removed the child. A man in the house was - saw someone on the verandah at some point, he went out, and he found the offender with this baby and the baby was naked from the waist down. He didn't know anything untoward had happened. He persuaded the man to relinquish the baby because it was cold and all the rest of it. So the offender relinquished the baby after some talking and the man then put it back inside and they went to sleep. In the morning, the mother of the baby - she'd been drinking, she was still drunk - she came back to the house. She changed the clothes of the baby. There was blood on the clothing. The mother then went - left the house.

TONY JONES: She didn't notice? Is the evidence, in fact, that she was too drunk to realise what had happened to her own baby?

NANETTE ROGERS: That's one way of looking at it. The...when the mother left the house, one of the other adult women went and got the child, changed the baby's nappy, noticed the blood and so on and that baby, the seven-month-old baby and the two-year-old both required surgery for external and internal injuries under general anaesthetic.

TONY JONES: There are other cases. One of them is almost too depraved to talk about, but one feels you have to, in a way, get these things out in the open. But this is of an 18-year-old petrol sniffer who actually drowns a young girl while he's raping her?

and later on, about the aboriginal culture:

NANETTE ROGERS: That was a matter involving a young girl, aged about 14, who had some schooling in Darwin. She was at Yarralin, which is in the Victoria River Downs district and she was promised to a much older man. He came and took her - to take her physically and her grandmother instead - and the young girl didn't want to go. Instead of supporting her, her grandmother basically forced her into the car and assisted the older promised man in removing her physically from the community, where he then had sexual intercourse with her and kept her for a number of days at his outstation. And she's an example of - she was not complicit. She did not want to go. She - you know, it's that kind of new breed of young women hopefully coming through who see the choices that they've got and also, importantly, see the choices that non-Indigenous young women have in the broader society.

The Australian past is shameful, and the current situation is not too good either.

Monday, 15-May-06 05:47
Todays word: "huhudious"
huhudious adj. an outrageous statement or a point of view or behaviour that beggars belief. A close synonym to hubristic, breathtaking and preposterous, with the same notion of brazen, yet insouciant, arrogance on the part of the interlocutor. Pronounced hoo-hoo-dious, this word is a neologism from the people of Ghana, coined circa 1975 when military buffoons were looting the country's finances while claiming they were fighting corruption.

What a great word!

(From Koranteng's Toli.)

Saturday, 13-May-06 19:53
hic!

Verydrunk right now. Ended up in Seoul, South korea. Nice people. Like very loud htings. Lots of noice about. My ears are ringing.

UMTS networks are available, but their coverage is not very goofd, not even in Seoul.

In futher niews, I would like to point out that haengul is pretty easy to learn, but it is nigh imposslbe to learn Korean after five beers an dlots of oicse in an all-you_can-eat-and-drink bar.

Local clubbing scene very loud. Mjust go to bed now. Local taxis not very good in english. Lucky I ended up in my hotel.

Sleep sounds like a very good idea right abot noow. Lot sof jegltag about.

Thursday, 11-May-06 09:52
Riding on the wiki hype curve

The new Google Trends is an interesting tool which allows you to view different keywords and how popular they've been over time.

Looking at this curve for wikis, it certainly seems that interest in wikis is growing rapidly. Much more than in blogs, for example (which have been growing, too).

I have certainly noticed the same trend with JSPWiki. We've had a steady, growing flow of new people on the mailing list, and download rates are growing nicely. We're also getting new developers to help with the work, so much that it's being less and less "my project" and becoming a real community-based open source thingy. Which is very, very nice.

Wednesday, 10-May-06 13:54
RFID in home use

Timo Arnall has kindly published an interview on his "Touch" -project, detailing how he sees the everyday world, augmentable through metadata on objects themselves.

The difference between touch-based augmented reality and traditional augmented reality is the same as with object-oriented programming and procedural programming: in the former you associate data with objects; with the latter you have a single control point through which all information flows. Adding objects that can describe themselves is a far more scalable model. (Yes, I know I am slightly misusing the term "augmented reality" here, which usually requires 3D registration, but I have no better term yet.)

That's also the cool thing about NFC-based systems compared to RFID: you can embed way more data on an object than just a simple identifier. This allows objects to become independent of some huge database out there on the web, while at the same time taking advantage of it, if necessary.

For example, you could embed short descriptions, and then add Google queries on the same tag to get access to a live document, if necessary.

"Tangibility." I like that word. Rolls of the tongue in a vague, yet nonthreating way :-)

</randomramble>

Wednesday, 10-May-06 11:36
Record industry: "Let people copy music for their personal use"

Sounds great, doesn't it? Well, it's just more or less codifying the existing behaviour: in the UK, it's currently illegal to rip your own CD onto your iPod, so the music industry now asked the government to make it legal.

The BPI has vigorously prosecuted consumers who share music illegally over the internet using peer-to-peer (P2P) websites. It wants the current legislative protections to remain in place for these music "pirates", but believes allowances should be made for individuals who simply want to copy music for their own use.

"This is about the UK music industry responding effectively to the changing way music is consumed," said a senior industry figure yesterday.

Of course, with the EUCD directive, you are still a criminal if you break a DRM system to rip your "copy protected" CD, but it's a good thing that someone out there still has some grasp of reality. It's not exactly much, though: I doubt anyone was sitting home waiting for permission to transfer music from their CDs to their iPods.

I've said it before and I've said it now: copying bits cannot be prevented, and therefore there is no point to try and restrict it (except by hiding them in places where they cannot be found). It's how you use those bits that determines who should get paid and whom you should ask permission from... And legislation should reflect that - it's a reality of the digital age.

(Via Digg.)

Tuesday, 09-May-06 09:08
Life after Star Wreck

The people who brought you Star Wreck, one of the most watched Finnish movies of all time (if not the watched), have now opened the web pages for their new movie "Iron Sky" at http://www.ironsky.net/. Not much info there yet, though.

Saturday, 06-May-06 17:29
Vote Lordi

Please vote for Lordi, the Finnish representative in the Eurovision song contest on the 18th and 20th of May. Unfortunately, I'll be in Seoul for the whole week, so I'll miss the whole debacle, and probably won't even be able to vote.

The thing is - Finland has never won the Eurovision song contest. It's become almost a national shame, and countless are the hordes of elderly people who write to newspapers every day, debating why Finns never win (ok, slight exaggeration there, but I'm taking some artistic liberties here).

But should Finland win this time with something that looks and sounds like something left on the cutting room floor of a bad horror movie, it would probably make us tumble into a national crisis of unprecedented proportions. Which, I think, would be good. Shaking things up every now and then is a great idea.

So, any Europeans out there, give us a bit of push, willya? We're standing on the ledge, just waiting for you...

(votelordi.org via Pinseri. Please distribute the link - it's a good cause!)

Saturday, 06-May-06 00:08
Gone with the wind

Goodbye, makasiinit. T'was fun knowing you.

Somehow, despite all the danger and hassle, this somehow feels like a fitting end for a place which was always a home for alternative cultures. The final anarchy.

(Nice pictures in Flickr about the fire.)

Friday, 05-May-06 01:08
4400 mistakes

Watched the pilot episode of 4400 today (yeah, so we're a couple of years behind. No worries.)

While I really liked the show, the physicist in me screamed at the crappy physics. If a thing is approaching Earth 3000 km/s, and it takes about a half an hour to impact, it's about 5.4 million kilometers away. Now, a Titan II missile may have the capability to reach space (and even achieve escape velocity, 11.2 km/s), but a it most certainly does not travel 5.4 million klicks in 30 seconds. That would make it go at about half the speed of light. They could've rigged a VW Beetle to drive down the freeway at Mach 3, and it would've been more believable.

Of course, all nuclear weapon carrying Titan II:s were dismantled in 1984, 20 years before the show timeline, but...

It's just that if a show is scifi, the writers could at least try to stay true to some reality. Remember the math problems at school? The "If Jill starts from New York on the 10:02 train, and Jack starts from Cleveland on the 9:30 train, at what point do they meet?" This is just the same:

"If a comet is hurtling towards Earth at 3000 km/s, and is 28 minutes away; and we launch 15 missiles towards it with the top speed of 12 km/s, how far away from Earth will the nuclear explosions be, and would it do any good to you to put a paperbag over your head?"

(Having said that, yes, I liked the pilot episode, but I sincerely do hope the writers stick to the human element of the story, and steer away from any scientific explanations of anything. Calculating such basic things as speeds can be so difficult.)

Update: I said the VW Beetle part as a joke, but it turns out someone already fitted a jet engine on a Beetle. Via Slashdot.

Wednesday, 03-May-06 12:17
Apache for Nokia S60 cell phones - the release!

I wrote earlier about Apache web server for mobile phones, and I was just informed that the release binaries are now available!

So, if you ever fancied running Apache 2 on your cell phone, now is your chance. Should run on any S60 2nd edition Feature Pack 2 phone (like 6630).

The best thing is that it includes mod_python, based on the Python port on S60. Who's the first one to run Moin Moin Wiki on their cell phone? ;-)

(There's also mod_dav, so you should be able to remotely mount your phone's memory card so that you can access it on the web from your home PC. I think.)

(Thanks to Johan for the info!)

Tuesday, 02-May-06 15:01
Japanese the most common language in the blogosphere

...so says Sifry's state of the blogosphere. Japanese has overtaken English as the most common language in the blogosphere, with 37 % of all posts being in Japanese.

Finnish, of course, being nowhere in sight.


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



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