Thursday, 30-Oct-03 13:21
Wednesday evening, all electrified

Evening: So, after a quick stroll around Ginza, we walked through Kanda to Akihabara, and particularly its Electric Town. Later on, we were met by a fellow JSPWiki user, Murray, who was kindly took us to a all-you-can-eat shabu-shabu place - a place we would not have found in a million years. It really makes you wonder how the Tokyo-dwellers actually find these restaurants anyway: the competition must be fierce, and being on the 8th floor of some obscure building with six other restaurants makes standing out... difficult.

By the way: If you don't know what Akihabara is, let me paint a picture for you: Imagine the biggest electronic shop that you know. Now, take away all extra space, and imagine all the stuff in a room that's about the size of an average living room.

Then, put six on these on top of each other, and connect with a stair case.

Put ten of these in a row.

Put ten of those rows in columns.

Now, imagine 50 blocks of those, packed tightly with nary a room for a small cafe or a soba bar between them.

Decorate with the amount of blinkenlichts equivalent of New York during Christmas.

Populate with 200,000 people, coming and going, shouting advertisements, selling and buying.

Akihabara.

It's The Place.

Wednesday, 29-Oct-03 07:33
Wednesday, about 1 am

The Japanese TV has not lost any of its allure. We just watched a program where four guys were stopping random pretty girls and giving them a pair of bikinis. In the evening, the girls arrived at the TV studio, and a game ensued, where the guys were trying to guess which bikinis the girls had chosen, while ogling at them unashamedly. Correct guesses were awarded with a view and a short talk with the girl (in the bikini, if course).

Most of the commercials are mind-boggling, too. Of course, drinking half a liter of sake does make the stuff more hilarious than it probably is, but... Japanese TV still beats any mind-expanding drugs.

...

Later: We are now sitting inside the architectural miracle called the Tokyo International Forum. Free ~WiFi, yay!

Wednesday, 29-Oct-03 07:31
Shinkansen train to Tokyo

We slept rather late this morning, and thus had time to visit only one area. We chose the Kinkaku-ji, aka the Golden Temple, and the nearby Zen Garden of ?. The Golden Temple is quite okay, and luckily we got in during a time when there weren't too many tourists. However, the Zen garden was a bit of a shocker: I recognized the place. It's really a very strange feeling to walk into a place you are certain you have never been to, and realize you have seen it before. And it wasn't just a phantom deja vu; in fact, I actually had seen the garden in a couple of movies. I think the last one was Stupeur et Tremblements the story of Amelie Nothcombe that I saw two months ago.

Nevertheless, the garden is a wonderful place. Even though there's a constant chatter and creak of the floorboards from the flow of tourists, there's something calming and soothing about the atmosphere. I could've spent hours upon hours there, just sitting. Not really even thinking, just letting the mind wander.

I wonder how difficult it would be to construct a rock garden of my own?

Wednesday, 29-Oct-03 07:27
Monday, sitting on the floor

After arrival, we grabbed something quick to eat (and even that quick turned out to be very good and left for an evening stroll to the Kodai-ji temple. It had been lit with amazing colors, and I managed to use almost all of my 128MB memory card, trying to grab fleeting photographs in the diminishing light. I got perhaps three good shots, and as an extra bonus, a nice picture of Mars next to an ancient temple.

Now, off to the city on bikes.

...

Around midnight: OK, I would claim that my feet are killing me, but apparently putting them in a nice kotatsu and sipping sake makes them forget such morbid thoughts. Now they are soaking in the warmth of the second most important Japanese invention to date.

Kyoto really is a good city for biking. Even though you couldn't travel too fast on them, and they steered like drunken camels, it's really easy to cover a lot of ground. Most of Kyoto's more interesting sights are on the edge of the city, which means that you can lose a lot of time traveling between them. And the city is mostly flat, except for the East side. Of course, we mostly went to there, since there's the Ginkaku-ji, the fabled Silver Temple. We first went to see the Shogun's Palace, built for Tokugawa Ieyasu in 1603.

I have to say that the Ginkaku-ji was a slight disappointment; the Shogun's house (with the nightingale floor!) and yesterday's light display with the garden were far more interesting.

We also accidentally met some other Finns talking loudly outside the Ginkaku-ji: "500 Yen!?! We're not paying that much money!" Someone in the family pointed out - quite correctly - that they had flown in 8000 km, and paid a handsome amount of moolah for the privilege as well, so it would be rather stupid to start skimping now. They finally entered, right after us, and their kid (the one that was not wearing running clothes, the standard Finnish attire for everything) started promptly poking and peeking where one is not really supposed to be poking and peeking.

We spoke mostly English with Erik after that, and tried to avoid our countrymen.

I also learned that my hand-eye-ear co-ordination requires an upgrade, as Erik repeatedly beat me in a "taiko"-game, where the aim is to bang on realistic-looking drums with sticks to the tunes of popular music. It was extraordinarily fun, though... The evening was finished in Ganko, an expensive looking restaurant that we had been tipped on. The bill of the evening was about 90 euros for two persons, but frankly, I have seldom eaten so well. I was already on the brink of becoming full, as the kimono-clad waitresses started carrying in more food. I now know how to eat tohu, bean milk that is sort of cooked at the table, and then eaten with vinegar. Um. The result is something resembling a cross between slightly boiled egg and tofu, and eating it requires some serious chopsticking skills.

Wednesday, 29-Oct-03 07:20
Sunday, after a very, very long flight on which I was convinced on the genius of those nice folks at Pixar.

The living room.
You know, when you get too relaxed you start to make mistakes. I took a bit of a laid back attitude to the whole Japan travel thingy, and it really paid back today...

First of all, we actually are on board a Shinkansen Nozomi train traveling towards Kyoto at 250km/h. However, not a single one of my dozen dictionaries or travel guides is with me; they are sitting nicely on the bookshelf at my living room where I left them. It is not a good idea to travel here without a basic dictionary or at least a kanji-to-any-human-readable-language translator.

It also took us three tries to get aboard the right plane in Helsinki. First, we tried to leave for some unknown destination, but luckily the flight personnel managed to grab and herd us back from the tube. After that, we stood for a long time in the queue to Amsterdam, until we realized that we were supposed to go to gate 26a, not 26.

After we arrived to Tokyo, I also realized I had forgotten at least one somewhat important paper with a relatively important address back home. However, I have utmost trust to the Japanese mentality of getting packages to their correct owners, no matter what. So I improvised on the address.

Oh well. At least "Finding Nemo" is a fully fledged airline movie: doesn't require too much intelligence, is fun to watch, and has some unforgettable characters. Dude.

Feels good to be back here.

Same Sunday, later on: We're now arrived at Hirota Guest House, which (as you can see) is a pretty nifty place for a measly sum of 7000 yen/night. Our walk here was interrupted by a neverending succession of people, holding some sort of a festival, dancing and blocking the traffic on a major street. Which was fun. We still have many hours of Sunday to go; we gotta go exploring!

(I think my internal clock just left me its resignation notice, citing consistent abuse.)

Saturday, 25-Oct-03 13:08
The Hat Is On The Move

Tokyo, here we come...

Friday, 24-Oct-03 19:58
Weekend Conversations

Todays absurd moment: I'm standing, minding my own business, on the tram stop, when an obviously drunken gentleman approaches me and makes this wonderful opening statement:

"<uncomprehensible> Do you wanna have your face bashed in immediately or now?"

Err. My old reflexes kick in and I slide back to a lower, defensive position. A friend of the eloquent speaker drags the man away, putting his arm over his shoulder and murmurs something I can't hear. They move further, surrounded by an invisible ring pushing everyone else at least three meters away.

The guy standing next to me comments:

"I would've protected you."

I stammer something resembling thanks in reply, kinda surprised at this sudden helpfulness.

"Yea, it's easier to block the punches from the side" he continues cheerily. "Just kick them with the knee to the stomach, that's what you gotta do to those types. They won't stop otherwise."

At this point, I'm pretty much speechless. He may have a point, but to sound so happy at the thought of getting involved in a fight and hurting another person; not to mention being so dismissive against those who are not doing so well... I felt angrier at my "helper" than the aggressor.

I was saved by an arriving tram, and all those wonderful personalities disappeared, hopefully never to be seen again.

Perhaps I should've asked him the same question: "<uncomprehensible> Do you wanna have your face bashed in immediately or now?"

Friday, 24-Oct-03 11:27
First snow

Whee! It's the slippery season again...

If only the Helsinki winters were like this all the time, but unfortunately soon it will be dark and grey for months.

Thursday, 23-Oct-03 16:20
Hate Longhorn

OK, Hell is really freezing over (Helsinki most certainly is): Apple does Windows software and Microsoft opens up Longhorn development.

I'm amazed: Microsoft is actually trying to do the right thing for a change. It took them a long time, but yeah, I think their move is probably for the best for all concerned parties. I for one, heartily welcome this idea. Go MS!

But I've lately realized I'm moving into the "unconcerned party" -list. I no longer really need Windows for anything, except occasionally at work, and even then, the good olde Windows 2000 is good enough.

I think that Longhorn's biggest challenge will be to keep up the public interest, and still be really, really good when it comes to the market. Because the sloth is late, and the competition is quickly catching up.

Thursday, 23-Oct-03 12:54
Philosophy test

I have this vague recollection that I've done this test before (in Finnish), but I seem to be unable to find the results. Anyhoo, here are the results of the Helsinkian Jury, translated into the most common language in the world (that is, bad English) by yours truly, ready to be added to the list of other dumb tests I've taken:

Three closest philosophers and match percentage:

  1. Kari Enqvist 79.0%
  2. Tuure Lehén 72.0%
  3. Machiavelli 71.0%

The person most disagreeing with you is Helena Petrovna Blavatsky 46.0%.

The following obscure Finnish opinion leaders agreed with you:

  1. Novelist Matti Mäkelä 78.0%
  2. MEP Esko Seppänen 76.0%
  3. Pop. artist Simo Frangen 74.0%

(Via Tira & Misu & The Third One)

Thursday, 23-Oct-03 00:20
Confessions of a switcher

OK, opinions so far on the Powerbook (after a few hours of tampering with it) from this Linux oldtimer:

  • This machine is simply beautiful. Even the packaging was aesthetically pleasing.
  • Setting up a WLAN connection turned out to be difficult; I simply couldn't make the Mac and my DLink base station to agree on a common WEP password. So I'm running a naked network now.
  • iTunes (and especially the radio feature) is a very well designed piece of software, and I hope the Windows version is equally good.
  • Built-in Bluetooth is a must.
  • The display is unfortunately not a very good one; my Sharp Actius has a far better display.
  • It is incredible how fast this machine wakes up from sleep.
  • I like Debian, and thus Fink is simply the coolest thing since... well. The ability to say "apt-get install cvs" and trivially install software is a geeks daydream.
  • The keyboard has keys in funny positions (where is the tilde?), and the touchpad is a tad too much to the right for my typing position: I tend to move my cursor randomly.
  • Safari 1.0 is a very good web browser. I usually always use Mozilla Firebird, but I think I might just live with Safari for a while.
  • Upgrading to OS 10.2.8 was the simplest OS upgrade ever. Way to go, Apple.

All in all, I'm liking it pretty much so far. I'll post some more impressions later on...

Update: OK, slightly more impressed now: I wanted to move from my WLAN connection to a local 100 Mbps Ethernet to copy all of my music on this computer. I plug the cable in and start to look for any kind of setting that would tell the Mac that it should be using now the Ethernet connection instead of the Airport. Can't find any with a quick look, so I decide to test it: and lo and behold, it automatically picked up the new connection, got a DHCP address and is now happily routing my LAN traffic through the faster wired network - without me ever telling it to!

Wednesday, 22-Oct-03 20:58
Game on, game off

Went to see the GameOn exhibit that's currently in Helsinki. It was good fun for a while to ogle at that old stuff (some of which I remember owning - and Parappa the Rapper is *still* the best game ever developed for PS2), but a sudden headache cut the evening short and forced me to return home.

Well, yesterday's high was properly matched by todays low. I don't recall having this bad a day at work for a long time: I am getting badly behind schedule, I am not even completely certain what I am supposed to be doing, and I have sincerely started to believe that teleconferences at 8 am should be marked with clear signs saying "DANGER. KEEP OFF."

I was somehow too messed up today even to enjoy my Powerbook, which arrived a few days earlier than expected. I was hoping that they would ship it late, and I would get it then with 10.3 (out on Friday), but no can do.

Oh well. Two days to go, everything is still messed up, and I think I'm getting a flu.

Wednesday, 22-Oct-03 09:35
Yle gets it

The Finnish Broadcasting Company has started to offer RSS feeds of their daily programming schedule. You can now choose between todays sports programming, selected picks, or upcoming movies.

Yay! Progress!

All I now need to do is to write a simple filter that reads the streams and picks my interests, and reformats the feed for me... A TV programming aggregator! :-)

Wednesday, 22-Oct-03 00:06
We wish to retract the previous article...

Um. Strike out the "sad" from the geek part and replace with "happy". And thanks to whoever who arranged the clear night and the aurora borealis. I owe you one, mate.

Anyway: I got bitten today by a "misgoogle": Someone approached me asking if this represents in any way my true feelings towards women. Well, duh, no, it's a roleplaying game character. Yes, I did write it, but it is a character, like in a play... I never really realized before how much old stuff there's about me in the web that might be misinterpreted as something that I really am not. And some stuff that's not about me, but that could be seen as being about me. And some stuff that's really about me, but... Well, you get the picture.

Googling your new acquaintances can be a real asset, yes, but when you get hit by a misgoogle... There's no end to potential confusion. Russell tells us how his weblog helped him to get a job, and some people have lost their job due to weblogs. I'm pretty sure some of us have gained friends through weblogs, and some of us have lost them... The internet is a harsh place to be, and impression management strategy is difficult.

And it's not just what you have on the web now: Through Google groups it's possible to find a lot of old articles you wrote in a heat of a moment, and are now saved for all posterity. Also, the Internet archive stores all web pages it can find for as long as there's still an electron flowing through the power lines.

It has become harder and harder to lie, and our society can't really handle lies anymore: everything has become too easy to check. We all do want to lie occasionally, and sometimes consistently, but the local village rumor mills have been replaced by Google and public institutions. Perhaps this is good for your privacy, perhaps it's not, who knows.

But I don't know if that's really a symptom of something deeper, or is it just the process of natural adjustment to new technology until we figure out how to deal with the issues. I hope and believe it's the latter.

Tuesday, 21-Oct-03 17:50
"Ugh"

I have been informed that somewhere in this city there's a person whom I do not know, but who wants to know what kind of graphics hardware do I have at home, and for some reason considers this information paramount to my (possible) future social life.

Dear geek, it is very sad to ask that question in that context.

It is even more sad to answer it.

And NOBODY beats me when it comes to being a sad geek.

It is an ELSA Gladiac 920 ~GeForce 3.

Monday, 20-Oct-03 23:21
PANIC

You know the feeling.

It starts from the pit of your stomach, as a queasy kind of feeling. It slowly, innocuously moves upwards, and wraps its invisible straps around your chest while you're not looking. It sends its tendrils to your fingers, which start trembling ever so slightly. Then it lodges itself firmly in your throat, and tightens the straps.

"Why am I this nervous? Why do I worry?" you ask yourself, trying to rationalize your fear, attempting to sooth your nerves, but still knowing that when tomorrow cometh, you will be even more nervous.

Panic: Because some meetings just are more important than others.

Monday, 20-Oct-03 12:26
Share the guilt

grouphug.us gives you the ability to confess anonymously whatever is nagging you. Just in case you want something off your chest.

Sunday, 19-Oct-03 20:24
Archives

After a couple of hours of quick coding, there's now a Weblog Archive plugin for JSPWiki, proudly presented on the right-hand menu. Now you can easily read all of my older ramblings as well. If you are really, really bored, that is.

Sunday, 19-Oct-03 03:46
Plantblog

While traveling to have our irregular gaming night (just finished, thankyouverymuch, I am very happy that that part of the campaign is now over), we stopped at a flower shop to get some nice green thingies for the hosts when I saw this utterly cute little Venus Flytrap. Had to buy it, of course. Let's see how my fruit flies like *that*!

(Some people like to blog about their cats - indeed, cat pictures can be called the primus motor of the blogosphere - but I choose plants. Make of it what you will.)

Friday, 17-Oct-03 23:59
Not so extraordinary, and hardly gentlemen either

Went to see LXG, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.

Comic good.

Movie bad. Very bad.

Rarely do I get the urge to leave the theatre during the movie. This time, right after about 45 minutes into the film, the small devil started to whisper in my ear: "You know, you are sitting quite close to the aisle. You could leave with little trouble to others. You could still go home and watch Y tu mamá también which you just picked up from a sale..." And if I weren't so darned lazy, I probably would've left.

I'll review the movie and rave lunatically about its thorough lack of personality, coherence, and general goodness, if someone asks for it. I'm too tired now. And I don't know whether the movie is even worth a review. DisapPOINTed, as Kevin Kline says in A Fish Called Wanda.

Friday, 17-Oct-03 11:00
Which greek god are you?


Wwww... what do you mean - Athena? But on Xena, she's always such a bitch!

Though she does have that cool army of female soldiers that never die...

(Via too many blogs.)

Thursday, 16-Oct-03 22:59
Hyperlife
And now for a word for the Finnish blogosphere: Puhutaanpa välillä suomeksikin, ettei ihan sentään tarvitse jokaisen lukijan koko ajan päätään raapia: Tira ja Mikki, tulkaa takaisin. Me kaipaamme teitä ja kirjoituksianne! Henri: Niihin kuviin ei kyllä kannattaisi kovin kallista kameraa käyttää: menee kuitenkin linssi rikki. Sitäpaitsi, mistä löytyisi sokea valokuvaaja? Mindy: Jees! Way to go girl! :-)

Joichi Ito introduced the terms m-time and p-time from Edward Hall. "P-time (polychronic) systems are characterized by several things happening at once."

I've recently noticed the same thing, too. I spend far less time on email and other linear, structured things, and suddenly I've become multi-connected, switching tasks at a very fast rate. You know, while the software is compiling, you check IRC, and RecentChanges, and a couple of blogs... But this is something I've been doing a long time anyway, and I've learned to be pretty adept at multitasking. No biggie. I've always done random things as well, with little connection to my actual life.

But oddly enough, lately I've felt like my social relationships are in p-time as well: I know a lot of people, and a lot of those people don't really know each other. So I try to balance between multiple, different social groups (and apologies to everyone whom I have been neglecting)... Someone called my blog "disjointed", that you really can't get a coherent picture of my life or what I do just by looking at it. But then again, I feel disjointed, too. It's like I am this vast hypermedia document that has links everywhere. Some you click more often, some you click less often. But they all lead to different places, and many of those documents don't know of their linkage.

I have a "hyperlife".

Perhaps it's a typical phenomenon[1] for people who lead an active online life. Or perhaps I'm just a freak.


[#1]: "Phenomena - Do do, do-do-do - Phenomena - Do do, do-do-do". Ever since have I been in love with Sandra Bullock. And if you know *this* obscure reference, I congratulate you for being a true geek.
Wednesday, 15-Oct-03 15:58
A pint of <deleted>

http://www.guinness.com

"We are sorry that you cannot visit Guinness.com, but the laws of your country do not allow you to view our site."

WHAT!?!

(via Another blogging Janne.)

Wednesday, 15-Oct-03 12:21
WHAM

I've been watching Boomtown on and off; it seemed like a decent series with some potential so I wanted to give it a chance. Yesterday's episode, "Insured by Smith & Wesson", blew the bank. It first built up the tension a bit, and just when you thought you got the episode figured out, they spun it in a completely strange direction, and then, just when you got over that shock, they spun it in a different direction. And this all told in a completely disjointed, non-linear fashion, that makes fast-forwarding through an episode impossible.

What? A TV series that actually relies on the intelligence of its viewers, and one that can still catch me completely unawares after watching Babylon 5, the one that introduced the concept of WHAM?

I'm hooked.

Wednesday, 15-Oct-03 11:15
Public, private, secret

No, I am not talking about Java access modifiers, but about this wonderful article from Danny O'Brien, who explains why the notion of privacy is bound to disappear from the online world. He discerns the notion of "public", "private" and "secret", and continues to note that:

On the net, you have public, or you have secrets. The private intermediate sphere, with its careful buffering. is shattered. E-mails are forwarded verbatim. IRC transcripts, with throwaway comments, are preserved forever. You talk to your friends online, you talk to the world.

This is why, incidentally, why people hate blogs so much. My God, people say, how can Livejournallers be so self-obsessed? Oh, Christ, is Xeni talking about LA art again? Why won't they all shut up?

One thing that Danny does not discuss about is that on-line, it is sometimes difficult (especially if you arrive to a site through Google) to discern what discussion is current and what is not. Anyone can come and read about things I've done or thought that I would not share with a new, recently acquired friend. This turns the notion of private space on its head... So permalinks could be considered harmful in that sense as well.

Yes, this weblog is my private space. No, it's not a secret. But it's not really meant to be public either. It just happens to be public. It will be a long, hard ride before we learn what can be considered private in a transparent society.

Very, very good and thought-provoking reading. (And it's all, oddly enough, thanks to Andrew Orlowski, the blog-hating reporter of The Register, who was very miffed about the FOO camp.)

Tuesday, 14-Oct-03 18:37
JSPWiki joins Debian

Yup. Just got the note from Killer, the man who has been valiantly maintaining the .deb packages.

Ahem.

JSPWiki will be available as a part of the Debian GNU/Linux distribution.

Just say "apt-get install jspwiki". The easiest installation in the world... It should be available in the "unstable" section within a week or so. I've been using Debian for years, and now I can install JSPWiki as easily as anything else I use... Err. Except that I have to bitch to myself about all the bugs.

(Can I just state, for the record, how incredibly cool this is? Woo-hoo! /me dances happily.)

Tuesday, 14-Oct-03 17:43
Ego Stroking and Geek Envy

Whee, Michael compares JSPWiki to SnipSnap. SnipSnap is one of my favourite wiki engines, outside of JSPWiki, of course. It's actually being developed by three people who are - or at least were at some point - paid to do it by the German government or something, so to get a (quick) review with so many "yes"-ses is certainly uplifting.

I'm pretty sure we can address some of those concerns quite soon =). At least comments and customizable markup (through WikiFilters) are already in CVS.

The thing that I really like about ~SnipSnap is the fact that their setup time is wonderfully fast, since they include a HTTP server...

(Via Erik, the überlinker)

Tuesday, 14-Oct-03 17:07
"Without the olives"

Today, for the first time in my life I went to a cafe and ordered "the usual, please", and got what I wanted.

I think someone should write a list of these small milestones. That way I could track my progress towards middle-agedness. You know, like a project.

Why? So that I could miss the deadline...

Monday, 13-Oct-03 18:09
Blog Babes

So, you take a bunch of naked or semi-naked, beautiful Italian women, and make them blog? I demand naked pictures of my fellow Finnish bloggers, too.

Somehow I think that meme won't stick.

(Via Don Park.)

Monday, 13-Oct-03 17:37
Hehe

I've been today called "down-to-earth rational and whacked out at the same time".

Yup. That's me.

(I wonder whether there's a medical name for it?)

Monday, 13-Oct-03 14:44
Back for the future
The past tempts us, the present confuses us, and the future frightens us. And our lives slip away, moment by moment, lost in that vast terrible inbetween.
-- Centauri Emperor and Sheridan in Babylon 5: "The Coming of Shadows"

On Sunday, I woke up at ten at the sound of the door going as the last guest from the evening left. I grabbed a painkiller and crashed back in bed. The rest of the day was spent in a comfortable numbness, watching classic 80s dance movies like Flashdance.

The movies got me into a nostalgic mood, "pining for my lost youth", and I spent a while reminiscing and thinking how my life was 15 years ago. Unfortunately the pile of dishes back home turned the nostalgia into a strange mixture of loathing, nostalgia, and self-pity. (Note to self: don't offer so much booze to your friends that they forget to offer to do the dishes.) I seasoned the pot with radio station "Sputnik" that plays Russian dance-pop to truck drivers traveling in Southern Finland, in order gain that final slice of absurdity. Suddenly, I gained a whole new insight into the wise words above...

Who needs mind-expanding drugs anyway? You can just think yourself into an altered state.

The only problem is that you get a moral hangover instead of a physical one. It's too easy to do stupid things.

Sunday, 12-Oct-03 03:24
Drunken blogging

Yup. Today (or yesterday, to be exact), I've mostly been concerned cooking to a bunch of good friends. Cooking Japanese style is fun, though it tends to take a surprising amount of time. And I am like *so* disappointed at the fact that it was impossible to find good, raw tuna anywhere in Helsinki. Boo hiss.

It is amazing how many times you have to press Backspace when you write a blog entry at this hour.

O piuöld of fource sot press backspace at all, but that text might not be so read bale after all. You know, when your are drunk, yot te d to miss the keusys sometjims.

Friday, 10-Oct-03 17:53
Support Wikipedia

Donate to Wikipedia, says Infoanarchy. Yes, sir! Right away, sir!

Wikipedia is a prime example about what a dedicated community armed with wiki technology can do. Other examples are Sensei's Library, and suomigo.net, which have both grown to be community hubs and key resources for go players.

It seems that wikis have really found their place in three areas, when looking at lists of Wikis, and the JSPWiki:WikiSites:

  1. Community support sites
  2. Project support (such as the CocoonWiki)
  3. Intranets

But from all this it is clear that a wiki needs a clearly defined purpose and a dedicated user community. Otherwise it will wither and die under the pressure from the lack of frequent gardening.

Friday, 10-Oct-03 16:08
FCC Attempts Sanity, Koreans Strike Back
Friday, 10-Oct-03 15:05
A coctail party of traffic signs

I feel like a paparazzi...

Friday, 10-Oct-03 00:11
Wiki and FOAF

This is the kinda stuff I think and do when I am tired:

You know, Wiki pages are kinda like friends to each other, since they, you know, link to each other. And kinda like... FOAF is somehow supposed to link friends together with a machine-readable description, so... why not combine these two? And add a REST-style API to the whole thing should make it very stylish.

After thirty minutes of hacking I am proud to present WikiFOAF that just returns descriptions of WikiPages from jspwiki.org as if they were people. Now you can use the FOAF explorer to FOAF JSPWiki! If you want to have the FOAF of a specific page, just add the parameter "page=<name of the page>", like http://www.jspwiki.org/wikifoaf.jsp?page=About.

And no, I have no idea why anyone would want to have a FOAF description of a WikiPage. I just wanted to do it. I guess this just means that there's now a way to ask which pages a WikiPage links to in a completely hype-compliant way without a specific API :-).

/me sits down, waiting for the inevitable cries of horror from FOAF folks. "It's a PERSON description language, not a DOCUMENT description language!"

Thursday, 09-Oct-03 23:05
Switch and techno-lust

A man opens the door and sighs. He grabs the piles and piles of paper lying on the floor: A magazine subscription, a two-day old newspaper he will never read, some junk mail, a letter or two from the bank - and last, a lone, white letter on which it stands with green, innocent letters: "Taxation Office".

That letter is saved last. It lies there, on the table, calling, waiting for an opportune moment. The man checks his email, does his laundry, makes some phone calls, watches a program on the TV. Waiting, considering.

Finally, there is no choice anymore. Reality must be faced eventually, however seductive the dream worlds are. The man reaches for the letter and slowly, methodically rips it open, right on the perforated line. His life in numbers rolls before his eyes.

"Your income... blaablaa"

"Your taxes... blaablaa"

"Tax Return/Supplemental Tax..."

The man stares at the figure for a moment. Then he calmly removes himself from the couch and walks to his computer. He enters the URL, and with trembling hands, orders himself a brand new 12" Apple Powerbook...

I really, really, really don't want to re-install Windows ever again.

Let's see how this union works out.

Thursday, 09-Oct-03 22:14
Spam me harder

OK, so Jeremy wants to do what Visa and other Finns did for free porn, but with penis enlargement.

I'm all for this. Let's all Googlefuck! Join in, link to Jeremy! Show the power of bloggers!

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(If that ain't butt-ugly, nothing is :-). Wouldn't it be cool if I started advertisements like these running on a regular basis? Can you look at it for more than five seconds without getting a headache?

Thursday, 09-Oct-03 00:00
Books... Gotta love them.

I could spend weeks here.

Today I got to visit to the "Borgå Gymnasium" - the Porvoo High School, where they have one of the oldest libraries in Finland. A wonderful place: I got to handle a 350 year old, 13 kg Bible - that's what I call a book!

A manuscript by some guy called Benjamin Franklin.
There were a couple of interesting rarities, such as original copies of the first ever books published in Finnish from 1548 (The New Testament). And, of course, some lesser known authors... :-)

Wednesday, 08-Oct-03 13:12
Not my kinda place

You know, every time I go to the Haikko mansion the trip is a catastrophy.

Every single fucking time.

The odd thing is that there is no real reason for things to go wrong here: it's in a beautiful spot, the mansion itself is nice, the food is not bad, the rooms are well equipped, and there's a nice spa, but still... The whole place is very lackluster: there's really nothing to see, the food is something you remember afterwards, the air conditioning is just noisy enough to bother me, and the architecture of the spa building reminds me of a wart on a 17-year old beauty queen's face: it kinda sticks out.

Even the internet connection here exemplifies this weird duality: there's a WLAN network (progress!), but it costs 21€/24 hours (OUCH!). They also have free tea... but it's Lipton. They've got free beer... but it's Lapin Kulta (a relatively crappy lager, which just happens to be very popular.)

Yeah. This is not the place for me. I hope todays troubles were the last ones on this trip, but I doubt it. This place and me form some sort of a disaster magnet, and my problems have now a good chance to escalate from a "very irritating, but I can tolerate this" -status to "OMG, I will never work in this country again."

Too bad I don't always get the choice not to go.

Update: I even posted this on the wrong weblog yesterday. Wow. There's just no end to my troubles.

Tuesday, 07-Oct-03 20:21
Dork

There's a story behind this, but you wouldn't believe it.

Monday, 06-Oct-03 18:31
FOAFfing

I built myself a quick FOAF description. It ain't much yet, but it's here. FOAF looks like a cool idea; let's see if it's going anywhere.

Monday, 06-Oct-03 12:12
Technorati hits 1 million mark

...so tells us dsifry:

Today is an auspicious day, Technorati is now tracking over one million weblogs. We hit 100,000 back on March 5, and 200,000 on April. We hit the 400,000 mark on June 21. Technorati is currently tracking about 7,000 new weblogs per day, which means that a new weblog is being created approximately every 12 seconds. And I know we're not catching them all.

(Via Halley's Comment.)

Of course, just in case webloggers feel too smug about themselves, Andrew Orlowski predicts that soon most of them will be dead:

The "blogosphere" will number ten million souls by the end of 2004, but almost all of them will be dead.
...
Perseus finds that the fad is most popular amongst teenage girls. More than half of the weblogs surveyed are run by teenagers and 91.1 per cent are under 30. "Blogging is many things, yet the typical blog is written by a teenage girl who uses it twice a month to update her friends and classmates on happenings in her life," the report notes.

Actually, I wouldn't wonder at all if most of the weblogs were dead next year. IMY (In My Experience) most hobbies that require active participation have a 90% loss rate at about one year, so I would give any blog about a 10% chance to survive a year.

But out of 10 million weblogs, having 1 million active weblogs with their own dedicated audiences is a very large amount of people. And that means business and visibility for weblogs. The other thing to remember is that while writing to weblogs may not be everyone's hobby - reading them surely will be. The top list bloggers will continue to gain readership, as they still are the opinion makers, movers, and shakers of their respective areas.

We ain't seen the last of the blogs yet: there are many, many people around the world baking their noodles right now, striving to find new ways to utilize blogs. Some of them are going to hit gold.

Sunday, 05-Oct-03 18:24
ICIE

Thanks to Merten I now know that my Lipson-Shiu type is ICIE: (Torturer) A sadistic type who, rather than building an evil empire (though that may be a fringe benefit), devotes their time and considerable talents to making the world as unpleasant as possible. Often found in charge of human resources or very very large software companies.

Nice. You know, it kinda fits with my earlier Vlad the Impaler -result...

(Reminder to self: stop making these dumb tests. Now, if I only could find myself...)

Sunday, 05-Oct-03 18:13
Lazy Sunday afternoon

Lazy, indeed. Can't seem to be able to get much done - I am exhausted after last week's dose of workaholicness.

I did manage to actually buy the tickets to Japan yesterday though, so I'm definitely going now. Apparently we'll be spending the two first days in Kyoto, and then the rest in Tokyo. Now we'll just need to figure out a place to stay in Kyoto; Tokyo is already ok. I would really, really like to try a traditional Japanese ryōkan, but the budget might be out of my league (40,000¥/night is a bit too much :-).

Other than dreaming about a hot furō -bathtub (with a view), I've cooked, cleaned and in general done everything except the things that I am supposed to do. Like patching a kiloton of bugs in JSPWiki. I'm a bit too tired to think analytically right now...

You know, being an open source developer is not easy. Once you release your code to the public, it becomes apparent that the better your program is, the more you have to work for it. A good program is needed and used by many, and all those people want to pull you into different directions... If I were a writer, once a book is finished, I could just drop it and move to the next one, but with software there is no closure. There's always a little thing that can be tweaked, or a feature to be added, or a bug to be fixed.

I wonder if I should start having release parties, like the big software houses do?

Friday, 03-Oct-03 19:02
Conspiracy theorists, ahoy

Disquieting experience of the day: Accidentally spotting your own name on a lone A4 printout of a blog post, forgotten in the office printer tray.

Who printed it? Why? Why did he never fetch it? What does he know?

Friday, 03-Oct-03 15:48
Licenses, schmizenses

Today's DigiToday reports (in Finnish, sorry, I'll try to make a recap here) that the Finnish High Court has decreed that the right of first sale applies to mass-market computer software, even though the software license claims otherwise. So yeah, once you buy that copy of Windows, you may legally sell it onwards.

Just as it should be. You buy it from the shop, you don't license it.

KKO katsoi, että laajaan levitykseen tarkoitettujen tietokoneohjelmien kaupassa oli tosiasiallisesti kyse ohjelman lopullisesta luovutuksesta.

Yrittäjä oli hankkinut ohjelmat kertakorvausta vastaan, eikä niiden käyttöoikeutta ollut ajallisesti rajoitettu. Ohjelmistoyhtiöt eivät voineet yksipuolisesti rajoittaa ohjelmien kauppaa ja säilyttää itsellään määräysvaltaa yksittäiseen tietokoneohjelman kappaleeseen ja sen edelleen levittämiseen.

Roughly translated: The High Court decreed that sale of mass market software constitutes a final transfer. The entrepreneur had purchased the software for a set amount of money, and the licenses were not time-limited. Software companies cannot unilaterally limit further sales and maintain control over a single instance of a computer program and its further distribution.

Of course, this means that from now on, the yearly licensing model might just arrive in the consumer market as well... :-/

(The rest of the story? A crook got nailed for selling illegal copies of some unspecified software and was slammed with our equivalent of DMCA, copyright and trademark laws, and was also charged with license breach. The guy was only convicted of copyright violation for falsifying the license documents, fraud, forgery, and a violation of marketing laws and free trade laws. The license breach didn't stick, which spells good news for the rest of us.)

Wednesday, 01-Oct-03 14:47
Traveltraveltravel, nicenicenice

OK, I'm breaking my "if you want something to happen, don't tell about it in advance" -principle and the "if you are going traveling don't announce it on the public internet, you idiot" -principle:

I'll be in Tokyo/Kyoto area, leaving on 25.10 and returning on 3.11. I look forward to some shopping :-).

I'll also take part in the London Open Go tournament in (duh) London, UK, during 27.12.2003 - 4.1.2004. Holiday sales shopping should be in full speed then: can't wait to be elbowed by an overzealous British lady diving for something I don't want, but happen to be in the way of.

If there are any of my readers (fat chance, except for the not-so-mysterious-anymore "Silakka" :-), or JSPWiki users are out there, drop me a note and we'll have a beer or something.

(These are forced vacations: a lot of my hard-earned frequent flyer points are expiring, unless I use them for something. Oh well. I am not really complaining :-)

(And to the ladies at Tiramisu: I listen to almost everything you list. So yeah, I'm one of those people whose existence you doubt :-). Just as well: my English accent has been described as a mix of a drunken Aussie and Santa Claus. So I'm half alcoholic and half fairy tale.)

Wednesday, 01-Oct-03 00:26
The way we're gonna go

Forget terrorists. Forget aliens. Forget nuclear war. Forget big rocks falling from the sky.

We're gonna be killed by high-school students, eager to show off for science fairs:

Then there was the girl who concluded that she could modify the e.coli bacterium to make it more antibiotic-resistant. She had had access to a university biology lab, where the grad students had helped her run the necessary equipment.

I asked this student why she would even want to succeed at this goal, given that we all carry that particular bacterium in our gut. She said she just wanted to know. Okay, fair enough. I asked her if she was aware that the field of biology had refused to do that exact experiment for fear that the modified bacterium would escape into the wild and endanger us all. No, she wasn't aware of that.

When I asked her what she did with the resulting genetically modified e.coli, she replied, "Well, I knew that the e.coli colonies would be kind of dangerous, so I disposed of them by mailing them to another lab." That beats dumping the stuff down the train, but it's also yet another reason not to be a postal worker.

--Bob Colwell, p.15, April 2003 issue of Computer

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