Saturday, 30-Oct-04 12:58
Nghbltf

It's 2:43 in the morning in Vancouver, i.e. nearly one in the afternoon Finnish time. I'm scared how easy the acclimatization to this time zone has been. We just played a couple of games of werewolf (Finns might know this game as "vampire" - you know, two players are werewolves/vampires, one is a seer/slayer and there's an optional healer), which turn out to be pretty fun with a really large crowd. For some reason, nobody seems to believe my happy face and always assumes I'm the werewolf. I wonder why...

Anyway, it would've been fun to join the Helsinki blogger christmas party as well, but alas, the life of a busy worker bee means sometimes you gotta sacrifice yourself to the big N. Thanks to everyone who sent me SMS messages from the party, though. :)

I like Vancouver. It's compact, wealthy, clean, and friendly. Even the beggars are rather polite. If I had to choose now where in North America to live, Vancouver would be it.

Friday, 29-Oct-04 18:36
Hello Kitty, and good night

The famous Hello Kitty has joined the blogosphere. Unfortunately the blog is in Japanese, but it contains moblog shots of Hello Kitty and her friends. Apparently it's even written by Hello Kitty herself!

(Via Joi Ito, who has a bit more information in English.)

And as a side note... I'm scared how easily I'm adjusted to the West Coast time: I slept until 5 am, woke up, and fell asleep again to wake up at 7.30. Like a normal day. It's gonna be hell when I get back. Also, we had plenty of fun yesterday, exploring the city with Dragon. The local Chinatown has some really, really wonderful stuff. I'd lose a fortune if I lived here...

Being 7000 km away from Outi is also... not so fun. It's not so much the distance (there's not much difference between 600 km and 7000 km - away is away is away if you can't just walk out of the door and find her anytime you want), but the time difference. You want to talk, but half of the time one of you is asleep. And out of the common time we have, I'm mostly engaged in meetings. You can't even really say properly good night to each other. Snif.

Thursday, 28-Oct-04 23:32
O Canada

I'm now in Vancouver. The weather simply sucks (but it ain't no different from Helsinki), but the Rocky Mountains are every time awesome when you fly over them. We Finns are proud of our unspoilt nature, but some other places around the world are pretty nifty, too.

Now, if I only understood why there is a wall-sized window in the toilet. It does create some fun moments though when you are sitting on the john and watching the traffic (yeah, third floor - people from the opposite building see quite clearly what I'm doing, where and with whom).

Wednesday, 27-Oct-04 15:22
To be silenced, or not to be silenced

There's a scary editorial piece at Truthout.org. What the fuck is going on over the pond?

It didn't get me the tickets. "Are you a Bush supporter?" I was asked. I explained that I was a registered Independent and not necessarily a Bush supporter. "Are you going to vote for Bush?" I was asked. "No," I honestly, and out of curiosity to see what would happen, replied. I was summarily told that if I wasn't planning on voting for Bush, I wasn't welcome. "John" came over to make sure I got the message. I told him I'd taken my kids to similar events (we saw Clinton and Gore in 1996) and didn't he think it was good to get my kids involved in the democratic process early? To take them to events such as these and let them make up their own minds? I guess not. He just kept repeating, in a rather intimidating way, that if I wasn't a supporter, I wasn't welcome.

And another one

After about 10 minutes of Internet research, I observed a picture beginning to develop. And, my friends, the picture isn't pretty. Yes, the silencing is happening all across America. At Presidential visits, during peace rallies, non-violent demonstrations, in high schools where kids draw anti-war pictures in art class, in small towns where people put dissenting comics on their car. All these events have resulted in visits, interrogation, and intimidation by the Secret Service. When you begin to notice the larger pattern of thought control, intimidation, and downright attack upon the very bedrock of our nation's guiding principles by the people who are sworn to uphold it, a sick feeling begins building in your gut.

And regardless of whether this particular story is an exaggeration or not, there has been a bit too much smoke lately coming from the good ol' US of A. My friends over there - do something! You're frightening the rest of the world out of their wits right now... We've seen these signs before. We know where they lead to.

(And please do read the article before you comment. Thanks to Carmen for the pointer.)

Wednesday, 27-Oct-04 12:34
Loyalty cards and what they really know of you

Viimeisellä rannalla (in Finnish) acquired the list of information that is collected from you when you use the Plussa card. It's quite impressive, including things like whether you own a cat or a dog, how old your children are, where your summer cottage is, and how you live - all connected to your social security number.

I don't have any loyalty cards (except for frequent flyer cards). I always feel uncomfortable with people prying my personal details - I like to be in control of the things that are known about me. Blogging allows me to lie as much as I want (not that I do it that often, but it's good to know the option is there) - but lying on your shop receipt is a lot more difficult (and expensive).

Luckily, in Europe we have pretty good personal information protection laws. I'd hate to think what happens if these databases that are collected about us were combined and misused. You see, corporations tend to think like psychopaths, and almost anything can be sacrificed to increase profits. (Only the well-to-do corporations can afford to be benevolent.) Including your right to privacy.

Update: Dan Gillmor touches this (and my next entry) in his new column: "Insidiously, the Bush administration has turned the corporate data mongers into partners in the dawning surveillance state. Evading even the most trivial safeguards, including federal laws protecting privacy, it buys or uses data collected by private companies that are under no such restrictions." It's a good read.

Tuesday, 26-Oct-04 18:36
Blogging to go

I've been meaning to do this a long time... Listing my favourite blogs. However, for brevity's sake, I'm just going to list some lesser known ones (to Finnish readers). You all read the popular ones anyway... Heh. You can check the other blogs I read on my bloglines.com blogroll.

First, congrats to Haltia (Finnish), who got 475 votes in the Helsinki communal elections and thus was elected as a vice delegate. It's not that I agree with her (on some things definitely not :), but most political blogs are about Big and Important Things That We Must Do To Change The World. Mirva talks about the small things, things that directly affect me and the city I live in. She's a blogger who got into politics, and not a politician who started blogging to get votes (and abandons the blog afterwards).

Myrskymurmeli (Finnish) I mentioned before. This angry and very intelligent young man bites you, if you get close. He's a new blogger, but I'm expecting a lot - it's always a pleasure to read well-written text. With pointy teeth.

Katselija (Finnish) writes intelligently on the Big Things I mentioned above. He does not write that often, but his viewpoints are well thought -out.

TumpeLo made me laugh out loud with her story on what a man can eat (Finnish). Good luck there - you will need it :)

Kallioblogi (Finnish) gives even more meaning to the place where I live in. It's a blog that feels warm and cozy, though I doubt others would feel so. But I live in Kallio (or in the near vicinity anyway). And I like toilets. We need more toilet reviews!

If you left out the Formula 1 -news, I would be proud to write Viimeisellä Rannalla (Finnish). But then again, I'm a geek, and I am interested in geeky things. :)

If the blog's tagline is "Fashion, design, science and all that stuff", how could it not be interesting? Unacosa (English) is rarely updated, but always with interesting content about things that are sort of in the peripheral view of my interest eye, but I never get to actually doing.

Forever Geek (English) is one of those geeky-nerdy type blogs that there are a million out there. But I get usually a few chuckles from the links - this is the stuff you don't see in Slashdot. Or you do see, but four days later.

And, to finish off with a really popular blog that is virtually unknown in Finland: If weird-yet-slightly-nerdy-kinda-type links are just your thing, J-Walk tends to be a good source for them. Many times a day. Many, many times. Many, many, many times.

Addendum: I nearly forgot to list Freedom to Tinker (English), Edward Felten's (yes, that Ed Felten) insightful blog into our rights to modify and tinker with the things we own. You see, a lot of people don't like you to think and create on your own, except in the sandboxes they are willing to give you. Freedom to tinker is about your rights to do whatever you like with the things that you own.

Monday, 25-Oct-04 15:19
Practical uses of smoking

I don't in general approve or understand smoking - but there's actually a very good benefit to working for a smoker: you get to have proper pauses in meetings. Every hour, or every 1.5 hours, he's "gotta go". And that gives everyone a five minute break to check on their email, walk about, stretch, talk some off-topic crap and in general be groovy (we all need to be groovy at least 15 minutes a day).

However - if everyone in your group is an epitome of healthy living habits and breathe and live on work, it's entirely possible that nobody simply remembers to schedule a break - and for some reason nobody dares to suggest a break either. And if the boss happens to have a so-called "party bladder", things get really bad.

Not that I am complaining right now. No sirree. I just had a five-minute break to spend having a meaningful conversation in the porcelain temple. All is well now. I just have these emails gathering in my Inbox, and I suspect they are planning a revolt whenever it flows over. I can see them building ladders and forging swords already...

No, I'm okay.

Really.

Sunday, 24-Oct-04 20:49
Parting is such sweet sorrow

I hate Sundays. I used to hate Mondays, but I hate Sundays now even more. Before July, Sundays were the day were you would sleep late, read the Sunday edition of the newspaper, eat something unhealthy, and in general be at ease, groovy and relaxed.

But now, Sunday is the day when we have to part again. Every Sunday, I feel my heart being wrenched out, as I realize that the moment of leaving is getting closer. In the end, you don't want to even view the clock, but still, the growing darkness outside reminds you that the absolutely final moment you have to go - or else miss the plane - is approaching unwaveringly. I start to long for her even if she's here, on the sofa, resting her head against my shoulder. I feel her warmth, and feel the empty spot in my chest. The same empty spot that used to have my heart before she took it. And it hurts. It hurts so bad.

I know this is nothing new to people reading this. I know I am whining. I know me and Outi have to come to a solution soon. But dammit - it's my blog, and my life. I get to whine here as much as I want. So there.

She made me apple pie. With vanilla sauce. I think I'll go have some.

Sunday, 24-Oct-04 02:43
Drunkn blogging

Urr. Spent a nice evening with Myrskymurmeli, one of me favorite blogs. Now feeling slightly drunken. And flatulent. Which was probably more than you really wanted to know.

And there's also a lot more happening that you really, really don't want to know... Trust me on this. Really. Gotta go now. CU around.

Friday, 22-Oct-04 16:36
Eddie!

Fantabulous! I have an odd feeling that instead of deep eye-gazing, wine, and severe hand-holding, we're going to sit on the couch and watch some stand-up comedy until our fillings fall off from all the laughing.

That is, if I had any fillings.

Friday, 22-Oct-04 11:45
Today's corporate gibberish

Early morning meeting, five persons sitting around the table. Somehow the sentence "Capturing the horizontal and vertical value models" is formed out of the creative void. "Should we include this?" someone asks.

We look at each other for a heartbeat. Then everybody erupts in laughter. "Hell no", we all say together.

There may yet be hope.

(Incidentally, today's Dilbert nails it. And in case you didn't know, you can also get it - and other comics as well - as an RSS feed.)

Thursday, 21-Oct-04 15:52
Fun test of the day...

alex
I am Alex, from "A Clockwork Orange."
Real Horrorshow.

Which Random Cult Movie Character are you?

*shrug* Makes sense. I've never been able to listen to "I'm singing in the rain" after this movie without cringing.

(Via Sinisen Kirjan Marginaali.)

Wednesday, 20-Oct-04 22:15
Idle wonderings

You know... Sometimes I wonder: do men choose the same or a different urinal every time they need to go? I mean, during a typical night out, a man has usually to go several times, and peeing in the same urinal every time has gotta become boring. I know I try to vary it every time...

Or it could be that I'm just slightly drunk. :)

Monday, 18-Oct-04 22:25
And that's when I knew I was a geek

I'm watching through the extras of the new Star Wars DVD boxed set. While most of them are, well, a bit worshipping, I've found two things of interest:

First, the old TV spots and movie trailers from 1970's... Wow. And I thought they give away the plot these days!

Second, this small quote from Peter Jackson, hidden in the end credits of a featurette:

Star Wars was the first time really that I'd had a concept that film-makers, i.e. George Lucas were shy, retiring types of people. Um, the types of kids that didn't have girlfriends and weren't picked for the sports team. And this was like me. You know, I was living thousands of miles away but I could recognize so much of myself in what I was reading about this guy who made Star Wars, George Lucas. I mean, the media were full of how shy and quiet he was. And yet, it gave all of us who felt we were very similar - it gave us a lot of hope that we could persevere and achieve the sort of things he had achieved.

Yup. I felt the same way when I saw the trilogy for the first time: The realization that you don't have to be like everyone else, that you can do what pleases you, even if that means being different. (Later on, I learned about the responsibilities and problems that come if you do follow your own path, but that's another story.)

Here's my own Star Wars secret, and my first geek experience: Kids tend to hide porn under their mattresses. I hid Star Wars magazines. I remember one article in a Finnish glossy magazine (Seura, I think?), which had an abbreviated version of the entire story, with glorious pictures. I couldn't see the film, because my parents wouldn't let me (I was too young), but I remember fantasizing about it at night. The colourful pictures swept my imagination away, and I was completely immersed in this fantasy world. I think I even invented a game about it on the second grade, and managed to talk my classmates into playing it (how, I still have no idea).

What's your first geek experience?

Sunday, 17-Oct-04 14:38
Cold?

Heh. Someone has dressed up this guy outside the Helsinki main railway station. Nice woollen sweater is a good thing, since it's getting a bit nippy out here ;)

Saturday, 16-Oct-04 14:39
General anger and an offer

Finally I managed to drag myself to see Fahrenheit 9/11. While Moore's style is preaching, and he chooses pretty liberally the facts he shows to support his agenda, and sometimes his all-american "look at this woman crying, ain't that sad" -emotionalism gets on my nerves - I can't but think that the man is right.

I am so angry now. And I also feel so powerless, looking at how the good US citizens are being led like cattle.

I know Kerry isn't much of a better choice, but that's what you get with two parties - you always get to choose between two evils, and hope you chose the lesser one.

Can I start buying votes in the US now? If you can prove to me that you vote for Kerry, and were planning to a) not to vote, or b) vote for Bush, get in contact with me, and let me hear how much money it would take to make you vote for Kerry. Only residents of republican-controlled states need to apply, of course. (I know, problem of proving your part of the transaction may be a bit of a problem, though. But if you want to me to vote someone on your behalf on the upcoming Finnish communal elections, I'd be happy to make a trade ;)

Update: I was angry when I wrote the last paragraph. To clarify my position: I really, really would like to urge every U.S. citizen to take a look at the damage the Bush administration has done to their foreign relationships - to the point that entirely rational foreign people from countries that are on very friendly terms with USA start to have dumb ideas like to offer money to get rid of the man - and consider their vote accordingly.

Wednesday, 13-Oct-04 11:01
Ewww...

Started the morning by putting deodorant on my toothbrush. Still not well, I see.

Tuesday, 12-Oct-04 19:45
Still alive - for now.

You know you haven't blogged when people start emailing you and asking if you're still alive... But yeah, the fever is slowly residing, I have sick leave until Thursday, and a hefty bunch of antibiotics. I feel nearly alive now. And my love has been here for a week - the longest we've ever spent together. And while we've both been sick, and we actually have had to live with each other for a while, with all the small things that come with that, I think I love her even more for it. We sit in the same room, less than a meter apart, and exchange instant messages over MSN and laugh. So geeky, yet fun.

Though I do have one big worry - and it's this article from The Guardian. It simply makes all the bickering, semantics, and normal blogosphere worries look paler than a frozen sick goth nerd. The world is dying, and there ain't no definitions of blogging that can change it. We bloggers bring out worries and joys for people to read, have heated arguments over words, complain, have brilliant insights, write wonderful descriptions about our lunches, ogle over naked women/men and new motherboards, discuss politics, rant over stupid things, love and hate with passion, and do all the things that humans are really, really good at doing when they want to figure themselves out - but we should never lose sight of the Really Important Matters. Navel-gazing is a healthy part of the life, but as much as some don't like it, we still are a part of the world.

So think. Really hard.

Saturday, 09-Oct-04 20:30
Spam spam spam spam no more

After the spam incident, I wrote today a keyword/pattern-based spam filter for JSPWiki. Grab it from the CVS, while it's still hot... I'm seeing some oddities with it, but that's probably because I still have 37.8°C fever. So the code quality might be a bit shaky.

I'm deploying it now on one site to see how it works, and perhaps drop it on jspwiki.org once it seems to work.

Enough twiddlitization with the computer today. Must rest now.

Friday, 08-Oct-04 22:19
Giving up on Vorbis

I got myself a nice Apple Airport Express, so now I can stream audio into my stereo (I know other possibilities exist, but I like the fact that this one also works as a portable base station). It was really easy to set up, but whenever I tried to play a song, it would play on the loudspeakers of the laptop, not the stereo set.

I tried to figure out what was wrong with it - and then I realized that ~AirTunes transmits only MP3 or AAC, not OGG. And there's no fix in sight, neither by the Ogg QT plugin or Apple.

Okay, I've had it. I have been an advocate of the Open Source Ogg Vorbis, a very high quality audio codec with big promises. But unfortunately it has just remained just that - a promise. It's virtually unsupported in portable players (Rio Karma and iRiver players excluded - which essentially makes them mail-order only). Some music software supports it, most do not. The development is slow. It's just making life a bit too difficult for someone, who just wants things to work. There's a certain limit on the time one can spend tinkering - and I want to use my tinkering time on other things.

So I'm giving up on Ogg, and re-encoding the 2GB of Ogg music back to MP3 (from the originals, of course). To get a similar quality, I'll use about 1.5x the disk space, but my life will be easier. Hard drives are cheap.

BTW, I'm also ready give up on Debian - Debian unstable still has Firefox 0.9.3, and tends to break on every other apt-get upgrade. Especially X causes premature gray hair. But that's a subject for an another time, though I'd love to hear ideas. I want to have the ease-of-use of APT (no RPM hell for me, please), and I want a distro that keeps its software more up-to-date.

Friday, 08-Oct-04 01:41
Here goes nothing...

So, okay, here's the article I promised some time ago on weblogs, and the state of Finnish blogs. In Finnish. Sorry guys.

Mikä on blogi?

Kuten jo lupasin, tässä oma, henkilökohtainen mielipiteeni siitä, mikä se blogi sitten oikeastaan on.

Blogi eli verkkoloki (engl. blog, weblog) on julkinen, säännöllisesti päivitetty, verkkosivusto, jossa uusin lisäys on nähtävissä etusivulla ylimpänä, seuraavaksi uusin toiseksi ylimpänä ja niin edelleen. Lisäksi jokaiseen yksittäiseen lisäykseen ("merkintään", engl. entry) voidaan viitata yksikäsitteisellä hyperlinkillä ("kestolinkki", engl. permalink).

Siinäpä se oikeastaan onkin.

Kyllä, tämä määritelmä tarkoittaa sitä, että esimerkiksi Agrippa, Siiveniskuja tai Hupaisaa ajankulua tyhmille lapsille eivät ole blogeja, koska ne eivät käytä blogin ulkoisia tuntomerkkejä, vaan lähinnä kolumneja tai (todellakin) päiväkirjoja. (Mikki jopa mainitseekin, ettei koe olevansa bloggaaja, vaan nimenomaan kirjoittaa päiväkirjaa). Ja kyllä, täl ...

More...

(On a personal note, I got a pretty sudden flu attack. I had the most extraordinarily boring meeting today - a meeting that in theory was interesting, but the combination of English spoken over a bad phone line, and 8pt fonts on a Powerpoint slideshow together with a flu meant that I actually had to read (very) technical documentation to stay awake. So now I'm home, sipping a nice cup of cocoa with a bit of Jameson in it. I'm in the state where I'm exhausted, but still unable to sleep. Highly annoying. But Outi is here, so I'm happy, even though thinking over three-syllable words makes my brain twitch in pain.)

Wednesday, 06-Oct-04 12:49
Pissed off at Chinese wikispam now

On suomigo.net, a wiki resource for Finnish go players, somebody had modified about ten pages by putting a lot of links to Chinese web resources and advertisements, with the following comment:

Please do not delete,I send this message only one time,in order to introduce some china website.IF you delete,I will publish every day.***************

I am from china,I want to introduce some very good chinese sites to you ,so you can find something about china cluture,people.

So that fucking moron comes to a Finnish web site, and THREATENS us that unless we keep his links (which are solely for getting a higher rating on search engines, as far as I can see) on a Finnish language web site, he'll start harassing us in the future. This is of course not an isolated case, both jspwiki.org and suomigo.net have Chinese spammers come in almost daily.

I am this >< close to banning the entire .cn domain from accessing anything on any wiki I administer. China does not need government censorship - with this kind of conduct, people will start blocking them on their own. I really have nothing against the Chinese, but if these problems become too frequent, I'm willing to throw some babies out with the bathwater.

(And no, I cannot block just the IP - all spam comes from different addresses every time.)

Please convince me of an alternate solution, or not to do it. I simply hate to do something like this, but at the moment I can't think of an alternate solution.

Monday, 04-Oct-04 10:28
An unlikely meeting

Met my neighbour this morning. Those who live in Helsinki know how unlikely it actually is. Even more unlikely, we actually started a conversation in the elevator. She asked me if I still hang in IRC, and that she had seen me on the #jspwiki channel.

"Oh? What were you doing there?"

"I was going to ask some things, as JSPWiki sucks ass."

"Really? How's that?"

So she goes on ranting how JSPWiki is inflexible: how you can't do this, and how you can't do that, and how the whole thing is so broken. I listen and patiently explain the ins and outs of wiki technology, tell her that you can do whatever layout you want by embedding HTML directly on the JSPWiki pages, you just need to turn that feature on, because it's off by default for security purposes.

Finally, just before we arrive at the metro station, she asks me: "How do you know so much about this shit?"

"I'm the lead developer of JSPWiki. About 95% of the code is written by me."

"... Oh." she says, as comprehension sinks in.

(What are the odds that your neighbour uses your software? If you aren't Linus Torvalds, that is... :-D)

Saturday, 02-Oct-04 23:55
The distance sucks

I'm lying on her bed, trying to compose a (very) lengthy blog post, she's touching up some photos we took today. It's so wonderful to be with someone so... compatible that it's almost scary. Everything just feels so natural, and you keep thinking: "this is too easy, where's the catch?"

And then I remember that I have to go away tomorrow, and remember the catch.

Friday, 01-Oct-04 13:11
Man faces 20 years of jail for saying what he thinks

From Salon Magazine:

Sept. 29, 2004 | An Army Reserve staff sergeant who last week wrote a critical analysis of the United States' prospects in Iraq now faces possible disciplinary action for disloyalty and insubordination. If charges are bought and the officer is found guilty, he could face 20 years in prison. It would be the first such disloyalty prosecution since the Vietnam War.

Land of the free, indeed. Or perhaps this is considered as revealing state secrets?

(Via Joi Ito.)

(Ja omana välikommenttinani suureen lusikkakeskusteluun tämä pikku-uutinen Japanista. Jos ei oo miestä, niin aina voi lusikoida nukella. Err. Ja Nti Ilona on koska vain tervetullut kahville seuraamaan tilannetta ihan paikan päälle. :)

Friday, 01-Oct-04 12:33
Move

Our office moved while I was away (kinda like your parents move while you're at school, but nothing like it).

Heh. After 22 years of tinkering with computers, I can still wonder why my computer does not start, only to realize I have forgotten to plug it in.

I guess that should be a lesson in something. But really, the only thing I can claim to have learned over the years is that if something does not work, check the cables first. :)


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