Tuesday, December 23

in .ro

I'm in Bucharest.

I arrived two hours ago and just has something to eat.

Highlights from the trip:
1. Discussion with the stewardess:
"Excuse me, can I take pictures on the plane?"
"No" (smile) " ... but I might not see you."

I didn't take pictures on the plane though :(

2. Upon arriving I got reminded why I visit Romania so seldom: the luggage conveyor belt was very small (Baneasa Airport) and the first forty people (or so) to pass customs gathered all around it; they didn't let anyone else get close to the conveyor belt because they were in a hurry; still, their luggage wasn't on the belt, as the belt was full with other luggage, mainly from the people not willing to push into the crowd. People near the coneyor belt had nothing to take but were unwilling to leave their places, and people far from the conveyor belt were unable to approach at all. It was a stalemate that degenerated into shouting and cursing pretty fast.

All in all I found it funny ... in a sad kind of way.

Welcome to Romania!
Good night.

Wednesday, December 10

50 mm

I received today the 50mm lens I got from eBay, and as far as first impressions go, it seems rock-solid.

I'm already impressed with the sharpness and bokeh (I'll probably post some pictures in a couple of days, once I've had the time to take it through it's paces).

Monday, December 8

Weekend

I had a full weekend.

I tried Osho's Kundalini meditation for the first time, with a group in Nicosia, lead by one of Osho's students. It was an interesting session and I learned a lot. I'm actually looking forward to my next one.

I also did some work on a soul retrieval with a friend and started clarifying some of my goals.

My schedule is starting to look busy.

Tuesday, December 2

meditation and parradox

Empty-handed I go; and behold, the spade is in my hands;
I walk on foot, and yet on the back of an ox I am riding;
When I pass over the bridge,
Lo, the water floweth not, but the bridge doth flow.


This is the gatha of Jenye, as found in An Introduction to Zen Buddhism by Daisetz Teitarō Suzuki. It is followed by an explanation into the illogical nature of Zen, that I don't care to remember right now.

What's important for me: after I understood these words, the nature of my meditation changed.

In a completely unrelated subject:
You can be happy at any time you like, but you might have to work at it.

magic

Usually, it's just light, annoyingly reaching your monitor and you can't see the screen properly.
At my current location it's easy to completely forget it though, as it doesn't even reach my screen.

Still, if you take a moment and go outside right before sunset, you see that everything is bathed by it, surrounded in beauty.

A moment of magic.

office view

Tuesday, November 25

Alice in Wonderland ... and zen

I enjoyed reading this today (because it's a perfectly good example of the rational way we make distinctions):

Zen master John Daido Loori of the Zen Mountain Monastery uses this in his teaching:

The caterpillar said, "One side will make you grow bigger and the other side will make you grow smaller"
"One side of what? The other side of what?" thought Alice to herself.
"Of the mushroom," said the caterpillar.
Alice looked at the mushroom, trying to make out which were the two sides of it, as it was perfectly round.


(taken from the wikipedia page on koans).

Monday, November 24

The Free Reiki sessions at the Body, Mind and Spirit Exhibition

We did it.

Through the weekend there was the Body, Mind and Spirit Exhibition in Nicosia.

On Saturday, we had a room for three hours, giving people free Reiki. We had chairs and people would come in and sit on them and wait.
When we finished with one person, we would move on to the next, asking a few questions, explaining what we are doing, then having a short Reiki session with them. In the end, we would talk about the experience, answer some questions, and give them some written material on what Reiki is.

At the end, I felt very tired (I think the others were too) but the sense of accomplishment was there.

I don't know how to describe it really.

My pleasure, my sense of fulfillment is usually a simple thing (do something, get satisfaction).

In comparison, this was amazing.

Five minutes before we started, somebody came and asked if they were in the right place to find out about Reiki ... and I thought 'Hey, somebody might be interested in this ... '; but the room was always full, so full that after three hours with six Reiki masters, we didn't have the time to finish with everybody.

Then, there was the fact that we had something to offer, something people wanted to receive, sometimes so much that they came back for more.

There was answering the questions, the dialogues that came out of it, the sense of accomplishment.

There was the smiles of the people receiving this, and the people not wanting it to end.

Maybe it was all of those, or something else.

Maybe it was simply Reiki.

Whatever it was though, I think it will bring a smile on my face for quite some time now.

Whatever it was, in the end, we did it.

Friday, November 14

randomness on the tubes

The most important thing I read yesterday was a small piece called Zen is Boring (spirituality).

L sent me a very interesting piece on regular expressions engine implementations (technical, with code in classic C).
Thanks L!

I also found a story on paying a bill with a spider drawing (funny).

Nike has some googles expanding the field of vision, called hindsight (weird).

Also, here's an article on improving your charisma (interesting).

And in completely unrelated news, I just found this comment in our code today:
        case WAIT_OBJECT_0:     // look ma' no brakes :-)

Tuesday, November 11

eeebuntu on Asus EEE PC 1000H

I received my eee late last evening and installed eeebuntu today. The process was relatively straightforward, once I had all the pieces.

The pieces:
- eeepc iso image (torrent)
- UNetbootin: A windows application for turning a Linux distro CD image into an installable setup to be used with a flash drive.
- A 1/2Gb USB flash drive. I used a U3 Cruzer Micro, so in order to get a bootable USB drive I had to remove the U3 smart application from it. I did that with the U3 Launchpad Remover.
- The alternate kernel image (a kernel having the eee drivers compiled within. You can get those from here, but if you download them separately (like I did), follow the instructions from here
- The software configuration. This is a script doing it's magic, after the HW support has been set. The script can be found here.

Installation:
1. Get the ISO for the eeebuntu system.
2. Download UNetbootin. Within the application, choose the second option (Diskimage), load the ISO, then plug in the USB device and click OK.
2.a. In my case, I was using a Cruzer Micro USB drive. The device is seen as a read-only CD, and it mounts an extra partition for random access. To disable this, I used the U3 Launchpad Remover from U3.com.
3. Plug the USB device into the eee PC and restart (keep pressing F2 for the boot menu), follow the ubuntu setup.

At this step, you should have a functional linux installation, that unfortunately doesn't do that much.
Congratulations!

4. Copy the specialized kernel image to the USB device and install them. This only takes a few minutes, and the instructions to do so are here. You should make sure the laptop is wired to the network for the second part (Setup the Repository). Wireless network should not yet be functional.

5. Install the SW settings. The instructions for doing so can be found here.

6. Reboot.

7. There is no step 7.

The instructions were put together based on the eeeuser forum.

Friday, November 7

zen story

A student went to his meditation teacher and said, "My meditation is horrible! I feel so distracted, or my legs ache, or I'm constantly falling asleep. It's just horrible!"

"It will pass," the teacher said matter-of-factly.

A week later, the student came back to his teacher. "My meditation is wonderful! I feel so aware, so peaceful, so alive! It's just wonderful!'

"It will pass," the teacher replied matter-of-factly.


(taken from here)

a new favorite word

I wrote about favorite words before (see cruft and Hexakosioihexekontahexaphobia).

The new word of the day is Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis. Wikipedia claims it to be the longest word in the English language, and it apparently means a lung disease caused by the inhalation of very fine silica dust causing inflammation in the lungs.

So ... can anyone make a phrase that contains this word three times?

Wednesday, November 5

The US Elections Are Over a.k.a. Pedros

In a bar in Mexico, there was a Mexican drinking Tequila (of course!). All of a sudden, he heard someone yelling from outside:

Pedros, Pedros, somebody is stealing your horse!

He dashed outside, then suddenly stopped and realized:
Hey, I don't have a horse! He went back inside and got a new glass of Tequila.

Ten minutes later, he heard another voice yelling outside:

Pedros, Pedros, somebody is robing your house!

He dashed outside again, then suddenly stopped and realized:
Hey, I don't have a house! He went back inside and got a new glass of Tequila.

Ten minutes later, he heard another voice yelling outside:

Pedros, Pedros, somebody is kidnapping your wife!

He dashed outside again, then suddenly stopped and realized:
Hey, I'm not Pedros!


So ... what does that have to do with the US elections? Nothing much ...

... except that I knew very strongly who I was going to vote for ... and I'm not American.

Damn media! :-(

Good thing it's over though.

Thursday, October 30

Utnapistim for President

So ... it seems there's a surprise move in the campaign for the president of the US.

Watch the news here.

Wednesday, October 29

bokeh

bokeh

I Got a License ...

... to kill.

Pedestrians that is.

Though, I heard that if you actually kill pedestrians, you go to jail and the license is revoked; or so the story goes anyway.

To put it in uninteresting terms, I got my driver's license today; It only took me between ten and fifteen lessons, almost an accident, and stressing the poor instructor out.

Today, it took from twelve PM to five PM, driving through the town, first with the instructor, then with the examiner.

Pedestrians BEWARE!
... of the utnapistim

Monday, October 27

US Democracy is ... Not a Democracy

Papa Stalin said it doesn't matter who votes, it matters who counts the votes (or something like that).

This guy gives court testimony under oath that the US voting machines are rigged.

How comes this is not front page news?

Friday, October 24

on Humanitary Calls ... Through Email

Today I got an email from a good friend of mine, asking to forward an email to three persons, the idea being that for each forward, AOL and ZDNET will pay .39$. The description of this email is here.

Since this happens from time to time - I still remember the outraged email I received about bonsai kittens asking to protest in order to stop the practice - I decided to write a short ... piece of advice(?) on how to forward emails like that.

The first thing to know about these emails is that most of them are hoaxes.

I'm not saying all of them are false, because I've also gotten a genuine one, from a friend (also about a little girl in need of a transplant).

Still, forwarding hoax emails does nothing good: it is lowering goodwill for genuine calls for help and getting your address into the wild (don't be surprised if you start getting spam shortly after forwarding).

When you want to forward an email like this, follow the following steps:
- first, take a phrase from the original email and search it on google. The phrase should be unique enough that you don't get results for something else (in my case I took Just for this morning, I am going to smile when I see your face).
- second, open the first few results: there are websites gathering chain-letters and certifying their truth value (like truthorfiction and breakthechain).

If the message proves to be a genuine call for help, when forwarding it, send the links you found relevant also, and explain why you think it's not a hoax.

If the message proves to be a hoax, send a reply to the sender with references and explain why you think it's a hoax.

This was my contribution to the bettering of the internet today.
Enjoy!

Monday, October 20

Gutei's finger

Gutei raised his finger whenever he was asked a question about Zen. A boy attendant began to imitate him in this way. When anyone asked the boy what his master had preached about, the boy would raise his finger.

Gutei heard about the boy's mischief. He seized him and cut off his finger. The boy cried and ran away. Gutei called and stopped him. When the boy turned his head to Gutei, Gutei raised up his own finger. In that instant the boy was enlightened.

When Gutei was about to pass from this world he gathered his monks around him. `I attained my finger-Zen,' he said, `from my teacher Tenryu, and in my whole life I could not exhaust it.' Then he passed away.

Mumon's comment: Enlightenment, which Gutei and the boy attained, has nothing to do with a finger. If anyone clings to a finger, Tenyru will be so disappointed that he will annihilate Gutei, the boy and the clinger all together.

Gutei cheapens the teaching of Tenyru,
Emancipating the boy with a knife.
Compared to the Chinese god who pushed aside a mountain with one hand
Old Gutei is a poor imitator.

(Koan from The Gateless Gate, by Mumon)


My comment: What is pushing a mountain with one hand compared with Gutei's finger?

this morning ... on reddit

There are a few things I found on reddit today that I found cool ... or funny (or whatever), so I thought I'd share:
The most dangerous person on earth
Two logical fallacies to avoid
Rickrolled cake

I'd put some more, but my code just finished compiling :-\

Thursday, October 16

Paranoid Scenario (a.k.a. nineteeneightyfour)

It seems to me that in UK, it's enough to have an electronic storage device (like a cellphone, camera, USB flash-drive or computer) for the police to be able to arrest you and throw you in jail, for two to five years.

Let me explain that in detail:

First, the UK appeal court decided that if the police ask you for your encryption key, you have to provide it (That is, not having it is not an excuse).

Second, they could always ask for the key to decrypt your TrueCrypt partition. (TrueCrypt allows you to hide information in seemingly unoccupied data of the storage device, in such a way that no traces remain that data was ever there).

Third, good luck explaining that nothing is actually hidden there (that the seemingly random data in unoccupied space is actually random data in the unoccupied space); remember, not providing the (non-existent) key doesn't get you off the hook.

I hope I can ascribe this scenario to incompetence; the alternative (malice) makes me shiver.

Later edit: I can also ascribe this scenario to paranoia methinks ... :-\

Friday, October 10

new year in Romania

So, it seems we'll be staying in Romania until right after New Year. On the second day of the new year we'll take a boat(*) towards Western Europe, to go skying.

It feels like plans started to take shape finally.

I just finalized the holiday tickets today, and I get the feeling we'll have to start looking for shelter for the new year's night.


-----
(*) - Well ... maybe not a boat

Tuesday, October 7

how to get the girl

Warning: Stick characters were harmed during the creation of this video.



Got her good!

(via FP)

Monday, October 6

I want to become a shaman

So ... I started with Shamanism. It's an interesting path, with interesting tools and a whole world to explore.

Last weekend we did a shamanic workshop in Tochni village, where we learned how to contact the ancestors and establish a link with them. It was a thrilling weekend, full of very interesting experiences, and I am left with a rich experience and some doubts (yes, they are still there).

This week we did a course in soul retrieval. Some things got healed, some were brought to the surface and we were left with lots of self-work to do, with homework.

As such, I wanted to get it into my head that I became a shaman. Then, I found out what a shaman actually does, and I'm far far away from that ...

I'd like to become one though ... someday ...

The Job

teardrop

teardrop

Sunday, October 5

Clinging to Pain

The mechanism that makes you pissed at the world is the following:

First, something happens - not necessarily bad, but enough to affect you somehow: stop you from enjoying yourself, keep you from what you want, annoying you, whatever. Either way, let us call the effect it produces in you, minor annoyance, or temporary pain.

Second, you (you unconscious mind mostly) creates a story around that. Something along the lines of "I never get to enjoy what I want!"

Third, when the same event happens again, the story kicks in and you cling to your temporary pain. You actually hold on to it, letting it block you, hold you back from the present moment.

So yeah, this is the mechanism ... and if you're upset remember that what you're looking at is actually You, holding on to pain!

It's an example of masochism.

I just wanted to write it somewhere so I'll remember my sudden ... understanding?

The internet seemed like a good place.

Sunday, September 28

backlog

I finally took the time to go over my photography backlog ...

blackberry flowers

Supper time ...

M&D

Getting Dark

tree on the edge

Thursday, September 25

Wednesday, September 24

Last day in Budapest ...

... Hotel Budapest, that is.

We're still going in office today, still working, but today evening we'll be on the plane back to Cyprus.

It's been nice (with all the tension that being with customers usually brings forth for me): I've actually managed to squeeze some hours of light for myself and took some squirell pictures (of all things).

I will try to process them and post them online in the next few days.

Now, I'm waiting for J to come downstairs, for checout. My luggage is near me (well, my backpack and camera bag), in the hotel lobby, as I'm writing this.

The hotel was very nice and I had the opportunity to enjoy some "bad weather" that I started missing while in Cyprus; actually, it was enough that I no longer miss it :-\.

Other impressions ... other impressions ... the food is similar enough to Romania that it got me to miss it. It's weird: I'm not a patriot in any sense to speak of, but I got a sense of home here that I don't usually get when going in Romania: the climate is similar, the food is ... almost the same, and the air smells like rain; on the other hand, the people seem more open than in Romania. Maybe that's why I enjoyed myself (I find the people I usually meet on the streets in Romania to be usually tense, not smile enough and always focusing on the empty side of the glass).

All that aside, I can't wait to get back to Limassol.

Monday, September 22

On Mind and Suffering

Most human suffering comes from being trapped in the jail of the mind. We are confused by the map and can't find the territory. Like Alzheimer's sufferers, our brains missidentify our surroundings and we become lost and confused. We have concepts that don't fit reality and reality that doesn't fit our concepts. We get further into the soup by trying to explain why the pieces don't fit. Then we make matters worse by trying to get ourselves and others to straighten up and fit in. We end by telling some kind of story that builds a case for ourselves, and trying to put on our best face so we can convince others we are the model for what fits, good and not bad, right and not wrong, capable, adequate to the task and so on.

Brad Blanton, Practicing Radical Honesty

Friday, September 19

traveling again

Well ... I'm traveling again. Tonight I'll be on my way to another country, carrying a ton of hardware with me, to give to a client.

On the good side, I'll be taking my camera along, I'll have a pool in the hotel, and it's a new country to see.

On the ... other side, I might not have time to enjoy the hotel, no time to take pictures and probably not enough time to see the county.

Thursday, September 18

Tuesday, September 9

thinker vs. dreamer

When it comes to knowledge, there are two paths you can take: the one created in ancient Greece, and the one developed in ancient India. That's it. The rest of them, are either derived systems, or similar in nature to one or the other.

The Ancient Greece path to knowledge is the path of the thinker. It is that of logic and measurement, of deduction and step-by-step reasoning. It is about creating a cohesive mental model of the world and "running simulations" inside that model, then, adjusting the model (and deepening understanding).

The Indian school, is that of intuitive knowledge, the path of the dreamer. It is about contemplation and visualization, about looking at things without taking them apart, about sudden flashes of understanding, being in the now; about seeing the flow without interrupting the flow, about dismissing all mental simulations and seeing the world as it really is.

The two schools correspond to the types of knowledge controlled by the two hemispheres of the brain: you have the left-side of the brain, the logical side, and the right side, the intuitive one.

For us Westerners, it's difficult to grasp the oriental path, as our entire education process skips over the capabilities of the right side of the brain. When taught, you are given information, dates, numbers, sentences, the how-to of doing things, methods and rationales.

The intuitive side is completely ignored. You will have a chance to develop your intuitive side if you're arts-oriented as a career, but even then, intuition and intuitive knowledge is not explored as a path to understanding, but merely develops as a side effect.

More than that, some right-sided brain activities are seldom spoken of in polite company. You will get one reaction if you speak of the scientific process and a completely different reaction if you speak of the state of inner peace obtained through deep meditation; if you get to claim that this clearness of mind brings you closer to reality, depending on your audience, you might even find yourself in trouble.

I believe it is very difficult for us ("us" meaning westerners) to understand how far the intuitive mind can go; it is very easy to state that "well ... you can tell if your significant other is cheating on you", or to generalize this kind of statement to affirmations like "intuition is just the mind coming to a conclusion without being consciously aware of all the clues it has available". Unfortunately, that just a rationalization of intuition, and as far as understanding goes, it just scratches the surface.

To understand how deep the intuitive mind can go, one has to actually go with it. We don't do that though. We keep shunning it, dismissing it, even though clues to the abilities of the intuitive mind are there.

Out of the top of my head:

Wade Davis spoke of a people in the Amazon rain-forest, that were locating particular plants, "because the plants told them where they were". We have no idea what that means, but rush to consider such people "primitives".

Meditation has noticeable effects in people suffering from lots of things, from ADHD to epilepsy. It also has effects on attention span, and attention distribution and is among the most useful tools in reducing stress. Efforts to understand what is happening in meditation are being made, but it's a fringe effort, virtually unknown. Meanwhile, the stigma is there.

To pull an Argumentum ad Auctoritatem, here's a quote:

The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.

Albert Einstein


That's all I had to say about it.

For now.

I'll probably say more about it, later.

Monday, September 8

on drm aka spore failed

I've read all kinds of rants online about Digital Rights Management, or DRM for short. Two things I got impressed about regarding this, were a slashdot signature (that said DRM is managing your digital rights in the same way a jail manages your freedom) and the idea that DRM is basically an anti-feature (concept best explained here).
More than that, vendors endorsing it risk burning themselves by quietly selling DRM-embedded products, as potential customers automatically vote against it, with their wallets. You can bet your customers will not make an informed decision, but that only works for short-term gains, as customers have a long memory.

Today it's the first time I've seen an expression of the second part of that, in the amazon comments page for the game Spore; Spore was a much awaited game, promising the kind of game-play change brought forth by Black & White or Doom. Unfortunately, it comes with a DRM saying the game is not yours; you pay 50$ for it, then are allowed to reinstall it three times, before they pull the plug on you.

In short, you RENT it for up to three uses, for 50$. to give a comparison term, I bought The Orange Box online, through Steam, for less. That comprised three games, all of them excellent, that I'm still enjoying. More than that, I've reinstalled my system a few times, and whenever I reinstall Steam, the games are available to me (and already payed for).

On Amazon's page for the game, all comments I've read state clearly that paying 50$ for basically renting the game is not worth it, especially when you have no control over the renting agreement.

There may be comments I haven't read on the site, but still, the message is pretty clear:

EA, stop treating potential customers as pirates!

First, you will loose sales.

Second, locks are there to keep honest people out. Using the DRM conditions you use, is just bringing pain to potential customers.

If you really want to use an online distribution platform, for heaven's sake, use Steam (or something similar).

Third, if you're hell-bent on renting the game instead of selling it, state so clearly on the box.

I'm tired ranting ... back to work :)

Tuesday, August 26

the same

Each perception is unique and we often perceive others through the prism of their projected qualities and defects.

That is, we have a (more or less) clear idea of things we like and don't like, and use it to look at other people, through it. We don't see what others are, just the things we admire in ourselves - reflected in them, and things we are afraid to admire in ourselves - reflected from them back to us. We call these qualities and defects, and the process of doing so, is usually called judgment.

I've been struggling with this as of late, as there is one person that causes a somewhat strong reaction in me. That is, there is one person I keep having a mental dialog with, one person I keep seeing as twisted, one person I cannot bring myself to accept, to let them be.

I've been trying to stop this, repeatedly with little or no success, as (in the abstract) I realize that nobody can be that evil;

I've told myself for a while now, that any issues I have with others, I have with myself, that any conflict I have with another, I must first deal with within myself. yet this only lead me on a fast road, to nowhere.

Then, yesterday I realized that there is no fundamental difference between us. He's not stronger, cannot dominate, cannot impose, cannot lie, cannot give me my reality, unless I allow him to: whatever he does I can undo, whatever view he has is his view and not mine, whatever power he has I also have.
On the other side, whatever quality I have he also does, whatever deeply-human issue I struggle with he also encountered, or if he didn't he will. Just give it time.

I was just demonizing him somehow.

In the end, we just deal with it differently and that's all there is to it.

We are all the same.

Monday, August 25

100 years forecast



I found this linked on reddit and thought it humorous (if maybe plausible). If someone wants credit for it, drop a comment.

Monday, August 18

through the weekend

Some impressions from the weekend:
- it's easy to enter the Alpha and Theta frequency bands of the brain;
- extra-sensory perceptions use the right side of the brain; as such, you cannot look for (worded) information while in a trance (doing that usually yields false information - things from your subconscious); instead look for sensory perceptions: taste, images, smell, noise and so on;
- it's nice to take a bath in the sea in the evening;
- you can use subtle, unconscious changes in your body's behavior to get answers you don't consciously have; a pendulum works by exploiting this.
- visualization can prepare you for facing a new situation and preparing to go through it, almost as well as going through it for practice. This is one of the roles dreaming fulfills.
- it's easy to analyze the symbols in your own dreams, but that interpretation doesn't apply well to others.
- if you do too many things through the weekend, you miss the opportunity to rest.

Tuesday, August 12

running

running

from the beach party

Two pictures I managed to (somewhat) salvage, from the beach party with A - the rest of them came out completely unusable :(

beach party

beach party(2)

Friday, August 8

Are we measuring time, or defining it?

On the morning of the first of January of this year, around five thirty AM to be more precise, I was on my way home, from the New Year's party, when it struck me how artificial the delimitation of days is and how this perception breaks the actual continuity of our existence (it's a perception I have relatively often, when I remain awake through night fall and am not terribly busy with something specific).

I wrote this thought down, and came back to it from time to time. Nowadays (that is, after thinking about it some more), I see a clear distinction between the natural delimitation, a delimitation that doesn't break continuity (like light and shadow cast by the Sun) and the artificial delimitations we all make: instead of seeing our continuous existence, "flowing" from one "present moment" to the next "present moment", we see ourselves having a discrete existence, composed of different episodes, disconnected, discontinuous.

Instead of seeing the continuity, we see "day", "week", "Monday", "last year", "during lunch break", "when I exited the office building last evening", et caetera.

It's a useful abstraction, enabling everything from business contracts to most technology, to weekend plans, to cookie recipes.

It's still an abstraction though, and as useful as it is, it can be equally useful to look behind it.

When you try switching back from a discrete perception to a continuous one (that is, if you actually do try), you start seeing lots of other illusions you cling to, constructs relying of other constructs, things we all accept as "in the nature of things" ...

Lets take age as an example.
We have a minimal age for legally drinking, you can be too old or too young to behave in a certain way and your rights vary depending on what age-group you happen to find yourself in.

Age as a measure though, is not telling you something specific about a person. If anything, it's actually telling you how many times the Earth rotated around the Sun, since that person was born. Thus, age is an affirmation about the Earth's movement, giving that person's existence as a reference point, and not an affirmation about that person itself.

Further more, it seems that time itself is an illusion.
Clocks don't measure time; they measure themselves.
        hairy university professor with young girlfriend, The Man from Earth


To that regard, I found an interesting article on the nature of time itself, that directed my thoughts to a different perspective: the article argued that time, in a scientific context, cannot be perceived as an orthogonal dimension but is in fact, always expressing a measure of movement (one second being, for example defined as the duration of 9,192,631,770 periods of the radiation corresponding to the transition between the two hyperfine levels of the ground state of the caesium 133 atom).

It's an interesting read, if you have the time for it (pun intended).

So in the end, do we measure time, or define it and cling to our definition?

Wednesday, August 6

Randy Pausch's Last Discourse

So ... the guy knew he was going to die and came here for talking about childhood dreams.

Absolutely inspiring.

Monday, August 4

Friday, July 25

in office again

Well ... I'm in office again, on antibiotics. The day before yesterday I started getting a fever, and I left for home around three o'clock.

I ended up sleeping the day away (well ... that and drinking water, sweating and doing Reiki on myself), then S came, saw me, became very worried (sorry about that) and took me to a doctor.

I got shots with antibiotics and some anti-inflammatory serum (which didn't hurt, but I still dislike syringes) and by the time I got home, my fever was down, along with my shivers.

I spent yesterday at home, taking it easy (that is, I slept some, rested a lot, took pills and sweated some more) then went to W in the late evening to talk about Saturday.

Now, I'm in the office again, compiling stuff.

Monday, July 21

Eventfull Saturday :(

Ogün and Abdullah died on our dive, on Saturday.

For me and S, it had started as a normal weekend; we had driven to the northern part of Cyprus, looking forward to a weekend in camping, some diving, and maybe a bit of sunbathing.

We arrived on the beach around eleven after hooking up with A, in a small village West of Kyrenia, waiting to get in the water.

An hour or so later, we had gotten our gear set up and were getting our gear on the boat, all eight of us. We were diving 'The Paradise', a dive-site for Advanced Open Water divers; The plan was to stay around 25 meters until we got to a pressure of minimum 100bars, then turn back, and go back to the starting point, on the current.

As I would find out later, fifteen minutes into the dive or so, one of the guys panicked and bolted to the surface, with the instructor and his diving buddy going after him.

I'm not sure what happened next; A. said that, by the time he got to the surface, the instructor was doing CPR on the guy and that at some point, he saw the other guy, dropping like a stone, towards the bottom. I understand the group leader went to the deep after him, with no bottom time left on his side (he ended up in the hyperbaric chamber for this, but I understand that he fully recovered).

On our side, at some point I noticed that there were only four of us left; I was completely narked, as were the other guys, so nothing seemed strange to me about it (I was watching S' depth control at the time :( ).

I made sure we started ascending properly, checked the safety-stop counter so we made our ascent by the book, then broke surface, to find that no-one was waiting for us at the exit point.

The guys' English was a bit broken, and I was still in the dive's afterglow, so it was some good minutes in the water until I understood that something bad had actually happened.

At first, I understood that someone had panicked and the instructor took him to the surface; then, I heard A. saying telling about two dead divers, and I thought he was telling us a story (it was too surreal to even understand that he was talking about the current dive).

Some minutes later, our dive leader surfaced; it turns out he went back down to finish his decompression -- I think. We started going towards the shore in a subdued mood.

As we neared the shore, I expected to see some guys asking questions, and maybe an ambulance or two.
Instead, we got on the shore to find the two bodies on the sand, covered in dark-blue towels, and people moving all around them.

We went on the shore, carried the equipment to the dive centre, thrn stood there an hour or so, not knowing what to do or say.

After that, we went with A on the harbor, walking and chatting this and that. My guess is, that we were trying to put some distance between what happened and us.

Ogün and Abdullah died on our dive, on Saturday.

I feel like writing something else, but nothing comes to mind :(

Thursday, July 17

Windows doesn't suck; it lies!

So, yesterday I got myself a new HDD, for extra storage space, at home. I installed it with no problems, then booted Vista (for the more familiar interface) and attempted to format it using FAT32.

Apparently though, 150Gb is way too much for a FAT32 partition and Vista only allowed me to format using NTFS.

I would respect that it didn't allow me to perform an invalid formatting, that would have ruined my new hard-drive, except it isn't so: I booted under Linux and was able to format the partitions with no problems whatsoever.

It turns out that windows is simply lying to you, so that you'd be forced to use a proprietary partition format (leading to platform lock-in) :(
At least, that's the only conclusion I could come up with.

In this case however, all they managed was make me give another vote to Linux.

Friday, July 11

disadvantages of an elite education

The essay is about how elite schools, subtly sacrifice an elite education, in the name of "success at all costs" (among other things).

What happens when busyness and sociability leave no room for solitude? The ability to engage in introspection, I put it to my students that day, is the essential precondition for living an intellectual life, and the essential precondition for introspection is solitude. They took this in for a second, and then one of them said, with a dawning sense of self-awareness, “So are you saying that we’re all just, like, really excellent sheep?” Well, I don’t know. But I do know that the life of the mind is lived one mind at a time: one solitary, skeptical, resistant mind at a time. The best place to cultivate it is not within an educational system whose real purpose is to reproduce the class system.


The essay, written by William Deresiewicz is hosted on The American Scholar. It's an interesting read, to say the least.

Hyakujo's Fox

Once when Hyakujo delivered some Zen lectures an old man attended them, unseen by the monks. At the end of each talk when the monks left so did he. But one day he remained after the had gone, and Hyakujo asked him: `Who are you?'

The old man replied: `I am not a human being, but I was a human being when the Kashapa Buddha preached in this world. I was a Zen master and lived on this mountain. At that time one of my students asked me whether the enlightened man is subject to the law of causation. I answered him: "The enlightened man is not subject to the law of causation." For this answer evidencing a clinging to absoluteness I became a fox for five hundred rebirths, and I am still a fox. Will you save me from this condition with your Zen words and let me get out of a fox's body? Now may I ask you: Is the enlightened man subject to the law of causation?'

Hyakujo said: `The enlightened man is one with the law of causation.'

At the words of Hyakujo the old man was enlightened. `I am emancipated,' he said, paying homage with a deep bow. `I am no more a fox, but I have to leave my body in my dwelling place behind this mountain. Please perform my funeral as a monk.' The he disappeared.

The next day Hyakujo gave an order through the chief monk to prepare to attend the funeral of a monk. `No one was sick in the infirmary,' wondered the monks. `What does our teacher mean?'

After dinner Hyakujo led the monks out and around the mountain. In a cave, with his staff he poked out the corpse of an old fox and then performed the ceremony of cremation.

That evening Hyakujo gave a talk to the monks and told this story about the law of causation.

Obaku, upon hearing this story, asked Hyakujo: `I understand that a long time ago because a certain person gave a wrong Zen answer he became a fox for five hundred rebirths. Now I was to ask: If some modern master is asked many questions, and he always gives the right answer, what will become of him?'

Hyakujo said: `You come here near me and I will tell you.'

Obaku went near Hyakujo and slapped the teacher's face with this hand, for he knew this was the answer his teacher intended to give him.

Hyakujo clapped his hands and laughed at the discernment. `I thought a Persian had a red beard,' he said, `and now I know a Persian who has a red beard.'

Mumon's comment: `The enlightened man is not subject.' How can this answer make the monk a fox?

`The enlightened man is at one with the law of causation.' How can this answer make the fox emancipated?

To understand clearly one has to have just one eye.

Controlled or not controlled?
The same dice shows two faces.
Not controlled or controlled,
Both are a grievous error.



(Koan from The Gateless Gate, by Mumon)


My comment: Close one eye, you still have two. Remove one eye, and you have a functional eye and a missing one. You still have two.

Mumon is playing a dangerous game.

on self-respect

You can search the whole universe and not find a single being more worthy of love than yourself. Since each and every person is so precious to themselves,

Let the self-respecting harm no other being.
Buddha


Thanks, D.

Monday, July 7

zen

Perhaps one of the reasons for this silence is that you have to know how to read the music. For instance, the scientific article may say, "The radioactive phosphorus content of the cerebrum of the rat decreases to one-half in a period of two weeks." Now what does that mean?

It means that phosphorus that is in the brain of a rat -- and also in mine, and yours -- is not the same phosphorus as it was two weeks ago. It means the atoms that are in the brain are being replaced: the ones that were there before have gone away.

So what is this mind of ours: what are these atoms with consciousness? Last week's potatoes! They now can remember what was going on in my mind a year ago -- a mind which has long ago been replaced.

To note that the thing I call my individuality is only a pattern or dance, that is what it means when one discovers how long it takes for the atoms of the brain to be replaced by other atoms. The atoms come into my brain, dance a dance, and then go out -- there are always new atoms, but always doing the same dance, remembering what the dance was yesterday.

Richard Feynman, The Value of Science


So then, Who are you?

Buddhist proverb

To every man is given the key to the gates of heaven; the same key opens the gates of hell.


Unfortunately, it comes with no instructions.

Saturday, June 28

We Must Act Now!
... or must we?

Michael Crichton is a writer. He wrote Jurassic Park and Twister (among lots of others). He's not an ecologist, and nor is he an environmentalist. Still, he brings one of the sanest counter-arguments I've ever seen to the "Save the Planet" attitudes (in short, "stop thinking we understand what we're doing").

If you believe that the fact he's not working in these fields is the most important issue here, feel free to look up argumentum ad hominem.

Friday, June 27

incredible kung fu ...

... or actually, some prestidigitation.



Close Up Magic Trick of Shaolin Kung Fu Finger (Revealed) - video powered by Metacafe


Taken from here.

ooops! did I break del.icio.us?

So ... I've been learning from Collective Intelligence ... and this morning I made a script to get links from del.icio.us, score their top users in regards to how similar their tastes are to mine, then recommend me links they preferred, that I haven't bookmarked ...

In short, it's a recommendation system (yeah ... buy the book!).

Either way, I omitted the time.sleep(4) between failed requests to the del.icio.us api and I ... kind of started getting this:


danone@utnapistix:~/work/python/CollectiveIntelligence$ python deliciousrec.py
Traceback (most recent call last):
  File "deliciousrec.py", line 51, in
    del_data=buildPostersDict(<tag>, <user>)
  File "deliciousrec.py", line 43, in buildPostersDict
    users_dict=initializeUserDict(tag)
  File "deliciousrec.py", line 8, in initializeUserDict
    for popular in get_popular(tag=tag)[0:count]:
  File "/usr/lib/python2.5/site-packages/pydelicious.py", line 786, in get_popular
    return getrss(tag = tag, popular = 1)
  File "/usr/lib/python2.5/site-packages/pydelicious.py", line 774, in getrss
    return dlcs_rss_request(tag=tag, popular=popular, user=user, url=url)
  File "/usr/lib/python2.5/site-packages/pydelicious.py", line 414, in dlcs_rss_request
    rss = http_request(url).read()
  File "/usr/lib/python2.5/site-packages/pydelicious.py", line 261, in http_request
    raise PyDeliciousException, "%s" % e
pydelicious.PyDeliciousException: HTTP Error 503: Service Temporarily Unavailable


Del.icio.us guys, if it was me that caused a denial of service on your website, I'm sorry!

Thursday, June 26

Joshu's Dog

A monk asked Joshu, a Chinese Zen master: `Has a dog Buddha-nature or not?'

Joshu answered: 'Mu.' [Mu is the negative symbol in Chinese, meaning `No-thing' or 'Nay'.]

Mumon's comments: To realize Zen one has to pass through the barrier of the patriachs. Enlightenment always comes after the road of thinking is blocked. If you do not pass the barrier of the patriachs or if your thinking road is not blocked, whatever you think, whatever you do, is like a tangling ghost. You may ask: What is a barrier of a patriach? This one word, Mu, is it.

This is the barrier of Zen. If you pass through it you will see Joshu face to face. Then you can work hand in hand with the whole line of patriachs. Is this not a pleasant thing to do?

If you want to pass this barrier, you must work through every bone in your body, through ever pore in your skin, filled with this question: What is Mu? and carry it day and night. Do not believe it is the common negative symbol meaning nothing. It is not nothingness, the opposite of existence. If you really want to pass this barrier, you should feel like drinking a hot iron ball that you can neither swallor nor spit out.

Then your previous lesser knowledge disappears. As a fruit ripening in season, your subjectivity and objectivity naturally become one. It is like a dumb man who has had a dream. He knows about it but cannot tell it.

When he enters this condition his ego-shell is crushed and he can shake the heaven and move the earth. He is like a great warrior with a sharp sword. If a Buddha stands in his way, he will cut him down; if a patriach offers him any obstacle, he will kill him; and he will be free in this way of birth and death. He can enter any world as if it were his own playground. I will tell you how to do this with this koan:

Just concentrate your whole energy into this Mu, and do not allow any discontinuation. When you enter this Mu and there is no discontinuation, your attainment will be as a candle burning and illuminating the whole universe.

Has a dog Buddha-nature?
This is the most serious question of all.
If you say yes or no,
You lose your own Buddha-nature.


(Koan from The Gateless Gate, by Mumon)


So ... what is nothing?

Monday, June 23

the tao circle ... of defects

To become whole, accept your defects.
When you accept your defects, you then have none.
Still, if you think you have no defects, you are not whole.

Let me expand that ...

As you evolve, you get the (somewhat justified) feeling you can do more. You also get the feeling that you're better than before, superior somehow (which in turn is not justified).

Then, you start telling yourself you're a new person, and forget that all the problems you've been having are actually still there, and in the end, you become ... infatuated (?) with yourself.

Or, of course, you can stop all that, by simply remembering your 'darkness', remembering that you still bring all your defects and problems, that in the end, you're nothing special.

So, you have to, on one side accept yourself as you are ("dark side" and all) and see yourself as both "dark" and "light" at the same time.

I guess that's, in the end, the meaning of the tao circle.

Thursday, June 19

code_swarm - Python

This is a visualization of the commit history of python:


code_swarm - Python from Michael Ogawa on Vimeo.

Pretty spectacular!

newest episode: it's the actions of "some soldiers"

Until now, it wasn't there;

It seems it was there, just ... it was the actions of "some soldiers" ...

Sad ... sad ...

Wednesday, June 18

A Philosopher Asks Buddha

A philosopher asked Buddha: `Without words, without the wordless, will you you tell me truth?'

The Buddha kept silence.

The philosopher bowed and thanked the Buddha, saying: `With your loving kindness I have cleared away my delusions and entered the true path.'

After the philosopher had gone, Ananda asked the Buddha what he had attained.

The Buddha replied, `A good horse runs even at the shadow of the whip.'

Mumon's Comment: Ananda was the disciple of the Buddha. Even so, his opinion did not surpass that of outsiders. I want to ask you monks: How much difference is there between disciples and outsiders?

To tread the sharp edge of a sword
To run on smooth-frozen ice,
One needs no footsteps to follow.
Walk over the cliffs with hands free.


(Koan from The Gateless Gate, by Mumon)


Mumon is leading you astray on this one. The outsiders, what are they outside of?

nikon bag

nikon bag
taken in very low light, then converted to BW using google picasa

sleepless at four thirty

It's amazing how the mind works.

I decided I'd sleep at home tonight, as I had some stuff to do (I have to prepare some materials for my first Reiki 1 initiation).

As a result, my mind's been active all night, going back and fro through meditations, almost-speeches (and I'm not that good as to not be boring) and imaginary conversations.

I know it's simple, and I'm not sure why I complicated it so, but I decided that, since I couldn't sleep, I'd start actually working on those materials and get them off my mind.

Also, since I was actually up at four thirty, I caught the pre-dawn light outside ...
four-thirty in the morning

Saturday, June 14

zen

The man pulling radishes,
Pointed the way
With a radish.
Haiku by Issa


Few people believe their
Inherent mind is Buddha.
Most will not take this seriously,
And therefore are cramped.
They are wrapped up in illusions, cravings,
Resentments, and other afflictions,
All because they love the cave of ignorance.
Fenyang

The most important thing is to find out
what is the most important thing.
Shunryu Suzuki


Those who see worldly life as an obstacle to Dharma
see no Dharma in everyday actions.
They have not yet discovered that
there are no everyday actions outside of Dharma.
Dogen

My comment:
My friend said all actions
redefine self.
Same, same.
'This is a reckoning, Mistress Weatherwax,' Tiffany added.[...]And Granny Weatherwax smiled, as if she'd done all that was expected of her.
'Ha! Is it now?' she said. Very well. Come and see me again before you go, and we'll see what you may take back with you.'

Tiffany asking how to take pain away with her hands, Terry Pratchett, Wintersmith


Thus is the true nature of the master: the master never gives, not as such; A master just is. Receiving is then, something taking place within the student, not the master.

Wednesday, June 11

Saturday, June 7

first initiation

Today, was the first time I gave someone a Reiki (2) initiation. It was an interesting experience, and I was both very calm and very excited at the same time (before today, I didn't think you could combine these two emotions at the same time).

Have a nice weekend everybody.

Tuesday, June 3

magnetic fields

Apparenlty, scientists at NASA managed to make magnetic fields visible (and very very spectacular):


Youtube video comment:
Natural magnetic fields are revealed as chaotic, ever-changing geometries as scientists from NASA's Space Sciences Laboratory excitedly describe their
discoveries.

The secret lives of invisible magnetic fields are revealed as chaotic, ever-changing geometries. All action takes place around NASA's Space Sciences Laboratory, UC Berkeley, to recordings of space scientists describing their discoveries. Actual VLF audio recordings control the evolution of the fields as they delve into our inaudible surroundings, revealing recurrent 'whistlers' produced by fleeting electrons. Are we observing a series of scientific experiments, the universe in flux, or a documentary of a fictional world?

Animated photographs, using sound-controlled CGI and 3D compositing.

Monday, June 2

Paper (official CCTV music video)

I got the story from /.: The Get Out Clause, a music band in England started locating CCTV cameras around the city, then set up their gig there and started playing.

They, they contacted the CCTV owners and asked for the footage, under the Freedom of Information Act.

Here's the result (and a pretty good one at that):


Edit: or ... well ... apparently not ... well ... not completely.

Sunday, June 1

a god saturday

Yesterday, I did lots of things ... Actually, the only thing I did yesterday was playing some rounds of TF2 in the evening, but lots of things happened, before that, at the reiki meeting.

Now that I think about it, I didn't do much of anything ... and I slept through the trance :)

It was a good Saturday though.

Tuesday, May 27

so ... anyone up to explaining this?

So ... anyone up to explaining where the movement is coming from?
I have my own theory, but I'm curious what others think.

Here's the experiment:

More Science experiments at 5min.com

Monday, May 26

be serious! management

Usually, I browse while programming.

That is, at times, I go through some reddit links, some slashdot article, and do my job in between; some other times, I do my job and browse in between (and of course, sometimes I only do one, or the other).

I used to feel guilty about it and then I realized: most people in the company do the same. Most people in my previous company did the same (and I think they still do).

Most people in the company before that, didn't. At all! Working in that place was never fun (of course not, it was supposed to be professional, not fun; Thus, you usually ended up chatting with a colleague, bothering (or not) somebody else, which was unprofessional also (and interrupted two persons instead of one).

I think being serious all the time sounds nice, but only in theory, and only to serious people.

This seriousness at my last employment place was imposed by management; it was a we're busy and have no time to loose on company time or we have a deadline to reach or simply well ... you're payed for eight hours of work!

In my view though, it was simply we take ourselves too seriously around here, so stop trying to have fun, while working.

I realize that, taken to extreme, if nobody does anything, you - as a company - have nothing to sell. My argument though, is not about the extreme cases, except to say that in both extremes, somebody looses (all work and no play makes nine hours of your day extremely dull and all play and no work makes your employment kind-of short, as the company will have no money to give you).

The seriousness at my last employment place was also one of the main reasons I left (well ... that and the BS I got when I asked for a salary raise).

Still, this half-half division is something I feel is beneficial to both the company and myself. I will probably not try to justify this to the CEO anytime soon, but I still think that.

Also, all this theory aside, when we have an emergency I leave the auxiliary activities down and focus on the emergency.

Friday, May 23

sad and sadder

The fact that racism still exists is sad; The fact that censoriship exists (self-censorship is still censorship) is sadder, for the US (this was published by AlJazeera).

Thursday, May 22

the most important question

We as humans, often ask ourselves some deep questions, such as ...
Is there a god?
What is our purpose?
or
What did you say your name was?

err ... never mind the last one.

Anyway, google has this amazing relevance mechanism, that pushes to the top of the first page, the most relevant results it finds, on a given topic.

... such as ... say, the will of God.

All in all, an amazing feature!

TED strikes again: eat real food!

Tuesday, May 20

quote

There’s no way out of this mess, except to become enlightened and then enjoy it.

- Robert Thurman

a step forward

Sometimes death is an ending.

Sometimes it's a sudden finish of unfinished plans or a stop in day-to-day continuity.

For some reason though, right now I see it as some kind of a step forward, from a conjecture that didn't represent you much anymore. I have the feeling you finished what you set out to do and moved on.

Literally, moved on.

At least, that's how I want to see it; I'm not so sure about this at the moment.

Rest in peace.

Monday, May 19

something sensible

I should probably do something sensible and go to sleep. It's a quarter to four AM, and I just arrived from Vienna (via Frankfurt).

It was a good trip (I almost finished another Terry Pratchett book) although we left Vienna almost an hour late, due to the storm (that was interesting!)

I didn't see much in Vienna (didn't feel like walking a lot) but I got myself some stuff (starting with t-shirts and ending with a proper meditation bowl).

Either way, that's about it -- I'm going to sleep. Don't let anyone tell you I'm not being sensible (well ... after updating my blog-thingy).

Friday, May 16

random update

I'm writing this mainly, because I'll be spending two days with no internet, just going through Vienna (oh, the horror!)

I left my photocamera in Cyprus, mainly to lower my luggage volume, and I'm not really regretting it: my trip here was at night and I'll be going back the same way; when tiredness is an issue (that is, most of the night here and back), an extra luggage just spoils your fun.

Because of this, I might get a small pocket camera tomorrow morning (depending on what I find), just for the mobility of it (that, and my phone camera is a joke and the phone battery is out).

Also, I've moved to a smaller hotel (Sofitel is very nice, but it's also very 'over two hundred dollars a night').

What else ... what else ... what else ...

Tomorrow I'll go on a small shopping spree (need a new backpack and I'm sure there will be a lot of junk that will 'seem a good idea at the time'), and maybe see some more stuff (I've been recommended to go see Hundertwasserhaus by two different people, so I probably shouldn't miss that).

What else ... what else ... what else ...

... Oh, yeah! Everybody keeps saying how Austria is famous for it's Snitzels and it's Apfelstrudels. I can't say much about the Snitzels but the Apfelstrudel I've eaten confirmed it: it was in a class of it's own.

Also, I still have to check out the Sachertorte: it's apparently a speciffic thing, designed for Austrohungarian emperror this or that, because he was a workoholic and liked to have 'a byte of something fresh'; in the middle of the night, that is.

Wish me a Happy Apfelstrudel!
(yes, another one)

zen

The further something is, the smaller you see it.

Zen is opposite: the further it is, the bigger you see it.

Tuesday, May 13

this day

As opposed to other days, this day is full of zen.

On the other hand, so are the others.

Monday, May 12

on the way

Through all the travels I've done, I've become accustomed to the idea that, no matter how I prepare for a trip, there will be something I will probably leave out.

Because of this, I try to keep a mental list of the important things, and check and recheck if I got all of those.

This time I forgot the codecs.

I mean ... I took over an hour choosing between my unseen films and copying them to one of the laptops I carry (thank FSM these things are small!).

Then, I tried actually watching one of them, only to discover I have no codecs.

Thank the gods of the internetz for free wireless connections! :)

Friday, May 9

good management lesson

A manager went to the master programmer and showed him the requirements document for a new application. The manager asked the master: "How long will it take to design this system if I assign five programmers to it?"

"It will take one year," said the master promptly.

"But we need this system immediately or even sooner! How long will it take if I assign ten programmers to it?"

The master programmer frowned. "In that case, it will take two years."

"And what if I assign a hundred programmers to it?"

The master programmer shrugged. "Then the design will never be completed," he said.

Excerpt from The Tao of Programming, Book Three

Zen

You can have Zen the hard way, or the easy way. The hard way is very hard and the easy way is very easy. So, why do so many people choose the hard way?

Robert Allen


I needed to read that.

Later edit:
I just remembered A's comment when she heard this: What's interesting about this is that whatever you do, you will have zen anyway!

This is something most of us completely miss.

Thursday, May 8

traveling again

Well ... it seems I'll be traveling again, to Austria. Cool enough :)

a new day

Today's a new day, full of potential, and a fresh start for lots of things and all that. Usually, I wake up in the morning full of ... cheer (for lack of a better word), full of energy, and with a smile.

Not today.

I went to sleep around half past one last night, and something I'd been pushing to the back of my mind for some time got back to me, triggered (I think) by the words of a friend: it's not OK to do overtime, regularly.

I'm actually OK with giving more from myself, for a few afternoons, in the case of an emergency in the office. I find that ... reasonable, for a reasonably small definition of "a few".

What triggered me instead is the feeling I get now, that this is not an exceptional situation, but "the new normality": that "a few evenings in the office because we have to have something in hand by next week" turned in that, and "a few more evenings next week and three weeks after that, and a few more whenever we feel we could reach some milestone, if we just had three more persons on the team".

So, now I'm the position of choosing between saying "no" to all this (which I don't want to do, not as such), getting used to overtime (which I don't want to do either - I'm not my job), or doing something else to fix this situation (and I'm not very clear on what that could be).

Edit: On the other hand, maybe I'm just grumpy; I didn't get much sleep, and the last three hours of what should have been sleep, were spent tossing and turning in my bed, and what should have been a six hours of uninterrupted sleep became three hours of sleep and some (un)rest. Besides, we're not doing that much overtime (even though yes, the situation still needs to change).

Tuesday, May 6

complex numbers



This is the best explanation of complex numbers I've ever seen :)

(hosted on nfccomic.com)

Thursday, April 24

I'm impressed

Granted, it doesn't take much to impress me, but still ... it's got to count for something.

It's 1 AM on Thursday morning, and I've just installed kubuntu again. It's nothing important, but the installer provides assistance under windows, in case you're unable to convince your system that it wants to boot from the CD.

Now all it has to do to keep me impressed is recognize my webcam, play steam games and set the monitor's native resolution seamlessly.

It was a tall order for the last kubuntu version I had, but I'm optimistic (or naive).

Wish me luck!

Edit, Apr 24, 2008, 10AM: Well ... One down, two to go: it recognized my monitor resolution with no problems (which is more than can be said for windows vista come to think about it); One down, two to go.

Wednesday, April 23

Mind Over Matter

The Intention Experiment is the largest public scientific experiment (that is, using a double-blind setup) in the influence if intention, over matter.

From the website:

In the pilot experiment, McTaggart asked a group of 16 meditators based in London to direct their thoughts to four remote targets in Dr. Popp’s laboratory in Germany: two types of algae, a plant and a human volunteer.

The meditators were asked to attempt to lower certain measurable biodynamic processes. Popp and his team discovered significant changes in all four targets while the intentions were being sent, compared to times the meditators were ‘resting’.


It's interesting to see actual scientific rigor applied to this (I've seen many experiments in this field that could have been easily dismissed due to either placebo effect or observer bias).

Actually, I'm planning to participate in this and follow the results closely.

Edit: I forgot to mention: I found out about this at GNN.

Tuesday, April 22

meet the scout

another python easter egg

PS C:\work> python
ActivePython 2.5.1.1 (ActiveState Software Inc.) based on
Python 2.5.1 (r251:54863, May 1 2007, 17:47:05) [MSC v.1310 32 bit (Intel)] on win32
Type "help", "copyright", "credits" or "license" for more information.
>>> from __future__ import braces
File "", line 1
SyntaxError: not a chance

Monday, April 21

Why I'm interested in Python

It's been said that Tim Peters succinctly channels the BDFL's guiding principles for Python's design into 20 aphorisms, only 19 of which have been written down.
-- (pep0020)

>>> import this
The Zen of Python, by Tim Peters

Beautiful is better than ugly.
Explicit is better than implicit.
Simple is better than complex.
Complex is better than complicated.
Flat is better than nested.
Sparse is better than dense.
Readability counts.
Special cases aren't special enough to break the rules.
Although practicality beats purity.
Errors should never pass silently.
Unless explicitly silenced.
In the face of ambiguity, refuse the temptation to guess.
There should be one-- and preferably only one --obvious way to do it.
Although that way may not be obvious at first unless you're Dutch.
Now is better than never.
Although never is often better than *right* now.
If the implementation is hard to explain, it's a bad idea.
If the implementation is easy to explain, it may be a good idea.
Namespaces are one honking great idea -- let's do more of those!


... and that is why I'm interested in python ... or maybe not.

Friday, April 18

quintessential question

So ... the feature I've been working on, suddenly worked.

Does this mean god exists?

Tuesday, April 8

the engineer


Team Fortress 2: The Engineer - Watch more free videos

no comment.

Edit: I do have a comment afterall ... It seems this is not the only TF2 character presentation;

Meet the Heavy:


Meet the Demoman:


Meet the Soldier:

Crayon Physics

This game was developed in a week, by one guy (apparently). It's no fancy graphics, no marketing effort, no sophisticated game-play, just fun.

The purpose of each level, is to make a rudely-drawn crayon ball, touch a rudely-drawn crayon star, and it seems geared towards three year-olds (of all ages).

Game-play movie:

new computer

Well ... I switched back, from laptop to desktop; a very BIG desktop.

I had been looking for upgrading my computer for a while, but I figured I didn't want to get a new laptop, as virtually all laptops I've seen have had a problem or another, once you get past "I just use it to watch movies and browse the net" and in laptops is not really easy to fix problems and I didn't want to get a bulky desktop either, since I'm planning to leave Cyprus towards the end of the year.

In the end, I kept getting by with my old laptop, knowing I couldn't watch movies under Windows (drivers problem), play games under linux (linux problem), had to tear it open every five months and clean the fans or it would overheat enough to shut down (hardware problem), and a bunch of other stuff (like not supporting anything with more than basic graphical requirements, old hardware problem).

Then, my laptop broke some more (Kubuntu, my primary OS then, started putting the laptop into sleep mode, or just restarting it, at random times), and I got fed up.

I decided I'd get a desktop, and I'll "somehow manage" when leaving Cyprus. I got the motherboard, graphic card and processor from Belgium (thanks R!), then I found out the graphics card had the biggest cooler I'd ever seen (on a graphics card) and it wouldn't fit in a normal computer case.

Thus, I ended up getting the mother of all computer cases, something that's the natural enemy of computer mobility. It's modular, extensible, durable, black, and I can barely lift it.

All of this happened last week.

Since then, I've been having trouble going to sleep: there are all these nice games to be played, movies to be seen and pictures to process ...

It's good trouble though ...