Friday, August 31


Here is the funniest list of websites I've ever seen.

IQ Content make a good point about naming products.

The Story of the Little Ant is interesting. It describes one of the feelings I get in my current workplace (and one of the reasons decided I'll be leaving). I'm not the little ant (ask my friends: I wasn't that dedicated), but the feeling I get is the same.

Jeff (I think) has an interesting comparison of software projects and human relationships in his post The Myth of Software Estimation. is selling The Toilet Monster. No further comment necessary.

VisibleBody is a stunning display of computer-generated inside-the-body imagery and animations.

Here is an interesting exploration of Gnegg's Space-Time Paradox.

Thursday, August 30

MTG Deck

MTG Deck
Camera: NIKON D50
Timestamp: Sun Aug 26 00:03:56 2007
Shutter: 1/13 s
Aperture: F1.8
ISO speed: 200
Focal length: 50.0 mm
Focal length in 35mm equivalent: 75.0 mm
Lens: 50mm F1.8

EXIF data read by Exiv2 0.13
Postprocessing with the GIMP

faking it, in style

(taken from here)

Monday, August 27

Pieces of News (just another random update)

Well ... my travel plans got a practical exercise in Murphology (If something can go wrong ... ): I had to delay my leave for a week, as I need to close all my connections to my current employment place.
At the moment I'm in office, covered in pieces of paper that are to be submitted to the HR department (well ... no, not really, but close).

I bruised a knee while playing beach volleyball on Saturday, but it was worth it (and I'm sure everybody is actually interested in that: my knee is important news that people need to know about).

Yahoo Inc didn't get the memo: they're rolling yahoo mail out of beta, with all kinds of improvements (like close integration with SMS-sending capabilities and Windows Live Messenger), but apparently the new design will still be centered around what yahoo managers want users to see (as in lots of ads), not around what users want to see in an email service ...

... and their market share will continue to slowly go down, or at least not climb like Google's gmail does.

In non-related news, Microsoft's Windows Genuine Advantage authentication system kind-of forked up: It mistakenly identified valid users as pirates and locked down their machines. The unofficial interpretation for this is that you're better off with a pirated copy of the OS (as the pirated copies were - of course - unaffected).

Friday, August 24

defensive measures only

Here's the latest news in the irony department: the US are creating a defensive shield based on offensive missiles which they want to aim at "any rockets coming from the middle east". More than that, the new "shield" will be placed near Russia.

The Austrian Defense Minister criticized this as a typical "Cold War" type move, to which the Washington replied:
We view the Cold War as being over. Such comments are not helpful and we now face a new strategic environment that requires us to move beyond Cold War thinking
Gonzalo Gallegos, US State Department spokesman
Excuse me?!?

There are three situations I see here, none too flattering for you: you're either auto-ironic, ignorant in your declaration (you don't know what you're saying), or simply hypocrites.

If the new strategic environment requires us to move beyond Cold War thinking, then please DO SO, and don't create the same environment again:
The cold war was caused exactly on the placement of "strategic defenses" which threatened "the other side", for defensive purposes only, ofcourse! The next move would be for Russia to match this defensive shield, with a battery of rockets somewhere around ... I don't know - say, Cuba?

In case you're being ironic here, Mr. Gonzalo Gallegos please realize that, while five billion people appreciate your sense of irony, in the face of threatening people's lives, it becomes out of place.

In the case you're ignorant, please read a history book for all our sakes (I mean that literally, for all our sake)!

But personally, considering the source, I'd go for the third option, for hypocrisy: we're talking here about the same guys who told the world the Iraq had WMD and that are telling the world now that Iran has WMD.

Probably the next White House administrations will have to work for quite a few generations to repair the public image damage the US gained in the last seven years.

That is, if they manage at all.

Thursday, August 23

US pushing for war in Iran

The US is pushing for war in Iran. It's not the first sign we get, nor will it be the last (and the American public is indoctrinated to war with the same media campaigns :( )

Nothing new here ...



Camera: NIKON D50
Timestamp: Sun Jun 17 17:05:14 2007
Shutter: 1/250 s
Aperture: F5.6
ISO speed: 1600
Focal length: 300.0 mm
Focal length in 35mm equivalent: 450.0 mm
Lens: 70-300mm F4-5.6

EXIF data read by Exiv2 0.13
Postprocessing done with the GIMP

the marine: a surprizing movie

It's one o'clock in the morning, and I couldn't sleep. I figured, a no brainer movie should put me right to sleep, with no problems.

I figured wrong.

Has anybody seen this movie? If you have, I'm sorry!

It's not that I want to badmouth the movie ... wait! Yes, it is: I want to badmouth the movie!

The Marine really is a no brainer, but not in the sense that it doesn't engage your brain to watch it: in the sense that you cannot watch it, unless you only have strait electroencephalograph lines.

It's like this:

We have the MarineTM, called John. Every time you want to designate a typical modest American - (especially if he's a hero for his country) his name is John. I think this started with "John Rambo" but I digress.

What's remarkable about him is that he's huge and makes a glorious entrance (first few minutes), by being heavily painted on the face while he butchers the "Arab terrorist camp" (they are all shooting at him while he butchers them by the way, all within 10 meters or so, but that doesn't matter because ... because he's big, or because he's the Average American Hero, or simply because he's a MarineTM - I'm not sure).
Once he's finished with butchering the terrorists (which is OK, because everybody knows that, like the Japanese, the Arabs have no soul), he butchers the "military terrorist attack helicopter" that flies above and tries to shoot things around. I'm not kidding, the dialog is like this:
How are we going to get past the helicopter?
We're not: we'll get through it!

Kids, don't try destroying a military helicopter at home!

Either way, after he ... dispatches the terrorists and their military helicopter and saves the American hostages with no problems (because he's John, the MarineTM), he gets discharged, on a technicality, so his life suddenly looses any purpose and direction and we can get to sympathize with the hero and his drama - the drama being that he' this super-resourceful Average American HeroTM, who's really adaptable to all situations, but doesn't know what to do when discharged (don't laugh, it's dramatic!).

His reaction to being discharged is "but Sir ... I'm a Marine!" (kind of reminded me of "but ... it has electrolytes!")

Either way, let's get past the ... emotional depth of the dialog and characters, and get to the action:

Some Very Tough RobbersTM steal 12 million in diamonds, then kidnap his wive (of course), then the whole movie is about him following them, lots of explosions, and something different knocking him out, every other minute or so.

Did you know that all explosions look as if what exploded was gasoline vapors?
I didn't, but I guess we all learn something new every day.

The first explosion is a gas-station, exploding with him inside; then, he falls (fifty to a hundred meters) from a speeding police car (that has around three hundred bullet holes in it but keeps speeding with no problems), running over a cliff and into a swamp. Then he follows the kidnappers through the swamp (because he's a MarineTM) only to get captured in a poacher's trap (not a MarineTM any longer) and hit over the head by the poachers with a club (MarinesTM are only immortal for explosions and bullets, not clubs).

He escapes from being bound to a chair, by jumping with it 1 meter high in the air and spinning so he will fall diagonally on the chair, making it break (that was a new one: I'll have to try it sometimes, as it's a very useful skill to have), then continues to search for his wife, through the swamp, as if nothing happened (everybody knows that MarinesTM never get bruises).

I stopped watching somewhere around this point, as I couldn't take it any longer.


Even if I didn't see it until the end, here's how the movie ends: he defeats the terrorists one by one, in close combat (because he's a MarineTM), then takes out their leader (the meanest of them all) and saves his wife.

It may be, that the Terrorist Chick Who Dresses In Black LeatherTM is defeated by his wife, because she's the wife of a MarineTM (this is the only thing I'm not very sure of).

In the end, I learned an important lesson: the next time I won't be able to sleep, I'll simply get drunk: it kills fewer neurons!

Wednesday, August 22

the wonder of MS Paint

Whoa! It's like ... anyone knows where I could get this graphic editing tool?


15 minutes of fame (part two)

Some time ago, I posted a sure way to get attention through the performance of a Philishave.

Here's my new way to get attention:
From: <utnapistim>
Sent: <sometimes today>
To: <managers>, <human resources dept.>
Cc: <coleagues>
Subject: resignation


I'm writing to inform you of my decision to resign from my position of <utnapistim's position> in <company>, as of the 1st of October (as last working day).

Please note that I was due to leave on holidays on the 3rd of September (Monday), for a month and I'd like to continue with this schedule. I believe this should be possible, especially since I will continue to be available for contact after the 1st of October (I will still be in Limassol).

Thank you,
<position>, <project>

+357 (25) xxxxxx (desk)
+357 (99) xxxxxx (mobile)
+357 (25) xxxxxx (fax)

<company> > <company motto>

Since I sent it this morning, I've been called, emailed and looked for, by people I hadn't seen in months, and the first ten minutes after sending the mail, my office phone felt like a hot-line.

Keep it up guys, you might just convince me I don't want to leave this place :)

... and by the way, I'm changing my workplace.

Tuesday, August 21

Milk and Cookies

Milk and Cookies

Camera: NIKON D50
Timestamp: Tue Aug 21 16:13:59 2007
Shutter: 1/60 s
Aperture: F4
ISO speed: 200
Focal length: 18.0 mm
Focal length in 35mm equivalent: 27.0 mm
Lens: 18-55mm F3.5-5.6

EXIF data read by Exiv2 0.13
Postprocessing done with the GIMP

Saturday, August 18

a dirty word

Osho said that "God" became a dirty word and it's true: "in the name of God" there have been murders, wars, people burned alive, all kinds of prosecution and a lot of atrocities.

I believe strongly, that "love" is taking the same road, that the word "love" is used to justify all kinds of things, from having rights over another, to judging them, taking decisions for them, discounting their opinions and a whole lot of hypocritical behavior.

We come to think that we get to decide who the "loved one" is talking to and spending time with, what they like, whom they like, how they dress and a bunch of other things.

In a relationship, this seems normal, to some of us at least; I feel though, that the easiest way to see why this is so wrong, is to consider the difference between symbols and things (the concept is best described here):

When doing things in the name of love, the word "love" is a symbol of what we feel; it doesn't mean anything in itself, but designate "that which I feel"; Instead, we set it as a tag, as something signifying "a relationship", a "thing" in itself; then, we think that "relationship" implies certain things, like, for example, "because I care about you", of course I get to decide what you wear when we get out tonight.

If we leave the label aside, what is left is caring, and all the rights to choose for the other, to be hypocritical, and make decisions in their name, come to rely on ... nothing in particular. They are simply left as an obvious show of hypocrisy.

Leaving the notion of "love" aside, actually makes things more clear, easier to see and understand, more beautiful in their clarity, without changing in any way what we feel.

More than that, the clearer you are about who you are in your relationship with the other, about what your feelings actually are, the more spiritual* you become (to choose another generic label :)).

"Love" as a word, not only comes in the way of understanding ourselves, but brings with it a very dirty baggage of expectations, illusions and ways of abusing the person near us.

Somewhere along the way, love became a dirty word.

* - spiritual, meaning for me, "close to your true nature".

Friday, August 17

turtle watch (Happy Birthday!)

Last night, we were on turtle-watch. The activity starts once the giant turtles lay their eggs in the sand and ends when the eggs hatch and the little "turtlettes" are (more or less) safe in the sea.

I got there (near Paramali village) last night around eight o'clock (just as it was getting dark) and we kept watch on a turtle nest until close to one AM.

We got lucky, as most of the watchers don't get to see any turtles, or see few of them; we counted close to 30.

A bit of useful trivia: When watching turtles, you cannot use white light: they are attracted towards the light, and as long as you keep one around, they will not find the sea (and die of exhaustion walking the sand).

Turtle Watch (1)

Turtle watch (2)

Turtle Watch (3)

Turtle Watch (4)

Turtle Watching (5)

So, Happy Birthday to all the turtlettes we saw last night! :)

random quote

If you judge people, you have no time to love them.
Mother Theresa

Thursday, August 16

a cause worth fighting for

(M., thanks for the link)

not a car commercial

not a car commercial
Camera: NIKON D50
Timestamp: Sat Aug 11 19:02:42 2007
Shutter: 1/200 s
Aperture: F7.1
ISO speed: 400
Focal length: 24.0 mm
Focal length in 35mm equivalent: 36.0 mm
Lens: 18-55mm F3.5-5.6

EXIF data read by Exiv2 0.13
Postprocessing with GIMP

Tuesday, August 14

couple at the seacaves

couple at the seacaves, Protaras Area, Cyprus
Camera: NIKON D50
Timestamp: Sat Aug 11 18:55:00 2007
Shutter: 1/80 s
Aperture: F10
ISO speed: 400
Focal length: 18.0 mm
Focal length in 35mm equivalent: 27.0 mm
Lens: 18-55mm F3.5-5.6

EXIF data read by Exiv2 0.13
Postprocessing with the GIMP

Dear world ...

Dear world ...
Camera: NIKON D50
Timestamp: Sat Aug 11 16:39:59 2007
Shutter: 1/1250 s
Aperture: F5.6
ISO speed: 400
Focal length: 300.0 mm
Focal length in 35mm equivalent: 450.0 mm
Lens: 70-300mm F4-5.6

EXIF data read by Exiv2 0.13
Postprocessing with the GIMP

Monday, August 13

pixiedust (going smooth again)

I'm not exactly sure what they do to motorcycles when you get them into service; it's like this: you get the motorbike in service, leave it there for four days or so, and when you get it back, it's running smoother.

I've tried to imagine oiling things but that only accounts for so much. Methinks it must be pixie dust or something.

It makes sense: if they put enough pixie dust it will last until the next revision. Otherwise, the bike starts loosing performance before then.

What I really wanted to say was I got my bike out of service. It's running better now and I'm one step closer in my preparations for the trip.

red and yellow

red and yellow

Camera: NIKON D50
Timestamp: Sat Aug 11 16:39:59 2007
Shutter: 1/1250 s
Aperture: F5.6
ISO speed: 400
Focal length: 300.0 mm
Focal length in 35mm equivalent: 450.0 mm
Lens: 70-300mm F4-5.6

EXIF data read by Exiv2 0.13
Postprocessing with the GIMP

UFOs in Haiti

Unidentified (and strange-shaped) flying devices (so ... is the movie fake or not?)

Wednesday, August 8

stop whatever you're doing and think

Slow Down Culture is an excellent piece, talking about why effectiveness doesn't mean "do more in less time", but take all the time you need to be efficient, Slow Food and (among others) speed leading to quantity versus slowness leading to quality (not only in work, but in life as well).

raganwald: Haggling about the price

Here is an excellent piece about salary, price, principles and in the end, spirituality. From the text:

But when it comes to money, either you incorruptible, or you have decided that your life is a commodity, something that can be bought or sold, traded or bartered, played as a pawn and sacrificed so that some contracting company somewhere makes another billion dollars for its shareholders.

Tuesday, August 7

minor progress

In the last couple of days I feel I've been stalling. My motorbike is in service and I simply took no further steps to prepare for my journey, except to check that I will have enough money for what I still have to buy.

I also added the timer to trip to my blog and every time I see it, I get a thrill, an impending sense of "the trip is coming closer!"...

Today, I went to the "bycicle repair man", the guy checking my motorbike to talk to him about "truing the wheels" (thanks for telling me the term D), as I had forgotten to do it when I brought the bike int service.

Still a lot of things to go through, but I still have time: as I'm a lazy guy, I'll probably leave some things to rush over through the last days.

In the meantime, I'm keeping the spirit of things by reading Confessions of a Long Distance Sailor.

Sunday, August 5

shooting againg

I haven't used my camera at all, in what seemed like forever; yesterday evening though, I took D on the bike and we went to the Ferris Wheel in the tourist are of Limassol.




Friday, August 3

"gPhone" (or google phone, anyway)

Accodring to this article, after Apple's iPhone, google are considering what would ammount to a "gPhone", a google phone.

The article talks about hearing ads as you make a call, which I don't see as such a good idea: google has (up to this moment) made a big effort to make sure their ads don't become annoying. This is a sound business decision, as the other adds providers are now fighting an upstream battle against adds-banners filtering, Adblock-type extensions to browsers supporting them, and banner filtering though transparent proxies (there might be other solutions available).

Still, that's not the only thing google could do. If I were in charge of this initiative, I wouldn't make the users listen to voice recordings (as everybody knows how hated telemarketers can get, and google would lose business if they became associated with that annoyance). Instead, they could create phone color themes with a different logo each week (for example), put an icon with offers in a corner of the screen, dynamically upload screen-savers to the phones and a whole set of other options of that type.

Additionally, they could create a dynamic price plan (say ... you pay for 45% of your bill, and only receive commercials at night, or have to answer a survey every now and then).

Either way, it seems like a good idea for business expansion on their part (if they don't botch it up).

Thursday, August 2

changed the oil for my motorbike

So, after running around for a couple of days for an oil-filter o-ring (didn't find it), yesterday I managed to change the oil for my motorbike.

Here's what I learned for the next time:
  • you can improvise an oil-collecting pan out of empty plastic water bottles, with a side cut off, but if you do, expect some oil to spill around them :(
  • allow for an hour (or two) more than you estimated it will take
  • follow the instructions in the manual and there's nothing to it
  • engine oil dissolves the rubber of surgical gloves, and stains clothing (though, I'm sure it will come off ... eventually :D)
  • if you're doing this in the late evening, get an additional light source (but not open flame :D), before even beginning to work, even if "it's still light outside"

Wednesday, August 1

questionable content (a comic strip)

QC is nice comic strip (I'm at episode 10 at the moment).

(via WOBM)

think about this

For some reasons, the publisher of the Abortion Manifestation in Libertyvile, USA video didn't want to share it. As such, I only posted the link to it.

double standard (the conclusion they refused to draw)

The web medical directory published an article stating that smoking pot damages the lungs. It's a judicious conclusion, but the conclusion they seemed to refuse to draw is that smoking pot is less toxic than smoking tobacco.

So, other than the strength of the tobacco industry, is there any reason marijuana is banned and tobacco is not?

Guys, what's with the double standard?

What will you do? legalize pot, or ban tobacco?