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 (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 ...

Monday, April 7

difference in attitude (a.k.a. misguided management)

Last year this time, I was working for a corporation (I don't want to give names here, but hi guys! :) ). One of my pet peeves working there, was the "eat your own dogfood" decision, which had a CRM system forced upon us.

The explanation I had always gotten was that, if we showed that we didn't have enough confidence in it to use it internally, no customers would want to buy it.

It's a good marketing decision, but that's just it: it's a marketing decision, not something you'd impose on your developers (though, in this case I guess it's also something you'd impose on your developers).

I realized how wrong this is, as I read an article about World of Warcraft, where Wartenberg talked about how "eating your own dogfood" means “actually using your product before subjecting the consumers to what may be an ill-conceived and poorly designed product.”

Read that again: the first reason to use your own product internally, is to improve on it, to take it back to the design board. That is, to not shoot yourself in the leg, when you get it out in the market.

Think about it!

Then, please think about it, some more! (because I still have friends who suffer from that thing, every day).

Edit: I just remembered: the software had been bought, along with another company, probably for their marketshare (so, that lays the blame - if any - somewhere else). In fact, I doubt that, said company had been using this software internally, though they might have been.

Still, all this ended up as an environment most developers hated, something to be avoided, and part of the reasons I left (not because of this specific product, but because of the attitude that made decisions like this, the Modus Operandi).

cotton buds

cotton buds

Thursday, April 3

portal and half life 2

Here at the enrichment center we believe that if at first you don't succeed, you fail.

Half life2: Portal:

Still alive:

Half life in 60 seconds:

Gordon Freeman at Coast to Coast:

Wednesday, April 2

a good day

  • lunch in Latci in the middle of doing 230 km on the motorbike
  • getting stung by a bee, in the chest (of all places to get stung in)
  • a dead bike and waiting in the middle of nowhere for an hour and a half, for the towing car to arrive (I hope your bike gets better :))
  • two glasses of wine and an interesting conversation (nice meeting you N, you have some cool music!)

It was a full day yesterday ... a good day!