Max Romantschuk's weblog – December 2003 archive
You can't stop time.
In little more than twelve hours the number three will be replaced with the number four. I'ts weird how people make such a fuss about it, myself included. After all, nature doesn't care at all. Speaking of time, lookng back around ten years I use to play around with a program called Fractint. Fractint generates fractals, which are rather beatiful images derived from devilishly simple mathematical formulas. Some googling revealed AllisonArt's Cyberhome, featuring an excellent fractal gallery. I also found Janet Parke Fractal Art Galleries.
If you're interested in making fractals on your own there are probably a bunch of programs out there, but judging from the site Ultra Fractal seems rather good. It's for Windows only, though.
Inclined for noise?
I ran across Ishkur's Guide to Electronic Music, which is probably more entertaining than accurate, but cool none the less. Via avs Online.
If you're interested in something more official check out The Manual by the Ministry of Sound... if you can find it, that is. Or go for the experience of listening to my music instead. Shameless plug, I know.
Last but not least...
...I'd like to wish everyone a happy new year!
Behold the truth of the eeris eye thin
Some days it seems like there is an almost limitless supply of interesting things floating around the web. This is one of those days. First of all it's nice to see that there are still people capable of critical thinking in this day and age. The Propaganda Remix Project applies some on American society, and reardless of the validity and level-of-appropriateness of the posters on the site I feel that the stir they create is an end in itself. Taking things for granted is dangerous, and blind trust even more so. Then again, cynicism is not something to strive for either... Via avs Online.
Speaking of brainwash, here's 10 ads America won't see. It's interesting how things work and/or don't from culture to culture. Fortunately the wonder-that-is-the-Internet makes it possible to mix and match these things. Via Slashdot.
Another point of view
Angles are important, distance is as well. At least when you're doing kite aerial photography. I must say that would be something I'd love to try out, but I don't have the extra money to lose cameras quite that willingly... I think I'll stick to taking macro photographs and combining weird things into even weirder collages... Which reminds me, I should really try and get some images up here at some point. I've created some that are actually approaching something almost beatiful. Also via Slashdot.
All things must come to an end.
While we're busy looking at things we might as well join the Inquirer in looking at the shift away from Microsoft's software. Check out the article The IT industry is shifting away from Microsoft. Personally I think it's right on the button, at least I hope so. I don't have anything against Microsoft, but I believe that free software has the potential to create a collaboration phenomenon on a global scale. Having people from completely different countries and cultures working towards common goals can't exactly be bad for world peace, now can it? I'm not saying that swithing to GNU/Linux will stop any wars, but every little bit helps, right?
My Christmas was a very pleasant one this year. Even though we went to three different places I didn't feel stressed about it at all. I guess the fact that we had five days on our hands instead of just three helped a bunch. I also got something I actually wanted this year, experience has taught me to make a wish list.
There was a rather amusing UserFriendly comic strip on Saturday, which I thoroughy recommend reading. The perils of demand for intelligent entertainment must not be forgotten.
The sands of time
When I was in primary school I use to play a game called Prince of Persia. It was incredibly beautiful, playable and entertaining compared to other platform games at that time. I was pleased to read that I might encounter the magic yet again. Check out Prince of Persia - The Sands of Time at Tom's Hardware.
First of all I'd like to wish all my readers a very merry Christmas. I probably won't post until next week, as I'm sure my wife won't like to have me caught up in front of the PC at home hunting for links and writing blog entries...
Now then, if you have absolutely nothing to do during the holiday and your mom will let you into the kitchen you can try making antibubbles. Yes, antibubble is a real word. Via Slashdot.
I've been interested in the whole buying music off the net thing long before there was an Apple iTunes Music Store, or any other comparable service. It's nice to finally see some competition in the field, check out BBspot's review on the subject. Also via Slashdot.
Now if that isn't interesting to you might I offer you an offensive t-shirt?
Damned if you do, damned if you don't
Web design never really get's easy, now does it? New stuff keeps us on our toes, and solving one issue creates a bunch of new issues instead. Check out the Top Ten Web Design Mistakes of 2003 at Jakob Nielsen's Alertbox. Via Blogdex.
With the holiday season upon us and the inevitable discounts right after Christmas you might be interested in this multichannel speaker system review at Tom's. It seems you can get fairly good quality for a fairly sensible amount of money these days. I wish I had the space for surround... My " sound card" is more than capable of a rather kick ass system... but then again complete USB2/FireWire surround systems can't be very far fetched anymore.
Withing days, Christmas will be upon us. Depending on what kind of life you lead there should be either no time or a lot of time to kill. If you do have time to kill I would like to recommend these Flash games: Reflections, and Moebius Syndrome.
Reflections is a game where you have to guide a laser beam through a maze using mirrors and prisms, in order to get all light bulbs in the level to light up. Sounds weird, but the levels are very well designed. Annoyingly challenging, but yet completely possible to solve. I've made it to level 16 so far...
Moebius Syndrome is more of a Tetris-like affair, where you have to keep eliminating pieces on the screen by arranging them into closed loops. And just like Tetris, it's very addictive.
Speaking of entertainment, I went to see the movie Love Actually with my wife during the weekend. I'd recommend it to anyone, basically. It's a little sentimental, but one of the few romantic comedies I've seen with a clever plot on top of the usual stuff. Nothing too deep, just right for feeling all warm inside. Chicks like sensitive guys, you knew that right? Err...
Sometimes I run into things which have a cool factor far beyond most standard issue cool stuff. Yamaha's Paper Craft site is a splendid example of this. The site is currently under heavy traffic from Slashdot, but what I saw so far I liked very much. After all, who wouln't want to download, print and assemble a realistic paper motorcycle? Kickass... and there are animals too! Via Slashdot.
I'm a firm believer in designing accessible web pages. My own site is no prime example of accessibility, but I try. I ran across Joe Clark's book Bulding Accessible Websites yesterday, it's really an excellent piece of work. You can even read it online. Thorougly recommended for anyone who does even the slightest bit of web design.
The Most Toys
Appropriate allocation of Police resources? Anyone?
Speaking of toys, I thougt the US was bizarre enough as it is, but apparently not. I quote: "We have a real problem with drugs in our schools," she said, "and they're using our narcotics officers to entrap me for selling a vibrator." Yup, you saw it here first, folks. Here's the whole surreal ordeal. Also via Blogdex.
Making your own toys a little better
Computers should be quiet. Over at overclockers.com Brian figured out a rather creative and cost consious way to lessen the noise of your computer harddrive. The building materials are a bit US-centric, but substituting with comparable solutions locally should be no problem for the average Mr. Fixit.
I'm a fan of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, both in book and cinema form. It's not that surprising that I've been thinking about the fact that the third and final movie is now in the theaters, and I don't really have the time to go see it... darn. Anyhoo, until everyone does here's 11 Ways Peter Jackson Could Ruin The Return of the King.
Several sources pointed me to Joel's excellent article, Biculturalism. It's programming-oriented, but I'd say it's a good read for anyone who bothers reading this blog regularly. The article doesn't deal as much with programming as it deals with the cultural differences between UNIX and Windows. I actually think it even helped me understand some of my friends a little better, and every little bit helps.
The truth is in the eye of the beholder.
Douglas Adams has a wonderful concept called a Sombody Else's Problem field, or more commonly a SEP field. The idea is that the mind will fail to percieve something which it classifies as somebody else's problem, due to the fact that the whole thing is too unbeliavable / disturbing / confusing to deal with. There's even an entry in Wikipedia on the subject.
It's as real as you want it to be, baby.
I realize not all people are into how 3D graphics are drawn on the screen, but knowing what was left out, and why can't hurt, can it? Anandtech does an image quality analisys on contemporary graphics cards. Mindporn for serious tech junkies only... Yes, yes, "I need help", I know.
The virus finally got the best of me and I spent Thurday evening, most of Friday and Saturday in bed. I'm still catching up with piled up stuff to do, so I haven't got much to say just yet. I did come across this rather interesting series of three articles at CNET News.com: Game industry leads race for digital 'uberdevice'. Enjoy... Via Slashdot.
Stupid darn virii
I'm not feeling much better than a few days ago, nor am I feeling much worse. Basically I just feel unnecessarily tired, and overly uninspired in general. It's kind of hopeless when you're not sick enough to stay home, but not well enough to feel unaffected... argh.
My blessings to you sir
Your papa was a
The Rolling Stone magazine has interviewed the man behind the Jobsian Reality Distortion Field. Interesting stuff. Via Blogdex.
There are some questions which can never ultimately be answered. What is the meaning of life? Why are we here? What do I get my Significant Other for her birthday? Like with all great philosofical questions, discussion is in order.
There is close to nothing worth mentioning floating around on the web today. Fortunately, I've read a few good books lately, so for your pleasure, recommendations and comments to unravel.
Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser
Seldom has a book left me amazed, amused, terrified and sad in varying degree and order, more or less as the same time. One would think that a book about the fast food industry would be utterly and totally boring, but in this case one would be wrong. I won't comment on any specifics, as I would probably get it wrong. Therefore I will keep to recommending this book warmly to anyone over 15. I also recommend reading the second edition, as there are some nice additions which wrap the book up rather well.
Douglas Adams's Starship Titanic by Terry Jones
Thoroghly enjoyable. Even when read in short passages at 06:45 - 06:55 in the morning, on a perfectly regular diesel powered bus.
I decided not to provide any links to facilitate buying these books, as I don't wish to be biased in this respect. Google can probably help you out.
Usually, I'd be at the gym right about now. However, judging from the way I feel it's pretty apparent that I'm under attack from that darn virus responsible for the illness of my colleagues, so I decided to give myself a break and stay home. This of course is great for you, dear reader, since there will be more of my mediocre writing to consume. On the downside it seems I've gone into introspective mode... prepare yourself.
On my way back from work I realized something I hadn't (surprisingly) realized before. I've always been something of an escapist, very much enjoying taking my mind for a little ride to forget about all the stuff I should really be doing. What I had'd realized was that my lack of focus and my horrible track record of starting but never finishing projects is a very act of escapism in itself.
The pattern is simple. I have to do A, B and C. Instead I figure out D would be cool to do, and start on that. For a while it's fun and I can keep myself busy, not having to remeber I should really be doing A, B and C. After a while I get bored, and leave D lying around for a while while proceeding to do E. Later I realize I should really be doing A, B, C and D. Ad infinitum, ad nauseum.
Fortunately, I'm not completely hopeless in this respect (as this blog goes to show.) I do get important stuff done pretty well, so far I haven't recieved any major complaints about my working methology, in any job I've had. I guess my main problem is that I worry so much about stuff I should be doing, so I keep myself from actually getting them done.
Then again, don't we all?
Need inspiration to get things done? Bruce Almighty was surprisingly inspiring in this respect, despite being a Hollywood flick.
Alpha-blended wide vertex eyes transformed shut
The weekend went by just as it always does, and Monday was rather chaotic. An influensa epidemic is sweeping the office, and I've took over for my colleague. Sorting out all the loose ends took more or less all my energy, and none was left to blog...
Quit it with the sex already
Have you seen the movie Eyes Wide Shut? It's rather good, if you ask me. Antti/Geek Savant discovered that Mr. Kubrik apparently had a surprising amount of fact intermixed into the plot...
So, what's with the sudden sexual fixation? Um... It's not me, it's the Internet I tell you! I'm not writing these things, I'm just linking them... er...
Hardkr 3D... stuff.
In order to prove I'm doing at least something else than just browsing porn, here's an interresting piece on the development of the next version of DirectX. See? Hardcore 3D programming stuff! No Sex!
I'll just stop right now. Via Slashdot.
What goes on between two contenting adults between the sheets should be nobody's business except their own. Despite of this, many (insane) people in this world still view homosexuality as a sickness. I was surprised to learn that the US Army even fires competent people for being gay. Do you feel that the sexual preferenes of a linguist should affect his or her ability to do translation work? I sure hope not.
My family is a dirty word
Even more upsetting was this story about a little girl who got told her family was a dirty word. What happened to sexual education? Crazy are the people of this world indeed. Via Blogdex.
While I'm at it...
I haven't turned gay nor have I gotten a sudden fixation on sex... These stories just happened to surface at about the same time. Anyhoo, while I'm at it I might just as well add a little note on D&S. For those who find themselves curious on the whole Dominance and Submission thing, read Different Loving : A Complete Exploration of the World of Sexual Dominance and Submission. The book covers the subject in question very well. I realize a small minority would ever want to do anything like that, but just as with being gay, it doesn't hurt to understand what it's about. After all, the media got it all wrong, again...
Digital Church Organ
And for those who just didn't want to know about the stuff featured above: Here's an interresting piece about the recreation of a destroyed organ using digital technology. Via Slashdot.
I added GeoURL meta tags to the site. Should show up in their database withing an hour or so, provided I did it correctly... We'll see. I was very surprised that Maporama was able to locate my street, which is rather amazing when comparing to local taxi drivers.
Judging from GeoURL's "Recently added sites:"-list is seems to have worked.
This morning, while trying to boot my machine here at work, this message graced my screen: "Windows 2000 could not start because the following file is missing or corrupt: system32ntoskrnl.exe." In plain English: my hard drive had failed. It was 0700 hours at the time, the IT support wasn't exactly due soon... So I just replaced my box with another (one which wasn't being used) and went on working... fortunately I store all my work on our servers.
Gaming does cause violence
USB powered vibrator, anyone?
Warning: Explicit Content. The existence of sex toys is a fact of life. But USB-powered sex toys? Seriously? Yes. May I make a prediction: Before long there will be a product on the market which can be remote-controlled by another party over the net... The applications for such technology should be obvious to anyone with a creative mind and a healty appetite for sex... And I'll just stop right now, before I upset even more people. Via the Inquirer.
I've been experimenting with taking large panorama images by taking multiple photographs and stiching them together in software. The results can be quite rewarding even with the proggy that came bundled with my Canon Digital Ixus 400. Needless to say I thought that Max Lyons's Gigapixel Image was very cool indeed. Max even created a program called PTAssembler to help him with stitching the images together. Through the associated Slashdot article I also found the hugin project, another tool for stitching images. Both programs use a library called Panorama Tools to do the actual stiching and perspective correction involved. It's interresting what you can do these days. I'm quite happy I took a panorama of our hotel view during our honeymoon, maybe I'll be able to stich those together and form a decent image to hang on the wall some day...
On my own photography
Still on the subject of photography, as I've revealed earlier I do a fair bit of photography, but the current (more or less manually updated) state of this site doesn't exactly make an image gallery a very practical option. I do plan to get some stuff up here, as soon as I've found (or built) a content management system which fits my needs. Not that anyone is interrested, right? Then again, you haven't seen my photographs, how would you (or I) know?
Digital Sun Dial?!
Yes, a Digital Sun Dial. A quote: " Like a digital clock, the digital sundial displays the current time using digits. In the true tradition of all sundials, the device is purely passive - it operates without electricity, and has no moving parts." - 'nuff said. Via Blogdex.
I seem to have spawned an eponym, or a word derived from someone's name. Let me rephrase that.... Someone seems to have spawned an eponyn derived from my name. Pasi/ Anseli has defined doing a Max Romantschuk as discussing one's number of subscribers on Pinseri's bloglist. He also makes the rather amusing remark that doing so seems to cause an immidiate drop in subsribers, which sounds pretty accurate. Now then... having done just that, on to the catch of the day.
20 Questions, anyone?
Ever wanted to play 20 questions with a learning AI? Now You can. It seems to be able to identify both a carrot and a tiger correctly, if my experience goes to show... According to itself, the game is confused about (among other things) "a jerusalem artichoke" and "a phone card". Curiously, among the most popular subjects we find "a cigarette", "a tampon", and something called "something". Via drool!blog.
A former collegue of mine sent me a mail on Friday night, remarking that I've covered both LEGOs and MC Escher in my blog, but not LEGO-Eschers... So, without futher delay, may I present Escher's "Relativity" in LEGO! And... there's more. The works of Andrew Lipson and Daniel Shiu are impressive indeed.
One step ahead of the game
November was quite a success for my blog. I reached a grand total of 1302 visits, breaking all records to date. Even better was the fact that I recieved a more or less steady stream of visitors, so maybe I really have developed a readership? Anyhoo, whoever reads this, do keep reading, will ya? Oh, and feedback may (or may not) improve the quality of my material...