Max Romantschuk's weblog – November 2004 archive


Tuesday 30th of November, 2004 - 12:15 – Permalink

We moved into the new place over the weekend. The whole thing still seems quite surreal. Things are mostly finished by now; I have some shelves to install before I can get all my gear ordered in a proper manner, and we're still waiting for some closets to be delivered.

We also got a new TV at the same time, as our old 14 inch model was simply too small for our new living room. (The distance from the couch to the TV grew.) We now have a rather nice 28 inch widescreen model, as well as a digital reciever. We opted to go digital due to the fact that we wanted to see the local Subtv channel we previously got through cable.

HTPC, anyone?

HTPCs, or Home Theater PCs, have gained a great deal of attention lately. I've wanted to build a MythTV-based box for quite some time now, but extra money and time haven't exactly been abundant, so I've been limited to reading articles about other people's projects instead. The VesperDeco HTPC is a very impressive piece of work. While not exatcly small, it's very different from anything I've seen in a long time.

If you're more into the nice-and-tiny school of thought there's the cinemediapc instead. And if you don't have time, but have pots of money, you can buy the Hush E2-MCE and have the Ferrari of HTPC's. Check out TrustedReview's review of the Hush E2-MCE for more. I've mentioned Hush Technologies before, and I still think they have some of the coolest HTPC stuff on the planet. Links partially via Slashdot.

Hydrogen, perhaps?

Thursday 25th of November, 2004 - 11:34 – Permalink

The Hindenburg disaster taught the world a thing or two about the dangers of hydrogen. Despite of this, research into use of hydrogen as an energy source is more active than ever. The reasons are rather simple: hydrogen is highly energy efficient, and when you burn hydrogen you get water wapor, which is nice, to say the least.

I ran across this Slashdot article about a hydrogen-based scooter, which in turn led me to a very interesting PDF titled Hydrogen Storage via Sodium Borohydride by Ying Wu from Millennium Cell Inc. These guys have figured out how to use sodium borohydride as an intermittent medium for hydrogen storage, and the bi-products produced from the hydrogen-extraction reactions can even be recycled back into sodium borohydride.

I'm no chemistry whiz but I'd be willing to bet that our planet would be way better off using something like this compared to using fossile fuels. If it would be possible to use solar energy in the recycling process we'd have a truly sustainable energy solution... It's truly a shame so little research is going into stuff like this. I'd bet that channeling the world's cumulative military expenses over a single year into research like this could realistically fund making technology like this a large scale reality. Why can't people just get along?

Backlog purge

Wednesday 24th of November, 2004 - 12:17 – Permalink

The whole renovating + moving + changing jobs thing has proved quite the time sink, and blogergy drain as well... (I just made up the word blogergy (for blogging energy), horrible isn't it? Unsuprisingly, a Google search on blogergy reveals I was not the first...) Anyway, I've tried to post stuff I've wanted to post over the last week.

Battling the elements

My winter biking project has seen both success and failure over the last few days. I biked on Friday and Tuesday, and I am pleased to report that my winter tires seem to do their job, and I am able to stay reasonably warm... The downside, on the other hand, is time. On Tuesday morning it had snowed quite a bit during the night, and only about two thirds of my commute were plowed by the time I rode to work. Some parts were agnonizingly slow, and other parts so badly uneven that I had to walk, dragging my bike along beside me.

The problem isn't the show, the problem is snow which is soft in some spots and hard in other, which you get from cars driving an unplowed road. Riding becomes like trying to balance your bike on the top of an oil coated railroad track...

The main issue is, as I mentioned, time. It took me an hour to get to work, and after we've moved my commute is going to be twice as long. As a result I will not be able to take my bike unless I can safely assume most of my commute is plowed. Basically this limits me to days preceeded by at least one snowfall-free day.

There is an upside though. My commute back on Tuesday was downright wonderful. The whole route was more or less plowed, and the rush of biking at below freezing temperatures is really great. At least I should be able to keep enjoying that as the weather allows.

The United Stater of Europe

I rand across this rather thought-stimulating artice: Welcome to the New Cold War. I'm not into predicting politics myself, so I'll leave the accurancy dispute as an exercise to the reader. Worth reading. Via Petri /var/log/orava.

Other noteworthy links

Repeat after me, Linus Torvalds, Michael Widenius and Rasmus Lerdorf: A world without software patents would be a better world. Really. Food for tought, and an appeal to the EU Council to back it up. I wish I had the time and energy to get my MEP to listen...

I ran across The Official Site of Benjamin J Heckendorn. (Quite the mouthful, eh?) Anyway, Ben has done a huge number of really cool portable mods of old skool gaming systems, and even a portable PS2! Good stuff.

Shilly chold...

Thursday 18th of November, 2004 - 11:46 – Permalink

The first snow fell here in the greater Helsinki area during the night. I was really bummed I couln't ride my bike to work. The bike is fine and I have all the necessary equipment, but I'm currently suffering the after effects of a slight cold I caught last weekend. Riding to work with only one nostril available for breathing (the other one being clogged with... well, you know) wasn't an option. Argh.

Name that 'puter

I sumbled across RFC 1178, Choosing a Name for Your Computer by Don Libes. While written in 1990, I think it might well be a rather useful document to a far greater audience today. Home networks are becoming more and more common, and every computer needs a name, after all.

I was glad to discover that my naming comvention was one of Libes' recommendations. My machines are named after characters in Norse mythology. My desktop machine is called Tor (Thor), my firewall is called Loke (Loki) and our 'DVD player' (actually a laptop without a screen) is called Oden. My workgroup is subsequently called Asgard.


Wednesday 17th of November, 2004 - 11:59 – Permalink

I've got little time and lots to say, so I'll make this quick: Some people resist change, while some adopt. The whole file sharing thing put this simple fact of life on the table once again. Another fact: if you don't adopt you might end up extinct... Fortunately there are bands out there who do get it: 'Music Is Not a Loaf of Bread'.

Check out this 2.5 Gigapixel image. To quote the teenage script-kiddie-generation: s00per-k00l. Flash required.

Interesting thoughts on the Wikipedia project. Some valid points, but also a rather one-sided view. I for one, have a firm belief that a truly anarchistic system like Wikipedia allows for greater freedom of information than anything concieved to date. Any information should always be treated with a grain of salt, regardless of source. There is, after all, no way to know for sure that the sun will rise again tomorrow. See the Wikipedia article on knowledge, section on the problem of justification for details. Or, to put it in popular terms: It really is a (theoretical) possibility that there is no spoon.

Quick renovating note

The new place is starting to take shape. Almost all walls are painted by now, and some rooms are finished. The place is starting to look like a home. Good stuff.

The Real Life effects of Blogging

Wednesday 10th of November, 2004 - 11:51 – Permalink

I've found that activity on the Internet allows for a greater amount of freedom than real life, on certain levels... I've also found that the exception justifies the rule.

My father called me today, being rather surprised that my uncle had informed him about my new job. I guess one needs to call one's parents about important stuff one puts in one's blog... And one should consider what one is posting in general as well. I've withheld certain stuff I would have liked to write about due to possible future implications. I don't want to end up like the Blogger who got a night visit from the US Secret Service, nor do I wish to endager my job like the suspended blogging airline hostess I read about a while back.

Freedom of expression is a tricky thing. Knowing what to say is rather trivial compared to knowing when to shut up.

The decision is final.

Monday 8th of November, 2004 – Permalink

The whole job-changing thing is now official. I have resigned / given my month's notice at my current job, and I'll be starting at Aller Julkaisut on the 7th of December. I'm going to be working on the techinical side of Aller's sites, in a far more central position than at my current job. I believe good things will come of this.

The DIY Renovating craze is on

We spent the weekend at the new place renovating like crazy. Big thanks go out to all of our friends who came over to help out! Primarily we removed decades and/or several layers of wallpaper in preparation for painting the walls. We prefer paint over wallpaper, each on his own I guess. I'll (try to) update on our progress as things move along.

Winter cycling preparations

I've now swapped to studded winter tyres on my bike. I chose Nokian tyres, more specifically the Hakkapeliitta W240s. The rolling resistance is huge compared to my summer tyres, the Rollspeed TSs. Grip on sand, on the other hand, is a great deal better. Now I'm just waiting for some show to fall!

Interested in winter cycling? The ICEBIKE web site is a great place to start.

OD-ing on change

Tuesday 2nd of November, 2004 – Permalink

They say change is important, and I agree. Being stuck at the same place, doing the same thing for too long is not healthy. Lately, though, the winds of change in my life have taken on hurricane-like proportions. (Cue Most-corny-phrase of the year -award...)

I've already mentioned that we bought an appartment, and we're subsequently in the process of renovating and moving. Now this in itself is a big-ish change, but I'm actually going to change jobs soon too. I've kept quiet about that bit (for obvious reasons), but now the whole thing is more or less finalized. The bottom line is, in about a month I'll be living in a new place, and working at a new job.

Moon landings

I saw a rather mediocre documentary regarding the whole The moon landings were fake! No they were real! - debate. Personally I believe man went to the moon. In any case, I ended up at the Apollo Lunar Surface Journal. It holds vast amounts of documentation of all the moon landings, as well as lots and lots and lots of photographs, ones taken on the moon as well as pre-flight documentation (like detailed images of all the gear). Suffice to say there's a lot to look at.