Saturday, December 30, 2006

About burn-out

Found an article on burn-out. Interesting, albeit with more talk than thought. Quote from the article: "... happiness equals reality divided by expectations."

I found the link via the blog of some guy working at Google. The blog is an entertaining read. Check out the famous people he's seen.

Update: I subsequently read that Danes are generally more content than people in southern Europe because they on average expect less of their life.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Age of plants

I found a fascinating article in the Danish Wikipedia about the biology of trees. Written in a intriguing language, like this quote about defense mechanisms (my translation):
Within seconds the tree knows that it has been hurt. As soon as the bark is breached, the tree needs to defend itself. If fungus and bacteria spores find an uncovered piece of wood - and they will - they will launch an attack on the wound and into the wood.
I wonder whether it'll survive the editing process in the long run.

I was looking for information about how old plants can grow. Indoor perennial plants and flowers are commonly multiplied by division. But that doesn't reset their age. If they have one. I still don't know.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006


I was showing my sister how to do some basic things with The Gimp. Just yesterday I was experimenting with the gradient tool in The Gimp to create some graphics for my website with footage from photos we've taken. I'm a complete beginner when it comes to photography, but I managed to find a decent photo.

Reminds me about And Excellent stuff!

Sunday, December 24, 2006


That time of the year again.

I heard a small passage from Bach's Weinachtsoratorium on P2 (Danish national radio channel). Reminded me of Messiah by Händel. One of the verses, song by the alto, is about "the lamb of God":
He was despisèd and rejected of men: a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief.
A quote from the bible I believe. I'm not a Believer, but that quote is ingenious. Take that, happy Christmas! :-) You have to hear it in Händel's interpretation to really appreciate it. But that's easy, just scroll down on the Wikipedia page and there should be a link.

Saturday, December 23, 2006


I'm in the midst of cleaning up my home page in preparation for moving it from the university domain to our company server. So I stumbled upon the link I put in to Amnesty International.

I have an ambivalent attitude towards charity organisations in general. I think we ("we" as in people like me who can listen to Wilhelm Kempff and Alfred Brendel all day long) have a responsibility to help people, even if they are half way round the globe. The mere fact that we know about them and easily have the resources to help is enough to institute the responsibility.

It's like if you encounter someone lying on the highway with a broken leg in the middle of the night. As soon as you see that person, you have a responsibility to help. It's a criminal offense not to do so.

That said I'm not particularly fond of private organisations spending money and resources on collecting monetary donations. They do so by promoting guilt, which is a horrible thing to do. It also seems wasteful. The tax system is already implemented and works. And I think it favours short-sighted fire extinguishing instead of long-term pulls. People donate a little to nurture their conscience when a major disaster has happened, and then half a year later go vote for a party that cuts the foreign support in half.

Reminds me about the tragedy of the commons, an interesting essay which among other things touches upon why a completely free market is not always a good idea and why taxes are sometimes preferable to the initiative of individuals, given the nature of human kind.

But back to Amnesty. I'm a member of Amnesty (and paying to be so) because I believe Amnesty is actually working on a long-term project, securing the rights and the freedom of people. Basic human rights cannot be taken for granted, not even today.

Magnatune, Händel and playing Beethoven

I'm listening to music on Magnatune, an online music store that lets you listen to the music (all of it) before you buy and offers non-CRAP formats.

They've added opera. I'm not a big fan of opera, but it turns out to be composed by Händel. Who I'm also not a big fan of, but supposedly he was good at the opera stuff. So I'm giving it a try. Frankly it sounds great!

On a related note, I'm practising a sonata by Beethoven for the time being. A small and delightful one, opus 78 according to the scores. It's not the first one. I've previously played and enjoyed the Moonlight and the Waldstein sonatas.

The third and probably less known movement of the Moonlight sonata is an aggressive contrast to the tranquility of the first movement (the one with the moonlight) and the joyous mood of the second movement. Fun albeit not easy to play. Plus it's a bit loud; a problem with three neighbours in close vicinity.

The Waldstein sonata is very long. I don't think I would have the stamina to play it in its entirety in front of an audience. It's great, though. I only started rehearsing it because I fell in love with a recording of the piece by Wilhelm Kempff (from Deutche Grammophon if I recall corretly). Mmmm. The sound quality is obviously not great, but the interpretation and the excellence of control...

What I like about Beethoven's piano music and symphonies is the tremendous passion.

Chopin's music has the same quality in his preludes and nocturnes, but it's mostly about melancholy. Less anger, less joy. I think my next piece to study will be either the last or second to last sonata by Beethoven. I have great recordings of these by Alfred Brendel. I feel fortunate to be able to listen to such an artist, by a mere poke of my finger, as often as I like. Great times we live in.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Fiction editing

Sometimes interesting stuff shows up at Slashdot. A post about editing of fiction novels (in the context of celebrity writers).

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

CSS fun

I'm going to redo my home page. Still thinking about how to do it. Meanwhile I found a nice little page about CSS positioning. And here's a longer tutorial on floating stuff with CSS.

Saturday, December 9, 2006

The mysteries of the graphical user interface

One of the problems of command-line interfaces is the lack of discoverability. But complex graphical applications can have the same problem.

Today I discovered how to burn an ISO image with GNOME. Right-click the ISO and choose write to disc. Couldn't be simpler. But I had to google it.

Incidentally, the ISO I'm burning is the first ISO I've ever burned. It's a system tools disc for Linux. I needed to whack a Linux partition from within itself, but couldn't because Parted of course won't touch a mounted file system. Sigh.

At least I found out that GParted is one sweet looking thing.

Friday, December 8, 2006


Some accumulated stuff I want to get out of the system.

A hilarious rant on agile development (link from the blog of Federico Mena-Quintero). It's not much more than a rant, however.

Thoughts on testing, unfortunately a bit long. When Should a Test be Automated. Not always. Blindly writing unit tests for everything is not necessarily the right thing to do. Classic Testing Mistakes.

Joel Spolsky on barriers to switching, when you want people to switch from what they currently got.

Out of context: computer systems that learn from, and adapt to, context. A paper that discusses (on a high level) how to improve on the lack of intelligence in software. Inspiring.

And finally, a quick one, the problem with blogging.

Thursday, December 7, 2006

About me

So after having been on the web for about half of my life, I've finally created a blog. Aaaah, the self-indulgence...

I've actually tried to start one before. But I never got further than to register myself at LiveJournal. I wonder if I still have the login info stashed away somewhere.

Anyway, let me introduce myself. I am a 24-year old, recently graduated computer scientist within the field of decentralised distributed systems (more professional stuff about me at LinkedIn).

After university, I've started a software company with two other guys that I've known through university. We are planning to create a new kind of desktop software. More about that later. We're also looking for something to do as consultants to fund ourselves, so if you happen to need the help of three well-educated and honest computer scientists... We know something about Linux, free software, networked systems/clustering and handheld stuff (Palm and PDAs).

Back on track: I live in Aalborg, Denmark with my girlfriend Janne who has almost also finished her Master's (in statistics). Love, sweet love. In my private life I'm interested in classical music, playing the piano (playing since I was eight), reading science fiction stuff, growing home plants, hiking and being kind to the environment. Someday I'm going to buy a windmill. One of the large ones. I'm also a member of Amnesty International. And I'm interested in free software. I've built a couple of free softwares myself and translated quite a few into Danish.

I guess that was it. Thanks for listening. I'll be back.