Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Fantasy/science fiction books

I just finished reading the Fionavar Tapestry by Guy Gavriel Kay. Borrowed the three books in one cover at the local library, in a Danish translation. I enjoyed the read, although the first book started slow. It shows that it was his first. The writing in the later books is much, much better.

Other great books I would recommend are the Hyperion series by Dan Simmons, and in similar vein the Riverworld series by Philip José Farmer. And the Foundation series by Isaac Asimov. And how could I not mention Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card.

I recently read the Earthsea series by Ursula K. Le Guin series. A bit boring at times, but otherwise good. They feel different than most fantasy/science fiction books I've read. Perhaps the gender of the author shows.

I have also read the series by David Eddings, they are not exactly great works of art. But they do their job, exciting.

I recently reread Midworld by Alan Dean Foster (it's called Grøn = Green in Danish, I didn't even know it was part of a series). I remembered it as a favourite, but was disappointed when I read it again. Too naive. I think I've had too much scientific training. It's like the Dragonlance books I used to read and really enjoy when I was young, at about the age of 15 they were simply unbearable.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

How to dress

Some tips for dressing, if you're in the trade.

I already knew most of them, of course. Janne told me.

Reminds of, probably the longest domain name ever registered.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

The secret of success in business

This illustration is just hilarious.

While I'm at it, I stumbled upon a webshop with orchids. It's short, pretty and to the point. Great example of how to construct a webshop.

And here's how to choose a colour scheme.

Monday, February 19, 2007


The local newspaper I've mentioned before called us 8 o'clock this morning. We won an iPod Nano, amongst 34 correct solutions!

This was the fourth week we participated, with the number of correct solutions so far being 17, 27, 46 (that week it was particularly easy) and 34. Thus the probability of winning one iPod has been 1/17 + 16/17 * 1/27 + 16/17 * 26/27 * 1/46 + 16/17 * 26/27 * 45/46 * 1/34 = 14%. I guess we were lucky.

There's one problem, though. All my ripped music is encoded in Vorbis. I definitely don't want to store my data in a proprietary format that Apple is controlling. I'll have to take a look at Rockbox, although it seems the 2nd generation iPod Nano is not supported. Sigh.

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Frustrated users

Spent some time with a link I got from the blog of Federico Mena-Quintero. Apparently, people get frustrated often with the programs they use most (word processing comes out top) and waste on average about 40% of their time.

Some of the suggestions in the paper are simply to rephrase unclear wording and work on the error messages.

Another paper suggests an adaptable file browser. Their concept is pretty simple - replace seldomly used folders with an ellipsis. Easily generalised.

Sunday, February 4, 2007

REST, web speak, architectures

Why are new technologies on the web so slang infested? I found a reference to REST which I thought from earlier impressions was an architectural style for building web applications. Apparently, it is more complicated than that. Researching the matter is difficult, the usual ACRONYM gabble-gabble, future gobble-gobble.

So I looked it up on Wikipedia and found this little gem, out of the blue:
Systems that follow Fielding's REST principles are often referred to as RESTful; REST's most zealous advocates call themselves RESTafarian.

Rereading Wikipedia's summary the ideas in REST begin to make sense: build systems with URLs and send-command/return-contents protocols that are stateless and cacheable, instead of the usual remote procedure call/method invocation paradigm.

An interesting aspect of XML-RPC and SOAP is that you take a flexible format like XML that can easily support forwards and backwards compatibility and force a strict RPC interpretation down on top of it (if I understand things correctly, admittedly I'm no expert on web services). It may be easier than parsing the XML itself, but it is a poor man's version of a protocol. And why use XML when you're not really exploiting it anyway? Certainly not of performance reasons...

I have a feeling the requirement of a stateless protocol is a problem in many circumstances, though, having spent some time working on distributed file systems. Sometimes it's just better if the server can send a notification back to a client instead of the client having to poll. I believe NFS has left its much touted stateless approach with version 4.

Saturday, February 3, 2007


My mother has bought the scores for the chromatic fantasia and fuga by J. S. Bach (BWV 903) for me, apparently mostly because she heard it in the radio, liked it and then the scores suddenly were there in the book shop.

So I have been trying to find a free recording of the piece on the web. I don't have time to study it right now, but I need to know where to put it in the ever-growing stack of pieces I'm planning to work on in the future. No real luck yet, although I managed to find a very nice sample on harpsichord by George Malcolm (a famous harpsichord player). Still looking for a piano recording, although I suspect I will have to visit the library or spend some money on it.

I ended up on Magnatune. Their collection of classical music has grown quite a lot. Apparently about 30% of their sales are for classical music, no wonder, they have some real gems in there. I'm currently listening to the French Suites after having enjoyed Rameau for a moment. There's nothing like harpsichord solos to bring forth the baroque mood. Tiring after while, unfortunately, I suspect because of the lack of dynamics. That's one point a Yamaha keyboard has going for it. You can play harpsichord with graduated touches.

Friday, February 2, 2007

Feed reader

I finally succumbed and started using an RSS feed reader. I'm trying Google Reader right now, we'll see how it goes.

It's quite fun to add feeds. It's like creating your own newspaper.