Unless you have been living under a rock I guess the media deluge has made it clear that it was twenty years ago on November ninth that the Berlin Wall fell. Wow. Without a doubt the most momentous and important event that I have lived through. Not at all on the topic of this blog, but important enough to write some personal recollections about.
Category Archives: Off-topic
We spent the past weekend in the Hague and Delft in the Netherlands. A short weekend trip, certainly, but still quite interesting. The obvious place to go visit in the Netherlands is Amsterdam, but these other places are well worth visiting too. Here are some observations on what I found interesting.
For a while now, I have had the issue that I could not open Excel sheets (files) by double-clicking them in the Windows Explorer, nor could I directly open Excel sheets sent to me in email from within Outlook. I got an error like this: “Cannot find the file path (or one of its components). Make sure the path and file name are correct and that all required libraries are available.”
Turned out this is a fairly common problem, with a documented solution.
I just found “The Toaster Project“, a Royal College of Art project where Thomas Twaites built a simple toaster from scratch. Really from scratch, going all they way back to iron ore and raw petroleum. In the process, he had to smelt ore, create plastic from petroleum, etc. It is a very interesting observation about the immense industrial complexity behind the very simple everyday items of our lives. I also think it has something to tell us computer scientists about abstraction.
I have travelled to the United States more times than I care to remember now, starting back in 1997. Business tends to make me come here for the interesting, exciting, large events. Being here is usually a nice experience, but getting here is not. Apart from the bother of a 12-hour flight in economy class, there is the green form called I-W94.
I admit to using Facebook more recently… I used to feel “what is the point”… but now I might be starting to see it. Anyway, a Facebook friend pointed out that you can set the UI to a language called “English (Pirate)”, which is pretty funny in use.
I found this very funny advertisement in an in-flight magazine recently, for the Norwegian business daily Dagens Næringsliv. To understand it, you probably need to know a Scandinavian language. Essentially, the message is that “reading DN contributes to a deeper understanding of the world”.
I have an old Canon LIDE 30 scanner that I purchased sometime late in 2003. At that time, it was connected to a PC running Windows XP, and drivers worked just fine. However, after I got my new computer in early 2009, with Vista 64, there are no more drivers available. There is a funny way around this though, using a virtual machine.
Last year, FLOSS Weekly interviewed Jan Lehnard of the CouchDB project. I put up a blog post on this, noting that it was interesting with a scalable parallel program written in Erlang, a true concurrent language. The interview was interesting, but not very deeply technical. Now, almost a year later, the StackOverflow podcast, number 59, interviewed the founder of the project, Damien Katz. This interview goes a bit more into the technical details and what CouchDB is good for and what not, as well as some details on the use and performance of Erlang.
When I started this blog almost two years ago, an early set of posts were about travel. Since summertime is the natural vacation time, that is, well, natural. It might be against all principles of “audience collection” for blogging, which seems to be first and foremost about sticking to a topic and keep writing about that same topic incessantly. Unfortunately for me, I can’t quite stick to that principle. So here are some observations on Iceland in the Summer of 2009.
Next week (June 7) is the election date for the EU parliament for the next five-year term. As a citizen of the EU and Sweden, I feel it is my civic duty to vote… but the quality of the election campaign so far does not exactly encourage it. As in many other EU countries, the EU and its parliament feels like a distant power hard to affect, and the EU election process tends to be more about domestic issues than true EU-level issues. Even so, there is one relevant, interesting, and burning topic that has come to the fore. Intellectual property rights and “media piracy”.
I have an old Apple LaserWriter 12/640 PS network printer at home that I bought back in 1997. In those days, I had a PowerBook G3 at 266 MHz, Windows NT was new, and my work computer was one of Sweden’s first 300 MHz Pentium II machines… since then, my home machines have moved from MacOS 8 to Windows NT 4 to Windows 2000 to Windows XP and now Windows Vista 32- and 64-bit. But the trusty LaserWriter remains, keeps printing, and is still on its first toner cartridge!
However, moving to Vista has made the printing bit harder.
I have installed Google Maps on my trusty SonyEricsson G900 (last of its kind, unfortunately, as UIQ is shut down and SE is moving to Nokia S60 etc.), and I find it an almost too fun and useful toy-tool. However, today, something really funny happened. For some reason, when asked to display my current location, it decided that I was in Northern Greece — to within 5000 m.
In FLOSS Weekly issue 57, about 20 minutes into the show, Randall Schwartz and Leo Laporte express genuine surprise that the XMBC media player application is all in C++. That is pretty telling, some parts of the computing world are indeed moving on to more modern pastures like Python, Perl, Ruby, and even Objective C (for the Mac people). And quite a contrast to the EDA world where C++ is still considered the new shiny thing, as I have lamented before… thanks for that small but golden genuine surprise, Randall and Leo!
This is a follow-up to last year’s post on the Chariot Corsaire XL bike trailer we have. Now that we have a baby girl as well as our older boy, we have upgraded the trailer with a baby seat. Works very well, even though it was quite a bit of work to install it.
Now I have had my yubikey for about a week, and I have put it on my keychain. It really works extremely well! The only small issue is that I tend not to have my keys immediately within reach while at home in the house or on travel, so there is a step of “go retrieve the keys” before I can use it for login.
I been listening to the SecurityNow! podcast raving about the coolness of the Yubikey, created by Swedish startup Yubico. It seems like the device has captured the imagination of quite a few people, and I have been kind of curious about it. So I was quite pleasantly surprised when I got one a few days ago, since we are testing it as a new way to authenticate to our VPN at work.
This is a short note about an “aha” moment: ArsTechnica just explained why Excel 2007 windows that look like being documents are not quite that, and how I sometimes manage to start multiple Excel processes by mistake. It seems that Excel is not truly a multi-window app like Word is… but still an MDI app that fakes windows in a way that makes the Windows task bar and Vista task switcher fairly confused. Thanks for the explanation.
Just got this funny dialog from Eclipse…
I have heard some rumors that Windows Vista had a good screen capture tool built into the operating system itself. So when I needed to do some capturing on my home machine, I started looking for it. Turned out that it is an optional install on certain versions of Vista only, but Home Premium is one of those versions. The tool is called “Snipping Tool” in English versions, or “Skärmklippsverktyget” in Swedish versions.
I just got myself a new home PC, to replace my no longer very trusty five-year old Athlon-based PC. In the process, I realized I had to move my iTunes library from the old machine to the new. Reading on the web and the Apple support area made me somewhat skeptical as to the feasibility of this operation… would all my cover art, podcast subscriptions, playlists and ratings survive the move? There are many stories of failed moves and lost data out there… and moving from Windows XP to Vista 64-bit did not make the dread less.
In the end, it turned out it was really dead easy!
This is really quite funny: it is now twice that slightly panicked family members have called me to ask how to rotate the screen in Windows XP back to normal after toddlers of about six to eight months of age have managed to rotate it to 90 degrees or upside down by just banging on the keyboards of their computers, as small children tend to do.