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All articles in Ramblings

Presumed lying
Since the rapture didn't take place, despite a single volcano blowing it's top off I guess it's time to get things together, start rationalising and get on with the order of the day.

The Guardian has a good piece on the media's hypocrisy when a top politician gets accused of rape. While the piece is on France's media frankly I've seen the exact same attitude in most of Dutch and English media. "We have to presume someone's innocence at all times until proven guilty," the interviewed politicians and the media in Europe keep telling us. They tell us this so much that we forget about the alleged victim in this case. She doesn't matter, the presumption of innocence of a top politician takes precedence over the rape of a mere woman. So much so that we are supposed to be angered by the indignity of an unwashed alleged rapist standing in court but we also have to question the motives of the raped woman. The presumption of innocence doesn't extend to the victim it seems.

I dragged the following bookmark onto my desktop in June 2010 thinking I might direct you all to it because it's stupendously funny.
I kinda forgot to do that however and although I occasionally saw the bookmark sitting there I never did anything with it. Until now! So here it is, gentle reader, a comic whose link I saved months ago so I could share it with you.

Internet Procrastination at its absolute finest.

The Guardian has a fascinating article about records from ships' doctors from the 18th and 19th centuries.

Amputations, acid gargles and ammonia rubs.

Medicine has come a long way and I fear we will soon see many old diseases come back, because so many bacteria are now immune to most antibiotics. Let's hope we won't have to bring back bloodletting and gargling ammonia.

Customer support win
Hehe, we just had the first Dutch football match in the world championship and I took advantage of that to make some calls I had put off for weeks to customer support. Since 90% of Dutch people are watching the match wait times were zero (after navigating the menus) and my request was dealt with right away.

I have achieved a rare customer support win.

All you need to know about DRM
One of my colleagues from a competing higher education library wrote a blogpost today which had a very revealing picture about DRM.
The article itself is in Dutch but the illustration is in English and tell you all you need to know about DRM.

Clipart sucks, you should use it too!
After working for 12 years at the same place today I have made my first Powerpoint presentation, to be delivered Thursday.
Until now I have always been successful at avoiding Powerpoint, but I felt it was time to dive in and test the water.

Frankly I must say that Powerpoint isn't that bad as an authoring tool. Setting up slides was fairly easy and as long as you stay away from the annoying transitions and styles and themes and whatnot the results can be quite good and clearly presented.
Of course there's an unwritten law that states that every Powerpoint presentation should have at least one slide with gratuitous, unneeded and cheesy clipart (so bad it's almost real art!). So I felt obliged to insert that with the title (loosely translated) "Gratuitous clipart as required by law".

The biggest and most time consuming part of the project was animating that last slide so parts fade in and out to provide a flowcharty time-line type of thing (with Custom Animations as they're called). Powerpoint sucks at this. Big time. Seriously, this is the best Microsoft programmers can do? I guess it shouldn't come as a big surprise.

But I did get to use that lovely clipart!

Goddammit, today is International Blasphemy Day and I am one pissed off atheist. I had some minor surgery to excise an infection from my back yesterday and it hurts like hell. It's also virtually impossible to reach to clean the bandages so this morning I was forced to become a contortionist. Hey, maybe I can make a new career out of this. Or I can just go home a bit early and snuggle up on the couch with a nice glass of wine to dull the pain while watching Lost or reading a book.

Hmm, that sounds like quite a good plan actually. Certainly better than insulting the mindless drones of the Lord.

If you're a religious person you can rejoice in my discomfort today and think your god has inflicted this upon me, if that makes you happy.

How to influence aliens
Imagine, if you will, the moment you were born. Perhaps there was a window open next to your birth bed. The sun struck your ugly purple wrinkled face (most babies are ugly except to their parents, a fact many parents aren't willing to admit to) and your crooked grin with bubbly saliva reflected some photons back into space. Now imagine those photons zooming through space on an angle, who knows what alien civilisations might pick up a stray photon of you and who knows what they make of it. Perhaps Earth's atmosphere has left clues in the spectrum of the presence of methane or oxygen, perhaps bug-eyed, tentacled monsters are calculating the possibilities of life on that utterly insignificant little blue-green planet far away, near a small unregarded yellow sun. Perhaps they are itching for an excuse to build a interstellar super highway and wreck some lives? Or perhaps they want to be penpals!

Get your own RSS feed with your lightcone, my photons have had a busy few weeks and more is coming.

Please excuse the silence around here. I've been busy at work, we're doing the Dutch version of 23 things. This is a course that teaches library staff various web 2.0 tools like weblogs, Flickr, wikis, RSS readers, social networks and forces them to think about them and how they might be implemented in a library setting. It's a fun course but takes a lot of time, I am a coach so that means I not only follow the course myself but also attempt to guide several people through it. The 23 things aren't all actually tools on the web, some of the things are just moments to reflect on stuff learned previously. As part of this I keep a weblog (yes, I've been cheating on you, I am seeing a weblog on the side, it's not you baby, it's me) and comment on other people's blogs. This is taking a bit more time than I expected and I haven't really felt the urge to write here as well.

Another thing is that I've been dabbling with video editing again. Last time I did this the OOOk Default: team were amateur VJs and most of the work we did was done in Premiere 4 and 5, as well as After Effects. Things have sure changed. I have After Effects CS3 and Premiere Pro CS3 but the interfaces have changed so much that it's hard to adapt to old ways of working. In fact I am finding it easier to work in iMovie as that's more intuitive to use and it DOESN'T MESS UP THE FRACKING SOUND!
Adobe's interface designers have gone mad and their editing tools have become arcane and cumbersome. By contrast iMovie has hit the spot for me. At first glance the editing tools are extremely limited but with a bit of time you can accomplish quite nice things. Plus it DOESN'T MESS UP THE FRACKING SOUND! In fact I really thought I might not like iMovie thinking it was way too limited but Apple has left out all the non-essentials and just focussed on getting the important bits right. I'm using version 6 which is a bit old by now and I understand things have changed a bit in later versions but don't have any experience with those.

The thing I'm working on is a compilation of some epic fights in Ulduar, which is a new dungeon in World of Warcraft. I may show it to you all when it's finished.

It's true if it's in the news
I read a christian newspaper at work and I was going to rant about some of the stuff in there (I really shouldn't read that kind of thing, I know, it's very bad for my blood pressure) but instead I got distracted by this piece from the BBC website: Fire crews hunt escaped hamster which is actually a lot more fun. I do hope the hamster is well.

Another fun thing I read today is that in the long term it's getting colder. News is really amazing sometimes. Here we are in the middle of october and we're told it will get colder. Next they'll try to tell you it might snow this winter.

Updated below.
Aaaaaaaargh: I just read the links in the side bar to the BBC article and there's another brilliant hamster-related gem there:
Runaway rodent collared by police.
A hamster was taken into custody after walking into Cheltenham police station.

Old memories
When I was young my parents moved from one end of the country to another. Being only 10 I kinda had to go with them, this wasn't really up for debate. My memories of living in Assen where I grew up are kinda vague now, it's been a long long time. Recently my parents moved back to enjoy their retirement and live in a house big enough to hold all their books with a little bit of room to spare for future purchases. We took a ride through my old neighbourhood and some things I distinctly remember have gone now. For example there was a little hill near our home, well it was really a dike, only without water so it might be confusing to call it that. This separated the parking lots from the houses, no parking right in front of the house there. While this is still true, the hill has gone and with it the thorny bushes that were so much fun to cycle over, leading to tire punctures every single week. Such is the price of progress I assume.

We saw a man playing ball with his son by standing on either side of the road and trying to bounce the ball on the curb so it bounces right back at you, if you fail the person on the other side catches the ball and has a chance to do it. We used to play the exact same game when we were young, 28 years ago. It's probably hard to imagine in this day and age but all of our playtime when I was young was of such a variety.

One other thing I remember distinctly is my old childhood sweetheart, our last kiss is burned in my memory. We lost contact shortly after my family moved and over the years I've often wondered what became of her. I have made a habit (if you can call it that) of occasionally googling the names of people I've lost contact with with surprisingly little result for most if not all of my old friends. Even friends who went on to study in academics are near impossible to find, even in scientific databases, about the only one that can be found is my old friend and housemate Dirk Koolmees, who has apparently written a book that will be published soon. I did once find a pdf on estimates of elephant populations in Cameroon by counting dung (science is so romantic!) by old friend (and housemate) Patricia Bekhuis in the highly respected publication Pachyderm (which probably has about 25 readers worldwide).

Anyways, my childhood sweetheart has been unfindable as well. Or rather she was unfindable until I tried again, after quite some time, last week. Turns out she registered for some website that exists to facilitate reunions and memories of schools and classmates. Problem is I have no idea when she registered and it could have been a while ago as she lists her place of employment as something that was subsumed in 2007. The schooldatabase website does offer the ability to send an email via a form to a person if you register for 12 euros but that kinda depends on that email adress still being active and as you don't see it until someone chooses to actively mail back you're rather left hanging, you won't even get a bounce if the adress is non-existant. Which is annoying and irritating to say the least. I don't want to find my old sweetheart and lose her again in the same stroke.
Still, it's only been a few days since I sent a message so no need to cry out in anguish and tear out my hair yet :).

I've often wondered what would have happened if we'd never moved. Would our budding love have lasted? Would we still see each other? I've sometimes thought that if we hadn't moved I'd be married to her now. On the other hand I'd be a completely different person then and as I kinda like the me that's here would I care for that? This is of course one of the great imponderables of human existence, in what way do our experiences shape us, in what way do our formative years determine the shape of our future selves. The trousers of time Pratchett calls it, you can never know how things would have turned out had you taken another path in life. All you can do is live with your decisions and move on, occasionally looking back and wondering, what if?

Still, it would be good to hear from her again as the info I'm left with is rather little. So check your mail Alinda. You owe it to the past. Besides, I just upped your google hit count by 50%.

Being Cool
There was an interesting program on the BBC last week about the quest for absolute zero (0 degrees Kelvin or -273.15 degrees Celcius). Part two is tonight but I keep thinking about a statement in last week's program: a pint of liquid nitrogen costs less than a pint of milk.
Finding this a bit hard to believe I did some searching on the web and found that a gallon of liquid Nitrogen costs about 2 dollars. That's roughly 0.5 dollars per litre. That's 0.32 euro.
Milk costs 0.93 euro a litre at Holland's biggest grocer.

Am I the only one that thinks this is a bit absurd? Here we have one the one hand a product that requires a cow that essentially is able to maintain itself by eating grass, which grows on sunlight off all things, and on the other hand we have a product that requires large amounts of energy to produce in chemical plants.

Compounding this: milk should essentially cost more than it does, as supermarkets use milk to get in customers and are essentially selling it at a loss (or break-even at best) so we buy more luxury goods like coke and pringles and individually wrapped cookies and whatnot. We won't even get into the fact that milk is so cheap because we keep our cows in the millions and have selectively bred them so they produce 16 litres of milk per day instead of the 2 they originally did.

Anyway: tonight is part two of 'The quest for absolute zero' at a seriously ungodly hour for a working person but the DVR is patient. The production of said DVR probably used liquid Nitrogen at some point.

my 10 week old female puppy has a fishy smell
This has to be the most awesome spam subject message I've seen in months.

Good luck with your puppy dear "lisk".

Weird stuff
Tonight I was woken up from the strangest dream I've had in a while. I dreamt I was a steelworker smelting ingots for the use of train tracks or something. It's a all a bit misty to be honest but it was definitely weird.
Not as weird as waking up with a very small bug in my left ear though. What the little bugger was doing there is a mystery but it felt like it was spinning a web or something. Whilst tap-dancing.
While I quite like the idea of having a resident pet in my body the location was a bit bothersome as it itched like mad. So I extracted it (well, squashed is more appropriate) with a q-tip. Unfortunately the tiny critter was unrecognisable after this procedure but I salute it nonetheless for it's adventurous spirit. This is the kind of mind that made Holland one of the wealthiest countries in the world in the seventeenth century, by boldly exploring the world around us, finding niches and taking what we could.

The odd thing is that years ago I wrote a short story about something very much like my nighttime visitor. It's not available in English but my Dutch friends might want to (re-)read De man met de duizendpoot in zijn oor.

Broke at 65

I just read that my pension fund is investing €140 million in music rights. This probably means I will have to continue working until I'm 80 as it's clear that the music industry is completely clueless if it comes to marketing and distributing music that people actually want to pay for.

Ah well, download a Madonna song today, it's coming out of my pension!

We let these people vote?
Good new everyone!
We already had political parties for islamophobes, pedophiles and the welfare of animals, now we're getting a party for stupid people!
That's right, the Party for Humanity and Spirituality (my translation) is made for you if you believe that distant astronomical objects influence the course of your life. If you believe that Pluto has an influence on your career, or Jupiter has an effect on your love life. A party based on "female energy", whatever that is. If you believe your life is influenced by mysterious forces like leylines and ghosts and the earth mother you'll be welcome. I think, it's hard to say with all this fluff on their website.
Seriously, they will notarize the formation of the party on march 11th at 11:50. That time and date has been especially chosen because it is based on an idealised horoscope of The Netherlands, according to a spokesperson on TV this morning.

It's good to see they'll be heavily promoting CAM, they wish all of us had access to these wonderful alternative medicines .. Ah fuck it, I can't keep a straight face here. Here's the deal: a couple of new-age hippies want to promote their distorted world-view. That's fine. They also want to be represented in our political system. That's getting borderline. Do we really want people who can't seem to tell the difference between fact and fiction, science and wishful thinking, determining the fate of our country?
Don't expect me to take these idiots seriously when they want all of us to have access to quacks and snake-oil. When they tell us that the youth of today is disenfranchised because they have some inner spirituality that isn't recognized by the current schools and that this is leading youths to crime. When one of their leaders is an astrologer on TV who reads the Tarot, does horoscopes, believes in the Kabala and other such nonsense.

"The time is ripe for a whole new spiritually inspired dimension in current politics. A new dimension that connects to the New Man. The New Man is a person that wants to connect heart and mind; intuition and knowledge; body and spirit; heaven and earth."
translated from the fist bullet point on this piece

Seriously, who decided it was a good idea to give the vote to everyone? Is it too late to reverse this somehow?

More on banning women
Right, some additions to the brouhaha of my previous post. The court decision to subsidise a fundamentalist christian party wasn't made by the Hoge Raad (High Council) but by the Raad van State (Council of State). The full decision can now be read (in Dutch) and it clarifies a few things.
Warning! Lots of legalese mumbo-jumbo!

The way I'm reading this is that the SGP got off on minor technicalities that are inherent in the UN decision and the conflict the UN decision has with the freedom to associate and form politial parties or organisations that do restrict membership.

So the Council of State ruled that the freedom to associate is of a higher order than the rights of women to be treated as equals.
Which is good to know I guess. My previous posts conclusions still stands though: it is apparently legal to discriminate as long as others don't do this.


Death - and beyond
There's a great shortage of organ donors in the Netherlands. This is nothing new, we've had this for ages. Once every 10 years or so there's a huge public relations drive to get more people to sign up to donate their organs after their death. About 10 years ago (on 27-07-1998 according to a card I carry in my wallet) I signed up. Well it's that time of the decade again and we have a new drive to recruit more dead people. I mean organs! Anyway, I saw a commercial on TV the other night and what it said was basically the following:
Go to and make a choice. You can change your mind whenever you like, so nothing is set in stone.

This strikes me as a bit odd: presumably someone who choses to be a donor makes an informed choice on this. Do they really expect people to log in to this website and change their minds every month? Why are we even being told this? It strikes me as a bit odd really.

The site contains some nice info btw. Slightly less than 2.5 million Dutch people are registered as donors without reservations, about 1.5 million do not want their organs donated, 0.5 million have registered some reservations (not giving one or more specific organs(s)), 600.000 people are wishy washy and let someone else decide.
Also of note is the fact that almost 8.000 requests are made each year to see whether someone is listed as having registered a choice, presumably these requests are by doctors, emergency staff etc.
45% of registrations are by males, 55% by females. Wassup guys? Feeling a bit queasy???

Anyway, 16 million people in Dutchland, 5 million of them have made a choice, which is more than I expected but less than ideal. Can I somehow specify that should I happen to fall under a bus my organs are only donated to people who are also donors, or at the very least exclude the selfish bastards who do not want to give their pound of flesh?

New coat: a review
There are certain items that, whilst they are with you, become a part of you, so much so that you take their quirks as a given. If they get replaced there is a period of adjustment.

My local supermarket has the annoying habit of changing the type of toothbrush they have in stock every year or so. This means that whenever I have to buy a new toothbrush I buy one, check it out and if I like it I will buy 3 spares the week after. I currently have 1 good one in stock and a lesser one, that lesser one isn't bad, per se, but it's not great either. Such is life I guess. In the days of our grandparents brands were something that didn't change for decades. A toothbrush was a toothbrush and you could rely on using the same type year in year out. The same goes for razors, many people grew up using the same type of soap and razor their father used.
I shave electrically (I have a phobia for all things sharp, which I got whilst doing a summer job, in pickled gherkins, if you can believe that), the razor I have is 10 years old and the blades could do with replacing to be honest. However, this model hasn't been made in ages and the only place to get new ones is via obscure dealers on teh interwebs, which seems a bit seedy to me, and I've more or less decided to get an entirely new razor. Some day. When this one really doesn't do the job anymore.

Anyway. What I'm trying to convey here is that certain items are with you for so long that doing with a replacement is difficult. Or at least requires a certain period of adjustment.

Yesterday I got a new coat*. I have been wearing leather jackets exclusively for the past 21 years. In that time I have worn 4 different ones. This means I do on average about 5 years with a jacket. Yesterday's purchase marked the occasion of getting my fifth jacket, which I promptly wore that evening.

It is a good coat. But, like all changes in coats, it means some adjustments must be made. My first leather jacket had loads of pockets. 2 inner pockets, 2 for the hands, 2 on the breast outside (oooh, see my Google rating soar up, say it again: breast).
My later jackets had less, generally 2 on the inside, but only one on the breast outside. One had only one pocket for my (right, I think) hand!. This coat will forever remain nameless! It will be forgotten! It will not be mentioned again!
It seems that jackets get less pockets, which become smaller at the same time, generation after generation **. Let there be no mistake: I like my pockets big. I like to keep my passport in one (zipped) front pocket. My iPod in a separate inner-pocket, a book (a pocketbook, you understand) in the other inner pocket (I so hate being without a read in trains and busses and I like to travel without bags). Now, getting a new coat is no sinecure. Not very many places sell leather jackets and, this is probably much more important, I so hate shopping for clothes. This means I find a place that sells what I generally like and keep going there till I really can't stand it anymore. The coat I bought yesterday was bought at the exact same store I bought my previous coat, what can I say: I am a creature of habit. (If you think this is bad let me tell you that for the past 30 years all my underwear and socks have come from the same department store chain. My trousers all come from a different chain (but all trousers from the same chain, if you get what I mean). I did make an exception a year or 6 ago under the pressure of some friends and it was a big mistake, if only because they know I hate clothing stores and they had great fun getting me to try on different stuff, don't you just hate friends? I still see the bastards. How forgiving am I? Call me Jesus!)

Anyways, I tried on a few jackets and the one I walked away with is distinctly different from the old one. There is no outer pocket anymore (let alone 2). The inner pockets are also smaller. The pockets for the hands are a tiny but bigger though, which is good. Whenever I buy a new coat I take a book with me to see if it fits. I take the pocketbook I am currently reading or have read recently (if I'm on a hardcover at the moment) to see if I can travel with a book in my jacket. The jacket I bought appears to fit pocketbooks of most sizes except for the really big or thicker ones (I took a small but thick book when buying the coat and later tested different books at home). All in all I am pretty happy with my new coat, however the pockets are a bit too small to call this jacket perfect, especially considering the lack of outer breast-pockets. The inner pockets are also a big high up for my likes but I'm sure that will be fairly easy to adjust to. I can't help but worry however: what if the next coat has even less and/or even smaller pockets. Perhaps I'll have to resort to carrying a bag all the time. Or worse (gasp) stop reading!!!!
I remember when I got my previous jacket I had to adjust and eventually found it to be perfect for my needs, I hope the same goes for my new jacket.

As an aside: last year before going on a trip to scotland with some friends (one of whom was part of the sadistic group that tried to get me to wear jeans with flares or something equally obnoxious) I got a denim jacket and I had to adjust to exactly the same thing, less pockets (it does have 2 outer breast-pockets but they are so small they are virtually useless). Yes, it probably looks more stylish but damn, I likes my clothing comfortable, in more ways than just the fact that something "fits". It seems this is getting harder and harder to get. Can we start a more-pockets-plx group on yahoo or something? ( I am reminded here of a particularly funny moment in Bridget Jones' diary where she has to decide whether to wear comfortable or sexy underwear, she decides for the comfortable ones and ends up in bed with a man, such is life I guess.) (Hmmm, if I end up in bed with a strange woman this week I'll let you know.)

*) I realize there's probably some obscure semantic difference between a coat and a leather jacket however to me they are all the same and I'll use the terms interchangeably from now on.

**) There's probably some werid pseudo-evolutionary thing going on here. Or maybe it is a sign of unintelligent design. I don't know.

If you liked my story on coats you might also like my tale about my new boots or my rant about socks. Whatever.

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love my Socks!
My good friend Jurjan and I have a sort of general rule about clothes. Whenever you want to buy them you have to take a half day off from work, trying to buy clothes in a weekend is futile, you'll just put it off till next week. Taking a half day off work means you actually have to go to the shops otherwise you're stealing from yourself. Kindof.

Which is all leading up to my new sock scheme. I have finally bitten the bullet and thrown out all my old socks and replaced them with brand new ones. They are all the same type and same shade of black so matching them up after they have been washed will become easy.
No more socks with holes, no more socks with loose elastic, no more unmatched socks!
I figure the 10 pair I bought will last me at least a year, after that I can just repeat the procedure.

Take charge of your life and do the same. Say no to the tyranny and oppression of sock-i-tude.

Edit: For more sock related thoughts check out the following blog: Socks: Bane of my Existance.

Zeldman on HTML email
Lovely piece by Zeldman on the obscenity of HTML email.

Even though it doesnít work right in many e-mail applications, and even though many users dislike it, HTML appeals to clients because itís another place to stick their logo. And it appeals to the kind of designer who thinks everything, even a bullet hurtling toward his own skull, would improve if decorated.

work work
Ah work.

Always good to come back after 5 weeks of holidays and start afresh. Unless of course your faculty has been rebuilding during the summer and on a whim decided to also do your room. Except they kinda sorta forgot to finish it so your room is empty and your stuff is parked somewhere random in a corridor.

So I went home but here the water is cut off so I am ignoring the pile of washing up I need to do and will pass my time by catching up on the mail.

In other news I ate a banana so my day is made.

Here is a funny banana related text from WoW I may not have mentioned yet:
Damp Diary Page (Day 87)
These months have given me time to ponder, to shuffle loose my old beliefs and bigotries. Alliance? Horde? Good? Evil? The meanings of these words, once so clear, now blur as my eyes gaze across the boundless sea.

I now know what matters. The bananas are after me.

Perched high in their tree, they eye me with cool malevolence. And the last one I tried to eat nearly gagged me! I could almost hear it scream as I smashed it, half bitten, on the sea rocks.

It's war, and I will win it.

This from Damp Diary Page (Day 87), there are 2 more but I haven't fished them up yet. Do a search for Damp Diary Page on Thotbott for the text if you like.

Broken as designed
We have Sharepoint at work. We are trying to use it for our intranet. The decision to go for Sharepoint was probably made by some managers after a long and taxing lunchbreak with some Microsoft representatives.

Tips for Enhancing the Accessibility of SharePoint Web Sites

Here's some choice quotes:
To modify the alternative text used for the Image Web Part on the Home page by replacing the Image Web Part with a Content Editor Web Part which basically says: ok, our image thingy you can use to quickly put an image on a page is fucked up so bad we recommend using another method entirely.

To add a Skip-to-Main content link (for example, in an AllItems.aspx page)
#1. Create a blank one-pixel image file named onepixel.gif...

Please don't make me go on.

Lovely quote:
As I ran through a series of regular-expression search-and-replace operations in my programmer text editor, I was dimly aware of the fact that I was exercising a freak talent.

Set my data free.

Complaining about the weather
Hah, I was joking around at the office about the sudden rainfall today when I realized that it might be good to complain somewhere officially about the weather. So off I went to the website of the KNMI, the official Dutch Weather Bureau.
Well what do you know? There is no complaints form anywhere on that site! Now where am I supposed to complain?

Duck Season
No, this is not about the brilliant mexican movie Temporada de patos (English title: Duck Season) in which a pizza delivery boy refuses to leave before being paid, despite him being a few seconds late, meaning the pizza should be free. It's about actual ducks.

Once again the elderly pair of ducks that frequent the square in front of the school I work at has returned, just as they do every year around this time. Every year these two ducks (a male and female couple) strut around the square pecking at breadcrumbs and basking in the sun. What makes these two so endearing is that they often walk up to people and stop just in front of them and start staring at people in the hopes of getting thrown a few crumbs. They are real characters and I love seeing them.

Spring is imminent, rejoice!

I always _knew_ the world revolved around me...
Pete of Rasterweb thinks that feedster is dead. I'm not into the whole podcast thingy so I didn't even know feedster was alive.

I visited Feedster and did an ego search. Well, whaddayaknow? Looking at the ads it seems the world is filled with a whole industry revolving around me.

Apparently there's some excellent Harold memorabilia to be gotten from Ebay, there's tours of my neighbourhood, a whole website devoted to my ancestry and even some excellent home and garden deals.

Feedster is alive I tell you. Alive!!!

Sometimes you make a mistake in copying and pasting that has interesting results. Today I was working on the website for a convention when I made an unfortunate error in copying only part of the logo of one of the partners.

I then went to look up the website for this partner (it's in HRM so it should have one) using Google. But as I had copied only a part of the name of this firm I went looking for "Hum". It turns out there are no firms called Hum, but there is a town called Hum. It's in Croatia and boasts about being the smallest town in the world. Population 23 it has a website found here:

Who's up for an expedition? :)

I shut down ssh, ftp and apache on my homemachine yesterday as I was getting simultaneously hammered by MSN's search engine and some scripts looking for open ports, eating up my bandwidth. But I've forgotten to start them again this morning. This means I can't publish my calendars via webdav, download files via ftp or leave myself a note on the desktop via shh.

I feel like I'm back in the dark ages.

Seasonal greetings
Say, who is that handsome snowman over there?

Blizzard has introduced some seasonal extras in WoW and here's a screenshot of me wishing you all some pleasant days from the frozen lands of Winterspring.

Pretty dumb
My bank has instituted a pretty dumb security measure for online payments.
Whenever I make an payment online I have to enter a unique 5 digit security code. I have been given a list of 50 numbers by my bank and whenever they are all used I get a new batch sent to me.
When this scheme first came out I just had to enter the next unused number on the list, however they have now changed this so I have to use a random unused number from the list. So for my previous payment I had to use number 47, next time I might have to use number 23. This is supposedly for my protection and online security.

I may be dumb but I somehow fail to see why this is more secure than using number 19 after number 18. Both methods depend on a person having physical access to a list of numbers. If you have a list of numbers why is it more secure to use number 47 instead of number 19?
Someone somewhere thought this up and lots of people were involved in communicating and implementing this. I have to question the sanity of those involved though. Surely someone could have seen that the whole system falls apart when a fraudster actually has access to the list of 50 numbers. Am I missing something here?

A blow against capitalism
Today I got a fizzy drink from the machine and instead of giving me one it gave me two.
This is a giant blow against globalisation and capitalism in general and the Coca Cola Company in particular.

Rejoice comrades.

A nation of crackpots
The Bad Astronomer is rambling about the debate in America about teaching Intelligent Design along with evolutionary theory in biology class. He says "Purveyors of ID are stifling our children, killing their future, and literally destroying the chances our country has in being a player in the biotechnical industry that will become the biggest business of the 21st century."

I don't think it's that bad. America has always been seen as a nation of crackpots by us europeans. Yet we still recognise America is leading the world with industrial achievement. America's politics may occasionally make us ashamed to belong to the same species* but we'll still buy their products.

*) insert joke about 'intelligent' design here

I just got an email from Orkut, the social network site no one ever visits again after signing up. Apparantly some insane person in Brazil has created a community of people called Harold and has invited me. Very kind, however I don't speak Portugese so I guess I won't join.

Why do people do things like this? What next? A community of people with 'von' in their name?

Steal this idea
I just got an excellent idea for a mockumentary, so I'm throwing it out here on the internets in the hope that someone will make this.
Band-aid people: a look at the cult of body art using band-aids.

Possibly starring Rick Mayall and Adrian Edmundson?

Nothing much to say
Please excuse my recent lack of updates. Thing is I'm pretty tired most days after work and World of Warcraft takes up pretty much all the rest of my time.

To tide you over here's a link to both Abhorrence demos. The Vulgar Nectrolatry demo has been one of my all time favorite death metal demos, but recently Jim of Notes of Chaos fame, who's a regular around here, pointed me to the second one.
Cool stuff.

In other news I'm regretting not being a betting man as my employer has indeed decided to use Microsoft's Content Management System instead of Smartsite. On the other hand who would have bet against that decision? We'll see how it goes.

A Gazillion invites
I've got about a gazillion gmail invites. If you want one (if only to see what all the hoohah about XMLHTTPRequest is about) give me a shout (use the mailform or leave your contact details in the form below).

Heck, you can always use it as 1 Gig of remote storage.

Podcasting introduction
Personally I'm extremely underwhelmed by the whole podcasting thing. It might be because I dislike radio or something in my childhood.

Anyway, here's a small (Real format) video introduction on podcasting. The video won't make me listen to podcasts but it's is pretty funny. As the author says: there's geodesic dome humor in there.

In Dreams
Well I thought I had a weird dream last week wherein someone stole my 30 Gb iPod and replaced it with an iPod Shuffle (and I hate randomness). This nights dream takes the cookie though. Tonight I dreamt I was a Pez Dispenser. I'm not sure what this means, though I did seem to be leading a full and happy life with missus Pez.

Curiouser and curiouser.

This has gone far enough. I simply cannot take it any longer!

I have become so used to pressing the Escape key to dismiss dialogs that I'm constantly pressing Escape when on the PC at work. Of course this is futile. Windows simply does not accept the fact that the Escape key is equivalent to the Cancel button.

Something needs to be done about this gross lack of consistency.

The little people
For the past week I've had these little people inside my skull beating on the back of my brain with their little hammers.
This is because I'm addicted to coffee and have stopped drinking it to calm my nerves. Seeing as the weeks leading up to the christmas holidays were pretty hectic I started getting health problems. I had these same problems a year or two ago and I had to make some changes in my mental state to cope with stress.
That's all in the past now, but the little people insist on coffee and I can't give it to them. I need to stay calm and relaxed and coffee simply does not help at this stage. What's amazing is the dependancy regular coffee drinkers have on the stuff. Withdrawal symptoms are mostly confined to a dull pounding at the back of the skull but if this continues for more than a week you'll get pretty tired of it, I can tell you.

So shut up little goblins! Just accept this nice honeyflavoured herbal beverage I'm supplying you with.

Still Windows-less
I collect dead stuff. My study is littered with dead technology. Ancient Macs that still work if a monitor or some-such would be attached, broken stereo equipment, an ancient SCSI scanner that could possibly be attached to an ancient Mac, thought there would be no way to attach said Mac to my current Macs.

It's a disease. Recently I expanded my collection with an ancient Laser printer. According to the guy I got it from it should work in OS X, with the help of a special G-Port device. This device takes the place of the modem and provides a serial port that connects to the printer. The G-Port was included.

Unfortunately the printer works via the localtalk protocol and this protocol is not supported by OS X. I can print, but I have to reboot in Mac OS 9 to do so.

Ah well, it didn't cost me anything and there's still room.

Yesterday I received another piece of dead technology. Only this time it's software (and therefore doesn't take more space than a CD-ROM) and is the latest and greatest.
I work in Dutch education and most of my software comes from Surf, the Dutch IT Provider for higher education. They do most of the licensing negotiations with big names. They then provide software dirt cheap. How does a legal copy of Macromedia Studio MX 2004 for 16 euros sound? Pretty cool eh? Beat that filthy spammers. So this week I ordered Microsoft Office 2004 Professional.

I already owned the regular version but the Professional version comes with Virtual PC. According to Microsoft Virtual PC comes with Windows XP Professional. Sounds good, only Windows is not included in the deal as I found out when I installed it. Fair enough I thought, lets order it.
Then I found out that I can only buy upgrades to Windows, meaning I have to have a different version of Windows before I can install a newer version. It appears that Surf can only sell upgrades and not the full version. For regular PC people this shouldn't be too much of a problem as virtually all PCs come with a copy of Windows. But if you're using Virtual PC you did not buy your hardware with a copy of Windows and you are therefore not eligible for an upgrade!

I've asked Surf for clarification but it looks like I now have yet more dead technology on my hands.

I just got back from the graduation -and celebration thereof- of my old friend René, only to find that apparently we had a powerfailure last night. I was greeted by flashing clocks and whatnot, which is adding to my confusion (I slept about four hours last night on a couch).

On the good side I finally saw that the "restart after a powerfailure" in the OS X System Preferences works as advertised.

So I'm trying to stay awake until I can get to bed at a reasonable hour. If I go to sleep now I'll wake up at eleven and not be able to fall sleep until I have to get to work tomorrow.

So I'm catching up on email and RSS. Here's a funny story about a girl named Wendy meeting a psychic called Shirly, via science fiction author Charlie Stross.

Among the many millions of things I can't draw, zookeepers do figure.
I can relate.

After about eight years "hard studying" my good old friend René is finally through with his studies. He'll get his degree on the 14th of December.

Besides being a fully qualified astronomer he's also a quite phenomenal photographer.
He made one of the most beautiful pictures I've ever seen. The picture below portrays a couple of mummified spiders in a cellar somewhere in France, photographed with a red filter and turned upside down for dramatic effect. Not unlike the Star Wars scene where the Millennium Falcon soars through a gutter in the Death Star.

I'll ask his permission to post high resolution versions of the entire series.

Here's to René.

How to buy a digital camera
A while ago I lamented my lack of knowledge on all things camera to some friends when discussing the possibility of buying one for the occasional snap.
I am one of those people who almost never takes photographs (I don't even have a camera anymore) and knows next to nothing about all the technical mumbo-jumbo.

Luckily today's TidBits has an article on this subject that clearly explains all the voodoo involved. Must read this more thoroughly tonight, if only to see what all these terms mean.

Please forgive me my recent lack of updates to this here site.
I am not dead, in fact I am quite alive.
Thing is I've been pretty busy lately at work dealing with some IT projects that needed a lot of coaxing to put them on track or at the very least some major damage control.

As such I've been too tired to think or even to post when at home. Instead I've been snuggling up on the couch with the entire Anita Blake series by Laurell K. Hamilton.

If you're into vampires, tension and Plucky Psycho Bitches from Hell™ you'll enjoy this series.

To top off all the busy-ness we went to a whiskey tasting last weekend and if you're into fine whiskeys I'd highly recommend the 37 year old Bruichladdich. Without a doubt the best glass of whiskey I've ever head.
It may cost and arm and a leg but no-one said they had to be your own extremities. Heck, just take them from your friends, what are they there for?

Peculiar people
The Scots are weird people.

Take this photo for instance of a McCondom vending machine that's in nearly all the men's rooms in scottish pubs and which we photographed on our trip there.

I particularly like the warning: "WARNING: do NOT drive while using this product". 'Nuff said.

Random thought of the day
A person following a group of primates in a forest is called a scientist or primatologist.

A person following a group of people is called a reporter or documentary maker.


Buzzy azzzz a bee
Please don't expect many updates this week.
I'm back at work, playing RuneScape (look for Ricully_42) and reading BBEdit release notes (developers take note: this is the kind of detail customers like me want to see).

New boots
Today I finally bought a new pair of boots. For the last fourteen years I've worn nothing but army boots and it is a pleasure to once again have some new boots because the soles of the old ones were falling apart from wear and tear*. I do about four years on average with a pair and I bought these new ones at the same place where I bought two out of three of my previous pairs, the Army dump here in Utrecht on the Blauwkapelseweg. Still staffed by the same wizened old lady who was already past her retirement age when I bought my first pair here in Utrecht twelve years ago. When I left I bid her farewell and told her I'd see her in four years' time. She smiled and said she might not be around then but I have a feeling she will be.

*) I feel almost an inch taller with these new boots and there's a spring in my step.

I believe this is the model I've bought: Sentinal M400, sounds like something from the movies.

A Forgotten Itch
I had forgotten that when you are sunburnt and after a few days the strips of old skin are peeled off the new skin itches like mad.
Never actively peel away the old skin, no matter how satisfying this may seem, just let the old skin fall away and resist the temptation to emulate an arthropod by actively wriggling out of it.

Today's tip was brought to you by an extremely sleepy and itchy Harold who is up at this godforsaken hour to catch an early train and then an early flight into Edinburgh (Scotland), as the Virtual Pet Rock tour shirt directs.

Public Domain Images
OK, I'm filing this under Ramblings as there's imagery involved that could potentially be useful for some project or other, but this is tenuous at best. It should go into the Photo category, except there isn't one and I'm not about to start a new category just for this one entry.

Public domain photos. This link leads to page two of the search results for 'rocks', which includes some lovely sliding rocks. There's loads of good pictures on the site.

For what it's worth here's a link to the researcher's site that tracked these rocks using GPS. Each rock is given it's own name (female) and it's own website, though they were last updated in 1996. Fascinating stuff.

On banana-y goodness
Good grief. Will the endless amounts of spam and unsolicited commercial e-mail never stop?

Actually, sometimes you get a good one. Today I got an e-mail asking to include a link to an e-card site. Apparently August 27th has been named Banana Lover's day. Blatant commercialism of course. But in this case I can approve as Bananas rule OOOk.

Get your e-cards here:

Speaking about bananas: we from the OOOk Default: team proudly host the site of Gina, the banana stripper. Expect to see more of her and some of her friends Real Soon.

Addendum to madness
In the title of my post about the dogs abused for smuggling I was referring to a quote from Monty Python.
Here's the wav file I since found on the web.

John Cleese is actually a lot more contained than I remember it.

It makes me mad!!!
This is probably the sickest news I've heard in a long time: Labrador survives drug smuggling.

Still, you gotta love the fact that the surving dog is now in a witness protection scheme.

Things you shouldn't really say
Things you probably shouldn't say to a female colleague who's calling you on your free day with a server-problem include "Hold on, I'll put you on your back" before you walk to your computer to see if you can access the machine via FTP.

Q and A time
It's answer day here at Harold's home.

Q: How do I make spare time for myself?
A: Your spare time is precious. Be careful how you spend it. Work is a means to an end, ie. supporting your spare-time. Work yourself to death and you won't have enjoyed yourself.

Q: Am I schozoid? (Dutch query)
A: The internet is a poor place to self-diagnose. Visit a professional if you're really worried. If people suggest you do this it's probably because they're after you. If you believe this make haste.

Q: tail log for item
A: tail /var/log/httpd/error_log | grep "error" will look for the word error in the last 10 lines of my apache error log. If you need more use tail -n 100... for the last 100 lines. Substitute the path to the logfile and the word to search for where appropriate. if still can't figure it out use man tail and man grep. If you don't understand those seek out a dedicated forum and ask around.

Q: what is a siterip
A: It's when someone steals your design and/or content.
There's a beta of CopyScape which will allow you to see who's using your content, though it's still sadly lacking.

Q: NSURLRequest example
A: BYOB: Build your own browser.

Q: are rocks alive
A: Of course they are, what a strange question...

Q: harold bakker
A: Rejoice, you have found me. Rest awhile and look around.

Look at the pretty pictures
It's not often I'm stunned by photos. My friends will attest to my loathing of the things. I can barely sit through pictures of anyone or anything, no matter how well I know the maker or how respected they are in the art community. Yet sometimes there comes a photo that simply takes your breath away.

Jim (of Notes of Chaos fame, check it out if you don't know it) links to this photo, saying: possibly the best single shot of trees ever.

I think I agree. The photo is stunning. There's loads of beautiful pictures there. I particularly like this one: Do not harass the alligators.

You should never harass an alligator. Don't harass the alligator for he will be forced to eat you, out of sheer annoyance. You wouldn't want to eat someone yourself because you're annoyed would you?

Do unto others...

When I was a kid I would have loved to have a toy like this: Implosion Toy. Sadly no real explosives, but I'm sure a reasonably smart kid can get some firecrackers or something and make his own. (I know I would have.)

Dinos roaming the earth
As reported on Slashdot there's a dinosaur loose on White island. It can be seen in the lower left of this webcam shot.

What struck me when I saw this is the remakable resemblence to the dinosaur we at OOOk Default: used in the production of the following stopmotion movie: Dinodance.
I would go further and posit that it is in fact the same dinosaur.

Which brings up the interesting question of where my dino is at now. Last I looked it was at my friend Jurjan's house and he went to New Zealand some time ago.

Jurjan, where's my freaking dino?

[Edit: here's a cached image in case the webcam is in the dark.]

read this or the stupid fox gets it
Tired of that old fox jumping over the moon when you look at a font-sample to see whether a font would be useful for your project?

Take a look at this list of pangrams on Typofile.

Hark! Toxic jungle water vipers quietly drop on zebras for meals!
They don't come much better than this.

In unrelated weblinkage here's a ransom note generator as linked via The Librarian In Black.

[Update: category changed to Ramblings and more linkage]
Damn, why was I born on Peanut Butter Lover's Day while I'm terribly allergic to the damned things?
I wish I was born on "If Pets Had Thumbs Day", or, even better: "Panic Day". That would be most excellent!

Problems come in threes
Ooooh dear.

I got my new harddisk yesterday and what a bummer it turned out to be. I didn't read the description well enough so now I'm the proud owner of a serial ATA device which doesn't work in my Mac as it only accepts regular ATA. (problem 1) Silly me, I just noticed the ATA part and failed to see the "serial" stuff. The first I noticed was when I had screwed in the drive and was looking at the cableconnectors. Oooh dear.

As the drive was already out of it's packaging I have no hope in hell of returning it. Oh dear.

So I did some research and it turned out that serial ATA is quite a nice technology, kind of like SCSI combined with ATA, but without the hassles of jumpers, terminators, SCSI id's, conflicts etc. It also has a datatransfer of about 150 MB a second, which is quite nice, so using the drive would lead to a big bonus in speed.

So I had to order a serial ATA PCI card which would allow me to take advantage of this newfangled technology. Unfortunately this card is not available in Holland so I've ordered it from Germany and I have no idea when it will arrive.

But wait! There's more bad news (I did say problems come in threes).

During the process of installing the new hard drive my startup disk crashed. Big time. I was finally able to mount the disk and in the process of saving some data to the iBook the disk crashed again. (problem 2)

To make matters even worse the crash led to an incredible amount of corruption on the iBook so it too, has major problems. (problem 3)

After a good night's sleep I have finally been able to mount the iBook's disk using FireWire target disk mode but disk utility is unable to save either the iBook's disk or the primary drive in the G4.
So after reformating the primary drive I'm now salvaging what I can from the iBook before reformatting that too.

Ah well, worse things happen at sea. (Or so I'm told.)

Anyway, when all this is over and the new drive is finally attached I will have some good things come out of this: the new drive will work next to my already installed drives (even though I won't trust the old primary drive with irreplaceable data any time soon) and it also accepts a second serial ATA drive giving me loads of potential space.
Back to the data rescue...

Storage Sweet Storage
I ordered a brand-new 120 Gb hard-disk yesterday, more or less on whim. I was clearing up some old stuff and archiving a few installers etc. to cd-rom and after doing all that I noticed I was still low on disk-space*. Added to that I was thinking that I wanted to rip my classical music to disk too. I hardly ever listen to it, but then when I do want to it's just too much of a hassle to walk to the stack, search for what I want and put it in the dvd player. So much easier if it's already in iTunes, just a couple of clicks away.

The new hard-disk will be replacing my trusty old Maxtor Diamond Max 20 Gig drive (it's a Diamond Max as well, just bigger and with more cache). I can still remember buying that drive in May 1998 and hell was it expensive**, I paid around 1000 dutch guilders for it (around 450 euro or 540 american dollars). This drive will set me back just shy of 130 euro, including shipping and tax (which I believe wasn't included in the 20 gig's price).

The addition will mean that my 20 gig will have to find a new home and that the current primary 60 gig drive will become the secondary drive, giving me a total storage of 180 gigs on the desktop.

Dave Shea, he of Zen Garden fame, figures 5 petabytes is all he'll ever need. I'm with him. Although 5 petabytes sounds like a lot, given the speed with which programs seem to grow in size, and the increasing amount of digital media we accumulate I'm sure future generations will laugh at this amount, just like we today smile about our first commodore system that used a tapedrive for storage.

*) Apple recommends keeping 10% free on your primary disk, and as the guy who does the support for Virtual Pet Rock I agree. If OS X gets too low on free disk space Random Stuff Happens™ and prefs get corrupted, or wiped completely, left and right, seemingly at random.
**) I paid for that drive with my holiday money and stayed at home that year, this was at the time that I just got my current job after two years of unemployment.
On a related note yesterday was the day that my reduction in hours took effect. I'm now working 32 hours a week, giving me the entire friday off, to hang around, watch bad movies, read and maybe learn a new language. I had meant to learn Python but after seeing some posts around the web I'm not sure anymore that Python's for me, it looks too much like a real programming language and my strength is more in the rapid development scripting languages, so I might just brush up on my Perl. But that's the beauty of a free day: you can do what you want.

Saucy flirt
Found while looking through system.log:
Apr 27 19:28:20 Angua kernel: en0: promiscuous mode enabled
Apr 27 19:28:24 Angua kernel: en0: promiscuous mode disabled
Apr 27 19:28:28 Angua kernel: en1: promiscuous mode enabled
Apr 27 19:31:36 Angua kernel: en1: promiscuous mode disabled
Apr 27 19:31:47 Angua kernel: en1: promiscuous mode enabled
Apr 27 19:32:03 Angua kernel: en1: promiscuous mode disabled
Apr 27 19:45:52 Angua kernel: en1: promiscuous mode enabled
Apr 27 19:49:19 Angua kernel: en1: promiscuous mode disabled

It looks like my iBook is getting around.

Bizarre font: Sex 'n' Crime.

Via: endquote.

New Oven
Meet my new cooking oven thing.

If something explodes in Utrecht, The Netherlands in the next few days either I've not fitted the gas properly and my house blew up or I've exploded while eating too much while learning how to be a domestic goddess.

Boring? Not really.
You know you have too much fun at work when you're doing one the most boring things ever (writing documentation) and having the greatest time because you're alone in the room (normally shared with two other people of a non-metallic disposition) and you have to keep yourself from screaming along with the lyrics to Bal Sagoth's The Chronicle of Shadows.

By the way: for those curious and not in the know, I'm not aware of ever having liberated a virgin of the burden of her maidenhood. I believe maidens, like damsels, became extinct somewhere in the middle of the sixteenth century.
It's probably to do with all these gallant princes prancing about, killing dragons left and right with no concern about the environment, natural balance, harmony and habitats. Not to mention the fact that I believe dragons ate unicorns, leading to an ecological inbalance. And everyone knows unicorns have weird intentions with virgins right?

Actually I believe quite a number of things, not all of them at the same time or even necessarily true...

(Welcome to the new layout.)

Way cool

Loads of things to update you all on.
First of all the site I was working on (I wrote about it yesterday when discussing pure CSS links) is online and barring any unforseen happenings like last minute changes of heart is more or less finished. Take a peek if you're so inclined.

Second: The replacement for my iBook's lost rubber foot has arrived in a goodiebag straight from Apple's Irish plant in Cork. As an added bonus I actually received three replacements and some metal screw hoopla's (see the PDF in my previous post for pictures).
The package took it's time getting here so I guess Apple had to start an entire production line especially for me.
I must admit to a little shame however as this weekend when cleaning the house I located the missing foot, so I now have three spares for when I actually do need one (I suspect Apple's stockprice will take a deep dive because of this unwitting fraudulence on my part).

Third: Barcode Yourself.

An interesting coincidence
This evening I went out for dinner with my good friends Jurjan and Joke and during the course of the evening the subject of Linux on the Desktop was mentioned. To be short none of us believe this is really likely to happen in the foreseeable future.

When I came home the following appeared in my aggregator of choice (happy birthday to NetNewsWire by the way): Linux Under the Desktop.

Sure there'll always be a few (or even quite a few) hackers with a spare PC around that like to fiddle with commandline interfaces and .conf files and sudo chmod 755 but most computer-users just need to get things done and meet that deadline.

I believe this article (and even my own site) illustrates a point about Mac OS X and it's continuing acceptance amongst the tech elite: it's a system that allows you to get your job done and will still allow you to fiddle in that free moment that's inevitable to crop up, if you're so inclined. OS X might not be the perfect system yet for those involved in audio or graphics but it's advancing extremely rapidly. And as for webdevelopment, there is, of course, no contest (please enter obligatory reference and linkage to BBEdit, Apache, MySQL and PHP (BAMP?) yourself as I've already put more links in here than usual).

iBook rubber feet
According to Apple Support the rubber feet that are underneath an iBook are marked as "consumable", meaning you'll have to pay to receive a new one if it inadvertently gets lost, as has happened to me.

The friendly guy at Apple support will mail a new one free of charge though, so not all is lost. I still wonder, however, who ate the front-left rubber foot of my iBook and how it tasted.

Iconfinder General
I came up with an idea for which I haven't got the time but would like to see nonetheless. I'm hereby dontating it to the world in the hope that someone who's less lazy will steal it.

Iconfinder General
Ever see a screenshot of somene's desktop and you're wondering what that odd-looking icon does? Well, so do I. Hop to it! Create an online database where people can upload gif files and add a description, including OS, version number etc.
Ideally this should have multiple ways to identify an icon, one of which would be like those determination tables biologists use when identifying a plant.

1. Is the icon round? Yes, go to 10.
10. Is it green? Yes, go to 12.
12. Does it have a letter in the icon? Yes, go to 15.
15. Is the letter a d? Yes, go to 20.
20. Macromedia Dreamweaver MX (Mac, Windows):

I'm sure you see the potential.
By the way: a colleage told me that her jpeg pictures now have the icon of a squashed frog. Anyone know which program this refers to?

End of the year stuff
At the end of the year two small things.

First of all I've finished ripping the audio for Exodus live at Dynamo Open Air 1988: Enjoy!.

And on this final day of the year I've also found the bestest error dialog ever:

I say we party. (Even those called Brendan.)

Not dead
Just a small note to let everyone know I'm not dead.
I'm still waiting for my iBook but it should arrive on monday. To prevent me from having a frothing-at-the-mouth/cataclysmic nervous breakdown due to iBook delivery hell Blizzard has taking pity upon me and released the much anticipated update to Warcraft 3: The Frozen Throne, featuring episodes two and three of the Orc Campaign. I started the second campaign late yesterday and played for an hour or so before going to bed and the campaign rocks. There are some ultra heavy creeps right at the start and this promises good stuff.

As if that weren't enough it looks like the ask Garret site has been upadted a bti. Grate Stuff!!.

Stainable Situations
Crap. I ordered a new 1 GHz iBook last week and according to the ever immaculate Crazy Apple Rumors site it suffers from stainable situations.

I'm hoping the lack of airport in my configuration will shield me from the worst of this problem.

In happier news I think I have finally "tracked down" the oddness on this here front-page, seen most often when using Firebird or Opera. It's all very comp'licated stuff having to do with margins, widths, percentages and long words, quite hard to put an exact finger on it, but I've figured out a new design for the frontpage that will remove the right column, move it's contents down into the left column and make everybody happy. The cool thing is that it requires only a small edit of my template file, using some fairly clever optional regions and dependencies between them. There's a lot of power there. I'll be testing the new design thoroughly this week and roll out the new homepage if I'm completely happy.

Dutch traditions for all you foreigners
Wintertime is here. And while I may not like the weather too much there are also some perks.

This means it's time for traditional dutch cooking. (Erwtensoep, boerenkool and hutspot to name but a few. For extra goodness add a full teaspoon of sambal to your gravy) and put Viking Music on the iPod when cycling to work.

Faraway friends
I just got a message from old friend Dirk who's in Zambia, working for the VSO as a Maths teacher in a teacher's College.
(The VSO is a volunteer service that sends people instead of money out to developing countries.)

Dirk has a website (Dutch only I'm afraid) where he tells about his experiences. If you can read Dutch I suggest you give it a visit: Dirk Koolmees.

Dirk, if you're reading this: I'll get some airmail stationary and write you a good long letter.

By the way, for those who can't read Dutch, fear not!: here's a piece Dirk and I wrote in a hungover state of mind long ago when we were students and living in the same house: Temporarily moodshifts

Loads of things are happening, almost none of them related to webdesign.

First of all I'd like to say that I have just decided today wil be known as memory day. I got a bizarre phonecall from someone who was in primary school with me around twenty years ago. I've been kinda dazed all evening. Looks like she managed to track almost all the people I was in class with and we might have a reunion some day soon. The bizarre thing is that she managed to track me at all and that she named all these names of people who I knew yet have no recollection of whatsoever. (Well, mentioning the names brought something back, but yeesh, I haven't thought about that period in my life in ages. If anyone reading this went to "De Hobbitstee" in Alphen a/d Rijn and "graduated" in 1982 drop a note.)

Then to top it off I decided to play around a bit with the new Eudora that's just out and decided to check the e-mail account of my previous job. (I still work for the same institution, only at a different faculty, hence a new adress.) Turns out I can still access it and still get some relevant mail. I just hope these people didn't expect an answer back in july or they must think I'm the laziest bum around. (They would, of course, be correct, but they oughtn't to know that!)

To celebrate the elevation of today to memory day I have put Candlemass' Black Sabbath Medley on loop in iTunes. I have also been reading Calvin and Hobbes. Great stuff, Hobbes is God.

So what about the newsscript I hear cry from somewhere back in the crowd. Good question. I'll get back to you on that later if you don't mind.

To tide you over here's a fun link that will tell you more about jellyfish than you thought you wanted to know:

If you were a jellyfish, what would you eat? I'd eat Pizza but listen to this: Jellyfish eat small animals such as shrimp and plankton.

Damn straight, I'd eat pizza too.

By the way: if anyone is willing to betatest the new version of my newsscript/blogthingy (that powers what you're reading now by the way) give me a holler. Applicants without PHP/MySQL need not apply. As an incentive all betatesters will receive a free copy of the new version. This is just as free as the version other people will get but you'll feel so much better because your download will be personally blessed by me. That's right, turns out I have an alter ego that has connections up high.

Librarians are often sexy
I was going to write a scorching review of the article on Ars Technica called Mac Browser Smackdown, mostly because the author doesn't seem to get iCab and uses some extremely vague criteria for evaluating software.
However, after reading the comments on the Ars Technica forum I decided not to bother. Most of my comments have been said already. I'll just point out that the author seems to think that Cocoa is the only way to develop OS X native software. John Gruber of Daring Fireball fame as written some lovely rants about that, which I'll just point you to: Daring Fireball: I Would Not Feel So All Alone.

With that out of the way I'll point all of you to the following that was featured in the latest b3ta newsletter (B3TA : NEWSLETTER : ISSUE 102):

>> Libraries are cool <<
This is a lovely celebration of all that is cool
about libraries, sent to us by a proud mate of the
creator. The electroclash/lo-fi music and Jet Set
Willy references make this fucking ace.


SCO vs Big Blue and the rest of us

A friend in XHTML 1.1 (strict)
Not to be outdone by my move to valid XHTML 1.0 Transitional my good friend Jurjan has updated his own site to XHTML 1.1.

There's not much on the site yet but I suggest a visit anyway to encourage him to expand his site.

Who knows, he might respond with a nice article or tutorial about cocoa or something.

RSS rocks
RSS rocks.
In fact it rocks so much that I felt obliged to harass Jack Miller of As the Apple Turns to provide us faithful viewers with an RSS feed of the site. Image my surprise when less than 24 hours after my sending this message I got a reply stating that AtAT has offered an RSS feed for over a year. It is almost impossible to find through the site but for those who'd like it here is the url: (I hope Jack doesn't mind me posting this...)

Monkey Business
From the BBC: A bizarre experiment by a group of students has found monkeys cannot write Shakespeare. Full article.

Should have picked the right simian.

More weird news:

94 year late book returned to library.

Kapitein Brander
For all those who can read Dutch: I have recently discovered an old writing about the infamous Kapitein Brander (Captain Brander) in one of the darker recesses of my harddrive.
It is an intermezzo between the first series and a second series, of which I have one episode completed with a vague idea of where the stoy is going.
I have put up the intermezzo here (warning: it's in Dutch), I will try to flesh out the story and put it online in the coming months. I will also see if I can the Kapitein Brander stories transated to English as I think there are quite a few people out there who like the absurd writings of R.A. Lafferty and these stories are heavily influenced by him.
For the moment this might be a good time to learn Dutch.

Frog animation
Wooo, just created my first flash movie. This movie was inspired by the recent Photoshop this Frog challenge the guys at B3TA ran (lovely site, visit the mainpages or the messageboard chock-full of weird images). It's on a seperate server because of space constraints.
It's an epic romantic thriller featuring a frog chasing a 50's style pinup girl getting rescued by superman (the girl, that is). It has smooches, it has suspence. It's got panache, it's got grindcore music with frog sounds in it. It's 400k worth of humor. Available in all flash enabled webbrowsers near you.

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