Thursday Sep 11, 2008

whispering stars: "Henry Story, splashdown successful"

newspaper article from a german speaking newspaper

My Viennese cousins pointed me to this article from Die Krone the largest selling Austrian news paper.

Minnie Driver, 38, just became a mother. The child is healthy boy of 5kg, named Henry Story. The Actress is still quiet about the name of the Father. "He will look after the child, even though I will not marry him, but everyone is happy", said Driver.
Did those physicist already do that experiment in Switzerland that could bring about a black hole?

Wednesday Aug 27, 2008

my blog is worth $49,114.98

According to Dan Carlson's program my blog is worth 49thousand dollars. That's nothing next to Tim Bray's who's coming up for 700thousand dollars. Of course Dan Carlson is a big winner in all this, because everybody is linking to his site, so his just keeps growing. He is now at 2 million by his own estimate which has something to do with with some AOL deal a few years ago.

My blog is worth $49,114.98.
How much is your blog worth?

Now would I sell my blog for a new car?

As with a new car you'd have to be a bit careful how you sell your site. Tim Brays is worth $693,819.66 . But [notice the trailing slash] is worth $375,983.64 . So is Tim's site worth the sum of both, 1 million?

Thursday Aug 14, 2008

the semantic web is somebody else's problem

It is odd how few people notice the Semantic Web, even though it is being developed in the most open manner possible by the W3C and being deployed around the world. That is because it is Somebody Else's problem. Here is a section from the Book 3 of the Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy on this very strange phenomena. Arthur and Ford are watching a very well attended cricket match at Lord's cricket Ground in England, when Arthur notices something about Ford Perfect, who has a lot of experience traveling in the galaxy.

"Something's on your mind, isn't it?" said Arthur.

"I think," said Ford in a tone of voice which Arthur by now recognized as one which presaged something utterly unintelligible, "that there's an SEP over there."

He pointed. Curiously enough, the direction he pointed in was not the one in which he was looking. Arthur looked in the one direction, which was towards the sight-screens, and in the other which was at the field of play. He nodded, he shrugged. He shrugged again.

"A what?" he said.

"An SEP."

"An S ...?"

"... EP."

"And what's that?"

"Somebody Else's Problem."

"Ah, good," said Arthur and relaxed. He had no idea what all that was about, but at least it seemed to be over. It wasn't.

"Over there," said Ford, again pointing at the sight-screens and looking at the pitch.

"Where?" said Arthur.

"There!" said Ford.

"I see," said Arthur, who didn't.

"You do?" said Ford.

"What?" said Arthur.

"Can you see," said Ford patiently, "the SEP?"

"I thought you said that was somebody else's problem."

"That's right."

Arthur nodded slowly, carefully and with an air of immense stupidity.

"And I want to know," said Ford, "if you can see it."

"You do?"


"What," said Arthur, "does it look like?"

"Well, how should I know, you fool?" shouted Ford. "If you can see it, you tell me."

Arthur experienced that dull throbbing sensation just behind the temples which was a hallmark of so many of his conversations with Ford. His brain lurked like a frightened puppy in its kennel. Ford took him by the arm.

"An SEP," he said, "is something that we can't see, or don't see, or our brain doesn't let us see, because we think that it's somebody else's problem. That's what SEP means. Somebody Else's Problem. The brain just edits it out, it's like a blind spot. If you look at it directly you won't see it unless you know precisely what it is. Your only hope is to catch it by surprise out of the corner of your eye."

"Ah," said Arthur, "then that's why ..."

"Yes," said Ford, who knew what Arthur was going to say.

"... you've been jumping up and ..."


"... down, and blinking ..."


"... and ..."

"I think you've got the message."

"I can see it," said Arthur, "it's a spaceship."

A little further it is revealed that the spaceship uses some very clever technology to make this work:

The second strangest thing about the ship was watching the Somebody Else's Problem field at work. They could now clearly see the ship for what it was simply because they knew it was there. It was quite apparent, however, that nobody else could. This wasn't because it was actually invisible or anything hyper-impossible like that. The technology involved in making anything invisible is so infinitely complex that nine hundred and ninety-nine thousand million, nine hundred and ninety-nine million, nine hundred and ninety-nine thousand, nine hundred and ninety-nine times out of a billion it is much simpler and more effective just to take the thing away and do without it.


The Somebody Else's Problem field is much simpler and more effective, and what's more can be run for over a hundred years on a single torch battery. This is because it relies on people's natural disposition not to see anything they don't want to, weren't expecting, or can't explain. If Effrafax had painted the mountain pink and erected a cheap and simple Somebody Else's Problem field on it, then people would have walked past the mountain, round it, even over it, and simply never have noticed that the thing was there.

And this is precisely what was happening with Slartibartfast's ship. It wasn't pink, but if it had been, that would have been the least of its visual problems and people were simply ignoring it like anything.

The most extraordinary thing about it was that it looked only partly like a spaceship with guidance fins, rocket engines and escape hatches and so on, and a great deal like a small upended Italian bistro.

So there.

You have to believe it to see it. And of course when it does become visible, it will seem so very like other things that have existed before.

Tuesday Apr 22, 2008

history meme

For an hour or so I managed to forget that I had a lot of work to do. Catching up with my unread posts on my blogroll, I came across Tim Bray's History Meme post, and decided to try it out. So here are my results:

hjs@bblfish:0$ history | tr -s ' ' | cut -d ' ' -f 3 | sort | uniq -c | sort -rn | head -n 10
  115	ls 
   65	cd 
   60	ant
   42	vi 
   42	less 
   20	fg 
   17	cwm 
   15	svn 
   14	pwd 
    9	top 

ant is of course the build tool I use. I once laughed at the unintuitiveness of vi, but I later discovered it stands for virus - you just can't stop using it. cwm is the semantic web swiss army knife written in python: incredibly useful for every day semantic web hacking. And svn is the subversion command line client: I love subversion. When coding of course I spend a lot of time in either IntelliJ or NetBeans, depending on the day.

I have a number of other shells open, and the same commands tend to appear in them. Often the unix find command does. So I thought I'd try seeing what I get when I enlarge the list:

hjs@bblfish:0$ history | tr -s ' ' | cut -d ' ' -f 3 | sort | uniq -c | sort -rn | head -n 20
 113 ls
  55 vi
  54 cd
  36 less
  36 ant
  21 cwm
  20 fg
  16 pwd
  12 svn
   9 top
   9 find
   9 exit
   8 ping
   7 ssh
   7 killall
   7 defaults
   7 curl
   7 bc
   6 bzcat
   5 fink

Wednesday Dec 05, 2007

Life is Champagne

It's full of bubbles

VIDEO CLIP: Here comes another bubble, performed by the Richter Scales -- you may be using a browser that does not display the flash shockwave content. You can test this by trying to view it directly on youtube. If you can watch other videos there with this browser, then let me know, it may be that the link is dead.

Thanks to Matt Hempey and The Richter Scales

Tuesday Nov 13, 2007

1.5 versus 1.6

picture of band at Grazie Dio in Sao Paulo

No this is not a post about Java, but about the difference between drinking one caipirinha followed by 5 tequilas and one caipirinha followed by 6 tequilas. Yesterday I donated a few brain cells to humanity to investigate this issue.

I am in Sao Paulo, Brazil for my brother Nick's wedding with the beautiful Isabelle. This will be taking place here on Thursday. Things are heating up party wise already. In fact I have a strong feeling that its going to get more and more difficult to concentrate on my work... ( documenting this on flickr ) .

Anyway back to the issue. I had 1 Caipirinha and 4 tequilas listening to the great band at the Grazie Dio yesterday. After it closed we moved on to a late night bar where I had an extra tequila. At this stage I was still able to talk coherently about the 10 dimensions of string theory, which I gave a quick summary to test my brain and the patience of my brother's European friends. I have to admit it was not that easy to keep the suspense of string theory going for very long, but I think it was enough to satisfy us that I was still thinking. So I had another one.

At the sixth tequila I believe I was able to think quite clearly, but found motor actions to be more difficult. Not that I could not walk - I did quite well getting to the car - but there was clearly a slight lag between the desire to do something and the following motion. This could of course be that my thinking had speeded up, and was outrunning the muscles, but that is not the usual interpretation. Also I can tell that not just the muscles had slowed down but also the memory function, as I realized on reaching the hotel that I had left my laptop in the bar. So we had to go back and get the laptop, which had kindly been put aside for me. Thanks.

All in all then 1 Caipirinaha followed by 6 Tequilas is probably way more than is needed to have a fun evening. And it also seems to affect the way things feel the next day...

Thursday Aug 30, 2007

Gun for Sale

Only used once.

Contact Christian Faure.

Friday May 18, 2007

Open Source Software Arrest

I witnessed the arrest of an open source programmer at JavaOne! Simon Phipps where were you? Off writing another major article for Linux Journal presumably. The poor man was arrested by a mad parrot, even after he swore to work on only open source projects, and was taken away by a bunch of unelected generals to work on his code. I could not report on this, as I was too busy preparing my presentation.

I am mad. Mad!

Tuesday Mar 13, 2007

Vote for my hair cut!

I can never work out what my hair cut should be, so I usually cut it real short then let it grow, beard and all. Should I have a mustache? Is a beard better? Or should I take it all off? Well a beard might make me a more successful programing language author, but I did not have the intention of writing one just now.

To help me decide I took a picture of each of the 5 stages of my haircut. Vote for your preferred style, and help me make a good decision, the Web2.0 way. ;-)

Tuesday Dec 05, 2006

Coffee overdose

Yes. It can happen. I know. It happened to me yesterday.

I had a cup of coffee in the morning. Then a cappuccino at the Cal Train station in San Francisco. Then at midday, at the GNoTE conference, I felt thirsty. There was no water, but a lot of coffee. So I had one cup. Which made me thirsty. Then another. I still felt thirsty. Then another. And another. Perhaps even another. I can't quite remember.

I spoke to Matt Thompson in the corridor, and someone came up and asked us to speak a little less loudly... Ok. The conference was going on, and people were filming... But perhaps there was more to it than that... I think I was trying to give my usual 10 minute overview of the Semantic Web to Matt in under a minute. I may even have managed to do it, but at the cost perhaps of appearing slightly demented. Don't try to do this, unless the person you are speaking to has also had the same dose of coffee.

Later I finally found an unopened bottle of water lying on the floor, which I really was in dire need of - every cell of my body was telling me so. And slowly something weird happened. I started being able to hear myself think... Then I realised: I must have had 7 cups of coffee that afternoon.

Saturday Nov 25, 2006

Matrix Cow

Have you seen a few too many Matrix special effects lately? This will help.

I found this and many other really silly videos on Infectious Videos.

Wednesday May 31, 2006

The Sun BabelFish blog as a graph

Following on a great pointer by Mike Bergman, here is a graph painted by a Java applet, of this blog. As Mike explains:

An incredibly fascinating visualization tool by Sala on the Aharef blog is called the Website as a Graph.  This posting links to the actual entry site where you can enter a Web address and the system provides a visual analysis of that Web site.  The color coding applied is:

blue: for links (the A tag)
red: for tables (TABLE, TR and TD tags)
green: for the DIV tag
violet: for images (the IMG tag)
yellow: for forms (FORM, INPUT, TEXTAREA, SELECT and OPTION tags)
orange: for linebreaks and blockquotes (BR, P, and BLOCKQUOTE tags)
black: the HTML tag, the root node
gray: all other tags

Monday Mar 27, 2006

Blue Balls



Via Tim Bray.

Thursday Sep 01, 2005

paper model porno

It was getting very late here, so I opened a Heineken and wandered so to speak over to my referer logs [1] to do a little bit of navel gazing. And blimey! what did I find: Google referred some creature that had searched for paper model porno to this blog. And when I tried out that search this blog was not just some anonymous result, on the second or third or fifth page. No it was the first result! Well you know now: if you can't remember the url for this blog, just type "paper model porno" into Google (and Heineken too probably) and you'll be right here.


[1] A referer log is an adminstrative page I have access to, that shows me how many people have visited my blog, and if any have come via a link from another page.

Monday Jun 27, 2005


Marketing loves bandwagons. They will take a number of buzz words, apply it to every product they can find, until the word has no meaning and the initial emotional value attached to it is stuck under a school desk somewhere. Here we have some indication that the word "professional" has reached that limit: when you can get "Professional Chewing Gum", you know the end is near.

Let's hope the Sun marketing campaign does not abuse the word Community. For the moment everything is going really well, and the whole new Sun look is really refreshing and strikes a cord. It is honest and true to the company's history. But please know that there is a limit to all goodness: I'd hate to think what "community chewing gum" is going to taste like :-)

Monday May 30, 2005

engine gasket spam - don't panic

This must be the first time I have been spammed for something that may be just even remotely useful. Now I really have absolutely no need for engine gaskets but this sure does beat pr0n and viagara spam. :-)

This is what the attached mail said:

Dear Messers, How are you! We are a specialist supplier for auto parts. We supply the high quality Engine Gaskets, cylinder Head Gaskets, oil seals, Valve Stem seals, Packings and Engine Repair tool kit for all car models. Welcome customers'samples & designs. superior products with world-wide popularity. It is made of different material according to the client requested. We are looking forward your inquiry and comment. Best Regards.

Also GameGuy has had a little trouble with BlogEd, and posted a reply on this entry. The short answer is: Don't Panic©




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