Archive for June, 2005

tourists in Trondheim

June 24th, 2005

I was in the "city" yesterday, it was raining softly, sky was overcast and a modest temperature. I see this group of 20 people, some of them looking at a map, the rest of them standing around outside MacDonalds waiting for their leader to lead them somewhere. When I saw that, I felt sorry for them. I mean clearly research isn't something they are very good at, otherwise they would never come here, but given that they did and they're spending lots of money paying our ridiculous prices (and especially those geared at tourists), it does make me a bit sad to see them out in the rain.

And with the map, that's pretty funny. It's actually very difficult to get lost in this town without a map because it's so small. Just keep walking east, oh there's the river, let's turn left, keep walking, oh there's the bay, turn left, keep walking, oh there's the river again, turn left, keep walking, hey we've been here before. And by then you've seen all of Trondheim. Time to complete at a casual pace: 1.5 hours.

But then I remember going to Barcelona last year in February and it was bloody raining the whole time. If I get my vacation ruined, why should I feel sorry for these guys? Even if I chose my destination a bit more carefully.. so long, suckaz.

pathetic is 6 degrees too gentle

June 20th, 2005

Have you ever tried printing a web page? How did it turn out? In most cases crap, right? And you've noticed that rarely do pages that aren't made for printing actually turn out okay, haven't you? Exactly, that's why most publications offer two versions of every story, one for online, another for printing. But what if you need to print a bunch of pages that weren't made for it? And what if you need the target format to be pdf? I don't recall who said it originally but the answer is : you be fucked.

First of all, let's examine the printing capabilities of the popular browsers.

  • Firefox: fonts are molested, formatting is abused, no f. way
  • Mozilla: slightly different result but same principles apply
  • Konqueror: has the best printing capabilities since it uses the KDE print subsystem but the fonts are even more off than in Gecko browsers and don't get me started on how it handles images with some medieval scaling rules
  • Opera: looks halfway presentable but javascript comes in your way and it still looks nothing like the original with forms and tables on the page

So while the first 3 all render very well on screen, they do a total stinker of rendering the print version. I don't know why it is so hard. Opera is the only halfway acceptable choice, but it screws up forms big time and has lots of other "interesting" quirks.

So I decide on Opera, I choose A4 for paper format but what do you know, it still comes out in f. US Letter format. So I have to print with Opera, convert the ps to pdf, then open in kpdf and print from there into A4. For every friggin screenshot. Of course, since there is a conversion between letter and A4, some degree of scaling is being done and the images look crap. So while all my other reports look excellent, the screenshots look like they were made by a 4-year-old.

Examine the result yourself. Compare this, a report written in lyx and compiled into pdf, to this, a collection of screenshots printed through opera-kpdf. Use Adobe Acrobat Reader and have fun zooming.

So much work has gone into browser engines, we have several of them used by the big boys and web rendering is generally excellent these days. So why is it so fucking hard to print a web page?????????????????

Oh yeah and I spent 6 bloody hours on getting this pathetic end result. :wallbang:

Big Willie lost the plot?

June 20th, 2005

So the new album was released March 29 and I hadn't heard a peep about it, which indicates lousy publicity. That's a bit unusual but it's the tip of the iceberg. The album sucks. Really sucks. I can't believe this is Will, I can't believe he would release something this bad. After listening through it, there were only two tracks I ever wanted to hear again, the rest were trash. Vaguely interesting are "Lost & found" and "Tell me why", although in the latter he gets a little too excited.

But wait, there's more. There hasn't been an album yet where Willie talks about himself and his greatness in every feckin song. Now I realize that rap isn't a genre of humility, a rap song without trash talk and self adoration just wouldn't cut it (unless it's about something else entirely). Rap is about struggle and adversity but enough is enough. When there's nothing else on the entire album than manifestation of the artist's greatness, something has gone terribly wrong somewhere. What's more, the music is terrible, so there's absolutely nothing to rescue it. When I heard the song "Switch" (presumably something to do with the movie "Hitch", although the song wasn't in it), I thought it was crap. Yet on the album you get it in three different versions!?

I sincerely hope the album sells exceptionally badly so Big Willie gets a wake up call and starts putting out quality music again. Jeez, he even did one song with that clown Snoop Dogg, big surprise it really sucks.


meta^x (equiv. to meta of meta of..)

June 18th, 2005

/me't*/ or /may't*/ or (Commonwealth) /mee't*/ A prefix meaning one level of description higher. If X is some concept then meta-X is data about, or processes operating on, X.

If you can't follow that, just remember that a meta-something is a description of something, roughly paraphrased meta means about.

I just noticed today how funny it is the way we deal with complexity. Have you ever tried getting into a subject and there's an overwhelming volume of books, tutorials and manuals about it, and finally you're relieved to find one that reads "What you should read first"? Imagine how much time it must have taken to write all that documentation, but if that wasn't enough, someone had to document the documentation, just so that Joe Schmoe could find his way around it. But then what if the documentation keeps growing, have you seen books that give you a "Chapter guide"? That's going even further, explaining what you will find in each chapter. Imagine you wrote that book, including the chapter guide, and someone would ask you to write a short explanation about why your wrote the chapter guide the way you did(!) That is now the 3rd level of abstraction, as in meta-meta-meta.

Why do I harp on this, you ask? Because I'm starting to understand what it's like. I'm edging closer to completing my big project and rough estimates show there's going to be 250 pages of documentation! You'll be relieved to learn that 100 pages of that is auto generated, so I've "only" churned out 150 pages myself. And the thing is, when you're writing a 30 page document, you should ideally have a pretty good reason to spend that much time on it. So not only do you invest all those manhours into producing good documentation, you'll also have to expect to justify doing it. See where we are now? meta-meta. That's right, I've written a chapter guide, no joke. Why do all this? The short and sweet answer is to keep my teacher happy and get a good grade on the project. The diplomatic answer is to provide a well documented product for whomever might be interested in it (most likely noone).

And the document index is growing ever longer.

bad mojo (and fucking gravel)

June 16th, 2005

My college class plays soccer on Thursday afternoons. They started about 6 months ago and admirably they keep it up, even now in the summer when school's out. I went to the first couple of practices just over Christmas and it was fun but I injured myself both times. It was the ankle. So I was healing for a long time, I didn't go since then. Towards the end of April I was back on the pitch but I didn't go to the school practice because it was sorta awkward starting at 4pm while I was still at work. Now they've moved it to 6pm and today was the first time I played again.

Oh what contrast to the previous practice, 24 degrees and sunny. On top of that I had had a heavy dinner and I felt heavy like a truck, could barely move. But it got better. My form didn't. I've been playing on astroturf and I love it, it's beautiful. But the school practice is on a gravel pitch and gravel f. sucks. Ball bounces like a maniac and the ball mechanics are all f. up. That means I suddenly have no clue. And no form to chase the ball either, good combination. You may have thought I would be out of place but the other guys are just the same. Ball skills are generally unknown to us. At least on a gravel pitch in my case. So we end up playing these guys who were already there when we showed up, Spanish speaking crew. They're definitely not Spaniards, they look more American. I can spot a Spaniard because they're very comsopolitan and dressy, they look totally European. These guys didn't, they were also very short each and every one. But fun to play with cause they comment every play. Also extremely skilled on the gravel, never a bad touch, fantastic ball reception so you know it wasn't their first time.

Among our crew we had the leader, the one who always sends out the "meet for practice" emails and keeps the whole thing going, a couple of lanky guys, a real trooper power forward, a determined wingman and young guy in an Ajax shirt who's whiter than snow. This guy kept pissing me off cause every touch of the ball was a lob, no matter his position on the pitch. All of them very badly taken. So we get underway and we're clearly inferior. I get a lucky break and score the first goal on a good and lucky finish. Then I try to dribble my man in defence and end up conceding a goal on the next play. My touches are terrible, the ball is all over the place and my reaction time is long cause I don't move well today. Another lucky finish and I score a second, although I have to give the goalkeeper most of the credit, he totally fumbled it. In all I got 5 shots on goal, at least I forced a save out of the keeper on all but one. It shows I've been working on my finishing cause 4 out of those 5 were well taken. And that's pretty much where my contribution ends. I don't think anyone outscored me on my team, the wingman also got 2. But that just shows how terrible we were. About 40 minutes into it, I get a good touch for once, the ball is up there, I wanna take it down and turn my man. As I go for it, I get his arm in my face. Nose bleeding. I'm telling you I'm not meant to play with these guys, everytime I show up something happens to me. But I take a breather and I'm good to go again. I get a little better as we go along ball control-wise, but every pass I make is too slow, I can't make it work at all. I also completely embarass myself on some counters as I fumble the ball most of the times. It's so disheartening to go from playing well week in and week out the past couple of months on the weekends (astroturf, people) to an absolute stinker today.

But I'm showing up next week.

Oh and one of the guys we played against scored with a bicycle kick, that's right on gravel.