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filling the void

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Strange Food Habits Revisited

It's not just puffed wheat with honey, it appears to be everything...

(used up)^2

Or just a weird phenomena, you be the judge.
Over the last couple of months, I've been having trouble with my monitor. Every so often the image would collapse into an intense horizontal line of light, just to return to full size a couple of seconds later. It could go into "line mode" for longer periods of time sometimes, but that was rare.
It was always the horizontal line, and it always came back.
Yesterday, when I came home from school and turned on my computer, I was greeted with a vertical flickering line. That, ladies and gentlemen, was all. The image did not restore, the line just sat there, mocking me.
I had known for a long time that this moment would come, but I had hoped that it would not be so soon.
The freaky thing is that, with a few small differences, this is exactly what happened to my old monitor. It would start loosing both horizontal and vertical structure and collapse in on itself, just to restore with an audible click (some might say it was a bang) almost instantly. This would start as a random thing, occurring maybe a couple of times per day. This would, of course, escalate to where I would never turn off my monitor, because I had observed that it would go in to this habit of collapsing in on itself repeatedly and not stop, if I was lucky, for a couple of hours, but at the end, at all. For the last two to three weeks, I would always keep my monitor on, because having it run warm was the only way to mitigate the collapsing. Finally, though, if would just not stop collapsing. It would get to the point where the image wouldn't even restore completely before the next collapse. Completely unworkable.
As a replacement for my trusty monitor, I got this behemoth of a CRT. A 22", 1920x1440 capable display that worked like a charm, that is, until recently.
Now, I am without a display, and the fuck-heads at the computer store (which shall remain nameless) fucked up my order, but still managed to deduct the money from my account. When I get my money back, I'm so going to another retailer to get this sorted. In the mean while I'm stuck with what used to be an acceptable laptop (p3-450, 320MB), but what has not turned into a crash-monster. My only hope is that I can get this monitor situation resolved before I am committed to an asylum.

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Monday, February 26, 2007

The Dutch

It my limited knowledge of dutch is correct, then someone just found a frozen human thumb in their brussel sprouts. I was watching the news, and I interpreted what they were saying. disgusting.

Speaking of the news, that shit doesn't end. I was watching the rock on tv, and the commercials followed by news comes on. That was roughly 45 minutes ago, if not more, and I can still hear it going on in the background.

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Used Up

I never thought I'd say this, and even less expected to experience it, but my mouse is thoroughly used up.
Previous mice that I've had still work, it's just this one that's started to fail on me. It's a logitech MX700, the cordless one. I bought it in 2002 I think, and it's been working swimmingly ever since, until now. Granted, I have been playing a lot of games, Diablo 2 in particular, which really taxes your mouse, but you'd think they were made to last. The cover of the mouse has slowly but surely been eroded. There are some parts where the plastic is showing white, under a cover of gray color. Merely having my hand on my house for all this time has worn a distinct palm pattern in to it that matches, maybe not unmistakably but still, my right hand. It's also full of grime, but I know that happens to other people's mice to, so I won't blame that for the demise of this particular one.
Right now, the problem is with the mouse buttons. Taking is apart shows absolutely no wear what so ever on the internal part of the buttons, yet it still generates spurious clicks, and sometimes refuses me to click at all. Also commonly seen in windows is the refusal to let me double click stuff.

In short, I need a new mouse. I've been looking at other logitech offers, like the same mouse, only corded (MX500, not that abomination of a gamer mouse that is the MX510/MX518) or their second cordless laser mouse (MX1000, I really like this one). The problem is that none of these are currently sold by anyone, as they are way too old. The other problem is that I suspect that these mice will suffer from the same problems as mine has, down the line. This leaves us with logitech's new mice, the Revolution VX and MX. They look interesting, and might even feel nice in my hand, but they're a far cry from the MX1000. I think I will have to go downtown and look at different mice and feel them and play with them, just go get a proper feel for what the world of pointing devices currently have to offer.

To be continued...

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Top of the World Ma!

Being a former student at Uppsala University, i regularly get their mailings about progresses that the university has made, and this one is extraordinary.
Not extraordinary in any research sense, on in the sense that it's made the world a better place.
No, it is extraordinary in that it gives me some bragging rights!

What happened was that May of last year, a man from Uppsala University, together with five others, reached the peak of Mt Everest. "But many people have reached that peak", you say, "it's practically a tourist attraction by now.". Right you are, however, how many of you can claim that you have the flag of your university flying at the highest peak of the world? Apart from this man's extraordinary feat of climbing to the top, he also placed a flag there to show everybody who comes after him that Uppsala University is a force to be reckoned with!

Now, I normally don't brag about where I'm from (except that one time), but a man has to have something he's proud of, right?

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Saturday, February 24, 2007

Strange Food Habits

My friend has the strangest food habit I have ever seen. Not only does she drink her coffee almost cold, but she also, get this, puts cereal in her coffee.
I don't know if it's just any cereal, or just the honey coated puffs, but it sure it weird, I'll tell you that.
She is kind of cute though, so I guess that makes up for her numerous oddities.


Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Only in America

Teens beating homeless people (to death) for sport.

Claiming anything other than stupidity as a reason for random violence is a fucking lie. Sure, a lot of violence is triggered by a disagreement of some sort (money, drugs, sleeping with your friend's wife, you name it), but random acts of violence like these can't possibly be fueled by anything else than pure, unadulterated stupidity.

As I've claimed for so long, someone should make stupidity more painful, but I guess in this case being the victim of stupidity is what was painful. (Ok, being the victim of stupidity, yours or others, is usually painful too, but often not to this extent).
Sure, doing 15-to-life in a house of corrections might earn you a rogering or two, but you definitely earned that...

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Tuesday, February 20, 2007


I really don't have anything to blog about, so I'll just put some random complaints and stuff in here, so that you won't think that I've gone and died.
I have a lot of school work right now. I'm playing catch up in 3 courses. I'm almost done in one of them, and two others I haven't even started. I might have to postpone actually taking my exam for one of the courses until next period, if it turns out to be too much.
I also haven't gotten the result back for 2 of my exams from last quarter, so that'll factor in to my decision as well.
Tonight is pub night, tomorrow is some form of dinner. Like the school stuff wasn't enough, now I have to entertain at night too.
It's not so bad though, if it wasn't for the fact that the partying severely cuts in to my study time (or, depending on how stressed you feel, the studying cuts in to my party time).

Last night was also quite interesting, we were showing Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas for the SMIT monthly movie night. I usually want other people to come up with movie suggestions, but the other members of the activity commission (calling things commissions and boards when you're in school is just "playing grownups" to me. I'd rather have it called "group" or "organization" or something like that) just can't come up with anything, so in the end it mostly comes down to me.
I am of course fine by this, but the result is that at least two occasions, possibly three, almost everyone walks out on the movie during the intermission, if not earlier. Most people might see this as an indication that people don't like the movies you choose. So be it, I'm not going to change my taste to suit toe general public. Besides, it's not like anyone else had any better suggestions. At least I had a great time last night! However I must say that I was expecting the Fear and Loathing Big Screen Experience (tm) to be more impressive than it was. I could have just as easily watched it in my own room and had a better visual experience. Ohh well, who knew, right?...
I wonder if they'll let me choose the next movie too. I've been trying to push Requiem for a Dream for a while now, but they have been reluctant. I guess time will tell what movie they will walk out from next...

Monday, February 19, 2007

A Burning Smell

What's that burning smell? I'm boiling eggs, not running a chemical plan here...
I walk down to the kitchen to see that my eggs aren't the only items in the kitchen receiving heat.
Also on the stove is the handle of one of the frying pans.
The worst thing is that this isn't the first time it happens. My roommate did exactly the same thing a couple of weeks ago, resulting in a stench that wouldn't leave the house for a couple of days.
Luckily I saved this pan before it was destroyed, but the smell of burnt plastic still lingers.

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Friday, February 16, 2007

Bad Pickup Lines

So I'm at this shady club in town, getting drunk with my friends, and this random dude walks up to me and starts hitting on me. He didn't look dutch, so I'm guessing he had some heritage from some other part of the world, which could explain the approach he used.
Here's an except:

dude: *something unintelligible in dutch*
me: I'm sorry, I don't speak dutch
dude: duitse? (German?)
me: no, I'm from Sweden actually...
dude: really? I've got family there, Oslo...
Oslo is in Norway
dude: Helsinki?
me: That would be Finland
dude: Copenhagen?
me: that's Denmark.
dude: where are you from?
me: Sweden
dude: Scandinavia, I've got family there!
me: that's great, I've got to go...

What the hell? I mean, I don't mind dudes hitting on me, in fact I'm flattered, but please, put some effort in to it. Is this what girls fall for? If girls are normally on the receiving end of this kind of stupidity, there's no wonder they react the way they do when guys normally try to chat them up in bars. This was terrible. If you're laying a lie on someone to get in to their pants, you'd better make sure that you have your facts straight, otherwise you're just going to come across as a moron...

I've said it before and I'll say it again, they should make stupidity more painful.

(And he was ugly to boot!)



If it ain't at your house, it's just waiting for the subway to start running...

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Post Time

Why the hell won't blogger let me format my dates properly?
I want the post date below to read something like: 2007-02-14 21:35:09
Possibly without the seconds though.
The only thing blogger will let me do is use only time, or some asinine imperial format where they mix up month and day, and only allow the time to be shown as AM or PM.

I can get 2007-02-14 OR 21:35, but not both. What gives?
I've even tried to change the language setting, but to no avail.
This blows...


"UK worst place for growing up"

See, I told you that country was no good.
From the article:

Britain has the unhappiest, poorest, unhealthiest and most neglected children of the world's 21 richest nations, ranking at the bottom of 40 different indicators for child welfare,


I don't particularly like my country of origin either, but UNICEF says that

North European countries such as Sweden, Denmark and Finland ranked highest in child welfare, dominating the top half of the league table.

Article here.

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Wanted: PDF Highlighter

I need a feature implemented, and I doubt I can just email adobe to have it done.
I need a way to high-light and make notes in PDF documents, without destroying the original.
Alternatively, you could turn highlights off and on, and they would still be contained in the document, but you could still choose to render it in its default format. This, however, would create problems with signing of documents, so I think a file accompanying the PDF would probably be the best.
When I'm reading something that I find interesting, I'd like to mark it for future reference, just like I'm able to scribble in the margins of a piece of paper. I want this functionality available in PDFs as well. It's certainly not hard to implement, but getting Adobe to do it might be a bit trickier.
Preferably, if the scribbles in the margin could take shape as either text, or some referenced things (like adding comments in a Microsoft Word Document), it would be good. (Text takes up a lot of space, and I might want to write a lot in the margin. This is where PDF could actually surpass paper). Of course, having the option of printing the PDF either with the mark-up or without would also be great.

So please, if anyone from Adobe reads this, or anyone with any kind of influence, please tell them about this. I've been dying for something like this since forever (come to think of it, I might have actually blogged about it before)

Likewise, if anybody knows about any plug-in for Acrobat Reader that will let me do this, I'm all ears.

I wonder if there's a suggestions@adobe.com or something. I'm going to check it out. They might have already thought about this, but decided for unknown reasons to not implement it.

EDITED TO ADD: Silly me, Acrobat Reader already has these tools, but you need to use PDFs with "document rights" enabled. To this day I have never come across a document like that. I wonder if there's a hack to let me change that by my self. Stay tuned...

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Tuesday, February 13, 2007


The position that "h" occupies in the alphabet, and the grade I just got for my Switching and Control Systems in Multi Service Networks course.
I was really sure I had failed when I left the exam. Much like the other two that I took last period, I had not studied more than an hour or two, tops.
This was supposedly the hardest of the courses I had to take too, which made me even more satisfied when I got the result back via email this afternoon.
I was also told a couple of days ago that I got an eight on my assignment for Reference Models for Networked applications. Getting good grades is always fun, but the course however, was not.
SCS was really interesting, and I actually learned things, but Reference Models told me absolutely nothing of value. I don't know if I've ever had such an unnecessary course. I'm pretty sure that every course in the past taught me something, except this one.
Ohh well, at least I got acceptable grades. Now I just need to get the result from the other two courses and be allowed to switch tracks and I'll be sounds as the proverbial pound.


Can't Touch This


Monday, February 12, 2007


Heaven is a radically heated room.
At least that's what it felt like on Sunday when me and a friend went to the neighboring town of Oldenzaal to check out the Saré sauna and beauty complex.
Back in the day when I was living at home, I used to sauna all the time. At some point I remember doing it about 5 days a week. Of course, having your own sauna in the basement really helps make this happen, but there's just something about sauna that makes me want to do it over and over again. Maybe it's my rabid hatred of cold weather, or maybe it's just the relaxation of knowing that you're in there to relax, and nothing else. You can't work AND sauna at the same time, it's just not possible. It's me-time, pure and simple.

When we got to Saré (after braving the elements, bus connections and wildlife of Oldenzaal with surroundings) we were issued bathrobes and firmly instructed that at no time were clothes to be worn inside the sauna area. Then this cute girl (very rare here in Holland) gave us the grand tour of the facilities. It must be weird to handle naked people every day for a living, but she seemed to be used to it by now.
There were a total of nine different saunas that were part of the main themed collection, and then two more that were for silent contemplation or some such, as there was no talking allowed in them. There were steam saunas with lights and a slight menthol smell, there were saunas with colored lights and a wonderful lavender smell, there was an infrared sauna, an "earth" sauna (100-120 degrees C, a little bit too much for us), and a rose sauna. They also had two jacuzzis, ice cold showers and pools, and a nicely temperated pool at 31C. All in all, the complete sauna package if you will.

It truly was heaven. We spent around 3 - 4 hours in there I think, going from sauna to sauna, inter spaced with the coldest showers known to man. This is definitely something I'm going to have to do again.


Saturday, February 10, 2007

Cool Stuff

Build your own amusement part ride in your back yard. Could quite possibly be lethal if executed poorly.
The DIY Human Slingshot.

and of course the user interface of the future in

reactable: visual, interactive synth.
You need to watch some of the videos here to get the full effect of this interface.
For things like word processing, this would apparently suck, but for real-time input like when creating music, this is incredible.

My fingers are cold, this is all the text you're getting...

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Friday, February 09, 2007

The French Are Coming!

You'd think that reason would outweigh arrogance when it comes to a big machine like the European union. Apparently the french are lobbying to make french the official language of the EU, at least with regards to the official language or original texts of law in the union.
Their reasons are, get this, "for its precision and rigor".

I am by no means well versed in french, and certainly not in all the other languages in the union, but if there are two things I do not associate with the french and their language, it's precision and rigor.

You'd think that choosing a language like the de facto English, that most of the member states speak to some degree would be better then cramming a language like french down out collective throats. I suppose it takes some audacity claiming that your language is, in essence, The One True Language, rather than looking at things like actual language penetration. I think you'd be hard pressed to find statistics saying that french is better understood by a larger part of the EU population than English. Especially when it comes to measures like "precision" and "rigor".

Excess and Vigor is more like it. (See, I was going for something antonym-like that would rhyme with precision, but no dice...)

Prove me wrong?

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Thursday, February 08, 2007


A couple of months ago, I took a class called "Introduction to Computer Security". For this class, we were asked to, in pairs, write a small small paper on any topic in computer security. It wasn't a research paper, but rather we were supposed to write something about someone else's research, or a topic that we found interesting. The best of these papers were to be presented at a mini "conference" at the end of the class.

Me and a friend wrote a paper called "Hash Collisions - Impact on Modern Cryptography".
Not surprisingly it deals with the problems we face should the widely used hashing algorithms be broken. Since we were limited to 6 pages, the paper is extremely condensed, but in the end concludes that, because of recent breakthroughs in cryptanalysis, algorithms like MD5 and SHA1 shouldn't be used any more, and more secure alternatives should be found.
Now, I don't claim that we came up with this conclusion, smarter people did, and we agreed, but now it seems like someone is actually doing something about it.

NIST, the National Institute of Standards and Technology has initiated a contest for candidates for what will probably become the worlds new hashing function. Bruce Schneier has written an excellent article about the competition in Wired, and he has also previously reached the same conclusions as we did. I feel like I'm in the company of greater minds whenever this happens, even though it's all re-iteration of what other people have said, to a large degree.

Even if you don't read the paper, I suggest you read the article.

(No, we didn't get one of the spots at the mini conference, but I still like our subject)

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The Lord Giveth, and The Lord Taketh Away

Snow in Enschede. We've had some previously, but it's only been some solitary flakes on an otherwise naked ground. Today, we actually got several centimeters of snow that actually stayed on the ground.
Of course this being Holland it's already melting away, but it did look very pretty outside the window about lunch time today. I'm hoping that it won't freeze over night, because I don't think that the Dutch in general are very good at driving on ice.

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Tuesday, February 06, 2007

The Law

Just re-reading my post about the weird phone call from the police the "other day" (I'm almost ashamed, I haven't posted in over 10 days), I found something interesting on the street the other day.
We were walking home from the market, and in the most inconspicuous place on the sidewalk, I see a little bag. This little bad has a ganja leaf on it, much like the bags you get from coffee shops or smart shops here. However, this bag contained no ganja, no sir, but rather four pinkish-red pills of unmistakable type.
I pick up the bag and look at it in my hand. Yep, that's ecstasy alright, no mistaking that.
"Wow", I feel, this is certainly a find of [epic] proportions. Then fear and doubt take me. What if that guy over there with the notebook on the bench is "the law", just waiting for me to pocket this thing so they can rush me off to jail. What if the dude who dropped it is right now turning around and is none too happy with the little fucker holding his drugs, and decide to lay down "the law", as it were. What if it's some sick social science project? What if it's some crazy vigilante action, where someone walks around town, dousing sidewalks with drugs laced with god-knows-what?

In the end, I dropped the bag and walked away. All the way home, we were talking about it, and I was battling myself (and Nadine) to not go back and pick it up. It's easy to justify not going back, for many reasons, but also the other way around. Free drugs, right? I mean, who can say no to that?
In my mind now, I picture the ideal owner of the bag. Some guy (or girl) who had bought their first pills, and have a magic night planned. They realize that they've lost the drugs, run back, and are pleasantly surprised to find the bag on the ground, and their evening saved. Of course, this is probably not the truth, but it helps me to not loose sleep over it.

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I'm a switcher. Or, at least I'm going to try to be.
I'm not switching something as important as my computing platform (heaven forbid), but what I am switching, however, is tracks here at the school.
It turns out that telematics relies heavily on knowledge that I as a CS student should have, but that I don't have. I suck at math. I really and truly do, and the coming courses require me to not suck. Since I can't just un-suck myself, (hmm, eww) I see no other alternative than to switch tracks.
I went to the guidance counselor today to talk to him about it, and he said that there should be no problem with this, but we need to talk to the guy who's in charge of the track I want to switch to.
Apparently that guy had been on the admission board when they discussed my application this summer, so I'm fairly sure he won't have any objections. After all, Software Engineering seems to have less stringent knowledge prerequisites than Telematics.
This might, however, cause me to have to stay here for longer, which completely fuck with my monetary situation, unless I can pull my shit together and do some major catching up.
I'm having a meeting tomorrow that will, more or less, decide my future. Hopefully it will go well.

Keep your fingers crossed that I get out of this place by June or July 2008, as intended. If I don't, then I really don't know what'll happen to my life.

I try to not be a quitter, but sometimes it's damn hard. Right now, I hate my life and my very existence, but I guess it's a sunny day, so it can't be all that bad. I think that if I can just switch tracks, and get a pass on at least two of the (three) exams I took two weeks ago, I'll be fine. (More fine anyway)