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filling the void

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Jesus Fucking Christ

Seriously, I might as well just quote slashdot here.
MSNBC has up an article discussing the results of a Newsweek poll on faith and religion among members of the US populace. Given the straightforward question, 'Is evolution well-supported by evidence and widely accepted within the scientific community?', some 48% of Americans said 'No'. Furthermore, 34% of college graduates said they accept the Biblical story of creation as fact. An alarmingly high number of individuals responded that they believe the earth is only 10,000 years old, and that a deity created our species in its present form at the start of that period.

I'm speechless. Really. Stupidity comes in all shapes and sizes, and apparently from almost half the population of one of the most powerful countries in the world. Even the people with a so-called "higher education" are on the band wagon. Absolutely fucking nuts.

Where's Darwin when you need him?

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This Is Sparta!

I went to see 300 last night with the gang, and I can tell you that it is absolutely everything that it is hyped up to be. Whatever good things people say about this movie does not make it justice. One of the fiercest movies I have ever seen. The fact that it's loosely based on a true story makes i even cooler.
I read on imdb that the director said that they'd purposefully not gone for the historically authentic fighting, but rather chosen styles and moves that would look better on screen. Good choice, and even better that he actually says so up front, rather than having to be railed about it later.

If you haven't seen it already, you should! At least twice. I'm thinking of my second screening as we speak...


Friday, March 30, 2007

I have seen the muffins

and the are delicious!

Making Muffins

I needed something to get over my sudden spending so I'm making muffins!
We'll see in 13 minutes whether or not I'm capable of combining shake'n'bake and a microwave/hot air oven.
stay tuned...

(used up)^3

A.k.a The Hits Just Keep On Coming

I really hope that I don't have to write a ^4 and ^5 and so forth, because I'm getting really tired of having to buy new computer equipment when I should be buying things like textbooks and food and paying rent.
In any case, another one of my computer components broke down today. This morning I went to boot my computer, and all I got were these funky patterns. Not funky as in interference and waviness and stuff, but rather test mode blocks of different colors.
I could hear the hard drives going through the boot sequence, but all I got were these funky patterns. "Ok, " I thought, "something weird is going on, but it's probably nothing that can't be solved without a reboot".
Said and done, I hold the button down to shut the computer off. I click the button again. Nothing.
I can hear the hard drives power up, but the power save light on my (brand spanking new) monitor is still blinking, as opposed to shining, and the hard drives don't continue in to the boot sequence. I know that I had told the bios to ignore all errors (like keyboard or mouse not being present or having no video card installed). This is when I start to get scared.
Jules: And when motherfuckers get scared, that's when motherfuckers accidentally get shot.

Yes yes, thank you very much Mr Jackson, but my fright was of a completely different nature. (Even though shooting some people to take my frustrations out would have been satisfying. I know a couple who deserve some lead between the eyes..).
Anyway, I tried pulling the power cord, re-seating the cards, disconnecting components, but no dice. No matter what I did, it refused to boot. At this point, pretty much anything in the computer can be broken. Quite possibly even more than one thing. Having some experience with these things, however, I know that the general order to check is graphics card then ram, then motherboard. Hard drives are at the top there somewhere, but mine are brand new, and spinning nicely, so I disregarded them. Also, the problem didn't seem software related.
Thus, I decided to see what could be done about the graphics card first. After having done some calculations on what a new computer would cost, I was dedicated to not have to spend all that money on a new one.
Even though I knew my graphics card had two ports on it (VGA and DVI), I was pretty sure that getting a DIV adaptor to get the whole thing up and running again probably wouldn't work, but I headed over to the school computer store none the less, in a feeble attempt to do a low-budget fix. When I get there, after some talking with my fellow computer geeks, I am told that if I'm a really nice guy, maybe the computer store will lend me a new graphics card, to verify that it is indeed the graphics card that is broken.
Minutes later, I find myself riding home with one crappy piece of graphics hardware in my hand, hoping that I'll at least see some kind of colors.
You'd think that I'm building up to some sort of orgasmic finale or some punchline here, but I'm going to have to disappoint you. This is a simple re-telling of the facts, but since it's a long story, you might want to get a glass of some thirst quenching beverage. That's ok, I'll wait...

You got it?
We continue.
So there I was, riding home with a graphics card in hand. I get home, plug the sucker in, and voila! Glorious glorious colored pixels shoot out of my freakishly large cathode ray tube and hit my cones and rods in powerful splendor.
This brings both joy and sadness to my heart.
Joy for the fact that a graphics card, while fairly expensive, is much cheaper than buying a completely new computer. Sad because of the fact that I had to spend money to fix my problems. I would have much rather spend 2 euros on solder and fixed it myself, but I guess I'm just not that lucky.

Another things that I'm concerned about is the fact that since all my things are breaking now, one by one, I fear that the rest of my components will follow in short order, making my new purchase completely useless. That would also require me to spend more money. Money that I don't have.

After I return the borrowed card to the school computer store, I head downtown to pick up a real one. Something that'll let me play all my games, and that isn't just something intermediate, waiting for the rest of my system to break.
I currently have a new and shiny XFX GeForce 7600GT/256 sitting in my AGP port. I'm about to run 3dMark to see if my (300W) power supply is powerful enough to handle it. The card supposedly needs a 350W PSU, but mine if of a high quality, so I think I'll be fine.

If it does crap out on me, my backup plan is to go back to the store and exchange it for a 7600GS/512, which is perfectly runnable on a 300W PSU.
I'll let you know how it goes.

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Wednesday, March 21, 2007


Ohh, and I also found this today. I was googling around for how long it takes for the itching to stop after you start growing a beard, and I came upon a site completely dedicated to beards and how to grow and cultivate them. Very cool I must say. I by no means have any intention of acquiring a fashoin accessory that would, at best, make me look 15 years older, and at worst, make me look 15 again. (My facial hair isn't exactly what you'd call thick)
It's more an attempt to try to prove to myself (and others) that no, it is in fact not possible for me to grow a beard, even if I would like to. I will remain my clean shaven self.


Roommate Assisted Dinner

I just made a really delicious dish for dinner. I had had it previously when my roommate had made it, and I decided to give it a go myself. I went out and bough all the ingredients, and under the careful supervision of my roommate, the forging or dinner commenced.
The result is absolutely delicious. And it's healthy too!

It's a dish consisting of mainly pork and rice.
I put the following in to it:

  • 500g of pork (500 actual grams, no bone or anything)
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 peppers (green and yellow)
  • 2 servings of rice
  • 1 onion
  • ½ garlic (5 cloves)
  • Soy sauce (Quantum Satis (Mom will absolutely love the fact that I used this word)) (Used in two stages, as we will see)
  • Pepper

You'll note that there's no salt in here. I tried to pour some on, but my roommate stopped me and said that soy was the way to go.

I started by chopping everything up into smaller pieces. The pork was about half a thumb in size. I then proceeded to fry the pork in a normal pan, using soy sauce instead of salt to season it. Add some pepper, but not too much. After that the garlic and onion goes in (I should have done one of them first, instead of both at the same time, but I can't remember which one). The next step is putting the pepper in, and after that's been in for about a minute, throw on the eggs.
Just when the eggs look about done, it's time to throw on the rice. The rice needs to be cooked, and a little drier than normal, to prevent it from sticking too much.
Proceed with mixing things up, and adding some more soy and some more pepper.

When everything seems to be nicely mixed, and the rice has taken on a more brownish shade, serve as is with something nice to drink. If you want, you can add half a glass of water to the mix after you put the rice in, to help the merging of the parts, so to speak.

You really should try it. I'm adding it to my repertoire of meals I can cook. I recently had to remove a dish I "stole" from my room mate from the list, as I had grown quite tired it it. (Basically sliced potatoes and mushrooms and sour cream, fried up in some oil with spices. Very farmer, very Russian).


Tuesday, March 20, 2007


I guess the FBI thinks they are above the law, and they're not afraid of telling people about it either. Apparently, pesky things like subpoenas shouldn't have to bother anyone, just do what we say instead. We'll (not) deal with the legal stuff.
Seriously, how much longer will this continue? There's a reason why people in the US are allowed to own guns, and that's to overthrow an oppressive government. You're living under one of the most oppressive regimes in the world people, it's time you unlocked your gun cabinets and did something about it! One day the people of this world are going to wake up, and it'll be 1984 times a million. George Orwell might have been off on the date when he wrote the book, but not by much. I wouldn't be surprised if some sort of thought crime was made illegal within the next 20-30 years. Maybe even sooner. This is fucking nuts. This shit makes cold war Russia seem like Disney land.
The only thing separating the US from North Korea is the fact that most us citizens have running water, and there's not an import restriction on iPods.

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Monday, March 19, 2007

Better School = Higher Expectations

I just read that Twente University came in 7:th place in this years ACM ICPC.
The ACM ICPC is a worldwide programming competition, kind of like the olympics, or the world championships. My current school placed 7:th, and I don't even know if my previous school even tried out. The best Swedish school on the list came in 26:th place with half of the problems solved.
Shared 26:th I should say, together with around 20 others.

This positioning seems to reflect the skill and the expectation difference between my previous and current educational institute. At my old school I flew by without actually exerting myself, and I was something like top3-5 in most of my courses. Here I'm working my nuts of, and I'm still not making the grade. Sure, I pass my course, some even with good grades, but it's at the expense of 60-80 hour work weeks, and much mental suffering on my part. The worst things is feeling inadequate in a field where you used to excel.
It seems like I've been knocked down several pegs on the ladder of prowess.

I am a carpenter among architects.

And it bothers me to no end. Feelings of inadequacy are right up there with death as the toppers of my greatest fears. (For most people the number one is speaking in public. I love doing that though, but I'm a bit of an attention monkey, so that might be why.)

This quarter especially has been one of way too much work for me. I can't remember last time I had a weekend of that wasn't during christmas break. This has got to change, but I have no real recipe for making this happen.

One thing I do know for sure though is that I'll never be part of a team bound for the ACM ICPC...

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Saturday, March 17, 2007


Some things on monkeysforhelping are just too good to not re-post here.

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Friday, March 16, 2007

Google Summer of Code

So, applications to Google's Summer of Code are open again. This time they're taking applications earlier in the year, to facilitate earlier selection to give the people selected more time to get to know and understand the projects before they start working on them.
I've looked at GSoC previously. I think this is the third year they're doing it.
It's a great way of getting developers to do things for the open source community and get paid, rather than working ass a check-out clerk at the local supermarket.
For those of you who don't know what GSoC is, it's basically a program where different open source organizations register with google as mentoring organizations, and if accepted, google will pay student developers of their choice to work on the project over the summer, when the students need to find some job to keep up with the rent payments.
It's a wonderful idea really, and it helps google spread even more goodwill to the FOSS (Free/Open Source Software) community.
I was excited about GSoC before, and I'm excited about GSoC this year.
I'd really want to participate, learn new things, write code for a good cause and get payed, but there's a slight problem.
Absolutely none of the suggested projects or ideas entice me in the slightest. I mean, they seem like good projects with regards to what they bring to the project, but it's still shit work. Most of the stuff that's in the ideas is basically bug fixing that the "regular" (if FOSS has such a thing) developers haven't taken care of yet.

They have some pretty heavy hitters as mentoring organizations, but after having browsed through around 50% of the suggested project ideas from the most interesting organizations, I've come to the conclusion that I'll probably never be on the short list (or any length of list for that matter) for any of these projects. They just don't seem interesting enough. In fact, they seem downright boring.
However I do hope that someone finds them interesting enough to write some proposals, because it's a damn good idea. Also, if I was in the position to hire someone as a software development, having participated in the GSoC would look very good on your resume.

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Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Am I A Bad Person?

A woman just came to my door and asked for money.
Something about rheumatism I think, I didn't speak dutch, and she didn't appear to speak English.
She pointed to the green box with the sticker on it, and it said reuma-something-or-other.

I instinctively said "I'm sorry, I can't help you", yet realizing mere seconds later that "why the hell did I say that? I actually had some change on me, I could have helped a worthy cause".
It's not the first time either. I mean, I am in a position to be able to help, but why don't I?
I want to help, it's just like something animal in me takes over when complete strangers ask me for money.
The woman was shy, meek and soft spoken, the typical person you'd send to someones door to elicit sympathy to get them to give money. I felt the feeling, yet still said no.

Does this make me a bad person? It's like I didn't even think about whether or not to actually give her money for whatever her cause was, I just instinctively said "no".

Now I feel bad. At first I felt like running after her, waving some money, but that would have been silly. I hope I haven't doomed my soul to burn in the fiery pits of hell for all eternity because of this.
Does not believing in god automatically tell you that there is no hell? I guess I technically sold my soul for a crayon for a while back, but since that wasn't a "fair" trade-in, I don't think it counts. Or maybe I sold it to someone unequipped to properly store and carry souls, so my soul was not in fact taken from me.

Whatever, I still don't think I'm a bad person. Please agree with me...*plead*

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Monday, March 12, 2007

Blast from the Internet Past

Here's something that I haven't watched in a long time.
It just popped up in my head when I was over at my friend's house, and it's absolutely hilarious.
If you're in to that kind of thing...


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Saturday, March 10, 2007


And now for something completely different: A dog and a monkey

Also, booting from power on to GUI in 8 seconds is quite remarkable. Now if someone could make my windows machine behave the same way. The LinuxBIOS project is a very cool idea, I must say.

I just added Drivl.com to my list of links in the sidebar. I thought I should mention it, just in case you missed it. Their tagline is "Your Daily Dose of Awesome", and I must say that I agree.
I think that next time I want to rant about something that's not related to my eroding civil liberties, I'll probably submit it to drivl first.
This is the post that got me to drivl in the first place, "What code DOESN'T do in real life (that it does in the movies)". A normal drivl post gets 10 comments, a good one gets 20-40 maybe, this one got 180. If you're a geek and you like movies, you really need to start with that link. For the rest of you, Drivl is just pure awesome in a can.

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Things are not as they Seem

I might have been a bit off the mark the other day when I claimed that the laws the British passed raped our collective civil liberties less that the American counterparts.
I believe I wrote something like:
The US pass laws that are disgusting violations of our civil liberties, the UK does the same, but on a smaller scale.

Well, I stand corrected. It turns out that unless you are willing to surrender pretty much every piece of information available (or not available) about yourself to the government, you will not be allowed to leave the country, except as a boat refuge. Great Britain will, from March 26th, stop issuing passports to anyone who refuses to bend over and take surveillance so far up their ass that the metal casing of the cameras tickle their mouths.

It turns out that my home country isn't much better. A recent bill proposes to let the communications arm of the military (FRA - Försvarets Radioanstalt) wiretap anyone they damn well please with absolutely no judicial oversight. It's not clear who proposed this bill, other than "the government", but there seems, luckily, to be many vocal critics of this bill such as the head of the Bar Association, the head of Säpo (Swedish Secret Police), and others. I doubt it will pass, but the very idea to propose something like this is atrocious as best.
As if this wasn't enough, it was discovered when this bill was proposed that FRA has been doing these sorts of things without oversight for decades anyway. Apparently up until the point when the telephone company became privately owned.

I will admit that I don't know what goes down behind closed doors here in the Netherlands, but I can't possibly imagine that it could be as bad as any of the atrocities I have just described.

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Thursday, March 08, 2007

It's Alive!

My car is alive, finally!
I got a charger for the battery yesterday, and after half a day of charging, it still wouldn't turn the starter. Dad said "it's dead, get a new battery", but shelling out 100 Euro for a brand new battery without having exhausted my options with the old one didn't seem like a good idea. Turns out I was right. God I love this!


Close Shave

I recently acquired the new razor from Gillette, the Fusion. I must say, it's a really close shave, especially if you've let it grow for 2-3 days, but I'm not sure it's necessarily closer than the Gillette Mach3. Granted, it has more blades, so I guess it should be, however Gilette had the Mach3 out as their main razor for several years, much longer than I've seen any of the others have the spot light, so one begins to wonder if this isn't just a marketing hoax. The Mach3 was decidedly better than the Gillette Sensor Excel, so you could at least feel the progress there.
The Fusion has 4 blades, which should give me a closer shave, and I must admit that I can feel the added resistance as the blades fly down my face (always down, never up, "go with the grade", as Danny Glover says in Lethal Weapon). It felt strange at first, but now I'm almost used to it.
What the Fusion does have is a single blade on the back, for those precision areas. I like that. What I didn't like, however, was that the razors head is now so large that is has trouble adapting to the geometry of my face. Especially in the area just under the sides of your jaw. If you're not a big burly man, then these angles can be quite sharp, and require extra attention, over the effortless sliding seen on television.

In any case, it's definitely good enough, and as I assume it'll phase out in the coming 5 or so years, I might as well get used to it. The only reason you can still buy blades for the Sensor Excel, is that the Lady Shave that they have introduced uses the same blades.
You'd think that they would give women the same advances as us. Hairy legs are not sexy.
I guess the ladies could just buy the same razors that we use, but I'm sure there are things involved making shaving your legs with a Mach3 more difficult. I wouldn't know, I tend to not shave my legs.

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Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Passing Laws

The US pass laws that are disgusting violations of our civil liberties, the UK does the same, but on a smaller scale.
France, not to be outdone by the other supporters of the Iraq war, passes insane laws.
"But Why?" you ask.
"Because we are French!" or "Because we can!", you take your pick, they'd probably be equally applicable.
Leave it to the french to take the circus-insane in to politics...

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Up and Running

I have gotten a lot of things done today, some good, some bad.
Actually, I guess getting them done is all good, but the act of getting them done wasn't always wonderful. I still have that damn logic homework to finish, and I have no clue about how to do it.

As some of you might know, I got some computer hardware the other day, and when I went to install it, it all went wrong. My monitor was ok, but running it at max resolution isn't possible at a higher refresh rate than 60Hz (Which is like stabbing your eyes. It's rated for 80 at that resolution). Atleast I'm off my laptop which, though it works, isn't the best computing device I have ever seen. Also, when I went to install my brand new 500GB SATA harddrive, I came to the terrible discovery that I only had 2 SATA ports on my motherboard, and 2 disks already in use.
A quick search of the store where I bought the monitor showed a PCI->SATA card though, so that problem solved it self quickly.
Speaking of hard drives, what's the deal with hard drives never having the advertised size? I mean I purchase a 500GB hard drive, and windows tells me it's 465GB (479000 or so MB). I mean sure, depending on how you could your prefixes (kilo, mega, giga), then you might loose 2.4% - 7.4% (depending on if you loose 2.4% at each new "name" or not). I guess that accounts for my lost data, but it still pisses me off. Why the hell can't manufacturers rate them at the larger size? I mean, the amount of data I loose due to these types of conversions is the size of all my gathered hard drives during the first 10 years of my computer "career". It's ridiculous.

Also, the fact that copying from one IDE-controller to another (SATA technically, but you get the idea) takes up 100% CPU time on my box is ridiculous. You'd think that DMA would handle something like that. I mean, when people test controllers, they give verdicts with single-digit cpu utilization when accessing the controller, and then we have me. Things like this just piss me off. It's not like I have a slow computer either, a 2.5Ghz box with 2GB of RAM should be able to handle this without exerting itself like this. Especially the 85 degrees CPU temp isn't looking too hot (no pun intended)...


Hmm, I guess I should get suspicious when the temperature and CPU usage goes up like that.
I look down at my, currently, open computer, and what do I find? The fan has stopped. Completely, it has not moved since I turned on the computer about 30 minutes ago. My trusty Intel P4 has been working at full speed with only passive cooling for 30 minutes and not shut itself down! Now that's performance engineering if I ever saw it. Had this been an AMD Athlon, and had this been a couple of years ago, I would be crying over my piece of melted silicon...

A quick shutdown and locating the faulty wire, and the copying now occupies a leisurely 25% (still too much, but hey, it's an improvement), and the temperature is at a steady 50 degrees. Much better...

So, lets see, what else...
Ohh, that's right, two mysterious men with keys to our garage came and rang the doorbell this morning, asking me if I was the owner of the car in the garage, which of course I was. They had come for the orange:y-red Daf POS in the garage that's stuck squarely behind my car. As I go to unlock my car to move it, I see what look like oil stains on the leather. That could well be, I was doing stuff to it just prior to putting it away last year, but not like this. Turns out it's surface mold.
I had forgotten to roll my windows down, so the air has stagnated or some such, and maybe some condensation has formed, god knows, the result, anyway, was spots of mold all over the interior.
Luckily, the interior is made from leather and plastic, so wiping it down with an old t-shirt made it just like new. Maybe I'll even stop by the store for some of that new car scent...

Also, not having the car start for me when we wanted to move it sucked, so we ended up pushing it out on to the patio. Later, as I went down to get the controller for my computer, I stopped by a store and got a charger for my battery that I've wanted for so long, so now it's juicing up just outside my window. I plan to drive it back in to the garage when the battery is topped up, and this time leave the windows down.

After this comes some more backuping of data, a re-install of windows (MDSNAA FTW), and then dinner. It smells like someone is cooking up something heavenly downstairs, so I might do dinner first, actually.

Until next time!

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Sunday, March 04, 2007

Trance Energy

It ended up being a good party. At first, when I got to Utrecht, I had been sleeping on the train, and for some reason I was hungry too, so I had a creeping suspicion that the night was going to such. The stomach problems just kept building and building, the closer we got to the entrance.
Once inside, I tried to get some food and found just some terrible french toast with spiced cheese. That was 2 euros I'll never get back.
As the night progressed though, things started to feel better and better though, culminating in a three hour stay at the main stage until they threw us out.
Now my plan is to stay awake until dinner time (5-6 hours to go), and then just crash to wake up fresh as a daisy at 6 or 7 am tomorrow morning, getting a head start on the day.
We'll see how long I can stay awake for, I'm hoping that it'll be possible to go all day. Maybe I should get one or two hours of sleep in, just to make it a bit easier, fix the worst part of the sleepiness. Maybe a shower will help. I mean, I have been dancing all night.

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Thursday, March 01, 2007

What's in a name?

Dutch names are funny. They are nothing like any other names from germanic-language-based countries.
I just emailed this dude at a computer store to ask about delivery. When I get the email back, it's signed "Bas Rave".

Bass Rave, I mean, how cool is that name! I would LOVE to have a name like that. Not only is it a proper dutch name, but it actually has a cool meaning!
So awesome...

It's like a rave, but with lots of bass!

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