Thursday, November 30, 2006

testing testing

husband finally invited me to join. not sure if it's good or bad.

today was the day of disappointments: first hotmail doesn't allow pop the emails anymore without paying 20$/year, second our provider of electricity and cabling sent an invoice for something they've cabled in Feb and wasn't even included in their original offer. yeah right. end of the year and they are looking for the jelen to pay for the xmas party. let them talk to the developer. BS&#%#!

tomorrow - tgif. friends got married recently so we're going to celebrate.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Our Anniversary

Another long weekend has been enjoyed. This time to celebrate our Anniversary, destination London. We had simply a most wonderful time and express thanks to all who showed us such hospitality.

Our time included a visit to the Casino Royale, Blonde film. A strikingly different Bond from the past. For example, more naked parts of Mr Craig were on show than any woman. The
parkour sequence at the beginning was simply breath-taking though Jackie Chan should probably be sent royalties.

We left London for Worcestershire and then Warwick. My old home town of Warwick was as beguiling as ever. The streets of Warwick and Leamington Spa simply ooze elegance in a way that is denied London with its over crowding and over commercialisation.

Harry Honda our trusty CRX worked hard all weekend. This car averages about 1000 miles per year and this weekend he managed over 500 miles without a moan.

On Sunday we experienced the pleasure of being able to continue shopping something that mainland Europe is missing.

And then finally using the expensive Gatwick Express we headed home via Geneva. I would say that never have I seen longer queues at the Gatwick bagscan. We suffered over 30 minutes of agonizingly and inequitable snaked queuing. Both passengers and staff looked angst. It's like waiting in the queue for a Disneyland ride, except here there is no happy ending.

Interestingly at Gatwick there is checkin, bagscan, duty free, boarding. In Geneva it is checkin, duty free, bagscan, boarding. So in Geneva your Duty Free purchases are placed in large seal once heavy duty translucent bags. Am I wrong, but surely a terrorist could: arrive Geneva with bomb making liquids, buy cosmetics in white plastic bottles (e.g. face lotion) at Duty Free, go into toilets, slice open bag with knife, put their chemicals into Duty Free translucent bag, use a portable bag sealer to reseal, discard bag sealer and knife in trash, get thru bagscan (your plastic bags will look perfectly intact) and board plane.

As usual
the full photo collection is here

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

A Lost Holiday

I always consult to find out what is going happen in my favourite TV soap opera. Today I was shocked to the core to discover the cast of Lost are taking a holiday. Last episode November 8th 2006, next episode February 7, 2007. How lazy is that!

Click on the picture to play the trailer and surely agree with me that this really tells us nothing.

I think really the answer is to refocus onto the Archers serial. The latest episode is always available on demand, and for free. The Archers is broadcast 6 days a week with an Omnibus on a Sunday, and has been running for over 20 years.

These Lost actors, well these youngsters don't know they are born do they?

Note:As usual to play any of my links I recommend you install VLC player and make it the default player for all your video and audio files including quicktime (.mov) and flash movie (.flv) and Real Audio (.ram) files. Another stress free way of playing Real Audio is to download The Real Alternative

You know you've been living in Switzerland too long when

You live alone in a studio and have a cleaning lady
You think getting up early is good
You think Flanagans, the Pickwicks and the Mulligans have a real Irish pub atmosphere
You don't think 15 francs for a glass of coke in a bar is outrageous
You read the Le Matin for news instead of finding a flat, job, or what's on at the movies
You notice how dirty French cars are
You believe the newspaper stand might actually be under surveillance and pay the full 2 francs instead of surreptitiously putting in 20 cents
You think radar cameras painted to look like lumps of cheese make them less oppressive
Beggars annoy you
You buy the most expensive model or variant of everything from razors to cars
You don't think it unusual that you have never met a Swiss who does hard manual labour like road-digging
You don't question why it takes 12-18 months and costs more than a million francs to build a modest residential house
You start to wonder what's wrong when a train is more than a minute late
You put on 300 francs worth of brightly coloured lycra to go for a bicycle ride
You think Swiss advertising is dynamic, clever and subtle
You think it's economically wasteful to have more than one brand of a product in a store
You actually get interested in the local elections
You try to defend cartel based economics to a visitor
You think that plaid jackets with flowery ties don't look that bad
You think it's fair that you can only wash clothes once a month
You wonder why anyone would want to shop outside of working hours
You think it's OK to drive slow on Sundays
You feel like you're broke if you have less than SFr 500 in your pocket
You dress up to go grocery shopping
You understand why Chinese food should cost more than normal food
You prefer Swiss wine
You wish that your town had expensive garbage bags too
You think it's OK for a Chinese restaurant to be run by a Swiss and staffed by Spaniards and Portuguese
You think Thursday night shopping is really convenient
You think that large American cars are 'cool'

You think it's cool to drink expensive imported American beers
You prefer fizzy mineral water to tap water
You throw a party and expect everyone to leave by 11:30pm
You clean up "during" parties
You expect dinner guests to help with the washing up
You begin to understand the subtlety of the Swiss cuisine
You appreciate the differences between the cantons
You feel really hungry if you don't start eating lunch by 12:00
You have breakfast cereal for dinner
You don't mind paying 20 francs for a paperback book
You think that Swisscom approved telephones are better
You buy a new one instead of getting it repaired
You think that 3% unemployment is high
You think it was through its own efforts that Switzerland stayed out of World War II
You consider getting goats and sheep to graze in your backyard
You only eat fondue in winter
You complain to your neighbour about the noise when he flushes his toilet after 10pm
You become interested in the myriad of insurance offerings
You become concerned about the color of your neighbour's curtains
You put Aromat on all your food
You worry about getting a cold when there's a draught
You become offended when reading this

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Ski snobbery

Yes that time of year is fast approaching. The Ski and snowboard season.

I often get asked by beginners what gear should I get, how much do I need to spend. Well a one word answer beckons Tchibo.

This German mail order company has a main claim to fame: that it produces a weekly changing mail order catalog backed up by a companion website. They have a no nonsense returns policy that would put many to shame.

Every winter Tchibo will almost certainly be selling a Laptop, winter clothes and most importantly Ski Gear! Here are the reasons you should consider it

  • For a beginner you don't want to spend a fortune as it may turn out that this winter past-time is not to your liking

  • Tchibo items are remarkable value for money, so much so that I know of a friend who takes their last Tchibo winter collection to the charity shop so they buy the new one in November.

  • The range is hard wearing and practical

  • It is available in multiple countries e.g. UK, Germany, Switzerland
  • I know a friend who bought a 60 Euro Tchibo ski jacket and tried to break it so they could go back to their 400 Euro fancy jacket. The fancy jacket is yet to be used

Some final tips:

  • Goggles need dual layer lenses and good ventilation slots otherwise they will steam up
  • Fancy jackets and trousers use Gortex or equivalent breathable materials to let your sweat out. If you are really sweaty, um, I mean if you exert a lot of effort sking or boarding then you might need to spend the extra on fancy clothing.
  • There is a rating system. Over 5000mm is fine. For boarding I find I get a lot wetter from the inside rather than ingress from snow on the outside.
  • I recommend using a helmet so a jacket with a detachable hood is prefered (because you won't need it and it will just flap around)
  • That RECCO aerial I just find annoying
  • Boarding boots using a Boa wire are very convenient and allow you to adjust boot tightness on the fly
  • Buying a SnowBoard and boots should be done in conjunction with an expert friend who knows your budget and abilities. Use Blue Tomato for guide prices

Initial Tchibo Ski offerings

Microsoft inherits the Blue Screen of Death (screensaver)

SysInternals that fantastic company producing advanced Windows utilities was acquired by Microsoft in July 2006. And so Microsoft has perhaps unintentionally adopted the BlueScreen Screen Saver

As usual it is difficult to better the Wikipedia article on the Blue Screen of Death

Which reminds me for those of in the USA get the T shirt and ..

HELL explained by Chemistry Student

The following is an actual question given on a University of Washington chemistry mid-term.

The answer by one student was so "profound" that the professor shared it with colleagues, via the internet, which is, of course,why we now have the pleasure of enjoying it as well :

Bonus Question: Is Hell exothermic (gives off heat) or endothermic (absorbs heat)?

Most of the students wrote proofs of their beliefs using Boyle's Law (gas cools when it expands and heats when it is compressed) or some variant.

One student, however, wrote the following:

First, we need to know how the mass of Hell is changing in time. So we need to know the rate at which souls are moving into Hell and the rate at which they are leaving. I think that we can safely assume that once a soul gets to Hell, it will not leave. Therefore, no souls are leaving. As for how many souls are entering Hell, let's look at the different religions that exist in the world today. Most of these religions state that if you are not a member of their religion, you will go to Hell. Since there is more than one of these religions and since people do not belong to more than one religion, we can project that all souls go to Hell. With birth and death rates as they are, we can expect the number of souls in Hell to increase exponentially. Now, we look at the rate of change of the volume in Hell because Boyle's Law states that in order for the temperature and pressure in Hell to stay the same, the volume of Hell has to expand proportionately as souls are added.

This gives two possibilities:
1. If Hell is expanding at a slower rate than the rate at which souls enter Hell, then the temperature and pressure in Hell will increase until all Hell breaks loose.
2. If Hell is expanding at a rate faster than the increase of souls in Hell, then the temperature and pressure will drop until Hell freezes over.

So which is it?
If we accept the postulate given to me by Teresa during my Freshman year that, "It will be a cold day in Hell before I sleep with you," and take into account the fact that I slept with her last night, then number two must be true, and thus I am sure that Hell is exothermic and has already frozen over.

The corollary of this theory is that since Hell has frozen over, it follows that it is not accepting any more souls and is therefore, extinct......leaving only Heaven, thereby proving the existence of a divine being which explains why, last night, Teresa kept shouting "Oh my God."

ASUS R2H come to me now

Shortly we will be embarking on our first serious holiday of the year. Friends will recall that Agata has the misfortune to snap her achilies tendon 36 hours before our flight to Delhi, India this summer thus cancelling our holiday.

Now, 3 months later she is able to walk without crutches and so the India trip is back in plan.

This is the worlds most longwinded way of saying that I just ordered an ASUS R2H Ultra Mobile PC. Because that travel 7 year old Sony vaio C1X just can't cut it.
Overall the R2H is a tablet based Windows XP device with inbuilt fingerprint reader, 1.3MP webcam, GPS, 60GB 1.8" Hard Disk and 768MB memory (expandable to 1.2GB). The picture shows it to be rather industrial looking and no visual match for the Samsung Q1.
Despite not having any cellphone capability and not conclusively being able to run Microsoft Vista I thought at worst I could use it as a fancy GPS, or a Movie viewer using something like VLC player.
Hopefully though it will fulfill the requirements of a rugged travel portable, able to dump the photographs onto from the digital camera, able to store music and films sufficient for a multi week holiday, able to do some navigation with the GPS, and able to sneak onto unsecured wireless InterWeb points to read email.
The gadget has yet to arrive so ... thus far only links

Monday, November 13, 2006

Samsung SPH-P9000 Mobile Communicator

I think it is fairly prudent not to get too worked up about pre release products. I mean the OQO computer is a good example. 1 year late to production and then at what a price. Still, the Samsung SPH-P9000 would seem to be a perfect take it anywhere portable. Most importantly it is a cell phone, and it also throws in Windows XP and a keyboard, all in a foldable form factor.

This link has annoying pictures of it would seem some Korean chaps using several of them on a train. I mean, you are telling me you are using these devices today and retail will not start shipments to the public till Summer 2007 .... Grrrr.

Three goto Brussels and end up in Brugge

In an effort to do our European duty a visit to Brussels aka EC Heaquarters has been planned and executed. Thankfully although cold it did not rain and much time was spent literally chilling out and trying to find why Brussels is part time European HQ.

Having worked and sometimed lived in Southern Brussels my memory was only good enough to navigate to la Grande Place, the Tintin Shop and the Frittes shop.

A much better guide would be here. We found ..
Well the city centre including the railway station is very tatty
The Art galleries are worth a visit
The Museum of Chocolate is a total ripoff
The Grand Place is a tourist trap par excellence
Chocolates bought in town are (suprisingly) under half the cost of the duty free shop

Brugge (an hour train journey away) is a model town in Belgium. Spotlessly clean, well stocked with shops, reasonably priced accomodations, and touristy in a nice upmarket way. Recommended are: the art galleries, a boat tour, large quantities of eating, and shopping for keepsakes (not technology).

Overall a top time was had by all and all the incriminating photos are here

Friday, November 10, 2006

Core 2 Duo MacBook choice befuddles my brain

Well I see the Core 2 Duo Macbook is now shipping. I don't think one can deny that the lower price is justified from the Sinclair ZX Spectrum look-alike keyboard design. Perhaps Sir Clive could sue?

I bought a white G4 iBook (well several) and my last one developed a huge crack just below the keyboard so I kinda feel that the nice metal cased MacBook Pro would be a better match for my clumsyness. But there is the extra price to consider as well as my jaded comments, see below.

One thing is for sure, here the DVI output can only drive external displays upto 1920x1200 i.e. there is no dual link output, a feature that the MacBook Pro does have, and, you never know when you need to watch that movie on one of your home 2560x1600 screens, I know I do.

Well some research pointed me to MacBook tech specs but that is all for now

2 things I would say for sure
a) Core 2 Duo is not significantly faster but runs 64bit code, and has the more secure AMD64 instruction set I wonder if Apple will release a separate 64 bit OS-X or have I misunderstood something fundamental?
b) Yet again early adopter Apple MacBook or MacBook Pro owners get the privilege of being obsoleted in about 6 months of purchase. Way to go Apple!

So I am still sitting on the proverbial fence waiting to make a decision. Ho hum.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Not quite evil enough

And to continue my religious theme of the week let us remind ourselves of the indignation one feels when someone makes a half hearted attempt at anything. here is the video

Not enough Evidence

At last I have been introduced to a quality text that talks about the existence or otherwise of God.

I say at last since in 2006 I enjured one attempt to convert me over to the Muslim religion, a reading of the dubious
"The Qur'an Leads the way to Science" publication , followed by the even less convincing text "The Politically Incorrect guide to Islam" by Robert Spencer.

Richard's book is a welcome change. Whatever your current philosophical or religious stance, from deeply religious to
aetheist I would sincerely ask you to give this book a read or in this day and age a listen

If it turns out there is a God, I don't think he's evil but the worst that you can say about him is that basically he's an underachiever - Woody Allen

Euro Visions from Magnum Photos

I had a weekend back home in Poland recently and a friend invited me to visit the Euro(pean) Visions exhibition at the Warsaw Centre for Contemporary Art.

I had expected to be between a little and majorly bored despite having an interest in Photography. Luckily I was entirely wrong so wish to advertise it

Euro Visions presents the work of ten
Magnum photographers who pursued projects in the countries newly admitted to the European Union in 2004. The photographers present their works in the form they considered most appropriate, as a result of which the display includes large-format, color works, albums, intermedia projections with soundtracks and slide shows. This exhibition was first presented in September 2005 at the Centre Pompidou in Paris, and subsequently traveled to Milan and Budapest. Following its presentation in Warsaw, it will conclude its tour in 2007 in the city of Brussels.

Here are some more links ...

Alcatel Press Release Amazon Books Browse Photos

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Questions Questions

Questions, Questions is Radio 4's listener-led problem solving programme. It gives answers to those intriguing and seemingly imponderable questions which dog our daily life, and provides a billboard for their debate and discussion

24 Series 6 .. ETA ... January 15 2007

The sixth day is currently in production, and will begin airing on Sunday, January 14, and on Monday, January 15, 2007, with a two-night, four-hour season premiere. Day 6 takes place 20 months after the events of Season 5 following "a series of horrific terrorist attacks."