Peter Marklund

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Thu December 19, 2002

Why the OpenACS project uses AOLServer and TCL

This is a good article by Ben Adida on the choice of software platform for the OpenACS project.

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Wed December 18, 2002

Quote of the Day

Write something to suit yourself and many people will like it; write something to suit everybody and scarcely anyone will care for it.

-- Jesse Stuart

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Sun December 15, 2002

Open Source Software Increasingly in Demand

Recently I have noticed just how hot a topic Open Source software has become among decision makers in government and industry. Many people are still hesitant about it but want to know more. Others are beyond merely having accepted Open Source as an alternative - they are considering adopting it as a part of the IT policy of their organizations. Open Source software has completed an incredible transition from being something obscure and experimental that computer geeks and academics were playing with to becoming a competitive advantage for mainstream software companies.

Danska Teknologirådet has conducted a thorough investigation that concludes that open source software offers a huge (in the order of magnitude of billions of DEK) cost saving opportunity for the danish state.

Svenska statskontoret (the Swedish Agency of Public Management) has started an investigation into how Open Source software can be used by the agency and whether Open Source shall become a precondition for its central software purchasing (ramavtal).

David Wheeler at Red Hat has put together an impressive article with statistics showing the significant market share of open source software such as Apache and Linux. The article has statistics indicating that open source software is more reliable (measured in uptime) than commercial alternatives such as IIS and Windows. David Wheeler goes on to list investigations that suggest how Open Source software is very competitive by common criteria such as performance, scalability, security, and cost.

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Sun December 15, 2002

Vulgar but Funny

A friend of mine pointed me to a funny story by Mark Driver, I must admit that I had some really good laughs. Mr. Driver is a good writer indeed.

On president Bush's build up for war with Iraq:

"Feel that national muscle flexing, little people. It flexes for you. It is your muscle too. Become one with the larger power. Melt into empire. Don't you feel strong? Don't you feel potent? Don't you have war fever? Haven't you been convinced by all that amazing evidence? Or you can't wait for evidence? Do you wish they would hurry up and start dropping bombs on people before your family is destroyed by weapons of mass destruction? You may have no control over your shitty little life, but man are you gonna whup some Iraqi ass."

On relationships with women:

"I tell you, I'm starting to get the impression that women are sort of hard to please. When a woman says something to a man, she's lying. She's really saying something completely different. "I can't believe you left your socks in the middle of the fucking living room" actually means "You take me for granted and there's a cuter guy at work who would probably treat me way better." "You don't talk to me anymore" means "you won't let me babble on for hours without making faces." "I hate you" means "I hate that you're not as upset and emotional and as crazy as I am." "I'm moving out" means "I'm moving out no matter what but I'm still gonna get mad if you don't beg me to stay. In fact if you don't beg me to stay, I may stay just to piss you off." "

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Sat December 07, 2002

Deutsche Bank: Free Software is Big Business

The paper Free Software, Big Business? from Deutsche Bank research talks about the growing interest in Open Source and free software and about the increasingly successful Linux operating system.

The paper concludes that the quality of Open Source software is often equal to or better than that of commercial alternatives, and that Open Source represents a significant cost saving opportunity for financial companies like Deutsche Bank. Furthermore, Open Source competency could be become an important criteria in the evaluation and investment decisions of companies.

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Fri December 06, 2002

The Microsoft Hotmail Team Prefers Unix

The article MS paper touts Unix in Hotmail's Win2k switch makes for very interesting reading.

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Sat November 23, 2002

German was never better Explained

My american friend Carl Robert Blesius is residing in Heidelberg just like Mark Twain once did. Carl is organizing a german translation effort and therefore recently pointed out the classic Mark Twain text The Awful German Language to me. Is it possible to be funnier than Mark Twain is here? The text makes me choke with laughter! Mark Twain is a genious writer and thinker indeed.

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Sat November 09, 2002

There are Bad Movies, there are Terrible Movies,

there are average Adam Sandler movies, and then there is Mr. Deeds. Don't waste your time.

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Sun November 03, 2002

Elsker dig for Evigt

To borrow a sentence from a review at IMDB - Susanne Bier hits all the right notes in her first Dogme 95 movie Elsker dig for Evigt. I loved the movie - it touched me very deeply and I almost feel like I need to go see it again! Even though "Elsker dig for Evigt" is a sad and heart-breaking drama it wasn't nearly as dark and chilly as Lilja 4-Ever and I could leave the cinema thoughtful and emotional, but not disgusted. By the way, I read that both those movies are nominated for the best foreign film Oscar this year, an award I think they are both well worthy of.

The soundtrack with the french-indonesian singer Anggun and music by danish composers (Niels Brinck and Jesper Winge Leisner who also did the music for the movie "Den eneste ene") is excellent! Now I need to go buy that too...damn it annoys me that CD:s are so expensive! I wish the CD weren't more expensive than seeing the movie.

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Fri November 01, 2002

Quote of the day

When love and skill work together, expect a masterpiece.
-- John Ruskin

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Sun October 27, 2002

Movie Update

Lately I haven't been quite the movie-goer I usually am, but here are some movies I have been able to squeeze into my schedule.

The Importance of Being Earnest is a rather amusing but not too memorable little comedy with an impressive cast including Rupert Everett, Colin Firth (Miss Jones Diary), Judi Dench (the best female actress I know), and Tom Wilkinson (who did a great performance against Sissy Spacek in "In the Bedroom"). The plot took some interesting turns and there were hilarious moments. Judi Dench made every other actor seem insignificant with her mere presence. With her strong character and presence Judi Dench seems to be on par with the great Jack Nickolson.

After an impulse buy I found myself watching Chocolat on DVD. The press conference featured on the DVD (with Binoche, Hallström and his wife Olin) was more interesting than the actual movie, that was well packaged and smooth, but fell flat as it lacked suspense, credibility, and surprises.

Saving the best for last, Monsters Ball (featuring Halle Berry and Billy Bob Thornton) is a very dark, authentic, and touching movie. It deals with many issues - racism, father-son relationships, the death penalty, loneliness, passion, disillusionment, and hope. At many times the movie is quite unpleasant, but ultimately it is inspiring and positive. Don't miss it!

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Sun October 27, 2002

Jennifer Rush Nostalgia

I somewhere read the word "undone", and immediately came to think of the great 80-ies pop song "I come Undone" by Jennifer Rush. Here is the chorus:

With the touch of your hand I come undone
With the flash of your burning eyes I know
that you're the only one I come, I come
undone I come undone

I remember how I was listening to this song from a tape in my dads car in Hemavan where my parents had a house we used to go to every winter to ski. I loved the song then, and it's just as good now. What strikes me most is Jennifer Rush's cold but oh so beautiful and unique voice.

I still prefer Jennifer Rush's version of "The Power of Love" over the one that Celine Dion recorded later. Given the greatness of Celine Dion as a singer that's quite a compliment. Even more so when you consider that an original recording is not necessarily better than a cover, something I learned when I heard the stunning "Fields of Gold" (Sting's song) performed by Eva Cassidy.

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Sun October 20, 2002

I Thought I was a Friends Fan Until...

I found The one With all the Scripts with the complete scripts of all seasons in both english, french, and italian. Then there is this Ross Geller site where some guy has been watching all the DVDs and is filling in the scripts of the aired version with dialog and scenes that were added on the DVDs.

It amazes me how serious some people are about their hobbies, it really does. It's beautiful though how the web lets such people share the results of all their hard labors with the rest of the world, inhabited mostly by people like myself who would never take the time out to do something like that.

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Sat October 19, 2002

The Best Soul CD I've Heard

I bought it today - Lauryn Hill's MTV Unplugged 2.0 - and I totally love it! It's a double CD with all new material by Lauryn and she performs it alone with her guitar sharing wisdom from her life in between the songs. Words are futile in describing music. But the music and performance are boldly intimate and naked, emotionally intense, philosophical, religious, full of struggle and darkness and yet very positive and inspiring.

I feel that despite her young age Lauryn is already a soul legend. Other popular artists in the soul genre such as Alicia Keyes, Mary J Blige, Destiny's Child, and Janet Jackson are all fine performers. However, Lauryn Hill is so genuine, true, and original and I compare her to giants such as Stevie Wonder and Tracy Chapman.

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Sat October 19, 2002

Finally a Pair of Decent Glasses

I've just tried out two new pairs of glasses that can be found in my glasses photo folder. They are both of the brand Birka, and yes, I know, they are deceptively similar :-) But if you right click on this photo of compromise 1 and this photo of compromise 2 and choose to open link in new window you'll be able to spot the difference.

I'm quite happy and relieved to finally have found some glasses that I really like.

Let me know what you think!

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Sat October 19, 2002

Life in New York

From a Blog found at NYCBloggers about life in New York:

sushi is a valuable natural resource.
"don't walk" is just a suggestion.
nothing exists beyond the five boroughs (hey, that's just what they tell me).
10 blocks is not far at all. ask me about 40 and then we can talk.
black is not the only color we wear, but it's still the best.
no, i haven't met X, Y or Z celebrity, and the ones i have seen or said hello to
probably aren't important to you anyway, so just shut the fuck up.
shut the fuck up.
fuck you, you fuckin' fuck.
apartments are small- really fucking small. 500 square feet is a palace.
everything is expensive. even free shit isn't really free.
nobody gives a shit, except the Krishna's, but they just want you to buy their stupid book.
Times Square sucks.
there is no Mall.
if you can't take it, go back where you came from.
nobody is ever from here.
have a nice fucking day.

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Sat October 19, 2002

NYC Bloggers

NYC Bloggers attempts to collect the bloggers in New York and organize them by address so that people can click on a map to narrow in on bloggers in their neighborhood. Pretty cool, huh?

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Sat October 19, 2002

US Gun Legislation - Will Americans Ever Learn?

Michael More explains that his movie about gun legislation in the US is not good news when:

"...a crazed sniper is exercising his constitutional right to own a high-powered rifle. Not when John Ashcroft is still prohibiting the FBI from looking through the gun background check files to see if any of the 19 hijackers or their associates purchased any weapons prior to 9/11 -- because THAT, we are told, would "violate" these terrorists' sacred Second Amendment rights!"

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Sat October 19, 2002

More Wisdom

Most people rust out due to lack of challenge. Few people rust out due to overuse.
-- Unknown

No trumpets sound when the important decisions of our life are made. Destiny is made known silently.
-- Agnes DeMille

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Wed October 16, 2002

Quotes of the Day

By all means marry; if you get a good wife, you'll be happy. If you get a bad one, you'll become a philosopher.
-- Socrates

Although prepared for martyrdom, I preferred that it be postponed.
-- Sir Winston Churchill

History will be kind to me for I intend to write it.
-- Sir Winston Churchill

Silence is the virtue of fools.
-- Sir Francis Bacon

Aim for success, not perfection. Never give up your right to be wrong, because then you will lose the ability to learn new things and move forward with your life.
-- Dr. David M. Burns

There's a fine line between genius and insanity. I have erased this line.
-- Oscar Levant (1906 - 1972)

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Mon October 14, 2002

The Unfulfilled Promises of Spam

Checkout the list of things you could do if only half of what is promised in the email spam we receive were true. The Kottke weblog is supposedly one of the most popular on the web right now, and yes, it is quite amusing.

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Sun October 13, 2002

Supposedly Good Web Sites are Still Immature

I was reminded of the immaturity of the web when I registered at the Lunarstorm community recently. Lunarstorm is the by far biggest online community in Sweden and was elected best Swedish website 2002 by Internet World.

Given this award and the popularity of the site my expectations were of course quite high when I set out to sign up for an account. But as I realized previously when I tried to register at QXL (the auctioning site) registering at web sites can be quite a hurdle indeed. The problem at the QXL site was that I typed my address as Ingemundsvägen rather than Ingemunds väg and they were validating the address against some database at the swedish post.

In the case of Lunarstorm, the only thing that saved me from giving up when the registration form kept complaining about my input was that I was able to read the Javascript code of the page to figure out how validation was done. It turned out that only swedish phone numbers are accepted, and international prefixes such as 0046 or +46 are not permissible mind you. The bigger problem however was that the form won't accept foreign addresses. Or rather, my danish address was ok, but then the area code had to consist of 5 digits so I ended up supplying them with a faulty one. To add irony to the story, when I diligently tried to submit a trouble report form to tell the administrators of the site about my registration problems I got - surprise, surprise - an error message! When clicking the back button to see if I could resubmit the form my text was gone. At that point I left Lunarstorm...

These experiences confirm just how immature the web, and computer programs at large, still are, and how even the best sites out there are very lacking in terms of usability and reliability.

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Sat October 12, 2002

A Song I Can't Get Enough Of

The other day I caught the "Just Like Water" video from Lauryn Hills MTV unplugged performance on TV. The song lingered in my mind and I knew I had to hear it again. Now I have it in mp3 format and I just can't stop listening to it - it's so beautiful!

I remember hearing about the release of the MTV unplugged album this summer. Some music critic was recommending the TV viewers to not buy it and instead wait for Lauryn's next studio album. I shouldn't have paid attention to that recommendation!

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Sat October 12, 2002

Alice's Weblog

Alice has landed in Lima/Peru and her weblog speaks of great adventure. Her first post is quite a challenging but good excersise for my poor french...:-)

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Sat October 12, 2002

Breathtaking Photography, Inspiring Texts

Take a look at the Noah Grey Site - I'm very impressed! This photo reminds me of just how beautiful the California coastline is. I wanna go back there now!

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Sat October 12, 2002

The Mysteries of Decisions

New York Times writes about this years Nobel Prize winners in Economics (Vernon L. Smith and Daniel Kahneman) and the kind of idiosyncracies in peoples decisions that they try to explain.

Why is it that people are willing to take a 20 minute trip to buy a calculator for $10 instead of $15 but are not willing to make the same trip to buy a jacket for $120 instead of $125 eventhough the saving is the same?

Or how about this. The lives of 600 people are at stake and you have two choices. The first option is that you will know for certain that 200 people are saved. The other is that there is a one third chance that all people will live and a two third chance that none will live. When phrased this way about 70% of people choose the first option. However, when re-wording the first option to say that 400 people will die for certain, the result is reversed. In other words, people prefer a certain positive outcome over an uncertain but bigger gain. However, when faced with a certain negative outcome the uncertain scenario is preferable.

Nothing that will keep me awake at night, but still fascinating...

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Sun October 06, 2002

Lukas Moodysson 4-Ever

Being a man never felt as bad as when I was walking out from the Dagmar cinema in Copenhagen having seen Lilja 4-Ever - the celebrated third movie by swedish director Lukas Moodysson. My expectations for the movie were set quite high and I was not disappointed. Lilja 4-Ever is a an amazingly authentic and chilly masterpiece quite different from Moodysson's previous work (Show Me Love, and Together). The movie is about child prostitution, about friendship and loneliness, hope, disillusionment, and abuse.

The disturbing topic aside, what makes this movie stand out from any other movie I've seen (including many Dogma movies) is that it seems to have no color, no bias, it is so naked, transparent, and minimalist, exposing reality in its full awfulness, and doing so in a stronger way than a documentary could. The movie itself is never in the foreground, it's even like the movie didn't exist. This is an amazing achievement by Moodysson.

Lilja 4-Ever made me realize how pathetic my own little problems are. It reminded me that friendship is what really matters. It made me wonder if I couldn't somehow help people who are suffering like Lilja.

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Tue October 01, 2002

A Magical Weekend

The Louvre in Paris

I spent a fantastic weekend in a sunny Paris combining both business and pleasure (with a clear emphasis on the latter). I stayed at the cosy Young and Happy Hostel on rue Mouffetard where I met all kinds of interesting people from Dublin, Vancouver, California and Australia. I had the best Crepes ever at a greek creperie on rue Mouffetard and I enjoyed fillings such as strawberry, nutella and banana, ham and cheese and salad. Mmmm.... those crepes were surprisingly delicious!

I enjoyed a very special evening in the cave of the Caveau de la Huchette jazz club where people were swinging to a good band and it genuinely felt like being transported back in time.

I made some interesting contacts in between lectures at the Prometeus E-Learning conference on sunday and monday. I'm going to follow up on these contacts to inform people about the .LRN e-learning platform.

On a lunch break from the conference I had a wonderful and sunny picknick with my dear friend Alice drinking fine Bordeaux wine with her friends on the charming wooden bridge right next to the Louvre with a splendid view over the Seine. On monday I had a coffee with Alice on a beautiful square on rue Mouffetard. There's something very special about having a coffee in the sun at a Parisian cafe. Add to that the company of Alice Cabane, and there is perfection. Alice is leaving for Peru and I promised to visit her there.

I just found out that I can travel for 120 Euros to Paris and Nice from Copenhagen with GoodJet. I'm certainly returning to Paris and I would love to visit Nice! You can check out the photos I took during my Paris visit here.

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Wed September 18, 2002

The Social Democrats Mean Continued Relative Wealth Decline

So the outcome of the swedish election was no big surprise. My initial reaction, struggling to be positive, was that, oh well, continued governance by the Social Democrats and Göran Persson is no worse than a status quo, it's business and politics as usual, how bad can that be?

However, as a good friend of mine pointed out the Social Democrats bring not status quo, but continued deterioration. In terms of material wealth the deterioration is only relative of course, but it is significant. According to an interesting article in the Financial Times labeled "Sweden's ageing model" growth during the last 30 years in Sweden has averaged 2.1%, compared to 2.6% in the EU and 3.1% in the US.

I don't think it has quite sunk in with swedes that Sweden is less wealthy than other western countries. When bringing this issue up some people will object that money and growth is not what matters in life. However, the majority of people will realize that a slower growth is a real problem. It cannot be proven of course that high levels of taxes and various restrictions on trade such as price regulations decrease growth. However, it's intuitive and suggested by economic theory and many prominent economists believe in it. It has also been argued by the two major news papers in Sweden for as long as I can remember. Reading the leaders of those papers I am amazed by how little the political debate and landscape have changed over the last ten years.

So overall then politically there is nothing new under the sun in Sweden. Sometimes no news is bad news.

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Tue September 03, 2002

Ten Best Intranets 2002

Out of about a hundred nominated intranets, Jakob Nielsen at the Nielsen Norman Group has chosen the ten best. Among other things, Mr Nielsen emphasizes the importance of task based rather than organization based navigation schemes, and the value of a centralized and consistent design.

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Sun August 25, 2002

Web Logs Abound

There are gazillions of web logs out there on the web now and quite a few of them can be found at the EatonWeb Portal. Two good techie web logs that are listed there are Aaron Swartz's log and the Token Ramblings log. My favorite blog is still the one that Lars Pind maintains ... I might be a little biased in saying that of course :-)

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Mon August 19, 2002

The Value of Open Source

In an interview at, security and Open Source Software (OSS) expert David Wheeler talks about the impact and value of Open Source:

"OSS/FS has made the world a far better place. Examples include the Internet (particularly the BSD TCP/IP stack), the Internet's naming system that makes the Internet practical (DNS through bind), universal e- mail (sendmail), and the World Wide Web (NCSA httpd and Apache). OSS/FS has made it far easier for people to communicate and take control over their lives."

"It's reasonable to expect that OSS/FS will continue to innovate faster than its competitors. After all, the techniques of OSS/FS development are very similar to scientific inquiry; both make it possible to merge a large number of ideas into a larger framework everyone can draw from. As Microsoft's secret internal document (now called Halloween I) notes, "Research/teaching projects on top of Linux are easily disseminated due to the wide availability of Linux source. In particular, this often means that new research ideas are first implemented and available on Linux before they are available/incorporated into other platforms...The ability of the OSS process to collect and harness the collective IQ of thousands of individuals across the Internet is simply amazing.""

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Mon August 19, 2002

Memorable Movies This Summer

I have seen a couple of great movies in Copenhagen this summer: Pollock, Mulholland Drive, and Y tu mamá también.

The movie about the modernist painter Jackson Pollock was quite dark and interesting and Ed Harris impressed just like he did in A Beautiful Mind.

My expectations on Mulholland Drive were set very low as I found the trailer so silly and hadn't seen much of David Lynch before. I was reluctant to see the movie but I thought I had to find out what all the fuzz about David Lynch was about, and I did find out allright! Lynch has a characteristic style that is dark, mysterious, dreamlike, and quite beaufiful. I was totally blown away by the movie eventhough I didn't really understand the plot that mixed dream with reality in non-chronological and cunning ways.

Y tu mamá también is a mexican comedy and drama about two teenage boys, their exploration of sex, jealosy, and friendship. It lived up to expectations set high by Amores Perros, another mexican movie, also starring Gael Garcia Bernal. The sexual scenes in the movie were unusually explicit and a little embarrassing. The movie succeeded both as a comedy and drama, shifting often and abruptly between the two. It was shocking and exciting, yet truthful and ultimately thought provoking.

I watched all of these movies at Dagmar Teatret - an alternative and cultural, but still quite big and central cinema in Copenhagen.

I guess I'm quite some movie goer. In Stockholm I went with friends to see Ghost World and The Others for the fourth and third time respectively. Ghost World I remember seeing about a year ago at Kendall Square cinema close to MIT in Cambridge/Boston (the cinema is part of Landmark Theatres - a cinema chain in the US with a nice focus on alternative and foreign films). The Others I believe I saw at Warner Village at Leicester Square in London sometime last autumn. I wonder if the huge differences in premiere time betweeen the US and Europe, and even within Europe, are ever going away? A lot of people find the delayed of premieres in Europe annoying, and it should be increasingly difficult to defend them as the influx of TV talk shows, magazines, and DVDs from the US to Europe continues to grow.

Now Monsters Ball and Minority Report are on my movie wish list...

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Tue August 13, 2002

A Great Economic Mind Explains Bad English Food

I found a hilarious text by Paul Krugman that shows once again what a great writer he is. Here is an excerpt:

"But the history of English food suggests that even on so basic a matter as eating, a free-market economy can get trapped for an extended period in a bad equilibrium in which good things are not demanded because they have never been supplied, and are not supplied because not enough people demand them."

Mr Krugman is working on a new major textbook in economics that I just have to get once it's published. The reason I checked back on Krugman's homepage was that I read an article in the Economist about Rudi Dornbusch who recently passed away. Apparently Rudi Dornbusch had a great influence on Paul Krugman. They have both had a rare talent for making the seemingly dull subject of economics quite exciting.

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Thu July 25, 2002

Three Weeks in Copenhagen Already

I can't belive it's been three weeks since I last posted in my weblog! I have spent those three weeks with Lars Pind and his Collaboraid in Copenhagen and I've had quite a good time despite all the work. I am aware of the fact that it's July and that as a swede I'm supposed to be on vacation. However, it seems I will get at least one week of vacation as I am flying back to Stockholm this saturday and will probably spend a couple of relaxing days in my hometown Umea next week.

I have met many nice and interesting people here in Copenhagen. I was given a very warm welcome by Lars and his Caroline with a delicious dinner when I arrived. We walked along the sea and Lars pointed out to me how everything here was centered around this sea - his appartment, my room and our office.

Once I was able to borrow a bike I rediscovered just how wonderfully you do get around on a bicycle. From Collaboraids office and the place that I am staying I can easily reach the city center on bike in ten minutes whilst getting fresh air, exercise and a good look at the surroundings. No more worrying about catching the last train, no more holding back on drinking because you need to drive a car...

Being able to bike downtown so easily I've had no excuse for not checking out the nightlife of Copenhagen. So far, I've found two venues that I'd like to recommend. The Copenhagen Jazzhouse is a great place to have a drink and listen to a quality jazz concert. At midnight they open up for a younger crowd as the disco starts and the house is filled with a mixture of old and new funk, soul, hip-hop and jazz. A good place to dance salsa and drink Salsito (a mexican style tequila beer - their own brand?) is Sabor Latino. They have drop-in beginner lessons in Salsa at 22.00 on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.

I am hoping to be able to make some weekend excursions in Denmark before summer is over - which judging by how fast the last three weeks have passed will be real soon now. A destination that suggested itself early on was the island Bornholm. Another alternative was provided by a nice article in Dagens Nyheter (in swedish) about northern Sjaelland and resorts such as Liseleje and Gilleleje. In Liseleje there is the HC Andersen house where the original owner used to make pancakes read HC Andersen fairytales to her guests. Now, doesn't that sound like heaven on earth!?

The article also mentions some of the Danish celebrities that used to spend their summers in the resorts of northern Sjaelland such as Soren Kirkegaard and Niels Bohr. Another danish celebrity that fascinates me is the designer Arne Jacobsen. I had certainly seen his cool egg chairs before but I didn't know they were by this world famous danish designer. There is an exhibition about Jacobsen touring the world called Evergreens and Nevergreens that you should attend if you can.

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Fri July 05, 2002

4:th of July - An Evening with Isaac Hayes at Berns

I spent a very expensive but delightful 4:th of July evening at the posh and beautiful venue Berns at the heart of Stockholm. The attraction of the evening was the old (and to me unfamiliar) soul legend Isaac Hayes. The concert, though well performed and interesting, never really got me singing or dancing along but was still enjoyable.

I was very impressed with the ornate interiors of Berns including the giant chandeliers. A nice thing to do at Berns is to hang out in the wine bar and take their blind test of wines. It turned out the wine I liked the best was their house wine that they sold for a mere 800 SEK a bottle... :-)

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Thu July 04, 2002

Quotes, Quotes, and more Quotes

I've been on the lookout for good quote collections on the web lately and it seems I've found some now with the help of my friend Alice. Here is a list of sites that I will be collecting new pearls of wisdom from:

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Thu July 04, 2002

Inspirational Words on Life

I think a change has been long overdue in my life, and I believe that change is perfectly epitomized by the poem "If I had my life to live over" by Nadine Starr. The poem says it all, I feel I have nothing to add :-)

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Thu July 04, 2002

Sailing Around Gotland

The swedish sailing competition Gotland Runt started recently, and it sure does look nice! The competition starts in the Stockholm archipelago and takes the participants around the beautiful island and summer paradise Gotland.

I have been wanting to take a sailing course for years now and it seems like this autumn I might be able to make it happen with the help of my dear friend Alice Cabane who is holding courses in France. Exciting!

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Thu July 04, 2002

Rosalind Franklin: The Overlooked Lady of DNA

Financial Times wrote last weekend about the chemist Rosalind Franklin whose "X-ray photographs were crucial to the discovery of DNA" but who supposedly never quite received the appreciation she deserved from her male colleagues and the Nobel committe. The article is fascinating as the story of Franklin has a touch of mystery to it. She was not only a genius, but also an attractive and opinionated woman who was dismissed by Nobel Prize winner James Watson as the woman who "had to go or be put in her place".

The most interesting part of the article was this analysis of the exciting world of science (note, Brenda Maddox wrote a Biography on Franklin):

While Franklin's personality eludes Maddox, she has grasped the nature of her work: the fact that science is also business, politics and sport; the scientist's alertness to patterning; the importance of technology; the anxiety about funding (Franklin was dismayed to be sponsored by a manufacturer of cement and asbestos); the bullying, lionised professors; and the enforced collaboration. In Franklin's case, this meant working with Maurice Wilkins, whom she despised - "He's so middle class, Vittorio!"

This quote reminds me that genious scientists are human beings after all and that the scientific world is no cleaner or fairer or more rational than any other field of human endeavor.

It seems Hollywood has caught on to the idea of stories (real or fictional) about successful scientist with intriguing personal lifes, examples include A Beautiful Mind and Good Will Hunting. There are a number of Biographies about Franklin but sadly I won't find the time to read them. So here's a money-making tip to Hollywood - throw together a movie on Rosalind Franklins life and I'll be all over it :-)

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Wed July 03, 2002

Property at the Heart of London - Suddenly Flats in Stockholm seem Comparatively Cheap...

I have been looking into buying a flat in Stockholm lately and, like so many others, I have been terrified by the high price level. However, in the FT article "Mayfair on the mend" some price quotes are given that put things into perspective.

It turns out flats in Knightsbridge and Mayfair average 1100 pounds/square feet and 1000 pounds/square feet respectively. If my maths still serves me right this should roughly be equivalent to 150,000 swedish krona per square meter. The corresponding figure for Stockholm is about 25,000 - so there is a factor six difference!

I'm lucky I didn't have to pay the rent for the flat I was staying in in Mayfair while I was working for ArsDigita there! However, eventhough I wasn't paying any rent I still managed to spend astronomous amounts of money each month while staying in London. That money would have come in handy for buying an apartment in Stockholm... Oh well, I guess the IT bubble got to my head too. I think I learned a lesson or two going along for the ride and I'm glad I'm back with both feet on the ground now.

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Wed July 03, 2002

Extravagant Wine Tasting with Scientific Approach

In the FT article Chance of a lifetime for wine gurus a quite outstanding and amazing wine tasting that was organized by particle physicist Bipin Desai in Los Angeles is described. The objective was to test the (supposedly high but hyped) quality of the 1982 Bordeaux red wines by using a blind test. The tickets to the event were $6,600 - out of reach to anybody but millionairs and wine gurus.

The result seems to be that while the 1982 scored well there were many other vintages (1990, 1989, 1961 etc.) that were about as highly rated with no vintage stepping out as a clear winner. Even though there was no consensus among participants the favored vintage seems to vary mostly depending on which Chateau it's from.

Hmmm, wonder if I can squeeze in a visit at Systembolaget (government controled liquor store) today after work... Drinking wine is better than writing about it :-)

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Tue July 02, 2002

Well Said on the World Cup Final

On the plane back from the OpenACS Social in Amsterdam I read a nice article in the Financial Times on the World Cup Final between Brazil and German. I especially liked how they described the match as:

"It is the footballing equivalent of the unstoppable force meeting the immovable object. But tomorrow, something has to give."

We all know what the outcome of the game was, 2-0 for Brazil - quite fair in my humble opinion.

Financial Times is increasingly becoming one of my favorite publications. I especially like their weekend editions, it would be nice to get a subscription. Financial Times also has a nice website that I haven't used much but that seems well designed and well functioning.

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Mon June 24, 2002

Earth from Above - Marvelous Photography

There is a phantastic photo excibition right now at Nybroplan in Stockholm that I had a chance to look at briefly last week. The excibition is called "The Earth from Above" and is touring the world. You can find out if they are coming to your city at the Yanna Arthus-Bertrand site. To get an idea of the kind of photos I am talking about, take a look at this photo.

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Thu June 20, 2002

My Ambition for the Weekend - to Not Have Any Ambitions

I am one of those people suffering from being over-ambitious. Mostly I am too ambitious about my work, constantly carrying some computer book around that I think I need to read and seldom taking the time off to fully relax for more than a couple of hours (such as when I'm at the cinema). This weekend will be different - I am going up to Umeå to celebrate mid-summer with my family. I decided not to bring my laptop, no computer books, no plans, no worries, no pressure, just relaxation and harmony. Ahhh, entering into the realm of no ambitions feels great, I might grow addicted to it one of these days...

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Wed June 19, 2002

Efficient Web UIs - the Importance of Conventions and Simplicity

I have sometimes been in discussions with colleagues over the merits of using a web interface versus using Java applets or desktop applications. Recently I have been strengthened in my belief that eventhough (or possibly because) the web UI is rather limited in its set of features it is in most cases still preferable. Let me give you two examples of where web applications with minimalistic and conventional UIs have been superior compared to desktop apps:

By now it should be obvious which point I am trying to make: UIs should be simple and follow conventions. Also, FastMail shows that it is possible to design quite powerful and efficient web interfaces with plain HTML. There are two ubiquitous UI conventions in place today, that of the web and that of Microsoft Windows. Usability would benefit greatly if application developers would stick to either of these two UI paradigms and keep their UIs simple and focused.

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Wed June 19, 2002

Linux Increasingly Viable as a Desktop OS

Encouraging news about Linux in Computer Sweden today:

Finnish politicians have passed a law that demands that their authorities transition from Windows to Linux. The motivation behind the law is that Linux is considered more secure and reliable. The law was inspired by an initiative taken by German authorities to transition to Linux. Unfortunately, as concluded in the Wired article U.S. Gov't Still Penguin Shy, adoption by US authorities of Linux is still minimal at best.

CodeWeavers recently released CrossOver Office 1.1.0 that enables Microsoft Office to be run on Linux. CodeWeavers specialize in helping companies make the transition from Windows to Linux by making it possible to use Windows software under Linux. Initiatives taken be German and Finnish politicians indicate that this might become quite a lucrative business.

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Wed June 12, 2002

Best Online Community in Sweden

The swedish magazine Internet World has compiled a list of the 100 best websites in Sweden. The top five sites are:

  1. Lunarstorm
  2. Gula Sidorna (the yellow pages)
  3. TV4
  4. Pricerunner
  5. Aftonbladet

I looked at the Lunarstorm community briefly before and it looks quite nice (I wish I would have built a popular community like that...). I believe the site was built as a hobby by a few teenagers in Sweden using Open Source software (go open source!).

If I am to pick on the Lunarstorm site one thing that I immediately disliked is their use of frames. There is still a lot of room for usability improvement on the web. A lot of the big swedish sites that I have seen use a fixed width layout with a huge right margin. The right margin is just a filler area and is of no benefit to the user. The fixed width means that the pages won't adjust to big monitors. I have recently read a number of books on web usability, most of them by Jakob Nielsen, and I am going to publish an article on that topic here soon.

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Wed June 12, 2002

ADSL Prices Going up

I just read in Computer Sweden that Bostream - a Swedish company offering ADSL service - are raising their monthly ADSL fees from 249 SEK to 449 SEK. That's quite some raise! Bostream offers speeds of 2.5 Mbit/s downstream and 768 Kbit/s upstream which is the fastest ADSL connection you can get in Sweden.

Myself I'm still stuck with a modem connection in my appartment out in Sigtuna outside Stockholm. I wish Telia could at least tell me when ADSL will be available in my area. I mean, they should have some kind of plan for their ADSL expansion, it can't just happen at random. I have been surprised though with how well I have been able to get by with a modem connection. Of course, a modem sucks when you need to do big downloads or stay online for long periods of times. Speaking of things that suck, I find it very annoying to work behind a corporate firewall where I can't use chat clients and I can't log on to my server. I feel shut off from the world. Oh well, at least I have a phone in my office...

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Wed May 29, 2002

Destiny's Child Disappoint in Stockholm

I can't remember having walked away disappointed from a concert before, but from Destiny's Childs concert at Globen yesterday I really did. I knew that the acoustics at Globen were lacking, but I didn't see the terrible sound of this concert coming! I don't know just which sound effects the sound engineers were using, but the voices seemed to have so much reverb (echo) added to them that I could barely discern a word of what the artists were singing (or saying in between the songs, not that I think it was anything of interest...). The concert was very monotonous - one song was orchestrated and performed like the next and the mood never changed much. It was like one hectic medley of some of their biggest hits performed on routine in just over one hour. The artists always felt remote and the show artificial. The concert was anything but personal.

After such devastating criticism it is all the more enjoyable to reminisce some of the great concerts that I have experienced in the past, Whitney Huoston at Globen in Stockholm, Lauryn Hill in Vienna, Radiohead in Boston, Depeche Mode at Wembley in London, India Arie at Cirkus in Stockholm and last but not least Petra Stetina's virtuoso violin performance with Norrlands Nations Salongsorkester in Uppsala... It's a good thing the Destiny's Child concert is but an exception and concerts are still well worth going to!

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Sat May 18, 2002

homepage revamped

I took down my site for a couple of hours in order to be able to upgrade the server software. The visible changes to the site are fairly small but I have spent quite some time on the admin interface of the Photo Archive application. I hope that some of the other OpenACS developers will find this application useful eventhough it's missing some important features and is still in a rough shape. I am quite happy with how it lets me upload photos in bulk, navigate photos easily and move photos between folders.

I am very pleased and excited to finally have my own homepage up and running. As is often the case the homepage project turned out to be more work than expected, but it was definetely worth the while. I would like to thank my good friend Mohan Pakkurti for helping me host this site and for being such a great inspiration! I am also very grateful to Lars Pind whose amazing website I keep coming back to for inspiration and whose elegant and useful software helped me build the site. Cheers also to Per Nyfelt at Nordic Wave who helped me turn my old PC into a full fledged server...

It's late now and I desperately need some sleep! Please let me know if you have any feedback on this site!

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