Peter Marklund

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Fri November 12, 2004
The IT Business

Search is Big but Microsoft is Bigger

In Teknisk uheld i Microsofts Google-udfordrer danish ComputerWorld writes about Microsoft's new enhanced search service based on Yahoo/Inktomi technology that is to take on Google. Supposedly the new search service has cost 600 million danish kronor to develop. That is small potato for Microsoft though where the MSN division has a turnover of a mere 2 billion danish kronor compared to 211 billion for the whole company...

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Thu November 04, 2004
Politics

Moral Values Deciding Factor

The New York Times writes:

Of the people who chose "moral values" as their top issue, 80 percent voted for Mr. Bush. (For people who chose the economy/jobs, 80 percent voted for Mr. Kerry.) Nearly one-quarter of the electorate was made up of white evangelical and born-again Christians, and they voted four to one for Mr. Bush.

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Sun October 31, 2004
Salsa

Tracing the origins of a dance

SalsaNewYork.com has an excellent collection of articles on salsa and its origins. In the text Who owns Salsa, nationality, ethnicity and clave Norman Urquía concludes:

So a simple question like "where's salsa from" leads us to questions like "what is nationality", "what is ethnicity" and "what is identity" and the idea of a music moving around the world and forming a joint pop culture. Its not a simple subject, you could do a PhD on it (as I am) and still not find a definitive answer. So now, when people ask me "where's salsa from", I say "If you've got a couple of weeks, I can start to explain, but wouldn't you rather dance instead?"

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Sat October 30, 2004

Quote of the Day

Dancers are the athletes of God

- Albert Einstein

Fun quotes, and quotes to help the self admiration of dancers, can be found at DanceArt.com.

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Thu September 23, 2004
Programming

A Skeptical Perspective on the Open Source CMS Market

I am helping Greenpeace build a new Open Source CMS system based on OpenACS and I stumbled across the article Open-Source CMS: Prohibitively Fractured? by Tony Byrne, founder of CMSWatch. I think the article makes some good points for example about programming language religion, technical elegance over end user features, dilusion of efforts, the risk of forking, and re-invention of the wheel over reuse of standard APIs (for example from the Apache project).

There is quite an impressive supply of sites on the web providing listings, reviews, demos, and articles about CMS systems, such as OpenSourceCMS.com, CMSMatrix, and CMSInfo

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Sat September 11, 2004

Launching new Website

I am just about to launch a beta version of a new little web project of mine - a salsa calendar. I will test the calendar with salsa dancing and music events here in Copenhagen to start with but the idea is to cover other cities in Europe and the US as well. I'm really excited about the website and I'm hoping people will find it useful!

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Wed September 08, 2004

Quote of the Day

IT guru Bruce Schneier interviewed at IT Conversations says:

"More people are killed every year by pigs than by sharks, which shows you how good we are at evaluating risk."

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Thu August 26, 2004
Programming

Floating in Hosting Paradise

I just signed up with DreamHost and I must say that so far it's been an amazingly smooth and pleasant experience. Their web control panel and help systems are really powerful and usable and everything on the server has worked great so far! DreamHost really seems to have great sys admins and they've been in the business for quite a while so they've probably learned a lesson or two over the years.

I really like managed hosting, it gives you that warm and cosy feeling of beeing well taken care of and not have to worry about things like backups and server uptime and other boring infrastructure details. Of course you still need to think about backups but at least your hosting provider has a fallback for you if your own setup fails.

Here is a list of features at DreamHost that I copied from one of their informative and amusing newsletters:

* Jabber Server.
* Quicktime Streaming.
* Miva Merchant included on a pretty cheap plan.
* We keep two hourly, two daily, and two weekly FULL backups of all 
   websites on all plans for free, and you can access them in the hidden
   .snapshot directory in every directory of every user.
* All Debian.
* Lots of Domains/SubDomains/Users/Databases/Disk/Bandwidth.
* DreamHost Rewards.
* DreamHost Donations.
* We're small(ish), never merged with anybody, and not public.
* The Sexiest Newsletter Writer in the Industry, nay, the World.

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Mon August 23, 2004

Exotic Sailboats

There is a very impressive Oyster 82 sailboat from George Town visiting down in Nyhavn right next to my work here in Copenhagen. I found some nice photos on the web displaying this magnificent boat. Here is a German article about it as well. This summer I saw a similar type of boat in Nybroviken in Stockholm visiting from the Cayman Islands. Seems those boats are always from some exotic place far away. Myself I am content just admiring them while strolling through the harbor...

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Wed August 18, 2004
Politics

Unfairenheit 9/11

This piece by Christopher Hitchens in the Slate magazine is worth reading. Mr Hitchens has this to say about Michael Moore's journalistic qualities:

"So I know, thanks, before you tell me, that a documentary must have a "POV" or point of view and that it must also impose a narrative line. But if you leave out absolutely everything that might give your "narrative" a problem and throw in any old rubbish that might support it, and you don't even care that one bit of that rubbish flatly contradicts the next bit, and you give no chance to those who might differ, then you have betrayed your craft."

Christopher Hitchens ends his article with this warning to his readers:

"If Michael Moore had had his way, Slobodan Milosevic would still be the big man in a starved and tyrannical Serbia. Bosnia and Kosovo would have been cleansed and annexed. If Michael Moore had been listened to, Afghanistan would still be under Taliban rule, and Kuwait would have remained part of Iraq. And Iraq itself would still be the personal property of a psychopathic crime family, bargaining covertly with the slave state of North Korea for WMD. You might hope that a retrospective awareness of this kind would induce a little modesty. To the contrary, it is employed to pump air into one of the great sagging blimps of our sorry, mediocre, celeb-rotten culture. Rock the vote, indeed."

In Fifty-nine Deceits in Fahrenheit 9/11 Dave Kopel seems to punch holes in the Michael Moore movie even more elaborately and convincingly than Christopher Hitchens did.

It's hilarious that some people are now making a movie about Michael Moore's lies, presumably using the same kind of manipulative one sided journalism that Michael Moore himself uses. Oh well...

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Tue August 17, 2004
The IT Business

Swedish IT Educations No Longer In Demand

According to an article in the danish ComputerWorld the number of IT students in Sweden has fallen from 22.000 in year 2000 to less than 5.000 this year... The swedish P1 radio station just reported that during the same time period the number of patent applications are down 27%. Another measure of the IT/Telecom crash is that Ericsson that used to be the biggest private employer in Sweden with 45.000 employees is reduced to 23.000 or so today.

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Thu August 12, 2004

Amazing Photography

I check back on photo.net every now and then and this time I found a very inspiring collection of photos by a good looking young girl with user name Fili. She doesn't match my stereotypical image of a professional photographer at all :-) Anyway, I just love landscape and mood photos like these. In fact it would be nice to have some of these photos on the walls in my apartment...

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Tue July 06, 2004
Experiences

Sliding Around in the Mud...

was what I did at this years Roskilde Music Festival. I've been wanting to go for several years and this year I finally made it. The ticket is about 1100 danish kronor for thursday to sunday - four days packed with concerts with bands and artists of all kinds, most of which I have never heard of before.

I saw a concert with Joss Stone, an oustanding concert with Tim Christensen, and good concerts with Michael Franti (reggae/rock/hip hop) and Santana. Overall I had some great musical experiences and I got take in a bit of the Roskilde atmosphere although I neither got drunk with the teenagers nor stayed in a tent in the mud fields. I think for next time though, to get the most of the festival I need to camp there. Also, and not least important, the weather needs to be better :-) Practically every day for the last couple of weeks there has been a weird mix of heavy rain and intermittent sunshine - I can't remember having seen weather like this before...

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Tue June 15, 2004

Social Networking Abounds

I knew that dating and networking sites were in vogue, but I didn't expect there to be this many!

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Tue June 01, 2004
Programming

Software Project Methodology

I am reading "Software Project Survival Guide" by Steve McConnell which I find very useful. Since McConnell is talking about upstream and downstream activities (waterfall approach?) and emphasizing that changes are vastly costlier when they are made late on in the project, I was curious as to how compatible his approach is with Extreme Programming. The following links provided some insight:

I found this section from McConnell's speech particularly illuminating:

Design Advice -- What has changed in 10 years?

    * In 1990s, design pundits wanted to dot every i and cross every t before writing any code
    * In 2000s, say BDUF (big design up front)? YAGNI (you aren't gonna need it)
    * There are lots of valid points on the no design--all design continuum

Extremes are usually not productive

    * All design up front vs. no
    * Entirely planned vs. improvised
    * Pure iterative vs. straight sequential
    * All structure vs. all creative
    * Document everything vs. nothing

Maybe it is in the overlap of the different software project management approaches that we, using our common sense and experience, can find the method that works best for the particulars of our own software projects.

In the book "Extreme Programming Perspectives", Pascal van Cauwenberghe offers this acronym for finding the balance between up-front work and refactoring:

"Instead of using the disparaging term "big design up front" (BDUF) we should be investigating how best to determine what is "just enough design for increments" (JEDI)."

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Sun May 30, 2004

Quote of the Day

Edie the Salsa Freak tells the story of how she was instantly determined to learn salsa when seing Joby Martinez-Vazquez dance. In an interview Joby offers this piece of life advice:

WORK LIKE YOU DON'T NEED THE MONEY, LOVE LIKE YOU'VE NEVER BEEN HURT AND DANCE LIKE NOBODY'S WATCHING.

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Sat May 29, 2004
Programming

Opening a File

Bruce Eckel on why he loves Python:

They say you can hold seven plus or minus two pieces of information in your mind. I can't remember how to open files in Java. I've written chapters on it. I've done it a bunch of times, but it's too many steps. And when I actually analyze it, I realize these are just silly design decisions that they made. Even if they insisted on using the Decorator pattern in java.io, they should have had a convenience constructor for opening files simply. Because we open files all the time, but nobody can remember how. It is too much information to hold in your mind.

Here is how you open a file in Python: "for line in file('filename').readlines():,". I'm increasingly motivated to learn Python and also to have a closer look at Plone.

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Sat May 29, 2004
Politics

Joel Says it Well

Joel writes:

"That a big contradiction in Denmark: it was early in adopting real women's lib and having adult members of both sexes in the workplace, but retains by law the shop schedule that only works when each household has a homemaker. The only things you can reliably buy outside of the window of M-F 10-5, Sat 11-2 are snack foods, restaurant meals, and alcohol."

I was actually annoyed by the opening hours tyranny myself recently since I know I will have a big car with storage space available to go to Ikea next sunday, only of course, Ikea being open on a sunday is unthinkable in Denmark.

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Fri May 28, 2004

Quote of the Day

"Many people die with their music still in them. Why is this so? Too often it is because they are always getting ready to live. Before they know it, time runs out."
--Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., Supreme Court Justice

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Fri May 21, 2004

The Synergy of Diana Krall and Elvis Costello

I just listened a little to Diana Krall's new CD at Amazon and it sounds very promising! I'll probably buy it this afternoon. This comment in one of the reviews, despite being a little harsh and exaggerated, struck a chord with me:

"I was NOT a Krall fan. In fact, I did not like her previous collection of stale cotton candy versions of jazz standards. They were simply boring musically and vocally. Being a hard core jazz fan, I have heard much better versions of those standards. To me she was a pretty face reintroducing standards to those who don't know they are standards. This disc, however, has made me a fan."

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Tue May 04, 2004

Embarrassingly Successful Teaching

In the NY Times article Educators Flocking, Land of Literate Children the reasons for Finlands number one ranking in a respected international literacy survey are discussed. How do finns feel about this success?

""We are a little bit embarrassed about our success," said Simo Juva, a special government adviser to the Ministry of Education, summing up the typical reaction in Finland, where boasting over accomplishments does not come easily. Perhaps next year, he said, wishfully, Finland will place second or third."

More interestingly the article goes on to deliver the explanation for the high literacy rate:

"If one trait sets Finland apart from many other countries, it is the quality and social standing of its teachers, said Barry Macgaw, the director for education at the O.E.C.D."

According to the article, teaching is actually the favorite profession for teenagers in Finland and many more apply to become teachers than are accepted.

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Tue May 04, 2004

A Week in New York

My intense week in the big apple passed by quicker than expected. Before memory fades further I'll take this opportunity to reminisce on the experiences I had there.

Ever since I visited New York for a weekend in the summer of 2001 I had wanted to return there. The city immediately struck me as fascinating and electrifying, intense, dense, energetic, fast talking, edgy, and ultimately very exhausting for visitors. To me it is really the city of cities and with its size and multi culturalism it justifyably considers itself "The Capital of the World".

Now that the dollar was so low and spring was coming I figured that the timing was right to revisit the city and examine it more closely. I was very fortunate to be able to stay for a week with my friend Alice on the upper east side and had midtown reachable by subway in 10 minutes or so.

Since I moved to Copenhagen almost two years ago salsa dancing has become quite a big hobby for me, and since salsa to a big extent originates from New York I was of course very excited about the opportunity to try out the dancing scene there. To guide me I found what is easily the best web site about salsa that I have found to date, namely the SalsaNewYork.com website operated by Steve Shaw. The site has great articles about salsa dancing and music and a calendar with all major New York style (aka mambo, or on 2 salsa) dance events in New York. As I arrived in New York on sunday afternoon I went more or less straight to the Jimmy Anton social dance. The place where the dance is held is in and of itself very low key and uninspiring, it's basically just a big dance studio. But when the huge dance floor filled up with loads and loads of good mambo dancers and excellent music was streaming from a good sound system the atmosphere rose to very high levels. That afternoon was my best dance experience in New York, and it makes perfect sense to me that the Jimmy Anton dance event is the favorite of SalsaNewYork.com as well. On tuesday I visited the salsa dance at the Coda club run by Tony Luna. The place was posh with a good atmosphere and a mixed crowd, only a minority of which seemed to be practiced salsa dancers though. I still had a good time there. Finally on saturday I managed to enter the China Club after having passed through a strict metal detector control, and having circumvented the $25 charge by printing a flyer from their homepage. I know $25 seems like a fortune but apparently by New York standards its a normal cover charge. The China Club has dancing on three floors: Hip Hop downstairs, techno/house on the middle floor, and salsa upstairs in the poshest part with the terrace next to the dance floor where you can go out to cool down and get a view of the night sky and the surrounding sky scrapers - quite impressive. The only thing I regret is not having visited the supposedly biggest salsa club in New York - the Copacabana - especially on the night when El Gran Combo (one of the most famous salsa bands) was playing there. I'll leave that for my next visit.

I listened to a superb latin/afro jazz concert at the Blue Note jazz club. I was sitting right next to the stage in this splendid candle lit jazz club with great ambience and service. The musicians (Mike Mossman, Conrad Herwig, Bobby Sanabria, Edsel Gomez, Mario Rivera, Ruben Rodriguez, Pedro Martinez, and Xiomara Luagart) were all oustanding and the sound was great. I enjoyed the concert so much!

I had an amazing vegetarian dinner at the Red Bamboo Vegetarian Soul Café. I never realized vegetarian meat dishes (like chicken wings) could look and taste so authentic. We got huge portions at very reasonable prices and they tasted great. Highly recommended!

I went thrift and vintage shopping with Alice and bought a whole pile of sweaters and shirts of expensive brands at bargain prices. The shirts were like $5 each and would probably be at least $50 to buy in a normal store. I searched and eventually found a shop specialized in dancing clothes on Broadway where I got the UFO pants that I had been thinking of getting for a long time (at a much lower price than in Europe of course). I spent a lot of time exploring Manhattan on foot in the sun and never tired of photographing dazzling sky scrapers as I came around every corner. I had a nice dinner with fellow OpenACS programmer Vinod Kurup at a cuban restaurant and ate hamburgers at the Blue 9 Burger that were quite tasty. According to a review at citysearch the Corner Bistro is better so I guess I'll have to try that next time :-) I wonder though if it compete with Mr. Bartley's Burger Cottage over in Boston (a place I visited a lot while I was working over there). I tried Chocolate Fudge Brownie and other wonderful tastes of ice cream at the Ben and Jerry scoop shops, had a Krispy Kreme doughnut, got in the habit of getting coffee and Bagel to go for breakfast. All in all not a very healthy food record :-)

One of the things I like the most about the US is how open, talkative, and positive people are. For me coming from a rather dull and reserved scandinavian social climate it's a quite refreshing change to be given such a friendly treatment by strangers. I of course also appreciate the nice service you get in restaurants and shops, people will really go out of their way to help you. When it comes to shopping the lower prices and greater selection is also appreciated of course. Also, I just love the Barnes and Noble type bookstores that they have in the US with their amazing selection of books at reasonable prizes combined with a cafe where you can read the books at your leisure.

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Thu April 29, 2004
Humor

IKEA Spreading like a Virus in the US

Read about it in the Onion.

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Sat April 17, 2004
Travel

Photos from New York

I spent an amazing week in New York visiting my good friend Alice, and I really had a great time! I took quite a few photos. On my way home from New York I spent a day in London and once again captured a couple of famous and not so famous attractions on camera (excuse the dull London weather).

New York Photo New York Photo New York Photo

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Sat April 17, 2004
Programming

PHP - Ugly but Simple

It bodes well for the future of PHP when Rasmus Lerdorf writes that:

Despite what the future may hold for PHP, one thing will remain constant. We will continue to fight the complexity to which so many people seem to be addicted. The most complex solution is rarely the right one. Our single-minded direct approach to solving the Web problem is what has set PHP apart from the start, and while other solutions around us seem to get bigger and more complex, we are striving to simplify and streamline PHP and its approach to solving the Web problem.

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Fri April 16, 2004
Humor

The Onion

While I was over in New York on holiday (I'll post photos soon) I discovered the Onion - a very amusing newspaper! I had heard about it before but never took the time to check it out. I find their humour quite intelligent and subtle, with a lot of irony. This article is a good example.

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Thu April 01, 2004
Salsa

The History and Rhythm of Salsa

This article by Chris Washburne is the best description that I have found so far of the origins of salsa and it also contains an alysis of the clave rhythms and how they relate to african rhythms. The article was linked off of Steve Shaws excellent SalsaNewYork.com site.

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Wed March 31, 2004
Salsa

Overcoming Some Fears Of Social Dancing

I found a good article by Steve Shaw at the info packad SalsaNewYork website and I particularly liked this passage:

Regarding the worry that some of these very good dancers are watching you and are judging and critical, I have bad news and I have good news: 1) The bad news is that unless you're a really super dancer, they're not watching you. You're being ignored. 2) The good news is that unless you're a really super dancer, they're not watching you. You're being ignored. 3) And if you are a superdancer, and they're watching you with a frown on their faces, it's probably because they envy you, and also they're hard at work trying to steal your material.

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Wed March 31, 2004
Politics

Europe Catching up with the US on Lowprice Airlines

The Economist writes about the Airline crisis and compares the European lowprice market to the one in the US:

The European market is going the same way, and it is all happening much faster, since deregulation only arrived fully in 1997. Budget carriers such as easyJet, Ryanair and over a dozen smaller start-ups still account for less than a fifth of European air travel, but most analysts expect their market share to grow rapidly. This year the budget airlines will carry more than 50m passengers around Europe. In the past couple of months another six budget airlines got off the ground in Britain, Ireland, Hungary, Germany and Poland.

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Tue March 30, 2004

Failing to Understand your Scandinavian Neighbours?

I've discussed it with people many times and now I finally found an investigation that shows that norwegians are best at understanding the languages of their scandinavian neighbours. In addition to that norwegian is also the language that danes and swedes best understand, swedes prefering modern norwegian (nynorsk) over the old variant (bokmaal) since the latter one has more in common with danish.

Myself I'm still struggling with danish and I've decided to take a course now to speed up my learning...

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Tue March 30, 2004
Politics

Smoking remains constant

I was reading about the smoking ban in Ireland and found this terrible piece of statistics:

"Germany, which has one of the highest rates of smokers along with Spain and Greece, has been criticized for not doing enough to combat nicotine addiction. EU Health Commissioner David Byrnes says the government is too easy-going, considering that an average of 100,000 Germans die of smoking-related diseases each year, and that the number of smokers remains constant, with more and more young people picking up the habit."

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Sun February 29, 2004
Salsa

The origins of salsa

I was reading Amazon reviews of a Spanish Harlem Orchestra CD when I found a comment that helped clarify the much disputed and confusing origins of salsa music and dancing:

Salsa music includes all Cuban rythms such as Son, Cha Cha Cha, Mambo, Timba, Songo, Guaguanco, Rumba, Guajira and so on. All those rythms were born in Cuba and not in New York. The word Salsa was originated in New York to better market all these rythms. Please, make your own research and I suggest you start with the following movie: "Del Son a la Salsa". This movie features all time Puerto Rican greats Gilberto Santa Rosa, Marc Anthony, Cheo Feliciano, Tito Puentes, Venezuela great Oscar D' Leon, Panama master Ruben Blades and many Cuban great musicians from inside the island and from outside. All of them confirmed that Cuba is the motherland of Salsa.

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Wed February 25, 2004
Salsa

Learning Salsa

I found an interesting interview with Johnny Vazquez - one of the world's best salsa dancers who I had the honor of taking a workshop with at the salsa congress last weekend in Zurich. Here is what he says about how he learned salsa:

"I learned how to dance salsa really fast because three months after I arrived in LA, I was in a nightclub with my brother Louis, and this girl came and she told my brother, "Is that your little brother?" "Yes he is." "Oh, I'm gonna dance with him, he must be as good as you." I didn't know how to dance then, only the basics, back and forward. I said, "No I don't know how to dance." "No, no come on." She took me to the dance floor. I told her a thousand times, "I don't know how to dance. " "No, you are one of the Vazquez brothers, how can you say that?" We started dancing. After two minutes she left me on the dance floor. And she stopped and she told me, "That's all you can do, the basics?" "I told you I don't know how to dance." She told me, "Oh, so when you do learn more, then ask me to dance." And she left me. You don't know how much it hurt me. That night I was crying in my bed. Because everybody was looking at me when she left me on the floor. And being a brother of somebody who was really popular in LA, my brother Louis, it was so embarrassing for me because I didn't know how to dance. So that night I said to myself, I'm going to learn how to dance. Believe me. One year later I did the competition and when I won, she came, the same girl came to me. "Oh, I can't believe it, Johnny!" And she hugged me. "Oh, I can't believe it, when you are done with all your friends, will you ask me to dance?" And I looked at her and I said, "When you learn how to dance better, you can ask me to dance" and I turned around and I left. Now I cannot thank that girl enough because she gave me the impulse to learn."

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Thu February 12, 2004

Coordination Challenge

While sitting at your desk, lift your right foot off the floor and make
clockwise circles. Now, while doing this, draw the number "6" in the air
with your right hand.


Your foot will change direction and there's nothing you can do about it.

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Sat January 31, 2004

Software Methodologies - Agile RUP?

I came across the Agile Alliance homepage and took the time out to ponder over the Agile Manifesto again:
Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
Working software over comprehensive documentation
Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
Responding to change over following a plan

Searching for RUP on the Agile Alliance website I found a number of interesting articles. People tend to think of RUP and XP as standing on opposite sides of the software management spectrum. There is of course some truth to that, but the Rationial whitepaper below argues that RUP is "a processes framework", and that an implementation of RUP to small projects with a small number of artifacts can become a close fit to XP. The paper further argues that XP is vulnerable to staff turnover (process experience is not documented and preserved).

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Sat January 24, 2004

There is still real winter

My dad sent me an image of his house in Hemavan (Hemavan is skiing resort in the swedish mountains close to the norwegian border). Nice to see that there is still real winter somewhere with loads of snow...

Real winter in Hemavan

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Wed January 21, 2004
Quotes

Today's Portion of Wisdom

The bitterest tears shed over graves are for words left unsaid and deeds left undone.
-- Harriet Beecher Stowe

The truth is that there is nothing noble in being superior to somebody else. The only real nobility is in being superior to your former self.
-- Whitney Young

Be kind - Remember every one you meet is fighting a battle - everybody's lonesome.
-- Marion Parker

Eliminate something superfluous from your life. Break a habit. Do something that makes you feel insecure.
-- Piero Ferrucci

Be open to your dreams, people. Embrace that distant shore. Because our mortal journey is over all too soon.
-- David Assael, Northern Exposure, It Happened in Juneau, 1992

To deny our own impulses is to deny the very thing that makes us human.
-- Andy & Larry Wachowski, The Matrix, 1999

Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.
-- Abraham Lincoln

Why not go out on a limb? Isn't that where the fruit is?
-- Frank Scully

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Sat January 17, 2004
Humor

Women find this funny...

In the hospital the relatives gathered in the waiting room, where their
family member lay gravely ill.

Finally, the doctor came in looking tired and somber.

"I'm afraid I'm the bearer of bad news," he said as he surveyed the worried
faces.

"The only hope left for your loved one at this time is a brain transplant.

It's an experimental procedure, very risky but it is the only hope.

Insurance will cover the procedure, but you will have to pay for the brain
yourselves."

The family members sat silent as they absorbed the news. After a great
length of time, someone asked, "Well, how much does a brain cost?"

The doctor quickly responded, "$5,000 for a male brain, and $200 for a
female brain."

The moment turned awkward. Men in the room tried not to smile, avoiding eye
contact with the women, but some actually smirked.

A man unable to control his curiosity, blurted out the question everyone
wanted to ask,

"Why is the male brain so much more?"

The doctor smiled at the childish innocence and explained to the entire
group, "It's just standard pricing procedure. We have to mark down the price
of the female brains, because they've actually been used."

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Mon January 12, 2004
Quotes

Life Wisdom

My friend Yavan in Seattle sent me those wise words during the Happy Friendship week:
I've learned....
That life is like a roll of toilet paper. The closer it gets to the
end, the faster it goes.

I've learned....
That we should be glad God doesn't give us everything we ask for.

I've learned....
That money doesn't buy class.

I've learned....
That it's those small daily happenings that make life so spectacular.

I've learned...
That under everyone's hard shell is someone who wants to be
appreciated and loved.

I've learned....
That the Lord didn't do it all in one day. What makes me think I can?

I've learned....
That to ignore the facts does not change the facts.

I've learned....
That when you plan to get even with someone, you are only letting that
person continue to hurt you.

I've learned....
That love, not time, heals all wounds.

I've learned....
That the easiest way for me to grow as a person is to surround myself
with people smarter than I am.

I've learned....
That everyone you meet deserves to be greeted with a smile.

I've learned....
That there's nothing sweeter than sleeping with your babies and
feeling their breath on your cheeks.

I've learned....
That no one is perfect until you fall in love with them.

I've learned....
That life is tough, but I'm tougher.

I've learned....
That opportunities are never lost; someone will take the ones you miss.

I've learned....
That when you harbor bitterness, happiness will dock elsewhere.

I've learned...
That I wish I could have told my Dad that I love him one more time
before he passed away.

I've learned....
That one should keep his words both soft and tender, because tomorrow
he may have to eat them.

I've learned....
That a smile is an inexpensive way to improve your looks.

I've learned....
That I can't choose how I feel, but I can choose what I do about it.

I've learned....
That when your newly born child holds your little finger in his little
fist, that you're hooked for life.

I've learned....
That everyone wants to live on top of the mountain, but all the
happiness and growth occurs while you're climbing it.

I've learned ...
That it is best to give advice in only two circumstances; when it is
requested and when it is a life threatening situation.

I've learned....
That the less time I have to work with, the more things I get done.

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Fri January 02, 2004
Salsa

An American's Guide to Salsa Dancing in Europe

The american salsa instructor Eric 'El Cubanito' Freeman traveled a couple of the major cities in Europe and wrote up two salsa guides, one from the year 2000, and another from 2001. I found the guides to be both informative and amusing.

Supposedly, the best female dancers are in Stockholm, in terms of quantity London leads, and the swiss are the most analytical about their salsa...

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Thu January 01, 2004
Quotes

New Year's Poem

Here is the New Years Poem that is read every year in Swedish television before the clock strikes twelve. I think it's quite beautiful.
 Ring, klocka, ring i bistra nyårsnatten
mot rymdens norrskenssky och markens snö,
det gamla året lägger sig att dö...
Ring själaringning över land och vatten!

Ring in det nya och ring ut det gamla
i årets första, skälvande minut.
Ring lögnens makt från världens gränser ut,
och ring in sanningens till oss som famla.

Ring våra tankar ut ur sorgens häkten,
och ring hugsvalelse till sargad barm.
Ring hatet ut emellan rik och arm
och ring försoning in till jordens släkten.

Ring ut vad dödsdömt räknar sina dagar
och forngestaltningar av split och kiv.
Ring in ett ädlare, ett högre liv
med bättre syften, mera rena lagar.

Ring ut bekymren, sorgerna och nöden,
och ring den frusna tiden åter varm.
Ring ut till tystnad diktens gatularm,
men ring till sångarhjärtan skaparglöden.

Ring ut den stolthet, som blott räknar anor,
förtalets lömskhet, avundens försåt.
Ring in det rätta på triumfens stråt,
och ring till seger mänsklighetens fanor.

Ring, klocka, ring... och seklets krankhet vike,
det dagas, släktet fram i styrka går!
Ring ut, ring ut de tusen krigens år,
ring in den tusenåra fredens rike!

Ring in den tid, då andarna befrias
ur själviskhetens sammansnörda band.
Ring mörkrets skuggor bort ur alla land,
ring honom in, den bidande Messias.

Alfred, Lord Tennyson

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