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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.
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!
When love and skill work together, expect a masterpiece.
-- John Ruskin
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.
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.
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." "
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.
-- Jesse Stuart
"The task of the software industry is to create the best business solutions. The advent of open source means that the cost of some of the components has dropped, while the control over them increases for the solutions integrator and the IT department. From a market perspective, the major difference is that the point of greatest profit shifts from the software provider to the service provider."
After much blood sweat and tears I have now upgraded this server to run on the latest and greatest version of the OpenACS platform. I have also installed dotLRN just in case I would like to host some group collaboration here.
The old version of the server is still running here. I'll probably take it down in a couple of weeks.
I've just gotten a new keyboard at work (the Kinesis Essential Keyboard) and like it a lot. Although I'm still very slow at typing with it I am already convinced that it will make my programming fingers last longer (no more Emacs little finger problems...). The keys are much closer together than on a normal keyboard so you don't have to stretch as much. Also, the keyboard makes you use your strongest fingers - the thumbs - for frequently used keys such as space and enter. Take a look at the keyboard here.
Many thanks to Lars for buying me the keyboard. Now I can pretend to be a really hard-core programmer just like him... :-)
Yesterday I did another update of the software that is running my homepage - OpenACS. Things went surprisingly well and I experienced only minor glitches. There are a number of advantages to keeping my homepage running on the latest source code (cvs head):
- I help monitor the upgradability of OpenACS.
- I can do some testing of newly developed features
- Fixes and enhancements that I make on my site can be directly contributed to the OpenACS project to benefit the rest of the community
I think it is unfortunate that so many OpenACS sites diverge (fork) from the development of new OpenACS versions. We need to be very serious about upgradability going forward to give people enough confidence to upgrade. I am aware that with highly customized sites upgrading is a challenge. However, if upgrading is a prioritized goal from the beginning you will attempt to keep customizations very localized so that they can be merged with new OpenACS versions. You will also monitor OpenACS development and try to align it with the interests of your own site. This will not only benefit your particular site but the whole OpenACS project as its direction will better reflect real needs. Avoiding forking is key to getting more involvement and momentum in the OpenACS community.
Decide what you want, decide what you are willing to exchange for it. Establish your priorities and go to work.
-- H. L. Hunt
Congratulations to my dad who has just bought this nice looking day cruiser!
I have been suggesting to my dad for as long as I can remember that he should get a new boat. When I was little we had a big sailing boat and some of the best memories from my childhood are from sailing on that boat.
Coming home to Umea will be extra exciting this summer! I can't wait!
HOW DO YOU DECIDE WHOM TO MARRY? You got to find somebody who likes the same stuff. Like, if you like sports, she should like it that you like sports, and she should keep the chips and dip coming. * Alan, age 10 No person really decides before they grow up who they're going to marry. God decides it all way before, and you get to find out later who you're stuck with. * Kirsten, age 10 HOW CAN A STRANGER TELL IF TWO PEOPLE ARE MARRIED? You might have to guess, based on whether they seem to be yelling at the same kids. * Derrick, age 8 HOW WOULD THE WORLD BE DIFFERENT IF PEOPLE DIDN'T GET MARRIED? There sure would be a lot of kids to explain, wouldn't there? *Kelvin, age 8 HOW WOULD YOU MAKE A MARRIAGE WORK? Tell your wife that she looks pretty, even if she looks like a truck. *Ricky, age 10
If you think you can, you can. And if you think you can't, you're right.
-- Mary Kay Ash
I made a nice little excursion to Malmö this weekend and took a few photos.
When I arrived in Malmö I was greeted by the anti war demonstrations at Stora Torget. Undeterred by the loud demonstrators, I soon found my way to Lilla Torget where I ended up doing way too much shopping at the Folk å Rock CD store.
I was looking for a place where I could pratice my salsa in the evening but neither the Petri Bar nor the Deep bar would be playing any latin rhythms that particular saturday. To perfectly be able to monitor the salsa scene I am now signed up to the Malmö/Lund/Helsingborg salsa list.
As a reward for having walked a fair bit up Amiralsgatan (looking for the closed salsa club) I had a cup of tea at the Cafe CD and LP which has very nice interior and a cosy atmosphere.
I was recommended by my friend Mats to go to the Slagthuset Nattklubb that opens at midnight. I tried hanging out at a few bars/cafes around Lilla Torget such as Victor's, Gökboet, and Mello Yello and they were all very nice, but there was just too much time to kill between 7 pm and midnight.
Luckily I ran across Spegeln/Cinemateket (Triangelfilm), a large cinema right on Stora Torget, with a good repertoire of international/alternative movies. It seemed the cinema is underappreciated by Malmö residents as it was almost empty on a saturday. I decided to watch Punch Drunk Love by Paul Thomas Anderssen (Magnolia) starring Adam Sandler and Emily Watson. This is by far the best Adam Sandler movie that I have seen, however, I know that is not saying much :-) The movie had good acting though, a lot of funny moments, plenty of suspense and unpredictability, and was even quite touching. I recommended it.
After the movie I walked down to the harbor just to confirm that Slagthuset was indeed very closed and would not open until midnight. I found my way back through the cold to Victor's where I hooked up with the two nice girls Tilde and Matilde. The house/hip-hop music at Victor's was quite good but we decided to move on to a place where we could dance. After a brief dismissive look at Harry's we spent what seemed like a very long time in the line to the Etaget club. Etaget is quite a big place that alternates techno/disco and hip-hop on the main floor and plays the golden oldies on the second one. It also has a lounging area on the uppermost Etage.
At 3:04 am I got on the bus back to Copenhagen very glad that I had finally given Malmö a thorough visit and knowing that it wouldn't be the last.
I dag er det Lars's fødelsedag Hurra, hurra, hurra! Han sikkert sig en gave får, som han ønsket sig i år, og dejlig chokolade med kager til. Hvor smiler han, hvor er han glad, hurra, hurra, hurra! men denne dag er også rar, for hjemme venter mor og far med dejlig chokolade og kager til. Og når han hjem fra skærmen går, hurra, hurra, hurra! så skall han hjem og holde fest, og hvem, der kommer med som gæst, får dejlig chokolade og kager til, Til slut vi råber højt i kor: Hurra, hurra, hurra! Gid Lars længe leve må og sine ønsker opfyldt få med dejlig chokolade og kager til.
Man's main task in life is to give birth to himself, to become what he potentially is.
-- Erich Fromm
I am careful not to confuse excellence with perfection. Excellence, I can reach for; perfection is God's business.
-- Michael J. Fox, quoted by Lorne A. Adrain in 'The Most Important Thing I Know'
To know oneself is to study oneself in action with another person.
-- Bruce Lee, Tao of Jeet Kune Do
We had a fantastic .LRN seminar and OpenACS social at Collaboraid last week. Quite a lot of great photos were taken. I particularly like the photos that Jarkko took.
The price of greatness is responsibility.
-- Sir Winston Churchill
A pharma company without sales - according to John Wilkerson of Galen Associates, a health-care investment company in New York.
About a month ago the Economist featured a survey on Biotechnology. As any Economist survey it was quite well written and interesting. The articles covered the investment drain of the industry, controversial concepts such as cloning (which hasn't shown too promising signs yet), improvements to medicine and agriculture, the danger of biotech weapons and much more.
Also featured was a Biotech Industry "Cluster Analysis". It identified San Diego as an up-and-coming hot-spot (promoted as Biotech Beach), alongside concentrations in the San Francisco Bay area, Boston, Cambridge UK, and, as I was very proud to note, Uppsala in Sweden...
MySQL is by far the most popular open source database and it is distributed by the MySQL company in Sweden. The database software has a so called dual licence which means that if you modify the software you must either pay the 550 Euro licence fee or share your modifications with the rest of the world (presumably you can also do both). Not surprisingly, only a small fraction of all MySQL installations (4000 out of an estimated 4,000,000) are contributing the licence fee to the MySQL company.
Last year when developing web applications on top of MySQL and JBoss for Nordic Wave in Stockholm I was very frustrated by MySQL not having referential constraints and soon convinced my colleagues to shift to the PostgreSQL database. Rumors have it that the MySQL database is ACID compliant these days. I recently talked to the OpenACS project leader Don Baccus about why we don't use MySQL, and as the interview with Marten Mickos confirms, MySQL is still lacking fundamental database features such as views, triggers, and stored procedures. Allegedly, if all goes well, MySQL will have these features in production in version 5 sometime next year.
Mr Mickos doesn't forget to mention that he is from the same community in Finland as Linus Torvalds (the father of Linux). He says that the tradition of community and openness in Scandinavia provides fertile ground for open source. This fertile ground however didn't keep the authors of the Statskontoret Open Source Report from calling Sweden "Microsoft Country" and point out Germany as a role model in terms of open source adoption in the public sector. Let's hope that Marten is right though and that the nordic countries are waking up now and will be catching up. The media coverage and interest in open source that I have noticed over the last year suggests that this is actually the case.
It's April, spring has come to Copenhagen, and to those of us who worked in Sweden last year the privilege has also come to declare our incomes to the swedish tax authorities.
A handful of colorful forms and over sixty pages of instructions have been sent to me. You can really tell that a tremendeous effort has gone into producing these forms and making them so pedagogical that any citizen can fill them in. Still I find myself turning to friends and family in Sweden for advice on how to submit these damn things.
I am one of those people who really isn't all that amused by the idea of reading up on the intricacies of the tax system. I once heard a friend boasting about his ability to do the tax declarations and how he was doing them for his friends and family. It almost seemed like a sport to him and like he was contemplating it as a business.
I once told an austrian friend about the swedish tax system with its yearly income declaration and she gave me a surprised look. It turns out that in many other countries (from my own experience this applies to Austria, Germany, Denmark, and the US) you are informed by the authorities yearly about the taxes deducted and you are free (but not obliged) to make any corrections or objections. This means that by default, and for most people, no action is required.
How much time is invested each year in maintaining and understanding the tax system? The administrative aparatus is naturally enormous, but it's not just that, it's also all the time spent by citizens trying to understand the system. Citizens and companies put significant energy into figuring out how to minimize their taxes.
So what is the value of this tax complexity, surely it must exist for a good reason? I'm not in a position to confidently answer that question. The primary reason I suppose is to collect taxes in a fashion that is deemed fair and in line with the political agenda.
Still I can't help but wonder if we wouldn't all be better off if the tax system was kept really simple. Let's say we for example had a flat salary tax of 40%, and a tax for stock trading of 20%. A simple system like this would save the society billions each year, money that could be funneled into areas adding more value such as education and health care. In addition citizens and companies would better be able to predict and understand which taxes they are paying.
I recently enjoyed the magnificent movie the Hours starring Nicole Kidman, Julianne More, Meryl Streep, and Ed Harris. In fact, I've already seen the movie twice in two different movie theatres... I think it's the best movie I've ever seen.
The Movie Review Query Database delivers an amazing number of quality reviews for the movie. Below are some review highlights.
Stephen Holden of the New York Times writes:
"Some of the movie's most wrenching moments show Leonard Woolf (Stephen Dillane) frantically reaching out to his troubled wife and being rebuffed. It's not that the Woolfs don't love each other, but the agony Virginia is enduring can't be touched by love or reason. These moments bring home the film's deepest and most intimidating insight about the essential aloneness of the individual and its feminist corollary: that appearances to the contrary, women in their deepest selves do not and should not define themselves in terms of men."
Andrew O'Hehir at Salon.com sums up the movie nicely in this paragraph:
"Comparing a movie to a musical composition is one of those commonplaces of upper-middle film criticism that's almost never true. "The Hours" is the exception that proves the rule. Director Stephen Daldry (of "Billy Elliot") and screenwriter David Hare (an esteemed English playwright) have done what seemed impossible, rendering Michael Cunningham's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, a meditative exercise in which not much happens, into a meticulously constructed and richly rewarding film that dissolves the boundaries of time and narrative. Cunningham's book and Daldry's film are musical in the sense that each is essentially an exercise in counterpoint, a theme and variations based on Woolf's novel "Mrs. Dalloway," which attempts to distill a woman's entire life into the events of a single day."
Searchenginewatch is In Search Of The Relevancy Figure for web search engines. As suggested by their article no quality or relevancy metrics exists for search engines so far. Instead relevance of search results is judged by anecdotes or at best by most peoples subjective experience of it.
The public and media give attention primarily to the number of documents that search engines index. Inktomi (MSN) and Google are currently at about 3 billion, and Inktomi claims that their index is updated at least once every two weeks.
However, consider that just as important as the size of the document base is the relevancy of the documents actually returned during a search. Relevance should be measured relative to the goal of the person performing the search, i.e. how useful are those documents? Note that it is often dificult to know what that goal is, i.e. someone using the words "dvd player" might be looking to buy a dvd player or to learn more about dvd players.
Some of the ad hoc relevancy tests mentioned are searching for a person or company name and checking for the homepage of that person or company. Searchenginewatch performed a relevancy test where they selected a number of high quality sites in different areas and then performed various searches and checked whether those sites were easily found.
The argument here is that the industry needs accepted standards for performing relevancy tests. Also, the whole premise of SearchEngineWatch.com is that we need to monitor the behaviour of search engines and make sure that they behave. This may make sense given the importance and power of search engines today. Google sometimes chooses not to list certain sites, and as they say, if you don't show up on Google, you don't exist.
There is also a useful set of documents outlining a structured approach to web searching.
In Open Source: Hype and Reality, Steve Crossan at Runtime Collective discusses the benefits of open source and some of the challenges that lie ahead.
I find the problem of combining upgradability with customizability as well as allowing for custom code to contribute back to the toolkit especially interesting.
If you go in for argument, take care of your temper. Your logic, if you have any, will take care of itself.
-- Joseph Farrell
Enjoy when you can, and endure when you must.
-- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
You must give some time to your fellow men. Even if it's a little thing, do something for others - something for which you get no pay but the privilege of doing it.
-- Albert Schweitzer
Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not one bit simpler.
-- Albert Einstein, (attributed)
If you wish to know what a man is, place him in authority.
-- Yugoslav Proverb
Repetition does not transform a lie into a truth.
-- Franklin D. Roosevelt, radio address, October 26, 1939
Before we set our hearts too much upon anything, let us examine how happy those are who already possess it.
-- Francois de La Rochefoucauld
In Dagens Nyheter I read yesterday how last year, the number of people moving out of Stockholm exceeded the number of people moving in. This made for the lowest population increase since 1988.
Magnus Henreksson at the Stockholm Business School points out how the salaries in the Stockholm region have not been keeping up with the cost of living so that the prospect of moving out is starting to offer compelling economical advantages. Of course, the unions are preaching "Lika lön för lika arbete" so it may not be considered fair to pay a nurse in Stockholm considerably higher salary than a colleague somewhere else (the example in the article being Bollnäs).
There is a redistribution of income from regions with high levels of occupation to regions with low levels, a political program known as "regionalpolitiken". According to a report from Handelskammaren in Stockholm 40% of the direct tax income of the swedish state is from Stockholm whereas the share of the income generated there is only 31%. Stockholm gets 17% of the road budget eventhough 30% of the traffic is there. It gets 10% of the railroad budget but has 20% of the population and 70% of public transport traveling. The income from the housing or property tax (fastighetsskatten) in the Stockholm area has gone up by 10 billion (yearly?) between 1995 and 2000.
There is a project called Botniabanan that aims to build a new railroad track along the coast in the north of Sweden. Magnus Henreksson reminds us that this is part of Regionalpolitiken and that it seems to make little economical sense. He says:
"Det skulle vara billigare för staten att istället betala taxi för alla som ska resa den sträckan. Samtidigt finns inga pengar för en utbyggd tågtrafik i Stockholm, där en sådan investering verkligen skulle löna sig"
In Sweden politicians have regulated the apartment rental market so that for a long time it has in practice been impossible to legally rent an apartment in Stockholm. Of course, people are acutely aware of this problem, after all, housing is almost as important to people as food on the table. Isn't it surprising then that the pressure for change appears to be so low? What percentage of people actually realize that the problem is politically created and that a known solution exists? I can think of no more deterring example of the damage caused by making prices (in this case rents) exempt from supply and demand than the apartment disaster in Stockholm.
While the population of Stockholm has been growing rapidly over the last years the building of new apartments and houses has been disproportionately low. This means that in a situation of housing shortage, demand has continued to grow much faster than supply. How can this happen? Why won't supply and demand meet? Is it because building is too expensive (high taxes and low competition), or because politicians restrict the setting up of new houses in central Stockholm, or is it because building rental apartments is not economically feasible? Probably a combination of all of those and a host of other reasons that haven't occured to me yet. My point, once again, is that the problem is political.
"Nobody will ever need more than 640k RAM!"
-- Bill Gates, 1981
"Windows 95 needs at least 8 MB RAM."
-- Bill Gates, 1996
"Nobody will ever need Windows 95."
-- logical conclusion
Richard Stallman on the first software-sharing community at MIT and the founding of the GNU project:
Later I heard these words, attributed to Hillel (1): If I am not for myself, who will be for me? If I am only for myself, what am I? If not now, when? The decision to start the GNU project was based on a similar spirit.
To me, the poem signifies self-esteem, unselfishness, and a call for action.
A modest step back from the PowerPoint culture is to limit one's PowerPoint slides to charts and photos. If you can't resist some text, limit yourself to an opening outline slide dense with structure and a closing summary to remind everyone of what they heard.
Collaboraid - the company I work for - was elected startup of the year 2003 at the Reboot conference in Copenhagen. Naturally I'm quite proud about the award and especially happy for Lars who founded the company and got it to where it is today through a lot of hard labor and talent.
To top the award off, this saturday Lars got married, and the wedding was absolutely beatiful! A lot of photos were taken and I'm sure many of them will be available online as soon as Lars gets back from his honeymoon (taking place in Sweden, where else?). Today a friend sent me this cynical remark about honeymoons:
The honeymoon is over when the husband calls home to say he'll be late for dinner and the answering machine says it is in the microwave.
""Terminator 3" is essentially a B movie, content to be loud, dumb and obvious, and to leave the Great Ideas to bona fide public intellectuals like Keanu Reeves and the Hulk. Mr. Schwarzenegger, whose main contribution to American culture has been inspiring wicked parodies on "Saturday Night Live" and "The Simpsons," acts (if you can call it that) with his usual leaden whimsy, manifesting the gift for uttering hard-to-forget, meaningless catchphrases that is most likely the wellspring of his blossoming reported desire to seek elective office in California. "
But then again, I guess that paragraph could apply to any of the Terminator movies, and I liked the first two, so...
Sometimes I think I should change career path slightly... In the last two weeks I've been contacted twice via phone and email by different headhunters searching urgently for SAP ABAP programmers. In an attempt to explain those flattering and unexpected invitations I noticed that if you google for "ABAP programmer copenhagen" or "ABAP programmer stockholm" my CV will show up on the first result page.
Of course, the headhunters were in quite a hurry to contact me since if they would have read my CV carefully they would have seen that my SAP experience is limited to less than half a years time directly following my university graduation...
I was browsing Jeff Davis's homepage and came across Linus Torvald's coding conventions. I particularly like how Linus stresses the importance of keeping functions short and cohesive. I'll try to keep the following rule in mind when writing my own code:
Another measure of the function is the number of local variables. They shouldn't exceed 5-10, or you're doing something wrong. Re-think the function, and split it into smaller pieces. A human brain can generally easily keep track of about seven different things, anything more and it gets confused. You know you're brilliant, but maybe you'd like to understand what you did two weeks from now.
The International Herald Tribune (New York Times) writes:
If it weren't killing them, people in Burkina Faso might get a good laugh at America's unprofitable cotton-growing obsession. Burkinabe, after all, are known for their sense of humor. And what could be more absurd than the sight of the world's richest nation - a fiery preacher of free-trade and free-market values at that - spending $3 billion or $4 billion a year in taxpayer money to grow cotton worth less than that and selling its mounting surpluses at an ever greater loss?
Europe has similar, and probably more extensive, barriers to agricultural trade that are just as harmful and economically non-sensical as those of the US. I never understood the consistency in making farmers exempt from competition when none of our other industries enjoy this privilege.
Above all, I would have thought that the obvious fact that those barriers are a significant impediment to third world development would make not only trade friendly liberals, but also leftists and greens, realize how evil they are.
I read in the editorial of Svenska Dagbladet about this years Economic Freedom of the World Report. The report creates an index for the level of economic freedom of most countries and correlates this index with the GDP. It turns out that the most free economies - USA, Hongkong, New Zealand, Great Britain - are also among the richest. Among the least free economies we find poor countries such as Burma, Kongo, and Zimbabwe.
Somewhat unsurprisingly, and according to Svenska Dagbladet, the freedom index of Sweden has been declining. The size of the public sector, tax levels and bureaucracy are given the blame for this. To end on a positive note though, it turns out that the average economic freedom index of all countries has risen significantly since both the 1970s and the mid 1990s.
The software development process is profoundly screwed up. According to the Standish Group, which conducts an annual industry-wide survey, 15 percent of all information technology projects get canceled outright, costing the sector $38 billion each year, and companies spend $17 billion annually on cost overruns. Those products that are finally released contain just 52 percent of the features customers asked for. Throughout the industry, projects are chronically late - only 18 percent hit deadline - and consistently, maddeningly flawed.
My personal experiences with XP (Extreme Programming) are very positive, especially because of pair programming and the communicative and social emphasis of the approach.
Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at an Elingsh uinervtisy, it deson't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht frist and lsat ltteer is at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a toatl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae we do not raed ervey lteetr by isltef but the wrod as a wlohe.
Don't ask yourself what the world needs. Ask youself what makes you come alive, and go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.
What if everything is an illusion and nothing exists? In that case, I definetely overpaid for my carpet.
- Woody Allen
I met some swedes at salsa congresses in Sweden who were curious about the salsa scene in Copenhagen so I thought I'd compile a little guide here. The best salsa portal for Denmark that know of is Hifi Salsa that among much other info has a listing of salsa clubs in Copenhagen. Here are the alternatives that I am familiar with, organized by week day:
- Monday - Cafe Kellerdirk. Great atmosphere, music, and crowd.
- Wednesday - SalsaVida used to have dancing at Cavi club but they had to shut down, probably because they couldn't attract enough people.
- Thursday, Friday, and Saturday - Latin Quarter or Sabor Latino. Sabor Latino has a more cuban flavor, a good location right next to the city hall, and attracts a lot of tourists and locals who have never tried salsa before. I prefer Latin Quarter for the better music and more salsa savvy crowd. Latin Quarter is newly renovated and just opened with an interesting concept of playing hip-hop funk etc. for a small dance floor and the bar downstairs and hard core salsa for the big dance floor upstairs.
- Sunday - Park Cafe. Good atmosphere, interiors, crowd, and music.
To stay updated about salsa events in southern Sweden and Copenhagen, check out the SalsaManiac mailing list.
My amazing friend Alice, always brimming with adventure and exciting projects, is residing in New York these days, and she is organizing an exhibition at the The Nour Foundation about her non-profit work in Peru. I was really impressed and inspired to read about her accomplishments:
"In collaboration with the local municipality and with a budget of only $1,500, Olivia Fox Cabane successfully directed and financed a project to rebuild every street in the village and to revitalize the community."
Curious about the Nour Foundation I browsed their website a little, and I found their objective to be quite beautiful. It really struck a chord with me.
I wish I could be in New York for the exhibition...
I put some more maxine comics on my server. Thanks Yavan for sending them to me!
The salsa weekends that are being organized all over Europe are just so much fun! I attended the ones in Helsinborg and Stockholm this year and now I'm hooked :-) Here are all the exciting congresses that I would like to attend alone in the first half of next year...
- 20 - 22 February, Salsa Kongress in Zurich / Schweiz
- 1 - 4 April, Salsa Kongress in Regensburg/ Germany
- 7-9 May Helsingborg
- 4 - 6 June Salsa Kongress in Skien / Norway
- 16-18 July, Hamburg
I'm hoping to be able to find more people interested in going to these congresses to travel with, so if you're interested - let me know!
"Peter and Lars, despite being professional programmers, are not nerds, and they refuse even to feel bad about not being nerds"
Joel, it's seriuosly funny to have you at work, despite you being a nerd...:-)
Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.
-- Mahatma Gandhi
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
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...
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.
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."
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
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...
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).
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.
"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."
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.
"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."
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...
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.
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.
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.