Peter Marklund

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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


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


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

"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

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."

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.

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...


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

Quote of the Day

Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.
-- Mahatma Gandhi


Quote of the Day

Joel Aufrecht writes:

"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...:-)


Salsa Congresses in Spring 2004

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...

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!


Christmas is Weird

Maxine at Christmas

I put some more maxine comics on my server. Thanks Yavan for sending them to me!


Exploring A Quecha Indian Community in Peru

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...


It had to come up of the water

My dad sent me this nice photo of his new boat being transported to winter storage.

Boat coming out of the water


One Stop Guide to Copenhagen Social Salsa Dancing

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:

An upcoming salsa event in Copenhagen that I recommend is the workshops with Leon Rose on the 21-22 of November, organized by Latin Quarter

To stay updated about salsa events in southern Sweden and Copenhagen, check out the SalsaManiac mailing list.


New Photos from Lund and Helsingborg

I just uploaded a few photos from the salsa congress in Helsingborg, one photo with Anders Elmqvist dancing Lindy Hop in Lund, and a few photos from an excursion I made with Bogdan Gapinski and Joel Aufrecht to Lund on a nice autumn day.

Quote of the day

What if everything is an illusion and nothing exists? In that case, I definetely overpaid for my carpet.
- Woody Allen


Governments like Open Source

I just found an old copy of the Economist article Microsoft at the power point when cleaning up in my apartment. As can be expected with the Economist, the article is well written and balanced.

Joel Spolsky on Internationalized Software Development

I always find Joel Spolsky's articles entertaining and witty. His recent one on encodings and character sets I found especially useful as I'm acticely involved in the internationalization of the OpenACS web platform. The internationalized and better than ever 5.0 version of OpenACS is scheduled to be released on November 1st and I have some hectic weeks leading up to the release ahead of me now...

Quote of the day

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.
~Howard Thurman


Spelling Unimportant?

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.


Extreme Programming to the Rescue

Wired Magazine writes about Extreme Programming at Hewlet Packard in the article The New X-Men . I found the following section especially thought provoking:

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.


Economic Freedom and Prosperity

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.


Wests Trade Barriers Keep Hurting Third World

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.


Software Patents in Europe

The European Parliament is deciding on Software Patents on the 1st of September. The Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure is running a campaign against software patterns and they seem to have a pretty convincing case. The image that they are drawing of a world with software patents is pretty scary. As a programmer, how are you supposed to know what software patents the code that you are writing may be violating?

Linus on Coding Conventions

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.


Why Headhunters Like Me

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...


Interesting Predictions by O'Reilly

In this interesting interview Tim O'Reilly talks about the possibility of an Open Source Dell with the increased commoditization of software. He also portraits services such as Amazon and eBay as the applications of the future since value is being pushed up the software stack to user data. User data is also a major source of customer lock-in.

I'm not Tempted see Terminator 3 after having read the review in the New York Times:

""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...


Cartoon Day Continues

These crazy comics by Joe Cartoon really defy description: Superfly and Stoneflies.

Life as a Laid off IT Guy

Odd Todd presents some insights into a day in the life of a laid off IT professional.

Parody on Mac Gaming

Yonatan pointed me to this parody on playing games on the Macintosh.

Interesting Photos from Spain

Erik Lorenzo who worked I with a bit at ArsDigita has been traveling in southern Europe, mostly Spain it seems, and taken quite a few interesting pictures.

An Eventful Weekend

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.


InternetWorld lists the best Swedish Sites

It is worth browsing the list of top 100 swedish sites to find good Swedish services on the web.
2003-06-06T05:00:00.000Z wins Webby - a site that I'm helping with publishing workflow right now won a Webby Award. It's exciting to be working on such a good site and I'm glad for the Greenpeace team, parts of which I've gotten to know here in Copenhagen and in Amsterdam. Greenpeace's acceptance speech is very amusing!

I wish

I could be this cool (try not to laugh).

The Dullest Blog in the World

This weblog is outrageously funny! It's thought provoking that something so dull can be so uplifting and humorous.... Maybe we should all learn to appreciate the mundane more.

Powerpoint Considered Harmful

Philip Greenspun writes:

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.


Poem by Hillel

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.


Bill Gates says...

"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


Stockholm Growth Hampered by Politics

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.


Good Advice

Before we set our hearts too much upon anything, let us examine how happy those are who already possess it.
-- Francois de La Rochefoucauld


More Wisdom

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


Albert says...

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)


Temper and Endurance

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


Rebooting Webservers

Netcraft has an interesting chart showing the web server software and OS of the web servers with the longest time since last reboot. It seems FreeBSD and Apache 1.3 is a combination with quite a good uptime.

The Strengths of the Open Source Model and the Challenges Ahead

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.


Digging up Reliable Information

The Berkeley Library has a page devoted to the invisible web. The invisible web is all the information retriavable through databases on the web that is not covered by search engines such as Google.

There is also a useful set of documents outlining a structured approach to web searching.


Quality Metrics for Search Engines

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 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.


The Hours

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 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."


Top 100 Websites

PC Magazine has listed the top 100 classic websites and the top 100 websites "you didn't know you couldn't live without".

Tax Systems are too Complex

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.


Interview with MySQL CEO

InfoWorld is featuring an interview with MySQL CEO Marten Mickos.

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.


What is a Biotech Company?

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...



The price of greatness is responsibility.
-- Sir Winston Churchill


A fantastic Conference and Social

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.


Open Source Web Publishing

Here is an interesting article by Mike Sugarbaker from last years Open Source Content Management conference.

And the nominees are...

Check out the Webby Awards website. Note that the site that we helped build on the open source OpenACS platform is listed there...


To know oneself is to study oneself in action with another person.
-- Bruce Lee, Tao of Jeet Kune Do


Todays Quotes

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'


Nerd Humor

I like these parody cartoon movies on why you should switch to linux or switch to Mac.

Happy Birthday Lars!

Here is the great danish birthday song for Lars. It seems to me the song is all about chocolate and cake, I love it!
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. 

A Day and Night in Malmö

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.


Quote of the Day

If you think you can, you can. And if you think you can't, you're right.

-- Mary Kay Ash


Kids views on Marriage

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

You might have to guess, based on whether they seem to be
yelling at the same kids.
* Derrick, age 8

There sure would be a lot of kids to explain, wouldn't there?
*Kelvin, age 8

Tell your wife that she looks pretty,
even if she looks like a truck.
*Ricky, age 10

A new boat - a dream come true

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!

Dad's boat


Life is Easy

Decide what you want, decide what you are willing to exchange for it. Establish your priorities and go to work.

-- H. L. Hunt


Why Nerds are Unpopular

I like this article.

New Photos from Frankfurt and Copenhagen

I took some photos while visiting Germany with Lars and during Mohan's visit here in Copenhagen.

Back on the Edge of OpenACS Development

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 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.


A great Keyboard

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... :-)


A nice Groupware Product from Suse

Suse has released The Linux Openexchange Server and on first glance it looks very impressive. I especially like the usability of the UI. I recommend trying the online demo.

Homepage Server Upgrade Completed

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.


The User is Your Best Friend

Dilbert comic - the user is your best friend

How Anyone can Fail to like Apple is Beyond Me

In the article Macintosh: An Acquired Taste, Michael Kanellos accuses Apple of being too technology oriented and asserts that in the IT business, conformity is more important than perfection. Apple still only accounts for about 2.3 percent of the computer market.

Open Source is Disruptive

In the Open Source D-Word Dissection Russel Pavlicek argues that Open Source is disruptive, not destructive, and concludes:

"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."


Christmas Greeting from Umea

Chrismas Greeting from Umea

How to Successfully Deploy Groupware

There is a fairly interesting article at eLearn Magazine on how to drive adoption of groupware (or team rooms) in organizations.

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.

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

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.


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." "


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.


The Microsoft Hotmail Team Prefers Unix

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

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.

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.

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.


Quote of the day

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


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!


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.


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.


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.


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!


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.

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?


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!"


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


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)


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.

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.


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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