I hate this guy

March 11th, 2013

Working on some code which is from 1992. Amazing fact number one is that the bits did not rot. Still compiles like a charm. But I really really hate the guy who wrote it. I know that back in the day storage was an issue. Things needed to be a bit more optimized than today. But having it all come down to a line like:

pos1 = ((*(*(l+x)+y)));

feels a bit outdated. Sure, it still works. Couple of comments could have been nice. Those extra brackets barely make up for it. I think the best thing that the author of those lines did, was not to get under a bus or die in any other way: I would not be here in that case.

“Fight Club” in 2013

January 27th, 2013

Watching “Fight Club” again today is a strange and very interesting experience.

So much has changed since the book / film came out. It is clearly set in a different epoch.

Its character ‘Tyler Durden’ says:

God damn it, an entire generation pumping gas, waiting tables;
slaves with white collars.  Advertising has us chasing cars
and clothes, working jobs  we hate so we can buy shit we don't need. 
We've all been raised on television to believe
that one day we'd all be millionaires, and movie gods,
and rock stars. 
But we won't. And we're slowly learning that fact.
And we're very, very pissed off.

It seemed fitting at the time. What happened since then?

Many of those jobs are gone. People in that slice of society
make less money today. Sometimes even in absolute dollars.
Certainly corrected for inflation. In the same time the share
of the upper sliver of society on the other end of the wealth
distribution has nothing but exploded.

So why seems the portrayed unrest even further removed
from reality than less than a score years ago?

The answer might lie in the proliferation of computer games and the Internet
during that time.

Both soak up all that extra male testosterone and time that would
otherwise find not much constructive application in the world of 2013.

Oh, and it looked absolutely awesome. I miss movies shot on film.

4×6 index card or Din A 6 Karteikarte

January 16th, 2013

In case you are looking for Din A6 Karteikarten in the US you can use 4×6 index cards. These are close enough.


December 29th, 2012

In some -older- javascript code I found the following today:

Within 4 lines the author manages to look not so smart himself: the regular expression to find the Internet Explorer version assumes that it remains in the single digits.

With Internet Explorer 10 the match starts failing. The code that follows has no idea how to deal with that.

In German a person who is not the brightest is sometimes been titled as ‘can not count to ten’ (”Kann nicht bis Zehn zählen,”)

gmail: do not send to spam and other filters

December 21st, 2012

Recently GMail has - in my experience - more trouble with filtering spam: An average of 5 messages a day come through and end up in my inbox.

Much worse is that messages that are ham end up in the spam folder.

I added a file to get some of them automatically out of spam. Which worked, but has one drawback:

Messages that match my ‘ham filter’ but also match an older filter (think mailing list) started to show up in my inbox, and no longer in the folder, I mean label,
that the filter sets.

This feels as if the gmail ‘do not send to spam’ instruction actually does an ‘mark mail as non spam and send to folder inbox’.

Which is strange since messages can have a label AND be in the inbox.

The remedy seems to be filter order. I got the previous behavior back when I moved the ‘ham’ filter before the other filters.

I don’t think it is possible to arrange filters. Changing the order means deleting filters that should move to the end and creating them again.

TM-Edition Trademark Scam

October 12th, 2012

One of the “benefits” of having a registered trademarks is that scamers will try to make a quick buck.

TM-Edition Ltd.
Széchenyi t&eacuter 17.
2000 Szentendre
Bank: MKB Bank Zrt.
IBAN: HU57 1030 003 1056 3675 4902 0011

just tried this, trying to charge 1650 USD for “registration costs”

Sadly such scams must work often enough that it is worth somebodies while.

I think there should be severe punishments for this kind of behaviors. Allot of energy goes into nowhere for such scams.

For every dollar these idiots make they cost the world hundreds. And they contribute zero.

hover is awesome

September 15th, 2012

Hover is just awesome.

With Godaddy and Network Solutions I have to battle through an ever increasing amount of screens that try to sell something when doing even the simplest things.

Yes, it’s as painful as that last sentence.

Hover is a wonderful. Even if the others were OK Hover would still stand out. It is really nice.

A domain would auto renew next week. I don’t need it anymore. So Hover sends an email asking me what I would like to do. The others just auto renew.

I really like that. Treating your customers right. Looking for what they could want. Instead of looking for upsell opportunities.

Very very nice.

waste of time: news

September 9th, 2012

I found this today on a web site of a pewspaper:

Countless publications show the same AP story.

What is the problem with this?

According to the latest numbers China grew by 8.9%.
Since this is China one could also say: grew only by 8.9%

The US GDP grew 1.7% in the same time.

The headline of the AP story says something else.
So does the first sentence. And 8.9% growth are being called ‘anemic’

This is a very simple thing: growth did decline by 0.3%. Growth did. NOT the actual output.

I wonder what happens to the 99% of topics in the news that are more complex and faceted than this China statistic.

After I wrote this I went back to google news. On CNN one can read that the economy slowed:

I think following this kind of ‘news’ is a complete waste of time.

Thermaltake BlacX seing 801.57 GB on a 3TB disk

July 14th, 2012

For time machine and other local data needs I really like a drop in design for an external disk. When drives were cheap it was so nice just to drop them into the ‘enclosure’ and go on.

I ended up buying and liking the BlacX ones from Thermaltake. Slight cheap electronic stench when you open them. 1 out 5 that I bought ended up not working. But the price was really right.

Unfortunately the love ends with larger than 2TB drives. It seems to say somewhere in the specs for the device. The model I have is old too.

But it is still a bit of a let down if a 3.0 Tb drive only shows you 801.57 GB in ‘Generic External Media’ in Disk Utility under OS X.

I remember having spent hours at a client in 1987 trying to get their whopping 30 Megabyte hard drive to work with the limitation of the initial FAT16 allocation table.

There have been countless problems caused by an “oh this kind of system will last for sooo long” engineering attitude since then. “Nobody will want to have so much space, speed, insert-thing-here.”

People seem to have a hard time estimating how long something will be around - and in what kind of world things might have to fit in.

Doing those underlying things ‘right’, making them easily extendable for instance, creates tremendous value.

If Amazon actually manages to continue to fully implement their SOA approach then we might be hearing from that for quiet a while. They are currently one of the few companies that positively surprise me when I interact with them.

We will see. And I wonder what kind of size limit the new drive enclosures have that I just ordered.

big bus

July 12th, 2012

Sometimes I wonder how big that bus must be that one can throw an entire country under. A pretty pretty one in this case. Not the bus. The country. Love it.

fun to work with great companies

July 2nd, 2012

Moving is not fun. I used Bevery Hills Transfer and Storage before and things worked really well.

When I recently had to plan a move I was delighted that they still around. And everything was as perfect as it can be.

It makes such a difference if one knows that there are actual people who care about the job. I think that this kind of attitude can be found if the size of the company matches the task: If they are too small then stretched resources might make things inflexible. If a company gets too large people often stop caring. Since they do the big company starts to treat their people and customers like cattle. Prodding them into the flow via a byzantine set of rules and call centers.

Luckily Bevery Hills Transfer and Storage is the right size, and the people do care. That makes moving almost fun.

There are probably other companies out there that do a good job as well. Those I just don’t know. These people I have a great experience with. So they are the ones that I will call for my next move. And I am happy that I found them back in the day.

leap second - the buck stops over there …

July 1st, 2012

Skimming over the news (a bad thing in itself I must admit) it seems that the leap second addition - one might tempted to say - between June 30 and July 1st caused allot of Java based systems to fail.

While the headlines list who got affected and all that it is interesting that there was no reference to responsibility. Outages in general are news. Like the one on this recent Friday that took AMZN service and then some systems down.

In general it is all in a ‘oh well’ state. “shit happens”.

This attitude is awesome for technology providers: Not once saw I reference to who owns Java in those leap second bug reports. Sun did. Sun got bought by Oracle. Larry Ellison, principal and I guess at least part time owner of Oracle picked up a nice Hawaiian island the other day. How about he offers sys admins working late to work around HIS bugs a complimentary stay there?

Delta online flight booking

June 24th, 2012

One would think that Delta would know by now how to run an online booking system.

Seems not to be the case.

Just booked a flight. In the end the system told me that I took to long and that I should start over.


But I did.

Succeeded the second time.

When I checked my credit card statement I saw both the failed and the successful one on there.

The credit card company could not help.

Delta eventually credited the redundant flight. So they claim. It takes “7 to 10 business days” to charge this back.

Spent 1 hour with them on the phone to undo this.

I don’t need something complicated. I am just looking to buy a flight. Online. And maybe in one attempt.

This has been a seriously underwhelming experience. I think that “Delta” should start setting money aside to do a “Pacbell”.

Rebranding is probably gonna cheaper than trying to increase customer service or getting their systems to work properly and
to regain customers back the old fashioned way.

50 states in 17 minutes

May 24th, 2012

INTERDUBS support call: A client needs a folder for each US state and in there a specific set of sub folders. We don’t have that button!

What is awesome is that our clients just call before they start making something like this manually. There must be a better way. And of course there is.

17 minutes after the call the client had the desired list of folders. APIs are a nice thing to have. But even better are clients who call when things could
be improved.

carbon footprint already a criteria for the afterlife? Hope not

May 11th, 2012

I am not quiet current on what qualifies these days to obtain eternal life after death.

If you carbon footprint is part of the equation then my outlooks are pretty grim as I am about to schlep 14,44 KG of books half around the globe. A ridiculous ratio of them makes the trip not for the first time. The future self always has so much time. So much more than the version that actual lands with the plane and suitcases (full of books).

eBooks do not work. Hard to annotate. And -final reason- you can not read them like Napoleon:

He read books while ridding in front of his troops. When he was done with a page he ripped it out and handed it down to the next officer following him. Who then handed the page down to the next one when he was done reading it.

I have no idea where I picked this image up. The Internet and its search engines felt they should not help me with finding a source.

twexus back online

May 8th, 2012

Wouldn’t even know exactly why, but I brought twexus back online.

Funny how one can replace weeks of perl coding with an hour of php a decade later.


April 28th, 2012

“Designed in California”

Made in China

Taxed in Reno

the real side

April 27th, 2012

I like ‘Breaking Bad’ allot. A great show.

The real side of meth production looks way less glamorous.

London Appartment

April 4th, 2012

Just returned from a very nice stay in London.

We lucked out with the accommodation and with the weather alike.

We had a wonderful time in Notting Hill. The location is just awesome. A minute away from Embassy Row or the tube - yet very quiet.
Likewise the house has history and character while the apartment has all things in perfect condition.

If we would have liked to have the same space and features in a Hotel then we would have paid ridiculous amounts. I like that the Internet allows for a high quality services
like this apartment to find an audience. Hope that we find something similar in Brooklyn in the summer.

The New and the Old

February 26th, 2012

Recently I noticed two interactions I had with products / companies / services.

They are un related. I remember them both since they were better / worse than what I had expected.

The bad one

Being bored in a Hotel room I switch on the TV. Since I never watched I was shocked again how bad it was. That was NOT unexpected. I just keep forgetting that. I stumbled upon “Blue Valentine”. I liked it a lot. And interesting movie to watch from the middle. I liked it quiet a bit and wanted to watch it completely. I ordered the BluRay Version.

I liked the entire movie as well. Nice to see that this kind of project gets made.

What really bothered me was the previews and trailers that want to play every time I insert the disc. I can fwd skip through things. But it is annoying. Very.

People do no longer buy media on discs anymore. As a reaction it seems that people try to sell things even harder. An junk-loop-spiral towards doom. Much like the Hotel phone prices jumping up when cell phones took away the call volume. A failed attempt to keep revenues steady in a shrinking market.

The good one

I wondered if it is possible to get a report from Amazon on past purchases. Sure enough it is. It works well. And it is so helpful. I never choose Amazon because of this. I had no idea I existed. I would use them if they had no reports.

Both - the disc makers and Amazon - deliver the core product that they offer.

The difference is in what they do extra: Amazon tries to think about what could be helpful for me. The disc makers try to think what is helpful for them.

How funny that they think that that will work.

hfs dmg files in Centos

February 25th, 2012

In Centos 5.7 mounting dmg files created under OS X 10.6 with hdiutil no longer worked:

mount  -t hfsplus -o loop dmgFileFromOSX10.6.dmg  /mountpoint

results in

mount: wrong fs type, bad option, bad superblock on /dev/loop0,

Without having researched it I doubt that it is the actual Centos Version that matters here.

The dmg has been created under OS X 10.6 in the terminal via:

hdiutil create -size 1024k dmgFileFromOSX10.6.dmg -fs HFS+ -volname 'test dmg'

DMG creation in the command line is a work around for the (arbritrary?) minimum size requirements of the Disk Utility program of 5.2MB and 10.1MB.

It turns out that a dmg file created with the same command line in OS X 10.4 ( on a G4 machine ) works fine. On which side 10.5 falls we did not test.

time to …

February 6th, 2012

It is time that we start taxing sugar. R. Lustig and C. Brindis published a very compelling opinion piece in the current issue of Nature. (Vol 482)

It is ALSO high time that Nature stops paywalling ALL articles. Op pieces like this one SHOULD be public on the net.

Science and Nature are both on this idiot pay-wall trip. They need to get over that.

The should be ways so that they have their content online for all and still give extra for people that pay now for the content.

centos source install wget 1.13 and GNUTLS

February 4th, 2012

installing wget 1.13 from source on Centos 5.7 the configure command was not happy:

checking for main in -lgnutls... no
configure: error: --with-ssl was given, but GNUTLS is not available.

It turns out the solution is simple:

./configure --with-ssl=openssl

did the trick.

At first I thought that a “yum install gnutls-devel” might help. The ./configure part indeed finished after the install of the developer package, but the actual make still failed:

gnutls.o: In function `ssl_connect_wget':
gnutls.c:(.text+0x3f1): undefined reference to `gnutls_priority_set_direct'
gnutls.c:(.text+0x481): undefined reference to `gnutls_priority_set_direct'
collect2: ld returned 1 exit status

Configuring with the openssl option made everything work very smoothly …

once we had it we had to waste it

February 3rd, 2012

This looks like a nice mac memory stat.

Just that the whole circle represents 8 GB - and that there is no applications running (in the dock)

What is the OS doing with all that memory? A computer not doing anything and still using 6.5GB or memory.


branding and 1 5 year old

January 31st, 2012

I could do without the background music, and the maker probably waited for the climax of a stuffy nose of his kid to record this, but it is still interesting to see just how much logo-sign-language kids pick up and

can identify.

From my own kids I remember that they knew the location of the nearest McDonnalds at a very very early age. They also made the fries / M connection.

Adobe service: rocks

January 10th, 2012

In a recent computer shuffle I must have missed to deactivate a laptop of mine. I got in touch with Adobe, hoping that they could provide me with the serial numbers of the computers that have the license. They were able to give me numbers. I didn’t get around to try to locate / translate them into a mac serial number: They were so kind to reset the activation count of my license.

This is awesome service. A benefit of using an illegal copy was that one would not have to worry when switching machines. With Adobe having this excellent license policy and support they make it much easier to do the right thing and to buy the software. I will remember this the next time I need to consider software purchases.

Apple Cinema Displays

January 10th, 2012

Just switched back from the 27″ Apple Cinema display (latest with Thunderbolt etc) to the 30″ one after a couple of weeks.

The 27″ has a nice picture. But it is useless. I am ready to write it off and put into a corner. It looks nice. When it is turned off. Or when one glances over pretty pictures.
But for any work that requires reading it is not usable. A glossy screen is in the end a mirror. My brain sees the content on the screen and the reflection of the room behind
me. For me that causes un needed strain after a couple of hours. Maybe that’s related to the fact that I also get to see myself :-)

I find it amazing that the 7 year old 30″ design is still the best screen that Apple ever made. There were hardware bumps etc. No wonder they go for a high price on eBay.

The whole glossy saga let me degrade my 13″ MacBook Pro’s into Backup and Wife usage. Back on the 17″ non glossy display I must say that it was really worth the switch.
A shame since the 13″ is a neat little machine. With 8GB Ram and a recent CPU it is quiet a bit of punch. Back on the Aircraft Carrier I realized that I missed all those pixels though.

medical imaging

December 16th, 2011

So glad I found this great introduction and overview of medical imaging.

I liked the article since it gives a great overview of different techniques together with their genesis. Stuff like a PET scanner does not rain down on humanity. Lots of people needed to work hard to realize it. Ideas, Patents and -as it turns out- the Beatles were needed and involved.

I personally found it fascinating how much ample computation power has enabled. Nothing that mattered in the last 40 years would have been conceivable without massive numerical processing. Even 99.999% of computing power is wasted on Facebook and games it is just awesome that we people deviced instruments to compute so cheaply.

It is probably impossible to estimate the impact that technologies like DfMRI will have on our knowledge and picture of ourselves. The microscope changed the world and each of our lives in the most radical ways. Which might only have dawned on people in the 17th century.

Of course the link was found in Wikipedia. After having set up a monthly donation to them and knowing how good it feels now and will do in the future I wonder why I did not do so earlier. Specially learning new things most Wikipedia pages allow a quick overview about the topic. What I personally really love is how detailed yet concise even very specialized topics are being documented. Quiet brilliant.

google reader shows wrong content for feed

December 4th, 2011

When adding the feed


to google reader the resulting page showed the wrong content, while the title is correct:

This seems to be a caching issues. The workaround was to simply alter the URL in a way that would not have any effect on the feed:


shows the expected content.

thinking vs remembering soundbytes

November 19th, 2011

It is very telling to watch the first 2 minutes of this video

Libya is a country that had significant changes in 2011. Nato flew countless missions. It is shocking to see somebody who aspires to become president
respond to a question about this in this manner: This is a person trying to recall phrases he has memorized.

It would be so much fun to swap one of the cards that the candidates learn from. Have them utter total rubbish for a minute.
But one never knows if that would not get them elected …

loving a suitcase?

November 18th, 2011

Last century we bought 3 full size Samsonite Oyster suitcases. Back then you had to put some stickers on them to distinguish them from all the others that people had.
That changed. Now there are all those black soft textile bags on the belt. I never understood why.

Those suitcases are simply amazing. They have traveled ridiculous miles by now. Life is tough if you are luggage. I can not imagine what kind of treatment they have gone through. They always worked.

I was very saddened when he lock broke on one of them. I don’t think I want any other suitcase. Rimowa seems to be en vogue. But I feel that they would not work better and probably look pretty beat up within a couple of months. I also don’t like if my luggage tells the world “Hey - check this out - I have money - stealing here is worth the risk”.

But as it turns out Samsonite did not only make awesome products, their service rocks as well:

I emailed them, asking if I could order a spare lock. They asked for my address and will send me a replacement lock for free.

I love it if things work right. I think this kind of service is truly inspiring.

Me loves my Samsonites!