Tuesday, 30 December 2008

Ol' man rover

Has it already been a year since I read about the 4th anniversary of the Mars rovers that just keep rolling along? And they're still rolling after five years of continuous work, on a cold, sandy planet 230 million kilometer away from Earth. For once, the word "awesome" is actually a good fit. If you ever wonder how far the human race has really come since our ancestors first began using tools, you should contemplate this fact for a while. It is absolutely mind-boggling.

Monday, 1 December 2008

Apprehension

Wow! Black Mesa have released a trailer. I wasn't sure that they would ever complete their mission of recreating the original Half-Life game using the Source engine, but damn, this looks good!

Monday, 17 November 2008

Copenhagen spring trip

In May, we took a weekend trip to Copenhagen, and we had incredible luck with the weather - it was probably the best days of spring 2008 in Scandinavia. It was just Friday through Sunday, but that turned out to be plenty of time to enjoy ourselves even though we went by train (which is much nicer than flying: no airports, for a start). We stayed in a pretty good hotel over in the Nyhavn district, walked rather a lot, spent most of the Saturday going to Louisiana museum of modern art (and its spectacular garden), and had an incredibly good meal at restaurant Koefoed, which specializes on food from the island of Bornholm, known for its great climate and high-quality produce. (It's also the kind of place where you just hand the waiter your credit card and don't look at the bill until later. Much later.)

I took a rather nice set of pictures that can be viewed here on my Flickr account. (I hope to get through my backlog of pictures before this year ends. Snapping them is fun, but sorting them...)

Thursday, 16 October 2008

Stormy blast of hell

Over two years ago, I was handed an audio cassette containing a somewhat legendary live recording from 1993 by the Swedish underground rock band Brainbombs, at the notorious student society Smålands Nation (in Lund). The tape was entrusted to me by a friend (the illustrious David Liljemark) who also happens to be acquainted with the band, and it was a direct copy from the original DAT recording from the gig. From that you might expect that the sound quality was pretty decent. It was not. In fact, it was absolutely terrible. Lots of rumble and hiss, all volume levels at 11, bad microphones, awful acoustics, and on top of that, shoddy wiring caused several drop-outs, twice losing the entire left channel for a couple of seconds. And of course the levels varied during the gig, as the (probably drunk) person in charge of the sound equipment adjusted them back and forth. Considering that the actual performance consisted of lots of guitar feedback and heavy riffing (and occasionally some random trumpet playing), it was not pleasant listening regardless of your taste in music. But it was clear that it had a certain something, and perhaps more importantly, this was to our knowledge the only live recording in existence of an entire Brainbombs set.

As I happened to have been doing some audio restoration for him previously, David wondered if I could do something with the tape, and since I like a challenge (and can be incredibly stubborn once I start on something), I worked hard in my spare time at getting the best sound possible out of the mess, sometimes giving up for many weeks and then going back at it again. After a year or so of this aural self-flagellation, my bleeding ears decided that enough was enough and it wasn't going to get any better than that. Meanwhile, David had somehow got in touch with a very small American punk record company, Richie Records, who said they'd like to make a vinyl record out of it. Almost a year ago, I mailed copies of my master sound files to the States, and didn't really hear much from that point on. Eventually, I forgot about the record. Until the other day, when something reminded me and I got the idea to google for the title.

I was happy to see that they quickly had sold out the 500 copies they printed, and that while some people rightly complained about the sound quality (although they should be glad they get to hear it at all, and its a hell of a lot better than the original tape), at least someone liked it. That made it all worthwhile, as far as I'm concerned.

Sunday, 12 October 2008

It's that time of year again

In case you forgot to make a note of it in your calendar: tomorrow (Monday), the 13th of October, is the internationally celebrated Monkey Island Music Day! Let the festivities begin!

Sunday, 5 October 2008

The content convalescent

It's a dreary Sunday in October, and I'm recovering from the cold that knocked me out, well..., cold, on Friday. With my better half gone away over the weekend, the apartment is eerily quiet but for the patter of rain on the windows; it's been drizzling all day. In other words, a perfect day for Bach.

I began by livening up the morning with Gould's recording of Two- and Three-part Inventions; then after lunch I switched to a more autumnal mood with the sombre Cello Suites 1-6 played by Pablo Casals. The late afternoon has been dedicated to Andras Schiff's interpretations of Das Wohltemperierte Klavier. I may follow this with some organ works, but I'm not sure yet if it fits the general mood.

It surprises me every time, that although I have a keen interest in musics of many sorts, there is absolutely nothing like Bach that can fill my entire body with bliss! But it requires the right kind of acoustics and absence of disturbances, so an opportunity like this must not be missed.

(I'll leave Gould's Goldberg variations for another day. I love them, but they would be so cliché.)

Saturday, 27 September 2008

To Universally Remote or not

I've considered (for a long time) buying one of those Universal Remote Controls to replace the usual jumble of controls on the table by the sofa, but I've always been held back by a suspicion that I won't actually use it after all. Now I know. Thank you, Mr. Fry.

Monday, 18 August 2008

London

I have a huge backlog of pictures taken this summer, but at last I've found some time to go through them, and I've just finished with a batch from the last day I spent in London in June, after the Erlang eXchange event. The weather was glorious, and we spent most of the day walking along the Thames, with Francesco as our guide. The pictures are here on Flickr as usual.

Tuesday, 29 July 2008

Svn+Trac hosting (commercial break)

Since I do quite a lot of hobby hacking in my spare time, I've been thinking about setting up a personal server for things like version control and ticket tracking, etc. On the other hand, I don't really have a good place to keep an always-on computer in our modest apartment, what with noise, cables, cooling and such. I finally started looking around for a good hosted alternative, such as a virtual private server - but that seemed a bit like overkill for my present needs, and I'd have to set up everything myself from scratch. And sites like SourceForge and Google Code are not suitable for private projects. Eventually, I found a couple of sites such as hosted-projects.com and CVSDude, that seemed to be what I was looking for and had quite reasonable prices. In the end, I chose hosted-projects.com, because they included everything I needed (Subversion and Trac, https, and even DAV) even in the most basic plan - three Prosits for German pragmatism!

I have already copied most of my various ToDo-notes from different sources such as e-mail, digital post-it notes, semi-legible scribblings on paper, etc., into proper Trac tickets (lots of them), and my home directory is version controlled so that it's pretty much identical both on Linux and under Cygwin. And of course, all my code, LaTeX articles, etc., is in there too. I usually avoid the worn-down expression "warm and fuzzy feeling", but for once, it really fits.

Sunday, 27 July 2008

Home again

This morning, I could hear only the seagulls and the wind. Now I'm listening to the neighbour's power drill. I usually appreciate urban life, but after a couple of weeks in the country, you get into a completely different groove, and you rediscover how it feels to be truly relaxed. Just in time to go back home. Sigh...

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Note from a small island

A great day! Blue sky, glittering sea, a cool breeze through the treetops, and the distant cries of seagulls. Around noon, two eagles showed up circling just above the house, which finally gave me reason to pick up the camera. Some more pictures on my Flickr page.

Friday, 18 July 2008

Happiness is a warm internet connection

Yay! Thanks to this page, I managed to get a working GPRS connection under Linux (Ubuntu Hardy Heron). The only thing I had to change was to delete the line OK 'AT+CGDCONT=2,"IP","btmobile.bt.com"' from the /etc/chatscripts/bluetoothconn script. Also, the script /etc/init.d/bluez-utils was in fact named /etc/init.d/bluetooth. And the blues-pin package was apparently not needed (I couldn't find it anyway).

This all means that I: 1) had something to write about in this new blog of mine, and 2) I'm writing from the middle of nowhere, but it actually works, and is even not too painfully slow. Hooray!

Thursday, 10 July 2008

I should probably post something here to get it over with.
There, done! That wasn't so hard.

I'll get back with something more useful later.