Revolt of the Google addicts and the index machine

It's incredible how much power Google acquired over the last few years. After a conversation over lunch here at the company I felt the need to write down my thoughts.
We were talking about how much we rely on its search functionality: we use it so much, it basically is our entrance portal into the web. We wondered what would happen if suddenly Google would charge for every search run? Would the Google addicted revolt? Or would we simply switch to another search engine, as has happened before.

Another interesting fact is that I stopped using bookmarks and switched to remembering keywords instead. This is very efficient, just type in the appropriate keywords in the Firefox address bar and Google's I'm Feeling Lucky-functionality will take you to the correct website most of the time.

At the lunch table we concluded that humankind, at least the internet-centric population, makes an important neurological step: instead of remembering the details, we are remembering the keywords. Our brain is filled with an index to the knowledge out there. This enables our brain to enlarge it's capacity by offloading its content to the collective knowledge-base and thus relieving it from the burden of keeping everything in memory. A part of the brain changes from a memory machine to an index machine. This is quite remarkable and I'm very curious about how the brain and society will adapt to this change in the future.

by Ced
10/14/09. 01:45:13 pm. 238 words, . Categories: Science, IT , 1750 comments »

Piratenpartei Schweiz... und bald Letzebuerg?

Überall auf der Welt spriessen sie aus dem Boden, die Piratenparteien. Als Ursprung der Bewegung fungiert die Piratpartiet aus Schweden. Diese haben sich folgende Kernthemen auf die Fahne geschrieben, welche den gleichnamigen Parteien in anderen Ländern als Vorlage dienen.

  • Bürgerrechte und persönliche Freiheit
  • Befreit unsere Kultur: Urheberrechtsreform
  • Wie Patente und private Monopole die Gesellschaft schädigen

Das originale Programm der Schweden ist hier in einer deutschen Übersetzung einsehbar.

Die schwedischen Piraten hatten bereits im Juni dieses Jahres erfolg, sie erhielten genug Stimmen, um ein Pirat in das europäische Parlament zu entsenden. Auch die deutschen sind Vorreiter, letzten Sonntag erreichten sie ein gutes Ergebnis von 2% der Wählerstimmen aus dem Stand.

Die Piratenbewegung ist international, Politik wird jedoch auf nationaler Ebene betrieben. Darum ist es kein Wunder, dass auch die Schweiz seit diesem Sommer ihre Piratenpartei erhalten hat: Ich bin seit 4 Monaten mit der internationalen Piratenbewegung verbandelt. Als Teil des Gründungs-Teams habe ich versucht, eine erfolgreichen Start der Piratenpartei Schweiz zu ermöglichen. Seither habe ich in verschiedenen Funktionen meinen Teil dazu beigetragen, dass wir bereits rund 2.5 Monate nach der Gründung ein eigenes Parteiprogramm sowie Merchandising-Material wie Flyer, Stickers, Buttons und T-Shirts zur Verfügung stellen können. Bereits sind wir schweizweit über 450 Mitglieder und der politische Charakter der Partei beginnt sich zu formen.
Auch hierzu rege ich die Diskussion an, wie verhalten sich Piratenpolitiker bei einer allfälligen Wahl in ein kommunales oder sogar nationales Parlament? Die Diskussionen hierzu werden in unserem Forum rege geführt.

Und nun wird also am Sonntag in Luxembourg auch eine Piratenpartei gegründet. Ihre Webseite piratepartei.lu ist seit einigen Tagen online. Vielleicht mag jemand vorbeischauen?

by Ced
09/30/09. 10:11:33 am. 278 words, . Categories: Subculture, IT, Politics , 2080 comments »

Observing kestrels on a live video feed

It's spring! This means lots of reproduction going on (unfortunately not currently for me, as I am single once more.. but who knows what the future brings). If you are bored at work or suffering from insomnia at night, you can always watch the fruits of the reproductive efforts made by a pair of kestrels. The Bildungszentrum BZM in Muttenz, Switerland set up some high quality video feeds that even include night-vision!
The kestrels inhabit the wooden box since March 31th. Enjoy: http://www.turmfalke.ch/live_cam.htm

by Ced
04/21/09. 04:21:32 pm. 89 words, . Categories: Science , 1782 comments »

Drawing state transition diagrams digitally

As a tester I often engange in the beautiful art of drawing state transition diagrams. Drawing them on paper is a fast way to manifest your thoughts, but for long-term storage a digital format is more suitable. When I browsed my mind, Visio immediately came to be the optimal solution. It is a general purpose drawing software that supports flowcharts, UML diagrams and a multitude of other visualization techniques. Unfortunately, my company does not have a license for that great tool, which forced me to look for an open-source alternative. I found Dia, which is actually designed to be run on Linux under Gnome. Luckily there's a Windows port and even an installer package. Dia is not high-end, but serves basic purpose very, very well.

Technorati:
by Ced
03/27/09. 03:45:27 pm. 125 words, . Categories: IT , 2627 comments »

Advancing games while playing games

Yeah, you have read correctly. In the current issue of New Scientist I picked up the link to http://fold.it/, a new approach to solving the mystery of how proteins are folded. Rather than using raw computer processing power, this project harnesses the "idle" brains of computer users all over the world. The game is available for Mac OS X, Windows and Linux (!). I am currently downloading the software and hope to be able to twist and turn some protein chains on my Ubuntu system very soon. Have fun!

by Ced
11/13/08. 09:47:41 pm. 90 words, . Categories: Science, IT , 2729 comments »

Meat.. meat... meat...

Charel is on tour, so I fill the gap with a funny video related to todays absolutely big head-lines.
Headlines: http://www.news.com.au/story/0,23599,24070088-13762,00.html
Video: http://www.atom.com/funny_videos/made_meat/

by Ced
07/24/08. 11:44:45 pm. 36 words, . Categories: General , 2423 comments »

Rhine, caribbean, happiness

This was a strange day. The weather here in basel was bizarre; it was quite cloudy in the morning, changing into a terrific summer day in the afternoon. After I have finished my work at the company I made a visit to the Universitätsbibliothek to return an overdue book and then decided to sit on a bench just at the "Riviera", meaning at the River Rhine. I managed to capture the remaining sunrays until vast dark clouds began to appear the east end of the sky. While sitting there I listened to my latest musical enlightenment, the "Sagas" album by one of my favorite bands, "Equilibrium". The german band plays some sort of Pagan Metal interspersed with instruments like pan flute, acoustic guitar and - on this album - many natural sound samples. The sound of birds, waves, tree leaves and others help this album to become a wonderful, pleasant journey into another world. Far, far away from the concrete appearance of the Basel buildings. I was sitting there and enjoying the sun glittering in the rhine while listening to the beautiful score produce by the masterminds from Equilibrium. After weeks of struggling with life and its implications I experienced a moment of total happiness; sorrow and pain were just washed away from my soul by the strong and cool wind at the riverside.
I can end this day with a broad smile on my face and want to share that little piece of fullfillment with you guys.

Check it out! Equilbrium homepage ! Equilibrium myspace
Equilibrium finally managed to convert myself into a complete, obediant and loyal fan of their soulful music.

by Ced
07/09/08. 12:05:44 am. 271 words, . Categories: General , 2374 comments »

The unofficial Google shell

Link: http://goosh.org/

Goosh is an unofficial web page that accesses Google via its API and offers a Unix-shell-like interface to the search engine.What an excellent idea! Try changing the directory to wiki (cd wiki), searching and going back to Google (cd ..).

by Ced
06/10/08. 08:36:03 pm. 40 words, . Categories: General , 2020 comments »

The worlds first clinical trial

I just came across an interesting fact. James Lind, a surgeon's mate in the Royal Navy concurred the first clinical trial in the history of science. He aimed to find a treatment for scurvy in 1753. Scurvy is the result of a diet lacking ascorbate (vitamin C), frequently a feature of long trips on the sea. Onboard, it mostly consisted of salt meat and zwieback.

You find excerpts of his pioneering study here. Also, a video documentary from BBC television is available.

by Ced
12/21/07. 05:53:30 pm. 81 words, . Categories: General , 2629 comments »

Music that has been on my music player for ages

I never leave my flat without my precious iRiver portable music player. Being able to listen to some music whenever I want is essential for my well-being. Since there is only 1 GB of space on the player, the albums had been changing quite a lot. But surprisingly, for a few months now, I have not uploaded anything. I liked the music so much that I never felt the need for changing anything. It was just the right combination of different styles and degrees of heaviness. Just yesterday though, I thought some fresh tunes would be nice, and that is the reason I decided to post these - to say it in darwinistic terms - successful albums here. Must be good music after all! Here we go:

  • Sonata Arctica - Unia Very melodic and symphonic metal, not really heavy. The lyrics are interesting and the singer's voice is beautiful to listen to.
  • Subway to Sally - Bastard The newest release by the german band StS. Melancholic medieval metal. This work is not as heavy as earlier stuff by Subway, a lot of acoustic guitars and different other instruments.
  • Subway to Sally - Nord Nord Ost This one came out just before 'Bastard' and contains some catchy songs. "Sieben" is also played quite a lot at goth parties.
  • Atreyu - Lead sails paper anchor Metal or even rock, so soft and slow that I would recommend this even to people who do not listen to metal usually.
  • Blutengel - Seelenschmerz Culty german dark electronic music. The band splits EBM lovers in two parts, either you love or hate it. Anyway it's very stereotypical music, but perfectly made.
  • Equilibrium - Turis Fratyr Now we're getting to faster stuff. Pagan metal from Germany with German texts. I love the atmosphere this album creates. When I close my eyes, I almost think I'm in the forest, riding a horse, fighting some enemies..
  • Soilwork - Stabbing The Drama Melodic death metal from Sweden. I absolutely dig the vocalist's ability to modulate his screams to the rhythm of the songs. Incredibly good stuff.
  • Ektomorf - Outcast Hungarian thrash metal! Very heavy and aggresive. For those hateful moments...
  • One Man Army & The Undead Quartet - Error in Evolution Swedish death metal band. You have to see them live to really feel the vibes, but the album is anyway a good representation. Sick lyrics, sick music.
  • VA - Psionic Groove A fantastic compilation of new psychedelic trance tracks. I am absolutely in love with the last track, High Paradise by 1200 Micrograms. I also attached a youtube video from a festival featuring this track.

[youtube]7FqttjrSkrE[/youtube]

by Ced
12/19/07. 10:48:38 am. 428 words, . Categories: Music , 2033 comments »

Moet dat zijn?

Moet dat zijn?
Moet dat zijn? For once an image by me (ced)!
by Ced
12/17/07. 10:28:25 pm. 10 words, . Categories: Pix , 2435 comments »

Scienceblogs in German

As the English version of Scienceblogs was highly successfull, a deal was struck with Hubert Burda Media in Germany to host a similar portal for scientists, but of course in German! Great news! I'd always wanted to recommend Scienceblogs to people without any scientific education, but held back because of language constraints. Now I can recommend Scienceblogs.de! There are already 12 bloggers who have permanently moved their science and science-related blogs to their new home; and hopefully this website will see a similar growth as its English pendant. From 12 to 70 bloggers in 2 years is remarkable.

by Ced
12/12/07. 05:32:34 pm. 95 words, . Categories: Science , 2064 comments »

Some electronic music news..

One week ago I was attending a party in Liestal at the modus club. It was called "Hotzenplotz ir Räuberhöhli", featuring mainly DarkPsy-artists. DarkPsy is subgenre of psychedelic trance, it's faster, harder, darker and more psychedelic. And it really was an explosion of strange sounds and mind-shattering beats combined with a beautiful decoration of the club. Check out the pics made by Manu on her website. If you look carefully, you will even spot me in some pictures.. Well hidden!

 

In other news, here are my current favorite webradio stations I listen to while writing my master thesis or at least trying to:

  • Electo-Radio.ch (tune in): A nice selection of the newest and freshest electrohouse club tracks, keeps me in a good mood
  • Bassdrive (tune in): Kickass drum & bass tunes directly broadcasted from Chicago, helps me overcoming the after-lunch dizziness
  • HBR1 I.D.M. Tranceponder (tune in): Psychedelic and progressive trance without interruption, good for late afternoons and getting ready for partying
  • Soma.fm Illinois Street Lounge (tune in): A great station to disturb your coworkers. If you like the music, you are an exception :-)
  • Triplag (tune in): For your shamanic moments.. A DarkPsy-station that will fuck up your brain. Helps me flying away after a day in the lab!
by Ced
12/10/07. 01:18:38 pm. 214 words, . Categories: General , 2743 comments »

Video recordings of the Beyond Belief II conference are available online

As the announcement on PZ Myers' blog, Pharyngula, states, the recordings of the Beyond Belief 2: Enlightenment 2.0 conference on religion, culture clash and science are online! I have not started watching them, but for sure I will enjoy all the sessions in the following weeks.

To give you a quick description, I'll quote their website:

The aim of Beyond Belief: Enlightenment 2.0 is to invite participants
to undertake together an ongoing reconnaissance of Enlightenment ideas
in the light of advances in primarily cognitive neurosciences,
evolutionary biology, physics etc. though not by any means scanting
history, philosophy, law. The word reconnaissance is used advisedly.
Although reconnaissance now usually means a military
information-gathering exercise, the preference is for original root -
recognoscere - which roughly suggests 'to get to know again'. The hope
is to explore our current sense of Reason, Truth, Belief, Human Nature,
Progress, Virtue and the Good Life in this light. It could be argued
that the Enlightenment was not quite the disaster that some critics
have suggested, and that version 2.0, and subsequent releases, could
conceivably be a dynamic improvement if we set our minds to it, guided
by that eudaemonic impulse.

by Ced
12/06/07. 12:39:20 pm. 189 words, . Categories: Science , 2674 comments »

The Veil Is Getting Thin

As I went out walking this fall afternoon,
I heard a wisper wispering.
I heard a wisper wispering,
Upon this fine fall day...

As I went out walking this fall afternoon,
I heard a laugh a'laughing.
I heard a laugh a'laughing,
Upon this fine fall day...

I heard this wisper and I wondered,
I heard this laugh and then I knew.
The time is getting near my friends,
The time that I hold dear my friends,
The veil is getting thin my friends,
And strange things will pass through.

(by: Unknown)

I wish everyone a pleasant Samhain's eve. Take a minute to think about the beautiful balance between life and death.

by Ced
10/31/07. 08:21:12 am. 114 words, . Categories: General , 2405 comments »

Will Wright presents Spore at TED

Thanks to Grommel's commentary I have found TED, the conference featuring very popularized, but interesting talks by various more or less well known people. Thankfully, you find all of the talks on their website. I found a presentation by Will Wright (game designer at Maxis), in which he talks about his upcoming game "Spore ". As you may known, I and Charel are huge fans of this game, at least as it is presented so far. So more than just a blog post, this is a little gift to Charel.

http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/view/id/146

by Ced
10/12/07. 04:35:13 pm. 101 words, . Categories: General , 2479 comments »

The Pleasure of Finding Things Out

On Cairnarvon's blog, I have found an interesting interview with Richard Feynman (who died in 1988), the particle physicist and nobel laureate you surely know. It's hosted on Youtube in 5x10 min parts. I found it a very worthwile interview with a relaxed, contemplative and joyful Feynman. I'll quote the interview description for your convenience:

Richard P. Feynman (1918-1988), scientist, teacher, raconteur, and
musician. He assisted in the development of the atomic bomb, expanded
the understanding of quantum electrodynamics, translated Mayan
hieroglyphics, and cut to the heart of the Challenger disaster. But
beyond all of that, Richard Feynman was a unique and multi-faceted
individual.

THE PLEASURE OF FINDING THINGS OUT was filmed in
1981 and will delight and inspire anyone who would like to share
something of the joys of scientific discovery. Feynman is a master
storyteller, and his tales -- about childhood, Los Alamos and the Bomb,
or how he won a Nobel Prize -- are a vivid and entertaining insight
into the mind of a great scientist at work and play.

Here's the link to the first part.

On a sidenote, I really enjoy the advancement of online video made in the recent years. In the old days, when bulletin board systems were the state of the art, I could never have imagined myself sitting in front of a desktop computer watching highly interesting interviews, discussions, debates, documentaries or even whole lectures by famous scientists, politicians or other people of importance. If you use it the right way, the world wide web is really a gift for the inquiring mind.

by Ced
10/11/07. 01:28:28 pm. 261 words, . Categories: Science , 2490 comments »

How to tune your linux installation

In my IRC channel, #tshakaa, an interesting piece of advice was posted by nemster: Tales from responsivenessland: why Linux feels slow, and how to fix that on Rudd-O.com. The very small article explains the problems with caching and pageing under the GNU/Linux operating system and gives two simple commands to tune your desktop installation. I have just changed my settings and am testing how my system behaves; so far I can't tell you anything more than what is written in the article. I am using Ubuntu 7.04 on a 2.6GHz machine with 512 MB RAM, btw.

If you experience a difference, please let me know.

by Ced
10/11/07. 01:20:58 pm. 106 words, . Categories: Software , 2193 comments »

Science is interesting!

I was peacefully watching the recordings of the conference "Beyond Belief 2006 ", when I stumbled across a very funny moment by Richard Dawkins. Please take a look at this video on Google Video and fast forward to position 1:17:20!

by Ced
10/09/07. 11:13:28 pm. 39 words, . Categories: General, Science , 2433 comments »

The Pharyngula mutating genre meme

Over at the popular science blog by biologist PZ Myers, Pharyngula, an ingenious idea was posted:

The Pharyngula mutating genre meme

There are a set of questions below that are all of the form, "The best [subgenre] [medium] in [genre] is…". Copy the questions, and before answering them, you may modify them in a limited way, carrying out no more than two of these operations:

  • You can leave them exactly as is.

  • You can delete any one question.

  • You can mutate either the genre, medium, or subgenre of any one question. For instance, you could change "The best time travel novel in SF/Fantasy is…" to "The best time travel novel in Westerns is…", or "The best time travel movie in SF/Fantasy is…", or "The best romance novel in SF/Fantasy is…".

  • You can add a completely new question of your choice to the end of the list, as long as it is still in the form "The best [subgenre] [medium] in [genre] is…".

You must have at least one question in your set, or you've gone
extinct, and you must be able to answer it yourself, or you're not
viable.

Then answer your possibly mutant set of questions. Please do include
a link back to the blog you got them from, to simplify tracing the
ancestry, and include these instructions.

Finally, pass it along to any number of your fellow bloggers.
Remember, though, your success as a Darwinian replicator is going to be
measured by the propagation of your variants, which is going to be a
function of both the interest your well-honed questions generate and
the number of successful attempts at reproducing them.

Of course I immediately have to continue this hilariously exciting project and mutate the meme:


My parent is: Pharyngula .

1. The best scientific novel in SF/Fantasy is…

Solaris, by Stanislaw Lem.

2. The best romantic movie in historical fiction is…

The Pianist.

3. The best sexy song in gothic is…

Sweet Dreams, by Marilyn Manson.

by Ced
10/09/07. 10:12:35 pm. 343 words, . Categories: General , 1967 comments »

Hail, Stanford, Hail

Three absolutely funny commercials for the Stanford University are available here. I was laughing my ass off.. Enjoy!

by Ced
09/27/07. 01:02:51 pm. 18 words, . Categories: Science , 2483 comments »

If you always wondered what Creation Science really is!

Just attend the Creation Science 101 class by Roy Zimmermann.. Enjoy this great intellectual comedian:

[youtube]uIwiPsgRrOs[/youtube]

by Ced
09/14/07. 09:49:42 pm. 17 words, . Categories: General , 2069 comments »

The burden of organizing something

One has to face it: It's notoriously difficult to organize a meeting between more than two people. Be it a busines conference, leisure activities, an exam or anything else. What topic, what film, what date, when, who... There are lots of questions. If you aren't lucky enough to have a groupware software available, there is a good solution to the date and topic problem: Doodle! Doodle allows you to create temporary poll webpages to send to your friends or co-workers. Thus a fast decision can be made about who is available and what the best date would be. If you don't understand immediately, try it out for yourself, the maintainers have set-up a demo poll on the front page: Doodle.ch

by Ced
09/12/07. 05:47:06 pm. 124 words, . Categories: General , 2610 comments »

A new and interesting way to share and discover music

Believe me, you will be surprised by this new concept of sharing and listening to music on the web. There is a brand-new Web 2.0 web site available which allows every user to upload music tracks to share with the other members. You can search for music and add tracks you like to custom playlists. All without paying one cent. A very simple concept indeed!! I can just quickly search for some albums, add them to a playlist and I can listen to my newly created "radio station" with only music I like. It is like your mp3 collection is just following you everywhere..

It's legal! France based! Let's see how long it will still be "legal"... Try it out: http://www.deezer.com/?urlIdSong=70313

There are still a lot of things to be done on this product in its early stages: multiple file uploads (whole albums), multiple selection of search results to add to playlists, discover music by user, more community features.. I'm looking forward to see how the site will develop.

by Ced
09/06/07. 03:37:01 pm. 179 words, . Categories: Music , 2586 comments »

Der Lachs im Zweifel

Ein guter Freund von mir, Bart, hat mir vor einigen Monaten ein Buch in den Briefkasten gelegt. Es ist eine Sammlung von Texten, welche nach Douglas Adams' Tod (bekannt von "Per Anhalter durch die Galaxis" und andere) gefunden wurden und für publizierenswert gehalten wurden. Ich mag die Anhalter-Serie und ihren Autor sehr gerne und so war es auf den ersten Moment befremdlich, ein posthumes Werk in den Händen zu halten. Man fühlt sich einfach auf eine subtile Art unwohl..

Im Buch finden sich einige Vorworte von Schriftstellern und Adams selber, sowie Artikel welche er für verschiedenste Zeitungen und Magazine geschrieben hat. Sehr genüsslich habe ich sie mir zu Gute geführt und war überrascht, wie direkt und höchst intelligent er an die Thematiken herangeht. Eine Kolumne ist halt etwas anderes als ein Buch, und man lernt einen Autor von einer völlig anderen Seite her kennen. Gutes Material! Dann im zweiten Teil geht es über zu Sammlung von Kapiteln eines unfertigen Buches über den Detektiv Dirk Gently. Diesen Texten merkt man an, dass sie sich noch in einer Rohform befinden und es fehlt auch eine gewisser Fluss im Lesen. Trotzdem kristalliert sich unvermeidlich der Douglas'sche Effekt heraus: Man ist völlig irritiert, getraut zuerst kaum zu lachen, weil es einem so stupid vorkommt, kann sich dann aber nicht mehr retten vor Zwerchfelltraining!

Für den geneigten DNA (Douglas Noel Adams) Leser kann ich also "Lachs im Zweifel" überaus empfehlen, wobei ich sicherlich die englische Version lesen würde! Im Deutschen kommen viele der Witze nicht so gut rüber, dafür wurden einige Worte in Englisch gelassen, vielen Dank an dieser Stelle an die Übersetzerin! Ein kleines Schmankerl, welches mir grandios erscheint zitiere ich hier:

Das Leben war kurz, das Wetter zu schön und die Welt voller äusserst interessanter und aufregender Fallstricke. Dirk würde segeln gehen.

Das Leben, sagte er sich oft und gern, ist wie ein Meer. Man kann sich entweder drüber hinwegquälen wie ein Motorboot, oder man kann den Winden und Strömungen folgen - mit anderen Worten, sich treiben lassen. Den Wind hatte er: irgendwer bezahlte ihn. Vermutlich bezahlte ihn jemand, damit er etwas tat, aber was, das hatte ihm derjenige nicht mitgeteilt. Na gut, daswar das Recht eines Klienten. Aber Dirk hatte das Gefühl, er sollte auf diesen grosszügigen Impuls, ihn zubezahlen, reagieren und irgend etwas tun. Aber was?

by Ced
07/07/07. 01:10:37 pm. 409 words, . Categories: Literature , 2827 comments »

Der Blink nach links

Der Blick nach links, der Blick nach rechts
Ein Auge trifft aufs and're; leer, unsicher
Sie rasen durch die Wege, umfahren Mülltonnen
Ganz knapp verfehlt, die Leute strömen
Ein Augenzwinkern löscht den Adler, sitzend im Bistro
Wohin bloss bringen mich meine Füsse
Dorthin wo alle andern auch hingehen?
Rettende Inseln sind leider meist von Blumen bedeckt,
unerklimmbar ohne den Faden zu verlieren,
den Faden zum Ursprung, welcher alle hält
Einsam kullern wir wie Steine über den Platz
Fremd und unmittelbar zugleich, erkennen wir nicht
Was uns verbindet, uns erschafft und uns zerstört
Farben regnen auf mich nieder, ein Regenbogen erstickt
meine aufkeimende Hoffnung sogleich wieder.
Ein Schloss geht zu, die Burg fällt in sich zusammen
Strahlen bersten, Knochen krachen, ich sehe Dich.

by Ced
07/05/07. 11:07:55 pm. 130 words, . Categories: Subculture , 2096 comments »

The lifetime achievement award was given to..

About three weeks ago, the RNA society held its annual meeting in Madison, Wisconsin. Four people from the laboratory where I work went to the exciting event to meet with like-minded scientists from all over the world. Among them was Prof. Keller, the laboratory head and my boss. Not without some pride I can announce that he has been awarded the "Lifetime Achievement in Science Award" by the society! Read all about it in the article of the Biocenter's PR department .

by Ced
06/25/07. 11:32:44 am. 84 words, . Categories: Science , 2212 comments »

Whew! A summer's rain explosion just hit me!

All day long it was warm and cozy, the mercury hitting 32 degrees (celsius), when suddenly at around 19.30 the sky exploded. The whole city of Basel was covered in huge amounts of water, the rain was dropping to the ground in thick threads. I could manage to resuce myself at the Barfüsserplatz tramway station, but still there was no escape, because the powerful wind blew all the water under the cover. Incredible demonstration of mother nature's force! It was a very intense moment and an acceptable break of the hot workday.

I tried to capture some of the drama, but obviously it's a hopeless undertaking.

by Ced
06/14/07. 08:20:10 pm. 107 words, . Categories: General , 2603 comments »

Kubb at St. John's Park

Tonight me and some friends headed out to St. John's Park, situated right at the river Rhine here in Basel. Luke and me brought our custom made set of wooden pieces with us, to play a game called "Kubb ", or unoffically: Viking chess. While very famous in Scandinavian countries, its popularity is still very limited in helvetic regions. You can either play 1vs1 or in teams. The whole game is a mixture between boule, chess and horseshoe throwing. Check swisskubb.ch for a nice tutorial on how to play this weird, but funny game.

I've never played it before, but found it quite enjoyable. It's very easy to play and thus just invites to be played on lazy evenings with maybe a beer in one hand and some friends around. Looking forward for the next time! Check out the very few snapshots I could take.

Kubb
by Ced
06/13/07. 11:35:49 pm. 150 words, . Categories: Subculture , 2168 comments »

Discovery of a band yet to be filed

Very often I search through music sites for new artists and new music. Be it genre-specific sites likes metal.de or more open like laut.de; I always find some amazing and interesting new stuff. Months ago I came across a band called Ektomorf. I listened to a short sample and was immediately fascinated by their sound. At that time though, other bands have gotten more of my attention and so I purchased otherEktomorf albums.

Just recently I was looking through my bookmarks and rediscovered this very band. This time I made the right decision: Buy it!

The hungarian based Ektomorf play a strange kind of metal, I still have a hard time labeling it with some specific style. Maybe this music doesn't need it.. They sound like a cross between Entombed and Lamb of God. Take a punk band, roll it over with a steamroller and let the bloody remains creep towards you, the appearence amplified with a terrifying musical explosion.

I feel in love with their music almost instantly! On my iRiver, on my stereo.. Ektomorf everywhere! Get a taste at their myspace site.

by Ced
06/12/07. 10:02:26 pm. 187 words, . Categories: Music , 2257 comments »

IFIL: Interesting holidays or pathetic intellectualism?

Some days ago, I picked up a flyer advertising IFIL.chIFIL, the Initiative For Intercultural Learning. The organization offers trips to countries such as Venezula and Israel. The purpose is to encourage cultural and political learning and exchange. In the course of the fully organized holidays, you will meet locals working for NGOs, politicians and other interesting people. At least this is what they promise! I am actually very interested in those holidays, but my financial situation does not allow me to participate. For example, the trip to Washington DC and New York (UN Headquarters) weighs in at CHF 2500.-

So for me, the next chance would be 2008 or even later. It looks like a very nice alternative to traditional holidays, but maybe it is pathetic to disguise as a intellectually inclined tourist to relax for a few days. What do you think? What other such organizations do you know? Alternatives?

by Ced
06/07/07. 12:08:08 pm. 150 words, . Categories: General , 2004 comments »

Bierkistenlauf 2007 - Wtf?

One month to late I have finally uploaded the pictures I took at the Bierkistenlauf 2007 in Basel. Bierkistenlauf 2007 For those of you who don't know what it's all about: Usually on May 1st, there are numerous anti-capitalistic protests and marches throughout the country and the world. As a reaction to that, some young skaters organized a "beer crate run" themselves, with only dozens of participitants. Years later, the event attracts thousands of young people and the inventors have stopped participitating, because of the massive littering and other reasons. Still, it is a hilarious event: The task is to drink one crate of beer in groups of two persons on a track of some kilometers. The destination is Grün 80, a park near Basel. The winner of the run gets all the crates (a profitable prospect, because you get quite a sum of refund for returning the crates to the shops).

So in the end it is just drinking lots of beer together, but in the light of the violent May 1st-protests, it is an interesting counter-movement. I did not participate, but went to the Grün 80 to take some pictures of the people arriving and meet some friends. Click on the picture to view the photo gallery.

by Ced
06/03/07. 01:14:04 pm. 210 words, . Categories: General, Subculture, Pix , 2498 comments »

"When you're born in this world, you're given a ticket to the freak show. When you're born in America you're given a front row seat."

The title is a quotation from George Carlin, a famous satirical comedian from our friendly superpower, the USA. He's been doing comedy for decades now. Well known at the other side of the ocean, most people in Europe donGeorge Carlin't know him. Of course this is also due to the language barrier. So what's so special about him? Well, whenever I feel hate and anger because of humanity, I watch one of his shows and feel relieved and confirmed. He basically rants about the world, society, the USA, general people, religion, government... Whatever you can think of, he just bashes it all. And he does it on a intelligent level - I am always inclined to say: "Thank you for speaking that one out loud, George". Definitely worthwile to watch. The best thing: Some of his shows are available on YouTube for your enjoyment. I compiled a little link list pointing to his shows (they are split in parts because of YouTube's length limitation):

Playing With Your head (1986): Part 1, 2 , 3 , 4 , 5 , 6

You're All Diseased (1999): Part 1, 2 , 3 , 4 , 5 , 6 , 7

Complaints and Grievances (2001): Part 1 , 2 , 3 , 4 , 5 , 6 , 7

Life Is Worth Losing (2005): Part 1 , 2 , 3 , 4 , 5 , 6 , 7 , 8

If you only want a quick intro to his work, enjoy his routine on the Ten Commandments. If you cannot watch videos right now, I'll copy and paste a quotation, taken from the wikipedia article about him (from Life Is Worth Losing):

"I look at it this way... For centuries now, man has done everything he
can to destroy, defile, and interfere with nature: clear-cutting
forests, strip-mining mountains, poisoning the atmosphere, over-fishing
the oceans, polluting the rivers and lakes, destroying wetlands and
aquifers... so when nature strikes back, and smacks man in the head and
kicks man in the nuts, I enjoy that. I have absolutely no sympathy for
human beings whatsoever. None. And no matter what kind of problem
humans are facing, whether it's natural or man-made, I always hope it
gets worse."

by Ced
06/02/07. 01:06:01 pm. 325 words, . Categories: General, Subculture , 2547 comments »

Collaboration over the Net

Whew.. I have posted in quite a while. It's me, Ced, in case you forgot to look at the signature of this post. I have the pleasure of presenting you quite an interesting piece of software.

Recently, when I tried to help a good friend with his C++ exercises for his education as a licensed computer technician, we encountered a problem. Giving programming support over the telephone (=Skype) is very hard! The first thing which came to our mind was to use the chat feature of Skype. This worked reasonably well, but was still very cumbersome because there was no other way to see the whole code than to copy & paste it. Everytime you made a change. Very annoying.

So while my friend was doing some bugfixing, I googled through the waves of the world wide web and found a very interesting software, which allows online collaboration: Gobby . It isGobby basically a multi-user text editor. Because it is available for Mac OSX, Windows and Linux, it was very useful for us; he is running Windows and I am running Linux. How does it work? I have created a session, to which he connected. For that to work, you need to forward a specific port to your workstation if you sit behind a firewall (NAT). Once both have openend the session, anyone can open documents in the editor. To view the other user's documents, you click on Document List, where you can choose to subscribe to any of these. After both have openend the same document, you can simultaneously make changes to the document. To track who was done what, each user can set a background color. His changes are then highlighted with the personal color, which is very convenient. We have already used the software productively and in combination with Skype it is really useful!

The big drawback of course is that it only works with plain-text files, because it is intended for programming. It also sports a nice syntax highlighting for numerous programming languages. Of course the two of us exactly need this functionality so it's perfect. But anyhow, if someone knows a similar program, please write a comment.

During the sessions I was really impressed by the whole experience. Going further than just using the Web, E-Mail and Instant Messaging, you can reach layers of communication with remote parties you've never thought of! I could also imagine many other users, such as preparing a letter, writing an abstract, whatever. Work, research and education could benefit from a more productive use of the Internet. Remember, its inventors had collaboration in mind!

by Ced
06/01/07. 08:16:48 pm. 437 words, . Categories: General, Software , 2069 comments »

Grad richtig zum seegle

heavy clouds

by Ced
04/19/07. 09:08:50 pm. 0 words, . Categories: Pix , 2964 comments »

This explains quite a lot, certain women see more colors

In the Slashdot summary of the recent research on genetically altered miced with enhanced vision, I have spotted an interesting link . Apparently, it is old news (2006), but I have not heard of this before! According to the article , women can possess additional cones with a different peak in the light spectrum. Only women, because the corresponding gene lies on the X-chromosome. I had a good laugh!

by Ced
03/26/07. 11:19:35 am. 66 words, . Categories: Science , 2309 comments »

"Save your eyes from the blinding pain of television..."

Since summer 2004 I actually live without a TV set in my home and thus only very rarely watch TV; for example only when I'm at friend's or in public places. I cannot really say if I miss it or not. The Internet can satisfy the urge for media quite well, although it requires a substantial greater amount of interaction. So what to do when I come home tired and exhausted of the work in the laboratory? Downloading episodes of soaps and comedy gets annoying with time, by watching YouTube you destroy more brain cells than when drinking and movies are often too long. So how should I react to the need of my brain to experience complex audiovisual stimulation?

As a sidenote: I am not able to use Zatoo (a software for Swiss internet users which allows you to view some of the popular german channels for free), because they do not offer a Linux client.

One time, when I had fallen back to watch YouTube videoclips, I found "Heavy Metal in Baghdad - Part 1 of 5" and it immediately took my breath away. The American journalists are on a search for a heavy metal group which was founded in Baghdad; and I can tell you, it's a trip into the hell. I then wondered what kind of producer was behind the clip and noticed the URL vbs.tv.

And I found the end of all my search.. An alternative television channel on the internet. In their own words:

VBS is an online broadcast network. We stream original content, free of
charge and 24 hours a day. We carry a mix of domestic and international
news, pop and underground culture coverage, and the best music in the
world. People have used words like eclectic, smart, funny, shocking,
and revolutionary to describe VBS, but we kind of just snapped our
fingers in their faces and went, “Whatever. Tell us something we don’t
know.”

With Academy Award-nominated director
Spike Jonze (Adaptation, Being John Malkovich) as our creative
director, original content from a veritable United Nations of
contributors, and bureaus in 20 countries, VBS has hit the planet in a
manner not unlike a massive global plague. Streaming on VBS’s signature
“in-room” widescreen and remote, content will be available all the
time, on-demand.

Basically, VBS will exploit every utopian vision the internet has thus far failed to live up to. Thanks for watching.

Check it out: VBS.tv

by Ced
03/19/07. 10:20:21 pm. 408 words, . Categories: Subculture , 2562 comments »

How does it look like, at the other side of the wormhole?

As you obviously have noticed, I moved my blog "Am Ende des Regenbogens" (=at the end of the rainbow) from my own domain wurmlo.ch to betz.lu, which is owned by Charel. He generously set up an own area on his blog for my posts. Thanks!

My previous entries can be downloaded as four PDF files: Blog1 , Blog2 , Blog3 and Blog4. (Though I wonder who would be interested anyway..)

So I got sucked in by the wormhole and came out at the other side! I wonder what this dimension has up its sleeve for me.

by Ced
02/24/07. 04:33:05 pm. 98 words, . Categories: General , 2066 comments »

Brazilian Power Metal

Angra

Some people go to jazz concerts, others visit regular lab meetings.Well I go from time to time to a heavy metal concert. Every now and then, I pay a visit to Z-7 concert hall in Pratteln, this time it was for one of my favorite bands, Angra. It was the second time I enjoyed them live and they sure as hell have neither lost their brilliant skills as musicians, nor the enthusiastic atmosphere mostly generated by their frontman Edi Falaschi. In Brazil they are superstars, having albums in the charts, in Europe however, noone seems to know them. Let's change that! If you happen to like the more heavier tunes, check out their website or listen to their tunes at Amazon .

by Ced
02/21/07. 09:17:30 am. 123 words, . Categories: Music , 3174 comments »