A calculated risk

I'm being buried in spam. I do have effective spam-filter, and it does cath spam, but it's still very annoying. For starters, the spam-filter runs on this local machine, if I access my personal emailthrough webmail (say, from work), I will have zillion spams waiting for me.

I have been thinking about changing my email-address. And I'm ready to do it. But since I have nothing to do at this point, I tried something else first. About 1/3 of the spam I receive, all advertize one particular online-pharmacy. Sure, the URL changes, but the store is the same. I went to their site, and they had a link called "report spam". Since I have nothing to lose, I clicked it, and entered all the information they asked, including my email-address. I know, that is a VERY risky thing to do, since now they know for sure that there's someone reading the mail that is being delivered to that address. So they might send me even more spam. But if that happens, then so be it. I will then just change my address, and start from a clean slate.

I read a while ago that top 10 spammers in the world are responsible for about 80% of worlds spam. So all it would take is 10 bullets....

Death & Rebirth

So I did it. Finally. I have been thinking about getting a newer car. And I have been looking for one for the last two months, more or less. I have talked with the bank, and the finances are in order. Few days ago I found an ideal car, and last saturday we went to take a look at it. But it seems that our old car knew what we were up to, and it decided to foil our plans. In the middle of the motorway, it broke down (again). Luckily this time I managed to get the car to a ramp with less traffic. But still we were stuck there. We had to call the father-in-law so he could come pick us up. He did so, and we proceeded our quest of buying a car.

Finally we reached the seller (after first calling him and explaining that we are a bit late, since we woke late, and then calling him again that our car had broken down). Took a look at the car, drove it around a bit... And it seemed like just the car I had been looking for. Bargained a bit, reached an agreement and signed the papers. I'm now a happy owner of year 1994 VW Passat 2.0 GL Wagon. And it had only 183.000 kilometers behind it, usually Passats of that age have clocked around 250.000 - 350.000 kilometers! That's quite a step from our current car, year -88 Saab 900 with 480.000 kilometers behind it.

Well, I don't have the car yet, tomorrow I'm going to get the money from the bank, and pay the seller ASAP. But I did make the down-payment, and we signed the papers, so it's as good as mine, I just don't have the car with me yet.

And the old car? Well, I might have a new owner for it looked up already. No, we are not going to get any money for it, but still. Either it gets a new owner, or it will end up being recycled. As to the new car.... I should have several years of care-free (more or less) motoring ahead of me :).

What the world needs is more acronyms (WTWNIMA)

The Mrs. thinks that I'm hypochondriac. And maybe she's right. Last year on my birthday I thought I was having a heart-attack or something. Nope. Maybe it was anxiety because I was getting closer to the magic 30. Or maybe it was a panic-attack (I had that back when I was about 16 years old). Earlier this year I thought I have a brain-tumor or something. Well, no. Just regural headache. Right now I have some aching in my knees and they make cracking noise when sitting down. Well, they have done that for some time now, but still. And I have a feeling that it might be Osteoarthritis. Hey, I'm a big guy, so it just might be. But still, in the past I have been so sure that I have heart-attack, tumors, cancer and who knows what, that it might be false alarm (again).

I think my thoughts of having a serious illness (well, not ALL the time) are due to seeing my father die because of a serious illness (brain hemorrage) back when I was a kid (eights years old). That has left me a feeling that there are lots of things in human body that could go wrong.

Anyway, this latest problem acts as a good excuse to get in shape. So I have set myself clear short-term (by the end of the year) and mid-term (by next summer) goals that I intend to reach.


Our current contract with the power-company is coming to an end. And instead of simply continuing with them, we decided to look around and see if we could get a better deal. And boy, could we ever!

what our current provider offers us would cost about 1200+e/year. Looking around we got an offer that would cost about 850e/year, plus we would get these credit-points we could use in shops and restaurants. 350e is quite a bit of money. We also got offer that would be around 1000+e/year.

Now, here's where it gets tricky. We would like to support sustainable energy and such. And the cheapest company uses mostly fossil fuels. I believe that they have about 60+% fossils, with the remaining 40% is split between renewable energy and nuclear. The 1000+e/year would be generated with windmills and museum hydroelectric (museum hydroelectric means these old and small-scale hydroelectric power-plants that aren't really competetive anymore). Our current provider (the 1200e/year) would be about 60% renewables, with remaining split between nuclear and fossils. They do also sell green energy that has the endorsement of the Finnish Association for Nature Conservation.

This basically leaves us with two offers: 850e/year generated with mostly fossil fuels. But it's cheapests by far. The other option is 1000+e/year, 100% sustainable energy. Our current provider isn't really an option, they cost more, while not really offering the benefits of the 1000+e-offer.

Now, if we were really good World Citizens (tm) we would pick the more expensive option. But then again, 150e is quite a bit of cash. And still, part of that energy would be generated through sustainable means. And we could cut back on our power-consumption. Then again, we could to that with the more expensive offer as well, while having 100% green energy.

These things we re easy back when we (the people in general) didn't care about "green stuff". We could just do comparisons based on price. Now we have to take account the color of power, as well as it's price.

the unstable polar bear

I got some spam today. It actually got through the spam-filters, and reason it did is that it contained some text in the end which is designed to fool spam-filters in to believing that it's genuine email. And some of the stuff in there is pretty deep:

"When you see some hypnotic reactor, it means that a grizzly bear living with the cargo bay hibernates."

"When a hypnotic football team rejoices, a briar patch starts reminiscing about lost glory."

"A fruit cake beyond a bartender competes with the unstable polar bear."

playboy.com is history

Few weeks ago I had to test the web content-filter (read: porn-filter) at work. The test basically consisted me going to various banned websites, like playboy.com, and check whether I could reach them or not. Well, as a result, I now have playboy.com hanging in my browsers list of visited sites.

Why is that a problem? Well, I have few websites I visit that start with "pla" (planetkde.org, and planet.gnome.org primarily), and when I start to type the URL in the address-bar, it suggests playboy.com. Most annoying. I could clear my browsing-history, but then I would lose all the other websites I have visited in the past as well. So, as things are right now, I'm stuck.

Life, it seems, is not only filled with little things that cause you joy. It's also consisted of little things that annoy you.

"Think of the children!"

I'm getting sick and tired of having bunch of do-gooders running around and "protecting the children". Latest case in this neverending quest of protecting the children from anything that might theoretically harm them, is the lunacy proposed by the EU Comission. In short: People/websites who publish videos on a website (like Youtube, blogs etc.) need to get a broadcast-license. Rationale being that those videos might contain material that is harmful to children, and this way the government would have some control what gets published, and what does not.

What is this crap? We need a license from the government to exercise our right to free speech? Since someone could harm a child by saying something bad to that kid in the supermarket, maybe we need speech-licenses as well? I mean, would someone please think of the children?!

And I bet that this has nothing to do with children in the end. This is a method to give the government control what can be said and where. And if someone opposes legislation like this, they can just say "why do you hate children?".

I already mailed my MEP, and I sent the comissioner in charge of this disaster an polite and courteous email, where I explained the idiocy of this proposed directive.

Living with a DSLR

I have had my Eos 400D close to a week now, so it's time to reflect.

Camera is a camera, right? Well, yes. But it's amazing how things change when moving from a pocket-camera (in my case, Ixus 500) to a DSLR. What changes am I talking about here? Well, here's few:

Control. In my previous camera I could make "suggestions" to the camera, and all I could do then was to hope that the camera agreed with me. And I could never make long and short exposures work properly. The pictures ended up being under- or over-exposed. Not so with the new camera. I can tell the camera EXACTLY what I want it to do, and it will do it, no matter how stupid my demands are. And the problem with exposures? Gone. Well, I do get over- or under-exposed pics now and then, but this time I can change the settings and fix it. I can finally take pictures that really show movement. I can finally play around with light and depth-of-field.

Feel. My old camera was silent when I took a picture. The new camera? It actually makes a real sound when taking the picture. Now, you might think that the sound does not matter. But it does. The act of taking a picture is so much nicer with the new camera than in the old, because you get real audible feedback. I sometimes take pointless pictures with the camera just because it feels so good to take a picture. Also, the new camera lets you have a proper grip on the camera (although the Eos xxxD-series does not have the best grip in the market), whereas with the old camera I just held it in front of my face. Also, the camera weights more, which is a good thing. It doesn't move around as easily as the old camera, thanks to the added weight (and better grip).

Quality. The pictures I take with the Eos look better. It's as simple as that. And I can use humungous resolutions, and I can take RAW-pictures. Hell, the smallest resolution I can use with the Eos is only slightly smaller than the biggest resolution in the Ixus!

Speed. With the old camera I could take one picture ever 2-3 seconds or so. With the new camera I can take up to 3 pictures a second. So I can take more pictures in a limited time. I can then discard the poor pictures and keep the best. With the old camera, I could take maybe 1-2 pictures of something happening. And those pictures were the only ones I had. If they sucked, there was nothing I could do. Now I can pick and choose which pics to keep. 2-3 pictures suck? No problem, since I took maybe 5-6 pics, so I still have few decent pics to choose from. So the speed drives the overall quality up.

Those are the four biggest changes I have experiences. And the camera has in many ways changed other things as well. These days I go out quite often, just so I could take pictures. The Mrs. is happy as well, since we now take long walks, whereas befire I liked to stay indoors. I also take a lot more pictures these days than I did before. I might post some as time goes on :).

In short: I still think that the new camera was propably the best purchase I have made in quite some time.

I have seen the light, and it's called Totoro

Me, Mrs., the sister in-law and bunch of her friends went to see "My Neighbour Totoro" last sunday. I had seen "Spirited Away" and "Moving Castle", and liked them both very much. Mrs. had seen them as well, and thought that they were OK, but not uber-great or anything. Originally she didn't want to go see Totoro, but two-week persuasion by me and her sister made her come along to see it.

The movie was absolutely fabulous. I was totally mesmerized by it. It was just so beautiful, and I'm not talking about the artwork alone here. The actors (we saw the original version with Japanese dialogue) did a great job, the story was very imaginative and plain great, and the artwork was breathtaking. And the Mrs., the skeptic among us, fell in love with it.

Hayao Miyazaki is propably the greatest filmmaker in the world at the moment. What else is there to say, really?

The mystery-item....

Canon Eos 400D. Oh yes. My precioussss....

So I did it. Finally.

For the last few days I have been wondering about one specific thing: "Should I buy item A, or item B? Or could I afford them both at once?" Yesterday I finally came up with my answer: Item B it is. No, I can't afford both A and B at the same time. A has to wait for a bit longer. How much longer, I don't know. But hopefully not that long.

I'm currently in possession of B, and my credit-card is still bleeding. But looking at it, it has become quite obvious to me that it's everything I dreamed it would be, and more. I haven't even used the thing yet, but I'm already thinking that "this might be the best purchase I have made in a long time". I haven't smelled it, but I bet that if I did, it would smell better than roses and Chanel #5 combined.

More to come...

Reasons why Picard is better than Kirk

# Picard has a bigger spaceship, which can separate into two spaceships.
# Picard quotes Shakespeare all the time. Hell, even the ability to speak without pausing every two to three seconds puts him above Kirk
# Picard: Not only the president of the Enterprise, but also a client.
# Picard was turned into a robot. Robots are cool.
# Picard can say "Make it so" in 43 different inflections in 6 different languages.
# Picard isn't a walking sexual harassment suit. Hiring Picard instead of a skirt-chaser like Kirk is estimated to have saved the Federation 23 billion credits worth of legal fees and hush money paid to the mothers of illegitimate children spread out across hundreds of star systems.
# Picard has an annoying techno song compsed totally of his lines. Then someone took the time to make a music video by finding the scenes the lines were from, and editing them to fit the song. Crazy.
# Picard Wasn't made an admiral. Kirk told him not to let starfleet promote him, and he didn't. Therfore Picard is better.
# Picard would never, ever tell his fans to GET A LIFE!
# Kirk was a leader of followers. That's the only reason he (almost) got away with it.
# Picard's worst episodes were originally written for Kirk.
# Picard discovers new life, new civilizations and strange new worlds, not discarded movie sets from 1950s period dramas.
# Picard can act out entire Shakespearean plays, not merely remember 5 or 6 lines.
# Picard can get his ship to orbit a planet in both directions.
# Picard would never ever date a shape-shifter who had previously morphed into a little girl.
# Picard doesn't need to wear glasses.
# Picard has so much backbone Starfleet designers had to cut out a section of his command chair for it all to fit in.
# Picard didn't have to reprogram a computer to give him better grades in order to graduate from Starfleet Academy.
# Picard has to contend with crap Starfleet Admirals. If he stole a starship only to have it get destroyed, he'd get vaporized, not given captaincy of a new one like in the easy old days.
# Picard commands his ship using the big head.
# Picard has a ship whose engines can take it.
# Three words: seven whole seasons.
# Picard never uses Grecian 2000.
# Picard has to contend with the "Prime Directive", a ruling imposed on him by Starfleet after they saw what a complete shambles resulted when they let Kirk meet new alien races.
# The only way Picard would allow Tribbles on his ship would be as hors d'oeuvres.
# Picard never met Joan Collins.
# Picard's bridge doesn't sound like an aviary.
# Picard participates in the odd archaeological dig. Kirk would make a suitable subject for one.
# One question: to which Captain would you entrust the safety of your daughter?
# Picard is far too cool to beam down to a planet, strip to his waist and wrestle with some guy in a rubber lizard suit. He lets his First Officer do all that for him.
# Picard never shot his best friend's body into space in a photon torpedo.
# Kirk probably thinks a concerto is a kind of ice cream dessert.
# Picard doesn't need hair, real or not.
# Picard's crew are too sophisticated to be taken over by a bunch of women in gogo boots and have the most intelligent person aboard controlled by a box that has less buttons than a Super Nintendo joypad.
# Picard's adventures spun off three new series, each longer than Kirk's run. Kirk only inspired a one-seasoned cartoon, and six movies.
# Kirk's First Officer played some form of Vulcan harp, an instrument that makes the trombone look like just about the most macho thing this side of Kirk's toupee.
# How many innocent yellow-shirted security officers have been killed by crazed aliens who had taken pot shots at them in the mistaken belief that they were actually shooting at Kirk?
# Kirk commands his ship as if he's driving a tractor across an Iowa wheat field.
# When Picard was 37, he was the Captain of the lowly Stargazer. Starfleet soon learned the value of "progressive experience" having witnessed the disastrous consequences of letting someone take charge of a real ship when their previous vehicular experience extended only as far as driving a tractor across an Iowa wheat field.
# If Kirk had a doctor like Beverly Crusher, Starfleet would have to relocate the command chair in sickbay.
# If Kirk was captain when Tasha Yar died, he would have tried to do her corpse.
# Picard has more than one token black person on his crew.
# Picard isn't afraid to go places without a security team.
# Picard doesn't wear pansy sailor-boy markings on his cuffs.
# Picard has shuttlecraft that can travel faster than Kirk's ship.
# Picard would never have said "He's had too much LDS".
# Picard never has to say stupid things like, "I...am a Gr'up!" in front of young teenage girls who fancy him.
# Picard was actually in his own show's pilot episode.
# Picard never visits planets that look suspiciously like a Californian desert, except for that time he met Kirk.
# Picard won't spend his retirement writing science fiction books or making cameo appearances in Zemeckis & Zemeckis films.
# Picard was never demoted to a lieutenant in the L.A. Police Department.
# Picard is too slim to require a Kellogg's All Bran diet, and too dignified to turn up in an ad for such things.
# Picard's doctor doesn't have to keep reminding him what her job is.
# Picard doesn't have to operate his turbo lifts using hand pumps.
# Picard's main viewer is a 200 inch hi-definition TV with Nicam and Pro-Logic surround-sound.
# Picard's ego wouldn't demand $7 million for a 10 minute appearance in a movie.
# Picard can spend more than 15 minutes on a planet before being shot at or locked up.
# Picard's ship was never taken over by a door-to-door salesman.
# If the Borg had assimilated Kirk, they wouldn't have learned anything.
# Picard's First Officer eats the things that attack Kirk in alien forests.
# Picard would never blow up his own ship.
# Imagine you have to impose your authority: "This is Captain Jean Luc Picard of the Federation Starship Enterprise." Now introduce yourself as "James Tiberius Kirk, but you can call me Jim." See the difference?
# If Q had met Kirk instead of Picard he would have destroyed humanity before Kirk got two words out.
# Who ever heard of the Patrick Stewart foundation?
# One word: Intelligence
# When Picard met Kirk, only one of them survived. Guess who it was.

"No, I will NOT fix your computer"

Sometimes I get a bit annoyed with my friends and family (cousins, in this case). To quite a few of them, I'm just "the guy who can help with computers". Few days ago my oldest (as in, I have known him the longest time) friend of mine called. I knew what he wanted before he even said it: "I'm having some computer-problems here...". Well,he DID ask that when am I coming over after I had helped him out, so kudos for that. The next day my cousin called: "How do I install Google Earth? It's now asking that do I want to install it on the C-drive, is that OK? How does this software work?". Oh, I'm doing quite well over here, thanks for asking (or not). And another thing: I believe that if you do not how to go through an installation-wizard (really, it's not rocket-science!), maybe you shouldn't be installing software in the first place?

I really need to get myself this shirt....

How many working hours have you managed to squeeze in to a day?

My current record is 19.

Security and Control

Warning: This is a geeky post that will not interest about 95% of the people out there.

I like to try out new things. And that's especially true when it comes to computers and software. I'm typing this message on a Mac Mini running OS X. A while ago I ran both Linux, on a tower-PC and OS X. But then my tower-PC broke down, so I have been OS X-exclusive for several months now. I absolutely love the hardware, and OS X is a very easy operating system to like. It looks good, things (usually) just works, and everything is very smooth. Different apps are nicely integrated with each other (like slideshows in Mail, with option of adding those photos to iPhoto, sharing of content between different iLife-apps etc. etc.). I can easily see why so many people love this thing. Hell, I like it as well! Of course, no system is perfect, and there are things in OS X that annoy me. But I'm not going to list them here.

That said, I have decided to abandon OS X. I will be moving back to Linux. In many ways, Linux is just as good, if not better than OS X. But that's not the reason for the switch. The reason is security and control. Now, to most computer-users those two are not that important reason for choosing their OS, but they are to me.

What is "security and control" in this context? No, "security" does not refer to safety from viruses this time (although, you do get that with both OS X and Linux). What it refers to is simple, really. OS X is made by Apple Computer. They made it, and they are calling the shots. They tell you what you can and can't do with it. They can change the terms of the license if they want to (they have done that with iTunes for example). They set the rules, and the user either accepts the rules, or uses something else.

In a way, it's like living in a total dictatorship, but that dictatorship gives you entertainment and safety from crime. Does that mean that such dictatorship is actually a good idea?

For me, the choice of my OS boils down to simple question really: "Do I sacrifice my long-term security for short-term comfort?". Well, do I? In the absolute short-term, things might be easier with OS X. But even that might change. But what doesn't seem to be changing is the fact that OS X (and any other proprietary software for that matter) has been designed to give it's creator (Apple, Microsoft, you name it) maximum benefits. Everything has been designed so that the creator-company benefits. With Linux and other Free software, the license of the software has been designed so that the USER gets the maximum benefits. With Linux, the user can be absolutely sure that no-one can march in and say "We changed the rules, you need to give us money, and you must stop doing this thing here". And the user can be sure, that no company will march in and prevent the user from doing something with the system. Want to change it? Want to share it with your friends? Go ahead.

That is what "Security and control" means.

However, I'm a realist. Most users don't really care about those kinds of things. And I wouldn't have any problems recommending OS X to people. It IS, after all, order of magnitude better than Windows. Not only is it designed better, but it's not a monopoly either. But in the long-term, I feel that Linux (and Free software in general) is the one true way forward.

Milk Chocolate. Now with more air!

This is why I'm just a geek and not a marketdroid. Only a marketdriod could come up with chocolate that has air as it's defining feature. That's right, air. As in, nothing. I routinely see chocolate with nuts, raisins, fudge or something else in it. And they all prominently tell on the packagaing "Chocolate with nuts! Eat me now!". Today I saw Marabou (Marabou has lots of diferent chocolate with different stuff mixed with it) chocolate that had (and I quote) "air bubbles". I knew I just had to try it out. Turns out that "air bubbles" is just what it sounds like: "holes" in the middle of the chocolate with nothing in 'em. I guess that they actually had maybe 30% less chocolate in there, as opposed to just selling people solid chocolate.

Think about it. They basically mixed nothing with the chocolate. OK, they mixed air. But air is basically nothing. It's just empty space. And they made the fact that there are large areas of "nothing" inside the chocolate in to it's selling feature. They could have just sold solid chocolate, but apparently that is too mundane for the educated consumers these days. No, chocolate has to have some "air" in it!


The perfect something

Wouldn't it be great if everything was perfect(* ? Well, since we can't have everything, how about something at least? Luckily I just found that something: The perfect sitcom! This is one of the good things that came out of the IT-conference in Copenhagen. Apparently the show is all the rage in The Firm IT, with people quoting the show all the time. I have now seen four episodes (of the measly six, but more are luckily on the way), and it's just drop-dead hilarious.

The show is.... The IT Crowd. The moment I saw the first episode, and I noticed the picture of The Flying Spaghetti Monster on the wall, I knew I had struck gold. Made by the same people who gave us Father Ted, Black Books and The Office, the show has the recipe for success.

OK, there might be a one problem here... The show revolves around an IT-department. The jokes are often IT-related, the dialogue is full of inside-jokes (All you non-geeks: hands up all of you who got the goat-joke!), and lot of the fine details in the set (and there's A LOT of them!) will go unappreciated by the non-IT folks. So it might be that the audience at large might just view it as a just another average sitcom. But to the IT-departments around the world, the show is just what the doctor ordered.

Get in touch with your inner geek: Watch "The IT Crowd".

* = Well, if everything was perfect, we wouldn't appreaciate them, and life would get pretty birong pretty fast.


Next weekend Helsinki will be hosting the Asia-Europe Meeting. And since it's such a high-caliber meeting, security is going to be tight. Add to that the fact that they are expecting that there will be thousands of protestors protesting about "something". So the security is going to be even tighter. Add to THAT the fact that next monday is the fifth anniversary of the 9/11-attacks, and things start to get really interesting.

So it seems that Helsinki will be crawling with police. Airspace above Helsinki will be denied for traffic, apart from law-enforcement helicopters that will be everywhere. And apparently the military has been asked to provide assistance as well. Their job is to shoot down any plane that has been hijacked or otherwise seems to pose a threat. Jesus.

Luckily I wont be working during the meeting, so I can just get some R&R. If I were at work, I would right in downtown Helsinki, right in the middle of those protestors (and planes falling from the sky, apparently).

Finnish 101

My co-worker taught this piece of conversation to our colleague in Sweden:

"Kokoa kokoon kokko!"
"Koko kokkoko?"
"Koko kokko!"

Yes, it actually does makes sense in Finnish...

Back home

OK, the conference in Copenhagen is over, and I'm back in one piece. It wasn't THAT bad. Professionally it was very interesting and productive, and the non-work stuff was OK as well. Still, I'm pretty damn exhausted. Hopefully, I should be having an extra-long weekend next week.

Still, it was good to see my colleagues from other offices, although I do quite often feel like an odd man out. They speak Swedish with each other, and they usually default to Swedish when talking. And I don't speak Swedish. At all. So I have bunch of people having a lively conversation around me, and I have no idea what they are saying. Every time we get together they do ask me "so, how much Swedish do you know?", and then they proceed to speak Swedish to each other. No, I don't think that they do it on purpose, it's just very easy for them, since Danish and Norwegian are basically Swedish with a twist. So you have about 10 people from Sweden, Norway and Denmark, and two from Finland. And one of the Finns is a native Swedish-speaker. So it's natural that they speak Swedish. Still, it can be quite annoying, and it does make me feel that I don't belong there. I don't think that I can ever reach the same level of bonding that they have with each other, since they can speak with each other a lot more easily, whereas speaking with me requires an extra effort on their part.

Anyway, like I said, the event was professionally very productive. It seem that about two years down the road there are some VERY interesting projects coming up in the Firm. Projects that I would just LOVE to be part of. I talked with one of the experts that flew over to talk about them, and he said that one of the problems they have is that the Firm doesn't really have that much expertise on those areas. To which I replied: "Well, I do". Ka-ching! With little luck, my job could get VERY interesting few years down the road!

As to the non-work-stuff.... I think I quadrupled my lifetime beer-consumtpion during the trip! I don't usually drink beer, but we went for a dinner in this restaurant which is famous for it's beers. And they served beer with the food. Lots of beer. I thought that maybe it's time to give it a shot, and I did.

"Do I look like a fucking people-person?!"

I just got back from vacation, and I already feel that I need to do something else than work. ANYTHING. I just checked my draft timesheet. Normally every two-week period has about 80+ hours in it. Right now it looks like mine has 117 hours. And that's the minimium number, it might go up by few hours.

So I have been working long days, and long weeks. But 117 hours is still doable. It's the type of work that is starting to show it's toll. Take today for example. This day has been constant work and running around. People call me every five minutes. If I go see someone who is having some problems, I'm stopped by about three additional people with more problems problems. When I'm finished with those, Even more people come talk to me about their problem. When I get back to my desk, my phone is ringing with even more people having problems. And in the middle of this, I need to re-image a laptop for one user, and train a new employee to our system. All while more and more people come talk about their problems.

Well, I have the weekend to look forward to? Well, not quite. Next weekend is our IT-conference in Copenhagen. All though the weekend. There's some work, but mostly it's "fun". So it's not that bad right? Well, in a way it is. I value my free time. I really do. If I have to go to Copenhagen for entire weekend for work-related "fun", then that's not really my free time, now is it? It's someone's idea of "fun", and it might even be fun, but it's NOT free time. And it also means that I need to sit in a plane for hours. And we all know how much fun flying is, right?

So it might be that my real "free time" will be almost two weeks away. Between this point in time, and my free time in the future, is work, work and more work. I could take the work, if I had free time coming up. But I don't. All I have in front of me is work. I could work long days if I knew that I had free time just around the corner. But when all you see in front of you is an ocean of work...

I do know that there are lots of people in the office who really appreciate what I'm doing for them, so it's not as bad as it could be. I could be working my ass off, and not receive any recognition for my work. Luckily that is not the case. But there comes the time when too much is simply too much.

Am I a bad employee for feeling like this? My boss does even more work right now, and while he does complain, he does do it. But he's doing a kind of work that he feels passionately about. I don't have that passion about my work. I love IT, but there are many kinds of IT. I'm good at what I do. But I wish I could do something else.

I'm not the person I have claimed to be...

We all have secrets that we might want to keep to ourselves (after all, they are secrets). I have such a secret as well.

I actually like Manowar.

Yes, the music is silly. The lyrics are megalomanic and.... silly. It's not intelligent music by any stretch of the imagination. What it does have is that primal energy which appeals to the "The Man inside the man" (yes, it's masculine music, both in good and in bad). It's energetic and the band really knows how to play their instruments. So it's not THAT bad in the end. We have zillion people listening dime-a-dozen pop (Paris Hilton?!?!). My excuse is that Manowar is still a niche music.

I finally did it...

I just became a paying customer of the iTunes Music Store. I bought "Private Intentions" and "Road" by Don Johnson Big Band.

"How does it feel?! How does it feel to be part of the mob?!". Prerry good actually.

According to news....

35% of Finns do not believe in evolution.


Russia: Love it or leave it!

Every country has it's bane. And it seems that one of the banes Finland has to endure, is Russia.

I could go on about history, and mention the various times they tried (sometimes successfully, sometimes not) screw us over. But why do that when there are more recent events to use as an example?

Russia, it seems, is having a slight problem with forest fires. And since they are right across the border, the smoke drifts to Finland. And it's not just the border-areas that are affected, the smoke has reached western Finland as well! So we are not talking about slight amount of smoke here! Helsinki is covered with haze and you can really smell the smoke. People with asthma are suffering, and people are not feeling well.

As soon as this became a problem, I knew exactly how this will proceed. And so far, Russia has not disappointed me. What we have here is a cycle of excuses. It goes like this:

1. "The forest-fires? They are about to be put out". AKA "we are handling it"
2. "The forest-fires will be put out later this week" . AKA "We'll do it ASAP"
3. "We are trying to put out the forest-fires, but the forests are filled with mines and unexploded artillery-shells from the war, and it's causing
us some delays". AKA "We are doing our best, but because of reasons unrelated to us, we are having some problems"

And then then big one:

4. "It's not our fault that the forests are burning! The ones to blame for this are those Finnish tourists who keep or burning down the forests!".

I shit you not. Those are real comments made by Russian authorities. They are not to blame, the blame always lies somewhere else. And this is not the first time they have done this. Last year Finnish government contacted Russian authorities and expressed concern regarding the mistreatment of the Mari-people, who are related to Finns. What did major, government-owned newspaper report of the incident? "The Mari-people are not being mistreated. Rather, what we have here is a plan, where Finland, Estonia and Hungary are planning to create a greater-Finland, and the Mari Republic would be a part of that country".

Really, you can't make this stuff up!

I for one find it quite disturbing that authorities and newspapers that are connected to the Kreml are spreading such a misinformation. And quite a many Russians will believe them, since they will not hear the opposing viewpoint. So according to Russian authorities, Finland is an imperialistic country, that sends people across the border to burn down Russia. Afterwards, Finland will simply annex the western half of they country.


Overtime sucks. There, I said it.

We are in a middle of a major project at work, and that means overtime. Combine that with the post-vacation backlog of work, and you get more overtime. Add to that, a server that broke down in an explosion (don't ask....), and you get even more overtime.

Normal working-day is 8 hours. This week I have usually worked 10 hours a day. Yesterday (friday of all days!) was a straight 14 hours! And the work I was doing was boring beyond belief (calling about 200 (I'm not kidding!) different phone-numbers around the world). And today (saturday) I'm again at work!


Yesterday, I got an email from a headhunter. I have no idea how they got my email-address, but there it was. No, it was not spam as such, it was addressed to me personally, with request that I give them a call. Whoa, I'm not looking for work, the work is looking for me!

"You could spend hours doing this stuff!"

Here's a tip for those dreary days when you have nothing to do. HAve you noticed how digital cameras give those generic names to pictures (for example: DSC02641.JPG). They do follow a pattern (I believe the letters are based on the maker of the camera, whereas the number increase sequentally when you take pics). You can use those names for hours of fun!

Take a look at some of the digicam-pictures in your collection. Make sure it has that generic name (IOW: you haven't renamed it). Copy/Paste that name in to Google, and search for images. It's funny what kind of pics you can find that way.

When life gives you lemons... it fucking throws them straight at your face!

Yesterday was the last day of my summer-vacation. Which means that today is my first workday in four weeks. Which is a bummer. Mrs. and I were heading back home yesterday from the "countryside". We decided to split our trip back home to two days so "we don't have to spend the last day of our vacation sitting in a car" (to quote The Matrix: "Fate, it seems, is not without a sense of irony"). So we drove few hours in saturday, and few hours on sunday.

At least, that was the plan.

As we were cruising along the freeway at nice 130km/h, something happened. At first, we felt a kinda of jolt. We both noticed it, and I instinctively reduced the speed to about 110-120km/h. I thought that it might be the wind that caused it. Nothing else seemed to happen, so we just drove on. About 1-2 minutes later, this horrible screeching noise fills the car. It sounds like the car is screaming in agony. Whoops, signal to the right, reduce speed, drive to the embankment, stop the car, and turn on the emergency signal. As the car stops, this horrible smell of burning fills the car. Not good, not good at all. I always thought that things like this happens to "someone else, but not me".

Anyway, I'm a card-carrying member of Automobile and Touring Club of Finland, and I called their helpline. After a bit of juggling around, I'm patched through to a nearby "road-service dude". He's currently busy with other project, but he does give me technical advice. I can turn on the engine without any problems, and clutch seems to work. I can even put in a gear, but if I try to drive, it seems like it's trying to move (the revs drop, as I release the clutch), but the car simply wont move. Then I notice that I can't put the gear back on neutral. After a bit of struggling I manage to do it, so I can put it on reverse and take out the keys from the ignition (in Saabs, you need to put the gear on reverse in order to take out the keys). No idea yet what the root-problem is, but the car is not moving anywhere.

I also did the traditional "pop the hood, and take a look inside", even though I knew that I have no idea how to fix engines, let alone spot any signs of trouble. I guess that's just one of those things you are supposed to do when your car breaks down.

During this, the Mrs. had called her father, and he was on his way to pick us up. we were about 140km from home at that point. And the road-service dude (who also had a towing-company) agreed to pick up the car during that day, all we had to do is to deliver the keys to him, and he would handle the rest. He did pick up the car, at around midnight. If he had wanted to, he could have just gone home to sleep, but he promised us that he will pick up the car, and he did. All in all, we sat in the car for about two hours, before being picked up by the father-in-law.

This morning I called the road-service dude and asked about the car. The verdict: The gearbox is totally destroyed. It took him quite a bit of time and effort to "collect" the car, since the front wheels would not move an inch: the gearbox was totally fused. Crap.

Well, as bad as this thing is, there are good things to mention here as well: Thanks to my father-in-law, we managed to get back home in a reasonable time. The service from the Touring Club was outstanding, easily worth the 45e I pay every year (they do help non-members as well, but I feel that this is a service worth paying for). And last but not least: the "road service dude" went above and beyond the call of duty in order to help us. Not only did he collect our car in the middle of the night, he's also replacing the engine and the gearbox (it's easier to replace them both, than just the gearbox) for a very reasonable sum. And the "new" engine has 100.000 kilometer less on it than our current engine. I'll make sure to recommend his services to everyone I know, he provided us with outstanding service! My father-in-law was also so impressed, that he's going to join the Touring Club as well.

"Bambing away"

Recent discussion I had with the Mrs.:

Mrs.: "Bambi 2? They made a sequel to Bambi? What is it about, Bambi has children?"

Me: "You got that right. I saw the whole ad on TV. There was Bambi, and then there was a Mrs. Bambi, and they were bambing away. Then they showed a bunch of little bambi's running around"

Mrs.: "They did not!"

Me: "Yes they did! I couldn't believe it myself when I saw it. But there they were: bambing away. They actually used real live deer for that scene, instead of animated deers."

In related news: back home

Yep, me and Mrs. got back home from Budapest. Trip was great, people were friendly (Hungarians love Finns), weather was nice most of the time, although it was pretty darn hot. Bought myself some genuine Hungarian salami, and 5x5x5 Rubik's Cube ("Professor's Cube". haven't seen those in Finland). Apparently the inventor of Rubik's Cube (Ernö Rubik) was Hungarian (thank you Wikipedia), which explains why there were Rubik's Cubes everywhere in Budapest.

Other in thing in Hungary seems to be Spongebob Squarepants. Don't know why.

I also had the "Official Weird Moment of The Vacation"-moment. We were visiting the "Museum of Fine Arts". I decided to take advantage of the "facilities" there. As I was entering the bathroom, I swear to god, I saw Ron Jeremy stepping outside! Not that I have seen any of his "works", but he has that sort of face that is very recognizable.

Anyway, we have now been back home for about 4 hours, which has been spent resting. Vacationing can be pretty darn exhausting!

...through my silent devotion...

I have been thinking about doing some creative writing. Back in high-school and before, I found writing to be very enjoyable indeed, and I used to ace the Finnish-classes when we were supposed to write essays, short-stories and the like. Whereas others submitted stories that were few pages long (the standard length), mine were usually 6-12 pages long, and I got good grades for them. But as time progressed, I stopped doing it. I didn't really write stories on my free time as such, and when my studies didn't require them, I didn't write them. But nevertheless, I did enjoy writing them.

So I have been thinking about getting back to that particular interest of mine. I have been juggling few ideas around for some time now, and the main problem has been to figure out a good story on those ideas. I could create a short-story from either of them, but I feel that they need something bigger to really flesh out the idea. But who knows, maybe keeping them short 'n sweet is the way to go.

Of course there are lots of people who say "I'm going to be a writer", and most of them never write a thing. And I'm not having any world conquering plans on this thing. I'm just interested to see that do I still enjoy it, do I have anything worthwhile to contribute and that can I actually do it. We'll see.


Mrs. and I were planning to take a short trip (2-3 nights) somewhere close. Our initial plan was to go to Riga. But there didn't seem to be suitable trips available. So we broadened our search a bit, and included places like Budapest and Prague in to the mix. And sure enough, we started to find suitable trips. But then we noticed few things:

a) Prague costs quite a bit more than Budapest does
b) Pricewise, there's no real difference between 2-3 night trip, as opposed to full week.

That settled it: Next week, on thursday, we will be flying over to Budapest for a full week :). We will also be going to Pécs for a day during our trip.

A free day of a bachelor

I had one of my "free days" today. Meaning that the Mrs. was somewhere else, and I could live like in the "good ol' days". Now, maybe I'm getting old or something but my free days are pretty lame these days. Or maybe they were always lame, but I just didn't know it?

Normally I might have a pizza delivired right to my doorstep. I might watch a movie or two, and/or I might play some games. I might also go and test-drive some cars in car-dealerships. Pretty tame. Mrs. Actually told of my "bachelor-activities" to her co-worker, and she (the co-worker) started to laugh.

Today, it got even tamer. First of all: no pizza. I watched two movies. First one was "THX-1138", Directors Cut, and it didn't fail me. Second was "Collateral". I bought that one because I haven't yet ran across a movie by Michael Mann that I didn't like, and Collateral was no exception. After the movies, I ate and watched a taped episode of Sherlock Holmes (the series with Jeremy Brett as Holmes). After that I.... Fell asleep. I slept maybe close to two hours straight on the couch. For some reason, I was just so damn exhausted. Maybe my vacation is starting to kick in?


Finally, work is over, and I can officially start my summer-vacation :)! Four weeks of R&R (*! Maybe I can finally catch up on my emails....

*) = As I typed that, I just remembered that I forgot to submit my last timesheets.... D'oH! Luckily I took my laptop with me, so I can do it remotely :)

"I find you annoying!"

Is it normal to dislike someone for no particular reason? That person might not have done anything wrong to you, he might not even know you, but for some strage reason, he just rubs you the wrong way.

I have such a person in my life:

That's right, Paul McCartney! I don't know why, but there is something in the guy that annoys me. I have no idea what it is, but something in him makes me... irritated.

Is there something specific that Mr. McCarthey has done to deserve this? Well, not that I can recall. Yes, I find his music to be quite mediocre (no, that does not include The Beatles, just his post-Beatles "career"), but that's not enough of a reason to dislike someone. The world is full of mediocre artists. So what is it? No idea. It is a mystery.

Mr. McCartney: Pray that our paths shall never cross, for I might glance at you in a non-approving manner!

Validate your existence. By driving!

I love driving. I love getting in to a car, and going to different places. Not only because I love cars and the excitement (no, I don't race on public roads) I get from driving. I also love the interaction between the drivers on the road.

Think about it. You could walk down the street without paying any attention to the people around you. And they can do the same. Sure, you might need to avoid hitting others now and then, but you can do that without really thinking about it. In the end, you might not exist at all, as far as the other people are concerned.

Driving is not like that. You need to pay attention to your surroundings all the time. And the others need to do the same. You need to look out for cars that have the right of way, and you actually have to consciously avoid hitting them. And they have to do the same thing. I like how other drivers notice me, and give me way (if I have the right of way), because when they do that, they not only look at me, but they actually acknowledge my existence. They can't ignore me, because if they do, bad things might happen.

You simply do not get that kind of interaction by walking. You can freely ignore others, and they can ignore you. At worst, you will bumb in to someone. And when that happens, you just half-heartedly say "sry...." and move on. When you are driving, and you "bumb" in to something, things usually become a bit more complicated than that. So pay attention!

Feeling lonely? Having that feeling that you might as well not exist at all? Jump in to a car, and go for a drive!

The art in technology (AKA: "I love Apple!")

I have been looking at replacement computers recently. And the thing that has caught my attention is the PowerMac. No, I'm not going to get one right now, since I don't have the money, and because they are about to be upgraded in August. But I have been LOOKING at them.

OK, this applies to just about all Apple-hardware, but I think PowerMac epitomes it: The art in technology. Yesterday I studied one at a local Apple-retailer. That thing in GORGEROUS. Notice the grill in front? You can just barely see (see, but not hear) the fans spinning inside. It kinda reminds me of turbines in a power-plant or something. Of course you can remove the side-door, so you can actually look inside the computer. It's like a display-window saying "just look at all this technology. All that you see is at your disposal". Yes, PC's have those side-doors as well. But the difference here is that PC's have extravagant LED's and clutter of wires. PowerMac has none of that. No wires. Seriously! I did not see any wires anywhere. And no cheap LED's. Yes, I mentioned in the past that I like LED's, and I do. But there is a time and place for them. And this is not one of them.

Besides wires, you can't really see any components on the motherboard either. All you see is the traces along the board. A work of art in itself.

Then there's the iMac and the Apple Displays. Both of those are basically quite large displays (iMac being a computer built in to the display). Now, I have handled "normal" displays before. And if I try to adjust the screen (tilt in up and down for example), I usually need two hands to do it. The hinge on the screen is usually too stiff. Compare to Apple: On their displays and on the iMac, the hinge is stiff enough to hold the screen in place, but not one bit stiffer. That way you can adjust the screen easily, light touch is all that is needed. Pure elegance. I tried that with their frigging 30" display, and I could still adjust it with just two fingers. Compare to this hp 1730 I have in front of me: I need to grap the screen with two hands. And even though the hinge is stiff, it's still "loose" (that is, the screen moves around by few centimeters without actually adjusting it position). That simply does not exist in Apple-displays.

And still, even with their superior design, Apple-hardware is not THAT expensive. Laptops for example are quite competetive pricewise, as is the iMac. Displays cost a bit extra when compared to equivalent Dell-displays, but the difference is not outrageous. PowerMacs are a bit expensive right now, but they are about to be upgraded.

So why on Earth are people buying inferior hardware? So they could save few bucks? I don't know about you, but I would much rather pay few bucks extra, if that means that I get hardware that is pure joy to use. And in case of Apple, I quite often do NOT have to pay any extra.

So it is decided: My future hardware will be Apple-hardware. I'm just sick and tired of the mediocre design that exists elsewhere.

It's alive!

I managed to resurrect my computer! Apparently the power-supply was failing, since replacing it fixed all the issues. I replaced that wussy 350w power-supply with a 500w behemoth. And after I plugged it in, I noticed that it even has blue LED's! Blue is good, LED's are good, so blue LED's must be twice as good? Damn right they are!

OK, I don't REALLY care that much for the LED's, but still.

EDIT: No, dammit! The screen is still flashing! Not as much as before, but the problem has NOT gone away!

"You will wake up DEAD!"

I'm on the verge of adding "Shaun of the Dead" to my DVD-collection. I haven't seen it, but I know that I'm going to like it. But I also know that the Mrs. is NOT going to like it. She feels that I'm already buying too many "stupid" movies as it is. She didn't like "Memento", She found "Bubba Ho-Tep" to be idiotic (as did her father. Barbarians...) and I haven't even tried to make her watch "Donnie Darko"... But, with little luck, I will be all by myself next weekend, so I will have an excellent opportunity to get some pizza and watch my "idiotic" movies.

I'm slowly working through my list of "DVD's to buy!". Items of high importance that are still left un-purchased include:

Star Trek in all forms
Red Dwarf (Haven't seen it, but I KNOW that I'm going to like it)
Wooster & Jeeves 3rd season

So many DVD's, so little money (and shelve-space!)...

Time for new computer....

Windows 2000 started acting up (those damn viruses....), so I had to re-install. Well, needless to say that something went wrong, and my computer as a whole is acting up. Before I just had to contend with virus-ridden Windows. And now EVERYTHING is acting up, including my Linux-install. So there's obviously something wrong with the hardware itself.

Note: This also explains my laziness in emailing. It's not nice to use the computer when the screen is flashing and the machine locks up on occasion.

My primary suspect is the motherboard. But replacing it is tricky. I mean, if I replace it, but the fault is somewhere else, I have just wasted money on a motherboard that is practically useless. So I might as well replace the entire machine.

Now, this was not planned or anything. My current machine is almost exactly two years old. And I was planning to use it for at least one more year, possibly two. My previous machine-purchase was not ideal. I needed a computer, and while I did plan the purchase carefully and bought quality-components, I bought it just when they were about to release some new and exciting stsuff. And it's no different today. New and exciting stuff is being released in a bit over one month. And those releases are accompanied by nice price-cuts as well. So I need to last for about one month, and then I can buy the new machine. It would be very easy for me to buy new machine right away, but I know that if I did that, I would be kicking myself one month later.

So I need to wait for over a month. A reward is a computer that is about four to ten times as fast as my current computer :). And besides being faster, it will hopefully be more quiet as well.

"Are you smiling at me?"

One of the trainees at work seems to smile at me a bit too much for comfort. Is she flirting with me? Yesterday as I was fixing her computer she became so excited that she almost choked on her gum (literally!). I have noticed that she has glanced at my engagement-ring (in Finland, men don't have separate wedding-rings, they just use the engagement-ring) on few occasions as well.

I know that I'm a dashing young man, and it's always nice to get attention from attractive women (instead of getting "attention" from a girl with a mohawk and from one woman that seemed to have spent last five years of her life drunk... I think I said too much already), it can be quite... uncomfortable. I don't really know how I should act with her (as you can see, I'm not very good at this flirting-thingy). Maybe I should just run away whenever I see her? Go sit in a corner and assume fetal-position?

Yes, I AM married, dammit! And I intend to remain so!

Movement in C minor

That's C as in "Career".

Some time ago I had my annual performance review at work. Besides telling how I have been doing at my work (I'm doing fine, no problems there), we also talk about what's going to happen in the future. And while there are nothing that major going on, there are some "minor" things. And I'm not sure that do I like them.

Sure, the changes might include a pay-rise (more than the standard raise that is). Or it might not. I'm not sure yet. And while the money is nice, I'm not sure that would it be enough to compensate for the change.

What is this change? Well, it seems that I will be taking over some "management"-duties. In other words: paper-pushing.

I'm a techie. I enjoy solving technical problems. And I enjoy working with technology. And while I would continue to do that, I would also be handling red-tape. Shuffling papers around, going through invoices, signing contracts...

Yes, it would be a nice addition to my CV and it would be a nice opportunity for me to grow as a person and an employee. But does that mean that I should like it?

Rationally, I should be very excited by this opportunity. More pay (maybe), more skills, more responsibility. But deep down I'm not that enthusiastic.

Those crazy Finns....

Finland is weird. Some time ago I told of Star Wreck: In the Pirkinning. An epic scifi-movie made by amateurs. The project took about 7 years to finish. Next, we had Lordi: A glam-rock band that went and won the Eurovision Song Contest by a wide margin. Could this get any weirder?

Why, yes it can! There's a bunch of Finns who are making a hi-caliber movie! I mean the kind of movie that could be watched in the big screen all over the world. That's basically unheard of in on itself! And its not just any kind of movie. It's an.... uh... epical kung fu movie. Yes, you read that right. The story apparently ties Finnish Mythology (The Kalevala) to Chinese Mythology, and delivers the combination with fistfull of kung fu. Come again?

I mean, think about it: Kalevala is not know for kung fu. Finns are not known for kung fu. Chinese ARE known for kung fu, but they don't have much to do with Finland or Kalevala. And yet, we have bunch of Finns shooting a kung gu movie in China, with Chinese and Finnish actors.

I'm serious, you can't make this stuff up!

Say hello to the PLOW KING!

Last week I ordered a Nokia 770. It was delivered yesterday. And it absolutely kicks ass! Small device that has great web-browser, email, installable apps (word-processor, games, tools etc. etc.), great screen, Google Talk-client (in the next release of the OS) etc. etc. I have now used it for one day, and I'm already formulating a plan for the future uses of the device.

Besides the obvious (email, internet), I'm planning to use it as a mobile "reader". That is, I can use it to read PDF's and other documents while on the go. Documentation, articles, books... You name it.

Movies? Why not? Just transcode the movies in appropriate resolution, and get a big memory-card. Music? same thing (although I usually have my iPod with me). As an added bonus, the 770 is a great webradio-client, and you could stream your music through it if it's somewhere on the network.

Google Talk and IM. This is perfectly doable, assuming that the net-connection is there.

There are already tools that can tie the device to GPS-receiver, and display your location on a map (Google Maps for example). I don't have GPS, but 770 would still be a great Google Maps-client. And the software in question supports Google Maps automatically.

This is still missing, but... A Wikipedia-client. I know, Wikipedia is a website, and the "client" is commonly known as "web-browser". But it would be cool if there was an simple way to search for articles in Wikipedia without using a separate web-browser for it. Combine Wikipedia with Google Maps, you will never be lost, and you can actually learn something of the strange city you are in. All with one little device!

Games? I already installed NetHack on it ;).

Laptop. I'm planning of getting a Bluetooth-keyboard to go with the 770. At that point it would be a viable replacement for a laptop, since I could do things like word-processing on it.

The Nokia 770: The little device that could. It cost me 370€, but that's money well spent!


I went shopping for movies last week. The first thing I picked up was "Spirited Away". It was on sale, so it was a no-brainer. After I had picked that up, I saw something that caught my attention: "Innocence" by Lucile Hadzihalilovic. the cover of the movie was full of snippets from praising reviews. I haven't heard of it before, but it seemed interesting. So I decided to risk it, and bought it. Yesterday me and the Mrs. watched it.

First things first: The Mrs. didn't like it. It was "too weird" and "boring". And I can understand why she feels like that. But there is something in the movie....

I'm not going to spoil the movie, so I'll just provide a general idea of the movie: It tells of a group of about 8-12 old girls who live in a strange boarding-school. New girls arrive to the school in coffins via underground tunnel. There's no apparent exit from the school, apart from those tunnels. Every year new girls arrive at the school (in coffins), and the elder girls leave the school to go "outside".

The girls live in five separate houses. Apparently the ages of the girls are one year apart from each other. Every day at 9pm the eldest girl of the group leaves to go somewhere, but she's always back before morning. During the day, the girls play and study dancing and biology. They can't leave the grounds of the boarding-school. They can't see their families.

Sounds simple enough? Not really. We are never told what's really going on. We are presented with questions, but we are never given any answers. Everything is open for intrepetation, and there are lots of details to intrepet. In a way, the movie presents a series of events to the viewer, and encourages the viewer to draw their own conclusions.

The movie is very beautiful. There's scene after scene of beautiful cinematography, and the movie lingers on those scenes, allowing the viewer to really take it all in. The dialogue is quite minimal, the viewer is encouraged to watch, instead of listen.

Is it a good movie? Well, that's hard to say. I can see why someone might feel disappointed. The movie is very atypical. It doesn't explain anything, it doesn't give answers to anything. After watching the movie, the viewer is left thinking "what the hell just happened? What's going on? What does it all mean?". While some people might feel disappointed, since we are grown accustomed to Hollywood-movies that are so obvious that the viewer doesn't have to think at all, there are those who can really appreciate this movie. I noticed that after the movie I spent quite a bit of time thinking about what I just saw. And by "thinking" I don't mean "whoa, those special effects were cool!", but rather "what does it mean?". It's quite rare to see a movie like this these days.

If you want brainless entertainment, steer clear of this movie. If you want an "easy" movie, steer clear of this movie. If you want a movie that challenges you to think and draw your own conclusions, this is the movie for you.

Holy crap!

Finland just won the Eurovision song-contest. With record-breaking points apparently.



The Doctor recommended this, so I'll have a shot:

Four jobs I have had in my life:

1. A "jack-of-all-trades" for the county of Ilmajoki
2. Computer-assembler
3. IT-support specialist
4. IT-professional

Four movies I would have watched over and over:

1. The Shawshank Redemption
2. BladeRunner
3. Le Fabuleux destin d'Amélie Poulain
4. Matrix

Four places I have lived:

1. Koskenkorva
2. Helsinki Metropolitan Area
3. Kerava
4. Järvenpää

Four TV shows I love to watch:

1. Star Trek: The Next Generation
2. Lost
3. Babylon 5
4. Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

Did I mention I'm a nerd?

Four places I have been on vacation:

1. Sweden
2. Mallorca, Spain
3. Estonia
4. Ummmm, Finland?

Four websites I visit almost daily:

1. arstechnica.com
2. slashdot.org
3. theinquirer.net
4. www.hs.fi

Four of my favourite foods:

1. Pizza (in all shapes and sizes)
2. BBQ
3. "Chinese"
4. Lasagna

Predictable? yes.

Four things I want to do before the end of the year:

1. I would like to learn a new skill
2. I would like to repay my student-loan in full
3. I would like to get a new and interesting job
4. I would like to buy a new car (like I wanted to do last year, and year before that....)

It's not racism, dammit!

OK, this thing is one of my pet-peeves: people not knowing what "racism" means. First things first: what IS racism? Racism is discrimination based on race and/or ethnic background of the individual. And racism is bad, mmmmkay?

Simple enough, yes? I think so. And we still have people calling some things "racism" that clearly are not. An example. So Googles "Summer of Code" is off-limits to citizens of Iran, North-Korea and other countries that US Administration thinks is "supporting terrorism". Roozbeh then asks " Please tell me how this is not racism?" (I would, but there's no way to comment on your blog-entries Roozbeh!). Simple: the discrimination is not happening because of race or ethnic background, it's based on nationality. South-Koreans can take part in SoC, yet they are of same race as their brothers north of the border are, who can not take part. Iranians are not discriminated because of their race or ethnic background, they are discriminated because of their governments (true or perceived) policies.

Now, feel free to disagree with the policy of Google (which IIRC is mandated by the government). But DON'T start calling it "racism"!

This is a rather mild example of this "neo-speak". Quite often I see people who live "alternative" lifestyle (vegans, hip-hoppers etc.) talk about "racism" when they are subjected to prejudice because of their lifestyle. Prejudices are bad (yet we all have them them, in one way or the other), and racism is a form of prejudice. But not all prejudices are racism! And that fact seems to be beyond the grasp of many people!

Hey white boy! Just because your white roommate said some nasty comments about your taste of music does not mean that you were subjected to "racist taunts"! Racism is a serious problem, and I get annoyed when people dilute the term by calling all prejudices "racism". Just because someone dislikes some type of music, does not mean that the person is a "racist".

So get your terminology straight, dammit! End rant.


Järvenpää, Southern Finland. May 1st, 9.15pm

Lordi revisited

Damn, they even made in to The New York Times!

"Radioactive, but otherwise healthy"

For some reason, I found that quote amusing. Found here.

A week?!?!?!?

"Hello, it's xxxxxx from Sony. We were supposed to pick up your television?"

"Hello. Yes, great! When are you coming to pick it up?"

"How does tomorrow morning between 8.30 and 9.30 sound?"

"Um, OK. But if you pick it up tomorrow, then I wont get it back by weekend?"

"Propably not. On average it takes about a week to repair the television. Unless we have to order some spare-parts. And we do have quite a bit of backlog here"

"A week?!?!"

"Yep. So, the tomorrow is OK then? I trust that you will help me carry the television to the car?"

"Yeah, I guess so"

Damn you Sony!

I want my passive entertainment!

It's been close to one week without television, and tensions are running high...

Last week (right before long Easter weekend! Sheesh!) on thursday-morning it happened. I was brushing my teeth and watched the news to TV (have to be prepared for yet another workday). Suddenly I hear this loud "click" from the television and the screen goes blank. Uh oh.... Then the power-indicator starts to flash. Oooops. I run to the TV and turn in on from the master-switch. It turns off. I then try to turn it back on. And it does. But there's no picture nor sound. And the power-light just flashes.

I grab the manual and see the list of problems I could have with the television.... A-ha, success! "Problem: There is no picture or sound. The power-indicator is flashing". yep, that's what I have. "To fix the problem:" Yes, give it to me baby! "...Contact Sony customer-service". Nooooooooooo! It's thursday-morning right before Easter. There's no way they could fix the problem on the same day, so I'm looking at long weekend with no television. And on thursdays they show "Lost"! Dammit! On friday they show "Battlestar Galactica"! Crap! On saturday we have "William and Mary" (favourite of the Mrs.)! Now the shit really hits the fan... The only good thing here is that the TV is still under warranty. I bought it in 2002, but I got extended 5-year warranty for it for free.

So I call Sony later that day... And this man with lower-than-average customer-service attitude takes my call. After describing the problem he asks me "could you take the television to service by yourself?" Yeah, sure. It's a huge 32-inch tube that weights maybe 60 kilos, and it has no handles that could be used to carry it. I'll get right on it sir! NOT. So then I'm told "Well, our guy will come by your place on tuesday to pick it up". I ask about the specific time, since I obviously have to be there when he picks up the TV, and it takes me about 1 hour to get from the workplace back home. "Well, he will call you and you can talk about it between you two". Thanks for nothing. Why do I get the feeling that he will call me and say "I'll be at your place in 20 minutes to pick up the TV"?

On tuesday I wait for the call, ready to leave the work at moments notice. No call. At 14.00 I call Sony again. "Well, you see the guy who was supposed to pick up your TV injured his hand during the weekend. He'll be back at work at wednesday". What was he doing? Masturbating furiously all through the easter untill his hand broke down? When I ask that will the TV be repaired before weekend, I get another non-reply: "well, you see the guy who actually fixes the televisions is coming back from his vacation on wednesday as well, and he'll start fixing televisions right away. He might have some backlog though". Thanks, I feel so much better already. Does Sony REALLY have just one employee who picks up faulty equipment, and one employee who fixes it? Come on Sony!

So I will most certainly lose two "Lost" episodes in a row. And I might also lose two "Galactica"-episodes as well (if I'm really lucky I might get the TV before weekend).

If this keeps up, I might end up being like this guy.

Yeah, it's a Sony-television, and Sony is evil. But back when I bought it, they weren't quite as evil as they are today.

The Retarder

We all need a bit of mystery in our lives. And in my case, it's this strange switch in the dashboard of the bus I quite often use for my trip back home from work. The switch is labeled "Retarder" (yes, in English). It's a lot bigger than the other switches on the dashboard. And not only is it bigger, it also has this yellowish indicator next to it. The other switches have these puny indicators attached to them, but The Retarder has a big indicator. Clearly, The Retarder is the King of Switches.

I have often studied that switch from the distance and wondered what it does. Is it some kind of futuristic tool designed to be used against troublemaking passengers? "If you don't behave yourselves, I'm going to Retard you!".

Never mess with the bus-drivers.


Easter is here. They actually had mämmi for dessert at the cafeteria today.

Loose ends

Howls Moving Castle

Finally saw this one. And to my HUGE surprise, it was the Mrs. who bought it on DVD! She buys very few DVD's overall, and I was under the impressions that "Moving Castle" was not on the top of her list, even though her sister had been recommending it. She bought the special deal, which had the DVD and the novel all in one package.

Anyway, the movie kicked ass! Not only are Miyazakis animations the best there is right now, they are also among the best _movies_ there is.

The Office

Speaking of DVD's.... I saw Season 1 and 2 of "The Office" available for 6.95e a piece! Whoa, I'll be picking those up later today! Still on my "to-buy"-list: "Office Space". Maybe I have a fetish for dysfuntional businesses...

Mac for sale!

OK, I decided to sell my Mac. A Mac Mini to be precise. I noticed that

a) Everything I do with the Mac (manage my iPod, manage my camera, manage my photos), I can do on Linux as well.

b) As a concequence (I'm not even going to pretend to know how to spell that right) of a), I haven't used the Mac that much recently.

c) Even the Mrs. seems to use Linux without any problems. She had some issues with the Mac, but she hasn't had any issues with my Linux-machine. Could it be that... Linux is easier to use than a Mac???

d) I need the money to buy some other gizmos (I hate consumerism, but I love technological gizmos (and movies). It's a vicious circle....). Currently on my shopping-cart: Nokia 770 and various components for personal server. Well, I can put that stuff on my taxes, so it's not that bad.

Anyway, I'm selling the Mac. And I'm propably selling the external hard-drive as well. A shame really, since I absolutely LOVE the hardware. I could run Linux on it, but it wouldn't work optimally, because of the PowerPC-architecture (most closed-source Linux-binaries only work on x86-CPU's). I just need to move my data off the machine, wipe it, and install clean OS X in there. Then I'm all set to sell it.

Thirty Years: A tale of two movies and the country that gave birth to them

This post is about Finland, it's history, and how it has been reflected throught the times.

After the Second World War (which for Finns means Winter War and Continuation War against the Soviet Union, and Lapland War against the Germans), in 1954, Väinö Linna wrote a book called "Tuntematon Sotilas" ("The Unknown Soldier" in English). In 1955 it was turned in to a movie by Edwin Laine, and it was filmed again in 1985 by Rauni Mollberg. So the two movies are exactly thirty years apart.

Regarding the book.... In 1954, the trauma of the war(s) still ran deep in Finland. During WW2, Finland lost about 90.000 men dead, and over 280.000 were injured. That's quite a lot for nation of 3.5 million. Besides casualties, the country lost it's cultural heartland (Karelia) and about 140.000 people had to leave their homes. In the fifties, the nation was still in shock. Linnas book, while controversial in it's time, was an important tool in healing those wounds.

Even more important in healing those wounds was the original movie adaptation of the book. It didn't glorify the war, but it helped the survivors of the war feel that "what we did was good. What we did was right". Of course, back in those days movies tended to be a bit megalomaniac, with thundering monologues and overpowering music. It was like that everywhere, and Finland was no exception. But the movie is still very good, and they show it every year during the Independence Day. The movie acts as a medicine for the people. Even after 60 years, the memories of the war are still there. Even for the people who didn't take part in it.

The new version of the movie has received a lot less attention. I saw it just once, and I was just a kid back then. So my memories of it were a bit hazy. few days ago I finally bought it on DVD, and started watching it. Let's cover the basics first:

The new version is based on the same script that was used in the old version. So large parts of the dialogue are same. But there are considerable differences between the two versions, so it makes sense to see them both. As a war-movie, the new version is very good. It used techniques that were made popular over a decade later by "Saving Private Ryan" and "Band of Brothers". Things like shooting the film by hand right in the middle of the action. In many ways, the movie was ahead of it's time.

But what's not interesting is comparing the technical merits of the two movies. What's interesting is to compare the message of the two. In fifties, the war was still remembered by everyone. The nation was at a state of shock, and it needed a sense of purpose and sense of direction. And the old version helped there. It told people that the soldiers did what had to be done, and they did not do it in vain.

What about the new version? Well, this is where it gets interesting. The seventies and early eighties were a time when Soviet Union was looming over Finland. There were many people in Finland who openly admired Soviet Union and communism, and criticizing the SU was more or less banned. During that time, there was an element of self-loathing when it comes to the history of Finland. Continuation War was discussed, and since that war contains controversial elements as far as Finland is considered (Fighting alongside Nazi-Germany, war of conquest in Eastern Karelia), it was mostly talked about in negative manner. I don't think it was easy being a veteran of the Continuation War back then. Winter War was a different matter. It's very difficult to blame anyone else but Soviet Union for that one, so it wasn't discussed that much. There were people in Finland that wanted to "whip the Nation" as far as its history was concerned. Continuation War was a good tool for that, whereas Winter War was not (justification of the Continuation War is a whole different topic, which I wont discuss here). It was self-inflicted censorship. Things that contained controversial elements (like Continuation War) were discussed, whereas acts of pure self-defence (Winter War) were not.

In to this era, the new version of "The Unknown Soldier" was born. And it clearly a child of it's times. While it is very similar to the old version, as far as characters and dialogue is concerned, there are lots of subtle differences. In the new version, the soldiers are seen to like the killing more. They are portrayed more as savages. In the old version they are shown as soldiers doing their job (well, they are not robots in the old version either), in the new version they are shown to be more cruel. Besides having scenes of killing surrendered Russians, we have scenes of the soldiers plundering and burning parts of the town of Petrozavodsk in a drunken rage. The movie constantly tries to underline that Finns were the aggressors, whereas Russians were victims. Lotta Svärd are shown as "comfort women" (more or less) of the soldiers. The list goes on.

After a while, it becomes a bit tedious to watch the movie, since it's constantly pushing an agenda. It's not overtly obvious, but it's always there, just beneath the surface. Some might say that the old version does the same, just from the opposite direction. But I don't think so. There's plenty of critique of the war in the old movie, and it doesn't glorify the war, nor the soldiers. It shows them as normal human beings. What the new version has, is that element of self-hatred that was prevalent in the seventies and the eighties. And there's the element of self-censorship that makes it next to impossible to critique the Soviet Union. And that is why Finns are seen as brutal aggressors, when in fact the truth of the matter is a bit more complex than that (it always is).

These two movies give us an excellent possibility to see how mentality of a nation can change over the course of the years. The two movies are closely connected to each other, yet the message of the two is very different. The two movies act as a mini-Finland, which we can observe from the outside. Who know, maybe ten years from now, we will make another version of "The Unknown Soldier"?

Environmentalist? Who, me?

During my online-activities, I have been called both environmentalist and anti-environmentalist. I think it's safe to say that we can't label people something or anti-something, since most people support and oppose many things associated with that particular group. I support many things environmentalists (or rather, people who call themselves that) do, and I oppose many things they do. Where do I stand on issues related to environment? Well, here it goes:

Renewable energy

Yes please! I think that government should subsidy citizens when they buy solar-panels and windmills for private use. They should also support purchases of heat-pumps (devices that extrac heat from the soil and/or air, significantly reducing the heating-expenses. Heat extracted from the soil/air is basically "free" energy).

Besides small-scale renewables, the government should increase the usage of renewables in large-scale as well. That said, in Finland it can be difficult. For example, wind-power is difficult since during the time we need the energy most (middle of the winter) we also receive the least amount of wind. But still, I support renewables.


Environmentalist: 1
non-Environmentalist: 0

Nuclear power

Yes please! Yes, we all have mental images of Chernobyl and huge piles of nuclear waste. Hell, my friend got cancer because of Chernobyl! But still, when you really look at it, nuclear power is very safe. During the history of nuclear power, there has been two large accidents: Three Mile Island and Chernobyl. Three Mile Island didn't really cause any harm, and Chernobyl was caused by incompetent engineers carrying out a dangerous experiment on a fundamentally flawed reactor-design. But still, Chernobyl was bad, right? Yes it was. But when you compare the amount of radioactive waste generated by nuclear power, you will actually see that coal-plants pump out more nuclear waste. The difference is that coal-plants pump the waste in to the atmosphere, whereas nulcear plants have the waste in solid form.

Yes, many of the processes invloved in nulcear power could and should be improved. For example, the mining of uranium could be made more environmentally friendly.

Well, what about that waste? Yep, it can be a dilemma. But it can be solved. Enter Integral Fast Reactor. IFR uses 99.5% of the energy in the uranium, as opposed to mere 1% in current reactors. End result is a lot less nuclear waste, and the waste that is generated is dangerous for only few hundred years, as opposed to current timescale of thousands of years. In fact, the waste that we have today could be re-used as fuel for IFR-reactors.

IFR is also safe. In case of overheating, the fuel would expand (as mandated by laws of physics), and that would cause the nuclear reaction to automatically slow down.

Environmentalist: 1
non-environmentalist: 1

Private transportation

In this context this refers to cars, as opposed to trains and buses. I can't help it, but I absolutely love private transportation. I love cars, and I love driving them. I do use public transportation every day, so I'm not hopeless :). I do think that cars could be made more environmentally friendly, and I support it. Just today I saw a SUV (bleh!) with a hybrid-engine (yes!). Combine hybrid with uber-efficient diesel-engine, and you have a recipe for success. With gasoline-engines we could have something like VW's TwinCharger-engine, where even big cars could be equipped with relatively small engines that are both super- and turbocharged. 2-liter engines could be replaced with 1.4-liter engines for example.

Sometimes I feel that environmentalists are a bit irrational. For example, Helsinki has been planning for some time now to build an underground tunnel from western end of Helsinki to the eastern parts of the city. Rationale is that there a huge number of cars driving through Helsinki every day, and they are just passing through. Going around the city would take too long, so they go through. So we have traffic-jams, and lots of cars in the downtown. The tunnel would move that traffic underground, where the cars would move along switftly and efficiently (instead of spending their time if traffic-jams). The pollution from the cars could be cleaned up before it reaches the outside, and since traffic in the city would be reduced by a significant amount (I have heard estimates that the amount of cars in downtown-Helsinki would re reduced by 30-50%), several of the currently car-filled streets could be turned in to pedestrian-avenues. That tunnel would also be connected to several underground parking-areas, so those cars would not have to get above the ground in order to find a place to park (which is another significant source of traffic in Helsinki).

So everyone wins. The environment benefits when we have less cars sitting in traffic. The pedestrians benefit, because we can have more streets dedicated to pedestrians. And drivers benefit when they can reach their destination fast and smoothly. And we have a nicer city with large part of the traffic and parked cars being underground, insead of all around the place. So what's the problem then? The Greens that have large number of seats in the Helsinki City government oppose the tunnel because (and I quote) "we cannot support any initiative that would benefit private transportation". Uh, OK. So we still have car-infested city, where cars sit in traffic-jams, where pedestrians have only handful of streets meant solely for pedestrians and traffic is in general not as smooth as it could be. And we now have a method of helping the city and the environment. But we can't do it because it would benefit private transportation as well. Illogical? I think so.

And if we look outside Helsinki, we can see that many people absolutely need a car. Population-density is low, and distances can be quite big. Public-transportation is simply not feasible in many cases. Back when I lived in the countryside, the bus-stop was about 2 kilometers away, and buses drove past it maybe once every three hours.

So, while I do love private transportation, I also use public-transportation if it makes sense. And in my case it does. But I don't consider myself to be an environmentalist on this issue. Rather, I'm a pragmatist.

Environmentalist: 1
non-environmentalist: 2


This is a tricky question. I would think that my answer would be a "yes.... maybe". There are downsides, but there are upsides as well. If we can create plants that need less insecticide and fertilizers, that is a Good Thing (tm). That said, I oppose the idea of patenting genes. And I oppose the idea of requiring farmers to "licence" new set of patented seeds every year, and the old seed have to be thrown away. That's just stupid. So the process of using the GM-seeds and products needs a SERIOUS change.

Yes, I do understand the worries of environmentalists. But humans have been doing genetic engineering for centuries, we just have better tools now. But there are still issues. You could say that I'm positive, but not enthusiastic.

Environmentalist: 1.5
non-environmentalist: 2.5


I have donated money to Animalia and I do support animal-rights. Sort of. I'm against animal-testing in cosmetics-industry. But I do not oppose them in medical-research. While I think that conditions in fur-farms could and should be improved, I do not support banning them. In a way, furs are quite ecological. My wife has a fur she got from her grandmother. It's something like 50 years old, and still going strong.

So, what am I here? I support animal-rights where it makes sense, but I'm not gung-ho about it. I also eat meat. I would say I'm 50/50 on this issue.

Environmentalist: 2
non-environmentalist: 3


Yes! We recycle, and it makes sense. The idea of throwing something away, and never using it again is just plain dumb. Idea of burying useful (in the sense that it contains usable raw-material) stuff in the ground is just stupid.

Environmentalist: 3
non-environmentalist: 3

Local Products

Hauling productst all over the globe consumes energy. I consciously try to buy products that are made in Finland or near Finland. That's not possible every time, but I try to do it. So you can label me as an environmentalist on this issue. OTOH, my reasons are economic as well, besides ecological.

Environmentalist: 4
non-environmentalist: 3

Hmmm.... I guess that's about it. Draw your own conclusions.

Bartender: water on the rocks!

Bottled water is a pet-peeve of mine. Now, I can understand the fact that bottled-water is needed in places where tab-water is not drinkable. But take Finland for example. Finland has humungous amounts of fresh water available, straight through the faucet. Independent comparisons show that tab-water in Finland is clearly superior to Evian and other bottled waters out there.

So what is the hit-drink in Finland these days? Bottled water, of course! Hell, even my workplace is full of bottled water. Now, maybe that's due to the fact that we routinely have people over from all over te world, and they might not know that the tab-water is actually better than the water in the bottle. But still. Not only do we have bottled water, we have watercoolers as well, even though there's cool and pletiful water available through "normal" means.

What's the deal here? Let's haul waterbottles around in trucks, so that we can consume some more oil and pollute a bit more. Let's make even more plastic bottles because, let's face it: you can never have too many plastic bottles in a society! Yeah, we have humungous amounts of clean water coming in to every household, but since marketdroids say that selling people bottled water at about 200 times the price the tab-water costs is a smart thing to, who am I to argue? Well, it's smart for the people who are selling the water that is.... Hell, why don't I start selling regural tab-water in some stylish bottle? quality would be superior to to 95% of bottled water out there. I could say on the label that "this water comes from deep within the soil of Finland", and it would still be the exact same water I get from the tab.

Reality called. It told that bottled water in places like Finland is DUMB!

Yes! Finally!

The heuristic spam-filter on my machine FINALLY learned that messages with subject-line "our store is your cureall!" is in fact spam!

Technology with a soul

A word of warning: this is a "nerds gone wild" post. This post contains rambling, weirdness and everything else in between.

What happened to technology? More precisely: what happened to computers? In the "good ol' days" we had computers that were fun and interesting. They were the kind of machines that send shivers down your spine and they actually fostered creativity. I dunno, maybe I'm just sentimental or something, but still.

My first computer was a C-64. And that machine was a blast! Of course I was just a kid, so I mostly just played games with it. Games were loaded from C-tapes mostly, and it could take ages to do so. We simply don't have the time or the patience to wait for several minutes for some app to launch today. But when you waited for 20 minutes (worst-case scenario) for some game to load, it made the game feel so much more worthwhile. You really had to go the extra mile to do something with the computer. Today you just click an icon, and if it takes longer than 10 seconds for the app to load, we start to complain.

That machine was then replaced by C-128. I was the only kid in the block with C-128, rest had C-64 or MSX. Yep, I was cool even back then! And that machine was a joy to program! It came with BASIC that was very simple to hack, even for me. So I spent several hours in front of the machine with my brother creating simple programs. I was actually _creating_ something with the computer.

After C-128 came the biggest step in my computing-history: The arrival of Amiga 500. It's difficult to explain the feeling of moving from C-64/128 to the Amiga. Most people simply use computers, they are not otherwise that interested in them. And kids today don't really know anything about the Amiga since they were too young back then (hell, many of them weren't even born!). But the difference between Amiga and C-64/128 was huge. It had a GUI! The machine could actually talk! Stereo-sound! Multitasking! That was all new back then (well, Macs did predate Amiga on the GUI-front by a bit). And, in my opinion, that was the last time we have seen real innovation in computers. Ever since Amiga was introduced, all we have had is the same stuff, just a bit faster, a bit prettier. Never since the Amiga has there been such a huge step in computing, and I'm not simply talking about the performance of the computer, but the overall "experience" of using the computer. Amiga really changed things.

I still have my Amiga, and I use it occasionally. It works perfectly and it's a joy to use. Not bad for a computer that is over 15 years old. I don't care one bit what has happened to my past PC's, but I do care what happens to my Amiga.

Amiga, like the C-128 before it was a kind of machine that fostered creativity. I used paint-programs quite often. I wasn't good at using them, but I still used them. I also used trackers (SoundTracker mostly). My "music" sucked and I wasn't very good at it. But again: I _created_ something with the computer. There was something in the technology that fostered creativity.

All that ended when I took my next step in my timeline of computing: I bought a PC. A very serious-looking machine that ran DOS. It was "good enough to get the job done". But it lacked soul. It was no fun. Sure, it had good games and such, but the machine itself was boring. No GUI by default (and Windows sucked, so nothing much has changed since then), no proper sound by default. And there was no _community_. Amiga had a great community around it. There was the demoscene, where people pushed the machine to it's limits by creating kick-ass graphics and audio and we (the mere mortals) wondered at their creations. I swapped games (which, strictly speaking, was illegal....), music and demos with my friends , I had friends come over and we played together. There was a true sense of bonding going on. It was the apex of my computing-experience.

All that ended with the PC. PC's simply didn't foster anything like that. PC has that "do your job!"-attitude on it, it doesn't foster communities like Amiga did. Amiga was a computer created by enthusiasts (those enthiasts then turned to businesspeople with horrible results) for enthusiasts. I can even name the person who designed the Amiga: Jay Miner. Who designed the PC? I have no idea. Things like that are not important with PC's, PC is a computer designed by businesspeople for businesspeople. There is no soul, just technology. Technology with no soul is just a collection of chips, circuit-boards and metal. Technology with a soul is something more.

I have seen traces of that community in few places since then. Linux is one. Macs are another (although the hard-core Mac-fans are a bit too militant to my taste. But I digress). But it's just that, traces. It's nothing like it was in the late eighties/early nineties.