Well,I'll be damned

They released "Sim City" for the iPhone. I just installed it yesterday, and yes, it seems to be the real deal!

This is the first time I wish that I had longer commute...

I'm not dead. Really

It's been a while since i said more than two words here. It's just that... I haven't had anything that interesting to say. I don't live THAT interesting life. But I don't really mind it that much. As the Chinese curse says: "may you live in interesting times". Well, I live pretty sedate life. I'm the kind of guy who dreams of going home after busy workday, putting some fire in the fireplace (if I had one that is), grabbing a good book, and enjoying a quiet, stress-free evening. That's my idea of paradise. Crackling fire and slowly-ticking clock, that is what I want.

The winter I reported about in my previous post has been so-so. We had loads of snow, then it all melted away. Yesterday we got more snow, and it hasn't melted so far. I'm not the biggest fan in the world when snow is concerned, but I dislike black winter even more. There's no sunlight, and the fact that the ground is black just makes everything more miserable. Snow might be cold and wet, but at least it looks pretty and it lights up the surroundings.

I still wish it was summer, though.

It's white

The world that is. Starting from yesterday.

Damn you snow.

There are no shades of gray

I live a comfortable middle-class lifestyle. I have a car, a nice home, computers, gizmos and all the other things that define "modern western lifestyle". And I do like that lifestyle.

But on the other hand there is part in me that dreams of giving all that up. That dreams of simple life far away from the crowded cities.

Few months ago I saw a story on TV about this Norwegian man, who quit his job, and moved to a remote location in northern Norway. He built himself a house that was similar to the old Viking-dwellings. He had no electricity (well, he did have a generator for cases when he absolutely needed electricity). And he didn't have any clocks. It was peaceful, stress-free existence.

I could see myself doing something like that. But the thing is that it's the two extremes that appeal to me, the things in between do not seem appealing at all.

I couldn't really see myself making _some_ cutbacks to my life. If I do "cut back", then it needs to be all the way. Either I live this lifestyle, or I live the complete opposite lifestyle. But no half-hearted attempts somewhere in between.

I guess that I see the middle ground as combining the worst of the two extremes. If I make some cutbacks, I sacrifice on the material wealth, but I don't really gain that much in the lifestyle. I would still have to go to work, and it return I would have less of the modern luxuries. So it has to be all or nothing.

When the Wind Blows

I just noticed that the "When the Wind Blows" is on youtube. It's the anumation from the eighties about an elderly couple and nuclear war. It's based on a graphic novel of the same name.

It's just so sad and touching. No happy ending, no joy, no hope.

Green is the color of money

The Greens in the Helsinki metropolitan area released their proposal for congestion-charges for the city. I wont comment on the actual idea of congestion-charges, but I DO want to comment on their proposal, which is downright stupid.

The charge works as you might expect: you need to pay if you drive to the metro-area. You can either pay per kilometer, or you can buy a monthly "pass". If you buy that monthly pass, you also get a 30-day ticket for the mass-transport in the metro-area. Which is a good idea.

Everything else about their suggestion sucks though.

Their idea is to basically charge money from commuters who drive to the metro-area (Metro-area in this case is the cities of Espoo, Vantaa and Helsinki) from the surrounding counties. Also, if you drive inside the metropolitan area and cross a city-limit (like, driving from Helsinki to Espoo) you need to pay.

Well, what's the problem here? Simple: if you just drive inside one city (like, inside Helsinki), you do not need to pay one dime extra.

Why is that a problem? Well, it's the idea behind all this. Fact is that further away from the metro-area you are, the less viable alternative mass-transit is. And now those who live outside the metro-area would be punished because they commute to the metro-area. And while they are punished, the people inside metro-area (to whom mass-transit IS a viable alternative) are not encouraged to use mass-transit. People who live in Helsinki can keep on driving inside Helsinki, without having to pay one cent extra. Even if they had a tram/bus/metro 50 meters from their home. People outside metro-area who have no other alternative but to use their car, are expected to pay more.

I commute by train, since my workplace is right in the downtown of Helsinki. The Mrs.'s workplace is not in the downtown, so she carpools with her father. The reason for that is that there is not one mass-transit connection between our home and the place she works. Not one.

The Greens' proposal would make it quite a bit more expensive for her (and her father) to go to work. And the mass-transit-ticket they would get in return would not even be useful for her, since it's not valid here. We would have to live closer to Helsinki to be able to use it.

Her only "viable" alternative is to get a 30-days train-ticket (costs 106 euros/month) and in addition, a 30-day bus-ticket from Helsinki to Espoo (where she works, costs 114e/month). It would cost her 220e/month just to go to work. Daily commute would be 60-90 minutes in one direction. So she would spend 2-3 hours a day commuting, and she would pay 220e for the pleasure.

I have mailed two Green politicians about this (one of them my representative in the parliament), but I have received no reply.

why did Greens suggest something like this? Why aren't they suggesting new fares for people who live in Helsinki (or Espoo, or Vantaa), but still use their own car? I guess the reason is simple: This was one of their themes in the communal-elections. And it's not politically smart to tell the voters "if you vote us, we will make you pay more". No, what they said was basically "If you vote us, we will make these other people pay more". People outside the metro-area would be asked to pay more, but those people do not vote in the metro-area communal elections.

A conversation with the Mrs.

Me: Honey, do you remember that domestic period-movie you wanted to go see few months ago, but we never did?

Her: Yeah....

Me: Well, there's another domestic period-piece in the movies at this very moment. Would you like to go see it?

Her: Well....

Me: It's tagline is "Wash your sins". How about it?

Her: ...You are weird, you are so weird!

Needless to say, we didn't go see that one...

Circle: broken

I got my new speakers yesterday. And they sound fabulous. And everything is so easy to use that non-geeks can handle it as well.

The speakers turn on automatically when I start to listen to some music, and they turn off when I stop listening. Even the Mrs. acknowledged that they sound great, and that's quite a confession, since she hates the idea of speakers.

It's weird how, in the end, the solution of my problem was so simple. No need to invest thousands of euros. Just get some powered speakers, hook them up to Airport Express, and you are done.

The good thing in this setup is that there's lots of room for growth in the future. If I in the future get stuff like blu-ray and other home-theater stuff, I can easily grow the system. But right now my needs are simple, and so is my setup.

Breaking the circle

A while ago I blogged about my plans to upgrade my television, stereos etc. It ended with frustration, since even simplest upgrade required upgrades somewhere else, end-result being thousands of euros being "invested" in technology that will lose value very fast.

Obviously, my original plan was flawed, since it required such a large investment. So I took a fresh look at how to proceed. And I realized that I can reach my goal with a lot less complication and expense.

Yesterday, I took the first step. I bought a pair of Genelec 6020's. Those speakers are absolutely superb. Only thing better would be another Genelecs. Those speakers are on the "low-end" of Genelec-range and they are pretty darn small. But size does not matter. The sound-quality is impeccable. It's quite probable that similar Genelecs (only bigger) were used in the studio that recorded the music you are listening to. They are that good.

Yes, it could be said that spending 700e on a pair of small speakers is a lot of money (the list-price is 800e, so I got a nice discount), but there are speakers that cost ten times that much. And the price/quality-ratio of these speakers is probably the best in the market. 800e for these speakers is a bargain! Besides, my plan is that I will be using these speakers for at least 15 years, if not more. And in any audio-setup, the speakers are by far the most important component.

And good thing about those speakers is that they hold their value. At least when compared to stuff like televisions, computers and the like.

I will receive the speakers at the end of the week, since they are shipping straight from the factory in Iisalmi. Yes, I value the fact that these speakers are made in Finland.

So I now (well, soon) have the speakers. What next? Well, next step is to invest about 90e on an Airport Express, and hook it to the speakers. Then I can simply select the music I want through iTunes, and tell it to play the music back through the speakers. Problem solved. As an added bonus, I can use my iPod touch to control the setup.

I guess there is a third step still. And that's re-encoding my music in a lossless format. But we shall see. That would take quite a bit of hard-drive space, not to mention time.

the monopack

It occured to me few days ago that I'm actually starting to see some changes in my appearance, thanks to the gym. I can see muscles where there were no muscles before. No, I don't have a sixpack, I have a monopack, but boy is it a big one! Too bad that it's located at my belly...

My monopack can keep company to my monobrow. Yes, I have singular eye-brow and I'm proud of it!

The Global Financial Crisis...

...has so far cost me about 90 euros.

Religious baggage

I mentioned in my previous post that I couldn't vote for Christian Democrats, since that would bring with it all kinds or religious stuff I have zero interest in supporting. And just to be sure, the leader of Christian Democrats has opened her mouth and reminded me why I should not and could not vote for them. Ever.

"Olen pääministerin kanssa samaa mieltä siitä, että koulusurmissa kohdataan uusi pelottava ilmiö - ihmisviha. Jokelan ja Kauhajoen surmaajat ilmoittautuivat myös ateistikseiksi. Tämä ilmiö on käänteinen kristinuskon lähimmäisenrakkaudelle"


"I agree with prime minister in that we are now facing a new and terrifying phenomena in our schools: misanthropy. Killers in Jokela and Kauhajoki said that they are atheists. This phenomena is totally opposite to the Christian empathy",

So, atheists are misantrophes and killers just waiting to snap? Mrs. Räsänen: Fuck you. And I say that with all due respect, since no respect is intended.

Who was it who said "Judge not, or you will be judged"? It would be nice for a change to see Christians actually listening what their savior actually said....

She also said: "Tarvitsemme yhteisöllisyyden vahvistamista, mutta tarvitsemme myös kansallista heräämistä siihen ihmisrakkauden sanomaan, jota kristillinen usko on synnyttänyt kautta vuosisatojen."

"We also need strengthened sense of community, but we also need national awakening to the message of empathy that Christian faith has created through the centuries".

Oh really? There are few people in the world who would have pretty strong opinions about that "Christian empathy". How about homosexuals, women, "unbelievers", "witches", indians and blacks?

There's something wrong with the society

We had another shootout in Finland, and this time the number of casualties is even higher: 11 dead (including the gunman). I wont try to make any excuses. The fact is that there is something wrong with the society.

The interesting thing is that all the people who have done something like this (Gerdt, Auvinen and Saari) are all people who lived through the early-nineties recession when they were young. It could be that it turned them in to what they are.

Anyway, there are tangible things that the society and the government can do to fix the problem. It wont be easy, but it will result in a better society.

Increased resources for work on mental health.

Ever since the recession in the early nineties, the resources directed at mental health have been cut back. Which is bad, since that was when they were needed the most. Finland has recovered exceptionally well from the recession, but the funding that were taken from mental health was not given back. So we have a situation where crazy people walk the streets because they do not get proper treatment in time. Hell, back in August there was a case in Kerava (pretty close to where I live) where this 18.year old (or so) guy stabbed a younger girl to death. He had seeked help for his mental problems, but he was told that due to limited resources, he could get an appointment several months away, no sooner. End-result: A stabbed girl. This is totally unacceptable.

Schools need to be given resources to employ psychologists and curators that have the time and resources to actually talk with the students. They could have a monthly talk with each student, just to check how they are doing and that everything is OK with their lives.

Also, the class-sizes should be made smaller, so teachers have adequate time and energy to give to each student. With dozens of students per class, paying attention to each student becomes harder and harder.

Increased sense of community

This is the easiest thing to do, and the hardest. This doesn't really involve any money (well, maybe a little) or anything like that, so it's easy. But it's hard because it means change in people's attitudes. Finland is a pretty introvert society in many ways. We place high value on respecting other peoples privacy. And sometimes that means that people could become isolated misantrophes and people around him wouldn't notice anything. We need to change that. We need to make people feel part of the community, as opposed to having a community of isolated individuals. People need to feel that there are people around him that can help him when needed, and we need to pay more attention to the people around us.

The three people who have done something like this in Finland were all loners and introverts. Some of them were also victims of teasing at school. We need to change this. We need to foster a sense of involvement among people and we need to have absolute zero tolerance for bullying and teasing.

Also, to increase the sense of community, we should re-think the way our schools are arranged. The change from primary to secondary education can be quite a shock, and that takes place at the age when the one thing you really need, is stability. In Finland, when you move from primary to secondary, you get a brand-new class with new classmates. Everything is mixed up. Instead of doing that, what if we try to preserve the class that existed in the primary? So even though you would be in a new school, the classmates around you would be mostly the same as before. You would then have same classmates from ages 7 to 15. If possible, the class should be preserved in high-school as well.

What NOT to do

As before, close to half of the discussion so far has been about increased gun-control. While that might seem like a quick solution to the problem, it's not. We should not waste our time talking about what tool the killer happened to use, we should be focusing our time to think WHY the killer did what he did, and how we could prevent it. Taking away the tool does not take away the desire to kill others. If he has no gun, he will use some other tool (like Gerdt did at Myyrmanni, or how the Akihibara killer did in Japan).

Not only is the talk about the tool a waste of time, it distract us from the real issue. At worst, we might have a situation where gun-control is increased, but mental-health work etc. gets no additional resources. Politicians and people would then think "there, by removing guns we removed the problem. good work everyone!". Yes, we might not have shootouts anymore. What we would get instead is stabbings, arsons, hit 'n runs etc. We are doing all of us a huge disservice when we allow ourselves to be distracted like this.

What about the politicians?

Well, communal-elections are coming up. But the thing is that there isn't really a party who has profiled itself as being focused on these issues. Well, maybe the Christian-Democrats, but I won't vote them out of principle. Voting them would bring along all that fundie-baggage that I have no desire to support. Mrs. and I actually joked that we should start a "Family Party" that focuses on issues like these, without bothering itself with religion and all that other crap.

Of course, the "Family Party" would have the risk of being perceived as a "Think of the children!"-party...

The moments in life that make you go "huh?".

Some time ago I was glancing through one of those Richard Scarry "Busytown"-books in a bookstore. It showed the animals in various situations around the town, and the picture told the names of the items they were interacting with. Like "Ladder", "a bus" etc.

One picture was about a member of the pig-family buying some groceries. The items in the grocery-store included "a ham" and "bacon"...

"We shall fight them on the balconies...."

There has been a storm in a teacup over here. What happened is that someone decided to hang a nazi-flag in his balcony in Helsinki. People noticed it, and called the police. The cops came over, inspected the situation and told the people "There's nothing we can do. It's not illegal to display a flag on your balcony". After a while, someone climbed to the balcony, and ripped the flag down, while others applauded him.

Naturally, the opinions on the matter have been divided. Some people think that the person who ripped the flag did a good thing (even though he broke the law, since balconies are considered to be part of your home, so he was guilty of trespassing and maybe theft), and that the society should ban the "ideology", and the display of nazi-symbols should also be banned.

I and several others took the exact opposite viewpoint. If we want a free society with free citizens, it means that we must tolerate ideas, symbols and viewpoints that we might not personally condone. I have no sympathy for nazis, but if we start banning opinions and ideologies, how exactly are we different from the nazis? Nazis punished people who had "wrong" opinions, and now we should do the same, all in the name of "freedom"?

It was surreal to see people who called themselves "opponents of nazism" advocate the use of exact same methods as nazis used to use. They advocated punishing people for their opinions and ideas without batting an eyelid. When I and others told them that they are in fact mimicking what nazis did, the fact totally escaped them.

It's not really a free society, if we are free to agree with one another. The measure of freedom is that we can disagree. that we can have opinions that others might not like. If we want to have freedom of opinion, it means that EVERYONE has that right, including the nazis.

At this point I was told that "of course you are free to have any kind of opinions you like, but you should not be allowed to express them just like that". For a while I had to think that was the person joking or not. But no, apparently he was being serious. Are we a free society if we are not allowed to express our ideas and opinions?

It's strange, really. So we should ban nazism and related symbols, but in the meantime we have two (or more, depending who you ask) communistic parties in Finland. We even have a big statue that glorifies communism in Helsinki that was donated by Moscow. I bet that communism has just as much victims as nazism has, maybe even more. Yet no-one is calling for the banning of that ideology, nor is anyone vandalizing the statue (although there are several people calling for it's removal). The only difference I can think of is that nazis lost the war, while communists won it.

Of course all this does not mean that nazis (for example) should be allowed to attack minorities etc. Ideology and opinion is not a "get out of jail"-card. The point is that opinions can never be considered a crime. Someone might have the opinion that "all red-headed people should be beaten up", and he should not be punished for that opinion. If he actually started beating red-headed people up, THEN he would be due for a punishment.

Yes, it was stupid to hang that flag on the balcony. But people should have the right to be stupid.

The previous post....

Well, I'm not entirely happy with it, and I would change few things in it in hindsight. But my excuse is that it was more like a stream of thought and it took me a whole 15 minutes to write it.

Meanwhile, in a parallel universe....

Charles d'Albret was anxious for battle. He felt that his entire life was just preparation for this moment. On the other side of the muddy field, he could see his enemy: a band of Englishmen with hardly any knights among them. Surely that group of peasants was no match for his larger force of mounted knights and men-at-arms?

He removed his helmet, so he could get a better look of his surroundings. He rose in his stirrups to get a better look of the enemy before him, even though he already knew that he had already seen everything there is to see. But these things are expected from a commander. He then turned his ride around and looked at his men. Right behind him were hundreds of mounted knights. He could not see their faces, for they were covered with helmets. But he did not need to see them, for he knew many of them personally.

It was still early in the morning, and dew was condensing on their armour and mounts. He suddenly remembered that his loyal mount had not been milked in due time. "But that can wait until after the battle, surely. For now is the time to address the men".

Again, he rose in his stirrups. "Men, today is the day you have been waiting for! That ragged mob you see in front of you is your enemy. And they are being led by their King! If and when you win today, you will have inflicted a crushing blow to the enemy! And make no mistake, we will prevail today! For our swords are sharp, and our cows are swift! The Englishmen huddling on the other side of this field will never know what hit them! They will be pierced by our swords and trampled under our claws! Tonight we shall drink our milk for the skulls of our fallen enemies!". As soon as he finished his speech, he felt a wave of remorse engulf him. "No skulls, we are not barbarians" he thought to himself. "Disregard my last comment" he shouted to his men. His knights looked at each other and nodded in satisfaction. The idea of drinking their milk from blood-stained skulls was not appealing to them.

He turned around to face the enemy once more. He drew his sword, and few seconds later thousand men behind him drew their swords in unison. "Men! Onwards to battle!". Terrible mooing filled the air as one thousand cows slowly started their charge towards the enemy.

A nearby herd of grazing horses glanced at the spectacle indifferently. No matter what happened today, they would continue their carefree existence.

Netbooks, what are my options?

Like I mentioned a while ago, I'm in the market for a netbook. I have been charting my options for quite some time, and so far this is the situation right now:

Asus EEE

This is the granddaddy of netbooks. The computer range from 199e 700-series model with 7" screen. 512MB of RAM and 4GB Flash-HD, to 399e EEE 901, with 8.9" screen, 1GB of RAM, Intel Atom CPU, better battery and 20GB Flash-HD. There are few models between those extremes. I have been more interested of the latter model, due to better screen (7" really isn't enough), more RAM and better CPU. EEE is also famous for being easy to upgrade, just open a lid in the bottom to add more RAM or new HD.

But there are some serious drawbacks. The keyboard is tiny, and the machine looks and feels cheap (well, it IS cheap). Also, the availability of the 901 is quite limited.

Those drawbacks are enough to eliminate EEE from my selection.

MSI Wind

This is an interesting option. I haven't actually seen one in the wild yet, since availability is VERY limited. But the build-quality is apparently a lot better than on the EEE, and the keyboard is actually typeable. There are downsides as well. Like I said, availability is next to nonexistent, the price is higher (about 450e) and it uses a HD instead of flash-storage. That means that it has a lot more HD-space than EEE does (80-120GB), but I would prefer Flash. I don't have that much need for huge amount of storage. Also, upgrading the Wind is very hard. If you want to add RAM or new HD, you basically need to take the machine apart.

The lack of expandability, the price and availability makes this a no-go for me.

Acer Aspire One

If I had to buy a netbook at this very moment, this would be it. It comes in two models: a 299e model with Linux, 512MB of ram and 8GB of Flash-storage, and a 399e model with Windows XP Home (booo!), 1GB of RAM and 120GB of storage. Of the two, I would e interested in the latter. While I do not have that much need for storage-space, 8GB is quite limited (it needs to house the operating-system as well), and 512MB of RAM is cutting it short. I'm not that excited about the fact that the 399e model has a HD, but what can you do. Build-quality of this machine is a lot better than what EEE has, and availability is excellent. But there is one drawback... Apparently the cooling-fan on this machine is quite loud. I would like the machine to be as silent as possible, and this is loudest of the three I have mentioned so far. Am I nitpicking? Also, upgrading this machine is very difficult. Just like the Wind.

But there is one more contender....

Dell Inspiron Mini 9

The price of this machine is 399e (includes shipping) in the Dell's German online-store (but I can't buy it from there, due to different keyboards). For that money I would get 1GB of RAM, Intel Atom CPU and 16GB of Flash-storage. Build-quality is excellent, the keyboard is excellent, it's fanless, so it's 100% silent and it's VERY easy to upgrade the machine with more RAM or new HD.

This machine is just about perfect. So why aren't I buying it as we speak? Because it's not available here. It's available in Germany, but they have different keyboard-layout than we do.

As long as the situation stays the way it is, I'm not buying anything. And in a way, I'm relieved.

Congrats to CERN!

First tests of the LHC seem to be a success! Hopefully this initial success is just a taste of things to come!

Awkward moments in the morning

Every time I step out of the train in the morning, I need to walk this past older gentleman who hands out free newspapers in the train-station. I think he gets paid a nominal fee for the service he provides. But since I read those very same newspapers on the train, I do not need to get a newspaper from him. And that fact torments me.

When I walk past him, and not take the newspaper he offers, I feel a sting in my heart. Am I robbing him of his income? What should I do? I don't want to get a newspaper, since I have already read it. So it's better for him to hold on to the paper and give it to someone who has not read the paper yet. Should I just look at him and shake my head when he offers the paper? I have tried that, and he always seems to disappointed. I have recently tried to hasten my pace and look away, but that feels even worse.

Sometimes it seems that life is one small awkward moment after another.

It's the Google-browser!

I'm typing this post using the brand-new browser from Google: Chrome. Am I a nerd because I was actually anxious to get to work, so I could install and test the new browser? I bet I am. I couldn't test it at home since I have no Windows-machines to test it with.

I must say that Google has done a mighty fine job with this browser. It's a beta-version, so there will be some issues, but so far it's smooth sailing. I really like the tab-bar implementation and the overall look and feel of the browser. There's no menubar on the browser at all. And after using the browser for 30 minutes now, I don't really see any need for one.

This could become something big. Internet Explorer is a crappy browser, but it stays popular because Microsoft has strong brand-recognition. Chrome is a better browser, and Google has even stronger brand-recognition than Microsoft. Two years from now, IE will have under 50% of the market (as opposed to about 70+% it currently has)

Vicious circle

In some ways, this is related to my previous blog-post, but I decided to dedicate a separate post to this.

I have a dilemma. Every proper household needs equipment that can be used to listen to music. We (that is, Mrs. and I) have none. Which is ironic, considering that we own more music than we have ever owned before. What do we have? Well, we have two radios and a laptop. And those aren't really ideal for this purpose. Yes, you can play back music through the laptop-speakers. But can you really LISTEN to music with it? Add to that the fact that the laptop is not ideally located for music-listening.

So we need something to listen to our music with. First thing would be to buy some speakers. Of course we need something that will play back/store our music. For this use we are looking at something like AppleTV or maybe Playstation 3. PS3 costs more, but it also does more, and it could replace our old DVD-player as well. But anyway, I mention those just to give you an idea what I'm looking for.

So, so far we have the speakers and the actual playback-device. We might also need an amplifier, in which we will hook up the speakers and the playback-device (although Genelecs are active speakers, they do not need apmlifier as such). This is optional in the beginning, but might come handy if we (for some reason) get more devices that need to use the speakers/television.

Since we are talking about devices that will hold thousands of songs (and video), it needs to be hooked up to a television for proper usage. But the thing is that my TV is an older model that does not properly work with AppleTV and other devices like it. So I would have to get a new television.

Could someone tell me how and when this thing got so damn complicated?!

I have bought few stereos in my life. And the process was relatively simple and exciting. I read the reviews and compared products. I went to the store, bought the components I wanted, put them together and I was all set. Now, if I want to upgrade, I need to upgrade everything!

Excitement is still there, but simplicity is nowhere to be found.

Granted, this problem is caused by the fact that I'm still on "old" technology (that is, tube-televison) which doesn't work with the "new" technology. If and when I buy in to the new technology, things should work quite smoothly. That is, until something new and better come along.

I have been planning this upgrade for few years now, and I guess I will be planning it for some more time. But I try to aim for longevity. The television? I could get one of those "HD-Ready"-televisions quite cheaply. But I think that FullHD has more legs in the long run. For speakers, I want Genelecs. The thing with Genelecs is that they might cost more, but they are so good and high quality, that you might not need to replace the speakers for the next 30 years. And I can buy a pair now, and build the system up in the future.

But still, doing all this would mean spending thousands of euros! Sheesh! Back to the drawing-board it seems....

Things to do

It seems that there are always lots of things I want to do. Quite often nothing ever comes of those plans, because I'm inherintly lazy person. And it could be said that often my plans don't make sense. I mean, I could do stuff that improve me as a person and as an employee, therefore boosting my future prospects. But often my plans are something that have pretty limited benefits for me. But then again, if I enjoy doing those things, then surely that is a benefit in itself?

Looking at my plans, I can see these things:

Buy a netbook (one of those subnotebooks that cost about 300-400 euros)

I have been on and off about this one. I want one, and I can see it as being very useful. But do I really, REALLY need one? I mean, I have coped just fine without one as well. I already have a computer, but my MacBook Pro is so big and heavy (relatively speaking) that I don't want to carry it with me. It also costs so much that I would be worried that I would damage it somehow. Also, that's the only computer in our household, if I carried it with me, the MRs. would not have a computer to use. If I did buy one, it would enable me to do the next two things:

Learn to use Emacs

Emacs is.... Emacs. Do I REALLY need to know how it works? Not really. But it seems like such a hardcore piece of application. My nerd-score would go up a few notches if I knew Emacs.

Learn LaTeX

Like Emacs, LaTeX is one of those things that I could do without just fine. But it seems so... Interesting. It might also be vanity, because then I would be using a system that relatively few people are using.

Why do I need a netbook to do those two things? Well, I have 1 hour of commuting every day, I might as well use that time to do something semi-useful.

Enroll to a photography-class

The price is right, and I'm interested in photography. I have been to a one class already, but this time it would be more comprehensive. It would be a proper classes, whereas earlier it took place through the net.

Off the wall-stuff

Sometimes I think that there might be some activities/hobbies in the world that I have never tried, but I might actually love if I gave them a shot. And I mean things that I would never try out normally. Such as.... Oh, I dunno, a class about making silver-jewelry.

Holy crap!

I'm few weeks late, but I literally found out about the existence of this trailer just few minutes ago! Of course I have know that they are making a movie about "Watchmen", but I had no idea they had a trailer up & running.

Yes, it kicks ass. If the movie is even half as good as the graphic novel, we are in for a treat.

It's my way, or the highway!

Yesterday I had a short discussion with the Mrs.:

Me: "Honey, what would you think if I bought this collection of hardcover Calvin & Hobbes-comics? It contains every single C&H-strip ever published! And they are in these beautiful hardcover-volumes!"

Her: "How about not?"

Me: "But I don't have all the strips at this moment. Also, I could then sell my current C&H-comics to the used-books-store"

Her: "No, that's stupid"

To hell with it, I did it anyway! I wear the pants in this relationship! Yeah!

Let me enjoy my sense of triumph for few minutes!


I might be a geek, but '39 by Queen is a brilliant song on so many levels. No wonder Brian May got a Ph.D in Astrophysics.

When the cat is away....

For the last four weeks I have been more or less totally out of the loop, thanks to my summer-vacation consisting more or less of living in the middle of the forest (literally! Well, almost). This utter cluelessness is best demonstrated by the fact that I'm oblivious to this "Star Wars: Clone Wars"-thingy that greeted me this morning as I stepped out of the train. Huh? Clone Wars? Premieres later this month? Did I miss the memo or something?

So far my workday has consisted of going through my backlog of email (100+) and re-learning the stuff I'm supposed to be doing as a living. It's all coming back to me now (*. Slowly.

* = No, that is not a reference to Celine Dion in any shape or form. Seriously. *shudder*.

A glow-in-the-dark Savior

I have been away for over a week now. I was visiting my ol' stomping-grounds up north, and then I drove back here with the Mrs. stopping by to visit my mother. And since my mother lives in about the middle between this place and my birthplace up north, it's a convenient place to spend the night and rest.

While we were there, I recalled an incident that took place few years ago. Me and Mrs. were again spending the night there. As we turned off the lights and went to sleep, things took a turn for the spooky.

As the lights were turned off, and everything was dark and all set for some sleep, I felt the Mrs. poke me on my side and whisper "There's something out there". "Where?", I asked. "There, next to the door". Sure enough, there was a humanoid shape floating in the air and glowing! I turned on the lights, and... There was a crucifix hanging on the wall. I think it was a souvenir from the "south" that my uncle brought with him. It was a pretty ordinary crucifix with a wooden cross and a Jesus that was made from what appeared to be marble. The cross was about 30cm long, Savior being about 20cm long. But for some reason, the perverted mind that created that thing thought that it would be good idea to have Jesus glow in the dark.

So, knowing that we were not being visited by ghosts or aliens, I turned off the lights. But it would not work. The glow was so spooky and distracting that sleeping was completely impossible. So I took a towel, and covered the crucifix with it. After congratulating myself for smart thinking, I was dismayed to notice that the powers of the almighty Savior were greater than the powers of the towel: it shone right through!

The next step in defeating Jesus was of course to remove him from the wall. But alas, his home was nailed to the wall. It wasn't merely hanging from it, it was nailed to it. Defeated, I had to go talk to my mother and ask for a hammer or some other suitable tool for prying out nails. When I told her why I needed the hammer, she had a look of confusion and disappointment on her face. Se got up, entered the room and ripped the crucifix from the wall. That's the last time I have ever seen that thing.

If there is a God, I'm going straight to hell. I just know it.

Stairway to pain

Last night at midnight I heard my phone making some noise downstairs. It was a calendar-reminder. So i got out of the bed half-conscious and started walking down the stairs. As I got to the bottom of the stairs, the semi-conscious state got the best of me. I thought that I was at the very last step, when in fact I wasn't. What I thought to be a step on a solid floor was actually a step in to thin air. End-result: a twisted ankle. Very twisted ankle. It hurts like hell, but it's manageable now that I have taken 1200mg of painkillers. I'm not sure that is there anything broken, but I'm going to see a doctor later today.

What about the calendar-reminder? It just reminded me that today is our wedding-anniversary. I have no idea why it decided to remind me about it in the middle of the night....

The Cone of Silence

The Mrs. has (more or less) lost her voice for now. She has some kind of infection in her throat, and it's quite hard for her to speak. So this weekend has been pretty quiet, literally.

I had my annual review about a week ago, and everything went well. Well, I didn't really achieve my goal of getting absolute top-scores, but I still got very good scores, and what's more important, the actual feedback from my co-workers was excellent. So I can't complain. I have several new ideas on how to proceed and how to do an even better job.

As I'm typing this, I'm sitting in our backyard, under a sunshade. I guess this means that summer is officially here. Thank goodness for WLAN.


So I have been going to the gym for almost a month now. And I still like it a lot. This just goes to show how important it is to find the activity that you like. I don't care for walking all that much, and since that was just about the only option at the table, I didn't exercise that much. But now that there's an activity I LIKE doing, I'm actually looking forward to it, as opposed to viewing it as a tedious chore that needs to be done (and usually it was not done).

During the first week, I managed to burn through just 440 Kcal. That's not much, but it was because I was just starting out. I think I managed to go to the gym just once that week. In the following week I have gone to the gym three times a week, and the amount of burned calories in a week has been going up: 1564Kcal, 1762Kcal, 2073Kcal. I'm expecting that this week I'll manage about 2400Kcal, so I'm definitely on a right track.

My plan is to reach about 3000Kcal/week in June, and at least keep it there. For that, I practically need to increase my gym-sessions from three to four. I think that's doable. And if I start to go in the morning, I think I could increase my gym-sessions to about five, since then I could go there before and after work. With five gym-sessions a week, I think I could reach 4000Kcal/week.

Work it out

So I became a paying member of a gym. The Mrs. and the sister in-law talked me in to it. And I must admit: I need it. I'm in terrible shape. But the positive thing is that the only way forward is up.

Yesterday I met my personal trainer who is going to create my personal program that I'm going to follow. We went through the draft plan, and not just on paper, we really went through it. And I must say that it was exhausting! And my body is aching as we speak, He did say that we will take it easy in the beginning, so that I will not be in too much pain, and it seems that the program we did yesterday was just about right. Yes, I still feel it, but it should get better after a while.

The good thing about all of it, was that the trainer immediately saw the things I need to... improve. And the program was designed so that every problem-area received a good and thorough workout.

It's about time I got back in shape.

Here's your goddamned exclamation point!

My frustration and annoyance with tabloid-newspapers and other similar trash-newspapers grows by the day. They are filled with non-news that they report in a way that makes them sound like the most important piece of news in the known universe. Like _the_ news for today: "PARIS HILTON in Helsinki!". Is that REALLY interesting piece of news? Is it important? And why is the headline shouting at me? Why do they use all-caps?

Those caps and exclamation points are there to obviously make the news seems important. It's so important that they need to shout it at me. Well, excuse me, but what makes that particular piece of news so important? Why should I or anyone else care when some airheaded bimbo who is famous for being famous (really, has she ever really DONE anything notable?) is visiting Helsinki? And the sad thing is that there's about zillion idiots out there who do find that news really interesting and important...

Sure, the tabloids sometimes report on genuine news. But when they do so, they do it in a emotional way. They try to appeal to the feelings and emotions of the readers. Like during the Jokela Shooting they made huge headlines how the "principal tried to save the lives of the pupils" and was then shot and killed. We got articles about what the principal was like, what kind of family she had etc. etc. None of that was relevant to the actual news at all. Of course, the actual articles about the incident were filled with generalizations, errors, speculation and just plain crap. Stuff like "Why did the shooter do this? We might never know", despite the fact that he left behind a manifesto where he explained his twisted rationale. Tabloids said that "Should we blame computer games for this? Did he train using computer games?", when the shooter specifically said that his actions should not be blamed on games, movies or anything like that, and how everyone with a working brain will see that killing a person with a handgun is VERY different when compared to "killing" a bunch of pixels with a click of a mouse. But now, logic and facts never entered the equation when the tabloids smelled money.

It's time to draw a line in the sand. No more stupidity. We should expect more from the media.

One more hour....

Last week the Mrs. and I bought ourselves a new sofa. My old bachelor-era black leather-couch was donated to my in-laws. Today, they delivered the sofa, and me and the father in-law put it together. And now its just sitting in our living-room, looking oh so soft, comfortable and inviting. But we can't sit on it. Since the cushions are not leather, we treated them with this chemical that makes them resistant to dirt and spills. And it takes 2 hours for that chemical to dry. One hour gone, one hour left.

It just looks so comfortable...

Nice to meet me

The good doctor had this in her blog, so I naturally had to do it as well.

What is your occupation? The latest title my boss used to describe me was "IT Support Coordinator"
What colour are your socks right now? Black
What are you listening to right now? "Iankaikkinen", by Kotiteollisuus
What was the last thing that you ate? A banana
Can you drive a stick shift? It's the only way to drive
If you were a crayon, what colour would you be? Black
Last person you spoke to on the phone? My sister in-law
Do you like the person who sent this to you? Yes
How old are you today? 30
Favourite drink? Coffee
What is your favourite sport to watch? Ummmm, hockey
Have you ever dyed your hair? Dyed it violet once
Favourite food? Pizza
Last movie you watched? Only including movies watched in theater: Tali-Ihantala 1944
Favourite day of the year? Probably Midsummer
What do you do to vent anger? Curse
What was your favourite toy as a child? Lego
What is your favourite season? Summer
Hugs or kisses? Depends on the person
Cherry or blueberry? Cherry for the flavour, blueberry for the eating
Do you want your friends to email you back? Does not apply
Who is most likely to respond? To this test? Since I'm not going to mail it around: no idea
Who is least likely to respond? See above
Last vacation? Only including vacation-trips? Um, Budapest, Hungary.
When was the last time you cried? Around 2001 or so.
What is on the floor of your closet? I don't have a personal closet
Favourite smells? Garlic?
Who inspires you? Can't name any single person
What are you afraid of? Sudden death
Plain, cheese or spicy hamburgers? Cheese
Favourite car? German
Favorite cat breed? They are all cute in their own way
Number of keys on your key ring? 6 + USB-stick and an electronic key for the office
How many years at your current job? 6
Favourite day of the week? Friday
How many states have you lived in? Um, two?
What book (s) are you currently reading?Thinking of re-reading "The Watchmen"
Do you think you're funny? Those close to me have described my humour as "strange"

Arthur C. Clarke, 1917 - 2008

Looking back to see my future

Once in a while I run in to weird situation where my past somehow catches up with me. Earlier this year I was contacted in Facebook by this woman from Quebec, who gave me a link and asked "did you write this?". I checked the link, and it contained an idea about certain technology. I wrote it back in 2005.

Yesterday, something a bit similar happened. I was reading this article on Ars Technica. From there I followed a link to here, and there I discovered a link to this place. And what did I find there? Comments made by me over two years ago!

Gary Gygax 1938-2008

Thank you Gary for countless hours of entertainment, and helping me become an OK citizen of this planet. You will be missed.

Flight of The Conchords, part 2

Could this be the greatest moment in television-entertainment? It just might be.

Lose the cat

What do you get when you remove Garfield from "Garfield"? A better comic

That thing you do

A while ago I mentioned that I have bought an iPod touch. Few days ago I realized just how essential piece of equipment that thing is to me.

First of all, it's my addressbook. It contains all the contact-information of my friends. True, my phone has that as well, but since the iPod gets synced with my computer, it also contains their email-addresses and their regular address as well. And I can use their address to locate them with the Google Maps-client. Sweet.

Second of all, it has become an essential tool for emailing. Only rarely do I bother to check my email with my computer. And why should I, since the iPod is usually in my pocket? Only when I need to type longer emails I head to the computer.

Third, it's an excellent tool for web-browsing. Instead of reading a book in bed, I can read Wikipedia.

Fourth, it has my finances. It contains calculations and projections about my savings, loans and budget. I do use computer to make even more detailed plans with fancy graphs and everything, but most of the time, the iPod is more than enough.

Fifth, it's my navigator. I enter the address of the person I'm going to visit, and it provides me with turn by turn instructions on how to get there.

Sixth, it's my mobile mediaplayer. I use it to watch movies and listen to podcasts and music on the go.

The iPod does all that with no third-party applications. And in few weeks we should be getting more apps for the device. The possibilities are endless, and it's making me giddy as a schoolgirl.


The recent events have been so annoying, that it's time for something a bit more soothing. I took this picture last summer.

China, meet Finland, Finland, this is China

Finland is part of the exclusive club that is being chaired by China. That club is called "Countries that censor the Internet".

The thing I have been afraid of and have been warning of happened. A moral panic caused a piece of legislation to be rushed through the parliament and made in to a law. That law is is called "Law of preventive measures to stop the spread of child pornography". In a nutshell, the law gives the authorities the right to create blacklists of websites that are to be censored. Theory is that only foreign websites containing child-pornography will end up on the list. The list is limited to just foreign websites, because if the website was in Finland, it would naturally be shut down by authorities, since pedophilia is illegal in Finland.

Well, that's the theory. In reality large part of the censored websites do not contain child-pornography. Many contain normal gay-porn. Many contain 100% straight porn. Many of those website reside in EU or USA (where pedophilia is also illegal). If those websites have illegal material, why haven't those countries shut them down? It's either because

a) they do NOT contain illegal material

b) They do contain illegal material, but Finnish authorities who discovered it haven't notified their colleagues in those countries

In addition, many of the websites in the blacklist are not related to porn at all! Yet for some reason, they are still censored.

And, like I said, the blacklist should only cover foreign websites. But now the authorities have added a Finnish website which critiques the law and the blacklist in to the blacklist as well! Am I the only one who is starting to get a bit worried about this?

Then there's the fact that Finnish Constitution bans censorship. So this law is unconstitutional as well. So that's three ways this law is flawed so far:

1. The law itself is unconstitutional.

2. The law is supposed to only deal with child-pornography. But the blacklist contains lots of websites that have nothing to do with child-pornography!

3. The law is supposed to only deal with foreign websites. But now they are using that law to muzzle a dissenting voice inside Finland.

The moment I heard of this law, I was certain that once the groundwork is done, some people will insist on using it for other purposes as well. And sure enough: record-labels and the like have told that they would like to see the law extended so that it covers websites that distribute material that infringes on their copyright! What next? Censoring websites that critique the government?

The whole law looks and feels evil. The authorities compile the blacklist (which is officially secret) of banned websites, and internet service providers can then use that list to block access to those websites. And the lawmakers did say that "using that blacklist is voluntary".... And then they continued by saying "but if service providers do not voluntarily use the blacklist, we will make it mandatory".

I'm deeply ashamed and PISSED OFF!


Some time ago Nokia announced that they will be closing the cell-phone factory in Bochum, Germany, and moving the production to their plant in Romania. Lots and lots of Germans got angry (and who can blame them?). And now, the Finnish part of Attac has called for boycott against Nokia.

Now, while I understand the annoyance of Germans over the issue, I don't understand the issue Finnish Attac has over this issue. I mean, this is not a case os simply closing down a factory, this is about closing down a factory in one place, and moving the production (and lots of jobs) to some other place. Knowing that, and knowing that Attac opposes that move, it begs a question: Does Attac feel that Germans deserve these jobs, while Romanians do not? Why else would they oppose this move?


So I have been going through my budget for the year. And I have decided to take aggressive steps in cutting back on debt. I have very little credit-card debt, which is a good thing since that stuff has relatively high interest (somewhat over 10%). So I'm not worried about that. Then I have two large mortages (well, one is largish, the other is smaller) with 25-years repayment-plans. Aggressively tackling those now isn't really necessary, especially since they have the lowest interests in my debt-repertoire, (about 4.75%). But I still have some student-loan with relatively high interest (IIRC, about 5%) and a bit higher amount of loan that was used to buy our car. That has interest of 4.95%.

So I made an aggressive plan to repay both of those by the end of the year. And that's quite a bit of money. But replaying those loans helps quite a bit in my monthly expenses, and after that I can start making some extra payments towards repaying our mortages (repaying the mortages has less short-term benefits, but it helps in the long-term). Repaying those would be a multi-year tasks, but I have to start sometime. I didn't plan to wait 25 years for them to get repaid. And with no more student-loan and car-debt, I have a lot more flexibility in handling those larger debts.

I still hope to win in the lottery though....


Why do doors in different countries open in different directions? At least in USA doors open towards the inside, whereas in Finland they open to the outside?

Common sense suggests that doors that open outside are a lot harder to kick open, since it would be the frame of the door that absorbs the hit, in addition to any locks and bolts that might be present. Whereas door that open to the inside would have to rely on the bolts alone. Now, that may or may not be relevant to everyday-situations but still.

Is there any reason, historical or otherwise why doors open the way they do?


Now, as you may remember, I spent quite some time "talking" about the renovation in our new home. But there were few places that did not need one bit on renovation. One of those places was the sauna. The previous tenants had completely redone the sauna few months earlier, and I must say that they did a good job at it.