Full Archive — hermiene.net

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August 31, 2023

There's been a slight change to my Twitch streaming schedule: instead of every Tuesday and Thursday, I'll now be streaming every Monday and Wednesday instead (still at 7pm CET).

August 26, 2023

I've begun experimenting with streaming on Twitch! I'm currently doing a completionist playthrough of Assassin's Creed: Origins; check out my Twitch channel for live streams and VODs, and my YouTube channel for the archived Let's Plays. My plan is to play through a bunch of my favorite games in the time to come. Naturally, these links are also in the Off-site section of the navigation bar.

My current schedule for streaming is Tuesdays and Thursdays from 7pm CET until whenever I decide to quit for the night. I usually stream for about three hours or so.

September 17, 2022

My Books page has been redesigned. Now, most of the books (or ways to browse the books) are hidden behind their own links (or "sub-pages"). This makes the page look a little small, but of course, all the real content is still there. I realize this might make browsing the books a little more cumbersome, but the page is not done yet; I just wanted to push the current (working) iteration out the door, giving myself more incentive to work on the new features, faster!

What's coming:

  • Search bar with accompanying drop-down menu to specify where to search (title, author, category, etc.)
  • A separate advanced search page (my hope is to make this a very sleek direct interface with the database itself)
  • Lists of various custom "book shelves" (for lack of a better word)

My web site has definitely taken a back seat in my life lately, with school work and family life taking up the majority of my waking hours, although I never forget about it. I want to keep updating it and working on it for as long as I'm capable, and I'm kind of proud that I've had it running since 2003, more or less in its current state (modulo some culling of pages and rewrites of the back end). It's amazing to think that next year it'll be 20 years old!

January 3, 2022

I added a new section to the Books page, Universes and Series, where I split all the series into those that are associated with a universe, and those that aren't. I tried my best to do this correctly, using The Internet Speculative Fiction Database and various wikis for reference. Hopefully this makes everything a little more neat and structured. I also hid the list of authors, publishers, and books behind their own links, since the Books page itself became extremely long now that all the books are viewable.

December 31, 2021

I have made further changes to the Books page, most notably that all books are now viewable. I've spent a ridiculous amount of time this past year putting my entire library of books into the database (well, mostly all of my books), and I thought that it should be visible for all. When viewing multiple books, there's now an indication of whether or not I've read that particular book at the bottom of each book item. (See, for instance, the Space opera category.)

I've also added the name of the cover artist for a particular book, where I could find it. I did this mostly for the sake of the science fiction and fantasy books; they often have fantastic cover art, and I want to credit the artists!

I've read the first three books in the Dune series: Dune, Dune Messiah, and Children of Dune. Three books in 2021. Perhaps I'll finish the three last books during 2022, heh!

Life is going well for me, although it's hectic. I've only got a year and a half left of university. I'm still very motivated, and next semester I have three (count them, three) math courses: Algebra, Geometry, and Analytical Functions. I'm very much looking forward to those!

My family is doing well, and my son is a year and a half old now. He doesn't yet speak, but he knows a few words and he uses hand gestures a lot to communicate. It's wonderful to witness his progress!

It's amazing to me that this is the only news post in all of 2021, and right at the tail end of the year, at that! Oy vey...

September 27, 2020

Behold! The new Books page in its full glory! What's new:

  • When viewing multiple books, you get a sleek overview of the title, front cover (if any) and the series the book is in (if any). For a demonstration of this, see e.g. the Fantasy category or the Space Odyssey series.
  • When viewing a single book, you no longer get a big, ugly table; you get a slightly-less-ugly list (of sorts) with the information about a book sorted more neatly. I also decided to remove the links to various book stores from the ISBN field. For a demonstration of this, see 12 Rules for Life (my latest read).

Being a full-time father and a full-time student, I'm quickly learning to use my spare time efficiently.

September 15, 2020

There was a serious dearth of updates on my web site from 2014 to 2018, and during that time I did read a lot of books, but I mostly didn't bother to write up a synopsis or a review. I added those books to the database in addition to keeping track of them, so here, organized according to theme, are lists of books I've read from 2014 to 2018, with links:

Science fiction:

Other fiction:


With that backlog of stuff no longer hanging over me, onward!

September 11, 2020

I made a bunch of (mostly trivial) quality-of-life improvements to the design of my web site, mostly for visitors on mobile phones.

I also went through every single page, making them conform to the latest specifications of HTML and CSS (which mostly involved finding alternatives to obsolete elements, and fixing small syntax errors). Therefore, the Colophon page no longer lies when it claims that my web site conforms to these standards.

During this sort of janitorial work, I've discovered how much of the content on my site is old! I want to work on having more up-to-date content on my web site (i.e. content that more faithfully reflects my current interests and obsessions), and I don't want to cull too much old stuff, either, which means I have to expand.

September 8, 2020

I spent some time doing janitorial work on the Links page, mostly culling links, but also adding some. I culled...

  • from Games section: 3D Logic, Gridlock, Shyguy's Cave of Death, and TrackMania Nations
  • entire Gaming encyclopedias section
  • from People section: Jean-François Im, Jeff Dee
  • from Science section: Ebon Musings
  • entire Collection sites section (which only consisted of Galbadia Hotel)
  • from deviantART section: PolishPanties
  • entire Four-days-a-week schedule web comic section (which only consisted of Drawing Board)
  • from Haphazard web comic secion: Miscellanea and Nearing Zero
  • from Frozen web comic secion: Concerned and Decorum

In addition, I renamed the link to Massimo Pigliucci's web site Rationally Speaking Podcast, and moved it to the Podcasts section, and renamed the Books section the Literature section, into which I put The Internet Speculative Fiction Database (which I use when researching books for my Books page) and The Pulp Magazines Project (which I mainly use for reading old science fiction).

I have a huge backlog of books to review and add to the database, but I can at least mention the latest book I read, Ralph 124C 41+. (More coming very soon!)

September 7, 2020

My son was born exactly six weeks ago, on the 27th of July, six days after the last update, on the 21st of July, and I've been pretty busy since then. He's pure joy, he doesn't cry a lot, and he only wakes us up once or twice each night, which I'm told is pretty rare. I count myself lucky on that score!

Jovana is doing ok, but she's a bit tired, being the one who has to feed him. I try my best to help her, and it seems we have fallen into a routine now. (The first week was chaos, but not in a bad way!)

If you frequent my web site, you may notice that I've re-styled it a bit. It's not a lot, but it's a little bit more stream-lined now, I think. And a little more mobile- and tablet-friendly.

July 21, 2020

With an update schedule of twice per year (i.e. inbetween semesters), I can only improve!

This semester has been somewhat tumultuous for me — as it has been for all of us, with Covid-19 raging — but at least I've gotten the hang of various digital meeting solutions! And for the last few months Norway has been partly opening up again, so things are slowly going back to normal here.

A few things have been happening in my life. My fiancé Jovana is pregnant! This actually happened almost nine months ago; the due date is 31st of July! (In other words, very soon.) I'm very happy, and a little nervous about it, but for the most part I think we're ready for it. I want to mention this here on my personal web site, but I don't want to post a lot of pictures of The Little One here, and this is something Jovana and I have talked about and are in agreement on. This also means that we won't be posting pictures and videos on Instagram, Facebook, and the like. We want this to be something he (it's a boy, by the way) should be able to decide for himself once he's old enough.

I also got a summer job at my university, which has just ended and lasted four weeks, and was tons of fun! It's an intensive course in mathematics and physics which lasts six weeks (four weeks of mathematics and two weeks of physics) for people who want to enter an engineering course at the university, but don't have high school-equivalent passing grades. Two other students and I were hired to teach these courses. I taught most of the mathematics part, and nothing of the physics part (due to Jovana's due date). It has been a wonderful experience for me, and I've learned a lot from it (from using Beamer to produce LaTeX slides, to different methods of teaching different people, to how to actually use time effectively in front of a podium).

I've also started writing a book! I don't want to say too much about it, not even what it's about, not yet. ;-)

January 8, 2020

My life is massively busy these days, but that doesn't mean I can't update my site once in a while.

Firstly, last semester (fall 2019) I had only two courses, physics (in which I got a D, sadly) and mathematics (in which I got a B, happily).

Secondly, this semester I have three courses: Linear Algebra (mathematics), Relativity & Astrophysics, and Experiments in Physics Education. Everything is in English, which I'm perfectly happy with.

Thirdly, I didn't get cracking on working on the Books page, but oh well.

Really, this update is a way for me to kick-start myself into working more on the site, and not to let too much time pass between each update. Carry on.

July 19, 2019

The second semester (and first year) of my five-year university education is over: four more years to go. I'm very happy. I'm still motivated and I'm still liking it a lot, even though it's hard. The results for this semester are as follows (in ascending order): I got a D in physics (which I'm not at all happy with), a B in mathematics (which I'm thrilled by), and an A in programming (when I got that result, I didn't believe my own eyes and had to triple-check).

In other very happy news, Jovana and I got engaged!

The ring. The ring on the finger. The ring on the finger with two happy campers.

I proposed to her (on my knees, of course) at one of the view points of Lazar's Canyon (the deepest and longest canyon in Serbia, located not far from the city of Bor in Eastern Serbia). The view was breathtaking, the weather was good, and the butterflies were doing somersaults in my stomach. She said yes (not entirely unpredictably). This feels completely surreal to me, but also fantastically natural and wonderful. I love her fully and deeply, and I couldn't be more happy with it. Life is good. Love is good. I'm more content than I've been in years.

February 25, 2019

A follow-up to the previous post, in this post I want to write about the experiment we did at the hotel in Switzerland (at \(430m\) above sea level), and then at the top of Aiguille du Midi in France (at \(3777m\)). The experiment involved a pretty big piece of styrofoam. The reason for choosing this as our material, you might have guessed, is because styrofoam has a very low density. That is, its volume is very big while its mass is very low. Now, the question is this: Will it weigh more, less, or the same at both altitudes?

If you want to ponder this yourself, don't read on! Explanation and solution follow.


You might be thinking that it will weigh less because it is farther from the Earth, and that would be true if gravity was the only force acting on the object, but there's also buoyancy to consider. The density of the air is significantly less at those altitudes than at around sea level (walking up a single flight of stairs can make you short-winded), while the difference in gravity you feel on your body is not at all noticeable. So imagine that the piece of styrofoam is floating on water. The reason it floats is because the water is pretty dense. Now, as the density of the water is reduced, the piece of styrofoam will sink more and more, and when the density is as low as the air at sea level, it will have "sunk" a bit more. Now, imagine reducing the density even more, to the density level at the top of, say, Aiguille du Midi. The styrofoam will "sink" more into the atmoshpere, thus registering a higher weight on a scale! Presumably. If the force of buoyancy more than cancels out the effect of the reduced gravity. And will this be measurable?

In fact, we measured the piece of styrofoam at the hotel to be \(0.381kg\), and at the top to be \(0.388kg\)!

A quick look at some numbers will give you an intuitive understanding of why this might be. Rounding off a bit, an object weighing 1kg at \(430m\) above sea level will accelerate towards the Earth at \(9.819m/s^2\) (ignoring every other force). At \(3777m\) above sea level, the acceleration will be \(9.809m/s^2\). Not a big difference! In contrast, air density at \(430m\) above sea level is around \(1.17kg/m^3\), while at \(3777m\) it's around \(0.84kg/m^3\)! A marked difference, and, as it turned out, enough to more than cancel out the effect of a lesser gravitational pull.

For these values of air density, I simply pulled them from The Engineering ToolBox's page about U.S. Standard Atmosphere, plonked them into GeoGebra, ran a 9th degree polynomial regression analysis on them, got a function expression (just a bunch of polynomials with really, really, really small coefficients), and did \(f(430)\) and \(f(3777)\).

Close-up of graph from x = 430 to x = 3777. Whole graph.

\(f(x) = 0x^9 + 0x^8 + 0x^7 \\ + 0x^6 + 0x^5 + 0x^4 \\- 0.000000000000307x^3 \\+ 0.000000005452006x^2 \\- 0.000118741904987x \\+ 1.223868489811585\)

I am nothing if not thorough! Look at that expression! I have GeoGebra set to display the maximum amount of decimal places, 15, which isn't enough! Ridiculous...

For the values of acceleration, I did a bit of calculating. (Note: For all these calculations I always round off to 3 decimal places.) I used Newton's Law of Universal Gravitation, \(F = G * \frac{m_1 * m_2}{r^2}\), where \(G\) is the gravitational constant (valued at \(6.67408 * 10^{−11}m^{3}kg^{-1}s^{-2}\); see Wikipedia), \(m_1\) is the mass of the smaller object (valued arbitrarily at \(1kg\) for ease of calculation), \(m_2\) is the mass of the larger object (the Earth, valued at \(5.97237 * 10^{24}kg\), see Wikipedia under Mass), and \(r\) is the radius between the centers of mass of the two objects. For the radius of the Earth, I used the mean radius as given on Wikipedia, \(6371km = 6.371 * 10^6m\) (everything in SI units, always, no exceptions). And at \(430m\) above sea level, the distance \(r\) between the two centers of mass is \((6.371 * 10^6 + 430)m = 6.37143 * 10^6m\). Of course, the center of mass of the styrofoam is a few centimeters inside it, but at these scales it hardly matters (and besides, we're only ball-parking it with these values, anyway). So then, calculating the \(F\) (force of gravity, in this case), yields about \(9.819N\) (you can plug the values in yourself), and since \(F = ma \Leftrightarrow a = \frac{F}{m}\), and here is why I chose \(1kg\) for the mass of the smaller object. \(a = \frac{9.819N}{1kg} = 9.819m/s^2\).

A similar calculation for the top of the mountain, except this time the distance \(r\) between the two objects will be slightly larger: \((6.371*10^6 + 3777)m = 6.374777*10{6}m\). Again for ease of calculation, we ignore all other forces and assume the weight is still \(1kg\). This time \(F = 9.809N\), and by the same logic, \(a = 9.809m/s^2\).

See, I know how to show my work!

In other good news, since the beginning of February I've been working part time for Ent3r Realfagstrening, going to three different schools on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, helping younger students with math and physics homework! It's very fun, and it's excellent training for me. Between my own school work and my part time job, I feel massively busy, but not so busy that I can't crank out an update now and again.

January 21, 2019

So I took a trip to the site of the world's largest particle accelerator at CERN. What about it?

Well, it was pretty amazing, is what's about it! My physics class went together with a bunch of students from the local upper secondary school. The purpose of the visit, apart from CERN, was to do some physics experiments first at the hotel we were staying (at 430m above sea level), and then almost at the peak of Aiguille du Midi, at 3777m. The point of the various experiments was to test the effects that lower air density has on weight and sound. But first, CERN!

(This post is heavy on pictures; click on an image to get a bigger version.)

CERN reception.

In front of the reception. Here is a souvenir shop and a museum called Microcosmos, and here we were welcomed and had about an hour of information and questions from the audience.

CERN reception floor.

The floor of the reception area is amazing.

Antimatter Factory.

In front of the Antimatter Factory. Yes, it's exactly as it says on the can: They manufacture antimatter in there.


Inside the Antimatter Factory is ELENA (Extra Low Energy Antiproton), a decelerator for antiprotons, making them easier to trap.

Tim Berners-Lee's computer. Pondering Tim Berners-Lee's computer.

After that we were taken to the Data Centre, to a small museum there overlooking the server farm. I took a lot of pictures, but these two are my prize ones. This is me in front of one of the computers that none other than Tim Berners-Lee used to develop HTTP and HTML, so you can imagine my child-like joy in taking these two pictures! (The guide jokingly suggested I lick the mouse. I jokingly pretended to consider it!)


Next we were taken inside ALICE (A Large Ion Collider Experiment), one out of four points on the LHC (Large Hadron Collider) ring where the particles actually collide. I was really hoping we would be able to visit the inside of the LHC tunnel itself, but alas, the guide told me security had been tightened in the last few years, and even if he could, he wouldn't be able to open up the door leading to it. So, the next best thing...

The door leading to the world's largest particle accelerator. In front of the door leading to the world's largest particle accelerator.

... was to take my picture next to it. Right behind those doors lies the tunnel which houses the world's largest particle accelerator, measuring 27 km in circumference! So close...

And for the last volley of pictures, here are a bunch of photos I took of a sculpture called Wandering the Immesurable:

Wandering the Immesurable 1. Wandering the Immesurable 2. Wandering the Immesurable 3. Wandering the Immesurable 4. Wandering the Immesurable 5. Wandering the Immesurable 6. Wandering the Immesurable 7.

Last, but not least, my good friend Even visited me this past weekend, and we had a blast! We also decided to do a synchronous update of our respective web sites, but I was a bit late. But out of pure whimsy we decided to take a picture of each other from our phones at the exact same time (see his post for my picture):

Visit from Even.

December 27, 2018

Life is going remarkably well for me, better than I could have imagined five years ago.

I didn't get into NMBU in Ås, but I did get into USN (Universitetet i Sør-Øst Norge, The University of South-Eastern Norway) in Kongsberg! I'm enrolled in a five year course called LUR, Lektorutdanning Realfag (science teacher). I've finished my first semester, getting two C's (in pedagogy and mathematics) and a B (in physics, which I would have never believed), and I'm happy with the results, with the lesson being that I can get better in those two subjects. I've gotten to know a few of the people in my class, and I think we're a great bunch of people, and I'm looking forward to spending nine more semesters with them. During this semester we've also been two weeks at a local "Ungdomsskole" (ages 13-16) to get to know what it's like to be a practicing teacher. I quite liked that experience, and I had two sessions of mathematics with a class without assistance, something we weren't required to do, but I thought it would be fun. I think I did alright.

Next semester I have mathematics, physics, and programming. Am I looking forward to it? You bet!

Jovana and I. Jovana and I. Jovana and I.

I've known Jovana Ikić for a little over a year now (in fact, I'm writing this news update from her apartment in Serbia while she's asleep next to me), and we are utterly and deeply in love. She lives in Serbia and I live in Norway, but we are planning to move together when she finishes her internship at a local psychiatry ward. She is on her last year of a Master's Degree in psychology, and she is way smarter than she has any right to be! (I won't make a joke about getting free therapy sessions.) I first visited her in february 2018 for a week, then in the summer of 2018 for twenty days, and now I'm in Serbia again for the Christmas and New Years holidays. Among other things, we had a wonderful four days in Sarajevo (about five hours by bus from where she lives). See my Instagram for pictures.

I swear I will get around to a proper update on books I've read, and I swear I will be working on revamping the Books page. Sometime before the end of 2019 (I have to be realistic!).

March 22, 2018

I'm not dead, nor have I given up on my web site, contrary to the looks of things. (I'm referring, of course, to the fact that there has been no news update for almost four years!)

In short (and in vague terms) I've focused on cleaning up some things in my personal life, in addition to focusing on my social life. I might elaborate in detail about all of this, but for now I'm not really comfortable talking about it on my public web site for the world to see.

I have some site-related updates, but I'm saving them for another time: Right now I really just want to push out a news update to give myself an incentive to keep going with this. I do still have great plans for expanding and remaking the entire site, especially the Books page.

In my real life, quite a lot of things are happening. If all goes according to plan I will be enrolling in a five-year course at NMBU in Ås, at the end of which I will be a science teacher. I have been working part time as a substitute teacher in mathematics at a local high school (or the rough Norwegian equivalent thereof) for a bit over two years now, during which time I discovered that this is something I really enjoy doing. My life is taking unexpected, but good, turns!

In other awesome news, I am completely and utterly in love with a wonderful Serbian woman whom I've known for almost half a year now. We are both deeply in love, in fact, and it looks like it's going to last. I'm very, very happy about this! She is smart, attractive, attentive and loving, and I would soon run out of adjectives if I were to heap them on. Naturally I'm learning Serbian, albeit slowly! :-P

More to come. Watch this space.

September 29, 2014

A Wilburer has been lurking in my inbox for five years, and has now been correctly relocated to its proper place. What am I talking about?

August 25, 2014

I finished reading part 1 of the roving mad adventures of the Knight of the Rueful Countenance (Don Quixote, he of the windmills). Being somewhat tired of that, I'm postponing part 2 for another time. In the meantime I will read other things, my busy (heh) schedule permitting.

I have linked to an extremely fun (and free) racer called Nitronic Rush. Why don't you go play it?

The wheel is turning and you can't slow down. / You can't let go and you can't hold on. / You can't go back and you can't stand still. / If the thunder don't get you then the lightnin' will.

July 29, 2014

What's up, you ask? Enjoying life, I answer.

There's a heat wave sweeping over Norway, which means taking a walk in the day is out of the question, so I've been taking late evening walks when it's cool enough to do so. I don't feel like writing much in this heat, but I'll give an update of the books I've read recently, in category form.

Science fiction:

Other fiction:


"Hidden so deep in veils of deceit, imprisoned in twisting spells. / Are we the plaything of fiends, or merely the dreams that we're telling ourselves, telling ourselves?"

March 6, 2014

My web site is now much more mobile-friendly. I've taken advantage of CSS Media Queries to apply custom styling for "desktops" (width above 800 pixels), "tablets" (width between 500 and 800 pixels) and "mobile" (width below 500 pixels). To see the effects of this, if you're on a desktop, change the width of the browser window until the changes kick in. Immediately you'll notice the navigation bar changing and various margins and padding becoming smaller to compensate for smaller screen real estate, but there are a lot of subtle changes here and there. I'm still working on making this better. Most conspicuously, tables still look horrible on smaller screens and the Books page needs more work.

There is also a scroll-to-top button in the bottom right corner of the screen (if you scroll below a certain level).

I have a lot of updates. More another day.

June 9, 2013

I've finally gotten into a good reading groove, and I've managed to read a bunch of books. The Reason-Driven Life, Bad Science, Plato and a Platypus Walk Into a Bar..., The Hunting of the Snark, Odd John, The Abominable Earthman, and Cosmos. I also read two Clarke books, The Songs of Distant Earth and Imperial Earth, and bought a couple of more that I'm planning on reading very soon. I also read a short manga series, Uzumaki, and I'm currently reading some others (which I'll hopefully complete soon).

I spent some time pruning the books database, culling irrelevant books or books with poor reviews, or simply books with no review which I plan on re-reading and giving a proper one.

I also noticed a horrendous mistake on the Books page which has been there since the beginning: manga books would have their cover images (back and front) reversed for the simple reason that they're read from "back" to "front"! (These are relative terms, of course.) That was a silly mistake, and it's fixed now.

And I added a link to Ektoplazm, an excellent repository of free music (of varying quality, but a lot of it is good).

January 30, 2013

I spent an hour fixing something on my Books page that's been bugging me for a long time: You can now toggle the visibility of the contents of books when there are multiple books being displayed, independently (example), whereas before it was limited to one book (when multiple books were displayed you'd get a permalink to that book's own page).

Amazing, right?

January 18, 2013

I read the Scott Pilgrim series of comics and watched the movie of it, both of which I found mildly entertaining.

I did some minor janitorial work here and there on the site.

There's a cold wave sweeping over this part of Norway, which means I get to take far fewer walks than I'd like to.

Do I blog?

Something I forgot to mention which happened a few months back: I got a job working for a company called Etrip as a programmer, which explains the dearth of updates.

November 30, 2012

I converted all the PHP code that deals with databases (which mostly means the Archive and the Books page, but some other places too) from the MySQL (procedural) way of doing things to the MySQLi (OO) way of doing things. Right now, there's no difference, but I want to eventually take advantage of some of the advanced features of MySQLi (like prepared statements). Rummaging through my code, I found a lot of other things that could be improved, but what I really want to do, when I have a good chunk of free time available, is rewrite my entire damned site. In the meantime, if you find something that's horribly broken, please contact me.

November 7, 2012

I've read two Bradbury novels, Dandelion Wine and its sequel, Farewell Summer. They were sadly only moderately good. I've also done some minor janitorial work on the Books page. Nothing major, just small patches here and there. I have great plans for that page, and the way the code is structured now, I'm hoping that extending its functionality will be a breeze.

For the past few weeks I've been learning JavaScript and jQuery side-by-side, representing my first (real) foray into "Web 2.0" (I insist on using quotation marks around that and I reserve my right to do so for quite some time). I've also toyed around with AJAX, and hopefully some of what I've learned will be applied here.

October 8, 2012

I return from the dead!

Hopefully this'll be last of the long (really long) hiatuses. The reasons for my extended absence are manifold, but in short, I've suffered a serious lack of inspiration and initiative. Since the last post my plan had been to again set up an RSS feed, but I discovered that there's no set standard for it, and so I simply gave that up, not wanting to choose between several competing standards and conventions and whatnot. Besides, my web site isn't a newsletter, right?

So in the preceeding year I've actually managed to read some books. I'll simply list them:

This is an abominable rate, I know. I am also painfully aware of the fact that my reviews are short and not that informative. The problem is that I don't immediately review the books I read right after I've read them, when they're fresh in my mind. But then again, if there wasn't room for improvement, where would the fun be?

I've got some stuff in the works, though. Doing nothing is boring, and I'm bored of being bored.

July 23, 2012


July 5, 2011

I worked on a simple substitution cipher. I'll work some more on it, and maybe make a little game out of it.

I also finished those door-stoppers!

And I read three novels:

June 19, 2011

I added explanations for the fields that a book might have.

June 18, 2011

I added some more special browsing criteria to the Books page. The neat thing about having a relational database like this working like a charm (as it now finally does) is that you can view your data in all kinds of interesting ways. As an example of this, check out The Internet Speculative Fiction Database (which I discovered in the course of properly cataloging my science fiction books and which is a tremendously useful tool).

And of course, I've read some more books:

I realize that many books lack a synopsis and a review, and that those that have them have very short ones. This will probably get fixed when I re-read some of those books. You see, I have qualms about making my mind up about a book while I'm reading it (or just after I'm finished). If I don't digest it properly, I don't trust my own opinion on it. Better to do a proper review than a hasty one, I think.

May 31, 2011

May 26, 2011

I redesigned the underlying code of my Books page, making it cleaner and more easily maintainable. As an unforeseen by-product of this, the two bugs which have been bugging me for some time (the Multiple Role Bug and the String Length Restriction Bug, as I call them) magically vanished! Also, browsing by category or author (or more generally, by any method which requires many-to-many tables to be joined) used to mean that under each book, only the category/author under consideration would show (even though a book might be written by many authors or be in many categories); no more! And there's a new feature: For all non-book views on the main page, you get the number of books in a category in parenthesis.

The Multiple Role Bug meant that for books where some authors had roles (editor, illustrator, translator, etc.), I'd get two sets of roles. (Example: The Solaris Book of New Science Fiction.) I had this fixed with a kludge, deleting every other role. However, this worked most places, but not all. It turned out that I'd get n sets of roles, where n is the number of categories in which a book is (most books are in two categories).

The String Length Restriction Bug would cut off the comma-separated strings containing the authors' names and ids long before its actual limit was reached, so that anthology books with lots of contributing authors were bungled. (Example: Dangerous Visions.) I never could figure out how to fix it.

However, I looked at my database queries, and designed them a little more logically. Before, I had one master query per view (by category, by series, single books, special criteria, etc.) and sent along GROUP_CONCAT()s for author names, ids, and roles, and for category names and ids, and then had my home-grown print_book() function work on the strings. Now, I do two separate queries inside the function to fish out author and category information, so that instead of one massive and unwieldy master query, I have three smaller ones. The lesson? Don't be afraid to use several queries.

I'm so happy with the way it works now that in a spirit of why-not-ism I added all the rest of my books to the database. So in the future when I've read a book, making it appear in the various views is as easy as flipping a boolean value. This should serve as an incentive to read more books (something I've really been neglecting lately).

May 19, 2011

Opera 11.11 was just released, supporting CSS3 columns, and so I implemented columns on my Books page. Doesn't it look much nicer?

There are also some book updates, but I'm postponing them for another update.

January 23, 2011

I read (and even reviewed, by the gods!) a whopping two books: The Martian Chronicles and Infidel: My Life. I also listened to The Moral Landscape, which is pending a real review. And I found an awesome Clarke story that I transcribed, The Possessed.

As for my excuse for the drought of updates, I blame it on the exceedingly addictive game Minecraft in conjunction with the immensely interesting lectures of Terence McKenna and Alan Watts (both of whose output is substantial, so it's been a huge time sink). Well. Now I'm finally trying to be more productive, and perhaps I'll even finish some of my door-stopper books (I have some collections from Clarke, Poe, Lovecraft, and Conan Doyle that I've been reading in from time to time that I'd like to finish).

October 30, 2010

I spent the last few days painstakingly rummaging through my books, transcribing their structure (in most cases this means their table of contents). Incidentally, this represents my first forays into JavaScript (or more specifically, the library jQuery). It gracefully degrades (meaning that it at least doesn't break for people browsing without JavaScript support), but I'm ambivalent about the fact that it displays the structure by default for non-JavaScript browsers. As an example, check out 2001. The [Toggle visibility] button exhibits the JavaScript magic. I'm pretty satisfied with how it works, overall. (So far it only works while displaying single books. I'll try to work that out.)

My vision for the Books page is to simply let it grow, hopefully into a big and useful online library, for my own (and hopefully your) delight. But before that, there are many bugs and wrinkles that must be ironed out. I suspect I'll have to meander into the dark, scary forest of "Web 2.0" for that.

October 27, 2010

My dearest sister and (I dare say) life-long friend, Irina Therese, has given birth to two wonderful twin girls, Mathilde and Nicoline, whom I already love to death. The sensation of being an uncle is a weird and wonderful one, and I cherish every moment of it. May you find bliss and happiness!

In site-related news, I went through the Books page and re-scanned the poor scans (since I started scanning the fronts, spines, backs, and, where applicable, dust-cover flaps of my books, I've learned some tricks), and in the same swoop updated the default height of the scans from 700 to 1000 pixels. (My policy now is, "1000 pixels in height, more if the situation calls for it". At the least, all text should be legible, even if the text is part of the cover art; as an example, the letters in the DNA illustration on the front of Richard Dawkins' book The Ancestor's Tale are perfectly legible.) I also read a number of books, although I haven't gotten through the doorstoppers as I'd planned. I re-read and scanned The Blind Watchmaker in addition to reading and giving a review to The Greatest Show on Earth. I listened to the three audio books of George Carlin, Brain Droppings, Napalm and Silly Putty, and When Will Jesus Bring the Pork Chops. All of these will get reviews when I've read them (this seems to be evolving as another policy of mine). I did the same with Bart Ehrman's books Misquoting Jesus and The Lost Gospel of Judas Iscariot; these will also get reviews when I've read them. I also read Livingstone: Oppdageren — Forskeren — Misjonæren, The Man in His High Castle, The Sex Revolts, American Poetry: An Introductory Anthology, and The Blank Slate.

I linked to Micrographia, the book that made the word "cell" famous (I haven't read it myself, but the illustrations are awesome), Notepad++ (my new favorite text editor), DOSBox (a DOS emulator), and two gaming wikis, KeenWiki and Minepedia (caveat lector: it is extremely easy to get addicted to this game).

As for future updates, I will really, really, really try to make them more timely. Really. I mean it this time.

May 9, 2010

I've read a slew of books: The Tyrannosaurus Prescription, Words in Genesis, The Greatest Show on Earth (only the audio book, but as soon as I've read the real book I'll review it), Frankenstein, Lord of the Flies, The Solaris Book of New Science Fiction: Volume Two, Lake of the Dead, Breaking the Spell, The Stars, Like Dust, and Deception Point. I have a couple of doorstopper books (mostly anthologies) that I plan on reading next. (I've started on several of them.)

I updated my Links page with a single game: Knytt. It's a wonderful little game; if you like it, you'll probably like its cousin games, too.

February 5, 2010

I removed the link to The Aristophrenium. David Smart, who started the blog, wanted to have an all-Christian staff, and he kindly asked me to step down, to which I agreed. It was a fun experiment; it was primarily an outlet for me to try my hand at essay-writing, and I'd like to start something similar again sometime. (My old essays are still there, and David says he'll let them be.)

More to come soon.

September 15, 2009

Since last time, quite a few things have happened. I've moved and now live with four other people, I've started at university studying the English language and Her literature, I've quit my job at the convenience store (KIWI) and gotten a part-time job at a book store (Notabene), and I've broken the pinky on my left hand (I've operated and had my hand in a cast for a few weeks, but the cast is off now). Between the mishap of a broken proximal phalanx and the tumult of moving I've actually worked quite a bit on my web site. In particular I now link to uniformly-formatted versions of the Essays I've collected with a link to its source. I formatted everything almost entirely by hand, which took a while, except that I relied heavily on the spell checker and regular expression capabilities of TextPad. Also, I've added two new essays: An eclipse? It's my kind of magic (Dawkins) and Metacrap (Cory Doctorow) and two short stories, Carcinoma Angels (Norman Spinrad) and Shall the Dust Praise Thee? (Damon Knight).

I've read Dangerous Visions, The God Particle, and Words of Science. I'm planning on reading many more books, and in preparation for that I scanned the covers of all the rest of my books which I haven't yet read, so that I don't have to do that when I've read them.

I linked to two small Flash games, This is the Only Level and Achievement Unlocked, which mercilessly mocks the pointlessness and strange addictiveness of Achievements (for the 360) and Trophies (for the PS3) in lieu of the real game (I have fallen prey to this myself, but am slowly breaking my addiction). I also linked to Doomsday, an emulator for Doom (among other games).

July 21, 2009

I added publisher information to my books, and started scanning my covers (front, back, spine, and in a few hardcover cases, the flaps of the dust jacket). I should be done with the scans pretty soon as I'm not Photoshopping them much. I don't remove creases, sticker smudge, and the like. I might do that in the future, though, when I have more free time on my hands than I currently have.

July 14, 2009

I added a series system to my Books page and assigned every applicable book to a series. I'm not entirely sure I've done every book correctly; there are many disagreements and there are many hard-core fans, so there are many ways to do it. I've toyed with the idea of also assigning every book with a series to a universe, where series is a subset of (and completely enclosed by) universe. For instance, Ringworld is now in the Known Space series, but arguably that's the Known Space universe, where the series is the eponymous Ringworld series. And to further complicate things, authors sometimes merge series, as in Asimov's Robot series which merges into the Empire series which merges into the Foundation series. Some people even sub-divide the Foundation series into Pre-Foundation, Foundation, and End-Foundation. And then there's the problem of parallel series, as in Orson Scott Card's Ender's Game novels, which run parallel to his Ender's Shadow novels. And all of those combined might be said to reside in the Enderverse. Oy vey!

July 11, 2009

I went through every post and updated the links to suit my new Books page scheme. Now, every link to a book is a permalink. Also, I've thought of some new features for the page which I'll incorporate in the next few days.

July 9, 2009

My new and spiffy Books page is up. Shiny! It now works approximately like I want it to. In particular, I haven't yet figured out how to make it display books that are in the intersection of a set of categories; instead, it currently spews forth books that are a result of the union of that set. So, if I'd want to display only SF anthologies, my Books page would list all books in the category "Science fiction" and all books in the category "Anthology". I get all my SF anthologies, plus a bunch of books I'm not interested in. It does this for some reason, and I have a strong hunch that the same reason is behind another annoying "feature" (bug) of my Books page. Namely, books that are in several categories will only show the category (or categories) currently selected. I suspect that I'll solve both of these deficiencies in one fell swoop.

So, with a working books page, here are the books I've read recently: Climbing Mount Improbable, The Ancestor's Tale, and The Old Man and the Sea. The URLs are now pretty nice, aren't they? I dread having to go through the entire archive and fit the previous posts' mentioning of books to this new scheme, something I'll force myself to do. Soon.

Nowadays I don't discover many new good web comics, but one recently trickled in: Drawing Board.

Pollen and heat are making my life pretty miserable. Fortunately, I have medicine for the former and a desktop fan for the latter, though they only partially mitigate the horrors. Bleah.

May 29, 2009

I made a table out of the navigation bar. I think it might work better than a list, though it's still far from the best way of doing things.

I'm going away for a week but when I get back I want to make a really awesome Books page, though I think I'll have to learn more about databases before I can really get started. (So far all my database tables have been "flat" and not "relational" — I think that's the correct terminology — which means that they could just as well have been in a flat .txt file or in the HTML source itself. With my rewrite of Books I plan to have two tables, one for the books and one for the authors, which means it will be easier to list by author or title. My previous incarnation of Books did this, it's true, but you should have seen the code...)

May 25, 2009

Hello, world!

James Blair, whom I met ages ago on IRC, has hosted my pages for about a year and a half now, and I should like to thank him for hosting them for me for free all this time. I should like to doubly thank him, because when moving web space and host I completely forgot to back up my database, and Blair kindly went and retrieved all my data for me (silly me). Now, they are hosted by one.com and the new canonical address is http://hermiene.net/, rendering the old one, http://havard.awegasm.net/, obsolete (although that address still forwards to the new one). Most of the stuff on my site is up and running properly, but a few things still remain to be fixed, most conspicuously the Archive and the Books pages (I will be working on this in the coming days).

I've read The End of Faith and View From a Height, and reviews of these will come as soon as I've rewritten the Books page.

I've transcribed another essay, The Modern Demonology (Asimov), and linked to another one, Elephants' Wings (PZ Myers). I've also transcribed two more short stories, Evensong (Lester del Rey) and The Malley System (Miriam Allen deFord).

April 6, 2009

My posts usually take the form of a changelog, but this time I'm doing something a tiny bit different. I've lived with Even for over half a year, and when we moved in one of the silly little things we wanted to do (and did once) was to update our respective blogs at the same time, and we're doing just that now. And so for this post, I'll simply tell you about a few of the things I know that I find pretty awesome (saving the real updates, of which there actually are a lot, for next time).

The Feynman point (after the famous American physicist Richard Feynman) is the 762nd decimal number of pi, which is a 9, and which is followed by five more 9s (this is the first time in the pi sequence that six consecutive digits occur). Feynman said he wanted to memorize digits of pi that far so that he could say, "Nine nine nine nine nine nine, and so on."

Salvador Dali's brother died nine months before Dali himself was born, and once when Dali was five, his father took him to the cemetery to his brother's grave. He told him that he (Salvador) was a reincarnation of his brother, and Dali came to believe it. "We resembled each other like two drops of water, but we had different reflections," Dali said. He "was probably a first version of myself but conceived too much in the absolute."

The Shepard scale (named after Roger Shepard, an American cognitive scientist) is a peculiar auditory illusion. A sound is played and it sounds as though the pitch descends (or ascends), but in reality it stays the same. The illusion works for both discrete and continuous notes (YouTube links).

Sun dogs, or parhelia (from Greek words meaning "mock suns"), are false suns in the sky, and they usually come in pairs (example).

"If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, infinite. For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things thro' narrow chinks of his cavern."

March 15, 2009

I transcribed two Asimov essays that I'd put off (they're in Robot Visions which I read a while back), The New Teachers and Whatever You Wish. I also took local copies of all the essays I've linked to on my Essays page, in case they ever disappear.

I have a slew of old SF movies to watch. Can you believe I haven't yet watched THX 1138 and only recently watched The Day the Earth Stood Still? I also discovered Buster Keaton, whose whole collection of movies I now have.

"Swimming in a raindrop, tasting all the colors. Walking on the wind, walking on the wind."

March 10, 2009

I'm going to try to avoid turning this post into Another Grocery List Update (AGLU) by first and foremost getting the AGLU out of the way.

I recently (and by "recently" I mean "two weeks ago") went on an Amazon shopping spree, buying lots of books. I've only read two of them, Richard Dawkins' River Out of Eden and Ian Steward's Letters to a Young Mathematician, and they are fantastic. I'm now simultaneously reading Harlan Ellison's Dangerous Visions (an SF short story anthology from which I collect and transcribe stories I like) and Steven Pinker's The Blank Slate (which, sadly, isn't a page-turner for me, but which is still a book I'd like to have read). I hope to finish them pretty soon (and by "pretty soon" I mean "in not more than one month").

You might notice the Google search bar. My site is becoming fairly large, and I've gotten requests to add one. You request, I oblige. Whenever I've needed something from my site which I didn't know where was (a rarity) I've simply googled site:havard.awegasm.net, but this search bar should make that method of doing things obsolete.

I also did some slight maintenance on the Nonogram and Games pages. I cleaned up the writing in Nonogram, correcting some slight mistakes and rewording things to make them more obvious, and I wrote a bit about the latest Prince of Persia game for the Games page. I also made a new page, Net, dedicated to the fascinatingly simple yet strangely addictive game net.

And for the last piece of AGLU, I slammed two new links into the Links page: TV Tropes (a wiki of media tropes) and MildlyHotPeppers (a web comic).

I'll give you a little treat. Did you know how Asimov met Ellison? Let Asimov explain. See? Those are the kinds of neat little stories I love so much and which get told so seldom.

For my next update, you might see (but I don't promise!) another page. Be patient.

February 14, 2009

My parents invited me to an art exhibition where all the pieces were made by psaligraphy, which is paper cutting. The pieces were encased in double sheets of transparent glass, which made the images I took rather poor because of glare. (Viewing them in person is no problem.) Every piece is exquisite, and making them is extremely time consuming (for the biggest piece in the exhibition the artist, Karen Bit Vejle, spent two months in preparation and half a year in execution).

My good friend Kai managed, out of the blue, to become a Wilburer! I mention Wilbur every once in a while, in vague terms and blurry evasions. This time, it's no different. Hey, if I flat out told you what I'm talking about, it wouldn't be a challenge, now would it?

January 13, 2009

After I'd updated yesterday, a friend of mine commented that it was "yet another grocery list update". This is too true! My "blog" (as I jokingly refer to it) is more a changelog than a creative output, and this is for semi-conscious reasons (the pages themselves should be the real stars of the show).

A while ago I met (by E-mail) and befriended a man from Canada named David Smart, who runs Itinerarium Mentis, and he invited me to become a contributor to Aristophrenium, a newly-founded blog of his. That's a blog, a proper blog, and I want to try my hand at it. Notice that unlike most blogs (which are chronological and about events) and unlike my "blog" (which is a changelog and about my hobbies), Aristophrenium will be about ideas (or at least, that's my hope). It will be my creative output for writing, something more permanent than IRC (which is the bit bucket into which most of my writing is thrown).

January 12, 2009

I return from the swamp of real life with lots of news.

Since my last post I've been through a horribly failed relationship and switched jobs (my day job is now at my local convenience store, KIWI). I hope I get the hang of the Art of Girlfriendery soon, because I'm beginning to learn that I'm miserable without a partner (even though the relationship failed it still felt nice to have someone to hold). So what do I do about my predicaments? I bury them under a heap of things which keep me busy (I first learned this technique from Thomas Jefferson, and it works). So on to the things which make life (or at least mine) pleasurable:

I finished reading Dawkins' The Oxford Book of Modern Science Writing, and I extracted some more essays from it. I also read I. Asimov: A Memoir, Asimov's third (!) autobiography (I want to read his two previous ones) and from it I learned that he's written a string of books in the vein of Words from the Myths (Words from the Exodus and Words of Science and the History behind Them for example), which I will definitely read. I've linked to the famous book Kunstformen der Natur (Artforms of Nature) but I haven't read it (I don't know German well enough). However, there are tons of pretty, high-resolution images, which are absolutely wonderful. I also bought a huge hardback volume of all of Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories and I'm paying keen attention when I read, looking for that phrase, "Elementary, my dear Watson", which, apparently, is found nowhere in the stories.

I've populated my Essays page with more essays. They are "Seven Wonders" (Lewis Thomas), an extract from The Periodic Table (Primo Levi), "Can We Really Know the Universe?" (Sagan), "A Skeptical View of Karl Popper" (Martin Gardner), and "Mr. X" (Sagan), all thoroughly excellent in their own ways.

I learned of (and linked to) two excellent web comics, AmazingSuperPowers and A Lesson Is Learned But The Damage Is Irreversible.

I'm coming around to liking the PS3 a lot better than the 360. It's a common enough comment that the 360 has more fun games, and I accept that to a degree, but I really like the PS3's Trophy system a lot better than the 360's Achievement system. On the 360 all of your Achievements give you Gamer Points, which are accumulated into one big heap. The PS3's trophies, by comparison, are divided into four categories, scaled by difficulty of attainment: bronze, silver, gold, and platinum (usually given when all other trophies are collected). In addition, your profile levels up as you collect trophies, making for a neat RPG meta-game (I like to say that I don't play PS3 games, I play PS3). I've thrown up my PSN handle (Hermiene) on the Contact page.

On my Links page I've linked to Jeff Dee, Golly, and The Vault. Also, there are no longer images on the page.

I've played a number of games, but Fallout 3 has been my obsession.

In LittleBigPlanet I've gotten all trophies but the ones requiring you to build levels and play community levels. I want to sink some time into doing just that, but I need a good idea for a level. The community levels which are there already, however, are truly excellent.

I played Gears of War 2 with Even all the way through in co-op mode, which was epic. GoW 2 is just more of the same from GoW, but if you like the original you'll love the sequel.

The reason I bought Dead Space, I admit, was because of the name of the protagonist, Isaac Clarke. (Wouldn't it sound lame, by the way, if he was named Arthur Asimov?) It's an ok game, but not as scary as it could have been. System Shock 2 is still the king of the scary derelict spaceships hill. One of the damning points of the game is that it has such awesome zero-g, yet there's so little of it. (I have all the trophies for it.)

The ill-named Prince of Persia is pretty fun for a while, but the highlight of the series is still PoP 3D and The Two Thrones. There's nothing truly memorable in Prince of Persia the way there is in PoP 3D (climbing the huge dirigible) and The Two Thrones (climbing the Tower of Babel). The newest game does have awesome banter, though. (I have all the trophies for it.)

Now, Fallout 3 is truly epic. I've finished it once, playing Good (reaching about level 15), and I'm now playing it again, playing Evil (I've reached level 20, which is the level cap, and I have the Explorer perk, which gives me all the Map Markers). The Capital Wasteland (post-apocalyptic Washinton D.C.) is huge and there are so many places to explore that I didn't know about on my first playthrough, when I lacked the Explorer perk. The only complaint I have is that because it's so huge and you spend so much time wandering around, the radio channels you normally have available to you (Galaxy News Radio and Enclave Radio) quickly become boring (though on the positive side I now know many of the songs GNR plays by heart, and I love them). Fallout 3 really captures the atmosphere of a broken humanity struggling to rebuild, especially because of the cities, which are ad-hoc but plausible (one is built out of scrap metal from an abandoned air strip around an un-detonated nuclear bomb, another is built on the slope of a broken bridge, a third is built in the corridors of a split hangar ship).

As for my plan to install XP, Vista, and Ubuntu on my RAID-ed machine, that didn't pan out because I don't trust RAID to be stable. My current plan is instead to wait until SSD becomes cheap, and triple-boot from that.

"The love the liveliest, the life the loveliest."

September 19, 2008

I added sorting to the Essays and Short Stories.

I'm reading Richard Dawkins' latest book, The Oxford Book of Modern Science Writing, which is an anthology of essays or extracts from books written by scientists themselves about science, as opposed to written by non-scientists, and it's excellent. So excellent, in fact, that I've taken the liberty of linking to "On Being the Right Size" (Haldane), "One Self" (Nicholas Humphrey), and an extract from Man in the Universe (Hoyle). As I continue reading, I'm sure I'll add more. (I also added another Gould essay not from the Dawkins anthology, "Size and Shape".)

I've split off the Gaming section of my Links page because it's getting crowded. I added a section for Emulation, and added links to PlayGuy and Gens, a Game Boy and Sega Genesis emulator, respectively. At first I abused the save states something fierce, but I soon discovered that the games are much more enjoyable if one doesn't do that. As a gesture of defiant anachronism, however, I'll continue using my 360 controller, because God damn it, it's such a good controller and I don't care what anybody says. I also added a link to GameFAQs, something I should've done a long time ago.

Oh, and that whole Chrome thang. I added a link to that too.

Did you play Spore yet? I was immensely disappointed. It's sort of interesting at first, but it hypes itself up and then doesn't deliver. No, give me GTA4 instead.

"I cannot accept your canon that we are to judge Pope and King unlike other men with a favourable presumption that they did no wrong. If there is any presumption, it is the other way, against the holders of power, increasing as the power increases. Historic responsibility has to make up for the want of legal responsibility. Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men."

August 24, 2008

Good news!

I now live with Even and Uy, two of my best friends. We live on the upper two floors of an apartment (a lady and her child live on the first floor) and have been living here for a week (getting settled in can take some time). Even has pictures.

After many failed attempts I've now gotten RAID set up on my computer! (It was failing to boot. I tried using a secondary RAID setup program in the BIOS, I tried flashing the BIOS, and I tried removing all disks but the ones I was going to set up. After a week of this, that last thing succeeded. So if you are trying to use RAID, the key insight is to remove all disks but the ones you plan to use for RAID. Maybe this is basic knowledge, but it kept me busy for a week, so I can't imagine I'm the only one wrestling with this.) I have two 150 GB WD Raptor disks in striping. Striping means that you split every file into as many parts as you have disks, and distribute them on all the disks. Since I have two disks, an 8MB file will be split in two and while the first 4 megabytes of the file is fetched from the first disk, the second 4 megabytes is fetched from the second disk. The result is blinding speed, but at the cost of risking loss of all data. (If one disk fails, half the data is gone and hence every file will be corrupted. If I had more disks I would use a parity disk, and the magic of XOR gates would solve all my problems.) Now to set up triple-boot with XP, Vista, and Ubuntu.

I've greatly looked forward to Geometry Wars 2 and it does pretty much everything right. In particular, I'm still amazed that it's possible to make a song that is exactly three minutes in duration!

The Links page has three new links: Bjørn Lynne (music), Aural Planet (music), and Encyclopedia Hiigara (encyclopedia). The Computer page was getting stale, so I removed it (the next time I do a complete rebuild of my computer, which I can't afford to now, I'll give it a cool name and a shiny new page).

Amazingly, I've read a book. It's the well-known The Prince by Machiavelli, and I didn't particularly like it, for about the same reasons I don't particularly like the Old Testament. Admittedly the OT is like throwing a hundred kittens into a blender while The Prince is like throwing only one, but that doesn't make it a nice thing to do.

To my delight and surprise, there are two new Wilburers, and in quick succession at that. If you don't know what that means then I suggest you go spelunking.

"Men seldom make passes
At girls who wear glasses."

July 23, 2008

I bought an HTC Touch cellphone and noticed that my site looked horrible on it, so I whipped together some CSS to make it somewhat readable. It succeeded, but only browsers that obey the "handheld" CSS media type gets it. Aggravatingly this excludes IE. Thankfully it includes Opera Mobile.

I made this update with the phone's stylus, and now my hand hurts. I don't recommend it.

July 20, 2008

In my long absence I've been reading a lot, and in that course I discovered quite a lot of neato Essays. They are "Politics and the English Language" (Orwell), "The Dragon In My Garage" (Sagan), "Twelve Virtues of Rationality" (Yudkowsky), "The Median Isn't The Message" (Gould), "September 11, 1901" (also Gould), "1967" (the name was given ad hoc since it was Russell's last and he didn't name it), "Is Google Making Us Stupid?" (Nicholas Carr), "A Godless Ramble Against the Ditherings of Theologians" (PZ Myers), and "Planet of the Hats" (also Myers). I've also read a lot of short SF stories, some of which I've transcribed and linked to in Short Stories: "If I Forget Thee, Oh Earth...", "History Lesson", "Expedition to Earth" (all three by Clarke), and "Counter Charm" (Peter Phillips). As for books, I've read The Zombie Survival Guide and Expedition to Earth (an anthology book from which I took the Clarke stories).

I cleaned up the Links page a bit, culling dead links and adding some new ones (tools, a deviant artist, The Jefferson Hour, and Cave Story Deluxe). I did the same with my books; I deleted reviews that were only descriptions and didn't contain a recommendation. Sometime I will have to re-read all those and make proper reviews.

As for games, Shadowgrounds and its sequel Shadowgrounds Survivor are awesome (and cheap), available from Steam. The first game has a truly unconventional ending and the second one has interesting protagonists. Apart from that, virtually all my gaming time has been sunk into Ninja Gaiden II. I have all the achievements for it except the one for clearing the game on Path of the Master Ninja. (Which is unfairly difficult. You will have to try it to understand and those who have will nod their weary necks in painful recognition.) So I've updated my little Ninja Gaiden Miscellanea section.

Finally, there's a new item in the Random page's Fun section, Trace Elements. Feel free to send me corrections and suggestions!

Here are some pretty pictures.

  • Malurus cyaneus. A wren (Malurus cyaneus).
  • Sympetrum flaveolum. A Yellow-winged Darter (Sympetrum flaveolum).
  • Parrots. Pretty parrots!
  • Osprey refueling. An MV-22 Osprey refueling.
  • Seven Sisters. A cluster of mountains in Helgeland, Norway called The Seven Sisters (De Syv Søstre in Norwegian). There are actually quite a few geographical formations in the world called this. For instance, some chalk cliffs in England.

"The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it."

April 2, 2008

I rearranged the webcomic links into sections of update frequency. A lot of them fell into Haphazard.

April 1, 2008

I added alexiuss and Philipstraub to the deviantART section of Links.

March 31, 2008

Joy! Behold the new Readings section, visible in the navigation bar! I put all books, short stories, and essays into databases, making maintainance super easy. You can sort them by author, title, or publication year, and adding new methods of sorting is a breeze. I kept my rather arbitrary categorization into science fiction, other fiction, and non-fiction (I culled manga since I don't read it any more). It's convenient, but I might change it in the future. Who knows, maybe my reading habits will eventually cover more branches of literature?

The books I've read since last time are Halo: The Flood, Asimov Laughs Again, The Life & Fables of Aesop, The Truth About Chuck Norris, The Portable Atheist, and Fifty Short Science Fiction Tales. That last book is a compilation of SF short-short stories and I transcribed the ones I thought were awesome and put them on the shiny new Short Stories page. I have a few more I want to transcribe, so if you like the ones that are there, watch the page. I also added three new essays, "SF Words and Prototype Worlds" by Eric S. Raymond, "Thoughts of God" by Mark Twain, "Gaps in the Mind" by Richard Dawkins, and "Why We Need Academic Freedom to Question Newtonism" by PZ Myers. Speaking of Myers, he is funny, thoughtful, and hilariously entertaining, so I linked to his Pharyngula.

I've sunk a lot of my free time lately into playing the various Ninja Gaiden games. The payoff? Not much: Ninja Gaiden Miscellanea, which should only be interesting to you if you're as obsessed with Ninja Gaiden as I am (Ninja Gaiden II can't get here fast enough).

March 3, 2008

I added a new section to the Links page, Gaming encyclopedias, and shuffled things around a little bit. I've also read a couple of books, but I'll wait with those until I've fixed the sorry state of my Books page. (The pieces of data on that page are ordered exactly as typed. That's right, no database. The manual nature of it makes me cry.)

February 12, 2008

I've linked to lots of things.

For essays, there's "Nothing in Biology Makes Sense Except in the Light of Evolution" by Theodosius Dobzhansky, "Philosophy of science 101" by Massimo Pigliucci, and "The Awful German Language" by Mark Twain. I love how many essays are just delicious little nuggets of enlightenment.

For the Links page, there's Point of Inquiry, Rationally Speaking, and AskGLaDOS.

As for Books there's only Kjetterbibelen which I bought on a whim and which turned out to be merely OK. I'll try to read more books. (I've been really bad at that lately, in favor of articles, essays, and podcasts, most of which doesn't even make it on my site.)

With that out of the way, I should really be more of a producer of information instead of a consumer. I'm sorry, but the world is just so darned interesting and most of the time I just want to gaze and marvel, with my drooling tounge on the floor, at the stupendous awesomeness of everything. Yes, this is a poor excuse.

"Lead us, Evolution, lead us
Up the future's endless stair:
Chop us, change us, prod us, weed us,
For stagnation is despair:
Groping, guessing, yet progressing,
Lead us nobody knows where."

Happy birthday, Darwin.

January 21, 2008

I fixed two egregious mistakes that have been lurking in my archived news' navigation for too long (it would link to non-existent posts from 1969) and I cleaned it up a bit and made it more navigable while I was at it.

January 20, 2008

Sad news. I broke up with Marie.

I made several mistakes. Chief among them was jumping into the relationship before I got to know her (we only dated for about a week), but I also put off ending it way too long (I started to see it would fail and didn't do anything about it as fast as I should have). I blame myself. I managed to delude myself into thinking Marie was everything I wanted her to be, just as I did with my previous crush, Yvonne (except in that case my delusion wasn't wholesale wrong). Apparently this is the way I learn: By painful trial and error. I'm just inexperienced, I think. A good painter would see the novice's mistake. A good martial artist would see the better way of beating that guy in the bar fight (a good diplomat would find a way to avoid the fight altogether).

Someone experienced in the art of girlfriendery would easily spot my mistakes.

Marie is sweet and well-intentioned, no doubt, but she's not the girl for me. We're on different sides of the bell curve and I believe we're incompatible for chiefly that reason. I guess I'm not exempt from delusion and I hope I've been badly enough burned by this to not put my hand on the wrong plate again. Anyway, I've dug myself quite the emo hole and it's time to begin my slow crawl up from it.

I majorly redid the Links page, shuffling things around and removing several links that I didn't use (most notably many web comic links and all the Half-Life single player modification links), in addition to rewriting the whole thing.

I played around with Facebook; I've got an account. It's sort of fun, I admit.

January 13, 2008

I have added Beyond Belief I and II (symposia), Galbadia Hotel (OSTs for anime and games), SIW (tool for figuring out what your computer is made of), and PolishPanties (a deviantARTist who did an awesome commission for me) to the Links page.

I have read (well, listened to) Michael Shermer's Why People Believe Weird Things, and with it I created a new status for my books, Audio (which means I've only listened to the book, not read it; I have several books that I both read and listen to, but the "read" statuses trump the "audio" status).

I bought a BenQ 24" LCD monitor which handles a delicious 1920x1200 resolution. I've only hooked it up to my Xbox 360, but this means that I finally play my games in HD, not SD! However, HD monitors have lower resolution than the real world; I can't wait till we have, say, SHD (super-HD) and 100 Hz (24, 25, 29.97, 30, and 60 are all jokes) for consoles. (There is a chance, given the history of giving acronyms to screen resolutions, that we'll buggle them up. Who wants WQUXGA-HD?)

So, with my delicious HD monitor in hand, I played and finished Halo 3 and Mass Effect. Halo 3 was what I expected it to be (less of the bad things from the prequels, more of the good), but Mass Effect absolutely blew me off my feet. It has a deep story, excellent voice acting, interesting characters, and a new conversation system (instead of reading through all the text you want your character to say you simply choose a general reply from a wheel which then cues up). I've finished it once, striving for Paragon, and I now want to play through it again, walking the Renegade path.

I've spent much of my time lately with my girlfriend, which sort of explains why this update is so late. More on that later.

December 2, 2007

Well, it looks like it tilted the right way. You geeks have fun with your Companion Cubes; I'll keep my Companion Girl warm, and not by throwing her into an incinerator.

November 28, 2007

Hello again, Internet.

This update was due a couple of days ago, but I've been busy. With what, you ask? With being in love, I answer. I've been dating for a few days, and the girl (whose name is Marie) is very sweet. I don't want to prognosticate on the outcome (it may tilt either way, but I hope and think it will tilt the right way), so in the mean time I'll stick to geeking it out.

When I started working at Datakjeden, things were a huge mess in the back (where there's a repair shop for laptops, desktops, and miscellaneous other things that the store sells). Things are still a mess, but orders of magnitude less so. I don't think I can attribute this to any Herculean effort on my part, but I hate mess and love order, so it's natural for me to want to reduce chaos and increase neatness. Also, little birds are whispering to me and they tell me that things really were a whole lot worse before I came. I don't know whether there's correlation or causality going on here, but in any event things are getting neater and that makes me happy.

I have two new intellectual heroes! Massimo Pigliucci (a biologist) and Knut Jørgen Røed Ødegaard (a theoretical astrophysicist). Maybe I should make a list of real heroes, to mirror my fictional ones?

My Links page now has drastically smaller images, because I realized that links, not images, should be the stars of that show. I also added two new sections, Cerebral (into which I created Science and moved Books) and deviantART (which links to individual artists that I like). I also added pinouts.ru (a huge repository of pinout schematics for electronic components), richarddawkins.net (a fan-driven site for the biologist and author Richard Dawkins), Growing Up in the Universe (a children's lecture on evolution by Dawkins), Decorum (a web comic), Charles Darwin Online (a repository of stuff written by or about Darwin), and talk.origins (a very good explanation of what evolution is, and the details and history of the evolution/creationism debacle).

As for books, I've read The Human Body: Its Structure and Operation by Isaac Asimov, Isaac Asimov's Treasury of Humor by, uh, Isaac Asimov, Flatterland by Ian Stewart, and Sphereland by Dionys Burger. As for essays, I've read a couple of more.

I haven't had all that much time left for gaming, but I did play (and finish) Assassin's Creed, and I'm now working on the achievements. It's a very good game, but the story gameplay is repetitive. It's a good thing that the general gameplay is good and that the achievements are fun. I haven't yet played Halo 3 (sorry), but I will.

While making my life easier by messing around with PHP and the Links page, I learned that PHP doesn't support function overloading! However, it does do default values for arguments. Here's how it works. Well, here's how it doesn't work:

function func($foo) {
  func($foo, true);

function func($foo, $bar) {
  if ($bar) {

Uh-oh. Overloading the function with a different signature won't work. Oh, fie. Here's another way of getting the desired result, with default values:

function func($foo, $bar = true) {
  if ($bar) {

Now you can go ahead and call func('Shizzle') or func('Shizzle', false) as if it was overloaded. Still, real overloading would be more fun...

November 20, 2007

Hello, Internet.

A few of my friends are wondering where I am. I'm right here, so don't you worry. This should probably be the first and only "I'm still here" update, and I only do it because you're impatient. But as previously established, don't you worry. Stuff is coming.

October 17, 2007

I added four more essays. I only have a few more to reread and add, and then I'll start reading totally new ones (I have a few of those, too).

October 13, 2007

I've read Asimov on Numbers and The Relativity of Wrong. I read the standalone essay online a few years ago, and now that I have the book, I see that a sizeable chunk of the essay is missing in the online versions! (Well, all the ones I could find, anyway.) This was insufferable so I painstakingly and meticulously transcribed the essay from my 1989 Oxford University Press paperback edition of The Relativity of Wrong and linked to it in the Essays section of the Books page.

I have a new E-mail address, havard@awegasm.net ! This is much better than the longer havard.skjaeveland@gmail.com , but the former address still forwards everything to the latter (I love GMail).

Here, have some Wikipedian eye candy. (Click for larger versions.)

October 10, 2007

I added some more Essays, and I have a bunch more I'll add later (I want to reread them before I do). There's tons of stuff to do at my work, and therefore I'm working way more than I should, and this cuts into my free time. (A neat thing about language is that excuses can be cast as explanations, and these sorts of casts occasionally turn out to be true.)

However, Portal was just released, and I managed to play it. It blew me away. In recognition of this I've changed the description of my link to Narbacular Drop to recommend Portal.

"Now these points of data
make a beautiful line.
And we're out of beta.
We're releasing on time.
So I'm GLaD. I got burned.
Think of all the things we learned
for the people who are
still alive.

Look at me still talking
when there's Science to do.
When I look out there,
it makes me GLaD I'm not you.
I've experiments to run.
There is research to be done.
On the people who are
still alive."

September 20, 2007

I added LibriVox and Project Gutenberg (under the new Books section), and Bad Astronomy, to the Links page. I also added the Essays and Short stories sections to the Books page. I've read a lot more than those which are already on there, but those were the ones I could think of off the top of my head (I'll add the remaining ones as I remember them).

I bought the entire Commander Keen series and also a small indie game called Gumboy Crazy Adventures (which is superbly excellent) from Steam. Online delivery of games (particularly indie games) is wonderful. The corollary, of course, is death to brick-and-mortar software stores!

I've been playing a lot of N lately. I immediately realized it was long, but I had no idea (I'm currently at Episode 59 out of 100). It's wickedly fun, go try it.

September 12, 2007

My site has moved. Thanks to Alexander Krivacs Schroeder for hosting it all that time, and thanks to James Blair for hosting it for me now. I appreciate it.

Just as I got into 360 gaming again, I got the deadly three red lights and now I'll have to send it in for repairs. Great.

I've read Asimov's light-weight Words from the Myths.

September 4, 2007

My Xbox Live account has been fixed! I don't know when this happened, but it must have been when I wasn't looking. The Contact page now correctly reflects my new gamertag (Hermiene).

I downloaded (and am now hooked on) Boom Boom Rocket.

August 29, 2007

Maybe I should stop this punctuated equilibrium style of updating and go back to something resembling a sane update schedule? That all depends on what you want.

First some house keeping. Links: N (a ninja game), EDuke32 (an emulator for Duke Nukem 3D), Xerxes Music (downtempo electronic music), Launchy (handy application), Spamusement (web comic about spam), and Legorobot (web comic about unstable people). Books: The Epic of Gilgamesh, God is not Great, The Demon-Haunted World, and The Great Scientists. I've been reading lots of non-fiction lately, as you can see. I should read a fiction book every once in a while.

Since my school (NITH) closed down in Stavanger (where I currently live) we were all supposed to move to Oslo and continue there. I should have started there by now, but I decided to take a year off to work so that I don't have to take up a huge loan when I move. I work at Datakjeden where I lurk in the back, fixing computers. I've actually been looking for an excuse to learn lots more about computer hardware. I guess I found my excuse. Since starting there I bought an MP3 player, and it's so neat. I can't see how I ever lived without one. On the bus to work I can listen to music and read books, or listen to people talking (I've been having fun at richarddawkins.net's audio archive lately).

I've also played Ninja Gaiden Sigma a lot. It's a remake (and exclusive rerelease for the PS3) of Ninja Gaiden Black, which was itself a remake of the Xbox version of Ninja Gaiden (which was a spiritual sequel to the three Ninja Gaiden games for NES; mmmm, titles). It's very, very good. First of all it's in HD, and it's got shinier graphics. Second of all it's got the Dragon's Fang and Tiger's Claw. Thirdly, you can run and fight on water. The only downside is playing as Rachel. While realistic jiggling is pretty fun (you can't deny that), the combat soon gets repetitive as her only weapon is the Warhammer (a slow and unwieldy axe).

BioShock. Yes. Let's just say that it doesn't disappoint. Not one bit. It's not nearly as scary as System Shock 2 (mainly because it's so scripted, I suspect), but it nails the feeling of total isolation. It's also very pretty.

My site needs an overhaul, and it needs a new house. And the pages itself need to be worked on. I'll get working on that next. And I'll try not to leave you in the dark so much this time.

"We can pray over the cholera victim, or we can give her 500 milligrams of tetracycline every twelve hours. (There is still a religion, Christian Science, that denies the germ theory of disease; if prayer fails, the faithful would rather see their children die than give them antibiotics.)"

August 5, 2007

Write Articles, Not Blog Postings by Jakob Nielsen contains good advice.

July 30, 2007

My site has been down for a little while, but I've fixed it (it was an IP issue).

I've read Pale Blue Dot.

July 16, 2007

I added Ballance (a game), Ebon Musings (a collection of articles, links, and book reviews), and Mindstalk (a personal site) to the Links page. I've read Unweaving the Rainbow. The Full Archive now has a reverse chronology feature.

Some time ago when I went to the pharmacy to buy some medicine (I'm asthmatic) I picked up an organ donor card, and I carry it around with me in my wallet. It feels good to know that in the event of my death, someone else can make use of my organs. My heart is an engine forged from the remnants of a dead star, and there's no reason to hog it.

In slightly more exciting news, I'm translating f8d to Norwegian! The author tells me that my link was the first he saw, and was one of the things that inspired him to keep writing. Working on the translation is fun.

June 7, 2007

I just finished watching Carl Sagan's Cosmos and I shed a (decade late) tear for his demise. He was such a good educator.

May 22, 2007

Well, that sure was a hell of an update drought, wasn't it? I have a bit to show for it, though.

As always, more links are to be found on the Links page: Online Etymology Dictionary, f8d, Dresden Codak, Big Science, and Proverbs.

I've read a few more books: The Selfish Gene, The Blind Watchmaker, A Devil's Chaplain, The Satanic Rituals, and Age of Spiritual Machines.

I played through System Shock 2 again, and extracted quotes along the way. It's still a great game.

You should watch Beyond Belief 2006. Those guys are idea ninjas.

I watched the entire (first) season of Firefly along with Even, and now I've joined the ranks of the lamenting fans that Glench talks about. It truly is a jewel.

I've solved a bunch more Project Euler problems, recorded on Random.

When reading Dawkins' The Blind Watchmaker I was inspired by his description of a program that tries to generate the phrase "METHINKS IT IS LIKE A WEASEL" by both single-step chance (all tries are separate) and multi-step selection (if a try is slightly similar to the target phrase it's bred from in the next try), so I whipped up my own little test (it's immensely inferior; Dawkins' program reaches the phrase in around 40 generations, while mine does so in, on average, 10,000 generations). I might make it a Java applet, when I learn how, but if you want you can try to decipher it from the source. I'll try to explain how it works. First it generates a totally random string of equal length to the target phrase. It then breeds children from it (ten by default), and each child has a small chance of having one of its letters changed to a completely random character. The children are then rated, and the one that's most similar to the target phrase becomes the parent of the next generation. It goes on like this until it reaches the target phrase.

It could probably be made much faster by using sexual reproduction rather than asexual reproduction, by having mutation shift a letter slightly up or down the letter array instead of mutating it completely at random, and by tweaking the parameters (number of children, mutation rate).

09 F9 11 02 9D 74 E3 5B D8 41 56 C5 63 56 88 C0

March 12, 2007

I updated the Contact page. Also, age++. Happy arbitrary day for me!

"Does that make sense? Be honest."

February 24, 2007

Greetings and salutations. I had better update my site, because Even threatened to cast various curses on me and a bunch of my friends if I didn't. Now, I'm not one prone to take the mystical workings of arcane magic seriously (you know, because of the lack of evidence), but if you were to gaze upon the face of this acquaintance of mine I'm positive you'd agree that... Well, let us just say that his eyes have a mesmerizing effect on your psyche, and frankly, I'd not take any chances with that guy. I'm afraid that his basement walls are scribbled with incantations to Baphomet and various other minor demons with the blood of brutally slain goats, or something. I really don't want to know, and (I hope) neither would you. So here you go!

I've read Shadow of the Hegemon (a military thriller masquerading as science fiction), The God Delusion, Built to Last (a creationism book, no less), and Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman. My Books page is getting bigger, and for every book I finish I learn about the existence of ten more. This is a good thing because it ensures that I'll never be bored. (I was aware of this before I started reading seriously, because that concept is far from limited to books. I'm sure you can come up with examples.)

I cleaned up dead links in Links! Hopefully there'll be no more 404s. Or 403s. You deserve only 200s. If there are still broken links, please let me know. I also linked to Shyguy's Cave of Death, a Java game by my good friend Alex Spurling.

I flirted with Vista, but I discovered that the relationship can't go on unless she shapes up. She's pretty and she does her core jobs well, but after a while the sex gets boring and you want her to do practical things such as scanning stuff (like paper) and running stuff (like games). She currently fails miserably at both, but I suspect it's partly the fault of her burly friends, Canon and NVIDIA. Sorry, Vista. Come back when you've convinced your friends to treat you nice, and we'll give this thing another shot.

I briefly mentioned that my school, NITH, is closing in Stavanger. NITH gave those interested a free trip to Oslo to see the campus there, and (naturally) I attended. It's very nice. And large. I also met a few of the lecturers, and they seemed like an interesting bunch. (Out of pure whimsicality I'll mention that one of them looks a little like Christopher Walken; he even talks somewhat like him! It's uncanny, but awesome.)

One last thing: Check out Jones Avenue, the web comic of one of my recently-acquired IRC friends. It's hilarious at times.

January 22, 2007

It's been a little over a month, but so what?

I spent a few consecutive days watching the archive of Ze Frank's the show on recommendation from Glen. It's awesome, and I lament Ze's decision to let it end this March.

After two failed starts, I've finally finished Ur-Quan Masters! In celebration you, my dear reader, will be treated to some quotes. Happy reading.

As seems to have become somewhat of an informal tradition, I've read two new books prior to this news post, too: Children of the Mind and Ender's Shadow. I also managed to find a new quirky web comic, Nearing Zero. The Internet is a deep well of amazing secrets. It's a house with infinite levels of basements. It's a can of fun without end. It's an unsolvable and enticing Megaminx. It's a sea in which you can't get lost. It's anything but a superhighway, although that metaphor has the speed thing going for it.

As for my slow updating, I give no apology! I've spent some time tending Llamaphobia (this is an explanation, not an apology), but in any case my site is here for the long haul. There's no hurry.

December 12, 2006

Doodle is dead, and rightly so, but its spirit lives on at Llamaphobia! Yes, I'm pretentious enough to call it a full-fledged web comic. And look, I even made up for missing yesterday's strip by including it there. Yay! Thanks to relsqui for the comic's title and James Blair for hosting it.

I increased my Geometry Wars score from 23M to 24,937,870 and regained my rank at 27th place. Why is it that I can only increase my score a few million points at a time?

December 11, 2006

I'll miss today's comic, but only because I'm working on something sweet and awesome. And by the way, I have a buffer of comics, so it's not like I haven't been working (I have!). I also retroactively removed the two comics I have already made from my news posts. I realized that posting them like that is the first step down the slippery slope to a tumblelog (it's already bad enough that I refer to my site as a blog rather than a personal web site, which is what I'm trying to make it into).

More later.

December 8, 2006

Two new web comics added: Cyanide and Happiness and Kittybot. I swear, the crazy thing isn't that there are twenty-seven comics being linked to. It's that I actually follow them all.

I also read two books: Xenocide and Letter to a Christian Nation. The latter made me want to read its predecessor, The End of Faith, which I'll definitely buy on my next Amazon spree.

December 4, 2006

Doodles! Say hello to Doodles, our newest member. (Now dead, replaced by Llamaphobia.) I plan to post small doodles every Monday and every Friday, without fail. I'm not at all inspired by xkcd. No, sir!

I read a Dawkins essay called The Real Romance in the Stars, and a quote struck me:

"Note, accordingly, how little it means to say something like 'Uranus moves into Aquarius'. Aquarius is a miscellaneous set of stars all at different distances from us, which have no connection with each other except that they constitute a (meaningless) pattern when seen from a certain (not particularly special) place in the galaxy (here). A constellation is not an entity at all, not the kind of thing that Uranus, or anything else, can sensibly be said to 'move into'."

And indeed, it can't "move into Aquarius." Using the power of modern computers and a mountain of astronomical data, I have put together a little demonstration with the awesome program Celestia (I recommend you check out the effect for yourself in real-time 3D). Here is Uranus as viewed 100 kilometers from its surface. One can just make out the Aquarius constellation. (Click for larger versions.)

100 km.

Zooming out to about a million kilometers, one can see the orbits of Uranus' many satellites.

1 million km.

At one astronomical unit (the distance between the Earth and the Sun) above the surface, the orbits of all its 27 satellites are visible. Some of the stars in the Aquarius constellation are visible.

1 AU.

At 120 AUs, the whole Solar System is visible, and Uranus' orbit is highlighted in red.

120 AUs.

At one light year away from Uranus, our sun is still visible, but its planets are not.

1 ly.

At 50 light years out, we see the sphere that Celestia uses to draw constellation borders. It's completely irrelevant now, of course, so the next picture will have it removed.

50 lys.

At 300 light years out, the illusion of a constellation as a coherent entity completely breaks down, and one is left with imaginary (and ultimately meaningless) lines connecting the stars.

300 lys.

What can you learn from this? "Astrology is bunk" is a good lesson. "The charlatans who steal weak-minded people's money using astrology are fools" is another good lesson. Again, the effect is much better seen in real-time 3D. Go download Celestia.

November 24, 2006

I got a part-time job at the local water park! This translates into a positive stream of monetary units into my bank account. I spend most of my time at work telling grown men how to behave themselves ("Sir, please don't climb the slides"). The fun part is that they accept my authority over them because I have a shiny uniform and they don't. (The same applies to jocks. Revenge, if not sweet, is at least appreciable.)

Bad shit going down. NITH Stavanger is closing its doors next summer, so that means I will have to move to either Bergen or Oslo to attend the school. If I move (which seems the most realistic option) I'll move to Oslo. I hate things which unnecessarily complicates my life, but from what little I've seen of the city, I like it, so moving should only be mildly annoying.

I've read and linked to no fewer than three web comics: Sinfest (which I read a little bit of a long time ago, before I started linking to web comics), Gone With the Blastwave, and Dueling Analogs. I also linked to Airbase, something I should have done a long time ago considering I've bought all their music. I also linked to Simon Tatham's Portable Puzzle Collection (I've fallen completely in love with Net; thank, relsqui!). My Links page seems more and more like a virtual supermassive black hole, except instead of light, it sucks your time.

I've read Ender's Game and Engines of Creation. The next update should see several more books.

"I'm a lean, mean pattern recognition machine."

November 8, 2006

I've only solved one more Euler problem, but I've increased my Geometry Wars and Mutant Storm scores! I increased my Geometry Wars score from 22M to 23M, getting me one rank up to 27. Next time I'm aiming for 80M. I will get there. My Mutant Storm score (single player adventure mode) is now 7,972,660. I visited Niels-Henrik's place and we managed to get our two player adventure mode score to 8,902,120 despite not playing seriously. There's much potential in that one.

Seen the Episode 2 trailers? For all I care, the 21st century will start when I get my hands on that awe-inducing game. Everything Valve touches becomes pure, undiluted gold.

"The more I see, the more I do."

November 1, 2006

I solved a bunch of Euler problems, a lot of them with BigInteger. It's a bit like biking uphill backwards, chased by angry goats, only your brakes don't work and your gears are covered in syrup. But I managed.

Music with good lyrics is still elusive, but I managed to hunt down a few! Artists, make more songs with awesome lyrics. Best regards, Hermiene.

Alexander K. Schrøder made SVG versions of some of my PNG insignia. Go vector!

"I am happiest when my lasers hit things."

October 29, 2006

My site is now 70% less pretentious! I removed a ton of Big Quotes (quotes by Important People) from my random quotes list and repopulated it with obscure ones. I'm in a whimsical quotation mood, you see. I also fixed my favicon. Before, I had two files, favicon.ico and favicon.png. I had done something wrong when I made the .ico one; it discarded transparency information from the source file. This new one keeps transparency information, so the favicon should appear nice everywhere.

I've linked to True Launch Bar. It's an awesome little tool, and my desktop looks shinier because of it.

I've only solved one more Project Euler problem. There are a few of them that I know how to solve conceptually, but all of them require manipulation of Really, Really Big Numbers. Java's BigInteger class handles arbitrary-length numbers, but it's a pain to work with. To add a number to a BigInteger object, for instance, you have to go obj.add(obj2), where obj2 is also a BigInteger. God forbid Java should support operator overloading so that one could go obj + 5. Sigh.

"Just because you are unique does not mean you are useful."

October 24, 2006

I've solved more Project Euler problems.

"A million people can call the mountains a fiction, yet it need not trouble you as you stand atop them."

October 20, 2006

I've solved a few more Project Euler problems and read Ringworld.

A friend at school showed me operator overloading in C++. It's so cool because it lets you use arithmetic operators for whatever you want to, not restricted to arithmetic expressions. What does it mean to multiply a string by an integer, for instance? You could say, "concatenate this string n times with itself" so that "abc" * 3 results in "abcabcabc". Or it could mean, "produce the next three characters in the sequence and concatenate it", resulting in "abcdef". This might be illogical, but the point is that the behavior is entirely up to you. A more realistic example would be that of adding items to an inventory in an RPG (incidentally the example I was shown). Instead of doing something like Inventory.add(sword, shield, arrows) you could go Inventory += sword + shield + arrows. It would be so neat if Java supported operator overloading.

Java does support method and constructor overloading, which make things more powerful. It also has explicit constructor invocation, which is totally awesome.

I'm a web comics junkie, I know! Now, before you start scheming that intervention, check out Simulated Comic Product, Soup, and The Pretentious History of Everything, which are now linked to. I've also linked to Jim Wisniewski, who promptly became a Wilburer. (The first one in a long time. Who's next?)

"We don't like it when the city pigeons break wings. When the pigeons break wings, then we can't get down."

October 16, 2006

I've read Stranger in a Strange Land, and I implemented the Sieve of Eratosthenes. That's not a big achievement, but it's a small victory. I want to learn lots more about algorithms; they look pretty.

"I like your tactics. They are similar to mine."

October 13, 2006

My Geometry Wars record has made two jumps: The first was to 13M, and my current score is 22,084,965, making me the 28th best player in the world. Whooo! I'm slowly climbing the leaderboard; I'll be happy to reach top ten.

I'm doing Project Euler again, and this time I have a section for it for bragging. Yeah, I realize there's not much there to brag about. Yet.

I've linked to Pure Pwnage and Ask A Ninja. I also killed PHP Alacrity. It never really went anywhere, and the code was anyway ugly.

Java annoyance! Specifically, its lack of nextChar() in the Scanner class. It has similar methods for int (nextInt()), float (nextFloat()), and boolean (nextBoolean()); is full primitive types coverage too much to ask for? On September 25 I claimed that in Java, methods are called functions; that was wrong. Mea Culpa. Apparently subroutines in classes are methods and subroutines elsewhere are functions. And then there's that whole thing about distinguishing between functions (which return values) and procedures (which do not). Thankfully Java doesn't do that. In any case, I prefer the term function; it describes the structure very well, and if further clarification is needed I'll qualify it as necessary, thank you very much.

September 28, 2006

I rewrote About Me. It's shorter now, but also denser. I'll write about miscellanea later.

Even made me a new banner. Thanks! It looks awesome.

September 25, 2006

My Ceometry Wars score has been increased three times. The first was an increase by about a thousand points, which didn't even earn me a better rank. (Consulting this list of enemies, you'll find that 1000 points is ten Green Squares at 1x multiplier, or one Green Square at 10x multiplier.) Then, I played a very good round at Even's with his awesome (and HD) projector; I got just over 6.5M points, and not on my profile. Joy. But lo, things got better: I eventually managed 9,200,060 points, which lands me just under rank 100. It seems that my break (however brief) paid off.

I've completely ditched fenixs85@hotmail.com and I'm now only using havard.skjaeveland@gmail.com (both for regular E-mail and MSN). Death to anachronisms.

Java programming has started for real, and I now think I have a pretty clear understanding of what OOP really is, though I'm sure there's a lot of black magic to be unlocked. I've noticed that a few of my classmates (those who haven't done any sort of programming before) are having trouble understanding methods (or functions, as they're really called). I think I know why: We're taught about classes and object before going into the syntax and uses of functions. How is one supposed to grok methods when one doesn't understand what a method call is?

I'm still working on site stuff, though not as rapidly as I'd wanted to. In any case, I've linked to XPize and there's the new Fictional heroes section of the Random page.

Life is a juggling competition. At least, mine is.

September 4, 2006

Between getting set up at NITH, improving my TrackMania records (both Sunrise and Nations), and playing, uh, Sokoban, my days recently have consisted mostly of trying to beat my XBLA records (in particular those of Mutant Storm and Geometry Wars). My thumbs are almost bleeding, so for now I'm satisfied with them and will take a break from them. Mentioning it makes this semi-official.

I also feel sort of bad, now. I was supposed to work a whole lot on the site, which I haven't done due to aforementioned distractions. I'm sorry. I will shape up, really.

My Wing Chun training has started up again after a few months' hiatus (we use a school's gymnasium and have to follow their schedule), and starting up again is awesome. I finally feel like a non-newbie! To be sure I don't yet know anything particularly cool, but what I do know I feel that I can master. I think I'm also starting to get the hang of feeling the opponent's motions when in contact, which I'm told is important as one progresses to the more advanced stuff. I need lots more training with this, to be sure, but I at least understand it conceptually now.

September 2, 2006

Whooo! I beat my Adventure Mode record in Mutant Storm Reloaded by just over a million points. It's now 6,922,900.

August 31, 2006

I went through all the single player levels in Mutant Storm Reloaded's Tally Mode and improved several of them. My new score is 20,342,880, which places me around place 60. I tried and tried and tried, but neither my Mutant Storm Reloaded Adventure Mode high score nor the Geometry Wars one has been beaten. Why are those games so damned hard? If my bragging annoys you, please recall my shameless braggard policy.

I cleaned up the Links page a good deal by removing the Internet radios section (I don't listen to them anymore) and rewriting a lot of stale things. I also added Sokoban++ (a puzzle game), War§ow (a first-person shooter), and Dinosaur comic (a comic about, surprisingly, dinosaurs). I think Links is becoming a pretty comprehensive archive of cool and interesting links. Don't worry, I haven't forgotten about my other pages.

August 21, 2006

I've started my first week at NITH (the Norwegian School of Information Technology). I'm eager to start doing real programming, which starts next week.

I've gathered a few new music quotes and added an Antiquity section to my Quotes page. My Links page's Gaming section gains even more weight: Enigma (a huge puzzle game) and Warning Forever (a manic 2D shooter).

As if anyone actually cares, I'm ridiculously close to the six million mark in Geometry Wars: 5,993,910. This places me among the two hundred best in the world. Before you accuse me of being a shameless braggard, remember, I already admit to this.

I recently changed my nickname from Håvard (which is derived from an old Norse name and which is my real name) to Hermiene (which is an old German female name and which is not my real name). By a funny coincidence, a Harry Potter character happens to have a name that is not similar to Hermiene at all: Hermione. Get it? This is not a reference to Harry Potter. Admittedly the fact that my facial appearance is close to that of Daniel Radcliffe does make the correlation seem stronger, but the truth is that I didn't even know of Hermione until people started harrassing me about it. (If you want to know what it's really a reference to, contact me.) Until next time: Learn the subtleties of spelling.

August 9, 2006

Scant five days have passed, and lo! An update.

Part of what prompted me to update is that my Geometry Wars score is 4,848,820, very close to five million, and this needs celebrating. (Some people celebrate by eating a cake. I celebrate by updating my site.) Also, a new section has appeared on the Random page: Xbox Live Arcade scores. I'm just a shameless braggard. The numbers don't really mean much by themselves if you haven't played the games. The important thing, rank, is omitted for obvious reasons (it changes, and I can't be bothered to update it every time someone climbs over me).

The other part of what prompted this update is Lawrence Lessig's book Free Culture, which everyone interested in freedom, culture, and copyright should read. Some parts of it are dryly written and in Lawyerese, unfortunately, but that's not important.

Parts of my site's visible and invisible architecture need an overhaul. I'll get working on that next.

This concludes the first of many timely updates.

August 5, 2006

Greetings, fellow netizens. I return from meatspace bearing lots of news.

My parents generously invited me to move back in with them, and I accepted. Living away is really fun, but I can't afford to now that I'm done with my civilian service, which paid for my apartment. I'm not really a fan of burning bridges nor of invocations to the Devil, but I suspect Satan played a role in putting me there. Drafts are idiotic in the first place. If a nation can't muster the patriotism among its citizenry necessary to defend it, it doesn't deserve a standing army, and an alternative to military service is really no alternative at all.

Religion bashing time again! This time it's the creationists' turn. A meme I've only recently seen (but one which I suspect has been in circulation for some time) got my attention and it goes like this: Evolution is a dangerous philosophy (philosophy?) because Adolf Hitler and Pol Pot used it to justify their atrocities. It's completely irrelevant! It's like blaming the theory of gravity for murders committed by pushing people off high places. In other words, totally nonsensical. Watching creationists debate biologists is somewhat akin to watching a paraplegic compete in the Olympics. Ken Miller is my new hero.

Moving home involved the end of the trial period, if you will, of 1080i 360 gaming, so I bought my own 360. Here's a cool thing: When you retrieve your gamertag you also get to download everything you've paid for again. This is the way it should be, but it's neat that it's actually implemented. The only regression is SD, and SD sucks.

I bought and framed three prints from deviantART: Apollo, Pepper by the window, and Scythe Dancer. I love 'em.

I pulled myself together and fixed the sorry state of my music's metadata. Every file now has shiny ID3v2.4 metadata attached to it, and I used foobar2000 to do it.

My Links page has had enough stuff added to it to make a neutron star envious. The most noteworthy updates are in the Gaming section: 3D Logic (thanks Joakim Næss Lea), TrackMania Nations (thanks again Joakim Næss Lea), Gridlock, Tiltilation, Neverball, Hamsterball, and Narbacular Drop. There's a link to foobar2000 too, naturally. In the Reference material section there's Unwords (a dictionary of invented words) and The Phrontistery (at which you can learn what rhochrematics and grammatolatry are). The Online comics section has seen two updates: xkcd and Dungeons and Denizens (thanks Alexander).

Books have been read. The Satanic Bible, Accelerando, Around the World in Eighty Days, The Alchemist, and the Rama series, to be exact.

I also played and finished Prey, a game that makes you feel like you're walking through an Escher painting. It's very good, but it contains almost zero puzzles! Oh, the potential.

Yes, my updates will be more timely from now on.

June 14, 2006

Even coaxed me into buying Trackmania Sunrise Extreme (well, he was more of a catalyst than an instigator since I'd already been blown away by the demo) and I am sold. It's like Stunts, Wipeout, and Rollcage had a baby, only the baby was a ninja high on crack. On fire. Running through a hospital (which is on fire), wielding dual katanas and a wakizashi from its prehensile tail, slaying evil samurai-nurses. Something like that. The point I am clumsily trying to get across is that the game kicks utter ass. I love untraditional racers. I'm sure Gran Turismo and its ilk are cool if you're a professional driver in the Carrera Panamericana obsessed with automotive mechanics (or even an adolescent gamer with the same inclinations), but realistic racers have never been my thing.

June 9, 2006

I hereby declare myself to be operating under Crocker's Rules. I have been doing so, implicitly, for as long as I can remember, but now it's explicit.

June 4, 2006

Blasting geometric figures to their constituent edges in a blaze of polychromatic glory upon a malleable blue grid floating in the black void of space may be more fun than it sounds. So yes, I've been playing a certain amount of Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved lately. Some would say an insane amount. Others would say an appalling amount. I would say copious or ample or not enough. This game is just too challenging and fun to put down once you've tried it. Niels-Henrik (Aemanther) and I (Vossil) have also played Mutant Storm Reloaded's Tally mode something fierce, and are (at the time of writing) at 21st and 22nd place on the Xbox Live leaderboards, respectively. This means that we are the 21st and 22nd best players in the world. It's only an obscure arcade game, but who cares? :-P

Here's something I can do without: Reflexive idle European anti-Americanism. What I mean by this is Europeans who are idly and reflexively anti-American. I'm talking about you people who, whenever something, anything, about the US (or even vaguely related to it) is brought up, reflexively recoil in disgust and blurt out how much the US sucks, without specifying exactly what. Is it their foreign policy? Their president? The general citizenry? The culture? Their laws? Stop leaving me guessing like this, please, and just say what you mean without falling back on your reflexive anti-Americanism. Also realize that the US isn't a monolithic entity, and maybe you would sound less like a God damned idiot.

Let me take a moment to laugh at religious idiots: Ha ha ha! In particular, I want to laugh at Christian doomsayers relating to Tuesday: Ha ha ha! This Tuesday will be 2006-06-06, and the Rapture is near; all true Christians will transcend the flesh, ascend to Heaven, and have eternal joy by God's side, leaving non-believers behind. Let's just forget about the unfortunate fact that 1906-06-06 didn't happen. Or 1992-10-28 as predicted by Korean Christians. Or 1998-05-31 as predicted by Marilyn Agee. Here are my predictions for next Tuesday: Our planet will continue to orbit our local star, religionists will continue to believe weird things, and I will continue to mock idiots whenever the opportunity presents itself.

I've made a new and improved back end for my site. This means I can now manage key parts of my site (like adding, modifying, and deleting news posts) from anywhere in the world. (Well, anywhere with a computer and Internet connectivity, but this is a given.) It's also a lot more clean this time around. In other site-related news, I've linked to Google Earth Hacks from under my Google Earth link.

May 22, 2006

I applied to and was accepted into NITH. Woohoo!

May 17, 2006

Worked some more on the Gaming Glossary page and did a thorough typo-sweep across my site. Many were killed.

I should mention that Niels-Henrik bought an Xbox 360 some time ago. Coupled with his awesome projector, it's capable of 1080i. These two wonderful pieces of electronics are both his, but I'm given more or less unlimited access to it so long as he's not playing. What a sleek console! I especially like Xbox Live Arcade, games on which I've been playing an insane amount of lately. Xbox Live Arcade is like an emulator; you download trial versions of small games (even some coin-op classics like Smash TV) and can pay a trivial amount of money for the full game. The cost/entertainment ratio is insanely low. Games I've bought are Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved (you're a ship that shoots hoards of hostile geometric figures, all with different properties), Marble Blast Ultra (you're a marble that collects gems and avoids danger), Mutant Storm Reloaded (you're a ship on drugs shooting... mutants, I think), Wik and the Fable of Souls (you're a frog-man that saves little green creatures), and Bejeweled 2 (which should be familiar to anyone with an Internet connection). Upcoming games include Pac-Man and Sonic the Hedgehog. You know what would rock? Rayman HD, yeah.

I don't play much multiplayer except Marble Blast Ultra, but if anyone wants to play with me my gamertag is Vossil. I'd really like to try Halo 2 co-op.

May 12, 2006

My Links page has seen some updates. I was again bitten by the imaginary Half-Life bug, looked at the mods section, thought "Eeew", played through them, culled bad ones, added a good one (Visitors), rewrote it all, and took screenshots. The Exploration section, which is a celebration of virtual exploration, is also new. In addition I replaced dictionary.com's link with a link to Hyperdictionary because of dictionary.com's obnoxious ads. And because of Hyperdictionary's "hyper" qualifier, naturally.

Added an Invented words and phrases section to my Random page (it's actually been there for some time). Niels-Henrik is very literate and we have a lot of fun with words. It may be a little esoteric, but hey, it's called Random for a reason, isn't it?

Wing Chun is so fun. Training is hard, but not physically hard. The hard part is coordinating your movement, both with regards to yourself and your sparring partner. A neat thing about Wing Chun is that it's a so-called soft martial art, as opposed to a hard one (such as Karate). As such, getting hit in the face is like getting hit by kittens. Not that I have ever had a feline youngster impact me, but if that event were ever to take place, I am sure that the two would be roughly equal. And to think, I've not even touched the cool stuff, the stuff the advanced guys are doing.

April 25, 2006

Fuh-hay-nally finished reading the PvP archive in its entirety and linked to it. There's just so much.

These past days have been spent almost exclusively playing The Ur-Quan Masters. It's a port of the 1992 game Star Control 2, a space exploration/adventure/combat game. It's so freaking good. The dialog is rock solid, the controls are good, and even though there's a fair bit of grinding for minerals (at least in the beginning), it's totally rewarded by the sheer number of different species you meet and the tasks they give you.

I've read Starship Troopers. More are coming very soon, I promise.

April 19, 2006

Finished a little writeup of the Deus Ex series.

Behold my new Gaming Glossary page! You may consider it a companion to the Games page. As I say on the page itself, I'd really, really, really like to be corrected in all errors, minor or major; I'd hate to be the author of a poor glossary. (More example images for the definitions will appear.)

I bought and finished Tomb Raider: Legend. It actually stays true to the series while making gameplay more intuitive (especially after the flop that was Angel of Darkness). Miss Croft's movements are very Prince of Persia-ish, but then again, the areas she needs to traverse do require the moves. I love games that celebrate 3D space (curvaceous 3D space, yeah). There are also a heap of unlockables in the game, including outfits. I'm a sucker for virtual dolls, I guess.

March 30, 2006

Celestia is sort of a computerized orrery. Or an astronomy tool. Or perhaps an orbital plotter. I think I'll go with the umbrella term "cool". Be sure to download objects from The Celestia Motherlode for a more accurate and complete view of our beautiful universe.

I've linked to Hybridized (an insanely huge collection of free DJ mixes) and Press Start to Play (a web comic).

I finished two writeups for my Games page: Max Payne and Half-Life.

March 17, 2006

I fixed a couple of embarrassing typos on the Books page (and wrote a short summary of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?), wrote a little about my political views, and threw together a little writeup of the Prince of Persia series. I think I'll finish writing about all the games I have in the pipeline before I start taking anymore screenshots from them (I get horrible framerates).

My StepMania skills are now probably better than they have any right to be. As an example, P8107 is no longer a challenge, and I can AA Lawn Wake IX. Proof:

AA on Lawn Wake IX.

Allow me to state again that you must play Ninja Gaiden (preferably the Black version). The controls are so responsive, the enemies so cleverly designed, the moves and combos so well balanced, and the weapons so well differentiated that you feel like you are Ryu. Did I mention that the game is insanely hard? Just keep at it; study the combos, the enemies' movement, and definitely try out all the weapons. And remember: Reverse Wind, Flying Bird Flip, and Block are your best friends.

February 26, 2006

I've started training Wing Chun Kung Fu, a martial art, and I really like it (see Little Idea Wing Chun). What sets it apart from other martial arts, apparently, is that it's close-range, focuses more on efficient techniques than aesthetics, and is supposed to be learned quickly (although I have no illusions about it being any easier because of that). In our training sessions we're divided into two groups: novices (of which I am naturally a part), and intermediate. It's wickedly fun watching the intermediates spar.

I'm still learning C++, but it's going to take some time before I can make anything useful in it. Here's a thing I don't understand: why is function prototyping and function defining done in two separate steps and not in one? For now, I've filed this little conundrum under Things That Will Make Sense in Context Later.

You should really, really, really play Ninja Gaiden (the 2004 Xbox version, not the 1988 NES one, of course). This game's combat system is so advanced, it's ridiculous. Everything just feels so right. You have to play it for some time to get into the controls, because button mashing absolutely does not work in this game. But once you've "mastered" (or become proficient with — the amount of things you can make Ryu, the protagonist ninja, do seems to have no end) the controls, you will most positively kick ass. Until the next boss, of course.

Speaking of ninjas, The Adventures of Dr McNinja is well worth a read.

In book news, I've read Hackers & Painters and Inversions. (Should I offload book-related news to the Books page? I'm a little skeptical to the idea of per-page news.)

February 12, 2006

I changed the styles a little bit to make things easier on the eyes. For instance, the underlining on headings is gone.

I added four new links to the Links page: Angry Zen Masters (a web comic), VGMix (a web site dedicated to remixes of video game songs), Loading-Ready-Run (incredibly funny sketches), and Ronald Fedkiw's simulations (amazing simulations of cloth and liquids, among some other things). In addition, all the links under the Online comics section now have images.

Go read Jeff Bigler's Tact Filters. It's so very true. Also go read John Walker's Trek's End, a sweet science fiction short story.

I've read Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, 2061: Odyssey Three, and 3001: The Final Odyssey.

January 26, 2006

Happy Winter-een-mas!

Perhaps monthly updates are a bad idea. I'll try to make it bi-monthly, at least.

I've added two new links to the Links page: Falling Sand Game, a fun but not overly realistic particle simulator for sand, water, salt, and other stuff, and Planarity, an insanely fun and addictive graph game. (I'm on level 12, but some of my friends, who shall remain nameless, are on higher levels than that.) I also added some more things of minute interest to the Random page.

Behold the new Parkour page! There isn't much content yet, but as with everything, I plan to fix this with time (in this case, I plan to practice more parkour as weather permits).

I only watched one anime series since the last update: Full Metal Panic: The Second Raid. I think it's an incredible improvement from the first season.

I continue to read books, of course, and I've finished Flatland, 2001: A Space Odyssey, and 2010: Odyssey Two.

Last weekend Even and I did a 24-marathon where we watched the entire first season. I really like this series. Here's what I've learned from it:

  • You never have to say "good bye" or "talk to you later" when hanging up a phone. It's always implicit from context when a telephone conversation is to end.
  • Females are laughably easy to abduct.
  • Everyone has a goal they work actively towards, and you can be sure that their goals run perpendicular to your goals at least half the time.
  • If you think you have the situation under control, think again. Even the most fool-proof plan will have at least one unexpected consequence when executed.
  • Cameramen will film you from different angles, from the most awkward positions (like from the inside of a toilet stall). Oh, and tripods are non-existent.
  • Kiefer Sutherland is a badass. And he has a damned sexy voice.
  • If someone acts even a tiny bit suspiciously, that person is guilty of something. Otherwise, everyone behaves perfectly rationally and you need not suspect them of anything.

Allerca is my personal lord and savior (I'm allergic to cats). 2007 can't get here soon enough.

"Sweet little bumble bee,
I know what you want from me.
Dub-i-dub-i-du da-da,
dub-i-dub-i-du da-da.
Sweet little bumble bee,
more than just a fantasy.
Dub-i-dub-i-du da-da,
dub-i-dub-i-du da-da."

December 23, 2005

Almost a month, but not quite. I do have something to show for it this time, though: Check out the brand new Anime page. In other site-related news, I've linked to Concerned, a web comic about Half-Life2, and Tile World, an emulator for the tile-based puzzle game Chip's Challenge which I used to play a lot when I was a child. Also new for the Links page is smaller images. I have slowly realized that not everyone runs 1600x1200 quite yet.

In meatspace news, I've been running dual monitors for some time now, and it's wonderful. If you do the same, I recommend you check out UltraMon which lets you customize your monitors to your liking.

I have read two books and one manga series since last time. Check Books if you're interested.

I've been hanging in two IRC channels for some time now. One is #swhack on irc.freenode.net which has its own web site, and the other is #bilge on irc.talkcrap.net. The former is composed of a conglomeration of nerds of all types, and the latter is composed of the same, only in fewer numbers and focusing more on game development. If you enjoy reading my site, then head over.

Speaking of my site, I'm well aware of my recent blogging trend. One explanation is that I'm under the firm conviction that almost everything and everyone in this world are almost infinitely more interesting than I am, and that accordingly I should speak little and listen much. Some of my friends think I should update more often. I'll certainly try, but the fact is that I don't have overly much to speak of all the time.

There are two games that you absolutely must play, and those are Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones and F.E.A.R. PoP: T2T really saved the series for me. Now, I didn't particularly dislike the previous game (Warrior Within) like a lot of people did. I disliked the Prince's badass attitude and all the stupid backtracking that you had to do, but I welcomed the revamped fighting system after Sand's of Time's monotonous combat. The fighting system in T2T is more or less the same as in WW, but with an added stealth element: If enemies aren't aware of you, you can silently dispose of them by sneaking up to them and, in an animated sequence, hitting the attack button at just the right intervals. That's very nice and all, but it's too easy, even on the hardest difficulty. It would be awesome if, on the harder difficulties, there were multiple buttons to hit, corresponding, perhaps, to the different angles at which the Prince attacks the enemy in the animated sequence. Still, the game is incredibly fun, and if you like Persian ninjas, you should definitely play it.

The other game you must play, F.E.A.R, is just unashamedly badass. Some of the levels are pretty ho hum, but it's more than made up for by a sweet, sweet AI and the liberal use of expletives. ("Fucker's got an appetite", a phrase describing the cannibalistic nature of the game's antagonist Paxton Fettel, is my favorite line.)

I'm learning C++ from Steve Heller's C++: A Dialog because I can't call myself a geek and not know how to program. I do know PHP fairly well, so I already know some concepts (like variables, functions, and scope) while others currently elude me (I still have no idea what object-oriented programming really is).

The web comic project will unfortunately be put on ice until further notice. We have some sketches and meager attempts at inking and coloring (which I think are quite nice), but not nearly enough to start the comic. In apology for this, here's a sketch of my alter ego, Akil, that I think turned out fairly well:


November 24, 2005

I have read no fewer than three web comics (Comedity, GU Comics, and Hellbound) and two books (Use of Weapons and A Mathematician's Apology) since the last update, in addition to watching two anime series (Full Metal Panic! and Full Metal Panic? Fumoffu!). This means that I have been having a lot of fun, while at the same time having no original content to show for it. I also want to apologize on Even's and my own behalf for not having worked much on the comic. This is partly due to our scanner's malfunctioning, but mostly due to our reluctance to do anything about it. I should feel bad, and I sort of do.

I somewhat arbitrarily split my Books into four sections: Science fiction, non-fiction, manga, and other fiction. I realize that this is a very shallow categorization, but it's due to my not having read diverse enough genres. I also realize that the summaries are really short and look like blurbs. This is due to my not having read enough books. Both of these situations will rectify themselves with time.

November 3, 2005

I polished the Links page some more. There are new images and a new section, Physics.

October 25, 2005

Oh yeah. My personal site.

A lot of things have been happening since my last news post.

I have bought a ton of books, but have only read two of them: The Player of Games and Foundation's Edge. As for the ones I've bought, they're in the Books that I want to read section, indicated by their parenthesized status.

Go read Chugworth Academy. It's on the Links page together with a new image of Faye, the new Games section, and the new Art section.

Check out Bathsheba's Large Scale Model. That's a model of a 100 megaparsec cube of matter. A parsec is an astronomical unit, and it's approximately equal to 3.26 light years. A megaparsec, then, is 3 260 000 light years. To put this in perspective, our galaxy's diameter is roughly 100 000 light years, which is about 3% of a megaparsec. And this model is of a 100 megaparsec cube of matter! I've ordered it.

Fahrenheit is an excellent game, so much so that Even and I pulled an all-nighter to finish it. Speaking of Even: He and I are maybe — maybe — going to make a web comic. But don't hold your breath. If it becomes reality, Even will draw it and I will write it. I've read enough web comics to know what makes them good, I consider myself a competent writer, and Even's getting better and better at his drawing. I think we can pull it off.

I finally survived P8107, and here is the proof:

P8107 survived.

You wouldn't believe how much more easier it is to play StepMania when you've mastered the Art of Two Hands. Suddenly you're able to obliterate arrows almost twice as fast, but your brain also has twice the number of fingers to control.

As an avid gamer I feel it is my responsibility to write something witty and degrading about Jack Thompson, but I think everyone else has already done that more than sufficiently. So just let it go on record that the sooner everyone recognizes him as the lying, misleading, fear-spreading, unpleasant lunatic that he is, the better.

Yes, I should really do more site-related work. I'll be getting to that next, I promise.

September 26, 2005

Check out Alex Spurling's spiffy new site. There's not much content yet, but we all have to start somewhere. :-)

I made nice, alpha transparent PNG images of some of the characters from the web comics that I follow and a spiffy, new 1600x1200 image of my desktop for the Computer page.

Michael Wilcox kindly notified me that my RSS feed wasn't working. It's fixed now.

You know what makes me sad? That supposedly intelligent and enlightened people of the 21th century lead lives so devoid of content that they need to believe in stupid things like astrology, clairvoyance, healing, reincarnation, and other abominations. As George Carlin puts it, "What are you, fucking stupid?" I don't mind that they believe it, really, but talking about those things as if they were true makes me really sad.

September 22, 2005

I pulled myself together and fixed a heap of stuff that was making IE puke, and my site looks half-decent in it now. I also removed the IE nagbox.

Check out Alex Spurling's Wikiknowledge, his repository of knowledge that he has gained from reading Wikipedia.

September 20, 2005

I killed Essay: Bases and Essay: Graphs & Functions. They were stale, the writing was completely off, and it didn't delve into the subjects deeply enough. Perhaps I'll remake them some day. I also linked to Games. Yes, I realize that there isn't much there now. That will change. At first I thought it would be a good idea to make the whole page first and then release it, but it obviously takes more time to complete than I thought it would.

I rearranged the navigation bar a little. I hope it makes more sense now.

September 16, 2005

I decided that 1280x960@60 Hz is abominable, so I bought a 22" flatscreen CRT monitor and I now run 1600x1200@85 Hz. Yum-sing!

Three new people and one new reference site are on the Links page: John Walker, Eric S. Raymond, Paul Graham, and HowStuffWorks.

Are you a neurotypical? Seek help today.

Every reader of science fiction should read SF Words and Prototype Worlds.

Yes, I'm working on a sudoku page. Yes, I'm working on a CSS page. Yes, I'm working a games page. But web comics, BloodRayne 2 and StepMania are too fun!

September 12, 2005

I'm back from Oslo, and, of course, all my organs are intact. Oslo is cool; it has an extensive metro system, two Outland stores that both are much larger than the one in Stavanger (and thus sporting more shelf space), and one Outlandish store called Avalon (which, as far as understand, is Outland's main and only competitor).

While walking in the city, a lunatic with flyers approached me and wanted me to oppose abortion. I told him he was crazy and continued on my merry way, of course.

I got to mess around with Mr Schrøder's Linux installation. It definitely seems to run faster than Windows. I promise to mess around with my own installation, eventually.

I've read two books since last time: Consider Phlebas by Iain M. Banks and Robot Visions by Isaac Asimov, and all the summaries of anthologies now has a listing of contents. I have now read 36 books in total, and 17 of those are Asimov's. If you do the arithmetic you'll find that 47% of the books I've read are by him. Perhaps I should, uh, read more by others.

Excerpt from Our Intelligent Tools:

"Eventually, if we learn how to make a computer sufficiently complex and sufficiently large, why should it not achieve a human intelligence?

Some people are sure to be disbelieving and say, "But how can a computer possibly produce a great symphony, a great work of art, a new scientific theory?"

The retort I am usually tempted to make to this question is, "Can you?""

This, of course, was incorporated into the motion picture I, Robot. Hee!

Let me take a moment to tell you how utterly stupid our workstation setups are at my work. First, the computers we use are slow. Second, we do all of our work through the Remote Desktop Protocol (or something very similar) on servers in Oslo. I believe these are very slow, or the connection is slow, or a combination thereof. In any case, it's a serious bottleneck. Third (and this is not really a technical flaw), the people who use this system (Lotus Notes) suck at it. Not only do people not use the database when making lists of people in, say, a certain group, they also embed images in PDF and DOC files, which in turn are embedded in so-called notes, stashed away in illogical places so that you are sure not to find what you want, when you want it. It is stupidity wrapped in evil inside incompetence.

September 7, 2005

If you haven't already, go check out (and play) NationStates. It's an online game where you create your own nation and rule it. It's not so much simulating as it is role-playing (for instance, there's no way to declare war on another nation, or initiate trade, or any such stuff except as role-playing via the forums), but it's still wickedly fun. The game is primarily made to promote Max Barry's new novel, Jennifer Government; the book is, of course, in my little list. Advertising can be effective, if it's targeted correctly. Go on, check out my nation, Mr Schrøder's nation, and Niels-Henrik's nation. I aim to be capitalist, Alex aims to be socialist, and Niels is... despotic. He may claim to be aiming for it, but my guess is that despotism just comes naturally to him.

I'm going to this country's capital city, Oslo, this weekend to meet up with Mr Schrøder. I hope he is the sweet misanthropic socialist geek that he claims to be, and not an eccentric 60-year-old lunatic whose interest in me revolves around my internal organs and the well-being thereof. Because if you are, I swear to Athe, I know Kung Fu!

Here's a thought: if we assume Sturgeon's Revelation to be essentially true, and that the amount of stupid people around the world is a direct result of it, things wouldn't be that bad, because the amount of smart people would increase proportionally as there will be more and more people on the planet. The problem now is just finding them. Speaking of which: I don't endorse overpopulation. In fact, I think we should slow down a little. This has been repeated by several intellectuals over the years (not that the general populace ever pays any attention), and so I'll repeat it: humans have an enormous advantage (well, several) over the other animals, in that we can plan what happens to our species. Whereas the other animals reproduce wildly until natural measures are taken (this usually involves starvation because of lack of food or being eaten by predators because, well, predators need food, too), we can plan ahead and make sure that this doesn't happen. If we continue this wild orgie, we'll start seeing resource wars, and although I've never experienced one (and I never will), I submit that it will be, shall we say, unpleasant. I don't want that. I like my species, and I would like to see it survive into space, and that can only be accomplished if we are sensible.

This is one of the reasons I refuse to procreate, by the way. Another, more immediately pragmatic reason is that children are noisy and require enormous attention, and that would seriously cut in on my fun time.

Unfortunately and unwillingly, I have started saying "1337" and "n00b" whenever I see something that rocks or sucks, respectively. I apologize to all who are affected, and I will shape up. I blame Pure Pwnage.

Go play Sudoku. It's similar to Nonograms (in that it is grid-based and Japanese), and I might very well make a Sudoku page in addition to my Nonogram page.

"Audio, video, disco!"

September 2, 2005

I made a status column for the table of read books so that I can keep track of which books I've borrowed from friends, from libraries, and which books I own in hardcover or paperback, and the summarized books now have fragment identifiers. I bought Frank Herbert's Dune series from Outland (except Dune Messiah, which they didn't currently have), and they're in the books pipeline.

Check out the new Fun section! Expect more ultimately pointless, yet fun, stuff to appear here.

August 29, 2005

I have made a web interface for myself that enables me to painlessly add and modify news posts, add new abbreviations, and add new random quotes. Hey, I'm human, and humans will gladly spend hours of hard work in order to make their lives just a little bit easier and a little bit more convenient. I have also split the books section off the Random page and made it into a full-fledged page of its own. Incidentally, I have read Fantastic Voyage. Yes, there are no fragment identifiers on the headings, and yes, the summaries are short. I will work on that.

I discovered the proper name for the alternative to military service. It's not community service or civil service, but civilian service.

I have read through two web comics, no less, since the last update. They are Piled Higher and Deeper and Machall and both are hilarious.

I'm becoming more and more proficient with Dvorak, but switching between Qwerty and Dvorak is a hassle (I use Qwerty at work).

I have played probably insane amounts of StepMania. I now survive Heart of Asia and Rhythm and Balance with an A on both. I considered these impossible only a few months ago, and I now consider P8107 impossible. (How long before I can survive that?)

August 15, 2005

During the weekend, when I wasn't home and couldn't be informed, No-IP.com decided to revert the IP address to the one of the computer on which I temporarily hosted the notice stating that my site would be down during my move. Uh-huh. It's back to the real one now (evidently).

I re-watched The Fifth Element and re-realized how beautiful it is.

August 13, 2005

My web comic rampage continues, and the victim this time is Questionable Content. A link is as usual on the Links page.

I've finished Fantastic Voyage II.

Read the essay What You Can't Say by Paul Graham.

"The people you can say heretical things to without getting jumped on are also the most interesting to know."

Mr. Schrøder is working on something which gets abbreviated to BS, and is not bullshit. The reason I'm writing about it here is that I'm looking forward to it and I want him to finish it.

You should play BloodRayne 2. This game is pure fun and the attitude of Rayne (the protagonist, a female dhampir) is badass. (Don't bother with BR1 unless you're curious; most of what they did wrong in BR1 is culled in BR2 and everything that made BR1 fun is even more fun in BR2.) If sucking blood from the neck of a punk, cutting off his head, and impaling him on a sharp object is wrong, then I don't want to be right. The level design is so awesome, and on par with that of, say, Max Payne 2. (In fact, I suspect that BR2 is heavily influenced by MP; there's the NPCs' banter, the slowmotion camera when you finish off an enemy in a cool way such as throwing him off a high vantage point, and a slowmotion view with similar post-processing effects as those in MP2.) The art is also fantastic, and the design of your opponents is simply beautiful. One of the things that makes this game so fun is the death traps into which you can thow your enemies. My favorites are a fan that you encounter very early in the game, and Tesla coils (the scream they produce when you throw them into a Tesla coil is simply classic).

When you finish the game, it unlocks, among other things, several new outfits for Rayne to wear, among which is a schoolgirl uniform complete with a short skirt (feminists would object), a penguin backpack, a dangling cellular phone, and katanas instead of the normal blades. This is truly dolls for geeks, and should give you an incentive to finish the game.

"How is living away from your parents," you say? Infinitely better, of course. I can't believe you even had to ask.

August 7, 2005

Friction burns like a hot fuel rod cannon.

I have moved! I now live in an apartment together with Niels-Henrik. So instead of being a disgruntled nerd living in his parents' basement, I'm now a disgruntled nerd living with a slightly less disgruntled nerd. This place is technically underground and beneath a fellow human being's dwelling-place, but I prefer the term "apartment" over "basement" (even though in reality, it is both). Because of this, my site has experienced a rather extended hiatus, and for this I am sorry. I expected that the apartment would have Internet connectivity relatively quickly after we moved in, but this was not so. Still, the hiatus was caused entirely by my own incompetence; I should have thought ahead. My site is now hosted by Mr. Schrøder, and I am extremely grateful for it.

I've read Forward the Foundation and The Alternate Asimovs. I have also made my very first book purchase, and the books I bought are Consider Phlebas, The Player of Games, Use of Weapons, Inversions, Look to Windward, and Against a Dark Background, all by Iain M. Banks. Now I just need a book shelf upon which I can neatly position these newly acquired items. I bought them from a store called Outland, which sells all kinds of esoteric artifacts ranging from science fiction books (obviously) to manga comics to kung fu movies to board games. To my knowledge, this chain only operates in Norway. Do these kind of stores exist in other countries? I hope so.

Halo 2 is utterly fantastic. The only complaint I have is the Cortana makeover, but that's overshadowed by the sheer coolness of getting to play as a Covenant Elite.

Site-wise, the random quotes are sourced, I have a web comic pipeline that I will eventually churn through, I have a new favicon, and I've actually gotten around to working on that page I promised. Have patience. I'm getting there.

Thomas Sydorowski asked me to do a social commentary. I can't comment on much when it comes to "social stuff" (see, even my otherwise massive vocabulary fails me here), but I can comment on things that bug the crap out of me. Like commercials and some of the dumb slogans they have. An example is that of a TV station (I say "a TV station" because stating its name would deface my site) that we have here. Its slogan is, "What you'll be talking about tomorrow". As if a TV channel has the right to dictate what I'll be talking about the next day. Their shows are crap, too. (Not that I watch much TV in the first place.) Another example is the slogan of an electronics store: "Paying too much is stupid." Well, duh.

When will Norwegians learn that their language does not have the possessive apostrophe except for words ending in s, x, or z? I blame the fact that English is slowly taking over Norwegian. I don't mind that at all, of course, but if you're going to use the language, please do it properly.

I have switched to Dvorak, and my typing speed improves slowly but steadily. Incidentally, I really want an OLED keyboard.

I finally watched Angelic Layer. I think it's extremely cute. I also finished Real Life, and as usual, a link is on the Links page.

I have mastered the Way of the Yellow Arrow.

Karan Sjet has the cutest voice ever. Hers even beats Cortana's.

I want Phanum Yeerum to play the protagonist in Prince of Persia the movie.

July 6, 2005

At work the other day I saw a black person, and, not knowing who he is or anything about him, I queried one of my co-workers, Bjarne, about him using the adjective "black" to describe him, whereupon he corrected it to "African". I found that a little puzzling, but today I discovered that he thinks it's a racist remark. He told me I should rather use terms like "dark-skinned" or "African" because of the negative connotations that the word "black" apparently carries. Now, "dark-skinned" might be okay, but unfortunately it is a euphemism synonymous with "black" in addition to being a disyllable ("black", by contrast, is a monosyllable). Calling him "African" when I don't know his place of origin is just ignorant. I might have been evil and called him a "nigger", and while there is nothing wrong with the word in itself, I am sensible enough to avoid it. Or, if I wanted to be painstakingly correct, I could call him a negroid. But then I'd have to refer to myself as a caucasian, and it's much simpler to refer to myself as a white person.

Of course, I might have circumvented the whole issue by referring to him by some other characteristic, but as I know nothing about him except that his body contains more eumelanin than mine, I found it very convenient to call him "black". Bjarne told me that the speaker of a word doesn't define the word's connotations and while that is undoubtedly true, it's unfair that the negative connotations of a word imposed by someone else should interfere with my perfectly legitimate use of that word. It's as ridiculous to take offense at the word "black" as it is to take offense at, say, "female" or "Asian" or "football player". (Assuming, of course, that one or more of these hold true for the person in question. I certainly would take offense if someone referred to me as a female Asian football player, and not because they called me female and Asian.)

I finished Gold by Asimov, a collection of short stories plus two non-fiction parts (the non-fiction parts, which span a little less than one third of the book, deal with concepts in science fiction and on writing science fiction, both of which I found enlightening). I immensely enjoyed Hallucination, The Instability, and Alexander the God.

I'm reading Asimov like there is no tomorrow, and I have to say, his non-fiction is better than his fiction. Not much better, just better. He has the incredible ability of explaining things in such a way that any intelligent person is able to understand, and I happen to love that kind of writing. A silly thought, maybe, but I feel that my opinions on science fiction shouldn't carry much weight, since I haven't read science fiction from other authors than Asimov (if you don't consider Nightfall, which was co-written with Robert Silverberg). In particular, I still haven't read anything by Iain M. Banks, Vernor Vinge, Arthur C. Clarke, Robert Heinlein, Frederik Pohl, and Jules Verne. But I guess having picked up the names, at least, is a start. Urge... to... read... rising!

I want to cull my two essays on Bases and Graphs & Functions, but I'll leave them be until the rate of new pages created is equal to or greater than the rate of old pages culled. We'll see.

July 3, 2005

I discovered a ghastly error whereby requesting a file that is also a directory (such as html_tut) resulted in the directory being served instead of the file. I added DirectorySlash Off to the configuration file, which fixes the error but makes my URLs slightly more draconian; you now need to explicitly add the trailing slash if you want to reach a directory.

I have only worked very little on that page I promised. I'm sorry; I will get working on that Very Soon Now, I promise.

Uncyclopedia is extremely funny, and since it's a wiki, its humor becomes an amalgamation of all the esoteric and idiosyncratic tidbits of humor of anyone who cares to edit an article. For instance, check out its entry on 1., its entry on the Pope, and its entry on Isaac Asimov.

Web comics are addictive. I finished Applegeeks and linked to it on the Links page. I'm now reading through Real Life, which currently has 1480 strips (compared to Applegeeks' 204).

Finished Nightfall. I think it's an excellent, captivating novel. It's based on a short story which I have yet to read (Asimov fans apparently think the short story is better than the novel).

My seasonal allergic rhinitis is kicking in again, and I'm hating every second of it. Whoever said one should spend time outside when the sun is shining is a lying bastard.

What is it that makes female AIs so appealing? Ping, Eve, Cortana. I love you all.

Sarah Kerrigan is arguably the most detestable video game character ever. Well, that's what you get when you label yourself as the Queen Bitch of the Universe.

June 23, 2005

I started work at Amnesty on June 20, not July 4. I didn't miss it, though; a letter from Siviltjenesteadministrasjonen (the administration that handles what I loosely term community service) casually mentioned, among other things, that work started on June 20. I assumed it was erroneous, as my employer and I had agreed on July 4 and since the letter didn't state that this was a change, but I showed up anyway, expecting a short visit and two more weeks of vacation. Alas, work did start June 20, and I have been working for three days now. I like it there; it's laid back and my co-workers are OK people, despite one of them being religious. But you know I don't care about that as long as he's not a zealot. I have already pointed out four spelling errors to my boss, and I wasn't yelled at! In fact, he seemed to appreciate it. I wonder why, back in school, my classmates didn't appreciate it when I corrected my teacher.

I have finally churned through MegaTokyo, and a link is on the Links page.

Reading Asimov's Second Foundation I came across one Commander Cenn, which I consistently allowed myself to read as Commander Keen. See? This is how I amuse myself. No, really; my humor can be truly simple at times.

It strikes me how very few people in Asimov's works are irrational. Sure, they may be evil, negligent, hateful, or frustrated, but they're always rational. The only irrational people, as far as I see, are the ones who are against, say, robots (like Mrs. Weston in Robbie), and then mockingly so.

I removed the IE nagbox from all pages save for the Index page and slightly shortened it. There's really no need to remind you that you're using a horribly broken browser on every page.

June 17, 2005

I've finished my 12 years of obligatory schooling, and I am happy to report that my curiosity and sanity have survived, despite several of my teachers' best efforts to the contrary. A few of them, notably Ivar Lein-Mathisen and Trond Borgen, however, did their best not to kill them, and they succeeded brilliantly. Let's not talk about my grades; they're mediocre, at best. Next up is working for Amnesty International, Rogaland division, and the date of my starting there coincides with that of USA's Independence Day, July 4. I'm still looking forward to starting.

I love Wikipedia and its concept and I have been reading articles on it for a few months now, so I decided the only fair thing to do was to make my own user page and start contributing more than correcting spelling and grammatical errors.

I reinstalled Windows XP, and my system is now more elegant and clean than it has ever been. Perhaps it will be even cleaner when/if I get around to installing Linux on it. I celebrated by playing and finishing XP Plus Pack's Labyrinth and its bonus pack. This game looks absolutely gorgeous in 1280x960 with Quincunx anti-aliasing. I tried Winamp 5.09 for the second time. (The first time I reverted to Winamp 2.91, for reasons I can't remember.) I especially like the global hotkeys, which I now use fanatically.

Try playing StepMania with both hands, one hand for each player. It's fun.

June 13, 2005

Is it weird that my last five news posts (and this one) have all been posted on odd days on a two-day interval? It's totally coincidental and it's not a conspiracy. I swear.

Even started up a new site again. As usual, I wish him good luck with it.

I finished Foundation and Empire.

In imitation of Mr. Schrøder's "English words that I think are cool", I present you with my own list.

Oh yeah. At a recent LAN party, my ethernet card fell out of its PCI port while my computer was running, fell down on my Audigy card, and short-circuted it. Blast. I have no idea where that screw went, but I am positive that it held the ethernet card firm, at one point. Oh well. Such is gravity.

June 11, 2005

The Nerdiness Manifesto is an extremely funny read, and its first addendum more so.

I wonder if maybe the typical jocks-get-pretty-cheerleaders-and-pick-on-nerds phenomenon is specific to the United States. For instance, Norway isn't big on sports in school (we have annual tournaments, but they're not serious and we don't have cheerleaders in the organized fashion that American high schools seem to have them), so we don't have many typical jocks. Speaking for myself, I was never stuffed into a locker or locked in toilets or any such thing. During my first six years of school, I was bullied a lot and a few times I ran away from campus, crying. That wasn't particularly pleasant, but that type of bullying stopped after those six years, and grew much more subtle during the next three years of schooling; one of the things I damn myself for even now is that I was so weak as to not openly admit my nerddom in fear of being bullied, and the reason I was afraid, I firmly believe, is because I was friends with Niels-Henrik, who at the time was very skinny, wore patched-up spectacles whose glasses could withstand a 20-ton thermonuclear explosion, and did "weird things" such as being reclusive during breaks from classes and play Wolfenstein 3D on the computer in his classroom. This caused him to be severely bullied, and I still can't forgive myself for not standing up for him. Niels-Henrik and I are still friends (and very good ones, at that), so I don't think he holds any grudges.

What slightly bothers me (but not to such an extend as to actually affect me or anything) is that now that I'm unafraid of positively proclaiming my nerdiness, very few people bully me about it. That's a Good Thing, of course, so I guess what really bothers me is that I didn't have this attitude then, when I really needed it.

Oh well. Site-wise, I have acknowledged Even's transcendental artistic skills on the Colophon page.

June 9, 2005

Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory's cooperative mode is awesome. I am not a homosexual, but there's something really aesthetic and elegant about two fit male superagents dressed in black leather climbing on each other, covertly making their way into all sorts of secret hideouts. What's so cool about this mode is that you really do depend on your partner. If he lets you down, neither of you can complete the mission. Hmm... You know what would be cool? A female protagonist for Splinter Cell 4. That should make for some interesting interrogations with the hostaged mercenaries.

Finished The best science fiction of Isaac Asimov (yes, my summaries are short, but only because I want you to read the books I summarize and not waste your time reading the summaries).

June 7, 2005

The subject of my social life (or lack thereof) has been on my mind recently, and because of two interesting conversations about it, there's now a new section on the About Me page.

June 5, 2005

My ability to delve into the unknown and bring swift, radical changes to my site knows no boundary. Behold, a header image! Of course I didn't make, seeing as my artistic skills go as far as cutting away unwanted parts of the image and making it alpha-transparent. Oh, and I know how to save the images. No, Even made it, and I'm very happy with it. Thanks a bunch, Even!

June 3, 2005

So yeah, my site has experienced a small hiatus, and for that I am sorry; I have been too lazy/busy (interpret that as you want) to rectify the situation, until now.

I have read two books since the last update: Fremtiden by Eirik Newth and The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown.

And when you thought it wasn't possible, my news system is getting even more nifty and user friendly! I decided to arbitrarily allow the characters /, ., and - (solidus, full stop, and hyphen, respectively) to delimit the year, month, and day in the Archive. For instance, 2005-05.03 is as valid as 2005.05/03. Not that anyone would want to use such ugly combination, but the possibility is there. Also, people might legitimately want 2005-05-03, and I'm not going to stop them.

May 21, 2005

I made one update and one change to the site:

  • All pages are now reachable via foo instead of foo.php (that is, the extension is optional).
  • Dates are now formatted for easy human readability; "May 21, 2005" reads better than "2005-05-21", doesn't it?

I love PHP and I love the merits of a modularized backend and dynamic content generation. It really makes life that much easier. Granted, my site's backend probably isn't the cleanest one in the world (although I constantly work on making it better whenever I see something is not optimal), but it works, and it works well. For instance, all I had to do to get the dates changed from the easily machine-parsable ISO 8601 format to the human-friendly format was to change $arg['date'] into date('F j, Y', strtotime($arg['date'])). (Dates are still internally stored in ISO 8601.) If I hadn't used a database, I would have to change 221 news posts manually.

May 20, 2005

I am slowly beginning to realize the shortcomings of self-hosting. Due to my recent liberal LAN partying, my site has experienced more downtime than it ever deserved. There are two solutions: Either I can get proper hosting (I have considered B-one and Micfo), or I can get a hold of a second box that stays permanently in my house. The former isn't possible at the moment, but the latter may be possible. We'll see. In any case, LAN parties are more important than uptimes. (Yes, that is a sleazy joke intended to cover up my own incompetence.)

The 17th of May is the National Day of the geographical unit called Norway into which I was randomly born and currently reside. On this day, Norwegians dress up in their national custume, bunads, march in line in big parades, wave their flags, eat ice cream, and barbecue with friends and families. I didn't participate in any of these activities, except the last one. (And even then, all I did was play frisbee with the ten-year-olds present. I didn't even dress up.) Seeing as quite a few people harassed me about this (and by "harass" I mean "ask me about it, listen to my answer, and then give out an audible sigh"), I'll try to get people to understand why. First of all, I am chronically lazy; my reluctance to participate in any given activity is inversely proportional to how fun and meaningful the activity is. I do not consider marching in line to silly, repetitive band music while waving a tricolor flag fun, nor do I find it particularly meaningful. Not only am I not listening to my own music (which is bad enough), but marching (heck, even casually walking) in line stinks of militarism.

No, no, no. I'm not ashamed of my country, as you might think. But I'm not proud of it either. Norway is a mediocre, mostly secularized Western European nation, and therefore a mediocre habitat for me. But it isn't worth the strains that are the 17th of May. Besides, I don't really identify with most Norwegians in the first place (with a few notable exceptions, of course), and would like to be classified by what I do and what I say rather than by the boundaries of the country I live in. You see, in my personal utopic little world, there are no nations, only areas and districts (or whatever you want to call them).

A slightly related issue is that of Norway's national anthem, "Ja, vi elsker dette landet". I'll be damned if I'm going to listen to (let alone sing) a song that mentions feudalistic warfare and tells me to "thank [my] great God" (that's the Christian god, in case you forgot) without a very good reason.

Cars are the spawn of Mephistopheles. Or, at the very least, the moronic bipedals that operate these machines are. Why do nine out of ten of these five-seater transportation devices contain only one individual, and why can I walk faster than they can move in the morning and in the afternoon? It's pathetic. I will take my driver's licence, but Korenchkin and Delacroix be willing, I will not allow my clean hands to touch the vile steering wheel of a car if I can help it. Public transportation, a Segway (when I eventually get one), a bicycle, and even my own feet are enough for me, thank you.

The Archive is now more user friendly than ever, and so are the permalinks. Doesn't archive/2005/03/10 look infinitely more nifty than archive.php?news_item_date=2005-03-10? A natural progression from this was of course to make, say, archive/2005/03 list all news posts from March, 2005. And guess what, it does! Go ahead, try! It works the same for years and any combination of years and months, provided there are entries for the requested year/month.

I am working on a massive page, whose topic shall remain secret (no, it's not a CSS tutorial, although that is coming, sooner or later). Suffice to say that this new page will detail one of my all-time favorite hobbies. I have already started it, but I have a long way to go. Mentioning it will perhaps imprint the illusion of a deadline in my mind. Not that I need worry about such a thing on a purely personal site (insert large grin here).

May 9, 2005

My site now features an RSS 2.0 feed for my news. I don't see why I need it, but Mr. Schrøder wants it, and when Mr. Schrøder wants something, he gets it (what with my being so benign and all).

Adding RSS to my site is probably the last bloggy thing I'll do. For instance, I'm pretty sure I'll never add comments to my news posts, mostly because most of my news posts are general updates and statements of facts rather than debatable stuff.

You know you've been Skypeing too much when you read people's writings in their own voice.

April 28, 2005

I have added very short summaries of the books I've read and a list of books I want to read.

I also finished reading Angels and Demons. Beside the facts that it was Tim Berners-Lee who invented the WWW and not Tim Berners Lee (the hyphen is elusive), that antimatter can't be used as a bomb (nor as an energy source, which the book also states it can be utilized for), and that CERN still hasn't built the LHC (it's scheduled to be operational in 2007), the book was fairly enjoyable. There's a lot of gore in the book, though, and I wonder if Dan Brown could have told the story equally well without all the graphic detail.

Avoid Coupling season 4 at all costs; the characters (in particular Jane) have completely warped, there's now way too much drama, and Jeff's sorry excuse for a replacement, Oliver, is way too bland and predictable to be funny. Seeing as Jeff is my favorite character, his disappearance really annoyed me. Now where am I going to have characters accidentally say "I have a wooden leg" and "I didn't mean you have a jar full of ears in your apartment" to women? That said, you should still watch the first three seasons.

Incredibly, I have done some semi-crazy stuff to get some russ knots. A russ knot is something you get for doing something semi-crazy, crazy, or ultra-crazy. Doing semi-crazy stuff gives you one knot, doing crazy stuff gives you two knots, and doing ultra-crazy stuff gives you three knots. The things you have to do to get these knots vary from place to place, but here are some examples of semi-crazy stuff we can do in Stavanger:

  • Stay awake for 24 hours.
  • Insist on using a taken seat on the bus (the victim has to be a stranger to you).
  • Bite a freshman on the shins.
  • Speak another dialect or another language for a whole day.
  • Walk blindfolded for a day.

Examples of crazy stuff:

  • Stay awake for 48 hours.
  • Read a pornographic magazine on the bus or another public place with great conviction.
  • Run naked around campus.
  • Strip in front of a camera at a gas station (all clothes come off).
  • Crawl for a day.

Examples of ultra-crazy stuff:

  • Stay awake for 72 hours.
  • Masturbate for five minutes during class, with great conviction.
  • Donate blood.
  • Bathe naked with a russ of opposite sex for ten minutes.
  • Run naked around a police station some time between 24:00 and 06:00.
  • Walk naked through a busy city street.

I've earned five knots, and to get them I had to eat six Kinder Eggs and assemble the toys contained within in ten minutes, crawl into a store, bark at the dog food for five minutes, and crawl out again, scold a statue for five minutes, stand still in a store window for five minutes, and take fifty trips up and down an escalator. Useless, but pretty fun.

April 20, 2005

I finally told Yvonne my feelings for her. Oh, it was no easy task; I was nervous as hell. I had constructed a long-winded speech in my head beforehand, but what she received was a severly shortened version of it and some giggling on my part. I told her that when I first met her and got to know her, I was very in love with her, and that now I'm not really sure what I am. She told me that she actually had a notion of it (I expected her to have a notion of it; I have been flirting). I told her that I really like her as a friend. I didn't really ask her if she'd like to go steady as such, but her response was that she also really likes me as a friend and she'd like it to stay that way (she added, for now). With that out the way, we got up from the table at the library where we were sitting. I fumbled something bad with the two bags I were carrying. (One of which contained Angels and Demons and The Da Vinci Code, incidentally. See Michael, I do get around to reading the books you recommend.) She noticed the fumbling. Well, she must have. Then, silly as I am, I giggled some more. I then managed to calm myself down some, and while we were walking toward the exit, I told her how I'm really comfortable around her, and that I like spending time with her. She said the feeling is mutual.

I'm very satisfied with the outcome of all this; I've gotten a better understanding of what being in love is and what not to do when in love. For instance, making an image of her in my head and then imagining her to be something much more than she really is was a big mistake. As an example, I imagined she would be really computer savvy, while the truth is that she's not competent with computers at all. Not that that's necessarily bad, of course, but the simple fact remains: I was wrong (and on more than one point, but I won't get into those), and being wrong doesn't feel good.

Two things are for sure: One, I now have an extremely good female friend, something I've never really had before and something I'm really happy for, and two, I have wasted way too much time worrying about what she thinks about me. Seriously, it feels like someone dropped an Arclite Siege Tank on me and that it has just now lifted off my shoulders.

On impulse, I joined Niels-Henrik for a beginner's tango session spanning three mondays, two hours of training each monday. While I'm sure tango can be fun for some, let me assure you that dancing is not for me. Well, tango isn't, anyway.

In site-related news, my footer erroneously contained "Hosted by dataportalen.com". That's removed now. Also, Mr. Guthrie made me aware of the fact that my CSS signature erroneously said www-dataportalen-com-pho. That's also fixed; it's now havard-no-ip-info, of course.

April 16, 2005

I have now started hosting my pages completely by myself. I left an .htaccess file at the old address (dataportalen.com/pho/) which will happily redirect people here until dataportalen is closed for good. I want to thank Alf Otto for hosting my pages all this time.

Ever since I started hosting my pages on my own machine, I have been pretty lazy about mentioning small updates and fixes here and there in my news posts. You see, back when I had to upload files to my host's server in order to view the results, I used to append a 2 to my files (like foo2.php) and work with that until I was happy with the result. Then I'd delete the 2 version and upload the real version. This means that when I did an update, changes had been accumulating over time and the change was rather big. Nowadays when I add and fix stuff, it's visible immediately after saving the file, so I feel that because the updates have already been there for some time, it's kind of old news and doesn't deserve to be mentioned. Oh, I'm wrong, of course, but feelings aren't always rational. So, in recognition of and in apology for this, allow me to present some StarCraft quotes. Also, a few new books have appeared in my book list. Yes, that table is created manually, and yes, that should really be pulled from a database and assembled properly afterward.

My job at Amnesty International, Rogaland division is now official! I was in for an interview about one and a half month ago, and while Atle Espedal (my boss) said the job was more or less mine except in writing, I didn't want to mention anything in case nothing came of it. I will start on July 4 and will work there for 14 months. I look forward to starting.

I've been watching a lot of Coupling together with Even lately. Coupling is so funny! My favorite character is Jeff, but Jane comes pretty close at times. I've also started watching anime, and the first series I'm churning through is called Angelic Layer. It's pretty cool, though I think I need to watch more anime to really get the gist of it. Some of the stuff those crazy characters do is just plain weird.

I got around to watching I, Robot. It's something special watching the stuff you've previously imagined in your head come to life on the screen. For instance, Alfred Lanning was more or less the same as I imagined him, though I imagined him to be chubby, not skinny. I also imagined Susan Calvin to be a little older than she is. The CGI in the movie is superbly done, Sonny is an awesome robot, and I really like the design of the NS-5s. Overall it's a very good movie, but there was one thing I didn't quite like. Unfortunately I can't tell you what it is, because that will basically spoil the movie for you. Suffice to say that something interpreted something in something's own way, and as a result, some other things started doing this-and-that. The problem isn't that the other things started doing so-and-so, but rather that something was behind it and not the other thing, which is usually the case in Asimov's novels when the other things start doing stuff. Also, the movie lacks a surprising and breath-taking ending, which Asimov's novels tend to have. Hmmm... I hope they make a movie based on Elijah Baley and Daneel Olivaw in the future.

Let's see... Doing a Google search for "Håvard" places my (now obsolete) dataportalen site at place number five. My self-hosted site (that is, the one that you're viewing now), is at place number thirteen. Not too shabby! Doing a Google search for "Håvard Skjæveland" places my dataportalen site at the top and my self-hosted site on place number four! That's pretty nifty.

I am now a russ, apparently. I will wear my russ clothing and hand out my russ cards, but damn it, I refuse to participate in silly activities such as throwing rotten eggs at other russ (and potentially hitting innocents), kidnapping, and getting senselessly drunk. In fact, I will not get drunk at all, as I'm a teetotaler. You will also be glad to know that I do not intend to be a nuisance to students younger than me; I was soaked in water in my first year by russ, and that was not very pleasant. In case you're curious, here's my russ card:

Håvard's russ card.

April 9, 2005

Unfortunately, dataportalen will be sold on April 15 and not June 1. Be sure to start using the other URL.

I had a pretty cool thought the other day. Close your eyes. Then, imagine that somewhere out there might be the perfect girl for you. And then imagine that the perfect girl for you really exists and that she is also closing her eyes and thinking that somewhere out there is the perfect boy for her, namely you. Call me mushy, but I think that's a pretty neat thought. (If you're anything but a heterosexual male (say, a homosexual female), modify genders accordingly.)

Is this silly, you think? Maybe it is, but God damn it, this is my site and, by extension, my silliness. :-)

Interesting fact: The fourteen first pages of Asimov's Foundation's Edge were written in 1973, while the rest of the book was written in 1981.

April 3, 2005

It appears that some people believe I am asocial and that I should socialize more. They are wrong, and on both points. I am social and I do not need to socialize more, and here is why.

At school, I have two people in my class whom I know better than the others, one of whom I also occasionally see after school (admittedly not too often, but I'm working on that). Outside my class, I have about six very cool people whom I usually hang around with in the school library (mostly girls, interestingly). We talk, we play games (not very often), and we read books. Outside of school, I have a bunch of interesting friends whom I chat with on IRC quite a lot. Some would argue that chatting via IRC isn't really socializing, but they're forgetting that there are actual people at the other end. I don't occasionally go outside to visit people, but that does happen. I'd estimate that it happens about once every two weeks or so.

All of this makes for quite enough socializing for me; I'm not going to socialize more because some people think it will do me good, and help me get more "perspective". I have an incredible amount of perspective already, I'm constantly working on acquiring more, and you don't necessarily need to socialize more to get that.

That, more or less, is my social situation right now, and I'm pretty satisfied with it. I have few friends, but they're good friends.

Enough ranting. MoonJihad linked to me, and the only polite thing to do is link back. Some of the stuff he writes is hilarious, such as The Cat That Came Out Of Nowhere and Doom 3 Review. In addition, I must echo his recommendation on some very good stepfiles. There are 202 songs in this collection, most of which are excellent, some of which are mediocre, and a diminishing few of which are somewhat poorly synchronized. But the bulk is good. From bemanistyle.com, here are some others I recommend:

March 27, 2005

First, some IRC fun:

I think you'll love the symbology and the puzzles in [The Da Vinci Code].
And if it's condemned by the Vatican, you /know/ it's good.
That's, like, the quality stamp right there: "Banned by the Vatican -- It's Gotta Be Good"
Well, they'll only ban it if it's true or scandalous, or both. It's win-win.

Second, Asimov was a hell of a writer. Sadly, I didn't finish as many books as I'd like to due to various distractions not under my direct control. The ones I did complete, however, are Robots and Empire, Prelude to Foundation, and Foundation. I won't spoil anything, but if you're planning on reading the series, you're in for a big treat at the end of Prelude to Foundation. I almost didn't believe it.

Third, distractions not under my direct control suck.

Fourth, and most importantly: Play StepMania. StepMania is an emulator for Dance Dance Revolution, a highly addictive game where the point is to hit arrows (either with your feet, as on the arcade machine, or with your fingers on the keyboard) as they pass a designated point on the screen. The more accurately you hit, the more points you get. Now, when you download StepMania, you won't have any songs; you'll have to download the songs for yourself and place them in the Songs folder where you installed the emulator (instructions on how to do this is included in the logically-named file Instructions.txt which resides in the Songs folder). A good place to get songs is Bemanistyle. You'll have to register, but I think you'll manage. The cool thing about StepMania is that it's fast and extremely configurable. Be sure to tweak all the settings you can! You probably won't understand what all the settings do the first time you fiddle around, but you'll understand when you've actually played the game some. Oh, and it uses PNG and XML. WIN!

March 19, 2005

There's now a books section on the Random page. I'm not entirely satisfied with the organization of it yet, but it'll do.

I will be away for about a week, at an incredibly dull place (read: Rural, computerless place). That won't be too bad though, because it will give me time to churn through even more of Asimov's work, making the trip less boring. Incidentally, while reading The Caves of Steel, The Naked Sun, and The Robots of Dawn, I noted that while the books feature a lot of conversation between robots and humans, I really missed conversations between robots. I was incredibly pleased to see that Robots and Empire contains a lot of that.

As for Yvonne stuff, "bleargh". After a lengthy discussion about my conflicting feelings for her with my psychiatrist, we decided that the problem basically boils down to what can be poetically described as my heart saying "yes" and my brain saying "no". (Wait. Did he say psychiatrist? He did, but he didn't really mean it.) Let me make it perfectly clear, though, that there's nothing wrong with Yvonne, but I believe we're just too different to ever be a good couple. We are, however, very good friends, and that's what I'll try to leave it as.

Play around with Meqon and RidigBody. It's great fun.

March 10, 2005

I realize that my site features a depressingly low amount of pictures, and while content is all yummy and such, I figure that a few pictures every now and then won't hurt. For instance, take a look at my neighborhood:

A view of my neighborhood.

It's cold and icy, which means I'm freezing my butt off and can't do parkour, respectively. Here, check out my workstation:

My workstation.

To the left of my keyboard is my TI-83 Plus graphical calculator, which I wish were a TI-83 Plus Silver Edition (the former has a processor running at 6 MHz while the latter's runs at 15, making the rendering of graphs so much faster). To the left of my monitor is a bottle of Coca-Cola, which I really should be drinking less of. On top of my monitor are Elijah and Daneel, my two magical easter chicks who make sure that Fisher doesn't sneak up behind me and captures me while I'm consumed in my work, and who make sure that the gnomes residing in the walls of my house don't come out from the power outlets during the night and infiltrate my CAT-5 cable's RJ45 plugs, thus ensuring my computer its incessant connection to the Internet. No, it's true!

I've almost completely rewritten the About Me page, and it's now in a state which almost doesn't make me ashamed of who I am.

It's amazing to read Asimov's robot stories, because a lot of the events in them revolve around the Three Laws and the consequences thereof. In a particularly funny scene in The Caves of Steel, a character tries to strike a robot (whom it is very hard to distingush from a normal human being) in the face, and only partially succeeds; the robot moves backward, but doesn't entirely manage to dodge the attack. After that, the robot says That was a dangerous action, Francis. Had I not moved backward, you might easily have damaged your hand. As it is, I regret that I must have caused you pain.

I am (unfortunately?) becoming ridiculously good at StepMania.

March 3, 2005

Finished gathering quotes from Deus Ex. Most of them have already been there for some time, though.

Adam Guthrie has released his site! It looks very nice and I wish him the best of luck with it. :-)

March 1, 2005

dataportalen.com will be sold on June 1, and therefore it will no longer host my pages. This means I will have to find someone else to host my pages, but that's semi-impossible right now, so I will have to go with the alternative of hosting them myself. I was hoping not to, but the new canonical URL for my site will be http://havard.no-ip.info/, and it shouldn't be stable for more than a decade (at which time I expect I'll have bought a proper domain and proper hosting).

Incidentally, my E-mail address of pho@dataportalen.com will cease to work, and I ask that my new one, which is havard.skjaeveland@gmail.com, be used. All E-mail sent to pho@dataportalen.com will, however, be forwarded to my new E-mail address until June 1. This new address should be stable for at least a few decades, unless Google does something incredibly wrong. But that's highly unlikely.

Aggravatingly, my teacher gave up trying (before really trying at all) to get all teachers to agree upon a uniform format for the classes I take (you will remember my rant about our school's filthy intranet, it's:learning), reasoning that because she can't manage to get them to do other, completely unrelated stuff, this wasn't worth a try either. I was too depressed to pursue the matter any further, so I didn't.

I have permanently moved to Saneville. If you want, you can come join me. Otherwise, stay the hell away from me.

More people should read stuff from Asimov; he writes so extremely clearly and without ambiguity, it's almost scary. I picked up Counting the Eons, which is a non-fiction book, from my library today, to take a break from my reading-through of his Robot series. Listen to this:

"If the creationists had their way, this book and many others would be burned, and we would all be compressed into the narrow, narrow bounds of their tiny and unthinking view of the universe.

Well, I, for one, refuse to cower before them, refuse to truckle to them, refuse to compromise with them, and intend only to fight them—in order to preserve my simple right to think."

February 21, 2005

My crusade against redundant pages continues, and the poor victim this time is the Test Page. I also updated the 404 page to list deceased pages, so now, hopefully, the 404 page is even more helpful.

I offloaded the random stuff I had on Index & News and put them in the newly created Random page.

If you use a monitor with a physical 4:3 ratio, you should use the 1280x960 resolution and not 1280x1024, as the former has a 4:3 display ratio and the latter has a 5:4 display ratio.

February 20, 2005

So. I finally finish NaI. Enjoy! New stuff includes:

  • The easily navigable Archive I've always wanted (and, by extension, permalinks). I might add more functionality to it in the future (like the ability to show a specified range of news items instead of just one at a time), but right now I'm just happy to have pushed this thing out the door.
  • The Full Archive, completely equivalent with the old Archived News so as to not break links (and not having to do rewrite magic).

    "With a warning label this big, you know they gotta be fun!"

  • The Articles page has been culled.
  • Internal cleanup to make my life even easier.

Big thanks go to Alexander, of course, for giving me tons of help. :-)

In sadder news, I have been very confused lately about my feelings for Yvonne. I'm simply not sure if I really want her or not. On one hand, she is an extremely sweet, intelligent, independent, and idiosyncratic girl. On the other hand, I think that we may be too different to be a good couple. Yes, that is vague and yes, that is intentional; first of all, I'm not at all sure she'd like it if I put "sensitive" information about her on the Internet (as far as I know she doesn't even know I have a site) and secondly, most of the stuff that I think makes us incompatible wouldn't really interest most of you anyway. I don't know. I'm really confused about all this. Remember, I haven't been in love, much less been going steady with anyone, for approximately four years. Call me rusty.

Oh well. I guess I'll figure it out sooner or later.

In happier news, I have reserved The Caves of Steel, The Naked Sun, The Robots of Dawn, and Robots and Empire from my local library, all by Isaac Asimov, and will be picking them up tomorrow. I'm excited.

February 16, 2005

My personal hell begins; we've started using FrontPage in my IT class now. For our first try at messing around with it, we were copying a little information sheet for an imaginary sports shop. The thing was written in a completely monotonal way: Same font, same size, same lack of bolding and italicizing. That thing would have been a great way to teach us about headings (though everyone probably knows what they are, they need to learn to use them properly), paragraphs (everyone knows this and FrontPage even inserts them every time you hit return), unordered lists (they were pure paragraphs in the text), and definition lists, but no, we wrote it like we would have written it in Word. There are even options from a pull-down menu for most of these elements, but our incompetent teacher didn't even tell us about them. While writing the thing in the code view panel (or whatever it's called), I noticed that FrontPage doesn't wrap long lines. I looked around for a while for an option to turn that on, and when I couldn't find it, I asked my teacher for help. She refused to help me on the grounds that I used the code view. Discriminatory bastard.

Here's a semi-random thought. The correct phrase is "you and I", not "you and me" and by this fact alone most songs today are rendered grammatically wrong. Heh.

Yesterday I dreamt that Yvonne and I featured in Shaolin Soccer 2. Yes, I am going insane.

A thing that has slightly annoyed me lately is the fact that Norwegians say, for instance, "this was good" while still eating the food. You don't use past tense until after the event, damn it.

I no longer underline my book titles. I have to think of the monochromats.

Listen to Shadow of the Beat now, or forever be sorry. Sahara 7 and Another Sin are magical.

February 13, 2005

Up until very recently, I have been using mIRC for all my IRC needs, but I've come to realize that XChat is very good. Not in the same way as having CSS3 readily available and supported everywhere would be very good, but in the same way as having CSS2.1 half-decently supported everywhere would be very good. The only complaints I have about the program is that there doesn't seem to be an option to turn angle brackets around nicks on (you have to hack them in yourself), and that there doesn't seem to be a way to remove the redundant space it appends to tab-completed nicks. And now for the good stuff. Something I've always wanted is for the logs to have a different timestamp format than the channel windows (or the private message windows, for that matter). XChat does that. Another pretty genius thing it does is grey out the nicks who are /away. And the logs are in UTF-8! Hooray! And finally, a client where marking text doesn't automatically copy it to the clipboard.

I finally managed to write some PHP code that extracts all occurrences of PHP code in a string (in particular, a string from a database), returns the evaluated code, and plugs it in at the right places. I love it when stuff works, especially when you've spent a lot of time on it and finally reach an epiphany where you understand the whole thing. Would you like to see it? I knew you would. :-)

function return_eval($code) {
  return ob_get_clean();

function return_php_output($arg) {
  $pattern = "/<?php ([^?]+) ?>/";
  preg_match($pattern, $arg, $matches);
  while ($matches) {
    $arg = preg_replace($pattern, return_eval($matches[1]), $arg, 1);
    preg_match($pattern, $arg, $matches);
  return $arg;

Here, have a go at this puzzle. Just read the instructions, click around, and experiment. Don't worry. You'll figure it out eventually.

I have managed to muster seven Wilburers. Keep them coming.

I got a hold of another Douglas Adams omnibus, The Ultimate Hitchhiker's Guide, which, to my delight, contains Mostly Harmless, as well as all the others that are already in The More Than Complete Hitchhiker's Guide. If this book-reading thing turns into an obsession, I might make a book reviews page. Hmmm...

February 9, 2005

I spent about an hour and a half yesterday making a text file of all my news entries for use with LOAD DATA LOCAL INFILE, and actually managed to write some PHP code that extracts them and displays them all on a page! Yay! I got tons of help from Mr. Schrøder, of course, where I should have RTFM; incidentally, he needs to be less helpful, or else I won't learn anything properly myself. ;-) All of this back-end stuff is pretty new to me, and compared to this stuff, HTML and CSS is easy.

February 5, 2005

A group (whose members shall remain incognito) of fascist, xenophobic, neophobic, and technophobic people (in varying combinations and degrees thereof) has recently decided to place an irrational and arbitrary restriction upon me and my freedom, depriving me of certain rights. I did not appreciate that. The perpetrators of these insane acts know who they are and can feel guilty accordingly.

NaI is coming along pretty well; I have managed to successfully (although after serious fiddling) implement a working database, and the things I can do now are amazing. I could not have made it without the perpetual help from Mr. Schrøder, though. Well, I could, but it would have taken far longer. The rudimentaries of the database are more or less set up; the only thing remaining is getting to know SQL better (and thus be more, uh, efficient with it) and getting various features I want in place. In related news, allow me to explain a pretty cool thing you can do with PHP and while loops. Check this out:

$query = mysql_query('SELECT * FROM foo');

while ($current_row = mysql_fetch_row($query)) {

What's going on here is actually pretty ingenious, and beats my old method (which is not even worth mentioning). For each iteration through the while loop, it both assigns mysql_fetch_row() to the variable and checks that mysql_fetch_row() returns evaluates to TRUE (it will return FALSE when there are no more rows, which is the ingenious part of it), enabling you to simply choose which key you want from the array that mysql_fetch_row() returns. Of course, this works essentially the same way for mysql_fetch_array() and mysql_fetch_assoc(), too. I can't take credit for this, of course; that belongs to Mr. Schrøder, whom I've dubbed The Efficiency Whore.

I'm almost finished with my omnibus collection The More Than Complete Hitchhiker's Guide; I have a little left on So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish, and the entirety of Young Zaphod Plays It Safe. I found another collection (by searching my local library) which contains Mostly Harmless, but unfortunately the person borrowing it hasn't returned it yet. Blast. Also, the librarian at my school ordered the third and fourth Planetes books over a month ago, and they still haven't arrived. Oh well. It's not like I'm going to run out of stuff to read.

I have been playing a fair amount of StepMania lately, and it is, contrary to the proclamations of my more testosterone-filled friends, insanely fun. It's an emulation of Dance Dance Revolution for the computer and is played by hitting the right arrow keys in synchronization with the arrows popping up on the screen. You can also, if you feel like it, buy dance mats that you can connect to the computer for a more authentic experience. Don't worry, I won't go that far.

January 28, 2005

I "fixed" some of the havoc IE wrecks on my site by serving its own style sheet using conditional comments; the navbar is no longer stretched insanely, the date heading styles have been simplified (that is, it's now left-justified and doesn't use absolute positioning to get the cool effect that Opera and Mozilla are getting), and I managed to track down the bug that made content progressively shift to the left and then almost pop back again whenever you hover a link (provided, of course, that there is a link). It turned out that IE doesn't like left borders on <blockquote>s. I hate IE's seemingly random implementation of things and its plethora of bugs.

I added links to three artists that have totally owned my ears lately: Miika Kuisma, Aura, and Labworks.

Although it hasn't been evident on my site much, for the past few weeks my emotions have been wrecking havoc with me (presumably because of my being in love), but are now finally starting to settle down again. Blasted phenylethylamine.

January 24, 2005

Let me tell you a little story.

I'm driving along the deserted coastline of Highway 17 in my buggy. Up ahead I can see what looks like a deserted, run-down house. Next to the house is a shack and around the house is a half-completed, white, wooden fence. I continue down the road toward the shack when suddenly an explosion in the background tears down a telephone pole and a piece of the mountain, and I hear the distinct sounds of Combine soldiers' chatter over their radios behind the fence. Using the Tau Cannon mounted on my buggy, I rip a part of the white fence down, revealing, as I expected, a couple of Combine soldiers. The Tau Cannon makes short work of them. I exit the buggy and make my way toward the house. From the outside, I can hear more Combine chatter inside the house as I see one of them coming toward the door through the window. I ready my shotgun and take down the one coming through the door with a timed shot. Inside, I see two more of them. A well-placed grenade from the MP7 takes them down. I take a short walk around the exterior of the house to make sure there aren't any more of them; I find none.

The house is almost rectangular and has two entries: One at the front and one at the back. I walk into the house. It has a very simple design; the first floor doesn't have any doors or doorways, except one where the door has been taken down. There is what seems to once have been a living room with an old sofa, a small, primitive kitchen, a general storage room containing a few empty wooden boxes and a wooden cabinet, and a tiny washing room just near the door. There is another floor in the house, a small attic, accessible via a rudimentary stair-case. I carefully make my way up there. There's a few mattresses there, some wooden boxes, a pair of old boots, a steel bed, and miscellaneous furniture. I make my way toward the boxes, which I suspect contain supplies, located in the far end, near a window, when suddenly I once again hear Combine soldiers approaching the house (their equipment makes a lot of noise whenever they're moving). I crouch beneath the window as one of them starts firing through it with his Overwatch pusle rifle, and finally shredding it. The shooting stops and I can hear them moving closer to the house. I quickly whip out my zero-point energy field manipulator (a contraption that allows you to pick up and suspend heavy objects in the air, used mainly for heavy lifting) and start throwing all I can find down the stair-case (the steel bed, mattresses, a wooden cabinet, a chair, even the old boots) to block their way.

I carefully approach the now-broken window to make sure there aren't any soldiers outside. There aren't, so I quietly slip through it and fall to the ground. I sneak around the corner and make my way back into the house. The soldiers' attention is all focused on the stair-case; they obviously didn't notice my escape and still think I'm up there, which makes for a relatively easy fight since I have the element of surprise.

Moments like this, my friends, is why you should play Half-Life 2.

Check this out:

"Usually, stuttering appears slightly before adolescence, and sometimes it disappears after puberty. However, if it continues to a mature age, it usually stays forever."

D'oh! I guess I'm fucked.

"A person who stutters may encounter difficulties with people they don't know, making it more difficult to make new friends, for example. As a practical note for non-stuttering people: most people stuttering would wish that the problem be ignored in normal situations. However, if stuttering causes a problem for the listener, then one should not be afraid to talk about it."

That is so true. Personally, I don't have any troubles making new friends because of my stuttering, as I don't stutter all that much in normal situations. I'm not embarrassed by it; I just think it's a boring topic of conversation. If, however, I become extremely nervous or extremely excited, my stuttering can grow exponentially in severeness to the point where listening to me requires 100% of your attention. Believe me, I know; listening to people who stutter severely can be unbearable, and believe me, it's worse for the stutterer than it is for you. If you ever find yourself in that situation, don't be afraid to point it out and suggest that the person calms down. But please, please try to contain your urge to finish words for the stutterer; it's extremely annoying and can further complicate matters if you guess the wrong word.

Why do I stutter? I don't know. Really, why? The word exists, there's nothing wrong with my vocal cords, and I know perfectly well how to pronounce it.

I don't care much, if at all, about people's disabilities, and this recently manifested itself. There's a guy in my PE class in a wheel-chair who participates in most of the activities we do, like basketball, volleyball, running (or, forgive me for this, rolling), and basically all activities involving the exclusive use of the arms. One day when we were going to play football I, silly as I am, asked him, "Well, aren't you going to play?". A few seconds later, having realized what I just said, I got a silly look on my face (I assume) and said "Oh...". I apologized, so I think he doesn't mind.

Nothing particularly new has happened between Yvonne and I, mainly because I'm a total wimp who can't handle telling his feelings to her. I have tried hinting at her; either she hasn't taken the hints (I think she has), or she's expecting me to make the first move (plausible, realistic, and fair). In any case, I think we have a very neat friendship, so there is really no need to rush anything.

In related news, Yvonne and I have been watching Red Dwarf seasons 1, 2, 3, and 4, and I highly recommend you watch it. It's like Futurama, only British and without Earth. Smeghead!

"Has anyone ever told you that the configuration and juxtaposition of your features is extraordinarily apposite?"

NaI is coming along pretty neatly. I have yet to implement a working database, but I have been working on other stuff. In the process of making NaI I have learned, and will continue to learn, heaps of interesting (and potentially useful) things about how the back-end works. There really is a lot of stuff going on behind the scenes whenever you visit a fairly complex website. Mine isn't very complex, yet there already is quite an amount of stuff going on.

January 15, 2005

I have set up a local development environment with Apache 2.0.52, PHP 4.3.10, and MySQL. I can't believe I haven't done this before. It eases development that much. Goodbye, pointless uploading!

I have also been working on my new and improved infrastructure which I've nicknamed NaI. It's already beginning to show its merits. Most of the stuff being done is purely for my own ease and comfort and will remain invisible to everyone else, but some things will be visible on the front-end. For instance, all my news posts will eventually be put into a database and assembled on the fly and you will be able to, for instance, select how many news posts will be visible on the front page.

Books are now starting to consume my time. I've always been used to reading tons of stuff on the computer, dwelling into specifications for this and that, or just kicking back and reading articles on whatever happens to interest me at the moment (mostly from Wikipedia). But holding a book in your hands, sitting quietly by yourself, and getting sucked away by it is a truly amazing feeling. I am currently reading the omnibus edition The More Than Complete Hitchhiker's Guide which includes The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, The Restaurant at the End of the Universe, Life, the Universe and Everything, So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish, and Young Zaphod Plays It Safe. Unfortunately, it doesn't include Mostly Harmless; I will have to get a hold of that at a later time and when I've finished this book.

Once I've read these, I'll have to get a hold on some of Isaac Asimov's novels. I've heard from several people that they rock.

I have been reading online comics for a while, and have made links to the ones I enjoy and read regularly on the Links page.

January 1, 2005

Seen on IRC:

Neato. You should make a "Happy New Year" entry on your site too. :P
What for?
Just because! :P

So, since Alexander made a New Year's eve post and then went on to harass me to make one, here it is.

I spent New Year's eve in front of my computer, chatting on IRC, watching parkour movie clips, playing Full Spectrum Warrior... You know, generally having fun. I've made no New Year's resolutions, because those are silly; instead, I make plans that are revised throughout the year, as needed. I find that much more convenient. My plans for this year include, but are not limited to, the following (first item is the most important, and from there on, listed in no particular order):

  • Get more serious with Yvonne.
  • Get a job.
  • Get my driver's license.
  • Finish what I believe is equivalent to high school in the American school system.
  • Start serving in what I believe can loosely be termed community service, although it's not voluntary; it's the alternative you get in Norway when you refuse to do military service.
  • Completely revamp my site's infrastructure. Done.
  • Make more content for my site.
  • Learn stuff.
  • Practice lots of parkour.

December 29, 2004

Time for another round of awesome Flash movies:

  • Hoy te amo — For some weird reason, this Flash movie reminds me of Yvonne (yes, that's The Girl's name; I figure that if she manages to find my site, she deserves to know. At least this way it's less embarrassing than telling her face-to-face or over the phone (which, by the way, I've considered doing)).
  • Walk-Smash-Walk — Weird techno music video thingy.
  • Dad's Home — Scenes of randomness. I almost choked to death on my own laughter when watching this.

    "If every coming scene of this animation is completely unpredictable to you, then I have succeeded. Enjoy!"

  • Fallen Angel: Teaser — Insanely nice and smooth animation. Level of detail astonishing.

I've also updated various parts of my site a bit:

LotR: BfME kicks so much ass. You should play it.

December 17, 2004

body {
  visibility: hidden;

Even if you don't know CSS, this should be funny. :-)

I invited The Girl to watch a movie with me this Sunday, and she accepted. Woho! We're not going to the movies (or cinema) though; we're going to watch it at home. If I'm interpreting this correctly, she must like me. This could be awesome.

If you miss my geeky side, don't worry; it will return in due time.

December 15, 2004

I invite everyone interested to join Kimmo's IRC channel, #webgurus at Freenode. See the channel website for more info. Although Kimmo initially started it, I sometimes feel like a co-founder. At least, I spend a good amount of time there, and collaborate on the website. (The style, for instance, is mine.) Not anymore.

There's not much news on the girl I really like (the name will be hidden for now. I'm sure you understand). I have this gnawing feeling in the back of my mind that we'll "only" be friends.

December 11, 2004

So, I'm in love! This is so cool, because the girl in question is utterly sweet and seems to be very smart. I need to spend more time with her to get to know her better, but that shouldn't be hard as I feel really comfortable around her; she doesn't seem to be too interested in small-talk, and that suits me just fine. What's so cool about her is that we both are able to sit in a room and not say a word to each other. And when we do talk, it's about interesting, meaningful stuff. I haven't been in love with anyone for about four years, so I kind of lack experience... Oh well... If she likes me, she'll try to make it work. If she doesn't, she doesn't, and that's perfectly fine; I'm ok with being "just" friends.

I do not want to ruin this... I have to be careful.

In more boring, geeky news: My site reaches new heights of correctness and standards compliance; I have converted all my character entity references into real characters, and now use UTF-8 instead of ISO-8859-1 on request from Alexander Krivács Schrøder.

December 7, 2004

Made a Contact page.

December 5, 2004

The observant reader might have noticed that I used HTML 4.01 and XHTML 1.1 interchangably on pages, depending on whether or not they contained MathML. I did this because I felt that since I advocate HTML 4.01 over XHTML as far as that's possible, I should use HTML 4.01 too. So I did, for selective pages. That involved a few nasty PHP hacks, so I decided to get rid of them and use XHTML on all pages again. I know what I'm doing. ;-)

I got a comment on that Christmas comment I made. I'm usually not vague like that, but sometimes even I have to vent. I see it like this: On avarage, person A will buy a gift for person B with approximately the same value as the gift person B buys for person A. So why don't person A and B just buy themselves whatever it is that they want? If I order a Hyundai 21" DynaFlat-X CRT monitor, I'm virtually guaranteed to get that, whereas if I wish for the same product for Christmas, I might get it, or I might get an uncomfortable, itchy sweater that I'll never use. What's the point of that?

November 30, 2004

So, it's Christmas again; the time of year when dumb people buy dumb stuff to other dumb people with their dumb money. It's a crazy world.

Why can't I live in a Walden Two society? Or an arcology? Or both? I want a Segway, damn it...

November 28, 2004

Learned how to remove the red eyes phenomenon in Photoshop, so I added an updated picture of me.

November 27, 2004

So, the new style sheet is ready. What do you think?

Changes and additions:

  • More colors!
  • New list item images for three levels of nested, unordered lists.
  • The style sheet changer is gone. I played around with a replacement for it, a style changer, which enabled you to change the presentation of various things on my site (such as the line-height, navigation bar position, and navigation bar state (fixed or absolute)), but it proved to be too hacky to be worth it. Incidentally, the Settings page is gone.
  • Code blocks' languages are no longer identified with a background image. It's not really necessary.
  • I found a really nice monospace font, called ProFont, that makes reading code very easy. I now use it for all the code examples. I really recommend you install it.
  • Alternate style sheets removed.

Of course, there are some issues. This time I honestly, really don't have any sympathy for you if you use a broken browser; I write 100% correct code and I cannot and will not be punished for that by having to use hacks. This site is dedicated to showing the Good Side of web development. That said, here are the issues:

  • IE rips the Archived News apart.
  • IE screws up IRC excerpts. For some reason, it hides the contents of <dt>s under the background.
  • Mozilla doesn't get display: inline-block;, so code blocks are utterly fucked (by dumb luck, IE SP2 gets it (but only for <code> elements)).

November 15, 2004

I'm now annoyed by my current style sheet and my style sheet changer. I want to dump them all and work on a new, improved style sheet, free from all the cruft and ugliness of my current one. I intend to use the holy Cascade to its fullest potential and make extensive use of @import, moreso than I'm currently making. With this change comes the ability to affect certain key aspects of my site's style, such as which font to use, the size of the font, background color, and navbar placement, among other things. I'll still have copies of the old style sheets, of course, but not available to the public (unless you hack the URL). The reason for this change is that making and improving upon one style sheet is easier and gives better results than working on and maintaining several half-assed attempts at design (and I'm not very good with design to begin with).

Do I complain a lot? I like to think that I don't, so that means I'm entitled to moan a little about stuff that annoys me. No, I'm not going to talk about the evils of abusing <table> for layout or the evils of using <blockquote> solely for indenting text. I'm not even going to complain about the evils of using proprietary code. No, I'm going to complain about real life stuff that currently bother me to varying degrees. These include, but are not limited to, the following (in no particular order):

  • The bus I take home from school is usually packed with people, so I inevitably have to stand in it, along with several others. For some weird reason or other, people who have to stand stop and stay in the middle of the bus. The back of the bus isn't on fire, nor are there any corrosive gases. There aren't even Glukkons. So the reasons for their not using this fine space remains a mystery to me. It's also highly annoying, seeing as I'm usually the first person to exit the bus and have to push my way through lots of people to reach the exit. Why don't they learn? The bus driver always tells them to move to the back of the bus (and I do too, on occasions), yet they persist to stop and stay in the middle.
  • The school's "intranet", it's:learning, still uses a non-uniform naming scheme for the classes I take. I will have to consult my teacher again and ask for an update on the situation.
  • The seats on the bus stops I use are made of metal. It's fucking cold! Why they made that decision is beyond me.
  • Most seats on the bus stops around my city center are sloped. Not only that, but they provide virtually no friction, so people can't use them unless they bring glue. I'll admit, they look cool, but style doesn't buy usability. At least they're made of plastic, so they're better than the ones I use to get to school.
  • People who pronounce "ha det" "hadem" seriously annoy me (they should say "hade"). I believe this is a Rogalandism (Rogaland is the county in which I live).
  • The weather in Norway sucks, especially this time of the year.

So, this last Sunday was Father's Day. (Scandinavian countries celebrate it on the second Sunday of November. It varies from country to country.) I didn't get my father anything, nor have I ever done so; Father's Day is a crock, and my father agrees, so it's all good. He'd rather be respected and loved all around the year, than having bitter fights all around the year except one day, where he gets a crummy gift that he could have bought himself if he wanted to. Incidentally, I never buy Christmas presents for people, and I never will. Do people hate me for that? No one's telling me. Will people hate me for that when I grow older? Probably. But they'll also hate me for not making my kids (if I get them) believe in Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy. Fools. I don't see them making their kids believe in the invisible green man on my right shoulder who is responsible for making calculators and trains work.

November 9, 2004

Yay, my very first political news entry! I won't actually say much, but rather quote an article which sums up my thoughts on the U.S. presidential election pretty well:

"You want to block it out. You want to rend your flesh and yank your hair and say no way in hell and lean out your window and scream into the Void and pray it will all be over soon, even though you know you're an atheist Buddhist Taoist Rosicrucian Zen Orgasmican and you don't normally pray to anything except maybe the gods of really exceptional sake and skin-tingling sex and maybe a few luminous transcendental deities that look remarkably like Jenna Jameson."

Oh, by the way, the quote doesn't sum up my thoughts; the article does. I just find the quote incredibly funny.

There are now four Wilburers.

November 1, 2004

Today I discovered that my English teacher didn't know what the word inexorable means. But I first had to ask him for the meaning of inextricable. So I guess we're even. :-)

Site updates are slow and will continue to be slow until Real Life stuff gets done. This means, among other things, that the Big Thing previously hinted at will be put on ice. For now. Siiiiiigh.

Grammar is fun. Some differences between English and Norwegian grammar:

  • Norwegian nouns have gender (three of them).
  • Norwegian adjectives and adverbs are similar if the noun of the adjective is of the neutral gender. Also, adjectives are conjugated according to the gender of the noun.
  • The possessive apostrophe is absent from Norwegian since we don't need to differentiate our plurals from our possessives (Norwegians, take notice).
  • Norwegian doesn't conjugate verbs according to subject.

October 27, 2004

Updates and revisions to the HTML Tutorial. Try to find them all.

October 23, 2004

By Woden! Kimmo has finally released his new site! For a moment, the head-shaving stopped and everyone stood in awe. Nas ne dogonyat!

I added phrase elements and other stuff to the HTML Tutorial.

October 21, 2004

Added some music quotes. Will be adding more, but cool songs with awesome lyrics are scarce. Now for some IRC fun:

Grammarnazi prevails!
Ich bin der grammarfuhrer!
Sieg heil!

October 20, 2004

Added a little piece of anti-IE CSS to all my .css files. And the funny thing is that IE users won't even notice. ^_^

My parkour skills continue to evolve. A lot of people stare at us when we're jumping around like crazy (I don't blame them). Some even stop and watch for a while. At first I found this a little uncomfortable, but now I don't mind. Parkour is a really nice way to get in shape.

October 18, 2004

It's probably premature, but I just want to release my HTML Tutorial. There are some topics I still want to talk about (such as validation), and even an entire collection of elements (phrase elements) I haven't even mentioned, but releasing the tutorial now might give me some incentive to, you know, actually finish it.

Web sites that fail to use <label>s for their <input>s annoy me to no end. It's not that hard! I'm baffled at the incompetency of today's "web designers" ("web fools" is more like it). It's really simple, see:

<input name="color" type="radio" value="red" id="red"> <label for="red">Red</label>

Simple, no? The for attribute's value should be exactly the same as the <input>'s id attribute. Didn't you pay attention in school? That's right, you use FrontPage or some equally rubbish crap. (Which reminds me: I'm still not looking forward to the time when we're going to be using FrontPage in our IT class.)

Although it hasn't been evident on the site, I've begun getting an interest for parkour. It's a relatively new urban "sport" (I like to call it an art). It was "invented" by David Belle in France, quickly spread to England, and is just now establishing itself in Norway. The premise is that you should overcome urban obstacles (fences, stairs, roof-tops, whatever) with flow and fluidity. In fact, just before I heard about the existence of the sport, a similar idea had already lingered in my mind for some time. I've always been a fan of Jackie Chan's movies; I adore the way he (unlike many other Kung Fu artists) uses his surroundings to fight/evade his foes, so perhaps parkour is just an extension of that. I might, when I get better, make a dedicated page to parkour on my site, but for now, check out Urban Freeflow for information and neat images and movies of what parkour is all about.

October 15, 2004

I added the Settings page. You can use this to tweak stuff on my site. Currently there's only the style switcher (moved from the Colophon page) and a new feature that lets you add or remove the Jump to bar. The Settings page is now deceased. The powers of PHP be praised!

Here's a pretty nifty thing. I recommend the Shockwave version; switching pages is slooow, and the .avi file is jerky.

October 14, 2004

Mike gave me the idea of using a "this page is printer-friendly" link in the footer. Thanks, Mike!

My pages now feature randomly generated quotes. (The quotes are real enough, it's the order they appear in that's random.) Refresh this page or go to another one, and it should feature a different quote. I currently have 42 quotes, and adding new ones is a breeze. I also slightly reorganized the internal structure of the site. Nothing visible, but it'll make life easier for me.

My father bought a new stereo, so I'm getting to use the old (but still better than my headphones) one. Whooo!

October 11, 2004

I'm currently working on something... pretty big. I don't want to tell what it is yet, nor do I want to release any links (because as we all know, I'm known everywhere to be dark and mysterious), but I can tell you that some of the nifty stuff I've discovered about PHP/CSS in the process may very well end up being incorporated into the site. And on a related note, I seriously, seriously want to overhaul the site's infrastructure to make my Archived News more manageable (among other things).

The second Wilburer, after some pushing in the right direction, has been found.

I've moved the style sheet changer to the Colophon's styles section instead of having it at the top of every single page (content is more important than style).

October 2, 2004

A pretty interesting pseudo-class has been discussed on and off on www-style. Although I haven't found a need for it myself (not that that's relevant), people apparently want a parent selector. Several proposals have been made:

  • Modify the subject of the selector chain with :subject: .section ul:subject > li { ... }
  • Modify the subject of the selector chain with parentheses: .section (ul) > li { ... }
  • Modify the subject of the selector chain with the dollar sign: .section $ul > li { ... }
  • The :matches() pseudo-class.

The first proposal is fundamentally flawed; :subject isn't a pseudo-class in any sense, it's a modifier. Also, the first three proposals all suffer from the same thing: they break what's been consistent since CSS1; the last part of the selector chain is what's being selected. So far, my favorite is :matches(). With this, you can use look-ahead assertions to determine whether or not to select the element. Say you want to select <ul>s that are descendants of any element with the class attribute set to section, and you want to require that the <ul>s have <li> children (like in the first three examples). This is done like this: .section ul:matches(# > li) { ... }. Here, the # is referring to the element that's trying to be matched (the <ul>). What's more, :matches() takes an arbitrary amount of comma-separated selectors to try to match, of which at least one has to actually match for the element to be selected: .section ul:matches(# > li.note, # > li.important, # dl.compact) { ... }. And if that wasn't enough, :matches() can be nested arbitrarily. You know what, I can't think of an example where one would use nested :matches()s, but the ability is there. :-P

On another note, the first Wilburer has arrived.

"Every facet, every department of your mind is to be programmed by you, and unless you assume your rightful responsibility, and begin to program your own mind, the world will program it for you."

September 28, 2004

You should read Stephan's reproduction of A Few Notes On The Culture.

Added a section to the Colophon page explaining the style sheets I use.

"An idea of how the day-night cycle appears on the surface of an Orbital can be gained by taking an ordinary belt, buckling it so that it forms a circle, and putting your eye to the outside of one of the belt's holes; looking through the hole at a light bulb and slowly rotating the whole belt will give some idea of how a star appears to move across the sky when seen from an Orbital, though it will also leave you looking rather silly."

September 26, 2004

Here are my findings of Opera 7.60's speech synthesizer so far:

  • It has issues with :first-letter. It'll spell out the first letter, and then read the entire sentence. So :first-letter applied to the sentence "Pasta tastes good!" comes out "Pee pasta tastes good!".
  • It says "double left angle bracket" and "double right angle bracket" when encountering « and », respectively (I believe it should say "quote" and "unquote", respectively, since these are quotation marks in both Norwegian, French, and German (although the Germans like to turn them the other way around)). I've gone through what I believe is the most correct procedure for identifying language, marking up quotations, and specifying quotation marks; lang="no", <q>, and q:lang(no) { quotes: "«" "»" "<" ">" }.
  • It has real issues with inline elements; it effectively speaks out the contents of them by themselves. Thus, if an inline element is at the end of a sentence, it'll spell out the punctuation mark.
  • It pronounces URLs surprisingly well.

You can see my test case for yourself.

If you want to change what Opera's saying when it doesn't understand your input when pressing and holding the Voice button (the default is Sorry, I did not understand), look for the file vxmstrings_en-us.ini (it should be in the root folder, most probably Opera76) and edit the line nomatch = . My line says Eim sorry Dave, eim afraid I cant do that. I wish I could use "I'm" and "can't", but it doesn't pronounce them well.

Incidentally, I've added quotes from 2001 to the Quotes page.

September 24, 2004

Yesterday I fell from my aunt's roof and hurt my back something bad. No, don't ask me what I was doing up there in the first place; I don't know. I guess I just like to climb. So, as I was going to get down, I lowered myself down the side, but my fingers slipped (and I had already gained momentum downwards, which didn't help). I hit a flower pot on my way down, hurting my back. I think the pot stopped my head from being smashed into the concrete below; I was conscious the whole time, and my head and neck felt fine. My first thoughts after hitting the ground were I gotta get up so that my aunt doesn't figure out I broke her plant, but I soon discovered I was pretty hurt. My dad came out about ten seconds later, because we were about to leave anyway. So they called an ambulance and rushed me to the emergency room, where a doctor quickly checked me. It was pretty cool, because she mumbled Latin words to herself while checking my back (most likely the technical words for parts of the body. Heh). After that they drove me to the hospital for x-rays. Luckily, there were no broken bones, but my muscles had taken a fair amount of beating. I can move much more easily today than I could yesterday, and I hope I'll be going to school on Monday. I now have much more respect for slippery wet things. :-)

Opera 7.60 beta 1 is out. The most notable new feature is the voice support, making Opera even more interactive as you can speak commands to it (I haven't tried that yet since I don't have a microphone handy). The speech synthesizer is really good and can read selected text for you. They claim to support the CSS3 Speech Module; I can't wait to play around with that. They've also finally fixed their stupid <table> + border + background-color + :hover bug. For an example, check my character test page in pre-7.60 and 7.60 (it's not finished yet and I'm only playing around with it; I take no responsibility for the veracity of the content).

September 19, 2004

Seen on IRC:

I'm serious, I could get any kind of drug at my school. I know too many dealers.
Do your parents know about this?
About my school. I dunno. They know I won't get mixed up in it.
Havard points his piercing gaze at Michael.
I don't do drugs, stop staring at me!
Havard says "But of course you don't.", then silently continues to write stuff on his notepad.
I'm not crazy! You can't tell me that I am!
bloodymike struggles in his straightjacket.
Now, I'm just going to give you a little something to help you relax...
Don't worry, you won't feel a thing.
Noooooo!!!!....Heh heh....
bloodymike snores.
There's a good boy.

September 16, 2004

<paragraph><sentence type="normal"><pronoun>I</pronoun> <verb tense="present">wonder</verb> <adverb>how</adverb> <adjective degree="positive">insane</adjective> <pronoun>one</pronoun> <verb type="auxiliary" tense="present">can</verb> <verb tense="infinitive">go</verb> <preposition>with</preposition> <noun size="plural" countable="yes">markup languages</noun></sentence> <sentence type="normal"><adverb>Pretty</adverb> <adjective degre="positive">insane</adjective><comma /> <pronoun>I</prnoun> <verb type="auxiliary" tense="past">should</verb> <verb tense="present">say</verb></sentence> <sentence type="question"><verb tense="infinitive">Find</verb> <pronoun>it</pronoun> <adverb>hard</adverb> <particle>to</particle> <verb tense="present">read</verb></sentence> <sentence type="normal"><pronoun>Me</pronoun> <adverb>too</adverb></sentence></paragraph>

sentence[type="normal"]::after {
  content: ".";

sentence[type="question"]::after {
  content: "?";

comma {
  content: ",";

In case you're not willing to decipher the content that's being marked up, the above says "I wonder how insane one can go with markup languages. Pretty insane, I should say. Find it hard to read? Me too.". GrammarML anyone? :-)

Jakob Nielsen's Alertbox, a huge collection of articles he's written, continues to suck away my time. I really enjoy reading it, because it's clearly and concisely written and every document has an extensive array of outgoing links to peripheral subjects. All his links have very good titles, which makes it predictable where you'll end up after following the link (but you should expect that from a usability expert, shouldn't you?). Suffice it to say that his links have earned my complete trust. I don't like the extremely simple look of his articles; he should really increase the line-height and set a subtle background color. But that's nothing my user style sheet can't fix. (I really enjoy applying it and going fullscreen (F11) in Opera when reading long articles.)

Incidentally, I've fallen victim to mistake number six in Top Ten Mistakes in Web Design: Page Titles With Low Search Engine Visibility. It's fixed now; instead of "Håvard's web site - [title]", the <title> element (that's what shows up in the title bar of the browser) now contains "[title] (Håvard's web site)".

The incompetency of our school's "intranet" (it's not really an intranet since you have to log onto it via HTTP), it's:learning, infuriates me to no end. And this time it's not mainly because yet another <table> gets raped or that they specify several CSS declarations' values that are the initial values anyway (yes, they actually do that), but because of a few severe usability problems. The dropdown from which you choose which class to view information about has a redundant "Go" button; the page changes immediately after you select the option. This deviates from expected behavior, and leaves me wondering what the hell that button is doing there in the first place. Another, although not as serious, thing that bothers me is that the teachers apparently can't decide among themselves on which format to use for the options. Some use the full name of the class (such as Brukersystemer, the IT class I take), some use the class code (such as 3REL, the format I prefer) and yet some have the name of my school, followed by my group (3AFB), followed by my class, in parentheses, lowercased (Sola vgs 3AFB(krø))! Is some fucking consistency too much to ask for? (Technically I haven't, ehrm, asked yet, but I will. Believe me, I will.)

The highest usability hazard has to be the interchangable use of .doc files and PDFs for our time schedules and other miscellaneous information, all of which fit perfectly in HTML. It's seriously annoying to have to fire up Word or Adobe Acrobat Reader when I shouldn't have to.

Blasted incompetence...

On a more happy note, my HTML tutorial is really starting to shape up, XML and XSLT look enticing, CSS3 will rock your world, and my English teacher, Ivar Lein-Mathisen, kicks ass.

September 7, 2004

Bloglines is a fantastic piece of online service that is used to track news updates to sites that provide so-called feeds. It's totally free and you don't have to install anything on your machine to start using it. Just sign up and start using it. It claims to understand all syndication formats, which is, from what little I understand about syndication, a great achievement. Incidentally, I should learn more about syndication and stuff.

I can now do backflips on a trampoline! Yes! Now I have to train so that I can do it on the ground.

September 6, 2004

"Everyone loves magical Trevor,
'cause the tricks that he does are ever so clever.
Look at him now, disappearin' a cow.
Where is the cow hidden right now?

Takin' a bow it's magical Trevor
Everybody's seen that the trick is clever.
Look at him there with his leathery, leathery whip.
It's made him magic, and with a little flip...

Yeah, yeah, yeah, the cow is back
yeah, yeah, yeah, the cow is back.
Back, back, back from his magical journey, yeah.

What did he see, in the parallel dimension?
He saw beans, lots o' beans, lots o' beans, lots o' beans, oh,
beans, lots o' beans, lots o' beans, lots o' beans, yeah, yeah."

It's funny.

September 1, 2004

I love badasses. I love people who state their opinions and are not afraid to do it. I love non-bullshit people. Yes, non-bullshit, that's a good word. Incidentally, I have discovered another badass: Adam Quenneville. (Link removed by request.) Maybe I should add a Badass section to the Links page? Hmmm...

August 31, 2004

Here's a pretty cool thing about CSS. You can use position: fixed; to add headers and footers (or whatever you want) to every printed page. At first it didn't make sense to me why it behaves like that, but with some reading and pondering, it made perfect sense. You see, fixed fixes the element to the viewport. In the screen medium, the viewport is what you see on your screen. It's where everything the user should read (or listen to) and/or interact with is. So when you use position: fixed; (optionally in conjunction with top, right, bottom and left) on an element, that element will stick to the viewport, at optionally specified offsets. Now, the print medium, unlike the screen medium, provides several viewports, one for each page. And so the element will stick to each viewport, at optionally specified offsets. Pretty neat, huh?

Another cool thing about CSS is display: run-in;. I haven't seen it used in practice yet, but I've seen people who have faked the effect. Its behavior is quite simple: If a block level element immediately follows the run-in element, the run-in element becomes the first inline element of that block. It's quite useful when you want, say, headings to run into the following paragraph; simply set display: run-in; on the heading(s).

August 25, 2004

"Good morning, and welcome to the Black Mesa Transit System. This automated train is provided for the security and convenience of the Black Mesa Research Facility personnel. The time is 8:47AM. Current top-site temperature is 93 degrees, with an estimated height of 105. The Black Mesa compound is maintained at a pleasant 68 degrees at all times.

This train is inbound from Level 3 dormitories to Sector C Test Labs and Control Facilities. If your intended destination is a high security area beyond Sector C, you will need to return to the Central Transit Hub in area 9 and board a high-security train. If you have not yet submitted your identity to the Retinal Clearance system, you must report to Black Mesa Personell for processing before you will be permitted into the high-security branch of the transit system.

Due to the high toxicity of material routinely handled in the Black Mesa compound, no smoking, eating, or drinking are permitted within the Black Mesa transit system.

Please keep your limbs inside the train at all times. Do not attempt to open the doors until the train has come to a complete halt at the station platform. In the event of an emergency, passengers are to remain seated and await further instruction. If it is necessary to exit the train, disabled personnel should be evacuated first. Please, stay away from electrified rails and proceed to an emergency station until assistance arrives.

A reminder that the Black Mesa Hazard Course decathlon will commence this evening at 1900 hours in the Level 3 facility. The semi-finals for high-security personnel will be announced in a separate secure access transmission. Remember, more lives than your own may depend on your fitness.

Do you have a friend or relative who would make a valuable addition to the Black Mesa team? Immediate openings are available in the areas of materials handling and low-clearance security. Please contact Black Mesa personnel for further information. If you have an associate with a background in the areas of theoretical physics, bio technology or other high-tech disciplines, please contact our civilian recruitment division. The Black Mesa Research Facility is an equal opportunity employer.

A reminder to all Black Mesa personnel: Regular radiation and biohazard screenings are a requirement of continued employment in the Black Mesa Research Facility. Missing a scheduled urinalysis or radiation checkup is grounds for immediate termination. If you feel you have been exposed to radioactive or other hazardous materials in the course of your duties, contact your radiation safety officer immediately. Work safe. Work smart. Your future depends on it.

Now arriving at Sector C Test Labs and Control Facilities.

Please stand back from the automated door and wait for the security officer to verify your identity. Before exiting the train, be sure to check your area for personal belongings. Thank you, and have a very safe and productive day."

But seriously.

August 24, 2004

A new style sheet added. I've dubbed it "Blue" because of its, uh, blueness.

Man, I love PHP.

August 22, 2004

Big changes. All pages that used to use SSI now use PHP (which includes pretty much all of my pages). The main reason for the conversion was the ability to add a consistent style sheet changer, but seeing as PHP is infinitely more powerful than SSI, I can now (of course) add more powerful features to the site, more easily. Link rot is no problem thanks to the magic that is mod_rewrite. All requests for .html or .shtml are automatically rewritten to their .php equivalents.

As briefly mentioned, my site now features a style sheet changer. It's located at the top, and enables you to change the style of my site in three easy clicks. Only one thing is required on the client side; cookies must be enabled. Fortunately, this is almost always the case. One major advantage of a style sheet changer like this is that the change is consistent over several pages and that IE also gets the ability to change the style, just like Opera, Mozilla and several other browsers already do natively.

I feel that I spend maybe too much time on the technical side of my site leaving the important bit, content, neglected. I promise that this trend will not last.

August 20, 2004

I now send the MIME type based on the HTTP_ACCEPT header instead of HTTP_USER_AGENT, and then specialcase Opera because it chokes on MathML character entities.

I'm reading about XML, and so far, it's really, really interesting.

August 18, 2004

My deepest fears have become reality. For the IT course I'm taking in school, we'll be using Frontpage. Oh, the horror!

August 16, 2004

"Psykopaten havner i fengsel i kanskje 4-5 år, soner halvparten, slipper ut igjen og dreper enda en person. Har vi det så bra i landet at vi må sørge for å passe godt på psykopatene våre og la dem drepe fritt så vi får krydder i form av angst og redsel til livene våre? Det vi skulle gjort var å sende alle de uhelbredelige psykopatene til en øde øy og la dem drepe og rane hverandre til det ikke var noen igjen. Jeg er overbevist om at alle gjennomsnitts oppegående mennesker hadde hatt godt av å slippe å frykte døden i en trist bakgate i Oslo. Tenk positivt! Tenk smart! Tenk på fremtiden din! Flytt til nordpolen."

Source: www.lokaltog.net/andre-ting/masse-rart

If you didn't understand that, you need to learn Norwegian, then come back. Then, follow this link to Kim's site and read his shit. He's like Maddox, only Norwegian and better at webdesign.

On request from Trevor Morris, here's a translation of the quoted passage above:

"Psychopaths go to prison for maybe 4-5 years, spend about half of that time there, get released, and kill yet another person. Are we really so comfortable in this country that we have to take good care of our psychopaths and let them kill freely so that our lives are spiced up in the form of anxiety and fear? What we should do is send all the uncurable psychopaths to a deserted island and let them kill and rob each other until none were left. I'm convinced that avarage, enlightened people would be pleased to be able to not fear death in a sad alley in Oslo. Think positively! Think of your future! Move to the North Pole."

August 10, 2004

I'm playing around with a PHP script made by Richard Lainchbury that generates a file listing for the directory it's in. I've made slight adjustments to it (making it valid, making it output readable code and removing general ugliness (such as &nbsp;s)) and will continue to tweak it, and hopefully, one day, learn how and why it works. In any event, this script is superior to Apache's indexing, which uses HTML 3.2 and <pre> when it should be using HTML 4.01 and <table>, which is what Richard's script does.

Progress on my HTML tutorial has stagnated because of the myriad of (mostly non-web related) stuff currently happening. I will try to get started on it Soon Enough.

Made another CSS alacrity; dialog01.

August 2, 2004

mathschallenge.net's Project Euler is really fun. I've only completed six problems, but I think I'm learning.

I've found a name for my computer; henceforth it shall be known as... Gordon.

My <table> style is changed. For the better, I hope.

July 30, 2004

I'm back.

I received snail-mail from Michael Wilcox. That was fun. His hand-writing isn't particularly good, but neither is mine. :-)

Here's a pretty cool thing about PHP; you can limit a variable's length in double quoted strings with curly braces. I've often wondered how it can know how many characters after the dollar sign is part of the variable. Now I know; it greedily takes as many characters as it can to form a valid variable name. And a variable name, as any label in PHP, is expressed with the regex [a-zA-Z_x7f-xff][a-zA-Z0-9_x7f-xff]*. The reason something like this...

$foo = "15";

echo "Today I ran $foo meters!";

...works is because the parser sees the dollar sign, then greedily consumes characters until it comes to an illegal character. Space is an illegal character in any label, so this works. If you go like this...

$foo = "15";

echo "Today I ran $foom!";

..., however, you run into trouble. It sees the dollar sign, chews characters, then chokes on the exclamation mark, and finds $foom, which is a value-less variable. As said, you can limit the variable's length by enclosing it in curly braces (including the dollar sign inside the braces is optional):

$foo = "15";
$bar = "20";

echo "Today I ran ${foo}m!";

echo "But Jacob ran {$bar}m...";

This works as expected.

Why do Jackie Chan's newer movies suck so much? I mean, why does Tuxedo suck so much? What happened to Legend of Drunken Boxing or Gorgeous? The Rush Hour series is mediocre. I was actually pleasantly surprised by Shanghai Knights. You know what they ought to do? Put Jackie Chan and Jet Li in a warehouse fillled with interesting toys, and throw fifty goons in there with them. Let Jackie play with them for a while, and then send them to Jet, who offs them. That'd be fun to watch.

Allow me to reiterate: You really should be getting Far Cry. As I'm progressing through the game, it gets better and better.

Oh, and one last thing: My HTML tutorial is coming along very nicely.

July 22, 2004

I'm going up north to visit family. Be back in a week.

July 19, 2004

I've linked to PHP Alacrity. Only one experiment there as of now, but expect more to come.

July 18, 2004

So, I'm back from my three weeks' vacation to England. Oh right, I didn't mention that. Ooops. I didn't think anyone would miss me, but I was wrong. Sorry lads, won't happen again.

Most of the time on the trip was spent driving around England (we drove about 250 (metric) miles, in fact), so I decided to read through the PHP 4 Bible by Tom Converse and Joyce Park, sans part II, which deals with databases and such. (Which I don't need. Yet.) So, there I was, in the car, reading about a web scripting language. With no computer to try out all the cool stuff I read about on.

I visited Alton Towers again, this time with my sister. Great fun, besides the queue times.

Also, I visited Alex again, which was fun. We went rock climbing, walking in the forest, going to the pub and looking at a castle ruin which ties up to the battle of Hastings in 1066 in some way I can't quite remember. But most importantly, Alex had a spare computer I could use! I eventually managed to write a semi-useful PHP script on it, which I'll soon release.

The 30 hours' boat trip home was hellish. My head is still woozy. Never again...

In other, perhaps outdated, news: Far Cry is one of the best FPSs I've seen in a long time. You owe it to yourself to play it.

June 25, 2004

Kimmo Alm (which is Indian for The One Who Cannot Decide On Things) has finally decided to put his site online. And about damn time, too! It's not that content-rich yet, but he has a great foundation for great stuff. Also, you're able to comment on every single page on his site! He's got some random quotes in the header, and guess what? He's quoted me, Of All People. :-) Keep clicking F5 if you don't get it the first time. The only thing I can complain about is his small font size.

All in all, very nicely done, Kimmo. I'm looking forward to seeing your site grow into something big and amazing.

PS: My site no longer says "Håvard's Homepage", but rather "Håvard's web site". Kimmo thinks it sounds more professional. ^_^

June 24, 2004

I'm learning Python, and it's great fun. This is my first programming language ever, so everything's kind of fun, even the more trivial things, like traversing a string and reversing the characters. Which is what I want to talk about. Here's my code:

a = raw_input("String? ")
n = len(a)

if n == 1:
    print "Your string is", n, "character long."
    print "Your string is", n, "characters long."

while n > 0:
    print a[n-1],
    n = n-1

This program asks for an input and checks the length of it. If the length is 1, it prints the singular form of "character" (along with the rest, of course). If it's not 1, it prints the plural form. It then proceeds to print the n-minus-1-th character in n (which is our string) and subtracts 1 from n every time through the while loop. The comma at the end of the print statement suppresses the line break, but it still adds a space between all the characters, which is annoying. Thankfully, Michael helped me out:

a = raw_input("String? ")
n = len(a)
i = ""

if n == 1:
    print "Your string is", n, "character long."
    print "Your string is", n, "characters long."

while n > 0:
    i = i+a[n-1]
    n = n-1
print i

This does almost the same thing, except it uses concatenation, which eliminates the spaces between the characters, and waits until the end to print the reversed string. Thanks Michael. :-)

June 23, 2004

I made two new style sheets. In Opera, go View → Style. In Mozilla, go View → Use Style. Enjoy!

June 22, 2004

"...quemadmodum gladius neminem occidit, occidentis telum est." [...a sword never kills anybody; it's a tool in the killer's hand.]

- (Lucius Annaeus) Seneca "the Younger" (ca. 4 BC-65 AD)

June 16, 2004

Browsers, mod_rewrite, SSI, XHTML, MathML, UTF-8 and ISO-8859-1 all continue to conspire against me, ensuring that my life is as hard as possible.

Once upon a time (today in fact), Firefox started complaining about what I thought was <?xml version="1.0" encoding="ISO-8859-1"?>. I tried using that XML processing instruction because Firefox apparently doesn't fetch the AddCharset directive sent from my .htaccess file, and assumed UTF-8 as the default character encoding. This was when the moaning started. I had no idea why it started moaning, but apparently it doesn't like white-space before either a DTD or an XML processing instruction. Fine, I can accept that. Then, upon some pondering, I realized that I needed to put my SSI directive <!--#include --> before all my variables so that the white-space would disappear. The white-space disappeared, Firefox doesn't complain, and it gets ISO-8859-1 like it should. However, since the variables aren't passed to the included files, you'll see "Håvard's Homepage - (none)", followed by "(none)". I've decided that you're going to have to live with that until I collect enough courage to switch to PHP.

I amaze myself sometimes... Problem fixed. It's as simple as to just add the XML processing instruction at the very top of every page, instead of only in the included one.

June 15, 2004

I feel like debunking two myths that roam around the two IRC channels I hang around in (#html on irc.homelien.no and #web on irc.freenode.net), namely...

  1. ...that <table> was never meant endorsed by a spec to lay out web pages, and...
  2. ...that XHTML MUST NOT be sent as text/html.

A lot of people will scream these things at you, but apparently they haven't read the relevant specs thoroughly enough. I quote the HTML 3.2 table section:

"HTML 3.2 includes a widely deployed subset of the specification given in RFC 1942 and can be used to markup tabular material or for layout purposes. Note that the latter role typically causes problems when rend[er]ing to speech or to text only user agents."

Source: www.w3.org/TR/REC-html32#table

Now, of course you shouldn't misuse <table> for layout purposes, but claiming that they were never intended to do layout is a lie.

And then we have the people who claim that XHTML MUST NOT be sent as text/html. Debunking that myth is also just a matter of referring to the relevant spec. The summary clearly states that XHTML SHOULD NOT be sent as text/html, and SHOULD NOT is clearly defined in RFC2119 (there's probably an RFC on how to properly sort your laundry) as:

"This phrase, or the phrase 'NOT RECOMMENDED' mean that there may exist valid reasons in particular circumstances when the particular behavior is acceptable or even useful, but the full implications should be understood and the case carefully weighed before implementing any behavior described with this label."

Source: www.faqs.org/rfcs/rfc2119.html

I'd say that Internet Explorer not being able to even display XHTML sent with the proper MIME type is a valid reason for implementing aforementioned behavior. At least, that's my reason.

Next time you want to complain about something, do your homework.

June 12, 2004

"We don't support the browser you are currently using.

We recommend you use Netscape 6 or Internet Explorer to shop our site. If you wish to install the latest version of Netscape or Internet Explorer on your computer, please click on the links listed below."

Source: Grocery Gateway

Ha ha ha HA!

"Thank you for visiting PPP lifetime care's site. We recommend you view the site using Microsoft Internet Explorer version 4 or later.

Please click the following link to download the latest version of Microsoft Internet Explorer."

Source: Lifetime Care


"The browser you are using (Opera/7.51 (Windows NT 5.1; U) [en]) is currently unsupported. Please update your browser to the most current level."

Source: Stanton Magnetics

Update? Are you insane? As of the time of this writing, I own the absolute latest version of Opera, which is 7.51.

"The Ballard Designs Web site has detected that your browser is incompatible with our site. Please use either Microsoft Internet Explorer or Netscape Navigator version 4.0 or higher."

Source: Ballard Design


"Sorry, this page does not support your browser. Please click here to upgrade to the latest version of Netscape."

Source: siig

Ok, I think that's enough.

June 10, 2004

Added outlines to pages which require them. Hopefully this will turn out to be a helpful navigation feature.

June 8, 2004

I made another version of my CSS counter test. It breaks horribly in Internet Explorer, but I don't care.

Later update: Michael Wilcox has released his blog! Congrat's Michael! :-)

June 6, 2004

Get ready.

June 5, 2004

Made a CSS counters test page, and linked to it on the CSS Alacrity page. Counters are actually pretty hard to understand (well, if you read the spec and expect it to be a tutorial), but I finally managed, so I'll try to explain how I did the CSS counters test page in simpler terms than how the spec explains counters. Note that as of right now, counters are only supported by Opera (as far as I know; feel free to correct me).

A counter is created as soon as it is referred to, and is included in the content property, in either :before or :after pseudo-elements (CSS3 will allow you to use content with any selector, not limited to :before or :after). The function for counters is counter() and like everything in the content property (be it a string, the attr() function, url()...) it is concatenated with the rest with a space. counter() takes an identifier (and optionally any value from list-style-type, separated with a comma) as its argument. Put another way, you name your counters as you see fit. So, first we'll want to generated the string "Chapter " followed by the chapter number followed by the string ": " before an <h1> element:

h1:before {
  content: "Chapter " counter(chapter) ": ";

Actually, this won't do much good; the only thing it'll do is prefix "Chapter 0: " to every <h1> element. We want to increment it by 1 every time another <h1> is encountered. This is done with the counter-increment property. This property takes an identifier plus an optional integer as its value (or even several of the two). The integer specifies how much the counter is incremented each time the element is encountered, and can even be negative. The default value is 1 however, which fits our need just fine, so we can omit the integer in this case. Our CSS now looks like this:

h1:before {
  content: "Chapter " counter(chapter) ": ";
  counter-increment: chapter;

Note that the counter is incremented before it's prefixed to <h1>, even though content appears before counter-increment in the source.

That takes care of our most important headings. Now we want to prefix our <h2>s with "Section " followed by the current state of the chapter counter, followed by a dot, followed by a new counter we'll create called counter(section). Remember that counter(chapter) isn't incremented by anything else than <h1>, so it'll stay the same throughout all <h2>s until they're interrupted by another <h1>:

h2:before {
  content: "Section " counter(chapter) "." counter(section) ": ";
  counter-increment: section;

Uh-oh! What happens to the <h2>s interrupted by an <h1>? You're absolutely right; they'll just keep counting, which is not quite what we want. The counter-reset property will take care of that little problem. It has the exact same syntax as counter-increment, except that the optional integer specifies to what value the counter is set when being reset (the default is 0, which is what we want, so we omit the integer once again). So for every <h1> encountered, we want counter(section) reset. Here's the first CSS rule, modified:

h1:before {
  content: "Chapter " counter(chapter) ": ";
  counter-increment: chapter;
  counter-reset: section;

This means that we must also reset the counter for our <h3> elements (which we'll call counter(sub-section)) whenever an <h2> element is encountered. Our second CSS rule is thusly modified:

h2:before {
  content: "Section " counter(chapter) "." counter(section) ": ";
  counter-increment: section;
  counter-reset: sub-section;

So as you can see, counters are pretty nifty. Realize that counter-increment doesn't need to be in the same rule block as the counter() it increments. This allows for cool effects, such as, say, counting the number of paragraphs on a page and displaying the results at the bottom of the page. (Though a silly idea, it's a good way to understand counters.) Create a dummy <div> at the bottom of the page, called, say, <div id="para_counter">. CSS is as follows:

p {
  counter-increment: paragraphs;

div#para_counter:before {
  content: "There are " counter(paragraphs) " paragraphs on this page.";

Incidentally, I now use counters to count the number of quotes I have on the Quotes page.

June 2, 2004

What if tomorrow the war could be over? What if we could build sites that won't fall apart in future browser releases? Isn't that worth fighting for? Isn't that worth developing for?

Source: http://adactio.com/articles/1109//1

Jeremy Keith's CSS Based Design is one of the best funniest articles I've ever read. A good, funny primer to CSS.

May 31, 2004

May 30, 2004

May 27, 2004

I've started writing articles, and hence I've linked to the Articles page. Deceased. I've spent a whole lot of time reading about web related stuff, so I figured it's time I wrote something myself, since only now do I feel proficient enough to do so. I'm also planning on making an HTML tutorial and if that goes well, a CSS one, so consider the articles a warm-up for this. I'm having troubles figuring out how to structure them though, since I have so much to say about subjects peripheral to HTML, and a lot of rants lurking in my brain which could potentially ruin an otherwise decent tutorial. I also sometimes have a tendency to rush my explanations on given subjects, if I know a lot about them myself. Oh well, I'll just have to try to see, right?

In other news, the much-anticipated Deus Ex modification Redsun 2020 has finally, finally been released. I've played a couple of levels into the mod, and I can tell you, it's been worth the wait.

Rockstar North's Manhunt is cool. The gameplay is sweet, and the AI seems to be incredibly advanced. And I absolutely love the comments from NPCs.

May 21, 2004

Ever wanted to play a blob of tar with more maneuverability than Jackie Chan, twice the toughness of Jet Li, and with a wider range of facial expressions than Steven Seagal? Look no further: Gish is what you need.

May 16, 2004

I've been trying and trying to integrate \(a^x\) but never made it. That is, until a class-mate of mine helped me. The answer was right in front of me, but I didn't see it. Anyway, here goes. We set it up:

$$\int{a^x} dx$$

Next, we transform it a little:

$$\int{e^{\ln a^x}} dx$$

The rest is pretty straight-forward:

$$\int{e^{x \ln a}} dx \\= \frac{1}{\ln a} e^{x \ln a} \\= \frac{1}{\ln a} e^{(\ln a^x)} \\= \frac{1}{\ln a} a^x \\= \frac{a^x}{\ln a}$$

May 15, 2004

\(\int_{10}^{13} 2x dx\) ?

Best... pickup line... ever!

I need one of these.

May 11, 2004

I removed the links on all the code examples. There's really no need for them.

And now, for a pretty cool math task I did today.

Find the indefinite integral of the following function:

$$f(x) = ae^x - \frac{1}{2b\sqrt{x}}$$

We start by setting it up:

$$\int{\left(ae^x - \frac{1}{2b\sqrt{x}}\right)} dx$$

I'll turn the expressions into exponentials, so that we can integrate them:

$$\int{\left(ae^x - \frac{1}{2} b^{-1} x^{-\frac{1}{2}}\right)} dx = ae^x - b^{-1}\sqrt{x} + C$$

This gives us the following integrated function:

$$F(x) = ae^x - \frac{\sqrt{x}}{b} + C$$

May 8, 2004

The W3C validator has got a face-lift, and it looks sweet. Other new things include a fallback DTD in case one isn't specified and better explained error messages. So if you're one of the sloppy guys writing invalid HTML, you'll love the new error messages. :-)

Been spending some time acquainting myself with regular expressions. Although I haven't found any practical use for it myself yet, I definitely see the power they entail. For instance, had I known about regular expressions before my switch to ISO 8601, the whole process of converting the dates from DD.MM.YYYY to YYYY-MM-DD would be automated, and I wouldn't have had to spend half an hour doing it manually. I could have searched for ([0-3][0-9]).([01][1-9]).(200[34]) and replaced it with 3-2-1. *sigh*

May 6, 2004

Added some more links to the CSS section of the links page.

May 5, 2004

MathML is very cool, and viewing a piece of MathML in, say, Firefox (with the associated fonts) is an utter bliss. But do you realize how extremely verbose it really is? Take the example of x^2. Here's how you would mark it up with HTML:


Which renders as such:


Here's the same expression in MathML:

<math xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1998/Math/MathML">

Which renders like this (assuming, of course, you're using Firefox or Mozilla):


Not really too verbose. But it gets worse if you have something like 2x^5a. HTML:


Which renders as:


And with MathML:

<math xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1998/Math/MathML">

And rendered:


That's pretty verbose, no? There are several reasons why I bother.

  1. It's superior to using images and plain text.
  2. It can nest expressions to arbitrary depths.
  3. It prints and renders well.
  4. It's computable. I haven't seen a UA which can do this yet, nor have I really looked for one. But the idea is exciting.

May 3, 2004

I have thoroughly tested Firefox, and come to the conclusion that it's awesome. In addition, and after some tweaking, I got it to behave kind of like Opera, too. Firefox, when installed, is lightweight and doesn't really have all that many features. This is where extensions come into play. If there's a feature you're missing, simply install the corresponding extension. Here are two good repositories that I've found: David Tenser's extension page and MozDev's Extension Room. Here are the steps required for Firefox to behave almost exactly the same as Opera:

  1. Download and install Session Saver. This will make Firefox remember opened windows and their history after you close an instance.
  2. Download and install Mouse Gestures. This enables, well, mouse gestures. To perform a mouse gesture you hold down a mouse button (configurable) and move the mouse in a set pattern. (People who have played Black & White should be familiar with it.)
  3. I really like how the mouse cursor didn't change when you hovered over normal text in Opera. You can mimic this behavior in Firefox by adding this to your html.css file (located in the /res/ folder where you've installed Firefox):
    *:hover {
      cursor: default;

Other extensions of interest include Minesweeper, BlockFall (a Tetris clone) and the Mozilla MNG Decoder, which enables MNG support.

I feel like talking about BNF. BNF is a method for describing syntax. The CSS specs use a slightly modified version of BNF, which was what got me interested in finding out more about it in the first place. As far as my understanding goes, there are two offsprings of BNF; EBNF, which is standardized in ISO 14977, and ABNF, which is documented in RFC 2234. The differences between the three are small and annoying, so I'll try sticking to EBNF. So. BNF (whatever the flavor) is composed of production rules. A production rule looks like this:

foo ::= bar

::= means "is defined as". The production rule is read "foo is defined as bar". The production then looks like this:


We start with foo, and bar is produced. Fairly simple. We can complicate things a little:

foo ::= bar
bar ::= baz
baz ::= diligo

This gives the following production:


We take what's on the left side of ::= and substitute it with what's on the right side. Consider the following:

foo ::= bar | baz

The vertical bar indicates a choice. "foo is defined as bar or baz, but not both". The production can then be either




but it can't be

bar baz

There are several operators which make things all the more interesting. We have the three wildcard operators ?, * and +. ? means that an item must appear zero or one times (or, if you prefer, the item is optional), * means that an item must appear zero or more times and + means that an item must appear one or more times. If you want to explicitly specify how many times an item is to appear, you use {A,B}, where the item appears at least A times and at most B times. If you want foo to appear exactly five times, you'd write foo{5,5}. Parentheses are used for grouping, and quote marks denote a string (that is, it's supposed to be written out exactly how it's represented, without the quote marks). Strings are called terminals, since they can't be further defined. Similarly, number and digit are non-terminals, since they can be further defined. Here, I've defined the construction of a number that can be negative and/or fractional. See if you can decipher it. :-)

number ::= "-"? digit+ ("." digit+)?
digit  ::= "0" | "1" | "2" | "3" | "4" | "5" | "6" | "7" | "8" | "9"

April 27, 2004

Violent movies and video games don't turn rebellious adolescent youths into vicious killers. Articles like these do. It spews a whole lot of nonsense, and completely fails to support its claims. For instance:

"Same conformist thinking, same lousy outcome."

Uh-huh. Take a look at, oh, say, the CSS Zen Garden. This is of course the obvious example. Now, take a look at diveintomark, SimpleBits, stopdesign, Meyerweb, Musings, Brainstorms & Raves, mezzoblue, Andy Budd's site, Photo Matt, The Daily Report, and the obligatory CSS examples. Need I go on?

In other news, and unlike David Emberton, Kill Bill Vol. 2 is awesome. You should watch it.

April 25, 2004

I have changed from using the European date format (dd.mm.yyyy) to using the ISO 8601 date format (YYYY-MM-DD), on recommendation from Michael Wilcox. ISO 8601 is an international date format used by several companies worldwide, with still more people starting to use it. It has several advantages over the European style, which I will not go into here (you know how to google, don't you?). Incidentally, the fragment identifier for the news items now use #YYYY-MM-DD #nYYYY-MM-DD instead of the old #ddmmyyyy.

April 24, 2004

Downloaded and tested Opera 7.50 beta 1. It claims to accept application/xhtml+xml, so it gets application/xhtml+xml, which is awesome. However, because of this, it chokes on some MathML character entities, spewing out the offensive code when it encounters the first one, then stops processing the rest of the document. This is, in fact, the way XML parsers should behave when they encounter errors. But it shouldn't choke on those character entities in the first place. Since my navigation bar is at the bottom of the source, it doesn't display on pages with the MathML character entities. That sucks. I've informed Opera about this, and I really hope it gets fixed before the final release.

April 20, 2004

Woohoo! I made the X-Philes! :-D

April 13, 2004

Busy, busy, busy.

Completed XHTMLizing and MathMLizing everything, in addition to figuring out how to properly serve application/xhtml+xml to every UA that can handle it. Posts and pages containing MathML have proper notices about it, with a link which directs you to the MathML section of the Colophon page where instructions on how to get MathML working reside. And now, for your viewing pleasure, a random mathematical equation:

$$f'(x) = \lim_{{\Delta}x\to0} \frac{f(x + {\Delta}x) - f(x)}{{\Delta}x}$$

Of course, this change means IE fucks something up. I mean, of course! It's beginning to feel more and more like a natural law. Now, the aforementioned annoyance doesn't really matter much, it's just dead ugly. At the very top, it displays the following characters: ]>. I know how to fix it, but I won't. Why? Because that means more code. Those characters are part of an entity I've defined, namely &m;. I can use this entity in the xmlns attribute which has to appear in every single <math> start tag instead of the inferior (and long) URL http://www.w3.org/1998/Math/MathML.

April 10, 2004

Ok, I've made the decision: As soon as I finish converting everything from HTML to XHTML, my documents will be sent as application/xhtml+xml, with no content type rewriting magic done server side. This means, as you probably already know, that IE users will be "blocked" out of my site. Incidentally, I've changed my philosophy somewhat. I no longer see it as me blocking users from my site; the content is out there, and it's viewable. It's your software that sucks. Get, something, better.

Actually... no. That was done in a blind rage. Never mind. I'm not going to do it. I'll use server side magic to serve application/xhtml+xml to Mozilla and text/html to the rest. The nice people in #web reminded me that people using text-only browsers will also be prompted to download it, which just isn't nice.

April 5, 2004

Added access keys to my site. Details on the Colophon page.

Removed the XHTML commandments page. It was really just silly.

April 1, 2004

I made a new design. Like it? I do. I was very inspired by Even. He really knows how to properly design web pages! April fool! The April fool style sheet is linked to as an alternate style sheet, so if your browser has that feature, you can select it.

March 28, 2004

Go watch Magnolia. Now. It's a masterpiece.

March 23, 2004

Annoying discovery of the day: The W3C validator doesn't pick up missing character entity end delimiters (;) for HTML. Since I've always validated against the HTML standard (specifically, HTML 4.01 Strict), I've always been blissfully ignorant of this, but as I'm converting all my documents to XHTML (because of MathML) I'm haunted by "reference not terminated by REFC delimiter" errors. Now, the validator doesn't do anything wrong with not picking these errors up, as REFC delimiters are optional in SGML but required in XML (and it does pick them up when validating against any version/flavor of XHTML). These errors are my own, but I'm a little annoyed about how lenient SGML is...

March 20, 2004

I once tried to get MathML working, to no avail. Now I see why; I sent it as text/html when I should have been sending it as application/xhtml+xml, which is the proper MIME type for XHTML. With this knowledge, I put up a MathML test suite, where I'm basically playing around with MathML.

Now, IE users trying to retrieve documents sent as application/xhtml+xml will be prompted to download it, which means that I, even though it's not even my fault that IE sucks, have to find a way to send it as text/html to IE and application/xhtml+xml to everything else (unless I find out that there's another browser out there that can't handle the application/xhtml+xml MIME type correctly). I'm this close to just sending my documents as application/xhtml+xml to everything, and in the process ban IE users from my site. Is that smart? No. Is it tempting? Hell yes!

IE is the bane of my existence...

March 19, 2004

Let's have a little look-see at XHTML 2.0, shall we?

First up, we have <blockcode>. This will come in handy, since it beats <code class="block">. (<code> is an inline element by default.)

Then we have the <section> and <h> elements, and the suggested deprecation of <h1> through <h6>. A basic document structure in HTML:

<h1>Main title</h1>

<p>First paragraph of the main title.</p>

<p>Second paragraph of the main title.</p>

<h2>Sub title 1</h2>

<p>First paragraph of first sub title.</p>

<p>Second paragraph of first sub title.</p>

<h2>Sub title 2</h2>

<p>First paragraph of second sub title.</p>

<p>Third paragraph of the main title.</p>

But wait a minute. How do we know that the last paragraph "belongs", if you will, to the main title? With XHTML 2.0, you'd nest <section> elements. The level of nesting indicates the importance of the <h> embedded somewhere in there, thus allowing arbitrary levels of headings (no longer restricted to six levels):

  <h>Main title</h>

  <p>First paragraph of the main title.</p>

  <p>Second paragraph of the main title.</p>
      <h>Sub title 1</h>

      <p>First paragraph of first sub title.</p>

      <p>Second paragraph of first sub title.</p>

      <h>Sub title 2</h>

      <p>First paragraph of second sub title.</p>
  <p>Third paragraph of the main title.</p>

There. Now the last paragraph has a proper parent. Or sibling, depending on how you view it.

I don't yet know where I stand on the deprecation of <h1> through <h6> issue. On one hand, it would be nice to be able to choose your style. On the other hand, XHTML 2.0 isn't supposed to be backward compatible with any previous version of HTML or XHTML (HTML 2.0, HTML 3.2, any flavor of HTML 4.0 and HTML 4.01 (Strict, Transitional and Frameset), XHTML Basic, any flavor of XHTML 1.0 (Strict, Transitional and Frameset) and XHTML 1.1).

Oh, and <l>, which stands for line. This'll be used to mark up lines of text, like a poem or a piece of computer code. Doing it like this (as opposed to using <br>), will allow you to automatically add line numbers. To quote the specs:

"By retaining structure in text that has to be broken over lines, you retain essential information about its makeup. This gives you greater freedom with styling the content. For instance, line numbers can be generated automatically from the stylesheet if needed."

Source: www.w3.org/TR/xhtml2/mod-inline-text.html#sec_9.7.

It's pretty cool, but you can do something similar, today, in HTML, using list items and some CSS. Check out Simon Willison's Numbered Code Listing Experiment.

<q> is now <quote> and it's now the author's responsibility to add quote marks, not the UAs'. Otherwise, there are no differences between the two.

This is far from a comprehensive look at XHTML 2.0, it's just scratching the surface a little.

March 14, 2004

Added quotes from NOLF. Onward to NOLF2.

March 10, 2004

Went through the Archived News and deleted the title attribute of every <acronym> element whose acronym was already defined at the first occurrence in a given post. Eh, what I mean to say is, only the first occurrence of an acronym in a post has its title attribute set. This makes my posts appear cleaner, without all those pesky dotted underlines for each and every single acronym.

The clouds are gone, the sun is here... I reckon I should re-assemble the ping-pong table and play some ping-pong! ("Heh, he said table.")

March 9, 2004

Stupid realization of the day: Floats in CSS potentially span several elements, depending on whether they need to or not. At first I found this weird, but upon further pondering it made perfect sense. You see, that's the behavior you'd expect most of the time. Want it to keep its place within the containing element? clear to the rescue.

Drawing overlapping vectors sucks. I can't find a suitable way to do it! Currently, I use curly braces to mark sections along the line, but this is far from optimal. Especially with more than two overlapping vectors.

February 25, 2004

Magnus Haugsand has written a great article on the topic of centering things with CSS in Norwegian. Expect more to come.

February 24, 2004

Seen on IRC:

sorry if I'm not as good as the rest in here, but I'm willing to learn.
less sarcasm and more helping please.

I wish more people had the same mind set; there would be a lot less sarcasm and a ton more help then.

February 23, 2004

Fixed the stupid gap that IE inserts between my navigation bar list items. It has something to do with IE flipping out when you use display: block; on anchors inside list items. In short, it's remedied by setting the list item's display value to inline. I'll research this some more, perhaps even make an extensive test suite. Thanks very much to John Serris for cluing me in.

February 22, 2004

I don't usually like Flash movies, unless there's an exceptionally good one. And every once in a while, they pop up. Here are some that I like:

February 21, 2004

I was very inspired by Eric Meyer's Pure CSS Popups and decided I'd try to improve on his technique, resulting in popup01 and popup02 on the CSS Alacrity page. His example lets the link and the link description run into each other, making it hard to see what the link is and what the link description is on UAs without CSS support. My immediate reaction was to use definition lists with the links in <dt>s and the link descriptions in <dd>s, like this:

  <dt><a href="#">Home</a></dt>
  <dd>This will take you to the heart of my den.</dd>


  <dt><a href="#">Jason</a></dt>
  <dd>Jason's little corner. He has some interesting stuff going.</dd>

But this soon presented problems of its own. I thought I could use the adjacent selector to select the <dd>s when the <dt>s are hovered (I really wanted to avoid this since IE doesn't understand :hover for anything else than <a>):

dt:hover + dd {

For some reason or another, this does not work in Opera or Mozilla. Doing it the other way around (dt + dd:hover) works, but of course serves no purpose for what I want to do. So I looked for other alternatives. The first one, popup01, is almost identical to Meyer's example. The only difference is that all the links are in separate list items, and the link descriptions are separated by a hyphen, making it easier to see where they begin. Still, everything has to be within a link, with the descriptions in pointless <span> tags. I can do better.

The second one, popup02, is visually identical to the first one but structurally different; the descriptions are now in the title attribute of the links and extracted using CSS generated content, then positioned appropriately. This means that UAs not capable of handling generated content will still get the description, assuming they have a way to retrieve the title. Most do, in the form of hovering the mouse over the element.

Of course, both are displayed correctly and exactly the same in Opera, like they should. I mean, of course! Opera is king. Mozilla has an interesting, but wrong, rendering of popup02; it doesn't recognize that the generated content is being taken out of the document flow and thus displays it inside the list item.

This CSS business is fun.

February 15, 2004

Here's a thought. What if one could select character entities in CSS? If you wanted your right-pointing arrows to be a little bigger, you could do this:

&rarr; {
  font-size: 120%;

Or if you wanted a "tooltip" to appear over your weird Norwegian characters (æ, ø, å) to indicate pronounciation, you could do this (provided you've marked them up as character entities and not typed them directly as you can do if you use the iso-8859-1 character set):

&aring;:hover:after { background: #ccc; border: 1px solid #000; content: "This character is pronounced like the 'a' in the word 'all'." position: absolute; top: 10px; left: 10px; }

Or if you plain simply just want to indicate where all your character entities are, you could make them all red by doing something like this:

&*; { color: #f00; }

February 13, 2004

This is cool. You can validate the current page in Opera by pressing ctrl + alt + v.

February 11, 2004

Ok, my redesign is more or less complete. The navigation bar is no longer a <table>, but instead an unordered list. It's now at the bottom of the source code but is brought to the top in visual media with CSS, and hidden in the print medium. Since the navigation bar is now structurally at the bottom, people using alternative or assistive UAs (such as screen readers or text-only browsers) will be presented with the main content first, and a generic link at the top of each page which enables them to quickly jump to the navigation (this is hidden in visual media, of course). All this makes for great accessibility.

Now, the navbar doesn't look all that good in Internet Explorer. It seems that setting display: block; on <a>s inside <li>s makes the <li>s really space out. I've been trying to find a workaround, to no avail. I could do display: inline; on them, but that would break the border across lines, which only makes it look worse in both IE and other browsers.

The Files page is gone. Maybe I'll put it back up when I have some real content to put there.

Like it? Hate it? Let me know at havard.skjaeveland@gmail.com.

February 10, 2004

January 29, 2004

Found a riddle I think is quite neat. It's written by Einstein, who supposedly claimed that only 2% of the world population would be able to solve it, but I really doubt that's true; it isn't really hard if you've got the patience and look at the facts one at the time. So here goes:

  • In a street there are five houses, painted five different colors.
  • In each house lives a person of different nationality.
  • These five homeowners each drink a different kind of beverage, smoke different brands of cigar and keep a different pet.

Find out, by utilizing these facts, who owns the fish:

  1. The Brit lives in a red house.
  2. The Swede keeps dogs as pets.
  3. The Dane drinks tea.
  4. The green house is on the left of the white house.
  5. The owner of the green house drinks coffee.
  6. The person who smokes Pall Mall rears birds.
  7. The owner of the yellow house smokes Dunhill.
  8. The man living in the center house drinks milk.
  9. The Norwegian lives in the first house.
  10. The man who smokes Blends lives next to the one who keeps cats.
  11. The man who keeps horses lives next to the man who smokes Dunhill.
  12. The man who smokes Blue Master drinks beer.
  13. The German smokes Prince.
  14. The Norwegian lives next to the blue house.
  15. The man who smokes Blends has a neighbor who drinks water.

January 27, 2004

I found this little neat article floating around the 'net: 30 Days to Becoming an Opera7 Lover which deals with all the nice features in Opera.

January 25, 2004

Added another entry to the CSS Alacrity page; pos. It's supposed to be some kind of pseudo ad for CSS. A lot of suggestions for the slogan were flying back and forth, such as "CSS: Sense from style.", "CSS: When you've had enough dancing on the <table>.", "CSS: Weapon of <table> destruction.", "CSS: Keep your layouts off the <table>.", "CSS: Layout with <style>." and "CSS: Who gives a shit?", but I ended up choosing Tom Gilder's "CSS: Relearn your <table> manners.".

January 20, 2004

So, Even (remember, capital first letter means it's a name) has again started works on a new web site. It looks really nice, and uses very clean markup. Also, he promised me he'd actually follow up and update this one! :)

January 18, 2004

January 17, 2004

I've been playing quite a bit of DX:IW lately, and come to the conclusion that the game doesn't actually suck as much as the demo would have you believe, if you try to ignore all the goofy little things they messed up. Ok, let's rant.

The interface sucks. I'll summarize:

  • When clicking a menu item, there's about a half second delay before the submenu shows. Combined with the fact that there's no quick save, saving the game in this fashion quickly becomes a nuisance.
  • The notes section has adopted the functionality of the log tab from DX and you can no longer take notes by yourself.
  • The font size doesn't change when you change the resolution.
  • You no longer have a log of your communications.
  • Strangely, the game automatically deletes images which no longer apply to your current mission, which is stupid. I loved browsing through all the images I'd collected at the end of DX.
  • The inventory has been radically redesigned; say goodbye to drag-and-drop and welcome click-and-click. Also, you can no longer assign a number to objects for your tool belt.
  • The objects in your inventory have way too little information. What happened to information overdose à la System Shock 2?
  • There's an individual shortcut key to different screens; no more tabs.
  • Computer credentials and keypad codes are now invoked automatically (and not saved as notes). Say goodbye to wasting thirty minutes guessing a three-digit code, starting with 000.
  • Skills are gone.
  • Credits from ATMs are retrieved automatically.
  • The interface is generally too console-looking and intrusive, cluttering up your view.

In addition, the lockpick and multitool are still merged into a weird little piece which emits orange light. Not only does this look goofy, but what good does sending electronic impulses to a steel door do?

There are also some bright sides of the game, the ones that make me want to play the game in the first place. The graphics have been beefed up quite a bit. Every light source is now dynamic, and every object in the game casts and receives realistic shadows. Also, most (if not all) textures are bump-mapped, which makes for some pretty amazing effects, especially on the clothing of NPCs.

The game's got a full-fledged physics system. This is the first game I've seen where rag dolls interact with each other and not only with the environment. In fact, every inanimate object in the game interacts with everything else. Havoc time!

The story is awesome. The Omar are badasses. The new spiderbot is cool.

An Omar.

The non-linearity of the story is enhanced quite a bit, since different factions give you different objectives to complete, and your alignment with them depends on how (or if) you complete their objectives. Furthermore, these factions often give you conflicting goals, forcing you to choose between them. Also, there are (like in the first game) a lot of subquests you can do to earn extra credits.

January 6, 2004

The Nonogram page has been linked to. For now, there are only three custom puzzles. I intend to add more as I make them.

January 1, 2004

Added yet some more Futurama quotes.

December 15, 2003

December 13, 2003

December 11, 2003

So Max Payne 2 is very very cool. First of all, it kept all that was good from Max Payne 1, enhanced some features that needed enhancing, and added a bunch of stuff seamlessly into the gameplay. Truly a worthy sequel.

The most notable new feature in this game is the physics engine. When I first fired up the game I wasn't aware that there even was a physics system; imagine my surprise when I sent the first enemy flying into a pile of boxes, shelves, mops, buckets and whatnot ^-^. The ragdolls are a bit easy to send sky high, but it's definitely not as bad as in the DX:IW demo.

The bullet time system differs from Max Payne 1 in two respects (or three, if you count the post-processing effects). The only way to accumulate bullet time in Max Payne 1 was to kill enemies; in Max Payne 2, the bullet time meter fills up automatically, as well as getting bumped up a certain amount when you kill enemies. The more enemies you kill, the more yellow the bullet time meter gets, while constantly going towards white again. The more yellow it is, the slower time moves, giving you the upper hand. When it's maxed out yellow and you reload, time slows down even further and Max does a low 360 degree spin counter-clockwise while the camera does a 360 degree spin clockwise with the focus on Max. It looks extremely cool, and it is, in fact, a pretty effective way to dodge bullets. Here's a clickable picture:

Payne doing a 360 spin.

When the last enemy in a certain group dies, the camera does a triumphant slowmotion move around the enemy; on special occasions, the camera moves on a fixed path. This is one of the good things they kept from Max Payne 1. On rare occasions does the camera move in an unorderly fashion (such as sticking very close to walls or clipping through stuff), but that's unavoidable.

The enemies' banter is still funny as hell; the obvious connection between 'Max' the name and 'maximum' the word and 'Payne' the name and 'pain' the word is still being exploited, though not as extensively as in Max Payne 1.

Though the enemies are easy to gun down (and pretty clumsy with grenades), they surprised me at one point in the game. They'd dressed up a mop with the generic dress that they wear and surrounded it with explosives. Trigger-happy as I am, I bursted into the room, guns blazing, only to realize my mistake too late; I was blown to bits. Here's a picture of Mr Mopman:


There are now episodic TV shows showing one episode on virtually every TV screen you see. Among others, Lords and Ladies is back. Another TV show, called Dick Justice, directly parodies Max Payne. Remember the utterly unsuitable grimace on Payne's face in MP1? Justice does a parody on it.

Payne's nightmares are finally not annoying. In MP1 you had to walk along floating labyrinth-ish blood paths with the risk of falling to your death; in MP2's nightmares, you can't die. Neither do you have to do repetitive and useless running around. If you pay attention, Max' dreams subtly reflects some of the various things he's seen throughout the game (such as TV shows, people talking etc.). Also, the dreams contain several weirdities, like this one (it's hard to tell from the picture, but there are post-processing effects being done here):


The story is still communicated by watercolor pictures and speech bubbles, which is another nice (or rather, essential) port from MP1. (Admit it: It wouldn't be Max Payne without the watercolors.)

If you finish the game on the Dead on Arrival difficulty setting, you get an alternative ending. See, now you just have to try it.

December 4, 2003

I've used (and independently devised) the Fahrner Image Replacement technique (FIR for short, named after Todd Fahrner), but I didn't discover the correct term for it until now. It's pretty simple. Say you want a heading as an image while still preserving the stylized text the image shows in plain text form. This is the old HTML way:

<h1><img src="img/header.png" alt="The history of England" height="50" width="150"></h1>

That would certainly display the alt value for people using a text-only browser like the Links browser or Lynx, but search robots index alt values differently than pure HTML text. That image is a presentational feature, and should be kept in CSS. It's fairly easily done:

<h1><span>The history of England</span></h1>

Apply CSS:

h1 {
  background-image: url(pics/header.png);
  background-repeat: no-repeat;
  height: 50px;

h1 span {
  display: none;

Of course, this method isn't bullet-proof. stopdesign.com's article on FIR (where I discovered the term) covers much, and provides links for further reading and alternative methods (such as LIR).

The redesign is moving along at a reasonable pace.

December 1, 2003

I'm not very pleased after playing the Deus Ex: Invisible War demo.

The interface looks too much like a console interface would look. It's got big fonts that really obscure your view, whereas DX1 has nice, small fonts that doesn't clutter up a thing. The fact that conversation texts appear as they speak doesn't help either.

DX1 has a nice, sleek interface where you can click tabs at the top of your screen to switch between different views (such as Inventory, Skills, Goals/Notes, et cetera). This is replaced in the DX:IW demo with a distinct key for each window, and no way to switch between them without first clicking Back and then hitting the key for the specific window you wanted.

They decided to merge the lockpick and multitool into, well, the multitool. That was highly annoying. In addition to this, the multitool now looks like a magic wand, emitting orange light onto metal door locks to pick it.

Breaking crates and other objects looks very, very unnatural; just a speck of dust and some small chunks of debris. But I believe they'll fix this in the final game.

What I loved about Deus Ex 1 was the freedom you had. Not only because of the pseudo non-linear story line, but the fact that you could carry your weapons everywhere you went, even into bars. This time around though, the bar in the demo (the Greasel Pit bar) has a "weapon lock" system; they won't let you in unless they use a sort of projection beam to disable your weapons. It had been much more plausible had they ordered you to deposit all your weaponry in their storage room or something.

They didn't do it all wrong. The news bulletins are now read by announcers, which is kind of fun.

November 27, 2003

November 22, 2003

The HTML tags <blink> and <marquee>, as you probably know, should never be used.

"Note. If blinking content (e.g., a headline that appears and disappears at regular intervals) is used, provide a mechanism for stopping the blinking. In CSS, 'text-decoration: blink' will cause content to blink and will allow users to stop the effect by turning off style sheets or overriding the rule in a user style sheet. Do not use the BLINK and MARQUEE elements. These elements are not part of any W3C specification for HTML (i.e., they are non-standard elements)."

Source: www.w3.org/WAI/GL/WD-WCAG10-TECHS-20000615/css-techniques.html

CSS1, CSS2 and CSS2.1 currently have blink included as a value for the text-decoration property. CSS3 will probably include this as well. This is what CSS1 says about text-decoration: blink;:

"UAs must recognize the keyword 'blink', but are not required to support the blink effect."

Source: www.w3.org/TR/CSS1#text-decoration


"Conforming user agents are not required to support this value."

Source: www.w3.org/TR/CSS2/text.html#lining-striking-props


Conforming user agents may simply not blink the text. Note that not blinking the text is one technique to satisfy checkpoint 3.3 of WAI-UAAG."

Source: www.w3.org/TR/CSS21/text.html#lining-striking-props


"Conforming user agents MAY simply not blink the text."

Source: www.w3.org/TR/2003/CR-css3-text-20030514/#text-decoration

So far, I like CSS2.1's statement best. I've not really made up my mind about whether or not CSS3 should include blink; on one hand, it follows the philosophy of separating style from content; on the other hand, it's a usability issue. Blinking text is simply annoying. On the gripping hand, people can enable their user style sheets and override it by doing text-decoration: none;. So I'm honestly not sure.

In addition to this, CSS3 currently has a marquee property. Whether this is a good thing is also debatable. At least it seems to be well thought out.

November 20, 2003

Fixed my Links page some and added a new section under Web. You might find it Useful.

November 14, 2003

I figured since everybody else has their own CSS playground, I had to make my own too. So here you go: Welcome to the CSS Alacrity page.

November 12, 2003

I'm kind of proud of myself when it comes to web design. I've never fallen victim to the common mistakes of making web pages. I've never used frames. Frames are evil; I've never used the <font> tag (it should go without saying that <font> sucks big time); I've never used tables for layout. My navigation bar is in fact a <table>, but I like to call it a table of links. I mean to make this into a list of links with the upcoming redesign, though. Done. I've never tried to hide my source code. Hiding your source is stupid. I forgot to mention that I actually used to abuse <blockquote> just for its left margin on the news items. Not anymore, of course.

In addition to not doing the stuff above, I write clean and structured code which is (in theory) highly accessible. But you already know that.

November 6, 2003

Changed the font from Verdana to Trebuchet MS. This, and my recent dive into CSS Zen Garden, has inspired me to redesign the site. The great thing about having a personal web site, as opposed to working on a project for someone else (maybe a corporate web site), is that you don't have to worry about deadlines for your projects or the shortcomings of browsers.

Incidentally, I'm now using outline and <q> for the tagline; IE handles neither. So to hell with you, IE. And for you poor saps still using the wretched thing: Upgrade. I suggest Opera or Mozilla. It'll really make your lives a whole lot easier (for reasons already explained).

November 5, 2003

The density of people yelling "Harry Potter!" at me has increased. I made a graph:


The x-axis is the number of months since my last haircut. The y-axis is the number of people per day yelling "Harry Potter!" at me. I guess this means I have to get a haircut soon.

The Matrix Revolutions was excellent. I thought the movie was going to tie up all the loose ends, but in fact it just posed more questions than it answered. This is ingenious, though. Smith is even cooler than before. Seraph is an ass-kicker. The special effects are better (if it really matters). This movie is (once again) mind-blowing.

November 4, 2003

I seriously want to strangle IE. My reasons for wanting that are listed here, in no particular order:

  1. It doesn't do tabbed browsing.
  2. The support for 24- and 32-bit alpha transparent PNG images is non-existent without the PNG hack for IE.
  3. It doesn't support <link> very well. It understands linking of style sheets using <link>, but not common relationships like next, previous, contents, help, first, last, glossary, author etc.
  4. It doesn't add quotation marks before and after <q>, rendering, among other things, the tagline incomplete. Some people are pragmatic, and would work around this by manually placing quotation marks around quotations. I won't. A quote is a quote, and belongs in a <q> element. IE is the only browser I've found that doesn't support this.
  5. It silently ignores <abbr>, the tag for marking up abbreviations. Thankfully we've got <acronym>; bless verbosity.
  6. Not a very big deal really, but it interprets dotted as dashed.
  7. It supports the illegal CSS properties scroll-bar-*. They are illegal because they're not prefixed with -vendor-. (Refer to the W3C scroll-bar page.) I also don't believe they ever should be legal; it should be up to the end user to style his own scrollbars using something like Style XP or Windows Blinds.
  8. It misinterprets alt on images as title and thus displays a tool tip when you hover your mouse over an image with alternate text.
  9. It doesn't do :before or :after. (Id est, generated content.)
  10. outline doesn't work.
  11. The only values for list-style-type it understands are square, circle, disc, decimal, lower-roman, upper-roman, lower-alpha and upper-alpha.

Please think of our children. Don't use IE. Use Opera or Mozilla or something else that's relatively standards compliant.

Yes. I'm a geek. Get over it.

Mark Pilgrim has convinced me to switch to HTML 4.01 Strict. Should I later decide to go back to XHTML, it should only take about 30 minutes or so to redo the thing to make it valid.

November 2, 2003

Guess who's got tickets to Matrix Revolutions this Wednesday? Correct; yours truly. Expect some sort of pseudo review.

October 30, 2003

I seriously want to marry CSS.

With CSS you, yes you, you, the reader, the user, you can override any styles with your custom user style sheet. You can specify general rules for how headers, paragraphs, lists etc. should be rendered across a plethora of web sites. But you can also specify rules that apply to specific sites only. Like, say, my site. On my <body>, I've got the attribute and value id="havard-no-ip-info". With CSS, you can use descendant selectors (or any other contextual selector) to define styles which apply to my site only:

body#havard-no-ip-info {
  background: red;
  color: purple;
  font-family: "comic sans ms", gautami, raavi, sans-serif;
  line-height: 5.2;

body#havard-no-ip-info hr {
  background: #000;
  color: #000;
  border: 0;
  height: 5px;

body#havard-no-ip-info h1 {
  display: none;

The values used here are purely for demonstration; please don't rape my site by using the Comic Sans MS font.

October 28, 2003

I've added a tagline to every page.

October 23, 2003

CSS3 is going to be really great.

The new nth-child() selector, for instance, is going to greatly simplify the selection of even and odd numbered table rows. Currently, I assign a class to every even numbered table row, <tr class="even">, and to every odd numbered table row, <tr class="odd"> and style it with CSS, producing this:

A test table used to describe the selection of even and odd numbered rows.
Header 1 Header 2 Header 3
Row 1 Cell 1 Cell 2 Cell 3
Row 2 Cell 1 Cell 2 Cell 3
Row 3 Cell 1 Cell 2 Cell 3
Row 4 Cell 1 Cell 2 Cell 3
Row 5 Cell 1 Cell 2 Cell 3

The problem arises if I've got a very large table and need to put in an extra row in the middle of the table somewhere. Doing that means I have to change the class for x <tr>s downward in the table. That's very tedious and boring work, not to mention a big waste of time (unless you're inserting an even number of new rows, of course). This is where CSS3 comes and saves the day. Using the nth-child() pseudo-class, I could do tr:nth-child(even) (which is equivalent to tr:nth-child(2n)) and tr:nth-child(odd) (which is equivalent to tr:nth-child(2n+1)).

The border module looks extremely interesting; the border-radius property will allow me to add borders with round corners and border-image will allow me to add separate images for all the sides and corners of a box.

CSS3 will truly take the concept of separating presentation from content and structure one huge step forward.

October 20, 2003

I added a very subtle image to the background. Do you see it?

MSIE doesn't understand a:link:active or a:visited:active. It gets a:active though. Just so you know.

October 19, 2003

Weeee! I got 24 and 32-bit PNG images displaying correctly in MSIE using this simple PNG alpha hack for IE.

Mmm, alpha transparent plant.

Alpha transparent plant.

October 16, 2003

You may have noticed that for every instance of an HTML element or a CSS property in code examples, I've added links to the respective W3C spec section for easy reference. At one point in the Archived News page I have several links separated by nothing else than white space. This is annoying, because this is the only instance where my site contradicts W3C's WAI guidelines (specifically, checkpoint 10.5). As such, I cannot state that my web site is Bobby AAA Approved. I will, however, claim that it is "H

October 9, 2003

Listamatic2 is out! Hurray!

October 7, 2003

My pages are now almost Bobby AAA Approved and in compliance with the U.S. Section 508 Guidelines. The only thing remaining is getting MathML to work.

October 3, 2003

Been skimming through the Archive, figuring out when the different pages were made, and adding a notation of it to the footer of each page.

September 23, 2003

Added an Elastomania section to the index page. This has since been offloaded to the Random page.

September 18, 2003

A picture of a really nice car.

Nice car, right? Not in MSIE 6.0. If you're using MSIE 6.0 you should see big, ugly chunks of silver pixels. Those silver pixels should be transparent. Why is MSIE always slacking behind? I don't know, but I hope they can provide full PNG support soon. I want my 24-bit alpha transparent PNG images now, damn it! (Hidden message: Use Opera.)

September 17, 2003

Added a bunch of Futurama quotes and one from Håvard Torsnes.

September 15, 2003

Added the XHTML Commandments to the navigation bar. Now deceased.

September 14, 2003

I've made the Glossary page where I try to gather all the abbreviations I use. For your convenience.

Added the Test Page to the navigation bar.

September 9, 2003

I found a very cool math problem in my math book today. It looks scary, but it's not. I use the quadratic formula in there, so check my Graphs & Functions page for a refresher, if you need it.

$$(x^2 + 3x)(\sqrt{x + 1} - 4) = 0$$

Find values of \(x\).

First of all, let's figure out what \(x\) can't be. We know that it's illegal to take the square root of a negative number, so \(x > -1\). As you can see, there are two factors in this equation, and they equal \(0\), which means that one of them (or both) have to be zero. So we check them both:

$$x^2 + 3x$$

$$x_1 = 0$$ $$x_2 = -3$$

\(-3\) is a false answer, since \(x\) has to be greater than \(-1\). We check the second factor:

$$\sqrt{x + 1} - 4 = 0$$ $$\sqrt{x + 1} = 4$$ $$x + 1 = 16$$ $$x = 15$$

Now we just have to insert the two values \(0\) and \(15\) into the original equation, and see which of them yields \(0\) as an answer. You can do that for yourself. :-)

September 3, 2003

Added some quotes to the Quotes page.

August 29, 2003

Got into the CSS groove, fiddled around with it, and voilà; a new design. If you're using e.g. Opera, you can change back to the old design by clicking View → Style → "The classic stylesheet". In Mozilla, it's View → Use Style → "The classic stylesheet". However, this does not work in MSIE. How frustrating.

August 28, 2003

I noticed that MSIE didn't interpret the CSS declaration font-size: small; which I used for making my navigation bar small. Instead of going the HTML way and implementing <small> for each and every cell in the table, I used 80% instead of small in CSS. This is one of the millions of other reasons why we should use anything but MSIE. Preferably Opera.

In other news, Even André has (yet again) remade his web site. This time around he's dropped the table layout in favor of CSS and <div>s, and his page validates as XHTML 1.1. Even, I'm very proud of you. :-)

August 24, 2003

.htaccess is working! Try requesting this non-existing page.

August 23, 2003

You may have noticed that the site has been down. This is because Dataportalen.com has changed from Interland to Servetheworld.

August 17, 2003

I now run 1280x1024 and have updated the Computer page with a new desktop picture.

August 16, 2003

I have linked to the Quotes page in the navbar.

August 13, 2003

StarCraft screenshot.

Playing through StarCraft and StarCraft: Brood War. It's as excellent as always.

August 4, 2003

I now use SSI to turn off "self-links" in the navigation bar. Contrary to using CSS, SSI makes it look good in text-only browsers as well as visual ones.

August 3, 2003

People who claim that the Internet is either completely shitty or the savior of humanity are completely wrong. Yes, the Internet is full of poorly designed web sites, ugly proprietary scripts, non-standard-compliant web pages and WYSIWYGed HTML documents. But the Internet is also a wonderful tool; it's an all-accessible library full of useful information. The trick is to avoid or ignore all the shitty sites.

Working on a quotes page. I'll link to it as soon as I have about 30-40 of them.

July 25, 2003

Big changes. There used to be a navigation bar in each and every page, with the respective <a> tags removed so that you could tell which page you're on by looking at the navigation bar. Having one navbar per page means that if one change is done to the links on one page, that same change will have to be done on all the pages (if I want the navbar to look consistent, that is). Not anymore. The navbar is now inserted using SSI and the current link is turned off using CSS. Now done automatically with SSI. This means that all my pages have been renamed .shtml and all external links to my pages have been broken. Until I can figure out how to make an operative 404 page, I've made pseudo-404 pages, in the form of the .html equivalents of the .shtml files. A little messy in the directory, but it will do for the time being. That's all gone. All requests for .html files will automatically be rewritten to the .shtml equivalents using mod_rewrite.

July 23, 2003

I have linked to Visible Earth. And believe me, the Earth is visible.

July 22, 2003

The web site of A Soldier's Tale has mysteriously disappeared, so I'm now linking to a mirror file, hosted by 3ddownloads.com, in the Half-Life modification section of the Links page.

July 18, 2003

Hehe, TopStyle says that "silver is not a browser-safe color" while it doesn't react to #edebfb (the background-color). :-)

July 16, 2003

I'm back from England. You know, the strange little country where they drive on the left (wrong) side of the road...? Alex and I went to Alton Towers, a huge amusement park. I believe it's the 3rd largest park in the world, but I'm not sure about that. It is colossal, anyhow. I rode Oblivion, a vertical drop roller coaster. It didn't look like it was an exact 90 degree drop, but very close. When on the ride, though, it actually felt like more than 90 degrees. I also tried Nemesis, a roller coaster with an outside loop. It's fast, and it sometimes feels like you're going to hit the ground (but you're not, of course). Definitely worth trying. Also, try Air. You're lying on your stomach the whole ride, so it feels like you're flying. The roller coaster does a corkscrew move, very enjoyable. Those are the three most intense rides in the park, but if you're still hungry for more, you might try Submission and Enterprise.

I went to London, too. There, I went rock climbing on artificial climbing walls inside a castle (actually, make that The Castle) and to the London Science Museum. I greatly enjoyed the mathematics section; it's got 3D figures of platonic solids, "wire"-frame models (the lines being colored strings connected to "vertices"), a mechanical counting machine, old measuring equipment, etc. I also went to the iMax theater and saw Reloaded. Man, that was fun.

When the subject is brought up, many people ask me why I've made the decision not to drink. I haven't made that decision. I simply haven't made the decision to drink, which effectively means that I haven't made any decision at all. You see, before I make the decision to drink, you have to provide me with a good argument that (either alone or together with other arguments for drinking) will outweigh all the counter-arguments. For example: Just because I don't buy rockets from NASA every week doesn't mean that I've made the decision to boycott them. It simply means that I don't see any reason for me to buy one.

I've had the misfortune of reading an article about HTML and CSS in the Norwegian computer magazine PC Pro, issue #4 2003. First of all, it's riddled with typos (which I will not bother to correct since it's in Norwegian), but there are also inconsistencies and flat-out errors in the CSS and HTML code examples. There are a lot of inconsistent uses of spacing, semi-colons and capitalizations which I will also not bother to point out. One rather stupid mistake they make, though, is that they write "Veranda" instead of "Verdana" throughout the article (both in the normal text and the examples). The text in [brackets] are comments by me.

Example #1:

<style type="text/css">
   h1 {font-family: sans-serif; font-size: x-large; color=red}

["color=red" is obviously completely wrong.]

Example #2:

H1 {font-family:"Brush Script"}

Example #3:

<link type="text/css" rel=stylesheet" href="stilark.css">

[Missing the quotation mark in front of stylesheet.]

Example #4:

<style type="text/css">
   body {margin-left: 10%; margin-right: 10%}

Example #5:

<style type="text/css">
   body {margin-left: 10%; margin-right: 10%;}
   h1 {h6 {margin-left: -8%; }
   h2, {h3, h4, h5, h6 {margin-left: -4%;}

[h2, {h3... Wrong, wrong, wrong.]

Example #6:

   em { font-style: italic; font-weight: bold;}
   strong <text-transform: uppercase; font-weight: bold;}

[strong <text-transform... No hope.]

Example #7:

   h1 {font-size: 200%; }
   h2 {font-size: 150%;}
   h3 {font-size: 120%;}

Example #8:

   body {font-family: Veranda, sans-serif;}
   h1, h2 {font-family: Garamond, "Times New Roman", serif;}

Example #9:

div.box {border: solid; border-width: thin; width: 50%}

Example #10:

<div class = "box">
Denne teksten får en boks med tynne linjer rundt seg

[The text means "this text is encapsulated in a box with a thin border".]

Example #11:

body {

   color: silver;
   background: olive;

strong: {color: red}

:link {color: rgb (0, 0, 153);}
:visited {color: rgb (153, 0, 153;}
:active {color: rbg (255, 0, 102;}
:hover {color: rgb (0, 96, 255;}

[strong: {color: red... is wrong. Notice that on the three last pseudo-classes, the rgb value is missing the last parenthesis. The :active selector has misspelt rgb into rbg.]

The ironic thing is that throughout the article, they describe how important it is with correct syntax in CSS (and it certainly is). But they completely fail to show it.

July 7, 2003

Tomorrow, I'm flying to England to meet my good friend Alex Spurling, and will be away for yet another week. We're going to Alton Towers, a large amusement park. I'm really looking forward to riding Oblivion! :-D

July 6, 2003

I learned about contextual selectors in CSS today. You can apply a specific style to any nested element in the HTML. Notice the different images for different levels of nesting in my unsorted list items? Instead of cluttering my HTML with classes (like I used to do), I ask CSS to apply a style to <li>s which is nested inside an <ul> for a "level 1" list item. Similarly for "level 2" items; I ask it to look for <li>s nested inside two <ul>s. Code:

ul li { /* The level 3 list item image. */
  list-style-image: url(pics/li/lev1.png);

ul ul li { /* The level 2 list item image. */
  list-style-image: url(pics/li/lev2.png);

ul ul ul li { /* The level 3 list item image. */
  list-style-image: url(pics/li/lev3.png);

CSS should be cherished and loved by everyone.

July 5, 2003

Finally managed to photograph those origami figures. They're at the bottom of the Random page. I also finished the Computer page, and spiffed up the source. Bless Cascading Style Sheets and XHTML.

June 28, 2003

This Friday I'm going to a wedding of one of my relatives, so I'll be away for one week.

June 13, 2003

Added a cool little border around the navigation bar. I think it's nice.

June 11, 2003

I have converted all my HTML 4.01 Transitional documents to XHTML 1.1. This has resulted in a much cleaner source, and a more unified look across the site. Also, it'll make maintaining the site much easier for me. The only disadvantage with this is that when you want to jump to a specific date in the news, you have to add an n before the date. This is because in XHTML, you aren't allowed to start <a id="..."s with a numeral. So if you wanted this news item, you'd add #n11062003 #n2003-06-11 (later changed to ISO 8601) to the end of the URL.

June 9, 2003

Added a couple of new links to the Links page and cleaned it up a bit.

June 6, 2003

StatBar 0wnz j00 (the first and last time you'll ever see me writing leet-speak (probably)).

The fact that \((a + b)^2 = a^2 + 2ab + b^2\) is much easier understood with this picture, and as such, the Graphs & Functions page has been updated accordingly (with comments):

A picture visualizing the mathematical expression (a+b)^2 = a^2+2ab+b^2.

June 5, 2003

I learned how to find the x values of a second degree function that lacks a constant in a much easier way than using that bitchy quadratic formula. Search for the text string "85 sounds more like it". My explanation is just below that on my Graphs & Functions page.

June 2, 2003

Visit artofgregmartin.com. I love his space renderings. Hence, the site is now on the Links page.

I hope to get some things done relatively soon; photograph my little origami figures, finish the computer page and revise the About Me page.

May 21, 2003

The Matrix: Reloaded was even better than I had hoped. If you haven't seen it already, I suggest you do. Pronto. What I loved about this movie (apart from all the cool action scenes and all the cool talking) was the humor. It was elegant and it reminded me of certain events in the original Matrix movie.

May 20, 2003

The day I've been waiting for has finally arrived. The Norwegian premier of The Matrix: Reloaded (yes, we are a little slow up north). I am looking soooo forward to this. It will be good. I know it.

The Matrix has me.

The Matrix has me.

May 19, 2003

After days of blood, sweat and countless hours of browsing the net, tracing lost mods and frustration over those not found (oh, and not to mention the poorly designed web pages for some of these mods), I release the Half-Life singleplayer modification links. Perhaps there still are some excellent mods looming around on the net; when I'm no longer sick and tired of Half-Life, I might decide to track them down. In the meantime, these mods should provide you with several hours of entertainment. They did for me. Boy, did they ever...

May 17, 2003

I'm still playing those Half-Life mods, but it turned out to be a little more than I thought. I was thinking of just releasing the links now and add links as I finish more mods, but I soon rejected that thought; I want to do one major update. Be patient. It's gonna be massive...

While you're waiting for those awesome links, you might want to play around with a kinetics simulation program, a particle simulation program and a water simulation program.

May 16, 2003

I fixed the PNG trouble on the Graphs & Functions essay. It seems that all the images lost their transparency when I ran them through pngrewrite. What puzzles me, though, is that they displayed properly in Opera, with transparency, when there wasn't any transparency on the images... So I decided not to pngrewrite them. Annoying. Still, PNGs are small.

May 14, 2003

Fixed an idiotic bug on the Test page and an insane error in the Graphs & Functions essay. See if you can find them.

I have learned how to derive the quadratic formula, and have updated the essay on Graphs & Functions accordingly. There seems to be a problem with displaying the PNG images in MSIE, though. I'm still trying to resolve that. Hopefully, the majority of you people are smart enough to avoid MSIE altogether, and use e.g. Opera instead.

May 13, 2003

Even was so kind as to make some list item images for me! I'm utterly pleased. :-D

Still playing those mods. I've finished three of them, but there's a few more I'd like to play before I update the links. They're actually turning into small reviews. Small... semi-reviews.

May 11, 2003

Finished Blue Shift. On to the mods.

May 9, 2003

I'm utterly pleased; my ISP has increased the speed of my Internet to 4 Mbit/sec for this weekend (only). (It applies to all customers, of course.) I'm not really sure why they do it, but it's probably for publicity. Heck, I don't care! As long as I get my oh-so-sweet 4 Mbit/sec Internet, I'm happy. Urge to download... rising!

Still playing Half-Life. Expect the mod links in the time span of 12th May to 16th May. Maybe earlier.

Alf Otto has launched his personal page today. Finally. It was loooong overdue. :-)

May 6, 2003

Finished HL:OpFor. Next up, HL:BS.

May 5, 2003

Finished Half-Life today (yesterday, I was on Questionable Ethics, part 10 out of 17). Onwards to HL:OpFor.

May 4, 2003

I've been bitten by the Half-Life bug, meaning that I'm going to play the original Half-Life (with the High Definition pack applied), Half-Life: Opposing Force, Half-Life: Blue Shift, and various excellent single-player mods for Half-Life. (In that order.) Once I've finished those mods, I'll make a Half-Life mod section on the Links page.

I've made all header elements use the Palatino Linotype font. It looks nice in symbiosis with Verdana. :-)

May 2, 2003

I searched acronymfinder.com for NSF, and it turned up five rather interesting matches (the text enclosed in parenthesis was not written by me):

  • Norges Sjakkforbund (Norwegian Chess Association)
  • Norges Standardiseringsforbund
  • Norsk Speider Forbund (Norwegian Scout Association)
  • Norway, Sweden, Finland (in order, left to right)

And, surprisingly, it turned up with the match I actually wanted to see:

  • Northwest Secessionist Forces (Deus-Ex game)

April 30, 2003

I was extremely fascinated by a small, but very cozy math problem today. Many thanks to Even for helping me figure it out. A little tweaked, the problem goes as follows:

Three guys, Alex, John and Jacob, have their own hard drives. The sum of all their space is \(230 GB\). Alex has \(10 GB\) more than John, and Jacob has twice as much as Alex. What did each of them have?

We want someone to have \(x\) gigabytes. The obvious choice is John, since both Alex and Jacob refer to him. So:

Alex: \(x + 10\)
John: \(x\)
Jacob: \(2(x + 10)\)

Next, we sum them up, and equal them to \(230\):

\(x + 10 + x + 2(x + 10) = 230\)
\(x + 10 + x + 2x + 20 = 230\)

We rearrange them...

\(4 x = 230 - 20 - 10\)
\(4x = 200\)
\(x = 50\)

There you go. John has \(50\) gigabytes of sweet hard drive space. Unless you are completely incompetent, you should be able to figure out how much space Alex and Jacob had.

April 29, 2003

I'm playing through Deus Ex for the 7th time now, and I'm still noticing tid-bits of funny/interesting information; this game is so amazingly rich in details. I'm playing it on Realistic this time (before, I've only played it on the Easy level).

April 26, 2003

Although MetaPad is an extremely good text editor, I have now switched to TopStyle. It's an editor designed specifically for HTML and CSS, though it is not a WYSIWYG editor.

Added yet another friend to the Links page; Håvard Torsnes.

April 24, 2003

Added Even André Mathisen to the friends section of the Links page. I also noticed that when viewing the page in Internet Explorer (I use Opera), there was always one less bullet than it was supposed to be. While I couldn't flaw my HTML markup, I decided to instead use only list items (I used to nest definition pairs inside the list item; obviously not such a good idea).

April 23, 2003

I have made a new and improved Links page, after collecting a bunch of links, and sorting out those not worth placing there.

I have also managed to make a right margin, in addition to the left. I discovered this was not possible in HTML. The attribute for a 20 pixel left margin in HTML is leftmargin="20", so I figured the attribute for a 20 pixel right margin had to be rightmargin="20"; but no. Though it was possible with CSS:

body {
  margin-left: 20px;
  margin-right: 20px;


Also, my computer page is dangerously nearing completion. I just have to dig up the specs for my two oldest computers.

I have removed the links to the (few) files on my files page, because of a small overload on the server. This is only temporary, though.

April 20, 2003

It's been a while since I updated the site, but there's a logical explanation; I have been on a LAN party for the past four days.

I've replaced the URL I used as a title with a real title on all the pages, and I'm currently working on a page devoted to my computer. I'm hoping to finish it real soon. I also made an alpha transparent picture of myself.

April 12, 2003

Right on time! My new parts arrived today, and I'm pleased to announce that everything is in working order. A minor dissatisfaction, perhaps, that I had to reinstall my copy of Windows. But then again, it was getting old, and was full of spyware and what not. I'll get working on that computer page maybe tomorrow, or on Monday. We'll see.

April 10, 2003

I have ordered some parts for my computer, and boy, is it about time this rig gets upgraded. My processor is of this writing an AMD Duron 850 MHz, and I have 256 MB SDRAM. My graphics card is a GeForce 4 Ti 4200, I've got a Creative Labs Audigy 1.0 sound card and 240 (more like 222) GB of yummy disk space to use for various distractions, so of course I'll be keeping those. Now, I will be buying a new motherboard, a new processor, and more RAM. The motherboard will be socket 478, Asus, with Intel Hyper-Threading and 3x DIMM slots for 1023 NOK (about 140 USD). The processor is an Intel P4 2.4 GHz with 533 FSB and 512 L2 Cache, and the price is 1668 NOK (about 228.50 USD). I've also ordered Apacer 512 MB DDR RAM PC-333 for 676 NOK (about 92.60 USD). And to top it off, I've ordered a Chieftec miditower case, black, with 4 x 5.25" external, 2 x 3.5" external and 4 x 3.5" internal bays, thumbscrews and a door with hinges. I'm buying it all from PSData, which is situated in Arendal, Norway, a good 4-5 hour drive from where I live. It takes approximately two days to transport the items, from the day I order the merchandise, and this is pretty good. Oh, I look forward to this...

In other irrelevant news; lately, I've found myself gazing at distant objects which are contrasted against the sky, for no particular reason. When looking at trees, for example, I can often make out the single branches. Oh, I love my new glasses. Everything is so crystal clear!

Website-wise, I've inserted a left margin of 20 pixels. I'm thinking of making a page for my computer. When I get my new parts.

I discovered to my delight that the word 'coherent' can be Norwegian-ified to 'koherent'. I have been wondering about this for some time.

April 8, 2003

I had an interesting discussion today with my class about whether or not homosexuality is a mental disorder. It began with me and Even, peacefully and quietly walking down the road, chatting about the subject in a calm and relaxed fashion (I might add that I enjoyed the conversation with Even. He didn't get all fired up about it, compared to other immature people who engage in mindless flame wars). Now, when we couldn't agree on it, we brought the question up with the rest of the class, and about 3/4s of them claimed that homosexuality is a mental disorder, while I (and of course most of the girls) claimed that it is not. I will now try to explain why it is not. (And for the record, I am not a homosexual.)

First of all, it isn't a disorder, hence it is not a mental disorder. For something to be a disorder, it has to harm the person "infected" by it, or disable that person from functioning normally in society. Now, homosexuals aren't harming themselves, neither are they a disfunction to society. They are perfectly able to do their jobs, to go shopping, to interact with other people, etc. And they're not harming themselves, in fact, I'd say that they are enjoying themselves!

"But they can't reproduce, and hence, they're harming humanity as a whole!" There is a fine balance. If everyone is heterosexual, the Earth will soon be overpopulated, but if everyone is a homosexual, there will be no more reproduction, but that still doesn't make it any more of a mental disorder. Homosexuals aren't confused in any way, they are perfectly aware of this biological fact.

April 5, 2003

I finished the essay on Graphs & Functions today.

April 3, 2003

Phew. That was two hours well wasted. I changed all the text inside my HTML tags from uppercase to lowercase. This has nothing to do with the appearance of the site, just the source code. No reason why I'm saying this in a news post. I just wanted to vent, as it was very tedious and repetitive work. Never again.

In more happy news, I came across a very handy tool, a replacement for Notepad; MetaPad, which is far superior. You can (almost) tweak it to your heart's content, which is always a big plus. Head over there, you might find it worth your time.

Things I hope to get done soon:

  • take pictures of my cube, octahedron and icosahedron origami figures (from STL's Origami Polyhedra page)
  • finish my essay on graphs & functions (which is in fact beginning to shape up)
  • make more cool stuff for my web page.

April 1, 2003

April Fool's day; the only day of the year when reading news posts on various web sites can actually be fun. So here's my contribution.

I'm going to convert all the images (erhm... make that "the few images") I have to GIF, use the Comic Sans MS font, and get a .tk domain. -_-

March 31, 2003

Oh yeah! My host decided to host the E-mail account I've always wanted. You can use any of the two you'd like, though I'd prefer you use the new one, which is pho@dataportalen.com now havard.skjaeveland@gmail.com. I have updated the About me page to reflect this new fact. See, I take care of the pages around here.

I have made a totally irrelevant web page today; the Test Page (now dead). This should only be relevant to you if you're me or insane. Or both.

March 29, 2003

I got around to see Men in Black II today. Finally: A Sequel That Didn't Suck. Pretty much everything about this movie was superb; very nice CG, the acting was not bad, and it didn't overly rely on the prequel to carry on its good name. A few good elements were ported from MiB, but as I said, they didn't overly do so. They struck a very nice balance.

On my mental to-do list for the weekend, is finishing up the essay on graphs & functions. I've been slacking.

Random rant: Some web site authors (no names mentioned) invariably write "resume" when referring to their resumé.

March 28, 2003

I have changed the background color of all the pages. Hopefully, this background will make the text more readable than the white one.

I've made a cube, an octahedron and an icosahedron following the instructions on STL's Origami Polyhedra page. I've yet to photograph them. I tried, but the picture was very unclear, since they are so small. Let me just read the manual for the camera, and see if I can figure something out.

March 23, 2003

Ahhhh... I found a font that I like better than Palatino Linotype; Verdana! So sweet.

March 22, 2003

I've been busy. I've totally revamped the navigation bar, and two new pages have been made; the Archived News page and the Colophon page, where various more or less interesting facts about my web site resides. Also, there is a small sub-section of this page where I try to detail each of the pages here. Scroll to the very bottom. Of course, this no longer applies since this post has since been moved to the archive.

All my HTML documents returned VALID from the W3C MarkUp Validation Service. They are now officially HTML 4.01 Transitional documents. Oh, happy day!

My essay on graphs & functions is coming along very nicely. There was much more to cover on it than I had originally expected, so it might be delayed. Fear not, for those who wait for something good, don't wait in vain. ;-)

March 20, 2003

I discovered today a Norwegian word that is spelled exactly the same way as the English one; irreversible. Wow.

I also stumbled upon this utterly cool program called MathGV, which I will use to make the images for my graphs & functions essay. It is a program for making graphs, both Cartesian, polar and 3D Cartesian. Completely amazing. Its features are of tremendous proportions, and hence, I won't write them here. Go and read them for yourself, ya lazy bum! And download that program. Now. The only negative thing I can say about their web site is that they use GIFs and Comic Sans MS.

Two new mp3.com artists made it to pho's List of Honor; Raymond Wave and Paul Spaeth.

March 19, 2003

I put my navigation bar into a table, which makes them align better, and I made them small. I removed the elma page. Too stale and unprofessional. Yuck. My recs are still on the Files page though. (Files page is gone.)

Happy news, no more GIFs on my page, only PNG (and JPG where appropriate; basically, use PNG for computer generated pictures and JPG for naturalistic pictures, like a photograph). Here is why PNG is so great. Be sure to download pngrewrite and pngcrush, two nifty programs that'll reduce the size of the PNG files even more. They're in a ZIP bundle on STL's download page.

The graphs & functions essay is moving along. Perhaps 4-5 more days?

March 18, 2003

I removed the link to Uy's document, because it'll give people the wrong impression of me, and (mainly) because his views on the matter completely differs from my own. I'll elaborate about it in the About Me page when I find the time. Now, the file itself is still there, but the link is gone. If anyone really wants it though, they'll have to figure out the address for themselves.

I specified a font for all my pages today. Yay! It's called Palatino Linotype, and I'm quite happy with it. See, I told you I'd fix up some esthetics. ;-)

March 17, 2003

My web site is hosted by dataportalen.com ("dataportalen" means "the computer portal"), and I've added a small notation to the bottom of each page to recognize this fact. And I'm seriously thinking about making a background image for my site. And overhaul it a bit with respects to graphics esthetics.

I'm thinking of making a lengthy essay on graphs & functions. Expect it... shortly.

March 13, 2003

I elaborated a bit about my name. My Vision Augmentation (glasses) got upgraded today. I can see clearly now.

March 11, 2003

I added a little news item search "system" today. Using my elite HTML skills, I made it so that you are able to jump to whichever news item you wish. Nifty! Just add #ddmmyyyy after the .shtml in the address bar. If you wanted the news item from 10.03.2003, the full URL would be http://www.dataportalen.com/pho/full-archive.php#10032003. Go ahead, try! If no news item exists for the particular date you're looking for, nothing will happen. I doubt it will be very useful, but it's still there. (Uhh, that's the way it used to be. Now you have to add n (for "news update") before the date; n10032003. This because of XHTML.) Since I've switched to ISO 8601, it's now #2003-03-10. In other words, #YYYY-MM-DD.

In shameful pity, I hereby remove my ASCII table, and point you to R. Harvey's web site. Here, you may download ASCIIcat; an invaluable tool, as it comprises many useful features.

On a funny note, Even and I discussed today what numbers higher than Googolplex should be called. For those who don't know what a Googol is, fear not, for I shall explain it. A Googol is 10100, which is the number one with 100 zeros succeeding it. Googolplex is 10Googol, which is the number one with Googol zeros succeeding it. So:

10100 = Googol

10Googol = Googolplex

But what next? Beware, the following were just invented for fun by me and Even, and probably aren't real at all.

10Googolplex = Googel

10Googel = Googelplex

10Googelplex = Googul

10Googul = Googulplex

10Googulplex = Googyl

Just keep substituting that one letter. Tada! :-)

March 10, 2003

I revised the About Me page a bit.

I got a haircut today, so now I no longer look like Harry Potter. Check the About Me page for the update.

March 7, 2003

I found a very interesting article in Housekeeping Monthly 13 May 1955:

The good wife's guide

  • Have dinner ready. Plan ahead, even the night before, to have a delicious meal ready, on time for his return. This is a way of letting him know that you have been thinking about him and are concerned about his needs. Most men are hungry when they come home and the prospect of a good meal (especially his favourite dish) is part of the warm welcome needed.
  • Prepare yourself. Take 15 minutes to rest so you'll be refreshed when he arrives. Touch up your make-up, put a ribbon in your hair and be fresh-looking. He has just been with a lot of work-weary people.
  • Be a little gay and a little more interesting for him. His boring day may need a lift and one of your duties is to provide it.
  • Clear away the clutter. Make one last trip through the main part of the house just before your husband arrives.
  • Gather up schoolbooks, toys, paper etc and then run a dustcloth over the tables.
  • Over the cooler months of the year you should prepare and light a fire for him to unwild by. Your husband will feel he has reached a haven of rest and order, and it will give you a lift too. After all, catering for his comfort will provide you with immense personal satisfaction.
  • Prepare the children. Take a few minutes to wash the children's hands and faces (if they are small), comb their hair and, if necessary, change their clothes. They are little treasures and he would like to see them playing the part. Minimise all noise. At the time of his arrival, eliminate all noise of the washer, dryer and vacuum. Try to encourage the children to be quiet.
  • Be happy to see him.
  • Greet him with a warm smile and show sincerity in your desire to please him.
  • Listen to him. You may have a dozen important things to tell him, but the moment of his arrival is not the time. Let him talk first — remember, his topics of conversation are more important than yours.
  • Make the evening his. Never complain if he comes home late or goes out to dinner, or other places of entertainment without you. Instead, try to understand his world of strain and pressure and his very real need to be at home and relax.
  • Your goal: Try to make sure your home is a place of peace, order and tranquility where your husband can renew himself in body and spirit.
  • Don't greet him with complaints and problems.
  • Don't complain if he's late home for dinner or even if he stays out all night. Count this as minor compared to what he might have gone through that day.
  • Make him comfortable. Have him lean back in a comfortable chair or have him lie down in the bedroom. Have a cool or warm drink ready for him.
  • Arrange his pillow and offer to take off his shoes. Speak in a low, soothing and pleasant voice.
  • Don't ask him questions about his actions or question his judgement or integrity. Remember, he is the master of the house and as such will always exercise his will with fairness and truthfulness. You have no right to question him.
  • A good wife always knows her place.

Note that none of this reflects my own views on the matter. Quite to the contrary. And to think that this was written only 48 years ago. "We"'ve come a long way (the women, that is...). Very infuriating indeed.

I urge people to send me E-mail (havard.skjaeveland@gmail.com), telling me what's good and what's bad on my site, as it is very incomplete.

February 28, 2003

Yey-ah! Vacation for ONE WHOLE WEEK! The time for pure, undisturbed DX-mapping is nigh!

In other news, I'm planning on upgrading my system (which at the time of this writing is an AMD Duron 850 MHz with 256 MB SDRAM). I'm going to buy an Intel P4 2.4, 512 MB DDR RAM and a new motherboard (haven't decided specs or brand yet).

I've also got some elma updates:

  • 13. Hill Legend: 00:21:95 - 00:21:59
  • 24. Ramp Frenzy: 01:37:65 - 01:25:63
  • 27. Shelf Life: 00:57:73 - 00:55:70
  • 35. Labyrinth Pro: 04:36:88 - 04:32:24
  • 37. Jaws: 01:40:59 - 01:36:27

Random rant: Why, oh why do I see Comic Sans MS almost everywhere I turn? What do people see in it? Are they simply too lazy to browse through fonts? Probably. Gah, Comic Sans MS sucks...

February 27, 2003

Damn, System Shock 2 is scary! I beat the game about a year ago, and now I'm playing through it my second time. It still gives me the creeps... To all of you who still haven't tried it. Try it! I dare you!

February 19, 2003

Completely revamped the navigation bar to support essays. And I've made one! Woho! It's about numerical bases.

February 16, 2003

Added my portfolio to the Files page. (Files page is gone.)

February 12, 2003

Improved some records in elma:

  • 05. Uphill Battle: 00:28:59 - 00:28:25
  • 22. Slalom: 00:50:45 - 00:47:90
  • 32. Steep Corner: 00:48:44 - 00:47:82
  • 42. Enduro: 01:22:00 - 01:04:86
  • 44. Freefall: 00:38:40 - 00:36:65
  • 51. Tricks Abound: --:--:-- - 02:00:96
  • 53. Hooked: 00:25:40 - 00:19:17

Additionally, I've added the .rec files for my Elma records to the Files page. (Files page is gone.) Extract them to your elma rec folder, go into the game, and hit the replay button. Bah, why explain it? :)

February 9, 2003

A friend of mine asked me to host a document of his, describing how he became a Christian. Note that his view does not in any way represent my own view on the matter, but he has been my friend for about 15 (!) years now so hosting this little document is the least I can do. The file is located in the Files section. The document is in Norwegian. (Scrap that. I later realized that I didn't want the document there anymore because his views completely differ from my own.)

February 6, 2003

I've made an ASCII table today. (Now obsolete.) Maybe not the most interesting thing for most people, but maybe some can use it as a reference. I made it in MS Excel, and used the Terminal font, therefore only a few of the high ASCII characters display properly. If anyone knows of a "true ASCII" font of some kind, I would really appreciate it if you'd mail me, either attaching the font, or telling me where I might download it. Thanks in advance.

February 3, 2003

I noticed two major flaws; I didn't tell you my real name and my nick name, and I forgot to mention what a good host I have hosting my site. Thanks a lot, http://www.dataportalen.com/!

I also added links to each question and answer in the summary section of the About me page, and updated the links page a bit.

January 30, 2003

My site is up. Please, enjoy! For anyone (everyone) not using the European date format, I use [dd.mm.yyyy] when dating my news items (or anything else). I've switched to ISO 8601 (YYYY-MM-DD). Please forgive me for the lack of worthy content. The site just went up. :-) If anyone wants to make a suggestion on how to improve my web page, they are welcome to do so at havard.skjaeveland@gmail.com.