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Diary, January 2006

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Tuesday, January 3, 2006

Large nonogram

This morning, I received the challenge from Kerrin Mansfield to solve a 80 by 95 nonogram representing a portrait of myself, based on the me as hacker picture. This evening, I started working on a program to solve large nonograms. It is an intersting problem because of the complexity. I haven't solved it yet.


Wednesday, January 4, 2006


This afternoon, I discovered that my pedometer had been reset. I remember that it was on about 2300 steps the last time I watched it. I immediately decided to cut off the rubber top of the reset button to make sure it will never happen again. Now you need the tip of a pen (or any other sharp object) to reset it.

Playing Go

This evening, Annabel, Eline (a friend of Annabel) and I went to the university to play Go. It was very quiet and although the building was open, the bar was not. So we could not order tea or something else. Annabel and Eline managed to borrow a glass and got some water to drink. Annabel just played with Eline, who did not know the game yet, and, of course, they also spend some time running around the building. I was invited by Jan-Willem to play a game against him. I was given nine stones ahead. He is a 2 Kyu player. I won with about 40 points.

Saturday, January 6, 2006

New year concert

This afternoon, Li-Xia heard that Andy could go to the weekend care because there was some empty place. And because Andy wanted to go himself, Li-Xia brought him. I guess he felt a little boring at home, because last weekend he already started to complainn that he wanted to go to school again. And because Andy was away, Li-Xia and I could go to the new year concert organized by ABN-AMRO. For her it is the first time to go to a classical concert in the Netherlands. Two years ago Annabel went with to the new year concert, but this time she did not want to go. We could go there because there was nobody else in our company that wanted to use the free tickets.

We arrived around half past seven, and went into the great hall as soon as we heard that it had openend. We were sitting on chairs 14 and 16 on row 8. The concert itself started around eight o'clock. We were told that the conductor, Carlos Miguel Prieto (originally from the Xalapa Symphonic Orchestra), was delayed because he encounterd some misfortune in Amsterdam, he was robbed by force. It was decided that Ingrid Fliter, the solist, would play a sonate by Beethoven first. Some people started to clap right after the first part. Ingrid smiled for a moment, and then continued. Apparently, there are some people who do not go to a concert often and do not know when to clap.

After a short break, the orchestra came and after the tuning, the conductor came together with the solist. They played the piano concert number 2 from Camille Saint-Saens (C. Saint-Saens - Concerto n. 2. 3rd. Mov. Live from Arnhem, Holland. 2003. Het Gelders Orkest. Conductor: N. Kok. Solis: Ingrid Filter). I have to say that I was a little distracted by the many people that had to cough. There was even a man that sneezed.

During the break, we drank some orange juice. After the break the program was filled with waltzes from Vienna. It turned out that Carlos Prieto is a rather funny man. He gave some short speeches in between the waltzes. We left quite soon after the concert was over. We were home around eleven. Annabel was still behind the computer playing Rune Scape.

Monday, January 9, 2006

Should the Netherlands send soldiers to Afghanistan?

At the moment the Dutch government is deciding about whether we are going to send 1200 soldiers to the South of Afghanistan. Members of the government seem to have different opinions and also the parlement is strongly divided. One of the problems is that on one hand the government states that these soldiers are send to help to rebuild the country. But on the other hand it is well known that this is the South of Afganistan is far from safe and that in the past months the number of incidents is on the rise again. Many people in the Netherlands are afraid that the Dutch soldiers will be required to fight a war in Southern Afghanistan and that the safety cannot be guaranteed.

Paul Bremer III gave an interview for a Dutch newspaper, in which he explains that if the Netherlands decides not so send soldiers to Southern Afghanistan, it might result in sanctions by the United States. He is also stating that the meaning of NATO is being questioned and points at the fact that it was Europe that was asking for more international cooperation. The Netherlands has been one of the most loyal partners of the United States within NATO, and we have send soldiers both to Afghanistan and Iraq. But the Netherlands is not the only NATO country in Europe, and by far the largest.

Bremer also states that large parts of Europe do not understand how dangerous the muslim extremists are. He says that many Europeans don't understand what a shock 9-11 was to almost every American. According to him most Americans do understand in what for a dangerous world we live.

We indeed live in a dangerous world. But looking to the absolute numbers, terrorism is not a major source of danger in the world. If I am not mistaken, the number of innocent people that have died in Iraq is many times larger than the number of 9-11 victims. It is now all to clear that Iran is a much greater danger to the world than Iraq ever has been. Most Europeans are not shocked about the fact that the Americans are shocked by 9-11. They probably think that most Americans were rather naive with respect to their view of the world and how the world viewed them. I think that most Dutch are aware of the dangers of muslim extremists, and many believe that in reality the United States are one of the driving forces behind the rise of muslim extremists in the Arabic world.

(follow-up below)

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Should the Netherlands send soldiers to Afghanistan? (Part 2)

Today, I read, that our prime minister, although he is in favour of sending soldiers to Uruzgan, does not have much appreciation of the language that the United States have used with respect to the Dutch wrestling on this subject. According to him, to does not show much respect for what the Netherlands has done for the international community. He is not only refering to the statemenst of Paul Bremmer III but also to the statements made by the United States through an interview in the Dutch newspaper "De Volkskrant".

Later during the day, one of the political parties that is now part of the coalition in the government, has announced that it is strongly against sending soldiers to Afghanistan and threatening to step out of the coalition it the governemnt decides to send soldiers.

Playing Go

When, Annabel and I arrived at the university, Ton had just arrived. I talked a little with him how things were going. He had some good news with respect to his work and personal life. When the others arrived, we decided to start playing Go, but because there were only three playing boards, I end up playing against Rudi, while Annabel played with Ton. With their last game she lost with 17 points with nine stones ahead. I decided to take seven stones ahead against Rudi, because that is what I was going to get against Ton. In the end, I lost with 45 stones. Not a bad result, I would say.

Annabel started diary

Since the beginning of this week, Annabel started to write a diary. She writes a few pages every day. A lot more than when I started to write when I was 14. Of course, it is not the first time that she started to write something like a diary, but she has been rather consistent. It is a rather colourful diary. She had taken it with her to the university and wrote about one and half page in it.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Full moon

This morning, when I biked to my work, I saw the full moon standing low at the horizon straight into the direction I was biking. It is long ago that I have seen something like this, and I wonder what could be reason for it. If must not be that rare that the full moon stands close to the horizon.

Solving the nonogram

The program that I had developed to solve the mega nonogram, has not found a single solution yet. From the progress it has made, I have to conclude that it is hopelessly lost and that it can take ages for it to find a solution.

It would not surprise me if solving a nonogram is an NP complete problem. At least finding another solution for a nonogram once one solution is known, has been proven to be an NP-complete problem, according to the article NP-completeness results for NONOGRAM via parsimonious reductions by Nobuhisa Ueda and Tadaaki Nagao.

I have been thinking hard about a better approach. The program that I have been using sofar, is using a simple back-tracking strategy, where it just guesses the first empty square starting from the top and then line by line from left to right. I already tried the alternative of going round along the borders spiralying to the center, but that did not show any dramatic improvement.

I have been thinking about an approach that is using statistics to determine if a square is more likely to be filled or empty, but I have not got a good idea for doing it. The idea was to use this data to make a better guess.

I also have wondered if a nonogram can be changed into an Exact Cover problem. But I have not come up with any idea for such a mapping. I am also afraid that if it does exist, that the number of vectors would be very large.


Another idea has been to guess the position of a large "bar", instead of guessing the the value of a single square. The idea is that the position of a large "bar" along the borders, will have a great influence on the placement of other bars.

I think, I am going to work on a method which will try to derive some information about which squares will be filled or empty by using an back-tracking approach that searches with an increasing depth. Any conclusions that will be derived in this way, will be independent of guessing. For example, if you know that filling a certain square will always lead to an impossible state after a fixed number of guesses, you may conclude that it must always be empty. Once, you have established such a fact, you can assume it to be true. Then repeating the process, could lead to further progress. Of course, the question is if this method would be any faster.


Sunday, January 15, 2006

Cold feet

Annabel wanted to play with the children of Bert and Cornelise. We decided that we would go to them by bike. It took us about three quarters of an hour to bike to their home. Around a quarter past three, all of us biked to a forest where they often go for a walk. We went into some forest where there were some graves. A little further Bert told me that he had crossed a three of a pool the week before, and challenged me to do the same. I accepted the challenge, and Annabel followed me. Then the children wanted to play around some bushes while Bert and I walked to the road and talked a little about some serious matters. After some time the Cornelise and the children came back and we all decided to go home. Annabel had not brought any gloves, but soon she started to complain that she was hungry and that she was getting cold hands. I borrowed her one of my gloves. It was ten past five when we finally came home, after the sun at set. We both were having cold feets.

Fried curly kail

Tonight, Li-Xia fried 300 gram of curly kail with five red unions. I ate it together with my usual tomato, olives and fennel. I also added some walnut oil and ate some pickled onions with it.

Jelle Klaasen

Li-Xia, Annabel and I watched how Jelle Klaasen defeated Raymond van Barneveld with (7-5) and won Lakeside. He is only 21 years old, which makes him the youngest person ever to win this darts championship.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Mysterious spam

This morning, I received the following mysterious spam message. I received two similar spam messages yesterday with different names. I suppose the intention of these is to promote the websites from which the emails have been sent. I can imagine that many people will simply send a reply.

Subject: Doreen
   Date: Wed, 18 Jan 2006 00:53:59 -0520
   From: Doreen Cox <>

See you


Lost and won

Tonight, Annabel and I went to the university to play Go. She played three games, the first two against Edze (who we had not seen for a long time), and the second against Marcel. The rest of the time she spend writing and drawing in her diary. I played against Ton and we decided that I would get a seven stone advantage. I lost the game with the verylast move, because I did not notice a snap-back, because I was a little careless in the end-game. Had I not made this mistake he would have been defeated completely. I guess, that probably the only reason why he did not resign yet, was the fact that this option for him to win was still present, and that he was hoping that I was going to make this mistake. I won several of the big fights, and made many good moves. We have decided that the next time I will be given a six stone advance again.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006


When my colleague opened the blinds around a quarter to nine, he shouted: "Snow!" And indeed it was snowing, and of course the snow was staying on the ground because temperatures have been below zero in the past days. It is expected that the temperature will go up in the coming days, depending on how the Siberian cold front is behaving that has been causing extremely cold temperatures in Central Europe. Even in Athenes there was snow in the past days. Some experts are saying that this cold is caused by the warming of the Artic. This causes the winter depressions to be less strong and thus causes the appearance of strong high presure systems above Central Europe. High presure systems always bring air from the East, which means cold in the winter and heat in the summer. The snowing stopped altogether around nine. It did snow a little through the morning, but by noon the snow was melting and in the afternoon it started to rain.

Playing Go

In the evening, Annabel and I went to play Go at the university. We were the first to arrive. But soon some others came. I played a little game against Edze on a 9x9 board, which I won. Then Rudi analyzed it. Edze discovered that he had to attend a meeting in about an hour and left. When Jan-Willem arrived he challenged Rudi and while I was following the game, Ton arrived. So, I decided to play with Ton. He also played one game against Annabel. Ton and I, immediately plundged into some heavy fights. Around half past ten, Ton resigned, because he felt he was not going to win. When we drove home, it was snowing again a little.

Thursday, January 26, 2006


This morning, there was snow on the ground. It snowed a little during the morning. But different from yesterday, the snow did stay at some places for the remainder of the day. Some parts even became splippery because of the frozen snow.


This evening, when we drove back from the swimming pool, where Annabel had been practicing how to float all kinds of figures with eight other children (one boy and seven girls), she saw an owl in the little forrest near our home. I cannot remember having seen an owl in the wild. When we arrived at home, she wanted to walk back and have a second look. I was hungry and felt it was too cold.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Happy Chinese New Year

Today it is first day of the year 4703, a dog year, according to the Chinese calendar. Annabel is also a dog, which means she will become twelve this year. Li-Xia made many phone calls during the afternoon to all our family, relatives and friends in China.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Correct number of the Chinese year

This morning, I discovered that there was some disagreement with respect to which year it is accoring to the Chinese calendar. Different web sites give different answers to whether we are now in the year 4703 or 4704. First of all it seems that the Chinese are not so much aware of the number of the Chinese year, meaning that most Chinese would not be able to tell them what it is. But most Chinese do know what kind of year it is, and some are probably aware of the 60 year cycle. It would even not surprise me if it is not even official. We are now in the 23 year in the cycle, so I think it is quite logical to assume that 4703 is the correct number. Before I was using numbers based on the assumption that 4704 was correct, so I have changed the numbers on all my pages mentioning a Chinese year number.

This months interesting links

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