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Dairy, March 2009



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Sunday, March 1, 2009

Bookshops

After church, Li-Xia and I went into the city. We parked our bikes outside of bookshop "De Slegte", but first went into bookshop Broekhuizen because "De Slegte" was still closed. On the third floor we watched the exhibition De dinsdagschilders van Mia van Jeveren (The Tuesday painters of Mia van Jeveren). When it was after one o'clock, we went back to bookshop "De Slegte". First we went to the second floor where I looked at the encyclopedia again, and made my final decision not to buy it. When I was standing before the newly acquired second hand books, Li-Xia noticed a Chinese dictionary. (I had shown it to her yesterday, but appearently she had totally forgotten about it, as happens more often.) It is a childrens dictionary with a little drawing besides each word explaining the meaning. The title of the dictionary is Tu wen shuang jie xiao xue sheng zi ci dian and the ISBN is 7-5385-1786-3. It costed € 15. (In the evening, I discovered that on the back of the book it states that it costed 32 Yuan, about one fifth of the price.) She was sure she wanted to buy it. I also decided to buy a book, the book Strip: 1,5 kilometer woningbouw in Den Haag (Strip: One Mile of Urban Housing in The Hague), for € 4,25. (KMZ file of the location of the strip.)


Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Plane crash

With respect to the Turkish Airlines Boeing 737-800 crash at Amsterdam last week, according to this flightglobal.com article, a press release from Boeing states: This almost sounds like: But of course, things are not as trivial as they sounds.

From the information I have heard, I guess that the following sequence of events took place:

As usual a chain of unexpected events was the result of this crash. Both pilots (actually there where three of them in the cockpit) made the wrong assumption about what was going on. But looking at the behaviour of the plane as a software engineer, I also notice some strange things. First of all, I see a poor integration between the various systems in the aircraft. I understand that there is always a danger of a strong integration between the systems in an aircraft, because a problem in one of the systems could lead to an unexpected cascade of events in all systems and lead to a complete breakdown of the system. It looks like there where two seperate systems for controlling the plane, both of them having two altimeters, one radar altimeter and one pressure altimeter. The autothrottle maybe went into IDLE because the two altimeters gave conflicting readings. Autothrottle is almost always switched on during the flight. Appearantly there was no clear signal that the autothrottle went into "idle" mode. It is also strange that the auto-pilot, responsible for controlling the height and the flight path of the plane, was not switched off, because it is clear that with an incorrect speed, the auto-pilot cannot operate correctly. I am getting the impression that the whole auto-pilot and autothrottle system was not tested against all possible scenarios. I can understand that the autothrottle was switched of because one of the altimeters was giving an incorrect reading, but this makes it even stranger why the auto-pilot, which also depends on the altimeters was not switched off. It would not surprise me if the auto-pilot and the autothrottle systems were designed by separate design teams, and that due to this the operations conditions where not exactly matched.

See also:


Thursday, March 5, 2009

Autopilot and autothrottle

To me it seems that the design of the autopilot and autothrottle system was even more flawed than I thought. I now understand that there are to autopilots in the plane and only a single autothrottle system. The autothrottle depends on the left radar altimeter. The two autopilots make use of their own radar altimeter. The autopilots can either work together in dual channel mode or one of the autopilots can be selected to fly the aircraft. It seems that the aircraft was flying on the right autopilot, which takes it height readings from the right radar altimeter that was still operating normal. This somehow explains why the autopilot was not switched on while the autothrottle went in to 'retard' mode. Boeing strongly advices against flying in this mode. (In this discussion it states that it is not even certified.) The reason for it seems quite obvious now. But I wonder if the designers did not feel that there was something intrinsically flawed in the design of the system? (If it not certified, it should not have been possible without clear warning signs to the crew.)

But besides this discussion, this forum messages states: "The brutal truth of the matter appears to be that no one was flying the aircraft."


Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Freedom of speech

Today, the High Council (Supreme Court) of the Netherlands has ruled (BF0655) that Article 173c cannot be interpretted in a broad sense such that offending statements about a certain faith cannot be interpretted as being offending to a group of the believers of this faith solemnly on the fact that they feel offended by those statements. It looks like that this is counteracting a court ruling on January 21 which stated that Geert Wilders should be prosecuted with respect to his statements about Islam.


Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Playing Go

Yesterday, I found out that a new colleague can play Go and that we are about the same strength. Today, I brought my playing set with me, and during the lunch break we played a game. All the other colleagues, who where watching our game, where making all kinds of remarks about what the game was about. Only a few know the rules. I left my game set in the office, because I think we will play more often. I hope that some others get interested as well.

In the evening, I went to the university and found Rudi and Taco deeply encaged in a game. I watched the game and tried to understand what was going on, but as usuall I found this quite difficult. It became clear to me that at the level at which they are playing the game, completely different considerations take place than at the level I am playing the game. They also spend some time analyzing the game and playing through various alternatives.


Saterday, March 14, 2009

Week of the book

Once per year, there is a week of the book in the Netherlands. This year it is from March 11 till 22. Every year there is also a present, a small book, which you buy books for a certain amount. Each year an aclaimed author is asked to write the gift book. But not all bookshops join the organisation. One example is De Slegte, because they sell books that have been remaindered and second-hand books. Today, the shop in Enschede had many second-hand "week of the book gift" books for sale for just one Euro. I bought the following four:


Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Playing Go

This evening, I went to the university to play Go. When I arrived, I found Taco drinking some tea. We moved to a place where we could play. I had brought my Chinese playing set, which I received on July 27, 2006 as a gift from Mrs. Guo, because my regular set is still in the office and has an unfinished game sitting on it. Because Taco had brought a wooden board, we decided to play with his set. I was given seven stones ahead. I resigned when I lost a group in the corner. In the mean time Huub had arrived as well, and we replayed the game, and Taco showed me all my big mistakes. Sometimes, I wonder how long it will take me to learn from my mistakes. At home I tried to reconstruct the game record.


Thursday, March 19, 2009

Possible link between Reminyl and epilepsy

The BBC-news article Protein 'behind Alzheimer's fits' hints at a possible link between epilepsy (as seen with people with Alzheimer's Disease) and drugs like Reminyl, which Li-Xia is taking right now. According to media release, Professor Tibor Harkany has discovered that beta-amyloid is causing nerve cells in the brain to fire more frequently, which could lead to epilepsy. Some drugs, like Reminyl, could lower the seizure threshold because they stimulate the signaling between nerve cells.

International Space Station

This evening around half past seven, while I was biking home, I noticed a bright star in the sky, but when I saw that it was moving, I concluded that it could not be a star. I realized I might have accidently seen the International Space Station with the Space Shuttle Discovery (on mission STS-119) attached to it, flying overhead. At home I checked if it could be true, and found this page affirming my observation. This first time, I saw the International Space Station fly overhead was on Sunday, June 18, 2006.


Saturday, March 21, 2009

Going into the city

This afternoon, I went with Annabel into the city. First when went to a clothes outlet shop to look at some All Stars shoes. Next we biked into the city and noticed someone biking before us with a big dog, and I suddenly thought it was Christian Freeling. I tried to take over and cried "hello", but it seems he did not immediately recognize me. A little further, he turned around and I told him who I was. Some months ago, I contacted him because he created a link from one of his pages to my page about Havannah, a game which he invented. We shaked hands and we talked a little.

Annabel and I went into bookshop De Slegte and looked around. I found the book Zoeken naar de stier (a translation of The Search, talks on 'The Ten Bulls', of Zen) by Bhagwan Sri Rajneesh. Annabel found some books by Carry Slee Hot or Not, your choice and Pijnstillers. We decided to buy all three books. I payed € 25.40 at 16:08:55.

Next we went to Dynabyte to look for a small laptop (netbook) for Annabel to use in school. We look at several models and concluded that the Samsung NC10 was our best choice. We went to three different shops, but did not find another computer matching our requirements better. We ran into Valeri Souchkov, with whom I shared a room during working on the TransCoop project. Back at Dynabyte, we bought a Samsung NC10 netbook.


Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Device capabilities

At my company we encountered some problems with certain printers not showing gradient colours. At first we concluded that there was a problem with some printer drivers not supporting gradient colours. One such example of a printer driver is PDFCreator, a very handy printer driver for printing to PDF files. Last Monday we discovered that PDFCreator was able to produce gradient colours when printing from some other application. Yesterday, at the end of the day, after I spend a long time looking at EMF, I discovered that some routine in our software concluded that the printer driver was a low (colour) resolution device. It did so by retrieving the number of bits per pixel with a call of GetDeviceCaps for BITSPIXEL. PDFCreator returns 1 for this parameter, which gives the impression that is a black and white printer.

When I studied GetDeviceCaps documentation, I found that there where is a whole range of parameters related to colors. These are:

I really had to laugh when I saw this list, because it clearly shows how the capabilities of output devices (printers and graphic cards) evolved through the years, and how one method of specifying the colour abilities has been replaced by another.

Today, I discovered that PDFCreator returns the flags CM_DEVICE_ICM and CM_CMYK_COLOR for COLORMGMTCAPS, meaning that it does support Integrated Color Management, which is clearly an indication that it does support colours.

Playing Go

At noon, when I wanted to play some Go with the colleague of mine, I discovered that another colleague, who does not really know the rules, nor understood the goal of the game, already had started playing. Nevertheless, he did not play very bad. Of course he lost, but it was not a complete defeat.

This evening, I went to the university. When I arrived, Rudi and Taco had already started a game. I watched them until Huub arrived and we started playing where he got two stones ahead. Right at the beginning, he lost some stones. Somewhere in the middle, I too made some stupid mistakes. When we counted we both had 53 points. We replayed the first half of the game. At home I reconstructed this game record.


Friday, March 27, 2009

Some hacking

This evening, I wanted to secure some data that still might be on my computer ester. For this reason, I brought it downstairs and connected the keyboard, mouse and monitor now attached to my computer lixia. It started up as normal, but I quickly discovered that I did not have a network connection and that I could also not attach some USB-drives to it because no drivers being available. Then I decided to simply take the 30 Gbyte Maxtor drive out of it. By accident, I first removed the seagate ST51270A hard disk. I opened lixia and put the Maxtor drive on the cables of the DVD drive, and when I started, it booted from the Maxtor drive, starting with Windows 95 and gave a message about a new device. I quickly switched it off and changed the order of the boot-devices, thereby noticing that the first boot-device was the card reader. How wierd. When that worked, I attached the Freecom USB drive to lixia and copied all the data I might want to keep, a total of 2,28 GByte in 25.398 files. When I was done, I put everything back as before.


Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Sitting outside

It looks like spring has finally started. Today, it is the first time that my colleagues went outside during lunch time, with their coats on, that is. Last year it was February 11, at least six weeks earlier.

Citizen of the Galaxy

This evening, I finished reading the Dutch translation Zwertocht tussen de sterren of Citizen of the Galaxy van Robert Heinlein in which I started last Sunday after I bought it on Saturday from bookshop Kruimeltje for five euro. I read this book twice before (accoring to my diary) on May 13,14, 1977 and March 13, 1982. Now I understand again, why on those readings, I finished the book so quickly. It is truely a very exciting story, but I am also surprised by the depth of the story. The alternative societies that Heinlein imagined in the book, look very realistic to me. I wonder if it would every been turned into a movie.


This months interesting links Movements

KMZ file of movements (incomplete).


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