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Diary, January 1997


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Thursday, January 2, 1997

Genesis 1,2

I have decided to read through the bible this year in an historical order according the schedule distributed by Warren Doud. And while doing this, I will attempt to colour code our wedding bible. Yesterday, I read the first two chapters of Genesis. The first thing God said was: "Let there be light", and the first thing He did to us, was to bless us (verse 28).

Of these two chapters, I found the last verse the most remarkable, where it says: they felt no shame. Is shame not one of the most universal emotions, which we experience almost every day. I do, at least. I think that this statements goes further than the context in which it was placed, namely that they were naked. For me it seems to imply that they were completely open towards each other, with nothing to hide. They were naive (in the positive sense of this word), not knowing evil.


Wednesday, January 8, 1997

Here is
the picture that I took on October 2, 1996.


Thursday, January 9, 1997

Chicago Bulls cap

Everywhere I come, people are saying: `O, you are also wearing a Chicago Bulls cap'. (It seems there is hype in wearing woolen caps over here. Must be the result of the 15th Eleven city tour.) I tell everybody that Li-Xia bought it for me more than a year ago.

(follow-up)


Friday, January 10, 1997

This morning, I woke up around half past six, because
Annabel was pushing me out of the bed. I was a little surprised by this, because I hadn't heared her come. Lately, she often comes to us in the middle of the night, and then we let her sleep between us. At first it was me, who was more in favour of having children sleep with there parents. Now it seems that whenever Annabel starts crying, it is Li-Xia who goes to get her, while I think it would be better to let her sleep in her own bed. I am also better at bringing Annabel to bed, if she doesn't want to sleep. As was the case yesterday evening.

It took me some time to realize that I could push her a little to the middle, to make some space. After I had done this, I still could not fall asleep. Not because I was uncomfortable, but because of all the thoughts that were running through my head. Trying to solve complex problems, related to for example the World Wide Web.

What is wrong about the World Wide Web?

That it is text based. HTML is a Hyper Text Mark-up Language. But what we need, IMHO, is not a shared (and linked) text repository, but a shared (and linked) data repository. The WWW should not contain nicely formated text pages, but structured data.

But, I am afraid that we will be stuck with HTML forever, and that we probably never will get anything better. Yet, everywhere interfaces to databases are appearing, from looking up telephone numbers to dictionaries to bible verses. What is lacking is a unified way of retrieving these databases. But such a unified interface could be build, as is proven by the many meta-search engines, which query other search engines, and present the combined results. (Of course, then a meta-search engine is never better than the best search engine it uses, and not worser than the worsts.)

What is wrong about search engines?

They are one-way. Search engines can only be improved if they would allow users to perform some ranking, or at least have a method of informing the search engine that a certain page is unreachable, indicating that it is wrong, or that a page has moved. Most search engines are bad at detecting mirrors. But again, this will only work if the users of the search engine are willing to help. (I often get the idea that most surfers are rather lazy. How often do you get emails about broken links in on of your pages with instructions on how to repair them?)

What is wrong about Netscape?

When Netscape added their email and news reader interfaces to their browser, they made them into separate components. I think they should have integrated them. Netscape should be extended with a build-in editor, such that local pages can be edited.

Then the next step would be to turn into a integrated tool for information processing, allowing you to combine incoming emails and newspostings about the same topic into folders, with the use of a few mouse clicks.

And even better, such an integrated tool should not work on texts but in the data represented by the text, and allow you to choose your own presentation. (I once experimented with a program for converting news threads into hypertext.)

The crows greeted me

Around 7, I got up and took a shower, while the others were still sleeping. When, just after 8, I steps outside with my bike in my hand, I was greeted by large flocks of crows flying into the city over my head.


Thursday, January 16, 1997

Somehow, it always feel special when
Li-Xia and I go to the city without Annabel, our daughter. Today, we had to bring a visit to the townhall to complete Li-Xia's request for naturalisation. She had to demomstrate to be able to speak and understand Dutch. Although we had worried about this a bit, it all went okay, and they will send the request with a positive advise to the Ministry of Justice. It is going to take another 4 to 6 months before we hear the outcome.

(follow-up)


Thursday, January 23, 1997

Power failure

Around two we noticed a short power dip, just long enough to be seen, but (lucky) too short for the machines to start rebooting. But within matter of seconds, our systems froze, with messages that the Network File Servers were unreachable. Everybody was coming out of their rooms. It became clear, that the adjacent building, where all our file servers are located (for historical reasons), was having a power failure.

No, we do not have UPS's for the clear reason that power failures are so rare in the Netherlands, that the cost for using them do not compare with the added reliability. I have heared people saying that adding UPS's only decrease reliability.

When the power came up again (after about an hour), I just could continue working, after I had refreshed my windows. Many of the people around me, needed to reboot their system, or their systems had already gone into a spontanous reboot, and were hanging in the reboot process. I am one of the view people still using SunOS 4.0, instead of Solaris. Does this proof that Solaris is less reliable than SunOS?

(Follow-up)

William Henry Gates III

Is this the man, who knows the road ahead? His fans say yes.


Friday, January 24, 1997

David Spelt

There was some small rain this morning, so I decided to put on my poncho (a waterproof garment resembling a blanket with a slit in the middle so that it can be slipped over the head and worn as a sleeveless garment, and having an integral hood). I always feel a little silly when wearing this poncho which I bought in Beijing during my honeymoon, and I am having this internal discussion in which I defend why I wear it.

When I had just gone some two blocks, a person from one of the side streets came biking just in front of me. Very soon, I felt that it might be David biking in front of me. I did catch up, but felt that he was biking just a little to fast to take-over, so that I could check if it was him or not. It it turned out it was someone else, I felt I would have had to continue at a higher speed, otherwise it would have been to obvious that I took over for another reason then that he was just going too slow. For that reason, I get on biking just behind me. I became more and more confident it was him, but it was only after the last turn near the building that recognized him for sure. When, I told him, I had been biking behind him, and could not make sure that it was him, he said he would have done the same. He said he would not have recognized me anyway with my poncho on.

This story is really about being ashamed.

Earl Grey

From the start of the week Susan has been making Earl Grey tea from StMichael brand. Everytime, when I picked up the smell of it (she uses my water boiler), I felt a yearning after it. This morning she gave me a bag, and I made a pot of tea from it. (The English do drink their tea too strong, I would concluded after I saw how strong it got.)

Dune 7th book

Frank Herbert only wrote six books for his world famous Dune series. It started of with his book Dune, which became a bestseller. And after a long time, he wrote a number of sequels. And although some people felt that these sequels were not nearly as good at the first book, other people came to the conclusion that his works became deeper and deeper. The last book, Chapterhouse: Dune, ended in such away that many people felt that there should have been a next book. But Frank Herbert died shortly after the sixth book was published.

About two years ago, I became very interested in figuring out the story of the third book, based on all the details in the last two books, and I made extensive notes. But I abandond that project, as it was taking up too much time. Not so long ago, Axel Dunkel, contacted me with respect to this. And the funny thing is, that although at that time, I was not able to give any good answers on what I thought would be the story line of the seventh book, it seems rather clear to me now. And so, I decided to write them down.


Wednesday, January 29, 1997

Title of my thesis

This morning I found Olin Shivers' Dissertation Advice. I have been looking at it since, and trying to come up with a single sentense for my thesis. The decision whether I can write a thesis as the outcome of my research in the TransCoop project hasn't been taken yet. Before the end of Februari a decision has to be made. I am not good at making decision...

In the past weeks I have been working on a short paper which with a simple example tries to address the problems I would like to work on (and which fit in the frame work of our current research). My head is filled with ideas, but I have a hard time focussing them. Or in other words, I cannot come-up with this title. At this moment, I strongly considering to abondon the idea of getting a PhD.

(follow-up)

Pregnancy tests

A pregnancy test is a test with which you can test whether a woman is pregnant. It is typical for our current society that people rather trust a chemical test, then their own senses. I think that most woman can feel it when they have become pregnant, even before the day they should have got their periods.


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