It is one of those special dates
again. This was also noted by
the The World Prayer Team.
No rain this morning. After
twenty days without rain, which is very exceptional for this time of the year
around here, we got some rain again on early Saturday. During the day there was
no rain, and the weather was very nice. In the afternoon, I spend some hours
washing the car. One side was splashed with some unknown substance that would
not wash away with some water. I also went to a wash box to clean all the salt
from the bottom of the car. This morning it was dry and about 6 degrees Celsius.
Good biking weather, I would say.
Student writes essay in
text message form. Text messaging has lead to the development of a new
"short hand" language, which bears the characteristics of a real languages. I
think the experts are wrong in stating that literacy has gone down. They should
have said that the literacy of the traditional spelling of the English language,
which hasn't changed for almost two hunderd years, is losing grounds among
todays teenagers. Literacy should be defined as the ability to make use of
written language for communication. One could even argue that due to the
development of text messaging, literacy has actually gone up among young people
in the past five years.
I feel rather depressed at
the moment. I am thinking about going to bed really early this evening. Maybe
the invention of artificial lights was a really bad idea after all.
The Global Consciousness movement (New Age) has for years been
planning a worldwide "Largest ever experiment into global
consciousness" to take place on 03-03-03.
According to the Islamic calendar, March 3, 2003 is the eve of
the Islamic New Year (Islamic year 1424 begins March 4, 2003).
It is also the last day of the Hajj, the annual pilgrimage to
Mecca, when pilgrims are encouraged to make a sacrifice (The
Festival of Sacrifice or Eid al-Adha). The key verse in the
Qu' Ran about this festival to take place this year on
March 3, 2003 is, "Truly, my prayer and my service of sacrifice,
my life or my death, are all of Allah..." This date therefore
holds great significance to the Islamic world.
While all of this is beneath the radars of the secular news media, it
is clear to many Christian leaders that the world is on the brink of a
spiritual battle of monumental proportions. The epicenter of this
struggle is the Middle East-a battle is going on for Jerusalem and
Babylon (Iraq), biblical centers of spiritual light and darkness.
The World Prayer Team therefore calls on all Christian churches and
individuals to set aside at least 3 minutes to pray at 3:33 PM in
their time zone on 03/03/03.
Immediately going to bed
I did go to bed immediately
when I arrived at home without taking any meal. I did lay on bed half asleep
half awake till around ten o'clock. I thought about the expansion and the size
of the universe. The part of the universe we can see now has a radius of more
than 13 billion light years, but the total universe might be a billion times
bigger. It might even be of infinite size. I also thought about the consequences
of why an excelaring expansion. Then just before ten I got up and ate some
cumcumber, a piece of bread and some "kwark". Till eleven I watched the news and
then I checked my email. This morning, it was 2.2 degrees Celsius with an almost
clear sky. It is really getting light earlier again.
The whole day we are disturbed by strange noises coming from the AKI, a local art college.
I got up around five o'clock this morning and I took some time answering emails.
It was 7.5 degrees when I left the house around half past seven. Yesterday evening,
while biking over the Campus I passed Martin Medema
and his dog. He walks bare feet for more than twenty years (also in winter time) and
designs games. He designed an alternative Risk game called
Christian Freeling, another game developer, wrote
something about him as well.
About every two months sinze the Bijenkorf
opened, we received a BIJmagazine again. The theme of the last
issue is inspiration
(inspiratie in Dutch) illustrated by the face of a beautifull girl
with dark red hair and green plants. However, the cover displays her in a provoking manner. Inside the magazine
there is even a less revealing picture.
of images always leave me with mixed feelings.
I got up at five again this morning. I went to bed around ten last night.
I did not check the temperature. It was not very cold. We had a grey sky,
but luckily no rain.
This morning, some fragments of the Bush address of yesterday
evening were on the news. Although I seem to agree with the
statement that Saddam Hussein is not really cooperating with
respect to the disarment, I find certain statement made by
Bush rather shocking. First of all he is giving the impression
that America is under attack by Iraq. He said: "Saddam Hussein
and his weapons are a direct threat to this country, to our
people, and to all free people" and "I will not leave the
American people at the mercy of the Iraqi dictator and his
weapons". And in his answer to a question by Terry Moran he
said: "I believe Saddam Hussein is a threat -- is a threat to
the American people" and he suggest that American security is
at stake. I am afraid that in the end Bush is going to use
this argument (the safety of the American people) as a justification
for a war against the regime of Iraq in case the UNSC is not
going to saction a war resolution within the coming week.
What worries me most, is that there is no proof that Iraq at
this moment is causing any real threat to the United States.
Iraq lacks the ability to attack the United States. There are
no indications that Saddam Hussein has been supporting Islamitic
Fundamentalistics terrorist groups, for the simple reason that
he is not a very faithfull moslim himself, as it is known that
he drinks wishky. It is possible, seeing the size of the country
and the various ethnic groups, that terrorist cells are present
in Iraq, but that does not mean that these cells have access to
weapons of mass destruction (if present), and that they would be
actually able to deploy them inside the United States.
Another thing that is worrying me that it seems that Bush is
implying that any one voting against the war resolution is not
really against Sadam Hussein. In reply to a question by Elizabeth,
Bush said: "We want to see people stand up and say what their opinion
is about Saddam Hussein and the utility of the United Nations Security
Council. And so, you bet. It's time for people to show their cards,
to let the world know where they stand when it comes to Saddam."
I am afraid that if the United States together with the military
support of Great Brittain and the political support of some other
countries as well, will start a war against the regime of Saddam
Hussein, it will increase the amouth of hate against the United
States, which in long run might only increase the risk for terrorist
The Big Rip. Seems I am not the only one worrying about
the increasing expansion of the universe, like I wrote a
few days ago.
This afternoon after we arrived home from the city, I decided
to write a program for solving Japanese puzzles as the are called
here in the Netherlands, which are also known as
Nonograms elsewhere. Programs for this has been written
before, and there is even a Java applet that can do it online.
It took me about two hours to finish my progam, which has last weeks puzzle from
Intermediair hard encoded
in its source. I had already solved the particular puzzle by hand,
and felt that the number of steps that the program needed to find
the complete solution was rather low. It roughly followed the same
pattern of finding the solution as I had did by hand. (The next time,
I should write down order in which I found the solution.) The
algorithm used to solve the puzzle is rahter simple. You pick a row
or a column, which still has unknown squares and try all possible
solutions taking in account the known squares. If there are squares
that get the same value for each of the possible solutions, you
color the squares accordingly. You continue this process until no
improvements can be made. Most of the time, the complete solution
will be found, otherwise you have to guess the color of one unknown
square and see if you can find a solution with this. Of course,
a program is very good at checking all possible solutions. As it is
possible that a row or a column has over a hunderd possible solutions,
we as humans have to do some reasoning instead, and pick the order in
a clever way. This made me think about an algorithm which follows a
human strategy, and tries to do as less a possible. With such a
program one could evaluate how difficult it is to solve a particular
Exhibition of Billy Foley
This afternoon, I went to look at
of some work by Billy Foley
in the Kunstcentrum Hengelo.
I took Annabel and Andy with me. It took me some time to find the building,
and then it looked close, but it was not. There was just one big
room with his big paintings. Andy only made short screams apparently
enjoying the acoustics of the room. I did not find the paintings
as impressive as my favourite painting, which I secretly had hoped to see again.
There was only one painting
coming close to my favourite.
Last week, I came across the game Havannah. It is a game with unexpected depth, and the inventor
thinks it is very hard to write a program that could win against him.
I am ready to believe this. Yet the rules are simple enough to formalize
them. A long time ago, I made an attempt to formalize it. This afternoon,
I looked into it again, and came up with an improved formalization that only makes use of first order predicate
logic and finite sets.
War on Iraq
This morning it was 8.8 degrees Celsius. I had put on my cap and gloves,
but took them off when I was about half way, simply because they felt too
warm. At one point one of my gloves drop out my pocket, and I had to go
back to catch it. After I had turned left on the next road, I was taken
over by one of my former bosses saying hello. We talked a little until I
had to turn in the direction of the University. (Had I not dropped my
glove, I won't have met him.)
BTWR on Slashdot uses
Afterwards, when all the Iraqis talk of Sadaam's horrors, no one will
admit the US was right all along as a sig. Very true indeed.
Although many people agree that Sadaam is an evil man, that does not
give them the right to sentense him. If the United States start a war
against Iraq without the consensus of the United Nations, then they are
the one (and no one else) who have damaged international law, and are
causing world wide instability. It's like going back in history for
fifty years. And that is why no one will admit the US was right all
David Cary has a very messy site.
Adam Dunkels developed the
smallest web server and web browser running on 6502 processor. It runs
the worlds smallest Internet-enabled operating system.
I went to vote this morning. Today are the elections for the provinces.
These elections are not very popular also because the political influence
of the province government bodies is rather limited. They mainly deal
about infrastructure and related subjects. Their only political importance
is the fact that they elect the members of the "first chamber" (the senate).
Reason enough for me to vote.
It rained a little this morning. Enough to put on my ponchoo, but I did
not put on the hood all the time.
This morning, it was 1.6 degrees Celsius when I went outside. It seems we
are in a high-pressure area again, just like some weeks ago. Yesterday
evening, I accidently came across the movie
Emporte Moi on a German
Test your reaction speed. On my first attempt, my slowest response was
0.245, my fastes 0.209 with an average of 0.228. On my second attempt my
fastest response was 0.187. I get the idea that if I concentrate too much,
e.g., I want to response fast, that my response is slower, while the
fastest response were when I just let my "brain" do the work. I have
noticed that over the years my ability to catch dropping object has
increased. Sometimes, I get the feeling that I catch something before I
have consciously decided that there is something I should catch. As a
boy I was rather clumsy.
Today, it is ten years ago that Mosaic was released from
NCSA. You can still download
it from evolt.org. And if you
want to see how a search engine sees this blog, look
SARS, a disease without a real name, that is either being controlled
in the next five days, or going to disrupt our global economy
totally. At the moment its cause is unknown, but it is very likely
that it is caused by an unknown virus. The question is how many
people are already affected by it in Asia. Even if we are able to
control it in the western world, I am afraid that it is going to
cause a lot of casualties in Asia. It might soon become a hotter
news item, than the war on Iraq.
Today, Annabel got her second
swiming diploma. It went much like the first, except that
the distances were a little longer. I took a picture right outside of the swimming
pool with her holding the diploma. I forgot to check the batteries
of the video camera, so I did not get much on video. I did take
two pictures with our "normal" camera.
I had to watch over
Andy most of the time. He joined in the
counting and enjoyed it very much, except at the right end when
he got into a bad mood. I had to carry him to the car and struggle
with him to get him into his car seat. Also at home it took him
some time to calm down.
Moment of truth
It was -0.1 degrees this
morning at our home, according to the temperature sensor that is hanging out of
the window in our back garden. Today, the "moment of truth" has come. We will
see what this day will bring. The war is going to start any moment now.
(Actually, I am more worried about what SARS will bring us the coming four
Attack is coming
This morning it was 0.9
degrees Celsius, but I biked so fast that I decided to take of my cap and gloves
after fifteen minutes. Now it is clear what the US will do. Before the end of
the week we will hear reports about Bagdad being bombed. The big question is,
what will Sadaam do? Will he bomb Quwait before that time? I also wonder how
long it will take the US to capture (or kill) him. They are still looking for
I just down loaded dasher
to give it a try i wrote this text with it i amgaing speed only slowly some times
it works very fast but at other points i get lost
As you can see, I did not figure out how to add punctuation, and how to make
capitals. Could it not do it by itself, I wonder. At least it is a funny little
tool to play with.
I have been playing with it so more, and I have to say that I am getting
faster all the time. I can imagine that you can write very fast with it. I think
it is a great tool for people with certain disabilities.
A few days ago, I saw a documentairy that showed the version of the Quran
in the Umm al Maarik ("the mother of all wars") mosque, which is written
with the blood of Sadaam Hussein. It is said that he donated the amouth
of 24 liter of his own blood over a periode of three years.
At this moment, most Americans are asleep, except those that wait around Iraq
to be deployed in the war. Last night, Bush addressed
the people of the United States of America. In this address he said: "The
United States of America has the sovereign authority to use force in assuring
its own national security." Finally, the US have done what everyone feared.
The have decided that their sovereign authority is more important than the
authority of the United Nations Security Council with respect to international
matters. Bush said that Iraq has uniformly defied Security Council resolutions.
But now the Bush administration itself has decided to start a war that has not
been sanctioned by the Security Council. They did not call for a vote, as they
had promised to do March 7, saying that France would use its veto
to turn it down anyway. However, it seems that the real reason is that France,
and for the matter, also Russia, would not have needed to use their veto right,
because they nevertheless would not have gotten nine countries to vote for the
resolution. I feel that the Bush administration can no longer use the argument
that Iraq has defied the Security Counsel, because now Iraq has an equal right
to state that they have defied the Security Counsel as well. And if the US has
the sovereign authority to use force in assuring its own national security, then
Iraq has this same right. Because the Bush administration has decided to start
this war without the sanction of the Security Counsel, it has become an ordinary
war between two countries. (Yes, I know, there are some more countries on the
side of the US, but it seems that the US is taking the lead.)
Another thing that I would like to remark is that Bush said that war crimes will
be prosecuted. My question is: "by whom?". Not by the international court of
justice that the US does not want to acknowledge, I hope. Does that mean that
the US is going to judge them by themselves, just like they are doing with the
many Taliban? Is the US to start their own international court of justice now?
The decision of the Bush administration is already causing many problems, even
with its allies. It seems likely that Tony Blair will have to resign after the
war is over. His own Labour party is very much divided over his decision. At this
moment only 40% of the people in Brittain support Blair's decision. I figure that
this percentage might drop significantly when the first casualties occur.
Even in the Netherlands it has caused political problems. At the moment
the Christian Democrats are still forming a new coalition with the Labour party.
The Labour party had said yesterday that they did not want the Netherlands
to join in any military activity. (In a sense, we are already doing this,
because there are Dutch Pattriot's in Turkey, and Dutch F16 are flying
above Afghanistan to free the Americans from that responsability.) The current
government however, consists of parties that are in favour of a war against
Iraq. This morning the Jan Pieter Balkenende, our Prime Minister, made the
statement that the government is not going to support the war with military
means but does support it politically. This statement has raised many questions
with respect to its meaning. Collin Powel declared this afternoon that the
Netherlands is one of the countries that support the war. This did not make
the Labour party very happy, and they have said that they do not even want
the Netherlands to support the war politically. To me it looks like this
is going to cause great trouble in the formation of the new coalition between
the Christian Democrats and the Labour party, and that it might well end it.
This whole thing also starts to become damaging for our Prime Minister.
Last week there was another national matter (related to the monarchy),
which has been rather damaging for Jan Pieter Balkenende. The final
consequence might well be that he has to resign, or at least will not
be regarded as being suitable for the next Prime Minister. At least the
whole Iraq issue does not contribute to the political stability of our
Rather cold this morning,
although the temperature was only a little higher (1.3 degrees Celsius). But it
was foggy and the wind was blowing from the East, right in my face.
Yesterday night, I saw a fragment of "Julie & Herman" made by
Riba Filmproductions B.V. on
the third Dutch public channel. It is a type of movie that is not very likely to
be shown on a public broadcasting networks around the world, except for the
Netherlands and maybe some other Northern European countries.
Operation Iraqi Freedom
Operation Iraqi Freedom has started. Some interesting comment of half a milion
children having died in the past ten years due to the lack of chlorine. (But
reference to facts supporting this, are missing.) I am not in favour of this
war, but also not against it, for the simple reason that I think I am not in the
position to make a judgement. Firstly, I do not have sufficient reliable
information to make a good judgement. Secondly, I am not in a position of power.
I regret that the Dutch government is politically supporting this war, because I
think that the United States should not have put aside the United Nations
Security Council in the way they did.
Template Library (STL) is one of the most successfull attempts in what I
would call "generative programming". By a clever use of C++ Templates, code is
"generated" when templates are instantiated. And although, I would not call
myself an STL expert, I feel that the way iterators are defined, makes it hard
to define your own iterators. The data structures used by STL are defined in
such away that each iterator can be represented by a single pointer in a data
structure. This is not strange, once you realize that the design of iterators
is based on the concept of pointers.
I often have encountered the situation in which a complex data
structure is being queried and a collection of elements is
constructed. If one wants to check if the collection is empty
or not, or if one wants to count the number of elements, this
is a waste of work. So, what one really would like to have is
an iterator that would traverse the complex data structure.
Converting such a query algorithm into an iterator in itself
is not very straight forward, especially, if recursive methods
are used (see Machine independent implementation
of Cooperative Multi-threading in C for some ideas how it could
be done in a generic way), but the way in which iterators are
modeled in STL does not help very much. A piece of code for
travering a collection looks like:
for (Collection::iterator it = collection.begin(); it != collection.end(); ++it)
For this to work, the Collection class needs to implement
the begin and end methodes returning a Collection::iterator
object. And the Collection::iterator class needs to implement
the assignment operator ("="), the dereferencing operator ("*"),
an increment operator ("++"), the equality operator ("==") and the different
If you have to keep some administration of where you are while traversing
the complex data structure, the implementation of the assignment operator
and the equality operator pose the greatest problems. Often one has to resort
to hacks to avoid these problems. Also if one wants to add filter conditions,
there is a problem, because one would have to define a wrapper collection,
because part of the "traversal" is defined in the collection. Actually, if
you think about this, this is really bad design, because it breaks the concept
of locality, e.g., a certain function should be defined in one class, if possible
A better interface would be one that does away with the begin and end
methods, and the assignment and (un)equality operators. One could even do
away with the increment operator, if one is willing to add an explicit "initialize"
state to the iterator. Below an example is given, where we also add a filter
The conclusion seems to be although STL is build around the concept of iterators,
it does not promote it as a programming technique, because it is rather
difficult to define your own iterators.
In the entrance hall of the KCT building, where our offices
are, there are always some fresh flowers standing.
from this week produce a destinctive fragrance, which you smell
everytime when you enter the hall.
Rose en Witte
I have a box with Rose en Witte Muisjes standing on my desk. In the Netherlands we
have this tradition to hand out "beschuit met muisjes" whenever a child
Beautiful spring day
It's going to be a beautiful
day. When I left from home around half past seven, it was 3.3 degrees Celsius
outside. The forecast is that temperatures might get as high as 19 degrees
Celsius, and when I just look outside of the window, I can image this. I see
many people walking and biking without coats. Yesterday was the first real
spring day we had. I did some gardening in our back garden.
But all this seems
to be overshadowed by the war that is being fought in Iraq. It looks like this
is not going to be a very "clean" war. It would not surprise me if fights will
continue througout Iraq even after the central government has been overtrown.
Last weekend, I saw (parts of) the following movies: Eddie, Beowulf, and The Glimmer Man.
Some commercial Dutch TV station is running an ad campaing with the Dutch
title "Eindelijk weer iets fatsoenlijks op TV", which roughly translates
to "Finally, something decent again on TV". Every morning, when I bike
to my office, I come along one of their bill boards,
which shows from left-to-right, a burning man on a motor cycle, two girls
touching their tongues, an electrical chair, a girl picking her nose, a woman
in a bikini, and a bird doll with large genitals laying on its back.
Should this be considered as an example of the statement that money is
the root of all evil?
Boring Blog entry
Yesterday, it was 8.3
degrees Celsius, and I decided to put on a summer coat. It was great. This
morning the temperature was 7.7 degrees Celsius, and it looks we are going to
have a nice day again. I wonder if anybody is interested in this, but I think
that this is true for most blogs anyway! At the moment, I simply do not have
anything to tell.
New American Century
I came across the statement of
principles of New American Century. It is also interesting to see who are
supporting this. The United States is becoming the empire of the twentyfirst
century. Yesterday, I was reading how the Coalition was complaining about how
the Iraqi's violated the rules of warfare. As if a war is played with fare
rules. I wonder what American citizens would do if they were attacked by a
foreign nation when their army was to weak to fight against the evil aggressor.
I hope that the war will be over soon, but it seems that this will not be the
Fortuyn murder trial
Fortuyn murder trial opens noisily CNN reported.
This afternoon, I discovered that in C++ you can test whether "this" is 0,
at least in Visual C++ this is possible. That means there is actually a
way for methods to deal with the situation that they are called from a
pointer that does not point to something at all (a so-called null pointer).
In code you often find expressions similar to this:
int val = (obj != 0) ? obj->getValue() : 0
If in every place the value 0 should be returned, one could modify the
method getValue() by adding the following two lines of code,
right at the start of the method:
if (this == 0)
Now the above invocation can be simply rewritten as:
int val = obj->getValue();
Another well-know solution to the problem of null pointers is to
introduce the concept of null objects that are assigned to the
variable. This only solves half of the problem, because it still
does not provide a water thight solution for the problem of methods
being called on null pointers, except of course, if one make use of
smart pointers, that take care of this.
Comments on the war on Iraq
This morning, I read this
"Re: Talk about
counting chickens" posting on slashdot, which I found insightful with
respect to the war on Iraq. In
posting, the author also gives some interesting statistics about US foreign
aid. The whole
thread is worth reading.
We have been giving Andy some Eye Q
for about a week now. It is a supplement that contains some
essential fatty acids (EFA's), that during clinical test have
produced positive effect on children with certain types of
development problems. We already have been giving him
some omega-3 EFA's since October 9,
2001, and we think it did contribute to help him
start walking. The Eye Q supplement also has one
omega-6 fatty acids, but what seems more important, the
ratio between EPA and DHA is four to one. So far, the only
effect we have seen is that Andy often wakes up early in
the morning, between five and six o'clock. Often he just
switches on the light, and start "reading" his books.
Yesterday evening, I downloaded a trial version of
a program that can translate sounds to Midi files.
I had read several possitive reviews about this program.
The interface looks great, although it took me some time
to figure out how to make it work. It looks promising,
but is far from being complete with respect to its
abilities to recognize sounds. We are perfectly capable
to recognize individual instruments when being played
together. Apparently it is hard to create a program
that could do the same.
It made me think about what I wrote before about
snare spectra. Actually, these snares act like
very narrow band filters. The interesting thing is
that they run in sync (with a certain delay) with the
strongest frequency in the band. I read somewhere that
the spikes generated by the nerve cells attached to
the snares in our ear, actually run in sync. So
apparently our brain uses fase information (at least
for the lower frequencies). I understand that we do
have some hard wired parts for detecting the direction
from which sounds are coming, and that young babies
already know where sounds are coming from.
From my attempts to recover data from old
computer tapes, I already know that analyzing
signals is far from easy.
Signs of the spring
Today, I noticed that one of the small chestnut trees
in the from garden, which I planted last September,
started to sprout with green
leaves. The magnolia in the back garden also
starts to blossom. I haven't seen any open flowers yet, but that will be a
matter of days.
This months interesting links
February 2003 |
April 2003 |