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Diary, December 2004

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Wednesday, December 1, 2004

Going to the Go club

This evening, Annabel and I went to the Go club. She played three games against one of my former university teachers (and also colleague, when I worked at the university). He was one of the persons that started the Go club many years ago, but he actually had not been playing in the past years. So they made a good match. Annabel won the first game. I played against Taco, a third Dan player, who got a nine stone handicap. In the middle game it looked like I was going to win, but then I was so stupid to try to save some stones in the middle of the board. In doing so, I lost them, and left all my small groups on the sides weak, while he had all his stones connected. And, of course, it turned out that some of my groups were not so solid as I had thought. Finally, I lost with about 90 points. (SGF, PS.)

Somewhere during the game, I noticed the voice of our Prime Minister on the radio barely audible say the words "Markante Prins". I immediately realized Prince Bernard, the father of our Queen, had died. Only at home, why brushing my teeth, I realized that my own father died four year ago. Early this evening, I had the undefined urgue to phone my mother and to ask her how she is doing, but I was too busy with other things, and could not come up with a reason why I should phone her on this day. Isn't that wierd. I felt quit bad having forgotten the day that my father died. A few weeks ago, my mother told me that she too had not felt very sad when her parents died.

Wednesday, December 8, 2004

Two half games

This evening, I played two half games of Go. I started a game against Rudi, a 5th Dan player. But about half way the game (SGF, PS) it was obvious that he was going to win. Ton had arrived late, and he had nobody to play with, so Ton and I played. (I did not record this game, because I was afraid that the batteries would run empty.) We had to stop the game, because it was getting late. At the point we stopped, my position was a little stronger, but I still might have lost.

Friday, December 10, 2004

New nephew

This morning, I received an email from China with some baby pictures. Then I knew that we got a new nephew, the son of my brother-in-law and his wife. I phoned Li-Xia to tell her the news. She then phoned to her brother and heard all the details.

Saturday, December 11, 2004

Curly Kail

Today, I went into the city with Annabel, because she wanted to skate on the ice. On the square called "the old market" there was a temporary skating rink. Afterwards we went to market, I looked for some fresh curly kail. When Annabel saw some, she said that it looked ugly, and that she didn't want to eat it. I bought three heads of curly kail. I also bought some potatoes. It has been many months ago that I bought some potatoes, because we do not eat potatoe any more so often. At home, I cut all of the curly kail, carefully taking out the veins of the leaves. Half of it we boiled together with potato to make some hotchpotch. The other half Li-Xia fried with some oil in a pan. I also fried five unions in some olive oil and added quite some "Pearl River Bridge" "Superior Dark Soy Sauce" and a little bit of salt as a replacement for the pork cubes. We ate it together with some chicken smoked sausage and gherkins. We ended up eating the fried curly kail as well. But we did not finish all of the unions.

Muslim fundamentalists

From a recent poll under Muslims in the Netherlands, one could conclude that we have about 300,000 Muslim fundamentalists in our country. About 30% of the 488 Muslims being questioned, wanted to have the sharia laws installed in our country. Sharia law implies that all non-Muslims become second class citizens with very limited rights. That they want to have the Sharia laws installed, implies that they are fundamentalists that want to do away the seperation of state and religion. Of course, it is not clear that all of them understood the implications of this to the full extend, but nevertheless it shows that a large part of the Muslim population would like to see the Netherlands to become a Muslim country. And of course, not all of these fundamentalists are Muslim extremists, but it would not surprise me that a substantial part of them would not condemn any form of extremism, and thus play a role in supporting them. This development is rather shocking to me, especially if you realize that it is expected that around 2050 about half of the Dutch population will be Muslim. The most important cause for this is the fact that Muslims marry earlier and get more children than the rest of the population, mainly because they happen to be poorer. Recently, some Muslims have declared that they wanted to start a Muslim political party. About half of the interviewed declared wanting to vote on such a party.


Wednesday, December 15, 2004

A draw

This evening, Annabel and I went to the Go club to play Go. She played two games against Taco. I analyzed a game with Marcel, and then played against him. He was given a nine stone handicap, because he is a third Dan player. I made the last move of the game, which was really not needed, and when we counted, it turned out we both had 75 points, and that it was a draw. I could have won, had I not placed my last stone.

Then, just when I was about the leave shortly after ten, I met with a former colleague of former employer and I talked some time about how things were going.

Friday, December 17, 2004

Software patents in the EU

It looks like the European Software Patent Agreement will be adoption without a Qualified Majority. The Dutch government, currently holding the Presidency, has succeeded into getting it onto the agenda of the Agriculture and Fishery meeting that is being held next Tuesday. It will pass as a so-called A-item, meaning without a formal vote. It is quite clever that the Dutch Minister Brinkhorts succeeded in doing this, because the Dutch parliament ordered him to vote against it (after he gave his vote when having mislead the parliament about the contents of the agreement to be voted upon). But now there is no vote, so no reason for him to vote against it. The Dutch government did add some note that although they gave their vote, they do not want pure software patents. But, of course, such a note has not formal value, and would not stop the European Council from executing the agreement. Their will be a second reading at the European parliament, but the European parliament can only reject it, if all its members vote against it. It will be thus a matter of formality before the Agreement will come into place. The most striking thing of the fact is that Minister Brinkhorts belongs to a political party that is totally against Software Patents and even made it into an issue of their election program.

But I am afraid that he going to get away with it, because the issue is too complicated to be reported by the Dutch media. Just last week, the country turned up-side down when he made some remark about the movie 'Submission' in a newspaper interview.


Monday, December 20, 2004

Disappearing painting

Sometimes you do not realize something was there until it is gone. This is our last week in this building, because from the start of the new year the University of Twente want to make use of the building where our company is located. Last Friday, when I went to the toilet, I suddenly noticed an empty space in the hall. Telling from a loose wire, I concluded that there must have been a painting on the spot. However, I was unable to remember anything about how the painting looked. But I think I would recognize it, if I would see it again. Slowly, more signs of the eminent move are becoming visible. One of them being the cups with the coffee machine being replaced by plastic cups. I just noticed a van from a moving company, which probably is going to drop-off some boxes for people to pack their stuff. The larger part of the building is used by the Telematica Institute. We will be moving to a new office not far from our current location, but no longer on the Campus of the university.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Software Patent Decision Withdrawn from Agricultural Council Agenda

Good news! Software Patent Decision Withdrawn from Agricultural Council Agenda at Poland's Request.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004


It has been snowing this morning. As is often the case, it is too hot for the snow to stay. But one cannot deny that it is snowing. Changes for a white Christmas were estimated to be 6% earlier this week. Not that I would mind.


Christmas celebrations

This evening, both Annabel and Andy had some Christmas celebration at their school. I dropped of Andy around 17:05 at his school, and Li-Xia brought Annabel around the same time by bike to school. After Li-Xia and I had returned we prepared dinner and ate it. Then around six o'clock, Li-Xia went back, and about twenty past I went to get Andy again. When I came home with Andy, it turned out that Annabel did have a Christmas market at her school to do some fundraising for a school in Peru. Around seven, I biked to her school to get her.

Playing against Martijn

In the evening, I went to the Go club and played against Martijn. I did not make any big mistakes, but I left some opportunities to cause some substantial damage, and in the end Martijn won with 24 points. After we finished our game (SGF, PS) we did some analyses, and then watched the game between Ton and Rob being played besides us. And because that was the last running came, all the others ended up watching it as well.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

SparcStation 5

When people move, they sometimes has some items that they have no use of. That is how I got a SparcStation 5 and a Sun monitor today. But that was all, no power cords, no mouse, and no keyboard. In the evening, I went to my office to catch it and when I started the thing at home, it did boot, but complayed that there was no keyboard, and that I could only use tty. And because I do not have a terminal serial cable, I could not try to log on with my Toshiba notebook. But I am afraid that I will not be able to logon because I do not know the passwords. It does have a CD-ROM drive, so, I suppose, I could install a new operating system on it.


Taking a printer apart

I decided to give the printer that I bought together with Macintosh Performa to Annabel and let her take it apart for educational purposes. Because she was having some trouble with it, I ended up taking it apart for her. We studied the mechanics of the thing, but also the electronics. I explained her about the workings of the step motors, and we followed the wires on the printed circuit to the chips. I explained to her what I thought were the purpose of the various chips. We also studied the other components, like resistors and capacitors. But we also identified some other components, such as LED's and even some optical switches.


Friday, December 24, 2004

Mouse and keyboard

This morning, I did get a mouse and keyboard for the SparcStation 5 that I got yesterday. So that problem has been solved. Now I still need to find out if I can logon, and if not, how to install a new operating system.


Monday, December 27, 2004


Yesterday evening, I placed an ad on asking for some CD-ROMs to boot the SparcStation from. On Friday, I already discovered that it was enough to boot the machine from a CD-ROM in order to get into it. During the day several people replied, giving me lots of advice and telling me that I could download a version of Solaris for free. With my current dail-up line, it is not really possible to download whole CD-ROMs. Before the end of the day one of the persons who replied, mailed me some CD-ROMs, which might take some days to arrive due to the busy season with all the Christmas and New Year greetings being send. One other person email me that he would send me the CD-ROMs for free as long as I would make a donation to the national releave fund for the earth quake disaster that happened in Asia on Sunday. I thanked him for this kind offer and told him that I was going to make a donation anyway. I am often surprised by the generosity of computer enthousiasts and old fasioned hackers.


Theo van Gogh called Allah a pig

It now appears that the reason why Theo van Gogh was killed, probably was because he called Allah a pig, not because of the movie "Submission" as was believed until now. This was revealled by some women that knew suspect of the killing and his friends. They also testified that they did not know that the suspect was going to kill Theo van Gogh. The women also believe that the laws of the Islam are above Dutch state and that "democracy" and "Islam" do not go together. It seems that many people in the Netherlands do not realize that true teachings of the Islam are indeed about establishing a theocracy under sharia law. A guess that many people do not realize this because we live in a Christian culture that teaches that the Kingdom of God is not of this world, and the Christians should obey the "government" of the country they live in, no matter its form. It is true that in the past Christian religion and worldly governments have been one in some countries, but this is not according to what the Bible teaches.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

A white Christmas holiday

We did not get a white Christmas, but this morning it is snowing. But as usual the temperature is rising, and it is likely it will change into rain later this day. Most likely the snow will be gone tomorrow.

Lego switch

I wanted to demostrate the workings of one of the step motors from the printer that we took apart last Thursday to Annabel. It is a two coil stepping motor where the polarity of the electricity of the coils matters. The stepping motor has four internal state, each belonging to one of the coils being activated in one of the two possible directions. The electronic board of the printer uses a MTD2003F (made by Shindengen) for this purpose. To explain this to Annabel and Li-Xia, I needed a switch which could do this. I decided to build one from Lego. The idea is to have a rotating battery touching four possible contacts. My first attempt where the contact directly touch the ends of battery did not work, simply because one of the ends of the battery is flat and that does not turn nicely along a contact. My second attempt was to use two additional wires. And that did work. See this picture for the end result. The switch only uses 22 simple bricks without any "modifications". I simply used the bare ends of the wires as contacts by putting the bare ends between two blocks. It happened that the motor turned in the same direction as the battery. If you switch the wires of one of the coils it will turn in the opposite direction. I also explained the "Equivalent Circuit / Basic Application Circuit" on the third page of the data sheet to Li-Xia and Annabel.

In the past days, I also searched the Internet for some additional information about some of the IC used on the electronic board. The board uses the following IC's:

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Booting SparcStation from CD-ROM

Today, I received a Solaris 8 CD-ROM from Paul Westerweel, just in the case with tape around it to prevent opening it. He wrote a little note on the paper inlay stating that I did not have to pay him anything. I emailed him back that I will donate some extra money to national disaster fund for the Asian earthquake. I succeed in booting the SparcStation from the CD-ROM, and also in mounting the drive, but making changes to the "passwd" and "shadow" files does not have any effect. I still cannot logon. It seems that the system is trying to get the passwords over the network. And, of course, that does not work, because it is not connected to any network.


Winning from Ton

This evening, Annabel and I went to Rudi, because we could not play Go at the university, which is closed over the Christmas holidays. Martijn was already there and was playing a game against Rudi. I started to play against Annabel, and when Ton arrived, Annabel and I started to play against him, with him having an eight stone handicap. In the beginning, Annabel made some moves, but I quickly played alone against Ton. But Annabel made herself useful with noting down the moves on the Palm. After Rudi and Martijn had played two games, they followed our game. In the end I won with 60 against 56 points. (SGF, PS.) Rudi did make some remarks, which made me think a second time about my moves. But he felt he also made some remarks that could have confused me. This is the first time I won from Ton with him having an eight stone handicap.

Friday, December 31, 2004

U.S.A. being stingy?

During a recent poll by the New York Times, it appeared that most americans thought that they government gave 24% of their budget to third world aid. In reality it is less then a quarter of a procent, a hunderd times less. Today the government of the U.S.A. has promised to give 350 million dollar (260 million euro). That is a ten fold increase of the 35 million that they first wanted to give. (Their initial offer was only 15 million, which is less than half of the money that is used for the inauguration of President Bush.) The European Union has promissed to donate 300 euro, and that is on top of what national governments have donated. The Dutch government has donated 27 million euro. Yesterday, private people in the Netherlands had already donated 9.3 million euro. However, a lot more money will be needed. The number of casualties just keep going up and up. Also some Western countries are suffering great loses. Especially Sweden seems to have many casualties, and it may well up end as one of the biggest natural disasters in the history of the country.

The real terrible thing is that for each euro that the rich countries donate to the developing countries, they subsidize their own farmers for at least the double, maybe even the tenfold, so that they can export their agriculture products to those developing countries, and thus robbing the poor farmers in those countries from a honest possibility to create a decent income for themselves. I guess that if the U.S.A. would indeed give 24% of their budget to the developing world, poverty would probably be gone. But we should not forget that even in the U.S.A. their are many poor people.

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