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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
Date: Wed, 18 Jan 2006 00:53:59 -0520
From: Doreen Cox <firstname.lastname@example.org>
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.
When my colleague opened the blinds around a quarter to nine, he shouted:
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
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.
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.
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.
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