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Diary, November 2010

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Monday, November 1, 2010


Today, is a palindrome date of the form DD-MM-YY or YY-MM-DD. There are only 30 such palindrome dates in each century and they are always in November. Today, is also my 49th birthday and my seventh square year birthday. It is the first time that I celebrate my birthday on a palindrome date of any kind. Most likely it will also be my last one.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Going into the city

Today, Li-Xia and I went into the city. After having bought some fruit, we went to McDonalds. At 14:15, I bought two books from bookshop De Slegte. The first book is Plato and a Platypus Walk Into a Bar... by Thomas Cathcart and Daniel Klein. I have read this book this summer (report) but I gave it to my nephew Xuan-Xuan. Now I saw the last for € 3, while on July 8 I paid € 5.99. The other book is Theo Colenbrander: Tapijtontwerpen by Arno Weltens which contains carpet designs by Theo Colenbrander. In the evening, I started manually digitizing the first design with the use of MS Paint: the result. A fragment of this is displayed on the right. Later we also bought the DVD The Golden Compass for € 3.99 and watched it in the evening.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Carpets of Theo Colenbrander

Yesterday evening, I spend some time scanning the first carpet design in Theo Colenbrander Tapijten. I had to download and install a driver on my netbook to scanner of our MP520 printer/scanner. I was thinking about writing a program to process the scan. I searched for an open source replacement of MS Paint, and I downloaded: In the text of the book, I read that Richard Mills had taken the initiative to produce the carpets again. The book said that he started the website for this purpose, but when I looked at it this morning, I noticed that it is his personal web site. I could not find anything about the carpets. But when I googled a little, I found, from which the carpets can be ordered. It seems that they already have digitized many of the designs. It is a flash web site and it is not obvious how it works. I haven't found out how to order a carpet. Somewhere it states that the production time is about half a year, because the carpets are hand made. I guess that they will cost anywhere between ten to fifthy thousands USD/Euro.

Friday, November 12, 2010


SyGo is an abstract game invented by Christian Freeling, which is a mixture between Symple and Go. Hence its name. It is also an entry for Recre.Games.Combinatorial: Official Abstract Game Design Contest (login required), which poses the following game designs:
  1. Win Condition: winner is player with majority stones on board when board is full.
  2. Capture by Conversion: stones convert to the opposite color during the gameplay by some mechanism.
  3. Playable in the iggc sandbox: this means the board for your game must use a square or hexagonal tiling.
  4. Game should be for 2 players only.

If you combine this with the grow rules from Symple and the capture conditions of Go, you get SyGo. The capture by conversion, removes some forms of game play found in Go, such ko and snap-back. The game is clearly less complex than Go and I also do not consider the combination of the Symple, Go, and capture by conversion very organic.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Complexity of SyGo

Last Friday, I remarked that SyGo was "Clearly less complex" than Go. As a response to this remark, on Tuesday, November 16, Christian Freeling wrote a response on his blog (in Dutch). I responded to this with an email and he replied again. When I made that remark, I was thinking about the possible number of games. There are several reasons why this 'theoretical' complexity of Go is larger: First of all, SyGo puts some limits on the places where stones can be placed during the growing phase of the game. At first sight one might think that making multi-stones moves increase the number of possible games, but it decreases the number, because if those stones where played one-by-one there are many more sequences in which those stones can be placed. Also in SyGo the number of stones never decreases, while with Go it can. And although in real games this never happens, it is possible to repeatingly capture all stones of one of the players. Players can even alternate in capturing all stones of each other. But the theoretical number of possible games is strongly reduced for stronger players. Often there are only a limited number of good moves. And then there is also the preceived complexity of a game. Having to make multi-stones moves is generally speaking preceived as more complex. Yet, I think that with multi-stones move games, it is often the case that the choices are localized and that in those cases when the individual moves are related, it is possible to balance the effects. Yet, if you have only one stone to place, the dilemma may be greater. The theoretical complexity of Draughts is far less then that of Go, but don't say this to a seasoned Draught player facing a complex position.

Christian noted that strictly speaking SyGo is not a mix of Symple and Go. It uses principles of both games. I am charmed by the idea that Symple is such a strong game yet has such symple rules, like Havannah and that I was not convinced that the added complexity of rules of SyGo would make it such a more complex game. Christian felt that the rules where not that more complex. I have to agree with that, because there are games with far more rules. Christian also remarked that, as Mark Thompson calls it, Symple lacks 'drama'. Once you get behind, you have lost. And he argues that that makes SyGo a better game than Symple.

I also reasoned that SyGo is less complex than Go, because it lacks Ko fights. But I have to agree that in Go additional, and often arbitrary, additional rules, besides the basic rules are need, read: Comparison of Some Go Rules. And one can argue for a logical set of rules as John Tromp does. In that respect SyGo is a cleaner game. Christian is also arguing that SyGo may be more appealing to the modern player, because it is a fast and dramatic game.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Tosca Menten

This afternoon, when Li-Xia and I went to De Bijenkorf I found the childrens book Juffrouw Pots by Tosca Menten on the 50%-off table. Normally, I do not buy children books, but I know Tosca from the time that I lived in Woerden and even visited her at home several times. At 14:38:43, I bought the book for € 6.99.

Monday, November 22, 2010


Some time ago, I came across the AGFL Grammar Work Lap, a parser for natural language processing with some impressive parsers for several languages. The initial reason why I arrived at this page was an old idea of parsing the Greek text of the new testament. I found the AGFL page through A machine parseable context free grammar for toki pona. (By the way, today, I found The State of the Koine Parser as of October 2008 and, which shows that I am not the only person with the idea of parsing the Greek text of the new testament.) Then I dreamed about the idea of parsing the text of Ulysses by James Joyce. I downloaded the text from Project Guttenberg and studied it a little. Yesterday, I also found the Ulysses free audio-book. I started listening to the first part while cooking, but could not really follow the text. But it made me think about what "understanding" means. I came to the conclusion that understanding is a (creative) process of finding a simple solution within a certain domain that explains all phenonema. When we look at a picture and recognize a face of a person, it means that in our minds we have made model of how a 3D-model of a face under certain lighting conditions can be rendered to the given picture. To understand a novel like Ulysses would require a huge amount of background knowledge. Even to construct an AGFL grammar using the Manual of AGFL system (PDF) that can correctly parse the text of a novel like Ulyesses would be a huge task.

Chinese Curly Kail

Last weekend, I bought some curly kail. Today, I decided to fry it with tofu and napa cabbage. I first sliced the tofu in small cubes, added some light superior soy sauce and fried it separately. Meanwhile, I sliced one and a half union and two cloves of garlic. I also cut the inner half of a napa cabbage that I had left over from last week. (I usually start peeling the leaves from the outside one by one and slice these. The inner half I usually slice as a whole.) I first fried the unions and garlic a little, then added 500 gr of curly kail, and after that had reduced in size a little, I added the napa cabbage. For Li-Xia, I made some smashed potatoes from what was left over from yesterday. The combination of curly kail and napa cabbage tasted nice.

Problems with johan

This evening, when I started our computer johan, I produced an error in the nv4_disp driver during booting. Lately, the Windows logo often also did not display. About 30% of the time, the monitor stays black when starting the computer. I am getting the impression that the NVIDA GeForce 8400 GS video card does not detect the monitor and simply decides to give no signal. Luckily, I managed to boot the computer in safe mode without problems. But even then yellow patches would appear on the screen with various scrolling operations, giving me the impression of some serious problems with the memory used by the video card. I first decided to make a back-up of the hard disk to the Freecom Mobile USB drive. Andy was a little annoyed that he could not use the computer in the normal mode. After he went to bed, I had a look inside. I tried to get the video card out, but I failed to do so. Fiddling with the card did not resolve the issue. I did find the Q293078 issue which suggested to switch of hardware acceleration and disable write combining. When I booted the computer after following this suggested, the problem seemed gone. When I opened the display from the control panel, I noticed that hardware acceleration was enabled, but that write combining was disabled. I do not notice any delay in the update of the screen.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Long list of authors

Today, I came across the article Charged-particle multiplicity density at mid-rapidity in central Pb-Pb collisions at sqrt(sNN) = 2.76 TeV. It is a 10 page article of which more than five pages are used for the list of authors, the list of institutions they worked at and the list of footnotes to these. Two of the authors is deceased. One of them, I presume, is Prof. René Kamermans who unexpectedly died on June 28, 2010. The other is, I presume, Giulio Dellacasa.

Friday, November 26, 2010

New graphic card

Yesterday, when I started our computer johan for the second time, it gave the same problems as last Monday and the problems did not go away. Today, I went into the city with Andy. We looked at several shops: Paradigit, ASCI, Dynabyte, and Media Markt. Finally, I decided to go for the MSI GeForce N210 with 512MB card from Paradigit. At 13:53, I bought it for €39.95. I put it into the computer after we arrived at home. There were some small glitches with installing the drivers, but then everything worked smooth. Then Andy was happy again.

Sunday, November 28, 2010


In the past days, I worked on a program to reconstruct the designs by Theo Colenbrander from images of his designs. The programs samples an image based on three points and the width and height of the destination images. The program is based on the GFL SDK, on which XnView is based. A first version of the program can be downloaded here. The source need to be placed in a directory at the top-level of the GLF SDK source tree. After compiling it with VC++ 6.0, the libgfl311.dll files need to be placed the Debug or Release directory or in the search path, before the program can be executed. One needs to open a file first, after which the Grid dialog can be used to specify the three points (in doubles) and the width and height. The three points specify the left top, the right top, and left bottom corners.

I also have been thinking about developing a script language for the image manipulation. I also got the idea to integrate this with the MySample editor. Today, I worked on a new version for this editor, with improved syntax highlighting for JavaScript and HTML files. Also fixed some problems in the C++ highlight code. The sources can be found here.


Monday, November 29, 2010

One inch of snow

Around lunch time it snowed for about two hours giving a layer of about one inch of snow. Not much, but it is the first real snow this year. Last Friday and Saturday, we already saw some specks of snow, Friday while the sun was shining. At the end of the evening, the snow caused some problems in the West of the Netherlands, resulting in a record number of miles of traffic jams.

This months interesting links

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