Linux gets frozen, what do you do?
I’ve been using linux for the better part of the last 15 years, and I didn’t know this command. I would always try with
Ctrl+Alt+F3 or some other
F to get to a virtual console and then either kill the processes,
sudo reboot, or simply do a hard reboot if even the console was unresponsive. The solution in the link above seems more elegant.
No Smartphone for Lent | Matt Mullenweg.
Matt Mullenweg is trying to give up using his smartphone during Lent, and I’m starting to think it’s a good idea. I notice that I’m dependent on a number of apps on my phone to a great degree – especially Calendar, Reminders, Evernote, Mail, Tweetbot and Google Maps – and I’m starting to think that I delegate too much of my own memory to my phone. I don’t exactly manage a company, and if I forget something then (1) probably nothing tragic will happen, and (2) perhaps it’ll teach me to remember things better, hell, maybe even to write things down on a piece of paper. And I really don’t need to check my email all the time, same way I don’t need to know what’s on twitter right now.
So the plan is to switch to, as Matt puts it, makes-phone-calls-only phone and see how much I can manage with that. My bet is I won’t make it to the end of Lent, but I’m gonna try anyway.
Went for on a very short ride to Askøy.
Once you have gained a taste for adrenaline-flavoured simplicity, it can become addictive. Ukraine needs a decade of hard work on reform to recover the chances squandered in the past 25 years, building the institutions, habits and attitudes needed for honest, lawful government. That will require patience and expertise, not courage and barricades.
I love Ukraine and Ukrainians, and I’m so glad that the violence stopped, but at the same time I’m worried about Ukraine’s future. The amount of bad journalism that you can find on the topic online is staggering, but the blog entry on “Eastern Approaches” by The Economist is luckily rather good (as usual), providing a thorough and non-emotional analysis of the whole situation.
Stranger-on-bybanen: So how come you still don’t speak Norwegian? How long have you been living here? Two weeks?
me: Four years…
S-o-b: Four years?! Well what is it that you do?
me: I work at the university.
S-o-b: Oh. Well what do you do at the university?
me: Well I’m a researcher at the computer science department.
S-o-b: Aha. So you’re a nerd. And you don’t think there’s any point in talking to people.
me: Well… yes.
Put.io – a discussion about piracy on Hacker News
put.io is a service that lets you download and seed torrents, and also watch the downloaded movie files, in the cloud. An obvious question that such a business model raises is a matter of illegal downloads, and that spawned an interesting discussion on HN.
Whenever I read discussions about illegal torrent downloads, I immediately think of three issues.
The first one is convenience – as a Netflix and HBO Nordic customer I miss the comfort of watching great quality mp4 files so much that I… became an IPredator customer, and I download the movies/shows I already payed for simply to be able to watch them without my laptop fan spinning like crazy.1
The second is the whole issue of what’s right, and how human beings aren’t necessarily entitled to watch the latest episode of “Mad Men” whenever and however they want. I used to support this claim and I still think that the argument of “I can’t get it in any other way so I’m gonna download it illegally using bittorrent” is weak, but I find it very unpragmatic to simply forbid downloading. I’m also starting to believe that contemporary TV shows and movies are becoming a significant part of modern culture to a degree that it’s just not right to deny access to that part to people who don’t have Netflix in their countries, or can’t afford going to the cinema very often. Continue reading
I don’t ski,1 and every winter doing any sorts of sports becomes a major problem. This year I’m trying to change that. As anyone will tell you, riding a bike or running in bad weather is simply a matter of attitude. One should just embrace Rule #9 and keep on pushing, but I’ve never been able to do that myself. Every year I promised myself that I won’t be paying any attention to rain or snow, but year after year I failed, bought that monthly bus ticket and locked my bike at home.
This year, however, things are different. I just got the lamest Strava badge for 150km ridden in a month:
but it’s the very first time I got any kind of badge for January.
The surprising thing is, once you convince yourself riding in winter is possible, it’s not that bad. Granted, my times on all segments are considerably worse, but I realized that neither rain nor cold bothers me that much.2 The trick is to convince yourself that it’s ok to ride in bad weather, and that still comes pretty hard to me, but I found another way – I take an indirect and much longer route home from my office, thus having some extra exercise, because I’m carrying a heavy bag on my back, and riding on a cyclocross bike. But it works, I am finally riding in the winter.
I traveled by train, and this post is an account of my experiences and a warning for others who might be attempting the same thing. It costed a lot of money, but most importantly, it was a very exhausting and stressful experience. So if you’re reading this and planning on doing the same thing – don’t.
First of all: why did I do it? Well, there’s a couple of reasons. First was curiosity – I like trains, and I really wanted to try that kind of long international train travel. Second was finance – plane tickets have a tendency of becoming ridiculously expensive before Christmas, and I had a hard time finding the sort of tickets I wanted (BGO–WAW, POZ–BGO), so I figured that trains can be cheaper. In the end they weren’t, but they weren’t significantly more expensive either, and given that I’ve had a lot of flying last month, I decided I’ll give the train a chance.
Secondly: how did I do it? Well I checked a couple of possible connections via the best railway connection finder in the world, and I decided to go like this:
- morning train from Bergen to Oslo;
- Oslo to Katrineholm;
- night train from Katrineholm to Lund;
- Oresund train accross the sea to Copenhagen;
- ICE 38 from Copenhagen to Berlin;
- and a EuroCity from Berlin to Poznań, where I’d meet with my friends and continue to my parents’ place by car.
So that was the plan, and it looked good. In the end I managed to arrive in Poznań on time, but there was a lot of stress and some adventures on the way.
The Year in Elegant iPhone Games
For those of you having Christmas holidays, The New Yorker1 recommends some “elegant” iOS games. I must say I’m not much of a gamer (except for an occasional CS:Source), and I actually never played any games on my iPhone or iPad (except for LetterPress, in which I always lose to Karolina), but still I decided to test some of the games mentioned in the article and, frankly, had my mind blown away. Just like Rothman says: it’s unbelievable how beautifully designed and perfectly engineered these small games are. Stickets is a highly annoying (for the less intelligent among us) and innovative puzzle game (a sort of “twisted” tetris, if you will), Device 6
is a work-of-art adventure game, rymdkapsel is one of the best strategy games I’ve ever played (despite its rudimentary, but aesthetically pleasing2 graphics), and Blek is super smart and has a fun and original game mechanic. So, in other words, each of the games I’ve tested so far is a marvel.
What perhaps is the most beautiful aspect of all these games is that they were developed by small, independent studios, sometimes even by one or two persons. Just like with games sold by Humble Bundle, I realize I enjoy these independent titles much more than big, blockbuster games these days, which means I’m either getting old, or that I’m seeking what Rothman calls “elegance” in gaming, which big titles seldom provide.
Anyways, happy Christmas, and play some games when the family starts getting on your nerves.
“It depends on what you mean by artificial intelligence.” Douglas Hofstadter is in a grocery store in Bloomington, Indiana, picking out salad ingredients. “If somebody meant by artificial intelligence the attempt to understand the mind, or to create something human-like, they might say—maybe they wouldn’t go this far—but they might say this is some of the only good work that’s ever been done.”
via The Man Who Would Teach Machines to Think.
A long and interesting read about AI’s most brilliant mind – Douglas Hofstadter – his FARG research group, and the current state of mainstream AI research.
I must say I was rather conflicted reading the article. While I think GEB is probably the most important book I’ve ever read,1 and while Hofstadter is definitely a genius, I’m not entirely sure I agree with discrediting the “small steps” approach present in the article. Coming from a philosophy background into computer science I find that a lot of philosophical research in AI-related fields (like epistemology or logic) is somewhat wishy-washy or superfluous, as is “philosophically-inspired computer science” research.2 Then again I realize that the single most harmful threat to my own community of logics-for-AI or multi-agent-systems is creating various formalisms (algorithms, logics, diagrams…) solely because “we can”, and because it’s always better to have more theorems and proofs, even if no one knows what they’re for. The article linked above provides a somewhat fresh and broad perspective on what AI is today, while trying to answer a question of what AI should be. And these are the issues keynote speakers at big AI conferences should be addressing, trying to inspire people and make them contemplate on the big-picture issues; we don’t need another keynote on SAT solving and ILP.3
Last week I came to New Zealand for COIN@PRIMA workshop and PRIMA-13 conference. It’s the first time I’m on the southern hemisphere, and I have a couple of observations about New Zealand and the whole Oceania region I’d like to share.
- First off, New Zealand is soooper far away from everything. It took me more than 45 hours to get here from Bergen,1 and I just talked to a Kiwi friend who told me Wellington is the most remote capital city in the world, being furthest away from any other capital city. The feeling one has here is that while the country seems rather Western (lots of post-British architecture, English as the official language, lots of familiar products in the shops), it’s very exotic. You see Fiji Airways planes at the airports, and there are weird looking trees, birds and plants everywhere. Also, New Zealanders seem to often (implicitly) refer to Australia as the “big world”. Australia’s where the big cities are, it’s where you go to do your post-doc or PhD, and it’s where many people transfer for intercontinental flights. Still, from a European point of view, Australia is the end of the world in many ways – it’s vast, sparsely populated,2 and very far away from the rest of the world.3 Continue reading
I picked it up in Japan and I’m very happy. It’s a relatively compact camera with excellent manual controls, fantastic image quality and a great, bright and sharp prime lens.
This is one of the most brilliant things I’ve seen in a very long time.
The single best thing about Fujifilm X-E1 that people often fail to mention is that it comes with an aperture dial on its R lenses, and a dedicated shutter speed and exposure compensation dials. It is orders of magnitude better than using the (now ubiquitous) exposure mode dial.
Sony announces A7 and A7R
So it finally happened: we have a full-frame mirrorless camera system. I suppose everyone expected it would, but at least I expected this camera would come from Olympus or Fujifilm, and not Sony. Kudos to Sony for making this bold move.
(too bad my trip to Japan is in October and not December)
Christopher Columbus was awful (but this other guy was not)
A better trade route to Asia be damned – Columbus wanted cheddar.
FastMail’s servers are in the US: what this means for you
I love the kind of frank disclosure FastMail does here. I’ve been using their service for more than a year now, and I find it exceptional. If you don’t like GMail, or think that having your email hosted by the world’s biggest advertising company isn’t the best idea, you should definitely give FastMail a try.
setxkbmap -option "ctrl:nocaps"
It sets caps lock to ctrl, which is its most useful and reasonable binding. Useful especially in latest releases of most distributions, since newest Gnome control centre libraries remove the GUI to set the above (seriously, Gnome people, what’s with the constant removal of useful stuff, huh?).
update: Anya tweets a protip:
I guess whether
.xsession still works depends on what kind of desktop env you’re using, afaik it doesn’t work on GNOME/Unity. Also, Unity still has a UI where you can put “startup applications”, and these can be arbitrary commands.