Sound & Complete http://piotrkazmierczak.com/ Recent content on Sound & Complete Hugo -- gohugo.io en-us Sun, 10 May 2015 00:00:00 +0000 Done http://piotrkazmierczak.com/2015/done/ Sun, 10 May 2015 00:00:00 +0000 http://piotrkazmierczak.com/2015/done/ <p><img src="http://piotrkazmierczak.com/images/disputas.jpg" alt="" /> </p> <p>On Thursday, April 30th I successfully defended my thesis on <a href="http://piotrkazmierczak.com/papers/thesis.pdf">&ldquo;Agents that Play by the Rules&rdquo;</a> and was awarded the title of PhD.<sup class="footnote-ref" id="fnref:7cc51f6b66bfca8235c8329effaccdef:1"><a rel="footnote" href="#fn:7cc51f6b66bfca8235c8329effaccdef:1">1</a></sup> It was 4,5 years of work,<sup class="footnote-ref" id="fnref:7cc51f6b66bfca8235c8329effaccdef:2"><a rel="footnote" href="#fn:7cc51f6b66bfca8235c8329effaccdef:2">2</a></sup> and the last week was definitely the most stressful and exhausting one I had in my entire life, but now I&rsquo;m <em>done.</em> There&rsquo;s no more school to go to, no more exams and no more courses to take.<sup class="footnote-ref" id="fnref:7cc51f6b66bfca8235c8329effaccdef:3"><a rel="footnote" href="#fn:7cc51f6b66bfca8235c8329effaccdef:3">3</a></sup></p> <p>The overwhelming feeling of completion is a very pleasant one. For the first time since March 2010 there is nothing hanging over my head. There are no papers to be finished, and no talks to be given. No students to teach. Hell, I might even comment out <a href="https://github.com/LaTeX-Box-Team/LaTeX-Box">LaTeX-Box</a> from my <code>.vimrc</code>.<sup class="footnote-ref" id="fnref:7cc51f6b66bfca8235c8329effaccdef:4"><a rel="footnote" href="#fn:7cc51f6b66bfca8235c8329effaccdef:4">4</a></sup> It feels <em>good.</em></p> <p>Completing the PhD was my dream, but at the same time it&rsquo;s the end of my adventure with academia. I reached my goals, and I don&rsquo;t intend to pursue further academic appointments. At the same time I stand by everything I wrote <a href="http://piotrkazmierczak.com/2011/in-defense-of-the-phd/">back in 2011</a>, and I don&rsquo;t feel there&rsquo;s any conflict between that and my current situation. Having to choose once more whether to embark on the PhD journey I wouldn&rsquo;t hesitate a second. I was given the opportunity to work on very interesting topics within theoretical computer science, formal logic and game theory, and most importantly I had the pleasure of meeting and working with fantastic people, many of which are now my good friends. If the price to pay for all that is a ~5-year setback to my non-academic career, it&rsquo;s a price I am very glad to pay.</p> <p>Last Monday I started a new job, joining a British cloud computing consultancy called <a href="http://cloudreach.co.uk">Cloudreach</a> as a systems engineer. It&rsquo;s all very, <em>very</em> different than academia, but in a good, fast-paced<sup class="footnote-ref" id="fnref:7cc51f6b66bfca8235c8329effaccdef:5"><a rel="footnote" href="#fn:7cc51f6b66bfca8235c8329effaccdef:5">5</a></sup> and exciting way.</p> <p>The future looks bright, as they say.</p> <p><small><em>(thanks for the photograph, Hege)</em></small></p> <div class="footnotes"> <hr /> <ol> <li id="fn:7cc51f6b66bfca8235c8329effaccdef:1">Technically I was &ldquo;recommended for the title&rdquo;, as in Norway PhD defenses do not include any graduation ceremony, and the official letter stating that I am indeed a doctor will be mailed to me soon. Still, there is nothing now that could happen to prevent the degree from being awarded. <a class="footnote-return" href="#fnref:7cc51f6b66bfca8235c8329effaccdef:1">↩</a></li> <li id="fn:7cc51f6b66bfca8235c8329effaccdef:2">I was about to write &ldquo;<em>hard</em> work,&rdquo; but let&rsquo;s face it, writing a PhD thesis, while not an easy task, ain&rsquo;t exactly coal mining. <a class="footnote-return" href="#fnref:7cc51f6b66bfca8235c8329effaccdef:2">↩</a></li> <li id="fn:7cc51f6b66bfca8235c8329effaccdef:3">Except for a driver&rsquo;s license course. <a class="footnote-return" href="#fnref:7cc51f6b66bfca8235c8329effaccdef:3">↩</a></li> <li id="fn:7cc51f6b66bfca8235c8329effaccdef:4">I <em>hate</em> LaTeX. And <a href="http://piotrkazmierczak.com/2014/stop-using-latex-switch-to-ms-word/">&ldquo;research&rdquo;</a> shows you should hate it, too. <a class="footnote-return" href="#fnref:7cc51f6b66bfca8235c8329effaccdef:4">↩</a></li> <li id="fn:7cc51f6b66bfca8235c8329effaccdef:5">Yes, industry works at a faster pace than academia, or at least the European academia (never been to a US campus, but I heard stories of what pre-tenure jobs in American universities are like), and everyone in my office seems to be working a lot, but as a newbie I&rsquo;m not exactly flooded with obligations or deadlines. I guess this will change soon. <a class="footnote-return" href="#fnref:7cc51f6b66bfca8235c8329effaccdef:5">↩</a></li> </ol> </div> Dell’s Project Sputnik: M3800 http://piotrkazmierczak.com/2015/dells-project-sputnik-m3800/ Sat, 07 Feb 2015 00:00:00 +0000 http://piotrkazmierczak.com/2015/dells-project-sputnik-m3800/ <p>Dell <a href="http://bartongeorge.net/2015/01/27/welcome-the-dell-precision-m3800-mobile-workstation-developer-edition/">announces</a> another in its series of &ldquo;developer laptops&rdquo; with Ubuntu pre-installed. This time it&rsquo;s the überpowerful M3800 mobile workstation, available with everything from an i7 CPU, through a Quadro K1100M graphics board to a 3840×2160 display. I remember <a href="http://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2013/04/it-just-works-dell-xps-13-developer-edition-linux-ultrabook-review/">ArsTechnica&rsquo;s review</a> of the XPS 13 developer edition, in which they basically said the best thing about the laptop was that it was &ldquo;unremarkable&rdquo;, which by today&rsquo;s standards is the best compliment. Dell managed to deliver a premium quality linux laptop that <em>just worked</em>, Cupertino style. If they manage to do the same with the powerful 15&rdquo; mobile workstation and, as they announce in the blogpost linked above, with the upcoming XPS 13&rdquo;, we&rsquo;ll have Linux-powered alternatives to both the Retina Macbook Pro and the Macbook Air. Which would be brilliant.</p> <p>You seem to be doing a great job, Dell.</p> <p><strong>update 01.01.2015:</strong> Andy Turfer has a review of this laptop <a href="http://turferm3800.blogspot.co.uk">on his blog</a>.</p> Dr. Karolina http://piotrkazmierczak.com/2015/dr.-karolina/ Wed, 04 Feb 2015 00:00:00 +0000 http://piotrkazmierczak.com/2015/dr.-karolina/ <p><img src="http://piotrkazmierczak.com/images/drkarolina.jpg" alt="" /> </p> <p>My girlfriend <a href="http://karolinakrzyzanowska.com">Karolina</a> defended her PhD on Monday, and shall be referred to as Dr. Karolina from now on. It was an excellent defense and you&rsquo;ve missed out if weren&rsquo;t there. You still can (and should) read her book, however. It&rsquo;s very good (and I&rsquo;m not biased) and <a href="http://karolinakrzyzanowska.com/pdfs/krzyzanowska-phd-final.pdf">available (for free!) on her website</a>.</p> Cheating in LetterPress http://piotrkazmierczak.com/2015/cheating-in-letterpress/ Thu, 22 Jan 2015 00:00:00 +0000 http://piotrkazmierczak.com/2015/cheating-in-letterpress/ <p>I&rsquo;ve been trying to hone some web-development skills the last few days, and yesterday evening I read about a particularly elegant Python microframework called <a href="http://flask.pocoo.org/">Flask</a>. I read the tutorial, did some stackoverflow searches and hacked a very simple (borderline trivial, actually) <a href="https://github.com/pkazmierczak/letterpresscheater">app</a> for cheating in <a href="http://www.atebits.com/letterpress/">LetterPress</a> in just a few hours. The code that runs the whole application is merely 50 lines long, and that&rsquo;s only because I&rsquo;m adhering to <a href="https://www.python.org/dev/peps/pep-0008/#blank-lines">PEP8</a>’s blank lines policies. Karolina contributed some CSS code and a logo, and we deployed it to <a href="http://heroku.com">Heroku</a> in a couple of minutes. As a web-development newbie I have to say I&rsquo;m amazed by how quickly and easily one can learn writing simple applications from scratch these days. And Heroku deployment can be done (for free!) by just one <code>git push</code>. Amazing stuff, especially if you remember coding PHP in 2004.</p> “Under the skin” http://piotrkazmierczak.com/2014/under-the-skin/ Wed, 31 Dec 2014 00:00:00 +0000 http://piotrkazmierczak.com/2014/under-the-skin/ <iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/NoSWbyvdhHw" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe> <p>In the spirit of 2014-summaries I&rsquo;d like to mention Jonathan Glazer&rsquo;s film &ldquo;Under the skin&rdquo;, which was definitely one of the best movies I&rsquo;ve seen this year, and one of the very best sci-fi movies I have ever seen. If you have some winter holidays now, rent it on iTunes or Amazon or something and watch it. It&rsquo;s very disturbing, but great.</p> <p>(Also I think it&rsquo;s a perfect example of that <a href="http://piotrkazmierczak.com/2014/12/30/the-rise-of-the-image-the-fall-of-the-word/"><em>new video</em> Mitchell Stephens talks about.</a>)</p> “The rise of the image, the fall of the word” http://piotrkazmierczak.com/2014/the-rise-of-the-image-the-fall-of-the-word/ Tue, 30 Dec 2014 00:00:00 +0000 http://piotrkazmierczak.com/2014/the-rise-of-the-image-the-fall-of-the-word/ <p>I&rsquo;ve been trying to read as many books as I can these Christmas holidays since I have plenty of free time and the weather outside is particularly cold,<sup class="footnote-ref" id="fnref:96011d08f7b752559f6a472f2c0d49b7:1"><a rel="footnote" href="#fn:96011d08f7b752559f6a472f2c0d49b7:1">1</a></sup> so another book that I&rsquo;ve read is Mitchell Stephens classic: &ldquo;The rise of the image, the fall of the word.&rdquo; It&rsquo;s obligatory reading for anyone studying journalism and new media these days, as it tries to argue for cultural significance of television, or specifically something that Stephens calls the <em>new video</em>. A very interesting book indeed, and although I don&rsquo;t quite agree with some opinions about montage and fast cutting, Stephens&rsquo; book is well worth reading if only for the very insightful analysis of history and significance of the written word, and then later development of film and video.</p> <p>But there&rsquo;s one other interesting thing about this book. The second edition was published in 1998, before the age of ubiquitous high-speed internet, YouTube, Netflix, the iPhone, the iPad, Snapchat, Vine and Instagram, and in the era when television was at its highest—in everyone&rsquo;s home and at the center of home entertainment. It is surprising to see how much things have changed within the last 16 years,<sup class="footnote-ref" id="fnref:96011d08f7b752559f6a472f2c0d49b7:2"><a rel="footnote" href="#fn:96011d08f7b752559f6a472f2c0d49b7:2">2</a></sup> and it is <em>astonishing</em> how accurate are the predictions about the future of video the author makes. Stephens basically predicted YouTube, Netflix, and the iPhone/iPad. He also somewhat predicted the rise in quality of original programming on television, which is what many now refer to as the “<a href="http://www.forbes.com/sites/jeffbercovici/2013/07/02/from-tony-soprano-to-matthew-weiner-the-difficult-men-of-the-great-tv-renaissance/">renaissance</a> <a href="http://www.reddit.com/r/television/comments/1ygkmw/what_tv_shows_started_this_new_renaissancegolden/">of TV</a>.” The only new, revolutionary technologies he didn&rsquo;t foresee were high-speed internet in our smartphones, and the Kindle-driven e-book revolution<sup class="footnote-ref" id="fnref:96011d08f7b752559f6a472f2c0d49b7:3"><a rel="footnote" href="#fn:96011d08f7b752559f6a472f2c0d49b7:3">3</a></sup> that delays the death of the word,<sup class="footnote-ref" id="fnref:96011d08f7b752559f6a472f2c0d49b7:4"><a rel="footnote" href="#fn:96011d08f7b752559f6a472f2c0d49b7:4">4</a></sup> but I guess nobody saw it coming. Stephens also mentioned that video games will become more mature and will evolve into something more than teenager entertainment, which is also happening, although at a pace slower than expected. It would be interesting to see if he&rsquo;d want to change anything in his book if it were to be written now, but I doubt that.</p> <p>Again, a recommendation. Read this book especially if you love books and hate TV.</p> <div class="footnotes"> <hr /> <ol> <li id="fn:96011d08f7b752559f6a472f2c0d49b7:1">Also, I&rsquo;ve been trying to win a bet with <a href="http://karolinakrzyzanowska.com">Karolina</a> (no luck so far I&rsquo;m afraid). <a class="footnote-return" href="#fnref:96011d08f7b752559f6a472f2c0d49b7:1">↩</a></li> <li id="fn:96011d08f7b752559f6a472f2c0d49b7:2">I&rsquo;m not an expert here, but I suppose it&rsquo;s even less than that. I&rsquo;d say things started happening really quickly once high-speed internet connectivity became a standard, once internet streaming services appeared (YouTube was created in 2005, Netflix and Hulu started offering video-on-demand streaming in 2007), and once the iPhone came out, so around 2005–2007. So then it&rsquo;s basically the last 7–9 years. <a class="footnote-return" href="#fnref:96011d08f7b752559f6a472f2c0d49b7:2">↩</a></li> <li id="fn:96011d08f7b752559f6a472f2c0d49b7:3">I wonder if there&rsquo;s any research behind the increased readership and e-book reader sales. Do Kindles increase it, or are they bought solely because they&rsquo;re an attractive gadget? <a class="footnote-return" href="#fnref:96011d08f7b752559f6a472f2c0d49b7:3">↩</a></li> <li id="fn:96011d08f7b752559f6a472f2c0d49b7:4">One could also point out that the internet itself fuels a lot of text creation, with its blogs (who knew there&rsquo;s gonna be so many bloggers in societies in which apparently nobody reads?), tweets, reddits, etc. <a class="footnote-return" href="#fnref:96011d08f7b752559f6a472f2c0d49b7:4">↩</a></li> </ol> </div> Stop using LaTeX, switch to MS Word http://piotrkazmierczak.com/2014/stop-using-latex-switch-to-ms-word/ Sun, 28 Dec 2014 00:00:00 +0000 http://piotrkazmierczak.com/2014/stop-using-latex-switch-to-ms-word/ <p>A <a href="http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0115069">hilarious article</a> appeared in PLOS ONE recently (thanks for the link, Pim). StackOverflow <a href="http://tex.stackexchange.com/questions/219576/does-latex-really-perform-worse-than-word">already made</a> some good comments, but here&rsquo;s my two pennies&rsquo; worth.</p> <p>While I find the study methodologically flawed<sup class="footnote-ref" id="fnref:3960c2d2f8976e6daf085121dea346f9:1"><a rel="footnote" href="#fn:3960c2d2f8976e6daf085121dea346f9:1">1</a></sup> and I have a strong dislike for MS Word for numerous (un)sentimental reasons, I cannot disagree with the fact that LaTeX <em>sucks</em>. It has a complex syntax (take a look at <a href="http://daringfireball.net/projects/markdown/">Markdown</a> or <a href="http://docutils.sourceforge.net/docs/user/rst/quickref.html">reStructuredText</a> for comparison), meaningless error messages, it comes as a ginormous zip file full of obsolete stuff and it&rsquo;s not exactly easy to customize (even installing new fonts is non-trivial). Yes, it has great syntax for mathematical symbols, very good output file quality by default and good default typographical settings, but it doesn&rsquo;t stop to amaze me that it&rsquo;s been around for so long and no one has come up with a better alternative.</p> <p>Well, I guess we should just embrace MS Word and stop wasting taxpayers&rsquo; money, as Markus Knauff and Jelica Nejasmic suggest.</p> <p><strong>update, Dec. 29th:</strong> Also, this:</p> <p><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>The Word vs. LaTex efficiency argument is in line with microwave food vs. actual cooking</p>&mdash; Michele Lanza (@lanzamichele) <a href="https://twitter.com/lanzamichele/status/548580140226469889">December 26, 2014</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script></p> <div class="footnotes"> <hr /> <ol> <li id="fn:3960c2d2f8976e6daf085121dea346f9:1">Copying an already written text is waay different than writing it from scratch, tables are notoriously LaTeX&rsquo;s weakest point, as is customizing <em>anything</em>, the article doesn&rsquo;t even touch upon the topic of editing long, complex documents, the list goes on&hellip; <a class="footnote-return" href="#fnref:3960c2d2f8976e6daf085121dea346f9:1">↩</a></li> </ol> </div> “Where the Conflict Really Lies” http://piotrkazmierczak.com/2014/where-the-conflict-really-lies/ Thu, 25 Dec 2014 00:00:00 +0000 http://piotrkazmierczak.com/2014/where-the-conflict-really-lies/ <p>Since it&rsquo;s Christmas, I feel it&rsquo;s only appropriate to share some thoughts about a book on philosophy of religion I recently read.</p> <p>Written by contemporary analytic philosophy&rsquo;s chief theist and protestant, <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alvin_Plantinga">Alvin Plantinga</a>, &ldquo;Where the Conflict Really Lies&rdquo; is a careful and systematic study of the (alleged) conflicts between science, naturalism and religion.<sup class="footnote-ref" id="fnref:472bb655bcd6125201d0135242649589:1"><a rel="footnote" href="#fn:472bb655bcd6125201d0135242649589:1">1</a></sup> As far as I am aware, this book is the only such comprehensive and earnest account of what <em>exactly</em> Christianity says about, e.g., theory of evolution and natural selection, among other controversial topics. I don&rsquo;t feel competent enough to argue about some points and original arguments Plantinga makes about naturalism, I think it&rsquo;s best I refer the interested reader to <a href="http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2012/sep/27/philosopher-defends-religion/">a long review by Thomas Nagel</a>, but at the same time I can wholeheartedly recommend Plantinga&rsquo;s book to atheists and theists alike—to the former, because it&rsquo;s good to know what you&rsquo;re fighting against, and to the latter, because it&rsquo;s good to know what it is <em>exactly</em> that you believe in. And it really is surprising to see how poorly researched are the many arguments made by scientific, militant atheists of Dawkins-kind. Actually, regardless of whether you agree with Plantinga&rsquo;s religious stance and his strongly theistic point of view, you have to give him credit for defending theism and Christianity in a strongly atheistic environment which analytic philosophy most definitely is. It really is a shame there&rsquo;s so few serious religious analytic philosophers.</p> <p>So, whether you want to feel stronger about your atheism or want to get better at fighting off those pesky atheist&rsquo;s attacks, read Plangina&rsquo;s book. What better time to do this than Christmas holidays?</p> <p>Merry Christmas everyone!</p> <div class="footnotes"> <hr /> <ol> <li id="fn:472bb655bcd6125201d0135242649589:1">Plantinga argues that his points are not Christianity-centric and can be applied to <em>theism</em> in general, although he stays away from &ldquo;indecisive deism&rdquo; or agnosticism. And he is himself a Christian, and can&rsquo;t speak for Muslims or Buddhists, or others. <a class="footnote-return" href="#fnref:472bb655bcd6125201d0135242649589:1">↩</a></li> </ol> </div> The Economist Espresso http://piotrkazmierczak.com/2014/the-economist-espresso/ Mon, 15 Dec 2014 00:00:00 +0000 http://piotrkazmierczak.com/2014/the-economist-espresso/ <p>In the era of amateur-written &ldquo;free&rdquo; news and the terrible decline of quality journalism, <a href="http://economist.com">The Economist&rsquo;s</a> new <a href="http://economist.com/espresso">Espresso app</a> is a real gem. It&rsquo;s an iOS/Android app which delivers a digest of news stories to your phone every morning, kind of like <a href="http://cir.ca">circa</a> or <a href="http://toolong-didntread.com">TL;DR</a>, but curated and written by The Economist&rsquo;s journalists. Top quality short stories with links to longer pieces in the magazine every now and then. <em>Fantastic.</em></p> <p>Now I know this sounds like a paid advertisement but no, The Economist doesn&rsquo;t pay me. In fact I pay them by subscribing to their magazine knowing very well I will never be able to read all the contents every week. Yeah, I&rsquo;m one of those snobs, but I like to think it&rsquo;s a relatively easy way of supporting good journalism, which is dying out these days. And if you think about it for a second, it&rsquo;s not really expensive. Digital subscription to The Economist costs €47 for 12 issues (how much are you paying for your mobile phone subscription again? €30/month? €50?). The New Yorker&rsquo;s digital subscription costs $60/year, so, ~€48.</p> <p>Food for thought.</p> ‘I went to jail for my cause. What did you do?’ http://piotrkazmierczak.com/2014/i-went-to-jail-for-my-cause.-what-did-you-do/ Thu, 11 Dec 2014 00:00:00 +0000 http://piotrkazmierczak.com/2014/i-went-to-jail-for-my-cause.-what-did-you-do/ <p>Peter Sunde <a href="http://www.wired.co.uk/news/archive/2014-12/11/peter-sunde">writes a guest post</a> for Wired:</p> <blockquote> <p>Only a few activists left are actually doing things. We&rsquo;re way underfunded, we&rsquo;re getting older and we&rsquo;re getting lazy. We&rsquo;re trying to work smart while still having a family life, managing our lives with boy- and/or girlfriends, thinking about careers.</p> </blockquote> <p>A sad piece in which one of <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Pirate_Bay">The Pirate Bay&rsquo;s</a> founders shares his disheartened view on the status of Internet-related legislation and general public&rsquo;s indifference on the subject.<sup class="footnote-ref" id="fnref:45c1449666a60628e894af5c4ffb18e6:1"><a rel="footnote" href="#fn:45c1449666a60628e894af5c4ffb18e6:1">1</a></sup></p> <p>The sad part is that it all boils down to convenience. In the world of cheap Netflix, HBO, Spotify, Rdio and others, taking the time (and possibly risk) to download torrents just doesn&rsquo;t make that much sense.<sup class="footnote-ref" id="fnref:45c1449666a60628e894af5c4ffb18e6:2"><a rel="footnote" href="#fn:45c1449666a60628e894af5c4ffb18e6:2">2</a></sup> I don&rsquo;t really have any statistics to back this up, but I observe the same trend amongst desktop linux users/contributors. When I installed linux for the first time on my desktop computer (late 1998, SuSE 6.0), the alternative was the buggy and ugly Windows 98, or the insanely expensive and also buggy MacOS 8. Now lots of developers switch to OS X, with its UNIX-based environment and excellent hardware, or even to Windows, which, beginning with XP I believe, became stable, fast and relatively fuss-free. There&rsquo;s simply no need for linux on the desktop, because it&rsquo;s trying to solve a problem that isn&rsquo;t there. I&rsquo;m afraid it&rsquo;s the same with The Pirate Bay.</p> <div class="footnotes"> <hr /> <ol> <li id="fn:45c1449666a60628e894af5c4ffb18e6:1">I kinda like Sunde, and sort-of sympathize with his cause(s), but I feel like what The Pirate Bay crew tried to stand for in recent years isn&rsquo;t exactly the same what it represented in the beginning. I feel perfectly fine with using PGP to encrypt my emails, running linux on my home media server, using open formats for documents, supporting government transparency and openness, and yet being opposed to the illegal downloading of TV shows using p2p networks. The fact that people stopped caring that much about The Pirate Bay doesn&rsquo;t necessarily entail they no longer care about other aspects of <em>Internet freedom</em>. <a class="footnote-return" href="#fnref:45c1449666a60628e894af5c4ffb18e6:1">↩</a></li> <li id="fn:45c1449666a60628e894af5c4ffb18e6:2">That is, unless you&rsquo;re one of those unlucky millions that don&rsquo;t have access to these services. Remember that Netflix, Internet&rsquo;s biggest on-demand video-streaming provider, is available in only 40 countries, excluding such big and potentially lucrative markets as, e.g., Australia &amp; New Zealand. Spotify&rsquo;s slightly better, being available in 59 countries. <a class="footnote-return" href="#fnref:45c1449666a60628e894af5c4ffb18e6:2">↩</a></li> </ol> </div> Shaka, When the Walls Fell http://piotrkazmierczak.com/2014/shaka-when-the-walls-fell/ Sun, 28 Sep 2014 00:00:00 +0000 http://piotrkazmierczak.com/2014/shaka-when-the-walls-fell/ <p>Ian Bogost writes about a famous Star Trek TNG episode:</p> <blockquote> <p>On stardate 45047.2, Jean-Luc Picard leads the crew of the Enterprise in pursuit of a transmission beacon from the El-Adrel system, where a Tamarian vessel has been broadcasting a mathematical signal for weeks. The aliens, also known as the Children of Tama, are an apparently peaceable and technologically advanced race with which the Federation nevertheless has failed to forge diplomatic relations. The obstacle, as Commander Data puts it: &ldquo;communication was not possible.&rdquo;</p> </blockquote> <p>The funniest thing about this particular episode is how polarized opinions about it are. <a href="http://en.memory-alpha.org/wiki/Darmok_%28episode%29">&ldquo;Darmok&rdquo;</a> is by far the most controversial of all <abbr title="Star Trek: The Next Generation">TNG</abbr> episodes. While (as Bogost points out) the episode touches upon the very essence of Star Trek and Gene Rodenberry&rsquo;s vision of utopian human future, most controversy that surrounds it concerns how&hellip; <em>unserious</em> it is. I think this might be the only TNG episode that I felt slightly uncomfortable watching, because of how silly it felt.</p> <p>But Bogost&rsquo;s piece reminded me of a book I read some time ago, which touches upon the issue of understanding vs. comprehension, the nature of intelligence (yes, there&rsquo;s even a discussion about Searle&rsquo;s <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_room">Chinese Room</a> in there) and difficulties of &ldquo;first contact&rdquo; in a much more intellectually demanding yet satisfying way. This book is Peter Watts&rsquo; <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blindsight_(Watts_novel">&ldquo;Blindsight&rdquo;</a>). While I don&rsquo;t agree with many of the points the author makes throughout the novel, I can&rsquo;t think of a better &ldquo;hard sci-fi&rdquo; that I&rsquo;ve read in a long, long time. &ldquo;Blindsight&rdquo; most definitely isn&rsquo;t an easy read, but if you like good old science-fiction that really tries to do science justice and packs loads of facts, you won&rsquo;t be disappointed. Oh and best of all, the novel is available online for free (CC license).</p> Spotify, Pandora and how streaming music kills jazz and classical http://piotrkazmierczak.com/2014/spotify-pandora-and-how-streaming-music-kills-jazz-and-classical/ Sat, 26 Jul 2014 00:00:00 +0000 http://piotrkazmierczak.com/2014/spotify-pandora-and-how-streaming-music-kills-jazz-and-classical/ <blockquote> <p>&ldquo;All of my colleagues — composers and arrangers — are seeing huge cuts in their earnings,&rdquo; says Paul Chihara, a veteran composer who until recently headed UCLA&rsquo;s film-music program. &ldquo;In effect, we&rsquo;re not getting royalties. It&rsquo;s almost amusing some of the royalty checks I get.&rdquo; One of the last checks he got was for $29. &ldquo;And it bounced.&rdquo;</p> </blockquote> <p><a href="http://www.salon.com/2014/07/20/its_not_just_david_byrne_and_radiohead_spotify_pandora_and_how_streaming_music_kills_jazz_and_classical/">Scott Timberg writes</a> about how the recent rise of streaming services like Spotify, Rdio or Pandora affects royalties in the world of niche music. It&rsquo;s sad, but not unexpected. However, at least in Europe a jazz/classical music enthusiast observes a growing number of websites that sell uncompressed audio files from small labels. There&rsquo;s the German <a href="http://www.highresaudio.com/">Highresaudio</a> and the Norwegian <a href="http://www.gubemusic.com/">Gubemusic</a>, and both these services have a pretty big catalogue (at least compared to the American <a href="http://www.hdtracks.com/">HDTracks</a>).<sup class="footnote-ref" id="fnref:0f39d53642e42776e53213228b6dd200:1"><a rel="footnote" href="#fn:0f39d53642e42776e53213228b6dd200:1">1</a></sup> They are also both targeting the narrow group of listeners, and their catalogues contain mostly jazz and classical music. Which brings us to the second quote from the article:</p> <blockquote> <p>Here’s a good place to start: Say you’re looking for a bedrock recording, the Beethoven Piano Concertos, with titan Maurizio Pollini on piano. Who is the “artist” for this one? Is it the Berlin Philharmonic, or Claudio Abbado, who conducts them? Is it Pollini? Or is it Beethoven himself? If you can see the entire record jacket, you can see who the recording includes. Otherwise, you could find yourself guessing.</p> </blockquote> <p>My question is: why hasn&rsquo;t anyone figured this out yet? It&rsquo;s an at-least-decent business idea, and there&rsquo;s a consumer group that can be easily targeted. Jazz fans complain about Spotify&rsquo;s lack of content all the time. They also tend to be affluent (or pose as such, or are willing to spend more money on music), so you can charge them more. And they&rsquo;re often suffering from <em>audiophiliac</em> illness.</p> <p>Create an <em>elite</em>, expensive streaming service for jazz and classical lovers. <strong>Take our money!</strong></p> <div class="footnotes"> <hr /> <ol> <li id="fn:0f39d53642e42776e53213228b6dd200:1">Yes, I know high-res downloads <a href="http://xiph.org/~xiphmont/demo/neil-young.html">make no sense</a>. I don&rsquo;t care. I only care that it&rsquo;s lossless and that they have albums others don&rsquo;t. <a class="footnote-return" href="#fnref:0f39d53642e42776e53213228b6dd200:1">↩</a></li> </ol> </div> Jazz icon Charlie Haden dies at 76 http://piotrkazmierczak.com/2014/jazz-icon-charlie-haden-dies-at-76/ Sat, 12 Jul 2014 00:00:00 +0000 http://piotrkazmierczak.com/2014/jazz-icon-charlie-haden-dies-at-76/ <p>I am very sad to read that Charlie Haden <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/music/2014/jul/12/jazz-icon-charlie-haden-dies-at-76">died last Friday</a>.<sup class="footnote-ref" id="fnref:dbfa587d66eecc812fc793f89580c07e:1"><a rel="footnote" href="#fn:dbfa587d66eecc812fc793f89580c07e:1">1</a></sup> He was one of the first jazz musicians I ever heard about, when my dad bought the now legendary <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beyond_the_Missouri_Sky_%28Short_Stories%29">&ldquo;Beyond the Missouri Sky&rdquo;</a> (Verve 1997) record, and I immediately fell in love with his great bass lines and compositions. Then I learned about Charlie Haden&rsquo;s history with Ornette, and I also realized he played with Keith Jarrett&rsquo;s quartet in the 70s. A versatile, curious musician who always enriched any jazz album he appeared on with his lyrical bass lines. His death is a terrible loss. Seems sadly prophetic that his latest duo album with Jarrett is titled <a href="http://www.ecmrecords.com/Catalogue/ECM/2300/2399.php?cat=%2FLabels%2FECM&amp;amp;we_start=0&amp;amp;lvredir=712">&ldquo;Last Dance&rdquo;</a> (ECM 2014).</p> <p>Below are a couple of my favorite tracks by Charlie Haden or with him as a sideman. Listen and admire.</p> <iframe src="https://embed.spotify.com/?uri=spotify:user:pkazmierczak:playlist:3lUZ37foSjnb4pQQ3CH4Kw" width="500" height="330" frameborder="0" allowtransparency="true"></iframe> <div class="footnotes"> <hr /> <ol> <li id="fn:dbfa587d66eecc812fc793f89580c07e:1">Not a long time ago Paco de Lucia passed away. Seems 2014 is a very bad year for jazz music. <a class="footnote-return" href="#fnref:dbfa587d66eecc812fc793f89580c07e:1">↩</a></li> </ol> </div> “Speed” and “aerodynamics” http://piotrkazmierczak.com/2014/speed-and-aerodynamics/ Sat, 14 Jun 2014 00:00:00 +0000 http://piotrkazmierczak.com/2014/speed-and-aerodynamics/ <p><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>Companies selling &quot;speed&quot; and &quot;aerodynamics&quot; to dudes who only ride on the weekends, rather than selling them an experience.</p>&mdash; John Watson (@JohnProlly) <a href="https://twitter.com/JohnProlly/statuses/476173495353618432">June 10, 2014</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script></p> <p>I used to laugh at people paying $7k for bicycles with handmade steel frames and all the hype that surrounded the whole <a href="http://2014.handmadebicycleshow.com">NAHBS</a> community. After some months of reading <abbr>PinP</abbr> aka <a href="http://theradavist.com">The Radavist</a>, however, I&rsquo;ve changed my mind completely.</p> <p>Modern competitive cycling is, to me, completely uninteresting sport. I don&rsquo;t watch the big races, I don&rsquo;t care about the pros.<sup class="footnote-ref" id="fnref:484defb4530c866a965fffea7a620fce:1"><a rel="footnote" href="#fn:484defb4530c866a965fffea7a620fce:1">1</a></sup> Doping is so prevalent that following these events makes no sense to me, and in the same way I don&rsquo;t give a shit about carbon frames designed in wind tunnels. What John Watson&rsquo;s community represents is the opposite: yes, it&rsquo;s nice to crush <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/King_of_the_Mountains">KOM</a>s<sup class="footnote-ref" id="fnref:484defb4530c866a965fffea7a620fce:2"><a rel="footnote" href="#fn:484defb4530c866a965fffea7a620fce:2">2</a></sup> and go <a href="http://www.velominati.com/the-rules/#10">as fast as you can</a>, but that&rsquo;s not why we ride. We ride, because riding a bike is <em>rad</em>, because the experience of being outdoors in beautiful mountains is fantastic, and because riding a bike is part of our lifestyle—we <em>love</em> bikes. And yes, if I&rsquo;m to choose between a Taiwan-made carbon frame wind-tunnel-developed bike from one of the major manufacturers versus a steel frame bicycle US/UK-made by guys who <em>love</em> the work, I&rsquo;m gonna pay those guys, and I&rsquo;m gonna pay them more than I should. And I&rsquo;m still gonna be faster uphill than the 50+ overweight fellas on their Pinarello Dogma bikes.</p> <div class="footnotes"> <hr /> <ol> <li id="fn:484defb4530c866a965fffea7a620fce:1">Except for <a href="http://www.majawloszczowska.pl">Maja</a>. Maja is awesome. <a class="footnote-return" href="#fnref:484defb4530c866a965fffea7a620fce:1">↩</a></li> <li id="fn:484defb4530c866a965fffea7a620fce:2">Though even Strava says that riding is <a href="http://blog.strava.com/strava-instagram-5584/">not only about KOMs</a>. <a class="footnote-return" href="#fnref:484defb4530c866a965fffea7a620fce:2">↩</a></li> </ol> </div> Strava’s Cycling App Is Helping Cities Build Better Bike Lanes http://piotrkazmierczak.com/2014/stravas-cycling-app-is-helping-cities-build-better-bike-lanes/ Fri, 06 Jun 2014 00:00:00 +0000 http://piotrkazmierczak.com/2014/stravas-cycling-app-is-helping-cities-build-better-bike-lanes/ <p><a href="http://www.wired.com/2014/06/strava-sells-cycling-data/" class="link">Wired:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Current methods of counting cyclists take a ton of time or a ton of money. The DOT can videotape traffic and have someone sit at a monitor and count cyclists, or it can send someone to sit on the sidewalk and watch them go by in real time. Neither method is terribly efficient.</p> </blockquote> <p>You&rsquo;d think that the problem of building cycling lanes is a simple one, right? Well, it&rsquo;s not. Apparently most cities struggle with obtaining data; no one really knows where and how many cyclists ride, and the only method available until now was installing bike counters, but these are expensive and measure bicycle traffic only at fixed points. So now, apparently, you can buy data from Strava, and this is brilliant.<sup class="footnote-ref" id="fnref:7767aee27d0881e858a49a44ca0f6a36:1"><a rel="footnote" href="#fn:7767aee27d0881e858a49a44ca0f6a36:1">1</a></sup></p> <p>Strava is my favorite sport-tracking service (I wrote about it <a href="http://piotrkazmierczak.com/2012/03/03/i-ride-because-im-angry-at-other-people/">before</a>), and it&rsquo;s found a new and somewhat surprising source of revenue – selling &ldquo;heatmaps&rdquo; to cities.<sup class="footnote-ref" id="fnref:7767aee27d0881e858a49a44ca0f6a36:2"><a rel="footnote" href="#fn:7767aee27d0881e858a49a44ca0f6a36:2">2</a></sup> Heatmaps are created by analyzing publicly available GPS data from users&rsquo; rides and mapping them to frequency. For example, this is a heatmap for Bergen:</p> <p><a href="http://labs.strava.com/heatmap/#13/5.30730/60.38387/gray/bike"><img src="http://piotrkazmierczak.com/images/strava-heatmap.png" /></a></p> <p>Some say that Strava isn&rsquo;t popular amongst commuters, and that it&rsquo;s mainly used by people who treat cycling as sport, and not just a mean of transportation, but as is clearly visible on the screenshot above, racers need to get through town just like anyone else; I&rsquo;d conjecture they need to do this even more often than others.</p> <p>Anyways, I just wanted to point everyone&rsquo;s attention to the Wired article, because:</p> <ul> <li>it&rsquo;s very good and you should read it;</li> <li>I envy Strava the brilliant idea of &ldquo;heatmaps&rdquo;;</li> <li>it makes me wanna seriously consider a career as a <a href="http://automattic.com/work-with-us/data-wrangler/">Data Wrangler</a>.</li> </ul> <div class="footnotes"> <hr /> <ol> <li id="fn:7767aee27d0881e858a49a44ca0f6a36:1">Cheap, too. Only $20000/year. <a class="footnote-return" href="#fnref:7767aee27d0881e858a49a44ca0f6a36:1">↩</a></li> <li id="fn:7767aee27d0881e858a49a44ca0f6a36:2">Some people get upset with <a href="http://www.strava.com">Strava</a> selling &ldquo;their&rdquo; data, but they don&rsquo;t realize the data is anonymized completely, very useful, and publicly available anyway. <a class="footnote-return" href="#fnref:7767aee27d0881e858a49a44ca0f6a36:2">↩</a></li> </ol> </div>