Computer vs Human 0-1
Earlier today the Athens State Orchestra played the Symphony No. 3 in C minor, Op. 78 by Camille Saint-Saens, which is also known as the Organ Symphony. The French organist and composer Thierry Escaich was supposed to play the organ. There was a slight delay at the beginning: a lady appeared on stage and explained that there were technical problems with the organ's "brain".
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A Bug Creates Art
Sometimes beautiful images are generated serendipitously;
think of snowflakes or Lissajous curves.
Today I got one when I encoded an animation of the back dials of my
Antikythera mechanism emulator
with the CamStudio lossless codec (v1.4).
When I played back the movie with the VLC media player (v0.9.9)
a bug in the player (or the codec or the video driver) gave me a black
background and a series of overlaid images with the stark colors of the gears.
I think the bug is related to the alpha channel, which I use for
partially obscuring the gears behind the translucent dial face.
I found the result eerily beautiful.
Continue reading "A Bug Creates Art"
Missing the Point
A number of Greek web sites offer for download a very strange Excel form.
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Decyphering Modern Texts
One would think that the decyphering of old writings would be the domain
of archeologists poring over ancient
It turns out that, thanks to modern technology, the quality of
documents written only a decade ago can decay to the point of
And don't get me started on the problems of
digital preservation and the
decay of URLs.
Continue reading "Decyphering Modern Texts"
Of Wine and Software
Today, following the yearly IEEE Software
we visited the Casa Valduga winery near Bento Gonçalves at Rio Grande do Sul.
The guide told us that the winery nowadays made all its
wine in stainless steel vats, which have largely replaced the traditional
Continue reading "Of Wine and Software"
The Escape of a Small Program
C. A. R. Hoare's
Law of Large Programs states that
inside every large program is a small program struggling to get out.
The parking receipt I got yesterday returning from a
SQO-OSS meeting proves this fact.
Continue reading "The Escape of a Small Program"
Internet Explorer's Cleaner Look
Today the Microsoft update on my Windows machine asked me to upgrade
the Internet Explorer to version 7.0.
My bank refuses to work with any browser other than IE,
so, although I'm using SeaMonkey
as my everyday browser, I'm also forced to keep a current copy of IE.
The installation's banner reinforced some of the fears I have
regarding Microsoft's technical prowess.
Continue reading "Internet Explorer's Cleaner Look"
I first admired this ingenious method of locking a car in
Mr. Bean series.
A few days ago I saw it in real life.
Continue reading "Boot Lock"
Security is a Problem of the Weakest Link
While attending the ICSE 2006 conference I stayed at the Tong Mao hotel.
My room featured an impressive-looking safe:
thick steel, two bolts, and a digital lock.
Continue reading "Security is a Problem of the Weakest Link"
Management Support Technologies
My academic title contains the words management support technologies.
I therefore considered the new and efficient document
management and dispatch system I saw in use at my health insurance provider
a rare gem, worthy of inclusion in this blog.
Continue reading "Management Support Technologies"
Who Will Edit the Editors?
I am often asked to review papers that are written in a language
only superficially resembling English.
In a few cases the writing is so confused that I return the
manuscript, asking for it to be edited by a native speaker of English.
I realize that writing proper English is an additional
hurdle for, possibly brilliant, scientists who are not
native speakers of English, and
I often wondered how authors could address this problem.
Apparently, there are companies that will edit scientific papers
for a modest fee.
Continue reading "Who Will Edit the Editors?"
The inclined panel is indeed a computer screen,
and, of course, it is not working.
Another, more reliable, technology has prevailed.
Continue reading "Information Kiosk"
Preparing for the Exams
The (retake) exam period has started.
At the metro the passenger sitting opposite me is obviously a student
frantically sorting the cards containing a 6%-reduced photocopy of her forensic
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Cats and Cigarette Lighters
On April 14th, the US Transportation Security Administration
started enforcing a new ban on cigarette lighters.
A month later,
I saw the corresponding announcement posted on a check-in desk
at the Samos international airport.
At the same airport I also saw a free-roaming cat getting its food delivered
directly on the tarmac.
I entered my flight feeling a lot safer.
Continue reading "Cats and Cigarette Lighters"
Vatican's Prescient Web Masters
The Vacancy of the Apostolic See web page appears to have been prepared one day BEFORE the Pope's death.
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A Plea for Usability Design in Children's Electronic Toys
I am not particularly fond of children's electronic toys,
but they constantly arrive at home as presents,
and they also attract the children's attention.
Unfortunately, the usability aspects of most electronic toys for toddlers
and children appear to be ignoring important and well-established
principles of user interface design.
Continue reading "A Plea for Usability Design in Children's Electronic Toys"
A Toddler Discovers Globalization
A toddler decided to explore and uncover
the production chain behind his touch-and-feel book.
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Writing, GUIs, and 4000 Years of Progress
The images speak for themselves.
Continue reading "Writing, GUIs, and 4000 Years of Progress"
An Interesting Remote Control
The garage remote control at the place where I work is really
Continue reading "An Interesting Remote Control"