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2016.12.02

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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2009.05.16

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.

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2008.10.16

Missing the Point

A number of Greek web sites offer for download a very strange Excel form.

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2007.05.23

Decyphering Modern Texts

One would think that the decyphering of old writings would be the domain of archeologists poring over ancient palimpsests. It turns out that, thanks to modern technology, the quality of documents written only a decade ago can decay to the point of requiring decypherment. And don't get me started on the problems of digital preservation and the decay of URLs.

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2007.05.02

Of Wine and Software

Today, following the yearly IEEE Software board meeting, 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 oak barrels.

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2006.12.21

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.

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2006.11.28

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.

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2006.07.11

Boot Lock

I first admired this ingenious method of locking a car in Rowan Atkinson's Mr. Bean series. A few days ago I saw it in real life.

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2006.05.24

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.

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2006.02.22

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.

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2005.12.19

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.

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2005.09.15

Information Kiosk

The inclined panel is indeed a computer screen, and, of course, it is not working. Another, more reliable, technology has prevailed.

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2005.09.05

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 psychology textbook.

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2005.05.19

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.

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2005.04.09

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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2005.03.14

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.

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2004.10.16

A Toddler Discovers Globalization

A toddler decided to explore and uncover the production chain behind his touch-and-feel book.

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2004.01.20

Writing, GUIs, and 4000 Years of Progress

The images speak for themselves.

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2003.07.12

An Interesting Remote Control

The garage remote control at the place where I work is really interesting.

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Unless otherwise expressly stated, all original material on this page created by Diomidis Spinellis is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Greece License.