Category Archives: personal

Happy Birthday To Me

I turn 34 ugly ones today. I’m a year shy from being middle-aged. Damn.

How I spent this glorious day? In the morning I attended an Aikido practice conducted by Bruno Gonzalez (5.dan Aikikai) which with the practice from last night left me quite well-done. Since Helsinki is having an annual serial arts festival I felt it my duty to at least go and take a look at it.

I was too tired to get interested in any of it. I bought me some comics and headed up to coffee and some light shopping. I bought myself a DVD box of the Black Books -series, one of the funniest comedies ever. Then I came home, got me some chinese take away and watched two movies. Now I’m off to bed. Fascinating, isn’t it?

The Dark Night

I went to see the new Batman movie, enticingly named close to one of the modern classics of serial arts (The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Returns respectively). I didn’t like the movie. I didn’t have much anticipation for it so I don’t think I was let down in anyway.

I’m left wondering WHY I didn’t like the film. There was nothing wrong with the film. It wasn’t bland. It wasn’t boring or alienating. An idea of an explanation came to me later. The film was somehow malignant, there was something deeply black about it. The film was in short depressing. There was something about the worldview of the film that rubbed me the wrong way, but my analysis stops there. I’m not interested in digging deeper into why that is. I can only suggest you to go and see the film itself.

It’s a very rare occasion when a film or any other kind of piece of art has almost a physical effect on me. Supposedly it happening verifies that I’m still alive?

An Objective (and Authoritative) Comparison of Digg, Reddit and Slashdot

DISCLAIMER: I’m a long-time reader of Slashdot but am not registered. I’ve been reading Reddit for a bit over a year and I’ve been a registered user for a few months. I’ve been reading Digg almost since it’s inception and registered used pretty much the same time. Nowadays I frequent to Digg less and less often.

Digg, Reddit and Slashdot are websites that carry links to “stuff that matters”, “whats new on-line” and stuff. They also contain discussions on those links and the material behind them. They have distinct approaches to this same idea and I’ll compare them from my personal and objective perspective.

Slashdot is a venerable nerd-site. The discussion on Slashdot is by far the best of the three. There really isn’t a subject that half-a-million nerds couldn’t empty. There is always someone who has worked on the issue for 20 years or was the student of the person in question or lives next-door to that spammer in the article. The discussion is infact so good that I rarely read the actual articles themselves. This is so common that is in fact a running joke among slashdotters. “I didn’t RTFM” is probably the most common excuse for quick replies.

Reddit is the newest addition to my regularly visited sites. Everyone can post links to it and vote on those links. The highest voted (and popular) links get to the main page. The stuff on Reddit is fast to renew itself and the discussion is second of the lot. The comments are mostly short and endless pun-threads litter almost any discussion. There is a notable drop in the level of the discussion in the past few months (and some say in the past few years).

Digg was probably one of the first “submit your own story and vote them yourself” -websites. It is also the one with the lousiest discussions, containing mostly just one-liners and (dis)agreement with the subject without anything substantial to add.

Slashdots commenting system is probably the most complex having moderation and meta-moderation allowing you to moderate other peoples moderation. All the comments have a rating from -1 to +5 in several categories, containing funny, insightful and troll. It is probably thanks to this long-evolved system that keeps the level of discussion so good. Uninteresting stuff quickly falls out of radar for most people, although all the comments are readable to anyone so wishing. Well-scoring comments gives you karma, which can be used to moderate other peoples comments. Also the range of -1 to +5 easily gives you an idea of how good the comment is according to the masses. Reddits and Diggs commenting systems’ allows the comments to have much bigger values in both direction, which can be confusing since the score depends greatly on the popularity of the discussion-thread itself. Also the qualitative moderation of Slashdot gives you a quick idea what the comment is like. This means that people make the effort of keeping the funny comments apart from the insightful ones.

You can post your stories to Slashdot but they have a bunch of half-illiterate editors making the pick. This means that the blurps that accompany the posted links often contain a number of typos (obvious ones too), mis-guiding wording and all the bad argumentation you can read. Diggs and Reddits article submissions contain only one link and in Reddit the text of the link is all the submitter can submit with the link itself. In Digg in addition, there is a short description too. This doesn’t keep Digg or Reddit free from mis-guiding wording or submitters from taking some liberties with naming those link-texts. It is indeed a skill of its own to come up with a good, concise link-texts. At least in Reddit, same links often get submitted with different texts and usually just one makes it to the first page.

There being a layer of editors in Slashdot keeps it mostly free from some of the stuff that burdens Digg and Reddit. There is usually at least 5 links to pictures on the front page of Digg and Reddit and while some of them are fun and even interesting, they can be rather boring and the discussions about them mostly aren’t interesting in any way. There is also certain pictures that come up every now and then.

There is certain USA-centricity to all the sites mentioned. This is probably most pronounced in Reddit where the realization that petrol costs $4 per gallon has produced endless links to articles explaining why this is, why it’s going to get better/worse, how it was in the seventies, what alternatives there are for petrol-running cars and so on. Politics is one clear example of this, which shows in Slashdot and Reddit. I am probably more aware of the political situation in USA than I am of Finland because of this.

Personally, my preference of this sites goes in reversed order of the headline. Slashdots discussions gives me such a well-rounded and thorough handling of subjects that I think is practical, thanks to its long history, it also sports a number of nerd-luminaries in its users. Reddit provides light-entertainment and sometimes gold-nuggets worth keeping. Digg is usually good for checking out if you’re bored and exhausted all the other options.

When You have a Week to Spare on Low Budget and Lousy Finnish Weather

Greetings from the finnish backwaters. I’m currently spending first half of my summer leave in the Savo region, in the north-eastern part of Finland. So far most of my trip has been according to my plans, apart from the weather-malfunction which is always something you shouldn’t bet around these parts anyway. I have cycled two 60km trips and seen my first ever traditional, finnish summer theater plays.

The play was everything I expected, set in a nostalgic rural setting, in the 50’s with some romantic interests and general hope flying around, with some light entertainment in the form of some swearing and rude sayings. I’ve also painted a shed, demolished some wall and heard unruly stories about life in the finnish countryside. It took a bit of leg-work but finally I found a spot with some wifi so I could deliver this fascinating piece of summery information.

The Social Rebel, Me

Last Saturday I was sitting in a cafe, reading a book, when a person addressed me. She asked me if I it was absolutely necessary for me to be barefooted in a place where people are eating.  I said:”Probably not.” She then proceeded to ask me to sit further away (I did) so she could eat. After that she left to get her supper while making the kinds of sounds appalled people do.

I was naturally taken a-back for causing such disharmony. I don’t particularly feel I’ve done something wrong being barefooted in a place where people eat, although I admit it might have stretched the limits of acceptable appearance. This caused me to think if there were any similar hung-ups I might myself have i.e. being upset enough for someone else for violating a (possibly outdated) social norm that I would say it out loud.

I found at least one such instance. I find myself strangely appalled by people (mostly women) for wearing those big sunglasses that make you look like a fly. Part of my dislike is not having sufficient kind of (eye-)contact with such people, often even the eyebrows are covered. Now, there’s an objective element here. As a cyclist, part of my survival tactic is to know when someone else has noticed me. If they don’t appeared to (whether they have for real or not)  I have to react myself. That’s passing the responsibility to somebody else. It happens much too often anyways.

If I’d run into an acquaintance and having a conversation with them while they had those kinds of glasses on I’d have no choice but to exclaim my dislike for the violation of giving-proper-human-feedback -principle by staring at their tits.

The Reason Al Gore Invented the Internet

Is Ronald Jenkees. He’s a self-taught musician who uses lot of improvisation. And he’s full of Win. The way he obviously enjoys making his music, the way he’s music sounds and he’s obvious gargantuan talent just won me over in mere minutes. I am buying his CD. He’s appearance is the complete opposite of what you’d expect from a main-stream musician which pretty much works out to underline his talent.

Check out his YouTube channel and his record-store for sound bites from his album.

“There is always a last time for everything.”

Arthur C. Clarke died today 19. March 2008 at the age of 90. 8´-(

ACC was one of my favourite authors. Hes books filled me with hope when I had no evidence whatsoever that things would ever get better. But I also love his prose. It is a joy to read, to which I have seldomly ran into before or after. As a personality he was encouraging, he convinced me that this was a good time to be alive, to see the future happen infront of our eyes.

If you wish to have your conscience expanded try these books by him:

  • Rendezvous with Rama (1972) (suom. Uhka avaruudesta*)
  • The Songs of Distant Earth (1986) (suom. Kaukaisen maan laulut)
  • The Fountains of Paradise (1979) (suom. Paratiisin suihkulähteet)
  • Childhood’s End (1953) (suom. Lapsuuden loppu)

Clarke told in an essay of his (The Memoirs of an Armchair Astronaut (Retired) (1993?)(suom.Nojatuoliastronautin (evp.) muistelmat)) about an encounter he had with J.R.R.Tolkien. ACC was a member of the British Interplanetary Society since the 1930’s. BIS were a fierce advocate of space exploration. Note that this was decades before we even scratched the earth orbit.

The members of the British Interplanetary Society and two opponents of extra-planetary research C.S.Lewis and J.R.R.Tolkien had a discussion about the meaningfullness of space exploration, Lewis and Tolkien were vehemently opposed to the idea, claiming that it was madness to ruin this planet and then run off to ruin others. The two sides never reached an agreement and after the discussion Tolkien told Clarke that he was absolutely convinced that he (Clarke) was an evil person, but it would be extremely boring if everyone was good. Parahprased from memory.

(*) I know, it’s a terrible translation.

<o Good night, Sir!

1st Month in Helsinki

I am still very much in the process of getting my life together. I have all of my earthly belongings with me now, which is important for nostalgics. I still don’t have a net-access at home, so I am writing this at a coffee shop. I had to come all the way to the centre to find one that was open on a Sunday and with a WLAN.

My only furniture at the moment is my sofa which doubles as a bed and a small table I made myself close to 20 years ago. I have practically no cash, but luck has it that I have a credit card, issued by my employer. I struggled this log without plastic money. I have yet to restart my Aikido practice, but it’s not for lack of dedicated clubs.

My short term plans are to buy a desk, a new harddrive and something of a bookstand. I have scores of plastic bags filled with books lying around. I also need a valuecard to be able to take advantage of the complementary washing machine in our building. The weather is nothing but wintery.  I blame pirates. I have seen Katja Tukiainen at my local shop (for local people). We exchanged glances.

Just so nobody gets me wrong: I’m doing good and I am happy.

Soon to come in this Blog: The Future of Computer Games!

First Week in Helsinki

My first week in Helsinki sees the gradual dissipation of the beginnings-panic. I have pretty much settled in, although th bulk of my belongings still sit in Tampere waiting to get hauled here. I have some cashflow problems because I didn’t supply my tax-card in time. That was 60% off my salary which was already only 3/4 of a pay since I started the 7th. My rent lease, however, began in 1. January. And I have to pay for the move as well… When I’m done with moving, I have to start thinking about how to buy more stuff into my illustrious apartment, currently all I have is a sofa (which unfolds into a bed) and a small self-made table.

No fear! I’ll manage. I’ll be spending one week in Riga as a part of my training, which should be interesting. I’m expecting conflicting schedules, missed dead-lines, un-announced meetings you need to attend to and so on. Just like in reality!

I’m almost done with adjusting to my new sleep schedule. I have found a working cycle-route to and fro my workplace (which is subject to change in few weeks) . The very nice aspect of all this is that the days are rapidly getting longer and temperature has been generally temperate.

First Day in Helsinki

My new life in Helsinki begins humbly. The bulk of my belongings still wait in Tampere to be moved. I took only what I could carry. That means sleeping on the floor and every now and then wondering why didn’t I bring this-and-that -thing with me.

I’m writing this in a cafe, it will be weeks before I get net connection to home. Money will be short for awhile too, so I have to resist all the urges that this city offers… I live in Kallio, a somewhat infamous former, now retiring working class homestead. It has slightly rowdy reputation, there are sex shops in every corner and if your thai-muscles ache you can get limbered up in several thai-massage-parlor. One of the streets even had a sign saying it was under polices technical supervision. I feel safer already.

I like the way Kallio looks though, it has that kind of charm that a place that has been as urban as you can get in Finland for closer to 70 years. My apartment is in one of those 70 year old buildings, it has plank floors and a very well equiped kitchen. If I ever come to possess more than one plate, I never have to wash it myself!