By which I mean, which awesome features do I have on my phone - and by metonymic extension - in my fingers, because of the software running on my Android phone.
Listed here in order of discovery -
The What You Want-Web got a number of power boosts this week.
The What-You-Want Web is my just-coined phrase for the lock-in free, non-value-bundled, disintermediated, higly competitive computation, api, and experience fabric one could hope the web is evolving towards. Twitter already lives there, nice to see some more people join.
The important thing about all of these announcements is that they forgo a number of options for making money off free/cheap: Lowering the friction towards zero means the services have to succeed on their own merits. If they fail to offer what I need or want, I can just leave. I don't have to buy into the platform promise of any of these tools, I can just get the stuff that has value to me.
I think in 5 years we will remember Twitter largely as the first radically open company on the web. Considering the high availability search and good APIs, there literally is no aspect of your life on Twitter that you can't take with you.
P.S. (Also, three cheers for Polarrose, launching flickr/facebook-face recognition today. A company adding decisive value with unique technology, born to take advantage of the WYW-Web.)
Jeg har lige brugt 45 minutter på at se dokumentaren om den usandsynlige sejltur over atlanten på flåden Son of Town Hall, som et ægtepar med venner foretog i slutningen af 90erne. Familiefaderen, David Pearlman, kan man roligt kalde en Christiania-type; et klassisk modkultur/uden for systemet-menneske, der har gjort det til sin særlige ting at bo på hjemmebyggede husbåde, og leve billigt at at tale og optræde med familieorkestret The Flying Neutrinos - hvorfor han går under navnet Pappa Neutrino.
Mest ambitiøst, byggede han båden Son of Town Hall (opkaldt efter sin forgænger Town Hall) i New York af skrot og gamle planker hevet op af East River. Båden ligner en kulisse fra en Terry Gilliam-film. Et fantasifuldt, men umuligt, fartøj, som familien dog alligevel sejlede tværs over atlanten.
Filmen er naturligvis en hyldest til den stærke drift mod anderledeshed, de sejlende er stolte af bedriften. Det kunne hurtigt blive irriterende, hvis det var en historie i Politiken om plads til forskellighed på en god adresse på Christianshavn med adgang til havnen, men det er bedre end det, fordi de tager de virkelige udfordringer ved at have en båd, alvorligt: Ansvaret for at passe på sig selv, ikke at dø til søs, og også - om end det ikke fylder alverden - for ikke at bare at klare sig på at få gratis frirum fra resten af verden.
Et af filmens bedste momenter er hvor den sejltrænede Betsy bliver rasende fordi den utrænede Rodger fordi han ikke er tilstrækkeligt rædselsslagen ved roret, da et andet skib kommer meget tæt på Son of Town Hall. Hvis virkeligheden er farlig nok, er det sundt at være rædselsslagen.
Storebror Holger plejer at citere Bob Dylan og sige "To live outside the law, you must be honest", man kunne også sige "Man kan ikke blive fri uden rigtige problemer". Jeg tror iøvrigt her er en af de ting jeg har imod coachingbølgen; det er bare "mig inden i mig", den gnidningsløse frihed. Det er ikke fordi det er snyd, den er gal med den, men fordi jeg ikke tror på det rigtig virker.
For tiden kan man se Venus og Jupiter rundt om månen - her et nogenlunde fantastisk skud min bror har taget fra sin have i Bamako i Mali.
Smuk timelapse taget på mit gamle kollegium (af ham her).
Reprap shoes. That must be the end of any purchasing doubt.
Hvis ikke man har hørt det endnu så skylder man sig selv at høre det lange og gode indslag om Yossi Vardi og den israelsk teknologi-sektor i fredagens udgave af harddisken. Yossi Vardi var en af pengemændene bag ICQ i sin tid, og bruger stadig sin energi på at hjælpe nye bikse igang og netværke på fuld tid. Det kan man måske også finde herhjemme, men der er et schwung over Vardis måde at gøre det på, der er mere sjældent. Jeg kan ikke lige komme i tanke om en dansk angel investor, der holder et årligt hackathon med gæster fra hele kloden for at netværke med og inspirere hinanden.
I indslaget hører man også en kort lydbid med en af de iværksættere Vardi backer, og hans kombination af selvdrift, nationalfølelse og udsyn er også imponerende. Parafraseret siger han noget med: "Vi er et lille land, så vi er nødt til at være internationale. Så vi starter virksomheder, for gør vi det ikke overlever landet ikke".
This is very true - with qualifications. The qualification: The many little new things have to fit coherently into a larger plan or they will eventually put a drag on the project, as more and more problems keep competing for attention.
Obviously there's a nice guilt free way to deal with the qualification: Guilt free refactorings - clean up as new. Rewrite instead of fix. I've tried that one as well and sometimes it works other times it doesn't.
The Copyright Police finally come and take away all my records. All harddisks are seized as are PC sound cards. I'm allowed to keep 5 CD's. I'm only allowed to listen to them in the kitchen on the crummy little CD blaster I've got there. I can't buy new stuff ever again and I can only choose from my own collection. Which 5 albums stay?
These aren't "The world's greatest albums" or anything like that. They're just the last 5 I would burn to heat myself if burning CD's was what kept you warm.
[UPDATE: Gerald replaces Tennant. Now all albums on the list have the quality that they have, at one time or another, been the only thing I've listened too for what seems now like weeks. I know the microstructure of of all these recordings perfectly]
Excellent rule to follow, suggested by Don Norman: "Never solve the problem as stated". It is indeed rare to encounter someone in need of your problem solving skills who are able to adequately communicate the true goals they were hoping to obtain from the solution. Even if they did, it is often better to help them accomplish completely different, much bigger, goals by solving a different problem.
A couple of weeks ago I shared with a few friends a childhood memory of watching with horror and amazement the scene in The Ipcress File where Michael Caine is subjected to mind imprinting psychological torture that he only endures by inflicting pain on himself through making a wound in the palm of his hand with a nail. The scene was so powerful that I had remembered it for years along with only a few other scenes of similar power, without remembering anything about who was in it or what film it was from. All I remembered was the image of the tied up tortured man hurting himself - an image which was hard to comprehend for a child. As it turns out one the guys I told about it had the exact same experience with that scene for the same reasons. [UPDATE: In fact I recall going to see The Manchurian Candidate halway expecting the scene to be there]
One other such moment is the final sequence from Alfred Hitchcock's Saboteur - where the antagonist is chased to the top of the Statue of Liberty, halfway falls from the torch, but is saved as the hero of the story grabs his jacket sleeve. The seam of the jacket however starts to open ontil the sleeve comes off the jacket and the antagonist falls to the ground and dies. Again it is the strong image of the bad guy hanging over the edge as his jacket begins to rip apart that I memorized. Only years later - as I read Hitchcock/Truffaut - did I realize that it was this film I remembered.
The reason for bringing this up is that I have recently revisited both scenes. As it turns out neither the Ipcress File scene nor the Saboteur scene are able to generate the emotional jolt they gave me as a child - both films seem dated - but it was fun to connect the experience with the film nonetheless. I saw the Michael Caine vehicle on TV, but the Hitchcock film I was only able to see because I just purchased a 7 disc DVD Hitchcock Collection with a good selection of Hitchcock's films: Saboteur, Shadow of a Doubt, Rope, Rear Window, The trouble with Harry, The Man who Knew to Much (the '56 version), and Psycho. Considiring that it costs £129.99 on amazon.co.uk, the 400 DKK (approx £36) I paid was a very reasonable price indeed, and Shadow of a Doubt, Rear Window and Psycho would have been worth it alone. The other four films are nice extras. It's great to see these movies - many of which I have only seen in old worn film museum copies - in crisp DVD quality, and it will be great to see The Trouble with Harry for the very first time. I am a huge Htichcock fan, but I have holes in my list of films I actually know.
Actually, seeing these films on strange film museum copies brought about one of my most memorable movie going experiences ever. I went to see Shadow of a Doubt some years ago (and btw. the train strangulation scene from that film is another one of those childhood moments). The copy screened was, I think, Czech - certainly some eastern european version, with subtitles in a strange looking language. The subtitles were very thorough, often taking up three and even four full lines of text obscuring much of the image. You endure things like that for the ability to see the film at all, but the real masterpiece of the Czech versioning came in a pivotal scene where Joseph Cottens' niece goes to the library and finds a New York newspaper where she learns that Cotten is really a murderer. This scene was completely lost on us that day at the film museum because just as the girl looks down and we see her terrified look and Hitchcock cuts to a view of the headline it turned out that in the Czech version the image of the newspaper itself had been replaced with one of a Czech newspaper! This would have been funny had it been German, but in Czech it was devastating in that nobody was able to understand what it was she had discovered exactly. The entire audience burst into laughter and we didn't really regain the suspense atmosphere of the film for the thrilling conclusion after that.
The title of this post is literally snakeman (a contortionist) in Danish, and that was the name of my personal version of snake, the computer game classic every kid hacked his own version of back when I had my Amstrad computer.
I didn't have many commercial games for my computer, so I mainly played games I wrote myself. Really simple ones as you could guess. This one I was particularly happy with. I wrote it in one hour, and I used pointers into a position array to move the head and tail of the snake, so that the game didn't slow down as the snake grew in the same way it did on the versions I had seen at the computer programming night school.
My brother and I played this game all the time. We had a deal: He had a lot of records, and he could only play my computer if I could listen to his records, so we spent many evenings reading, playing and listening to David Bowie.
I recently recreated the exact gameplay of the Amstrad version as a browser based game (works in IE and Mozilla/Netscape), with a Mondrian/De Stijl visual theme.
Use the arrow keys to move, pick up the green bonus squares. Don't hit the wall, yourself or the blue tail you drop in your wake every once in a while.
The distinguishing features of this version relative to other versions
All of the David Bowie studio albums from this one to Scary Monsters could go on the essentials list, but I have to start somewhere and this is as good a place as any.
Bowie's amazing voice is young and intense, the sound has that glam inspired 70s glitter, and with a few ridiculous emberassments as entertaining interludes, the songs really are fantastic
Bowie was on the essential soundtrack to my childhood, because one of my brothers was a huge fan and always played the albums, with this one, Heroes and Scary Monsters probably being the favourites. While I own only a few of these albums I know them all by heart second for second in a way you can only know music you heard all the time at a certain age.
I don't have the family franchise on Iggy Pop fandom, but I think this is the best opening of any record ever. It is certainly the most energietic. There is no hesitation in the amazing opening bars of Lust for Life, just pure energy and with a bouncy/funky rhythm to boot. There are absolutely no disappointments on this album. The intensity of the opening is maintained throughout and the album ends with a candidate for Best Closing Song Ever - Fall in Love With Me.
Of the records Bowie was involved in making in 1977 I think this one comes in a tied first position with Heroes, with Low in third place handily beating The Idiot.
[UPDATE: Extended with input from some of my siblings]
Everybody has special memories about their childhood home, but even so, I like to think that the house I grew up in was something special. To give you an idea of what the house looks like, here's a drawing my older brother made of the house some 15 years ago.
You'll have to subtract a bit of the Psycho-esque American gothic, but the house really looked like that. It was an enormous building. The biggest home in the small town I grew up in. It was on the middle of the main street. It had a tower. It was - much like a child's world - unfinished and mysterious.
Large portions of the house were not in use, and in quite bad repair. Living in the house was a gradual conquest. As the familiy grew, as children got older and required their own space, more and more rooms were fixed up and taken into use. The job was never finshed while we lived there. The parts we did use ended up consisting of about 12 rooms and various utility rooms: two bathrooms, a big kitchen, pantry, a porch and, important when you're a child, a walk-in safe in the middle of the main hallway. Below the main floor was a basement floor with an additional 6-8 rooms largely unused and above it all an enormous attic left mainly as a huge empty play space for the children. From the attic you could access the tower room and from there actually climb the ladder to the lookout platform above.
The basement was in pretty bad repair. There wasn't good lighting for example, and the darkness added to the mystery. At the end of a long dark hallway in the basement you could climb up into a crawl space under the porch where the older children had a secret hideaway. The house was built around 1900, back when houses had these huge secret underbellies taking care of all kinds of domestic functions. There was the room with a huge brick wash boiler (en gruekedel) built in, there was the furnace room and finally there was a large room with a service hatch and shaft opening into the yard in front reserved for coal/coke for heating. For a while this was turned into a good sized rabbit farm while the children of the house went through a rabbit craze.
There was a slate roof above the house and the slate was not insulated. You looked right at from the attic. When I was little, the attic itself wasn't insulated in any way either, and you could tell because no matter how cold it was the slate roof often stood black, completely free of snow cover. The snow had been melted by the heat escaping from below. In the summer it would get really hot below the slate, but my brother and I would still spend a lot of time in the attic, because we had the space to ourselves. We built enormous Lego railway systems that we never had to pull down and could work on for weeks.
The main floor was dominated by three large rooms facing the front of the house: My fathers office, the state room/living room, and the dining room; all connected en suite with double doors. The state room was the only place that was off limits for the kids. The only place we weren't allowed to turn into a play space. Thankfully we had our own kids' play room next to the kitchen where other rules applied. The house was so big that it was never really under strict adult control all of it. There was always a lot of free space, always some place to escape to where you could play. The dining room, which was also the music room with the piano, could be split in two with a curtain, and obviously we used this curtain to frame one half of the room as a stage where we produced little plays and performances (truth be told, we only did this a few times). I like to think of it as a sign of a civilized household that the TV set was in the kids' play room and not in the living room. The living room was a place where you sat and talked, and maybe listened to records. Television was something for kids. There was no censorship, television wasn't frowned upon, it was just a familiy/kid oriented thing.
In front of the house was a small garden where we almost never played, it was mainly for display - a lawn with a row of rose bushes in front facing the street, behind a low, white metal fence. Behind the house was a much bigger garden matching the size of the house. It consisted first of a big lawn (it's hard to remeber exactly how big it was but 15x25 meters is probably a low estimate) where we could play football(i.e. soccer) or other games. Along the lawn on one side was a garden path to the very back of the garden, and beyond that on both sides the lawn was surrounded entirely by trees and lots of shrubbery, ideal for hide and seek. Behind the lawn was the vegetable garden (later another lawn) and some more trees. All of the trees served different functions for play. There was the fairy tale style hollow tree, with a trunk decorated by huge fungii, there was the tall oak with the big swing hanging from a branch maybe 4 meters above ground, where we could help each other to fantastic rides. There were the fruit trees, apple and pear. There was the copper beech with the tree house built by my older brothers and there was the forked tree at the back of the garden on the mound next to the campfire site we used on midsummers night. The tree on the mound was really easy to climb if you didn't like climbing the biggest tree of them all, the giant lime tree at the very back of the garden.
There simply was no end to the house and there was no end to the garden.
Imagine you had listed all infinite series of digits in an infinite list of rows. Like this
(the underlined 7 is in the n'th position)
Then if you took out the numbers I've marked underline bold and shifted them by one (1->2, ..., 9->0) and built the series of these digits
then that would be different from any series in the original list. We carefully built the list with one digit from each list in exactly the right place, but shifted by 1.
So there is a series not in the list of series - and this is true no matter how we list the set of series. There simply is no way to list them. The upshot of that: There are more infinte series than there are integers, even though there's an infinite supply of both integer numbers and infinite series. It's possible to be more infinite than the set of integers.
This is the heart of Cantor's celebrated diagonal proof about the noncountability of the real numbers. I first learned of this marvelously simple idea in high school (gymnasiet, altså) when I read one of the classics of expository math, Gödel, Escher, Bach by Douglas Hofstadter. I remember feeling exhilerated when the penny dropped. To think that you could get so dramatic conclusions from such a simple argument. That's when I knew I liked mathematics. This was really a bounty to go for, that kind of gearing for your thoughts - the world literally expanding before your very eyes, and not just by miles or light years, but infinitely, and not just that, but transinfinitely.
The power of the diagonal proof has also been proven by its use, in more technical guises, to prove all kinds of wonderful and mindboggling things. Among them the analogous results of Turing and Gödel on the stopping problem and the completeness of mathematical theories.
[UPDATE: Classy's list of essential Stones titles in proper buying order]
The Stones are really much too old a band to be important for me, but I grew up listening mainly to The Rolling Stones and danish band Gasolin'. First because the music was being played by two of my older brothers, and later because my third brother bought all the Stones albums released on Decca/London in a boxed set which we played all the time in the following years. Among all the Stones albums (several of which will be covered on the Essentials list) Beggars Banquet is the best one.
It has one of the best side-A-track-1's in the history of LPs and after that, within the confines of the stones sound it helped define, an amazing breadth of variation that practically no one tries for any more. Any one of "Sympathy for the Devil", "No Expectations" and "Street Fighting Man" would be reason enough to include the album, but there's so much more.
The Stones have done their music a disservice through the last 15 years of stadium rocking. The stadium venues and the moniker "Worlds Largest Rock'n Roll Band" have turned them in to a parody rather than the brilliant blues band they used to be. Music quite simply does not belong in stadiums. I have a lot of friends without any feeling for what the Stones sound used to be, because they can think only of 50000 people cheering Keith Richards on as he starts up the riff of Satisfaction. They either dislike The Stones because they are not Metallica or because they think they probably sound like Metallica for old people.
This album in contrast is to a large extent quiet, emotional, and acoustic and sounds nothing like The Stadium Stones.
Classy's Essential Stones Album List in Buying Order
Simply a perfect album for a perfect time. It has everything I could possibly want from a record. It's soulful, funky and sad, but has perfect pop songs as well. It came out at just the right time to make an indelible impression on me. 1987 was the year my brother left to live in London for a year, and he left his room, his stereo and his records behind for me to enjoy.
The combination of trademark Prince funk with completely new sounds on the title track as well as perfect pop songs makes for a perfect album. It's one of those almost one man performances that made Prince special in the 80s. The one man band sound also means that a lot of the tracks have pretty simple arrangements with a heavy emphasis in Prince's fabulous singing, doing both the lead and multiple background voices layered really tightly around the lead with a lot of soul. To me those are his best songs.
Gasolin er en essentiel komponent af min barndom. Jeg er lige en smule yngre end den typiske Gasolin-nostalgiker, men jeg har mange ?ldre s?skende og har h?rt Gasolin siden jeg var 2. S? Gasolin Blackbox samlingen af alle Gas' LPerne er virkelig et fantastisk memento om en anden og mere orange og r?gfarvet tid - Dengang man kunne stille sig op til bandfoto som landets f?rende rockstjerne p? bagsiden af et LP cover i genbrugstweedjakke med en halvfuld Gr?n Tuborg stikkende op af jakkelommen. Pluspoint for den nostalgivenlige indpakning komplet med un?dvendige inderposer inden i de CD-st?rrelse snydepladecovers. Eneste klage: Hvorfor er dem der var gatefold dengang ikke lavet som gatefold nu. Helt ?rligt.
Musikken er vel n?ppe lige s? frisk da den var ny - det er den enten for tidstypisk eller for velkendt til - men de gode numre, og der er mange af dem, er fantastiske og Kim Larsen havde stadigv?k en stemme.
For nogen år siden kørte i Weekendavisen en serie artikler under den fælles overskrift "Mit bedste måltid", hvor kulturpersonligheder gengav en oplevelse de havde haft med et godt måltid mad. Jeg syntes så godt om serien, at jeg skrev mit eget bud ned på sådan en oplevelse. Det er en julehistorie.
Mit bedste måltid var i virkeligheden en kæde af måltider, der fandt sted 2. juledag, for nogen år siden.
Jeg kommer fra en stor familie og vi har altid holdt jul sammen. Syv søskende, og vores mor - min far døde for mange år siden - og så hvad man kan få skrabet sammen af koner og kærester. På det tidspunkt denne historie finder sted er alle involverede stadig så unge, at man vælger at skilles fra kæresten i julen, så begge parter kan blive som børn igen - eller dvs. næsten alle, men det kommer jeg til.
Det har jo alle dage været målet med julen at alt kan blive som det var engang. Illusionen om søskendehed og fællesskab, og alt som før, bliver sværere og sværere at ramme med årene. Denne jul, da måltidet fandt sted, krævedes allerede en del skuespil og gode miner.
Det var vist det jeg glemte at nævne. Efterhånden som barneuskylden fortager sig, efterhånden som gaver og chokolademælk ikke længere kan danne det fuldstændige fokus for ens opmærksomhed, opdager man nye former for fokusering, rigere og mere sanseforstærkende end hvad barnet har behov. Og med dem ændrer julen uundgåeligt karakter. Man sørger for rigelige mængder alkohol, og ved det sker der også nogle forskydninger i julens betydning, henimod en tilstandsoplevelse, istedet for den objektfokusering - gaver og chokolademælk - som barnet lever ind i julen. Forstå mig ret, barnets lykketilstand er efter alt at dømme stærkere, men det er barnets utålmodighed også, og derfor må denne lykketilstand for barnet nødvendigvis formidles over i særligt skinnende genstande, særligt eftertragtede objekter, der fuldstændigt kan katalysere lykken for den lille purk. Den tilstandsglæde den voksne har er anderledes i karakter, og mere i hver enkelt hvilende. Og alkoholens rolle i den er ikke at danne fokus for glæden, på samme made som gaven danner fokus for barnets glæde. Det er et opløftelsesmiddel, der gør det muligt at overkomme den barriere af hverdagsfravær og forskellighed, der præger egensindige mennesker som mig og mine søskende. Man bliver ikke mindre kritisk, men anderledes kritisk af sin beruselse, og med en noget søgt sproglig pointe, drejer det sig jo simpelthen om at barnets evne til at beruses af hvadsomhelst tit er svækket i den voksne, der så må beruses af alkohol.
Altså: Det er anden juledag, klokken er tretten, der er 15 flasker rødvin klar, vi er ti mennesker i lokalet. Der er kort sagt mad. Og man sætter sig, fylder i glassene, nyder maden - den er blevet god det år, og ikke de forskellige inkarnationer af vand man i tidligere år har fået præsenteret som henholdsvis hamburgerryg, grønlangkål og kartofler - og tiden går. Samtalen, der knagede så meget lillejuleaften, ude af træning med hinandens manerer som man er kommet gennem et travlt efterår, glider nu frit. Alle kommer til fadet, får sagt deres bid, og man husker den glæde man altid har haft ved at være så mange: At man kan føre flere samtaler samtidig, og at man kan holde pauser i samtalen, vidende at der er andre der fører den videre mens man hviler hovedet.
Og dog bliver klokken 4 næste morgen, og øllet slipper op, og vi går ud for at få en sidste øl i byen, og vi mærker hvor bidende koldt det er, hvor sent og hvor øde, og vi er berusede - ikke opløftede, blot vaklende. Og vi er pludselig efter et måltid, ikke midt i det. Og toget kører imorgen.