Wednesday, January 31, 2007


Extra! Extra!

Feckless in Finland now to be found at

No more phonetic greek character weirdness, same old host character weirdness.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Winter Finally Here

I was getting worried when the Texan Blogmeister was reporting icy conditions in The Lone Star State while kids here were trying to convert their sleds into paddle boats, but in the last few days the temperatures finally fell, like they should. Darn global warming.

We celebrated, as dignified, grown-up twenty-somethings do, by flinging ourselves down local hills on "bum-sleighs", hooting. Image above is manly bum sleigh with kitty motif.

Uni has had it's ups and downs. I elected not to sit an exam in a subject that won't come around again until August 2008 - was totally unprepared, tired and fatalistic. Even so, if I get graded "passed" on a paper I've to hand up by Wednesday, and get through another exam in March, I should have 19 credits from last semester - not bad factoring in the full-time work. I'm hoping to rack up 20-25 from this semester - there's a 3 credit book exam available in computer law - all the DRM and Open Source stuff I like to rant about - marvellous.

I'm down to working 3 days a week, which should give me more time, and lead to less all-nighters.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas

Merry [insert seasonal/solar festival here],

I feel far from my books and study here (even though they're only just upstairs) so I'm slacking off... to blog!

Home is no longer the internetless wilderness it once was (huzzah!). There's a complicated and arcane phone system culminating in broadband and a wireless phone upstairs, but in series with a plain old phone downstairs, a phone that is not to be lifted under pain of death. It came from the electronics shop the video from The Ring originated; the very act of lifting the receiver and hearing its dial-tone kills the internets.

To this newly, wired home I brought the gift of wirelessness. Previously I'd get told off a lot for hogging the connection over the holidays, and the familiar perception (especially with the matriarch) is that sitting at the computer is anti-social, whereas sitting in front of the tv is acceptable. Now, I can do (and am doing) both, praise be the wifi internet fairies, ferrying my packets to a fro. Flit! Fly!

Righty, back to work. New Year's is coming, and this year it brings not only abstracts like *Promise* and *Hope*, but certainties like *Exams*, *Deadlines* and *Grades*.

A special "Merry Christmas" to everyone I can't say that to in person.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Helsinki needs this


Down under they seem to have the same nocturnal urnitation problems as we do here up above.  The proposed solution is magical nocturnal street urinals

that disappear below street level during the day. 

As we were walking home last night, a guy under a lamp started to paw at his belt.  I just assumed he was going to undo his fly and let loose right below the street-light, and found I wasn't a bit shocked (he didn't). 

Friends have seen much, much worse.  We speculate it's the closeness to nature engendered by summers in unplumbed summer cottages that lowers the threshold for street, er, performance. 

Actually the only flaw with respect to Hki is it's focus on male drinkers. 

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Friday, November 17, 2006

Helsingin Sanomat "Now" Ad

What Now - What Next - video powered by Metacafe

Looks from the late 80s or early 90s.

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Wednesday, November 08, 2006

San Francisco

It needs the excersice
Originally uploaded by delta_avi_delta.
I was over in Palo Alto last week for work - my first trip stateside and it was a blast - many cultural learnings.

I'm not a fan of the ingress process though. You have to give details of your stay before they let you on the plane, and you get photographed, fingerprinted, and mildly questioned when you get off. *Fingerprinted*. I may be old fashioned but I consider all of that a privacy violation. Oh and you have to put your potentially explosive deodorant in a little plastic baggy so at least it'll be neat before it goes off. Who comes up with this stuff?

I had thought that staying in San Francisco might mean I'd see some of it, unfortunately work was intense, so I mostly saw the inside of Caltrains and a couple of interesting restaurants, but hey, good food and I'm happy. Uniformly fantastic coffee too and I'm ecstatic.

Wow, the food. I'll put it like this - I rarely, very rarely, oh so rarely leave food behind me, but was defeated two meals straight, dinner and breakfast, and I'm a big fan of Irish breakfasts so you can imagine what kind of monster the Big Breakfast Burrito was.

People seem super-friendly if you're straight over from Finland. Strangers and wait-staff will initiate conversation at will or over trivialities, and assume a level of friendliness that's initially slightly disconcerting if you're used to how things work over here. Of course, I'm pretty certain this is how I come across in Finland. There's a massive dose of spoken formality too - "sir" and "ma'am" you don't get here either, nor in Dublin for that matter.

The usual self-evidents:
1) Everyone drives everywhere. It's at most a 15 minute walk from the train-station to work. I was considered crazy for walking, and kind people went out of their way to drop me off despite my protests.
2) Many people are terrifically fat - you can guess this when you see defibrillators lining the arrival terminal walls.
3) This ain't no social society - I hadn't seen anyone eat from a bin in a long time. Fish in a bin for empties to return for coins for booze yes, fish for dinner, no.
4) A certain sense of paranoia abounds. At every train station, and at the airports you get "if you notice suspicious activity..." messages, and you're constantly reminded "we're at Homeland Security Threat Level Orange".

No other clichés for now :)

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Down with DRM

Today is international Day Against DRM. If you're not sure what DRM is, follow the link. There's too much apathy surrounding digital rights - and far too many clueless politicians are allowing themselves to be lobbied into position by large corporations with vested interests.

"So what," you say, "so I can only listen to my iTunes how Apple lets me, big whoop - 'it prevents piracy'." I say letting The Man decide and then enforce exactly how artists can distribute and how I can appreciate their rock just doesn't roll.

It prevents piracy, true, but it also precludes a host of legitimate uses that goes well above and beyond the copyright restrictions it aims to uphold. Copyright is a rather flexible thing - copyright law grants a "fair use" license to students of the media content, or satirists for example - try explaining that to a DRM algorithm. Want to sell the records you don't like to buy new ones you do? Totally permitted under copyright (it's called "first sale"), not recognized by DRM. It fails completely to recognise next-generation copyright schemes such as Creative Commons.

Also, wise up people. You, the one who bought music on iTunes there - fancy buying a not-an-iPod any time soon? No? Your music will only play on Apple devices? So your next shiny mp3 player will be? Apple. The one after that? Right. This is called "vendor lock in". The reason everyone from Microsoft to our dear Nokia has tried to start a music store in recent years is they see Apple's DRM driven lock in and they can't believe they missed their chance.

You like mashups? I sure do. Mashups have been one of the revelations of the last few years - that dumb "users" could take media, and cut and paste it together to a professional standard to make something more than the sum of its parts was something of a shock to the media vendors. Sadly, not permitted under DRM schemes.

Finally, you know that box of records you found in your parents attic - the ones they bought before they were "Mom" and "Dad"? They were strange and mysterious, and when the popped and crackled to life you discovered a whole world of music you didn't know existed. Forget that with DRM schemes. Your children will not be able to inherit the digital equivalent of your dusty vinyls, because the license you purchased it under doesn't include them, or their devices. Of all the reasons to oppose DRM, that's the one I find the most sad and compelling.