2009-12-09

"The Killer Elite" in Rolling Stone Magazine

An eerie series of articles about the war in Iraq. Apparently it has won several awards. Note the "advertisement" smack in the middle of it.
An hour later, the Marines have set up a camp off the edge of the airfield. They are told they will stay here for a day or longer. This morning, the sun shines and there's no dust in the air. For the first time in a week, many of the Marines take their boots and socks off. They unfurl camo nets for shade and lounge beside their Humvees. A couple of Recon Marines walk over to Trombley and tease him about shooting camels. "I think I got one of those Iraqis, too. I saw him go down." "Yeah, but you killed a camel, too, and wounded another one." The Marines seem to have touched a nerve. "I didn't mean to," Trombley says defensively. "They're innocent." [...] When he reaches them, he notices that the younger woman seems highly distraught, gesturing and moving her mouth, but no words come out. Her breasts are exposed, her robes having fallen open while she was dragging her bundle across the fields. As Bryan approaches, she frantically unrolls its contents, revealing what appears to be a youth's bloody corpse. The boy looks about fourteen. Then he opens his eyes. Bryan kneels down. There are four small holes, two on each side of his stomach. [...] The younger boy's name is Naif. His brother, still hobbling around on his bloody shot leg, is Latif. The boys had gone out to the family's herd of camels, which had been frightened by the Marine Humvees and started running. The boys were chasing after them when they were shot. One was carrying a stick. Advertisement Each of the four holes in Naif's body is an entry wound, meaning the four bullets zoomed around inside his slender stomach and chest cavity, ripping apart his organs. [...] Sgt. Larry Sean Patrick, a team leader and sniper in Colbert's platoon, has spotted an Iraqi several hundred meters away, parked in a white pickup. He seems to be an observer. The rules of evidence are somewhat looser in a combat zone than they are back home — which means that he earns himself a death sentence for the crime of appearing to be holding binoculars and a radio. Patrick fires one shot, watches for a few moments through his scope and says, "The man went down."
Part I Part II Part III Fucked up world.

2009-12-07

Qualitätsjournalismus

http://elternimnetz.s4u.0lx.net/neuigkeiten/selbstmord-des-schuelervz-hackers-abschiedsbrief-in-codesprache-aufgetaucht/ "Bei dem Code handelt es sich hierbei um die berüchtigte Programmiersprache C++, in der schon Metzel-Games wie Warcraft III und Doom 4 geschrieben wurden. Dabei gilt C++ gerade unter Hackern und Gamern als der schwierigste Code, wie auch der IT-Experte Benedikt Mühlhausen weiß: “In der IT-Szene wird C++ häufig für Websites und gewaltverherrlichende Computergames verwendet. Es bietet dem Coder sehr viele Möglichkeiten, ist dafür aber auch die schwierigste Programmiersprache der Welt! Ohne jahrelanges Studium und die richtigen Bücher ist da nichts zu machen.” Er selbst habe sich den Brief mehrmals durchgelesen und staunt nicht schlecht über die Fähigkeiten des Hacker-Jungen."... ATOMLOL kann ich da nur sagen.

2009-11-26

Autofahrer sind asoziale Psychopathen

Wikipedia definiert die Begriffe folgendermassen: "Psychopathie bezeichnet eine schwere Persönlichkeitsstörung, die bei den Betroffenen mit dem weitgehenden oder völligen Fehlen von Empathie, sozialer Verantwortung und Gewissen einhergeht." "Ein Individuum vollzieht seine persönlichen Handlungen ohne die [...] Interessen anderer Menschen zu berücksichtigen." Ich behaupte für einen Autofahrer im Auto gilt beides. Man stelle sich folgende Rollentausch Situation vor: Auf der einen Seite haben wir Herrn A.Loch, Autofahrer, aber im Augenblick ohne sein Gerät. Dementsprechend weiss er nichts mit sich anzufangen und steht abends in der Gegend herum. Auf der anderen Seite der Fussgänger Herr F.Wanderschuh. Die beiden sind sich völlig unbekannt und begegnen sich zufällig auf der Strasse. F. hält A. ein Flutlicht ins Gesicht, so dass dieser für die nächsten Minuten geblendet ist und nichts sieht. Anschliessend springt F. direkt neben A. in eine Pfütze und versaut diesen von oben bis unten mit Schmutzwasser. Dann geht F. völlig unbekümmert weiter ohne A. in irgendeiner Weise zu beachten. Ich glaube von Mensch zu Mensch käme niemand auf die Idee dies als gewöhnliche Alltagssituation zu bewerten. Wenn aber einer der beiden in einem Auto unterwegs ist, ist derartige Rücksichtslosigkeit und Aggression vollkommen normal und allgegenwärtig. Ich bin eben erst wieder geduscht worden an einer Fussgängerampel. Aus Sicht des Autos werden Fussgänger bestenfalls als störende Hindernisse wahrgenommen. Siehe oben: völliges Fehlen von Empathie und Handeln ohne auf andere Menschen Rücksicht zu nehmen.

2009-10-27

impressive photographs

Something to consider when buying the next throwaway t-shirt for 2 bucks or the latest electronic gadget obsolete in a couple of months... Amazing Pictures, Pollution in China

2009-10-20

It wasn't me...

Mein Wahl-O-Mat Ergebnis gegen den deprimierenden Ausgang der Wahl. Nahezu exakt invers. Was tut man als Bürger eines Landes wenn man in nahezu jedem Punkt diametral anderer Meinung als die regierende Kaste ist? Auswandern? Bomben basteln? Stimmen kaufen?

2009-09-30

id software is at it again

Siggraph paper about their new texturing algorithm. Way cool. Now that engines are almost up to rendering every last blade of grass and every pore of my skin the question becomes: who's gonna model/paint all of that? Reconstruct reality? I predict an interesting future for a blend of procedurally generated content and real 3D data acquisition. Play games on google earth or the procedurally generated Fuel? Mix! Augmented reality! Fun ;-)

2009-09-24

Infopr0n

Way cool graphic depicting the cost of being at the bleeding edge of technology. Imagine being the manufacturer of one of these products at the sweet spot - the point in time where the prices start to fall but market penetration explodes. Notice how the growths curves follow an "S" like shape until saturation is reached.

2009-08-19

Nicht so gut, Nicht so gut, Nicht so gut...

...tja was denn eigentlich? Wer's wissen will muss mitkommen.
KlangFu CD-Release Party Montag Abend in Enschede!
KlangFu KlangFu bei Last.Fm

2009-06-14

Battle at Kruger

Action, Thrill, Supsense - and all without special effects.

2009-05-21

Dabbling with Flash/ActionScript

For a couple of years now I have the outlines of a webgame design lying around. Working title "Operation Survival - humanities last stand". It's supposed to be a persistent multiplayer online game involving tactical fighting to defend the earth from alien invasion. It's a bit more involved, but I won't go into that right now. Anyways, I have been playing with various implementation ideas and wanted to show you one that ultimately got discarded. The idea was to have an animated battle in space with two motherships facing each other and launching fighters/rockets/lasers at each other. Controls are indirect, with the player specifying target types (mothership or enemy fighters) and the AI duelling it out. Fighters have flocking behaviour to fly in formation. The game design calls for something more "down to earth" so to speak, so while this prototype might eventually have become fun it's not suited for this particular game vision. If you wanna play with it go here. Launch some fighters by clicking on the round brown mothership targetting icons in the lower left (the energy bars were meant as an auto retreat threshold - once a fighter's energy drops below that value it tries to escape back to the mothership). The white fighter type will follow your mousecursor around to test the flocking algorithm.

"And I think to myself... What a wonderful world..."

A collegue just twittered this.

2009-05-12

Star Trek...

...not my cup of tea. Never was, never will be. The latest cinematic installement proved again that good special effects alone don't make a good movie. It does feature nice to watch yet uninspired CGI (why does no one ever really play with zero gravity effects? Momentum in space? True three dimensional battle maneuvers? Distance and emptiness in space? anyway, different rant...), but the story, oh the story... It's so full of holes, unbearable gung ho macho dialogue and cheap chicken out plot devices like time travel and random technology gadgets it's almost insulting. In my eyes a movie like StarShip Troopers is far more enjoyable: it features special effects on par, matches the macho dialogue with wits and most importantly doesn't take itself so damn seriously while managing to make a satiric statement at the same time. Or what the heck, watch Dark Star instead. I mean, what can be cooler than surfing into a sun?!

Zugspitze Hike

We went hiking on the Zugspitze 2 weeks ago. Richy put some fotos online here: http://picasaweb.google.com/Greadle/20090501Alpen?authkey=Gv1sRgCOm17tzJ-ITSYA# We went through the Höllentalschlucht which was still officially closed due to large amounts of snow and ice and bridges still being taken out for the winter.

2009-04-27

Average US home has more television sets than people...

The average American home now has more television sets than people. That threshold was crossed within the past two years, according to Nielsen Media Research. There are 2.73 TV sets in the typical home and 2.55 people, the researchers said.
In the average home, a television set is turned on for more than a third of the day — eight hours, 14 minutes, Nielsen said. That's an hour more than it was a decade ago. Most of that extra TV viewing is coming outside of prime time, where TVs are on only four minutes more than they were 10 years ago. The average person watches four hours, 35 minutes of television each day, Nielsen said.
One new Nielsen finding — that young people aged 12 to 17 watched 3% more television during the season that ended in May than they had the previous year — is a particular relief to TV network executives. For a few years, Nielsen had been finding that TV viewing among teenagers was flat or even declining, a trend blamed on the Internet or the popularity of electronic games and other devices.
Numbers from 2006 - I can only assume it has gotten worse in the meantime. Ouch! http://www.usatoday.com/life/television/news/2006-09-21-homes-tv_x.htm

2009-04-21

extreme shepherding

Bored shephards... I don't believe it ;-)

2009-04-03

Abwrackprämie

Gott-sei-Dank scheinen wenigstens noch einige mit einem Rest gesunden Menschenverstandes übrig zu sein: maverecon. Meine persönliche Meinung geht etwas über "daft" hinaus. Man sollte die Verantwortlichen *censored* (mir wurde gesagt die Original Formulierung sei etwas zu krass gewesen). Eine derartig zynische, heuchlicherische, unferfrorene, schamlose, idiotische, kurzsichtige, populistische Maßnahme wie die Abwrackprämie hat es schon lange nicht mehr gegeben. Wie kann sich ein Politiker hinstellen und ernsthaft behaupten das diene dem Umweltschutz? Oder der Wirtschaft? Wenn Politiker sich wider besseren Wissens (hoffentlich!) zu so einem Scheiss hinreissen lassen zweifel ich doch an dem Nutzen der Demokratie. Populismus und Wahlkampf verbauen die Möglichkeit die richtigen Entscheidungen zu treffen. ouch!

2009-03-15

Maps of my bicycle tour in 2004

I finally got around to uploading the tour data of my "Soulbiking 2004" bicycle trip through Europe. 20 countries, 15.000 kilometres, 82.000 metres elevation gain. I was quite satisfied to see how big it looks from outer space ;-)




Größere Kartenansicht

2009-03-07

Beautiful...

...and scary: Cherenkov Radiation, Nuclear Waste Storage Facility photographed by Taryn Simon

2009-03-05

2009-02-24

the Vista filesystem is great too...

It didn't actually take that long but still more than half an hour - on a defragmented drive - which is pretty weak I think. Apparently the explorer is catastrophically bad at dealing with lots of small files in a directory. Try selecting >= 100.000 files to get their combined size... Another nice anti feature is the new and improved search. For one thing, despite the claims, the search indexer does degrade performance noticably while it's running in the background. But even worse: it gives false negatives! I.e. search for files or file contents will not give any results while I most defininitely know I have some files matching the search criteria. This makes search unusable.

2009-02-23

I hate Vista!

Argh. The law of leaky abstractions at work. In a misguided attempt at making user's life easier Microsoft introduced aliases for "c:/program files" and other critical windows folders in Vista. This way localized versions of windows (e.g. "c:/programme" ) should be able to deal with badly written programs that have the install destination hardcoded and don't account for regional naming differences. It's an ugly hack to fix an ugly problem. However, the frickin fix doesn't even work. And when it fails it fails badly. I currently have a program I can neither uninstall nor reinstall (it's installer silently fails and rolls back). Worse: it isn't even possible to delete it manually. I can delete it from c:/programme but if I then copy a fresh install to the previous location I get a "cannot overwrite c:/program files/bla" error. Ok, try to do it with administrator privilidges in Safe mode: no deal! The fucking thing is undeletable. Now the best thing is that the program we are talking about is Mozy - my backup solution. It installs a service, a shell extension and a file system monitor. Things that are often characteristic for malware. I had tried Microsoft OneCare as an antivirus solution some weeks ago and that decided to interfere with mozy. Now although I have long since uninstalled OneCare mozy is still crippled - hence my rant above. Even better - OneCare cannot simply be installed like any normal piece of software, no, it forces you to uninstall any other AntiVir solution you may have already had and to top it of: you actually need to download a removal tool (!!!) in order to get rid of it again. This is fucking ridiculous. If it wasn't for Visual Studio, which is great and which I am using on a daily basis, this would have been the final straw for my emigration to linux. So fuck you Microsoft for providing me the disservice of this hidden "convenience" folder aliasing Anti-Feature.

2009-02-05

OGame

I have started playing OGame a couple of days ago. Apparently it's one of the biggest browser games with around 2.000.000 players. It's a bit dull so far but maybe we can make it interesting - join me in universe 57. I'm already thinking of ways to automate it, a habit which got me kicked out of the last browser game I've tried - my AI was getting too good too fast and the admins took note ;-) Anyways, either we'll have fun playing or we start an AI war...

2009-01-24

Music

My brother's myspace page - check it out. Although I personally liked his English stuff better "Chef" and "sensuland" are very cool.

2009-01-23

The world is shrinking

A friend just twittered about this: the world accessibility map. Data visualization at its finest ;-) original source

2009-01-15

Most efficient time waster ever

I am sooo mad at frickin Windows Vista. From a usability perspective it has been a total downgrade compared to Windows XP, even if you - like I do - use the old color scheme and windows style without any useless fancy Aero drek. Vista's "improvements" are usually just fucking annoying time wasters but today's bug really drove me crazy: As a localization "help" Vista set up aliases so the program files folder (amongst others) points to the same directory for different languages. In my case "c:/programme" is supposed to be an alias for "c:/program files" (or maybe the other way around). So far so good. What happened next is that I have installed the apache webserver to it's default location which is "c:/program files". It gets mirrored in c:/programme and everything is fine. Or so you'd think until you try to modify any of it's installation files (like the server config say). I shut down the service, modify httpd.conf and restart apache. No change. I look into the conf and verify that I did indeed change the file. I restart apache. No change. I restart Windows. No change. After a while of banging my head against this I finally figure out that I actually have two (!) httpd.confs - one in c:/programme and on in c:/program files. I scratch my head and go WTF?! I compare both files and voila: only one of them is changed. Ok, so save the changes to the other as well. No deal. File cannot be changed. Uninstall apache. Service is gone. c:/programme/apache... is gone. c:/program files/apache is not gone! WTF?! Lesson learned: stay away from Vista's fucking helpful aliased folders. I should have known better after having a very similar problem with an "undeletable" file in my start menu which suffers from the same "feature" and kept reappearing magically after having been deleted. Thanks but no thanks Microsoft. Current setup: Apache installed to f:/WebServer and everything's fine.

2009-01-13

"Verschrottungsprämie"

Armes Deutschland. Pro Kind 100 Euro, pro Auto 2500 Euro. Wenn das eine Investition in die Zukunft sein soll will ich in dieser Zukunft nicht leben. Sagt doch einiges aus über die gesellschaftliche Wertschätzung - des Deutschen liebstes Kind - sein Auto. Herdentrieb hat schon recht:
Was soll zudem dieser Fokus auf die Autoindustrie? Warum überlässt man nicht den Verbrauchern, wie sie ihr Geld ausgeben? Der Markt für Autos ist im Grunde gesättigt – wir brauchen sicher andere Autos als bisher, aber ganz sicher nicht mehr so viele wie in den vergangenen Jahren. Nehmen wir einmal an, dass jeder, der einen Führerschein hat und fahren kann, auch ein Auto besitzt. Das kommt bei 41,2 Mio. zugelassenen PKWs etwa hin. Bei einem Durchschnittsalter des Bestands von acht Jahren ergibt sich eine durchschnittliche Lebensdauer der Autos von rund 16 Jahren, was wiederum bedeutet, dass der jährliche Ersatzbedarf ein sechzehntel von 41,2 Mio. beträgt: Das sind im Gleichgewicht 2,6 Mio. neue Autos pro Jahr. Da deren Haltbarkeit ständig zunimmt, dürfte die Zahl in Wirklichkeit sogar noch niedriger sein. Warum sollte es eine Katastrophe sein, wenn sich die Neuzulassungen auf diesem Niveau einpendeln. Im Jahr 2007 waren es noch 3,15 Mio. Abgesehen davon, dass jede andere Branche berechtigterweise eine ähnliche Förderung ihrer Produktion verlangen könnte, macht es aus ökologischen Gründen keinen Sinn, die Leute zum Autofahren zu animieren. Sollte das Konjunkturpaket nicht auch eine Umweltkomponente haben? Ich plädiere erneut dafür, die Mehrwertsteuer für einen Zeitraum von drei Jahren um drei Punkte zu senken, damit die Kaufkraft der Haushalte wirksam gestärkt wird, und im Gegenzug die Steuern auf den Energieverbrauch dauerhaft zu erhöhen, mit einem Nettoeffekt von 15 Mrd. Euro für die ersten drei Jahre: Die Umwelt würde sich freuen und die Abhängigkeit von Energieimporten würde sinken, abgesehen von dem kräftigen allgemeinen Nachfrageschub, den die steuerliche Nettoentlastung auslösen dürfte.