Those 18 and a half lines of text never happened

Aides of congressmen have been caught whitewashing their employers' wikipedia entries.

The office of the most famous finnish copy&paster has engaged in similar activities.

None of the wielders of Big Eraserstm seemed to know that every action is logged, and easily revertable. Where the finnish entry seems to have settled on a truthful account of the events, there appears to be a constant buzz around the most controversially changed entries, leading to a temporary blocking of a large chunk of IP addresses.

31.1.2006 / 22:04 EET | permalink | | wikipedia, politics, stupidity


Nothing lasts forever

But you'd expect shoelaces to take a bit more punishment than is dealt out in mere two weeks. There must be some exquisitely sharp bits among the lace-runners in the shoe, as it's invariably the same shoe whose lace expires first.

Oh well, yet another virtual mouse for my sister's cats. They're much happier with tossing shoelaces around than tackling rodent-shaped toys. Hope they get more mileage out of this baby than I did.

31.1.2006 / 21:00 EET | permalink | | haircut


Saga

Yet another corruption dinner, this time in the lapland-themed restaurant Saga on Bulevardi.

Had sautéd reindeer (poronkäristys), which was quite a bit better than just OK. And the accompanying mashed potatoes were a reminder that the facsimile thereof that sodexho produces is indeed an abomination. Skipped real dessert, and had a few pieces of dark cranberry chocolate instead.

This was my first visit to the restaurant, and I don't think that it's worth all the bad press it has received due to cliche-ridden interior design. True, it has some odd elements, but them being closer to home than dime-a-dozen elements in, say, italian or russian (especially the latter seem to wallow in nostalgic details) restaurants probably just makes them stand out.

And luckily I was not the last man sitting, as Seppo notes from his traumatic cab ride back. Usually I don't mind talkative cabbies, but a topic like this is bound to bring out the worst in every passenger. Thankfully the drivers are not dependent on tips. This guy would have a hard time making ends meet.

31.1.2006 / 20:51 EET | permalink | | restaurant


Da Vinci Code meets Lalli, place your bets

The artist of the message-wise sub-optimal, but technically good recent copyright-propaganda album, Anssi Rauhala, has been prolific lately.

This week's suomen kuvalehti describes how a forthcoming comic album will tie together both global (Mary Magdalena, as expected) and local (Lalli and Henrik) histories of the church.

Sounds interesting, and the few frames of art seem good enough to maintain interest. The style is close to belgian classics from the seventies (Spirou, Natasha), which is definitely a merit in my book.

So it all depends on the execution of the story. If it manages to add something to the well-chewed legend it might be interesting indeed, but in the post-danbrownian era of biblical conspiracies everywhere a new point of view might be a bit too much to ask for.

Surprisingly enough the publishing company's site has no mention of the album at all. Suomen kuvalehti was a bit premature in pushing information about the last Tintin-album, as it took several weeks as opposed to just one for that one to materialize into the shops.

29.1.2006 / 22:55 EET | permalink | | comics


Pulse delayed

Indeed. Pink Floyd's long-awaited live-dvd is badly delayed.

While the original release date on thanksgiving was quietly passed by, the new one is surprisingly far in the calendar: extending the schedule to september sixth probably gives the record company enough time to mix and remix the dual disc release a few times over.

29.1.2006 / 22:41 EET | permalink | | music


Status Quo, part 2

And Tarja Halonen, the current president, shall continue for six more years.

In the end the margin between her and the challenger turned out to be unexpectedly wide. At 51.8 / 48.2 it's not close from any perspective. Not sure whether the old adage "the center never holds" hit home again, at least in the nine o' news it was stated that participation percentage in rural communities had been on the low side.

And Conan O'Brien will now have yet another thing to gloat about.

29.1.2006 / 22:22 EET | permalink | | politics


Voted

Second round's democratic duty completed.

With the difference between the candidates well below the margin of error (especially when considering the amount of people who "cannot say") it looks like a tight race.

And who knows, maybe Tarmo Ropponen's illustrious career as the chief political commentator on tv will finish in an election that is not a landslide, but sees lead changes throughout the evening as results from various regions stream in.

We'll see that in about ten hours or so.

29.1.2006 / 11:00 EET | permalink | | politics


Paging Dr. Moreimages

Despite a resolution to the contrary, this blog has pretty thoroughly remained an image-free zone for the most part of january.

Not that there's anything wrong with good old plain text, but an occasional photograph would definitely spice up the page.

In the absence of any local images, Worth1000 has hosted yet another good contest: among the dozens of anachronistic images are some true pearls, such as pairing Oliver Hardy with the naggingest wife of them all as well as the Beatles crossing Abbey Road on Segways. Of course, the usual warnings apply: the crop is of an uneven quality and there's quite a bit of repetition (there's only so many times the idea of a modern tank in the civil war seems fresh) among the authors.

28.1.2006 / 23:32 EET | permalink | | blog


24, season 4, one third down

The fourth season of 24 has been exceeding expectations for most of the time during the first eight hours of the storyline.

First of all, mtv3 is showing two episodes per week, which naturally increases the pace of the story. And the pace has not been slack lately, several major plot devices have already been seen and even closed.

The fictional CTU seems to be one of the most dysfunctional workplaces in the world. Indifference and enmity seem to be the order of the day, not to mention the frequently encountered moles. The personnel has seen a few changes since the last season - and most of them for the better. Especially Kim Bauer's absence does the show a lot of good, the believability of the world's most accident-prone girl was strected too thin during the first few seasons.

Jack Bauer keeps resorting to violent methods over and over again, and the scenes with torture seem well-placed after the reality show in Abu Ghraib (and probably in quite a few other undisclosed locations as well). Arabs are (again, like in the second season) the villains of the tale, but it's likely that the conspiracy will be uncovered in an onion-fashion, with other groups being revealed as the 9mm retirement options are liberally distributed.

28.1.2006 / 21:20 EET | permalink | | television


Disney bought Pixar

This deal was rumored for a couple of weeks, but still somewhat of a surprise when it went through.

After all, in ten-odd years Pixar had established a thorough chokehold on the animation-front. While the other players (such as Dreamworks with Shrek) were successful as well, their output, bot quality- and business-wise never achieved the same level of consistency.

Disney's own animation production has been in doldrums for a long while - recent releases such as Home on the Range didn't excite the punters nearly as much as classics like Lion King and Aladdin. So the deal was probably a last straw approach for Disney, especially when their own first CGI-feature slunk in with a none-too-promising score of 48 in metacritic.

28.1.2006 / 10:19 EET | permalink | | movies


Those long Dubrovnik nights

Major office party in Dubrovnik lounge. Good food, plentiful good company, a great movie and several sessions worth of accompaniment by a good band, what more could you ask for.

Escaped with minor damage only, as got hastily bored in the nachspiel in (once again) Bakers. Somehow that place's just not compatible with me.

28.1.2006 / 10:10 EET | permalink | | haircut


Veni, vidi, re-imaginati

Never doubt the power of a good parody to undermine the best-laid plans of mice and men. It took less than a day before the overly moralistic anti-piracy comic funded by the perpetually clueless copyright advocates had been skillfully remixed into a much more believable, yet smugly twisted spoof.

And it's not bad as a comic either (from a technical standpoint). Anssi Rauhala's been known to be a skillful pen-wielder from the early days of Kapteeni Hyperventilaattorimies in Tähtivaeltaja.

26.1.2006 / 22:40 EET | permalink | | comics, copyright


We need to talk about your TPS reports

Saw Mike Judge's Office Space on sale the other day. And refrained from buying despite having been hankering for a copy for a long time.

Why?
Because a Special Edition is out and about. Not that there's much difference inbetween this and the vanilla version, but the five deleted scenes are hopefully worth the extra effort and price.

It's been a while since the last fight against recalcitrant printer-machinery, but not so long that the ritualistic massacre of an evil fax machine wouldn't still be appreciated.

Human beings were not meant to sit in little cubicles staring at computer screens all day, filling out useless forms and listening to eight different bosses drone on about about mission statements.
Peter Gibbons

Oh yes, I so need to watch this movie again.

26.1.2006 / 20:35 EET | permalink | | movies


Alphabet Art

The last untranslated Tintin-album finally made it to a finnish edition, as the 24th album Tintin and Alph-Art was published this week.

The publication omission may seem curious, the albums have been steady sellers for decades. That is, until the last volume is picked up and browsed. It is very much an unfinished product, with most of the pages filled with pencil sketches and snippets of dialogue. Hergé worked on the book until his death in 1983, and it was posthumously published a couple of years later.

I bought the book in french a few years back, but have never got around to reading it (and it's by no means the only comic book waiting for me to pick up studying french again). The finnish version is an update from the original edition, and is supplemented by further material (such as an ongoing typewritten narrative on alternate pages - the original only had Hergé´s scribbled text) than what was originally available in 1986.

Pirate editions, with finished artwork, of the album exist, and I've even seen a finnish version thereof available on the web. It was located on a slow server, and the translation was suboptimal, hence I never bothered to browse beyond page four. But now's the time to curl up on the sofa and read the last pages of the uncrowned master of adventure comic.

26.1.2006 / 20:25 EET | permalink | | comics


Norman Spinrad's "He Walked Among Us" available in shareware

Norman Spinrad has been one of my favorite authors for a long while. He captured a place in the all time top 10 with his post-cyberpunk Russian Spring, and has remained there since. While his late output has been rather genre-hopping and not that highly thought of, I've been looking out for a complete set of his books (and short stories as well, since those tend to be even less restrained than the longer form products).

He got into a major fight with his publisher about his biggest book to date, He Walked Among Us, which is either a show business satire or straight science fiction, depending on the reader's perspective. The fight got so severe, that the book was published first in Germany, and languished for years without an english edition. An odd electronic release was followed by a print edition by eReads.com, and the small number of printed books was quickly consumed.

For quite a while the author himself has offered the book for download, unfortunately in the .rtf format. Expected payment is mere five dollars, and even that is doable via paypal.

I will download it, pay for it, convert it to pdf-format and look for a print-on-demand service in Helsinki. I know there used to be one such in Lasipalatsi, but haven't paid any attention to it lately. Why bother with a physical edition, I can hear a hundred souls querying silently? Well, it's close to 700 pages in length and I prefer my books as tangible objects and not something browsed on a laptop screen.

26.1.2006 / 20:11 EET | permalink | | books


Blini x 4

Yet another corruption dinner. This time enjoyed the blini-week's output in restaurant Lasipalatsi in the very center of downtown Helsinki.

Decided to go for the as many blini you can eat dish, with six toppings for maximal variety.

The blini were good, and the toppings plentiful - ranging from the classic roe and pickles/honey to mushrooms and reindeer. Despite their deceptively small size, the blini are quite filling. Managed almost four. Almost, in the sense that decided that some room must be left for the dessert.

Which was yet another strangely twisted variant of a classic, crème brûlée that had some crushed spruce sprouts in the mix. The basic taste was too strong, there was an occasional hint of something foresty in the yellow goo, but it was not pronounced at all.

The meal was definitely a good price at 23 euros, and the popularity is reflected in the almost consistently sold-out status of the evenings, and so the maître d' advised us to book a table in advance if we have a hankering for more. I'm sure I will, one of these days.

26.1.2006 / 19:38 EET | permalink | | restaurant


How to order wine

Waiterrant has a nice guide on how to order wine.

It's a decent guide, but there are definitely other rules and corollaries that apply to the ordeal.

n. When in doubt, delegate. But never, ever complain about the suboptimal choice the volunteer made. You had your chance and chickened out.

n+1. Don't be an ABC-bozo. It might be cool to resort to "anything but chardonnay/cabernet"-cliches, but it's not worth it. Unless you're desperate for strained laughter from tablemates.

n+2. Buying by the glass is OK. Unless the restaurant sells by the bottle. Don't try this in Italy.

n+3. Never spill red wine. And never, ever send the laundrybill to the restaurant if you do.

n+4. Anything that's successful in a testdrive by hesari will be sold out the same day. Unless it's available in industrial quantities.

n+5. No matter what Sideways says, Merlot is not a terrible choice, and Pinot Noir is not always divine.

24.1.2006 / 20:51 EET | permalink | | .misc


Four Things

Long time, no meme. Rectified with this, picked up from Visa Kopu.

Four jobs I've had in my life

  • Handyman's assistant.
  • Jack of all trades in engineering telecommunication platforms.
  • Book translator.
  • Packer.

Four movies I can watch over and over

  • Dazed and Confused.
  • North by Northwest.
  • Donnie Darko.
  • Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

Four places I have lived

  • Meilahti, Helsinki.
  • Vapaala, Vantaa.
  • Salt Lake City, Utah.
  • Haaga, Helsinki

Four TV shows I love to watch

  • Twin Peaks.
  • Spaced.
  • Auf Wiedersehen, Pet!
  • Deadwood.

Four places I have been on vacation

  • San Francisco, California.
  • Barcelona, Spain.
  • Kyoto, Japan.
  • Kopervik, Norway.

Four of my favourite dishes

  • Good steak, medium-raw, with potatoes.
  • Unagi nigiri.
  • Chips and fresh salsa with lots of cilantro.
  • Toast, browned lightly and piled with the works.

Four websites I visit daily

Four places I would rather be right now

  • Asleep.
  • Sauna.
  • Lapland, watching the aurora borealis.
  • Eating a good dinner.

Four bloggers I am tagging

Nah. Not gonna bother.

24.1.2006 / 20:35 EET | permalink | | haircut, meme


West Wing cancelled

Well, this was to be expected after Jed Bartlet's tenure ran out.

Really liked the first three seasons, wasn't too adverse to the fourth and fifth season where the plots started wavering, and went back to "really liked" with the sixth.

But the death one of the lead actors (John Spencer, whose character suffered a heart attack as well in the beginning of the sixth season, but recovered) was a blow that the show never recovered from. Too bad. I don't think the Geena Davis-fronted equivalent soon to premiere on finnish screens as well will be an adequate replacement.

24.1.2006 / 20:21 EET | permalink | | television


Short Bus rides to Detroit

Finally, one of the most reliable short yard gainers ever, Jerome Bettis, makes it to the superbowl. In Detroit, his hometown. And capping a season where he wasn't exactly the first, second or even third rushing choice for the Steelers.

But despite the less than lofty beginning of the season he has now scored a touchdown in all three playoff games. And pretty much cemented his eventual entry into the football Hall of Fame.

Steelers played an efficient game against the Broncos, haven't yet watched the Seahawks beating the Panthers, but according to reports, it wasn't boring to watch either. So, here's looking for an entertaining bowl on the fifth of february.

(Yeah, I ran Bettis in both this year's and the previous year's Yahoo! football league. Despite being both carried by his achievements and dismayed on his less than good days, there's just something right about a guy who, in his 14th professional season just keeps ploughing through defenses, unhampered by three inches of snow on the ground.)

24.1.2006 / 20:06 EET | permalink | | sports


Heating up

From -22 to -8 in just 3 
hours

As noted in the attached temperature gauge stolen from the pages of the finnish meteorological institute, the temperature was far from a constant thing today.

At its quickest, the temperature climbed from -22 to -8 in some three hours, which is plenty quick in my book.

Did stay above zero, which means that mr. Slush stayed away. Which is always a bonus. The rest of the week the weather's predicted to be less wintry, with temperature hovering around -5. Still decent, but not as great as the two bright days of arctic glory.

23.1.2006 / 20:44 EET | permalink | | weather


NFL conference finals on tv

Whoo! MTV3+ (the digital channel) shows not just one, but BOTH NFL conference finals today. Live. With the original commentary, and not the usually lame finnish offering.

Whoo indeed. Will watch the first game, and record the second to be consumed at leisure later.

Too bad I don't really like any of the remaining teams. With both Niners and Colts out of the picture, my only wish is to have as high-scoring and entertaining games as possible.

22.1.2006 / 19:19 EET | permalink | | sports, television


Matka '06

Visited the annual Helsinki travel fair. Only walked through the non-domestic hall, and that was quite on the large side by itself.

Bought no trips, most of the airlines were selling cheap-o flights whose last usable day is the mayday eve, and I was looking for something to use in may. Oh well, I'm sure they don't stray too far from the current prices (both DC and Edinburgh sounded very interesting as targets).

Grabbed a bunch of brochures, but apart from the lemur-visiting trips to Madagascar offered by quite a few local agents nothing really stood out.

22.1.2006 / 17:44 EET | permalink | | travel


Proper winter

Awright. It's been below -20 for several days now (and that's below zero for the folks scoring temperature on the fahrenheit scale).

And not only has it been really cold, but the weather's been quite amicable otherwise as well. Snowfall has turned Helsinki into a white city, the frozen sea now pumps no humidity in the air, and sun's been shining. A lot.

Mamma Gaia is supposed to turn up the heat today night, and tomorrow's expected temperature is a puny -1C. Right now it's -22 in Haaga, so it'll be an interesting bit of hot air that turns this arctic weather into such balm.

22.1.2006 / 9:45 EET | permalink | | weather


IQ-test (not really)

This online-test is supposedly mensa-originated (at least the domain name points in their general direction), but seems quite well-tied to christian anglosaxon culture as opposed to measuring abstract intelligence.

And yes, I don't believe the "get 19 and you're, like, a genius"-bit either.

21.1.2006 / 18:20 EET | permalink | | meme


Middle-of-the-week links

For amusement purposes only.

  • A calendar that shows when comics/graphic novels will be out. Missing a lot of publishers, but definitely better than nothing.
  • Dissection of one of the most chaotic football games ever. Too bad it's missing live footage.
  • Hacking Matter sounds like a cheerful hobby.
  • Pictures of traditionally non-cute animals. Nothing too severely phobia-inducing (unless you're lutraphobic or equivalent), and the caustic commentary serves as a functional reality anchor.
  • Long, and I mean really long and entertaining review of two books about google. From London Review of Books, which I've tried out in hard copy, but found boring in galactic proportions. Maybe this article is just a singular stroke of luck.

19.1.2006 / 23:15 EET | permalink | | links, comics, sports, books


W. in GUE

The second Gulf War as rendered in a mock-text adventure game.

Glorious. Some of the comments include bits that would by appropriate in the game as well. But you have to wallow through a trough of inanity to reach them.

19.1.2006 / 22:55 EET | permalink | | humor, interactivefiction


Aviator, 3.5 stars

Watched Martin Scorsese's The Aviator, yet another in a long line of movies I planned to see in a proper environment, but didn't.

It's not a bad movie at all. Entertaining for the most part of its 2.5 hour duration, with good visuals, decent cast and a script that reserves its best punches to almost the very end.

Leonardo di Caprio is great as the tormented Howard Hughes. Though the depiction of Hughes' fear of disease is way too underlined, but that's the script's fault. At least according to the (probably a wee bit embellished tales of) James Ellroy, Hughes was quite mad towards the end of his life, but whether he retained his manic ways from earlier days I have no idea. And the really weird bits of his life (obsessive-compulsive disorder-dominated hermitage in Las Vegas) are not shown at all.

The female bits of the cast vary from decent (Kate Beckinsale) to overexposed (Cate Blanchett as Katherine Hepburn) via underused (Gwen Stefani). Smaller male roles are well-cast as well, with Alan Alda as the outplayed dirty senator as the brightest spot. Willem Dafoe and the guy who played Mr. Data in Star Trek put in minor, but rememberable appearances.

Visually no holds are barred in the movie. The twenties/thirties Hollywood is recreated believably, and the eponymous aviation scenes are rendered with enough variety to prevent boredom from settling in.

But the movie never really engages the viewer. It's nothing more than a tale of a eccentric rich guy, without tying any bonds between the character and the audience. Hence the low score. It's been a while since I saw a movie that was as interruptible as this one.

19.1.2006 / 22:47 EET | permalink | | movies


Chinese Democracy?

Ooh, could the silence finally be breaking?

A fellow devotee of the long wait provided a link to a Rolling Stone story, which is pretty explicit in stating that Axl and the boys will publish Chinese Democracy this year. This is, of course, not the first time when there's been a strong date given to the release, but this is the first from the sole remaining gunner.

19.1.2006 / 22:11 EET | permalink | | music


My Web3.0 can beat up your Web2.0

Ran into a tag called "web3.0" somewhere on sunday. Or maybe I was just seeing things, and putting them together in highly unexpected and incorrect ways. It was indeed that kind of a morning.

Anyway, turns out that the ever-useful usability site Alistapart has turned a wickedly funny entry about the insane vigor that the new web has been grappled with.

I am still discovering features of Flickr. Not new features-old ones. You find some by clicking in empty white space. This is like reading the news by pouring ACME Invisible Ink Detector on all pieces of paper that cross your path until you find one that has words on it.
Jeffrey Zeldman

Yes, I'm a big fan of flickr as well, and I do like some of the snappy and useful next-gen sites. But slightly increased usability (while losing out important abilities like bookmarking application state) is hardly worth the hysteric hoopla that is approaching the Bubble2.0-companies.

(And yeah, had to google for the "Web3.0"-term, and it was in existence well before it broke the news threshold yesterday. So scratch that proposition of hallucinating on a sunday morning. Or that of thinking up a whole new and appropriatelyt ironic new term. Shame. On both counts.)

17.1.2006 / 23:40 EET | permalink | | web


Back to normal

The first wind of the winter blew from the north, and it had ice and rime on its breath.
It was dirty and sharp and it cut like a razor...
Neil Gaiman, Sandman #14

Where "normal" is equal to "cold" as is common in mid-january. "Cold" as in "I really missed my beanie walking home the one and half miles from work".

Not really connected to the weather report, but interesting reading nonetheless: Ilmastonmuutosblogi tackles the warming from a decidedly green perspective. Worthwhile reading even to a non-practicing climate-change sceptic like me.

17.1.2006 / 22:00 EET | permalink | | weather, links


Conan Halonen makes it to CNN

The odd endorsement from Conan O'Brien in the ongoing finnish presidential election made it to CNN today.

While I don't really think this is going to swing the vote one way or the other, the real media-massacre would ensue if the remaining candidates would be paired off in Uutisvuoto next saturday. But I guess the finnish electoral legislation means that such a battle of wits will not happen.

17.1.2006 / 00:38 EET | permalink | | politics


Copysteal

Tekijänoikeuskaappausten valvontakeskus is a site that lists the actions taken by unscrupulous companies, organizations and individuals to appropriate a copyright to something the entity has no right to.

In finnish only. Important and essential reading in the constant stream of FUD spewed by the increasingly clueless proponents of the recently upgraded finnish copyright law.

17.1.2006 / 00:15 EET | permalink | | copyrights


You slow, old man

Nelonen has been lucky with its recent acquisitions. During this, and the '05 fall season they've managed to pick up no less than the following: desperate housewives, lost, Deadwood and carnivále (and the new battlestar galactica remake, though it's nowhere near as important commercially).

Big releases all. Launched with a lot of hype. Set off to an expectant audience.

To an audience that can flit away from the screens easier than ever before.

Why? Early access to the material, that's why. And I'm not referring to p2p-tv, but boxed sets of the series. Both Deadwood and the housewives are already out as localized releases, all five are trivially available as imports. As imports from R2, so no fiddling with region codes is needed. Of course the lack of finnish subtitles is going to deter some potential buyers, but that's a risk the importers are willing to take.

Where will this all lead?

Diminished viewer count?
Not likely, since apart from finnish comedy shows, boxed sets of tv programs have not been big hits over here.
Spoilers at the watercooler?
Definitely, there's always somebody who just cannot shut up about the forthcoming plot twists.
More sales for cheap 80s tv shows badly shoved on dvd?
Without a doubt. There's always somebody whose old Magnum PI-habit needs a fix. Right here, right now.
Lack of interest from the broadcasters to purchase good shows when they're young, and instead fill the channels with reality-tv...
Unknown. While on the other hand reality-tv is cheap, and it's proven to be very sticky on the viewers, good shows just keep coming to Finland. A lot of them just happen to be misplaced in the schedule, or zip past unannounced (Spaced, to list an obvious member of the list).
Increase in p2p-traffic?
It'll be a while before the second season of eg. Lost makes it to the dvd, and the most addicted will sate their curiosity with whatever means available.

And yeah, do check out the remake of Galactica. Despite the fact that they will not show the two-hour pilot/miniseries. Quality science fiction, which is way too rare these days.

16.1.2006 / 23:46 EET | permalink | | television


Colts eliminated

Very late in an eventful game veteran kicker Mike Vanderjagt missed an opportunity to tie the game at 21 with a 46 yarder. But it wasn't to be, as the kick swung wide right. Quite an inconvenient time to miss. To shoot for the understatement of the week-award.

So both Colts and their perennial nemesis, New England Patriots, are both gone from the playoffs.

Steelers smothering defense did the trick obviously, shutting down Indy offense for the most of the game. But it was an entertaining game nonetheless, with lost fumbles, interceptions and rulings overturned all in place.

Bah. Now that my favorites are gone, let's hope for a shootout in the superbowl as opposed to two tight defenses clashing (which might just happen if it's Pittsburgh Steelers and Chicago Bears that meet in Detroit).

15.1.2006 / 23:24 EET | permalink | | sports


And we're off to a second round

Despite surprising grassroots support from the king of late night talk shows, Conan O'Brien, Tarja Halonen, the incumbent, did not secure enough votes to beat the competition in the first round.

Looked worrisome when the preliminary votes were calculated (she held 49.6% of the total), but votes cast today changed the numbers for the better.

So, we'll see which way the country turns in two more weeks.

15.1.2006 / 21:38 EET | permalink | | politics


Voted

Cast my 1/4500000th of democratic expression. Painless as usual. Though the powers that be had changed the voting venue in Haaga.

And am definitely not going to spend the evening checking the results.

Except to ensure that we ARE getting a second round when no one candidate is able to score 50% of the populat vote.

15.1.2006 / 11:55 EET | permalink | | haircut, politics


Class reunion

Of a decidedly non-bloody variety, to misquote Molly Hatchet.

Amazing how little people change in one and a half decades.

15.1.2006 / 02:26 EET | permalink | | haircut


Worthy blogs and a tiny local cleanup operation

A few that seem interesting enough to warrant a second look.

  • UBERKOOL is the most eh... sub-optimal name for a small eternity. But in the age of content being the king, this one cannot be passed by. Interesting topics, good analysis thereof. Will return.
  • There's never enough time to read all the interesting books. Kirjasuositteluja will aggregate reviews from readers. Which may be a good thing, or not. There's no accounting for taste. Good or bad.
  • Long tail is a concept I very much support - good things are good things even when they're old, outmoded and out of print. Chris Anderson, the originator of the term is completing a book about it for later publication. And trying out concepts and spotting media references in a related blog.
  • Ball of Dirt is an aggregator of travel-related blog entries. Will come in useful once the travel bug bites start needing acute treatment.
  • Voivod, one of the criminally under-appreciated bands of all time is in studio recording their eleventh album. The progress is documented in a blog. (And nope, I'm not a total rabid fanboy, not all of their albums are worthy of a classic-stamp; just the best few).

Incidentally, the entry numbering in Lavonardo headquarters got screwed up, this creatively renumbered entry picks up the slack. Do not worry about the missing entries. They are nothing like the missing 18 minutes of Watergate tapes. Yes, I am thinking about plunging into the waters of a properly managed blog, database backend and all. Thinking, not doing, for the time being.

14.1.2006 / 14:09 EET | permalink | | blog


Gromit's picked up Bad Habits

Just experienced the very first (and hopefully the only) utter lock-up of the iBook. The Beachball of Doom happily kept spinning on screen, and application selection seemed not to work at all, and the offending program (firefox was active at the time of the jam-o-moment) could not be force-quit from the dock either.

No idea what kinds of post-mortem tools there exist for OS X, and how they could be used. And I don't really intend to find out, either.

13.1.2006 / 21:45 EET | permalink | | gadgets


New Apples

Well, the regularly scheduled St. Jobs worship session is over for the time being. And idle speculation on what's going to be released can be shelved for the following few months.

The intel-CPU based iMacs look powerful indeed, and it seems that a dual-boot windows machine is out of the question at least until Windows Vista makes it to town, the new machines happen to use Intel's brand-new BIOS replacement, EFI (extensible firmware interface), for which there's no support from Redmond. Linux, on the other hand, probably slithers onto the machines quite easily. But, as the OS X is a full-blown UNIX, what would you use yet another UNIX variant for?

The new laptops pack a lot of power as well, but the name "MacBook Pro" just won't be catching on like the perennial favorites iBook and PowerBook. Bad marketese, definitely.

Software-wise there's nothing truly earthshattering. I will, like any good Tiger-owner, pick up the 10.4.4-update. iLife does not seem too exciting, iWork on the other hand might come in handy in those few occasions when a proper office program is needed. The new iTunes has been claimed to be spyware, and the claims have been defused almost immediately.

No new iPods were released, and the remote/FM-tuner does not work on my ancient 4G-machine. Too bad, the radio-bits in the updated on-board software looked nifty.

13.1.2006 / 21:30 EET | permalink | | gadgets


Your culture increases

Stumbled into the sale in the akateeminen today. Crowded, and not very enticing.

However, spotted a selection of Ian M. Banks' novels. And bought no less than three of them, one of which turned out NOT to be a culture novel (that is to say, a novel set in his culture-universe). But it's still published with an "M." in the author's name, so it's sci-fi and not proper literary fiction.

Been reading Shakespeare's Hamlet for ages. And I do mean ages, as in several months - an irresponsibly slow page rate. The story just simply does not agree with me. Neither the tiny font, nor the long soliloquys in ye olde english make the experience truly enjoyable. But I figured it's better to read and understand the motherlode before moving on to Rosencrantz & Guilderstern are Dead. And if all else fails, the web-equivalent of cliff's notes is just a single click away.

12.1.2006 / 23:11 EET | permalink | | books


Mai Thai, seemingly not worthy of all the accolades

(Yet another late entry.)

Had a dinner in Mai Thai on monday. The place's been praised every which way in the local media for the last foo years. I beg to differ, while the food was good, it was nothing special.

Appetizer was more than decent, and very promising of things yet to come - shrimp soup that was hot, extremely hot. And plentiful, these bowls are quite voluminous indeed.

Main course was a letdown. Mixed seafood seemed to consist mainly of bell pepper slices, as there were two chunks of squid as well as mussels and shrimp in proportions that normally would cause cries of anguish from the local wwf-residents. Spice-wise the main course was a distant second to the appetizer, even though they nominally had the same amount of hotness.

Dessert (icecream and coconut milk) was OK, as was the Singha beer on offer.

The place's quite popular, the six or so tables were packed the whole time, and the waiters were hard pressed trying to dissuade additional customers from barging in.

I've heard many good things about the place, so I'm willing to put this experience down to bad luck. And will try again, definitely. The menu's wide, the place's location is about as good as you can get. Just have to settle down and make an uncharacteristic table reservation or strike lucky on a random entry.

12.1.2006 / 23:02 EET | permalink | | restaurants


Shipping shirts at the speed of light

The two shirts I just ordered from threadless arrived today.

Six days from shipment. That's plenty fast in my book. And that included a brief perusal by the finnish customs. Via USPS, so can't but praise their service here.

11.1.2006 / 23:00 EET | permalink | | t-shirts


Nokia 770, persistently a no-show

Well, like the entry equal to the number of the beast, this baby was marked from the very beginning.

The nokia internet tablet, known to the hoi polloi as the 770, is still not generally available in Finland. Neither in shops nor in the Nokia's web store. According to unreliable reports, it is available in the states, but how widely - that is not really explained.

Why would I want one and why wouldn't I?

  • The battery life is supposed to be on the non-optimal side (and having been a Palm user since 1997 three hours does not really cut it). But then again, I misplaced my T3 a long while back, and haven't really seen fit to go for a new one. So the PDA era is probably over.
  • The screen I'm kind of ambivalent on, while it's bigger than a PDA and reasonably bright - it's no contest comparing that to a laptop. On the other hand, the dimensions of the device dictate that it's much more easy to lug around than a laptop. Small though gromit is, its presence pretty much demands a backpack.
  • As a PIM-device the 770 is probably more than decent. However, the series 60 phones (despite the quality issues of the pc suite) are head and shoulders above this. And you don't need an extra phone for convenience. Wisely, Nokia does not even market the device as a pure PDA.
  • Keyboardswise this obviously has a disadvantage over its adversaries. Graffiti (the first instance thereof, of course) is second nature to me, I tend to draw "v"-letter right to left even with a pen. Thousands of SMSes have locked my fingers to just knowing how many taps of the seven-key is equal to a "q". And with Nokia's embracing of both butterflies and blackberries with its recent business line entries, an integrated keyboard is clearly becoming a common feature.
  • Development-wise the device is hard to beat. It runs linux after all, and a very decent cross-development environment is already available. None of the platforms has a development-bar set truly high, but all of them have their own peculiarities, be it the language (objective c on the os x), operating system weirdness (symbian and palm) or the lack of free tools (c++ development on symbian used to need a commercial compiler, though this has probably changed for the better a long time ago).
  • The amount of software on any is almost a constant. You got your ssh clients, browsers and all tools of the trade of the early 21st century. On the palm and s60 fronts a lot of the tools carry a cost. Usually not a significant one, but having been exposed to the wonders of truly free software in the linux world, it's definitely a shock having to shell out ten euros for a trivial tool. Especially when a lot of these applications do not have serviceable demos, but you have to buy almost blind. However, the other devices have a long history behind them, meaning that developers have whittled out the stupidest mistakes already. With the 770 even basic browsing is supposedly an activity that threatens the stability of the device. Which is not good, and will probably be rectified soonest.
  • As a gaming machine the 770 is probably middle of the road. While no commercial games are likely to stream out of EA and other giants, it's bound to inherit all kinds of virtual machines and emulators, as the CPU has enough cycles to spare to play the part of an extinct Nintendo console. The dedicated games machines (PSP, DS, GBA) are on a completely different field, being almost entirely supplied by commercial vendors. Though a homebrew scene exists on each, it's in very much of a minority. So the choice really degrades to selecting between nethack and the newest installment of Madden/FIFA/other faceless sports franchise.
  • Connectivity is great in the 770, with built-in wi-fi functionality, and bluetooth for those awkward moments when you've just got to get a bit of surfing done.
  • As a mobile entertainment device it's hampered by its short battery life, but watching movies on this is bound to be a better experience than on the PSP, as the screen is quite a big bigger.

So... Will I get one?

Don't really know. While the screen is pretty indeed, and the connectivity great, I'm not really sure I need one. An opinion that's bound to change once the real killer applications roll in. But by that time the production capacity ought to be increased to an acceptable level.

10.1.2006 / 22:57 EET | permalink | | gadgets


Even hundreds

Taking a que from Visa Kopu, here's a !(id%100) dump of the blog's entries thus far.

The 100th entry [29.7.2004] was written under the influence of jet lag.

The 200th entry [7.11.2004] was all about having attended a weird chronically misplaced Halloween party and seen the very second gig of a friends' band.

The 300th entry [16.2.2005] was written when it was clear that the NHLPA would carry out their threat and wipe out the hockey season.

The 400th entry [30.4.2005] was a meme. An alphabetical overview of the browser's recent history.

The 500th entry [6.7.2005] was quite a happy one. The EU parliament had just turned down software patents with an almighty majority.

The 600th entry [12.9.2005] is a review of Rule of Four, one of quite a few mystery novels breezed through in the lazy days of summer.

The 700th entry [21.11.2005] contains some decent phone camera pictures from a day trip to sunny Kirkkonummi.

10.1.2006 / 21:41 EET | permalink | | blog


LED keyboard soon available

The awesome optimus keyboards will be availabe in february.

No exact answers about price or resolution.

Yes, resolution. Each key in the keyboard consists of multiple LEDs, and thus the keys can reflect the state of the shift key, or actually show what a given key does in the current application.

Didn't think that this would materialize this soon.

8.1.2006 / 21:41 EET | permalink | | gadgets


Links

The usual disclaimers apply. All safe for work.

  • Last year in lists. Tons and tons of lists.
  • Flipperitutka shows the extremely few pinball machines currently residing in Helsinki.
  • SeatGuru takes out the random element of seat selection in airplanes. I will consult this before the next transatlantic flight.
  • A beginner's guide to setting up a reef aquarium is yet another fine product hosted by the folks at the premier finnish fishkeeping site.
  • Twenty-sided fuzzy dice. Carrying these would not exactly pimp anyone's ride.

8.1.2006 / 21:32 EET | permalink | | links, games, travel, fishkeeping


Davidbrent at six o'

Surprisingly enough, I'd never seen the second season of the genial BBC comedy The Office. Picked that up from a sale on saturday.

And decided to watch the first season again before leaping into the new material.

Did not recall how wickedly cruel the characterizations were. Despite the back cover advertising them as being familiar from work, I've been lucky not to have worked with or for anyone of the caliber. Some individuals come close, but fortunately not on the davidbrent-scale.

And I'd sure appreciate a snide remark if I turn out to exhibit behaviour that would fit in the show.

The annual christmas specials are sadly not included on the discs, but are, of course, available separately.

8.1.2006 / 21:24 EET | permalink | | television, work


Forthcoming movie year

Guardian published a nicely thorough preview of the cinematic offerings gracing the multiplexes (and dvd shelves after a further few months).

Highlights: Brokeback Mountain in january. V for Vendetta in march. The X-Men franchise has delivered thus far - and part 3 in may ought to, as well (even when Bryan Singer has abandoned the saga). In July Pixar's Cars is a shoo-in for a CGI-junkie like me, and I have moderate-plus hopes for the Johnny Depp-led sequel to Pirates of Caribbean. Richard Linklater's A Scanner Darkly ought to be good - it's one of Philip K.'s best stories, and being animated, even Keanu Reeves' presence should be unable to spoil the party.

The most dreaded event (which may turn into a surprisingly good movie) is the return of Inspector Clouseau in the Pink Panther prequel (out in march).

And probably there's a lot more to look forward to and avoid - but that's what the monthly Empire is all about. The best movies-related magazine just turned out its 200th issue, and shows no signs to slow down.

8.1.2006 / 21:09 EET | permalink | | movies


Liberty City Stories to be published for PS2

Sony PSP loses its one of its two worthwhile platform-exclusive games. The newest installment of the Grand Theft Auto franchise will be ported to PS2.

No proper reason given, but then again, finance-centred press releases often hold no great nuggets of wisdom.

8.1.2006 / 20:57 EET | permalink | | games


Site maintenance

Updated the lists of records and dvds for the first time in a long while.

Next up is the long-dormant Rosalogy. Which is missing an embarrassing amount of data.

7.1.2006 / 18:52 EET | permalink | | movies, records, comics


First order from threadless

Gave in. Ordered a first batch of shirts from threadless.com. Let's see how long their arrival takes, and what kind of interest mr. Customs Man has. Hopefully none at all, since mere two shirts do not break the barrier. No reprint of Carbon, still.

Hadn't checked out preshrunk in a long while. Site seems to be back on the beat after a few slow months.

7.1.2006 / 18:44 EET | permalink | | t-shirts


New (and old) blogs on the block

Some that I've found interesting enough recently.

  • Monen mutkan kautta exposes the suboptimal behaviour finns engage in in cabs.
  • Techcrunch for the looming Bubble2.0.
  • Typographica, because there's always more room for yet one more font.
  • Scobleizer, technology news from the "most networked man on Earth" (not my characterization). From a microsoftian perspective, so a few grains of salt have to be applied every now and then.

7.1.2006 / 18:21 EET | permalink | | blog


Joss Whedon and the future of television

A pretentious title, behind which lies a pointy column, not a bright treatise in which direction the medium is moving.

The observations are cruel, but spot on. Deadwood is a western that suffers from Tourette's syndrome.

7.1.2006 / 10:44 EET | permalink | | television


People with Photoshop and time

Cream of the crop of amusingly retouched pictures from 2005 at fark.com.

Not nearly all are good enough to warrant a position on the list (and it's a big page to load), some are downright horrible from both technical and articstic viewpoints. The first image on the page, a brilliant take on Carpenter's under-appreciated They Live, alone is worth a click.

7.1.2006 / 10:24 EET | permalink | | art


Hitchcock Blonde

(This is a late entry - saw the play last year already, but it's been a busy busy week.)

Capped off the year with a bit of culture at the very end. Saw the penultimate evening of Terry Johnson's Hitchcock Blonde in the Helsingin Kaupunginteatteri.

And ended up liking the show better than expected. The story is good, two un-interleaved tracks proceed concurrently. As are the characters, whose number is not that big. Combining the two is the dialogue, which was effortlessly written, and well-localized into the post-millennial finnish (I don't think the original text refers to Hennes&Mauritz).

The story plays multiple aspects in history of cinema. Usually the viewpoint depends on the speaking character, but roles tend to get twisted. Themes vary from good (picking up themes from the few serious interviews Hitchcock gave), to bad (equating movie enthusiasm with trainspotting).

The characters are effectively drawn, all with secrets that get unleashed during the two and a half hour the play takes. Some of the secrets are well-known in advance, some get decently foreshadowed, but a few turn up quite abruptly. The roles are filled out well. Mikko Kivinen is great as the appropriately repressed and corpulent director. Carl-Christian Rundman and Sanna-June Hyde play the movie restorers with clockwork precision. This leaves out only the eponymous Blonde. Not great, but by no means bad either. And full nudity does net some extra points.

Props are minimalistic, and used well, allowing for rapid scene changes inbetween the two narrative threads.

Been a Hitchcock fanboy for a long long while, so I probably was a dream audience member for the play. And appreciated it fully, to the extent of buying the program and looking up the script in amazon. Yes, it's available. Nope, haven't bought it yet. But will, soonish. And will also look for other plays by Johnson, this was a great introduction.

Would recommend, heavily. But from the Helsinki perspective it's too late already.

6.1.2006 / 00:36 EET | permalink | | culture


Maya - decent latin american food

Had a late dinner in Maya, a smallish restaurant on Rautatientori. They advertise themselves as a "latin american restaurant", no clue whether that's really a deserved moniker, but the menu seems to be rather bold in selections: from tortillas to chimichurri - so it's definitely not confined to a single contry's cuisine.

This was the third time in the establishment, two first ones having failed due to the good old "we're packed, maybe another time" excuse. Was full this time as well, scored a table after a minimal wait at the bar and settled in. Table was close to the door, so it allowed observation to a decent stream of hopeful patrons, most of whom found the half-an-hour wait for a table too long.

Food was decent - nothing too flashy. Several small appetizers, best of which turned out to be corncob with diable-butter. Main course was chicken in chimichurro, which, while decent, was a bit on the bland side. The jalapeños, on the other hand, turned out to be very feisty indeed.

Recommended. I'll look forward to a second visit, but not in the immediate future.

6.1.2006 / 00:11 EET | permalink | | restaurant


The best blonde-joke in the world

Can't beat this, can you?

4.1.2006 / 00:03 EET | permalink | | meme


He throws, he scores - a trio of NFL-things

Alex Smith finally threw a touchdown. In his ninth game. Not the best of a start for a guy who was thought to be the saviour of a franchise, but by no means the worst either. Still, unless there are major additions to the niners offese, he won't compete with the top-flight quarterbacks in next year's fantasy draft.

The first finn was signed on to NFL. Michael Quarshie will play for the Raiders next season, and Klaus Alinen is widely thought to be signing with the Falcons. Hopefully the finnish presence will entice the local channels to show games next season, these days the Superbowl is the only one. Even the commercial channels shy away from football, expecting the ad-turnover to be too low to bother.

And finally... Looks like Doug Flutie will be capping his career with a flash, just like he started. This time it's not a half-the-field hail mary as time expires. Nope, this time it's the first dropkick score in more than sixty years.

Kainalopallokorneri seems to be the best (and probably the only) finnish blog that concentrates on football, recommended for anyone interested.

3.1.2006 / 23:41 EET | permalink | | sports


Quality increases by some %

Added permalinks.

Re-linked all archives.

Fixed the blog and the main page to be legal XHTML.

Complain in the comments if any of the claims seems to be too bold.

3.1.2006 / 23:31 EET | permalink | | blog


24 back on

Jack Bauer is back. The fourth season began today. No idea how much off-sector he is this time, as I missed the first episode.

Thankfully subtv will re-show that on saturday.

And will in fact show two episodes in a row, as mtv3 has moved onto a twice-weekly schedule.

3.1.2006 / 23:24 EET | permalink | | television


First link batch of the year

In no particular order. Or of any particular use. Consider yourselves warned.

  • The real difference between Web and Web2.0.
  • T. Tex Tyler's classic "Deck of Cards" (better known as Korttipakka by Tapio Rautavaara in Finland) as applied to white collar slavery.
  • Selected output of the folks affected by the foot-in-mouth disease.
  • The father of the web has a blog.
  • O'Reilly seems to think that telephony is going to do some emerging in the near future. Should read, I guess.
  • A list of thirteen scientific things that make no sense.
  • Awesome nature photography site.
  • A five-step program for the soon-to-be ailing game industry.
  • An even hundred things you did not know a year ago. Some of these so british, I didn't have any idea about them even now.

1.1.2006 / 18:50 EET | permalink | | links, web, stupidity, art, games, news


Reason enough for a visit to NY?

Pixar: 20 Years of Animation-exhibit just opened. And closes on february sixth already. Without mention that it will move elsewhere.

Haven't been to NYC in a long while. But definitely would want to visit at a warmer time.

Saw the trailer for upcoming Cars, and it seemed to retain enough of the magic to be put on the "to see"-list immediately.

1.1.2006 / 18:34 EET | permalink | | travel, movies


2005, best of

Only positive things listed, no use recalling sucky issues.

Movie:
Sin City.
Book:
Mikko Rimminen: Pussikaljaromaani (yeah yeah, it's a 2004 book, but I read it in paperback.)
Album:
System of a Down: Mezmerize.
Song.
System of a Down: Old School Hollywood.
Comic:
Split:
Fables (new and great) /
V for Vendetta (old classic beautifully rendered in finnish.)
Restaurant:
Split: Barking Crab (Boston) /
Koto (Helsinki.)
Gig:
KMFDM in Tavastia.
Game:
Civilization IV
Athlete:
Split: Tommi Evilä /
Finnish ladies football team.

1.1.2006 / 18:24 EET | permalink | | annual, haircut


2005, in review

This is how I remember things. Which means that there's probably a few stray facts and loose interpretations. Not going to link to individual entries, browse the archives if really interested.

  • Went to the dark side. I'm officially no longer an engineer, rather than a manager.
  • Guns 'n Roses' Chinese Democracy did not appear.
  • Travelled far less than expected / desired. Did not enter Iceland in Reykjavik airport - merely passed through.
  • Found my inner Jamie Oliver on a couple of occasions.
  • Was one of the very few to appreciate the blogs published by Helsingin Sanomat.
  • Went OS X.
  • Updated the amplifier after a long struggle with noise.
  • Discovered the joy of old skool notebooks (Moleskine rules) after misplacing my T3.
  • Was way too lazy to consider really updating to a real blogging system.
  • Continued to appreciate the weekly hairy animal therapy sessions given by my sister's cats.
  • Got a camera phone finally. And was pleasantly surprised by the image quality.
  • Returned to the aquaria-owner fold.
  • Was quite thoroughly clotheslined by the copyright-related stupidities exhibited by the finnish parliament and Sony/BMG.
  • Failed to finish Hamlet, it's quite impenetrable reading in english.
  • Fulfilled new year's resolution #x (live music once a month).
  • Fulfilled new year's resolution #y (movie once a month), but only on averages - there were some months without cinema.

1.1.2006 / 18:10 EET | permalink | | annual, haircut