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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in foradan's LiveJournal:

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Wednesday, February 12th, 2014
8:18 pm
My daughter is a big fan of Frozen, and I have to read the book of the film to her on a regular basis (adding deliberate mistakes for her to correct).

Now at the climax, a foreign prince Hans, who is trying to take over the kingdom, tries to kill Queen Elsa, whose magic powers have frozen the kingdom (the Ice Queen). He is thwarted by Elsa's sister Anna. However what would have happened had he succeeded. I can think of two possibilities:

a) Elsa's magic survives her death. Hans ends up in a kingdom of permanent winter, all of whose inhabitants will freeze to death or leave.

b) The affects of Elsa's magic disappear when she dies. Hans is, however, standing in the middle of a frozen fjord, frozen by Elsa's magic.

Either way it is bad for Zathras Hans.
Monday, March 4th, 2013
1:25 pm
Saturday, December 17th, 2011
5:37 pm
So which film contains: Richard Burton, Laurence Olivier, Vanessa Redgrave, Arthur Lowe, Peter Woodthorpe, and Stephen Oliver? There are also many other well known actors in the cast.
Wednesday, July 28th, 2010
9:17 am
Thank you all for Birthday wishes. I had a very nice day. We are visiting my parents in Dublin at the moment, and we brought Meglorien and Narazinho to Glendalough for their first time. It is a very pretty valley with two lakes (which is what the name means) in the Wicklow mountains, where there was a very influential celtic monastery from the golden age of the Irish Church, of which the ruins remain. When we got home, my mother made a very nice supper, and then Narazinho helped me open my presents. Not all my presents have arrived yet. Meglorien is giving me a new camera as my old one has started giving 'Err 99' when we try to take photos with it. Does anyone else find that when one thing stops working, lots of other things do too? My laptop hard drive started failing just before we came away, and has been replaced at the shop ready to pick up when we get back (luckily the laptop was still under warrantee).

Today Meglorien and I are going out for supper and then to the theatre to see 'The Plow and the Stars', while my parents babysit for us.
Thursday, April 15th, 2010
9:49 am
We returned across the Atlantic just in time. Two days later and we wouldn't have made it home. Norway is currently being run from a VIP lounge in Newark airport where the prime minister is stuck (shown in a photo playing with his new iPad!). We changed there on Monday night. Our flight from there to Frankfurt probably arrived OK today (we flew far to the south of Iceland), but Oslo airport has been closed, and it looks like much of Europe's air traffic will be shut down as the ash moves southeastwards, seeing the affects on UK and Ireland already.
Saturday, January 16th, 2010
4:24 pm
Computer woes
At the beginning of December I was away for a work trip, followed by holidays. While I was away, there was a power cut (announced). meglorien was still here then, and rebooted our firewall/web/mail server computer, which didn't come up properly. So when I got back I tried, and found it seemed to be having problems with one of the partitions of the harddrive. I had a nasty cold at the time, so I just connected the wireless router as the internet gateway instead, providing our laptops (and phone) with a network connection. When I got back to trying to fix the computer I got it running from an Ubuntu Live CD and most of the computer seemed to be working fine, so I ordered a new harddrive (in case the old one was failing). Having installed that, and copied over the files OK, I tried setting it up as the internet gateway again, but it appears that the ethernet card that was being used for the outward connection has stopped working, so I need another new bit to get it working. With just the on board ethernet it can talk to the local network, or talk to the internet, but it needs an extra working ethernet card to be able to talk to both and be useful as a firewall gateway.

Our other non-laptop computer (which kept a backup of the gateway, and provided other services, such as DVD player) has not been working for a few months now. There is a motherboard problem with it.

Last monday I got to work to find the computer in my office not working. A new one is on order.

Don't let me touch your computer. Laptops do seem to be immune.
Wednesday, December 30th, 2009
5:56 pm
Home Again
Back home from Christmas in Lisbon. I came down with a nasty cold due to the cold indoors temperatures (buildings are designed to stay cold in the summer). I completely lost my voice in the evening of Christmas day. We did Christmas twice: Portuguese Christmas Eve supper and turkey for lunch on Christmas day. We also split the present opening into two sessions. We had lots of good food, and Narazinho had lots of attention, which allowed her mother and I to have some time to ourselves.

Due to staying in Berlin for a week before going to Lisbon, and the way plane tickets are priced, we had to fly back through Berlin and as there are no direct flights from Lisbon to Berlin, we had to change in Munich too! Munich airport is very efficient, and the staff always seem to be friendly and helpful. Lisbon airport managed to annoy us as usual, and neither airport in Berlin impressed us much, and we did have to visit both of them. There isn't even any direct transport between them. At least the Berlin transport ticket system is the usual Germanic one where one ticket does for all transport and any number of changes. So the bus to the Hauptbahnhof and the train out to the other airport didn't cost much.

In Lisbon it was around 15. In Germany around 0, and in Oslo: -15. Our flat was cold as the heaters had been off for 3 weeks. Since the other flats were still being heated it was still around +10-15, and not below zero. It is heating up, with all our heaters on, but it takes a while. I spent ages getting a net connection up again, and it is still not up in the way I normally have it.

Current Mood: cold
Wednesday, October 14th, 2009
2:35 pm
Installing software on new Laptop
The new laptop runs Snow Leopard (Mac OS X 10.6).

I have never intended to log in as guest, so I don't have to worry about the bug in the news.

Normal apps mostly install and run fine (though not aMSN).

Problems occur when I am trying to install libraries, and other shared objects. Versions available for download mostly support the ppc and i386 architectures, while OSX 10.6 supports i386 and x86_64 (aka amd64). On my laptop it will run the x86_64 version, and will then fail to load downloaded libraries. So I have compiled Python and python modules I want by hand and all the libraries that those python modules need, making sure I get an x86_64 or dual i386/x86_64 version of each. I wanted to have a version of pygtk using the native OSX version of gtk, but gtk+osx depends on the old Carbon graphics interface, which is not available as a 64 bit interface. Can I tell the OS to run python in 32 bit mode, since the executable contains a 32 bit version as well as the 64 bit version.

OpenMPI is useful to have for debugging parallel code. The 'configure' tool comes up with compiler flags that don't work, which I don't seem to be able to override, and fails to complete the configuration. I don't think I need to do any MPI debugging in the near future, so I am not going to try to debug the many 1000 lines of machine generated sh code that is the configure script.

I think I have got working versions of what I most need for now.
Sunday, October 11th, 2009
11:12 am
A Tale of Wasted Effort
Seven dwarves set off to seek their fortunes in a Haunted Swamp. They brought with them a small pack of war dogs, and a wagon filled with food, drink, logs, and an anvil. Upon arrival the miners started digging. They dug out some store rooms where all the supplies were stored, they dug into the chalk so that the masons could get busy, digging several rooms for various purposes. Then started working on a safe underground passage for visitors to their new dwelling to use, and even discovered some iron-ore. Meanwhile the farmers plowed an underground field and planted it with mushrooms, and one built a carpenters workshop in which some beds could be constructed. The masons built a wall around where they had started digging to protect them from the Harpys and Beak Dogs that were prowling the swamp.

Then my laptop crashed, and all their hard work was forgotten.

Current Mood: annoyed
Tuesday, August 4th, 2009
9:51 am
Why I would vote for the Pirate Party
If I had a vote.

I am a buyer of media. I buy DVDs, CDs, books, computer games (occasionally - many that I play are free), and have only resorted to the Pirate Bay on the occasion that the item I was looking for was unavailable for purchase.

My support for the Pirate Party would be because they are the only political parties (one per country) that are opposing certain policies that I very much disagree with. These policies seem to be a nasty workaround to a major flaw in the economic theory on which our economy is based.

Cut for lengthCollapse )

Current Mood: political
Thursday, July 30th, 2009
9:25 am
IEEE 754 Considered Harmful
IEEE 754 is a standard for representing floating point numbers on computers (floating point is equivalent to scientific notation for numbers).

Having a standard is good, as it enables different types of computers to read the same file of numbers.

Certain details of IEEE 754 are not good. When working out how to represent a numbers in a float (32 bit floating point number) or a double (64 bits) there were certain bit patterns that didn't represent a valid number. Some smart alec decided to make these official invalid number results, a couple of them represent positive and negative infinity and the others represent Not-a-number. The supposed advantage being that you (a) make use of unused bit patterns, and (b) things like division by 0 and (real) square root of a -1 are no longer errors, instead they return Inf or NaN values. Reducing errors should be a good thing. Except that you haven't reduced the error, just hidden it.

For numerical calulcations, IEEE 754 Inf's and NaN's are very bad for two main reasons:

(a) Debugging complex numerical calculations is inherently difficult. NaN's make it harder. When a calculation takes the square root of a negative number (eg a very small one that is supposed to be 0, but isn't due to the limited precision of floating point numbers) it is an error that needs to be corrected. When, instead of reporting the error, a NaN is created instead, you cannot tell where the error happened, instead you see a blotch of NaN's spreading through your calculation.

There is no standard way to switch this behaviour off. On Pentiums and compatibles, there are two separate units of the CPU which do floating point arithmetic, and I know how to change the behaviour of one of them (the older design) so that it reports errors, instead of generating NaNs. But, to make long calculations run as fast as possible, I generally use both units, or at least the faster one, where I cannot alter the behaviour.

(b) Modern compilers (which translate programs to machine code so that the CPU understands them) do quite a bit of processing to make sure that the program runs as fast as possible, known as optimising. One of the types of optimisation used, is replacing a + 0 by a, a * 0 by 0, and a * 1 by a. Unfortunately due to IEEE 754 this can only be done for integer numbers, and not floating point numbers, since NaN * 0 = NaN and not 0. Therefore optimisation will not work as well as possible for numerical calculations, which are some of the programs that need it most.

There is often a non-standard way to tell the compiler to do these optimisations anyway, ignoring IEEE 754, but that is a nasty work around for a bad standard.

I don't know of any case where this feature of IEEE 754 is actually used. Therefore it makes sense that IEEE 754 be changed to make this feature be an option for those who use it, rather than being compulsory and making the job of those who don't need it much harder.

Current Mood: ranting
Tuesday, July 28th, 2009
7:20 am
Thanks for all the Birthday wishes.

I celebrated my birthday this year by going back to work, after the end of my paternity leave. I could have taken a day's holiday, but a colleague of mine is moving to Zurich on Friday, so I need to be at work this week. While I was at work, meglorien did lots of tidying at home, and baked me a very nice birthday cake.

I got a very nice birthday card with Narazinho's hand prints on it (deliberately).
Wednesday, June 17th, 2009
1:11 pm
Happy Birthday...
... to Naquis

from Foradan, Meglorien and Narizinho
Saturday, May 30th, 2009
3:58 pm
Booking tickets failure
At one point on our trip to the UK and Ireland starting tomorrow, we need to get from the UK to Ireland. We plan to take the ferry from Holyhead. The UK National Rail website will tell us the times of the trains we need to take, and the price of a ticket (just like for any train trip within the UK). However they do not sell the tickets, and forward the user to one of the train operating companies websites for ticket purchasing (your choice). Unfortunately none of these sites know about Dublin as a valid destination.

Ok, so lets try the ferry website. They mention ferry and train tickets, and give prices, but they don't allow you to buy them on their web page, but they do give a phone number. The phone number is of course a UK free phone number, so that it does not work for me from outside the UK, despite the fact that all land-line calls to the UK are free for me! They don't give any other phone number or contact details.

Current Mood: frustrated
Wednesday, May 20th, 2009
9:01 am
We have an Eee. It is very light - good for a long trip with lots of travelling next month.

It is a 900, rather outdated, but it was cheap, very light, and we don't have to pay the Redmond tax (ie it runs Linux - a distribution named Xandros).

So, how well does it work?

The desktop background is a menu system with several pages of application icons. It talks Norwegian.
No terminal icon. - points.
Well, at least I can find /usr/bin/xterm with the file manager and run it.

It has a nice easy interface to connect to a wireless network. Hmm, when I type in my home WPA key and try to connect I get shell errors due to the spaces in the key. Hasn't anyone heard of quoting strings used in shell scripts for security? - points.

OK, it has an ethernet port, so I can connect it to the network that way. There is a software update utility, I can do a system update, and a security update - I think those look like good ideas. And there is a software download thing, I will install that. And it brings me to a ASUS web page listing packages I can install. Ah, I can find emacs (so I can now get a shell easily as well as having my favorite editor). Hmm, clicking on the install link downloads a small file which triggers an apt-get install. So it uses APT. + points.

Searching web pages finds a means to change the language. Now most things talk English, except the wireless network finder. I also find how to create an xterm icon on the background menu.

Eventually I get the wireless working. By changing the WPA key to avoid characters that the shell might interpret, and getting it right the second time I try typing it into the Eee.

Now what other software might I need:
python: yes - 2.4 is the default but it also has 2.5. + points
gcc: no - apt-cache says that it has gcc-4.1-base, but the gcc executable is not there - ahh, there is a gij executable installed, but the C compiler package is not available to be downloaded from the package database. - points.

Lets see... python reports it was compiled with gcc on Debian, which means that the package database might be a collection of Debian packages. Hmm, the version of gcc used to compile python looks suspiciously like the version in Debian/etch. So lets edit /etc/apt/sources.list and include the main etch package database. Yay I can install sgt-puzzles, even if not an up-to-date version. I won't give any + points for that. I don't think anything I gain through adding the real Debian package database to sources.list counts as a + point for Xandros.

It looks like Xandros on Eee 900 gets more - points than + so far. But at least I can make it useful. Perhaps I can upgrade the OS to use the Debian/Eee project stuff. But not before we travel, I don't want to risk getting it into a half-working state before then.
Thursday, February 19th, 2009
3:16 pm
This decade's climate in Oslo seems to mean that in a specific winter we either get too little snow (and sometimes lots of ice instead), or too much. This year is in the too much category. There has been so much snow here in the north of Europe that there was even some left over for the south of Britain this year.

Sometimes the snowfall has been so hard that even Oslo transport is affected. They are not running out of grit or salt here, but they are running out of space to put the snow that has been scraped off the roads. meglorien has complained that walking to the university is like walking along a beach (in that walking is more difficult), and feels that she is well past being ready for a change in the weather.

No prizes for guessing what the weather here is doing at the moment.
Monday, February 9th, 2009
2:00 pm
I have been nudged.

It is very pretty outside today. It is very snowy (we had lots of snow at the weekend - so much that even Oslo airport was closed for 6 hours), but it is also very cold (below -10 this morning), so I haven't been out. Especially as I feel like I am coming down with a bit of a cold today. I have been doing a little bit of various things this morning: housework, playing with and feeding the little one, generating some results that a referee asked for in a paper I am a co-author on, relaxing...

The little one has started using her hands more and actually interacting with toys to some extent (ie she attempts, sometimes successfully to put them to her mouth so she can lick them). She can grab things between her hands, such as the milk bottle when I am feeding her. She often seems to get frustrated that she can't do more, especially when put on her front - she has always had a great desire to crawl, but is not strong enough. She is getting stronger though, she can hold her weight on her legs, if she is held standing up, and can lift her head to face forward when lying on her front.
Friday, January 30th, 2009
1:13 pm
Gender Books Meme
Arggg, I have been tempted by a Meme.

List of books hiddenCollapse )
Monday, January 5th, 2009
5:36 pm
I just found an article on the web page of one of the main Norwegian Newspapers about Morris dance. The headline reads "English Folkdance in danger of dying out".

It is in Norwegian of course.
Saturday, December 13th, 2008
10:52 am
@%&*# PHP @*&%#
Whenever I have to write something in PHP I invariably get annoyed with it.

I am trying to use preg_replace to do regular expression replacement. The regular expression syntax defines various uses for the backslash character '\'. This character also has a meaning in PHP strings, so that I expect to have to use '\\' to get a backslash into the regular expression pattern. However, whether I use a single or double '\' I always get an error, usually: "Unknown modifier '\'".

So how do I code a backslash?
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