Dec 302007

WordPress Logo

So, three years, 2160 entries and far too many broken layout experiments later, the Lavonardo HQ finally moves to a proper blogging system.

The why’s pretty much established, maintaining a miscoded perl-based engine is not really as fun as proper authorship. The system failed to qualify as a bona fide therapy-project ages ago, and is thus abandoned (the other, more or less dormant blogs will follow suit sooner or later).

I wanted to try out something new, and WordPress seemed to be the king of the hill right now. Didn’t play with the alternatives, just picked the top dog. So things are by no means guaranteed to stay like this, but ought to stay stable for a while.

Technically the changes are not great, and not really visible to the viewers.

The blog is still hosted at louhi, albeit with a trivial extra cost of an additional MySQL database.

A complete archive of the old-format entries are available via the sidebar. And they may be converted into the new engine if its RSS-import is indeed as powerful and flexible as is claimed. Or a mesenate appears with promises of money and resources to do the work if it’s not.

Backups will need to be figured out sooner or later. At version 2.3.x, I’m pretty sure the engine can hold its own against the cruel world.

The layout will change. The theme was one of the least harmful offered, and will get tuned as defects or irregularities are discovered. The first eyesore: the text-widgets are not properly aligned in the left sidebar.

Dec 292007

Let there be lights.
We are go.
Houston, we have liftoff.
#include <cliché.h>

Or something.

This thing seems to actually work. Even though louhi’s web-administration tool doesn’t exactly agree with the installation instructions.

Dec 272007

From perusing the visitor statistics of the christmas season, noted that “fingerpori widget” appeared often.

No such beast exists right now, and to scratch someone’s itch, I put together a simple web-scraper for just that purpose yesterday evening. The javascript-exercise is simply called “fingerpori” and able to show the current strip from Helsingin Sanomat.

While primitive, it does what is needed, and did not keel over during the night. But I’m seriously doubtful about the application logic (conveniently nicked from another widget), and will take a somewhat serious look at the basics before release 1.0 becomes reality. Also, have to figure out whether xcode packs a version control system, or does Lynch need to pick up subversion or something like that.

(A Yahoo! widget and a facebook application to follow. Don’t hold your breaths…)

Dec 272007

Like Peyton Manning much earlier this year, I’m now a winner of a bowl game. A virtual one only, but a winner nonetheless.

No single player was consistently successful all season long. Despite three players (Brian Westbrook, Drew Brees and Derek Anderson) ending the campaign in the top ten overall, the season was by no means plain sailing – each and everyone of the top trio had awful games (and the RB/WR Westbrook even missed an entire game). I’ll put together a proper draft analysis. In january.

The keys to victory in the bowl game were Giants’ defense (with TWO picks returned for a touchdown) and Roddy White’s 140+ yard game to follow up on his terrible 4 yard effort the previous week. Marques Colston, the #1 receiver for Hakkapeliitat was hurt and produced a round zero in this game.

In other news: Niners won, as did the Patriots. It would’ve been too much to expect the 1 for 14 Dolphins to dethrone the New Englad juggernaut, but I sure have hope that the enlightened Giants can put up a good game next week. After all, if the Pats win, the amount of gloating from a perfect season never dies down (unless the team gets sent packing before the bowl, of course).

Browns and Saints both lost, and neither team featured any serious QB heroics this week. In the former case, the performance was quite contrary to that, as the previously very reliable Derek Anderson threw four interceptions.

One more week of regular season, and then the sudden death games begin.

Dec 262007

This week’s fiver concerns itself with ending.

1. Have you noticed that you keep running out of a particular product at home? What is it, and why do you reckon it’s just that single product?
Beer and toothpaste. No specific reason.

2. Have you been impressed by the ending of some book, movie or play?
Certainly… Sam Peckinpah’s Wild Bunch, the final episodes of the fifth seasons of Buffy and Angel. Dennis Lehane’s Shutter Island.

3. List all songs where “ending” is part of the name
Meh… Doors’ The End, Anthrax’s Be All, End All, Bullet for my Valentine’s The End. Sentenced has multiple “End”-derivatives, but cannot recall any exactly. Sabbat has End of the Beginning.

That’s a pretty lame catch.

4. What do you think ought to end as soon as possible?
The ongoing waiting for any snow in Helsinki.

Or the whole winter, if the previous wish cannot be accommodated.

5. Are you going to finish anything in the forthcoming days? Does this mean the beginning of something new?
Nope, nothing such planned.

Dec 262007

A scene of the christmas treeThree days of glorious vacationing done, all traditional, all too brief.

Black. Or greenish gray to be fully exact.

Plentiful. Ate a lot.

Literary. Read a lot.

Peaceful. Slept a lot. And pet cats many times.

While planning world domination on the side, of course.

Dec 232007

Someone at Apple seems to have had a very bad december thus far:

Exhibit A: first thinksecret shuts down following a settlement.

Exhibit B: then Fake Steve Jobs is hit with a second suit, the company hoping to silence another voice with money. And in a truly Kafka-esque moment, the plaintiff is threatened with loss of assets unless three bad entries in the blog are retracted, each one of them being more or less obvious (the “just a single button in the iPhone” hovering even near a real issue).

I’m betting on zealous lawyers, not company policy.

Lawyers whose bumbling actions will probably end up in the doghouse on account of massive amounts of bad publicity.

Dec 232007

Executive summary for Dreamworks / Aardman collaborative effort: quite good indeed, but not Ratatouille-caliber.

Pro: decisively anti-french, singing slugs, nicely realized sewer-world, not overly saccharine or morals-equipped, brimming with intertextuality.

Con: not much, though the some of the jokes do feel painted on. The lack of extras on the dvd is no fault of the movie, but is a wasted opportunity nonetheless.

Dec 222007

Today was officially the shortest day in Helsinki.

Snowless, it’s been pretty dark lately. But the weather’s been mostly on the collaborative side, and it’s been less miserable than it could have been.

First snow, and actual albedo. Then longer days. Sounds like an easy enough plan to follow.

Dec 222007

Encountered my very first truly broken dvd today.

The disc containing the last two episodes of the final season of Deadwood refused to co-operate at all in the Sony’s aging player and exhibited a scary majority of dropped frames when played on the Mac.

Mr. Swearengen and his cohorts have quite a few expressions that are appropriate in situations like this.

HBO’s customer support answered within the hour and acknowledged that a replacement disc will indeed be supplied free of charge. Which was nice. But not really useful right now, as the current disc is pretty much constrained to slideshow mode (with clippy audio and captions the only way to follow the story).

Dec 222007

The year is drawing to a close, and the “… of 2007″-lists are ubiquitous in the media.

The grandfather of any such lists is a meta-list collcted by Rex Sorgatz.

Some of the worthwhilest lists seen thus far are:

Dec 222007

Finished Dennis Lehane‘s short story collection Coronado yesterday and was rather disappointed in it.

Instead of sticking to the familiar Bostonian environment, the author has branched out to the deep south. Definitely an odd choice, considering well-crafted the environs have been in preceding output.

But it’s not the shift in location that’s problematic. Quite the opposite – occasionally Lehane manages to instill enough southern pathos (especially in the Running out of Dog that kickstarts the collection) into the proceedings to be comfortable.

No. It’s the quality of the included stories that is to matter. While some of the plots are almost digestable as-is, the twin inclusion of the titular tale (as a two-act play and plain prose) consumes a significant chunk of the book, and adds next to nothing.

This has severe shades of James Ellroy’s rapid descent – though no murdered parents are around this time. But I’m not that sure that pretensions of being a playwright are that a decent trade.

Having been very impressed by the Gennaro/McKenzie-saga and the subsequent independent novels, this was a grave disappointment.

Hopefully working on multiple movies has a positive effect on forthcoming novels. Worrisomely enough it would appear that the author is aiming for a “multi-part” historical novel, again drawing comparisons to Ellroy (to whose defense it must be said that the LA Quartet is top-notch).

Ben Affleck’s directorial debuttackles Gone, Baby Gone, but a far more interesting adaptation is Martin Scorsese’s Shutter Island, once again with Leonardo diCaprio in the lead role.

Dec 222007

A cloth voodoo doll for Internet ExplorerMore targets for the insatiably curious amongst the readers:

  • Internet Explorer’s not yet exactly reeling from the blows from superior browsers, so a few needles into a convenient voodoo doll would be appreciated.
  • A group blog by science fiction authors has tens of authors, but not much content yet. It features Charles Stross and Jeff VanderMeer, so it bears keeping an eye out for.
  • The Foja mountains in Papua yielded new discovered critters once again, this time a really big rat.
  • Yet another blog devoted on publicizing worthy advertisements cannot hurt.

  • According to the Forbes Fictional Fifteen, Scrooge McDuck is the richest individual. Too bad the image used of the bird in question is of very low quality. Simpsons’ Mr. Burns clocks in at #6, and Lucius Malfoy at #14. On the company side, it’s extremely pleasing to see Infocom’s Frobozz Magic Company featured – especially after a decades long dry spell of new games set in the Empire.
  • A long bet is settled, with blogs ranked higher than New York Times in search results in the top stories of the year.
  • Practice safe surfing: use two browsers.
Dec 222007

University Of Utah's Running Utes' logoMy old alma mater capped their season with a bowl victory.

Admittedly the Poinsettia Bowl is not exactly a top flight bowl, and the game ended with a questionable call, but a victory is a victory no matter what.

The Utes had a shaky season to say the least, ranging from downing a top-25 team to getting beat by lesser schools. And this season the famed Utah – BYU rivalry was generous to the Cougars from Provo.

Dec 202007

Picture of the year 2007:  Brooklyn BridgeFollowing Juha’s lead, here’s my take on the meme.

1. What was your most popular subject in 2007? Did you concentrate on anything in particular or just snapped everything interesting?
No single subject stands out. Which means that I was pretty much snap-happy, and did not pursue something specific.

2. Did you participate in photo thursday or other photographic challenges?
Yes. Photo thursday (grand total of forty-one times) and photo friday (eight) times.

3. What is your favorite photograph of 2007?
The one shown to the right, Brooklyn Bridge on a rainy morning.

4. What did you learn about photography during 2007?
That the worst pictures are those you never take.

5. Did you buy any new equipment? Are you happy with your purchase if you did?
Didn’t buy anything, but got a new phone from work.

The n95 is a decent enough camera, if not pushed very hard. Which is to say that indoor pictures in non-optimal light are just not very good.

6. Any photographic plans for 2008?
Take way more photographs altogether.

Consider buying a digital SLR.

Experiment more with the likes of macro photography, HDR-post processing and such.

Dec 202007

Managed to see just six out of Empire’s top 25 (not online, it would appear), which is the lowest score in years.

Pretty sad.

At least four more belong to the “should definitely have seen, but didn’t”-category. Which means that have to be more active movies-wise next year. The traditional “one movie in theatre each month” new year’s resolution takes only so far, especially when a good chunk of those are summer bubblegum.

Dec 182007

Peter Jackson will direct Hobbit, after all.

And not only the Hobbit.

The Lord of the Rings predecessor will be followed by an as-of-yet unnamed sequel.

The two movies will be released LoTR-style, back to back, in 2010 and 2011.

No word yet whether Ian McKellen returns as Gandalf. Ian Holm as Bilbo would be pushing it, after all, this story is supposed to happen to a youthful hobbit.

I’ll keep my eyes on the newly minted official blog. And so should you.

EDIT 19.12: OK, so Peter Jackson will be the executive producer, not the director…

Dec 182007

After a sound victory in the sole round of playoffs, the Hakkapeliitat team is bound for the League 635848 bowl game this week. A welcome return after the disappointing finish last season – and the fourth time in five years.

Last week’s game was against the same opponent as on the last week of the regular season. The previous game was tight. This wasn’t.

The opponent’s quarterback, Patriots’ Tom Brady, had a horrible night, and finished with a meager 140 yards, no scores and an uncharacteristic pick. The Patriots came close to losing to the New York Jets, but stayed undefeated, and are frighteningly close to a perfect season. But even odder was the fact that no-one in the opposing team scored a touchdown, not a single one. Hence the ugly margin.

The surging Saints’ duo: Drew Brees and Marques Colston had a great night, and hopefully the New Orleans team actually reaches playoffs after a rocky start of the season. Eagles’ Brian Westbrook had a 100+ yard night once again, and took a surprise turn by not scoring against Dallas on an open run – he opted to run out the clock instead of giving the ball to the Cowboys. Roddy White had a terrible game against the Buccaeers – a single catch for four yards was not what was expected from a regular visitor to the redzone.

The regular season winner got ousted in the other playoff game. Hakkapeliitat split the two games with the opponent, first by being exposed to a total beatdown on the first week, and then returning the favor in the middle of the victory streak. So past performance is no giveaway what’s going to happen.

Bring on week sixteen.

Dec 182007

Scene from Perry Bible FellowshipAs has been established multiple times already, I’m a big fan of Pertti Jarla’s Fingerpori, featured daily in Hesari (and with the Mutts and Viivi& Wagner, pretty much the only worthwhile strip therein).

Weird though the comic may be, articistically it pales in comparison with Nicholas Gurewitch’s Perry Bible Fellowship. The odd selection of events are depicted in very variable art, the style takes odd twists inbetween individual strips.

Even though the website is a treasure trove of absurdist comedy, the first collected edition is a must-buy book. Haven’t seen it locally yet, but that’s trivially corrected on the next visit to Amazon.

Dec 182007

Back in the late nineties I missed a Santana gig in Copenhagen, a concert I had a ticket and almost everything else apart from a plane ticket when a mandatory event came up and abolished any thought of a trip to Denmark.

Briefy entertained the idea of going to go see Neil Young on his Continental Tour in the very same city next spring. Until I forgot to line up for tickets, and subsequently noticed that said shows were sold out in fifteen minutes.

So unless a convenient miracle happens (or an unlikely trip to a location with both a concert and tickets occurs), the only way to grab an earful of Mr. Young in february/march timeframe is off a record.

Dec 182007

This week’s fiver continues the web-theme begun last week.

1. Would Google News be of any real use in Finland? What’s your insight into why it isn’t here yet?
Not really. There aren’t that many news sources that such an aggregator would make that much sense.

Small audience is my number one guess for the lack of the service locally.

2. Is the web missing some essential service (or should something that already exists be translated into finnish)?
Well, at least I’m not aware of a game or movie ownership service like librarything.

No idea of a site in need of translation.

3. If you had the power and possibility, which web service would you change? How?
Google, in a way that the first hit would contain all the needed data about the search term.

Seriously, though, no real opinion on something gravely broken right now.

4. Has blogging become so commonplace that interest in begins to wane? Both among writers and readers?
Not yet. But a backlash certainly looms.

5. What’s the next big thing in the web?
Aggregator of a decent subset of the biggest social networks (hopefully with a decent API that it can be extended to the less popular sites as well).

Dec 182007

Got the long-awaited Delta Green: Eyes Only book the other day.

The book had a print run of 1000 copies, and the store seems to have run out very recently.

Eyes Only collects the three Delta Green chapbooks published late last millennium, and expands the content with two new scenarios. Which bodes well for the more conspiracy-ridden sessions of the Wednesday Emperors.

There’s been no indication whether this book ends up on the web as a free pdf (like the recent ransom-method publications by the main culprit, Dennis Detwiller) or starts turning up on eBay priced sky high like the original trio of booklets.