DIARY 2002















Thu, Jan 31

<00:46> More updates on comms: fixed some xmms interface functions. Now the playlist_add() takes a Python list of files, though it isn't really used that way in comms. Stuff like seeking and progress bar are now working. Can't think of much to add right now. Except I should restructure my Interests page.

Despite all this, managed to do some questions of geometric algebra, it's pretty damn interesting.

Tue, Jan 29

<22:33> This strange feeling of life is returning, after long-neglected sessions of hacking and workout. When I asked for melatonin at the drugstore, they said it's unavailable in this country.. but it's probably so in Finland too; you can get it off-shelf in the States though. I did get a good sleep last night, after two pints in the pub :-).

I can't believe the comms project is going so quickly, but then again I had great base of software. It's been usable since yesterday - considering I started work on the xmms-Python interface on Saturday and then the actual program on Sunday. Usable enough for me, but despite other feelings and commitments I still have the itch to tweak it towards perfection.

Mon, Jan 28

<03:54> A.I.

This is Kyberpunk.

After the initial sequences of the moral problems of near future, taking place in sets too cozy to be true, the cybernetic Pinocchio soon starts out his adventure in the Inverted Matrix, where even the toughest of industrials can touch the blue blue steel of /home.

Eventually, the quest comes to an end of some kind, and you can just expect the story to fade out in a quiet, melancholic sleep.

Then it gets even better.

From the murky worlds of cyberpunk, Spielberg then pays respect to Kubrick by turning it all into Real Sci Fi. The Matrix is re-inverted back to itself in a spirit quite like 2001.

And you still cannot be sure if the boy's quest hadn't been fulfilled..


Sun, Jan 27

<03:37> There's a first time for everything. Tonight I've lost my C-programming virginity. Hairy stuff with glib functions and pointers. The project is a Python interface to XMMS. I found one but it wasn't finished; important functions like adding files to playlist were missing. So what can you do.. I've now done all functions I'll need to write a decent console interface to XMMS. It won't need stuff like opening preferences window (that's pretty useless if you're outside X). Unfortunately some useful functions like seeking within songs are missing from the xmms-devel package so I can't really go into those.

Sat, Jan 26

<02:50> Christianity is like quantum mechanics. There are many different, diverse interpretations. They seem to work although no one really understands why. Many people including me, argue that the basic premises are incorrect. So why is it not like riding a bike? You need a complex mythology to make a funny, yet at times profound, film out of it, and it's called Dogma. Moreover, it probably didn't suffer that much from cramming into my laptop display. [Techie brag: I dropped CPU to 133MHz to quiet the fan, and disregarding just a couple of glitches the mpeg1 file played fine in fullscreen :-] I don't really believe, but I've got a pretty good idea.

Fri, Jan 25

<02:32> There's one nasty thing (well, besides the obvious) about Opera's address banners. It makes the browser do work even when I'm not using it. Which is nasty, for example when the CPU speed has been turned down, which is useful to avoid the occasional fan noise. So the system slowdown is almost noticeable.

Sleeping patterns remain bad. It isn't very helpful to have only three days (Mon, Wed, Fri) per week with morning lectures. I wonder what would happen to me in one of those sleep pattern studies where the subjects spend weeks or months without any idea of time (that includes daylight). Now where can I sign up? :-)

Saw Sundara after a long break. Things sound very interesting with him: He's leaving his job and going to Kenya (where he's from, in a way) for several weeks, with his girlfriend. I truly admire his position, as he doesn't have any post-Kenya plans. Like having all doors to the world open. And all these people expect me to to a PhD or start real work.. I just want to philosophize. And maybe write some code, now and then, but not for living.

Wed, Jan 23

<22:31> Mr. Aronofsky, I find your film that mingles maths and numerology with Kabbala very disturbing. Which is a good thing. Even if the 216-digit key to the secrets of the universe was not really found, I was quite impressed when Apostolo came along on my way home, and he explained how the digits of Pi tell the name of the god in Greek.

Xv or DGA, which one is it for MPlayer? It seems that DGA gives a better quality but takes more processing power. This isn't obvious but then again my next computer will have a better graphics card with a better hardware scaling. Yay to the MPlayer hackers, that quality improvement is with the fastest/ugliest of three scaling algorithms available. Anyway, the results obviously imply that it should be DGA with low bitrate films and Xv with higher quality pieces. YMMV.

More on Geometric Algebra: It's a lot more than the extension of complex number to Dim>2. Even at 2-D it makes a clearer picture than CNs. Interestingly, GA predates the usual vector calculus - the cross product is just a bastardization of more intuitive exterior products, and it only works in 3-D. In later years I'll probably tell my fellow hyystäjille that this is the branch of maths that made me happy in my final year :-) [Note to Rigorist, we should figure out a translation for hyystää.]

Tue, Jan 22

<00:52> Sheer Bliss! H2J2! Now where shall I start..

Back from the entrepreneurship lecture after 5pm. Waiting for XFree86 4.2.0 binaries to show up at the Mandrake ftp. The reason being: XVideo extension should work on my S3Virge, making movie playback more enjoyable. In fact 4.1.99 versions are there already and they should have the same features.. on to download. There are nine separate RPMs so I'm figuring out a hack for background downloading with w3m. It's not quite working, but the attempts are taking time. It's getting closer to 7 pm and at 18:44 I leave for college to get some dinner. The veggie pizzas have run out, which is probably a good thing.

Already decided to skip Ninjutsu for tonight, as I was slightly tired and there's the project preliminary report (i.e. .plan) to do. After dinner, going towards Sainsbury's to get some Korma ingredients. It's 19:19 and I suddenly realize I could go to the meditation class, where I'd last been in June 2001.

It's synchronicity again. Consider the alternatives: (1) going to Ninjutsu which means early or very late dinner, or (2) going first to Sainsburys and then to college dinner as I'd planned. Both of these would have excluded the meditation class.

With Metta Bhavana meditation it comes. I've mentioned the feeling of unity before, but this is profoundly different. As you know, the usual stages are those of sending out good will towards (1) yourself, (2) a good friend, (3) a neutral person, (4) a difficult person, and (5) all of them together, followed by a gradual expansion into the rest of the universe.

[For the difficult person] You're acting like that, and calling me 'gay', because of how you've been conditioned. The society has brainwashed you into dissing all that is alien. This way you are making yourself and those around you miserable. This idea occurs to me, that misery is caused by conditioning, but in fact was already the key starting point for Gautama and the subsequent Buddhas.

Happiness is released by abandoning the conditioning. (Then beauty and bliss are merely a matter of attitude.) This is possible via free, critical thinking, open minds. Mindfulness. Thus the two kinds of meditation become one. And my quest for teaching mankind free, critical, scientific thinking, is in fact equal to the greatest of goals.

This was one of my major steps in the path to wisdom, but certainly not the first or the last one. There is also my recent discovery that I also identify with the Taoist. Seeing the great, in the little things of life; X 4.2.0 was there to download as I came home. I also found the w3m background d'load trick: use 'wget -o /dev/null -b' as an external browser. After some fiddling it looks like I have both XVideo and DGA on the S3Virge. It's yet to decide which one is faster; XVideo's hardware scaling is very neat, while the DGA display is scaled by 3DNow. Neither is too bad for fullscreen DivXs and other films. Still waiting for SW6... :-)

Mon, Jan 21

<00:55> Wrapping up the past week, which has been incessantly either psychedelic or a pardey continuum. My sleeping patterns are still not back to normal (whatever that is), though early morning lectures pose a notable constraint. Now that Antti has finally left Cambridge, there's no single best friend around, but things will correct themselves as they always do.

Friday's lecture of Information Theory was interesting, and fairly challenging - i.e. maybe not on my list of exams. Quantum Info was something I'll probably love, with all the philosophical and controversial ideas, lectured by Mike Payne whose QM lectures in the 2nd year were a huge inspiration to me. Now I'm looking forward to this morning's lectures of Geometric Algebra and General Relativity.

The weekend has gone nicely, starting with Sauna and Eraina on Friday, then an Indial dinner at Maharajah followed by a relaxed gathering at Lauri's on Saturday. There we watched Star Wreck V and it was a fun coincidence that Rudi (the director, co-writer and one of the actors) was there with us. After the film, we amused ourselves by some genuinely terrible Finnish karaoke music off the web.

Tonight I watched a nice film, a tale of a 23-year old dreamer-loner. In a way it wasn't particularly interesting because it felt so familiar. I think it's been overly hyped about, but the life portrayed might seem less obvious, and more amusing, to 'other people'. I couldn't help thinking how much the main character looked like NEL, but then again, these days probably every fourth person reminds me of her :-). On the interesting sides of the story, I'm very impressed and inspired by the spontaneous and ingenious attempts of the main character, to control the happiness of people around her. A congenial conclusion to the weekend, but not the kind of magic I had expected. Probably because I'm a 23-year old dreamer-loner myself (here we go again with Illuminated number theory ;-).

<11:34> The blights of early morning were quickly offset by the intriguing lectures of General Relativity and Geometric Algebra. The latter surpassed the high expectations I had, as the first lecture was a real eye-opener. I've told some of you about the miraculous power of complex numbers in 2-D physical applications. Basically, GA extends it all to any number of dimensions. The only tradeoff is probably the lack of commutativity, but at this level it's not really anything strange or new.

Fri, Jan 18

<03:22> Last night (i.e. Wednesday) was pretty k3w1. There was a gig of experimental electronic music at Portland Arms. Partly DJing nifty retro and ambient stuff, but the real thing was a duo of synth and theremin. Since I can't remember the last time I went to an ambient gig, this was a Good Thing. The only complaint goes to the place, they had tables and chairs and people just sitting. No wild pardeying thus. I couldn't understand how anyone could sit still with those capacitance controlled Fourier components flowing and pervading all over. The pub even had Absinth to offer. This is what I wore. Antti and I had lots of philosophical discussion left over, so it was quite a late night (that pic was taken about 4:30 am :-).

Lectures started with a course on Entrepreneurship, which I'll probably leave as non-examinable (there are five interesting courses and I'm only examined in two). It was fun to do something artsy, after doing pure science for so many years.

BTW, I did sleep eventually on Tuesday night and last night, so it's getting better and I didn't even have to attend any support group meetings ;-)

Tue, Jan 15

<18:14> No need for magic mushrooms. I'm getting trips wicked enough at those rare moments when I'm asleep.

Insomnia is not funny, but I guess I had to experience it sooner or later. New experiences have intrinsic delta value, too bad this coincides with exams. I did survive those today, and it was probably good, not to have one's consciousness firmly on the ground when doing cosmology questions. Particle physics had a nice question where I could show off some inside knowledge on CERN detector tech, but on the other question I failed because I hadn't memorized the masses of heavy quarks (who wants to be a living data book anyway).

Then when I do fall asleep for an hour or so on afternoon naps, I see things out of this world. Even macabre bad trips. Still, they're not quite where this book's at: Seven Steps to the Sun by F & G Hoyle. Great time to start reading their fiction now that Fred's dead. The narrative is just excellent, considering it's written around 1969. It can be seen as a book of dreamlike tripping, but in the end you're left to doubt what really happened. Wicked.

Why did I suddenly get into using 'wicked'? Probably cause that was the latest comment on my hair, from a couple of teenagers. The delta hair is an expensive hobby, though, at least now that I'm using razors.

Mon, Jan 14

<01:44> Cuppa coffee tonight. 'After Dinner, strength 5' is good enough, considering Britain. Now why is this such an issue as to deserve a diary entry?

You may remember my brave declaration of quitting on caffeine altogether in autumn 2000. That lasted for a few weeks, after which I started coding pretty seriously - involving the change to a British keyboard layout - and the long night hours were fuelled by variants of Coke. Even so, I refused any deep addiction, and besides the programming fluids, the strongest caffeine I used was green tea. Not counting, of course, the occasional visits to Clown's for their divine espresso, which only happens a few times a term.

Then last summer at CERN I gradually got into the habit of one cup coffee per day. In some ways it was fairly boring there, although I didn't go as far as Tuomo and Henri who compared the experience to the military service (an idea which, btw, made me grow this 'gonaparta' goatee :-)=. So, the delicious coffee at the canteen was the bright spot of many long days. The machine provided Cafe, Espresso and Ristretto and I usually chose the first one - it would be called 'espresso' in Britain and Finland, and only once I ventured into the hardcore experience of a double Ristretto. Keeping the daily dose to unity, I did not notice any bad side effects.

I seem to have a similar habit at home. It's just a part of the holiday experience with my parents and sister, whenever I happen to be with them. Last term again, the only coffee I had was at Clowns, maybe three times total.

You see already, there is no strong principle against coffee or caffeine. I'm not an extremist in any case (knock my wooden head, at least in most cases :-). A cup of soft, dark roasted cafetiere coffee with some ambient music can just be the island of tranquility in the midst of a term-time tempest.

In fact a similar thing is happening to me with regards to alcohol. The more I tell myself not to cut it totally, but to forget all extremes and make conscious choices whether to drink, the less I'm actually drinking. For example during the last holiday I didn't want a beer after sauna, and probably most of my drinking was wine with the Xmas dinners. Similarly, I'm trying to make conscious choices about coffee, not just quaffing it robotically at designated times and places.

Sat, Jan 12

<01:34> Productivity/attitude exercise: watched Star Wreck movies 1 to 5 (incl. 4.5). Should have done this ages ago - I heard of it some time ago, as my fellow student Rudi is involved. Just waiting for SW6, the trailer says 'coming in autumn 2000' :-) and it looks like it could be ready this summer.

Wed, Jan 9

<01:43> Back @cam. The weather < +5 °C feels quite warm after Finland.

Mon, Jan 7

<03:29> What kind of an economic integration is it, where some of the members refuse to go all the way into a common currency? Of course I'm referring to Britain, Denmark and Sweden.

Handling the liquid cash Euros makes me feel cool. There is hope for mankind when we realize the futility of the phrase "one sign of an independent country is its own currency". We're not starting to use "other countries' money", it's our money now. And patriotism is simply an extended kind of selfishness. Perhaps in the future there will only be one monetary unit.

I believe the monetary union is a natural step in the original goals of the EU. The refusal of the aforementioned countries to accept a more stable currency, makes me wonder why they joined the EU in the first place. In fact, it seems that they will join the Euro eventually, after being convinced by us (pioneers, risk takers) how well it works out. Imagine the humility :-)

These have been some of my thoughts now that the Xmas holiday is about to end. As usual, I have not been very productive :-), but it has been better than the few previous Xmas breaks: no significant depression. Which means not much drinking either. Credits to LotR/FotR, Merlin, Longitude, Bavarian Illuminati, Finnish nature, Introduction to Philosophy, and NEL.

Wed, Jan 2

<00:27> Euro tim€ :-)

On another note, synchronicity lifted its head last night as I phoned NEL - she was driving to Varkaus at the moment :-). There's reason to believe that this year the s-word will come up a lot...

Risto A. Paju