June 29th, 2008

The sharing

I try to be a little bit energy-consumption aware. Squeeze out the most mpg as possible, switch off appliances on standby, etc. Still, computer stuff being my profession, lappy runs most of the day and evening. And yes, I do switch it off when I go to bed and slam the lid (=standby) when I expect to be away for a while. But still, the thing is working it’s butt off when I am actually doing things on it, but it’s idling most of the time still. The cpu usage shown is what the task manager was recording while I was actually typing this blog post: about 1% is time the chip is actually working for me.


So, I installed BOINC again (what used to be seti@home for those who remember) and dedicate all that idle time to the world. The only issue left was what project to donate it to. I decided not to go for SETI (the Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence, even if I wholeheartedly support their cause, but instead join the World Community Grid, together with a small 400.000 others. This is a sort of meta-project, doing the selection and infrastructure for causes that benefit directly to humanity.

World Community Grid supports research that is:

  • Focused on solving problems to benefit humanity;
  • Conducted by public or nonprofit organizations;
  • Contributed to the public domain; and
  • Accelerated by grid computing technology.

Research projects that benefit from grid technology are those that perform computations that require millions of computer processing units (CPUs) and that can be divided into smaller independent computations.

Examples of potential fields of study include:

  • New and existing infectious disease research – development of treatments for HIV/AIDS, Malaria, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), etc.
  • Genomics and disease – functions of proteins that are coded by human genes and how they might relate to cures for common diseases
  • Environmental research – meteorology and severe weather warning, pollution, remediation, climate modeling, and others
  • Natural disasters and hunger – earthquake warning, information on improving crop yields and livestock production, and evaluation of the supply of critical natural resources such as water

Go there to join, put that wasted electricity to work. And if you like, you can join the small team I am in  “Lotus Notes and Domino Support”. Here’s how my cpu usage looks now. I’ll probably write more about sharing, and less about political outrage, but who knows what happens.


ps: Yes, I do know lappy now even uses a tad more energy as the cpu uses less when idling, but that tiny offset more than compensates in my opinion the gift of 99% of my cpu cycles.

June 25th, 2008

The flights, and the bomb, and the gentleman

I once saw on TV a guy from Chicago with a violin case who made a funny remark about ya know, Chicago, violin cases, something along the lines of it certainly NOT containing a machine gun, on a British airport. He was denied boarding immediately, and given a reprimande by a police office in a bullet free vestand carrying an impressive pice of weaponary (I am not talking a handgun).

Last Sunday, a flight attendant, being pointed to an unattended bag in the cabin (United) while boarding, made a smartass remark about it “containing a bomb” when asked if the owner was know by a passenger. Do me a favor and try that as a passenger ok? Report back here what happens.

On a sidenote: In the aviation forum discussing this, it went back and forth between “c’mon, we need more humor”, and “outrageous behavior”. I will keep my opinion to me on this one for now, but two gentlemen where obviously going nowhere, until one said:

I would say, sir, that our difference of opinion stems from the core of what we are and cannot be resolved by words typed on an online forum. I have the time and inclination to personally take things on a case-by-case basis. This comes from own values, which, as we’ve shown, are as different as night and day. (…) I respect your opinion, but I cannot agree with it or the underlying foundation upon which it most indubitably rests. I also respect and appreciate fully the faults which you find with my own postings.

I wish I had the patience and the literacy of this guy. Thumbs up big time.

June 25th, 2008

The chipcard (and the shame)

The administration is trying to get all public transport companies (who are heavily subsidized anyway) to use a unified chipcard. Unfortunately, they used Myfair one, a Mickey Mouse card when it comes to security (I am not even going into the privacy issues). The University of Nijmegen exposed this and delved deeper and deeper, until they copied a card in less than 2 seconds, enough to do it standing close to a clueless traveler.

And then they stepped it up a bit, went to London, where London Underground uses the same card. And published their results. Bravo right? Exposing weak systems compromising the wallet of the consumer, right?

Wrong. The responsible minister is arm twisting the University board and the research group is more or less stifled, using the argument of “acting responsible”. Shame, shame, shame on you, minister Huizinga.

June 23rd, 2008

The refugee

Zimbabwe. Robert Mugabe and his party rule the country with intimidation and violence. Until Tsvangirai, the popular opposition leader finally challenged him. In the last presidential election, he won by a substantial margin, but the rigged election committee declared the victory JUST not enough, so a second round was needed. In the meantime, Mugabe’s criminal lot organized widespread violence against Tsvangirai’s supporters and he had to face this tough decision, just before the second election: withdraw, save his supporters from the killings and intimidation, and stay the winner of the first round, or go on, spiraling in more violence, organized by Mugabe’s mob, and almost certainly be the second round’s looser. No supporter in his right mind would dare to vote, and even if he won again, a new rig is easily organized. Terrorism: the systematic use of terror especially as a means of coercion.

He caved, and I think it is wise. And he also sought refuge, ending up in the embassy of my country.

NRC: Dutch Emassy in Harare

I hope our people treat him as the statesman he is entitled to be.

In the meantime, what can we do? Well, we should NOT go there. The Europeans (and yes, the US too) would be regarded as again the arrogant colonists. We should support the regions pressure on Mugabe, especially on South Africa, which has taken a too soft stance of the criminals. And we should freeze the money on a global scale. The EU countries blocked the accounts of Mugabe and his 130 most loyal henchmen. It’s more than time the other civilized countries did the same.

June 22nd, 2008

The last ones

Of the last 4 on the suspect list of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague, one, Stojan Zupljanin, was arrested 10 days ago near Belgrade. It took a while to get him to the UN prison in The Hague, as he claimed an identity mix up.

Župljanin, the most senior police officer in the so-called Autonomous Region of Krajina (ARK) in northwestern Bosnia and Herzegovina during the 1992-1995 conflict and later an advisor to fugitive Radovan Karadži?, stands accused of involvement in a campaign to eliminate and permanently remove Bosnian Muslims and Bosnian Croats from the area between April and December 1992.

The prosecution holds him responsible for murder, persecution, torture and deportation of non-Serb civilians, as well as for wanton destruction of towns, villages and religious institutions in numerous municipalities.

According to the indictment, Župljanin had overall authority and responsibility for the functioning of the police within the region concerned and as such commanded the units which participated in the perpetration of the crimes.

And the list goes on. One down, three to go: Karadzic, Mladic and Hadzic.

Just to be perfectly clear on this: these guys should and will get a fair trial (other than the thousands they organized to be killed and raped and the ten thousands who were driven from their territory). If found guilty, they will be locked away for a long, long time.

June 20th, 2008

The sanctions

I have no idea if this news was a bit covered in the US, but the European Union lifted all economic sanctions from Cuba, a move that was labeled by ex-president/dictator Fidel Castro as highly hypocritical. The move was made to support the spark of democracy in Cuba, and will be evaluated in one year for it’s possible effects.

Believe me, evaluation or not, it’s highly unlikely sanctions will be re-imposed.

Was there any coverage on this? Was there any response from the US government? (I admit I didn’t research, just asking)

June 20th, 2008

The evil


Apathy or Ignorance

Thanks Dark Roasted Blend.

June 12th, 2008

The friendly spying

Connections, connection

A bureau chief from the CIA, stationed at the American Embassy in The Hague, was summoned to leave the country. (…) The Dutch Intelligence service was investigating on a local businessman [on alleged exporting of nuclear technology] where camera’s and microphones were planted in his house. This showed that CIA staff were also breaking into the home. The service was not informed of the activities of their American counterparts. This happened in 2004.

This gives an interesting peek under the hood. What it more than implies is that friendly secret services can operate on legally on foreign soil (well, ours at least) as long is there is at least some information exchange beforehand. Of course we don’t know what the level of detail is that is required (What we do know how easily it is to spin accusations and rumor).

In all fairness I must say one of the darkest intelligence pages in the intelligence service book of my country is the leakage of ultra-centrifuge technology to Pakistan in the 70′s, basically enabling the country to become a nuclear power.

June 5th, 2008

The assault

Yesterday night, a family living pretty close by, actually 2/3rd of a mile as the bird flies were ambushed in their own house. The crooks came through the front door (forgot the night lock) and surprised the couple in their sleep. Beat him up badly, taped her mouth. With a 4 year old there mind you. The crooks were after money, which was not in the house. The family was terrorized for over an hour.

She’s actually a collegue of my wife. Scary when things like this come so close.

June 1st, 2008

The retreat

From the Huffington Post.

???????? ????? ????????SYDNEY, Australia — Australia, a staunch U.S. ally and one of the first countries to commit troops to the Iraq war five years ago, ended combat operations there Sunday, a Defense Department official said.

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd was swept into office in November largely on the promise that he would bring home the country’s 550 combat troops by the middle of 2008.

Rudd has said the Iraq deployment has made Australia more of a target for terrorism.

The combat troops are expected to return home over the next few weeks. Local media reports said the first of the soldiers had already landed in Australia on Sunday afternoon.

Time to go.