Month: April 2004


Proud to have a medal...The Dutch are very good at congratulating themselves, and tradition tells them carefully to spend much time and energy handing out trophies, medals, ribbons and flowers for just about any occasion.

Here's a relevant example to illustrate what I mean. Once a year around Koninginnedag (the queen's birthday - well, not quite, but no one seems to care), a number of medals are handed out to those select few who have made special achievements during the previous year. I think that in theory this is a good idea, and certainly people deserve some kind of official recognition, especially from the queen herself. The only thing is that these medals do not go to a select handful of achievers, rather thousands upon thousands are rained down upon society in every single town and village.

Here's another interesting example. Recently I attended an open house one evening organized by the school, with music and ceremony and lots of that kind off stuff. There was a musical with theatrical skits inbetween. The only problem (for me) was that the second half was completely dedicated to patting each other on the shoulders, thanking everyone who took part, even those ever so remotely related to preparations, giving speeches with tears in their eyes, and hugging each other ten times over as each person received piles of gifts and/or flower bouquets.

I am probably just jealous, and don't want to admit it.


And yesterday I saw you standing by the river,
And weren't those tears that filled your eyes,
And all the fish that lay in dirty water dying,
Had they got you hypnotized?

Led Zeppelin
Led Zeppelin III
That's The Way


Just before it happened...For awhile there I just stood and watched helplessly as the snagged piece of paper swayed back and forth while all the many shoes of variegated forms and colors stepped and kicked and scraped all around it. The tram would be coming any moment now, but this was too important to distract my attention. Not for even a split second. From where I was standing, I couldn't quite make out whether it was the remnants of an old paper-bag, some tissue paper, the inner page of today's morning newspaper, or whatever. There was no way ignoring the inevitable. Not a single unknowing human footstep was able to pry this innocent piece of white hope from its unlawful place there. Too bad. I kind of felt sorry for it as I visualized in my mind what was about to take place right in front of my eyes. Was I ready for it? The tram was coming and then it would happen and then it did. The thick metal wheels screamed to a halt and scraped right across the snagged piece of paper. In an instant it was freed forever, but unfortunately at the same time torn to shreds and about a hundred pieces which flew all over the place in an erratic cloud of dust and shrapnel and twigs and stuff. Nothing lasts forever. Freedom isn't everything.


So you thought that you knew everything there was to good old javascript did you? Well then, check out the slayeroffice web site first and then ask yourself again whether or not you are such a big shot afterall.

Personally, I found the Mouseover DOM Inspector the most impressive of all.


Believe it or not, you can look twenty years younger within five days. The question though is the following: is that really what you want?

I was seriously considering taking advantage of this unique offer which I discovered quite by accident in my email in-box. Their many claims that years of scientific research had resulted in this amazing breakthrough seemed convincing enough for me. And then of course the before-and-after pictures were beyond belief.

To top it all off, this offer was absolutely free, and with a money-back guarantee!

However, upon closer introspection I realized that perhaps this looking twenty-years younger thing would not be the best approach for me. I wasn't that old now was I?

I could see it before my eyes.

This guy would walk into work and everyone would look at him in complete amazement. This guy would be me. The kind fellow colleagues would raise their heads, look in my direction and wonder to themselves and out loud: Who is this kid?

Looking younger is not all of what it's cut out to be.


Proven fact: a giraffe has the same number of bones in its neck
as a man. Things around you are not always what you expect.


"The road to the Western Lands is by definition the most dangerous road in the world, for it is a journey beyond Death, beyond the basic God standard of Fear and Danger. It is the most heavily guarded road in the world, for it gives access to the gift that supersedes all other gifts: Immortality. Every man starts the course. One in a million finishes."

William S. Burroughs, The Western Lands.


Traveling by train is going to take some serious getting used to, that's for sure.

There were some technical problems, and the train departed later than it was supposed to. Then we were standing there in the packed train, pressed between sweating bodies and looking out the window.

Where is this place? Doesn't look familiar at all. Believe it or not a looping and curving detour to the east, down through Hilversum, and then doubling back to Utrecht.

Two and a half hours to get home is not a very relaxing way to end the day.


"In the end, it is the developers themselves who hold the project together. Each individual bears their own share of the responsibility for finding a task that suits their skills, coordinating with others to keep duplicated effort minimal, and making sure the job gets done."

- Perl 6 Essentials, Chapter 1.


Perhaps this year around I will finally have to give in and attend my class reunion. You know, check out all the old acquaintances, reminisce about the good old days, and catch-up on lost time.

Too bad that Maarten's birthday will be at the same time.

I will have to make a difficult choice, though I already know that my son's birthday is a thousand times more important than some old folks get together.


Favorite memories: "Jogging in the foothills, firing golf balls with my 3-iron down Donnor hallway, the epic journey, Neil Young, Dr. J, the Oasis, getting into SAE, getting rejected from medical school."

Student activities/clubs: "SAE fraternity, golf, beer-drinking, ad infinitum."


More often than not, the not invented here symptom can cripple even the best among us. I believe that it is not so much the blind conviction that what we made in-house is so perfect as it is an innate fear of the unknown. Kind of like a subtle form of xenophobia that developers have for foreign software methods and/or approaches.

Balancing a sense of perfection while fostering the pursuit of the middle path is probably the best down-to-earth approach having the highest chances of success.

The creative challenge is getting others to leap across that pretty narrow chasm over there before you do.

In the end, trying to cure yourself is ten times more difficult than curing others.


New place to work...Finishing off an assignment within the estimated time period of six weeks as well as producing a (at least in my opinion) high-quality deliverable is a great feeling. Even the documentation and handover went smoothly.

However, during that period of hard work and lots of sweat, one gets to know fellow programmers, architects, project leaders, etc. Some quite close and personal. From one degree to another.

As usual there were some ups and alot of downs, like any other technical project hard-pressed to meet the upcoming deadline. Shifting priorities, ever-changing specifications, and never quite enough time. But in the end we learned much and felt good that the initial roll-out seems to be working like it should. More than one hundred SMS transactions per second. Not bad, not bad at all.

Sure I will kind of miss those kind folks and the informal spontaneous environment, but life goes on. From one step to the next.

Now I can really look forward to my new job starting next week. Four days of pseudo fun-and-relaxation. Funny how Amsterdam keeps on pulling me back to her. I lived there for eight years, and now this will be the third job I have within her motherly grasp. So I guess I really belong there some how.

New and challenging times to come.


For true-blue Perl geeks like myself, the Perl Monks web site is an interesting place which is really worth a regular visit. They have this section called Obfuscated code in which you can discover amazing little jewel snippets. Like this one, for example:

sub _ { /:+/; $, .= "$' " }
print Hacker(Perl(another(&Just)));

So what does it do? How does it work? What does it mean?

You now have two choices: 1/ Take the challenge, figure it out yourself, and verify you have the correct answer by clicking the button below, or 2/ Be impatient, immoral, and outcasted from the Perl community by hitting the answer button without raising a pinkie.


Click to take a chance and see what happens...Taking the long train ride from Venice back to Amsterdam would perhaps prematurely end my short-lived adventure. My fine and respected traveling companion Kevin from Stanford was not too happy about it either. I knew then however that it was now or never. Then nor ever. Took the chance, faced the uncertainties, and managed to make things happen as they were not quite meant to be, and then what. Why mess up your life when things can easily turn out better?

If I had taken another train in another direction from another station at another time, all the other factors would have canceled each other out and I would have ended up at the very same place I am now anyway.

Just take the chance and see what happens.


Maarten is getting a little wild throwing that soft ball around the house, and you can tell that he is on the verge, getting over excited and all.

I tried to explain that it was Easter Sunday which means that we should be peaceful and think about what happened to Jesus and all.

His answer was that all he cares about is how many chocolate Easter eggs he found and was able to eat up to now.

I guess it is good that he is honest about it.


Garlic and sapphires in the mud
Clot the bedded axle-tree.

- T.S. Eliot


The Redding Life web site is a discussion forum dedicated to the place where I was born and spent the first six years of my life: good old Redding, California. Check it out.


Testing the reality of the situation for something which you have been planning for some time is more than just an endlessly moving target, over there.

During the design, certain assumptions are made which only during the actual implementation come to light. The design has to be redesigned and the implementation re-implemented. The process is a cyclical one with each and every phase influencing the one before and the one next.

Mutual exclusion and reintegration, a reforming of expectations so that the following steps move onwards like they were supposed to in the first place.

Then it is time to do the test. More problems and unseen pitfalls raise their ugly faces and then it is back to the good old drawing board.

I guess the best approach would be to do proper visualization from the very beginning, and then foster the realization of an expected future to the very end.

There must be a better more scientific way to all of this. If not, then what?

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Sarge? Is that really you?

Hard to believe after all these years.

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Now that I am commuting five days a week by train to my work in Amsterdam Zuid-Oost, you can imagine that I feel slightly uncomfortable with the idea that there are terrorists out there looking for so-called soft targets to bomb.

Look at the two hundred or so innocent train commuters in Madrid who got killed by a number of synchronized explosions planned for maximum damage.

My nervousness is increased by the fact that the terrorists have made known that they will be seeking revenge for those countries who publicly supported the invasion of Iraq, namely England and the Netherlands, in addition to Spain.

This is a crazy world we live in, and the best I can do is to continue like nothing is happening, living and enjoying each day as it arrives.

Just in case.


When some dog keeps on barking off in the distance, I can get so worked up. My anger easily reaches the boiling point, for some reason or other. This emotion is something I do not have under control, and I cannot understand either why it is happening. So much irritation fixated on something seemingly so trivial. My father was that way, so I guess I must have inherited this tendency from him. Oh well.


Okay so I have got the main parent process up and running just fine. Now it is time to fork off the child processes, opening up the two-way pipes so that they can all communicate with each other. The only problem now is the synchronization which still has a number of slight wrinkles that require a good dose of ironing out. Sometimes it works just fine, but during unpredictable moments it clogs up, resulting in processes freezing, reading/writing becoming blocked, and the whole gateway hanging in thin air. Time to roll up my sleeves and look deeper, much deeper that is.

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This personal weblog was started way back on July 21, 2001 which means that it is 7-21-2001 old.

So far this blog contains no less than 2316 entries and as many as 1880 comments.

Important events

Graduated from Stanford 6-5-1979 ago.

Kiffin Rockwell was shot down and killed 9-23-1916 ago.

Believe it or not but I am 10-11-1957 young.

Began well-balanced and healthy life style 1-8-2013 ago.

My father passed away 10-20-2000 ago.

First met Thea in Balestrand, Norway 6-14-1980 ago.