# 2004-04-01 Art

I found an interesting banner today [1] where the author used a cell shading version of a picture panorama around his house, and based on a weather feed and some simulation of a flock of sheep, he generates a new panorama every day. Totally cool!

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TelePolis cites a study by Felix Oberholzer and Koleman Strumpf PDF showing no statistical correlation between file sharing and CD sales. [1] But we knew that already.

Anyway, I recommend reading the introduction to the original paper. Very reasonable discussion on all the possible effects music downloads can have, what they researched, and what they found.

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# 2004-04-01 Iraq

TelePolis reports on the cruel attack on foreigners in Iraq [1] and talks about the power of images in asymmetric conflicts, lack of “courage civile”, the mob loosing control… Such is the Dark Side within humanity when we loose it. Decades of supression, violence, hope, frustration, more bombs, insecurity, kidnappings, and fear… As TelePolis puts it: “Murder, War, Violence, and Dispair.” And now it comes to this. I’m not sure what to recommend. How do we build civil society? Nation building such that we’d gladly be part of that nation? Something about law and order, police, trust, getting along, integrating forces…

Here in Switzerland we recently had a case of three young nazi who killed one of their own because he had “talked” about their secret society. Lured him to an old ruin, crushed his skull and brain with an iron tube, and dumped him into a lake. I think the instigator got life-long, the others sixteen years, but I can’t remember for certain.

Anyway… The TelePolis article ends with some references to Afghanistan and new unrest in Usbekistan, where the government violates human rights en masse, but is supported by the US, because they fight Al-Qaida, but muslim organizations claim that ‘’any’’ muslim activists can be detained and tortured in Usbekistan… There’s another article on Afghanistan, in fact. [2] Political unrest, how to vote, Taliban in control of 20% of the country, poppy seeds being the only product that actually gets you some money, representation of women, …

Sigh.

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# 2004-04-01 Language

I should read more about languages. While talking about porn on #emacs, I started a search on “single-sex discours” on Google and read the introduction of Female Discourse Patterns in an EFL Classroom Setting PDF, about Japanese women learning English and talking in the classroom. Very interesting summary.

me
so, enough porn-talk for the day? good!
x
heh
me
i always wonder what a woman would think, coming to #emacs in such a moment.
me
i don’t like the thought of it.
x
Yup. Would be ugly.
me
but we’d never know, since they’d probably just leave quietly.
me
http://www.emacswiki.org/cgi-bin/alex/2004-03-12_Women
y
z
..or join in..
me
yeah, dream on, wankers!
x
heh
x
x
I mean, we weren’t being sexist or actually getting vulgar. It was just fun.
x
In fact, were there any explicit references to women?
me
hahaha
me
good point, x
• x bows
y
Still, insight into the intimate talk of the opposite sex might be found interesting.
me
i don’t think my gf would enjoy talking to people with 17G of porn of whatever variety…
x
It’s called vouyerism ;)
y
me
heh. that sounds interesting.
y
It turned out that men talks just as much about looks, other mens bodies, and fashion as do women, when they are by themselves.

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# 2004-04-01 Wikis

OddMuse should be fit for ‘’’situational’’’ use – quick to use for special purpose short-term usage, install wiki, a few simple configurations, use for a project and a small number of people, throw away after a while.

Maybe I should put this on the OddmuseRoadmap.

Thanks to Clay Shirky’s essay on situational software.

Interesting in the context of wikis, education, and web based communities: WikiSchool picked up a link to educational wikis formerly at coedit.net.

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“Clark” Shirky?

– ChrisPurcell 2004-04-01 10:56 UTC

Thanks for catching it.

AlexSchroeder 2004-04-01 11:02 UTC

# 2004-04-02 Movies

I went to a “Balcan Evening” at a friend’s place. He’s Croatian and was showing two Slovenian movies. Unfortunately I was late, but I still got to see the second movie, and talk with the guests about Zatôichi (see 2004-02-15 Movies), other Takeshi Kitano movies, the violence in movies such as Kill Bill, comparing these movies to other Samurai movies such as The Last Samurai, Twilight Samurai (see 2004-01-10 Movies, recommended!), The Seven Samurai (recommended!), and Samurai Fantasy (intellectually interesting).

We also talked about Gori Vatra (IMDB:0347105, which I still have to see) bureaucracy under communist rule, the strength of communism in Italy, the image of Yugoslavians, the importance of everyday policy on a local level for national elections in America, Germany, and Sweden, etc.

It was a great evening. Since I also gave two of the guests the URL to my site, let me thank them here and now for the nice evening.

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# 2004-04-02 Music

I ate dinner at a Persian restaurant here in Zürich with some of Claudia’s friends; two of them danced at the restaurant. Around half past eleven we continued to a Moroccon restaurant were the have private parties, ie. the front door is locked and curtains are drawn, but if you know the back entrance and the guys standing there, you will hear ear-shattering music played by the band, tables along the walls, cushions on the benches, candles glittering, warm light emitted by chandeliers overhead and moroccan lamps [1], reflecting in towering shishas (water pipes), and whenever the beat picks up and singer raises his voice, men and women will get up and dance… I love it.

More about oriental food in Zürich on Claudia’s site. [2]

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# 2004-04-03

Impossible Questions – ever found questions that are important to find an answer to, but where answering is impossible? Take this one for example:

What kind of person do you want to go out with?

+1 for humor if you answer “blond!” I find it impossible to describe a person I could fall in love with in words. There are so many factors or facets to a person that it is near-impossible to “linearize” all the information into spoken words – it would turn into endless rambling. There’s looks, which is in turn proportions, and colors, but there’s also movement, rhythm, talk, body language, and there’s dress, and fashion, which leads to taste, and interests, and personality, dominance, wishing, the list goes on for ever.

In a way it seems to me one of the ‘’’questions in life where your own life is the only way to express the answer’’’. Only by doing and choosing and talking can you give expression to what you think is important in your partner. Saying it out loud doesn’t help one bit.

Searching this site for similar pages after a certain ‘’deja-lu’’ experience, I found that I had written about it already. See 2004-01-10 Religion.

# 2004-04-03 Wikis

Wasted about four hours trying to get Apache2 with mod_perl2 to work. See Oddmuse:Apache_Setup and Oddmuse:Using_mod_perl. I hate this.

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Taxes. Ugh!

# 2004-04-05

Body temperature rose from 37.4°C to 38°C – how I hate this! Restless sleep. There was one good thing about it, however: I woke up at 3:00 with a headache and decided to re-read my Arabic lessons. Strangely, that worked.

Can’t stare at the monitor for too long, however.

WorldChanging talks about http://www.gapminder.org/ – maybe I should check it out. The point is to make global statistics accessible. Reminds me of the effort by MondeDiplomatique, ISBN 3-9806917-6-4.

The chart showing world health (in children out of 1000 that live to be five years old) and money (purchasing power dollars) sure is interesting. Look at the exceptions: Cuba is poor but healthy – as healthy as the USA, in fact! And look how many countries are poorer than the USA and are healthier. Also compare the position of Israel and the West Bank & Gaza. PDF

# 2004-04-05 Blogs

I took the Julius Caesar blog off !PeopleUpdates. (Update: That was an old page listing all the people I read – I switched to dedicated news aggregators later on.) It was a wonderful idea, and at the time I was reading one of his books, the war in Gaul… Which reminds me. I should finally finish ‘’The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire’’. Argh!

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# 2004-04-05 Wikis

I worked a bit on my Oddmuse:Namespaces_Extension today, but the cold is giving heavy headaches which make it rather difficult to concentrate.

Bastard bacterias!

I tried to rest, but SunirShah tempted me with a text he had written on MeatballWiki, LethalText, which talks about the emergence of consciousness as mentioned in the SciFi book SnowCrash.

Based on a recommendation from CDot on #wiki, I was then led on to a site on “How to Create a Golem”. [1]

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Isn’t common cold a viral rather than a bacterial disease? You’re swearing at the wrong set of pathogens ;)

NoufalIbrahim 2004-04-07 08:14 UTC

Shame on me, being a zoologist and all, the anger carried me away! You are absolutely right. “Pathogens” might be general enough to apply to everything and everybody, while making sure it is some external cause (and not your own fault). Very handy.

AlexSchroeder 2004-04-07 10:29 UTC

# 2004-04-06 Security

Reread an old article by BruceSchneier from his February 15, 2004 newsletter:

The laws limiting police power were put in place to protect us from police abuse. Privacy protects us from threats by government, corporations, and individuals. And the greatest strength of our nation comes from our freedoms, our openness, our liberties, and our system of justice. Ben Franklin once said: “Those who would give up essential liberty for temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” Since 9/11 Americans have squandered an enormous amount of liberty, and we didn’t even get any temporary safety in return. [1]

And another one:

Identification and profiling don’t provide very good security, and they do so at an enormous cost. Dropping ID checks completely, and engaging in random screening where appropriate, is a far better security trade-off. People who know they’re being watched, and that their innocent actions can result in police scrutiny, are people who become scared to step out of line. They know that they can be put on a “bad list” at any time. People living in this kind of society are not free, despite any illusionary security they receive. It’s contrary to all the ideals that went into founding the United States. [2]

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# 2004-04-07

Feeling better already! Went to work 4h today, and to my Arabic course in the evening. There's a two-week break now, and I really must review the old stuff and start learning my vocab!

On the right there's an old pic of Claudia taken on 2004-02-15.

# 2004-04-08 Switzerland

The GeoURL stuff is giving me some new referrals from time to time. Just found a fotoblog, for example, with a very nice picture of an important Swiss mountain. [1] I should go see the mountains more often. I live in the flat northern parts of Switzerland. We see the Alps only when we’re standing on the right spot and the warm “Föhn” winds blow down from the Alps, pushing away all the mist and haze…

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# 2004-04-09 Wikis

I tried to work a bit on what I intend to be a wiki paper. [1]

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# 2004-04-10 Iraq

Riverbend is talking about the Falloojeh Massacre. “Over 300 are dead in Falloojeh and they have taken to burying the dead in the town football field because they aren’t allowed near the cemetery.” Is this the right response? Riverbend feels that it sounds very much like group punishment. And a very cruel one. [1]

She also says that we should see the pictures they are seeing on TV. TelePolis has often talked about this – the power of pictures to sway, without the need of arguments. What should we make of it?

I try to apply the “Vegetarian Test” I use for this kind of stuff:

Would you, being in their place, do the same thing?

For the original problem, this was a good problem: Being the butcher, would you kill the cow, cut it up, hang it on steel hooks, make some sausages with the rest, rinse the floor and wipe of the blood sticking to your fingers? The answer is ‘’NO’’ – and therefore I should not pay a butcher to do a job I would revile doing myself.

I can even apply it to border patrols trying to prevent migration: Being a border patrol, would you send a bunch of poor and desperate youngsters back to their home country, eventhough they spent their last money (and the last money of their relatives) on getting smuggled? The answer is ‘’NO’’ – I’d feel like Swiss border patrol sending jewish refugees back to Nazi Germany.

But sometimes it is hard to say. In a war, would I be able to say ‘’NO’’ after seing some of the things people see? Maybe hate and anger would change me. I sure hope I never need to find out. This is why I’m never sure what I’d do as a soldier or militia man in a war. But as we move away from the bloody action itself, as we return to the dogs of war in their comfortable offices, I’m reminded of my Vegetarian Test: Would they kill the 300 if they had to do it themselves and were able to, face-to-face? If not, how can they send in their troops to do the slaughtering for them?

I can see SalamPax’ point, when he says:

Dear US administration, Welcome to the next level. Please don’t act surprised and what sort of timing is that: planning to go on a huge attack on the west of Iraq and provoking a group you know very well (I pray to god you knew) that they are trouble makers. Oh and before I forget………Help please. [2]

Yes, “help please.” I wonder what they administration is trying to do now. Going for all-out war risking hundreds of Iraqis wounded, mutilated for life, or dead, is not going to work in the long run. Maybe the other plan is not going to work either.

I don’t know what to suggest. Did they try talking?

Sometimes it helps to just focus on basic human rights. It helps you get your priorities straight.

Riverbend says, for example:

This is supposed to be ‘retaliation’ for what happened last week with the American contractors […] [3]

Here are some relevant quotes [4]:

;Article 3: Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person. ;Article 11: Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defence.

Or maybe you feel that the country is at war. Is it? If so, how come Switzerland and others are still arms-trafficking with a warring nation? Anyway, here’s from the “Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War” [5]:

;Article 6: In the case of occupied territory, the application of the present Convention shall cease one year after the general close of military operations; however, the Occupying Power shall be bound, for the duration of the occupation, to the extent that such Power exercises the functions of government in such territory, by the provisions of the following Articles of the present Convention: I to 12, 27, 29 to 34, 47, 49, 51, 52, 53, 59, 61 to 77, and 143. ;Article 33: No protected person may be punished for an offence he or she has not personally committed. Collective penalties and likewise all measures of intimidation or of terrorism are prohibited.

I think the US is making the same mistakes in Iraq like Israel is doing in its occupied territories.

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# 2004-04-10 Wikis

Some more work on the wiki paper, did the first diagrams using the best drawing program there is, a program with perfect FeatureKarma: xfig! I love it! I’m thinking of writing a small extension that will allow you to upload xfig files and automatically produce the PNG output somewhere. It would also have a slightly different Link Pattern. Then again, maybe not. I think it would involve installing a Java plugin for Firefox (for jfig), or doing some evil Javascript magic on the wiki pages, and I don’t like that anyway. Therefore I think I’ll stick to the stuff.

A user on #wiki found that the Oddmuse:Rollback_Action didn’t work, and I spent an hour or two writing test cases and fixing bugs. Eek! Two hours to change ten lines of code a few times. Well, on the other hand, I like to think of Oddmuse as a polished diamond. The reason I like it (compared to my day-job projects, for example) is that I can keep polishing it until I am happy. And today I did some polishing. ;)

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# 2004-04-12

When I switched CSS files a few days (weeks?) ago, I didn’t consider that the new CSS had a ‘’theme’’ which hid the footer – so for most people (mainly my dad who asked about it) it was impossible to edit pages. Sorry ‘bout that.

# 2004-04-12 Iraq

TelePolis writes about the kill ratio of US soldiers [1]. If you want small groups of hightech soldiers to survive in hostile environments, they have to be prepared to kill. Remember Black Hawk Down? A few US soldiers wounded, 19 killed, and estimates for Somali deaths reaching up to 1000 dead. What we need is a new type of soldier: True Peace Keepers and Nation Builders. Good communicators, fluent in other languages, interested in other cultures, prepared for the strange and colorful world out there.

TelePolis also writes about the failures of humanitarian war in Somalia and in the Kosovo, Afghanistan, and now Iraq. [2] They claim that the US was unprepared, foolish, and naive. And I agree with that. They ‘’also’’ say that we should have put more political and economical pressure on him, to have him removed from power by his own people.

Excuse me?! Are they saying perhaps, like Madam Albright did, that maybe those 500’000 dead children during the embargo were justified? Are they perhaps ignoring the humanitarian disaster in Iraq during the embargo?

They should have started much, ‘’much’’ earlier: Not supporting a bastard like Saddam Hussein in the first place. And as TelePolis says, since the US has lost all credibility in the Near East, all they can do is be allies with Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and Israel. Now those are wonderful friends to have, unless you’re a freedom loving, human-rights respecting, free speech advocating person that is against torture (current technical term: “stress and duress techniques”) and the death penalty.

Where does that leave the American government? Actually, ‘’where does that leave most of the classe politique in the West!?’’ Because America-bashing is not enough. Here in Europe we might point fingers accross the Atlantic, but let us not forget who helped Saddam build the bunkers (Switzerland), who built the chemical plants (Germany), who sold hims his first ‘’weapons of considerable destruction’’ – my guess: France, Germany, the UK, and the US ‘’all’’ did it. So thank you, too!

Which reminds me that the Swiss state-owned weapons producer RUAG is still dealing with the US and Israel. This is sad.

Back to Iraq. What now?

1. Are the no peace keepers available? People trained in this stuff?
2. Human Rights, Geneva Conventions. Start there.
3. Democracy at the bottom. Education and courses, experiments with local initiatives.
4. Improved internal feedback. Empower local initiatives (students, kids) to produce news. (I heard of such a project in Sri Lanka, accompanying the peace process.)

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# 2004-04-13

Chronotype: ‘’’Evening1111’’’

I should take the test.

Ever heard of a ‘’Visual Practicioner’’? LionKimbro just pointed me to read Michael Erickson's homepage on Visual Wiki. Very interesting!

Reminds me of Ken Newman I wrote about on 2004-03-26_Conferences. He’s into narratives and story telling – for a living. I mean, he gets to take six month rides with a motorcycle, be online every day, goes to conferences, and gets more money. Awesome job.

# 2004-04-13 Games

Played ‘’Tenchu: Wrath of Heaven’’ and loved it. First mission: Failed twice, once by engaging all the guards at once because I mixed up ‘’attack’’ and ‘’jump’’ therefore jumping up and down in front of the evil guys, and once because I had no ninja-rebirth items and was cut up by the gun-wielding guy in the middle. So that part was rather fair. I finished the mission on my third attempt and got the title ‘’Grand Master’’ – yay!

I also skipped my Aikido today… I have some lousy excuse made up, but in truth, my spirit was weak…

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# 2004-04-13 Iraq

TelePolis has a short exchange [1] with Eman Khammas of http://www.occupationwatch.org/. I should add that site to my “News” folder on my toolbar…

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# 2004-04-13 Wikis

I’ve been thinking about my !GeoURL again (the link is on the SiteMap, too):

I added the stuff to my Wiki configuration:

$HtmlHeaders = ‘<meta name=“ICBM” content=“47.3787648948578, 8.52716503722805”>’ . ‘<meta name=“DC.title” content=“Home of Alex”>’; Where did I get the numbers from? I visited http://www.travelgis.com/geocode/ and entered my address. The seems to be absurd, however. Let’s do some testing: The next house number gets the following coordinates: 47.3787648948578 latitude, 8.52716503722805 longitude. The same numbers! Hm. The house 10 numbers higher: 47.3791029892217 latitude, 8.52731103252156 longitude. The distance: (sqrt (+ (sqr (- 47.3787648948578 47.3791029892217)) (sqr (- 8.52716503722805 8.52731103252156)))) ⇒ 0.00036826949999436975 Then consider that there are 10’000km per 90°: (/ (* 0.00036826949999436975 10 1000 1000) 90) ⇒ 40.91883333270775 Well, 41m for 10 numbers (ie. five buildings) makes sense after all. Amazing. Tags: Add Comment # 2004-04-16 Saw this year’s first bumblebee today! I will be offline from Sunday to Wednesday. We have some meetings in Porto, Portugal. I also spent most of today fighting the Oracle Installer, and I can say from the bottom of my heart that it sucks. Actually, the Oracle Installer has sucked ever since the days of good ol’ 7.3. I think it started sucking when they started using Java. Comments on 2004-04-16 Indeed. I had unreasonable difficulties installing it. Though the 10G installer is a bit better than the 9i one. And I work for these d00ds! sigh AadityaSood 2004-04-18 09:08 UTC Add Comment # 2004-04-16 Iraq Riverbend reports over 600 civilians killed. Occupation Watch reports on US snipers shooting kids, women, the elderly, ambulance drivers, fugitives, people carrying white flags, you name it. Tags: Add Comment # 2004-04-17 Israel ElectronicIntifada cites Bush: At their joint press conference following their meeting, Bush said that Palestinian refugees should be resettled in a Palestinian state, not in Israel. Sharon had wanted such a statement of US opposition to Palestinian refugees exercising their right of return to homes in Israel from which they were expelled or fled. Bush also said that any final peace deal should reflect that “realities on the ground and in the region have changed greatly.” This was a nod to Sharon’s demand that Israel ought to be allowed to keep its large illegal colonies in the occupied West Bank. [1] What happened to Human Rights Article 13.2: Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country. The EI article is about Sharon’s visit to Bush, his statements just before he left, and comparing them with other statements people from the so-called “peace camp” made and the agreements reached in the Geneva Initiative. But as far as the Palestinian Authority is concerned, there is a difference – not in substance – but in style. While Labor has historically preferred to get PA endorsement and consent for Israeli colonization (and the PA has with few exceptions obliged), Sharon has no need for the PA. This explains why Palestinian leaders are prepared to make a fuss when Sharon says something, but remain silent and cooperative when their “friends” in the Israeli “peace movement” say exactly the same things or worse. For Palestinian “ministers” actual peace is not a requirement. All they need is an endless “peace process” in which they are seen as “partners.” For this they have repeatedly shown that they will pay any price unless and until pressure from the people they purport to represent stops them from committing irreversible blunders. Tags: Add Comment # 2004-04-21 I’m back. It seems that the cablemodem is working only sporadically, however, so not much connectivity on my side… I also got over 500 mails (mostly spam). Add Comment # 2004-04-24 Sudan Now is the time for the politicians of this world to show that they have learned something from the atrocities in Rwanda. It seems that a similar disaster is unfolding in the Sudan. [1] We recently documented massive atrocities in Darfur, a large region, about the size of France, in western Sudan. Government troops and government-backed militias are conducting a systematic campaign of ethnic cleansing. They are killing and raping civilians and burning their villages, forcing nearly one million people to flee. Thousands have died, and estimates are that hundreds of thousands more could perish from disease and starvation. The United Nations calls Darfur the worst humanitarian crisis in the world. […] We would be grateful for a gift that can help defray the$300,000 we will need to undertake this work. Your contribution will underwrite research in one of the most forbidding regions of the world. Transport and communications are extremely difficult, and hence, expensive. The government is trying to obstruct human rights monitoring. Obtaining information in such a hostile environment is complicated, and requires the sophisticated approach our investigators bring. […] http://hrw.org/donations/

– Kenneth Roth, Executive Director, Human Rights Watch, in an urgent appeal recently sent via email.

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# 2004-04-24 Wikis

I took some time to add more info to my FOAF file. See SocialNetworkSoftware for more. In order to facilitate editing of the files (the files are uploaded instead of normal wiki text so that the rendered pages cannot confuse newbies…), I improved the Oddmuse:wikiupload script a bit.

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# 2004-04-25 Iraq

MurrayAltheim offered a link to an Article on Prospect Magazine [1] on #wiki, which he had received from SunirShah. In the article, we have a fictive dialogue between Osama Bin Laden and Gandhi by Bhikhu Parekh… I just started reading it, but am enjoying it.

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# 2004-04-25 Movies

We saw Aguirre, der Zorn Gottes (IMDB:0068182) today. We were very impressed and watched the entire movie again, this time with audio commentary (something I rarely do). It seems that most of what we see in the movie actually happened to the crew: Inundations, Kinski hitting his own men with a sabre (luckily not a very sharp one), the mountain treck, … Very impressive.

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# 2004-04-26

Just found a Joel on Software article [1] on Software Developer Productivity via a Lilia Efimova’s blog [2].

What drives me crazy is that ever since my first job I’ve realized that as a developer, I usually average about two or three hours a day of productive coding.

Say it, brother!