Sunday, October 29, 2006


On shift, we have various manuals which should explain the responsible persons what to do on shift. They should be easily readable, should be logical and should enable somebody new to the business to do the necessary tasks. Unfortunately they don't. They are very good examples on how not to write manuals. (With some notable exceptions, but unfortunately the hardware they describe isn't in use any more.)

These manuals have no clear typography. There is random usage of list, enumerated lists, bold and cursive printing. Stuff is not described in chronological order: quite often you find "do A after you have done B". This is bad. Better written would be "Do B. Then do A."

Tables and images are referred, but not shown, or in different sections than noted. No images of the hardware or the user-interface of the software. Everything is randomly ordered, no clear sections where to find stuff (software or hardware), no explanation what it does and what it does not, no differentiation between trouble-shoot sections and normal operation. To get from step one to step two you have to fight through a lot of words, which you don't need to read as long as it is working as it should.

Most of them were written by people who don't speak English as a first language. They want to sound professional, so they chose huge words. They used thesauruses to find elaborate words. The manuals are full of filling-words; if you would strip those, the manuals would be half as long and much more readable.

As a contrast, I read the manual for my DKW some time ago. It had very clear and precise steps, images, clear wording. Everything was ordered chronological, one step after the other. It stated at the beginning of each task the tools you need. After reading this manual I feel confident that I can do a complete overhaul of the engine. After reading the manuals on shift, I can't even tell what the thing the manual is about is doing or if it is working correctly.

A day at the Zoo

Originally uploaded by perreira.
I am on my last shift ever right now. From 16:00 to 24:00 I sit seven floors underground, stare at computer-screens and wait that something beeps. Most of the time it doesn't. It is not very entertaining...

This morning I went to the Zoo with two friends. So at least some fresh air and some stuff not related to computers or physics. Pictures here and soon here.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Social Science?

I have to give a short talk to educational science students about the usage of PowerPoint. So I am reading up a lot about PP and presentations, but also tried to get informed what exactly educational science students do...

I tried Wikipedia, the german version has some definition of Pädagogik, mainly saying, paedagogues don't know for sure themselves what it is all about. It has something to do with education and teaching, but most of it seems to be discussing about what exactly this branch of science is all about. From the main page I went to some special branches, which consisted of bulleted lists saying author A thinks that this branch does a, author B thinks it does b etc.

It seems it is a well defined science...

I prefer the natural sciences: if it runs away, it's biology; if it blows up, it's chemistry; if it doesn't work, it's physics. No need to argue what is the actual field of each science. Physics is whatever a physicist does...

Tuesday, October 24, 2006


European buerocrats have decided (well, wanted to decide, they are not yet completely in power) that it is dangerous to drink alcohol and we need warning labels on the bottles. Because that stopped everybody smoking. And if you forbid everything which may cause harm, then nobody will get harmed. Yep. Ban DHMO! It's the chemical with one of the highest dead tolls...

My new scanner didn't come with a scanning software. It didn't have a driver. It had a Solution Center, which updates itself continously to give me solutions. Yehaa, I never wanted my scanner to scan images, I always wanted it to provide me with solutions. (And by the way, the black and white solutions it provides are crap. I tried a program found on the net which still does the scanning instead of solving problems and this actually delivered brilliant images). In ages when all scanners are cheap and deliver a gazillion of dpi, well, that in these times the important thing would be supporting even esoteric OSes like Linux and having good software would improve sales, nobody would ever think of that.

Sony made it illegal for anybody else to sell their stuff. After infesting harmless people's computers with spyware. After making a lot of other decisions that made me never to buy a Sony product again.

This list of random rants could go on and on. The essence: all those important decision makers have completely lost their contact to reality. Why should they still be in contact with it? They get millions of dollars each year, they don't need to interface with the lifes of ordinary people. They don't get alcohol with warning labels, they sniff other stuff. They don't scan images, they let their underlings do it. And if those underlings complain, well, get new underlings which don't. They don't buy Sony stuff. They own Sony.

Can somebody remind me why the left doesn't address this but still discusses if Lenin or Marx was the better dialectic materialist (or whatever)? Why aren't people rioting in the streets? Why don't managers get shot? Why do we still vote for those idiots which support this?

We do not have to live in misery. Even if HP would make scanners that scans images instead of providing solutions they would get rich. Even if somebody else than Sony would sell PSPs, Sony would survive. Making people happy is the better option for all sides. This is what nobody seems to have understood (well, there are some, but usually these people are either highly drugged or got nailed to a cross and become the symbol of studid fundamentalist who also didn't get it).

I am angry.

Monday, October 23, 2006

As a small boy I had two dreams, and I was torn between them. At times I wanted to become scientist, and at other times I wanted ro run away and join the circus. But thanks to God and a career in the Departement of Energy's laboratories, I've been able to fulfill both dreams

C. Paul Robinson - Director of Sandia National Labs

Saturday, October 14, 2006


Today e-bay recommended as an ideal birthday present: a PhD...

Monday, October 09, 2006

Heinrich Heine

Mit dummen Mädchen, hab ich gedacht,
Nichts ist mit dummen anzufangen;
Doch als ich mich an die klugen gemacht,
Da ist es mir noch schlimmer ergangen.

Die klugen waren mir viel zu klug,
Ihr Fragen machte mich ungeduldig,
Und wenn ich selber das Wichtigste frug,
Da blieben sie lachend die Antwort schuldig.

Listening to Heinrich Heine Lyrik und Jazz

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Computers are teh suck

Why doesn't it just work? (And don't tell me to get a Mac or Windows or whatever, because they also suck...)

Apparently during the update from dapper to edgy, for some reason one of the essential system packages got lost, so I didn't have any consoles. After about 2 hours I fixed this.

Then I tried to get the external monitor thingy working. I sometimes got output in weird colours, sometimes nothing, sometimes X wouldn't start. Very annoying. Now I have this section in my xorg.conf and it works, cloning my screen to the external output:

Section "Device"
Identifier "Intel Corporation 82852/855GM Integrated Graphics Device"
Driver "i810"
BusID "PCI:0:2:0"
Option "backingstore" "true"
Option "XVideo" "true"
Option "VideoRam" "65536"
Option "XvMCSurfaces" "6"
Option "DynamicClocks" "true"
Option "MonitorLayout" "CRT,LFP"
Option "Clone" "true"
Option "DevicePresence" "yes"

Monday, October 02, 2006

Dear unknown Physicist...

... staying in the ground floor of my hostel: If you watch porn movies on your laptop, please close your window. It's not enough to close the curtain, you can still hear the sound. And yes, also ordinary people with a healthy sex live watch porn movies occasionally, not everybody who watches porn movies on a laptop is a socially disturbed jerk. But taking into account at where I am staying right now, this second type is much more probable...

I want to go back to real world.