Social Networking
TypePad scores ... 8.5!
I've decided to keep the Typepad paid-for-account. In general, TypePad is very usable and is connected to a multitude of social services that allow an easy integration (like FeedBurner). I'm currently considering splitting the TypePad page into at least 2 seperate blogs — one for research/science/A.I. stuff and the other for more general issues. But nothing is decided except that I will seldomly post on this blog from now on.

Here's a link to my new blog.

-hthth
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Trying out TypePad
For the next 30 days I'll be blogging at a Typepad trial-account I just set up.

Come on over to hthth.typepad.com and check it out.

-Hrafn Th.
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Considering blogging services
I've been using RapidWeaver as a webdevelopment tool now, ever since I changed to look of my website and actually started blogging. However, there are some serious problems with it that continue to annoy me — such as:

  • Not being able to edit HTML code directly (aside from the basic theme)
  • Only being able to blog from home (e.g. no web-interface for blogging and my laptop is broken)
  • Some bad bugs started sprouting wings when I started looking into social networking and the main blogosphere (wrong titles showing up on Technorati search, etc..)
  • I have my suspicions that the generated HTML is not very SEF (search engine friendly)


So I've started to look for a blogging service — and looked at Typepad.com today. They charge for hosting, which is bad for a poor, poor student who just wants to do research and disregards other job offers. But, over these past few months I've grown to enjoy blogging pretty much. It enhances your writing skills and incites you to soak in more information from all around the world. So maybe I'll go for a paid server.

The interface of Typepad is quite nice, and you're able to customize most of the components on the site (direct access to HTML is only available to pro members, which is $14.95 a month). If anyone has any thoughts or recommendations I'd be glad to hear them.

To be continued....
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On being first with the story ...
A few blogs ago I wrote about how I found a site where you're able to buy radioactive materials online for $69. This was in relation to Polonium 210 that killed Litvinenko, the former Russian spy in Britain.

So now, 3 days later — I see that CNET News and the San Francisco Chronicle & Information Week are finally catching up, talking about a site online that sells Polonium 210 for $69. Also, this blogger, this blogger and this blogger. Savvy I'm savvy! Although, Kathryn Cramer1 blows me out of the water explaining how polonium is made.

According to the latest news, it seems that P210 is the new anthrax: "Polonium-210, which has recently become well-known as one of the deadliest substances in the world". News-hype or reality? Note the entertaining play on words "one of the deadliest..." — on what scale? Really.

1: Originally, "Kathryn Cramer" read "this guy" — an accident which I blame on browsing too many blogs at the same time. Ms. Cramer was kind enough to leave me a comment informing me of my mistake. My sincerest apologies. Check out her blog — a really great mixture of entertainment and information.
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Apple Stock Reaches High: I Bonk Myself on the Head
Apple Logo
About three months ago, I was going to buy some Apple stock. As a serious mac user and supporter I thought it was about time to ... oh, who am I kidding, I knew the stocks were rising and was doing it for the money, ok? Well. Three months later I still have the E-Trade contracts on my table, and Apple stock has just hit a 52 week high. The peak, it seems, is due to the news of the upcoming iPhone — bonk, bonk, bonk, bonk....

Apple Stock Chart
Better get a move on it before things get better for Apple, and worse for me. This is the stock chart for Apple (APPL) for the last three months....bonk.

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Science & brawling
I'll be doing a martial arts exhibition tomorrow at a special premiere of Ronny Yu's "Fearless". Diversity is always fun, especially when you spend most your time inside reading and writing.

Jet Li's Fearless poster
A couple of days ago, amidst all my studying for the final exams coming up, my former martial arts instructor called me up and asked if I could do him a favor. Turns out the favor is to show some of my (now rusty) martial arts skills. XFM, a local radio station is having a special premiere on what's supposed to be Jet Li's last martial arts movie, Fearless, and before the show we go up on the stage and do our thing.

What is our thing? You might ask if you haven't known me that long. Well, what better way explain but to show you a little video! I managed to dig up the only video I have of one of my sparring sessions since when I was working out (see below, quicktime). Unfortunately, it's in a bit of a bad shape (imported from VHS), but watchable — kind of like my body is now when compared to how it was four years ago: in a bit of a bad shape, but watchable. Maybe this exhibition will give me the jumpstart I need to start working out again.

Well, to give a bit of insight into the video: I used to practice "Scientific Fighting" — reality based self-defense training. The classes themselves were basically as you can imagine a martial arts class, but on occasion we dressed up in protective gear and "sparred" full-contact to see what good our training was doing.

The video below is from one of these sparring sessions, which are incredibly hard on your body and usually required using muscles you didn't know you had (I've cut out the parts where we take each other down and wrestle on the floor, they're generally boring to watch). I remember on more than one occasion having felt like I was passing out after these sessions, just from pure exhaustion. Great excercise. Really. It is.

Anyway, without further ado, I present the sparring.
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Now is the Winter of our Disconnect
Finally, after a dreary week of a dead internet connection, I'm online again. What a ride — and indeed, there's a story to it.

It all started last monday when my router, in what I thought was just another moodswing, promptly decided to cease and desist. Of course, on a monday it's worse — as that meant no relaxation time in front of the computer reading news over my coffee before heading to school. Dreadful.

It so happens that my router has been acting up every now and then, but restarting it usually does the trick. In my naiveness, when restarting didn't work I decided to exchange it at my service provider for a newer model. Happy back at home I plugged in my brand new router, but of course: .... nothing. That's when I finally noticed it: The phone-line seemed to be picking up no ADSL connection! Argh! In a panic attack I called my service provider, hoping that it'd just be something on their side... like a coffee spill on some wires, or a rat that'd found a nesting place on one of their motherboards. But alas, no such luck.

Two days later I'd made two drives (and a dozen phonecalls) to have my router reconfigured, exchanged to another model, and then changed back. I'm unsure whether I should call them incompetent, or call myself a sucker for driving back and forth all the time. At this point I'd grown a bit annoyed of the back-and-forths, and frustrated from not getting my "information fix" daily, so the providers sent a man over to my house to make sure I wasn't just a moron who'd forgotten to plug in his router phone-cord. Needless to say, the visit didn't fix the connection. But it was quite ironic later to find out that
the man had left my router's phone-cord unplugged.

If this were The Shining, I'd have written a novel already.

But the show went on. Not being quite content with sitting around while other people procrastinate fixing my life-line, I called up the national phone company (all ISP's in Iceland lease connections from a single phone company). After some explanations and a couple of headscratches, the technical "expert" proudly proclaimed he'd realized what the problem was: You haven't had an active ADSL connection since 2004, at which point you moved to the internet service provider Hive.

Seeing dead internet connections
"I see dead internet connections"
My Sixth Sense Experience
No ADSL connection since 2004? This is what the main character in the movie "Sixth Sense" must have felt like when he discovered he'd been dead for years.

As if this weren't weird enough, my internet service provider (ISP) is called Vortex — Hive is quite another ISP whom which I've never had any business with. How mind-boggingly bizarre.

It turns out that my ISP is leasing lines from another ISP, who's leasing lines from the national phone co. — a "secret" my ISP was not so willing to admit after my Sherlock-styled inquiry into these matters. Now, I'm not much for internet styled abbreviations, but WTF? It also seemed that this "collaboration" was hush-hush amongst the workers of the two ISP's, because in my conversations with Hive, a special guy had to be called in, and even he didn't know who needed to alert the public phone company of the problem.

Today, I was finally blessed with a green, static light indicating I was online again, after at least 4 rides to my ISP, a couple of rides to the University to check my mail, and about 15 phonecalls allover Reykjavík to figure out just what was going on.

In any case, it wasn't all bad. I made a pledge to myself, or an early new-years resolution, to start drawing more again. More on that later.
As Krisleifur @ CADIA pointed out today, breaking your habits every now and then are usually very good for you.

But I'm still going to refer to these past 7 days as "The Great Disconnection of 2006".


Later.
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Icelamerican News
icelamerican_flag
About a year ago I was surprised when I heard that 365 Media (Iceland's media monopoly) was launching a new 24-hour news channel called NFS. For a country with the highest internet usage amongst the European countries, it made me wonder what exactly they were planning on telling us that we wouldn't already know.

This is why I wasn't surprised when I heard that the channel wasn't doing very well, and that it might jog onto a big brick wall sometime soon.

NFS_logo_sel
But I'm glad that it's going down — the channel is being run and directed in mediastyle pioneered by certain American newsstations, characterized by subjectivity, silly personal commentary and absurd melodrama regardless of the nature of the story. During interviews, NFS reporters ask: "Don't you think that's horrible?" instead of: "How do you feel about that"? Instead of a poker face in-between news, there's smalltalk and joke. Probably to make the viewers (us) feel a personal connection to them.

Now, I've been wondering for a while whether there really is something wrong with having a bit of personality and fun in between news of war, murder and general misery (three topics which are the emphasis of all newschannels)? But really, what personality? Is it really their personality? Before their station got named NFS, I don't remember them this jolly — is it possible that all the reporters liked the change of name so much that they suddenly became twice as jolly? Or maybe NFS is an acronym for Not Effin Sober?

All jokes aside, I'm appalled at times with blatant efforts for making "news that sell" — and I celebrate the possibility of NFS going down under.


While I'm on the subject of news reporting, I made a news-spoof a few months back when I was playing with iMovie. It's really got nothing to do with NFS, just a humorous take on news.
Check out the video above (in Icelandic), the sound is not top-quality so I recommend headphones.


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Modern Spectacles
Being the only one in my family who doesn't use glasses, it was only a matter of time.

Roughly a year ago I got my sight measured for the first time. The result was minimum nearsightedness but somewhat bad astigmatism, which certainly explained why I was seeing double. Without a lot of enthusiasm, I tried on a few styles. This included the standard look, the practical look — and the awesome Peter Sellers look (note how happy I am on the photo). However, I never found glasses that I was comfortable with wearing, aesthetically or with regards to comfort.


The The proud practicalist look
The standard
"don't notice my glasses"
look
The proud practicalist look
SP_A0119Peter Sellers
The Peter Sellers look!
Yesterday, however, I came upon a frame that I was happy with — and decided to go with to spare myself from seeing double text on the blackboards in the coming semesters at RU. The design is quite modern — hence the title of this entry: modern spectacles. I unfortunately don't receive them until tomorrow, so I can't include a photo to go with the others (the entry icon on my weblog mainpage is a close model).

IMG_3060
A distant look at gigantic electric poles.
I counted over forty.
However, to make the entry's title earn double meaning, I want to mention something else. For a minute forget nuclear reactors, skyscrapers and the moonlanding. Todays question is: how on Earth do we manage to plant all these electric-poles? Really, these things are gigantic! And not only do they cover incredible distances, but they go over mountains, cliffs, even small bays and lakes. Most definitely another quite remarkable achievement of mankind, especially when paired with the fact that it's not generally considered remarkable with regards to our other achievements. A genuine modern spectacle. Personally I think they're beautiful to look at, although that's not a Normality Certified™ opinion.
IMG_3120
The intricate metalworks of these constructs are fantastic.
I conclude this entry with the photo above, which was taken in a summerhouse-village in Hvalfjörður — a little north of Reykjavík.

Ignore this (if you want). Testing out Technorati.com.
Technorati Profile
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That Time of the Month
An attempt at a humorous title — sleeplessness involves grumpiness, physical weakness, and a general feeling of disorientation.


IMG_3152
Lie on your side and watch the time pass on the cheap, white clock with the nightmarish alarm sound — set for the time when your significant other is supposed to go to work. Forget your work, you'll be in zombie mode 'til one o'clock in the afternoon when you finally manage to find that right position (if you ever do), only to wake up around dinnertime knowing that by falling asleep you've sentenced yourself to another night of sleeplessness.

Author Chuck Palahniuk put it this way:

"When you have insomnia, you're never really asleep ...
and you're never really awake.
" [Fight Club]

Although the story's protagonist was describing a 2 year period of insomnia, it sums it up quite nicely for single nights as well. Once it's past 5am, you've usually spent your last drops of energy and desperately flip through your DVD collection to find a movie boring enough to fall asleep over. When you're a movie fanatic, however, you usually don't purchase movies you find boring — so this attempt is doomed from the start. Besides, you don't want to spoil the best movies by watching them too often.

It's not all doom and gloom, sometimes you'll catch a creative streak. Oddly enough, this seems to be a documented phenomena amongst us humans. If I were to go through my black books I'd probably find that most of the ideas are written after 11pm. Looking for a reference for this phenomena now, I came upon this page, Creative Insomnia — which seems to aim at inducing insomnia for creative purposes. They also have some products to help you sleep — one of which I thought was particularly entertaining:
"Sleep Mate is the best sleep machine—it sounds like a fan. With its movable top and collar, the sound is subtly adjustable from a soft hum to a louder whirr. $56.95".
It sounds like a fan? Why not just buy a fan then?

IMG_3159
To be compared with pictures of Mist Over Reykjavík

There's a certain feeling of peace in knowing that the city sleeps.


apple_dictionary
The Mac Tip for this Article:
If I use a word you don't recognize, put your mouse-pointer over the word, and while holding down Ctrl+Apple, press 'D'. This will bring up a dictionary-entry for the abstruse word.

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Mist Over Reykjavík
It's funny how sometimes you see more with an obscured view. These were taken today from my rooftop — showing what's usually an overview of western Reykjavík.
Addition: See this log entry for the same view during nighttime.
IMG_3138
IMG_3141
IMG_3140
Busy days, finishing a publication proposal as part of my Vélaldin project, and preparing for school which starts the 18th. Seems reports of various kinds are stacking up on my to-do list, including the ISIR report to the European Union which covers a two-year period. I can envision printer-ink expenses sucking the life out of me in the coming weeks.
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Beware US Box Office Toplist

If you intend to get a good overview of upcoming features, the U.S. Box Office Chart is not the best reference.

About 2-3 months ago I'd found a couple of movie titles that I found immensely interesting (when compared to movies such as "The Fast and The Furious").
The movies were:



Banlieue 13
Banlieue 13
Not necessarily a script-of-wonder (Although co-written by Luc Besson), but rather a visual feast as it sports Dave Belle and his amazing Parkour skills.

Hard Candy
Hard Candy
Sounds interesting1, and I was absolutely mesmerized by the poster.

But the excitement faded, new movies arrived that needed to be watched — and finally I'd forgotten about these two. Now, as mentioned before, I check the US box office list to keep track of new releases. But alas! These movies came and went without me noticing. Why? Probably because the US Box Office rarely contains foreign (B13) or strange (Hard Candy) films. Rather, the list sports movies such as Miami Vice (at the time this is written, it's at the top of the charts having made $25.7M in it's first weekend). For some reason, the relation of "Box" to the word "Square" makes a lot of sense in this context.

I thankfully re-discovered Hard Candy and B13 on the older UK Box Office Charts in an anxiety-attack caused by a feeling of having exhausted the Earth's Movie Resource.


______
1. I like not knowing movies' plots, and I assume you do too. Hence, my lips are sealed.
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Website Revamped
Using the brilliant iWeb-like software from Realmac — RapidWeaver allows me to easily maintain and update my website.

I must use this opportunity to point out what an outstanding job Apple is doing as a software entrepreneur — the interrelations of software in the iLife package is influencing the developer community to create "just-click-me-and-everything-happens-the-way-you-want" software. For example, RapidWeaver includes a relatively good "Photo-album" page template. Upon creating such a page (with a basic iTunes-like interface, click the + sign and you get a page), you get a listing of all the photos you have in iPhoto, allowing you to import captions, dates, etc... that you've previously added to iPhoto.

Once done. Click "Publish" and your stuff gets uploaded.

In short: Relief from an otherwise tedious process of URL copying and table-formatting madness.
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Please note: I strongly recommend not using Internet Explorer to view this page.