Efectos Especiales

Ramblings, rants, musings, ideas and observations. Topics include (but are not limited to): programming (especially Python), books, games (especially CCGs and board games), astrology, design, writing, painting, etc.

icon:default #669 (old comments) Theo van Gogh vermoord

Theo van Gogh vermoord. I personally didn't like this guy at all... I thought he was disgusting, extremely rude and had a total disregard for other people's feelings. But that doesn't mean he deserved to die for that.

Is this what the Netherlands have come to?

[Update #1] What is just as bad as the pointless murder, or maybe even worse, is that events like these divide the people of the Netherlands. It didn't take long for opportunists to come out of their holes and blame their favorite scapegoat (whether it be Moroccans, muslims, foreigners, "the left", "soft" authorities, etc). Where 9/11 temporarily united the Americans, events like these seem to have the opposite effect for the Dutch. emoticon:nosmile

/* Posted by Hans Nowak at 2004-11-02 12:02 */

icon:rant #668 (old comments) Rant at 11

Since my faithful readers already know that I'm a crybaby and like to complain a lot, this rant probably won't come as a surprise.

I didn't really expect to get the PSF grant. After all, there were 64 proposals, so the chances of being one of the select few are slim. It's a bit disappointing, but hey, such is life. Maybe my project just isn't grant-worthy. I personally think Wax is rather useful, but maybe the PSF committee disagrees, and it's their money and their decision how to spend it. And admittedly I can think of a few reasons why people might reject it.

It would have been a lot less grating if they had just said that in the rejection note, though. "We're sorry, but there are other projects that we consider more useful than yours." OK, so be it. Instead, you get a note that makes you wonder what to think. Did they send everybody the same cookie-cutter email, or did they not bother to read the proposal at all? I mean, they bring up a number of arguments against it, yet all of these were covered.

If I pick the rejection note apart, there are really no valid arguments left.

"We understand that this is an ongoing project..." Yes, that's why I set a number of clear goals, that were to be met in the set time period. Some of these goals were: getting to a stable release (1.0), online documentation, a book, a specialized editor, a form designer, improved website, and database bindings. These are clear objectives. And how can it not be clear "how success could be told apart from failure"? These goals are met == success. They are not met == failure.

"...and that the proposed work will be done, anyway." The proposal mentions that I don't have much time to work on it, and that in order to get the project to a mature status, I will need to spend more time. Which I don't have, unless I spend less time on my day job. So, no, it will not "be done anyway". The whole idea of the grant is that it would be nice to get some monetary compensation for that work, so I can still pay my bills. Which brings us to the next part:

"It is not clear to us how precisely the funding would help to advance the project..." The proposal explicitly states that the money is intended to be compensation for lost income. Some of it to be spent on a Mac and a Linux machine, so I could develop and test Wax on those as well (currently I'm on Windows only). This is a grant for programming work; what *else* would money be spent on than work and hardware? I have seen proposals that don't even bother to spell this out, that's how obvious it is. So why play dumb?

"[it is not clear] what the current userbase of the software is (IOW, how many people would benefit from the results), " This is the only argument that makes a bit of sense. However, I don't really know what the current user base is. Since Wax is currently very immature and incomplete, *of course* people are going to wait until it's more mature. The big idea is to get it to that point, so it becomes a viable alternative. Who knows how many users it would or could have then. You'd think many people would be interested in having a GUI that is Pythonic, complete, portable, easy to learn and use, powerful, looks native, and doesn't have license issues. But at this point, looking at the number of users doesn't make a lot of sense.

So. Why bother me with bogus arguments? If you don't think it's worth spending money on, say so. Don't send a rejection letter that makes me feel like a student who didn't do his homework.

/* Posted by Hans Nowak at 2004-11-01 13:40 */

icon:halloween #667 (old comments) Trick or treat

Well, it was worth a try...

Re: The Wax Project

Thanks again for submitting your PSF grants proposal. Unfortunately,
we have to reject it. We understand that this is an ongoing project,
and that the proposed work will be done, anyway. It is not clear to
use how precisely the funding would help to advance the project, what
the current userbase of the software is (IOW, how many people would
benefit from the results), and how success could be told apart from

Kind regards,
Martin v. Löwis
(Chair of the PSF Grants Committee)

(One thing: Yes, I know that the call for proposals specifically states that "proposals should be for specific projects with a clear objective, rather than support for ongoing activities." That's why I set a number of clear goals, with a specific timeline. I also addressed the other points mentioned in the rejection letter, except for the user base issue. One wonders if they actually bothered to read the proposal...)

More on this, and on the future of Wax, later. I am curious to know who did (or will) get a grant.

/* Posted by Hans Nowak at 2004-10-31 12:47 */

icon:nl3 #665 (old comments) Inburgeringsexamen

Dutch readers might want to take a look at this so-called inburgeringsexamen. (For those who don't speak Dutch, inburgering means something like, adapting to Dutch customs and culture, so an inburgeringsexamen is an exam that tests just that.)

I'm Dutch, my parents are Dutch, my grandparents were Dutch, yet I didn't do so well on this test. emoticon:smile

I'll comment on this test later. For cheaters, the answers can be found here.

(Note that this exam is not "real"... but apparently some people think that these questions can, to some extent, be used to measure someone's "Dutch-ness".)

[Update #1] Op zoek naar informatie over het "echte" inburgeringsexamen kom je trouwens een hoop vreemde woorden tegen... "oudkomer", bijvoorbeeld. En "standbemensing". Of "moslima". (Een christenvrouw is zeker een "christina"?) Alsof de nieuwe spelling niet genoeg idiote woorden heeft geproduceerd... smartengeld, pannenkoek, etc. Dit terzijde. emoticon:smile

[Update #2] Some of these questions are tricky. I wonder if that's what the makers intended. For example, the highest point of the Netherlands is generally considered to be the highest geographical point, which is in Vaals (Zuid-Limburg). However, the quiz argues that the highest point is the broadcasting tower in Lopik. A similar case is the question about the first king of the Netherlands. King Willem I is generally considered to have been the first, *not* king Lodewijk Napoleon who was installed by Napoleon Bonaparte.

Others questions I just didn't know, like the lowest point, or what kind of blue the blue in the Dutch flag is. emoticon:puh

/* Posted by Hans Nowak at 2004-10-30 22:00 */

icon:books #664 (old comments) Why your life sucks (2)

The book I quoted from in the previous post, Why Your Life Sucks, is a self-help book. Those books often suck, but this one is actually rather good. It's practical; it helps you to identify problem areas in your life, and offers valuable advice on how to handle them. It's not without humor or self-deprecation either.

I'm not really comfortable quoting from this book... a short quote will probably be out of context, and a longer one may violate copyright. But some excerpts can be found online. For example, here.

/* Posted by Hans Nowak at 2004-10-30 20:28 */

icon:books #663 (old comments) Why your life sucks

When you invest your time and energy in stuff that drags you down, you die a little bit every day. Then your life force reduces to a dribble and you croak. Yet the Bible documents people who lived for hundreds of years, and there are people in remote regions today who live far past 100. Their lives are simpler and they do not fritter away their life force watching people hit each other over the head with chairs on Jerry Springer. They just live close to nature, eat yogurt, and develop meaningful relationships with llamas. So open your heart to a critter who won't dump you on national television and you will live long enough to get a birthday card from the President.

/* Posted by Hans Nowak at 2004-10-30 01:50 */

icon:adventures #662 (old comments) A tad of TADS [2]: decorations

(Previous articles: 1)

Decorations are objects that are part of the scenery. As such, they cannot be taken, moved, or even manipulated in any way. They are mostly there for flavor, although it is of course possible to make them part of a puzzle, or store valuable clues in their descriptions.

TADS offers a decoration object for this purpose. It's very easy to use.

startroom : room
  sdesc = "Fireplace"
  ldesc = "You are standing in front of a brick fireplace.
  Above the fireplace is a dusty mantle. "

fireplace : decoration
  location = startroom
  noun = 'fireplace' 'fire'
  adjective = 'brick'
  sdesc = "fireplace" 
  ldesc = "A warm fire crackles and glows in the fireplace."

/* Posted by Hans Nowak at 2004-10-24 21:12 */

icon:nl2 #661 (old comments) Product placement

The frikandel (or frikadel) is a typical Dutch snack food. It resembles a sausage, and is often consumed together with fries or other snack food like kroketten. Nobody knows what's in it, and that's probably for the best. emoticon:smile

The problem is that this delicacy is very hard to get in the US. Regular stores don't have it, and "regular" sausage doesn't even come close, flavor-wise. Having it sent from the Netherlands is not an option either, since it will defrost and get bad before it gets here.

Fortunatelty there are a few stores, scattered all over the country, that do sell this fine product. One of them is The Dutch Shop. We ordered some frikandellen, Dutch mayonaise (rather different from American mayonnaise!) and some meat spices. Delivery was fast, and all the items were actually there, unlike a previous order we placed a while back with "Mr. Croquette".

Visit the Dutch Shop for other tasty foods like hagelslag (sprinkles), rolmops (pickled herring with onion), chocolate letters, cheese, Douwe Egberts coffee, borrelnoten (savory coated nuts), drop (Dutch licorice), and much more. ^_^

/* Posted by Hans "it ain't much if it ain't Dutch" Nowak at 2004-10-23 09:23 */

icon:default #660 (old comments) Aftermath

Since the reinstall, I'm experiencing some weird connection problems. Blogging (among other things) will be very difficult until it's fixed.

By the way, I might have lost some emails in the Pegasus crash, so if you sent me something important and didn't get a reply, please send it again.

/* Posted by Hans Nowak at 2004-10-19 08:31 */