Sunday, 19-Mar-23 12:42
Kirjasuositus - Kari Haakana: Tapa hänet ensin

Kari Haakanan Tapa hänet ensin on erittäin mukaansa tempaava pageturner, kansainvälisen tason jännäri. En edes muista, milloin olisin viimeksi lukenut kirjan yhdeltä istumalta läpi, mutta nytpä näin kävi. Vahva suositus!

Niin, ja erinomaista Minna Canthin päivää. Lempilainaukseni häneltä

Kaikkea muuta, kunhan ei vaan nukkuvaa, puolikuollutta elämää!
-- Minna Canth
Wednesday, 22-Feb-23 13:05
Content Explosion and Web 3.0

I think we now know what Web 3.0 is for real. We had a false start with IoT (where S stands for security, as the joke goes); and then the crypto folks started waving blockchains as Web 3.0. But I think what actually launches Web 3.0 are the Large Language Models, such as ChatGPT.

You see, I think of Web as content, not technology. Web 1.0 was mostly static content, created by professionals using arcane magic such as HTML and Javascript. Web 2.0 was about people manually writing, laboring their small little blogs in their own little contents of the websphere, loosely connected by technologies such as RSS and Atom and Blogger, without any knowledge of the underlying technology. Web 2.5 was about the consolidation of Web 2.0 onto large platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and TikTok, where content creation and consumption was made as easy as humanly possible.

See where I’m going with this?

ClarkesWorld - a web fanzine that publishes short scifi stories and takes submissions from all over the world - had to stop taking in submissions because of the sheer volume of AI generated drivel.

The number of AI -written books on Amazon that are sold for $1 has exploded.

Your local neighbourhood marketing person is thinking about how to utilize ChatGPT in their messaging.

Even your budding nerdy artist friend who never had the drive to do ten thousand hours of brushstrokes to be a painter is now delving into the depths of Midjourney prompts and plugins to produce art.

The problem isn’t with using AI for these kinds of things. The problem is that everyone who can is doing it. And that leads to a never-before-seen explosion in content on the internet.

This is what I believe to be the essence of “Web 3.0”. First professionals with deep technical skills, then amateurs with some skills, now AIs driven by amateurs with little or no skill.

You thought spam in your inbox was bad? Now prepare for every single meaningful content out there to be completely and utterly drowned by AI-generated noise.


Unless - and we of course will, or we leave the internet altogether - we figure out a way to filter the AI spam, much like we do right now. We know some of the tools already from the spam wars - whitelisting, paid access (I think Musk is absolutely right in making the Twitter API paid-only, because he does see the danger of combining AI with Open APIs), algorithmic filtering, trust networks, etc.

But still I fear that a massive amount of the future internet traffic will be AIs screaming to each other - one trying to constantly figure out a way to get its message across, the other trying to block it. And considering that AIs will become self-learning, because it is more efficient than teaching them manually, they will become very, very good at their job. Insomuch that stepping into the open internet in the future will be dangerous to your mental health.

Will that mean that the future is either very distributed, with people again hiding in their small corners with whitelisted participants, trying to keep AI-generated content out; or will it consolidate to an even smaller number of players, who will use their power to strike the right balance between AI-generated content and regular humans?

I think we're going to find out soon.

Tuesday, 21-Feb-23 11:07
...and while I'm at it...

I fixed a long-standing bug that allowed people to comment on older entries. This was basically an open invite for spammers. It won't keep everyone away, because I did it at UI level and not server level, but since it should keep a lot of the drive-by spammers away. Which are pretty rare these days - it seems that the work that search engines have done to keep link farming at bay, and the fact that personal blogs aren't really that popular anymore and traffic is concentrated on a few high-power sites, are causing the comment spammer to be a dying breed.

Monday, 20-Feb-23 11:05
Safari & ChatGPT woes

Okay, since my CSS knowledge is a little bit outdated, I resorted to talking to ChatGPT about how to make plain CSS to achieve the three-column layout you see here.

It gave me some real nice code for layouts; both using display:flex and display:grid, but I. Just. Can't. Make. These. Work. On. Safari. On. iPhone. Safari on the Mac, no problem. Chrome on the iPhone, no problem. But for some reason it feels like Safari on iPhone is announcing the screen width to be far larger than it actually is, so all media queries go all wonky. I know all of you CSS heroes out there are laughing right now and shaking your heads saying "yeah we know", or "use a framework you dork", but before I go the framework route (which would be a bigger job) I sort of want to understand why this is so.

Any hints?

Okay, figured out the reason - very aggressive caching by Safari. Grid layout works, but I had to learn how to connect my phone to the local dev environment [which was pleasantly easy] to actually debug the issue. A quick cache purge and yes, turns out that I had after all done everything right on my final attempt... Classic rookie mistake there :-D

Sunday, 19-Feb-23 21:05
Why I like distractions

Okay. So everybody hates distractions. You are working on something important, and you get a message, or a call, or the kid decides to tape your cat to the ceiling fan, or someone at work wanders at your desk and wants to ask a real quick question. Or you distract yourself with an important cat video or a quick peruse at Instagram, and never seem to get anything done.

It sucks. Totally.

But I had a bit of an epiphany today. It was the last class of the improv course I've been taking, and the instructor made us do annoyingly hard things in front of the class, like "you can only use three word sentences" and "you must have a dialogue without ever using the letter 'U'". And they seemed completely arbitrary, but we did those nevertheless because it was all so much fun, but then he said something remarkable: These exercises are designed to distract your conscious mind from the fact that you are performing in front of people by giving it something else to think about. Avoiding a letter, thinking in three-word sentences, using only sounds without meaning... It's all just a ruse and a distraction for the busy mind that keeps worrying about such things like "how do I look" and "am I funny enough".

This, I believe, is an important lesson. Distracting yourself at the right moment is a skill that you can learn and use to a great advantage. We often just distract ourselves without meaning and without the skill by glancing at the phone or just calling; but a skilful distraction can free your brain from a dead end it has driven itself. Some people take walks, or listen to music, or even sleep before making a hard decision, but I think this again is a skill you can develop consciously.

Magicians are known to spend endless hours to practice how to cause unnoticeable distraction in other people. You think you're following what they do, but your attention is exactly always where they want it to be. They know how to draw your attention to the right place at the right moment, and play the fine line between distraction and attention. So if they can do it, we all should be able to distract ourselves at the right moment to free our mind.

Douglas Adams wrote in his Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, that the secret to flying is to distract yourself at the right moment so that you forget to hit the ground. To me it's always been a very comforting idea, and a demonstration of the power of a good distraction (obviously ignoring the physicist screaming inside me).

I don't know if this makes sense - it's been too long since I've actively written things like this in English, and I feel I'm a bit rusty. Oh well.

Sunday, 19-Feb-23 01:49
Tuning the fork

Some minor tuning is occurring. I have dockerized the web server (which makes things such as changing the layout a LOT easier since I can test it now locally), and I have made the CSS layout a lot more responsive (thanks, ChatGPT for the help). However I seem to have lost all the attachments, so there seems to be something weird still going on. Will continue a bit later, it's way too late now.

(Well, I did continue. Images are back, but for some reason on Safari on iOS the layout just doesn't work too well. Chrome on mobile works perfectly as designed. Weirdly enough, Safari on desktop is fine as well. Oh well. Have to look into this later. In the mean time, just rotate your phone...)

Thursday, 02-Feb-23 23:11
How about the "Most Fun Prototype" instead?

I had lunch with a colleague, and she mentioned that she had made an MVP (Minimum Viable Prototype) of a "cafe in a van". They had tried it out for a couple of days, but also did branding, printed matching aprons, napkins... The whole works.

I pointed out that it's not an MVP really - they would've figured out if it works even without spending all the time on branding. If you're unknown, and you're just trying stuff out, just shipping the waffles and coffee is sufficient. But she insisted that it was an MVP - because they learned whether they would enjoy it or not. But that's not really what the "minimum viable" implies in the MV part of the prototype.

So I think we need a new word for this kind of experimentation. It's not a "Minimum Viable Prototype" where you validate a business case - it's the "Most Fun Prototype" where you try to simply have as much fun with an idea as you can in a time-boxed environment. See if you and any customers really like doing whatever it is that you want to do!

I think we need a lot more MFPs instead of MVPs. We should all be experimenting with things, having fun with them, instead of trying to achieve "a laser-sharp focus on execution". Life is more than success.

Sunday, 15-Jan-23 22:51

Happy New Year! Today I went to take part of the FLTP test, which is probably the largest electric vehicle consumption test event in the world right now. There were maybe about 70 cars of all makes and models, and pretty much the worst possible weather for an EV - high winds, sleet pouring from the sky, collecting on the road, and +2°C. We drove three rounds each, one highway, one regular road, and one city drive, measured the consumptions and submitted them.

But what I found very delightful was a small moment when I turned around and started driving back to the starting position - I saw an endless stream of electric vehicles on the road. It felt like I had very briefly touched the future - hopefully not too distant one - where most of the cars on the road are electric and we're free of the fossil fuels. Today it lasted only ten minutes or so, but I think the transition in western countries is going to happen faster than people think. The thing is - it's not about replacing _all_ of the fossil cars, it's about driving _as many electric kilometers_ as possible. Since cars pollute little if they're not driven, we're in no hurry to replace the old cars that barely get any distance on them. We need to replace the new ones which are driven the hardest. And that happens fast.

(Took some photos but am too lazy to upload them at this hour. Check out my instagram instead.)

Saturday, 18-Jun-22 15:05
Happy customer checking in!

Thanks to the recommendation of a friend, I found these awesome recycling bags that will now replace a rather worn out plastic bag as my main receptable for paper and cardboard. The upgrade in the kitchen feels is immediate. Though these were expensive, they seem very, very durable so I think I'll get a good 20 years or something out of them. And at least they are far more pleasant to watch.

However, I did not just receive a great product. I got this wonderful handwritten card and some extra sweets with my order. This is what we at work call a Magic Moment - the feeling that you have suddenly made a connection, or found an unexpected source of joy, or realized that you have made a better purchase than you intended. They're those moments that make you go and recommend a service to a friend; or that make you go back and make a new order; or even just make you browse the catalogue - and recommend a product to a friend.

Those Magic Moments are however difficult to achieve. If you always add something extra to every order, it's a) bad for your margins and b) it becomes an expected thing as opposed to something new and wonderful. People get bored easily when things are repeated. (Every magician knows this - you must vary your performance. Doing three "pick a card, lose a card, find a card" -tricks in a row is just boring, no matter how skillful.)

But you don't need to feed people with a constant stream of magic moments. All you need is one, every now and then, so that people remember that moment when they were truly delighted or surprised and associate it with your service.

Friday, 17-Jun-22 00:48
Putting on the old LARP boots

After two decades of avoiding LARPs, I signed up on a whim to Seaside Prison, a LARP about the life of two families in occupied Åland. It was a black box LARP, so there was no preparation needed, which was nice.

To add to the experience of living under occupation, one of the players was from Gaza, and the LARP was mirroring many things that regular people in Palestine are experiencing daily.

It was a harrowing experience to say the least. My family suffered two big losses: My character lost a daughter and a niece in what could only be described as random acts of violence. Perhaps thanks to my late losses, it was frighteningly easy to feel the death of two fictional characters weighing heavily on my shoulders the rest of the game. But there was also laughter, and a wedding and dancing and chess. And watching the sea and small moments of togetherness.

But this game was some seriously heavy shit. As a co-player put it as "it feels somehow wrong to enjoy such a haunting game." I don't know if it is wrong, but I did thoroughly enjoy it, even if it ended up being a bit of a cathartic experience. Tears might have been real, but the deaths were not, and we did all sit down and enjoy a beer afterwards.

Thinking back, it's actually really rare to get five hours of uninterrupted time for yourself these days. Even on the best of days, usually you at least glance your cell phone every hour, but today we were completely offline, and just played together. I'm starting to remember why I like LARPing. Not because it's escapist, but because of the way you can investigate and explore new ideas, new places, new situations and your own self in a safe, immersive way. In a way, that actually sounds much like what I would describe my ideal job - the joy of discovery without interruption.

Anyway, will play again. It has really been too long.

"Come with me tonight so that we might make tonight a shared past, says the one afflicted with longing. I will come with you to make a shared tomorrow, says the one afflicted with love. She does not love the past and wants to forget the war that has ended. He fears tomorrow, because the war has not ended and he does not want to grow older."

- Mahmoud Darwish-محمود درويش, In the Presence of Absence

Monday, 06-Jun-22 07:15
Life changes

Exactly sixteen years ago, I was sitting in my office in Nokia Ruoholahti, and feverishly hitting F5 to refresh my blog. An hour earlier, I had posted my marriage proposal to my blog (which ended up being featured in Digitoday - so I am possibly the only person ever whose marriage has been featured in IT newspapers. How supergeeky is that?) She said yes (after keeping me waiting for five hours - asynchronous proposals are NOT a great idea for the impatient!), and things went very much uphill from there.

But things don't always end up happily ever after. We are now separated, and divorce papers have been filed a month ago. This is very painful and difficult for me, but somehow I think I need to close the loop by posting it here on this blog as well. The internet is now however a different place now, and my readership has plummeted, so I'm not going to pour my heart out too much here. Those who need to know the details do know them already, and if you want to get in touch with me, you know how to reach me. I am grateful for anyone who did and who wanted to help.

However, this all has prompted me to start writing more. I write here, I write elsewhere. I have the free time, and while I am trying to rebuild my life, I will be grabbing onto some old, dear things that I think need a bit of dusting, such as this blog. Let's see where this path takes me again.

Sunday, 05-Jun-22 11:19

So, finally saw Top Gun: Maverick yesterday. The original holds a dear place in my heart - it was a part of a growing up ritual, when we had a small sleepover party in a friend's place with no parents home, and we could watch the movie from a big screen since they had a video projector and a sound system. I recently rewatched the original with my kid who's 13, and with a few more years under the belt I realized how incredibly well made the movie is. It's not high art, but it is absolutely beautifully shot and lighted. Many of the scenes in it are iconic, and for good reason.

So Top Gun: Maverick had some very, very big shoes to fill. It succeeds in some and fails in some. It's very much a sequel in writing and style. I don't know if it's better or worse, but it is the sequel that the original Top Gun should have. Aerial shots are as gorgeous as ever, plot holes are wide enough to ride an F14 through, characters are thin - but this is all what we would expect. Where this movie trails the original is the cinematography and shooting. It beautifully replicates some shots from the old movie (and the beginning is absolutely a blast to watch, music and all), but doesn't quite elsewhere live up to the same level of iconic imagery. But it does make it up on the flight imagery, of which there is a lot, and it's a beautiful mix of real-life extreme flying and CGI.

I was not at all unsatisfied watching this movie in an IMAX theatre. It's a movie that was worth making, and worth watching, if you were into the original.

Friday, 03-Jun-22 00:34

(Sorry, a bit of a drunken rant follows.)

I remember back in 2017-2018 telling a friend that "we should now enjoy these days, because it will only get worse from now on." I was specifically referring to the global climate catastrophe and the loss of wildlife, but considering how things went down from there, I'll accept my ahort-term victory prize as well: The global pandemic, the death throes of a superpower attacking Ukraine resulting in a global food crisis, rise of fascism, and my marriage going down the drain (which seems pretty small all things considered).

The thing is, none of those really my underlying predictions. Things will continue to go, in general, for the worse for the foreseeable future. Of course we will also find short-term victories: I am very glad to see the electrification of transport which is going pretty well (even if it will mean a huge reshuffling of jobs and automakers); the decarbonization of power generation (not going so well, but at least there is a possible path to victory); new technologies for agriculture (but maybe too little too late?); The global crusade against fake news (though it raises many, many questions); etc. I believe we will see in the next couple of decades a big reshuffling of power and money from old hands to new hands and vice versa, as we're trying to cope with the rapidly changing environment.

So, I think the important topic for everyone for the next 20 years should be resilience and adaptability. I don't believe in survivalism, because that's a last ditch effort to stay alive at any cost. Instead, I believe the winning societies will be the ones that embrace compassion, resilience, adaptability and reason. The Nordic countries are well suited for the future, because we already embody a large number of those qualities. I also believe that companies that are positively contributing towards a better society and embrace the same values do stand a better chance for long-term success, no matter the business model itself.

As I am aging, this realization is becoming increasingly important to me - it's not enough for a job to be interesting; I believe it has to contribute positively to the society. I've had a few offers from ad companies, and on some level they are interesting to me: big data, high optimization, lots of potential. But I have always turned these offers down because I just can't see how ad tech positively affects the society. Now I work for a co-op (or a conglomeration of co-ops to be precise) to bring food to people. This matters to me, on a level that an ad service could never do.

I don't really know what I'm aiming at here. I just have a bad feeling about the future, and I just hope I can make a small positive impact somewhere, somehow. For your kids and mine.

Tuesday, 31-May-22 21:52
Generalists, T-shaped people and geeks

Quite often, especially in HR circles, people talk about T-shaped people. That is, people who have a wide horizontal knowledge, and a very deep knowledge in one area. Sounds good, yes? Good generalists, yet highly sought-after specialists?

But what I really feel like is that I am like one of those bead curtains from the 60s - wide horizontal knowledge and then a myriad of little spheres of knowledge hanging from threads. I just read today of a friend who was researching something for a game, and ended up in an internet rabbit hole and now knows a LOT about certain historical tidbits, yet was unable to write his game forward. And this keeps happening to me and to a lot of geeks I know. You just know many things, and you know connections between them, and you see this wonderful, colorful tapestry of knowledge and people and things, all interconnected and interweaved in countless of interesting and fascinating manners.

To me, that embodies being a geek, really. The love and passion of knowledge that goes sometimes wide, sometimes deep, sometimes both but never goes boring.

Saturday, 28-May-22 16:26

Finally finished Star Trek - Picard. I did like it quite a bit, even though at times it felt a bit like "see what TNG cast has done since." But on the other hand, I am getting older too, so I kind of get this idea. It's nice to see familiar faces that were close to me so many years ago, and remember the happier times.

This was a nice series, and I kind of don't want there to be a Season 4. This feels like the perfect ending for an era.

"There are moments in our lives we fear to relive, and others we long to repeat. While time cannot give us second chances, maybe people can."

-- Jean-Luc Picard

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"Main" last changed on 10-Aug-2015 21:44:03 EEST by JanneJalkanen.