Friday, 23-Apr-10 12:19
Atheist propaganda

This NASA image of the Sun was just too gorgeous to ignore, so I put in a small reminder about one of the fundamental facts that we often forget.

It's alien, it's frightening, it's beautiful, it's dangerous and we're completely and utterly dependent on it. If it burps in the wrong way, we're all dead.

(For larger images, click on the link.)

Thursday, 22-Apr-10 16:44
Vihreämpi Suomi

Suomen hallitus siis päätti esittää, että tuulivoimalle tulee syöttötariffit ja että muitakin uusiutuvia energianlähteitä aletaan suosia melko aktiivisesti. Tämä on ihan loistavaa!

Sääli vain, että keskustelu on jäänyt jumiin ydinvoiman ympärille. Ymmärrän toki ydinvoiman riskit ja haitat (luultavasti jopa melko hyvin - olen kuitenkin koulutukseltani fyysikko), mutta yksi seikka jää näissä keskusteluissa usein huomiotta: pahimmatkin ydinvoimaan liittyvät katastrofiskenaariot ovat lokaaleja. Kyllä, ne voivat olla järkyttävän pahoja, mutta koko ihmiskunnan kannalta isonkin alueen saastuminen on loppujen lopuksi vain haitta. Sen sijaan jatkuva hiilidioksidin dumppaaminen ilmakehään ja hiilen ja öljyn aiheuttama saastuminen on globaali ongelma, josta kärsivät kaikki ja jota ei voi paeta. Ja sikälimikäli IPCC:n ennusteet ovat oikeassa (ja tämä peli kannattaa pelata varman päälle, ja olettaa, että ovat), niin ilmaston lämpenemisen aiheuttamat katastrofit ovat kertaluokkaa pahemmat.

Joten vaikka äänestänkin Vihreitä, niin en ole kovin myrtynyt ydinvoimaluvista. Ydinvoima on kuitenkin riittävän saasteeton (poislukien ydinjäte, joka jälleen on vain lokaali ongelma) ja antaa meille tarpeeksi energiaa, jotta voidaan siirtyä pidemmällä tähtäimellä tyystin pois saastuttavista energiamuodoista. Ja kuvittelen, että uusiutuvien energiamuotojen tuki oli Vihreiltä työvoitto ja riittävä hinta periaatteista lipsumiselle.

Monday, 19-Apr-10 23:00
No boom today, boom tomorrow

There's a lot of talk about how we could save the Earth if a stray asteroid was going our way. Wikipedia - who else - has a long page on different asteroid mitigation strategies.

But, as a software engineer, I cringe at techniques which haven't actually been tried out. It is scary to think that we wouldn't try any of those things before we really NEED it to work, or else all humanity dies.

So here's a question: why don't we test out one or two of those deflection techniques and bombard Venus? Take an engine and put something on collision course with an actual planet. We could also blow up one or two stray asteroids to see if theories about rock and nukes really hold up... Venus is quite similar to Earth in size, so we might get useful info on what to actually expect from a really large explosion. Or a bunch of small ones if we blow up an asteroid just close by.

Just saying... ;-)

Monday, 19-Apr-10 09:40
Scary computers 101

My serious laptop.
When my Macbook Air[1] decided to implode (well, just the hard drive really) I reverted back to my old trusty Thinkpad X40. It's actually a pretty nice small laptop, though now it's rather underpowered. I've got it decorated with Hello Kitty -stickers, which always gets a chuckle and a curious look in meetings[2], and extra attention at airport security control. However, it does have one pretty major design oddity.

Whenever it runs out of battery, it wails like a banshee. "EEEE-OOOO". "EEEE-OOOO". A horrible, piercing noise which cuts through silence like a high-powered laser through dissidents. Last night, it woke us both up, and we just laid there, panting, all ready to fight or flee, until I remembered that little feature and was able to calm my panicking wife.

Once, it went off in the overhead compartment during plane takeoff. I tried to look as nonchalant as possible as everyone else in the plane was gripping their armrests and peeing their pants. It's NOT the sound you want to hear at the possibly most dangerous phase of flying.

Luckily, the screeching doesn't last too long. It just rings a couple of times, before the machine runs out of battery and shuts down. And that's what's really curious - what on Earth did go through the designer's mind? I mean, I could understand it if it screamed five minutes before battery runs out, so that you could actually have time to find a charger and plug it in? But no, this really just informs about the "well, I'm out of battery and you can't do anything about it anymore" -condition. Why would I ever want to be signaled about something I can't really do nothing about, and what I will notice the next time I try to start the laptop anyway?

And why, in <deity>'s name, did it have to be designed to be so loud?

[#1] Which is, IMHO, pretty much a toy. You might be happy with it if you just need a typewriter replacement which can do email, but it is the lousiest and most underpowered tool ever. Not recommended for serious geeky work. Especially since it appears that it overheats easily and kills the hard drive if you do some heavy-duty work on it.

[#2] Yeah, always had trouble with serious meetings. Hm... As long as I had that one, I was never promoted. Since I got myself a Mac for work, I got promoted twice. Coincidence?

Monday, 12-Apr-10 09:02
Packing the bags

So… After eight very interesting years, I'm leaving the Mothership and taking a plunge into the great unknown. But the fact is - I have been with Nokia for eight years, and while the relationship has been mutually quite beneficial, fun and rewarding, I feel like I have seen now enough of this particular valley for a while, and I'm yearning to see what is on the other side of the mountains.

I am very grateful to all the people I have met during this journey, and who have taught me, both in good and bad. And it's been a long journey. Remember, I joined Nokia in 2002 when 7650, the first S60 phone, was still under wraps and was the thing which pretty much started all this smartphone brouhaha. Now, smartphones are everywhere, and there's a good, fresh and exciting competition on that promises to be every bit as interesting as the introduction of the internet to the whole world. Good luck to everyone, since no matter what happens, it's the people who win.

What's next then? Well, I'm taking up something more ambitious and challenging: I've accepted the offer to join Thinglink as their CTO. Yes, it's a startup. Yes, it's going to mean plenty of work. And yes, if stuff breaks down, it will be all my fault.

But Thinglink will also be a fertile ground to grow some seeds of fresh thought and opportunity. We'll be doing some really exciting stuff, and hopefully knock over a few established thoughts while doing so. As the "Godfather of NFC" (as I am sometimes jokingly referred as) at Nokia I've had my hand in making a part of the Internet of Things to go live, and I ain't done yet.

(Oh, and BTW, we'll be hiring. Watch this space.)

Private comments? Drop me an email. Or complain in a nearby pub - that'll help.

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