Archive for 2008


December 19th, 2008

Linus Torvalds, recently wrote about debugging hell in his private blog. What I read is a wonderful variation of Paul Watzlawick’s story of a man who is looking for his keys where the lantern shines instead of where he lost them:

Torvalds was desperately looking for the solution of a serious problem which seemed to occur only spontaneously and at a time where it could not be observed, analyzed or tracked. Later, a method was found which allowed to trigger the problem but it apparently had “nothing what-so-ever to do with the actual failure itself”. Eventually, colleagues found “the real clue” by looking at one incident where the problem did not occur.

A guide to understanding flow charts

December 17th, 2008
A flow chart guide to understanding flow charts

By; click image to get the picture.

What we want

December 16th, 2008

“If this is what you want”.

Want, wish, desire, need, necessity, to hope for, and long for, to envision and imagine, also habit, being used to, require, or lust, appetite, hunger, passion, zest, and — last but sure not least — love are all similar in some ways. One might say these notions are all the same as much as they are different — and differentiating.

And then, there is what we do, and there is what we talk (or write) about, which is just another act which we think of as being what we “want”.

This is (in short) what I wanted to say.


The way out

December 15th, 2008

Ratta looking for a way out

[Ratta is looking for a way out — not in.]

La peste de l’homme

December 10th, 2008

La peste de l’homme, c’est l’opinion de sçavoir. Voylà pourquoy l’ignorance nous est tant recommandée par nostre religion comme piece propre à la creance et à l’obeïssance.
— Michel de Montaigne (1533-1592) in Apologie de Raimond Sebond

The chestnut question

November 25th, 2008

During wintertime, sometime from October to March, so-called “Maronibrater” offer roasted Maroni (Sweet Chestnuts) everywhere here in Vienna (and in most other larger European towns). I am very lucky that one of the best roasters in town happens to have his stall around the corner from where I live. If you are in Vienna I highly recommend to go to Rochusmarkt in the 3rd district and to try for yourself. Achmed’s stall is at the start of Sechskrügelgasse, next to the Rochuskirche.

The prices for chestnuts are 1.5 Euro for 7 pieces, 2 for 10, and 3 for 16. Often when someone asks for 7 chestnuts Achmed answers with a question like this: “Seven. Do you want exactly seven?”

When I am there, having my chitchat with Achmed, eating chestnuts, Langos (another delicious specialty), and eventually drinking an Arabian coffee (though, available only for regular customers, I am afraid;) it baffles me again and yet again how many people answer his question with

“Yes, please. Exactly seven.”

Lying with numbers

November 24th, 2008

99% of all numbers provided to support an argument — be it in scientific or popular media — have no value whatsoever unless they come with proper mention of at least the confidence intervals, the size of the sample and its properties, or other means of making reliability comparable such as standard deviation.

[w] [w] [w]

You are 93.9% less likely to die from a meteor landing on your head if you keep reading this blog

November 23rd, 2008

I guess I do have a somewhat weird sense of humor. Anyway, as the headline already suggests, this is serious matter. Your very health is at stake. Not just science.

You are 80% less likely to die from a meteor landing on your head if you wear a bicycle helmet all day, by Ben Goldrace, Bad Science blog, 2008-11-15

And, yes, this great posting had me laughing from the headline to the end :D
Thanks, Ben.