maanantai 25. helmikuuta 2008

 

Working at Anna's and Markus' place to make their wedding decorations. This was fun, once you got the skills
of using the strange patternmaking scissors.
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Feeding an elephant. This one took everything directly to his mouth :) Elephants are wonderful animals. So calm and massive.
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This is River Kwai bridge, crossing over the river. It was used in the 1957 popularized movie "Bridge on Riwer Kwai", though Hollywood supposedly built a copycat of the original bridge for the film. I saw this bridge live on January 2008 in Thailand. The story behind can be read in for example a book called "The Thai-Burma Railway - The True story of the Bridge on the Riwer Kwai" by Rod Beattie.
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Yours truly standing in the heat, with white clothes. At River Kwai in Thailand, January 2008. The allied bombed the original bridge, so an iron bridge was built. There's yet a third bridge, which is for Hollywood filming purposes.
Me and my wife were having a honeymoon trip, and this was part of it. The River Kwai tour was very interesting. We traveled from our hotel to the site in a air conditioned medium size taxi. Our guide was really funny guy, he melted our hearts and had our attention all the time.
The story behind the bridge and the railroad is quite horrible. They built around 400 kilometers or railway in about 1.5 years, losing tens of thousands of workers. The workers were malnutritioned, and suffered from serious diseases which took the toll, in addition to people getting killed by falling off a cliff, torture, etc.
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Visiting the War Cemetary at Kanchanaburi in Thailand was an impressive experience.
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lauantai 16. helmikuuta 2008

Future email system (or, Problem of Personal Information Management)

The problem of Personal Information Management
==============================================
Jukka Paulin
2005-2008

Current situation is that people use a variety of means (both electronic, physical, and mental) to achieve the needs of their work / personal communications.
Sometimes the barrier of entry into a new mental activity is high: "Can I handle this, is this too much for me? I am already on 7 mailing lists, I can't just do it." It's just so much easier to say NO, than try something which possibly
involves a risk; or where the person estimates the future spam flow (FSF) to be
high.

The proposed system here is to alleviate this problem, and enable a more rich personal life! It's not yet a realized (programmed) system, but this is an
idea. I think it could be coded and proven to be effective, if implemented.

Acute problem points in current email systems:


  • archieval with security in mind. When you are accessing a mailbox, there is whole lot of your life in it! It's like part of your diary.

  • updating the information; now it is left for the user himself. A notification system of sorts would be nice.

  • handling the same information in several different computing environments:
    personal computer at home, work; a cellular or PDA, smart phone
    On route, without access to the above, but still able to use a ubiquitous network like Internet.

  • working in groups, sharing appropriately

  • handling of duplicate emails (CC'ed; carbon copied), so that they do not confuse
    the recipient. Many times a person might receive the exact same email in several inboxes,
    when the sender wanted to make sure that he is reached for sure / in time. All duplicates would be intelligently chained into one conversation. Duplicates are a source of major conflicts and annoyance.

  • time-based priority to emails: trying to make out the most logical sequence the emails
    should be read. How to do this? Perhaps,

  • * tracking keywords and dates, applying heuristics to solve the ordering problem

    * track response times to emails: if the user is always responding very quickly to
    person X, then he will have higher priority in the general view order of emails

    * asking for feedback from the user: "I ordered these two emails like this:
    First comes message X, then message Y. What do you think?

    a) This was the best solution
    b) Reverse the order
    c) They are unrelated"


Theory of Pipeling (parallelizing) knowledge in life




- The Pipeline theory of life:
* you start process 1 (laundry), and do process 2 (reading) WHILE process 1 lasts;
then you continue finishing process 1 (hang the clothes drying) etc.
==> is parallelism optimization possible just like in computer architecture?
* Signals (event notifications) are becoming more important: reminders about the
processes' states. When you have automation, it should be linked to the human
controlling the process.
* The Resource scheduling theory: booking tickets in advance to theatre
* The Resource refining theory: you can do less now, and expect to do more work in the
future, or you can do something very perfectly now and save time in the future
(unpacking groceries after visiting the supermarket: should you prepare the groceries
to be ready-to-use in containers etc. or just leave the bulk packages as they were?)

- possibility of concurrency in brain
* using all the modalities to make the email reading session a pleasant one: music,
audio synthesis to notify of new messages (from who, what's the subject), reading
single keywords from the message body. Using a map perhaps to represent the country
origin of messages, based on these facts:
1) the language of the email
2) top-level domains, where helpful
3) as a weak indicator, the name of the sender might help guessing the geogr. location

* a tutorial to using the email system, like that of the best games. Makes you feel very
interested and everything is coming at a nice pace. Still it's "live", not just a
boring step-by-step web page or help file

- need for out-of-brain adjustment of the "flow" experience. Concept of time distorts pretty
heavily with some people, so little reminders of the day's plans is necessary. Reminders
can be as simple as "Blink/beep me after 3 minutes so I'll check the boiling rice in kitchen"
or according to ordinary calendar events.

Actions used in PIM:

1) Handling
2) Classifying
3) Retrieving

Proposed enhancements:

- a major part of the development is also eye-movement tracking, to gain knowledge how
people select the order of messages to be shown. The lab would consist of required
hardware, and also during the labs new incoming messages will be generated with various
topics to map out how the recipient responds to these, especially when the incoming
message "interrupts" a mental activity

- stress-relief logic, by using biomedical sensors to evaluate current situation, and
affecting the user with the proper modality of information

Types of calendar notes people make:
====================================

Communal
-household chores together with other tenants ("pihatalkoot")
-meetings of hobby clubs

Routine: return a book to library

Personal relationships
-sports activity with friend

Personal events
-friend's weddings

Work
-appointment

Educational
-A course starting
-Exams or equivalent

Medication!
A wide variety of medication must be taken quite regularly in order
to maximise its effect.

To-do
-make an order via web or other media
-simple reminders within the day: PostIt Notes typically glued into monitors,
on the desk etc.: "Call Jim!" "Get laundry!" "Visit the post office!"

man woman

> man woman

Woman is a tool included in Life. Man is not complete without a Woman; that is,
Man can live without Woman, but a Woman (in some territorials, several Women)
brings countless variation and joy into Man's life.

Features
- talk (the rate of talk is usually much greater than Man units have). This makes Woman units strongly bonded together, and it also spreads knowledge fast.
- eat (many units have so-called Moral Problems with eating)
- think (white haired Woman is said to think less, this is yet to be verified)
- dressing functions (Woman veil themselves in lots of different kind of Skins.
Skins can be downloaded at places which are called Luxury or Clothing stores.
Note: Download is not usually free, and for some imcomprehensible reason the
Man unit often uses his credits to pay for the downloads).

Reproduction of Man and Women units is also possible only by uniting the
I/O cable of Man into the corresponding I/O port of Woman unit. The Man cable
has one single pin. The Woman I/O port has couple of different kind of doors,
plus a so called G spot.

The connection requires careful practise and precision.
The electrical stimulation of this activity
usually increases happiness and bonding strength in both units. Some tranmissions
errors may occur, after which Man usually reinitiates the connection. There is
sometimes an error correction function, where the Woman might say: Ouch!, Harder,
Slower baby, Go to left, Go to right, Upper, Lower, Faster.

A bit burst causes communications breakdown for a refractory period, during which
Man cannot continue outputting. Woman has considerably greater input capacity.
Sometimes Man units extend their period of so called 'boner state' by swallowing
blue chips.

Unlike normal design paradigm of Life tools, Woman is a complex tool. It has many useful features:
* the head, containing cerebrum (the brain)
* the neck
* shoulders
* hands
* middle body
* pelvis, where the reproductive I/O port exists
* thighs, which call Man to follow a Woman
* legs

Syntax:
woman [no parameters]

Output:
unknown, varies a lot

Special features and known bugs
- When running in Pregnant mode, woman exhibits some extremely weird behaviour.
Latest research has it, that when Pregnant, the output and behavioral modules
are further obfuscated with a n^N class polynomial permutator (where N >> infinity)
So normal output of "I love you too!" might turn into something as hard to
interpret as "F*cK!#BstrdUR2sec0ndSl4teAg4in"

Why neuroscience?

"What's so fascinating about cognitive psychology and
neurosciences?"



Cognitive psychology and neurosciences are ultimately, even though a bit indirectly,
dealing with everyday phenomena and the theories can be applied in understanding both your own actions and behaviour, and the actions you see globally.



Even though it seems to be a bit paradoxical -- that we're building machines
to inspect oneself -- there is controversy. You can study your friend, or another
human. You can study yourself also, that's happening in biofeedback, where
you try to change some particular behaviour or thought pattern by seeing what
are current signals, how they change, and then you learn more or less to do
the trick required to change the signals into certain direction.



Anxiety



Anxiety is something which we all feel more or less.
I've detected my anxiety shows up in the class in
eg. not being able to look at people hitherto
unknown straight in the face very often. It's also sometimes
present in a queue in shop, or other situations where everybody is
still, doesn't say a word, and I start to feel like I'm in a movie
and somebody has pressed Hold.


So in a class I tend to avoid looking at certain directions, usually.
I can almost sometimes say there are certain fields of
visions which dare not cross each other. It's kinda
sad because it makes the conductance a lot more rigid. But this
is my anxiety, and I gotta deal with it, one way or another. In fact
now in 2008 it's getting much better. I've learned coping mechanisms
and one the best ones is to habituate myself into these situations.

Other fundamental questions, related to neuroscience



Why did I sleep so late? Why did I have
exactly that kind of dreams? Why do I remember / don't
remember
something allegedly important fact from previous
courses?

Why does memory fail? How does it work, what is the mechanism of human memory storage and
retrieval? How can memory be trained?

- Why am I so shy in the school corridors? How has this
affected my studies so far and how is the shyness
affecting me currently?
Can the progress of my studies be linearly
assessed, like positive and negative changes during the
trip here?

World as ever-flowing signals, waiting to be interpreted


Imagine void. In void, there is nothing. It's pretty hard to imagine
such a place or state of being.
I often think world as an ever-flowing pool of signals, of
which some are incomprehensible
to us and require some cognitive processing. Walking in the
corridors of Helsinki University of Technology and every day
seeing some new ads about parties, free-time activity
possibilities, recruiting ads, etc. Every day requires adapting
to new situations and making decisions. It is the salt of life,
but it is also sometimes burdensome => the building up of stress. Stress is an interesting factor; if applied
in the correct proportions, stress is good. It can make you show your best sides and perform very well. However,
stress induces chemical changes in your brain, and too much of stress will make your dendrites retract: that is,
your network of brain cell connections will grow smaller! Why? Because less connectivity makes you
"forget" hard things, which are bothering you.

- What would be the ideal methods of studying for
me? What about others? How should one map out what kind
of learner (s)he is? I'm a visual one, measured at a
neuropsychiatric test, and guess I've more or less known
it always, but not paid attention to it.
(The psychiatrist doing the test thought I was cheating -
he said no one has every had this strong visual memory. We discussed
about it, and did not come with an answer. I was not cheating in any way,
but I was very curious also about the results. The scale
was from about 0..18 or something like this, and I scored 36 and
stopped voluntarily, because I could have gone on even longer).

Now that I know,
I try to excel at visual learning but also make use and
reinforce other kinds of learning and be aware that my
visuality may be detrimental to other modes in some way.

- Why exactly now I feel like omnipotent and aware
learner, having swallowed a huge cup of coffee
in less than 10 seconds? Sometimes I feel quite hyperactive,
and indeed no booster of the mind seems to be the ultimate
solution. I mean, if it were, the pharmaceutical company
making that drug would be quite high in the stock markets.

I've been experimenting with Kisandra, Ginseng root, caffeine, oxygen by ventilating my room better
and more often, and I am still trying to map out the optimal
"set and setting" for my studies.
Using ambient music without
words seems to be a good way of lessening the distractions
of the environment, but even in that I have to be careful
not to "go wild", into a party mode :D

- The resistance to leave a setting and settle in new one though
later on it feels completely OK. Like: I'm reading maths along
with sipping coffee in the school cafeteria. Then I come to think
that I should gather my stuff, and leave for the library. I feel
a little urge to resist that thought for some time, but then I
do it.
In general, there's a well-known fact in psychology theory: people resist change. Why? Requires rewiring
of our neuronal connectivity
, but what is so bad about it in the end? I mean, we have to do
it anyway. I'm really happy to get used to it as much as possible.

The way I've really learned a lot in life: by experience, trial and error, and defeat. I mean, I've started my studies
really slowly.
One year from starting I was deeply depressed in the winter,
took anti-depressants, and watched a friend trying to
commit suicide. Me and another friend saved her by the bell,
she was already quite dizzy from taking tens of sleeping pills.
It was heavy experience, but I made through it slowly
and realized there are many sides to life.

I've more or less felt like the academic fugitive on the
verge of being kicked out of the school.

Several years later, the depression onset was suddenly upon me. I felt really depressed again! This time I started
to go through the depression much more widely. I went to psychiatrist and psychologist, and had medication.
At first going through the help seems hard. But day by day, you start to really discover yourself and the problems
that you have been worrying about for a long time. Going to psychologist is very relaxing most of the time. I
talk to her, and we discuss different matters. It is non-judgemental and practical, the psychologist suggest
strategies to overcome personal distress. Sometimes, when you feel you really have nothing to talk about,
the session might prove to be most interesting. It is a surprise of discoveries, and afterwards you feel
much more alive.
My psychiatrist is a humorous, warm, great man. He has excellent wits and a relaxed attitude, yet there's
intelligence and empathy lurking just around the corner.

I'm currently very happy with life. But not happy enough to stay still. I'm always driven by curiosity and the
wonders of world; there's always things to try out, places to see; I love meeting people and having
discussions both online and in real world. A trip to Thailand in January 2008 was excellent, it invigorated
the inner part of my body. Thai people and the culture there was really friendly, warm, receptive, and inspiring.

My greatest thanks for the inspirator to neurosciences, mr. Risto Ilmoniemi of Helsinki Technical University. His clarity of speech, thinking, writing, and attitude towards teaching is one the greatest examples I've seen in life.


The lecture texts on WWW available in:
http://www.biomag.hus.fi/braincourse/L1.html


Nokia N810

I'm a fan of science fiction, both books and movies. I remember the first deep experience was when I was reading a translated scifi book about a space travel to a planet close to Earth. The travel was dangerous, and the atmosphere was very exciting, sometimes so that I was almost afraid of letting the book go.
I occasionally stopped reading, took a look at the beautiful, dark blue evening sky; Stella Polaris was bright, as usual. I was tripping in the space ship in my own imagination. This was an experience I will never forget; my first book reading.

It was my first mental trip in an environment which was not real, but so fascinating. Escaping the mundane world into "a better place". I could see all the things described in the book, almost touching them with limbs. The people onboard the spacecraft had arguments and I think there was some threat of violence also. I was probably around 4-5 years old at that time; now at 31, my neurons have forgotten some the impulses and long time potentiation that occurred 27 years ago :-)

Excuse me for sometimes having a long introduction. You better get used to it, it's a leader and gives some background of why I came to be like I am.

The first time I heard about the new Nokia N810 internet tablet, was at a party of my wife's friend. They always have really nice parties, with lots of different kind of people involved. It's a pleasure sipping lemonade or water, and stand discussing with all the guests. There was a south African man, who'm I happened to start talking about computers. Soon I discoved he worked for Nokia, and had been involved for approximately 5 years in the research and development of a new class of devices, internet tablets (pocket computers, usually without the phone functionality).

Several months later, actually it's probably been a year since, I was buying an 8-socket power plug from Verkkokauppa.com
There it was. Man! Love at first sight. You just know when you see one. White stealy, fine design. Smooth curves. Delicious overall. I.... had.... to.... have.... her.
How much? About 450 euros. Done.

I also bought a car charger. This is of the same type as for the normal small plug cellular phones, like N70 and several others. My hands were trembling a little bit. This has happened since the times I was opening my christmas packages with were usually packed with gadgets.

The N810 works best with a network. These days devices without a network connectivity are like fish in the dunes of Saudi Arabia. Lost!

So I drove to Helsinki University of Technology premises, where there's a free Wifi for all students. I still am, of course! My studies have lasted since 1998, and they will probably take another 5-10 years from this point.

We have carrier! Connection established. Type: www.facebook.com
There it is :-) What else did you expect?

I love the machine. Get one.


maanantai 11. helmikuuta 2008

The Day I Joined Facebook.com

The day I joined Facebook




This is part of my diary, from approximately the day I joined Facebook
on the Internet. Facebook is a social portal, where you can meet friends,
discuss things, and have fun. Among other things. It's interesting site,
and currently as I'm writing this in February 2008, Facebook is gaining
a lot of users and media attention.




It's a rainy Tuesday on October 2007. We ordered a honeymoon trip
on Internet to Thailand's Hua Hin. I spent the whole day at home today.




Yesterday I was really tired for some reason. My wife left to work early,
ja I stayed sleeping. Mikael called about 10AM; I'd mumbled something
into the phone and said I'd call later. I'm really bad at conversations
when I'm tired.. Especially in the morning.




We've had some power outs here in Klaukkala; yesterday, today and
tomorrow coming one up.
These are regular maintenance work and so notifications have come
beforehand by paper. They're improving the local electrical distribution network.




I went looking for a new laptop yesterday. Last Saturday we went
looking for a new phone to my wife, since the current Nokia 6280
has had some bugs. On the same trip we noticed that many laptop
providers are coming out with cheap models, ranging from 800+ euros
to around 1000 euros. I'm not so involved with current goings in
hardware development, but could see that the overall performance of
these laptops wasn't bad at all.




Well, yesterday I went to see the machines and talk more about the details.
I said I'll be using the laptop for both work and home use,
and if the price difference is one to two hundred euros, then I'll
take faster and more effective machines instead of a cheaper one.
Finally the decision came down to a HP T7100 Pavillion, with Vista
Premium. It's got 2 gigabyte RAM, 120 GB hard disk, 4 USB 2.0
ports, and the normal interfaces: integrated video adapter,
internal WLAN card, RJ-45 (Ethernet) port, sounds, and bluetooth
connection. Vista is a somewhat raw still, I've been wary of
switching into it, but in the long run I think early adopters are
benefiting from the choice. Vista will eventually rule the
corporate world, in 2-3 years time. According to a poll made in 2007
here in Finland, about 20% of companies are going for Vista during
2007. The rest are looking for what the initial experiences are.




About the phone I mentioned earlier: The shop clerk at Gigantti
megastore knew about a place definitely worth visiting if there's
bugs in the cellular. Air-Photo at Helsinki-Vantaa airport has
over ten years of experience with maintaining cellulars, including
Nokia ones. I browsed the net looking for Nokia 6280 bugs, and
it seems these jammings, bootings, and power offs are somewhat
known issues with the particular model. The maintenance guy
said that the software is still sometimes a bit raw, coming out
in quite a speed, so there are some bugs occasionally.




I left the phone at the maintenance, and it came back two weeks later
fully functional. We've got a 50 euro spare Nokia at home, so my wife
can use it for the time being. The most important thing is not
to spend any extra by buying a new phone for nothing. If they can
fix the older one, it's good. I don't like the buy-and-trash
culture, where consumer electronics seems to be going. Unfortunately.
I'd like to see the good old engineering discipline raising its head
also in the maintenance and fixing of apparatuses. Like watch goldsmiths,
they have a fine craft.




Joined Facebook.com today. 5 friends have done it already.
Later I'll try to write more about Facebook. Cheers.




perjantai 8. helmikuuta 2008

PSIIC really doesn't mean anything. It's a random word, which I decided to use here on Blogger.com

So this is the initial writing, and I'm feeling kind of a writer's block at the moment. Currently sitting at the lounge of Helsinki University of Technology's main library, it's 7:41 PM.

I've been writing basically the whole day, getting new ideas, and putting forward a project which we initiated with couple of buddies a week ago. It's called Kyyti, and the idea is to have a fresh view about car pooling.

Car pooling is an old concept of utilizing private cars in a more efficient way. But at least here in Helsinki (capital of Finland) the car pooling movement hasn't caught as much fire as it could have. We're still driving cars half empty, and wasting fuel - but more importantly, we're wasting the possibility of networking and really creating new innovations, by just meeting people in their daily chores; during the morning journey to work, school, or a supermarket. During the midday, the afternoon, and evening.

Blogging is by the way really interesting concept. I think it will eventually prove to be one of the great "inventions" of human kind. Just like you have the inventions of Fire, Writing, the Alphabet, the wheel, computers, cars, telecommunication networks, you will also have Blogging. It is unique in several ways. It's kind of like listening to the internal dialogue that people have going on in their heads; it's the soul of oneself, being converted into letters, and distributed for anyone to see. It's at best the pure core of human intelligence purged into writings, which may be useful, provide joy, and comfort to other people around the world.