Archive for December, 2007

Kartoffelsalat à la Oma Berni



  • 2,5 kg Kartoffeln
  • 500g Mayonnaise
  • 350-500g Gewürzgurken
  • 6 Eier
  • 6 Zwiebeln
  • Salz, Pfeffer


Die Kartoffeln als Pellkartoffeln kochen, pellen und in Scheiben schneiden, Gewürzgurken in kleine Stücke schneiden, Zwiebeln in kleine Würfel scheiden, mit der Mayonnaise und dem Wasser der Gewürzgurken vermischen. Mit Salz und Pfeffer abschmecken und einige Stunden im Kühlschrank ziehen lassen, damit sich die Aromen entfalten können.

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The Lore of Pixar

Check out this article on the history of Pixar (the company that brought you ‘Toy Story’ and all those lovely names for your Debian releases). What struck me most was the following sentence: “… he was given a position at Xerox’s Palo Alto Research Center (PARC), where he got a reputation for being peculiar.” What? Peculiar in Xerox PARC in the 1970s? I was instantaneously impressed.

The person called peculiar is Dick Shoup who grabed and manipulated video footage when the people around him were trying to invent an office suite. Xerox PARC must have been one of the most creative places in space and time ever. Every time I sit on a bean bag I try to imagine what it must have been like there back then.

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Vernor Vinge: True Names

When “True Names” was first published in 1981 home computing was just in its infancy. Whilst the BBC tried to educate the public how to load BASIC programmes from cassettes Vernor Vinge presented us with a fully developed vision of cyberspace. Preceding Gibson‘s “Neuromancer” (1984) and Stephenson‘s “Snow Crash” (1991) it was one of the earliest cyberpunk novels.

The Other Plane — Vinge’s equivalent to The Matrix and the Metaverse — is a world-wide information network incorporating and grown on top of the older ARPANET — much like the internet actually did. All kinds of government services are accessible through this network, especially wellfare. Vandals / warlocks exploit these services by manipulating the software that has widely replaced written records, laws and conventional governmental administration. However, they must hide their true names — hence the title — and keep a low profile in real life or else the government (“feds”) will track them down. Remarkable is also the advanced interface used to access the net — EEG like equipment permitting a very direct form of input/output. Procedural programming is also replaced by much easier and interactive EEG programming.

“True Names” contains some of the most concise and spot on metaphores for experiences often hard to relay to those who have not felt them: the machine / network truely being an extension of ones body / person, the difference between processing time and real time, or the relative ease of using a language with a higher level of abstraction compared to low-level programming. Astonishing is also how well the effects of limited bandwidth, caching, interpolation, and the time needed for the signal to travel are woven into the story. The way data storage and processing facilities are available in the story reminds me of and goes beyond some of the most advanced concepts of grid computing or the Plan 9 operating system.

On top of that the story is good as well. An avatar in the form of a teletype (!) called the Mailman because of the long delays of his responses… But best read yourself. “True Names” is a pioneering work of the cyberpunk genre and still very clever and thought-provoking. In 1981 it must have looked more radical than the stealth bomber that incidentaly flew the first time that year.

Vernor Vinge: True Names. In: Marvin Minsky (Ed.): True Names: And the Opening of the Cyberspace Frontier. Tor Books. January 2002. ISBN 0312862075.

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BurgunderbratenBurgunderbraten mit Salzkartoffeln und Rosenkohl


  • 1-1½kg Burgunderschinken
  • 2 mittelgroße Zwiebeln
  • 4-6 Schalotten
  • 2-3 Knoblauchzehen
  • 1 Apfel
  • 400ml Rotwein
  • Lorbeerblätter, Gewürznelken
  • 1½-2kg Kartoffeln
  • 1kg Rosenkohl


Den Burgunderschinken rundum scharf anbraten und die in Ringe geschnittenen Zwiebeln rösten, den fein geschnittenen Apfel, die ganzen Schalotten und den in Scheiben geschnittenen Knoblauch hinzugeben, 2-3 Lorbeerblätter und ein paar Gewürznelken hinzugeben. Das ganze mit ca. 400ml Rotwein ablöschen und bei ca. 200°C im Ofen ca. 1 Std. pro kg Braten schmoren lassen. Nach der Hälfte der Garzeit den Braten wenden und noch ca. 150ml Wasser hinzugeben.

Den Braten auf einer Platte anrichten und den Bratensaft, der sich mit dem Rotwein und den Aromen der Gewürze inzwischen gut verbunden hat, mit etwas Mehlschwitze zu einer Sauce andicken, die zum Braten gereicht wird.

Als Beilagen kann man z. B. Rosenkohl und Salzkartoffeln reichen. Die geschälten Kartoffeln in Salzwasser abkochen. Beim Rosenkohl die äußeren Blätter entfernen und am unteren Ende kreuzförmig einschneiden. Anschließend in Butter anbraten und mit Salz, Pfeffer und Muskat würzen.

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Unix As Literature

“Mastery of UNIX, like mastery of language, offers real freedom. The price of freedom is always dear, but there’s no substitute.” – Thomas Scoville: The Elements Of Style: UNIX As Literature.

For over three decades Unix is known as a powerful and flexible operating system, technically superior to most of its more popular rivals. The larger the network, the more important the task, the more it shines. So why is Unix still not everybody’s favourite? OS X, KDE and Gnome have made Unix systems more accessible for the masses, but Unix is still quite remote, hidden under a layer of GUI. It’s like a novel competing with omnipresent glossy magazines, adverts and TV. It will always be apreciated by the savvy, but the majority will simply fail to even notice let alone understand. It is not only that Unix lacks marketing. It is that Unix is demanding. To use Unix you have to read and be capable of abstract thought. This will take some effort on behalf of the user. On the other hand people who lack numeracy and reading skills will always find plenty of opportunity to fail where others succeed.This may seem like the arrogant Unix geek drivel that puts people off, but at the core of the matter lies the fact, that being smart is quite a good thing — or why does everybody insist on telling children to go to school? If you made it this far, you might want to read some more.

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