Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The IPCC is taking too long

In 2006, Al Gore's documentary An Inconvenient Truth was met with broad critical acclaim from the movie industry, environmentalists, and the scientific community. Less happy were religious and corporate actors who think that Climate Change is in contradiction with either their beliefs or their financial interests. While I'm not going to debate denialism, its tactics or its dangers, I will mention the conclusions of the court litigations.

In this article from The Guardian, we are told of 9 criticisms of the movie in the judge's conclusions. Before mentioning them and opposing some ideas to these conclusions, let's however mention the important part of the ruling: the film's claims are widely supported by scientific evidence, research published in peer-review journals, and the latest conclusions of the IPCC.

  1. The film claimed that low-lying inhabited Pacific atolls "are being inundated because of anthropogenic global warming" but there was no evidence of any evacuation occurring. While the conclusion had merits in 2007, evacuations have now started due to sea level rising.
  2. It spoke of global warming "shutting down the ocean conveyor". It was considered "unlikely" according to the IPCC. Sadly, I do not have the movie at hand and giving my opinion would not be quite as good as giving facts. So let's grant this one to the judge.
  3. Mr Gore had also claimed - by ridiculing the opposite view - that two graphs, one plotting a rise in C02 and the other the rise in temperature over a period of 650,000 years, showed "an exact fit". I am disturbed by the wording here and I feel the insistence on "exact" doesn't do justice to Gore's claim and focuses on an irrelevant phrasing inaccuracy rather than the relevant scientific implications. Here's what the graph really looked like: 
  4. Gore said the disappearance of snow on Mt Kilimanjaro was expressly attributable to human-induced climate change. The judge said the consensus was that that could not be established. The judge is right. In fact, no single event can ever be connected to Climate Change. Trends alone can be connected to CC. Even Katrina and more recently hurricane Sandy (a hurricane of unprecedented size) cannot be demonstrated to have resulted from CC. We can only consider the connection as "likely" due to the trends of increased frequency and violence of hurricanes.
  5. The drying up of Lake Chad was used as an example of global warming. On this one, Gore has been callous indeed, as other causes explain more convincingly the drying of lake Chad.
  6.  Mr Gore ascribed Hurricane Katrina to global warming, but there was "insufficient evidence to show that". As explained in the 4th point, it is simply not scientific to consider "definite" something that is only "likely". Gore should have been more careful in the wording.
  7. Mr Gore also referred to a study showing that polar bears were being found that had drowned "swimming long distances to find the ice". The judge said: "The only scientific study that either side before me can find is one which indicates that four polar bears have recently been found drowned because of a storm". I guess Gore fell in the trap of playing the emotion card. It may still have been a smart strategic move to appeal to viewers, but scientifically it is bogus.
  8. The film said that coral reefs all over the world were bleaching because of global warming and other factors. The judge said separating the impacts of stresses due to climate change from other stresses, such as over-fishing, and pollution, was difficult. Even though the judge is right about not knowing the exact weight of each factor, there is a common acceptance among professionals that CC does play an important part.
  9. The film said a sea-level rise of up to 20ft would be caused by melting of either west Antarctica or Greenland in the near future; the judge ruled that this was "distinctly alarmist". Here, I have to disagree even though I do not have the film at hand. Gore's movie clearly mentioned that ice does not only melt but that ice shelves can break in very little time. And as is evidenced when dropping ice cubes in a drink, you don't need to wait for the cube to melt for the level to rise in your glass. If the Western ice shelf of Antarctica did break, the effects on sea level would be a matter of days.

But if you remember, I was saying that the judge mostly accepted the film's content as accurate, and the title of this article is about the IPCC taking too long. A mere few months after Gore's movie was released, the IPCC published it's 4th assessment report (AR4) in 2007. It led to much media attention and played a role in the political process for a handful of years in many countries.

The next report, AR5, is expected in 2014. But climate matters have been completely absent from the Romney-Obama showdown of 2012 and we hardly ever hear about Climate Change in the media anymore. In the meantime, the Arctic continues melting and last summer it has reached a frightening new record low. Specialists now consider plausible the hypothesis of the Arctic Ice Cap being completely melted during summer in as little time as 2016. The following video shows the evolution of sea ice (in volume) year by year since 1979. As you can see, the bottom (and yes: bottom is zero) is getting nearer at a fast pace.


That's why I think there is too much time between each IPCC's Assessment Report and that we need more communication on the subject to keep it in the priority list of politicians.

Monday, April 29, 2013

SimCity free of charge... legally

Certainly one of the most iconic video games ever, SimCity has been an inspiration to the whole video game industry. The concept is simple: you manage the development of a city from the budget to the planning of residential, commercial and industrial areas, transport infrastructures, police and fire department... You deal with the aftermath of natural disasters (I guess Godzilla is considered natural) and tackle the day-to-day problems like traffic jams, pollution, criminality...

5 years ago, the copyright owners of SimCity have decided to release the source code of SimCity under a Free Open Source Software license (GNU GPL v3). This free open-source edition of SimCity has been renamed MicroPolis and runs on Java. It allows the game to run on modern platforms and to be compatible with many systems (Windows XP, Win7, Linux, OS X).

You can get the game for free from MicroPolis repository.


Sunday, April 28, 2013

Quick Tip: screenshots

Sometimes you want to take screenshots to integrate them in a PowerPoint presentation or an email. But you may want only the screenshot of 1 window and not all of your desktop.

For this, activate the window that you want and press:
ALT + Print Screen


Friday, April 26, 2013

The Method ★★★★☆



Plot:
Seven applicants for a position of CEO in a corporation find themselves together in a meeting room where exercises will pit them against one another. No recruiter is to be seen. Only instructions on a monitor, leading to the elimination of one candidate after the other. Who's more deserving? Who has the least scruples?


My verdict:
This is a great movie. On the outside, it is already a good movie with a great tension of group dynamics. We see how the characters fight with words, how they demean each other or promote themselves. At a deeper level, it is a reflection of powerful people locked at the top of an ivory tower playing politics while people on the ground (there are anti-G8 protests in the streets) are trying to have their voices heard and communicate about their harsh lives. I rate it only 4 stars due to a few quirks in the rhythm of the movie, which prevent it from getting the top score. Highly recommended!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Certificates, Apple, Microsoft and your life

In the world of the Internets, there is something most people don't know about: Certificate Authorities. Let's explain what they are and how some IT companies are putting people in danger of being tracked down, tortured, and murdered, in addition to empowering authoritarian regimes and undermining democracy.

When you connect to the Internet with a web browser, some websites tell you that the connection between them and you is totally secure, and that your relationship with them is so special that nobody will know what you're telling each other. That's important in cases like banking websites. This confidentiality is generally indicated by a locked padlock displayed near the address of that website in your browser as shown on following screenshots:




The thing is: No website can be trusted to declare itself trustworthy. Otherwise, websites owned by mafias and thugs would claim to be trustworthy too. So, some companies (Certificate Authorities or CA) act as a middleman. Not only do they send you the "padlock information" but they also cipher the communication between you and the target website so that nobody can eavesdrop on your communication. That's how your credit card number can be safe when you buy things online.

For obtaining a certificate (agreement between the website and the CA), the website owner needs first to contact the CA, fill some forms, prove his identity, etc. and of course pay some fee to the CA, but that's normal business. Then the CA does its job to screen the website owner and delivers a certificate to legit people while rejecting the requests from bad people.

So let's take a pause for a quick example! If I am a bad guy and if I want to steal some people's banking information, I could register a website name with almost the same name as the real banking website, with only 1 letter difference. Some people SHALL mistype the website address and land on my nefarious page, which I will make look alike the real thing. Then I just have to sit and wait for people to tell me their name and password... EXCEPT there's no way I would obtain a certificate from a CA, so you won't be fooled by my webpage since I don't have a padlock!

So... CA's are great.

But CA's are the ones who cipher your communication with the websites. So they can know your little secrets. They can also alter the communication on the fly between you and the website. For example, they could pretend to be the website and sending you doctored web pages while never establishing a connection from you to the website. Or they could remove and add content on the fly! If you live in a dictatorship that fights against the color "pink", they might automatically delete (in the pages you browse) all the sentences that include this word or automatically replace "pink" by "orange".

During the Arab Spring in Tunisia, it was discovered that the dictator Ben Ali made use of a subsidiary CA of Microsoft to fake the sense of security of Gmail and Facebook users, steal the logins and passwords, spy on all messages, etc. This allowed him to target, arrest and do bad bad things to people who disagreed with him. Many other countries act in a very similar way. USA would be one of these countries but I'll leave out the details for later.

Now, it's Apple's turn to introduce certificates connected to the American Department of Defense in OS X, iOS5 and iOS6. You might think that you've done nothing reprehensible and that you therefore have nothing to hide and that there's no reason why you should worry about any government knowing everything about you. You would be wrong about that, but that's a story for another lengthy article.

Conclusion:

You've learned something about CA. Congratulations!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Of Mice and Geeks

In the past 5 years or so, simultaneously with the emergence of smartphones, a surprising phenomenon happened: the idea of geeks became popular.

So, what are geeks anyway? Well... that's the thing! the definition of geeks itself has changed as the idea of geek was popularized. So let's go back in time and see how things were and how they evolved!

At least 100 years ago, the word "geek" derived from the Dutch "gek", which means crazy and it was first used to describe the village's idiot and such people whose weirdness didn't allow them to fit in the social order.

As time went by, the word spread and was used in particular in schools as a defaming word to peek on those who didn't fit in the social mass. The "outcasts" are both those at the top (intellectuals) and those at the bottom, but the usage of the word geek became specific to those at the top. I would surmise, without evidence however, that it so happened due to the sense of weirdness coming from the intellectual children since the mass could not understand them. By contrast, the kids at the bottom were easily understood (and suffered different forms of abuse) and inspired scorn rather than weirdness.

By extension of this 2nd meaning emerged a 3rd meaning. Among the intellectual children who were peeked on at school, a majority grew into normal, socially apt citizens while others retained some of their weirdness. Examples would certainly include the likes of Nikola Tesla, whose technical accomplishments did not leave any room for a relationship. If you follow the link and read his story, he did actually die a virgin at the age of 86 having totally changed the world and invented almost everything that we know about electricity. For some reason which I won't try to fathom, the people fitting the bill of this 3rd meaning of "geek" have a strong tendency to be attracted to science and highly imaginative fields. So, you're more likely to find geeks of the third kind in an engineering lab or rummaging through a library's science-fiction books than writing romantic poetry, plays, or knitting scarves as a pastime while waiting for customers in an antiques shop. This 3rd kind of geeks:

  • plays Lego Technic, Rubik's cube, role-playing games
  • reads science-fiction, fantasy, scientific and technical documents
  • reads mangas and watches Japanese anime
  • watches cult movies and series: Star Wars, Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica, Quantum Leap, V, Ringu, Buffy the vampire slayer, The Big Bang Theory
  • understands most jokes in The Big Bang Theory (now THAT is scary!)
  • learns how to program calculators and computers
  • buys the parts and builds his computer all by himself.
  • fixes the computer problems of neighbors, friends and family and prepares reminder cards for parents and grandparents so they know how to use the TV, VCR, DVD player, etc.
  • listens to science-related audiobooks and podcasts
  • watches documentaries
  • Subscribes to the RSS and Atom feeds (there's 1 on this blog) of bloggers and podcasters
  • learns about academic subjects by watching the filmed classes uploaded on Youtube by Stanford University, Yale and the MIT.
  • does a great many things listed on the Geek Test (just you try and compete with my 38.25% score of 2006!)
And then came the (current) 4th generation of geeks. It is impossible to assign a single cause to this new shift. Instead, it is probably the conjunction of smartphones, usable wireless Internet through 3G (as opposed to the lame WAP of the late 90's), affordable mobile phones offered to teenagers by parents, Facebook, Twitter... these all contributed to some people stepping up to the task of "using functionalities" earlier than other people. Within the technology-aware communities, these people are called "early adopters". Some of them have a sincere drive to discover new things, while others are only rich folks eager to get the latest gadget and look "hip"... which led to some degree of convergence between the words "geek" and "hipster". So, the 4th generation geek is more of a fashion victim who wants the glory of the 3rd generation... looking smart... without the pain of reading through 1000 pages of technical documents.

While old executives working for conventional media (TV, radio, newspaper) lagged behind and tried to make sense of the digital era, their confusion contributed to blur the borders between all archetypes of geeks, hipsters, early adopters, and more groups of technology-aware people like video games players (themselves being part of a mutating world recruiting casual players and giving rise to hardcore gamers and e-sport players). What I mean is: the media communicated wrongly, therefore media-consumers understood wrongly, and then some of these consumers became the wrong sort of geek, bringing about the 4th meaning of the word.

As a result, there is a disconnect between the 3rd generation of geeks and the 4th generation. I am part of the 3rd generation (remember the geek test?) and even though I understand intellectually that the word means different things in different times, my gut tells me that the word "geek" is inappropriate in its 4th generation. I have a particular love for what my geekiness means, like the persistence and dedication to acquiring knowledge and understanding when this very activity alienates me in the eyes of the rest of society. I see it as a form of sincere commitment to the standards of which 4th generation geeks don't live up, since their geekiness is more about owning expensive objects and looking fashionable. At some point, even France's prime minister claimed he was a geek because he owned an iPhone, surfed the web early, and used RSS feeds.

Conclusion:

Does this article un-geek the modern 4th generation geeks? No, of course not. The television calls them geeks. They call themselves geeks. They're just not to be confused with my kind of geeks. My hope is that it puts things in (a credible) context and conveys the awesomeness of 3rd generation geeks. If I were to make predictions (hey! that's my blog so I can and I will), I would predict that this 4th generation of geeks will dwindle and give rise to an entirely different 5th generation of geeks who will be something different, while the 3rd generation is not going anywhere and will become the standard again.


Last notes:

  • If you do take the full Geek Test, I would guesstimate that you're geekish from around 15% and that you are a geek from 20% up.
  • If you still haven't read the story of Nikola Tesla, do it! NOW!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

What every Internet user should know: copyright and stuff

The Internet is a series of tubes (*laughs*) but not only. What makes the Internet a wonderful place is the content. And with content comes the notion of copyright, fair use, freedom of speech, etc.

As with the law, nobody is supposed to ignore it, but frankly copyright is a mess and nobody can reasonably be expected to understand everything about it. For the sake of clarity, this article covers provisions of copyright laws which are valid in many Western countries and will ignore the particular laws that differ from one country to another.

When you encounter content on the Internet (photos, articles from blogs or from press websites, videos, music, games, etc.) you should assume "by default" that the content is copyrighted. Because it has been created by someone and that someone owns a moral right to have his name associated with that content and (maybe) an exploitation right to control the distribution and reap the benefits from his creation. This is the default assumption, since this is the historical model that humanity has inherited as a legacy from the television and music business models.

There are exceptions, though, to copyright and as we'll see a bit further there are alternate ownership models to copyright. The exceptions include (but are not restricted to... as any lawyer would say) "fair use", which means that you can use copyrighted material as a basis for satire, parody, illustration, critique, etc. Of course, fair use supposes that your own creation has a point to make (regardless of how valid or how pertinent your point is) beyond just being a ripoff of someone else's creation. An example of fair use is the court case Lenz v. Universal Music Corp. A mother had posted a video on Youtube where her baby was dancing to a (copyrighted) song. The point of that video was not the song but the child's dance. The Court therefore ruled in favor of this being a case of "fair use".

Alternative #1: public domain. Historically, copyright was introduced to allow creators (musicians, poets, authors, painters...) to make a living from their creation, but copyright expires so that those creations may become part of the common good after they have benefited their creator and his heirs for years. In Western countries, copyright often expires 50 to 70 years after the creator's death (rather than after the creation was published). So if you consider the optimist case (for society) of 50 years, we can now enjoy in the public domain (that is, free from copyright) the works of people who died in 1963 or earlier. Ernest Hemingway's works just made it into the public domain 2 years ago... while some translations of his works strangely still benefit from a protection status that leads to stranger things like the violent intimidation of a hobbyist translator who wanted to provide his very own French translation of The Old Man and the Sea, which had become part of the public domain.

If you create something yourself, you can also explicitly choose to contribute your creation directly into the public domain. To put it simply ("simplistically" would be more accurate), you're giving away your creation to everybody.

Alternative #2: Copyleft, Licensing and Creative Commons. Many creators have felt the desire to find a middle ground between an all-out confiscation of their audience's rights (the copyright model) and an all-out looting of their works sometimes by clumsy people who don't understand intellectual property and sometimes by ill-intentioned profiteers. Licensing allows an author to retain "some" rights while giving away the rest of rights. It also allows to stipulate conditions for the exercise of rights. Consider Linux, the free open-source competitor to Microsoft Windows! You're allowed to use it. You're allowed to make and distribute copies of it. You're allowed to modify it. And you're even allowed to make and distribute copies of your modified version of it. BUT... and that's a significant "but"... there's a condition: any copy (modified or not) that you distribute has to be ruled by the same exact license terms as the copy you received and possibly modified. This prevents people from making a copy and suddenly claiming full copyright on the copy.

Creative Commons (CC) are a modular form of licensing which allows everybody to define simple rules for protecting their intellectual property. They may want their name to remain associated with the creation. They may allow (or not) derivative works and/or distribution by third parties. They may allow (or not) the commercial use of their creation by a third party. Etc. I strongly recommend CC to people who want to share their creations but don't exactly know how to do so.

Conclusion

What this article means beyond raising awareness however so slightly, is that Internet users should pay attention to intellectual property when they find something of interest which they might want to copy. That's particularly true of photos which are often reused as wallpapers or as a background image for a website or as an illustration or background in a PowerPoint presentation. There are websites dedicated to creations published under a free license. If you want to find free photos, you may find free photos at Pixabay or Public Domain Photos. This has been a very imprecise account of the topic, but I think being vague and providing a superficial treatment of the subject was useful to making it understandable. If questions arise in the comments (which is unlikely considering the number of visitors) I'll try and answer more accurately.

Monday, April 22, 2013

The Man from Earth (2007) ★★★★★











































Plot:

After 10 years at the university where he teaches, John Oldman is moving. He invites friends at his place for a farewell afternoon and confronts them with the idea that he might be a 14,000 year old man who was born a caveman and lived through many civilizations. Whether he is serious or only throwing out a plot for a novel he's writing is unclear, but his friends are decided to get to the bottom of this. They attempt to find the flaw in Oldman's story.


My verdict:

The first 10 minutes of the movie feel off and the acting is poor during this introduction. Fortunately, this quickly goes away and moves on to the heart of the story, with much better acting. The arguments may be intellectually challenging if you pay close attention to them, but this is not necessary. The big thing about this movie is the dynamics in motion: psychological, emotional, social. And while many of the characters are hollow, their mere presence catalyzes the group dynamics and contribute to the unfolding of the story. The original scenario, the setting and the group dynamics earn this movie a 5 stars rating.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Filler

I have started writing a decently sized article which consumes a lot of my time and it is not ready yet. While I certainly have no obligation to post an article every day I intend to put out content on a regular basis. That's why I have to confess that movie reviews will often be used as a filler when I'm too busy.

On the upside, I have already watched and reviewed enough movies, including bad ones, to have a provision of 50 good movies at hand to be reviewed on this blog. That's why I'll be able to spare you such terrible movies as:
  • 15 minutes
  • Against the dark
  • Antitrust
  • Attack of the gryphon
  • Azumi 2: death or love
  • Bells of innocence
  • Black water
  • The Good, the Bad, the Weird
  • Born to raise hell
  • Bully
  • Death bell
  • D.E.B.S.
  • Dekker the trucker
  • Doing hard time
  • Dungeons and dragons
  • Dragnet
  • Dragon fighter (this one takes the cake!)
  • Duelist
  • Employee of the month
  • Fight night
  • Hackers
  • Hunting Piranha
  • King rising
  • Lake Placid 2
  • Legion
  • Lost Colony
  • Messengers 2: the scarecrow
  • No speed limit (aka Dolphin)
  • Resident evil afterlife
  • Red sands
  • Red water
  • Seven pounds
  • Showdown at area 51
  • Splinter
  • The restless
  • The Fifth Commandment
  • The doors of time
  • The circuit
  • The cottage
  • The devil's tomb
  • The green hornet
  • The last airbender
  • The prophecy 2
  • The raid: redemption
  • The terror experiment
  • Undead
  • X cross

For this time, THIS is the filler. Enjoy all of those really bad movies that I will spare you a detailed review of! I will also spare you the not-bad-but-not-good movies that I also have in store. You're welcome! :-) 

Saturday, April 20, 2013

The "Bayart Scale"

Benjamin Bayart (the "t" is mute, as in "Stephen Colbert") has directed French Data Network (FDN), the oldest Internet services provider still active in France from 1997 until about a month ago.

More than just a director, he's been an activist promoting civil liberties on the Internet as well as a vision of the network of networks that is faithful to its structure: a non-centered web where every node is equal to other nodes. You could call this "net neutrality" but the meaning of the phrase has drifted somewhat as a result of many countries' endeavor to restrict digital freedoms.



Anyhow... in his lectures (sorry guys! video is in French language) Bayart presented a scale describing the progression of Internet users from puny consumers to recognized community organizers. This scale is now rising to fame among bloggers and forummers as the "Bayart scale" and goes like this:
  1. The Buyer
  2. The Kikoolol
  3. The Reader
  4. The Grumbler
  5. The Commentator
  6. The Author
  7. The Community Leader

The Buyer

The buyer is a person who believes he/she bought the Internet. Therefore he/she demands answers to his/her every question and everything is owed to them. The buyer does not fathom that people who answer his questions are other people like him who dedicate time and efforts free of charge to help a fellow human being.

A 2nd variety of buyer uses the Internet to do online the same things that they used to do offline, like shopping groceries, buying train tickets, etc.

The Kikoolol

...from the French "kikou" which is a deformation of "coucou" (hello! hi! hey!) and LOL, which has become like a punctuation mark in the vocabulary of teenagers. The kikoolol emails PowerPoint presentations of either jokes or raunchy material to his friends and sends senseless messages to his friends over social networks.

The Reader

The reader shifts his reading habits from paperback newspapers towards online versions. The major paradigm shift is that the reader will access news from distinct sources and compare, which is a very rare behavior among readers of paperback editions. The reader will then attempt to make sense of the differences observed and start becoming critical on what information he's being fed.

The Grumbler

The grumbler may not have paid much attention to what he's read, but he insists on sharing his disagreement, possibly in capital letters and with a lot of exclamation marks. He doesn't care about rebuttals to his claims or answers that are offered to him. Which is why he certainly did not realize that many grumblers already offered similar complains right before him. The grumbler often dwells on generalist press websites.

The Commentator

The commentator is a natural evolution of the grumbler. On a forum, the grumbler will end up noticing people talking back to him. He will then be faced with people requiring him to give details about why he complains. They will offer him counter-arguments and sooner or later, the (ex-)grumbler will have to  engage in back-and-forth conversations. Some people will tell them why he's not allowed to use opinions as arguments, and they will provide sources to their claims and will request him to provide sources supporting his own claims. And someday, the grumbler will do the astounding (and tremendously difficult and painful) act of acknowledging his errors, thus becoming a commentator who participates in honest exchanges of arguments.

This level in the Bayart scale is a very stable one. Many people remain at this level for years or maybe for good.

The Author

The author is an evolution of the commentator who has developed a strong knowledge after reading and commentating, and a liking for sharing detailed ideas which might often go further than the initial articles he comments on.

The Community Leader

The community leader is an author who has developed connections with other authors and whose articles might be elaborations on top of other authors' articles aimed at engaging responses from a community of authors and commentators.


Benjamin Bayart, through this scale describes the empowerment of Internet users as citizens up to a stage of being dreadful citizens able to check the information they are being fed, able to reflect on this information, to share it, comment it, and exchange ideas with other similar citizens in order to understand the essence of the information they were offered.

He also compares this revolution of the Internet to the revolution of the printing press. Printing allowed the emergence of literacy, philosophy, the enlightenment and the exit of the Middle Ages. But where the printed press allowed the emergence of a civilization of readers, the Internet allows the emergence of a civilization of authors. He illustrates this fact by comparing the number of people who ever had any writing published in the paperback press and the number of people whose writings have been published on the Internet.

This blog is my emancipation from Commentator to Author. What about you? How far are you on the scale?

Clue (1985) ★★★★☆

Cinema, movies, series, documentaries are a major source of entertainment and inspiration. I intend to dedicate a number of blog articles to those movies that I think deserve attention. For my first entry, I will not go into a major violent blockbuster. You'll have to wait a bit for those.


Plot:

Clue is a movie adaptation of the game with the same name. A squire has sent invitations to many guests, most of whom don't know each other. What do they have in common? The movie will reveal it. But most importantly, in "Clue" fashion, a murder will take place. While avoiding to fall victim to the unknown murderer, the guests will conduct their investigation.

My verdict:

The ambiance remains faithful to the Victorian mystery-heavy ambiance of the game. The comedy ventures into ridicule and exaggeration willfully... which could turn some people off... but if you're ok with an over-the-top comedy (a bit reminiscent of the Louis De Fun├Ęs movies), you're in for a treat. The scenario is clever enough to let you suspect everybody and yet it is coherent enough to provide a logical conclusion that astute viewers had a fair chance to guess. I give it a 4 star rating (out of 5)



Thursday, April 18, 2013

Writing documentation

When working on a project, creating tools or methods, it is of tremendous importance to write documentation. But this task itself is not straightforward. Really! Think of a topic that you know much about: your job, or your favorite hobby... then open a page in a text editor and try to write 1 page of documentation for it! Maybe just half a page! Good luck with that!

What I have found to work for me when creating a documentation, is putting myself in the shoes of someone who knows nothing. I generally think about this person as an "idiot". It shouldn't be considered insulting, though. The idiot is me, before I knew anything on the subject I'm writing documentation for. That way, I can create documentation that is easily understandable by anybody, without prerequisites.

What will the documentation look like, in the end? Probably a mix of screen captures and short sentences. The simpler (for the reader), the better.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

A note about presentation

Of course a blog is a personal space where ideas and opinions are expressed. So, what matters most in a blog is how good the content is. But the way it looks is in itself a reflection of the blogger's personality and the blog's design may have a story to tell.

In my case, I have chosen a very dark, mostly black, sober design. It is not a random choice. Being an avid computer user, I know all too well how your eyes get red after hours upon hours of looking at the screen. Black is the gentlest background color for my readers' eyes.

I could have chosen to use some dark photo or picture instead. But that would mean more bits to transmit. So I'd rather stick with the very simple, very clean, black color.

Monday, April 15, 2013

About this blog and me

Hello,

Welcome to my blog. This is not the first one I've had but at the moment of this writing, it's the one that I have maintained and updated the longest and the most frequently.

I am a French man with a background of studying Master Degree in telecoms, which involves IT, electronics, electricity, radio waves, etc. I have worked in Thailand, South Africa, Belgium, the Netherlands, and France. So far my work has been mostly about creating software (for telecom) and performing analyses on the quality of service, in order to improve mobile networks day by day.

My interests include, but are not limited to, science, programming, configuring computers, video games, reading, cinema, politics, gardening, DIY, traveling, scuba diving, discovering the similarities and differences between cultures.

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Erik Lallemand's blog by Erik Lallemand is licensed under
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