Best movies of …?

2012-03-26

Orwen’s blog post best films of spring 2012 inspired me to write about movies as well. Actually, I’ve only started watching movies recently, and I haven’t seen many so far. Most new movies move way too fast for me, so I prefer to watch the older ones.

The post mostly consists of just a list of movies. If you’d like to see reviews, click on the links. The IMDb reviews are usually far better than anything I could produce. Just watch out for spoilers.

Let’s start with my current favorite directors:

Ingmar Bergman

Persona – The characters were hard to understand, the story unclear, the cinematography superb. All in all one of the best films I’ve seen, will have to watch once more.

Smultronstället (Wild Strawberries, but I wanna show off I can spell it out in Swedish) – A movie about life. Compared to Persona, Smultronstället was very easy to watch, though it did raise some interesting questions. I love movies with no antagonists.

The Seventh Seal – IMDb says: A man seeks answers about life, death, and the existence of God as he plays chess against the Grim Reaper during the Black Plague. That’s pretty accurate. And I dig the rhyming squire.

Krzysztof Kieślowski

Trois Couleurs (Trzy Kolory, The Three Colours) – Inspired by the French flag and motto, they are Blue (liberty), White (equality), and Red (fraternity). I really liked White, though it’s the least acclaimed one. Red was very cool too. Probably I wasn’t in the right mood when watching Blue. And Jesus Christ, the IMDb trailers are so fucking terrible.

The Decalogue – ten short movies based on the ten commandments. Most are very good, the first and seventh are my favorites. I still haven’t seen the last one due to Mac OS not being able to write on ext3.

La double vie de Véronique (The Double Life of Veronique) – more usually one person lives two lives but sometimes two people live one life. This movie is on my re-watch list (partially because I don’t recall many of the details). Also, it might be easier to watch than any of the above – if you don’t know where to start, start right here.

Stay tuned, next post is featuring Andrei Tarkovsky and Robert Bresson!

Future of employment

2012-02-18

There’s been a lot of uproar about unemployment rates. US unemployment recently climbed up to 10%, Spain has soared up to 23%, et cetera. But we ain’t seen nothing yet.

During the industrial revolution at the end of 19th century, machines have taken significant portion of low-skilled jobs and forced millions of workers into unemployment. And they’ll do it again.

I’ve recently taken an online introduction to AI course. It was a lot of fun, and reminded me how fast and in how different areas have computers – or smart programs, rather – been taking over humans in their abilities. In chess, computers won against humans in 1997. You may have noticed there haven’t been many publicized chess matches between computers and humans recently - I’ll leave it up to you to guess why.

Drivers will be among the first to go. It started with driverless trains, and will shortly continue with self-driving cars. The computer never falls asleep behind the wheel, is able and willing to work 24 hours a day, and is overall far more reliable than your average lorry driver. Truck drivers, wave bye-bye to your jobs.

Next in line are the translators. Have you noticed how much google translate has improved lately? I remember it being near unusable just a couple years ago. These days, not only has it started following grammar rules and increased its accuracy, it can also translate between almost any two languages. Human translators are expensive, make mistakes, and their translations are terribly inconsistent. Translators of prose and poetry should stay unaffected, but legal, technical, and computer game translators will either end up assisting the computer, or will have to find a new line of work.

In related news, armies of expensive lawyers are replaced by cheaper software.

If your job consists mainly of talking to people, you’re pretty safe. Does your job require significant creativity? You should be mostly safe for the time being – computers are notoriously bad at creativity despite repeated attempts by very smart people. However, if your job looks like something that could be potentially replaced by a computer some time in the future, it will be replaced within 20 years – please take a thorough look and reconsider your career path.

For the time being, as long as human civilization thrives, I feel reasonably safe about my job prospects: there will always be need for people who can talk to computers. But I’d also like to capitalize on my conviction that the employment crisis is nowhere near its end. How can I do that?

Daylight Saving Time

2010-10-31

The European one. It’s wrong.

Central European Summer Time starts on last Sunday of March and ends on last Sunday of October. I never paid much attention to it, but always assumed that the start and end of daylight saving time is somehow related to equinox.

Now I found out the longest night of the year happens two months after switching to winter time and three months before switching back to summer time. Why?

To correct the assymetry, I demand for CEST to start one month earlier, on last Sunday of February. I’d been planning to visit Brussels anyway.

PS: Infographics are cool. This post was an excuse to try creating one myself.

High poetry

2010-10-17

on: oooo kurwa
on: stary
ja: hej
ja: jak tam?

on: no kurwa
on: chyba sie wybiore
on: do tego muzeum modern artu
on: w takim stanie jestem : D
ja: ^^
on: no poezja
on: moge pisac wiersze normalnie
ja: pisz
on: ciekawe jakby sie po tym
on: gralo w go
ja: najlepiej tutaj pisz
on: hahaha
on: zapiszesz : D ?
ja: tak
ja: bedziesz mogl jutro przeczytac

on: ok
on: Pisze o psie
on: o korze
on: tka sie nazywal pies
on: kora
on: Kiedy bylem calkiem maly
[długa pauza]
on: Mialem psa ktory sie nazywala kora
on: a nie
on: kurwa
on: to sie nie rymuje
on: to nie
on: no to moze lepiej nie bede pisal
on: kurwa
on: ciekawe jakby sie gralo w go teraz

Bringing my blog to new heights.

Flickr inspiration

2010-09-07

A lot of people who aren’t that much into photography think that I make amazing photos. I don’t. I just make a lot of photos. Then delete most, because they really suck. I publish those that suck slightly less. Read on to see photos that rock.

I’ve been spending time on Flickr and would like to present you few of the many great photographers I follow. I believe these are the best of the best. Don’t forget to click to see moar and bigger pictures!

Aremac

Aremac is the master of colours, ideas, simplicity and clarity.

Handrail with shadow Looking up!

Dropped Tree Friends

Deep Tracks Steigleitung Trocken

Brickstone Personalities Crossroad

Sister

Sis is nuts. She wins photo contests. Not flickr contests – real contests with real prizes, judged by famous photographers.

ladybug Fragile flower

Snow in Brno Sunrise on a meadow

just for fun.. Striped

Spider's beads Splash

Jason Lee (jwl)

Some people insist that children photography is boring. Jason shatters the myth.

101 uses for gaffers tape Laundry day

pumpkin Big & Small

If I lived under the sea sea sea…… Mirror Mirror on the wall….errr grass

What's cookin? Dinner Time

Lady Tori

I’m a sucker for good bokeh. And Lady Tori delivers the highest quality.

It's not easy being green Pure Morning

Cold Wishes Filling The Day With Joy

Break You Down Vintage Life

Soft Dreams Misty Morning

Ben Heine

…of the pencil vs. camera fame.

Symphony Urgent Landing

Pencil Vs Camera – 30 Pencil Vs Camera - 29

Pencil Vs Camera – 19 Pencil Vs Camera - 3

Pencil Vs Camera – 11 Pencil Vs Camera - 12

Katarina

A bit over the top kitschy HDR. But Katarina can pull it off better than most.

Endless view A new day-winter landscape

All's well Over the mountains and the sea…..:)

What if the world would have two suns… :))) Lunar world

Sky arc II Green velvet

It’s just six amazing photographers, but the post is already getting too long, so I’ll cut it off.

If you want more, go see images of Mattijn, Monkeyman, Dimitri Depaepe, James Neeley, Miguel Rita, Sparth, isayx, kktp, Cornel Pufan, Philip Klinger or Ali Shokri.

LSG 2010

2010-08-28

Intro

I’ve happened to be the organizer of LSG 2010. While I had often been helping to organize various types of events, I’d used to be just a grunt dragging the heavy boards around. LSG 2010 was my first time doing high level organization. Perhaps it’s time to reflect on it a little.

Before LSG

First, I fought hard for getting access to the lsg.go.art.pl domain without success (big no thanks to PSG for that). That greatly hindered my initiative to organize LSG. Actually, I almost gave up. What can you do when you don’t even have the domain that has been used for many years and everyone knows about it? They just redirected lsg.go.art.pl to some PSG site, which didn’t even bother to link LSG 2010 site.

I decided not to give up when Jacek, the owner and manager of Alaska, contacted me and proposed that we could organize it together. He was taking care of accommodation, food, money and non-go side events. I was taking care of everything go-related.

I thought many people would never find out without access to the official site, but I underestimated two factors: word of mouth and Benerit. The first doesn’t need much explanation. The second one – Benerit – was responsible for even more. He not only answered questions from people about why there’s no LSG site and redirected them to the new one, but also sent an email to everyone who has ever attended LSG. Combined, this led to almost everyone knowing, though some people found out too late.

Jacek handled registration. Artur would be taking care of the “other board games” part of LSG. Myszcz promised to help with tournament organizing in return for free accommodation and food. Kamyk helped organize the playing material. Two weeks before the start, Hajin wrote she’d come as a teacher. I got lucky.

LSG itself

I came to Alaska on Saturday, two days before the start. Kamyk wasn’t too sure how much material was coming from there, but in the end it ended up really well (we weren’t missing anything). It turned out that Myszcz wasn’t all that experienced with tournament organizing, which led to Kamyszyn joining our organizing team. I couldn’t be happier about that – having Kamyszyn organize the tournaments meant that I wouldn’t have to worry at all.

As for teaching, aside from miss Hajin [3p], who was the main teacher, we got plenty of volunteers. Among them were Jun Tarumi [5d] with unforgettable lecture about fully cut keimas, Leszek Sołdan [5d] the Polish champion, and myszcz [1d] the Chinese opening expert. I only had one lecture, and as fisz was ready to help me, we played an “open” game – playing on the magnetic board and immediately explaining what we were thinking about. I think it was quite a success.

I scheduled 4 rounds of simultaneous games, which is quite a lot considering the whole event lasted practically only 11 days. I think that was a good decision, as everyone wanted to play against Hajin. The first simul was Hajin, Jun, fisz and me playing together against everyone else. It was a lot of fun (and we won most our games!). The other three rounds of simuls were individual, with each of us getting 6-8 opponents. I found out I got very weak in simultaneous games.

Tournaments were a bit painful in the beginning, but we managed to improve the process quite a lot – instead of running to the shop whenever anything needed to be printed, we simply used a projector to display the pairings and other information. I say simply, but it took 6 hours of hard work to get everything needed for the projector to be set up the way I needed. After that, Kamyszyn and Myszcz were handling tournaments themselves – I didn’t even have to be there. There was no one shouting “RUNDA” but nevertheless, most people got to play their games. No one was forced to play in the tournaments - participation was completely voluntary.

After the initial confusion, which was really tiring for me personally, my workload suddenly became much lighter. Aside from creating the daily schedule and making sure that our whole organizing team was on the same page, I didn’t have much concrete work to do. Except for solving emergencies, answering complaints, and responding to the same question 100 times a day (I swear it was the same 5 people asking all the questions, repeatedly).

I didn’t micro-manage and did let people help me, which worked out pretty well (because the people helping were awesome). Aside from volunteer teachers mentioned above, we had even volunteer organizers. Ela organized shooting tournament and drew the board for LSG 2010 signatures. Fisz organized volleyball and ping-pong tournaments. Kotasia made the torus tourney. I’m sure there’s many events I forgot. :)

Aftermath

There were no major disasters. Worst thing that’s happened is that I left two boards with two ING clocks (cough, good riddance, cough) outside overnight. They were pretty much gone after it had been raining throughout the whole night.
Beers and other small stuff were getting lost, but we never found out who did it. People have started locking down their houses.

All the people who brought playing material left after one week. Jacek, Kamyk and volunteers are making sure the material doesn’t get lost after LSG. Some of it might stay at Alaska.

Thanks

I was told that I should thank PSG. Organizing Polish summer go school is Polish Go Association’s job. That PSG failed to do so and a Czech guy living in the Netherlands had to help is surprising. Well, I’d like PSG to thank me first for doing their job. Whatever. Thanks to PSG for paying for Hajin’s stay and for most generously allowing their playing material to travel to Przystanek Alaska.

Big thanks goes to Jacek, Mariola, and Alaska team for organizing accommodation and meals, to Hajin for coming (and to Korean Baduk Association for paying her flight) and teaching, to Joon, Leszek, myszcz and fisz for helping with teaching; to kamyszyn, myszcz, Artur, Ela and kotasia for tournaments; to Janusz Kraszek for a box of prizes, to Kamyk and other people for making sure we have the playing material and to everyone else who helped make LSG a success!

Summary?

It’s easy to organize something when you have the right people to help you.
I think everyone had fun at LSG, that’s what matters the most in the end.

Bonus: Photos!

You made it! Either you’ve read through (doubtful) or you scrolled down here or you got the magical link… anyway, here goes!
I’m not quite sure if there’s a public list of all photo galleries from LSG 2010, so I’ll create one here:

As for my gallery, it’s nothing amazing, but it’s still pretty decent by my standards. The pics I like the most are: 1, 5, 10, 12, 32, 33, 35, 58, 61, and 64.

If you know about any gallery missing, please do leave a comment!

Dotrc aka ~/.*rc

2010-07-23

If you don’t understand the title, you might just as well leave – this post is going to contain close to no useful information for you.

I’ve been spending a lot of my time in the shell recently. Mostly splitting my time between bash and vim, usually in screen.

I’ve always had a reasonable .bashrc, and my .vimrc used to be above average as well. But I invested some extra time to research more possibilities the dotfiles offer. You can preview and download my dotrc at github.

Here are some of the highlights, whatever I consider the “best of”.

My .bashrc is unremarkable, I just have a lot of shortcuts for the common everyday stuff. Perhaps the only thing worth noting is title setting for screen:
PROMPT_COMMAND=‘echo -ne "kecho $PWD | sed "s:.*/\(.*/.*/.*\):\1:g""’
I actually wrote that myself, it shows the innermost three directories that you’re in. Showing running command in title is useless, as that’s in most cases either bash or vim (rarely also mysql). Showing the full path is useless, because long titles get cut off. Showing only the current directory name is not so great either, as it leaves you without context. I’ve settled for last three so far, but two might also be useful in certain situations.

Perhaps the best tip of all, reduce amount of tab hitting for completion by 50%. Put following to your .inputrc:
set show-all-if-ambiguous on

Next in line is my .vimrc (sorry, no .emacsrc, emacs sucks). Except for the usual stuff (nocompatible, colours, incsearch, etc.), I use few very useful and not very well known tricks.

set so=10 " show 10 lines of context (above and below)

“so” is short for “scrolloff”, which makes sure you have some space to breathe.

Last but not least, the Esc key is real far, hence:
set tm=400 " timeout for shortcuts

inoremap jk "pressing j and k together escapes
inoremap kj

Have I missed any useful tips & tricks?

Exposure bracketing

2010-04-27

I have an old Canon 20D. I’m pretty happy with it, the large pixels behave well in low light conditions and it’s got reasonably comfortable handling. There’s just one thing that’s been really bothering me, and as far as I know, all the other cameras suck just as much as mine.

Exposure bracketing was implemented by someone who hates HDR, photographers, and humanity altogether.

I use continuous shooting mode (hold the button down and the camera keeps shooting as fast as it can until it chokes). First, I have to press the button and hold it for exactly the right amount of time to get three pictures. In the beginning, it used to give me a headache, but after some time I got used to it. It’s stil an inconvenience, but a rather minor issue.

There’s something I don’t get at all: Why do I even have to shoot more pictures to get more dynamic range?

If the wonderful RAW format had for example 32bit depth instead of 12 or 14, we wouldn’t need bracketing at all! You would just take the longest of the exposures, and the camera could record all the data without overblowing the highlights. Or, if that is too much hassle, it could make 3 “virtual” RAW files – by simply taking a snapshot of the sensor’s state at three different times during the single exposure.

Given the amazing feedback I’ve been getting here lately, I don’t expect an answer. But I do wonder – is there anything in the way? Or are camera manufacturers incompetent?

PS: Yes, HDR is an instrument of the devil. If you look at my recent pictures, you might see that I realized that aready. But sometimes, sometimes I like to go to the dark side…

Double elimination tournaments

2010-03-30

Let me start by saying that I really like the concept of a double elimination tournament. So I might be biased in my analysis.

Second, this post deals specifically with potential use of double elimination tournaments in settings of EGC/LSG side event.

What is wrong with the current approach

Current approach has two separate parts – qualification and finals. Qualification consists of several groups playing round robin system (8 groups of 6 people). First two of each group get to the finals, which is a simple single elimination (16 players in our study case). The total number of rounds is 5 + 4.

There are several related problems which stem from this concept. First, not all games are important. Some people leave halfway during the eliminations or just decide to resign the remaining games, as they have no chance of advancing to the finals anymore. This can influence who advances to the finals and has a negative impact on the tournament atmosphere. Second, the final only determines the winner reliably. Plus it just sucks that by blundering once, you get eliminated.

Why double elimination

Double elimination eliminates the unnecessary games. Every game matters. If someone decides not to participate anymore, his opponent gets a free win, but it doesn’t harm anyone but the one who quit.

You are free to lose any single game and can still win the tournament.

Double elimination is also much more accurate in determining the second to fourth places, which are available without any extra playoffs, with single playoff necessary to determine fifth and sixth place.

So where’s the catch?

Perhaps the biggest disadvantage is that double elimination of (up to) 64 players takes 12 rounds. That is considerably more than 9, and so the necessary extra time needs to be reserved. The reward is elimination of redundant games and much fairer results.

Another disadvantage might be that quarter of the participants only get to play two games. On the other hand, they can go to the beach and have fun instead of having to play.

Conclusion

Double elimination is particularly suitable for faster tournaments, where you can finish a round in under half an hour (and the whole 64-player tournament under 6 hours). The slightly asynchronous nature of double elimination allows for certain brackets to develop faster. On the other hand, there can appear bottlenecks when someone doesn’t show up. This can be taken care of by giving a default win to bottlenecker’s opponent, hence speeding up the tournament even more.

I would like to try double elimination for 9×9, 13×13, and blitz tournaments at LSG 2010. I’m all ears for your opinions on this idea.

By the way, have you already registered for LSG 2010?

On decisions

2010-02-27

We have freedom and can make a lot of decisions – isn’ it great? On the other hand, we often have to make decisions. I generally don’t like making decisions. Making a decision means that I will most probably regret it sooner or later.

I use a regret-based approach to making decisions. I try to estimate the probability that I’ll regret the decision. Sometimes, that probability is 100% for one option, so the other option wins by default.

About a year ago, in early 2009, I decided to quit my work and explore Poland. I reached that decision by realising that if I don’t do it, I will regret it for sure. My vacation time ended up being almost three times as long as I expected, mostly due to unplanned trip to Korea, which was great. I didn’t really have enough money to go there, but I knew I would definitely regret not going. 2009 has definitely been the best year of my life so far.

I wish I could apply this approach to making decisions more broadly, as it rarely fails. There are decisions for which I am fully aware of the right choice, yet can’t follow through and end up choosing the bad one.