The colorful wolf

February 18, 2011

To appreciate beauty

Filed under: Thoughts — randy @ 21:47

I’m not sure how to write about this, but here goes. I was thinking about what truly motivates me, and I realized that there are not a lot of things that do. Most importantly, I am having trouble finding the true motivation required to start a company. I still don’t have the dedication to work on something until I drop dead from exhaustion. I know I could do that if I truly believed in my goal. So I reason that, because I don’t have the dedication, I must not truly believe in my goal. Here’s why.

Why do people start a company? Some people are genuinely entrepreneurial. They enjoy doing company-y things, and they have fun doing it. They enjoy making money, and finding out new ways of making more money. I really don’t. Of course I won’t be unhappy if I make a lot of money, but I can’t see it as a goal. If anything, it’s a nasty workaround that is required to reach a different goal. When I was working as a salaryman it was quite easy to motivate myself. I was doing something that people I knew depended on. By doing my job I could make their lives better. There wasn’t any major need to justify the things I did because it was part of the company culture, and everybody depended on things continuing in the way they were. I’m not saying that’s good, because it isn’t, but it is easy to stay motivated like that. You’re given missions, and you accomplish them. Easy as mud pie.

But when you’re the one giving out the orders, you have to think a lot more about the ‘why’ of things. Entrepreneurs do that with a clear goal. They think “I genuinely want to make this company a success, and I enjoy working for this cause”. I can pretend to think in this way, but no matter how hard I try, I cannot reproduce the genuine feelings. Because to me, that’s not really what it’s about.

So what is it about? For the longest time I did not know the answer to that question, and was not close to reaching it at all. But now I think that I found the one thing that truly motivates me. As the title says, it is to seek out and appreciate the beautiful things in the world. It’s a beautiful thing to say exactly because the word ‘beautiful’ is beautifully subjective and beautifully vague. That sentence probably means something slightly different to everyone who reads it. To me, I have an inner sense of things that I think are beautiful, and all of my best moments in my life are associated with that word. A beautiful piece of source code, a beautiful landscape at a beautiful time of day, seeing a very happy person walk down the street. Even finding a set of beautifully elaborate connections between various internet memes and animes is something I consider to be beautiful.

In purely biological terms, this means that I want to live a life where I can link as many concepts as possible to the concept of ‘beauty’ in my brain. I then want to proceed to trigger these brain cells as much as possible over the course of my life. This requires me to experience a lot of things, because beauty fades over time, and also because you need a strong contrast with less beautiful things so that you can better appreciate the beauty.

After I finished writing the above, I realized that there’s quite a strong connection between the word beauty and the word happy. Interestingly enough we can only use the term ‘happy’ for people, yet we can ascribe the concept of beauty to inanimate objects, even though beauty is entirely subjective and created only by the mind of the person experiencing it. My concept of beauty is perhaps also linked to the concept of ‘Quality’ referred to in the book Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. That’s a book I highly recommend by the way.

To round it off, I am fairly certain that finding and appreciating [whatever my mind interprets as] beauty is what I live for. There is nothing else in the world that could motivate me more, and everything I do is more or less connected to the idea of finding and experiencing beauty. It’s yet another part of myself that I managed to define just a little bit more clearly.

Sony Sony Sony…

Filed under: Tech — randy @ 0:45
Tags: ,

The Sony PS3 ‘scandal’ is still going on, and I’m still quite interested in how it develops. Press online is reporting massively on Sony’s poor security measures when dealing with credit cards. Apparently they are sending credit card info as plain-text over https. In other words, they are sending text over an encrypted connection! That’s not a security risk at all. Every time you input your credit card number into a browser it is sent using the same security measures.

However, if you install a custom OS on the PS3, it is possible to get the SSL certificates used in the encryption, thus getting the credit card numbers. The computer equivalent of that would be installing spyware or a virus that finds the card number on your PC and sends it. There’s no difference, really, and I don’t think Sony is to blame here at all.

The interesting bit though is that there are so many hackers, devoted hackers that spent a lot of time working on custom OSes on the PS3, that are hating Sony’s guts right now for making yet another stupid decision towards its more creative customers. There are a lot of people that are very motivated to publish negative information about Sony, and the online media is more than eager to jump on it.

That being said, the kind of attitude that Sony is showing does mean that I won’t buy a PS3, even though I really want to play Gran Turismo 5. Purely subjectively speaking, I’m not very fond of Oracle (especially after that Hudson/Jenkins debacle), but I quite like Java (and use it). I don’t like Apple as a company but I love the iPad (and am even a developer for it >_<;). But what Sony is doing is just beyond all boundaries. The line must be drawn somewhere, and for me it lies right there. No PS3 for me.


February 16, 2011

Fun with Square Codes

Filed under: Tech — randy @ 1:24
Tags: , , , , ,

This is a qr code:

It’s used to embed data inside of it, which can then be scanned by a large variety of devices. It’s widely used in Japan to advertise links to web pages, which are otherwise difficult to type on a small device like a mobile phone. But they can be used for all kinds of things. All in all it’s a very cool technology, so I wanted to experiment with it.

Python and Django are my server of choice, so I started looking for a library to generate square codes in Python. I soon wandered upon pyqrnative, which is a port from a javascript version, apparently. It’s very compact and easy to use. Generating images was a piece of cake. I had Django serve dynamically generated images in no-time.

But how to read these images client-side? Since I recently dabbled in OpenCV and JavaCV I learned of an easy way to access the webcam in Java, so I made a Java implementation. This step was not very difficult, so I decided to make things harder on myself by embedding the webcam part in a Java applet, so it could run from a website.

I had a bit of trouble here, as accessing native libraries (using Java Native Access) proved quite difficult. I had a lot of trouble figuring out where JavaCV was loading its dll files from, and it took me a good half hour to debug it. A list of paths to OpenCV are hardcoded in the JavaCV source code. I wanted to include the dll files dynamically, which seemed near impossible. What’s worse, removing or adding paths did not seem to make any difference as to whether JNA could find the dlls or not. I finally tracked it down to one folder: /usr/local/lib was the folder where my libraries were being loaded from. Which is damn peculiar, because that’s a Linux folder and I’m running Windows 7. I suspected cygwin at first, but the problem was not that: When specifying the /usr/local/lib folder, jna looks for all folders in the system variable called jna.library.path, which contains the system path by default. Very obscure…

Having figured that out I could continue building the applet. I had jump through a bunch of hoops to get it to work, namely signing the applet (which is a very good thing considering I’m running native code that accesses a webcam!) and figuring the right tags to put in the HTML. HTML tags for applets are a big bloody mess, there’s no standard at all. There’s a deprecated applet tag, an object tag for IE and an embed tag for Mozilla (which also works in Chrome). I chose the embed tag for now.

There’s a nice method in Java’s AppletContext class which lets you change the browser’s document’s URL. It also allows you to execute arbitrary Javascript, so you can call a javascript function that does an ajax call back to the server that can update the web page! It’s all very roundabout and takes three languages and a whole bunch of libraries to get going, but it’s quite cool once it works. Here’s a video of the result:

February 15, 2011

Dragonball Math

Filed under: One-liners — randy @ 14:47

Some people seem to ascend to Super Saiyan Math Wizard Level 10 right away, yet it takes 7 years of training for me and there’s still crap that I don’t understand.

February 14, 2011

Freedom (anime)

Filed under: japan — randy @ 13:02
Tags: ,

I watched this anime called Freedom recently. It’s beyond visually stunning, as you can see from the intro.

The story was decent, the execution a bit less, but all in all it was very entertaining. The creators really did go out of their way to go from a situation of no freedom at all to a situation of total freedom, which is brilliant. It’s only 7 episodes, go watch it in HD.

February 11, 2011


Filed under: Dutch,Photography — randy @ 17:48

It’s much less bleak today. It felt like the first day of spring. For a couple of hours. Then the sky turned gray again. Keep trying, Holland.


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