Linux as a Windows screensaver.

Oh, the beauty of it. A guy at IBM has Linux running as a screensaver on Windows. The fact that it is so meaningless makes it even cooler! Via slashdot.

More Mythbusters

Finally! The answers from Adam and Jamie, the Mystbusters, has arrived. A month ago the slashdot crowd could submit questions and the best ones would be forwarded to the dynamic duo to answer. Lots of fun things to read about. For example, I'd love to see an episode where they try to send something to the Moon, and so it seems, would Adam and Jamie. It was also interesting to read about how long it takes them to shoot the episodes and various myths.

Also, I just cannot resist to quote a sig from one of the comments. It's just brilliant.
Does the name Pavlov ring a bell?



Yesterday I went to see to movie Proof, with Gwyneth Paltrow and Anthony Hopkins. It's about a great mathematician who just passed away and the heritage he leaves behind. During his last years he was very ill, or rather insane and he was taken care of by one of his daughters. She is also a very gifted mathematician but had to give up her studies to take care of her father. Now that he is dead she has to face her own life and problems as her order sister tries to help her in her own way and one of her father's students wants to go through his books in the hope of finding some valuable math in between all the crazy scribblings.

It is a very good film and I can highly recommend it. The cast is spectacular and my guess is that Gwyneth Paltrow his getting herself and Oscar for this performance.

After the movie we had a little discussion about mathematics in movies and tv shows. One of the things that this movie does right is that it doesn't try to explain any of the math the characters are working with. All attempts that I've seen to do that have failed miserably. Present day math is just so far away from peoples' comprehension that trying to explain it is doomed to fail. Another movie which deals a lot with math successfully is Good Will Hunting which also never tries to explain it. The math is just there as a backdrop to the story about the characters. The tv show Numb3rs also does this pretty well. All these examples of math used right have their story mostly circling around the characters. It's more drama than math sci-fi.

One temptation is to trivialize the math in a movie just to make it understandable and part of the plot. But while that will appeal to math interested highschool student it looks a bit childish to anyone who's done math at the university level. One example is the movie Pi which I saw recently. I'm not saying that this movie is a total disaster, I thought it was quite OK. But the math part wasn't really that believable.

One of the reasons I went to see Proof was to see how they portrait mathematicians in Hollywood. I was a little afraid that it would be mostly the crazy genious stereotype that was shown. Indeed, both Gwyneth Paltrow's and Anthony Hopkins' characters have a bit of that in them. But the late mathematicians student, played by Jake Gyllenhaal, is far from crazy. He is a very sympathic everyday guy with some small geek tendencies. And the movie makes a bit of fun of the geekiness of math students, but it does so in a very friedly way.

How Google treat their workers

Having a company full of nerd can be a difficult thing to manage. Google is one of those companies that do it really well. They have accepted that they have nerds (or "knowledge workers", which is the politically correct term) and that these people have special needs. In the article "Google: Ten Golden Rules" they explain how they take care of their employees. Man, it would be nice to work at Google.


Tabs in Browsers and Operating Systems

I've been thinking more about using the web browser as an operating system (and a window manager, which is really what this post is about). There's been a lot of focus on tabbed browsing in the last couple of years. Mostly because Firefox and Opera has it while Internet Explorer lacks it. Today it occurred to me that Windows have had tabs for quite some time. At the bottom of the screen there is the bar with the start button and that contains a tab for each application. If we wish to start using the browser as a operating system it is only natural to add tabs.

One thing that I've constantly found frustrating with the tabs in Windows is that I cannot reorder them. They show up in the order the applications were started and stay that way (except for when Windows occasionally freaks out). I find this very annoying. The mind is good at remembering spatial relationships and therefore I try to keep a certain order between the tabs of the applications I use most often. For example I always have Firefox first. But if I need to restart it for some reason it ends up as the rightmost application and the only way to fix that is to close all other applications. Silly. In Firefox I prefer to have the Gmail tab first followed by the Google Reader tab. In version 1.5 it is easy to reorder the tabs if they should end up out of sync which I was very pleased to see.

But the oddest thing I noticed when I realized that Windows also have tabs is that Windows and the browsers don't agree on the placement of tabs. Windows have the tabs at the bottom of the screan while all browsers I know of have the tabs above the web page under the menu and status bar. Isn't that funny? I would think that there would be a most natural placement but so far I have heard noone complaining about either placement. But since Windows allows you to change the placement of the tabs I've now put it at the top of the screen just to see what it feels like. And if it works out I will keep it that way to that I always have my tabs at the top. But now in the beginning it is a very weird experience. I am totally unused to it and it feels very unnatural which surprises me. I suggest you try it too. It remains to be seen if I can manage to keep it this way or if I will have to change back eventually.



A couple of weeks ago my fiance and I discovered a show on Discovery Channel called Mythbusters. It's about taking myths of any kind and see if they really hold water. The way they test the myths is to actually recreate the conditions of the myth and see what happens. This makes for a whole lot of fun like blowing the most unlikely things up or using crash test dummies until they fall apart. This show has now become one of my absolute favorites.

One nice thing with the show is that they sometimes rerun some experiments in later shows if the viewers think that they have done something wrong. This is what I just did. I saw an episode a few days ago about a myth that got busted. But I think that they missed a couple of details so I sent them a mail on how they should test the myth properly. I'll be sure to post about it here if they rerun the test as I suggested.

Some more Mythbusters links:


Aeon Flux

Today Aeon Flux opens in the US. I thought I'd comment a bit about my that film before I've seen it. First of all I have very little idea about weather the movie is going to be good or bad. From the little I know and the trailers it could be an OK action movie. But that's not really what I wanted to comment on. I'd rather go on about the relationship with the original animated Aeon Flux.

Aeon Flux was an animated TV series in the beginning of the 90's. It was shown on MTV. It was about a female agent (Aeon Flux is her name) running around on her missions usually killing of a lot of clone soldiers. The series is very characteristic (for me at least) in its rawness and violence. Aeon is very athletic and performs incredible stunts as she tries to accomplish her missions. Furthermore she has very little clothes on, but nothing essential is revealed. There is nothing sexually about her bareness (at least, I don't get turned on by her dress).

Now, I have some very serious doubts that they will be able to capture the feeling of the original series in a film with real actors. The film will most likely be just another action movie with some ideas and plot inspired form the animated version. I have no doubt that Aeon Flux will be able to perform spectacular stunts with today's special effects but that will not help much to create the real Aeon Flux feeling. It's also something about how the characters are drawn in the animated version which adds to its roughness which I think is simply impossible to recreate and at the same time let the movie take place in the real world. And I should also make sure to whine about the choice of Charlize Theron as Aeon Flux. She's pretty and a good actress and I'm sure she will attract a lot of people to go see the film. But she is very far from the animated Aeon Flux. The animated woman is not pretty but looks a bit anorectic and very fit at the same time. She also has a lot of rawness to her which Charlize Theron doesn't even come close to.

So all in all I think the movie will not honor the animated series. But whether it will be a good movie or not I have no idea.