In a spur of enjoyable procrastination, I added atom feeds for recent comments and for per-entry comments. Now a blog reader client can directly show the comments on each entry, and my readers, if interested in the comments (as I am on other blogs), can subscribe to them as well. Hope it helps. 8-)
We have electronic cards at the University with 5-digit PINs, set by the user on the first use. I only use the card once in a semester. All other PINs I have are 4-digit, other passwords are at least 7 character long. What PIN did I choose half a year ago? Who in the world thought about this — our users will seldom use the cards, let's make the PINs non-standard fixed length so that they have to create something new, which they can forget in half a minute. BOFH!
In a moment of procrastination, I can catch up with some old blog material. I want to write about Frisbee — adult people throwing a flying disk around. It sounds childish, but it's actually a nice sport. Anybody near Innsbruck who would be interested?
I was spending the summer last year in Galway, Ireland, and when my colleagues asked me if I wanted to go play frisbee with them, I thought, why the heck not. I only knew about trying to catch and throw the flying disk. To my surprise, I was introduced to the game of Ultimate Frisbee. Now I'm in general a sport-avoiding person because I'm clumsy and it hurts when I hit or get hit by whatever things the sport is played with. Nevertheless, frisbee is fun to begin with (just throwing it around), so I got addicted before I got to the level where it hurt. (And hurt it did — it's a big myth that Ultimate is a non-contact sport. Oh, you mean no intentional contact, right...)
And it was especially cool how I met great people — Andaria, Alan, Matteo, and plenty of others whose URIs I don't have. See also the dedicated frisbee blog by Andaria, there are some cool pictures there. And later I learned that DaveO, a friend through W3C, is also an Ultimate player — go Dave!
So after coming back to Innsbruck mid-September, I was disappointed by the weather which kept being consistently wrong for frisbee. Anyway, I bought a disk and since I also do some skiing, I was thinking about bringing the disk to the slopes. I haven't done it yet, and it is a white disk which could be a bit of a problem, anyway it might be fun. Does anybody have experience with that? 8-)
But I have finally done some throwing around when I was at a conference in the Caribbean — I took the disk and we played with it with a few friends, even in the sea and in the pool. (The disk floats. 8-) )
Any readers around Innsbruck who would be interested, please contact me and we can have some Frisbee fun. 8-)
Let me see if anyone agrees. A suggestion for web designers (and I mean all the bloggers out there, too): make the main text on your blog look good in your browser(s) by setting the default fonts (and mainly sizes) in the browser settings, not in the page's CSS. Read on for the reasoning.
Reading through various blogs I really appreciate the way my browser remembers zoom factor for various pages because the designers really, but really need to make their pages' fonts small - not good for us nearly blind people. As an example, here's a post on Stefan Tilkov's blog that I read because it contains useful links and thoughts, but my zoom factor is at 170% to achieve my preferred font size. Mind you, my default font in my browser is in my preferred font size so on a web page with no font size changes for the main text (like, ehm, my blog) the zoom factor will be 100%. I have no idea why Stefan doesn't just set his browser's defaults right and why he imposes that size on everybody.
Stefan's case is simple, though, I just set the zoom as necessary and don't think of this any more. But now I noticed on a post on Sam Ruby's blog that the code exerpts in text (like variable names etc.) are bigger than default size, but normal text is at default size. Now this indicates Sam has only one font (default for monospace font) set too small so he makes it 120% bigger in normal text. Now that's great because on my settings either the normal text is OK and the variable names stick out or the normal text is small but the variable names are OK if I play with zoom. Now come on guys, why are you doing this?
I'm not against using different font sizes, but for accessibility (and I'm not even considered disabled yet) it's good to make the main textual content in the bloody default size, that's why it's there, right?
I guess I can join the frenzy... I usually take the quizzes in spare time and I'm genuinely entertained by them, but this is the first blog post about it:
So I was in California last month and I have a few impressions and thoughts I'd like to share, mostly not connected to the elections.
I have a lot of direct experience in the USA: in 1997/98 I spent one school year at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, and in that year I also traveled around the whole USA a bit (mostly coasts and Chicago+Minneapolis). Since 2000 I've been visiting the country about twice a year for business trips, usually one week. This gives me a sketchy view on the country's evolution.
I don't seem to be able to write this post without mentioning the healthy food craze, the terrorism-fear-induced security measures (PATRIOT act etc.) or the big-money-driven laws for protection of old business models (DMCA etc.). With this off my chest, I can go on to my most recent impressions.
Last month was the first time I've seen advertisements for balanced energy choices, pushing clean coal energy. Are we in the 21st century here? Big money massaging the public to allow power suppliers to go with the cheap options, obviously.
Then, of course, the ridiculously expensive and dirty presidential campaigns and the laughable "debates". I hoped Sen. Kerry would win, now I'm looking with slight apprehension what else G.W.Bush does in his second term (if indeed the official elections go as currently predicted - they aren't over yet).
Now a change whose implications have yet to be seen: in Ohio in 1997, gas prices were simply not a consideration (among the middle class), everybody just drove their cars. These days people are actually starting to think about the economy of transport, and I'm interested where this will ultimately lead. An example of this trend is the hybrid car (electric+gas), something almost unheard of in Europe.
The most surprising development of the USA, though, is a subtle one. While watching the TV, I noticed they don't say african americans any more and use the clear and accurate term blacks. Whatever happened to political correctness? Could this be a breeze of reason?
All in all, USA stays a potential candidate for my next big move after Innsbruck. 8-)
Two weeks ago, I went on a week-long vacation on my motorbike. Originally, I planned Spain, but a friend (Petra Kiliánová from Prague) needed a partner for Italy, which is almost as good. See the pictures or read on for a detailed account of the trip. It's long and I'm no writer, so don't feel bad if you don't read the whole thing. 8-)
Petra started on Saturday, visiting a friend Daniela in Torino. I set off from Innsbruck on the cold Sunday morning. The first 200km of the trip followed the river Inn upstream, going up-hill all the time for some reason. Not that the bike cares, but it meant that it wasn't getting warmer with the advancing day, until I reached Malojapass, where I left the Inn (now a stream) and dropped 1500m to Italy. Switzerland was very pretty and neat, more so than Tirol, I think.
Italy, on the other hand, is totally different - probably poorer (relatively), certainly more dusty and dirty and hot. I even had the pleasure of riding through Milano and lemme tellya, Italians drive like mad.
Using a number of short messages, we agreed with Petra that I'd come to Torino's main train station and there I'd be picked up by Petra and Daniela, who would guide me the last few miles. The plan worked out perfectly, except that finding the train station was probably harder than going directly to Daniela's place. No grudge though, at least I got a glimpse of Torino.
After a delicious dinner cooked by Daniela, Petra and I packed all our things on the bike (not a trivial task) and set off down towards the coast. For the first night we selected Ventimiglia, a coast town very close to France. There is a direct route from Torino to Ventimiglia, but it's not exactly straight for it goes through a bit of the Alps. I mean, I like curves, but not that much, especially in the night.
At about 1am we finally reached the coast and a camp which closed at 11pm. Well, the second one did as well, but they let us in anyway and gave us a tiny spot for the tent for the one night.
Monday morning we took rode the short distance to Monaco. Parking the bike in a city garage for under 2€ for the day did not even attempt to hint at the rest of the prices we'd face in Monte-Carlo that day. But it is a city/country for the rich, after all. My impression of Monaco is that it would be a very nice place to be able to afford to live in.
To answer the obvious question - no, we didn't see the casino. We chose the beach instead.
For the next night we rode back to Italy, planning the next stop in San Remo. There's a very nice camp just before San Remo - it's big, just by the sea, and it boasts three stars (I didn't know that camps had stars...) - I totally recommend it - Villaggio de Fiori.
Against all weather forecasts, the next morning it was raining, so we decided not to pack, but to stay another night here. We walked to San Remo, getting rained on and then drying in the sun multiple times. There is a very nice Russian Orthodox church to see in San Remo, a sight very rare in the Roman Catholic country. Other than that, there is the promenade and the old town, both also worth seeing.
Since the weather got gradually better, we decided to take a ride in the afternoon, after visiting what we deemed appropriate in San Remo. We took the nice but slow coastal road with its curves and views. First we stopped in Cervo, a really distinct town built on a big rock, and then we continued to Albenga, again with a very nice old center and a pretty unique group of three towers. After an unexpectedly cheap dinner in the heart of the town we took the highway back to San Remo and then we enjoyed a bottle of local rosé wine while sitting in chairs about 5 meters from the sea attacking the huge wave-crasher boulders.
On Wednesday, we were mostly on the road. First we took the highway past Genova and from there continued on the coastal road number one. We didn't even stop in Genova because we couldn't give it all the time it would require. Instead, we stopped in a tiny town with a pebble beach (each and every pebble very pretty and begging to be kept as a souvenir) and then tried to locate Cinqueterre, five towns that a guidebook described as almost inaccessible nice tiny fishermen villages. Now everybody knows about them, they have good roads leading to them and are packed with tourists - in my opinion not worth it.
We had a good spaghetti dinner in La Spezia later that night and then finally we ended up a few kilometers outside the town, this time in a big, cold and almost empty camp without hot showers. As if to remedy that, the next morning was hot so we decided to spend the noontime in the sea - on a long, straight beach strip around Forte dei Marmi. The wide, shallow beach was complemented by big waves so it was basically impossible to swim, but standing knee-deep in water at one moment and being violently swept by a huge wave a few moments later was really cool.
When we were salty enough we rode on to our final destination, Pisa. The Leaning Tower and the cathedral are the only major sights, but major they are, and I think everybody should have a tourist picture either supporting the tower or pushing it, depending on their nature. And the leaning souvenir mugs are also cool.
Before sunset, we left the city and rode some 50km to the next camp. This one was again in the mountains and it was, like, freezing. A hot tea with a healthy dose of slivovice (Czech plum brandy) helped us survive the night so we could continue the next morning on the final leg of the trip.
Going from Pisa to Innsbruck, one only needs to follow the road number 12 and that leads directly the right way - this was quite a pleasant surprise. During this day, we stopped in Verona for lunch (finally a pizza), nevertheless the cca 500km-long trip took the whole day. And guess what - it was hot half of the day and freezing the other half, but then, after a week of the same, it was no big problem. For Petra the trip was not yet ended, but she stayed with me in Innsbruck for the weekend and then we parted at last, until the next time.
All in all, this was the best vacation I've ever had, combining a lot of motorbiking, visiting two new countries (never visited Monaco or Italy before that), having fun in the sea and also seeing some pretty mountains, and of course all the sights also count. Gotta do Spain next year though, in a similar vein.
Congratulations if you read it all, and please let me know. 8-)
I thought I got to travel a lot at Systinet - about three or four business trips a year, mostly to various places in the USA and France. At DERI I travel a lot more (mostly blogged) and often visit places (and countries) for the first time.
Two weeks ago I was in London (pics) - first time visiting the UK; in two weeks I'll go to Varna - first time visiting Bulgaria. Other places include Galway, Ireland (the other DERI), Crete, Greece, Lausanne, Switzerland, and in fact my February interview at DERI also meant the first visit of Innsbruck and Austria. And next week I'm on holiday in Italy, also for the first time. My list of visited countries grows happily, see links on the right side of the main blog page.
Another weekend, another wedding. I drove again the thousand miles to attend a friends' wedding, this time it was Lucka Vybíralová and Standa Opichal. Quite unexpectedly I also learned that another couple - Hanka and Sparq (now sharing the surname Dvořák) were also getting married, at the same time in a different place. But they had their party just a few kilometers from Opichals so after Lucie was kidnapped and rescued, Hanka followed. Thus I participated in two bride-nappings in one afternoon, piece of cake. 8-)
Not unexpectedly, I got pictures, but only of the first wedding. I'll appreciate any pics of the second. 8-)
This weekend I attended the wedding of Markéta Zvonková and Pavel Chuchma and I wish them good luck in their life together! Of course I have a few pictures. It was a very nice wedding, the bride as beautiful as any, the weather just plain perfect, so congratulations!
This wedding and another one coming this weekend, both in Moravia (eastern Czechia) were among the final points for my decision about buying a car (yes, I have bought the blue Mercedes) - this way I can drive conveniently to see these important days in the lives of my friends.
I have a couple of friends (Lada and Bořek) visiting me here and they wanted to try summer skiing available at the Stubai glacier some 50km from here. Adding another friend (Anna) we went there yesterday and it was definitely worth it. The views from the Top of Tirol, the combination of hot sun and coldish wind together with the snow, the "4. Jul 2004 Ski Pass" souvenirs all made sure we had the perfect Sunday. Of course, pictures are available. Understandably, the skiing itself was wetter and slower than in the winter, but with very few people to compete for the space with, it was really great.
I'm considering buying an old used Mercedes - do my readers have any tips on that? I'll decide in the next few days, so far I'm leaning towards the purchase. (Updated to include another car.)
The first car (1987, 140Mm for €2400) drives pretty well (apart from dying of lack of gas because the dealer only put in the minimal amount of it) and it seems to be well taken care of, but of course there are signs of wear, actually only on the inside though. I know it's not meant for short drives because the mileage would be really terrible, but I'd use it mainly for the long runs, like 600km to Prague or 800km to see my parents.
The second car (1990, 270Mm, diesel, €2500) also drives very nicely with no visible problems whatsoever. Especially the torque given by the 2.5l diesel engine is much better, engine-braking is so much more possible than in the benzin car mentioned above. I'm arranging a proffesional check-up to be sure of the state of the car.
So, I'm aware of the costs of gas and insurance, some cost for maintenance. I have a free parking place by the house. Is there something I'm forgetting?
Today Scaled Composites' SpaceShipOne has successfully and safely gone to the space (cca 100km altitude) and back, marking the first commercial manned space flight. See the Scaled Composites - Tier One / SpaceShipOne Home Page.
This is important because now it's clear private enterprises can go to space without the help from governments (except for the huge body of experience and some approvals). Basically, space flight has just gotten much cheaper and I have a renewed hope for space vacations or even actual colonies.
Perhaps the new "land of the free" could be established on the Moon, now that the USA seems to have some problems on the freedoms front. Imagine starting a country with no history whatsoever in a place where no native civilization would have to be destroyed in the process. I'd grab the first opportunity.
Yesterday night I had a nice dinner at Papa Joey's in Innsbruck's Altstadt (old town). The restaurant is really nice, the most interesting thing, though, is beer served by the yard. I had a half-yard myself, but one day I'll do the real thing. See the pictures. 8-)
I read about Rich Salz's Broken Neck and I wish Rich to get well soon!
So I've moved to Innsbruck now. It was quite an experience - I saved vacation time for my last week at Systinet so I could do the move.
See some pictures from the last leg of the trip and from here, or continue reading for the description of my moving week.
Here's how it went: on the weekend of April 24 I moved my bike to my parent's town and borrowed their car and returned to Prague, 400km each way. Then I drove to Innsbruck on Monday (530km) and stayed at Wilhelmine Matha hotel - a small but cheap place, quite sufficient.
Tuesday through Thursday I searched for a garconniere - I saw quite a few: a very beautiful one in Seefeld 20km away from Innsbruck, a spatious and light and expensive one in the center, a few cheaper and uglier ones in various other parts of the town, and finally the last one I saw was 8 minutes walking distance (I timed it today) from my new work place and it was nice enough, so I immediately took it. I guess I was pretty lucky to find a flat in three days. 8-)
Then Thursday afternoon I drove back to Prague, leaving all my things under my new desk in the office (not in the new flat yet) - that's another 530km.
Friday I had fun in Prague, celebrating the expansion of EU to contain both Poland and the Czech Republic, my home countries. I feel very good about it, quite unlike many of my friends.
On Saturday I drove back to my parents' town 400km away and on Sunday I finished by riding my bike all the way to Innsbruck, about 800km. Quite a distance altogether, I hope not to repeat this in a long time. 8-)
I guess not everyone knows this yet so here it goes. I'm leaving Systinet in two weeks and starting at DERI Innsbruck to work on Semantic Web projects and to try to get my PhD on the way to my dream job of a university professor.
I've been at Systinet (previously known as Idoox, for those who remember) for almost four years and I've never regretted coming here; it's a great company with lots of opportunities. Now the time has come to move on, but I will miss Systinet greatly.
Work also took me to Redmond, WA last week (see Jorgen Thelin's post on the reason why I was there) so I took some pictures there and generally enjoyed myself in the beautiful Seattle area. They're worth seeing if you like pictures of clouds; also containing a brief comparison of the first and the latest of my digital cameras. 8-)
I like Seattle but it's a bit too cold and rainy for me, I wouldn't be able to ride my motorbike too much.
Actually, I only heard that it's very rainy - it never really rained on me in Seattle. When I first visited the city in 1998, the clouds were leaving as my bus approached and they returned just as I was leaving; this time they were present but only hinted on their potential with a few drops.
Sam Ruby wrote about Business Cards and I remembered that when I needed my first business cards at Idoox (which later turned to Systinet), I needed to go to town to get them myself. I guess that's what you get working for a start-up. 8-)
Anyway, chicks don't seem to dig guys with business cards. 8-)
So here it goes. 8-) I decided that updating my static homepage at Jacek.cz is impossible, therefore it will soon just list a few basic things and point to this blog.
That guides what I want to write here - anything I want people to know about me, rants, replies to other people's blog entries (i.e. rants, replies to yet other people's blog entries etc.) etc.
As usual, you should expect radical CSS changes in the upcoming few days or weeks.
In case you wonder - the name means Daisy. If you wonder even more now, ask me personally.
Share and enjoy!