Gaming Shuffle Tuesday 5 June 2007
Argh, I'm getting addicted to a flash game called Shuffle. My best result so far is 19 rounds won.
Photos Travel reports updated Monday 4 June 2007
Thanks to a freeware editor which lets you search&replace with regular expressions (Notepad++), I was able to convert my travel reports to the new gallery script in no time. So now visitors can easily browse through my Middle East, Mexico & Guatemala, India & Nepal, Peru & Bolivia and other pictures, and all these pictures should get picked up by Google Images within weeks. Only the Egypt 2003 report is still unchanged because it has a complicated layout.

I've also solved the nasty old problem of characters like ñ, ü and å being shown as ? in the travel reports (e.g. in "Ca?on de Palca", "L?beck" and "Vester?len"). The reason was that my old text editor uses ANSI character encoding and I needed something more modern like UTF. Converting the files from ANSI to UTF wasn't a straightforward job; most editors screw up the special character when doing that. But I finally found an editor called EditPad which can convert character encodings properly.
Photos New photo gallery script Wednesday 30 May 2007
I've integrated a new photo gallery script in this site. I started from the Lightbox 2 scipt, but added some code to add tooltips to the thumbnails. I've updated my Greece 2003 photo report to try the new script, and it works great. Captions are shown with the picture now, and you can just browse through all the pictures directly with the left arrow and right arrow keys (or by clicking on the left/right hand side of the photos). You can also try it out with these pics...
Other travel reports will get updated as well. If you're wondering why I needed yet another new gallery script, read on...
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Movies The 300 Monday 28 May 2007
When I first heard a movie was being made about the stand of king Leonidas and his 300 Spartans against the Persian army at Thermopylae, I was excited because that is my favourite episode in world history (cfr. my Greece photo report). It actually brings tears to my eyes when I read about it. Then I found out the movie was actually being based on a graphic novel, and saw the trailer which showed a lot of idiotic cliché-driven dialogue, so I didn't plan to see it at all. Now I finally went to see it after all.

Since my expectations were low, I actually enjoyed it. The idea of turning a historic event into a fantastic story is great. The visuals were superb, and I really liked all the exagerations including the superhero nature and the deathwish of all the Spartans. The dialogues were as lame as the trailer suggested though, and even worse were the sentimental moments involving Leonidas' wife. All-in-all I think all the ingredients were here for a great movie but the Hollywood treatment ruined it. 6/10.

Favourite moment: when near the end king Leonidas says something like "I hope in the centuries to come travelers will come to this place and remember our deeds" - that's exactly what I did! Picture in my site banner.
About me Pukkus Erectus Sunday 27 May 2007
Lotte's dog Puk is somewhat ahead of other dogs. For example, she walks and jumps around on two legs a lot...

Politics WANTED: Politician who... Sunday 20 May 2007
  • does not seek to combine several mandates
  • speaks his mind in clear, honest and direct language rather than fluffy, hollow, paternalistic language designed to offend the least number of people
  • does not engage in demagoguery, like promising to create x00000 new jobs while politics has very little influence on that
  • favours the continued redistribution of wealth from rich to poor
  • considers the right to strike holy, but opposes the use of economic blackmail on society (e.g. by blockading roads and airports)
  • favours strong labour unions within companies, but opposes labour unions exerting political power - social policy is to be decided by the democratically elected parliament, not by any self-interest groups
  • has a practical rather than a dogmatic approach to energy policy
  • wants to at least try to do something about the chronic traffic jams around Antwerp and Brussels - I don't understand how this issue, which cripples our economy and affects hundreds of thousands of people, is not even on the table
  • wants much tougher punishments for physical violence
  • wants to legalise cannabis
  • supports the right to euthanasia
  • supports the right of gay couples to adopt children
  • favours an agressive stance against racism, especially in the labour market. integration has no chance as long as it's 10x harder for people of Arabic origin to find a job.
  • favours an equally agressive stance against the growing fascism (sexism, religious intolerance, racism against jews) within the islamic community
  • is not a flag-waving nationalist, but is not afraid to play the card of Flemish independence during negotiations with French-speaking parties
  • opposes Israel's colonialism
  • wants an increased and fixed budget for aid to developing countries

These are the issues closest to my heart. I would already be glad to find a candidate for our national elections in June who shares my opinion on the majority of these issues. Unfortunately, in our particracy there are only as many political programs and styles as there are political parties, and none of them appeal to me. So like most people, I'm condemned to going for what I consider the least bad choice.
Gaming Nintendo stock rock Thursday 17 May 2007
About a year ago I first heard the buzz about the new Nintendo Wii, a game console which for once doesn't focus on better graphics but on an innovative controller. From reading gamers' reactions, I concluded this was going to be a hit and would beat the new Sony Playstation 3.

Then in August I read that market analysts were predicting the exact opposite, and I decided to buy Nintendo stock. Stock prices always reflect expectations, and if expectations for the Wii were low, there was profit to be made.
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World News Working in Iraq Tuesday 24 April 2007
Highly recommended reading: this article about two Americans, both in their 20s, who relocated to Iraq and started selling internet access there.
Photos Berlin, Copenhagen and Five Other Cities Saturday 21 April 2007
I've put up a photo report of my trip to Berlin and Copenhagen. Part 1 describes the trip and shows pictures from the other cities we visited along the way - Osnabrück, Schwerin, Lübeck, Hamburg and Münster. Part 2 is all about Berlin, and part 3 about Copenhagen. Here's the usual appetiser...
World News Virginia massacre Wednesday 18 April 2007
I live closer to Baghdad than to Virginia, yet I'm being bombarded with details about the shooter and the victims of the Virginia massacre while I've never heard any names of either killers or victims of the daily massacres in Iraq.

I'm wondering, would there be any American who, amidst all the hysteria, realises that having 33 innocent people massacred would be considered a relatively good day in Baghdad?
Movies Sunshine Thursday 12 April 2007
SF movie about a mission to the sun, with strong references to 2001: A Space Odissey and Event Horizon. Very beautiful images of the raging sunlight, and an interesting idea for a movie, but there are too many irrationalities to make the plot believable (e.g. you can't make a quick stop during a long space journey; you lose months breaking and accelerating again), and the second half is a sequence of thriller clichés. Intelligent SF movies remain a rarity :/ 7/10
Traveling Zurück Tuesday 10 April 2007
Aight I'm back in Belgium after a great trip! We saw 7 cities - Osnabrück, Berlin, Schwerin, Lübeck, Kopenhagen, Hamburg and Münster - and they were all very nice. Berlin and Kopenhagen, our main destinations, both exceeded expectations. On top of that we had good weather 80% of the time, so I've got many good pictures, 2000 in total. The best ones will be up in a week or two. Here are two pics made in Berlin already...

Traveling Grüßen aus Berlin Tuesday 3 April 2007
Today is our third and last day in Berlin. The weather sucks today but the previous two days we didn´t see a cloud so we can´t complain. I like Berlin, it has more to offer than I expected. The monuments are all neo-classisistic but there are lots and lots of them and some are very nice. I´m looking forward to making a photo report already.
Traveling Off to Deutschland and Kopenhagen Thursday 29 March 2007
So tomorrow I'm off on a 10-day trip. We've booked all hotels in advance since it's Easter holiday and will be busy, and I've entered all addresses in my GPS already, so all we need now is good weather and this should be a very smooth trip.

Here's our itinerary. Tomorrow evening we drive to Osnabrück, then on Saturday continue to Berlin where we'll spend three full days. On Wednesday we drive to Lübeck, visiting the palace of Schwerin along the way. Thursday we take a boat to Denmark (first time I've been there!) and spend the next two days in Kopenhagen. We leave there on Sunday, making one more stop in Hamburg before returning home on Monday.
About me Visual DNA Sunday 25 March 2007
Here's a personality test that just requires you to choose some pictures. It's rather obvious but looks good. This is my result in words and here it is in pictures...

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