The police
Friday, December 31, 2004, 00:16 - Personal
Last night something happened near my apartment building that attracted an ambulance, five marked police cars and two what I think were unmarked police cars.
The ambulance stopped just out of my view, but I saw an empty gurney being returned to it and then they drove off with sirens only a few minutes after they arrived. I suspect they could do nothing for the victim and where called to another location.

My first guess was something like the murder on Theo van Gogh, but then I would suspect the police to search the surroundings and they did not do that.
As it happened immediately next to an 18-story appartment building with free access I suspect it was a suicide jumper, although I'm not sure that would attract that much police attention.

In an attempt to find hot police info on the internet about it I came across this site that has a live police scanner feed of my police region Haaglanden. I have been listening to it for a while yesterday and today.

Most of the stuff isn't interesting at all. A lot of small fires and some arrests for lighting fireworks. The occasional accident.
At one point a police car was directed to an address where a man was threatening his wife with a knife. When the police arrived the man had left in his car, saying that he was going to get himself killed on the highway. A message was sent out to all listening units to look out for the car and to apprehend the man who was intoxicated with alcohol (at 11:00 AM!).
Very soon one unit had spotted the car and made it stop and arrested the man.

BTW I still don't know what happened last night, but it was fun to listen a little to this stuff.

World's longest palindrome
Tuesday, December 28, 2004, 01:49 - Miscellaneous
I came across this page by Ken Seehof, who claims to have a 12 billion words palindrome. A palindrome is a word, or in this case a sentence, that is exactly the same when read backbards as forwards.
On his site he publishes a much shorter version, which still is very long. The sentence appears to be highly repetetive, but it is non-repeating in the mathematical sense. I must admit though that the sentence doesn't make very much sense...

However, when you shorten his sentence even further, you get a palindrome that does appeal to me:
A man, a plan, a cat, a dog, God at a canal -- Panama!

Christmas menu
Friday, December 24, 2004, 22:05 - Personal
It is by now a tradition that my sister, my brother and I cook a full-size multi-course diner for the whole family (seven) on Christmas Day at my parents' house. I think having a good diner together and catching up is a great way to celebrate the holiday.
All shopping has been done by now. Tomorrow a large part of the afternoon is spent on preparation ("Mis en place") so in between courses only the final cooking needs to be done.

Tomorrow the menu will be as follows:
* Aperitif
* Creamy Celery Gorgonzola Soup
* Tomato-Ricotta Timbale
* Pork Filet with Apple and Ginger Stuffing / Mushroom Strudel with Nuts / Stuffed Tomatoes, served with Potato Truffle Gratins, Smoored Leek and Corn Salad with Tomato Vinaigrette
* Steamed Pears Sorbet
* Coffee

Merry Christmas to everyone!

Perfect Man & Woman
Thursday, December 23, 2004, 18:37 - Humor
There was a perfect man who met a perfect woman. After a perfect courtship, they had a perfect wedding. Their life together was, of course, perfect.

One snowy, stormy Christmas Eve, this perfect couple were driving their perfect car along a winding road, when they noticed someone at the side of the roadside in distress. Being the perfect couple, they stopped to help.

There stood Santa Claus with a huge bundle of toys. Not wanting to disappoint any children on the eve of Christmas, the perfect couple loaded Santa and his toys into their vehicle.

Soon they were driving along delivering the toys. Unfortunately, the driving conditions deteriorated and the perfect couple and Santa Claus had an accident.

Only one of them survived the accident. Who was the survivor?

(continue here for the answer)

No software patents in Europe yet!
Wednesday, December 22, 2004, 17:29 - The News
Thanks to a firm position of Poland, the European Union has not yet taken a decision on a software patent directive at their Agriculture and Fisheries council meetings. The Dutch Presidency has been using diplomatic pressure to bully Poland. It tried to push the much debated proposition really hard and tried to get it approved without discussion, against the will of a majority of Dutch Parliament.

Poland has many software developers and they want to have as much work as possible without worrying about patents or paying high licenses. Therefore neither the Polish government nor the Polish industry supports the directive text.

European Parliament earlier also expressed its doubts about the patents. It fears they will endanger the open operating systems like Linux and R&D in the computer branch.

If Architects Had To Work Like Web Designers...
Tuesday, December 21, 2004, 02:58 - Humor
I received a link to this funny story about how it would be if architects had to work like web or software designers. It describes the amount of conflicting and/or ridiculous requirements some customers come up with.

Unfortunately it isn't as far from reality as one would hope....

"You must be thrilled to be working on as an interesting project as this!"
Last Friday a customer told me this exactly. And of course the project isn't the least interesting to me because it is more of the same.

Geolizer patch to webalizer
Sunday, December 19, 2004, 23:18 - Software
I'm using webalizer to analyze my web server access log files, and I noticed that many IP addresses could not be translated into a name automatically, resulting in an "Unresolved/Unknown" percentage of about 50. I would like to have as many hosts grouped in .com, .net and the country codes as possible.

I came across this article on optimizing Apache server performance. They amongst others recommend turning off HostnameLookups completely in Apache for performance reasons and do any hostname lookups only when processing the log files.
I found out that webalizer has its own DNS lookup mechanism and tested that a little. But still about half of the IP addresses could not be resolved.

Then I came across this geolizer patch for webalizer. It uses the GeoIP library to generate faster and more reliable geographic statistics than using the default DNS suffix method.
Now I only have 20% unknown, and that seems to mostly come from hostnames that already have been resolved in the past. From now on I will only be using IP addresses and I have good hopes that the hit rate then will be even better.

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