First time in the US

Because bulleted lists rock:

  • The Hilton is not for me. I’m struggling with the luxury nature of most things. For instance, this morning I wanted to have breakfast. Which of the four eating places inside the hotel should I use? Breakfast is not included in the night’s stay, so how does paying for that work? Is it a buffet or do I just get stuff from the waiters? It’s all solvable, and fortunately everyone there is paid to help even though I’m ignorant, but it’s annoying at times.
  • “Public transport” is not part of the standard Southern California vocabulary. Getting around without a car and without spending a ridiculous amount of money on cabs is hard.
  • “How are you, sir?” is the standard substitute for “How may I help you?”. This is confusing.
  • Obesity is a real problem. After having breakfast, the ‘why’ for that is readily apparent as the continental breakfast I took was considered “a base” by the waiter, who told me at least 2 or 3 times I could get more stuff if I wanted to. I did not finish this “base” alone, though that admittedly might have something to do with my jet-lagginess and generally confused stomach.
  • Chinese restaurants in the Netherlands should start being real Chinese restaurants, instead of serving all this stuff we call “Chinese” which is actually Indonesian/Malay (Babi Pangang, Nasi Goreng, Bami, etc.)
  • Some stereotypes are not stereotypes, they’re simply true.

That will do for now. I’m off to see the Queen Mary.

One more thing – it amazes me, as it has for some time now, that as one travels to different places across the globe, every place has its own “colour scheme”. The easiest examples close to my home are the fact that brick houses make up most of the (nothern/middle) Netherlands, and once you cross the border to Belgium and France, the omnipresent red brickwork is replaced with grey/white plasterwork, the colours and fonts used on roadsigns change, the wildlife/trees are different… For some reason this and the different plants/nature/cars around mean the atmosphere changes. Perhaps this is what other people think “feeling on holiday” is all about, I’m not sure. I just find myself thinking, at times “gosh, this place is ugly” and then remembering I should really be thinking “gosh, this place is different“.

Status Update: Mozilla

I haven’t really written anything of late, so let’s fix that. Bullet points in topic-centered posts. Here we go:

  • I will be attending FOSDEM, in Brussels, Belgium, arriving friday (february 23rd), leaving sunday (25th). I will be staying at the NH Stephanie.
  • Thanks the Mozilla Foundation‘s sponsoring, I will also be attending the CSUN Conference, in Los Angeles, CA. I will be staying at one of the conference hotels (room’s booked) from Saturday (march 17th) to Saturday (24th). If you’re in the area and want me to say hi, send mail. (I’ll be arriving late and I’ll probably knackered from flying for 17 hours or so, so don’t count on me being approachable before sunday/monday at least)
  • I have finally released some of my extension stuff which in some cases I’ve been sitting on for something like a year now. I thought I’d better start putting some of it online lest I become another Hurd. For now, these are:
    • Chrome List, which allows you to browse chrome:// urls as if they were a normal file tree. This is also up on the Mozilla Addons site.
    • Show Menubar, which adds a contextmenu item for windows without a menubar to show the menubar anyway. This is handy-dandy if you need to change character sets, print, or if it’s the only Firefox window you still have open. I haven’t submitted this one to the Mozilla Addons site yet because I only wrote it the day before yesterday and AMO (as it’s known to the insiders) will be updated soon.
  • I should probably put my Graphing Calculator extension online as well, but I think there are alternatives for that by now, and it might not be worth putting there anyway (it can also be slow, and I’ve always been too lazy to create a preference panel for anything I write, meaning it lacks GUI for some of its options).
  • I wrote my first XPCOM interface, and wrote Windows and GTK2 implementations for it.
  • I wrote a small ChatZilla tutorial on SSH Tunneling. This is the first tutorial I’ve written, and it still needs pretty screenshots. Other than that I’m happy about it.
  • There’s some ChatZilla things I desperately need to finish, but have been too busy/lazy to. I will try to get to them this week (but I’m not telling you what I mean by ‘them’, so don’t get too hopeful just yet). There’s also, hopefully, another announcement in that respect due ‘soon’, but I’m going to keep my mouth shut on that for now.

I think that’s about it. If anyone/anything feels left out, poke me. I won’t bite.

Wanneer zien we wat we zien?

Ik ben vandaag begonnen met het vak “Computer Vision”. Zoals de naam doet vermoeden gaat het over of/hoe we de computer zouden kunnen laten “zien”. Computers zien een plaatje normaal gesproken als een enorme collectie pixels (in plaats van het object of de objecten wat het plaatje “betekent” of waar het een afbeelding “van” is). Om daar verandering in te brengen is best lastig. Een simpel voorbeeld:

Een cilinder op een gevlakt oppervlak

Hierboven zie je een cilinder op een gevlakt oppervlak. Dat ziet iedereen meteen vanwege de schaduwen, het perspectief van de vlakjes, enzovoorts. Stel, we willen de computer in ieder geval onderscheid laten maken tussen de lichte en donkere vlakjes. Dat is niet zo moeilijk, want al die pixels hebben gewoon een hoge of lage numerieke waarde voor de computer, afhankelijk van of ze licht of donker zijn. Dat valt best tegen: klik maar eens op het plaatje. Die streep die je ziet heeft de kleur (‘donkerte’) van het lichte vlak in de schaduw van de cilinder, en ook de kleur van het donkere vlak bovenaan! Klik nog maar eens als je niet gelooft dat het hetzelfde plaatje is. 🙂

Waarom zien onze ogen dat verschil wel zo duidelijk? Nu, we zijn gewend aan het compenseren van schaduwen, diepte en andere lichtverschillen. Dit is ook de oorzaak van allerlei andere ‘foutjes’ die mensen maken als ze naar bepaalde ‘getructe’ plaatjes kijken.