The Danish excuse list

Thursday 4 September 2014, 12:35

Denmark, being part of Europe, has a great deal of bureaucracy and many rules. However, the Danes are not really rule-followers. That at least is their reputation among people from other Nordic countries and I can see why. This is a list of excuses I've heard from Danish people, mostly government bureaucrats. All are genuine, though some have been paraphrased from their more complicated original forms or to remove personal information. The list will be periodically updated.

A few days in Denmark

Thursday 4 September 2014, 12:32

As I start writing this, it's Thursday aboput 2pm in Copenhagen, and I am in the waiting room at International House Copenhagen, waiting to apply for a Central Persons Register (CPR) number. I have been in Denmark since Monday morning.

Heading for Denmark

Thursday 28 August 2014, 18:59

I don't think I have officially mentioned this here on my Web log yet, but here it is: I am moving to Denmark to work as a postdoc in the Scaleable Similarity Search project at the IT University of Copenhagen. This is a one-year temporary position with a possible renewal for a second year.

As I type this, I am in my apartment in Winnipeg, sitting on top of my modular synthesizer in its Pelican case because that is the closest thing to furniture that hasn't been taken away by either the movers or Goodwill.

The Apollo moon landings were fake

Sunday 20 July 2014, 20:20

The Apollo moon landings were fake.

I don't mean that they did not occur - it was before I was born, but it seems clear that men did at one time walk on the Moon. There are too many independent confirmations of that for it to be in any reasonable doubt. However, the Apollo Moon landings occurred under false pretences. The story told about the factual events, both at the time and now, was and is a dishonest story, carefully constructed to further the goals of the US government and certain other powerful forces.

Don't plagiarize your cover letters!

Monday 10 February 2014, 08:39

The text below pretty much speaks for itself. Bold highlighting and numbered footnotes in [square brackets] are mine; all the rest is as I received it. Some irregularities of spacing and punctuation, visible in the original email, aren't obvious in the HTML. Names of the students are redacted because (after finding several more copies on the Web) I imagine the students are relatively innocent victims of bad advice. Name of the institution not redacted because I hope others who receive such letters and look for them on the Web will be able to easily find this posting.


Friday 13 December 2013, 13:09

TeXとLaTeXで画を書いたらTikZは便利とポピュラーです。 みんなはきれいなグラフィクスを作っています。 たとえば、これがtexample.netから一つのクリスマスツリーです。


しかし、ただのグラフィクスには興味ありません。 今日は1984年からノスタルジックの画を書きましょう。 マック・ペイントを思い出しませんか? そう…


Saturday 7 December 2013, 10:07

今年「TeX & LaTeX Advent Calendar」に入りました。 14日に私の書き込みを書きます。 それ前このサーバにGeSHiと言うプリティプリントソフトを備え付けています。 この書き込みはGeSHiのテスト・ポストです。

Papers from the recent past and near future

Wednesday 21 August 2013, 12:03

I just got back from a trip to multiple conferences in Ontario, and that makes it a good time to update my publications page. Most people interested in my academic work are likely to find out about it from other sources, but I'm going to post some brief and relatively non-technical introductions here as well for my general Web site readers. The official versions of these papers are mostly behind paywalls, but there are also unofficial "preprint" versions available to all.

Removing things from Firefox's location bar NO REALLY

Sunday 21 July 2013, 06:40

The Firefox GUI becomes more annoying with each "upgrade." I don't know if they're taking bribes from Chrome, or if they took advice from the same "professional" UI designer who broke GIMP, or what, but it's really become a problem. For those who haven't given up on Firefox yet, however, and for my own future reference, here's something useful I managed to figure out after a lot of hair-tearing.

You start typing a partial URL into the location bar, and the drop-down list of suggestions appears. But there's a URL on that list that should not be there. Maybe it's something embarassing you don't want other users of your browser to see; maybe it's merely a site other than the one you want to be the match for the few characters you typed, and yet for some reason it keeps coming up as the preferred suggestion.

Kleknev: a coarse-grained profiler for build systems

Monday 11 March 2013, 19:12

When I was preparing the Tsukurimashou 0.7 release, I had to build the entire package several times from scratch, to verify that all the necessary pieces really were included in what I was preparing to ship. When I run the build on my development machine it normally re-uses a lot of previously-built components, only updating the parts I have recently changed. That kind of incremental compilation is one of the main functions of GNU Make. But if I'm shipping a package for others to use, it has to work on their systems which don't have a previous history of successful builds; so I need to verify that it will actually build successfully in such an environment, and verifying that means copying the release-candidate package into a fresh empty directory on my own system and checking that the entire package (including all optional features) can build there.

Tsukurimashou is a big, complicated package. It's roughly 92,000 lines of code, which may not sound like so much. For comparison, the current Linux kernel is about 15,000,000. Tsukurimashou's volume of code is roughly equivalent to an 0.99 version of Linux (not clear which one - I couldn't find numbers I trusted on the Web just now, and am not motivated to go downloading old kernel sources just to count the lines). However, as detailed in one of my earlier articles, Tsukurimashou as a font meta-family is structured much differently from an orthodox software package. Things in the Tsukurimashou build tend to multiply rather than adding; and one practical consequence is that building from these 92,000 lines of code, when all the optional features are enabled, produces as many output and intermediate files and takes as much computation as we might expect of a much larger package. A full build of Tsukurimashou maxes out my quad-core computer for six or eight hours, and fills about 4G of disk space.

So after a few days of building over and over, it occurred to me that I'd really like to know where all the time was going. I had a pretty good understanding of what the build process was doing, because I created it myself; but I had no quantitative data on the relative resource consumption of the different components, I had no basis to make even plausible guesses about that, and quantitative data would be really useful. In software development we often study this sort of thing on the tiny scale, nanoseconds to milliseconds, using profiling tools that measure the time consumption of different parts of a program. What I really wanted for my build system was a coarse-grained profiler: something that could analyse the eight-hour run of the full build and give me stats at the level of processes and Makefile recipes.

I couldn't find such a tool ready-made, so I built one.