More images from NASA’s Earth Observatory

by Ulf, October 20th, 2009

Soufriere Hills Volcano, Montserrat

The original is here.

Marion Island, South Africa

The original is here.

Manam volcano in Papua New Guinea

by Ulf, July 14th, 2009

I can’t resist these pictures from NASA’s Earth Observatory. The original is here.

Saint Helena Island

by Ulf, June 16th, 2009

Another beautiful shot from NASA’s Earth Observatory. The original is here.

Ants and the City

by Map, February 14th, 2009

In San Francisco this winter was unusually cold. I was told by Them Who Came Long Before Me that they don’t remember a winter quite as cold. I tried to ignore this abnormality of nature for as long as I could, but finally had to succumb to ugly reality and to break my habit of wearing the same T-shirt all year long.

Local population of ants had to acknowledge reality too. My friend, a biologist, said that her apartment was invaded by a colony of these little hard-working insects, apparently in search of warmth and humanity. My friend is rather old, so I was concerned about her and asked if she has an anti-ant spray and whether I should get her one. With gentle smile she said, “I don’t want to drive them away,” and suddenly I felt like a genocide perpetrator who has, in an act of inexplicable kindness, been reasoned with. Every time I visit her, I shake my head in disbelief and make a mark in my imaginary notebook,  “Yup. She is still talking to me.” :-)

Tracking time of access with Google Analytics

by Ulf, January 21st, 2009

A friend recently asked me if it was possible to use Google Analytics (GA) to report on the distribution of the hour of the day at which visitors drop by his web site. Nothing fine-grained, just a number from 0 to 23 along with the number of visits during that hour. Having recently read a blog post on how to use GA to detect the browser’s installed JRE version with some custom JavaScript, I figured this shouldn’t be too hard.

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Shopping as Microsoft would like you to

by Ulf, January 16th, 2009

Microsoft recently announced an Apple Store knockoff – the Retail Experience Center. It’s located on the Microsoft campus in Redmond, and isn’t open to the public, but it’s supposed to show how to market and sell Microsoft products (and presumably PC-related products from other manufacturers). Revealing is this picture that shows how much stuff they would like you to buy: shopping carts full of it. That’s the kind of consumer spending that should help the economy out of its slump.

Estonian is not a Baltic language

by Ulf, December 17th, 2008

Somehow -and with Wikipedia you never know how, really- I was looking at language families and this wonderful image of their distribution across the Earth. Noticing the green color for Estonia I looked it up and -lo!- it’s a Uralic language like Finnish and Hungarian, not Baltic like its location might suggest. You learn something new every day… To prove that you know your way around languages, surf over to and take the test – what are the most spoken languages?

Fall Colors the Caucasus Mountains

by Ulf, November 12th, 2008

The Caucasus Mountains

So beautiful, yet so violent. The full-size image is available at the NASA Earth Observatory.

Richard Clarke: Against All Enemies

by Ulf, November 9th, 2008

Richard Clarke: Against All EnemiesThis insider’s account of the USA‘s fight against terrorism from the Reagan administration until after 9/11 makes for gripping reading. Although Clarke apparently got a number of facts wrong, the big picture seems to be portrayed correctly. Some parts are heavily disputed, though, like the connection of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing to Iraq, and whether the Clinton and Bush Jr. administration dealt adequately with al Qaeda (search online for Clarke/Mylroie to find details). But then, Clarke paints a positive image of Clinton’s actions, and a negative one of Bush Jr.’s actions, while Mylroie sees it just the other way around -and has her own books to sell- so some disagreement is to be expected.

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Making a mockery of justice

by Ulf, November 3rd, 2008

Quote from a news story:

His Pentagon-appointed lawyer stayed silent during the trial, refusing to even answer questions from the judge.

Read it at Gitmo jury: Life sentence for bin Laden videomaker and weep.