Archive for September, 2006

Review: An Inconvenient Truth movie

Thursday, September 21st, 2006

An Inconvenient Truth movie posterYesterday I went to see the documentary “An Inconvenient Truth”, a documentary that follows former vice-president Al Gore’s struggle to spread global awareness of the crisis facing humanity as a result of global warming.

As if I didn’t know it already, global warming is indeed a fact, and it will have big consequences. The opposition to Al Gore and the environmental scientists, defined by people like Bjørn Lomborg, need to stop doing the oil industry’s dirty laundry, humanity faces other serious problems, but this is the one that will impact all of us – the Earth might be rendered uninhabitable, the Planet Venus has an atmosphere filled with greenhouse gasses, could this be the destiny of Earth?

The facts are presented: Global temperature and CO2 levels in the atmosphere is strongly correlated, higher CO2 levels equal higher temperature. From core samples from the Arctic and the Antarctic we know that CO2 levels have never been above 300ppm over a period of 650.000 years, right now it’s above that, and the levels are skyrocketing.

I hope that this movie will be an eye opener, and the practical advise on how to take action on the web-site (climatecrisis.net) is very useful.

The movie ends on a positive note, the fact that we’ve already managed to control a global environmental crisis, the hole in the ozone-layer, leaves room for optimism.

Al Gore used to be the Next President of the USA, I’m actually happy that he lost the election, because he’s been on the grind spreading awareness of this, the most important, challenge facing humanity.

I have some issues with the movie. I could have been without the segment on the lost election, and I really doubt that you directly can see the passing of “the clean air act” in the ice-core samples. Al Gore clearly loves his Mac – but isn’t he a member of Apple’s board?

Review: Rene Hjerter (Pure Hearts) movie

Wednesday, September 20th, 2006

I went to see the new Danish movie “Rene Hjerter” Sunday, and it’s extremely rare that I go see Danish movies, I think that the new Danish movies are rather overrated, but this time two factors came into play.

First it stars Anders “Anden” Matthesen, second it’s partly set in a closed wing of a, clinical, psychiatric ward.

“Anden” is the Danish answer to Jim Carrey – this man can do basically whatever in creative arts he want’s to do, and do BETTER than get a way with it, and “Rene Hjerter” is no exception.

As an actor “Anden” does a pretty good job, and you can’t really recognise anything from any of his previous aliases, his character Kriss seems to have been invented for this. He also looks very different, and he seems to be credible cast as a clinical psychology patient.

I was a bit disappointed about the the scenes that were set in the psychiatric ward, what no smokers? Then again I’ve never seen the inside of a clinical ward, so what do I know. The passive TV looking is right on, as are the doctors and the nurses, and the old man that knows details about movies and other nerdy subjects.

The format of the movie is quite fresh, the title comes from an old black and white movie from the 30ies staring a female actor that the main character Kriss is obsessing on. There are constantly parallels drawn between the reality that Kriss is living in and the fictive world of the movie, so that the things that happen in the real world fits into the fictive. This is very credible, being in a closed psychiatric ward can make you feel like you’re in a a twilight zone.

All in all it’s a good movie, but I think I’d prefer to see the full black and white movie “Rene Hjerter” instead…

Photos from the Copenhagen Denmark SFD Event, 2006

Monday, September 18th, 2006

Software Freedom Day 2006 - Balloons at Gammel Torv in Copenhagen DenmarkCopenhagen Denmark Gallery – Software Freedom Day 2006 – Software Freedom Day Wiki

A gallery page with photos from the Software Freedom Day 2006 at Gammel Torv (The Old Square) in Copenhagen Denmark has been created (by yours truly).

Dansk punk år for år…foreløbig til ’83 –

Sunday, September 17th, 2006

Dansk punk år for år…foreløbig til ’83Dansk punk år for år…foreløbig til ’83 –

This is a site that tries to collect covers from all Danish punk related album, single and musicasettes releases.

Good job, and who has the coolest covers?

Software Freedom Day 2006: The beer WAS free

Sunday, September 17th, 2006

Software Freedom Day 2006 - Gammel Torv In CopenhagenSaturday I was on the street to promote the use of open and free software at an event in Copenhagen Denmark. The event was part of the Software Freedom Day 2006.

We were standing on the main pedestrian street at Gammel Torv (The Old Square), and yes once again my PowerBook was flashed, this time running Ubuntu – really strange that no one else brought a laptop – and for most it was a first seeing Ubuntu on a Mac, and it runs really really well.

We were handing out Ubuntu CDs and balloons. Activism is really great, and I’m getting better and better at it.

We’re slowly spreading the word about the alternatives to commercial software, but will anybody actually install Ubuntu and switch? Probably not, but I think that I managed to inform at least a few people about the concept of free and open. You’re not a criminal if you copy and distribute open and free software. Unlike the huge companies from the US, we actually WANT you to copy it.

Some people asked why we were doing it. I think that there are many possible answers, but for me information want’s to be free, and the Internet is the greatest invention since the printing press, access to the Internet should be free, and handing out free software that make that possible could help achieving that. Lowering the bar on Internet access could help democratising the Internet.

I tried to explain the concept of “the beer isn’t free” to a girl, by saying that she could buy the developers a pizza, she offered to buy me one, I said that I didn’t really look on myself as a representative for the movement, she should rather go to the donations page on OpenOffice.org, but you can’t really get a pizza through their mail slot can you?

The greatest result from this event, on the personal level, was that I meet some people that share the same passions that I do, and we co-created this event – I also discovered that I’m probably more of a politician than a geek.

I’d like to change a few things…Linux is important, but probably too complicated, OpenOffice, Firefox, Gimp and Gaim are much more important projects for the end user, since they don’t have to switch their entire platform. The print on the Ubuntu CD actually reads something like this: “The default installation will destroy the data on your computer”. OUCH! I’d also like us to have install instructions in Danish, and I should have brought my translation of Manu Cornet’s website PC-hijacking.

But the beer was actually free: A guy that passed by shared his, just like in the old punk days. To top it, Gammel Torv was the main hang-out of the Copenhagen punks in the early 80’ies.

Jeg brænder ikke for Dannebrog – Jeg brænder for at bygge bro! jeg er verdensborger

Saturday, September 16th, 2006

Bridge From Kalvebod Brygge To Islands Brygge In CopenhagenYesterday was a very special day in Copenhagen. A new bridge crossing the harbour between Kalvebod Brygge and Islands Brygge was opened, and this bridge is exclusively for pedestrians and bikes.

I have no idea how long time it has been since the last bridge crossing the harbour, so close to the city centre, was opened, but it was way too long time ago.
Per Vers Brænder Ikke For Dannebrog - Men For At Bygge Bro

There are way too few bridges across the Copenhagen harbour, so having a new one is great. After the bridge was opened the rapper Per Vers took stage to give, amongst others, his interpretation of Benny Andersen’s “Verdensborger” (World citizen), the title of this post is a quote from the lyrics, it’s difficult to translate, but Dannebrog is the name of the Danish national flag, brog rhymes with “bro” which means bridge, so the literal translation is: “I’m not passionate (buring for) about Dannebrog (the Danish flag) – I’m passionate about building bridges (e.g. bridging gaps). I’m a citizen of the world (verdensborger)”. Oh well! Lost in translation! I hope it made any sense.

Anyway a great performance by Per Vers, who’s scoring a small hit with his song “Black Power”, which is a great track.

I couldn’t have put it any better! We need more mental, racial and physical bridges.

Julian Beever in Copenhagen – C’est formidable!

Saturday, September 16th, 2006

Julian Beever At Alextorv In Copenhagen DenmarkRegular readers might remember that I recently made a post regarding the remarkable artist Julian Beever, who does 3-D chalk renderings on the pavement of cities all over the world, drawings that plays tricks on the eye.

This week Julian Beever was in Copenhagen, and he made a beautiful work at Axeltorv, as shown in the picture. He obviously hides something in his pictures, this time it should be a man that looks up at you. I think I spotted him, can you?

Dansk Flygtningehjælp (The Danish Refugee Council) – Frivilligbladet (The Volunteer Post) – Interview with yours truly

Friday, September 15th, 2006

Dansk Flygtningehjælp - FrivilligbladetDansk Flygtningehjælp (The Danish Refugee Council) – Frivilligbladet (The Volunteer Post)

Dansk Flygtningehjælp (The Danish Refugee Council), has just published the latest issue of Frivilligbladet (The Volunteer Post). This time they have a piece on our trip to Ringkøbing in the western part of Denmark, and I’m very proud to be featured in it.

Besides the fact that the article basically is an interview with yours truly, it’s also accompanied by pictures taken by me. I’m really, really proud and humbled by this.

Since the article is in Danish, I’m hereby publishing an English language translation.

FROM MJØLNERPARKEN TO WESTERN JUTLAND
Frivilligbladet Volume 3, 2006, written by Bente Bækgaard

It’s a long distance from Mjølnerparken in Copenhagen to Western Jutland (the main peninsula of Denmark). Despite that fact a group of volunteers from Mjølnerparken had success going on a trip with 21 children to Hee near Ringkøbing. The trip became a success, in part because it was planned in close co-operation with the volunteer group in Ringkøbing as well as local partners.

Sea, sun and blue skies. 42 brown legs from Mjølnerparken are streaking across the sandy dunes and into the roaring North Sea. In the background is a group of volunteers. They’re also from Mjølnerparken. They’re the organisers of the vacation trip to Western Jutland, aided by two consultants, the volunteers from Ringkøbing and local partners from Mjølnerparken.

Co-operation

“The idea behind the trip surfaced after the yearly assembly in April, where our volunteer consultant had talked to the volunteers in Ringkøbing about the possibility of arranging a vacation trip. We felt that that was a great idea, that we wanted to help realising.” says Kim Bach, who has acted as the co-ordinator of the trip.

Shortly after the yearly assembly of the volunteers in April, he and seven other volunteers from the group in Mjølnerparken contacted the group in Ringkøbing. And the planning of the vacation trip had started.

Aid from the group in Ringkøbing

The alliance with the group of volunteers from Ringkøbing turned out to be a huge asset for the volunteers from Mjølnerparken. The volunteers didn’t have much previous knowledge of the possibilities in the western part of Jutland, so at that point the local partner came to the rescue: “It was a great help having some locals to co-operate with. They have much more knowledge of the area than we do, and besides that, they also know our target group. This means that they quickly can point us in a direction that is interesting for us”, says Kim Bach.

The volunteers from Ringkøbing helped us locate a place to stay, and to find activities for the children. To top this, the volunteers from western Jutland arranged that the children from Mjølnerparken, got access to the control tower in the harbour in Hvide Sande, and they saw how the sluice that give boats access to the harbour is controlled. The local contacts seems to be able to open sluice gates as well.

Klub 36

One thing that the volunteers were aware of, after deciding to go through with the project: it will become a challenge to get the children to sign up for the trip.

In order to avoid the classical horror of volunteer work: that no one shows up, the volunteers chose to co-operate with Klub 36, a local club in Mjølnerparken: “We chose to work with Klub 36, because they have a strong network in Mjølnerparken and a good contact with the parents of the children, there’s no doubt that the many sign-ups also can be attributed to the fact that two workers from Klub 36 took part in the trip, and that the invitations were circulated in their network”, says Kim Bach. He adds that the group of volunteers also leveraged another offer from the group, the volunteers that offer private tutoring in the private homes of the children, “hjemmelektiehjælpen”. “The benefit of our private tutoring offer is that the volunteers have a close relationship with the parents of the children, and the parents are much more inclined to permit their children to take part, if they know the people behind”, Kim Bach adds.

The strategy of the volunteers paid off. The sign-ups poured in, and the volunteers had to create a waiting-list. The only drawback of the strategy was, according to Kim Bach, that the group of children weren’t as mixed as we originally had envisioned: “We would have like to have more children of Danish ethnicity to take part in the trip, but we didn’t succeed,” Kim Bach says and adds, that the volunteers next year will do more to gather a more ethnically mixed group.

Volunteer work in rural areas

It turned out that the trip to Western Jutland did more than open the eyes of the children. The volunteers that took part in the trip, also discovered how the volunteers in rural areas work: “Through the co-operation with the group of volunteers in Ringkøbing, we discovered the great differences between volunteer integration work in different parts of Denmark. It’s my impression that the volunteers in Ringkøbing spends a lot of time doing volunteer work. “Our” volunteers don’t have that much time. On top of that the volunteers in rural areas has a much closer co-operation with the local authorities. While we were in the Western Jutland, a number of Burmese refugees arrived, to be settled in Ringkøbing. It was interesting to hear, how the authorities involve the volunteers in that task. “We don’t do things like that at all” says Kim Bach.

FrontPage – Software Freedom Day Wiki

Friday, September 15th, 2006

Software Freedom Day 2006
FrontPage – Software Freedom Day Wiki

Saturday September 16th is Software Freedom Day (SFD), and I’m one of the volunteers.

So what’s SFD. Here’s a quote from the Software Freedom Day web-site:

Software Freedom Day is a global, grassroots effort to educate the public about the virtues and availability of Free and Open Source Software. Local teams from all over the world are organising events on 16 September 2006.

As part of the event we’ll be giving away Ubuntu CDs.

You’ll find us at Gammel Torv (The Old Square) in the centre of Copenhagen on Saturday the 16th of September from 11am to 1pm.

Apple Consumer Corporation – now commenting on unreleased products?

Thursday, September 14th, 2006

It's showtime - Apple special event webcast 12 september 2006In keeping with tradition, I’m commenting on new Apple product announcements, and since Steve Jobs did a presentation yesterday, my post is overdue.

We’ve come to expect consumer product announcements from Apple in the fall, and in plenty time for the holiday season. This year was no exception.

So what did we get this time?

iPod shuffle - 2nd generationMinor updates to the iPod product line, and a brand new iPod shuffle, that looks really really cool, and at $79 it’s great value, and it’s now truly wearable, and sports an integrated clip. I really, really want one. I would have liked wireless (Bluetooth) or an integrated USB, eliminating the need to carry a cable, but that would have hurt estetics.

The iPod nano was also updated (or re-mastered as Apple puts it so brillantly), now looking much like the Mini. Aluminium is back in fashion with Apple, and I like it, the green nano is tempting (surprise I’m a sucker for green), now if it only came in a 8 gig version.

iTunes was given a make-over with version 7. At first I didn’t find the new look too attractive, but I guess that this a preview of what Leopard will look like, and it is actually quite attractive – it grows on me. The inclusion of “cover flow” is great, but I expect that Apple will be getting a lot of flak over the way they implemented the download of cover art, by requiring that you have an active iTunes account.

I predict that Apple will remove the requirement to register with iTunes for the cover download feature to work, quite soon, but I’m sure that Apple has increased their iTunes user base by some percentage points before then. iTunes is a Trojan, Apple knows it, and they will keep trying to leverage it, like Steve Jobs said at a presentation “we now have x millions active accounts in iTunes – and they come with credit cards!”.

The big content announcement was that you now can buy movies on iTunes, so far only in the US store, the rest of the world might follow in 2007. Apple has also increased the quality of the video you can purchase by a factor 4 to VGA quality, approaching DVD quality.

Apple is also selling games for the iPod 5th Gen, this hints that Apple is opening the iPod platform for 3rd party development, this is a very welcome development.

Apple 'iTV'The big hardware news was, breaking with the tradition of not commenting on unreleased products, the announcement of a digital set-top box code-named the iTV. The iTV is a “real” digital set-top box, it looks like it’s a thin iTunes/FrontRow streaming client, think of it as “AirVideo” or “AirPort Express/Video”. Apple seems to be skipping analogue all together for their entertainment centre strategy, this makes good sense, and was somewhat what I expected, but it’s still somewhat visionary and definitely an example of different thinking, and I applaud the boldness of Apple here. I’m looking forward to more details on this cool new product.

The reason information about the iTV has been disclosed at the late prototype stage, could be in order to deter people from investing in Windows Media Centre solutions, that supports old style broadcast. No other company in the industry has the infrastructure, and deals with content providers in-place. It can only be a hit, but Apple should consider a much lower price point than $299, this is the hardware that could take iTunes to the next level, yet another Trojan from Apple.

iTV is the way TV should be, bringing you in control, but I think that the Mac mini is more for me. I like the concept of a general computer at the centre of my digital media, and the Mac mini is already up to the task. Again I’m looking forward to hearing more details. Will the iTV for instance be a gaming platform? The availability of games on iTunes hints at that. Then again: it looks as if Apple is going to use the same old dogmatic remote from the newest Macs, and that they will not be introducing a game navigation feature, like a click wheel.

The new products, and a Steve Jobs looking a little more enthusiastic than during the WWDC Keynote, made me wonder if Apple should change it’s name to Apple Consumer Corporation. Apple: I need a sub-note book with record breaking long battery life, PLEASE remain a Computer company.