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Sebastian Kirsch: Blog » 2005 » November

Sebastian Kirsch: Blog

Monday, 28 November 2005

J. K. Rowling: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire/Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Filed under: — Sebastian Kirsch @ 15:49

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[cover][cover]Harry Potter books are like popcorn. You start with a page or two, and before you know it, you have read two books and 1500 pages. And you have no recollection at all as to what it all was about. It was exactly the same with Harry Potter 2&3, which I read some 5 years ago – within two days.

The girth of the Harry Potter books has since increased, the content has stayed the same. Two notable exceptions: Harry Potter is discovering the opposite sex – but this was deemed unimportant enough to warrant only a few furtive glances in HP4, and a single, prematurely terminated date in HP5. I guess that if more space had been devoted to this topic, it might have gotten in the way of some very important heroing or worldsaving or darklorddefeating. The second exception is that Ginny Weasly is maturing into a real character – she even speaks and has her own opinions! She is a valuable addition to the cast, and in difference to Harry, she doesn’t have any problems with the opposite sex: By the end of HP5, she already has her second boyfriend.

Saturday, 26 November 2005

Upgrade to iTunes 6

Filed under: — Sebastian Kirsch @ 20:49

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I’m slowly catching up on my upgrade backlog now that I have some more free time (might even get around to upgrading my desktop pc to Debian sarge some of these days), and today I installed iTunes 6.0.1. Well, I tried to anyway.

After installing it via Software Update, about one fourth of my music library were suddenly missing. All the files were in their respective directories, they just didn’t turn up in iTunes. (NB: Those were all files that I ripped from CD, not purchased via iTMS.)

On top of that, Software Update somehow hadn’t registered that the new iTunes was already installed and still offered it to me for upgrade. So I installed it again, this time from the downloadable disk image. This time, Software Update registered the upgrade, but I had to reboot during the installation. I have to reboot to install a new iTunes version? Why is that? It’s just a music player!

But my songs were still missing, and nothing I found on the web described this problem.

In the end, I dragged the “iTunes Music” folder to the “Library” in iTunes. This caused iTunes to re-import the songs, but of course, all the ratings etc. that are stored in iTunes, not in the MP3 file itself, were lost.

And people wonder why I’m reluctant to upgrade.

Gary William Flake: The Computational Beauty of Nature

Filed under: — Sebastian Kirsch @ 16:36

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[cover]This is one of those rare, wonderful science books. It covers lots of fascinating and advanced subjects. It treats them in such a way that an amateur can understand and appreciate them, while giving more advanced readers enough material to further explore the subjects. The descriptions do not gloss over details. And in addition, there exist example implementations of all the concepts presented in the book, allowing the reader to play with the topics.

Flake tackles a number of topics which count among the most interesting, but also the least accessible in computer science today. Among others, he talks about Gödel’s incompleteness theorems and incomputability, fractals, chaotic systems, cellular automata, self-organizing systems, neural networks, and adaptation. All material is presented with precise formulas and derivations, as well as examples and motivational sections. Every chapter is accompanied by a “Postscript” which expands the topic of the preceding chapter.

I’d already known the author from his work on self-organization of the web and detection of communities on the web. After reading this book, I must say that I have the utmost respect for him, not only for his technical abilities, but also for his writing skills. In all the technical discussions, he never loses his voice; his personality always shines through the subjects he discusses. He manages to excite and interest his readers, because of his own passion for the subjects. It’s a marvelous book.

This book would have been the perfect companion to the lecture on artifial life I took a couple of years ago. It contains a description of most of the topics we covered, and the software would have given a hands-on experience of the topics, without having to re-implement everything.

For further information about the book and its author, visit the book’s homepage, and the author’s homepage.

Ona related note, the book’s title reminds me of “The Algorithmic Beauty of Plants", a seminal book in artificial life by Aristid Lindenmayer and Przemyslav Prusinkiewicz. I’ve been coveting this book for years, and today I finally found it for an acceptable price on abebooks. So when it arrives, you will get a review of this classic book.

Tuesday, 22 November 2005


Filed under: — Sebastian Kirsch @ 20:03

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Nachdem ich meine Arbeit erfolgreich abgegeben habe, steht für mich jetzt auch ein Vortrag im Diplomandenseminar an. Diesen werden ich halten unter dem Titel

“Social Information Retrieval”
am Freitag, 25.11.2005, 15:00-17:00 Uhr c.t.
im Hörsaal A207,
AVZ-III, Römerstrasse 164,
53117 Bonn

Alle Interessierten sind herzlich eingeladen.

Für Ortsunkundige: Mit dem Bus (551, 628, 638) bis Haltestelle “Pädagogische Fakultät", zum Haupteingang rein, rechts die Treppen hoch in den zweiten Stock, dann den Schildern folgen.

Nachtrag: Die Folien zum Vortrag sind jetzt auch online.

Monday, 21 November 2005

Quiche Lorraine et Tarte aux Pommes

Filed under: — Sebastian Kirsch @ 15:08

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Ich weile momentan in der wunderschönen Schweiz. Und wer schon mal längere Zeit in der Schweiz verbracht hat, der weiss, dass es hier nicht nur Berge, Käse und Alphörner gibt, sondern auch hervorragende Supermärkte. (In denen man meistens ungefähr das Doppelte bezahlt im Vergleich zu Deutschland … aber das ist eine andere Geschichte.) Jedes kleine Dorf hat eine Migros, die sich mit hochklassigen deutschen Supermärkten durchaus messen kann – gerade im Bereich Obst und Gemüse, Fleischprodukte und Convenience-Food.

Und darum geht’s in diesem Beitrag: Convenience-Food, insbesondere frischer Teig. Bei der Auswahl – Pizzateig, Kuchenteig, Blätterteig, Mürbeteig, alles fertig ausgerollt – fällt die Entscheidung leicht, öfters mal was zu backen.

Quiche Lorraine

Die Quiche habe ich mit dem fertigen Kuchenteig gemacht:

Der ausgerollte Kuchenteig kommt aufs Backbleck und wird mit geriebenem Käse bestreut (am Besten schmeckt Gruyère – in Deutschland teuer, in der Schweiz der Standardkäse, so wie bei uns Gouda.) Darauf kommen Speckwürfel, die man vorher in der Pfanne (bei niedriger Hitze!) langsam ausgelassen hat. Das ganze wird übergossen mit einer Mischung aus 2 Eiern und einem Becher Sahne, gewürzt mit Muskatnuss und Pfeffer (Salz ist meistens nicht nötig, weil Speck und Käse genug Salz mitbringen.)

Das alles kommt dann fuer ca. 30 Minuten bei 180 Grad Umluft in den Backofen.

Tarte aux Pommes

Für den Apfelkuchen habe ich den süßen Mürbeteig genommen. Das folgende ist ein ganz einfaches Rezept, das ich von Freunden aus Frankreich kenne:

Der Teig kommt aufs Backblech. Äpfel werden in dünne Schnitze (Scheiben) geschnitten, und mit ihnen wird das Backblech rundherum ausgelegt. (Am Besten eignen sich hier saftige Apfelsorten wie Boskop.) Die Äpfel werden leicht mit einer Zucker-Zimt-Mischung bestreut. Das ganze kommt dann 25 Minuten bei 180 Grad Umluft in den Ofen.

In der Zwischenzeit streicht man zwei bis drei Esslöffel Aprikosenmarmelade durch ein Sieb und erhitzt sie vorsichtig in einem kleinen Topf, bis die Marmelade flüssig wird. Wenn der Kuchen aus dem Ofen kommt, bestreicht man ihn dünn mit der Marmelade und lässt ihn abkühlen. (Der Konditor nennt diesen Vorgang auch “aprikotieren".)

Heraus kommt ein dünner Kuchen, der beispielsweise sehr gut als leichter Nachtisch dienen kann.

Weil die Äpfel nicht viel Feuchtigkeit verlieren, ist es bei diesem Kuchen nicht nötig, den Mürbeteig vorher zu blindbacken. Bei Belägen mit mehr Feuchtigkeit müsste man den Mürbeteig vor dem Belegen mit einen Stück Backpapier abdecken, dieses mit getrockneten Erbsen oder Bohnen beschweren und 10 Minuten vorbacken ("blindbacken"). Dann kann man beispielsweise noch eine Schicht Apfelkompott unter die Äpfel legen, oder den Kuchen mit einer Eiercreme verfeinern.

Tuesday, 08 November 2005

It is done!

Filed under: — Sebastian Kirsch @ 16:41

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Finally, it is done. I submitted my diploma thesis last thursday. I will publish it on this site as soon as I receive my advisor’s opinion.

Me and my advisor also wrote a paper on the subject of my thesis, which we submitted to ECIR 2006. I hope it will be accepted for publication – I’d like to go to London for the conference.

Now all that is left for me is take an exam about my secondary subject (computational linguistics), and I will receive my diploma.

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