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December 1, 2002

World AIDS Day

HIV total tops 40 million
Photojournalism piece on AIDS in Africa
Bush administration blocks sex education
AIDS figures - World at a glance

December 2, 2002

In a Sunburned Country

I'm currently reading 'In a Sunburned Country' by Bill Bryson, in which he tells of his travels in Australia. I've got it as an ebook on my Palm and I've been reading it on and off for the last 18 months or so, because first of all I'm a slow reader, and secondly it's such a good book that it would be a waste to read it quickly. So, instead I like to drag it out. By the time I finally get to the end of it, I'll have forgotten what happened at the beginning, and that way I can start all over again. He makes Australia sound so good that for the first time that I can remember I want to go there. In fact, it even sounds likeable. Here's an excerpt in which he describes how Australians are so fond of talking about their near-death experiences with animals.

They spend half of any conversation insisting that the country's dangers are vastly overrated and that there's nothing to worry about, and the other half telling you how six months ago their Uncle Bob was driving to Mudgee when a tiger snake slid out from under the dashboard and bit him on the groin, but that it's okay now because he's off the life support machine and they've discovered he can communicate with eye blinks.

December 3, 2002

Moving Servers

bronek.org may be down at some point over the next few days as I'm moving it to new servers with more capacity and features.

In the meantime I've set up a chat client that I'm testing on the site. It allows open conversations with everyone connected and the ability to send private messages to any user. Type something on it or email me to arrange a chat sometime (requires flash).

Short FAQ below

Q.So why did I put a chat client into the site when anyone can download ICQ or Yahoo?
A. For when using other computers that don't have chat software installed
For computers behind firewalls that block a lot of chat clients
For multi-user chat or with people who don't have a chat client installed

Q. No window popping up when you click on 'chat'?
A. Are pop-ups or java disabled on your browser? Try this link instead:
chat client

Q. Chat client not running?
A. Do you have Flash installed?

Any feedback on these issues or others would be appreciated.

December 4, 2002

Mail and Lights

play_pong.gif
As my mail server is being moved at the moment, any email sent to me may not arrive. I'll post here once it's active again, hopefully in a day or so.

I've been looking at these cool displays of interactive computer controlled lighting that were installed in tower blocks in Berlin and Paris recently for art festivals. Dialling in to them with a mobile phone lets you take control of the display or play Tetris or Pong, using the building as a huge screen. [quicktime video 3.2Mb]

Talking about tall buildings, this article raises some interesting questions regarding September 11, and references this BBC report that the US was already planning an invasion, as well as this story about the need for an oil pipeline across Afghanistan.

December 5, 2002

New Home

Looks like my email is back up and running, and bronek.org is in it's new home.

December 6, 2002

Bunny Girls

I've really no idea what it was all about but I passed this bunch of Tuborg bunny girls in Copenhagen today on my way to the station... and missed my train home. They were all jumping up and down wearing very little in the freezing cold next to a couple of Tuborg limousines. I guess they were probably all pissed. Here's a Tuborg advert called 'Can Roulette' from Danish television.

December 7, 2002

Not Funny

Nina's sense of humour seems to be getting increasingly sick. She just told me that she had a present for me, went into her bag to get it, then screamed and threw a rubber cockroach at me! ...And I really hate cockroaches so you can imagine my reaction.

December 9, 2002

Underwater VR

Ever wanted to go scuba diving? This page (1.1Mb) will show you what it's like without going underwater. It's probably the first cubic virtual reality image ever created underwater, and lets you turn to look at what's happening all around you. It's taken by an Australian photographer called Mal Yeo, and it's pretty amazing I think. (requires Quicktime5)

December 10, 2002

Skating & Caffeine

skating
This afternoon I went skating in Kongens Nytorv, one of Copenhagen's main squares, which they put an ice rink into every winter. Apart from the fact that you get all these five year-olds showing off and flying past you, it felt like the right thing to be doing in December, and took my mind off wondering why I'm spending it freezing in a country where the sun only seems to come up for 20 minutes a day. Video of it here (2.8Mb).

Afterwards I went to Espresso House for a coffee to warm up. The two most boring men in the world, however, were sitting in the seats next to me. Not only were they insanely boring but they were loud and American so it was impossible to ignore them. I was once proudly told that Americans are taught to project their voices; whoever is teaching them this - can you please stop? Their conversation was more like they were preaching to the room than talking to each other and went something like,
"I believe in objective reality... without governments there would be no corporations"
"blah, blah, blah...blah, blah, blah..."
I guessed that they were here to protest at the EU meeting in Copenhagen this week as all sorts of bizarre and dull people are beginning to appear in town. It's worrying that the protesters these days are even more boring than the politicians.

December 11, 2002

Arse Talk

Today was much like yesterday, except that after being laughed at by the skating toddlers I went to a different cafe for a bit of variety in my caffeine intake. Still the Americans found me. Do I have to grow a long beard and move to a cave to keep them away? This time it was three girls, one of whom had a voice which sounded exactly like one of those dolls that has a string hanging out of its arse with a plastic ring in the end, and when you pull it, it starts talking, tells you how 'awesome' everything is, and won't shut up. Her sentences would contain the word 'like' at least three times each, which I was greatly impressed by. At least now I can see where the expression, 'Talking out of your arse' comes from.

December 12, 2002

EU Meeting

demo poster
Copenhagen is getting ready for the expected protests and riots that come with an EU meeting, and when I was in town today they had begun boarding up shops in anticipation. Must remember not to wear my balaclava to town tomorrow.

December 13, 2002

Protests

demo1-t.jpg
The centre of Copenhagen was eerily silent tonight as the first demonstrations made their way towards the ranks of riot police who appeared to be carrying gas masks. The demonstrations look as though they may be further provoked by what has been felt by some to be racist comments from the EU. Turkey has just been told that their possible entry into the European Union will be delayed further and the former French EU president has said that Turkey has no place in the EU due to it being a mainly muslim country. Maybe not the most diplomatic thing to say when Copenhagen has a large Turkish population and many people have obviously been upset by this.

December 14, 2002

Christmas Food

double jointed Nina
Nina does party tricks
Cheese!
Lisbeth & Jesper
The weekend so far has mainly consisted of eating and drinking. We had dinner with Lisbeth and Jesper last night and far too much beer, then cycled home a bit pissed narrowly avoiding trees. This morning for breakfast we had a bad hangover, then dinner with Gitte and Michael tonight with lots more good food. Danes really do love to eat.

December 15, 2002

Art... Allegedly

Back in October I complained about the 'Neon Fountain' that had appeared in Copenhagen, and I seem to recall saying that it belonged in a strip club. Well, unknown to myself and I assume most of the population of Copenhagen, there's been a festival of illumination going on here for the last few months, which the neon fountain is part of. It's been created by a Belgian called Danny Matthys and apparently he's quite proud of it as he says, "the neon light is, therefore, both symbolically as well as materially expressing the transient and dynamic zone of the site." Eh, yeah.

December 16, 2002

Respect

Can we have a minute's silence please for the 30m worth of BMWs and other luxury cars currently lying at the bottom of the English Channel due to this shipping accident. Condolencies too if you've been waiting 6 months for one of those cars to arrive.

December 17, 2002

Trainspotting

Either they're running fewer here trains to piss people off at Christmas or I'm just being incredibly unlucky. Usually there's trains every ten minutes or so but last night I waited and waited and nothing turned up. After wandering around for a bit exploring all the dark corners of Norreport station to keep myself amused, I finally found an empty, sparkling bench in a corner of the station so far away that apparently no-one had ever sat in it before. So I made myself as comfortable as I could on the wooden slats and was just contemplating how best to spend the night on it when suddenly a train appeared.

I was of course about as far away from it as it was possible to be so I jumped up and sprinted down the platform. Just as I got there the doors began to close. Determined not to miss it and be forced to spend Christmas waiting for the next one, I instinctively leapt over and shoved my arm between the doors to keep them open. But instead of opening again, the large rubber seals on the doors simply closed snugly around my arm. I had a rush of adrenalin as I realised that the train was about to leave the station and take me running along with it, my arm trapped inside. The people inside were looking at me disapprovingly, as if I was about to embark on some new form of dangerous sport - being dragged through the underground with an arm inside the train. I stabbed frantically at the door button with my free hand, and after a short pause, thankfully, the doors re-opened and I joined the passengers inside as they stared at me and shook their heads.

December 19, 2002

Return of Max Headroom?

Max Headroom, the computer generated character from 1980's British television could be set to return according to this story. This page shows some of the things that the show accurately predicted long ago in the days before the world wide web existed.

Ubiquitous Wi-Fi

Nina's been working on the feasibility of building out a large high-speed wireless network with one of the local councils as her university project this term. After a final 30 hour shift on it, she got home this afternoon, project in hand and collapsed into bed. Her group managed to prove that wireless networks can be economically built to provide fast internet access to large residential areas. Now we have to wait and see if the council is going to go ahead and develop some of the test areas. Next we're trying to get some people together in Menorca to get something similar started there.

December 20, 2002

Christmas plans

On Monday we're going down to the boat in Menorca for two or three weeks. We fly out of Copenhagen, change in Barcelona, and arrive Monday evening and I'm really looking forward to it - I think I've been in Denmark too long.

December 21, 2002

Barbie Girl

magasin-t.jpg
We're Christmas shopping right now, well, we would be if I hadn't just ducked into a cafe for a quick fix and some wireless access. Just passed the lead singer of Aqua in the street (remember Barbie Girl?), who was struggling to walk with a big box (take that however you want to) and whom I suggested that we trip up (as you do to people with large packages) when Nina told me who she was.

December 22, 2002

Bored of Luxuries

I've begun to take some things like running water, unlimited electricity, ADSL and daily showers for granted again from living ashore for the past few months. I don't feel like I'm spoiling myself with a long shower, and having always-on internet just makes it dull. Once I get down to the boat they'll all become luxuries again. Going ashore to hunt down internet access and get online was something I'd look forward to. Fifty litres of water could last us a week. Meanwhile I'll get to appreciate Spain's cheap food and drink, good nightlife, living on the water and spending time outdoors again - all of which I'd take for granted if I spent all my time doing them.

December 23, 2002

Fell off Bike

Ok, so we just had dinner with Nina's parents and on the way home I had a small accident on my bike. I fell off of it onto my face with a crack after cycling into a hedge. Thankfully I don't seem to have done too much damage though there was quite a bit of blood. I'm sure I hit some black ice or something and it was nothing to do with the amount of alcohol I'd consumed.

Leaving

Off to the airport now feeling a bit hungover and bruised.

December 24, 2002

Christmas Eve

Nina and I arrived in Mahon last night about 1900. We then spent two and a half hours trying to find someone who could take us across the harbour to where the boat is. Finally we found a friendly French guy who took us just as we were beginning to think about swimming it.

Its really nice to get back to the boat and Spain, and its about 17c and sunny here - warm enough for us to see a British tourist wearing shorts today. Ninas cooking Christmas dinner at the moment and Im just off to get a few last things from the supermarket.

Merry Christmas to everybody.

December 31, 2002

End of 2002

Havent managed to update this much over the last week as Windows 2000 refuses to work with my mobile phone so I have to go to an internet cafe. I ended up going for a swim next to the boat on Christmas day, though Nina in her wisdom refused to join me. We had a roast for Christmas dinner, or at least we thought it was a roast - after we cooked it we realised wed bought some kind of animals genitalia, but it was an interesting meal. My face has pretty much healed from my cycling adventure now, though my nose is still a bit sore.

Ok, off now to begin the celebrations.