South Africa, why are you not running Linux?

Ubuntu, my personal favourite Linux distribution, has recently released version 14.04 LTS. LTS stands for Long Term Support: LTS releases are supported for 5 years, meaning that with 14.04 you are covered until 2019. Trusty Tahr, as 14.04 is known, is beautiful, functional and still free.Ubuntu means “humanity to others”. It also means pretty desktop! This seemed like an opportune moment to get something off my chest. I’m trying to understand why South Africa, my current home, is not running more Linux.

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Ernestine teaches Charl isiXhosa: Lesson 1

One of my colleagues at Stone Three, Ernestine, is teaching me isiXhosa. I’m a very slow learner, partly because isiXhosa doesn’t fit in any of my existing Germanic or Romantic (I only have a smattering of this, but it’s there) language frameworks. However, it’s loads of fun, so I decided this had to go on my blog. There will be absolutely no structure to these lessons. I’m planning to put posts up more or less when I think it’s going to be fun to do so.

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Weekly Head Voices #71: Vote for the future.

On Wednesday May 7, together with just over 18 million other South Africans, I voted. Afterwards, my thumb looked like this:POWER THUMB! … and the rest of me felt like a million bucks! Some complained about the outcome. I think we’re moving, albeit slowly, in the direction of a healthy democracy. Here are this year’s results, and here are 2009’s results. The opposition has been growing (slowly) at a national level.

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Weekly Head Voices #70: Patterns in the sand.

(I just deliberately deleted the draft I was working on. It was not the best pattern.) I want you to read this quote by Richard Dawkins, taken from the God Delusion: Think of an experience from your childhood. Something you remember clearly, something you can see, feel, maybe even smell, as if you were really there. After all you really were there at the time, weren’t you? How else could you remember it?

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Weekly Head Voices #69: No sugar added.

This time, the head voices are echoing the span of time ending strictly on Sunday, April 27 at 23:59. I have to break my rule and reach through past the start of that week however. On Wednesday April 16 I had quite a heavy sugar crash. After about 12 cups of coffee, each with a spoon of sugar (as per usual), some chocolates from the Stone Three sweetie jar during lunch ,and two giant coconut crunches at about TU Delft sugar fix time (yes children, I do my best to commemorate the sugar fix, even at 11000 km distance from you), my energy levels dropped through the floor and no amount of coffee could get them close to normal again.

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Weekly Head Voices #68: Harsh Autumn Weekends.

Noeska’s new weekly status update blog posts inspired me to get mine back on the road again. To be more precise, the observation that I really enjoyed being updated in this fashion with a far-away friend’s exploits hints at the possibility that, somewhere out there, there might be someone who finds it similarly enjoyable to read mine! (Long ago I learnt the trick from Swimgeek, who is still going strong with his weekly updates.

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Back in South Africa

(I was supposed to publish this around the start of February, but then life happened, and I didn’t get to quite finish it.) For the first time in the three weeks after having arrived back on South African soil, we find ourselves in something that we’re going to call home for the coming months. Until now we have been living out of our suitcases, spending time with various grandpas and grandmas somewhere in the Boerewors Gordyn (the Northern ‘burbs of Cape Town, to those of you not in the know), The Oven (I just made that up.

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The new MedVis Book is out!

For the past 2.5 years, I have been helping my friend Prof. Bernhard Preim to write the new Medical Visualization textbook. A crazy number of hours of studying scientific literature (a quick count in the bbl file yields 1880 cited references!!), trying to fit everything into a coherent conceptual framework and then trying to write all of it down as a more or less readable story has finally led to more than 1000 pages of Medical Visualization reading pleasure.

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On leaving the Netherlands

Moving consists of leaving one place and going to another. This post is about the first part. It’s really not easy to write, but I would like for people to understand that the leaving part of this decision is one of the more difficult things I have ever had to do. So after 13 beautiful years in this great little country, we are leaving the Netherlands. Our life here has been exceptionally happy and fulfilling.

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Creative Process Stage 5. [WHV #67]

Dear two people reading this blog on a good day: Spread the word, the Weekly Head Voices is making a comeback! In the process of dealing with recent(ish) life-changing decisions, but probably more due to the preceding time of introspection, I was unable to enter the right state of mind for producing the weekly WHV episodes. However, because exciting new events have been scheduled for the coming months and I really look forward to writing about them, and because I’ve decided that, yes, I shouldn’t worry too much about the actual literary impact of this here blog (I wrote “bog” first, I hope that it wasn’t a Freudian slip; what I was actually intending to say between these parentheses is that I will continue to do my best to entertain and/or edify!

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