Andrew October threatens me with legal action!

Dear friends, In December 14 of 2003, I read an on-line article that made me quite angry. In short, the article told the story of the time-honoured tradition where kids are encouraged to write letters to Father Christmas (or Santa Claus). The Post Office in South Africa had made an address available to which children could send their christmas lists. Andrew October, a South African journalist, lodged a formal complaint and claimed that this could “break the fragile spirits” of South African children.

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That laptop that you were going to buy me

You do remember that laptop that you were going to buy for me? I’ve changed my mind as to which laptop I want. I would rather fancy a fully-configured Samsung X10, thanks. That would be a 1.7GHz Centrino, 1G of RAM, 80G hard drive and the 8-hour (!) battery, all in a gloriously thin and light 1.8kg package. Click here and drool.

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I hate spammers. Really.

Some prick has been sending out tons and tons of spam with my ieee.org email address spoofed as the from address. This means I have been getting tons and tons of “delivery failed” mails, as obviousy many of the addresses in the moron’s database are not valid. I know that he/she has been spamming from a tiscali.it ADSL PPP address via a tiscali.it mail server, but mails to abuse@tiscali.it have had absolutely no effect.

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Windows programming is nasty

I’ve spent two days trying to figure out how to send an ATA command directly to an IDE hard drive from Windows. I’ve finally succeeded, but with an undocumented and unsupported IOCTL call. It turns out that’s the ONLY way to do what I want, at least until Windows XP SP2 is released when the documented and supported version of a similar IOCTL will be made available. That’s nasty. By the way, C’T (an extremely technical German computer magazine, fortunately now with a Dutch edition as well) rules in more ways than one.

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A slightly improved perspective BTF ordering

Finding a single BTF (back-to-front) ordering for perspectively rendered volumes without sorting is more difficult than it sounds. See what happens when we make use of a traditional BTF (Frieder et al., 1985): it breaks badly. Ed Swan came up with a super-elegant constructive proof for a perspective BTF ordering that works (Swan, 1998). However, his “PBTF” rendering and its proof assume that voxels are infinitesimally small. As is very often the case, voxels can have significant size, and volume resolution is often lower than screen resolution, which results in disturbing rendering artefacts.

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The Visualisation and Image Processing Platform Formerly Known as DSCAS3

The current marketing conditions and long-term strategy dictate a name change. The new name should contain at least the words “Delft”, “Visualisation”, “Image [Processing]”, and then one of “platform”, “framework”, “[software environment]”. I’m currently looking at “devise” (Delft Visualisation and Image processing Software Environment), “devious” (“ou” not used, the rest you can easily guess) and perhaps “divine” (or “devine”, which I like more, because of the infamous Devine Brown and the fact that I would be able to use acronyms like “PIMP” for Parallel IMage Processing”) which would stand for Delft Visualisation and Image processing Network Environment, which is not an entirely correct description (the network environment is just one aspect) but acceptable nonetheless.

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Mark Shuttleworth NOT the first African in Space, but likes Python

Contrary to popular belief and idiot marketing droids, Mark Shuttleworth is technically not the first African in space. This of course is dependent on your definition of “African”, but if that definition is “person born in Africa”, the title of First African in Space should go to Colonel Patrick Baudry, a French dude who was born in Douala, Cameroon on March 6, 1946. Colonel Baudry was part of the 1985 space shuttle Discovery crew.

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