Weekly Head Voices #105: There will be tears.

Congratulations, you have successfully completed the week of Monday February 8 to Sunday February 14, 2016!

About 4 seconds after posting previous edition WHV #104 to Facebook with the “When you’re a vegan <boy with bulging veins> and haven’t told anyone in 10 minutes” meme image included, friend Ivo T. zinged me with this reply:


So much truth. I have been put back in my place. Sorry vegans. Sorry MBA students. Not sorry Ayn Randers.

This is currently my favourite lager ever (at least until next week):

Jack Black Brewers Lager

It is indeed a craft beer. If we’ve ever chatted more than 10 minutes in the past (or in the future), you’ll know everything about my braai, and you probably also know that I find craft beer to be one of the greatest inventions ever, along with fire, and the internet.

Here’s a another beer which I recently had the pleasure of enjoying, at a secret networking meeting (yes, we have secret meetings where we in fact do manage a large number of aspects of your daily life, and where we also orchestrate it so you’ll never suspect that we are behind everything, subtly manipulating reality) where, when the beer arrived at the table, everyone who looked vaguely hipster-like claimed vocally not in fact to be even remotely hipster-like:

Tears of the Hipster Beer

META-HIPSTER CRAFT BEER! At first I was confused, but then I realised it was just another case of WHAT A TIME TO BE ALIVE!

(By the way, I stripped the EXIF GPS data from the Jack Black photo, because privacy, but I left it hidden in the tears of the hipster. First one who tells me in the comments where the secret meeting was held gets a free craft beer!)

Nerd tip of the week: It’s somehow not prominent enough on their site, but GitLab, the open source GitHub alternative, also offer free hosting of an unlimited number of private repositories with an unlimited number of private collaborators. In other words, if you’re on a budget, you can host your commercial and proprietary project git repositories (and bug tracking and wikis) there at no cost. This is cheaper than github ($7 for the smallest subscription for 5 private repos) and better than bitbucket (private repos for free, but if you have more than 5 team members you have to pay). I pay quite gladly for the online services I use, but in this particular case, such a level of free is hard not to like.

Nerd tip #2 of the week: The Clang static C++ analyser is brilliant. If you program in C++, and you need to up your game, integrating this into your workflow is a solid step in the right direction. I’ve been using this via the scan-build method. Let me know in the comments if you’d like to know more about this!

After some professional ethernet cabling down to the sort-of basement of our new house, I have checked off another item from my non-existent bucket list: We now have a lab at our house. So far there are computers, all kinds of DIY supplies and art stuff for the genetic offspring units, and all of this to create. I spent some of the best times of my life in labs of some sort of another. It’s really great bringing some of that back home to my clan.

Have a great week kids, see you on the other side!

Weekly Head Voices #76: Someone is wrong on the internet.


I must be getting older.

During the past week, there were at least three or four occasions where someone was clearly wrong on the internet, and I dutifully started carefully crafting that brilliant corrective response which would inevitably spiral downward into the fiery depths of idiocy.

However, each time I stopped mid-answer, long before clicking the post button or sending the email, and switched to some other more valuable and less pointless activity. It was a strange feeling, but the eerie sense of having saved a bunch of time made up for it generously.

(I have to admit that there was one occasion, call it the fifth, where I couldn’t help myself and briefly took part in a Facebook discussion around a photo of a young man with some rather extreme facial piercings. I felt that I really needed to correct the other participants: I might not have any of my own body modifications, but I feel strongly about encouraging self-expression, and I think that the variety that it brings is important. There are other things that unify us, like love, respect and intellect. Yes, I’m a Vulcan Hippie. LLAP you fools!)

On the topic of age and the inevitable mid-life crisis, it seems technology has brought us the cure. GIANT WATER-JET-POWERED HOVERBOARDS!!

After a week of not-correcting-the-internet (good), lots of Python (good) and much face-palming at the South African Reserve Bank’s archaic view on intellectual property and exchange control (hopefully much more on that later), my weekend was of the fabulous middle-of-the-Cape-winter variety.

It started with some of this on Friday:

Skeleton Coast IPA, brewed by Jack Black in Cape Town. Highly recommended! Fire and wine not too bad either.

On Saturday, a completely unplanned and somewhat impulsive turnoff from the R44 right before Stellenbosch brought us to the vineyard Dornier. Some of it looks like this:

In the Cape, the summer is always trying to break through, even in the middle of winter.

Having arrived there, it doesn’t take much convincing to end up dining in restaurant Bodega, where the wine is very local (hey, it says Dornier on the bottles!) and is artfully paired with the delicious food. My lunch ended with these delectable cheeses, preserves and the Dornier Donatus White. I can’t remember the year, but it was a fabulous Chenin Blanc and Semillon blend which the DWR will hopefully soon be able to judge. I fortunately just managed to snap this picture in the midst of a gorgonzola-induced mini pleasure seizure:

Gorgonzola is my kryptonite.

(We spent the rest of the seemingly endless weekend scorching various types of meat, drinking craft beer and baking in the winter sun in Paarl. You can say many things about Paarl, but you can’t deny that it has a most excellent climate.)

Apparently, a few of this blog’s readers have been wondering what I really look like. (Well, actually no-one has. Ever. But they could have!) Clamour no more, small group of fictitious readers! This week, my youngest genetic offspring unit, or GOU#1 as we lovingly call her, brought me a drawing that she made. Internet, I give you me, through my daughter’s eyes:

GOUMEs [weekly head voices #47]

As you all would have guessed by now (ALL my readers are insanely astute, of course), GOUMEs stands for Genetic Offspring Unit Maturation Events. You see, the first week of May has the fantastic privilege of hosting the birth dates of both of my Genetic Offspring Units. One of them is too young to appreciate the significance of this event, the other is now at the stage where one tends to over-estimate said significance. In any case, more on this in a bullet or two.

The Nemo in Amsterdam. Pinball Machine of Science.
  • The TPN and I were brave (or stupid) enough to take two of the GOUs to the Nemo Science Centre in Amsterdam on one sunny Monday. The Nemo is 5 floors packed chock-full of fun and interactive science exhibits. This is really cool, except perhaps for the fact that kids of around that age have a maximum attention span of about 5 seconds, in which case the Nemo could also be considered as 5 floors packed chock-full of irresistible distractions. The end result is 5 floors of hyper-active kids bouncing around from exhibit to exhibit, much like a pinball machine that has for some or other reason been filled with zillions of balls and is being operated by an octopus on speed.
  • After a long discussion with the book publisher Morgan Kaufmann, filled with book proposals, proposal reviews and proposal review rebuttals, my good friend and colleague Prof. Bernhard Preim and I have received the green light and will soon start writing the second edition of the “Visualization in Medicine” textbook.  The working title of the new book is “Visual Computing in Medicine”. Whatever the case may be, this is the textbook defining my research field, and it’s quite an honour being able to participate in its writing. This does mean that until about March 2013 I have another excuse to be permanently over-busy, and hence grumpy. You have been warned.
  • On the eve of her very first birthday, my GOU #2 ate her first BBQ spare rib, right from the bone. Now that’s a significant event.
  • GOU #1 wanted a princess-themed party, and so it came to be. After an intensive few hours surrounded by little girls dressed up as princesses, flying unicorns, pink fairies and other types of sugar and spice and all things nice, I believe that my DNA might be permanently damaged. I will have to spend significantly more time with my black time machine to counter these effects.

This weekend,  Maarten Keulemans, the new Volkskrant science editor, concluded his current stint as columnist for the same paper with a collection of thought-provoking factoids and propositions. In order to give you some backyard philosophy to think about, I’d like to conclude with a translation of one of the factoids that really struck me:

It’s bizarre that humankind spends eleven times more on killing people than it spends on saving lives through scientific research.

Humankind does sometimes disappoint, doesn’t it? Have a great week kids, and be really good to one another.