Observations about the universe, life, Lausanne and me

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Encyclopædia Britannica thinks I am a Web Publisher

Quite a while back, I think it was in December, I noticed that the Encyclopædia Britannica was offering free access to Web Publishers, and applied at once. Whatever a Web Publisher is (and the Encyclopædia doesn't include the term, funnily enough), the term appearantly includes small-fry bloggers too, because I just received an email that I've been accepted.

That means I can link to stuff on Britannica, and you can then go and look at it. I know, exciting, isn't it?

See for example this article about moths.

Nuts, isn't it?

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


Sure, many people would think it is a moth. More fools they, when the thing staring at them is actually a Mi-Go from the frozen wastelands of Pluto.

The blasphemies which appeared on earth, it was hinted, came from the dark planet Yuggoth, at the rim of the solar system; but this was itself merely the populous outpost of a frightful interstellar race whose ultimate source must lie far outside even the Einsteinian space-time continuum or greatest known cosmos. 

 Oh aye, it is the winged horror, the fungoid abomination which hails from the darkest abysses of Yuggoth. The cries of it's worshippers, the hideous ululations of their twisted rituals have finally advised it of Pluto's reduction in status to dwarf-planet, and it has come in answer to visit wretched retribution on all the younger races...

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


it started on the roof of the Vienna University of Technology:

A beautiful view, but the evening soon descended into madness:

The rest, as they say, is silence.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Dark Haven

I am a cad.

A while back I got an email by the most excellent Gail Z. Martin, asking me if I wanted to review her newest novel, Dark Haven, part three of the Chronicles of the Necromancer. She'd send me one, for free.

Clearly, Gail knows the way to my heart: Novel. Free. Aaand, you're in!

I got the novel by the end of March. So why did it take me more than a month to review it? Because I am a cad, that's why.

I didn't even notice at first that she even signed it for me:

 How awesome is that?

Anyway, onward to the review (read my review of The Summoner here):

We rejoin Martris Drayke and his friends, who finally put paid to Martris evil brother Jared and the Obsidian King in the novel The Blood King. The first two novels of the Chronicles of the Necromancer series are a self-contained story by the way. Dark Haven isn't, but fortunately Dark Lady's Chosen will be out by 2010.

But all is not well in Margolan. The country has been devasted by the war against Jared (and by Jared himself before that). Martris is all set to wed Princess Kiara of Isencroft, but Isencroft nationalists are very much against that, since this would eventually unite Margolan and Isencroft under the rule of Martris and Kiara. A good way to prevent that would be assasination...
While Martris has to deal with an insurrection of a southern lord, his companion Jonmarc has been made Lord of Dark Haven, the vampire stronghold. And not all vampires are happy with having a mortal lord...

So, what did I think about Dark Haven? First, the bad: Martris is still called Tris, and I still don't like the name ;)

Then, the good: Martin's writing keeps getting better. The characters have more depth to them, and I really liked the way all is not well in Margolan, even if the evil ursurper is gone. People are poor, starving, looking for scapegoats and generally miserable. The subplot with the vampires was very interesting - the moderate vampires that recognise that having a human lord will allay the suspicions  and predjudices of mortals, thus preventing another war, the hotheads (uh, figuratively. vampire=cold) that don't see why a mere mortal should hold power over them, the pragmatists who see that mortals are just better in caring about things like fields and crops... add to that all the vampire trouble is really the hero's fault, because they used vampires as shock-troops against Jared in the previous novels and so gave a taste of what it is like to hunt humans again to the more radical vampire elements - very nice.

So, Dark Haven gets a warm recommendation from me. Read it, it's fun. Also, go to Gail's website, where there's excerpts and maps and stuff.

And, Gail, thank you so much again for sending me Dark Haven for review!

Saturday, May 9, 2009


So, there is this guy, Magnus Larsson, who won the  Holcim Foundation’s Awards for Sustainable Construction. He proposed using the bacterium bacillus pasteurii to convert sand into sandstone and built a 6000 km long wall in the Sahara, to stop (or at least fight against) desertification.This is all very humanitarian, but of course Larsson and the whole Holcim foundation  have missed the point here:

Arrakis and the Shield-wall, baby!

 Clearly this technique (if it works as advertised, and I am a bit sceptical) is ment to construct a shieldwall around the sahara, so that we may raise genetically engineered sandworms there. I mean, look at Larsson's concepts:

This clearly is Arrakis. Magnus Larsson must be a proto-Fremen!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Bollocks to this...

I am off to Vienna, for a wedding.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009


Jardin Botanique, Génève. There is no entry fee, and the peacocks run around free. I'll have to return with my DSLR and the macro-lens. This was taken with my new Canon Ixus.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Canon Ixus 870 IS

A few weeks ago, abonimable criminals stole my iPhone and my semi-broken Casio Exilim Ex-V8. I got my new iPhone two weeks later (it is my favourite toy, after all), but it has taken me some time to find a new smallish camera.

The iPhone has a camera as well, but despite amazing iPhone-photos you can find on the internet, and Ken  Rockwells favourite saying: The best camera is the one you have with you, I have never had much luck taking pictures with it. Enter the Ixus 870 IS (or SD880 for the american market. Don't ask me why Canon insists havin different version numbers for them.), a sweet mid-priced pocket camera (and Rockwells recommendation for it's class).

Why the Ixus and not one of it's siblings? First of all, it has one of the widest angles of it's class (28-112mm in 35mm equivalent) which is important to me, because I like to keep either my 50mm equivalent or a long  lens on my DSLR, and use my pocket camera for landscapes.

Secondly, Rockwell waxed poetic about the interface, and after using it for a few weeks I have to agree. It is very intuitive, nothing (important) is more than two clicks away. How Canon can come up with such a sweet interface while it's DSLRs sucks so much, I don't know.

For the first time I've found an automatic mode that I actually use: The awesome panorama stitching mode, that really helps in shooting panoramas. It keeps the right edge of the previous shot on the left side of the screen, so you can line up your next shot. The Geneva lakeshore panorama from Sunday was shot with it.

The LCD is bright enough to see in full sunlight which is partly due to it's anti-reflection coating. Battery is a removeable Lithium Ion pack, which unfortunately doesn't charge over USB. But it is good for a few hundred shots, so this isn't too much of an issue.

The verdict? Sweet camera. If you need a pocket-sized one, go for it.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Geneva, lakeside

Taken on Saturday evening, with my new small camera. Details to follow.