in English journal poems tech

Ram Dass: Be Here Now – brightened PDF for e-readers

Download brightened version for e-readers (low res 600px pages, I’ll maybe generate higher res sometime later). As far as I know, it’s ok to distribute it, as a dozen other websites already do.

This is a PDF of Ram Dass’ book: Be Here Now. I started reading it and loved it, since it started very, honest according to my experience.

I uploaded it to my ReMarkable e-reader tablet, but it was unreadable because the scan was too dark. This superuser page got me started fixing it with ImageMagick.

My original commands used the JPEG format so if you actually do the below, you’ll likely end up with slightly better quality. If you like, you can share the result with me. :)

mkdir folder1
mkdir folder2
convert -density 600 ram\ dass\ be\ here\ now.pdf  folder1/output-%03d.png

Then, brighten the images.

There’s a problem though: The scanned images, they’re not all the same dimensions, and worse yet, sometimes width is larger than height, and sometimes the other way around.

So what happens is that when converting back to PDF in the next step, ImageMagick decides the rotation of each image on each page based on the width/height ratio of the image. So you end up some pages in portrait orientation and some in landscape. Which sucks. So we -resize all images to roughly the same ballpark size, and then use -extent to enlarge the canvas to make sure all the resulting bitmaps end up at the exact same dimensions.

If we were smarter we could probably avoid resizing altogether and somehow figure out how to make the canvas have the same aspect ratio despite differences in pixel size. Alas, we’re not that smart, and we’re a bit lazy.

It’s good though. So let’s brighten up the … umh, pages:

mogrify  -path folder2 -format png  -fill white   -brightness-contrast 10,60
 -tint 150 -resize 610x630 -extent 610x630 folder1/output-*.png

Finally, convert the images back to PDF and we’re good to go:

convert folder2/output-*.png lighten-ramdass-beherenow.pdf
civil rights in English journal tech

On privacy, safety, openness, and growth

I propose that privacy is key to having any kind of healthy value base in society.

This was inspired by What Happens Next Will Amaze You and by The following companies just betrayed billions of people.

Privacy is not only a question of individuals being smart enough to not share anything too personal online. That was the advice often given in the end of the nineties and the beginning of the 00’s. Instead, the grand scale invasion of privacy through our technology, offends the basis of what it is to be an active, independent member of society in the first place.

I am a big believer in privacy online. I also believe openness is a core value in a functional society. Superficially openness and privacy appear to conflict; in reality, they support one another.


Roughly, the end goal for an individual in society is growing up to be an adult. A responsible, well functioning, well being, free member of society. Not an adult in a patronizing definition, where a biased authority assess your adult-ness. Be it your parents,  your political tribe, or your religion.

Real adulthood is ultimately measured by your independence in making your own decisions – carrying your own responsibility. That is what determines if you are living your life genuinely, as yourself. You define what you are, you are capable of sharing to others what your values are without being discriminated.

As an adult, you are capable of living a life of not dominating nor
subduing/submitting yourself to others. You are capable of genuine
cooperation with equals, who are (just like you) allowed to be flawed
(broken, confused or helpless) – while still being considered equals?

The possibility for both openness and privacy are painting the very same picture in society. The name of that picture is trust.

Openness is defined by being voluntary. (Being open involuntarily just means being spied on.) To be open, to open up to other individuals, we must first feel we are safe to do so – even as we are not perfect.

Safety rises from being able to trust you are not going to be violated.  Learning to trust that you have privacy, respected by the surrounding society, is a foundation for learning to communicate openly, to become empowered members of society.

Let’s build a society where becoming an adult remains possible.

in English journal tech

GTD app review: ThinkingRock, Tracks, Google Notebook, Toodledo, Checkvist

I have been through several apps for Getting Things Done (excellent Google Talks presentation video). ThinkingRock, Tracks, Google Notebook, Toodledo, Checkvist each had their times during the last five to six years. And, perhaps typical for a usability practitioner, I tend to have strong opinions about their user interfaces.

ThinkingRock home screen – thanks Dragos Roua for the screenshot.

in English journal


The last night in Metz.

I’ve been inviting people to see me during the last week for several occasions, and despite me trying to organize things, everybody came tonight. The surprise was great – I would have been stressed about it had I known beforehand. The party ended just minutes ago, and I feel I had nothing to do with organizing it. Vincent brought chairs, some drank tea, some vodka, some wine, some beer, but nobody seemed too drunk at any time (some pistachio shells flew around the room during the night though). I offered everything I had in the cabinets (pistachios, sunflower seeds, eggs, soup, …) and people brought their own stuff. Lukas made omelettes. Some French people joined in at one point of the evening.

They gave me a book with photos and writings and drawings from everybody as a gift, and I feel like I have gotten way much more attention than I ever could have deserved. I feel too glad about it all to be cynical, it was beautiful. They made me sad for the fact that I am leaving so soon. :) There was quite a mess here but people cleaned up before they left and told me they’re coming again at eight in the morning to help me clean up! (The cleaner lady will organize an inspection at ten in the morning.) Wow.

Tomorrow to Poland, at around 17 hours.

in English journal

Flu w/ love, sunshine

It feels really spring-like in Metz, already. So finally I feel like it was worth it to come to northern France also because of the weather (the autumn was pretty bad). The flu is doing good to me, too. Slowing me down when I don’t have the guts to do it by myself.

Otherwise: thesis writing, talking with Minna and other friends online, preparing for my trip to Paris with Eeva this weekend.

I am slightly bothered about Facebook taking over my blog; status updates and all the social interaction engages me so much nowadays that actually writing even just a bit longer posts seems irrelevant. I’ve already expressed it all in IM discussions and status updates, so blogging feels like repetition. Maybe I should just start using this blog for something more substantial than my personal whining, since that seems to have a better arena in Facebook nowadays.

On the other hand, Facebook does it by great social UI design, so maybe I will just be happy. I still hope very much that an open platform that does it even better will supercede them soon.

During being in my current flu, I have learnt to use Twitter better (by adding the friends of friends who seemed the most interesting) and it actually seems some use at the moment.

Also, I took Flock into use today and the integrated experience actually seems pretty nice. I am blogging this from Flock. The UI does not seem to allow setting a category for the posting though so I will have to go to wordpress to fix the language category for this, after all. I’ll take that back: the Flock editor asks for the category after pressing Publish. I still have to check which categories I have used from my blog page, though, since I cannot remember all the categories this might fit into.

At times the flock UI is very cluttered and as my screen is only 1024 pixels wide, adding a sidebar to that makes many modern sites scroll. I actually think that is the fault of modern web design and not that of Flock.

in English journal

Every Bunny Needs Some Bunny

Came from Tokyo a week ago (also photos now online). Below are the assorted ramblings from the trip, written mostly last week’s Saturday the 15th. The title of the posting is a writing on a t-shirt I saw in Tokyo (no, I couldn’t get it with me, someone was wearing it). By the way Bemmu is planning to have a similar trip next year, if you’re interested.

On the morning of the day we flew, my mom called me that there’s a Typhoon in Japan. I got a bit scared but nevertheless we took off. Once we arrived to Narita airport, the Typhoon was said to already have passed Tokyo. I misplaced my passport for a while but eventually found it in a wrong pocket. A bit later, the airport loudspeaker announced some flight being late, “we are sorry for any convenience”. Welcome to the land of Engrish.

The ryokan, a hostel kind of a traditional, simple housing, was sufficient and actually rather cozy :). There’s a shower and an ok toilet. The room, shared with three other guys from the group I’m traveling, has air conditioning (not in all rooms I hear). The air conditioner and the shower both had control panels which allowed setting the temperature in celcius grades. The controls were in Japanese though so it took a bit of trial and horror ;).

On the first day we made an omelette kind of a meal in a small restaurant, each of us for oneself. It was delicious though the timelag was still heavy on, I think, all of us. On Saturday it got a bit easier. We had a gorgeous Japanese (?) breakfast at the price of around 3 euros. Soup, two kinds of salad, a kind of tea I never quite got used to, rice, eggs, sausage. We shopped, there was a bookstore with quite a few storeys, one of which had books in english and other languages besides Japanese. Gaming. Karaoke, blur, queen, wonderful world, Japanese pop for those who had a clue about the language. Street shows. Photos. Engrish. Souvenirs. Milk. Tobacco smoke in game houses. The Japanese society has smoking issues. Tobacco is sold in vending machines.

I am no Japan or manga (etc.) enthusiast myself, and I don’t know the language. Alas, many of the cultural nuances were probably left unnoticed for me. I did get a lot out of it nevertheless; much of the fact is thanks to Bemmu, who arranged the trip in the first place. He knows the city and Japanese well enough that basically, whatever we wanted to do, we could.

We ate lots of more or less strange foods, though most of the time they were very edible indeed. I don’t remember any names though, thanks to the three scripts the Japanese use, none of which I know, and the strange sound of the language. I enjoyed grinning at the Engrish and the “philosophical” writings that were quite common on the streets. I loved the moment we spent in a tea house, sipping green tea and before that, eating the funny little cake — and trying to do this according to a sort of a traditional style. Instructions were given on paper. We also visited the Ghibli (Totoro, etc.) museum, though again, those who knew more about the subject enjoyed it a lot more than I.

The days were pretty full. A lot of it was just traveling around and seeing famous places. As The ones in our group who knew more about manga, anime or Japanese shopped for a lot of that stuff. Others bought electronics, which can be cheap, though new stuff is roughly the same price as in Finland. I got a Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ8 for about 28000 yen (just under 200 euros; it had been in demonstration use). It was fun trying to find a wall plug adapter for the camera, Sakari, one of us luckily knew what electricity is in Japanese so we went arond asking for a “denki adaptoo for juurop”. Finally found it, too, for about one euro (180 yen).

Towards the end of the week it somehow got a little lonely, though lots of people were around me most of the time. I was happy to meet Marlen from Switzerland (along with a Canadian guy whose name I fail to remember), who also stayed in our ryokan. On Wednesday we sat in a pub and later rented a karaoke room (a quite popular local hobby). They even had Fiona Apple! :).

On Thursday Arttu, Jonna and Miia from our traveling group joined us, and we found a more Japanese bar, the keeper and the other guests of which we got to know during the evening. Marlen knew Japanese, otherwise we couldn’t have communicated almost at all. It was so much fun, the barkeeper showed a photo of his son and told us that I look like him ^_^. We ate jellyfish and drank several kinds of drinks, and several middle aged men chatted with us, mostly about Japan and Finland. One of them, I understood he was psychologist, even offered flowers for all the girls we had with us there. Then he concluded “I won’t give any to the guys”, and everyone had a laugh :).

And then, yesterday, the farewell. Woke up at 5 a.m. Japanese time, the plane took of at 11 a.m., and we landed at Helsinki-Vantaa around 15:45, Finnish time.

The flight was an experience in itself for me, due to technical reasons :). The backs of seats had entertainment systems, allowing to enjoy a selection of movies, tv shows, music, games etc. The system itself made an impression: a simple gui with relatively original controls: a double-sided wired remote with a microphone and an orientation sensor. It also had a credit card reader, allowing phone calls and sending 2$/piece e-mails and SMS’s. Too bad it was buggy and I got it to crash, though thanks to that i found out it was Linux-based, seemingly a virtual machine of some kind.

September 22, 2007 04:34 in


Jonna Kettunen wrote on September 22, 2007 at 20:03:

Wow, mahtavia kuvia, mahtava kirjoitus matkasta ja kerta kaikkiaan MAHTAVA KOKONAISUUS! n__n

Yksi pieni virhe löytyi (..en minä ole liian pikkutarkka, e-hen..!), nimittäin baarireissultamme viimeisenä iltana. Psykologi/lääkäri ei antanut kukkia meille kauniimmille osapuolille, vaan se ensimmäinen mies, joka istahti sinne peräkammarin puolelle, missä mekin oltiin. Tosin, en hirveästi muista hänestä mitään, kun hän lähti melko aikaseen pois. Mutta anyway… u__U’

Toivottavasti tuo valaisi edes jonkun verran. :D

Ps. Teidän kanssa oli tosi hauskaa Japanissa! <3 meidän kaikkien pitää vielä tavata, eiks je?

pilpi ( author) wrote on September 22, 2007 at 23:35:

Hihi, kiitos kommentista ja kehuista! :))

Joo muistelin että se oli se jälkimmäinen mies, koska tosiaan se eka lähti niin äkkiä. Noh… :)

in English journal


In a hidden garden, where the air is heavy and warm, where light is cast from somewhere outside on certain spots. Here you cannot see any life besides that of the plants, the shine of your soul seems dim, more faded than ever before. Why is that, you ask yourself and keep walking along the narrow paths of this place that seems to have walls of glass.

It would be suitable as a winter garder but you’ve noticed, while living here for years and years that it’s not the sun that shines down here, it’s just the invisible spotlights. Every morning, as you wake up, someone has brought a day’s food in front of a mini temple that’s in one corner of the garden. You’ve tried to catch those creatures who nurture you but it seems impossible ever to stay awake all night.

Not that you would know when is it night or day here – at some time you just get tired – trying to stay awake works at first, but after a couple of hours you start smelling a stark smell and the next thing you know it’s morning and you’ve slept for hours, and you have a couple of plates of food in front of you.

Not that you know when is it morning or is the queer-looking stuff really food, but in a place where there is no one to be sociable with and nothing to tell you what’s up with the real world, you just have to assume something.

What is it that one would normally shape into in a place like this?