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Eunoia, who is a grumpy, overeducated, facetious, multilingual ex-pat Scot, blatantly opinionated, old (1944-vintage), amateur cryptologist, computer consultant, atheist, flying instructor, bulldog-lover, Beetle-driver, textbook-writer, long-distance biker, geocacher and blogger living in the foothills south of the northern German plains. Not too shy to reveal his true name or even whereabouts, he blogs his opinions, and humour and rants irregularly. Stubbornly he clings to his beliefs, e.g. that Faith does not give answers, it only prevents you doing any goddamn questioning. You are as atheist as he is. When you understand why you don't believe in all the other gods, you will know why he does not believe in yours :-) Oh, and he also has a neat English Bulldog bitch 'Frieda'.

And her big son 'Kosmo'.

Some of my bikes

My Crypto Pages

My Maths Pages

Saturday, February 27, 2016

A course in self-publishing

As bloggers, we self-publish, but online (only?). The HNF recently offered a one day course in self-publishing, the end product being either an E-book or a traditional paper book. I liked the idea of such a compact course and so coughed up the 60€ and went along last saturday.

The teacher was Dr.Mareike Menne, a lecturer in history from the local university. The course was in German, as were all the links and most references and tools, so this write-up is really for my German readers. Practising what she preaches, she has her own small publishing house Eire Verlag and writes an employability blog aimed at liberal arts academics who otherwise find it a problem getting a job :-(

The course was very useful and covered a lot of ground : Pro and Contra self-publishing, Links to the German bookdealers' reference database etc, Copyright law, Taxation, Pricing, getting an ISBN number, (social) networking amongst self-publishers e.g. via Federwelt, useful reference books. Getting into the world of tools and service providers, she showed us Tredition, Xlibri and BOD. For those wanting to produce paper books, she linked us to a printing house portal for getting competing printing offers, Linotype (for buying the fonts you use, she recommended Garamond etc), and an online printing shop.

As far as E-books are concerned, she linked us to Neobooks and recommended both Calibre and Papyrus as tools. There followed a bunch of tips about marketing (selfpublishers have to do their own selling!) with a number of links to relevant literature.

Who took the course and what are their projects? 11 people, only 3 men but 8 ladies. I was the only person attending who had already had books published, the rest were hopeful neophytes. The projects included a small poetry collection (good luck with that), a biography, a children's fantasy tale, a management consultant's handbook etc.

Experimenting with the toolkits recommended, I took a 3-page article from my website and "poured" it almost unchanged(!) into a text-to-print toolkit formatting it to get a 32 page broschure of size A8 (=a pocket guide) and sent it to a printer who prints one copy for free to see if you like his work. I'm now waiting for the hard copy to arrive in the mail :-) If that works out OK, I may try generating a larger book in black and white, then if that's OK, a motorcyclist' travel guide with lots of colour photos. We shall see :-)

Update 29/2 : And here is the "pocket guide" as it arrived from the printer today. Size A8 is slightly smaller than a credit card, so that this 32 page broschure can fit into a regular wallet or purse and easily into a smartphone case next to the smartphone, the 32 pages are quite thin. The only editing was to put page breaks in at suitable places. So here is proof that the course worked, and that I was paying attention ;-) The very first effort at self-publishing was successful within a week of the course!

So can I recommend Mareike's course? Unreservedly! I found it very helpful and delivered at a pace all could understand, she is obviously an accomplished lecturer. Locals may like to attend if and when it is repeated :-)

Comments (1)
Jenny (Ibiza) wrote "Regardless of what you plan on writing, what are you currently reading?" Currently? Roger Willemsen "Das Hohe Haus", 432pp, ISBN 978-3-596-19810-8. Willemsen died recently and, although I'd admired him on TV a lot, I realised I'd never read any of his books. For this one he sat as a spectator in parliament for a year and took notes about who said what and how the whole gummint things works (or doesn't) in Germany. Quite readable. Just finished : John Niven's "The Second Coming" in the German translation "Gott bewahre!", 400pp, ISBN 978-3-453-67633-6. Extremely funny, recommended! Before that, re-reading A.Graham Bell's "Two-stroke performance tuning", 229pp, ISBN 0-85429-329-9, the 7th reprint of his 1983 masterpiece. For bikers only.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Kafkaesque koffeemachine kaos :-(

Last tuesday I told you about my frustrating fight with the photocopier. Today I continue that story to tell you about the Kafkaesque koffeemachine kaos, which is in the same vein :-(

Same office, same Essex girls, same hooray-henry salesmen. After I gave up the fight with the failure ridden photocopier, I tried my luck with the office coffee-machine, a huge import from Italy, crimson plastic and acres of chrome, worthy of its own barista. As with all human technology, it worked well when it worked, but it was a nightmare when it needed human intervention :-(

Still frustrated from losing the fight with the photocopier, I found the coffee-machine to be displaying the message "Water tank empty"; just my luck, I thought and took the jug to the men's room to fill it with water. Putting the water into the machine, I merely succeeded in changing the error message to "Drip tray full." It really was full to overflowing, so I made a second trip to the restroom, carefully carrying the drip-tray horizontally while regretting wearing suede shoes that day :-(

Back at the machine, I found that some inattentive hooray-henry had made himself a coffee despite the drip-tray being missing (stupid machine didn't inhibit that) with the result that there was a mess of coffee dregs overflowing the tabletop where the coffee machine stood :-( A third trip to the restroom was needed to get some paper towels to wipe up his mess :-(

Returning to the machine, I found it now displaying the message "Out of beans, please refill.", so off to Miss Useless to get a fresh bag of coffee beans. She came back with me, and watched me refill the bean hopper, then pushed me aside to get a black coffee for herself.

When it was finally my turn, I selected "Latte Macciato" and pressed the start button. FAIL! The machine now displayed the message "Milk pipe clogged, please clean the machine!" Frust!!!

So I just gave up, went across the road to the copyshop, got my copies made immediately, giving me time to duck into the local coffee shop for my "Latte Macciato", both of which I should have done in the first place to save myself all that frustration and get my blood pressure down to normal :-)

Comments (2)
Ed (USA) wrote "That picture looks like the BB-8 droid von Star Wars got hit by a lightning bolt!" It does, doesn't it. Actually it's part of the Mandelbrot set and thus I meant it to be a reference to Chaos :-)
Doug (Canada) wrote (OT?) " If you have not already discovered this blog : Brainpickings : I think you will be pleased to now." OK. I'll follow it for a few entries and see if I like it, Doug. Thanks for the heads-up.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Ticket avoided ;-)

Several hundred yards ahead of me, as I accelerated my motorcycle smartly out of the long sweeping curve, a cop was pointing his monocular-like LIDAR speed gun at me. By the time I saw him, he was already stepping into the road to flag me down. Oh crap! :-(

So I pulled over resignedly, whipped off my helmet so that he could see I was just a harmless old fogey, & hung my shoulders dejectedly. Body language.

"Ok, Grandad, what excuse this time? But one I've never heard before if you want to get off the ticket!"

Think fast! "Well you've read all about those gravitational waves in the papers? It was one of them that just came through!"

"Say what?"

"They distort space and time. So when the gravitational wave passed through, it compressed the time dimension and dilated the distance dimension. So your LIDAR divided the dilated distance by the compressed time and calculated a faster speed even though I was doing EXACTLY the speed limit! It's general relativity, you see :-)" I smiled innocently.

"Well, that IS a new one, Grandad, so I'm letting you off as promised; but ride more slowly and carefully in future. Have a nice day!" he grinned.

Thank you, Albert Einstein, you saved my bacon :-)

Comments (1)
Doug (Canada) wrote "Tips helmet - effing brilliant, mate :)"

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Unlikely 590 nm limerick ;-)

There once was a King William of Orange,
Who bought some spores in a sporange.
He swapped - not for silver,
But a newly born chilver,
From a mountain in Wales, it's called Blorenge :-)

Comments (1)
Jenny (Ibiza) wrote "That's brilliant, & unique?" Quoting Han Solo "I know".

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

The photocopier fiasco :-(

Awhile back, I was doing some consulting for a UK company in their west-of-London offices in Sluff. Yes I do know it is spelled Slough, but the syllable OUGH in British English has 10 different pronunciations, so I get to pick the one I like least ;-)

Their open plan office was filled with Essex-girl secretaries and assistents, all spectacularly large-breasted and wearing short miniskirts (and it was not even a casual-friday) , but about as bright as a light-bulb with a fused filament. The men in the office all seemed to be hooray-henry salesmen from nearby Henley-on-Thames, competing to see who could conduct the loudest telephone conversation. And despite these two distractions I'm supposed to concentrate?

Having set the scene, let me complain about their stupid photocopier. It was situated out in the corridor, down at the end of the hall, way past the rest-rooms, lest its noise disturb the office "work"? I asked one of the bimbos to make me 3 copies of 4 pages, but she objected that she didn't work for me (actually I never saw her working for anyone else either) but gave me a copy-card so I could make my own copies.

Arriving at the end of the corridor, I saw the copier was displaying a message "Out of paper" on its barely legible tiny LCD display. Of course there was not a single packet of paper in the cupboard on which the copier stood, so I had to traipse back to Miss Useless to get a new packet (she only hands out one at a time!). Meanwhile, it turned out, some hooray-henry had brought his own 2 sheets of paper and made his 2 copies, leaving it empty of paper again, but now with a new error message "Out of toner".

Again, the cupboard was bare of replacements, so I had to traipse back to Miss Useless again to get toner. The toner came as loose powder because some cheapskate bean-counter in the purchasing department had found it to be marginally cheaper than a pop-in toner container. So, holding it well clear of my light-coloured flannel trousers and suede shoes, I tipped toner into the container, getting my sweaty hands filthy in the process :-( I needed a trip to the mens' room to clean the toner off before I could proceed. I then loaded my packet of paper, and pressed the start button. Wrong! Hooray-henry had left the paper-orientation on "landscape" whereas I (and most other people) needed "portrait" so my first copies were useless :-(

It turned out that after refilling the toner you had to press a half-hidden button to tell the stupid copier that you had done so. I didn't know that. So the copier, thinking its toner was almost all gone, tried to print the copies as black as it possibly could. This resulted in my copies being 100% black :-(

Losing my cool, I thumped the copier which responded with the uselessly unspecific error message "Error". A further trip to Miss Useless, who told me just to switch it off and back on again. Which I did, resulting in the error message "Paper jam" :-( So I gave up and went for a coffee; more about my subsequent kafkaesque fight with the coffee machine in a later blogpost ;-)

When you remember that a consultant (me) cost that company upwards of €2000 per day and that the Misses Useless were probably on minimum wage (and overpaid at that!), just think of the savings possible with operating this misbegotten not-copying machine alone!

Comments (2)
John (UK) wrote "Hilarious, but if the bimbo was Useless why did you keep going back to her? ;-)" I saw two big reasons for that ;-)...
Hattie (Hawaii) wrote " Kind of enjoyed your cartoonish narrative about your struggles with office girls, salesmen and copy machines in the good old days. It reminded me of my experiences as a teacher coping with office workers who wanted to limit my access to the copy machine, when I was the one doing the work that our facility was supposed to be about. Their job was defending their territory from invasion by non office workers! " Empire-building is symptomatic of many large corporate and gummint environments.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Valentine's day Photo :-)

Wilma and Blümchen (the pony), kissing over our garden fence :-)

Comments (3)
Jenny (Ibiza) wrote "That IS sweet!" They were good buddies and liked playing together. The pony was faster but the dog could jink better :-)
Isabelle (D) recently adopted a mini-pony which is not much bigger than her dogs and who thinks he is a dog himself, trying to play their games too:-)

Isabelle's mini-pony Skalli playing ball with the dogs :-)

Doug (Canada) tells me that this tradition started in India ;-) " In spite of what you have been told by everyone, the truth is that Valentine's Day originated hundreds of years ago, in India , and to top it all, in Punjab ... It is a well known fact that Punjabi men, continually mistreat and disrespect their wives (Punjabans). One fine day, it happened to be the 14th day of February, one brave Punjaban, having had enough "torture" by her husband, finally chose to rebel by beating him up with a Velan (rolling pin). Yes....the same Velan which she used daily, to make chapattis for him....only this time, instead of the dough, it was the husband who was flattened. This was a momentous occasion for all Punjaban women and a revolt soon spread, like wild fire, with thousands of housewives beating up their husbands with the Velan. There was an outburst of moaning "chapatti-ed" husbands all over Jalandhar and Ludhiana . The Punjabi men-folk quickly learnt their lesson and started to behave more respectfully with their Punjabans. Thereafter, on 14th February, every year, the womenfolk of Punjab would beat up their husbands, to commemorate that eventful day. The wives having the satisfaction of beating up their husbands with the Velan and the men having the supreme joy of submitting to the will of the women they loved. Soon The Punjabi men realised that in order to avoid this ordeal they need to present gifts to their wives....they brought flowers and sweetmeats. Hence the tradition began. As Punjabis came under the influence of Western culture, that day was called 'Velan time' day. The ritual soon spread to Britain and many other Western countries, specifically, the catch words 'Velan time!'. Of course in their foreign tongues, it was first anglicized to 'Velantime' and then to 'Valentine'. And thereafter, 14th of February, came to be known as Valentine's Day!" Actually, the Punjab province is now in Pakistan. In 1947, with the dissolution of British India, the Punjab region was partitioned between India and Pakistan, so I'll give your version half-marks, Doug :-)

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

A precursor to BMI ;-)

Just last week a friend of mine was calculating her BMI (Body Mass Index = body mass divided by the square of the body height, 18 to 25 kg/m2 is normal) for dietary purposes, so I teased her, asking if she knew the method was originally developed for weighing cows ;-)

Back in the first half of the 19th century cows were sold by weight but there were no scales at the cattle markets, so the buyer just had to believe the weight the salesman told him. Or did he?

Not if you were James Chesterman, of Sheffield, England who saw that if he could get an estimate of the volume of the cow then he could use an average bovine density to calculate the weight. He came up with the empirical and necessarily correlative formula : Weight (in lbs.) = 3.35 x Length (in feet) x Girth(in feet) squared. Length was measured from from shoulder to tail and her girth behind the forelegs. BMI stood for Bovine Measuring Instrument ;-)

In 1842 he was even granted a patent for Chesterman's Cattle Gauge which is a combination tape measure and circular slide rule. Measure the girth. Enter it by turning the quadratic scale accordingly. Then measure the length, and starting from that girth2-point continue on around the linear scale until you reach the length. Looking across to the weight scale you can read off the weight estimate directly because the factor 3.35 has been built in to the weight scale offset. How genial is that then?

The Oughtred Society is dedicated to the preservation and history of slide rules and other calculating instruments. They sold a Chesterman's Cattle Gauge at their annual auction. It was bought by Nathan Zeldes of Jerusalem, Israel, who has a possibly interesting website and a good blog about common sense design. Put it on your blogroll; I have :-)

Comments (1)
John (UK) wrote "Funny but wrong :-( Body Mass Index has the dimensions of pressure (M.L-2) whereas Chesterman's calculation has the dimensions of density (M.L-3), so they cannot be related!" You are right of course, my bad!

Monday, February 8, 2016

R.I.P. Bob Snell :-(

Another old friend has shuffled off this mortal coil. Bob and I attended City University (London, UK) together starting in 1962, to get a Physics degree. After graduation we lost sight of one another for decades until meeting again at our 40-year graduation meetup (and later ones too). Whereas I went to Germany, Bob emigrated transatlantic where he pursued a successful career in technical sales (afaik), ever the affable gentleman :-)

We last saw one another 2 years ago in London, where he seemed rather frail to me. Now he has passed on, aged 70. Very sad! Condolences to Pat.

One day this blog will stop suddenly and you can deduce I'd followed him. But until then life goes on : yesterday was dry with +ve temperatures, so I went motorcycling. Bob would have approved :-)

Comments (1)
Ed (USA) wrote "Always hard, losing friends. But why go motorcycling?" The concentration needed to ride fast and blast of cold air blow the blues away :-)

Saturday, February 6, 2016

POTUS candidates from a German POV

Ed (USA) asked "What does the average German think of our top-runners?". This summary is derived from the German yellow press. It is Bild's reply to a selfish "Which POTUS would be best for us?"

Cruz (45) would revoke the Iran Atom-deal[-], criticises TTIP (but so do we) but would increase trade [+], more green cards [+] but tougher border controls, born in Canada (which may eliminate him), right wing theological extremist [-], lawyer[-], (3)millionaire.

Trump (69), militarily unpredictable [-], opposed to TTIP & wants more growth [+], re-importing jobs (good luck with that!). Xenophobe [-], anti-Merkel[-], neo-fascist [-], (5)Billionaire despite multiple bankruptcies, Loudmouth.

Mrs. Clinton (68), will lead anti-ISIS coalition, oppose Putin in Europe[+], Would push TTIP through[-]. Would naturalise 11 million existing illegal immigrants, pro-Merkel, Emailgate as Damocles sword, (100)millionaire. Has government experience [++], pragmatist[+].

Sanders (74), doesn't want to be the world's policeman[-]. Market socialist in the European style [+], would raise minimum wage, regulate banks better. Opposes TTIP[+], would naturalise 11 million existing illegal immigrants, but accept NO more to protect US jobs. Humourless [-], not a millionaire[-], Jewish not Christian which may lose him many fundamentalist votes; too pro-Israel?? Seen as too old ALREADY.

Given this less than desirable array, Germans would probably prefer Mrs. Clinton as being the least disadvantageous to them.

Comments (3)
Doug (Canada) wrote " Well you should certainly be able to guess my choice after all these years :) All those things marked as a negative for Bernie I think are extreme positives, especially not wanting to be the world's policeman." West Germans were grateful for the US presence here during the Cold War, preferring a US "world policeman" to Vlad Putin.
Cop Car (USA) wrote " USA police the world? Bad idea from where I stand. As a result of such efforts: 1) everyone hates the USA, 2) everyone depends upon the USA to do that for which they should take responsibility, themselves, 3) people in the USA feel overworked and underappreciated, etc. Think of how those who are being "policed" feel about parents/teachers/school principals/bosses/other authority figures. Eventually, rebellion sets in. As some would say, "I'm honored that you would select me; but, no thanks!" (Or, as President Lyndon Johnson said, paraphrasing General William Sherman, ""I shall not seek, and I will not accept, the nomination of my party for another term as your president.") " We currently are being invaded by millions of poor migrants (only a small minority of whom are bona fide refugees). German burocracy has proved to be not up to the task of separating the wheat from the chaff; it seems we are not capable of even policing our own borders thanks to the laziness generated by the unmanned Schengen border agreement. Mind you, neither the USA nor Russia are any help, in fact they generate all these refugees by policing bombing the hell out of their homelands AND refuse to take any refugees themselves, Geneva convention etc notwithstanding :-( Result : european countries are rapidly moving right; NOT what we really wanted!
Hattie (Hawaii) wrote " You people in Germany and Britain are accustomed to hard-nosed females in charge, but Americans have a difficult time with the concept. We'll see what happens. Enjoying your blog!" By Yurpeen standards, Sanders would just be an average socialist politician, Clinton further right than Dr. Merkel who is screwing up on the migrants-problem.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Clinton vs. Sanders in Iowa

The news from the Iowa caucus was interesting. On the GOP side, undesirable Cruz beat undesirable Trump. A choice between a rock and a hard place; the devil and the deep blue red sea :-( Hurrah???

But on the Democrat side it was neck and neck between Sanders and Clinton. So much so that SIX precincts were decided by the toss of a coin : Ames County, one Des Moines precinct, another Des Moines precinct, Newton, West Branch and West Davenport. Clinton won ALL six tosses. How likely is that? One chance in 26 = 1 in 64, about 1.6%. However, videos show that no precautions are taken against a biased coin, just a single toss was made.

Is it possible to get a fair (balanced) result using a biased coin? Yes it is, by pairwise tossing as described below.

Let's assume we have a coin that is biased 60% to 40% in favour of "heads". Then obviously a single toss is unfair. But if we toss the coin twice then the chance of two heads is 60% of 60% = 36%. The chance of two tails is 40% of 40% =16%. And the chances of Heads then Tails, or Tails then Heads, are 60% of 40% = 40% of 60% = 24% each. A fair and balanced result from tossing a biased coin twice.

So we toss the (potentially biased) coin twice. If the same result crops up twice (H-H or T-T) then we discard that result and double-toss again (as often as necessary) until we get H-T or T-H. Say Sanders chose H-T and Clinton got T-H. Then a T-H result would indicate a Clinton win.

As I pointed out, no precautions were taken against a biased coin :-( Maybe election officials in the USA do not have a sufficient grasp of elementary probability theory to understand my method, let alone explain it to Fox News or even the electorate. Math education is neglected in the US, methinks :-(

So there we have it : Clinton and Sanders, a couple of tossers ;-)

Comments (5)
Big Ed [sic!] (USA) asks "So what does the average German think of our top-runners? General opinion, not just your own." I'll have to research that Ed and then I'll make the reply a separate post, OK?
Jenny (Ibiza) wrote "But they were 6 DIFFERENT coins." I understand that. I merely designed a method to get a fair result from tossing a single potentially biased coin repeatedly. NOT the same as tossing two coins at once. It has to be the same coin (=the same bias) tossed pairwise, so that the sequence H-T or T-H is the deciding factor, the bias cancelled out. This method could (and should) have been used at all 6 locations.
John (UK) quips "And what if the coin landed on its edge? ;-)" Then Bush gets appointed preznit and the "election" is shown for the farce that it is ;-) As regards my method; it still works even if P(H+T)<100% :-)
Doug (Canada) sent a link " If you think your explanation is too difficult for 'muricans - see how it really works " I had no idea that a caucus was THAT confusing :-)
Renke (D) writes " It's even more weird: No one really knows the number of coin tosses :-) The whole process is surreal, they should have gone with Chicken Bingo to determine the winner."

Monday, February 1, 2016

Around PI ;-)

On his way to Stuttgart this morning, my friend Frank stopped off at the Mathematics Museum in Giessen (which we had initially visited 3 years ago) and sent me this photo of the PI wall via WhatsApp.

So, by way of a reply, I messaged him that "circles are divided into 360°, but do you know why? They have something to do with PI too. So count off the first 359 digits of PI after the decimal point and look at the next three ;-)" If he does so, he will find that those three digits are 3 6 0 ! What a happy coincidence ( and a circular argument) ;-)

Recent Writings
Kafka's coffee-machine
Ticket avoided ;-)
Unlikely 590 nm limerick
The photocopier fiasco
Valentine's day Photo :-)
A precursor to BMI ;-)
R.I.P. Bob Snell
POTUS candidates
Clinton vs. Sanders
Around PI ;-)
Autocompleted Profile
Five planets in a row
Faerie Ice :-)
Ireland Tour tips please
Teasing the Teacher ;-)
The Sixth Continent
Border Control
3D Blogging attempt

Ain Bulldog Blog
Balloon Juice
Commonsense Design
Cop Car
Earth-Bound Misfit
Fail Blog
Finding life hard?
Hattie (Hawaii)
Making Light
Mostly Cajun
Not Always Right
Observing Hermann
Rants from t'Rookery
Scary Duck
Spork in the drawer
Squatlo Rant
Yellowdog Grannie

Archive 2016:
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Archive 2014:
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This Blog's Status is
Blog Dewey Decimal Classification : 153
FWIW, 153 is a triangular number, meaning that you can arrange 153 items into an equilateral triangle (with 17 items on a side). It is also one of the six known truncated triangular numbers, because 1 and 15 are triangular numbers as well. It is a hexagonal number, meaning that you can distribute 153 points evenly at the corners and along the sides of a hexagon. It is the smallest 3-narcissistic number. This means it’s the sum of the cubes of its digits. It is the sum of the first five positive factorials. Yup, this is a 153-type blog. QED ;-)
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