Proportional Representation

I wrote earlier on Proportional Representation here (previously) and this topic needs some minor updates. Douglas Amy’s link now resolves to FairVote (“Common criticism of PR”) – and this looks like the same article that I linked to, so many years ago – 2004!

Looking at the recent win of an (extreme) right party in The Netherlands (see: Wilders wins elections) this seems like a fair moment to shoot down PR systems. Go ahead – but hold on as well: The PVV (Wilders party) won the elections because it gained most of the seats in the Lower Chamber – 37. The total number of seats is 150 – which means that the PVV has to form some sort of coalition to be able to form a cabinet. This looks fairly impossible – unless other Dutch parties (like the Liberals/VVD) are willing to be associated with extreme right politicians from the PVV. Everything points to a minority government – and if so – I expect the PVV having to turn against their own party principles because – they are so out of line with the common core Dutch (liberal) principles. Governing is different than having hollow slogans.

My expectation is that any newly formed cabinet will fall – and that there will be an election within a year.

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Last week’s biggest news was the loss of the Titan submersible (full Wikipedia article here). Out of the top of my head, the submersible had 5 passengers and was on an exploration tour (expedition?) to the Titanic wreck (Wikipedia article – of course). It got lost around Father’s Day of 2023 – and for 3 or 4 days authorities were hoping to find it – only to report that it’s wreckage had been located and that the submersible’s pressure hull had imploded around the time its mothership lost contact.

The thing that stood by most was the criticism of director James Cameron (also famous for designing these submersibles himself and still world record holder as the person who went went down the Mariana’s Trench, 10,000+ meters). In an interview the famous Titanic director and deep sea explorer criticized both the search operation and the CEO of Oceangate. Apparently, due to how the submersible was constructed, Oceangate was warned about possible future disaster (BBC).

That brings me to a book that is sort of related to this and was in the past seen as a very curious coincidence after the Titanic disaster and (now sort of) the loss of the Titan. Hear me out:


In 1898, the author Morgan Robertson wrote the book “Futility”, which describes the the Titan – the fastest and unsinkable passenger ship which sinks after it hits an iceberg. The protagonist and 13 others survive miraculously. The book has a love story, someone is being drugged and worst yet – man’s favourite sin – there’s a cover-up going on. There are so many similarities between the Titanic and this book that Robertson was frequently asked if he was clairvoyant – which he denied: according to him, he was just an expert in maritime shipbuilding and passenger ships.

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In the last 15 years or so, I’ve gone thru my share amount of computers – initially starting with laptops – then moving back to desktop computers. As a matter of fact – since I went to Canada, I’ve used a laptop as my main driver until – 2016. So: I thought it might be a good idea to go thru the computers that served as my main PC for these years – primarily for coding and then gaming. To spill the beans – this list includes an honourary mention to a MacBook Pro:

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OSINT and MH17

As mentioned and posted earlier (here), there have been so many events that happened that it’s hard to pick out topics. However – one of the things that stands out is the rise of OSINT or “open source intelligence”:

[…] is the collection and analysis of data gathered from open sources (covert sources and publicly available information [PAI]) to produce actionable intelligence.

Wikipedia on OSINT

One of the groups using OSINT and became famous for it, is the group Bellingcat (main page): a group of independent journalists and private citizens that rose to the limelight because of their excellent MH17 research (Bellingcat link to their MH 17 investigations). One thing that Bellingcat did really well was filtering raw data into factual information.

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USS Tang

I recently read the book “Sink ‘Em All’, written by Vice Admiral Lockwood (Amazon link). It tells the story of the American submarine warfare in WW2 – strategy, wins and losses. The book tells the story of many of the more famous submarines, including the USS Wahoo and USS Tang. However, as many typical American historical books it tells the story of the war from a US perspective and leaves out some of the personal and tragic stories.

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Dutch truck

Dutch truck

n. 1. A mobile store that sells Dutch treats, food items and goodies. Typically operated by a person knowledgeable on Dutch things. 2. informal A person who walks into a private conversation and manages to change the subject of discussion.

ex: When discussing local politics with my friends, John suddenly joined the discussion and asked the participants what people thought of the size of the current Big Macs. Like a true Dutch truck, John single-handedly managed to distract us from the true issues.

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Fandro 2 (Winforms)

Back in 2014, I mentioned briefly that I had started on the .Net version of Fandro (see:

No timelines as of yet, though, but technically, the main algorithm was finished a couple of days ago. Time permitting, I expect at least something out by the end of the month

When I rekindled the project, a few months ago (using a private git service before pushing it to github (see:, I remembered I got stuck on a very specific piece of code that kept causing grief and hard errors during the threaded search and the actual call to the BMH routine:

int[] bad_shift = new int[255];

When I picked up the code (February 2023), it clearly made more sense that the bad shift array should actually include the full character set – like so:

 int[] bad_shift = new int[char.MaxValue + 1];
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We’re in there

One of life’s crazy things is that one is always too busy. Work. Pets. Family. Hobby-coding. Driving. Walking. More coding. And finally, just more coding.

We’re back after a hiatus. A long one. It’s 2023 and the last time I updated this, was in 2014. I have a story to tell. I have many quotes to share.

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It’s the end of the year and

It’s the end of the year and inventorying some of the server stuff, I noticed that this section has not been updated since May-ish. Nor has the site’s software been upgraded. I still plan to use the weblog (I always hated that word), but I have no idea about the frequency. Maybe a couple of posts a month. For now, random bits about the year of 2014:

  • The biggest story of 2014 was the plane disaster above the Ukraine (wikipedia). There were a lot of Indo-Dutch people on this flight which end destination was Indonesia. I (and fellow former Dutch citizens) was horrified to see that the Dutch government squirm its way to find a proper response. Their first goal would have been immediate repatriation of the dead1.
  • The other plane disaster, MH317 (wikipedia) still has many internet “conspirilogists” (I made up that word) think up many new ways how this plane could have disappeared. I’m with CNN: it was a black hole.
  • Now that I have a border collie mix, I also have started uploading videos of the long road to train her to become a dog – If you like dogs, feel free to watch the playlist (Youtube, Pepper videos)

For now, a good New Year’s eve and see you on the other side of the year.

1 That said, excellent repatriation process (cbc link) for the victims tho.

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You heard it here first: I’ve started working on a successor to Fandro (at xsamplex), mainly because, firstly, I love diving into these kind of algorithms. Secondly, Fandro’s popularity (for an app written in the Windows XP age) surprised me. Thirdly, Fandro required a reboot, because well, while it still works, obviously, there are issues with the current app. We’re moving to computers with higher DPI screens and 64-bit computers.

For a second I actually considered rewriting Fandro in FreePascal but I’ve decided to focus on C# for now: Yes, that will mean that most likely, I’ll open-source it. And yes, if time permits, I’ll even add side comments about how NOT to do text searches.

No timelines as of yet, though, but technically, the main algorithm was finished a couple of days ago. Time permitting, I expect at least something out by the end of the month.

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The Jolly Season

Let’s start with the major news of the last 5 or 7 days: The disappearance of flight MA 370 (Wikipedia). Last week, the Malaysian authorities have shown a lack of competence in the handling of news regarding the lost plane. From looking at the wrong location, holding back crucial radar information, suggesting the wrong race for the people who travelled with stolen passports and now, it finally looks like that they are ready to blame the flight crew of Flight 370.

Closer to home: There are elections in Quebec and unsurprisingly, this election round is full of Quebec sovereignty talks. There’s an excellent analysis (link) at the CBC:

One of the aspects about sovereignty that makes it so difficult to sell, even to strong Quebec nationalists, is the list of unknowns. Uncertainty, after all, makes both individuals and market forces (i.e. jobs) very nervous.

And last but not least: the Crimea affair. I highly doubt that either the US or (particularly) Europe will stop Russia from claiming the Crimea. One can only hope that the Russians aren’t seriously thinking of taking over that Ukrainian region: the precedents that they have been creating sound similar like the preludes that started so many wars. Tomorrow’s (illegitimate) referendum in the Crimea to join Russia will tell what is going to happen.

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Holy, Months

Holy moly, I’ve not updated since last year? Preposterous! Might just as well give it ago:

The worst part of 2013’s last days was the rainstorm annex ice storm that hit parts of Ontario and NB: In our region, I recall people being out of power for over a week while temperatures dipped down to the -20s (Celsius). I tend to frequently bring up the power restoring issues when Juan hit Truro back in 2003: however, having no power nor backup heat while it’s -20 degrees out? I’d pick out Juan as my preferred ‘out-of-power’ event. Technically, I believe this Winter is going to be one of the worst I’ve seen here: Fluctuating temperatures from + 4 to -20s and way too much snow.

I don’t think I’ve mentioned it here, but since early September we decided to bring back home a puppy. Welcome to Pepper, our overlord border collie/australian something mix. Now that’s she’s also been legally fixed (‘spayed’), it’s time to get her agility training (SLYT) going.

And last but not least, forthcoming coding projects this year include a ‘diff tool’, a ‘zip tool’ and hopefully, a wrapped-up ‘SQL tool’. And some of that.

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Steam stuff

Having been on Steam now for over 10 years (really): I remember the days that Reddit’s most popular games delivery system was oh so unstable and bug-ridden. I also remember ordering my very first Steam game on-line, which was X3-Reunion. It was a brilliant game that I played on a Toshiba laptop.

Anyway: Steam’s making its foray into the consoles world via their SteamOS (Wikipedia, Valve): a Linux-based OS that will run all current Linux Steam games. Valve is (reportedly) talking to third-party publishers to publish games for this new OS. If this concept will, lets say bear games: who knows. Generally speaking, if successful, it may finally put Linux to the fore. I’m personally excited to be able to run SteamOS on my crappy laptops.

Last but not least a critical note: I sort of agree that thanks to Steam a lot of crappy games have been published and it almost looks like game devs and publishers don’t care in what state their software is. For example, Egosoft’s “X-Rebirth”, a product that supposedly took 7 years to be developed, was released as a full product a couple of weeks ago. I’ll be frank: it’s horrible, ridden with bugs and while it works, heavily un-optimized. I gave up after playing a 9 hours into the campaign mode. I’ve yet to decide if I’ll wait for any updates or not: My impression is that while Egosoft went to the bank (“EXCELLENT SALES!!1”), that their X-Universe IP is soon to expire. I hope not, but yeah, that bad.

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