• Reykjaví­k To Rotterdam

    There’s an interesting festival coming up in November: Reykjavík to Rotterdam, featuring music, dance, movies and art from our beloved island up north.

    Gigs I’d be interested in attending are Hafdís Huld and Apparat Organ Quartet, but then there are also the movies, with Baltasar Kormákur present for Q and A. Full programme already.

    I’ll have to see what will come of that, as usual I tend to overestimate my time and money ;)

    Funny thing I noticed that I once met the secretary of the festival at the [Sigur Rós concert back in July 2005]/muziek/2005/07/14/sigur-ros-paradiso-2.html)… Small world :)

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  • Maí­stjarnan

    Here’s another beautiful Icelandic song, Maístjarnan (the May star). By Halldór Laxness, written in 1937.

    ó hve létt er þitt skóhljóð
    og hve lengi ég beið þín,
    þar er vorhret á glugga,
    napur vindur sem hvín,
    en ég veit eina stjörnu,
    eina stjörnu sem skín,
    og nú loks ertu komin,
    þú ert komin til mín.

    Það eru erfiðir tímar,
    það er atvinnuþref,
    ég hef ekkert að bjóða,
    ekki ögn sem ég gef,
    nema von mína og líf mitt
    hvort ég vaki eða sef,
    þetta eitt sem þú gafst mér
    það er alt sem ég hef.

    En í kvöld lýkur vetri
    sérhvers vinnandi manns,
    og á morgun skín maísól,
    það er maísólin hans,
    það er maísólin okkar,
    okkar einíngarbands,
    fyrir þér ber ég fána
    þessa framtíðarlands.

    Oh how light are your footsteps,
    Oh how long have I waited for you,
    There is spring rain on the window,
    Cold whistling wind,
    but I know one star,
    one shining star,
    and now finally are you coming,
    you are coming to me.

    It are hard times,
    there’s not a lot work,
    I’ve got nothing to offer,
    not a bit which I give,
    except my hope and my life,
    whether I’m awake or asleep.
    This one thing you gave me,
    that is all I have.

    But tonight winter ends
    for every working man,
    and in the morning shines the May star,
    that is his May sun,
    that is our May sun,
    our uniting bond.
    For you I carry the flag
    of this land’s future.

    The song being written in 1937, when Iceland was still a dependent nation under Danish flag – the Dannebrog – I assume “the flag of this land’s future” being a forward reference to the current flag and thus independence.

    I’m not sure what the May star is, but I would say it is the sun, having returned with full force, starting to lighten up (and warm up!) the country after the hard and dark winter. Since a few days, Iceland doesn’t have a civil twilight anymore for three months to come; the sun sets and doesn’t go more than 6° under the horizon before climbing again for a new day.

    Update I’m now a bit more educated and it’s clear to me now that the May star is an obvious symbolism for socialism; “this land’s future” referring to a future in socialism. Halldór Laxness was known to be attracted to socialism. He said that he “did not become a socialist in America from studying manuals of socialism but from watching the starving unemployed in the parks”.

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  • Making a static copy of a Wordpress blog

    After Abraracourcix the Iceland blog was next to move places.

    The weblog is a Wordpress installation and thus the content is dynamically generated by PHP, using data in a MySQL database. This dynamic behavior is unnecessary for a weblog that has been closed and I therefore ventured on a plan to download the full website and make it available as a rather large set of plain static HTML files.

    The first step you’d like to take when doing this is checking that the directory structure of the pages is to your liking. A standard Wordpress installation leaves a pretty clean structure: directories for each year, one for categories. If you have pages, they will show up with directories of their own.

    These directories don’t actually exist on the server but are constructed by URL rewriting on the side of Wordpress. Very nice.

    Now you take wget and run it once over your entire site, for me it was wget -nv -r http://ijsland.luijten.org/. If you now look inside the HTML files, you’ll notice lots of absolute hypertext references back to your own site. This is because of the options home and siteurl in Wordpress you’ll want to change. I changed them both to /.

    Next I went into the theme files (make a backup of them) and removed all forms, like search and comment forms. I also removed any reference to RSS feeds and other scripts from the header. You may also want to remove eventual Feedburner references for tracking visitors.

    The site is now ready for one last sweep with wget.

    If you find that some images of the layout aren’t loaded correctly, it might be that they are referenced from the CSS file and not directly from any HTML files. You’ll have to open the CSS file and download these images yourself.

    Don’t forget to make a backup of the database, you might want to reopen the weblog somewhere in the future!

    So, next time you’re at http://ijsland.luijten.org/, you’re being served static HTML files by lighttpd.

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  • Migration successful

    Over the weekend, I have transferred the web site from Abraracourcix to Sunny. I’m in the process of slowly phasing out Abraracourcix’ services, eventually moving the hard disk into Sunny and then put it to a well deserved sleep.

    My own mail setup has been moved to Sunny already, the other accounts will follow somewhere in the next few weeks.

    The web server changed from Apache to lighttpd and so far, I’m pretty satisfied with it. Configuration is a breeze, it responds quickly, logs are in the common logfile format so the local Webalizer statistics also still work, there’s an RRDtool plugin which makes it pretty easy to construct graphs of the web traffic (also per virtual host or even for specific directories).

    Abraracourcix has been my personal server for more than 7 years. It was a router for the internet connection at my parents’ home and before that it used to be my desktop. In 2003, operations moved to Spacelabs where it became the main web and e-mail server for the luijten.org domain, serving up all static web content and doing SMTP and IMAP.
    Especially the latter service is very heavy for this Pentium 166 with only 48 MB RAM, so it had to go off the machine.

    Sunny is a Sun Ultra 5 desktop machine with a UltraSparc IIi at 360 MHz and 256 MB RAM, which should be able to hold up the load a bit longer. I got this somewhere in 2005 from Tilburg University who were dumping their old hardware.

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  • From Cultur to Commerz

    Ampelmann anno 1998

    Ampelmann anno 2007

    Ampelmann became big business in little more than a few years. Back then, a t-shirt was all you could get. Now there are mouse pads, ice cubes, reflectors, bags, et cetera. Back then the shirt was a protest against the Westernisation of the traffic lights in former East-Berlin. Now it is just another souvenir, be it one with history.

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  • Rivella coming to Europe!

    Yeeeh, Rivella is going to be marketed throughout Europe, according to the readers of Frank-ly! (Hint: whois drinkme.nl, Heineken is owner of Vrumona, thanks to the research-fu of the visitors of Frank-ly ;-))

    Update: Yes! As a little ‘thank you’ note for all the free advertisement, Vrumona decided to put the stuff in new soft PET bottles (yuck) and raised the price by 20%! Hooray! As a side note, Schweppes’ stuff is also affected by this.

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  • Go Mentos á Sprengisandi

    While it is not very uncommon to see advertisers go to Iceland to use the magnificient landscape as a backdrop for their productions (Axe also does it= for their self-tanning body lotion stuff by the way), it is pretty uncommon to hear Icelandic folksongs on Dutch television.

    Mentos in their new series of demonstrating the freshness of their stuff show the people of Grundafjurdhuhurdhur (actually there is a town called Grundarfjörður on the Snæfellsnes peninsula) involved in some refreshing bath in the fjord filled with Mentosessess (pun intended).

    Another installment shows the refreshing of some guy’s mouth by first throwing a bucket over his head to protect the others from the bad smell and then hanging him in some construction to put him headfirst in a tub filled with Mentosses.

    Anyway, the song they sing at the end is a song about a horseback tour through the Sprengisandur desert. It’s called á Sprengisandi and was written by Grímur Thomsen who lived from 1820 to 1896:

    Ríðum, ríðum og rekum yfir sandinn,
    rennur sól á bak við Arnarfell,
    hér á reiki er margur óhreinn andinn,
    úr því fer að skyggja á jökulsvell;
    Drottinn leiði drösulinn minn,
    drjúgur verður síðasti áfanginn.

    Þey þey! þey þey! Þaut í holti tóa,
    þurran vill hún blóði væta góm,
    eða líka einvher var að hóa
    undarlega digrum karlaróm.
    útilegumenn í ódáðahraun
    eru kannski að smala fé á laun.

    Ríðum, ríðum og rekum yfir sandinn,
    rokkrið er að síga á Herdubreið
    álfadrottning er að beisla gandinn,
    ekki er gott að verða á hennar leið
    Vænsta klárinn vildi ég gefa til
    að vera kominn ofan í Kiðagil.

    The first strophe roughly translates to:

    Ride, ride, ride over the sand,
    Run with the sun behind Arnarfell,
    Bad spirits/winds come and go here.
    Dusk is falling on the gletscher ice,
    God leads my horse,
    Long will be the last stage.

    You won’t find a Icelander that doesn’t know this song. It’s quite funny to hear this familiar tune in an advertisement, since we also had it at the Icelandic course last August as part of our cultural programme :-)

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  • RSS, two and a half years later

    Two and a half years ago I wrote an article (has it been that long, time really flies) about the state and future of RSS. I thought it would be nice to revisit this article and delibrate on the next steps.

    The first problem I brought up was the fact that it is a poll system, as opposed to an event-based system. I asserted that if RSS wants to be successful, it has to be converted into a push method. Well, I was quite wrong :-) It turned out to be so successful that there are now companies and services that only publish RSS feeds from other feeds (Feedburner, Yahoo! Pipes).

    Something which developed very quickly during the end of 2004 was a thing called podcasting. Audio and video files are enclosed in the RSS feed and can be automatically downloaded by a newsreader or “podcatcher”. Many podcasts exist, most are of questionable quality, but some stand out, just like with written weblogs.

    The idea of podcasting caught quite a bit of attention and the relatively simple technology behind it created a slew of more or less successful ideas. Apple thought of photocasting where the iPhoto application creates RSS feeds with an item for each photo that is to be published. Other users of iPhoto can then subscribe to the feed and get automatic updates of others’ photos. It didn’t really catch on, although Flickr is now offering RSS feeds with photos enclosed which can be used with iPhoto (or any other feed reader, for that matter).


    In Free Software development circles, a Python script called Planet became popular to aggregate the weblogs of the many developers working on a project. The Hackergotchi, a small picture with or without fancy drop shadow to identify authors of the different posts was born.

    The simple way in which RSS feeds can be parsed and extended, thanks to XML, generates new applications every day. RSS no longer is solely a way of delivering blog content to the end user, it isn’t even bound to things happening over time anymore. It has become a standardized way to exchange content of any kind.

    It is an important step in the becoming of the semantic web, where every piece of information is put into context and accessible from anywhere using any device. It was a driving force in the success of the Web 2.0 bubble which didn’t burst like the first.

    Advertising companies understood the possibilities of RSS and started offering advertisements for inclusion in feeds, either in the form of a banner in the footer of posts, or as advertorials in separate feed items.

    Creative Commons - Some rights reserved

    Recently, a discussion about the copyrights of feeds came up when some people discovered that their feeds were aggregated by a commercial site which put advertisements in their posts (thereby possibly exercising their fair-use rights). They responded by relicensing the feed under a non-commercial Creative Commons license. They have no problem with people earning money with what they write, they do have a problem with people earning money with their writings without sharing or even telling.

    So, what do you think, will the article I will write two and a half years from now still be about RSS? Or will we arrive at a better technology? What will be the challenges for the next years? Will this technology or its successor ever become so user friendly your mother would use it?

    I’ve added comments to the site, just follow the link below and leave a message!

    Update: I found this little video trying to explain RSS in plain English. I think this still is way too technical, but it’s a start.

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