Not travelling

I have made few somewhat painful personal decisions and radically cut down the amount of international travel I do. Travelling might be something we are told we have to do, that our careers require it, and that internationalisation or globalisation even dictates that we should be flying around the globe all the time, busily collaborating with everyone else. But why? Don’t we really have any communicational tools that we could use to cut down this insane waste of time, energy — both human energy and precious reserves of natural energy, turning it into carbon dioxide? I think we can do better. I was supposed to present game studies papers in two important conferences, CHI 2008 in Italy, and Crossroads conference of cultural studies in Jamaica. It was a real pity, but I decided not to go. Continue reading “Not travelling”

Using Gravatars in WP2.5

Edit: this site should now support gravatar images, and I recommend going to and registering a character/image to your email address. This helps identifying people who comment and participate in blogosphere discussions.

I have updated the software running this blog into WordPress 2.5 which brings along some nice, behind the scenes enhancements. One thing that could also show here in the user side is Gravatar support: it adds ‘global avatar’ images next to your comments automatically. But there is still something wrong with this, or I just could not get it to work. I tried editing comments.php with these sets of instructions, but I would only get empty ‘default gravatar’ images:

Spring seminar 2008


Breaking the Magic Circle seminar is well underway, and the first three sessions take place today, more to follow tomorrow. Another intense two-day period, meeting of minds, exchange of ideas. Great! (You can see the two commentators, Simon Niedenthal and Markus Montola in the front row.) More:

Edit: the seminar was an obvious success — many thanks to you all. Lets see what kind of publications will spawn out of it; meanwhile, we agreed to have presentation slides and photos available tagged with ‘breakingmagiccircle’. See:


My original plan was to update the companion website of my textbook — — daily, until I’d be satisfied of reaching representative coverage of this field. In reality most of the days have been so packed, I have just collapsed to bed (and got up again around 5–6 am). But I have now build a new schedule, where I focus all updates of one week to one evening/morning. That way, I should have my plan fulfilled by the end of this Spring term. Lets see how this works out.

DYI: home sensor networks

Wireless thermometers

This is probably the most tightly budgeted version of moving towards a home sensor network. After comparing few real IP network solutions (and after testing one in our research project), I decided to stay away from them and rely on cheap consumer electronics to do those individual tasks that we need. Thus, to measure temperatures and moistures from various parts of our house, I got a weather centre from Clas Ohlson (a Nordic electronics chain) and few extra wireless sensor units. This particular model (UPM, model number 36-2384) can take four external sensors, all equipped with temperature and humidity sensors. And how to know what is the temperature in sauna? Clas Ohlson comes to help, again. Just pick up a wireless pair of oven thermometers (model number 34-6723), and there you go. And you have various alarm functions build in, too. But no centralised controls, full log files, remote controlling or other such sweet IT things, of course.


Suppose you are carrying around several devices, most of them Wi-Fi enabled, and that you want to use 3G data for that online traffic while on the road? One solution that is out there is Joikuspot, free software that is designed to transform S60 mobile phone into a Wi-Fi hotspot. No more plugging in cables from your laptop, and a device like Apple iPhone, Nokia Internet Tablet (N810) or a Wi-Fi enabled camera (remember that Eye-Fi SD card?) can now go online everywhere on 3G coverage area, as long as your S60 battery runs. More:

Home music, Heima

The Heima movie poster

Music and dance are those areas of expressive phenomena that have power to address emotions more directly than the conceptual thought, text, or speech.

Images have also wide scope of communicational potential that often escapes any conceptual definition.

Music videos are an area where many of these strengths supposedly come together. Sadly, they seldom reach their true potential.

This weekend I have been watching and listening to Heima, a film by Sigur Rós. A group of Islandic musicians, this documentary relates to the significance Iceland as spiritual, historical and geographical home has to its people. Powerful visual as well as musical experience, the movie manages to touch, move and impress. It stirs emotions and inspires thought.

This is definitely a film that any lover of photography will appreciate. The care it pays to shadow and light, textures on sand, stone, old wall and on human face is impeccable. Some parts actually look like slideshows of images, taken of still life.

The two-disk DVD is of high technical quality, but it is also possible to download a trailer clip that shows some of this material in full HD — amazing! I have been trying to see if this is available in Blue-ray, but so far, no success. You can access the HD trailer here:

(Thanks go to John, who mentioned how they had enjoyed watching this film.)

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