More spam poetry

Cleaned out my spam again, deleted the via*ra stuff out, and this was what was left. Random, bizarre, strangely beautiful.


Just answer my question

We only have 15 minutes between classes to pack together our equipment, move to another part of the building, and set up the computer or whatever in the next room. Not a lot of time, and I usually spend the time also reviewing what I will be doing while I am fighting with the beamer.

I am in the lab trying to coax my laptop to connect to the Internet. Stu Dent enters, he speaks German with a Russian accent.

Stu: Where do I get the login forms for these computers? [in German]
Me: We passed them out on orientation day. [in English]
Stu: Where do I get the login forms for these computers? [in German]
Me: We passed them out on orientation day. [in German]
Stu: Where do I get the login forms for these computers? [in German]
Me: [$%&§] What program are you in? [in German]
Stu: The first semester. [in German]
Me: [$%&§$%&§$%&§] What program are you in? [in English]
Stu: The first semester. [in German]
Me: [$%&§$%&§$%&§$%&§$%&§$%&§] What program are you in? [in German]
Stu: International Complexification
Me: Hey Stu, you better get used to speaking English, because many courses in that program are in English!
Stu: Where do I get the login forms for these computers? [in German]
Me: We passed them out on orientation day!!!! [in English]
Stu: I just want a login form for these computers. [in German]

He leaves.

I return to fighting with the beamer, now one minute to go until class starts.

He returns.

Stu: What is your name? [in German]
Me: [I give him my name and add that I am a professor. In German]
Stu: What is your name? [in German]
Me: I just told you my name, it's [my name]!
Stu: I'm gonna report you to the dean!
Me: [Smile. I'm the vice dean.]

Ah dear. I don't think he will survive the semester. The form is also available on the web site, if you didn't attend orientation. But that would involve navigating the site.


Google Wave: Is it fun yet?

One of my Web 2.0 thesis students invited me to Wave so that he could have someone to wave with. He gave me an invite, so here I am. Duh. What do I do now?

I put a pic in my profile, and then Google told me:

This is exactly the way I want it. Thank you.


Men who Hate Women: The Movie

Just saw Men who Hate Women on DVD. We bought it in Sweden because we just missed the first movie in the theaters and the second one wasn't to be out until we were gone. The Swedish Embassy showed it the night before it opened in German in Germany as Verblendung, but I had handball that night, so only WiseMan saw it. So since he is up in Stockholm meeting with all sorts of folks, I made a great dinner and then curled up.

Condensing this massive volume into a movie, even a longish one like this one which clocks in at 2 1/2 hours, is a difficult task. A lot of the very many side stories that Stieg Larsson so craftily wove into the story to lead you astray had to disappear. Also, the journalism involved in producing the story is collapsed into a party at the office and some headlines.

But the movie is very well done, great music and the two main actors do an excellent job - they fit right in with the ideas I had in my mind about who these two were, although I had Mikael down as being a bit handsomer. But Nyquist is sooooo well-known (for example in Så som i himmelen) I suppose he is just handsome by definition.

Do see the movie - but read the book first, because it would spoil the book to know how it turns out.

Fun with the Pre - not

Okay, Pre is out of the box, SIM card is activated, I am logged on. I'm using one of my many Googlemail accounts that speaks English, I was using this one for the Android in order to upload my contacts.

My Mac Address Book always asks me to put in my contacts last name first, so I do, and it sorts nicely by last name. Uploading to Googlemail they were written in the field "Lastname Firstname", and the Android managed to understand this. The Pre, however, reads the fields as "Firstname Lastname", so now everyone is stored under their first names! Duh, like metadata hasn't been invented yet! All right, I'll just sort my data by "Firstname", and we are back in business.

Now let's hit the calendar. My alter ego is allowed to see all of my calendars. And indeed, soon my little Pre (I think it needs a name soon) has a list of all the calendars - but it didn't take the colors I have assigned! In my Mac iCal *and* with Google calendars I have work appointments in green 'cause that is the school color. Ah, okay, I can assign the calendars colors. Why don't they use the ones I already have assigned? Grumble. But still no dates. Maybe it needs some time to download my years worth of data.

The gestures are nice and smooth, though. The positioning is off by a city block. I was at work, though, when the picture was taken, my car is not there, just the neighbor's. My garden table is out, though, so it was in the summer.

So, let's calculate the way to work. Duh. Berlin has a gazillion streets with the same name. It calculates the one to the street in the alphabetically first listed part of town. Okay, try another street nearby. Okay, sort of. It says 20 minutes (hahaha, fit of laughter at that) and routes me through the worst traffic jam part of the way. No thanks!

I manage to get the WLAN hooked up (save on small download amount, 200 MB before it gets throttled, that's nothing these days) and fire up Twitter. Now I need a real Twitter app. Typing with my thumbnails is kind of, well, strange. But the gestures kind of grow on you.

Will continue this saga....

Update: the calendar still won't behave, but I got it hooked up to the eduroam at work today - very painlessly. But ohmymy, it needs a lot of electricity, must be plugged in every night!

Error: "Frau Prof. Dr." does not exist

I was just at the O2 store to get my new Palm Pre this afternoon. The guy gave me page 4 to sign, and I asked to see pages 1-3 as well. He handed them to me, and I saw that it said "Herr Dr.". I did a quick body check, but I appeared to be unchanged from the morning. I requested that this be changed, and suggested that he enter in "Frau Prof. Dr.", the whole 9 yards as a sort of compensation.

He cheerfully did this, then sent me off to shop while O2 did a credit check on my. I 'm sure this is a plot to get us to spend money, which of course I did because I found the cute peacock I don't have in my collection yet.

On returning he got out my precious box, scanned in the bar code, pressed the button - and got an error. Hmm. He tried it again. He laughed. I asked what was so funny. He turned the screen to show me - "Frau Prof. Dr. is not a valid title. Please select a valid title from the list!" Except that the list did not let him either edit or select.

He called the central office. They suggested starting over. He started over, but again: no such title. He called back - there has to be some way to get this solved! He was put on hold, and eventually he was put through with someone. He explained the problem, and spelled the title for the guy on the other end. Then he was asked to restart the system. Now it worked!

It turned out that they had actually gotten hold of a Real Programmer with access to the database on a Saturday afternoon. He had added the title "Frau Prof. Dr." to the database so that the transaction could clear. The only version in the database had been "Frau Prof. Dr" (without the final period).

Aren't you glad they so rigorously check for errors? But O2 does get extra points for solving the problem in real time.

Poetic Spam

I was wading through the spam in my private E-Mail account (our spam killer at work does a really great job) and had clicked on all of these to have them deleted. I realized that these lines actually make a rather poetic statement, only the line in German seems to be a bit out of place.

The rest is just bizarre and seems to be just random words taken from the Internet (except the male tool bit).

Maybe I can start a new genre: found spam poetry.

Overbooked Dreams

Last night I dreamed that I had booked lunch today with four (4) different people, two of which I could not remember the names of. The three I didn't end up eating with put on pouting faces before I woke, sweat drenched.

I was really kind of worried heading off for work.

But no, the only person expecting to have lunch with me was the nice person booked in my calendar whom we want to hire for our department. So I had a lovely lunch and no dirty looks - in the cafeteria I was in, at any rate. Wonder how many other people waited for me for lunch today?


Breakfast on the Spree

WiseMan is on a business trip this week, so I seem to be spending more time than ever at work. This morning I only have a 10 am meeting instead of 8 am classes and 5 pm meetings, so I was looking forward to sleeping in.

As I brushed my teeth I realized that I left important papers for the meeting at our old campus on my desk in the new campus. Drat. But I had read that the new mensa on the Spree offers breakfast. This needs testing, so I got dressed and hopped in the car.

Okay, driving without coffee is a tad difficult, but I made it okay. Dashed up to my office, got the papers, and then down to the mensa. Yes, they are open. While they are stocking the shelves for lunch you can have bagels, croissants, fruit, hot dogs, coffee or tea, juices and soft drinks. Müsli would have been nice, but I assume they will be learning.

The mensa is nicely empty this morning (but not deserted, there are little groups sitting and working together). I scored a little table at the big picture window looking out over the Spree.

It is windy, so as the Spree flows one way there are little waves going the other way on top. There are trees and boats across the water, waving in the wind. A swan coasts lazily by. I took my morning paper with me, what a wonderful start to the day! I could even deal with the clueless after this!


Syllabus? What's that?

Ah, the semester has started in earnest!

Stu Dent shows up this morning at 8.35 in the lab. We started at 8.00. I request to see his lab preparation work, which is required. "My what?" Didn't you read the syllabus, sweet snowflake? "The what?" I ask if he attended class the first day. No, he had other plans that day. Well, since you are repeating this class, you may not know anyone here, so I suggest making friends fast and asking what we did that first day. Was he here any of the other days we had class? "Yes, I was there the day you spoke about the whatch-a-ma-call-it."

Dear Lord. Please keep the clueless out of the 8 am lab. I can deal with this at noon, but not when I got up at 5.45 to get to class.

After the lecture I had office hours, another Stu dropped by. He had been unable to attend the first lecture, but he had discovered there was a syllabus. Great! Unfortunately, he had a hard time understanding it. Now this was bizarre - the syllabus is in English, and he is a native speaker of English. To put it bluntly, the syllabus says: attend class regularly and submit lecture notes on time; attend lab regularly, be prepared, and hand in reports on time that use complete sentences; pass the exam. I explained this again, patiently. After all, that's what office hours are for, aren't they? Okay, now he understands.

"I wanted to ask you something," he continues. Okay. "But I've forgotten what it is." I suggest that he write down his points the next time he comes, that will make things go so much more smoothly.

Ah, and then there was the snowflake who forgot his password and emailed the dean's office today to ask if we could help him. Sure. Right after I get all this toilet paper distributed and the rooms vacuumed, because a teacher is refusing to teach in dirty rooms. Anything else? I would not have *dreamed* of asking the dean something like that! Is this because of email or what?


Sitting in Front of Leo

I had a four hour train trip this weekend and had the misfortune to be sitting in front of Leo. Okay, I had a seat, which was a definite advantage over the first bit of the trip down, in which because of a "technical problem" there
was an equipment change meaning that there were 8 less cars than normal on the train. We stood packed in the aisles, unable to move up or down. They made us get off at the next station and wait for another train. Sigh.

Anyway, after I sat down a mother and her perhaps six-year-old son, Leo, sat down behind me. Leo began unpacking his toys and throwing them on the floor, although his mother admonished him to be patient and wait until she had all the bags stowed. Every sentence she spoke to him began with "Leo, ...". And as we soon learned, Leo did not listen to his mother, even if she constantly used his name. Or maybe because? Anyway Leo was extremely loud.

I don't know which was worse - the kicking against my seat, the repeated experiments with the foot rests, the whining for food, the extremely loud questions, or the mother trying to exercise some sort of restraint on Leo and at the same time trying to educate him. And constantly calling him by his name.

She read books to him that were far over his level of understanding. She had him do math exercises, but didn't know if the results were correct or not. She admonished him at one point: "Leo, that's not scientific!" My guess is that her husband - who was working on a Sunday and might-pick-us-up-Leo - is probably a scientist of some sort. She gave him lots of explanations for numerous words and things that were, in fact, quite off the mark. He will probably grow up to be one of those smartalecks in my classes who think they know everything, and don't actually know much at all.

Leo managed to wiggle out once and went to find the fire extinguishers. He loudly informed the folks in the entire car that we did, indeed have a fire extinguisher on board and that there was a sign on it. He was very excited
about this, and was trying to explain his discoveries to his mother - loudly. She shushed him: Don't talk so loudly, you will disturb the man in front of you.

Hmm. I am actually wearing a skirt today, on account of having led a church service this morning. I even curled my hair. Sure, I am using a computer. I suppose that this is a male marker. I grumbled under my breath: the *lady* in the seat in front of you is trying to work. The woman sitting next to me nodded, silently.

Leo was interested. He peeked round the side, then scrambled up for a better look. "That's a woman!", he announced to the car. Well, what a relief. Leo can at least determine that, although I would love to find the volume knob on his voice box.

Oh, and did I mention that Leah and Joanna played horsie in the aisles, and that the baby a few seats back had a screaming fit? A sweet toddler at least cooed at me on occasion over the front seat. As Leo's mother noted to Leo at one point, many parents are here with children, because they can't be kept quiet in the quiet zone. And the parents spend lots of time on the phone, too,
I have a sudden longing for the noisy quiet zone. Even if they speak loudly into their mobile phones there, at least they don't constantly kick the back of my seat.


A room full of girls!

We have a new program that is starting this fall, a women's program in computing and business. We managed to get it set up (with the official permission to open the program coming the day before we started, published on official document 42/09, how fitting!) and had 130 women apply! There are 40 positions and 40 women matriculated - women from 18 to over 40.

We are doing an orientation week with them - luckily in a room with a working beamer and since Friday with a working Internet connection. They were really scared Thursday, but Friday I saw little groups chattering away, new friendships in the making.

Coming to the room Friday afternoon to set up the beamer for the business teacher, two painters were walking towards me. "Did you see that?" the one asked of the other. "There was a room full of girls back there!"

Indeed, a room full of girls is not the norm at an engineering college. I hope to be able to report a successful graduation of all 40 in three years time!

The new campus

The past two days have been the grand opening of our new campus, right on the water in Oberschöneweide. The weather has been horrible - heavy rains and quite windy.

The papers write of a "modern place to study" (all news to be found here), and indeed, there are some highlights here. The Spreehalle includes a lunch hall with large windows out to the Spree, a coffee bar, a new library with many places to work, and some engineering labs. I took a tour of some of the labs - some have new equipment, others have just moved their older equipment down here. For example, they have a cleanroom for doing work in micro- and nano-sized areas. There is a terrace stuffed will all sorts of solar panels. And there are many rooms full of oscilloscopes and such.

There are two "modern" lecture theaters in the complex - two beamers installed! But the seating is your normal, cramped rows with fold-down tables, and no electrical outlets. What are they thinking?

Speaking of electricity - our labs still can't be opened, because we don't have the wiring or the electricity. I still have the specifications we submitted in 2003 - we noted that we needed 42 additional outlets for electricity and 21 for Ethernet, on account of having 21 computers on 21 tables in the rooms. I even drew diagrams showing how the tables were to be arranged. But no, there is only electricity along one wall, and just a few outlets. We have been screaming about this for months, but there is just so much else to do, it seems. At least I spotted an electrician yesterday - putting in Ethernet. Maybe they'll work all weekend...

The dirt is indescribable. They did a "final cleaning" in August - but have been working through September. Desks and chairs are covered with plaster dust, the floors are occasionally mopped, but that just smears the plaster around.

There are modern visualizers and beamers in every lecture hall - but they don't work. I was giving tours to colleagues, and only one out of three halls had functioning connections. This will be interesting.

There is a chalkboard in the rooms for mathematics instruction - but no water for wiping them. We threw out all of the chalk prior to moving, because we though we didn't have any of these, so we have to get some sorted out pronto.

There are no chairs in the hallways, no bulletin boards, no nice pictures on the walls, no garbage cans in the lecture halls or labs - these things can hopefully be fixed!

Instruction begins Monday - I think we will need oral lectures and paper-and-pencil labs for the first few weeks.....