Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Protect yourself from HARMFUL RADIATION!!!

If you have a cellular phone, a PC or microwave oven, buy a sticker for $15. It will save your life! "The Protective Energetic Symbols are the special form emitters which prevent from the penetration of harmful electromagnetic radiation into the human energetic system. The microwave oven Protective Energetic Symbol prevents from the damage of food prepared in a microwave oven."

This reminds me of German invention which plugs into the electrical outlet at your home and detects/filters out all the radioactivity in the electrical current (which logically must be there if the electricity was generated in a nuclear plant).

Monday, May 30, 2005

The day after yesterday almost like The Day After Tomorrow!

Today, after several days of record high temperatures (over 30 degrees Celsius), there was a hailstorm in Prague, with chunks of ice over 3 cm in diameter. See short videoclip here and listen to the sound. That wasn't the audio malfunction, you really couldn't hear what someone standing at your side was shouting. It seems perfectly plausible to me that someone could be killed during this.


I doubt Greenpeace & Co. can do anything meaningful to persuade the global industries to stop affecting the global climate (actually, I doubt Greenpeace & Co. can do anything meaningful at all). I also know that the climate changes won't be as quick as Roland Emmerich would like you to believe. But I am pretty sure the weather wasn't fucked up like this 20 or 30 years ago.

Thank God the Czech Republic is in the middle of the Europe and the floods, Tsunami, drought etc. will affect us relatively later than other regions. That means I can probably live the rest of my life rather peacefully before everything goes to hell. I'll let my theoretical children cope with it.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Comon Englisch misstakes

If your English is above-average, go here to hone your skills even more and find out what errors are commonly made by native speakers/writers. Very interesting and useful.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

A movie by any other name...

Today, I glanced at the movie release plan for the Czech Republic and saw several of the local titles for the upcoming releases. I noticed that because of the cultural ignorance of Czech viewers (or, more exactly, their "ignorance of American culture"), the local distributors are often forced to drastically change the movie titles so that they more accurately reflect what the movie is about. A few examples:
  • The movie "White Noise" is called "Hlas smrti", or "The Voice of Death".
  • "The Amityville Horror" became "You'll die at 3:15"!
  • "Herbie: Fully Loaded" is now called "My Car, The Bug".
  • "Bewitched" is "My Beautiful Sorceress".
  • "Aliens of the Deep" became "Mysterious Depths in 3D"!
  • "Stealth" is "Top Secret Mission"
  • "Cinderella Man" is called simply "Heavyweight".
  • "Sky High" is "School of Superheroes". (By the way, is this movie really such a blatant ripoff of "The Incredibles"?)
  • And "Emperor's Journey" became "A Penguin's Story".
At least it seems the local distributors now understand the meaning of the original titles (which often wasn't the case in the previous years, see some examples here). Also, the trend to come up with titles that sound like sequels to popular movies is conspicuosly absent. The only exception is "Bride and Prejudice" which is being called "My Big Fat Indian Wedding" over here.

By the way, "Tim Burton's Corpse Bride" will be released under Czech title "Dead Bride of Tim Burton", which, I think, is rather stylish (and clearly intentional).

Tuesday, May 24, 2005


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It's reborn!

First of all, read (and see) my previous post about Czech PM's wife. Now, have a look at the new photo of the same Mrs. Paroubek! Incredible, I almost want to marry her. (No, not really.)

Monday, May 23, 2005

Of pigs and Communists

Mrs. Ester Kocickova, popular radio personality, has likened the Communists to pigs in her talk show. More exactly, she said "I am always telling my kids and my dogs that the Communists are pigs".

Communists are threatening her with a lawsuit and demand an apology. Mrs. Kocickova reacted by attending an opening of the new zoo pavillion and apologizing to the pigs for likening them to the Communists. Cheeky woman.

One of the heads below belongs to Mr. Grebenicek, current head of the Communist Party (his father was tried for torturing the people in Communist prisons but died of natural causes before the end of the lengthy trial). The other head belongs to a pig from "Animal Farm":

If I had kids, I'd probably tell them Mr. Grebenicek has regular sex with animals. But I am not telling that to my dogs.

Today, 17 years after the fall of Czech Communism, the Communists are alive and well. I am not sure about "well" because most of them are very old, but certainly alive. They got a "new image" by making the red star really, really small and replacing it with cherries. Yes, cherries. Their slogan is "With the people, for the people" (click to see the cherries!). The disturbing fact is that there is also a non-zero number of young Communists, most of them not remembering what Communism was and how it worked. (I admit it could be fairly interesting debate to find out if the Communism could actually work the way Marx & Engels envisioned it, in contrast to its actual perverted form.)

Between 15 and 20 percent of Czech people vote for Communists. These people were probably happy 20 years ago, when they could live their day-to-day lives, eat and watch TV without really having to do much at all. They are not happy today when they see that someone is paid for their work more than they are. It's really weird "Communist mentality" when popular articles appear (not just in Communist press!) about "Mr. XY is evil because his monthly salary is over $2000!" Of course he is evil because "the people" cannot have such salaries! Mr. XY is certainly not one of "the people".

Well, dear "people", you can have such salaries. If you don't have them, it's not the fault of the system but of yourself. You are either not competent enough or you don't have friends at the right places. At least in Capitalism you can read articles about it.

Millennium Falcon in Episode III

It seems there is Millennium Falcon (or something very similar to Han Solo's ship) in Revenge of the Sith:

Of course this screengrab is crappy but it can be seen fairly well on the big screen, flying from lower-right corner of the screen a few seconds after Obi-Wan says "Another happy landing" and right before their transport lands in the Coruscant dock.

In the case Jack Valenti is reading this, I do not have a pirated copy. I was translating the movie for the Czech release and thus got the (crappy) version on my harddisk.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Darth Vader reads your mind!

Go here to see Darth Vader read your mind (Flash)! (If it doesn't work in your Firefox, try this link instead.) I know this pseudo-AI algorithm is old stuff but this presentation is neat idea (it's a promo for Burger King).

By the way, I triumphed over the Dark Side. Vader didn't know what a condom is. That's probably understandable, given his personal experiences...

Yes he will...


Friday, May 20, 2005

Dark side of the Force has many unnatural abilities

PLease, please, whatever you do DON'T BUY "STAR WARS EPISODE III" FOR PLAYSTATION 2. This game is utter rubbish, I finished it in about 4 hours because I am supposed to review it, and it was very painful. Buy "Lego Star Wars" instead. Yes, really. Now I have to write that review so please excuse me for not blogging...

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Moving - flat for sale

I'd like to sell my flat in the center of Prague and buy another other slightly bigger (also in Prague). If you are interested in buying my flat or if you can offer me interesting flat, please go here for photos and detailed info about both buying and selling (Czech language only).

If you are, by any chance, interested and you don't speak Czech, contact me via e-mail or ICQ (not in post comments!!!).

(c) 1982 Sinclair Research Ltd.

Oh my God! It seems Sir Clive Sinclair, the inventor of ZX Spectrum computer (and really stupid foot-powered car), was in the Czech Republic yesterday and I didn't know!!! He took part in an international "illegal secret race" Gumball 3000 (which is neither illegal nor secret nor a race).

Forget about hockey players, THIS MAN IS MY GOD!

Monday, May 16, 2005

Ring, ring, ring!

If you have a cellular phone which is able to use MP3 files as ringtones and don't feel comfortable with audio editors, you might like one of these sounds I created (mostly music from the movies). They are basically just snippets of sound grabbed from CDs, very slightly edited and encoded to lower quality mono MP3s.

Expect more files to appear there soon.

Think of the future generations!

Charles Bridge is THE bridge to see in Prague. It's official because it's prominently featured in both "XXX" and "Bad Company" (actually it's really nice and you cannot avoid it if you visit Prague). The bridge is currently undergoing large-scale renovations and today, special tube was inserted into its foundations, with "mementoes for future generations".

The tube - which is expected to be found and reopened several centuries into the future - contains, among other things, a DVD DISC!!!

What are those people smoking? Can you imagine someone in the year 2345 or so finding the shiny disc, being able to read the bits from it and being able to reconstruct them into sound and inferior (i.e. 2D) picture?

Of course, if the tube also contains the specs for MPEG compression and deCSS, I am ready to apologize to the authors...

We are the champions! So what?

OK, we won the Ice Hockey World Championship. Actually, that's not true. "We" didn't win it. Some Czech people won it. I don't know any of them and I don't care what they do with their wooden (?) sticks and rubber (?) pucks.

Well, that's not strictly true. I am mildly interested in knowing that several Czech people can put the piece of rubber into fishnet more often than groups of several people from other countries. But I am much more interested in whether I can finish "Resident Evil 4" on "Professional" level without dying (for example).

And I am certainly not interested in dozens and dozens of unknown people IMing me with Czech equivalent of "!!!!!!OMG CHAMPIONS TEH CZECH ROXORZ!!!!!!".

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Learn programming using Unit Tests (and Karel)

While looking for Ruby tutorials, I found this page which details an innovative way to learn a programming language - by immediately writing Unit Tests for everything you read and eventually want to put to use. This strikes me as very cool idea - you are in fact learning while making your own interactive documentation of things that YOU consider useful. Plus, you start by learning Unit Tests, which never hurts. :)

Of course, this is applicable not only to Ruby but to any language that supports Unit Testing and probably also to others...

P.S: To all the people who commented on my rant about programming languages: When I wrote that I tried out Clear, Erlang or Eiffel, I assumed everyone will automatically understand that I also tried out relative "heavyweights" like Python and LISP. And Karel. :)

P.P.S: This is inflatable 1 meter high KAREL THE ROBOT, sitting on my cabinet. It was made in Czech Republic around 1985 or so (when it still was part of "Czechoslovakia"), and is still able to "hold its air"! Karel programming environment was all the rage back then, officially sponsored by the Communist Party and Svazarm (a weird organization which taught technical stuff to young people, in coordination with Czech Army, and was practically the only way for a young person to get hands on any kind of computer). Although it was maintained at the time that Karel was invented in the Czech Republic (Karel is very common Czech name), it was in fact invented in the U.S. in 1981 and named after Karel Capek (a Czech) who invented the word "robot"!

Friday, May 13, 2005

May the Kveten be with you

  1. I bet this poster for Episode III was printed in the U.S.A.
  2. I bet Fox asked what is the name of the fifth month in Czech and got the (correct) answer: "Kveten".
  3. I bet nobody at Fox is interested in Czech grammar. Otherwise they would know that "Kveten 19" does not mean anything (possibly it might mean "May of 2019", with a bit of imagination). The correct way of writing "May 19" in Czech is "19. Kvetna".
  4. I bet people from Fox think they are smarter than us.

Oh say can you C?

Many, many years ago, I learned programming. I started with Fortran, went on to Basic, Cobol, and then to 8-bit assembler (VC20, ZX Spectrum). When I started with 16-bit assembler (Amiga), I got a PC and pretty much stopped programming for about 10 years. 10 years later, when I wanted to program something more complicated than BAT script, I found out that the whole world has gone to hell and everyone is using C. I tried to learn it and I hated it. Because I wanted to program my own projects, for free and for fun, C was not an option. I had to find something better.

Oh yeah, and it had to be free (both as in "beer" and as in "speech").

I tried literally dozens of languages including exotic things like Rebol, Euphoria, Erlang or Clean (incidentally, it seems my mind simply refuses to accept the concept of functional languages). However, I found out that it's almost impossible to learn "bold" and "daring" languages (i.e. anything other than C and Perl [I hate Perl somehow less than C because its absolute ugliness looks almost like an art]). I tried everything from PHP to Forth.

In fact, the only large-scale software project I created in last 10 years (for money) was done in Smalltalk, a wonderfully simple and elegant purely (and I mean PURELY) object-oriented language from 70s, whose core ideas seem bold and genial (oops!) even today. Unfortunately, it seems the less conventional and C-like any language is, the less people use it and the worse documentation it has.

The case in point: For example, documentation for Seaside, very interesting web framework for Smalltalk. Yes, that is the whole official documentation. Even if you know Smalltalk, you are hopelessly lost, without any idea how to actually do something. The problem is (and now I am not talking about Seaside or Smalltalk in particular) that while the community works on improving the software, nobody has time to write (or update!) the documentation (which is much less exciting task). When the default installation requires default admin password and you have to dig deep inside the code to find this password, you know something is amiss. Fortunately, Smalltalk is pretty much based on an idea of digging deep inside code, which should give you a lot of info even when the classes are not documented very well (and they are not, believe me).

The other case in point: The D programming language offers to be "The new C", really object oriented, including design by contract, etc... Unfortunately, while the authors tout how much better than C their language is, the documentation cannot be understood unless you already know C. :) (Something very similar is true for Objective-C.)

The idea of "Design by contract" (basically meaning that the language itself FORCES YOU to write documentation and tests during the programming whether you want it or not) seemed rather appealing to me. It means (or at least should mean) that you can return to your project after some time and still have basic understanding which method does what (which is what I do, because most of my programming happens when I have time to spare, which is not often). It was invented (I think) by the authors of Eiffel, which was elegant, simple (and FAST) language. Why the past tense? I am afraid Eiffel has lost much of its original simplicity and recent additions (which are becoming incompatible between the various Eiffel implementations) make it cumbersome. Eiffel also provides a simple way to integrate existing C libraries. Or, more precisely "aims to provide", because - again - you have to understand C constructs and C preprocessor pretty well to actually hook the libraries to your code.

If you want to do anything in any of these languages, you basically have to beg in the mailing lists and forums and feel very stupid afterwards for asking questions which are insulting for language gurus.

The answer probably is "Learn C, idiot". The "problem" is, I really, really don't want to. Currently, I am looking at Ruby.

And this is Albert, my other dog:

He was supposed to be a chihuahua when we bought him. Now he weighs 6 kg. I could probably make up some parallels about Albert and C but that would be unfair to Albert.

(Thanks to "Wittgenstein" for pointing out that the English word "genial" is not derived from "genius" as I originally thought. :) "Ingenious" is.)

Thursday, May 12, 2005

George Lucas and space monsters

I always wondered how is George Lucas able to come up with all the different kinds of space mutants. Where does he get his inspiration? Today I found this picture from 2003 which explains a lot.

Juicy reading makes you a slut

This is a poster I saw today. It invites you to buy a new magazine called Juicy. The girl on the left is "Reader of common magazine", on the left is "Reader of Juicy". (Both of them are probably the same girl, with different clothes and makeup.) The words on top say "Be different - be Juicy". I must say I find the girl on the left much, much more attractive. Perhaps I am too old and not Juicy enough.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

OMG Anakin is Darth Vader!

[Warning, may contain spoilers!] Several hours ago, my review of Episode III was published on Novinky.cz (in Czech) and I already got feedback from three people who are angry about the supposed spoilers. Specifically, they didn't know that Obi-Wan fights with Anakin and/or that Anakin gets badly burned in the lava. I think I am not "Star Wars geek" but I presumed this is kind of stuff anyone who even considers seeing "Revenge of the Sith" automatically knows.

Anyway, it was worth the wait. The movie is certainly the best of the new trilogy and doesn't even look like the work of same guy who wrote and directed Episodes I and II. Weird.

One of the benefits of living in former communist European country is the fact that regular moviegoers in Czech Repubic will see the movie at 8 pm local time on Wednesday, i.e. around noon U.S. time, i.e. before the U.S. premiere (if I am not mistaken).

(The image shows fans from Czech Star Wars Universe attending the premiere of Episode II.)

For your kid's safety

As you probably know, the Japanese are always one step ahead. When it came to protecting the kids from the dangers of Internet porn, they came up with a brilliant idea. Click to see the full version. (This is real advertisement displayed in Shibuya, Tokyo last autumn.)

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Bloggers are stupid

I guess I should explain (mainly to Czech readers) the apparent conflict between existence of this blog and my much-publicized interview for one of Czech computer magazines where I said "I use the word 'blogger' as an insult".

"Internet diaries", e.g. often updated pages with someone's thoughts and experiences, are as old as Internet itself. Maybe even older because I remember reading stuff like this on BBS and Fidonet. Hell, even I worked on something similar sometime around 1995. Those diaries were written because the author had something he wanted to share with the world. Usually, it was A) interesting, B) funny, or at least C) "funny" because autor sincerely thought it was interesting or funny even if it wasn't. Also, the author usually had some faint idea of how to spell.

I am not sure about the etymology but Wikipedia says that the word "weblog" first appeared in 1997 and "blog" two years later. Thus, at least since 1999, there were bloggers, meaning "famous/interesting people who write blogs". The term "blogger" (let's put quotes around the word) I use as an insult, refers to people who use the opposite approach: "I am famous/interesting precisely BECAUSE I write blog".

Now, I hate generalizing. There are definitely many people who call themselves bloggers and are famous/funny EXCLUSIVELY because of their blogging activities. But I insist they are in minority, even more so in the Czech Republic. Most of the "bloggers" proudly wear the "blogger" title as if it meant something more than "diary writer" and they even think some journalistic privileges apply to them (although, of course, not any of the journalistic requirements). Their "blogs" are strictly of the C) variety (see above). For example, one of them threatens to sue anyone who publishes his real name (which he originally used himself on his "blog") his photograph (which he originally used himself on his "blog") or even links to his photograph. He looks approximately like this:

Sure, they are "famous". For example, they know about private property where using cameras is forbidden, they invite everyone to "go there and take pictures as a happening", they go there, take pictures for as long as it takes for them to be detained by the security, and then they appear on TV in "Internet journalists brutally attacked for no reason" segment. To prove their point, they post images of their sexy knees online.

I do lots of stuff in my life. And if I ever end up being referred to as "Frantisek Fuka, the ([once] famous) blogger", that would really be a sad day in my life.

Monday, May 09, 2005

S*tisfact*ry c*nclusi*n unlikely

As you probably know if you had a look at my homepage, I am translating movies. For the translation, you usually get (along with the movie itself) so-called "Subtitle/Spotting List". This is something like a screenplay, however, it's not based on screenplay but "reverse-engineered" from the dialogues in the finished movie so that it can be exactly same as the dialogue in the movie.

It also contains helpful hints about the meanings of specific sentences. For example (and this is real-life example from one of Bruckheimer's epics), someone says "We are f*cked" and the S/S List helpfully explains: "F*cked: Being in a situation in which satisfactory conclusion is unlikely".

Recently, I translated Ridley Scott's "Kingdom of Heaven". The person who wrote the explanations for the S/S List had some very interesting ideas about measurement systems in 11th century Jerusalem (click on the image).

My post about Czech Post

This is one of those things that might seem weird to someone who lives in English-speaking country: I often order stuff from Amazon.com. Sometimes it's stuff which is not exactly cheap. I often arrive home and see the Amazon package standing next to the door like this (today it was just two books). Anyone who enters our house (about 50 people live here) could simply pick up my package and do whatever he wishes with it. I wonder what would Czech Post do if someone really took the package. (Of course, this is a rhetorical question. Czech Post wouldn't do anything at all.)

P.S: The "flickr-frame" class has "margin-right: 15px" and yet, at least in Firefox, there is no space at all between the picture and the text on the right of it. Any CSS guru with suggestions?

Sunday, May 08, 2005

When I am standing on my head, you are crazy smiling

Just now, TV is showing the latest round of "Czech Idol" music show. Most of the songs are performed in English. Also, most of the singers clearly don't understand English and learned the lyrics by memorizing their phonetic spelling. Also, my head hurts. But teenagers are happy because they hear English.

Exhibit A: In the previous round, one of the singers performed the song "Cabaret" and pronounced the word "Cabaret" as "Kabared". Every time it appeared in the song.

Exhibit B: The song "On my head" from Czech singer Dan Barta from the soundtrack of the latest Czech movie "Snowboardaci" ("The Snowboarders") is very popular and is played on the radio several times each day. Of course, the movie is targeted to teenagers and thus, the lyrics are in English. Please listen to the full MP3 of the song here and explain to me what the lyrics are supposed to mean.

If I understand it correctly (which I cannot say for sure), the refrain goes like this: "When I am standing on my head, you are crazy smiling. Now we don't have it, we are mad, guarantee speedy romancing."

I want YOUR DOG for U.S. Army

This is my dog. His name is Chucky (click for large image).

Today, celebrations of 60th anniversary of liberation of Czechoslovakia took place throughout Prague. Interesting fact is that about one quarter of Czech Republic, including large cities like Pilsen (yes, the cradle of beer), was liberated by the U.S. Army and most of the rest of the country by Soviet Army. However, during the Cold War, Czech history books were altered to remove any mention of non-Soviet armies. This lasted until the 1989 "Velvet Revolution".

I am Jack's quiet mind

I stumbled upon www.paxil.com by pure accident. At first, I thought this is some sort of subversive black humor, a testament of modern times etc... Curiously, it seems that Paxil really exists and really makes you feel great (except that sometimes your head hurts and you might want to kill yourself).

The intro picture looks absolutely fascinating. The girl wearing a nametag, a cap from hell and a forced smile, standing on the empty meadow under the dark violet sky. This is pure "Fight Club" moment. Don't forget to "click for important information"!

Saturday, May 07, 2005

It lives!

We have a new Prime Minister, Mr. Paroubek. I don't care too much about politics (I think that most problems in our country would be solved by giving our president, Mr. Klaus, absolute powers and licence to kill). But Paroubek definitely looks more evil than Mr. Gross, his predecessor.

What is more interesting for esteemed reader is how his wife looks!

Note the uncanny resemblance to the title character from British TV show "Baldy Man". Although Mrs. Paroubek is neither bald or man. I think.

WTF is this?

This is a blog...

I noticed my homepage (which is mainly in Czech language) is getting more hits from abroad than from the Czech Republic (probably because of my StumbleUpon links)! At first I thought this is weird but then I came to conclusion that there are probably less people in the Czech Republic than in the rest of the world minus the Czech Republic. Thus, it sort of makes sense.

I started thinking about doing more content in English and came up with the idea of BLOG. This means that I might now officially be known as BLOGGER, an entity I prefer to rank somewhere between amoeba and dead amoeba. Well, life changes, I guess...

I will try this out for several reasons:
  1. To see if there are indeed english-speaking people who are interested in things I write.
  2. To test out the blogger.com interface and see if I like it or if I'd like something else for some projects I am working on in my spare time.
  3. To learn English better (that means I'd appreciate if you tell me about my grammar errors). Note that although I never lived in English speaking country, I am pretty sure I know how to spell "separate" and "definitely", which makes me more gramatically adept than 69% of Internet users.
  4. To see if non-Czech people find some things happening in this country to be as weird as I do.
  5. To have more hits than Daniel "The Blogger" Dočekal, which will piss him off.

CIA transporting prisoners through Prague for torturing

As reported by Czech TV, CIA planes carrying terror suspects to be tortured in "less democratic" countries (usually Uzbekistan) routinely refuel at Prague Airport. Yesterday evening, another CIA plane landed, en route from Afghanistan to USA (no word if it carried someone or just returned home).

People from CSSD (ruling party) are calling for investigation. However, Home Secretary Mr. Bublan explained that planes refueling at Ruzyne are not business of Czech Republic. Which is probably true.