Monday, October 18, 2010

Chevron do agree, just not on everything (or a Yes Men hoax puncture a campaign)

It's a common complaint that public opinion has poor ability of comprehending nuances or complex issues. Well, let's see if they can sort this out, and just how much of Chevron's marketing (a.k.a. greenwashing) budget has gone down the drain.

So, social media didn't know what to think, Chevron was saying some funky stuff and the first I saw of it (thanks to Chris) was assuming Yes Men ( Well and think "Oil companies should... ":

  • ... clean up their messes
  • ... fix the problems they create
  • ... put safety first

Wow, some pretty extreme statements there, coming from a huge oil company! Way to go corporate social responsibility!

Well, turns out the press contact "Giles Vechny" has no other google hits, basically declaring him an invented (at least as a professional) identity, and most likely the page a hoax. Haha, way to go Yes Men (or copycats), you almost managed to fool the world again, that's really funny. The world smiles and declares Chevron "We agree" CSR campaign a hoax.

Well, think again, because it only partly is! states (I'm sorry, I sincerely hope I didn't get those URLs mixed up now):

"While such a campaign does exist, its official URL is The advertisements released earlier today, at, were an elaborate subterfuge and must not be mistaken as real"

So, what Chevron and does agree on are that "Oil companies should... ":

  • ... put their profits to good use
  • ... need to get real
  • It's time... get behind the development of renewable energy
  • ... support the communities they're a part of
  • ... think more like technology companies
  • ... should support small business

I'll leave it to the professionals to weed out exactly how accountable anyone can be held to such ideals and how watered down it is.

Now writes that also the second press release is fake... well, I'm not sure anymore. Thanks to @blumenberg whom I bounced some messages early on with. Anyway it seems Chevron had a new fresh marketing campaign, trying to clear the slop off big oil, though the campaign was leaked to Yes Men (or copy cats, I haven't seen them verified yet), enabling them to perform this record-fast counter-campaign. If not heads will roll, at least it certainly was a powerful way of putting focus on big oil and their attempts at CSR.

The Yes Men have publicly described their methods, most recently in their documentary "THE YES MEN FIX THE WORLD", supposedly due to a legal conflict available for free instead of for sale. So, you can at least with their approval just go to that site, download and enjoy their guerilla marketing.

Now, feel free to start the flaming.

The Yes Men posing as Exxon executives (from wikimedia commons, credit to Tavis )

Enjoy my other posts on marketing and identity.

(Update: Turns out the story is even more intricate than described above, and not all of my conclusions above were entirely correct. I hope to remedy it shortly)

Sunday, October 17, 2010

The trinity of science - Feynman, Sagan and Dawkins (or, CJ tries magnet links)

There are many good books out there, and generally prefer the non-fiction ones. When it comes to cool science books, many of you will have enjoyed Hawking, Bryson, Sacks and Hofstadter, but a while back I discovered these old heroes of science, like Richard Feynman, Carl Sagan and still alive, but relevant anyway, Richard Dawkins.

Amazing, amusing, fascinating, you mustn't miss these books, and they're all available as audio books for your lazy leisure!:

This may be a realization only for me, but my heroes are actually mortal... and Oliver Sacks is dreadfully old...

What would Richard Feynman do? via Kurt White
(image via I love charts)

Monday, July 19, 2010

50-year old Telefunken Gavotte tube radio still playing well

This is my grandmother's and grandfather's old Telefunken Gavotte 6 Export tube radio. When my grandmother passed away earlier this year she did not leave a lot of worldly possessions, but I am very grateful I could inherit this beautiful old radio (manufactured in 1955) which I used to fiddle with as a kid when we visited grandma.

The radio is in a beautiful shape, always a cherished piece of furniture in a tidy home, just some light scratches and cracking of the wood finish. And to my great surprised as I replaced the ungrounded power plug with a modern one, it works, and plays FM beautifully!

Check out the video I made in my excitement, and the follow-up as I had learned slightly more of the specs. Apologies for poor quality and mistakes, they slip in:

My grandmother's antique radio is working! :

Antique radio, again :

What I tried to explain in the second video was that LW, MF (MW in German), HF (KW in German) has long been allocated for AM transmission, whereas VHF (UKW in German) is used for FM. That was what surprised me somewhat, that the Gavotte's superheterodyne receiver is able to demodulate both amplitude modulation and frequency modulation.

Another thing which is not clearly visible in the video is just how analogue the radio is. The radio tubes take a minute or so to warm up and begin functioning, and there's that beautiful little flourescent green signal strength indicator. Ah, turns out that's called a "magic eye tube" as illustrated by this excellent video.

I considered modifying the radio and using only its shell to build some variation of a home media computer, but there's no way I will do that now. I would however consider selling it, if the price is right, so collectors, get in touch and tell me what a gem like this may be worth!

(Update: I made some better pictures now available on flickr and in the little slideshow below. Also I learnt that pretty "magic eye" is indeed an EM80 tube with that fan shape)

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Social iPhone games with OpenFeint - just add friends!

I am looking for friends to play with! Facebook apps are all good, but the real recent revolution in games is the iOS platform (iPhone / iPad / iPod touch). I love the way the iPhone has revived casual gaming with small, simple and fun games.

The thing which is surprisingly missing from most games still is the social factor. When we were kids, the only thing me and Lada had to amuse ourselves with was IR pong between our Palm Pilots during lectures, and while OnLive with social features like brag shots and spectators during tournaments is still to take off, I'm settling for OpenFeint on the iPhone.

As is usually the case with applications and IT habits, you need to reach out to people to learn of their preferences, which is why I'm writing this blog post. I really want to know if you're playing any OpenFeint games! Later I hope to write a post about iPhone apps in general. Leave your comments!

I'm asking for competition for example in:
And as you can see in the attached screenshots, these are some games my friends seem to play (but I can't really know if it's currently or just old stuff):

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

My book addiction got a fix

I have visited the Helsinki academic bookstore again (and got a new shipment from Daniel Suarez), it's always equally rewarding. The book I wanted but they didn't have was "The Puzzle Palace" by James Bamford. Other books I got:

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Maksu- ja Tolliamet perils of internationalization

In these tax declaration times, as a foreigner in Estonia I have a particularly treacherous time to get with the usability of Estonian e-services.

This year the Estonian tax authority (Maksu- ja Tolliamet -, twitter) proudly declared that they will accept tax declarations in English:

However, trying to take them up on that promise, disregarding the numerous times I'm thrown into an Estonian-only environment, the English environment doesn't have the 2009 tax declaration I see if I switch to the Estonian one:

Estonian version:

Furthermore, once successfully in the declaration environment, the English version seems completely broken as I for example can't save my changed postal address (which of course works in the Estonian one). I can only deem this complete usability fail.

For the fairness of things and to provoke a debate, I'll share the opinion of a Swedish friend of mine:

"Yeah.. they really should not do it [attempt translation] at all..  no need to, really. Either you learn the language or you get help with it. Your choice (not theirs).

Just as in Sweden where they translate everything into 27 different languages and the tax payers pay for it. Not the tax payers fault that people do not know Swedish.

I do not mind any kind of miniority population but if they are unable to learn Swedish then they should pay for their own translation. Just as I seem to be unable to learn Estonian hence it is my problem to translate what I need, not the Estonian tax payers problem"

On another note, I've finally got a functioning mobile-id, as I was tired of the ridiculous software issues I had with my ID card. There english translation is even more absent, the support because of the jungle of organizations involved is terrible - but I recently was lucky enough to get both competent and helpful feedback when my ID card wasn't working.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

xkcd Tech Support Cheat Sheet - now in Swedish

It's absolutely not that I mind visiting my parents, or that I don't love being helpful, but I felt that some attention should be given to this immortal comic strip / flow chart:

Here it is in Swedish, for you, friends and collegues to print and educate each other with:

Do translate it into your own language using the files available in github, then just tell me where to pull from and I can include them. Or just grab the text file and translate to your own language and then I can help with the picture.

I am allowed to do this derivative work off xkcd because "This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.5 License. This means you're free to copy and share these comics (but not to sell them). More details". This derivative work is thusly also provided under the same license.

( Update: Hah, that was both surprising and very nerdy - Claes Wallin has taken my files, and not made any more translations, but made an SVG (scalable vector graphics) original with scripts to generate PNGs! WTF?! Well, I pulled, and I look forward to where he intends to take that. More than anything, cooperation through github can be fascinating because you see ways other people do things. )

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Symphony of Science: auto-tuned science awesomeness

Recently a silly project called Symphony of Science (youtube playlist) opened my eyes to somewhat of a lost treature. I knew my hippie friends admired Carl Sagan, but it took until now to fall in love myself.

Just check out these profound quotes. They may not mean anything to you, but to some of us it is deeply touching:

Carl Sagan:

I find it elevating and exhilarating
To discover that we live in a universe
Which permits the evolution of molecular machines
As intricate and subtle as we

Neil deGrasse Tyson:
I know that the molecules in my body are traceable
To phenomena in the cosmos
That makes me want to grab people in the street
And say, have you heard this??

"My own musical tribute to two great men of science. Carl Sagan and his cosmologist companion Stephen Hawking present: A Glorious Dawn - Cosmos remixed. Almost all samples and footage taken from Carl Sagan's Cosmos and Stephen Hawking's Universe series" :

"'We Are All Connected' was made from sampling Carl Sagan's Cosmos, The History Channel's Universe series, Richard Feynman's 1983 interviews, Neil deGrasse Tyson's cosmic sermon, and Bill Nye's Eyes of Nye Series, plus added visuals from The Elegant Universe (NOVA), Stephen Hawking's Universe, Cosmos, the Powers of 10, and more. It is a tribute to great minds of science, intended to spread scientific knowledge and philosophy through the medium of music" :

"'Our Place in the Cosmos', the third video from the Symphony of Science, was crafted using samples from Carl Sagan's Cosmos, Richard Dawkins' Genius of Charles Darwin series, Dawkins' TED Talk, Stephen Hawking's Universe series, Michio Kaku's interview on Physics and aliens, plus added visuals from Baraka, Koyaanisqatsi, History Channel's Universe series, and IMAX Cosmic Voyage. The themes present in this song are intended to explore our understanding of our origins within the universe, and to challenge the commonplace notion that humans have a superior or privleged position, both on our home planet and in the universe itself" :

"'The Unbroken Thread' is the fourth video in the Symphony of Science series, and it features David Attenborough, Jane Goodall, and Carl Sagan. The clips used in this installment come from Carl Sagan's Cosmos, David Attenborough's Charles Darwin and the Tree of Life, The Life of Mammals, The Living Planet, BBC Life, XVIVO Scientific Animations, IMAX Cosmic Voyage, Jane Goodall's TED Talk, and a clever Guiness Commercial. The themes present in The Unbroken Thread attempt to explore the wild diversity of life on our planet, the intricacy and origin of its mechanisms, and its close relation to all other life forms" :

Also, I've taken up a habit which I encourage to everyone - when you see something cool, google it a bit to follow up on it! Like I've found these awesome books and videos:

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Must-see hilarious nerdy movie clips

I'd like to share with you a few of those movie clips all nerds just should have seen. It's funny, because even though my entire class of course will have seen them, they may be entirely ignored by later or earlier nerd generations. Do you have any favorites I missed?

First out is Look around you, which you just have to see to believe. A hint - it was made in 2002 (youtube playlist and torrent downloads: series 1 and series 2) :

Their periodic table of elements is pretty amazing:

Next, "Sorting out sorting" is an excruciating review of all the basic sorting algorithms. Very educational, very old.

I'll finish off for this time with "Erlang: The Movie", documenting the ground-breaking features of this Ericsson functional programming language. It may not seem much to you, but in the nerd world, these things matter. For artistic reasons best enjoyed muted with Falco "Der Kommissar" playing over it:

See other of my nerdy posts.