Monday, April 30, 2012

Spring turns to Summer

Indeed it was a cold Spring with all the plants seemingly holding back.

But for a few days (after a tiny bit of rain too) it got Summer warm within two days. Now all flowers seem to hurry to bloom. Here a few impressions of them:

25th April 2012

30th April 2012

lots of daisies instead of grass
daises and another tiny flower
more tiny flowers and lots of green grass

This last photo I took this morning at the train station. The late cherries are finally in flower too, but the walnut (I think it is a walnut) tree in the back still has no leaves.And all over the fields you can see green grass (finally) and common dandelions (Taraxacum officinale).

As to the creek: although we had rain and it seemed to have filled up a bit - this morning I was so surprised to see parts (sidearms) nearly dry and other parts really low. As if it was late Summer. See if I can get photos of it and post them too. (as an update).


Friday, April 27, 2012

Who are you??

via Wall Photo seen at Facebook

Now, as I'm a rather playful type of person,
I had to try it out.
Right the first time I came across this image the words that popped out for me were:

I checked it again when I came home for my lunch break.
Now these words popped out:

Long words!!

And just before posting, I checked once more (to see if I got all the spelling right too)

OH, yes:
Sweet rest you make me happy and I feel lazy!!!

Wishing all a happy, restful (maybe even lazy) and especially happy weekend!!!!!!       

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Learning Computer Coding - Result

Finally it has arrived. The certificate.

Yes, I feel a little proud of this.
It has been quite some work to learn all the things needed to get this. And it was fun.

And I have to admit that by now I don't quite remember a few of the more "advanced" things we were taught.
I notice this in the second course at Udacity (CS262) [Goal there is to learn about programming languages while building a web browser!] when asked to do something in a quiz or homework that is based on the previous course. I do know the basic idea but have forgotten the details on how to get to the wanted result. OK, not all is forgotten.
I will see at the end of these next 7 (6 now) weeks how well I do.

And yes, I also started another course there. Udacity (CS253) with the goal to learn about engineering web applications. By the end of the class, you will have built your own blog.
The first unit was quite interesting basics with only one homework -- to get the first tiny app online. Quite different to coding: installing and using a new program.

It's fun and I learn a lot (or get a good overview of what I already knew in a different perspective). So, perhaps at the end of the 7 weeks term I can have a little (self-coded) app on my website or have a not-prefabricated blog.

Who knows???!!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

morning reading on my subjects of interest

OK --
these I thought interesting from the title to read today (all from Science Daily ):

Can Social Media Detect the Changes in Public Mood?
"It is important to remark that the real-time detection of social trends via the analysis of social media content, presents various possible limitations. Social media analysis can only be accomplished with text mining technologies, which are less accurate than human assessment, but can be applied to vast amounts of data. Also the population that is assessed is necessarily that of Twitter users, which is a biased subsample of the general population. Particular care needs to be paid when extracting information but also when reporting it."
Sticking to Our Goals: What's the Best Approach for Success?
"Starting toward a goal can often feel easier than following through and reaching this goal's end state, as individuals with good intentions often fail to invest the time, effort, or monetary resources required to bring their goals to completion. We predict that individuals will express greater motivation to pursue actions when they focus on whichever is smaller in size -- the area of their completed actions or of their remaining actions -- because motivation increases with the perceived impact of each new step, and each new step will appear more impactful if compared to a smaller set of other steps toward the goal."
Your Left Side Is Your Best Side: Our Left Cheek Shows More Emotion, Which Observers Find More Aesthetically Pleasing
Your best side may be your left cheek. Images of the left side of the face are perceived and rated as more pleasant than pictures of the right side of the face, possibly due to the fact that we present a greater intensity of emotion on the left side of our face. (Credit: © Gerry Pelser / Fotolia)
My observation on this: I seems to prefer drawing faces with the right side of the face showing toward the looker. And on photos from me, mainly on the ones with my right faceside showing more than the left I seem to smile much nicer.

It's the Network: Ever Wonder Why Your Friends Have More Friends Than You or Diamond Is Harder Than Graphite?
The authors argue that, as network research matures, there will be increasing opportunities to exploit network concepts to also engineer new systems with desirable properties that may not be readily available in existing ones. Examples include emerging areas such as synthetic biology and microfluidics, which could be radically changed by rational circuit design, but also established areas such as traffic and materials research.
Motter and Albert consider the problem of network control, particularly in the context of biological networks as a promising new avenue for disease treatment. Cascading processes, in particular, in which successive elements in a complex network fail, are shown to be not as unstoppable as previously thought.
They also discuss at length how collective behavior may depend on properties of the underlying network, even when composed of the exact same nodes -- as in the case of radically different materials made of the same chemical element.
Cassini Finds Titan Lake Is Like a Namibia Mudflat
 While the liquid on Titan is methane, ethane and propane rather than water, the cycle appears to work in a very similar fashion to the water cycle on Earth. Beyond Earth, Titan is the only other world known to bear stable liquids on its surface. There, the full hydrocarbon cycle is based on hydrogen, carbon and nitrogen, and takes place between the atmosphere, the surface and the subsurface. Titan's lakes are an integral part of this process.
NASA Image Gallery Highlights Earth's Changing Face
In celebration of this year's Earth Day on April 22, NASA's Webby Award-winning Global Climate Change website, , has unveiled a new version of its popular image gallery, "State of Flux." The gallery, which can be found at , presents stunning images, mostly from space, of our ever-changing planet, chronicling changes taking place over time periods ranging from days to centuries.
New Kind of Quantum Junction
A new type of quantum bit called a "phase-slip qubit," devised by researchers at the RIKEN Advanced Science Institute and their collaborators, has enabled the world's first-ever experimental demonstration of coherent quantum phase slip (CQPS). The groundbreaking result sheds light on an elusive phenomenon whose existence -- a natural outcome of the hundred-year-old theory of superconductivity -- has long been speculated, but never actually observed.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Low water in the little creek!!

Here some photos of the low water levels of the creek:

First ones from 5th MAY 2011:

Then we had a wet summer and the water level rose back to "normal, which is about half way up the dry part. The creek bed in the upper photo was dug out shortly after I had taken the photos too.

These two are from 4th February 2012:
Lots of water in this photo (and not only because of the dug out during the previous Spring)
Lots of water upstream too; this is the normal level of water.

Now, we have April!! Snow melt and Spring rain filled the creek)

"Ducky" swimming over the dug out part of the creek; 2ndApril!
"Ducky" on the 10th April; water again a bit lower.                       

Upstream side of the bridge; hens picking in the dry soil; 17th April

Usually the water is right up the the stones!! And if you compare this photo with the one from May last year you an see that the water level is already below the one from then!!
17th April 2012. Notice the gap between the plants /soil edge and the water?? In the February photos the plants were level with the water (ice building on the edge)
Further downstream I can see the water levels being even lower. I'm passing the creek nearly every day with the train. I took a few photos of the low level. They turned out all blurry due to the train being so fast! *lol*
Best ones:
See how the high waters of last summer washed out the creek bank?? And now it's even lower than the normal level; noticeable at the bottom of the wash-out being horizontal visible - that is already the creek bed!!

With normal water levels these stones are half submerged. High "tide" (flooding after heavy rain) last summer made the water go beyond the creek bank right into the grass and fields beyond.
And it still hasn't rained much and we are having cooler than "normal" for this time of year. 
Still, if asking the people on the street they say it's all normal and OK. They like the dry weather, the water low in the creek -- oh, no, not really (without actually looking at the creek) or they accuse the fish ponds up stream to keep all the water back.
But that has been done in the last years too! And the "fish farmers" complain about not having enough fresh and fast running water through their ponds, the land farmers complain about it being too dry too - the plants are "thirsty" and not thriving well; as if it was a hot summer (like in middle of June or July and close to harvest time).
But, yes, all is normal ^^;;

I'm keeping a watch on this.

Monday, April 16, 2012

An Instance of Feeling of Timelessness

Have you every had the feeling that something is wrong and it takes you a while (one that seems to be ages but is only seconds or even nanoseconds) to realize what it is? As if time either stood still or that there was no time at all. An instance of timelessness.

Well, today I had such an instance.
At work we have this "Senseo" coffee machine as shown above (but in blue). 
I felt like having a hot cup of decaffeinated coffee (can't make green tea with that machine :( ).
So I did all the routine things you need to get that one cup of coffee done.
While it would heat up the water I went away and did some work.
A few minutes later (I know the approximate time it needs) I went back to the machine and pressed the button on the right (the one for double amount of water - for a big cup).
Now time seemed to stretch.
I heard the machine start, pumping the hot water up to the pad.
I could smell the first drops of steaming coffee.
I saw the coffee come out of the outlets.
I followed the stream of coffee downwards.
I saw it pass all the way to the grid.
Where is the cup? 
Had I forgotten to place it underneath? I couldn't remember. 
My co-worker was still on the phone.
A truck passed outside casting a big shadow.
It's still cloudy outside. 
The coffee is still running - but not making a mess on the table.
Why? Where did it go?
AH!! There is a flat bowl under the grid. 
The coffee flows into it.
I better place the cup into the stream of coffee before the bowl overflows.
Where is that cup?
Better turn off the machine. 
Press the middle button once. 
The coffee stops streaming.
How do I get the coffee out of that bowl under the grid?
Oh, the grid can be removed.
Big smile.
Lift the grid.
Take the cup from the small shelf next to the sink (that's where it has been the whole time).
Place it on the table next to the machine.
Carefully take the nearly full bowl and pour the coffee from it into the cup.
Wash out the bowl.
Replace the bowl to the machine. 
Wash the grid and replace that as well.
Restart the machine.
The co-worker is finished with the phone.
I go to her to ask if she would like to have a cup of coffee too?
No, thank you.
I go back to see with wonder that the cup is nearly overflowing now and the water tank much emptier than it usually is.
I turn off the machine and do the routine to finish the coffee brewing (i.e. removing the used pad).

I take my overfull cup carefully as not to spill any and sip off the first few mouthful before I walk with it to my workplace again.

Overall, watching the coffee stream from the machine over stopping it and then finally having my coffee did not take any longer than usual.
But to me it seemed to have been longer than that. As if it was a moment of timelessness.
And it was, as if I could see myself standing there, watching in wonder how the coffee flows out of the machine and into the grid. 
Like a child that sees this for the very first time. Not aware of the fact that this was not the way it was supposed to be.

And then all fell back into the "reality"and I could take the action needed in this situation. I was back "in time".

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Learning Computer Coding - a "final" conclusion

Well, now it's been 7 weeks (a bit less for me as I was a so called "late starter") that I had started this online course on coding in Python. Udacity Course CS 101 - Building an Search Engine
The way this course had been done suited me well - short steps with a quiz to check if you understood it; after a week some homework to solve, and at any time I can fit into my regular schedule - this is really "educating the (and in the) 21st century"!! 

And what some awesome weeks these have been.
Not only learning to code in Python, but learning a lot more too. About time management, logic (or not so logic) thinking, learning to learn like a student again, sticking to strict (computer language) rules and still be free to be creative, a deeper understanding of what computer and Internet is all about (past, present and future - referring here to the last Unit mainly), and making new contacts through taking this course. I met all sorts of people (virtually) and communicated with them about coding and problem solving in a way that I before never had thought I would do.
It was fun and a win-win for me!! I do not regret it at all - though it wasn't easy to get all things organized and I'm sure I've been neglecting some things I would and could have done in that time as well.

The turning point of "being obsessed" about going through this course (and wanting to "achieve the best grade") was when I had to jump in at work (real life) for sick co-workers. It meant being away from home (and the computer) more often than assumed when enrolling for the course.
Now responsibility in daily life (real life - not virtual one) kicked in and took over - I had to set priorities. 
At this point I felt I needed to write about this in the Udactiy forum. I had been visiting it sporadically before to find hints on solving some homework questions. And found very nice and helpful people there. And I also saw that I was not the only one having problems with the fast speed new information was presented and juggling the normal life to it as well. 
Here is what I wrote:
As much "fun" all this is and truly helps me to understand computers and their programs better
I will have to downgrade myself from "student status" to just watching the video and doing the quizzes and do some of the homework but fail at most of them
due to my "normal" offline life getting into the way of my "online" life ;).
Cheers and heads up for all that are still managing this.
I'm not saying goodbye or farewell at all. I'm only stating that I now know that this type of course is not made for me at the phase of life I'm in. Not that I feel too old or stupid to learn this. I just can't spend as much time on it as I would want and need to.
3 hours a week is not enough to watch the videos, understand what is being explained and answer the quizzes and do the homework (correct of course).
If you feel the same way - just add your comment. and, like last week, I am writing a blog entry too on this (
edit: this has now been posted:
Feel free to read it and even comment there (or here) I LOVE to get feedback - not just a "incorrect" or "correct" lol
and for those still interested in my experience of learning computer coding - here the direct link to the first blog entry as well:
(And if there was a way to make some posts sticky this one I would suggest to be one of them -- it might help those that are frustrated for not being able to keep up with the course. You learn something for sure, no matter if it is coding or something else. I say this is a win:win situation.)
I had quite a lot response to this, all giving me a "heads up" and keep going and telling me that they were in similar situations at that moment. I felt "at home" and being cared about. 

So, I continued whenever I could - but, with nearly a week pause, it was as if I had forgotten all that I had assumed I had learned. It took me a bit time to remember how I had done it before - but once I was back "in" all fell into place and I could solve the questions. "Eureka"!!
What a downfall this was when I came back after the homework had been graded only to see that it was once more marked as "incorrect". I went over to the forum. And many were lamenting there about the incorrect grading of a correct homework. It was a tiny bug in the grading system: i.e. leaving indented lines (empty) at the end of the code, having forgotten colons, leaving in print statements instead of putting the "#" in front of them to mark them out again.
And the "teachers" and "assistant teachers" read those posts and soon we were informed of this bug and that the grading would be revised as well as to the hints on what to avoid before submitting.
I "struggled" along; not as euphoric as at the beginning of the course, but still eager to keep at it until the end. Then this happened:
And now it happened: my Internet was "gone" poof for over three days. I couldn't continue with Unit 5 and latest now I would have to "downgrade" myself as I'm "running out of time" to catch up.
I had added this to my previous post about "downgrading". And again the response was quite unexpected good. Some more "heads up" and "I am in the same situation"; but also some "thank you for showing I'm not the only one having problems with keeping up" answers and comments!
OK!! This only confirmed the feeling I already had before: my "strength" is not coding in itself, but writing about my experiences.
So I kept bumping and adding a bit to this post for all the ones that felt like me - and for the many newcomers and late starters too. As well as working my way through the units and keeping on learning more about coding.
At the beginning of the final exam I still had not finished Unit 5 and 6. We had a week for the exam - so I deiced to give it a try anyway and whiler I move through the last units solve the exam questions in a parallel way. And I was quite surprised that a few of the questions already could be solved after having watched ONLY the first three units. (Well, after Unit 3 we had been told that "now we know all that we need to know to code" although it might not look nice or be in an effective way. )

Though I guess at my first look at the exam questions my face must have looked similar to this:

I did recognize what I was supposed to do - but I was at a loss at how to start it. My brain went blank. For a few moments until I dived into it. I also headed back over to the forum and asked for a few hints. 
For the exam the help policy was stricter than before for the homework but even the tiniest hint (and often enough not for the actual problem I was working at) helped me along. Also to mention three out of many that "tutored" me more or less already before the exam (and, if I ask them, surely even after the course is over, going through some of my wrong answers to understand why they were wrong):

Then there was a scare for all about half way through the exam time: running codes AND submitting them didn't work "on site". It took about 24 hours to resolve this issue -- and those hours were added to the end date of the exam. While the on site program didn't run (with links given in the forum) I could work on my answers with another Python interpreter (it too had been posted in the forum sometime before but I had negelcted it): Online Python Tutor (remove the start code - type in your own and then see on the next page how it works step by step). This visual was awesome for me - for the first time I could actually SEE the steps my code went through until it printed the output.
From this point on (and by repeating a few lessons in the units) I could answers ALL the regular questions. (And hopefully correct this time -- results are not officially out at this point of writing.)

Overall I can say (and did so in one of the numerous questions after the exam):
The "coolest" thing I learned is not the coding as such, but how with the help of asking the right questions and giving answers that can be understood well, all (in the forum) helped together to go through this course with more than just the videos, quizzes, homework -- a team effort not to be neglected.
And that my main field will never be coding and that I'm gratefull for all those that do it so I can simply use the systems, sites etc.
And checking "my" post I was amazed at the response:
WOW -- close to the deadline of the course/exam and I have 656 (or more) views on this "question" and also around 235 views on the frist mentioned link of my blog.
Thank you all very much - this is really amazing for me.
Yes, by now these numbers have grown again. They do "push my ego" a bit - and confirm once more that with writing and sharing it I (personally) can reach more people than but just writing some code. As I sadi above I'm thankful for all that do the coding so I can spread my goes hand in hand - all working on this global network.

MANY, MANY THANKS that I had the opertunity to take this course (no matter what final result I will have) it is a win-win thing I did. A great expereince I do not regret at all. (And who knows, maybe I will enrole into one the upcoming courses at Udacity too. Two sound rather interesting for me!!)

So, to all "Udacians" I can say - maybe we'll see each other in the next hexamester. If not, keep on going and "good luck".

Or as I would code it: 
if "I do" + "you do":
    return True
    return False
We have grown to feel like a community. I hope this will last longer than the course. ANd that it can reach out to other parts in life - virtual and real. "All for one and one for all." -- there is a deeper meaning behind it, it seems.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Happy Easter!!

After a cold day; mixed with clouds, rain, snow, and even a little sunshine yesterday
today started with bright sunshine. 
A perfect weather to get up early and see the sunrise and enjoy nature. I didn't wake up in time - my bad.
So you will have to do with a sunrise from another day:

sunrise from 2.1.2012 - a fresh beginning like today

A tradition in my area is to decorate the wells in the village. Each year it has a slightly different look. This is year's approach of Easter decoration on it:

So, since I missed the actual sunrise, my Easter day usually starts with a big breakfast:
breakfast table for Easter 2010
But this year - I even missed that. I stayed in bed too long; dreaming such nice, warm dreams of sunshine and beach and happy people all around me: ;)

So maybe I'll eat some rabbit cake like these as I still have some time to make them:
rabbit cake, 2011
Whatever will happen today, I will enjoy it. I hope you too have a good and happy day; no matter if you celebrate Easter for it's original reason, out of tradition or not at all!!! And I do better eat them all!!!!

Why? I took this online course and came across "Fibonacci and rabbits"! Well, think of the cakes (or pairs of cakes) as multiplying in a Fibonacci way. Soon (without eating any of them or them spoiling in any other way) there will be so  much cake I'd be swamped by rabbit cake. *LOL*
Here a video that explains it a bit more visually: (And once I know if I'm allowed to, I will link the actual Udacity course video that explains it too - but as it's a quiz answering video it may not be possible. )

OK, I have received an answer:
"We are encouraged by all the efforts our students have made to make our content available in other ways and to enhance it, so have decided to license our course content under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 license. This license allows others to redistribute and adapt our content as they wish, so long as it is attributed to us and is not used for commercial purposes without our permission. We fully support those who have created other ways to access our content through alternative video distribution channels that make our courses more accessible and useful, and encourage efforts to develop original creative content that builds on our course content. Please share any new distributions or adaptations you produce by posting them on the course forum." Udacity
So here additionally the link I mentioned above:
Fibonacci Rabbits  
At the beginning is some explanation of how to calculate this in Phyton - but then comes the good part when calculating at what pint there's be more rabbits in weight than the mass of the Earth!!


Happy Easter!!