Along the Pamir Highway


More pictures with this story:

Just months ago, I knew next to nothing about Central Asia. Probably like most people, I knew there was a group of countries just west of China, with names that all end in -stan. I was vaguely aware of a connection to the old Silk Routes, the former Soviet Union and a few acts of recent Muslim extremism. I had read something once on the near disappearance of the Aral Sea due to irrigation of cotton crops. That was about it.

Adventures in online lectures

A few weeks ago I started teaching a mathematics-course for first-year biology students, as part of a larger three-month Systems Biology course at the University of Utrecht. A couple of years ago the university started to record a number of its lectures, which were then made available online for students and the general public. I think that this is a very good thing in general. From an educational perspective, it allows the students to choose where and when they follow lectures, and it allows them to revisit subjects that they may find difficult.


Zo dat was een gezellig feestje in Den Haag: zo'n 15000 mensen die ongenuanceerde dingen roepen over het kabinetsbeleid, zoals dat hoort in een fatsoenlijke demonstratie. ;-) Des te opvallender dus dat de kamerleden van VVD en CDA op het podium schijnbaar geen beter argument wisten te verzinnen dan "economie gaat vóór onderwijs". Echter als de geschiedenis ons íets heeft geleerd dan is het wel dat korte-termijnbeleid op het gebied van onderwijs vrijwel altijd rampzalig uitpakt... Rare jongens, die politici.

Use and abuse of the Facebook "Like"-code

A while ago I noticed that a lot of my Facebook friends "liked" a page called "This Man Took A Photo Of Himself Everyday For 15 Years In A Row, Look at the Results!", or something similar. Curious as to what that was about, I clicked on the link. It transferred me to a page that, in addition to embedding the (rather cool) video "Living My Life Faster" by JK Keller (don't worry, harmless link), added itself to my "liked" pages without my approval...

Food for Thought on Food

Although it has hardly received any media attention here amongst the hype of the European Soccer Championships, just over a week ago the FAO organised a big conference on World Food Security. As I had some trouble concentrating on my research report last Friday, I went clicking through the FAO press releases.

Microsoft, ODF and the importance of Open Standards


As almost anyone will know, the de facto "standard" document format for the last decade or so has been the MS Word Document, or .doc file. Every week I receive dozens of .doc and .xls files per e-mail. And every now and then I try to convince people to store their documents in a different file format, usually without much success. So what's wrong with using .doc files anyway?

LaTeX formulas in ODF and Word documents

UPDATE (2012-10-01)

OOoLatex is no longer being updated by Geoffroy Piroux. Roland Baudin has created an up-to-date fork for LibreOffice called TexMaths. To install that on a recent version of Ubuntu, first get the required packages:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:martin-gieseking/ppa
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install texlive dvipng dvisvgm

CCC 2007

Coming to you live from the Chaos Communication Camp 2007, in Finowfurt, Germany.
I gave a talk entitled "Life & Complexity" here on Thursday. Some supporting material regarding this talk is available on this site.

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