Category Archives: Random

Random rants by rabid raving rats.

New design: lighter, meaner, mobile-friendlier

Welcome to the brand new!

The past few months have been significant for me, and I haven’t had much time to devote to this website, let alone update its design. Still, an update was necessary, especially given that the old one was still not mobile-friendly.

So, a few hours of playing around with simpler designs later, I started to prepare a new one. The result is in my view cleaner, lighter, more fun. Also, it finally works well on my iPhone.

I’m also thinking about migrating away from itself. As time goes by, the link between what I do and Arpia feels more and more remote… which means that I may link the server itself with a new domain name in the coming months. We’ll see.

Feel free to play around with the new design. The randomised paint blobs still appear all over the place, so reload a page to see different blobs appear instead.

I may soon post an actual update in terms of content. After all, the past few months have been life-changing in many ways. In that case… stay tuned!

Brick Painting: build your own LEGO-based reproductions

For a long time now, I’ve wanted to decorate my apartment with paintings. Ideally some of my favourite paintings, too, but a Monet isn’t exactly a small purchase, and learning to copy Van Gogh isn’t exactly a rapid process.

It turns out I can make copies that are more tangible than a print-out and that say “look, I am art!” in a completely different way, all thanks to little LEGO blocks.

I have discovered the world of Brick Painting.

Continue reading Brick Painting: build your own LEGO-based reproductions

The Brick Painter, for all master builders

The Brick Painter is a little web application that converts any image you feed into it (within reason) into blocks. Specify the height or width in blocks, choose the colour set, and it generates the brickified image for you.

It then tells you which colours of bricks are needed to build the image, and in which quantities. This allows you to then (if you are crazy enough) build it after ordering the relevant bricks (if you don’t have them in stock).

The Brick Painter is also released under a BY-NC-SA Creative Commons licence, so if you are into coding you can download the entire package here and improve it as you please. Hopefully the minimal comments in the code help.

Update: read more on the build process on the follow-up post, Brick Painting: build your own LEGO-based reproductions.

Closing 2012 with new web tools

Sorry to the Maya people, but 2012 is really the beginning, not the end. For me, that is, and particularly with respect to the web.

Together with Sandrine Kinart, I launched the website (a.k.a. to accompany the publication of an article on building and defending one’s e-reputation. It tells the tale of a fictional company (Janssens-Quidam) and its very trendy product (the Cat Hat, “too cute to wear”) and is meant as a practical guide, so we’ve tried to make legalese understandable and useful. Even if you’re not part of a Belgian company, it’s worth at least a good, long look. And it’s available in English, French and Dutch. And for different devices.

In addition, De Boeck Professionals, a major publisher (certainly in the Belgian legal world), agreed to integrate an Interest Calculator I wrote into their legal database, StradaLex. I’m hoping that lawyers, in-house counsel and other legal practitioners across Belgium will find in the Interest Calculator a useful tool to take away the daunting aspect of computing interest. Now obviously, the world will come to an end if computing interest becomes “fun”, so I’ve tried to stick to making it “easy”.

I also cooked up a few other (more random) web tools, such as a law-related URL shortener that I used in the e-reputation article and on the e-reputation website. It’s definitely not “production-grade”, but I’m now in the mindset where if I think “Things would be easier with …”, chances are my next thought will be “I wonder whether I can make a web app for that”.

All in all, things are exciting. 2013 may turn out to be a very good year!

Luck in life

100m2 is the latest figure in my life. It describes the amount of space I have just acquired in exchange for signing a contract saying I’ll be paying a bank for the next 20 years. As of today, therefore, I am in debt. The logic is the following: Peter owns an apartment, and the bank owns Peter.

It marks yet another changing point in my life. Just 15 months ago, I was a student, and from one day to the next, I started working for a law firm. 10 months later, I was signing the first of several documents that would ultimately lead to this day, when I actually own real estate.

I think it’s fair to say that I’ve been extremely lucky in life thus far:

  • I have a job (a few people I know have been looking for one for several months)
  • I really enjoy my job (several people I know don’t enjoy theirs as much or actually dislike it)
  • My job pays well (some I know are paid close to minimum wage)
  • I was able to buy a flat (not all those with only one year of work behind them get bank funding)
  • I think said flat suits me, and I see real potential in it [i.e. for when I’ll actually have furniture in it]

My great-uncle often says that it’s all about being the right person in the right place and at the right time, but I’ve never been sure I’m the right person. What I do know is that I’ve been extremely fortunate, and have my family to thank for that in great part.

Of course, there’s always the risk that the wind might change direction. If my luck turns for the worse, I could be left with a massive debt that would force me to sell the flat. The problem with that kind of thinking is that it would make me gloomy and fearful of tomorrow.

Instead, therefore, I’ll keep on believing that, while possibly premature and potentially very brash, my move to buy was the right one. After all, it gives you a boost in self-confidence, and having the right dosage of that allows you to do pretty much anything.

Enter the professional life

Yesterday (Friday 1 October) marked the dawn of a new era in my life, namely the start of my work life. As a lawyer, I fear that my free time may be dramatically reduced, which means less time to devote to music composing, Arpia in all its facets, web design and other things.

I shall be working as a lawyer in the Brussels office of Loyens & Loeff, a Dutch firm, and in their “Commercial/Intellectual Property/Information Technology” department to be more precise.

After my first full week (i.e. the one that starts on Monday 4 October, with my taking of the lawyer’s oath at the Brussels Court of Appeal), I shall post my thoughts on this new environment. Until then, know that my first day with Loyens is best summarised by three words: fascinating, intense and exhausting (all in a very positive way).

Law Code: a new website for a new topic

Rather than keep on posting my random thoughts about the effects of code and law, I thought it might be good to create a new website for the discussion of the effects of the adoption of code as a means of regulating behaviour.

If you have any interest in the questions of why countries filter the Internet, of why speed bumps are preferred to simple car speeding laws, of how Alex in A Clockwork Orange may be our future, I heartily recommend that you take a look at, a place where a few friends and myself will attempt to bring these questions into the open, with the hope that as time goes by, people from all over will contribute articles or short columns.

You don’t need to be a lawyer and you don’t need to be a technologist. All you need is an interest, however remote, in the questions that will appear there. So why not take a look and see what you think?

Law Code: choice is but a memory.

Bye Bye London

When I was twenty-two,
It was a very good year,
It was a very good year for independent life,
And nights in London town,
We rarely felt down,
And had great things to do,
When I was twenty-two

Thus Ervin Drake’s song (popularised by Frank Sinatra) would have gone, had the composer of “It Was A Very Good Year” benefited from my support as lyricist.
The academic year of 2009-2010 has now come and gone, and I believe my time in London was not only well spent but also great fun.
Between work and play, squirrels and pigeons, Irish and Indian, cuisine and grub, it was a wonderful blend of smiles and tears (well, not quite) from mid-September to end of June.

Continue reading Bye Bye London

The Order of the Two Magpies

An art historian, P.C., who wishes to remain anonymous, has uncovered a plot deeper and more fascinating than any work of fiction by Dan Brown: that of the Order of the Two Magpies.
It is a tale of intrigue and mystery to which the only clues are to be found in art, in a vast collection of paintings dating back to the 15th century.

The existence of the Order of the Two Magpies was unknown to most of the world for many centuries, but on 3 June 2010, P.C. discovered an anomaly in a number of paintings exhibited at the National Gallery, London: there appeared to be a motif common to art of different eras, namely a constant depiction of two birds, generally resembling magpies. Their significance, at first deemed to be a mere coincidence, soon led to the unraveling of the greatest mystery known to man.

Continue reading The Order of the Two Magpies

Thoughts on epicaricacy

A few days ago, I had the opportunity to watch the film Four Lions at the cinema. It is a British film about a small group of Muslims who decide to become suicide bombers. Watching the film, I could not stop laughing at the outrageously hilarious scenes, albeit with the nagging feeling that I should not do so: the story is one of tragedy.

Epicaricacy (also “epicharikaky”) is a little-used word, often replaced with the German “Schadenfreude”, that describes the pleasure one feels at the misfortune of others, and the term perfectly encompasses what was going through my mind as I saw the film. As I watched a scene where one of the main characters accidentally blows up both himself and a sheep, I could not help but think of the many times where I laughed at other people suffering/dying (such as the many deaths of Kenny in South Park, or the famous accident scene in Meet Joe Black). There seem to be many, many instances in which the gravest misfortune befalls a character in a story with comic effect. Yet why does this make us laugh?

Continue reading Thoughts on epicaricacy