Welcome to my website Rabalder!

I am Harald, and this is my homepage and blog about things that interest me. For the most part, that will mean subjects in the cross section between technology and society, but I also write about music, film and other cultural expressions.

The content on these pages is made available, and can be freely reused under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike licence. Read more about rights and license here.

Mostly I write in Norwegian.

The Rabalder Blog

Things that don't need javascript

The web browsers support for Javascript allows web developers to embed small (or large) programs into their websites. This can of course be a good thing that enhances the user interaction for the site, but over the past decade we have seen that Javascript has been used to replace existing functionality in the web browser.

Moreover the number of websites that require that you download and run these javascript programs to even function is growing. This is not a good thing.

Film

Chrysalis (USA, 2014)

Three people in a dark room, one holds a flashligh into the face of another.

Still from Chrysalis, 2014.

I found this one on DVD at a second hand shop with the title The Living Dead, which happens to be the title used for the UK DVD release. Took me a bit of searching around the net to find that. It is also known as Battle of the living dead in some regions it seems.

In any case, I did not have great hopes for it, but thought it could bring a bit of the old zombie havoc entertainment. Much to my positive surprise it was fairly low on the zombies, and more on the inter-personal relationship between the main characters. It turned out to be a pretty interesting film after all.

We follow Penelope and Josh as they journey through a ruined city on the search for food and other survivors years after a cataclysmic event that caused a lot of people to become infected with some strange virus turning them into zombies. When they encounter another susrvivor, Abira, their little world changes dramatically.

It’s the dynamic between these three characters that give the film it’s drive and nerve, and in my opinion turns it into something more interesting than a general zombie movie.

Film

Häxan (Sweden, 1922)

The devil strangling a woman in the night fog. Still from Häxan

Still from Häxan, 1922.

My first meeting with this amazing piece of film history was at a screening at Rockefeller Music Hall in Oslo at the All Ears festival in 2003. The screening was accompanied by live improvised music by some of Norways most interesting experimental musicians at the time. Needless to say, this was a cinematic experience outside of the ordinary.

But the film holds up very well on it’s own as well. I have seen it numerous times since this first meeting with the film.

It is an early attempt at what we today would call a documentary. Beginning with plaques, illustrations and tableaus depicting what it claims is a medieval world view, and easing it’s way into superstition around witches and witchcraft. This part is charming enough, but the real gold comes when it flips into staged scenes where actors play out the witches workshop, the witch sabbath (complete with the devil played by the director Benjamin Christensen himself), and of course a tentative witch trial.

The reenacted scenes are surprisingly well done. Not only is the staged setup elaborate and well done, but the performances of the actors are well beyond what is common for films of the time. The version I have from the Criterion Collection is also beautifully tinted in brownish red or blue depending on the scenes atmosphere.

As a documentary it may not have much value today, if it ever had, but as a quaint and entertaining piece of early film history Häxan is gold. Definitely worth watching!

Film

Antiviral (Canada, 2012)

A man with a thermometer in his mouth before a white wall.

Caleb Landry Jones as Syd Match in Antiviral (2012)

This is one of those films that I was a bit anxious to watch. I’m a big fan of some of David Cronenbergs work, so getting to know he has a son that also is a film director I had to check out some of his work too.

I don’t know why I haven’t known about Brandon Cronenberg before. His debut film, Antiviral was released in 2012, and has completely passed me by for some reason.

And a strong debut it is!

Film

The Curse of La Llorona (USA, 2019)

A dark interior with a ghost in the corner.

Still from The Curse of La Llorona (2019)

This could have been a good movie, and while it starts out quite well, it quickly falls into an all too predictable pattern of clichés and jump scares. The film is a spinoff from the Conjuring franchise, and feels like it’s more about keeping the franchise alive than to tell a good story.

The visuals are good, but again the film falls into the traps of showing the monster too much, and exagerated cgi use. I feel that takes away some of the suspense and intensity a film like this neeeds.

The underlying story is interesting though, but deserves a better script and would probably suit a latin american production much better.

Film

Pathfinder (Norway, 1987)

sami boy aiming straigt at the viewer with a bow and arrow.

Still from Pathfinder (1987).

Pathfinder (Norwegian title: Veiviseren, Sami title: Ofelaš) remains one of Norways absolute best films throughout the times. I can’t say for sure how many times I have seen it, but every now and again I just have to pick it back up and watch it again.

Everything works in this film. An engaging story, magnificent winter landscape and an unlikely hero. If there’s anything that reduces the impression, it must be that the enemies in the film (the Tsjuds) appears to be without any human emotions or empathy. They don’t seem to have any motivation outside of being evil. But then again, they are so completely evil that it works out fine in any case.

If you have not yet seen this gem of Scandinavian cinema, I do urge you to do so. And if you have seen it, it’s probably time to watch it again.

Film

Gothika (USA, 2003)

Woman in front of doors with 'Not Alone' written in blood

Still from Gothika (USA, 2003).

This is one of those films I watched when it first was released, and I remember liking it, but didn’t remember anything of the story. So finding it in a second hand store, I brought it home for a rewatch.

Gothika is a somewhat rare bird. It is produced like a straight thriller with both a cast and a budget you would not normally associate with a horror film. At least not in 2003. Except it features a rather disturbing ghost/posession type story which at least in my mind puts it clearly in the horror genre.

With that out of the way, Gothica holds up very well. It’s a creepy and still quite disturbing film. A well told story blending the ghost and horror elements into a more real world story of power, abuse and corruption.

Film

Beasts Clawing At Straws (South Korea, 2020)

Man looking with surprise at bag in car trunk

Still from Beasts Clawing At Straws.

Beast Clawing At Straws set in the world of hardboiled underground criminals, a sauna worker struggling to make enda meet, his wife, mother, not so innocent daughter and a not so hardboiled customs officer with a money problem. While not a highly original movie, it is well made and the story feels captivating and entertaining from the start.

I enjoyed it.

It is available for purchase as a DRM free download from Artsploitation at Vimeo.

Film

Killungard (Norway, 2018)

Nina-Shanett Arntsen in Killungard

Nina-Shanett Arntsen as Anniken in Killungard (2018).

The norwegian underground scene for horror films is growing. Killungard is just one of many proofs of this fact. The director Magne Steinsvoll has also been involved in Christmas Cruelty (2013) together with Per-Ingvar Tomren. This time he’s on his own, but delivers a solid and haunting ghost story set in the north western part of Norway.

Killungard is a good old fashioned gjost story without relying on fancy effects. The suspense is driven by the story, the performance of the actors and the visuals. Especially Nina-Shanett Arntsen is a perfect casting for the role as Anniken. Where effects has been used, they are done subtly and with great effect. A few nods to other classics of the genre has also found it’s way into the film.

I first watched an early version of the film at the Ramasksik Horror Film Festival in 2018. The DVD version that is out now has been recut and tuned a bit, and is a much tighter and coherent film than what was presented then.

All in all a great and at times creepy ghost horror story. Recommended! Go support your local independent film maker today!

signed cover of Killungard DVD

Support the underground film scene, and you can also get a nice signed DVD to show off!

Film

Pet Sematary (USA, 1989)

angry child with scalpel

Gage (Miko Hughes) is getting angry. Still from Pet Sematary (1989).

I read Pet Sematary, the novel, when I was 15 or so, and really liked it at the time. Somehow, I never got sround to see the film when it came out a few years later. So when I recently found a restored version on BluRay at a discount, I figured now was as good time as any.

This is a film without any surprises — even if you have not read the novel. Once the first milestone of the plot is reached, the rest comes exactly as expected. What it does well is the way it builds up the tension. Not rushing it, but not too slow either. It feels like a decent adaptation of the novel as far as I can remember.

Where the film shows it’s age is in the performances of the cast. Stiff dialogue and a bit exagerated performances make this an interesting study of the genre and period. However it does less to make the film feel beleivable or frightening. The sole exception is the small kid (Gage, played by Miko Hughes) who does an amazing role. Especially at the end.

The film was remade in 2019, but I have not seen this version. From the trailer it looks like a much more slick and less interesting production. Younger audiences will probably prefer it though.

Books and comics

Occult London

Occult London cover art

Occult London by Merlin Coverley, Oldcastle Books

I picked up this book at an exhibition of the works of William Blake at Tate Britain, London late 2019. Not sure if it was there on the occation of the exhibition, or if i it’s a regular merchanise at the museum store. In any case it looked interesting, and so it followed me out.

The book is roughly divided into two sections. First a historical section detailing the many and colourful persons and stories related to the subject — and that has some connection to the city. Then a section listing the many sites of the city with some occult historical significance.

Both sections are entertaining, and contains a wealth of information for the tourist wanting to explore this side of London. The author seems to know both the city and it’s occult history well, but also keeps a somewhat ironic distance to the subject.

I found Occult London to be an entertaining read, and definitely one that will be part of the planning on my next trip to the city.

Film

iHuman (Norway, 2019)

iHUMAN poster

iHUMAN poster

The Norwegian documentary iHuman explores the current state of artificial intelligence by letting some of the formative people in the business speak more or less freely. Both the people who work on AI, and sees the technology in a positive light, and the sceptics and those wary of it. Together they paint a fairly bleak picture of what is ahead.

Books and comics

97 Things Every Programmer Should Know

97 Things Every Programmer Should Know cover (CC BY-SA v3.0)

As the title suggets, this is a book filled with pretty obvious advice for programmers. That is not the same as to say it’s not worth reading though. On the contrary: I like this book, and think it is a good addition to any programmers bookshelf.

Film

Dead by Dawn 2018

Dead By Dawn logo.

In April this year a group of friends organized a trip to the Dead By Dawn horror film festival in Edinburg. This was a new festival to me, even though it has been going strong for 25 whole years already! Landing in Edinburgh the day before the festival, we got to see a bit of the city, and did the mandatory intake of Haggis and Whisky. Nice town, and by the look of it, a perfect location for a horror film festival.

Film

Ramaskrik 2016

One of the attractions this year was the screening of Howl from an old train car at Oppdal station.

This report from the Ramaskrik Horror Film Festival of 2016 has taken way too long to finish. My apologies for that. We’re now only a about a month and a half away from the next Ramaskrik, which I’m very much forwards to it! Anyways here is my report from four days dedicated in full to horror films, beers and socializing with other horror fans.

Film

Huset (The house)

Poster for Huset.

Norwegian horror films are getting some attention, and there’s no reason Huset should not get it’s share too. A brand new horror film from Reinert Kiil, which at least I know best from the low budget slashers Hora (Whore) and Inside the Whore. Even though low budget, they were enjoyable films and gave promise of a director that could do interesting things given more resources.

The Rabalder Blog

Are we up for anonymity?

The Berliner Gazette explores the negative stigma around anonymity, and asks what this means for a free press and privacy.

The dominant narrative of anonymity, as portrayed in popular media, is an unflattering one and its usage is associated with trolling, seedy transactions, harassment and terrorism. The conventional wisdom seems to be that online anonymity protects criminals and enables the hateful and toxic side of human nature. Such a negative reputation undermines an important practice with many legitimate uses. Anonymity can also offer vital protection to those who need it most.

Read the full article.

The Rabalder Blog

Setting up Let's Encrypt with Ruby on Rails and FreeBSD

Let’s Encrypt logo.

I’ve been following Let’s Encrypt for a while, and the idea is as simple as it’s brilliant! Make it so easy to add a encryption to your webserver setup that there’s really no reson not to. Traditionally this has been both a cumbersome and potentially expensive investment. At least for smaller stuff like your average blog or community web site getting a certificate and setting it all up has been a hassle.

The Rabalder Blog

Eagles of Death Metal back on stage in Paris

I can’t express how much respect these guys deserve for being back on stage in Paris less than a month after the horrible tragedy they and their fans had to endure. This is the way to fight terrorism! To stand up unafraid and show that we won’t let terrorists or powerhungry politicians dictate how we live our lives. Contrast this to the response by politicians both in France and the rest of europe calling for more violence, more oppression, and more propaganda to fuel fear and hate.

Rock’n’roll shows the way forward!

Respect dudes! Respect!

Film

The Devil's Hand

The Devil’s Hand from 2014 (not to be confused with the film with the same title from 1961) sets a nice atmosphere, but never becomes scary nor very exciting. The plot seems pretty obvious throughout the entire movie, but the ending lifts it up a notch. Not a bad movie, it has some interesting elements, and the setting is beleivable. Still I think it will fall a bit inbetween chairs for the horror fans.

The Rabalder Blog

Kalandra

Kalandra - Onto the fire

I discovered this wonderful band while attending the Fjell og Ord (Mountains and Words) festival at Finse 1222 this last weekend of september. Finse is located at the topmost point on the railway between Bergen and Oslo, and is an excellent base for walking in one of the most beautiful but harsh areas of the Norwegian mountains.

The Rabalder Blog

Stop using noreply-addresses!

Ban noreply addresses!

Noreply-addresses are way to common in my inbox these days. These are usually emails from some company, a website or an automated system that wants to notify me about something. Sometimes it is notifications I want, sometimes not. The source of the email is for the most part irrelevant, the important thing is: I should be able to reply to any email!

The Rabalder Blog

The Puritanical Glee Over the Ashley Madison Hack

From The Intercept:

That the cheating scoundrels of Ashley Madison got what they deserved was a widespread sentiment yesterday. Despite how common both infidelity and online pornography are, tweets expressing moralistic glee were legion. Websites were created to enable easy searches of the hacked data by email address. An Australian radio station offered to tell listeners on air if their spouse’s names appeared in the data base, and informed one horrified woman caller that her husband did.

This is one leak we could live without. I agree it’s important to expose lacking privacy/security in sites that claims more than they can deliver. Especially when charging for something that clearly has not been done. However, exposing private information about ordinary people is not the way to do this.

This is just moralistic self righteusness in a digital equivalent to the inquisition. I’m not impressed.

Film

Clowne

Clowne

Clowne is something as rare as the pilot for a TV series produced by a a crew of Norwegian high-school students. Don’t let that discourage you, this is really well made and very well produced!

The Rabalder Blog

GCHQ and me

A really great read from Duncan Campbell, the investigative reporter who exposed the Echelon program in 1988.

In my 40 years of reporting on mass surveillance, I have been raided three times; jailed once; had television programs I made or assisted making banned from airing under government pressure five times; seen tapes seized; faced being shoved out of a helicopter; had my phone tapped for at least a decade; and — with this arrest — been lined up to face up to 30 years imprisonment for alleged violations of secrecy laws. And why do I keep going? Because from the beginning, my investigations revealed a once-unimaginable scope of governmental surveillance, collusion, and concealment by the British and U.S. governments — practices that were always as much about domestic spying during times of peace as they were about keeping citizens safe from supposed foreign enemies, thus giving the British government the potential power to become, as our source that night had put it, a virtual “police state.”

Read the full article over at The Intercept.

The Rabalder Blog

Some webcomics

Just the way the web has made distribution easier for independent musician, the same has happened for comics. I see a lot of fresh and interesting comics on the web these days, so I thought I’d share some of my favourites at the moment.

Film

Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter

Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter cover image

Kumiko is a disilutioned office worker from Tokyo that one day sets out on a journey to find a treasure she is convinced exists in America. She has seen so in a movie, it is her destiny.

The Rabalder Blog

The stench of corruption

From an article in the Intercept:

Senators, generals, ambassadors, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and the owner of The Atlantic were in the roster of powerful voices who wrote to a federal judge to ask him to go easy on former CIA director and retired general David Petraeus, who admitted to giving classified information to his mistress and biographer.

There is a stark and terrible contrast between how people already in power is treated compared to the whistleblowers that does not have these powerful connections. Read the full article.

Film

Ned Rifle

Ned Rifle cover image

Hal Hartley is an american independent filmmaker who has done a number of films. His latest film Ned Rifle (2014) is the third film about the characters and story begun with Henry Fool (1997). I have sadly not seen the second film, Fay Grim (2006) yet, but it does not seem like that’s a requirement either. The films stand well on their own.

The Rabalder Blog

How big is "Hello, world?"

Rust

I accidentally got an extra day off from work, so then I figured I could have a go at some initial dabblings in Rust. I haven’t had time to play with this language at all yet, but skimming through the tutorial online a while ago got me interested. So off I went and wrote the mandatory intro-program: “Hello, world!”

fn main() {
    println!("Hello, world!");
}
Film

Peter Greenaway: The Baby of Mâcon

The Baby of Mâcon poster. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia.

There’s film, and there’s film by Peter Greenaway.

I’ve been a fan of this extraordinary film maker from the first time I saw The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover. So I was sligthly surprised when I found a new film directed by the master that I didn’t know about. The Baby of Mâcon is far from new, but not one of his most well known films. Released in 1993, it stired some controversy and was refused distribution in the USA. That pretty much sealed its fate as an underground classic.

The Rabalder Blog

A quick script to import data from my bank to GnuCash

Here’s a quick awk script I did to convert the bank statements from my bank to a format recognizable by GnuCash:

# A simple filter to mould the csv from nordea into
# something that can be swallowed by gnucash.

BEGIN {
    FS = ";";
    RS = "\n";
    OFS = ";";
    ORS = "\n";

    # Regex for matching a date
    DATE = /^[0-9]{4}\.[0-9]{2}\.[0-9]{2}$/;
}

# Only lines starting with a date should be printed
$2 ~ DATE {
    # Strip negative sign from withdraw column
    withdraw = gensub(/\-/, "", "g", $8);
    print $2,$4,$6,withdraw,$10;
}

It could probably be shorter. I could drop setting the RS/ORS, but I like to be explicit. In addition to fixing the polarity of the withdrawals column it strips away all the lines that don’t contain any transactions. I don’t need them, and this saves me from having to do it manually in GnuCash.

Not anything revolutionary, but thought I’d share it anyways.

Film

Ida

Ida cover image.

Ida is a really beautiful, slowpaced film from Poland. It’s filmed entirely in black and white, uses a minimum of dialogue, and gives the actors time to convey the films dark story mostly through their emotions. Definitely worth watching!

Film

Among the Living (Aux yeux des vivants)

Among the Living cover image

After seeing (and loving) Livide I had some hopes for Among the Living (Original title: “Aux yeux des vivants”) from the same directors. It’s not a bad movie, but far from the masterpiece that Livide was. It never really manages to build up to a scare, even though it quite obviously tries to. The filming is nice, and the movie is well produced without really fulfilling it’s potential.

The Rabalder Blog

190 fascists marching in Oslo

Fascism is rearing it’s ugly head again. We need to crush it! (Illustration from here.)

A group trying to bring the PEGIDA crap to Oslo held it’s first march tonight. They managed to drum up 190 supporters, among them well-known figures from the 80’s and 90’s neo-nazi scene, as well as more recently active figures from the more recent anti-islam movement.

Far from overwhelming numbers, but by Norwegian standards it’s more than any of the other movements has been able to gather for a very long time. Let’s hope it is the last time we’ll have to endure such scum in our streets!

On the other hand, the counter demo counted some 500 people.

The Rabalder Blog

Popcorn Time

The Popcorn Time mascot

Lately I’ve been trying out Popcorn Time. I know it’s hardly news anymore, but I’m one of those who like to pay for the movies I watch, so I’ve been looking a bit around for what alternatives I have. So far, given my prefered platforms and a requirement that the solution needs to be playable using Free and Open Source software, I’ve really only had one choice: Vimeo.