About MeAbout the WebsiteContact/DonateStuff I've DoneGuestbookCopyright & StuffLegal/Disclaimer/Cookies

About

What is this website all about and who has made it? Unfortunately it is impossible to summarize this site in a few words, because it is a collection of various and often unrelated topics. In general, this is a voluntary effort to make information available of which I think it could be useful or interesting (or funny). My general philosophy is to solve my own problems and if I think someone else can benefit from my solution, I share it. There is no strict goal and there are no obligations.

The first parts originated in 1997 and stuff has been added or updated ever since. Everything has been subdivided in a few categories. The first is “Educative”, which is general-purpose information mostly related to the internet, computers and digital media. “Hardware” is about everything that consists of physical parts, from electric guitars to electronics. “Software and Sound” is what the title says, downloadable stuff that can be either run on a computer or played on speakers. “Weird Stuff” is, well, weird stuff. Some people may want to avoid this section because it contains mostly absurd humour, some of which is potentially offensive. There is also a webcomic, and like in the ancient days of the Internet, a links page with pointers to some other sites.

If you want to donate to help keeping this site available, some options can be found here: Tip

A complete overview of this site's contents can be found in the site map.

There is also a blog that accompanies this site, but it is rarely updated and aside from some short remarks about random stuff, you won't find much there that is not covered in more detail on this very website.

This site is almost entirely written in HTML5, and every page has been validated. If something does not look right in your browser, or if something like an embedded object is missing, it is likely because your browser is not standards-compliant.
If you are wondering why this site does not sport a spiffy and trendy design, it is because I only really care about the content. I do not want to waste my time on either updating the design every few months to follow the latest design fads, or fixing bugs contained within semi-auto-generated CSS and JavaScript garbage. That is why this site has a very spartan look. If it makes you feel uncomfortable, feel free to override the style with some fancy template.

This site is served through HTTPS, thanks to Let's Encrypt. Plain HTTP URLs will be redirected to their HTTPS counterpart. For websites like these that contain only publicly available static content without any form of accounts or logins, the usefulness of HTTPS may seem dubious, but it does protect against man-in-the-middle attacks when accessing the internet through unreliable networks.

About Me

After finishing my PhD, I continued to work as a researcher in the VISICS computer vision research group until May 2011.

eSATURNUS

I currently work as a senior software developer at eSATURNUS, a Sony company. eSATURNUS was the first company to offer a complete solution for the digital operating room.
Note that this entire website is personal and is unrelated to my work activities. Any opinions expressed on this site cannot be attributed to the aforementioned companies.

About the Website

This website has been online since January 1997 in various forms and locations. For the full history, check out the ‘site dump.’

34SP

This website has been hosted by 34SP.com for many years. This is a company I can recommend, especially for their great service which was always very responsive and never complained when making some rather specific technical request. The only criticism I have is that their shared hosting had rather unpredictable performance and sometimes offered a sensation of being back in the dial-up era. This is not specific to 34SP but to the whole concept of shared hosting of course. Many times I considered moving to their VPS service, but even the smallest plan they offered was overkill for a site like this, and likewise also too expensive for what is basically still just a hobby project.

Debian Linux

At the end of 2019 I bit the bullet and decided to move to a VPS anyway. I looked for a cost-effective solution, preferably in my own country (the Brexit was looming and although I did not anticipate any true problems from it if I would stay with a UK provider, I didn't want to take any risks). Eventually I found Combell who offer an OpenStack-based VPS service with flexible configuration options, the smallest of which is sufficient for this website.
The site currently runs on Debian Linux with Apache2. Of course I had to set up everything from absolute zero, but I had built up enough knowledge over the years to do this, and so far the result seems pretty good.

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Contact/Donate

If you want to contact me, you need to use the Mail page (it is the only way, you won't find any e-mail address on this site, the reason can be found in the informative section).

Don't bother trying to find me on social media. I have no accounts on the obvious platforms because I am not a fan of the whole concept of these things where one is supposed to hand one's entire private life on a plate to a tech company that has grown way too large and powerful for anyone else's benefit. Anyone who believes these platforms are “for free” has no idea what “free” really means.
I currently only have a Mastodon account because this is a platform with no central authority, which is in line with how I expect things to work on the Internet.

Donate with PayPal:
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Only send digital assets that match the above symbols. Trying to send the wrong type of asset may result in the amount being lost forever.

Keep in mind that I do not sell anything on this site, and donating any amount of money does not grant the donor any rights, not even if you go nuts and donate a gazillion Dollars.

Stuff I've Done

Yes, I know that is a bit of a silly title. Of course I won't be explaining here what I did today or what kind of petty crimes I committed as a child (if any). The idea of this section is to give a list of some of the more interesting things I have done and created in my life. Most of these items link to other parts of this site, where they are explained in detail.

  • Comics

    Comics
    This was the first noteworthy thing I ever created. More specifically, I was eight years old when I started my first comic. Unfortunately my interest for computers and electronics became too large a competitor for the comics and I gradually stopped drawing them. Ironically, that was just at the moment when my drawing skills started to mature. I have a page that explains the history of the old comics, and includes one full comic plus comments.
    For a long time, the only thing related to comics I did, was ‘Garfield Sans,’ a simple parody of the well-known cartoon. At the end of 2023 however, I decided to go back to my roots and start a real webcomic from scratch, and ‘SONAIS’ is the result.

  • Music

    Music
    When I was a small kid, I think about the same time when I started working on the comics, I followed music lessons under the impulse of my parents. As far as I can remember I got as far as one year of piano lessons after some years of general music theory, and although I performed not poorly at all, I decided to quit. My next attempt at something musical was much later, around 1995. I decided to have a try at electronic music. At that time, the ‘MOD’ tracker format was quite popular and I got my hands on a program to make MOD songs with up to 32 channels. I ended up making a whole bunch of songs, all of them quite different, and some of them pretty awful. In the end however I did make some decent songs, but lack of time and problems with the software gradually made an end to this project in 1998. You can hear some samples and download an album with complete songs on the music page.

  • Art

    Art
    In parallel with highschool, I went to art academy at “De Lei” in Leuven. This was also under impulse of my parents, but it had a much better survival chance than the earlier music lessons (it was in the same building which had been renovated in the meantime). I was older to start with so I could muster up more motivation, and I had a larger affinity for messing around with pencils, paint and other stuff than for learning music theory. The lessons featured varying themes and practically all styles from simple pencil drawings to sculpting and etching. I had a good time there, but I did not pursue any career in arts afterwards.

  • Text

    Writing
    I even had a shot at writing a story when I was 14 years old. You can find this story in the Random Archive (it is of course in Dutch only and no, I am not going to translate it). It is about a boy who moves to a huge mansion which appears to be haunted. Of course all kinds of strange things start happening, eventually leading to a spectacular climax. Any references to existing stories at that time had probably seeped through movies and computer games, because I had not read any similar stories at that time. Understandably for something written by a 14-year old, the story got a lukewarm reception at best, so I didn't bother trying to write another—except maybe the infamous ‘G. Thirion’ slasher stories which can be found in the Weird Stuff section…

  • Guitar

    Building electric guitars
    Some day when I was about 17 years old, I wanted to have an electric guitar. But those proved to be quite expensive and I reckoned my parents wouldn't want to buy me one, after my previous not-so-successful journey into music. So, I went for the ‘obvious’ solution: I built my own! I first created an unsightly prototype which was basically a long thin piece of wood with strings, a fretboard (which initially had totally wrong dimensions) and some experimental pick-up designs. After collecting information about common dimensions of real guitar parts, I started working on the real thing. The sad truth is that I have little time to play the two guitars I have built.

  • Speaker

    Building speaker cabinets
    My first experiment with speakers was when I was still a kid and it involved a shoebox and a tiny speaker from a tape recorder. I noticed that when placing the speaker over a hole in the box, the sound quality improved. When a friend gave me some car speakers, I upgraded the shoebox idea by making ‘cabinets’ out of much thicker cardboard, which of course still was not quite it. The next iteration consisted of the same speakers in wooden boxes, which were modified multiple times until their limits were reached. After this, I started using MDF and proper design rules with ever improving results.

  • Electronics

    Electronics
    Aside from the few times I blew fuses in the house by mistreating some appliances, my first contact with electronics was an experimenting kit. It was the kind of large board with components that could be connected by sticking wires underneath springs. Later on, I learned to solder by buying some Velleman kits (hint if you want to try this yourself: do not start with the graphic equaliser like I did). I was soon able to repair all the appliances I destroyed as a kid and other things. Eventually I started to design my own circuits, and created my own PCBs.

  • PC Case

    Building a custom PC case from scratch
    If you didn't get the point by now, I like to build stuff myself. The same happened when some day I wanted a new PC. Most people just buy a ready-made PC, and some will go as far as buying the empty case and parts and assemble them. I went even further by also designing the case from scratch, giving it an unusual shape and lay-out. I also hacked a GPU cooler to fit on a graphics card for which it wasn't designed. For any future PCs I will most likely just go the ‘assemble from readymade components’ way, but this was certainly a fun experiment and the PC has worked perfectly during its entire lifetime.

  • Website

    Making websites
    Of course, I made the site you're now looking at — duh. This could be considered the fourth version of this site. I have made some other sites in the past, most of which have been taken down by now. Read more about this and other websites' histories in the “site dump”.

  • Program

    Programming various stuff in various languages
    Some may find this hard to believe, but I initially hated computers. In 1989, before my dad bought a Macintosh SE/30, I only knew DOS PCs with their uninviting black screen and arcane prompt commands one had to learn by heart. (Ironically, these days I use the command prompt more often than GUIs.) The Mac proved to be a much ‘friendlier’ machine, and at that time HyperCard was preinstalled. HyperTalk (HyperCard's easy-to-learn scripting language) introduced me into the world of programming. It would take a while until I learned other languages but nowadays I mostly program stuff in Python, Perl, C++, C, and of course the occasional JavaScript on this site. I also have very limited experience with Java, and I have had courses in Scheme and Prolog, but my knowledge of those is extremely rusty.
    I have a GitHub page for those projects of which I think it could be useful if random people on the interwebs (yes, that's you) could contribute bug fixes and new functionality.

  • Bike

    Sports
    Ahem, just kidding. I will admit it, I am rather unsportive and that is an understatement. As a kid I was dragged along between various sports by my parents, in search of a sport that I would like, to no avail. Eventually they gave up. Swimming and biking are about the only things that I might do spontaneously for another reason than pure necessity. And you may have guessed it: I did not buy a ready-made bicycle either, but hacked one together from various parts…

  • PhD

    PhD
    After my Master in Electrotechnical Engineering and an additional Master in Artificial Intelligence at the K.U. Leuven, I started a PhD in the VISICS Computer Vision lab under supervision of Luc Van Gool. The PhD is about recognizing object classes whose instances are visually similar, like cars, cows, wheelchairs… I got my PhD degree at the end of 2009, and continued to work on the same subject as a researcher until May 2011. You can find publications related to my PhD on the publications page.

  • Camera

    Photography
    I started taking photos in the era of analog film, my first cameras were the cardboard single-use type that took 36 photos or maybe a few more if you were careful. After upgrading to a real (still analog) Nikon, the digital camera era was dawning and I still remember sneaking my dad's Kodak DC40 to school and it was revolutionary despite its SD video frame resolution. I then bought a ‘Nisis QP3 Pen cam,’ basically a stand-alone USB webcam. It took mediocre photos, but it was so small that it often exemplified the saying “the best camera is the one you have with you.” Then I moved on to a Canon IXUS-i (also known as SD10) which was still very portable but took way better photos. After it died, I briefly had a Panasonic DMC-FX37 but I soon discovered the Micro Four Thirds platform, which combines compact size with good picture quality. Smartphones have taken over the role of the small camera I always have with me, but nothing beats an interchangeable lens camera when quality and flexibility matter. I have a profile on DPReview (don't expect jaw-dropping images, I'm stll merely an amateur), and on this very website you can find my recipe for creating HDR photos that don't look garish.

  • 3D prints

    3D Printing
    Around July 2016 I bought a 3D printer, a FlashForge Creator Pro. Initially I did not have many concrete plans for it, but now I couldn't do without it. Check out the 3D printing overview page for 3D models I have made, including my rendition of the (in)famous smiling turd 💩. You can find more models in my Thingiverse profile, but I am in the process of migrating everything to GitHub. Any new models will only be published there, because Thingiverse is degrading into a piece of unusable junk.
    I have made my PrusaSlicer configuration for the FFCP available, and I also have written an article with hints for using the FFCP.

Guestbook

Just as one was supposed to have a ‘blog’ around the year 2010 or social media gizmos later on, oldskool websites from around 1997 were supposed to have a guestbook and so did mine. Although that guestbook had survived each previous update of the website's design, I considered dropping it during the upgrade to this fourth iteration in 2009. Most of the entries that had been posted the years before were spam messages and pranks from former school buddies. Yet, the occasional worthwhile entry made me keep the guestbook, although I disabled automatic updating. You can still send a message (go ahead, Debaene, Kooken & co.) but there is no guarantee that it will be added. Do not use this to send mail, use the mail page instead.

All webpages and graphics (except a few, like many in the Random archive) are made by me, so it is in theory illegal to include my images or movies in your own site without my permission. In practice I have no objections if you want to use parts of my site, except if it would seem as if you were the author of any content created by me. I will be eager to grant you permission to use a part of this site, just mail me and tell me what you want. If that's too much asked, you may copy an image or movie, at the condition that it is clearly accompanied by a note saying it was “made by Dr. Lex,” and includes a clearly visible link to this site. For instance, you can combine the note and link with the following HTML code:
Made by <A href="https://www.dr-lex.be/">Dr. Lex</A>

Quite a few pages have an explicit license, usually Creative Commons - Attribution. Look at the bottom of the page for a license banner. Complying with this license basically boils down to what is mentioned above: you can copy the content, as long as you mention the license and include a visible reference to the original source.

If you want to link to a software download on my site: link to the download page, not the file itself. Many files (.sit, .tgz, .zip, …) will produce a ‘403 forbidden’ error if they are not linked from within this very site. If you use a browser that leaves the ‘HTTP referrer’ blank or replaces it by something fancy, you may also get 403 errors when downloading certain files. I had to enforce that the referrer is from this domain due to filthy crawlers that ignore robots.txt.

Speaking of robots.txt, any crawling robot that does not honor it, risks being temporarily locked out from this site thanks to a simple detection mechanism. I have seen crawlers from dubious search engines tripping this detector even though their website claimed they obey robots.txt. Please test your software before making claims!

This same detection mechanism may cause people who use download accelerators to become temporarily locked out of the site as well. Some of those programs behave exactly like misbehaving web crawlers which are actively blocked. If this happens, it is most likely because your download accelerator is more crappy than average and violates certain standards. Nobody should be using those things anyway: they do not accelerate anything except in very rare circumstances, and most of them are merely vehicles to install all kinds of malware.

This entire site and all included graphics, movies and sounds (unless stated otherwise) are copyright ©1997-2023 by Alexander Thomas.
The author of this page is not responsible by any means for any possible damage done to your computer, your body, your brain, your family members, pets or whatsoever, caused by the viewing of this site or any of the embedded media.
The author is not responsible for the contents of any of the sites which can be reached by clicking links from within this site.

The website itself only places one cookie: the one that remembers your ad type choice in the cookie warning pop-up. Delete the lexCookieChoice cookie to reset this choice.

Some of the pages on this site feature ads, served by Google(1). See the Google site for more info. These ads may use tracking cookies to provide more relevant ads to you. Personalised ads may be disabled depending on your region or your choice in the cookie warning pop-up. Mind that non-personalised ads still rely on cookies for certain functions like fraud and abuse prevention.
Disclaimer: I do not actively check what ads are served. If you see an ad on this site that you deem offending, take a screenshot of it and contact me, and I'll see what I can do about it.

Site traffic is monitored through Google Analytics. This requires some cookies to distinguish for instance between unique visitors. These cookies have a name starting with “_g”. If you want to have no tracking by Google Analytics at all, you can selectively block those cookies or opt out through a browser extension.
The only reason why I deployed Google Analytics on this website, is the dreaded ‘secure search’ Google introduced in 2011, which effectively removed all search strings from the HTTP referrer, making it less useful to obtain statistics from server logs. Lately this got even worse when they hid all other query parameters as well. The reason why Google did this is obvious: to force everyone to use their tools and deploy Google Analytics everywhere as the only means to see what search keywords visitors use to arrive on one's site. So in a nutshell: I don't mind at all if you do efforts to sabotage Google's ability to track you, I even recommend it.

(1): if you have a hard time finding the ads, it is because they are positioned in places that would make marketeers cringe. The only purpose of the ads is to cover the hosting costs for this website and they more or less do that, therefore I have no need to shove the ads in your face. If you're from a SEO company, please do not send me offers to help me improve my ad placement.
Also note that I do not actively monitor what ads are being shown on my site. It is possible that certain ads will be served that I'd rather not associate with my site. I just don't have the time for this.