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Gmail lost
Thursday, November 25, 2004

This morning I checked my gmail account and everything non-spam is gone. Good thing I don't use gmail for important email, yet. I guess you get what you pay for.

BTW, I still have one invite left, if you want it.

A couple of notes on gmail, if you want to use it:
  1. The SPAM filter is good, but, I still get SPAM mail in my inbox. I think it could be better - On a side note: I've had around 8,000 messages in my spam box, at some point or another.
  2. 2. I lost some of my email - Perhaps, a fluke.
  3. Depending on the time of day, you get a non-service message - This is understandable, as they are are still in beta.
  4. If you are a 'vi' user, you'll like the keyboard shortcuts - Very intuitive.

Update: I digged around my gmail account, and I all my "real" email messages were not lost. Somehow, they all ended up in my Spam box. Maybe, I put them there myself by mistake. So, gmail is NOT lost.

8:30 AM | 1 comment(s) |

Master of the universe
Friday, November 19, 2004

Education has some intrinsic values. Aside from the multibillion dollar industry it supports, it has some intangible benefits. The main one that I can think of is the generation of original thought.

As a Software Engineer/Developer, I rely in the knowledge and experience I gain from everything I do. In the later years of my professional career, I've concentrated my efforts to become and market myself as a Java developer. Hence, I must rely on education (of any type) to keep up to date with the myriads of Java technologies and architectures.

In other words, without education (of any type), I would stagnate as a person and as Java developer. So, it seems comical that in the 21st century we have some detached members of society who can still say/write things like this:
    What is wrong with everyone nowadays? Why do they all seem to think they are qualified to do things far beyond their technical capabilities?

    This is to do with the learning culture in schools as a consequence of a child-centered system that admits no failure. People think they can all be pop stars, high court judges, brilliant TV personalities or infinitely more competent heads of state, without ever putting in the necessary work or having natural ability.

    This is the result of social utopianism which believes humanity can be genetically and socially engineered to contradict the lessons of history.
    Charles Philip Arthur George Windsor

Perhaps the comments come from the other side of a reality that 99.99999999999% of the world's population is subjected to. Perhaps this is the true sentiment of one person. However, I can't waste too much thought about such statements, since, while such comical statement are being written for whatever reason (or context), I'm busy studying and learning what's new in the next stage of my life. I.e. Challenging myself to learn something new, which I didn't know and maybe didn't have the genetics for it.

Without growth, we have death and without the educational systems of our time (For better of for worst), some of us wouldn't have found that, which makes us get up in the morning without thinking too much of the overlords in the white tower of a kingdom from far, far away.

Charles, said/wrote one thing that I agree with: "a child centered system, that accepts no failure" is wrong. However, not gravitating in the same circles of society as Charles, I believe, that an educational system does not exist to generate productive workers for current economical systems. I believe, that an education system should do what it is supposed to do: educate. Educate the individual to become a freethinking being and to become a finder of new truths. The economical advantages to a society are, nothing, but side effect of the growth of the individual.

As an epilogue to this entry, I leave you with these two points of view on technical education (Appropriate for a Software Engineer):
1. Philip Greenspan. He is a professor of Software Engineering at MIT.
2. Rick Cattell. He is a Sun Engineer who, in an interview, discusses a little bit about what he wished he had learnt in Engineering School.

P.S. Does (old world == old thinking)?
P.S2. I have to say, that maybe what Charles said is being taken out of context and perhaps it's unfair to publish it for the entire world to scrutinize, if it is not meant to be viewed by more than one or two people. But, Ironically enough, due to those who wouldn't stop learning and inventing things (I.e. Internet), even I can comment of what he said on this mundane cyber corner. I cannot help to think that his sentiment comes from a subconscious form of fear - Fear of the winds of change. We will just never know, as I don't think it to be very royally to accept one is wrong at anything.

8:44 PM | 2 comment(s) |

The fear of paint
Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Lately, I haven't been in a position where I don't know much about the subject at hand. Mostly, because I've been concentrating in the professional and logical aspect of my life (Work) and not because I know much about anything :) Most of the stuff I've been doing is Java and J2EE development - Really cool stuff.

Tonight, I was put in a position where I knew nothing on the subject: painting.

Perhaps, nothing is a bit of an overstatement, I mean, I've seen painters paint; I've seen paintings in the past; and I'm not entirely blind, so I can still distinguish shapes and colors.

The model took her place and got ready to be painted. The brush felt unfamiliar; the process of mixing paint confused me as I know nothing of the "color wheel." There are three primary colors and I don't know them. Or at least I don't remember them, since I have taken a couple of physics courses in University, and I do recall the Optics section talking about light dispersion and angles of refraction.

I felt like a child again: waiting for the instructor to tell me what to do.

Anyway, after getting through the unfamiliar feel of the brush and accepting that I didn't know what I was doing, I gave it shot and tried to paint the scene in front of me: a clothed model sitting on a chair, reading a magazine.

The canvas below, was the result:

It has a certain Impressionist quality to it, which is entirely accidental. I was actually going for a real depiction (At least in my mind), and ended up with a blob of paint that didn't resemble much.

After a few tries and some guidance, the shape of the model emerged. Not in its entirety, but if you squint and think really hard of a female sitting on a chair, you can almost see her with a crossed leg while holding an opened magazine.

1:16 AM | 0 comment(s) |

The Future, viewed from the past
Monday, November 15, 2004

A few weeks back, I found one of the coolest sites ever: Tales of Future Past.

It's a recollection of the misguided predictions the best (or perhaps not so best) minds of the last century gave of our future.

I for one, was a believer that the year 2000 would be the most interesting year of my short life. It was interesting, however, not the "flying car" type of interesting.

It's very Futurama like - "Bite my shiny, metal..."

8:23 AM | 0 comment(s) |

It's a small world
Thursday, November 11, 2004

What can be more pointless than this?

Universes visited: So far, one.

Galaxies Visited: One.

Solar Systems visited: One.

Planets Visited: One.

The following are actually from a company - With a business model and all (I think) - I feel like it's 1999 again :)

Countries visited:

create your own visited country map
or write about it on the open travel guide

Canadian Provinces visited:

create your own personalized map of Canada
or write about it on the open travel guide

U.S.A. states visited:

create your own personalized map of the USA
or write about it on the open travel guide

Ah, the things we do to amuse ourselves.

About the map with the red countries thingy:
Cool? Maybe...
Pointless? Duh!?

6:25 PM | 0 comment(s) |

(Radiology == QA) is true...

I never knew what a radiologist did, until today. I knew they were some kind of Dr., but I never understood exactly what they did and what their contribution to the medical profession was.

Everything seems to be related and we can probably find analogies relating one field to the next. I, being in the Software industry, think like someone who is in the Software industry (No surprise there), so, I kept trying to get a parallel reflexion of the medical field in terms of Software. Finally, it ocurred to me that Radioalogist are the Quality Assurance Engineers of the human body.

Radiologist are full fledge Drs., for all I know, but, they do not have direct patients. They only perform glass box testing (They do look at your insides after all) and send a report with a "possible" problem to your Dr. I.e. He/She doesn't fix you, he/she only sends bug reports to someone who can fix you.

Radiologist perform their analysis with the aid of X-Rays (Thus, the radio in their title - radio, as in radioactive). I should feel different after having had X-Rays taken this morning. But, I don't. With all that radiation going right through me, I wonder how many atoms got mixed up and I wonder what exactly changed in the physical me.

Why did I get X-Rays? I played soccer on Monday night and I woke up on Tuesday with back pain. Nothing serious, I don't think, since I can still walk and do semi normal activities. I.e. breath and type.

9:00 AM | 0 comment(s) |

NASA and Software Engineering
Wednesday, November 10, 2004

In 1997, it was a very good year (try this sentence to Sinatra's It was a very good year). It was a good decade for software engineers, software development in general, and the Internet (Al Gore invented it in that decade). It was the go-go 90s and venture money was handed out at 7-11 stores--it wasn't quite like that, but by the way we talk about it now it sure sounds like it was.

Anyway, during that year Fast Company was a hip on-line and glossy paper magazine (they used to throw great roof-top parties; Toronto's club London, anyone?). One article that has stuck with me since then is called They Write the Right Stuff. It's a great article, which portrays NASA's software engineers to be a regular bunch with regular 9-5 schedules, yet they manage to deliver reliable software and with minimal number of bugs.

How do they do it? They have a strict process for requirements gathering and a heavy process of detail design documentation. These documents are probably more complete than anything we've ever laid hands on.

Two things to note:

1. NASA software is nothing like business software.
2. NASA software doesn't have to make a profit.

What I'm trying to excuse is that writing software to generate profit leads to small side effects: it must be written quickly and cheaply.

Can for-profit businesses (or software shops) adopt a NASA-like engineering process and stay profitable in the long run? I wonder...

8:30 AM | 2 comment(s) |

Static or instance calling?
Monday, November 08, 2004

I have always debated if static method calls are OO or procedural programming. I think there is a middle ground for this one.

I also had an interest to know if there was a performance hit by calling one or the other. So I wrote this article/blog entry called Using static or instance methods, together with a small test class.

The sample code is very generic and perhaps too small to come to any conclusion. So don't take my sample as anything scientific or based on any long-term statistics. This is only a sample to convince myself that static methods are a bit faster to execute than instance method. I.e. there is no instance of the class, for one.

I'm sure there is some code out there that will give better performance with either static or instance calling. In the end, it's the design that should drive your choice of method calling. Static method calls don't look too OOish, however, they have a place in OO design.

5:30 PM | 1 comment(s) |

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

I don't know why pumpkins are used in Halloween - Is it because of the Icabob Crane story and his pumpkin head?

Anyway, if you've read back a couple of entries ago, you'll know I'm completing the drawing component of an art class. As any artist in training, still life drawings are a must - It helps to work on composition, relation of space and proportion. So, here is my contribution to the pumpkin cult. Drawn with Conte on Stonehenge paper.

Drawing is very time consuming and it's emotionally and physically draining. Why, you may ask. Well, doing something for 3+ hours requires a lot of concentration and you are standing up doing a physical activity that your body is not used to. I.e. My back and my shoulder is not used to the drawing motions and my back aches a little after each session. The concentration part doesn't bother me that much, since I spend longer hours during the day solving computing problems. As per the emotionally draining part, I can explain like this: if you've spent 3+ hours drawing something and it really sucks, then your emotions become all tangled and your ego suffers a bit too. The whole experience is an emotional roller coaster.

Where did I get the pumpkin for this drawings? Gabriel, my four year old son, went to a pumpkin patch - A class trip from his school - As part of the trip, the children got to pick a pumpkin to take home. Gabriel, for some reason, picked the most deformed pumpkin he could find :)

I had to immortalize his pick (The good side of it, that is).

Here is another version (This is actually a study of the final version above). Drawn with Conte on newsprint.

Note: take my "artist in training" statement with a grain of salt - I hardly think one class of 3 different genres qualifies me as a professional artist or a good one (Mom excluded). Of course, if you want to buy anything, it's for sale and by that sole action, I would become a professional artist. I.e. Someone who gets paid to do artsy stuff. And unless you pay me millions of dollars for a comission, I will not be trading my professional interests for the visual arts.

1:35 AM | 0 comment(s) |

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