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Romario was incredible in Barcelona FC
Thursday, April 23, 2009

1:32 PM | 0 comment(s) |

Ruining every story ever told
Wednesday, April 22, 2009

I'm sure this is no secret, but I was shocked to have found the formula to a good story (excerpt from The Writer's Journey, by Christopher Vogler):
    1. Heroes are introduced in the ORDINARY WORLD, where
    2. they receive the CALL TO ADVENTURE.
    3. They are RELUCTANT at first or REFUSE THE CALL, but
    4. are encouraged by a MENTOR to
    5. CROSS THE FIRST THRESHOLD and enter the Special World, where
    6. they encounter TESTS, ALLIES, AND ENEMIES.
    7. They APPROACH THE INMOST CAVE, crossing a second threshold
    8. where they endure the ORDEAL.
    9. They take possession of their REWARD and
    10. are pursued on THE ROAD BACK to the Ordinary World.
    11. They cross the third threshold, experience a RESURRECTION, and are transformed by the experience.
    12. They RETURN WITH THE ELIXIR, a boon or treasure to benefit the Ordinary World.
I never minded the simple thread every story follows, but I won't be able to just sit back and enjoy a movie without mentally referring to this guide. What's more, if you are a romantic, every period of your life can be broken down in this pattern. Give or take a bit of free will here and there.

4:26 PM | 0 comment(s) |

Tom Wolfe
Wednesday, April 15, 2009

I'm changing my reading habits for this week. Enough Java books. And I've heard Tom Wolfe is an OK writer. We'll see how it goes with The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test.

2:59 PM | 0 comment(s) |

Ctrl-X is dangerous...

I like to keep track of my draft revisions, so that I can study and improve my writing process. It's a good thing I do this.

Today, I Crtl-X a large section of text that I intended to move to a different location in the chapter I'm editing, but I forgot I had the content in the clipboard and continued to edit other parts of the text. I finally remembered that I had removed the section when I looked for a reference. I have to tell you, I panicked. When I finally caught my breath, I looked for the version number I was editing and I just opened the previous version and Ctrl-C/Ctrl-V the content back into the right place.

Why am I not using a repository? I thought about using one, but I don't want to have anything dangling anywhere. I feel safer if I keep everything self-contained in my laptop and my external backups.

Moral of the story: backups are your friend.


12:09 AM | 3 comment(s) |

Google App Engine, Java version, here I come...
Tuesday, April 14, 2009

I finally got my invite for the Java version of the Google App Engine. This is very exiting.

I'm taking 2 days off from writing, so we'll see what concoction I come up with. I already tried the Python version, and I liked it.

4:23 PM | 0 comment(s) |

First draft of chapter 3 is done...
Monday, April 13, 2009

I still have to edit it, but it's getting there. Surprisingly, I hit the right page count without looking.

8:23 PM | 0 comment(s) |

The perfect desktop height
Sunday, April 12, 2009

I bought a new desk yesterday, and I spent about an hour to get the height for it just right. I already had a desk, but it was the wrong kind for me. It was too tall (30") and it was the wrong style (my chair couldn't go underneath it).

Typical office desks are too high for computer work, unless you have a higher than normal chair, but then you have the problem of having your legs in the wrong position. With my old desk, my chair couldn't go underneath it, so setting the chair's height to the right position was a no go.

So, what is the right height for your desk and your chair?

Everywhere you look, you get the correct answer with the following guidelines: the height for your chair must give you a 90° elbow angle when typing; your knees should be bent with a 90° angle when sitting; the display should be at a height where your head is in a relaxed position when working (not looking up or down). But what does it all mean in terms of numbers?

As it happens, someone has already done most of the thinking for us. Statisticians get paid to analyze number and create surveys. Since I was looking for exact measurements, I used this application Find the right position for workstation components. You tell it how tall you are and it gives you a set of values for the heights of your desk and chair.

These values are not scientific certainty. Nevertheless, the application is helpful enough to get you started. For example, I followed the sizing rules and my set up is better now than it was yesterday. Some of my settings are plus or minus half an inch from the guidelines.

What's my new working gear? An IKEA Galant glass desk (my old desk looks like the one above with the big red 'X'):

And a Herman Miller Mirra chair:

1:48 PM | 0 comment(s) |

Movie Theater Exorsism Needed
Wednesday, April 01, 2009

I have a movie theater curse.

I haven't been able to enjoy a movie peacefully in a long time. I tend to sit in front of the "I'll kick the chair every 2 minutes" person, or in front, behind, or beside the guy that has to explain everything to his girlfriend or friends. For example, when someone gets stabbed with a knife and a red liquid pours from the wound, the boyfriend is kind enough to loudly say "that is blood." You don't say?

I'm not a movie goer snob. On the contrary. When I go to the movies, I turn off my brain and just sit, almost drooling, to absorb whatever is thrown at me. I didn't know that Bruce Willis was dead in The Sixth Sense; I didn't figure out Kevin Spacey was Keyser Söze in The Usual Suspects; I was surprised that the planet in Planet of The Apes was...Earth all along.

Going to the movies is a simple concept: you pay, you sit, you watch. The social contract stipulates that "thou shall not kicketh the chair in front or talketh during the movie." So I have to wonder why I have this problem. Is everyone's movie experience the same as mine?

I must be the one attracting all the kickers and talkers. Maybe, it's part of my gravitational field. I'm like the Sun and these people are my planets and I can't get rid of them.

I have theory, however, that may shine a light in my artificial-movie-theater darkness. I like to sit where the screen is right in the center of my field of view, and as far back as 1/4 of the way from the last row of chairs. This guarantees me the perfect experience: not too far to the left or too far to the right that I will have to turn my head around, and not too far back or too close to the screen that I will have to move my head up or down. What I look for is a neutral neck position so that my brain is not thinking, just sitting potatoes.

As it happens, a lot people like to follow my perfect formula to find a good movie seat. I don't know how they found it, but they know. Oh, they know. Sharing the perfect movie experience is not a problem for me. I, however, have a problem with them being noisy and inconsiderate.

Once or twice I have had to turn around and politely ask that the kicking be stopped. This makes me feel old. But it's not old age. I just want to be entertained peacefully. It's not too much to ask.

10:23 PM | 1 comment(s) |

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