Saturday, April 23, 2005

Emails and IQ

This is an interesting article that appeared at The Guardian (a very well-known British newspaper): Emails 'pose threat to IQ'. It talks about a study made that points that the constant lack of focus that you get currently because of the amount of assynchronous information you receive is very alarming. It is an interesting point! But I'm not completely sure how to deal with something like this, though... How to make emails, cell phones, etc. less intrusive in our concentration? Sure you can turn them off, but the problem is that our society is getting more and more towards creating devices that are always on, and always reachable. We want to be found, we want to be interrupted!

One good thing about this article: I can blame on something for feeling more and more stupid!

A Passover post

It's Passover again... Actually the first Passover I have here in Seattle. But I can't say it's an exciting perspective. Tonight I have the first seder at the house of a former mayor of Medina (the town where Bill Gates live, where 2-bedroom houses cost about 1.5 million dollars - yes, this place). But the rest of the week will be just taking food to work, because eastern asian food is not very Passover-friendly (too much corn starch everywhere).

Lately I have been going through this very introspective time in my life (again), where I'm having lost of thought, most of them work-related. I wished I could just forget the world for a couple of months and try to get these thoughts out of my mind before they consume me to death. The good thing is that so far I haven't lost nights of sleep because of them. Only had dreams about it.

Anyway, I'll shoot one of the ideas here just to get away from being "abstract": Imagine simulating the behavior of elements in a database to extract relations. This behavior is very simple (and, thus, hopefully scalable): send a message to an element that has semething to do with you. Then you can just analyze the patterns in these messages and extract the overall relations. Instead of creating a hugely connected graph, you can just see the log traces of a graph that doesn't actually exist and this requires much less memory and can be very powerful by changing the definition of "having somthing to do with you".

I could throw some math here right now, but this would be very cumbersome and nobody would actually be interested in it.

Now my only problem is to find time to get it done.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Earthquake in the world of online publishing

As most people already know, today Adobe bought Macromedia. What does that mean? Well, there are a number of things, but I think that most are good:

- Less competition in the field, less innovation
- More integration between important technologies, such as Freehand, Photoshop and Flash
- Cheaper packages for small companies that needed Photoshop for image editing and Dreamweaver for making webpages for example
- Better interfaces (there was a big lawsuit fight going on about Flash using some UI features that were patented by Adobe)

But when are we going to see any changes? Well, packaging is not too hard to change, so I would expect this to happen reasonably soon (in a year). Integration is always a headache. I wouldn't expect to see anything in this direction for the next 2 years. But I'm hopeful! I think that graphic publishing in general needs some sort of reality check.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Ideas.. Ideas... Ideas...

I don't know what happened to me yesterday evening, after watching Mendelssohn's "Elijah" and really missing being part of a choir, my brain entered this idea mode with thousands of things I want to try. Most of them are work-related, though. I can't stop. I wasn't able to sleep very well last night, I don't even feel hungry or tired (by the way, I haven't had dinner last night). It's been a LONG time I haven't felt this way. Last time it was the beginning of my research, when I had very similar ideas, actually. This time I won't be scared of the size of what I want to do, and that's what I'm doing today! My manager asked if I wanted to take the day off and I will... Off from normal work, but I just can't ignore all these new ideas in my mind. So, off to work I go!

Monday, April 11, 2005

The healthy Seattle

It is very interesting to see the psychological profile of Seattle. People here are a little strange in the sense of trying to prove something about their health. Not even getting into the big hype about "organic food" that is happening everywhere (btw: what is "inorganic food?"), but a good part of my co-workers are vegetarian, many people I meet around are vegetarian or vegan, I was asked last week by a co-worker if I ever thought of fasting for a week or so to "cleanse my body"... It is not crazy, it is just off the charts on the "normality" rate. And today I even heard of another person that used his mouse on his left hand, although he was right-handed, because he wanted to "train himself" to be left-handed too. All this "testing your body" type of thing just makes me amazed!

Of course this effect can also be bad. I think I never had so many friends around here that are big drug "enjoyers" or were a lot in the past. I won't say they are "users" and not even close to addicts, but it is just strange. There are still a lot of things I have to get use to while living here. But now I'll just go for a walk.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Resuscitating this blog

I don't quite know why, but I've decided that I do like to blog. Maybe it's because I have grown to be a terrible email writer, maybe it's just because I don't like the synchronous nature of other types of communication (sure I can write emails any time I want, but if someone hasn't had time to answer yet, I feel bad about writing another one), or maybe it's just that I feel that all blogs I read are dying and I don't like the feeling of it.

Anyway, here I am back to the world of blogging. I have been thinking of what I would change that might make my blog more readable, but I still have no good idea (besides working on the layout, but this will still be postponed to a time I have more inspiration - and maybe better software for image editing).

Where to start? Too many things happened since my last post... I went back to Stillwater, defended my Ph.D., came back a Doctor of Philosophy (no, I can't write "official" presciptions - not even to book on philosophy) and now work has been keeping me busy. Maybe I can rant about the Oklahoma Tax system!

Well, in the US you have to pay (in some states, including Oklahoma, but not including Washington) state tax. When it comes to the tax period you have to file all the tax return forms hoping to get part of this tax back. Anyway, I lived in Oklahoma for 9 1/2 months, right? And the amount I've made in OK was about 1/3 of what I've made in the whole year (as expected). The problem is how the OK tax is calculated: it is a part of what you make regardless of where you make it! So, as I've gone up a couple of tax buckets since I moved, I suddenly had to pay $250 in taxes to OK out of the money I've made in Washington!!! What actually happened is that because I went up in the tax bucket, the amount they were deducting from my salary in OK was too little. Oh, and for you to have a feel of how much I went up in buckets, the amount deducted from my salary was about $500.

That's life! Next year I hope I don't have to go through it any more! Hopefully my money this year will help the economy in Oklahoma (although when I was there I talked to a plumber that claimed that OK has enough oil to supply all the US demand for oil for 50 years! One of two things: either he has no idea of how much oil the US uses, or he likes conspiracy theories about hidden treasures).