Friday, July 29, 2005

Double or tripple argh

Today I'm starting to realize how many things I still have to do, even when I finish my big project tomorrow. One of them is a paper that I have to rewrite and has been looking at me for just too long. The problem is that I arrive home very late and I just don't have the patience to write papers. It is an important paper that I have to finish writing, but it's just that it's not that easy any more.

More things that I'm argh'ing about: I still haven't had time to go to the gym this week, since Monday! Just working until so late that I just feel that going to the gym right now will be more harmful than healthy. So I stay home, have a better dinner (or no dinner, like today) and go to bed... Or sometimes come to my computer and continue working...

Anyway, new argh? Well, I still have a ton of things to buy before I go to Brazil. Not too many requests from my family and friends, just things that I think I should take. So that means more time spent on doing other things except finishing this ridiculous paper! Grrrr!

Alright, no more ranting. Time to go to sleep!

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Scared by Amazon

Sometimes scares me! Nothing related to things that happen at work (although these can scare some people too), but related to their ability to read minds. I'll give you today's example...

About a week ago, I remembered a book that I kind of liked called "Doomsday Book", by Connie Willis. I though what this author would be up to, but never had the time and the memory to actually open Amazon, or any other bookstore webpage, to check it out.

Anyway, today there I was checking around part of the thousands of requests that I have received from my family to buy at Amazon when I suddenly decided to click on my Gold Box. It started kind of typical (as of right now): lots of books that are out of stock. What amazed me was that there were 3 (out of 10) of these suggested books by Connie Willis!!! I looked at that I was shocked! All kind of old books, though, but nevertheless "Holy mind reading, Batman!"

Alright, I know it's almost 2 am and I should go to sleep. I'm on my way. I just feel like I'm forgetting something important to do... First I thought it was a credit card that I had to pay, but then I discovered I had already paid it. I should go to sleep...

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

More technology

Why do I think this is wrong?

The Jewish Watch

It seems like a good and useful piece of technology, actually. Here are the features:

The Jewish Watch Alerts you with messages during the following times:

* The time for reciting the Shema
* Sunset
* Candle lighting time on Erev Shabbat (It also rings 15 minutes in advance as a reminder)
* The beginning of each Hebrew Calendar month.
* The Shabbat of blessing the new month.
* A reminder to add the additions to prayer on Hanukah and Purim
* A reminder to add the additions to prayer on Chol Hamoed
* The count for the Omer.
* The Torah Portion of the week (with a choice of setting for Israel or the Diaspora)

Seems reasonable for some people, right? Well, I think I'm just too conservative in this area and think technology just shouldn't invade some things. Imagine that in the past it was forbidden to write down anything: services, rules... Then they decided that people didn't have enough memory to remember it all and we were losing traditions, so they set out to write it all (this was about 1800 years ago). Natural evolution... Natural evolution...

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Thechnology amazement

I'm having fun today being home alone, cleaning, cooking and reading about some new technologies. As there isn't anything to blog about cleaning and cooking (although the tomato sauce I've made tasted just great), I'll give some highlights about my technology update:

Induction stoves: Neat technology that uses electric current induction through applied magnetic fields to heat the food, by heating the pan where the food is. There are two major problems about it: (1) like an electric stove top, it does not give you fire that you can use to flambée, for example; (2) it does not work with all pans, only the ones that can be magnetized (no cheap aluminum, I'm sorry). There are two main benefits, though: (1) there is no heating element, thus it does not leave a hot surface for too long (of course the surface in contact with the pan will heat, but not for long); (2) it only heats magnetic materials, so you can't get burnt after accidentally leaving it on (only if you leave a pan on top of it).

I only wonder how to deal with interference? Magnetic waves can interfere with everything and heat pans that are not on top of the stove! Oh, there is one extra problem with it: price! It is about 3 times the price of an electric stove! Sometimes even more! But it's a cool technology nevertheless!

Apple's Shake 4: You can look at Apple's website about it [source]. It is a software to do image composition, i.e., get a background image and add multiple other sources that were filmed against a blue or green background. What impressed me about it is the amount of features that you get. Complex slow motion, automatic 3D composition that calculates the perspective for you and allows you to move a "virtual camera" around, fixing shaking footage... Lots of very complex image processing steps, interestingly enough involving pretty much two procedures: tracking and interpolating. It is difficult to tell from their examples how well they actually do all this, but it does seem impressive. Hail to the technology!

The last one is not that great, but I just thought I had the "2" theme too much already, so I needed a third:

The new My Web from Yahoo: [source] (note: you will have to log on to a Yahoo! account for it to work) It is interesting to organize websites. It biases results on the websites that you go through and lets you add tags to these websites. It's Yahoo! continiously trying to get into Google's controlled territory. It's not that I don't like Google, but competition is always good. Monopolies are boring.

Amazon's 10th anniversary party

I know there isn't much I can talk about this interesting event I went to yesterday, because it was free for everybody to see through the web, but I can go through some of the things that I've learned:

- Amazon has lots of employees! Only employees were allowed to go to the event (and some invited VIP, but no families or friends) and the line to get in before the event started went almost completely around the block! There were about 2500 people in the concert hall.

- Benaroya is not made for big and loud concerts! First it was strange to see the hall with big speakers and microphones, but when it got to using them, concert halls have a lot of reverberation and when you put loud music with a lot of reverberation what you get is garbled music. If it was difficult to understand Bob Dylan (more on this later) on a clean CD, it was impossible to understand anything he was saying there.

- Bob Dylan is not supposed to sing any more! I should have been more prepared for it when one of my co-workers (or I should say former co-workers, because he left the company on Friday) said that he was not planning on going to the concert because he saw Bob Dylan in 1977 and didn't like him too much back then... 1977! Almost 30 years ago! But I have to say that his troupe was pretty good.

It was interesting, overall, as I mentioned before. Now back to the reality of cleaning my apartment (something that is a week overdue, because I was working the whole weekend last week).

Oh, and I watched "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" on Friday. There were some funny parts, I have to admit, but overall it is as bad as the original movie. The plot was too childish, while the content was sometimes a little deep for a child. I've heard lots of people saying that they enjoyed the movie, but I have to say that I don't enter this list of people.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Why again?

Please tell me why are we back to this:

Americans: U.S. Transit Attack Inevitable

New York police to warn public on suicide bombers

Don't we have enough terrorism in the world?

And on another laughable story (very sad, but it's better to laugh than to cry): the shuttle launch is delayed AGAIN. NASA, the great space agency of the world, just can't find good electronics any more! Oh, well... They have until the end of this month to figure something out! If hurricanes don't get in the way, I'm hopeful that they will make it.

But why go to space, people usually ask? Don't we have enough problems in our own world to deal with? We surely do! But this doesn't mean that we shouldn't develop this kind of technology. There are a lot of things that come with this development. In the computer and electronics world, we gain, for instance, much more robust components, because the electromagnetic radiation out in the space is very harsh.

A lot of numeric methods were developed to deal with the complicated gravitation and orbit calculations that are required to operate space systems. And without the space movement, we wouldn't have a very well developed satellite technology, and I can't imagine what would be worldwide communication without satellites.

Anyway, I should really be having dinner and heading to bed. I just got home from the gym (and then I stopped by the grocery store to buy breakfast for tomorrow). I need a shower too!

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Still at work

Yes, I keep on doing it! And today I'm still going to go to the gym, something I haven't done since Saturday, since the day I think I overdid a little and got hurt. But today I'm feeling almost 100%, so I'll try to exercise a little, knowing that I should take it easy not to get hurt again. It was not fun to almost not be able to get out of bed on Tuesday. Interesting though that I felt alright on Sunday, but then Monday came and things started to get worse. Tuesday was the worst day! Then on Wednesday I was already almost 80%.

Not much else to report, though. I'm a little confused on when I will schedule my big Ph.D. party in Brazil. I have people with completely contradictory schedules that I just don't know how to accomodate. But I'll figure something out! Maybe I'll do it one day before I come back here, so that I won't sleep and will be able to sleep on the plane coming back.

Alright, back to work here, hoping that I'll be able to catch the bus soon.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Interesting article about blogging

Yes, I'm still at work here tonight. I said (to myself) that I wasn't going to do this any more, but I'm so close to the end of it... Anyway, that's not what I'm here about. I "semi-" read this article about blogging:

Bloggers Need Not Apply

It is about the actual dangers of blogging when you are looking for a job. Usually blogs show the extreme of people, it is sometimes used as an escape valve on your normal day. And this is not what a potential employer wants to know! How do you explode, what do you like to do with your "extreme" free time. One might say that this actually shows what the person is about, but I would claim that everybody has their weaknesses, and this only puts a huge magnifying glass on these weaknesses. Not very healthy at all!

Anyway, let me get back to work here, or else I will miss the last bus of the evening (I know, I still have about 2 1/2 hours for that...)

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Ah... Working on Saturdays...

That's what I was doing until about 20 minutes ago. I just got home from my office! Yes, I know it's past 2 am, but that's what I have to do. There is always more work than you expect, always things you took for granted that they worked that suddenly stop working. Lots of fun, but we are moving forward. I see the light at the end of the tunnel, but I'm not sure it's only a day away. But let's see!

What else can I tell? Well, I am alive and ready to receive my furniture tomorrow. One more piece, leaving only one left to go. Now the only thing that is left is one more bookshelf. I'm not sure where to put it yet, but I really need more space for books. I won't worry about this right now, but soon I'll have to.

Alright, let me try to turn my brain off and sleep a little.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Join the military - replacements needed

That's what I read this morning in front of my bus stop. When I looked more closely, I realized it was all over town! A flyer with the above mentioned phrase, a war-like picture and the number of dead people in each side of the war. It had also a website for you to check:

Ah... Living on a political world! So political that on 4th of July, when the US National Anthem started playing, maybe only 1/5 of the people actually stood up for it. Very scary! And think that I was in Woodinville that is not a very liberal area of Seattle Metro.

Anyway, today I found out that more Brazilians are dominating my area of town. I met a Brazilian couple at the gym tonight! Haven't talked to them too much, thought. I was a little tired and they were too! Maybe some other time.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Finally a scheduled trip to Brazil

Oh... Brazil... Friends, parties, relaxing without having to think about cleaning my apartment or going to work. That's what is coming up soon! Today I finally set the dates: I'll be arriving on a Friday, August 12, having my sister's engagement party on the 13th, family father's day on the 14th, visa interview on the 15th and then starts the plans for my big Ph.D. bash! If you live in Brazil, be ready to be invited for this big event! It should happen probably on the 20th (if I get a 100% confirmation with my sister that she is not postponing her party to the 20th) and if my friends still remember me, it should have as many people as I can invite. It is going to be hard to come back (something that will happen on the 27th), but that's life. We keep on living and when you least notice things turned around again.

Now I just have to start planning on the gifts I'm taking to Brazil and bag size...

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Good literature...

I have realized that it's been some time that I don't read good literature and this is pretty sad. I've been reading very interesting stories, exciting ideas, but no deep writing... This changed when I decided to go back to a book I have been trying to finish for a long time: "The best 100 Brazilian Short Stories of the Century" (in Portuguese, of course). It is refreshing to read psychological master pieces written by amazing writers, such as Lygia Fagundes Telles.

It is actually interesting to see that Brazilian literature is fundamentally very different from American literature when it comes to complex short stories. I have researched in this area of the American literature and their goal is completely different. While Brazilian good literature is dense and contains very complex structure of ideas, the American literature is much more towards evoking thought through much more direct discourse.

Now that I've finally finished reading this very heavy tome of amazing stories, I have decided that I should go and continue my research into the realm of short stories and see if I can find any parallels in other cultures.

Well, besides that, I'm back from San Francisco, worked yesterday until 10 pm, had my personal training session today where I almost fainted (don't ask me why - I think I'm a little bit less in shape than I thought) and now I'm trying to clean my apartment a little to prepare for work. There are a lot of things I have to do and a lot of work that has to get done.