Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Web as a source of information

I've just read a very interesting article on the Wall Street Journal about fake web "original content", written by Lee Gomes. He claims that he was once hired to produce "original content" for $2 an article where he just had to get articles from other websites and change the wording just enough so that it will look like something different. He ends the article saying:

"In fact, search engines are more like a TV camera crew let loose in the middle of a crowd of rowdy fans after a game. Seeing the camera, everyone acts boorishly and jostles to get in front. The act of observing something changes it.

"Which is what search engines are causing to happen to much of the world's "information." Legitimate information, like articles from the WHO, risks being crowded out by junky, spammy imitations. Nothing very useful about that."

Very well put and quite scary what search engines are doing to the web.

But then there is a second side to it: people are actually finding information (if they know how to search, or are looking for the same thing that most people are already looking, something that is cannot be old information)! And with this, people are making money! I've talked a week ago with a web designer friend of mine and he said that buying an ad at Google was the best investment he has ever made. It is very inexpensive ($1 per click) and he said that it makes him about 150x profit. I guess I've just been the only one that never clicked on an adsense ad.

Finally, soon you will see some changes to this site. I'm planning a major change in direction of this blog, both making it nicer to look and easier to see what you are looking for. One detail: I won't promise any more and better content. It's just that I'll be a little bit more proud about it. One of the major things that will happen is that I'll be moving off of Blogger!

Scary thought, huh? It's been a long time that I just haven't seen anything new coming out of the Blogger team. Pretty much since blogger was bought by Google, it stalled; much like any "already established" system at Google. Look at Google news! Orkut (although it looks like there is a more complicated story behind that)! Google itself! Just projects left aside to give way to more "AJAXy" things, like Google maps and Gmail. By the way, talking about Gmail, I HATE that you can't click "back" to go back to the page you were.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

A weekend of deep work

That's what I'm doing this weekend. But I'm actually having fun, because things are actually working, except something very silly like the connection between my laptop and my linux desktop (my server). It works after I disabled all the firewalls on the server, but it is SLOW, very slow... Not completely sure what is going on...

But now for the more interesting things: it is confirmed that I will be going to Colorado to get together with some friends in two weekends! It's going to be fun! But nothing comes without weird coincidences, right? Well, we are all going with our "significant others". Two of the "significant others" are called "Maya" and one is "Amy". Note that all the names have only three letters: A, M and Y. Just weird.

On another completely unrelated note, today I've received my touch screen glass. Very neat, although being a little bit bigger than I was expecting. I tried to plug into my $200 laptop, installed all the software, but it didn't work for some reason. I'll leave it for some other time to figure out why. But it's exciting that I have almost all components for me to start working on my recipe reader project.

The rest of life has been quite the same.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

The error series

Just to continue my error series... Here is an error I got today:

Error 500--Internal Server Error
From RFC 2068 Hypertext Transfer Protocol -- HTTP/1.1:
10.5.1 500 Internal Server Error

The server encountered an unexpected condition which prevented it from fulfilling the request.

It had to be in IEEE with all this explanation of what is the standard that is providing explanation about the error. Ah... Engineers...

Oh, and finally Imagestation worked! Now I just have to weed through about 200 pictures (from my last two weekends) remove the ones that are not that interesting and put captions on the ones that deserve explanation. Quite some work still left.

What happened to me yesterday? Not much... Didn't sleep that much last evening trying to figure out why I was getting a strange behavior on a system yesterday (and I still don't know what it is) and going around and getting a bunch of papers on a wide variety of topics that seemed interesting. Some very interesting concepts! I might start writing here some comments on the papers I read, mostly for my own future reference, but trying not to be too selfish.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Just a random status... I just tried to access Imagestation again and got the same error! And because I'm feeling like sharing the happiness, I'll quote the error message for the few of you readers that might appreciate it:

Oops ...

Unable to write to cat list file:can't create /raid/mason/www/comp/sony/htdocs/category/.catlist.dat: No such file or directory at /raid/mason/www/sitelib/Zing/DB/Category/CreateFile.pm line 154 Stack: [/usr/local/lib/perl5/5.8.2/Carp.pm:191] [blib/lib/Storable.pm (autosplit into blib/lib/auto/Storable/logcroak.al):71] [blib/lib/Storable.pm (autosplit into blib/lib/auto/Storable/_store.al):206] [blib/lib/Storable.pm (autosplit into blib/lib/auto/Storable/nstore.al):166] [/raid/mason/www/sitelib/Zing/DB/Category/CreateFile.pm:154] [/raid/mason/www/sitelib/Zing/DB/Category/CreateFile.pm:188] [/raid/mason/www/comp/zing/htdocs/album/edit/info.html:264]

Try Again

I'm a little scared today. Lots of things are accumulating on my to-do list and not that many are getting done. And when I try to get some things done, something happens and I just can cross it out of my list. Today it was Imagestation. I use it to store and distribute my pictures. I was adding the pictures from yesterday's hike (more about it below) when suddenly I get a Mason error! Something like not being able to cat a file. Very ugly error - made me a little scared about using the service. However, there was one thing I liked about it: I went to the help page, clicked on "live chat" and suddenly I was talking to someone that just told me that they were going through some maintenance right now and that I should try it again in the morning.

Alright, now about the hike on Sunday... I went with some friends from Jconnect to Oyster Dome. It was a little tough - 8 miles both ways, ~12 km - elevation gain of 2,200 ft, ~700m - in other words: 4 miles going up and then 4 miles going down. My legs are a little sore, but the view was worth it! Drop me an email that I'll send you an invite to see the album and you can see for yourself (although the pictures don't really make justice to the great experience that was seeing it all).

There were two interesting things that I've learned in the hike:

1) People like to take their dogs on long hikes. Lots of dogs going around!
2) They are trying to protect that area from logging! Logging is actually a very interesting money source for the government, so they reserve some areas to be logged from time to time. Walking around we saw traces of the last time they logged the area and left it pretty much bare - about 70-100 years ago! Now they won't be cleaning it all, but will leave some empty spots all over.

I guess that's all I have to report. Maybe this and a link to an interesting but sad article that a friend sent to me today:

The Social Life of Paper, published in the New Yorker in 2002. This was written by Malcolm Gladwell, the author of Blink and The Tipping Point, two very famous books that are not too bad.

Saturday, February 18, 2006


As you must have seen (if anybody actually reads my blog - not blaming anybody, it's just that I haven't been posting anything lately), I have added something to my side bar under the Pheromone Trail part. I found about it randomly going around some blogs the other day and I was interested in knowing what it was going to say about my blog. But, so far, nothing. I'm not sure if it is by date, or if it doesn't like my RSS feed, or maybe it's just broken. I'll wait a week (that sometimes may turn into a month with my level of updates on my blog) until I just give up.

So the weekend is here. Lots of things to do! But what I'm most excited about it that I am planning on going on a hike tomorrow! It's a little cold here and my legs are sore from going on the "forbidden machine" at the gym on Thursday, but it should be fun!

On the more geeky side, I'm testing Camino, a new browser made only for Mac. It looks pretty good so far, but I'll still keep on testing. It so far looks like Firefox (well, maybe it's because it also uses Gecko as the rendering engine).

Another thing I'm testing right now is a suggestion that I've got from a co-worker and reiterated by this interesting Mac Freeware list: Buttler. It is quite interesting, but requires you to get used to it.

Alright, time to get to work!

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Posting every other week makes it hard to follow what is going on. I know... But maybe it's because not much is going on right now. I'm still recovering from my crazy times of working late, but I'm still not back to my old self. I've been getting home nervous for some reason that I'm not completely aware of, and this makes me just not do anything really productive until I decide to go to sleep (or am lulled into going to sleep).

There were a couple of events of note, though (in no particular order):

1) I got an email from a total stranger from Brazil asking what it is to go for a Ph.D. at Oklahoma State University. Ok... He was not a "total" stranger, as he is a student of the professor that gave me the contact to the professor in Oklahoma that offered me the position. But it was quite tough to reply to this email. It's not that I didn't like Oklahoma, it's just that I don't know many people that would enjoy the experience as much as I did. It was a very introspective time of my life.

2) I took my camera for a trip to Central Washington, the other side of the mountains. It was a very nice day trip with Amy. The first experience is that you get out of a place with a lot of trees, go to snowy trees, then just snow and when you least expect, the snow is gone and the only thing you see around you are small and sparse bushes! Semi-dry, a complete shock in vegetation change. Very interesting. The rest had some very nice views, small towns and quite some driving. We left my place at about 8 am and were back at 6 pm after driving for almost 400 miles (almost 650km). Fun to be away!

3) Oracle is trying to buy everybody lately. They finished their purchase of Sleepycat, now they are eying JBoss, Zend (that makes PHP-based systems) and even MySQL. They are following the plan of silencing the competition before they are too loud. Something that Cisco has always been very good at doing in the networks world.

4) I'm moving forward on one of my projects. I bought a $200 laptop and now I just need to be brave enough to buy a touch screen attachment and destroy the laptop. It the project works it will be very cool!

5) I'm also working on my spare time on some things for B'nai B'rith do Brasil, organizing publicity for the Cascadian Chorale, and even sometimes going to the gym (didn't go today because I hurt my back doing volunteering work last Sunday and it's still not good enough for me to feel confortable in potentially making it worse again)!

I guess that's what is going on in a nutshell. I still need to write and reply to so many emails that makes me sad just to think about it. So many "I'm sorry for taking this long to reply to you..." that it makes me feel like I shouldn't even bother replying. And I know this is the wrong feeling.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Randomly saying something

I'm back.. So what's going on here? Well, a lot of things, but nothing really that exciting to write about. Yesterday I went to a Superbowl party just to see the local team, the Seahawks, lose. Everybody was a little sad, but it's not that I was paying too much attention to the game anyway. There were about 65 people in a house that perhaps could accomodate 40. Fun anyway! Oh, and the highlight of the party was that one guy proposed to his now fiancée during half time! No, it's not that they love football and felt that this was a great opportunity to get engaged. It's more like they've met in this same party for last year's Superbowl and thought this was an important day in their lives.

Another thing I did this weekend, besides my normal cleaning process, was playing around with my new toy: Canon EOS-D20 SLR Camera. I'm still in awe with what it can do... It would have been a little better if the weather on Saturday hadn't been so bad.

I've also been sadly following all the rage about the Mohammed's cartoons. A sad, sad moment in the history of freedom of speech and tolerance. I found this article on the Financial Times quite interesting to show what acutually happened: Timeline: How the cartoon crisis unfolded. Sure, like all news, it will probably be outdated by tomorrow, but...

Finally, to finish this post on a positive note, Wired finally published their famous "Vaporware Awards". There are some very interesting ones there, but I can't say that I've seen any earthshattering technologies that were never released. Just modifications on the same theme over and over.