Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Talk about frustrations

So here are my frustrations for the day (in no particular order):

1) Character encoding, especially in PHP. Let's say that I basically had for some reason I don't quite remember (and hopefully won't bite me in the near future), some piece that did an encode(x,"UTF-8") ... then another piece that did a decode(y,"UTF-8) ... so you would expect that everything will go back to the way it was, right? Of course not! Everything except some characters, like long dashes worked fine. Others simply became "?"!

And character encoding always is painful on text documents, for example. The problem is that you never know what the encoding is and will be. For example, I had a document in UTF-8 and then I pasted some text from word. Suddenly my document had characters in UTF-8 and other characters in ISO-8859-1. A huge mess to fix it (because I also don't know any easy programs that just change the encoding).

In the Javaserver Faces world, the same thing is happening. At work we've tried to start working on some Japanese things on an interface that was supposed to be all UTF-8 and suddenly all our Japanese characters became HTML-escaped (&#xxxx) and would appear all garbled on text boxes! Yes, it just gets worse if you tag XML escaping or HTML escaping to it. There is something really wrong about all this, but I won't really spend my time thinking on it. I have more frustrations for the day.

2) Private communications becoming public. So, first it started with choir things. I've sent a message to a selected set of people about why I was not going to join the choir this year. One of these people replied to the message with a "life advice" type of email and decided that other people might benefit from reading it. However, it also meant that other people suddenly received my "private" email.

Now today it happened again. I've sent a very short and semi-out-of-context email to some people about a product they wanted me to have a look and analyze and suddenly I receive back an email from the Customer Rep from the company that works with the product replying to what I've said about their product.

3) Seattle residents and this weather fear... Some weeks ago, just after I came back from Brazil, the weather wasn't very good. Raining and a little cold. So everybody was in this gloom state saying "oh... Summer is over... We will only see rain from now on". However, last weekend everything changed and we are having really dry sunny days, in the 70s and even it supposed to get to the 80s today and what are people saying? "Oh... This is not going to last... Next week it is going to start raining and the summer will be over... We will only see rain from then on."

I should send an email to somebody like Paul Allen to stop investing on his "Brain Atlas" and invest on a group therapy for everybody here to stop fearing and being so negative about the weather. Weather is Seattle is great! Not perfect, but FAR from anything to be negative about.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Getting deeper

Some things just don't want to die. Most of them are things that I knew that they wouldn't die when I first said "yes" to them.

One of them is the great email system for B'nai B'rith Brasil. So it looks like it still has some issues, but might go finally online for the first time tomorrow. Still using my server to send out emails. It looks like their server is not very happy about being used to send mass quantities of emails. Anyway, what it all meant is that I still have to do PHP programming in my near future.

The next thing that doesn't really die is my wish to sing in a choir. However, I did miss the opportunity this year (meaning until next September) because I didn't act quickly enough to participate on any auditions. Surely the fact that I was in Brazil when most of them were taking place was a part of the reason. The other reason is that my bad experience with my previous choir kind of turned me off a little.

It's not that I didn't like singing there. Not at all! They are a great group of people, with a very detail-oriented conductor (something that I have been known to always look for in a conductor). However, there were two main issues: (1) I felt a little too young in that choir. It was a little hard to relate to people that are in yet another walk of life. (2) The publicity work having to deal with people that had very little time to devote to it having little time myself was just killing my perfectionist side and making me depressed.

So now I have to find a new way to get my mind off work (as if this is possible right now). Maybe I'll finally finish my recipe reader. I just have to do some electronics work rereuting the touch screen to use the laptop battery. My issue right now is that I just don't have the equipment to do electronics work (yes, I'm an electrical engineer, I know...). And I was just postponing spending money.

Ok, it's getting late and I'm really getting tired. It's been a common theme lately. Not a good sign thinking that next Monday is Yom Kippur: the time that I get to the synagogue at 8:30 am and only leave at 7:30 pm to finally go and eat and drink something. This is tiring!

Friday, September 22, 2006

The last day of the year

Today is the last day of the year, and I'm still far behind on the things I had planned to do this year. It's kind of distressing how fast this year went by and how much changed, without really things changing much. Anyway, I'll at least still get around to sending all the "Shana Tovah" messages to people that are expecting to receive them this weekend. So, if you haven't received yours yet, just wait a little longer.

Shana Tovah to everybody! Let 5767 be a good year all of us. A year of change, but maybe this time with things actually changing.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

A day of random thoughts

Today was one of those days that was difficult to concentrate on one thing. But instead of just getting confused I guess my brain decided to go wild and just spew crazy ideas everywhere. No, nothing really useful, but some interesting flashbacks. Here are some examples:

1) The food that brings me the most memories (not in quality, though) is fried eggs (sunny side up, if you want details). Why the memories? Well, I did eat it a lot my whole life, it was my father's "dish to cook", and it was a great way to gross out Stacy.

2) The food that brings me the best memories? That's tough, but today I will have to say "chocolate cake with catchup". No, I've never had it... And I'm funnier than Fernando's fingertip, or something like that.

3) This is not really a thought, just a link: Web 2.0 Winners and Losers. It is interesting to see that Friendster is there as a loser simply because they weren't able to scale exponentially like their client base and everybody escaped to MySpace (although that's another loser). However, Orkut had also very big problems with scalability and still survived. Surely it has mostly only those crazy Brazilians that have this tendency of being very accepting of errors, but it was ridiculous how many times I got the message "No donut for you"

I was actually impressed that I've heard of all the sites and accessed most of them before reading the article. Maybe I'm more mainstream than I have thought.

4) The Jewish High Holidays start soon. Soon I'll become that silly thoughtful person that keeps apologizing to people for simple things. Good that most of the High Holidays are during the weekend this year!

Alright. Time to get ready to go to sleep. I finally went to the gym today, do you believe in that? It's probably been about 2 months that I haven't set foot on that place, and before that another month or so! And things were still the same. The people seemed different, though.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Back to Seattle

I know I've been here since last Tuesday afternoon, but today is the first day that I can really say that I'm enjoying being back. I've imported an annoying cold from Brazil (probably the same one that first went through my sisters, then my mother) that even made me get out of work earlier on Thursday. But I feel much better now!

So, what is going on here? Well, not that much, I guess. This trip was actually longer than usual and I did spend some time confused about where I was (probably allied to my sickness). I still have dreams about being in Brazil going to weddings! But it was a great time!

This weekend has been focused on helping Amy move in and cleaning (besides making sure I don't do too much as I'm not yet 100%). I've found out that I've gained about 3 lbs (1.5 kg) on my trip to Brazil, so I have to plan on getting healthier again.

I guess that's it. Time to start thinking about dinner. Oh, today I finally remembered to have a look at GameTap and was shocked by their game selection. There were too many "weird" ones to write here, but I'll give you a short list from memory (yes, I'm talking about my memory, i.e., if I can get 5 I'll be amazed):

- Pitfall (yes the old Atari one)
- Planetfall (probably you've never heard of it, but I've spent MANY days trying to solve it on my 8086 days)
- Ultima I-V (if I'm not mistaken - a classic)
- Shinobi (another game I was addicted to some time ago)
- Golden Axe

Alright, enough about picking my memory. Dinner thinking time.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Splogs, where the money spills

So, I've read the now-popular Wired article:

Spam + Blogs = Trouble

and was shocked by one single number: "Between August and October of 2005, they made at least $71,136.89." Every time people discuss revenue from ads on the web I am taken aback. Maybe it's just that I'm not an ad-clicker, but where does this money come from? Why would you go to a website that only has gibberish and click on the ads on that page? I wouldn't, but it looks like $23+K worth of people do that every month only for these splogs from these BYU guys. Maybe not only on clicks, but also on impressions, but you have to have A LOT of trafic to make money out of ad impressions.

So, where is this money coming from? How can they maintain such a leak of excess money to bogus people? Only Google knows...

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Part 2: the dog down the tube

Just to tell one more story, so I've mentioned that on Sunday I went to the farm. On this trip, we took my sister's dog, a very small furry dog. She loves running around in the grass there and barking at the other dogs (much bigger than her, but well restrained). Also she runs away from you in an amazing speed evey time you try to catch her.

Well, my father, about 15 minutes before we had to leave, decided to try to catch her. She ran really fast, turned and banged her head on the side of a water drainage tube. Suddenly she disappeared! I don't know for what reason, but she suddenly decided to enter this tube!

Luckily it was the exit of the water drainage system, so the tube only went up. Also it was quite big, not enough to fit a person, but enough for her not to get stuck there. But I think she got scared and just froze in the middle of this tube, about 10 meters (~30 feet) from the entrance. She just wouldn't leave, even calling her name, offering food, anything. After about 20 minutes of calling her, we've decided to start dumping water on the other side of the tube hoping that the water going down would scare her enough to make her get out.

10 more minutes passed of us throwing water down the tube and she finally left, all dirty and wet! It took us another 20 minutes to clean and dry her enough so that she could enter the car. Result: my parents were very late to an event they were going to attend and had to call and tell people that they weren't going to make it. I was a little late to a dinner with some friends. But the dog is alright.

What a trip! But I took a lot of pictures. Not of the dog in the tube, because I didn't want to scare her even more, but of interesting fruit trees, birds, and other animals. It was fun. I'm labeling the pictures right now and will eventually post a link to them here.

Yes, I am alive - Part 1: the day of the weddings

So, I'm back after some time without writing much. I've been pretty busy here in Brazil. I'm not completely sure I won't be more tired when I get back than I was when I got here, but we'll see... For you to have an idea of how tiring it's been, I'll give you the example of Saturday, the day I had two weddings.

Well, but I can't start it, without mentioning that on Friday evening I got a message from one of my best friends, another best man of the Saturday evening wedding, saying that they were going out on a bachelor party. So there I went... We got to his place at 11pm, he wasn't ready yet... We left at about 11:30 pm and... well, I can't really tell you what we did. What happened that evening will stay between the people that were involved in the evening. The only thing I'll mention is that I arrived back home at about 4 am and then went to bed.

At 8:30 I woke up to get ready for my sister's civil wedding. It was an interesting wedding with about 25 people. I was one of the witnesses (out of 5), so I had to do something besides just staying there (I had to sign my name once). It was a quick event and then we went back to my grandmother's place for lunch. Very good food!

I arrived back home at about 4pm. 6:15 I'd have to leave to go to the other wedding, so there I went to change into the best men's clothes and wait (my younger sister's boyfriend was taking me there and I was first told that we were going to his place so that he would change before going to the wedding, but then my sister decided that she wasn't feeling very well and was not going - both my sisters have a cold right now). At about 6:15pm I went to the wedding.

It was a wonderful wedding, but I won't get into the details. Lots of fun, dancing, talking, enjoying seeing my friends and their families very happy. Also I was able to meet some old friends and to see people from their families that I've met last about 8 years ago. Some were VERY difficult to recognize, especially the younger ones (that are not that young any more).

But the result of it is that we've left at 5am and I got home at about 5:15am. Went to sleep, but at 10am I was up again to go with my parents to the farm. Not a lot of sleep again. I went to sleep at about 3 am and woke up again at 9 the next day (a lot of sleep comparatively). Went to sleep at about 2 am this morning and, for some reason I don't quite understand, I woke up at 6:30.

Oh, well... What else can happen? Wedding tomorrow and then traveling to Rio early afternoon on Thursday? Nah...