Showing posts from October, 2004

Bush's Misdeeds in summary form

100 Facts and 1 Opinion, an article with referenced facts against the Bush administration. Good if you want to spout intelligent facts to a Bush supporter.


A few months after 9/11 we started seeing Americans asking the question "Why did they do that? Why do these people hate us so much?". The answer, partly, is that the religous and political leaders in these Islamic countries created a propaganda of hate against Americans and the American Way. Shame on them.
But wait a minute, isn't that similar to the propaganda that we did for decades against Communism? You remember the Soviet Union was an evil empire, that communism is an threat to the the sanctity of the American Way, and "Better Dead than Red". Shame on us.
The fear and hate our governments incited in us against USSR was bad, add misery, hopelessness and that's what we're seeing in these Islamic countries.
In the US now, instead of Communism it's Terrorism that is the imminant threat. We must remember the lies or exagerations the government fed us in the past and take a critical eye to what they say today. We must remain aware of the ways in whi…


I saw these jokes and I just had to save some of on my blog:
Buddha walks into a pizza joint and says, "Make me one with everything."Cashier: "That'll be $9.50"
Buddha hands him a ten. Waits. Waits. He says, "Where's my change?"
Cashier replies, "Change must come from within"
Q. Why can't the Buddha vacuum in the corner?
A. Because he has no attatchments.
Q. Where does George W. Bush keep his army?
A. Up his sleevie.
Q. How did Darth Vader know what Luke was getting for Christmas?
A. He felt his presents.
Did you hear about the guy who had to quit his job at the orange juice factory? ...He wasn't able to concentrate.
A boat carrying blue paint and a boat carrying red paint collided in the middle of the ocean. What happened to the crew?
They were marooned.
Q. Someone that knows three languages is trilingual. Someone that knows two languages is bilingual.
So what do you call someone that only k…

wget to get files

Another powerful and useful tool to learn how to use is wget. This exists in linux and also with cygwin (may be an extra install for this). Like screen it has thousands of switches but basically you type something like:
and it'll download it for you. When I need to get things to install (like rpm files for fedora) I browse for them rpm files on my machine at home, copy the link to the clipboard then on the linux machine type wget and paste in the location of the file to get.
It is useful to know that wget can also get a whole site, recursively, or a bunch of files using wildcards.
Add wget to your toolset.

Use the screen

The GNU screen program is somewhat of equivalent to having multiple windows open except in one terminal window. The first time you enter your shell type:
basically it'll give a little message and then go back to the prompt. To open another terminal press Ctrl-A C (C for Create). Now you have two windows open. To go from on window to the next window press Ctrl-A N (N for Next).
Now this is nice but here's the real magic. Exit your terminal program and log back in. Now type:
screen -d -r
you should now be back to your previous screen exactly the way it was before, even with the last messages, etc. Also, if you press Ctrl-A N, you'll go to the next screen and it will be back exactly the way it was before.
So, for example, you can login at work, type screen then do some stuff. When it's time to go home exit the terminal (the best way is Ctrl-A D D) and then go home. At home, login type screen -d -r and continue working or check on your long running tasks.
GNU's s…

Using GnuPG encryption

If you use cygwin like I do you can optionally install GnuPG (Gnu Privacy Guard). GPG is actually a play on the letters PGP (or Pretty Good Privacy) which is now a privately owned company. GPG is however free and relatively easy to use to encrypt messages or files. I use it to encrypt sensitive files on my USB memory fob.
When you read the extensive manual on GPG you'd think the best way to encrypt your files is with a symmetric cypher. I see some problems with the symmetric cypher approach:
you need to give the password both when you encrypt and decrypt the file,different files could potentially have a different passwords increasing the chance of forgetting what the password is,someone who gets my file could try and guess the password,if I suspect that someone has learned my password, I need to go an re-crypt all my files with that password.
What I discovered is that I can use a public-key cypher to encrypt my files. Normally, you use public-key system to send a file to a frie…

How much money do you need?

Dave Winer wrote has an article asking, basically, how much money do you need? I've always felt that I really don't need that much money to be happy. Most of the unhappiness people feel with the amount they have has to do with looking at their friends who have even more.
On the other hand, money is a lot like air, when you don't have it it becomes really important. Also, when there's a chance that in the future you'll might be without it, you also get worried about it.
I remember a TV show about Bombardier selling some air planes and a Saudi prince was sent by his dad to invest a million dollars a week while he was visiting Canada. And I though, they have so much money that they feel guilty having it do nothing.

Use the SciTE text editor

They say that for a true cowboy, their hat is the first thing they put on in the morning and the last thing they take off at night. For me, as a programmer, SciTE is the first thing I startup in the morning and the last thing I shutdown when I go to bed. I'd say that it's truly the programmer's editor (although emacs is a close second).
For me it's main features are:
It's open source and in C++. There were some XML stuff I needed in the editor, I coded it and now it's in there (, and some Unicode BOM support). If this was a comercial application I'd still be waiting.It's cross platform. So when I move all my stuff to Linux (or whatever) I'll still have my editor.It behaves a lot like the Visual C++ editor that I was used to. Nearly all the keys are the same.
It's Unix and Mac line ending friendly.
It can read anything. Binary files aren't shown in hex, but they aren't mangled either if I decide to modify and save them…

Brazil & Elevators

When entering an elevator I always get a kick out of seeing the cultural differences and the different abbreviations used. In the US and Canada, for instance, you will rarely see a building with a 13th floor. Typically, it goes from 11, 12, 14, .... Brazil doesn't have such superstitions and there was a time I worked on the 13th floor.
Another interesting cultural difference is that building's in North America typically don't have a zeroth floor. The ground floor is often (but not always) considered the 1st floor. Typically, in an elevator in North Americal you'll see L, 2, 3, ....
In Canada the ground floor is often labelled "L" (for Lobby) or "RC" (for rez-de-chaussee). In Brazil it varies even more you'll see P for Portaria (although sometimes it means Parking, or Playground, or Pilotis), S for Saída (or Solo, Salão de Festas), T for térreo, the number 0, L for Lobby, and sometimes A for asfalto or atrium.

Use RSS feeds

You can subscribe to my blog by using the Atom feed if you have an RSS or news aggregate reader you'll be notified when a new article appears. This system is great, I use it for all my news.
I used to subscribe to news groups and receive them via email, but now I use SharpReader. It's a great way to receive your internet information, it's far more efficient than constantly checking a site for new information.
On the other hand, it's killing the net, because millions of computers are checking an RSS feed 40 times a day 24 hours a day, although there are some solutions to this.

Firefox Extensions

Firefox is a great browser, but it comes a little plain vanilla. So you add extensions to make it better. Here's my list:
Web Developer. This gives a huge number of tools for web developers to examine their own pages or how other pages are built.SessionSaver. This is a must have. When you close your browser it remembers the tabs you had opened, next time you start Firefox you'll be right back where you left off.
Adblock, this blocks ads from web pages. You click on a picture and tell it not to show it again in the future. It's good for work since if they don't recognize that it's a web browser and you remove all the pictures, it looks like you're looking at documentation instead of surfing the web, if someone looks over your shoulder.Link toolbar, this is a great tool for navigating several pages of an article or documentation without having to find and click on the next button. The next, previous, up, index, buttons appear in the status bar if the site has the…

Google your own machine

Ever wanted to search your files on your machine, with google? Now you can. It's the beta for the desktop google application for Windows. Google is great.

US Declares war on IP Theft

Here in Brazil you can see lots of counterfeit goods, much which you can buy off the street or even in some stores. But interestingly enough, some goods you can't sell: like Barbie or Spiderman. My wife was told by a merchant that if you start selling those, you'll be closed down and arrested faster than you can say "Scooby doo". In a way it indicates that most companies are apathetic, if you really want to stop counterfeiting, you can do it. ...John Ashcroft announced measures to expand and strengthen specialist units to fight intellectual property crimes in the United States and in Eastern Europe and Asia, where many counterfeit goods are made.... link
In a way, by having the goverment do all the monitoring and crackdown you are having the taxpayers pay for this work.

Monopoly one, meet monopoly two

I had to laugh when I saw this, has a revealing article detailing how retail giant Wal-Mart is making loud noises about throwing its weight around in order to get significantly better bulk prices on CDs. Says one industry executive, 'This wasn't framed as a gentle negotiation, it's a line in the sand -- you don't do this, then the threat is [your product is dropped].' This is the first time a big player has attempted this sort of hardball move on the labels, and the labels may be forced to deal, as Wal-Mart sells 1 out of every 5 retail
It reminds me of the long tail article and how downloadable song prices could be a bit cheaper, but the record industry is afraid to lower them any more because they would be cheaper than CDs and might wipe out the CD business. But the long tail article mentions that there are tons of music that are no longer sold in most stores or are no longer manufactured that could be sold at a cheaper price (but aren…

Borland's Caliber RM

Just was given a brief presentation on Borland's Caliber RM (Requirements Management). It really fills the void that I saw in development methods I've used here. What I normally see, is requirements stored in Word documents, these documents are typically like a template with the same part in them. They are always out of date, and difficult to see what has changed over time. Caliber removes the need for Word, you store the requirements in a hierarchy and it stores everything in a database (they call it an OO repository). You can register who is a stakeholder and they will automatically receive e-mails when something changes in the requirement. Use cases, textual unit test descriptions, supporting documents can also be stored there. In addition you have some flexibility in that certain types of requirement can have specialized forms that need to be filled out.
The tool is actually quite simple, in many ways. But there are some minor and major issues with the system as well. One …

On Peak Oil

If you haven't heard about peak oil, you've got some reading to do. Many sites on the internet offer dire predictions of oil prices going through the roof. The simplistic explanation is that we are running out of oil, and in fact our peak oil production has either peaked already or is about to peak real soon. Does it mean we will run out of oil?
I don't think we will, but when gas costs more than bottled water we are going to start looking at other energy alternatives pretty hard. And I think that in this sense, peak oil is a good thing. Americans have had cheap gas for way too long and buy too many cars that are way too big. When I fill up my tank in Brazil it costs about R$60,00 which is about the price of a bottle of Johnny Walker Red Label Scotch. So everytime I fill up the tank, it's like a bottle of scotch.
As gasoline prices get more and more expensive, only the rich will be able to afford to drive. Americans will begin to discover public transportation, or wil…

US Presidential Debate

Last night I saw the US presidential debate and I found that Bush did the presentation of his life, but Kerry was nearly perfect. I've never cared for Canadian, Brazilian or US elections and have often not voted in Canada. But for a variety of reasons I'm am deeply interested in the US elections. I think part of it is my hatred of the things that have been happening in the US over the past 4 years. Not all of them are really Bush's fault but he was at the helm when they happened.
Things like:
Increased corruption of the election process. I'm sure some corruption has almost always happened in elections but never has elections been so close before as this time and the last election. Joke: "What's the difference between Hitler and George W. Bush? Hitler was elected!".
The RIAA has received carte blanche to sue their customers and extend DRM and draconian protection of DRM throught the induce act.The push of NAZI like measures to control their own population…

A new testing methodology?

I try and always program using test driven development, and just like I feel a little scared when I drive, even a short distance, without a seatbelt on - I now feel a little scared when I program without a full suite of automated unit tests to back me up. It's really a great way to program. Sometimes, when I get tired or uninspired with regards to programming, I'll look at my tests cases and make sure that I'm testing everything. And whenever I find a bug, the first thing I do is create a test case that show's the bug, and eventually, proves that the bug has been fixed.
I started noticing that I often did the same thing - I would create these little files for input and another for the expected output. Then the test program would take the input, create output in a temporary file and then compare that output with the expected output. I'd leave the temp output around in case it doesn't match.
Then one day I had to do some tests for xml2ddl. The tests I wanted to…

iPodder and Podcasting

Podcasting creating a radio show on the computer and putting the MP3 on the Internet. An additional trick is to use RSS to publish the new shows and hooking up a program that automatically downloads the shows.
There's a program called iPodder which you can download. It is created with Python and wxPython (yay!). With that program you add your RSS Podcast feeds and it'll download the shows overnight.
Here's my list at the moment:
The Daily Source Code with Adam Curry is a good one to start with. It's really like pirate radio. Adam swears, smokes drugs on air, stops because the dog wants out, etc. It's very raw, new, and exiting. It's often compared to blogging, but for audio (audioblogging).

Purpose of this blog

The purpose of this blog is to be a diary of ideas and things that I've done, mostly for me, but also for friends & family. Eventually, I may split things out into other blogs.