Showing posts from June, 2005

Web: Google Earth

Thank you google, now Google Earth (aka keyhole) is free!. I talked about it before. I'm over here at -43.9,-19.92.
I played with it a bit today. It's even better than before. Not only is more covered but it has the roads and the names of the roads as well. Now it's really easy to find where you live. And as you can imaging the search works quite well too. Even better, it can show the names of roads and restaurants and the like. Unfortunately, the coverage in Brazil is less than ideal, but it's better than it was in November.

Podcast: My request was played

On the podcastCoverville I got my song request "Give Me Love" by George Harrison sung by the Brazilian singer Marisa Monte. I also had a previous request ("It's the end of the world as we know it", sung by Great Big Sea originally by R.E.M.) that got played but was attributed to someone else (Moira from Japan).
Coverville 103.mp3
Coverville 95.mp3

Personal: Aquarium installed

Last Friday I got the aquarium and it's installed in the wall. Looks good but needs some woodwork done around it to complete the look.
Here's a list of photos on flickr. Here are some specifications:
100cm*60cm*60cm (10mm thick) => 360 litres (95 gallons)
300 W heater
2 kg CO2 canister
3x95W coralife VHO lights
EHEIN 2217 Canister filter
A special substrate for plants

Economics: Intelligence predicst Health

ABSTRACT?Large epidemiological studies of almost an entire
population in Scotland have found that intelligence (as measured
by an IQ-type test) in childhood predicts substantial differences
in adult morbidity and mortality, including deaths from
cancers and cardiovascular diseases. These relations remain
significant after controlling for socioeconomic variables. One
possible, partial explanation of these results is that intelligence
enhances individuals? care of their own health because it represents
learning, reasoning, and problem-solving skills useful
in preventing chronic disease and accidental injury and in
adhering to complex treatment regimens.
Here is the full article (in PDF)

I find this interesting and may be a reason that intelligence has increased steadily over time. This is called the Flynn effect, where the global IQ seems to rise about 3 percent per decade at a fairly steady rate. Some say that the opposite should happen, that parents with higher IQs often have fewer children and…


This is a test post from , a fancy photo sharing thing.

Fun: optical illusion

This is way too cool. It's an optical I've never seen before called Rapid Colored Afterimage.
The image is a set of magenta spots which dissapear to gray. But if you stare at it, the gray becomes a green spot. Stare some more and the purple spots begin to dissappear, leaving only the green.

Fun: Learn go

Go is an interesting Chinese (and Japanese) game, sort of like chess or checkers. I found a great introductory site with nice Java programs to show you the rules and strategies interactively.
The game looks simple to learn, but difficult to master, like most good games.

Politics: Peak Oil

I've written about Peak Oil before and there's a nice article in Wired news about it too, I pretty much agree with what's in the Wired article.
I also noticed a link to another wired article talking about Brazil's use of biofuels. My next car will probably be a 'flex' fuel car which can take Ethanol and/or regular gas. It's a nice hedge on future fuel prices.
Marshall Brain's blog has a nice article which I agree with even more:The very simple explanation for why this will happen can be summarized in about 15 words: As oil gets more expensive, other technologies will compete on price and replace oil.My take on the whole Peak Oil situation is that by 2010 if you are poor, you'll be taking the bus a lot. You'll be able to by a big second hand gas guzzler very cheap, but won't be able to fill it with gas. The rich have more options, they can buy new, fuel efficient cars that can take a variety of fuels - plus, of course, they can afford the gas, …

Fun: So that's what Javascript is useful for!

This is nice little program that just keeps getting better. You can make mazes in various shapes, using various algorithms all online (or download it locally). Even better you can solve the maze using the VI style cursor keys. It shows you your path and any backtracking you've done.

Try it for yourself online, it's a fun way to take a 5 minute break.

Culture: More on translations

I was thinking about translations and how even people who are paid to translate mess it up as well. Way too often, when watching a movie or TV I'll glance down a the subtitles in Portuguese and see that they misunderstood the English expression or simply mistranslated.
Some things are understandable, like when the actor says it'll cost 20 bucks and they translate it to 25 bucks. It could be the actual script had $25.00 and the actor ad libbed $20.00 instead, and the translator used the original script.
Yet way too often I've seen real screwups where they write down the exact opposite of what the person said. Like the actor says "Don't kill him!" and it's written below "Kill him".
Sometimes I'll hear the actor say an interesting expression and I'll look down so I might learn something new in Portuguese. Sometimes I do, but sometimes the translator had no idea what the actor was talking about and they just make up their own lines.
It's …

Web: Google Translation

Google has done something that I also had an idea to do. Make a language translator by looking at already translated documents and using statistical methods to convert one to the other. They are doing this by using United Nations transcripts as the corpus, which are professionally translated to multiple languages:

This article describes how Google may completely change the web using this technology (basically, everything will appear to be in your native language). I can tell you from experience that Brazilians are loath to read English sites, especially if a Portuguese site is also available. I don't blame them, I don't like reading Portuguese, French or German sites either. I sometimes read English news about events in Brazil, how twisted is that?
There's also a SlashDot link and some technical details at John Hopkins.

Funny: McDonald's ads

This is a delicious site which has links to actual McDonald's TV commercials and has rip roaring commentaries on every one of them.
Maybe I shouldn't make fun of this ad. To their credit, McDonald's was a trailblazer in employing minority actors and portraying all of the races of mankind as one big poorly nourished community. And here they're tearing down the destructive stereotype that only white people can suck at music. Or this one:
It's funny how their magical romp ends at a real-life McDonald's restaurant. I'm sure that place does bang-up business selling burgers twenty feet from where they grow on bushes for free. I guess they get paid to remove the big googly hamburger eyes so you can eat without your lunch staring reproachfully back at you.And don't forget to look at the comparison between McMayors election and Bush's election.

Tipping in Brazil

One thing I noticed pretty quickly in Brazil is that tipping isn't very common. When it does occur it's because it's part of the bill. If you try and tip a taxi driver they often don't understand what you are doing, or even refuse. I've even had the case whey they give me money, like if the fare is 5.50 and I have only a 5 or a 10 they may sometimes just take the 5 instead of making the change.
Here's a post describing some of the psychology of tipping. Number 3. seemed especially relevant.
3. Tipping is less prevalent in countries where unease about inequality is especially strong.I recommend the blog Marginal Revolution as well it's quite an interesting blog about economics.

New blog

I've started a new blog called "Dinner Questions". Basically, it's a list of questions which might be interesting to ask your kids at dinner time, say.
I'm trying to collect questions that can be figured out on your own with a few hints.

Python: wxPython

I like wxPython here's why.
It's cross platform, although I haven't used it on other platforms (besides windows) and I've heard a few bad things, but not much.It's supported by several programming languages. I'm using it for Python but I could be using C++ (which is native) or wxPerl, wxLua, wxJava, wxNet, etc. This means that as I learn the details of the library that knowledge is transferable.
wxWidgets and wxPython are very active.There is some activity for small form factor versions like for Palm, and WinCE. I think the next big platform is the cell phone. Like the Nokia series 60 which supports Java and Python (list of phones).It's very close to Microsoft's MFC and supports the Windows platform very well. I used MFC for a long time and became used to it. wxPython is like putting on an old pair of jeans. This is also a negative, for example, I never liked Microsoft's ListCtrl very much and it's nearly identical in wxPython.The wxPython com…