A great 2010 to all of you!
Sent from my iPhone
For a limited time, Autodesk SketchBook Mobile is on sale for $1.99. I just bought it, and I’m really impressed on how easy it is to draw with SBM on the small iPhone screen. This is my second drawing (the first one was horrible, so I promptly deleted it). Of course, I’m cheating a bit here: I took a picture of a magazine ad and draw over it using the layer feature. But for a 10-minute, it’s not too bad: it took me longer to type this on the phone than the whole sketching process.
Sent from my iPhone
I’m experimenting with Posterous, and this is my first cross-post (I tried to automate it but didn’t work):
Many people say that English is one of the easiest languages to master, as grammar is relatively simple, you don’t have to learn accents, and verbs are typically limited to a handful of variations. True, but English also happens to be a very tricky language when it comes to pronunciation. In Portuguese, Spanish, French, Italian, German and Japanese, you can learn how to pronounce most words just based on a few rules. In English, that’s rarely the case: “go” and “do”, “cough” and “though”, “over” and “cover” are all pronounced very differently, notwithstanding their spelling similarities.
But if you learned English as an adult, nothing compares to listening to songs and trying to figure out what they are all about. Nat King Cole and Louis Armstrong were probably among the few singers I could understand without any kind of supporting material.
My son loves watching “Harry and His Bucket Full of Dinosaurs”. I’ve been watching that with him for months now, and the only thing I could get from the opening theme was actually the part where they say “Harry and HIs Bucket Full of Dinosaurs”!!! I tried to turn the closed captioning on, but nothing came out (not sure if it’s a broadcasting issue or wrong TV/cable setup one).
Today, that mystery was solved as I found this captioned version of the theme in YouTube:
How on Earth am I supposed to understand this song??? You probably need a degree in both English and Palaeontology to grasp the just of it. I can’t wait until my son is 7 and starts teaching me English.
Here are the lyrics, if you also have a pre-schooler and, like me, need a cheat sheet:
Stegosaurus, Pterodactyl, Tyrannosaurus Rex
Scelidosaurus, Apatosaurus, Triceratops is next
Taury, Patsy, Sid and Trike
Pterence, Steggy, what a sight!
It’s Harry and His Bucket Full of Dinosaurs
To get on board the magic ride
All we do is jump inside
With Harry and His Bucket
His bucket full of dinosaurs!
Update: The title of the post had a problem (it became “401″), so I changed it to something more meaningful and applied some minor edits.
If you are not from Brazil, you probably never heard about Itu. Itu is a small city about 100 km from São Paulo, known by many in Brazil as the city where everything is exaggeratedly big. Well, not everything. I was born there, so all the 1.67 m of me (5’6″, generously speaking) are genuinely from Itu :-) .
Of course, everything being big is a marketing ploy to attract tourists, started by a local comedian in a popular TV show in the late 60s. That notwithstanding, that meme was so sticky that even today people in Brazil still call anything too large as being “from Itu”. This is my son last month, amazed by Itu’s public phone:
Here are some other X-Large oddities:
Popsicle ad, chair and another phone
The list goes on and on: you can get pacifiers, combs, hammers, pencils, paper clips and even condoms (!) as Itu-sized souvenirs. But there’s much more to Itu than that (in my naturally biased view, of course). On February 2nd, 2010, Itu will be celebrating its 400th anniversary:
Founded in 1610, Itu is one of the oldest cities in the Americas. I wish I could be there for the big party, but since I can’t, I’ll settle for writing a few more blog posts about this beloved town over the next 44 days.
Back in October, my wife and I decided to buy a laptop for my mother-in-law – who lives in São Paulo, so that we could have video conversations over Skype. Brazilian customs allow each passenger to bring goods not exceeding USD 500 in total value without incurring any tariffs, so my target price was about CAD 540.
A week before our trip, we found the HP Pavillion laptop below (with Windows 7) on sale for – guess how much – CAD 538.99! Regular price was CAD 649.99.
Our plan did not work very well due to some logistic problems, so we brought the laptop back to Canada, and it’s now our secondary home computer, at least for the time being. And since I’m not a Mac, nor a PC, having both at home is actually a good thing. I do run Windows XP on my MacBook using VMWare Fusion, but that feels a bit like trying to fit a foot AND a hand inside a shoe: they go better separately.
How can they make it so cheap?
I guess that, to some extent, you get what you pay for. I have no idea why HP designers decided to have the key with the vertical bar (pipe) and backslash available on both sides of the Pavillion keyboard. All the other computers I had to date, Macs and PCs, had a large left shift key beside the “Z”. I keep typing the backslash every time I try to press the left shift key :-( . Also, the vertical enter key takes a bit to get used to. Just compare the keyboards of the HP Pavillion with the one from the Thinkpad T600 that I use at work:
Also, the Conexant Pebble High Definition SmartAudio microphone was unusable with the original driver and configuration. I had to upgrade the driver and change the setting to “2 channel, 16 bit, 48000 Hz (DVD Quality)”. It’s still not great, but Skype no longer requires screaming.
Finally, the DVD drive is very sensitive to scratches in the media. It was not able to read some of my DVDs, even though they ran smoothly on the Mac.
Are there any positives?
Overall, I think it’s been a good purchase considering the cost-benefit ratio.
Windows 7 is pretty good in my opinion. I still find Mac OS X better overall, but the gap is narrowing. My wife has never been a big fan of the MacBook, especially the Finder and the way Mac OS X deals with special characters. Just try to type “bênção” (blessing, in Portuguese) in your Mac. It did not help that I never bothered getting MS-Office for the Mac. NeoOffice is OK, but not a substitute for a commercial suite yet. I also rely a lot on freeware, and having 2 operating systems always running gives you more choices.
HP support was also surprisingly good. Earlier this week, the Pavillion went completely dead. I visited the HP support website and found that they provide support via chat:
I clicked on the “chat online” link and in a few seconds was already talking to their support rep. In about 5 minutes, everything was solved, with courteous and efficient service. In case you’re having a similar problem, here’s what I did:
I suspect the problem was not because the battery was faulty, just a loosely connected plug, but I’ll keep an eye on it.
Finally, my son loves the CyberLink YouCam that comes with the Pavillion. It’s like the Mac’s Photo Booth, but by default it’s integrated with your other applications using the webcam. So, you can talk over Skype using all the special video effects like this:
Calling home on Christmas Day will be much more fun this year!
(…) regional tournaments are not economically efficient, as small football clubs benefit from revenues without generating them, due to their lack of followers.
(…) to solve several problems in Brazilian football (…):
1. Reduce the importance of regional tournaments, which would include from now on only small clubs on a “promotion and relegation” system.
2. Integrate the national and international tournament schedules (…)
3. Solve the economic issues of football clubs, and consequently, the issues of Brazilian football as a whole.
If you thought the excerpts above were written by Juca Kfouri or some other present-day Brazilian sports writer, think again: they were taken from the first issue of the weekly news magazine Veja, published on September 11 (!), 1968:
Forty one years later, the administrative problems of Brazilian football are still pretty much the same. Despite of the perpetual mess that is the CBF (the national football association), or perhaps because of that, Brazil has won 3 more FIFA World Cups after that article was written, and has been a staple at the top of FIFA rankings since its inception.
As anything else in the world, the success of Brazilian football in the international arena can’t be linked to a single factor. The diversity and the size of the population, the tropical climate, and the popularity of the game across all social-economic classes, all played a significant role in the development of that sport in Brazil. That’s all nice and logical, but I would argue that chaos and uncertainty were no smaller contributors there.
Where else in the world you would find:
On the other side, football is not a conventional team sport. To win the FIFA World Cup in its current format, a team does not need to score a goal or win a single game in regulation or extra time. Chile qualified to the knock-out phase in 1978 with 3 draws, and theoretically could go all the way to the finals by the means of just winning on penalty shootouts. Furthermore, bad refereeing seems to just increase the interest of fans, to the point that football remains one of the few team sports today where modern technology is off-limits. I suspect this kind of logic is unfathomable to the typical sports fan in North America. If the sport itself is so counter-intuitive, maybe being disorganized, irrational and implausible end up being competitive advantages :-) .
Marissa Mayer, VP of Search Product and User Experience at Google once wrote:
Creativity loves constraints but they must be balanced with a healthy disregard for the impossible. (…) Disregarding the bounds of what we know or accept gives rise to ideas that are non-obvious, unconventional, or unexplored. The creativity realized in this balance between constraint and disregard for the impossible is fueled by passion and leads to revolutionary change.
I can’t think of a better description for the jogo bonito. Of course, being creative and fancy is not necessarily the road to success (Netherlands in 1974 and Brazil in 1982 come to mind), but from time to time, that passion for the unconventional gets us gems like these:
Note: This post was updated after its initial publication to add the screenshot of the news magazine and for clarity purposes.
Despite Farley‘s well-reasoned arguments on why buying the Kindle is a bad idea, the Inspector Gadget within me succumbed to the temptation and ordered the #1 bestselling, most-wished-for, and most gifted item from Amazon. My brain simply stops working and reverts to its basic geek mode when it comes to new electronic toys.
“New”, of course, is relative. Following the well-walked path set by the Chumby, the iPhone, Hulu, Pandora and Google Voice, the Kindle was also off-limits for Canadians until very recently, despite being available in 100 other countries, including Zimbabwe, Myanmar and Albania. I don’t mean any disrespect to those 3 countries, the point here is that we are next door neighbours to Amazon’s headquarters, so it puzzles me why it’s easier to get legal wrinkles solved in other continents than here.
Even when the Kindle finally arrived in Canada, on November 17, it was not fully featured: web browsing and blogs are not available North of the US. Not even the iPhone Kindle app is up for Canuck’s grabs yet, unless one’s willing to be a bit, err, adventurous. But we Canadians can always get the KindleCandle app for 0.99:
Ok, end of rant.
A few months from now, when the elusive Apple tablet is finally revealed, I’ll regret this purchase, but for now, I’m actually very pleased with it.
THE DREAM (or: is that what they call the iTablet?)
In summary, I give the Kindle thumbs up for now, at least until the next Apple event, when Farley will I-told-you-so me.
Well, that’s a mouthful. I first saw it at my friend’s Daniel Dystyler apartment last month, and after some research, I decided to bite the bullet and got this from Amazon yesterday:
It’s no Apple TV, but it does something that I couldn’t find in any of the mainstream multimedia drives: record TV. My PVR is close to capacity, and using a DVD recorder is just too awkward. It’s been only a day with it so far, so take my first impressions with a huge grain of salt. Here’s the just of it:
If you’re feeling brave, there’s even a wiki with some advanced hacks you may want to try.
For a person who deeply loves Biology and keeps blogging about Darwin, I have to confess: I never read The Origin of Species, only parts of it. There, I said it. I actually tried to go through it a few times, the last attempt being via Stanza on my iPhone:
Heck, I haven’t even skimmed Origin‘s Cliff’s Notes (that’s just a figure of speech: there’s none, actually) so you can say that my knowledge of what Darwin said or thought is like second-hand smoking or back-seat driving: mostly hear-say. Some saving grace are those 5 years spent at University studying Biology. Furthermore, I would guess that most Biology students (at least in Brazil) have never seen a copy of Origin either.
On a smaller scale, many of us have a similar approach with business books. We have not read most of them – well except maybe Sacha did :-) , but we often have an opinion about them, typically based on indirect evidence.
I usually don’t go through the same book twice – life is short and time is at a premium, but I recently made an exception with The Wisdom of Crowds (2004) and The Long Tail (2006), two books that have been much maligned by supposedly championing the advent of new business models that never materialized or that failed to deliver at the promise.
Their respective authors even had faceoffs of sorts with the excellent Malcolm Gladwell of The Tipping Point and Blink fame, one friendly, the other not so much. By the way, if you are unfamiliar with Slate’s Book Club feature, you are in for a treat. It’s kind of The Next Supermodel for the written world. I know that doesn’t sound very enticing, but the series is really good.
The major problem I see with both books is not their content: it’s their covers. Both books are fairly balanced in their core and depict scenarios showing both supporting evidence and possible shortcomings for their arguments. But their covers are not as nuanced. Why the future of business is selling less of more and Why the many are smarter than the few, besides sounding like catch phrases written by the same marketing wiz, are hardly shy in the over-promising department.
My learning going through the re-reading process is that I have a much better appreciation for the content of these books now that they don’t have all the buzz around them. It’s like listening to popular songs from the past years after they fell in oblivion. You can more clearly see their actual merits and limitations, without being so influenced by the media. So, if you haven’t yet, give them a try, you may still learn a thing or two, no matter if you believe in their premises or not.
I can’t help but think that, if The Origin of Species was published today, instead of the dull sub-title The preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life, it would bring something like: Why everything you knew about life will change forever.
In Brazil, the vast majority of the condo buildings operate as housing co-operatives, where one of the residents is elected as the head of the administration for terms of up to two years, a role known as “síndico”. It’s a true pain in the neck to be a síndico in Brazil, as the problems of all your neighbours magically become your problem too. But at least for one day every year, their hard work gets some recognition: November 30 is “síndico‘s day” in Brazil.
Much to my surprise, a few years ago I learned that my sister, Ana Cristina, was elected síndica of her condo in Curitiba. And re-elected once or twice since, meaning that she’s doing something right (or wrong, depending on your perspective).
I remember that, as typical teenagers siblings, we spent most of our time finding ways to annoy each other: one day she threw away my whole comics collection, the other day I dismantled her study desk with a big hammer. When the Schürmann family made the news in the 80′s by spending 10 years on a sailboat around the globe, I used to think: these guys clearly don’t have the sister I have, otherwise that trip would not last a week.
But aging makes us wiser (or more amnesic), and we get along very well now. And I was very glad to see her in the regional newscast last week, described as “having the Asian traits of patience and organization” :-P . (her part starts just before the 2-minute mark. Video is in Portuguese and not embedded, sorry…)
A few weeks ago, in a phone conversation with Marcelo Martins, he jokingly commented on the poor abandoned state of this blog: “the ‘Bamboo raft’ has drifted away, and is now in the middle of nowhere” :-) . Indeed.
But this silence was not due to the lack of inspiration: it was a mix of being busy, adjusting to a new work routine, and plain laziness, of course. A year after blogging was proclaimed passé by Paul Botin, I still feel the urge to blog several times a day, even knowing that there’s a good chance that nobody is listening (or reading it). I blog, therefore I am sounds right to my ears, even in a Twitter world.
Following the lead of Bénédicte Delachanal, who’s been good in her one blog post every day quest this December, I decided to steer this raft back to the civilization (or to a handful of readers, more precisely). And seeing a new post by Jennifer Okimoto in my reader today after months of absence was just the extra push I needed :-) .
As the delusional Buzz Lightyear would say: To infinity, and beyond! (crossing fingers here hoping that all this euphoria will take me at least till the next blog post).