Itu 400 – Part 3: The land that Google forgot

30 01 2010

Google Maps still amazes me, even after all these years. It evolved from a plain online map to a full-fledged tool with niceties such as Street View and the ability to add your own location. If you live in Toronto, New York or Paris, you can’t help but expect that one day live images of your street will be available.

On the other side, if you live in a small city in South America, chances are that you won’t be that lucky. Here’s a snapshot of the satellite view of Itu in Google:


Itu, city core, Google Maps

As you can see using the red and green arrows as a reference, the map view and the satellite view are off by about 50 m. If you can read a bit of Portuguese, you’ll find that this map shows two city halls and, oddly enough, a campsite in the middle of the city! And if you ever lived there, you’ll spot many other errors in the map, with several points of interest with the wrong name or in the wrong location.

I wonder if a Street View of Itu will ever be considered by Google. Until that day comes, I’ll be helping them with my 2 cents: I’ve just visited their Local Business Centre and added my brother’s restaurant to it. After all, social media gurus told me that, if you are not Googleable, you don’t exist 😛

For my previous posts celebrating the 400 years of Itu, click here and here.





Barack Obina: Yes he C.A.M.

24 01 2010

Watching a football (soccer) game in Brazil is a unique experience. Having watched football games in Canada, England, Spain, France and Germany, I still find the crowds in Brazil the most creative and vocal – but this is naturally a biased opinion. Going to soccer games with my brother in my native Itu is particularly amusing: the small town team has a loyal support base, and my brother’s friends are among the most fanatic I have ever seen. They watch the whole game close to the fence, screaming for the whole 90 minutes, harassing the assistant referees non-stop, and using coarse words I didn’t even know existed in Portuguese.

A particularly interesting phenomenon among Brazilian football supporters is mixing up references outside the sports world in the non-official sports merchandising. Over the last year, one player in particular has been a crowd favourite for those mashups of sorts: Obina. You’ll probably never see him in a FIFA World Cup, but his unusual nickname being somewhat close to Barack’s last name has granted him sustained popularity for the time being, despite his obvious limitations as a player. Here are some samples of what was produced during his tenure in three of the most popular football clubs in Brazil:


Obina donning the Flamengo jersey


Obina as Palmeiras’ President

And the best of all: take a look at this Obina image showing his new club colours, Clube AtlĂ©tico Mineiro (C.A.M.), and a play with words (CAM in Portuguese is pronounced like “can”), briefly used as the Orkut C.A.M. community image.

Obina wearing the Atlético jersey

To conclude this post, here’s a YouTube homage to Barack Obina in the best (?!) “cult of the amateur” style:




Itu 400 – Part 2: There are places I remember

23 01 2010

I’ve been late with my Itu 400 series posts, and, since February 2nd is around the corner, I’d better post at least a second installment. I fully realize that most people don’t care about a small town in the middle of South America, but the most liberating thing about having your own blog is that you grow comfortable about just writing to yourself. If you get any readers along the way, that’s a bonus, but not the reason to blog.

Itu has always been proud of its history: the locals often hold public events celebrating the imagery of times past. For Europeans and Asians, 400 years is like peanuts, but it’s not too bad for cities in the New World. I always enjoyed seeing how cities, like people, grow old and reinvent themselves.

We typically celebrate the Internet as the source for the latest and greatest, but its ability to give us a window to the long forgotten past is equally brilliant. As social media becomes more pervasive, we no longer need to rely solely on rare archives of some obscure museum curator to find rarities. That yellowish photo in your grandfather’s box can easily make its way to Flickr or your blog/twitpic/posterous presence, and suddenly be accessible to the world. For example, you can now find this great video of Itu in YouTube:

It’s a pity to learn that the city core was so preserved back in the 1960s and is a mix of old and new today. Most of the Portuguese-style colonial architecture houses gave place to modern buildings since then, so the opportunity to become one day a UNESCO World Heritage Centre is now lost forever.

During my last time in Itu, I took a few pictures of the old Itu archives and compared them to how those places look today:



Central Square



Rua Paula Souza


Taxi Service



Shortest Pedestrian Crossing in South America?


My elementary school

Looking at all these old pictures, I can’t help but think about Cinema Paradiso, one of my favourite movies of all time. The old cinema theatre is now a public parking lot. I didn’t take a picture of it, as it was a bit too depressing.


Cine Marrocos in its last days
Source: Cine Mafalda blog

On the bright side, writing this post I found that there is a director’s cut of Cinema Paradiso, with extra 51 minutes at the end of it! I watched this movie for the first time a very long time ago in some obscure film festival in SĂŁo Paulo, and always had the impression that after the credits there was a very short scene with the adult Salvatore meeting Elena again, but after seeing the movie on DVD I thought it was some kind of urban hallucination I had. Now I know that at least I was not that crazy. Here’s a teaser for you:

See? Even if nobody ever reads this post, I think I already benefited from writing it. Now I need to find where to buy the DVD for less than the outrageous price at Amazon.ca (CAD$ 102.33 for a DVD? Seriously?).





A solution for handling accents on a Mac

17 01 2010

In the never-ending Mac versus PC discussion, I often find myself slightly favouring the Apple side for better hardware-software integration and for consistently bringing innovative and elegant solutions for some of the personal computing usability pain points. But it has never been a slam dunk for his Steveness, as Macs are not perfect either. By the way, my MacBook freezing problem is still there, making me likely the person who had the most problems with Mac computers in the world: video card, keyboard, trackpad, battery, optical drive, cooling fan, hard drive, and LCD screen (this one was my own fault).

My number one pet peeve on the Mac world ***WAS*** the way Mac OS handles accents when you have a US keyboard and want to write in one of the European languages that need accents and other special characters. I often write things in Portuguese, and in Windows, after you configure it properly, the keyboard just mimics the way typewriters handled accents: for example, to type the <Ă©> in “PelĂ©” or “cafĂ©”, you just type the key <‘> and then the letter <e>. On a Mac, once you configure it to use “Brazilian” as the Input Source, to type <Ă©> you have to do something very awkward: type <Option>+<e>, then type <e>. Basically, <Option>+<e> is the acute accent, <Option>+<i> is the circumflex accent, <Option>+<n> is the tilde and so on.

Of course, the point here is not to mimic a typewriter – a large part, if not the majority, of people using computers today never used a typewriter. The point is that the US keyboard has keys with the acute accent, the circumflex accent and the tilde, so why not use them? <Option>+<e> is not intuitive at all, and you have to use three keystrokes instead of two, slowing you down enough to break your typing rhythm.

But there is a solution and I just found it yesterday! If you want your Mac to handle accents the Windows / typewriter way, try the following:

  1. Google “brasileiro.bundle teclado” (the original file in Geocities is no longer available). I found it here.
  2. Unzip the file and double-click the .dmg to mount it
  3. Copy the file Brasileiro.bundle to the folder /Library/Keyboard Layouts
  4. Log out and log in
  5. In System Preferences, go to Language & Text and then select Input Sources
  6. On the left panel, you should now have Brazil and Brazilian, with round Brazilian flag icons
  7. Enable Brazil if you are using a US keyboard, or Brazilian if you are using a Portuguese keyboard
  8. Enable Show input menu in menu bar
  9. In the menu bar at the top of your Mac, you should now see a flag with your default input language (in my case, it’s Canadian English). Just switch that to Brazil or Brazilian when typing in Portuguese. It also should work with all accented characters in Spanish and most in French (except the ligature ones: ae and oe; for those, I suspect you still have to resort to <Option>+<‘> and <Option>+<q>, or get a French.bundle file).

Input Menu with "Brazil" and "Canadian English"

I hope this helps the 0.01% of you for whom this is a Mac annoyance. And I hope that Apple fixes that in the near future to come as a default input source instead of hack.





Best Buy Flyer is my muse (No, that’s not a papaya in his hands)

10 01 2010
First work week in January was super-busy, it felt like 3 weeks in 1. My MacBook also started acting up, freezing every couple of hours, preventing me from backing up my disk. I moved all the important files to my cheap HP Pavillion, repaired the MB hard drive and I’m hopefully back to normal now.

End result is that I did not have much time for anything other than keeping my nose above water level. Got a Pogo Style for my iPhone (thanks Béné for the tip) and only had a chance to play with it today.

This is my first drawing using the stylus: no photo overlay, just observation of a photo on a Best Buy flyer. I don’t understand why nobody can come up with an iPhone stylus with a pencil-like tip. The Pogo is better than using my fingers, but I still feel like I’m drawing with a fossilized cigarrette butt.

Sent from my iPhone

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The orange bucket at Ikea

2 01 2010

If I could, I’ll do drawing or music for a living. There’s a huge mismatch between the things I love doing and things people would pay me for doing. As a matter of fact, in the case of music, I can easily find people who would pay me for not doing it 🙂

Latest iPhone drawing based on one of my fave L’s pictures:

Sent from my iPhone

Posted via email from The Green T