Google mistakes

November 15th, 2002 § Comments Off on Google mistakes § permalink

Somebody found my blog in a Google search for worms armaggedon xp patch.

It’s interesting because those words don’t appear in a post by themselves. In fact, they appear in a stream of posts spanning some days. The post containing the word “worms” was about spam. The one containing “patch” talked about the DMCA. “Armaggedon” was found is a post about insultingly stupid move physics. At last, “XP” was in a post about the switcher fiasco.

So the words can be found on a page in my site, but they don’t help whoever was searching for patches for worms in Windows. That highlights a problem with Google which is the lack of semantic information. Of course, it’s a known problem which will only be solved with time. The Semantic Web will probably be part of such solution.

Meanwhile, blogs pose a problem for Google and other search engines as they contain packets of information that must be treated separately but, because of the way they are grouped in pages, are taken as part of a larger content (which they are in a certain way). The same problems happens with mailing lists whose archives are published in the web. I’m probably missing something here but, as blogs become a larger part of the web, they may render searches less effective given the problem above. Does someone care to comment?

Mozilla Spam Filtering

November 14th, 2002 § Comments Off on Mozilla Spam Filtering § permalink

This is so cool! Mozilla is adding spam filtering to Mozilla Mail. The next release will feature a basic Bayesian filter as described by Paul Graham recently.

Although I’m using Mozilla for browsing, I haven’t switched e-mail yet. I have a lot of e-mail in my archives and wanted time to test Mozilla’s import procedure, but spam filtering is good news enough to make me switch as soon as the new version is released.

Writing tips

November 13th, 2002 § 2 comments § permalink

An excellent tip from Ask Bjørn Hansen: Gar’s Tips on Sucks-Less Writing.

Ask talks about his problems with written English. I share his pain. I learned English by myself and I’m still struggling with the language. I can read anything, but writing is still too hard. When I finish a text, it always feels like something is missing: the order of the words in the sentences seems wrong, punctuation doesn’t look good, and I can’t shake the feeling that I’m not properly communicating what I intended.

I guess part of the problem is that I don’t speak English regularly. Now and then I meet someone who doesn’t speak Portuguese and I can practice, but most of the time the only practice I get are the books I read, e-mails exchanged with foreign friends, and this blog.

Anyway, it seems I’m improving. From what I can see people actually understand what I write, which is much of a surprise :-)

Melancholy Elephants

November 12th, 2002 § Comments Off on Melancholy Elephants § permalink

It’s old, but it’s interesting anyway: a story dealing with the possibility that we will run out of non-copyrighted works.

A programmer’s day

November 12th, 2002 § Comments Off on A programmer’s day § permalink

I had lots of fun at work today. After a long time developing pure web applications, I had to implement an ActiveX because some projects in the company required a specific tool that couldn’t be done using pure HTML and related technologies — al least, not in a straight-forward way. So, I returned temporarily to Delphi, after a long time using ASP. It was nice to use one of my preferred languages once again.

The problem in question is very interesting. Part of the project involves using another ActiveX within the one I’m developing. Although I’m using Delphi 5, which has a good support for ActiveX, some problems became evident from the beginning.

The first thing I had to solve was a problem with message routing to the ActiveX. It turned out that IE intercepts all messages related to the keyboard, and if the ActiveX needs to respond to accelerator keys, it needs to insert itself in IE’s message loop using a procedure which involves implementing a simple interface. I hadn’t faced this problem before because I developed few ActiveX components in my programming career and none had another ActiveX hosted within itself.

The next issue was related with Delphi’s dependence on the application message loop. As an ActiveX is hosted by another application, it has its own isolated message loop, which precluded the use of some Delphi components that were not properly designed to operate inside an ActiveX.

I faced another problems when I had to read parameters from the HTML page hosting the ActiveX. Delphi doesn’t provide direct support, but after some searching, I found out that it was as easy as implementing another simple interface which could be used to read those parameters.

At last, but not at least, I faced a problem with dialog boxes, which remains unsolved until now. Delphi has components that wrap around Windows dialog boxes providing a simple and common interface for them. Again, the implementation assumes that the dialog box wrappers will be used in a full-fledged application. The final result is that IE loses its focus for a few moments after a dialog box is closed. From what I could find, the problem can only be solved if I modify the source code of one of Delphi’s libraries which will cause collateral effects. I’m still undecided about what I will do.

All in all, the day was very productive and pleasant. To tell the truth, it’s the very existence of those problems, and sometimes the pressure to solve them, that makes programming so interesting. Without a certain amount of trouble, programming would be too boring. It’s the challenges I live for.

Top 100 Science Fiction Books

November 11th, 2002 § 2 comments § permalink

The .NET Guy points to a list of the 100 best Science Fiction books (via Joe Gregorio, via Mark Paschal). Gimlé also compiled a list of those books in the Top 100 that can be found online.

I’ve read 27 of them and a couple others are on my reading list. Together, they represent countless hours of pure enjoyment in my life.

Science Fiction Periodic Table

November 10th, 2002 § Comments Off on Science Fiction Periodic Table § permalink

An original idea: Michael Swanwick is writing a series of very short science fiction stories based on the Periodic Table.

(from a tip in one of the mailing lists I subscribe to)

The Mothman Profecies

November 9th, 2002 § 2 comments § permalink

My wife and I went to the movies with a couple friend of ours to see The Mothman Profecies. The movies depicts supposedly true events that occured in Point Pleasant, West Virginia, between 1966 and 1967, including sightings of a winged creature called the Mothman.

Even without taking in account the supposed reality of the events shown, the movie is truly good and completely grabbed our attention. There were no plot holes and the history flowed very well, ending in a very satisfying way. In short, it’s a movie worth seeing.

A dream come true

November 8th, 2002 § 1 comment § permalink

I bought a Danelectro DC-3 guitar from a friend of mine today. He had this guitar for just on month and was selling it. The temptation was great enought and I decided it was worth the price.

It’s simply the best guitar I ever heard in my life! Its three pickups are of a kind called lipstick pickups, wired in series, that give it an unequaled sound. Coupled with two switches that produce 7 different vintage sounds, it’s impressive. I was using an older Yamaha EG112, borrowed from my church, while I’m still learning, and couldn’t believe how different the two guitars are.

It’s a dream come true. I thank God, and my friend, Zé Renato, for the opportunity.

Flight Simulator

November 8th, 2002 § 2 comments § permalink

A cool Paper Airplane Flight Simulator. You can control angle, thrust, and elevation.

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