The Gentlemen of 16 July

November 7th, 2002 § Comments Off on The Gentlemen of 16 July § permalink

Finished reading The Gentlemen of 16 July yesterday. It’s a journalistic account of the 1976 robbery at the Societé Générale branch in Nice, France. The book, written by Ken Follett and three other journalists, tells not only the history, but also details the events that preceded the robbery, and the following investigations, paying special attention to the misterious circumstances that surrounded the case.

It’s a interesting book, even if the events depicted took place almost 30 years ago. I tried to find more information about what happened later searching in the web, but didn’t found anything relevant. Anyway, it’s good reading.

The Element Collection

November 7th, 2002 § Comments Off on The Element Collection § permalink

A company is offering a boxed set containing all 92 naturally occuring elements in the Periodic Table, including uranium. It’s one of the most interesting things I have ever seen. It’s a pity I don’t have the money 🙂

(via Boing Boing)


November 7th, 2002 § 2 comments § permalink

As of November 1, Internet Explorer has 31 unpatched vulnerabilities. The only real protection for IE users is to disable scripting completely.

I switched to Mozilla and haven’t looked back since. Even with minor problems, it’s a much better browser than IE. Its privacy preferences are pretty impressive and helpful.

(via Borland Newsgroups)

A programming horror show

November 6th, 2002 § Comments Off on A programming horror show § permalink

Kasia talks about code maintenance, and proper coding techniques to avoid problems in the future . I can’t agree more.

This week I had to debug and correct some problems in a system we mantain which is two years old but is still being updated with new features now and then.

What I found was unbelievable. The code followed no logical arrangement. It seemed like somebody had dropped lines of code here and there and cast a spell to make it run. Variables were declared after their use, code was copied and pasted in other parts of the pages (which caused bugs to be corrected in some places and pass undetected in other untested paths), loops with lots on database calls within that could have been done using a single statement, arrays with improper bounds (and code to work around indexing problems), and similar beasts.

It took me the better part of a day just to find how the code worked, and fix the problems reported.

Sure, it’s old code, but I’m still amazed too see how some people who call themselves programmers just code mindlessly. Some parts of the code were clearly working around problems introduced by the initial code written by the same programmer.

Sometimes I have to believe people write unmaintainable code purposefully.

Working alone

November 5th, 2002 § Comments Off on Working alone § permalink

Thinking about my job in the last few days, I realized I’ve worked alone in all major projects I developed since I started in my current job, almost two years ago. On those projects, I took care of almost all stages of the development process, from specification to deployment. The only true exception was the design process, which a specific team inside the company does.

Of course, in the first two months at this job I worked in a team, learning how the company was structured, its standards, and knowing people.

It’s not that I hate working in teams. For some tasks, teams are perfect. For example, when you are introducing a new technology in the company it’s extremely useful to be able to talk about its pros and cons, plan strategies, and work problems out with other people.

However, in day-to-day projects, it’s easier to solve problems when you don’t have to form a committee to analyze them. It’s also easier to experiment new techniques or technologies — if the schedule and scope of the project allow it.

All in all, it’s much a matter of preference. I like responsabilities and I’m a perfectionist which fits good with single-man projects.

Without a mouse

November 4th, 2002 § Comments Off on Without a mouse § permalink

I broke my mouse once again. Don’t ask me how 🙂 It’s incredible how we come to depend on that little thing. Browsing seems almost impossible without clicking, which is actually true for some sites. But I’m grew up on command lines, and wouldn’t let this put me down. I managed to post this entry and two others in my other blog using only the keyboard.

However, I have to confess I cheated. Mozilla, my browser of choice, has a neat feature called Type Ahead which allow you to search for links and text in a page just typing the text on the page itself. I used it to navigate in MovableType and find the required fields in the form I used to post the entries.

Phrase Finder

November 4th, 2002 § Comments Off on Phrase Finder § permalink

The Phrase Finder is a nice site listing thousands of idiomatic expressions in English with their meaning and origins explained.

Layout adjustments

November 4th, 2002 § Comments Off on Layout adjustments § permalink

After some small adjustments, the home page validates for XHTML 1.0 Strict and CSS version 2.

I also tested it under Internet Explorer 6.0, Opera 6.0, and Netscape 4.7. All look fine, including Netscape where the layout defaults to text-only mode. The inner pages still need modification, tough.


November 4th, 2002 § Comments Off on w.bloggar § permalink

I’m experimenting with w.bloggar 3.0. I tried its previous release, but as it didn’t support MovableType properly it didn’t appeal much me. This version looks promising, although some options need some refinements — namely Open and Save. Also, it only pings, and doesn’t support trackbacks or pingbacks.

New layout

November 3rd, 2002 § Comments Off on New layout § permalink

A new layout for the blog is in place. The design is by Luis Americo, a co-worker and friend of mine.

It’s a pure XHTML/CSS layout, but I still have to smooth some rough edges: the documents do not validate as XHTML 1.0 Strict (some problems with forms), some pages lack navigational aids, and others need layout adjustements.

To give credit where credit is due, I used two of Mark Pilgrim‘s GPL-ed stylesheets.

I tested against Mozilla 0.98, Internet Explorer 5.5, Konqueror, Lynx, and Links. I don’t have access to a Mac, but I believe it will work fine in Mac browsers other than Mozilla. If something doesn’t work for you, please let me know.

Where am I?

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