January 24th, 2005 § Comments Off § permalink
Mozilla Firefox has reached the impressive total of 20 million downloads for version 1.0, which was released in last November. I’m happy to hear that, especially considering the trouble I had to convince many co-workers, friends, and relatives to switch to Firefox.
20 million is a big number. Brazilian Internet users number only 14 million, and Brazil is very Internet-aware (ironic as that may seem). Nothing bad for a browser that doesn’t come with the operating system.
January 20th, 2005 § Comments Off § permalink
Color me impressed. The more I use Postfix, the more I’m grateful for it. I’m always finding things to solve problems I didn’t even know I had.
In the past week, I’ve been slowly migrating the sites I host to a new server, and I wanted to guarantee that no e-mail was lost during the transfer. The solution is simple with any MTA worth its salt: just instruct the old server to relay all e-mail to the new server. But doing that with a single SQL instruction is way to easy. Where are all those text files I have to change and make sure are properly parsed?
January 20th, 2005 § Comments Off § permalink
Things to be aware of when your are using:
January 18th, 2005 § § permalink
It seems I’m finally getting free of the bug that tried to colonize me in the past two weeks. It’s the worst case of flu I remember enduring in my relatively short life. For the whole past week, I felt like a rhinoceros had run over me.
The most amusing thing about the whole thing was the doctor saying: “I don’t think you have pneumonia; I think it’s just bronchitis”. Very nice thing to say when you are out of breath, feeling like hell’s gone loose inside you.
January 18th, 2005 § Comments Off § permalink
An alien shuttle lands in front of an important museum, located in Toronto. Out comes the proverbial alien. However, instead of asking to speak with the local authorities, taking over the world, or something like that, the alien wants to see a paleontologist. The visitor’s objective? Complement the information demonstrating the ways through which Gods acts in the Universe.
This is the premise behind Calculating God, by Robert J. Sawyer, one of the most acclaimed science fiction writers today. Unfortunately, given the genre, Sawyer’s books are not easily found here in Brazil. This is the first book I’ve ever read by him, and it’s certainly an excellent piece of work.
The book starts with the aforementioned scene. Aliens from two different worlds, in a joint mission, reveal themselves to Earth, after observing the planet for a long time. One of them, Hollus, seeks the help of a local paleontologist to find more evidence of the methods that God uses to exert his will in the Universe. According to Hollus, the existence of God is a scientific fact that can be easily deducted from the observation of the natural world. In fact, Hollus reasons that the objective of modern science is to find why God works the way he does.
The paleontologist that Hollus meets, Thomas Jericho, is a rationalist who prides himself in the fact that there’s no room for faith in his world. He is surprised to discover that Hollus doesn’t consider the question of the existence of God a matter of faith, but of science, of tangible facts. The book follows the development of the relationship between Hollus and Jericho as they confront their worldviews and talk about issues ranging from theology to quantum mechanics, and from biology to philosophy. Jericho, as we find in the first pages, is terminally ill, with only one year of life left to him — a situation reminiscent of Carl Sagan’s life. That is also forcing him to consider his own life in the light of what Hollus has told him.
Far from banalizing the issue, Calculating God seeks to think seriously of the questions involved, focusing of scientific proof. As Hollus says in the first chapter, nothing is outside the scope of science, not even God’s existence. That makes the book a long discussion about the subject, with relatively little action. However, this narrative option is masterfully realized, and the book is able to keep the reader’s attention from beginning to end.
As a Christian, I have a definite opinion about the subject, but I liked the way Sawyer presented his arguments. In fact, I agree with much of what he says. The book entertains, and doesn’t shy away from the difficulty of the questions being asked. Although entertaining its readers is the book’s primary goal, it will certainly lead its readers to think about what they believe with regards to God.
In short, Calculating God is a very recommended reading.
January 11th, 2005 § Comments Off § permalink
The lack of posts here has more to do with the mighty flu I’m fighting now than with the end of year slow-down. For those of you who subscribed in the past few days, normal programming will resume in a couple days. Thank you.
January 3rd, 2005 § Comments Off § permalink
I’m testing a new strategy to fight referrer spam using a bit of voodoo programming. So if you can see my site via RSS, but can’t access it on a browser (or vice-versa), please drop me an e-mail.
January 1st, 2005 § Comments Off § permalink
First day of the new year. When I was younger, I used to spend the last night of the old year awake. Staying awake for more than twenty-four hours straight at least once each three-hundred and sixty-five days was a way to mark the beginning of a new stage in my life. When I got married, however, my habits changed, and I stopped doing it. Getting older, sometimes working until the last minute of the year, going home tired to the bone; things like that take away that juvenile spirit that makes us want to challenge ourselves with a long sleepless stretch.
This year, however, I ended up staying awake the whole night. I didn’t plan it. It just happened. I watched a movie with my brother earlier in the night, then he went to bed. My sister awoke, and we watched another movie. Later, she went to sleep again, and I remained awake, alone. The rest of the house, friends and family, slept in peace. I went to the computer, to check the news while I thought about life.
Dawn is coming out there. The light of a pale sun spreads slowly across the windows, lighting the houses around, coloring the sky with a fading pink that, so short-lived, is already losing its place to the smooth blue of the morning. And I think about those whose dawn wasn’t or won’t be so quiet and peaceful.
The end of a year is always a time for reflection, even if we try to avoid it. The fleeting aura of another year that breathes its last, leaving behind only echoes and shadows that are slowly dissolving, invites the mind to brood about its own mortality. The end of an old year and the beginning of a new year are the edge of reality, the place where past and future face each other for a brief moment in a silent struggle.
The year of 2004 was, in retrospect, an incredible year to me. My life changed completely when my son was born, an event that provided me with a entirely different perspective about so many things that I wouldn’t know where to start were I to enumerate them. Even lesser events were colored by this big change.
I’m currently reading Tomorrow Now, by Bruce Sterling, and he uses fatherhood many times as an analogy in some of his predictions about the future. Among those analogies, a specific sentence called my attention. He wrote, “We are the past of our children.” Being a father made that very clear to me. I am the past of my son. In years to come, I will be one of the things by which he will measure his life, understanding it in its context.
While this particular sentence may seem disheartening, I think it is full of optimism. When the past is clear, the rest of our lives in put in the right perspective. Time flies, as it’s proverbially said, but it also flows with a painful softness, a sweetness that can be savored at each of the indivisible instants that make up our existences.
I remember waiting anxiously for the turn of the millennium. What time to live in! To see the moment in which three nines became three zeros, moving the hand of the clock so slightly and so titanically at the same time… Now, five years have gone by since that happened — more than eight since those days of eager waiting. I grew and I diminished. I learned and I forgot. I was ashamed and I was proud. I cried and I laughed. Each of those seconds of memory is a red brick in that thing I call identity. Echoes and blurs, but trails as well. Breadcrumbs in the way.
The future? I don’t know of it. Using the words of an old sage, the only thing I must do is to decide what I will do with the time that is given to me. Maybe that’s the only new year resolution I can make: consider the potential of every minute. Some, inevitably I will spend unwisely. But I will try to make every one count. After all, there’s a house to build, and I need bricks.
January 1st, 2005 § Comments Off § permalink
A happy new year to all of you. I hope you can see at least one of yours dreams came true, whatever it is, and whatever work takes to make it happen.