December 20th, 2002 § Comments Off on Vacations § permalink

In less than four hours my working year ends — or, at least, I hope so. The company that employs me usually decides for collective vacations, and this year was no exception. But this time I will be part of the staff on duty, although I will be able to stay at home. So I’m hoping nothing happens until we return to work on January’s second week. I especially hope nothing happens on the next Friday, since that is when The Two Towers opens here 🙂

A bad neighbor

December 19th, 2002 § Comments Off on A bad neighbor § permalink

Something from the domain hit my site for almost a whole day, every few seconds, totalling 2106 hits — probably a robot gone haywire. Fortunately, as it kept requesting the index URL for each blog in the site but couldn’t follow the redirection, it didn’t download more than a few bytes in each hit and no damage was done. Nonetheless, I hope it doesn’t happen again.

Racist Tolkien?

December 6th, 2002 § Comments Off on Racist Tolkien? § permalink

Yesterday I read an interesting Guardian article about the racist undertones in Tolkien’s books. My wife and I discussed this very issue when I read The Lord of the Rings to her in our last vacation.

I think Tolkien’s characters are too flat to allow an in-depth analysis. Each people in Middle Earth is built around a stereotype: elves are fair and wise; hobbits are simple-minded and uncultured; orcs are brutal and ugly; and so on. Likewise, there’s a strong distinction between good and evil. Each character has a well-defined position regarding allegiance to the two opposing forces in Middle Earth — there’s no middle ground.

In that light, Tolkien’s distinctions in The Lord of the Rings can be seem more like poor development of characters than racist statements — a view somewhat supported by The Silmarillion, where characters and story are better developed, and matters are not always black and white as a result.

Particularly, I don’t believe his works to be explicitly racist. At most, he just reflected the prevalent prejudices of his time. Although there are whole works devoted to proving either point of view, one can’t really know the real intent behind Tolkien’s words and knowing would not change what’s already written.

Everything considered, I think Tolkien’s books are wonderful fantasy and they stand on their own merits as literary pieces, regardless of their flaws. Each person will have to find his or her own position regarding Tolkien’s works, of course.

Popup-blocking is theft

November 25th, 2002 § 9 comments § permalink

If you are using a browser that block popups, you are a thief, according a company called Anti-Leech.

This company makes a “tool” that allow a site to deny access to visitors using popup-blocking tools. The company says this kind of blocking steals the profit companies would receive from ads.

Don’t people ever learn? Banners and popups are not a viable form of advertising anymore. Last time I checked, click-through rates were down to 0.5%, meaning only big sites can profit from this kind of ads.

Well, if a site calls me a thief because I block popups that don’t interest me, they are not worth visiting anyway.

Geek Syndrome

November 21st, 2002 § 3 comments § permalink

The Globe and Mail: "Is there a ‘geek’ syndrome?" The article discusses a controversial theory about the increase in autism cases, especially on places where there’s a higher concentration of geeks.

There is a test in the page to find out where one’s in the autism spectrum. Quoting from the interpretation summary:

“Scores over 32 are generally taken to indicate Asperger’s Syndrome or high-functioning autism, with more than 34 an ‘extreme’ score. A ‘normal’ score, based on control groups, is about 16 (or 15 for women and between 17 and 18 for men). A group of mathematics-contest winners scored an average of 24.5. A group of scientists scored an average of 18.5 (19 for men, 17 for women), with computer scientists at about 21, physicists at 19 and those in biology or medicine at about 15.”

I neither have geek parents nor live in the Silicon Valley, yet I scored 34…

(via Realm of the Dark Elf, who scored 38)

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.

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)

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.

Towards XML

November 1st, 2002 § Comments Off on Towards XML § permalink

Our company is finally considering XML and related technologies for our development process. It’s great news for me since I’ve been pushing XML for a long time as I believe it will help us a lot in some areas.

I also have to make a case for XML, considering pros and cons, and I’d appreciate good pointers. Jeremy talked about this some time ago. Maybe it’s time for him to write more about the subject. Hint, hint 🙂

Thinking about thought

October 30th, 2002 § Comments Off on Thinking about thought § permalink

Richard Caetano thinks about thought in Thinking in Brain Speed.

The brain is a fascinating machine. I once read in a science maganize that the brain processes over ten thousand sensory inputs every second, automatically filtering what is irrelevant, and checking what is relevant against memory. Each of those inputs is considered as we decide the minute things we need to do each second, from blinking to hitting the next key in the keyboard at the proper location.

The interesting thing about the process is that we can “rewire” the brain with new assumptions affecting the way it will react next time, as Caetano noted and pointed as a good mental exercise.

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