Monthly Archives: September 2006

Boys and girls on Internet

SexsThis week I’ve read some texts about men and women on Internet. To start with, “most bloggers are women“.

“According to a survey of more than 4 million blogs by Perseus Development, 56% were created by women. More bad news for the boys: men are more likely than women to abandon their blog once it’s created.”

If we admit the premise that blogs are one of the most important sources of new information on the net, we might guess that nowadays there is more text data from girls than from boys on Internet. Interesting! It’s known that each sex thinks in a different way, therefore it’s curious to read the world from the other perspective. Even so, there are people who still study the intelligence in number’s concepts, and somebody claims that “men are more clever than women“, although in practical terms there is no difference. Sometimes men and women think and understand things in a different way (like in this clever joke), but in most of the cases we can do the same things.

However, in the “tech professional” world you can hardly see a woman. At University I saw almost no girls in the Computer Science Faculty. I don’t know the reason, but I can guess it’s still a question about social roles (boys play with computers, girls with dolls). Anyway I know things’ve been changing during the last 5 years, and now girls are more likely to enter in technical studies. Even Google is supporting girls with special grants (read in Ana’s blog). I hope to see more and more women in tech positions… I want to see a new algorithm made by a girl… I want to fall in love with one of them (“damny dangerous”, but it’s worth it ;-)).

The web is not to print, but to scan

NOTICE: Find more in my tech blog:

This week I have had a lot of dead time in the office (while waiting for the client’s answers), and I’ve been reading some web usability articles from Jakob Nielsen’s website. I have read almost every column he wrote, and I think I already knew most of the key issues (like colors for links, big fonts, etc). He writes using the common sense, so it’s quite easy to arrive to most of his thoughts on your own. But I’ve also discovered some interesting ideas, that are letting me think about it… and I want to comment one of them: We scan web pages, so we don’t need perfect design.

In the office I’m surrounded by a lot of graphic designers, who spend most of the time building “perfect” designs. “Pixel perfection”. Everything perfectly aligned. Later we spend a lot of time translating them to HTML and CSS, keeping these exact pixel measurements in every known browser. I see some of my coworkers spending a lot of time making CSS hacks to fix such small design problems (and becomimg proud of this). Is it really necessary? Internet is not a print medium, where everything has to be in a perfect position. Internet is a place to look for information, where we scan pages, quickly. Of course, the look & feel of a website is quite important, to help us to figure out at sight if this is a “good or believable” place. But it doesn’t matter if the menu is moved 1-pixel to the left if you visit it with Explorer instead Firefox. Because what the user really want is information, served in an easy way to find out.

Hey girl, you look so pretty, but do you have something inside your head? No? Then the most you can aspire is an one-night relation, and the next day he will not remember you. Sad but sadly usual.

Update: I see these ideas, concerning to avoid working on pixel perfect positions, over and over. The last time that I’ve seen them, it has been reading “A List Apart” lastest article: “12 Lessons for Those Afraid of CSS and Standards“, where the author refers to these ideas several times.

Weekend DIY

This weekend is longer, due to the national day of Catalonia festivity. I wanted to compose some music, but I had an ergonomic problem: one of my synthesizers was in an uncomfortable place. This was an excellent excuse to some DIY!

Shelf for my synth-module (DIY step 1)Step 1: The ingredients
I bought some handles and some “L” supports from Carrefour, and I had a walk in the neighbourhood to find a good piece of wood. I used a tape measure, a pencil, a drill and a screwdriver to make the holes and spin the screws.

Shelf for my synth-module (DIY step 2)Step 2: The cooking
Firstly, I discovered that the 2 “L” weren’t strong enough to hold the weight (the shelf folded down). So I had to buy a “capital L”, and put it in the center. With this extra, it has no problem supporting the synth’s weight.

SynthesizersThe final result
As you can see, now I have everything at hand. Time to make some noises!!

I’m a Humanist!

I don’t really like these kind of silly quizzes, but sometimes are funny…

“You fit in with: Humanism”
Your ideals mostly resemble that of a Humanist. Although you do not have a lot of faith, you are devoted to making this world better, in the short time that you have to live. Humanists do not generally believe in an afterlife, and therefore, are committed to making the world a better place for themselves and future generations.

20% scientific.
80% reason-oriented.

Take this quiz

Philosophical thought of the week

NOTICE: Find more in my tech blog:

A morning office conversation:

Tony (a workmate): Is there a PHP function to stop for a moment the execution of a page?
Me: Yes, it is “sleep()”.
Tony: Just what I need, to sleep a little bit. Does it work with microseconds?
Me: No, it works with seconds. For example, if you write sleep(1), it is going to stop for 1 second.
Tony: Ok, thanks, you are a crack.
Me: And, even more, if you write sleep(2), it’ll stop for 2 seconds.
Tony: Why don’t we use it with a negative value? Probably we will speed up our websites!

Productive weekend

This is the last weekend before my birthday (on Tuesday I’ll be 29). I wanted to make the most of these days doing some things…

some DIY in blueFor example, on Saturday I was doing some DIY, painting a small table in blue which I found some days ago. It was not really clean, so I followed my father’s saying “dirt + paint = clean”. The final result is quite nice, because it fills an empty corner of the living-room, as you can observe in the picture. And I’m thinking about putting a plant pot on it… it could be perfect.

Also this weekend I’m starting to use my bike again, after I’ve done some improvements on it. I’ve discovered it is a really fast (and healthy) option for travelling inside the city. In fact, I’m seriously thinking about going by bike to the office. Today I’ve made a trial-run, riding the complete route. The final time was only 25 minutes, with a quite relaxed riding, although it’s uphill. If I compare it with the bus (my usual election, 35min) or the metro (around 20min, but in the morning it is like a tin of sardines), there is not possible discussion. In Barcelona there aren’t a lot of bike paths (here is a PDF map), but luckily most of my route is covered with them, so I must give a chance to the bike!

Beware of the Python on the Window (XP)

NOTICE: Find more in my tech blog:

Two years ago, I arrived to Barcelona to continue my Ph.D studies. Two years, how long!, who could imagine all the things that were going to happen? In those days I was looking for a programming language to “fast-prototype” my ideas. The final match was between Python and Ruby, and I finally started to learn “the snake”. But due to a lack of research funds, I had to stop it and start working in a private company, and I didn’t really make a lot of use of Python.

Now I’m rediscovering this programming language, because I feel I’m using PHP too much (among other causes). So I started using Python again, and to start with, I tried to solve a problem/need I had:
– I had 42000 files, containing Go games (*.sgf)
– I wanted rename those files from ugly numbers to something like year-player1Name-player2Name.sgf.
– Some files had the header information coded in UTF-8, with player’s names written in Japanese characters.

I love Unicode’s UTF-8, with these lovely Japanese ideographs (and, of course, my favorite one is code “7881“). I’m using WinXP (yes, I’m a masochist), and I’ve read it natively supports UTF-8, so I thought it was a nice idea to have file’s names with Japanese calligraphy. Finally the result was beautiful… but 2 problems appeared:
1- Most of the Go-game programs on Windows are not prepared to read UTF-8 files, and crash. So I had to make a version without ideographs 🙁
2- Windows throws an error after renaming 10000 files… maybe renaming 42000 files is too hard a job for it 🙁

The code itself:

import glob,re,os,sys

pats = [re.compile(r'DT\[(\d{2,4})'),    #year
        re.compile(r'PW\[([^\]]*)'),    #player White
        re.compile(r'PB\[([^\]]*)')]    #player Black

for file in files:
    info=[]    #were I'm going to save header info
    for pat in pats:
                info.append('kanjis') # replace ideographs

        newName = reduce(lambda x,y:x+'-'+y,info)
            print "Unexpected error:", sys.exc_info()[1]


I know I can group exceptions, but I prefer to write in this way for an easy understanding. By the way, exceptions are one of the strange things of Python… IMO they are too “hardware” for this kind of language.