Monthly Archives: August 2007

DIY level 2: cement

You know when you’ve passed to a new level on do-it-yourself… it’s when you feel able to manage cement.
You also know when you start becoming mad… it’s when you feel able to manage cement.

Bathroom floor step 1Last weekend I committed the biggest DIY project I have ever done. For some weird reason we had parquet floor in the bathroom. The house doesn’t have parquet anywhere but the bathroom, where you have just the moisture necessary to destroy the wood. I have been living 2’5 years here, and last week, suddenly, I decided that the wood was in a really bad state, so I ripped it up. Underneath I found the old floor.

I started looking for options to improving the floor aspect. One was installing a new PVC floor, a sort of plastic material, supposedly easy to install. The problem was that everybody suggest its use over a flat surface. And unluckily the topography of the old floor was a collection of hills and holes. So the option was using some kind of auto-levelling paste. The next day I went to a hardware store, bought the PVC floor, but there was a problem with the famous paste… they only had 25Kg bags. So I chose not to choose this, and instead I picked a 2Kg cement bag. It was written some instructions in the bag, so I thought it was going to be easy. Moreover, I bought a new tap.

Bathroom floor step 2After installing the new tap, I started to make the cement. And soon I realized I needed also sand! Where can I get some sand, a Saturday evening? I took some bags, and went to Montju√Įc (the nearest hill). Luckily I stumbled with some street works not far from home, so I took the opportunity to steal some sand. I came back home, and made a cement layer. I was really tired, however I went to have dinner in an Indian restaurant (the best in Barcelona, according my flatmate’s guitarist’s former band) with Jordi. The next day I added another layer.

Bathroom floor step 3Finally, I installed the new floor. It was a bit annoying to cut the WC shape, and to discover that there wasn’t right angles anywhere. I used a special glue, really sticky! And at the middle of the installation, I ran out of glue. Hence, I had to wait until next day, Monday, to buy more. Eventually I bought it, and finish it. There was a minor problem… there were some places with too much glue, creating waves while you step on. So I’m cleaning the glue excess…

Conclusion: The result is quite nice, but if I have in the future some similar idea, please kill me!!

More about playing with word count and position

NOTICE: Find more in my tech blog:

I’ve seen in the last few weeks some examples on using the word positions within the sentences… like my “your blog written by monkeys“.

A way to experiment is just looking for a chuck of a sentence, a “meaning” block, that puts in relation two concepts. For example encountering “is the new”, you can create a nice diagram showing new tendencies.

A similar path is getting statistics of word appearances within a text, and their relations. Later you can paint nice pictures using this info, like one visualizing the Holy Books of five world religions.

Finally, you don’t even need to know how to program this systems. You can do things yourself with just paper and pencil, and your favorite song.

The cooking company

NOTICE: Find more in my tech blog:

Imagine a big restaurant, with a lot of cooks. There are some bosses managing all the work: assigning the dishes to the individual cooks. So far, this seems quite correct. But imagine the bosses decide to start a individual plate with 3 cooks, who start to heat the frying pan, and then the bosses decide to remove these 3 chefs, and assign another 2. In the middle of the cooking, for some weird reason, the managers change the orders for creating this dish, modifying some ingredients, and reassigning other cooks to the task. Can you imagine the final result? Well, actually I don’t really know how a big restaurant manages all its tasks, but… you guessed it, I’m thinking about software companies.

It’s curious to read, from a brilliant article by Paul Graham, this idea:

There is a contradiction in the very phrase “software company”. The two words are pulling in opposite directions. Any good programmer in a large organization is going to be at odds with it, because organizations are designed to prevent what programmers strive for.

The software industry doesn’t have yet a good frame or structure for organizing / managing / assigning the projects to programmers. Everybody knows (even some bosses) that the fact is: the more programmers you assign to a project, the less quality you obtain. But most companies prefer considering programmers just as flat resources. “Assign this resource to that project”, they used to say. The problem is that programmers are not resources, like machines. Also programming is somehow an art.

In Spain, the big companies create a lot of job levels, like: junior programmer, senior programmer, junior analyst and senior analyst. The lower level inhabitants are reassigned from time to time to different tasks, messing them up. Even worse, everybody assumes that programming is bad (because the high levels inhabitants don’t program, and everybody wants to climb levels); so imagine that: engineers who have just finished the degree who want to program the least as possible! A really unhealthy industry. In the rest of Europe, things are a bit better, as are in America. But, of course they haven’t found the holy grail.

Some people say the future is pair programming, and others say small groups (3 or 4 persons) is the best option. Also, we can observe another way to manage projects: the methodology (or lack of it) in the open source projects. I’d like to see some analysis from the projects at sourceforge: statistics putting in relation things like number of (key) developers, activity, and… let’s dream, quality (maybe measured using bugs count plus features accomplished plus something). We might find the key to create a software company, or the key to avoid creating them.

The last days of holidays

World and scissorsOne thing to see during summer in Barcelona is the streets’ decoration of the Gracia’s festivals. I spent the Saturday morning walking around this neighborhood, being annoyed by the subtle rain. As previous years, the inhabitants of the streets have created an imaginative world, using only old plastic bottles and other recycled stuff as the raw materials. It’s always enjoyable to have a walk there, entering into each street’s world.

Tea samplesAnd the best way to spend the evening during summer in Barcelona is just enjoying an ice tea. Jordi and I went to a really nice tea salon (& shop) hidden on one tight street in the Gothic square. Speaking about life, work, girls and Go, the evening passes as quickly as the people on the street… but the slowness of our tea relaxes us.

5 years without meeting the Mediterranean

One day, during my holidays, I decided to go to the beach. It was a weird decision, because I don’t really like the beach. Too many people, too much sticky sand, too much sun. In the old days I preferred enjoying the beach in the late evening, when everybody is leaving. Also, I got used to own a lot of space of the beach… I mean nobody in 10 meters around.

But for some strange reason I was too bored the other day, during my holidays. So I decided to enjoy the Mediterranean. There was a red flag (meaning big waves) at the watcher’s tower, but I still entered into the sea. The annoying waves hit me without mercy. The water was so dirty. And suddenly I realized the passing of time.

Entering into the seaI realized that the last time I enjoyed the sea was 5 years ago. This picture shows me 5 years ago. It was the last time I met the sea (I can’t remember a more recent one). A lot of things have changed since then…

The most outstanding fireworks, again

I can never miss the “Nit de l’Alb√†” at Elche’s festivals.
Every year I promise myself to come again.
It’s worth it!

Last year I had an idea: “next year I’ll record some videos to show it to everybody”. Last year I wrote a long description about the fireworks. This year I can offer you something far better, THE VIDEO!

This video was recorded outside the city, on a new bridge over Vinalopó river. This position helps you to get a better overall view. As you can observe in the video, there are fireworks all around. All the locals start to fire rockets, starting at 10pm. But the real party starts at 11:15pm, when the city council starts to fire a bigger magnitude of fireworks, until 12pm. The intensity of fireworks recorded in the video lasts for one hour!

No word can describe the dimension of those moments. No video, either. If you can, see it by yourself!

This text will change your life

Do you know what a chain of coincidences is?

Actually you are alive just by a chain of coincidences: somehow your parents met, fell in love, and you were born. Coincidence over coincidence. You are reading this because of a chain of coincidences, in which you are probably not the main character: for example, maybe you know me because we’ve played Go, but I have to tell you that I discovered Go by a really weird coincidence…

This text will change your life, I can add. It might be the start, the origin, the fist step of a new small chain of coincidences. A chain contained within a bigger chain. Maybe while you are reading this you aren’t spending your time doing another thing, and it means that you have chosen a path among the infinite ways to continue your current life. Or maybe you’ll just use this subject to flirt: “hey girl, wanna start a chain of coincidences with me? I’m already changing your future!”.

The funny thing is that this text has also changed my life. And while I’m writing it, it changes itself.

Your blog written by monkeys

NOTICE: Find more in my tech blog:

Do you want to try my new tiny script?
Just write here your blog’s url, click the button and watch the surprise.

And now, let me explain it.
Some weeks ago I was discussing with another engineer about NLP, and the importance of having some language knowledge to effectively process a text. He wanted to do some stuff with pure text, written in an unknown language. I suggested that you can do more and better things if some human expert helps you, but he told me he couldn’t pay an expert. In that case, I pointed out that you can use some kind of statistic approach, like registering the appearance of every single word, or the relation between a word and the previous and next ones. But those methods are just randomly, almost like monkeys playing with the words

This evening I’ve created a PHP script that reads your blog (actually only the words within paragraphs) and generates new text using some statistic (the data used can be seen at the end of the page source). It seems real, it might have sense… but it’s just random. Monkeys rulez!