Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Smalltalks 2007 keeps growing

The Smalltalks 2007 conference just reached 230 registrations. Perhaps we will reach 256 :)...

Update 1: a few hours later, the count is 237...

Update 2: we just reached 240 registrations...

Update 3: and now the count is 247 registrations...

Update 4: so today, Thursday 11/29, at 5:35am PST, the Smalltalks 2007 conference reached 250 registrations.

Update 5: on Friday 11/30, at 5:00am PST, the Smalltalks 2007 conference reached 256 registrations.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Contrast

I received the first proof copy of the hash book today. It's currently sitting a couple feet away from me. I am happy because the geometry fixes worked perfectly. LaTeX is the best thing ever, the text looks beautiful and gorgeous. And after I checked on these things, I lost interest in looking at it for the time being... perhaps because I have a much better version that I am still reviewing, with lots of improvements and fixes.

To sort of celebrate the existence of the book, and yet without being too convinced that I should feel extraordinarily happy or anything like that, I went to get something to eat. You could say I used the book as an excuse to get nice food, but oh well.

I was sitting there, thinking about a million things as usual... then a couple arrived, sat next to me, started drinking, and then began talking.

So the lady works by arranging car loans, and today she dealt with $300K worth of those. She said she was still wired from work, as always, and so she had to distract herself somehow. After the comparatively small bottle of sake, she kept insisting the food of an average place was the best in the world.

The more she drank, the louder she got. Ironically, one of the restaurant employees asked her if she drank wine when she got home to be able to relax, and she said no. The bottle of sake laid empty, merely inches away from her.

The husband seemed unable to get a decent conversation going with anybody. His sentences had less than 5 words each. The wife then commented that she sacrificed her big truck to go eat there, that gas was so expensive, and overall... well, you know... they went on and on with the conversation you hear from people who are obviously drunk. Overreaching assertions, the need to approve or disapprove of everything in very strong terms regardless of its actual importance, an increase in narcissism, and so on. Then, when I got back home, I saw this video.

You know, what would have happened if I had usually engaged in any of the activities described in the previous paragraphs? What if I had the compulsive need to be distracted or entertained? What if I drank as a way to calm myself down? And what if, on top of all that, I had to deal with the hangover that comes after getting intoxicated? Among other things, I wouldn't have the first proof copy of the hash book next to me.

Like white and black, like night and day, like the difference between noise and music, chatter and poetry, scribbling and painting. Simple, pure, stark, clear, striking, beautiful contrast.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

More hash book polishing

I just got past a rough patch in the hash book. On page 251 of the draft, I found another instance of broken code. In this case, this caused two more pages to be added to the book, and as such the hash book is now 444 pages long. Hopefully I will get close to finishing the review soon.

No more this particular Starbucks for me

I used to come to this Starbucks because it's close to home and they have convenient plugs on the wall so I could stay and use their wifi service. But then, one day a couple months ago, they moved the large desk next to another set of plugs. I thought it seemed real odd... why bother moving stuff like that for no apparent reason... and then I became suspicious.

Of course, the new plugs next to the desk do not work.

I thought I'd give them the benefit of the doubt, so I brought it up a number of times. Every time, the answer was stuff like "we have not heard any complaints", "we do not know", "they should work", "we will bring it up with our manager", etc. Some of the employees know me by name, so it's not like the conversation is started from scratch each time.

So I stopped coming as often and finally I thought I'd do some judgment day kind of thing and came back to this particular Starbucks. Lo and behold, the plugs do not work.

That does it. I am tired of being lied to, regardless of whether it is intentional or by omission. Although I am on a different branch of business, I have been doing customer service as well. I have higher standards than this stuff.

Oh well... there are a million other places I can go, including other coffee shops (Starbucks or not) that treat customers better.

Hash book draft update

I decided to read the hash book from start to finish. As it's been a while since I finished it, I have forgotten enough of it so that reading it does not cause me to remember what I wrote.

The PDF file is 442 pages long. I started yesterday, and I reached page 151 a moment ago. I think I've touched almost every page. For the most part, I've rewritten sentences for clarity, or changed one word for another, or paraphrased some text so that the paragraph looks better, that kind of stuff. I also caught something like 3 typos. So far, so good.

And now, on page 151, I think I have found a mistake involving broken code. Sigh... oh well, better sooner than later. Hopefully I will be done reviewing it within the next few days.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Smalltalks 2007 update

The schedule for the Smalltalks 2007 conference now has a commentary written in English for each of the presentations. We just finished these, so it may take a little bit for all of them to become available, but we estimate they will be up within the next 24 hours. Enjoy!

Update: all content is now available.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Ah, see? Now we begin to understand

Check this out:

"Narcissists mainly want to punish or defeat someone who has threatened their highly favorable views of themselves," the authors note. "People who are preoccupied with validating a grandiose self-image apparently find criticism highly upsetting and lash out against the source of it."

Here's the full article. Where have I seen such behavior before?...

The other day I smiled for some reason, and I had this ironic realization that if the story of what is going on in the universe were being written in a book, somewhere close to the latest text you would find something like:

And then, in an insignificant planet in the middle of nowhere, somebody that would live a minuscule amount of time like so many others of his kin, smiled.

The thought that came immediately after that was: "who cares!". Seriously, now... and we think things like our gold coins are worth anything because what?

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Smalltalks 2007 growth

The registrations keep coming in. We're past 210 now...

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Smalltalks 2007 @ 200

Following the release of the presentation schedule, there has been another surge of interest for the Smalltalks 2007 conference. As such, we have reached 200 registrations a moment ago.

This event is going to be something... in fact, I even got a comment stating that it is going to be the largest Smalltalk only conference in the Western hemisphere. I am not sure if it is or not, and quite frankly none of the organizers is into record breaking anyway, but on the other hand it is the perception of knowledgeable people that are not in the organizing team. So we will take it as some sort of external validation that says things are looking good. Thank you for your support!

So now, my friend... you didn't want to register for the conference because... ???... :)

OOOooooohhh...

What is this that I read? Good news for my job, perhaps?

Monday, November 19, 2007

Writing...

Last Friday a friend of mine asked how I had managed to have time to write:

  • A mentoring course on Smalltalk, ~350 pages...
  • And a hash book, ~450 pages...
The answer was simple. Those who have been reading my blog for a while will recognize it immediately.

I do not watch TV. I do not have many things.

And then the situation became clear for this guy.

After some time I thought well, perhaps by default people get the impression that writing is this huge expenditure of time and that it is impossible unless it is your job. But how many more people would write books if they saw how much within reach it really is? Here's my grain of sand in this regard.

For me, the writing process began in September of 2005. I was working 9-12 hour days at JP Morgan at the time, plus 1+ hour of commute each way. And even then, I managed to write most of the mentoring book while working on Kapital.

At first it was not easy. When I began, it was taking me about 2 hours to write a single page of what today I'd describe as gibberish. But through patience and perseverance, I got my writing skills sharpened again. Now, if I have everything thought out in advance, I can manage to produce 15 well polished pages in a handful of hours.

And with this practice and well honed technique, something very nice happened. I joined Cincom, and with that I got 8 hour days and zero commute because I work from home. In other words, all of a sudden, I got all this extra time to write I did not have before. And, to top it off, I was not nearly as exhausted anymore --- in part because of the shorter work day, but also courtesy of the training in hard work I got while at JP Morgan.

So let's see: no TV (I do not even have cable service), few distractions with things, no commute, I live on my own, I have all this writing and hard work training that is now paying off, and I have a passion for what I do.

It looks good so far, but there is a key ingredient missing for success: I have organized my life so that I can maximize the time I spend doing what I like doing best. The importance of this, and your ability to let go of things you used to care about, is critical.

To give you an idea, I do not have a schedule because every single day is a work day. I measure the few interruptions to work in events/month. I can tell you there is not a whole lot of them in the first place. For example, I hate the fact that I have not managed to get rid of accounting (two events/month of account/receipt reconciliation, paying bills, and getting taxes prepared in advance --- I am ready to file every January 1st), and laundry (about 2 events/month).

All of this, my life, has been engineered carefully so the consequence becomes unavoidable: with all this time and energy available, it is inevitable that books get written.

How many of us do not accomplish their goals in life because of distractions like TV? Isn't that sad?

And well, there is something else. I want to share the things I do with the people I care about. I find it extremely disappointing that my grandpa, who passed away a couple weeks ago, will not make it to see the Smalltalks 2007 conference. To his last moments, he was happy about how well it was going, about the books, and that I was going to be there soon. Just one more month on top of his 88 years and he would have seen the first proof copy of the hash book, complete with its beautiful first cover draft. But alas, it will not be.

If anything, the lesson I take from this is that if I am to honor his memory, the beautiful moments we spent together, and the things I learned from him, the last thing in the world that I can do is waste time on things that are not worth it. I do not want to ever look back and realize that I've missed on things like this because I was lazy, or because I didn't care enough, or because I knew I could but didn't. No my friend, not for me.

See? When you really want to, you can.

What is in your life?

Smalltalks 2007 schedule is out

So besides the 188 registrations, we will have this schedule.

You are coming, right?

Was this really Best Buy?

So I received this email entitled "We think this might help you decide to visit us again" from what appears to be genuinely Best Buy. What is the message body?

"Enter Text Here"

Ouch...

Sunday, November 18, 2007

What did I just do?

That is the question in my mind. Let's see...

I fixed a number of geometry issues with LaTeX for the hash and mentoring course books. I changed from draft compilation to non-draft compilation. I switched from openany to openodd for the documentclass. I made new PDF files for both books. Then, I spent a couple hours and made a book cover for the hash book. When I was satisfied, I saved a copy as a PDF. I created a Lulu project for the hash book from scratch, sent the files in, played with the settings some.

And then, I bought a copy of my own work.

I find it hard to believe. So, in a couple weeks or so, I will receive my first proof version of the hash book. It still has to be reviewed and things like that, but this experiment will tell me if there are further geometry issues, font issues, margin issues, legibility issues, or any other mess that needs to be addressed before the book goes into print.

If all goes well, the next one to receive such treatment will be the mentoring course.

These books are getting closer and closer to becoming a real physical thing that I will be able to put my hands on. And, well... after more than two years of writing, it feels really weird.

Conference schedule coming up

Tomorrow is the day when the conference schedule becomes public. Although we (the organizers) worked on it heavily and know it very well, it has happened to us that when we go back and take a look, we end up feeling impressed.

As of the latest count, we have received 182 registrations.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

AMD news, nonsensical related video

Check this out --- a Pentium MMX screenshot in an AMD news story. Erm... huh?

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Social events for Smalltalks 2007

We started a list of attendees for dinner on Sunday and Monday. Please add your name here so we can make the corresponding reservation.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Smalltalks 2007 update

The conference just went past 170 registrations. In addition, let me tell you... when the presentation schedule comes out next Monday, you will be gladly surprised...

Update: check this out. There's more where that came from...

Monday, November 12, 2007

Progress...

I just finished the first draft of the mentoring course book. It's 315 pages long, and together with the hash book's 433 pages the original work is now 748 pages long. The book on AGC still needs to be written...

Also, the Smalltalks 2007 conference reached 160 registrations today. We are roughly a month away, and it keeps growing. How fantastic!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

More stuff to do

There is literally so much to do, there is not enough time for it all.

So... to summarize, I was writing "The Art of Object Oriented Programming", a book of 7 chapters. Chapter 7 was on hashing, it grew too large, and now it is its own book at 433 pages. This leaves 338 pages in "The Art of Object Oriented Programming".

Now, chapter 6 is about something called "AGC is Garbage Collect", but I realize it's going to take about a year to write, and I also expect it will grow out of proportion. Therefore, I will split "The Art of Object Oriented Programming" once more. There will be "A Mentoring Course on Smalltalk", consisting of the remaining 338 pages except any reference to AGC. The good thing is that, after the split, the book will be done and ready to go.

This leaves the following action items.

  • Publish a series of math lecture notes by Leandro Caniglia... ETA a few months or so...
  • Publish the mentoring course and the hash book... ETA a few months or so...
  • Implement AGC and write the book about it... ETA 1 year or so...
  • Write the book about software development processes... ETA undefined at this point...
More to come.

PS: some days I really wish I had an assistant...

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Spam, or not spam...

So I just sent out an email from Gmail, and got this in return. Apparently, Windows Live Hotmail thinks Google generates spam. Not that Gmail has a very nice spam filter, no no...

Technical details of permanent failure:
PERM_FAILURE: SMTP Error (state 12): 550 SC-004 Mail rejected by Windows Live Hotmail for policy reasons. A block has been placed against your IP address because we have received complaints concerning mail coming from that IP address. If you are not an email/network admin please contact your E-mail/Internet Service Provider for help. Email/network admins, we recommend enrolling in our Junk E-Mail Reporting Program (JMRP), a free program intended to help senders remove unwanted recipients from their e-mail list: http://postmaster.live.com

Smalltalks 2007 extended to two days

Well well.... we just sent out an announcement regarding the fact that the Smalltalks 2007 conference in Buenos Aires will be extended to two days because:

  • 28 abstracts were submitted to the conference,
  • 150+ people registered so far.
This is wildly beyond anything we could have guessed before hand. As such, we have also moved from our previous room because its space for 100 became insufficient to hold the conference. Our new destination is the Aula Magna of Pabellon 1 with its sloped floor and seating capacity for 400.

I am telling you, the quality of the abstracts we received is something else. This is a conference you will not want to miss.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

The hash book

I just finished the hash book. The first complete draft is 433 pages long. The only things that remain to do are related to polishing.

Strange... I feel nothing special or out of the ordinary.

In any case, to get my bearings right with publishing, what I will do is to take a number of math lecture notes that I like a lot and publish a booklet with them. The experience with the small case will help ramping up the process to a whole book I am sure.

More to come...

Update: oh dear... it is beginning to sink in...

Friday, November 02, 2007

Smalltalks 2007 growing...

The Smalltalks 2007 conference to be held in Buenos Aires just went past 100 registrations, and we are still 5 weeks from the conference. We have also been getting high quality presentation proposals. I can't quite tell what they are yet, but it is going to be a very interesting gathering.

It's really exciting to see how large this is growing. It was even noted that it was likely that attendance could be larger than that of Smalltalk Solutions 2007!!!

If you would like to participate, all you need to do is to go over here and follow the registration procedure. It is very simple, basically all you need to do is to send an email to smalltalks2007 at gmail.

Don't miss out --- see you there!