Posts from November 2009
Medieval TRON

With the recent buzz about the remake of the classic TRON (in the works) I could not resist to post this gem:

brevity-medieval-tron


Got something to say?

Can we finally get rid of oil?

The other day I watched a movie entitled “the age of stupid”. Long story short, it shows the point of view of someone who, around 2055, survived a human species near eradication and built a tower with all the digital records of mankind and a bunch of other stuff too, like frozen animals, art pieces, etc. Just imagine a Noah’s arc on steroids - except for the fact that it’s not an arc, it’s a tower.

Anyways, he basically spends the entire movie preaching about our inability to be smart about the environment and supporting his words with snippets of TV news (actual footage from our times) about the environment, what oil companies are doing in developing countries, what we do with our cars and our planes, and so forth. This made me realize that I’m probably not doing enough for the environment and should start doing something about that fact.

In any case, today I just read about a new breakthrough in solar energy harnessing. Scientists made a discovery that allows a new type of solar panel to be 6x more efficient than traditional zync panels (the ones typically used today in solar power installations). It can even work underground! Can we ditch oil once we figure out how to replace plastics, now? :)


Got something to say?

Another day in Teuge - 3 more jumps

This Saturday I went back to Teuge for another day of jumping out of airplanes. The day started a bit foggy but windguru never failed me so far, so I knew that it would clear eventually. And so it did; around 11 clock in the morning I was part of the first load of the day in the Cessna Caravan, ready to jump.

I decided to try a new canopy this time and having jumped with 3 different 190ft canopies before (Sabre, Spectre, and Silhouette) I was curious about the Pilot, for I had been told it was a more progressive kind of wing. Turns out they were right: In the air I found it to be much faster to turn (and drop, in sharp turns) which is a lot of fun, but I also noticed a couple of things I didn’t really enjoy:

  1. Deployments. The deployment of the pilot are "fast and dirty". Compared to it the silhouette is very gentle and smooth;
  2. Landings. Compared to my previous experiences with other types, the pilot feels very unstable to me. I know I don't have a lot of experience (39 jumps) but I did notice the difference between landing the Silhouette and the Pilot.

Funny story: In the first jump I thought the hard/fast/clumsy deployment was due to the fact that, while packing, I forgot to wrap the “skirt” after putting the cells inside and right before putting the canopy on the floor to get the air out (packers should know what I mean) but I later noticed that this happened in every jump (not me forgetting that, the whole fast deployment ;)).

I had planned to jump 4 times but when waiting for the 4th flight this guy came to me and asked if wouldn’t mind giving up my seat so he could go with a friend of his that was going on a tandem. The clouds were awesome (checkout the video) but, being his 2000th jump, I abode and let him go. The downside was that it was the last load of the day, but I figured I had just made someone really happy :)

Stuff I tried/trained in these 3 jumps include maintaining a stable sit fly for most of the jump and really getting down the details of my fall rate. It will really help the next time I jump with my friend Ricardo in my home DZ.

As a last comment I have to say that one of the loads was reaaaaaally full. Let’s just say that my private parts were not too happy with that ride up. Enough said :(

Blue skies!


Got something to say?

My first two way skydive (exit video)

I already wrote about it in the past, but now we finally got the video of the exit (too bad we can’t record video ourselves yet, but the time will come :)).

Here’s the link to the video.


Got something to say?

Cool 404 page

Check it out, one of the most original 404 pages I’ve seen.


Got something to say?

Dutch break world domino record

Go figure.


Got something to say?

SWIFT transfers are monitored by US authorities (even European transfers)

I was really in shock when I went with my mother to the bank the other day: There was a small sheet of paper stating that bank transfers done via the SWIFT network are prone to have its details shared with US authorities. The network currently has two nodes working with the same data in almost real time, one in the Netherlands and one in the US, and the latter is - well - under US jurisdiction.

From the wikipedia:

Operations centers

SWIFT operates two data centers, one in the US and one in the Netherlands. These centers share information in near real-time. In case of a failure in one of the data centers, the other is able to handle the traffic of the complete network. Currently SWIFT is building a third data center in Switzerland, which is scheduled to start operating in the second half of 2009.[4] Once this is completed, data from European SWIFT members will no longer be mirrored to the US data center. Also called Distributed Architecture will partition messaging into two zones, the European messaging zone and the Trans-Atlantic messaging zone.[5] European Zone messages will be stored in the Netherlands and in a part of the Switzerland operating center, Trans-Atlantic Zone messages will be stored in the US and in a part of the Switzerland operating center that is segregated from the European Zone messages. Countries outside of Europe were by default allocated to the Trans-Atlantic Zone but could choose to have their messages stored in the European Zone.

Apparently there was a big fuss about this in 2006 and the SWIFT organization agreed to make changes to its server infrastructure so that the European transfer data would remain in Europe and not be accessible to the US government. I don’t know the current status of the subject but, according to that warning from the bank in Portugal, seems that the data is still shared and accessible. There was a vote for this information sharing to go forward in end of the July 2009 and it was supposed to be accepted, though I don’t know for sure the result.

Anyone with a financial background has more insight on this?


Got something to say?

One weekend, one jump, totally worth it

I woke up today at around 9 am and proceeded to call my buddy Ricardo to see if he had talked to our big master Mario Pardo about the DZ’s weather forecast for today. He had. Mario told him that the clouds were ok and, although there was a bit of wind, we should go there.

In half an hour I was on my motorbike on my way to my friend’s place. We took his car and drove the 1 hour trip to the DZ while imagining the stuff we would do in the air. But when we got there the wind was just too much. 21 knots average (we can only jump with max 15-17). Since there were some tandems to be done, we missed the first flight due to the wind, though the sky was beautiful; Two layers of well stroke - massive - clouds with the sun rays shining through them. Absolutely gorgeous.

During that first flight we helped the tandems to land (high winds are tricky, and require someone on the ground ready to pull the brakes chords all the way until the canopy collapses, preventing the tandem instructor and the other guy from getting dragged backwards on their asses :)). It was really interesting watching the most experienced skydivers land in those conditions and one can learn a lot from it.

Then the wind started to slow down, and we got to go on the second (and last, unfortunately) jump. We planned to go out already docked to each other, eventually let go after getting stable, and re docking. Suffice to say that people that jump together for the first time have no clue what they are doing and it was really interesting what really happened.

We left the airplane together, as planed, and did not let go. The main problem was that we spent around 10 seconds fighting to get stable. When we eventually did, we noticed that Ricardo falls faster than me which means that I was always higher than he was. When we managed to get on the same level (I had to retract both my arms and legs a lot, and he compensated by spreading them a bit) we were ready to undock. As soon as we did we went apart really fast and spent the rest of the flight trying to compensate in both vertical alignment and proximity until the audible alarm went off at 5000 feet. We turned away and tracked until deployment altitude.

The landing, even if in high wind, went pretty smooth which made me more confident in my canopy landing skills once again :D

All in all, it was totally worth it to wait the entire weekend for one single jump. I guess that’s how you know when you are addicted to a sport: when you are willing to travel 240km two days in a row just to enjoy 1 minute of it.

Blue skies


Got something to say?

Weather issues, no jumping

Turns out that Portugal is in calamity alert due to the heavy winds and rain. The only place that seemed to escape this destiny was the country side, with just a few sprinkles in the morning and an afternoon of no rain.

My only problem were the low clouds. As all skydivers know, low clouds are one of the possible reasons for not being able to get inside an airplane and go fly, and that’s exactly what happened to me today :(

The only good thing about it was that me and my friend Ricardo got to mingle and network a little bit with some of the guys at the DZ and took the chance to introduce them to jumperr and talk about some possibilities for the future.

Let’s hope that tomorrow the weather will be better and I finally get to jump together with my brother in jumps :)

Blue skies.


Got something to say?

Android location provider mock

UPDATE (2013/05/28): Since then, i’ve moved from Android to iOS development. The reason was simple: i got an iPhone from my company. As such, and unfortunately, i haven’t dedicated myself to Android as much, sorry for that. In any case, let me take the chance to shamelessly advertise my latest iOS app, Toilet Papery, a simple yet powerful groceries app ;)

So, yeah, I resumed playing around with android, this time version 2.0.

I’m really tempted to buy the new Motorola Milestone that should come out in Europe sometime between… now… and early next year, so I wanna be ready to create all the crazy stuff I have in mind for it :)

One of the things I noticed was that it’s not that straightforward to provide sample GPS data. Somehow the emulator’s GPX and KMZ functionality is not working fine for me and, even if it was, I don’t want to load the file everytime (i.e. I’m lazy).

So, after some googling around, here’s my solution to read points from a file and feed them 1 per second to the location manager, so I can finally work with them in my app:

My main activity implements LocationListener, so it can be passed to the LocationManager to receive GPS events. Here’s what I do when creating my activity:

public void onCreate(Bundle savedInstanceState) {

		super.onCreate(savedInstanceState);
		setContentView(R.layout.main);

		((TextView) this.findViewById(R.id.textView)).setText("Something else");

		// LocationManager locationManager = (LocationManager)
		// getSystemService(Context.LOCATION_SERVICE);
		// locationManager.requestLocationUpdates(LocationManager.GPS_PROVIDER,
		// 0, 0, this);

		LocationManager locationManager = (LocationManager) getSystemService(Context.LOCATION_SERVICE);

		String mocLocationProvider = LocationManager.GPS_PROVIDER;
		locationManager.addTestProvider(mocLocationProvider, false, false,
				false, false, true, true, true, 0, 5);
		locationManager.setTestProviderEnabled(mocLocationProvider, true);
		locationManager.requestLocationUpdates(mocLocationProvider, 0, 0, this);

		try {

			List data = new ArrayList();
			InputStream is = getAssets().open("data.txt");
			BufferedReader reader = new BufferedReader(new InputStreamReader(is));
			String line = null;
			while ((line = reader.readLine()) != null) {

				data.add(line);
			}
			Log.e(LOG_TAG, data.size() + " lines");

			new MockLocationProvider(locationManager, mocLocationProvider, data).start();

		} catch (IOException e) {

			e.printStackTrace();
		}
	}

This will basically setup the test location provider and read the points into a list. Then I feed that stuff to my mock location provider (just a normal thread) that will read them 1 per second and trigger the new location back to this activity. Here’s the code for MockLocationProvider:

public class MockLocationProvider extends Thread {

    private List data;

    private LocationManager locationManager;

    private String mocLocationProvider;

    private String LOG_TAG = "faren";

    public MockLocationProvider(LocationManager locationManager,
            String mocLocationProvider, List data) throws IOException {

        this.locationManager = locationManager;
        this.mocLocationProvider = mocLocationProvider;
        this.data = data;
    }

    @Override
    public void run() {

        for (String str : data) {

            try {

                Thread.sleep(1000);

            } catch (InterruptedException e) {

                e.printStackTrace();
            }

            // Set one position
            String[] parts = str.split(",");
            Double latitude = Double.valueOf(parts[0]);
            Double longitude = Double.valueOf(parts[1]);
            Double altitude = Double.valueOf(parts[2]);
            Location location = new Location(mocLocationProvider);
            location.setLatitude(latitude);
            location.setLongitude(longitude);
            location.setAltitude(altitude);

            Log.e(LOG_TAG, location.toString());

            // set the time in the location. If the time on this location
            // matches the time on the one in the previous set call, it will be
            // ignored
            location.setTime(System.currentTimeMillis());

            locationManager.setTestProviderLocation(mocLocationProvider,
                    location);
        }
    }
}

Notice the location.setTime() call. Read the comment why it is necessary. Took me forever to find this one in google :D

Peace and great Androiding ;)


Got something to say?

Holland

Holland is a vacuum that will slowly suck all the hospitality and pleasantness until all that’s left of your sunny and bright self is a raw savage.


Got something to say?

World's deadliest ping pong cannon

I want one of these. I wonder who comes up with these things. Maybe the same guy that thought it was a good idea to shoot a satellite against the moon.


Got something to say?

New programming language (GO) and new mobile OS (Bada)

Wow, these have been a couple of crazy days: First Samsung announced a new operating system for mobile devices called Bada - that will compete directly with Google’s Android - and the next day Google announces the creation of a new programming language, supposedly a cross between Python and C++, called Go.

It looks like today every company is trying to spread like a freaking octopus in every possible direction. Does this contradict the usual startup talks about focusing in a specific niche and being really good at it, or is it just that - as companies grow - the niche is no longer enough to buy ferraris for every manager? ;)


Got something to say?