22 December 2009

The new 7 great tricks to improve your life.

No, this isn't another "7 great tricks to improve your life" article. I have read many of them. I have read many great advice lists and found many great ideas on various sites (like Zen Habits just to name one). I have also found a lot of advice that doesn't suit me and finally, there's even more tricks that I have found and lost.

It's time for something different.

New year is coming, and with it, the resolutions. So, for that occasion, I have 7 awesome tips to make your life better:

  1. find 3 sports activities that you will practice without making any excuses
  2. find the 3 weight loss mistakes you keep on making
  3. find 10 tips that will help you become more productive
  4. same thing for organized
  5. find 5 cool family activities to do more often
  6. find 6 lunches that you will finally pack for work
  7. find 7 more positions for the list you're reading that would best apply to you.
Once you've found all that stuff (and I bet you know where to look), you'll have a great starting point for improving your life in 2010. Good luck!

27 November 2009

I made a huge mistake today

Gosh, I made such a huge mistake today...

I was multitasking, combining Christmas shopping with shopping therapy (which means bying gifts for others and myself) and I bought this Hello Kitty lunch box:

when that Hello Kitty lunch box is avaliable on the market:

Maybe at least mine is cuter...

[Picture credit, credit]

22 November 2009

I love Amazon

Seriously, I really like Amazon. I have had really good experiencec buying from them. And what did I buy? I guess you can tell by the recommendations I have just received:

Introduction to Modern Cryptogr...
(Hardcover) by Jonathan Katz

Classic Shell Scripting
(Paperback) by Nelson H. F. Beebe

Ideals, Varieties, and Algorithm...
(Hardcover) by David A. Cox

Okay, so modern cryptography: cool, me likes. Classing shell scripting: not so much. I belive shell scripts should be received from kind people who wrote them, not written by myself. Ideals and varieties sound pretty interesting too, but something tells me that I wouldn't get through such a book without taking a class in the subject and I'm done with my math classes.

So, who wants to guess what I've been watching on Amazon?

21 November 2009

The Sims 3: World Adventures

After months of waiting, I finally got my hands on the first Sims 3 expansion pack: World Adventures.

Happy and excited as a kid who just got a new game, I immediatly installed it. It didn't load.


20 November 2009

Blogging my thesis: Bernstein was super-easy

Did I say I had trouble understanding Berstein's work? I take that back. I'm reading Boneh now.

I'm reading one paper by Boneh. I have started reading it over half a year ago. I still don't really get it.

The paper is called "Finding Smooth Integers in Short Intervals Using CRT Decoding". In it, the author does the following:

  • presents a new algorithm for CRT decoding
  • uses it to find smooth integers in short intervals
  • discusses how to apply it to the quadratic sieve method
  • generalizes the CRT decoding problem
  • reduces the gap between CRT and Reed-Solomin decoding.
My brain is burning.

14 November 2009

Why I love Sage in 6 simple lines

This is why I love Sage:

e = sqrt(log(4*B) / log(P)) + (5 / (4*d))

g = [P^(a - i) * (x*B - R)^i for i in range(a)]
h = [(x*B - R)^a * (x*B)^i for i in range(d - a)]

m = matrix(Integers(), d, [list(k) + [0] * (d - len(list(k))) for k in g+h]).LLL()

w = sum([x^i * m[0][i] for i in range(d)])

return filter(lambda x: x[0].is_integral() and gcd(P, x[0] - R) < P**e , w.roots())

(That's a crucial part of my thesis.)

Blogging my thesis: Friday the 13th

Friday the 13th was a good day for my thesis - mama had some time for its baby.

I did some hard work that didn't translate into a single additional line, but boy, did I get results. I debugged my sieving for smooth numbers method. I now have two methods that do the same in different ways and give me the same results. Almost. They don't when an unexpected divisor of n is found, but factoring n is the whole point, and that glitch will be corrected very soon.

Now, I have to finish implementing the third method and make some kind of interface that would use all three and make comparaisons.

Friday the 13th was also a good day overall: I did the assignement at the lab and dont' have to go there next week (hooray, more thesis time!) and I went to the gym. I also started my Christmas shopping, where I have pretty mixed feelings. While I can't stand the Christmas ads in November, being in the city at noon was a good occasion to visit a few shops.

So, all in all, dear diary, Friday the 13th was a nice day. Today, I'm coding some more for the thesis.

12 November 2009

Geek gets fit (kinda sorta almost)

One of the downsides of my otherwise amazing career is the lack of physical activity. And while I am aware that I should be fit and I love yoga, I am not fit. Yet. However, somes serious steps have recently been taken towards this noble goal.

First, Hubby and I got Multisport cards from my work (and I would like to thank my boss and everyone...)

The cards are way shinier IRL and they let us access many gyms ans swimming pools for [almost] free. We've been using them intensively and visiting a gym twice a week (and the swimming pool later to relax) for a month now.

Second, Husband got a balance for his nameday. A kinda smart balance, that measures your fat and water percentage. The smart balance taught me that I'm made in 50% of water and 30% of fat- sigh.

Finally, Hubby bought me my nameday present: the Wii Fit!

The Wii Fit always tempted me, but I judged it by its cover, and the cover mainly features yoga poses (they look best on pictures), so I instantly thought of the mountain of money I could save by doing these exact same poses on my bedroom floor. But, since I got the console as a wedding gift (I love you Auntie!), its cost dropped significantly and the temptation won.

I like it. It is important to note, however, that it's a weird cross between a game and a workout. It's not a decent game. It's not a decent workout either. But, on a Thursday night, after 8 hours at the office, and knowing that we'll hit the gym the next day and a real workout is not a great idea, the Wii Fit is a pretty cool pasttime.

I may write a better (longer) review, but in the meantime, Gizmodo has an extensive and geek one - enjoy!

08 November 2009

On my wishlist: the Tetris dress

I want that dress. Period.

Or that fabric.

Then I'd make a jumper out of it and I'd wear it over my loads of brightly-colored T-shirts.

I guess this is the part where I should come up with some eloquent words of praise for both the design of the fabric and the realisation of the dress, but you must forgive me, for I have partied until 3 a.m. last night. (See pics on Facebook.) I just love them.

06 November 2009

Geek got to teach!

If I haven't been an active blogger lately, that's because something came up. Something that kept me stressed and busy: I lectured the security class on Tuesday.

I lectured! Security! At the University of Warsaw! If you can't believe it, don't worry neither do I.

I talked about what I knew best: mathematical methods of breaking the RSA cipher. I also gave an introduction to elliptic curve cryptography and covered primality tests. Here are the slides (Polish only). Out of 150 people enrolled, some 30-40 were present and the lecture went pretty well: there were questions, I was able to answer... And first of all, what an honor!

15 October 2009

Blog action day: geek loathes global warming

Today is the third annual Blog Action Day and the theme is climate change. Let's discuss this "global warming" thing then.

First, I'd like to say that we're in middle October and it snowed yesterday, which doesn't usually happen until December in my country. I am not happy about it. I got cold while going out to pick up the groceries. Don't take it as balckmail, but if someone tell me how the Global Warming is inevitabely coming upon us, I will throw him a middle-October snowball in the face.

Second, let's raise the awareness about the sea levels raising. If you believe London will soon be the new Venice, I challenge you to do the followoing:

  • half-fill a glass of water
  • put an ice cube in it
  • mark the water level
  • let it melt (microwave it if you're in a hurry)
  • check the water level.
How much did it raise?

Phew, I got it off my chest. Back to constructive blogging about cool stuff.

09 October 2009

Blogging my thesis: 9th of October

This morning, as I decided to just check the weather, get dressed and leave to school, I had a pleasant surprise in my inbox: my classes were cancelled. Not that I am pleased that the professor is sick, only with the unexpected free time.

Free time... what is that? What is that for? What do you do with it?

When in doubt and sleepy - sleep. I started with that. Then I decided to do some Saturday stuff: I went groceries shopping, cleaned up the house a bit, hovered.

Then, I went running. They say that physical activity helps to fight depression and I could use some help, so I went wandering in my new lovely neighbourhood and came back all sweaty.

The fitness felt good, but it didn't really help me with my procrastination problem. I procrastinated like I unfortunately often do, only this time, I didn't really feel bad about it. I'll take that as an improvement.

So, not much to brag about today. Tomorrow won't probably bring more: I'm going to a friend's wedding (two friends', actually) and then to the theater, where another friend of ours is playing in "The Revenge". Maybe Sunday.

04 October 2009

I got to level two at Project Euler

I just got to level one at Project Euler - four months after reaching level one. Here's the well-deserved cube:

I'm still writing practically only in Python. The problems are getting more difficult and so is getting to the next level - I need to solve 50 more problems to get an octahedron. That's a nice 2010 resolution.

Anyone else doing Project Euler?

03 October 2009

Blogging my thesis: 2nd of October

On Saturdays, I usually get to stay home all day, except for a belly dance class and maybe a walk with my husband. What a great time to check mail, apply for Google Wave invites, chech mail, check Facebook, expand my musical horizons, check mail, check Facebook work on my thesis.

What have I done today? My answer is a typical one for a student asked by his advisor what he's done so far:

Er, I have found, I have read, I have understood...

I think I've finally understood the previously mentionned Bernstein method. Understanding is the toughest part (unless you were a sissie wise person and chose an easy subject) - then comes description and implementation. Actually, doing these while trying to understand works really good, I always do that. I now have half a dozen of lines of LaTeX erroneously deleted and product trees implemented in 8 impressive lines of code (n = len(primes), if n == 1: return primes and stuff like that). But all of these were proudly accomplished yesterday, and today, I just read and understood.

Well, the night is still young.

02 October 2009

Blogging my thesis: what's Bernstein thinking?

In his paper called "How to find smooth parts of integers" Bernstein tries to find the 20-smooth part of the number x. He first finds the product of all the primes up to 20, which is 9699690.

Then he writes 9699690 mod x = r and claims that r can be represented as ab, where a = gcd(9699690, x) and gcd(b, x) = 1.

Why? Why would that be true? It's left without proof as if it was obvious, but it's not. What's Bernstein thinking? Why isn't the answer avaliable as a cute Disney DVD?

That's what I'm workin on in my thesis right now.

[Update] Argh, I messed it up. Bernstein doesn't, Pomerance does in his book where he discusses the method and apparently, he does it wrong.

Let's find the 5-smooth part of 22. We have 2*3*5= 30, 30 mod 22 = 8, gcd (30, 22) = 2, thus a = 2, b = 4 and gcd(22, 4) = 2, not 1. Gotcha!

That's what happens when you leave something as obvious instead of proving it properly.

01 October 2009

Moving day at the office, or how the geek works

Lifehacker recently posted Nine Workspaces Where Famous Folks Get Stuff Done: Al Gore's, Bill Gate's, Steve Ballmer's, Steve Jobs'... Nine - isn't one missing? Of course one is! Mine.

My office actually moved last week, so I used this opportunity to take pictures without being considered crazy (just sentimental). So here it goes.




(If you're wondering about the pink ribbon on my chair, it was a way of labelling it to make sure the movers didn't give it to one of the guys.)

20 September 2009

A little talk with Steve Ballmer

Apparently, Blogger doesn't approve of 900px high picture, so click to enlarge, or check his Facebook page for the nice conversation.

19 September 2009

That baby is a genious!

I'm speechless. Even I have trouble reading Perl.

[Picture source]

Geek gets book

Six years after graduating from high school, I finally decided to read a book. A real book, with a story in it - a novel.

Well, it's not like I haven't read anything since 2003. There was Terry Pratchett's "The Unadulterated Cat":

Or a Dilbert I aquired by marriage:

And of course, I had my nose in many math handbooks or technical books, but none of these were a beginning-to-end read. There were, however, some, including religious stuff or psychological - manipulations are pretty interesting, aren't they?

Once upon a time, I found out a movie called "My Sister's Kepper" was being made. I read a bit about it and found the plot interesting. Right now, the movie is in theaters in Poland and I am planning on going to see it. When it was announced, I reminded myself my best friend's advice: "it's better to read the book first, and then see the movie", and I figured I might as well start now. So, I went on-line and quickly found a cheap used copy of Jodi Picoult's "My sister's keeper".

I love it. The book itself is great, but I am also suprised how fun reading a novel can actually be (thank you school for making me forget that), how rich the narration can be, how many times it is better that surfing the web. I'm past the half already and think I should save it for the days I commute to work - it's not like I have nothing to do at home - but reading has suddently become a bigger temptation than other ways of entertainment.

Well, I guess it's time on getiing some book recomendations... Or first, a recommendation for a book recommendation website. Anyone?

[Update] Well, actually, I just remembered that I had Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejuidice", which pretty much obsoletes half of this post.

18 September 2009

Blogging my thesis

I'm currently in the process of writing my master thesis. Here gos the subject:

Displacement of smooth integers in short intervals and their applications in cryptography

Ain't it the coolest thesis ever?

To be honest, I don't quite see it that way. Anything I want to do inevitably turns into something I have to do. So this post is party a pep talk to myself. I don't think it matters, however: most Fiona Apple's songs are pep talks to herself and boy, do I love them.

Okay, back to the thesis. I will be breaking the RSA cryptosystem. Calm down, your private communication is not in danger. I will not obtain significant results, only a small speed improvement over doing it "the dumb way".

How do you break RSA anyway? The whole idea, is that multiplying two big primes is easy, but having only that result, finding out what the primes were is hard. "The dumb way" is trying all the possible primes. There are some smarter ways, but they only work in specific cases, and the keys used in the real world are wisely chosen, so the tricks don't apply. There's an excellent publication about this called "Twenty years of attacks on the RSA cryptosystem". A great read, and you can skip the formulas if you're not that into maths.

So, I will be factoring big numbers into two big prime factors. To do that, I will be using smooth numbers, which are kinda the opposite of primes: they have plenty of small factors. That part is really easy, and is well explained by Pomerance in his paper "Smooth Numbers and the Quadratic Sieve". The first two pages have it all in elementary language, the later ones are hard even for me.

To find these smooth numbers, I will be comparing three different methods: sieving, the Bernstein method and finding them using error correcting codes based on the Chinese Remainder Theorem.

More on how it goes will (most probably) come.

17 September 2009

Finals finally over.

My finals are finally over. They were tough, as I failed everything I could in June, but well, I wanted a wedding in the middle of the semester, so I got my semester during the holidays. I'm still happy with my choice.

Now to the exciting stuff. First, I had AI and passed after a few hours of revisions. I was totally prepared in June, but made the lecturer pretty angry by not writing the test at the end of the semester (honeymoon) and not taking it some other time as the result of a few misunderstandings, so, no June exam in AI for me. And the lecturer didn't seem really happy to see me in September either. But, I solved all the problems correctly, so I got a C (yeah, that's my school - they love deduction in both senses of that word).

Then came a few "free" days I used to write my networks program. The teacher was really cool for letting me write in C# istead of C, C++ or Java (none of them being my cup of tea), so I had cool tools like Visual Studio (Why can't Eclipse have a "go to definition" feature? Why? Me wants!) , Linq (goodbye, parsing XML, hello, tricky code instead of for loops) and asynchronous sockets, thanks to which I didn't have to create a single thread expilcitely, and yet my application was super-thready.

That was nice, but still, implementing a protocole and a client took me more than these four free days. It took me the entire day I had for learning compilers and one and a half of the two planned for partial differential equations. There went compilers. Fortunately, they were an extra classs I took.

Equations survived. The battle was hard: revising a whole semester in one afternoon and learning the stuff I didn't get in June. At that point, your goal is pretty much not to know less that you did last time, but I think I did know more, and I passed.

The evening after equations was equally busy: the networks exam was the next day. Dear Hubby explained some stuff to me, I was well prepared. Plans for Friday were clear: get to school by 11:30, print network notes, show the program at 12, study with strangers until 14, take exam, leave.

I arrived at 11:30. My printing limit was reached. Then I realized that I needed my advior's signature bad. Really bad. Panic. The advisor is at school only on Thursdays, so what was the probability of him being here on a Friday, out of the blue? Panic. Run. Buy extra printing credit. Run to the lab guy. He not here. Other student waits too, not knowing more than I do. Okay, let's see if by any miracle the advisor hasn't shown up. He has! Two colleagues are waiting by his door and tell me it's for about an hour of waiting. We exchange valuable advice on handling the masters stuff. Lab guy still not here. Go to the admins for the printing credit, thanking heavens for the advisors presence. Get the credit. Print the notes. Oh, here's the other student waiting for the lab guy, e-mailing him. I go upstairs, because the lab guy should be there. He is! Boot pretty pink netbook. Show program. Program is liked! Advisor again. One guy, new to me, is waiting. I sit and wait with him and praise my advisor for the thesis subject he chose me. The guy enters, I start walking in circles in heels. I finaly get there. I learn that my thesis doesn't need to be extended, just finished - great news! Run. Grab coffee. You think you'll learn anything in the last 20 minutes? Not really. Breathe. Relax. Take exam. Unexpected questions. Think hard. Finally!

I'm sleepy. My head aches. I go home and take a nap. Two hours later, my husband comes home and wakes me up. My head still aches. I take meds, planning on going for a walk. I learn that I'm hot, fever sense. Meds don't work. Let's sleep some more. Sixteen hours more. Then Husband makes me wake up, and finally, finally, finally, I get back to something I like to call "normal life".

05 September 2009

Dear diary

This week was really tough, but the best is yet to come (next week).

My AI exam on Tuesday went pretty well. I was well prepared in June and after a bit of revisons, I was able to solve all the problems. Results will be available on Monday.

Coming up: compilers on Monday, partial differentail equations on Thursday, networks on Friday, but no time to study: I'm typing the networks projects as hard as... well, it's not going very well. I can't concentrate - too many websites outhere are calling me from the recently closed tabs. The weather is wierd, my head is aaching and I'm very sleepy in spite of having slept in. It's the weekend and I'm tired. But as I sit here, listing my excuses, the clock keeps on ticking, the deadlines are approaching.

I left work for almost two weeks to focus on school. Work is by far much easier and more rewarding - I get paid and appreciated. At school, it's an honor for you if they let you study there. I can't wait for school to be over.

Yet another bro entered college, majoring of course in computer science. Yet another bro to fight for textbooks with. (We've already started and classes haven't even begun!)

All good things must come to an end - Hubby and I have finished watching (or re-watching, in his case) the first season of House M.D.

Gotta keep on coding.

22 August 2009

There IS growth in simplifying your life.

I recently shared on my feed an article about an article about the myths of simplyfing your life. If I agreed, I wouldn't have much to write, but fortunately, I do not.

First, simplifying and going zen are two different things. Here goes the article:

The objective (if it can be said to have an objective) of zen is not happiness, but to be free from desires. When one is free from desires, he is content with the situation or the here-and-now. When you accept everything as it is, there is no need to have or pursue anything (including possessions, responsibilities, or desires) and one can simplify. There is no change and thus there is no personal growth.

So maybe there is not much growth in zen. But you don't have to be zen in its strict sense to simplyfy your life. Simplifying is to me about getting rid of distractions, of unnecessary things, not all things possible.

The problem with zen is that it's trying to eliminate all the emotions, desires, etc, good and bad. It's not living life to the fullest, but rather the opposite. It's about not accepting the price of unpleasure for getting pleasure. It's sacrificing the good stuff not to have to deal with the bad. I'm not trying to make it sound bad, it's all a mattern of an ethically neutral personal choice, it's just that for me, the more intense way of life is more appealling.

On the other hand, I love simplifying. I love growth, and these two go really well together. Here's why.

1. Simplifying is a goal. Reaching your goal is growth.

It works for any goal. I remember once seeing classmates reading a magazine about fishing and my first thought: what could be more boring than fishing? But to these guys, it was something big. Goals are very subjective: even the smallest goal can be great for someone (remember learing to walk? not so much impressing anymore, is it?) and even the biggest goal can be discredited: what's the point of you speaking 12 languages if I can never talk to you when I need to? My point is proved already.

Okay, but growth for the sake of growth... there must be something more. Well, there is.

2. Letting unimportant stuff go is growth.

Simplifying to me was, among others, shopping less. I had periond of time in my teens when I would enter almist any shop I passed by, always looking for new clothes and make-up - mostly tops and lipstick. Now I'm trying to make a better use of the things I already have and the time as well. Letting it go was more of a natural process than an achievement, but here is growth.

3. Letting small things go leaves more room for the big ones.

The day you realize something is not worth caring that much (my lipsticks don't really define me as a person, do they?), you also realize what is more important. On one hand, the inequality between people and make-up products is obvious, but when you get upset because these great shoes one sale were sold out in your size and you discard the birthday wishes from your friends, you could use a little reminding. We all do at times, and when we get it, that's what I call growth. (I won't even mention where the saved time and energy can go.)

4. Simplyfing makes you happier.

Okay, happiness isn't really growth, but it helps. Here are the most appeling examples to me: having less stuff so there is less to clean and organize, bulk cooking so you spend less time in the kitchen (cooking feels to me like something I have to do and it gets me frustrated easily), unsubsrcibing the old newsletters so you don't have to delete those e-mails anymore and can find the time to write one to an old friend, finally configuring that program right to free yourself from the repetitive task, working out at home or outside so you don't have to budget, pack and plan for the gym and other similar little things.

Just remember: everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.

15 August 2009

Top 5 dumbest Wii games ever imagined (by me)

Man, do I love the Nintendo Wii for its innovative interface! So I wondered one day not how to use it best, but how to use it worst. Dumbest. Ever. Below are the potential games I came up with, or more precisely, what the main character would be:

The baker

Put the bread in the oven.

Feel the thrill!

Post office employee

Do the stamps.

Too much rock for one hand baby!

The slave

Just paddle to avoid punishement.

Let this game enslave you!

(Actually, Nintendo stole that idea from me.


Get in and clean - let the fun begin! Uses the Ajax technology.

Level 1 - floor. Level 2 - windows. Level 3 - toilet.

Barrel organ player

A creative and inventive game based on a truly original concept.

This game doesn't need any stupid marketing slogan, and yet it does have one!

More dumb Wii games here!

[Picture source, source, source, source, source, quote source]

14 August 2009

Historical tweets

Have you ever tried to imagine what Twitter would be like, if it was avaliable hundreds of years ago? Here's a wild guess by Eric Alt (source or click to zoom):

This one leads me to mixed feelings, between "LOLZ" and "omg, the youth nowadays". Fortunately, there's something way better: John Quincy Adams' diaries.

John Quincy Adams, the sixth President of the United States, always maintained diaries, but one was particular: the entries were 110-120 characters long, fitting the Twitter bound (140) without using acronyms like "omg" or "bff". This diary was started Aug. 5, 1809, which is precisely 200 years ago.

Now, with an exact 200 years shift, the Massachusetts Historical Society is posting those notes on Twitter! The lecture is just like reading a feed from 200 years ago.

Here's a better article about it from NY Times, with more links and info.


10 August 2009

What [not] to watch: 'Llectuals.

'Llectuals is, according to its creators, the summer reading you can watch, and the show that proves that growing up is about more than just the secretion of endocrine hormones by the pituitary gland. If that isn't recommendation enough, check out the trailer:

Too bad it's just a mock up, created by the comedy troupe POYKPAC.

The idea is great, though. Here's the full script, if you wish to enlighten your mind by broadening your vocabulary and achieve an improvement of your uderstanding of the phrases pronounced by those young people.

02 August 2009

The closest thing to a Full House reunion

Anyone remembers Full House?

More importantly, anyone cares? I kinda do! Though I'm not really star-struck on the actors, way more on the characters. (DJ is such a sweet girl and she's the eldest, like me!) But to some people, that's no difference. (A friend of mine shares his name with a fictional character from a TV show and a fan found him on Skype recently.)

Well, anyway, the cast is kinda trying to reunite (and one of the guys is supposedly trying to make a movie out of it), and they are almost succeeding on twitter. Te following are tweeting together:

According to Dave Coulier, Jodie Sweetin (Stephanie) is thinking about tweeting and Lori Loughlin (Becky) will join. He's kinda clueless about the Olsen Twins (Michelle), though, as he's pointing to a fake Mary-Kate account, when Mary-Kate uses (or technically, does not) this one and Ashley is on this one.

All of which leads to a long and interesting discussion on Twitter and authentication. But that's a different topic. Way more fitting to this blog than stalking celebs on-line, I know, but still a different subject.

[Picture source]

[Update] Jodie has joined on the 5th of August and already has over 2000 followers.

28 July 2009

Eye candy: a few geometrical sculptures

Today guys, for your viewing pleasure, the works of a few geometrical sculptors:

James Roper, "Into the Fold":

Carlo H. Séquin, "Tetroid with 24 Heptagons, 6 colors":

Bathsheba Grossman, "The Noom":

George W. Hart, "John Deere":

Charles Perry, "Eclipse":

Of course, there are many more on the artists' respective websites. Enjoy!

24 July 2009

House - Season 1-4 DVDs on 50% sale!

I would write a "what [not] to watch" about House M.D., but what for, since you already know the answer (watch!!!) and have watched it all.

But, if by any chance, you haven't (I have only seen a few episodes so far, lucky me!), you might be interested in the fact that's the DVD for seasons 1-4 are on a 50% sale (£38.98 instead of £79.99) on Amazon.co.uk (or in the related fact, that I'm ordering them and will lend them to you, provided I know you IRL).

23 July 2009

Google Wave: will curiosity kill the geek?

I signed up for Google Wave! Now I have to hope I'm one of the 100,000 chosen ones and wait for October and then I might try it out.

What is Google Wave anyway? No one exactly knows, but Gina Trapani said in less that 140 characters:

Simplest terms: Google Wave is Gmail on crack. Imagine Gmail, Google Talk, and Google Docs in one big inbox.

Sounds cool. I'd love to try that! Especially if I get to give improvement suggestions when it comes to usability.

More info on Google Wave here and here.

11 July 2009

Random thoughts about the Sims 3

I go the Sims 3 as soon as they were out (remember how I couldn't wait in January? I also got the computer but not the flowery desk) and have already wasted many hours playing.

The game has really nice views of the world around us, I mean around the Sims (click to zoom):

The gameplay got improved and is a bit more realistic than in the Sims 2. The genetics are waaaaay better - Sims now make beautiful babies that you definitely want to play with.

Some bugs and glitches remain, however. The one I can't forgive is EA extra content not installing:

The "46" is one of my processors being clogged by the installer. The "0%" can stay up to 30 minutes (haven't tried longer, shouldn't 30 minutes be enough?). I've notified customer support.

The other glitches are funny:

Isn't this table standing in your way?

your foot from inside mine, bitch!

This one happened when a boyfriend came with his baby (he was adopting babies behind my Sim's back!), stayed for the night and then had to go to work - a delicate situation to handle.

That baby grew into a beautiful lady (blue-sleeved T-shirt), but look at her sister: her butt is in the water and it's the dirty dishes she's complaining about.

The burglar alarm, the burglar fighting with the police officer and the annoyed neighbors - in TS2, they didn't care.

09 July 2009

Feed hungy Americans by downloading IE8

Microsoft is making totally crazy really intensive advertising campaign for his new baby IE8. Everything is to be found in the new ads.

First, my favourite, meritorical discussion:

Mmm, yeah, how very meritorical, I couln't agree more with these points.

Second, a marketing sure-thing, controversy:

This ad, a video of a woman so shocked by her husband's browsing history that she vomits, has been removed - and thus talked about a lot. "Browsing better", according to Microsoft, is visiting filthy websites, just as long as you don't leave them in your history. Needless to say, my definition of "browsing better" is slightly different.

But, but, but, however, after all the brainstorms that lead to this variety of ads, they finally got me. What made me download the thingy? The promise of provinding 8 meals for Americans in need fo every download. I clicked "downlad" and saw 4 versions to choose from:

You might think that since I'm using Windows 7, I've already got IE8 and none of this versions is for me. But this doesn't matter when it comes to fighting hunger - I downloaded all four versions, proving a month of food on Microsoft for someone. Then I deleted them.

You too can visit browserforthebetter.com and help fight hunger in America!

03 July 2009

Silverlight vs. CSS

I'm back to Silverlight blogging! I've been super busy these last months with school, getting married and swithing to Python at work and I haven't had time to look deeper into Silverlight 3 nor get my hands dirty digging in some code. But, summer is here, and here I come! Let's start with some philo: Silverlight vs. CSS.

But why not Silverlight vs. Flash?

First, because it's done greatly at Shine Draw (congratulations on becoming a Silverlight MVP!) . By the way, Smashing Magazine, which is the best webdesign resource ever (and anyone working on a user interface should read that kind of stuff ) has recently had a really in-depth technical article about that subject too (which kinda concludes that Flash is better as it supports more stuff, but I'd just say older, anyway, I'm just saying I'm not writing about Flash).

Second: Flash and Silverlight are two different tools. You usually know one or the other. You usually have to choose one or the other as your area of expertise and once your choice is made, you won't go back, no matter how I praise one and critiscize the other. Silverlight and CSS, however, are tools lying side by side in the same toolbox. Okay, lots of generalizing here, some people are pure C# programmers and don't need to worry about webdesign. I am the girl who uses SL more for websites than for applications and that's what happens: I need to embed SL elements in a webpage done in HTML (thus my interest for HTML Overlay) so a question arises:

Which elements do I do in Silverlight, and which in DHTML?

Here's an excellent example: the Fish Eye menu.

n.design studio did it in CSS/JS:

PageBrooks did it in Silverlight:

Shine Draw did it his style: both Silverlight and Flash, for comparaison:

Now say you need a Fish Eye menu on your site - which do you use?

First thing: ask yourself about your target. Some of my best friends use Linux and well, not everyone has Silverlight. But some people block all of their Flash and some turn JavaScript off - you can't please everyone. I think I'd go with JS here, but the topic is broad.

Second: is it ready? Is it free? For commercial purposes too? Because if it isn't and you have to do it yourself, I'd say one hour for Silverlight, a few days for debugging JavaScript in all possible browsers - absolutely incomparable times.

Still don't know? Don't worry, neither do I, the topic is way too broad. A lot depends on your goal: is it learning a technology? Pleasing a customer? Building an impressive portfolio? If the latter, one important word of advice: don't overdo it. I've seen a site with two moving Silverlight controls that were getting really annoying after a bit of time. Modern at first sight, but cheap at the second: "Mm, yeah, a rotating banner, how hard is that in Silverlight?" It's easy and it's great that it is, but let's use our tools wisely.