Monday, June 27, 2011

The Upsell, Amazon Kindle Style

So I just finished a Kindle book, and this is what I saw as the last page:

They allow you to rate the book, which also includes the ability to send your rating as a Tweet or Facebook wall post, to which Amazon of course adds a link so others can find the book. On top of that they show you five other books that may interest you, based on the title, and a few more, based on the author. The only mistake in this page is that I own one of these books offered to me. I am sure that it won't take long before Amazon corrects this very small mistake and make this page 100% customized to each and every reader/customer.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Secret of Isla Pascua

From Truck Bearing Kibble:

I found this amazing comic by accident on reddit, without credits or any kind of attribution. Why the hell people do this? The OP wasn't trying to take credit for the cartoon, he simply posted it without any way of knowing who originally published it. Somebody else in the thread bothered to post a link to the original (this) cartoon, with the attribution intact, so at least people can discover the authors' other works.

Sadder still, was that somebody actually had to explain the joke in the headline.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

First sighting: Fiat/Chrysler 500

Finally got to see one of these out in the open. It is really short, it looks about the size of a classic Mini, a little longer than a Smart microcar. The interior follows the same styling of the BMW Mini (that is, it is fugly). Stylish in a way, but ugly. The back seat is microscopic.

That said, it used up about half as much space as a mid-size SUV. In terms of styling, in real life it looks much more like the classic 500, there are some subtle lines that are very hard to appreciate just by looking at photos. For example, from the front it is almost a dead ringer for the original.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Monday, June 20, 2011


I don't understand why the fuck I have to wait til 7:25 PM to get an UPS box when I live about 6 miles from Dulles International Airport. My driver doesn't look like he is either lazy or stupid (he's actually a really cool guy), so who do I blame? Is UPS cutting corners and overworking their drivers? Is the Dulles Corridor THAT terrible to navigate?

The box was in the fucking truck at 6:58 AM. How is it even possible for it to take so long to make it to my doorstep?

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Angels and Complexity

From Angels and Complexity:
What that nerd calls "binary search" is what was taught to me many years ago as the "bisection theorem." If you are a programmer and desperately troubleshooting LONG code that isn't yours, this is the cheapest way to narrow down the offending section.

Monday, June 13, 2011

The Beatles: It won't be long

Yup, it's #earworm time again :-(

xkcd: Magic School Bus

From xkcd: Magic School Bus:

Magic School Bus

There goes another bit of your childhood. Not mine, we had crummy old science textbooks with schematics of weird-looking batteries from the 1940s.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

RFC: Operation BTFO (or, "yes, Pedro's employer is hiring programmers again!")

The dark secret of software development in the DC metro area is that it is harder to recruit for good programmers than what it takes to write the actual code. I really feel the pain for anyone struggling with recruiting for programmers in this town.
My employer, who runs the most kickass, greatest little web shop in the DC Metro area, is now looking for one or more programmers to add to our band of misfits. This is a permanent, full-time (not contract) position. The company is based in the DC metro area with locations in Old Town Alexandria, Fairfax, Reston, Baltimore and the Maryland backwoods where the Blair Witch is rumored to still be roaming about.

This is an equal opportunity employer and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national orgin, marital status, age, disability, disabled veteran, Vietnam era or other eligible veteran status.

What we want:
  1. Programmers” that grok programming, not somebody that is proficient in one language and can’t deal with anything else.
  2. Our weapon of choice is This is not a requirement for hire, but you must learn it in a reasonable time. Our last hire walked in with solid programming experience and literally zero knowledge of .net, and he had no trouble whatsoever picking it up (it was actually a bit scary how fast he learned it!).
  3. We are all proficient in generic (ANSI) SQL, not specialized in one given flavor. We want people that understand SQL well enough to switch between products with minor adjustments. The idea here is that a programmer needs to understand relational databases, and he/she must really understand ANSI SQL as a language instead of only knowing enough SQL to survive in SQL Server or Oracle.
  4. Troubleshooting skills are critical, there is no way around this. If you can’t troubleshoot, we don’t want you.
  5. Communication skills are critical. Our programmers deal with customers directly, and can’t afford to fall back on the project manager. We ride the phones a lot, it is a reality of life for our line of business. If you are the kind that doesn’t like to talk on the phone or that can’t write coherent emails, please don’t bother.
  6. 99% of the programming that we do requires a high degree of autonomy with very little supervision. Our ideal programmers understands how to fill-in the blanks from general guidelines. If you need every deliverable broken into 20 bullet points stating every little thing, this is not the kind of job for you.
  7. We are BUSY and we frown on clock punchers. Our boss has a really simple way to deal with grumpy overworked programmers: he throws money at us until we shut up. Expect to work like hell and be rewarded handsomely for it. To offset this, we have a really kickass flex schedule which relies heavily on our ability to operate autonomously. This is not a sweatshop, just extremely busy.
  8. We are process-oriented to a fault, which is one of the reasons why we are so popular with our customers. What to an outsider looks like an infuriatingly detailed process/plan/etc. is a carefully crafted masterpiece that is the product of our combined skills and experience dealing with that situation in particular. Chaotic people that like to run around like chickens with their heads cut off don’t need to apply.
  9. We pride ourselves in our ability to overcome any technical hurdle. Our customers keep coming back to us because instead of saying that something cannot be done, we are ready and able to offer them multiple alternative approaches.
  10. Individuals that show initiative and an autonomous streak while keeping in mind the big picture. Notice how I keep saying autonomous instead of independent. The idea is not to let one programmer carry a project alone, but it is important to let the programmer know that micromanagement will not be tolerated.
What you get:
  1. Challenging work. We will give you migraines from the puzzles that you have to deal with.
  2. We are busy in the middle of a recession. While others don’t know where the next project is coming from, we are always wondering how we are going to fit one more project.
  3. We have a very tight technical team, and our management speaks geek. The good news is this means that management usually understands whatever technical approach you are trying to pitch. The bad news is that it is almost impossible to get away with a bluff on technical merits.
  4. Very competitive compensation, including quarterly bonuses paid based on billable work (the more you bill, the bigger the bonus), not on performance appraisals that are adjusted against a Bell curve behind your back.
  5. The usual health, etc. that everyone else gets.
  6. 100% telecommuting. Right now we are scattered over the mid Atlantic states. We have had employees on both coasts, basically it all depends on your specific workload. The company provides laptop, VoIP phone, company card, etc.
  7. Flexible scheduling. Again, this depends on specific workload.
How the interviewing process works:
  1. You will send me or one of my peers your resume/CV and cover letter.
  2. ???
If you are interested, please send me your resume and cover letter and we’ll take it from there. Principals only, please.

BTW, in case you couldn't figure out, BTFO means Bail The Frak Out. Or something like that.

Monday, June 6, 2011

16 and Pregnant is THAT awesome

A friend just showed me this:
From Least I Could Do:

I LOVE THIS SHOW. There is obviously something therapeutic about watching people make stupid mistakes on TV. And yes, the cartoon is 100% accurate.

Friday, June 3, 2011

First Try

This is Ivette's very first attempt at frying rice:

The only thing it is missing is chicken, but it is DELICIOUS!

The $6.85 wonder cable (especially since Sony wanted $44.95)

This is a mini-HDMI cable, which is how you connect newer Sony cameras like my DSC-HX9v to HDTVs. Sony wants $44.95 for the 9' version of this cable, and Amazon was too happy to sell it to me for $6.85. And the damn thing worked perfectly.

Sure, it is only 6.5' instead of 9', but for that price drop, who cares? The cable is extremely solid, it looks like a really expensive cable with Amazon labels glued to it.