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Showing posts from 2011

Creating Partnerships

How do you create them?
That is my goal for the new year.

I had the wonderful experience of re-doing my wardrobe with a friend. I got to learn that I bought clothes that were too big and I thought just right was too tight. We went shopping one day and it was fantastic, there was a synergy of purpose and while neither of us liked shopping, we had a good time. Suddenly I got while women liked shopping. It wasn't shopping. It was the experience with friends that combination of energy, unity of purpose and team work.

I want more of that in the new year.

This last year ends with the realization that one family partnership was bunk. And suddenly I had a profound feeling of loneliness. I didn't like that.

But how do you create them? What's the magic involved that occurs easily in some cases but like a flaky fairy fails to appear in others?

We need a Biological Sciences Nobel Prize.

I've always found it weird that there was no Nobel Prize for Biology. There is one for medicine, but that's not the same. Especially when you consider that the Lobotomy procedure won its creator a Nobel Prize in Medicine.

The impact of not having a Nobel prize in biology is rather far reaching. Not only is the prestige such a prize brings to a institution like a University not there but lacking a Nobel prize decreases funding to areas like basic biological research and ecology that are vitally important but not directly tied to any industry. Chemistry has an industry, Physics has engineering, but non-medicine biological sciences doesn't have an industry. All this global-warming studies aren't funded by the solar-energy lobby, they're funded by Universities and grants. So a Nobel prize would really help there.

Having a Biological Noble prize would help the environment which in reality helps us all. Take for example the Colony collapse of Bee hives. Research in Europ…

The rise of the 64-bit browsers

Incredible! But the first 64-bit browser out of the gate was Internet Explorer, typically known for leading from behind, IE 9 is a really nice 64-bit browser.

I mean 64-bit browsers are nothing new, Firefox, Chromium have had 64-builds for a while, but for Linux. Windows remained 32-bit bound. However now with the Flash plug-in being 64-bit, there is no excuse. Firefox even has a 64-bit build on it's nightly page. And now Opera Labs has a 64-bit build.

The rise of the 64-bit browser is a welcome happening as it brings with it speed and stability. My Firefox Nightly build just eats up the regular 32-bit bound Firefox. Additionally 64-bit browsers will be able to access a lot more RAM memory than their 32-bit (4GB RAM maximum) predecessor which should increase performance.

Entrepreneurship is a state of mind

I'm starting a Non-Profit in Puerto Rico in 2012 that will revolutionize entrepreneurship on the island through the use of mentors in the broad Puerto Rican diaspora and the Hispanic community.

I don't know how to do this, and I'm doing it anyway.

There is a Buddhist story about a man that is poor and living on a hut. Underneath the hut is a large cache of gold but the man starves for lack of money; not knowing the wealth he possessed. This is so true, for there is no worse poverty than thepoverty of the mind, not seeing the options that could be taken is far worse than having no options. And this is what I want to see impacted directly by my Non-profit.

Entrepreneurship is a state of mind. It's how one approaches life, failure and risk. It's not about making money, the same way the human body is not about eating, shitting and sleeping. Money, profits are necessary like food is to the body, but the Olympic marathon runner doesn't run to eatmore, he eats to run. …

Installing (painlessly) Ruby 1.9.3 into Mac OS X

Update: Nov. 2012. I no longer recommend rbenv, I now recommend RVM (ruby version manager) since both require Xcode to function. And the latest JRuby (1.7.0) now defaults to 1.9.3 and doesn't require the --1.9 switched to be passed or a JRUBY_OPTS variable set.
(I also updated the post to reflect the proper capitalization of JRuby vs. Jruby, which is incorrect.)

Installing the latest version of Ruby on Mac OS X is a bit more complicated than it should be. There are no .dmg installers and the built in version 1.8.7 is quite old now.  There are various ways of installing ruby on a Mac and here is a list from the least painful to the most annoying.

Using JRuby or MacRuby are the least painful way to install Ruby 1.9 to OS X. They come with their own .dmg installer, it's easy and fast. Unfortunately JRuby (although it includes 1.9) defaults to 1.8 so you have to go into your .bash_profile file and add a line there. See previous blog here. Note that because ruby is already ins…

Finally Got RESTful

REST is a web-site architecture paradigm. One that's used in Rails and that for the longest time seemed to involve some mumbo-jumbo. But it's way simpler than I originally thought, but also easy to confuse.

So what is REST? REST stands for Representational State Transfer.

But basically what this means is that instead of there being a digital asset in a location all there is a representation of that digital asset. Or in other words instead of finding a file in a particular location, all there is is a file-path-location that is interpreted as a command for a digital asset that lies elsewhere. This has two consequences: the file you are seeking does't have to exist, the Rails server can create it ad hoc, and you don't have to go to one page to view an asset and another page to modify it. The server can interpret different commands along with the path as a way of manipulating that asset.

How REST works is kinda besides the point. I already got that, but not why it did what…

Installing CoffeeScript on Windows

Here is how to install CoffeeScript sans Cywin on Windows 7.

First, install Noje.js. Go to and download the windows installer. Once you'll install it you'll need to add the Node.js directory to the path.

Second, to add Node.js to the path open the Control Panel and select System, then "Advanced System settings" then the tab "Advanced" and the button "Environmental Variables..." Scroll down until you find the variable PATH and add to the end ";C:\Program Files (x86)\nodejs" you don't need to put a semicolon at the end.

Thirdly install CoffeeScript from the command line (search for "cmd" on the Start menu)with this:
npm install -g coffee-script
(make sure you run the command with privileges by right clicking and selecting "Run as Administrator")

Fourth verify the version with this:
coffee -v

you should get something like this:
CoffeeScript version 1.1.3

Congratulations to Felix Arroyo!

Felix Arroyo won his re-election campaign for Boston City Council. I'm so proud of the work he does. Win or loose, Felix is a politician in it for the right reasons. A fantastic individual, I'm so happy for him.

Oh, and Felix is my brother in law, so the politician in my family (my father is a politician) turned out to be my sister. Something I'm also glad for. :)

The Second Draft is upon me

I'm writing a book and the second draft is due (to do it). I figured this month being national write a novel month it would be great. Yet all day I have not written a thing. But the second draft is upon me and it will get started. I will go print the first draft tomorrow and go from there. I'm excited! And terrified...
I will dedicate two weeks to the second draft writing like it was my job.

Getting Growl-like notifications on Ubuntu 11.10 in Rails 3.1

I'm doing Michael Hartl's Rails Tutorial book this weekend and I wanted to get the notifications right. Took me a while to get it to work. Since this is a fresh install of Ubuntu 11.10 Oneiric Ocelot I'm running into a few issues. I'm running ruby 1.9.2 using rvm since Ubuntu only included 1.9.1. I'm also using the Gnome 3 Shell as I prefer it to Unity.

1) The first issue was that the execjs gem that is installed by default by Rails 3.1 requires the Spider Monkey Javascript engine to be installed in Ubuntu. (sudo apt-get install libmozjs185 libmozjs185-dev or use Synaptic and search for "spidermonkey" which is what I did). Or you can comment it out of your Gemfile as it doesn't seem to affect anything in the tutorial.

2) The second issue was that I wanted the nice Growl-like notifications for autotest. The instructions on the automate everything website got me there but don't install the gem 'redgreen' it's buggy. Here is the process I…

Awesome Command-line Tools

I've just re-installed my Ubuntu Linux partition and I'm loving the Gnome 3 Shell (way better than Unity) but that will be a later post. This post is about command line utilities that I install right away on my Ubuntu box. You'll notice something right away about them.

1. htop -- System Monitor

Htop is the more easy on the eyes version of top. A incredible valuable utility is like a system monitor for the command line. Perfect for figuring out what process crashed your X-session, and killing that process.

2. mc (aka midnight commander) -- File Manager

Midnight commander is a file manager that is aware of the mouse, so you can navigate the file structure. It's the easiest way to manage files from the command line or see how a folder structure is laid out.

3. jed -- Text Editor

In the Unix world there are two kinds of people: vi people and emacs people. These are the two main text editors for the terminal from the days of old. Vi now vim (vi - improved) is light and fast…

Setting up the Marble Mouse for Ubuntu

I have a Logitech trackball which I love. I bought it when my wrists started hurting after hours of long Photoshop sessions. The switch to the trackball fixed all that. It allows me to hold my hand in the perfect position and it's great for most browsing with one exception:

It lacks a middle-click wheel.

This presents a bigger problem than it seems, as design seems to be removing the scroll bars at the edges of windows in favor of small slits. So to get around this you can emulate a scroll wheel or use the middle click to activate a scroll motion on various programs. Logitech has a utility that sets this up in Windows but in Ubuntu you have a better (if more hard-work required) option. The Ubuntu option is better because unlike in Windows you can emulate the wheel with the track-ball by holding down a button. This is the option I like to use.

In Ubuntu you write a configuration file to set up the trackball to work the way you want it. I have to re-create this configuration file eve…

Next Ruby Project -- Rails Project -- Ephemeris

This is going to be my first rails web app, but I'm going to build the heart or the mechanics of it in Ruby first. This is my next big personal project. I'm putting it ahead of all other ones because this one has major usability.

What is Ephemeris?

Ephemeris is a program that calculates the phases of the moon and the time for sunrise, sunset, moonrise and moonset for any location on the planet. There's a lot of math I don't have a clue how to do involved.

So here are the end goals

By supplying your location (say Los Angeles) and a date you can get:

MoonPhase in a neat little graphic of the daySunrise, sunset, moonrise and moonsetAbility to create a moon calendar for the month(s) supplied.Ability to create a sunrise/set moonrise/set table for month(s) supplied.Give the exact time of full moon and new moon. The all the times should be accurate to the timezone of your location. 
First step is finding the math to calculate this and code it in Ruby. Then I'll create a ra…

Things I will buy when I get a job.

There are things that I'm postponing until I land a job. So these are the things I'll get myself as a present as soon as I'm employed.

1. Become a subscriber to KPCC and KCRW. Total cost $60.00 ($30 e/a)
    I listen to these stations an awful lot, though less lately as most news seem to be depressing. I absolutely  adore their mission of bringing information in an clear, clean effective way. I want to support them! They totally deserve it.

2. Buy clothing at Patagonia. Total cost average $65.00 each piece or more.
    I may do this without the job anyway, I like the store, it's ecological and repair policy and the clothing is made to be used like I use it: Till it falls fucking apart. I've got my eye on a pair of Duck pants and Duck shorts. I'd rather wear those than khakis and they seem way more comfortable than jeans. I have to try the on next time I'm there.

3. A Flash with battery pack and remote trigger. Cost $200.00 for flash + $100 for remote trigge…

How to speed up your Windows Boot after iTunes upgrade.

A new version of iTunes 10.5 came out for Windows with compatibility for iOS 5. After upgrading my boot time jumped a huge amount of time. Here is how to tame the Windows Boot back into shape when you have installed iTunes.

1. First install Soluto (mentioned in my Windows utilities post). Then go to chop boot and look for these processes

Apple Application SupportBonjour -- this one is optionalMobile Devices (Apple Mobile Devices Support)
And set all three to "Delay." Unless you only use your computer for iTunes/iOS support from the minute you start the computer, there is no real reason for those to hold up the start-up of your computer.

2. Then open Run... and type 'msconfig' and go to the start up tab. On Windows 7 you can just type it on the Start search bar and it will fire right away. Don't ask me why but when things are set up here sometimes they conflict with Soluto.

Go to the Startup tab and look for any processes that shouldn't be a start up. A typical…

Master Class

Hewlett Packard woes

I am marveled at how incredibly blind to the consequences of actions CEOs can be. I know it's impossible to predict certain things (Qwickster's spin off backlash was to be expected but the size surprised me) but some things are really easy to see coming.

When Hewlett Packard decided to spin off it's PC business (see post here) and kill it's webOS tablet, it seems it somehow failed to realized that the PC business is synergistic with it's printer business. This strikes of such obviousness that even Homer Simpson would get it. When people buy a computer from HP they are more likely to buy a printer form HP than say Canon which makes excellent printers but not PCs. Then of course the retailers that sell HP computer are more likely to want to sell HP printers too. So with no HP PCs to sell would they give the same priority to HP printers? Of course not.

Now HP realizes this consequence. And are rethinking dropping the PC division. Honestly this feels like amateur hour …

Windows Utilities 2

Here are more utilities that make life on Windows easier.
(If you didn't catch my previous utility post, it's here.)

9. PDF XChange Viewer

This PDF viewer is way quicker than Adobe's Acrobat. I've tried many Acrobat substitutes and none came close to the original from Adobe. After using the ultra quick Preview on the Mac, I wanted something with more speed for my Windows and I found it here. It works with browsers too so that's what makes it a great Acrobat substitute.

10. Launchy

Launchy is like the Gnome-Do program in Ubuntu, or the Quicksilver on the Mac. Basically it works by launching a window where you type the program you want by hitting a keyboard shortcut. (I like Alt+Space.) It's really useful, because instead of wasting time navigating through the Start menu to look for a program or having a shortcut in your desktop you can type it directly (and dynamically) and get it to launch.

11. f.lux

F.lux allows you to change the colors of your monitor to fo…

Great iPhone Apps

As a companion to my blog on Windows utilities, here are two paid apps on the iPhone that I consider so fantastic that are must buys in my opinion.

-Easy Calendar ($1.99)
The iPhone Calendar is one of its weakest features in my opinion. I miss the clear Black Berry calendar on my pearl whenever I had to use it. This app makes the calendar not only easy to use but way more useful, I see my week laid out for me with an easy ability to push things to other days (rather than having to re-enter the appointment). This app has completely re-made the way I organize things. I'm way more organized and rarely miss appointment now. This app is a steal at it's prize. No other app adds such simple functionality to the iPhone like this one does. It's like my secret organizer helper.

-Sleep Cycle ($.99)
I tried out this app because it was recommended on Tim Ferriss's books. I had seen this app before when it came out and thought it was intriguing, but it was way expensive. Now at less…

Real Artists Ship

Steve Jobs passed away yesterday. A true visionary, he will be missed by people who not only used his product but got inspiration from him. His vision allowed him to defer credit to the team that build the company and create a fierce loyalty in his costumers. Along with his many inspirational words in Standford's Commencement Speech we have dictum about art: Real Artists Ship and Real Artists get paid. Both of which are really good ones I think.

Steve Jobs was not perfect, but he did have the courage of his convictions and dared take one the hyper conservative world of running a corporation with an attitude of running a start-up. Like the apt writer from Ars Tecnica,, summed up "In a post-Steve-Jobs world, there is no longer an excuse for large corporations to be less bold than start-ups."

He will be missed by me, because in a world where people can seem to sit and look for opportunities to discourage you, it is great to see one daring and succeeding monume…

Hewlett Packard's New CEO & the purpose of a business

This is an interesting time for Silicone Valley CEOs. Yahoo fired their CEO, and now HP after the fall out of the previous CEO's decision to quit Hardware (read my previous post here) they've hired Meg Whitman as CEO.

HP has gone through many CEO's in this fashion: Carly Fiorina, Mark Hurd, and the last one, Apotheker. he total cost of ousting these CEOs has been around $80 million. Man, I wish I'd be getting anywhere near that money to get fired. Wow.

Now with Meg Whitman, I have even lower hopes for the company. While Whitman will probably turn the company around back to profitability, she is no visionary. With the amount of money she poured into her campaign, she would've won if she'd had any coherent vision.

Every now and then I hear someone say that the purpose of a business is to generate income or to put it bluntly "make money." Otherwise they say "you don't have a business." Well that's like saying that the purpose of the hum…

Setting JRuby to run in 1.9.2 mode by default

JRuby comes with both 1.8.7 and 1.9.2 (currently) and the default is 1.8.7. If you want to change it you have to feed an option at the command line:

$jruby --1.9

This weekend I had to migrate a rails program that I hadn't written and the author used 1.9.2 notation so it would not run on JRuby with the default settings. So I had to add the version option with every command which gets old quick. I looked online for a way to make this automatic (and on my JRuby books) but could only found the way to do it on a Mac or Linux but all Windows references just mentioned nebulous concepts such as environmental variables and seemed to be different from which version of Windows you are using. Here is how to do it.

Windows 7:

Got to Control Panel, System.

Wine (Crossover 10):

Java 6 version 21 will run on Wine (at least on Crossover 10) and you can install JRuby on top of that. To set environmental variables you have to go to regeditand set it there manually. Follow the screen-shots below.

Find t…

Cartography in life is not Navigation

A Cartographer doesn't need a map. They make their own maps. They learn about the terrain and learn about it. A navigator has a map, knows where he is going and finds the route to get there.

It seems that all I was taught was Navigation in life. How to make a way to a place. It was useful only as far as I was in school where the goal-to-reach was clear; simply the path to take was all that needed figuring out. Yet life outside of school, even in college is more like doing cartography: you have no map, no clear direction and yet you have to make you way. This is totally different from Navigation. You can ignore most of the terrain with a good map. If you are good at navigating and have a map you are not likely to get lost. However, what do you do when you have to go the areas outside the map?

My schooling seems to reflect more of an medieval world or industrial world than the post-industrial world we live on now. And many times I've felt ill-prepared for the world I live in now…

Configuring Netbeans for JRuby

Netbeans is an IDE (Integrated development environment) originally for Java. However version 6.9 (but not 7) can also be used with Ruby and JRuby. Because it's an IDE for Java, Netbeans is ideal for setting up JRuby on Rails projects. And here is how.

First make sure you Download the Java version of Netbeans 6.9.1 or the complete version. It's easier to add Ruby plugins to the Java Netbeans than viceversa.Install the Ruby plugins to Netbeans.Create a new project and follow the screen shots below. 

Netbeans comes with it's own bundled version of JRuby (1.5) so go to Manage Ruby versions to set a different version or even a C-Ruby version if you want.
The server needs to be set to Webrick to get the normal Ruby on Rails server.

If you are setting up a JRuby on Rails project make sure you mark the: "Access Database using JDBC"

And like that you have a properly configured Rails file for JRuby, without having to use the "--template" option. Go check the Gemfi…

Installing JRuby for Rails

JRuby is Ruby that runs on the Java Virtual Machine (JVM). It has the advantage of being cross platform (Linux, Mac and Windows) and being able to run on a 64-bit machine (important if you have a Windows 64-bit machine since the normal Ruby is 32-bit only for now on Windows). It at present installs both Ruby 1.8.7 and 1.9.2 but defaults to 1.8.7, but in the future the default will change to 1.9. The Windows installer meshes really well with the operating system and aside for the first time start-up time (it loads Java first) it's equally fast. However to run Rails on JRuby some things need to be taken care of. This set up should have you in good shape for Michael Hartl's book: Ruby on Rails 3 Tutorial.
1. Preliminary things you need.
JRuby on Rails is a mostly platform agnostic installation. It can be installed on any OS that runs the JVM or Java as it is commonly known. You probably already have it on your machine. But in case you don’t, you need it to install JRuby. Verify th…

Ants and Agriculture.

Agriculture in humans arose around 11,000 years ago give or take a few thousand years with the domestication of grasses across the world. Wheat, Rice, Maize, and others were the domestic crops upon which agriculture was based. Before that Hunter gather groups did grow plants but not in an organized social way like they do in agriculture.
Ants evolve something like generalized agriculture 50 million years ago. Around 15 million years after the Dinosaurs kicked the bucket. This is co-evolution of species (the ants harvest fungi) not merely breaking up of the ground that ants normally do that's beneficial to plants.
I'd never given that much thought to ants, they're not as easy to study as bees which have a fascinating dance language and an industry appeal right of the bat. But Ants have been recently on my mind due to the connection to flowering plants that I hadn't considered. Ants don't pollinate plants, so their contribution went unnoticed by me, but they are essen…

Cookie Cutter Job postings

I've been between jobs for a while, so I spend a fair amount of time looking at job postings. Admittedly this is a sad and very depressing activity so some weeks I just don't even look, let alone apply. Seems that my time is better used reading, learning programming, mastering a new swimming technique or writing.

After a while though you start seeing some really weird patterns in the postings, that make me wonder when people write this, do they know what they want? Some of them almost sound like dating site profiles' "What do you look for in a partner." I'm waiting for the one that says Requirements "Be Tall, Dark and Handsome." But more often you see the exact same type of language over and over again. Almost like a code that I can't quite decipher. I'm tempted (well more than tempted) to call my friends that work in HR (Human Resources) and have them translate it for me.

Going by Job Postings, there are no jobs for calm people outside of &…

Superman Story: The Collector

Inspired by this story by Xeni, of mentally disabled man who had his collection of Superman memorabilia stolen, I decided to write a Superman story for him. So this short story is dedicated to all people who transcend their limitation be them physical or mental to build beauty in their lives. 
Note: This is a rough un-corrected draft. Please pardon the typos, sometimes it's fun to read those too. :)

The Collector
part one

The sky above was azure blue, one of those days when the clouds disappear and just a blue ball of sky with a puncture for the Sun exist. Clark Kent floated above Metropolis in his Superman alter-ego. His eagle-eye vision allowed him to focus with precision on any section of the vast city below him and he quickly circled around. Surprisingly quiet day. It was hot and muggy and most people had chosen to be in the indoors air-conditioner cooled sanctuaries.

But Clark was not at all bothered by the heat. He didn't sweat from heat, never had. He stood still like a bl…

Hewlett Packard pulls a Micro$oft and an IBM

About a year ago Microsoft came out with a highly publicized phone called the Kin. You might remember the commercials about a girl wanting to do a trip to meet her friends face to face. Well, a few weeks after the phone was out in the market Microsoft killed it. Why they went ahead with producing it only to kill it? Hmmm.

Now Hewlett Packard (HP) has pulled the exact same maneuver. A few days ago I saw a commercial with of all people Many Paquiao for the HP TouchPad that uses the WebOS. Yesterday I read how Best-buy is returning its huge order of HP TouchPads. And today HP pulled a M$ dropping the tablet and the modestly successful Pre phone that works on WebOS. Dumb asses. Really. Dumb asses.

They killed the platform by starving it. It's like being disappointed in Einstein because he was bad at math as a kid, saying this kid will never do any good in school. He's not a prodigy let's pull him out of school. What were they expecting? With Apple dominating the market WebOS w…

Dance Teachers that don't teach Dancing.

Like programming books that don't teach programming but the programming language instead, I don't much like Dance teachers that teach a dance sequence instead of actually teaching dancing. They show you combination of moves rather than showing you how to do the actual move and think that speed is somehow equated with advance. The only problem with this is that there is only one type of person who can follow a class like that and derive benefit: a dancer. 
So like the programming books with a target audience of programmers this dance teachers assume you have a basic understanding and all you need is to learn this particular dance flavor or language of programming. This is a very inefficient way of learning and teaching.
Some people of course get programming immediately, they don't need to be taught it; same way some people get dancing immediately and need no actual teaching. But targeting that way of learning is inefficient; most people aren't born programmers or born dan…