Saturday, January 31, 2009

Gustavo Duarte's Blog

Software, Computer and Business.
A new favorite. Where I can find good engineering articles and technical essays written in an easy-to-digest way. The articles are like Coding Horror's, but with more meat in them.

I got lured in with "Anatomy of a Program in Memory" a detailed description of stack, heap, and bss space in memory, something that I had to learn the hard way, (finding and fixing mysterious bugs) it was finally laid out and explained away.

The article that got me hooked to the blog was "Lucky to be a Programmer" which is something I can relate to.

I don't know much about who this Gustavo dude is, what exactly it is that he does, the only thing it says in his profile is that he works in Colorado. Secret Government Agent? Nah, probably AMD, or Intel. There's too few software engineers that are that familiar with hardware. My guess it's that he's a processor designer.



Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Miami Heat Game

Low Bowl Seats at the AA arena: $66

Parking: $10

Cotton Candy for Anthony: $5.75

Spending quality time with my son: priceless.

I wasn't planning on taking Anthony to the game since I thought he was too young to enjoy it. But he behaved surprisingly well. Plus we enjoyed watching the Heat explode in the third quarter, I think Wade made the best play of the year tonight. I have no words to express the sweetness of the slam dunk he pulled. When I find the youtube video I'll post it.

Good Times, Good Times.


Here's the video, you could see me high-fiving Wade right after...well, not really, but still, it was awesome, the fans went wild right after this.


Sunday, January 25, 2009

Something deep to think about

Kevin Kelly, executive editor from wired magazine gave an interesting talk on TED. It's titled "Predicting the next 5000 days of the web".

He mentions that the web as we know, it's only 5000 days old. It started by linking computers (in the old days), then it evolved to liking pages, but what's next?

I don't want to spoil it, but it has to do with A.I. and consciousness.

I couldn't help to think that Isaac's Asimov's fantasy, is going to become true.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Cool Visualization

I've always wondered how the zip code system worked. So did this guy, and thanks to him, it's easy, simple and beautiful. Good job dude.

It was done using Processing, a programming language used to visualize data.

Gotta love'em interwebs.


Thank you.

Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America

I was just at the lobby of the office building where I work, where I saw this ad playing in the big screen.

This was touching, because for some reason, that's exactly how it feels when you are back from a long deployment. I felt so alone even though I was surrounded by people who love me and care about me. When I saw what was happening I decided not to let the war define who I am. I made myself a promise, that I would move on to the next stage of my life. But I was lucky because I have an awesome support system, and I had some goals set in stone that helped me keep my mind off the past. It also helps that I blogged about those experiences here in this blog.

However, there are times when you need more than that. I am thankful to the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America for having this website. I sincerely thank you because I know there are some out there that can use your help. Veterans sometimes come with invisible injuries that must be treated.

Busy Weekend

This weekend I will be:

1. Moving furniture for a friend.
2. Working overtime.
3. Studying Maximum Likelihood Decision Rules and Maximum A Priory Detection Probability for my Dig. Comm. Class. (Joy!)
4. Spending quality time with the Monkeys.

The last one will not be a chore at all. The kids are at that age when they are actually fun to be around. They are not as helpless as babies, but they still have uncomplicated behavior. (unlike older kids)

So it's really easy to have a good time, just go to a park and let them run wild.

Anyway, that's all for now. Be good.


Thursday, January 22, 2009

Military Justice

I saw this article in the news today. The headline reads "Marine Jailed for Sex with Widow".

It's a short, very sad story. Recruiter gets a kids fresh out of high school in the Marines, kid goes to Iraq. Kid dies. Recruiter sleeps with the kid's wife. Pretty screwed up right?

If you get technical about it, the kid was already dead. And there was no adultery. In a civil court, (if adultery were to be a crime, which I don't think it is) the case would have been thrown out.

Not in the military. There's a widely practiced thing called "making an example out of you". I looked up Article 134 of the UCMJ (Uniform Code of Military Justice) and the definition of Adultery is vague enough to include the behavior of our Casanova recruiter.

Conduct prejudicial to good order and discipline or of a nature to bring discredit upon the armed forces. To constitute an offense under the UCMJ, the adulterous conduct must either be directly prejudicial to good order and discipline or service discrediting.

So that's what happens if you mess around. The story doesn't say how this came about, did the widow complain afterwards? I wonder how does she feel right now? Was the Marine Corps too harsh on the recruiter? Should the widow share some of the blame? Does all of this even matter since the kid is not even alive anymore?

So Sad. Damn.


Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Trivial fact about my self

You know how sometimes you could have a song stuck in your head?

Well, I spent all 13 weeks of Marine Corps Boot Camp with the song Swallowed by BUSH stuck in my head.

And for the whole second half of my tour in Iraq, I was singing Bonito, by Jarabe de Palo.


It is NOT good to be a Gator

Ok, I need to calm down, I know. I am really upset.











Ok, better now.

I applied for a private, student loan last September, not a Grant, not a subsidized loan, it was a private loan. It was between me and my lender. They told me they had everything they needed from me, that they were waiting for my University "to confirm my status".

My employer reimburses me, but I have pay tuition first. UF got my application months ago, but did not bother to inform me that they were not planning on approving the loan until I finally got to speak to someone today. Today, after tuition was due last week, two weeks before I get dis-enrolled for not being able to pay tuition.

Is not like I was cavalier about it. I called the financial aid office numerous times, asking what was going on with my money, NOT ONE PERSON COULD TELL ME what was going on until today.

The reason for denying my loan? Bad Credit? Nope. Information missing? NOPE, They are a bunch of retards? no, I don't think so, even though it's debatable.
It's because I am only taking 3 credits, so I am not a full time student, so therefore, I must not need the money. Thanks for telling me in advance, UF.

I feel better now.
Ahh, the therapeutic powers of blogging.


Monday, January 19, 2009


So much free time, don't know what to do

I've got an extra free day today and I don't know what would be the best way to spend it. I've got good quality time with my family, I am covered when it comes to school (but I could always be doing doing SOMETHING with school) there are many side project that I'd like to partake. And of course, I could write a deep, meaningful blog post.

I think I am just going to relax.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Good Bye President Bush

I am sad to see him go. Well, not really. A lot of my friends think I hate him. I don't.
Being president is a tough job, It is something I wouldn't want to do. It's too much stress to have so much power and be under scrutiny all the time.

There are many things that he did wrong. But he also did some good things in Africa, I've heard.

I think the economist did a good job of analyzing the Bush years.

The thing with me, is that when he said there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, I believed him, when he said that we were going to find Osama Bin Laden, I thought that would be our top priority.

 When I was sent to Iraq, I thought we had a plan. I had a hard time in Iraq because I thought we were doing the Iraqi people a service by getting rid of a terrible dictator. But when I see that we are not welcome there, I have a hard time thinking that we are the good guys in that story. Of course I know things are more complicated than that., I understand. Bottomline I was lied to. I went to war for the wrong reasons.

 I hope Iraq turns itself around, with or without our help. Bush seems to think that in long run he will be recognized as the president that did the right thing. We will see about that. I don't blame him for the economy, or the gas prices, but I can't forgive how his leadership tarnished the image of American servicemen. Once that happened, I became more and more critical of his rhetoric and I stopped supporting him. 

 There are so many things that can be said about him, but I will let the historians and the press do that. I try to be objective when forming my opinions, I don't think he's a bad person or that he's as dumb as he sounds. I wonder about his character, but that's not for me to judge. I hope the Republican Party changes direction, the neoconservatives have self-destructed. A little advice: Palin is not the answer.

Oh well, what really matters is that things will change now with this new president. Right?....Right?

Saturday, January 17, 2009

An unanswered important question

So the Middle East is in turmoil. Surprise! Who would have thought! I have a hard time deciding who I dislike the most. A terrorist organization that kills innocent civilians, or Hamas. I really can't side with an organization that has no respect for human lives. I understand the reality and the complexity of the situation, I just can't sympathize with any side. I am really divided over this. Deep down, I think Hamas is wrong, but Israel can't win my affection for this.

Now, while I was trying to argue this issue with a friend, an important question came up. How should a Country deal with terrorism? What is a State supposed to do when a non-government group decides to launch un-conventional warfare on its citizens? Peru dealt with Sendero Luminoso by crushing them like cockroaches, they caught his leader, and displayed him in a cage like an animal. But that brings other issues, I can't get to deep into it right now, but my point is that I don't think the means justifies the end. But I can't think of a way to solve this. What would be the best remedy?

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

CWE/SANS Top 23 Most Dangerous Programming Mistakes

Thanks to CodingHorror For posting it at his site. This list deserves the attention of all software developers. The errors are very common indeed.

Good night.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Bad ass Mathematician from back in the day

Augustin-Luis Cauchy(1789-1857)

It's interesting to learn how the great minds of the past came up with the ideas that are still relevant today. Among these is Augustin Cauchy, who gave rigor to Calculus.

How in the world was Calculus invented?

If you are interested in this question
Who gave You the Epsilon? Cauchy and the Origins of Rigorous Calculus (pdf) by Judith V. Grabiner gives a good answer to that.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

This is what I am reading

Thomas L. Friedman: Hot, Flat, and Crowded.

I've been a fan of Tom Friedman since I had to read from Jerusalem to Beirut. I like the way he explains complex situations in everyday words. I am halfway trough and it's very insightful. In summary, Global Warming, Globalization and Overpopulation are issues that need to get addressed. Now. It urges Americans to take the lead in developing and adopting innovative ways of producing clean energy. I hope the upcoming administration has someone in their payroll who read this book.

Socrates Cafe

I've had this book for a while. In fact, I bought it right before deploying to Iraq, and didn't like it then, but I started to read it again, and it's growing on me. It's about this guy who goes around and sets up these meetings or "socrates cafe's" in order to get regular people engaged in philosophical discourse. I am taking my time with it.

First things First

This one is for personal growth. It's about how to prioritize things and get things done according to importance. It's very good. It has made me look at myself and all the roles I play in my life. However, I feel stressed every time I read a chapter. Because there are so many things that are important to me, I don't have time to do all of them. One thing though, I am making an effort to stay healthy, because I can't afford to procrastinate with that one. So I am making the effort to not over eat, to work out at least 3 times a week, and to take care of my overall health.

Digital Communications

This one is for school. It's for a class with the same name. Very interesting stuff. It deals with the very bottom of all the communication layers. The physical channel. This deals with the problem of sending and receiving information reliably. When you talk on the phone, send an email, watch a video on youtube. Information is traveling through many channels and making it to your device in a way that appears seamless. In reality, that information travels through wires and in the air as electrical signals. All of this is realized with information translated to binary form. It's all zero's and ones. This course deals with channel coding. Meaning how information gets across the physical layer (trough free air, copper lines, water, bouncing off walls, going through your flesh, etc, etc.

and more...

It usually takes 4 or 5 lectures until I lose the prof, but I this time I broke the record, by the second lecture I was lost. The truth is, I suck at math. Well, not really, I love math, but math does not love me. Like any love story, my relationship with math is filled with joyous moments and painful heartbreaking. I used to think I was doing good, then calculus came along and ruined forever. Last night though I started reviewing all the math I took at my undergrad, well, not all, but most, I took out my calculus, differential equations, Linear Systems, and Probability for Signal processing, I meant to do a quick glance at all the chapters so I can refresh all that information, and to get in the math mindset, I fulfilled the latter but not the former. I got stuck in CH1 of Calculus, looking at limits, I remembered, I don't think I ever really got what calculus is about, even after 3 semesters, I was so worried about passing the class, I didn't stop to think about it. Last night I started reading each paragraph and each formula, graph and explanation carefully, and then suddenly I was struck by how beautiful and elegant and mathematical proof is. Reminded me of a mathematician's apology.

Best.Customer Review. Ever.

Ever had a hard time opening those hard ass plastic packages? This guy did too, and lived to write about it in

Thursday, January 08, 2009


It's good to be a Gator.


Monday, January 05, 2009

Back to the daily grind

It's nice to be back after a vacation with the fam.

I have been doing some thinking, and some reading as well. I am refining my goals and trying to sort out what's important to me. And I have some goals, I really don't want to say that these are "resolutions" because to me resolutions are always meant to be broken. I have done some thinking, and I want to prioritize some things.

My Priorities

I don't think anyone lies in their deathbed and wishes they spent more time in the office, so I plan to make more time for the people that matter to me the most. I want to spend more time with my kids, I want to watch them grow into good people. I would like to work on my personal relationships on not lose sight of that. It's very easy to do. In the name of providing for a family to forget why we are doing this in the first place. That's all I am going to write about that here. I don't like to make all of that public. All ya'll need to know is that I love my family more than anything.

Be a leader in my profession

Besides doing, you know, my job, I want to become a leader in my field, this is a tall order since Computer Engineering is filled with brilliant minds. But I want to contribute to the collective knowledge of the software community. I need to find a cause, a problem to solve, a new invention, or some way to make a contribution.

This is going to be hard because just doing my day-to-day job is consuming. Writing quality software takes a lot of work. But I do not want to be another mediocre engineer The good is the enemy of the best, and I would hate to be an average worker, I'd rather not do anything than to do an average job.

Being Creative

This ties in to the last goal, the thing is, I am the type of person who likes to take stuff in, I like to read, to analyze, to criticize, to understand, but I don't usually create things. I don't invent things, well, not usually, at work I get told what the end goal is and I make it happen in the code. But being creative involves visualizing the thing you want to create and then realizing it. I don't usually do that and I want to. This blog is one of the first things that really stem from my creativity, and I don't want to give up on it.

I'd like to write down the thoughts that come to my head, but I can think faster than I can type, so by the time I write it down, I always end up deleting it, because I hesitate.

However, I'd like to start with some short essays and eventually work my way up to a book. The thing is, I just don't know what the book will be about if I don't have anything that will inspire me to write. Probably technical stuff.

Work for a good cause

I know I am sounding really vague up to know, I want to invent something but I don't know what, I want to write a book and I don't know what I will be about, and I want to help a good cause, I just have not chosen one yet, but there are many good ways to give back to the community, I want to pick something that will make a difference in people's lives, I want to do something to help low-income students become interested in science and math, but there are so many other good things out there, like solving world hunger, genocide, diseases, I guess is better to think globally and act locally. Therefore, it will be something to help out people in the South Florida Area.

Take better care of my health

Ok, I've put on a few pounds since I got out of the reserves, and it's not too bad yet, but when I have my aunt in Venezuela urging me to lose weight I know it's time to do something. So I want to lose 20 lbs by my 30th Birthday, seriously, I am tired of being overweight, I just feel all nasty and I think about how I could get sick with heart disease and I just don't want to check out early, if you know what I mean. Therefore, I am going to work out at least 3 times a week. This one will be hard to do as I already have some many things to do. So many roles I have to fill. Husband, Father, Home Manager, Grad Student, Engineer, Creator, Blogger, friend, community member, etc. etc. But it would be stupid for me, not to do it.

Anyway, these are my resolutions for 2009 however, these are things I want to keep doing for the rest of my life. It will take some effort, but I can be done.

Take Care.