Shooting Colors

I found this toy I’d played around a few years ago, dusted it off a bit, and thought of displaying it here. My friend Héctor usually likes playing with graphics and animations, and this was an excercise simpler than what he was doing at the time. I did work on some more complex animations, but I lost them to bitrot. If I build or find more of these toys I’ll be uploading them here; I find them entertaining, and it was educational to build them.
Animation (JavaScript with canvas) after the break.
Source: https://gist.github.com/iajrz/2d317dda2f746388a3c190743b1aeda9

Continue reading Shooting Colors

Last year’s goals, this year’s goals

Died a quiet, dignified death. I didn’t write all the posts I wanted to write – not even half. I did polish my skills on many areas, but I didn’t really lean into pursuing my other goals. Can’t even remember them.

This year, I’ll try something different.

I will take (or have taken) about a pic a week – so far, so good. Still need to recoup pictures taken for me by others, so I can put them together. I want to have at least 40 pictures by the end of the year.

I will learn 12 songs on bass. I have yet to start the lessons. I hope I can manage, as I already almost-play the guitar and will be tutored. By the end of February I will have started the lessons.

I will fix or improve two things at home per month.

I will build a new house for my dogs. This time, I’ll take care to document the process properly and write a blog post, which I didn’t do last year.

I will start working out. I expect to have at least 6 months of working out during the year.

I will write at least once a month in this blog. Oh, look at the time. So far, so good… :^)

I will look back on this around November or December, see if anything is salvageable and what needs to be discarded.

Retrospective: Live Code Streaming 2

Today we built up on the previous progress (see what it was here)

I had my twitter app credentials stored somewhere they’d not be streamed, and developed a bit of code to read and use them without showing them on screen. It’s important that those data don’t make it into a code repo! Afterwards, I used the tweepy API to create a stream following a “track”, which is just what we need to get all publications of a particular hashtag.

What remains is to really flesh out the twitter client, make it store the relevant data (see what data is really available), and get what I need.

It seems it won’t be too long – and it’s been longer than needed because I’ve been explaining things.

If you’re reading this, I want you to know that the process has been with trial and error; we found a bug in tweepy’s documentation (it’s fixed in master, which is not published yet), for instance, and I had to work out how to do things properly.

I invite you to join me on the next live stream, I will write on my twitter (@iajrz) when the date is defined.

The lives we project

When using any form of communication we choose what to highlight or not about ourselves.

Social media is heavily skewed towards people having lives full of peaks, be it really good (mostly) or really bad times that can be empathized with.

This is not new – this also happens whenever there’s any kind of meeting happening aftera long time without seeing certain groups of people… be it people you studied with, or distant relatives.

Unlike before, we’re positively bombarded with that kind of phenomena now – the price we pay for being ever more connected, ever better able to communicate with little regard for space and time, and with very little cost. This is a superstimulus.

This is likely to have amplified emotional impacts – if you’re happy with yourself, you’re bound to be happy for other’s successes. If you’re insecure, then not only will you have to see that one person whose life you thought was certainly not going to be more amazing than yours at that rare meeting… you’re going to be hit time and again with that kind of slap, and it’s not hard to see how we’d be left reeling.

Often the young can be most insecure, but also, at this point, the young are heavy users of social media… and while projecting better or more interesting lifes than they have (by choosing to highlight the good times), they can trigger an attempt to compensate from other people, creating a vicious cycle.

Perhaps turning off our social feeds and focusing on chats would be better? Or parhaps we should narrow down our social circles. In any case, a good way to break this is to stop skewing the way you present your life – in which case stopping to do it may be the least painful way to do it. Or trying to feel better about ourselves would make it more joyous to see someone else be absolutely killing it out there.

In any case, thinking about this and taking a grip on the situation may help you feel better and have improve your days, raising your quality of life.

Projecting Conciliation

In some cases getting someone to think in a way similar to yours or changing your mind is especially important. Besides the usual value for your correct reasoning, there’s an immediate decision at hand which is directly dependent on the result of a conversation or argument.

Being non confrontational is really useful in these situations, but requires particular sharpness and preparedness. You need to understand the issue as well as possible, and a quality I can’t quite defined but have observed recently… it’s a mixture of believing in the best cognitive intentions of your counterpart, as well as trusting their smarts and being genuinely curious. There may be other factors that further help you get into the right frame of mind.

The behavior I’ve observed in people who work like this – I’m not particularly good at this approach, although I’ve somehow pulled it off on some rare occasions – is an apparently open but directed curiosity which drives everyone into the meat of the business and enlightens everyone… and is equally likely to change anyone’s mind, except that the driver, the one projecting conciliation, has a deep understanding of the issue at hand that makes them especially likely to be closer to a good answer to the problem at hand.

This kind of attitude, which is also very calm in the conversation, is the best I’ve seen to steer important meetings in the right direction – whatever it might be. It costs a lot of effort, but practice makes master… perhaps doing it in non-crucial subjects is a good idea from time to time.

Retrospective: Live Code Streaming 1

Yesterday I streamed for some minutes while starting the process for building an application which consumes the twitter API.

I’ve not used the tiwtter API before, and I’ve not consumed any APIs from Python… the point is to demonstrate how to learn something new on the run, and how straightforward or not things may turn out.

Up to now, I’ve found out that app.twitter.com is where you register the application, and I chose tweepy as an SDK.

I read on some of the documentation for the proper application behavior, such as the backoff protocol and their unique HTTP 420 error.

Reading on-screen is awkward, I’ve tried to make it lively by commenting on the content and pointing out what calls my attention. As it turns out that reading documentation and exploring is a part of development, I don’t want to hide it from the viewers. There are already a ton of streamers who use their known tools to work on straightforward problems… I hope to enhance the experience bringing to the table something I’ve not yet seen.

As I announced some time ago, this stream is scheduled for Wednesdays at 8:00PM, UTC-4. Next time I’ll have the needed parameters to authenticate to the twitter API and will go on from there, without showing the actual secret values.

If you’re not very experienced and have Spanish as your mother language, I recommend you join the stream and the chat, where we can discuss the information and implementation.

Learn Ruby The Hard Way

I’m working through the book as a break from other work, and it’s pretty good. It’s aimed to someone getting initiated in programming, which makes it rather easy for me to breeze through the excercises.

What I like most is that the book, just like the rest of the “Learn Code the Hard Way” series, is organized around excercises. You type code, then poke it to break it, fix it and improve upon it.

A good read, and by proxy so is Learn Python the Hard Way, on which this book is based.

Schedule

I usually hate schedules. I like to do things at the moments I feel like doing them.

This results in not being prompt – which often ends with things being forgotten, creating the need to write down and check lists of things to do, which is not a happy overhead. Some times, this results in things not getting done in the optimal timeframe.

Because I need to get some things done – specially my latest goal of bringing little joys to lots of people – I will now adopt a schedule.

I announced on Facebook some weeks ago I’ll be live coding a twitter bot in python. That’s going to be Wednesdays at 20:00 UTC-4. The rest of the schedule is not publicly available – or of public relevance, for that matter. So I’ll keep it to myself.

I’ll talk about the effects it actually has – but I predict I’ll be able to get side projects done at better than present rate.

Dream

I had a dream which left me shaken. I share it here with all of you.

I went into a huge facility, with immense amounts of crafting materials available for use. The materials were in supermarket-style showcases, rows upon rows of them. All kinds of crafting materials could be found: colored pencils, markers, watercolor, pencils of different hardness, oil paint, chalk sticks, all kinds of paper and cardboard, and a myriad of tools to work with all of them.

There were kids running around, with little supervision, getting supplies and going about their business crafting, drawing, painting, designing. Some kids were working in architect tables, frowning with concentration.

Everything was brightly colored and happy. It was a center of study for people who didn’t fit in regular school or didn’t want to be there.

I wept, sobbing about the chance I’d missed by being born too early, about what might have been if I’d had a place to thrive like this instead of becoming atrophied at school. My wife appeared beside me at that point, in pure dream-fashion, and reassured me that not all was lost. In fact, it turned out that we were there because she was invited – something to do with her starting a business and getting first class mentorship or something of the sort.

I calmed down, and we kept walking. I got separated from my wife, as she went to a meeting and I wanted to see behind the next corner. She said she’d be waiting for me. As I turned the corner, and again in true dream fashion, I was suddenly naked and sitting with a backpack in my lap… just when some very important people – who I intuitively knew were very smart – turned the corner discussing something apparently important. I first panicked, then reasoned that this were likely very tolerant people, and plain told them “It seems I got naked by accident”. They looked at me matter-of-factly, and one of them said “That kind of accident happens around here from time to time”. I said, “If you don’t mind, I’ll get dressed now”, and did with clothes that were in my backpack. They weren’t fazed.

I went out of that corridor and noticed a big, burly man threatening a smaller one. He had a gun in his hand, and was pressing it down the smaller man’s trapezium. I rebelled against this abuse – this was no place for that kind of behavior, this was a house for intellect. It’s not nice to be pointing guns at people unless you don’t a better solution. I suddenly “remembered” that the facility owners kept guns everywhere, and went to a drawer to reach for one. Luckily, it was a revolver, so I’d be able to use it. When I got ahold of it, a siren sounded – I woke up while realizing that I was being tested, that they’d wanted to know what I’d do when confronted with such a situation – whether I’d let abuse go unnoticed.

Somehow, while waking up, I had the notion that they’d wanted to teach me, and had wanted to test my mettle and moral fiber. I hope I’d passed the test, for that is a place where I’d like to be: dozens upon dozens of really smart people, hardly bound by the less useful parts of culturally inherited customs, making their own rules and trying to do the right thing for the world and for themselves, working merrily away to stave off death and decay, to make our time on Earth both pleasanter and longer. This is something to aspire to.

There may be some such places in the world. Surely another one can’t hurt? Maybe this is something I should try to help happen sometime in the future?