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Ralsina.Me — Roberto Alsina's website

Posts about Writing (old posts, page 8)

I believe there is a problem

Yes­ter­day I was spammed by a new age por­tal called Por­talmi­co. The name is strange, since in span­ish (their lan­guage) it means "Mon­key Por­tal", but that the heck, af­ter adding me to the Face­book group they want­ed me to join, post­ing they are spam­mer­s, then leav­ing, I start­ed to think...

What ex­act­ly both­ers me about these guys? And de­cid­ed to en­ter their por­tal and see what was await­ing me be­hind the gates.

Ap­par­ent­ly these guys are heav­i­ly in­to 2012. How­ev­er, they don't ex­pect the end of the world, but a "cos­mic awak­en­ing" and they call this event "im­por­tant to the whole galaxy". This seems to be caused be­cause of a pe­cu­liar­i­ty of the mayan cal­en­dar. Whoa. And I thought the guys at Stop, unix time! were over­do­ing it.

One would be tempt­ed to ask, if mayans were so awe­some, how come their civ­i­liza­tion was such a mess? [1]

But that's not it. That's not what both­ers me. Brain­less ado­ra­tion of poor peo­ple who did their best to live their lives 600 years ago is not such a ter­ri­ble thing, (even if it is not the smartest thing ev­er). What both­ers me is the creduli­ty.

Let's see...

You will be hard pressed to find a post there that's scored less than 8 in a 1/10 scale, so al­most ev­ery­one seems to agree that all these things ex­ist/ are true.

In fac­t, the on­ly thing that came to mind that noone there seems to be­lieve in is hid­den mes­sages in the Torah and big­foot, but maybe I just did­n't look cor­rect­ly.

So, I think I now know what both­ers me. The lack of taste. If you be­lieve ev­ery­thing, you be­lieve noth­ing in par­tic­u­lar. If you ac­cept ev­ery­thing, you are not look­ing for truth. If you hold all things equal, noth­ing is spe­cial.

I find the per­spec­tive of a world where ev­ery­thing can be true, ev­ery­thing has the same val­ue, ev­ery­thing is the same... des­per­ate.

These peo­ple sound des­per­ate. They sound like they are adrift at sea and try to hold to any pass­ing twig, be it a crys­tal, a drowned con­ti­nen­t, or a char­la­tan.

Dear fel­lows at por­talmi­co: the on­ly thing that make life worth liv­ing is peo­ple. Yes, peo­ple. Not god, not mayan prophe­cies, not an­gel­s. Peo­ple.

Go out, meet some­one, have a nice life. What hap­pens af­ter that, if it is to hap­pen at al­l, will do so any­way. Be good to peo­ple, and trust that god (if he ex­ist­s) is worth any­thing and will wel­come you to his best con­do, be­cause if he does­n't... well, he was not re­al­ly worth ador­ing any­way.

So, I think I come out of this div­ing in­to non­sense with a clear­er, if a bit sad­der mind. Yes, they are spam­mer­s. Yes, they be­lieve child­ish fan­tasies. I hope they get bet­ter.

Blog readership statistics.

I am not sure if this is good or bad:


On one hand, I have more sub­scribers than ev­er, even con­sid­er­ing when this blog was in plan­etkde (BTW: maybe I should add my pyqt feed there again? Nah, I don't qual­i­fy as "ac­tive KDE con­trib­u­tor")

The dip in the last three monts was be­cause I just post­ed noth­ing, and now I am post­ing again, it's do­ing well.

On the oth­er hand, I am at 50-­some sub­scriber­s, which is a bit pa­thet­ic for a blog that has ex­ist­ed for over 9 years ;-)

On the grip­ping hand (Lar­ry Niv­en FTW!) I am hav­ing more fun with the blog than I had in quite a while, so I would post even if noone read it.

And in case you are won­der­ing what that peak of over 6000 reach (the av­er­age is un­der 100!) it's this. That post had over 12000 vis­i­tors. My sec­ond most pop­u­lar sto­ry had on­ly 3800.


Here's the most pop­u­lar con­tent in the last 2 years or so, se­lect­ed from 783 posts (784 with this one) and 47 longer sto­ries:

  1. 12228 vis­i­­tors: Win­­dows: My eX­Pe­ri­ence

    So I wan­t­ed to see what win­­dows looked like. Don't wor­ry, I feel bet­ter now.

  2. 3797 vis­i­­tors: Mak­ing Lin­ux sys­tems that don't suck. Part II

    A rant on cron and at. I nev­er imag­ined this would be num­ber 2.

  3. 2968 vis­i­­tors: BOP: Ball Ori­en­t­ed pro­­gram­ming

    I am rather proud of this one: a pyqt-based graph­i­­cal, an­i­­mat­ed in­­ter­preter for FLIP, a lan­guage based on balls :-)

  4. 2888 vis­i­­tors: Good News: Lin­ux gives life to old hard­ware. Bad News: Maybe in some cas­es it should­n't.

    Sil­­ly, yes, but a cool pic­­ture :-)

  5. 1870 vis­i­­tors: Py­­Cel­l­s: The Python Spread­­Sheet re­­dux

    My sec­ond or third at­tempt at writ­ing a toy spread­­sheet us­ing python. I have been at it for about 5 years, ap­­par­en­t­­ly.

    This is pop­u­lar... even when the code it de­scribes is based on a com­­plete­­ly bro­ken li­brary!

  6. 1841 vis­i­­tors: Squid au­then­ti­­ca­­tion via POP or IMAP

    This was al­ready about 4 years old when I start­ed coun­t­ing, so I have no idea how many vis­i­­tors it re­al­­ly had. It is a handy scrip­t, I still use it some­­times!

  7. 1813 vis­i­­tors: The Lin­ux Boot­ing Process Un­veiled

    I re­al­­ly ex­pec­t­ed this one to be much high­­er. It's even linked from wikipedi­a! Ev­ery day it has 2 or 3 hit­s. Then again, the first 3 years are not be­ing coun­t­ed ;-)

  8. 1706 vis­i­­tors: Queue Man­age­­ment for Qmail

    While the tool it in­­tro­­duces is lame nowa­­days, the ideas are sound, and it ex­­plains a re­al prob­lem.

  9. 1548 vis­i­­tors: Cus­­tom wid­gets us­ing PyQt

    Very ob­­so­lete, noone should read that.

  10. 1505 vis­i­­tors: How to make your own dis­­tro in 3 not-­­so sim­­ple steps

    Oh, this one. It is wrong. It gives bad ad­vice. Yet noone seems to no­tice ;-) Not my best idea, not my best ef­­fort, still get email about it ev­ery month or so.

This blog is over 9 years old.

On my lat­est dis­ap­pear­ance, this blog turned 9 years old. I start­ed it (in ad­voga­to, where you can still read it, BTW), on Jan­u­ary 17th, 2000.

It is cur­rent­ly my longest-run­ning pro­jec­t, since at the time I lived in a dif­fer­ent province, have had sev­er­al girl­friends (and a wed­ding), I had two or more job­s, start­ed one com­pa­ny, went through about 9 pres­i­dents, and of course, there's my boy Juan:


BTW: his grand­fa­ther took that pic­ture. Looks a bit dan­ger­ous, does­n't it? It prob­a­bly was. But that's ok, there's like an inch of sand in case he fel­l. I need to talk to him ;-)

All things con­sid­ered, awe­some 9 years. I need to ac­tu­al­ly re­mem­ber for the 10th aniver­sary.

Me and the subte.

I moved to Buenos Aires (BA) al­most ex­act­ly 8 years ago. For those who have nev­er been here, let me tell you some things about it. It's large. Do you know Sao Paulo? A bit small­er. Much small­er than Mex­i­co DF. About the same size as New York. Twice the pop­u­la­tion of the Rand­stad. About the same as greater Paris or Is­tan­bul. So fig­ur­ing out a way to move around it was im­por­tan­t.

Vista dos Aires

The way most na­tives do it is by bus. There is a pret­ty ex­ten­sive and ef­fi­cient net­work of bus­es which will take you any­where. There are maybe 150 dif­fer­ent lines, but if you don't know the city, spe­cial­ly the place you are try­ing to reach, they are a recipe for get­ting lost, be­cause you can (will) miss your stop and end any­where else.


To make it worse, I get dizzy on bus­es. The brak­ing and start­ing makes me re­al­ly sick. I can con­trol it, as long as I look out the win­dow, or straight for­ward, and breath re­al­ly care­ful­ly.

So, since I don't drive, and cabs are rel­a­tive­ly ex­pen­sive, I al­ways pre­ferred the sub­way, or, as it is called here, the subte. Plus, on trains and sub­ways I can even read and not get dizzy. I al­ways tried to live close to a sta­tion, I had al­most one hour to read while trav­el­ing and we got along great.

The subte is pret­ty old. The first in Latin Amer­i­ca, and still the on­ly one in a few mil­lion near­by square miles. But it's al­so ... quirky.

For in­stance, I lived in Bel­gra­no, close to the D line. Which had ja­pa­nese cars. How did I know they were ja­pa­nese cars? Well, they had all these things writ­ten on the win­dows in Ja­pa­nese. Sad­ly, I can't find pic­tures of that, and in a re­cent trip I did­n't see them, so it may be that af­ter maybe 20 years some­one de­cid­ed to rub them of­f. That's a pity. I al­ways imag­ined they said in­ter­est­ing stuff, even if they prob­a­bly said "keep your hands in­side the car, you id­iot".

There's al­so the bo­letería-kiosco. A kiosco is a sort of mi­ni drug­store, where you can buy can­dy, a so­da, maybe a com­b, or con­dom­s. A bo­letería is a palce where you buy tick­ets to ride the subte. And in some places, you can do both things. Be­cause they turned the tick­et booths in­to kioscos.

El hombre del Kiosco

Tere is the line at Re­tiro sta­tion, in the C line. There's 4 or 5 bo­leterías. When you get there, of­ten there's 40 or 50 peo­ple in line on the first one. And you can walk just be­side them and buy a tick­et in the 4th or 5th booth, where there's noone wait­ing.

And of course, a clas­sic, the one ev­ery tourist sees. The A line. The orig­i­nal BA sub­te, opened 90 years ago or so... and still us­ing the same cars. Yes, you can ride an­tique, wood­en cars to work on that line. With in­can­des­cent bulbs on glass tulip­s. With man­u­al doors (man­u­al open­ing on­ly, they close au­to­mat­i­cal­ly with bone crush­ing force).

Empty train car

Sure, it's hot. There's no air con­di­tion­ing, and BA can get pret­ty hot in sum­mer. But it's nice in win­ter! It's fast, you can't get lost, and it's just so BA.

Strange things I see: the roof statue of Carupá

Walk­ing near the train sta­tion of Carupá, head­ing for a cus­tomer's I saw a rather shab­by house in the in­dus­tri­al area, white and with green paint­ed doors made of met­al. And on top of it, stand­ing as if about to jump, there's a stat­ue of a chub­by guy wear­ing a white shirt and black pants. Why is there a stat­ue in the roof of that house? Why is it so creep­y?


The aw­ful pic­ture is cour­tesy of my phone.

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