Sim, Chef! (Season 2)

Benedita Pereira e Marco Horácio

Benedita Pereira and Marco Horácio

Well, this is probably the only Series made in Portugal I really follow. Well, the argument, at least for the first season, was adapted from another show. But I think the second season is mostly original from Portugal. It is a comedy show, of about 30 minutes per episode, of a team of cookers and restaurant staff, and their lives. It is fun, it shows food, have some nice girls, so, why not?

One the main things I noticed in the second season is that the first half episodes were recorded without two of the main actors. Although one came back, the other was completely replaced and, if at first, felt weird, the story was good enough to back the substitution. Talking about that, the substitute is Marco Horácio, someone I knew only from singing a comic version of the Portuguese Fado. His acting is not bad. Really.

Will continue following it, if a new season comes back. And specially if Benedita Pereira continues in the show. She resembles a friend…

Scopus, and other messy services

For a long time that I am against the creation of Journal and Conference indexes, trying to stamp the contributions published or presented on those venues as good or bad. While I agree that there are some conferences that accept mostly every document that they receive, that does not mean that, a distracted researcher, could try and publish there some great work. This is the main problem of statistics altogether, as they consider the whole for the part.

Some other examples of the problems on this kind of journal ranking can be given. Depending on the area you do your research on, there are very different number of venues to publish your work. Thus, a couple researchers will have a simpler task while others will have an impossible task.

While there are topics that can be published in a wide range of journals, there are some other subjects that are too specialized, that there isn’t so much reference places where to publish it. Of course the researcher can publish the work in a less specific journal. There are some wide subject journals that have a good ranking. But then, would it be better to publish your work on some place where the standard researcher will not search for work on a specific topic, or publish in a less reputable conference where all the community publishes?

If this seems all too abstract, I can give an example. There aren’t much top ranking journals to publish on Natural Language Processing (NLP). Even for conferences, there are just a few with a good ranking. But then, if you look to any paper on NLP, I can be mostly sure that you can find, at least, one reference to a paper published in the Languages, Resources and Evaluation Conference (LREC). This one, is not top ranked. Also, they have a quite small rejection percentage. But all main researchers of the area publish there. It is a huge conference, with more than  700 papers accepted each year.

But, even if you accept that journals and conferences should be rated, and that a researcher work should be evaluated by such rankings, then you must look to what these rating organizations do. Let me give you a small example: I found that a journal I co-edit is present on SciMago (here). The problem is that, although the name and ISSN is correct, the subject classification is a little at the side and, worse, all the information on the publisher is wrong. SciMago claim that this information comes from Scopus, and that they just process it. But after contacting a couple of times Scopus, they aren’t able to fix the data. They redirect me to SciMago. When contacting SciMago, they route the conversation to Scopus again. In order to show Scopus that this is their problem, I tried to ask SciMago to reply to my mail including Scopus in the recipients. They just replied me, with the same copy&paste text from before.

If these services aren’t able to fix their data, even when asked for, can we trust on all other data they claim to have?

 

Data Wing

Data Wing

Data Wing

From time to time I install some new game to pass some time with, on my Android. Basically, when I need to wait for some appointment, I play a little. Normally I end up ending puzzles, that are more of the same, or very similar to some other games, and with no interesting novelty.

But from time to time I get surprised. And this was the case, with Data Wing. It is a simple game, with simple controls, a simple gameplay and a story!! This is the part I liked more. As you probably know, I teach on a computer game development course, and sometimes my students say that they want to develop a simple racing game, or other of the kind, and as given it is a racing game, there is no story. Data Wing proves that any game can have a story. And in this case, an interesting one.

Other than this, I like the colorful graphics, with some “visual noise”, and the fact that the controls are hidden. Why add two buttons, for turning right and left, taking screen space? Just teach the player that there are two hidden big buttons, and then no need to keep their visual. It gets instinctive.

If you are tired of the same old games, give Data Wing a try. Really.

Maigret Sets a Trap (2016)

Rowan Atkinson as Maigret

Rowan Atkinson as Maigret

Well, first the obvious: seeing Rowan Atkinson in a serious role is kind of difficult at first. But you get used to it, and Rowan shows he is not just Mr. Bean.

Regarding the movie itself: getting a known character from a book series is quite hard. If one can try to find an actor that suites the role, I think that it was not the case. As one of the books of Maigret shows, “Maigret” is not “magro” (thin), but rather a little fat. That is not true with Atkinson performing the character. The second things I miss, is that Maigret, from the books, has a special kind of humor (can’t say dark humor, but a subtle form of humor) and, in this movie, Atkinson has so much fear to be funny that Maigret ends out as a sad policeman, a thing that is not really what is presented on the original books.

Mobile Phones for Elder People

I am not sure about other countries, but in Portugal there are some mobile phones (usually not smartphones) which are catalogued as for elder people. As you can see above, they have big buttons, with large numbers. But things stop there. If you try to use any of them, you will notice that the text shown in the screen is quite small (not talking about the current time, as shown in the images). For example, it is quite hard for someone with impaired vision to read a message. One can argue that elder people will not use SMS. But if that is the understanding of the phone makers, just remove that functionality from the phone. In the other hand, if you think elder people will read and/or send messages, then, allow him to configure the font size.

Please, the first that does that, send me a message and I will buy one for my mother.

Genius – Season 1, Episode 1

I know I have too many open series to watch. Probably I will never end watching them all in my life. In any case, watched the first episode of Genius, and liked it. I imagine the story is lightly based on Albert Einstein life, but in any case it is interesting enough. It makes us think on different things like, for instance, the way education works and how it should. I will probably watch a few more episodes meanwhile…

How Coursera is now Irrelevant for my Education

I was really excited when  I first heard of Coursera. I tried and completed a couple of courses, and learned a lot interesting subjects. Unfortunately, life continues, and we do not have the desired time for what we want, when we want. In fact, I enrolled in a couple more courses, that I did not finish. In fact, I didn’t even go through week one.

In the next semester I look up to having a few more time, and was preparing to do a couple more courses in Coursera. Unfortunately, the interesting courses are now part of paid specializations. My main issue is not on them being paid, but the way they are paid. Coursera works on a subscription basis. Thus, if one doesn’t have full time to listen to the material, study, and perform the evaluation tasks, we need to pay for extra time.

While I agree that subscription makes sense, specially for people with time to do more than one course in parallel, for people with limited time, it is an expensive way of learning. And having limited time does not mean to have a good paying job.

This is my view on Coursera policy right now, and I challenge them to rethink on their approach to their motto: Education for Everyone (that is able to pay).

The Fate of the Furious (2017)

Well, undoubtedly, Fast and Furious is just another franchising, but the last (yeah, the eighth) is just great. Not as an action movie, or as a car movie. But for fun! Really. A gave a lot of bigger laughs with this movie than with some “comedies”. But this sequence shown above, with Jason Statham, is just great. Not just the baby is cute, but Jason is a good enough actor to be cheerful and cute, despite of his “brutality” history on these movie. Hope the quality of this sequence of action/affection can inspire for future movies. Love it.

Linux, 2017!

First of all, please do not read this post as a complain. Just as an analysis. I am a Linux user for decades. I remember using Linux in my first year of University, somewhere about 1996. I never stopped using Linux, in the server, but during some years, somewhere between 2002 and 2017 I was a Mac user for the desktop (one PPC Mac Book, two Intel Mac Book Pro). Back to the beginning of 2017 I needed an update, and decided to go back to Linux. Mostly because of the price of a decent Mac Book Pro when compared with a generic laptop. I decided on a Dell, and without a lot of thinking, decided on a Dell with a 4K display. Well, I had a hard time trying to install a distribution. Tried Mint, Debian and Ubuntu. Curiously, all gave trouble with UEFI boot, but the one that ended up installing a working Linux was Mint Given it is Debian based, I can keep up with the Debian updates, and install most packages available only for Ubuntu.

While I see some applications getting better, from 2002 to 2017, it seems Linux community continues rewriting the wheel. I can’t see any big difference from what I am experiencing today in the desktop with what I was experiencing earlier with Gnome 1. Yes, the code was changed. It might be more stable, faster, support a couple of new things. But it seems we continue rewriting and rewriting the same old applications.

Then there is the issue with a 4K display. Even if GTK3 has support for High DPI screens, a lot of  applications are not written for this toolkit. And I am not sure, at all, that this is something that need to be managed by the graphical toolkit. I still think it is a Xorg issue, where we should be able to define DPIs for each screen, and have the basic low-level tools scale everything. As this is how I see things, I decided today to look to the blog of Xorg. And it doesn’t have news since 2013. As I could read, now most work is done as independent libraries. Nevertheless, it is strange no changes were needed to be done in 4 years.

Also curious that a bunch of applications using node.js are being working great. Examples are GitKraken, Code, Atom, Franz… and even Sublime is working great on 4K (even if it has some other issues). Unfortunately Unity3d is not working properly in 4K, but that looks more like an issue with their own GUI system, than anything else (but then, if Xorg took care of things, maybe it would work great, just like it works acceptably under Windows). But other things, like old Gtk, Xlib, QT or even Java applications still look like needing a microscope to be read.

So, here I am, with a shiny new laptop, deciding to keep Linux, or getting back to.. huh.. windows! Yeah, I do dual boot, but I like Linux for most things. But some aren’t possible As a teacher, I know I will have problems when trying to use a beamer. When connecting an external display, everything will look monstrous. Or I can change the resolution on the built-in screen, go searching the HiDPI switch, turn it of, restart the session for it to be correctly applied, and then use the laptop. Shame.

And yes, I know a lot of this is my fault. If I did not change to Mac, and if like me other hundred of developers didn’t do the same, probably we would have a lot more Linux users, writing and patching these applications. Or we would just end up with a lot of more distributions, a lot more window manager, but with the same main issues.

At last, but not less important, I would like to thank you to everyone that is still working on Linux making it better. I know this is not a paid job. I know you (and I) do what we want, and what makes us happy. That is why this is not a complain text. Just looking to what I see, without pointing any fingers.

 

 

Sim, Chef! (Season 1)

Sim, Chef!

Sim, Chef!

Yep, the first Portuguese series that I comment here, at the end of a season. This is a comedy, a little unrealistic on some points, but lots of fun. Also, it has some nice girls, and show nice food. And I always liked cooking shows, so, why not join them? The only sad thing is that Benedita Pereira’s character reminds me of someone… that does not know of my existence, unless in real need of computer services. Sad!