Category: complains

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?


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.

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).

IGI Global: the clown of scientific publishing?

I am not sure how I agreed to write a chapter for a book to be published in IGI Global. Probably, being edited by a friend that invited me personally to send a proposal made the difference.

I have my contribution ready, but starting to think on just forgetting it. Why? Because IGI Global is, surely, kidding with me. They have a set of rules for their contributions, and somewhere in the middle, they say, and I quote:


LaTex. LaTex files are NOT accepted because they are not compatible with IGI Global’s typesetting program. As an alternative, we require that you use MathType (see “Equations” below).

First, dear IGI, when not possible to use the fancy form of LaTeX, the latest X should be in uppercase. Second, if hey are not compatible with your typesetting program, that is probably because you are using the wrong typesetting program. And, no, LaTeX is not useful only for math. Please learn what LaTeX is, try to use it, then evaluate how it can be useful or not for your editorial requirements.

Third (or fourth, I think I will stop counting), look to other publishing houses. Who are your adversaries? Springer, probably. Do you know they use LaTeX? Yeah, they do! And they create good quality document. Of course they do, they use LaTeX. And no, I have an IGI book, and no, your books does not have typesetting quality. I am sorry.

Finally, because I have some hours to lose formatting the chapter, if you want us to use Microsoft Word, please create a template in Word. Do you know what that is? You know how it can be useful? Do you? I am sure you don’t.


Dotcloud and Perl Versions

Today I waste all my afternoon trying to solve a problem with Perl versions and DotCloud. I say I wasted the afternoon because I could not solve the issue during the afternoon, only in the beginning of the night.

Enough complain, and let me explain what was going on. Yes, this post is a little as a complain to the DotCloud tech guys, but also as a guide to someone that stumble in a similar situation.

I had a service running with Dancer. It worked, it connected perfectly to the database. Next step was to set up a cron job to fetch some data from the Web. I added its dependencies in the Makefile.PL file for the website, and hoped that the deploy system would install them. But the cron job continued failing. I tried to force its installation, but the deploy system said it was up to date. Something wrong was going on. I forced a little more the installation, adding the URL to the module tarball. This way the deploy system could not guess its version, and therefore, would install the module anyway. It worked, but the deploy system continued complaining about other and other module.

It got stranger when the cron job complained about the lack of the DBI module. Hey, how can it be, if the website is running and using it? Well, DBI is based on C code, so probably I am missing to include a sub-folder of the local module installation. And then, it got clearer: the cron job complained that the version of could not be loaded into Perl because of unresolved symbols. Aha! Then, there are two Perl versions.

And indeed, the web application was running Perl 5.14.x (I requested it on my DotCloud configuration file) and the Perl used by the cron job was Perl 5.10.x. Basically, DotCloud folks keep the system Perl, and install custom Perl versions under /opt/perl5, and creates some symlinks there, so that /opt/perl5/perls/current points to the Perl version requested.

So, the solution is to make the cron job use the correct Perl version. In my case I set the full path, but you could change the PATH environment variable in your .bashrc-like file.

This wasn’t that hard, but it was quite time consuming, because deploys take some time. Probably I could get faster if I remembered to test Perl versions right ahead, but I forgot to.

I suggest DotCloud guys to do one of two things: or document this in the same doc where it is explained how to request a specific Perl version, or fix the damn environment so that cron jobs and other code uses the same Perl version as the one requested by the system.

Google Docs: Presentation

Some time ago Google Docs (gdocs for short) was advertising their new presentation editor. Yesterday and today I decided to prepare two small presentations for a mini-meeting tomorrow, and use gdocs for that. The editor is not anything extraordinary, mostly a pair of text areas where one can write the slides content. As my slides are mostly items on lists, this is enough. I got in the end happy with my prepared presentation.

It all was fine if I didn’t want to export the presentation to PDF, so I can get it in a flash drive and use it during the meeting. Unfortunately gdocs presentation export system is completely broken.

First, let’s see how a slide appears in the online editor:

And this is how this same slide looks in the exported PDF document:

Cute, huh?

Mac OS X Lion – First Impressions

I am using Max OS X Lion for two days, in fact, for two partial days, and I have a lot of complains already. It is typical of me. And, please, do not comment that it is my fault as I bought a Mac. That I know already.

Ok, first complain, now the Mac OS X installation procedure doesn’t let the user customize the installation. Why is this bad? Because in Leopard we could save about 1GB of space choosing the software to install (disabling GarageBand, disabling I18N stuff, etc.). Now, it doesn’t make any questions.

Then, to download XCode you need to use AppStore. Ok, sure. But why do you need a credit card to register if XCode is for free? Just to have a card to charge if anything goes wrong? Not sure. I would say it is incompetence. Any way, thanks to Portuguese MBNet system, I created a virtual VISA card with 5 euro plafond. Should be enough for a free download. Then, XCode took about 5 hours do download. Downloaded MacTeX that takes more space than XCode, and it got here faster. Anyway, after the download complete, App Store says that XCode is installed.

Is it? Well, no, it isn’t. Try to run ‘gcc’ in the command line, and you’ll not have an answer. Before thinking that the download failed, and you need another 5 hours of download, learn the most important thing on using a Mac: do not trust him. He didn’t install XCode. It would be too fast. He downloaded the installer and… installed the installer. Yes, go to the Applications folder and you’ll have there the XCode installer.

And now, it goes for another complain: Xcode installation is not possible to customize, again. Why this is bad? Because I could save some more MB of space. Why this freaking idea of saving disk? Because I am running in a 128 GB SSD and I have pr0n that is more important than some freaking software XCode installs (ok, kidding about the pr0n).

Oh, after running the XCode installation command, do not forget to download it. Yes, you have 1.5 GB of disk space in your Applications folder, that is an installer. And why the fuck would you put an installer there? Well, because you are from Apple…

The world has 13 countries…


Activision World Map Fail

Activision World Map Fail

Activision developers (web site developers) need some geography classes. First, here isn’t a country named “Asia Pacific”, second, there are much more than 13 countries in the world. I refused to click on any of these buttons. Some websites add a “rest of the world” or “rest of Europe” button. That is bad already, but at least I feel that somebody though on me. Now, with this… Should I check Spain? But we are independent for some hundred years. Choose UK because of the language? But then I might choose United States. But then, is this just a language issue, or the website content will also differ?

Calibre developer shows lack of interest

A friend lent me a Kindle DX. I installed Calibre to perform some simple conversion from .epub format to .mobi format. My first experiment was with the Open Dictionary for Portuguese (Dicionário-Aberto). This dictionary takes 5MB on ePub format. Let me remember you that ePub is a zipped format. It, after unzip, takes 25 MB. The dictionary is pure text.

The conversion from ePub to Mobi took about 45 minutes. That’s not a problem. But took more than 1.9 Gigabytes of disk space. Yes, you are reading the unities correctly. I found this value kind of absurd and though that, although not a relevant thing to fix right now, it would be interesting to investigate why it takes so much disk. By the way, the final Mobi file is around 15MB.

I’ve opened a ticket on Calibre, marked it a wishlist: find out why Calibre takes so much disk space performing a simple format conversion. I did not ask for it to be fixed. I did not complain. Just said it took that disk space, and added a pointer to the file that I used.

I was expecting the developer to be intrigued about this. But unfortunately he shown to be stupid. Sorry, I know this is a hard word, but it is the only explanation I have to this answer:

How much space it takes is how much space it takes. I have no interest in optimizing disk space usage.

Note that I wasn’t expecting a fix right away. An answer stating the there is a to-do list with more important things, would be OK. But closing the ticket with a wont fix made me delete the application from the disk. Would prefer to develop my own conversion tool than to know I would be using this guy software.

Amazon is needing a calendar…

Status of my order at amazon, screen shotted 14 September.

Status of my order at amazon, screen shotted 14 September.

I think the image caption is enough to explain this Amazon ( fail. Books ordered on last Friday. They should be dispatched soon, probably on 13th September. It is just a shame today is 14th September, and they are still estimated for.. yesterday.