Category: complains

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 DBI.so 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 (.co.uk) 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.

Map-Reduce, or why I hate software patents.

In the recent times you should be hearing a lot on map-reduce. I first heard of the term in last year Codebits. Although I wasn’t there, there was a talk with that title. I confess that knowing that map and reduce are common functional operators on different programming languages, I did not look to the talk abstract. During this year Yet Another Perl Workshop Europe, in Pisa, I saw a book on Hadoop, asked what it was about to a friend that wanted to buy it, and he said: a framework to implement Map-Reduce.
 
That made me think.. wait.. this should be the name of something different from what I though it was. Looking deeper I understood the concept. Googling, I found Google filled the patent request in 2004, and patented it in 2010. Found also that I used that construct in 2007, and documented it on my PhD thesis in 2008. Of course I did not call it Map-Reduce. In fact I did not call it anything fancy. It was just a way to get to results. Named it as my “divide and conquer approach”. And I did not heard of Google approach as well. I just got to it because I needed some results.
 
So, this is yet another reason why I hate software patents.

Google Indexes TTL

I really would like to know what is the time to live (TTL) of Google indexes. This blog of me changed design and back end in July (OK, end of July). We are in the beginning of February. Being a nice boy, this counts as six months.

And, after six months, I still have lots of lots of missed hits to posts that were published in the old engine and that are, yet, live in Google servers. What I need to do to make Google update their indexes and remove all this crap from there?

Papers for Mac OS X is SHIT

papers-drawnI hate stupid software. I really hate it. Specially stupid software that doesn’t have a rollback mechanism for their faults.

Installed Papers demo version to try to manage papers. The application seems interesting and is not too expensive. I really thought on buying it. But now I do not intend to.

During first use, Papers asks if it should move the PDF files to its own library and rename them. That is the usual thing for iTunes and, why not, for papers. There, option chosen.

When using the application, I choose to import PDF files. The application opened a search window that says nothing more than if I want to use OAI indexing mechanisms or not. It doesn’t specify what kind of target it is expecting.

I choose a PDF file. I clicked on it. It was sitting on my desktop. Pressed “import”. Papers imported more than 500 PDF files that were sitting in sub-folders of the Desktop folder. Note, I did a click on a PDF file. Not in the directory. The windows did not say what it was expecting.

Now I have 500 pdf files to open, rename, and move.

Thanks for nothing.