Red Sparrow (2018)

Jennifer Lawrence @ Red Sparrow
Jennifer Lawrence @ Red Sparrow

For some time that I did not watch a movie. And this is something I am ashamed of, but when I downloaded Red Sparrow I was expecting a Marvel movie. Sorry, I am no big fan of the comic books, and some of the character names are unknown for me. Well, guess what, no, it wasn’t. And I am not sure what this movie is. If a drama, if action, horror or just some kind of erotic movie. Anyway, it mostly fails on all of them. For drama, it doesn’t make anybody in tears, even with all the violence. For action, it lacks real action. For horror, it has too many boring parts. For erotic, it has too much violence.

It is not a bad movie. You can watch it without getting bored, even if some scenes are slow and lacking interest. But for other scenes, you want turn around and ask, is the violence over yet?

In any case, voted 7 in 10 @ IMDB.

Modern Family (Season 9)

Ariel Winter @ Modern Family
Ariel Winter @ Modern Family

One more season of Modern Family is over. Some good episodes, some pretty bad. Example of the bad is the season finale. If that is what they have to make the audience wait for the next season, the series is condemned. If I will continue watching it, probably yes. Why? Because I know it is not restricted to the season finale, and there are some good episodes. Also, because I am stunned how much Ariel Winter has grown in the last years, and how cute geek her character is. Just sad her role in the season is rarely central.

The Big Bang Theory (Season 11)

Amy @ TBBT
Amy @ TBBT

Eleven seasons. A lot of episodes. And finally Sheldon gets married. Well, will not talk much about the story. Things continue much like in the previous ten seasons. But the story evolves, and jokes keep mainly at the same level. Not bad for so many years of life. Anyway, usually I would add a screenshot with Kaley Cuoco, for this time I preferred to put this scene, as it reminds of me. When I have something in mind I almost forget everything else to try my approach/task/solution.

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).