Aquarium Blog

Sunday, May 30, 2004

Rory vs. 9 zealots (revised)

I haven't read Rory Blyth's blog for a while, but today I did, and - as I should have expected - I found a true gem:

...I was descended upon by what looked like a roaming band of zombie youth. The tallest one in the group addressed me:

What he said: Hey, there, friend. How are you?
What I said: I'm tired.
What I was thinking: This is going to get weird.

What he said: Tired? That's life, friend.
What I said: Yeah.
What I was thinking: I was right. This is going to get weird.

What he said: Do you see these people I'm with? These are my nine friends here.
What I said: Oh.
What I was thinking: Oh.

What he said: Do you want to know something, friend?
What I said: Yes.
What I was thinking: No.

What he said: Not one of them is worried about being tired. Do you know why?
What I said: No.
What I was thinking: Meth?

What he said: It's because they've all found Jesus, my friend.
What I said: Really.
What I was thinking: Where? At a bus stop? Under the couch cushions while looking for change?

What he said: Have you ever thought about what Jesus could do for you?
What I said: Not much, really. Religion isn't my thing.
What I was thinking: If your god really is omnipotent and omniscient as your people claim, then he's directly responsible for my mother's stroke and the fact that my sister has been deaf since she was about three. If the Lord, or Jesus, or one of their henchmen ever happens to appeareth before me, I just hope that I remember, among the pyrotechnic light show that should accompany any such apparition, to kick God square in the nuts as a "thank you" for services rendered. [Note: If anybody is offended by this, then remember that God in his omnipotence is entirely responsible for my having said what I've just said - this was all God's will.]

What he said: That's OK, bro. I'll be praying for you.
What I said: Thanks. I really appreciate that.
What I was thinking: If you really want to waste your time praying, then could you at least pray for me to win the lottery?

What he said: Been to the pool in the hotel yet? We're all heading there later for a party. You ought to go.
What I said: Awesome.
What I was thinking: Mental note: Avoid the pool at all costs. In case these guys run into me in the elevator later on, then remember to take the cyanide suicide pill kept in the heel of my left shoe.

What he said: Well, good night, brother. I hope to see you at the pool later, and I hope that you'll one day realize what Jesus can do for you.
What I said: Totally.
What I was thinking: Maybe he could do my ironing.

I can really relate to Rory on this.

The inclination some people have to push their beliefs down to other people throats is one of many hints that made me figure out I wanted to get out of religion back when I was a teenager.

It is not to say all religious people behave like this or to affirm that the non-religious don’t. At least my friends that are religious don't ever do this with me, and even my mother gave up already.

But this is definitely a behavior that I found pretty normal and justified when I was into religion, and here is why: They taught me to believe that I knew better than anybody, and that the power of my religion was the knowledge of all those things that were revealed by God and than therefore cannot be questioned.

So, if you are not lazy, and you go out on the streets with the conviction that you know better who is going to stop you of doing this?

Later, after failing miserably many times, I figured out what was wrong. When somebody you don’t know approaches you to tell you he knows your problems, and also their solutions, what is your first thought? Clue: You think that you know exactly what his problem is, and also how to solve it immediately ;)

So my transformation from a religious person to a non-religious person was learning that I didn’t know better. Learning that I could hardly grasp anything, that my knowledge was not even enough for me, so how could it be responsible to tell other people to live according to my faith? I learned I was an ignorant, and ignorance is something that nobody will ever take completely away from me.

It is again an “arrogance equals stupidity” thing.

As I said, I didn't “lost” religion only for this. There were lots of other hints.

Besides, I don't want to begin preaching for atheism, agnosticism or nihilism. For me the whole concept of preaching is wrong.

Sometimes it is hard to remember that I found Rory's blog just because of his Microsoft dittoheadness.

Friday, May 28, 2004

Brian Harry is now blogging

He didn't really need too much encouragment to start ;) Go see what he has to say about Visual Studio Team System.

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Jimaní and Fond Verrettes

Jimaní and Fond Verrettes are two towns in Hispaniola, close to the Dominican - Haitian border. Both were severely affected by the intense raining during the weekend. More than 500 have died because of the floodings, and even more have lost their homes.

I have seen images of packed dead bodies, adults and children, so horrifying that I wouldn't have the guts to publish them here.

Yes, those people died because of a storm, but more than this, they died so terrible deads because they were extremely poor.

I have never wanted to write about political issues here. But sometimes I just feel so tired of this unfair, stupid, fractal iniquity that repeats its pattern all around this world and in every possible scale! Things only change when the ones that have the power to abuse others elect instead to extend their helping hands. And this seldom happens.

Updated Thursday, May 27, 2004 at 14:48:

According to Reuters and The New York Times, the death toll rises to 2000 after the discovery of 1000 bodies in a remote Haitian village called Mapou.

Visual Studio 2005 Team Foundation: Source Code Control and Item Tracking Demo

Happy to hear about Brian Harry again

As almost everybody else, I learned today about the Visual Studio Team System. Great news!

A few minutes ago I found through Wesner Moise's blog this article in Eric Sink's blog (for whom those are not so good news). There I read that Brian Harry is the guy in charge of Hatteras, the new enterprise-class source control system being developed by Microsoft.

All in all I am happy to hear again about Brian Harry. I first heard about him in the good old days of the DOTNET list. He was one of the fine guys from Microsoft that actually cared to answer my naive questions. Then I saw him in one video from MSDN TV, but lately he vanished completely. From time to time I google his name and I only find about his past work. I must say I was a little worried.

Now that he can talk about Hatteras, I hope he will get his own blog soon!

Actually, last time I saw his name was in the source code of a program I needed to recover the admin password of some old VSS database (that was of course mine). His name was part of the seed for the password hashing code ;)

By the way, I hope Eric Sink's business is going to be ok. I think it will.

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

We got different accessibility for property getters and setters in C#!

This is an excerpt from page 89 of the updated "C# Version 2.0 Specification, May 2004" (Am I allowed to do this?):

25.1 Property accessor accessibility
Occasionally, a component design will indicate that a property should have different accessibility for the set accessor and the get accessor. Most commonly, one wishes to allow any code to call the get accessor, but restrict the set accessor to descendant types (protected access) or to types within the same program (internal access). With language extensions specified in this section, it becomes possible to express such designs in C#.

Many asked for this functionality to be part of C# and VB.NET. The usual answer was something like: "The C# Team sees no need for it. We think that two accessors with different accessibility should have different names. The VB.NET Team has decided to follow."

However, they were obviously listening. Maybe they realized that allowing different accessibility for getters and setters leads to less verbose interfaces. I guess it wasn't that hard to implement either.

.NET evolution is in the right hands! I wonder if we are getting this as soon on VB.NET.

Sunday, May 23, 2004

Microsoft Software Assurance Idea

It has been raining for more than 24 hours in Santo Domingo. It has been a good day to play with my son at home and for reading a book I bought yesterday. All in all, it seems to be a good day to tell Microsoft what to do before I go to sleep ;)

I have read that many times lately about Microsoft's Software Assurance customers being dissatisfied for the value they get for their 3-year contracts. This is not to say that Microsoft hasn't done a lot to add value to SA, but people really expected the next version of Windows to be included.

My idea is simple: What if Microsoft gives them free licenses of ISA Server 2004 once the product is ready? Of course this would apply only to companies that don't already own ISA Server 2000 with SA. I have been running ISA Server 2004 beta for some time at my office and I think it is a great product. It is an easy to use, flexible, powerful and high quality firewall product. They are finally getting it really well!

I think that giving it to SA customers would help Microsoft spread the news about their security focus, at the same time it would help fill the gap of SA customer satisfaction.

Ok, just a crazy idea. But, what are blogs for?

New Photoblog

I decided it would be better to have my photoblog separated from my main blog.

My intention is to have this photoblog mostly for keeping family and friends informed, and to help them not miss our son Martín too much.

TO DO: Create separated feeds, comments, and statistics for it, and the modify the template.

Thursday, May 20, 2004

Should you ditch your Microsoft Servers and put Apples instead?

A few days ago I expressed my disagreement with an opinion article I found via OSNews. Later, Jeremy C. Wright commented:

I agree completely. I work at a huge MS shop as well.
Sasser? Non issue. Attachments aren't let in, virus scanning is up to date, the proxy has content and virus scanning...

In reality the only way Sasser could get through is through laptops, and even then it would only get as far as the least protected machine.

Moving to Mac won't solve their real problem: training, knowledge, management.

Today, again through OSNews, I found this:

Mac OS X vulnerable to one-two combo attack | CNET
Apple Computer got hit by a double whammy this week when a security researcher publicized a pair of flaws in Mac OS X that when used together could let attackers place a malicious program on a Mac and then run the file.

I have nothing against Apple. I just think that software is complex business. If you have a company out there that is relying on software (from Microsoft, Apple, Open Source or whatever), remember only a few really know how to get it to work right. Beware of the self called wizards!

Picasa's Hello and BloggerBot Getting Famous

Blogger is now announcing their support for a new way to post pictures to Blogger in Hello, Photoblogging:

Did someone order unlimited photo hosting and an easy way to send pictures to a blog? Hello, Photoblogging should get you started. Oh, and that's on the house.

By the way the My profile picture is now hosted on Blogger servers through Hello.

Congratulations Lorna and Mike!

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Google Search: Diego Vega

I have just noticed that another Diego Vega, the Colombian composer, and even Luis Diego Vega, a Family Therapist, have displaced me from the first place in my favorite Google search. Well, it was nice while it lasted.

Anyway, they deserve it. I don't have any master's degree and even if I have composed some music in the past, I have never been famous for it beyond my closer friends circle.

The Skeptic's Dictionary

I am adding this link to my desktop (kind of adding this book to my library). I found it by accident, but I think it is one of the most wonderful things I have found in the web.

- Look at what it says about Myers-Briggs Test!

- And about The Indigo Children!

- And about the relationship between IQ and race!

Wow, now if I could only find a dictionary for pessimists! ;)

Monday, May 17, 2004

Favorite Sport: Bashing Microsoft

I have just found this article: The Apple of the Enterprise's Eye on OSNews. It is about what Apple has to offer in the enterprise market. What I want to comment about is not the main subject of the article but the fun way the author bashes Microsoft:

My employer, a globe-spanning technology company with hundreds of thousands of employees, spent the last two weeks in fire-fighting mode, trying to stamp out traces of problems caused by the Sasser worm. Our networks were barely usable, internal servers were inoperable, and even as I write this some critical services are still on the blink.

I am currently participating in a project costing the company over $1 million (trust me, that's not as impressive as that sounds), and with the short timeline that's been imposed, the last two weeks' outages have been a disaster; there's now no way we'll make deadline, and that's going to cost the company money.

This isn't the first time that those widely-publicized Windows security issues have bitten this company. When you think of both man-hours trying to fix the problem, and the combined loss of productivity in a company this size, the cost must be amazing. So the question must be asked: how can this company -- indeed, any large corporation -- rationally choose to support a Windows infrastructure?

When this guy talks about the company he works for, the budget of his project, etc., he does makes it sound pretty impressive. I guess such a company should also have a good training budget for its IT department. If they have a big and spanning Windows infrastructure, they must be using the right management tools.

Then how is it that they could not stop the Sasser worm? If I were in charge, I would probably fire them all before I bite the cyanide pill myself.

Don't take me wrong. I think Microsoft MUST solve their problems and that is to make a default and unmanaged Windows environment a very safe place to be. But this is taking time and even when they finish (for instance, they ship XP SP2 and 2K3 SP1) we will still see people writing new worms for many platforms. In the meanwhile, this kind of religious bashing contributes nothing.

Well, this is not the first, and it won't be the last time I hear this kind of rhetoric from people in the IT business. This guy seems not to be the case, but I can say that most times it comes from guys whose only Microsoft experience is using Windows Me (ouch!) at home.

Sunday, May 16, 2004

Before on the web than on TV: Dominican Republic Elections 2004

Here are the first published national results (with 2.93% of the voting centers processed).


Updated May 17, 2004, 12:54 AM:

Results with 12.7% of the voting centers proccessed:


Updated May 18, 2004, 11:17 PM:

Results with 100% of the voting centers proccessed:


And it wasn't that easy.

Componentized Windows

I found this article entitled "Microsoft Plans To Go 'Modular' With Longhorn" in Microsoft-Watch. There are two things that surprise me in the article: First, Windows XP Embedded is not mentioned. Second, Mary Jo Foley doesn't link to this article in which Paul Thurrott's has published much of the same information months ago (Paul updated the article with new information on April, but I read it months before and I remember almost everything was already there).

Much effort has been put in creating highly differentiated versions of Windows. Just counting every server, client, 32 bits, 64 bits, 64 bit extended, and localized SKUs has become a nightmare. I am glad that Microsoft is maneuvering in search of the simplicity of a componentized Windows. I just wish they struggled more to create a really striped down version of Windows that could run in older hardware and still be able to deliver all the security improvements of XP SP2 and the richness of the .NET runtime.

Friday, May 14, 2004

The reason we cannot use BloggerBot to upload our profile picture

I earlier began using Hello to post pictures to my blog. I learned that it publishes pictures in a Blogger owned server, in my case at least, Then I found that even if you delete the post in which you included the picture, the picture stays in the server. I cannot find as of yet a way to delete it.

Then, and because I am not satisfied with my free Brinkster account (it fails to download at least 20% of the times), I though would be the best place to host my profile picture, but it didn't work.

This is what I think it is happening:

1. When I try to update my profile, Profile Manager changes case of the URL field before testing if it can download the picture. I think it converts the URL to upper case.
2. It tests the URL against the server which is running thttpd which in turns is "extremely case sensitive".

If I am right, you cannot solve the problem by changing the picture name yourself to upper case because Profile Manager changes even the /img directory the URL to upper case.

Updated on Friday, May 14, 2004, 9:40 AM:

Mike, from the Picasa support forums answers me:

Yes, in fact all UNIX-based webservers are case-sensitive (because the filesystem is!) In a URL, the only thing you should rely on to not be case sensitive is the domain name. It doesn't have much to do with thttpd; you'd find the same thing with Apache.

We'll look into this bug and see if there's a fix on our end...we've been talking about forcing all extensions to ".jpg" to avoid these kinds of problems.


How embarrassing it is to have to admit I have no experience in UNIX-based HTTP servers! Anyway, I know UNIX file systems are case sesitive, and I know UNIX-based web servers are case sensitive. I just failed to use my knowdledge because I don't have to deal with this stuff everyday.

I don't think Mike will find a solution on the Picasa side, as Blogger's Profile Manager is also uppercasing the /IMG part or the URL, which Picassa cannot change.

Blogger should solve this, as it is also failing on other UNIX-based web servers out there. I know because I tried uploading my profile picture to my old web server before opening my account in

Updated on Thursday, May 20, 2004, 10:05 AM:

It is working normaly now. My profile picture is hosted in Blogger, and published trough Hello.

BBC NEWS | Entertainment | Film | Film deal for 'Baghdad blogger'

I wish I could send my contratulations to Salam Pax. It is a shame that this chapter of history is not over yet, however.

Thursday, May 13, 2004

Family picture

My profile picture comes from this photo. It was taken on March 7th, 2004, in the community of Los Calabazos, Dominican Republic. From left to right, Adriana, Martín, and me. Oh yes, you can find cold places in the Dominican Republic, but you must go to the mountains.

I had no idea I could publish pictures in Blogger using this Hello software. It is made by a company called Picasa, and it looks very high quality so far. To publish pictures to Blogger it uses BloggerBot, which in turn seems to use standard Blogger APIs.

What is not standard about this program is that Picasa made some deal with Google, so Blogger provides the image hosting even for users of the free Blogger services.

The only glitch so far is I cannot find a way to delete a picture I sent by mistake from Not that I worry about 150 KB.

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Should I blog in Spanish?

If I remember well, first time I saw Figuraciones it didn't have a comments facility, and Juan Alberto was by then bloging anonymously (I might be wrong, though). I remember I mentioned in my own blog how cool it was to find it to me, and how I was able to guess a lot about this guy just from the name of his blog and from reading a few entries. By the same time I found other cool blogs in Spanish, some of then written by other Argentineans, like Resacas.

There is no question I relate deeply to the culture in which blogs like those grow and flourish. But it is not less true that I also relate to other people like the Microsoft bloggers I read (by the way I found through Orkut that Don Box and Omri are Robert Fripp fans!).

There is no question, either, that I have some unresolved issues with my own national identity. I am both proud and ashamed of being Argentinean.

I still think it was a good thing to start bloging in English. I could not have had a greater chance to practice my writing skills. So I intend to continue writing in English in this blog.

However, if I could found the time and energy, I would probably create a separate blog in Spanish. I could never write such cool things as others in any language, anyway.

So guys, you are all my heroes, and I intend to keep being as eclectic as I can.

Monday, May 10, 2004

BBspot - Motorists Alarmed by Increasing Size of Pedestrians

This is too hilarious. I found it through John Montgomery's weblog. My favorite paragraph is:

European drivers face even greater danger from gigantic pedestrians as the average car is ten times smaller than those in the United States. 'I've actually started avoiding pedestrians,' said German driver Hans Gruber.

Blogger was relaunched, Blogging from Aquarium was relaunched too

Yesterday Blogger was relaunched. Within a day I wanted to do the same, by trying one of the new default templates. I don't know a lot about design, but I think I can recognize when something is well designed. Hope you like it.

Blogger has now nice new features, but it is still not the complete experience, so I had to do some adaptations. I did it by copying both my old template and the new template to text files and comparing. It is still probably not working completely, so if you see any bug or if you see some old functionality that is not included, please, drop me a comment.

So far I like the new Blogger. The only glitch I found was when trying the "post pages" feature. Republishing the entire blog using "post pages" often gets in a retry loop and timeouts, perhaps due some database related problem.

Sunday, May 09, 2004

Peter's petition to improve Hotmail (and my own takes)

Peter asked me to join his petition. Despite his somewhat extreme rhetoric, I think he is right. Hotmail needs more improvement than just a face lift.

Regarding the frame thing, I would like to hear the counter arguments, but unless there is an obscure security reason I cannot figure out, I think it is ok to ask the frame out.

But I am more interested in other challenges Hotmail faces. Because of GMail, Hotmail will need 1 GB really soon. I have no clue how are they going to do this, but they will have to find out some kind of magic.

Storage limits in both free and paid Hotmail accounts are being rendered obsolete by the competition.

Same could be said about MSN groups storage. I am lucky and I have 30 MB from the old days, but this is nothing for digital photography.

Back to the short term stuff, I already complained about JavaScript links in the last Hotmail redesign. By accident, or not, that got corrected in a few days after my most. Message links were changed back to simple hypertext links. But a few days ago I noticed the nasty JavaScript links are back. I don't know why they need them to be JavaScript links. They don't work when I shift-click to open the message in a new window, which for me is very inconvenient.

Lost in Orkut

A few days ago Peter Caputa sent me an invitation to join Orkut. Thanks Pete, that was super cool! I have been curious about social networks since some bloggers I ussually read began "bitching" about it.

Actually I found that Robert had already added me to his friends list, but I never received his invitation.

So far Orkut is so exciting that it made me stop blogging in my spare time. It must be because all of the geek celebrities that are inside, and the weird feeling of community. Although, it is a metalic cold feeling of comunity, it is not worse than what the Internet was ten years ago.

I am still trying to grasp Orkutiquette. For instance, if I have exchanged some messages in an email list with somebody like Omri, should I ask him to count me among his friends? I have no clue. I keep people I admire, like him, in my bookmarks, but I am too shy to try something more risky.

Can't be

Grammar God!
You are a GRAMMAR GOD!

If your mission in life is not already to
preserve the English tongue, it should be.
Congratulations and thank you!

How grammatically sound are you?
brought to you by Quizilla