A day in the game

It’s been a long time since I talked about GuildWars. Well, this is an update:

Today GuildWars entered a “Halloween” special event. Every three hours, Mad King Thorns would appear, make some jokes, ask people do do some emotes and tell some stupid stuff. After each conclude action, you get a “ghost-in-a-box” (a box that makes a ghost appear right in front of up, but disappears after a short time), witch’s brew (a potent alcoholic beverage, turns the screen red and add some waves to the image), absinthe (add some green flames to your char, turn the screen green and add some blur), squash serum (add some pumpkin image around your char head) and transformation tonic (turn your char into a corn candy or something like that). All those tricks took 30 minutes to complete. In the end, you get a pumpkin head if you are in Lion’s Arch and a wicked hat if you are in Kamandan.

Also, all NPCs in Lion’s Arch and Kamandan turned into monsters, pointing it as a joke of Mad King. New NPCs appeared as collectors, changing random items to some of those above items. As I’m trying to get the title of “Drunkyard” by staying drunk for 1000 minutes, and witch’s brew being so strong (just two bottles would make your char drunk). One of those collects wanted just two “glowing hearts”, an item dropped by “fire imps”, who stay just right next to the door to Lion’s Arch.

So, my day consisted of: 30 minutes listening to Mad King and two hours and half running after fire imps, changing glowing hearts into witch’s brew and getting drunk.

Just one problem: Kamandan is a city in the Nightfall series, released recently, which I didn’t have. “Didn’t” because, trying to get the wicked hat, I bought it. Now I own the three parts of the game and can go anywhere in this universe. So far, I can say that the new universe is bigger than the previous installments (anything would be bigger than Cantha, the area of “Factions”). There are two new classes: Paragon, a leader with skills to boost a whole group at once and Dervish, warriors with long scythes. I’ve created a new Derverish and it is really worth: they start with abilities like hitting more than one enemy with just one swing. Oh, and the new campaign has this African/Egyptian theme.

So, that’s it. New pictures soon.

Yeda sugere abatimento de dívida vinculado a redução de déficit

Folha Online:

A governadora eleita do Rio Grande do Sul, Yeda Crusius (PSDB), adiantou nesta segunda-feira que enviará ao Congresso uma sugestão segundo a qual os Estados possam abater o pagamento da dívida com a União à medida que reduzirem seus déficits.

Uma das coisas apontadas pela nova governadora para sua gestão de governo (bom, na verdade, era de praticamente todo mundo) era evitar os calotes dados no governo, aumentando assim a arrecadação e arranjando o dinheiro para aplicar no desenvolvimento do estado. Mas, mesmo antes de assumir o governo, ela já está cogitando dar o calote no governo federal.


Agile methods are good, actually

After reading “just” the introduction of the agile modeling (about 30 pages), I got two feelings: at first, I hated it but later, thinking more about it, I liked it.

First, all “instructions” passed were about how a plan must be flexible, how things should be ignored and that you should consider all information incomplete or incorrect. We all know that’s true on a real world, but that should be not something you should expect: you should always aim to the “perfect” score; when you say “oh, we know it may be incomplete” it would probably be, ’cause that’s expected. When you say “it should be perfect”, then people would aim for perfectness. The annoying part is that what is expected to be incomplete and incorrect is the analyst work; the developer work should be perfect, as it is the final product and what is delivered to the costumer. So, basically, agile methods seem to point that analysts can do wrong, but developers shouldn’t. And, being a developer, I hate this position: it should be expected that everyone involved stay in the table till the end and say, even if just to themselves, “this is my responsibility”. That way, everyone will try to do their best.

Later, thinking more about it, I came with the conclusion that agile methods are, actually, a good thing. When you expect someone to do a poor job, you automatically reduces his/her role in the project; since their responsibility is diminished, their relevance is diminished too. Now, for all those years working in the IT field, I learned that analysts, with a few notable exceptions, really don’t want to be involved; they don’t want to know the whole picture, they care only about their part. I can even remember when I was in college and, talking to future-analysts, a great part of them said learning code was a stupid thing and that analysts should never ever get near any code; classes that talked about code were stupid, futile and useless. The problem is that code is part of the model: if you don’t know how your code works (in, say, a framework or the inherent model of the language), then you can’t get the whole picture and, thus, your model will be incomplete (and it gets into the “agile” idea — which I pointed shows that, knowing it is incomplete, it can be ignored and become irrelevant). What usually happens is that a few developers get the whole picture and became the holders of the whole model, becoming the real pivots of every change in the model, be it a change in the business rules or the algorithms inside the software. In other words, analysts became irrelevant and real developers become the center of the changes, since poor programmers would become just a few peons in the process, easily replaceable.

And that’s what me (an some college ex-colleagues) think about today’s IT world: analysts that don’t carry any responsibility beyond their cubicles and developers that can’t think for themselves. Agile methods actually turn both parties irrelevant leaving the field for the good, interested and capable developers.

[I know it sounds a lot like a rant, but it actually is: after working with several companies, I’m tired of people who can’t see beyond their functions and don’t care about the product they are building.]

Books, BOOKS, BOOKS!!!

Finally, my book collection to the wait is complete. The weekend I bought:

  • Ambler, Scott W. modelagem ágil. Porto Alegre: Bookman, 2004. ISBN: 85-363-0298-4. (Original title: “Agile modeling: effective practices for eXtreme Programming and the Unified Process”, ISBN 0-471-20282-7).
    Yes, I know agile methods suck — at least, everyone I talk to about it says it sucks (and they tell me why it sucks) and the only people that say it doesn’t suck are the people who don’t get their hands dirty — but I want to have the knowledge to say it really sucks (or not);

  • Molinari, Leonardo. Testes de Software: Produzindo sistemas melhores e mais confiáveis. São Paulo: Editora Érica, 2003. ISBN: 85-7194-959-X.
    I know software testing, I know regression tests and I know you should write the test before writing the code, but I really want to put names on what I’m doing.

  • Pilgrim, Mark. Mergulhando no Python: O guia rápido e prático para dominar o Python. Castelo Rio de Janeiro: Alta Books, 2005. (Original title: “Dive into Python”). No ISBN.
    It is the printed version of the online book (available at http://diveintopython.org/), but I think printed versions are easier to read, even more if you in a plane. Also, even if I know python, there are topics like introspection, testing units, functional programming, refactoring, amongst others.

That’s it. I’ll not buy any more books in Brazil for a long time now. :)

Books without movies

You know the history: every time I go to the movies, I have to buy some books later. Today, I got the books without the movie, so I have something to do while I wait for news from the visa and to do in the airplane.

In the fiction scene we have Isaaac Asimov’s “Forward the Foundation” (ISBN 0-553-56507-9) and ” Foundation and Earth” (ISBN 0-553-58757-9) and “Star Trek S.C.E. Book Four: No Surrender” (ISBN 0-7434-6443-5). All those are pocket books.

In the computing scene, I bought

  • “Ruby, Conhecendo a Linguagem” by “Estaqui Rangel de Oliveira Jr” (ISBN 85-7452-261-9); I want to know why so much fuss about it and I would also learn how to do a screencast. :)
  • “Guia de Certificação Linux” by “Marcelo Eiras” and “Nelson Mendonça” (ISBN 85-7452-159-0) ’cause I still want to get my LPI certification;
  • Zero Configuration Networking, the Definitive Guide“, by “Stuart Cheshire” and “Daniel H. Steinberg” (ISBN 0-596-10100-7), to learn something I know they are using on TileFile;
  • and finally “Reversing, Secrets of Reverse Engineering” by “Eldad Eilam” (ISBN-10: 0-7645-7481-7; ISBN-13: 978-0-7645-7481-8), because I was always curious about how you can reverse engineer something (and be worth of using that “Reverse Engineer” t-shirt they sell on ThinkGeek).

Well, lots of things to read till trip

No more free comments

Ok, I got tired of marking comments made in “slowhome.org” as spam. From now on, as it is in LiveJournal, you need to register to post. Think it is absurd? Try to manage a blog where every fricking day you have 5 comments, all spam.

And for you, viagra and penis enlarger sellers, a tip: use your products, get a 40cm dick and shove it into your own ass.

Lack or excess of geniuses?

For a long time, I had this idea that we don’t live in a “new stuff” era. I mean, all the breakthroughs came from the past and we, now, are just living in a “improvement” era: all innovation come from improvements from old stuff, not new stuff that is ground-shaking. Today I watched a special about Einstein that, at the same time, proved and disproved my point.

First of all, let’s take a look at Einstein. He brought several new ideas in physics, almost as breakthoughing as Isaac Newton. His ideas still so important that they are still around and still are some of the most important in physics. You can point that, although they are so important, physics didn’t stop improving; every day something new appears. But they still are important.

The same can go on other areas: Beatles on music, Freud on psychology, and so on. I mean, there wasn’t something so big in music as Beatles or so big in psychology as Freud (well, he created psychology, but no one expanded that much since he appeared).

On the other hand, maybe there are some geniuses that can obscure other, so we don’t see them. Let me show you one example: have you ever heard about Niels Bohr? The probabilities say no, but you probably already heard about quantic physics, right? Well, Bohr didn’t make to the public, but he did had talks with Einstein and quantic is now a big hit on physics, even leading to the string theory, which is the big “new thing” on physics. Again, you can look as an improvement over the relativity theory and quantic physics (and it could be a “new thing” too).

You can say the same thing about Michael Jackson (although his empire appeared in the 80s, when Beatles were going down — but still strong even 10 years after their break up) and, maybe, Jung or someone else. But that names remains as the breakers of ideas: Einstein, Beatles, Freud. You can find names like that in every area, not just physics, music and psychology.

So, in one hand, we have few geniuses from time to time and, on the other hand, we have several geniuses at the same time, with a few appearing over the others.

Mac OS X: Melding Windows and Unix terminology

Take a look at this screenshot: New “Guest Account” feature on the new build of Mac OS X. Now, for those who don’t want to see just another screenshot, here is the words that took my attention:

When a guest user logs out, all information and files in the guest account’s home folder are deleted.

(Emphasis mine). Now, Windows has no concept of “Home” but call directories “folders”; Unix has a “Home” for each user, but call it “home directory”. Mac OS X developers seem to have merge those in one, calling “home folder”.

Success transfer

Today, when Felipe Massa crossed the finish line on first on Formula One, our “default” narrator, Galvao Bueno, came with “Another victory for Brazil! Here, the music you all waited 13 years to hear”. For those unaware of it, the Brazilian television network came, years ago, with a theme song for when one of the Brazilian racers win the race. And that’s what we always heard when Piquet, Senna, Barrichello and now Massa won a race.

But the problem here isn’t the fanfare the TV does when a Brazilian racer win, but the “victory for Brazil”. For a correct situation, it was a victory for Massa. He did the race not “Brazil”. It was his victory, with all the glory and no one else (well, maybe the mechanics at Ferrari too, but that’s implied). That’s what should’ve been said. When someone says “a victory for Brazil”, they are “stealing” the glory of someone and giving it to someone else, without asking the parties if they even agree with that.

The fact that “success transfer” works is that there is someone to receive it without questioning. And that is more visible (at least, to me) on sports: when a soccer match ends, people go to the streets claiming “We won!” as if they were in the field and run for 90 minutes. Why no one says “The team I support won”?

Here, let me offer an answer: a long time ago, I read an article about how we underestimate our own efforts: everything we do is less than good and other people do everything we do a lot better; looking at our stuff with our own eyes, we only see poor works. We never take our own credit for what we do, and it always could be better. At our own eyes, we never fully succeed; full success only happens on other people work. Sports, being highly televised, shows people succeeding on a highly competitive activity; it is the success over someone else failure; a truly victory. And that’s why people transfer their team or racer or whatever success to themselves: to fulfill the lack of success they can’t see in their own lifes. Also, it is a lot easier to take this success when you don’t even have to sweat: just sit down, watch everyone else do the hard work and it is done.

That’s sad. Pretty pretty sad. People should really disconnect from that kind of stuff and look at their own stuff, look what they do and how there is always something they do right and that could be called success. Heck, even if you consider that air is a “liquid” that kills inertia, even moving forward can be considered a kind of success. And we do it every day. Just because everyone else also does it, it doesn’t mean it isn’t worth it.

Maybe that’s another problem: success can’t be archived if everyone else also managed to do it. Full success doesn’t come from other people failures: it comes from the challenges we put inside our heads and, thus, we need to beat ourselves. It is pretty hard to come to this: I was highly competitive all the way in college (“I need to do something better than everyone else in this class”) and, looking at my family history, I saw people succeeding in life while I was stuck in the middle of nowhere. It is pretty devastating when you only compare your work with others: underestimating our work means, inside our heads, we always lose.

Maybe success is just like a Murphy law: the more you want, the less you have. When you stop chasing it and start enjoying the ride, things will go way smoother.