Friday, November 11, 2005

Portfolio -


I just posted a portfolio on-line, check it out.

Let me know if you like or have any suggestions... Hey, who am I kidding? No one reads this.

BTW, I've directed here, for now. Who knows why... but hey, at least it's a cool domain name, and it's all mine to do as I please... MWAHAHAHAHA.

Eu me mato de rir de vez em quando... ugh

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Booking Hotels - Information Overload

I just had to book a hotel. It's pretty crazy down in South Florida right now, apparently many people (are still) evacuated to Hotels. Unfazed by that, I went online to my (ex)favorite website for travel, Orbitz. I really like how they display the results in a really easy to read grid. I thought I had found a good deal for Sunday, but when I entered Saturday and Sunday, they showed me the same hotel for three times as much. Bad. Why can't at least get the same rate I saw for Sunday only?

I then went to some other sites, it's fair to say they at least did not falsely put my hopes up,
then ended up at They actually have some nice features too, like selecting a bunch of hotels and mapping them at once. Their comparison grid though was ridiculous, since there was nothing on any rows for all the hotels I selected. I found a good deal, tried to place the order three times and got errors every time. Three times! I then found another (not so good) deal, and booked that for Sunday only. I wanted Saturday and Sunday, but oh well.

I then get an email confirming my reservation, and another email saying:
"(...)you have already confirmed a reservation
for in for
November for 1 night. Would you like to confirm
this reservation for the for November
for 2 nights as well? Please let us know as soon
as possible."

I thought, hey, maybe the error has been solved, how nice of them to email me. It was even signed by a person. Cool -- not. I emailed them back and after a while they replied:

"I am very sorry, but the is sold
out for the dates requested.

A room is not booked until it comes back with a
confirmation letter. In most cases when we are
waiting on a confirmation we usually get one within 24
hours, so this is why you received that automated

In some instances the hotel does not keep their
information updated in the central system, making it
look like there are rooms available. We also
experience the same frustration when trying to book
rooms and get the same response.

Please try for an alternative
property or different dates."

To their credit, the email was nicely written and did explain the issue, so I'm frustrated but not so mad. Good for them, I will reconsider using their site for that.

It was frustrating, but here's the second part. Not only it was hard to get a reservation on-line, it was very often hard to find the phone numbers for Hotels I was seeing listed as well.

There are so many commercial travel sites that many times it's impossible to find the phone numbers -- since the travel sites want you to book through them they don't post that information. The names of hotels are also often different from what's listed in Yellow Pages, so even those didn't help. I had to resort to -- gulp -- twice -- calling 411 to get numbers. I'll swear again when the bill arrives.

I think this is an example of information overload on the Internet nowadays. The thing has grown so much that even with advanced search engines it is hard to find some information, unless you know where to look -- and you just can't know where to look for each and every thing.

What is one to do? Well... I have some ideas and you might hear more about it in the future... Just remember the name "MetaSurfing" ;-).

Mais uma arvore acaba de cair no meio da Floresta sem ninguem ouvir,

Friday, October 14, 2005

new iPod - Video on Demand

So, corroborrating the rumors flying around, Apple released the new Video iPod. While, like most iPods (except the shuffle, I don't quite grok that one) it is very cool, the capability to watch video on a 2.5 inch screen doesn't excite me very much. I think the main issue is the shift to selling video on-demand over the Internet.

Right now I pay about $60 for sattellite, plus $20 for Globo TV (Brazilian media Overlords). I don't watch about 99% of the shows. What if I could pay for just the shows I actually want, then watch them anytime, from anywhere... That is very cool.

Now, what about ads? I am not gonna want ads on the content I paid for... My guess is you'll start to see a shift towards more product placement. They also might end up sneaking little adsnips (you saw the word here first, fellas!), or 2 to 5 second ads that are just too fast for you to hit the skip button (even if you do, you might skip too much and have to rewind, and end up seeing the ad again!)

On the other hand, I don't think technology is already at a point where High Definition TV can be downloaded all the time. The files would be too big. Maybe bittorrent would help, but it's just too much bandwidth. There's a big push for TV to migrate to HDTV, and when you have had a good HDTV experience it does make you think regular TV sucks. I'd rather watch 24 in High Def over the air, with ads, than download a low picture quality episode.

For more, there's a nice discussion going on at slashdot.

Got stuff to do now...

Ate a proxima

Friday, October 07, 2005

Fed up with Bookmarks

I use Firefox as my main browser. I also use IE and I'm trying Opera again. I'll leave the browser discussion for later... for now I'll just say that if you only use IE, and just because "it's already there", you should reconsider.

One thing I don't like in any of them is the bookmarks. In IE it's just ridiculous. In FF it's ok, but seems a bit slow to me. In Opera I haven't even tried. The main reason is, I want all my bookmarks to be shared between all of them. I want to be able to manage them easily. I also want to be able to back them without digging for locations or functions.

I must have 20 or more bookmark backups, somewhere. Pretty much useless. I don't know where they are, it's hard to find stuff in them, I'd have to import or look in the files...

Here's what I'm doing now. I have a folder called Bookmarks on my desktop. Instead of bookmarking stuff, I just drag-and-drop the URLs from the address bar of the browser to that folder. Then I file stuff in subfolders. To open URLs, I just drag them onto an open browser window.

This technique should pretty much work under any system, Windows, Mac OS X, Linux. It makes it easy to back up bookmarks, you can file multiple copies under multiple folders and most important it just uses built-in well-known systems to create and navigate. No learning curve or 3rd party software needed.

Vou nessa.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Naked Women

Yeah, I confess. I like looking at naked women. It's the animal in me. Whatever.

I came across this link to a daily topless joke video from Playboy (quicktime), and must confess I love it. Not because the jokes are funny (they aren't). Not because of the boobs (ok, maybe a little). But rather because I find it totally unglamorous.

When you look at a picture, there's the composition, the angle, the light, the props, the retouching (a lot of it these days, see some links below) and, probably most important, the viewer's imagination.

The videos here have unflattering lighting, the (fake) boobs move in funny ways, the models voices are... let's say not that pleasant. It leaves less for your imagination. Sure they are very pretty women but they just don't seem as beautiful as in their magazine photos.

Aesthetics are of course relative. I personally like more artistic nudes, some people prefer more raunchy or explicit. I just find it very interesting to see a different depiction of the same models.

Here are some interesting links. I found them when looking up comments on Playboy retouching photos.

Some very interesting digital retouching examples.

Perfect 10 only goes for the "natural" look. Natural seems to be relative though, from their FAQ: "Q: What if I have had a breast reduction or other cosmetic surgery? Can I still be in PERFECT 10 Magazine? A: If you have had a breast reduction, you can still be in PERFECT 10. As for other cosmetic surgery, if it is obvious that you have had your lips done etc., we would probably not shoot you. We tend to go for the natural look."

Enough for now...

First Post - Intro - Podcasts

This is a little tough for me. On one hand I have lots to write about, on the other hand I don't have enough time. I don't even know what language to write in - English, Portuguese, both? Do I want to talk about just anything that comes to mind? Do I want to structure it at all? Will anyone read this, ever?

Oh well... We'll just see how it goes.

Just got an email from a good friend of mine, Marcelo Batalha -- a wonderful singer, poet, blogger and all-around great guy. See his blog "Cinzas de Batalha" here (in Portuguese). He said he doesn't know a thing about podcasts, which in my mind are very close to blogs. So why don't we talk a little about that?

I've gotten into podcasts fairly recently. Apple made it easier by adding it directly to iTunes. Basically a podcast is nothing but an mp3 file with an RSS or Atom feed associated to it. People "subscribe" to a podcast channel and their "podcatcher" software automatically downloads new mp3s when available. The podcasts are then either transferred to an mp3 player like the iPod (thus the name podcast) or can be just played locally with an mp3 player software.

You can go to one of my favorite sites, Wikipedia, for more details on podcasts. We should definitely talk about Wikipedia sometime.

Some people think podcasts are the new "radio". Currently there's that feeling of a newly formed, excited community, as in the early days of the Internet or Blogging. There is podsafe music, licensed under a Creative Commons license so it can be used free of charge. There are plenty of amateur and commercial podcasts now, pretty much about anything. Just as the Web allows anyone to publish a web page, podcasts allow anyone to broadcast radio - all one needs is time, a computer and a microphone. VOIP software like Skype also allows for easy collaboration, even if people are in different locations. So there's plenty of crap, and plenty of good stuff.

The single biggest difference from radio, in my opinion, apart from the possibility of anyone broadcasting is that since a podcast file is downloaded locally, you can "time-shift", or in other words, you can listen to it at any time, fast forward, rewind, replay, etc.

Here's a list of podcasts I like:
TWIT with Leo Laporte - tech news
Engadget - gadgets
Cinecast - movies
Inside the Magic - Disney World
The Secrets - for writers

I'm still trying to find good podcasts in Portuguese. I mean not boring, fairly informative, fairly good sound quality and no breathing on the mike or silly laughing with non-funny jokes all the time. Suggestions are welcome.

So grab the new iTunes, click on podcasts and browse or search. You may find gems, you may find turds, but it should be interesting.

Till next time,
um abraço,

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