Maybe back here again?

I’ve been going through a phase of challenging myself to do things that I haven’t been doing often and, oddly enough, it has been working pretty well. I’ve been going to the gym twice a week (well, it’s been a week now that I haven’t gone, but it’s because I decided to hurt myself doing something yet unknown, probably gym-related), work on core strength, improve the health of my back, read more books and scientific articles, and work on projects at home.

I think the main trick that I’ve bee using is based on the following logic:

  1. Keep things simple and consistent
  2. Set recurring goals with some level of adjustment
  3. Track them (I’m using both a to-do list with fairly powerful capabilities for setting recurring to-dos, Todoist; and a web-based database, Airtable)
  4. Compensate for work done – basically I get to watch 2 hours of some TV show/movie for every hour that I go to the gym for

Unfortunately I still have more things that I want to change! Things are right now very inward-focused (either just me, or my immediate family, or my work). The next step is to expand my horizons, make sure that I don’t forget important friendships. I just need to figure out how to keep to the same logic and accomplish those things. Challenges are exciting!

Anyway, what does that have to do with blogging? We’ll see… I’m actually working now on a company that is not very strict about what I can write about and what I can’t, like Amazon was, so that’s one of my outward-focused things that I’ll try to cultivate. First thing probably will be a blog post about being away from Amazon for 6 months and how that feels. Soon!

The amazing power of Comcast

A week ago or so I received a robo call from Comcast/Xfinity saying that my current cable modem as too old and it will not support the speed improvements that they were doing with their network. But I was eligible for a free upgrade and I had to reply to some mail that I was going to receive or go to some website for more information.

When you receive a message implying that my internet could be faster, of course I complied and requested a new cable modem. And that cable modem arrived yesterday.

Before I installed it, I decided to do a speed check and then compare with the speed of the new modem. Surprise: nothing changed! I still have 30Mbps down and 6Mbps up after installing the new modem (which, by the way, is about double the size of the old one). So, besides the size, what is new? A couple of “Trojan Horse” things:

  1. Support for their phone service: if I decide to use the Xfinity phone service, I don’t need a new box, they just need to activate it and I connect a phone to the back of it and I’m good to go.
  2. Expansion of their “free” WiFi system: basically everybody that has their router receive the ability to have an “xfinitywifi” network. I actually don’t care too much about it. I do believe that they could have gotten the technology right and create an isolated network that does not use the same IP that I have and will not affect my bandwidth much. My concern with it is:
    1. It adds even more WiFi networks around me – see the list below
    2. It’s not trivial to turn it off. I can’t even turn off the WiFi that comes with it to use internally. I already have WiFi at home and I spent a lot of time having to expand my network to put the WiFi in a place that the whole house is able to work, and that’s not anywhere close to where the cable modem is.

Thanks, Comcast…

Thinking of the new Squarespace 7

It’s actually interesting what is going on with user interfaces… Basically little by little, everything migrates to WYSIWYG-style. Squarespace 6 was a step in that direction but created a very strange environment in which you could edit the site “inline” or on a different UI. And some things would be editable in one place, others in another (e.g. sidebars would be configured in one place (show/hide/left-right), and populated in another). It was very strange, but, at the same time, it would make it cleaner to see the preview without a lot of menus appearing when you mouse over things, etc.

Now Squarespace moved to their version 7 and pretty much got rid of the non-inline editing mode. Now all my edits happen directly on the preview. It’s pretty cool as a technology, but it does bring an interesting set of challenges. For example, on the SJC website if I hover on the menu on top in edit mode, there is an overlay of “Navigation | Edit” that actually covers part of my menu! Also sometimes my mouse is hovering on something and I don’t notice and suddenly there is “extra content” on my page that I didn’t expect.

But it does streamline editing. I haven’t played with it that much, but I think it’s a step on the right direction. The most important thing that they did right this time, that they couldn’t do with the Squarepace 5 to 6 transition is that it’s a feature that I can turn on for my website and not a matter of redoing the whole website as they required for the previous transition. Great job, Squarespace!

New year!

It’s now 5775, huh? That’s amazing how an year can go by that quickly. 5776 was an amazing year. A lot of stress, a lot of learning, a lot of changes. 5775 is likely to be completely different from any other year. Work will still be there and still be busy. Outside that, nothing will stay the same. But that’s a good thing! Looking forward to it.

Besides that, I don’t really have anything new to report. A lot of ideas going through my head right now, but no way to actually act on any of them. It’s probably the sleep deprivation causing my brain to go into an overdrive of sorts. Probably they are all really bad ideas, which is something that also happens when you are sleep-deprived. Anyway, Shanah Tovah everybody! And ready for a week of reflecting about my past year. I think this one is going to be easier than the last couple.

Funny blog comment spam

Apparently I still have old blogs laying around out there that allow people to spam the comments. Most of the time those spam messages are boring. I get things like “I really like your post. You should check my blog”. But this one, while in the same class, was funny because of a number of things. Before I enumerate them, though, let me paste the comment (links removed to not drive people to and from their site, as I don’t know what it is):

 

Thai recipes commented on Challenged by real-world ontologies – recipes

One of my apparently never-ending projects that I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about lately is how to build a system to …

Have you ever thought about creating an ebook or guest authoring on other blogs?
I have a blog based on the same topics yoou discuss and would love tto have you share some stories/information. I know
my readers would apprecioate yiur work. If you’re even remotely interested, feel free to shoott me an e mail.

So, what makes it funny in my opinion:

  1. Spelling: if you want to try to get somebody to guest author in your blog, or something like that, make sure you are a good writer so that people want to be “seen” with your posts.
  2. Topic: my blog post is about ontologies about recipes and not recipes themselves. The “person” that commented comes from a blog called “Thai recipes”, which doesn’t seem to be very related.
  3. Lack of specificity: if you are trying to convince somebody to join you, you should be a little bit more specific what you think can be the help on both directions.
  4. ebook? I didn’t get the reference to writing one. Why would I be flattered if somebody asks me if I want to create an ebook?

Anyway, I don’t even know my password to access that blog anymore (probably I could recover it if I really wanted to), so I don’t plan on doing anything else about it.

I should get back to thinking about recipe ontologies, thought. It was a great source of entertainment. I just need to first get to having time. Today I did have time, but was spent dealing with my backlog at work from my 3-week paternity leave/vacation.

I’m a father now, huh?

My first son, Elan, was born last week, on the 11th of August at 2:51 in the morning. Everything went well, even though it was a pretty long process. And now I’m a father!

It’s an interesting transition. You get 9 months of heads-up and you try to prepare yourself, but in the end the preparations end up being only physical (buy most of the things that you need – there is always something that you forget, fortunately all minor), and theoretical (I think I’m ready because I think I can delay my projects, or do less of some things so that I have more time for him). But only when he is actually born you realize that there is a practical side to this. Yes, it’s hard to do anything else (well, at least for now that he is very inconsistent on how much he sleeps and when he will decide to do things). And because I’m not taking the brunt of the work, as I don’t have to do the feeding itself, the rest of my time is to make sure that the other people, especially my wife, are well taken care of. Also, with my parents in town for another week or so, there is some extra work that I need to do to make sure that more people are being taken care of.

But how are things going in practice? Actually pretty well. I’m not as affected by having broken up sleep, so that part has been alright. And he does sleep in 2 hour chunks all the way through the night which is good (except for last night, but the exception proves the rule).

Changing diapers is not too bad yet. Things are not too smelly or terrible-looking. They can be explosive and I’ve seen multiple events of “spontaneous water fountains”, but nothing that I’ve been too disgusted or annoyed by yet. Having a Brit Mila does add some extra effort on diaper changing, but that’s temporary.

So in general things have been good. I’m sane and people here are generally happy, so on with it and let’s wait until I can start to tell things that he likes and doesn’t like. Right now, he likes to feed and doesn’t like to be cold. Easy.

Owning michelgoldstein.com

So I just bought michelgoldstein.com mostly because it was available. The problem is that I don’t know exactly what I want to do about it. Right now it points to this website. Three options go through my mind, in order of amount of work required:

  1. Do nothing (i.e. let it continue just pointing to this website)
  2. Move this website there and kill movingdownstream.com
  3. Create a whole new website that is more focused on personal things (basically this website) and transform movingdownstream.com into something else (like a projects blog)
  4. Transform michelgoldstein.com into a disambiguation page for all Michel Goldsteins out there. I “know” one (that added me as his friend on Facebook just randomly) and I know others exist out there.

What I really want to do is #3, but the problem is that I don’t think people really care about something like that. I’ll spend a good amount of time working on it and in the end I won’t get any other Michel Goldstein to actually be interested in being listed there.

Anyway, as I mentioned in the previous post, probably I won’t have time to think about it for a few months. Maybe after that time I’ll have a better idea of what to do with it.

Life happens

It’s funny that the last post was on a 2013 retrospective.

Anyway, lots of things this year so far. But the most important is the very soon life will be much changed. It’s hard to quantify what “very soon” means here, but it’s very likely in less than a week, and could even be today. Am I ready for it? Nah, but I guess I’m almost as ready as I could be.

What’s next after this? What about my projects that have been mostly abandoned anyway? Well, they certainly won’t see much difference for some time. But my hope is that this transition will make me be home more, and by being home more, I’ll do my projects more. Not for the next few months, but after that (if work doesn’t ramp up being crazy again).

Talking about work, how is that doing, you might be wondering. It’s all going well. Still excited about what I’m building, but still building something I can’t talk about. I’m interviewing a lot also as my team is still growing. I’m going through bar raiser training too, which makes me be involved even more on interviewing. Always reasons to learn new things.

Hope to be here more!

2013 Retrospective

I don’t know if I’m really ready for a 2013 retrospective… It has been a very interesting year, indeed. At the same time, not a lot of “resolutions” happened. So it feels like a year that lacked achievement. And that takes us to theme 1:

Theme 1: effort, but unresolved achievements

One thing it didn’t lack was effort. I’ve worked hard for those “non-resolved achievements” and they are still underway. I’m still working on a secret project at Amazon that hasn’t launched yet. I can’t really talk about when it’s supposed to launch (even if I knew that answer), but I can say that we are working hard on it and the team is still growing.

Now that we’ve gone through theme one, even if very vague and hand-wavy, let’s move on.

Theme 2: board games

This year I played and bought a lot of board games. But that trend did fizzle out towards the end of the year, as some internal intrigue started happening with my gaming group. But I did play a lot of really interesting games. Hard to list them all, though… So I’ll leave some highlights of games I’ve played more than once:

  • King of Tokyo: easy to play, a little too luck-driven for my taste. Always fun, though.
  • Ticket to Ride: well, I had to add this one as it’s pretty much the only game that I’ve been able to play lately with Amy. It’s fun, though. There is some luck involved, but strategy and being able to read your opponent’s goals sometimes helps on offsetting that luck component. Does play better with more than 2 players, which is something I don’t have a lot of opportunity to do.

There are a lot of games that I’ve played only once and I wished I had played more, like Guildhall, Flash Point, X-wing… And some games that I bought and I haven’t played yet.

Another game-related thing that I did was organizing a Magic: The Gathering tournament at work. It was quite a lot of fun, even though attendance was lower than I was hoping for.

Theme 3: tech news

Well, that’s my industry, but I have to admit that this year I was paying more attention to what was happening in the tech world than around the rest of the world. Multiple times I was surprised by people asking me if I had seen what happened in some place in the world and I had no idea what they were talking about. Maybe I’m in the US for too long and starting to not pay attention to what is going on outside my world. I hope to revert this tendency for next year.

Theme 4: woodworking

I can’t really leave out one of the things that occupied most of my weekends for a good part of the year: the big living room furniture project. Phase 1 is over and I think that’s all I’m going to do (at least for some time). It was an interesting experience, but there are a few things that I learned are harder than I thought (and made things not work as well as I was hoping):

  • The world is not square! So the wood might not be square, or the floor that you are trying to place the furniture on might not be square.
  • Large pieces of furniture are hard! That’s for multiple reasons:
    • They make non-square things just even more out of alignment
    • It’s hard to find good-looking wood in large pieces
    • It’s hard to make good-looking joints if you don’t have good looking wood pieces
  • If you don’t know the “fundamentals” of the furniture hardware that is available out there, it’s hard to make the right design decisions.
    • There are lots of parameters around a door hinge or drawer rollers that are not evident when you buy the piece. Only when you try to install you notice that things don’t really work the way you thought they would. Fortunately my 3D printer helped me a lot on making small adjustments to things.

And I think that mostly sums up what I think was different this year compared to previous years. Some things are still the same, like cooking (and I’ve been potentially cooking more lately because Amy has been through some challenging food restrictions that limit what we can eat out), playing computer games, watching Sci-Fi/Fantasy TV shows and reading books (even though I have done less of the latter than average). My electronics projects have been moving slowly.

I do have to mention a couple of important events this year (not in any particular order) before I finish this post:

  1. The birth of my first nephew (I already have a niece), Luiz Felipe, in March
  2. Going to Brazil and hanging out with family and some friends in end of August/early September.
  3. Trip to Utah to go around taking pictures of red rocks
  4. Participated in Movember, even though I didn’t raise much money on it. In any way, I’m very grateful for all my friends that did contribute to it.

Not a huge year, but at least there were things that were put in motion for next year to be at least as interesting. So far it seems like I’ll be going again to Brazil towards the end of the year to celebrate my grandmother’s 90th birthday. No tickets booked yet, but it’s the current plan. Hopefully I’ll have time to see more of my friends this time!