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!

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.

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!

Salt consumption numbers

Today I was reading an article that said that Brazilian salt consumpion is high (twice what is recommended by the WHO) mostly because Brazilians add too much salt to their food. According to them, 70% of the salt consumed in Brazil is added by the consumer. The US also has a lot of problems due to salt consumption, so I decided to compare. Apparently the numbers are quite different here :

  • Brazilians consume about 4,460 mg of salt a day, Americans consume 3,400 mg. The recommended is between 1,500 and 2,300 mg a day.
  • 70% of the salt consumed in Brazil is added by the consumer. 75% of the salt consumed in the US is from packaged foods.  (the packaged food number in Brazil seems to be 23.8%)

What do we learn from this? Well, first is that Americans eat a lot of packaged food. Here is an infographic for you . Based on weight, Americans eat 57% of their total food intake from packaged sources (787 vs. 602 lb). Brazilians each 37% from packaged foods (392 vs 677 lb). So, if we focus on how much actual salt there is in packaged foods in US vs. Brazil, we get:

  • In BR, 0.2 % of packaged foods is salt
  • In US, 0.26% of packaged foods is salt

Not that different, huh? Now for fresh foods:

  • BR:  0.4% of fresh foods is salt
  • US: 0.11%  of fresh foods is salt

A much different story, huh? Hopefully my math is right here…


    Amazon AutoRip’s unexpected benefits

    Amazon launched AutoRip, which provides you with automatic MP3 versions of albums that you bought in CD form from Amazon. Not all CDs work, but for the ones that work, it will make things a little easier. Doesn’t sound very exciting, right? Well, I went to check today what CDs were auto-ripped for me (well, all my CDs are already in MP3 format, so I was wondering what would happen with those) and it added 4 CDs to my collection. All 4 actually were CDs that I bought for other people! Thanks, Amazon (well, maybe I should thank them more if I really wanted those songs…)!

    Somebody doesn’t know how to count – Amazon Instant Video edition

    There are lots of examples out there of systems not knowing how to count. I know that I have problems from time to time with Google Reader of it misrepresenting how many unread articles I have, for example. But today I found something that is closer to my control: Amazon Instant Video.

    It’s the end of the year, so it’s time for the reports on the top of the year. So here is the top 20 best rated movies by customers on Amazon:

    And yes, you are not crazy: there are only 16 of them. How fascinating! It’s so easy to get this one right!

    Election time… Time to watch everything on Hulu!

    It’s that time of the year where elections are getting close in the US and candidates are getting desperate. What that means is that if you ever watch local channels you get minutes of commercials of one candidate just saying dirty things about another candidate. At least in Washington State, that seems to be the only strategy left! And then people are concerned when the vote turnout is very low – nobody would know who to vote on, because nobody ever seem to be saying anything positive about their campaign anymore.

    Yes, I know I can’t vote in the US, and I don’t even watch local TV, mostly focusing my TV watching experience to using Hulu, where you don’t get all those election commercials (there is still some, but they are rare at least for the shows that I watch). So you might be asking why I care? Well, maybe it’s just my brain looking and something and identifying it as bad, and trying to fix it.

    Fix it? How do you fix it? They are very likely effective at reducing the number of votes that your opposition will get on this election, so why should this change? Because I believe that is a strong psychological effect of voting on fear change caused by you not voting compared to voting for the hope of change (or continuation of what you believe is good) through vote. It build future engagement and ownership, instead of just complacency and isolation.

    Anyway, politics is hard. There are to many variables always in play and pretty much every situation is fundamentally different than the other, so there is very little science that can help you most of the time. The best you can always hope for is that the person that has been elected is true to him/herself and that you won’t be surprised in a few years that they are actually doing things you never thought they would do. That’s how you lose all that hope and start believing more on the fear style of voting.

    Brazilian wines?

    When I lived in Brazil, I can’t say that I understood much of wines. I drank something occasionally, but mostly because my father drank something occasionally (or on Jewish holidays, but that usually meant bad sweet wine). After I moved to the US, actually more after I moved to Seattle, I started to pay more attention to it and appreciate more the variety and subtlety of flavors in wine. I still can’t say that I’m a huge wine drinker (I probably drink 2 cups a week on a good week), but I can now even sometimes select wines at a restaurant without being completely overwhelmed (sure, there are some restaurant wine lists that are built to be overwhelming).

    Back to Brazil, one thing that I remember, is that Brazilian wine wasn’t really very good. If one wanted to drink “local” wine in Brazil it usually meant wine for Argentina or Chile. Apparently the industry has been growing since, which is good. I still can’t find Brazilian wine for sale in the US (at least not in the places I usually look). But could this be changing? Yesterday I received an email from Snooth with their “wine of the year” and… It’s the 2006 Lidio Carraro Tannat Grande Vindima. Interesting decision… Probably not a good one, but it does show that there might be some interest building on getting Brazilian wines to more people, which means that I might be able to tell how far off these people were on their assessment. Probably I’m not going to be spending $100 on a bottle of wine, but hopefully it works as a catalyst for other more affordable options.

    Email templating failure

    Some day people will give up on the currently existing mass emailing systems. I’ve worked on one before, and I’ve tried to use one a couple of times. The biggest problems of those systems is that they are just easy to make mistakes… And there are two main types of mistakes (that don’t happen on a normal email):

    1. Typo that causes your “personalization” to not work
    2. Formatting that doesn’t work on all email readers.

    The second one is actually more due to email readers not being the most standards-based application. Their support for things like HTML formatting is not very consistent. But what I’ve seen as being the most tricky thing about formatting on emails is related to text encoding. Some email clients expect different types of annotations for encoding, which causes you to not see what the other is expecting. Fonts are also tricky, as some email clients allow you to write your email on any font that exists on your computer, but when it gets to the recipient’s computer, that font might not exist.

    What triggered this post? The following email that I’ve received:

    It shows all those issues in one!

    There are other challenges with emails: the fact that you can’t authenticate senders (technically the email protocol allows you to send an email claiming to be anybody that you want), you can’t ensure that the email reached the recipient, and, mostly due to the first problem, everybody has spam filters that don’t work 100% of the time to only remove spam. This is a bigger problem for people doing mailing lists or mass mailing, as they are on that boundary of fuzziness of what is Spam, so they very often are kicked to the Spam folder.

    People have been talking about replacing emails for some time. Google claimed that they were going to do it through Google Wave, which died a horrible death. Other people claim that Facebook will kill email this time. And I do know some people that moved most of their communication there. But I still don’t think that’s the full answer. And if you don’t have a full answer on a single service, I don’t know if that’s something that people will actually use. Anyway, I’ve deviated too much from the topic here. I’ll approach the future of email on a future post.