14 years ago, when I was a teenager, during one summer I used to go to a local club in Buenos Aires called Pinoccio and swim on the pool. After a swimming session I would sit on a bench and read a book my parents got me for Christmas. I asked for a book about Java, but I got one about HTML and in hindsight, it was good. My parents were making good decisions for me, like when they got me a CZ Spectrum instead of a Commodore 64.

I spent more time sitting on that bench than in the swimming pool. One day though, my grandmother asked me something like “How many lengths are you going to do today? a hundred?”. I think I was doing about twenty a session. That day I did my twenty and kept on going and kept on going and I didn’t stop until I broke into the three figures. It took me ages, but I did it.

A little girl actually asked me “Aren’t you tired?”. Yes! No! I don’t know actually. I still feel the same way. When I run, I reach a point where I collapse, I can’t run anymore. But with swimming it’s not the same. I feel like I can go on and on and on… but since that day, 14 years ago, I never managed to push myself to swim 2.5km in one session. When I started swimming in 2010, I never managed to go beyond 1km.

On March this year I started swimming again. This time I was taking it much more seriously. I’m swimming every day I can (it’s generally about 4 or 5 days a week). After ramping up I reached the comfortable point of 1km a day. But on the weekends… on the weekends I try to do more. For years I felt that I wasn’t as good as I used to be. I wasn’t the guy that could swim 2.5km anymore. I was less.

Last Saturday I broke my year personal best and swam 2.2km. I was destroyed. I wasn’t sure if on Sunday I could even do my daily 1km, but I did it. And I kept on going… wouldn’t it be awesome if I manage to do 2.2km again? Generally Saturday is the day I do the most and on Sunday I go slower because I’m so tired. Doing on Sunday as much as on Saturday would have felt awesome. So I kept on going until I reached 2.2km.

Only a little bit more and I would have a new personal best this year. I did 10 more lengths to reach 2.4km… oh… I’m so close. Don’t stop me now! 10 more lengths and I’m now on 2.6km. I stopped. Did that happened? Did I just broke my own record? That one that was hovering above me remind me I’m not as good as I used to? Did I just break it? I did.

Last year I broke my running record, the one I had since the day I was practicing Taekwon-do. This year I broke my weight record (my lowest adult weight ever). And now I broke my swimming record. Right now, at this very moment, I’m the best I ever were. And I don’t intend on stopping anytime soon.

Update 2012-05-27: I made a new personal best, 3km:

I’m really proud… and tried… I’m going to lay down over there… wake me up… tomorrow…

My sneeze

Last friday I had my last drawing lesson. It was at the national gallery. The teacher showed us around, showed us good and bad paintings and made us draw some things. I never been to the national gallery before, so it was quite an experience.

I didn’t know that for this last lesson he was merging the drawing group, with the painting group. That’s when I learned I’m famous through my art. One of them said to me “So, you are the one that draw the sneeze?” Well… we all draw a sneeze because that’s what the teacher asked us, but I was the only one of two or maybe three, that didn’t go for abstract.

I generally don’t like abstract art, I don’t like producing it and I don’t like watching it. I decided to try to be symbolic about it and I draw this:


I’m not proud of the quality or technique of that drawing, but I’m proud of the idea. At least one person said he liked it during the lesson and a couple lessons later it was mentioned again and, as I said, in the last lesson people from other groups mentioned.

In my second attempt I tried to convey the release after the sneeze, but I didn’t like the result. Nevertheless here it is, the before and after of an explosive sneeze:

If I was running GitHub

If I was in charge of GitHub, I would build a team of .NET Programmers and have them built an awesome UI for Git on Windows, bundle it with Git itself as well as other usually needed programs like an SSH client and release it for free. Well, as open source of course.

The reason for that is that almost everybody that I know that’s using Git is also using GitHub and the number one objection I get to Git is Windows support. I myself chosen Mercurial once before just to be able to cooperate with my Windows-using friends. I think it’s time someone fixes that and I think GitHub has the most to win.

I know Git can be installed on Windows and that it works. But you need more than that. You need on amazing user experience and Git on Windows doesn’t provide it.

There are several reasons for that. Running Git in Windows is not as nice as Linux or Mac OS X, period. Even if the support was realyl good, the command line itself in Windows is not on par with Bash… even when you run Bash itself on Windows (which the last time I checked, you had to do to run Git).

Most important than that is that the Windows crowd are just used to UIs, so the most amazing command line tool won’t stand a chance against the crappiest UI. Windows users just search for another tool when no UI is provided. Even myself when using Windows do that. It’s another world with another dynamic and you have to play by their rules to win their game. And I have to admit, if I had to stop using MacOSX I would miss my favorite Git UI a lot, GitX (L).

J. Pablo Fernández

“J. Pablo Fernández” is not my name, my name is J. Pablo Fernández, but I see the former quite often. For example, as a donor for the L5 series:

That happens when someone takes the UTF-8 encoded version of my name and re-interprets it as Latin-1 or ASCII. Something that sadly happens very often. Programmers of the world, I know thinking about character sets and encodings make your brain hurt and that’s why you pick UTF-8 and forget about it. But otherwise, if you are handling data, you are using a character set and an encoding. You have to know and understand that. A great place to start is Joel Spolsky’s The Absolute Minimum Every Software Developer Absolutely, Positively Must Know About Unicode and Character Sets (No Excuses!).

Oh… the first episode of L5 was awesome, go and grab it. I can’t wait for the next one.

Typing Esperanto in MacOSX

In one way or another you can type Esperanto in any operating system without using the x-system (which I really dislike). Of all the operating systems and UIs I used (many!), the one that makes typing Esperanto the best is MacOSX, but you have to configure your keyboard properly first (this is for English based Qwerty keyboards, not sure how it would work with others). You want U.S. Extended:

To type the pointy hats, you press ⌥+6 (that is, alt or option plus the letter 6) which gives you:

and then the following letter, g, c, S, G, whatever: Ĝ

For ŭ is the same, but you have to press ⌥+b to get the other kind of hat:

and that’s all there’s to it.

The importance of context

Since I watched 2001: A Space Odyssey for the first time when I was 15 years old, I’ve been wanting to watch it on the big screen. Last Sunday I realized that dream.

A little story about why that movie was so important to me. There’s a before and an after 2001 in my life. I think it was the first movie that really challenged my brain. The first movie that when the credits rolled up I asked myself “What the fuck just happened?”.

It was recommended to me by a teacher, so I went and asked him… without the “fuck” I suppose. He told me that if I wanted to understand it, I’d have to read the book. I read the book and I understood more, but I had even more questions. So I read the next book, and the next, and the next. And by the time I had finished I was hooked into reading science fiction for the rest of my life.

Back to the topic, context. It’s not an entertaining movie. It’s slow, it’s abstract, it’s art. But hey, even if you watch Alien it doesn’t look like entertainment, it’s slow and looks artistic. Honestly, go and watch it, you’ll see. 2001 was released before Armstrong put a foot on the moon, in 1968.

Let me put that in context for you. Star Wars wouldn’t come out for another 9 years. Star Trek was on it’s second season and not many people were paying attention, yet. I bet for most people, 2001 was the first time in their lives when they saw outer space in the big screen.

But 2001 isn’t just another silly space opera (of which the space age was probably full of). In 2001, space is silent, like it really is. How important is that? I watched Firefly just because space was silent. That important.

2001 doesn’t have some magic solution for artificial gravity, like almost all other movies and TV shows. We have huge revolving space stations as well as spaceships with revolving sections. We see amazing shots of people walking on this curved floors. Or using sticky shoes. We not only see space… we see ourselves, for real, in space. I don’t think I’d seen anything that treated outer space as realistically as 2001, ever. And it happened in 1968.

Put that movie in context, ignore the long psychedelic scenes (hey! it was the 60s!), and it’ll blow your mind. Context is important.

I also recently read Snow Crash. When the book started describing a kind of physical virtual reality, with people walking on virtual streets, companies putting buildings on those streets, etc. I was honestly disgusted. I couldn’t stop feeling that the author somehow missed the last 10 years of history when we realised that VRML (remember VRML? Virtual Reality Markup Language) was not the way to go. And then I saw the book was released on 1992 and all made sense to me. Reading it in context was awesome and I enjoyed it a lot.

Thanks to Daniel Magliola and Romina Roca for reading drafts of this.