Today was another productive day with regards to settling down in Trento.

Yesterday, we came to an agreement with a building owner for a very nice apartment not too far from the city centre.

Today, we went to the bus station to submit the paperwork so that I can obtain a yearly bus pass at a slightly reduced price. We opened a bank account at an Italian bank. And I accidentally tested the Otterbox that protects my iPhone. It’s not exactly the model that that links to, but close enough.

We were walking in downtown Trento, where the streets are all cobblestone. My foot got caught in a slight elevation in the street, and I fell face forward, straight on my face; well, I cushioned my fall with my hands at the last minute.. I had my iPhone out at the time, as I was trying to orient ourselves through the maze of small streets towards the bank building. So I dropped my iPhone on the cobbled street. And it survived the fall.

My dignity, on the other hand…

I don’t know if I’m going to come out in bruises, but my muscles hurt all over.…

At Home And Kind Of Bored

Yesterday, I had a toenail removed at the local hospital (persistent fungus problem, nothing serious but annoying). I thought that it would be a minor operation and that I’d be back at work today, but alas, that was not the case. Turns out I can’t put any pressure on my toe for the next few days and I have to keep my leg elevated, so I’m stuck at home for the rest of the week.

The pain is tolerable – except when I accidentally whack my toe which, considering what a klutz I am, happens more often than I’d want it to. I’m kind of surprised because the nurse said that it would hurt a lot (”it will feel like your heart is in your toe” was what she said).
I’m sitting in front of the TV (hurrah for the Daily Show and Colbert Report), surrounded by gadgets to keep me amused and doing Graphics Interface 2010 stuff. I’ll be reading my email regularly so you can still contact me.…

That Facebook Data Thing

Pete Warden has managed to gather a lot of data from public Facebook profiles and this has been making the rounds of the blogosphere, especially since he is generously going to make the data available to researchers.

Sarah and I had a lengthy discussion about his data collection methods because we were trying to figure out just how much information he could have collected from public FB profiles. We randomly went through profiles of people we didn’t know just to see what could be found on those pages. Very often, it wasn’t a lot: the person’s name, a photo, pages (I’m guessing those are fan pages) and friends. Not even the city where they were living was listed. Of course, this method has its limits: we picked a very few samples and made our way through friends’ lists in order to move from person to person. Perhaps a different sample would have given us completely different results.

On the other hand, poking around in FB’s privacy settings, we came across these paragraphs:

When your friend visits a Facebook-enhanced application or website, they may want to share certain information to make the experience more social. For example, a greeting card application may use your birthday information to prompt your friend to send a card.If your friend uses an application that you do not use, you can control what types of information the application can access. Please note that applications will always be able to access your publicly available information (Name, Profile Picture, Gender, Current City, Networks, Friend List, and Pages) and information that is visible to Everyone.

In case you’re wondering, you can find this under Privacy Settings > Applications and Websites.

So maybe Pete was able to collect his data that way, which would explain how he could establish maps of relationships in the US.

The reason I’m writing about this, though, is more than just a question of methodology. It’s how people are taking his results and blatantly applying it to the population as a whole. That is just wrong.

The data that Pete collected may be a good source of information about people who use Facebook, but to then claim that it can be applied to the population in general is just wrong. danah boyd has already shown that there is a difference in the type of people who use FB and those who use MySpace. Does that mean that one is more representative of the general citizenry than the other? Nope. Neither are. They are each sub-cultures of the digital citizenry and the digital citizenry is a sub-culture of the population in general. I know it’s hard to believe, but not everybody is on Facebook.

That map of his may be an interesting look at how FB users are interconnected but it doesn’t mean that it’s true of people in the US in general.

Now I’m going to get all scientific-y and note that it’s quite possible that the data collected could turn out to be …

Getting A New Home? Have Home Builders Build It

Success is not measured in terms of wealth and property, but that of friends and family who are willing to go the extra mile for you without asking for anything in return.  Nevertheless, it surely would not hurt if you are able to afford to have home builders build you a home; a home where you will build and raise your family and invite friends over for barbeque during the weekends.  The sad truth though is that not many couples or families will be able to afford to have a home of their own.

MallickKitchen1363_homeIf you are one of the fortunate few who has managed to save enough money, have inherited a boatload of cash, or have a good credit rating and finally have your mortgage loan approved, then you are well on your way into having your very own home be brought into completion.  If you prefer to have a home that is constructed from the ground up, well good for you as this is actually a much surer way of having a home that is sure to last.  Although construction work takes time to finish as compared to immediately moving in when you purchase a prebuilt home, you are better assured in the reliability of materials used if you have a home built by home builders from scratch.

The process of constructing a home takes time.  It will take less time to build a home that is regular in both design and materials being used.  As the design of the home becomes more complex and that there are certain customizations being made to accommodate the needs and requirements of the client and future homeowner, construction time of the home becomes much longer.  The prolonged or extended construction time is not something most home builders want as many of the construction work is already done, but due to the intricacy of the finishing, skilled artisans, woodworkers, and masons are hired to complete the finishing touches.

Sometimes, it is not actually the main and licensed home building contractor who creates amazing looks and exceptional decorative finishing to the home but that of the contractor’s skilled workers.  There are times that the skill of the workers is what makes the big difference in the overall superior looks and quality of a home.  These skilled workers are oftentimes the life force as to what makes a certain home builder great.  It is now up to the contractor how to take care of his crew to make sure that they do not shift sides to other home builders.…

Today Is A Bad Day

A bit over 15 years ago, I decided that it was time to get a dog. I was living in my parents’ home as my dad had gone to live with his lady friend and while they were trying to sell it, they wanted someone staying there. But the house was very empty with just me rattling around in it and so one day, we went to a no-kill shelter on the South Shore of Montreal. The second dog I met was this big ball of white fur that trotted up to me, put its front paws on my stomach, and said, hey there, stranger, I would really like to be your best friend. And I said, yes, let’s be best friends forever. And as we drove back home, he curled up right next to me and put his head on my lap and slept like that, very contented.

I renamed this already-by-then three-year old dog Odin, after the Nordic god. At first, I was a bit disappointed because he never barked and I had wanted a dog to feel more secure, among other reasons. But it was just a question of time before Odin decided that this really was his home and when he began barking, well, he would bark at anything he saw crossing the street in front of the house. And coming towards the house. And leaving the region of the house. After all, he was part terrier.

A few weeks after I bought Odin into my life, I met André. The two of them bonded almost immediately and thus we became a family.

Odin was never the brightest of dogs (I was never able to teach him to sit on command, no matter how often I tried), but he compensated through his affectionate personality. He loved people. He loved getting pettings, he loved snuggling up against you, he loved to go up to strangers and say “hi!”. But mostly, he loved car rides.

We called him the “chien de char” (car-crazy dog). Any car door that was open was an invitation for getting in, even if it wasn’t our car. It was for him that I suggested we go camping for our vacations, as we could then bring him everywhere with us without worrying about whether a hotel would accept him or not.

André and Odin had a game that they loved to play: hide and go seek, or rather run after each other, then hide and go seek. André would run after Odin, Odin would run after André, and they would change sides like this. Usually, when the man was chasing the dog, Odin would come up to me and “stand his ground” there, barking, ready for another round of chase. In the middle of the game, André would use the moments when Odin was running up to me to go hide somewhere (e.g., behind the door in the bathroom). Then I would call to Odin to find André and off the dog would go, …