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Web Excursion for March, 27nd

A short list of links I’ve bookmarked this week

  • This is why OneNote is awesome: Maybe a bit over the top, but there are truly a lot of reason to use OneNote as your note taking app;
  • kandan: An Open Source Alternative to HipChat;
  • CSS Diner: CSS Diner is a little game to help you learn CSS selectors. Type in the correct selector to complete each level. So cool!
  • Practical partitioning: A nice introduction to (MySQL) partitioning (in PDF);
  • Using GNU Stow to manage your dotfiles: How to manage the various configuration files in your GNU/Linux home directory (aka “dotfiles” like .bashrc) using GNU Stow. I’ve immediately started using this. I might, one day, blog about it.

Web Excursion for March, 22nd

A la Brett Terpstra, a short list of links I’ve bookmarked this week

  • Neovim: vim’s rebirth for the 21st century. An ambitious project by Thiago de Arruda to bring vim to the 21st century.
  • Get started with rvm: this was a better introduction to RVM and gemsets any documentation I’ve ever read on the RVM website. Highly recommended!
  • Tabula: If you’ve ever tried to do anything with data provided to you in PDFs, you know how painful this is — you can’t easily copy-and-paste rows of data out of PDF files. Tabula allows you to extract that data in CSV format, through a simple interface, running, if desired, locally.
  • Two factor auth list: List of websites and whether or not they support 2FA. I’ve activated two factor authentication on Gandi.
  • OneNote: the premium note taking application from Microsoft has gone free and multiplatform. I’ve tried the Mac version, and I have to confess that, for being a 1.0, I’m impressed!

Github Pull Request Triage

Here’s an interesting project by Peter Bengtsson of Mozilla to get an overview of the pull requests for a given github repository. I’ve immediately gave it a try at one of our clients and I have to say that it works like a charm. Installation instructions can be found here.


I’ve finally bit it and started using Twitter bootstrap for my website and the blog. It was a bit of work (partially done while flying to and from Venice), but I took the occasion to do some spring cleaning.

A handful of GoDataDriven posts

In the past few weeks I’ve written a couple of blog posts at the GoDataDriven blog: Comments Widget

The other day I set up the Comments widget on this blog. Comments require an or Facebook account, as the Venn diagrams of the two have one of the smallest intersection in the tech world :)

This is my professional advise (!)

This is my professional advise, and if you need more proof, here is a Detective giving the same advice on youtube.

You would think nobody would ever never say something like that, but x0054 disagrees. He offers advice, (professional advice), on how not to get arrested. In case you don’t believe him, he links to some guy (a Detective) on youtube. This is 2014 folks!

Long time, no signs

It has been almost two years since my last blog post. My new year resolution is to not let that happen again.

I have some good reason for that though. Without any particular order:

  • I became father for the third time. Little Elena, as charming as she is, still keeps me awake more than needed (02);
  • I became a doctor in Theoretical Physics (02);
  • I finished my contract with FOM after four years of research (30);
  • I worked for a year at KPMG NL, as a consultant (01 – 30/09/2013); I spontaneously left to become a
  • Data Whisperer at GoDataDriven (01 – today). GoDataDriven is an amazing company, with a stellar team of colleagues.

You may notice a pattern up there: end of September, begin October is always busy.

Export to BibTeX from Papers (2)

If you always wanted to automate the tedious process of exporting your collection of papers in Papers to BibTeX here’s an Applescript that does that:

{% gist 8471281 save_bib.scpt %}

To use it, you should invoke it when the focus on Papers is on the collection (or selection of papers) that you want to export. The various variables presented in the script, pretty self-explanatory, should allows for enough customization.

Dutch Doctors

This is a true story about Dutch doctors. It seems scary, and frankly it scares the shit out of me, since I live in the Netherlands.

In december, playing football, my knee “cracked”. It didn’t break, but I felt a crack, and fell in an excruciating pain. I had pay the doctor a visit, which is never a pleasant thing here. Believe me, this story will convince you.

Barely standing I made into the doctor’s office. He briefly examined my knee and concluded that nothing was broken. He told me to take two paracetamol every 6 hours, even though I was perfectly fine bearing the pain. No thanks. I wanted to know what was going on, but, apparently, nothing. Just crutches for a couple of days, no sport for 4 weeks, and in two months I should be like new.

After six months I’m still in pain. Not always, but my knee hurts often. I decided to try the doctor again. He said that I should get an MRI to check whether the meniscus is broken.

“Fine — I said — let’s do that.”

“Who-ho, not so fast. Too expensive.”

Too expensive for who? For him?

If you now read through the lines, you already get the main message: I’m not going to treat you, even if you need it, because it’s expensive. You’re a doctor, and you don’t want to cure people with their own money? Which kind of doctor are you again?

A little background here. For what I heard, here in the Netherlands the less clinical analysis a doctor prescribes, the more he gets at the end of the year. That’s right, he get richer if he doesn’t cure you!! How sick is that?

I had to fight a week with him to get my MRI. Do you think he’s just greedy?

When getting some medication for my psoriasis, he saw my file and asked about my heart illness, ARVD. I said that I had to be under control, but without taking pills, like my brother and my mother do.

“Why? — he inquired — I see here in your file that it has no consequences.”

I don’t want to play the part of the asshole here, but if you look in Wikipedia you see that death is a, rightfully, very feared consequence of ARVD. And which kind of illnesses do not have any consequences? Oh, right, the one that needs only painkillers.

So I told him, and he gave me that strange look, like I’d know better.

Maybe a novice, you may think. He works at the VU, the Free University of Amsterdam.

Let’s try another one. It goes back when I first went to the doctor here in the Netherlands. I told him about ARVD, saying that in Italy I was checked every year to see whether the status of my heart had changed.

“Who-ho, slow down you handsome, here in the Netherlands we don’t treat illnesses like in Italy — because here they prefer to let you die if that yields little money for their wallet — so we’ll do the following: we test for it this year and then, if you feel some disturbs, we’ll see what we can do.”

Let me help you out with this: when your hearth is not feeling fine with ARVD, that means you’re dead. How nice from him to take action after my funeral! I told him and, as the other doctor, he gave that look as I’d know better.

Do you think the fun is over?

My wife is not feeling well lately. She’s very tired, her head itches. So what should we do? Go to the doctor. Yay!

The doctor is sure she’s allergic to something. But it will be so difficult to find out what that you’d better take this pills and shut up. It will go away.

Three weeks later, you guessed right, it’s not gone. How can it go? They take a blood sample. I don’t want to question the timing, but they could have done that weeks before.

Anyway, ten (10) days later we get the results. The doctor’s assistant said she’s allergic to 5 different things, including cats and dogs. The next day she return to the doctor to hear the “strategy”. With a wee of sadness she says

“I know that I’m allergic to this and that, and I’ll not be able to eat these and those. What should I do?”

That strange look again. The doctor says that she’s not allergic to anything. Some blood values are out of range, and a new blood sample is needed (OK, here it’s the assistent’s fault).

New blood sample, another 10 days. It turns out that she’s low on iron. I check with an Italian doctor (you never know), who said that low iron can give you some itch.

In the meantime my wife goes to the doctor again, to see what he can do. He’s a nice guy, so he begins with “Now you’ll tell me that all your symptoms are gone, right? Just eat better and you’ll be fine”.

My wife is italian, like me. If you happen to know some folks down in there, you know we have temperament. A lot. But it was the doctor’s lucky day, so she didn’t explode. Instead she asked whether iron enriched pills would help with the itch.

Blank look. He checked the PC, but it was not working, so he resorted to Google, on his iPhone (!!!). Lo and behold, Google confirmed what my wife said.

Needless to say we went to Italy to have ourselves cured. If you’re curious, my knee is doing pretty bad, and my wife is waiting for the results of new blood samples.

Did I mentioned that, besides having good doctors, in Italy the weather is gorgeous and the food is great?