On my BlackBerry 9000 Bold diary of crashes and misdemeanors

Hobbes, you must know by now that my crackberry addiction (1, 2 and 3) keeps me off Nokias, Samsungs, SonyEricssons and Motorolas (well, in this case is just Motorola who keeps me away from Motorola), but since I am a bit mad at RIM trying to play cat and mouse with the wrong crowd (BB Storm for the iPhone-lovers and the Pearl 8220 for the SonyEricsson lovers of the world). You already have a niche product! Don’t lose focus just to increase turnover!

Anyway, since RIM doesn’t want to come up with updates to fix the Bold… I will just tell you what my potty Bold tells me…

I think I was wrong. Battery life after update has dropped substancially to about 12h stand-by time  (aprox 1h30 on calls.) As I said yesterday, the Bold came up from the update with full-on 3G signal. As I commented in the past, using the 3G+2G signal option will drain your battery completely before you can say “Perhaps an iPho…”

I changed it over to “2G only” and regardless of that the full battery didn’t last 12h.

I am trying with a spare battery I’ve got. Just in case.

I received yesterday an email informing me that a software update for the Bold was available. I downloaded it (it only works with Internet Explorer…), backed up everything on the phone (we’ve been down that road before, losing all the info) and went for the 30min-long update.

It might just be me, but my Bold seems… I don’t know, happier? Full-on 3G signal (never seen at home before), perceived longer battery life and speed.

As always, I have no idea why it happens, but since I had to deal with it at least 9 times in the last three months, I’ll tell you anyway. The battery runs out specially fast, but the worse is when I go to bed. I lay down, switch the Bold off and, when I wake up and try to turn it on… nothing happens. For some reason the battery is completely worn off to 0%. I have to recharge it completely and even then it takes about 5 minutes to respond. With the battery completely drained, when the Bold gets back to life, even the time on the mobile was reset to 0:00 (and that goes without saying that, if you are in a hurry… you are screwed because it will take you about an hour to fully charge it).

Since it seems I cannot surprise you any more, I thought of bringing this one up when you tried to browse the internet: “Input System Error. The System is being restarted”. You will have noticed that nothing was being restarted for a few minutes and only when you took the SIM card out and put it back in I started working (although the specially long time it took me to restart freaked you out again, didn’t it?). Continue reading


On the lottery, the infamous tax on the poor, a £49m jackpot

I saw a TV commercial for the next Euromillion lottery draw. There is a £49,000,000 estimated jackpot. That would come handy, wouldn’t it? You could even buy a couple of banks these days.

It is commonly said that lottery is a tax on the poor. Let’s see why:

The theory:
A k-combination is a subset with k elements. The number of k-combinations (each of size k) from a set S with n elements (size n) is the binomial coefficient (also known as the “choose function”):

Where n is the number of objects from which you can choose and k is the number to be chosen, and n! denotes the factorial (the product of all positive integers less than or equal to n). Ein?

For the layman:

Winning selections (Odds)
Jackpot – Match 6 main numbers (1 in 13,983,816)
Match 5 main numbers plus the bonus number (1 in 2,330,636)
Match 5 main numbers (1 in 55,492)

Match 4 main numbers (1 in 1,033)

Match 3 main numbers (1 in 57)

If you look at lottery as a means of getting rich, forget about it, an odd player playing a lucky dip has statistically the same chances of winning the jackpot than someone who plays the same numbers week in, week out for a year. 1 in 13,983,816 chance or 0.0000000715 per cent for the one-off player and 52 in 13,983,816 or 0.00000371 per cent for the lotto junkie.

According to several sociological studies, the wealthiest and the poorest people are least likely to take a chance on the lottery. I thought that having a mortgage, a car and a terraced home was a sign of middle class, but since I use to play Euromillion online every week, I must have been one of the struggling masses. I stopped doing it in March, so I guess that I crawled out of poverty!

Of course, someone will get rich, but don’t forget it, it is just a game. Becoming addict to the weekly draw, playing always the same numbers or playing more than one combination at a time, is a waste of money. A tax on middle and poor classes. Governments should be ashamed of fooling their own customers, sorry their own citizens.

As the old Russian proverb goes, pray to God, but keep rowing to shore. Don’t expect government bailouts of any kind, you are your own bailout.


On Transformers: Revenge of the Ignorant and the future of knowledge

It is well known that movies are not reality. However, I never understood the “need” to historically, timely or geographically deviate reality.

Sad too say, I am pretty sure that I have missed millions of things myself. From downtown Manhattan aka Vancouver or Liverpool (Inside Man/Alfie) to a running of the bulls/fallas mix up in Mission Impossible 3. But the other day I wasted 2h30 and £8.90 watching Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen . To be honest, I didn’t waste 2h30. I am into real-life graphs, comics and I even had a small Optimus Prime when a child. Flesh is weak, and Megan Fox makes it all more palatable (until you get bored and drift away to other non-core related issues on the film like Megan’s thumb nails, as sexy as a Playmate with 3 boobs.)

Anyway, actresses weird anatomy is not what this post is about. I guess this post is related to the No Zero Policy I wrote a couple of days back. Some people claim that children do what they learn on TV. Therefore, if we follow that logic, they also learn what they see in movies. And for all that matters, adults too.

Now, it is human nature to be able to differentiate reality from fantasy. Some times it’s obvious (blue and red lycra doesn’t make you fly, stop bullets or climb walls), but some other times, producers/directors get a bit carried away. In the case of the Transformers, running around the world in 30min seems the norm. Thanks to Thomas Friedman, we all know by now that the world is flat but that doesn’t turn Earth from a DIN-A0 (1 m2) to a thumbnail-sized (hey Megan!)  post-it.

Some movie-goers might get any USA city, Jordan and Cairo are just parts of the same neighbourhood. But then, I always thought that, if there is no air in open space, there is no way sound can travel, so all the space explosions we heard in the movies are, well, bogus.

I must be a geek, as I enjoy realistic science (or as real as possible, taking into account that 20m-high/30ton robots would shake waves on the ground when falling, and imagine the static accumulated! Closing my car doors on a dry day is already a challenge!).

I guess this is just a cry for help. We all absorb information from films, so a bit of homework (I can only reason that they must be lazy to the bone or consider reality  “unimportant” for the story) will allow us to learn something when sitting for two ours watching a film,

What I am trying to say is, if you are not good enough at making movies, don’t purely rely on 3D animation, be faithful to reality and I might enjoy the film due to some hidden personal reason instead of having mental blocks trying to figure out if someone else realised that the Pyramids are located right in Cairo like Richmond Park is part of London.


On the No Zero Policy in schools and the future effects in the workplace

I have never been an Einstein but my school grades always fluctuated from 60% to top of the class… from one month to the other.

My university years were a simple translation of my early life.Through my first and second degrees I worked full time, missed many, maaany classes, studied French and even took 9 months off to do the, then mandatory, military service. The only course I completed with a +90% attendance was my postgraduate course, which I did between the two degrees.

I was lucky enough to get a BCA grant to finish my second degree in Los Angeles, CA, and there I found out that I could have a broken English, take 50% more classes per term than the average student, work on campus the maximum 20h, join the swimming team and disappear in the desert the rest of the time and still get straight As at the business school.

The fact that I could move from one year to the next in Spain without much effort and some of my classmates who fed me class notes and attended uni full time, was surprising for me. Fair enough, I didn’t get stellar grades, but some of my classmates had to repeat courses.

When I got to California, I was surprised of how low the level was, how little was needed to get best grades (let alone pass) and how good and bad students got warm words regardless their performance.

Fast forward 8 years. Florida seems to have cracked the motivational paradise (or hell?) with their “no zero policy”. They have decided that it seems like punishment to give a zero to a child even if that child never showed up for class. Great training for life! I missed many many classes in my university life, but I can tell you a) I was working full time and b) I would take my work holidays the week before the exams (hence, no holidays at all at the end of the year… for years) and pushed to make up for 4 months of non-attendance.

Let’s not get into the mastering of mother tongues, but who hasn’t heard of kids sports where winners and losers get a trophy? In my boyhood I use to get a bronze medal or just a coloured ribbon if I didn’t make it the podium. This sense of moving people through rewarding them for something they haven’t done actually well is a very dangerous game. Doesn’t a trophy imply some level of success that exceeds those around us? If we just flatten the playing field so that nobody wins and nobody loses, we are talking of an economic model where I don’t think I can fit in.

It is not that I want everybody to lose, but when I decided to work and skip classes I knew the risks of doing so, and I took the risk, there must be a reward for doing better than the rest.

Life does NOT work like this.

What Florida is turning into policy, the rest of the Western world (or at least the countries where I have lived Spain, USA, and UK) has been quietly accepting in their schools and universities.

Dan Miller gave a really good example of why it is wrong to follow this “no zero policy”:

Let’s say that we are watching a butterfly emerge from a cocoon and we see a little crack there and two hours have passed and it’s trying to get out.

We think “I am going to try it to get out, we are going to help it out, it’s worked really hard, it’s done half the work, let’s just reward it and help it finish the task”. So we get the scissors and we cut the cocoon open and the butterfly is now free. Or is it? Instead of having the blood pump up into the wings, we’ve got this little bulbous misfit of some kind that never develops into anything. We have shortcut  the process that it was designed to go through to really become a beautiful butterfly.

What else needs to be said? What are we creating (or already created)? Imagine a workforce signing for 40-hour weeks, not showing up and demanding 30 pay. Imagine.


* Post inspired and quotations from Dan Miller’s weekly podcast “48 Days to the Work you Love

On the Reticular Activating System and how stupid we are when shopping

You just purchased a flashing new item, and all of a sudden all you can see is other people wearing, driving, eating or carrying that very thing you cherished so much a short while ago.

At some point or another I am pretty sure it has happened to you. A few years ago my girlfriend notoriously confused my friend’s Ford Cougar with a spanking new Merc SL500 convertible. An egg and a kiwi fruit you say? To my surprise, since we bought an Audi A4 Avant, that’s all she sees now, and this time the cars are really like ours.

She’s been hit by the Reticular Activating System (or RAS).

What is this RAS?

Imagine that you’re walking through a noise ballroom. Think of all the noise – hundreds of people talking, music, announcements, waiters offering nibbles and drinks. How much of this noise is brought to your attention? Not a lot. True, you can hear a general background noise, but not many of us bother to listen to each individual sound.

But then you hear your name. Suddenly your attention is full on. Your RAS is the automatic mechanism inside your brain that brings relevant information to your attention.

Your reticular activating system is like a filter between your conscious mind and your subconscious mind. It takes instructions from your conscious mind and passes them on to your subconscious.

Some self-help theories are based on creating a very specific picture of our goal in our conscious mind (like us giving a speech or visualising the perfect summersault). The RAS will then pass this on to our subconscious – which will then help us achieve the goal. What in theory this does is bringing to our attention all the relevant information which otherwise might have remained as ‘background noise’.

Good enough, but what effect RAS has on retail therapy? You think of something you want, you visualise it, you go to the shop, you pay for it, you are momentaneously happy for your purchase and on the way back home, you see the garment (or gadget for the boys) being worn by at least a dozen of people and in four magazines. It ends up at the bottom of the wardrobe.

My advice for all those shopaholics out there, take your time before you go shopping, think a lot about what you want to buy, visualise it, and you will see it in so many places that the novelty will fade off and you won’t desire it anymore. However, if you have a weak self-steem, you might end up craving for it even more… so I am not sure what effect this could eventually have on your current account… Oh well, you can always use spare brain time around you!


On why I think Twitter, Facebook and other so called social sites are not for me

Am I opposed to Twitter? I love things that new technology does, the other night in Top Gear (of all places!) I discovered an iPhone app called Grindr where logged-on gay people can track where other logged-on guys are (and how close, thanks to master Twit Stephen Fry). But I have chosen not to be involved in Facebook and specially Twitter because I can’t fit it in in my life.

A couple of weeks ago I dislocated the right clavicle from the sternum (don’t ask) and ended up two weeks at home with the arm on a sling. It was a good time to take some unexpected time off and I decided to streamline my life.

Due to privacy issues, I was never a fan of social sites (probably that’s why I write this blog under a pseudonym). I’ve decided that one of the principles I am going to be running my life is that if I am going to add something, I have to decide what I am going to stop doing. So if I am going to add the time required to sending and receiving Twitter then I have to decide what I am going to stop doing. I have not been able to identify anything that I consider less important than Twitter, so it just simply didn’t make the cut.

Now, if you use Twitter and use it effectively [Pingol, do you?] fantastic. But there are a lot of things that I categorise like that where I decided not to do those simply because I don’t want to add something more to my plate and I can’t find something that I reasonably want to unplug.


On a life with no news, day 63

Hobbes, the news that get to my ears through word of mouth are:

– Swain flu from Mexico and the popular use of the word “pandemic”
– Spanish and Irish unemployment counting for 2/3 of all EU unemployment increase
– Chelsea 0 – Barcelona 0
– “London seems empty these days” commentaries

PS. I couldn’t resist it any more and I am reading the cover of the FT on my mobile several times a day… I guess that doesn’t count, as I fully read only one article a day at the most, so I am learning to be more demanding.