I use this blog as a soap box to preach (ahem... to talk :-) about subjects that interest me.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Writing the beginning of a story

What follows is my summary of the first two chapters of the book “Beginning, Middles & Ends” written by Nancy Kress. It is a book that I recommend to everyone who is interested in writing fiction.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Network of Feedbacks on eBay

A network is a collection of nodes connected by links. Railway tracks, roads, blood vessels in our bodies, neurons in our brains, tunnels in ant nests, cables in electricity grids, airways, and sewer and water pipes are all examples of physical networks we are familiar with. The study of physical networks was first formalised during the first half of the 18th century by Leonhard Euler, who invented graph theory. Two hundred years later, to study complex networks and how they were formed, Paul Erdős and Alfréd Rényi studied fictitious networks in which the links were created at random. Random network theory dominated the study of networks for decades, but it had a critical flaw: all nodes had the same number of links. That’s not how most real networks are.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

My back

During this month of August I haven’t been writing much. In particular, during the past week, I haven’t written at all. Now, for somebody who calls himself a writer, this is pretty bad. But when you have back problems and your doctor tells you that you shouldn’t be sitting, it’s kind of difficult to write. I do have a laptop and could have written while lying in bed, but it is easier said than done. The inspiration is just not there. Besides, I also have problems lying in bed.

With my back, it all started some decades ago, with crises of severe pain in the lumbar region. Initially, the crises resolved themselves after a few days of rest. Sometimes they were so bad that I couldn’t walk, but it only happened every few years... Then, about one and a half decades ago, I started taking medication to get back onto my feet more quickly. Till 2004, I only needed to take some Ibuprofen, available over the counter, for a week or so. In 2003, I started needing anti-inflammatory tablets, like Celebrex, to make the pain disappear. Then, in 2004, the pain lingered on, and I could only walk curved.

Saturday, August 14, 2010


I had known of the existence of Mensa for longer than four decades and had considered trying their admission test since my university years but, for one reason or another, I only did it last year. As it happened, it was precisely on my sixtieth birthday. When I was told that it would take up to two months to know the result of the test, I explored the Web and discovered that there were many other High-IQ societies. And many of them had stricter criteria than Mensa. Now, Mensa (at least in Australia) only tells whether the candidates have an I.Q. within the top 2% of the population or not. That’s one of the reasons why I started answering some of the many I.Q. tests available online.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

There are 10 types of people

Those who understand binary...
...and those who don't. http://www.planetsmilies.com/smilies/winking/winking0008.gif

Friday, August 6, 2010

A ban on full veils?

I believe that everybody, as long as they don’t disadvantage or damage other people, should be able to say and do what they want. That’s why I am in favour of reforms like those aimed at legalising drugs and at extending the validity of marriage contracts to homosexual couples. On the other hand, in what might be considered a sign of intolerance, I am in favour of preventing women from wearing in public full islamic veils.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Web Development for All

What follows is the presentation of my book "Beginning JSP™, JSF™ and Tomcat™ Web Development: From Novice to Professional" (see sidebar) that I wrote for the website of the Italian Scientific Attaché in Canberra. I don't give you the link of the website because it no longer exists.

Web Development for All!

What makes the Web really useful is its interactivity. By interacting with some remote server, you can find the information you need, do your banking, or buy online. And every time you type something into a web form, a web site "out there" interprets the request generated by your web browser and sends back a response containing a web page with the requested information. But how do you develop such dynamic web pages?