29 novembro 2008

The Dark Side?

I usually write more about personal matters, about movies, about music... or better saying, about things that are my passion. So, I thought: why do I never write about work?

Well, today I'm going to fix that. I'm going to tell you a story (it's kinda long and techie, I know, but I hope you will enjoy the ride).

When I was a kid, around 6-10 years-old I think, my parents got me and my brother a MSX Hotbit HB-8000. It was heavy, it didn't have any storage, except for a tape recorder (and later we even got a 5¼" disk drive!!), you had to plug it on the TV to use, etc, etc. But it was soooo much fun!

At first we just played with the games (of course), but after a while I started playing with the MSX Basic that came with the machine. For those wondering what MSX Basic was, it was a programming language (a variant of BASIC with extended support) that allowed me to create my own programs!

One day (I really don't remember how) a magazine full with MSX BASIC program examples appeared at my house, and I quickly started testing (I mean, writing and executing) the programs from the magazine. It was pretty silly stuff indeed, just making a ball move through the screen and make a sound when it hit the corner, for example. But it was so good to see something that I created floating around the screen making sounds.

After a while I decided to try some of the "bigger" programs. Really big programs indeed, as there were pages and pages of commands for these programs, and you was supposed to type everything exactly as it was on the magazine, and all lines had to be numbered (10, 20, 30, and so on), etc, etc,. So imagine a kid spending the whole afternoon doing that (and debugging the program when something didn't work as expected) and without even the possibility to save it(!!!). It was just for the sake of doing it, for the fun of it. And what I great time it was.

Well, those were the old days, then I grew up, still using computers but not programming as much. Until I decided to do high school at a technical school, one where you have all "regular" classes + technical classes for your field of specialization, which was Data Processing in my case.

There was I playing with another BASIC variant, QBasic. Of course I studied lots of other programming languages, such as COBOL, Clipper, Pascal, but QBasic was so much fun to play with for its simple-yet-powerful language. Later I started learning Visual Basic (yeah, I really dig BASIC and its variants/evolutions since then), which was also the first programming language that I worked with when I got an internship.

At this point in my life, with so much involvement with Microsoft programming languages, one person that I really admired (as probably everybody that studied with me admired too) for his work was Bill Gates. I still remember one day when they had this special announcement on the school board about an opportunity to work in a project with Microsoft. I certainly wasn't one of the people that got it (I was still in early stages in my studies), but just the thought of doing something for THE Microsoft was exciting.

Years went by, I worked for lots of companies mostly using Microsoft technology, such as ASP, Visual Basic, MS SQL Server, etc. Then at some point I started to know more about the browser wars, then I read more about open source ("The Cathedral and the Bazaar", "The Hacker Ethic", etc), about Linux, and about lots of other things related to that that just seemed so "right" to me. Most of these texts/books/articles just spoke about Microsoft in such a bad way that after a while I started disliking the company by myself. After I got a (Mac) Powerbook for me things got even worst, as I didn't even had contact with Micrsosoft products anymore, and anytime I could I would say how good my Powerbook running Mac OS X was.

At this point, after years of involvement with Microsoft products, Microsoft had become "the evil" for me (as it had become for lots of other people before and after). It was something subtle, something that I didn't even notice, but one day I discovered that just I felt that way.

So, when the company that I worked for, FAST Search & Transfer, was bought by Microsoft, I had mixed feelings (to say the least).

To give you an idea, a friend of mine that works with me said that I was the first person he thought of as soon as he heard the news, 'cause he as sure I wouldn't be pleased with that, that I would feel like I was going to the "dark side". But I decided that my posture would be wait-and-see. After all, as my parents pointed out (that's why we have parents), when I was younger it was my dream to work for Microsoft, so why not give it a chance?

Ever since I heard the news, I started checking more about Microsoft online, about its bloggers, about its culture, about its people. Yes, people, 'cause that's what makes a company great in my opinion. Not the technology (although it's highly important), nor its shareholders (that's really important too, btw), but the people that work there, how they think and how they act, these are the most important things for me.

Then I went to TechReady (a technical conference for Microsoft employees) last July and had the opportunity to get closer to the company's soul. And it was overwhelming to see so many brilliant people together, so many great speakers, so many people talking about the same things that "outsiders" usually think that Microsoft doesn't care about (standards, cross-platform, cross-browsing solutions, etc.). At that point, I felt my feelings changing and discovered that I would love this company as much as I had always loved FAST (and for me this is a big deal, because I simply can not work for a company that I don't really love, that I don't feel totally commited to).

But my best surprise ever, to get a even better glimpse about Microsoft employees, happened when I found a blog called Microspotting, whose whole purpose is to show the world how Microsoft employees really are (check Ariel's profile to get a better idea). And I do believe that this is an amazing idea, because once you get to know all these great people that work here, them you start to feel that all this talk about the "dark side"/"evil empire" may be just nonsense.

I know it was a long post, and it was about work, and it was kinda techie, but it's just something that I meant to do for a while and now seemed like the perfect time. :)

27 novembro 2008

It's Thanksgiving, so "Thank You"!

It's Thanksgiving today, and although we don't celebrate it here in Brazil, this is a holiday that I really like due to its intent.

We usually spend so many time in our life thinking (and sometimes complaining) about what we wish we had that we don't find time to be grateful for all the wonders that we already received. And as Irving Berlin once said,

"Life is 10 percent what you make it and 90 percent how you take it."

So, this is my turn to say a big Thank You for everything that I'm grateful for.


I'm grateful for my family, for how much they love me and for how much I love them. From my parents I learned everything I know in terms of character, respectfulness, truthfulness and love. I have a brother that would do anything for me (I would do just the same), and a sister that was supposed to be "in-law" but she is just like a blood-sister to me.


I'm grateful for my health, for the fact that although I may have a hard time now and then with my rhinitis, I never had anything really serious.


I'm grateful for my job, that even though things may not always go as I wish (and they will never do, btw), I love what I do, lots of times I have great pleasure doing it, and I have made so many amazing friends all these years that are a big part of my life.


I'm grateful for all friends that I have. Do you know that special person, with whom you feel completely at ease to talk about anything? That person with whom you can talk hours and hours without noticing the time passing by? That person that makes you laugh, that cries on your shoulder, that you simply can't see sad without been affected too? I have lots of people like this around me.


I'm grateful for my home. It's rented, some people would say that it's small and it has only one big room (which makes me call it a studio), but it also has a beautiful terrace where I have a small garden, it gets bathed by the sun the whole day, it's amazingly well-located and I have a spectacular view of the city.


I'm really really grateful for one of greatest things in life, that is to love and be loved in return. I met a person that has all the virtues that I value, and although we live so many many thousands of miles away, when this year expires on Dec 31st we will be together and we would have seen each other 5 times in so many different parts of the world (Montreal, Seattle, Brazil, Dallas and Paris). She is not only my love, but also a true friend, with whom I can talk about my (and her) life, my (and her) dreams... about everything.

There are so many things that I'm grateful for that I could spend a whole day (or even more) writing about everything that is special to me... about every little thing that I have that makes my life so happy. But I know that you two that read my blog have more things to do on this beautiful day, so I'll stop here.

What about you? What are the things that you are immensely grateful for? I will love to hear them.

Thank you.

23 novembro 2008

Jekyll, My Own Worst Enemy e Titanic

Você provavelmente está pensando o que diabos uma minissérie extinta, uma série que começou esse há pouco mais de 1 mês e um filme de mais de 10 anos atrás podem ter em comum. A resposta: esse que vos fala.

Sim, nesse "feriado prolongado" (para mim, assim como para muitos outros, não tão prolongado, porque trabalhei na sexta) acabei assistindo todos os 3 títulos mencionados acima em um intervalo de dois dias.

Jekyll é uma série que já estava na minha "fila de espera" há algum tempo. Havia até começado a assistir com uma amiga e gostado, mas por algum motivo parei na metade da temporada (que tem apenas 6 episódios) e retomei somente nesse sábado. Para quem gosta do gênero de pessoa-atormentada-com-personalidade-dupla é um prato cheio. Para quem gosta do gênero homem-sozinho-lutando-contra-corporação-má-para-proteger-sua-família também é uma boa pedida. Não dá para contar muito para não estragar a série, mas pelo título já dá para imaginar que ela possui alguma relação com o clássico da literatura "O Médico e o Monstro" ("The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde", no original em inglês), escrito por Robert Louis Stevenson e publicado em 1886.

Outras aparições de "O Médico e o Monstro" (com seus personagens ou história), podem ser vistas em "Lisbela e o Prisioneiro" (o filme que a Lisbela assiste no cinema) e em "A Liga Extraordinária" (Dr. Jekyll é um dos membros da Liga). Provavelmente existem vários outros filmes que referenciam este clássico, mas por hora apenas esses me vêm à mente.

My Own Worst Enemy é uma série da qual só ouvi falar porque recebi um email avisando que o piloto da série estava disponível para download de graça (!!) na iTunes Store (só na primeira semana). Ainda por cima vi que a série tinha o Christian Slater como personagem principal e, como geralmente gosto do trabalho dele, resolvi fazer o download. Isso foi em outubro. Daí eis que nessa sexta resolvi assistir a série e gostei bastante! O que mais gostei foi que em alguns momentos você acaba sendo surpreendido pela trama, o que é sempre um bom sinal (afinal de contas enredos previsíveis existem aos montes por aí). A série mescla ação, espionagem e tem até um quê de "O Médico e o Monstro" (que foi justamente o que me fez lembrar da série "Jekyll" que ainda não havia terminado de assistir). Confira e depois me conte o que achou.

Por último, mas não menos importante, ontem à noite resolvi (re)assistir Titanic (pela enésima vez), pois havia comprado o DVD há algum tempo atrás mas ainda não havia "testado-o". Digam o que quiserem, critiquem o quanto queiram, mas acho Titanic um filme muito bem feito. Você consegue se identificar com a Rose (Kate Winslet, linda como sempre), que está sendo sufocada em um mundo de aparências, em um mundo de pose... e prestes a ser totalmente submersa com a perspectiva do casamento forçado que a espera nos Estados Unidos ao final da viagem, muito bem expressado nessa frase:

It was the ship of dreams... to everyone else. To me it was a slave ship, taking me back to America in chains

E não importa o quanto as pessoas falem mal do filme, que é piegas, que é óbvio, que é forçado... todas as vezes assisto com interesse o desenrolar da história, os dois (Rose e Jack) se conhecendo, ela se soltando de sua "escravidão" aos poucos, a imprudência do homem perante a Natureza ("It is unsinkable. God himself couldn't sink this ship."), a disputa de classes ("I didn't recognize you. Amazing! You could almost pass for a gentlemen."), etc, etc... e não importa quantas vezes eu assista o filme, sempre me emociono com uma das falas mais lindas quase ao final:

A woman's heart is a deep ocean of secrets. But now you all know there was a man named Jack Dawson, and that he saved me, in every way that a person can be saved.

05 novembro 2008

Futebol - Meu Universo Particular

Acho que todo mundo tem (ou pelo menos deveria ter) alguma atividade/hobby que lhe faça simplesmente "desligar" do restante do mundo.

Conheço pessoas para as quais a natação é essa atividade... pessoas que quando caem na piscina esquecem completamente de todo o resto (eu particularmente jamais consegui atingir tal nível de concentração, ainda mais com aquele silêncio todo debaixo d'água, que parece que amplifica seus pensamentos).

Para outras pessoas fazer yoga é algo transcedental, aonde conseguem eliminar todo e qualquer pensamento e concentrar-se apenas nos exercícios e na meditação (já eu, por mais que tentasse, não conseguia parar de pensar: "será que estou fazendo o exercício corretamente? será que minha respiração está certa?").

Para mim, a atividade que anula todo e qualquer pensamento da minha mente é o futebol. Não estou falando do ato de sentar a bunda no sofá e assistir na TV não (mesmo porque isso normalmente proporciona mais dor-de-cabeça do que experiência transcedental), mas sim do ato de realmente jogar futebol. Sim, porque quando entro em campo esqueço completamente do mundo fora dele... não importa se o projeto na empresa está atrasado, se teve corte salarial, se o namoro terminou, se está faltando dinheiro, se insira-aqui-sua-desgraça-favorita.... enquanto estou ali entre as quatro linhas do gramado (ou quadra, areião, rua, etc.), a única coisa que importa é pegar a bola e fazê-la entrar no gol do adversário (ao mesmo tempo tentando evitar que ela entre no gol do meu time).

E isso é algo que parece pouco, mas não é. Pare e pense quantas atividades na sua vida realmente limpam a sua mente de quaisquer preocupações enquanto você está executando-as. Aposto que não serão muitas, porque uma das características da vida moderna é justamente o fato de que estamos sempre "conectados" a tudo (casa, trabalho, estudo, etc.), e quase nunca "desligamos" de nada.

Refletindo sobre essa relação minha com o futebol, percebi também que sou uma outra pessoa enquanto jogo, veja o porquê:

  • Tímido, pero no mucho: sim, apesar das pessoas não acreditarem, sou tímido sim... mas quando é algo relacionado com futebol, deixo isso de lado e já vou logo perguntando se tem vaga para mais um, me oferecendo para jogar na maior cara-dura

  • Folgado como nunca: não tem outro jeito de descrever isso... sou realmente folgado quando estou jogando. Não importa se o adversário tem o dobro do meu tamanho, se vier me encher o saco eu respondo à altura e não "baixo a bola" pra ninguém (o que deve ser muito curioso para quem me conhece, pois normalmente sou um poço de tranquilidades - aka "conflict avoider")

  • Faça sol ou faça chuva: para jogar futebol eu já acordei às 6 horas da manhã de domingo, peguei trem, tomei chuva, tomei sol do meio-dia na cabeça, fiquei sem comer, já fui dormir mais de 3 da manhã para poder deixar todo mundo em casa depois do jogo, etc., etc... ou seja, taí algo que faço a qualquer dia/hora/tempo e sem achar ruim

Poderia pensar em uma outra infinidade de coisas sobre o tema, mas acho que se você chegou até aqui já merece um prêmio. O prêmio é que vou parar por aqui. :)

E você, também possui o seu universo particular? Também transforma-se em outra pessoa quando está fazendo alguma atividade?