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Welcome to my blog, which was once a mailing list of the same name and is still generated by mail. Please reply via the "comment" links.

Always interested in offers/projects/new ideas. Eclectic experience in fields like: numerical computing; Python web; Java enterprise; functional languages; GPGPU; SQL databases; etc. Based in Santiago, Chile; telecommute worldwide. CV; email.

© 2006-2015 Andrew Cooke (site) / post authors (content).

China Gamifies Real Life

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Spray Painting Bike Frame

From: andrew cooke <andrew@...>

Date: Sun, 4 Oct 2015 17:14:40 -0300

I just painted an aluminium bike frame.  Here's what I did - hopefully I'll
remember to follow-up in a year or so with some details on how well it has

After asking on Reddit, I found that the big problem with painting an
aluminium bike frame is that paint that "sticks" to aluminium long-term is
very hard to find.  So instead of stripping the paint, I simply sanded it
smooth and painted on top of that.

The frame (Marin Iron Springs) had quite a lot of detail, which I assumed was
transfers.  But when I started sanding it turned out (as far as I could tell)
to be quite a complex multi-layered, apparenetly stenciled, paint job.

I used 100 grade wet and dry (dry) paper to sand things down, focussing
particularly on raised edges.  With care, nowhere did I do through to the

I then placed vaseline on the headtube caps, used masking tape to seal off the
bottom bracket and headtube, and blu-tak to block screw holes, before
suspending the frame from the headtube on a ceiling hook on the balcony (which
was lined in sheets and newspaper).

Before painting I used alcohol wipes (I have a pile because of MS injections)
to give the (now washed and sanded) frame a final clean.

A single can of RustOleum grey primer was sufficient for two initial coats
(the second after some sanding to remove a run, mainly because I found I had
missed behind the seat post!).  The primer was good for learning how to spray
without runs (not hard really - just take your time and use "mini layers",
letting things dry for a minute or so between passes).

After that, I used two cans of pale blue (some cheap make sold locally), for
two top coats.  The first didn't cover well, but after the second things
looked pretty solid.

Each coat (of 4) was done a day apart.  I wet-sanded (320 grade, gently) and
cleaned with alcohol wipes between the two top coats.

The final finish was what I would call "satin".  For gloss, I think you'd need
to wet-sand and then add a clear top coat.  But I like how this looks so am
stopping here.

Unfortunately I am working next week, so assembling the bike will probably
take some time.  On the other hand, it's probably better to give the paint
more time to dry.



Weeks 10 + 11

From: andrew cooke <andrew@...>

Date: Sat, 3 Oct 2015 22:23:51 -0300

Week 10 was in San Francisco w parents:

* Read Thoma Ross's "Briarpatch"
  Great - everything you'd expect from Thomas (entertaining thriller).

Week 11:

* Spray-painted my bike frame.  Pretty easy, but time-consuming (multiple
  coats that need a day's wait between them).

* Read Ann Leckie's "Ancillar Justice"
  The details were better than the story as a whole, but the whole was pretty
  good anyway.  The character telling the story is a spaceship, reduced to
  controlling a single human automataton.  There's a detail where the default
  pronouns is feminine (so everyone is "she").  But character development was
  a bit odd (not clear what the motivations of the second character were, to
  me at least) and the question of whether to support the lesser of two evils,
  or try anarchy, which looked like it would be an interesting conundrum,
  never found any real depth.  But fun and decently well written.

* Skimmed "Cultural Evolution"
  Some interesting ideas, but nothing terribly gripping and a lot of
  hand-waving and guesswork.

* Read Cesar Hodalgo's "Why Information Grows"
  Decent, but not much more than his talk (previously linked here).  Could
  have had more maths / detail.

* Read Bing Xu's "Book From The Ground"
  Disappointing.  See review at Amazon link.

* Read Banana Yoshimoto's "Hardboiled & Hard Luck"
  Two novelas.  I enjoyed Hardboiled - Murikamiesque, but with more emotional
  depth.  Hard Luck, however, went too far for me, with little more than a
  discussion of emotions and (bland?) statements about "life".

* Read about 2/5 of Steve Helm's book on Neumann and Wiener.  More on that
  when I finish it.

* Cleaned up the code for Drawing.jl, added an extra example, and released.

* Made a small contribution to ColorTypes.jl

Pretty lazy week in all honesty.  Not sure why.



Books on Old Age

From: andrew cooke <andrew@...>

Date: Fri, 2 Oct 2015 12:42:43 -0300

Bunch of books and authors worth looking at here - 



Health Tree Maps

From: andrew cooke <andrew@...>

Date: Fri, 2 Oct 2015 06:41:20 -0300




MRA - Men's Rights Activists

From: andrew cooke <andrew@...>

Date: Sat, 26 Sep 2015 10:46:41 -0300

I've been trying to find something to help understand this more, and came
across http://goodmenproject.com/ethics-values/meet-the-mens-rights-movement/

(Triggered by



Writing Good C++14

From: andrew cooke <andrew@...>

Date: Thu, 24 Sep 2015 14:29:08 -0300




Risk Assessment - Fukushima

From: andrew cooke <andrew@...>

Date: Wed, 23 Sep 2015 08:43:08 -0300




The Future of Advertising and Surveillance

From: andrew cooke <andrew@...>

Date: Wed, 23 Sep 2015 08:32:44 -0300


Amusing, insightful.  Read to the end - it goes further than you might expect.

From https://www.metafilter.com/153255/The-only-thing-I-dont-want-to-do-is-to-raise-the-white-flag



Travelling With Betaferon

From: andrew cooke <andrew@...>

Date: Sun, 20 Sep 2015 19:38:23 -0300

Haven't seen this anywhere on the internet and it may help someone.  I have
travelled quite a few times on planes - to Europe, Japan and the USA - with
Betaferon, and have had no problems with the following method.

The background to this is that it is supposed to be kept cool.  I don't know
how much this is emphasised in other countries, but here in Chile it can often
be hotter than 25C, which is the maximum temperature, so when I was shown how
to use it, the nurse emphasised that it shoul dbe cariied in an insualted

So, I use an insulated "picnic box", made by Coleman, I think.  It looks like
it  would maybe hold a six-pack of beer.  Inside that I have a "freezer bag"
like you can buy in supermarkets to keep frozen food cold.  That is cut to
size, so that it fits inside the box and folds over at the top.

Then, inside the bag (inside the box) go the boxes of Betaferon (containing
the entire injection kit).  I can get, I think, 7 or 8 boxes in there plus one
or two of those blue "ice blocks" (again, used to keep frozen food cold).

The ice blocks sometimes raise questions at check-in, but the final decision
seems to be with the person who checks hand luggage just before boarding and
they have always accepted them.  I should note that I also have a photocopy of
the prescription taped to the top of the box and a photocopy of a letter from
my doctor saying it is needed, and needs to be cold, inside.

I also always explain, before it goes through an X-ray machine, what it

Recently I bought a digital clock / thermometer.  Nothing very fancy, but it
has max/min temperature functions.  And that shows that in normal use (ie much
of the time in the overhead locker in a plane) the temperature over 24 hours
doesn't exceed around 22C (by which time the blue blocks are completely

Before getting the thermometer I did try using ice (from inside the plane) on
long journeys (eg second or third leg).  But while that kept things cool, it
was a mess, with water sometimes leaking into the overhead locker.  So now,
with the knowledge from using the thermometer, I just leave things closed as
much as possible.  And I would use ice again if the blue blocks were ever

My vitamin D and betaject also go in hand luggage, but the gel packs for
cooling the area before injectinos are checked.

Also, it's worth checking regulations for different countries.  Japan, for
example, is pretty strict, but if you look carefully at the rules, there's an
exception for "injection kits" that seems to have been written pretty much
exactly for this kind of medication.



I think I know what I dislike so much about Metafilter

From: andrew cooke <andrew@...>

Date: Fri, 11 Sep 2015 17:12:25 -0300

It's finding out that people don't become better when they switch politics.

You see the world and all the crassness in it, and it's run by groups that
exclude you, or others.  And my response to that has always been to hate the

In contrast, Mefi is a group that is, or wants to be, or sympathises with, the
others.  But it's still a group.

And it's hard to deny them a certain logic.  Why not be like that?  Why not
fight back?



Weeks 8 + 9

From: andrew cooke <andrew@...>

Date: Mon, 7 Sep 2015 17:17:47 -0300

These were messed up by needing to work Thur+Fri of week 8, and then starting
9 early.  Ended up feeling like I lost more than I gained.  Will try to avoid
that in future (wasn't even particularly productive).

* Read (almost all of) "A Student's Guide To Entropy"
  Good, clear explanations.  The relationship between traditional and
  informational entopy was less sexy than I had hoped.  But certainly a better
  book for my needs) than "The Philosophy Of Information".

* Read Heraldo Muņoz's "The Dictator's Shadow"
  Review - http://acooke.org/cute/PinochetTh0.html

* Read Mari Akasaka's "Vibrator"
  Interesting view of Japan - much more "normal" than other "classic"
  Japanaese books I've read.  Recommended.

* Read most of Lorraine Justice's "Chain's Design Revolution"
  Very little about design.  More like an intro to Chinese culture for 
  someone in middle management who needs to deal with China in some way.
  Not recommended!

* Wrote a Julia package that wraps Cairo.
  Still not complete, but looking good.  Lost my temper with the Julia
  people who seem to spend more time patrolling commit emails than 
  writing docs that woul dlet me avoid their "helpful comments" (there's
  also a cultural thing that ties in with AskMe that I plan to write more
  on at some point).
  (This package motivated by work on drawing board mentioned in last
  report - ended up getting tired of the manual repetition and wanted
  to program what I was drawing...)

* Looked into painting my bike frame.  Think it will work if I smooth the
  existing paint down without cutting through to the aluminium.  Planning
  on using light blue once back from the USA (next week off will be in
  San Francisco).

* Medical issues - turns out that the "migraine aura" a while back was
  probably an MS outbreak (inflamation and damage in the optical nerve
  of my left eye).  But one (relatively small) outbreak in 3 years is 
  not enough to change drugs, so staying w Betaferon.