## January 31, 2008

### It's Puzzle Week! And Starting Off is Sudoku!

I am a big fan of puzzles. I love giving my brain a good workout. If you are ever in the mood to do so too, just grab any of the puzzles I will be presenting this week and give them a try. I have selected my seven favorite puzzles which don't require a computer to play (although they should all be available on computer anyway).

I'll start with the very popular Sudoku. Although sometimes regarded to as a math puzzle, Sudoku is actually a logic puzzle. You could actually play Sudoku with any other set of symbols or even colors. Of course, numbers make it easier to solve since they can be easily verified by counting them. The object of the game is simple. Every row, every column, and every 3X3 grid must contain the numbers from 1 through 9 (without repeating!). Here is a sample unsolved grid:

Sudoku really helps with visualization. After some time of solving Sudoku puzzles, you will be able to cross out rows and columns by just looking briefly at the grid. The harder ones require you to cross out many rows at once and the evil ones are basically impossible to do without writing in all the possibilities for each cell. I personally prefer to solve Sudoku puzzles on paper, since I can handle the subscripts with much more ease.

Sudoku puzzles are a great place to start if you're interested in puzzles. They may get repetitive after a while, but even then, there are dozens of variants (like Jigsaw Sudokus and 16X16 Sudokus) to keep you busy.

## January 29, 2008

### New Themed Week Coming Up

First week of February will be another themed week similar to the Comic Strip Week I ran back in December. I'm pretty excited about this one, so I hope you enjoy it! Meanwhile, I have also been trying to think of a new design and subtitle for the blog. Any ideas?

## January 27, 2008

### Papers on HCI

One of the classes I am taking this semester is mainly about reading HCI (Human-Computer Interaction) papers. This is an area that is really starting to get my attention, so I am very excited. Although there is a lot of reading to do, I think it will be worthwhile. Reading papers is one of the best ways to get a sense of the field and what has been done before. The problem is that normally you don't know where to start or how to select papers in order to get a good general idea of the field. I think this class solves this problem for me. I am reading all sorts of interesting papers on HCI, which deal with topics such as social psychology applied to online communities, electronic capabilities on paper, modeling affections, and more. There is only one more hurdle I have to get over: class participation...

## January 23, 2008

### Harris Paints

As I experience negative temperatures, I can't help but think of my homeland. Here is an ad that became so popular in Puerto Rican movie theaters that some people would stand up and put there hands on their hearts as if it was the national anthem. It was simple, but the song was catchy and also did a good job of capturing our culture in its lyrics.

The lyrics (with my translation next to them) go like this:

Pinta tu vida (Paint your life)
con los colores de mi tierra (With the colors of my land)
Frambuesa piragua (raspberry [as in the color], piragua [basically flavored shaved ice on a cone])
blanco como el coco (white like coconut)
amarillo mango (yellow, mango)
Verde quenepa (green, mamoncillo)
Azul de adoquines (blue of cobblestones?)
rojo flamboyán (red, flamboyán)
turquesa del mar (turquoise of the sea)
Son los colores de mi tierra (they're the colors of my land)
Nuestros colores (our colors)
Pinta tu vida (paint your life)
con los colores que Harris te da (with the colors that Harris qives you)

The song really hit the spot with Puerto Ricans. Everyone tried to memorize the lyrics. The guys at Harris marketing outdid themselves in knowing their audience. Now every time I go to the movies, I can't help but remember this great national movie theater anthem.

## January 20, 2008

### Tough

Minus 10 degrees is tough. I admire all the people that can go on with their daily work and lives even when temperatures drop below zero. I have somehow managed to survive these temperatures using only jeans to cover my legs. But today I discovered the difference that just one more layer of pants can make. I went outside and had to wonder whether it was really below zero, since I felt so warm. I guess the same goes for programming. You can survive with just basic knowledge. But one more layer of extra knowledge can really make a difference! I guess that is probably why I decided to get my PhD...

## January 16, 2008

### 1000 Visits!

This blog reached its first landmark yesterday. After a little more than 4 months, it finally reached the 1000th visit. That's not bad at all given the scarce promotion I have given to the blog and the steep decline in visits during Christmas break. Thanks to all of you who drop by often!

### My First Attempt at Designing an Easy-to-Maintain Website

This past weekend, my father was "installed" as a pastor of a church back in Puerto Rico. My mom suggested that I make a website for the church as a gift. I took the challenge and during the installation presented my first prototype of the site.

What happens in the case of many non-profit organizations and churches is that they lack people with sufficient technical knowledge to keep a page updated or that the people who do have the knowledge lose interest or focus their attention on other tasks. That is why I tried to make the site as easy to maintain as possible. Since my dad likes blogging, I looked for a blogging service which would also let me modify the design as I pleased. I settled for typepad.com. This way, the site could be kept fresh with new content thanks to its easy-to-use blogging features. I also made the calendar an embedded google calendar, so that activities could be kept up to date without any html editing.

Although the site seems to be working pretty good, I still have some design issues to fix. The problem is I did all my CSS design in Firefox and now (surprise!) the page looks weird in Internet Explorer. Anyway, here is a sneak preview of what the page looks like in Firefox (it's in Spanish by the way):

And here is the slightly screwed-up IE version:

## January 11, 2008

### Almost Back

I will be back in Minnesota on Monday and hope to resume my normal blogging schedule. I hope all of you have enjoyed your holidays!

## January 3, 2008

### I Missed

Coming back to Puerto Rico, I remembered what I missed and didn't miss about my home island.

I missed being able to walk outside without three layers of clothes.

I missed all the good food.

I missed the great music with lively rhythm.

I missed my family and friends.

I missed not getting static shocks dozens of times a day.

I didn't miss all the road traffic.

I didn't miss the sun in my eyes while driving.

I didn't miss feeling sticky all the time because of humidity.

I didn't miss the hectic drivers.

I didn't miss not having my own car.

I am happy to be here in Puerto Rico and I am happy to be studying in Minnesota. I guess the trade-offs are worth it both ways.