Category Archives: Internet computer

Simple arithmetic for ‘Spain bloggers’ – 14 pays

First, the mystery of 14 pays per year (all before tax):

18000 / 12 = 1500
x 12 = 18000

18000 / 14 = 1285.71
x 14 = 18000

It’s the same amount of money, numb nuts.

And what’s the point moving to Germany when they’ll only give you a €450 minijob anyway? I think some ‘Spain bloggers’ (a broadly middle-aged, self serving, real-estate-hawking lobby) need to learn a bit more about Spain and listen a little less to Germany.

Happy new year.

Some thoughts about San Francisco, California

I’ve been in San Francisco since last Saturday and I leave this today. It’s a short visit and work-related but as my first visit to the USA, I thought I’d jot down some thoughts.

The City

It’s a pleasant place. No one would say that the city itself is particularly beautiful (the towers of the financial district are particularly foul) but its surrounding geography is gorgeous, as are the portals that link the City with the outside: the Bay and the Golden Gate bridges. SF sums up that late 20th century ideal of a business-oriented city with a sporty, arty, best popcorn popper vibe. It’s kind of like Sydney, or at least that’s the place it most reminds me of. The difference is that SF is apparently fed by new technologies while Sydney banks the wealth obtained in vast mines.


San Franciscans do not enjoy jokes about earthquakes. Or even jokey remarks. Many people here seem to be expecting the Big One which, depending on how big it is, could realistically destroy the whole place. It’s “long overdue” but I hope that it never strikes, at least not while there are people living here.

Food and Beverages

San Francisco considers itself to be something of a ‘foody’ city. Which is both a good thing and a bad thing. I didn’t get to eat at Boulevard, just up the road from my hotel because I couldn’t get anyone to come with me. Likewise, the French Laundry, out in Napa. Most of what I did eat here (a couple of gourmet hamburgers, some Thai curry, a couple of traditional brasserie dinners, Chinese – twice) was very good and quite affordable. The local beer scene is lively and tasty, and even the city’s standard brew – Anchor Steam – is pretty good. I really enjoyed Napa Smith’s Organic IPA, with which the hotel cunningly stocked my room’s minibar. I didn’t get to try much local wine but I enjoyed a Conn Creek cabernet sauvignon (2008, I think), over a couple of nights.


I stayed at the Harbor Court hotel, on the embarcadero (old port). It’s close to our US office and so was pretty convenient for work. This is quite a touristy area, but it’s at the bottom of the financial district, which is where I found an Apple Store kind enough to sell me an iPad (over €100 cheaper than in Europe). Chinatown is fun, but I suspect it would have been a lot more fun 30 years ago. The Mission is my favorite district. It’s traditionally a latino neighborhood and has also played host to a range of great restaurants, galleries, bars and stores for decades. We ate some pretty good Thai food here and I also had dinner with Chris Barr from Yahoo in a place called Grub. The meal there was good, but I was suffering slightly from the Korean kimchi burrito with hot sauce that I’d eaten for lunch. Also in the Mission is the Pirate Store, 826 Valencia Street. This is also the spiritual home of The Believer, my current favorite periodical (I’m going to keep pushing this until you all subscribe). The Pirate Store has all the supplies any pirate might need, from lard to fathoms and siren silencers. It’s next door to a taxidermy store. These are two of the best shops I’ve ever been to. I didn’t see much of the Castro, though we did drive through it.


My reason for visiting San Francisco should be evident to anyone with even an inkling of what I do for a living. As the world capital of ‘new technologies’, especially web services and mobile devices, it’s at the center of my work day. Indeed, it was practically absurd that I hadn’t visited before. But there you have it. People here frequently exchange tips and recommendations for apps, and more than in Barcelona or London (that I’ve seen at any rate), all decisions are predicated on the advice of an iPhone or Android device. I had kind of hoped there’d be some city-wide high-speed wireless offering but this wasn’t the case. Facebook had a major event in town while I was here (in fact, I was supposed to be there bit due to a mix up, that didn’t happen). The local newspapers often report corporate stories at Yahoo, Twitter, Apple and Google on their front pages. This is a city imbued with a technological optimism. I shudder to think what could happen to the industry if an earthquake really does strike. I suspect that this may be one factor that encourages some firms to prefer Palo Alto and other cities further away from the faultline. Well, that and taxes.

And now I must put my California-designed notebook away and check out of my hotel. I’m coming back to Catalonia. That’s a great feeling.

There are a few photos from my visit on Google+ here. You don’t need to be a member of Google+ to view them. But you should sign up anyway: it’s a pretty good service. Check my blog to see my best umbrella stroller and my fitness videos that i made in SF parks.

10 Things WikiLeaks Should Tell Us About

I’ve not written anything about WikiLeaks recently because I’ve found the whole circus surrounding Julian Assange rather dizzying. Reading the commentariat on Guardian Cif has hardly helped my feverish state of mind over the last few days and I must admit that I found myself beginning to loathe my fellow man for a moment. That moment has passed, I’m glad to say.

Suffice to say, I do think that Julian Assange should probably answer these charges in Sweden, but I also have the feeling that this is indeed part of an obvious and concerted campaign to ‘get him’. None of this dizziness, however, takes away from the fact that WikiLeaks has been serving up some interesting, if hardly surprising, morsels in the diplomatic cables episode [this blog referenced WikiLeaks a couple of years back regarding the leaked BNP membership list – much more exciting]. Hearing that China isn’t a monolithically stupid country convinced that the People’s Democratic Republic of Korea is a bastion of like-minded souls against the world didn’t take my breath away. Nor did the revelation that Putin’s as corrupt as the Church, or that pressure was brought to bear on Spain regarding the Jose Couso case. Sadly, these are slightly depressing truths that we all kind of knew already, just confirmed in dull, bureaucratic language.

To cheer myself up, I’ve been thinking of some things WikiLeaks could reveal in the future. Here are mine. You can share yours in the comments…

  1. Memos that prove me right about there being little or no evidence of WMDs in Iraq prior to the war, and that Blair misled parliament.
  2. Stuff about the banks and how they’re all bastards. Ideally some memos proving that they laugh at the rest of us for funding their rescue. Because I’m sure they do.
  3. Something about alien life. I’m not a conspiracy nut, but after the important-but-nowhere-near-as-exciting-as-it-might-have-been NASA announcement last week, it would be great to read.
  4. Categorical confirmation that Aznar and the PP intentionally misled the country over 11M.
  5. Anything that makes Dick Cheney look even madder than he already does (like, he picked out crowns for himself and Bush or something).
  6. Clear evidence of corruption in FIFA, UEFA and European leagues.
  7. Anything they have on Dr. David Kelly. I more or less accept the suicide story but the whole case stinks.
  8. Proof that 9/11 ‘truthers’ are led by a 7-foot lizard.
  9. Material covering the huge increase in opium crop since the beginning of the Afghanistan war, which companies are profiting and by how much.
  10. Anything at all to do with Catalan politics. Just so we can see how special they feel.

How about you? What would you like to see revealed by WikiLeaks?

When the internet is great (fixies & Olduvai theory)

One of the things I love about the web is discovering what are, for me, entirely new subcultures with their own special debating points and jargon. One such subculture I discovered today (by means of a Guardian story about Racer Rosa bicycles) is that of ‘fixies’ – fixed-wheel bicycle enthusiasts.

I used to love bicycling as a youth, though I never use my bike these days. The fixed-wheel bikes that Racer Rosa makes are quite gorgeous, though, and made me feel like perhaps a change away from ugly, cheap ATBs would be a nice idea. But to my shame, I didn’t even know what fixed-wheel meant. In case you don’t know, it’s one of those more old fashioned bikes where the pedal moves when the wheel does, and vice versa. In other words, you can’t coast on a fixed-wheel bike. In other words, you can use pedal control to stop a fixed-wheel bike. I remember using bikes like that many years ago.

Google > Wikipedia > Moving Target – and a couple of minutes later, I’m reading a discussion about whether or not fixies should should have a front brake or not. I’m not claiming any deep understanding of their world, but at least I know about fixies now. This is one reason I really love the internet.

Earlier, I also discovered this highly depressing theory about the impending end of industrialised society. It has been around for ages, it seems, and I just hope that it’s utter bollocks. All the same, I still love the internet.

Are the Brits the most racist Catalans?

Most of the genuine Catalan people I know ( real ones – not the ones who are called Jordi Gárcia Sánchez et al)”

You won’t hear many Catalans spouting this kind of crap (though I know ‘charnego’ still gets chucked about sometimes by the knuckle-draggers and mouth-breathers). So why would a dodgy English blogger from a two-donkey village outside Barcelona* try to get away with it?

Note also the smooth practice of closing comments on a post when you’ve been proven wrong continues as if it’ll never go out of fashion.

*No relation.

Vote on comments @

Hello gentle reader. You might notice some changes around here today as I’m testing some new plugins on my WordPress installation. The first one is that you can now ‘vote’ on comments by giving them a thumbs up or thumbs down. It’s so much fun, you wouldn’t believe it. Now commenting on will be a genuine popularity contest.


I’ll be adding some more bits and pieces to make your visit more comfortable. I’ll also probably be tweaking the design a bit, as I haven’t dicked around with that for ages.

Oh, and I’m committed to writing more on the blog than I have done recently. Hopefully, exile to Devon over Christmas will stir my creative juices some. In the meantime, get voting!

Just over a year ago…

…Iberian Notes stopped being updated. Just thought I’d remind you. A whole year of reduced blood pressure and increased happiness. I really never thought he’d be able to last a year.

And so it falls to me to be the moody expat loser blogger (Trev is better but he never says anything).

First topic: off to Modbury (‘el poble’) next weekend. Not much blogging will ensue. Still alive, though.

LiC cites the ABC, demonstrates shaky grasp of everything

Another faintly ridiculous article from the LiC blog here, claiming that Carod Rovira is determined to destroy the Spanish language. The reason behind this claim is that the Generalitat have apparently invested €1m in helping the Ecuadorian government protect its indigenous languages and to promote bilingualism. You can find more information about this program from the dineib agency of the Ecuadorian education ministry.

In the comments on the blog (my tip is don’t bother leaving a comment: he’ll likely delete you or change your words), Mathew points out that this move has nothing to do with Carod Rovira or the president’s department of the Generalitat, providing the link I used earlier to dineib. Jeff/Steve/whoever it is that runs LiC’s response was priceless:

My dear Mathew, I do love your sense of humour. Far from being utterly ridiculous, the article was a direct translation from the noted newspaper ABC, I don’t know if you read the news in Spanish by the way.

Now, for those of you who are as yet unblessed by contact with the ABC newspaper, this would be something like a British blogger saying “Not my words, Mathew. The words of the Daily Express!”. OK so it’s not a perfect comparison (the ABC is far stuffier and more traditional than the Express) – but the point (that citing it as a reliable source on any story, let alone one concerning the Catalan government which it is duty bound to despise, is ridiculous and shows a complete lack of understanding of the subject), stands. And never mind the fact that the article was ‘a direct translation’ without citation.

He goes on:

Yours is a typical example comment from a “wannabee [sic] radical Catalan” and most people with a “sufficient level of intellectual cohesion in English” would poo poo your delirious ideals.You’ve spent far too long in this region my friend.

Now this is a particularly interesting method of attack coming from someone who has frequently used the riposte “Come back when you’ve lived here for ten years, then we’ll see” as his stock response to logical argument and accurate criticism. Incidentally, this “wannabee radical Catalan” line is eerily close to the email another commentator received from said ‘admin’ which included the memorable line “What are you? Some little Catalan loser who leaves snide remarks like Tom and Rab over people’s blogs because you can’t face the truth.” and went on to call him a “silly cunt”.

Add all this to the roll of honours LiC has already claimed (stating that the nivell C certificate is ‘the same’ as forced tattooing in Nazi death camps; deleting comments which attempted to correct him; posting fake comments; trolling this site; nicking content), and we can see that not only is LiC not a blog worth following, it’s not even worth criticising.

At least Iberian Notes had a brain. All LiC has is a bit of SEO, some clumsy, amateurish SEM and a dearth of decent content.

Blogging: when to remove comments?

Some website chat follows. If you’re not interested in the ins and outs of such things, I wouldn’t bother reading on.

The other day I received a comment on a post which was not only off-topic and pretty rude but also made with a false email address (I wrote the commenter a polite email asking him to rein it in a little bit and the email bounced back immediately). There was no doubt that I’d remove the comment but even as I did so, it annoyed me a bit that I had to. I don’t like removing comments comments from this blog unless they’re obvious spam, because it always feels somewhat dictatorial.

So I thought I’d refine and simplify my comments policy to make it a little clearer exactly what you need to do to get your comment removed, and what you should do if you think a comment was removed unfairly.

I also want to make it absolutely clear that (a) I’m always very open about my identity when commenting on other blogs and in my own ‘about me’ section; (b) I’m annoyed when other blogs (“lifeincatalonia”, for example), use the comment moderation tool to suppress criticism, argument or clarification – in my opinion, not the way to promote debate on your pages; and (c) that I find it rather creepy when I get three or four different comments from the same IP address using different names, emails and websites… not creepy enough to make me delete your comments but creepy enough to take note.