We have released!

Submitted by gwolf on Mon, 08/02/2010 - 14:25

If you have seen me anywhere near my computer at DebConf, you probably have seen the face of a hurried, worried developer. Still, if you monitor my Debian-related activity, you will notice it is still quite low, even given my (much needed and very much enjoyed) vacations pre-DebConf. Yes, orga-team work is very time consuming, even if my role is far from central this year. And yes, DebCamp+DebConf are known for sucking time into social interaction, which is great but not so (formally) productive. And yes, I even took 1.5 days off to visit my family and a friend who live in the area...

Still, I managed to release! \☺/

Release what?

I have been working with Pooka for the last ~2 years on the Seminary on Collaborative Knowledge Construction. We assembled a group of ~10 speakers/authors, each of whom prepared a chapter for a book meant for publication. Pooka and me coordinated the work, which took a long time because it was also an interaction experiment (and because we both did it only in our free time).

After the coordination work started fading, I took up the task of coming up with a way to translate it all into LaTeX (and fix a host of conversion bugs, and play with the available packages, and... Hey, I'm after all just a LaTeX newbie, and had to learn to tame the beast!), I stumbled upon that precious fact that makes so many projects release.

I stumbled upon a deadline.

We want to publish the book under the seal of IIEc-UNAM. Besides my workplace, it is a very well regarded university, and having its seal in our work is definitively a big plus. And the Publications Committee of my Institute is meeting this week - So I had to send our final manuscript by today.

Having a deadline overlapping with DebConf sucks. But somehow, I managed to do the needed work to my complete satisfaction. The work is now in the Committee's hands, and I expect to have more news soon(ish).

Oh, and where can you get our work? Well, if you register in our site, you will be able to read the whole contents. And once the book is approved and published, the whole work will be published online under a free (CC-BY-SA) license.

BTW, that probably means I will have more time to fix my Debian bugs and pending stuff! \☻/

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Running around

Submitted by gwolf on Tue, 07/27/2010 - 19:53

If Tim can report his movements around New York, so can I! ;-) Sadly, due to Nokia deprecating my still-quite-new N95 phone by not allowing me to use their service anymore, I won't be able to share my routes with you – But anyway…

This morning I decided to take a quick run to start off the day on Riverside Park (the park where we had dinner yesterday). I went South for about 3Km and headed back (for, you guessed right, a grand total of 6Km), and decided that 45 minutes of exercising are enough to declare my day started - As I started at ~8:15, it was getting warm (specially when running under the sun). I am quite heath-intolerant; it's not unpleasant at all, but I will try to run earlier on future days.

Riverside is a long and narrow park. I ran Southwards by the lower trail, in the park itself, but ran Northwards by the upper trail, in the wide sidewalk between the street and the park. The way South was also way flatter, while the way back goes up and down repeatedly.

I don't think I will run on a daily basis, but that will be determined by my mood when I open my eyes in the morning ;-) Anyway, riverside is a very nice run, and I expect to head North. I still am not back to running ~10Km, so I won't do the Central Park trail Tim did - But I'll surely go run there as well a bit. And rent a bike one of this days for a ~2hr morning ride, of course!

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New York at last!

Submitted by gwolf on Mon, 07/26/2010 - 13:36

I spent the past three weeks away from basically any kind of usual contact. I took a three week vacation in Argentina (Buenos Aires, Entre Ríos, Tucumán, Salta, Jujuy, Córdoba), got my first snow experience and enjoyed a real lot... But got completely disconnected from all of my usual activities... and responsabilities :-}

Anyway, yesterday afternoon I landed in New York. Arrived to Columbia around 2PM, and spent most of the day zombying around with the Debian crew. And today it starts feeling like the real job is starting.

As always, there is a lot of excitement when DebConf starts. I have many items I want to work on, and most are even Debian related ;-) So, lets get work flowing!

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Debian by its numbers, as seen by keyring-maint

Submitted by gwolf on Fri, 07/02/2010 - 14:24

At keyring-maint, we got a request by our DPL, querying for the evolution of the number of keys per keyring – This can be almost-mapped to the number of Debian Developers, Debian Maintainers, retired and deleted accounts over time since the keyrings are maintained over version control.

Stefano insisted this was more out of curiosity than anything else, but given the task seemed easy enough, I came up with the following dirty thingy. I'm sure there are better ways than cruising through the whole Bazaar history, but anyway - In case you want to play, you can clone an almost-up-to-date copy of the tree: bzr clone http://bzr.debian.org/keyring/debian-keyring/

  1. #!/bin/perl
  2. use strict;
  3. my ($lastrev, @keyrings, %revs, $fh);
  4. open $fh, '>growth_stats.txt' or die $!;
  6. @keyrings = sort qw(debian-keyring-gpg debian-keyring-pgp
  7. debian-maintainers-gpg
  8. emeritus-keyring-gpg emeritus-keyring-pgp
  9. removed-keys-gpg removed-keys-pgp);
  11. system('bzr unbind'); # Huge speed difference :-P
  12. $lastrev = `bzr revno`;
  14. for my $entry (split /^---+$/m, `bzr log`) {
  15. my ($rev, $stamp);
  16. for my $line (split(/\n/, $entry)) {
  17. next unless $line =~ /^(revno|timestamp): (.*)/;
  18. $rev = $2 if $1 eq 'revno';
  19. $stamp = $2 if $1 eq 'timestamp';
  20. }
  21. $revs{$rev} = { stamp => $stamp };
  22. }
  24. spew('Revision', 'Date', @keyrings);
  25. system('bzr bind')
  27. for my $rev (sort {$a<=>$b} keys %revs) {
  28. system("bzr update -r $rev");
  29. spew($rev, $revs{$rev}{stamp},
  30. map {my @keys=<$_/*>;scalar(@keys)} @keyrings);
  31. }
  33. sub spew {
  34. print $fh join('|', @_),"\n"
  35. }

And as a result... Yes, I fired up OpenOffice instead of graphing from within Perl, which could even have been less painful ;-) I had intended to leave graphing the data raw (also attached here) as an excercise to the [rl]eader... But anyway, the result is here (click to view it in full resolution, I don't want to mess your reading experience with a >1000px wide image):

A couple of notes:

  • Debian Developers are close to the sum of debian-keyrings-pgp and debian-keyrings-gpg
  • After a long time pestering developers (and you can see how far down the tail we were!), as of today, debian-keyrings-pgp will cease to exist. That means, no more old, v3, vulnerable keys. Yay! All the credit goes to Jonathan. Some last DDs using it are still migrating, but we will get them hopefully soon.
  • To be fair... No, the correct number is not the sum. Some people had more than one key (i.e. when we had ~200 keys in debian-keyring-pgp). The trend is stabilizing.
  • Of course, the {removed-keys,emeritus-keyring}-{pgp,gpg} will continue to grow. Most removed keys are a result of tons of people migrating over from 1024D to stronger 4096R keys
  • You can easily see the points where we have removed inactive developers (i.e. the main WAT lack-of-response, as seen at about ¾ of the graph)
  • keyring-maint handles the Debian Maintainers keyring since late 2009. There is a sensible increase (~10% in six months), although I expected to see that line grow more. I think it's safe to say the rate of influx of DMs is similar to the rate of influx of DDs - Of course, many DMs become DDs, so the amount of new blood might be (almost) the sum of the two positive slopes?

Anyway, have fun with this. Graphics are always fun!

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Once upon a time

Submitted by gwolf on Fri, 06/18/2010 - 21:44

With due apologies and thanks to my dear and crazy friend UCH:

Once upon a time
Once, because twice would be a repetitive story
A king
One, because two would mean war
Who was married to a queen
One, because two would be drama
They had a princess daughter
One, because two would be a mess
Who was in love with a knight
One, because two would be a soap opera
He was given the task of killing a dragon
One, because two would be a titanic feat
The hero had an idea
One, because two would be asking too much
Using a unique magic sword
One, because were they two, it would no longer be unique
With which, he took the dragon's life
One, because it was a dragon, not a cat
Then they proceeded with the wedding
One, because two would mean bigamy
And they lived happily forever
One, because two forevers would be like two infinites
The end
One, because two ends would be complicated

The bad translation is completely my fault.

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What Mexico feels like

Submitted by gwolf on Mon, 06/14/2010 - 08:38

I have been recently approached by several friends, from different countries. Mexico and the violence seems to be a frequent news topic all over the world.

I live in Mexico City, as ~25% of the country's population does. This is not an easy city, of course, and I won't deny it has tons of problems of its own. However, Mexico City (and even more so the approximately ⅓ of it that is politically located in Distrito Federal, the formal country capital) is very lucky in this regard. Still, in most of the country, the violence is mostly in the news, mostly a worrying perception that is every day more insistent.

My parents live in Cuernavaca, Morelos, ~80Km south from us. Morelos has been known for decades for being the druglords' getaway and safe haven, so it remained a mostly peaceful state for most of this time. This has changed, and at some points during this year, militarization feels quite creepy... Fortunately, just for a couple of weeks, and then back to what seems like normal. The real problems in Morelos is the undeniable corruption of its successive governments, the lack of regard for the population, the inexistent urban planning...

However, I know from several friends living in the North of the country (and all along the very long border - The most drug-related violent states nowadays are Chihuahua, Durango, Sinaloa, Tamaulipas and Nuevo León, with only two states in the South — Michoacán and Guerrero) that violence is really felt by local population on the streets. Some friends say they have grown used to hearing shootings (Durango), others say that it is now usual that the cartels openly strangle the city's vial system with the express purpose of showing off their strength (Monterrey, Nuevo León, one of Mexico's most important cities and taken in the past as a token of industrialization and first-world-like life conditions... Just don't look towards the poor areas). About Chihuahua, I'd rather not even talk, as by all accounts (official even) it rivals Iraq in the lack of control the government has of its territory.

Still, with all that as background... I am afraid of what I read today in the news. I know a single declaration is not enough to worry about (as said in El Quijote, «una golondrina sola no hace verano», a single swallow does not mean it's summer), but those things always start small... Until they explode. La Jornada reports that The retired general Luis Garfias Magaña recommends suspending constitutional guarantees in the country to be able to properly fight violence.

The last century we had a sad and long history of cases where the military took over civilian power and suspended the constitutional rights in basically every nation in Latin America — Except for Mexico. Not one of those cases was overall successful. Not one of them went by without raging abuses, without terrible consequences. I don't see imminent we will go over to a military rule nor anything close to it, but the environment is getting each time closer to how it was like before said rights suspension. We should learn that it is just not the way, it leads nowhere.

I am convinced, and will keep insisting on it at every ocassion, that the only possible way to fight violence is by reducing the social distance, and that should be achieved most importantly by reducing poverty, but also by making it harder to become incredibly rich. Mexico's percentage of poor people has grown over the last decades, but at the same time, the amount of wealth concentrated in very few hands has grown much faster. A society with terribly rich and terribly poor people leads to hatred, leads to desperation, leads to violence. A flatter society, even if the overall standard was to be somewhat lower, tends to a better equilibrium. And yes, I know the original problem with drugs is that Mexico is a great transit area for drugs to reach the USA (and I could also rant about drug legalization — I won't, it's late and I must go to work), but the main fuel for young people to leave everything behind and take the risk of starting a life of open ilegality is the lack of future they face all life long. That leads many to risk their lives attempting to cross the border to the USA (Mexico "exports" 500,000 people every year), but also lures them to jobs where they will have easy money... In exchange for their lifes, ultimately.

Anyway... Just to repeat and round off: The answer to this problem is not repression, is not policial or military strength. Our only way out is through social justice.

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Planned obsolescence and propietary gear - Dear lazyweb, a sports tracking app for a N95 phone?

Submitted by gwolf on Sun, 06/13/2010 - 23:24


I got my current phone (a Nokia N95) back in January 2008. It was the first phone I ever paid for, and I don't expect that to change - The feature set I need from a phone is extremely basic, but I wanted to have a GPS unit on me, without needing to plan for it beforehand. As I recently blogged, I just got over the 5000Km mark (5269 as of last Friday), with almost daily usage since I registered.

A couple of days ago (although please note I don't log in often to the web page, I just upload my , I was greeted by this gem:


Thank you Nokia Sports Tracker beta users!

After two and a half years of operation, the Nokia Sports Tracker beta service will close as of June 30, 2010. Thanks to all of you exercise enthusiasts who used the service and contributed valuable feedback to its improvement.

We want you to stay active. You can keep tracking workouts through a new, non-Nokia service provided by Sports Tracking Technologies available for free in the Ovi Store. The new service is open for registrations at sports-tracker.com, and you'll even be able import your workout history from Nokia Sports Tracker until August 31, 2010.

In my case, instead of Thank you they could have just said Fuck off. They are directing me to a new application available in Nokia's Ovi store. Of course, this application is linked to a new 100% Flash-powered website. That would be a big turnoff for me, yes, although there are many ways around it (after all, I don't need the website functionality every day). However, I find the list of supported phones does not include the N95 (any version). This means, my two year old phone (which I bought as soon as the model arrived in Mexico) is obsolete now and they want me to (spend more money and) switch to a new one. Am I going to do that? Hell no!

The N95 phone is quite good. The only gripes I have is with the (slow, buggy and memory leak and phone crash prone) Symbian S60 operating system. I will probably keep using the SportsTracker application, although I won't be able to link my tracks as easily as I do today.

So... Dear lazyweb, do you know of any similar program? The feature set I use in Sports Tracker is:

  1. Have different activity profiles. I use Running and Cycling, and very ocassionaly Walking.
  2. Of course, GPS tracking, getting average and top speeds, altitude profile, etc.
  3. Aggregation into something website-friendly
  4. The ability to do my uploads post-factum (i.e. do not rely on a data plan, allow me to upload my excercising when I get home)

There are probably more things I'd want. But I am a geek, and I basically enjoy tracking myself, and sharing my tracks with $world.

Thanks, dear lazyweb. I am confident you won't let me down.

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World Naked Bike Ride 2010 — Mexico

Submitted by gwolf on Sun, 06/13/2010 - 15:15

For the second time (First time was in 2008; I didn't join in 2009 as I travelled to Nicaragua on that date), I took part of the World Naked Bike Ride. The WNBR is a global effort, where people in ~150 cities all over the world go cycling nude on the streets of our towns, with varied demands, including:

  • Safe conditions for cyclists (mainly aimed at car drivers, at the society at large, but also requesting proper infrastructure measures from our respective governments)
  • Raising the consciousness that every individual has a bit of power to free us all from oil-produced pollution
  • Tolerance, acceptance of people who are not exactly like us
  • Lower the ecologic impact of humans against the world

I love my bike!

One of the things I most like about WNBR is its diversity. Not everybody goes for the same reasons. As people who read me often will know, I took part because I believe (and act accordingly!) that the bicycle is the best, most efficient vehicle in –by far– most of the situations we face day to day, but we need to raise awareness in everybody that the bicycle is just one more vehicle: On one side, we have the right to safely ride on the streets, like any other vehicle. On the other side, we must be responsible, safe drivers, just as we want car drivers to be.

Ok, and I will recognize it before anybody complains that I sound too idealistic: I took part of the WNBR because it is _tons_ of fun. This year, we were between 300 and 500 people (depending on whom you ask). Compared to 2008, I felt less tension, more integration, more respect within the group. Of course, it is only natural in the society I live in that most of the participants were men, but the proportion of women really tends to even out. Also, many more people joined fully or partially in the nude (as nudity is not required, it is just an invitation). There was a great display of creativity, people painted with all kinds of interesting phrases and designs, some really beautiful.

Oh, one more point, important to me: This is one of the best ways to show that we bikers are not athletes or anything like that. We were people ranging from very thin to quite fat, from very young to quite old. And that is even more striking when we show our whole equipment. If we can all bike around... So can you!

Some links, with obvious nudity warnings in case you are offended by looking at innocent butts and similar stuff:

As for the sad, stupid note: 19 cyclists were placed under arrest in Morelia, Michoacán because of faltas a la moral (trasgressions against morality), an ill-defined and often abused concept.

Also, by far, most of the comments I have read from people on the media, as well a most questions we had by reporters before or after the ride were either why are you going nude‽ (because that's the only way I'll get your attention!) or But many people were not nude! (nudity is not a requirement but only an option.

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Spot the differences?

Submitted by gwolf on Sun, 06/06/2010 - 12:05
Spot the differences?

Left: British Petroleum's logo. British Petroleum gained international notoriety last April because of the catastrophic oil spill it is still unable to contain in the North of the Gulf of Mexico; so far, the oil has reached the coasts of Louisiana and Mississippi, and keeps growing and spreading, as probably the worst-ever oil spill. So far, the sea surface covered by oil is larger than several countries in the world. Some sites have very interesting maps that might help understand the importance and size of the spill: BP Gulf Oil Spill Maps in The Daily Green, Deepwater Horizon Incident, Office of Response and Restoration, USA National Ocean Service, Article on Slashdot about quantifying and dealing with the deepwater spill.

Right: Mexico's de facto government's logo. One of the most pushed projects of Felipe Calderón's government (that was fortunately canceled) was to pursue the tesorito de las aguas profundas (little treasure that lies deep in the water); they strongly pushed for a reform in the oil legislation, which is 100% government-funded since 1938, to allow for private investment in orded to build platforms reaching oil deposits 3000m below the Gulf's surface. Yup, precisely like the one that produced this massive spill, although most would probably be bound to much less strict regulation and controls to what they have in the US.

Is the similarity between the two logos just a strange coincidence?

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Update: A correspondingly pleasant dinner

Submitted by gwolf on Sun, 05/30/2010 - 22:48
Update: A correspondingly pleasant dinner

And just to round off my last post (and of course, following a completely non-technical thematic), what is the logical consequence of feeling introspective and blogging just before preparing dinner? Of course — Dinner gets prepared with sharing it in mind. The dish ends up even looking as if meant to be served!

So this was it: One of my simplest and still favorite dishes: Tostadas. But, yes, these are heterodox tostadas, as they share the basic tostadiness (a hard, roasted and cracky toasted corn tortilla with a soft leguminous layer to give it some consistency, and with... stuff on top. Yes, stuff is sometimes too generic, but that's the beauty of it). What did I come up with? In the strict order with which they were approached at feeding time, and described bottom to top:

  1. Closest to traditional, top left: Mashed beans, bits of panela cheese with little bits of chipotle and soybean-based vegetarian chorizo
  2. Something I have only seen in Guatemala, and which I intend to take a better look at next time I'm there (top right): Mashed frijoles, , cochinita pibil (canned, shame on me, and frankly lacking in taste), grated beet (betabel/remolacha/betarraga/whatnot), grated cabbage
  3. The heterodoxiest of them all, and the idea that led me to the others (center): Mashed lima/fava beans (according to Google – habas), cochinita pibil, nopales, and a hint of habanero sauce.


[update] On a completely unrelated notice, but not worth opening a third post in a row... Some minutes after I published the earlier post, I got a visit to http://gwolf.org/blog/pleasant-perception-changes?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter. Now, it beats me: I don't use twitter. I don't even care about twitter. And were my message so deep somebody just twitted (twat it?) right away, I still find the time lapse too short. Who's auto-twitting me? Maybe a planet or other such aggregator?

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Pleasant perception changes

Submitted by gwolf on Sun, 05/30/2010 - 21:36

My day started late, although I didn't scratch the plan: Enjoy 40Km cycling, as –as every last Sunday of the month– we have the delicious Ciclotón — 32Km, plus ~10km from and to my house. Approximately 12:00-14:20, including stopping at a service station to patch my rear tire. Yes, I was pressing my way up the last bridge (Circuito Interior over Coyoacán and Universidad) when the road was opened to motorized traffic. Two hours of cycling are enough to make me a happy person.

However, I have been downish lately, and during the afternoon (which I spent doing some home maintenance, as I usually do on weekends), I felt this downness grow somewhat. Nothing terrible, just I guess the processes that I have to live through.

Then, after ~1hr reading a somewhat tough book, I closed it thinking, "this was a good day". And surprised myself with the reflection.

So, while I don't think this can put me back into the activity/productivity status I have held and would love to regain... Is certainly a very nice push forward.

Time to get something for dinner, as my body also reminded me it is not exempt of such needs (as it faithfully reminds me, often more frequently than it should)

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One more fatal accident in my usual environment

Submitted by gwolf on Tue, 05/25/2010 - 00:34

I was about to close down a good day of hard work, a heavy but useful day... I had even decided to take some time off to listen to some good music, and was heading off to bed on a good mood...

Until I decided to read my contacts' latest rants. And I found very sad news - again.

A ten year old kid was killed while cycling in Calle Nezahualpilli, Colonia Ajusco.

I happen to know quite well that precise area - I lived very close to that street for some months in 2008. I eat in a small restaurant (what we call either a cocina económica, comida corrida or fondita) on that street. One of my usual bycicle workshops is also on that street - In fact, I wanted to go today, as both of my bikes' rear tires are flat, but had no time to make it.

Anyway... Colonia Ajusco and Colonia Santo Domingo ("colonia" is basically... a neighbourhood in es_MX) are two very popular, economically depressed areas, just North-East of the University. Probably hundreds or thousands of students live in rented rooms in the area, as UNAM with its 300,000 students does not have any dorms (due to political reasons leading all the way back to the 1960s).

Santo Domingo and Ajusco are also the part where Mexico City's main valley finishes. The hills begin, not too abruptly (we have a ~150m difference in the ~2Km spanned by both colonias). And... When I lived there, I was amazed at the amount of people moving by bike. The streets are too slow for motorized transit to properly flow, and it's often annoying to have to cross the region. It is mostly safe for cyclists.

Anyway, this kid was having a good time on the street, and was killed by a microbus driver fighting his fellow over more clients. The driver, yes, was caught (by his passengers and other bystanders, according to the note), and did not run away as they often do in cases such as this one. Still, the kid died almost instantly, so catching the driver serves very little consolation.

This Friday we will have BiciUNAMonos second monthly meeting. It is too soon, and I don't think we will end up going there. But I do feel this accident falls squarely inside UNAM user's territory. We cannot ignore it just because it happened outside our University's gates.

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e-voting seminar, Mexico City, tomorrow

Submitted by gwolf on Tue, 05/11/2010 - 14:00

If anybody is interested or can attend: Tomorrow and the day after (Wednesday and Thursday 12-13/05/2010) FLACSO (a leading Social Sciences faculty spanning countries all over Latin America) and IFE (Mexico's federal electoral authority) are presenting a seminar on e-voting: Electronic vote experiences in Mexico and around the world.

Sadly, I will be unable to attend, as I will be on the road once again (Ecuador!). However, I hope those among my readers who are interested in the topic can attend — or at least follow the audio and video transmission from the IFE website.

The seminar will be held at IFE's auditorium — Viaducto Tlalpan No. 100, Col. Arenal Tepepan, Delegación Tlalpan, c.p. 14610, México, DF.

[update] If you don't know what is my stand on this topic (and can read Spanish), please read this short article. In short: I am against e-voting, and hope we are still in time (and can push at the right places) to avoid it becoming the rule in our country.

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You will not be renumbered

Submitted by gwolf on Sun, 05/09/2010 - 14:21

I woke up with a loud BZZZT — It happens every couple of years. The electric transformer for the circuit where my house is located, at the Northern edge of Ciudad Universitaria, decided to die (or at least, to take a break… literally).

About one hour later, I decided it was time to wake up and start being a useful person. I gave breakfast to my cats and had breakfast myself, and called the electrical company to report this mishap. They told me the report was registered, and I hope to have electricity soon (meanwhile, I'm sitting at a nearby restaurant, as there is some job to do — Yes, besides writing blog entries). And they told me, as is often told in Mexico, a general anticorruption phrase – With a twist: «recuerde que usted no debe renumerar ningún servicio que realice el personal de la Comisión Federal de Electricidad». (You should not renumber any service done by the Federal Electrical Commission personnel). Yes, remunerado (not renumerado).

This shows once again the power of asking people to read things they don't understand.

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5000 Km

Submitted by gwolf on Thu, 05/06/2010 - 07:34

In an amazing but meaningless feat of synchronicity, Toxicore's post led me to check how much distance have I done while excercising – I have mainly done this cycling, although some running also comes into play. Turns out I was just about to break the same mark he did. From my Nokia Sportstracker records:

Before breaking the 5000 Km mark, yesterday at noon:
Yesterday excercise records, at noon

After breaking the 5000 Km mark, yesterday at night:
Yesterday excercise records, at night

So, following Bubulle's style... If I have done 5000 Km since January 2008, when do you think I should reach 5500? 6000? 7000? Infinity and beyond?

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