Luca Belletti

Product Manager living in London (UK)

It’s going to be one of those days…

Spilt milk.

But things seemed to pick up on the way to work as I beat my PB (never went above level 100 before) – see pic #2. And this is the reason I stopped reading.

And then the sun was shining most of today, and when I got home I could still see shadows on the walls – pic #3.

The Line Diet, or when a spreadsheet tells you what to eat

Yesterday I recorded the heaviest weight ever when I stepped on the scales. I have not been to the gym in a month so it’s not muscle mass that I’ve put on. Not that I needed to check, I just look down at my belly and shudder.

I am not entirely sure what happened, but over the past year I have really struggled to keep a healthy weight. I thought I had cracked it, after not having exactly the most balanced eating habits in my early twenties, but in the last twelve months I have made a bigger effort to keep the weight down and yet I got the worst results.

My friends are by now familiar with this, and often joke and ask me if this week I am eating out of tins or on the Master Cleanse. So here we go, another fad (perhaps) but this time in line with my everlasting desire to simplify and go to the essential: the Steve Ward Diet aka the Line Diet.

I first read about it on kottke.org, and I loved how simple and straight-forward it is. You enter your weight every day and it tells you if you can eat normally or just broccoli or some other low-calorie food. It can be achieved with graph paper, a spreadsheet, a website or an iPhone application, anything that lets you plot your daily weight on a graph and compare it to where you want to be. Here is what mine looks like:

We shall see if this one works. I am planning to lose 10 pounds in a month. And check back here in a few days, the spreadsheet will update as I progress. Nothing like being accountable to ensure I get results.

Shepherd’s Bush library has moved


I went to return a book at the library and I’d forgotten it was moving today to new premises right next to Westfield.
 
It all looked very new but the automatic book return machines were not working yet (they are meant to identify the book and accept its return).
 
It is now even closer to work and I am looking forward to using it more.
 
Apart from a handful of old favourites, I always release books into the wild once I’m done with them.
 
What do you do with books you have read?

An unexpected detour into the past

This morning I missed my bus stop on the way to work and found myself in Sussex Gardens. This is where I stayed when I first arrived in London, unsurprisingly as the street is packed with hotels end to end.

It wasn’t my first visit to London but it turned out to be a life-changing experience.

Today I got off, had a quick look around, took this photo and realised that I was there in the same time of year (I was about to start uni) and memories of one of the most exciting periods of my life started rushing back. I knew that I had found The Place I wanted to be in, it was a very comforting feeling but at the same time I knew it was going to mess up my plans.

Now, 19 years (and two moves in other European countries) later, I have just become a British subject. Yes, my life has not exactly been as linear as I would have wanted it, but I am here now and I could not be happier anywhere else.

I have read 22 of the BBC top 100 books

One of those Facebook things that are sent around where you get tagged to do something and after you have done it you tag other people to do so.

Turns out I’ve read 22 of the BBC top 100 books (marked with an x in the list below). I could not find the original BBC source (the Big Read lists instead the 100 most loved books from a survey) so I have no idea who chose them and with which criteria, but this looks like a sensible list of must-reads. Perhaps aim to read them all? Not sure I’ve got enough time for another 78 books at the speed I read.

1. Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen x
2. The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien
3. Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
4. Harry Potter series – JK Rowling x
5. To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
6. The Bible
7. Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte
8. Nineteen Eighty Four – George Orwell x
9. His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman
10. Great Expectations – Charles Dickens
11. Little Women – Louisa M Alcott x
12. Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy
13. Catch 22 – Joseph Heller
14. Complete Works of Shakespeare
15. Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier
16. The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien
17. Birdsong – Sebastian Faulk
18. Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger x
19. The Time Traveller’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger
20. Middlemarch – George Eliot
21. Gone With The Wind – Margaret Mitchell x
22. The Great Gatsby – F Scott Fitzgerald x
23. Bleak House – Charles Dickens
24. War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy
25. The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams
26. Brideshead Revisited – Evelyn Waugh
27. Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky
29. Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll x
30. The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame
31. Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy
32. David Copperfield – Charles Dickens
33. Chronicles of Narnia – CS Lewis
34. Emma – Jane Austen
35. Persuasion – Jane Austen
36. The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe – CS Lewis
37. Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini
38. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – Louis De Bernieres
39. Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden
40. Winnie the Pooh – AA Milne
41. Animal Farm – George Orwell x
42. The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown x
43. One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44. A Prayer for Owen Meany – John Irving
45. The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins
46. Anne of Green Gables – LM Montgomery
47. Far From The Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy
48. The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood x
49. Lord of the Flies – William Golding
50. Atonement – Ian McEwan
51. Life of Pi – Yann Martel
52. Dune – Frank Herbert
53. Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons
54. Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen
55. A Suitable Boy – Vikram Seth
56. The Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57. A Tale Of Two Cities – Charles Dickens
58. Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
59. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time – Mark Haddon x
60. Love In The Time Of Cholera – Gabriel Garcia Marquez x
61. Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck
62. Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov
63. The Secret History – Donna Tartt
64. The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold
65. Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas
66. On The Road – Jack Kerouac x
67. Jude the Obscure – Thomas Hardy
68. Bridget Jones’s Diary – Helen Fieldin x
69. Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie
70. Moby Dick – Herman Melville x
71. Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens
72. Dracula – Bram Stoker
73. The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett
74. Notes From A Small Island – Bill Bryson
75. Ulysses – James Joyce
76. The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath
77. Swallows and Amazons – Arthur Ransome
78. Germinal – Emile Zola
79. Vanity Fair – William Makepeace Thackeray
80. Possession – AS Byatt
81. A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens x
82. Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell
83. The Color Purple – Alice Walker x
84. The Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro
85. Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert x
86. A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry
87. Charlotte’s Web – EB White
88. The Five People You Meet In Heaven – Mitch Albom
89. Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90. The Faraway Tree Collection – Enid Blyton
91. Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad x
92. The Little Prince – Antoine De Saint-Exupery x
93. The Wasp Factory – Iain Banks
94. Watership Down – Richard Adams
95. A Confederacy of Dunces – John Toole
97. The Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas
98. Hamlet – William Shakespeare x
99. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl
100. Les Miserables – Victor Hugo

7 things I did not know last week

  1. You can use an electric toothbrush to pollinate tomatoes.
  2. Red Bull is produced and sold by an Austrian company, and it is based on a Thai energy drink.
  3. You cannot delete more than 4000 messages in Microsoft Outlook 2003 in a single operation.
  4. The skin growths that appeared on poisoned Ukranian president Yushchenko helped save his life by isolating the dioxin away from his internal organs.
  5. In Gmail, z undoes anything (even sending a message if you are quick) when keyboard shortcuts are enabled.
  6. Fasting for 16 hours before your breakfast in a new time zone can override the body's sleep clock. This can also work with other irregular sleep patterns.
  7. Left-hand traffic and left-hand drive are not the same thing. The former is when cars occupy the left side of the road, the latter means that the driver sits on the left in a vehicle. So vehicles in countries with right-hand traffic have left-hand drive, and viceversa.

Sydney CityRail ticket wallet


Found this while tidying up and decided to use it. Brings back loads of memories from my trip in Feb/Mar 2008, would love to go back and see more of Australia.

Also, another test with PicPosterous (Posterous iPhone app) – finally learning how to use it after a couple of tries where first I did not name the album (and the post had no title) and then I added to an existing album (and it updated another post by adding this picture to it that I cannot remove without deleting the whole album), thus discovering that the iPhone app does not let you add text to the post. Email upload it is then if it is a post, or iPhone app if just a pic.

7 things I did not know last week

  1. James Bond’s creator Ian Fleming wrote ‘Chitty Chitty Bang Bang: The Magical Car. Via a friend’s friend who left a comment on my friend’s Facebook.
  2. If you extract numbers from a text string in Excel they are still stored as text (and therefore uncountable). To turn them into numbers you need to multiply the formula you used to extract numbers from a text string by 1.
  3. Simon Le Bon‘s firstborn is a model like her mother.
  4. Will Powers‘ ‘Kissing With Confidence’ (that I know via the original ‘That’s What I Call Music’ CD) was part of a whole concept album ‘Adventures In Success’, a ‘parody of the self-help/get rich quick gurus’. Via Joe.My.God.
  5. Carly Simon provided (uncredited) the vocals for ‘Kissing With Confidence’.
  6. We love rounded corners so much because ‘A rectangle with sharp edges takes indeed a little bit more cognitive visible effort‘.
  7. You get only one Gold Card (the paper counterpart to the annual Oyster London transport electronic ticket) per year. You lose it, you stop getting discounts on rail travel (because most of the British Rail ticket offices do not accept the printed receipt as proof of validity, even if TfL claims they should. I fear my Gold Card is likely to be in a recycling bin in Italy.

7 things I did not know last week

  1. There are more than 35 ways to do pushups.
  2. You can go to Gmail in Firefox by typing the letter g in the address bar and hitting Enter.
  3. Members of the public and the media do not need a permit to film or photograph in public places and police have no power to stop them filming or photographing incidents or police personnel.’ Via Mike).
  4. MacArthur Park (one of Donna Summer‘s hits) was originally recorded by the late Richard Harris (Albus Dumbledore in the first two Harry Potter films).
  5. Microbial cells outnumber your own by a factor of 10. Via Richard Dawkins.
  6. The keyboard shortcut Ctrl-L focuses on the browser’s address bar and select the whole URL. Works in Chrome and Firefox, would expect in others too but haven’t tried.
  7. And something I had a hunch about, and I’m not the only one: swapping the position of batteries in a device makes them last longer. Still scientifically unconfirmed though.
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My week on the web

Here are the websites I bookmarked into my del.icio.us account over the past seven days:

7 things I did not know last week

  1. Twitter only lets its users retrieve the last 3,200 updates they’ve entered into the system.
  2. Venice residents get free city-wide wi-fi. Tourists need to pay about $7 a day.
  3. The word oxymoron means ‘sharply dull’ in Greek.
  4. There are 100,000 people buried under Washington Square Park in NYC.
  5. Animal welfare legislation generally applies only to vertebrates.
  6. Excessive amounts of alcohol interferes with REM sleep.
  7. A trip to the dentist before brain surgery could prevent pneumonia.

7 things I did not know last week

  1. Twitter only lets its users retrieve the last 3,200 updates they’ve entered into the system.

  2. Venice residents get free city-wide wi-fi. Tourists need to pay about $7 a day.

  3. The word oxymoron means 'sharply dull' in Greek.

  4. There are 100,000 people buried under Washington Square Park in NYC.

  5. Animal welfare legislation generally applies only to vertebrates.

  6. Excessive amounts of alcohol interferes with REM sleep.

  7. A trip to the dentist before brain surgery could prevent pneumonia.

Great Britain is greater



2884652691_580ccf0586_o, originally uploaded by jabromz.

I never thought to compare the back of a ten dollar vs a ten pound note. We are greater indeed.

My week on the web

Here are the websites I bookmarked into my del.icio.us account over the past seven days:

7 things I did not know last week

  1. Putting butter, mayonnaise, or ice on a burn is a myth.
  2. You can smelt iron ore in a microwave.
  3. In the first half of 2009 I covered 2% of the distance to the Moon.
  4. Actor Greg Grunberg (Heros' Matt Parkman) is also a social media entrepreneur.
  5. If you click on a link with your mouse's scroll wheel, it will open in a new tab. You can then close a tab by clicking anywhere on it with the scroll wheel. Works in Chrome, Firefox, IE (haven't tried other browsers. Requires a scroll wheel that you can click, of course.
  6. You can put a Twitter feed on your blog with Google Docs. Create spreadsheet, pull Twitter RSS feed into it, embed spreadsheet in blog. This also mean that you can use Google Docs to read RSS feeds.
  7. The method I sometimes use to shorten long cables is called a chain sinnet (or monkey braid). This means I can finally stop calling it 'crochet' (because that's what it is and how I learnt it).

7 things I did not know last week

  1. Putting butter, mayonnaise, or ice on a burn is a myth.
  2. You can smelt iron ore in a microwave.
  3. In the first half of 2009 I covered 2% of the distance to the Moon.
  4. Actor Greg Grunberg (Heros' Matt Parkman) is also a social media entrepreneur.
  5. If you click on a link with your mouse's scroll wheel, it will open in a new tab. You can then close a tab by clicking anywhere on it with the scroll wheel. Works in Chrome, Firefox, IE (haven't tried other browsers. Requires a scroll wheel that you can click, of course.
  6. You can put a Twitter feed on your blog with Google Docs. Create spreadsheet, pull Twitter RSS feed into it, embed spreadsheet in blog. This also mean that you can use Google Docs to read RSS feeds.
  7. The method I sometimes use to shorten long cables is called a chain sinnet (or monkey braid). This means I can finally stop calling it 'crochet' (because that's what it is and how I learnt it).

Checking out iTwitter

Another week, another Twitter app graduates to the home screen on my iPhone. This week’s is iTwitter, which might have been round for a while but I only heard of it yesterday when it was incorrectly heralded as the first Twitter app with push notifications (it turns out that IM+ already does that).

I checked out iTwitter, only to be disappointed when I found out that you only receive push notifications if another iTwitter app user mentions or DMs you. If anyone wants to follow me and play with it, I’m @bitful.

The disappointment did not last long, however, as I discovered that iTwitter is an iPhone application with a very attractive simplicity that fits the way I use Twitter on my iPhone very well. That is, I want to do few things, and I want them to be super easy (and work well).

Main functions

The first screen you see is the last you were looking at upon quitting the application after the previous use. I tend to leave it in the ‘Home’ screen that shows your friends' timeline and only four options:

  • refresh
  • mark all as read
  • delete
  • compose tweet

If you tap on a tweet, a few options pop up:

  • go to the URLs mentioned in the tweet
  • reply
  • retweet
  • favourite

iTwitter popup menu

Very handy if you have large fingers like me and have trouble tapping on tiny icons or URLs.

You need to go up one menu to select, among other options, to view mentions and direct messages. Here you can also start a search, which can be saved and it will then appear on this menu. This menu also lets you access an address book with everyone you follow, and another with everyone who follows you.

iTwitter menu

Direct messages

The only way I found to send a DM is by tapping on a name in the Following or Followers address book, which involves too many clicks and is also confusing because as far as I know, you can only DM people who follow you. I haven't tried it yet though.

@Reply threads

iTwitter sticks the original tweet (with smaller font and avatar) underneath its reply, which I think is incredibly useful when people reply to you, especially if you tweet a lot and the replies are a simple ‘Ditto’ or ‘LOL’. Unfortunately it only works if you follow the person who sent the original tweet.

Threaded conversations in iTwitter

Multiple accounts

You can add more than one account but you will have to move up to the top-level menu to switch between accounts. Again, not something I need.

I like this application and will probably stick to it. For the record, lately I have been using TweetDeck on the iPhone, which has a killer feature of displaying tweets grouped by whatever criteria you want. But I have recently unfollowed 40 accounts and I now get everything I want to read, nothing less, nothing more, so TweetDeck was largely unused.

Checking out iTwitter

Another week, another Twitter app graduates to the home screen on my iPhone. This week's is iTwitter, which might have been round for a while but I only heard of it yesterday when it was incorrectly heralded as the first Twitter app with push notifications (it turns out that IM+ already does that).

I checked out iTwitter, only to be disappointed when I found out that you only receive push notifications if another iTwitter app user mentions or DMs you. If anyone wants to follow me and play with it, I'm @bitful.

The disappointment did not last long, however, as I discovered that iTwitter is an iPhone application with a very attractive simplicity that fits the way I use Twitter on my iPhone very well. That is, I want to do few things, and I want them to be super easy (and work well).

Main functions

The first screen you see is the last you were looking at upon quitting the application after the previous use. I tend to leave it in the 'Home' screen that shows your friends' timeline and only four options:
  • refresh
  • mark all as read
  • delete
  • compose tweet
If you tap on a tweet, a few options pop up:
  • go to the URLs mentioned in the tweet
  • reply
  • retweet
  • favourite
photo (2).jpg

Very handy if you have large fingers like me and have trouble tapping on tiny icons or URLs.

You need to go up one menu to select, among other options, to view mentions and direct messages. Here you can also start a search, which can be saved and it will then appear on this menu. This menu also lets you access an address book with everyone you follow, and another with everyone who follows you. 

photo 2.jpg

Direct messages

The only way I found to send a DM is by tapping on a name in the Following or Followers address book, which involves too many clicks and is also confusing because as far as I know, you can only DM people who follow you. I haven't tried it yet though.

@Reply threads

iTwitter sticks the original tweet (with smaller font and avatar) underneath its reply, which I think is incredibly useful when people reply to you, especially if you tweet a lot and the replies are a simple 'Ditto' or 'LOL'. Unfortunately it only works if you follow the person who sent the original tweet.

photo (3).jpg

Multiple accounts

You can add more than one account but you will have to move up to the top-level menu to switch between accounts. Again, not something I need.

I like this application and will probably stick to it. For the record, lately I have been using TweetDeck on the iPhone, which has a killer feature of displaying tweets grouped by whatever criteria you want. But I have recently unfollowed 40 accounts and I now get everything I want to read, nothing less, nothing more, so TweetDeck was largely unused.

My new workflow with Posterous

I have been keeping a blog of some sort since early 2001. Over the last two years I blogged less and less, but used a number of other sites more to post photos, links, short updates, and to develop conversations arous them.

At the same time, I also kept looking for ways to get all this content together in one location. I tried a few WordPress lifestreaming plugins, and connected all my activities at Friendfeed. I also funneled everything through to Facebook, which to date is the location where my content gets most comments. Sometimes I connected sites together so that the content would propagate without me having to do much.

All of this was starting to get a bit too complicated, so when Steve Rubel switched his blog to Posterous I was inspired to do the same. Posterous lets you update many sites at once via email. You tell it which sites to update, and Posterous choses which ones according to the type of content attached to the email.

I am experimenting now; I want to see how Posterous handles multiple sites and have connected everything to it. If you are thinking of doing the same, please continue reading.

I have just emailed the following:

  • To: post@posterous.com (the email address that posts to all sites)
  • Subject: The world through a sink drain thingy
  • Body: A rubbish picture to test a new photo posting workflow via Posterous.

Attachment: a photo (3264×2448)

And Posterous updated:

  • Twitter with email subject and a shortened URL to the post on Posterous
  • Facebook with email subject and body, no picture but a link to the post on Posterous. Note that this is an entry on the wall, not as a status update
  • Friendfeed with email subject, full URL of the post on Posterous, and no email body but the picture
  • Jaiku same as Twitter
  • Picasa with the photo in a Posterous Photos album, no subject nor body from the email, no link to the post on Posterous
  • Flickr with the email subject, the photo with the original size, a link to the post on Posterous
  • Vimeo was not updated (I trust it would if the attachment was a video)
  • YouTube was not updated (I trust it would if the attachment was a video)
  • Tumblr with the photo, email subject and body, and a link to the post on Posterous
  • Delicious with the post on Posterous saved as a new bookmark, with email subject as header and body as text.
  • My blog with the email subject as post title, the body as an entry, and the photo, and a link to the post on Posterous.

This is helping me see that it works very well almost everywhere, but I might remove the autoposting to Delicious. Also, I will need to remove all the links between various services and FriendFeed, as it can now ingest everything from Posterous instead.

The big winner for me is the possibility to post from Gmail. If you do, check out the Zemantabookmarklet that provides the usual tagging/linking/image functionalities from within Gmail. Mindblowing.

Right now I'm keeping both my usual WordPress blog at bitful (but updating it purely from Posterous) and my Posterous lifestream (which I have redirected to my own unused domain. Will I dare let go of the last bit of control over my content (my WordPress database) and put everything in the cloud? I'll see how it goes and the I'll tell you. For now, it looks like it is simpler, and I like that very very much.