The event that took my brother's life inspired me to come up with some sort of gadget to prevent any more lives from being lost. So, I figured that a low power device monitoring life-signs, transmitting a continuous ping to a central server, could eventually provide enough warning to prevent others from suffering the same fate my dear brother suffered. I also immediately noticed a bunch of possibilities to extend the functionality of the device and make the idea usable for many more situations like monitoring people in healthcare facilities such as nursing homes and hospitals, giving them more freedom, and keeping track of kids in amusement parks to help prevent accidents and kidnappings. I turned to my team at the non-profit I'm involved with and we agreed the project had merit and could go forward. Now I'm left with the difficult task of gathering the funds necessary to start the development of this system. So I turn to you all, slashdotters, for opinions, constructive criticism, advice and, if possible, that you contribute with work or donations to make this initiative flourish.
It was on 25th that one of my brothers, Miguel, passed away. He was found on the bottom of a public pool, already too late. The company responsible for managing the pool failed, by incompetence, since they had no lifeguard present at the moment, who might have saved my brother's life.
A few months ago, after leaving my job at the time, I decided to finally start writing the book that a lot of people have, for so long, been asking me to write, a book about C++ programming, specifically, about good programming principles. Now I ended up with "C++ Programming: Good Principles For Excellent Endings". It's been released on the 19th of April. It features a few important topics, including the social part (team management, hiring, resources), project management (tools, methods and documentation), defensive programming, object oriented programming and optimizations. The difference about this book? Being an Edition Zero. The main objective was to come up with a manual for students and the trainees of the non-profit organization that I'm involved with to learn and improve their skills. It is called Edition Zero because the idea behind it was to release a non-definitive version to gather input from the community. Later, we will be offering a free copy of the First Edition of the book to the persons who provide the most important bits of constructive criticism on how to improve the book so it can reach that milestone. Also, all the profit made from the book will be used to support the projects being developed at Onda Technology, our non-profit R&D institute. I found this to be a much more interesting way to ask for support, not only we can get the much needed money to buy equipment, but we're also giving something more in return besides the joy of helping. So take a look and, if you feel like it, help our projects.
Portugal has one of the most, if not the most, advanced ATM networks in the world. While on most countries the ATM networks seem to be handled by individual banks, the Portuguese ATM network, called Multibanco (yes, as in multi-bank) is owned and ran by a state entity called SIBS (Sociedade Interbancária de Serviços - roughly inter-banking business society). This unified ATM network allows the state and the banking businesses to save millions in equipment, maintenance and headcount, as well as in transactions between banks. Besides the TPA terminals that allow people to comfortably pay for their shopping on the establishments with their precious credit and debit cards, there are also ATM machines, but these are packed full of features: not only can you withdraw money from your account, but you can also pay for your taxes, your electricity, water and phone bills, your Internet, top up your mobile phone credit, buy train tickets, buy seats for some shows and a lot more. All this on any of the more than 10000 ATM machines spread around the country. This is all free for the users. How's it paid? First: the businesses that receive money paid through the TPAs pay 0.8% of the transaction for "small values" and 3% of the transaction for "big values" to SIBS; and second: all credit and debit cards have an annual fee of 10€ (about $15).
But now, the European Union wants to link all countries together with a single system. However, even though it could seem logical, there are a few problems: first, there is no public or financial demand for it (as, between other reasons, trans-border credit/debit card transactions are less than 3% in almost all countries and less than 2% in Portugal); second, it's estimated to cost 3 billion euros; third: the banks plan on starting to charge 1.5€ for each transaction (withdrawing funds, paying stuff, etc); fourth: on the ATM machines, the european system will only support the fund withdrawal feature, which would effectively result in Portugal losing a very advanced and successful system that is also free. The consequences? Some people will stop using banking accounts, others will resort to checks, there will be an increase in robberies as the wallets will again be carrying large sums of money to avoid the fee. So, not only will we lose functionality and be setup with a critically inferior system, but we will also have to pay more for it.
Seems like MSN Messenger is down and messenger.msn.com & messenger.live.com were taken offline. It has been like this for the last 3 hours. Having messenger.msn.com offline, there's no way to know what's going on, since it's there where they post information about the status of the messaging network. MSN Messenger is allowing successful logins, but the messages are bounced back with a "connection error" message, despite the online status and the continuing update of the other contact's status in the contact list. It is affecting several users.
UPDATE: Seems fine, now.