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  • “Taste our books”: An Extraordinary Recommender System at Garret Street

    Last month I was in Lisbon to present a paper (PDF here) at a conference on Human-Computer Interaction, so I took the time to visit Bertrand‘s main store at Garret Street, a famous local bookshop regarded as the oldest operating in the world. History alone is of course a good reason to go there, but it is not the only one. Physical stores in general remain a great sensorial experience, if not always a convenient or economic one, and it is safe to assume that most online shoppers do miss the material interaction with goods. One critical advantage of online bookshops is their…

  • Listening to music properly

    I’m not a big fan of video courses. I do take them sometimes, but I still think that written text — books and articles — is a superior medium for study. The reasons are numerous. For instance, it is easier to search and highlight important passages; it allows a more natural way to pause and reflect; it is suitable for reuse, composition and annotation. There are a few topics, however, that are not suitable at all for the printing press. This is the case of music.

  • French TV overseas tip

    Like many other francophones outside French-speaking territories, I’ve had some difficulty to keep my French sharp. Contrary to English, which I use on a daily basis for both work and fun, French remains entirely a luxury, albeit one I value very much. I’ve learned a few tricks, though. In particular, for training my ears, I often watch French TV online. This is not as easy as it sounds, however, because like many similar services in other countries, such programs are geographically protected, which means normally one cannot watch them outside France itself. There’s an easy solution to this: use a Virtual Private Network…