Sunday, October 14, 2007

Changing the entry language and the keyboard configuration with the language bar

Para los hispanoparlantes, versión en español de este post aquí

For today, yet another educative post I hope is as useful as the post about the US-Int'l keyboard distribution.

I remember the first times I used Windows 2000 and XP; both of them came by default with the Windows Language Bar visible, to change readily my keyboard configuration.

Don't know what's the language bar, much less what is it for? It usually appears in the taskbar, at the right side. I use Windows Vista Home Premium, here's a screenshot:

The first time I saw the language bar, I couldn't see any use to it at all. It offered me three options:

  • Spanish (Spain) - Spanish keyboard, international sort
  • Spanish (Chile) - Latin American keyboard
  • English (US) - US English keyboard

If my keyboard used only the first layout, why the hell should I change it at all? The language bar was just occupying space in the taskbar, so the first thing I did was to remove it. Then came XP, and there it was again, so I removed it again.

The first keyboard problems I ever had, appeared last year, when I had to make a PowerPoint presentation to show while I was in Canada. It was the first time I made a presentation in English.  Even though I set the Slide Maste to write text in English, it just kept turning it to Spanish, and checking the spelling in Spanish. When PowerPoint finally understood the thing was in English, it changed my keyboard configuration to US English. Which caused a problem, for my keyboard was Spanish. I had no idea about how the language bar could help me.

I only came to understand the function of the language bar early in this year, when I bought my laptop and saw myself in need of typing both in English and Spanish. Then I was thankful about the existence of the language bar, which until then I considered just another Microsoft stupidity.

If, just like I did back then, you eliminated the language bar, you can bring it back by getting into the Control Panel, later "Change keyboards or other input methods", and later "Change keyboards...", and later choosing what you need in the "Language bar tab".

And how does the language bar work?

First, we have to know that the language bar controls two things:

  1. The entry language. When you enter text, you almost always do it in a given language, and here you specify which language. This information is given, for example, to MS Word for spell checking a document as you type.
  2. The keyboard layout. This is, the disposition of the letters and punctuation marks in the keyboard.

There's something I still don't get, though: you don't keep switching keyboard layouts. Why the hell when you switch the entry language, automatically the system assumes you change the keyboard configuration? This is really bullshit. Fortunately, there's a way to fix it. For example, my laptop came with three possibilities:

  • English (US) - this option was selected by default
  • English (Canadian French)
  • English (Canadian Multilingual)

where all three choices implied English as my entry language, with the three keyboard layout possilbilities stated above, and I only used the first, since that's the way my keyboard is printed. However, I write in English, Spanish, and from time to time in French... and I don't change my keyboard layout, but I want my spelling checked in the right language. So, using the same notation above, what is best for me to have in the language bar is:

  • English Canada (United States-International)
  • Spanish Chile (United States-International)
  • French Canada (United States-International)

My keyboard is a standard US keyboard. Why do I use the United States-International keyboard layout is explained in this previous post; if you have another keyboard layout, you should change this, and the instructions below, for the keyboard layout you really have.

This is designed for you to adapt the steps I will tell you now, which is what I did, to suit your own needs. The steps to obtain the languages and the layouts I want are the following:

  1. Right-click the language bar, settings. A dialog box appears with the entry languages and keyboard layouts
  2. Click the Add button
  3. In the English (Canada) language, (which is preset by default in my case), I click the cross next to Keyboard to expand, and later Show More, and then I choose United-States International. Without closibg the dialog box, I add the Spanish (Chile) and French (Canada), making sure the keyboard layout remains United States-International. To do this, again I click Show More, and choose United States-International. Then OK.
  4. Choose the language and the keyboard layout by default I need (in my case English Canada-US International). Then OK.
  5. Right-click again the language bar, settings.
  6. I remove all the possibilities I won't use, involving keyboard layouts I don't have. Then OK.

And that's it. Now the language bar only allows me to change the entry language, and doesn't give me the possibility of changing the keyboard layout, which I don't intend to do either. It looks like this:

It's easier to change the entry language by pressing left Alt+left Shift in the keyboard, and the language bar will tell in which language Windows assumes I'm writing on.

I hope this post has been helpful to you. If it's the case, please leave me a comment.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Wiki as a tool for updated scientific content books

Para los hispanoparlantes, aquí hay una traducción, en mi blog en castellano.

The rise of Wikipedia, Wikibooks, Wikisource, and many other wikis have led me to think of the importance of the wiki as a collaborative work. Recently, I had the opportunity to write a section for a textbook about nanoparticles, and I thought "just how easily these things get obsolete". And I can also think of that knowledge as partial, a single vision among many. Because the sum of all the visions is what makes reality.

How to get over those pitfalls?...

Then I remembered Wikipedia, the flagship of the wiki media. Just like everyone in the world can contribute to Wikipedia, scientists from all over the world could contribute to the making of a hypothetical, highly respected science wiki-book.

I'm sure there are some projects already having this idea in mind, but to be honest, I know none so far. If anyone knows about any, please let me know.

In this case, I don't mean to use wikis so everyone can edit that science content. I encourage its usage for the content:

  • To be instantly updated as soon as new information is available
  • To be edited only by qualified personnel in a responsible institution behind, allowing the content to be trusted
  • To be readily available online
  • To allow a discussion of the material given

Bill Gates had a dream of seeing paper usage disappear while he is still alive. I hate Gates and his empire, but I agree that online contents have a lot of advantages over their paper counterparts.

I envision a future without books... but with plenty of wikis. No library mice, but plenty of wiki-zappers!

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

People around the world reading this space

I am astounded with how many people is reading this blog. Before the installation of the Live Traffic Map at the left of this blog, I had no idea of the people reading this space.

I am also astounded about the fact that most of the readers arrived here by Google search on my post about the US keyboard layout. I can deduce this post has been helpful, given the fact that so many people from all around the globe has read it.

Soon I will publish an update on the subject, with another issue I managed to fix on my laptop keyboard.

I'd also appreciate if someone left me a comment on how helpful my writings have been, especially when the reader is located outside Chile, and/or doesn't know me in person.


Now I have seen how useful my scattered thoughts have been. I am planning to use this space not to publish my feelings, but to publish interesting essays, like I have done the last month in my blog in Spanish.

Having nothing else to say for now, I wish the best for you reading this.

In case you were wondering...

...this blog ain't dead.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Pensamientos dispersos

I have started a new blog in Spanish, for all those who couldn't keep up with this, my English blog. The URL is:

And a suggestion for everyone: Get an RSS aggregator!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Now I know...

I was born a scientist, not a believer.

I still believe in God, but not in the God of the Catholic Church. I believe in the same God Einstein did...

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

I feel sleepy...

...and there ain't no place I'm going to.

Like many other times, my parents had a fight today. It made me feel very sad. It made me depressed. Besides that, several things reminded me things I don't like to remember. Like the APOD and some music I heard.

I feel quite alone. Any help is welcome.

The two of September 12th

1. What happened last night is a real shame. People in Chile are calling the military to the streets, just like they did back then. Understand now why I want to GET THE HELL out of this country?

2. APOD today (September 12) kicked my ass. It made me remember happier days in 2002 in Ovalle, with a girl named B... We saw something like that. A beautiful double rainbow! Science explains, but feelings cannot be avoided.

Monday, September 10, 2007

The greatness of open sky

I can define my experience of the night sky as a big, big astonishment. It just pulls me to the ground.

I remember a night in the summer of 1999 (January). There I was in the South of Chile, lying on the ground, watching the night sky. All the stars were there. I didn't know anything about the constellations by then. Music just filled my mind and all I could focus was music.

But it was then when I first had that sensation of excitement about the night sky. I felt dizzy, I felt myself tied to a fragile planet in the middle of a HUGE universe. I felt in any minute I could be ripped off the planet to start wandering around the universe.

I was a little afraid, but the sensation was SIMPLY AWESOME. I need desperately to do that again. I keep on throwing curses on the light-polluted night sky of Santiago... How I long to spend another starry night in the countryside!

If anybody knows about going to the countryside some weekend near...

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Is it wrong to be wrong?

For me, clearly not.

My outcomes are not outcomes if I don't compare them to my history of mistakes.

The key here is to have the capacity to realize and admit you're wrong. If I have the capacity of realizing I'm wrong, then I'm able to reach the truth. :-)

Friday, August 31, 2007

Cultural difference

Clearly, there is a marked difference between people who reads/writes blogs and people who keep on zapping in fotolog. That's the main reason I switched to a blog. I prefer to write in a blog, and love to read interesting blogs.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

New blog title

My blog has changed its title. Now the title describes better, I think, the purpose and scope of this blog.

By the way, what are the purpose and scope of this blog?

It is to state, from me to the World, some of my opinions on things in the world, things I have seen and have some knowledge on. Most of the time, that stuff is meant to be useful. Sometimes not.

Web publishing means making a public declaration. Everything I say here is meant to be a public declaration on who I am.

I might also use it to advertise on some of the facts happening in my life. For example, when I make my public defense of my thesis, it will be correspondingly announced so everyone who wants to go, can go.

The underlining title, "Thou shalt not leave everyone happy" is a reminder of the fact that to leave everyone happy is absolutely impossible. Now I think it might not be prohibited by the Second Law of Thermodynamics, but it is very, very improbable. Not everyone will be happy about me having a blog like this. I don't mind.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Windows Live Writer

This post has been uploaded using Windows Live Writer. So far I had been using Microsoft Word.

I am perfectly aware that Microsoft doesn't have their consciousness clean. Yet I keep on using Microsoft software. Why? Because it's free. And it does what I want to do.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Congratulations Brian May!

Queen guitarist Brian May recently was awarded Ph.D. degree in Astronomy!

I admire him. I envy him.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Diputados (deputies) y la conch…

I urge you to read El Francotirador's last comment again. This is the concern our "honorables" have for our interests. All for the people… but without the people! And there's still people voting for them… Pity us!

Los urjo a que lean el último comentario de El Francotirador. Esta es la preocupación que tienen nuestros "honorables" por nuestros intereses. Y todavía hay gente que vota por ellos… ¡Ay de nosotros!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Chile in danger

My dear friends, Microsoft and our government have set our country in danger. Read this:


Mis queridos amigos, Microsoft y nuestro gobierno han puesto a nuestro país en peligro. Lean esto:

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

How to make accents and the ñ in a US-English keyboard

I guess by this time everybody knows while I was in Canada, I bought a laptop computer. I dreamed all of my life of having a gadget like this. I bought a very beautiful one, I call it "my baby". HP Pavilion dv2201ca. Very elegant, brilliant black design. In my opinion, it's even more stylish than a Mac (Yeah! Ha ha ha!).

But so far, I was having a little problem. The laptop came with a US English keyboard. But I'm from Chile, and I had a little hard time writing accents and the "ñ" letter. I had to switch to a Spanish keyboard and remember by memory the disposition of the keys in the keyboard.

That issue ended yesterday morning. I discovered the United States-International keyboard distribution. And I finally learnt how to use the keyboard dispositions, and the utility of the Language bar. A whole new world has opened for me. Really.

Before the trip to Canada, I only had to write in Spanish. The first conflicts came while building the PowerPoint (PP) presentation I prepared to present there in Canada. I had to change constantly the language so PP didn't interpret the words I was typing as Spanish. But if I wanted to edit anything, PP would change my keyboard configuration to English. And the punctuation signs were wrong, and I'd have to guess what keys to press in order to get what I wanted. While in Canada, I had to get used to the US English-disposed keyboards. I memorized the Alt codes of all Spanish vowels and the non-capital ñ. Later I bought the laptop and I could solve the problem by changing the keyboard disposition. After a lot of years using Spanish keyboards, I could remember well what the location of the different characters was, though those were not what I saw in the keyboard.

Yesterday, reading the Wikipedia (what a big invention!), I discovered the United States-International disposition of the keyboard, which is an even better solution for those like me. This is very similar to the standard US keyboard, but it takes advantage of the Alt Gr key. In standard US keyboards, both Alt keys are equal. In international keyboards, they are not; the left Alt is just Alt, but the right Alt is Alt Gr. It means that key allows more characters to be displayed by pressing Alt Gr (right Alt) and the desired key. Usually, those characters are printed in the keyboard, in the right part of the key. People who always have used standard US keyboards probably do not know that situation.

The thing is, I found the US-Int'l distribution to be much more efficient than to change constantly the keyboard to the Spanish distribution, because now I'd type the characters appearing in my keyboard and get the same characters on screen. And, by memorizing a few touches of the right Alt key (very intuitive, by the way, so there's not very much to memorize) now I get all the characters needed, plus a few extras. I also get all of the accents by pressing the apostrophe key and later the vowel. To get an apostrophe key, I press the apostrophe key and later the spacebar.

By the time I'm writing this I still have a little trouble getting used to type the "ñ" by using Alt + N. It's just a matter of customs, I will get accustomed to it soon.

Here you can find a picture of the distribution of the US-Int'l keyboard. The red characters are obtained pressing that key, and later, the spacebar.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

TOEFL rehearsals

Guess I let you know I'll march away from this stupid country to pursue an academic career in a foreign land, almost surely Canada. Well, to get a Ph. D. degree I will have to take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) and the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE). These stupid gringos... they don't believe in academic records?

I shouldn't need too many rehearsals on both of them, but I want to be sure. So, as soon as I get out of my thesis, I will publish a few essays rehearsing for the Test of Written English. Let's see how I do.


Creo que les hice saber que me marcharé de este estúpido país para seguir una carrera académica en el extranjero, casi con seguridad Canadá. Bien, para conseguir un doctorado tendré que tomar el TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) y el GRE (Graduate Record Examinations). Estos estúpidos gringos… ¿no creen en las notas de la universidad?

No debería necesitar tantos ensayos en ambos, pero quiero estar seguro. Así es que apenas salga de la tesis, publicaré un par de textos como ensayo para la prueba de inglés escrito. Veremos qué tal me va.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

I´m back

It's awesome to know I can be very good in everything I propose. I only need to trust myself.


Es genial saber que puedo ser muy bueno en todo lo que me propongo. Sólo necesito confiar en mí mismo.

Sunday, June 24, 2007


Okay, let's face it. I can't live without it.


I am addicted to music.


Can't live without it. Fortunately I can give myself an infinite number of shots of music without harming my body. It might even give me a clue on what to do with my life!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

I'm so unhappy

The colors of this blog represent how unhappy I am. I am upset with the country around me. I am upset with my partners at school. Being so negative makes me sooo unsexy. And I want so desperately to have a girlfriend. It's a vicious circle.

I need to believe life can be beautiful again. Somebody help me. Please...

Dear God, Chile needs a miracle

Ever since I came back from Canada, all I want is to go back there.

Watching TV makes me sick.

I'm totally pissed off by the Chilean people, especially the government, the richest and the poor. I hate the country where I was born. I am very embarrassed to admit it is my country.

Monday, June 18, 2007

To leave everyone happy

...and to leave everyone happy with what you do also violates the Second Law of Thermodynamics.

This is an observation. It seems we can't apply laws from macroscopical, unanimated objects to people's personalities. But both of the mentioned attitudes seem to me completely impossible. And both involve less probable states and less disorder. This leads me to the conclusion that the famous Second Law is involved.

So we have to live just as we can, and try our best to be happy. But it seems to me that invariably, I will trespass on someone else. What do I do? Should I do what I want to do, assuming every cost (which I will have to assume anyway, because it's just the laws of nature), or should I live the most perfect life I can? I won't have it easy anyway, so it's almost the same. There will be happiness and misery anyway. It seems there's no point in doing anything.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

A perfect person

A perfect person, in my opinion, violates the Second Law of Thermodynamics.

Therefore, doesn't exist neither will exist.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Math is nice!

In these last days, I’ve been enclosed studying calculus.

ARE YOU NUTS ARIEL?? Probably, but that’s nothing new. I don’t do what other people do to be happy. And math is nice. So I’m starting to like doing math exercises. I took my calculus book and started studying. Now I’m doing derivatives for trigonometric functions, something I had forgotten. But I'm retaking my swing. There’s a lot to study yet, but I’m optimist. I’m kind of good at it, and I like it. It’s nice to study it by myself, because I have no pressure.

It took me a lot of time to accept it. But it happens that I am a nerd. I can’t help it; I was born and raised like this. It’s my destiny. My wife will have to live with that.

Saturday, June 2, 2007


After watching a beautiful movie, I was wondering... and what is the craziest thing I have ever done in my life? There are several candidates apart from sex. Like composing a musical theme to a teacher I was in love with. Or buying an expensive record to learn a song, to be dedicated to the girl I wanted... which I never got the opportunity to sing.

It’s about music. And music will always be in my heart, but...

Now it’s like a girlfriend I had to dump, for my own good. I loved music, but I cannot live with it. I hear beautiful music, and I feel much like playing something again. But it’s a bad habit.

In these days, I’m retaking the path I should have followed for all of my life. My life is not about music. Suddenly I remembered. It’s about science, especially stars. At least in my far future, I am decided to follow the stars. But first, I have to learn science.

I had to dump music. There was no point in pretending I was any good at it. I could sing in tune, right, I could manage to play a guitar, and maybe a piano. But there ain’t anything else. I thought the love for music was reciprocal. But I should have realized that it wasn’t. After any performance, after the many performances of the school orchestra and even the choir, I felt EMPTY. Everything I had in my heart was a pitiful sensation of EMPTINESS. My subconscious was telling me "this is not your way". My parents knew. It seemed I was the only one not realizing it.

I made several friends by the music, and I know it’ll be kind of hard to understand this position. But after a long and hard, but satisfactory day in the lab, I feel good. I feel good when teaching science, when teaching what I know. I feel good when I come to conclusions. I feel good making dissertations explaining my results. I don’t feel the emptiness I feel with music. When I read Carl Sagan’s books on science topics, I feel myself touched deeply in my heart. It fills my entire being. A beautiful sensation of belonging, thinking of “this is mine and this is where I belong”. This is who I am.

And I do not like pharmacy either; I like more basic sciences like chemistry and physics, but that will be another post's subject.

I still have a question, mostly to satisfy my scientist spirit. If everything made me point to science since I was a child, why was I distracted with music? Could it have been that I started directly with science at school, and nothing else? It seems like not. I have a feeling that there’s a lesson in being distracted by the music. I’ll figure it out.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Inaugural post

After finishing its testing period, here comes my new blog. My fotolog will still be updated, but only occasionally, and in Spanish only. I encourage everyone to follow this blog, and no longer the fotolog.

It is written in English so I can exercise several abilities of English writing, including getting used to the US English disposition in my keyboard; English commonplaces in speaking, and things like those. For good or bad, English is the language who makes you a citizen of the World. And now, my works should be known around the world and this is the way not just of the future, but of my present. Did my recent trip to Canada have any influence on this? For sure. But I don’t care a dime about being treated as a “vendepatria” or something, because I am a citizen of the World. This is who I am. Those who want to read my blog will have to be able to read in English.

I will start by having a little discussion about the interview I had for the journal “El Mercurio” from my country, Chile. For those who didn’t hear about it, on Tuesday, May 15, 2007, at 11 AM, I was interviewed by the journalist Lilian Duery from that paper, along with other seven students from my faculty. Each one of us was asked about his/her project and his/her aspirations, where did we see ourselves in the future. After the publication on Sunday, May 20, I was pretty annoyed by several facts: they misspelled my name (my name is Ariel Guerrero, not “Guerreo” as it was written), they said I imagine my nanoparticles (if I just imagined them, how come I synthesize them, conjugate them, and analyze them by several techniques?), and worst of all, they said I called them “nanobombs”. And also, they posed me as a victim for the senator Alejandro Navarro, who recently submitted a law project to the Chilean Congress aiming to forbid nanotechnology in Chile.

That nanobomb stuff is ABSOLUTELY FALSE!! I never said that word. That was an invention of Mrs. Duery. It kept me annoyed for the rest of the week. And I didn’t make any comments on senator Navarro. I never wanted to make any polemic on that, although sometime I will write something about that incident, and that guy. The truth, as everybody should know, is that our project is about using peptide-capped nanoparticles as a treatment for Alzheimer’s disease, using them as a vector to disaggregate amyloid fibrils. An oscillating magnetic field is applied, and the capped nanoparticles deliver the energy to the amyloid fibrils. If this is applied to a patient, we would expect to see an improvement in his/her clinical condition.

The good news is that I only received good comments after my appearance in the newspaper. I was afraid they’d put me as a terrorist, but none of that happened. I only received jokes about that. It seems that nobody among the readers of El Mercurio took that column too seriously. And most of the praises were received by my mom. She just keeps on harvesting my merits.
We (my professor Marcelo Kogan and I) had decided to send a letter to the editor, but I think we won’t. If we do, sometime, I think we won’t take an aggressive posture.