Peixe Urbano and Start-Up Potential in Brazil

As someone who not only has a deep interest in Brazil, but also plans to move back there (where I lived for a time and where my wife and children were born), I’ve been watching the economic boom that country is experiencing with great interest. Of course, it could turn out to be another bubble, but I’m hoping it will be more than that. Perhaps the rise of Brazil as a significant world power, able to sustain itself and finally deal with the vast divide between rich and poor within its borders. One very positive sign is the apparently new-found start-up potential there. Of particular interest to me is news that at least one start-up, Peixe Urbano, is hiring talent from outside the country.

Another interesting factoid about Peixe Urbano: They’ve imported a dozen American engineers, product managers and designers. It’s not outsourcing, and it’s not insourcing. It’s something unique, and you don’t hear about Non-U.S. startups hiring and moving Americans to wherever they are very often. Perhaps we’ll see more of this over time. The company has hired people from Apple, Intuit, Tagged, Merchant Circle and other companies.

So if you’re an American techy and you want to get paid (including stock options) to go hang out in Brazil for a few years, you know where to send your resume.

Brazil’s Peixe Urbano Takes “Significant Growth” Round From General Atlantic and Tiger Global (Techcrunch)

Peixe Urbano is a Groupon-style daily deal website, and I’ve heard from several friends in Brazil about how much they love it. This and other web-based businesses could finally be coming into prominence in Brazil, as more and more homes are connecting to broadband. For the longest time those with any home internet connection at all were depending on dial-up service (remember the 1990s?), but lately that’s been changing.

Between my efforts to master Ruby on Rails, my experience in social media and my work as a site producer, I’m hopeful that I may be able to step in and help fill the gap for some Brazilian-based tech company in the not-too-distant future.

See Also:
Brazil’s Boom Needs Talent (Barron’s)
Brazil Vows to Connect Internet to Most Households by 2014 (TMCnet)

São Paulo School Books Go Open Source

As of June 7, 2011, all of the teaching materials produced by the Municipal Secretary of Education office in São Paulo are available online, for free, under a creative commons non-commercial license. This means that anyone with Internet access and a printer can obtain hard copies (or of course, simply save them to disk as pdf files) of this material and can use it, so long as it is not used commercially. From what I can see, the texts currently available are for Portuguese and Math from grades 1 through 9. Obviously the school system likely obtains its physics, chemistry, history and any other texts from publishing houses.

Beyond being a potential benefit to other school districts in Brazil, I can think of two other communities that can utilize this material.

First, school systems outside of Brazil where Portuguese is spoke. African nations in particular that speak Portuguese could easily download, print and bind (even if only spiral binding) these texts for use. There would be cost involved in the printing, but I have to think it would be less than professional publication of materials in-house.

Second, the Brazilian diaspora can use the Portuguese texts to teach Brazilian children being raised in nations around the world where Portuguese isn’t the primary language.

As for myself, I’m thinking any and all of this material can be useful to my family as we attempt to prepare ourselves for a move back to Brazil. With a daughter in her teens and a son who will likely be entering his teen when we move, the academic challenges they will face may be the biggest hurdle to their transition back to life there.

Click here to check out what’s available, and here as well to see where you can download school lunch manuals from Sao Paulo

See also:

Brazilian Ministry of Education Embraces Open Source in a Big Way (OStatic)

A Look at Linux Educacional 3.0 (

In Defense of My Blackberry

Last week when Steve Tucker and his wife Rachel were in New York for the 140 Characters Conference, Brian Nicklaus and I got together to show them around Manhattan. We were somewhere in Greenwich Village when Steve mentioned his surprise that I use a Blackberry, given my open source stance.

So, am I a hypocrite? I don’t thinks so, and that’s certainly not what Steve meant to imply. What I am is pragmatic with a purpose.

The fact is that I’m not intensely ideological about open source technology. It isn’t my religion. I believe that open source makes sense for a lot of reasons, the most important of which is the general benefit to people.

Before Ubuntu came along, I wouldn’t have seriously considered recommending GNU/Linux to the “average user.” Now, though, even my mother uses it on her home computer. If user-friendly distros of GNU/Linux didn’t exist, I’d have nothing much to say about people coping with Windows or shelling out a fortune for Apple products.

So, why do I use a Blackberry instead of an Android-based mobile device?

First, my contract isn’t up yet on my Blackberry. I got the Blackberry when Android was still relatively new and I am not an early adopter of new technologies. Once my contract is up in a month or so, Android will certainly be an option.

Second, my Blackberry does what I want, and it does it well. All of my messages go into a single inbox. I can communicate freely and without hassle with this device.

Third, Blackberry devices are easy to troubleshoot.I discovered this while working for AT&T.

Essentially, my Blackberry services my purposes. It does what I want it to do, and it does it reliably. That’s why I use it, and that’s why any technology should be adopted: because it works.

Many Dreams for Perth Amboy

For several weeks now folks from the Central Jersey Church of Christ has been volunteering a little of their weekends to help clean up a building that belongs to the church in Perth Amboy, New Jersey. While there are multiple possibilities for this property, many dreams are centering around what the HOPE worldwide Central Jersey Chapter can do there. Aside from office space for the the chapter, this is a great location to host a Saturday Academy, aside from other events.

For anyone connected with Central Jersey Church of Christ (or any of the area Churches of Christ, for that matter), why not consider pitching in to help with cleaning, painting and other simple maintenance? With a little TLC we can make this into a place of encouragement and new horizons for area young people. And, like I mentioned above, we can dream other dreams as well for this place. Join in, take part, bring your skills or just your willingness to help.

Check out these pictures of our progress so far.

Whether you have any special skills (carpentry, painting, interior decorating, landscaping) or not, your help is needed! We also need people to loan tools for these tasks. Boris is organizing this effort, so let him know how you can take part.

zlib Problem with RubyGems Update in Ubuntu

If you are setting up Ruby on Rails using Ubuntu or Linux Mint as your operating system and are following, you may likely find that the command

gem update –system 1.6.2


gem update --system 1.6.2
ERROR: Loading command: update (LoadError)
no such file to load -- zlib
ERROR: While executing gem ... (NameError)
uninitialized constant Gem::Commands::UpdateCommand

in which case you need to

rvm package install zlib
rvm remove 1.9.1
rvm install 1.9.1

and everything should be fine.

Make a Difference for an Arizona Grade School Class

School’s out for the summer in most American schools right now, but there’s a classroom on the other side of the country from where I live that’s on my mind, and I hope after reading this you’ll be on board with the kids and their teacher as well.

One of my cousins’ daughters (that would make her a first cousin, once removed, in case you care to know) is a fourth grade teacher in an underresourced neighborhood in Arizona. She’s looking to raise a little extra private funding for a couple of projects to improve the experience for her class, starting next Fall. Check out her blurb:

“I teach fourth grade at a Title 1 school in Arizona. Our neighborhood is one in which families are working day in and day out to provide a better life for their kids. Over 90% of our families qualify for FREE lunch whereas the remaining percentage only pays a reduced fee. Our students are faced with violence, drugs, and many other events that require frequent police involvement. Though the students are faced with many challenges, they also come to school with a positive attitude and the belief that they CAN be successful.”

This is the fourth grade class of 2011-2012 at Don Mensendick Elementary School.  There are two projects to which contributions can be made. Please check them out, “follow” them for monthly e-mail updates and, if you can, help out.


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