Nov 14 2019

Friends in town

Category: MiscellaneousIuliana @ 1:40

You might have noticed I haven’t written in a while. I take breaks from blogging when I get a bout of depression, when I am too busy with works or my free time is full with other activities.

Good news my dear humans: I am not coming down with a bout of depression! I’ve been quite busy with work and I’ve had a friend over for a few days. I haven’t had a friend from Romania coming over for quite a while. The previous visit was in August and after that I’ve only spoken Romanian when talking to people on the phone.

The friend that came over – I’ve mentioned her before, it’s the fearless mountaineer friend that I admire so much. And these five days having her here were some of the best in my life. I don’t think I actually know another person that is so similar to me when it comes to food tastes, preferences to spend my time and apparently wines.

I needed a special reason to open a 36 year old bottle of port wine and her presence here was the perfect one. Athough we had a little difficulty with the cork, that after 36 years was quite fragile, we managed to open the bottle and enjoy it. And let me tell you, that bottle was worth the money, because it is one of the best wines I’ve tasted in my life. Everything about it was perfect.

A while ago, after my previous flat mate moved, I got a little bit sad, because I realized how lonely it is to live alone. Even if the previous flat mate and I did not really have an excellent co-habitation, I still felt a stronger pang of loneliness after he moved. But after having her here, I realized how silly that was. Living with the wrong person is worse than living alone. The same goes for any kind of relationship that involves two persons. Sometimes people just don’t fit, sometimes for anything really, so it’s better to just … let them go.

Anyway, I took her to visit all my favourite places in town and directed her to the places I love out of town, so she could go there in the days when I was working. I borrowed Dragonfly, my bike, to her because she loves biking everywhere and she had a blast. So, how did I spend my weekend?

I took her to the Portobello beach.

Then I took her to the centre of the city for a taste of Scottish culture.


And then I took her for a hike on Arthur’s seat to see the city from above.

There was some drinking involved, some of my perfect rib-eye steaks and some cat cuddling.

When I came back home today it just hit me, a little pang of sadness, because I really, really missed her. And I joked with her that she should have stayed longer, so she had enough time to become annoying. :))

And that’s why I took a blogging break, to focus on my work, on my piano playing and on spending as much time as I could with my friend.

I recently read an article that people cannot have more then 5 best friends at the same time, and about 150 acquaintances. Your brains and your free time just cannot handle more than that. But those 5 best friends should be so close that you would have no issue helping them bury a body. Well, not sure how many you have, but when talking about it with her, she mentioned that probably has none, and I think I might have 3. But I’m not sure is reciprocated. I would definitely help them bury a body, but if the situation were reversed, I’m pretty sure their partners would have something to say about it. :D

Stay safe, stay happy!


Nov 01 2019

Searching for “the connection”

Category: MiscellaneousIuliana @ 1:18

I am over 30 and dating is brutal at this age. Especially after you’ve been single long enough. Because you have time to think, to analyse your past relationships, how they started, how they evolved, how they ended and why. I use to do this from time to time. Some people might say I’m living in the past, but I don’t see it that way. The way I see it I analyse the data of failed experiments to make sure the future ones do not fail. Or at least to not fail in the same way.

When it comes to love, a scientist would describe it like this: there are 3 stages involved with falling in love — namely lust, attraction, and attachment. Each stage involves different types of chemical reactions within the body (specifically the brain). Along with that, there are different hormones present in the body helping to excite all these three stages (lust, attraction, and attachment) separately as well as collectively. Lust is said to be the initial stage of getting involved with love. The feel of lust is basically backed up or instigated by the sexual hormones within the body. When you are younger and the brains just starts to produce those hormones, things gets a little crazy, because it needs to adapt to the effects of the newly discovered ability. When we get older, things get weirder. Because the logic of past experiences starts to come into play and the brains thinks it knows how to handle the surge of hormones better.

If lust starts it all, how do we explain the way love starts in a world where more and more relationships start on the internet? Or how can we explain the connection some people mention they have felt with another person?

Recently I’ve had more than one person telling this to me: they are waiting to meet the person they feel a connection with. One of them told me he felt the connection when his partner just used a specific phrase in a conversation they were having. Another one, he just looked into her eyes and was hooked. For some, it happened instantly, for some it happened later, because of some context they happened to be in. For another friend of mine, the connection seem to have appeared when he realized they both had the same favourite song.

But, for some it happened instantly, for some… I guess one of the partners, just decided the other person was decent enough to worth their time, thus allowing them to become familiar to that person and then in the context when they were relaxed with each other, the connection happened.

Look at it this way – you want to build a bridge over a river. On the other bank, another person, has seen you and decides to help. The bridge doesn’t happen instantly, unless one of them is a wizard of some kind. And even then, magic has a cost and spells can be cancelled. But, if you coordinate efforts, use good materials and take the time, the bridge you create will be sturdy to sustain the connection for years to come. Because, unless you are some kind of psychopath, this is all we desperately want — a durable connection. And that takes time and work.

But still, maybe the connection these people are mentioning  is the thing that makes the other person across the river decide to start building that bridge with you. So, what would make the other person want to do that? Well, it’s all in the mind really, and in something we call coincidence. If you want it desperately enough, you will subconsciously look for a sign. And you will manufacture it yourself without even realizing.

But there are always the most logical of us that don’t believe in signs or don’t trust them and that prefer to really know the person across the river better before starting to build that damn bridge. Or maybe we’ve just been hurt so many times, and we tried building so many bridges only to have our time wasted and ended up with so many half bridges we’re just too exhausted to try again. Also age and past experience messes things up. With age some rationality of feelings should emerge. But it totally freaks me out when I hear grown men searching for a connection or waiting to fall in love and instantly if possible, because time is precious, they have so many things to do, and they want a reason to decide fast if that person is worth their time or not. But knowledge takes time. How the hell an adult does not know that? It took me more than two months to realize somebody wasn’t worth my time and I’ve lived in the same house with the guy for most of that time.

Think about it like this: how many of your friendships developed instantly? And how many have survived into adulthood? How long did it take you to designate somebody your best friend? Because being in a relationship with somebody, is like having a best friend that you also do kinky stuff with, and live with and make huge investments together. Well, a best friend is not a best friend when you meet him or her. They become your best friend in time, maybe even after some storms have rocked your friendship and sometimes even some distance was involved. (Just ask Marianul how many things our friendship has survived.)

As for me – since I’ve written such a long article about it I guess I owe you some under the bonnet info – the last time I felt a connection with somebody it was the end of our second date, when seemingly out of nowhere he pulled out a red rose. Being still young and a hopeless romantic it worked like a charm on me. As it turned out later, that gesture meant little to him, he did not gave me that flower because he thought I was special, or because he felt something special about me. He just thought that was the expected thing to do when you go out with a girl. So I guess, that was the last time I trusted my instincts and felt a connection. Because it was all me, it was all in my mind. It wasn’t real. I manufactured it because I needed it so badly.

And the mind is very good at playing tricks on you. But yeah, good luck to all you brave romantics for trusting your gut when it comes to connections. I envy your bravery.

Stay safe, stay happy.


Oct 30 2019

How I became an AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner

Category: Funny,TechnicalIuliana @ 2:08

This will not be a technical post instructing you how to learn to pass the certification. Because I, myself I passed the exam by accident. Because I scheduled the exam by accident. But let’s go back ti the beginning.

A few years ago, 2014 or 2015, Rpx quit working for Microsoft and therefore he lost access to the VM this blog was hosted on. So, in order to keep it, I bought a Reserved Instance from Amazon and installed everything there. Why an instance in the Amazon cloud and hot a cheap special WordPress hosting service?

Because I wanted to get more comfortable with Amazon cloud. And because the only way I knew how to install & configure Apache, Mysql and WordPress, was … manually. And I liked doing it. I still like doing it, even if probably I’m not that good at it. But since moving my blog to Amazon cloud, I’ve survived two hacking attempts, me experimenting and mucking up file permissions that WordPress barely worked anymore and random MySQL failures.

When I was looking for a new job, I was not looking for a cloud engineer job. I was looking for anything that would allow me to finally make more money out of my Spring expertise. But oh well, sometimes people just click and so far I’m convinced I made the right choice.

Thus I am now starting to shift from Java/Spring expert towards … full-stack, or better said Jack-of all-trades, a title that was given to me at the beginning of my career and kinda limited my job selection at the time; because apparently it was more valuable to be an expert on a single domain, than juggling with everything. It’s quite ridiculous that after managing to finally stick to a niche for a ten years, my initial Jack-of all-trades skill might have gotten it me paid better if I would just have stuck to it. But oh well, it is what it is.

The company I currently work for is an Amazon partner, but AWS certifications expire, so after some people left the company and/or the certifications of those that stayed expired, the company found itself in danger of losing the partner status for not having enough certified AWS certified people employed. And so, the latest three people that were hired, had to become certified. I am one of those people.

So I’ve started preparing. And I panicked, because I realized I haven’t learned for an exam in … 12 years. And the information you need to accumulate to pass the certification is basically a detailed manual on how to use Amazon services wisely. And they provide a lot of services, for … well… anything. And it is not logical, it cannot be structured or organized in some programmatic way, it is not about designing or implementing anything, it’s more similar to the driving license theoretical exam. And I hate this kind of exam. My mind works very well with information that can be associated, connected to existing information that is not part of the foundation of my expertise; because the new information is connected and inferred from existing information. But the AWS training material … its very hard to associate with anything. So… I read and I wrote and watched the video training samples and still I had the impression that I am retaining … nothing.

After my much-smarter and more logical and structured colleague passed the exam, I just logged into the AWS account and checked to see when I could schedule my exam too. Well, I’m not sure what I did, or maybe my Firefox trolled me, but aside from an exam date four days away, the next one was three weeks away. And being already panicked that I am not retaining information I feared forgetting anything in three weeks. So I scheduled my exam on the 25th of October, at the time I had no other choice. And I did this on Monday the 21st of October. I spent the next three days reading, writing, listening to those video tutorials again and panicking. In a way, whatever the result, at least I would be able to take a break from reading Amazon propaganda. Because this is 90% of the training material.:))

And luckily, I passed.

After that, I talked to my college and told him why I scheduled the exam so rashly and he showed me on his computer the calendar with available dates and well … there were a lot more dates available than what I saw.

So yeah, I scheduled myself by mistake, quite rashly for the AWS Cloud Practitioner’s exam. I was definitely not completely prepared for it. But apparently it was enough. And now I can take a break from reading about how to use AWS services and actually solve some useful tasks.

Lesson learned: Some mistakes are worth making.

All is well with the world.

Stay safe, stay happy!


Oct 29 2019

The peculiar view

Category: MiscellaneousIuliana @ 3:02

In 2011 one of the companies I was working for at the time delegated me to Dublin for two weeks. For some reason they got me a room in a four star hotel in the city centre. The hotel was called Trinity City Hotel and those two weeks spent there was the best experience I had in a hotel in my whole life.

The room was big and I had a king size bed with the most comfortable mattress and sheets ever. The windows were covered by some heavy blinds, that were covered with velvet on the interior and some kind of leather on the exterior. Everything inside the room aside the sheets, was super velvety and fluffy to the touch. It was an amazing feeling. Anyway, initially I did not understand why the blinds needed to be that heavy. Seriously speaking, they were difficult to handle and I was afraid if they fell off from their support, I would have difficulties lifting them from the ground.

Being a troubled sleeper, I covered the windows completely and just left a small space between them, so a ray of light could squeeze in in the morning, and make it easier to wake up. And in the morning I found out why the heavy blinds were needed.

At 6 am, I was woken up by some sort of alarm. It was not a strong and annoying sound, but it was repetitive. So I got out of the bed and went to look through the window. And I was mesmerized. In what it looked like an interior yard there were a bunch of medium muscular men, running around the yard, doing pushups and other exercises that looked like a warming up session before a more serious physical activity. I thought I was having a weird dream, and after shaking my head to make sure I was not sleeping, I started analysing the rest of the yard. It looked like a Fire Station and the men were definitely firefighters. Their morning exercise was not bad to look at, especially since they were not wearing any shirts and a few of them looked like the ones on those charity firefighter calendars. So yeah, for two weeks, that was my alarm. And believe me, it worked as a charm. And the blinds combined with the three layered windows were designed to be sound proof; and thy did thier job pretty well.

Apparently the hotel owns the front part of the building and the fire department owns a smaller part from the back.

Anyway, every time I happen to tell some people this story they tend to look at me like I have an over-active imagination. I mean, it is unbelievable enough for a Fire Station to be encapsulated by a four star hotel building, but good looking firefighters training shirtless in the morning !? Kinda far fetched, right?

So, you can choose not to believe the firefighters part, but the hotel really exists and I have a picture to prove the peculiar set up.

Surely though, if I ever find myself again needing to go to Dublin and manage to get a room at an acceptable price at this hotel, I will ask for a room with a view to the Fire Station yard. :D

Stay safe, stay happy!


Oct 28 2019

If I ever get around to living

Category: MiscellaneousIuliana @ 8:57

I started writing technical books in December 2014. Why did I do it? Because I had a lot of time on my hands. I just moved to a new city where I knew nobody and I did not have anything to do after work. Sure, I could have done what every millennial is doing and go to the gym. But gym has never been my thing. Also, after the bad breakup at the beginning of the year, I did not want to put myself in the position of even risking to meet anybody else. I felt like I needed to be alone, to fix myself, to finally figure out what I need, or better said .. who I need.

Also, having a technical book to write gave me the perfect excuse to refuse people asking me out. I felt like letting my introvert in peace for the first time in my life. And boy I did it. I wrote the first one and I’ve complained about being exhausted and not having a life because of it until September, when I finished writing it.

I took my three months of vacation, and then accepted to write another one. Why? Because of the topic of the book, this book was the first I wanted to write about in the first place. And that book just got a second edition that will be published in January 2020.

If you think writing this book was easier and that my attitude changed, you are mistaken. I still complained about not getting enough sleep and not having a life and blaming it all on the book. But still, I’ve managed to get promoted at my full time job and managed to make some friends. So it wasn’t all bad.

And after my next three months of vacation from writing, of course I’ve accepted to write another book. And this one has a funny story, because I told my PM at Apress that I just want to do reviews, I did not want to write a book from scratch. But what I got to write was the 5th revision of Pro Spring, and boy that was a lot of work. But that book had a history, being its 5th edition and all and having my name on it raised the sales of my previous books. So 2017 was a great year, because it definitely consecrated me as a technical author, but also because of other reasons. I managed to finish the book two weeks earlier than planned and enjoyed my US vacation fully.

And of course, again I said to myself that I’m taking a one year break from writing to get myself a life. And what did I do? I accepted to write Java for Absolute Beginners, the 9+ way. This book got published last year, and again I wanted a break, but when I was told one of my books will get a second revision I couldn’t say no. And I wrote this one too and when this entry is being written I am on my writing vacation again.

And I actually told Apress this time that I want to take a year off, and what did they say? Sure sure, smart ass, but if Spring 6 comes out, would you be interested in writing the 6th edition of Pro Spring?

Continue reading “If I ever get around to living”


Oct 27 2019

Et tu, Brute?

Category: Funny,MiscellaneousIuliana @ 23:40

A few of my close friends and those that got to visit my home in Edinburgh got to meet Bob. Bob was my vacuum Robot. It was a Neato Botvac D7 and it helped me a lot by sparing me the effort of cleaning the house. Because it is shaped like a D, it got into the corners as well, so I managed to live for one year without owning a broom. It was quite efficient, silent and the cat liked him.

About eight months after moving into my house he started acting weird. He seemed to foget parts of the house and one time I received a notification that it was stuck and needed help. I found it under the bed, not being blocked by anything. I assumed the software must have bugs, because I did a few software updates, and no software is perfect. Being a software engineer, I know!!!

One year later I decided to buy it a new battery as the manual recommended. The new battery was identical to the old one. It charged normally and Bob did its job exactly once after that. Then it stopped charging the battery.

I did all I could from a software point of view, without affecting the warranty, to no avail. When I gave up I called Neato support. And I had to send Bob to an authorized centre for repair. They sent him back three days later. My Bob was now completely dead, the battery was discharged completely.

I called support again and they told me I should send it to some location and they would replace it. I send it on Monday. Seven days have passed. Almost two months have passed since the last time my house was cleaned. I do not want to imagine the quantity of dust and cat hair in my carpet right now.

I am waiting for them to send me the new robot. And while waiting I decided its name. Its name will be Brute, because if it gets fucked up too, I just want to look at it disappointed and ask “Et tu, Brute?”

But, regardless of the issue bob had, I really love this type of robot. I really hope the new one will be more resilient. But still, its name will be Brute. that is not going to change now.

Stay safe, stay happy!


Oct 27 2019

The one with the menopause

Category: Funny,MiscellaneousIuliana @ 1:39

After 5 published books and a few jobs where I had leadership positions people that know me tend to think that I am pretty smart. I don’t like to contradict anybody that has a good opinion of me, but if you think I have some natural talent, or that my work is exemplary and my mind is an epitome of organized information let me burst that bubble for you.

My mind is like a hurricane, powerful, quick but also highly disorganized. After all these years I barely know how to harness it. Sometimes I have the impression that I do not remember information and when needed, it just pops up seemingly out of nowhere. Or even more funny, it pops up when I no longer need it.

When I took the exam to finish the first school cycle in Romania, there was a math problem that was really simple, but I was unable to solve it during the exam. The solution come to me three days later, seemingly out of nowhere. It’s not like I was thinking about it after the exam really, I was just on the balcony, lounging in the sun and boom! there it was.

One of the weirdest things that happened to me recently is being in a bar with a friend and recognizing a song and the band and started singing it. And he swears that a few weeks ago I did not recognize that song when he asked me about it in a different bar.

Anyway, I decided to take a break from bragging about where I’ve travelled and what I did interesting and waste your time with some funny things happening in my life.

Continue reading “The one with the menopause”