Aug 07 2018

The trillion dollar company

Category: MiscellaneousIuliana @ 0:47

A few days ago an article about how Apple is the company with the biggest revenue in the world, and the bitter jokes about how that came to be began.

Of course people credit the ridiculous revenue on  thier fragile products and the need for adapters. But I don’t see the problem. They have discovered a niche of lazy humans that forgot that soldering a wire is not really complicated. And honestly it’s quite fun. Another option would be to find a guy good with electronics and pay him to do it, it would still be cheaper than a new one. But hey, an adapter or Apple cable that has been repaired is not as pretty as a new, freshly bought, 200 $ one right?

I love Apple products. I am writing my 4th book on a Mac and I chose it because it satisfies my developer needs better than any other computer and it works out of the box, without the need to install drivers and it took me just 2 hours to install everything I needed to be able to do my work on it. I really considered buying a different computer, but all come now with a Windows I really do not want  to pay for since the first thing I would do is to erase it and put a Linux distribution in its place. Also, I have never had the toolstack I work with now on a different computer than a Mac, so pressed by time I made the investment. But I knew exactly what I was getting. Is it powerfull? Yes. Is it practical? Yes. But you know what else it is? It is sensitive as fuck.  So I don’t move it around if I don’t have to. When I do move it around, it is in a special backpack with shock-protection interior, exterior leather so it doesn’t get wet. When I close it, I put a thin sheet of special paper between the keyboard and the screen, otherwise in 3-4 months the exterior layer of the screen would be deformed in the shape of the keyboard.

I know that the charger cable will probably wear off in time. I’m not worried, I know how to solder and isolate cables. Apple did not become a trillion dollar company because it somehow screwed their clients. Quite the opposite, Apple just provided them sensitive products. They decided not to take care of them and then pay for expensive adapters and new cables instead of fixing them. You might say that Apple provided solution for problems that Apple created. Well, what did you expect? We live in an age that is addicted to shiny new stuff and frowns upon refurbished and patched things. And we like to consume and brag about our new expensive stuff. Apple did not create problems that weren’t there. Our pride, our lust for adoration and satisfaction was always there. Apple just found a way to monetize it.

So don’t be envious of Apple. It’s just a business that is managed well. They did not create the weakness in people.  Take a good look at your self and learn to manage your desires and your finances, your life and your priorities. And if you do a well enough job, there won’t be another  evil corporation owning the world.

And by the way, that trillion dollars might be a consequence of the tax reduction that Trump gave corporations in the US and the third-world cheap labour. Because, they way politicians designed this world, to have a successfull business and be totally legit is probably impossibile.

Stay safe, stay happy and stop buying shiny shit!

Jul 29 2018

The cat lady

Category: MiscellaneousIuliana @ 15:25

A few days ago, I read a blog post  written by one of my fellow bloggers that saddened me a little. I won’t link it because it is written in Romanian and as I am aiming for a wider audience, it is quite useless.

He was telling a story about how he noticed three ladies in the queue of the super market buying cat food and he started drawing conclusions about the fact that they were probably loners that refused men for superficial reasons and ended up with a cat or more.

I have a cat. I’ve had many throughout the years. The reason for it is that I really love animals, but cats are the only ones that can deal with me being away from home for 10 hours per day. Also, all my childhood I wanted a pet, I kept bringing home kittens I found thrown by irresponsible owners at the garbage dump and my parents kept making them disappear. And then when we moved to the countryside, they never spayed the cats, but disposed of the kittens in the most brutal ways. And the old cats, or cats that were deemed unworthy, because they weren’t catching mice, were abandoned in near by woods, or villages. I never approved, but they did not care.

So yeah, I guess I volunteered at a animal shelter for 5 years because of guilt. And I took cats (and dogs sometimes) off the street and took them to the vet and found them owners because of that guilt as well. And I did not abandon this cat and I moved her twice with me, last time to Scotland because of the same reason. The funny thing is I was in a relationship when I got this cat. And my boyfriend at the time loved her just as much as I did. But he had to move to Prague for a job and he was in a difficult situation, so he could not even start negotiating with me to keep it. I had another relationship after that. It did not work out, because we just … did not fit, I guess, but we were to young and stupid to figure it out.

But the cat is not some kind of a consolation prize, or some kind witch mark deeming me unable to have a relationship. More than that, we’ve been together since 2007 and we have gone through a lot of hardship together. And cats are not like dogs, always supportive, understanding, easy to tame, always in a good mood. Cats  can be sassy, cats can be annoying and even violent sometimes. That fact that I can deal with her behavior and not kick her to the curve proves exactly the opposite.

I’ve had one cat the last 11 years, this does not make me a cat lady. This does not make a crazy man hater bitch. But this reduces my dating pool for sure. Because a possible partner must accept the fat furry creature that pukes sometimes, hisses sometimes, acts like the house owner, shits in the house and when it gets sick, it costs a lot to get her better.

And I accept this responsibility. I think I’ve written this here before. If the intelligence of a cat is that of a 4 years old, then the cat can be compared to an autistic 4 year old, because she clearly has difficulties in communicating and can be quite difficult sometimes. Would you abandon a 4 year autistic child? Because I wouldn’t. So I accept all the consequences of having this cat even if this means reducing my chances of being in a relationship.

It does not mean that I hate men(or people), or I am crazy or mean. And it feels a little unfair to be labeled as such.

Stay safe, stay happy!

Jul 29 2018

The signs you miss

Category: MiscellaneousIuliana @ 14:43

A few days ago while ding house chores and being in one of my mind wondering travels I’ve had some interesting thoughts I’d like to share.

I haven’t dated in a while and honestly I don’t really miss it. I’ve been so busy with keeping up a house, a full time job, a part time job and making sure to keep in touch with friends so the relationship don’t die because of distance that I barely had time for anything else. But friends and family are worried for me, because they are uneasy with the thought that if something bad happens to be, I have nobody close to me to protect me and take care of me if worst comes to worst. And in expressing their fears they remind me that I am … alone.

So two days ago I was ruminating over my past relationships and how I’ve felt. And I noticed something. I am passionate about music and usually the music I listen to reflects the way I feel. The song that matched what I felt during the most time in my previous relationship is this one:

If you listen to the lyrics, you will realize that they describe the feeling over a relationship that is over. So I felt that the relationship is over and my desire to black out the sun represented the fact that I did not want the light to shine over the truth of that fact.

I also used to listen to Vertical Horizon a lot, and although the sound of their music is amazing, the lyrics are mostly about feelings that are not reciprocated.

When I fell in love with my first boyfriend, I was a Savage Garden fan, and when thinking of him this is what rang in my years:

And when I was with him, the soundtrack was this:

The last time I fell in love, there was a different tune:

And also this, because he was a total mystery and I guess I had a feeling that nothing will come of our interactions.

But nevertheless, he is a wonderful human being and I was just happy to be spending some time with him.

And considering the fact that I moved to a rainy country, probably the next time I fall in love this is what I will sing in my head. :)

So, take a look at yourself and what music you are listening to, it might reflect feelings that are difficult to admit. I was an idiot and did not listen to my instinct or pay attention to the music I was listening then. Or maybe I was just to weak to make the right decisions. I am human, after all. But maybe reading what I write helps somebody to open their eyes and avoid my mistakes.

Stay safe, stay happy!

Jul 22 2018

Housework and other stuff

Category: MiscellaneousIuliana @ 15:48

I haven’t been writing for a while and that is because I’ve been pretty busy. Aside from a tedious task and work, I’ve had some housework to do as well and a book to write so I am sure you can understand my reasons and forgive my absence.

As I’ve probably mentioned before I’ve rented a flat at the ground floor of a typical Scottish house. And when I say typical I’m not joking. The house was build in 1930 and has separate heads for hot and cold water. And if you ever seen those memes about the UK double-headed sinks like the one below, well… it’s just like that.

Since I’ve moved here obviously I researched why they did it this way, because there must be a logic behind it, right? The first reason is historical, most English houses had running water before boilers were invented, so the hot water circuit was added later. After the boilers were introduced, the water would go stale in the boiler cylinder and become undrinkable and dangerous, so a law was introduced that prohibits mixing hot and cold water. Also, there is an economic approach.  If you use the same pipe for cold and hot water, if you want scolding hot water after cold water, it would take a little more time to get it, as the pipe is cold and because of heat transfer the initial hot water is not really hot, but more like piss warm. The UK design promotes water saving, as you are supposed to use the sink cork, then mix the water  in the sink in the right amount, and there you wash your hands and face, so the water is not running unnecessarily.

I do have an electric shower for quick showers though. So all is well with the world. ;)

Moving on from the sink subject, the house is obviously quite old, but quite well maintained, but it does have its perks. For example it has an old fireplace that is no longer functional and it was covered up like this:

Well, obviously I had to do something about it. So one can of Antique White Chalk Based Furniture Paint, a little Furniture Finishing Wax, 5 days of repeatedly applying the paint, a little bit of peel and stick wallpaper and some advice from an Architect friend of mine, turned the old and plain fireplace into this:

And the fireplace was not the only problem, just look at this old thing:

Although very practical, this very big thing was in my hallway and was taking up space. And because of technical reasons (it hides the electric meter) I cannot get rid of it. So I took out the paint again, and transformed it into this:

Obviously it does not take less space, but it looks like it does, because, color illusion is a thing and also, now fits the rest of the house at least. I still have to paint the wooden cover of the bath tub, that is a weird shade of brown as well and the bed frame, that is quite black. Again, they just don’t fit the house.

Yes, I have a bed frame now, a college from work donated it to me. She was moving into a house with a smaller bedroom and the bed frame just did not fit. The mattress should reach me next week, not sure when because Amazon is not always open with this kind of details. :D After everything is in place I’ll finally be able to sleep properly, I hope. :)

And since I have to get back to working on my book, I will just post here another set of beautiful pictures I took in Edinburgh.

Stay safe, stay happy!

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Jul 04 2018

Driving on the wrong side of the street

Category: MiscellaneousIuliana @ 11:33

After almost a month of being in Edinburgh and taking the bus everywhere I was put in the situation of getting an Uber quite a few times, mostly because my Amazon packages were delivered where I work. I needed to take them home and some of them were too big or/and too heavy to carry to the bus station so Uber XL was the only solution. And I noticed that a trip with Uber was much shorter than one with the bus, the bus can take up to 50 minutes depending on how many people need to board it, but an Uber did even 15 minutes in a good, traffic-easy day. The only benefit of taking the bus was that it is was cheap and I was taking advantage of that time to read, but if I needed to get home faster I had to pop up 20 £ out of my wallet for a trip. And this was, well… painful.

As a coincidence, the week that I decided I needed a car, my got got sick, really sick. I almost lost her. The first morning when she started showing signs, was the morning when I had to go and do a test drive, so being an idiot owner I just dropped by a veterinary clinic, tried to tell them what my cat has, hoping I could have gotten some medicine to make her well, ended up getting her scheduled for an appointment on Monday morning and I went to my drive test. It was scary, I must confess. Driving in UK, as an European driver requires serious brains rewiring. You have to mirror in your head all the rules you know and apply them for driving on the left and also you have to change gears with your left hand. So if your are right-handed and your left hand is mostly useless, it’s really difficult. Thankfully, (yes thankfully!), in 2011 I broke my right hand and that I was the moment I realized that I should force myself to use my left hand more. Because sure, I was lucky then and there were just some bones that were broken and my right hand was supposed to be usable again in 2 months time, but what will I do in case I ever fuck up so badly I need my right hand amputated? With this thought in mind, I used my left hand to do right hand stuff whenever I could. I am even quite good at writing with it now. ;)

In September last year, I also started learning piano and my teacher was amazed that my left hand actually seemed to have more dexterity than my right. So when I got into that car, I was a little bit scared, but I also had the expectation that my left hand would surprise me in a pleasant way. And it did. First 20 minutes of driving and I was already using the 3rd gear.

So I bought the car and I used it to bring my cat home from the hospital. She was in there for two days. This was Saturday. And today it is already the third day I went to work with my car. I managed to trick the other participants to traffic that I am an UK driver. There was one single close call when I was a little bit scared I did something wrong , it was in this big intersection and I needed to do a sharp right and when I say sharp I don’t mean 90 degrees, more like 30. Google Maps said I could, the sign on the road had an arrow oriented right and the traffic light was green, still, made sure  that there were not many cars on the road just in case and I went for it. And then on my left I saw a bus. The bus driver had his WTF face on. From behind the bus a black Audi just popped up, full speed ahead. I did not get to see this driver’s face, but I head the annoyed honking as he bolted in front of me. After him, I did my sharp right and I was on the right lane, on the road I intended to be.  I still do not understand yet what I did wrong in that intersection. I guess I will just have to take a walk one day, because it is close to where I live and try to understand the rules of that intersection, otherwise, I will probably avoid it forever.

For me driving on the left is not such a big thing. As long as there is traffic there is clearly no mistake in regards to on which side of the road you should be. The sign on the road and traffic lights help you a lot as well. What I was expecting to be difficult for me was the fact that there were quite a few new elements combined: new car, steering wheel on the right, driving on the left(so mirrored traffic rules) and new city (doh!), so more than one thing to handle at once. But I’ve always bragged I am multi-tasking and apparently I still am. I did have the beginner-driver feeling a little, and every time I come back from work there is a little more adrenaline than it should. This is because of two reasons: I am coming back home during rush hour, so more traffic and in addition to that, there is a portion of the road that is under repair, and the usable lane is only the one taking me from home to work, the other one is blocked. So coming back home is a hassle and I haven’t managed yet to do less than 40 minutes, because trying to avoid that blocked part of the road, made me select the wrong lane more than once and ending up in parts of the city where I shouldn’t have. You could say I got lost, but it’s difficult to get lost with Google Maps, the more suitable expression is that: I am accidentally exploring Edinburgh. :D

Except for these little inconveniences, all is well. I have a lot of parking space available next to my house, gas is cheap and roads are pretty good. Well, sort of. Roads are really not that good, I have to admit this. So my fellow Romanians, you can laugh your asses off, because I am still driving while avoiding holes and bumps on the road, so I feel like home, only now I’m doing it on the left and in a more civilized country.

Stay safe, stay happy!

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Jul 03 2018

A short skepticism story

Category: MiscellaneousIuliana @ 13:15

I started learning programming at age of 14. I was in high-school and the programming language did not really matter to me. For me it was all about algorithms and data structures as means to solving problems. Whether I was using FoxPro, Turbo Pascal or C, what it mattered was solving the problem and getting the results.

Then I went to the university and because of a series of unforeseen circumstances I ended up writing most of my solutions in Java. And it was all classes, interfaces and objects, OOP for short.

Almost my whole career was centered around the OOP way of solving problems. Even when I was writing JavaScript code, I was still stuck on classes , objects, fields and methods. It did not really occur to me that there was other way of thinking and designing my solutions anymore. OOP seemed so natural, it modeled real life objects and processes after all. But real life is most of the time inefficient and less than optimal, and real life solutions are based on things designs created by at least two generations before and propagated by adults that function based on the “it is known” principle. Because, after all, there is a risk involved in doing things differently, that most people prefer not to take. It is the “If it works, don’t fix it!” engineering principle.

Enter “Gica-Contra”, a Romanian term that describes people that “swim against the current”, people that feel compelled to be against the other 99%. This term has always been used by my mother to describe me because since I was a child I was quite rebellious and stubborn, and always felt the need to ask that  damn question loathed by parents who thought parenting is easy: “Why?”. If you think this kind of attitude changes with age, you are mistaken. I have become the kind of adult that does the following:

  • asks “Are you sure?”
  • says “Let me double-check that!”
  • says “Neah, there must be a different/easier way to do this!”
  • asks “But, what if …?”
  • asks “But how do you really know?”
  • says “If too many people have the same view on this, there is something shady about it.”
  • and many more.

And all that my friends, translates to a single term: skeptic.

Being so stuck on OOP, I was quite skeptical about functional programming. And rightfully so, as the only programming language I could associate it to was Turbo Pascal, and suffice to say, I did not like Turbo Pascal very much. Also there is so much hype about functional programming nowadays, that it tingles my Gica-Contra sense a little bit too much. And that’s the thing that got me worried. I’ve always considered my skepticism as a superpower, as the fuel for my out-of-the box thinking engine. But when it came to functional programming, it kept me from even taking it into consideration, it kept me in the dark. And that’s when it hit me: I was behaving exactly like the traditionalists and conservative narrow minded humans that I’ve always claimed to despise.

This had to change. I needed to come into the light. Thankfully I now work for a company that pays for independent study, we have 10 training days per year, when you are payed just to study whatever you are curious about and the conclusion of those days must be shared with your colleagues via a blog post or presentation. So I took advantage of my first training day to start learning Kotlin. And it was mind-blowing. Especially since one day earlier I also participated to a Scala workshop that went very well. All of a sudden, there was all this new information coming from comparing the two languages. It’s like the fog was lifted from my eyes and I finally could see the power and the versatility of functional programming.

And most of all, I could see the practical side of it. Solutions that needed 20 lines of code to be implemented in Java, needed only 2 lines in Kotlin, and surprisingly, they were still readable. Almost the same in Scala. Come to think of it, I have been bothered for a while by all the boilerplate code required in Java to fit the OOP principles and some coding conventions  that nobody asked me about. All these getters and setters, all the bloody curly braces and all the NPEs… Kotlin and Scala reduce that. And funny enough Java is going in that direction as well, I mean with modules, you might as well just declare your fields public and avoid writing setters and getters, because if the class is not in an exported package you have nothing to worry about.

So yeah, interesting times are coming. No worries, I’ll keep you in the loop. ;)

Stay safe, stay happy!


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Jun 28 2018

Part of the plan

Category: MiscellaneousIuliana @ 2:20

I told you in a previous entry that my cat is sick. Then I thought the only problem was her swollen eye.  So I went to the vet and treated that. 60 pounds later, I had medicine and hope that she will get better. One day after, she stopped eating, the eye was not swollen anymore, but now puss was coming out of her both eyes and nose. I kept guard on her last night, making sure she was ok. This morning, her nose was dry and this is the worst sign with furry animals. It means that they have fever and that they are dehydrated.

So I called her doctor and I managed to get her scheduled tomorrow morning. Meanwhile I am still watching her. She hasn’t moved from her bed, where I put her last evening. I forced her to drink some water.

I know that in English, inanimate objects and pets are referred by “it”, but to me she is not a pet, she is my partner, she is my rock. She taught me how to say no and she taught me that all creatures alike need relaxation and sleep. She also helped me understand my empathy and to accept boundaries of others. It might seem ridiculous that a creature that cannot speak or express itself the way we humans understand could do this, but sometimes gestures, actions speak louder than words.

I have moved from Iasi to Sibiu with her by my side. Then I left her alone for two weeks and then put her in a cage, in a van with a lot of other animals and some strangers for 4 days to get her here. Because of the stress of that experience, she now weights 1 kilogram less.

She’s been with me since 2007. She survived two relationships. She reminds me to go to sleep when I get lost in writing and she starts purring out of the blue when I start feeling sad.

To me she’s not just a pet, she is an old soul. And I know she will probably die before I do, because her lifespan is shorter than mine, but this will not happen if I can prevent it somehow. She is not dying of old age, she is dying of a bloody infection. And that can be cured, all it takes is a little effort and a little money. And I will invest and do all in my power to make her better, because I did not have the time to imagine how my life would be without her. I had a plan: get a more technical job, move to Edinburgh, get the cat to Edinburgh, get a house with a garden for the cat, look for a pet sitter for the cat, learn, improve, excel, travel.  The cat is part of the plan, she has to get better.

Sick Psycho

Stay safe, stay happy!

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