Jun 27 2020

I got beaten by SelfControl

Category: MiscellaneousIuliana @ 2:21

In 2014 made the change from Linux to MacOS. I adapted quickly, even though I had my issues with an operating system that sometimes behaves like a control-freak boyfriend.

(Some context for the previous image: Siri just started on its own, for no apparent reason. Told it to leave me alone. Apprently the algorithm is not good enough to understand that and act upon it. But I guess it records everything I say which is terrifying.)

A few years in I discovered I had a social media addiction. Me checking my Facebook account, Twitter, Reddit and a few other websites constantly was affecting my ability to do my job properly, so I did what I always do, I tried to block myself from accessing those websites. My Facebook app is currently disabled on my phone. I only keep the messaging app for keeping in touch with friends, but my problem was cutting access to them on the computer.

That is when I discovered the SelfControl app. My only problem with it was that the maximum blocking interval was too small: 12 hours, if I remember correctly. And it wasn’t doing it for me. So, I googled for a solution. And there is an itsy-bitsy hack to increase that interval to … a lot. I set it to 1 month.

And a while ago exasperated by the fact that I was wasting too much time on unproductive sites, I used the app again, and I set it to one month on my work laptop and on my personal laptop.

Only about a week ago, I really needed to retweet some work tweets and this is how the fight with SelfControl began on my work laptop. Do you want to know the fun part?

There are a lot of things you have to do to disable the damn thing. I tried a few and it looked like it might work. I also unistalled the damn thing.  I hoped something would work, but nope.

Twitter, Facebook and a few other sites are still blocked on my work laptop. I don’t even know how long I have, and if after the interval expires the sites will be available again. It might be that the work laptop just needs a restart, which it will happen at some point. But until then, I am still locked out of all the unproductive sites that used to eat my time.

And I know that if I am willing to dig a little more, try new things, I will end up unblocking those sites. But I do not want to, I don’t really need them anyway.

But what prompted me to write is entry is that I admire the team that build the SelfControl app. It really, really does what promised. It helps you control yourself, when you are not able to. And it does a great job. So great, that it discourages you from interfering with it.

So yeah, I’ve been beaten by SelfControl and I’m not even sorry.

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Jun 16 2020

Time to give up Revolut

Category: MiscellaneousIuliana @ 14:10

When I moved to the UK Revolut saved me a lot of headaches. I was able to convert all my savings in GBP with the smallest commission and I was able to rent a place, buy a car and even receive my salary without having an UK bank account. Sure, the cost of all this was the cost of the Revolut premium service which is 72GBP per year. But it was worth it.

Emphasis on the was.

Continue reading “Time to give up Revolut”

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Jun 13 2020

The Masquerade

Category: MiscellaneousIuliana @ 17:55

I am using Twitter to keep in contact with my developer friends, mentors and to keep up to date with Java, Spring, IntelliJ IDEA and other technologies I like and use on a daily basis. When the USA BLM riots started, I said to myself “Hm, finally, maybe US will manage finally to fix their racism problem”. But I never expected every fucker in this world to try to jump in the BLM bandwagon and to show support in the most ridiculous ways that do not make a difference. People I thought were “la crème de la crème” in the IT environment started babbling about how using the terms master/slave in tech is bad and somehow promotes slavery and racism and going out of their way to stop using the “master” branch in Git.

I thought they were only a few and their useless ways of showing they despise slavery and racism would be laughed at and people would forget about it.

But it didn’t. And it scares me.  And it sickens me. Don’t stop reading, let me tell you why.

Continue reading “The Masquerade”

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Jun 11 2020

The one about my streaming addiction

Category: MiscellaneousIuliana @ 22:40

I have an addictive personality. Or maybe I don’t, but I know that both of my grandfathers were alcoholics and I have two uncles which are alcoholics too, one for each branch of the family. So, I do tend to be afraid that if I’m not careful I will turn into an alcoholic. Fortunately, my addiction of choice is not alcohol. And neither is any other drug. I tried marijuana, I even have access to really good one, but I only have a brownie when I have trouble sleeping. Otherwise I feel no desire for it.

My addiction of choice are books and movies. I like to lose myself in imaginary characters’ lives, because my life was always pretty nasty, and when it stopped being nasty it became dull. I need some freaking excitement, so movies, series and books provide a lot of excitement. I’m not saying that when I was an adolescent I was sacrificing all  my sleep to watch series like X-Files, Star Trek, SeaQuest, Star Gate, Firefly, etc but I did sacrifice a lot of it, and the only thing that stopped me from losing even more sleep was the nature of TV programmes which only provided one episode per day, or per week. But damn, the wait and the anticipation of a new episode made the experience so much better. I did nothing else while watching the episode and payed attention to everything in it. The lights, the symbols, the character’s clothes, hairdos, everything was important. And I hated when episodes were interrupted by commercials.

Then Netflix and Prime and other stream services appeared. And the commercials and the anticipation were gone. Don’t get me wrong, I very much appreciate the lack of commercials. But I hate the fact that the whole series is there to watch. Because at this point, I just want to know how the story goes and how it ends, I just watch the first episodes with enough attention to learn the characters voices, and that is it. After that, the show runs continuously while I do other things. I no longer pay attention to the details, I don’t care about the surroundings of the characters, I just care about the interactions between them and the overall story. I no longer care about how they look, how they dress. And I think I’m missing something, because there are not many new series that I can say they have become my favourite and can mention along the ones that have taken a place in my heart long time ago. There’s just three really:  Altered Carbon, Chernobyl and The Mandalorian. These three are the only series I’ve watched exclusively, without doing anything in parallel. These three are so good that they capture my full attention which means the rest are pretty low in quality which is turn not good for this industry.

Anyway, I lost my train of thought.  This entry was not supposed to be about series and movies I like. This entry is supposed to underline the following: streaming services are very addictive. The problem with them not enforcing moderation is that I sometimes feel I’m so eager to finish a series, I am not even watching it, I’m mostly listening to it. And when I watch it, I feel guilty because I am wasting my time and not getting anything done. I’m far from a worst-case scenario, I am still able to do my job and waste some time here and there. But I imagine there are persons which get sucked into binging worse than I do. I’m sure nobody lost their job because of a streaming addiction, but I am curious how many people realized that a streaming is addictive and decided to cancel it to prevent themselves from wasting time?

I did it for this exact reason. So, Netflix lost a customer. Will I revive my account in the future? Maybe. Just for a month when the new season of Witcher gets released. And maybe for Altered Carbon. But after that I will cancel it again. And sure, you will tell me that there are a lot of other good series, and you might mention some of the Spanish and South American ones. I’m not interested. Those are so close to the telenovelas my mother was addicted to when I was young, that it makes me sick.

I think streaming services should reconsider their approach. If addiction to binging is looked at as an addiction to drugs, you do not want your customers to die of an overdose, you want to give them little quantities of the drug to keep them addicted and alive and functional enough to pay for it.

But, what do I know? I’m no psychologist and I do not own a streaming service after all. Take a look at your habits and make your decision. I made mine.

Stay safe, stay happy!

Jun 03 2020

The choice

Category: MiscellaneousIuliana @ 1:05

I have a writer’s block again when it comes to technical stuff, so here I am on a Scotland rainy day thinking again about my past relationships and drawing new conclusions.

When somebody asks me these days how come I am still single I do not have an answer ready. I could list a lot of reasons, but this world is so big, and there is so many of us that if I look, I would probably find at least one person with similar background and circumstances that is not single. So… I have to admit to myself that it is a choice now. And I should have made this choice many years ago when I first had my heart broken in the worst way. Instead, I chose to believe that there is a soul mate out there, that there is somebody that would love me and will want to spend their life with me. And because of that belief I had my heart broken again and I broke a few hearts too, and I cannot take that back.

I grew up in a family that was disorganized, chaotic, with a lot of conflicts and passive aggressiveness. I was never in denial about my home environment, but for a long time I used to think that when not seen by anyone all families were like that. And although I hoped the family I will start will be better than that, I was also terrified that in time it might become exactly like that.  So exactly like a time traveler caught in a time paradox, I probably caused the demise of my previous relationships while trying to avoid it.

The sad truth is that the place where we receive our training for being part of a family is within the families we are born in. What we see happening between our parents we tend to replay with our partners. It’s not really about love really, it’s more about creating and maintaining a partnership. Because you can love somebody to the moon and back but maintaining a partnership has more to do which your behavior than with your feelings.

It should be obvious that early family dynamics influence the way you yourself will behave in your adult relationships because it teaches you to communicate to people close to you. And it does it in a natural way, without forcing you, without testing your understanding. Since you are living with the same people for a long time, you get contaminated with certain elements and do not even realize it.

A personal example: for a long time I was unable to deal with criticism in a healthy way. Code reviews and professional evaluations used to give me nightmares. Where did I learned to react like that? In the arms of my toxic family of course. Both my mother and father were very critical, and when I say critical, I mean abusive. How I did in school never satisfied them, how I behaved was not acceptable and so on. I finished university with the words of my father haunting me: “You are not beautiful, and you are not smart, if you marry a guy that doesn’t drink and doesn’t beat you, consider yourself lucky!” Any mistake had as a consequence either some verbal/physical abuse, either some mockery. So I learned criticism was bad, and dreaded it for years. But having to survive, I swallowed my feelings, cried in the bathroom, whatever was needed to get the job done. And in time I learned to appreciate negative feedback and criticism. Because you cannot improve if nobody tells you that you are “doing it wrong”.

But my dread in the face of criticism/ negative feedback was probably the root cause of the cancer that destroyed my previous relationships. I would take criticism way to seriously and I would try to change. I would fail and feel like shit and end up despising the person next to me for making me feel that way. Or, I would never provide feedback, never criticize until the glass was full. And by that time it was almost always too late. Because the time when the glass was full, it was the time when in my mind I would have decided the relationship is not worth saving anyway.

Another thing that saddens me about growing up in such a difficult family, is that I have no idea how a healthy relationship feels like. I know what it looks like, but I do not know how it feels like, and instinctively I choose partners whth who I can recreate a familiar environment. Which obviously, in my case … it’s not a healthy one.

Once I became aware of how my past family life has affected my adult relationships, I made the choice of staying celibate until the toxic persons and toxic relationships will not be familiar to me anymore.

And this year, on the 20th of May I made it to six years of celibacy. And I am not feeling lonely, I’m not miserable and I’m definitely not feeling like I’m missing something. My only regret is that I did not have the knowledge and I was not brave enough to make this choice earlier. I would have avoided a lot of heartbreak for me and for others, and also prevented myself from losing some friends by turning them into partners and then into nothing.

Stay safe, stay happy!

Jun 01 2020

The curse of the USA

Category: MiscellaneousIuliana @ 23:59

When I was growing up, USA was the dream destination for every Romanian that just evaded communism. Each and every adolescent I knew dreamed about surf, Coca Cola, freedom and rock and roll. I never really saw USA as the dream country. And now that we are all adults and have access to internet, we all probably think the same.

The first time that I decided USA is not the dream country is when I was about 14. I was insomniac even then and listened to the radio to fall asleep. Sometime about midnight some American radio station took over the frequency of my favourite Romanian radio station. It was amazing to have early access to the most recent hits long before it reached Europe or be able to listen to music that would never become “a thing” on my continent. But beside the music there was a show that I was listening to as well. It was a horror show. This show was about sexual abuse and the host was reading letters send by kids and adolescents. Some of them were putting into words the nightmares they lived at the hands of older brothers, cousins, uncles, fathers, neighbours, anybody that was an adult in their life really. And I was horrified, because I could not understand how the hell all those horrifying things happened and there was not at least one kind adult those kids were able to reach for help.

So yeah, after listening to that radio late at night, I decided that USA was the country where most adults sexually abuse kids and I am lucky not to be born there.

And then I grew up and learned what racism exists and was blooming in the USA. It wasn’t hard really; you just need to watch some news here and there and just pay attention to most American movies. The hints are there.

And then Monica Lewinsky happened. And as a woman I was baffled about how she was treated by the media. She was considered a tramp and a succubus when clearly, she was that one that was taken advantage of by the leader of the most powerful country in the world.

And then Irak, Afghanistan, etc happened. USA just had to show the whole world that they really want their oil and I was relieved Romania did not have enough to pique its interest.

And school shootings…those are horrifying and heartbreaking over and over again.

I joined Reddit and came in contact with horror stories about the American health system and its educational system. And about people having three jobs and barely affording rent. I mean … what the actual fuck? How can politicians have the audacity to call this the greatest country in the world?

And then Trump happened. And I get it, Hillary was not really an option. She was just as corrupt as him. But Trump… really?

And since we got to Trump… fucking Epstein. I promised myself I will not watch that Netflix documentary. I thought I was going to be sick. But surprisingly, the documentary is very light. In my opinion there is a lot of focus on clean/comfortable abuse stories, and an abuse story should not be comfortable. How the hell they managed to make a documentary about sexual abuse without an R rating? Also if you are smart enough to read through the lines, you can understand that there is a whole broken system that facilitated him to be the monster that he was. The victims were poor, so poor that they would sell themselves and others just as poor as them to this monster and his monster network. They were young girls from broken homes with poor education and no idea of self worth or self preservation.  In what world massaging a creepy old guy when you are not a masseuse for 200$ is considered normal?  The documentary underlines something that has been obvious about USA for years, but for some reason its population doesn’t realize it: USA is the country where the system favours the rich. Listening to Epstein refusing to respond to accusations, hiding behind amendments, only an idiot would think that that damn constitution their politicians like to mention all the time is made for the little people. Let me write that with a bigger font, and in color.

The USA is 99% little people, the rich represent only about 1% of the population and the constituion was written for them.

USA is a country that was born from the genocide of the native population and it grew by feeding on the blood of slaves. If there would be a God, that country would be cursed forever.

I do not want to offend anyone with this entry. America did produce some amazing people, and I’m sure current generations have nothing in common with their horrible ancestors except a bit of DNA. But it is time for a change. And I’m not saying you should burn every millionaire at the stake in the same way you used to burn witches, but absolute power corrupts absolutely and money is power.

So, I don’t know, but maybe a law limiting how rich someone can be is not such a bad idea. If it were up to me, you should be allowed to have about 10 milion dollars in assets and savings per individual. If you end up making more than that, it should go to the national fund for public services like health and education.

Stay safe, stay happy, stay good!

May 16 2020

The aftermath

Category: MiscellaneousIuliana @ 14:24

The Spring I/O Virtual conference was a success. Sergi Almar, the organizer did an amazing job, and his decision to stream it on YouTube while the speakers were Zoom-ing each other made sure everybody would got a very good experience. Discord was used to communicate between the 2500+ plus participants, to submit and answer questions, which was yet another amazing decision, because it made sure no message was was missed. I enjoyed the experience, even if, like I said in my previous entry I was very anxious about it.

Here is my presentation if you are interested.

There is more than one reason for being anxious about it and I decided it would be a good idea to write here about what it took to get this ready.

Continue reading “The aftermath”