Jan 08 2020

The disaster question

Category: MiscellaneousIuliana @ 23:52

I’ve been bombarded  with news from the Australia fire  just like all of you. I had no intention to write about it because this is atragedy of a level that I cannot even begin to comprehend. Humans, being humans, they tried to place blame. Climate change is the main cause. Politicians that pretend it doesn’t exists and keep facilitating the burning of fossil fuels were blamed. Politicians that tried to prevent climate change and promotes laws that protected national parks from human intereference were blamed as well. But putting blame on somebody does not put out that fire.

What is happening now in Australia is terrifying also because we are helpless to stop it. Somebody working as a fireman can tell you how difficult is to put out small fires in the city, where water is accessible easily from hidrants around the neighbrohood. Imagine a fire in the wild, where there are no hidrants and no access routes. A lot of humans are suffering and will continue to suffer because of that fire, but the most unfortune victims of this fire are the animals. Poor things had no saying in the laws of humans that lead to this tragedy. They do not know why it is happening or the direction that is safe to run from it. Call me cold hearted, I think humans on some level did this to themselves, but those poor animals are collateral damage.

Since those fires were not started directly from a human hand, we can think of them as a natural disaster. And if you are wondering how prepared we are for a natural disaster… well, we aren’t. Because we got comfy, we got lazy. Most of us live comfortable lives and have no training for dealing with a natural disaster of any kind.

Let’s do a small imagination exercise: what would happen to your life if electricity would just stop in your city? You do not know for how long. It just stops and you have no way of finding out how long it will be gone for, because there is no way to read the news and there is nobody to produce the news.

Here’s my answer: It’s winter now in Scotland, so the first thing that would happen to me … my ass would freeze, because my house is only kept warm by an electric boiler. I’d lose my job, because without electricity there’s no computers. I would be unable to buy food, because cards cannot be read without electricity or internet. And I don’t usually keep much cash in the house or in my wallet. Because I imagine the Edinburgh airport needs electricity too(sic!), there would be no plane landing or departing from Edinburgh. So I’d be stuck here, away from friends and family without any hope of ever seeing or talking to them again. But also, knowing myself, if things don’t get sorted in a week, probably I’d get my most valuable things in a backpack, take my cat on my shoulder and walk all the way home.

What would you do?

Jan 04 2020

Theory Of A Deadman concert

Category: MusicIuliana @ 22:06

On the 20th of November 2019 I’ve participated to yet another rock concert. The band was called Theory Of A Deadman and apparently starting last year are trying to chnage thier name to Theory. This not a famous band, but was formed in 2001 and I started listening to them shortly after. This was just another band in my alternative bands collection, they had no faces, they just had an angry sound that felt just right for me. Over they years I’ve listened to them from time to time and when ticketmaster send me an email that they were performing in Glasgow I jumped at the opportunity to listen to them live.

To prepare for the concert, I copied the whole discography on my phone and I’ve listened to them for a while. Their music has changed a little through the years, but their latest album is  quite… different. It’s not really rock anymore, it’s a little pop towards hip-hop and the lyrics are quite meaningful and related to social problems that affect the US quite seriously in the current day and age. Medicate is about the opioid crisys and History of Violence is about the effects of domestic violence. I was reluctant about this new album, and how it would sound live, but damn I was in for a surprise.

The show was opened by a band named Dead Posey. I never heard of them until that moment and they did not really sound great live. Or maybe it’s just not my style. But then again, you don’t really want the opening band to be too good, right?:D

Theory Of A Deadman were amazing, they sang for two hours and the room was spacey enough that a lot of head banging was possible. There’s not much I can say about this concert. The crowd was just the right size and I had a lot of fun.

This band does not have the level of celebrity that Taylof Swift has(just a very random example), this means all their income comes from thier music and thier merch. Listening their music on Spotify doesn’t do much for them, since artists receive about 0.006$ per listen. Don’t even get me started on Apple or Google music, where you can buy one song with 0.9$. If you truly want to support artists that do not have multi-billion marketing business behind them, going to their concerts and maybe buying thier merch are the only two ways to do it. Plus, you will never forget the experience. Bands that are not absurdly famous can’t afford to rent huge and expensive venues for thier concerts, which allows you thier fans to be closer to them providing a more authentic experience and usually means the sound is very high quality too.

Even if you are not a fan, if you ever get the opportunity to go to a concert of a not-so-famous band, don’t miss it. You will probably have a lot of fun and it will mean a lot to the members.

Stay safe, stay happy!

Jan 04 2020

Happy New Year!

Category: MiscellaneousIuliana @ 1:55

I’ve been silent for a while. I keep promising myself that I won’t, but sometimes it is difficult to find the time to write a few lines. I’ve been pretty busy starting October, and I allowed myself to just be lazy for the last part of December and the first week of January. Aside doing a few tasks for work in the most friendly environment with my cat on my lap and taking two hour lunch breaks to go to the pool and swim, I did nothing more than take long walks and Netfix and chill with one of my oldest friends.

This friend of mine is very good at designing  things, so he created a little thing for me, that new button on the top-right. I’ll tell you more about it in a second, but first  prepare yourself for a history lesson.

I’ve had this blog since the summer of 2006. Until 2016, hosting it and maintaining it was painless and almost free. But things have changed in 2016. Since then, my blog is hosted on an Amazon virtual machine. It’s not the cheapest choice, but it’s what I chose at the time and I’m stuck with it.

For years I’ve had friends telling I  should charge for access to it or ask for donations and I considered it. I’ve even considered Patreon, but it’s not my style to block access. I’ve always kept eveything I wrote public, and I’m not going to stop now.

Using Amazon involves some costs. A reserved instance for three years, costs me about 145$. I acquired the last one in October 2019.  All other services: data transfer, computing power, routing and VAT, amounts to 25$ per month.  The domains cost me 24$ per year.

Sure, there are advantages. Having this blog makes me reachable to the people buying my books, gives them an insight into what my life is like as a Romanian woman software developer and technical writer, living in a foreign country and working in a domain that is still a little bit sexist. Just ask Claire Stapleton.

And that is why that button appeared on my site. I finally warmed up to the idea. So, if you bought my books, if you appreciate what you read on this blog, feel free to buy me a beer. If the Amazon costs per month are covered, what is left I intend to donate it to a good cause(my favorites are anything involving scientific research for curing cancer, alzheimer or dementia). If the best I get per month is one beer, I will post a picture with the said beer on this blog. Feel free to recommend non-profit organizations doing research on the above or beers to try. :)

Also, some people might say that I do not need the donations, and that would be true. I am lucky enough to have a steady full-time job and I sell books, right?  I do have a full time job, and from that salary I pay the Amazon costs.  As for the books, I don’t sell them, the publisher does and every four months I receive about 300$. And this is for five books,  in a world where there are quite a few torrent and pirating sites left.

That’s about it, if you think this blog deserves to exist and if you want to motivate me to write more and if you can do with one beer less per month, feel free to click that button and use PayPal to send me a beer. ;)

That’s it, this is the new thing I’m trying in this new year. I don’t really have new years resolutions, because I do not believe in setting goals at the beginning of the year. I just want to keep being a decent human being, a good friend and a dedicated developer.

Stay safe, stay happy!

Dec 31 2019

This is what happened

Category: MiscellaneousIuliana @ 13:12

2019 has been a decent year. Although there were a few struggles, I am now in a good place mentally, professionally and personally.

Mentally, I am stronger and a little bit colder. I’ve realized my mind is my own and as such I can keep it under control. From the beginning of the year I have been through stages of fear, depression, frustration, anger and I ended up in a place of acceptance. Some things have happened in the previous year that made me doubt my sanity and the goodness of my soul. But thanks to friends found in unexpected places and my decision to spend my time with the people that can appreciate it for its true value, I’ve took yet another step forward towards the person I hope to be someday.

As an advice to my future self and whoever neeeds it: time is your most precious resource, spend it well.

Professionally, I now have a job that challenges me and keeps my brains occupied. I would lie if I would tell you everything is perfect. A job can be just as frustrating as anything else in our lives and requires at least fourty hours per week of your most precious resource. What you are getting back from a job is the abilitly to pay for a decent place to sleep in and pay for other commodities you might require to keep yourself healthy and happy.  So this combination of not expecting too much, and the surprises along the way, make this job a pleasant experience.

Personally, I filtered yet again the people in my life and decided who is worth my time and how much of it. I read this article  and had some epipfany moments. I am a pretty busy person. I have a full time job, I write technical books, I run, I cycle, I play piano, I read and I write on this blog from time to time. I am also keeping a house. How much time do you think it is left to form new relationships and  maintain the old ones? Not much. I’ve been through a mental hurricane this year. Moving to this new country I was torn by the longing for old friends and the frustration of not being able to make new ones. It is difficult to make friends when you are absurdly independent and in a new country. Cultural clash is also a factor. People might not understand me well. I might not understand them. Also I am Romanian, and because of some unfortunate history context, in the UK, Romanians are mostly seen as being closer to travellers/gypsies as a people, than as a civilized, educated and overall decent people. I really try not to think about it, and I accepted the fact that people will always have prejudices and preconceptions, that might have been there for so long I have no chance to change them, nor I am willing to invest the time to do so. All I can do is to be the best version of myself and be a decent human being. That will not be enough for some people and that is ok.  I’ve also learned that some people do not belong in my small universe and trying to go against my instincts to make them fit has disastruos results. So, I managed to find a balance. I made a list, checked it twice and I decided that persons that have been honest, decent and willing to invest in me the time I was willing to invest in them are the ones that are worth keeping close. I know it might sound weird to talk about friends like items you decide keep or throw away when doing house cleaning, but my mind is like a house and there’s just not enough space for eveyone.

Personally I am well, I am calm and I am content. And I can only hope this will last.

Stay safe, stay happy!

Dec 19 2019

Some great feedback

Category: MiscellaneousIuliana @ 11:53

Yesterday I received some great feedback for my book Java for Absolute Beginners.

Judlyn Muoghalu

Good day Ma’am.

I couldn’t help but connect with you after coming across your LinkedIn details on your “Java for absolute beginners” book.😅
I am a C++ programmer that’s keen on learning another language (specifically Java) and I must commend you for how straightforward your book is. I further appreciate how you logically placed the contents of the book, from the history, to the IDE, and straight into the programming aspects.👌

Really looking forward to the journey of mastering Java through your book and I know it will be an exciting one.😀

Thank you all the way from South Africa!😄

This message has made my day and I wanted to share it with you guys. This is why I write these books. To promote learning and to contribute as much as I can to the future generations of developers.

A big thank you too all of you that bought my books.

Stay safe, stay happy!

Dec 13 2019

I got a bike… finally

Category: MiscellaneousIuliana @ 2:40

I got my first bike when I was 27 and I taught myself how to ride it, with my best friend morally supporting me and helping me with the physics of the doing it.

I wanted a bike when I wanted a child, but my parents could not afford it and were unwilling to make any sacrifice to make it happen. They denied me this, as they denied me any support to develop my passion for music.

But when I was able to make own money I started slowly to make up for everything I missed.

So, on my 27th birthday, I’ve made myself a present. I bought a bike. I learned how to ride it during the weekend and on the next Monday I was going to work with it. This was the 23rd August of 2010.

I bought my next bike two years later, I think. I don’t remember it that well. I remember I took my old bike to the shop  and they found a problem with a core component. So I had to buy new bike. I commuted to work when the weather allowed it from 2010 to 2014.

The next one, I had to buy it after moving to Sibiu. I could not transport my old one because it did not fit in my car. So there I was, buying another bike. This one I did use it for commuting much, because the bike parking at work was not safe. A lot of bikes got stolen from there and I did not want mine to be one of them. So I used it for good leisure times and competitions. Also, this bike was the first that got a name, it was named Greybeast.

And I sold it when I moved to Edinburgh. When I moved here, I did not see myself riding a bike to work again. I was scared of trafic and I know I am clumsy so, I really did not want to add countless opportunitites to die. Also, even getting hurt in a country where I am mostly alone, is a major inconvenience. Also, the rain, I did not see myself cycling in the rain.

But after starting my new job and meeting someone that rode his bike everywhere, I got brave. And I bought a bike. Before this one, all my bikes were mountain bikes, they were heavy, they had suspension and big, thick wheels. This one is a whole different animal. It is a street bike, but with wheels a little big thicker than normal, it is a hybrid, but closer to a street bike than a mountain bike. It is also lighter and faster. And I’ve been riding it to my new place of work starting October.

Honestly, I have no idea how I survived so far without a bike in this city. I get to work in 15 to 20 minutes and in traffic I am constantly moving. Sometimes I circumvent semaphores by getting off the bike and turning into a pedestrian. Also, because there is a little bit of a hill to climb, in the morning I get my blood moving because of the effort, which gives me a high better than coffee. And going back home is fast because I’m going down that hill, which is amazing.

And now I am riding my bicycle to work every day, rain or shine. The only days when I avoid doing it is when strong winds are announced. Because it is really scary to feel the wind pushing me while I cycle.

I’ve talked enough about it. It is picture time.

Also, this one has a name too. And it came to me while riding it the first time home. It’s Dragonfly. Because it is read and black and the handles look like the head of a Dragonfly. And because it is fast, of course.  I mean, really, can’t you see the resemblance? :D

I also got my first flat, and I changed the tire all by myself. And I fixed the punctured tire as well. You have no idea how proud of myself I am for being able to do this.

So yeah, I guess I’m a cyclist now. But no, I won’t be wearing any cycling spandex too soon. :D

Anyway, I noticed something different in this country compared to Romania. Cyclists are respected and protected in traffic. Although some of us get reckless sometimes, it’s always better to have a bike in traffic instead of a car. Because a bike takes less space on the street than a car.

I know I haven’t written in a while. I was recovering sleep and spending some time with friends. I will try to write more often. I’ve already payed for the hosting, so I should at least make it worth it, right? :D

Stay safe, stay happy!

Nov 25 2019

About knowing what you want

Category: MiscellaneousIuliana @ 3:14

I’m an individual that did not follow pattern of development that society approves of. As in, I did not get married and I did not produce any future tax payers. Yet. And this is not because I did not want it.

Wanting to get married and have at least two kids was all I ever wanted since I was a kid myself. Now that I think about it, it’s not that I saw myself doing it, really. It was just the normal step people took in life after finishing school and getting a job. This is what my parents did, and this is what their parents did before them, allowing for the miracle leaf that is me to pop up on the family tree.

Problem is, my life turned out far different than I expected it to be. Meaning, I really don’t have smart people in my close family, I mean, I do not have smart people that actually made it big. I did not make it big either, not Mark Zuckerberg big, but I managed somehow to work in an industry where my first salary was bigger than my fathers’. And he had 20 year experience in his field at that time. So yeah, now you understand where the subtitle of my blog comes from.

Being raised by a super-catholic mother, I knew exactly how my life would be. I would marry a decent catholic boy, preferably with blue or green eyes, because my mother wanted the grankids to have a chance to have her eyes. And yes, I wanted at least two kids, and I was to raise them better than my mother raised my sister and me. And I would have a family that would be more sane and more functional than mine was.

And then a personal tragedy happened that made me doubt everything I believed in and everything I thought I wanted. I survived and managed to turn out a functional adult; an adult that is single at an age a little bit over thirty. Well, to quote Emma Watson, I’m not single I’m self-partenered. Sounds ridiculous, but it fits my situation. I don’t really need a partner, I’m very functional on my own. But somebody asked me recently what do I want.

And I found myself in the peculiar situation where I did not want to say I do not know, because it isn’t really what an adult would say. I was actually ashamed to provide that answer. But this is the truth. I’ve never been over thirty, single and fully independent before. When I wanted a family I was a scared kid that thought making it on her own was not a possibility. So I needed another person to build and maintain a family. But I’m not that kid anymore. I’m a full blown career woman, with a penchant for romance and a preference for peculiar people, in a world where half the marriages end in divorce. And I’m also Romanian in a country where most people dismiss me as a potential partner because of my nationality.

So yeah, I do not know what I want. My expectations about my future are still a blank canvas. And it is a normal situation given what the road so far has been for me. I can make plans for myself and work hard to fulfil them. But I haven’t given up the possibility of stumbling on a partner yet. And if I do, if I’m that lucky, everything I plan for will have to change. Because, you cannot include a person in your life and keep your life the same. A new person brings a lot of new things into somebody’s life. I might like some of them, I might be able to tolerate some of them and some of then I won’t and they will have to change. It goes the same for me. There are things I will have to give up to make some version of partnership happen. Problem is, all those things depend on that person I haven’t met yet. He or she might want kids and I love kids, so I might end up adopting or having some. He or she might like to travel all over the world and I love to travel. So I might sell everything, buy a camper van and live on the road and see the whole world. He or she might be allergic to cats, so I’ll have the … give he or she up. Because the cat is where I draw the line.

So yeah dude or dudette, if you are out there come find me, I think it’s obvious I’m really bad at finding you. And I won’t be able to know what I want until I meet you.