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.


Nov 24 2019

The last review

Category: Funny,TechnicalIuliana @ 2:41

When writing a technical book there are a few steps involved. Sure, I’m writing the text, producing the images and the code. But after that… the reviews come.

The first one is the technical review, if I am lucky I get Manuel Jordan, that is very scrupulous and very technically savvy. And he misses nothing. He corrects typos, code, asks questions and proposes changes that increase the value of a book. I’ve had other reviewers and they were not even a quarter as good as he is. So I began asking Apress for him as a reviewer for any book I write.

After Manuel is done, and I modify the chapters accordingly the grammar/expression review comes in. This is supposed to be performed my very good English/American language speakers that sometimes also use software to replace certain expressions. Reviewing my books after they do their work is the part I loathe the most. Why? Well, because they are probably not technical persons and because that software sometimes does shitty things, that they fail to notice. Also the final review that I have to do has a very tight deadline, although I have a full time job. When it comes to this review, nobody seems to care.

Anyway, this year I decided to show you a few samples of how my last review goes. So, I receive a PDF that is full of notifications regarding what was changed and with paragraphs highlighted in red, when they seem to make no sense. Every team or person that makes these reviews have their little peculiarities. In one of the previous books somebody replaced all instances of which with that. In the book I just finished reviewing these guys did the opposite.  In the previous book, one of these persons modified all the tenses of the to be verb to present tense. As you can imagine, I was not happy about it and had to review a 700 page book in a few days and correct the damage.

Seriously, I now have the impression that the grammar review is done to force me to read my own book. Because this review does the following:

  • messes up technical definitions
  • messes up some of the images by resizing them in the weirdest ways
  • splits up big phrases that make sense into smaller phrases that make no sense
  • sometimes fucks up correct grammar
  • and although there is a team of people doing this, they still managed to miss typos
  • and they missed LaTex formatting elements too

Anyway, do you want read more about my own personal 4-day hell? Here we go:

  • Apparently somebody in the team doing the review does not like the etc shortcut. Because it was replaced every where with and so forth. It’s not problem really, but it kinda adds 3 words to the book instead of one. So if the purpose is to keep the book smaller, to be (ahem!) transportable, they’ve failed.

  • Every time I introduce a piece of code or configuration, I introduce it with: You can write code like this:, or The resulting code should look like this: , etc. They hate the like this expression too. Because they always replace it with like the following. This is not a biggie either, I guess in their heads sounds more official or something, and it does not affect the technical meaning so I accept it.

  • Because the publisher is from the US, they do not like it when I use the word behaviour, because they always change it to behavior.

  • Sometimes they change words they do not recognize… just because. Somebody changed iBatis to bates, yes, like Norman Bates from Psycho.

  • Sometimes they delete the first piece of a phrase just because it mentions something from the previous section of chapter. I usually do that to continue the idea or compare it to something that I am about to introduce. Or they decide to split big phrases in smaller ones. The big ones make sense. The smaller ones, not so much. And before correcting their stuff, sometimes trying to keep the split phrasing, I just have to vent writing comments like these:Of course I delete them before I send the final document and for the moment it helps to release the stress.

  • All phrases containing any forms of [is|are|can be] used to [create| make | build] were modified to: creates, makes, builds. This has lead to the technical meaning of some things being totally trumped up. Forget about grammar being affected, the technical meaning is the one I am concerned about.

    I also have a more easier to read example:

    Microservices are a specialization and implementation approach for service-oriented architectures (SOA). They are used to build flexible, independently deployable services.

    became

    Microservices are a specialization and implementation approach for service-oriented architectures (SOA). They build flexible, independently deployable services.

    Say what? Who does the building, the microservices? Really? How? Do they use bricks? In defence of this team, after each [is|are|can be] used to [create| make | build] I should have added [by X], where X can be the Spring Ioc Container, the developer, god… you know, the one performing the action. Because apparently when we say metal is used to make cars, it just does not make sense without mentioning who does the making.

    Also, I can’t understand the logic of these persons. If you have doubts just imagine the construction used in a daily, human phrase. Flour is used to make bread is not the same with Flour makes bread. The first makes sense. The second doesn’t.

  • Sometimes they take expressions like it is used, it is created, it is mentioned and just remove the  it is part. No idea why.

Yeah, so this was my life starting Tuesday until one hour ago when I sent the corrected PDF back to them. Finally it is over (theoretically). The book, Pivotal Certified Professional Core Spring 5 Developer Exam (I still do not know who came up with this name), is done and I can finally sleep. Maybe.

 

Stay safe, stay happy and stay in bed!


Nov 23 2019

My heart is better than that

Category: MiscellaneousIuliana @ 2:45

George Michael died on the 25th of December 2016. He is yet another artist that I never got to hear singing live and I get sad when I think about it.

He was one of the greatest musicians of this century, that managed to score numerous number ones in the whole world with little promotion and without even appearing in his videos. His personal life was marked by numerous tragedies, that are relfected in his lyrics.

In White light he sings Cause there’s no white light and I’m not through/I’m alive I’m alive…/And I’ve got so much more that I want to do. And four years later he died. Oh, the irony …

I haven’t listened to his music in a while. I forgot just how much his lyrics and voice moved me. I was reminded of how much I love his music when Darren Hayes shared a single of his that was released post-mortem.

I recognize some of my feelings in his lyrics. He was singing at 53 that he will always try to get his shit together. I am 36 and I was worried I took a wrong turn somewhere and instead of having a stable, fixed life, with wants, needs and plans that no longer change, I still have doubts and still fight to get and keep my shit together.

So thank you George for reminding me from beyond the grave that I am fine as I am and whatever I’m going through is normal.

The lyric I love most of this song is “my heart is better than that“. I took it and made it my anthem. And every time something gets me sad, bitter, or angry I just remind myself, that my heart too, is better than that.

Enjoy his music, celebrate his life. He was a kind human being and we lost him too soon.

Stay safe, stay happy!


Nov 18 2019

Just another glimpse into my logic

Category: MiscellaneousIuliana @ 2:52

People that know me well know that I am an atheist and I don’t really fraternize with overly religious people. Even if you are not trying to convert me and are not wearing your belief as a badge of honour, if you have an imaginary friend that you think approves of every shit you do, because it hasn’t smitten you yet, we cannot have any kind of relationship. I do not have an issue with agnostics, or people that just believe that there must be something bigger than us out there. I have a problem with people that believe in an all powerful god that has his reasons for doing anything and that gives you strict rules to live your life by.

So why do I really have an issue? There is the reason I mentioned previously, if you think everything you do is good and right and you are a good person just because your god hasn’t smitten you yet, that means you could do bad things and you would have no idea. Because you have no reason to doubt your actions.

The other reason is because … well, before telling you that I should tell you that I was raised catholic – the worst kind of catholic, the romano-catholic one. My mother was a strong believer and she repeated the “believe it, do not research it” chorus a lot of times throughout my life. A few days ago, I discovered my old poetry and song books and realized just how big the part of my life and my mind was taken up by that belief. It was disgusting to have a glimpse into my child/adolescent mind and realize the extent of the indoctrination.

When I was a child/adolescent I fell in love with a person, a person that was kind, and jolly and supportive. He did not love me back, because, oh well… there were special circumstances, but I loved him and he was in my morning and evening prayers, I wanted him to have a good, beautiful life because, out of all the people I knew, he deserved it the most. And I was a passionate believer and respected all the rules, did my volunteering work, sang in the church choir and I did everything right. And my only wish, the only thing I asked my god was to make sure this person had a happy life.

And God listened.

And made him he die in a stupid accident when he was 20.

I asked my mother and I asked priests why do things like this happen. Why does God takes the ones most worthy? They said, it is precisely because they are worthy and wants to make them into angels. Some said sometimes God punished others for their sins by taking persons they love (which is a fucked up explanation, if you want to know my opinion). To keep it simple, if there is a God, this entity is so fucked up that kills kids for their parents sins or kills them just because he can. And he does not even have to justify it, being all powerfull and all.

So, if you believe in a God that does this, how could you imagine you can be my friend? Do you not realize that you literally have the highest appreciation for an entity that killed the person I loved most for a big period of my life? How do you think we could ever be friends?

This is not a sad post, or just another me living in the past episode. It is just an explanation for a few people in my small universe, that I needed to share it with the internet as well. Why? Just because I can. On my blog I am the all powerful god. :D

Stay safew, stay happy!