Mar 24 2020

The Apocalypse by Simpsons

Category: MiscellaneousIuliana @ 11:40

Somebody sent me this funny video.

I’m not sure if I’ve ever seen this episode, but the scene is funny as hell. If we were to exagerate and say this pandemic is an apocalypse, that video doesn’t however reflect the situation in Romania. And this is what I want to tell you about.

Looking at Romania right now that scene is far away from the truth. In Romania the only people that are allowed to urge/inspire people to gather together at this time with no legal consequence are the priests. And they are doing it. In Romania there are people still going to churches, kissing the same icons one after the other in a queue and still being given the Eucharist from the same damned silver spoon.

As for bars, if you have a bar and you open it during the pandemic you are going to go to jail. Double standards much?

As for me, since I was 18 years old, the chance to find me in a church dropped to almost zero, the chance to find me in a pub increased to almost 100. And during the pandemic both are dropped to zero, because the only way I’ll be leaving my house right now is to go try and get some food. I don’t feel any urge to go to church. Why would I? Being religious and going to church has rarely ever helped me much. I don’t think that will change now. Unless churches are converted to supermarkets, then you’d find me there from time to time.

Stay inside, stay safe, stay happy!


Mar 22 2020

Friends and readers, I need your help

Category: TechnicalIuliana @ 14:51

I never thought I would be writing this kind of entry, but here we are. My new book is getting thrashed on Amazon by 5 ratings under five, given by 5 people that could afford to spend more than 50$ on Amazon; because, this is the condition to be allowed to post a review on Amazon. Which makes sense, but it doesn’t mean it’s fair.

I’m not looking for a definite 5 rating for the book and I do not ask for praises that are undeserved. I just want people that actually read the book and found it useful to have a say in it. Which won’t happen on Amazon, unless the people will buy the book from Amazon. Which will make Amazon profit, but Apress and me won’t.

After reading those reviews, I thought that maybe I shoudl stop writing technical books. But then again, it’s just 5 people. And there are many others that liked the book and started shifting my thinking. Maybe the way I write isn’t for everyone, maybe I have trouble expressing some ideas; maybe some people just don’t like the way I write. It’s perfectly normal and expected. But, to trash a book just because you weren’t able to understand it, that’s unfair.

I have tried to read a lot of technical books that people recommended and I ended up just reading the chapter I needed for the topic I had an issue with. Technical books are not always easy to read. I know. But I never went online to trash a book or an author. Especially now, that I am a technical author myself and I know what it takes to write a book and the rewards you get. Which are mostly not financial. I’ve written about how much money I make from my four books before, here.

Also, people are more prone to voice their criticism than praise. I know, I’m Romanian, my people likes to complain, criticize and satirize a lot. I’ve worked for companies where I was doing my job and working extra hours, and I never received a pat on the back. But the first time I made a mistake, my head almost got snapped off. Figuratively, but you get my point.

Like I said, I do not want undeserved praise, but that rating and the comments are unfair. How do I know? Because I have a lot of messages by people adding me on LinkedIn because of my books. When I first started receiving messages from people buying my books I was shocked. I never even considered sending a message to an author, even if I loved their books. These people must have really benefitted from my books to make the effort. I am humbled by their messages and it was a slap in the face. Because I never took the time to say thank you to an author I liked, a mistake which I plan of correcting from now on.

And since we’ve talked so much about the LinkedIn messages, I’m gonna post a few screenshots. I haven’t asked these darlings for their permission so I’m gonna delete their names. But I’ll leave their titles as proof that some of them have enough technical expertise to be taken seriously. Some of the messages are about the previous edition of the book, but still. There are more in Romanian, but I really did not have the time to translate them all. And there are more I did not get to answer to. I asked some of them to help me with a review. Most of them tried and they were blocked by the Amazon rule of being a good spender. There are more, some of them are about my other books, but I’ve taken enough time to write this entry and I do have other things to do.

And then there is this young woman, a student, new to programming and I made sure she gets a copy of my book for free, because she needs it the most. I am almost sure she is not shopping on Amazon too much and she won’t be able to help with a review. But if my book helps her become a better developer and gain confidence in her skills, that is better than any book review.

I owe my own career to some technical authors like Adam Bien, Erich Gamma, Richard Helm, Ralph Johnson, and John Vlissides, all the authors on Baeldung.com, the guy behind mkyong.com (that sometimes post scode and configurations that do not really work, but he has the right idea and it just points me in the right direction) and all developers confident enough to answer technical questions on stackoverflow.com.  And I feel so proud knowing that for some people, I’ll be in the same list with these guys. I am grateful for each and every line of existing text, code or configuration produced by these guys that helped me become better! But they wouldn’t have been where they are if they would have been brought down by a few bad reviews. So I won’t either.

I would like to end this entry by saying thank you to all of you that have bought my books and that have provided feedback. And if you are kind enough to provide an Amazon review, to try to correct my score there please do so, otherwise just post your reviews on your blogs, write about it on Twitter, send a feedback to Apress, or just leave a comment on my Books page and hopefully Google indexing will take care of the rest.

Thank you again for your support and for the people dissapointed by my books, I am really, really sorry, but if  your negative reviews cause Apress to break up with me and I would stop writing, I’ll never get a chance to make it up to you. Oh well, it is what it is.

Stay safe, stay happy!

[Later edit:] One of the reviews on Amazon says that the book is horrible because the formatting is bad. I have to agree, I don’t like it very much either. I’ll have to check with Apress and see how that can be improved in the future.

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Mar 22 2020

I caught it

Category: MiscellaneousIuliana @ 11:47

Yes, I caught the COVID-19. It was only expected really, since the colleague sitting next to me at work is constantly using the bus to come to work. I started feeling sick just a few days after he did.

On Thursday I started showing the first symptoms. I woke up with a very bad headache, I took an ibuprofen and went to lay in my bed to wait for it to take effect. At that point, I just thought I had a headache. I woke up three hours later with a mild fever, shortness of breath and still feeling very tired. The cough was not that intense. I could barely stand because I was feeling dizzy and if I insisted in doing so, in about 30 minutes the headache came back with a vengeance. So I went back to bed. I’ve spent the most of 24 hours in bed, getting up just to feed my cat, eat or brush my teeth. I know the headache is not a symptom that is usually mentioned, but some people do get it. I can only suspect that my brains figured out pretty fast there was an intruder and started intensively working to find a solution. Because almost three days later, the headache was gone, and now on Sunday morning, except some obvious weakness I am pretty ok. Breathing still takes some effort though, but I guess this is expected.

The first two days, the ones where the headache was almost always present were the worst. The last time I felt the headache was on Saturday morning during my sleep. And I dreamed that I was diagnosed with a brain tumour that was pushing against my eyes, and was big enough to affect the cerebellum. That explained the fact that light seems to bother me and the dizziness. I woke up  that morning quite late and the headache was gone. So was the fever. I was still pretty tired and breathing was a little bit weird. I mean, you shouldn’t “feel” your lungs when you breathe, that is not how a healthy person breaths.

I was not officially diagnosed, from what I’ve read on the NHS site, isolation is the first step. Calling 111 is the next if things turn ugly and 112 if things turn really ugly. I guess three days in bed was not ugly enough for me to seek assistance and the online moral support from my friends was just enough to help me ride it.

Anyway, although I still feel pretty tired, I was able to write this article without getting a headache, so I think I’m out of the woods.

I really hoped I wouldn’t catch it. I wanted to believe myself this wonder woman, strong and healthy and able to do anything. But if there’s something I’ve learned about myself in the last two years, is that mistakes from my past, done when I wasn’t smart enough to take better care of myself came back to bite me in the ass. I am more fragile than I would like to be. A flu tends to put me to bed now, my knees become weak after a 20 mile bike ride and the left one sprains very easily.

The good part in catching this virus so early is that I’m done. The symptoms were quite mild, except the three days in bed nuisance. And hopefully now that I have antibodies for it, I won’t get sick again. This means I’ll be able to get back to my normal life and maybe get out a little and help others in need(I do live in an old neighbrohood after all), unless UK panics and makes staying indoors a law.

What else can I say? Since I’m not a doctor, if this was a different bug and not the COVID-19 I will be very very disappointed. If it was and any of you gets the form with headaches that I got, be brave. Sometimes it will feel like your head will pop like a piece of popcorn and ibuprofen doesn’t work. But be brave, it will pass. If it doesn’t, call a doctor for advice. In the UK call first the 111 number  and you will be advised what to do.

This being said, I’m back in business.

Stay safe, stay happy, stay healthy!


Mar 16 2020

Who we are

Category: MiscellaneousIuliana @ 1:41

Creating content is hard. Creating valuable content is harder. Creating meaningful content is damn right close to impossible.

I say that because, as I was preparing to leave for Romania for a while, I had to build a web page with all details my pet sitter might need to know about taking care of my cat. I initially thought the hardest part might be building a web page with a proper theme, because I am no expert in HTML/CSS and JavaScript or PHP. But surprisingly, the page skeleton was ready in record time and the content… well… the content took half a day. I love my cat and I take care of her very well, as I have been for more than 13 years now. And still, it was difficult producing content valuable for my pet sitter. But since the world is going through a pandemic, obviously going to Romania is no longer an option.

So you can expect a lot of content to be produced in this period. Artists that can no longer interact with their public directly will create videos, and streaming platforms will become better. People that have blogs will write more. If the content will be good or no, I guess we’ll see. Because you can write about the coronavirus a few times, but at some point you have to try other subjects, because people will get sick of reading about how doomed we are.

Anyway, I expected I would have more ideas and more time to write, but ironically, now that I have time, I just want to spend it relaxing, cleaning my house, sleeping, playing with my cat, sewing my clothes. Anything really… I almost feel like I’m just trying to kill time until this ends and I can return back to normal. I can go back to the gym, I can go back to dancing, I can go back to looking people in the eyes from less than one meter away. I’m not sad for being isolated from people. Not yet anyway, I mean, my friends have been more active than ever these days. Maybe because we do not know which one of us has a defective immune system and they might not make it. Or maybe just because now the option of jumping on a plane/train/bus to visit each other has been taken away.

I don’t want to be pessimistic, but what if this virus never goes away? What if it comes back in different shapes every year just like the flu? How will our society look like with most of our lives indoors? Will we build domes with extreme air filtering systems to keep the virus from finding us? Or maybe, just maybe finally we’ll develop an immunity to the damn class of viruses causing all types of flu.

Well, not sure what will happen, but nature is already showing us a little. Since people have started isolating themselves, Venice’s canals have become crystal clear. Italy has been in quarantine and people started self isolating only for the last week. Animals used to human interactions are taking to the streets. Or, maybe they cannot believe that that humans have disappeared and they are checking it out for themselves. Or maybe they think we are gone and they started taking the territory back. It’s a fun thought, right? Nature seems to be quite fast in taking its rightful place. And it is showing us quite quckly just how toxic our society is. I truly want to believe we will learn something from this and we’ll be better after it, that we will pollute less, that we will be more … connected.

And now … after making you think of improbable futures, I’m gonna turn a little into a conspiracy theorist. For years now, scientists have warned us about the ageing population. There are quite a few countries worried about their declining economies because people just don’t want to have children anymore, so the younger generation cannot produce enough to sustain the ageing ones. What if this virus is just a way to fix this problem? Because, apparently old people are the most affected – not Trump apparently that piece of human shit seems to be a bloody cyborg with badly tanned skin. What if our leaders just met in one of those fastuous secret chambers and decided together that this is the only way to fix the crumbling economies of their countries? Just imagine, countries with public pension systems will find themselves with a lot of money in 6 or 12 months. That’s a lot of public money, and public money is quite easy to dip into.

Think about it like that, what do most farmers do with old animals are no longer productive? They take them to the abattoir to recover at least a bit of their value, or they just kill them and eat them.
If we, tax payers are just resources to our politicians, our leaders, what should they do with us when we become… well … unproductive? Well, it seems they don’t have to think of a solution anymore … because this virus has provided them with one. Unless that is the solution they found. ;)

The horrendous thought is that is so very plausible, but we will never know the truth.

Stay safe, stay happy!


Mar 14 2020

Here it goes…

Category: MiscellaneousIuliana @ 2:19

The last time I was in Romania was last year in June. This year I was planning to go home a little bit after the middle of March. I planned most of details since November. I bought the tickets in January after checking up with my dentist, because since I was there it was worth a checkup from the only dentist I ever trusted.

Problem is … coronavirus pandemic happened. And after struggling a lot to make a decision, I made the safest one for all. I postponed everything for next year.

I’m not scared for me. I am pretty healthy and I’ll definitely survive if I catch it. I’ve also been very careful and went to work only by car or bike. And I’m already an obsessive hand washer. But I have colleagues coming to work by bus. And to get home I have to pass through three airports and share the same place for hours with other people. They might be sick and contagious but in the period without symptoms. How can I go home and in good conscience hug my godson, his sister, my mom, my dearest friends, my favourite aunt and tell them that I love them, while I might be giving them the damn virus?

Nope. It’s a chance I cannot take. I can’t risk their health.

So, tomorrow I will go to hunt for some food, because I kept postponing stacking up hoping that I will be able to fly to Romania. The cat is happy though, I made sure she had food since she was supposed to stay here for a while.

I’m sorry dear friends, our reunion has been postponed indefinitely, for your health and mine.

Stay safe, stay happy!


Mar 08 2020

Friday morning coffee thoughts

Category: MiscellaneousIuliana @ 2:23

Ever morning while drinking my coffee I read the news. I guess that is what adults do. I’m kidding of course. I started reading the news because of the coronavirus. I soon have to go back to Romania for a while and I just wanted to be prepared. Not sure for what, but people, as a herd, when they are scared tend to behave in a very crazy manner.

One of my favourite new sites is the Edinburgh News, because it’s local and useful. The news are literally stories about things happening in this city, what roads are being closed for work, which shop has incredible promotions, if winds are affecting transportation, what kind of events are happening and if people got hurt, where and why, etc. And because Coronavirus is something people are worried about, they do mention it here and there now.

But on Friday morning the main page looked like this:

And my first thought was: “Oww, fuck I hope these are not Romanians gypsies!”. Why? Well, Romanians have a talent in recognizing gypsies that are originating from Romania, there’s just something about their faces. I read the article, scrolled down to find this:

Communicating through google translate, one of the clowns claimed to be a Romanian national and was open about their tactics of giving the balloon to a child and then demanding money from the unsuspecting parent. He admitted that he would take the balloon back from the child if no payment was provided.

Here’s the thing, this article might be considered inappropriate in the current political correctness obsessed world, so if you think might be offended stop reading now. But I need to at least try to make people understand the difference between Romanian people and the Romanian gypsies.

The Rroma people, are descendants of people originating in India and brought over to Romania as slaves, hundreds of years ago. When slavery became something frowned upon in Europa, they were “set free”. The reason I put “set free” in italic is because that freedom meant being homeless and penniless in country that was not civilized enough to give them a chance. They may have been forcefully brought over to Romania, but after being set free, they did not return back to India. Would have been an impossible task since they were set free without any compensation for their years of work. So they “chose” to remain here, but could not be integrated fully in our society. Those that could be integrated, became citizens of the banal country of Romania.

Those that could not be integrated became gypsies, nomads, moving from place to place, living from the mercy of people, or from their nativity. They did not have identity cards, they kids were not sent to school. Never staying for too much time in one place, is also a suitable environment for criminal activities, since it’s difficult to be caught. And some of them engaged in that as well.

These are the Romanian gypsies. These are the plague of the Romanian society. You could say that we did this ourselves, since our predecesors were so eager to jump into the “we’d like some slaves” boat, but still. Honestly, I think every country has their own. The Romanian gypsies, were locked inside Romania together with the Romanian people during communism. Communism was not kind to them either, so no wonder that when communism fell and people could leave Romania, they left as well. Before in the UE, it was difficult to leave Romania since you needed a VISA. To get a VISA you needed to have a passport. To have a passport you had to have an identity card. To have an identity card you need to prove a stable residence. Obviously, not many gypsies could get an identity card. But EU and Schengen changed all that, because they could move freely. And boy they did, because now they were free to cover a lot more ground.
I’m not judging their way of life. We all survive the way we can. But their way is toxic to a civilized society.

So there I was, one day after being approved for a pre-settlement status in the UK, which I needed to get because of Brexit, reading that article and I’ve found myself thinking: “No wonder UK wanted out”.

I mean let’s reduce the scale. Let’s say you are having a party at your house and you invite some friends. You have a big house, and a lot of friends and some people from your neighbourhood come uninvited, they crush your party. Once in your house some of them get drunk and start destroying your house, so you and a few of your friends kick them out. You are entitled to kick them out if they misbehave, because it is your house, it is your right.

At the scale of a country, kicking them out has little chances of success, unless you prevent them from getting back in. And this is what UK is doing, is trying to implement a system to prevent these kind of people from coming here. I mean, every country has their own uncivilized people taking advantage of the civilized ones. Preventing their number from growing by requesting immigrants to provide some kind of proof of their trust-worthiness is not absurd.

I mean, look at the description of the behaviour of that beggar. He is aggressive, he is taking advantage of parents with small children. I look at those pictures and I am scared. Well, I’ve never liked clowns anyway, and Joker probably has convinced a lot of people that dressing as a clown is a bad idea. But damn… that is not a friendly face. That is a threatening face. And that is an able bodied human who could have a decent job if he wanted to. But he probably doesn’t want to. Because he already might be part of a big begging network. The way he looks, he might even be the handler of all the others in the image. Because rarely beggars these days are singular. Usually they are part of a network.

So, until somehow we’ll be able to filter all of the bad behaved persons and either educate them, either isolate them from the civilized world, just fight them silently by bankrupting their business, stop giving them money. You are working hard for your money. So should they.

And I should make another thing clear. If I manage to stay enough in this country to get an UK passport, that will not make me British. Even if I speak the same language and respect the rules of this society and pay taxes, this still doesn’t make me British.

Just because they have a Romanian identity card and they declare themselves Romanian nationals, that doesn’t make them Romanians. In Romania they insist on being called Rroma and scream they are discriminated if you call them gypsies. Romania is just the country where they got the identity card.

And because not all of us are adults: all my unhappiness is not with the gypsies or Rroma people altogether. I am sure there are honest people among them that are capable and happy to be part of a civilized society. They are not the target of this article. Actually, there is no target, just a bunch of thoughts that went through my mind while drinking my coffee and reading that article.

Stay safe, stay happy!


Mar 06 2020

Kudos for The Man

Category: MusicIuliana @ 14:18

So, a while ago Taylor Swift decided to finally open up and show the world she is a real person that has real opinions about the world around her and that she is willing to stand by them even if this would affect her career.

When I was a young girl I had the tendency to be a rebel and opinionated. My favourite question was “why?”. Because I started speaking before the communist regime was out, my mother tried to shut that down by telling me that “the mouth gets the ass beaten” so I should be careful about what I say. Which annoyed the hell out of me, because if it was the truth why did it have to be hidden, right? I guess it was difficult raising and educating a stubborn child under a communist regime; you want your child to be truthful, but what about truths that are inconvenient to the regime? How do you educate a child to be truthful always, but except a few cases?

Thus, although Taylor Swift is not one of my favourite celebrities, it’s a question of my taste in music really, I truly understand what she went through and the risk she took by speaking out loud and deciding to own her “inconvenient” opinions.

You might be wondering at this point, what is this blog entry about and why am I mentioning Taylor Swift so much? Because the video for a very powerful song is out.

This is the first song she has produced that I like, and the reason for that is because I finally empathize with her.

I couldn’t empathize with with the young girl born into money and with supportive parents. I couldn’t empathize with the perfect beautiful innocent in-love girl getting her heart broken. I couldn’t empathize with the powerful woman turned confident sex symbol that was finally accepting that her long streak of failed relationships were a normal occurrence and nothing to be ashamed about. But this Taylor Swift, the one that asks if her road to success wouldn’t have been easier if she were a man, this is finally a version of her that I can empathize with.

And now let’s talk about me, because it’s my blog so it’s kinda expected.
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