Jul 01 2020

Gilead is coming

Category: MiscellaneousIuliana @ 22:58

There is a pharmaceutical company named Gilead. And this company apparently has managed to produce an anti-viral drug that seems to shorten recovery times in patients suffering with Covid-19.

For all those that read the Margaret Atwood’s “The Handmaid’s Tale(or are watching the series), the name of pharmaceutical company is creepy as fuck.

Apparently the Trump administration purchased 500,000 courses of the drug.

Call me a conspiracy theorist, but if the side effect of this drug is discovered in a few years to be sterillity, we should name Margaret Atwood the new Nostradamus. Also, it would be so ironic if that happens that we will have to invent a word to represent the absolute irony.

Stay safe, stay happy!

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 08 2020

Techie rant

Category: TechnicalIuliana @ 21:17

Do not take this entry seriously. Or do it, I don’t really care right about now.

When I was a young highschool student I saw being a programmer as a very rewarding job, not only financially, but personally as well. I dreamed of all the problems that computers could solve and I wanted to contribute with my brainpower to writing those solutions. So I became a programmer, then I discovered it was cooler to call yourself a software developer, then I figured software engineer describes my expertise better, then software architect and finally I am being called these days a full-stack engineer.

Only I don’t feel like anythign anymore.

I haven’t written code that made use or improved an algorithm in years. So I can’t call myself a programmer anymore.

I haven’t designed or wrote an application from scratch either, and my toy apps that I sometimes write for my technical books do not really count. So I don’t feel like software developer describes me either.

Software engineer? Ha! I barely understand how IPs work most times.

Software architect – I doubt I’ve ever been one.

And I can’t call myself a full-stack engineer, because I should know a lot of things, but every day I feel like I know less than what I need to do my job.

And I hate it. I hate that after six years of studies and more years working in this domain I am reduced to scavanging Google pages and hoping somebody else had the same problem as me and there is a solution that might work for me, prefferably one that I understand.

I love writing code, really, I do. But I’ve been reduced to mixing and matching existing APIs, and hoping that the documentation explains well enough what I need to send to get the correct response.

In IT we used to have a separation of responsabilities. Developers designed and wrote code, sysadmins designed and managed the infrastructure and testers tested the application. It was pretty straightfoward and the sysamin did not care if the code threw a NullPointerException and the developer did not care if the application server could not reach the database. They all solved the problems specific to their piece of evironment. It was pretty niched and it was working fine, well most of the time.

But then Amazon had the wonderful idea of selling VMs. Which is all good and nice until you have an issue and you can’t fucking ssh into it. And some smart ass sysadmin figured out it could automate creation and destruction of VMS. And then some smart developer figured out if a sysadmin could write code to control VMS, so could he. So this is how the DevOps were born.

And then some developer unable to write code that would work on any machine thought: what if I could deliver the environment where my code works? And so Docker entered the picture. And every software developer thought it wasn’t cool to have your code run on your machine, it was cooler to have it in a container. Nevermind that your application only prints a shitty “Hello World!” that you could just write on piece of paper and shove it where the sun don’t shine …

Oh wait where was I? Oh yes, containers. They sound cool and they are… until you cannot fucking ssh into them to figure out what went wrong. And then you discover that the minimal OS of that container image does not support something you need, so there you go, you have to build your own image now.

And then some smart guy thought, what if I made an app that manages containers, and automatically scales them and kills them and then creates some more? This is how Kubernetes was born. And now we all design our applications to be as stateless as possible to allow for containers to be killed and reborn and keep the application online. And now we all use YAML as a fucking programming language. And we store a lot more data than needed in our databases, which are provided as a service, only making Bezos and others richer.

And because configuring how an application should be deployed ends up creating a lot of similar configurations, Helm entered the picture, as a repository for all possible kubernetes deployment configuration templates. It’s like Maven, but for Kubernetes configurations.

And because most applications are so complex they require multiple containers and connecting them is a pain, Istio appeared. And because that is exactly all we needed, more fucking YAML. Because who needs Amazon virtual private clouds and subnets, when you can declare your own for containers … using fucking YAML.

And I’ve just scratched the surface. There are so many technologies that I feel I no longer understand any of them. There are over 150 services running on Amazon AWS that are supposed to help people build applications. But for fuck sake, if I ever have a business idea that requires a web page where people should read about it, I’d rather build an application that runs on a single VM, with with data stored in an RDS Aurora instance and I would keep my business to a decent size to avoid needing all that shit. Why? Because it is a never ending story and it is a long painful trip down the rabbit hole.

Seriosly now, if you ever start a business and you think you need a web page for it, when your business grows it will get more and more expensive to maintain it. And if you hire some consultant company to put it in the cloud, it will feel a lot like this joke:

A young man from Minnesota moves to Florida and goes to a big “everything under one roof” department store looking for a job.

The Manager says, “Do you have any sales experience?”

The kid says “Yeah. I was a salesman back in Minnesota .”

Well, the boss liked the kid and gave him the job.

“You start tomorrow. I’ll come down after we close and see how you did.”

His first day on the job was rough, but he got through it. After the store was locked up, the boss came down.

“How many customers bought something from you today?”

The kid says “One”.

The boss says “Just One? Our sales people average 20 to 30 customers a day. How much was the sale for?”

The kid says “$101, 237.65”.

The boss says “$101,237.65? What the heck did you sell?”

The kid says, “First, I sold him a small fish hook. Then I sold him a medium fishhook. Then I sold him a larger fishhook. Then I sold him a new fishing rod. Then I asked him where he was going fishing and he said down the coast, so I told him he was going to need a boat, so we went down to the boat department and I sold him a twin engine Chris Craft. Then he said he didn’t think his Honda Civic would pull it, so I took him down to the automotive department and sold him that 4×4 Expedition.

” The boss said, “A guy came in here to buy a fish hook and you sold him a BOAT and a TRUCK?”

The kid said “No, the guy came in here to buy tampons for his wife, and I said, ‘Dude, your weekend’s shot, you should go fishing.’ “

After these weeks trying to make sense of why somebody would need all this shit, I totally understand the stay-at-home moms. Because keeping a house and raising kids is hard, but I bet it is more rewarding than this. Because a kid will smile at you and love you even when you are not perfect. But a Kubernetes pod will never fucking work if you messed up a small piece of your configuration.

I really hope one day I will come back to this entry and laugh at myself. But now I feel overwhelmed and bitter and I will stop writing so I can get drunk and cry with my cat in my arms and maybe tomorrow I’ll have enough will power to continue.

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!