On The Newtown Tragedy

This is the worst of the worst that could have happen. An adult goes out and simply kills young children in cold blood. This guy is monster, it’s clear. But the reasons why it’s happening in the USA are a lot deeper than one may think. We live in the over-developed society, but lots of people are not ready to live their lives in such a stressful society as the USA. Lots of people become mentally unstable. Lots of people start taking antidepressants at the young age. The Pharmaceutical companies are pushing people to be on drugs. Missing a pill can turn some people into psychos.

The USA is a free and liberal country and they don’t lock people in the psychiatric institutions unless they present clear and obvious danger to the society. But many of such not so obviously crazy people live among us, while they should be living in some kind of closed communities under surveillance of the professional medical doctors.

Of course, the first reaction of many people is that the assault weapon should be banned. OK, if no semi-automatic guns would be allowed this guy would have killed not 20, but 5 children. Is this our goal? I don’t see it this way. Don’t blame the knife if you cut your fingers. The goal is to identify unstable people and limit their chances to kill. I’m not qualified to judge is this gunman belonged to a mental institution, but at least as soon as he showed some signs of abnormality, his relatives should have been forced to surrender their legally purchased weapon. This cold blooded killer would not have a chance to use the guns purchased by his mother.

Any prescription of the anti-depressant drugs has to be reported to the police, which should trigger an investigation of the patient’s surroundings. If a person is diagnosed with any form of autism his relatives can’t have any weapons.

We started seeing such tragedies way too often. The Malcolm Gladwell’s book “The Tipping Point” explains the laws of the society that can lead to the epidemics as soon as certain little things reach a tipping point. I believe if the situation with treating unstable people won’t change, we’ll see massacre epidemics here in the USA.

My heart goes out to all the relatives of all Newton’s victims, but first – to the parents of these little innocent children. Their parents are not dead, but they are not alive either.


Bought a new phone

My new phone has arrived. I decided to buy it after the hurricane Sandy hit our area. My cell phone didn’t work. My landline phone wouldn’t operate without the electrical power, which we didn’t have. In software architecture we have a term: a single point of failure. A pre-requisite to have the power line to operate a phone is an overkill. And now this beauty has arrived. It doesn’t need the power line: one wire goes into the phone jack and this is it.

In software I love the KISS principle: Keep It Simple Stupid. My new phone was designed just like that. The dial tone is loud and has no static noise. I’ll tell you more: it even has a lighted keypad. It’s cheaper than iPhone and doesn’t require a two year contract. Can’t go wrong for $9.99.

Ladies and Gentlemen, please welcome, the AT&T Trimline Telephone:

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The evolution of a flashlight

When I was a kid we didn’t have iPhones. As a matter of fact we didn’t even have Internet. But we did have cool gadgets too. One of the coolest things for boys was a three-color flashlight. It was in a metal rectangular body with three sliders to select a color. It looked like this:


What could be better than this flashlight? Ok, those ballpens with girls that would undress when you turn the pen upside down were probably cooler than those flashlights. But could you imagine flashlights with advertisements? I have a pretty useful application on my iPhone. It’s called Flashlight and it is a flashlight.It emits pretty bright beam of light, which is pretty handy during the hurricane Sandy or if you need to find that ballpen with a naked girl in the middle of the night. This application was free. Being a software developer myself I understand that you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to write such an application. But you do have to think out of the box to come up with this idea to turn the camera’s flash into a flashlight.

Today I noticed that my flashlight have changed. Now it not only emits the light, but shows an advertisement too.

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I understand that software developers need to make money, but do the authors of this program believe that if I wake up in the middle of the night to pee, I’ll be walking to the bathroom reading about Daily Hot Deals? Well, the world is changing, and the flashlights are evolving too. Can’t stop it.

Android is in deep…sleep

Three days ago I was dining with friends at a restaurant. One lady picked a large device from her purse and bragged that this nice looking thingy is a spare battery from her Android phone. This put a smile on my face as I can’t visualize a women who walks with an extra battery for her iPhone. Google’s devices are nice, but the Apple one are just a little better. And this is what matters – to be JUST A LITTLE BIT BETTER.

I also have a Google device. One. It’s the Nexus 7 tablet. I bought it this Summer and used for about 50 hours total since then. I like it, but don’t love it. I can do everything with my iPhone that I can do with my Nexus 7, but iPhone is just a little bit better. No, I’m not one of these Apple fanboys who don’t want to see a device unless it has Apple logo on them. I bought Android device, right? I gave it a chance. I keep it on the kitchen table to read the news over breakfast.

Two months ago my Nexus wouldn’t start. The screen remained pitch black. After short googling I found an advice: press and hold the power button for 30 seconds, and it’ll start. As they said, sometimes Android devices “go to deep sleep”. Anyway, it worked, yay!

Today, I needed a screenshot from the Android device for the book chapter I’m working on now. The Nexus tablet was plugged into the power outlet for the last 24 hours. It wouldn’t start. My 30-sec trick didn’t help either. Then I hold it for 45 sec. Plugged in and plugged out. Nothing. Nada.

Called Google support. Need to admit – they picked up the phone pretty fast, the guy was polite and helpful. I told him that I already pressed the button. He suggested to press all three buttons that exist on the device: the power and two volume buttons. This put some static white dashes on the screen. After several similar attempts we were able to bring a menu for hard reset. The Google guy warned me that I’ll lose all the data that might have been saved on Nexus. I agreed. It didn’t help. The devices couldn’t be revived. This time it was not in deep sleep, but rather in coma.Google will send me a new device and the UPS shipping labels for my defected one – should arrive in a week.

What do I feel? Peace of mind. I’m not angry with Google. They tried to help. But there is not much they could do other then pressing these stupid buttons. I’d be a little bit more happier if the’d send me a replacement quicker. But hey, then they’d be as good as Apple, which they’re not. Remember, all it takes is just to be a little bit better than others. That’s all. But I like Google. I respect Google developers, and I like the way this case was handled by Google support.

BTW, one of my New Year’s resolutions is to start going to the bathroom without holding any electronic device in my hands. Do you think I can do it? I doubt it. Can you?

Time Synchronization in Layman’s Terms

This morning I was preparing a breakfast for myself, and blogging was not in my plans. But as the saying goes, “If you want to make God laugh tell him about your plans”.

The time difference in internal clocks between the client and the remote server computer is a well known issue that software developers have to deal with in the real-time applications.

Consider traders placing orders to purchase stocks or currencies. The number of transactions per second is huge and the prices are rapidly changing. If a trader placed an order to buy 100 shares of MSFT at 10:25:33AM this doesn’t mean that the server will mark this transaction with exactly the same time. I’m not even talking about network congestions and latency issues. The issue can be caused by a simple reason – the clocks in the client and server computers are off by a second or two. Some time ago we had to send a special ping on the protocol level to calculate the difference in times.

Why do I write about it on Sunday morning when stock exchanges are closed? I was boiling eggs for breakfast. My wife always compliments me on how can I always guess the time needed to prepare soft boiled eggs. The secret is simple – just keep the eggs boiling for 5 minutes. That’s all there is to it.

When I dropped the eggs into the boiling water the microwave clock showed 9:53AM. Then I started working on my notebook, and when I checked the time again it was 9:57AM. Strange. It feels a little too soon. Time flies. But then I realized that it was my notebook clock that showed me 9:57AM, while the microwave displayed 9:55AM. The time synchronization issue in action!

The lesson learned: when you boil eggs check the time using the same clock to avoid time synchronization issues and overcooking eggs. This will make your spouse happy too. Enjoy the rest of your Sunday!

Pants On? Then Post it!

This is one of the topics that I keep coming back to over and over again. It’s about how young kids ruin their careers by posting something stupid online. These days employers routinely make quick Google searches by the job applicant’s name and in many cases quietly throw their resumes in the shredder. They won’t write them back explaining why they did it, and they don’t have to after seeing your drunk smily face with your pants down.

Since the young generation has difficulties reading anything longer than 140 characters, the number of ways to pass the message across is limited. Using infographic might work with your teenager of the undergrad student. I’d like to bring your attention to the nice infographic titled “Should I post this?” If you don’t like reading, just go straight to the picture.

Enlarge this diagram and post it on your teen’s wall.

Think out of the box

Just came back from a dinner with my business partners hosted by Anatole. When the dinner was almost over he said, “Man, I forgot to put the red caviar on the table”. Red caviar is also known as salmon roe.

I said, “OK, let’s get some, but we need bread and butter”. After that I went on talking about that good tasting Amish butter I’ve enjoyed last month in Pennsylvania. Anatole replied, “It’s easy, I’ll make you a good butter in two minutes.” Then he poured some heavy cream in a cup and turned on the blender.

Two minutes later we’ve enjoyed the butter better than the one I bought at the Amish market.

I always knew that Anatole thinks out of the box, but not to this extent!

96% Off

I just received this deal by email: 96% Off online forex trading course.

Not that I’m planning to take this course but it got me thinking.  There can be just two reasons for offering something at 4% of its price :

1. This thing was initially way overpriced and can be considered a scam. Do I want to deal with a scam company? No.

2. This thing was expensive to create, hence the list price was high, but people didn’t want to buy it. Now they want to get me on the hook offering it at a fraction of a cost to get me later on some hidden charges that I don’t know about. For example, after completing this course I will realize that unless I’ll purchase three more courses at full price the gained knowledge is pretty much useless.

The bottom line: don’t buy things just because they’re cheap. Buy them only if you really need them. There is not free lunch (still), and there is no such thing as a lunch that costs 4% of its real value either.

Outstanding starts at seven

My car’s manufacturer sent me a survey after I paid them a visit to service my vehicle. The service was good, they did what I’ve asked for. End of story. Nothing out of the ordinary. Nothing bad either.  Now take a look at this part of the survey:

Well, the service was good. It was not outstanding though. Does six mean Good now? Digits also depreciate over time?

-Evaluate your skills in Java programming on the scale of 1 to 10.
-Wow, your Java knowledge must be outstanding! Unfortunately, you’re overqualified for our job opening.

Have you ever watched the CBS’s series “How I met your mother”?  Remember the phrase “I sleep with sixes?”  Did he sleep with almost outstanding women?

I’m not going to finish this survey until the vendor of my car will fix this.