Tuesday, July 31

money as debt

Well ... here ... educate yourselves:

as simple as possible

Things should be made as simple as possible, but not any simpler.
Albert Einstein

This is a quote I got through an official email today, as part of someone within the company offering a new facility to the employees. It got me asking myself: Why is this so difficult to get right?

For example, we have two applications for managing code changes: one of them is geared towards managing the files themselves, the other one geared towards managing the process.

That's fine, except one of them is web-based, having all the GUI (validations, window toolkit emulation, and data) implemented in javascript. It doesn't get slower than that, nor heavier on system resources.

It is also overly complex, as it tries to do EVERYTHING, starting with remembering client's contacts information (snail mail addresses, email addresses, phone numbers and what not), client entities (different that what I already mentioned) and contacts' accounts, to cases, sub-cases, solutions to cases (yes, the solutions are different than the cases they're solutions for), change requests (different than cases and solutions) and a bunch of other objects I don't care to mention.

Most entities I work with in this application, have over a dozen tabs, all containing fields I will never read, but still there, just in case (I'm not sure "just in case" of what).

On top of all that, we have an "optimization team" that keeps adding stuff to this application, and we keep seeing stuff we'll never use, appearing in different frames every now and then.

Can anyone say cruft?

As another example, someone came with the bright idea that the XML configuration files, should have a specialized editor (an addin on top of Eclipse), that simply generates a hash-value for the xml and inserts it as a comment. As such, you're stuck with Eclipse just for changing a damn field in an XML file (changing manually misses the hash-value generation), sometimes taking fifteen minutes just to start up (and I mean that literally, measured with a clock in hand), because whoever wrote those addins had no idea how to optimize them.

For heaven's sake people, please follow the KISS principle.

I think I'm done ranting and feel all better now.

Thank you.

Friday, July 27

reasoning failure (out of my mind)

Since I started telling people I'll be going home by bike, everyone I'm close to, has (at one point or another) tried to convince me not to go for it.

I realize that they did this because they got scared, because they care about me and in the beginning, I kept trying to find excuses for wanting this, to justify myself and giving reasons for going. I even let them convince me it was not worth it (the risks were too high, there was no benefit, I would get there faster by plane et caetera, et caetera).

Then, I spoke (quite by chance) with W. and when I'm in her presence, I (for some reason) try to be "honest to myself" (or something like that).

I told her that leaving reasons aside, if anybody asked me, it's actually not even a question if it's worth going. Yes, it's worth it, and more.

Then, I said to myself that the reasons for going (or not going) cannot tell me who I am, so I will do what represents me, leaving all reason aside.

From that point onwards the idea was sold: I would go, and that was that.

Now, I tell myself that, nobody got anywhere (that mattered) by following reason. Reason is a Good ThingTM, but for minimizing the risks, not for taking decisions.

When crossing the road (as a simple example) reason would tell you simply, not to do it (it's dangerous). If, instead you decide first that you will cross that road, then reason dictates simply to look before crossing.

By talking with my close ones, I've heard a lot of reasons not to do this (and here they are, along with some answers, now that I've decided):
  • you must have a plan, you can't go just like that.
  • ...and I have a plan, I'm not going just like that.

  • There's no point in taking stupid risks.
  • They're not stupid, they're calculated; and without risks, there's no adventure. If it weren't so, everybody would speak about their exciting lives in routine, in doing the same thing every day.

  • There's no point in taking unnecessary risks.
  • I'm not. I've decided I will do this, that I will benefit from the experience. From this point onwards, the steps to take are simply necessary to get there. I will still try to minimize the risks though.

  • Why aren't you just taking a plane ride?
  • I did that before, and will do so again. For this holiday I've decided it's not the destination, but the road that mattered.

  • It's not worth it.
  • Worth it for whom? For me, it definitely is, for you, I cannot decide. If it's not worth it for you, feel free not to take any bike rides in the foreseeable future.

  • Are you out of your mind?
  • I sure hope so. Whenever it matters to me, I try to be (but don't always succeed). In fact, of all the decisions I've taken, the best ones have been when I WAS out of my mind: when I left all thought aside and asked myself what really mattered to me, What did I really want?

And now, after taking my decision, I'm reasoning: I'm trying to minimize risks and have some fun.

I'll post some more, as things progress.

My New Hero

Well ... after Steve Jobs and Terra Naomi, I have a new hero, though not quite in the same class: Tom Mabe. His humor is a little dark (ok, completely dark) but he's funny that way:

(G, thanks for the link.)

Tuesday, July 24

from pencil to lighter

This movie shows how to turn a pencil core (graphite) into a temporary source of light (by turning it into a hot resistance):

Turn A PENCIL Into A LIGHT ! - video powered by Metacafe

(taken from here)

Monday, July 23

525 km on the bike (and an evening at a police station)

Yesterday I wanted to check if I would be able to keep my schedule for the trip home.

I had asked D to come with me, but he (and L) wanted to go through the mountains.


In the end, I went with them, all the way up to Trodos (Limassol->Dierona->Sikopetra - I think - Trodos->Trimiklini and back to Limassol).

lake somewhere in Limassol District, Cyprus

We had left at seven in the morning and got back around a quarter to twelve, making 200km, from start to finish.

As I wasn't satisfied with that (my purpose, among other things, was a resistance test) I got home, got something to eat, then mounted my bike again, refilled and took for Larnaca on the old road (B4 I believe).

In Larnaca, I stopped in the harbor to have some rest (and a coffee and two fruit salads) and proceeded arround Ayia Napa, towards Protaras and the small villages I could find on the map, in the general direction of Limassol.

My idea was to play with the GPS unit, learn the coordinates system and how to use it for navigation, see any problems I got through and so on.

From that point of view, the trip was a success.

By five o'clock in the afternoon, I had stopped in between Alampra and Lympia, and started taking pictures of the barbed wire and the "Turkish Occupied Area" signs on a side-road.

That's when "the adventure" started: there was a sign No Pictures Allowed, about one hundred meters down the road (which I had dismissed it as unimportant, since I believe that a sign refers to restrictions applied, starting from the point the sign is at).

As I was putting my camera in my backpack, an old guy stopped his car and started playing 20-Questions-in-Broken-English with me
Why you take photograph? What you photograph?
... and so on.

I tried showing him that I only took photos of the signs, and he took my camera; then, I tried to convince him to turn it off, since he held it powered on. He didn't want to hear about it, with a vehemence close to violence that scared me a bit.

He called some army guys and had them "guard me", then he called the police in Lympia, (for some reason he was very alarmed) then told me to "wait ten minutes" for the police to come and pick me up.

One hour later, as I was just exhausting all subjects of conversation with the two army guys (my trip and itinerary on the map, the GPS unit, military service in Cyprus, Romania and Israel, SCUBA, Cyprus, common words in Romanian and Greek, tourist attractions around the island and, of course, Ceaucescu) two policemen came, from Alampra. One of them told me not to panic and that I will have to go to Lympia on my own, as they couldn't come for me.

In the end, I spent my evening (until eleven PM or so) in the Lympia Police Station, drinking water and coffee, watching TV (an old B&W greek or cypriot comedy, from which I didn't understand a thing) and chatting with the guys there (thanks for the coffee guys :)).

I also saw a guy in jail (He's a good kid) and another one, wearing handcuffs, brought in, and out through the back.

Anyway, after a short discussion (mainly giving them my details and them photocopying my documents) I got home exhausted, around twelve o'clock, drank some watter and got to sleep.

In conclusion, I have learned what I wanted to learn:
  • first and foremost, yes, I will be able to cover the ground as I proposed myself
  • I will need lots of water with me, a few dry sweets for the breaks and a few cans of pre-brewed coffee (as a bare minimum)
  • I should make lots of breaks (80km with no break is a bit long and leads to exhaustion)
  • I will need a book or two, for any idle times (on the ferry for example)
  • no pictures anywhere near "no photography allowed" signs

Music and Life

After a discourse by Alan Watts:

Friday, July 20

I Simpsonized myself

An old Chinese saying is as such:
When people have too much time on their hands, they usually Simpsonize themselves.

( Actually, no, that's not an old Chinese saying :) )

Either Way ... I found the SimpsonizeMe website on photojojo and went and Simpsonized myself.

me, Simpsonized :)

Thursday, July 19

geenie in a bottle

Oo ... Oo ... Oo ...
I'm a geenie in a bottle ...

In an empty water bottle to be more precise.

Menthos + Carlsberg

This story has a really good moral.

Common Bond

I went with S. yesterday to the open air concert of Common Bond, a jazz band from Israel.

Their music is impressive.
Voice and Keyboard - Common Bond

Guitar-Common Bond

Sax (and others) player - Common Bond

Drummer for Common Bond

I had some pictures of the other band members but they're ... substandard :(

Wednesday, July 18

emotional manipulators

I found an article on emotional manipulators. After reading three lines through it, I came to a new perspective on my relationship with someone in my family.

It's ... insightful.

checklist and itinerary for bike trip ...

... here. I'm still completing it as I go, but the itinerary (third sheet) is plausible at the moment.

Edit: here is a map of my itinerary.

Tuesday, July 17

breaking news

wondering no longer: war with Iran

A few days ago I was posting that I wondered what the largest military power in the world would do in the face of the continuous depreciation of their currency.

I wonder no longer, as I have just found a brief analysis offering an answer that fits like a glove:
With the US the US current accounts deficit approaching $800 billion for 2007 and the dollar continuing to fall against other currencies (for example, a Canadian dollar is worth $0.951 US dollars at this writing), the US cannot afford for international demand for the dollar to fall.

One guaranteed source of demand for dollar denominated assets is the petrodollar system, under which anyone buying oil from an OPEC member must buy it using US dollars.

This creates a guaranteed market for dollars and allows the US to run current accounts deficits (i.e. to import more than it exports every year). In fact, rising oil prices allow the US to run larger deficits, since oil importing countries must spend more on the oil they buy.

Into this milieu, Iran is escalating its dollar counter-hegemony by reducing its dollar reserves and asking Japanese buyers to start paying for its oil in yen instead of dollars.

The answer is obvious: err ... fight the terrorists of Iran! I mean ... spreading democracy in Iran?
err ... remove their weapons of mass destruction?

Well ... whatever the excuse of the day is, it amounts to the current movement in the US for attacking Iran.

I said it before: it's not personal, it's economical!

new favorite word

My previously favorite word no longer counts. My new favorite word is Cruft. Here's the best possible description, as seen in a comment on /.:
Cruftiness is the quality of having cruft. Cruft is the stuff that accumulates on code over time. Cruft has no odor, but it stinks. Cruft has no mass, but it weighs the code down. Cruft can't be seen, but it's ugly. Cruft cannot be young, it's always old. Cruft can't be deliberately added, it only appears when you're not looking. Cruft can't be explained to managers, except through awkward car analogies. They still won't get it because managers drive well-maintained elegant foreign cars like BMW's, which gather no cruft. Programmers understand, because their Fords and Chevys are practically built of cruft. Harley motorcycles should have cruft, but noise dissipates cruft. Cruft is mysterious.

Cruft is never present on code which hasn't had enough work. Cruft only appears on code which has been worked too long, by too many people.

(S., thanks for the email).

about the roadtrip

You have no idea what it takes until you start preparing for it. I mean ... I'm sure once I'll be on the road I'll realize (once again) I had no idea what it took.

What am I talking about?
Through the month of September, I'll be going home, by bike. I've written about this before, but now, I started preparations and the more I think about it, the more things I have to do ...

... and it's lots and lots of things, like itinerary, necessities (like dry food, first aid kit, toilet paper, toothbrush), GPS, maps, saddlebags (which I still have to buy) and so on.

Monday, July 16

Did you know? 2.0

A while ago, I wrote that the internet has big chances of becoming a niche market (and I compared it to smoking :) ).

There are strong arguments against it though (not that there weren't when I wrote that) and a good summation of those arguments is in this movie I found on the net:

It's not that I no longer believe what I said before (and the analogy to smoking still stands) but the net is becoming too much ingrained in our way of living to simply go away.

Instead, it could become ubiquitous enough as to be invisible maybe.

By the way, the shifthappens "wikispace" is a website centralizing information about this video and feedback on in by various sources.

Friday, July 13

a cruiser man

This afternoon, me and D switched bikes and went for a short trip to Kurion. It was the first time I rode a Ducati Monster, but it was enough for me to decide I'd rather have a cruiser any day of the week (and twice on Mondays!).

The difference is huge!

Tomasz Bagiński

I was telling D about this guy and his computer animations and I figured that if I took the time to search the net for them, I might as well post a link for them, online:

The Cathedral:

The Rain:

Fallen Art:

The Witcher (trailer):

Edit: A new one (this one's a bit disturbing) - System

Thanks for the link B.

untrusted computing

Frequently Awkward Questions for the Entertaniment Industry

I took this FAQ from here, where it said:
Feel free to republish these and add your own questions, or send additions to us at editor@eff.org.

Ful text (emphasis mine):
The RIAA and MPAA trot out their spokespeople at conferences and public events all over the country, repeating their misleading talking points. Innovators are pirates, fair use is theft, the sky is falling, up is down, and so on. Their rhetoric shouldn't be given a free pass.

To that end, EFF has prepared a sample list of tough questions for times when you hear entertainment industry representatives speaking and want to challenge their positions. Asking hard questions is a way of "keeping honest people honest" and revealing when they're actually being deceptive. Feel free to republish these and add your own questions, or send additions to us at editor@eff.org.

1. The RIAA has sued more than 20,000 music fans for file sharing, yet file sharing continues to rapidly increase both online and offline. When will you stop suing music fans?
2. The RIAA has sued over 20,000 music fans for file sharing, who have on average paid a $3,750 settlement. That's over $75,000,000. Has any money collected from your lawsuits gone to pay actual artists? Where's all that money going?
3. The RIAA has sued over 20,000 music fans for file sharing. Recently, an RIAA representative reportedly suggested that "students drop out of college or go to community college in order to be able to afford [P2P lawsuit] settlements." Do you stand by this advice? Is this really good advice for our children's futures?
4. The RIAA said that it only went after individual file sharers because you couldn't go after P2P system creators. After the Supreme Court's Grokster decision, shouldn't you stop going after music fans?
5. Major entertainment companies have repeatedly brought lawsuits to block new technologies, including the VCR, Digital Audio Tape recorders, the first MP3 player, the ReplayTV PVR, and now P2P software. Why is your industry so hostile to new technologies?
6. DRM has clearly failed[PDF] to stop songs from getting on file sharing networks, but it does prevent me from moving lawfully purchased music onto my iPod and other portable devices. Unlike the major record labels, many popular indie labels offer mp3 downloads through sites like eMusic. Why won't you let fans purchase mp3s as well?
7. The RIAA says that it doesn't mind if I rip CDs to my personal computer and put them on my iPod. Do I need your permission to do this or can I legally do it even if you object?
8. Recording off the radio is clearly permitted by copyright law and something Americans have done for over 25 years, but the RIAA supports legislation restricting devices that record from digital radio. Why are you against TiVo for radio?
9. Sony BMG recently implemented a DRM technology that damaged users' computers. But for independent researchers' analyses, this serious flaw may have gone undiscovered. After this scandal, will record labels allow any computer scientist or security expert to examine these products and agree not to sue them under the DMCA?


1. The major movie studios have been enjoying some of their most profitable years in history over the past five years. Can you cite to any specific studies that prove noncommercial file sharing among fans, as opposed to commercial DVD piracy, has hurt the studios' bottom line in any significant way?
2. Is it legal for me to bypass CSS DVD encryption in order to skip the "unskippable" previews at the beginning of so many DVDs? Why should I have to be forced to watch these ads when I already bought the DVD?
3. Is it legal for me to skip the commercials when I play back time-shifted TV recordings on my TiVo or other PVR? How is this different than getting up and going to the bathroom?
4. Why are there region-code restrictions on DVDs? How does this prevent copyright infringement? Is it illegal for me to buy or and use a region-free DVD player, or to modify a DVD player to be region-free?
5. In several lawsuits, the MPAA has repeatedly said that it's illegal to make a back-up of a DVD that I purchased. Why is this illegal?
6. Is it ever legal for me to use software like DVD Shrink or Handbrake to rip a digital copy of a DVD I own onto a video iPod or my laptop? What if I want clips to use for a class report? Or if a teacher wants to include a clip in a PowerPoint slide?
7. Is there anything illegal about copying TV shows I’ve recorded off the air onto my video iPod?
8. If the MPAA-backed "broadcast flag" bill passes, I won't be able to move recorded TV content digitally to my current video iPod. Why should TV studios get to take away my ability to lawfully time- and space-shift?
9. Major entertainment companies have repeatedly brought lawsuits to block new technologies, including the VCR, Digital Audio Tape recorders, the first MP3 player, the ReplayTV PVR, and now P2P software. Why is your industry so hostile to new technologies?
10. Hollywood is pushing legislation to "plug the analog hole". These restrictions won't keep copyrighted video off of file sharing networks, but they will block me from excerpting a recorded TV show for a school report or using tools like the Slingbox to send recorded TV shows to myself over the Internet. Why are you trying to restrict these legitimate uses?

Wednesday, July 11

the exam

What a day!

I woke up at five o'clock, came to office and went back home, then waited in the sun for half an hour, played on M's motorbike for close to two hours, hit the cones with it, laid the bike down (after hitting the sidewalk border in the middle of a U-turn), then took a break to cool down, had some water, then I took my motorbike exam, and passed ...

... and the day is still young.

on a roll! :-)

Tuesday, July 10

Linux not in dictionary (but we actually know what it is)

Linux not  in dictionary
I found this on flickr.

Flickr comment:

Suggested corrections: Windows?! WTF?

This was found in Adobe InDesign CS3 on Mac OS X while spell checking my resume

apparently the US start to hit bottom

this site describes how the US was refused an 8 billion dollars loan from the international financial market.

Considering a continuous inflation that accelerates every year in the US, the international financial marked was bound to vote with their wallets against the US sooner or later, but I have to wonder: if this continues, what will be the reaction of the largest military power in the world, when faced with rising economical crisis?

This takes on an even more interesting meaning, if we look at the fact that they've been at war for a few years already for what starts to be more and more evident as economical reasons.

I just hope I'm wrong in my assumptions, but this is not the first sign of problems and it will definitely not be the last.

Monday, July 9


Camera: NIKON D50
Timestamp: Fri Jul 6 15:17:20 2007
Shutter: 1/1000 s
Aperture: F1.8
ISO speed: 1600
Focal length: 50.0 mm
Focal length in 35mm equivalent: 75.0 mm
Lens: 50mm F1.8

EXIF data read by Exiv2 0.12
Postprocessing with the Gimp

this weekend

We went to the camping in Polis this weekend. I didn't take many photos, and from the ones I took most are ... substandard, but here's a few of them:

late Saturday, in Polis Camping, Cyprus
Camera: NIKON D50
Timestamp: Sat Jul 07 22:13:05 2007
Shutter: 30 s
Aperture: F11
ISO speed: 200
Focal length: 18.0 mm
Focal length in 35mm equivalent: 27.0 mm
Lens: 18-55mm F3.5-5.6

EXIF data read by Exiv2 0.13

S & C
Camera: NIKON D50
Timestamp: Sat Jul 07 17:58:27 2007
Shutter: 1/160 s
Aperture: F5.6
ISO speed: 800
Focal length: 50.0 mm
Focal length in 35mm equivalent: 75.0 mm
Lens: 50mm F1.8

EXIF data read by Exiv2 0.13

less and less to say

There is a trend I noticed in my ... "need to say things", as far as my blog is concerned: As time goes on, I have less and less things to say.

At first, I was posting things every day, then every other day, then I started posting things about others: links on the net, pictures I took (sometimes I just posted pictures as a replacement for having something to say), then not even those.

Its not that I've gotten dumber (that's highly debatable, but if I have, I can't figure it out by myself, so the argument is somewhat moot); maybe, I've said all I had to say and that's that.

This is a trend I've seen with other bloggers too: at first, they post a few times a day (and its interesting posts ... insightful, or funny, or ... you name it!), then more and more seldom ... and then they get dull.

Maybe it's the mind, always spinning in the same circles ... maybe it's the fact that when you search for interesting people, most people trying to be interesting succeed at it for around 15 minutes, then their "bag of tricks" is exhausted.

People that keep at being interesting on and on, are a rare find; with them, it's not that they try for it - instead it's just the way they are.

Maybe I've "gotten uninteresting" myself; I know there was a time when I was trying really hard to be interesting on my blog and it got me nowhere, really fast :).

Maybe I am just getting over blogging.

I don't know ... all I do know is I have less and less things to say, but that's OK as it is.

Friday, July 6

pretty good picture

Do you want to know what is happening around the world at this moment?

Well ... flickrvision is showing you the last posted pictures from around the world ... its not really instantaneous, as the posting people still process those pictures and upload them, but the feeling of continuum is there.

Wednesday, July 4

How we confuse symbols and things

This is the most comprehensible explanation of the purpose of science, consumerism, marriage, government, religion and a bunch of other things, that I have ever read.

It reminded me of reading Stephen Hawking, of Feynman's interview, and of why I like to understand things so much (I had completely forgotten about that).

Tuesday, July 3


.ʎuunɟ ǝq ʇɥbıɯ ʇı ʇɥbnoɥʇ ı .ʇxǝʇ ɐ ɹǝʌuı ʎ1ǝʇǝ1dɯoɔ oʇ noʎ sʍo11ɐ ʇɐɥʇ ǝʇısqǝʍ ɐ punoɟ ı 'ʇıppǝɹ uo

How much is my dead body worth

$4675.00The Cadaver Calculator - Find out how much your body is worth

Mingle2 - Online Dating

Biking Home - Ararat: three mountains, one sea project

Robert Magier, a colleague of mine went home, from Cyprus to Poland, on his Honda CB400.

From the website:
During this trip I am going to see Cappadocia in central Turkey, mount Ararat on the far east of Turkey and Istambul. I also want to swim in all three seas which are on my way: Mediterranean,Black and Baltic Sea. My plans are to spend one week in Turkey and spend one week travelling to Poland where I am going to meet my friends and family and ofcourse swim in Baltic sea. Then I will go back to Cyprus. Hopefully everything will go fine and will return safely, but I don't excpect that everything will goes according to my plans;) This is never like that...and this is what makes adventure interesting;)

After seeing his trip and sending him an email (Thanks for answering, Robert), it's something I started seriously considering for myself, through the month of September.

I'll see how things go, before deciding one way or the other.

Monday, July 2

Visual Browsing taken up a notch: Photosynth

The Photosynth demo at TEDTalks took photos of Notre Damme Cathedral in Paris and generated a digital, 3D, visually browsable model.

Impressive, to say the least!