Friday, 27 February 2009

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21. Under the UK’s Tax Avoidance Schemes Regulations 2006, it is illegal not to tell the taxman anything you don’t want him to know, though you don’t have to tell him anything you don’t mind him knowing.

The World’s Strangest Laws - by Times Online

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

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You know… there’s a phrase almost impossible to translate from Russian which aptly describes the way we deal with an iPhone: hedgehogs cried and pricked themselves but kept chewing the cactus.

Sunday, 22 February 2009

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Had an absolutely lovely walk yesterdain in Hampstead Heath - surprisingly, it was like a bit of a summer in February - wonderful weather, blue skies and lots, lots, LOTS of people :)

Thursday, 19 February 2009

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London, tonight

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Another idea for geolocation-related service. C’mon, I give it out for free!



  1. Using GPS-enabled communication device, defining zones - “Home”, “Work”, “Parents”, “Tesco over the corner”

  2. Assigning each zone some tasks:

    • “Home” -> “Pay the bill from nPower”

    • “Work” -> “Talk to boss about holidays”

    • “Parents” -> “Ask if they’ll take our cat for two weeks”

    • “Tesco” -> “No sugar at home! How can I drink coffee now?”



  3. Well… start walking! As soon as you get into one of the zones, your GPS enabled device will blow up with a burst of reminders.


Few issues though, one of them - constant checking of GPS location may be too battery-consuming. Possible workaround - do a geolocation of several levels:



  1. Most rough - GSM-based positioning

  2. If we understand, that we’re somewhere in the area of one of the zones - try to use wi-fi geolocation

  3. If we’re really close to the zone - do a beep

  4. If wi-fi positioning isn’t available - use (A-)GPS.


This way it may save awful amount of battery power while still providing good positioning.


Anyone up for doing such thingie? :-)

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

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Really surprised - just received a call from a very polite gentlemen who works for eBay, who told me (excluding all our mutual bows and scrapes) that they’re unhappy with the fact that I’m unhappy with my last transaction (I bought Nokia N800 for Natalie, and it didn’t have stylus so I left negative feedback to seller) and in order to make me a little bit happier they’d like to know, whether I’ll accept a £20 voucher which I can spend on eBay. Wicked!


(if you think that I told “No-no, I don’t need your voucher, I’m already happy enough” - then think again).

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Very amused by recently received “Watching the English” by Kate Fox. Ah yes I do understand that I’ll never reach that level of exposure into English culture and language and habits (bad habits included) that people will starting thinking I’m English - but that wasn’t a purpose anyway. What makes me think this is a good book is that now I finally start to understand many things which made me “rather confused” when I initially came here; certain things which I thought were weird now seem plainly English to me.




I absolutely, totally, utterly loved the chapter on English way of introducing yourself, making small talk and saying goodbye - it was so hilarious, that I laughed out loud in the train and on the station and on the train again, not being able to stop reading this damn book - I laughed not only because of the book itself, but when I started to recognize certain things I’ve seen English people do (and the way they do it).


And yes, even though I’m still reading it, I can say with no hesitations, that this is one of the most useful books I ever read, inclusive of my ABC book. Get it. Read it. It worth it.

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

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On the question of optimism

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It’s sad but true - 95% of questions at Yahoo! Answers are based upon the fact that people can’t or don’t want to use search. Virtually every question can be answered by typing it’s title into Google’s search box (OK, I’m not talking about questions like ‘Wanna hack into one dude’s comp whatz program can I download?’). It’s very confusing that people don’t even try to find answers by themselves, instead just increasing Universe’s entropy by posting idiotically worded questions to this website.


Although, I want to admit, that couple of times I did ask the questions, and received very reasonable answers - but it mostly has to do with ‘share you experience’, not ‘tell me how’ situations.

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Probably it’s a first time since I’ve left my university when I’m looking to something math-related (in this case - classification algorithm) and understand, that my knowledge of math is clearly not enough. Feels very strange and awkward.

Monday, 16 February 2009

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I totally love chaps from g2recruitment(dot)com - sorry don’t want to put a link on them. Once, very long ago, I was looking for job and I was stupid enough to send my CV to them. Bah - that was a major fuck-up on my side.


Since then, every day they are sending me email with various positions, 99% of them are absolutely, totally irrelevant to what my CV says (I bet they didn’t read it and just done some automated keyword matching). Best of all things is - in order to unsubscribe of this spam, I should login to their system and unsubscribe manually, and since I forgot my password, I cannot do it - because password recovery simply doesn’t work; idiots managers answer about 1/10th of my “UNSUBSCRIBE!!!” emails stating that they can’t really do anything with it.


What a crap they are! I hope I’d never search for new job with this guys :)

Britain capitulates to terror

http://www.spectator.co.uk/melaniephillips/3344161/britain-capitulates-to-terror.thtml

Very nice article indeed as a set of other articles in Times - regarding Geerd Wilders and his film Fitna. Am I still in Britain?

Sunday, 15 February 2009

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After reading this week’s Economist an only thing I really want to do, is to give myself a promise: “I shall never read any finance-related newspapers, magazines and internet sites, shall never listen to economy-related podcasts, and shall switch off my TV when the head on the screen speaks the word ‘crisis’”. Seriously, it’s so doom and glum that I don’t understand anymore what’s a point in living on Earth?


Shall I give this promise now? Or shall I wait until next Friday?

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Still thinking about the education, MSc and all that kind of stuff. On one hand, I’d really love to go and obtain a degree not only because of degree itself, but to put all what I know into some form of system before it gets too late (and I finally forget everything I studied for almost 6 years). On the other hand, not much courses I’ve seen are of real interest for me (do they really think they can tell me something about database design? or about “C++ and object-oriented programming”? then I can only recommend them to go and think again).


For sure you haven’t seen many people with three or more hands, but in this particular case, on the third hand if I’m allowed to say that, is the price of this education - Natalie’s studying now, although her employeer pays 50% of her education fees. Ah, forgot to mention - for overseas students fees are normally 4 to 6 times higher (and I am just that - overseas student for chaps at unis). which doesn’t help at all. For example, the one I’m really interested in is £7764 p.a. - and it’s not the cheapest one.


Finally, on the “fourth hand” (OK, let’s admit I’ve created a four-handed monster here), if my dear employeer agrees to pay for me (hypothetically) it practically binds me and grounds at where I work for next couple of years. Not saying that it’s bad (I can’t be fired in this case either), but should something go very wrong… (but they won’t pay anyway, so nothing to worry about).

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Don’t really know, where did this photograph appear from, although I believe it might be Winchester.


(did I ever realised, that any blog of mine soon turns into photoblog regardless of whether I want it or not?)

Friday, 13 February 2009

Thursday, 12 February 2009

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Recently I’ve realised how much am I obsessed with LaTeX - while it’s not that easy to use as, say, editing TWiki, it has it’s own benefits:



  1. Most important - you can edit everything in your favorite editor, and not on the web page. It means a lot to me :)

  2. Second thing, which arguably may be more important than the first one - you can check in LaTeX source file to CVS, SVN or whatsoever. So, when you see some code which is 5 years old, and it is totally impossible to find the twiki page which descibes how it works - ./doc directory is likely to be there, as well as ./src - which makes life significantly easier

  3. And finally, it just looks good. I mean, you don’t do anything to make it look good and readable just because this is the way it works, you don’t need to mix up text and HTML, you just convert it to PDF and you can read it.


Of course, you can’t use LaTeX for everything, as for rapidly changing documents, discussions and stuff like that Twiki is certainly way to go, although for something which you write once and it won’t be changed until next major refactoring of the functionality (such as - description of the algorithm, mathematical model underneath it, etc) - there couldn’t be better solution, I guess.

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

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I like the way I can edit websites in Apple’s iWeb, forgetting, that HTML, CSS and JavaScript exist. I totally, utterly dislike the mess it generates, making it completely impossible to edit the website not in the iWeb.

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Was pleasantly surprised with Guardian’s Technology podcast - 34 minutes talk on Apple History, and yes, Woz also was there! Funny thing - he did sound clearly annoyed when people were singing hosanna to Mr. Job - don’t think he likes him…


But, podcast is worthwhile nevertheless - good listening for your Tube journey.

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

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It’s good to be home - long day, lots of work, emails, this and that, nice swimming tonight, a pint of beer afterwards, an A4 photograph with my friends had come from Photobox, what else do I need to be happy? :-)

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Typical street in Kensignton

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OK, now testing Tumblr2Twitter integration. I assume it’ll work as well!

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…yet, Tumbleweed is very good :-) So what about Twitter integration then?

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Good thing about Tumblr is that it’s soo damn simple, you don’t need any client at all for (apart, maybe, a mobile client - say, for an iPhone). Anyway, for me there’s no much effort to click a bookmark, type in the text and press “Create post”. Love the way it works, indeed.

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Very surprising to see, how many photographers are over-obsessed with their gear - cameras, lenses, flashes, tripods, filters, this and that … each time I think about it I remember about Henri Cartier-Bresson, who is known to shoot with one camera and one lens (OK, sometimes he used 35mm for landscapes - but that’s it, really!) - and look what had he done!


I understand, to achieve magazine quality, to shoot sport events, to produce a double-page spread in National Geographic - probably, you need very decent lens and camera, but having 50 kg of photo gear, three 1Ds bodies and lots of lens’ with a red stripe on it - it won’t make masterpieces out of your photos anyway, will it?

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I’m honoured to shake the hand of a brave Iraqi citizen who had his hand cut off by Saddam Hussein

George W Bush, Top 20 gaffes by GWB

Monday, 9 February 2009

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In recent days they have been out soliciting “donations” from corporate Zimbabwe and have drawn up a wish list that is scarcely credible in a land where seven million citizens survive on international food aid, 94 per cent are jobless and cholera rampages through a population debilitated by hunger.

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/africa/article5697712.ece

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How extremely surprising to see people on these Web 2.0 social networks, who you haven’t seen for ages, literally - haven’t heard anything at all for last 5-6 years (which, being a quarter of my age so far, seems very impressive to me). Found my pre-pre-pre-previous boss, I thought that company is null and void long ago - but looks like it’s not, and they are doing pretty well.


I didn’t include this company into my CV anyway, as being just a Jnr C++ developer doesn’t look good… but damn, all of started with something small, didn’t we? So I might reconsider :)

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This is just amazing how much information about the world one can extract from social websites simply analysing purely anonymous data. Hint: most social websites have this or another form of API. Hint 2: most websites don’t complain if you want to extract some tags, categories, location-related data, etc, etc. Hint 3: combining this information can give you excellent coverage.

Sunday, 8 February 2009

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Reporter: “Mr. Gandhi, what do you think of Western civilization?”
Gandhi: “I think it would be a very good idea.

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It looks like soon I’ll start another customize-me spree - now with this Tumblr blog.

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Just realised that Tumblr is pretty much what I need (considering that they do custom domains… mmmm!)