Saturday, 4 September 2010

On ushankas, balalaikas and international ignorance

You know, when I first left my motherland, it struck me how much people's ideas about Russia are ruled by Hollywood stereotypes (bears in ushankas drinking vodka on a Red Square accompanying themselves with balalaikas and garmoshkas — did I miss anything?). Bit later I realised this isn't only Hollywood — e.g. episode 6, Skins, first season when they go to some god-forgotten Moldavian village and declare it to be a "real Russia". Now I'll briefly go through this episode to smash all the high hopes of directors:

  1. Unless these guys has landed in a military airport (and I highly doubt that), they wouldn't be warmly meet by soldiers with AK-47s (which are not in use anymore, well, except maybe in Moldova)

  2. Airport security guards tend not to wear a full set of "Red Banner" orders (which were mostly given during Second World War, and usually for something truly exceptional; and yes, it's exclusively military).

  3. A "Motherland calls" banner which was hugely popular, right, in 1941-1945, is ... let's say – not that much in use anymore. For the last 50 years, that is.

  4. Soldiers are wearing a mixture of 40s and 00s uniform.

  5. The old GAZ truck they've been driven in, hasn't been in use for at least 30 years. I'm actually quite surprised they found a working one, that alone is an achievement!

  6. ... the list can go on and on and on and on without even touching our favorite stereotypes (ushankas-vodka-pretty girls with long hair ... wait, leave the last one, right. For a change, that's mostly true).

  7. And for fucks sake, it's fucking Moldova, not Russia! (that may actually explain quite a few things – there's a war there, you know...)


So did we finish with Skins? Can go on with my rant? No, not really.

One thing I started realizing mostly recently is that any people tend to be ignorant about any foreign culture. As I live in London, people often ask me questions about Britain. Now forgive me if I won't list them here — being not natively British, I don't feel like I have a right to exercise my wit and pretend to be humorous about it. No, it's funny, really, just not in that way (and even less will I pin-point where were most of these people who did ask me these questions, however mostly they had very funny accent).

Is it good? Is it bad? Well, that's the way it is. No morals here, make your own conclusions and I'll go back to my Skins (stop laughing I told you!!) and to my Zürich-London flight, which due in ... oh my, less than an hour! I think I should be moving now!

Sunday, 22 August 2010

"Ah, this is so un-Agile" or Agile People Still Don't Get It

Early in the development cycle, it’s perfectly acceptable to go for a policy of "zero bugs" and "100% tests". But as the deadline looms, these choices need to be reconsidered all the time and evaluated while keeping a close eye of the final goal. Very often, Agilists simply forget that their job is to produce software that satisfies customers, not software that meets some golden software engineering scale.

Worthy article written by someone who understands stuff. Read it.

Friday, 25 June 2010

Java Forever

...from creators of Javatar and .NOT...


— Mom? I have a confession to make. I use Java.
— What the hell are you talking about?
— I want to use a programming language which doesn't only run in Windows.

My, this is so full of win!


— Hey, what are you guys up to?
— We are just enjoying some porn...
— Hope you're not doing Java and open-source!

Watch it. Now. Try not to laugh to loud (I failed that quest). It's hilarious and simply brilliant.




P.S. it features Scala Johansson, William Windows and a new start Lenny Linux!

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Remote madness

Tried to assist my sister with filling in an online payment form to her summer college in London. I couldn't make TeamViewer (which is great by all means) to work on my laptop (it just keeps failing and closing), so I had to make an SSH tunnel to my home iMac via my NAS, forward VNC ports so I can connect to it, start TeamViewer on it and actually assist my blond sister. That was gross.

Monday, 3 May 2010

Bodean's BBQ: treating your customers fairly

2031641038_59d5911d62_o.jpg


One thing about dealing with clients, who pay you money and you give them something back instead — is that disasters happen. They really do, and this is a sort of a natural law to me — if they didn't, the whole concept of customer service could become an abstract. But how would you deal with the disasters — this, in my opinion, pretty much defines the way company treats customers in general.


Today we had a table booked at Bodean's BBQ at Westbourne Grove for 8PM. When I came there 5 minutes early, I was warmly greeted by firmly closed door and a hand-written note, that due to a power failure, the restaurant is closed, the closest one is in Soho, sorry so much for any inconvenience caused. Draw me surprised. Draw me astounded.


Next thing I, righteously infuriated, called an only number which seemed to answer — Bodean's at Soho. After I finished complaining about my ruined evening, a person who picked up the phone asked me to wait as she'll ask her manager. Next thing happened — a manager, someone Glen, was talking to me.


First thing, he apologised. Then he listened for my rant again. After that he did what surprised me so much that I am writing this post: he suggested to book me a table at Soho branch and pay for a cab from Westbourne Grove to Poland st.


Draw me amazed. Draw me astonished. I have never seen anything like that.


Food was excellent. Service was on a par. Table was — indeed, the best table in seriously overcrowded restaurant. Now, that is how every restaurant should treat their clients — and not only a restaurant. That is an admirable example of conducting a business. That is the way to make sure, that every damn friend of mine will find out about this fact and should opportunity arise, will be dragged into this restaurant, just to show that this is for real. I applaud to you, Glen. This was a fantastic evening, and you have saved it in every possible way.

Monday, 19 April 2010

Google Fast Flip — have you seen it?

Screen shot 2010-04-19 at 16.25.03.png


I didn't — and now it occurs to me it's a nice way of browsing through news. Granted, it isn't the most productive way if you need to find what's going on in the world — quickly, but can certainly be used to kill some of that invaluable resource we all love to waste so much :)


Screen shot 2010-04-19 at 16.25.27.png

apt-get install wife

201004191614.jpg


Shamelessly stolen from here.

How to answer a question, without actually answering it

An absolutely brilliant bit which I came across on T-Mobile's website:



Can I use the internet on my phone or mobile broadband in Europe without buying a Booster?



We have boosters to buy so that you'll always know exactly how much you've spent and know that you won't get any unexpected bills. Using the internet on your phone or mobile broadband in Europe without a booster would previously have been charged at £1.50 per MB, so 50MB would have cost you £75. With a booster a 50MB allowance is only £10 so you're getting much better value with boosters. You can buy as many boosters as you want and the cost of it will come out of your balance or added to your monthly bill but you'll know exactly what you're paying.



To me it looks absolutely beautiful. Fine, maybe this is the way it's being done in England and English people are used to it — then please forgive a clumsy foreigner, but something tells me this has got very little to do with English customs and traditions :)


On the other hand, I cannot praise enough very fair international data tariffs — £10 for 50MB is nothing to worry about, really. Unfortunately, it only works as long as you stay in Europe — but it is still way better I could've expect while being locked in with an O2.

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Easiest way to login to your home Mac

Well, there're few prerequisites to this method:



  1. You should have a DMZ'ed (or accessible from outside world in some way) server running in your home network which you can SSH into.


  2. Your home Mac should be on (you can use etherwake command from within your network to wake it up first).


As long as these two criteria are met, you simply do:




laptop:~ kirillov$ ssh -p19322 -L59000:imac:5900 user@home.selfip.org -fN


The bit



-p19322



you need only if you're running your SSH daemon on a non-standard port (or your forwarding is set from a non-standard port); either way, it is highly recommended. This piece



-L59000:imac:5900



says "I want to forward all requests coming on port 59000 of my localhost to host imac in the target network, port 5900" (which is a default VNC port). Finally,



my_home_username@myhomeserver.selfip.org -fN



is pretty straightforward, "-fN" says "go to background right after asking for login and password if they are needed".


After you've done that, all you need to do it to hit ⌘K in your Finder (or start a dedicated VNC application) and do:


Screen shot 2010-04-06 at 12.14.02.png


After that you're likely to be asked for login and password, which, by coincidence will be login and password from your home Mac. And you're in!


Friday, 2 April 2010

Stephen Fry about iPad

201004020854.jpg


Guess who — and what is this about?



After he leaves, I am finally left alone with an iPad. Finally I get some finger time. I peep under the slip holder, and there it is. When I switch it on, a little sigh escapes me as the screen lights up. Ten minutes later I am rolling on the floor, snarling and biting, trying to wrestle it from the hands of an Apple press representative.



That is not strictly true, but giving up the iPad felt a little like that. I had been prepared for a smooth feel, for a bright screen and the "immersive" experience everyone had promised. I was not prepared, though, for how instant the relationship I formed with the device would be. I left Cupertino without an iPad, but I have since gotten my own, and it goes with me everywhere.



...



It is possible that the public will not fall on the iPad, as I did, like lions on an antelope. Perhaps they will find the apps and the iBooks too expensive. Maybe they will wait for more fully featured later models. But for me, my iPad is like a gun lobbyist's rifle: the only way you will take it from me is to prise it from my cold, dead hands. One melancholy thought occurs as my fingers glide and flow over the surface of this astonishing object: Douglas Adams is not alive to see the closest thing to his Hitchhiker's Guide that humankind has yet devised.



Either Apple has paid Mr Fry a whole lot of money ... or they didn't. It could also have something to do with the fact that he's got an iPad now — before the official launch. Anyway, this is quite an amusing article with a bits of interview with yet another Steve — the one on the cover; worth reading (on of a very few of such kind in Time magazine). Read on.


The iPad Launch: Can Steve Jobs Do It Again?

Friday, 26 March 2010

Rainbow outside

P1010361.jpg


In a hindsight, it appears that it could've been a better idea to take this photograph through the clean window rather than the one close to me. But whatever's done — is done. Too bad it didn't last more than couple of minutes.

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Hadoop's "DistributedFileSystem vs DistributedCache" mystery


try
{
FileSystem dfs = DistributedFileSystem.get(hadoopJobConfiguration);
final FileStatus[] sts = dfs.listStatus(new Path(this.hdfsDirectory));
for ( FileStatus s : sts )
{
if ( s.getPath().toString().endsWith(".jar") )
{
log.info("Jar found: " + s.getPath().toString());
DistributedCache.addFileToClassPath(new Path(s.getPath().toUri().getPath()), hadoopJobConfiguration);
}
}
}
catch (IOException e)
{
throw new MyException("FileSystem exception while caching JAR files: ", e);
}

Hadoop still manages to surprise me every day. Now, it would certainly make sense if I take Path object from DistributedFileSystem and feed it to DistributedCache's addFileToClassPath. It would. But it doesn't work.


In fact, full Path in Hadoop looks like http://hadoop-master-host:9000/path/to/the/file. But if you want to use this path with DistributedCache you need to chop off everything but the path itself, which is /path/to/file in this example. And of course, there's no other way to find out about this but to try (in fact, I only figured it out because I had some hard-coded constants which did work, while nice and clean code didn't).

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Have you ever tried TrailRunner?

No, really, have you seen it at all? I bet you didn't because otherwise you would've tell the world about it — I'm using it for quite a while now, and I can firmly say: this is a program which just works, and makes my life substantially easier.


What is it anyway? Here you go: I think the screenshot is pretty much self-explaining:


TrailRunner screenshot — click for full resolution


As it follows from the name, it's initial purpose was to track GPS trails of your running, but now it could do much more than that. In short words, it allow you:



  1. Plan routes for cycling, running and hiking, drawing it on the map and uploading to a GPS of your choice.


  2. Importing and analysing your records from GPS — so you can view not only the route itself, but also elevation, pace, speed and so on.


  3. Manage your own library of favourite routes, which you can adjust and load to GPS


  4. Show your routes on different background maps, including Google Maps Satellite, Terrain, Streetmaps, and also OpenStreetMaps and Bing Maps (wow!).


  5. Share your routes on EveryTrail.com (which I personally adore) and GPSies.com


  6. And so on, and so forth, so go and check the list yourself at trailrunnerx.com


TrailRunner is donationware, and I most definitely consider donating to author — this is so great, when somebody creates a really useful piece of software which just works.


Wednesday, 17 March 2010

On cycle superhighways and shining wisdom of TfL

Personally, I think that Cycle Superhighways project is bogus — at least in a way it is right at the moment. Why is it? It's simple. Take a look at this photograph:


Screen shot 2010-03-17 at 15.35.16.png


What you think, is there anything wrong with it? Lanes are blue, highly visible and all that stuff — sure it couldn't be any better?


Well, it could. Do you see two buses far ahead? They are going over this lane. This is wrong. They are going over the lane, and this pretty much makes them useless — people who are scared of cycling because of lorries won't cycle if they'll need to share their lanes with buses (and I understand them!). You see, we have these green lanes now — does it mean much for us? Say, there's a green lane which goes over the Chiswick High rd / King st towards Hammersmith. I'm cycling there, and then ... oops, what is it? Lorry is unloading — I need to go to the traffic lane, bend it over and then go back, just to realise, that another car is parked just 30 metres from it, and then there's a bus stop, with a bus, naturally... Wait — do I need this lane at all?


Q&A document at Superhighways' section of TfL website clearly says:



A Cycle Superhighway will be a clearly marked cycle route designed to make it easier to travel by bicycle. Cycle Superhighways are being introduced to encourage people to commute by bike between outer and inner London and to make it safer and easier to do so. Cycle Superhighways will be safe, fast, direct, continuous, informative, visible and comfortable. Each Cycle Superhighway will be supported by marketing and other initiatives to encourage people to cycle more often or start cycling.





and also




Cycle Superhighways will be blue (middle sky blue) for high levels of visibility, to provide a consistent look and feel, and to distinguish them from the green lanes of the London Cycling Network.



This is all great, but it misses one and only one thing. Cycling lanes should be separate from traffic lanes. This is only thing which is required — and without it it can be as blue as a sky and it still won't make much sence. There's one picture on TfL website, which shows what it should actually be:



Screen shot 2010-03-17 at 15.47.00.png


This is an only way it will work. Yes, it doesn't guarantee cyclists' safety — but they would be so much safer from idiots drivers, who hate cyclists with all their might, and idiots lorry drivers, who give no shit about who could be in their blind spot (or, rather, blind stripe). This is an only way you can guarantee that a car won't stop there with their emergency signal on, just to buy a box of cigarettes in off-license. This is an only way more and more people will choose bicycle as their way to commute to central London — and the colour of lanes matters very little.

Developer's comfort vs Manager's comfort

zones_of_tech.png


So very true, really! Too good my manager feels quite comfortable with me using JSON, Python and Hadoop =)

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Cycling along CycleStreets.net

Shortly — it works. Took me almost an hour to get through 12 km — mainly because many times I slowed down to actually understand, where should I turn, as GPS (being guided by pre-defined route) provided me very little help should something go wrong. But I did it anyway — and CycleStreets did show that:



  1. It is possible to plan an (almost) traffic-free route in London. Well, relatively traffic free of course, but you know what I mean


  2. They indeed know about most unidentifiable passages and streets in London


  3. They don't give a .. well, they don't give practically anything about one-ways, so if you're following their route — watch for traffic signs!


Otherwise — that was immensely cool, I got from uni to home following streets most of them I've never seen, even though I live, work or study just next corner. Try it yourself — I'm very positive about it!







And this is how the route supposed to look:


Screen shot 2010-03-16 at 09.02.33.jpg


They are not really that different. By the way, any ideas how to plot two GPX tracks on one map just to compare them?

Monday, 15 March 2010

Trying out Wordpress app for iPhonr

Pretty good looking, can moderate/answer comments and upload pictures - sounds good, as far as I'm concerned.

 

Backing up your Wordpress blog

Perhaps, I'm not an only one who uses WordPress as a blogging platform of my choice — surely it's my domain and my hosting, but still. Recently I've discovered very neat and nice way of backing up your entire blog, which can be described in a few simple steps:



  1. Go to wordpress.com and create a private blog


  2. Go to yourblog.com/wp-admin and export all entries (Tools – Export)


  3. Go to your WordPress.com blog and import this export file


  4. After import is finished, mark the checkbox that you want to download all attachments too — WordPress will download all images, videos, etc which you've posted to your blog


That is it! Now you have a backup of all your content, which could certainly be helpful at the moment when you discover that you should've done backups.


But, of course you're doing backups ... wait ... what?!


Sunday, 14 March 2010

Files and folders icons in Finder toolbar

Did you know you can do it?


  FreeAgent Drive1.jpg


Drag the icon and drop it to Finder's toolbar, that's it! Another picture after the break


Saturday, 13 March 2010

New sigizmund.com is online!

Screen shot 2010-03-13 at 14.22.00 - 13 Mar 2010.jpg


Finally, on my own domain and my own hosting — Posterous was cool, but I want a bit more control over what I have.

Few pictures from #wherecampeu

Here's a #wherecampeu schedule for Friday. Looks simple, huh?


P1010347.jpg


And here's a classic blackmail photo — Holger @HD42 Dürer betrays Linux (which is apparently not able to cope with such a thing as a wireless network) and uses MacBook


P1010355.jpg


Few more photographs after the break with a free bonus: picture myself and Walter @Andrag — kudos to Gary @vicchi Gale for having his iPhone ready!


Thursday, 11 March 2010

Almost there

Heavily tuned uTheme by CSS WITH COLOUR is uploaded, and the blog looks pretty much the way it supposed to. Last step is yet to be done — will need to change DNS for sigizmund.com and update the address.


Screen shot 2010-03-11 at 15.40.03.jpg


Apparently, it's going to happen tonight, so stay tuned!

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Preparing to migrate

Slowly preparing to migrate from Posterous to my own blog. Well I can always leave Posterous as one of the ways of updating my blog, but I realised I still want my own design, my own file storage, and decent blogging clients support. Yes, ecto rocks :-)


Screen shot 2010-03-09 at 15.36.12.png

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

OH during the component-based software development lecture

Lector:



— I am personally not convinced with EJB-QL approach and I don't see why you should be unless you love to embed SQL into your code, then surely you can say "Yay! I love it" — otherwise, as I said, I am not convinced.

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Flash must die and Flash eventually will


Start-up airline Virgin America has decided HTML is "good enough" for animating online content on its brand-new website, which went live Monday, dumping Flash.



I would only say I am not surprised at all by this step — given amount of pressure Apple has pressed on Flash-based content (and obvious progress of JavaScript support in modern browsers) it is not surprising.


© The Register — http://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/03/02/virgin_america_html_flash/

British Piracy Bill May Kill Most Small Public Wi-Fi Connections


The new Digital Economy Bill, a piece of copyright crackdown legislation, would hold owners of open Wi-Fi connections in Britain liable for any form of copyright infringement conducted on their networks. There would be zero exceptions for individuals, businesses, public locations, libraries, universities, or small businesses.That could essentially kill the popular open Wi-Fi movement by making it too dangerous to businesses and universities to offer open services to their customers. Lilian Edwards, professor of internet law at Sheffield University states, "[The bill could] outlaw open Wi-Fi for small businesses. This is going to be a very unfortunate measure for small businesses, particularly in a recession, many of whom are using open free Wi-Fi very effectively as a way to get the punters in."



Very disturbing news articles from DailyTech and Telegraph — namely these two:



If this is indeed the case, Orwellian future is closer, than we used to think.



Jeremy Hunt, the shadow culture secretary, told the Times newspaper: “It is grossly unfair that Labour expects millions of innocent customers to pay extra each month because of the actions of a minority. By their own admission this will make broadband unaffordable to tens of thousands of people, which flies in the face of Government policy to increase take-up in disadvantaged communities.” ISPs have been vocally opposing the Bill for some time. BT described the measures as a “collective punishment”, while Carphone Warehouse called on the entertainment industry to pay for the measures, rather than consumers.


Monday, 22 February 2010

Google's commercial — very nice and probably didn't cost a penny

OK, granted — probably they did pay a great deal of money for the idea to that guy (or guys, for all it worths) who invented and wrote a script. However, filming was probably the cheapest in the history of TV commercials ever. Like it. A lot.






Thursday, 18 February 2010

Digital Image Processing, Playboy and The Most Famous Image in Computer Science


Have you ever seen this girl? Odds are — if you've ever dealt with image processing as a computer science discipline, then you had — in fact, many times.

You can probably pick any book on the subject and you'll find this picture — perhaps, significantly more than once. I found myself interested in tracking down, who's the girl on this picture; obviously, all I knew was her name — Lena. Quick search has proven that I was not the only one who found it interesting. Go to http://lenna.org and find out for yourself, how Playboy's Miss November '72 has become the icon of the computer science. Here you can find the full page scan — slightly NSFW, but she's damn good anyway (and I can understand why computer scientists preferred her to their usual rabbits and landscapes).

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

On iPhone Unlock: official + unofficial = ?

I have my iPhone officially unlocked by O2. However, today I had to unlock it unofficially too — naturally, using blackra1n + blacksn0w combination (I've donated for blackra1n once, and now I feel like I need to donate for using blacksn0w — it was my most painless jailbreak and unlock ever). You can ask, why did I do that?


Well, how'd you like a reason: when I swap my SIM cards I am not necessarily at my home iMac so I can connect iPhone to iTunes to do an iActiva..damn, just to activate it! I don't want it, really — it's nowhere simple and counterintuitive like hell: I've activated it already once, and I've unlocked it once — why should I bother doing it every now and then? So I had my iPhone blackra1n'ed, installed blacksn0w — whoa! It turns out, swapping SIM cards could be just that — swapping SIM cards. And this is the way it supposed to work.

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Developing using Eclipse CDT, remote Linux server and rsync

 


For quite a while I used to have a huge pain in my arse — namely, programming in C++ for Linux on my Mac.


I think I said this before, but I like IDEs — especially, I like Eclipse: it saves my time and allows me to develop stuff much faster and more efficiently, it is also great when you’re learning some new code (and if you have a very large project at hands, that means pretty much all the time).


The problem was, I should still build the project on Linux. That means I was doomed to put all the sources on the network drive, which was accessible both from my Mac and from Linux server, and build it all there. Not convenient and slow. Very slow, in fact — builds were taking ages and ages. Other guys were using stuff like vim and emacs, and I didn’t find it useful at all: these tools are old, and give you next to none help when it comes to writing the code. So I kept struggling with using Eclipse in this hostile environment, until I come out with the idea, which is best of all described by these few lines of Makefile:


build:
rsync -rvz . my.dev.server:/path/to/project
ssh my.dev.server 'cd /path/to/project && build'

test: build
ssh my.dev.server 'cd /path/to/project && make test'

Now, when I finish editing the files (or want to check something) I simply do on my local machine:


 kirillov:/local/source/dir $ make test 

And voila — all sources are synchronised, built and tested! An extra benefit of this approach is that I have no object files, .d files, executable files and other useless stuff in my dev-folder (and, consequently, visible in my project). An only downside is, if your source tree is very large, rsync can take a good deal of time (that is why I’m syncing only my subproject in my real Makefile).


 

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

SSH tunnelling, VNC and Mac OS X

That said, one can do almost anything as long as this anything is not writing a lecture (which that specific one should be doing — at least, theoretically).

Now, I'm not different in any sense. Instead of writing an Image-Based Information Processing lecture (which puts me to sleep almost immediately — or is it the professor who does it?) I've managed to get a VNC working on my Mac. On my home Mac. Well, it all started with the TeamViewer, which suddenly stopped to work. It was disappointing, as I couldn't play with Boxee on my home computer during the lecture anymore, so I've tried to invent something. Indeed, I could SSH into my iMac (via a resident NAS which acts as an SSH gateway to my home network). What I ended up doing could be best described by these commands:



imac$ sudo port install tightvnc
imac$ vncserver ... password ... verify ... your VNC server is running on iMac:1
nas$ sudo ssh -f roman@imac -L 5901:localhost:5901 -N
macbook$ ssh -f my-nas-username@my-nas-host 5901:127.0.01:5901 -N # it didn't work with localhost here


Then I simply used JollyFastVNC to VNC into my iMac by connecting to 127.0.0.1 and port 5901. Yay! However, ten minutes later I realised, that in fact I can set up a tunnel to my Mac's default (bundled) VNC server on screen 0. So I did — and apart of the fact that I should've enabled monitor mirroring (otherwise it tried to skew my iMac's monitor + my HD TV connected to it into one rectangular window, which didn't look neither pretty nor comfortable), it did work quite good. That works and an only question I ask myself - why on Earth do I need it if TeamViewer has started working again?

Friday, 22 January 2010

Weird @1Password / Chrome / @Posterous bug



Download now or watch on posterous

1password.mov (3628 KB)


Whenever I try to use pre-pre-alpha of 1Password for Chrome to login in to my Posterous, I can see an extremely weird picture (try it on YouTube with resolution of up to 1080p if Posterous video is a bit off).

Chrome Dictionary — very useful extension, at least for me

OK, fine, I know — an average Englishman is fairly unlikely to need a dictionary when reading in his very own native English; an educated Englishman will hardly need dictionary ever. However, for us, foreigners, expats, or simply people who struggle (to whatever degree) to speak and read the language of Shakespeare, Jane Austen and Austin Powers, this may become handy. 

You see the word. You don't understand it. You double click it. Now you do [understand it and go ahead]. 

That's pretty much the whole usage pattern for a new Google Chrome extension — Google Dictionary, offered, surprisingly, by Google itself. Well, it's not your average dictionary, it looks just a bit more sleek and fun, explaining things in a language which is likely to be understand by someone who doesn't have a PhD in English literature; well, it works for me. Take a look yourself if you're like me — not feeling entirely confident in a grim and dangerous world of irregular verbs, past perfect tenses and their ilk; or again, may be you're just curious. Take a look anyway.




Custom Search Engines in Google Chrome

Did you know you can define custom search engines in Google Chrome? Yes you can. When I want to find a map of something, I type "map <mysomething>" in address/search bar and — voila, a map appears. How to do it? It's simple, really:
  1. Right-click your address bar
  2. Click "Edit Search Engines"
  3. Click "Plus" button 
  4. Type your search engine name
  5. Type an activator (a short keyword you should use to tell Chrome that you want to use a custom search)
  6. A search URL, with query replaced to "%s"
It's even more simple once you've seen the pictures. Try it for yourself — saves a lot of time.







Thursday, 21 January 2010

Sync on Save/Run in NetBeans


Suddenly found an absolutely killing feature of NetBeans 6.8 (don't
know, it could've been there before, but I found it only now) — it can
sync every file you save locally to remote server (FTP/SFTP), which
is, IMO, absolutely brilliant as now I can edit files locally using
nice IDE and then build and run them on large scary Linux server.
Probably, picture says it all.

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

About Apple's announcement on 27th

One guy: don't want to replace my MacBook Pro right now, need to wait until 27th
Me: is there anything to wait for?
One guy: it certainly is
Me: you know what is it?
One guy: Yep.
Me: fancy to share?!?!?!?!!11
One guy: NDA.
Me: ...
One guy under NDA: do I really want to get killed?

Monday, 18 January 2010

Looking for alpha-testers for a new Twitter App

Update: it is not working right now. Now read on, but I warned you.

Hey guys,

I've kind of handcrafted a Twitter app over the weekend. Shortly — it's a URL scrap book, which monitors your feed and collects all URLs, un-shortens them and stores for future use, so whenever you try to find that link you posted a week ago, you shouldn't be lurking over your Twitter feed (as Twitter Search is unlikely to help), you simply go to this app and find it there.

Now, it's early alpha. It's working. Search is sort of working. Multi-word search is broken and phrase search is broken too, probably, it will remain that way until the next release of Google's AppEngine. However, this app is already useful — at least I was able to find one of URLs I've been looking for for ages.

What it can do? It can import your feed. It can monitor it. It can even import as much as 3200 your previous status updates (only ones with URLs are stored).

And it's in progress. It will become more powerful, so much more powerful — it's difficult to imagine, how many useful information is stored in Twitter status updates. But for now it's only alpha — hence access is naturally restricted. If you're interested in testing it — please let me know and I will sign you up (for now this is an only way of doing so — that was done on purpose).

Few teasers just to keep your interest :-)

Yours,

Roman

P.S. if you're good with design and would like to sharpen your skills — do let me know. I'm notoriously bad when it comes to making something look good, and probably nothing and no one can help me with it; however, you can help this app look better, so if you're interested — contact me by any means.






See and download the full gallery on posterous

P.P.S. For you, techno-geeks — it's made with Google AppEngine, Django, Twitter OAuth and REST API and uses semi-ready full-text search functionality of AppEngine (thus search is semi-broken). And yes, I intentionally made screenshots from localhost — so I don't spoil the secret location :-)

Sunday, 17 January 2010

A URL matching regex in Python — any problems?

Can anyone see any flaws in it for real-world URL?

>>> str = 'and now http://sub.domain.com/something/?here3=3ab&what=1#where=1 that was a URL'

>>> urls = re.findall('http[s]?://(?:[a-zA-Z]|[0-9]|[$-_@.&#+]|[!*(),]|(?:%[0-9a-fA-F][0-9a-fA-F]))+', str)

>>> urls

['http://sub.domain.com/something/?here3=3ab&what=1#where=1']

For me it looks like working but you never now...  Comments from @HD42 would be highly appreciated =)

Saturday, 16 January 2010

An ordinary day at Roman's home workplace


It was an ordinary Saturday morning, a bit rainy, a bit grey but otherwise quite normal. So, one by one, I turned on all my four laptops and iMac and proceeded to my usual morning routine... 

To say the truth, Vaio laptop isn't mine — a technically challenged college of my wife has asked me to choose, buy and set it up for her. Small laptop (netbook) is Natalie's. Rest of them are indeed mine. 

Friday, 15 January 2010

VNC: Linux in Mac



via tweetie

It would be cool to ... (mac-boy's dreams)

It would be cool to have a way to switch "natures" of your Mac OS X, not unlike the way I change Perspectives in Eclipse from PyDev to Java whenever I start hacking different project. Let me illustrate it on one simple example. When I'm at work I'd love to have my work resources connected and available in Finder. That includes, say, some network shares, VNC servers, and so on. And — I would like to have them just in Finder's "Places" menu. When I go to uni, I'd love to have my Birkbeck folder there — may be not only this folder, but some of it's subfolders too, so I shouldn't go to Dropbox/Birkbeck/IBIP/Lectures just to find my image-based information processing lectures, I would rather select IBIP shortcut in Finder and get straight to it. But there's a problem — I don't need my IBIP shortcut at work. More than that, it would probably distract me and this is the last thing I want. On the other hand, my work network shares would be more than pointless at uni, as they'd be not only useless but even inaccessible without a VPN (and why do I need a VPN at uni?).


So, you see, Mac is good and Mac is cool, but quite a few things could be improved. (however, maybe I should spend a little bit of my time and write a script to fix all this stuff for me? that would certainly work...)

flickrpy + 30 lines of code = poor man's Flickr Backup solution

It uses somewhat buggy but excellent flickrpy module by James Clarke — works well for me after some small adjustments:


def main():
flickr.API_KEY = constants.API_KEY
flickr.API_SECRET = constants.API_SECRET

u = flickr.User(id = '92002612@N00')
sets = u.getPhotosets()

for ps in sets:
name = ps.title
name = name.replace('"', "'").replace("/", "_")

folderName = "/Users/kirillov/Pictures/Flickr/%s" % name
if os.path.exists(folderName):
print("Path exists, skipping: %s" % folderName )
continue

photos = ps.getPhotos()

os.mkdir(folderName)
i = 0
for i,p in enumerate(photos):
src = p.getSizes()[-1]['source']
photoname = p.getTitle().replace("/", "_")

fname = '/Users/kirillov/Pictures/Flickr/%s/%s-%d.jpg' % (name, photoname, i)
data = u2.urlopen(src).read()
open(fname, 'w').write(data)

print('%s => "/Users/kirillov/Pictures/Flickr/%s/%s-%d.jpg"' % (src,name, photoname, i))

Upd: fixed and updated version posted.

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Emacs Fingers Monster



via tweetie

New iPhone adapter for headphones: here we go again

Do you remember a while ago I posted about replacing my broken Griffin SmartTalk? Well, they replaced it — indeed they did. And guess what? It got broken again. In the very same place — where the cable connects to the jack. Same symptoms. Same problem. Same product. I decided not to hassle their customer support, because the best they can do is to send me another one which will again break in a couple of months — repeat until the warranty expires. 



So I decided it's a time to fix the root cause of the problem. Virtually all cheap headphones (and adapters too) have this problem, so I decided to get the one from Shure (which was a recommended accessory for my Shure SE 210 headphones — which I'm extremely happy with). So, I got myself a Shure MPA-3C.


I think photos say enough, finally answering the question why it shouldn't break in a months or two. Very solidly looking thick cable, protected jack connection, not thin and elegant by any standards, but seriously built, sturdy and durable, or at least it looks this way.


Hope this will sort the problem out, but now my music experience is Shure all the way through (except my iPhone, but everybody knows Shure doesn't produce any decent iPhones).  

Well, may be they should?






Tuesday, 12 January 2010

iPhone 3G, push-only email and battery life.

Yesterday I realised, that I am way too tired of my new iPhone's battery dying at 11PM every day — and if on every day it was dying at 11PM which is somewhat acceptable, on a bad day it died at 9PM just when I was leaving university building, looking forward for 30 minutes on a train accompanied by my iPod, ebook, RSS news or what's not. Now, that annoyed me — annoyed me much, and I decided it's a time to do something with it.

Yesterday I took a look at my email accounts on iPhone. 4 of them: MobileMe, my university email, Gmail for public stuff and my very private email. I switched off three of them, and set up a forwarding to my Gmail account. Then I switched my Gmail to Exchange. And that was it.

Dear, that was a difference. Today was a fruitful day and I received about a 100 emails on combination of my email accounts. I used Internet quite a bit, I listened to few podcasts and music, posted a number of updates using Tweetie, read Stephen King's book for about an hour during my commute, breakfast and very late after-work lunch, and you know what? 

Now it's 18:23. Battery on my iPhone is still full. I'm not kidding. That what it shows: it's full. I don't have any battery-monitoring utilities as I hardly feel any need in them, but I see, that despite all my unintentional efforts, iPhone's battery is still healthy as hell. And it couldn't make me happier.

There're just to simple things you need to understand from whatever I've written above:
  1. The fewer email accounts your iPhone checks, the longer it's battery will last.
  2. Checking email only when you have new email rather than every N minutes saves your battery even further.
That is it, chaps — hope my experience will help someone to save some of iPhone juice just enough for his or her way back home.

Facebook: email interface

Apparently email replies to Facebook comments which I just spotted is a brand new feature of Facebook:




via tweetie

Monday, 11 January 2010

FingerMgmt — an amazing MacBook Unibody's multitouch demo app




Download now or watch on posterous

FingerMgmt001.mov (4974 KB)



As it's been proved empirically by many users (using this application) MacBook Unibody's touchpad is able to recognise touches of up to 11 fingers. Well I have only one question and don't you dare call me deviant: where is this 11th finger and who are the target audience of these laptops? :-) 


Grab blä.se/FingerMgmtUB.zip and find out by yourself!


Author of this wonderful bit of software — one Johan Nordberg and when I'm telling you this guy has very little to no problems with his creative thinking, believe me, I am just jealous.


(via lericson)

Thursday, 7 January 2010

iPhone 3G — brand new, yet with an old warranty

Got my brand new shiny iPhone 3G today. Surprised? I'm not — apparently, this is the way Apple replaces batteries to some iPhones. That's too bad that they didn't give me a replacement 3Gs, but there're no idiots in there, and, perhaps, they have a stock of old phones (you cannot buy iPhone 3G 16GB anymore, only 8GB for 3G version), so it took a couple of days to get a replacement one. Otherwise, reverting my iPhone to Day 0 (even for £55) isn't such a bad deal at all.

Untitled




via tweetie