Weekly Review, December 20

By Saturday, December 20, 2014 0 Permalink 0

Another week, another batch of assorted sick kids… I wonder, how do humans survive, as a specie??

Anyway, isn’t this Rubik’s cube solving robot super cool?! It’s trying to get funded now on Kickstarter. It’s not the final assembled robot that I found so cool, but the idea of building one! As far as I understand, this is what the Kickstarter project is about. Coming up with a kit that individuals (or schools) can buy and build and program themselves – that’s really cool!

You probably heard about the crazy Sony hack. I don’t intend to dig into the technicalities of this hack, or the political and business ramifications of it. Others are covering it more than enough. What I found interesting here is how this breach affects regular employees and their families. These employees didn’t expect all of their work and personal email (and more) to be released like that. I believe many of them, like lots of other “regular people” (myself included), “has nothing to hide”. When I use the Internet (in whatever form), I usually don’t worry too much about “privacy” – as I have nothing to hide. This breach makes me think – even though I don’t have anything to hide, how would I feel if my entire online activity is published like that? My personal information? Personal information of unsuspecting friends and family that happened to interact with me online? That’s unsettling…

Speaking of hacks, have you heard of the RevSlider vulnerability that made lots of WordPress sites exposed to attacks (AKA SoakSoak)? Luckily, I don’t use the vulnerable plugin on this site, so I’m good. Do you have a WordPress site? Are you vulnerable?

The Weekly Review is a recurring (so-far-)weekly summary, reviewing highlights from the last week.

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Weekly Review, December 13

By Saturday, December 13, 2014 0 Permalink 1

Look! My Day Job startup launched a public website! You can now read some more about how we at Yowza are trying to make computers understand the world in 3D.

We believe 3D data will become ubiquitous, and revolutionize the world. Just like cameras in every pocket made images so important, the day that everyone will always carry a tiny high-resolution 3D scanner is not far. To take advantage of the imminent explosion of 3D data, we’re working today on giving technology the ability to make sense of the world around it in 3D.

Naturally, this is a huge undertaking. As a small startup (13 at the moment), we have to start with something and focus on it. For us, that first something is yowza-search. Our approach to search is shape-based, driven by the underlying geometry of indexed objects. This involves pretty high-level math, so we’re always on the lookout for bright people with strong background in math or physics. This also involves some serious compute-fu, scaling up the algorithmic shit to handle volumes of 3D data (did I say “cloud” and “big data”? 😉 ).

If any of it sounds interesting to you, consider joining us! 🙂

btw, the post image is a screenshot of a 3D model of myself (produced with a 3D scanner).

The Weekly Review is a recurring (so-far-)weekly summary, reviewing highlights from the last week.

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Weekly Review, December 6

By Saturday, December 6, 2014 0 Permalink 1

Oogis dad will turn 60 next week. Her mom decided to surprise him with a family weekend retreat. We rented a beautiful Villa on the beach and spent our time eating and resting, just like god intended. All in all, everybody had a great time. The kids got to see some sea, and the only thing missing was hot water in the shower. That, and Noona.

I always had a hard time understanding the gap between the culture of (some) companies, and the harshness of (most) standard employment agreements. A company with an open culture, that may even encourage side projects and open source contribution, still has legalese about all inventions being the sole property of the company… Once again, Joel Gascoigne from Buffer stands behind their transparent culture, and tackles the issue of the employment agreement with a pledge to employees. To my understanding, the pledge Joel presents contradicts the employment agreement (at least in spirit), and the employment agreement takes precedence. Despite that, I think it’s good to convey the spirit of the employer-employee relation in plain language, as the employer sees it.

What do you think? As an employer? Employee?

The Weekly Review is a recurring (so-far-)weekly summary, reviewing highlights from the last week.

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Weekly Review, November 29

By Saturday, November 29, 2014 0 Permalink 1

There, I’m done with my Nexus 5 Lollipop upgrade mini-project. You’ll stop hearing about it all the time now! 😉

On a similar fun note, the entire family was sick a significant part of this week… You should have been here to see the fun! The twins started pretty much at the same time with some generic stomach bug. Oogi joined shorty after, taking it even harder. The grandparents also got it after being with the twins for some time. I joined the party, fortunately lightly and briefly. Definitely much fun! Allow me to skip the graphics…

We got some winter in Israel at last, with cooler air and some rain, hurray! The rain prevents me from bicycling to work, and also reminds everybody how bad the Israeli infrastructure is if it gets a little wet. That aside, being able to walk outside without sweating, and breathing a lungful of cool air is priceless for me! Definitely worths the price of needing to put on shoes and long jeans (T-shirts are still enough for me though).

The Weekly Review is a recurring (so-far-)weekly summary, reviewing highlights from the last week.

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Weekly Review, November 22

By Saturday, November 22, 2014 0 Permalink 1

Last week I got tired of waiting for the Android Lollipop OTA update to reach my Nexus 5. I went through manually flashing the Nexus 5 Lollipop factory image. You can read all about my upgrade process in the upgrade mini-project posts (which is practically finished, but some of the planned posts are still pending).

Some initial thoughts on Android Lollipop:

  1. It’s pretty.
  2. It’s smooth.
  3. I experienced some really bad cellular reception on the first day. It seems the issue went away though.
  4. Battery drain is somewhat higher on average. This is not based on benchmarking, just on hunch. The difference is not significant enough to be a real issue, at least for me.
  5. The new lock screen behavior with notifications is interesting. I haven’t restored my DashClock lock screen configuration, so I can see how I like this one.
  6. The most notable change is probably the task switcher. It’s completely different. As long as I keep it clean, I like it. The problem is that it’s hard to keep it clean…
  7. Still haven’t figured out the new share menu. Is it sorted? By what? Can I control it?
  8. A nasty bug that I ran into 3-4 times so far: some activity gets “stuck” in the foreground. pressing “back”, “home”, or trying to switch away doesn’t work. after several seconds, I can lock, unlock, and then “home” will bring back the home screen. I couldn’t recognize any specific pattern that led to this bug yet.
  9. The Tasker task I have for disabling the PIN code lock stopped working. When I run it, the screen lock setting is changed to “Swipe” as expected, but the PIN is still active…
  10. SmartLock is nice! I heard an upcoming update adds “trusted locations” to it, which will be very useful for me!
  11. Long pressing the power button is a bit confusing now. It offers only “Power off”. No more silent / vibrate mode.
  12. The volume control now contains also “Interruptions control”. This can be set to “All”, “Priority” or “None”. “None” is like silent mode, but also for alarms! Seems that “Priority” is equivalent to the “standard silent mode”. Not sure where I can choose between “silent” and “vibrate” though…
  13. “Priority” mode can be enabled “indefinitely”, or for “N hours”. It also allows configuring “Downtime”, that automatically sets priority mode on schedule. This is similar to the Silence Premium app that I use for “downtime” and auto-priority-mode during calendar events, but without the calendar-awareness feature.

Some thoughts on the Android upgrade process:

  • When preparing for an upgrade, it’s hard to predict what gets automatically restored and what doesn’t.
  • The way different apps handle customization, settings, and app-related data is pretty inconsistent. From an end-user point of view, I’d expect Android to offer some kind of “synchronized app configuration and data storage service” API, that I can connect with my Google account. This way, my personalization can follow me across different devices and device-upgrades without all the hassle. Am I missing something here?
  • Overall, despite taking the factory image flashing route, the upgrade process was straight forward and smooth.

The Weekly Review is a recurring (so-far-)weekly summary, reviewing highlights from the last week.

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Weekly Review, November 15

By Saturday, November 15, 2014 2 Permalink 1

Yesterday was Oogis birthday! She’s 30 years old! That’s old!

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about using Bitnami to set up a local WordPress sandbox. I was surprised (and delighted) to hear from Daniel from Bitnami shortly after, thanking me for the post, and asking to send me a T-shirt! I definitely did not expect such a nice experience when writing the post. Kudos to the Bitnami team for engaging with their users like that. I can only assume that they are as responsive to complaints as well.

The OTA update for Lollipop started on Wednesday, Nov.12. It includes Nexus 5, 7 & 10. As with most Android updates, this update is rolled out in waves. Unfortunately for me, it seems I’m on a “late wave”, and haven’t gotten my update yet, 3 days later… 🙁

The wait is too long for me! With the factory image available for download, I see no reason to keep waiting! I’m not afraid of a little adb-ing and fastboot-ing. As I see it, the only advantage of waiting for the OTA is avoiding a full data wipe. But I want to start clean, so I don’t mind doing a full wipe. As I write these words, I’m backing up the Nexus sdcard to my MacBook, before performing the manual Lollipop flashing. You can expect a detailed post on this process soon, if I don’t fuck it up on the way… 🙂 (update: as I publish this post, a couple of hours after, I finished the manual upgrade, and working on restoring all my settings)

The Weekly Review is a recurring (so-far-)weekly summary, reviewing highlights from the last week.

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Weekly Review, November 8

By Saturday, November 8, 2014 2 Permalink 1

In January this year, I bought coupons for a movie night at a close by movie theater. This week, about 10 months later, Oogi and I finally used up those coupons. Hurray babysitters!

With all the bad movies around most of the time, I’m really happy we decided to watch Gone Girl! Really, great movie. Go watch it too, if you haven’t! 🙂

Also this week, Google ran a 1-day Cloud Platform Live event. Sadly, it took place in San Francisco, which made it somewhat difficult for me to attend. With the timezone difference, it wasn’t even reasonable for me to watch the live stream…

If you’re into cloud development, you’d probably be interested in what came out of it.

  • Google Container Engine is exciting, with Kubernetes and Docker – so much potential! Maybe I can use it to cross off my DayJob todo about “better cluster management” 🙂 .
  • Managed VMs in App Engine goes into beta. Also adds auto-scaling support, and Docker-based runtimes. This makes me want to move my WordPress to App Engine! Anyone put together a Docker AppEngine image with WordPress stack? 🙂
  • The Compute Engine gets auto-scaling powers! Neat.
  • Some network stuff, Firebase integration, cloud debugger.
  • Another price reduction.

I recently read another article on financial independence. I can agree with the premise that financial independence is a worthy goal, in the sense that trading (work) time for money is entirely optional. I, too, would love to choose what to do with my time based solely on personal joy, without worrying about income.

I can’t understand, though, why most of these articles go on about “suffering for a decade or two” to achieve said financial independence. Isn’t it generally better to work in something that you enjoy most of the time for 40 years and maintain and reasonable lifestyle, instead of living like a dog for 15 years so you can have 25 years of watching TV after that?

For a living, I write code for a company that pays me to do it, and I enjoy it. If I had “financial independence” today, I’d probably write less code for the company. With the freed up time, I would most likely just write other code (and blog posts 😉 ) for myself. Maybe I could have written code for other companies that would pay me much more for it (e.g. algo-trading etc.), and get to financial independence sooner. But I don’t think it’s worth it! Why would I “sell my soul” now for more free time later?

Maybe I’m missing something. Maybe I’m in a special position that my skills, hobbies, and job intersect. Maybe most people hate their jobs. Go figure.

What would you do if you could stop worrying about money today? What does it worth to you? I’d love to know, so head to the comments! 🙂

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Weekly Review, November 1

By Saturday, November 1, 2014 0 Permalink 1

Wow, this week I posted every day! Most of it consisted of “spontaneous” posts, outside my planned project-posts and series.

I postponed some of the planned posts I prepared in favor of the more “timely posts” of this week. There’s an interesting distinction between “timely posts” and “timeless posts”. It wasn’t explicitly clear in my mind before thinking about it this week.

I try to write mostly “timeless posts”. Posts that I consider to have value now as well as in the future. Posts of this kind can be published now or next month, and it wouldn’t matter much.

On the other hand, “timely posts” usually have short shelf-lives. They may be super relevant today, and completely useless next week. I don’t specifically object those. I assume that my potential contribution to topics of transient short-lived value is limited. I’m not a large tech-site with a team of (pseudo?) geeks constantly looking for the next buzz.

This week was interesting, because almost daily I had something to say on some transient subject (Google Inbox buzz, OS X Yosemite upgrade, etc.). Did you notice the difference? What kind of content type I produce you enjoy more, and why? I’d love to know, so drop a comment, or tell me personally!

In case you missed it, I started this week a new series, dubbed Shell-Foo. I’m excited about it! I love “elegant” (read “brutal”) ways to do complex things from the command line! It’s something I wanted to learn more about for a long time, and a similar new internal mailing list in DayJob helps a lot. It’s nice that I can shamelessly rip off that mailing list.. 🙂

Also this week, I finished “reading” my first audio book from Audible. It was Flash Boys by Michael Lewis (also available on Amazon as a real book), at total play time of 10 hours 18 minutes. I didn’t like it much, but I can’t say if it’s the story or the format. I guess I’ll see how it goes with the next books.

The Weekly Review is (hopefully) a recurring summary, reviewing highlights from the last week.

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Weekly Review, October 25

By Saturday, October 25, 2014 0 Permalink 0

I’m a productivity / self-management geek. I love making TODO lists, and I’m always on the hunt for the “perfect tool” to fit my GTD-based workflow. Combined with the fact that I also love tinkering with my workflow constantly, it’s not surprising that I still haven’t found that perfect tool.

For a long time I wanted to tackle my “personal productivity system”, rethinking it given the changes in my life. The last time I did it, I had no kids, different day job, and I was working mostly in a Windows environment. Now, with twins, very different day job, and mostly Mac / Linux environments – the old system is rotting.

My plan was to finish with the website project, and start the next project – rethinking my GTD system. I’m babbling about it now, because Google launched Inbox, forcing me to jump straight into evaluating it as a candidate for a TODO system. I got my invite today (h/t @erang). So far I like it. It feels like merging features from Gmail, Google Now, and Boomerang. I just wish I had it on my two Google-Apps-powered accounts too… Who wants invites?

In an unrelated thread, I’m getting annoyed with post-sharing on Facebook. Looks like it ignores the post thumbnail image for most of my shared posts… Anyone has any idea what’s up with that..?

The Weekly Review is (hopefully) a recurring summary, reviewing highlights from the last week.

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Weekly Review, October 18

By Saturday, October 18, 2014 0 Permalink 0

Last week of the holidays for the foreseeable future. Back the work..!

Google announced Android 5.0 (Lollipop) and Nexus 6 and 9 the other day. That’s pretty exciting! I can’t wait to get Lollipop on my Nexus 5 (no, I don’t want to install developer preview on my daily-use phone)! As much as I love the Nexus line, I can’t be too excited about the Nexus 6. It got decent specs, although I’d expect a 128GB option if there’s no SD expansion slot. But the size! And the price! Oh my god! 5.96″?! for $650?!?! Damn you Google, I don’t want that! What I really liked about the Nexus line so far was “excellent Google-experience devices at great price points”. When people ask me for smartphone recommendation, if they’re not tech-savvy, I usually recommend an iPhone. If they say they don’t want one (due to price, or other reasons), I used to recommend the latest Nexus as the best value-for-money alternative. With Nexus 6, I can’t do it anymore. In addition, Nexus devices used to be reference devices for developers, which isn’t reasonable anymore at that price point.

I guess that’s the downside of Nexus devices gaining popularity. Do you have a different opinion? Let me know in the comments!

OS X Yosemite became publicly available this week, after a couple of months of beta. I upgraded my MacBook Pro (mid 2012 model) yesterday, and looks like it passed smoothly. Didn’t run into any problems so far. Did you? What’s the best new feature for you? (didn’t find mine yet)

The Weekly Review is (hopefully) a recurring summary, reviewing highlights from the last week.

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