concert comments edit

The doors opened at 5:30 and I was among the early ones. I entered the arena and I was on the 2nd row which is very close to the stage but that was just temporary. As time passed the crowd got wilder and it quickly proved to be hard to stay in that area and try to watch the show so I moved back after Anthrax.

Bands

Obituary

After a slightly long and repetitive introduction, at around 18:10, they took the stage. Over the years I nejoyed a few of their songs but never been a huge fan. It was nice to watch them from the 2nd row though

Anthrax

I think Anthrax has always been one of the leading bands in Thrash Metal. Probably a bit underrated though. Their performance was great. They started with Pantera’s Cowbows From Hell and intro to rule up the crowd. And it worked. Big time! It didn’t take too long for the first mosh pit to form! Overall they proved once again they are great at what they do.

Lamb of God

Lamb of God is definitely one of my favourite heavy metal bands but their performance didn’t impress too much. Randy seemed to be a bit sarcastic when he asked questions like “You know why we are all here, don’t you?”

They started with Omerta and continued with their classics and the crowd went wild. But in the middle when they started playing from their newer albums it cooled down a bit. They finished with Redneck as usual.

Slayer

Their show was the most impressive Slayer show I’ve ever seen. Even the way they took the stage was quite a show:

Slayer was Slayer as usual. They played all the classics. Tom didn’t interact with the crowd too much. They don’t need to rile people up anyway being Slayer and all!

travel comments edit

Earlier this year Slayer announced they were retiring. Slayer is probably the most ‘metal’ band ever. I have seen them 4-5 times throughout the years and as soon as I heard that announcement in July I went to check the tour dates and a possible gig in London. In fact there was a gig in London but I was too late to secure a ticket. Since it was already sold out months ago, I decided to seek my chance elsewhere and bought a ticket for the Newcastle gig. I thought this would give me a last chance to bid Slayer farewell and explore Newcastle in the process.

Trip to Newcastle upon Tyne

A booked my ticket from Virgin Trains. The journey was from London King’s Cross to Newcastle Central Station which took a bit over 3 hours because of minor delays.

I don’t remember what I was thinking when I booked the hotel. I didn’t check the exact location of it until I arrived at Newcastle. I was under the impression that I could simply walk to the hotel. But apparently it was about 6KM away. Considering it was around 21:30, cold and rainy it wasn’t a very smart move.

I started walking towards the hotel but the road turned into a highway and my iPhone shut itself down instantly for no reason as it had 70% battery just a few minutes ago. Anyway, I decided to cut my losses and walked back to train station and took a taxi.

Travelodge Gateshead staff was very helpful and friendly throughout the whole stay (which was quite short anyway but still).

Newcastle Impressions

Metrocentre

Travelodge I stayed in was 10-minute walk from Metrocentre. According to my taxi driver it is one of the top 10 biggest shopping centres in the entire Europe. Not sure if that information is accurate but it was quite big for sure! Even in early November, Christmas spirit was in the air:

The city

It took a while to figure out how to get to the city centre but finally found the correct bus.

It’s a small town apparently and since I don’t like crowded places I liked the place. I will need to spend more time (maybe plan a full weekend trip just to explore the city) on my next visit to have a more educated opinion.

Conclusion

Well, this trip wasn’t conclusive to have a comprehensive opinion about the city. I only had 4-5 hours before the Slayer concert but I like small towns, I like rivers so it is a good candidate for me to like!

I will plan another tour later to actually visit the city and not just to spend a few hours while waiting for an event.

Resources

hobby comments edit

I’ve always been attracted to drums for some reason. In the past I made some atttempts of getting lessons and practicing at home on a PlayStation with a Rock Band drum kit. But it never took off.

This time I decided to go further in and be more serious. After some research on seemingly endless possiblities of electronic drum kits, I decided to go with Roland TD-1DMK:

I’ll keep posting on my journey if it all goes well. If not, I’ll post the link for the item on eBay!

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reading comments edit

Some time ago I decided to get rid of all my physical books and comic books. Currently I only have a few hard copy books one of which is a book called Chronicle of America.

As I was planning to embark upon a reading journey with this behemoth I wanted to check if this was a part of a series and they had a similar book about the UK. Turned out it was a series and they had a lot more than just the UK or America.

After some searching on Amazon and eBay I was able to build this great collection for around £18.

Considering the size of the books I think I had better start reading now as they seem to take a few years to finish completely!

If you’d likfe to build a similar collection I’d recommend the seller on eBay and Amazon. These are second hand books so they may not be available anymore but I’m sure you can find them on other places as well.

Resources

personal, leisure comments edit

My client’s moved to a new office recently. The view is quite nice from their office:

It’s very close to Regent’s Canal. I decided to take walks by the canal. Especially in summer time it makes a very nice walk.

It even has a boat converted into a bookshop:

Location

It’s quite long. The section I’m close by takes about 20 minutes end-to-end. I first finish the short-end, then walk the whole path twice and the short-end again which makes a nice brisk 50 minute-walk.

It crosses Regent’s Park too but unfortunately I’m not close to that section.

A bit of history

This brief introduction explains how it started (taken from Canal & River Trust’s page):

In 1812, the Regent's Canal Company was formed to cut a new canal from the Grand Junction Canal's Paddington Arm to Limehouse, where a dock was planned at the junction with the Thames. The architect John Nash played a part in its construction, using his idea of 'barges moving through an urban landscape'.

Completed in 1820, it was built too close to the start of the railway age to be financially successful and at one stage the Regent’s only narrowly escaped being turned into a railway. But the canal went on to become a vital part in southern England's transport system.

A nice walk

I might update this post with new pictures as I keep walking by the canal. Currently I like these ones:

And this is a short video of the swans under rain:

Resources

travel, leisure, personal comments edit

I’ve decided to have regular trips inside the UK and as my first stop I chose Bletchley Park. This post is a compilation of my notes about the trip so that I can take a look as a refresher for the next one.

Departure: London Euston to Milton Keynes Central

I booked train tickets on Virgin Trains and I was very pleased with the experience.

They sent helpful email and text messages before and after the platform was announced. Boarding process was completely hassle-free. Just showed the QR code that was saved in my Apple Wallet and Virgin Trains app. I used the Wallet this time but the app would work just as good probably. The train departured at the exact time so all went well. Also there was a charging unit in my seat I got to charge my laptop and phone on the way.

Milton Keynes Central to Bletchley Park

Euston to Milton Keynes Central takes 30 minutes only. It’s shorter than my daily commute so it ended before I knew it. The train passes through Bletchlet station but doesn’t stop. So I had to buy a return ticket to Bletchley too (which is just 1 stop away and takes a couple of minutes)

Bletchley Park

Arrived at Bletchely park at around 9:20. It opens at :30 on Saturdays but it opened earlier so didn’t have wait too long.

Park entrance

OVerall the staff members were very kind and helpful. In the lobby, I had my ticket printed which apparently is an annual pass so you just buy one ticket and visit the park as many times you want for a whole year which sounds like a great deal. At the end of the visit I was overwhelmed with information I just might take them on that offer and visit again to have it all sink in.

Bletchley Park

Apart from its historic significance, it’s a very beautiful park too. The weather was especially great when I first arrived so didn’t mind just taking a tour outside and enjoy the view.

The park is smaller than it first like at a first glance at the map. But walking around the whole park just takes a few minutes of brisk walk so it’s easy to find and visit all the buildings.

One interesting I learned was the founder of Graphy Theory was one of the codebreakers there: William Thomas Tutte

Graph Theory

The building called The Mansion included library and was the headquarters and the recreations center.

Library

Enigma machine

Actual codebreaking was carried out in buildings called Huts. They were very well-preserved and authentic. Also they added projections and sound recordings to make the whole experience more realistic

Hut 3

Hut 11

Overall, the level of technical details was overwhleming. They explained every machine and approach to break the codes in detail.

The Bombe machine

I think I will need to make some research on my own and go back for one more time to fill in the blanks.

Milton Keynes

After the visit to the park I had a tour of Milton Keynes. It’s a small town with lots of parks, lakes and kind people.

Everybody I met was very nice. I’m not sure if it was my luck or just because people are less stressed in small towns.

Teardrop Lake

Furzton Lake

Notes to self

  • Check out local transportation
  • Work on the itinerary instead of just picking one direction and walking

Conclusion

It was a great weekend overall. Bletchley Park is a beautiful park and visiting a place which played such an important role in World War 2 was very exciting. I think I had better go back and complete the parts that I missed the fist time as there is so much information to digest.

Resources

personal, leisure, travel comments edit

This is getting harder every year. When I first made up this little tradition of mine 2 years ago I had 5 pints in 5 different pubs in my neighbourhood. This year my goal was to have 7 pints but didn’t quite work out!

Attempt #1: Bermondsey Beer Mile

Apparently it’s a thing!. I took the train to London Bridge and walked all the way to the first pub in midday only to find out it was completely full! Being not a huge fan of crowded places I made a quick change of plans and decided any pub would do! So kept on walking to hunt for empty pubs.

Attempt #2: Random pubs

It was a very beautiful sunny day to be outside. So I really liked spending time in this pub: The Old Bank

I guess the problem was I spent too much time in this one that having to visit 6 more started to be daunting. But I soldiered on!

My second stop was a pub named The Ancient Foresters

with a rudish barmaid but nice cider brand called the Hogs Back

OK, after the cider here I was really looking forward to go home and enjoy the rest of my day off so I had to accept stopping at 2 pints and fail miserably.

Attempt #3: Something healthy

Since I’m in charge of making up the rules for this so-called tradition I thought I could make it more useful and healthy tradition. So for this year I decided to run 7K to commemorate the past 7 years in the UK!

I’ve recently started to run early in the mornings (mostly to play Ingress and capture enemy portals!) So I thought it would be a good fit to dedicate a running session specifically for the anniversary. Maybe not as fun as 7 pints thing but still better than nothing!

Ideas for next year

So it’s made itself abundantly clear that it’s hard to find 7-8 things of the same type. So next year I might run again 8K or divide the celebrations into 2 days and make it more managable that way! Maybe 8 parks and/or museums? Or maybe mixing and maatching would work. Since the main idea is to force myself go out and do something, I guess any celebration would do. We’ll see how it goes next year.

Resources

dev comments edit

I have been a long time Windows user. About 2 years ago I bought a MacBook but it never became my primary machine. Until now! Finally I decided to steer away from Windows and use the Macbook for development and day to day tasks.

Tipping Point

One morning I woke up and found out that Windows restarted itself again, without asking me. At the time I had a ton of open windows and there was a VMWare Virtual Machine running but none of these stopped Windows. It just abruptly shutdown the VM whic was very annoying and this wasn’t even the first time it had happened. So I decided to migrate completely to Mac. Just to give myself a better understanding of what it took and what is missing I decided to compile this post.

Migration

I thought it would be a painful process but turns out it was quite straightforward. Here’s comparison of some key applications I use:

Email: Mailbird vs. Mail

On Windows I used to use Mailbird as my email client. It allows managing multiple accounts and has a nice GUI and works fine. I was wondering if there would be an equivalent in Mac for that and how much it would cost me (I paid about £25 for Mailbird for a lifetime license but apparently it’s now free). I didn’t have to look far: The built-in Mail application does the job very well. Adding a new Google account is a breeze.

MarkdownPad 2 vs. MacDown

I like Markdown Pad 2 on Windows but it has its flaws: The live preview constanly crashes and it allows to open only 4 files in the free version. On Mac, I’m using MacDown now which has a beatiful interface and completely free.

Git Extensions vs. SourceTree

I do like Git Extensions and it’s one of the programs I wish I had on Mac but SourceTree by Atlassian seems to do the job.

Storage: Google Drive and Synology

Both have web interfaces and Google Drive has desktop clients for both Mac and Windows so no issues in migrating there.

PDF Ops

On Windows, I like Sumatra PDF which is very clean and bloatware-free. On Mac, there is no eed to install anything. The default PDF viewer is perfect. It even handles PDF merge and editing operations.

Virtual Desktops

I love using virtual cesktops on Mac. Switching desktops is so easy and intuitive with a three-finger swipe. Windows 10 has support for virtual desktops now but switching is not as fluent so using them didn’t become a habit.

Visual Studio

Now this is the only application I cannot run on Mac. Microsoft has recently released Visual Studio for Mac and they also have Visual Studio Code which is a nice code editor but they are both stripped down versions. I don’t know if .NET Core will take off but currently I use full-blown .NET Framework which only runs under Windows so for development purposes I need to keep the Windows machine alive.

After the migration

I have absolutely no regrets for switching over. I love the Macbook. the keyboard is much better than my Asus’s and the OS is great. Mac has 16GB but outperforms Asus with 24GB (both have Core i& processors and SSD drives)

Here are some more annoying things that used to bug me in the past about Windows:

  • Quite often I cannot delete a folder that used to have a video in it because of Thumbs.db file being in use.
  • I couldn’t change settings to disable Thumbs.db completely because Windows 10 Home edition didn’t allow me to do that.
  • I couldn’t upgrade to Windows 10 Pro even though I had a license for Windows 8.1 Pro. Trying to resolve the licensing issue I found myself going in circles and nothing worked.

Mac cons

There are a few things that I don’t like about Mac or miss from Windows:

  • On Windows, quite often I need to create a blank text file, then double-click and edit it. In Finder, you can only create a new folder. Apparently some scripting is required to overcome this as shown in the resources section below.
  • iCloud seems to be forced down on me. I don’t want to use it, I don’t want to see it but I cannot get rid of it. Trying to disable is just confusing. I’ve now moved everything to a different folder that it’s not watching be default and trying to ignore it completely
  • Moving windows from dispay to display is hard. Especially in my case as I have 15.4” laptop screen and two external monitors with 27” and 40” sizes. Since the size difference is huge between these, dragging a large window from 40” monitor to 15.4” messes up because it doesn’t auto-resize and I cannot even get to the top window to resize. But now I’m using virtual desktops more frequently and using 40” for multiple applications side by side this is not as big of a problem these days.

Going back?

There’s a lot to learn on Mac but I don’t think I’ll be going back anytime soon. I’m looking into virtualizing the Windows machine now so that I can decommission the laptop. I already converted my old Windows desktop into a Linux server so would have no problem with using the laptop for other purposes.

Microsoft made flop after flop starting with Windows 8 and finally they lost another user but they don’t seem to care. If they did, they wouldn’t disrespectfully keep restarting my machine, killing all my applications and VMs!

Resources

ios, swift comments edit

I have a drawer full of gadgets that I bought at one point in time with hopes and dreams of magnificent projects and never even touched!

Some time ago I started a simple spreadsheet to help myself with the impulse buys. The idea was before I bought something I had to put it to that spreadsheet and it had to wait at least 7 days before I allowed myself to buy it.

After 7 days strange things started to happen: In most cases I realised I had lost appetite for that shiny new thing that I once thought was a definite must-have!

I kept at listing all the stuff but quickly it started to become hard to wield by just a spreadsheet.

Sleep On It

The idea behind the app is to automate and “beautify” that process a little bit. It has one Shopping Cart in which the items have waiting periods.

It seemed wasteful to me doing nothing during the waiting period. After all it’s not just about dissuading myself from buying new items. I should use that time to make informed decisions about the stuff I’m planning to buy. That’s why I added the product comparison feature.

The shopping cart has a limited size. Otherwise you would be able to add anything whenever you think of something to game the system so their waiting period would start (well, at least that’s how my mind works!) if your cart is full you can still add items to the wish list and start reviewing products. It’s basically a backlog of items. This way at least you wouldn’t forget about that thing you saw in your favourite online marketplace. Once you clear up some space in your cart either by waiting to buy or deleting them permanently, you can transfer items from wish list to the cart and officially kick off the waiting period.

I have a lot of ideas to improve it but you gotta release at some point and I think it has enough to get me started. Hope anyone else finds it useful too.

If you’re interested in the app please contact me. I might be able to hook you up with a promo code.

Resources

personal, leisure, travel comments edit

When April 6th, 2016 marked my 5th anniversary in the UK I thought I should do something special.

I don’t know if you have seen the movie The World’s End but I liked it a lot. Inspired by the Golden Mile concept I saw in that movie, my decision was to have 5 pints in 5 pubs in the neighbourhood. 1 pint for each year. It may sound unsustainable in the long run but I’ll cross that bridge when I come to that. Without further ado, here’s the pubs I picked for my first annual celebration:

…and the winners are

The Dacre Arms

This one is definitely my favourite pub in the area. It has a very cosy and warm environment. It’s not on the main road so almost felt like discovering a hidden gem when I first noticed it. In the past it served as a nice harbour to get away from my loud and obnoxious neighbour and collect my thoughts and maintain my sanity.

Duke of Edinburgh

I don’t watch football games in pubs a lot but when I do this is my go-to pub. Nice big screen TVs all around. The last game I saw didn’t bring much joy though.

I remember Arsenal smashing Fenerbahce 3-0 in 2013 without even breaking a sweat. Part of the reason why I don’t watch football in pubs: no need for public humiliation!

The Old Tiger’s Head

The way I remember this one was it was quite spacious with a pool table and a lot of tables to sit. I used to come here a lot to wok on my blog. Although I can’t tell the difference, I’ve been informed that this was an Irish pub. I stopped by on one St. Paddy’s day a few years ago and there was quite a colourful celebration going on. I guess that’s one way of identifying whether a pub is Irish or English!

This visit was a bit disappointing though as the whole layout has changed. Pool table was gone and my favourite booth was removed. Oddly enough there were a few bookshelves and there was even a family with two toddlers inside. It felt more like a cafe than a pub.

The Swan / The Rambles

My 4th stop was The Rambles. Actually it used to be a pub called The Swan which was the first pub I ever visited in the UK. It was run by two kind and nice ladies. When you move to a different country and try to settle in there’s a lot of challenges you need to tackle initially and it can be overwhelming at first. The Swan was a nice refuge for me at those times to wind down and relax.

Unfortunately it closed down a few years ago and now there is bar / comedy club named The Rambles. The club doesn’t mean much to me except I’ve been there once before to see a comedy show but in remembrance of The Swan I went there anyway. As it’s bar now they open and close much later than a pub so I was the first customer there! So it might be a good place to work in quite and have a cold one if I’m looking to change venues.

Princess of Wales

I love Blackheath! It’s on a hill and a bit windy but it has a nice little lake and a great view.

I remember the Bonfire Night a few years ago which had a great fireworks show. Princess of Wales is a nice pub by the lake with a great view and I enjoyed my pint there quite a bit.

Same time, next year!

I don’t know if I should try the same path with adding a 6th one to the end of the chain or start with a brand new set or even I’ll be in the mood to do a pub crawl but I’ll decide that later. After all it’s just one of those nice problems to have!

ios, swift comments edit

I’ve been working on iOS development with Swift for some time and finally I managed to publish my first app on the Apple iOS app store: NoteMap.

NoteMap on iTunes

It’s a simple app that allows you to take notes on the map. You can take photos and attach them to the note as well as text. I thought this might be helpful if you take ad hoc pictures and then forget when and why you took them.

The main challenge was working with the location manager as you require permissions to get user’s location. You have to take into all combinations of permissions as they may be changed in the phone’s settings later on.

I have a long list of features to add but wanted to keep this one simple enough just to do the bare essentials. As I hadn’t submitted an app before I wasn’t even sure it would make it to the store. But after waiting 6 days for the app to be reviewed, now it’s out there, which is a huge relief and motivation. I’ll make sure to keep at it and add more features to NoteMap and submit more!

Resources

personal, leisure, comedy, travel comments edit

I may not go out too often but I couldn’t miss this one for the world! Jim Jefferies is my favourite comedian and I finally had a chance to see a live show.

Jim Jefferies Ticket

When I saw the terrace option I went for it. Hoping paying extra would warrant better seats. I couldn’t be wronger! Even the MC made a lot of jokes about rich people sitting miles away from the stage while regular ticket owners had very close places.

There were 3 support acts which were about 10-15 minutes each. Jim took the stage around 20:40 and stayed until 22:00.

The first half was mostly about his newborn son and his relation with his girlfriend. Second half is mostly about religion, guns and sex. Overall it was hilarious as I anticipated. I especially loved how he encouraged people to overpower the security and have free beers :-)

I’ve seen all his shows before so seeing all new material was quite refreshing. Even though the stage was in galaxy far far away and the sound was not too loud still it was very nice to watch Jim Jefferies in open air.

Resources

events comments edit

Yesterday I attended AWS Summit event and wanted to post my impressions and notes from the event. As you can see in the image below there were quite a few people there:

Overview during lunch break

Keynote

Keynote was given by Amazon.com’s CTO Werners Vogel. Some notes from the keynote:

  • It was quite a big event: 3000+ attendees
  • Intel was introduced as platinum partner. Last month I attended to AWSome Day and they mentioned Intel have manufactured a special chip for EC2 only (C4-type instances). It’s designed specifically to address heat considerations.
  • They have now more than 1 minnion active customers
  • According to Gartner, AWS has 5-times compute capacity than 14 closest competitors combined (which also explains the specific requirements to reduce heat in chips)

  • There were guest speakers who emphasized different features of AWS
    • GoSquared: Experimentation, how it is easier to try out new technologies in a cost-effective way
    • iTv: Microservices as opposed to monolithic applications
    • OmniFone: Scalability
    • Just Giving: Distributed regions and data analysis capabilities
    • AWS VP of public sector: Usage in public sector. It started after 12 and everyone started leaving.

  • New features introduced

    • Elastic File System: SSD-based, automatically replicated, auto-resized file system. Currently in preview mode, will be released this summer
    • Machine Learning: Makes it easier to analyze big data for search intent, demand estimation etc.
    • Lambda: Event-driven, fully-managed compute service
    • EC2 Container Service: There is a big shift towards Docker and containers. He said: “The container is now the output of your development process”

  • Generally microservices approach is favored: Building large solutions with smaller blocks allows faster, cost-effective solutions which can be adapted easier to changes
  • Security and their compliance with major certification requirements is emphasized. But he didn’t mention shared-responsibility principle which AWS adopts. Just because you AWS doesn’t mean you’re compliant to all the regulations as well.
  • They have support for hybrid solutions but according to AWS’s vision it’s not the destination, just a transition
  • He made an analogy that fighting the cloud is like “fighting the gravity”: It’s a fight you cannot win!

Track sessions

After the lunch break there were a lot of sessions about various AWS features. I picked Technical Track 1 which included EC2 Container Services, Lambda, CloudFormation and CodeDeploy

EC2 Container Service

I know using containers is a big deal nowadays but still haven’t the chance to try it out myself. I was hoping from this session to find out more about it but didn’t benefit much from it as it didn’t cover the very basics. But in the light of keynote, it’s obvious there’s a huge demand on containers so will be the first service I’ll try next.

Lambda

This is a very cool new service. Instead of running every small job in small services in small EC2 instances now we can get rid of all the maintenance and costs and just let AWS run our code whenever an event is triggered.

  • It currently supports a wide variety of event sources such as objects put to S3 buckets, DynamoDB table updates, SNS messages etc.
  • SQS support is coming soon
  • Currently it runs node.js but it can be used to launch a Java application but native Java support is coming soon so it can directly execute Java code.
  • It even allows access to underlying processes, threads, file system and sockets
  • It’s charged per invocation so you don’t pay anything for idle times.

Infrastructure as code

The focus of the session was CloudFormation but a client of AWS showed how they used Eclipse to deploy with a single click so it can be done in several ways. (That’s why the title of the talk wasn’t CloudFormation)

This is also a great tool to automatically launch a whole infrastructure based on ERB configuration files. I don’t have much experience in this one but was a nice session to see its capabilities in action.

CodeDeploy

This is yet another cool new feature just gone out of preview mode. You can automatically deploy new code based on your rules. For example, you can deploy one-at-a-time. It verifies every deployment and moves to next one. Or you can deploy new version on half of the instances meaning that half of your system will be available even if the deployment fails. Or if you like some adrenaline rush you can deploy to all instances at once :-)

You can specify pre and post scripts that handle the clean-up tasks and verifying the deployment.

CodeDeploy has been GA (General Availability) but 2 more services were introduced yesterday: CodePipeline and CodeCommit

The idea is to fully-automate the whole process from source code checking to deployment which according to the speaker is a very time consuming task in their own applications.

Conclusion

It was a nice big event and I’m glad I had the chance to attend to it. The content was rich to cover every aspect of AWS. I decided to attend to the sessions instead of labs as I can do them online here. It’s also a bit overwhelming to see there’s so much to learn about but that’s always a challenge in this industry anyway. As Werner Vogels said in his keynote: “Innovation is continuous!”

Resources

review, event, place, personal comments edit

I wish I had hobbies! In the past I tried drawing comic books and drumming. They are nice pastime activities but they require a lot of effort and dedication. I just couldn’t find it in me to spend so much time on these activities.

I realized the only activities I don’t mind spending too much time on are developing software and playing with gadgets. One way to improve on these is to join a group. I tried OpenHack meetup group for a while but there was not much going on. Then I discovered this gem: London Hackspace!

Home, sweet home!

I’m writing this post on a comfy couch in their HQ on Hackney Road. This is my first time here but I already fell in love. It’s a great place full of gadgets, laser cutter, 3D-printers, wood and metal workshops, robotics corner and much more! Basically there are no rules. It’s open 24 hours and you can come in anytime you want and can work on any project you want. They also have a very comprehensive library full of tech books.

Everything is DIY. Even the membership card is not given to you automatically but you add your Oyster or any other RFID card to the system by yourself.

They have a very busy events calendar as well. Almost every day there is some event going on. From robotics, to 3D printers or lock-picking. There is no way you cannot find something that you’re not interested in. Check out their Flickr photostream. You can see how diverse the activities are. There is even a bad TV night on Saturday nights!

Long story short, these are just my first impressions but I’m planning to spend a WHOLE LOT of time in this place. I’m sure I will learn a ton of new stuff and have a lot of fun.

Resources

review, book, productivity, career comments edit

One of the challenges of being a software developer is keeping current. Technology moves so quickly that it’s very easy to feel overwhelmed. At times like this you can definitely use some productivity tips. This is how I landed on this book. It has productivity tips alright, but it has so much more to offer.

Soft Skills by John Sonmez

The software developer’s life manual

The subtitle explains it clearly in a few words. The book is not only about productivity but it encompasses all aspects of life. From money management to fitness, from career tips to handling failures it indeed proves to be a life manual.

This is unique book in the sense that it has sections about fitness and spirit. To be honest when I first started reading the book I was planning to skip those sections. But then it hit me: Most of the challenges I have to face are not technical. Technical problems are easy to solve especially in the age of Google and StackOverflow and all sorts of online resources. The real challenge is keeping the motivation up, staying healthy and fit (standard beer & pizza based diet of a developer doesn’t cut it) to increase productivity and overall success, managing your money wisely (which unfortunately means I shouldn’t buy every gadget I see!)

Structure of the book

The book is 504 pages and divided into 7 main sections:

  1. Career
  2. Marketing yourself
  3. Learning
  4. Productivity
  5. Financial
  6. Fitness
  7. Spirit

In the first 2 sections, you can find many helpful tips & tricks regardless you are an employee, freelancer or an entrepreneur. Apparently John Sonmez went through all these stages in his career so he knows what he is talking about.

As I mentioned keeping current is key in our industry and Section 3 addresses this need very effectively.

Since there is so much to learn time management becomes an issue on its own and that’s when you need to improve your productivity. You might not like some of the advice he gives (like quitting watching TV!) but deep inside you’d know he is right.

Money management is especially crucial if you are trying to run your own business. I don’t think finance is any developer’s strongest suit so this section is something to read twice for people like me!

I recently lost a lot of weight and now feel much better about myself. And better yet I feel a lot more productive. Physical fitness is very important. Since our job doesn’t force us to be fit it’s very easy and tempting to let it go. But the consequences are dire! So incorporating a healthy diet and exercise is extremely important to be successful. This section comes with a lot of great advice and techniques to address this.

There’s no way you can achieve any significant level of success if you are not mentally prepared for it. Final section of the book covers mind and soul. From handling relationships to getting back on horse after a failure, it comes with a lot of useful advice and references to good resources.

These 7 sections are divided into 71 chapters in total and they are very easy to read. Since it takes minutes to read each chapter I never had to put it away in the middle of a chapter.

About the author

I like and respect the author, John Sonmez, as he is very prolific and successful. So from the first page I knew for sure the information in the book is not theoretical or made up in any way. Even Uncle Bob’s prologue is an evidence that this guy is methodical, persistent and follows the plan until he achieves success. This is exactly the kind of person you would like to get career advice from!

Conclusion

Generally I find such books fluffy and stating the obvious but not this one because I know I’ve been following the author’s work quite some time now. I know he is very candid and sincere and so I know every word in the book is written by a developer who already had similar challenges and tackled them. Overall, this is definitely a great book to read and keep around for future reference.

Resources

events comments edit

I love podcasts as they help me to learn and keep current with the news during idle times. My favourite network is TWiT. They provide all sorts of shows from general tech news to specialized shows like Windows Weekly which focuses on Microsoft world.

A few days ago I received an email from the Windows Apps London meetup group (which made me feel good about my decision for joining) telling me that Mary Jo Foley will be in town and there will be a Windows Weekly live show. Needless to say, I signed up instantly!

I’ve been watching this show for more than 3 years so I exactly knew what to expect. But it’s still very exciting to see Mary Jo in person and being a part of the show. That pixelated being in the back is me:

Me in Windows Weekly

I’ve always considered Mary Jo to be a very kind and polite person and I still maintain that position. Even stronger after seeing how she treats everyone. She was always cheerful, up-beat and friendly all along.

Windows Weekly in London with Mary Jo Foley 1

Windows Weekly in London with Mary Jo Foley 2

A few notes

  • I always download the on-demand version and never watch live. I learned that apparently Leo is always late to the shows! It started 15 minutes late but Mary Jo was not surprised one bit!
  • There were Surface Pro 3s all around. I have never seen so many of them in one place at the same time actually. As a proud owner myself I felt validated :-)

Resources

personal, atheism comments edit

This blog is meant to be about my adventures in the techland but every now and then I like to post irrelevant stuff. I think such “off-topic” posts should be expected from a personal blog. As long as they are not link-baits, meaning they deliver what they promise, it shouldn’t be any problem as anyone can simply choose to ignore them. So having said that in this post I want to organize my thoughts on atheism and my reasons for being an atheist.

Which god to follow?

  • Fact: There are lots of religions all around the world (Check the resources section for the map and religious populations)
  • Fact: Almost all believers just follow their parents’ teachings and adopt their faith. That’s why generally countries follow the same religion as a mass.
  • Conclusion: Since religions reject the others’ deities they cannot be all correct. Therefore whether you follow the true faith is just pure luck! So say if Christianity is the correct one around 5 billion people in the world are headed in the wrong direction and gods seem to be fine with it!

Poor distribution mechanism

I have always had a problem with the way the religions were meant to spread (by religions I mean Christianity, Islam and Judaism). The method is God assigns one prophet to convert the entire planet. Mind you there was no Twitter to spread the word back then. No mass communication whatsoever. So every religion was bound to be local in the first place.

Millions ignored completely

What’s the fault of people who have never been sent a prophet? Aren’t we all equal in gods eyes? Seems like he doesn’t give a shit about some people at all. For example take ancient Inca or Aztec civilizations. These people lived and died without being sent a prophet. They practiced horrific human sacrifices to please their gods. I wonder how the god of Islam or Christianity could just allow such barbaric rituals and do nothing about them.

Age of the world: Thousands vs. billions

This alone should be proof enough but people just ignore what they don’t want to hear. Religions teach the earth is around 6000 years old but it’s been scientifically proven that the earth is 4.5 billions years old!

Need to explain the unexplained

We need to explain things. One way or another. If we don’t know the answer we make it up! Thousands of years ago people believed Thor was responsible for nature events such as thunder, lightning and storms. Today we clearly know better and can explain them scientifically without leaving a shred of doubt. So nobody today attributes such regular events to gods.

Today there are key questions still remain unanswered such as the origin of man and universe. There are some explanations but not quite solid so that’s where religions come out to play. Why do we need to attribute the creation of universe to a deity? It’s simply we don’t know the answer yet just like the old Norse failed to explain the creation of thunder. Centuries from now people will call today’s religions mythology just like we do to ancient Greek or Norse gods.

Free will

If we are all free to make our own decisions, then given there are billions of people, god cannot have a clue about what’s going to happen at any given time. And that defies being omnipotent. If god already knows everything that has ever happened and will ever happen then what’s the purpose of creating everything? It’s like writing a story then sitting down and reading it on your own.

Also I refuse to be treated like a lab rat. Created without consent and put to a ridiculous test where I’m threatened to burn in hell if I fail. I cannot understand anyone with some dignity can accept such a premise.

Why give Satan a chance?

The story is that Satan rebelled and God decided to give him a chance. I never understood why? Why not just smite him right there at that instant and keep everything in order? So if I don’t believe in god it’s believed that Satan succeeded but who’s fault is that? As I mentioned above god made a crappy job spreading his word. So he has no right to complain if someone doesn’t believe in him!

Conclusion

These are just some thoughts and questions that have always bugged me. I wanted to get it out of my system and write about them. They are in no particular order and other reasons can be added as well. Maybe in the future I can publish a sequel!

Resources

leisure, comedy, travel comments edit

Last year around this time I went to Ed Byrne’s show in Hammersmith as I reviewed here. The supporting act on that show was Ben Norris and recently I came across The Comedy Store and noticed he was taking the scene on Tuesday nights as part of The Cutting Edge show.

The Cutting Edge

I decided to pay a visit to see what’s it all about. The show is fun in general. The idea is 6 comedians take the stage. It involves some of their material but mostly it’s improvised. Every week the cast changes so it may be worth checking it out frequently.

I thought Ben Norris was a great comic but after seeing him twice in this club I think he’s not the right guy for improvisation. Still it’s a lot of fun and it’s definitely worth the money. They have several shows in the club so I just might be a regular!

leisure, travel comments edit

Last Saturday, I went to Palace of Westminster for the first time. I had been around it a lot of times while playing Ingress and chasing portals but never been inside it.

I bought an audio tour ticket here and it did not disappoint.

Palace of Westminster

The building looks glorious from the outside but from the inside it’s absolutely amazing. Definitely the most beautiful and impressive building I have ever seen in my life.

Resources