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Lakes of Smolensk region

February 3, 2016 Leave a comment

Smolensk is a long way from any sea or ocean but we’ve got a bunch of lakes here. Some are small, others are very small, there’s a few relatively big ones. Non are too big though. Big here means like a few kilometres across.

But again, those are all relative terms. When I was a kid and was for the first time taken to the Spring Lake in Red Forest I thought it was big, there’s an island in the middle. It’s not really a lake but a pond. I imagine it used to be a swamp with a bunch of springs and they just put a dam in there and it filled up with water. The lake’s deep near the dam but on the other side of the island it’s so shallow you can walk across it.

My parents also took me to the so called Curved Lake. It’s also in Red Forest, only on the other side of the highway, closer to the Dnieper. During high water it actually becomes part of the Dnieper.

As I got older, we started going to other lakes, bigger and father away, like Quarries Lake in Olshya. There’s no real public transport there so the only way to get there is by car. It’s not really that big, but is considerably bigger than any of the lakes closer to the city.. And it’s deep too, sort of. Kasplya is even bigger and father but it’s kind of shallow, although the lake itself is fairly large and quite picturesque. It’s pretty old too, dating back to the last ice age.

Last but not least is Kuprino. We searched for it several years, never managing to find it but last year we did find it at last. It’s not really a lake but rather a large swamp. Most of it is overgrown with all sorts of vegetation and it’s really shallow, a paradise for duck hunters and fishing enthusiasts. There’s lots of all forms of life there and it’s fairly large too, but you can’t really swim in it.

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Categories: Uncategorized

The move

February 2, 2016 Leave a comment

It was a relatively long time ago but I’ve always wanted to write about it.

My parents and I were living in this old apartment. It wasn’t particularly good, for example my room’s window looked out onto the street that had gotten quite busy lately, to the point where it was becoming uncomfortable. I started waking up because of the noise of the vehicles passing right in front of my window. I ended up getting a new plastic window. It cut down on the noise somewhat but still whenever a large truck would craw past, it felt like a minor earthquake.

One day these real estate agents turned up on our doorstep and said they had a guy who wanted to buy our apartment and converted it into a shop of some sort. My mom was against it but my dad and I were all for it. That guy then disappeared but the real estate guys hung around, the whole thing went on for almost two years and eventually they did find this other guy who bought our apartment and they also found us a different place.

Anyway the point is that for over a year we knew we would eventually move out of that old place and I remember how, whenever I’d be coming back to that old apartment I would imagine that we’d already moved and that I was only going back there because I’d forgotten we’d moved. It was just this weird game I played, because I thought I’d feel nostalgic about it. The thing is, though, that after we moved I never really felt particularly nostalgic about that old apartment until very recently when I had a dream about it, but again it wasn’t nostalgia for the apartment but rather for an earlier, somewhat happier time in my life when I was younger and more carefree.

Life is weird that way.

Categories: Uncategorized

Dream

January 20, 2016 Leave a comment

I had this dream during the day today.

I had to get up really early to do some work remotely.

I did some of it, made a phone call to talk about what to do next. once I knew that I figured I could have a nap for 30 minutes or an hour so I went to bed. I drifted off pretty quickly as I was sleepy.

It was one of those semi lucid dreams – I kind of knew I was sleeping, I also knew I had to get up soon to carry on with the work I took a break from, but in the dream I was in my old apartment, the one I grew up in with my parents and it was dark outside. I went into the kitchen as I wanted to eat something, there was our old fridge there and I opened it. I don’t remember what I got out of there. I remember, though, that I was surprised by how dark it was outside, I looked at my phone and saw it was 11.30 am so I figured it had to be light outside already, were we in the north or something, then I leaned over the table to look out of the window and looked to where I knew was south and saw the sky was light there.

It was a weird dream, it must have been the first time I’ve dreamed about our old apartment.

Categories: Uncategorized

do we need yet another programming language?

It’s a rhetorical question in the title, of course but it’s not rhetorical in the sense that I know the answer to it, rather, it’s the opposite. 

This post is my delayed reaction to Apple’s recent release of Swift, a new corporate backed programming language that seeks to make programming for OS X and iOS easier and more accessible to newbies throuhg more consistent syntax. 

Of course Objective C is old and weird and what not, but still, I can’t help but wonder whether yet another programming language is really what is needed today given the plethora of programming languages we’re already swamped in. 

Swift may be a conceptually beautiful language and what not, but so was Java, supposedly, when it was first introduced. Then it evolved, accumulating features atop features and got kind of ugly and verbose. But I digress. 

Perhaps it’s silly but I sometimes wonder if it wouldn’t be really nice if there was just one programming language supported across all platforms and acrhitectures and if it was the only language you had to learn if you wanted to get into programming. It would probably have to be a lisp – homoiconic and highly extensible as it would have to be a Jack of all trades. 

And as for Swift, from the bits and pieces I read about it on the Internet it sounds very nice and all, however, it does feel like an attempt by Apple to tie down developers, sort of. Swift is bound to be more fun to code in than Java, because Java is old and bloated and Swift is new and hip. 

Should perhaps Google have gone with their own custom designed language when they rolled out Android? Although, they were probably using a different strategy, hoping to lure existing Java developers to the Android platform in which they seem to have succeeded nicely so far, despite the fact that from my own experience Android is a major pain in the ass to write native apps for. I have no experience with XCode but I assume it can’t possibly be worse than the mess that is Android SDK that looks like it’s been thrown together by a bunch of nihilist undergrads to get a credit.

Whatever, at the end of the day, the more programming languages the merrier, although it also means you end up with more mess all around than you could ever have thought possible. 

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Telecommuting

It looks like everybody has broadband Internet at home these days.

It’s definitely a good thing. However, what I can’t understand in this age of broadband Internent we’re living in today is why so many people still commute to and from the office every day.

I mean, I can understand when it’s some kind of a manufacturing facility where people need to be physically present to oversee the process or even to manually assemble something. There are still plenty of operations like that out there, especially in Russia. But why do office workers still keep sitting in traffic jams every morning and every evening after work? All those sales reps and accountants, why drag them all the way to the office if in today’s connected world they could do their jobs just as well from home or from some cafe that has wi-fi?

The recent leaps and bounds advances in cloud computing mean that these days even the traditional popular ‘tried-and-true’ ERP solutions, like those based on 1C Enterprise are now available in the cloud as a service. You no longer have to buy them, you can pay a monthly subscription fee and have your accountant do everything from home.

The only explanation for this phenomenon I can think of is inertia. People are simply doing what they’ve been doing for years. Technology pulled ahead too fast and most people can’t really appreciate the full potential of cloud computing yet.

In this situation, I think boot-strapped start-ups can really take advantage of cloud computing and achieve savings by dramatically cutting down on office space. Governments are talking about supporting small business by building start-up farms but seriously who needs those farms if you can do everything from home or from wherever you want to be, staying in touch with your colleagues via skype?

People, seriously, the fruit of cloud computing is ripe and hanging really low, all you need to do now is pluck it – ditch that expensive office space, slash your prices and run your competition into the ground, or at least out of their offices. And the best thing about it is that by doing this you’ll also be helping to save the planet because telecomuters don’t drive cars as much.

the savings bank

March 13, 2012 Leave a comment

I used to have an account at the Savings Bank of Russia, actually I probably still do have that account, I never closed it, it’s just that I haven’t used it in quite a while. For some reason I thought about how it used to be with that account. It was an old style bank account, no plastic card no nothing. I was given a small account book and whenever I wanted to draw money from it I had to go to a Savings Bank office, give my passport and my account book to the teller and tell them how much money I needed, they would enter the transaction on the computer, then given me back my passport and pass my account book to the cashier, I would then be given a plastic or wooden token which I had to take to the cash booth, I would go in there and give the token to the cashier and the cashier would then give me the cash and my account book.

It was a long process. It used to take me between fifteen minutes and one hour to get cash from my account.

These days I carry a plastic card and I either pay for stuff using the card or when I need cash I find an ATM and withdraw as much cash as a need within minutes.

Somehow today I caught myself feeling nostalgic about that old Savings Bank account of mine. Probably because when I first opened it back in 2005 I was a happier person than I am now. 

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the clock

February 16, 2012 Leave a comment

It’s strange how our mind works. This time last year we’d just had our car for a couple of months and we’d take it out to just drive around the city. We’d go to a cafe and it wasn’t the Double Sun every time. Often it was that Russian themed joint in the former R&D canteen. And back then it was almost invariably to Thom Yorke that we drove. Now whenever I hear songs like the Clock or Analyse and I close my eyes I see myself in that old clunker driving along a night winter street and listening to Thom Yorke.

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