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31st May 2019
I'm writing the blog in English because I type twice as fast this way than in Russian (yes I am improving...), and 90% of my friends and : friends
read English any way. I answer comments in the same language they are posted.
I am trying not to post anything related to my employer, but if I do so, this expresses only my own views and does not represent an official position of my employer.
When I post about some technical topic which seems non trivial and is related to my employer's product, don't expect it to be inside information. If I post about it, it means that this info is already public. Usually I do not post any personal information or anything that is related to my family.
All photos are mine, and I allow anyone to copy, change, do anything you please with them. I don't post "friends only".
Useful tags are: software
and trip report
28th November 2013
SPS/Drives, on different ways of attracting visitors to booths [1/2]
I've just returned from SPS/Drives 2013, the factory machinery fair. :
There are not many women in our field, I would like the percentage of women in IT to be bigger. Even more so in factory machinery industry. So you may guess there were very few women within exhibitors and visitors. However, as at the most fairs, there were many women in the booths.
I decided that this time I will only make pictures of machinery. I realized that I should not support a practice of attracting visitors to the booth by hiring girls who dress in mini-skirts, etc.
When I approach a lady on the booth with a technical conversation, she always tells me that she will call an engineer. So it would be easier just to ask if I could speak with an engineer, except that it might happen that _she_ is an engineer. That would have been very embarrassing. You may argue that I should be able to tell an engineer from a girl hired to decorate a booth, but it is not always so. For example when I was watching this ( Read more...Collapse )
beer brewing imitation I was approached by a young lady who I thought was there for a show, but in fact she was an engineer!
24th November 2013
Money, am I overpaid?
I am reading an interesting article in "Elektronik" magazine. The title is "Gehaltsprognose Elektronikindustrie fuer 2014". Here is the data: :
H/w designer, 3+ years experience: 73-87k p.a.
S/w designer, 3+ years experience: 77-94k
Team lead: 88-108k
Team lead with project manager responsibilities: 113-142k
Technical marketing engineer, 4+ years experience: 104-128k
AI developer, 3+ year experience: 66-81k
Customer facing jobs:
Application engineer, 3+ year experience: 82-107k
Pre-sales engineer, 3+ years experience: 104-120k
Department manager: 181-224k
This data is useful for me, because when I was grepping local jobs web sites I had seen either jobs within 60-70k salary range, or those posted without any number. Now I can see that my current salary is within the typical range, and there should be many others like it on the market.
19th November 2013
A new book by karial —
Those who design embedded systems without implementing a watchdog should be sentenced to eternal porting of : Toyota Camry ETSC code
to an obscure programming language
My entertainment system was down throughout 12 hour flight home, it was showing this picture and was not reacting to input. So I took some time to re-read "Up" on this flight, and compared it with "Reaching the moon". Both books were written by karial —
The books contain tons of useful advises on building a management career, but not only that. The content is fully applicable for those who pursue an engineering career in organizations which have a technical career ladder (e.g. distinguished engineer/technical fellow at MSFT or principal engineer/fellow at INTC). So I have recommended both books to my mentee, an experienced Russian speaking engineer who had only recently started his career in a multinational company. Both books have big sections describing specifics related to women in management. It makes it all even more interesting for women, and could help men to get some insight about what could be relevant for their female peers.
Second book seems to contain a bit more specific advises on some difficult topics like counteroffers, receiving negative annual review, promoting a project that has many stakeholders from different org functions, etc. There are also a few things that make the second book different. One of them is that the first book was assuming that the reader is pursuing a management career in a big public company with a corporate culture that promotes leadership development and meritocracy. In the second book, there are five references to other "organizations with bad org culture and nepotism", where the advises from the book do not fully apply. I think it is not all black and white, there is a continuum here, plus different division of the same company may have different levels of meritocracy/nepotism.
I think these references to "bad" organizations came in light because some Russian speaking readers wrote LJ comments on how advises from the first book do not work in some big Russian companies. I also have a feeling that some of the topics for the second book were inspired by questions that were asked in LJ and Facebook comments. Inna is very open to discussion, and she is probably the only CxO level executive who often gives readers very good personal advice in her LJ and facebook group (but the question has to be clear, concise and interesting for the audience, or else the answer could be "You are in a hot air balloon").
Both books differ from american books of the same genre. A story in a typical american book evolves around two or three ideas, going all around them, studying them inside out with plenty of examples and anecdotes. Inna's books are not short of anecdotes and real life examples, but they lack a single recurring theme. I like it more this way: when reading an american book I always have an urge to jump from third chapter to the last.
Actually there was a kind of recurring theme: you have to be positive(without exceptions) and proactive(but do not step to other's turf!), and your boss is probably right(even if you think he is wrong). In a trade off between subjective idealism of positive thinking and vulgar materialism of engineering culture the author clearly leans towards positive thinking. As a manager is acting through people, I guess making focus on subjective things makes sense. As an engineer I don't like it, but I should use the tool that works, and this seems to work.
Just to mix the positive image of modern public companies with a bit of sad reality, I highly recommend a brilliant series by _mak_ —
. Or this one
. Dilbert would work too.
15th November 2013
When freediving, one has to move the limbs slowly and placidly to conserve oxygen in the muscles. :
It is even more important when flying through a kelp forest - or else it is easy to get entangled. Just in case, I was still setting aside ~30 seconds on every dive.
The colors are blue, all shades of green and red.( Read more...Collapse )
So it is more fun than in real forest (and I am a very big fan of walking in forests)
Tropical seas are the brightest of course, but kelp forests are not far behind.( Read more...Collapse )
Individual kelp plants are more sophisticated than most corals.( Read more...Collapse )
11th November 2013
Underwater, LA. Bluff cove, sharks.
I am in LA until this Friday, attending a conference. This is the first time at this conference when my presentation was ready one month in advance (thanks a lot organizers!). So I had more time to prepare for a freediving trip I planned for this Sunday. :
These days the waters of Pacific near LA are extremely calm:
The ocean waves are coming from south, so to make it even better I selected north facing beaches for our trip: Malaga cove and Bluff cove. Now I recommend Bluff cove, my experience shows that it is reasonably safe to ignore danger signs there.
In Bluff cove, there are two juvenile sharks (each about 1 meter long) hunting on a sand bank.
They were very afraid of me and it took me some time to take a picture where they are somewhat visible. Now I am processing other photos. I have a lot of time in early morning because of a jet lag :)
7th November 2013
Train to Venice, on connecting Germany and Italy.
The daily train from Munich to Venice passes Brenner, the point where Austrian Tirol borders Italian Tirol. :
The Italian side is sunny, and Austrian is a bit gloomy.( Read more...Collapse )
But still beautiful.
There is another change that is very noticeable when crossing the border... We were in a dining car when the train was passing Brenner, and a waiter told us:
"Sorry, no hot meals or tea any more. We don't have electricity now. It works fine all the way through Germany and Austria, but almost always stops working in Italia. They have a technical problem and they should investigate it. You know these Italians, it is their fault."
A German lady sitting next to us said quietly after the waitress left: "The right German way is to notice that the problem is reproducible, find a root cause of it and fix it, not to blame Italians".
5th November 2013
Tie the camel AND have تَوَكُل
As a mentor, I was suggesting a mentee (a good and experienced engineer, but he does not have prior exposure to american corporate culture) what phrases he could use in an annual performance review discussion. :
The weird thing is that I rarely use this advice myself, though there is nothing wrong with it, quite the opposite. I should not rely on إن شاءالله (Авось
Also interesting I have this pic of a Bedouin tying his camel in my picasa album.
2nd November 2013
Merging MacOS X and iOS
Many have seen Samsung Android vs Apple iOS mobiles commercials by Samsung. In those commercials, Samsung is showing how the OS allowing multitasking is better than the single task OS. I guess Cupertino geniuses disagree, and they think that it is multitasking that prevents them from winning the same market share in desktop/laptop that they enjoy in smartphones. So several years ago they decided to make MacOS X single task OS too. :
This is how it works: I have an Eclipse IDE on a big monitor, and a web browser on a laptop screen. Once I click full screen on a youtube clip in a web browser, the IDE on a big screen is replaced with a grey background. Why? Because Apple designers think that using a big $1000 monitor to display grey background improves my user experience. Proof? The thread
discusses this "feature" in details, it started more than two years ago and is still active. It shows how Apple made this "user experience improvement" when moving from Snow Leopard to Lion, kept this "feature" in Mountain Lion, and after many requests nearly fixed it in Mavericks.
1st November 2013
During last 4 years I was working mostly on embedded projects in cooperation with customers in industrial, energy and telecom areas. There were no revolutionary technical changes recently, but now the field has a new name: Internet Of Things - Smart Factory, Smart Energy and Smart City. This is 146% cooler than embedded! Of course this magic of renaming somehow fails at engineers, but works fine for most managers and even better for marketing folks.
30th October 2013
Most of the people you see in Venice are tourists. What do they do there? :
Most of the tourists eventually come to St Mark's Square.
And take a pic or two with pigeons :)
Most tourists (including myself) are running around with cameras and are constantly taking pictures.( Read more...Collapse )
The only thing I don't like about it is that many use flash... On distant objects or landscapes :)
When tourists get thirsty, they buy a bottle of water on the street (expensive!)( Read more...Collapse )
or find some smaller square with a public drinking fountain.
As a normal European country, Venice is gay-friendly. Don't open the following cut if you are in Russia, it may be illegal there (propaganda?).( Read more...Collapse )
Also it may be not safe for work.
Sometimes it is not very easy to tell tourists from locals.( Read more...Collapse )
I reckon the girls are not tourists, or are they?
These two are probably tourists.( Read more...Collapse )
And those most certainly are locals.( Read more...Collapse )
When the visit is over, the tourists rush to high speed trains.( Read more...Collapse )
Unfortunately there is no high speed train that goes north through the Alps. Venice to Rome and Venice to Munich are both 530km, but it takes 3.5 hours on a train to Rome and 7 to Munich.
29th October 2013
My precccccious, part 2
I've just received a CPU I ordered from Amazon, I need it for work. :
Of course I have plenty of HSW CPUs in my lab, but they are all higher end, and I needed exactly this one. Why? Unfortunately I cannot explain here yet, but I can confess it is because this particular SKU is cool :) (in a very special way)
I have many, really many different CPUs of any kind. But I never see boxed CPUs because of an obvious reason. So I enjoyed unpacking e.g. the sticky tape "factory packed" that can only be opened once. That is clever! Alas, this CPU box does not include an Intel logo sound like some other products (NUC
28th October 2013
Design Thinking vs TRIZ
Am I the only one thinking that : ТРИЗ
(or even it's simplified version SIT
) are so much better formal frameworks of solving engineering design issues than Design thinking
If I ask my colleagues, everyone now are fond of design thinking. Is it because of IDEO's better PR, because Design Thinking is really superior, or it is just a cultural thing (I prefer the methodology with Russian origin over the one invented in US)?
I think it is impossible to quantify the difference, as a fair shootout should involve equally good teams solving same problems using two methodologies, and how do you form perfectly equal teams?
26th October 2013
The only animal we saw in Venice was this rabbit. :
(click for the full size)
We were the only guests in a big hotel in Treporti (it's low season now). So the hotel's big garden with a private beach, the rabbit, swans, mandarin ducks, pine cones with fresh nuts falling from the trees and honey mushrooms growing in the park were all there for us.
24th October 2013
Trip report: Venice [1/2] - canals
Just returned from Venice. My mom came over from Russia, spent some time with her friends in Reinland and northern Germany and then we went for a short trip to Venice. (It is her first visit to the western Europe so we wanted to show her some other country besides Germany.) :
I read several times that it is very easy to make a nice pice in Venice. The safest bet is to shoot a view to any canal, provided that there is enough light. Indeed it turned out to be too easy to spot an image that is not too bad.
All stains and imperfections only improve the image.
Some times it is a bit difficult to decide which buildings are vertical.( Read more...Collapse )
The belltowers are always vertical, right?
Or are they not?( Read more...Collapse )
A view from a gondola is not very special.( Read more...Collapse )
Gondola does not add any magic - views from public Vaporetto buses are the same.
And the last pic in the post is the most famous pic of a canal that 99.9% of the tourists take:( Read more...Collapse )
20th October 2013
Red breasted branta
Yesterday I have spotted a guest from Taymyr peninsula. :
According to wiki, red breasted goose
is a rare vagrant to western European areas, where it is sometimes found with flocks of Brent or Barnacle Geese.
16th October 2013
Usually I get dev platforms early and do not have any special feelings about them, but : this
is an exception.
Unfortunately to make use of it I will have to buy a 3.5mm serial connector (or to scavenge a cheap headphones and solder).
11th October 2013
They are after me. Aaaa!
Today I finally got a US visa, the administrative processing have taken less than 2 months. I was happily approaching my home, when I had seen a familiar logo. This one: :
It was on a car. A car with a US license plate. Parked one block away from my home. A big american car that looked alien when standing in a row with smarts, toyota aygo, nissan micro, etc. It was too dark for a pic...
Obviously they were not after me or not after anybody, just strange. It is like seeing a car here with a Russian license plate and the FSB logo...
CV before CV [3/3]
This is the last post of my CV before CV series. : Here
was the previous part.
Fidonet and Internet were like Spectrum and PC for me: I started using Internet in 1997 but kept using Fidonet until 2001, because of a huge cost advantage and unique content in Russian fidonet newsgroups. Internet was very expensive, so I did not have a reliable access until I started my first year in the University. So here comes the hacking part. People usually start hacking when they enter a university. I was an exception - I stopped hacking after I moved to Nizhny to study.
I was never a part of any hacker team, but some of my acquaintances got busted for hacking after I left my home town. When I elevated privileges or obtained access to systems I never changed anything or defaced. I am very proud that I declined all criminal related offers to help with computers I received (not many any way).
Once in 1998 I found a system on my ISP's internal network with an open telnet access. That was a Sparc/Solaris box. My normal internet login and password was sufficient to get a user shell (NIS, lamers!). After exploring the file system, I found an old version of quake 1 SUID binary in /usr/local/quake-1. There were many known exploits for q1 like for example this one
. That was really tempting... But I did not hack it. There was a friend watching over my console when I was typing, and after I had a proof the system was exploitable I lied to him that I am not able to proceed.
There were two sides of hacking - getting net access and cracking windows applications. For the latter, I was using a Soft Ice (keywords: Mitino, gorbushka). I thought "I am not a script kiddie, I am 1ee7", but script kiddie I was. I stopped hacking at a right time - the agency
got stronger even in our town, and there was free internet in the Uni (limited in the labs and there was a special Internet center
- thank you Soros!)
I moved to Nizhny to study at NNSU
, Radiophysics faculty. I wanted to study at VMK, but I checked the computer classes and it was much better at RF than at VMK - e.g. RF was using Linux, BSD and OS/2, and VMK was a windoze shop :)
In Nizhny I assembled a 486DX based box with 16M RAM from spare parts I'd collected when helping ppl with fixes/upgrades. I only had to buy a keyboard, a mouse and a CD-ROM drive, and to install dual boot of Slackware Linux and Windows 95. Using that box and internet access in the uni I wrote my first app that I was trying to sell as shareware. A free version is still online
, and has my name on it. Weird. I was trying to sell this app for $9.99 and I am still wondering why 1 (one) person had bought it. However this app really helped me to get a full time job at Mera
. In 1999 it was a small outsourcing company, doing several telco projects for now defunct Nortel.
The rest is in my real CV - a linkedin profile
8th October 2013
Penny bun season
To whom it may concern, :
today and tomorrow are especially good days to pick penny buns
in the forests around Munich.
Yesterday I brought some home. They are all small, so today and tomorrow, when they grow a bit bigger, are the best days for picking.( Read more...Collapse )
All I could get in 20 minutes, and there are many more in the forest, and nobody is picking... Ppl prefer to pay 30E/kg in a supermarket. So essentially I was earning ~70 euro per hour in the forest, that is more than my brutto rate :)
Boleto is a diverse family, so don't pick anything like this:( Read more...Collapse )
3rd October 2013
A public holiday today.
Yesterday during lunch a German colleague asked me what I am going to do this Thursday. I answered: working as usual. Why? Because tomorrow is a public holiday, don't you know? :
I did not. So I planned 2 days to prepare some stuff for a customer visit I'll have on Friday. (I am going to take a train at 5AM, so it is not practical to get to the office first). Intel office is closed on public holidays, no way to get in. So I took home some of my stuff from my lab and working on it now:
This is an old board (from late 2012), I would not get any pre-production board out of the building unless I have all the paperwork done right.
1st October 2013
CV before CV [2/3]
In the : previous post
I've described how I was programming before I had an access to a PC. Of course, PC did not replace Speccy instantly, at least for me. I could use Speccy almost 24x7 (sometimes I skipped school if I wanted to), and my exposure to PC was very limited in the beginning.
In 1991, I had a chance to play Prince on IBM-XT for 20 minutes :) In 1992 I seen a video clip from Dune 2 in Moscow "Mir knigi" shop. That was fascinating! Also my school got a class of twelve IBM PS/2
, connected on a NetWare network. Of course, in 1991 when they were brand new only high school students had the access, and I was a lot younger. But I quickly managed to get a chance to use them after I had demonstrated that I know the basics of Pascal.
So the following few years (until high school) had been a Pascal era for me. Switching to Pascal from Speccy BASIC/asm was a huge change. Since that time I really appreciate strong/static typing. For a messy person like myself, this is a true bless!
However I did not develop anything but rather I was solving programming Olympiads puzzles during that time at school. Then my father bought a 80286 computer with 1MB of RAM and I could use it for about 1-2 hours per day. Not too fancy but with 270MB hard drive we had plenty of space. So I installed Turbo C and had learned the language.
Few years passed, I had been winning 2nd and 3rd places at the regional programming Olympics, but I never went to the national contest (there was funding only for a guy who won the 1st place)
It became more interesting during my last 3 years at the school (1996-1998). I learned C++, Forth, PL/1(but did not like it), installed Linux on our new AMD K5/8MB, got to semi-finals in a city wide Warcraft 2 tournament, and became a Fidonet node (2:5066/44). I was earning some money helping in fixing PCs, but PC upgrades were still far beyond my budget so I spent everything on programming books and CDs with pirated software.
During that time I developed a lot of code and built some confidence and understanding of project sizes I can handle on my own. I developed three major projects: a handwriting recognition app (in C, second place at a national contest), an app solving simple school physics problems (2nd place at a regional contest) and then a simple logical inference system (in Java, and it crashed when I was demoing it at a national contest'1998).
This post became too long so I'll write about Uni, internet and hacking in the next one
23rd September 2013
CV before CV [1/3]
My official CV starts with a first full time programming job I got in November 1999. My first task was to develop a patch for a back end of GCC 2.7 to make it generate code for a custom embedded board based on a derivative of m68k. My salary was $200net/mo, which was kind of cool at that time and place... :
But I had been programming for 10 years already, and sometimes even earned some money (but cash flow was negative). My story is quite typical for my generation, and some of my traits as a s/w developer have deep roots in programming for 8 bit home PCs of 80-s.
When I was 8 we got a first Moldavian home computer. Moldavian, no kidding!
I quickly learned BASIC and developed a game with simple graphics, about 400LOC. I tried learning 8080 assembly but did not understand anything. Lesson learned:
Dijkstra was right about mental mutilation beyond hope of regeneration - since that time I still spend too much time debugging and too little time thinking.
Two years passed, and it appeared that a lot of my schoolmates have a Spectrum48k (and some even 128k, but they were a posh minority). We lived in a neighborhood that was built for engineers and workers of an electronics plant (the one that was producing avionics for MiG fighter jets). ZX Spectrum (the "Delta-S" modification) was its consumer targeted product :) I quickly developed one of the biggest collection of pirated games in our school. (Thanks a lot Bill Gilbert and his friends!) Lesson learned:
an ecosystem is as important as platform features.
There were so many games on my audio-cassettes that I actually did not write anything interesting on my own at that time. Instead I was spending a lot of time reverse engineering and tweaking other's code. So I mastered BASIC and became more familiar with Z80 assembler. Lesson learned:
since that time I like reverse engineering and reading big blobs of source code.
In 1992 my Spectrum went through upgrades: the first was a floppy drive that could read and write 5 inch disks, SD (360KB). The second upgrade was a sound card - Yamaha AY-3-8912
. I bought it because it was very cheap, and some newer games that were developed for 128K RAM could run in 48K if there is a sound card and floppy drive. I wished I could do a real upgrade to 128K but that was too expensive. Lesson learned:
IO performance is more important than memory and CPU performance.
Upgrading from cassettes player to floppy was the most life-changing upgrade I ever had. Here is why: every summer I spent in Sergeevka village with my grandparents. I tried getting my computer there, but it did not quite work. The mains voltage was fluctuating in 170V-250V range, and saving/loading with a cassette recorder was usually impossible. Same with disk actually, but it only takes few seconds to write 10K to floppy disk so chances were usually high. Lesson learned:
that summers taught me to concentrate despite stress and noise and to backup often.
In early/mid-90s PC era had began in our town (more on that in the next post