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31st May 2019

10:08am: This blog
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 , idea , Deutschland, freediving and trip report

24th December 2014

10:31am: My Christmas gift to myself
I am playing with a nice piece of h/w I've just bought on ebay.

Any guess what is it? Very well engineered and built piece of electronics. Full pic under the cut
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23rd December 2014

12:44pm: How not to report errors
Several days ago I wanted to send flowers to my mother's birthday party in Russia. I did that before, and used, it worked for me well couple of years ago.

So I tried again, and this time it did not quite work. Here is the flow:

me: ordered flowers, entered my credit card for a payment web site: your order is good, payment ok. Got confirmation email. human support: sorry your payment failed, could you enter your credit card again, please.
me: enter credit card, it did not work. Entered another one, the site confirmed the payment sent me an automated message that my order is cancelled.
me: ordered again, entered my credit card for a payment web site: your order is good, payment ok. Got confirmation email. sent me an automated message that my order is cancelled. No explanation or anything.
me: I googled: " competitors", and the very first link was an interview with the company founder and CEO, where he talks about how his company is better than the biggest competitor:
me: Order at, all works.

Sure issues with payment processing is not their fault, but the way their web platform treats these failures is.

15th December 2014

10:25pm: Uptime: 31h30m
My wearable Linux development box

works for 31.5 hours from an 1ah battery and weights just a few grams (not counting the battery).

Some may say that it is limited because there is no screen connection, but I work in a command prompt any way, and my mobile have a good screen that ssh/vnc to an Edison box that fits in my pocket.

14th December 2014

7:23pm: Fuflomicin
My mother in law sent us a pack of Russian made medicines. Some of them are familiar and useful, and some items were new to me. One was especially recommended to us so we can treat viruses that cause common cold.

So I started research. First thing I did I read the manual carefully. According to it, the medicine is over the counter, does not have any severe side effects, and it effectively treats common cold, gastritis and hemorrhoid. (I am NOT kidding!) Then I googled the active ingredient, and found that in western pharma, it was only mentioned once, in a study to see if it helps to treat breast cancer (unsuccessfully). There is a wikipedia page, but only in Russian. Then I googled for any scientific articles in Russian, and found many. All of those were identical: we gave X0 patients this thing, and they felt better. WTF? Don't they do double blind studies in Russia? It was not the only medicine with this common Russian-science only trait that came in the parcel..

Or may be if there is no double blind experiments conducted but only simple ones, it can still be sort of evidence (though weaker) that that stuff can really help?

29th November 2014

11:09am: [memory location]++ that takes ~10us on x86
Here is teh code
static unsigned char array[128];
void main()
    for (i = 0; i < 64; i++) if ((int)(array + i) % 64 == 63) break;
    lock = (unsigned int*)(array + i);
    for (i = 0; i < 1024; i++) *(lock)++; // prime
    // TSC1
    for (i = 0; i < 1024*8; i++)
       asm volatile (
        "lock xaddl %1, (%0)\n"
        : // no output
        : "r" (lock), "r" (1));
    // TSC2
    printf(" %i\n", (TSC2-TSC1)/1024*8);

Normal memory increment never takes more than couple of hundreds nanoseconds. Unless it is a locked cache line split increment. Good catch, obvious reasons.

25th November 2014

11:00am: Programming geniuses
Like 90% of software engineers, I think that I am a better coder than 90% of programmers. This bias is very well known and is described in many sources. It is based on the fact that when I compare myself with another programmer, and if the difference is not overwhelming, I tend to ignore the facts that supports his superiority and focus on areas where I am better. It only does not work when this other programmer is obviously unprofessional, or when he is so much better than me that there is no point to argue.

In the latter case I call better programmer "a genius", simply because losing to a genius is not so bitter. During my career (15 years employed as full time programmer), I've met less than 10 "geniuses". I met a first "genius" in a University. We were studying together, and his nickname was, well, "genius". I mean ppl really called him "the genius" rather than "Max".

Why I think he had super-natural programming abilities? Once during summer 2000, we worked as part time teachers/kind of scouting leaders ("вожатые") in a summer camp for school kids who did very well in physics/math. We had a couple of old PCs but no games. So Max did the following: during one night (from ca 9PM till 8AM) he developed in Pascal a multiplayer game from scratch, including a device driver for keyboard that supported 4 ppl playing simultaneously and added quirks to graphic driver. He confessed that the game he developed earlier though, but just recalled the full text source and debugged during these hours... Anybody can repeat that?

I wish I could find "the genius" in linkedin, but I can't recall his last name.

13th November 2014

12:40pm: yet another devkit article
Just posted an article about Intel IOT devkit. I think it is the most fair subjective view on it from the development team available online, good it is in Russian and I can always blame google translate if my colleagues read it :)

27th October 2014

11:35am: Locks on boards
Recently we gave away ~100 Galileo gen2 and ~100 Edison+Arduino boards to developers. The default login was
root, no password.

I was watching carefully as people started working with their boards, to see if they change the password. About 50% did. What were the rest thinking? They were all on the same class C network, so anybody could log in to anybody's board. Even by mistake. Then I realized that the rest don't know "passwd" command :)

20th October 2014

9:46am: Munich IoT hackathon over.
1. I was working whole weekend again.

Julia did not like it, despite days off this week.

2. Was glad to see that with ~10% of participants and with ~20% of those who finally built things I could speak Russian.

3. Bugz!!!

16th October 2014

1:38pm: Trip report: Rome
I spent almost five days in Rome recently.

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picasa album

13th October 2014

2:55pm: Little adventure in Rome [2/2]
In the previous post, I've wrote how plans do not quite work with reality. If it started this way, the spiral never goes back on track.

Here is the plan (P), and the reality (R).
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2nd October 2014

4:30pm: Little adventure in Rome [1/2]
The robot movie was shot in a controlled environment. Now I've taken it to Maker Faire Rome to be shown on stage and at a booth.

Here is the plan (P), and the reality (R).
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1st October 2014

10:16pm: Robotino "Waiter"
Some of the stuff I was working on recently in a professional video:

Going to show it tomorrow in Rome if it works (was broken in transit).

23rd September 2014

12:47pm: Hackathon invite
If anybody would like to develop an IoT app on Saturday/Sunday October 18th in Munich, and take home some cool h/w you'll be using for building this stuff,

you may register at the link.
I'll be there most of the time.

9th September 2014

8:15pm: Business trips
I was trying hard not to fly anywhere this year, and managed to collect 5x less miles than usual.
Instead I have a pleasure to stare at moon at least twice every night.

But now in the following weeks I'll have to make couple of trips I could not avoid: to Amsterdam, Rome, Nurenberg, Dusseldorf.

3rd September 2014

2:12pm: Another job in our team
Go to Intel jobs web site, and search for job #741414.

Possible locations: Munich, Paris, London, Stockholm.

2nd September 2014

5:30pm: Galileo gen 1 and gen 2
The best in depth explanation of the technical differences between Intel Galileo gen 1 and gen2

is located not at the official web site, but here. The official web site contains schematics, datasheets, etc, but it is too boring.

30th August 2014

2:09pm: German permanent residence rules changes
When we came to Germany, it was possible to receive permanent residence on the spot as a "highly qualified professional", if one of the conditions was true:
1. "Scientist with exceptional skills",
2. "[University] Teachers in prominent positions or scientific personnel in prominent positions".
3. "Specialists and executives with special professional experience who receive a salary of at least twice the earnings ceiling of the private health insurance eligibility."
My case was #3, so I got permanent residence on the spot, I did not have to wait for 5 years like most of work visa holders.
In a few months after our arrival, the rule #3 was changed to:
"Specialists and executives with special professional experience who receive a salary of at least the income threshold of the general pension". That is a very relaxed requirement, so I thought that any programmer could get a permanent residence on arrival. So I was telling that to those who asked me about permanent residence rules.

Recently I was asked this question again, and found that the rules had changed in August 2012. No more rule #3 in §19. Alas, no easy way any more, unless you are an exceptional scientist. However around the same time they made it easier to get a temporary residence by relaxing market check rules.

18th August 2014

11:47am: Propaganda gomoseksualizma sredi molodezhi
I was re-reading Vorkosigan Saga in a train, and noticed that in one of the books, Ms Bujold mentioned that Aral Vorkosigan was bi-sexual, with strong preference for homosexuality. Unlike prof Dumbledore, who was gay according to Ms Rowling interview and some hints in the text, the case of Aral Vorkosigan was clearly explained by a character (Cordelia Vorkosigan) in the book. I guess Vorkosigan saga must be banned or even burned in Russia according to a new legislation...

And some more news relevant for the topic, directly from "Bezdukhovnaya Geiropa". We've just received another piece of comms from the state of Germany. From an almighty Juegentamt, to be precise. They remind us (parents) that when Jacob turns roughly fourteen, we should make sure he is well understood by his parents if he decides to be gay. O tempora, o mores!

13th August 2014

4:28pm: l33t $pe5k
Any big organization develops its lingo. I won't go down listing the words I use at work that nobody else understands. But few seconds ago on a call with customer I've heard my colleague used an interesting phrase:

"Our team spends many clock cycles on ..." May be the engineers on customer side have caught the metaphor. I guess rather not. My colleague implied that the brains of our engineers work like CPUs, and particular task gets scheduled to run for a fair amount of time to get some CPU cycles spent on running its instructions :)

6th August 2014

5:20pm: Taxman calls
Jacob just got a mail addressed to him - his first ever! I expected that he will get a health insurance card, but tax office works really fast!

The letter states: Dear Jacob Komarov, you've been assigned a taxpayer number. When paying taxes or writing to us, please state this number.

Paying taxes - pretty tough for a 7 weeks old boy, yeah?

30th July 2014

3:42pm: web 2.0 marketing
We are trying to buy something on amazon, as we often do. I am reading reviews now. There are three top brands - A, B, and C. When I read a bad review of A, italways mentions that B and C are so much better. Ditto on B and C. I bet these reviewers are paid by ABC. Or aren't they?

Any way, some reviews are funny, this one demonstrates how Russian words come into German language. Or does it?

29th July 2014

10:29am: Development
I guess the only objective measure at this age is weight.

I should return the baby scales to a pharmacy - they rent it out for 1.5 euro per week. Getting too expensive :)

25th July 2014

12:11pm: What they are looking for?
I still manage to do some freediving training once a week in the pool, but can't plan for any trips anytime soon.

So have to look at my old pics.

I was diving to this company many times, but I did not find out why they all gathered at a boring sand spot. They are all from different families/species with different food preferences, and they were all looking for something.
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