Huge Thank You!

I wanted to take this opportunity and say a huge Thank You to everyone who made yesterday a very special day for me.  It was truly one of the greatest birthday celebrations I’ve ever had.  You are all truly the best!

Since the early morning till late night I’ve received countless phone calls (from several countries), text messages, emails, Skype, Google Talk and Facebook messages.  I’ve got a few awesome presents and cards.   I had a surprise party at work, which included a chocolate cake with my name, and a case of German beer (unbelievable!).  I’ve also had plenty of drink – enough to kill a small army, I think – at Ship Inn in the company of friends.

It was an absolutely amazing day!  Thank you everyone!


The world of PHP nightmare

I had a dream today. In fact, it was a nightmare that woke me up at 3am and kept me up for the next three hours or so. And I tell you honestly – this kind of things don’t happen to me all that often. In fact, I don’t even remember when was the last time I had anything similar.

I dreamed that the whole world is somehow written in PHP. A few bits were alright, but it mostly sucked. There were constant ground tremors.  Buildings were shaking in the slow soft waving motions. Things that were supposed to be soft were plastic hard. Things that were supposed to be hard were bumpy soft. Road tarmac felt like a gentle green grass field.

At some point of those tremors opened a long,  deep crack in the ground. The resulting vibration tore a nearby skyscraper in half, like it was a wet baguette, and the top part of the building slowly fell and disappeared in that crack (hi,  dr. Fraud). That was rather unpleasant to watch.

After a few scenes of apocalypse, the nightmare movie was cut to action, where I was a part of the task force that was supposed to fix the world. And, I tell you, we tried hard. We’ve refactored parts of the code,  migrated a few most critical systems to CakePHP, upgraded PHP to 5.6 and even tried all those high performance tricks from Facebook (hi, Hack). Things were getting better but not nearly enough. The world was still awkward, unstable and slow.

PHP wasn’t the only thing we were looking at. There was a lot work around databases and tuning servers. We’ve tried every profiling, monitoring and analytics tool we could get our hands on. But, to no avail.

The really horrifying part of the nightmare was when we finally realized that PHP won’t cut it and we’ll have to rewrite parts of the world in C.  We also somehow were missing a C compiler. I bet you can guess the epicenter of the nightmare now. Yes, indeed. We started writing a C compiler in PHP. That’s when I woke up in cold sweat, screaming “Noooooo!” through my lungs. That was more than I could bear.

For three hours after I tried not to Google or think if that was at all possible. Apparently, I love the world the way it is now – screwed up in a billion ways, but NOT written in PHP. With that peaceful thought and a beautiful sunrise I fell asleep.

Micro SIM Catch 22

Last week I’ve got a new phone. Thanks to my good friend Michael I now have the Nexus 4. It’s an excellent device and I am enjoying it a lot, but this post is not about the phone (yet). This post is about how I nearly fell into a catch 22 situation.

My previous phone – Google Nexus – uses the regular SIM card. The new phone uses the Micro SIM. So I’ve visited the office of Cyprus Telecommunications Authority (CYTA) where a really nice lady exchanged my old SIM for the new one – all free and in less than 15 minutes. The old SIM was deactivated immediately and I rushed home, excited for the new toy.

When Nexus 4 booted up it asked me for my Gmail credentials, in order to synchronize my settings, contacts, and apps. The tricky bit was that I have 2-step verification enabled on my account. That’s where after I enter my credentials on a new device I also need to confirm them with a numeric code, which is sent to me from Google via either an SMS or a voice call. It’s a handy security feature until you can’t really use your phone yet – it is being activated. So, no activation until I get an SMS and no SMS until I activate.

A short panic attack later I remembered that Google allowed for a backup phone number just for cases like this. I however never entered the backup number into the settings. The idiot that I am.

Will I be allowed to enter the backup number now, when I cannot receive the code? Gladly – YES! I was saved! But it taught me the important lesson (once again) that backups are priceless.

Nexus 10 is here

After what must have been the fastest delivery in the history of online shopping, my brand new shiny Google Nexus 10 has arrived. It’s black in color, packing 32 gigs of storage, very fast, and with a beautiful screen.

The wait is finally over.

So far I have only managed to update it to the Android 4.4.2, install and configure all the apps I use, download and watch an episode of the Vikings, and login to every single social network.  It is too early to say much yet, but so far I’m loving it. Colors, performance and the battery life seem to be perfect. 

Tablet shopping

I got tired of waiting for Google to release the second generation of Nexus 10.  At the same time, I am still scared of all the available choices from other vendors.  Today I ran out of patience and ordered the tablet.   With keyboard.  And a case.  And also a couple of games – Call of Duty “Ghosts” and Grand Theft Auto V, which were on the pending list for the next Amazon order.

Clearly, waiting is not my game…  I’ll let you know what I think of these once they arrive and I play with them for a bit.

Happy New Year!

The year 2014 is rollin’ in already.  It’s still a few hours away from where I am, so this is a good time to take a few minutes and reflect on what 2013 was like.  I’m not gonna do a lengthy post, like the last year, so here is a quick summary of what it was for me and what happened (with links to archive for more details).

  • January.  Mostly spent at work, launching the huge project, tying up loose ends and dotting all the i’s.
  • February.  More work, with a little break to watch all the coverage of Chelyabinsk meteorite.
  • March.  That month was busy with a few highlights.  Cyprus banking system collapse was the biggest news around, which coincided with my trip to Amsterdam for the RT training.  The announcement of the Google Reader decommissioning sent me on a quest for the alternative.  Earlier the same month I’ve attended TEDxNicosia, which was awesome.
  • April. This is traditionally the month I celebrate my birthday.  This year I became 35.  Also, there was a one million views milestone for my blog, according to stats.  Work-wise, there was the largest git merge ever.  I’ve also discovered something that I will enjoy tonight.
  • May.  I finally got fed up with both Gnome 3 and KDE 4 and switched both my work and home desktop environments to MATE.  This was the best decision ever – I’ve never had a desktop in my way since, yet.
  • June. Played Quake 3 after a really long break.  Then more work.
  • July. Another business trip to Tel Aviv, Israel.  A new team member at work and a new area to learn a lot about – Quality Assurance (QA).  Pretty much reading and reviewing software all month.  Work extends even to my personal projects with HashBackup and Amazon S3.  The highlight of the month though was the workshop I attended for work.  Eye-opening!
  • August.  In terms of this blog’s archives, there were plenty posts into my Music category.
  • September. I’ve been given a new title at work – Director of Web Development, for pretty much the same work I’ve been doing so far under Team Leader and Senior Developer.
  • October.  This was a month to learn new things, which are out of my daily scope.  At first, I attended the First Aid training, which got me prepared for emergency situations and accidents.  And second, I’ve became a trained Fire Marshal.  Also, flew back to Tel Aviv, Israel for another business trip.  And learned to cook sushi at home – the first try was horrible, but the second one was way better.  Oh, and there was yet another workshop even from work, for which I stayed in Aphrodite’s Hills for a couple of days.
  • November.  I’m on the cover of Forbes.  Just kidding.  Started taking some of the annual leaves I had accumulated at work.  Relaxing, resting, not doing too much.
  • December.   More resting and relaxing, slowing down for the holiday season and Christmas magic.

And if that list is not enough, here are a few more overall bullet points:

  • Place of the year: Alio Olio, Limassol.  I’ve spent hundreds of hours in there, enjoying the company of many cool people, drinking probably a truck-full load of beer and enjoying some food.
  • TV show of the year: Homeland.  The best TV show I’ve ever seen.  Period.
  • Movie of the year: In the loop.  Even though it was released back in 2009, this was the year when I watched it.  Made me laugh out loud a few times, and it’s a smart comedy – something that I haven’t seen in a long while.
  • Drink of the year: Beer.  Obvious, of course, but I thought I’d throw it in anyway.
  • Dish of the year: kebab in Tel Aviv.  Those things are awesomeness out of this world.

There you go.  These are the highlights of my 2013.  There were more, of course, with friends, family, projects that are still in progress or didn’t make it, jokes, videos, music, gaming, fooling around, and so forth.

Here is to an even richer 2014!  Happy New Year and best wishes to you and your family.  Have a great one!