London Trip

Swan Pub, London, UK

As some of you already know, I’ve spent most of this week in London, UK.  My first and only time in London was back in 2009, when I went there for a PHP conference (see this post, and this post).

This trip was very different.  I stayed longer than the last time.  I was mostly for business.  I had much less time to explore the city as a tourist.  So I thought I’d write it up, in case I case I need to remember some of it later.

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Togliatti, Russia – home sweet home

I came across this awesome collection of photographs of my home town – Togliatti, Russia (June 2017).  By a lucky coincidence, even the house that I grew up until I moved to Cyprus got into one of the pictures.  It’s the building to the right of the tall building in the center-right of the above image.  Second floor, left window is the kitchen of the apartment where I spent almost 18 years.

The building in the center-bottom is the kindergarden, which I went to.  And the large building on the left is the school, where I studied for the first three years.

Things look quite different from how I remember them, cause it’s been years since I’ve been there (last time in 2006).  The neighborhood changed, memories faded, and the high altitude perspective is not how I’ve used to look at it.

Why I don’t answer most phone calls

The question of the phone call etiquette has been coming up more and more often recently.  Is it polite to call without a prior message or agreement? What time should one call? What’s the decision point for opting for the phone call versus some other communication channel?  These, and many other questions are popping up frequently.

I came across a nice blog post – “Why I don’t answer most phone calls” – which discusses some of the reasons why this particular person doesn’t answer phone calls.  It’s a good quick read, but here is a summary:

  1. Because I’m busy.
  2. Because my agenda and tasks are also on my phone.
  3. Because a call leaves no trace.
  4. Because your communication is worse.
  5. Because repeating yourself is costly.
  6. Because it’s awkward.
  7. Because my memory sucks.

And I do agree with these points.  Call do interrupt and are rarely timed well.  Most people suck at communications, so calls drag on forever.  Whenever something is discussed or decided, there is no trace of it.  And my memory is horrible.

However, I do still answer phone calls.  But my personal expectation is that a call is:

  • either about something really urgent,
  • or I’ve missed a text/message and left it without response for longer than the caller expected (beer for lunch? and it’s lunch already),
  • or it’s from a good friend or family, who I haven’t heard from in a while.

If it’s none of the above, I tend to get irritated and think much lesser of the world around me in general, and a person calling me in particular. :)

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Today Russia and a few other countries celebrate Christmas, so I’d like to take this chance to wish Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to everyone still in the holiday mood.

I usually take the time around these days to review the year gone and to make a wishlist for the upcoming one.  But the year gone was mostly spent at work, which I summed up in the post “One year at Qobo” back in August.  Since then nothing much changed – it’s just been work, work, work.  And most of the out-of-work stuff was personal enough for me not to share it online.

So that’s about it.  My three wishes for the 2016 are:

  • I wish for everyone I know (and don’t know) to stay healthy.  Being sick, getting injured and being kicked out of life aren’t fun things to experience or watch.
  • I wish the momentum that we were building up at work starts picking up.  We’ve done plenty to get this thing rolling, and it feels like it’s about to. It would be awesome if it does this year!
  • I wish to travel a bit more.  I’ve done plenty of travels in 2014, visiting 4 countries in summer, but I haven’t been off the island since.  It’d be nice to go to a conference or something.

That’s about it.  Merry Christmas and a Happy New 2016! Cheers!

Jetpack annual report for mamchenkov.net in 2015

This year’s Jetpack annual report for this blog is ready – have a look.  Here’s a teaser:

blog stats 2015

It’s been a busy year, so I haven’t been blogging as much as I wanted to, but overall, I think I did good (have a look at 2014 and 2013).  Just to give you a quick comparison:

Metric 2013 2014 2015
Visitors 58,000 81,000 96,000
Posts 560 628 541

I blog mostly for myself, but it’s nice to see a slight grow in traffic. Although the fact that the most popular post in this blog throughout the years – how to check Squid proxy version – is a little concerning, yet funny.  Well, at least people still find my “Vim for Perl developers” useful, even though it’s been more than 10 years since I wrote that (and probably five years since I promised to update it soon).

But as I said, I’m quite satisfied with my blogging this year.  Hopefully I can continue to do the same in 2016.

 

Sailing the Optimist dinghy

Today I came across a nice picture that shows the parts of the Optimist dinghy.

Optimist parts

I’ve never knew the English terminology, and I pretty much forgot most of the terminology in Russian as well.  But it’s a nice reminder of my childhood.  I’ve spent years sailing this boat when I was a kid.  Here are the a couple of pictures of me doing just that.

Sailor

Sailing

Fun times!

Upcoming Android devices

The touch screen on my Nexus 4 is dying.  There’s a strip right across the center, which doesn’t work anymore.  The device is still alive, but it won’t last long.  In fact, I’ve already borrowed an old Sony Xperia from my brother, for the day when the angels will take my phone to the Android heaven.

With that in mind, I started looking for what’s going to be my next device.  I’m planning to get one closer to Christmas maybe, so not exactly in a rush.  The official Google blog’s post “S’more to love across all your screens” from a couple of days ago came just in time.

Android devices

The line-up covers upcoming tablets, phones, and Chromecast devices.  On the smartphone front, there are two devices – 5.7 inch Nexus 6P built by Huawei, and a 5.2 inch Nexus 5X built by LG.  Nexus 6P starts at $499, which I’m not yet prepared to pay for a smartphone (even though I use it heavily on a daily basis).  Nexus 5X starts at $379, which is much more reasonable.  Both phones feature a fingerprint scanner (finally, away with all those passwords and patterns), and a 12.3 MP camera for better pictures.  Nexus 6P comes in an aluminum body, which sounds nice.

Nexus 5X seems like an excellent option for me.  Of course, I’ll have to wait and see when it gets released, real-priced, and reviewed.

TePee no more …

This weekend I got my first bar ban.  I was asked to leave TePee Strictly Rock bar and to never ever come back.  Which I did and which I won’t.

(This post is here mostly for those people who were there on Saturday and who keep asking me what happened.)

What happened was an escalation of misunderstanding, mostly of what is rock music, what is a rock bar, what is a live gig, and what are the behavioral boundaries.  I don’t claim to be an expert on the subject, but I do have an opinion, with which a few people agree.  Too bad, the band on stage and the owner of the establishment didn’t.

It turns out I was too loud in the crowd.  It turns out I was making the band uncomfortable by screaming requests for something heavier (AC/DC, Rammstein, Metallica, etc) than Bon Jovi and Aerosmith.  Too bad I wasn’t familiar with the band’s repertoire – my bad.  And, it turns out that asking for a refund will get you kicked out.  No problem.  Maybe the band repertoire was a wrong reason to ask a refund for.  Maybe I should have mentioned the horrible sound engineering instead.  It’s too late now anyway.

On the other hand, it looks like some people enjoyed the gig (there are YouTube videos).  So maybe I was inappropriate.  To each his own I guess.  TePee is not a rock bar in my book anymore.  And I’m not a wanted customer in TePee.  Fair enough.