2017: Where Do You Want to Be In a Year?

February 3, 2017 YearPlanReport No comments

Again, not to break the tradition, here is my resolution for the year 2017.

  1. Start getting up at 6
  2. Run 40+ times; hike 3+ times
  3. Lead a project at work to success
  4. Teach dauther basics of  skiing and reading
  5. Travel Balkan countries
  6. Quit coffee and social media
  7. Read 24 books
  8. Write 24 blog posts
  9. Win a T-Shirt
  10. Make github green
  11. Learn something
  12. Buy something
  13. Enjoy the life

This list is rather cryptic and unconventional. As they say, it is not that “SMART” and I agree. Fortunately for me, I’m the boss of my life and this is how I would like to put it for this year.

The road on a picture below appears to be smooth and straight. There are some shadows and lots of light in the end. Also, I don’t know if the road is still there where the light is, do you?

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What have I done in 2016

February 2, 2017 YearPlanReport 2 comments

It is quite late into the year 2017, but I decided not to break the tradition and write my yearly report.

When I planned my 2013 I had “the best thing that could happen” listed as I knew my daughter was coming. When I was planning for 2016 I didn’t expect to have a second child.

But here I am with my son just some minutes after he was born on 16th of December 2016.

Me and Theo

I’m really glad and looking forward to see him grow and build his own life.

Except of this main and life changing event, few other things happened: we have moved to slightly bigger apartment, and I made some progress in my career (more on that sometime later).

Here is the list of planned things and their completion rates:

  1. Run 2-3 times a week for at least 5 warm months.
    100% I ran 50+ times totaling 320km. Here is a nice post from me that some people find inspiring.
  2. Make start of the day more healthy and productive. Ideal scenario would be: get up at 05:55AM, drink glass of water, do exercises for 15-30 min, shower, some important task and/or planning for the day, breakfast, work… But I will consider this item achieved if I start doing exercises regularly even if it is only 2 times a week just for 10 minutes.
    15% This is too difficult for me, though I managed to be at work around 7:30 for two months or so and do exercises sporadically.
  3. Travel to the UK, Norway, sea side country, and do a car trip somewhere nice.
    100% Visited UK, Ireland, Georgia, Croatia and few other Austria bordering countries for shorter trips. We had to cancel Norway because of the the wife’s pregnancy, but it was equally compensated by a trip to Ireland and adventures mountains in Georgia.
  4. Spend one hour every day with my daughter playing and learning things.
    50% I’m bit shocked that I had this in a plan. Spending quality time with children is important and should be done without saying, but we neglect it too often.
  5. Count not more than 12 weekends in a year when we didn’t go out to do some activities.
    50% I kept track of these “bad” weekends and there are definitely more than 12, though, in part, it was caused by unforeseen circumstances.
  6. Learn 12 simple skills from other people. To achieve this goal I will first identify 12 people from the community and those surrounding me and chose some characteristic I admire.
    15% Didn’t work out. Maybe very few things from guys at work.
  7. Read at least 6 technical books.
    65% 3 books read. 2 half read.
  8. Watch at least 12 pluralsight courses.
    100% Watched more than that but probably benefited from few.
  9. Write a simple stock analyzing web site. It could have any set of features, point is to get something interesting running.
    0% I don’t count retarded attempt on it.
  10. Write any simple useful open source tool. I have WCF related idea in mind.
    0% Unless this git bash script counts.
  11. Learn at least two web technologies. I have NodeJS and AngularJS in mind at the moment.
    25% No activities on NodeJs, though some on Angular. More are coming in this year.
  12. Share knowledge more actively. Minimum would be to write 24 blog posts, answer 12 questions on SO, help few people online.
    50% 16 posts. 7 SO answers. Few comments on blogs.
  13. Acquire B1 German certificate, attend German course, finish entire German Duolingo tree.
    100% All of these completed. This also allowed me to acquire permanent residence permit in Austria.
  14. Learn English language prosody and fix pronunciation of vowels. Optionally attend a specialized language course.
    10% Few failed attempts.
  15. Save 24X my monthly spendings, go through 13 investment books I read in 2015 and extract notes, do reviews and write about them.
    30% Saved some money, not as much because of the move. Total fail on book reviews.

This gives me 47% overall. Apparently, I fall into the 92% category of people who fail on their year resolutions.

Nevertheless, I find this exercise of planning for a year to be useful. At least it gives a sense of things that you want to do if otherwise you are too chaotic.

I hope you all have had a good year and will have even better one this year. Happy New Year! (Yes, yes… I know – it’s February outside, but someone had to be the last to wish you “Happy New Year!”)

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My Dell Laptops History And New Dell Precision 7510

December 11, 2016 Personal 6 comments

Time has come to buy a new beefy laptop for my blogging :). This time I bought Dell Precision 7510.

Dell Precision 7510

I have a history of buying Dell laptops. You can call me a fan of Dell if you want, but really I just continue buying them because they work and I have never had any issues with them, except of when I spilled tea on my XPS 13 and had to replace keyboard and screen. I’ve made few upgrades to XPS16 (RAM, SSD, battery) and now it is being actively used by my wife for some photo editing and general home use. XPS13 in some aspects is as powerful as XPS16 and at the same time weights only 1.3 Kg. It is really easy to carry everywhere. When I bought it I said that it is “thin as “Mac Air” and powerful as “Mac Pro” but costs less”. Unfortunately over time I could not feel very productive on it. Even though I could do everything I needed, I couldn’t pleasantly run heavy IDE or VMs or play games that required dedicated graphics. It felt like I needed a proper workstation.

Decision making on a new workstation went terribly wrong. I spent around 8 hours comparing options:

Choosing Laptop

I was seriously considering desktop PC instead of laptop, but eventually leaned towards powerful laptops that can be easily docked if needed. I was choosing between different Lenovo and Dell (yeap, no Mac). I stopped on Precision 7510 because it is real working station. It comes with thunderbolt interface, it is highly configurable and it is a brand I used for a long time. Another reason for choosing Dell was pricing. Since I was buying at dell.at as a small business I was able to customize my purchase very granularity: removed unnecessary support and useless stickers, selected Ubuntu OS and cheap delivery – something Lenovo was not offering. As of hardware I have chosen to reasonably max those things that I’m not going to upgrade (CPU, GPU) and leave room for other upgrades (RAM, HDD). I didn’t choose 4K touch monitor, as I don’t think it makes any sense on 15″.

 

Here below are some specifications for all of my Dell Laptops:

Dell Studio 1535

DellStudio1535

 

Dell Studio XPS 1647

DellStudioXPS

Dell XPS 13

image

Dell Precision 7510

Dell Precision 7510
Intel® Core™ 2 Duo T5850 2.16GHz Intel® Core™ i7-620M (Prev Gen, 2 Cores, 4 Threads, 4M Cache, up to 3.33GHz) Intel® Core™ i7-3537U (3rd Gen, 2 Cores, 4 Threads, 4M Cache, up to 3.1GHz) Intel® Core™ i7-6920HQ (6th Gen, 4 Cores, 8 Threads, 8M Cache, up to 3.80 GHz)
LCD (1280×800) 15.6″ FHD Widescreen WLED LCD (1920×1080) 13.3″ Hi-Def (1080p) True Life WLED Display W/1.3MP 15,6” UltraSharp FHD IPS (1920×1080)
DVD Super Multi 8X CD/DVD Burner
2GB DDR2-667 8GB Shared Dual Channel DDR3-1333MHz

(originally 4GB)

8GB Single Channel DDR3-1600MHz 16 GB (2 x 8 GB) DDR4-2667 MHz (two more slots available)
320GB 5400RPM 256GB SSD (originally 512GB 7200RPM) 256GB SSD 256GB M.2 PCIe SSD (I added a second 512GB 7200RPM HDD)
ATI Mobility Radeon™ HD 3450 ATI Mobility Radeon™ HD 5730 1GB  GDDR3 Intel HD Graphics 4000 Nvidia Quadro M2000M 4GB GDDR5
High Definition Audio High Definition Audio 2.0 with SRS Premium Sound Wave Maxx Audio Some Audio
Dell Wireless 1397 WLAN Mini-Card Intel® 5300 WLAN Wireless-N (3×3) Mini Card Killer Wireless-N, 1202 for Video & Voice w/ BT 4.0 Intel® Dual Band Wireless-AC 8260
56 WH, 6 cell, LI-ION 85 WH, 6 cell, LI-ION 47 WH, 6 cell, LI-ION 72, 6 cell, LI-ION
Bought late 2008, alive and used by Mom for Skype, audio-jack bad, battery dead. Bought Sep 2010, heavily used, became loud, upgraded with RAM and SSD, battery replaced. Bought Nov 2013, actively used, no upgrades, screen and keyboard replaced because of tea spill, battery completely healthy. Bought Dec 2016, using it right now, added second HDD, planning for more RAM when time comes.

I have ran benchmark software on XPS16, XPS13, and Precision. While 16 and 13 were somewhat comparable, Precision speed rocked. CPU speed was 2X of 3X faster depending on calculation operations (floating, integer). GPU speed was 14X as compared to XPS13 and 3X as compared to XPS16. RAM was 3X of XPS16 and 1.5X of XPS13. SSD write speed was 2X of both.

Lots of numbers, but I can simply feel the difference. It is a pleasure to use a fast machine. Who knows what my fifth column will look like.

 

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Do not misuse or over abstract AutoMapper

November 27, 2016 AutoMapper, Opinion 14 comments

AutoMapper is a great little library every .NET project is using (well, lots of them). I used it for the first time in 2010 and wrote a blog post about it.

Since that time I observed few things:

  • Almost every project I worked on, that needed some kind of object mapping, was using this lib. In rare cases there was some pet library or manual mapping in place.
  • Almost every project had some abstraction over the library like if it was going to be replaced or like different implementation for mapping would be needed.
  • Basic API of the library didn’t change at all. CreateMap and Map are still there and work the same. At the same time performance, testability, exception handling, and feature richness got improved significantly. Last one, in my opinion, is not such a good thing as it leads to the next point.
  • In many of those projects AutoMapper was simply misused as code placed in AfterMap or in different kinds of resolvers would simply start containg crazy things. In worst of those cases actual business logic was written in resolvers.

I have always been of an opinion:

Less Code – Less Bugs; Simple Code – Good Code.

Having seen this trend with the library, I would like to suggest simplifying its usage by limiting ourselves. Simply:

  • Use AutoMapper only for simple mapping. Basically, one property to one property. Preferably, majority of property mapping is done by the same name. If you find yourself in situation when over half of your mappings are specified explicitly in ForMember method it may be the case for doing it manually (at least for the specific type) – it will be cleaner and less confusing.
  • If you have some logic to add to you mapping, do not add it via AutoMapper. Write a separate interface/class and use it (via DI) where your logic has to be applied. You will also be able to test it nicely in this way.
  • Do not abstract AutoMapper behind interfaces/implementations. I’ve seen abstracting this in a way that you need to create a class (empty in many cases) for each mapping type pair and somewhere there would be custom reflection code that initializes all of the mappings. Instead, use built-in AutoMapper Profile class and Mapper.Initialize method. If you still want to have at least some abstraction to avoid referencing AutoMapper everywhere make it simple.

Here is how I’m using AutoMapper these days:

Somewhere in CommonAssembly a very-very simple abstraction (optional):

Somewhere in BusinessLogicAssembly and any other where you want to define mappings (can be split in as many profiles as needed):

Somewhere in startup code in BootstrappingAssembly (Global.asax etc):

And here is the usage:

That’s it. I do not understand why some simple things are made complex.

There is also another advantage of keeping it minimalistic – maintainability. I’m working on a relatively new project that was created from a company’s template, as a result it had older version of AutoMapper abstracted. To upgrade it and keep all old interfaces would mean some work as abstraction used some of the APIs that did change. Instead I threw away all of these abstractions and upgraded the lib. Next time upgrading there simply will be way less code to worry about.

Please let me know if you share the same opinion.

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Synch Two Git Repositories Using Bundle File And USB-stick

November 16, 2016 git, Tools No comments

Imagine working on the same code base in two disconnected networks. How would you synchronize your repositories using rudimentary storage device, like a USB-stick?

Undeniably for such a synchronization there could be multiple solutions starting with very primitive manual copying of cloned repositories finishing with some specialized devices and synch processes.

I came up with something intermediate, until the situation with the setup of project changes.

git-bundle-synch-on-usb-device

Idea is very simple:

1. USB-sharing device, so that USB-stick can be shared with a press of a button (physical in this case)

2. git bash script that does the following:

  • Tries to connect to both repositories to identify which one is accessible
  • Fetches sources from available repository
  • Fetches sources from bundle file on USB-stick (git bundle file is like a zip file with history and all files)
  • Tries to merge these two folders with flag –allow-unrelated-histories so that history is completely preserved
  • If merge succeeds it pushes changes to available repository and recreates bundle
  • If merge fails, you would need to manually resolve conflicts and push

3. A task to trigger the synch script when USB-stick with bundle is connected (I do not have this one yet, but it is a next logical step)

If two repositories were available at the same time the same script (with modifications) could be used to synchronize them on schedule or trigger event.

Here is the code of the script:

 

I also make it available on github under MIT license. Hopefully it comes in handy.

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Single Git Repository for Microservices

November 14, 2016 Opinion No comments

Just recently I joined a team. We write intranet web application. There is nothing too special about it, except that it was designed to be implemented as micro-services and as de-facto at the moment it is a classical single .NET MVC application. This happened for a simple reason: meeting first release deadline.

The design was reflected in how source control was set up: one git repository per each service. Unfortunately this caused a number of required maneuvers to be in synch and to push changes as team was making scattering changes in multiple repositories. This also made it more difficult to consolidate NuGet packages and other dependencies as all of them were in different repositories.

I think that microservices and corresponding hard reflection of their boundaries in form of source code repositories should evolve naturally. Starting with a single repository sounds more reasonable. If you keep the idea of microservices in you head and nicely decouple your code nothing stops you creating new repositories as you service boundaries start to make shape.

Taking this into account we merged repositories into one. There was only question of keeping source code history. Turns out the history can be easily preserved by employing git subtree command and placing all of the service repositories as subdirectories of a new single repository.

As a result, team is working much more effectively as we do not waste time on routine synch and checking who did what where. 

Conclusion: Theoretically micro-services should be implemented in their own repositories. That’s true, but in practice for relatively small and new project, with only one team working on it, single repository wins.

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Book Review: “The Black Swan”

October 30, 2016 Book Reviews No comments

The Black Swan - Book Cover

A black swan is a highly improbable event with three principal characteristics: It is unpredictable; it carries a massive impact; and, after the fact, we concoct an explanation that makes it appear less random, and more predictable, than it was. The astonishing success of Google was a black swan; so was 9/11. For Nassim Nicholas Taleb, black swans underlie almost everything about our world, from the rise of religions to events in our own personal lives.

Description by the publisher

I have listened to the audio version of “The Black Swan” twice. First time at the beginning of the year and the second time just recently. The book is philosophical in a way. It is not very easy to fully comprehend conveyed message as author frequently diverts to fictional stories, terms in French, and thinkers that are long time dead.

There were two striking statements in the book “anyone can be a president” if someone like “these people can get a Nobel prize”. Sounds actual? Think of Trump vs. Clinton presidential race and Bob Dylan receiving Nobel prize in Literature if you are not reading this in Autumn 2016.

bill-and-hillary-clinton-discuss-becoming-president

This does not mean that Nassim Taleb is any sort of predictor or prophesy maker. He himself says that he cannot make predictions, instead he highlights over and over again that rare events that seem improbable do occur more frequently than most of us would imagine and at the same time it is impossible to come up with mathematical models that would somehow calculate probabilities for these events. Unfortunately, we cannot know what we don’t know, therefore the best strategy for any of us is to build robustness to black swan events.

Application of the ideas expressed in the book is very wide. Starting with building financial portfolio consisting of 90% of very safe investments and 10% of extremely risky ones, therefore exposing yourself to probability of catching a black swan, like Google or Facebook. Ending with applying it to your life by exposing yourself to variety of endeavors. Careful here: event’s consequences are even harder to predict than occurrence of such events.

There is one aspect of the book that I don’t like. The author almost throughout the book despises other people imagining them as aggressive apes and suggesting nasty things like putting a rat down someones shirt. I do not exclude that he imagines his readers in the same way: silly monkeys reading higher caliber philosophical work. This, though, does not disqualify his book from being a really valuable contribution to human knowledge, but, in my opinion, it is only thanks to the black swan event of him benefiting from the 2000 crisis that made him successful and subsequently allowed him to write this and other books.

Conclusion

This book is definitely worth reading. It may make you look at the world as sequences of improbable events that change everything around. It could also make you way more skeptical about the theoretical modeling suggested by economists and other tie wearing experts. The book is not an easy read. On the contrary, it requires a lot of attention and thinking. Maybe leave it for a time when you are in a “philosophical” mood.

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