Posted by: isitinteresting | March 11, 2010

Gmail attachments feature

Yesterday, I found out a really cool feature of Gmail. Apparently, it can “predict” whether you wanted to attach some files to your email but you have forgotten and notifies you.

I wanted to send an email to a friend of mine, that among others, it contained some attached files. As always, I left the actual attachment of the files until after I finish writing the body of my email. And, as always, I forgot and pressed Send without actually attaching them. Then, the following notification box came out, asking me whether I wanted to attach something but forgot.

Gmail can recognize certain character sequences, like “I’m attaching“, “see attached” or “I have attached“, and assumes that you wanted to attach some files but forgot. This feature does NOT work with any variation of the word attach, e.g. “I attached the files in a previous email“, which is good because otherwise it would be annoying to do so, each time you want to reference the attachments of a previous email. Currently it works only for English (and I hope it remains like that, otherwise Gmail will become even slower) and doesn’t recognize misspelled occurrences of the word attach, e.g. “see attched“.

This feature was introduced 2 years earlier in Labs, but now it’s a built-in feature of Gmail. I think it will be very useful for people like me who ALWAYS forget to attach the files I have to send. Of course, as Yash pointed out, I don’t think people with spelling problems will concur to that.

Posted by: isitinteresting | March 6, 2010

An insight on Greek crisis and countermeasures

A few days ago, the Greek prime minister gave the most hypocritical speech ever heard, and today he got the government representative to announce the most terrifying measures that ever applied to Greece! The country is sinking, the taxes are rising in a level that most of the working community cannot cope with and in the same time there are no cuts on military equipment that we’re spending so much money on!

I read this wonderful article in the Independent, written by John Lichfield. It is titled “A lesson, son, in crisis and paradox” and talks about what led Greece to the situation it is right now.

- Daddy, Daddy, who are the financial markets who are bullying the Greeks and the euro?

- Well, son, they are hedge funds and the trading arms of the big banks.

- But Daddy, aren’t those the same banks which the world’s governments have just spent billions of euros and pounds and dollars to rescue from the consequences of their own greed and stupidity?

- Er, yes son.

- And Daddy, aren’t those banks not betting those same billions to try to make money from the fact that some of the governments are over the heads in debt?

- Er, yes son.

- And these countries, including Greece, would not have been so deeply in the red if they had not given all those billions to the banks who are now attacking them? Or if the world economy had not been dumped off a cliff by all that bank-inspired debt and bank-led speculation in bad debts?

- Well, son, yes, that’s partly true, but some countries, especially Greece, have been living beyond their public means for years. In Greece, for instance, lawyers, doctors, restaurant owners and wealthy ship-owners, pay virtually no income tax but expect to live in a properly functioning, modern state.

- Ok Daddy, I understand that. It’s very naughty of them. But isn’t this still a case of the banks biting the hand that fed them?

- Er, no, son, it’s worse than that. It’s like the banks complaining that governments are naked after taking their clothes. But the markets (i.e. banks) don’t think that way. If they smell blood, they pile in like hyenas after a limping zebra. It’s called a market opportunity.

- But why did they suddenly go after the poor Greeks, Daddy?

- Markets noticed two things. First, that a new Greek government had confessed that the country’s budget deficit last year was 12.7 per cent of GDP – double the number the previous government had thought of. It probably wasn’t that high actually. The new government in Athens reckoned that it would be a good wheeze to inflate the number so that they could gain credit for bringing it down rapidly in 2010. It is called a mythical Greek figure. Mythical or not, it was enough for the markets to smell blood – or money.

- And the second thing that the markets noticed Daddy?

- I was coming to that, son. They noticed that Greece no longer had a currency of its own. It was a member of the euro. It could not devalue or print money. Worse, under the rules of the euro, the European Central Bank could not intervene to help a member state in difficulties. It was as if Greece – and the other euro countries with big debts, like Spain, Portugal and Italy – had no central bank to help them through a crisis.

- So what did the financial markets do daddy? They started a gambling game in which they bet on a possible Greek “default”: that Greece would go bankrupt and not be able to pay its debts. By doing so, they made it more likely that Greece would go bankrupt by increasing the cost to Athens of rolling over (i.e. finding new takers for) its 300 bn euros in accumulated debts. In other words,it was for the markets, a one-way, no-lose bet – unless the EU intervened.

- So what happened daddy?

- The EU made a statement last Thursday that it would stand shoulder to shoulder with Greece….but not yet. If the markets continued to bet on Greek default, the EU leaders said, they would lose because the other euro members would find some way of bending their collective rules to give Greece money. In return, Greece had to agree to painful changes to reduce its budget deficit by at least 4% this year.

- But daddy, that will be quite easy for the Greeks, because the 12.7% figure for 2009 was exaggerated in the first place. Er, yes, son, but the markets chose to accept that figure so they are now stuck with it. We are talking about market reality which is not the same thing as real reality. And in fact, the new Greek government is taking, by Greek standards, very tough measures, including plan to make lawyers and doctors etc pay some income tax.

- But daddy, why did the EU not just give the Greeks the money and tell the market to…

- Shh, son, no rude words. That’s where we come to another kind of reality – political reality. The other EU governments, especially the stern Germans, wanted to make sure that Athens would start to take its medicine before they gave them any sweeties. Remember Aesop’s fable about the ants and the grasshoppers, son? Well Aesop was an ancient Greek, but, according to the Germans, the modern Greeks are grasshoppers.

- Is that all, daddy?

- No, son. The crisis was pushing down the value of the euro against dollar, which was something the Germans and others rather liked because it would help their economies. Like the sinner who wanted to be good, but not yet, they wanted the Greek crisis to end but not immediately.

- Isn’t that a dangerous game, daddy?

- Yes, son.

- So what happened?

- It’s still a bit unclear. The markets – thousands of people playing poker at the same time – are still trying to see how best to make money from the new situation. Should they carry on betting on Greek default? Or should they now bet on everything being ok?

- Is this a sensible way to run the world daddy?

- No son, but consider this. The crisis has scared the Greeks. They may now finally put their house in order which will, in the long run, be good for the Greeks. The crisis, which is a Greek word son, has also scared the EU, even the stern Germans. The original rules of the euro – good rules for good times but bad rules for bad times – will probably be changed. Something will be done to permit the EU to help struggling states, so that, in future, the markets will not smell blood and worsen the problems of stragglers.

- So good can come from bad? What do you call that, Daddy?

- A paradox, son.

- Isn’t that also a Greek word?

- Yes, son, now go to bed.

If you follow what’s happening the last week, it’s fair to say that our European “friends” aren’t so eager to support us. So, is there something WE could do to help ourselves? Let’s see a plan:

  1. First, by giving outrageous rights to Chinese (port and free trade to establish assembly units and “Europeanisation” of their products) we sell them 40-50 billion euros of bonds. The government converts to dollars a big part of its euro income (see below why).
  2. We call the IMF for the rest of the debt. We will pay some more money of course, but it would be really enjoyable to see the faces of the Commission and the other members when they realize that their EU is a bunch of crap.
  3. We revise the orders of military equipments from our European “friends“.
  4. We call the Commission to see the possibility of a country’s exit from the EuroZone, since this isn’t mentioned anywhere. By releasing these news, Euro will lose 30% of its value against dollar. In that point, the Greek government sells its dollars and buys euros. The benefit would be 25%.
  5. Of course, we still have to take some tough measures, and start paying taxes.
  6. We make a treaty with Turkey by which we give Greek nationality (and thus European) in any Turk citizen that has up to second degree affinity with Turks that were deported through the Population Exchange. All these will take the plane to Germany the very next day…We also put in place amazingly easy criteria to get the Greek nationality (by paying 3000 euros) for all the illegal immigrants. They also take the plane to Germany and France. All the european members are terrified by the invasion of thousands of Muslims with Greek passports.
  7. The Commission desperately call the other members to revise their stand for Greece, but they all see that it’s too late.
  8. Greece requests to exit Euro. Italy, Spain and Portugal follow, since they all suffer for years from Euro’s side-effects to their economies and German custody.
  9. We are already on December, 2012. Euro collapses. The Commission quits. The British blame Germany and France that they messed up and they request immediate revision of the Treaties.
  10. A few days later, it’s the end of the world. Everyone dies, except Greeks that are transferred with El‘s spaceships to the Apha Centauri, to meet their ancestors.

Hmmm, on second thought, let’s just leave things as they are, and see where all this will lead us! :)

Posted by: isitinteresting | February 22, 2010

A World Without Engineers

Have you ever thought how our world would be without engineers?

.
.

A world without Aeronautical Engineers

.

A world without Civil Engineers

.

A world without Mechanical Engineers

.

A world without Electronics Engineers

.

A world without Computer Engineers

.

A world without Communication Engineers


Posted by: isitinteresting | January 13, 2010

Open your eyes and wake up people!

Hello everyone and happy new year!

Sorry for the long absence, but I have been to Greece for Christmas holidays, and I was far too busy sleeping, eating, drinking and having fun…no time for computers unfortunately! :P

Today I saw an amazing video in YouTube! It is created by a group called “Everything is OK”. The activities of this group are based on a “collaborative project aimed at provoking people to more critically consider the status quo“, as they state in their official website. Below is their video (if you want to see it with Greek subtitles and they are not already visible, click on the little triangle on the lower right and select CC).

That video reminded me of an interesting email I received several years ago, regarding the way a paradigm is formed. I’m sure you all heard of it, but for those who didn’t, here it is:

A group of scientists placed 5 monkeys in a cage and in the middle of the cage, a ladder with bananas on the top.

Every time a monkey went up the ladder, the scientists soaked the rest of the monkeys with cold water.

After a while, every time a monkey went up the ladder, the others beat up the one on the ladder.

After some time, no monkey dare to go up the ladder regardless of the temptation.

Scientists then decided to substitute one of the monkeys. The first thing the new monkey did was to go up the ladder. Immediately the other monkeys beat him up. After several beatings the new member learned not to climb the ladder even though never knew why.

A second monkey was substituted and the same occured. The first monkey participated on the beating for the second monkey. A third monkey was changed and the same was repeated (beating). The fourth was substituted and the beating was repeated and finally the fifth was replaced.

What was left was a group of 5 monkeys that even though never received a cold shower, continued to beat up any monkey who attempted to climb up the ladder.

If it was possible to ask the monkeys why they would beat up all those who attempted to go up the ladder, I bet the answer would be

I don’t know…that’s how things are done around here

Does it sound familiar? How many times have we asked ourselves why we continue to do what we are doing if there is a different way out there?! If only more people could realize that…everyone would be eating bananas!

Posted by: isitinteresting | December 19, 2009

Where the hell is Matt?

Most of you probably know who Matt Harding is! For those who don’t, Matt is an internet celebrity, also known as Dancing Matt because he travels around the world and do his ‘silly’ dance in various countries. His videos are really inspiring (especially his second one) and his YouTube channel is ranked “#83 – Most Subscribed (All Time) – Directors” as of March 31, 2009.

It all started a few years ago, when Matt decided to record himself in the various countries he was traveling. In order to be more funny, he decided to do his ‘dance thing’ that he was known of, among his friends. When he uploaded this video on YouTube, with title “Where the hell is Matt?”, it became a smashing hit! (The song in the video is called Sweet Lullaby from Deep Forest)

After that, more and more people were visiting his website, http://www.wherethehellismatt.com/, asking him why he didn’t go to their countries yet! So Matt decided to organize these emails according to countries, and plan a new trip around the world, to countries he hadn’t visited. For each country, he was sending notifications to all those people who emailed him, to come together and dance with him. So, in 2008, after visiting 42 countries (!), he created his second (or maybe third, I’m not really sure!) video, with title “Where the hell is Matt (2008)???”.

I discovered his first video 4 years ago (if I recall correctly) and even though it made me smile, I felt sorry for myself, because I’m more like the following guy, stuck in one place!

I was really pissed that Matt was able to travel all over the world and have so much fun! But then I thought, “Ok, I know where Matt is…he is somewhere in the world do his stupid dance. But, where the hell is Matt’s girlfriend????“.

Posted by: isitinteresting | December 5, 2009

Easy money from 2010 World Cup

Do you want to make some easy money from 2010 World Cup? Do you want to bet on the winner but there are too many options? Well, let’s check the winners from 1962 until today and see if we find out anything interesting:

1962: Brazil

1966: England

1970: Brazil

1974: West Germany

1978: Argentina

1982: Italy

1986: Argentina

1990: West Germany

1994: Brazil

1998: France

2002: Brazil

2006: Italy

2010: ?????

Can you see the pattern here? If in one World-Cup the winner is from Europe, then in the next one, according to the statistics, there will be a winner from South America and vice versa. So, forget about Spain, Germany, England, Holland, France, etc. and consider betting in a country from South America. If you want to play it even safer, you can always bet in confederations (CONMEBOL is for South America).

P.S.: Just to be clear, I’m just stating facts here and not encourage anyone to gamble! So, don’t come blaming me in case you lose your money! In the end, it’s only statistics…

Posted by: isitinteresting | November 27, 2009

Wanna try the new Google search?

It’s just a matter of time when Google’s search engine interface will change. At first there were only rumors, when Google tested the new interface to random people. But now it’s official. So, do you want to try the new Google? If yes, just follow the steps below:

  1. Go to google.com

  2. If it redirects you to google.co.uk, google.gr, or anything else, just follow the link ‘Go to google.com’ that is located down and right.

  3. In the URL address field write the following:

    javascript:void(document.cookie=”PREF=ID=20b6e4c2f44943bb:
    U=4bf292d46faad806:
    TM=1249677602:LM=1257919388:S=odm0Ys-53ZueXfZG;path=/; domain=.google.com”);

    (I split it into multiple lines just to be visible in wordpress) Just that code, without http://google.com or anything else in the front.

  4. Hit Enter.

  5. Go again to google.com . Not google.co.uk or any other variation….the official google.com

  6. Enjoy the new interface :)

Posted by: isitinteresting | November 26, 2009

What happened when I tried to explain REST to my girlfriend

Yesterday, a friend of mine (Yashvin Veerappa) found this post about REST: How I explained REST to my wife. It’s one of the best descriptions of REST I’ve ever read…really well-written and easy to follow. It’s in the form of a dialog between a man named Ryan and his wife. After I read it I thought I could try to explain REST to my girlfriend too (I hope she’s not reading my blog…!). After all, explaining something to others is the best way to really understand it yourself.So, this is what happened when I tried to explain REST to my girlfriend over the phone (read the original first)!

Alex: Do you know Roy Fielding?

GF: No, never heard of him!

Alex: He is a really smart guy! He helped writing the first web servers and then did a ton of research explaining why the web works the way it does. His name is….

GF: Sorry, what web are you talking about? Was he an entomologist?

Alex: No, no, not spider web…hmmmm, I mean the “Internet“.

GF: Oh, so he is the one who built youtube? I saw the funniest video yesterday about…

Alex: No, no wait, let me finish! He didn’t build youtube. Youtube is a web page. Fielding helped writing the first web servers which are machines where your browser connects in order to…

GF: What’s a browser?

Alex: A browser is a program that downloads and views web pages, like youtube!

GF: You know, for a computer scientist your knowledge is very limited…the thing you’re talking about is called Internet Explorer, not browser!

Alex: Well, Internet Explorer is a web browser but there are others as well, e.g. Firefox, Opera, etc. Let me give you some extra information here. Web pages are stored in web servers. So, when you want to see a web page, you open a browser and enter a URL…sorry, I mean a name like http://www.youtube.com, which is called URL. The browser then connects to a DNS server to find the IP address of the webpage…hmm, forget the last one, the browser does some “stuff” to find in which web server the web page is stored and then communicates with the web server and asks for this specific web page. The protocol which is used for the web, what you are calling Internet, is called HTTP. HTTP is capable of describing the location of something anywhere in the world from anywhere in the world. It’s the foundation of the web. You can think of it like GPS coordinates for knowledge and information.

(Silence…)

Alex: Are you there?

GF: Sorry, I went to the fridge to get something to eat! What were you saying about youtube?

Alex: Grrrrr, I was saying….

(…and I explained the whole thing again!)

GF: Ok, so this HTTP thingy is used to describe the location of web pages, right?

Alex: WOW, amazing! Exactly right…actually almost right! HTTP is used to describe the location of resources, where resources could be anything. A web page is a visual representation of that resource. For example, in youtube, a video is the resource you want to find and is using a web page in order to be visually available to you!

GF: Oh, ok, I think I understand that!

Alex: The amazing thing is that these resources can be anywhere in the world and the computers have to communicate with each other in order to find them. If you want to find a specific resource, your computer will communicate with another computer, asking it about this resource. That computer might not have it but it will point out another computer that will have it.

GF: What???

Alex: Let me give you an example. You’re talking to your sister and she…

GF: I don’t have a sister! We are together for over 1 year and you still don’t know whether I have a sister or not!!!

Alex: Sorry, I was just reading an example of another webpage. Say that you’re talking to your brother and he wants to borrow your sweeper. But…

GF: Why would he want to borrow my sweeper? He lives in Germany and I’m in France…it would be easier to go and buy a new one from a local shop!

Alex: Grrrr, it’s just an example! So, let’s say that he wants to borrow your sweeper. But you don’t have it- your mom in Greece has it. So you tell him….

GF: My mom doesn’t use sweepers.

Alex: IT’S JUST A F$*^#ING EXAMPLE!

GF: Why are you yelling at me? Don’t you love me anymore?

Alex: I’m sorry, you’re right…I just got frustrated because if you don’t understand this simple example, how am I going to explain to you all the other things later, like polymorphism and ….

GF: Polymorphism? What’s that?

Alex: Well, in simple words it’s a way of classifying objects with similar attributes. Say for example you have an object called Woman, and another object…

GF: WHAT? That’s what women are to you? Objects?

Alex: No,no, it’s just an example, I didn’t…

GF: So I’m just an object to you, right? Maybe just a sex toy?

Alex: No, what I was trying to say…

GF: I know exactly what you were trying to say! I thought you were different, but all men are the same, you only have one thing in your minds…

Alex: Oh, fuck it!

(And I hung up the phone…)

(Just to avoid the possibility of being single after my girlfriend reads this, I should clarify that the above conversation is entirely fictional!)


Posted by: isitinteresting | November 25, 2009

Our cracks and flaws

If there is one thing I dislike in people, is low-self esteem. No one is perfect but we all should be proud of ourselves and never feel bad about our disadvantages over other people! A few months ago I received the following story on an email…

An elderly Chinese woman had two large pots, each hung on the ends of a pole, which she carried across her neck.One of the pots had a crack in it while the other pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water. At the end of the long walk from the stream to the house, the cracked pot arrived only half full.

For a full two years this went on daily, with the woman bringing home only one and a half pots of water. Of course, the perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments. But the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection, and miserable that it could only do half of what it had been made to do. After 2 years of what it perceived to be bitter failure, it spoke to the woman one day by the stream.
I am ashamed of myself, because this crack in my causes water to leak out all the way back to your house.
The old woman smiled, “Did you notice that there are flowers on your side of the path, but not on the other pot’s side? That’s because I have always known about your flaw, so I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walk back, you water them. For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate my house.
And she continued: “Without you being just the way you are, there would not be this beauty to grace the house.

Each one of us has our own unique flaw…But it’s the cracks and flaws we each have that make our lives together so very interesting and rewarding. You’ve just got to take each person for what they are and look for the good in them. So, to all of my crackpot friends, accept yourselves just as they are and always, ALWAYS remember to smell the flowers on your side of the path.

Posted by: isitinteresting | November 17, 2009

Whitespace characters fight back…!

I always felt sorry for the whitespace characters! Spaces, tabs, new lines…even though they are really friendly members of the character set, no one pays attention to them. Most programming languages just ignore them. Only python-like languages first noticed them, but that’s not enough! It isn’t fair…

Well, now, whitespace characters found their programming language representative that will help them fight back! The language is called Whitespace and below you can see a small piece of code which asks for a name and outputs it:

 

               

        

          

      

       

 

What? You can’t see anything? Let me replace spaces with [SPACE], and tabs with [TAB], and rewrite:

[SPACE][SPACE][TAB][SPACE][TAB]

[TAB]

[SPACE][SPACE][TAB]

[SPACE][SPACE][SPACE]

[TAB]

It’s true! Whitespace only consists of whitespace characters (as the name implies)! All the normal characters are considered comments in this language.So, it’s very useful if

  1. You want to write a really nasty code (e.g. virus) but don’t want the victim to suspect anything. So all you have to do is fill a file with seemingly innocent spaces (which will do all the nasty work!) and write
    print “Hello World!\n”

     

  2. You work in a highly-confidential project in top-secret government agency and want to hide your code. Just print your Whitespace code in a sheet of paper and delete the file! No one will imagine that this blank paper contains a really important piece of code!

You can find more information about Whitespace here.

funny_manwalk

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