Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Israel to US: shut up and do what I say (via Reddit)

"The Obama Administration will put forth new peace initiatives only if Israel wants it to, said Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman in his first comprehensive interview on foreign policy since taking office.

"Believe me, America accepts all our decisions," Lieberman told the Russian daily Moskovskiy Komosolets."

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Dell Latitude: 8 hours on a single charge!

Tonight (by accident) I left my laptop unplugged and in a state where it could not go to sleep automatically. In the morning I found the laptop with its battery completely depleted, but still running!

Kudos to power management systems in Core 2 Duo and Windows Server 2008!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Laissez-faire (via Reddit)

"In Bucharest, you can buy a young girl for 8,000 euros. I mean buy them as in you own them forever or until you sell them to someone else. Most of them are sold by their parents in Moldova when they are little children. As soon as they’re bought, the owner brands them. This is normally a tattoo of his name."

While this sounds (reads?) insane, it is not really that unusual for an unregulated market to produce this phenomenon. It was not all this different in US in 1890s, and in Russia in 1990s - just the percentage of population is smaller.

Do laws have priority over money, or does money have priority over laws?

The Lifestyle

"It is a tricky situation in which some Americans find themselves after a long boom: They are by no means struggling, compared with the 98% of Americans who make far less, but depending on where they live and the lifestyle choices they have made, they don't necessarily feel rich, either."

Oh, yes, the life style choices... Take me, for instance. My personal choice, as anyone who knows me well will confirm, is to fly my own 747. I love to travel, and the fact that I have to wait in airports, sleep in a chair on long flights, and stand in long lines is simply unacceptable. It makes me feel positively broke. Middle class you say? As far as I am concerned, I am a pauper.

Now, Obama thinks that we are rich and wants to tax our hard earned money (that is, the amount above $250k) at 3% more. Which means that if we were to make, say, $350k next year, we'd be forking over $3000 more to the government in taxes. Instead of buying one of these:, which my chosen lifestyle dictates that I have. Talk about socialism!

Malevich has setup!

I've been working on Malevich - my code review system - on and off for almost 5 months now.

It turned out to be very successful - my team was using it for all of our first milestone, and was very happy about it (we're now pushing 1500 change lists that went through the system). Many other Microsoft teams adopted it since, to the tune of at least a couple hundred people - and these are just the people who contacted me.

The biggest problem so far was the setup. The deployment was hard - it required Visual Studio, a service pack, an expansion pack, and tons of manual work. A lot of errors were made, and in many cases I had to drop by and set things right afterwards.

Not any more! The first official build is out, and it has a real setup! The setup checks the dependencies, deploys the database, publishes the web site, and configures notifier automatically, no Visual Studio is required!

So if you wanted to try Malevich but were intimidated by the complexity of installation - the wait is over. You still do have to install Server 2008 with IIS and SQL Server 2008, but the rest is done for you.

Just get the MSI here:

Happy code reviewing!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

How is this not treason? (via Reddit)

"Rep. Jane Harman , the California Democrat with a longtime involvement in intelligence issues, was overheard on an NSA wiretap telling a suspected Israeli agent that she would lobby the Justice Department reduce espionage-related charges against two officials of the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee, the most powerful pro-Israel organization in Washington."


"In exchange for Harman’s help, the sources said, the suspected Israeli agent pledged to help lobby Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., then-House minority leader, to appoint Harman chair of the Intelligence Committee after the 2006 elections, which the Democrats were heavily favored to win."

Saturday, April 18, 2009

The new government

"As far as the most important matter is concerned, there is complete unanimity. Liberman, Netanyahu, Barak, Ellie Yishai of Shas and Danny Hershkovitz of the “Jewish Home” party are in total agreement about the Palestinians. All of them agree on the need to prevent the establishment of a real Palestinian state. All of them agree not to talk with Hamas. All of them support the settlement enterprise. During Barak’s stint as Prime Minister, the settlements grew even faster than during Netanyahu’s tenure. Liberman is himself a settler, Hershkovitz’s party represents the settlers. All of them believe that there is no need for peace, that peace is bad for us. (After all, it was Barak, not Netanyahu or Liberman, who coined the phrase “We Have No Partner for Peace”.)"

Computer porn

2xIntel Xeon E5410 Harpertown 2.33GHz 12MB L2 Cache LGA 771 80W Quad-Core Processor$590
1xSUPERMICRO MBD-X7DCL-I Dual LGA 771 Intel 5100 ATX Server Motherboard$300
6xKingston 4GB 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM ECC Registered DDR2 667 (PC2 5300) Server Memory$504
5xWestern Digital VelociRaptor WD1500HLFS 150GB 10000 RPM 16MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Hard Drive$900
1xAthena Power AP-P4ATX85FE 20+4Pin 850W Single ATX12V & EPS12V Power Supply$155
1xSILVERSTONE KUBLAI Series KL03-B Black 2.5mm aluminum front door, 0.8mm SECC body ATX Full Tower Computer Case$155

...yields an 8-core, 24GB monster capable of hosting 10 VMs comfortably for $2600.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Capitalism, socialism

Wikipedia defines capitalism thus:

"Capitalism is an economic system in which wealth, and the means of producing wealth, are privately owned and controlled rather than state owned and controlled. Through capitalism, the land, labor, and capital are owned, operated, and traded by private individuals either singly or jointly, and investments, distribution, income, production, pricing and supply of goods, commodities and services are determined by voluntary private decision in a market economy. A distinguishing feature of capitalism is that each person owns his or her own labor and therefore is allowed to sell the use of it to employers." (

The definition puts "ownership" and "control" of the capital in the same sentence, but does not stipulate that it is the same individual that both owns and controls the resources.

And therein lies our problem.

Commonly accepted theory of why capitalism is preferable to socialism goes like this: the owners generally make better decisions about allocating the resources than non-owners. When the owners do make sub-optimal decision, they lose their ownership stake to the smarter and more responsible new owners.

So far, so good. Except this is not at all the system that we have in the United States. In the US, the majority of the capital is owned by one set of people - the shareholders - and managed by an entirely different set of people - the corporate management.

The interests of these groups of people are not at all aligned (, and, what's worse, neither group is truly interested in the long-term success of the business.

As a result, while the executives in younger companies which are still managed by the original owners do often tend to do the right thing, I cannot call the behavior of the managerial class in most American enterprises anything other than looting.

This approach to management has been most visible on Wall Street, but look at any older US enterprise, and you will see the same looting of company resources everywhere, from car manufacturers to steel mills to utility companies.

Comparing to the old Soviet days, the system as we have it right now may actually be worse. At least the bureaucrats in Soviet Union were not paying themselves multimillion dollar bonuses and did not zip around in private planes as the economy crumbled.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Discounting risk

I wrote this article in December 2007 and it describes perfectly the situation we're in now:

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

If you had only two news articles to read this week (via Reddit)...

...I would recommend "Ten principles for a Black Swan-proof world" by Nicolas Taleb (best known for his book "The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable" about underpricing risk) and The dark side of Dubai. This last one is absolutely surreal. Make sure you read it at least through "The Lifestyle" chapter. It is really, truly, absolutely unbelievable.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Visual Studio SP1 installer blues

I have but one question - what is taking it so long?

It takes 1.5 hours on my 2.5GHz, 4GB Core 2 Duo laptop running Windows Server 2008.

In 1.5 hours one could, at a typical speed of my laptop:
- Write 263GB of data to disk, at 50MBps
- Transfer 131GB of data over the network, at 200Mbps
- Copy 15 TB (!) of memory (on 800Mhz bus)
- Execute a whopping 26 trillion instructions (2 cores retiring 2 instructions per core per clock).


Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Weather plays April Fool's in Seattle

It's April 1st, and it's SNOWING! Here's what it looks like from our window.