Monday, April 23, 2018

TWID April 23, 2018

This is a post detailing some stuff I did, learned, posted and tweeted this week, I call this TWID (This week in Denis). I am doing this mostly for myself... a kind of an online journal so that I can look back on this later on. Will use the label TWID for these

This week my youngest son and I decided to read all the Lord Of the Rings books. Both of us have seen the movies many times and I have read the books back in 2001. We decided to both sit in a room and I read out loud to him. It is kind of hard to read out load... I guess last time I had to read in front of people was back in high school

Finished 1965: The Most Revolutionary Year in Music
This was a fun book, 1965 was the year of protest, drugs and very good music. Highly recommended.
After I was done with the book, I decided to get some of this music mentioned in this book from Amazon

Got these three songs

While My Guitar Gently Weeps (Remastered)
From the album The Beatles (Remastered) [Explicit]
By: The Beatles

The Sound of Silence (Overdubbed Version)
From the album The Best Of Simon & Garfunkel
By: Simon & Garfunkel

Like a Rolling Stone
From the album Bob Dylan's Greatest Hits
By: Bob Dylan

Except for Sound of Silence, I already had the other two songs somewhere but I was too lazy to go searching for it. I watched the movie Watchmen a week or so ago and that is when I heard the song Sound of Silence, now that it was mentioned in the book I had to get it. Surprisingly I don't believe I have ever heard this song before watching the movie.

Got a couple of other songs as well

Damn It Feels Good to Be a Gangsta [Explicit]
From the album Uncut Dope [Explicit]
By: Geto Boys

You can hear this song in the movie Office Space... the best part is when someone is rapping pretending to be the president and it sounds just like Bill Clinton

Shout 2000
From the album The Sickness [Explicit]
By: Disturbed

This is a version of the Tears N' Fears song by the band Disturbed

So Long, And Thanks For All The Fish
From the album Eat The Elephant [Explicit]
By: A Perfect Circle

Was on the bestseller list.. sounded interesting, so I got iy

Paid In Full (Seven Minutes Of Madness - The Coldcut Remix)
From the album Paid In Full (Deluxe Edition)
By: Eric B. & Rakim

When I was a kid in 1987 I listened to this mix with the song Im Nin'Alu by singer Ofra Haza
If you know the song Girl You Know It's True by Milli Vanilli you will recognize the drum beat. This is one of those classic rap song that you wished were still made today

This Week I Learned

Watched parts of the SQL Server 2016 New Features for Developers Pluralsight course

This Week I tweeted

GPUs Mine Astronomical Datasets for Golden Insight Nuggets 

Critical to all of this research were GPU accelerators – specifically the Tesla P100s used in the DGX-1 server from Nvidia – which enabled accelerated training of neural networks. They used the Wolfram Language neural network functionality, built a top of the open-source MXNet framework, that in turn uses the cuDNN library for accelerating the training on Nvidia GPUs. ADAM was deployed as the underlying learning algorithm. The significant horsepower of the Blue Waters system, which is also GPU accelerated, was brought to bear for their modeling data and for solving Einstein’s equations via simulation. The group are also looking into generative models GANs (generative adversarial networks) to further reduce the multi-week time taken (even for Blue Waters) for these specific steps. 

I am still waiting for the day that SQL Server will be able to use GPUs in addition to CPUs

Scientists make new plastic-eating enzyme in fight against pollution

A team of scientists in Britain and at the U.S. Department of Energy say that they have bolstered the ability of an enzyme discovered in Japan to eat the plastic found in soda bottles.

The plastic polyethylene terephthalate (PET) normally lasts for hundreds of years, but a release from the University of Portsmouth and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory says that a new bacteria will be able to chow down and speed up the process to deal with the huge amounts of waste humans make.

This is pretty cool, in the end technology will be used to solve the problem that technology created

Light-Powered Camera The prototype gets 15 frames/second, no external power needed

Light is used for both image sensing and solar power.

This is awesome and scary at the same time... awesome because you can have cameras that you don't need to charge, scary because you know these cameras will be deployed everywhere and will be recording everything people do.

Microsoft built its own custom Linux kernel for its new IoT service

At RSA 2018, Microsoft announced the preview of Microsoft Azure Sphere, a new solution for creating highly-secured, Internet-connected microcontroller (MCU) devices. Azure Sphere includes three components that work together to protect and power devices at the intelligent edge.
  • Azure Sphere certified microcontrollers (MCUs):A new cross-over class of MCUs that combines both real-time and application processors with built-in Microsoft security technology and connectivity. Each chip includes custom silicon security technology from Microsoft, inspired by 15 years of experience and learnings from Xbox, to secure this new class of MCUs and the devices they power.

  • Azure Sphere OS: This OS is purpose-built to offer unequalled security and agility. Unlike the RTOSes common to MCUs today, our defense-in-depth IoT OS offers multiple layers of security. It combines security innovations pioneered in Windows, a security monitor, and a custom Linux kernel to create a highly-secured software environment and a trustworthy platform for new IoT experiences. 

  • Azure Sphere Security Service: A turnkey, cloud service that guards every Azure Sphere device; brokering trust for device-to-device and device-to-cloud communication through certificate-based authentication, detecting emerging security threats across the entire Azure Sphere ecosystem through online failure reporting, and renewing security through software updates. It brings the rigor and scale Microsoft has built over decades protecting our own devices and data in the cloud to MCU powered devices. 

  • These capabilities come together to enable Azure Sphere to meet all 7 properties of a highly secured device – making it a first of its kind solution.

Here is a short video that has also some information

FDA clears first contact lens with light-adaptive technology

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today cleared the first contact lens to incorporate an additive that automatically darkens the lens when exposed to bright light. The Acuvue Oasys Contact Lenses with Transitions Light Intelligent Technology are soft contact lenses indicated for daily use to correct the vision of people with non-diseased eyes who are nearsighted (myopia) or farsighted (hyperopia). They can be used by people with certain degrees of astigmatism, an abnormal curvature of the eye.

This sounds cool but if it takes 10 seconds for the lenses to go back to normal clear view you might have issues when going into a tunnel when you drive with these lenses in.

Some cool stuff you might enjoy

Glass for geeks: An in-depth tour of Nikon’s Hikari Glass factory

I've been on a lot of factory tours with various camera and lens manufacturers before, but had never had a chance to see how the optical glass was made that goes into the lenses we use every day. So I was really happy to receive an invite from Nikon to tour their Hikari Glass factory in Akita Japan, following the annual CP+ trade show in Yokohama this year.

This was a pretty special tour, as we got to see the whole process, from start to finish, hosted by three of Hikari's top executives. Our hosts were Mr. Tatsuo Ishitoya, President-Director, Mr. Akio Arai, Corporate Vice President and Production General Manager, and Mr. Toshihiko Futami, Director and Management General Manager. Mr. Masaru Kobayashi, Assistant Manager of the Administration Section also accompanied us and contributed to the information we received. Arai-san is the person directly responsible for plant operations, and it was him who personally guided us on our extensive tour. All three executives briefed us before and after the tour itself.

Wow, I never thought about how complex this stuff is. Great article

Monday, April 16, 2018

TWID April 16, 2018

This is a post detailing some stuff I did, learned, posted and tweeted this week, I call this TWID (This week in Denis). I am doing this mostly for myself... a kind of an online journal so that I can look back on this later on. Will use the label TWID for these

This Week I Learned

Finished the Understanding Machine Learning with Python Pluralsight course

Understanding Machine Learning with Python

This was a pretty interesting course and it's perfect for a beginner. You don't need to know any AI, you also don't need to know much Python either

This Week I tweeted

Oops... connected to the wrong server

On Tuesday, 13 March 2018 at 12:04 UTC a database query was accidentally run against our production database which truncated all tables.

It took us a day to uncover the root cause of the original database truncation. Using our API logs, and with information from our upstream provider about the IP address the query originated from, we were able to identify a truncate query run during tests using the Database Cleaner gem. The shell the tests ran in unknowingly had a DATABASE_URL environment variable set as our production database. It was an old terminal window in a tmux session that had been used for inspecting production data many days before. The developer returned to this window and executed the test suite with the DATABASE_URL still set.

This is why getting to the production DB should only be enabled on a handful of servers, which few people can access. Deploy to prod from there, test, staging and dev can be done from less restrictive machines. Never should you build both from the same machines!

The sale of electric cars more than doubles in first quarter in the Netherlands

The sale of battery-powered electric cars increased by 136% to 3,945 in the first three months of 2018, motoring organisation RAI Vereniging reported on Monday. The market for electric cars, so far, is miniscule, but the Netherlands is the world’s fifth-largest market for electric cars after China, the US, Japan and Norway, according to the International Energy Agency.
It's still a small number in the grand scheme of things but it is promising. Wondering if the Tesla 3 model will make an impact.

Check if facebook shared your info with Cambridge Analytica

Recently, we shared information about the potential misuse of your Facebook data by apps and websites. We also shared plans for how we're taking action to prevent this from happening in the future.
Check below to see if your information may have been shared with Cambridge Analytica by the app “This Is Your Digital Life.”

It looks like my data wasn't shared.. but then again I don't take silly quizzes. I also don't have facebook installed on my current phone which I got in December, neither have I ever logged in from the PC I am typing from at the moment.

Why Does “=” Mean Assignment? 

A common FP critique of imperative programming goes like this: “How can a = a + 1? That’s like saying 1 = 2. Mutable assignment makes no sense.” This is a notation mismatch: “equals” should mean “equality”, when it really means “assign”. I agree with this criticism and think it’s bad notation. But I also know some languages don’t write a = a + 1, instead writing a := a + 1. Why isn’t that the norm?

The usual answer is “because of C”. But that’s just passing the buck: why does C do it that way? Let’s find out!

I also always though it's because of C  :-)  Now you know why :-)

A massive, 'semi-infinite' trove of rare-earth metals has been found in Japan

Researchers have found hundreds of years' worth of rare-earth materials underneath Japanese waters — enough to supply to the world on a "semi-infinite basis," according to a study published in Nature Publishing Group's Scientific Reports.
Rare-earth metals are crucial in the making of high-tech products such as electric vehicles and batteries, and most of the world has relied on China for almost all of its needs.

Japan started seeking its own rare-earth metals after China held back shipments in 2010 during a dispute over islands both countries claim. These island are the Senkaku Islands, they are also known as the Diaoyu Islands and the Pinnacle Islands

Unusual Homes Around the World

Some of these houses are very unique, strange and in some cases very impressive. The Heliodome one looks really interesting.

Would you want to live in some of these?

See also for a documentary about unusual homes. I like the house that uses the wing of an airplane as its roof

Some cool stuff you might enjoy

DatabaseFlow -- an open source self-hosted SQL client

Database Flow is an open source self-hosted SQL client, GraphQL server, and charting application that works with your database. Visualize schemas, query plans, charts, and results. You can run Database Flow locally for your own use, or install to a shared server for the whole team.

Here are some screenshots of what it looks like

Electricity Map

This shows in real-time where your electricity comes from and how much CO2 was emitted to produce it.

You can see what it looks like here

Some pics I took

Found this Indian Head penny from 1900 in my change. As you can see it's pretty worn out and not worth more than 25 cents probably. But it's still a nice piece of history to have. I think the older US coins were much nicer looking that the current ones. The Morgan dollar coin is probably one of the best looking coins ever made.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

TWID April 08, 2018

This is a post detailing some stuff I did, learned, posted and tweeted this week, I call this TWID (This week in Denis). I am doing this mostly for myself... a kind of an online journal so that I can look back on this later on. Will use the label TWID for these

I skipped a couple of weeks but decided to get back to post these again

Went to Washington DC with the family during spring break. I always wanted to see the cherry blossoms in DC but so far every time I visited Washington DC it was in the middle of the summer. This year I got lucky because it was colder than normal for March so the cherry trees didn't bloom until the first week of April.

Here is a pic I took of the Jefferson Memorial with the cherry blossoms in the foreground.

Jefferson Memorial through Cherry Blossoms

The plan was to visit NPR studios, see the Air and Space museum in Virginia and then to hit a museum or two.

The drive from Princeton to the Air and Space museum was not bad, it took a little under 4 hours. There were a couple of things I wanted to see in the museum, these were

The Space Shuttle
The Enola Gay plane
The Concord
World War II fighter planes

Here is the space shuttle

Space Shuttle

For some reason I thought the space shuttle was bigger, I guess I was comparing the shuttle to a Boeing 747

We took a tour and the tour guide was quite good, he had some interesting stories and facts that he gave us

Enola Gay Plane

In the pic above you see the Enola Gay plane, this is the plane that was used to drop the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The tour guy told us that when they were training in the US with this plane, there was only one person that knew what the real mission would be. It was interesting to see how shiny this plane was. I wonder who has to keep these plane polished and how long it takes
Here is also a close up of the cockpit
  Enola Gay Cockpit

The plane below is a Hawker Hurricane IIC

Hawker Hurricane IIC
The Hawker Hurricane IIC plane was the first British monoplane fighter and the first  British  fighter to exceed 483 kilometers (300 miles). Hurricane fighters fought the Luftwaffe and helped win the battle of Britain in the summer of 1940

The plane below is a Heinkel He 219 A Uhu

Heinkel He 219 A Uhu

A Heinkel He 219 A Uhu was armed with up to 8 cannons and guided to its target by radar. The Heinkel He 219 A Uhu (Eagle Owl) was one of the Luftwaffe most formidable night fighters. On the aircraft's first mission, a single Heinkel He 219 A Uhu shot down at least five British bombers

Here are some Luftwaffe planes with swastikas on them Luftwaffe Nazi Planes

Finally here you can see the 'real' Air Jaws :-)

  The real Air Jaws

The Air and Space museum in Virginia is really cool, it is bigger than the one in Washington DC and the entrance is free as well


NPR building with Capitol in the distance

We took a tour of the NPR facility in Washington DC. The tour was really good, it took an hour and they took us to several floors as well as the roof. Unfortunately, we were not allowed to take pictures on ever floor so I can just share a handful of pics.

I was surprised that NPR had a bunch of windows machines... I expected them all to be Macs or even Linux but nope... all Windows machines. Below is a pic of the backup studio, the microphones come from Germany and are quite expensive

Backup Studio at NPR

Sound Diffuser
What you see in the picture below is a sound diffuser.

Sound Diffuser at NPR

Here is how wikipedia explains what a sound diffuser is

Diffusors (or diffusers) are used to treat sound aberrations, such as echoes, in rooms. They are an excellent alternative or complement to sound absorption because they do not remove sound energy, but can be used to effectively reduce distinct echoes and reflections while still leaving a live sounding space. Compared to a reflective surface, which will cause most of the energy to be reflected off at an angle equal to the angle of incidence, a diffusor will cause the sound energy to be radiated in many directions, hence leading to a more diffusive acoustic space. It is also important that a diffusor spreads reflections in time as well as spatially. Diffusors can aid sound diffusion, but this is not why they are used in many cases; they are more often used to remove coloration and echoes.

Diffusors come in many shapes and materials. The birth of modern diffusors was marked by Manfred R. Schroeders' invention of number-theoretic diffusors in the 1970s.

More here:

In the pic below you can see my daughter Catherine holding the Emmy Awards that one of the Tiny Desk hosts won

Catherine holding the NPR Tiny Desk Emmy

Tiny Desk, yes you read that right... tiny not tidy  :-) Most of the stuff you see in this picture is the stuff that performers left after performing. Adele left her water bottle, I believe they KISS guys also left a water bottle.  Pretty cool to see all this stuff

NPR Tiny Desk

In the pic below is the camera David Gilkey was carrying when he was killed in Afghanistan on June 5th 2016. David Gilkey was a staff photographer and video editor for NPR, covering both national and international news

David Gilkey's Camera

This Week I Learned

Learned a bunch of stuff about PostgreSQL by taking a Pluralsight course

This Week I tweeted

Nikon versus Canon: A Story Of Technology Change

Pretty cool post showing you how Canon gained ground on Nikon

The high-stakes battle for the Pentagon’s winner-take-all cloud contract

There is a battle afoot, one you might not have heard about yet, but it involves a high-stakes winner-take-all contract for the Department of Defense’s cloud contract. It could involve billions of dollars and when a humongous sum of money meets a set of powerful tech companies, intrigue can’t be far behind.

The story even has a Star Wars reference with the Pentagon dubbing the project the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (or JEDI for short). Who says the Pentagon is staid?

The tech names involved include the likes of Amazon,  Google, Microsoft, Oracle and Rean Cloud, LLC.

Based on Trump's tweets last week... I doubt it will go to AWS

Some cool stuff you might enjoy

It's time to head back to RSS? 

THE MODERN WEB contains no shortage of horrors, from ubiquitous ad trackers to all-consuming platforms to YouTube comments, generally. Unfortunately, there's no panacea for what ails this internet we've built. But anyone weary of black-box algorithms controlling what you see online at least has a respite, one that's been there all along but has often gone ignored. Tired of Twitter? Facebook fatigued? It's time to head back to RSS.

Well I never left RSS, after Google Reader was shut down I switched to Feedly and have been using it ever since

Some pics I took

You can see all my Washington DC pics I posted on flickr here:

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Cool idea: old wine bottles repurposed as candle holders

NPR building with Capitol in the distance

While visiting the NPR building in Washington DC this week, I saw these cool wine bottle candle holders in the gift shop

Wine bottles recycled as candle holders

I thought that this was a pretty neat idea. why not repurpose the bottles instead of throwing them out.

What else could you repurpose a wine bottle for? I guess maybe something like a bird feeder. You could maybe make some sort of tiki torch as well. What about a penny piggy bank... not sure if pennies will fit.. but dimes might and you can always just put dollar bills in the bottle... but in order to get the bills out, you might have to break the bottle

Here are also some wine bottles with labels based on NPR podcast titles, that was pretty cool as wellNPR Wine

I am not familiar with these podcast shows, the only NPR podcast I listen to on a regular basis is Planet Money

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Panini WC 2018 codes for free sticker packs

As a kid I used to have the figurine panini sticker albums for the soccer world cup. I remember having the 1982 one and I had lots of fun filling in the empty spots and trading the duplicate stickers with other friends. The Maradona, Zico and Kempes stickers were my favorite ones

Now they have the album in digital format, there are mobile apps as well as a website You can reach the website app here:

Here is what the France page in my album looks like after I added the 3 stickers I had for France

For some reason you can only open a certain packs per day.

Right now I have 9 packs but I have to wait 10 hours till I can open another 5

There are codes that will give you free packs, you can use these codes below, each one will give you a pack of 5 stickers







These 7 panini ones don't work at the moment

panini1 (this will give you 1 pack)
panini2 (this will give you 2 packs)
panini3 (this will give you 3 packs)
panini4 (this will give you 4 packs)
panini5 (this will give you 5 packs)
panini6 (this will give you 5 packs)
panini7 (this will give you 5 packs)

The total of the 7 panini codes above is 25 packs !



After entering all those codes I have now 35 packs waiting to be opened... that is a whole week since you can only open 5 packs per day

As of now my album is 33% completed

So far I have not found any of the top 10 players like Messi, Ronaldo, Modric, Rakitic, Neymar, Kroos, Lewandowski, Hazard or Kane

As of 3/27/2018 5 AM I have not completed a whole page yet.

Edit 3/27.. Swapped Modric and Rakitic and I have finished my first team page, it is Croatia

Edit 3/29 at 41% completion, 25 stickers in swap area

Edit 3/30 at 50% completion, 19 stickers in swap area, have 36 packs that have yet to be opened
Finished the 2nd team page, it is Korea

Edit 3/31 at 60% completion, 13 stickers in swap area, have 33 packs that have yet to be opened
Finished the 3rd team page, it is Iceland

Edit 4/7 at 99% completion... need only one player... it's Neymar from Brazil/Paris Saint Germain

There are some prizes you can win, here is the info from the website

Edit 4/8  completed the album

When you click on the Album Complete Get Reward button, you can download a PDF. Right now the PDF is just 1 page, you can see what it looks like in the image below. I guess we have to wait a couple of more weeks before they have that album finalized

The first 50 names drawn at random from those participants who successfully complete the Panini Digital Sticker Album on or before 31 August 2018 will receive a grand prize.

Each of the 50 lucky winners will receive a luxury, hardbound book version of 2018 FIFA World Cup™ Russia Panini Official Sticker Album.

Each winner will also receive one MyPanini code allowing them order 10 printed copies of a single MyPanini sticker for free on (shipping is free for prize winners).

The second 50 names drawn at random from those participants who successfully complete the Panini Digital Sticker Album on or before 31 August 2018 will receive runner-up prizes

Each runner-up will receive a free MyPanini code for use on Each code is valid for 10 copies of a single MyPanini sticker (shipping is free for prize winners).

MyPanini™ stickers allow you to customise your very own unique Panini stickers and stick yourself into football history. MyPanini™ stickers will ensure you have something extra-special to stick, swap or gift your friends and family.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Tesla Model 3 or Tesla Model S..

Walked around near the train station today and saw a Tesla car. Initially I did not notice that this was a model 3, it looked like a model S to me

Here is what the car looked like

Tesla Model 3 vs Tesla Model S

The blue car is the model 3, the grey car is a model S.  The model S doesn't look that much bigger to me. I wonder if it makes sense for anyone to buy the model S at this point. Is there such a big difference between these two Tesla cars to warrant the price difference.  At the Princeton Junction parking lot there are about 8 or so Tesla cars I see regularly. Now with a ~33K price tag for a model 3, I wonder how long before we see more than 30 or even 50 of these cars?

According to Bloomberg, Tesla is producing 832 cars a week and have produced 10,299 model 3 cars so far.

You can see these number for yourself at the Bloomberg Tracker site here:

How about you, have you seen any Tesla Model 3 cars yet?

Sunday, January 14, 2018

TWID Jan 15, 2018

This is a post detailing some stuff I did, learned, posted and tweeted this week, I call this TWID (This week in Denis). I am doing this mostly for myself... a kind of an online journal so that I can look back on this later on. Will use the label TWID for these

Finished the blockchain pluralsight course this week and started on the Github course

Should be done with the Github course by tomorrow

Watched Hell or High Water,  the movie was really good and I especially like the music. The music is by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis and it's I guess Western music?

Started to listen to the King of Kings podcast from hardcore history, I think this is the third time I am listening to it. Such great stuff!!

This Week I Learned

Merkle tree
While watching the Pluralsight course Blockchain Fundamentals I learned about a Merkle tree

In cryptography and computer science, a hash tree or Merkle tree is a tree in which every leaf node is labelled with the hash of a data block and every non-leaf node is labelled with the cryptographic hash of the labels of its child nodes. Hash trees allow efficient and secure verification of the contents of large data structures. Hash trees are a generalization of hash lists and hash chains.

The concept of hash trees is named after Ralph Merkle who patented it in 1979

More about Merke Tree here:

White Plague
Heard about this on the Lore podcast episode 77. White plague is also known as consumption or tuberculosis, never heard it called white plague before. Tuberculosis I know very well, my grandfather died from it, he was 23 years old and when he died my father was only a month old. It was a rough time for my grandmother having to raise 3 kids on her own in the 1950s past war time frame.

Heard about the different kind of iron on the How it began podcast episode: Mastering Metals: From Sticks & Stones to Cars & Computers
Wrought iron... this is produced by putting the rock on a fire and then manipulating the iron by banging on it
Cast iron...  this is produced by using ovens and melting the iron.. it is however brittle
Steel... this is produced by removing carbon and it is not brittle like cast iron

This Week I Tweeted

A Vast, 430-Year-Old World Map, Full of Places and Creatures, Real and Imagined

The map shows a lush, highly personalized take on the world, with a surprisingly large collection of real and fantasy beasts carousing and cavorting on land and sea. Rumsey’s scan and digital assembly of the cartographic puzzle represents the first time that Monte’s work has been seen in its full glory: It is the single largest world map of the 16th century, and one largely forgotten or overlooked by cartographers and scholars.

Some interesting stuff, would be nice to have this hanging on the wall

Royal Mail’s Game of Thrones Stamp Collection available to order
These stamps look great.

Twitter, Snapchat tie up with Fox to provide coverage of FIFA World Cup

Twitter Inc is partnering with Twenty First Century Fox Inc’s Fox Sports to stream a live show on the FIFA World Cup soccer tournament set to be hosted in Russia later this year.  

Who is going to watch this on crappy telephone screens?

Some cool stuff you might enjoy

Good block chain material from ycombinator:

Small sample

In addition, the developer communities are remarkably receptive and helpful. Check out:

Some pics I took

Mountain of snow Eight feet of snow.... will take a while to melt.