Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Books I read in 2015

This year I read 20 books. Ten of these books were fiction and ten were non-fiction. The Game of Thrones books were a re-read, I already read book 4 and 5 of this series before..

Here  are all the books I read in 2015

A Dance with Dragons (A Song of Ice and Fire) by George R. R. Martin
The most boring book of the series, not much happens, this is also the reason HBO decided to combine book 4 and 5 into one season.

A Feast for Crows: A Song of Ice and Fire (Game of Thrones) by George R.R. Martin
This is better than book 4, but it's not even close to book 3.

The Confident Speaker: Beat Your Nerves and Communicate at Your Best in Any Situation by Harrison Monarth
Got this from work, this book is pretty good, I used some of the techniques from this book to help me prepare for some presentations I had to give.

House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski

The weirdest book I have ever read
One part of this book is about a house which is always changing and somehow the measurements inside are larger  than the outside measurements. There is are video recordings of what happens inside the house to the Navidson family as well as some people who are trying to help. The other part of this book is about Johnny Truant who discovers the manuscript written by Zampanò about the videos mentioned earlier, the Navidson record. I don't want to give you more info about the story, this way I won't spoil anything for you
This book has pages with text in circles, braille, upside down text, mirrored text and much more. Here is also a short video with some of the weirder pages of the book

There are also hidden messages in the book, the word house is always colored blue, some of the references are real, some are made up

To the Last Man: A Novel of the First World War by Jeff Shaara
This is a historical fiction book focusing on World War I. This book is very very good, I would recommend this to anyone. A big part of the book deals with air warfare, you will learn a lot about Red Baron, Manfred von Richthofen and Raoul Lufberry. Another thing you will learn when reading this book is how the soldiers experienced trench warfare.

Becoming Steve Jobs: The Evolution of a Reckless Upstart into a Visionary Leader by Brent Schlender
This book is different than Isaacson book, plenty of quotes and anecdotes that have not been seen before, this book was also more focused on Steve Job's growth over the years.

George Washington's Secret Six: The Spy Ring That Saved the American Revolution by Brian Kilmeade
Learned a lot from this book, for someone who grew up in the Netherlands, this stuff is not taught in school.

Think Like a Freak: The Authors of Freakonomics Offer to Retrain Your Brain by Steven D. Levitt
Similar to freakonomins

Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future by Ashlee Vance
The Edison/Tesla of our time.... This book tells you how Musk grew up, started a bunch of companies and finally wants to be the first human who will travel to Mars. very fascinating character.

Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania by Erik Larson
Excellent book, a non-fiction book that reads like a novel, I couldn't put it down. Amazon's best book of the month for March 2015. Here are just some highlights of what reviewers had to say.

Larson is one of the modern masters of popular narrative nonfiction...a resourceful reporter and a subtle stylist who understands the tricky art of Edward Scissorhands-ing narrative strands into a pleasing story...An entertaining book about a great subject, and it will do much to make this seismic event resonate for new generations of readers."
—The New York Times Book Review

"Larson is an old hand at treating nonfiction like high drama...He knows how to pick details that have maximum soapy potential and then churn them down until they foam [and] has an eye for haunting, unexploited detail."
—The New York Times

"In his gripping new examination of the last days of what was then the fastest cruise ship in the world, Larson brings the past stingingly alive...He draws upon telegrams, war logs, love letters, and survivor depositions to provide the intriguing details, things I didn't know I wanted to know...Thrilling, dramatic and powerful."

"This enthralling and richly detailed account demonstrates that there was far more going on beneath the surface than is generally known...Larson's account [of the Lusitania's sinking] is the most lucid and suspenseful yet written, and he finds genuine emotional power in the unlucky confluences of forces, 'large and achingly small,' that set the stage for the ship's agonizing final moments."
—The Washington Post

"Utterly engrossing...Expertly ratcheting up the tension...Larson puts us on board with these people; it's page-turning history, breathing with life."
—The Seattle Times

"Larson has a gift for transforming historical re-creations into popular recreations, and Dead Wake is no exception...[He] provides first-rate suspense, a remarkable achievement given that we already know how this is going to turn out...The tension, in the reader's easy chair, is unbearable..."
—The Boston Globe

Finders Keepers: A Novel by Stephen King
Typical Stephen King story, you can't go wrong with Stephen King.

The Guns of August: The Pulitzer Prize-Winning Classic About the Outbreak of World War I by Barbara W. Tuchman
Very good book about World War I, this book focuses on the first month of the conflict.

The Wright Brothers by David McCullough
Loved this book, anyone who travels by plane should read this book, you will appreciate what these two guys accomplished pretty much by themselves

Seveneves: A Novel by Neal Stephenson
Very interesting book, in my opinion way too long, Neal Stephenson could have cut the book in half and still make a very compelling story. I liked the story a lot, the moon breaks apart and there is only a certain time frame in which to save humanity.

The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America by Erik Larson
Another book I enjoyed a lot. The most interesting part of the book for me was that you could see what life must have been in Chicago during the time period the book takes place in. The first time we had tall buildings, electricity and light bulbs, the first Ferris wheel. This book really contains two stories, one about the world fair, the other about a mass murdered.

Hitler's Last Day: Minute by Minute by Emma Craigie
Was disapointed in this book because it also covered a bunch of stuff that happened at other time...but I think if this wasn't done, then the book would have been 50 pages or so. Some interesting facts about what happened in the bunker and what it must have been like for the people inside that bunker.

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
An interesting thriller set in England, this would be a good book to read on the beach or on your commute.

Robopocalypse: A Novel (Vintage Contemporaries) by Daniel H. Wilson
This was pretty good, the robots came alive and decided to eliminate most of the humans. Sounds similar to The Terminator and Skynet but it's nothing like it.

Robogenesis by Daniel H. Wilson
Follows the story of Robopocalypse but I was getting bored towards the end

In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex by Nathaniel Philbrick
Probably my favorite book of the year, Moby Dick was based on this disaster. An excellent story about tragedy and survival at sea. I didn't know much about whaling or whale oil, after reading this book I can only appreciate what a tough job that must have been.

And here are the 5 books I like the most from this list of 20 books

In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex by Nathaniel Philbrick
Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future by Ashlee Vance
To the Last Man: A Novel of the First World War by Jeff Shaara
Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania by Erik Larson
The Wright Brothers by David McCullough

Monday, December 28, 2015

My 2016 new year's resolutions

I decided to put some of my new year's resolutions down in a post. These are non professional goals, here is what my goals are

Learn a new language
I want to learn a new language in 2016. I already know Croatian and Dutch, in addition to those I can understand most of German, I also have some knowledge of Italian and Spanish. The more languages you know, the easier it is to learn another language. To make it more difficult for me, I am picking a non European language. I decided to try to learn Chinese this year. 
When I say learn, what I mean is that I must be able to communicate with a person in Chinese as well as being able to watch a movie in Chinese while understanding 80% of the movie. By Chinese, I mean Mandarin, it would be really funny if I picked a movie in Cantonese and then couldn't understand anything. 
I work with a bunch of people from China and Taiwan, so I can always check with them to see if I am pronouncing words correctly.
If learning the Chinese language goes well, I want to then learn these 4 languages the next 4 years following 2016: Greek, Japanese, Portuguese, Korean. 

Read 30 books
In 2015, I read 20 books, this year I want to read 30 books. I want 5 of those books to deal with American history, I have been living in the US for 20+ years and most of the history books I read were about European history or World War i and World War II history. I also want to read more technical books, so 6 of those books should be technical.

Do a handstand, walk 30 feet on my hands
I can barely hold a handstand for 2 seconds, this year, I want to try to improve on that. My goal is to be able to do a handstand and hold it for 30 seconds. I also want to be able to walk 30 feet on my hands.

Improve on lifts
I would like to be be able to bench press 200 pounds, squat 300 pounds and deadlift 400 pounds by the end of the year. All of the lifts should be raw.

Blog more
I want to write 100 blog posts in 2016, this should not be that difficult, it is only 2 fricking posts per week, but sometimes I don't write anything for 6 months straight. In 2016 this will change, one thing that will make this easier is I will document the progress of my goals, this will be mostly focused on my progress learning the Chinese language.

So there you have it, that is my list, seems very doable and I will keep you and me posted on the progress of these lofty goals.......

Friday, October 16, 2015

What I tweeted this past week, 20151016 edition

Here is some of the interesting stuff I tweeted about this past week

Compile Big Gateway Policy changes in SQL Server 
SQL Server will automatically determine the number of concurrent queries that will be allowed in the Big Gateway depending on the Target Memory. Meaning, SQL Server will allow one query per 25GB of memory up to 80% of target.
The upper limit is only enforced by the medium gateway limit since all queries in big gateway would have first passed through medium gateway. For example, on a system that has 24 physical/48 logical cores and 64GB RAM, the new behavior allows for two large 25GB query compilations up to 48 concurrent compilations (as allowed by the medium gateway) if queries do not need 25GB for compilation. This is a dramatic improvement in number of large compiles compared to earlier versions.

Your first step in dealing with SQLState = S1000 I/O error while writing a BCP data-file 
What should be your first course of action when you encounter this error

Cloud Computing Finally Gets Some Startups
For years, getting into the business of renting out extra computing power through the cloud has been a bit like getting into the business of nuclear power

That formula is changing as cloud startups such as DigitalOcean and Backblaze begin to compete for customers with the likes of, Microsoft, and Google. The startups have managed to underbid the giants in certain markets by keeping expenses relatively low, either by writing their own versions of the software needed to run a cloud or by handcrafting the hardware needed to house one. “All the tools we’re using really pay dividends,” says DigitalOcean Chief Executive Officer Ben Uretsky. “I think that gives us a leg up.”

Computer science is now the top major for women at Stanford University
Computer science has for the first time become the most popular major for female students at Stanford University, a hopeful sign for those trying to build up the thin ranks of women in the technology field.
Based on preliminary declarations by upper-class students, about 214 women are majoring in computer science, accounting for about 30 percent of majors in that department, the California-based university told Reuters on Friday.
Human biology, which had been the most popular major for women, slipped to second place with 208.
If more women majored in technological fields like computer science, advocates say, that could help alleviate the dearth of women in engineering and related professions, where many practitioners draw on computer science backgrounds. 

This post explains why some of your tSQLt unit tests might not be running even though it might look correctly.

Finished:  The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America
This is a book written by Erik Larson about the Chicago World Fair and a serial killer who was active at the same time the fair was happening.

Execution Comparison Tool released with latest SSMS
With the recent release of CTP 2.4, some of you might have noticed something new shipped with SSMS – a Plan Comparison option. The purpose is to provide side-by-side comparison of two different showplans, for easier identification of similarities and changes, that explain the different behaviors for all the reasons stated above, which may include regressions or sudden query performance changes.

The #MH17 investigation points to a revolution in open-source intelligence
A group of Internet sleuths who trawled social media and other open sources in the days after the July 17, 2014, downing and were able to establish that pro-Russian separatists had done the deed. Their remarkable forensic achievements are just the latest example of a citizen-driven open-source intelligence revolution that democratic policy makers must learn to welcome, even when it is a source of embarrassment.

Are you going to watch Ash vs Evil Dead?
Starz is premiering a new show based on the Evil Dead series of movies of the 1980s

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Nasa Open Datasets available

NASA has opened up a bunch of datasets, code repositories and APIs.
In terms of data, they have the following categories:

Applied Science
Earth Science
Space Science

You can also filter on type of data, these are the types that are available right now:
Data Lens
Tabular Data
Filtered Views
External Links
Files & Documents

Here is what Meteorite Landings looks like, I just searched for the landings in New York

The cool thing is that you can export this data in a variety of formats, here is what it looks like

As you can see, you can export to csv, JSON, pdf, xls etc etc

So what are you waiting for, head over to the NASA site to start exploring and playing with this data. The link to the site is the following:

Here is the link to the main site, here you can get to all the other stuff:

Monday, September 14, 2015

Star Wars Stamps to be released October 20th in the UK

The Royal mail has released a bunch of Star Wars stamps. This issue celebrates Star Wars: The Force Awakens and the role that Britain’s world-leading film industry has played. This is pretty cool and I am sure that they will sell a lot of these stamps.  

From all of these Kylo Ren is my favorite character

You can check it all out here:

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Recruiting gem of the week

Got this email from a recruiter the other day. I have many times received interesting emails from recruiters but this one has to be one of the worst.


Good Morning,

Please go through the requirement below & if you are interested kindly forward your resume for immediate consideration.

Title: Database Engineer
Location: Manhattan,NY
Duration: 6 months

A database engineer who has experience creating a database from stage one to completion. Need someone that can handle either setting up or dealing with some sort of server to working with the team to create it.

Basically we have all of this sales/financial information and need to compile it into one place that's easily accessible to everyone.


  Really... some sort of server, what does that even mean?

Monday, August 31, 2015

Sorry to inform you, zombie series Fear the Walking Dead won't make it past the first season

I just started to watch the new series Fear the Walking Dead on AMC. Some people said the first episode was slow, I liked it and can't wait for the rest of the episodes. This is the first tv show I am watching on network tv in a long time. Most of the series I watch are on HBO and Showtime. The reason I mostly watch HBO and Showtime is because no matter what show I pick on non premium tv tv it gets cancelled the same season I start watching it.
Here is a list of the shows I started to watch only to have them being cancelled

The Street
The Event
Almost Human

Jericho is probably my favorite of that list, the network actually did create 6 or so more episodes to finish the story after an uproar by fans

But all is not lost, Vikings another show I watch, is still going strong and a new season will be on tv sometimes this winter

So hopefully Fear the Walking Dead will turn out to be good and we will have many seasons ahead like Vikings instead of The Event.....

What is your prediction...will Fear the Walking Dead make it or not?