30 May 2008

Two important life goals reached

I have achieved two extremely important goals today. More specificly, I found stuff, really cool stuff.

1. I found a job
. Two actually. I went to two interviews and got both jobs. I rejected the PHP programmer offer and chose the job where I will learn C# at work.

2. I found a Hello Kitty item that wasn't listed yet on Hello Kitty Hell. It's a Hello Kitty hole punch:
The image credit goes to HelloKittyMuseum and the entry on Hello Kitty Hell is now here.

28 May 2008

What the geek is up to

Here's what I'm up to right now:

  • Jobhunting. I didn't get the internship I was applying for and I'm really disappointed. So, the search goes on.
  • Working out. I've finally updated my gym routine and my other blog (the details are over there).
  • Learning how to make a GUI in Java. Like this. Because, as you all know, I'm learning Java.
  • Studying, studying, studying. Finals are coming. Actually, one has already come, psychology, and I passed.

25 May 2008

Free the bathing suits!

I recently ordered a new bathing suit, namely this one:

I choose it because of its original cut: it looks a bit like a dress or figure skating outfit.

The reason of my choice were not body issues. I just cannot stand how nowadays, there is all this talking about freedom, being yourself and doing what you want, but there is only one form of bathing suit socially acceptable. Plus, this only right cut is far from perfect, as many women feel uncomfortable in it. Our personal-freedom-oriented culture puts a lot of pressure on them to look perfect for the "bikini season". There also is a huge lack of respect for the female body in our society, which takes form in pointing out its imperfections when it does not fit the norms, or treating it in a far from platonic way when it does. Well, at least, women can choose the way they are disrespected.

Anyway, what I think, is that any form of bathing suit (as long as it is safe, of course) should be socially acceptable, from bikini to Burquini:

I really hope the recent invention of the Burquini will be the start of the liberation of the bathing suit in any shape or form and soon every woman will be able to find a bathing outfit that she will feel comfortable in.

You may read more about the Burquini here and the bikini season here.

[Picture credit]

23 May 2008

Life geekified: mailboxes

Today's theme is geek mailboxes. Aren't they great?

It's great to see how any area of your life can be geekified.

[Source, source, source, source, source]

21 May 2008

This just in: Steve Baller egged!

My, do I love the "this just in" expression... and the M-corporation...

Anyway, to the point: on Monday, at the Hungarian University of Economics, a student threw eggs at Steve Ballmer. This is horrible! He missed!

20 May 2008

Geek works on soft skills

I am officially job-hunting, so I have plenty of thoughts to share. Last topic was career experiments, and today's is soft skills. Yeah, I know, geeks and soft skills...

I'm not gonna get into details about times when I couldn't answer any question that wasn't perfectly precise and small talk was just a programming language for me. Let's just say I've always been a true geek.

College is a bit easier with better soft skills, but it's not really the place where you get to work with people a lot or gain a lot of charisma. Well, you can in different clubs and associations, and these are loved on resumes, but with my two majors, I don't have time for that. I am co-founder of the .net club at my Uni, but, well, actually, I am on the co-founders list and not much more.

There are however some cool career days for students and I have been to a few. My first case study happened at one of these and was a disaster. In the first part, my team didn't do the task in the given time, so we kept talking when the presentations began, which was disturbing and made a really bad impression. In the second part, the team got much better, but my role was "living calculator". I was great at this - we were faster that a team with a real calculator - but the soft skills... I did find a good way to help the team, but wasn't really in it, didn't communicate much and stuff.

A few months ago, I went to another case study organized by a consulting company. I was hesitating, but Boyfriend told me to do it, saying that I could use any experience of the kind. I didn't like it at all - all we had to do was read some text, find out the problems of an imaginary company and offer solutions. I decided to stay away from consulting (in favor of coding) and further case studies, considering that last one a waste of time.

Back to the present and the job-hunting: I'm applying for several jobs and as part of the recrutation for the first one on my list right now, I took part yesterday in something called "assessment center", which included making a business plan for a circus... in a team. As I was sitting there wondering wether five jugglers were too much - it hit me: I've done that already! Not running a circus, but teamwork: I knew what it looked like and I knew how weak I was in it, how little I took part in the discussion, how I ended up hidden in the corner,... This time was different from the previous ones when I had nothing but a few hours to loose. I wanted the job and hiding in the corner was the last thing to do. I decided to do anything not to remain unnoticed. So when I was running out of things to say, I took the initiative and started writing down the team's ideas, sorted in categories. It lead me to becoming the moderator of the discussion: since I wanted things written down, I had to know how, so I forced the team to decide on each thing before moving to the next one. Finally, I did the final presentation without almost any stage fright.

I'm really happy about that last teamwork of mine. I still have to wait a week before I know whether I got the job, but, I have gained one thing for sure: better soft skills. Additionally, I have proved that they are learnable - that's good news for all the geeks!

16 May 2008

Career experiments

We're living in a bit difficult times when it comes to career choices. As kids we have those illustrated books about jobs and we see: teacher, doctor, stewardess, shoemaker, butcher, baker, tailor. This list has very little to do with the real world. In high school, most people still have no idea of what to do in life and in college, they start finding out what they like to do but still often don't know how to make a career out of it.

That was the case of 26-year old Sean Aiken. After graduating as valedictorian of his class from British Columbia's Capilano College, he didn't know what he wanted to do and decided to try one job a week for a year. He blogged about it on his website during the whole year. The thing is that, as far as I know, he still doesn't know what he wants to do.

Now a slightly unrelated, but really inspiring story. Adam Shepard decided to try te american dream and start life with only one gym bag of personal belongings and 25$ (literally - he slept in a homeless shelter at the beginning). Ten months later, he had an apartment, a car, and $5000 of savings. You can read interviews with him here and here, as well as his own book.

The last, but biggest, career experiment I'd like to mention, is called "Vocation Vacations". It's a project that lets you get an internhip at your dream job to see if it really is your dream. Here's an article about it. Too bad it U.S./U.K. only. There's no programming category, no cryptologist either. But, one of my dream jobs is chocolate taster, and there is a chocolatier position:
Package: Two days of one-on-one mentorship in your dream job as a Chocolatier
Price: $999 per person
Besides chocolate taster, my other dream job it stylist in a magazine. You get to pick clothes and take pictures of them (but this part of the work is done by a photographer) and where do the clothes go afterwards? Here we go, fashion stylist:
Package: Two days of one-on-one mentorship in your dream job as a Style Expert
Price: $1149 per person
Finally, songwriter. There are quite a few positions as songwriter and music publisher, all about 2000$. Yep, the internships are paid, but the other way around. Still, it's a great opportunity to try our dream job, so I guess it's worth it.

[Update] I just learned about a very similar French project for students called Pro d'un jour.[/Update]

So I was saying we were living in a bit difficult times because it's so hard to find one's way in life. But, on the other hand, we're living in times when we can literally do whatever we want, and that's awesome.

13 May 2008

My cat got his ear pierced

Let me make this clear: I'd never do that to my cat. Having been bathed and taken to the vet several times, the poor animal has surely suffered enough. He most probably got this piercing from another cat while fighting for the territory.

It's interesting to see how much people and animals have in common: among many others, we all do yoga and get piercings apparently.

09 May 2008

Off my wishlist: Amy Studt's "My Paper Made Men"

I finally managed to get Amy Studt's new album "My Paper Made Men" I mentionned a few days ago. Man, was that a journey!

iTunes didn't let me buy because I'm from Poland. HMV (link works in IE only, sorry) didn't validate my card. No Polish mp3 store had the album, as it has only been released in the UK. 7digital was tricky because the album didn't appear on Amy's page, so I went there quite a few times, throught it wasn't avaliable and closed the page before finding it. But I finally did, paid with PayPal, and got wma files. While I was there, I also downloaded four b-sides.

The wma files turned out to be DRM-protected and Winamp wouldn't let me validate them. Windows Media Player did, but didn't let me burn a CD. Well, as it turns out, DRM removal is way easier than coping with DRM. That's the type of security I adore - the one that causes more problems to honest paying users than to pirates. But, there's no point in ranting, the point is that I got the album legally, contributed to its charts positions and most of all, that the music is simply delightful.

08 May 2008

A totally lame post about how beautiful spring is.

Better ignore this post as it has no geekness, nor relevant content. I just need to get out of my system how delightful the wether is right now. The sun is shining most of the time, but it isn't hot yet and there are no mosqitoes (and almost no insects at all). I keep my windows open during the day and the temperature is juct perfect (in summer, you have to wait for the night to come in order to open the windows, but then you have to deal with the insects). I can mix my summer and winter clothes and basically use every single piece of clothing I own to create unique outfits - spring is so inspiring! I can spend loads of time outside without putting my fragile health at risk.

Okay, enough.

06 May 2008

On my wishlist: a few CDs

First, Amy Studt's new album "My paper made men" was just released yesterday.

She released an album called "False Smiles" a few years ago that had great teenage lyrics (and great music as well - Amy's parents are both musicians and she can play 3 instruments: the guitar, the piano, and something else I don't remember). Now I have grown out of teen stuff, but so has she. The LA Times said to "ignore any dim memories of her midteens pop phase a while ago", so the albums seems great (as you can tell from the singles).

Now I just have to get this album somehow. So far, it's only been released on UK iTunes, let's see if it lets me download it and if I can play the files on my Nokia 770, which is clearly not an iPod. Until now the only mp3 I have bought over the internet were Paramore's albums from the Fueled by Ramen store, which was a very positive experience: no one care which country I was from, as long as I could pay by PayPal, my technical issues were fixed within hours, and I got plain and simple mp3 files, which is exactly what I wanted.

Another important position on my wishlist, Primsleur's Arabic course:

I found it through this Metafilter thread, and the reviews are very enthousiastic (more on Primsleur's approach here). According to their site, it's what spies use to survive and cope overseas, and the courses are now used by the FBI, CIA, and business professionals everywhere. Plus, the approach is scientific, which is illustrated by this picture:

Geeks love scientific stuff and know nothing more convincing than the picture of a man dressed in white looking though a microscope to find a scientific way of teaching languages. I'm buying it.

They offer two versions: Eastern and Egyptian Arabic. So far, I've been learning Modern Standard Arabic, but here, I'd choose Egyptian. Another Metafilter thread clarifies this issue.

[Pictures source, source.]

04 May 2008

This just in: new great master seminar for the CS major!

My third year of computer science studies is ending soon, which means I have to choose one of about 20 master seminars. I was thinking "Logic, Computational Theory and Cryptography", as it has "crypto" in its name and I take all the courses that have "crypto" in their names. But, logic and computational theory... not really my thing, so I was wondering if there was a seminar about security. After all the crypto-classes in math, it would be great to learn something more practical. However, Boyfriend, who picked his CS master seminar two years ago, said there was no such thing.

So, yesterday, I decided to check what security courses my school offered, and I found this:
Course name: Security and Cryptography - interesting...
Academic year: 2008/2009 - very interesting...
Course type: master seminar - whoah!

Imagine this luck! Two years ago, when I had to choose a math master seminar and took interested in number theory (I finished both number theory courses with the best grades), "Number Theory and Cryptography" was created! (And I got in! Students with better grades have priority, so choosing a seminar doesn't mean you'll attend it yet.) And now, again, the seminar of my dreams appears! How amazing is that!

Now my only concern is to get in. Wish me luck!

01 May 2008

Rapidshare has a new captcha

Rapidshare has a new captcha. This time it's really hard:

I think I have a lot of AI to learn before can I teach my program to solve this one. But, on the other side, downloaders all around the world will finally make a good use of their time, contributing to mathematics. So I consider this a great idea.