29 October 2005

A small gotcha witha too smart printer.
I have a PostScript capable printer (Lexmark C510) connected to one computer and I ofter print to there from my notebook trough CUPS. I noted that sometimes the printer would blink "busy" lamp and then go back to "ready" without printing anything. Usually I just printed to a PS file, converted it to PDF with ps2pdf and then it worked. (I had no time to investigate then)
Now, I found, what the problem was - some apps on the notebook were generating Letter size Postscript and the printer only had A4 paper, so it simply ignored the data after parsing it. Doh!

27 October 2005

Also today I got a call from Google office in Dublin - I am flying there next Thursday, stay at a hotel overnight and then there will be an on-site interview on Friday afternoon and on Saturday I will be on my way back home.
Looking forward to that challenge.
Planning to buy a Canon Digital Rebel XT as my first SLR and can't decide on the lenses. What I know is that my current camera (Sony F717) has a fixed lens that is equivalent to 24-125mm and I would like to have a lens set that is wider at both ends.
I am already decided to take a Canon 50mm f/1.8 II prime lens - for portraits and for low light situations (in-house sports, ...). All experts say that this is a must have lens - it is very fast and gives wonderfully crisp pictures for a price of 75-80$.
Now I can't decide whether to buy the kit lens (Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6) or go and buy something better right in the beginning. After reading a comprehensive review of the best Canon lenses from Bob Atkins I am more confused then before.
One of the best compromise "walking" lenses is actually narrower then Sony's range - Canon EF 28-105/3.5-4.5 USM. Buying this lens would mean that after some time I will probably buy the kit lens or a 500-600$ lens for that wide end and a Canon EF 75-300/4-5.6 for the telephoto end. That is a total of 4 lenses - what a waste!
Now, if I would relax myself a bit on the money, I would take a Canon EF-S 17-85/3.5-5.6 USM and then extend to the telephoto end with Canon EF 75-300/4-5.6 or (new, much better, more expensive) Canon EF 70-300/4-5.6 IS USM.
Lets see what the numbers say:
Option 1 - kit lens + Canon EF 28-105/3.5-4.5 USM + Canon EF 75-300/4-5.6 = 100$ + 200$ + 150$ (or 450$ with IS and USM) = 450$
Option 2 - Canon EF-S 17-85/3.5-5.6 USM + Canon EF 75-300/4-5.6 = 520$ + 150$ (or 650$ for the great new Canon EF 70-300/4-5.6 IS USM) = 670$
My start-up lens choices vary from the recommended 350$ (kit + Canon EF 75-300/4-5.6 + 50mm prime) or 270$ (Canon EF 28-105/3.5-4.5 USM + 50mm prime) to 1250$ (Canon EF-S 17-85/3.5-5.6 USM, Canon EF 70-300/4-5.6 IS USM, 50 mm prime). We must also remember that I will also have to buy the camera itself (500-600$), a carrying bag (50$) and a CF card (100$). Ouch.
Spending 2k$ on a hobby, that is just very not me.

24 October 2005

Finally. I got the reply from Google - they want me to fly-in for an on-site interview. They will handle the flights, hotels, eating and other relevant issues and all I will have to care about is providing good answers to the questions that their engineers will be bombarding me thorough the day.

Unfortunately this silver lining has a little cloud in the middle - USA is out of H1b visas 'till Oct 2006, so I am asked to work at the Dublin office.

When I analysed the locations they gave me in the beginning, the Dublin office scored just below the Mountain View office. The good things were: being closer to Latvia and being inside EU (no visas, easier to travel), and the bad things were: weather and Irish terrorism.

Well ... let's see what they'll offer me in the end and maybe I will go to the Dublin office and then in a year or two transfer to the new Moffet Field facility or to the Chinese office :D

UPD: I am told that my gut feeling about IRA being a threat in Dublin is very far from reality. I must find out more about this city.

21 October 2005

Many people have mailed/irc'd/called/commented asking my what's up regarding that Google thingy. Well ... everything is still up in the air.
Apparently Google recruiters have hard time getting a report back from one of the engineers that interviewed me. :)

14 October 2005

The rule of crunchy goodness.

I have no idea if anyone has formulated this before, but here it goes. While I was making myself a salad (yes, that happens if you get addicted to that in HEL) I recalled that one of my friends was doing some experimentation to derive the optimum size of pieces to cut stuff in for a dish of his making. Basing on this i summarised my experience in the realm of salad and came to a conclusion:

Cut crunchy stuff in big pieces and chewy stuff in small pieces!

Following this simple rule we would cut salad leafs quite small and cabbage would come out relatively big. This way the salad will be crunchy and not slimy. Also you must remember that some stuff gets un-crunchy after the dressing soaks in.

That's all for the salad theory today - have some as a homework :D

12 October 2005

A few hours ago I went trough the third Google job interview. In many ways it was very similar to the second one - the difficulty level was almost the same, the questions were similar in nature and detail. The only problem is that I stumbled twice on this interview. First of all I needed a tiny reminder to do a bit of strace'ing before diving into source to debug a problem. However that was tiny compared to the fact that could not remember some details about the physical layout of a file system, specifically the structure of inodes was a bit under my radar.
I must say that I am really enjoying the questions - deep, insightful and satisfyingly complex. It is a pleasure to see my knowledge (or lack of it, sometimes) exposed in a professional way. :)
Many have asked me what to expect from a Google job interview. I must say - expect good questions. Ask yourself, if you would need to uncover as much of your relevant knowledge over a phone line, how would you do it? Expect factual questions about powers of two, programming algorithms and data structures, learn everything that goes on on all OSI levels, practise debugging problems, be inquisitive.
You can only be a true geek if you always want to know how exactly every thing works. You are a true geek, when you do know and understand it. You are a true hacker, when you can use it to your advantage.
If you are a true hacker, then you will have no problems on the interviews.
(Just being a geek also might just cut it ;))

P.S. I tried to follow the latest meme, but according to Google, I need nothing. I wish it was so :D

10 October 2005

A tiny Google Maps bonkers - Google does not exist!

08 October 2005

Okay, why this, the fact that I had to talk a lot about my involvement with the anti-swpat campaign in EU on my my second Google job interview, and the fact that they have contacted me for a third phone interview (seemingly from a different department) seem to make my brain go *click*?

07 October 2005

A quick note to those few people that read this blog and have at least a remote chance of bouncing into me in Real Life - I have shaved my mustache.
Yes. Really. No, I am not kidding you. I am perfectly aware that this is the first time I've done it in my entire life.
Anyway, if someone you do not recognize comes up to you on the street and is very friendly and a bit familiar, do not hit him with a baseball bat until you are sure that he is not me. :D

P.S. No photos of me without mustache exist, so hackergotchy must remain painfully out of date, for now.

06 October 2005

Google job interview, part 2. Technical knowledge - check!
Looks like I did well on the interview - answered all question and only messed up one of the advanced cached sorting algorithms (one of those when you can't load the whole data set into memory). The principles were correct, but I was a bit off on the specifics of the implementation. It looked that the engineer doing the interview was quite impressed. Let's see what the human resources people will tell me now. I was told that they will most probably get back to me next week - so I can relax a bit over the weekend and ... go bowling. Have not gone to one of those for a while :)

04 October 2005

In less then 24 hours I will face a good challenge - the second stage of my Google job interview. A Google engineer will call me and ask me deep questions to determine the bottom line of my knowledge. To prepare for that, I wrote a list of thing that I would want to refresh in my mind or to read up on.
There are two saying that came to my mind when I finished the list:
* The more you know, the more you forget
* The more you know, the more you realise that you don't know a lot more.

On a bright side that means that I must really know a lot to come up with this list, on the other side I will not manage to even browse trough materials on all those topics.

It will be fun :)

03 October 2005

I just had the weirdest dream ever - I am attacked by a daemon who has been raised to believe that the purpose of his existence is to kill me. I overpower him using some of my aikido, but when he tries to kill me while breaking his own arms, I try to stop him by threatening to kill him. He does not listen and I stick his own two knifes in him. He does not die, but weakens considerably and explains that I can't kill him because I do not want it enough, which seamed logical. :)
At this point the strangest thing starts - a small book made of round leather straps falls out of his pocket. The book. The language is clearly demonic, but I (and my friends that are gathered around) try to understand anyway. When we turn to the back of the front cover of the book, I find a circular writing that seams to be in Latin. In a jolt of intuition I start to read it in rhythm of a popular pop song. After around the half of the text, my friends join in. When we finish, we find that the book has transformed form 10cm circular thingies to a proper A4 book and when we turn the page, we see that the text is in Latvian now. We tried to browse forward, but text turned into gibberish further on.
A book that can only be read sequentially and translates itself to the language of the reader - nice idea. :) Unfortunately I woke up at that point and I still have no idea of what was written there. :(

02 October 2005 - simply great photography

01 October 2005

It's been a long time since I've had a muscle pain after aikido sessions, but today I do. On Thursday we had a special session when our trainer made one of the best students lead the training and joined us in exercises to "get us know better" :)
In our training we have an emphasis on how the uke (the attacker, who is then being thrown around by the one doing the technique) must help nage (the one doing the throwing) to do the technique properly by only reacting to a proper technique. That means to not fall if you're not out of balance or in pain.
So, then the trainer paired up with me for one of the techniques. We bowed and started the practise. I was the uke, so I attacked. The trainer caught my wrist and twisted my arm. I just stood there as there was no pain - he didn't twist it enough. The trainer looked at me, looked at my arm, said "Hmm" and we started over. Again attack, grab, twist (as hard as he could) and again a "Hmm" - this time a much louder one.
It appears that during the year and a half that I've been showing up to the aikido sessions (very irregularly) my joints have gained really impressive flexibility and some of the techniques just don't work on me anymore (I have been commented on my flexibility before - in a mountain climbing class). So the trainer spent next 20 minutes trying out all the extreme variations of the technique we were doing trying to find a way to bend my arm further. He got to try every one of the dangerous moves he always wanted to and many times I managed to escape grips that he thought were solid as rock. At few point the rest of pupils stopped doing their exercises and just watched me and the trainer rolling on the floor in a deadlock (usually with few of my limbs bent far beyond the angles they were designed for, but still resisting).
It was a really great fun both for me and for our trainer. Except for the muscle ache that for a strange reason only kicked in yesterday evening and really shines today. Ouch. :)