Размисли за референдума, астрономията и всичко останало

Tags: Български, политика, мнения
Created on Mon, 26 Oct 2015

Първият ми блог пост на български от известно време насам. Всъщност дори няма да е блог пост, 'щото ще си е директно видео, което направих тая сутрин.

За електрическото гласуване, кои хора успяват и как да си живеете живота щастливо, вижте единственото правилно мнение само тук :)

Big Game - score 10 of a Murica movie

Tags: English, opinions
Created on Fri, 08 May 2015

I fell victim to another brainwash called Big Game, an american movie featuring Samuel Jackson's face and the Bratislava Radio Orchestra (epic music guys, worth it!). At the time of writing the movie had 80% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Spoiler alert obviously, although I advise you to save your precious hours on this planet and skip the movie. Unless you have murican flag on your wall, murican pants and tatooed one or more presidents on any parts of your body. Then you will probably like it but just please, stay in your southern state.

The movie starts okay - a boy in some far away, wild country, is to become a man by proving he can hunt on his 13 birthday. The country we later understand is Finland - a country with universal health care.

The boy has a typical character bad day - he doesn't really fit the expectations of his father or his tribe but he is allowed anyway to go and prove himself, a leap of faith provided by a not-so-moving dialogue between the father and the tribe's senior.

We then see the president of the United States of America, the greatest country in the Multiverse, played by Samuel Jackson, an american, riding in the mega presidential airplane of the United States of America, the only country in the Universe together with fighter jets that are ready to fight anyone who doesn't agree with anything Murica says.

Then he is betrayed, plane is shot, communications lost, plane crashes, his staff is killed and he lands in an emergency hatch in the Finish woods where he meets the boy.

The hatch can't be opened from the inside so the president writes the code on the muddy glass from the inside. 1492. Patriotism, madafaka!

The boy opens the hatch and the president, I am not joking asks the boy:

"You don't know who I am?! I am the President!!.... (waits for reaction by the FINISH 13 year old boy)... OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA"

Boy...

I am not especially patriotic about Bulgaria. But I think I might be offended if my country was displayed as a middle of nowhere forest where the people are kind of primates. And Hollywood decided to compare America with Finland... Oh, my Random... Where is Finland compared to M in terms of education, health care, democracy levels?

The movie goes very quickly downhill from there. Turns out there are terrorists who want to... well, we never really understand what they want to. Every scene is full of display of some american flags, satellite live coverage of the situation over the finish forests, panic at the Pentagon, the president claiming stuff as the property of the USA (the greatest... oh whatever). We never understand the characters motivations to kidnap/kill the president, there are just a lot of explosions. Including blowing up a lake for some reason. There is also the ala Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of Crystal Skull "Fridge is the ultimate survival place" and a decision by the president to enter a trap plane under water.

NOTHING MAKES SENSE!

Samuel Jackson is cast as the quote "the weakest president in the history", not the badass he knows how to play. Well, he does say at almost the end "Madafa..." but is cut midway I guess cause the movie was made for children. Although it was rated >12.

I understand if the movie should be targeted at children. It could be seen fun and you know, bring patriotism. But then why do we have >12!?!

And how Rotten Tomatoes gave it 80%

Yes, I know it's about money and patriotism and Americans love this. Just I wish we displayed more independent movies or the movies just reverted to telling a good story rather than flashing bombs, explosions and ending the world behind CGI, blue/green screens and maybe flashing actors face (if it's not too much).

Learning through participation as the rule rather than the exception

Tags: English, opinions, essays, university, learning
Created on Wed, 18 Feb 2015

School has never been only about learning stuff.

For few years I believed it’s the things happening in the breaks that matter. Relationships, doing stupid things and talking about crazy ideas. But that’s not completely true. I believed that because just my last memories from school are that things in the break matter. But it didn’t use to be the case. I loved learning things when I was younger.

Oh my, I would read like crazy - Encyclopedias, science books, I would draw the planets of the cosmos and remember the map of Europe. For 16 years of education, school and later University were trying really, really hard to kill this in me. My love and passions, my curiosities. I (almost completely) stopped going to school in the last couple of years. I was having my own projects and I didn’t care about the things in the breaks so nothing could keep me there. There were a few subjects like Physics that were interesting to me but by the last couple of years I started slowly falling out of love for the subject. Computers were my new passion and school just could not keep any challenge in that subject for me.

In my visits to the schools this year I saw this projection of myself clearer than ever. My first class was 4th year students. When I looked at them, that’s exactly how I remember feeling - bored our of my mind, not caring, trying to squeeze in a conversation about anything but the class. But then I met with 1st years... My host teacher, Mrs McVey, can confirm how staggered I was the first time I saw the difference! They were so lively, passionate and open to meeting me! And most of them, actually interested in the subject as well. I loved meeting them - they would ask me all sorts of questions about my country, about my studies, about my work at Google. The fourth years? They would barely notice I was there or anything was there at all for that matter!

So what changes in these few years time? Everything! Your priorities shift. While you were once genuinely interested to know the world, eager to meet new people to play with, you now start copying adults. Everybody starts expecting you to be an adult - your parents, your teachers, your more mature friends. And while you still play secretly with robots at the lone hours at home, the picture that the society tries to project on you changes. They want you to throw away your toys and start going to parties. Hey, you want to do that too - you gotta fit in! It is where the new playground has moved. It’s the same people most of the time, yet with louder music, questionable substances and new dictionary.

And your genuine interests slowly fade substituted by interests of society. Who is your girlfriend? Do you smoke? Do you drink? Which University are you going to choose? What are you going to work? A lot of character and/or antisocial behaviour is needed to not care and continue doing what you were doing. Most of the people don’t make it, you change.

You are not a child anymore. You have responsibilities. You start having life of your own, your hormones are going crazy, you start searching for intimacy but without knowing what to expect or do since nobody teaches you this. You start crafting your own world. Your music. Your movies. Your sports. Your troup. You are not anymore attached to your parents as you used to, you start questioning their authority, their tastes, their boring, grey life. You are so full of things to do, yet they expect you to wash the dishes. Or be home by 8. 8? That’s when all the fun starts! Now, you know you are not a child anymore, you reshaped, you want to be seen like this!

And that’s okay. It’s how the world works.

But in the same time, school stays the same. School doesn’t pay attention to your changing environment. School wants you to learn stuff as you have learnt it before. No, it wants you to do it better. It acknowledges that you are an adult by giving you more things to do. Harder things to do. But a human being can only care about a constant amount of things.

So what happens? You stop caring about most of the subjects. You give in to the gossips and coolness talks. It is cool not to care about the subjects. The plan of action becomes a challenge - “No matter what the teacher does, I will be against it! I will not let her interest me in anything or I will appear weak in front of my buddies!”

But the truth is every single one of us has a child in himself. It is buried under deep levels of walls of prejudices, barriers and adult things. For some big adults it is being crushed completely almost beyond repair. But for the most teenagers it is purely a matter of tact to bring it out and let the curiosity and interest spur.

How do we do that? Well, the teenager’s (and adults) most important signal for right behaviour is the approval of his higher ranked friends. If they approve, the action is right and he will be still in the group.

Therefore, this becomes a power game. Could the teacher win it? The teacher has the most absolute power - she could say when to speak and when not, the grades (and therefore the peace at home) depends on her. But as an unrespected monarch, if the teacher doesn’t seem interested in what her “citizens” are interested in, she will lose the battle to “impose just laws”, i.e. teach them something.

The monarch needs to come down to her citizens, to understand them in order to rule them. And she has to do that without sacrificing authority.

This is all well in theory but what does it mean in practice?

Stop pretending to be omniscience and omnipotent and discover the knowledge with them. Be a good leader - just lead, don’t pretend to be the ultimate power. Engage them in workshops where you are the facilitator rather than God. Don’t be afraid to ask if you don’t know something, let them help you understand.

Show them why this thing is interesting in the proverbial real world. How does it apply in their terms, not in yours. What does it mean to know Excel? Finding job? They don’t care about that yet. In few years, maybe, but not now. Maybe they care about calculating their GPA. Show them that with Excel, not how to manage a library! And if someone knows something more which is interesting - ask them to go in front and show the rest. Don’t tell them to keep quiet all the time, let them talk what is interesting to them.

It is a monstrosity what I am seeing in the Scottish schools - start the day with one and a half hour of studying, no break. And then 10 minutes of break before another 1.5 hours!?!!? When is the social interaction happening? When are they talking about the things they care about?

The times I’ve seen pupils engaged is when they are allowed to speak between each other and it is something that they care about.

Workshops should be the standard, not the exception. Workshop which emphasises on participation, allows speaking and if you show them why this is interesting to them - they would discuss how to do it, play with it and it will bring the child out of them.

Participation, discovery, curiosity - things that mostly miss in schools today.

Thinking inside of a box

Tags: English, personal
Created on Sat, 14 Feb 2015

Yesterday I experienced what is it to be thinking inside of a box. I did that so that you never have to. I also spun a bit around which was okay for a while, but it gets tedious, boring and very hot, very soon. The real world is much cooler once you get out of it with a fresh mind.

KIDS (and adults), NEVER THINK INSIDE OF A BOX!

Discuss the argument that hackers do public service by finding and publicising computer security weaknesses

Tags: English, opinions, essays, university
Created on Tue, 10 Feb 2015

context: We have to write an essay for a course at University. But first, we have to submit a draft, then be assigned to read drafts of other people and mark them. Which in the end doesn't matter at all.

BTW, Честит рожден ден, тати!

Number 1. Oh my Random, not another essay!

Of course they do. Is there really an argument for the other side?

Let's first define hacker – a highly controversial term for the regular dumb man/woman/unidentified (henceforth referred to as a “cuggle” – a computer muggle. Muggle, in the Harry Potter universe, is someone who lacks any magical abilities and was not born in the magical world, often denying the existence of magic itself [1]). Now, cuggles believe that a hacker is bad word. They see it as someone who does bad things with the aid of computers like stealing money, blackmailing or lunching rockets by getting hold of NASA computers. While this is not unseen in real life [2] (IRL [3]), it is rarely the case when the term is used by cizards (a computer wizard)[4]. What cuggles are confusing the word with is usually a cracker [5].

The problem is not just semantics. While in the cizarding world hacker is used many times as a compliment to someone's abilities and highly applicable computer knowledge, mainstream media (and apparently University of Glasgow professors [6]) confuse the terms as of early 2015. This leads to much time wasted by graduating students trying to fake arguments from both sides of a useless argument, copying references of the References sections of wikipedia.org and spending their most precious hours of their 20ies in academic Sisyphean labor [7] (the mythological Greek dude who apparently wrote essays and pushed them off a cliff only to find there are more on the desk behind him).

So the question becomes – are highly intelligent people who are curious to see if they can break the thing that their fellow cizards built and when they do, then they expose the information of how they did it to the public (rather than lunching U.S.A. Ministry of Defence's missiles) in order to protect crackers from assuring mutual destruction, at a fault of doing that? Well, apparently there are at least two sections of the argument, so let's dive.

Number 2. First section of the argument

In the introduction I used my own words [8] to state the proposition. I tried to use Michael Jackson's words, but there were two problems I faced: 1. he is dead [9] and 2. he has copyrighted his words. Now I am going to argue against it because we all like to play crazy every once in a while.

As software becomes more and more complex and as every programmer depends on millions of lines of software written by other people, sometimes even provided by competing companies (e.g. Google's Chrome used originally Apple's WebKit as a webpage rendering engine), cizards are aware that no matter how much you test a product, you will end up with bugs crawling at some dark places of your code. As Dijkstra said it “Program testing can be used to show the presence of bugs, but never to show their absence!” [10] That's why Google [11] and many other companies with significant online presence cit needed have issued a step-by-step guide of how to report vulnerabilities in their systems. Usually the process is disclosing the found problem(s) with the company responsible for issuing and maintaining the software and giving it time to fix it. Often, there are rewards for people discovering vulnerabilities in the public space and following the said protocol [12] rather than publicizing it directly.

In some cases however, this is not possible. Last year's example of the so called heartbleed vulnerability was found in the open source project OpenSSL [13]. Open source projects are projects which everybody could read the source code and contribute to and they are often used even by big companies as projects have licenses permitting that. While the intention is sharing the love and the knowledge that humanity as species has acquired and even though millions of eyes have looked at the code, sometimes serious vulnerabilities could creep in. Discovering this particular problem and disclosing it in the public space gives the chance to crackers (sort of the Deatheaters, remember) to do malicious things for their personal gain until all the companies using the software have patched the bad code.

Was the person discovering the bug a hacker in the cuggles' eyes? Certainly not (that is if cuggles even understood what happened among the ocean of information about Miley Cirus shaving her head) – he was a good guy that discovered that other good guys made a mistake. But in cizards' eyes he definitely was one – a smart guy who saw what other haven't seen. He hacked the system. He was smart enough to see it and instead of destroying the world, he decided to protect the world by publicizing the information. However by doing so, he allowed for crackers to possibly steal bank accounts' money of everyday people.

Vulnerabilities are found every day and logs of vulnerabilities in unpatched software exist in the not-so-deep web. With enough determination, everybody could become a cracker. Exploits are created by cizards, crackers and hackers and everybody who can google and want to do something malicious to people with unupdated software could use these scripts without even understanding exactly what they are doing. These are also known as script kiddies [14]. It's like a wizard giving magic potion to a muggle to make someone fall in love with them – the muggle doesn't need to know how the potion was made, he only wants the result. Is this ethical? It is a matter of opinion of course, but this is my essay and my opinion is that if the company maintaining the software has been given enough time to create a patch and push it to users in a seamless way so that cuggles don't even know that anything was fixed, then yes, it is ethical. As in history, it is good to put out information that shows how stupid we were once and how smart we are now. Or is that not the point of history?

Number 3. Second section of the argument

In the previous section I tried really hard to explain why it might be bad for the world to know things. “Ignorance is bliss” as some smart dude once said. If it was not convincing enough, I propose that you start following a religion if you don't already. It will lock you in a box, explain you many of the things you find uncomfortable in life and it will provide you with the security of knowing what happens after you die, how the world began and will give you the power to tell other people who are not following your religion that they are going to a bad place after they die. Which for most of us is either fire or worms' gut [15].

For the rest of us who like knowing things and trying to make the world a better place by using the scientific method, discovering problems in software that half of the people on the planet [16] use daily is a thing we need. While giving the information straight to the media is at least stupid if not downward idiotic way of boosting your ego, disclosing information first with the responsible companies is a smart thing to do. Now if the company stubbornly doesn't want to fix the software that millions of people use, because “it will not meet financial numbers” and thus giving the opportunity to crackers to pwn someone's machine, well then, what else could a good hacker do than ruing the reputation of a stupid company by showing how stupid it is. It deserves it, doesn't it? A company is supposed to serve in the best interest of people. If it tries to appear to do that but it doesn't, then by all means it deserves to be humiliated publicly.

I don't really know what else I can say here. If you don't like it, choose a religion. Or a Linux distro and shovel it down everybody's throats. I'm tired of pushing rocks.

Number 4. Conclusion

Everybody can have opinions for things. What I said, is what I truly believe in and don't really see how I could've written it differently if we lived in a free world. Now I am the kind of person that holds to his believes until proven wrong. And then I change them. Opinions are not you, opinions are things that you put in a basket and carry with you. Discussing them in an essay is something that I like doing but I don't like being forced to express them in a particular academic way, I don't like being put in a box of unclear rules of what makes a good essay. This is not exact science – some people like it, some people don't. If there is a measurement, it would be numbers. Criteria like “Very well structured; very interesting” is highly subjective. On this subjective criteria, an absolute number will be given which would represent itself IRL as an absolute mark number. How does that make sense, I couldn't understand for 16 years in education system. Of course, you dear draft reader, are probably reading something that would not make it to the final submission. Nevertheless, I hope you enjoyed it!

Now, you have to write a critique that wouldn't even matter in the future as marks. Follow Nike's slogan: Just do it! Shamelessly! Critique my references, style, grammar, inappropriate use of words and abbr. Explain how I can't discriminate people based on religious believes, or that my evidence is not strong enough. Praise me for something random so that we follow the balance principle of our democratic society and move on. Don't spend more than 5 minutes, just type something, and go to a party. I am deeply sorry that you had to read this piece of shit, but it was not my call. I would not make you do it, but I tried to make it just a bit more interesting to you than it would have to be in the final one. Which will be another boring discussion of a random topic so that I can finally prove that I can use words, I have developed my critical thinking, be able to solve problems under time pressure, deal with stress and anxiety, work in a team and decide which animal would describe me the best.

Have a nice day!

  1. Rowling, J. K. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. London: Bloomsbury Pub., 1997. Print.

  2. http://digital.asiaone.com/digital/news/hackers-leak-bank-data-240-poly-alumni Retrieved Feb 10, 2015

  3. http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=IRL Retrieved Feb 10, 2015

  4. http://jargon-file.org/archive/jargon-1.5.0.dos.txt. Retrieved Feb 10, 2015

  5. http://catb.org/jargon/html/C/cracker.html Retrieved Feb 10, 2015

  6. http://moodle2.gla.ac.uk/pluginfile.php/372358/mod_resource/content/3/Assignment3.pdf Retrieved Feb 10, 2015

  7. Homer, Iliad VI 152ss (From now on assume they were all retrieved today, 10 Feb 2015)

  8. http://moodle2.gla.ac.uk/pluginfile.php/340319/mod_folder/content/0/11.Essay-launch.pdf?forcedownload=1

  9. https://michaeljacksonnotdead.wordpress.com/ ...or is he...?

  10. Dijkstra (1969) J.N. Buxton and B. Randell, eds, Software Engineering Techniques, April 1970, p. 16. Report on a conference sponsored by the NATO Science Committee, Rome, Italy, 27–31 October 1969.

  11. http://googleonlinesecurity.blogspot.co.uk/2010/07/rebooting-responsible-disclosure-focus.html

  12. http://www.google.com/about/appsecurity/reward-program/

  13. http://heartbleed.com/

  14. http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=script+kiddie

  15. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nqOITqLfnkc

  16. http://www.internetworldstats.com/stats.htm

cit needed https://xkcd.com/285/