Google devs, are you there?

Okay, so it’s time for another rant.

This time it is from my point of view as an app developer.

While developing a rather complex application recently, I again encountered a bunch of problems that were completely out of my control and directly under control of people who develop libraries for Google.

As we, developers, all know, if you want to develop an app for Android, you will most likely use various Google Play Services libraries, either directly or as a part of other libraries and framework plugins that other people used in their libs and so on. Great example here would be Google’s own Firebase and their set of services (all of them being great by the way).

What I don’t really understand and I would like to ask the devs at Google is, well… do you guys actually use this stuff? As in your own projects? Apart from those “test apps” that are made for presentations to highlight one or two particular features?

It is perplexing to see, time and time again, how libraries made under the roof of the same company have so many compatibility issues and version conflicts. Here’s an example:

They had to even publish this bit about “self serve fixes”, so bad it was (still is).

While this is just one example, consider that you then have, say Flutter, also developed under Google roof, which has a plugin that implements this ML kit library and while it would work by itself, when combined with anything else, developed by the SAME people at the SAME company, like for example their own plugin for AdMob – you will see version conflicts, things breaking, “service unbound” messages (which has probably more to do with the Play Services implementation and particular version) in console and who knows what else – depends on the versions that you’ll try to mate (when you realize that the latest ones don’t).

So yeah, it leaves me wondering, do these devs work on real products using what they created? It would really speed up the bug fixing, wouldn’t it? One thing is when you develop a lib and see others complain and whole other is when you need this lib to work and play nice with other things that you and people in the neighbouring office has created or you won’t hit deadlines, company will lose money and you will eventually get fired. Kinda motivates to do stuff, you know?

Hester Shaw

First of all I need to say that I’ve read the books and they are fantastic. Then I read what people had to say about them and it made me sad. It seems, that many critics just didn’t get what Philip Reeve was saying with making Hester what she is and by “didn’t get” I mean that they missed the mark completely.

In my opinion Hester Shaw is one of the best sci-fi/fantasy female heroines. She’s not your typical well adjusted human being, she’s not really kind and not too smart, but it all doesn’t really matter. Her story is a grim one and she’d be certainly dead few pages into the first book, if it wasn’t for Tom. Now, you have to understand that Tom and Hester only work together as characters, they complete each other while having both their own flaws. Plus, the story never pushes them into doing something epic, yet it just so happens that they do it and it’s the beauty of Philip Reeve’s writing. There are no absolute good or evil in his books, everyone is down to earth, most characters are believable and realistic in terms of the world they live in.

It saddens me, that most people didn’t get Hester’s final decision. As I wrote in a comment on another blog:  What was Hester before they met [with Tom]? A broken mess set on vengeance, ugly beyond repair girl that no one would love. Tom was the only person that was always kind to her no matter what, he conquered her heart doing things that no one would do for someone like her and even though we, as readers, know he had doubts, he eventually chose her over everyone else and did it again and again in the series. And Tom too was her only true love and all they’ve been through only strengthened it. After the first book I knew she’ll go anywhere and do anything for him, that’s just the person she is. Extreme loyalty to the one good and kind person in her life, it’s like dog’s loyalty, if you wish, like Hachiko, in a sense. Naturally, she didn’t want to live in a world without him.
Every great story is about love, this is one of them.

Now, let’s talk about the movie… Even though I doubt people would like to hear yet another opinion on the movie “Mortal Engines”, but here goes anyway: what were they thinking?!

The visual effect crew deserves an Oscar, but man, those writers that made everything else, I wouldn’t let them anywhere near another movie in their life. Actors did what they could, did it great, Hera Hilmar is very talented, so is Robert Sheehan and I hope to see more of them on the big screen. However, the script of this movie was just painful to watch, not only because they didn’t even try to bring the book to the screen. They made a vague story that kinda resembles some parts of the book, as if a guy with no talent for storytelling who read the original book a long time ago had to retell it, but forgot what was going on and filled in the gaps in memory with every Hollywood movie cliche that he could think off, brutally cutting off important story parts in the process and replacing them with his own lame ideas. So the movie “kinda resembles” the book, which is a real shame.

I don’t know why Philip Reeve said it was okay. Maybe he was just happy for his book to be made into a Hollywood movie (and honestly, who wouldn’t).

What is really sad, is that it was made by the same people that made Lord of the Rings series, which follows books almost literally page by page. They should’ve done the same here, but somehow thought it would be a great idea to just let loose their “creativity” where it was least needed.

Some scenes in the movie seem redundant and being there for no real reason, unless you’ve read the book. For example, when Tom runs away after hearing that the flying fleet will attack London. Then 30 seconds later it’s like “Tom where are you? Ah there you are, let’s go, I have a flash drive to stop Medusa” – like what? In the book he went to the city too, but it wasn’t the end of it, he saw a monk there, recognised it was Valentine in disguise and it lead to a whole series of events. But the movie adaptation authors decided that just showing Tom rushing away was enough, then they got back to their version of the story.

The movie makes Tom and Hester look like they’re special and important, while in the book they’re really not. It tells a completely false story, has a different ending, cliche villain dies without having his regrets, Katherine lives, nobody learns anything. Movie reeks with every possible Hollywood cliche that we see in almost any movie targeting young adults these days. It just makes me wanna yell like Greta Thunberg – “how dare you?!”

The state of crypto

After the big rise of cryptocurrency prices peaking in January, now it’s dropping back, same old story, but with so many new people on the scene, it seems that the initial mission and purpose of cryptocurrencies were lost under the heaps of cut paper with portraits of dead presidents. To bring stability and any kind of future for crypto, lines should be drawn. Let me explain my point.

You see, banks and other traditional finance institutions may say whatever they want, but the real truth is that crypto is their enemy and they don’t like it. Ultimately, if you can imagine a world economy operating in crypto, where the banks will be in such system, what will be their role in a world operating entirely in what essentially is “private money”? And the answer is that they won’t have a role, banks will be left in the old financial system. Same with many other institutions, taxation mechanics bound to them and so on. It all has to change and change dramatically.

However, what do we see now? Well the banks sure play their cards right, while saying “it’s for the client” they bash crypto and the current crypto crowd seems to lose their minds from any such news. Oh, another bank said they’ll ban crypto? Sell sell sell, price drop, wipe another 50-100b from market cap. Like seriously? What do you care?

Today’s cryptocurrency scene tries to play nice with traditional financial system, which it’s actually set to destroy with it’s own mere existence. This is such nonsense. The sooner people will understand this – the better. Cryptocurrency exchanges are to blame too, because they try so hard to get into the traditional financial system, they really try to be a part of it, while the cryptocurrency system doesn’t need that.

Crypto has to be at least parallel to the traditional financial system, not build into it, cuz it will never be accepted there. It’s worse than a new boy in class, it’s a new boy in an alien race. And I’m sure Satoshi didn’t want that either.

Like with many good things that people already destroyed with their greed, we already may be past the point of no return, which is really sad. Instead of seeing it as a replacement of the traditional financial system, people went on to make some quick bucks on trading this “new instrument” within that system. Duh, they even made things like Tether, which is partly the reason of current collapse of prices. People act on really irrelevant news like some banks saying “we ban crypto” well, crypto never liked you anyway and it doesn’t need you, why should it care.

Realistically, there should be a transition period, when the fiat system will give the reins to crypto, but it all comes down to “value transition” into crypto. It has to be clearly stated that other than that, the cryptocurrency system will not have ties to traditional financial system and once in there you operate in crypto to crypto, you can’t care less what some banks with vaults filled with cut paper have to say cuz you don’t need them anymore.

And as side note, for all paper-lovers, what makes you so sure that it has any value? Read up on the fiat money system, it’s fun.

Neural Nets – how long till A.I.?

I see news on neural networks almost every day now, they do all kinds of stuff – from market predictions to editing pictures in your phone (see Prisma or w/e that latest fancy app is called).

However, most people and particularly journalists that write articles about them, don’t really understand what a Neural Net (NN) is, some even think that it may lead to the development of Artificial Intelligence (AI).

Well let me tell you about it: AI is much like UFO – there are people that want to believe in it, but no one ever saw one in real life. Fake photos, dots on the lens, halo effects and so on, not a single UFO ever landed to say hello. Same goes for NNs, they have same relation to A.I. as a hammerhead shark to a hammer: it may look like one… at a certain angle, from a distance, if you’re on drugs – you get the idea. Pseudo-intellectual chat bots in the past and NN euphoria now. Calm down people, nothing’s happening here.

If you go read on how NNs really work, you’ll find out that there’s no magic involved, it really is just a fancy math equation. Sophisticated math equation. Can you imagine an equation having self conscience? Will of it’s own? That would be ridiculous, but somehow that’s what people think, most of them being as far from math in their lives as flying eagle’s ass from the ground, I might add.

That said, NNs are very useful in solving lots of problems, take image recognition for example, computer vision is making great progress right now. But A.I. won’t happen any time soon. Stuff that looks like it – maybe, but not something that can have a self conscience. Imitation or the real thing – that’s a huge difference.

Fun with Johanna

While Johanna’s hero week is still going, I’d like to share a short vid of her “tanking”, while she still feels kind of squishy in big teamfights (personal opinion), you can have some really funny moments like these:

TBH I waited for her and really wanted to kind of roll her as my new main character, since I was absolutely in love with crusader class in Diablo III, but as for now I’ll probably still stick to my old choices.

USA Freedom Act of 2015

Once again, USA sets a great example for other countries to follow. The so-called “Freedom Act” just recently passed Senate and became a public law as of 06/02/2015. It’s great news for all U.S. citizens because from now on it’s going to take a court order for any agency to dig in your personal data, just like it used to be before the “Patriot Act” of 2001. For more details see here.

This change shows what a healthy democracy is capable of, when something outlives its purpose, the system removes it and reverts back to the normal order of things, rather than keeping the abomination alive by stitching it up with more and more patches, slowly moving in totalitarianism general direction.

One can argue that the real cause of this change is the Edward Snowden scandal, but there’s more to it really. Conspiracy theories aside, I want to be positive about this change. Just recently, UN also voiced its position on anonymity and encryption and they actually would like to see them as a part of basic human rights. These are interesting times we live in.