Hatchlings Blog: Don't Be Evil: How Google Screwed a Startup -
After trying to go through the “proper channels” for almost a year now it’s time to share this story of how Google screwed over our startup with the world.
Hatchlings is the world’s largest Easter Egg hunt. We have over 3.5 million users spanning all 50 states and almost every country on…
Colbert nails it. Every. Single. Time.
There has been a diet trend that has risen to prominence with the tide of the “name brand workout” craze (Crossfit); the Paleo diet. The general idea behind this diet is that the advent of agricultural advancement occurred relatively recently in our evolutionary history and there are some foods that we can now consume in mass quantities that were simply never meant to be consumed in such a manner - namely gluten and dairy.
Here’s the kicker though: I think it’s a crock of shit. I really do. I haven’t been able to find any real science that lends credibility to the idea that eating meat, fruit and vegetables alone is healthier for you than a diet including gluten and dairy. I do know that some people are allergic to dairy and gluten; but I don’t see significant, peer-reviewed studies that indicate that these are universally harmful.
That’s not to say that people who commit themselves to these fad diets aren’t successful, but I am more of the belief that the diets have a lot less to do with the actual results. Diet is, of course, important; but the specific kind of diet is less important. By this I mean, if you take someone who is over-consuming and commit them to a diet where they have to carefully consider the things they are eating, they will undoubtedly make better choices about their food consumption. However, in the end the only real, scientifically-backed method for weight loss and good health that I’ve found is the timeless - “calories in, calories out.” If you want to lose weight consume less, if you want to gain weight consume more.
So I’m going to adhere to this stupid diet for 3 months… and I mean it, I am really going to follow this diet to the letter. I purchased a few paleo cook books and I am going to be as strict as possible about my food consumption, even limiting myself to grass-fed animal proteins.
I went to the doctor last week and had a full battery of blood work performed, I had my weight, resting heart rate and blood pressure taken. I went to three different gyms and had my body fat percentage taken. The results of these tests were that I’m in exceptional health, sans my being deficient in vitamin D due to the fact that I’m a pasty-skinned software engineer. After three months I’m going to have these tests rerun and I’m going to ask my doctor if he thinks I’m in better or worse shape than before I started.
Nothing else will change. I currently work out 6 days a week, lifting every single day and running 3 days a week. I’ve run several full and half marathons and am currently in the process of preparing for a half marathon. I also play on two soccer teams. The idea behind this is to see if an active, healthy person will really benefit from restrictive diets like Paleo; or if it’s just a bunch of nonsense. Granted, I am one case study and I doubt I will change anyone’s mind.
The brilliant Professor Richard Dawkins is 71 today.
I’m an Atheist and Skeptic, I have been for as long as I can remember; though I’m not like most of the Atheists who I come across. Most Atheists can pinpoint a moment in their life when they became enlightened and identified religion as the nonsense it is. Most can tell you how old they were when this happened, or even tell you the precise mental process they went through to come to that conclusion. I am a bit different in that despite being put through the motions as a child, I have never bought into the idea of religion.
A story my Mom likes to tell about my childhood took place when I was five years old, eating breakfast with her. I said “I don’t believe in the Easter Bunny, I don’t see how a rabbit could carry gifts around to all the kids in the world. I guess Santa doesn’t make sense either.” The most she could bring herself to respond to me with was “don’t tell your brothers.” It has always been in my nature to question things, to demand proof, and to this day I have contempt for authority and expect respect to be earned and not innately granted via a title (though I’ve figured out how to subdue myself to a degree).
So while I have always been Atheist, mainly because nobody has ever been able to prove any of the ridiculous claims that can be found in religious scripture; I have struggled with the label “Atheist.” For the longest time I would describe myself as Agnostic because that somehow seemed better to me - “I believe there might be a God, but I don’t subscribe to a religion.” Which is, I suppose, fair… there could very well be a God - I don’t know for certain that there isn’t; but I believe the probability that some divine creator is pulling the strings and answering prayers is pretty minuscule. If he/she is out there I know some very pissed off, very hungry Africans who would like to have a word.
Eventually I got over that mental block and simply called my beliefs what they were - Atheism. I believe that this is our one shot, that there is no soul, and that we should all make the best of this beautiful opportunity we have. The only person who I am accountable to is myself, and to a degree society when my actions infringe upon the rights of others. However, despite this identity issue being resolved I did find the notion of “organized Atheism” to be a bit contradictory - by organizing and spreading the idea of Atheism aren’t we in a way simply becoming a religion ourselves? A religion of non-belief?
Here’s the problem with that logic, and the reason the secular world’s views (read: reality) are not taken seriously - Religion is very organized, it has been organizing for centuries; it’s extremely vocal, disturbingly influential and catastrophically damaging. Religion is what motivates people to blow themselves up, fly planes into buildings, shoot up an island full of teenagers, hate gay people, belittle women, and stifle scientific progress. It’s very easy, very logical even, for us Atheist to keep quiet and dismiss religion as something that isn’t worth our time; because to us it seems so nonsensical that it isn’t worth committing the mental cycles to. But there are billions of people who read the hateful and repressive messages in religious text and force feed them to us at a societal level, and they are unfortunately quite successful.
As the brilliant professor Richard Dawkins says, luckily this is an issue that is easy to address by the Atheist community. We have to identify this as a battle worth fighting, a battle we are losing due to our woeful lack of organization or clear message. The risk; however, is if we don’t establish ourselves as a minority worth listening to and being taken seriously then we will continue to allow those who subscribe to these ridiculous fairy tales to push their agenda of illogic, anti-science and anti-equality unchecked. Indeed, we are the producers, we are the engineers, we are the scientists - we are the ones winning Nobel Prizes, increasing lifespans and mastering the complexities of this beautiful and amazing phenomenon; our collective voice is incredibly important.
Our silence and complacency has caused the dramatic defunding of scientific research in America, it has legitimized a decade long religious war, stalled gay rights and equality, and lent credibility to multiple presidential candidates who should have been laughed straight off the national stage. The fact that Rick Santorum has won a single state in this primary season scares the shit out of me, it is reason enough for us to be worried about the future of America and humanity as a whole.
When I meet somebody who claims to be religious my first instinct is ‘I don’t believe you.’ Do you really believe? Are you seriously telling me you believe that when a priest blesses a wafer it turns into the body of Christ? Are you seriously telling me that wine turns to blood? Mock them. Ridicule them - in public. Don’t fall for the convention that we’re too polite to talk about religion. Religion is not off the table - it makes specific claims about the universe; and unless substantiated it needs to be ridiculed with contempt.
- Richard Dawkins
This is why it’s important for the secular world to organize. It’s why despite having delicious chicken I will no longer spend a penny at Chik-Fil-A. It’s why I refuse to participate in religious-backed charities. There’s too much to lose for me to legitimize religion or to be silent about their draconian agenda any longer. At this point I am, frankly, furious. I was silent, I was leaving you guys alone; but then you fucked with my logic, my reason, my science… now I’m doing something about it.
It’s your right to practice whatever outrageous rituals you want: be it prayer, meditation, eating blessed wafers or starving yourselves as some vicarious punishment - this is your right until these practices begin to affect myself and others. Your inability to accept other’s differences and coexist is suppressing progress to an unacceptable degree. This is why organized Atheism is exceedingly important.
So life comes at you fast some times… and this always seems to happen to me when I’m attempting to maintain a blog for the first time in a while. I am; however, determined to keep this one going - though I will likely ditch Tumblr in favor of some custom setup eventually. Lately I’ve been going through and working on my programming fundamentals since they are, admittedly, a bit rough. My big goal for the year is still to learn Erlang, but I felt that I first needed to fix some gaps in knowledge with my current programming skill set which could be applied universally to all languages.
It has been a while since I have done any real math, I generally just break out the calculator or fire up Ruby or Python to calculate anything I need to calculate. Math is important though, particularly for our career and particularly for writing algorithms (which is one of the gaps I’ve chosen to fill). To address this problem I’ve been working through the free PDF - Mathematics for Computer Science. It’s great, and again, free.
The company that I work for, Proteus Technologies, has a yearly book allowance for us to use and this year I decided to spend a portion of it on some of the classic literature for our profession. I scooped up the Gang of Four book, Introduction to Algorithms, Code Complete and Clean Code. I’ve also been working through the free Stanford Algorithms class. My hope is to be finished reading through these books and the class about half-way through the year so that I can focus on learning my new language for the year. It seemed a bit silly to continue to learn new languages when I don’t have my head fully wrapped around the principles behind them.
Luckily at work I had a bit of a project change and will now be working on Rails based applications full-time. This is great because it’s my favorite language and framework to code in; I was coding in Python/Django and Java on my previous project. This also frees up more of my spare time because I won’t have to ration off time to keep up with the Ruby and Rails community as it is now my job :).
I’ve hated football for basically my whole life. Much of this stems from the fact that during high school our football team was terrible and our soccer team was pretty good; but the stadium would be packed for our crap football team and vacant for soccer… and I’ve always loved soccer. I also always felt like it was just a dumb structure in general; there’s no flow to the game like basketball, hockey or soccer - every play the lines reset and they start again.
That said, for a number of reasons this year I let myself become a fan; and I did it right - rooting for the home team: The Ravens. It just so happens that Bmore has a pretty good team this year so I give the appearance of being a bandwagon fan… but I’m really not, I live here and all my close friends are big fans of the team. I’ve been hooked for the majority of the season and watched every single Ravens game, but I’m afraid that I may not be able to watch this sport next season.
Before I continue I want to say that the Ravens and Patriots play this Sunday, so this post is written before the outcome of that game (in the event that I potentially look like a sore loser in the future).
As I was running on the treadmill this morning I was listening to some clams on ESPN analyzing the Ravens v Patriots game this Sunday and one of the talking points that I’ve heard all week (but never had sink in entirely) was that the Patriots have yet to beat a team with a winning record this season. They have played two of them, and lost to both (The Steelers and The Giants). It dawned on me, right there, that this is the only sport in the world where a team can potentially never beat another winning team and secure a first round bye and home field advantage for the playoffs (top seed).
So here we have a team that floundered through the season, losing it’s only two challenging games; and a team that has won seven games against playoff teams has to go on the road to face them. I don’t care if the Ravens lose the game on Sunday, but if the Patriots go on to win the Super Bowl this season I don’t think I’ll have anywhere close to the level of enthusiasm that I did for this sport.
Since the first Project Euler problem was relatively simple I decided to try the second one. This one asks the programmer to find the sum of all fibonacci numbers under 4,000,000 which are even numbers. Here’s how I solved it -
Countless articles have been written on this subject, but I’ve been dealing with this (seemingly) common problem lately at work so I am compelled to give my take on it. I work on site with one of my company’s clients and they recently had a product delivered that didn’t meet their expectations. After hearing several complaints about the delivered product I sat with one of our customers and asked them to describe exactly what was wrong with the software they were delivered.
They indicated several unsolvable issues that mainly derived from the developer’s decision to use Flex for the frontend of this application. This really should have been a modern, HTML5 application and I have frankly been puzzled by the developer’s choice of technologies from the very beginning; as it turns out the design lead has more-or-less pitched his “career ladder” against the Flex/Java/Oracle stack. I can’t help but feel like most of these problems (beyond a few UI inconsistencies) could have been solved had the developers taken the time to sit with their client and watched their workflow.
So two years of development has been wasted on a project that my client can’t really utilize the way they want to. I think this is why Agile development is such an obvious decision as it gets the user involved early, particularly if you allow them to dictate the way the stories are written and the order of importance of the story. If a developer is doing client work he/she must be careful to write the software the client imagines, not the software the developer wants.