salopek.eu

development & random thoughts about the world

Nasim Baglari is 29 years old - and banned from University in Iran

The title and the video say it all, really. Video is courtesy of Education is not a Crime.

Not that I support this Bahá'í religion, from what little I have read, it's more or less the same as other monotheistic religions (one creator, loving god, source of all creation, bla bla ...) and I really don't care for any religion whatsoever. They're all false, and none of the religious stuff is true, is my belief.

But the point is that once again, religion is used as an excuse to discriminate against a group of people and this is wrong, plain and simple.

Bahá'ís continue to be persecuted in Islamic countries, as Islamic leaders do not recognize the Bahá'í Faith as an independent religion, but rather as apostasy from Islam. The most severe persecutions have occurred in Iran, where over 200 Bahá'ís were executed between 1978 and 1998, and in Egypt.

The rights of Bahá'ís have been restricted to greater or lesser extents in numerous other countries, including Afghanistan, Indonesia, Iraq, Morocco, and several countries in sub-Saharan Africa.

- Wikipedia

To deny somebody an education based on an interpretation of a book written thousands of years ago is simply appalling. An to deny an education is a mind consequence, because the penalty for apostasy from Islam is Death.

The bad thing is, this is just one example of this religion and Islam. People are still discriminated against based on their beliefs (or lack of beliefs) and every case like this should get as much publicity as possible, because every time somebody is discriminated against, we all lose. Go and spread the word. Go.

Quick Facebook Page Tip - Post in Multiple Languages

I don't spend much time on Facebook, and I'm sad to say, even my Facebook page is not very active. Also, I'm not a social media guru, so I missed the announcement and no doubt lengthy discussions about page posts in multiple languages.

As a Croatian, who lives in Germany, but posts in English, I find this option awesome. Now I can make posts in both English and Croatian ... maybe even German, when my German gets much, much better.

So, here's how to turn it on.

1. Go to your page -> Settings

Sure you can find this, it's in the bottom right corner, next to "Help".

2. Simply turn on the option "Post in Multiple Languages"

There's also a Facebook explanation next to it, if you simply hover over the question mark.

3. Make a post

If you simply save changes and go to your page, you'll be given a option to post in multiple languages.

Note that Facebook will automatically suggest a translation of your post to a language of your choice. While it is certainly good to offer a translation, this option also enables you to write different content for a different language.

For example, in the following post, non-Croatian audience needs to know what is going on first, and then a comment, while Croatian audience knows very well what is going on and is only interested in a commentary.

BTW, try not to have totally different posts in different languages, as there also exists something called Audience Optimization and it's probably better suited for these scenarios.

Here's how posting in Croatian and English looks like:

Pretty cool, huh? They know what they're doing.

Few Facebook pages to like

We mostly use Facebook to get in touch with our friends, colleagues and family and in this regard we can say that Facebook can be very very helpful. Also, it's fairly low-risk for a woman to tell how to find her on Facebook, instead of giving the phone number. And ... that's about the limit of Facebook usefulness. Or is it?

Below is a list of few pages that I find interesting and "like-worthy".

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Bill Nye The Science Guy

Discovery News

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Look up from your phone and see that there are problems in the World

Sometimes I feel the world really needs a reminder that it has problems, so I'm going to spell out a few of them here. Generally it helps if you have problems spelled out, as humans tend to forget what things are important and just focus on the newest, shiniest phones and apps. Even as a developer, I must admit that apps are not going to change the world. Not really. Not in any REALLY, I mean REALLY important way.

OK, this was a gross generalization, as our precious phones and apps all help us to lead better and more comfortable lives in some way. You can connect with your long-lost friends. You can send messages to people more cheaply. Of course, sometimes these wonders of technology will save somebody's life. This is all great. But I sometimes feel that humanity in general has lost sight of the fact that there are REAL, bigger problems in the world.

1. Water Crisis

Water crisis or water scarcity means that there's a huge amount of people (even as high as 2 billion) that don't have access to clean water. There's a huge amount of people that don't have enough for their daily needs. "One in five people in the developing world lacks access to sufficient clean water (a suggested minimum of 20 litres/day)" (source - Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations).

Taken by fir0002 | flagstaffotos.com.au Canon 20D + Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 - Own work, GFDL 1.2, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=729941

Projections of population growth predict that by 2024 world population will reach 8 billion and 9 billion by 2040. (wikipedia). Humanity must work hard to ensure that there will be enough clean water for everyone.

Currently, there doesn't seem to be a global scarcity as such, but there are regions that are very short on water. So, basically, humanity is currently simply unable to govern properly all the water resources on this planet. For example, one in five people in "developing world" don't have access to enough clean water, while citizens of Europe and US have access to more than necessary.

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The Bechdel Movie Test

There's this thing called The Bechdel Movie Test.

It's a very simple way to gauge the presence and influence of female characters in movies. Or to be more accurate, determine if a certain movie test has even a minimum presence of any meaningful female characters.

It's a very simple test that has only three simple rules for movies:

  1. It has to have at least two [named] women in it
  2. Who talk to each other
  3. About something besides a man

As you can see from the rules, this isn't a "feminism" test. It's a basic gender presence test and it doesn't demand a lot from a movie. However, even this very, very simple test is hard for a movie to pass, as there's a staggering amount of movies where a woman is nothing more than a love interest or a object prize to be won by a main masculine hero character.

But, it may shock you to find out that only about half of all films meet these requirements, according to user-edited databases and the media industry press. (wikipedia)

Also, this is not the only statistic that is devastating to women in movies. According to a 2014 study by the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, in 120 films made worldwide from 2010 to 2013, only 31% of named characters were female, and 23% of the films had a female protagonist or co-protagonist.

Image by Sandstein - Own work, based on en:Bechdel test, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=48215556

To return to the point, 50% of all films don't pass this simple test.

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Kindle or Real books?

I have one-word answer for you: BOTH! This is what I do. I just can't help it, but I really, really love both. It's really like asking: "Beauty or Brains"? Both, of course!

So, let's go through pluses of both real quick, just so that you can see why, if you care about reading, you should have both.

1. Kindle

  • Kindle is so practical and compact that you can carry it literally everywhere. It even fits in the back pocket of your jeans. You only need to be careful when sitting down. But who sits down, without something to read anyway? :)
  • You can take thousands of books with you, no matter where you go. If you try to take a trip and you want to bring more than one book along, be prepared to leave a lot of clothes behind. Or just put a Kindle in your pocket.
  • As it's not a "tablet", but it uses e-ink technology, battery lasts for like a week. There are just no battery problems, ever. You can charge it wherever there's a USB port available and a micro-USB cable handy.
  • You can read PDFs on it! Simply copy the PDF into the documents folder, and you can read them on Kindle.
  • It's easy on the eyes. Like reading from paper. Again, it's not a tablet. It's based on e-ink technology. It doesn't have this glow that phones and tablets have.
  • You can highlight and "take notes" without damaging the books.
  • It's actually EASIER to read on a Kindle than to read a "Real Book". This one was like a revelation to me and it's something I would have never guessed before. When you are holding a book, you almost always need to use both hands, as papers have the tendency to run away if you're not holding them. With Kindle, you can only use one hand to hold it and to turn the pages, and you have your other hand free .. for other stuff. Or simply to lean on it. However you wish.
  • Get the book instantly. Click and it's there. OK, this also might be a minus, as bookstores are really ... dare I say ... romantic places.
  • Books are lot less expensive in Kindle edition. There's a huge, huge amount of free ones, too. All the classics, you can get them all for free basically. This is also a huge point for me. You can buy a lot of good books in Kindle version for only a few euros.
  • Read at night time more easily. No getting up to turn off the light.

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A few facts about the Universe everyone should be aware of

Here's a few facts I learned (or better said - picked-up) during my long-time fascination with the Universe. I am not an expert in any of this, but I like to acquire information. I also like to share with others what I learned. So, here goes ...

1. Universe is big. Really BIG.

To start thinking about the size of the Universe we don't need to immediately start thinking about billions of light-years to have an idea that Universe is really big. For the start, it's enough to think only about the distance between us and the star that is closest to the Earth.

The closest star to the Earth (outside the Sun) is Proxima Centauri, at 4.22 light-years distance. So, how much is a light-year?

Light moves at speed of 300 000 (three-hundredth thousand) kilometers per second. A light-year is a distance light travels in a year. So, by using some math, we get that one light-year is actually 9.461x1012 km, or better said - 9.461 trillion (nine trillion) kilometers.

Hubble's New Shot of Proxima Centauri, our Nearest Neighbor

Hubble's Shot of Proxima Centauri, our Nearest Neighbour.

Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA. (source)

 

The fastest man-made object in history is the Voyager 1 probe, which "as of 2013, was moving with a relative velocity to the Sun of about 17030 m/s" (wikipedia). Even at this speed, it would take Voyager 73.000 years to reach the star closest to us. Remember, it's only 4.22 light-years.

And only our galaxy has a diameter of 100 000 light-years.

Humanity knows that universe is at least 91 billion light-years in Diameter. How? Well, because this is actually the size which we can see with any type of light. We calculated that Universe is 13.8 billion years old. And we also know that universe is expanding. As light travels to us, the universe itself expands. The red-shift in the light enables us to calculate when the light was emitted. So, if light left 13 billion years ago, this distance is now 46 billion light-years in either direction.

This is just the size of the Observable Universe. The total size of the Universe is much bigger and also probably Infinite.

Here's a few videos that help to understand this.

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Development tip - Try using Visual Studio Code Snippets

If you haven't been programming in visual studio for long, chances are you haven't heard about code snippets.

Code snippet is actually code which you can quickly insert into the code editor. Typically snippets are common language constructs which you use often and a number of them come bundled with VIsual Studio. You probably noticed them in IntelliSense as you were typing code.

As the tooltip says, you can simply go to code snippet and then hit TAB key twice to insert it.

Some useful C# snippets are:

  1. #region - Inserts #region and #endregion, puts a cursor where you would normally type the name.
  2. try - Inserts a try-catch
  3. tryf - Inserts a try-finally
  4. for and forr - Insert for and reverse for loops
  5. prop - Inserts an automatic property
  6. propfull - Inserts a property and a backing field

As snippets for these short constructs exist, there are also snippets for entire classes and methods. And you can also create your own. To see all snippets that are shipped with Visual Studio, simply go to Tools -> Code Snippets Manager...

This nifty little thing is also available in Visual Studio Community Edition. You can play with the snippets, download new ones from the Internet and if you try to get into a habit of using them, possibly even improve your coding practices.

In a future blog post we'll create a small code snippet of our own.

Happy coding!

Great developer resources - Issue #1 - MSDN code samples

There are a lot of great developer resources out there on the Internets, so it occurred to me that it would be interesting to showcase some of them, especially ones that are jam-packed with great resources, such as a Developer code samples sub-site on MSDN.

The basic premise on this site is that everybody can upload a code sample, and then community votes on it, meaning that the best quality samples are really, really good and useful.

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Functional Principles for Object-Oriented Development by Jessica Kerr

Lately I have been playing a bit with F#, mainly out of curiosity. To be honest, functional programming looks a bit scary to me, especially the syntax. But the guys over at fsharp.org and fsharpforfunandprofit.com are pretty persuasive, so I did decide to invest a bit more time in playing with it. I will see where it will lead me. Hopefully I'll blog something concrete about #fsharp in a little while.

As a part of my journey so far I stumbled upon this video where Jessica Kerr explains the basics of functional principles and how to apply them in our "main" languages, like Java or C#. I strongly suggest you invest a bit of time and at least take a look at what it's about and how you can apply functional principles already today.

I really, really think you can watch the video and take away something from it immediately. It might even inspire you to try a bit of functional programming yourself.

Jessica also has a blog and she also tweets under @jessitron. I suggest you pay her a visit.