Personal

Finished reading Capitalism 3.0, missed speakers, drank dark beer

Wednesday, January 31st, 2007

I finished reading Capitalism 3.0 a couple of days ago, and it was quite good. I promised a review, so that will be coming shortly. I also noticed that Joseph Stiglitz (ex-Chief Economist for the World Bank) wrote a new book as a follow-up to Globalization and its Discontents which is titled, Making Globalization Work, probably a nice follow-up to Capitalism 3.0.

Today after work I headed to NYU to hear Jimmy Wales give a talk on Wikipedia, but was dismayed to discover that the auditorium was packed and I couldn’t get in.

Then, I noticed that Ralph Nader was at the IFC Theater on 6th Avenue presenting the new documentary made about him called “An Unreasonable Man,” and I was about to go to the 4:55pm showing of that, but tickets sold out for that! Man, what bad luck!

At the end of the day, I ended up meeting Max for drinks at McSorley’s, so that’s not so bad. We talked a bit about Richard Dawkin’s book “The God Delusion,” and whether it’s a good thing that there is a zealous atheist roaming the streets of intellectual-dom.

The Unkindest Cut

Tuesday, January 16th, 2007

A relatively unsophisticated article on circumcision showed up on Salon a few days ago. It’s entitled “The Unkindest Cut” and is about the conflict of a Jewish father between his Jewish mother and his non-Jewish wife over the issue of whether to circumcise his newborn son. Although it mentions some of the history of circumcision in the United States, it doesn’t go into nearly enough depth about how strange and barbaric the practice is. A letter that came into Salon from a reader has some good points, however:

This is one of the hottest parenting issues (along with breastfeeding and sleeping). I am not surprised that Salon is already flooded with letters and the emotions are rising high on both sides. I am the mother of a 3-year-old boy. He is uncircumcised and the idea of having him circumcised never even crossed my mind. I am from Europe, therefore circumcision is not part of my culture. My husband is a Hindu from India, so it isn’t part of his culture either. There is more and more evidence that shows that circumcision is an unnecessary procedure. There are more and more organizations and individuals trying to educate the public about this. Two of my favorites are: www.jewsagainstcircumcision.org and www.nocirc.org.

There is lots of very useful information regarding this topic. There are a few points I’d like to make for the sake of argument against it. Some fathers say: I want my son to look like me. So if you had a finger, a hand, or an arm missing from birth or as a result of an accident would you want to chop off your child’s corresponding body part just to make him look like you? (Sorry this is not my own idea but I like it a lot). The other point is my original thought: we, as Western society are outraged by the practice of female circumcision (mostly practiced in Africa and some predominantly Muslim areas elsewhere). What is the difference? That female circumcision is not a tradition in our culture. So it’s O.K. to keep mutilating our boys as long as we leave our girls alone… How hypocritical! And on top of that both traditions originate on the same basis: to reduce sexual pleasure and the desire to masturbate and enjoy sex.

As per some first person accounts from men who grew into adulthood intact and then got circumcised, they tell exactly how much less pleasurable sex is afterwards… Do a search on your favorite search engine for more info on the topic.

So as a parent of a boy I will leave my son’ penis alone and will make sure that everybody else does until he is old enough to make a decision about having his own body part cut off (which I think would only occur if he ends up having problems with having foreskin and sex would be unpleasant or painful).

I am not condemning people who think differently. I simply feel sorry for their baby boys… I hope one day we’ll come to our senses about this painful and inhumane practice.

As for the author, I feel sorry for him too, that he had to go through this emotionally painful experience to come to understand that he made the wrong choice.

I have a lot more to say on this topic (in fact, in college I wrote long research papers on the topic, including some original research into grotesque Victorian age masturbation control techniques, which were the precursors to routine circumcision), but probably won’t get the time to write it up. If you’re wondering about it, drop me a line.

Linux Desktop Talk at NYU

Friday, December 8th, 2006

I gave another talk for CANYU and the emerging open source clubs at NYU about Linux on the desktop. Here is the synopsis:

LINUX AND FREE/OPEN SOURCE SOFTWARE

The State of the F/OSS World Update
with talk/demo by Andrew Montalenti

December 5, 2006 @ 7pm
Room 813, Warren Weaver Hall

Open source software is now mainstream. Whether it’s the nearly ubiquitous Mozilla Firefox browser, the Azureus peer-to-peer client, the Eclipse IDE, or the Linux kernel, almost everything in the computer world has been touched by free / open source software developers collaborating across the globe.

Judging by the state of the community, this movement doesn’t seem to be losing steam. With Microsoft Windows Vista around the corner offering a potentially bloated and hardware-requirements-heavy experience, desktop Linux operating systems are taking aim at the big giant, with big support around Ubuntu, Fedora (Redhat), and SuSE (Novell), among others.

So, what’s next for the free / open source world? That’s what this talk is meant to help you find out. After explaining a bit of the history of free and open source software, and the history of recent community and corporate efforts to make it widely available, this talk will show off some of the new, cool technologies coming out of the open source community, such as 3D desktop effects, productivity tools, enhanced multimedia support, better support for laptops, and a full suite of industry-grade development tools. The talk will also discuss some of the legal and intellectual property issues facing the open source community, with a particular focus on the recent news coming from the Novell / Microsoft deal and Sun’s decision to open source Java.

Who is this talk meant for? Anyone who hasn’t tried out Linux on their desktop, or anyone who is at least mildly interested in the current and future state of the computer industry. Free / Open Source software has completely rocked the industry, changing every aspect of it from top to bottom, and this wave is only growing bigger every day. NYU students interested in copyright issues surrounding open source may also find this talk valuable.

In any event, this won’t be a boring lecture — it’s meant to be interactive and fun!

The speaker will be bringing free CDs of Ubuntu Linux, a community-driven desktop Linux operating system which you can install on almost any home PC! Come for the free CDs, stay for the revolution.

It went very well, with about 10 people in the audience. You can download the slides in OpenOffice or PDF. Admittedly, the slides aren’t as cool without the live demo of Beryl I did at the talk itself. Yay 3D desktop effects.

The Working Life

Thursday, November 16th, 2006

I never knew working all day would be so draining. Don’t get me wrong: I love my work, I love working on software projects with smart people, but I get home and just want to hack around on UNIX, read a book, or watch some Bill Maher and I haven’t even the energy for that.

Tonight I violated my own rule (hence the 2am post), but will probably pay for it tomorrow in coffee during the day.

I need a kick-ass job that’s only part time but pays full time salaries.

p.s. been using the Spring Framework extensively on a project at work. All I can say is, “Wow.” I’m finally enjoying Java development again. The framework truly rocks, but you just need to give it some time. Once it grows on you (I suggest Manning Press’ “Spring in Action”), it becomes like a fungus that permeates the way you think about software design. Really cool.

p.p.s. it fucking rocks, btw, that the Dems won the House and Senate. Bill Moyers 2008?

Back in the Northern Hemisphere

Saturday, July 29th, 2006

I got back from Argentina on Thursday. Not enjoying the New York summer, and missing my Buenos Aires lifestyle, but overall, happy to be home. Maybe now I’ll get back to my blog.

Stay tuned.

Italian Restaurant Saga Continues

Thursday, June 22nd, 2006

I decided I may as well indulge the jokers at MyTravelGuide and post a review for my alleged Italian restaurant. Note the red area, indicating “pros and cons” of the review.

My Italian Restaurant

Wednesday, June 21st, 2006

I recently did a vanity search for “Andrew J. Montalenti” on Google, only to find the prestigious travel site “MyTravelGuide.com” had usurped my personal website for the #1 hit. In particular, the developers of this site seem to be convinced that “Andrew J. Montalenti” is an Italian restaurant which happens to have my address and phone number. You can post reviews, photos, whatever you like.

I did think it kind of odd when I started receiving letters in the mail offering me things like ice sculptures at wholesale prices, china with my restaurant logo imprinted on it, and kitchen supplies. Clearly, someone was told that my name was simply the name of a badass italian restaurant in Manhasset, and it’s stuck.

Well, every time someone has posted a profile on my “restaurant,” I’ve requested it be taken down. But the folks at MyTravelGuide.com are basically unresponsive. So, I decided to post a photograph of the restaurant, since I know it better than anyone else.

Does anyone know how to find out what marketing database thinks I am a restaurant, so I can purge this misconception once and for all?

Graduated

Thursday, June 1st, 2006

I just recently graduated from NYU, and am taking a much-deserved break from computing. So this blog may not get updates for a few weeks.

On the bright side, I’m going to Argentina for six weeks. See you in Buenos Aires.

Mark Zuckerberg: Luckiest Man Alive

Sunday, April 30th, 2006

Sak and I were recently discussing how upset (read: envious, depressed about our own lives) we were about The Facebook seeking $2 billion.

The main reason we’re depressed is because, though both Sak and I like the Facebook and are users, we can’t help noticing one thing:

It’s not that complicated to build a website like that.

In fact, it’s downright easy. If I weren’t so busy with computer science classes, I probably could have threw something like it together myself.

Now, we know that business opportunities don’t have to be complicated to make money. They just have to be Right, that is in the Right place, with the Right look, taking advantage of the Right fad, etc.

But doesn’t it seem to you that a straightforward PHP/MySQL application just isn’t worth $2 billion? I mean, that’s $2,000 million. That’s $2,000,000,000.

Yet, I can’t say I’m entirely unhappy about it. Mark Zuckerberg, here’s to you, man. You’re my age, and you did exactly what I wish I had done. Built some crappy website, and made out like a bandit with sacks of cash. Kudos. You’re honestly my fucking hero.

Server outage

Sunday, April 30th, 2006

My server went down yesterday for a day, due to a switch to a new colocation facility. For anyone else on my server, I apologize for the downage. I wasn’t told the switch would be happening with ample lead time, and so I didn’t have the time to set the refresh/TTL fields in my SOA DNS entries so that the IP switch could be seamless.

(Wow, that’s a lot of acronyms. Computers…)