Back in the Northern Hemisphere

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.

Military Spending

June 24th, 2006

Don’t listen to me. Listen to the CIA.

Updated Link, thanks Michael.

Italian Restaurant Saga Continues

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

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

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.

Colbert Follow-up

May 2nd, 2006

Check out this site:

http://www.thankyoustephencolbert.org/

After Stephen Colbert’s (IMO, historically significant) roast of the president and the press, someone started this website to thank him for his “truthiness.”

Yesterday, it had 14,000 thank you comments from the Internet community. Today, it has nearly 23,000. I think this an amazing example of how Internet bloggers and news scourers will simply not be dictated the news by a spineless mainstream press.

Anyone who thinks Colbert’s speech, words, and satire weren’t newsworthy is simply pissed that Colbert spoke truth to the faces of power. The fact that the mainstream press by and large marginalized the Colbert speech and glorified the modest “Dumb Bush/Dumber Bush” act just disgusts me. It also confirms, I think, that Rove and others know that Bush’s general lack of eloquence or sophistication masks his true flaws: the lack of reason or any capacity to reflect on his actions. It was precisely those flaws that Colbert’s speech pointed out. For Bush, the “jury is still out” on issues like evolution and global warming. Why? Because he dosn’t believe in facts.

Listen again to the Colbert speech, and you’ll notice he never once criticizes the president for his inability to say big words or his “Bushisms;” instead, he criticizes him for being able to make complex political and foreign policy decisions without appealing to the facts. That’s what makes Bush dangerous.

Stephen Colbert at White House Correspondents’ Dinner

April 30th, 2006

I just wanted to point out that if you haven’t seen it yet, you should see Stephen Colbert’s speech, in front of the President, at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner. I think it will go down in history as one of the funniest and most awkward comic coup d’etats ever committed.

At first, you think Colbert is just going to play the Bush sycophant he always does on the Colbert Report. But then he just takes a step farther and mocks all mainstream journalists there, and the President himself, right to his face. Really amazing stuff, you can’t dream up better situations!

Take a look:

part 1, part2, part 3.

Mark Zuckerberg: Luckiest Man Alive

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.

The Flight of Computer Science majors

April 30th, 2006

I read this response to an article at eWeek on Bill Gates’ views about Computer Science research, graduates, spending, and company strategies.

I think it’s pretty clear that despite the disagreements I have with Mr. Gates over a subject known as “business ethics” (if such a subject truly exists!), he does seem to be a genuinely patriotic guy who loves technology. I mean, what good is it for more Americans to get into CS, if other countries are diving in and filling whatever knowledge gap may exist? Can’t Bill just hire those workers, and what’s more, for less money per hour?

Well, I think Mr. Gates really wants innovation in computer software to remain “America’s Great Industry.”

I was very intrigued by this response to the article:

Everyone knows that Open Source is taking over the software development industry. And according to the Open Source philosophy; developers should be enslaved, source code should be free. No, no, that’s not politically correct, let me try again. Developers should give their work away because code needs to be free (as in speech) and the needs of the code is more important than the needs of the people who create it. Well, that doesn’t sound quite right either but in any case, it doesn’t really matter to me because my kids won’t be studying computer science.

This is a very interesting post. True, it will be seen as a troll by some, since open source philosophy definitely doesn’t say anything about programmer enslavement. But his point is real and felt in the industry. That is, if you aren’t selling software, how are software developers to make money from it?

I think the response to this was best-articulated by Eric Raymond, when he pointed out that of programmers, only about 1-2% make their cash from off-the-shelf software sales. Instead, most make their money from “in-house” or “custom” software solutions. In other words, the majority of developers aren’t working on the Adobe Photoshop team, they’re working on Acme Inc.’s payroll or issue tracking system.

I kind of love this sort of propaganda, though. Because it is all good news for me.

When I first decided to do CS, I considered the possible effect of outsourcing and other factors on my employment possibilities. I thought, what if there are no jobs when I get out of college? But I stuck with it.

Well, it turns out, everyone had a hunch similar to mine, but they were more wooed by it than I was. So everyone fled CS. And now I’m the only one left. (An exaggeration, but you get what I mean — my computer science classes are nearly empty, whereas they were packed during registration only a few years ago).

It turns out, firms are hiring more than ever before. Why? Because the dotcom bubble is over, and green-eyed imposters are getting flushed out of the industry. But the demand is still there. Software is pervasive. Everyone needs software development done. There simply isn’t anything under the sun that can’t benefit from a little software developer finesse.

You can’t have all this work done in India and China because, it turns out, people want software developers to work with customers (big surprise). They want applications which meet their sensibilities, and they want them changes when the environment changes.

I liked that Mr. Gates said the #1 thing he’s looking for is project management IT types. Funny, it’s the #1 thing I’m looking for, too. Software developers are a dime a dozen. Find me a software developer who doesn’t get nervous when you ask him a tough question, or ask him to write, in plain English, a high-level overview of the system you’re asking him to create, and you’ve got yourself someone who’s valuable.

Server outage

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…)