Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Banking and Machine Learning

One of the fields where Machine Learning or any other form of artificial intelligence would bring a big plus is the banking industry. I am saying this as I feel that the current interaction I have with my bank is getting from strange to weird. Although they have the data to analyze my financial behavior, shopping preferences and cash flow, data that enables them to offer me individualized offers they still offer me all the services I do not need, which is really annoying.

 In fact banks have enough data to create new services and products on the fly as they can gather enough information from a large group of people. They could create interesting options for people as overnight deposits, or create instruments with dynamic interest rate or very sophisticated investment options based on people's behavior and and risk appetite. They can learn about the human nature and offer people the possibility to use the income from the new instruments to help causes or invest in projects. I would really love to have my bank involved in some kickstarter-like projects.

By gathering contextual data there is also the option to help clients protect their investments - warn them early about market conditions, offer them products for hedging risks, offer them convenient exchange rates in case of monetary issues. It makes sense that a bank keeps the customers and their capital by offering them intelligent and customized products, not treating them in a common way.
All these require little upfront investment compared to the benefits that the banks and customers can derive from it.

I have been triggered to write this as I have been struck by the apathy of the bank clerks and of the bank itself on the current situation in Romania. They did nothing proactively to offer me any mean to hedge the inflation and the worsening of the national currency exchange rate. On the long run they benefit from the money I have on their accounts and they at least should offer a minimal hedging help. I dream having a ML financial advisor on my internet banking account that could show me some hints or offer me some customized products.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Digging in the Bytes

Did some cleaning on my NAS. Found some old tools.
I guess not available anywhere else on the internet.

Snacc for Java - IBM's ASN.1 compiler: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/zl4973pthfeqmqi/AABKqbLcUysHL5eAm3P8xIqXa?dl=0

Ericsson SDS - IN JSLEE Service creation tool: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/q812dlav214xsw1/AAD5oS6O7fwwdL3JAfoywQsBa?dl=0

Sun GCC for Sparc Servers - Modified GCC to work with Niagara processors: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/ed58tu2ttvagj4z/AACiuZHUN7KEzripcTpTWI0Pa?dl=0

DISCLAIMER: I am not sure about the current legal status of the tools. At the moment I have obtained them they were free to download and use.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Perfect Day

Rain is gone. Sunshine through the now scattered clouds.
Autumns' green and yellow on a high blue sky.
Feeling warm. Feeling a little proud.
Listening to Lou Reed on a tube amp.
Everything is warmer.
A perfect day.
I'm gonna spend it with you.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Series

I binged this year (yes, I sinned and bought Netflix).

Stranger Things



Expanse




Ascension



Designated Survivor - fucking cheesy...


Movies

What I have seen lately:

Book of Kells - beautiful hand drawn animations and a vivid story.


And because of it I continued with:

Song of the sea - again beautiful graphics and quite a metaphoric story



Gifted - sometimes it's hard being a parent for a normal kid. (Thanks Bogdan for the tip)


Searching for Bobby Fischer - chess is as hard as mathematics:


Arrival - yeap, they still do from time to time interesting sci-fi movies.  The new Star [Wars|Trecks] should burn in hell.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Java 9 surprise

I was quite shocked that JDK 9 is 64bits only.
It seems that older 32 bit runtimes are gone as most of nowadays computers are fully 64 bit.
Even Ubuntu seems to drop 32 bit support as announced in their mailing lists.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

One year with a German car

I bought last year a Golf Mk7 SW (Variant) as the old Kalos was going out of shape and it lacked basic safety features nowadays as ABS.
Before buying the car I drove some Ford Focus, Kia C'eed, Renault Megane, Peugeot 308 and Opel Astra K on test drives. I was also considering Citroen C5 and Volvo V60 but they were kind of too expensive for me. Finally I decided to go with Golf as it had the most features for the money (it had even more features than Kia). However it was not the most pleasant car to drive Focus and 308 were far better rides (more precise steering and suspension). The engine was better than Kia's but Renault's and Peugeot's felt better.

After one year and more than 12000 km of driving the car both on city and on the countryside I can say:

1. It is not a city car - too long, hard to park, fuel consumption quite high (~9 l/100 km) due to the fact that I drive short distances.
2. Interior feels cheaper than previous versions and is prone to scratches. The interior fabric gets dirty easily and the black colour makes it visible immediately
3. Not the most comfortable chairs.
4. Trunk is big enough.
5. Lacking independent suspension on the rear wheels reduces the comfort for passengers.
6. The clutch smells burnt on moderate effort (parking manoeuvres, steeper hill roads) although it works (until now)
7. Infotainment has some bugs especially with Android Auto.
8. I expected more storage space (eg. under driver's seat)
9. Upgrades are quite expensive (eg. ACC, cameras)
10. Fuel economy on long countryside rides.
11. Good looking but not stunning.

What I am missing is the quality that makes this car unique. It's above average in every aspect but...

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Latest

As I haven't written for a while:

1. Got annoyed about the stupidity of our parliament and parties. IQ test should be  mandatory for all candidates. IQ less than 90 should be forbidden. They acted as if their average IQ is well below 80.

2. Building an acrylic bending table.

3. Code Kata on http://open.kattis.com - it helps me brush some algorithmic skills.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

New tricks

I have recently had to cope with mounting sun protection film on windows.
The easiest way to do it is:

1. Determine which is the foil and which is the protection. To do this use two sticky tape cuts so that you can separate the foil from the protection.

2. Clean the window thoroughly.

3. Wet the window with water by spraying it on the window.

4. Apply the film with the protection part towards you. It will stick on the window just because of superficial tension between water and foil.

5. As the protective film is in your direction you can peel it off using the sticky tape. The foil will expose its glued side.

6. Quickly spray water on the glued side of film. Use lot of water.

GET SOMEBODY TO HELP YOU HERE IN ORDER TO REDUCE RISKS OF DAMAGING THE FOIL.

7. Take the  film out of the window and turn it around. Position it carefully with the glued side on te window. As both the window pane and foil are still wet it will not adhere instantly so you can make adjustments.

8. Using a spatula (wooden, plastic) remove all the bubbles by moving from centre to sides.

9. Cut the excess foil using an Xacto knife/cutter.

 

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Newest wireless keyboard


With mechanical switches.

In fact this is a CoBRA Romanian Spectrum clone inside a HC91 (another clone) case.
The idea is that it has no power supply and seems a little damaged.

Let the restoration begin :)

Friday, April 14, 2017

Lo Tech repair


The old Bosch PSR960 battery was certainly dead. Not a big surprise as I have not used and charged it correctly all the time. I have pondered buying a new battery but the price of a battery was almost as high as for a new tool.

I had some spare NiMH batteries and a holder for them so I decided to build a new battery for the drill. Using NiMH is better than LiIon because I can reuse the same charger although LiIon would probably be more powerful and  lighter. Even with NiMH I boosted the capacity . from 1500 mAh to 2500 mAh

I removed the old NiCd cells and cut the bottom of the battery in order to make room for the holder. I have soldered the wires to the pack and placed the heat sensor on a cell. To keep them from moving (and be able to replace a cell if it would be the case I fixed them in place with some silicone.
It worked... I have a working screw driver.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Lately

- Built a 2x28V/2A PSU based on the Hiland kit I found on banggood.com. I have cut an acrylic case for it and now it looks awesome.


The design files for the case are here


- Lots of trips

- Kidney stones - excruciating pain


Sunday, January 29, 2017

Missing chances

"Wasted opportunities will get back on you."

In life, as in games, one should understand a present situation and make some assumptions about future. Make a bet and try to pursue something in that direction hoping for the best while planting some "bad weather" safety guards along the way.

I haven't left Romania when I had the opportunity. I was in my comfort zone, earning well, keeping the family ties, most of my friends here. Now this is coming back on me. I feel that the country is not going in the right direction, that we think only in the present and we infest nothing in the future. And this hurts me because it will affect my daughter more than it will affect me.

On the other hand there are massive international opportunities for Romania as a country. Given the anti-globalization movement that just emerged in US there is a good chance for Romania to become a bigger player in some STEM domains.
Can we play smart this opportunity? There are some chances but overall we have to invest more. We have to invest more in Stability, schools and infrastructure.

Stability - there should be a long term plan, a bet on something that should be assumed by every political party. In this moment Romanians are playing "everybody on it's own". There is no coordination neither among individuals nor between parties, regions and such. We are kind of anarchic. The stability should be first applied in the law and taxes systems. It's kind of hard to make bets when the code of laws changes every second year and the taxation system is in perpetual oscillation. The education laws and curricula changes even more often. So we get confused students and teachers that live in a confusing system.

School - The myth of quality education in Romania was shattered for me a long time ago. Universities are close to nothingness, secondary education is in clinical death. The 4% to education budget was never in place despite all electoral promises hence teachers get underpaid so the good ones leave the system or concentrate to private lessons. The rest are petty graduates of 13th hand universities ("Spiru Haret" gang) that are not able to understand that they are teaching. They are able to reproduce the books by heart but totally unable to transmit the message or explain the content. Hence the students are again robots able to reproduce things but not creative or critical thinking.
Not being critical leads to obedience and acceptance of the status quo, one of the causes for the lack of stability.

Infrastructure - we have a fast internet that we use to download porn and dense railway on that the average speed is 30 km/h. We could use our fast networks to do something better (why there is no AWS region in Romania? Or Azure?). We could invest in our railway to make them economically viable reducing our dependence on cars and thus protecting the environment as the railways are already electrified.

I do not think that we will see any changes until the 100 years anniversary of  Greater Romania... Probably neither after. A catastrophe is needed to get us in our senses, or to finish us once for all as a nation.