Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Montblanc

Rhapsody in Blue — a composition I used to wake myself up for years. As if understanding how hard it is to start a day, it starts with a slow and random clarinet melodies. But then it raises to an orchestra with dynamic harmonies to absorb the spirit with no stop to our soul. And that is how life used to begin for years.

Its composer, George Gershwin (September 26, 1898 – July 11, 1937), was an American composer and pianist whose compositions spanned both popular and classical genres. Besides Rhapsody in Blue, his best-known works are an orchestral work An American in Paris (1928), the jazz standard I Got Rhythm (1930), and the opera Porgy and Bess (1935) which gave birth to the hit Summertime.

Montblanc has an annual tradition to launch donation pen collection for honouring world-famous classical musicians. This program supports selected cultural projects from pioneering artists the world over with a donation of 20 euros per fountain pen (and 10 euros per ballpoint or rollerball). The edition of 2019 paid the tribute to George Gershwin.

The design of Gershwin fountain pen is quite distinctive — easily recognised. The clip is in the shape of a clarinet — a tribute to the clarinet opening from Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue. Another tribute to Rhapsody in Blue is the ink window which features a blue colour. The cap ring is inspired by the Brooklyn Bridge to symbolise the close relationship George Gershwin had with his place of birth. The cap and barrel are made out of black resin combined with platinum-coated fittings. The length of the pen with the cap is 15.6 cm, and the total weight is 89.84 grams.

Do you have a bad laptop and you haven’t made any money with it yet?

Make money with laptopLet’s face it, we tend to forget that the durability of our consuming goods is getting worse in our accelerated world. Sometimes we just think about our previous phone or our good old car which lasted much longer than we expected. It is definitely not a coincidence. Mass production and depleted minerals, stricter environmental regulations have also led to a deterioration in the durability of products. On the other hand, we can also talk about the planned limitation period, because economic growth needs to be maintained. We need a new phone or laptop for an ever-shorter period of time.

Are we sure we have to give up on what went wrong?

Mostly, we don’t! Nevertheless, sales numbers are growing rapidly at a faster rate than population growth would dictate. The Asian market sells roughly 7% more laptops and tablets than in the previous year. It has two possible reasons: First,  sales of desktop computers are decreasing and portable devices are gaining ground. This trend has been increasing for 10 years. Also, there is a growing need for replacements of these gadgets. It is a huge market and with the purchase of new devices, the sale and servicing of used devices have become an ever-growing and thriving business.

Soon, we will discuss how you can be a part of this.

The problems that make us give up on our old laptop are usually easy to handle.

The 7 most common reasons people buy a new laptop

Heating and noise

In most cases, the cooling of laptops is designed as follows; a heat sink layer – mostly a copper plate – is placed on the processor and this surface is cooled by a fan. This solution is similar to desktop computers, but here, the engineers need to solve it in a much smaller place. There is also a heat conducting grease between the processor and heat sink layer, which causes to transfer as much heat as possible to the copper plate. Although, this grease happens to dry out in 1-2 years and stops transferring heat properly. Thus, the processor begins to heat up and signals the fan to run at higher speeds. This is when the noise begins. When the fan is no longer able to cool the processor enough, our laptop starts to slow down. Replacing the fan and the heat conducting grease is possible in a service shop or we can do it ourselves at a very low price with half an hour of work.

Soon, I will talk about it.

BSOD – Blue Screen of Death

This error can be occurred by the hard disk drive (HDD) sometimes. First of all, defragmentation of the disk might help and all the modern Windows operation systems can do it. If this doesn’t resolve the issue, you should replace the HDD. If there is a common HDD in the laptop, then it is advisable to switch to a solid-state drive (SSD) which gives us a significant speed increase.

The other possible reason for BSOD maybe the memory module. If we have an opportunity, we should check these as well. Many software can help us, but checking manually can often be successful because quite often we just have to move the modules a bit. In more difficult cases, sadly, they need to be replaced. Fortunately, all the necessary equipment can be found in stores or on the Internet for this operation.

Broken hinge

The display is usually attached to the laptop with 2 hinges. If we don’t try to open it right in the middle, these hinges are constantly rolling from the motions. After a while, they break off from this enforcement. Mostly the bushings at the bottom of the case tend to break, not the hinge itself. The replacement of the case is a bit harder because most of the time we have to remove the motherboard as well. This is an hourly work to a specialist.

Display error

It is a common error if some pixels are no longer lit on the screen or the display is smudged. Although the problem seems large, we still don’t have to give up on repairing the machine. In fact, it is, even more, easier to repair than a broken hinge. The display is held under a cover by a few screws, so if we remove the cover and the screws, in a few minutes, a completely new display can be inserted into the machine. 

Power-supply charging fault

Perhaps this is the rarest error on the list. The charger is plugged into the laptop, but it doesn’t charge and the machine cannot be turned on. It’s very annoying. This problem seems surely unsolvable but actually, this is a very low budget repairing within 5-10 mins. The connector head is plugged into an approx. 2-centimeter adapter part and this supplies power to the motherboard. This rarely goes wrong. Replacing it takes only a few minutes and its part is also very cheap.

Battery error

Depending of usage, battery life is usually 2-3 years. After a while, they can operate our machine for less and less time. Replacing the battery is only 1 minute. This part is located on the outside of the laptop and can be removed by pulling a latch and so the new part can go in. It is really simple.

Keyboard problem

Keyboards only guarantee operation for a limited number of keystrokes. After that, some keys won’t work. Sometimes the careless owner pours the drink on the keyboard so the buttons get stuck. Replacement of it is a 4-5 minute operation and we don’t even have to disassemble the laptop very much.

Conclusion

If you want to buy a new laptop because of any of these errors, my opinion is: not to do so. For a fraction of the price of a new machine, you can use services or you can fix it or upgrade it yourself. After that, it’s your decision whether you want to sell it at a better price than if you thought it was bad or keep using it. 

And here comes the part you were waiting for while reading the whole article!

Many specialists earn a high income from buying laptops, tablets or gaming consoles that the owners thought were bad, so they can fix it or upgrade it with some time and a small amount of part cost. With this, they can achieve a profit up to 300-500%. 

And now let’s see my great news for you!

Easier said than done? You can do it with the help of Dave’s opinion blog! Dave will show you in a detailed article how you can fix your broken laptop yourself and how you can gain significant income by repairing secondhand stuffs. Also, this is a wonderful thing as it can help to ease your eco footprint in the world, while you are doing useful work and making money. It is a fantastic combination and you can do it all from the comfort of your home.

— Dave

 

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Blockchain Interoperability & Survivability

Part 2: How Interoperability is Key to Survivability

The idea that a blockchain network can withstand a concerted attack simply because it consists of physically distributed nodes appears to be an untested and unproven proposition. We have not yet seen the extent of attacks possible on blockchain networks. Attacks can range from classic network-level attacks (e.g. network partitions; denial of services; etc.) to more sophisticated attacks targeting the particular constructs (e.g. consensus implementation), to targeting specific implementations of mining nodes (e.g. code vulnerabilities; viruses).

In the design of the Internet architecture, survivability was the most important goal of the Internet, especially if it was to be the blueprint for military packet switched communications facilities. It’s important to remember that the IP Internet was conceived in the late 1960s, with the backdrop of the Cold War.

Survivability here meant that if two entities are communicating over the Internet, and some failure causes the Internet to be temporarily disrupted and reconfigured to reconstitute the service, then the entities communicating should be able to continue without having to reestablish or reset the high level state of their conversation. Therefore, to achieve this goal, the state information which describes the on-going conversation must be protected. But more importantly, in practice this explicitly meant that it is acceptable to lose the state information associated with an entity if, at the same time, the entity itself is lost. This notion of state of conversation is core to the end-to-end principle. The best-effort delivery of IP datagrams in the connectionless-oriented model achieves this overall reliability and the survivability of the IP network.

For blockchain networks today, we can re-interpret the term “survivability” in the sense of the completion of an application-level transaction. Completion here means from its transmission by an end-user application (or by a smart contract on an origin blockchain) to its confirmation on a single blockchain network or across multiple blockchain networks. The application-level transaction may be composed of multiple ledger-level transactions (sub-transaction) and which may be intended for multiple distinct blockchain systems (e.g. sub-transaction for asset transfer, simultaneously with sub-transaction for payments and sub-transaction for taxes). Thus, comparing the IP routing paradigm, the notion of packets routing through multiple domains being opaque to the communications application (e.g. email application, browser) can be re-cast to the notion of sub-transactions confirmed on a spread of blockchain systems being opaque to the user application.

In the blockchain case reliability and “best effort delivery” becomes the challenge of ensuring that an application-level transaction is completed within “best reasonable time”, possibly independent of the actual blockchains where different ledger-level sub-transactions are completed and confirmed. The notion of “connectionless” here means that in a two party application-level engagement both parties should not care which specific blockchain systems confirmed their sub-transaction, so long as all confirmed sub-transactions add up to a confirmed application-level transaction.

This challenge brings forth a number of interesting functions which echo those posed in the early days of the Internet architecture development:

Application degree of awareness: To what degree must an application be aware of the internal constructs of a blockchain system in order to interact with it and make use of the blockchain. As a point of comparison, an email client application today is not aware of constructs of packets, MPDUs, routing and so on. It interacts with mail-server according to a high-level protocol (e.g. POP3, IMAP, SMTP) and a well-defined API.

Placement of functions dealing with reliability and commitments: What is the correct notion of “reliability” in the context of interoperable blockchain systems and where should the function of reliability be placed. Should a user application be even aware of the notion of the atomicity of transfers. In the case of the Internet architecture, reliability of transmission is provided by the TCP protocol, which has a number of flow control features that “hides” reliability issues from the higher level applications.

Semantic type of blockchain: What mechanism is needed to communicate to an external application the semantics of the ledger-level transaction supported by a given blockchain system. For example, a blockchain system for payments is different from one for recording assets, and furthermore different payments blockchains around the world may be implemented differently. Merely publishing an application-level API does not guarantee interoperability at the transaction level.

Distinguishability of blockchain systems: For an interoperable blockchain architecture, how does an application distinguish among blockchain systems (even if they have compatible semantics) and at what level should an application be aware.

Objective benchmarks for speed and throughput: How do external entities obtain information about the current performance of a blockchain system and what measure can be used to compare across systems. Should node-level performance information be made available as part of the measure for a blockchain’s reliability and throughput as function of the consensus algorithm used.

Installing HTTrack on Ubuntu from Source

Today I needed to have the latest version of HTTrack installed to make a (static) mirror of a website that I managed

After a few attempts, this is how you compile & install HTTrack from source on Ubuntu :

wget "http://download.httrack.com/cserv.php3?File=httrack.tar.gz"

mv cserv.php3\?File\=httrack.tar.gz  httrack.tar.gz

tar xzvf httrack.tar.gz

cd httrack-3.49.2/

### the following is the key to a successful install
apt-get install zlib1g-dev libssl-dev build-essential

./configure && make && make install

Cutting a Table out of a mysqldump output file

I was restoring the backup of a MySQL 5.x server into MySQL 8.x server – and found out that it corrupt the MySQL 8.x ‘s mysql table

Which stores the usernames and passwords.

So I had to delete the mysql table from the backup, before trying to restore it again

Turn out it’s pretty easy, just will take some time since it’s a pretty big backup :

# search for beginning of 'mysql' table
cat backup.mysql | grep -n Current Database: `mysql`

# 155604:-- Current Database: `mysql`

# search for ending of 'mysql' table
tail -n +155604 backup.mysql | grep -n "Current Database"

# 1:  -- Current Database: `mysql`
# 916:-- Current Database: `phpmyadmin`

# cut that table out
head -155603 backup.mysql                > new.mysql
tail -n +$(( 155603+916 )) backup.mysql >> new.mysql

# voila !

Crontab runs on different timezone : here’s the fix

A few days ago I got reports that a server is running its cron jobs at strange times. Logged in, and indeed it was. A huge backup was running during peak hours. Saying that it disrupt people’s work is an understatement.

To my surprise, the explanation for this issue can not be found straightaway. Took some googling to find the cause. And even more time to find the correct solution.

So to cut the chase – /etc/localtime was a link to /usr/share/zoneinfo/America/NewYork

Changed it to /usr/share/zoneinfo/Asia/Jakarta – and voila, now the cronjobs are running at the correct times.

Hope it helps

Why a contact center should opt for Work From Home solution?

work from home WFH

The COVID-19 pandemic has completely changed the way businesses work. With lockdowns being implemented across the world and social distancing guidelines being issued, we saw organizations adopting a work from home model. Contact centers were no exception. Businesses moved their contact center agents to work remotely.

Saying that remote working for a contact center poses its own challenges will not be wrong. From proving agent infrastructure like a chair, table to laptops, etc to a secure network and right tools and technology to handle calls – its a process in itself. However, having the right technology partner by your side significantly takes off the burden.

In this article, we will discuss some reasons why its time for contact centers to go for a work from home solution.

Remote Working is Here to Stay

Even though businesses were forced into going for a work from home arrangement due to the pandemic but now they are considering this as a long term solution. Partly it’s because of the uncertainties due to the COVID-19 virus but a lot of it is due to the benefits of working remotely too. May big brands like Google, Twitter, Salesforce, etc have already announced the extension of work from home, From cost to maintenance of contact centers – organizations are realizing the pros of remote working outweigh the cons. Thus, it won’t be wrong to say that remote working can very well be the new way of working.

Cost Benefits

One of the biggest reasons why remote or virtual contact centers are gaining popularity is due to the cost benefits. With the agents working from home, the companies are saving up on the infrastructure cost – office space, electricity bill, furniture, and other overhead costs. More importantly, now the organization can go for a cloud contact center solution that requires minimum to no infrastructure – the agents and supervisors can log in from anywhere, anytime using just a laptop/mobile phone and internet connection. Thus, eliminating the need to set up a dedicated space for an on-premise solution.

Overcoming Agent Infrastructure Challenges

For the call center agents to work effectively from their homes, they need to have access to similar, if not the same tools and technology at their homes. When working from office the agents have a laptop, call center software to manage calls, a secure network along other internal systems that they might be using. However, things become tricky when the agents are working remotely and don’t have the same infrastructure available. That’s when a work from home solution comes in handy. You need to opt for a remote call center solution vendor that lets your agents work using their laptops, smartphones, or even their feature phones or fixed lines. Only then can you expect to maintain consistently high agent productivity and customer satisfaction.

Remote Monitoring of Agents

Now that your agents are working from home, as a supervisor you need to be able to track their performance and take corrective action. Having a work from home contact center solution that allows you to do that remotely is what you need. A remote contact center solution with live dashboards to monitor the number of available agents, call volume, average wait time, etc while also providing reports for a detailed analysis. At the same time, a work from home solution is also needed to identify any gaps or issues with the agents’ devise. As a manager, you need to be able to trust the data and make well-informed insightful decisions.

Conclusion

If the pandemic has taught us anything, its that one should always be prepared for uncertain and difficult times. As a business too it is important for the management to ensure that they are investing in technology that will last in such times too. Thus, it is essential to choose a contact center technology partner that allows you the flexibility to easily migrate from your existing setup (eg, on-premise) to the new one (on-cloud) or vice-versa when the need arises. The true testament of a contact center solution lies in the way it makes the lives of your agents and supervisors easier while ensuring consistently high levels of customer satisfaction. Because if your agents and customers are happy, your bottom line will be happy too!

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Parker Duofold

This year the world commemorate 75 years of the end of the World War II. After the surrender of the German on June, Japan decided to surrender on August, due to the continuous defeat at the Pacific theatre, the dropping of two atomic bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but especially by the declaration of war and attacks from Russia. Like Germany, Japan chose to surrender to the US rather than being occupied by Russia. Hey, those mad Russians had even murdered their own Tsar on World War I and almost all of their own heroes just before the World War II..

Now, please forget those clumsy Russias with their bad fountain pens (at that time), and focus to the US. Dwight D. Eisenhower and Douglas MacArthur were US Generals with quite different personalities, but — being American patriots — they both used the same brand of pen for the surrender documents 75 years ago. Eisenhower had chosen Parker 51, but MacArthur preferred to use Parker Duofold. Eisenhower’s Parker 51 was used to sign the German Instrument of Surrender in Reims (07 May 1945). MacArthur used a Parker Duofold to sign the Japanese Instrument of Surrender on the deck of the USS Missouri (02 September 1945). Both were two of the most popular pens of their time. But the Duofold was a design that was 20 years older than the 51.

Parker started producing Duofold in 1921. It was a large pen compared with other pens at the time. Almost all other pens at the time were black, but Duofold was available in a bright red/orange color. Even at the USS Missouri, there were multiple pens used to sign the multiple copies of the Japanese Instrument of Surrender — all were standard black pens, except that one Duofold.

The Duofold design is based on the era of Jazz and Art Deco and reflects the abundance and style of the time. It is actually a collection of writing instruments with exceptional character and outstanding design. The Duofold pen is available in 3 sizes, the large Centennial, classical International, or the smaller Demi. The one displayed here is a Parker Duofold Centennial, launched to celebrate 100 years of Parker pens, i.e. in 1988. Crafted from solid acrylic with highly distinguished, contrasting contrasting platinum details. The pen has an 18 kt gold nib in F sizes.

Some dimensions info:
Weight 28 gram
Length closed 135mm
Length barrel 127mm
Length posted 172mm
Diameter 13mm

Now I need to know — besides the usual arrow design of Parker pens — the story behind the ace of spade symbols on both the nib and the cap of this great pen.