Recently in Personal Category

Total loss

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I've been in a car accident a week ago. First time ever. The car is totaled, but I'm totally fine, just a couple of scratches. Happily I was alone and was driving slowly enough.

That's been interesting experience though, but not that I wish to anybody to have. Kind of "driving the very right lane, nobody ahead of me, life is perfect, music is great, BOOM!, totally new reality". As it turned out there was another car accident on the left line just a second before and one car bounced off to my line literally a meter before me. What's amazing is that no matter how hard I try I can't recall a moment when there is another car before mine. All I remember is empty line and then airbag. How come? Is it eyes or brains limitation or was I just looking somewhere else at the moment? Or may be my brain doesn't want me to remember such shocking moments? That's sort of disappointing, like been in a car accident, but haven't seen anything.

Anyway, again, I'm totally ok.

Seattle trip

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We spent this holidays season in Seattle area. For my wife and our little Cat it was first trip to the USA. And traveling between Middle East and North West USA with 20 month old girl is a challenge (Scott gives pretty good advices for kid-wise traveling).  She did very well though, mostly sleeping during those 33 hours in the sky.

Happily we missed the record storm that hit Western Washington so when we arrived things were normal and we got electricity and heat in the hotel and all our local friends got electricity in homes already.

The weather was Seattlish - rain rain rain and lots of gray color in the sky. There were couple of days though when we could see the sun.

Xmas evening we were at the Dimitre Novatchev's house. First time I met Dimitre in person. We talked about everything. He showed me some great stuff he's working on, including a new XPath related application he's developed and having trouble to release because he works for Microsoft now. That was really nice evening.

I also met my friend Sergey Dubinets who does XSLT in Microsoft. They are all about this new important XSLT debugger feature I will be posting about as soon as it goes public.

After all it was nice trip and we managed to get home without anybody catching even a cold.


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Well, new year is here and I couldn't agree more with Kent Tegels - I'm glad 2006 is finally over. 2006 sucked on so many levels, but mostly on a personal one. 2007 must be a better year. This is my unexpressive but hopefully achievable new year resolution.

As a good sign the year started with Microsoft MVP award. This is fourth year in a row I'm getting MVP award (for XML of course) and this time I was really worried about getting reawarded - it was lousy year and I didn't accomplish much. Congratulations to all fellow MVPs getting their awards again this year. domains

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I still own and domain names and still have no time to build anything around there. If anybody have any ideas about any community driven projects - let me know, I'm willing to donate domain name and may be participate.

And if anybody want to buy these domain names - I'm willing to sell.

Off on vacation

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Ok, I'm off on vacation for 3 weeks. We gonna visit our families in Ukraine and introduce to them our little Catherine.

Beginning 2006

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Happy New Year everyone, I hope you are not sick and depressive as I am. But I'm slowly recovering...

Good news in the mailbox yesterday - I got Microsoft MVP Award again, third year in a row, 2004, 2005 and now 2006. In the "Windows Server System - XML" category. Well, thanks! That's cool to be Microsoft MVP btw. You own nothing to Microsoft (well, except NDA) and get private access to internal information and people as well as nice benefits. And all it takes - helping people, which is nice on its own.

Little Catherine gets first chair

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First chair for Catherine. Too big one, but not for long!

New management, new project

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The company I'm working latest 5 years for, Multiconn Technolgies, has melted finally down. 4 developers left including myself have been picked up by a parent company, BluePhoenix Solutions and so now on I'm working for a company with funny name Outlook & BluePhoenix. I will be woking on a product for converting old rusty IDMS mainframe applications to Windows 2003/Oracle/Cobol.NET + Web Services as an added value. Not bad, it could be worse. My new program manager gave my this book to read while the project slowly starts rolling:

Writing Solid Code: Microsoft's Techniques for Developing Bug-Free C Programs (Microsoft Programming Series).

You see - it's not so bad.

Future developer

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Future developer? No doubts!

70-320 exam: passed

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Well, I recently decided I need to be an MCAD. That requires to pass three exams. I passed one (70-315) in December and yesterday I went for a second one - 70-320 (Developing XML Web Services and Server Components with Microsoft Visual C# and the Microsoft .NET Framework). Should admit Remoting, Serviced Components or COM+ aren't what I'm working with every day. Anyway $50 (I don't know why but seems like Microsoft exams are just for $50 in Israel), 43 really good questions, 2.5 hours of brains gym. Passed, 904 out of 1000.

Now that I passed two core exams I need to pass one elective exam to achieve MCAD status. The question is which one? 70-229 (SQL Server 2000) would be a challenge as I'm not really a database guy. And SQL Server 2000, you know, if only it would be SQL Server 2005 then ok. 70-340 (Security) is even more challenging. The easiest (and the most interesting for me now) is 70-316 exam (Developing and Implementing Windows-based Applications with Microsoft Visual C# .NET and Microsoft Visual Studio .NET). And provided limited time that's what I'm going for next week. Yes, I know I'm a slacker and always looking for easy ways...

Oh, and if you are thinking about Microsoft certification too, beware that the Free Second Shot Offer ends May 31 (one should take first exam before May 31 and if fails can retake it for free in June).

5 years in Israel

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Today it's 5 years as my wife and I repatriated to Israel (in Hebrew it's called aliyah - ascent) from Ukraine. I'm happy we did it. Today Israel is our country and we just love it, it's amazing, unique and beautiful.

Baby photos

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Here are some first photos of our little Catherine:
Little Catherine Little Catherine Little Catherine Little Catherine

Catherine's gallery. I believe I start feeling something unusual seeing her. That's really amazing.

The daughter!

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Saturday, March 19 11:55AM the following transformation has occured:

<xsl:template match="family[@surname='Tkachenko' 
                     and husband/@fname='Oleg' and wife/@fname='Alenka']">
    <xsl:copy-of select="@* | husband | wife"/>
    <child sex="female" birth-date="2005-03-19"/>
For those who can't read XSLT, I translate to English: last Saturday at 11:55AM my dear wife gave birth to our lovely wonderful little daughter! They both feel well, already at home and I'm starting getting used to the "daddy" business.

Turning a page

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I turned some sort of a page in my life and now I'm starting a new one. Still tabula rasa, but some outlines are clearly visible.

I'm going to launch a new site,, which I see as a better place for my blog (nobody's able to pronounce anyway), for innovations and experiments with XML technologies aimed to create some new value for XML developers and users, for distributing XML tools both free and commercial ones, for hosting XML related information etc. Well, XML lab, you get an idea. Somehow I feel I need to be more tool oriented and to concentrate my efforts to be more productive.

I'm going to be more productive in writing too. I published only two articles last year - too bad, I promise at least five this year. I'm a slow writer because I'm perfectionist and can spend a day on a single paragraph. Come on, that's not a literature, that's technical stuff, which is different.

Does this mean I will be spending less time in newsgroups and forums from now on? Possibly but not likely.

I bought shiny new Canon S70 camera (yeah, after Tim Bray's words). Quite impressive camera. So go rebuild my photo gallery, I'll need it soon.

Certification fun

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I was doing annual papers cleaning back in the Hanuka/X-mas days and found a voucher for one discounted Microsoft Certificatied Professional exam, which I completely forgot about and which was about to expire at December 31. So I decided to give it a try. I chose 70-315 exam (Web apps with C#), spent a week preparing (using plain old good MSDN) and went to a Pearson Vue test center, which I conveniently found to be located the same street where I work (Maskit street in Herzliya Pituach).

Another elections disappointed

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Well, it's not about USA elections. It's about elections in Ukraine, the country where I was born and grew up. The president elections were just terrible. Calling them fraudulent is saying nothing, they ware super-fraudulent. Violence, intimidation, abuse of state resources in favor of the prime minister, frauds such as "in some areas 5 percent of voters had been added to the lists on voting day, many of them with certificates allowing them to vote away from their place of residence.". My friends and relatives in Ukraine confirm all that, basically from my experience there is no doubt it's all true. Ukraine is still far from democracy. A prime minister can spend lots of state's budget and organize a fraud campaign just to be elected as a president. And what's funny, everybody knows it. That's a normal practice in ex-USSR states. And that's terrible. Russian's observers are happy and called the elections open and honest. Russian's president sent his congratulations to the ukraininan prime minister even before the official election results were published! All western observers called the elections a farce and all western governments refuse to recognize the results. What a mess!

Oh, well, I left that country 5 years ago... No regrets.

Happy New Year! Shana tova umetuka!

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Today it's Rosh HaShanah holiday in Israel - the Jewish New Year. The new 5765 year starts on the sunset. As a matter of interest, in Hebrew years are written in letters, not digits, e.g. new 5765 year is written as תשס״ה. It's not really that Israel lives accordng to this calendar nowadays, it's more a matter of tradition, but it's national holiday (actually solid couple of weeks of holidays), so happy new 5765 year to everybody! Shana tova umetuka!

Here is nice comic picture I got (it says "Happy New Jewish Year" in Russian):

Small but cool

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Isn't it cool to have a small personal page at :)

Every MVP got such one recently. Here is mine (aka And here is the XML MVPs gang.

I'm back

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So I'm back. That was crazy trip Tel-Aviv-Prague-Berlin-Amsterdam-Paris-Bavaria-Prague-Tel-Aviv. Bad weather was chasing us, but fortunately it was mostly warm enough even for us sun-accustomed Israelis.

Mailbox overflow did happen and all incoming mail has been bounced during 06/01-06/03. If you were trying to send me something that days, you may want to resend it again. I just started mailbox cleaning (3000 unreaded / 70% spam). And RSS Bandit (600 unreaded / 0% spam :) is waiting for me too. I just removed about 100 spam comments from the blog. Recovering's going on...

Wearing tourist hat

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That's all, folks. I'm on vacation from tomorrow for two weeks. We gonna fly to Prague, stay there for some days and then make a car trip across Europe. No laptop. I'll read my mail occasionally though (I'm afraid otherwise my mailbox will explode with all that spam and I miss an important mail I'm waiting for).

That was a tough week for me. Sorry if I didn't answer some mails and didn't do what I promised. I still hope to provide unit tests for my classes in Mvp.Xml lib this evening.

See ya in two weeks. The June plans are huge. One more (in addition to Dimitre's one) pure (reflection-hacks-free) solution for returning nodesets from XSLT extension function problem, using XInclude with configuration files, next relase of XInclude.NET (update for the latest spec, support for intra-document references via in-memory mode), thread-safety and perf improvements for EXSLT.NET, next nxslt.exe with embedded XSLT profiler and XPath/XSLT analyzer, next WordML2HTML stylesheets, better asp:xml control and unveiling my new pet project (which is different from what I did before - it's UI oriented, but of course XML related). Thanks for reading and stay tuned.

Random excuses

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I'm blogging sparely last time due to trivial lack of time. I'm taking two MVP academy courses (advanced C# and ASP.NET level 200) simultaneously, trying to catch up with what I've promissed for Mvp.Xml and XInclude.NET projects, preparing new article and working on my new pet project, which I'm going to unveil soon. Oh, and 9 hours of the day job too! Oh, I want a bit of vacation.

Chernobyl chronicles

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Ivan posts a link to the "GHOST TOWN" - a story of a real girl riding on a motorbike through the closed Chernobyl area, where nuclear powerplant has exploded back in 1986. Lots of fantastic photos. Abandoned cities 18 years after the disaster. Deadly amazing and sad story.

I've been there 2 years ago. My mother was born and grew up in a region close to that area (near to Kiev) and that's where my granddad and grandma rest in peace. They've been told about the nuclear disaster a week after! Fucking commy wanted to keep it in a secret. Sad story.

MVP list updated

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MVP list was updated this night to reflect recent awards. Now it's 13 XML MVPs. It's nice to see the number (IMHO rough analogue of importance and appreciation within MSFT and the community) is growing.

Meanwhile I've started to enjoy MVP benefits :) I didn't explored all yet, being lost in private universe of MVP newsgroups, wow! Other details are probably NDAed, but in simple words - it's worth to be MVP.

Becoming MVP

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Well, another wave of MVP awards spreads these days. Now I got it too. In XML area of course. Thanks to all who supported me. Thanks to MVPs who nominated me.

I see two more XMLers - DonXML and Daniel Cazzulino have been awarded too. Congrats, guys!

Update: another XmlInsider, Jeff Julian has been MVPed too. Congrats Jeff!

One more update: one more XmlInsider, Dimitre Novatchev is on board too!


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Done. I moved from Linux-based Java-featured hosting to Windows-based .NET-featured one. No problem at all, even with MovableType database. It just works, all I needed to do is to add DB_File perl module as described in MT install guide.


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Finally I'm moving to the new hosting. I'm going to make it during x-mas holidays, probably the site and email won't work couple of days. If you need me, reach me via IM (I'm there).

Preparing to move

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This site was down yesterday for who-knows-how-much hours because some troubles with Apache httpd of my hoster. What's the most annoying I didn't managed to get in touch any customer service. Plain silence. I'm keep getting randomly scary and mysterious "Quota exceeded while writing "/var/spool/mail/oleg"" messages, mysterious because I've got plenty free space, again no any help from support. Well, I'm preparing to move. Probably to as your guys recommended. I only wonder if it's feasible to install dasBlog engine on hosted site?

ASP.NET hosting

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Well, I'm getting tired of my current hosting. I'm ready for change, can anybody recommend unexpensive ASP.NET hosting, 100Mb/2Gb?

Boxing of cats

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The day brought new toys - these for me:

And this one for Ju-ju:


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8 hours of meeting on extremely boring topic... Oooooooh, I feel like I'm in dead message queue.

Sued for antispam

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This Wired report is overwhelming: the guy who has been sending threatening messages back to the spammers, which refused to unsubscribe him from their spam mail list now faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. /. discussion here. Mark Pilgrim's prediction has been proven.

[Agitprop rant] On the Geneva Draft

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Well, in fact I want my blog to be free of agitprop, I really got fed up enough with that stuff being born and grown up in the USSR. But today I feel tired after jogging on the beach and then shopping with my wife too much time so forgive me this one.
Note: if you happily have no idea what Geneva Draft is - just skip this rant out.

Tim Bray has ranted about Geneva Draft and even published it on his site. Seems like he likes it so much it makes him just blind. I know, Tim has been living in Lebanon some time and the permanent Middle East Crisis makes his heart bleeding, but this is just ridiculous if not rude:

Murderous Warmongering Scum This document has been denounced by the current government of Israel (no surprise there) and the Swiss Government has received complaints from the World Jewish Congress for sponsoring it (astounding). The title of this section expresses my feelings for anyone who stands in the way of the hope of peace.
Oh boy, how familiar that smells, just like from an editorial of some soviet newspaper in the middle of the 1970s. I mean, really, as a matter of fun, "israeli warmongers" was the most typical slogan in the soviet agitprop since Israel won the War of Independence. It's funny Tim is using this slogan too, but it's sad in the same time, because as per his words the current government of Israel and probably all Israelis voted for them (70% by the way, /me included) are just murderous warmongering scums.
Well, may be I'm murderous warmonger too, but I has just thrown my copy of the Geneva Draft to the trash once I got it because as per my understanding it is a trash.
Beside that I believe the national losers (authors of the Geneva Draft lose couple of the last elections) don't have any legitimate rights to carry on any state-level negotiations, I just don't believe in peace with terrorists, sorry Tim, just like many didn't believe in peace with Hitler. "Land-for-hope-for-piece" deal doesn't work, the WWII and the last "intifada" proved that perfectly. Terrorists must be stopped, otherwise one day you will see a suicide bomber parking his heavy loaded car near your office.
An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.
That was said by Sir Winston Churchill.

Update: Don't get me wrong, I'm not a radical, I'm (and vast majority of Israelis) against "Let's give up everything just for hope for peace" approach, which the Geneva Draft represents. The road map plan is a way more realistical - first stop terrorism, destroy Hamas and friends and then get the state, but not vice versa.

A second year in Wonderland

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By the way I've rummaged a bit in Google archive and found my first posting into microsoft.public.xsl newsgroup. It was 2002-11-02, more than year ago. I was totally Java-oriented guy at that time, just started learning .NET and feeling like entering a new world. And the new world hooked me on its drugs rapidly and cruelly. That's all.

Daily asana for efficient coding

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Here are the sacral list of simple exercises to improve your karma and become a real guru. Just for neophytes and those who missed this practice somehow:

More links are welcome.

20 minutes of real fun

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Via Carnage4Life: Top 50 IRC Quotes
My favorite one:
*** Quits: TITANIC (Excess Flood)
Well, it's over. Just came back from the Matrix Revolutions. Couple of spoilers - its' not really about revolution, but peace talks. Nothing unexpected, the Hero is sacrificing himself to save the Mankind from the Dragon, an eternal archetype...
Anyway, this installment is certanly a way better than the Reloaded one.

Sukkot holydays

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It's Sukkot holydays in Israel. My mother came from Ukraine to visit us and provided that she is the first time in Israel, this week (and next three) I'm working mostly in tourist guide mode. There are plans to be in Jerusalem, Dead Sea, Eilat, Sea of Galilee, Golans, Caesarea, Negev desert etcetera. This week we've spent walking in Tel-Aviv area and lying on the beach, except for Wednesday, when we've been in Haifa. This picture has been taken there, it's Bahai Temple:
Bahai Temple in Haifa


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Does anybody have any recommendations/advices for buyng a notebook? I want to get one, something like from Compaq Presario series, which I only have an experience with. May be this one? Compaq Presario 2570

Thought spaghetti

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If you'd ask me what's the best of the Tim Bray's ongoing, I say it's photos. Of course rants are great too, but I like his photos even more than holy XML homilies. So I decided that my blog needs photos too. The ship below is rusting in port of Istambul, Turkey, where my wife and I spent a weekend couple of weeks ago.
Dead ship in Istambul port.
Thoughtlessly missing weather forecast we've been shocked by the rainy cold weather when the airplane landed. Come on, it's hard core middle-east summer still goes on in Israel! Fortunately it was mostly sunny enough for such delicate heat-loving plants like Israeli tourists.
We've been wandering three days throughout the old city, trembling in front of 1.5 millennial Hagia Sophia, ploughing the Bosporus (not on the ship above) etcetera. I've never seen so much and so big mosques and as well as so much women in paranjas. It's probably the only Islamic country I can travel with my Israeli passport. Funny enough, turks seems to be speaking Russian better than English, so second day I switched to Russian to stop making them gesticulating.

In another news - in less than an hour somebody is going to snap domain name. It wasn't renewed by a previous owner and will be dropped by Network Solutions at 2:00PM EST today. Nice one, but looks like I won't win it, as too many people want it.

To admin's spite

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Finally I managed to run IM at my work (firewall issue), my sign-in name is So whenever you need me...

[ADV] Old hebrew book for sale

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For those interested - I'm selling old hebrew book "Diaspora and Assimilation" by Zeev Zhabotinsky. Just found it recently in the loft :) Published in 1936 in Tel-Aviv (Palestine at that time). met daddy

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I managed to transfer my domain from NetworkSolutions (what an annoying registrar! terrible! very expensive!) to Gosh, finally.
Any ideas how to build it welcome.
Meanwhile got a chance to get out its permanent under construction stage, more info coming soon!


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On my way to M1 28:02?

Life in a simulation

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Have rummaged in all the morning.
Are You Living In a Computer Simulation? by Nick Bostrom
How to Live in a Simulation by Robin Hanson
Living in a Simulated Universe by John D. Barrow

to name a few. Well, now the simulated programmer goes back to a simulating programming :)

Blogging and MSFT

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Joshua Allen:
When I started blogging a few years ago, I hoped that one day many MSFT employees would be blogging. The theory (to my ENFP mind) was that people would have a better opinion of MSFT if they could see that MSFT is not a monolithic evil juggernaut, but instead is a collection of normal people who all have their own individual personalities, opinions, and so on.
I'd say it really works. Personally I do have changed my opinion about MSFT since I have started to read blogs of Dare, Joshua, Don and other MSFTers. That was kind of discovery for me to find out those who are developing technologies we are using are not agents Smith, but such brilliant people. Keep on guys, you rock.

Wow, while reading CORPORATE MOFO reloads THE MATRIX by Ken Mondschein I felt my flesh crawled when he shows how deep the ideas behind the Matrix movie can be. "cinematic ass-stomping" :) Worthwhile reading anyway. I knew it at the heart - the Matrix movie is just a postindustrial holy book evangelizing ancient ideas about the universe and insubstantial nature of the real world.

<silly-lyrical-digression>Before I became a programmer I was a guy mostly reading and trying to practice zen, gnostical apocryphs, Kastaneda, Gurdjieff and all that jazz. Prolonged rebel youth, hehe. Then being in a permanent deadlock I've modified myself into a techie, mostly reading and thinking about specs and practical life questions, that's who I am now. Actually I thought there is no way back and it was just a wacky wasted years, but now funny enough the Matrix movie makes me guessing it wasn't 180-degree turn and I'm still going my own way? Gurdjieff cannot be wrong after all:

"There do exist enquiring minds, which long for the truth of the heart, seek it, strive to solve the problems set by life, try to penetrate to the essence of things and phenomena and to penetrate into themselves. If a man reasons and thinks soundly, no matter which path he follows in solving these problems, he must inevitably arrive back at himself, and begin with the solution of the problem of what he is himself and what his place is in the world around him."

Matrix has you

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Finally Matrix has been reloaded in Israel. Just back from the movie. Well, for sure I have to contemplate on that and to see it again, may be then I will be able to formulate my feelings...

Neo as an early adopter

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Quite interesting analysis by Chris Suellentrop, unexpected conclusion - Neo is an early adopter of the Matrix product.
[Via Robert McLaws.]

On the move

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I'm moving to a new house these days, so practical life's questions totally occupy me, I just have no time to blog unfortunately. Hope I'll pop back in a week or so. Main question bothering me is how to get DSL before Passover holiday week in Israel has started, two days countdown.

Snowing and hailing time

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They say it's snowing in Jerusalem again (at the end of March!) and as I can see outside it's hailing, thundering and heavily raining here near of Tel-Aviv. I know, winter rains are a blessing for Israel, Kineret goes up 10cm everyday and this is daily-good-news here. Still almost two meters below the ecologically normal red line today:

But I don't know why it all makes me pessimistic. Blogs are almost empty these days, 100 emails at the morning was probably this year minimum, newsgroups are more dead than alive, the stuff I was working on last few weeks has stuck at the final stage for the reason I have no influence on... Well, I need to start doing something new and fresh, so I'm going to return to XInclude for .NET project. Kirk Allen has joined the team yesterday, probably more invitations are needed, lets spam newsgroups then ;)

PS. At least such news save me from the depression:

Saddam's ads is filtered out

Is blogging infectious?

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Well, blogging is really infectious disease and finally I got the infection. I have installed Movabletype engine on my site quite easily (c'mon, it's cgi based) and here is my first record.

Lets see how it works. Administering is not bad and default template looks really nice, but I'm sure I'll modify all the style once I get some free time.

I named my blog "Signs on the Sand" (it took me the whole evening and the night to formulate my feelings), because I believe that's what all these words worth and that's their final destiny. Hmmm, whatever, I like it.

So happy blogging to me.