Karmona Pragmatic Blog

Don't get overconfident… Tiny minds also think alike

Karmona Pragmatic Blog

American-Israeli Cultural Misinterpretation

September 30th, 2010 by Moti Karmona | מוטי קרמונה · 8 Comments

*** Warning: this post might contain cultural bias material ;) ***

As most of my friends and colleagues, I had the pleasure of working with Americans for most of my professional life and this post is only the tip-of-the-iceberg trying to capture one tiny angle of the American-Israeli cultural gap.

We (Israelis) think we know enough about English since we have watched many hours of American TV, studied the language from early age and use it constantly and “fluently” during our adult professional life but we should be aware about our tendency to interpret English phrases literally, which results in amusing/frustrating/interesting/challenging misunderstandings – We don’t see things as they are, we see things as we are.

Executive summary:

  • Israelis consider themselves creative, direct and honest but being perceived as arrogant, stubborn, negative, rude and pushy (did I forget any other negative adjective here? ;)
  • Americans are professionals, positive, polite and showing respect but being perceived as bureaucrats, artificial and square

Few examples:

Original (American) WordingOriginal IntentPossible (Israeli) Misinterpretation
American: “This is a challenge”This is a problem!Israeli: Great!, we are always looking for interesting challenges
American: “I would appreciate if you could get this done by Friday”The deadline is Friday – Make it happen!Israeli: It is nice-to-have to get it done by Friday, but next week is also an option…
American: “You might want to consider…..”There is a problem here – This need to be changedIsraeli: IMHO, there are other options but yours is also good
American: “This is ok but…”This is bad!Israeli: This is OK (Thanks! :)
American: “I do have my concerns”There are severe problem hereIsraeli: This is OK – Need some more discussions but nothing serious…
American: “I’ll make an effort”Just being polite… No real commitment here, it’s optional whether I’ll try harder than usualIsraeli: You can count on me doing everything possible for this

Original (Israeli) WordingOriginal IntentPossible (American) Misinterpretation
Israeli: “I don’t agree”I disagree with your point of view and want to discuss it some more so that we can reach agreement on the best approach (this is almost the default :)American: (Rude) There’s no room for discussion
Israeli: “Your presentation was OK”Your presentation was really goodAmerican: I didn’t like your presentation.
Israeli: “Why don’t you do it another way?”I’m giving you a helpful suggestion because I’m interested in improving the result.American: (Rude) I am insulting your work
Israeli: “I am OK” (direct answer to “How are you?”)I feel great – if I wasn’t, be sure you will be the first to knowAmerican: Nothing is OK
Israeli: “This will not work!”I need you to explain the way it suppose to work since it seems like I am really missing something hereAmerican: (Rude) I am insulting your work again…
Israeli: “I think” (pronounced as sink :)I think…American: Ha???

German Coastguard | “What are you s(th)inking about?”

Do you have more examples to share?

Relevant books:

Very cool link:

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Random Quote: “Don’t get overconfident. Tiny minds also think alike” (Pasha Bitz, May 2010)

→ 8 CommentsTags: People

The Pointy-Haired Boss Alter Ego

September 28th, 2010 by Moti Karmona | מוטי קרמונה · 1 Comment

Robert (Bob) Sutton wrote insightful post about “Good Bosses” which I feel it worth more than just a tweet

With an evidence-based (experience studying and consulting to managers in many settings) approach he have identified a list of key beliefs that are held by the best bosses — and rejected, or more often simply never even thought about, by the worst bosses.

Here are the half dozen I liked most, you can read the rest (+ dedicated post on each one) on his HBR blog post.

  • I have a flawed and incomplete understanding of what it feels like to work for me.
  • My job is to serve as a human shield, to protect my people from external intrusions, distractions, and idiocy of every stripe — and to avoid imposing my own idiocy on them as well.
  • I aim to fight as if I am right, and listen as if I am wrong — and to teach my people to do the same thing.
  • Innovation is crucial to every team and organization. So my job is to encourage my people to generate and test all kinds of new ideas. But it is also my job to help them kill off all the bad ideas we generate, and most of the good ideas, too.
  • How I do things is as important as what I do.
  • Because I wield power over others, I am at great risk of acting like an insensitive jerk — and not realizing it.

@Bob, very insightful – Thanks!

By the way, just added his new book “Good Boss Bad Boss” to my Delver Wish-List… please feel more than free to surprise me ;)

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Random Quote“my comprehension can only be an infinitesimal fraction of all I want to understand” | Ada Lovelace (a.k.a. the *first* programmer)

→ 1 CommentTags: Leadership · Management · People

Run “Hello World!!!1” Servlet on EC2 using AWS Toolkit for Eclipse

September 15th, 2010 by Moti Karmona | מוטי קרמונה · 12 Comments

It started like yetanother-weekend-experiment but once you start a weekend experiment you never know when or how it will end… ;)

I was very curios to take AWS for a quick test drive so I lost six hours of a precious beauty sleep and compiled this blog-post-capsule for future generations.



The Quest

* Run an “Hello World!!!1” Servlet on EC2 (less than $0.01 per hour)
Create a local development environment using EclipseAWS Toolkit for Eclipse (seems like a really interesting toolchain)

Preliminary Steps

Issues with AWS Toolkit defaults

The plan was to use this tutorial but surprisingly enough this did not work out-of-the-box (apparently due to Tomcat/JDK versions on the default AMI the plug-in is using but I didn’t waste time in making sure this is the issue) so I moved to plan B


Plan B – Create a custom EC2 AMI with Tomcat 6.something and JDK 1.6

* Launch an EC2 instance using Amazon’s ami-84db39ed AMI.  (basic Fedora 8 image)
* Use Putty connect to your instance


* Install Java on EC2 Instance

Download JDK (“Linux RPM in self-extracting JDK file”)

mkdir /usr/local/java
cd /usr/local/java
curl http://download.java.net/jdk6/6u23/promoted/b01/binaries/jdk-6u23-ea-bin-b01-linux-i586-30_aug_2010-rpm.bin > jdk1.6.0.23-rpm.bin
* Install the JDK
chmod 755 jdk1.6.0.23-rpm.bin # Change the permission of the file
./jdk1.6.0.23-rpm.bin #Install
updatedb; locate javac | grep bin  # this step merely serves to verify the installation
/usr/sbin/alternatives –install /usr/bin/java java /usr/java/jdk1.6.0_23/bin/java 100
/usr/sbin/alternatives –install /usr/bin/jar jar /usr/java/jdk1.6.0_23/bin/jar 100
/usr/sbin/alternatives –install /usr/bin/javac javac /usr/java/jdk1.6.0_23/bin/javac 100
/usr/sbin/alternatives –config java # Change the default JVM from gcj to Sun’s version (if needed)

* Install Tomcat on EC2 Instance

* Download Tomcat 6.0
mkdir /usr/tomcat
cd /usr/tomcat
curl http://apache.spd.co.il//tomcat/tomcat-6/v6.0.29/bin/apache-tomcat-6.0.29.tar.gz > apache-tomcat-6.0.29.tar.gz
tar zxvf apache-tomcat-6.0.29.tar.gz
* Start Tomcat and to verify the installation, load the root page from a web browser: http://your_instance_name:8080
cd apache-tomcat-6.0.29
bin/startup.sh  # Start Tomcat
* Configure Tomcat to launch automatically – Create a file “/etc/rc.d/init.d/tomcat” with the following content:
# Tomcat init script for Linux.
# chkconfig: 2345 96 14
# description: The Apache Tomcat servlet/JSP container.
exec $CATALINA_HOME/bin/catalina.sh $*
* Set the proper permissions for your init script and enable Tomcat for auto-launch:
chmod 755 /etc/rc.d/init.d/tomcat
chkconfig –level 2345 tomcat on
* Tomcat should now be automatically launched whenever your server restarts.


Are we there yet?

It could be but apparently the plug-in was poorly designed to use none-configurable command lines so I needed to add the following “tricks”:
* Set JAVA_HOME / PATH for your user – Login to your account and change your .bash_profile file
vi ~/.bash_profile
export JAVA_HOME=/usr/java/jdk1.6.0_23
export CATALINA_HOME=/usr/tomcat/apache-tomcat-6.0.29
* Create aliases to your Tomcat and JDK installation (these location are hard-coded in the plug-in)
ln -s /usr/java/jdk1.6.0_23/ /env/jdk
ln -s /usr/tomcat/apache-tomcat-6.0.29/ /env/tomcat
The EC2 instance is ready :)


What next?

* Create EBS Image AMI from your instance (it does takes couple of minutes to complete)
* Open your eclipse and start a new AWS project as described in the original link
* Define a new EC2 Server in Eclipse using your new AMI (reminder: the default didn’t work)
* Create your “Hello World!!!1” Servlet
protected void doGet(HttpServletRequest request, HttpServletResponse response) throws ServletException, IOException {
response.getWriter().println(“Hello World!!!1”);
* Click Run… this will automatically deploy your Servlet and run it on the remote EC2 instance… Wow :)


That’s it – I hope this will help, it does take approx. 1 hour so if you know some other way to make it work, please don’t be shy and comment.

Additional references I used to make it this far:

* Amazon EC2 – Getting Started Guide


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→ 12 CommentsTags: Cloud · Development · Simplicity · Tools