Thursday, November 29, 2007

China is pushing up on Coal

A new World Watch report about China and its consumption of coal just came out and the numbers are staggering. The US and EU have to some extent curved up their coal dependency but China needs cheap energy for the long praise growth.
Read the short report.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Strange Inventions: part n+2: The Blowable Interface

Well if you got tired of the mouse or trackpad on your can always blow your way. At least that's what some people at Georgia Tech are emphasizing in the short movie below.

Glad I don't have Windows Vista

In the latest Mac versus PC ad, that put-upon Windows guy quietly concedes he's "downgrading" from Vista to XP. He may have good reason: new tests show that the older XP runs common productivity tasks significantly faster than Microsoft's newest operating system.
Researchers at Devil Mountain Software, a Florida-based developer of performance management tools, have posted data from their most recent Windows performance tests -- and Vista, even after it's been upgraded to the new Service Pack 1 beta package, is shown to be a laggard.
Source: Informartin Week

Downgrade to XP from Vista

Monday, November 26, 2007

How many cards one needs for a booking with Wizzair?

Flying Low Cost for the First Time. Well, is a first-timer for me. Again, not the very best one I guess. Objective: book a Budapest-Cluj Napoca and return flight. Price: unknown at the moment but expected to be cheaper and for sure faster than those small buses serving the same route. Instruments employed:4 cards (two debit and two credit; two Mastercard from the US and one Mastercard Romanian and one Maestro Romania). Result: no results.:) The two Romanian didn't work, as well as the two US ones (which is strange) so finally I just used another Mastercard from Belgium (with love?):)), which strangely enough did the job. Anyways, it is so interesting to see the taxes, fees and more fees pilling up from those 0.001 or 0.000 prices, that ones MUST be always aware of his/her final price (like on Ebay) in order to make the right choice. Plus, do not forger the getting-to-those-airports fees which may turn up to be equally if not more expensive than the low-cost flight. In my case, it quite even: price is about the same, time-I have to wait both trips about 6 hrs in Budapest (which I still value to be better than spending it on some microbus; moreover on the inbound flight I have to change in Zurich so..if there are any delays, I am covered). Let's not forget the free wireless in Budapest inside the terminal. Not so bad after all.

The Blogger, the Better

It seems that I have a need to do ALL the THINGS that I should do over the next few months..right NOW. Thus, along these lines, I finally started to write a small blog in Romanian as well, about all those little and characteristics of a transitional Eastern and Balcanic (mostly) country. First post is about the depreciation of the RON (Romanian New Leu, ROL- Romanian Leu was the previous currency which made us more of a millionaires than the Italians with their Lira). This relates also to the title of the blog, "The worlds of an Old RONin", which would be me.:)) Cheers! or Noroc! as we say it in Romanian.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

New Blogger Strains

Recently, I have started working on a paper attempting to quantify and explain productivity growth in the transitional countries of Eastern Europe and Central Asia. While doing this, I though it would be interesting to open up a new blog which describes in detail the daily product and challenges of this new endeavor. Let's see how it works.

Over a 1,000 visits

Incidentally or not, for the right or not-so-right reasons, still, I am pretty excited about those 1183 visits that this blog has received over this past year. Naturally, perhaps 10% of those are "self inflicted" after certain postings to see how it came up etc etc. But still, you cannot dismiss as quickly the big one and three of thOse. The clustermap looks now a bit dissapointing since it seems that my annual cleaning period has caught up with me. Still, one can look at the overall picture of visits and use Google Analytics for more details. Personally I like this stock method of Clustermap rather better but it would be great if one would be able to just click a dot and get at least the basic info (exact location, date,lenght, pages visited, perhaps even links that were made).

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Best things are (still) for free

Two of Caravaggio's major works are still in Santa Maria church in Piazza del Popolo, ROme: "The conversion on the way to Damascus" and "The Crucifixion of Saint Peter". Amazing pieces of art..the details are better than anything I have seen before in my humble existence. and amazingly enough that they are still there..exhibited for free and still hidden from most of the touristic waves (hopefully).
Caravaggio was considered enigmatic, fascinating, rebellious and dangerous. He burst upon the Rome art scene in 1600, and thereafter never lacked for commissions or patrons, yet handled his success atrociously.An early published notice on him, dating from 1604 and describing his lifestyle some three years previously, tells how "after a fortnight's work he will swagger about for a month or two with a sword at his side and a servant following him, from one ball-court to the next, ever ready to engage in a fight or an argument, so that it is most awkward to get along with him." In 1606 he killed a young man in a brawl and fled from Rome with a price on his head. In Malta in 1608 he was involved in another brawl, and yet another in Naples in 1609, possibly a deliberate attempt on his life by unidentified enemies. By the next year, after a career of little more than a decade, he was dead. (wiki)

Rome The Very Short Version

What can you say in a matters of few lines about such a great and complex city?Hard to solve, this one. A thing is clear though: ROme is exactly what I do like in an European city: historical street and small squares, charming little restaurants (and plenty of them), beautiful buildings, huge imposing churches worthwhile exploring and admiring. On top of that, the Roman legacy (Forum, Palatinum, Circus Maximus, Coloseum etc) makes it even more diverse while the Vatican city/state is the cherry on top.

Web Representation Needs

After my leave of absence for one year from RPI, the rules have canceled my webpage from their servers. I guess I should have at least anticipated it earlier and use some external provider for displaying my personal matter what the rules are. However, I have a bigger problem with my Frontpage sleek page that cannot be displayed properly in Mozilla (who is still using IE nowadays??) so I guess I have to re-do everything...and since I am thinking more in terms of Flash it takes a lot of time to do it. And while time I do not have at all, my page still remains an offline forgotten projects. perhaps i will try a simple fast googlepages approach

PRIME Winter School

5-9 Nov at CERIS, CNR, Rome. Italy
A very good opportunity to revise, improve and finally present my work on national systems of innovation in transition countries. Moreover, I saw a couple of very interesting presentations on new ways of measuring Science and Technology like webometrics or nice bibliometric visualizations. Big thumbs up!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Use the black Google

When your screen is white, being it an empty word page, or the Google page, your computer consumes 74 watts, and when its black it consumes only 59 watts. Mark Ontkush wrote an article about the energy saving that would be achieved if Google had a black screen, taking in account the huge number of page views, according to his calculations, 750 mega
watts/hour per year would be saved.
In a response to this article Google created a black version of its search engine, called Blackle, with the exact same functions as the white version, but with lower energy consumption, check it out.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Weird Science - raising live fish via USB

It seems that soon we are not going to leave our computer at all. I was (?) surprised when I saw this Korean invention: the USB fish bowl concept. No hassle, no knowledge, no fun (?) Remains to be seen.

Killer Cars

The Bugatti Veyron 16.4 is the former fastest, former most powerful street-legal production car in the world. But it keeps the title of the quickest (0-60, 0-100, quarter mile, etc.), most expensive street-legal full production car ever made and the fastest accelerating production car in history, with a proven time of 0-60mph of under 2.5 seconds. It can produce an excess of 1001 horsepower, in either the metric or SAE scale (see below), and achieve an average top speed of 253.81 mph. This speed and power was eclipsed by the SSC Ultimate Aero TT, which claimed the “Fastest Production Car” world record with a top speed of 257.45 mph and an average speed of 256.19 mph on September 13 2007, later verified by Guinness World Records on October 9, 2007.[4] The Bugatti Veyron reached full production in September 2005. The car is built by Volkswagen AG subsidiary Bugatti Automobiles SAS in its Molsheim (Alsace, France) factory and is sold under the French Bugatti marque. It is named after French racing driver Pierre Veyron, who won the 24 hours of Le Mans in 1939 while racing for the original Bugatti firm.(wiki)

Deep Dive Corp

(More) Great Electronic Music from Germany

The new Stata 10

When I saw the new Stata 10 software for Stata Corp. I couldn't believe how much faster it was. Moreover, it seems that the minimum requirements are given just for the sake of it since it works fine on my old T22 machine. Moreover, the slick look, expanded options make it even more appealing. But...hold your horses. Quite often I find out strange error messages and variables suddenly dissapearing from the dataset. So far I wasn't able to figure out what is going on but I will look into it soon. It is weird also because I never had this problem with Stata8 or 9 SE.