Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Mexico City - an exciting city

Well, at first I was a bit afraid. I mean 20 million people is almost the whole population of my home country Romania. And that is pretty high for just a city, no matter how spread it might be. But in the end, I didn't feel like Mexico City is too (or That) big. A second thing that I regret is that we got some real bad weather when i was there, so it was quite hard to walk and really enjoy the city. I had to buy an umbrella, because the rain kept pouring on for days. Moreover, I didn't bring warm and rain coats so it was quite unexpected to be colder than in upstate NY. But in the end, all was well and I managed to see and do a lot. The city is great with many things to offer from walking down Reforma Avenue (where my Fiesta Americana hotel was located) to Chapultepec park and Castle or towards the city Centre (Zocalo and all that). I even managed to walk the whole thing one afternoon and it did not take me more than 1 hr, maybe...which again, added to my belief that the city isn't that big (as it should be for 20 mil). The food is great although not as cheap as one might expect. Anyways, just go ahead and try as many things as possible. I do not like extreme spicing but I still enjoy a lot the Mexican food. So fresh and so nice. Also, once you are there, you must go and see the pyramids at Teotihuacan (great site, you feel like going back in time a thousand years), the National Anthropological Museum (the best there is, lots of exhibits from Mayas, Aztecs, Teotihuacan and other civilizations in North and Central America), the National Palace, The National Cathedral and so many more others. I am a bit disappointed that three extra days were not enough..so I still have things to see when I go back: Coyocan (I have stayed there in a hostel, but didn't see everything there is to see there) San Angelo (another beautiful neighborhood) the spherical pyramids (xx don't remember the name), Taxco (a small city 2hrs south, the capital of silver mining in the region) or what is left of the former canals (again, my memory is a bit blurry with regards to the name of this area). It is funny remember my trips with the metro (not so happy in the rush hours though) and studying peoples faces while picking up some of their words [I only understand Spanish by association via Italian:)]. Overall, very nice people, city and country. I really look forward to getting back in Mexico sometimes and explore more of this country.

Globelics conference 2008 Mexico City

After participating in the Globelics Academy 2008 in Tampere, I also got my paper accepted for an oral presentation in the "big" conference of Globelics, held this year in Mexico City. I really enjoyed being there and give this paper..after all, it gave me the much needed incentive to revise it this June and have it (almost) ready for resubmission at Research Policy. The only objection I had was the selection of topics and papers (which was a bit odd) and the draconian time constraints (15 minutes) which made it harder to present. But in the end, I managed to do it in 15 minutes and enjoyed every bit of it. Moreover, this was a big conference with some of the big names in Economics of Innovation field. Lundvall, Nelson, Soete, Malerba, Fageberg they were all there, plus a lot more "star scientists" that I might have omitted or not personally know. And there is such a great feeling and personal satisfaction to be able to talk to them, not only about your research, but more about life and other unrelated issues. There were also some PhD students, such as myself, presenting, but not that many. However, very nice people and I hope to stay in touch.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Amazing Champions League Win

Not many believed it is possible, but, CFR Cluj beat AS Roma in Italy 2-1. The small Romanian team has debuted in CL and although they are in a pretty bad shape right now (#7 in the Romanian league) pulled out a great game in Rome. Very dynamic, spectacular and overall, a deserved win. In a group with Chelsea and Bordeaux, that has spiced up things ever more. We'll see how things will enfold..

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Which Virtual Machine to Use for Win under Mac OS X

I have been testing VMware and Parallels and from my limited experience so far here are some tips: 1) use Bootcamp if possible and just boot in Windows; I rather use one or the other and so far I have been still (conservatively) using WIN but I am migrating slowly; Leopard is such a great OS!! 2) if #1 is not possible go for VMware; advantages: faster and more reliable; More updates...soon.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Bootcamp-ing made easy

Well, for good or for bad Bootcamp is now integrated in the new OS X Leopard. I guess the good part is that now it would be more stable and faster than previous set-ups, although I have no ideas about those. The bad part is that for those without Leopard, I heard that Bootcamp is no longer available for free download, which hits them quite a bit. More nice things: the drivers for Windows work pretty well (only one exception: mine after I let it go into stand-by, the screen resolution becomes funny (unclear) and sometimes I even lose sound). Bad things: doesn't allow multiple partitions...just two: one Mac, one Windows; I have tried many things to overcome these issues but I wasn't successful and in the end I gave up, since it eats up too much of my time. There are some forum users though, who claim that they have the solution and they did manage to have a tri-boot sequence on a Mac. So, Google for them confidently if you really need them. I also start to get use with the Mac environment...as a major Win user is a bit tricky to learn the key shortcuts and all that, forget about the right click and use FN key for Windows Commander quick functions. But i have to admire the Leopard system overall, its ease to use and ergonomic fundamental nature. Just need to get used to it ..:)

A brand new (Apple) World

After a life on PC it is time to try also a MAC. I wanted to get one ever since they made the transition to Intel based processors that allow one to run Windows on them. Moreover, the benchmark test show that they even do it better than the native PCs. Which says something (very good) about their architecture/performance. That being said, I decided to try it myself. After all, they also became quite affordable now...and I have a feeling that the prices will go even lower over the next two years. To me, it looks like they are after the big Market for PC users so the combination lower price-Intel based Macs goes right at the heart of such a strategy. On top of that, the slick design, allegedly better performance and lower spyware/virus threats make the macs even more appealing. Back to the real world, I got the cheapest specification with a Macbok 2.1 Ghz and 1 Gb of RAM. For 80 bucks, Newegg.com provided a new 4Gb (dual) G-skill memory which fills now the slots of my new laptop.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Romanian soccer rollercoaster

From ups (almost top soccer) in the 1990s to valleys and deep saddle points today, Romanian soccer has still a lot to offer. And by that, I mean not just scandals, "charismatic" talkative club owners (e.g. Becali @ Steaua Bucharest) and wide-spread accusations of corruption. We can actually play soccer and a good one too. Although the memory of winning the Champions League in 1986 against Barcelona has well faded in the background, recent performances in UEFA cup (2005-2006) and two teams in Champions League's grups 2008-2009 are something to be proud of. But again, after some wimpy game in the EURO 2008 against France and a great miss to beat Italy (draw) we surrendered unconditionally against a Dutch team who did not want to win (0-2). Well, after all that, the time for REAL SHAME is here. It has been 3 years since we lost a game on home court but now we need to reset the clock. Lithuania, yep, that huge 3.5 million top soccer country administrated us a dry 0-3. Although I haven't seen the game it must have been quite pathetic. And I am glad I've missed it. The funny thing is that not even such a GREAT start in the qualifying campaign the coach who made a laughing stock out of us in the EURO 08 (Piturca) is not going to be dismissed. Amazing!! talking about that wonderful thing called corruption and all those heads in Romanian soccer that seem to be appointed for life...

My first baseball experience

Hilariously enough, today was my first true baseball experience. While so far I wasn't really interested in learning (all) the rules of this game, yesterday, after three years spend in the Yankees' land, I finally pulled it off. Thanks to my friend Mikko and his patience I enjoyed a full minor league game between the Tri-City ValleyCats from Troy and the Lowell Spinners. Which in the end proved to be one of their best (the home team had an embarrassing season). Beside the game, people come just to chat and hang out, which is a bit unusual. But hey, if you had to watch 3 hours or more in small 5 minute reprises, you'll do it too. Other than that beer, sweets, food and snack may turn the event around. not to mention all the promotional stuff thrown in the crowd and up for grabs.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

The global path of an Ipod

By now, all of us are used to check out the back of a product and usually get a "Made in China" report on our curiosity. While in the 1980s that meant good quality/exquisite products, the 1990s and 2000s brought a flood of products all made in China. While people like me growing up in Eastern Europe have developed a small phobia of Chinese products during the 1990s(imitative, low quality stuff)..today that feeling is almost gone since virtually ALMOST EVERYTHING is MADE in CHINA. Quality has nothing to do with the issue anymore. Everybody is producing in China; the difference is WHO ships WHERE. While you can still find plenty of dubious Chinese products in the "1 Dollar" stores across America and in developing countries (I am curious about what you can find in Africa for example..), designer clothes, watches, electronics, etc are made right next door. A recent example that was quite funny involved tracking the FedEx package for an Ipod touch all the way from Kunshan, China via Shanghai, Ankorage (Alaska), Indianapolis an so on. Amazingly, it takes only 3-4 days to reach the Eastern coast of US! Just makes you wonder: what is next?

Which DSLR is good for me?

I have been struggling with this question for some time, trying to replace my former camera, a nice Panasonic Lumix FZ7 of which I was very pleased (overall). But now, since I am thinking to test the SLR world, again the mind of an economist comes into play trying to optimize everything, exploit informational assymmetries etc etc. To put it bluntly, looking for the best quality at the lowest price. So far I was impressed with the new SONY series (alfa 200 and 350) and especially Olympus E-520 (fully loaded with features like live view, stabilization system built-in, four third lens systems, and awesome prices for kits that include 40-150mm lens). But again, I might lean back and wait for the Black Friday news or Christmas gifts:)). In the meanwhile, my roomate was kind enough to provide me with his Canon Xti Rebel which I like more and more as time goes by.