Sunday, November 30, 2008

Tech Up

This weekend I was a bit reckless in my spending. Although I did not take advantage of the Black Friday sales (which I still think that don't exist, unless you sleep outside the store and muscle your way in at 5 a.m.) I still purchased a lot of things. While most of them are still not to be disclosured (Christmass gifts) I also took care of my tech needs and bought some replacements for my current gadgets. First, my back-up HDD (a 160GB SATA Western Digital, amazing drive, impecable so far) is demanding an upgrade and I took the big step and bought a 1 TB (Terra-byte sounds sooo goood!) Western Digital Caviar (still SATA) for 99$ (Newegg still rules in all these deals, although one can barely find any "Free shipping" deals).

Next, mostly out of curiosity and desire to offer the very best conditions to my new SATA backup, I decided to buy an external enclosure with a big fan. Although, WD are pretty cool and I NEVER had any heat issues with it, I want to be safe. Hence, I got this Rosewill enclosure with a 8cm fan that should more than suffice for the job. At 25 bucks is quite a good deal. Hope it will last (reviews were quite OK, but not perfect). And if you wonder, yes, in the end I payed up shipping (EggSaver was somehow not available, but only in the last step of the transaction and I didn't want to back down then).However, for the first time the enclosure arrived DOA so I was a bit disappointed. Still, I managed to tweak the fan into working and I was very pleased that I didn’t had to waste more time and money to get a replacement. Now the enclosure works fine and the HDD is always cool. The only problems I had were to use Mac Partitions of 500GB under Windows using a recognition program. That resulted in some failures to w/r after prolonged usage time. However, I switched to NTFS and so far, so good. Just that MacOSX cannot write these. On the other hand, I think FAT32 would be disastrous for such a huge HDD.

Finally, just to put the cherry on the cake I also purchased a mp3 player, in this case a Sandisk Sansa Fuze: 8GB, 2.5 color screen, thumb-wheel, FM radio and recorder. Cool features: you can record music off your favorite station, and play all sorts of videos, although the screen is quite small. I also got a 2GB micro SD card with the SD and miniSD adaptors for 5$ and a travel kit (complimentary!) from that contains plug charger, car charges, some great noise isolating earphones, extension cable etc. That makes the whole package a 10GB MP3 player with a lot of accessories for 75$...way better than an Ipod mini, which is the main competitor. The sound is great, the battery unbelievable (around 24hrs.) and the earphones from the travel kit have a great bass. Excellent value!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

New Look for Gmail

Gmail came up with a hip new face that includes many customizable themes, fonts and other stuff one might use to enhance his or her web-mail.

The Crumbling Markets

Today, the big issue is whether to bail out or not some big shots in the US industry, tomorrow it will be whether to bail out or not the US economy. While nobody's denying that the US is (still) the most important component of the world's economic system (the Chinese dragon could sketch a grimace right about now) the problem remains on what kind of signals are we sending and what type of future should we aim for. And bailing out the "Big Three" American auto producers, despite repaying political support and re-distributing funds from one taxpayer to another, doesn't do much else.
If only we could only separate somehow Economics from Politics..Moreover, the Fed cannot keep slashing interest rates crossing their fingers that things will pick up from now on. Nor does any stimulus package/money injection/etc. Today the biggest skill a Central Bank requires is be able to create confidence, because that's the only thing that keeps things going. And again, this has more to do with Magic rather than hardcore Macroeconomics. Once this wonderful feeling gone, it becomes harder and harder to keep the system stable and running. Besides, last time I checked, the economy should be rooted in some sort of palpable reality. All this money creation value enhancing out of thin air, excessive credit expansion and imaginary growth on paper, is in the end bounded by the real economic facts. While creating fancy named investment instruments and flipping them around the globe to get virtual value added works fine for a while, it will always end up in a ball of dust. There is a pressing and legitimate issue: to limit the damage. And it is a fairly good selling point for any politician, whether it will or not fail miserably in practice. However, for an economist is much more than that. Is about understanding, emulating and "optimizing" the world. And that's why right now economists are clueless and divided. We just don't know. Nobody really does. and these are just the treatments for the effects, not for the causes..which again is a bit of witchcraft Decreases of oil prices, consumer spending and confidence do point out towards deflation. Despite the whipping effect of this word associated with the Great Depression, there are serious concerns as to where and how far it may persist. However, shaping the future, making sure that things will get better from now on, is equally important.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Hot, Flat and Crowded

Thomas Friedman is coming back with (the-not-so-new) idea of a green revolution in which the US can lead the world in developing solutions for the energetic and environmental crisis that awaits us. I haven't read it, obviously, but I look forward to. Just saw the commercial intro on The Daily Show and that's about it.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Get Your MacBook Sleeves

Today I started to look for a nice sleeve for my MacBook. Although, the damage has been basically done throughout my trips this Fall, when I didn't have time to purchase a sleeve, so I relied exclusively on the one provided by my backpack's interior. However, now I was thinking to get back on the issue, so I started to browse a bit the web. Obviously, the prices are quite indecent from 50$ to 20$, taxing basically your (ex-) posh-ness (now, Macs are quite popular and I bet in 2-3 years will probably become considerably larger). I even saw one guy who got so pissed off that he did it himself: So that what funny. But getting to the point of this blog, if you really want something aristocratic check out these manilla-vinyl-airmail-imitating-sleeve: Looks great if you ask me. The only problem is that fits only Macbook Airs!:)

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Presidents Can Jump

CNN got an exclusive insight scoop at Barack Obama's game of basketball just before the election. When was the last time US had a leader with so much flair and athleticism? Hopefully, Mens sana in corpore sano, I look forward to seeing his decisions in the Oval Office.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Circuit City Files for Bankrupcy

The heads keep rollin' as a result of the crisis...Circuit City, a giant in the retail business, seeks Chapt. 11 protection amid pressure from vendors ahead of the holidays.

The company's biggest creditors are its vendors: Hewlett-Packard has a $118.8 million claim followed by Samsung ($115.9 million), Sony ($60 million), Zenith ($41.2 million), Toshiba ($17.9 million) and others. Smaller creditors include GPS navigation system maker Garmin, Nikon, Lenovo, Eastman Kodak and Mitsubishi.
Source: Associated Pres

Friday, November 07, 2008

Spurious Movie Reviews

After a long dry period, I started to watch movies again. Too much work and too little time for entertainment..hence a motion picture does the trick just fine. Although the first movie I have seen two or three weeks ago, the rest are quite fresh (from this week).

Charlie Wilson's War is a mixture of black comedy and drama showing how instrumental this senator was in pumping money into Afganistan's weapons to fight off the Russian invaders. The fun part is to see how politics is carried out and the outcomes as a function of various parts involved in the process. Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts have two great parts in which they show their best acting. (7 out of 10)

Shoot'em Up. I was expecting a Guy Ritchie gangsta type movie but instead I got some sort of cheesy half Tarantino shooting rampage. Didn't bother to time the actual time in the movie when gunshots are not present, but they main hero (Clive Owen) shoots his way out of everything (with and without broken fingers, etc) even from a hot scene with a gorgeous Monica Belucci. Which is not right at all.. (4 out of 10)

In Bruges. A slow paced but very sensitive movie about three serial killers than end up killing each other in a wonderful "almost fairy tale" city of Bruges. I got mesmerized by the beautiful sites which have stirred up my own memories about Belgium and Europe, in general. A must see & very artistic piece! (8.5 out of 10)

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

No Sweat

A clear victory (338 - 155 votes at 12:00am on Wed)ended one of the best carried out campaigns in the history and gave Obama the chance to make history, as the first Afro-American president of the USA. The name of the game is << CHANGE >> and America proves why it can be again the great engine of revolution in the world.

Voting Frenzy

YES, after two years of campaigning, fighting and elbow maneuvering, it finally came down to the big, final vote. While nobody in his or her right mind could believe any scenario under which Obama would lose (it is pretty damn hard mathematically/statistically speaking) they are trying to preserve the "excitement" of the race. This remembers me of the presidential election we had in Romania in 1996 when CHANGE was the name of the game and after 6 years of brain-washing by the left wing (former communist) people, everybody got excited to have a right wing government. They ended up calling that the worse period ever, although I thought they have fought the good fight and made some tough choices. But that's besides the point..Back then there was this frenzy about getting there & vote, although again, it was quite obvious that the right wing guy couldn't lose. It's a mix of self-enforcing importance, believe in your duty and stand up for it, so probably one should do it. But again, who would see McCain win? I bet that nobody, not even him.. This race was over before it began; change is in the air and it is a binary choice (1 for Obama; 0 for McCain) no matter how much the latter would avoid any comparisons with the Bush administration; Up next: a recession and a war to deal with. And maybe Pallin for 2012:))))..

Monday, November 03, 2008

Trick or treat & Troy Night Out

Last Friday was (again) Troy night out, one of the few opportunities when you can enjoy the city for all that it can give in terms of culture, music and night life. I am not sure if it still done every last Friday of the month or not (since I was away so much lately) but it seems like a good wake up call for the city. Incidentally, Halloween was also celebrated so more reason to get out and experience. After strolling the streets and checking out some art exhibitions and some music, the day ended up with a small but nice party, close to RPI. Unfortunately, I wasn't prepared at all for Halloween (no costume) so I felt a bit akward among all those pirates, unemployed, Fidel El Commandate, Winnie the Pooh people.

Intramural Soccer Champions 2008

Last Night on a freezing wonderful time for soccer, RPI Internationals did it again and managed to become Intramural Champions for C-League, here at RPI. And I was proud and happy to be a part of that. To double that joy, I even scored in the final, so everything went pretty smooth. The tough things was that we had two games scheduled on the same day, one at 6:00pm (semifinal) and the big final at 9:00pm, if we were to make it. The first game was good, we played better than the other team, we scored once but missed a lot of additional chances. However, in the end, the equalized with few minutes before the time. A bit disappointing and scary, especially since the extra time did not settle anything and we went to penalty shoot-outs. Fortunately, they've missed their last shot, so we were able to score and advance to the finals after a long and tiring game. At 9:30 when the game started it was really freezing, we had only 1 sub, and they were looking extremely good. They scored and ran a lot while we could not do much. After the break we changed the strategy and they got tired despite a nice bench. I scored the equalizer with a very nice shot, following after a couple of minutes by another goal which give us the edge we needed, and we never looked back afterward.
At the end, nothing was bothering us anymore (cold, muscle pain, etc). It was just great to wear the Champions' T-shirts, cheer and take pictures as a team. What a great feeling!