12 November, 2012

Tractors - Making your week better since the 1900's

I  would've never thought that I would ever enjoy watching someone drive a tractor. Well, besides when I was 10 and I was fascinated with everything that had an engine in it.

But THIS, this made me so happy watching it.. It's the kind of unconscious joy that you rarely feel, that fills your heart and puts a smile on your face, no matter how miserable you feel. 

Also, a bonus for all you car porn lovers:  a tractor with a Jaguar V12 engine. A sound that could melt glaciers.

Both of them are from the nordic countries: first one from Sweden and the second one, as the more vexillological inclined of you may have noticed, from Norway.

Thanks go to the amazing people from Jalopnik (both the editors and the community)!

14 October, 2012

To be or not to be - there isn't a question

This post is just for me so I don't expect anyone else to understand it.

Should I be angry? Of course, why the hell not.

On who? This might be a problem. It's not her fault, at least in my mind, so that only leaves me. And I cannot be angry ar myself. At most, I can be dissapointed.

Am I angry? Yes, I am freaking angry.
I'm angry that my life was disrupted, I'm angry because the situation could've been better, I'm angry because I think everything is avoidable ( usually in hindsight ) but now I have no clue about what I should've done differently.

On a different note, I should be thankfull, because this anger gives me more willpower and more courage to do what I want. It's not the best case scenario, because who would want a life and a career built on tears?

Do Iook angry and act angry in any way? No, what freaking good would this do? It would make my life harder, having to explain all this shit and it would probably hurt her ( i still care about her happiness even if at times I want her to disappear from this world and from my life ).

I still hate the fact that the best memories from the past months are with her, because it makes me sad whenever I recall them.

I would've loved to go awol for a few months on a deserted island and sit there until I forget everything, but that's not at all productive. Or even possible.

Does life end without her as I thought before? Yes and no. That life, that I imagined, that I wanted, is over. Nothing will bring it back. But there is another life, one that you couldn't have planned before, one where a lot of things are possible.

Another thing: why didn't I fight harder, or fight at all? Because I can't. My power is in a routine I've laid out for me, which should cover most possibilities. Once that is broken, I'm incapable to adapt for while, until I fix that. So, I wanted to fight, but I don't know how and I cannot, mentally.

I hope she understands this and she won't accuse me of not caring enough to fight for her. I won't blame her if she does, but I will lose most of my respect for her because of this.

I will get through this, without any help. I have to.

PS: but, if any of you have a time machine, i would love to live the past 5-6 months again.

19 July, 2012

RED cameras and EVOs

A short intermezzo with some rally action in Australia, with two EVOs: EVO 4 and an EVO 6 Tommi Makinen Edition , shot with a RED camera.

Please do watch it in 1080p and fullscren. It's amazing! Cheers go to Jalopnik, where I saw the video and to BerryBrothersMotorsport, who made the video.

16 July, 2012

Anonymity: when to say enough

It's been a while(almost two decades) since the Internet came to be an integral part in our lives and recently, a lot of concerns appeared about the privacy you get/have the right to, when online(Carrier IQ, Google, Facebook).

But this is not the actual subject of this post. It's all about the choice of using your real name and details online, instead of using various aliases. Everybody knows it's a common practice for teenagers to use an alias when posting/chatting over the internet, and lately it seems to have been a common thing for adults to act worried about this.

From one point of view,  I see anonymity as an useful tool in the development of their character. The "power" to make your opinion heard with almost no responsibility is a good test of character. Sure, there will be the occasional idiot who swears and brings nothing constructive to the discussion, but for people that have more inhibitions, who are introverts or who are just afraid of being judged: it will help bring their true opinions about cultural, political or social events and ideas.
It's easier to make a personal statement when there is no chance of "ad hominem" attacks ( I am currently planning an article about logical fallacies, so I'll explain it better there). 

I've witnessed lots of introvert people evolving nicely behind aliases, that hid their identity in the online world ( forums, blogs, etc), and I genuinely think they would've had a lot of problems later in life, fitting in the society or functioning as a normal, social, human being.

Of course, this has to be coupled with proper human interaction as the excess in anything in never good. Anonymity will only take you so far, for the rest of the road you need to go out and talk with friends (even friends from the online world, because it will be easier to connect with them when you know their interests and opinions), go interact, drink, party, etc.

Also, as you grow older, for example: after you're 20 years old, you should start owning up to your actions, opinions and ideas. You need to learn how to be responsible and show that you're willing to support the consequences of your words and actions.

This is why I'm not against employers checking the online activity (forums, blogs, Facebook, etc) of prospective employees. It a great judge of character, what you write when there are no apparent consequences. Sure, you may have been a dumb, naive kid, 5 years ago, but if you've shown no improvement since then, why would someone want to hire you?

You have to grow up, and you also have to start acting like one when in public, because no matter what you may think, your image is important, the "YOU" that other people see is sometimes more important than your diplomas. 

In the end, I leave you with a funny clip from "The Big Bang Theory". There are no advices that I can give you that will apply in every single situation, but the main idea is that anonymity is an useful tool, up to a point. After that, grow up and act up.

PS: for our Romanian readers this is a very good article about what to do after you get past your anonymity phase.

12 June, 2012

Top 10 iconic and amazing race tracks (V)

  And now, the last 2 tracks. I think that some of you might even know what tracks are going to win because both of them are tracks with immense history and reputation.


2. Circuit de la Sarthe (Le Mans)

Why did it make the list:
- exceptional history, with pilots ranging from the "Bentley Boys" to Mario Andretti and Bruce McLaren.
- home of the 24h of Le Mans, the world's oldest endurance race
Why it didn't score higher:
- not that popularized in the past years.
- there aren't that many races held here.

It's hard to find a video to represent the amazing history of Le Mans, but this should at least scratch the surface.

Also, this is a very interesting blog post about the history of Le Mans.

1. Circuit de Monaco

Why did it make the list:
- best known circuit in the world
- most demanding track in Formula 1 racing
Why it didn't score higher:
- not up to current safety standards of Formula 1.

There aren't enough words to describe the circuits, so I'll let a video, of the great driver Ayrton Senna around this track, do the talking.

Also, you can see below the table with the scores for each track (click to enlarge).

11 June, 2012

Top 10 iconic and amazing race tracks (IV)

Sorry for the long gap, but I forgot to sync my infographic data with my home computer, so everything I had made for these posts was on my desktop, at work.

4. Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca

Why did it make the list:
- great layout and skill based track + the "Corkscrew";
- my personal favorite track, all-time (this blog is not a Democracy, so it's a legitimate reason :D)
Why it didn't score higher:
- relatively new track;
- it mostly hosts minor world racing events.

Two videos are in order for this track, both of them featuring the best corner ever seen on a racing track.
The first one, from Moto GP, in a fight between Valentino Rossi and Casey Stoner, two of the best Moto GP riders of all time.

Sadly this video can only be watched on YouTube. Follow the link here.

Second video, from Alex Zanardi and Brian Herta, a maneuver that won Zanardi the third place in that year's Champ Car season.


3. Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps

Why did it make the list:
- historic and respected race track that has an emphasis on the skill and courage of the competitors;
- "Masta" and "Eau Rouge" corners are known as some of the hardest corners to negotiate.
Why it didn't score higher:
- has lost a bit in importance in the past years due to poor relations with the F1 boss, Bernie Ecclestone;
- there are still two more tracks that are a lot more famous than it.

A small video showing the speed of F1 cars in the Eau Rouge corner.

08 June, 2012

Top 10 iconic and amazing race tracks (III)

Part 3 is here with 2 more iconic tracks. From now on, the order of the tracks could've been either way, cause every single track left to announce here, is special. I'll be posting the leader-board with all the marks in the final post.


6.  Mount Panorama, Motor Racing Circuit Bathurst

Why did it make the list:
- uniquely laid out track, going around a mountain with a huge difference between it's highest and lowest point (174 meters)
- home of the historic "The Great Race", a fight between the 2 biggest car companies in Australia: GM and Ford.
- amazing cult following, with over 190.000 people that attended the 2006 Bathurst 1000.
Why it didn't score higher:
- impossibility of modifying it to the new safety standards, that would allow it to run more prestigious races, like F1.
- large number of people killed on the track and in the stands.

You can see how spectacular the race circuit is, even by watching a qualifying race. This one is from 1985, and it's made by Tom Walkinshaw (Rest In Peace), in a Jaguar XJS V12.

5.  Indianapolis Motor Speedway

Why did it make the list:
- historic track, being the first ever Speedway built in the USA(and in the world);
-ability to host the two most viewed motorsports in the world: Nascar and F1.
- enormous capacity, with 225.000 people present at the  2000 US Grand Prix
Why it didn't score higher:
- for most of the time since it's construction, it only held races that appeal to limited number of spectators
- not a very skill based track, with it being mostly based on endurance.

With this being said, the track still generates the highest amount of passion from all the race tracks, as you can see from the small tribute video below.

Hope you enjoyed it!

Eye candy

As you may have notices until now I am a big fan of rallying and especially of the Group B era. It's hard not to be taken aback by the passion and the speed generated by this short era, so why resist it? Here's an amazing video from the Pirelli P7 Corsa Classic demonstration/race/launch, in the Italian Alps.

 I'm willing to bet that the engineers at Pirelli made this tires (the P7 Corsa Classic, special tires for historic rally cars) just to get to have some fun with some of the most amazing rally cars ever:
- Fiat 131 Abarth;
- Lancia Stratos;
- Lancia 037;
- Lancia Delta S4;
- Lancia Delta HF Integrale;
- Lancia ECV (amazing one-off prototype, an evolution of the Delta HF model);
+ a late '90s Subaru and a Peugeot 207 IRC.

You can see all of them driven, in this video, by world class drivers: Markku Alen, Juha Kankkunen and Paolo Andreucci.

Enjoy the footage!
PS: just two small hints:
- superb outside shots from 7:21 to 7:44;
- very nicely taken corner at 9:04.

This was a small intermezzo, the Top 10 Race Tracks series will continue after this.

07 June, 2012

Top 10 iconic and amazing race tracks (II)

Like I promised you, here is part 2 of the Top 10 Tracks.

8.  Autodromo Nazionale Monza

Why did it make the list:
- very high speed circuit, that tests the pilots and the engineers;
- it's one of the oldest racecourses in Europe with enormous heritage and history.
Why it didn't score higher:
- the huge number of fatal accidents;
- it's a rather dated race circuit with a large number of safety problems.

This video describes Monza perfectly: very harsh on the engines and a very fast track(Curva Grande is a great example).


7.  Suzuka International Race Circuit

Why did it make the list:
- high skill required to be competitive on this circuit;
- one of the oldest remaining F1 circuits;
- a large number of F1 titles have been decided on this circuit
Why it didn't score higher:
- large number of fatal accidents;
- it's Japan Grand Prix hosting days seem to be over.

05 June, 2012

Top 10 iconic and amazing race tracks (I)

I've been thinking of writing this article for a long time and I finally got some time to think properly about it and make it interesting. The ranking is based on personal preference, track history and heritage, the passion is stirs in other people and driving skill required to be successful there.
I'll be starting the countdown from the 10th place to the first:

10.  Circuit Paul Ricard

Why did it make the list:
- it was one of the most advanced race tracks at the time of it's opening and it's still hi-tech now;
- the Mistral straight, where in 1987, F1 cars achieved speeds in excess of 320km/h;
Why it didn't score higher:
- it hasn't been used for important races in a while, but it's set to be the French Grand Prix organizer for 2013.

9.  Ebisu Circuit

Why did it make the list:
- it a premier circuit for a rather new and spectacular form of motorsport: drifting;
- one of the most entertaining and challenging corners in drifting:

Why it didn't score higher:
- relatively new circuit with almost no history;
- besides Drifting competitions it's only used for minor and local cart and motorcycle races.

This will be continued tomorrow and in the following days.
You'll also be able to find the links for the next parts, below.

21 May, 2012

The Secret World - or how to make money by screwing your fans

I've been playing during the past weekend, the amazing new game The Secret World. Although it was only the second beta weekend it still offers a polished feel, that you rarely get from unfinished games.
The story is amazing and captivating, from the start, and it's a fresh breath of air with all those fantasy-based MMOs.
It's set in the near dystopian future, where 3 "societies" fight for the power to decide the future of humanity. This, if they can actually manage to fight away the dark forces that threaten the Earth.
The societies are:
- the "reborn" Templars:
- the greedy Illuminati:
- the secretous Dragon:
The beta only offered the Templars, as your faction, but the story felt tied together, with proper narrative and I didn't actually feel any regret that I couldn't try the other factions.
The game is a mixture of Silent Hill, Grand Theft Auto and Resident Evil, taking the best in these games, adding an amazing plotline to the atmosphere, gameplay and progression of the game.  You're less troubled about grinding and leveling up, because you want to follow the story and see where it gets you.
Now, my biggest problem with the game:


It doesn't make any sense from a creative point of view  to make this a MMO. It would make a perfectly fine single-player game franchise, with all the possibilities it you have to expand the story in other regions (you only visit 3 major locations in the game: New England, Egypt and Transylvania). By making it a MMO you lose the crowd that would play the game sporadically and you also miss the console owners. Sure it may get you more money in the short to medium term, but as a MMO it would be too hard to expand it after the first installment and there are lower chances of the sequel to be successful
But, apparently this is the way EA wants to go, having also published another game that would be a lot better as a single player game: Star Wars: The Old Republic. I know a lot of people that bought it just to play through the quest line, and then left. So, game developers and publishers, stop making so many mediocre MMOs when you can fit the same storyline in a great Single-Player game. Or at least take the path of Diablo and provide Co-Op modes if you want to ensure re-playability. GET IT RIGHT!

24 April, 2012

Romania: The India of Europe

Short introduction:
Romania is known as country with a high degree of knowledge in the IT departments.
From hackers to people that scam eBay buyers, from Microsoft, Apple and Google employees to important Romanian companies everyone recognized us.

But now, it all started going on a downward slope. The call center businesses that used to be outsourced in India, started being outsourced in Romania as well. Not the proudest part of the business but you can still make a honest living.

But yesterday I got the worst IT related job offer I've ever seen: being a gold farmer.
Link is here: http://www.ejobs.ro/user/locuri-de-munca/515580
Perfect candidate:
We're looking for professional gamers who want to make money from the game testing/gold farming activity.
Work place is in Bucharest.

Requirements: - English language, intermediate level;
- at least one year of experience in online games (optional Xfire account )
- age between 18 and 30
- game experience with at least one game developed by Blizzard(from the series World of Warcraft, Starcraft, Diablo, Warcraft)
- testing on a similar game.

For more details and direct job applications: service@diablo3charms.eu
 This is rock bottom. You cannot go any lower. But still 125 people applied for this job.
Would you apply for a similar job?

03 April, 2012


lifehack (plural lifehacks)
  1. any process or technique that reduces the chaos in one's life and makes it easier to manage, or more convenient
So this is what a lifehack is, a small trick that can improve your life.
Here are a few recent ones that I ran across, with small explanations for each of them.

  •  Why you will fail to have a great career? 

A very, very good TED Talk about how to manage your own expectations, how to manage your career and how not to blame someone else when/if you fail. The speaker is Larry Smith, an Economic professor at the University of Waterloo in Canada.

  • How to buy a new car?
Simple and effective. It may not seem like a lot but it will make a lot of difference when buying a new car. Also, it won't work in every single part of the world as this dealer system is mostly found in the US. The speaker is Bruce Bueno de Mesquita, Professor of Politics at the New York University.
More info on him and the transcript of the talk, here.

  • Stop basing everything on stories

Stop thinking in stories. Learn how to get the essential information out of stories and stop being influenced by the bulk of crap, padded in every story fed to you. Presented by Tyler Cowen, a professor of economics at George Mason University.


02 April, 2012

What happened to all the nice guys?

Just read it:

I see this question posted with some regularity in the personals section, so I thought I'd take a minute to explain things to the ladies out there that haven't figured it out.

What happened to all the nice guys?

The answer is simple: you did.

See, if you think back, really hard, you might vaguely remember a Platonic guy pal who always seemed to want to spend time with you. He'd tag along with you when you went shopping, stop by your place for a movie when you were lonely but didn't feel like going out, or even sit there and hold you while you sobbed and told him about how horribly the (other) guy that you were fucking treated you.

At the time, you probably joked with your girlfriends about how he was a little puppy dog, always following you around, trying to do things to get you to pay attention to him. They probably teased you because they thought he had a crush on you. Given that his behavior was, admittedly, a little pathetic, you vehemently denied having any romantic feelings for him, and buttressed your position by claiming that you were "just friends." Besides, he totally wasn't your type. I mean, he was a little too short, or too bald, or too fat, or too poor, or didn't know how to dress himself, or basically be or do any of the things that your tall, good-looking, fit, rich, stylish boyfriend at the time pulled off with such ease.

Eventually, your Platonic buddy drifted away, as your relationship with the boyfriend got more serious and spending time with this other guy was, admittedly, a little weird, if you werent dating him. More time passed, and the boyfriend eventually cheated on you, or became boring, or you realized that the things that attracted you to him weren't the kinds of things that make for a good, long-term relationship. So, now, you're single again, and after having tried the bar scene for several months having only encountered players and douche bags, you wonder, "What happened to all the nice guys?"

Well, once again, you did.

You ignored the nice guy. You used him for emotional intimacy without reciprocating, in kind, with physical intimacy. You laughed at his consideration and resented his devotion. You valued the aloof boyfriend more than the attentive "just-a-" friend. Eventually, he took the hint and moved on with his life. He probably came to realize, one day, that women aren't really attracted to guys who hold doors open; or make dinners just because; or buy you a Christmas gift that you mentioned, in passing, that you really wanted five months ago; or listen when you're upset; or hold you when you cry. He came to realize that, if he wanted a woman like you, he'd have to act more like the boyfriend that you had. He probably cleaned up his look, started making some money, and generally acted like more of an asshole than he ever wanted to be.

Fact is, now, he's probably getting laid, and in a way, your ultimate rejection of him is to thank for that. And I'm sorry that it took the complete absence of "nice guys" in your life for you to realize that you missed them and wanted them. Most women will only have a handful of nice guys stumble into their lives, if that.

So, if you're looking for a nice guy, here's what you do:

1.) Build a time machine.
2.) Go back a few years and pull your head out of your ass.
3.) Take a look at what's right in front of you and grab a hold of it.

I suppose the other possibility is that you STILL don't really want a nice guy, but you feel the social pressure to at least appear to have matured beyond your infantile taste in men. In which case, you might be in luck, because the nice guy you claim to want has, in reality, shed his nice guy mantle and is out there looking to unleash his cynicism and resentment onto someone just like you.

If you were five years younger.

So, please: either stop misrepresenting what you want, or own up to the fact that you've fucked yourself over. You're getting older, after all. It's time to excise the bullshit and deal with reality. You didn't want a nice guy then, and he certainly doesn't fucking want you, now.


A Recovering Nice Guy
 via zerostiri.ro and craiglist.

22 March, 2012

Computer people: Movies vs Real Life

There is this thing that has been bugging me for the past years.
We all like watching movies about hackers, forensic science movies and TV series. But the thing is: every single one of them portrays us, "computer people", differently from what we are and what we do.
Let's take one of the most popular TV series, CSI, and see how much they are wrong.

So to get this straight, they are creating a GUI interface using Visual Basic to track an IP.
Now let's explain the terms for people that are less compute-literate:
- GUI = Graphical User Interface, which is pretty much whatever you see in an application: the design, the windows, etc.
- Visual Basic = a widely used programming language, from Microsoft.
- IP = Internet Protocol address, which is a numerical label attached to all computers in a network that is pretty much used for addressing and identifying a computer.

Sure, you can make an application in Visual Basic, that uses a GUI, and can track an IP. but you can do the same thing from the console using the PING command, which is pretty much what every "computer person" that knows what an IP is, will do.\

Now, analyzing the sentence, we firstly see evidence of RAS Syndrome ( Redundant Acronym Syndrome Syndrome :P) when they use "GUI interface" because the acronym GUI actually contains Interface.
The whole sentence is also a malapropism and it made every single person that knows a bit more about computers, laugh their ass off when they saw the scene.
A very good metaphor for it would be: "I will write a letter using a crayon so I can order a pizza". Sure you can do it, but does it make any sense to you? No? Exactly. The original sentence makes the same amount of sense to us as well.

Other movies doing the same kind of errors would be:
- Independence Day:   using an old Mac to hack into an alien mothership and infect it with a virus is so out of the ballpark I won't even discuss it. Although, it was a really cool story for how aberrant in was. You can read a very good article about it, here.
- Die Hard: with a very good 3-panel comic from Penny Arcade

Also, two more funny comics about hacking in movies:
First one from XKCD:
 and the second one from SMBC:
And one last question I have: if we see problems like these in all computer related scenes, I wonder how doctors look at House M.D, Royal Pains or even E.R., how lawyers look at Boston Legal, Suits and Law & Order. Any doctor or lawyer care to enlighten us?

16 March, 2012

Copyright mathematics

Keeping in time with all the recent proposed copyright laws( SOPA and ACTA), you have here a funny and interesting take on "copyright mathematics".


It show how much the MPAA/RIAA make up the numbers they show the public, like money and jobs lost. Some of them are actually ridiculous, like having lost 373.000 jobs in the media industry, when they didn't have more than 300.000 jobs in 1998.

Now my take on piracy. I do not agree with it, because people work hard for their creations and deserve being rewarded for that. But not under the terms of the media industry(publishers, record labels, etc). What we do want, is an up-to-date distribution system, with free previews, like it happens in the other types of sales, and a little more respect (stop limiting content to a few regions in the world).

It's the information  era, it's really easy to pay over the internet for stuff, wherever you are, so act up and offer better services if you want to receive our money. iTunes is a really nice step forward, but it's still region limited due to the restrictions imposed by the record labels and it could do with some improvements.

I used to pirate stuff (and to be honest I still pirate TV series, just because we can't get from the Netflix where I live and we get them month and sometimes years after they are first on TV) but I started buying pretty much everything I use: games, music and even movies. The are a lot easier to buy, with the help of Gamersgate, Steam, Origin, iTunes, Zonga, Beatport and pretty much every retail company that offers movie DVDs. 

15 March, 2012

A few short gaming news

1. The official release date for Diablo 3 was announced today, and it's gonna be in 2 months, on the 15th of May. Also pre-orders are opened now on Blizzard's website for 59.99 / 59.99$.
There will also be a retail-exclusive Collector's Edition, packaged with the full game, a behind-the-scenes Blu-ray/DVD set, a soundtrack CD, an art book, and full copies of Diablo II and its expansion pack, for $100( or for us "rich" europeans).
I, being the epitome of impulse buys,  just got it earlier.

 2. Rift are having a new offer for the 1 year subscription: $99 or 79 €, which is actually a very large reduction in price (49% from the month-to-month one). It's a really good buy because judging by the last year, they offer the proper updates and expansions a AAA MMORPG deserves. 
Check out the main content for their next patch (1.8) and judge by yourself if it's worth it or not. 

They also have a lite version of the game, if you just want to try it out. Sign-up here (with a referrer link from me).

3. Finally an exciting mainstream development in cloud computing: http://www.gaikai.com
They offer Java streaming of normal PC games, in your browser, on Mac, Windows, Android, iOS, etc. Sounds like a very good idea and it might start the trend towards more cloud computing in the consumer market.And it also has the potential to make the Chrome-books as a viable lightweight, cheap gaming system. 
Didn't manage to test it yet, as it seems that my work internet connection isn't good enough, but I'll add some updates as soon as I get home and run a few games in the cloud.

Sources: Rift website, Joystiq.

14 March, 2012

Dacia - an example to be followed

If it was before 2000 and I wouldn't have been writing this article. Why?
Because Dacia was in one of the worst situations a car maker can be:
- no financial backing;
- antiquated production facility;
- a lack of proper and modern cars.

Surely, this should have been the end. But this didn't happen, because Renault bought the company and they started investing heavily in it.
 But this is not special in any way. The special part came after that, in the form of marketing campaigns.
My studies are not at all related to marketing or economics, but it doesn't take a MBA to see how effective the strategy was.
Firstly, they started the hype when they announced the Logan. A new and relatively modern car for less than 6000 euros was not heard of before this.
It stirred the waters in the automotive industry and this was the first step towards proper brand awareness and recognition.  
Next, they went on and capitalized on the new platform and car, by making the Logan MCV, Logan Van and the Logan Pick-up, all of them using the same philosophy: cheap and modern car.
When they wanted to launch the next car, they made a really inspired ad campaign on the most watched car show in the world: Top Gear. I'm sure every single Top Gear fan remembers the "Great News" gags.

These are not the only marketing campaigns that they started:
- the Logan Cup series (a Dacia Logan only rally competition) which also ran a round on Bucharest Ring during the FIA GT racing weekend.
- raced the Dacia Duster and Lodgy Glace in the Andros Trophy (a winter rally racing series)
- raced the Dacia Duster "No Limit" in the famous Pikes Peak Hill Climb (finishing 3rd after Tajima's Monster and Rhys Millen)
 And the result of all this?

Dacia is in the top 10 best selling cars in a lot of important markets:
- Russia (Logan - 6th in February 2012 )
- Romania (Logan - 1st, Duster - 2nd in February 2012)
- Brazil (Sandero - 10th in February 2012)
Good ranking in most european markets as well, with the Duster and the Logan consistently in the top 50, with large increases compared to January.
Also very good results in 2011:
26th : Duster - 141,961 units
64th : Sandero - 71,646 units
89th : Logan - 48,553 units
This amounts to 262,160 cars sold only in Europe (~343,000 worldwide), more than the total sales in every year until to 2009.
Also, only 5,000 units decrease(348,723 units sold in 2010, worldwide) in sales during 2011 is a great performance, considering the whole financial situation of the world.
We're looking forward to see what the new Dacia Logan will look like(as this is the logically, then next car to be revealed by them) and how will the new Lodgy will perform in 2012.

13 March, 2012

Self improvement

No, I'm not talking about crappy not-even-worth-the-paper-they're-printed-on books.
A few days ago, I've stumbled upon a very interesting post here. It's about what advice you would give to a 10 year older self.
I realize that it won't apply to everyone, but from my point of view, we have some important life tips over here.

Here are my top 3 picks. If you go with them, you'll be more than fine in your life (provided that you don't go crazy before ).
#10 – For the most part, what others think doesn’t matter.
This is, in my opinion, by far the most important. You cannot live your life expecting to make everyone happy. It cannot be done. Better people have tried it and they failed. 
You need to set your priorities straight in life,  what do you want to do, who do you want to spend the rest of your life with, etc, and then you can know who's opinion really matters. Life is not a closed circle. People enter and exit your affection zone, so try not to waste your attention on those that don't deserve it.
And as long as you're happy with yourself, you are on the right road.

#8 – Nobody knows what you’re thinking unless you tell them.
Communication. Really, really, really important. You need a raise, you have problems in your relationship, you have a huge crush on really pretty lady?  Then go talk to them - your boss, your girlfriend, your crush, whoever -.  Keeping it to yourself won't help at all. Nobody can read minds, no matter how much they advertise it. :P

#4 – Invest in yourself.
The best investment there is. Learn a new programming language, learn a new skill, learn a foreign language, etc. It will prove it's worth in the long run. New skills are always marketable, whether you're looking for a job or a girlfriend.
Advantages in job hunting:  
- the immediately visible one: the more skills you have, the more chances of finding a job you get.
- shows the employer that you can learn new things and that you're open to discover new things
- makes you less expendable if you can do more than one thing in the company. Versatility is and will always be a plus. 

The rest are also important, and I recommend you to read it all on the original post.

05 March, 2012

An interesting take on mobile app quality

I've found this interesting infographic in a recent newsletter from uTest(a software testing service website - pretty much the "go to" place for independent testers or small startups in need of testing for their apps) and I thought I could try to discuss it and explain the part where there are discrepancies between the two mobile operating systems.

 Let's start with the beginning: 
  • The number of apps crawled is not that relevant as long as the number is large enough so there is no reason to talk about it.
  • I'm not so sure about that small number of comments for the iPhone Apps, but then again, the Apple App Store is built differently from the Android Market: 
1. It's different for every country so the number of reviews on the app store is only determined by the store that was crawled by the bot (most likely the US store). On Android Market the comments and apps are the same for all countries.
2. Default view on Apple App Store is "Reviews on the last version" while the default for Android is "Reviews for all versions."
  •  Average rating is similar for both stores so no real surprise here.
  • Average price is higher on App Store. Why?  The registration fee for Android Market is 4 times smaller than the one for Apple Developer Program. The price tiers are fixed on the App Store while on the Android Market they are way more flexible. And on top of that, it's a decision made by each publisher. They seem to think that an iOS user pays more for an application and apparently, they are correct. 
  • Max price is irrelevant. 

Now, let's analyze some of the app categories that show discrepancies between platforms:
 Games: this is by far the biggest discrepancy. More than half a point is a lot. Why is this?
Well... it's hard to say but in my opinion the fragmentation of Android is the most important factor. I've low rating from users because their phones are not supported by the apps, because the apps are not that well implemented for their phones/tablets. It's a lot harder to make an app that works on most Android devices than it is to make one for all iOS devices (simply because there are more of them).

Health & Medical: small  advantage for iOS, but I think it can be explained by the fact that iOS users are more health conscious (it's widespread knowledge that Android appeals to the more than average technical user and iOS to people with above average income), and the apps are more easily made on iOS to suit them.

Navigation: medium advantage for Android here, most likely due to the increased screen size (which makes navigation apps a lot more useful), the larger number of devices with GPS (iPads, for example, do not have a GPS module).

 Weather & Tools: Medium to large advantage for Android. I'm going to add these both in the same category because the underlying  cause is the same here: iOS is a closed system, compared to Android.   iOS developers have less access (mostly none)  to system information, settings, etc than Android users. For tools, it's hard to make an useful tool for iOS (most of the ones from the App Store are battery charge estimators), when you don't have access to modify or even read system settings. For weather apps, the lack of widget capability is clearly a drawback for iOS, as weather apps aren't apps an user wants to click, open and close. They want a widget, similar to the HTC Sense one, that shows the weather at a glance.

Going on to the last part of the infographic and probably the most interesting one for developers:

Install problems: Here, the Andoid fragmentation shows it's ugly head again. With so many different devices and Android OEM mods (like Sense, Motoblur and the rest) a lot of issues slip through the cracks, leading to installation problems.

Pricing: as it seems, the most important complaint on iOS. Can't say I disagree with it, though, if we compare the prices on iOS and Android with prices on handheld game consoles(like the PS Vita or the Nintendo 3Ds), there shouldn't be so many reasons to complain about the price. I admit, there are publishers with ridiculous prices on their apps (like Square Enix for example), but the most bought apps and games the the $0.99 ones. 

Performance: Same issue again, fragmentation. The quality of hardware and software modifications on Android devices is appalling, if you go out of the normal range of Android sellers: Samsung, Motorola, HTC, LG and even Sony.  Variations in GPU's, in CPU's, in SD Card quality... all of this makes it hard for a developer to optimize.

Crashes and hangs: Same, same issue. I'm gonna stop talking about fragmentation and start looking at some of the numbers from iOS. What might make some people wander is the really small amount of  "hang" issues, but in fact, it's relatively easy. This is how the iOS is built. It's built not to have apps hang. It has relatively low timeouts, closing the apps when they stop responding for a fair amount of  time. It's harder for the users to spot these hangs and it has a proper reason for this: making the system look more fluid. Every iOS users that I've talked to made this as the deciding factor when they bought their device:  the smoothness of the system.

UI Controls: Here, the screen size for the Apple devices (let's exclude tablets from this discussion) is a drawback. It's harder to design the UI and the controls to match a smaller screen, than it is to design them for a Xperia Play or a Galaxy S II.

Security and privacy: This mostly to the perception of the users, and it's not relevant as both systems have had and will have problems with security and privacy. See Carrier IQ, Android Malware, iPad 2 Smart Cover hack, etc.

Thank you very much for taking the time to read this and thanks to uTest for this really interesting graphic.

24 February, 2012

Give us football

We don't want a Champions League winning team.
We don't want a Liga I Bergenbier winning team.

We just want a football team. One that creates dreams, that makes us suffer, exult, have a heart attack, hug the people around us, all in a single game.
We just want to sing, to jump, to shout, everything for our team and colors (blue and white, bianco azzurri, alb-albastru ).
 In fact, we don't want this. We need it.
We are mad. Mad about football.

We want to go home after games, on foot, singing and shouting, waving flags, after a measly 1-0 win against the last team in the league.
We want to celebrate. Our team. Football. The supporters. Everything.
We are better people with football, we are more passionate, more considerate, more loving, all thanks to having a team to support and to the beauty of football.  

I don't know who's fault it for the lack of football in Craiova: the owner's, the federation's, the league's... We don't care and it doesn't matter.


23 February, 2012

A loving letter

Dear RS200,

I'm sorry to tell you, but you were not Ford's best rally car. The Mk 2 Escort is so, so much deserving of our passion. The little sedan, with a short and narrow wheelbase and a soft suspension, is the stuff rally dreams are made of. It's like a Mini with a trunk/boot.

The way it corners, it sways around, the way it over-steers, the swaying motion of the suspension in corner... it shows flow, passion, life.

Just look at it through an S-curve... it's like a woman's hips walking towards you. Pure, unadulterated mechanical sound and moves. You cannot beat that. Sure, you are one of the most technically advanced Group B rally car, but that doesn't mean a thing. The coldness of the 4x4 system, the lack of body roll, the absurd numbers(speed, power, torque, acceleration) are all nice, but when it's all done, you don't see the heart in there.

It's like a lingerie model. Sure, she looks very pretty and many dream of her, but wouldn't you rather go home to the love of your life, that little, imperfect for others but perfect for you, wife of yours?

A very, very happy fan,
PS: Don't be sad, we still love you for what you are.

Below, a lovely video of Group B rally cars, filmed 5 days ago, in Belgium, via Jalopnik.