Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Learn and Share -

"Learn at least one useful/interesting/awesome thing - per week - and share it."

Raine found the "learn and share" idea to be interesting and - at her suggestion - we decided to write on Tuesdays :).
So, stay tuned for some constant sharing of learned things.
Here is their blog (Raine,Manuel and Emeline):
We're using the "learn and share" tag, so it's easy to check the previous posts on this matter.

Motivational wallpaper.

This is my new wallpaper:

Three more to come in the following days, when I'll have enough time to prepare the quotes.
By the way, these are all from Napoleon Hill's work. Do you have any suggestions for some other "magical" quotes or authors to search them by?

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Learn and Share - Weekly Sum Up.

Well well.., the previous week has been a busy one for me.
Because I had some medical issues, I couldn't go to work; but the time was used productively to learn some new stuff about the business environment.
I haven't yet reached the point where I can easily synthesize or create my own ideas, so we'll have to postpone this subject until my knowledge matures.

Still, there are a few basic things that can be shared at this point:
It becomes obvious from the first attempt to enter the business environment, that one needs to have (or to acquire) the followings:
- up to date information about trends, people needs and current implemented solutions;
- connectors: people that can easily introduce you to other people already activating in this medium;
- people skill and initiative in talking to others, proactive/positive/constructive attitude;
- reputation: this should be the first one on the list for an entrepreneur; but for those that are just starting, reputation is one of the major goals. This will help you to get closer to angel investors and VC.
- and...almost everyone says that it's prefferable to visit Silicon Valley :) ..before starting a serious online business.

Switching to other topics:
- There's a different approach to making presentations: (maybe it's already old news for some, but I've just discovered it).
I played a bit and made my first presentation here: (check other ones for some clear insights about the potential of this tool).
You control the animation with the arrows, and you can also zoom in with them - to show/see details.
It's quite refreshing after so many years with power point and slides.

- Picasa desktop application. At first, I found it annoyingly different than what I was used to, but different is good especially when it is customizable to some degree.
It's a great tool for organizing your pictures, easily uploading them to picasa web albums, making collages, adding tags, identifying and organizing by people inside the pictures (face recognition).

- Books for personal development.
This area is widely covered by many other sites, but a vast majority recommends books that have very similar topics or the same information iterated differently.
I have found an old book that breaks the rules and feeds you information rather than telling you what to do and how to act: "Think and grow rich" by Napoleon Hill.
I'm not praising books too easy, but this is that good and different.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Closing a chapter.

As of today it's official that I'll give up motorcycling....for a while :).

"Suzi" is up for sale and kept parked until a new owner is found.
I'm not that happy with this particular decision, but I believe it's better this way. It's common for people to care less about the object that is being sold, as they don't perceive it to be theirs anymore. So, I wish to transmit exactly the opposite and I also want the buyer to have it in perfect conditions.

One year and half of pure passion, adrenaline, risks.....and a farewell with mixed feelings.
I was amazed to discover that Andra also shared my second thoughts :); it seems she enjoyed riding the motorcycle more than I imagined.
Beside just riding Suzi, we'll probably miss meeting new motorcyclists, getting out of town with people sharing the same hobby, taking risks and enjoying the adrenaline rush felt every single the speed increased rapidly; when leaning in corners, or when hitting the brakes in case of emergency.. Ok..I should stop now before I change my mind about selling the bike :).

I would like to take some time and mention a few people here, people that we enjoyed meeting and we'd love keeping in touch with:
- Andu and Iona: the first couple we went out with on a motorcycle trip. And not just anywhere, but in the neighboring country Bulgaria. Also, Andu took good care of my motorcycle, as I had ZERO technical knowledge in the beginning. Most of the maintenance we done together served as a lesson for me as well, so I'm still in debt to this guy :D.
- Mihai and Flori: Mihai was the one that kept us united through weekly meetings.
Funny dude.., you never know when he's joking or being serious. Flori is going to be a mom soon! I'm still having a hard time imagining Mihai as a dad, but I'm sure Flori will teach him that :).
- Cata(nk155), Paul(kassu), Marius(mdvd), Mihnea, Andrei & Alina, Fane - we had some really nice trips together; especially the one in Bulgaria where some of us got lost and drove 100km towards Turkey :D.

Well, the decision to buy a motorcycle was a darn good one, despite the risks. It was actually an investment, as we received back quite a lot: friends, knowledge and good times.
But, it was also costly - and not just money - but in terms of time, because I spent a lot of it with learning about motorcycling, maintenance and troubleshooting. Also it was costly for the other hobbies, as I hardly found any time for guitar, photography and reading. I'm not even going to talk about the entrepreneurship learning process which was postponed for quite a while.
So, after one year and a half I decided that it was enough and a break would be really really useful.
It's time to move on and focus on other stuff. We're actually looking forward to the new adventures :)


Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Problems equal Opportunities.

Probably one of the hardest thing to do, when faced with a serious problem, is to detach and see it as an opportunity.
In theory it sounds great and I though exactly the same, every single time some book suggested it to me.
Putting it in practice is a totally different thing.., "practice" being the key word here.

Seeing opportunities in some of the less likely productive situations, requires a certain degree of self control and a bit of creativity.
Because the first reactions to problems are quite the opposite to the purpose we're setting here, it's important to learn to stay cool and avoid panicking. Panic is so deep coded in us - being a perfectly natural reaction - that this is our first obstacle to learn to avoid. It's useful to remember that in the modern life, panic doesn't help in most cases and there aren't many situations where this primitive instinct can become in handy.

Next stop is the solution finding process.
It's a semi-obstacle because if we get to this point, it means we partially or entirely overcame panic. The problem is that we're instinctively searching for the immediate solutions, the easiest way out and not necessarily long term ones. So, many times we choose the first applicable solution which comes to our mind, instead of giving it a bit more though, to make sure it is also the best one out there.
Lousy solutions are generated at this point..
How many times have you blamed yourself with: "oh, I should have said that, or do that instead of..."
Why is that?
The answer it's the same one you probably told yourself, time and time again: "I rushed/jumped instead of thinking it through".

Next time when you're in a difficult situation, remember to stay cool, think twice and act only after that.

Getting back to problems=opportunities: instead of focusing on solutions and quick fixes, why not think about how you can turn everything around in your favor?
Or, after applying a good solution, go over the contempt feeling and take your time to analyze what you've learned from the whole experience.
Don't forget that every problematic situation is an opportunity to learn something new, or do things differently - in a creative manner.

As usual, I learned all these after making a mistake one time too many, and only then realizing what could have been done differently.
The last problematic situation though, had a totally different outcome thanks to some practicing.
It wasn't perfect, but it won't take long until all will come from reflex.

3xCouchsurfing; 1xPhotography

A while back when there were no couchsurfing requests for more than one month, we got a bit puzzled and worried that it may take some time until we can meet new couchsurfers.
Soon after that it started raining with requests, so many that we couldn't accommodate all of them.

This week we had Gaelle and Samuel from France, Amanda and Robert from US (..actually from Romania as they want to establish here) and Garrett from US.
It was really great; we got to see the whole Herestrau park with Gaelle and Sam.
Unforgettable experience, since we circled the huge lake for more than two hours. This was kind of a unique experience since we hadn't done it ourselves before, and we certainly won't do it again any time soon :)
As usual, I had the camera with me and took some pictures.

In the evenings, we all raced in the Dominion game:

On Saturday, Amanda and Robert joined us for a picnic organized by one of Andra's colleagues - Razvan - who celebrated his birthday.
If we ignore the sunburns and the muscular pains from football :), it was really nice, the weather was almost perfect, plenty of food, drinks and games.
Robert and Amanda played football quite good; we didn't stand a chance against their team.

Right now we have Garrett from US with us, and tonight we're preparing to race in a board game. There's a bet involved, so wish me luck :).

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Learn and Share - Rip-off in the health sector.

I have this annoying allergy which causes powerful eye itches and - as a treatment - the doctor prescribed me a quite expensive drug; ..useful, but way too expensive. This is when I became inquisitive regarding the pharmaceutical sector.
It didn't take long to discover that it behaves just like any other industry with the money being the driven factor. I'm sure this industry has its own angels and demons, but it seems I stumbled upon the latter.
The drug I was prescribed is made of only one ingredient, present in a certain amount. A simple internet search revealed that there were other similar pills, with the exact ingredients and dosage, BUT a lot cheaper: 2 euros vs 11 euros - for the same amount (a huge difference since I have to take these pills regularly).

Considering we live in a money based society, this fact shouldn't have surprised me.
What is surprising and worrying is that doctors prescribe such expensive drugs, when they should know better. Many old people buy what the doctors tell them and they don't have the same resources to dig for the truth or search for better alternatives.
Not all doctors are like that though, in one occasion, one of them actually mentioned to me to avoid certain expensive pill widely suggested by the pharmacist (which, like any seller is interested in profit). But that happened only once..

There should be some regulations in place and a well developed public awareness, in order to avoid being ripped off when it comes down to our health.
From my understanding, drug companies sometimes offer bonuses to doctors in order to influence them to prescribe their own products. This is wrong; there must be a limit to human greediness and we shouldn't try to benefit from the others' illnesses. There are better, more honest ways of making money.


Sunday, April 11, 2010

Close-up, Macro and SuperMacro (50mm; 55-200mm)

Sunday afternoon in Cismigiu park, with the D80 and 55-200mm lens - which I haven't used for almost a year; too bad... it does take some really nice wildlife/macro pictures.
Because of the lack of light (overcast sky), I had to make a compromise and increase the ISO to 800; so, most pictures have a noticeable amount of noise.
On the other hand, I noticed that not all of them required such high ISO, as quite a few got overexposed. Also, I had to post process most and decrease brightness / increase contrast. Next time I'll try to use more suitable settings.
Slowly, but surely I'm getting closer to using Manual mode, because automatic modes always seem to screw things up.

Last week I bought a lightweight tripod for the one month traveling.
Using as an excuse the need to test it, I spent an entire evening with experiments (50mm reversed with the help of the inversion ring):