Life it’s what happens while you’re waiting for it

Manifest #colectiv

Tristete si furie, impletite ca intr-o hora, traite la unison de atatea suflete. Tristete ca prietenii  nostri sau prietenii prietenilor nostri, oameni tineri si talentati, cu toata viata inainte,  nu mai sunt intre noi sau au vietile schimbate pentru totdeauna.

Cateva saptamani nu am putut functiona. Am simtit nevoia sa ma vad cu toti oamenii care imi sunt dragi, sa stam la o poveste impreuna, sa bem un pahar de vin, sa impartasim caldura umana. Cu totii am simtit ca oricine dintre noi putea sa fie in #colectiv, un zar divin a facut alegerea.

A fost o mare maturizare, o constiientizare la nivel de popor a razboiului dintre noi si ei. Cu sange si multe victime. Zilnice. Cand parintii merg la urgenta la spital, si nu pot fi tratati pt ca aparatul cel scump cumparat de la cine trebuie nu functioneaza. Cand oameni isi pierd viata pt ca niste retardati merg cu 120 km la ora noaptea prin oras. Sau cand taxiurile nu stau pe loc la culoarea rosie a semaforului.  Cand copii  primesc medicamente la care sunt alergici.  Cand ne ingramadim pe sosele supraaglomerate pentru ca autostrazile nu sunt gata. Cand ne sufocam de seceta si poluare deoarece padurile au fost taiate la ras fara mila. Lista e fara sfarsit. Si acum nimeni nu e tras la raspundere.

Acum ne-am dat seama ca nu mai putem fi martori pasivi. Pentru ca asta inseamna moartea noastra lenta. Si inseamna o condamnare la moarte pentru parintii, fratii, copii, prietenii nostri. Ruperea dintre noi si sistem a fost constientizata ca un razboi in toata regula. Si #colectiv a fost o mare batalie.

Scuzele noastre zilnice le stim atat de bine: nu vreau sa aud de politica, e o mizerie, nu vreau sa imi stric pretioasele lucruri frumoase din viata mea cu asta. Sau “nu putem schimba nimic, sistemul e prea puternic”.  Insa acum suntem adulti si stim ca asa nu se mai poate. Sistemul trebuie invins. Este singurul mod prin care putem da sens tragediei din #colectiv. Un sens pe care il datoram oamenilor care si-au pierdut viata.

Este si momentul sa preluam toate emotiile, sa nu ne lasam coplesiti de ele, ci si sa le folosim ca si energie pentru partea noastra lucida si rationala. E momentul sa ne folosim mintea.

Pt ca sistemul trebuie invins prin ORICE mijloace, atata timp cat sunt legale. Aceasta include si a inventa cai de aducere in legalitate, asa cum Partidul Pirat a obtinut dreptul de inregistrare a unui partid politic cu doar 3 membrii.

Insa vorba unui prieten informatician, daca vrei sa spargi o pagina web, nu tre neaparat sa spargi serverul de web. Orice alta vulnerabilitate este la fel de buna, atata timp cat obiectivul final este atins. Inclusiv una care nu a mai fost folosita niciodata pana acum. Astea sunt si cele mai frumoase, ca ii invingi si nici nu inteleg ce i-a invins.

Suntem tineri, creativi, motivati, si intelegem lumea cea noua, intelegem tehnologia. Suntem multi. Eu in locul lor acum as tremura de frica. Nici macar la final nu vor intelege. Si nici nu ne va pasa ce gandesc ei, vom fi multumiti sa redevenim stapanii lumii noastre.

Fiecare dintre noi poate duce lupta altfel, si fiecare isi poate aduce propria contributie. Aici sta si puterea noastra. Nu trebuie toti sa ne facem partid politic sau sa fim candidati. Putem sa facem voluntariat pentru un partid politic nou si integru. Putem sa fim observatori in sectiile de vot, sa fim siguri ca alegerile sunt corecte.

Dar putem sa luptam cu alte arme, nu neaparat politice. Putem sa cantam, sa cream comedie, sa fotografiem, sa sculptam, sa scriem, sa distribuim idei, sa conectam oameni. Putem sa invatam. Putem sa ii lasam fara obiectul muncii, fara ciolan (tehnologia ne va fi de ajutor). Putem sa nu mai fim pasivi, sa deschidem procese, sa ne informam. Putem sa avem initiative. Putem sa protestam in strada cu consecventa, pentru orice nu ne convine. Putem sa facem documentare. Putem sa cultivam competenta si integritatea.  Putem sa ne organizam.  Putem sa ne schimbam.  Putem sa ne incurajam. Si putem sa ne inventam propriile noastre arme.

La lupta!



















Sleep and biorhythm tricks

One winter I stayed so much in the house, that I could not go to sleep any more, my biorhythm was completely off. My luck,  I had the time to make my own research and experiments. In case you want to try (with no warranties), here are my “workarounds” for a good night sleep:

Step 1

Making sure the body knows when the day starts

According to recent studies we need to expose in the morning for 15 minutes to light of 1500 lux. The trick: there are 1500 lux outside, even if cloudy, but not so often in the house. My shortcut: taking breakfast on the balcony, or going for a short walk early in the morning. A lux meter app on the smart phone is useful to check the light intensity.

Some cold face on the face and hands may help to amplify the morning cortisol spike.

Scheduling cardio exercise in the morning also is a good sign we send to our body the day has started ;)

Never tried, but Philips blue light lamp for the mornings seems an excellent idea.

Also it seems that exposure to outdoor light during the day improves the production of  melatonin in the night.

Step 2

Making sure the body knows when the day ends

After a normal day ends it helps not to expose yourself to blue light, which is specific for daytime. To do so:

- use warm light bulbs in the house (approx 2700 Kelvin). I prefer halogens, the color spectrum has higher quality than the economical light bulbs.

- i installed f.lux on my laptop, it makes my screen orange after sunset. I installed a similar app on my smart phone and tablet.

- I do not use a computer screen to watch movies, I project them on a wall, like in cinema.  TV screens have too much blue light, it does not help watching TV 1-2 hours before going to bed.

- special trick: late in the night I close the light on the ceiling and I start a light that stays on the floor (to mimic sunset). We are also influenced by the position of the light source.

- I changed to red/orange colors the background  on all devices that I use after sunset (anything but blue is better)

- no cardio exercises in the evening. If this is not possible, it helps at least lowering the exercise intensity and scheduling it as many hours before sleep time as possible.

- I prefer lower light intensity in the house 1 hour before going to bed.

- in the bedroom there is complete darkness

- I use a kindle paperwhite to read before falling asleep. E-ink technology makes pages visible with very little light, and it does not disturb my sleep quality. It is so much better than using a tablet, and even better than reading a “real” book with a light bulb on

- I try not to use lights if I wake up during the night. Low intensity red lights with movement sensors may help avoiding to turn on the lights. These night lights are easy to find in the stores.

Step 3

Making sure the body knows that you want a high quality 8h sleep

A new study suggests we are hardwired to sleep in the coldes 8h of the  24 day hours. Having a slightly colder bedroom seems to help (19 to max 21 degrees Celsius)

Our body knows if it is spring/summer/autumn/winter  via Vitamin(Hormone) D3 levels. Our metabolism, like the metabolism of all living things on this earth, adapts to seasons, and our sleep patterns also. D3 is a very smart season indicator, used by animals, because naturally you can have it very elevated only during summer, and very low only during winter.  During summer the night is short, so  we sleep without waking up in the night. Nature is abundant in the summer, so the body knows it has lots of energy to use as needed.  In winter nights are long, the sleep is not continuous, we wake up from time to time. Animals conserve the  resources in winter, because they are scarce, and they have a lower metabolic rate. But as we stay all day indoor, working in our offices, our D3 levels indicate to our body that is winter. But we want to stay up at night until late, as it was eternal summer…   Optimizing D3 levels is a long story. There are lots of info at Vitamin D3 Council. There is a blood test called 25OH, to add to the yearly medical checkup. Optimal daily sun exposure is very important. If needed, D3 supplements can be used when the sun is not strong enough.


Step 4

Diminishing other potential biorhythm disruptors.

- as low caffeine as possible. Some people (like me) are more sensitive to caffeine, as it is processed  very slowly. Usually I am ok with green tea. I gave up caffeine addiction many times. Always is the same for me: for two weeks  there is hell, then I start feeling as good without coffee as I was before with it. Bonus, sometimes I manage to take a nap after lunch (but not when drinking coffee in the morning). To be able to lower caffeine, I found music gives me a great energy boost, also fresh air and exposure to cold water.

- not (too much) alcohol before going to bed (it lowers sleep quality)

- no eating heavy meals before going to bed

Step 5

Adding good daily routines

- drinking lots of water in the morning, right after getting up

- eating at the same hours each day (small meals if we are so not hungry)

- opening all the house  windows for at least 10 minutes early in the morning, and again before going to bed at night. Also during winter.

I could watch the quality of my sleep improving using my mobile phone. I installed a good sleep app and put my phone  under my pillow (in airplane mode ideally). I liked it more than using a wrist sleep monitoring device, because in the morning I could immediately see the sleep report on the phone screen. No need to synchronize a second device with a phone app. For iphone/ipad I liked a lot an app called “Sleep Cycle”. My prefered smart phone app a year ago was   “Sleep as Android”.


Of course, we would not need these tricks if we lived the lives of our grandparents. The biorhythm is disturbed in a soft but definitive way by our technology (artificial light, screens of devices, staying all day indoor, not exposed to the elements). The good news:  solutions like the ones above are very easy to apply.



Move your DNA- best book I read about health

After my movement quality test, I looked more about minimalist shoes and foot health, so I stumbled upon Kathy Bowman’s book “Whole Body Barefoot: Transitioning Well to Minimal Footwear“, which I read in a blink of an eye. Then I looked about her blog and other books (that I have already read). My mind was blown away by her latest book, Move Your DNA: Restore Your Health Through Natural Movement. This I consider the best book about health that I have ever read. And one that turned up side down and made me reconsider everything I knew on the subject. To the point that I could not help bring the subject about in any conversation that I had. So not to bring that any more into the discussion, as it is so full of meaning that is impossible to resume, I thought best is just to write this post about the book, and if you are curious, please read it. Or listen to the audiobook, marvelously read by the author.

Gray Cook’s unit tests for body movement quality


Debugging and optimizing the movements involved in running and cycling is a constant need that I have, in the quest to enjoy and progress, pain free, with these  sports that I like. Browsing the internet for new perspectives, I found about, while looking at ideas from Tim Ferris and  Stuart McGill, about a inovative guy named Gray Cook. He was warmly recommended for injury prevention strategies. I looked a few videos on youtube, and decided to read his “Movement” book.

His other famous book, “Athletic Body in Balance“, seemed more advanced, I saved it in my “wishlist”.

The ideas in the book impressed me a lot. As a IT person, I was extremely suprised to see an algorithmical and test driven aproach to the general quality of human movement. The book explains  in extraordinary detail the importance of efficient body movement. And it describes so clearly the principles that one can apply when unit testing and then debugging and improving movement quality.

To have a view of the tests (that are very simple, but the philosophy behind them, explained in the book, has many levels and subtilities), I found some examples on youtube:

Functional Movement Screen:

Self Movement Screen:

Selective Functional Movement Assessment – SFMA:

In my case, I took the time to demonstrate my “unit test” to professional people that know my training history, and already started appling a “patch” at current version. It is not time yet to draw any conclusions, but the feeling that I have is that I choose to follow a very promising track to improve myself. The book explais this in depth, the test is just a test, what to do with the results depends on each person specific case and probably requires input and work with skilled profesionals from other “departments” (physical terapists, coaches, kinetoterapeuts, doctors, osteopaths etc.). So I am looking forward to my improved future version :)

Wizdom of crowds and tomorrow’s batteries

One book that fascinated me and changed my perspective about modern world is The Wisdom of Crowds, by James-Surowiecki

And today is the perfect moment to observe wisdom of crowds in action. As green energy usage has grown from an insignificant less than one percent amount, to a significant slice of the yearly average and more than 50% of power production for the peaks (very sunny summer days or extreamly windy days). But there is a but. The old power grid requires that the power usage equals power generation. This worked ok during the old days, when the power generation was constant, and has become a nightmare when power generation  massively fluctuates .

An extreme example: the solar eclipse at noon, on 20 March, if it will be a sunny day,  will make power management a nightmare for Germany, more  explanations here.

The problem is that we currently do not have a cheap battery technology to allow efficient and  with no significant environment damage to stock the peak green energy  output until the moment it is needed. And this problem is also a great business opportunity, someone could have huge gains from buying energy cheap and selling it at a high price when the demand is great. Not to mention that if the battery is highly reusable, the gain is multiplied by the number of reloads….

Of course we also need better battery technology for our mobile devices (smartphones and laptops), and mostly for electric cars. But this is a secondary issue, we have the current batteries, that do their job, and electric cars can wait, while we use electic common transport in the city, electric trains for efficient long distance travel and the extraordinary already available bicycle technology. The question is how to store for a few days the huge power output of a solar plant or wind farm. Until now the problem could be ignored, while these technologies were not significantly used, but this is not the case anymore, not in Germany, and not in the United States either.

So here it comes the wisdom of crowds. I did a quick search and found quite a few creative ideas for battery technology of tomorrow. Which technology(es) will win? Time will tell. The wisdom of inventors will team with the wisdom of users and the best will win.

Huge liquid metal batteries?

Compressed gas?

Hydraulic rock lifting?

Computer designed chemicals?

Molten salt?

Pumped water storage in dams?


My Tuxedo laptop

It’s been more than a year since I have my new laptop, and I feel I  can give it  a onest review now.

The equation was simple: I needed a very light and a very fast 15” laptop. That meant 512 G ssd hdd (no more spinning disks), an IPS Full HD Display, 4th generation Intel processor and arround 2Kg. Of course, with 3 years warranty.

It exists, but for most producers (Dell, Lenovo, Sony, Apple etc.) it is the most expensive (or at least it was a year ago). At Apple I needed  to sell a kidney for the 3 year warranty.

Then on some Ubuntu forums I learned about System76 laptops (rebrended Clevo laptops manufactured in China – as the other  expensive laptops on the market) I wrote them an email, they do not ship to Romania, and  it would be complicated to quickly fix any warranty issue. But from some online forums I found the equivalent in Europe, the Tuxedo laptops:

They have an online configurator (in german, but google translates well), more versatile than Dell in their good years, and the high-end features (512 SSD, IPS Display) do not double or triple the laptop value.  Warranty, even 4 years. Time to deliver in Romania: 5 working days. They have a good contract with Deutsche Post so the deliveries are fast most times free.

The only downside, the 15” case has a numpad (which for me is totally useless), but it’s so hard this days to find a simple and efficient keyboard. If I were a writer, I would not have bought it. The numpad moves all the “good” keys to the left, so the hands and touchpad do not stay aligned with the center of the screen, which is quite annoying.

But I gave it a try, made the order, and one week later I received my laptop. Than, I noticed the screen was not IPS, so I send it back and received it changed. It was very hard to adjust to the keyboard, so hard that eventually I asked for a replacement, and I received it free of charge (I was able to change the keyboard myself, it was very easy).

What can I say, after using it for more than an year:

- it is incredibly fast (only SSD,  16G Ram)

- it is so quiet.

- the sound is not that great, but I have a good pair of profi Behringer external speakers that compensate.

- no problems installing Linux

- the IPS display is great. the contrast is fabulous.

- I do not miss at all the Nvidia graphics. (I was not playing any games anyway)

- It is so great not to have a spinning disk. Especially when carrying the laptop arround a lot (in the car, on the bicycle, etc. ) And so quiet. And so fast.

- I missed not having a CD/DVD Reader only once. It’s worth having a lighter laptop, I think. I can always buy an external CD Reader. And they have such a short lifespan.

If I would buy it again, I would choose the 2 year warranty and so that I can get the newer model faster. Replacing the laptop is a lot cheaper than for the old Dells. The new models always have better display, more hard space and more memory. I was just looking at the up-to-date Tuxedo configs, you can by a 1000G SSD, and the 500G SSD has a very decent price these days.






un experiment culinar (bio)

Se iau 4kg mere netratate, din beciul unui prieten, culese cu grija toamna din livada:



Se curata si se separa cojile si cotoarele de miez (taiat in sferturi):


Se asteapta cateva ore pana ce prind o tenta caramel:


Se pun in borcane, se completeaza cu apa si se acopera cu un material care respira (servetele de bucatarie, in lipsa de tifon):


Se pun la intuneric si se uita 3 luni de borcanele cu coji si 6 luni de borcanele cu miez.

Ramane de vazut, mirosit si gustat daca va rezulta cel mai bun otet.



Femeile vin de pe Venus, bărbații de la băut

Am primit de la mosul de Craciun o carte galbena, atat de haioasa, ca am ras citind-o de multe ori cu lacrimi, iar cand s-a terminat, am reluat-o de la capat.

Simona Tache si Mihai Radu au un dialog aprins, in care m-am regasit de multe ori, si mi-au adus aminte ca orice situatie se schimba iremediabil cand intra umorul in ecuatie.

Copiez rupte din context cateva din citatele mele preferate:

Cand mai cresc [fetele] (cine a avut o sora stie), stau toata ziua cu nasul in cutii, in debarale, prin sertare, cautand sau asezand chestii. Cum isi ascund cainii oasele, asa gandesc si ele: “Ia sa pun eu foarfeca asta aici, sub haine, ca poate la un moment dat raman fara foarfeca si vin si o dezgrop!”

Daca vezi doi baietei de 3 ani jucandu-se absorbiti cu o masinuta si bodoganind de zor, n-ai vrea in veci sa auzi tot ce aude masiunta aia:
- Mama, flatioale, am o bolnda beton la clesa, dac-o vezi plangi. Ale niste pempalsi cu pisicute loz care-i fac un cul male si supelsexi. Nu plea ale tate, da’in lest, e buna lau de tot gagica

Cea mai simpla rezolvare a problemei cu gunoiul ar fi ca mai multe sotii de pe acelasi palier sa se asocieze si sa organizeze, pentru sotii lor, concursul “Cel mai mare campion de pe palier si din toate timpurile la dus gunoiul”. Ziua si editia. Cu podium, cu festivitate de premiere, cu medalii, cu tot tacamul.

Simona Tache, Mihai Radu, Femeile vin de pe Venus, bărbații de la băut, Editura Trei, 2013.

Cartea se gaseste in librarii sau si  mai simplu,  online cu autograf .


de la Giurgiu la Venetia


Urmaresc de ceva timp calatoria  solitara în caiac a unui roman de la de la Giurgiu la Veneţia. A mers pe Dunare, a traversat tot litoralul romanesc, bulgaresc, a trecut de Turcia. Mai are putin si ajunge la Salonic. Se alimenteaza din incurajarile noastre si ajutorul  unor oameni extraordinari.


Povestea este pe facebook:


(C) Petros Papadopoulos

kindle paperwhite & ubuntu & foreign languages

My experience with Kindle Paperwhite (best technical solution I found so far to take books with me on the beach)  has been more than positive, but a few tricks made a big difference (from the point of view of a Linux user):

- I installed Calibre, the library management software (apt-get install calibre)

- I opened in Calibre the pdfs that  I wanted to be able to read on my Kindle (containing text, not photographs of pages) and converted them to mobi format (I converted to mobi, not epub as by default,  as I noticed that only in mobi format the Kindle option to select  font size was available. Or changing default behaviour:  calibre preferences -> behaviour -> prefered output format -> mobi.


Special tricks for foreign language learning (German in my case)

- optionally – I set the Kindle interface to German (I recommand changing interface only if already mastering the language at an intermediary level)

- I set the preferred dictionary to the default German-German dictionary (comes free with the Kindle).  I also bought from Kindle Shop the  Collins Concise German-English  dictionary, which is integrated with the Kindle. Now I can use the Kindle as a dictionary (I  go to search, select the dictionary – if it is not already selected, write the word in German and search it). No need to switch to German keyboard, if I keep a letter longer pressed, a popup allows me to choose a corresponding German special character (the umlouts).

But the best is that if I read a German book, when I select a word and keep it pressed, the translation pops up (from my default dictionary).

For instance: I go to a  German Wikipedia article, I go to print/export  and download the epub format. Then I convert it from the command line (Ubuntu Calibre graphical interface converts books only as English – or the corresponding interface language, does not have yet the option to set language per book):

ebook-convert PabloPicasso.epub –language de

Then I open the converted mobi file (with German language in metadata) in Calibre graphical interface


And the most important part, putting the files on my Kindle:

- I connect the Kindle with a cable to my laptop, with a standard usb cable (the same cable that I use to charge/connect my Android smartphone) and open it

- From the Calibre graphical interface I right click on a book (after I verified that I correctly set the author and title) and select “Send to device” -> “Send specific format to” -> “Main memory” and make sure that I send the mobi format.

Last but not least the Kindle has an option to switch reading to landscape view (for even bigger fonts, for those of us that want to protect eyes from fatigue in any way possible).

 So I can have a ton of books with me wherever I go, including an incredibly powerful contextual dictionary. No buttons, only touchscreen, the battery seems to hold forever and the pages are as perfect in the dark as  in the bright sun, I can set the fonts as big as I want and I can read texts from other sources than the Kindle bookshop. I am very happy with my Kindle Paperwhite.