Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Biofuels and food price

The food prices started to climb since last year. And some people are blaming the increased bio-fuels production for this. This is indeed one of the reasons in my opinion, especially since the production of bio-fuels is subsidized in some countries, which I think it's a mistake. The other reason is an increase in income in China and India, where people can afford to eat more. See an in depth analysis of the food crisis here. The good part of this is that some land that was not used in Romania because it was simple not profitable for farmers to cultivate them are now used. On my last trip to Constanta I saw lots of rapeseed (one of the plants the bio-diesel is made of) fields in bloom.

Friday, April 18, 2008

New book - Theft of a Nation

I started reading a new book "Theft of a Nation: Romania Since Communism" by Tom Gallagher. It is a history of bad governance in Romania traced back to the creation of the Romanian state in the 19-th century. What I expected from the book and it doesn't provide is a more in depth sociological analysis of the causes of the facts described. Otherwise I know most of the facts presented there, so it's not shocking for me. I can say though that the society evolved a little bit in the latest years. The miners marching towards Bucharest in 1999 seems so long ago...

Monday, April 14, 2008

I don't block the crossroad

The traffic in Bucharest is a mess: there way too many cars in the city, they exceed both the street flow capacity and the available parking lots. And to make it even worse, many drivers don't respect the law: they pass on red, drive on the other way occasionally and block the crossroads, by entering in it although the street in front of them is full and they cannot pass by the crossroad. So some guy created a web page that urges people not to block the crossroad. From that site you can get a sticker to put it on your car to show your commitment to this behavior. I totally agree with this guy, but in order for this to work you need cooperation from all drivers. On a one lane per direction street everything is OK: if I'm the first one and I see the crossroad is blocked then I stop and wait for it to clear. The ones behind me will have to stop too. But if there is a two lane street some other drivers from the other lane can still enter the crossroad and block it. Moreover, some of them will change lanes and block my lane too. This is an example of a game where everybody gets more if all respect some rules. Unfortunately, most of the people are too shortsighted and selfish to understand it. Anyway, I will keep not blocking the crossroads as far as I can...

You may notice that police is out of this story, cause the law is most of the time not enforced in Romania.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Downgrading an application

For the first time in my career I'm working on downgrading an application. We worked for about 7 months on an application where persistence is handled by Hibernate. Due to some license/patents issues with our partner it was decided to migrate the persistence layer to EJB3.0/JPA using the container provided JPA implementation(the application is supposed to be deployed on various application servers - WebSphere and WebLogic for sure - depending on the client). The problem is that the EJB 3.0 standard is less powerful than Hibernate and also the implementation is in version 1.0 (for example WebSphere uses OpenJPA from Apache which is in version 1.0.2) which means missing features and bugs, so this migration turns out to be a downgrading of the application :(

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Earth Hour

Last Saturday I joined the people who celebrated the Earth Hour. I turned off all the lights and electrical appliances (except for the fridge) in the house and enjoyed the silence for an hour. It reminded me the times from the communist era when the electricity was cut every day. Except that back then they weren't doing it for the Earth, but for the "country" and without asking people if they agree. I didn't notice people around doing the same thing, anyway for sure it wasn't a massive turning off of the lights, but maybe in the future Romanians will be more aware of these environmental issues. Here is a report of what happened around the world with this occasion.