Thursday, April 23, 2015

The Smart Phone Is Taking Over

When smart phones appeared first on the market I was not impressed. Ok, I saw you can use them as a mini-computer to browse on the net, read your emails or chat on the go, but apart from this I didn't see any killer app that would make my life easier. I'm not into gaming, I'm not into photography, so having two cameras or a processor that can run whatever game was not touching me at all. The first application that convinced me to buy such a phone was Google Maps (or any other maps) combined with GPS capability. I didn't have a GPS at that time, but I was considering buying one, so when I found that I can do the same thing with a phone I just bought the phone. The smart phone just killed an entire market of GPS devices, their only niche at this moment are the car companies where they can get deals to pre-instal their devices.
Now and then I find an application that can really help me with some task. If you go to a baby expo you will see countless of systems to track your baby if she sleeps in another room for example. Not needed anymore, there are application for your phone like Baby Monitor which can do the same thing and call another phone if your child starts crying in the middle of the night. Two days ago I was in line at the pharmacy and as usually I didn't have the fidelity card which gives you some discount with me. The man behind me at the queue told me that there is an application (VirtualCards which is tailored for the Romanian market, but there are others too) where you can store all your cards. It generates the same bar code as the one on the card and you can scan your phone instead of the actual card. Bang, you don't have to carry all those cards with you, the phone will suffice.
So if you know other cool applications for the phone let me know, I'm interested in simplifying my daily routine :)

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Cheryl's Birthday

People are talking on the internet about a problem given at a math contest in Singapore, the problem even has a name now, "Cheryl's Birthday". Some were shocked that such a problem was given to 11 years old students (in fact it was given to 15 years old children), but actually there is nothing that would prevent a 4th or 5th grade student to solve it. You need to know only basic logic operations, nothing more, so it is reasonable for an 11 years old child who is good at math to solve such a problem. |Actually when I was in 4th grade I started attending a math circle at  my school and we were doing exactly this kind of problems. I remember even today how happy I was when I solved one of the first of those logic problems and of course I remember that problem too: There was a kingdom having capital punishment. Before execution each convicted person was allowed to appear in front of the king and say a statement. If the statement was false he would be beheaded and if the statement was true he would be hanged. How can a man escape execution in these circumstances?

Many years after I was attending a job interview in Bucharest. It was in those years when people found out that Google and Microsoft gave logic problems at interviews and the fashion spread to other companies. They gave me one problem which I solved and then they gave me a second one which I knew from the math circle. They asked me where do I know it and when I told them that I know it from the 4th grade and I used to solve this kind of problems every week they decided to skip that part of the interview :)

Now don't imagine that I attended some privileged private school. I was raised in Mangalia, a small town in communist Romania, and I went to the nearest school from my house which was still half an hour walk. It was the dedication of some passionate math teachers (Mr. Dinu, Craciunescu and Henny) who were willing to spend their week-ends teaching some extra hours of math for free to some little kids like me and many others. You know, I have to thank them once again here for their effort.

Thursday, April 02, 2015


De 15 ani de zile Mazare distruge Constanta, orasul in care am crescut: a retrocedat fraudulos o gramada de teren prin toate cotloanele din oras, apoi a dat cele mai aberante autorizatii de constructie. Blocuri noi inghesuite pe peticele de spatiu verde dintre blocurile existente, mall construit in singurul parc adevarat din oras (inca se mai vad cioturile copacilor taiati in parcarea acelui mall) si toate constructiile de pe zona verde dintre lac si sosea din Mamaia. Plus lasarea in ruina a monumentelor istorice din oras, Cazinoul fiind doar cel mai cunoscut dintre ele. Alte cladiri declarate monument au fost lasate pur si simplu sa se prabuseasca pentru ca nu avea dreptul legal sa le demoleze si sa construiasca altceva acolo. Iar mai nou a inceput sa distruga si plajele din oras cu a lui fantasmagorica sosea de coasta. Si in timpul asta omul a furat de a rupt, probabil sute de milioane de euro.

Asa ca dintre toti politicienii anchetati de DNA (are 3 dosare pana acum) el este cel pe care vreau cel mai mult sa il vad in puscarie. Cand a fost retinut acum cateva saptamani am baut un pahar de rom pentru asta si o sa beau inca unul astazi caci a primit mandat de arestare pentru 30 de zile (vezi aici stirea). Si o sa mai beau inca unul cand o sa fie condamnat in prima instanta si inca unul cand va fi condamnat definitiv si tot asa. Si nu beau orice pentru asta, ci un rom din cel mai fin, Takamaka Bay din Seychelles, pentru ca el nu o sa mai mearga prin Madagascar si Brazilia mult timp de acum incolo, iar eu o sa ma plimb pe unde vreau :)

Update: ca sa fie si cu cantec o sa pun si o interpretare a ariei Libiamo din opera Traviata care da titlul acestui post :)