Tuesday, November 7, 2006

Just a PIC

Just recieved it today from my tutor (thank you, Dr. R). I'll get to play around with it for whatever time I choose to keep it. It's just a PIC microcontroller and a simple circuit board for it. For those who think I'm talking Chineese now, I'll quote a definition from the "Pic C" book, by Nigel Gardner:

Microcontroller = a lump of plastic, metal and purified sand which, without any software, does nothing. When software controlls the microcontroller, it has almost unlimited applications.

Let's see if it can tell me the temperature in my room Image

Friday, October 13, 2006

First month in UK

It's been more than a month since I have first set foot in Britain. Although I have posted twice in the meantime, I was just boasting myself with my new laptop, without actually giving any information about me or my experience. Well... it's now time...

The first things I have observed were the green spaces, that were acetually taken care of, and the narrowness of the roads. The first two weeks the weather was excellent, only 2-3 rainy days. It took about 3 days to get used to the 25 minute walk from my accomodation to the Student Union building (actually, not the walk was the problem, but the fact I did it 2 or 3 times a day, and that Sheffield is a VERY hilly city Image ). Most the university buildings are within 5 minutes walk from the Union.

Bus over here is quite expensive. The regular ticket is a bit over £1, and a student weekly ticket is £12. There are some lines though that have a special tariff for students, 50p per trip. I have thus got used to taking the bus to the university and returning by foot (or again by bus if it rains). It is diffrent from the bus in Romania in that you pay at the driver when you get on the bus, and usually the bus does not leave the stop until everybody pays (and everybody does). The bell actually works (the STOP button), and the driver does not stop unless you ring it. Cool, huh?

One thing I have noticed is that everybody is very friendly and calm. When a car stops on the road, the other drivers wait for it to finish it's maneuver (like taking a right turn), and do not hurry to overpass it or horn. If you ask somebody for something, he does his best to help you. It makes no difference that you are a fresher (that is, first year student) and he is a professor. Another thing that kindof surprised me is that when you buy something that costs £0.99, you actually get the 1p change. I once bought something and did not wait for that change. Imagine the seller coming after me to give me my 1p change.

In the international orientation week, they told us something like a joke: In Heaven the chef is French, the policeman British, the mechanic German, the organiser Swiss, and the lover Italian. In hell the chef is British, the policeman German, the mechanic French, the organiser Italian and the lover Swiss. This seems to be true. While the police here are very friendly, the food is at least wierd. Most mornings I eat egg and bacon, and for dinner, the potatoes (either fried or baked) are never missing. Lucky me I like fried potatoes, a dish that is called "chips" here. Although in the beginning I wasn't very happy with the food, I kindof got used to it, and now it's not a problem any more.

Now about academic stuff... I have 6 courses this semester. Three of them are electronics courses: Circuits and Signals (mostly RLC stuff), Electronic Devices (that is, mostly semiconductors), and Digital Systems (well... the name says about what needs to be said). I also have Mathematics, Enterprise and Technology and the so-called Coursework. Electronic Devices is said to be the hardest course in the first year. Could this be why I like it best? The Mathematics really is a waste of time. Not only the difficulty is absent, but some of the british students ask the professor repeat or explain why (x1+x2)^2-(x1-x2)^2=4 x1 x2. Enterprise and Technology is part of the "with Business Skills" degree I have chosen and is interesting; it is not really aimed on learning, but on thinking about some details of the corporate world we all live in. What's left? The coursework... That is the codename for quite a number of things we do in the first year. Almost half of it consists of C Programming. The rest, well, is what we call labs. Just as an exampe, for the coursework we have to build a remote-controlled car until Christmas. There are lots of other things that go into the coursework section.

I am going to end this post now, it's already getting too long. All in all, I like it here, and I had no problems getting used to living and learning in a foreign country.

Bye for now,


Sunday, October 1, 2006

I'm in control

I'm finally in control of my PC ! At least when I'm using my new Ubuntu Linux 6.06 Operating System (or Dapper Drake, fot the sake of simplicityImage). I still do not know what's all that software my laptop came with, and although I got rid of most of the things I don't use, there is at least one application left that loads at startup and has no uninstall option.

Got to go now, I've got config files to edit!

Thursday, September 28, 2006

A new toy

I (heart) my Lenovo

  • Intel Centrino Core Duo T2300e Processor 1.66 GHz
  • 1024 MB DDRII-667 MHz SDRAM
  • 80 GB Hard Drive
  • DVD Writer - Dual Layer
You do know what dual core means, right? Image Lucky me I brought my mouse from back home... And no comments about the (missingImage) graphics board, okay?

Saturday, September 9, 2006

Time To Say Good Bye

Today I got my Driving Licence. I'm so proud with it, although I might not get the chance to use it until December. Why? Because of tomorrow. Tomorrow is the day I've been expecting for quite a while. I've been expecting it with curiosity, hope, but also fear. Tomorrow I fly away. Not too far, but not too close either. Far enough so I won't be able to come home until the Christmas holliday, close enough to still be in Europe. I'm going to University. For the first time, I will be on my own for more that a week or two.

It is now time. It is time to say good bye to my family and my baby sister. It is time to say good bye to my friends. It's time to say good bye to my home and to my room. Tomorrow, as I will pass the customs, the security control and the check-in, I will look back and shed a tear. My life as I know it, is about to end. About 2800 km further away, a new life is waiting for me. Whether better or not, I don't know. I can only hope. And pray.

Sunday, September 3, 2006

Enemy Territory for you !

Quad says:

Spune NU la Counter-Strike, spune NU mediocritatii. Acum poti face parte din elita. Joaca Enemy Territory, un joc pentru cei mai buni. Un joc in care intai gandesti, apoi tragi. Mai multe detalii despre acest joc pe pagina Romanian Enemy Territory, http://etro.dyndns.org/?q=node/79 .

Wussie says:

Iti plac shooterele? Iti place sa-ti vezi adversarii cazand inainte sa te doboare ei pe tine? Ti-ar place sa ai sansa de a te afirma prin propriul skill si aim, fara sa dai tot timpul peste cheateri care strica tot farmecul jocului? Atunci aici e de tine!

Ti-ar place sa poti reintra in joc la cateva secunde dupa ce mori, fara a fi nevoit sa privesti de pe margine cum se joaca ceilalti? Aici poti.

Ti-ar place sa incerci si un gameplay mai variat, care sa nu insemne doar macel permanent ? Ti s-ar parea interesanta o harta pe care trebuie sa mergi cu tancul, sa construiesti un pod, sa distrugi doua porti cu tunul din dotare, sa strabati un tunel, sa creezi brese in zidul unui fort, sa te infiltrezi in baza inamica, sa distrugi un gard metalic si in final sa arunci in aer un rezervor de combustibil ? Daca reusesti in 30 de minute, ai castigat harta Image .

Ti-ar place sa poti trage cu aruncatorul de grenade antitanc ? Sau sa furi uniforma inamicului si sa te infiltrezi in baza lui? Sau sa poti comanda foc de artilerie peste pozitiile inamice? Sau sa-ti resuscitezi colegii cazuti? Aici ai ocazia.

Daca ai raspuns pozitiv la cel putin 2 intrebari de mai sus, inseamna ca ai atins nivelul la care e timpul sa incerci jocul asta, te va prinde si nu-l vei mai putea lasa Image Daca nu, ramai la CS...

Monday, July 24, 2006

Guess who's back!

After a three days at Bran, where I slept something like 12 hours a day, I'm back online. The break at Bran came after what I currently consider to be the most important event in my life: the International Physics Olympiad. Not only have I been the farthest away from home (almost 9000 km) and visited Singapore, but I have also obtained quite an important award: Silver Medal at IPhO. Let's take them one at the time.

I shall begin with the coutry of Singapore. At the first sight, it seems like an utopia. Everything over there seems (am probably is) brand new: all the buildings, outdoor and indoor, look like taken from an US movie that depicts a luxury neighborhood of, let's say, New York. The catch is that New York also has poor neighborhoods; in Singapore, as far as I have seen, there aren't any. Everything is clean. Nobody throws anything on the street. Smoking students are a minority. You are not expected to tip the cab driver, and he gives you the change to the last cent. Oh, and the 90Km/h speed-limit on the high-way is respected by almost everybody (the cab drivers make the exception Image ). Needless to say the people love their country in a manner Ceausescu could only dream of. This is only my first impression, but it's a strong one. It might change only if I live in Singapore, and I don't see that happening too soon.

Now about the Olympiad. It was nice. I found two of the three problems easy. The last one... well... had I only known relativity Image. I crawled my way trough it, but feeling extremely unsecure in the subject, I just failed to do it right. They however gave me 4.5 points for it. Nice. As for the experimental paper, I think I speak in the name of the whole team when I say "We blew it!". Unacceptable mistakes at very simple things. All of us. Weird, huh? Now, I guess other students blew it at the theoretical paper, where Romania had some strong scores. The conclusion: one Gold, two Silver and two Bronze. We can not compare to countries like China, Taiwan or South Korea (with 4 or 5 Gold), but it is nevertheless a good result. May it be better next year!

Why is this in English? Well, I will be going to Britain this year and my blog must reflect it. Plus I want the people I met in Singapore be able to read it (Hi Cheryl!)

"Pe curand!"

P.S. I almost forgot. Singapore is heaven for those who like science and engineering. It's two technical university (NTU and NUS) conduct lots of research programs. H.E.A.V.E.N. Take my word for it!

Thursday, July 6, 2006

Not home

Cam pana pe 21 iulie 2006 nu voi fi acasa, si nici nu cred ca voi mai intra pe net. Asa ca, see you when I'll see you Image !

Wednesday, July 5, 2006

Reinstalare de Windows...

Mi-am amintit diferentele esentiale dintre Windows si Linux: Windows arata mai frumos si se blocheaza mai des. L-am instalat pe curat, cu formatare. Am downloadat driverul video de pe site-ul ATI. L-am instalat. Restart. Restart. Restart... Something's wrong Image. Last known good configuration. Acu stau sa downloadez driverul de pe site-ul ASUS. Degeaba am ATI Radeon, daca placa e ASUS. Are 100MB, si downloadul merge cu 10KB/s. Pe cat mi-a luat pe Linux instalarea driverului (si macar acolo simti ca-l instalezi TU), pe atat imi ia acum downloadul lui - nu s-au obosit sa faca mirror-uri rapide. Si o sugestie, folositi FlashGet. Nu am gasit alt download manager free care sa foloseasca in paralel mai multe mirror-uri.

Intre timp ma dor ochii de la cei 60Hz. Merg sa mai citesc ceva la fizica...

Later edit. Nici driverele ASUS nu merg, nici driverele alternative Omega. Acum incerc un downgrade. Inca mai exista speranta.

Final note. A mers. Driverele 6.5 si 6.6 de la ATI nu-mi merg, dar cu 6.4 e okey.

Monday, July 3, 2006

Probleme adevarate...

... se gasesc in culegerile straine. Sau traduse dupa culegeri straine. Va dau un exemplu de problema, absolut superba. Te unge pe suflet Image . E exact genul de problema care parca iti spune s-o rezolvi (suna tare, nu? asa ma gandeam si eu...)

A chain of mass M and length L is suspended vertically with it's lower end touching a scale (sa zicem un cantar). The chain is released and falls onto the scale. What is the reading of the scale when a length x of the chain has fallen? Neglect the size of the individual links.

Aceasta e prima problema dintr-o minunata carte A Guide To Physics Problems. Cei interesati o pot gasi pe www.lookforbook.com . De prea mult timp nu am mai fost asa entuziasmat de o carte... cu probleme de fizica!


P.S. Concurs: Care o rezolva primul?

P.P.S. Cei din lotul mic nu au voie sa participe Image

Thursday, June 29, 2006


Tocmai cand credeam ca s-a terminat, si ma intrebam daca toata activitatea si pregatirea mea in domeniul fizicii a ajuns la un asa de brusc final, a avut loc o minune. Speram, dar nu credeam. Si totusi s-a intamplat: am iesit invingator in cel mai greu concurs la care am participat pana acum, si nu prevad vreun altul care sa-l egaleze prea curand din punctul acesta de vedere. Am iesit in primii 5; acei 5 care merg la olimpiada internationala de fizica. Cunoscatorii ii spun IPhO, si stiu ca anul acesta se va desfasura in Singapore. Sunt fericit.

Olimpiada a fost o ocazie sa cunosc lume. Persoane cu aceleasi interese ca ale mele, persoane inteligente. Mi-am facut prieteni. Acum aproape s-a terminat. Inca trei saptamani, si cred ca pot zice adio concursurilor, care pana acum au fost o parte din viata mea. Urmeaza facultatea. O noua etapa. Diferita.