Saturday, September 30, 2006


We went to an excellent place with amazing ribs. I ate a full platter, and although I tried to remove the pieces with a lot of fat, the ribs have HUGE amounts of fat.

When we went back home, Andrew was eating some yogurt with honey. So I tried a bit, maybe half of the cup. Then we look back to the ingredients: 1 serving is 240gr, and contains 23 grams of fat. And that is 90% of the daily recomended value!

So I must have had like 500% of fat more than normal today. But that's ok, I'll burn it in basketball and running in the following days. Meanwhile tomorrow we are planning to go to the greatest zoo in the world, the one in San Diego.

Friday, September 22, 2006

2 Φανταστικά Ποστ

Το πρώτο: Ο adamo έχει αφήσει ιστορία στο ΕΜΠ. Περιγράφει τα πρώτα του βήματα εκεί όταν το ίντερνετ μόλις είχε βγει από τα σπλάχνα των πανεπηστημίων, αλλά και στη συνέχεια. Δεν είναι εύκολο να καταλάβει ο μέσος ηλεκτρολόγος ούτε την μισή τεχνική ορολογία, αλλά δε βαριέσαι. Τα περιστατικά είναι all time classic:

Χτυπάω την πόρτα του Τίμου:

Γ: Χρειάζεστε administrator;
Τ: Ναι. Τι ξέρεις;
Γ: Τίποτα
Τ: Δεν πειράζει θα μάθεις. Τα manual είναι εκεί.

Το δεύτερο: Ελεϊνές συμβουλές προς ναυτιλόμενος για PhD στην αμερική από έναν γνήσιο LA-ινό. Φοβερό information προς αριθμό λέξεων.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Automatic cars are here!

Ο Μιχάλης μόλις ήρθε στις ΗΠΑ για διδακτορικό. Εντυπωσιάστηκε όταν είδε στο αεροδρόμιο LAX ότι τα αυτοκίνητα στην Αμερική οδηγούνται από υπολογιστή και δεν έχουν οδηγούς. Ειδού και το video:



Incident #1

DATE & TIME OF OCCURRENCE: September 17, 2006 at approximately 1:55AM

LOCATION: 2400 block of Ellendale Place.

REPORTED OFFENSE: The complainants were walking when the suspect
approached them from behind and attempted to take property. The
suspect was able to take the property and fled in a vehicle driven by
another individual.

SUSPECT DESCRIPTION (provided by complainant)
Suspect 1 - Male, African American, 25-30 years old, no further

SUSPECT VEHICLE: Black SUV, possibly Ford Explorer or Expedition.

This is a sample email that USC sends us each time there is an incident around campus. And everything reads normal until I get to the last line:

SUSPECT VEHICLE: Black SUV, possibly Ford Explorer or Expedition.

So alright: you hit on someone to get their property. You obviously need the money because you don't have enough. BUT, you can drive a Ford Explorer or Expedition SUV! This is a huge, expensive car that only the gas they will need to accelerate will cost more than the property they steal. I simply do not understand...

Sunday, September 17, 2006

The new Dell laptop

All these years I refused to buy a Dell computer. The first reason is how on earth can I buy something that I haven't seen and touched first? Dell does not have stores and demos, they online sell their equipment online and after placing orders. For example, how can you pick a screen if you don't see the colors first? What if the keyboard is too hard for my fingers? What if I don't like the design?

Second, their design is not that great. I prefer the vastly more beautiful Compaqs or Sonys over Dells when we talk about laptops.

But this time I bought a Dell Inspiron Core Duo laptop. Why?

My first laptop was an HP with a PIII 700MHz processor back from 1999. I was using it until 15 months ago as my main laptop and as my main computer whenever we went to Brokkhaven for experiments. It was performing poorly with its initial configuration, but I maxed out the memory (to the astonishing amount of 256MB max), installed a fast 7200rpm hard drive, and thereafter it would run Windows XP just great. Only once it failed me, when the graphics chip got bad and I had to replace it for about $300, but other than that it works perfectly even today, 7 years later.

So since my mother wanted a computer I home, I proposed to her to keep this laptop and I would get a new one. So for $1,300 I bought a Compaq Pressario with a 1.5GHz Intel Centrino on it. This guy, although faster that the HPm, it had two majot drawbacks. First, slow (4200rpm) albeit large (100GB) hard drive. But it was slow. It took a while to load windows. Even when I upgraded the memory to 1GB, it still needed several minutes to boot. Unacceptable.
Second, I couldn't play games. The build-in graphics card uses the RAM memory to store graphics, and that makes it painfully slow when you run Matlab, have a lot of Firefox windows open or play any decent game.

Thankfully my cousin Maria needed a laptop. So I decided to sell the Compaq last month, only 1 year after I bought it, and spend $1,100 to get a new one. I decided for the first time in my life to get a Dell for two reasons. First, only Dell had an option for a 7,200rpm SATA hard drive. The guy is super-fast! There is no noticeable lag due to the hard drive anymore.

Second, only Dell offered a 256MB GeForce dedicated graphics card. All the things I want to do are much faster now, plus I will be able to run Windows Vista smoothly when they come out in early 2007.

The design is pretty good, better than older versions, so I am fine with that. The cooling is better, although a Core Duo it doesn't get much hot. Overall, it is a huge advancement for me. It is amazing how technology has progressed over just one year: with less amount of money, simply within a year I can have on top of whatever my old laptop had : a second (and faster processor), 512MB more memory (and DDR2!), 256MB dedicated graphics card, 7,200rpm SATA hard drive, Bluetooth...

What did I loose? The screen, of course! The colors at the Dell are crappy. The screen is bright, but the contrast ratio is completely crap. Worst colors I ever had in a computer monitor. But I understand why Dell does that.

First, one would be able to tell the bad colors only if the laptop stood next to other laptops in a store. But Dell doesn't sell in -stores. So they don't have to spend their money on a better screen. Second, if Dell has to spend $100, and they have a choice to build a better system or a better screen, they will choose to spend them in the system because people may not mind a bad screen but they *will* mind if their system crashes!

Tuesday, September 12, 2006


When I went back to Greece these past August, I took pictures of the sunset of each day. Our house in very close to the sea, and usually the views are magnificent. All of the following pictures, day and night, are taken from the exact same location. It is amazing how different they look, as if I got them at different locations.

Friday, September 01, 2006


Βούηξε η μπλογκόσφαιρα. Almost every greek blog I read has a post on the win of Greece VS the USA in the semifinal. I couldn't avoid one too! (In the greek torrent site, the torrents of the game are up in the XXX-Greek section:-) )

Υπάρχουν στιγμές που σαν έλληνας φίλαθλος (και βάζελος) έχουν γραφτεί με ανεξίτηλο μελάνι πάνω μου. Η πρώτη ήταν το Πάσχα του 1996, όταν ο Παναθηναϊκός σήκωσε για πρώτη φορά σε ιστορία ελληνικού συλλόγου κύπελλο πρωταθλητριών, σε αυτόν τον αλησμόνητο τελικό με την Μπαρτσελόνα στο Παρίσι (Γιαννάκης... πρέπει να γίνει το σουτ... δε γίνεται το σουτ... χάνεται η μπάλλα... κόβει εντυπωσιακά ο Βράνκοβιτς!).

Καπάκι την επόμενη εβδομάδα Άγιαξ-ΠΑΟ στο Άμστερνταμ για τα ημιτελικά του Champion's League. Ο Βαζέχα σκοράρει στο 87', κάνει το 0-1 και η Ελλάδα καίγεται από την μεγαλύτερη εκτός έδρας νίκη ελληνικής ομάδας. Δε ξέρω και γω πόσοι φίλοι μου γυρίσανε από Ολυμπιακοί σε Παναθηναϊκούς την επόμενη μέρα.

Μετά, ο ημιτελικός με την Τσεχία για το Euro (και όλη η πορεία γενικότερα, αλλά ειδικά αυτό το ματς...). Είχα σκάσει 75 ευρά για να πάω να δω τους Lord of the Dance στο Λυκαβηττό. Πού να ήξερα ότι θα φτάναμε ημιτελικά? Σε όλη την παράσταση αντί να βλέπω τα χορευτικά, άκουγα με ένα κρυφό ακουστικό ένα ψείρα ραδιοφωνάκι FM τον Χελάκη από την Πορτογαλία να μεταδίδει τον αγώνα... Με το που λήγει η κανονική διάρκεια του αγώνα, τελειώνει και η παράσταση. Βουρ στο κυλικείο για την παράταση όπου υπήρχε μια μικρή τηλεορασίτσα...

Να είμαστε τώρα περίπου οι μισοί θεατές από το γήπεδο, ανακατεμένοι με τους πανύψηλους ιρλανδούς χορευτές και χορεύτριες, να βλέπουμε όλοι μαζί τον αγώνα σε μια 21" οθονούλα. Εντωμεταξύ εγώ να συνεχίζω να ακούω τον Χελάκη από το ακουστικό, η οποία περιγραφή μάλιστα να είναι 2-3 δευτερόλεπτα μπροστά από την εικόνα. Και να που κερδίζουμε το κόρνερ στο τελευταίο λεπτό του πρώτου ημιχρόνου της παράτασης. "Γκολ και φεύγουμε για τελικό", ακούω τον Χελάκη να λέει τη χρονική στιγμή t=0. Να τι έγινε στα επόμενα 3 δευτερόλεπτα:

t=3sec (όλο το πλήθος): ΓΚΟΟΟΟΟΟΟΟΟΒΘΨΕΩΘ΅ΘΒΗΕ΅ΝΒΙΨ΅ΟΝΙ΅ΙΘΒΕ΅ΝΟ (χαμός)

Χοροπηδάγαμε σαν κατσίκια (και οι Ιρλανδοί μαζί!) για αρκετά λεπτά μέχρι να καταλάβουμε τι είχε πραγματικά γίνει...

Στη λίστα αυτή με τις μετρημένες-στα-δάχτυλα εμπειρίες, προστέθηκε το ματς του Μουντομπάσκετ, Ελλάδα-ΗΠΑ.

Our first quarter was bad. Too much stress, not many ideas in the offense, and the defense was as good as it would get. But the americans played once again too arrogantly. Sure, great individual players, but what's the point of dunking in the basket all the time if you are not going to win at the end?

Once we made the -12 to a +10, somewhere in the third quarter, I thought the americans would come back. But the shadow of defeat made them too nervous. Lost too many free throws and 3 pointers. And to everyone's surprise, we kept scoring all the time. The solutions were found, we tuned down the pace of play, the shots went in, everything just beautifully worked out. The biggest feat of all to me is the fact that the US was trailing by 6-10 points constantly for over 25 minutes. It wasn't some stroke of luck that we won; they could never come back.

Να τι γινόταν σπίτι μου μεταξύ 00:30 και 02:30 ξημερώματα παρασκευής... σχεδόν όλοι οι Έλληνες του USC σπίτι μου για το ματς!

We never watched the last 45 seconds of the game.

We had 24 people (record ticket sales!) at my living room watching the game, and everyone was cheering on every single basket made. I mean, it was really loud. And it was 2:30am on a Friday morning, and the walls at the wooden houses here are paper thin. I don't think anyone in our apartment complex could sleep. People kept shouting "SHUT UUUUUUP!" from the above apartment, they kept banging on our doors and windows and ceilings in the last few minutes fof the game. But we wouldn't stop. Eventually the cops came by, and they forced everyone out of my house without letting us watch the final few minutes. We found the final score from phonecalls...