jeudi 27 décembre 2007

Hi again!

this time, I want to introduce you to a nice website I have discovered:
This is a wonderful site where you can improve your knowledge of english vocabulary and at the same time, help reduce world's hunger!
How on earth is that possible you might ask? Well, basically each time you find a good answer, Free Rice donates 20 grains of rice to the United Nations World Food Program.
However, the game is not easy by any means, above all for a non native english speaker such as myself. Each time you make 3 good answers in a row, you "gain" a level, and when you make one mistake, you are down one level. My personal record is level 43, but I tend to hover around level 40-41 most of the time.
Still, it's nice to know that you can waste your time on the internet and help fighting for a good cause.

I found Free in the blog of Patrick Rothfuss ( who is a new sci-fi author and a promising one it seems. His first book, The Name of the Wind, is doing pretty well so far.
I haven't had time to read it yet since I have to read the whole Memory, Sorrow and Thorne series, and I am stuck at the first book, mainly because I don't really like the beginning, but also because I have so many things to read. For instance, I am reading a very good book called " A demon of our own design"

written by a risk manager in Wall street (formerly at Salomon for instance). It gives a great insider's perspective on some crisis, such as the 1987 one. Still, he might be tad pessimistic (one might say realistic...) at times about finance's future prospects.
Additionally, I have to study many books, such as the famous Hull:

or a less well known:
which are not books you can read and digest in a few hours (especially the latter).
Anyhow, when I am done with Memory, Sorrow and Thorn, I plan to read Rothfuss' book.

Merry christmas to all!

Well, it's been a long time, but I have been really really busy lately between the internship and my courses. Indeed, I spend the first three days of the week working as an assistant Fund analyst in a subsidiary of BNP Paribas Asset Management. The job is not too difficult for the moment, but I tend to finish a bit late (around 7-7.30 p.m). Hence, it is a bit difficult when I have to study after work since I am not back at home before 8 p.m. Above all since I have some courses in Finance from Thursday to Saturday (only 3 hours on Saturday) and time is also scarce during the week-ends. Recently, before the winter break, I had 3 exams in 3 weeks so that I haven't really had time to do anything else than work. At least, my exams went well, even though it was a bit weird to switch from being the one giving exams to doing the exams! Also, I am more used to typing than writing now, so that I tend to write more slowly now and I tire more quickly when I write. I guess I will get used to it.
As a whole, next year is going to be pretty tough I think, since we have a lot of exams planned, and a few dissertations also.
At least, I get to learn many things.

On the geek side, I think the forthcoming year is going to be pretty calm for me. First, because I won't really have the time to sell/buy stuff, to look at reviews on the internet, compare prices...all the things that take time. Second, I think I have found a kind of equilibrium: I have had an iphone for a month now, and even though there are things that bother me (such as the fact that there are no word counter for text messages, or that you can't delete a single text message...), it is pretty cool, and I don't see myself switching back to another phone. Maybe the next generation iphone. As to my laptop, I also really like my Toshiba R500, even though it also has a few flaws. The thing is, I don't really have that much time to use it anymore: I don't bring it to work, and I seldom use it at school; hence, I clearly don't need to get a new laptop. That might change if Apple finally releases a small 12"1 laptop weighting less than 1.5kgs (around 3.2 pounds)...but I don't think they will do that anytime soon.
I might get a new camera though: I was considering buying the Sony T200 instead of my Panasonic FX9. Still, I won't have many opportunities to make some interesting pictures next year, so that I am still a bit reluctant to buy it.
Of course, this is good news for my wallet and it will compensate all the stuff I have had to buy for work, like a few suits, ties, shoes, socks...

Given that I have lacked time recently, I don't have anything particularly interesting to share, except for a website that I have doscovered recently:
But it will be the subject of another post!

See you.

mardi 16 octobre 2007

Resizing pictures in batch under Linux!

Hi to all!

I have discovered a very easy way to resize a bunch of pictures using Linux.
First, you need to install imagemagick:

[CODE] sudo apt-get install imagemagick [\CODE]

Then, what I did was to copy all the pictures I wanted to resize into a temporay folder.
Finally, using the command line, I went to the previous folder, and typed the following:

[CODE] mogrify -resize 800x600 *.jpg [\CODE]

and all the pictures were resized.
Of course, you can choose any size you want. Instead of"mogrify", you can use "convert" which does not replace the picture but instead creates a new one with the desired size.

You can also rotate pictures. For instance:

[CODE] mogrify -rotate 90 picture.jpg [/CODE]

where "90" is the number of degrees you wish to rotate picture.jpg.

Here is a link with more infos on imagemagick:

samedi 15 septembre 2007

Wow: more than 1000 visits!!!

Against all odds, I have crossed the 1000 visits mark a few days ago!
It is still a small blog, but I am happy that people come to visit it.
When I look at my Clustr Map, I even see people visiting from places I don't even know!

From now on, I will try to update my blog more regularly, but not next week since I am leaving for one week to Egypt!
Hopefully, I will have some pretty pictures to upload when I am back. However, I am going to Taba, which seems to be far from pretty much everything, so that I guess I won't get to see the pyramids.
I will focus on landscapes pictures then.

samedi 8 septembre 2007

Review of the new Toshiba Portege R500


I have recently got the new ultra laptop by Toshiba, the Portege R500. I got it in Japan, and it is a non-standard version since its only a 1.06 Ghz processor, with no bluetooth, and no DVD writer. That way, it is the lightest 12" notebook available at under 1 kg (i.e. 2.2 pounds). It is even lighter than the 11"1 Asus U1F or the new Sony Vaio TZ!
As you can see in the pictures, it is also quite thin, at least as much as my former Asus U1F. It is also, of course, a bit bigger.
Compared to the U1, the packaging is quite scarce; you only got one battery (vs 2 for the Asus), no case...But, it only shows that Asus has really outdone itself with the packaging of the U1F.
In my opinion, the R500 is not as pretty as the U1, but it is of course, subjective. The biggest advantage of the R500 is that it does not have this glassy-style coating on the top, which, albeit very cute and styly, attracts fingerprints as much as honey attracts bears. The R500 is still a nice-looking machine.


This is where the R500 shines compared to the other ultras and to the U1F in particular. Indeed, more subnotebooks such as this one use a 4200 rpm hard drive, which tends to reduce performances a lot. In the R500, there is a 5400 rpm hard drive, and boy, what a difference it makes!
It boots more quickly (around one minute for linux), applications open up more quickly, transfers of files are quicker...
Even though the U1F and the R500 have the same processor, the R5OO just feels faster.
As to battery life, I have to admit that at first, I was a bit disappointed since with the Wireless on (no BT and no DVD drive), brightness set to 50% and while doing some light editing and web browsing, the battery lasts around 4 hours and 15 minutes under Linux. I guess it is a bit higher under Vista without Aero and the widgets.
Of course, more than 4 hours is a lot, but I was expecting more. However, one has to remember that this is only the so-called lightweight battery. Thus, I guess I will have to get the large battery when it is available if I want to be able to use it for one day of work without the need for the ac adpater.

The downside of having such a thin laptop and using a 5400 rpm HD is that the R500 tends to heat up rather quickly on the left-hand side (I guess where the hard drive is), but it remains ok. Consequently, the fan is almost always on, but is not too noisy. Still, in a quiet environment you definitely hear some noise.

On to the screen, which has received a lot of attention in different reviews. First, note that this is a mat screen and not a glossy one which means that it is easier to use outdoors, but that it is less appropriate for watching movies. Moreover, the lateral viewing angles are pretty limited, meaning that no more than 2 people can watch the screen at the same time; given the size of the screen however, I think it is ok all the same.
To conclude on the screen, I must say that it is not as bad as some people had it: I use my R500 a lot, and I have never had any problems with the screen yet. As I said, watching movies might be a bit difficult, but I have been able to watch a few without difficulties; the key lies in a good positionning of the screen.
I have not really experimented with the special "outdoor feature" of the screen since I am using Linux, and it does not work on Linux.
This is a great transition ta talk about Linux on the R500.


As I have just said I use Linux on my R500. Why Linux over Vista?
One great asset of Linux compared to Vista IMHO, is the more efficient use of RAM. Indeed, under Kubuntu Feisty, the starting memory usage is around 180 Mb, out of my 1000. With Firefox open (a few tabs and a few extensions), Thunderbird and emacs it rises to 310, and with a 760 pages pdf, to 360 Mb. It means that, indeed, under Linux, 512 Mb are quite enough for a reasonable use. Moreover, note that there are lighter desktops than KDE, and Firefox and Thunderbird are both memory hogs, which means that using Linux on old computers is really a good idea. With my R500, Linux is a lot faster than Vista.
Moreover, Vista is just XP with a new GUI (Aero) basically, and XP is quite an old OS. It does not stand the comparison with Linux. Even the 3D Aero is really laughable compared to the real 3D effects one can get with Compiz Fusion under Linux. So, even though

How does Linux fare on the R500? Quite well I must say. The beginning has been a bit rough, since I have tried many distros before finding the one that most satisfies my needs. I have tried Kubuntu Gutsy beta, Open SuSe 10.3 Beta, Fedora 7, Linux Mint 3.0 (I used this one on my U1F, but strangely, the installer crashed every time I tried to install Linux Mint on the R500...), Sabayon Linux 3.4e, PCLinuxOS2007...Each of these distros had something that I disliked, or didn't worked the way I wanted it to work. Sabayon was quite good, but it is Gentoo-based, and compiling from source is just tooooooooooo slow for my liking: I erased Sabayon when the install of Thunderbird took more than 30 minutes. Finally, I settled on Kubuntu Feisty 7.04 which does a good job at recognizing the hardware: the only things that do not work from scratch are the fingerprint reader, the outdoor button, and the SD card reader. I also have some issues with the brightness buttons that do work, but behave strangely. I don't really care about the fingerprint reader, the lack of SD card reader was a pain when I was in vacation, but it is not very important. I forgot to say that the little button on the left side of the R500 that allows to increase and decrease volume does not work from scratch, but I have been able to make it work thanks to xmodmap and xbindkeys...and some help!
This is THE weakness of Linux IMHO: it does a good job at recognizing most of your hardware, but when something does not work, it is a pain to make it work. I mean, even though I am not a Linux expert, I don't think I am an average computer user, and still, I have had some difficulties solving those problems. For instance, I haven't yet found how to make my SD card reader work. Of course, there is a lot of help available over the web, above all for ubuntu, but still, I think it remains a bit complicated for the average Joe (lot of command line involved...).
To conclude on Linux, I must add that I have a problem with my Vista partition, so that I can't access it now. But it's ok, I don't really care.
In any case, I am going to install Virtualbox and have a virtualized version of XP directly in Linux for stuff like Illustrator of Excel (yes I know there is Open Office, but the Spreadsheet does not handle VBA well, and I will need VBA next year) or chess programs. Maybe iTunes also.


Overall, I am happy with this purchase. The U1F was a lovely machine, and the R500 is a worthy replacement. The only thing I might want now is a SSD drive to improve performance once again.
But I will wait prices have gone down a bit, since I will need at least a 64 Gb one, which costs something like 900 dollars right now!

EDIT: A few additions

First, After using the Toshiba for watching movies during my holidays, I can confirm that the angles of vision are pretty limited. However, it is still possible for two persons to watch a movie end enjoy it.

Second, I have just discovered that I can adjust the brightness of the screen by hovering over the Knetworkmanager icon (under Kubuntu) and using vertical scrolling. Since I had some issues with the Fn+F6 and F7 keys, this is great discovery for me.

Third, I still have a few issues with my keyboard, since, when I type very fast, it tends to behave erratically. For instance, sometimes, if the insertion point of the mouse is not located where I am typing (that is, pretty much all the time) instead of typing where I want to, it types at the insertion point, which is generally located somewhere else in the text I am typying. This is very annoying, and I really don't understand why it is behaving this way.

mardi 31 juillet 2007

Asset Management it's gonna be!

Yes, I have been selected for the Master Asset Management in Dauphine, so, I guess that's what I am going to do next year.
Hence, I will spend the summer reading books such as these:

Above all the last one, since I think I will specialize in Alternative Investments like Hedge Funds.

lundi 2 juillet 2007

Being interviewed...again!

Yes, since I have decided to give my future career a less theoretical and more practical direction, I have applied to two masters: one in "Financial Engineering" and one in "Asset Management".
I have been selected for an interview for both masters, and the first one takes place on Wednesday.
Hence, I am quite busy reading financial economics, corporate finance, asset management...books since my knowledge on these topics is pretty limited: indeed, when I look back at my formation in economics, I was a bit surprised to see that it was very weak in finance. I have never delve into the specifics of financial markets, options, derivatives and the likes. Luckily, the literature on these topics is quite vast so that I expect to be able to learn what I didn't during my previous studies. Of course, there is a lot of information to be digested, but I think I can do it!

See you soon for the results!

jeudi 7 juin 2007

Increase your laptop's battery life under Vista! (yes, it is possible!!!)


So, you have a new laptop with Vista pre-installed, you are quite happy, then you check
this little icon in the system tray that says "100% battery : 1 hour 48 minutes left"!
Quite disappointing!
Fortunately for you, there are a few ways to increase your battery life with third-party programs.

First, Vista Battery Saver : this is a nice little program that allows you to disable both Aero and the sidebar while in battery mode. What is more, you can even tell the program at what point you want to disable them: for instance, you can set Aero to be disabled when there is 70% battery left and the sidebar when there is 40% battery left. This is all very easy to do and quite intuitive.

My advice would be to remove Aero as soon as possible because it uses A LOT of power.
On my U1, disabling Aero would allow me to gain around 15 minutes out of the 2 hours of battery life of the 3-cell battery. I can't tell about the sideboard 'cos I automatically remove it when i install Vista: it uses too many ressources for my liking!
As a conclusion, I can say that it is a nice app, even though it uses 9 Mb of you RAM which is a bit high I think. It is still improving though; for instance it seems that it was not working with Vista Home Premium, but it has been fixed.

2. RmClock: this is an open source project that allows you to adjust your CPU performance on-the-fly and create different profiles depending on your utilisation. For instance, you can use "ondemand" so that your CPU switches between full power (100% CPU) when, say, you work on a picture with Photoshop, and 50% CPU power when you are browsing the web.
Also, quite importantly, you can undervolt the CPU: it means that you can decrease the voltage allocated to each setting of your CPU. For instance, let's say that at full power, your CPU uses 1.35V; with RMclock, you can decrease that amount to 1.2 V for instance. This cools the system down and reduces power consumption which, in turn, increases battery life. Of course, you have to be careful in your settings: you cannot set 0.95 V for the "full power" setting: in that case, your computer will certainly freeze. One drawback of Rmclock is that you can't test each setting whereas with

3. NHC you can! The thing is, you need to have Microsoft's .NET Framework Version 2.0 for NHC to work. I think it comes pre-installed with Vista however. NHC is a bit slower on boot than RMclock and it uses more resources but it might be a bit more user-friendly than RMclock, so it is up to you. With NHC, you might even be able to control the speed of your fan, but it depends on your laptop. On mine, it soes not work.

To conclude, I can say that using Vista Battery Saver and either RMclock or NHC, you can definitely reclaim quite a bit of battery life under Vista.

However, Vista is still slow as hell (in my opinion!), so that I prefer Linux. Moreover, Beryl is waaaaaaaaay better than Aero. Hence, in another message I will talk about Ubuntu Linux on my U1F.

mardi 5 juin 2007

Ana and Novak

Hi everybody! Long time no see! Well, I have been pretty busy lately trying to find what to do with my life, but more on that in another message.

Today, I want to talk about two young and very promising Serbian tennis players: Ana Ivanovic and Novak Djokovic.

While I was finishing a dissertation, I had the pleasure to watch the game between Ana Ivanovic and Svetlana Kuznetsova. The first time I had seen Ivanovic was already in Roland Garros two years ago when she beat our Amélie Mauresmo (who, by the way, lost early this year also...) and she was only 17.
I haven't had the opportunity to see her much since that time, and I really think that she has matured quite a bit. She still has a very powerful serve and a powerful forehand, but she also looks more patient and more focused. In any case, her first set today was quite awesome. She also looks a bit thinner and athletic than she used to. I am sure she will have a bright future as a tennis player. I am looking forward to seeing her game against Maria Sharapova on Thursday. Arguably, they are the two most beautiful female players even though they are very different: Ivanovis is even sometimes called the "brune Sharapova". However, unlike Anna Kournikova who never won any tournaments, these two are going to win a lot of tournaments since they are awesome players. I know a lot of people dislike Maria, but she's such a great fighter on the court, she never gives up as her game against Schnyder shows (even though she is injured). However much I like Maria, I think Ana is going to win this game. Well, it is certainly going to be tough.

On to Novak. Djokovic is ranked 6th in the world at only 19 and is certainly the best player of the new generation, behind Rafael Nadal. I would love Richard Gasquet to earn this title, but despite all his raw talent, he is still too unstable.
Djokovic looks more mature, and in his game against Olivier Patience he showed an oncredible will to win. As he admitted later on, Patience was the better player on the court (yes, Djokovic is also very classy!) but he fought hard in the fourth and in the fifth and finally Patience made a few mistakes that allowed Djokovic to win the game.
I also predict him a bright future, even though the competition is very tough.
Finally, it is worth recalling that Jelena Jankovic is 22 and is ranked 4th in the world and also comes from Serbia: what an achievement for such a small (and formerly ravaged) country!
We, in France, are still waiting for such a generation of players.

EDIT: I wanted to add that Djokovic was supposed to have a tough game against Andreev, but I had some internet connection problems yesterday morning. Actually, he beat him quite easily and played very well. Andreev has the most powerful forehand off all players, but he is a bit limited whereas Djokovic did many different things on the court and had a good match plan against Andreev that worked perfectly!
I am looking forward to his match against Nadal, even though I don't think he can win. I hope he will at least tire him a bit before the final, hopefully against Federer. Then, who knows?

mardi 22 mai 2007

It's all over!

That's it, I didn't get the job at my university (see previous topic)!
What is more, my two friends didn't either! No locals were selected.
It is a very disappointing ending for us, above all after seeing that other universities had no qualms about selecting their locals. Well, at our university, it seems that it does not work like this anymore (because it used to!)

Now, I have to think about what I will do in the next few months and in a more distant future. For the moment, the disappointment is sill overwhelming!

dimanche 20 mai 2007

The incredible journey of a PhD student looking for an assistant professor (a.k.a "Maitre de Conférences" in French) job.

Here, I am going to talk about the ongoing process of finding a job as an assistant professor in Economics here in France. This is a very long, gruesome and costly process that started back in December. Let me explain (briefly) for those who are blissfully unaware of our wonderful university system.

One could think that actually completing the PhD is the hardest part. Well, it is, but things do not get easier once you are a doctor. Indeed, after completing my PhD (at the beginning of December), I had to collect an incredible amount of documents before the 14th of December, the dreaded deadline for the famous "qualification". What's the qualification you might ask? Well, basically, if you don't have it, you can't even apply for a job as a lecturer at a university.
Hence, you have to send (by mail...I mean snail mail!) those administrative documents as well as a copy of your PhD thesis (weighting 1.2 Kgs in my case, such that it costed around 9 euros per shipment) and your research papers to two "rapporteurs", whose role is to decide whether you are good enough or not. Around mid-february, you get the desired answer. In my case, I got the qualification, such that I was allowed to continue the process. Then, you have to wait a few more weeks to know to which university you can apply: this information is given in the very french JO, i.e. "Journal Officiel de la République Française (of the French Republic)", as well as the guidelines for submitting your dossier. Basically, you need still more administrative documents as well as some research ones (like a list of your publications, a detailed CV...). Then, for a single application to a given University, every single document must be put in 3 different envelops where you have written your name, your adress and the exact label of the job (as well as the if it wasn't obvious!). And this for every single application!. Oh, and I forget, you have to join an empty envelop (with your name, adress...) so that they can answer you. Hence, in my case, I had to write my name, adress...140 times (4 times the number of applications, that is 35)!!! Moreover, I also had to sign and date 3 documents in each envelop, that is I had to put my signature 315 times (3x3x35)!!!
Then, at last, your dossiers are complete, you only need to mail them which costs you 2.61 euros per dossier, which amounted to 80 euros in my case.

A few months later, that is, around the beginning of May, you start getting some answers and you know where and when you are to be interviewed. Well, actually the "when" part is still a bit random: for instance, I was asked in for an interview in Nantes at 9 a.m, as was one of my friend; it turned out that 5 people had been summoned at 9 a.m! Hence, I finally got interviewed at 10.30 and my friend at 11. The problem was that, thinking we were supposed to be interviewed early, we had a reservation (non cancellable, non reimbursable) for a train at noon. We had to take a taxi to arrive just in time! Moreover, my friend had arrived the day before to be sure to be on time, so she also had to pay for the hotel. Had she known that she was going to be interviewed at 11 a.m., she could have arrived by the first train in the morning, as I did.

In Bordeaux, we were all summoned at 8 a.m.! Yes, all of us: that is, at least 15 persons! Fortunately, we were able to say that we had a train at 11.30 and we were among the first to be interviewed. But I guess that some of our colleagues only got interviewed at noon or even in the afternoon!
I also went to Nice (a nice city in the South of France by the seaside) and everything went fine there. Except for a not-too helpful bus driver; indeed, I had to take a bus from the train station to the University. Beforehand, I had found one stop called "Clair de Lune" which seemed to be close to the University. As I climbed into the bus, I asked the bus driver : "You do stop at Clair de Lune don't you?". His answer, in his typical southern accent, was : " I don't know, I don't recall the names of the bus stops". Well, I almost asked him if he was a real bus driver, but I decided to remain polite, and I asked him whether he was going close to the Faculty of Law and Economics. Once again, he was not so sure. Despite all this, I made it in time for the interview which went rather well.

However, as well as the interviews might go, one must always be aware of the dreaded "local guy (or girl)"! What's a local guy you might ask? Well, it is simply the PhD student who has done his thesis in the university you are being interviewed. The problem is, at most small universities in provincial France there is only one job (at most) each year. Since there is also almost always a local guy, and since the local guy tends to be chosen for the job, it is not untypical to end in 2nd place in many universities! It didn't happen to me, but it happened to some persons I know. At least, when you are third or fourth, the pill is easier to swallow! Indeed, paying between 80 and 150 euros per interview (for the train and the hotel) and being beaten each time by the local guy must be really disappointing.

Well, as for me, I am interviewed tomorrow in my university and it is my last chance to get the job. You might think that, as I am the local guy, I must not worry. Above all since there are 3 assistant professor jobs! However, since my university is rather big, there are also 3 local girls; moreover, it seems that they won't select 3 locals (basically because it sends a bad signal to the market). Hence, I guess my future will be determined by a coin flip (I will certainly be up against my friend, and she deserves the job as much as I do!) like when you hold Ace-King in Texas Hold'em and you are up against an underpair.
Lately, I have not won many of these coin flips. I hope tomorrow it will change!

See you tomorrow then for the results.

samedi 19 mai 2007

Does the NBA reward losers?

Here it is: Dirk Nowitzky has been rewarded with the Most Valuable Player Award (or so-called "Maurice Podoloff Trophy") after the Mavericks' awesome season.
Well, awesome regular season (67-15), since the postseason ended in a flop. last year's postseason! I don't know which one was worst: losing the final against an Eastern team after winning the first two games, or losing 4-2 against the eighth seed. In both cases, Dirk "MVP" Nowitzki was pretty much non-existent. Well, he did show some moments of greatness, like this year in game 3 or 4 where he scored pretty much every point of his team in a final rush; but except from that game, he didn't play as an MVP would.

This leads to my point: Dirk is a loser, and a big one at that! He might be good in the regular season, but when the playoffs arrive, he is not there. When the difficult times come, he is not there. Who was the great defender that shut out Nowitzki in last year's final? Udonis Haslem? James Posey? Antoine Walker? Let me laugh! Ok, Dirk is a big guy that shoots well. That's great! But maybe he developped his shot because he was not physical enough to use is size; because, he is still not physical enough for a guy this size.

Now that I have ranted against Nowitzki, I am going to wonder why Kobe didn't get the trophy. The standard argument goes like this: "MVP means most valuable to your team. The Lakers sucked this year. So Kobe does not deserve the title." Well, excuse-me, but the argument sucks!
Why? First, the MVP is not supposed to reward a team, but a player. Isn't the championship supposed to reward the best team? And then, how can you compare the Lakers to the Mavs? I mean, come on, the Lakers' point guard is Smush Parker whereas the Mavs' is Jason Terry. Do I have to go through all the other match-ups? No, I don't need to. My point is that you cannot compare records. So you have to try to assess the impact of a player and compare it the the impact of another
player. I am not really sure that the NBA does that. Otherwise, they would never have voted for Dick. I am pretty certain that if the MAvs had built around Kobe instead of Dirk, by now they would be multiple NBA champions. Why? Because Kobe is a perennial winner! He just hates losing and he is a leader. Moreover, Kobe is versatile: he is not just the best scorer year after year (even though what he dis this year was
just awesome!), he is also a great defender. I don't know if we can say the same for Dirk.
A last consideration: at the beginning of his career, noone would have imagined that Dirk would be as good as he is today. However, as cunning as choosing Dirk was back then, I am not sure that building a franchise around him was such a great idea. Only time will tell whether I am wrong. I stick to my point for now: Dirk is a good player, but not a great one and he will never be!

Back to the MVP selection: I am starting to question the way the NBA chooses its MVP. Do they only look at the records? Well, in that case, the MVP contest is pretty much limited to 2 or 3 players but it is quite unfair. For instance, put the Lakers in the East, and they have at least the same record as the Cavaliers. If you only look at the records, Lebron James is not going to have one anytime soon whereas he has been quite valuable to his team the past few years!
If the MVP award goes to a good player and a good team, at least, we should find the said team either winning the championship or going into the finals. Well, if you look at the past years, the last time the team of the MVP went on to win the championship was the 2002-2003 San Antonio Spurs when Tim Duncan was MVP. Then, in 2000-2001, Allen Iverson was MVP and his Sixers lost to the Lakers in the NBA final. The year before, O'Neal was the MVP as the Lakers were winning their first championship of the 3-peat.
It turns out that, indeed, the MVP sometimes goes to a future NBA champion. But not for the past 4 years where the winner's team never even made it to the NBA finals (Kevin Garnett, Nash twice, and Nowitzki).
So maybe it's time for the NBA to start reconsidering the way it gives the MVP since it neither always reward the best team nor the best player.

Next year, if Kobe crosses the 100 points mark, he will get the award.
Maybe. If the Lakers have an higher than average winning percentage.
We will see.

Until next time, have fun with the soon-to-be Pistons-Spurs NBA final.

mercredi 16 mai 2007

Photo Review of the Asus U1F

We are here to talk about the new ultraportable from ASUS, the U1F. Basically, it's a 1.06 Ghz Core Duo, 1g RAM and 80 Gb HDD laptop, weighting around 1 kg! Oh, and did I say it comes with Vista professional installed?

As to the U1F looks , it is very stylish with a sleek black coating (so called "piano-lid) in the spirit of the LG chocolate phone, and black leather under the keyboard (where you rest your palms).
Admittedly, the black coating is a kind of "fingerprints-magnet", but there is a special tissue given by ASUS which can be used as a cleaner. There is also a LCD cleaning cloth. More generally, the ASUS bundle is, as usual, very generous, since you get two batteries (3-cells and 6-cells), a bluetooth mouse (black), a case for the U1F and the external DVD burner (which is a bit big, but at least draws power from the U1, so that you don't need any external power source).
Even the box where the U1F originally is very "classy". It is without doubts the most beautiful laptop I have ever own.

As to the performances, well, of course, because of the slow hard drive (4200rpm) and the not-too-powerful processor, this is not a beast. You won't get to play your latest 3D games either. The boot time is a bit slow to my liking, since it averages 2'30", but going out of hibernate only takes 40 seconds which is ok.
Actually, I expected it to be more slow than it is. I use it to compile LaTeX files with Emacs, or to run Mathematica files, draw graphs with Illustrator and it gets the job done, albeit a bit more slowly than my iMac. Opening Illustrator takes a bit of time, but hey, this is Adobe!

As to battery life, I haven't made any scientific test, but it seems than one can expect at most 2 hours with the 3-cell battery, and 4 hours with the bigger one with wifi on, and between 25 and 50% of brightness. I have installed RMclock to downclock it a bit, but I am not yet sure that it really helps.

As to the keyboard, I have to say that I am quite pleased with it. Back in the days when I had a 10"6 TR1MP, I found the keyboard quite small and not very practical. I don't know if the keyboard is bigger in the U1F, but although it is definitely not fully-sized, it is very convenient. I don't make that many typing mistakes, and I would even go as far as saying that I type faster on my U1F than on the regular keyboard of my iMac. Anyhow, I am not afraid of doing long typing sessions with the U1. I think it comes from that fact that the keys are conveniently spaced which reduces mistakes.

Finally, one note about the screen size and the resolution: I was fearing that it would be too small for me, but I like it in fact since the high resolution allows for a lot of screen estate. However, I have yet to use it for a day's work, and I guess that after such a long time it might get a bit tiring. But I got used to this resolution very quickly.

There is also a fingerprint reader and a webcam, but I have disabled the fingerprint since I don't use it, and I haven't really tried the camera. It looks like it might take decent pictures, but as to videos, I don't know. There are a lot of options and settings that I haven't had time to explore yet.

I will post more comments as I get to discover it a bit more and I have more time! Next week, I will certainly try to install Linux on it, either Ubuntu or Sabayon.

Overall, I can say that I am quite pleased with Uranie. Oh yeah, I have named her Uranie because the U1 really is girl-like in my opinion, since she is so small and so pretty. My girlfriend does not really agree, but hey, this is my call.

EDIT: new pics and a link towards a french forum about the U1F:

Also, I forgot to say that there is a memory card reader which reads SD card, and MS pro.

lundi 14 mai 2007

A bit of humor to start this blog!

Since I am in a gloomy mood (more on that later!), I thought that I might look for some humor on the net. Here are a few funny things:

And a link:

It contains some pretty hilarious jokes, even though I can't find one of my favorite which is something like : " Chuck Norris once visited the Virgin Islands. They are now called the Islands."