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26 Feb 2002 :: Another report about our trip to Chisinau has been put out... [ more.. ]

09 Oct 2002 :: Finally, my dear readers, I got around to updating you with some news. I cannot tell you how many times during these three weeks I thought maybe I should run a text editor and voila! a new note would be ready... [ more.. ]

26 Mar 2002 :: Knowing that I like heavy music in general and black-metal particulary a good friend of mine has forwarded me a funny story about it. It's in Russian, so if you speak it, follow this link... [ more.. ]

[ 14th May 2002 ] mountains. mice. squirrels | 1 comments | leave a comment

Hello, dear readers. From the moment of writing the last news item about 22 days have passed. I've got a lot of news and impressions, and I suspect it won't be an easy task to tell about all of them.

First of all, on the 27th April the counter of my age had increased by one. This means that if yours sincererelly was living, say, in the US, today would be only the 18th day it was officialy allowed for him to drink beer. Fortunatelly neither in Ukraine nor in Romania there are no such laws, thus the celebration itself went with huge quantities of the drink.

The event was celebrated on the outside place of the "Casa Pogor" restaurant here in Iasi. I remember my inviting many people, but didn't really expect such a lot of them to come. It was a real surprise to see the amount of friends I managed to make here during these 7 months. There were about 30 people so the party cost me a pretty penny. No that much though. Everything was great. Among the gifts were an ass made of porcelain (it's now in my room on the wall), a cap a-la Lenin, a chess set, etc. I was also glad to see my foreign friend. Mikhail specially came from Chisinau for several days to celebrate my birthday. He brought a bottle of Transdnistrian cogniac of 10 years, and an optical mouse. With the latter some events of the recent days are connected.

my new mouse :) Hoping that my old box had USB, I bought a cable and found looking very USB-like pins on the motherboard. However, after the experiments with connecting the new mouse .. the keyboard stopped working. The following kept on happening. BIOS started to boot, then stopped with a couple of lines of insultments about keyboard. There were two possibilities: either the keyboard had got broken or I had no working motherboard anymore. After trying with another keyboard, it appeared that the time to upgrade had come. The latter I'd been going to make a long ago, but there never was any urgence. So finally, at the local "Computer House" store the K7S5A motherboard and AMD Athlon 950MHz processor were bought. I also bought a new case so that not to mess with inserting the new guts into the old one. You know, sometimes cases are not enough compatible with motherboards and connectors. Frankly speaking, I had never able to insert a motherboard into a case well enough. It was also nice to see a shop-girl at the store with quite an outstanding bust. I was a bit shocked, for when I asked "Who can I speak with about some perpherials here?" she answered "With me". And she really knew it! So now I'm writing these words with the new hardware, which can also be used to write programs. For example, compilation of centericq doesn't take half an hour anymore. As far as I understand, it's also possible to watch movies in DivX format. And the pleasure of using the new mouse is just second to none.

Let's now get back to the birthday. Want to thank everyone who wasn't lazy to write a couple of lines to the old buddy. I was suprised by the originality of the majority of the greetings. I've quoted some of them in the Russian version of this news item, and here only one greeting in English is quoted further.

From: The centericq.de team
The centericq.de team wishes Konstantin a happy birthday. Tanks for the best instant messager around and the best wishes for the years to come.

As a side note, chat-mode was commited to cvs yesterday and it plain rocks.

Thank you, my dears.

our route A day after the main event (it would be a torture to carry on the next day) we had a trip to mountains planned. It would be a real pity not to visit intresting places living in a nice country and having everything needed, like money and two free days week-ends. Finally we gathered a small company for travelling through Romania and decided to open the season. Initially we were going to visit Cheile Bicazului, but after some explorations of the CRF (Romanian railways) site we changed our destination point to Vatra Dornei - a small touristic town in Carpathians. The way there from Iasi appeared to be not that long: about 5 hours by train without any change points. It was the first time in my life I saw mountains. During the two days all of us (my colleague, his brother with a friend and two girls) got impressions like it was a week or even more.

On whole the way we met people who spoke Russian. It started at the boarding time. There were several guys sitting in our compartment when we came. One of them heard our speaking Russian, and following the tradition which I described in previous news, said several words he knew from school. Something like "you are welcome" or "hello". Then asked (in Romanian) if I was Romanian, obviously thinking I was from Moldavian Republic. The point is that in Romania everyone who can speak Russian and Romanian is Moldavian. Having in mind their recent events when "nationally conscious" people were gathering in the main square to cry out "communists out" and "we are Romanians", Moldavians are called Romanians. Seemed like my answer "no" shocked the man, and he left our compartment since he was sitting on a place of ours.

After we took our places, two remained free. We were six and every compartment of the second class had eight. So, two guess who? right, Moldavians came. From Ungheni, a small town on the Romanian border. Here in Iasi a lot of people exactly from that town. The guys were heading to visit someone in a village in the mountains. And of course, they were speaking Russian without a problem too. Got off two ours earlier than us.

As we were coming closer to Vatra Dornei, i.e. as soon as we entered Carpathians, the views outside the window became extremely picturesque. Hills covered with forest, and the architecture changed. In general there were little white houses with brown elements of wood. Here and there were small rivers going down from mountains. An awful thing to see were trash piles and areas with completely chopped out trees.

In the same place, in the train I made another discovery. Actually it happened in the train's toilet. During my first visit to the place I wanted to use a water tap but couldn't find a usual thingie which you have to push up somehow so that the water flaws. Obviously, I made a conclusion that there were no water. But some time passed and my colleague - Victor, had returned from the same place with his hands washed. When I asked how he had managed to do this, all of my friends started laughing. It appeared that in Romanian trains the water tap is opened in a more friendly way. You just have to push a pedal under the wash-bowl with a foot and not with what is being washed. Amazing.

So, we were going, watching the mountains beauty around us, until we reached the destination. Nope, the beauty didn't end, but now we could also touch it and walk on it. Finding accomodation appeared to be not a difficult task at all. Right on the train station while we were thinking were to go an elderly man came to us and proposed rooms in his own house. The price was 100.000 lei (3$) for a person per day. It included hot water, shower, TV and a possibility to cook something in the kitchen. As far as I understand the price was that low because the season hadn't come and hords of tourists like in the winter or summer haven't appeared yet. Also, when the man heard us speak Russian he said he was also able to speak it. After this he switched to an impossible mix of Romanian and Russian. Frankly, he would be much easier to understand if he spoke only Romanian.

We would settle at the guy's house, which appeared to be a really good place. But the spirit of adventure didn't leave us. Thus, we decided to search for something closer to the forest. There were several houses on the mountainsides and we asked almost in every of them. However, we got only negative responses, the houses were private and noone there had rooms for tourists. There also was one tourist center with houses of wood, but it would be too cold there in the night. Night temperature was about 0C, it was colder in the mountains than in Iasi. We found one house with a bit worse interior and a bit higher price, and a hotel with a real Soviet type of attitude! I always feel like crying when I see something like this, sincerelly :) We were not upset at all. Ok, I'll tell you more about the case. In a very nice place near the forest we found a hotel, with "Iasi" in its name so I hoped to talk to them like to compatriots, from the same city :) We entered into the hall and found nobody, then went to a dinning room and noticed a lady reading a book there. "Buna seara" - said I, "cautam cazare" (good evening, we're looking for a settlement). The lady immediately answered without turning her head with the following information. First, she said the price of the most expensive rooms in the hotel (not that a lot in fact), and that they had neither hot water nor heating. And after this continued reading. Finally, we decided to go to the man we met at the railway station. Left our stuff there, went to a restaurant to eat fried brain and to drink boiled wine. Even there, when a waitress heard the language we were speaking, in 3 minutes the "kazachok" melody started playing. We were the only clients that evening, so probably they wanted to amuse us. And managed to. Then we went to back to have some sleep. For the next day a town exploration trip and a picnic in forest had been planned..

That's what I call life! I woke up being just another being. Nothing remained from yesterday's tiredness. But the day before I got up early, having slept only 4 hours, then the train, looking for rooms.. The same wondefull metamorphose happened to my friends too. That's why with the refreshed enegry we head on to the town. For a breakfast chosed a bar from the dairy integrated plant. There is a big one in Vatra Dornei, its production can be found in shops all over the country.

I found the central park the most intresting place in the town. Traditionally, an alley with busts of famous people was finished by bust of the poet Eminescu. The park then was transforming into forest as we went up the hill. Nearby we saw some squirrels in winter furs, a bit ragged because of moulting, but however they were very active. After I came near they appeared to be tame. One of them approached me, I stretched my hand, it smelled the hand and ran away because I didn't have anything intresting to eat. Quite ususual, because such tame squirrels as well as tame pigeons in Kharkov are rare. I remember only in childhood there were such pets in our parks.

We had only one day in Vatra Dornei, so it would be a pity not to go for a picnic to the Carpathian forest. I wasn't surprised anymore when at the market a man selling potatoes talked Ukrainian to me, though with a major Hungarian touch. It wasn't that easy to understand him, but it also wan't really necessary. Smiled, bought some potatoes and left. As a meat for barbeque we took chiken legs, for they didn't need any preparation before frying, were fast to cook and tasted well. If someone didn't know, it's strongly recommended. As soon as we came back home, the landlord nicely provided us with all the needed stuff from matches to gratar (grill). In the same time it appeared that the man had been a director of a local timber mill and quite frequently travelled to the ex-USSR.

It's really difficult to describe the beauty of the Carpathian forest, specially for a professional programmer like me. Do you know this old joke, about pirate computer games - "scored by professional programmers" ;) Carpathian forest is a must-see thing. Enormous pine trees, sharp slopes that are really hard to climb up to after every day computer and/or bar sitting. Fauna is also ok there judging from a shit of elks which I found :)

The way back was long. We mixed up something with the trans schedule and in the work day of 1st May (we worked on it instead of the 3rd) without going home to change the clothes, having ate some sandwiches at McDonald's headed to work. Before we arrived to Iasi, in the train we hardly didn't die of hunger, because noone sold food there. Unlike our railways, here even on the stations food usually is not being sold. One on a big one we managed to buy something eatable at a store.

Actually, that's all about the trip. Photos are ready but I don't know when I find a good scanner here. We got a lot of impressions from the mountains and now I feel addicted to the place. We are definitely going to visit some more places here in Carpathians. And if some of the readers are going to spend a vacation in East Europe, then instead of Bulgary wich introduced quite costly visas recently I recommend to consider Romania. Very beautiful country, but surprisingly not popular among our (Russian and Ukrainian) tourists.

An amusing and at the same time a little shocking thing I found out recently. It's a Romanian orthodoxian tradition. After someone dies and gets burried, in 7 years a coffin is digged out, opened and the bones are watered with some red wine. Practiced almost in every family. I'm courious if it's possible to get invited to such a party by someone?

I wonder why about publications authors of covered programs always find out from readers of respective magazines and not from their editorial stuff. Kalle Sandberg told me that centericq had took the first place in the IM programs comptetition of the Swedish Datormagazin. The article itself is in Swedish (here it's possible to see a scanned page), and the translation of the paragraph looks the following way: CenterIcq has the highest version number of all four ICQ programs in the test. It takes the victory because of it is so userfriendly and at the same time it has many features and has a clear and nice layout.. It also supports the Yahoo and MSN protocols. (in fact it is the only ICQ prog I have found supporting the MSN protocol). You have support for sound. It is easy to change name of the persons you have in your contactlist. You also have a good helpmenu for shortcommands. The magazine finds nothing negative in this program. The magazine recoomends the program to people who wants to have a multifunctional ICQ-client in textmode for Linux. Glad to know. Thanks you, Kalle, for the information. Otherwise I would never know such things happen.

Well, and if we started speaking about publications.. Recenly the new issue of the argc & argv magazine was released, with my article about the GNU development tools. The article had a hard destiny. Initially it had been written for the American C/C++ Users Journal, was published at the linux.com site, and then was translated (by myself) into Russian. Finally, it's on the paper. If you are eager to have the paper version, you can order the issue using this page.

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