Ultra(fail)book

For starters, let’s get this out of the way. I know that now is not the time to buy an ultrabook. Intel’s next-generation Haswell CPU technology is just around the corner and they ‘ll bring with them huge gain in battery life and substantial performance improvements. However, I badly need a portable machine (although, to be fair, that was also the case six months ago).

As a result, I’ve been looking around these last few weeks but results have been disappointing and the inadequacies of the Greek market make matters worse. Even if I waited for Haswell, it will surely take a considerable amount of time for the new models to be available in Greece. Moreover, they will be, at least for the first few months, really expensive. Pair this with the prices of some Sandy Bridge equipped machines currently on the market and it’s hard to believe that prices will drop anytime soon. As if the above were not enough, the available choices in Greece are dramatically reduced in comparison to other countries and – surprise, surprise – the prices tend to be higher.

Nonetheless, I’ve found a couple of ultrabooks within my budget that I’d be happy to own given the right configuration. Check them out:

The problem is that the first one is only available with an i3 Ivy Bridge CPU while the second’s only affordable configuration (900 euros) sports a Sandy Bridge i5.

Have your say people! Do you own any of these machines? Would you wait or buy now? Do you have another recommendation? Buy within budget or break the bank? Maybe I should rethink matters and go for a laptop? At least the options there seem to be more affordable.

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CV Parade(ise)

CV Parade(ise)

My resume needs a makeover badly so I’ve been looking around for resume ideas lately. Surprisingly, I had only found a handful of interesting resumes for inspiration. That is, until I found CV Parade, a blog that collects great looking CVs from minimal to outright ridiculous.

On course

I had – actually, I still have – so many things to do these days, since I always put them off until after graduation. Some of them I’ve already started – like this blog -, others not so. Here I share my experience with a couple of the former. Even though both of them are online learning courses they have less in common than you might think.

Semantic Web Technologies, Hasso Plattner Institut, University of Potsdam

As a matter of fact, I had no intention to start a course so soon after graduating. Even though I find the vision of the Semantic Web really exciting, I thought I could do with some time off. The fact that the course wasn’t hosted on the best known online education platforms (Udacity and Coursera) didn’t help either and I can’t say I was familiar with the University of Potsdam. Moreover, I had already studied the subject partly during my time in Uni, although, admittedly, I wasn’t content with what I had learned.

The course consists of six lectures. It starts off with the limitations of the World Wide Web followed by the vision of the Semantic Web. The main part consists of the knowledge representations and logics used to enable the Semantic Web and the course concludes with a peek at existing applications built over semantic data. Heck, it’s as if you only get to see the interesting parts of a generic University course on knowledge representations! I found this refreshing and together with the really helpful presentations and great learning material the course was a great success. The only minor setback was that the homework was focused on the theoretical aspect.

To sum up, even though I have experienced similar courses in person and – admittedly different ones – from some really well known Universities online, I’m really happy to admit that the course was on a par with the best ones.  If the subject interests you, you should definitely give it a try.

Hack Design

And now for something completely different. Hack Design is not a course per se but you get to learn just as much, in a more laid back approach.As the name denotes, its goal is to educate hackers about design.

Here, you won’t be seeing your regular studying material, with blog posts, videos and even games taking an important part. It’s much more a case of having accomplished designers sharing content with you than enrolling in a lecture. As such, it is brilliant and right to the point.

After a much needed introductory lesson, the course deals with typography, UX, UI, Graphic Design and Mobile, covering the most important aspects of design. Thankfully, there is no strict schedule, allowing you to take the course at your own pace.

In my experience, most people (not just hackers) would benefit greatly from such a course. Especially me fellow CS students are found lacking in design matters and it’s a great chance to catch up.

While we’re on the matter, a really interesting thing that came to prominence this week were Mozilla Open Badges. It’s a really great initiative in my opinion and I hope that more and more online courses will eventually adopt them. Of course, the motivation for learning should be independent and impartial but It’s great having a form of certification for things you put effort and time to learn.

PS. I’ve also started learning Python recently although not through an online course. I intended to write about this, too, but I think I’ll leave it for the next post. Besides, it won’t take that long to come.

Hello world!

Well then, how does one start? I guess this is your typical first blog post where I clarify my intentions… The problem is, I don’t really have something specific in mind. Mostly I’ll be writing about things that interest me – for a quick taste check out the ‘About’ page. Maybe I’ll even comment on current affairs sometimes (don’t take this for granted). And now that I took this out of the way let me try to convince myself that I’m not doing something stupid.

Why do I want to start a blog? At this point in time it’s got more to do with personal development than having something important to say. I’ve been thinking of starting a blog for quite some time now but i was constantly put off by the same things that still reinforce my doubts. How can I start a blog if I can’t be bothered to tweet frequently?! But so it happened, in an unexpected turn of events I stumbled upon two different but equally inspiring posts just when I found some free time.

In a post about his experience making the transition between development and design, P. J. Onori says it better than i could possibly do:

However, at some point (preferably earlier than it is comfortable for you), it will be important to start formulating those points of view to an audience. Thoughts kept in your head have the luxury of being biased, irrational or simply flawed. Communicating those thoughts to an audience and opening them up to scrutiny forces us to improve our thinking. Writing well is also essential to practising design. I’ve done some of my best learning through writing on my blog. I would suggest blogging as the first step towards sharing your ideas.

That same week, in a post by Caterina Fake, I saw another incentive:

Back in the early days of this blog, after the weekend, I’d write about what I did the week before in an unordered list. This pressured me to do interesting things, which was a good thing, and reflect on them. Also a good thing. So this post is an effort to get back into the habit.

I think you get the idea by now. I seriously don’t enjoy it but the truth is that I thrive on pressure. Pair this with the aforementioned benefits of writing and a chance to refresh / sharpen my english and here I come!

PS. I know there’s nothing in the ‘About’ page yet! This will change soon together with the domain and blog title. Stay posted!