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Thanks but no thanks

Poštovani g. Žutelija,

čitam u Jutarnjem listu Vaše tekstove o Tomi Horvatinčiću, aktivistima i borbi za srce Zagreba. Čitam, čitam i ne mogu se načitati.

U istom tom Jutarnjem listu doznajemo da Luka Bebić traži glasnogovornika. Tomo Horvatinčić ga je, po svem sudeći, našao u liku i djelu Željka Žutelije. Svaki bizarni argument, svaku izmišljotinu i zamjenu teza koje nam uglađeni Tomo u svojim jahačkim čizmama ne stigne podastrijeti u “Otvorenom” Vi nam, g. Žutelija, prezentirate iz tjedan u tjedan na novinskom papiru padajuće naklade. Do sada sam se oko toga žestio privatno, gunđao u društvu prijatelja i poznanika a povremeno i polemizirao u zaštićenim vrtovima Facebook stranica našeg zajedničkog poznanika i prijatelja Ozrena Kanceljaka.

Danas ste me, ipak, potaknuli da se uhvatim tipkovnice i po prvi put na ovom blogu napišem nekoliko riječi na hrvatskom. Nisam mogao odoljeti iz jednostavnog razloga što se se danas, dragi g. Žutelija, založili i za mene, uzeli ste i moju malenkost u zaštitu. “Ne pucajte u poduzetništvo!” Divnog li i nadahnjujućeg naslova. Hrvatskom je poduzetništvu, opterećenom golemim i neefikasnim državnim aparatom i koječim drugim, doista potrebna medijska podrška. No, na ovakvoj podršci Vam se, kao poduzetnik, naljubaznije zahvaljujem. Zadržite je, molim Vas, za sebe – pravim poduzetnicima Vaša pomoć nije potrebna. Želite li braniti Tomicu Horvatinčića, eto Vam sva širina Jutarnjeg i Interneta pa ga branite, zastupajte i portparolirajte koliko god Vam srce želi.

Tomo Horvatinčić može biti simbol poduzetništva samo sebi i, možda, Vama. Njegov poduzetnički model potrošen je poput političke karijere njegovog najvjernijeg saveznika, Milana pl. Bandića. Poduzetnički model Horvatinčića sukladan je poslovnom modelu hrvatskog nogometa, u kojemu je i sam svojedobno bio istaknuta figura. Spletke i intrige, zaklinjanje u pravnu državu a zapravo korištenje pravne države i novaca poreznih obveznika kao kase uzajamne pomoći, specijalci koji su jučer tukli Dinamove navijače a danas hapse mirne prosvjednike kao “pomoć komunalnim redarima” – sve to, i još toliko toga, doživljavali smo i trpili godinama i desetljećima od Bandića, Horvatinčića i njima sličnih.

Ne zavaravam se da s gašenjem političke zvijezde Milana Bandića dolazi neki vrli novi svijet. No ipak – korak po korak, mic po mic čini se da se bližimo nekom normalnijem, pravednijem i civiliziranijem društvu. Pravi poduzetnici u novim okolnostima odahnut će ako razina korupcije padne, ako se poslovi budu mogli transparentnije sklapati i ako se bude moglo normalnije poslovati. Tomo Horvatinčić ne spada u one kojima će takve okolnosti ići na ruku. On nije poduzetnik za kojega bi svom sinu rekao: vidiš, mali, ima smisla učiti i naporno raditi. On je simbol poduzetništva jednako kao što je Silvio Berlusconi simbol civiliziranog i naprednog političara – farsa, groteska, tragikomična figura, ali figura koja je u stanju zakopati Italiju u blato korupcije, ili, u našem slučaju, devastirati samo središte jednog malenog, ali meni dragog, srednjeeuropskog i balkanskog grada.

Držite se, gospodine Žutelija, čvrsto Vašeg favorita Horvatinčića. Ne poznam ni Vas niti njega, ali vjerujem da će biti prilike da Vam barem skuha rižoto koji mu, navodno, dobro ide. A nas poduzetnike pustite na miru. Bit će nam drago da nas mediji podrže, promoviraju, pa i kritički pišu o našim poslovnim uspjesima i neuspjesima. Izazova i prepreka u poslovanju nam ne nedostaje, ali braniteljima poduzetništva kao što ste Vi i tekstova kao što je ovaj o “pucnju u poduzetništvo” nam doista ne treba. U svoje osobno ime, ali, vjerujem, i u ime brojnih kolega iz čudnovate poduzetničke šume, mogu Vam samo reći “thanks but no thanks”.

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The weight of air

My son came home from school (2nd grade high school) with a question for me: How much does a cubic meter of air weigh? Or, more precisely, what is the mass of a cubic meter of air, at sea level, at 20 degrees Centigrade?

He had successfully solved a physics problem in class, and as a consequence of his calculations it turned out that the mass of one cubic meter of air is, approximately, a little more than one kilogram. I was totally surprised and said that this can’t be right, but his teacher, his textbook and the ultimate authority for everything – the Internet – had apparently already confirmed this (he checked all three).

I thought he might be wrong and had to check for myself. Well, sure enough, there it was on Wikipedia in black letters on a white background – 1.204 kg/m3.

I decided to do a Twitter and Facebook poll with my dear followers / friends. I found the results really interesting.

Poll results: What is the mass of 1 m3 of air?

The answers were evenly split amongst the two extreme values – 1 gram and 1 kilogram, with 10 and 100 gram answers getting relatively few votes ( I asked in the poll question to please vote / answer without Googling first). This neck-and-neck pattern of the two opposed answers was quite consistent throughout the answering period, regardless of the number of votes.

What does this really mean? I don’t really know. I might guess that a number of voters knew this answer from before (Danica a.k.a NikiBGD was *shocked* that people would not know this .-)), getting it right, and that the ones answering “one gram” went after their intuitive guess – as I almost certainly would have done.

For me, this is just one more example of the scientific facts being really, really different from what we might expect from our own experience.

Also, it was my most-answered poll so far (it *did* take one FB posting & several tweets over a few days and thanx to all who retweeted) and also a welcome opportunity to squeeze one more blog post into the last hours of this February.

Take care y’all – comments welcome, particularly from those who noted that blog comments might be a more appropriate forum for a discussion than FB 🙂

Two faces of Zagreb

It was fascinating and saddening to see and experience the two faces of Zagreb in the span of 24 hours.

Yesterday, Feb 10th, I joined thousands of protesters fighting against the destruction of Zagreb’s historical center. During the night, at 3.30 in the morning, special forces moved in, arrested 23 peaceful protesters and destroyed a beautiful wooden “Trojan horse” because the mayor of Zagreb could not stand the sight of this symbol of corruption staring him straight in the face.

Today, MiniSeedCamp was organized in Zagreb. 20 fantastic high tech startup teams from all over the region came together and showed the potential and enthusiasm of Southeast Europe’s high tech enterpreneurs. All of us at the event agreed that the creativity, innovation and energy was fantastic and inspiring.

So, in one day Zagreb sunk to a new low of special forces acting against peaceful protesters and reached a new high of becoming, if even for a day, the high tech capital of the European startup scene.

It’s really great to be part of the latter. But I could not help but be part of the former as well.

Mail syncing on the little #Hero

These posts are not usually very techie – I try to leave that to my geeky friends. So if I’m not being precise enough in the text, please refer to sentence 1 of this document.

I’ve been using the Android-powered HTC Hero for some time now, and I have to report that I’m a very happy and satisfied customer. Even disregarding my own experience, I think HTC is doing an amazing job in transforming itself from an anonymous OEM manufacturer of mobile devices into one of the leading, if not *the* leading smartphone-focused handset manufacturer in terms of positioning and strategy. Kudos to Peter Chou and his team for that. (it’s *never* just one guy, not Steve Jobs, not Bill Gates, not Larry Ellison. that’s just the way the media likes to paint the picture).

Anyway, back to the Hero. One of the things that were important to me – vital, actually – was Exchange / Outlook integration. That’s what my business email runs on, that’s where my contacts and calendar are. So that was a first priority. Prior to deciding on the device, I checked multiple sources – web sites, reviews, called the local HTC distributor. All these sources confirmed that Exchange integration was built-in, out of the box, and that I wouldn’t have to download or install any additional syncing software. Mind you – that wouldn’t have been such a huge problem but this was definitely better.

All these sources were proven right. Unpacking the phone when I got it, one of the first things I did was activate the Exchange integration. The procedure walked me through, and the only thing I needed to bother my colleagues in the office about was 2 or 3 fields asking about host & domain names. We could have done that on the phone but they were more than happy to stop by my office and take a look at the then-new little machine.

Anyway – that was all done in 5 minutes or so, as wass the GMail part which was even easier, only needing my Google account details. The default setup arranges for GMail and Outlook to be used from different, separate email clients and that’s exactly how I prefer it. Needless to say, I’m sure I could use a single client for both, or find a more sophisticated one than the default offering, etc. etc. However so far these two work fine for me and I’m not particularly inspired to hunt the Android Market for something else.

Syncing both Outlook and GMail is very easy and fully wireless – no docking stations or cables needed. In the phone’s setup menu, I define the preferred syncing frequencies – every 15 minutes for Outlook in my case – and that’s all there is to it. Of course plugging into my home and office WiFi networks saves money, and sometimes out of curiosity I look to see what’s available in public spaces. Waiting at the car wash a few days ago, one of the open networks’ names was “N00b pwnd!” – probably best not to connect to that one I guess.

So, if you’re in the market for an Android smarphone, and Exchange / Outlook integration and syncing is important to you, look no further than the HTC Hero. Oh, and by the way, amazing as it may seem it comes with Google Maps included as well 😉

“Walking” songs

Some time ago I posted “Top 9 Day-named songs”. Here’s another list for your listening pleasure – new suggestions are welcome. Songs that have some form of “walking” in the title, click on the performer’s names to listen to the songs below.

(Update – some of these are reader contributions, thanx to all and keep’ em comin’ 🙂  Just one small request – try and refrain from searching the Net (bad form, old chap!), think of songs you know without benefit of Search)

1. Just walking in the rain (Johnnie Ray)

2. Walking in the rain (Grace Jones)

3. These shoes were made for walkin’ (Loretta Lynn)

4. Walking after midnight (Cowboy Junkies)

5. Walking my baby back home (Johnnie Ray)

6. Walk on the wild side (Lou Reed)

7. I walk the line (Johnny Cash)

8. Walking on broken glass (Annie Lennox)

9. Walkin’ on sunshine (Eddie Grant)

10. Walk away (Tom Waits)

11. Walk on (U2)

12. Catwalk (Mal Waldron)

13. Walking on the moon (Police)

14. Walking in Memphis (Marc Cohn)

15. You’ll never walk alone (Gerry and the Pacemakers)

16. Walk of life (Dire Straits)

17. Walk on by (Dionne Warwick)

18. Just a closer walk with thee (Preservation Hall Jazz Band)

19. Walking in my shoes (Depeche Mode)

20. Walk this way (Run DMC w/ Aerosmith)

21. Walk like an Egyptian (Bangles)

22. Walking after you (Foo Fighters)

23. Walk like a man (Four Seasons)

24. Walking in space (Hair)

25. Walking on the water (The Blue Velvets

26. Walter’s walk (Led Zepellin)

27. Walk in my shadow (Free)

28. Walking the dog (Rolling Stones)

29. Walk (Pantera)

The traveler

I met David yesterday at Kolding – a popular and comfortable cafe in central Zagreb.

David is from Seattle. He’s been living outside the US since 2000, 7 years in Tanzania and then Europe. You can find out all about him on his blog. Steve Carlson, a mutual friend, introduced us over email and we had a really nice chat over a few glasses of beer & wine. One of David’s passions is photography, and I really liked the pics he took of Zagreb.

I was fascinated to hear that David has embarked on a one year journey through some decidedly non-touristic countries, starting from the Balkans and heading for Central Asia through Turkey, Middle East, India and then back around again through the Caucasus. Yesterday, when we met, was only his 4th day, so I was kind of honored to be “Present at the Creation“, as Dean Acheson would have said.

Anyway, like I mentioned, for the first leg of this journey David will be wandering and traveling through my home region – the Balkans. As I write this he’s in Slovenia, and then plans to head down the Dalmatian coast, into Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, and then through Macedonia and Greece to Turkey and onwards.

When he leaves Macedonia, he’s on his own as far as I’m concerned. But until then, I’d like to ask some friends I know to help him on his way. As far as I can understand, the most valuable help I and my network can provide is getting to know people on the way. Traveling, after all, is often about learning about the places you are visiting, and learning about places means learning about people and getting to know them.

Here’s an example: I mentioned to David that my family is from the small coastal town of Jelsa on the island of Hvar and that in a few days it will be olive harvest season. He was thrilled and explained how in Seattle, his home town, everyone he knows does all of their cooking with olive oil and that they often buy different kinds of olives and enjoy them very much. Now, with a little planning, he might go down to Jelsa to witness and perhaps help out with the olive harvest. I also told him about the phenomenon of Medjugorje, which has become ove the years a pilgrimage site for Catholics around the world. Although I am not religious myself, I went there recently with some friends as part of a road trip to see for myself the small town where more than a million pilgrims come each year to seek spirituality. He probably wouldn’t have learned about Medjugorje from the usual travel guides.

So I’ll be asking some of my friends, particularly from the Twittersphere, to get in touch with David on his journey, to share a cup of coffee or beer or wine or whatever the local brandy is called in their country or town, and to tell him stories about where they live and what he might want to do and who he might need to meet at this stop and the next. If we get going on Twitter, I suggest the hashtag #travelerdavid…

Together, maybe we can make one traveler’s journey more interesting and exciting and have fun ourselves as well!

Sturdy stuff

One of the things that really annoys me with today’s consumer electronics is the low build quality and “throw away, buy new” attitude of manufacturers. Printers, DVD players, whatever – whenever something breaks down it doesn’t make sense to try and fix it, you are simply encouraged to dump it and get a new one.

This kind of attitude first developed in US manufacturing in the 60’s. American companies realized their products (cars, TV’s etc.) were too long lasting. Consumers were not motivated to buy frequently enough, so better to make lower cost, lower quality products and have those people coming back for more. Demming tried to preach quality to the corporations and was dismissed, as the old saying goes (at least in Croatia) “Preaching to your own is a waste of time”. But the Japanese welcomed Demming warmly, embraced quality manufacturing and the rest is history: RIP US manufacturing companies, entire industries including home electronics, cars etc.

Well I got me a nice little HTC Hero smartphone recently. I think the development and strategy of HTC, led by Peter Chou, has been remarkable. But not to dwell on the details… A few people have asked me to relate my experience with this device and I’ll try to find the time to do that. But for today, just a quick testimonial as to one aspect which I value very highly: build quality.

So… I’m getting out of my car in the garage. Clumsy as I am, holding too many things in too few hands (car keys, home keys, etc.) I drop my little HTC Hero straight to the concrete garage floor. Arrrgghhh! I’m not a gadget site blogger / reviewer to get a free replacement… BAM! It hits the floor, the battery lid pops off to one side… I pick up the little device, put the lid back on, dust it off… It’s working perfectly! Not even a shutdown, power off, nothing. No scratches or any traces, just wiping off the concrete dust.

Big kudos to HTC for making this a well built, solid, robust piece of hardware!