New Year – reviews and resolutions

I have re-written this post more than five times already. I am not any good with neither reviews, nor resolutions. My memory is too short for reviews. And digging through archives of this blog takes time. And there is too much potential for nostalgia crying. Resolutions are even worse. I am terrible at planning, and more so at following the plans.

Therefor, after the fifth rewrite, I decided to make it short.

Here are five most significant things that happened in 2006:

  1. I stopped engaging in drunk driving. Except for a couple of times.
  2. I lost a lot of weight (about 20 kg) via diets and exercises.
  3. I quit my job and started my own business.
  4. I visited my homeland country (Russia) after staying away for 9 years.
  5. I connected a few people with Internet technology (blogging, social networks, photography and image sharing). Most of them now use it on their own, and seem a tiny bit happier. (Or I like to think so)

It was a great year – better than most years that I remember.

Here are three things that I expect to happen in 2007 (remember ,I’m terrible at planning):

  1. Paperwork for my family should be resolved or lightened a lot. There is plenty to look for now – Olga’s and Maxim’s citizenship, my brother’s long term residency permit, my mother’s something (she’s still choosing her path, I guess).
  2. My business should go up and identify itself. There are way too many people involved already, for it to grow slowly. Too many smart people, I should add.
  3. I should start travelling. I have the freedom of movement now and it’s about time I use it. Going back to Russia doesn’t count. I should see some Europe (UK, Germany, Spain, Italy, France, etc), and some Asia (China and something else). Maybe not all of them this year, but I should start already.

The coming year is going to be very interesting, no matter how it will turn out. There’s so much stuff going on, starting up, and dying out, that there is just no way for this to be a boring “like any other” year.

Happy New Year to all of you! My best wishes to you and your close ones. Have a nice time, celebrate the midnight, eat and drink, make some noise, and so on and so forth. I’ll see in the New Year.

P.S.: This post is in part a response to group blogging at Cyprus Blog Network.

BasKet Note Pads

Just by accident I found out about BasKet Note Pads only a few days ago. BasKet Note Pads is a KDE-based notes application. Until now I’ve tried a couple of dozens of diffirent programs and left it at kNotes. kNotes is a simple and fast way to take notes (think: yellow sticky paper). But it’s too simple for my needs.

Others that I’ve tried were either slow, remote, poorly integrated with my environment, or unreliable. I won’t even go into listing them all here.

BasKet Note Pads, on the other hand, is something I was looking for. It’s fast and simple, as kNotes. But it also has a whole bunch of features. Mostly I needed a way to group notes, and to collaps and expand them as I needed. Also, I thought, some sort of tree structure would be nice.

BasKet Note Pads do have all that. And more. I’m already hooked on tagging and quick searching. Drag-n-drop and keyboard support is great. And there is also support for different media formats – texts, images, sound files, URLs, and so on. Notes can be exported into HTML files. And they can also be imported from a number of note applications (including kNotes).

Notes can be password protected. They can be todo list items. They can have keyboard shortcuts. They can have different icons and backgrounds assigned. They can …

There is so much functionality that I haven’t managed to go through all of it in just the few days that I’m using the application. But I love it. So far, it has everything that I need and want and some more. And it works fast. Very fast. Go, try it out.

Blogging elsewhere

Christmas and New Year seasons are always very sentimental for me. (I’m a very sentimental person, if you haven’t noticed.) Being a native Russian speaker, there are some things that I can easier express in Russian, and can’t, for the sake of times, pull together in English. At my sentimental peaks, I need to write in Russian occasionally.

And I do. That’s why this blog was somewhat silent recently. My LiveJournal diary had more attention. I’ll be back, of course.

The end of PayPal happiness

For me at least…

Until now I’ve been using an unverified PayPal account. And it worked very well. Recently though, I’ve hit the $500 USD transfer limit of the unverified account (one can only send a total of $500 USD).

Trying to verify my account I was always redirected to the same page – add another credit card. Every time I did so (not that I have so many credit cards, but still), I was brought back to my profile page. Still unverified.

I asked for help from the support team, and quickly got a response. It seems there is plenty of credit card fraud going on, because they asked me to fax (fax? what’s that?) them these documents:

1. Please include a cover page and address it: Attention – Global
Account Expanded Use Enrolment Process. On the same cover page, include
your name and the email address registered to your PayPal account so we
can identify the account.

2. A copy of a government issued photo identification listing your
name. Examples of acceptable identification include a passport, a full
driving licence or a national identity card.

3. A copy of the credit/debit card statement that shows at least the
last four digits of the card, your name and your postal address that
matches the address registered in your PayPal account.

4. A copy of the front and back of the credit card.

Can I get all those and fax them? Yes. Will I? No.

I think that there is a problem with the credit card system and that it should be fixed (the problem is having all information needed for money withdrawal printed on the card itself). By supplying the above mentioned documents I will be supporting the workarounds and hacks to the problems with credit cards. And that’s something I don’t want to do.

12 Unwritten Rules of Cell Phone Etiquette

Since I’ve posted recently to Cyprus Blog Network about blogging etiquette, I though I’d add a link to some tips for mobile phone appropriate behavior.

Loud and “it used to be funny” ring tones coupled with talking while everyone else is forced to listen (small rooms, meetings, cinema, etc) are the things I hate the most about mobile phone communications.

Web 2.0 definition

Tim O’Reilly retries the definition of his term “web 2.0”:

Web 2.0 is the business revolution in the computer industry caused by the move to the internet as platform, and an attempt to understand the rules for success on that new platform. Chief among those rules is this: Build applications that harness network effects to get better the more people use them. (This is what I’ve elsewhere called “harnessing collective intelligence.”)

I have a lot of respect for Tim’s work, but I have to say here that this definition sucks. It’s too long and, well, indefinite. Gladly, Tim quotes Google’s Eric Schmidt with a shorter definition:

Don’t fight the internet.

I like this one better.

Kitchen monster

We have a new kitchen monster. It makes scary sounds and generates clouds of steam. It is comfortable with connecting deadly components, such as water and electricity. It smells. A lot. And that smell forces us to run, run as fast as we can…

…towards kitchen. To get a fresh cup of filtered coffee.

Yes, we bought a filtered coffee machine. I couldn’t resist the habit of drinking tasty coffee at home, after I’ve been addicted to it in the office, Starbucks, and even at some of my friend’s. Instant coffee just doesn’t cut it anymore, and Cyprus coffee is too tedious to make.

I know that filtered coffee is as bad for me as unfiltered, but I just can’t resist the temptation of hot, tasty, aromatic energy fix. That’s beyond my will power…