vineri, 19 septembrie 2014

Scotland: Edinburgh

One year to this day, a morning train from King's Cross was taking me to Edinburgh for my last trip in UK. After getting off in the majestic rail station in the very heart of the city of Edinburgh I was shocked by two things. First the medieval beauty of everything around, secondly by the large number of people with with kilts, pipes, flags and blue painted faces.
No, I was not in Avatar, Scotland just proclaimed the referendum to break away from the United Kingdom. At first I could not understand why anybody would really seriously consider this.

The answer comes when you visit the Castle of Edinburgh. Built on top of a small volcanic mountain it offers great views of the surroundings and a very interesting historical visit. The castle stood - got destroyed, rebuilt, destroyed again and rebuilt again, witness for centuries of war between Brits and Scots. So going to a secessionist referendum no longer looked so surprising to me.

Visiting Scotland's capital
If you have the possibility to take a weekend to Edinburgh, than please do so. This is one of the best places I have seen in all my time in UK. The city is extremely beautiful, the people were all very friendly and eager to help me out when I was confusing Holyrood Road with Holyrood Park Road on the map, which of course were 20 minutes apart one another.
You must visit here the castle, walk around the train station and cross the bridge by foot (you will realize what bridge I am talking about the moment you get there), stroll the gardens below the castle and if you are in for a hike also climb Arthur's seat - another short volcanic mountain that gives you side view of the city.
There are a lot of very nice traditional shops in the city center where you can buy a lot of exquisite stuff.
For a delicious treat, make it to one of the pubs on George St and get a full pack of ribs with a pint of Scottish ale.

How to get to Edinburgh and how much does it cost?
I have used, and I recommend, the site Here you can buy a combo and it is really worth it. A return trip by train had cost me 50+65 GBP. The trains leave from King's Cross every hour, but you really need to book in advance otherwise it is extremely expensive. The same site sold me a room in a very nice and tidy hotel (Mason house) for another 65 GBP and 2 days travel card in Edinburgh for 3 GBP each. It is worth mentioning that the same hotel was charging 100+ GBP at the reception desk and a minimum of two nights booking. So that site got me a really good deal. Also the hotel breakfast was one of the best I've had.

For visiting the castle you will need 16 GBP, I do not recommend the audio guide as the toured guide is one of the best I've ever had the pleasure to assist.
Everything else is generally a bit less expensive than London, but make sure to enjoy everything as if it was the only time you visit Edinburgh!

My funny adventure
It started to get dark and I was exhausted after my 5 hours train ride, climbing Arthur's Seat, walking through the town center to cover as much as possible so I decided to take one last bus ride to the near by end of the line (according to my map). And so I did, and after 15-20 minutes in the bus it looked no way near the end and the bus was almost deserted. I realized that I took the bus in the other direction (left side driving can still confuse you even after 3 months). I asked a passenger if there are any other buses going back (have not seen one for 10 minutes) and he answered me that this was the last bus going to port! I got down and was trying to figure out where I was on the map. It was dark, cold raining and I had my rain hood all the way over my eyes. A couple crossed nearby and I asked them for directions, not realizing how I was looking. I am glad they did not run away and that they pointed me to the nearest bus route that was still running.
In London night buses ride all night long as you'd imagine. Well in the tiny city with little action on a Saturday night, night buses run only 2 more hours than normal ones. So you'd imagine how happy I was after running for 15 minutes to the city center to catch what was probably the last night bus that took me to my hotel. (yes I did run)

duminică, 15 iunie 2014

CAPM - what, why, how ?

At the end of May 2014 I've taken and passed the PMI exam of CAPM. For this achievement I've only self studied, so if you are looking for some tips and tricks here you go!

  • CAPM - what?
There are 2 main Project Management organizations that offer PM related certifications (and probably dozen of minor ones). One of them is Project Management Institute ( and the other one is Prince2 ( PMI offers a framework that is industry agnostic, while Prince2 offers a methodology that is related to IT mostly. 
PMI provides two level of certifications. The first level is Certified Associate in Project Management and the final one is Project Management Professional. Both certification are based solely on Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK Guide 5th edition).

  • CAPM - why?
Earning either of the two certificates involves a set of screening requirements and passing a high complexity exam.

  • For CAPM you need 1500 hours of project experience OR 23 hours of training. The exam consists of 150 questions in 3 hours. (15 questions are not rated, but you do not know which ones, so it does not matter anyway)
  • For PMP you need 4500 hours of project management experience AND 32 hours of training. The exam consists of 200 questions in 4 hours. (here 25 questions are not rated with the same observation as above).
The training programs are rather expensive (between 200 and 900 Euros) and I wanted to self study anyway, therefor I have decided to take the first exam first as a safe approach and I am now preparing for the PMP exam to follow.
OK but why? Well the certificate is very important for employment but most important is that you really learn how to handle a project, any project. Anything in this world that has a definitive beginning and an end with a defined set of results is a project. You will be able to handle your projects better, more efficient, less stressful and with better results. 

  • CAPM - how?
I recommend you join for 1 year. This costs 139$ and for this money you get your own digital version of the latest PMBOK Guide and discounts for taking the exam. For CAPM the discount is from 300$ down to 225$ so if you have to take the exam twice, or intend to take both exams within these 12 months, than the deal is great and you actually end up saving some money.
With your very own PMBOK Guide now starts the hard part. If you had no training, you will find it rather difficult, boring and maybe a bit too complex. Don't give up, it will get better! Get to the end of it once, the second pass will be much easier and the 3rd one is going to be a piece of cake. 
There are scores of materials on Youtube, preparation websites and others, but about this I will tell you in a future post. 
Finally when you have finished training and you evaluate that you are prepared, you come back to the PMI website to fill your exam application, pay the fee and schedule the exam. The exam is hosted by the Prometric company ( in exam specialized test centers across the world. In Bucharest there were 5 test centers when I have taken this exam.

More about PMI certifications over here:

If you have any comments or find any of the information not accurate please leave me a message.

miercuri, 26 februarie 2014

Lumea in 2030 de Dr. Michio Kaku

Mi-a fost recomandat clip-ul de mai jos. Desi l-am inceput cu scepticism pot sa spun ca este cel mai bun documentar pe care l-am vazut vreodata.

joi, 30 ianuarie 2014

Un avion degeaba

Mi se pare irelevant ce metoda de triangulare au folosit pentru a cauta epava avionului prabusit in munti. Mi se pare putin important daca echipele de salvare au ajuns in 5 ore si nu in 4 (daca ajungeau in 4 ore, se gaseau cei care sa intrebe de ce nu in 3, si tot asa), la fel de putin important este ca primul sosit acolo era un padurar care cunostea muntele si nu un pompier trimis de la sute de Km departare, pe un munte, noaptea pe ceata. 

Ce gasesc eu interesant este de ce a avut loc acea cursa in primul rand? Ma gandesc ca un bilet dus-intors Bucuresti-Cluj nu trebuie sa coste mai mult de 100 de Euro, mai ales pentru o institutie care cumpara mii de bilete de avion pe an. Cu cat oare a platit statul Roman cursa aceea? De ce zboara un avion preistoric (oare se mai fabrica elici) vechi de 37 de ani si la ce costuri. Cate mii de euro au fost decontati pentru acea cursa, de o institutie publica, cand la privat ar fi costat doar cateva sute de euro? 
Imi pare rau de viata pierduta a asistentei medicale. Dar ea nu trebuia sa moara! Pentru ca nu trebuia sa plece o asistenta tocmai de la Bucuresti. In Cluj nu sunt asistente?
Recunosc ca nu stiu cat de complicata este operatia de prelevare de organe. Insa ma intreb daca nici un spital din Cluj nu poate sa faca o prelevare de organe, atunci poate ca ministrul sanatatii, impreuna cu directorii spitalului municipal din Cluj, trebuiau sa isi dea demisia si poate nu ministrul de interne. 

Ma gandesc daca raspunsul la toate aceste intrebari nu este, pentru ca institutii si functionari publici, sa toace bani publici degeaba, cu singura consecinta ca mai devreme sau mai tarziu, cineva ajunge sa moara din neglijenta criminala.

miercuri, 22 ianuarie 2014

12 Years a Slave

Filmul 12 Years a Slave este o drama tulburatoare ecranizand o perioada neagra din istoria umanitatii. 

Solomon, un negru liber din New York, cu cateva decenii inainte de abolirea sclaviei, este inselat, rapit si vandut in sclavie. Ajunge rand pe rand, pe mai multe plantatii din sud, unde intalneste stapani de tot felul. 

Drama si atrocitatile sclaviei sunt fie cunoscute, fie intuite de multi, insa acum sunt concentrate si condensate pe parcusul a doua ore si 10 minute de violenta, nedreptate si cruzime. Insa putin altceva se mai poate vedea. Sau poate cruzimea te desensibilizeaza inca de la inceput.

Ce lipsesc celor 12 ani de sclavie pentru a merita permiul Oscar, sunt momentele memorabile. Nu stiu cu ce imi voi aminti acest film, decat pentru violenta. Am simtit o rezonanta emotionala mult mai puternica la The Butler si evident la Cloud Atlas (alt film centrat pe tema omului care il inrobeste pe om, dar povestit independent de era si generatie). 

Filmul a castigat deja Globul de Aur la categoria cel mai bun film si este nominalizat la mai multe categorii la Oscar. Este un film foarte bun, insa nu vad cu ce iese in evidenta fata de alte filme tematice si la fel de violente: Amistad, Django Unchained. Sau mult mai putin axate pe violenta: The great debaters, Lincoln, The butler

Nota mea: 10 pentru recrearea fidela a tragediei, insa Oscar pentru cel mai bun film, nu din punctul meu de vedere.