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A while ago I had discovered a very interesting application from LinkedIn Labs – the InMaps. This application will connect to your LinkedIn account and put all your connections in visual format. Here’s what my network looked like at that time:

linkedin-map

 

Today I got a notification that InMaps is being discontinued on September 1, 2014 – that is in less than a month. This prompted me to have a last look at my current network, while I still can. And this is the result: inmaps-last

 

Plenty of change, as it can be expected from almost two years and moving from Spain to Ireland. Entire new country, new jobs, a lot of new people – and a lot of recruiting agents in the mix. It was interesting to see the evolution. And it will be just as interesting to see what LinkedIn will bring forward to replace InMaps.

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It’s been such a long time since I’ve written here. So many things have happened since my arrival here in Ireland. While I might enter into more details later, here’s a brief summary:

  • Spent about 6 weeks looking for the first job, including a battery of tests and interview with Yahoo! While the position was only partial matched with my skills, it was a great experience in the end.
  • I’ve had a three month contract with Symantec. Yes, that Symantec. I got to work on a very interesting project with a team of great people. Unfortunately I fell victim to the dreaded “cost saving” after the global restructuring of June 2013.
  • Spent the next 2 months looking for another job, only to hit two more obstacles: key decision people in vacation (thus halting effectively the recruiting process) or not being suited for the desired profile (namely hardcore Javascript developer). I even got a couple of the “you’re over-qualified for our position” speeches. Hit some more “big names” like PWC, MasterCard, so not everything was a total loss.
  • Landed another contract, this time in Limerick, with another fantastic team of people, called DevEire.
  • And last, but not least, I tried my hand for the first time with the already famous Smashing Magazine Monthly Wallpapers. And what do you know: I made cut and appeared in the October list with my “Trafalgar Day” entry. Scroll down a bit and enjoy.

I will try and make more time in the future for both this site and TridentDesign (another victim of my hectic year). Next in the plans is the long started and even longer delayed redesign. Now, that Bootstrap 3.0.0 has been launched, I have no more reasons to procrastinate.

See you all soon. And “Thank you!” again, Smashing Magazine.

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Ireland_Largest gathering of leprechauns 12.ss_full

After a month of unrest and two days of complete and utter mayhem we finally arrived to Dublin, Ireland. It was also the first time our cats were separated from us to travel alone – a pretty stressful even for all involved.  It got me thinking about the old saying – “Home is where the heart is”. In our case it would transform into “home is where our cats are” – be it a hostel, a rented apartment or a hotel room.

Dublin did not give us a warm welcome – the harsh wind made it quite chilly. We’ll have to get accustomed with the Irish weather after two years of mild Catalan climate. We had rainy days, clear days and mixed ones – we even got to see a genuine Irish rainbow. And our first leprechaun was taller than me and was collecting money for charity in front of Trinity College.

What next? I’ll be chasing a job full time now and use the spare time to get back to my projects: Trident Design got neglected for more than a month and this very website looks too plain. I am even considering dropping WordPress and moving to a file CMS. The most popular one at this moment seems to be Jekyll – I just need to study it a bit more before committing to the change.

hasta-la-vista

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All things, good or bad, must come to the end. And so is my Spanish and Catalan adventure. There have been a bit more than two years since I first arrived here, without knowing more Spanish words than Arnold’s famous quote and some similar expressions. Yet, when I drew the line and made the balance of these two years, I found myself wanting. Let’s have a look at what I gained and what I failed to achieve in these two years.

On the pro side I must start with the fact that in terms of professional avancement I moved further and faster than ever before (and I need to thank my Emagister work buddies for that). I found out how it is to be away from all that is known and familiar to you. I got myself to a serviceable level of Spanish (and knowing another language is always a good thing in my book). My wife and I found a pair of great friends here (coincidence or not, both Romanians too). I got to know in what environment I don’t like working in (my first job here) and how you can integrate into a great team in just a couple of weeks (tip of hat to Emagister, again). I got to know the inside of a different culture, even if I did not integrate into it. I found out that there is a lot of common vocabulary between Catalan and Romanian and that I need to make my brain stop translating everything through English first.

On the con side, the most difficult thing to adapt to was local cuisine and food. I am picky about the fish I eat. Same about seafood. Add my terrible talent of biting hard on any foreign object in the food (bone splinters, sand, shell pieces) and you’ll understand why I never touched a paella here after my first try. I get sick only by smelling goat cheese and they use it a lot here. The times we went out for tapas (local finger food) can be counted on one hand. Yet we’ve been many more times to Asian all-you-can-eat buffets.

And last, but not least (it can even climb to the first place) is the economic factor. My wife couldn’t find a job in all this time (and not for lack of trying), so it all fell down on my shoulders. And at the end of each month we were (more or less) breaking even. Yet any unexpected event (and there have been enough of those too) threw us more out of balance. When we add the failing economy, the massive unemployment and the cost reductions everyone is applying, it gets clear that we need to look for greener pastures.

An English speaking country is practically the only way we can try and make it work. As UK maintains the work restrictions for Romanians and Bulgarians, the only valid alternative is Ireland. So here we are, preparing to close all loose ties that remain here and getting ready for relocation. There are so many things to do, so many bureaucratic loops to jump through and so little time to do it. Yet we still look forward to the new opportunities, to the change in scenery and to a new chance to get things done the right way.

Hasta la vista, España, adéu Catalunya! We promise to return to visit some day.

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This is Google Doodle displayed today on the Romanian portal for Google, in celebration of the Romanian National Day. The author is a young 8th grade lady – Iasmina Maria Răceanu – from Suceava, winner of the first edition of the Romanian “Google 4 Doodle” contest. She received a prize of 15.000 RON (about 3350 EURO), while her school got a technology grant of 20.000 (about 4500 EURO).

 

Iasmina imagined Romania as “a green country, with mountains and valleys, hills and plains, colored by beautiful traditions worth preserving, uplifted by artists and sportsmen that raised her name to the heavens. My Romania is worth being loved.”

I join then all the other Romanians, from back home or spread all over the world, in saying today: “La multi ani, Romania!” (Happy Birthday, Romania)

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Over this weekend I got hooked to yet another Social Media activity. I became a member of 500px – a community of photographers all around the world. I have been planning for some time to cleanup some of my best photos and have them online. Now, I got the ball rolling. Just like with this blog, not everything is perfect from the beginning. I still need to spend some more time adding details to the pictures (titles, description, tags), but I am glad I did the first step.

About my gear: I am still at the compact camera level and most probably it will remain the same for the near future. I have a Canon PowerShot SX200IS, the red model and I am very satisfied with it. Unfortunately I managed to get it splashed last summer at Port Aventura and it left a small amount of residue on the inside of the lens, causing a slight distortion in some cases. If you are interested in a review, you can find a very nice one on CameraLabs.com.

 

Of course, like any self respecting geek today, I also have an Instagram profile. I had it linked in the footer of this blog for a while now and it usually has pictures (more or less serious) that I take during the commuting to work and back, when I take a break or just simply when I am taking a walk with my wife. I don’t always carry the camera with me on these occasions and there is something very satisfying about taking a quick picture and being able to post it online, with links on Twitter or Facebook. This must have been the same feeling the Polaroid owners had with their instant cameras. For the moment I am using my Nexus One phone, which does not have a very good camera, but as I was told over and over again, the composition is more important than the gear, so I’m ignoring the noise in the pictures for now and try to make the shots as interesting as possible instead.

To wrap things up, you can check my photos both on my Instagram profile and on my 500px profile. If you find them interesting,  don’t hesitate to leave a comment. I might release the most popular ones as wallpaper sets, so stay tuned.

 

 

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I was pleasantly surprised this week to encounter the Labs website of LinkedIn (yes, I know I might be late in finding it, but better late than never). Many online giants have such labs where crazy scientists and hunchbacked trolls called Igor concoct all sort of fancy experiments. This one lives to the expectations too and has quite a few interesting projects, like Resume Builder or Connection Timeline. Play a bit with them and you’ll understand what I mean.

But the application I want to talk about is called “InMaps” and it gives a visual representation of your network of connections and the way they are interconnected. You can see above my map (you can also click on the image to view the online version). Basically it highlights the three largest profesional milestones of my life (in order: Getica / Ayon Logic (green), Webfusion (orange) and Emagister(blue). The rest is a mixture between high school and university classmates, freelance contacts and various other people I know. It is fascinating to follow the connections and sometimes you can have the surprise to see how people on different branches are in touch.

How does your professional map look like?

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Today I can check off another item on the “List of things to do in my life™”. I have test drived a new launched car – the new Seat Toledo. I’m not gonna bother quoting excerpts from official reviews – you can find a very comprehensive one in the Parker review for the UK market. I think it was not launched there yet, as the pictures in that review are all of the normal left-hand drive at this moment.

I have booked my test drive a couple of weeks ago, when I receive a promotional email in my inbox (I have participated to a raffle related to the new launch). It’s obvious I did not win the raffle, or the post name would have been totally different. Anyway, I was invited to test drive the new car when the promotional caravan reached the city I currently live in – Sabadell (30 km away from Barcelona), at 9:00 AM.

I was at the local concessionary bright and early, 20 minutes before the announced time and found only peace and quiet. As the moments passed by, without any sign of movement inside the showroom, I thought that perhaps there is another location for the event and I was not aware of it. Or that the normal schedule was from 10:00 AM (as written on the door) and nobody bothered to synchronize the scheduling application with the concessionary time table. I moved round the corner to the entrance to the service area and at 9:02 I was greeted by the view of the caravan: 6-7 cars, with the model name inscribed in broad letters on the side. There was a black one, a dark red one, while the rest were a few shades of grey (not 50 though …).

It took a while for everything to be set up. One car was parked outside, with banners around, a couple were pulled inside a secondary showroom. Meanwhile, somebody who appeared to be the “caravan master” offered me a coffee and some sweets while I was waiting for the test drive to start. I only took one picture of the entire setup (the one below) and it would have looked a lot better if they would have used the dark red car instead of one of the grey ones.

 

 

 

We got all the papers done quickly and started for the chosen car, a grey 1.6 diesel, with 105 bhp, in the top configuration (Style), with a nice cream interior finish and manual gearbox with 5 steps. I was given first a quick tour of the car – the boot/trunk, the folding back seats. I was also invited to sit on the back seat, behind the driver, with the front seat pushed all the way back, to understand that there is enough place for another person there at all times. Then I jumped into the driver’s seat and got through the preparations. I took no more pictures, but I’m adding one from the catalogue:

 

This image shows the extra option of integrated navigation, which gives a larger central screen, with touch controls.

 

Because the SEAT official coming with me was in the area for the first time, I was given the freedom of choosing the route and I decided to go two roundabouts away from my office, thus reenacting my normal daily run to work and back home. Of course I appreciated the lack of normal morning traffic jam, that allowed me to push effortlessly to the speed limit of 120 km/h.

Overall the experience was great. The Toledo is a great car and the engine had more than enough power for my normal driving style. I can’t say I disliked something in particular – the ride was relatively short (about 25 km), I did not have to do any special maneuvers (like parking) and the traffic was light enough for a pleasant journey. I am not a great fan of the exterior grey color and the cream interior, although very pleasant visually, stains easily and might require a lot of attention in the long run to remain clean.

I also loved the little details: like the audio controls on the steering wheel, the USB and AUX entries for the audio system, the quality of the sound system, the lack of road noise (both from traffic and from the engine, although I did not rev it too much), the small indicator on the dashboard prompting you to choose the best gear for optimal fuel consumption. I did not appreciate the lightness of the controls (pedals, steering wheel and gear change) until later, when I returned to my 13 years old car.

I can’t say I would buy one, even if I had the money – being the first new car I drove would would require some more tests with its rivals. If I would have one for a week to put through its paces it would be enough to make an opinion  But I did enjoy driving it and I would love to be given the occasion again.

Credits: The instagram picture is mine. The rest of the images are from Seat.es and Parkers.co.uk

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Recently I got involved in a project that makes use of Twitter Bootstrap and I can say I got very interested in the possibilities and opportunities this framework brings. While I have studied it before as inspiration for a custom in-house CSS framework, it was for the first time I was getting my hands dirty, so to speak.

The result is that I have decided to upgrade this website with a new version built upon Bootstrap. Thanks to 320 Press I could get my hands on a basic theme built with this framework, just waiting to be customized properly. I already got the design completed and I need to start chunking code. So stay tuned for the second version of AdrianSandu.com.

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Last week, at work, I was working on a project that deals with image management. I noticed that Firefox was not displaying a placeholder for an image with a broken URL, despite being given explicit width and height, both as HTML attributes and CSS properties. All other browsers had the broken rectangle displayed, thus stretching the container box properly. Firefox falls back in line if the image receives display: block, but in the default case, it is very easy to overlook a broken image.

After a bit of Google-Fu I came across this article from doxmart.com that offers a CSS rule to be added in the custom stylesheet of the browser in order to enable the display of the placeholders. The same rule can be used in your website’s stylesheet as well to enable the functionality for all visitors.

Here is the CSS rule:

Here is how the placeholders look in the three main browsers:

Chrome

Internet Explorer 8

Firefox

I did not manage to study in enough details the specifications to see which browser does the correct thing. For the sake of consistency I dare think that until this feature becomes enabled by default in Firefox, the little snippet of code can be made part of the reset stylesheet of your websites.