Sunday, March 25, 2007

Exit, Bruce Sterling and Chemical Brothers

One thing I was looking forward to was going to Exit Festival. In the past they featured my favourite musicians Hernan Cattaneo and Underworld.

I was trying to figure out who is playing on Exit Festival this year and I stumbled upon Viktor Marković blog. To my surprise I found that Bruce Sterling now lives in Belgrade. With William Gibson,(my favourite SF writer) he is one of the founders of cyberpunk. Cyberpunk is related to, now retreating hacker subculture. In years when I got interested in computers and programming, it was something else than good corporate career. You can grasp some of this from his freely available book Hacker Crackdown.

He is Belgrade resident from January 2006 and here is his take on Belgrade:

A Tribute To Chemical Brothers has been setting daily rhythm for months now. I am really keen to see Chemical Brothers playing in Belgrade on 13th June (my wedding anniversary!).

I am going to watch Serbia play Portugal in Euro 2008 (soccer for uninitiated) qualifiers on Wednesday 28th March. Local side lost 2-1 to Kazakhstan yesterday so it will be interesting to see what can they pull off (or not) against Portugal (they trashed Belgium 4-0 yesterday). I watched Bosnia win over Norway (2-1) today - Bosnian commentators where ecstatic - this doesn't happen often enough.

Rugby is not popular at all in these parts, but I happen to live in Dorćol suburb and local team won Serbian rugby league in 2005.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Another first by Nebs

Nebojša (Nebs for english speakers) is an old friend. We first met in Amateur Software Club (ASC) in Tuzla in mid 80's. It was 10 years after famous Homebrew Computer Club and technology we were talking about was as exotic. For some reason, at that time, importing of computers is socialist Yugoslavia more expensive than NZD 500 was forbidden. Nebs was the first guy we knew to have Sinclair QL and also first guy to make money in IT. This was on one of the last Voluntary Youth Action (no reference for this socialist Yugoslavia phenomenon on the wiki or anywhere else - strange mix between backpacking and kibutz, thousands of youngsters would spend a month sleeping in makeshift dormitories and working for free on infrastructural projects with key benefit of proximity of teenagers of opposite sex) - anyway Nebs held computer course on one of those events and got a decent consulting fee.

We met next time in South Africa in '92. Again he was the first guy I knew that used off-line video editing. No wonder large percent of our immigrant friends became video editors. I even tried to persuade Jelena to get involved in the trade. It was classic arbitrage opportunity - we could get hold of software and hardware that was required to learn the trade - and hence get jobs that were in short supply. Even my career was started like this. I got hold of copy of Visual Basic 2.0 at end of' '92 same company where Nebs was volunteering (or working for no adequate pay should I say). I read VB Tutorial cover to cover and wrote simple Windows game and this was enough to get a job in Investec.

Well, Nebs has done it again - this time being first Bosnian sailing around the world and produce 24 episode TV series Around the world (click on the previous link!) that is currently screening on BHT1 (Bosnian state TV). Check out the web site - some of the material is on YouTube. Well done Nebs!

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Postcards - Part 1

One of skills in high demand in Belgrade is ability to do parallel parking. Yesterday I was challenged - this was only available parking spot in few blocks.
Payments for parking are done using by texting your registration plate to parking service - 1 hour of parking is then charged to your mobile account. Enforcement is done using handheld terminals that can check if you paid the parking. We are fortunate to have residential address in Stari Grad (Old City) so we can get cheap monthly ticket.

I mentioned earlier Coffee Dream and fact that you get Speculaas cookies. It looks like this Speculaas is of local variety. I figured out this by image of Praroditeljka (great-grandmother) from Lepenski Vir.

I keep on finding curious translations from Serbian to English all over the city. I couldn't help myself photographing this one:

This should probably say Archaeological Site Vinča.