Friday afternoon I received an invite to try out the beta version of Postmark, a transactional e-mail delivery service from Wildbit, the guys and gals who made Beanstalk and Newsberry. What are transactional e-mails, you might ask? The answer is: e-mails generated by a web application after an user action such as registration, requesting a password reminder, receiving a reply to a comment, etc. The problem me and many developers faced is that sometimes the client’s servers are blacklisted and these e-mails land in the users’ spam folder. This is where Postmark comes to the rescue, hopefully - instead of using the built in mail function of your web development language of choice you issue a call to Postmark which sends out the e-mail from their “well regarded” servers so that hopefully they land in the user’s inbox.
To give something back, I’ve put together a CodeIgniter library for this service. This grants easy integration of Postmark with your CodeIgniter web app: you upload two files, fill in your API key then include the library where needed and send mails away.
I’ve been a Winamp user since the autumn of 1998 when I got my first computer but I used it even before that on various friends’ computers. Look how enthusiast I was when Winamp 5 came out back in 2003 after the mess that Winamp 3 turned out to be. However, I had enough. Now when I uninstalled it with Revo Uninstaller I noticed that it left behind not less than 1500 registry entries - which were subsequently deleted - I haven’t even checked the directory size but I guess that I can safely say that 1500 leftover registry entries is bloat. Plus it always insisted on updating and installing stuff I never needed - toolbars, bundled software, you name it. Yep, pure bloatware.
I’ve been having an affair with foobar2000 at my last job, mostly because I had a less powerful computer over there and Winamp was eating up too much of its resources. And now that affair turns into a full blown relationship because as of today foobar2000 becomes my main media player.
On one of the evenings at the start of December I got nostalgic looking at my Flickr photos taken this year and this idea popped in my mind: how about a blog post like this? Since then this post has been brewing as a draft and it turned out huge. So grab a pack of popcorn and here we go!
The year started out on the negative side, with us being at work (which turned out to be unpayed work) and being unsure about the future as the so called economic depression hit the construction company we were working for, both me and Ioana. But then we took a day off and went to Borsa only to find the secondary skilift closed. And this secondary superior skilift would have been the one that would have made our trip worthy - but we had a great time nevertheless managing to snowboard the badly maintained slopes.
Technically the photo above was taken last year, but it marks the worst part of this year and my life actually: my mother’s stroke that happened right after we returned from that Borsa trip I mentioned above.
But life went on, and between the cracks of the nightmare I was living we visited the ski slopes at Suior where we admired the freshly installed snow makers and then got horrified when we found out the prices for one ride on the chairlift. We also checked out the Burton Learn to Ride event up at Cavnic, and I remember this was in the weekend that fell exactly between the two weeks of my mother’s hospitalization. The second photo features Ghitzuca doing a Rodeo 5.
Then right in the middle of that mess came the long before planned Austrian ski holiday. Can’t really comment except that I’m left with some of the best memories of my life. Obviously the best holiday ever. The photo set on Flickr sort of speaks for itself.
Right after we returned, like my troubles weren’t enough, Ioana’s great grandmother died. May she rest in peace.
Obviously after returning from Austria the local slopes seemed like poor attempts at the title of “slope” but we had our share of fun, mostly because we “discovered” the old school vibe at Mogosa a slope that was right under our noses all these years but only now we had the actual skills to ride it. And only now it had enough snow to be rideable. Plus the skilift is unbelievably cheap so it was an obvious choice after the big spending around Kaprun.
The Five-O Jib Stars 2009 freeski / snowboard contest and the mandatory afterparty ended the winter season officialy and then we ended it unoficially one week later at the same place where we opened it 4 months or so before.
I couldn’t wait for the real spring though so I could be out with my RC “toys”. Had good times with both my car and my helicopter and I remember that I carried my helicopter to work daily due to the fact that I could go around the flying field on my way home and actually fly if the wind was friendly. I crashed once again but got back in the air quick because it wasn’t that bad of a crash, I had all the parts I needed from the last stock up and I made friends in the local RC community so I got some servos really fast.
Around this time of the year we started visiting Hungary hard, first going to Aquaticum in Debrecen around my birthday then one month later to Hajduszoboszlo where we spent one day bathing and the next day at an RC helicopter meet which was a real eye opener for me. So many helis - such skills.
The photo above was taken by Ioana around the Rooster’s Crest where I remember seeing a a guy and a gal with mountain bikes. That’s when the idea popped into my mind… Of course the real star of the photo is our trusty dog Ina and one of her trademark tricks: the tummy crawl.
Then came the first trip of the year to Cluj-Napoca where we partied hard with the Infamous guys, Cristi, Cosmo and other friends.
We returned to Cluj the next week to see General Midi and although the party was a massive failure the next day I had the chance to test Cosmo’s bike and the idea got cemented.
Yet another Hungarian trip followed, this time with Rada and Vlad. We went to Aquaticum again and checked out the mall in Debrecen, where I ate the worst fast food I ever ate. Fuck you Burger King and your commercials.
Then the idea got implemented, bikes happened and the rest is history as they say. Many trips followed and most of them will be remembered as magical. I loved biking back in high school and I pedaled a lot back then and so it was a blast to rediscover those times plus being able to go offroad without the fear of my bike breaking in two. The trips are well documented on EveryTrail, Bikemap and of course Flickr in various sets.
A quick surprise trip to Budapest to deliver Tina to the airport after which we quickly scoped out the city from the lookout at Citadella.
A week later we were at Valea Vinului with our bikes and everything, but sort of failed in doing any significant rides mostly because the second day of the stay turned out to be rainy and crappy.
We returned to Hungary for the fifth time this year and this time with Steve who was about to leave for the States. More splashing and fun at Hajduszoboszlo. Truly good times.
Ride Down Mogosa + afterparty. The contest was great, mostly because we hung around one of the most challenging parts of the track and a guy with too big of a mouth so we laughed our asses off listening to his comments. However we couldn’t really get the vibe of this particular afterparty since we had no friends around to party with.
Hitting my credit card hard I managed to get one of the gadgets I’ve been drooling for for around 5 years: a Garmin GPSMAP 60CSx GPS. From this point forward the bike trips became much better documented.
We returned to Valea Vinului with Ioana’s parents and this time we rode around and hiked the place properly. Mission accomplished!
I had a revelation discovering that I can use some time off work to actually plan the trips with the help of a map, Google Earth and some imagination and so being blessed with great weather all through late summer and autumn the real adventures began. During the weekends we were usually out both days on our bikes or on foot and we made trips even during the week after we finished work. Boy, did we feel great!
Then, our main biking partner, Vlad, left for the UK.
We were invited for the unofficial inauguration of The Blue Track around Targu-Lapus.
I thought this will be the season closer but then we fit in one more.
Here are a couple of local VIPs, Ioana and me (behind the camera) as guests, at the official inauguration of The Blue Bike Track I mentioned above.
Then the autumnal rains and cold came and life slowed down. I’ve bought a micro helicopter to fly around the house and it turned out to be a blast. Actually not a big surprise since everyone was raving about this particular model on the various RC helicopter forums.
We also visited TM09Base to conclude that we’re too old for festivals like this.
I took the dog to the vet a couple of times and it ended in surgery. She got neutered.
We made a late autumn road trip to Poienile de sub Munte which is a village pretty close to the Ukrainian border and…
We had a late November walk on the hills around Baia Mare and around the same time, Ioana started experimenting with HDR. The photo above is a processed view of Baia Mare taken from Tolvaj Denes - Piatra Talharului - The Burglar’s Rock.
A couple of days before Christmas I visited a conference where I met a few of the people who represent the online part of Baia Mare…
And on the same day visited the opening ceremony of a program that celebrates traditions in my lovely county of Maramures. I sort of celebrated the “free” in freelancer that day.
And that ladies and gentlemen is the year in pictures for me.