Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Life: 1+ Month in Sweden

A couple of days ago it was a month since the day I moved to Sweden. The only thing I could complain about is that I had to spend at least 3 hours per day traveling to work and back, and sometimes trains were late or wouldn’t come at all ant then there is a but that goes two time slower. Otherwise, even the beer is not that bad as people might say. In the big stores where alcohol is sold, it’s possible to find German, Mexican, American, Czech beers but not Lithuanian. The bread is quite good here as well. I guess it is just a matter of what people get used to. I would repeat myself once again but I just love the trash sorting in Sweden. It’s a great feeling to know that you reduce the pollution and that there is “stuff” being recycled and used again.

Tomorrow is the day when we will move the place called Sollentuna that is much closer to my work and I am thinking about getting a bicycle some time later. Marie and I looked up the notebooks on the web and have found a nice Acer for Marie. She was desperately looking for one that would be very light (approx 1.5 kg), so I think we will buy this one as soon as I get my registration papers done and will receive the personal social security number. I also looked up the desktops and prices and there are some really good ones I am dreaming about. But that will have to wait until the summer.

We will also get two mobile phone subscriptions and there is one Motorola model that I like a lot. It says it should be released in the Q4 2006 so I expect it in the beginning of the year. It’s a rather small, thin, without a camera (thanks God) and it’s like almost a monochrome display which will mean longer life for the battery. I am of those people who don’t like combo printers/scanners/faxes/copiers, and mobile phones with cameras. I like everything to be separate.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Programs: Office 2007 Format for 2003, XP

Something that people might find useful. It is possible to open Office 2007 files in the Office 2003 and XP. You just need to download and install the add-on from here. It's a free add-on from Microsoft. It allows both opening and saving of the files.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Job: My First Week

At the end of my first week at work, as I expected I am starting to feel more and more comfortable about my job, sleep, trains and Sweden. Currently we are living 1.5 hours by train and metro to my place of work and that means that I have to wake up at 6 in the morning and I am getting home around 8 in the evening. However this will change right before the New Year. Around December 27 we will move to a place that is much closer to my work and where Marie is studying. For me it will be 15 minutes by bus to work. Marie will have to travel by metro to her university that will occupy no more than 30 minutes of her time, I hope. We are planning to take some pictures of our current apartment and that will hopefully happen this Saturday. I will post them this weekend together with some other pictures that we were taking before. From the January we are ordering cable internet that will be 8Mbps and after that we will seriously think about getting a second computer. It will probably be a second notebook for Marie and I will continue using the notebook that I brought from the States in 2002. It’s getting old but it suits everything but the development with Visual Studio. I will probably try to lease a good desktop by the summer but that will depend on quite a few things, since I haven’t got even my first wage yet :P .

As about my work, I do like it more and more every day (especially by the end of the week). People are friendly and are always ready to help you in any situation. We even have 2 foosball tables there, a coffee machine and some usual stuff like microwaves, fridges, coke machine, etc. I will ask if I can take pictures of the place as well. There are plans to have a “corporate” Christmas party on the 14th of December and I am really planning to participate there. It should be fun and help me to know the people better. Actually almost half of the employees in the company are employed for no longer than 6 months, so for quite a few of them who will enjoy this Christmas drinks and buffet for the fist time with the company as well.

Currently I am spending my time exploring the analysis software for the eye tracking system that will be released in a couple of months and I thing there are quite a few things that need to be done. As I mentioned before, I like the eye-tracking technology a lot and I think that the company is doing well in terms of promotion, sales and development. As you see, I am glad to be here.

This weekend we are also planning to explore some places where we can buy some electrical stuff, like cables, converters. We will do the groceries for the week as well. Then we might grab a couple of beers or a bottle of wine for the Saturday’s evening movie.

Back to work for now.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Job: First Day at Tobii

I traveled to Sweden on Saturday and I took the ferry from Riga to Stockholm. Although it might be somehow cheaper to take a ferry from Riga than flying from Vilnius, only in the case of the extra luggage I would recommend taking a ferry. Flights are faster and more convenient but if you are going for the price on a ferry, get ready to sleep at some place close to the ferry engine or sit for the whole night.
Anyways, here I am in Sweden and this it my first day at Tobii. With all the excitement and belief in the technology, I must admit I underestimated the company. The market is expanding together with the sales and I am pretty sure that they know what they are doing. I got to know the people there better and some of them are pretty much rocket science people and I felt kind of “small” in comparison with them. Today I got to know what tools the company uses and how they actually work. I got a new computer and 19” LG LCD monitor. Then I installed the programs, configured outlook, and so on. Tomorrow I will learn more about the software and hardware that was developed and get to know the technology. The only thing that feels heavy on my shoulders is Swedish language. Although pretty much everyone speaks English in the country and company, I really hope I can get the basics of the language. It’s somehow hard to enjoy days like this, you know, when you don’t feel yourself confident about what you are doing. I know it will change and I really hope that I will enjoy my work at Tobii.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Programming: Multilanguage Applications VB .Net

I know, I know. I should've created a separate blog for my programming things. Well, I do not update my blog every day, so, I thought that I can squeeze everything into one blog. Sorry :).
Today I had a task of making my Windows application into a multilingual one. There are quite a few ways of doing that in VS2005 and I have seen quite a few of them. None of them were quite finished and optimized as I wanted them to be. So here is an example of doing it my way. You get a real-time language switch and there is no need to do any extra coding and tell that every element on the form should take the following text from the following resource and so on:

The source is here.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Programs: Freeware for Commercial Use

If we look at the license for the programs like IrfanView, XnView, Daemoon Tools and some others, the license will say that it is freeware for home use. It means that you cannot use it at your workplace, since it would be commercial use. During the last year I discovered a couple of programs that are freeware and can be used for the commercial purposes. Some of them are open source and some of them are just freeware. So here is my list (sorted alphabetically):

7-Zip (file compression utility)
Audacity (sound editor)
AVS DVD Player (dvd player)
CamStudio (screen recorder)
CD Burner XP Pro (cd/dvd burning utility)
ClCl (multiple clipboard management)
Comodo Firewall (firewall)
FreeLauchBar (quick launch replacement)
fSekrit (text encryption in a small exe file) >>
ImgBurn (iso image burning utility)
K-Lite Codec Pack(pack of video codecs)
Media Player Classic (a part of K-Lite Codec Pack)
Notepad++ (notepad replacement)
Paint .NET (image editor) Get Paint.NET!
Screenshot Pilot (screen capture utility)
SlowView (image viewer)
Traffic Meter (monitor the amount of traffic) >>
True Crypt (virtual encrypted hard drive)
UltraVNC (remote desktop control utility)
Virtual Clone Drive (virtual cd/dvd drive)

So that's the list of the applications that I use at work today. You can find them by using the search engine like ... eeeeehhh ... let me think ... ah, yes ... google.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Job: Tobii Sweden

On Thursday, October 12th, I went to Sweden for a job interview. I was really excited because it was a great chance for me to get a job in Sweden, which I was really dreaming about for a long time. This time it was Tobii company where I was applying for a job, and it was actually my wife who spotted the advertisement.

Before going to Sweden, I had 2 phone interviews where the employer got to know me as a person and as a software developer (I think that the word “programmer” and “coder” are pretty negative to me since they do not involve anything but writing code). And after a couple of days Johan from Tobii called me and told that they would like to meet me in person and they would cover the flight expense. That sounded like, “Is it happening to me?” So, on Friday the 13th J, I came to the Tobii place. I was really impressed by all aspects of the company, people, management, office building, view from the window, friendliness of everybody around, and of course computers. So, I was really excited and I thought – what kind of interview will I have to become a part of it. For the interview had, as I would say, a healthy portion of stress. The kind of stress you have on the exam that you are ready for but are still worried if everything would go right. So, I was introduced to the different teams in the office, ideas, visions, plans of the company, and to the eye tracking technology itself. I actually was amazed by the accuracy of the eye tracking system Tobii has developed. Then then interview started. Almost two hours have passed went pretty fast because I think I enjoyed talking about me and the interviewers enjoyed listening to me. I must say that I wouldn’t be able to do that without the experience I had at LCC.

After the interview, I got an extra IQ test for 40 minutes. I actually was disturbed by the idea that I actually can get a job here. Well, I hope I did fairly well on that test. After the test I talked to the developers and other people from the different teams about what they are doing and how does it feel like to work at Tobii. I was pretty happy about the process when I left the building and Johan told me they will contact me within a week or so to tell me the results.

So, the week back in Klaipeda was very different for me from day to day. On Wednesday however, Tobii called my references and it was the good news to know that my CV is not in the drawer gathering the dust. And on Thursday I got a call from Johan saying that if I still want to (really? Any doubts?) I can start working for Tobii.

I always have mixed feelings about leaving people, places or anything I get used to but surely it is going to be a great change for me and my wife Marie who is studying in Stockholm now. I am the last of the three Lithuanians who actually started as the first employees at Basic Partner three and a half years ago in Klaipeda, Lithuania. First, Simona left for the US when she won the green card. Second, Levon left for Canada with his family. And finally, I am the third who is leaving for Sweden. Well, there must be something wrong with Lithuania.

So, now I need to talk to my current management about the time that I will need to wrap up the projects that I currently working on and pass them to other developers at Basic Partner. Sweden is not as far as US and Canada and after I leave for Sweden, I will appear in Klaipeda from time to time, so my family, friends, colleagues and my dentist wouldn’t forget what I look like.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Fun: Have a Nice Weekend

This weather is getting cooler but still the beginning of October in Klaipeda is too warm to be true. This weekend was pretty interesting as well. It started with Friday evening when we decided to go to the Russian-style night club Metelica. My friend Sergej had relatives coming from Bratsk and going to the night club was a part of the program for the weekend. I hope that Tanya (the girl in pink on the photos got a good impression about Klaipeda). So, 6 of my friends and I had pretty nice time there. I actually picked up a couple of Russian songs that I really liked (it doesn’t happen very often when I get a Russian song that I like). It was a lot of fun and we left the club around 4 in the morning.

On Saturday we went to the seaside and played boule and flying disc. The water in the Baltic sea was not too cold and here is my friend Sergeij searching for the flying disc that I have thrown into water too far.

We didn’t find it. I guess I owe him a beer now since it was his flying disc.

After the sea we went to see a ship that came to Klaipeda from St. Petersburg. We were too late and they didn’t let us in. No big deal :). We had a nice walk anyways.

On Sunday we went to Palanga to have a walk there. This time our friends Zhenya and Lena and their little daughter Dasha joined us and it was a long time since there were so many friends together. Then we went to a bar and had a talk about this and that. After that it was time to get home.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Programming: WinCE Emulator with VS 2005

This month in the company I work for (Basic Partner) we started the development of the software for the Windows CE based terminals. And since we had only 1 terminal for 4 developers, we thought it would be easy to debug the .NET Compact Framework applications on Windows CE Emulator. It appeared to be not as simple as we thought. It took us a week and a half to figure out how to make it work. There are 3 elements involved in the process - MS Platform Builder, Windows CE Emulator and Visual Studio 2005. So, after all, we decided to create a video tutorial that would show what we were doing there. I hope that some people will find it handy since it took me quite some time to edit the video material and narrate it.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Music: Roxette VS Taxes

I knew that Norway and Sweden are "high" on taxes and daily roxette published today an article about Roxette fighting the tax rules in Sweden. Our company manager complains about the tax rules in Norway as well from time to time and I think he is right about it. Well, here is an article:

STOCKHOLM - Per Gessle and Marie Fredriksson have been involved in what's been labeled by the Swedish government as tax evasion.
After the "Crash! Boom! Live!" tour in Germany back in 1994-95, Per and Marie used their holding company Roxette Productions to account for this income. The Swedish income tax authority disagrees with this bookkeeping method and wants them to pay taxes personally on the income. The authority claims they were employed by tour company EMA Telstar and should therefore pay normal income tax on the 5.6 million kronor (€590,000) paid for the 19 concerts in Germany.
Per and Marie have been fighting this for almost ten years via their financial advisor Mats Nilemar of Desert AB.
Per owes 2.3 million kronor in back taxes and Marie owes 2.2 million, according to Swedish press reports.
When the tax authority first issued it's claim against them, both Per and Marie appealed the decision to Länsrätten, the first administrative court, which ruled in favor of the government in 2004. Roxette appealed again, to a higher court named Kammarrätten. In rulings issued during the past few days, this court upheld the lower court's decision.
Nilemar says that they will appeal once more, this time to Regeringsrätten, the highest administrative court in Sweden. Regeringsrätten will only decide to hear this case if they find it necessary to set a new precedent in this specific part of Swedish tax law. If this high court decides not to take the case, then the current ruling will be considered final.

Additional reporting by Thomas Evensson

Programming: ASP Hosting

It wasn't long time ago when I was looking for ASP.NET 2.0 + SQL 2005 hosting that would satisfy my basic needs of learning ASP. Yesterday I looked up a couple of forums looking for free hosting. There was one company providing free hosting and there was an email of the guy. I wrote to him and he told that they do not provide it for free anymore but they have good prices. So, I looked up their page and it appeared to be the cheapest I have found so far. It's like USD 2.1 per month (USD 25 per year). So, when I will get some extra time to get back to ASP, I will certainly get the account there, unless there is someone (maybe You ?) who knows a better solution.
Just wanted to keep a record for myself here.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Fun: September in Klaipeda

It's the second year in a row when the weather in September is exceptionaly nice. It's sunny, around +20°C , and the Baltic Sea is pretty warm so there are some people swimming. This weekend is one of those when I think that very soon the sky will turn grey and the "raining" season will come. So, for the two days I was lazy, taking it easy playing boule. Although being a pretty simple game (or maybe I don't know all the rules), it's quite a nice game to play at the sea. I first played it in the summer in Sweden. A couple of days ago I saw the game in Jysk store in Klaipeda, so we gave it a chance. Everyone seemed to like the game.

Besides the fun, my wife and I discussed this year plans. My wife is studying in Sweden and I am working in Lithuania and both of us are actually getting sick of the situation being apart for so long. The biggest challenge for me in this situation is to learn Swedish language becase there aren't so many companies that want to take people who don't know the language. So, I guess I have to learn the language before I get the job, not vice versa.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Music: Roxette 1986 - 2006

It happened to be that I was a huge fan of Roxette since I was in school and throughout the college years. This band was my first inspiration to learn English and the band that from my point of view has done most powerfull ballads ever. During the last several years the band slowed down mostly due to the health problems of Marie Fredriksson. At the same time, Per Gessle as a real workaholic, while Roxette was in the shadows, released Son Of A Plumber project which is pretty good and very personal to him. 3 singles were released from this album in Sweden and some European countries.
As about Roxette, this year (2006) the band is releasing their Greatest Hits album and the box with some rarities, demos and full Mtv Unplugged show on DVD.

Both releases will include 2 new songs "One Wish" and "Reveal" that are quite different to the 90's style of Roxette due to the absence of the guitar sounds. It's a pity for some fans while others say, "We should be happy that they are back!" Well, it's interesting what will happen to "One Wish" that is the first coming single. A video was made as well. A bubblegum video for a bubblegum song. Being too much commercial was a part of Roxette all the time, I think, especially when we say 4 Greatest Hits albums after only 7 studio albums.

Blog - A Place to Start

My friend Levon showed me this new Google feature which I was planning to create on my webpage for a long time to keep my friends posted about what's going on in my life. Kinda nice with all the HTML possibilities, templates, colors, customizations and so on. So may things that probably ... Microsoft :) should've created a long time ago and has lost the opportunity. Good job, google guys!