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About a year and a half ago, I started working at the Robotics group at the Technical University of Cluj-Napoca. The goal was (and still is) to develop a robotic rehabilitation framework, using biomechanics in the loop, to be used with post-stroke patients. Today, I finally started getting my hands dirty (still waiting for funding for the project) and things are moving. Literally :) One of the ideas for the project is to use the Cyton Gamma 1500 that is available at our lab, and I am starting to learn how to use it.

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Over the years, I got the same question over and over again: I am a tourist travelling to your city, what is there to see, to experience, what places to visit, which museums worth the trouble and in general, how should I spend my two days there? Well, as I am tired of trying to come up with a new list every time I get this question, I decided to write posts to answer it.

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Last week (13-14 June), we had the unique opportunity to attend the Open Innovation 2.0 conference, here at home, in Cluj-Napoca. Open Innovation 2.0 is a European Comission event belonging to OISPG, and this year it was organised by ARIES Technology cluster of Cluj in cooperation with the municipality of Cluj-Napoca. The event lasted two full days and we got the opportunity to learn about what is Open Innovation 2.0, what kind of projects exist around Europe on this topic, how much is the municipality and the universities interested in it, and what the citizens can do to foster Open Innovation.

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One of the most important tool in my productivity toolbox, is a way to keep track of what I have to do and what I have been doing. I’ve tried all kind of tools for the job, from simple note taking with pan and paper, to modern task management platforms with mobile apps and web applications. I somehow was never really satisfied, the main reason being that I haven’t found a solution that allows me to do both of these things in a satisfactory way.

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If you ask me what I like to do most in life, I would straightaway answer two things: solving problems and explaining things to others. I think these two passions are what led me to academia and eventually a career in research. Doing research is a non-stop problem-solving job. And once you solve your problems you need to explain your ‘complicated’ ideas, sometimes to people with a very different background than yours.

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This semester I am going to teach optimisation methods at the Technical University of Cluj-Napoca. As there are pretty calculation intensive methods that we use for optimisation, we obviously need use a mathematical package. For better or for worse, Universities these days are pretty much tided to proprietary software solutions and more specifically to the infamous MATLAB. So our first task for the semester is to make sure students know how to work with MATLAB.

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I’ve been hosting my own website for almost 7 years now, switching from different platforms, themes and content. But since the very beginning, it has been hosted in the namecheap servers. It’s a very nice service and I’m very satisfied with their products and customer service. Since a couple of years ago, namecheap started offering free TLS certificate issuing for all their hosting products, which is pretty awesome. They offer certificates that are valid for the duration of your hosting contract and they make them available from their website after you login.

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As the time of the year dictates, I am compiling a list of interesting books I read in the past 12 months. How do I define interesting? I consider books interesting if they somehow gave me either a new perspective or some nice moments of relaxation. I separated the recommendations based on categories, so that it is easier to follow, and wrote a short explanation of why I found each book worth sharing.

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I’ve mentioned some things briefly about version control in the reproducible research chapter, as it appeared as one of the four pillars constituting reproducible research. So what is version control? In the broad sense, version control is a way of keeping track of different versions of something. This something can be a process, a design, a document, an analysis or even a part of a software. The means of keeping track of different versions can vary and can be by simply making separate copies of the file for each version or using dedicated software to automate that process.

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Meetings are an integral part of academic life. Actually, it’s not only important at the university, but almost everywhere. You either have to work with people, give report to your suppervisors or receive updates from your subordinates. Organising a meeting is the most wide-spread way to do that. Often people will argue about its efficiency and necessity, however let’s assume that you cannot escape having them. What is there to be done besides trying to make them as effective and pleasant as possible?

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