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Peter Greko :: Blog

July 27, 2009

Well, as we know, Brasil is a very exotic place with very exotic plants.  They also produce lots of sugarcane, which as we know can make things really delicious.  From that tidbit of information, I can assure you that the drinks are incredible.  I will be running you through several drinks to definately try out.  The suprising thing is High Frictose Corn Syrup is never really used at all.  This is definately a blessing because not only is it healthier but it tastes better too!  So onto our drinks.

Guaraná

I cannot rave any more about this drink, seriously I think it is the best pop (yes I said pop instead of soda, I will be midwesterner till I DIE!!) that I have had down here.  Plus you can get it in Miami, thanks to all the Brasilians.(yes I spelled Brasil with an S, as the old saying goes when in Rome, VISIT THE VATICAN, you hethans).  This stuff is made out of a nut from the Amazon, how cool is that. It seems to have a lot of natural caffene which is always good.  Check out the wikipedia article about it.

 

 

Wiki article about awesomness of this Amazonian nut

 

For you non link clickers:

As a dietary supplement, guarana is an effective energy booster_it contains about twice the caffeine found in coffee beans (about 2–4.5% caffeine in guarana seeds compared to 1–2% for coffee beans).

Did we just read that?  Who needs those energy drinks when we have this gift from Mother Nature, THANKS!!!

 

 You can also get this in larger bottles too, we polished off a 2 litre last night.  It was great!  There are other brands out there but I would recomend sticking to the Antarctica brand.  It seems to taste the best.  They are also a Brasilian company that has recently reached out to other countries, like our separate country, South Florida.  Now onto other drinks.

 

 

açaí

We are all currently addicted to the wonderful smoothy that comes from this.  Seriously I really am addicted.  This is yet another exotic Amazonian fruit.

Now look at that image -->

you see that bowl of strawberries?  They look good dont they.  WELL ITS IN HERE!  They blend strawberries and açaí together!!! Then add Guarana to the mix.  OMG instant success!  Can you believe that?  Suposadly it is healthy or something.  I am from the midwest so we digest the unhealthy stuff, Detroit gives you those powers.  Now you can either eat it fancy like the bannana bowl one, or you can get it practically anywhere in the cup version.  One day I had four of them, I have only had one today but I will be hopefully eating 3 more.  Sometimes they put granola in it, but I am a purist.

Suprisingly this magical fruit comes from a palm tree of the sorts.  I so want to grow this in my back yard, too bad customs will not let me take it home.

 

Now for the budget minded people.

 

Guaravita!!!!!

This stuff is really cheap and it seems to be some sort of tea drink,  but it tastes INCREDIBLE.  The only problem is that rich Brasilians turn their nose up at it calling it a trash drink.  Whatever I am from the midwest and again can digest water from Lake Erie.

 

So lets get back to budget mindedness.  This drink usually costs R$1.  Which is like $0.54 US.  BUT if you dig, you can find it for R$0.50.  Can you believe that?  I want to bring home a case of this stuff.  It is great!  They have one infused with vitamins but that is way too healthy for me.

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July 03, 2009

As you can see from the other blogs in the group, we have been working on our projects and have been going to wonderous places of Brasil.  What is missing is how to survive in Brasil.  So I am dedicating this entry to the Rio de Janiero Niteroi Brasil Survival Guide.

STEP 1 What to bring:

There are many things I wish I had and there are things that I brought that are essential. In the following paragraphs will be a list of items that you should definately pack.

 

The first thing you should bring especially visiting Brasil in July is a hoody and a light jacket.  Remember that Brasil is in the Southern Hemisphere.  This means that the seasons are opposite and the water really does flow in the opposite direction. So this is a definite item that will be needed.  It is always good to bring it to handle the gentile breeze.

 

A good flashlight is definately needed.  It gets dark around 5-6PM which leaves a lot of activities done at night, due to the danger that often comes with Brasil, a good flashlight will help you in many ways.  The traffic is also pretty crazy around here and this will help keep you safe.

 

 I really wish I remembered to pack speakers.  How can you have a proper dance-off with your fellow PIRE researchers if you dont have a kicking sound system to get everything moving.  Luckily another PIRE researcher remembered this golden piece of electronics.

 

Wireless router for the broadband internet is definately needed to share connectivity with many devices. Especially if you live with others.  Make sure it can do 802.11g or better.  I would suggest doing WPA encryption with MAC address filtering.  There are tons of AP's that are running WEP that were easily cracked.  This allowed us to gain access temporarily but not to any bandwidth that was usable.

 

I cannot stress the importance of bringing your own towels.  Bring more than one too.  They go fast and the more you have the longer you can survive between laundry.  Make sure you have several sizes too. Make sure you also have a beach towel, even though it is winter here, the beach is still alive and a great place to go.

 

 The phones here all run off of simm chips.  If you have the ability to unlock a phone that takes a simm chip then you are all set, sort of.  Due to criminals usage of prepaid phones, they must register any and all simm chips with a real live breathing Brasilian, so you need to convince a Brasilian to let you use his ID to purchase a phone chip.  The prepaid cell phone simms are the best route, but there are drawbacks.   The phone company works in different ways, any incoming call is free for you.  Unfortunately any call you make, you pay for which happens to be REALLY EXPENSIVE.  In the USA we talk until we practically see each other, down here in Brasil you see the briefest phone conversations on the planet.

 

 

The importance of a good bank account is another thing that you cannot leave Miami with.  We all went to Citibank and opened an account that will not charge extra fees when we widthdrawl money from our accounts.  Bank of America was charging $4 for every transaction and 6% of any widthdrawls.  Exchanging money at the airport wasnt much help either.  The best solution we did was to open up the accounts with Citibank.  I am not trying to endorse Citibank here so go to several banks and talk to them about your situation and see what they can offer you.

 

OK GO NOW AND CREATE A SKYPE ACCOUNT!!! OK now pay for a Skype-Out number.  We have all been using my Skype-Out number and my portable wifi Skype phone.  Give us a call at 313-769-2900.  This service only costs $7-$10 a month and gives you unlimmited calling in the USA.  HOW CAN YOU BEAT THAT.  You know what? I am going to call mom and dad now.

 

 

 

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June 15, 2009

Due to the outbreak of the Swine Flu, my trip to Mexico was cancelled.  I enjoyed all the cultural training that I received for Mexico and hope that in the future I will go there.  But for now I am in Niteroi Brasil doing research at UFF.

The university is divided into several campuses that specialize in certain majors. The computer science department has many research projects that deal with GPU programming or Graphics Processing Unit.GPU's are very powerful parrallel processors and operate without any performance hit on the main processor.  By using GPU's you can do powerful computing that does not heavily tax the main processor. 

One of the projects they are doing with it is helping Petrobras locate oil on the ocean floor.  Right now 5 seconds of data takes a week to number crunch, with GPU programming they are trying to make it real time for the calculations.

Another project that I am very knowledgable at is the Reactable.  This device senses finger touch and plexi symbols to add interactive computing that changes with the display table.  An example of one is below.

 

 

They are building a small prototype and then a larger table for the university to use, working closely with Erick and Andre I will help them complete this table and create some programs for sound application using Processing and Pure Data.  My experience with Pure Data and Processing was gained through the ACM club of FIU and HackMiami.org.  

 My work on the Kaseya project is going well, we will be using the AutoIT and Visual Basic Script to create a preconfig checklist and automated install.  I will write more on this in the next entry.

 

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March 08, 2009

 I can't wait till I go off to Guadalajara to work on an IT Automation Solution for the university there!

 I know a lot of people are wondering where I am going so I found a video that explains what the city is like.

 

 

I went through my first training for preparation to go to Mexico and I learned all about Mexican history.  I was assigned 2 books to read in preparation for it and will be getting those books tomorrow.

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