KTamas' Blog

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Posts about 2015

Mid-year status update

· 945 words · 5 min read


I quit my day job at the end of last year to become a freelance consultant, and so far it has been going well. The first few months were much harder, than I thought it would be, with the newfound freedom bringing much more free time, but a lot of stress, financial and otherwise. However, now I am six months in, and I have already worked with several clients, sorted out accounting (ugh), realized it’s a really bad idea to have my work e-mail mixed with my personal ones, and I’m heading to Southern Europe for 2 months in a week.

I got a two-month consulting gig at a translation agency doing some integration work (read: software development) with their workflow system, customer portal and a popular CAT tool. Perks include being in warm and sunny Barcelona for a week and in even warmer and sunnier Bologna afterwards. I even get to have a mini-vacation in Marseille just before, courtesy of a very good friend of mine who has a flat there.


I have written a neat little gear post about three times now, but I am never satisfied with it, so here’s the short version with some links, and a longer one coming soon (or not).

In January I got an Eye-Fi Mobi card, turning my 6D into a ginourmous point-and-shoot that sends all the pictures I take to my iPhone in 20 seconds. It is perfect for JPEG shooting (way too slow for RAW work), and gave several month’s of motivation to lug my DSLR around everywhere with me again.

On my iPhone 6 Plus (yes, it’s big; but the camera, the battery and the screen real estate makes up for it, most of the time) I use the built-in Photos app for cropping picture and VSCO for editing; it handles the 22mpx files surprisingly well. Even with its limits and the occasional crashes, I have found VSCO to be by far the best photo editor on mobile, and I have tried plenty other (Afterlight, Darkroom, Enlight etc.). Hell, I bought most of the filter packs, even though usually I loathe spending money on In-app purchases.

Another permanent addition to my camera bag is the Fuji Instax Share printer, that prints 2×3″ pictures from my smartphone onto Fuji Instax Mini film. It’s expensive, the film is expensive and the quality is okay at best and I do not care about any of these, because it is fucking magic. I can take a picture on my 6D, have it on my phone, print it out, and give it to the person I took the picture of, in about 2 minutes. That is something you can not measure in money. It is also an excellent ice-breaker in a many social situations.

Last but not least, with the help of my friend Krisztián I fell in love with Fuji’s X series ILC cameras, having used an X-E1 and the 35mm f/1.4 for a few days when I was in Budapest in May. Afterwards I got myself the newer X-E2, but I quickly realized that I hate the new sensor’s colors and tones, not to mention the dreadful “plastic skin” issue on the JPEGs (google fuji plastic skin, if you are interested…), in which noise reduction goes crazy and makes you look like a wax figure. So I returned the X-E2, got myself a new-old-stock X-E1 with the kit 18-55mm f/2.8-4 lens, which is an excellent, excellent lens. I have my eyes set on the 56mm f/1.2 and the one of the ultrawide lenses, but that’s for another time. Fuji helps you to be careful with your lens purchases by making them really expensive.

The X-E1 may have a slower EVF and autofocus than the X-E2, but it makes gorgeous black and white JPEGs that are the best I have ever seen. My 6D’s JPEGs look rubbish in comparison.

Most of my pictures nowadays end up on my Facebook or Instagram accounts, so add me there, if you are interested.


By now I got to a “shitty conversational” level with Swedish, with Duolingo‘s course being a big help sorting out some of my grammar issues and expanding my vocabulary a bit. I still lack practice and construct sentences in English in my head, but it is progress. With practice, it will improve, and I am not in a hurry. Also, by now I am pretty good at understanding Swedish.

I also started learning Ukrainian (on Duolingo, of course). I have many Russian-speaking friends (most of them are from Ukraine or Latvia) and I want to be able to talk with them without a lot of Google/Yandex Translate. I also like languages, so why not.

But why Ukrainian, and not Russian, asks everyone? Because I was interested and they don’t have a Russian course on Duolingo yet, that’s why and Duolingo is pretty much the only language-learning software that keeps me motivated enough. Ukrainian is also a beautiful language (Russian is somewhat less so, in my not-so-humble opinion), and a bit easier; also, most of my Russian-speaking friends can understand and/or speak Ukrainian. Meanwhile I pick up a fair amount of Russian just by listening to them speaking. It can be hard to keep the two languages separate in my head, but at this point, it helps that I can mix them.

It is not an easy language: the grammar has similarities to Hungarian with three genders (okay, we don’t have genders in Hungarian), an excessive number of cases and conjugations, virtually no fixed word order, and euphony (but we do have all of these). Nevertheless, I really enjoy learning it.

To be continued


Однієї мови ніколи не досить

· 193 words · 1 min read

One language is never enough, is the phrase above, and it’s true. I’ve been here for more, than a week now, and I quickly got used to the fact that things are written in Ukrainian but the people I know here speak Russian (mixed with some Ukrainian) and the people on the street speak, well, both. Because of the subtle differences in the Cyrillic between Ukrainian and Russian, at this point reading Russian is weird to me.

Unfortunately, a week here is not enough to make me be able to read Cyrillic at a comfortable speed, I still need to go through every word and transliterate it slowly in my head, but it did improve somewhat. If I’d live here for a few months (which I really would not want to do…), I am pretty sure I could get to a conversational level, given that far less people speak English and you are kind of forced to speak Russian/Ukrainian.

And I have to say, Ukrainian is a lot more interesting out of these two, although I guess I could not get away learning it without learning Russian too. It’s a good package deal.

Kiev, day 1 and 2

· 650 words · 4 min read

2015-02-11 15.16.49

I arrived to Kyiv Zhulyany just before 3pm, local time (we are in GMT+2 territory here). I was a bit worried about all the border control things, with leaving the EU and whatnot, but they just looked at my passport, put a stamp in it, looked at my suitcase with the X-Ray machine and I was out of the airport.

Alex and Artem greeted me and picked me up, then we drove to Artem’s place where I will be staying for most of the time. Took a bunch of pictures on the way there. Kiev looks like the pictures you would have seen from the 80’s USSR, but with shopping malls and McDonalds restaurants and modern cars.

Yes, nobody uses their seatbelt and everyone drives a bit crazy, we observed a police car do a u-turn in the middle of a 6-lane road, it was quite something, I kind of admire how they pulled that one off, at the same time I would not want to drive around here.

Ukraine has very little 3G coverage; at the same time, public Wi-Fi is very common and right now, at home, I am sitting at a symmetrical 100mbit connection. I do have to say the EDGE connection is very stable; yes, it is slow, but in Hungary or Sweden, dropping back to 2G renders my iPhone unusable; here, it does not.

After we got home, and sorted out the important things (wi-fi password, food; in this order), we went back to the city to see Maidan and the things around there.

We took a bus first, which are like Hungarian buses but much more crowded and you better put everything in your coat’s inner pocket if you don’t want to get pick-pocketed. The ticket inspector walks around, with a thick pile of cash in her hand (which is deceiving, given how much the Hrivnya is worth), you give her some cash, she gives you your tickets.

For the underground, which are the exact same models you can see in Hungary, you use tokens you buy for 2UAH, they are rather cute, like they would be from a board game or something.

The metro station at Maidan is really deep; the escalator takes several minutes, and according to the internet, this is not the deepest one, because there is one that is 107 meters from the surface.

Then you walk down the road towards Maidan, and you hear the stories of last year, they show you where the snipers were, you see all the memorials and pictures of those who died and your heart breaks.

We walked around in a somewhat humid -8, which means, that right now everything in my body still hurts. The climate in general is very different, my blood pressure is through the roof since I have arrived, hopefully I will accommodate in a day or two. Actually, while some of it is true, the explanation is a bit more simple: I have the flu which I caught back in Hungary. I had a temperature of 39,3 degrees yesterday, much better now that I drank some Coldrex.

We saw the bridge where couples usually propose, and of course, as customary, all the locks there; we’ve seen Kiev in the night from a nice look-out place.

On the way back they were selling toilet paper with Putin’s face. I need to get some of that. And of course, before we headed home, we stopped at a McDonalds to rest and warm up a bit.

As for day 2, I spent the time home being sick and being appalled how terrible I am at blogging in English.

Oh, by the way, the food is awesome. More about it in a later post. I have a lot more to write but I should really press the “Publish” button already.

I took a lot of pictures which you can find here and here.