Ден на детето

Скъпи деца,

Бъдете все така усмихнати, любознателни и добри;
вечно здрави, щастливи и улисани във весели игри.

Не спирайте се вий пред нищо на света
да търсите, умувате;
    да пеете, танцувате;
        да се гоните или пък рисувате;
да помагате на всеки – без да се срамувате.
И днес, и утре, и във всеки миг от вечността.

Ний, съратниците на „Глагол“,
желаем вам за този слънчев ден,
всеки да е от знание и слово озарен,
    да опознае четмото и писмото,
        да желае истината и доброто;
да предава туй послание наред.
И тук. И там. Навсякъде. Навред.

Честит празник! :)

Първоначално написано за Facebook страницата на Сдружение „Глагол“.

„Партиски веб“ за македонската политика

Драги съграждани,

В последните дни се изговори и изписа много за случващото се в Югозападната ни съседка. Не забравяйте, че всеки от Вас може да си изгради собствено мнение за политическата ситуация там посредством македонската версия на „Партиен уеб“, която поддържам от няколко месеца.

Засега бройката с партийните канали от Република Македония е доста по-малка отколкото в България, но в бъдеще ще се увеличава и ще можете да се информирате пряко от самите политици, без да се налага да се осланяте на посредници, които може волно или неволно да изопачават казаното.

Засега сбирката е достъпна на: http://mk.partienweb.com/

–Стефан Маринов

Why I consider myself an entrepreneur?

I often get asked this question. The short answer is that it is mainly because I have been surrounded by such people during my whole life and there is no other thing that seems even remotely as natural as this to me.

The first main reason for that is the family I come from. My father operated his small (almost medium-sized) company for high-quality fruit and vegetables during my whole childhood. Therefore, I sometimes visited him at work and helped him with minor tasks. Unfortunately he failed, but he has been working at my mother‘s business ever since. They take projects for the expert valuation of immovable property on behalf of several Bulgarian courts of justice or private contractors. Apart from a few other family members who have been self-employed, one of my grandfathers was a renowned wine-maker before the fall of Bulgaria under pseudo-communist rule. However, I won’t go as far as to say that it is ‘in my blood’, but I definitely know what the life of an entrepreneur is like, with all its ups and downs…

The second reason is my prior experience in the NGO sector. As a student at the High School of Mathematics in Varna, I co-initiated the debating society there and started visiting numerous meet-ups with experienced entrepreneurs. When I moved to Germany for university, I immediately joined the PionierGarage, the student entrepreneurship club in Karlsruhe. Together with a few other members, I attended the founding ceremony of Gründermagnet, the association of student entrepreneurial initiatives in the German-speaking world. What is more, I led the research team at talKIT, the largest technology forum in Europe solely organised by students, and started r2b-student, a student-led technology transfer consultancy focused on university research with potentially high social and/or ecological impact.

The third reason is my love for technology thanks to my education. It all started with the first computer that I received when I was eight, and continued in high school with the dozens of programming and science competitions I took part in. Most notably, I represented Bulgaria at the 2006 International Astronomy Olympiad in Mumbai, India. Between 2010 and 2014 I studied at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) where I got my B.Sc. degree in Mechanical Engineering with a focus on mechatronics, autonomous vehicles, and robotics, attending a number of scientific and entrepreneurial conferences. After that, I moved to the TU Munich in order to pursue a Master’s degree in Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, and Cognitive Systems, and to further establish r2b-student to a new location.

My last reason is my practical experience in technical projects. For instance, I worked as a software developer in the early stages of two separate student groups building autonomous vehicles, Kamaro and KITcar, helping the latter with their establishment as a registered non-profit society (e.V.). I also did an internship as a hardware engineer in an early-stage startup for virtual reality, Inreal Technologies, programmed for several KIT research projects, tutored three courses while I was still there, and started Glagol, an open web-platform for discussing the development of Bulgarian language, to which much of my free time gets devoted.

All this makes it highly possible that I remain part of the startup world, although I am still not sure whether I will start my own business, or continue helping others either by directly working there, financially, or through consulting.

On Russian as a world language…

The contents of this publication stem from a few points in a Quora answer I just read and interacted with. It was written in response to a question I have recently discussed in my weblog: What language(s) I want to learn and why.

The original author of the answer goes on and on about studying Russian because they are interested in Russia and countries from the former Eastern Bloc and they may want te use it for future job applications in the region as the Russian Federation has big potential to remain relevant in world trade and politics. All reasons are perfectly legitimate, however, with a minor but important caveat.

As I wrote in my original response to this, people should note that Russian is not nearly as popular in Central and Eastern Europe as it used to be, maybe only apart from Belarus and the Ukraine to some extent. So it may be really challenging to communicate with younger people from Poland, the Czech Republic, or even Serbia and Bulgaria, without any other languages like English, French, German, and maybe some Spanish. However, older people may still be able to at least understand you and give you some directions in broken Russian.

Of course, this may change in future and, what is more, this particular language is extensively used in Central Asia, where it is even co-official in a number of countries. Furthermore, it’s true that the Russian Federation has the potential (in terms of resources and land mass) to retain its place among the leading economies worldwide. This makes studying the largest Slavic language nowadays a wise choice if you want to enjoy cultural works or communicate with a lot of people in it. And who knows, maybe some of those who start studying it will decide to learn other (Slavic) languages in future as well… :)

Мами ли се при следването в Германия?

Тези размисли се породиха покрай следната статия на ЧЗВзаУни.

Както писах и под първоизточника, моят опит показва, че е невъзможно да се мами, хитрува или преписва. От ръководствата на университетите очакват, че всички студенти са достатъчно зрели, за да си дават сметка, че е в техен личен интерес да бъдат честни и оценките им да отразяват истинските им познания. В крайна сметка всеки (би трябвало да) си избира да следва нещо с идеята да разбере възможно най-много и в крайна сметка да стане добър специалист в своята област. Това прави оценките напълно маловажни като критерий за успешността на едно следване, ако студентът се е постарал да усвои възможно най-много и най-разнообразни практически умения.

Всички са чували за митично безкрайните възможности за личностно и професионално развитие при следване в чужбина. Ами не са верни… напълно. Не че не съществуват – напротив! Само който не е потърсил и не е пожелал, не се е възползвал от възможностите около себе си. Но това важи както за най-престижните западни и източни университети, така и за най-добрите такива в България, а дори и за не толкова силните висши учебни заведения навсякъде по света. Мотивирани съмишленици, били те състуденти, преподаватели, обслужващи или дори несвързани с ВУЗ-а, със сигурност се намират – къде в по-големи, къде в по-малки количества – навсякъде!

Но да се върна на основната тема. Щом като от човек се очаква, въобще да не се опитва да минава между капките, тогава какво всъщност е по-различното в Германия, Австрия и Швейцария? Ами, че въпреки всичко правилата са строги и хванат ли те – изхвърчаш!

Държа да отбележа, че моите впечатления са свързани освен с Карлсруе (KIT) и Мюнхен (TU), донякъде и с повечето по-престижни университети „в околността“, а именно тези във Фрайбург, Базел, Хайделберг, Тюбинген, Цюрих (ETH и Uni), Виена (TU, WU и Uni), Мюнхен (LMU), Манхайм, Дармщат и Щутгарт, а със сигурност изтървам някои…

Макар и да не съм следвал лично на никое от тези места, с изключение на първите две, отвсякъде съм чувал за многобройни случаи на изхвърлени студенти, които са се опитвали да препишат на изпит, да изплагиатстват домашното си или да измамят по друг начин. На мен лично подобни методи много ми допадат, защото винаги съм смятал подобни опити за напълно безпредметни и неразбираеми. Никого не бият по главата да става висшист, така че всеки е свободен да се отпише, когато не му е интересно да си върши съвестно работата. Непрестанно се откриват толкова много работни места за желаещите да упражняват най-различни благородни професии, които не изискват висше образование от университет, че направо свят да му се завие на човек…

Уви, тези строги мерки явно не се вземат навсякъде! Или поне така е според резултатите от неособено добре обоснованото „изследване“ в немския първообраз на гореописаната статия. За второразрядни университети, специализирани или дуални висши училища, това е разбираемо, но в интереса на всички би трябвало да бъде, то да се изкорени час по-скоро. Искрено се надявам, че поне в учебните заведения, известни с по-високо ниво на преподаване и научни изследвания, това не е така в никоя специалност, защото иначе заради единици нехранимайковци ще се разваля представата за всички честни студенти, които с пот на челото се опитват да научат (много) нови неща и да станат по-добри в нещо съвсем ново.

What language(s) I want to learn and why

This is my answer to the same question on Quora, which was subdivided into the following three parts:

  1. What language(s) do you speak fluently now?
  2. What language(s) are you learning at the moment?
  3. What language(s) do you want to learn and why?

(1) Currently, I consider myself fluent in:

  • Bulgarian because I am Bulgarian who was born and raised in Bulgaria.
  • English because I grew up almost bilingual with it thanks to extensive language classes in and outside of school, movies, music, the Internet, etc.
  • German because I have studied it extensively during high school and have been living in Germany and studying in German since 2010.

(1.5) What is more, I am somewhat fluent in:

  • Macedonian because it is the closest language to Modern Bulgarian. It is so close that in Bulgaria it is still largely considered to be just a dialect despite the fact that after WWII it diverged under the influence of Serbo-Croatian (see below). Fun fact: the Bitola dialect was almost chosen for the standard form of Bulgarian after the formation of the modern Bulgarian state in 1878. Modern-day Macedonian is largely based on it! :) However, I have quite a few other reasons for learning it: I have some Bulgarian and Macedonian friends who come from Macedonia and I enjoy reading contemporary Macedonian literature and listening to current Macedonian music. In addition, most folk songs, proverbs, myths, fables and national heroes (among other things) are common in present-day Bulgaria and Macedonia and the language offers another point of view over many of them, so this helps me appreciate my heritage more.
  • Russian because in school I participated in many science olympiads and the best problems in Mathematics, Physics, and to some extent Computer Science (among others), could only be found in old Soviet textbooks. Later in life, I started to occasionally read Rusian literature, watch Russian television, and listen to Russian music. Literary Russian is a Slavic language and has largely evolved along with Old Church Slavonic, which until the 12th-13th century was mostly influenced by Bulgarian scholars. In fact, Old Bulgarian is considered to have been almost entirely identical as Old Church Slavonic, although this is not entirely correct because there were some manuscripts in territories that weren’t that influenced by Bulgaria at that time. I have occasionally tried to speak Russian, but it’s hard for me because we (mostly) don’t have cases in Modern Bulgarian and they are not always identical to the older revisions of Old Church Slavonic.

(1.75) I can understand the following languages to various extent:

  • Old Church Slavonic because of many of the remarks about Russian. Obviously, I like history, too, so I have enjoyed reading various old texts written in Old or Middle Bulgarian which were closer to it. Its modern revision (that was in turn largely influenced by present-day Russian) is partially used in churches so I can understand it without any problems. However, I can’t speak it as it’s a dead language, even more so than Latin. Most discussions on religious matters are done in the respective modern language.
  • Serbo-Croatian (and thus present-day Serbian, Croatian, Bosnian, and Montenegrin) because they are the closest Slavic languages to Bulgarian after Macedonian due to the geographic proximity and a lot of common history, though not as much as with Macedonia. For example, many medieval monarchs on both sides were with mixed blood and territories often changed their possession, so the languages continued to be very similar for quite some time, and have actually largely remained so despite some major differnces like the almost complete lack of noun cases in Modern Bulgarian and their extensive use on the other side. Furthermore, I have enjoyed a significant amount of Yugoslavian and post-Yugoslavian movies and music.

(2) I am going to keep it brief here, although I have studied other languages as well, but you will find them in the final section:

  • Spanish because I started studying it without any particular reason, apparently liked the language, and am somehow still learning it. I can now understand a lot, but can barely use it on my own.
  • French because I really like French food, movies, music, humour, literature, and culture in general.
  • Esperanto because of the answers to my question here: Which conlang can be considered best for everyday usage? There is more to it, but this discussion actually made me start learning it. :)

(3) I would like to learn (in this order):

  • Romanian because I have always wanted to be able to communicate with my fellow Romanians. It turns out that we have a lot more in common than we often admit to ourselves, not just in the past, but in the present as well. :)
  • Italian: same reasoning as for French, but (currently) not as pronounced.
  • Modern Greek and maybe Modern Turkish: same reasoning as for Romanian, but not as pronounced. I don’t personally know as many natives and the languages are linguistically different from everything I am familiar with. However, there are significant Greek and Turkish minorities in Bulgaria and historical influences from the languages to Bulgarian, so both of them should be pretty useful to appreciate my heritage even more.
  • Mandarin Chinese (Putonghua) and maybe Japanese because of the respective culture and the way the languages sound like. I have tried properly studying both in the past and am still passively interacting with them, however mostly with Chinese.
  • I have thought about studying a lot of other natural and constructed languages and I may try some of them if I find the necessary motivation, but I am pretty sure I have enough to do before being able to move all of the above to the first group. :)

How long does it take to get a PhD?

This is my answer to the same question on Quora.

In Germany, your BSc is supposed to last 3 years, you then proceed to finish your MSc for 2 more years, and conclude with the PhD for 3 years.

However, my impression is that many people on average need about (at least) an year more during most, if not all, of these stages, so it is not entirely uncommon to take 4 or even 5 years after your MSc to finish your PhD.

If you choose go into another field, you may need to take some extra classes or even a new MSc degree (sometimes only unofficially), which would lead you to maybe up to 6 or 7 years, depending on your research during the PhD.

StudyMentors – learn about studying abroad

Dear readers,

Many of you and your acquaintances studied, have been studying and/or are planning to study at a university abroad. Thus, you may find the following website quite helpful: https://studymentors.eu/

Until now, I have been a mentor for a few people and I must say that the experience is really unique and I myself have learned a lot although I haven’t been actively seeking any advice as a mentee.

Registration takes less than a minute and you get e-mail notifications when someone asks you something. You just click the link and can directly reply to the other person with a new personal message (no extra login required).

Even if you decide against the usage of this service, please tell your family and friends about it. Hopefully, it will grow and will be able to become even more helpful than before. Sharing is caring!

Ден на будителите

Драги сънародници,

Нека несамо днес си спомняме за нашите примери за подражание от най-ново време, а по-честичко се мъчим да следваме стъпките им.

Противно на масовото объркване, Денят на всички (български) светии, вдъхновили десетки поколения преди нас, се отбелязва в съвсем друга част от годината, а именно на втората неделя след Петдесетница. Като гражданите на една модерна и светска държава, на днешния ден се обръщаме с почит предимно към тези наши сънародници, без чиито саможертви не бихме могли да се наслаждаваме на свободата и благосъстоянието, които, за жалост, за по-голямата част от света все още са само далечен блян…

Въпреки всичко, Нашата чиста и свята република е една цел, изискваща непрестанни усилия, каквито с най-голямо удоволствие мога да установя в огромни количества сред моите познати, съмишленици, а също и много непознати – млади, по-млади и съвсем млади – съотечественици. Нека всички ние продължим да си помагаме, когато имаме нужда от помощ, и се постараем да не си пречим по пътя към общото благо, ако не заради самите нас, то поне в името на онези, които ще дойдат след нас.

Да живее България!

„Партиен уеб“ – онлайн телевизия за политика

Изборите в България отново наближават, но информацията за идеите на политическите партии и коалиции е оскъдна, зле поднесена, а понякога дори преиначена, волно или неволно, заради препредаването на чужди думи от уста на уста.

„Партиен уеб“ е електронен справочник с най-новите видеоклипове, качени във видеопортала „YouTube“ от представители на българските политически партии. Посредством посещение на уебстраницата или абонамент в любимия RSS/atom четец, заинтересованите граждани могат редовно да следват посланията, предназначени за тях… без излишни посредници!

Надявам се с тази безплатна услуга да помогна малко с ориентацията в политическите тенденции у нас, за да могат повече хора да избират по-информирано и по-отговорно, получавайки малко по-добра отчетност от всички, които се борят за техния глас.

–Стефан Маринов

П.П. Адресът на „Партиен уеб“ е: http://partienweb.com/