Sunday, June 15, 2014

From Tel Aviv Israel? Brain Darin is NOT ALWAYS BAD!

David Blatt, Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv's winning head coach, is heading for the NBA...
David Blatt just announced his departure as head coach of Maccabi Tel Aviv, AFTER winning the European basketball championship! This comes at a day when Stanley Fischer, Israel's former bank of Israel governor has been approved to the number two position in the US FED. It may not seem like big news anywhere else but here in Tel Aviv. For decades, Israel has seen a steady brain drain to the US. At first in low level science and business circles. But recently it has also been in the very top ranks. Israelis do not speak easily when it comes to "yordim" (literally in Hebrew: going down, like to Egypt, or as opposite from "olim" going up TO ISRAEL). In the last Nobel prize (2013) announcement, Arieh Washel and Michael Levitt, two former Israelis were trumpeted as big ISRAELI success stories, both originally from here, yet making their homes, and somewhat embarrassingly, their successful contribution, away from here. Prime minister Benyamin Netanyahu, was featured on news channels proudly congratulating one of the winners. But the other, chose not to be associated with his former state, saying simply that early in his career, after graduating from the Weizmann Institute of Science, he was not seen as a possible (i.e. good enough) candidate to stay and research in his field, and therefore not awarded a tenure track position. Both scientists clearly told the sad story of leaving Israel in order to research in a top rank university. Both were reluctant to leave Israel but essentially told the same old story: "we did not see the opportunity in Israel, so we went off to another place... ".

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Israel WordCamp 2014

WordCamp Israel 2014 (5/27/2014) a view from the back, small room (c) Ami Vider 2014
For the first time in a few years WordCamp Israel came back to Tel Aviv. The excitement of "Hebrew WordPress" and "Israelis are blogging" has faded. What blogging was ten years ago in the US, was hot here seven to five years ago. The new development is fresh energy of individuals  keeping Israel on the WordPress map. From all the talks, the one by Woo Themes representative Joel Bronkowski telling the story of success with WooCommerce (a free plug-in) was the best one. Other talks on large sites, examples of work, and security issues and solutions also kept the crowd excited. The one new development in the open source and technology community in Israel is: GOOGLE! Not the company products in Hebrew or the work done by start-ups both in support and as part of the big American company, but the actual Google "Campus" a location which hosts local technology events (sometimes for free).

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Cheap Breakfast in Tel Aviv

For about 10 to 25 shekels (US$ 3.50 - 7.00) you get a good cup of cappuccino and a croissant, Naaman Bakery, Givatay'im Mall, 16 shekels, © May 2014, Ami Vider
Tel Avivians are known for their big wonderful (with many small side dishes) breakfasts. In most cafes and restaurants, for anywhere between 40 and 120 shekels (US$ 11.40 - 34.30) you can get a nice large breakfast. The alternative is a coffee with a "baked good" (i.e. Cafe-U'-Ma'afe). Essentially a coffee with "something". In regular cafes, especially in chains like Arcafe (N/A)*, Aroma (N/A), and Cafe Neto (13+17=30), you will get a medium or small cappuccino with a croissant. The prices vary across location and specific coffee chain. Expect to pay about 15 to 25 on an average. If you want additional items like another shot of coffee or a bigger pastry, it will usually add 5 shekels to the deal. In the streets of Tel Aviv you will find a decent cafe with a good Italian steam coffee maker and good coffees in most public areas. In the center of the city, almost every block will have a place to buy and sit for a few minutes. Independent cafes are making an attempt to compete with the large chains. There are smaller chains with 10 ~ 20 branches. There are also a number of independent cafes usually with something to offer either local shoppers or another kind of specialty. Bakeries usually will have a machine on the side so they can sell you a good cup of coffee. In the outer lying areas, even in towns like Givatay'im, Ramat Gan, Hertzeliya, and Yafo (Jaffa), you will find local cafes open early. There, the take-out business is brisk between 7:00 and 8:00 AM. Any self respecting commuter will find himself without his jolt of caffeine before getting into the car ti sit in traffic.

* cost of small/regular cappuccino and a croissant as published on the company's web site. N/A: not available (not published), probably varies with location.