Vele's Thoughts

Vele discusses investing in Macedonia, technology, digital photography, business and international affairs

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I’m the expert on flat taxes…

My first quote in the Wall Street Journal in support of the Macedonian government’s flat taxes. I gave this quote few weeks back on the 8th South East European Economic forum in Sofia, Bulgaria. Macedonia recently introduced flat corporate and personal income taxes, 10% each, starting in 2008. We’re officially the tax haven in Europe for businesses.

Milton Friedman’s influence

I read today that Milton Friedman died. One of the truly great economic minds and the person whose writings were most influential on my decision to study economics at the University of Chicago. I used to read in great detail his seminal works and admired his ability to delve in technical economic work and consicely present the arguments for monetary policy understandable to everyday people. This was even before I started at Chicago while I prepared for economics at the Santa Monica College. New students of economics should definitely read his books such as: Capitalism and Freedom, Price Theory, and The Road to Serfdom (only intro), among others.

Macedonia will not sell title to the land

I had a interview published in the Macedonian weekly FOKUS. As much as I have tried to convince the owner to publish the magazine online, he’s a stalwart. However, for the benefit of many Macedonians and readers from abroad, I’m making available the interview here:

, and .


On my way to Macedonia…

I hate moving! I have moved every year since 2003. First it was Jersey City to Philadelphia in 2003. This was a smooth move. First long distance family move, but smooth! Then, we changed buildings in Center City in 2004. Savings on rent, energy costs, conveniences, bugs, long story. Then we moved to and from Seattle during the summer. Then last year we made the biggest move yet, Philadelphia to Seattle, courtesy of Microsoft. Very smooth move, despite over $6500 in losses and damage, all because of enormouse help provided by Microsoft. And now, we’re moving to Macedonia. It’s the longest distance move ever, but with the smallest of things. Mostly packing clothes, immediate necessities and some books, and not to forget our snowboards and skiing equipment.

I’m physched about snowboarding in Macedonia this winter! That and the new job are keeping me sane. My family on the other hand…they are bearing the brunt of the sacrifice, but we’re all optimistic. We’re just anxious to get there and resume our lives.

Did I mention I hate moving? What do you do to keep you sane during such moves?

End of an era (or 1 year)


I just resigned from Microsoft. It feels a bit weird given I’ve been there only 14 months (17 if you count my internship). It’s definitely the strangest resignation I’ve had (and I’ve had only 2). I’m a bit saddened because I’m leaving a great group of people and an excellent team behind.

The great news is that I’m heading to an amazing and very exciting new opportunity: Minister for Foreign Investments for Macedonia.

How do you market a country?

How do you enable economic growth without any resources at your disposal?

Kill Google’s Firefox…

I read Kill Bill’s Browser some time ago. Now, Om Malik finally catches up to it. I can only summarize my impression of these two sites and initiatives as a big “Whine!”. I’ve used Firefox many times, but stopped after MSN desktop search practically closed the game on Firefox’s advantages over IE. To me, it’s really a toss-up between IE and Firefox, just that many sites to prefer IE. (Wharton Auctions, MSFT internal sites, Active Directory domain logging, etc.). I still occasionally use Firefox for no particular reason, but is it better than IE? Not really, in my opinion.

I’m very honest in my product reviews and the last person to defend Microsoft just on ideology, but just for fun, let’s disect the 13 Good Reasons to Switch to Firefox. This is really for comical relief. First read them and then read this:

1. Since SP2, and that was last summer, IE has had pop-up blocker and pretty hefty security installed in the browser. Firefox is nothing special here.

2. I’d change this to: “Let’s gratuitously drop the porn angle because it just adds filler to our list”

3. Does Firefox have better security than any browser? I doubt it and I’ve never had a problem with IE spam/spyware taking over my PC. Again, filler reason with porn derivative Viagra.

4. Mozilla uses Google as the sugar daddy and Google doesn’t vaccinate anyone, thus making these guys Google’s lackeys.

5. Maybe some web designers are just not worth it. Every year, bazillion PC’s suffer the brunt of customers’ vulgarity because the crappy web designers use Flash to f**k up our browsing experience. Sorry, no sympathy for me. Besides with 80% plus market share on IE, who cares about the small fish 🙂

6. Whatever, get some glasses. View->Text Size->Largest, whew! that cost you 2 secs of your life.

7. Bash Firefox because it will make these guys whine even more.

8. Filler! Mozilla topped IE in being a memory hogging browser with plug-ins that crash.

9. All in IE since SP2 and MSN Desktop Search. Fire-what?

10. Someone on this team has got issues: porn, viagra, 14 and 16-year olds, do I smell a Megan’s law fugitive?

11. What tech support? Not a single problem with IE, but at least I know who to call.

12. Bill’s mojo ain’t the IE, it’s Windows.

13. Sour grapes. Get over it…

WindowsVista is here

My first post from WindowsVista. Ain’t it cool?

But seriously, the demo at Microsoft’s annual brief in Atlanta (MGB) showed lots of cool features in WindowsVista that will a must have for many consumers. My favorite: instant Peer-2-peer session between two machines that enables seamless sharing of workspace, application documents and information. All you need are two network/wifi cards. Awsome….

The visualizations in the interface are also amazing, hence the name Vista.

In the meantime, signup for the Beta 1 that should be available first week of August.

Stay tuned…

Seattle it is…

After 13 hours of driving, we busted into Seattle at exactly 10pm last night after leaving Redwood City at 9am. That’s precision you can count on, I even beat the clock by the car’s navigation system which projected 10:50pm arrival time.

The results: 86 hours of driving and 18.3 mpg for the entire trip according to the ML’s trip computer. That’s both pretty good and sad. It’s pretty good because we beat the EPA’s highway estimate of 15-17mpg for ML 500. It’s sad because it’s an awful fuel economy especially at $60/barrel gas price.

Interesting info: Northern CA has large olive, orchard and especially rice production. The rice production uses laser-guided, computer assisted irrigation system that floods the fields. The fields are then seeded by airplane. That is incredible productivity and a big news to me. The temperatures — 99F — were easily the highest we have seen anywhere except for the 100F in Vegas. Mount Shasta is Northern CA’s Mount Rainier, similarly striking beauty of a snow-covered mountain top towering high over nearby ranges. Lake Shasta is very captivating with its deep green water and orange-brown beaches creating inviting contrast to partake in the activity of the usually white boats that break its stillness.

The town of Weed, CA remains a popular destination of many half-baked jokes.

Oregon is beautiful. That doesn’t need much explanation, it just is, and the further north we went the scenery around the I-5 reminded me of Macedonia especially in the Prilep – Bitola region — Pelagonija valley — the largest valley in Macedonia surrounded by a few hills and big mountains on all ends.

Today’s plan: brunch at the Hi Spot Cafe in Madrona…yes!

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