martes, mayo 27, 2008

Dutifrí desde Vietnam

La última edición de dutifrí, el programa de viajes de Javier Sardá, ha estado dedicado a Vietnam. Desgraciadamente lo de pernoctar se terminó con mi época de estudiante, sobre todo de domingo a lunes... Decidí entonces apostar todas mis cartas a YouTube! y la jugada me salió redonda.

Directo desde Ho Chi Minh, la antigua Saigón, el programa se centra en su primera media hora en la guerra de Vietnam. Quizás no podría ser de otra manera, el recuerdo de la guerra en Vietnam es omnipresente, sobre todo en ciudad HCM.

Esta primera media hora me ha traido algunos recuerdos de mi fugaz visita a HCM en Marzo de 2006. Primero, Sardá visita los túneles de Cu Chi, muy típico si vas a Saigón. Después habla con Juan Antonio Velázquez, médico militar español destinado al delta del Mekong durante la guerra contra los americanos. Siempre me había causado gran curiosidad la historia de los 12 médicos españoles que Franco trasladó desde el Sáhara y plantó a más de 10.000 km a petición de Johnson. La entrevista se entremezcla con imágenes de la época filmadas en superocho. Muy emotivo...También emotiva es la entrevista con Kim Phuc, aquella famosa niña que corría desnuda hacia ninguna parte, abrasada por el napalm. El objetivo de una cámara la inmortalizaría en la que resultó ser, sin duda, la foto por excelencia de la guerra. Foto que le valdría un premio Pulitzer para Nick Ut (Associated Press).

En la segunda mitad del programa, Sardá nos invita a dar un paseo por Saigón de la mano de varios españoles, especiales todos ellos, hay que serlo para plantarse de aquí al otro lado del planeta. Y para que no se diga que el mundo no es un pañuelo, Sardá conoce al tío-abuelo de Pocholo.

Creo que una hora no puede dar más de sí. Sardá y su equipo han sabido retratar en este intervalo de tiempo, escaso, la esencia de tan aglomerada metrópolis. Sin olvidarse tampoco de las zanzagueantes motos, miles de motos que nunca paran de zuzumbar por el día, como abejas. Y por la noche, cuando las luces se encienden, todas esas motos se convierten en luciérnagas...En ciduad HCM hay más de 4 millones de motocicletas.

A continuación teneis todos los enlaces a los videos, y uno directo al primero para ir haciendo boca. Cuidado, engancha...

jueves, mayo 22, 2008

Export manga on the media

Today's El Pais newspaper feature, on its supplement Cyberpais, an interview with Amir Najjari and Bernardino Todolí, founders of manga and japanese young culture website Export-manga.

It's not the first time I talk about Export Manga on the blog, but to summarize a bit, the story goes like this: Amir, who is a good friend of mine, decided finally to move to Japan, despite not been quite sure of what he was going to do there... But, being in such of love with Japan it was something that eventually he had to do.

Maybe it was fate or not, but during his staying there he met Bernardido, a computer engineer and also a devoted Aikido student. Together they have bring Export Manga to life.

Export Manga is thought as something more than just an online manga shop. That's not something new, that's not fresh, the internet is plenty of shops selling things, and for that, ebay does a pretty good job. But, what makes Export Manga special, and it is honestly one of things I like the most, is the community build around the shop.

Trust is key to business. If you want your users to use your services, if you want your customers to be satisfied, they have to trust you. Putting in sale thousands of products, or competing in prices are not going to make you special, that won't build trust.

On the other hand, caring about your customers, listening to their requests, let them participate in chats, in forums, bring them news from the very heart of Tokyo, keep them up to date with the latest, showing them how is the real Japan featuring reports, online videos...that will make them feel special, that's building a community, and that will build up trust.

Please guys, keep on doing the good job!

This is some of the interesting stuff you may find at Export Manga

sábado, mayo 17, 2008

Artist cloud

Today I went back to do some Google Gadget hacking for Amarok Atom Syndication.

Amarok Atom Syndication Reader is fine for knowing what I have been recently playing on my Amarok, but enlarging the list does not make it look neat, so in the end, I am just showing the latest 7 entries of my play-list.

I wanted to have a look of what I have been recently playing with a glimpse of an eye. So, I thought of the convenience of tag clouds and came up with the idea of an artist/band cloud. Pretty easy, grabbing the Atom xml file of my recent tracks played, grab nodes by tag name, count them, assign them an style depending of their relevance and fill up the html view via DOM.

Every band links to Seeqpod. I find it very useful at work when I do not know what to listen to, I grab the list, peek at what I listened to the day before (lately I tend to tune tag radios), and create a playing list in Seeqpod.

domingo, mayo 11, 2008

I failed at ADC...oh no!!!

So, finally the so-longed Android Developer Challenge results come up and unfortunately I failed :P. It was not a big surprise for me honestly, since I never expected to win. Being active on the forums and chat channels for the last couple of months were sufficient for me to know the bar will be too high to get qualified for the next round (and win the 25,000 USD btw)

However, I got fun developing my little application. Developing something with a goal was a clever way to learn the platform. For those who may not know what I am talking about, Android is a new OS (based on Linux) from Google for mobile devices (mainly mobile phones). Likewise Linux, it is open source, which means anybody can get the source (although is hasn't been published yet, that'll happen when v1.0 come out), modify it, customize it, fix it, etc. Developing is made in Java and together with the programming language there is a whole framework which the developer interacts with.

Developing in Android is quite fast (specially if you avoid using Eclipse and go for the de-integrated developing environment approach, in this case, vim & ant). Android framework relies on 4 key concepts:
  • Views, user interface
  • Activities, the logic to be performed
  • Actions, the thing to be done
  • Intentions, the way activities communicate each other
There are also Services, which maybe consider a kind of Activity without an UI.

The Android platform is supported by the Open-Handset-Alliance, or OHA. The OHA encompasses teleco companies, handset manufacturers, and content-providers all having in common the mobile handset market.

In my opinion, with this strategy Google is trying to accomplish the following goals:
  • Neutralize the mobile business by making it vendor independent
  • Being searching and advertisement its main sources of income, Google needs to open new channels of communication and strength its position there. There are 1000 million internet connection worldwide, but 3000 million mobile handsets. Soon those 3000 million phones will be 3000 million smart-phones. The internet goes mobile.
  • By making mobile software development easier, Google tries to follow the same road as the web. Although writing Android apps is not as easy as writing a HTML page, Android states closer to the pro-am (professional- amateur) principle than other platforms. Almost anybody will be able to write applications for Android. That will bring lots of crap, for sure, but also innovation.
About my app, it is a purikura application for mobile phones, surprisingly called MyPurikura. Have you ever wander what to do with the pics you take on your phone? Well, one thing you could do is decorate them and make them funnier by adding icons, catch-phrases, etc. Purikuras are small photo stickers very popular in Asia. Applications like this have already started to spring up in Japan (where mobile innovation is actually happening) [1]

Although it needs some bug-fixing and code refactoring, I prefer to release it now. I know how these things work, if I delay it till got something that truly satisfy me, I will be postponing it till the end of time. It may be useful for somebody today, although I plan to carry on developing it in the next weeks.

Lastly, I may need some warm-hearted person who enjoys drawing and would like to contribute with new cute icons. Please contact me if you are interested!

Purikura power!!

[1] Graffiti Photos: Expressive Art in Japanese Girls' Culture

More on Amarok Atom Syndication

Finally, after a couple of weeks of hard work I managed to tune up Amarok Atom Syndication and release a new version (V0.2.0).
Amarok Atom Syndication lets you share your music taste with your friends by syndicating (Atom file format) the music you are currently listening to the net.

It uses Google Page Creator to store Atom files.

In combination with a web aggregator you can consume, later on, this file and let your friends know what tracks you have been recently playing in Amarok.
Amarok is popular music player for KDE (GNU/Linux OS). On this version, I added a flash new GUI setup menu. No longer edit and setup text files, which seemed a nuisance for non-experienced users. A GUI interface is something I was longing for a long time ago. While we are still waiting for the perlqt-bindings for QT4.0, I used the perlqt-bindings for Qt3.0.

In the run that has been from the 0.1.0 release to this one, I have been basically polishing code and fixing bugs, thanks specially to some users who gave me feedback. I think that's key part for an open-source project, since most of them start as a need for scratching your own itch, feedback makes software evolve and mature, turning in something useful for other users.

At this moment, I think there are little features I could add to AAS in the future, since this project is quite small and the functionality it tries to comply is clearly defined. So, for the future I just expect to keep on fixing bugs (when reported), and once the code becomes pretty stable release a definitive 1.0 version.

Related links:

martes, mayo 06, 2008

Five days in Germany

April has gone away without no post, and that breaks my custom of posting something at least once a month. Well, I could always do the tricky thing of re-arranging the date, but well, this time I prefer to be fair, shame on me!

It seems that some of my fans were starting to get sick of this thing of the Tibetant conspirancy on the post before (it has been on top quite a long time, hehehe), and asking urgely for some new stuff to feed their minds. Well, finally it seems that the Chinese government is willing to sit down in conversations with the Dalai Lama (I am afraid to think is just facade), which is always great news, but more importantly I had spent the last five days visiting Servando in Frankfurt...which are even much better news xD.

I got to Frankfurt on Thursday afternoon, via Oporto. My flight was early in the morning, and that forced me to get up even earlier. Never had driven to Oporto airport - Sa Carneiro -, so I preferred to be plenty of time, just in case. Actually, it was easier than I expected. The trip takes around 1:30 (130 km), it is all highway down to Oporto, and the toll is around 7,50 €. The signals to the airport are very clear all along the highway.

I was flying with Ryanair, and as everybody knows Ryanair tends to lean for second-line airports (lower taxes, lower fares). My destination was Hans, in Hesse region, from there take a bus down to Frankfurt. The trip costs 12 € and takes 1:45 min. The tickets can be bought at the very end of the terminal in a small counter, or outside, right beside the bus stop.

The bus drop me at the train station, and after a while Servando came to find me. We had a nice time, walking the shopping streets of Frankfurt, enjoying the sights of the skyline and having a stroll, back and forth, along the riverside.

Me and Servando on a brige over the river Main

On my second day I was very much surprised I had already seen it all. To be honest, Frankfurt's old town, which is what tourists are more curious about, is rather small and can be seen in a single day. I skipped the museums, there are more than 40 in Frankfurt, and that would have taken me a very long time xD.

The market plaza, at the very city-core of Frankfurt

Frankfurt is, alike Hong Kong, a financial hub. There you can find the buildings for the European Central Bank, Deutsche Bank, Citibank, and many representative offices and some headquarters of the most well-known financial and industrial brands in the world. I think is rather difficult a skyscraper could really impress you when you had visited or lived in Hong Kong, but is always nice to walk around them, that is something I enjoyed much.

Today Frankfurt is a word-class financial center
At the background, the Commerce Bank, the tallest building in Europe

On the weekend Servando got a plan for me, having party at Cocoon, spending Saturday at Aschaffenburg invited by her cheerful workmate Elena who kindly show us this almost unknown beautiful little town from North-West Bavaria. It really touched my heart and I would fearlessly say it was the best place I visited on this trip, apart from the lively atmosphere and the glad company of her other workmates from Nintendo. I also met her workmate Kitty, born to Hong-Kong parents, I got a chance to put in practice the little and bad-spoken Cantonese I can still remember. Lovely!

The next day, back to Frankfurt and then head for Mainz, walk along the Rhin, had a coffe, chat, make jokes, bitch at times. It was quite relaxed.

The last day I spent it at Heidelberg, regarded as one of the most impressive places of Germany, a must see. Well, it was nice indeed but perhaps I expected more. The ruined castle it really worths a visit on its own, thats true. If you happened to be around the area, I think it is worth.

So in the end, there were five great days to fill up my batteries, see Servando again, which is always worth, and meet wonderful people. I am eager for my next trip!