Friday, August 31, 2007

Welcome to the future of TV: Joost



Even if I don't really care for the shows they have right now, I love the glimpse into the future I get when I used them. It took me some time to get an invitation, until I typed in Google yesterday: "joost invitation" and saw a page by Joost and GigaOm and found unlimited invitations.

This is the starting of a new TV era, this is the TV we'll all be watching a few years from now the most. Really interactive TV on demand with real time community interaction. Hopefully in the future it'll run out of the web or a standard client app. I don't appreciate the download which also requires installing DirectX 9c but it was still worth trying. I'm not sure it works worldwide ...

Thursday, August 30, 2007

RSS Readers and comments


I'm very puzzled (and frustrated too) that RSS Readers don't handle blogs comments.
I found a post from year 2003 talking about this issue and 4 years later there doesn't seem to be any solution out there. Like this post explains the problem is not totally trivial but it shouldn't be rocket science either.

Maybe I'm missing something but I wonder how does everybody handle following up on comments or post discussions they're interested on.

I only saw a tool like commentful.com but it seemed to be so out of my way to have to go to some other site or get bunchs of emails for something that is meant to be native on the reader ...

Genexus Map User Control


I've been playing before with the Google Maps API to implement the equivalent of twittervision around the world. Eventually, as it wasn't top priority, I got busy with something else and I didn't quite finish playing with it.

Today just by chance I ended up reading about the GeneXus Map User Control and I was thinking on giving it a try. As our whole development is all 9.0 right now, I have to evaluate if it's easier and/or more fun to try this in Rocha or finish playing with the Google API code ;)

When I heard about extensibility of Genexus Rocha by extensions and user controls I instantly had a glimpse of the unlimited potential it would have. Nevertheless, I have to admit that once I start seeing real controls and extensions out there it kind of gets to a whole new level. Now I know, how much the quality of GX developments are going to change as the regular developer will be benefiting of all sorts of goodies.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

From macro information to mini information


This as you can already suspect is my attempt to explain why I'm becoming lazier reading whole books ;)

When I started thinking about it my first attempt on explaining it was: I love the ideas not necessarily the books (this is specially true for some engineer written books). After that first thought I had some associations with instant messaging and micro-blogging. That's how I came out with this theory:

It's a pretty accepted truth that the space-time keeps accelerating for humans as technology brings as closer in space-time through improved traveling and communications. Our today's ADD described society keeps finding more ways of making "synapses" (abusing of the word to describe information exchanges).

We go from long hand written letters mailed (to start somewhere) to emails. And we go from emails to instant messaging. At the same time we go from whole books to papers and then to blogs and from there to micro-blogs (like twitter). Of course all the previous technologies don't vanish immediately, they just loose adepts over time until they're obsolete although they might still exist in some Earth pockets.


The idea is that as we are more communicated and inter-connected we don't need to share all at once the "whole mind status" (I'd call it macro-info for lack of a better word) as in a book but we rather do more frequent micro information exchanges that allow us to integrate our own mind status with the incoming flow of information from another mind status.

I believe this tendency will continue for a long time now, until we become better at sharing each other's minds through technology all at once in a meaningful way, I guess through communication standards and maybe a more formal language conventions or going in a completely different direction through algorithms that can somehow convert from my meanings to your meanings and vice versa (this means machines that fully understand semantics and brain operation and can communicate from one to the other). Once we mastered this kind of technology we would probably see the future-time equivalent of books come back in a very expectable leap as evolution often likes to have.

I tried to find a biological parallel in the human brain having stronger/longer synapses for a baby brain than an adult one but couldn't find any ... although I'm thinking of a person that might know ...

Wow, I'm impressed on all it took to relieve the guilt caused by the pile of books in my night stand ...

My Sony, Vista and me


It took me good couple months but I finally got stabilized with Vista and my super love for my portable Sony emerged as the flowers do when you take out the weed. This powerful little one with a 13.3 screen seems to be the most perfect size/weight in my history of notebooks. I don't even want to think of my previous super heavy dell despite having lost almost half of my resolution ...

I really only have couple things that don't want to run in Vista, like the SonicWall Gateway client for VPN (they have a beta and I use logmein), some CrypKey software we use for license generation and that's about it.


In addition I am having no issues with the applications that do run. The machine is being great at hibernating and waking up really fast and unharmed, which for me is a #1 priority in my notebook. The only exceptions are maybe when I tried to print in a network printer and sometimes skype giving me the funny message "Skype take a deep breath is not working" (although given Skype's behavior lately can't really blame it on Vista).

I know a lot of people and companies are talking about downgrading nowadays including FSJ as Alejandro notes in his post but all I can say is that we are a totally happy threesome at this point!!

update: sony totally sucks on the batteries side ... dell was so unbelievable superior in this one aspect (I bought the optional long duration battery for my previous dell), also in the power adapter as they had the optional mini power adapter that is worth buying.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Hover Panel GeneXus User Control


Fabian Bonilla sent me information on the Hover Panel GeneXus User Control he developed for GeneXus to solve the issue we were talking about in a previous post.

The results are exemplified in the image to the left here and it's as easy as having a web panel and adding the Hover Panel control into a GX Form and setting some simple properties viewed in the image to the right here as well, such as the image name for the original image to expand, url of the object that will do the bubble expansion and title and positioning information.


Fabian seems to have considered very well the next steps for his control which are to use relative positioning of the bubble, design improvements on the bubble and extend to other types of controls beyond images.



On this same subject, Gabriel Medina sent me documentation on his GXWebResources KB, another approach to similar subjects including a bubble implementation very similar to the Hover Panel Control and Ajax Tabs that worked really cool. This KB will become very handy specially for 9.0 developments as Rocha might go more with the user control extensions.



I'm super busy these days with couple GeneXus projects and multiple non-GeneXus ones, including Adobe (ex-Macromedia) Director Xtras implementation talking to hardware and software that keep it fun as well so I couldn't really play with extensions and user controls yet as I'd like to. We're currently using GeneXus 9.0 and we decided to go with Flash instead of ajax and DHTML as our resources profile made it easier go that way and the graphic result we got was closer to what we wanted. We'll re-evaluate in some time as using Flash has its advantages and its drawbacks soon to be discussed here ;)

Anyway, I loved this little user control and its simplicity as well as the GX community response.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

GeneXus and ajax descriptions ajax panes


It would be really cool if GeneXus could provide a feature where a control in a form or grid could have an associated description pane with a description field and possibly image that would appear ajaxed on mouse over.

It could be implemented in a similar to the Suggest feature with a simple selection of description and image attribute or point to another GX webpanel optionally.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Books confession ...


I've got one confession to make:

I find it extremely hard to finish reading a book from beginning to end. If I think about it, all the books I could finish in the last n years are novels, which I don't do much except for The Da Vinci Code of the moment.

Books keep popping up into my bookcase and night stand but after the initial excitement and even after blowing my mind with some ideas in a book it looks like it's enough for me of it, I jump to the next thing. I assumed for a long time that this was a consequence of me not having enough time to spend reading after work/family hours, but lately I started to think that the problem is more on the side of all the other stuff that is competing with books in my spare time. Namely the computer, particularly the internet with blogs, news, emails. Also some TV, although I mostly only watch some news, documentaries, HBO and DVDs I get from Netflix (now with the great 'Watch now' feature, only IE enabled, not available outside US either). Also magazines, I read Time and Wired consistently and eventually Scientific American.

I still love to buy books and have them, and occasionally I get to browse through them with this great memories and inspiration come backs.

Anyway, I thought of sharing this confession on the net and possibly getting the pulse of others on this subject.

From now on, I'll start blogging about the books I started reading as I never could get to blog about the ones I read ;)

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

3 to 5 yrs old's Mc Donalds mania


I wasn't surprised today when I read about a study published by SciAm that confirmed what we all suspected: Kids prefer carrots that come out of McDonald's bags... even though McDonald's doesn't sell carrots. Every time my 3.5 yrs old hears the name McDonalds it's like music to her ears. For the older ones I think the irrational craving can be managed with some argument about health or what have you, but it seems like preschoolers are targeted at that early age bluntly and they absorb 100% of it ...

Personally, I can't believe it when I see the amount of exposure to ads that kids get when they watch cable kids channels. I even thought more than once that it should be illegal to advertise on kids channels ... but of course that would be like trying to hide the sun with your finger ... among other things, placement ads would take over and they could be even more powerful.

I guess it's just part of the world we live in, but I like studies like this one that at least open people's eyes to all that us as parents need to overcome with education at home.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Fingerprint reader is my "Sci-Fi now" reminder


I can't wait for the moment the use of biometric devices becomes mainstream.

There exist a variety of biometric measurements depending on the solution. Purely biometric: fingerprints, facial recognition, iris scan, retinal scan, hand geometry, vascular patterns, DNA. Others more behavioral: speaker recognition, signature.

Particularly in the short term I personally love fingerprint readers. I use one at home so anybody in the family can reach their own windows profile in a shared computer we have always on. In my notebook I happen to have it built-in as well and I use it mostly for windows login as Firefox does a pretty good job remembering my web site passwords. I force myself to use the one in my notebook (even if it'd be faster sometimes to type in my key) as a way to remind myself of this technology. In addition I love the sensation of having my body providing information to the computer, it's my daily reminder that we need to invent new science fiction because the one we grew up with is mostly happening now.

I understand the concerns as far as security goes, nobody wants to end up with a chopped finger or poked eye just to save a few key strokes, but I am convinced we need to go in that direction and there are some hybrid alternatives that make a lot of sense to me.

Wouldn't it be nice to walk/drive into an ATM and instead of having to have the physical card you could just stick your finger in a reader? Then you could just use your pin number as you do today.

Yesterday I was at a INS office getting my biometrics for my green card process. As they had me some minutes doing the digital lecture of my fingerprints I got to amuse myself with the software which seemed pretty cool. It even would let the attendant know when there was too much/little moisture. It'd show a score for the reading, mine was around 69-75% but I was relieved to know the attendant never saw something greater than 75 ... I wonder on those scores calibration but anyway ...

The software is out there, the hardware is super cheap, I think the key is the hybrid solution. When people think of biometrics they tend to think of a one for all solution where you get rid of users and passwords and really just replacing user id in a lot of the critical cases like ATM would make much more sense.

My fingers are ready, anyway they're the ones that know most of my passwords today :)