Saturday, July 7, 2007

Rendezvous with Namitha

On the way back home i was talking with, Namitha, a journalist from Mumbai. She has been to three other Barcamps and was giving me her thoughts on them.

She brought out some very interesting things like how great a Barcamp is, for startup companies. Well, yesterday we had a couple of presentations about startups itself but the general idea is that they help these companies to get some good,real feedback plus some great ideas and ofcourse showcase themselves. They may even run into some unexploited talent! Plus, they get to meet people from all walks of the IT world, and see how differently the same technology applies to corporate IT ....

She also pointed out that yesterday's Barcamp vas a trifle different from the ones she'd been to earlier since there were strict schedules which was good in a way.

Namitha has also written an article about Barcamps and Namitha if you're reading this, please email it to me :)

Firefox Addons

Firefox is my favorite browser.
And the addons have a huge role to play in this :)

Vinod gave us a lesson in Firefox addons using the RSS Ticker as an example. He has been looking into it for a couple of weeks now. He says that it eats a lot of CPU cycles and this is what caused him to take the addon apart, rectify it and glue it together again!

When you install one of 'em addons, its a web based installation. But if instead you download it, you get a .xpi file which is a regular Zip.The internals of this, is what Vinod showed us.

Additionally, he told us of few other good addons, one being Firebug, something that even i can vouch for. Firebug is an addon that helps ypu debug your Javascript. It is set by default to show errors for the area that holds the page content and not the toolbars area, but this can be changed in the about:config.

So, head to to get your set of addons for firefox!

Mobile Navigation

Hussain strikes again, with a very interesting presentation on Mobile Navigation.

What do you do if you're on your way to a place that you've never been to before and lose your way? Well.. i go to the nearest rickshaw- walla and say "Uncle .. XYZ Peth kahan hai??" which is not so much fun..and Yes, i say Uncle.

So, a great alternative which we learnt about yesterday is this: Get your cellphone out, point at the nearest building, and receive the info about that building and voila! you know where you are again.

This concept can be extended to pointing to Cinema halls and getting their schedules, booking seats, as well as pointing to restaurants and getting to know the menu and reserving a table!

This is done through satellite communication. The necessary computations to give you the building name are done by a powerful server that receives parameters like latitude, longitude, orientation etc from the satellite. Artificial Intelligence concepts are applied to eliminate the unnecessary elements of your surrounding like ponds etc, and to zero down upon your direction of view.

Opening the Pandora's Box with PHP for Web 2.0

This session qualifies as the most interactive session of the day, and once again reminds us that the developer's world is so adorned with a multitude of options to do the same thing.

Well here, it was about PHP as against the J2EE stack, or .NET platform. Anuj Amit, the speaker's claim to PHP's web 2.0 fame was that the setup to host a PHP web application is less costly in terms of space.

I am totally PHP ignorant. But, this discussion, is rather enlightening since there are views that are poles apart. People are for the J2EE stack, specially for large complex applications and say that PHP can serve the smaller ones well. But the speaker vouches for the opposite, citing the example of Flickr.

Another dimension is that PHP is very easy to learn so much so that its impossible to judge a person's ability as a developer, basing it solely on PHP.

Also, when a technique is chosen over another, its not only because of the language itself or how cumbersome (or not) it is, but also about the tools that are floating around that help us use it. In this context Java has been around for donkeys years as compared to PHP which gives it an upper hand.

So...big discussion...the organizer actually had to come and control it in terms of time :)

But great! Made me pensive!

Facebook and Ruby on Rails

Facebook is (not) yet another social networking portal, that easily eclipses (ugh!) Orkut.

And this session was about how you would develop a Facebook application, and how you would host it. This was from the perspective of Ruby on Rails. Towards the end we got to see some code. Abhijit, who presented this, has developed his own application for facebook and he had all the right means to edify his audience, but time was short unfortunately.

So what i have gathered is just figments, but what you would like to look at is the developers section of facebook.

I googled this step by step guide-

Facebook has an official Java Library, And some other unofficial libraries of which RoR is one.

A good platform to showcase your ideas.

Flash Widget by Hussain

I really liked this presentation because Hussain made it very comprehendable by restraining himself from the assumption that his audience already knows certain things.
It was clear, simple, to the point and exemplified with a simple yet complete case.

What he essentially explained was what a widget is, what you need to build a simple application and how you'd go about doing it.

What you need would encompass - Adobe Flash & any scripting language which would retrieve some data from a database.

The script essentially, given a parameter, reads the data from the database corresponding to that parameter and returns it to the action script. And this parameter, it gets from the flash widget. For the Actionscript to do this it needs to use a function (to which you pass the url to the script and this parameter-something like a query string) to populate an object with the data from the database. So now you have your data in the Actionscript and you can do whatever you want with it.

To embed a widget in your website, you need a minuscule code that you need to paste, that represents the widget. This code contains the parameter that you need to pass to the Actionscript. In this little code you can restrict the running of the Actionscript behind the code as well as restrict navigation from within the code /widget(incase of a link within the widget for instance)

So all in all, a good concept, well explained and well understood. :)

Friday, July 6, 2007

The Web 2.0 TV Guide

The Web 2.0 TV guide by Rakesh from Codewalla, an endeavor to build a comprehensive e-TV guide for India, is really in its embryonic stages. The idea emerged from a sense of loss of a good TV Guide in India that provided schedules well in advance, provided promos, reviews and basically the works.

It yet has no tie up with any major TV Channels so as to pull this information and make it useful, or to get hold of some promos..
A bunch of ideas that popped up during the presentation were - email/sms alerts for shows, customizing your area with favorites, making the API useful to social networking portals like Facebook(already intergrates similarly with Goodreads and many other things), ratings, reviews, 'what is my friend watching' and allowing users to buy/download shows.

Web 2.0 concepts are very enthralling, and give a whole new dimension to the internet.

The TV Guide, when glued together finally should make some lives simpler. tags