Thursday, November 13, 2008

Google Talk has Voice Chat... NOT

As you probably all have already found out, Google has launched voice & video chat from GTalk.

Here's what a friend got when he discovered it and, excited by this great news, tried to share it with me:


Sunday, September 7, 2008

Wrong operating system?

I love this world: I love the new software and technology launches, the fuss around new services and new applications, the way we use technology, the way we combine it, etc. I start thinking that I'm living the best possible worlds and sometimes I feel so surprised and somehow proud of being contemporaneous and partially part of this.

This week brought us, among so many others, Chrome (the oh-so-talked-about Chrome) and the new Picasa (namely 3) + Picasa web . Nice stuff from google, cool things to play with.
Today I wanted to install the new Picasa and, of course it is not available for Linux, yet. Not to mention that Chrome is only available on Windows. Not to mention how much did I wait for Picasa 2.7 with (finally!) upload to web albums for Linux and how thrilled I was to have it this spring.

And I could mention such a long list of applications following the same pattern...

With so many cool applications available on Windows and Mac and the application developers completely ignoring Linux users, I found myself wondering today: am I using the wrong operating system for my software needs? I mean, maybe the type of user I am, the software I need and the way I use my computer in conjunction with the web is not the stuff that a Linux user would do, or what Linux is made for. It's not about not knowing or not wanting, I can tweak stuff, I can hack my Linux system, sometimes I get too involved in trying to make a webcam work or fixing sound / network / etc drivers problems, etc but I might be too social (wtf other would I need a photo management program for?) or too "trendy" for a Linux (wtf other would I want Chrome for?)

But still, I am using Ubuntu (8.04!), the Linux for girls ;) and given its popularity I should have more!

Yeah, I know my problem is obsolete in the context of the web operating system (or whatever the name of the concept is) but still, some doubts darken my clear skies of hope: Chrome on Linux? Firefox on Linux at the same level as for other OS? Plugins?

Don't get me wrong, I love my operating system, I love its openness, I love its freeness, its ubiquity (being able to have it everywhere just the same and for the same 0 charge) but I'm wondering whether we're the right one for each other.

I understand it's all about money and business (why the hell would application developers write Linux versions of the applications when Linux OSs users are so few (supposedly) and can wait anyway since they use a free operating system and should not expect too much from life because they don't pay?) but I just wish we lived in a (more) perfect world...

Saturday, August 30, 2008

XWiki at Infoeducation

A couple of weeks ago took place the Infoeducatie computer science camp, and XWiki was there, to do a teaser presentation about our platform. I went there with Jerome and Thomas, who was visiting the Iasi office at that time. Although it's been happening for a while and it is the place to be for computer highschool students, I didn't go to the Infoeducation camp ever as a student, but fortunately I grew up to get there as a 'lecturer'.

Our "host" all through the days was Vlad Giurcanu, my computer science teacher from highschool who was there with his (successful) team of students.

We spent two days at the camp, its last two days (it's something around 6 days) and got the strong taste of the computer science at Galaciuc during the Infoeducation camp (in the very nice romanian mountains). We met a lot of interesting people and some of the smart kids there -- it is a very nice place to find out things, to have IT discussions and the crowd there is a very nice gang to hang around. I only wish I did this kind of things earlier...

Then, after the camp, we took a very detoured way home: we crossed the mountains towards Brasov to have lunch with my sister there (who was on holidays from Bucuresti), and to there, we went through Tg Secuiesc and to the Sf. Ana lake. After meeting my sister (I resaw her for the first time after returning from France therefore somehing around 6 months) we took the road back to Barlad through Oituz and Onesti. Vlad drove all this time, in his own very particular way of doing it, yet safe (I did live to write this post).

From Barlad, we, the Iasi guys, took the train to get to work next day, after a tiring weekend but very, very, very nice. And since the pictures (and maps) are worth another 1000 words, here you go: Thomas's and Vlad's (1 and 2) pictures from the camp, and a map I've created.

One year at XWiki

and also my first year in a job.

While waiting for my soup to boil, I tried to write this post that I've been wishing to write for a while. Somewhere after two paragraphs of writing into it, I realized that it's dangerous, I won't do it, it won't be. Even with all my "artistic talents" I cannot mask it (or I'm too lazy to do it). Even if it would be nice to have an anniversary blog post in which to do a recap of the last year, it won't happen.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Amsterdam, baby!

This weekend, since it was kindof my last weekend in this side of Europe, I decided to go to the place I haven't been to and I would really want to go (within a cost margin, of course). I tell you, it was a tough choice, especially as some France cities sounded very tempting.
I decided to go to Amsterdam, too see a little piece of Holland and bigger piece of "the vice city".
So far it's a very nice place, a very nice country (tuliiiips, windmiiiiiiils, wodden shoeeees and coooooows), too bad they ruined the city with the sexturism and narcoturism.

And since a picture is worth a thousand words, and this is also a pretty good excuse for me to stop writing, I leave you with the pictures. Enjoy!

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Friday, June 20, 2008

Microformats dinner at Strasbourg

Since microformats are turning 3 today (their day, the american 20th june), and all the fans in the world should celebrate it properly, let's do it:

Microformats dinner @ Strasbourg,
on Saturday, 21 june 2008, 20:00 CET,
at Fondu d'Art, 48 rue du Jeu d'Enfants, 67000, Strasbourg, France

Comment this post or direct message or reply me on twitter if you plan to come.

I should mention that the place I chose is supposed to have WiFi so you can also "register" for a remote dinner!
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ICEIS 2008

And so I'm back from ICEIS. I should be doing my work right now envisioning the planned release tomorrow (XWiki Watch 1.0 RC1 will be out these days) but I just thought to share some thoughts about the conference:
Very nice international experience, also national: met a lot of people from various countries working on very interesting projects, heard way too many accents my English receptor can take and also (re)met the people back home: Oana and Diana which I already knew and some other people from Bucharest and Cluj.

The value (in my personal system) of the papers presented varied from 2-3 to 9-10 (on a 0-10 scale). Too many threads (4-5 I think) and, at one point, badly distributed papers in the threads.

Pretty good keynote lectures, as much as I could follow, although some of them a little deviated from the announced topic...

VERY BAD WiFi: nice advertised Wireless and Wired internet connection but none of them working before 5-6 in the evening. The organizers blamed the scalability of the system (which was the hosting hotel's system) but I still think they should have tested it before and make sure everything works fine.

(Re)Met Alina and met Toni who helped us get around in Barcelona. Re-met Dennis and faught a lot on open source vs non-open source software, business and principles (I am so teasable, should fix that).
Met Carlo with whom we had a lot of fun (yet another example of how cultural barriers are no barriers at all).

Finally, visited Barcelona, on bad (unfortunately) weather and not so much time to do it. Nice town, modern in some places and old in others (fewer), always in construction. Very "party-town", kind of dirty, full of youngsters, people selling beer on the streets, bars full at 3 o'clock in the morning on the Ramblas. Food on that side of the world is good (pretty much fish so I cannot not like it) and pretty cheap compared to other places in the world (e.g. France or Italy).

Thanks to all the people who made this possible for me: Sabin for all the encouragement and support with the paper, the university for sending me in Erasmus exchange so that I'm closer to Barcelona, all the people that put up with my mess while working for all this and the guys that payed various taxes for me that I could not with my lousy stupid credit card: Marta and Ludo.

Now let the pictures speak (some more will come, once I get them from their owners):

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Saturday, May 24, 2008

Look, ma, no code!

I read the other days an article about a guy that devised a method to turn off the lights in his bedroom by tweeting about it. My mind immediately started flying towards writing Jabber protocol extensions for communicating with the fridge, the washing machine, the dvd player or the heating system. E.g. "coming home with a girl / guy" on the home group would trigger synchronized actions: heat a little up, cooling wine (only if it's white), start slow music, etc, etc. Since it works for Twitter it would definitely work for Jabber, on both ends: the sender and the home appliance implementation: it's just the same thing (same 80, same plain text, same openness). Jabber also feels more like the right way to implement it: its extension mechanism can allow from a simple text message (which you could actually send without extensions) to sophisticated any-purpose structured data, all thanks to XML almighty. Actually I start to wonder right now if that does not exist already, it seems so clean and cool and not even rocket science.

It was no earlier than today that I asked myself: ok, then WHY didn't the guy (or anybody) do it for Jabber? It's obviously a better choice. But it isn't as simple as Twitter. Jabber is a heavy protocol, although open and everything, there still are 2 (or 7, if you want to be strict) RFCs about it. Yeah, a lot of libraries come to save us from reading them but still, library? look, on Twitter I can only do it with a simple regexp! ("Look, ma, no code!"). It hit me that this might be the explanation for all the "twitter hysteria": not the need for social interaction (bla, bla), the need for microblogging in an ever time constrained world, the need of accessibility in the increasingly mobile world or whatever, just its simpleness. And it's no surprise, in the end: all the right things in life are simple.

Definitely something to remember, if we happened to forget it, for the next world changing application we design!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Software doesn't matter?

The kid published tonight a post in which he stated that the software doesn't matter, it's the final result that people achieve with the software that does matter and that software will not make things happen if users are not set up to so good software's main quality is not being in the users way towards their goal.

While I very much agree with the first part, there are some things I would put in a different light for the second.

Indeed, nowadays software is just a tool (like almost everything in the world, actually): no one makes software for the software, or maybe some computer scientists in some laboratory -- that's the main difference between computer science and software and that's why I love the latter. We build software to help people do something, as good as we can, as good as they can: we give our best to create the best software we can to help people take maximum advantage of their possibilities.

And now we get to the second part: is the software that does not stand in your way the best software?

On one hand:
Is your friend that never criticize you your best friend? If we look at the question with user eyes, yes, it's most of the times like that: regular users generally don't have a particular attraction to learning new things and dealing with "the damn computer" or "the stupid software". I say that the software has to have an opinion, its purpose is to show the user "the good way" into computers and to help him getting better and better every day (remember, as good as they can), even against his/her will.
Our job is to really implement "the good way", to make sure our software does not create bad user habits or doesn't cultivate them, au contraire. There are situations when we have to take risks, we have to implement the good way even if everybody will hate us for it (that sounds so socially familiar) and nobody will use the software hence we'll get no money -- like persisting in caring for web standards when users use the browser that doesn't implement them . It might pay off at one point in the future, in which case we'll take the pride (and money) of being amongst the chosen few pioneers, it might not.

On the other hand:
Building a software that just doesn't stay in the way of it's users , isn't it a little too low for an aim? Why just that when we can do more? Yes, we start with that as a basis, always, we need to sell our software, people have to love it but let's set our minds to amaze them, user just satisfaction should be at the other end of the feature list. Why not propose to make the user fall in love with the software and do things he had never done before and go places he had never gone before?  (that sounds socially familiar, again) Achieving this is a challenge, we have to take it and use it as a doorway to slip into our souls, both as users and developers, the joy of going beyond what we used to call "our limits".

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Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Perfect Office Setup

Because the kid provoked me and because I've been here for a while and I thought it would be nice to offer some insight (read pictures) about how I live, here you go, my perfect office setup:

Version "school cafeteria setup around the only power source in the stupid place for which students fight eachother":

you can notice the lunch, the drink, the healthy part of the lunch sitting on a used napkin (used for explaining some code to a faculty colleague) and, of course, the big star: "the pig".

Version "in my room in the campus, the clean edition":

starring, in the order of appearance: devil tail, headphones (because have a hunch that my neighbours don't like my music that much), the booting pig in whose display you can notice the reflection of the cracked window (I swear it wasn't me), empty pill box, pens here and there, XWiki cup with some coffee left from this morning resting on the useless "Master de Sciences Mention Informatique. Livret pedagogique" (actually it's very good for resting the cup on, that's what I use it for), the lamp whose role is only to make me look like a smart hardworking student, used napkins, some mix of wires (cell phone cable, webcam, cam cable, small headphones, maybe some stuff I can't identify) mixed with a couple of cigarettes choco (left from the revision before exam I had the afternoon and night before), pills blister (again), knife (you never know when you need one), paper handkerchiefs pack, mobile phone, used subway tickets (from Paris, I hope -- I have a subscription for the Strasbourg transportation for 2 months now), some papers (I think it's actually important stuff written on), important papers plastic envelope, napkin roll.

There is also the "in class not paying attention to teacher" version and the "in bed" version for which I don't have pictures.

So, what's your perfect office setup?

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

I got naked

Let me see you stripped! – Rammstein, Stripped

As proposed by the CSS Naked Day Initiative, I got naked today: my blog has (almost – because Blogger is a little shy when it comes to it) no styles, for the evening of April 9th and the following night!

Dare to get naked too!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Soup blog

This weekend I am visiting Marta and Sergiu in Lille, in the short French Easter break.
We spent today visiting the city, through the rain, so that our visit degenerated into shopping at one point: sweets, iPod (yeeey, I got a Shuffle), music, films...

One of the planned things for this weekend was to cook a 'ciorbă rădăuţeană' (Rădăuţi soup) with Sergiu and maybe, Marta, but with some restrictions: use french ingredients, don't use meat, use fish instead (not that bad though) so we came up with a new one (we ALL contributed to it), which I share with you – remember that it's derivated from the great "ciorbă rădăuţeană":

XWiki Geek Soup Lilloise

Ingredients (for 4 portions):
- 2 medium carrots
- 1 medium to large parsnip
- 1 medium celery root
- 1 medium onion
- 1 kg salmon
- 2 eggs
- 0.25 l sour cream
- vinegar
- salt, chervil, dill, garlic
- 3 hungry geeks


Husk the carrots, parsnip, celery and onion, cut them in large pieces, and boil them in a pot in approx 2.5 litres of water. DO NOT put salt at this point ("Patientia est mater sapientia"). When the veggies are half boiled, add the skinless salmon cut in large pieces (you should have the 1 kg in 3-4 pieces).
When all these are boiled, remove from heat, take the salmon out, remove the bones and cut it into smaller pieces (about the size of a nut). In the mean time, blend (or mash through any other method) the veggies in the hot water. You can choose the quantity of veggies to use for this operation dependent of the final aimed consistency of the soup. Put the minced salmon back in the pot and place it back over low heat.
Add salt as you consider suited. Add between 4 and 8 table spoons of vinegar, depending on the desired sourness and stir them well into the soup. You can also add some garlic too, preferably pieces (3) but if you don't have, powder is good as well, or you can leave it to the choice of the user.
Personal advice for the brave adventurers who will attempt to reproduce the Easter Lille miracle: TASTE the soup all through this spicing process, don't just follow my instructions, use your own better judgement and taste (remember Ratatouille? Anyone can cook!)
Stop heat and let it cool for the time you execute the next and final step: whisk eggs with a little bit of salt together with the cream and then stir it into the soup. Scatter chervil and / or dill on top of it, and let it cool to eatable temperature.

Your masterpiece is now done, bon appétit!

This recipe is available under Creative Commons.

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Saturday, February 16, 2008

@ Strasbourg II

Finally, no more Romulus blogging, McDonalds dinners and hanging out on the schools hallways: I am connected with the world wide web from my room but that means that now I'm working all day and don't have time to blog anymore...

In the mean time, I took some more pictures of the city, walked around, did some more papers and even got to school (the thing that looks like a UFO) in the Parc d'Innovation d'Illkirch. The stuff look simple for now, I understand something around 50% of what my teachers say and realize that I already knew that stuff (maybe the new things are in the parts I don't understand). My classmates are ok but we're very few girls in classes, of course (I should have expected that when I left home but I forgot to)

So it's vacantion right now (fr school rules, we just started and we're already in vacation) and I take advantage of this to code a little, then go visit the XWiki office in Paris and then go to FOSDEM next weekend.

So, overall, besides feeling a little lonely and lost sometimes, it is all ok (I have internet hence I have all my friends with me) and I only expect better!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

@ Strasbourg -- blogging from "le Romulus"

Yesterday I arrived in Strasbourg and, after a very interesting orientation phase to find the university and the campus (I'm really good at it, u know, I just can't get lost in a country that uses latin alphabet -- I proved myself that yesterday) I got my ULP student card and room in campus. Unfortunately, no internet in my room yet so I'll be spending most of my time in wi-fi access restaurants and school libraries (le Romulus is pretty close and they have good tuna sandwich)...
And since I am alone now, with no en-fr speaking companion, I started speaking french (if that thing that I speak can be called french) all day which is an interesting experience...

I don't have too many photos of yesterday since I was both not in the mood and out of batteries but you can still enjoy some french-german city pictures that I took throughout the day:

Monday, February 11, 2008

@ Paris

Today I arrived well in Paris and took an extended walk, thanks to Sergiu and Marta, trying to get everything in one day: la Tour Eiffel, le Dome des invalides, le Louvre, la Cathedrale Notre-Dame, Montmartre (impressive at sunset)

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Sunday, February 10, 2008

I'm leaving today

Start spreading the news
I'm leaving today
I'm gonna be a part of it
Strasbourg, Strasbourg

I will be leaving in a couple of hours for Strasbourg, with a Paris stop tomorrow. I will be there through the whole spring, for my second semester of master studies, at Université Louis Pasteur. While there, I plan a lot of visits all over France: the XWiki office in Paris, Sergiu and Marta in Lille, fosdem (I know that's actually in Brussels, don't worry) , and a little piece of Germany, no matter where.

The non bright side of the story is that I will miss a lot of things from home: my family, my friends and the places (when I left Iaşi today I couldn't believe it was for 5 months!)

And I hope I will manage to make some time for my blog, too, starting tonight!

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