Friday, December 18, 2009

My real life test

Today I went on the to see some options for a friend who's about to get jobless (independent of their competency, it's a business matter). What I first liked was the way the balaur greeted me with nice personal words, as if indeed it was the lil' dragon addressing to me. Pretty fancy and quite relaxing (not ugly formal), along the good guidelines set by the funky dragon, like, I'm about to change job, I'm stressed enough, it's cool to have a friend talking to me.

It's nice to see that kind of interface for a serious app in Romania, usually the friendly addressing is reserved to party/fun/social websites ("vino sa te distrezi cu noi!"), while the stuff that help you get the job done treat you like some sort of a grandpa ("Aici puteti sa va rezolvati toate problemele existentiale. Inscrieti-va acum!")

Since I had no CV and no interest in a long term experience (I just looked around to checkout the options), I went to the plain search:

I looked around, found a few nice things (as in nice jobs) and I liked the way the balaur showed duplicates so that I don't get emotioned twice for the same job.

Then, knowing that my friend is a bit demanding, I tried to filter by salary amount. I just loved the dragon letting me know that my filtering is messing it all up since very few of the jobs have salary level filled in.

I knew about the nice linkedIn references feature before (showing who are the people on linked in that specify that company as a workplace) but unfortunately I couldn't get it to work tonight...

Not really showcase-of-all-features kinda story, but it's really the first time I needed the balaur, and it does a pretty good job! I admit I never looked on the jobs sites to compare the experience but I like the aggregating balaur, and most specially it's semantic features (filtering, eliminating duplicates, basically helping me a lot with the search).

Great job guys!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

If you're going to Saaan Franciiiisco

As I mentioned in the previous posts, before the GSoC mentors summit, we spent a few days (from thursday noon to friday afternoon) in the beautiful city of San Francisco, "the Europe of the US", they say. Indeed it was nice, we had Starbucks coffee, saw most of the touristy places: Pier 39, Coit tower, walked through the China town, rode the cable car (no pics from there unfortunately), and of course, biked over the Golden Gate bridge.

And, since a picture is worth a thousand words (and this is also a very good excuse), I leave you with exactly thirty four thousands selected words.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Google Summer of Code Mentors Meeting last day

Day 2 at the Google Summer of Code Mentors Summit didn't start to well as I woke up later than I should have. But I recovered well, arrived to Google and, after a Google coffee, went to the day 2 sessions, starting with a half of discussion about how to handle conflict / offensive situations on OS communication channels.

Then, after a talk about project forks with real stories, we had lunch, to continue afterwards with the great "Advanced trolling" session: very funny, with more or less serious advices about how to troll and of course, lots of live trolling (I couldn't tell you the name of the speakers but they just rocked).

To get back to normal, following we had a rather serious and educative conversation about the open source business models, of course, with real life stories, after which a healthy conversation about how to fail a student with grace. It was more towards how to detect early and prevent the situation of a failing student, but we had a few conclusions, the most important being that the student needs to hear the word "fail" as soon as possible, just to know it exists.

Closing session followed, by Leslie wonderful as always, with a list of ways to improve the GSoC. Pretty voted was that we need to go back to the black tshirts. Definitely.

After that, some of the mentors headed to the airports for their homes, and the rest went back to the hotel to sit in the hot tub. It was a fun night, full of enjoyable conversation with (I hope I can mention everybody, because I don't know names nor projects of all the nice OS people we had fun with): Mark and Jorge from Turbogears, Marten and Vincent from Crystal Space, Tobias and Tobias from GCC (yep, they're called the same), Greg from PostgreSQL and Google (who was very nice and drove us to the hotel from Google), Leslie of course (very happy with the hot tub) and the other cool guys whose names I don't know. Ah, I also met the author of the inappropriate email :), at the closing session.

The GSoC mentors summit is very joyful and animating, a very diverse experience, it's great to meet so many people (some of which give the feeling of an "Open Source school") and chat about everything from students strategies to stories from the visa interview.

Now, after a long long day (with a bit of the night in the plane flying towards the day), here we are in Paris, in a short stop on our way home, with me surprised that I managed to finish this post, and that my fingers still listen to me and continue to type.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

If you're going to Saaan Franciiiisco , to the Google Summer of Code Mentors Summit

So the first day of the Google Summer of Code mentors summit is done.

After arriving in San Francisco Thursday at noon and spending Thursday and Friday there -- blog post to come, with pics -- last night we arrived at the Sunnyvale hotel for today's mentors summit. We had a nice (well, tastes are discussable) thai food dinner and met some of the open source folks: John from the Ascend project and a Scottish guy (whose name I don't remember -- Jim?) from a language processing project.

Today we went to Google plex for the first day of the Mentors Summit, saw a bit of where Google people work, ate their food, drank their drinks and snacked their snacks. We've got the mentors yellow shirts -- I start to believe more and more that the whole purpose of this years GSoC was to make people wear ridiculous colors :) -- and had a short cool opening from Leslie Hawthorn and Chris DiBona after which we did the session proposing and scheduling.

Also in the bus this morning we socialized with some nice people from the Fedora project and over coffee we met the other Romanian guy in the mentors gang (at least that's what I know about), Stefan Bucur.

First session we went into was about project hosting, all the platforms out there with their goods and bads, including self hosting.

Then some more thai food and caffeine free coke for lunch in the sun, accompanied by nice flute (?) music from one of the mentors.

After the lunch, we went to the talk about how to make mentoring a continuous activity, with discussions about potential similar programs initiated by OS organizations, and successful stories about motivating students.

Then we went to see how to teach college students to be "hackers" (yeah, I intentionally didn't go to the women in open source talk that was in the same time), how to make them use the real-world tools and how to motivate them, with a successful story from the university of Chicago. With this occasion I discovered that there are a lot of people in this year's summit (maybe in the program in generally) which are part of a university team (teaching, researching, etc).

After a short break, I went to see "pretty pictures": discussion about alternative methods for documentation (image, video, anything non-text), how to produce it and how to stimulate others to. Bottom line is that you need to make your users "ecstatic" about the project so that they feel the need to show it to the world in a screencast :).

Then, the last session of the day was about the relation between the academia world and the open source one, and how nice would it be if all knowledge in the academia would be published and maintained as an open source project.

Now we are back at the hotel and we're gonna have a cool pizza party by the pool. I tried on my mentors shirt over my khaki long-sleeved shirt and it's actually pretty decent. Going out now to amaze everybody with this combination (and eat), and hope to be able to stay up longer than yesterday (I fell asleep at 23, dear me).

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Ubiquity fun (at the Scripting Challenge)

The PSW command I told you about in the previous post was my entry for the Scripting Challenge at the Scripting and Development for the Semantic Web Workshop, which took place on Sunday, in Crete, collocated with ESWC 2009. The challenge idea is to create a < 1000 lines script which uses the Semantic Web to create real-world applications.

I couldn't go there to present it, so I created a screencast / demo to replace my live presentation:

Unfortunately I didn't win, it was the Researchers map that took the prize this year, but I got quite nice feedback (thanks everybody!) and new Twitter friends :). Also, it was very fun from one end to the other: from creating the script, to the paper describing the script, to creating the screencast (interesting experience, long live recordMyDesktop and mencoder) and getting feedback about it almost live on Twitter and Facebook, as the scripts were presented at the workshop and I was home having (late) lunch.

I'm now working on advancing the idea, to also have it a part of my MSc (that's why blogging takes a while, because MSc takes the other whiles in my life :) ).

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Ubiquity fun

And my new Ubiquity command is done!

It's a simple prototype of a semantic search command, using data from semantic data repositories available through SPARQL endpoints to answer user questions like find director of Closer or find author of Parallel Algorithms in dblp and microformats to insert the result in the web page, to preserve the semantic markup of the response when user is editing web document (rich text areas or simple text areas).

Have a look at it on its info.uaic home: (Update: the new 'home' is at since my infoiasi account changed).

It can be heavily improved in terms of data operation, as well as user interface, but it's quite a nice toy.

(I'd love to show you how nice it finds the license of XWiki on dbpedia but somehow my print screen command does not work when Ubiquity is up, and I also need to find out why it fails to load the results when I add it from an extension and register it programatically, but that's gonna be another night...)

Monday, January 26, 2009

I'm going to FOSDEM!

I'm going to FOSDEM, the Free and Open Source Software Developers' European Meeting I'm going to FOSDEM, the meeting for open source and free software developers meeting in Brussels, on the 7-8 february weekend.

I will be there with Marta and Sergiu (not with Marius too, unfortunately), (lightning) talking about XWiki's new GWT WYSIWYG editor we're working on these days (and I am heavily into), on Sunday afternoon in the Ferrer room.

Otherwise I will be wandering around the halls and rooms and talks and workshops of FOSDEM, just like last year, proudly wearing my XWiki tShirt, socializing (!) with geeks and exchanging open source and free ideas with anyone interested.

so, I'm going to FOSDEM. What are YOU doing on the 7-8 february weekend?