Android – open source mobile platform

Engadget covers Adroid – Google’s open source mobile platform.  With pictures and videos.  I was very impressed and interested after the first video.  By the second one I almost had a nervous breakdown – it’s so cool.

There were plenty of talks about gPhone lately.  People were speculating how cool the device would be, and how it will line up with Apple’s iPhone, and things like that.  Once again Google was above the expectations.  Instead of just another device with some nifty features, it delivered a whole new world.  Hardware, SDK, documentation, and application stack… They even appeal to developers to start playing with the platform (instead of jumping around like a crazy monkey they allocated $10,000,000 USD to reward developers of the most innovative applications).

The system seems to be sweet on every level.  There is plenty of hardware power.  Optional 3D acceleration.  Touch screens.  GPS.  And more.  The operating system is Linux based.  The core things are implemented in C and C++, which gives it this extra bit of robustness.  The upper level is very much Java oriented, which, if I want it or not, is a very popular and powerful programming language used by many developers.  With this, I suspect, the quantity and quality of applications will blossom.

The system is built with expansion in mind.  It’s pluggable on every level, and although complex and with many components, is pretty easy to understand conceptually.

With Android being released and hardware catching up, I believe we are entering a new age of computing.  Mobile devices and networks will be the primary commercial development focus for the next few years.  And, although being far from the mobile industry, I am very very exciting for these times to come.  Even if just a user…

Traces of digital revolution

The digital world is upon us.  Everybody knows it and nobody ever argues with it anymore.  But that’s too general.  What is actually changing?  What are the specific examples?   Today I came across one, while catching up with Slashdot news.  Here is a quote from the post:

 “An inspired professor at University of Washington-Bothell, Martha Groom, made an interesting pedagogical experiment. Instead of vilifying Wikipedia as some academics are prone to do, she assigned the students enrolled in her environmental history course to contribute articles. The result has proven “transformative” to her students. They were no longer spending their time writing for one reader, says Groom, but were doing work of consequence in a “peer reviewed” environment, which enhanced the quality of their output.”

If you read through the comments to the post, there are many insightful thoughts too.  Here is one of those that I liked (apart from the age criteria):

Wikipedia should be output, not input, for students past a certain age. It gets them used to writing for real people as opposed to just for getting graded, it gives them the experience of having their writing edited by people of varying abilities, and it gives them motivation for doing research. Another, easier, option would be to assign students to correct Wikipedia articles.

Another comment mentions that this is not by far the first time that this happens.  It conveniently links to the page with more examples of school and university projects.

fd’s Flickr Toys

Maxim calendar: January 2006

For the last few days I’ve been playing with fd’s Flickr Toys. It is an excellent set of simple applications that allow one to utilize a tremendous collection of images – Flickr – in a totally new way.

Basically, you can choose any image from Flickr and easily transform it into magazine cover, billboard picture, inspiration frame, calendar picture, stamp, etc. There are plenty of transformations available and they are really easy to use – just a couple of mouse clicks.

If you are a registered Flickr user, there are even more options for you. There are some games available, like, for example, the one for naming your contacts – you are shown a picture made by one of your contacts and given a choice of three options. You also get an option of uploading resulting images directly to your photostream.

Check this one out – it can grab your attention for some time.

P.S.: I liked some results so much that I’ve uploaded them to my Flickr account. You can see them all here (tagged with “fdsflickrtoys”). There are many picture transformations done by other Flickr users too. You can find them all here.

Russian climbing – MUST SEE!

One of the things that I’ve been saying for as long as I can remember is that it is always interesting and exciting to watch a person do something he is good at. And your interest in the subject is irrelevant – it’s all about how that person does it and that only. And ‘it’ can be anything. OK, maybe with few small exceptions, but those don’t count.

Another thought that I support, but always try to avoid is that in order to be good at something, all you need is strong will and a lot of effort. Equipment, financial injections, and stuff like that can only slow you down.

In support of these two ideas, I offer you the link to a video – Russian climbing.

It is a pretty long download and will last for only 8 minutes, but YOU ABSOLUTELY HAVE TO SEE THIS! Actually, you might have seen something similar in Jackie Chan movies, but who believes the cinema these days? Jackie Chan is doing what he is doing for the movies and he uses a lot of trained professionals and equipment to achieve the effect.

In this clip though, you’ll see guys doing some really amazing things without any equipment what-so-ever. Really, really cool stuff!